Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Take it easy......Grill Salmon & Slaw

During the dog days of August, I like to keep it light for dinner. I don't like heating up the kitchen and making a big deal.

Jersey corn and tomatoes make a fine meal with some nice white wine.......

Here, I made my old school coleslaw and grilled some salmon for the top.

No fuss dinner. How summer should be.

Old School Coleslaw:

1/2 head of green or Napa cabbage, sliced
1/2 head of red/purple cabbage, sliced
2 carrots, sliced into thin ribbons
bunch of scallions, sliced

1 cup of Hellmann's Real Mayonnaise
1/4 cup cider vinegar
3 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp grainy mustard
salt & pepper

Mix the dressing ingredients with a fork and set aside.
Mix all the sliced vegetables in a large bowl and pour the dressing over the cabbage.

Place the slaw in the fridge for a few hours, so the flavors have time to mingle.

For the Salmon:

Mix equal parts grainy mustard and maple syrup.
Sprinkle fish w/ kosher salt and spread mustard mixture on top.

I grill my fish on foil (you can also bake the fish at 425F for 20 minutes). I don't turn the salmon, I cook it skin side down on the grill about 18 minutes, depending on the thickness.

Place a piece of grilled salmon on top of a plate of coleslaw.

You will be happy you made this easy dinner.


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

August Summer Random Bites

Only 4 weeks left of summer....sorry to depress you.

I wish summer would never end, but all good things must come to an end.....why is that?

Here are some mid-August random bites for you.

Simple is my new motto.

I love the produce during late summer here in NJ (The Garden State) makes me so happy.

Tomatoes are abundant for the next 4 weeks.....every variety you can imagine.

I make a panzanella salad every few days with whatever I have.....olives, cucumbers, herbs, toasted bread (most important ingredient) along with TOMATOES. Fresh and ripe.

Lots of fresh basil and oregano, red onion slices......even fresh torn mozzarella sometimes.

Here, I added a can of drained cannellini beans to the mix.
The salad should be dressed only with some red wine vinegar, good olive oil, sea salt & pepper.

Do it.

Slice up some plums or nectarines and put them on flat bread, along with fresh torn mozzarella and olive oil.

Bake in the toaster oven so you don't have to "light the oven" (as my mother would say).

Sprinkle of sea salt & drizzle of balsamic vinegar.

And another super simple summer recipe is this green bean salad.

Blanch some farmer's market green beans for 4 minutes and add to a bowl with halved sun-gold cherry tomatoes.
Add in some sliced radish (I am fancy, and used watermelon radish!).

Throw in some chopped kalamata olives. Make a vinaigrette of 1 tbsp of Dijon mustard, 2 tbsp red wine vinegar, 1/4 cup olive oil. Handful of snipped chives and fresh thyme leaves.

Season the salad w/ sea salt & pepper and toss with the vinaigrette. This is so easy and delicious.
I topped the leftovers the next day with canned tuna for a hearty lunch.

Enjoy the rest of my favorite season!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Sweet Summer Corn Frittata

Jersey corn is the best and I am always happy to have leftover ears so I can use them the next day in another recipe.
If you slice the corn off the cob, you can freeze the kernels and have summer corn anytime you like.

This is my favorite frittata.....sweet summer corn makes everything delicious.

Corn Frittata:

2 corn on the cob
1 yellow onion, sliced
1/4 cup whole milk
1 tsp pimenton (smoked Spanish paprika) or if you like heat, a splash of tabasco sauce
6 large eggs
1/2 - 1 cup cheddar or Gruyere cheese
handful of chopped basil
handful of chopped chives
salt & pepper

Slice corn off husks.

In a nonstick skillet, heat some olive oil and cook the corn with the onion slices for about 5 minutes.

Let cool and add to a bowl w/ the rest of the ingredients.

Add some more olive oil to the skillet and pour the mixture into as if you are making an omelet.

Keep tilting the pan to let the loose egg mixture cook.
Cook until almost set, then place under broiler for 4-5 minutes until golden and set.

The frittata should slide out of the pan easily.

Of course you can add sauteed zucchini or bacon if you like.....but this is really about the sweet corn here.


Thursday, August 10, 2017

Peach Bread Pudding (made w/ stale DONUTS!)

I always buy a package of cider donuts when I am at the farmer's market.....I am not sure why I buy these, they usually go stale on my counter with only the 2 of us.

Here is a new reason to buy this package of delicious donuts.

I made the BEST bread pudding with the the stale donuts!
You can add whatever fruit you like, apples or pears would be great, but here I had a nice peach, so there you go......

If you don't have any stale donuts laying around (and really, who does?)...then you can use stale pound cake or birthday cake, or stale croissants or bread!

This is my basic bread pudding recipe, made better with DONUTS!

Here's how: (quantities are adaptable)

4 stale apple cider donuts
4 eggs
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 cup of whole milk
1/3 cup of light brown sugar
1 ripe peach, peeled and cut into chunks
a handful of blueberries (you can use any fruit or berry)
turbinado (raw) sugar for the top
butter for the casserole dish

Butter a casserole dish big enough to fit the bread pudding, about 2 quart size.

Break the donuts into pieces and lay on the bottom of the dish.

Whisk the eggs, cinnamon, milk, extracts, and fruit together in a measuring cup for easy pouring.

Pour the custard over the stale donuts in the pan. Sprinkle the top with some turbinado sugar.

Bake in a preheated 350F oven for 45 minutes until puffed and firm.

Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

I would not be opposed to serving this with vanilla ice cream, but we ate it for breakfast, and it was the bomb!


Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Ina's Tomato Pasta Salad w/ Sundried Tomato Vinaigrette & Feta

Leave it to Ina Garten to make a simple summer pasta salad so delicious.

I was looking for a pasta salad to bring to a party, using all those delicious ripe Jersey tomatoes......I checked out Barefoot Contessa, and found what I was looking for.

You may think this is just a simple sounding tomato salad mixed w/ pasta and olives......but trust me, it's the vinaigrette that makes it so fabulous.

I had all my ingredients out, and realized I had no sundried tomatoes! (I usually have a jar somewhere in the cupboard).
Luckily, I had a container of leftover ROASTED cherry tomatoes that I made for a recipe, so I used them instead.

Disaster averted.

This should only be made in the summer, when tomatoes are at their peak. I used heirloom cherry tomatoes, because I love their sweetness and color.

I accidentally added the fresh parsley and parmesan cheese to the food processor while making the dressing....I think that's why I liked it so much!

Honestly, this is one of the best pasta salads I have had.

Ina's Tomato Pasta Salad w/ Sundried Tomato Vinaigrette & Feta: (adapted from Food Network)

1/2 pound fusilli (spiral) pasta (half a package)
Kosher salt
1 pound ripe cherry tomatoes, cut in half or quartered
3/4 cup kalamata black olives, pitted and diced
6 oz. good Greek feta cheese, medium-diced
6 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped

For the dressing:

5 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained (I used roasted cherry tomatoes)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
6 tablespoons good olive oil
1 garlic clove, diced
1 teaspoon capers, drained
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 cup packed flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, drain well and allow to cool.

Place the pasta in a bowl and add the cut up tomatoes, olives, feta and chopped sun-dried tomatoes.

For the dressing, combine the sun-dried tomatoes, vinegar, olive oil, garlic, capers, salt and pepper in a food processor until almost smooth.
Pour the dressing over the pasta, sprinkle with the Parmesan and parsley, and toss well.

Best served at room temperature.


Monday, August 7, 2017

Zucchini Pie in the Sky....with ZOODLES

You know I am over the zoodle craze (spiralized zucchini).....but I saw a recipe for zoodle pie in Cooking Light magazine, and thought it was a good idea.
It reminded me of the spaghetti pie that I make with leftover pasta, mixed with eggs, baked in a cast iron skillet.

The original recipe has you cook the garlic and tomatoes in a pan, then put everything in a foil covered springform pan to bake.

I decided to take matters into my own hands and just prepare as if it were a spaghetti pie. Much easier.

You can use grated zucchini if you don't want to use zoodles, but remember, zucchini gets very wet, so you have to wrap the grated zuke in paper towels to get rid of most of the moisture before you bake it, or your pie will be soggy.

The recipe makes a BIG pie, so if you want to use less eggs and other ingredients, go ahead, you then can bake it in a 9" pie plate....but here, I baked it in a deep 9" cast iron skillet (you can use a 10" too). It is enough for 6-8 people.

This is a great recipe for all that zucchini in your summer garden.

Zucchini Zoodle Pie: (loosely adapted from Cooking Light)

3 large green zucchini, spiralized (if grating on a box grater, then only use 2 zucchini)
7 eggs
1/4 cup flour
2/3 lowfat milk
3 large garlic cloves, grated on a microplane
1/2 cup of cherry tomatoes, halved
handful of fresh basil, chopped
salt & pepper
1 cup of grated cheese (I used Dubliner cheese, but Parm or cheddar is also a good choice)

Butter or oil a 9" deep cast iron skillet. |
Preheat oven to 375F.

Wrap the grated zucchini in paper towels for 30 minutes to drain moisture. I did this with the spiralized zoodles too.

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and pour into the greased skillet.

Bake 50-60 minutes until golden and the middle is set.

Let cool before serving.


Thursday, August 3, 2017

Seared Scallops on Summer Corn & Cherry Tomatoes (with Bacon!)

Hello scallop people, you know who you are.

I know people adore scallops!

I am not a scallop person and I'm not sure why.
They have a nice taste and are easy to make, but I never order them or prepare them at home, ever.
I think it's a texture thing.

I took the plunge and bought a bag of frozen sea scallops at Costco for $22. Why not?
I'll give them a try again.

I could be a scallop person after making this dish.

This is SO EASY.

I think this is best when you use fresh summer corn (preferably from NJ!) and summer cherry tomatoes.....along with basil from your garden.

This was EXCELLENT. Restaurant quality.

Here's how I made it: for 2 people

8 sea scallops (use as many as you like)
2 ears of fresh corn, sliced off the cob
1 cup of cherry tomatoes (halved)
1 slice of bacon, minced
olive oil or butter (about a tbsp)
fresh basil leaves

Pat your scallops dry with paper towels and season with kosher salt & pepper. Set aside.

In a large heavy skillet, cook the bacon bits until crisp. Remove to a plate and set aside.

I added a tablespoon of butter to the pan with the small amount of bacon fat, you can add olive oil if you like.

Sear the scallops for 1-2 minutes on each side (depending on the size). No more or you will ruin them.

Remove them from the pan and set aside while you saute the corn and tomatoes.

Add in the corn and halved tomatoes and cook in the pan for only a minute or two.

Plate the corn and tomatoes on a platter and lay the scallops on top of the mixture. Sprinkle with the bacon bits and basil leaves.

So easy and so good!


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Purple Potato Salad w/ Mustard Vinaigrette

Here is a great non-mayo based potato salad for the hot days of summer.
I love using herbs from my garden and mixed color potatoes.

This is also delicious with hardboiled eggs added in, and great to pack on a picnic.

Purple Potato Salad w/ Mustard Vinaigrette: (adapted from Cooking Light)

1/4 cup olive oil
3 tbsp white wine or white balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp grainy mustard
2 tbsp finely chopped chives
thinly sliced red onions
1 1/4 lb. multi colored fingerling potatoes (gold, red and purple)

Combine the dressing ingredients in a bowl.

Cook the potatoes in boiling water around 20 minutes until fork tender. Slice into halves or quarters.

Add the dressing to the warm potatoes.

Add onion and chives at the end (I used pickled onions).

Serve at room temperature.


Monday, July 31, 2017

Good Times & BIANCO Cookbook Giveaway

If you've been following me all these years, you know we love to go to Arizona in the spring.
When we are there, we eat at Pizzeria Bianco Town & Country, it's one of my favorite restaurants of all time.

In 2015 (post here), I met the chef/owner Chris Bianco. It truly was the highlight of my year!
If you remember, he cooked us lunch and dinner, and we immediately became friends.

Well last week, Phoenix came to New York City!

Chris came to NY to promote his new cookbook BIANCO....PIZZA, PASTA & OTHER FOOD I LIKE.

He cooked dinner for a group of very lucky people (ME!) at Sessanta Restaurant in the Sixty Soho Hotel.

It was a fun, fabulous evening......Chris is a humble, kind and funny person, very refreshing in the chef's world. Everyone he meets has the same feeling about him.

I can't say enough nice things about this man and his food.

Everything was off the charts delicious, with wine pairings to match each course.

Because I like you too!, I am giving away 2 of his brand new cookbooks, hot off the presses! BIANCO, signed by Chris Bianco!

Gifts are a nice way to start the week!

Leave a comment with your name (not anonymous, duh!).....and 2 winners will be chosen.

Have a nice day.


Thursday, July 27, 2017

Blueberry Lemon Ricotta Muffins w/ Lemon Sugar Topping

As if you needed another blueberry muffin recipe!

I recently did a cooking demo at a shop in my town for a Summer Entertaining Series.

I made blueberry ricotta crostini (recipe here) and had a TON of leftover blueberries and ricotta cheese.

I froze most of the berries by laying them out on a large sheet pan and leaving them uncovered in the freezer for 2 hours.

They will get hard like marbles.

Then just pop them in ziploc bags and you will have summer berries on hand anytime you like!

I saved some to make these delicious muffins.....a great way to use up the ricotta cheese.
They have a lemon sugar top which is also pretty fabulous.

It's a win win.

Blueberry Lemon Ricotta Muffins w/ Lemon Sugar Tops:
(adapted from Honest Cooking)

3/4 cup whole milk fresh ricotta
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 stick unsalted butter, 4 ounces, melted and cooled
1 1/3 cup sugar (1 cup for the batter, 1/3 cup for the topping)
grated zest of a lemon
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 & 1/3 cups fresh blueberries

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Spray a 12 cup muffin pan with baking spray or line with paper cups.

In a large bowl add the lemon zest to the sugar and rub together with your fingertips until well incorporated, it should look like wet sand. Remove 1/3 cup of the lemon sugar for the muffin topping.

Place the ricotta, eggs and vanilla in a medium size bowl, whisk together and stir in the melted butter.

Stir the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into the large bowl containing the lemon sugar.

Gently stir the ricotta mixture into the sugar/flour mixture, the batter will be very thick.

Gently fold in the blueberries.

Divide the batter between the muffin cups and evenly sprinkle the lemon sugar on muffin tops.

Place the muffins into the oven for 25-30 minutes or until the tops are golden and a toothpick inserted comes away clean.
Place on metal rack to cool.

These freeze nicely too!


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Oh Canada! Montreal Bites

A quick trip to Montreal is just what I needed!

Montreal is like taking a mini trip to France.

The language spoken here is French, all signs in French too, but don't worry, most everyone speaks English beautifully.

I forgot how much I loved this city.

The food scene is AMAZING as is the history and architecture.
The weather is much cooler than NY in the summer (with zero humidity!) and the people are warm. :)

Hospitality is #1 here. Everyone makes you feel welcome.


It is an easy walking city, no car needed, and public transportation is excellent.

We took a walk up to the top of Mont Royal to see the best views of the city, and then rewarded ourselves with delicious lunches and dinners.

This is sort of an instagram recap, so sorry if I am repeating myself.

For our first evening, we had a fabulous French meal close to our hotel at Holder, a traditional French brasserie.
Filled with locals after work, speaking French. They serve better brasserie food than in France (in my opinion), onion soup, salads, oysters, moules frites......and service was as good as the food!

The duck confit and endive salad was fantastic. Highly recommend.

As was the rustic lunch we had at Marche di Villette.

I liked the place better years ago, when it was an authentic butcher shop selling charcuterie, the son took it over and turned it more into a restaurant, but it was still great.

The Croque Monsieur and Salade Nicoise were delicious and fresh.

We had a special dinner at Le Club Chasse et Peche, rated one of North America's best restaurants.

Everything on the menu is local from Quebec, serving the freshest Canadian fish and beef. Amazing wine list and amazing staff.

Loved it.

On to Little Italy for one of the best dinners I have ever eaten.

Ridiculous porchetta.....halibut crudo......spaghettoni with rabe pesto and guanciale.....burrata with caponata.
All so simple and amazing.

The place is super casual, more of an osteria type place with terrase seating (outdoor). Perfect for families.
Great Italian wines by the glass (Etna Bianco from yummy in the summer).

They own a GREAT Napoletana style pizzeria across the street called PIZZERIA GEMA, so if you can't get into IMPASTO, try there instead.

Montreal is also famous for their smoked meat (brisket and pastrami).....and their bagels! Even more so than NYC! They are smaller and not as fluffy as NY can find them in Montreal's Mile End neighborhood, filled with Jewish delis and great food. You can take a food tour of the neighborhood which is fantastic.

They even sell smoked meat sandwiches at the airport!

If you are looking for a great hotel in Old Montreal, try Hotel Gault.
It is a small 30 room boutique hotel in the best neighborhood.

The staff was wonderful, and the rooms were comfortable and modern.

Sit back and enjoy the photos........if you are planning a short trip and don't want to fly to Europe, then Quebec is your place.

And no, I did not try the poutine (just couldn't do it), but Henry did! ;)

Next stop Quebec City.

Merci Montreal!