Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Salmon en Papillote

I am all about easy during the week.

The hardest part of this recipe is folding the paper to make the package.

I make this in the morning, and when I come home in the evening, all I have to do is pop it in the oven.

You can use any fish for this, halibut, cod, salmon or sole, and whatever you top your fish with, will make a delicious sauce.
The fish can't dry out and it's a low-fat dinner to boot.

You want to have a big enough piece of parchment paper to hold the fish and vegetables and make a nice fold.

Leeks and asparagus are the perfect spring vegetable to top your fish with.
Go do it.

Salmon en Papillote:

2 pieces of salmon filet (or fish of your choice), 1/2 lb. piece per person is good
2 leeks, washed and sliced, white and light green parts only
bunch of asparagus, trimmed and sliced on the diagonal
kosher salt & pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp dill, dried or fresh
2 slices of lemon per packet
1 tbsp white wine

I like to peel my asparagus, just a personal preference, but it makes a prettier presentation, and who likes those woodsy stems?

Preheat the oven to 450F.

In a bowl, mix the sliced leek with slices of asparagus. Drizzle w/ 2 tbsp of olive oil and season w/ kosher salt & pepper.
I like dried dill for this recipe, so if you are using dried, then add it to the asparagus mixture (if using fresh dill, then wait until the last step to top the fish with).

On a large piece of parchment, lay your piece of salmon down the center of the paper. If you are making individual packets, then make a packet for each filet of fish. Season the fish w/ kosher salt & pepper.

Spoon the asparagus leek mixture over the fish, it's ok if it falls off and around the fish.

Pour a tbsp of white wine over each packet of fish (I make one big piece of fish for the 2 of us).

Lay lemon slices on top and if using fresh dill, now is the time to add in the dill.

Fold the sides of the paper over as if you were making a calzone. Some people use an egg wash to seal the edges, but I do not find this necessary. The paper should stay closed.

Lay the packets on a baking sheet and bake for 12-14 minutes, depending on the size of the filets.

Carefully open the packet and you will have a wonderful piece of flavorful, steamed fish.
The vegetables will be fully cooked and you will have a light sauce to serve over rice!

We love this. It's the perfect spring dinner!


Monday, May 2, 2016

What's for Lunch? Roasted Carrots & Ricotta on Toasts, but of course!

While my mother was making PBJ's or American cheese w/ mustard sandwiches for our school lunchboxes, I never dreamed that I would be making ricotta and carrot sandwiches for a boy named Henry's lunchbox someday.

My how times have changed.

I had leftover gorgeous roasted heirloom carrots from last night's dinner, so why not make open face sandwiches for lunch the next day.
Goodbye PBJ, I never liked you anyway.

Roast whole rainbow carrots on a sheet pan with some olive oil and kosher salt. Dill, rosemary and thyme are nice herbs that go well with carrots.

Roast in a 400F oven for 20 minutes.

Slice the carrots in half and proceed to make your sandwiches.

Spread some fresh ricotta on toasted bread and top with carrots.

Sprinkle w/ toasted pistachios, chopped rosemary and lemon zest.

Drizzle with honey and enjoy!

What's inside your lunchbox?


Friday, April 29, 2016

Spring Random Bites: Fun with Mustard & Avocados!

I was recently invited to Tasting Table's Test Kitchen to try Maille Mustard's new spring flavors.......

Carrot w/ Shallot; Beet w/ Honey; and Olive w/ Herbs de Provence; all from France. These amazing new flavors are my new obsession.

I have been swiping the carrot mustard on avocado toast and anything else I can find.

I roasted carrots recently, and made a dressing w/ the carrot mustard, a tsp of honey and a little olive oil.
Drizzle over the hot roasted carrots........so good!

I made "herring under a fur coat" which is a Russian composed salad with layers of beets, herring, chopped egg and potatoes, but instead of using potatoes, I used avocado!

Dressed with beet flavored mustard & spring chives from my hopeful garden.

Here, I roasted sweet potato wedges and made a Basque mayonnaise to dip.

Lay out sweet potato wedges and sprinkle w/ kosher salt & piment d'espelette (which is a Basque smoked paprika).
Drizzle w/ olive oil and roast in a 400F oven for 30 minutes, turning one time after 15 minutes.

I used Maille piment d'espelette mustard and mixed in equal amounts of Hellmann's mayo. Dab it on the sweets and sprinkle w/ some chopped cilantro and purple sage. These are the best!

So many recipes using these new spring flavored mustards dancing in my head.....

You can order the mustards here at Maille.com.

and last, but definitely, not least. I think I have perfected my avocado rose.
I will be doing a video and showing you how to soon!

Have a great weekend. :)

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Fig Focaccia w/ Onions & Rosemary

Here I am again, baking focaccia.

There is something so satisfying making these wonderful loaves and focaccia breads for me, they are like creating a beautiful piece of art.

Here, I made a sweet focaccia and used a little honey in the dough.

And since it is not fresh fig season here in NJ until August/September, I relied on my trusty dried figs instead, and they came out wonderful.

The original recipe uses gorgonzola, which sounds delicious to me too.....but I just went w/ a more simple version.

Fig Focaccia w/ Onions & Rosemary (loosely adapted from Italian Food Forever):

5 cups all purpose or bread flour
2 tsp instant yeast
2 – 3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Plus 2 Additional Tablespoons to oil bowl)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 3/4 Cups Warm Water

1 large onion, sliced
3 Tbsp Olive Oil
6-8 (depending on the size) fresh or dried figs, tips trimmed and cut in half
1 stem of fresh rosemary
1 tbsp honey
kosher salt for the top

Measure and assemble your flour, oil, salt, yeast, and water.

Add everything but the water into a large bowl and stir.

Add half the water and stir.

Continue to add water until the dough begins to come together into a shaggy ball.

Dump the dough mixture onto a lightly floured surface and begin to knead with the heels of your hand.
Knead for about 5 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and pliant.

Add a little oil (2 tablespoons) to the bottom of a large bowl and place your ball of dough inside.

Roll the ball of dough around in the oil ensuring the sides of the bowl and ball of dough are both lightly oiled.
Cover your bowl with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot to rise.

Let the dough rise until it is doubled in size, about 2-3 hours, depending on ambient temperature. You could also leave it sit overnight and it will work its magic while you are sleeping!

While the dough is rising, prepare the onions.

In a heavy frying pan, heat the olive oil and add the onions.
Cook over medium low heat, stirring often, until the onions are very soft and beginning to brown, about 6 minutes.

Lightly oil a 13 x 9 inch baking sheet with sides, or a 12" cast iron skillet (my choice for focaccia).

Dump your risen dough into the pan punching it down to deflate it.

Use your fingers to push and press the dough evenly over the bottom of the pan.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise for another hour or until the dough dimples when pushed with your fingertip.
Use the tips of your fingers to dimple the entire top of the focaccia.

Drizzle a small amount of olive oil over the top turning the pan carefully to allow the oil to roll into the indentations.
Scatter the onions evenly across the top of the focaccia, then arrange the sliced figs and push down so they don't fall off the bread after it is baked.

Sprinkle coarse sea salt and black pepper over the top of your focaccia and drizzle w/ honey.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown.

I cut my bread into slices and freeze them so they are fresh and ready for the toaster oven.

A work of art!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Roasted Cauliflower w/ Marcona Almonds, Pickled Raisins & Shallots

I have found the perfect vegetable side dish.

I know I say that about a lot of recipes I make, but truly, this is the one.

I love roasted cauliflower with just olive oil and kosher salt.
Unadulterated is just fine, however, this makes something great, even greater.

Here are those gorgeous pickled raisins again, along w/ pickled onions........I can't get enough......so I am pairing them w/ the roasted cauliflower, and adding in some chopped Marcona almonds......and some capers......and some parsley.......this is sooo good.

Here's how:

1 medium size head of cauliflower, cut into small florets
olive oil
kosher salt & pepper
1/4 cup of Marcona almonds, chopped
handful of fresh parsley, chopped
1/3 cup of pickled raisins & pickled shallots (recipe here) and some of the pickling juice
1 tbsp drained capers (optional)
more olive oil & sea salt to finish

Roast the cauliflower florets w/ some kosher salt & olive oil in a 400F oven for 20-25 minutes, turning them once, so all sides are caramelized.

Toss the hot vegetable with the rest of the ingredients and season with some sea salt at the end, and maybe a drizzle of olive oil if needed.

Garnish w/ fresh parsley and serve warm or at room temperature.


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Savory Bread Pudding w/ Leeks, Asparagus, Artichokes & Peas

If you want to make the best Mother's Day brunch dish......here it is.

It's a savory bread pudding/casserole type of thing and you can throw in whatever you like.

You like ham or bacon? Toss it in.
You like mushrooms? Saute some up and add them.......

Use any type of cheese you like. Gruyere is good, as is Swiss or cheddar cheese.

Since it is spring, I used everything springy........artichokes, leeks, peas and asparagus.

I used local bread that was made in a Stefano Ferrara pizza oven........

This is a fantastic dish. You can make it for Mother's Day or just make it for dinner w/ a salad, like I did.

Savory Bread Pudding w/ Leeks, Asparagus, Artichokes & Peas:

half loaf of good quality bread, torn into pieces
1 tbsp butter
1 bunch of asparagus, trimmed and cut into pieces
3 large leeks, sliced (don't use tough green parts)
1 can artichoke hearts, drained
3/4 cup of frozen peas
1 tbsp dried dillweed
kosher salt & pepper
7 eggs
1 1/2 cups of half & half
8 oz. of cubed Swiss, Gruyere or Cheddar cheese

In a large heavy skillet, heat a tbsp of butter and some olive oil.

Saute the sliced leeks and asparagus pieces for a few minutes on medium heat until leeks are wilted. Season w/ kosher salt & pepper and the dill.

Add in the artichoke hearts and peas and cook another minute. Let completely cool before proceeding.

Once cooled, add in the cubed cheese (so the cheese doesn't melt).

Butter an 8" x 10" casserole dish. Lay the torn bread pieces on the bottom of the pan.

When the asparagus/cheese mixture is cooled, pour on top of the bread in the casserole.

Whisk the eggs with the milk/cream or half & half and season with salt & pepper.

Pour the custard over the bread and vegetable cheese mixture and press down with a spatula so all the ingredients are submerged and the bread is wet. Let sit 15 minutes to absorb the liquid.

Bake 40 minutes in a 350F oven.

Let cool 15 minutes before slicing. Serve with a simple arugula salad w/ a lemon dressing.



Monday, April 25, 2016

Picked Raisins & Shallots

This little jar of pickled raisins and shallots is like having a little jar of diamonds.

Everything you add them to, sparkles.

It's Suzanne Goin's recipe from Sunday Suppers at Lucques, but I added in shallots so I didn't have to make 2 separate jars.

Today, I had it on avocado toast and it was the bomb.

Tomorrow, I will add them on roasted cauliflower.


Suzanne Goin's Pickled Raisins: (adapted from Food & Wine)

1 small red onion, sliced thin, or 2 large shallots, sliced
2 teaspoons yellow mustard seeds
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup water
3 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
1 dried chile de árbol or other dried red chile, stemmed and crumbled
1 bay leaf
1 1/3 cups golden raisins (I mixed golden and Thompson black raisins)
3 thyme sprigs
1 small rosemary sprig
1 teaspoon kosher salt

In a Ball jar or Weck canning jar big enough to hold everything, place the sliced raw onions/shallots at the bottom of the jar.

In a small saucepan, toast the mustard seeds over moderate heat, shaking the pan, until the seeds just start to pop, 2 minutes.

Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer gently until the liquid has reduced by half, about 6-8 minutes.

Pour the hot raisins w/ herbs and liquid over the onions/shallots in the jar (which will soften when the hot liquid is poured over them).

Let the raisins cool completely, then cover and store in the fridge for a week.

Great on grilled cheese, avocado toast, pork, duck, or ice cream (why not?).


Thursday, April 21, 2016

Chocolate Drizzled Matzoh

Here is a quick Passover post for today.

Decorate your own matzoh!

You can be creative and add anything you like, dark chocolate mixed with white chocolate would be pretty too.

Just melt some chocolate in a microwave bowl (I used chocolate chips) in 30 second intervals.

Lay out matzohs on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.
Using a fork, drizzle the melted chocolate over the crackers.

While the chocolate is still warm (so the accoutrements will stick), add chopped candied orange, cranberries or raisins, and sliced almonds.

Let cool in the fridge until chocolate hardens.

Keep cool and enjoy.

Have a happy Pesach. :)

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

What's for Dinner? Fish w/ Romesco & Spanish Potato Salad

Romesco is that wonderful Spanish sauce made w/ ground nuts and roasted peppers.

In my last romesco recipe, I added bread (which is typical).
Here I made a sauce for fish......a bit lighter, and paired it with a Spanish style potato salad, so omitted the bread.

This is a great warm weather dish for company, and everything can be made ahead.

The sauce is also great with shrimp.

Romesco Sauce:

1 ripe tomato
1/2 cup of toasted whole almonds
3 roasted red peppers from a jar
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp pimenton (Spanish smoked paprika)
1 tsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp kosher or sea salt
a bit of hot sauce or cayenne pepper to taste

Place all ingredients in a food processor and whiz a few times until a nice red, chunky sauce forms....taste and adjust seasonings. I like a little tabasco in mine, but you be the judge on the heat level.

Spanish Potato Salad:

1/2 lb. baby yukon gold potatoes
1/4 cup whole black and green olives (kalamata & manzanilla)
1 minced roasted red pepper from a jar
1 tsp of pimenton (Spanish smoked paprika)
1/4 cup of mayo
salt & pepper
1 tbsp drained capers
fresh parsley for garnish

Boil the potatoes for about 20 minutes until fork tender. Cut in half lengthwise.

Add in the minced roasted peppers, capers and mayo, along w/ the smoked paprika. Taste and season w/ salt & pepper.
Add in olives and parsley last.

For the Fish:

I like cod or halibut for this dish, a nice firm, meaty white fish.
Season the filets w/ kosher salt & pepper.

In a skillet, add in butter and some olive oil.

Sear the fish for 4 minutes on each side, depending on the thickness.

Plate with the potato salad and spoon some romesco sauce over the fish.

This sauce is very versatile and is also great as a dip.