2 hours ago
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Recently, at a Spanish tapas restaurant, the waitress recommended the simple apple w/ Manchego salad.
I really had no interest, but she insisted that it was her personal favorite.
Well, it is now our favorite too.
How could something so simple, be so good?
It's like spaghetti & meatballs, they just go together nicely.
I searched a lot of Spanish websites and they were pretty much all straight forward, using the same ingredients.
Apple variety of your choice (a red skin would give it a nicer color than my green Granny Smith), and some good aged Manchego, a Spanish sheep's milk cheese.
Spring chives and some lemon and salt and a drizzle of olive oil.
To be fancy, and add some sweetness, I added some sliced Medjool dates to bring to the party, and this was as good as the restaurant's version.
I'll be eating this for lunch the next few days.
Apple & Manchego Salad (serves 4)
2 large apples of your choice, cut into matchsticks (leave the peel on)
4 oz. of good Manchego cheese (do not substitute the cheese), cut into matchsticks
handful of fresh snipped chives
fresh lemon juice
1 tsp kosher salt
2 tbsp olive oil
4 Medjool dates, sliced
Slice the apples into thin matchsticks. Squeeze some fresh lemon juice over the apples in a bowl, so they don't discolor.
Slice the cheese into the same size as the apples.
Add the chives and sprinkle with kosher salt. Drizzle w/ olive oil and toss lightly.
It's just that easy.
This salad is addictive.
Monday, May 20, 2013
Ok, ok, enough asparagus posts already.
I promise, this will be my last one.
My harvesting is almost over, next we are on to beets and spinach from the garden.
This was a great first course for an al fresco dinner on the patio, inspired by the book MOZZA.
You can use bufala mozzarella or burrata, but make sure you are using milky fresh cheese, it makes all the difference, and it also doesn't hurt to pick your own asparagus either.
The fresher the ingredients, the better the dish is going to taste.
Grill some asparagus on an outdoor grill. I drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle w/ kosher salt and grill on medium heat.
When nice and charred, place the grilled spears on a platter and drizzle w/ a splash of balsamic vinegar while still warm.
Place a nice piece of milky mozzarella or two (burrata or bufala) in the center of the platter.
Drape some slices of prosciutto or speck (smoked prosciutto, which is what I always use) around the asparagus.
(This is a rustic, throw together dish, so you don't have to be neat about it).
In a small non-stick skillet, add 1 tbsp of butter and a handful of sliced almonds.
Let the butter foam up so the milk solids separate and the nuts are toasted (doesn't take long).
Pour the brown butter almonds on top of the cheese and around the plate.
Sprinkle w/ some sea salt and pepper and serve.
I will miss my May asparagus and beautiful chive blossoms.
Friday, May 17, 2013
Another beautiful, huge restaurant opens in NYC.
Lafayette opened last month, and it's already a hard to get reservation.
New Yorkers love a scene.
Andrew Carmellini (owner of Locande Verde), opened this grand cafe on a quiet stretch of Lafayette St. in Noho (Noho means "North of Houston St."), across from the Publick Theatre.
It is quite stunning, and reminds me of the grand cafes in Paris.
The menu is anything but traditional French. No onion soup here.
We started with deviled eggs w/ sable mousse and trout roe for $9. A little bite goes a long way.
Then a delicious butter lettuce salad w/ excellent French ham and a nut vinaigrette w/ Roquefort cheese, a bargain for $11.
Henri (I made him French today) ordered the pate maison with their wonderful in-house made bread.
A black fettuccine w/kale, cockles & squid, quite yummy, and my dorade (like a sea bass) over white beans with muscat grapes?
Sounds weird, but the sweet grapes with the smokey fish worked.
There is a rotisserie counter that turns out amazing chicken and duck. Next time we will try the Canard Frites (duck with fries).
My favorite part of this 200 plus seat restaurant is the bakery.
When you walk in, there are counters to sit and have a delicious croissant or macaron with cafe creme. Very Parisian.
Gorgeous breads and pane au chocolat to eat in or take out.
We bought a loaf of their fabulous bread to go ($8. pretty pricey for a loaf), and some treats to take home.
However, I did not try the chocolate saucisson.
A nice way to spend a Sunday evening in lower Manhattan.
Parlez vous Francais?
Don't worry, no one spoke French here either.
Thursday, May 16, 2013
I apologize for bombarding you with asparagus recipes, but I am still harvesting them daily, so I have to use them.
This should be my worst problem in life.
A traditional Tuscan panzanella salad is made in the summer, using beautiful ripe tomatoes and lovely stale bread.
It's my fave.
Here, Mr. Chiarello (who I love!) makes a spring version with lovely croutons and fresh asparagus and spring peas.
I have to say this was a major production.
I thought I would get this ready after work for a quick dinner, but it was very involved, so start it early if you can.
You can make the croutons ahead, and the asparagus pesto ahead, which I didn't do until 6 pm, so needless to say, dinner wasn't served till 7.
Michael says soaking the radicchio in an ice bath for 20 minutes takes out the bitterness and makes it crispy.
Ok, so I did that, but didn't really notice a difference.
I used 10 asparagus spears from my garden and followed the recipe to the letter.
Spring Panzanella Salad (adapted from Michael Chiarello): serves 4
1 pound asparagus
1/4 cup freshly chopped basil leaves
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup fresh or frozen English peas, boiled until tender and drained
handful thinly sliced green onion or spring onion
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, divided
1/2 head radicchio, ribbon-cut, soaked, drained, and dried
1 cup arugula
1/2 wedge ricotta salata cheese or feta
First start by soaking the radicchio (totally up to you).
Slice into ribbons and soak in a bowl of ice water for 20 minutes.
Make the croutons:
Cut up some good bread (rustic loaf) into cubes. Heat 2 tbsp of salted butter in a nonstick skillet and toast the bread cubes turning them on all sides until nice and crispy. I sprinkled mine with garlic powder, for extra flavor.
Remove the woodsy ends of the asparagus and cut off the tender tips and reserve.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the asparagus tips and cook briefly, about 2 minutes, just until they lose their raw taste. Lift them out with a sieve or skimmer and let cool.
Add the remaining portion (the stalks) of the asparagus spears and cook until tender enough to puree (mine took 4 minutes), then drain well.
Put the asparagus spears, basil, 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, and salt and pepper, to taste, in a blender or food processor. Puree until smooth. This is your pesto dressing.
In a large bowl, combine the croutons, asparagus tips, peas, and green or spring onion.
Add some of the asparagus puree and toss to coat well. Add more puree as needed to coat lightly and evenly. Add a squeeze of the lemon juice and toss again. Taste and adjust the seasoning, then make an even layer of the mixture on a platter.
In another bowl, combine the radicchio and arugula. Dress with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, the remaining 1 teaspoon lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Toss well, then mound on top of the dressed croutons.
With a cheese plane or vegetable peeler, shave some ricotta salata over the top.
Whew, I'm tired.
But it was worth it.
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Here's the halibut story.
I love it.
It's one of my favorite fishes (fish? fishes?, sounds wrong).
It is only in season and available in the spring here in NJ/NYC, sort of like soft shell crabs and wild salmon.
My fish market only gets thin halibut fillets in the spring that look like flounder, and I always take a pass.
I want the meaty, thick, beautiful big white pieces of halibut, which I only seem to get in a restaurant.
(also, we rarely get grouper here, and not sure why, cause it's only coming from Florida).
Well, the fish monger at the farmer's market had a beautiful whole halibut, ready to be cut just for me.
It was so fresh the fish guy said he ate it raw, sliced for breakfast with some lemon juice, like ceviche.
At $32. per lb. (seems to be that price all over, even at Whole Foods when it's available),
I bit the bullet and bought a 1 lb. piece.
I couldn't wait to get that beautiful piece of fish home.
I made a lemon butter caper sauce with some anchovies & semi dried cherry tomatoes.
Grilled some spring asparagus and layed the fish on top, pouring the sauce over everything.
It was a thing of beauty. Worth every penny (in this case, dollars).
Spring Halibut w/ Caper Anchovy Butter Sauce: (serves 2-4, depending on what else you are serving)
1 lb. fresh halibut, preferably big thick 2" pieces
kosher salt & pepper
half a lemon
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp capers
handful of sundried tomatoes, chopped (I use semi dried Italian cherry tomatoes)
bundle of asparagus, ends trimmed
My grill pan has a glass lid, which is nice when cooking fish because it doesn't mess up my stove, and keeps the fish moist while grilling, almost steaming it too.
Season the fish (I cut mine into 4 pieces for even grilling) with kosher salt & pepper.
Drizzle with olive oil.
Heat a non-stick heavy grill pan and cook the asparagus (I used the lid for quicker cooking) for about 8 minutes, until cooked.
You can also use an outdoor grill or roast them in the oven at 400F for 20 minutes.
Remove the cooked asparagus to a platter.
In the same grill pan, cook the fish on high (skin side down) for 4 minutes (for a 2" thick piece of fish).
Carefully flip over with a flexible fish spatula and cook another 2-3 minutes. You don't want to overcook this beautiful fish.
While the fish is cooking, make the sauce.
In a small saucepan, heat the butter, anchovies, lemon juice, capers and tomatoes and drizzle with a tablespoon of olive oil so the butter doesn't burn.
Cook until the butter and anchovies are melted on low heat, about 4 minutes.
Lay the fish on top of the asparagus and spoon the hot butter sauce over everything.
Somethings are just best eaten in the spring.
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
There's not much to this soup except some good ingredients to start with.
At first glance, you might think this is boring, no curb appeal.
A bowl of light green liquid, nothing special.
However, when you take a sip, it is anything BUT boring.
It is wonderful and tastes like spring.
I only made a small batch, but next time will double it for sure, because it was that good.
Just a few rules or don't bother (sorry to be so bossy).
I used fresh picked asparagus from my garden, but I don't expect you to have that.
But only use asparagus in season, right now, spring, May, June, today, tomorrow, next week.
Jersey asparagus (& Long Island) is plentiful at the farmer's markets right now, (and if you live in California, I am jealous of you and your yearly bounty of EVERYTHING).
Local, fresh asparagus tastes nothing like the stuff you get from Peru in the dead of winter, sitting in the supermarket for a week.
Please use homemade chicken stock (I said please).
My butcher even sells it. The Chinese restaurant sells it. It's so easy to make.
Boxed stock is usually great in soups, but since there are only 3 main ingredients here (stock and asparagus being 2 of them), using the best is important.
Feel free to double the amounts, since this recipe only makes 4 bowls.
I did not add any salt to this soup, since my stock had been previously salted before freezing it.
Simple Spring Asparagus Soup:
1 lb. fresh asparagus stalks (save the tips for garnish)
1 large yellow onion, diced
3 cups of homemade chicken stock
1 tbsp creme fraiche
salt & pepper (if needed)
Slice the asparagus stalks into 2" pieces, (saving the tips for garnish and other things).
Heat some olive oil or butter in a large stock pot and add the onions and asparagus pieces and cook on low heat for a few minutes until the onions are soft. You don't want to brown the onions.
Add in the stock and simmer for about 15 minutes, until the asparagus is tender.
While the soup is simmering, blanch the asparagus tips in boiling water for 2 minutes, to make them bright green.
(You can also do this in a microwave dish with water for the same amount of time).
When the soup is cool enough to handle, place an immersion blender in the pot and blend until all the solids are pureed.
Taste the soup and see if it needs salt.
Ladle into bowls and swirl in a tiny amount of creme fraiche just before serving.
Garnish with the remaining blanched asparagus tips.
Monday, May 13, 2013
It's asparagus week, so buckle your seat belts.
What kind of food blogger would I be if I didn't make a spring tart with my homegrown asparagus and some spring leeks?
We had our first al fresco neighbor dinner and this tart was a part of it.
You will only see 2 asparagus spears here, because that's all I harvested that day, so feel free to add more if you can spare them.
Very simple to make.
Leek, Ricotta & Asparagus Tart: (makes 2 tarts)
Roll 1 sheet of defrosted puff pastry, and cut it into 2 rectangles.
Line a baking sheet w/ parchment paper and lay the pastry out.
1 cup of ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
salt & pepper
1 tsp of fresh thyme leaves
4 leeks, white parts only, sliced
1 tbsp butter
a few asparagus spears to decorate the top
2 slices of prosciutto, or speck (optional)
Mix the ricotta w/ the egg, cheese, salt & pepper and thyme.
Spread this mixture out onto your pastry rectangles, leaving a border to fold over.
Saute the leeks in olive oil w/ a tbsp of butter on low for 20 minutes, until they get nice and soft. Season w/ salt & pepper.
Spread the leek mixture on top of the ricotta cheese.
Tear up some prosciutto or speck and dot the leeks with the pieces.
Lay 1 or 2 asparagus spears on top of the leeks and prosciutto and fold up the edges of the pastry.
Brush with a beaten egg or some water to seal the edges shut.
Bake at 375F for 20 minutes.
Slice and serve!
Friday, May 10, 2013
I hope you won't get sick of my asparagus posts, if you do, then feel free to turn the channel.
You've heard it here before.
It's the only time of year when I LOVE asparagus, in the spring, when it's fresh and local.
This is my first real harvest of asparagus, since it takes 2 years for the plant to get strong, then you can harvest it in the 3rd year.
It's a long wait, and you have to be patient (not one of my virtues).
This is a beautiful way to showcase fresh sweet peas and your spears.
I want to eat this all year long.
I guess I will be moving to California.
The original recipe calls for fava beans, which I never seem to have, so I omitted them.
Since it's spring, and my mint is plentiful, I thought I'd throw that in to make the dish bright.
I also peeled my asparagus stalks, which I rarely do, however, I like the bright green look of them, and it gets rid of the tough woodsy ends.
This was lovely.
Asparagus w/ Shallots, Bacon & Peas: (adapted from Bon Appetit)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon finely grated Pecorino or Parmesan
2 tablespoon (or more) fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
2 bunches asparagus, trimmed, stalks peeled if thick
more oil for frying the shallots
1 cup shelled fresh peas (from about 1 pound pods) or frozen peas, thawed
3 shallots, thinly sliced
4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
handful of fresh mint leaves for garnish
Blanch the asparagus for 2 minutes in boiling water, and remove them immediately to an ice bath to set the color and stop the cooking process.
My spears were only 2 hours old, so the more al dente the better.
In a small skillet, heat some olive oil and fry the shallots (you can also cheat and do this in the bacon grease, like I did!).
Lay the asparagus on a platter and throw the peas on top.
Drizzle the lemon vinaigrette over the green stuff.
Add the frizzled shallots and bacon, and garnish with fresh mint leaves.
Sprinkle w/ some sea salt and pepper and serve.
Can be made a few hours ahead and kept at room temperature.
Thursday, May 9, 2013
What a nice combination.
Smoked fish w/ avocado. Who da thunk it?
The biggest challenge here is finding avocados that will be ripe for Sunday!
I like to use a nice whole grain bread for these, but you can use flatbreads if you like.
Toast up some whole grain bread and cut them in halves.
Not sure how many people you are having on Sunday, so can't tell you exact measurements.
Mash up some ripe avocado with a bit of fresh lemon juice and sea salt.
Spread on toasts and drape a nice piece of smoked salmon on top.
Garnish with dill and serve.