Tag Archives: Garlic

Feta Stuffed Pork Chops

 

This recipe makes for pork chops that a are flavorful, juicy, and tender. This oven-baked technique will ensure that your pork has a delicious crust and a perfectly cooked interior. Just follow these simple tips below and prepare yourself to reconsider everything you know about this weeknight-friendly cut. The recipe follows.

Tips on Cooking the Perfect Pork Chops

1. Buy the pork chops bone-in and thick.
Typically, bone-in pork chops are thicker than those with the bone removed. A thin pork chop is difficult to cook perfectly with this method, because of the hard sear you give both sides before it goes in the oven. If a chop is too thin, by the time you’ve seared both sides, the thing is practically overcooked! Choosing a thick chop allows you to get a nice golden sear on both sides and a perfectly cooked tender center.

2. Get your skillet HOT.
The goal of this initial sear is to get a golden, crisp crust on your chop without really cooking the center. I find that using a cast iron skillet is the best for cooking pork chops. A hot skillet is so CRUCIAL. Let your pork chops cook a couple minutes undisturbed, then take a peek and see how that golden crust is forming. When you are pleased with the desired golden sear, flip the chops over and brown them again, to get golden on the other side.

3. Brush with butter.
This classic restaurant trick—basting with butter while cooking—makes a great dish worthy f five stars. However, if you are trying to keep it healthy and watch the cholesterol, this step isn’t required, but it will definitely make the pork chops extremely delicious though. For the recipe below, you will be brushing a garlicky rosemary butter on the chops.

4. Use a meat thermometer.
Yes, many parofessional and home cooks will say that you will known the meat is done by instinct, but let’s be real, that takes years of experience by being the kitchen. But if you are not familiar with the “doneness” of your proteins, using a meat thermometer will make your life just a tad bit easier. I know, I know. This is the extra step that often seems fussy, but trust me, it’s worth it. Using a meat thermometer takes the guess work out of cooking pork chops, and that’s “a good thing.” The temperature you pull your chops at is totally up to you, but here’s a quick guide to choosing the right temperature for your taste. As always, give the meat some time to rest before digging in. Five to ten minutes should do the trick.

  1. 120°-130° F: This is comfortably at medium rare. Warning! You will see pink, and that’s is perfectly fine (See the USDA tips for cooking pork). The pork chop will be rosy-pink on the inside and super juicy.
  2. 130°-140° F: For those who are not comfortable with pink pork, this might be the right temperature zone for you. There will be a touch of pink in the center, but for the most part the flesh will be white. The meat will still be nice and juicy.
  3. 140°-145° F: No pink here! The meat will be completely white all the way through. Pork chops at this temperature will still have the potential to be juicy, just be sure to pull them from the oven on the lower end of this spectrum, as the chops will continue to cook even after they’re out of the oven. Anything past 145° F is the danger DRY zone, so keep a close watch.

Other than that, good luck and happy eating!

Serves 4

Ingredients:
For the Feta Cheese Filling:
3 tablespoons feta cheese (crumbled)
2/3 cup diced sun dried tomatoes
1 tablespoon fresh Italian parsley, minced
1 teaspoon olive oil

Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, taste

For the Pork Chops:
4 bone-in pork loin chops
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, taste

For the Glaze:
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375° F.

Mix feta cheese, tomatoes, parsley and olive oil in a bowl. Use the tip of a sharp boning or paring knife to cut a 3-inch slit in the side of each pork chop, 2 inches deep and 1/4-inch away from the bone, to make a pocket for stuffing. Stuff pork chops with feta cheese filling and secure with toothpicks.

Season pork chops with salt and pepper.

In a small bowl mix together butter, rosemary, and garlic. Set aside.

In cast iron or oven safe skillet over medium-high heat, heat olive oil then add pork chops. Sear until golden, 4 minutes, flip and cook 4 minutes more. Brush pork chops generously with garlic butter.

Place the skillet in oven and cook until cooked through, 10-12 minutes. Serve with more garlic butter, if desired.

pork-chop-verticalPhoto Credit: Ethan Calabrese, 2018.

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Rosemary Garlic Roasted Chicken

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Serves 4

Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
8 skin-on, chicken thighs
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
3 heads garlic
4 to 6 sprigs fresh rosemary
8 slices sourdough bread, toasted
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

Directions:
To marinate the chicken, add the buttermilk  to a large bowl, followed by the  chicken, Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Allow the chicken to marinate  overnight for best results.

Heat the oven to 425 º F.

Heat the olive oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and cook, skin-side down, until browned, about 5 minutes.

Separate the heads of garlic into cloves but do not peel. Flip the chicken; add the garlic and rosemary to the skillet and transfer to the oven. Roast until the chicken is cooked through but still moist, 15 to 20 more minutes.

Place the bread on a platter and top each slice with a chicken thigh. Add the vinegar to the skillet and scrape up any fond ( browned bits) with a wooden spoon. Add 3 tablespoons water and simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, about 2 minutes. Pour the sauce and garlic over the chicken and bread.

Cook’s Notes:
You can squeeze the garlic out of its skin and spread on the chicken or bread.

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Roasted Shrimp Salad

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Summer cooking is all about keeping cool, and you can do just that with this herbaceous shrimp salad that can be served as an appetizer or as a main course. Feel free to add you own special twist with different herbs and citrus flavors.

Serves 6

Ingredients:
1 large seedless cucumber
2 pounds of 16-20 count raw shrimp, shelled and deveined
1 firm avocado
1 lime, juiced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
2 Tablespoons cilantro, chopped
1 Tablespoon fresh chives, snipped
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 450 ° F.

Chop the cucumber into 3/4 inch quarter chunks. Place the chunks in a colander and toss them with a pinch of salt or two. Place the colander over a bowl and allow the cumbers to stand for 20 minutes. After salting, remove the cucumbers from the colander and pat dry with clean paper towels, add to a salad bowl and set aside.

Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Pour the shrimp onto the baking sheet and drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Toss the shrimp in the oil and spread them out on the baking sheet. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.

Roast the shrimp in the oven for 5-7 minutes, until pink. Cool the shrimp on the baking sheet.

Meanwhile, chop the avocado in 3/4 inch chunks. Add the avocado, minced garlic, chopped mint leaves, cilantro and chives into the salad bowl with the cucumber chunks. Pour the lime juice and 1 tablespoon olive oil over the salad and toss well to coat. Taste, and adjust with alt and pepper as needed.

Cover and place in the refrigerator and chill until ready to serve. Garnish with avocado slices and cilantro sprigs, if desired.

Cook’s Notes:
Cucumbers, with their delicate flavor and translucent flesh by nature are very watery. For the most part, it you are planning to combine them with any other ingredients, use the best variety of seedless cucumbers available to you.

Then, you must salt them to draw out as much liquid as possible. If you skip this step, a puddle of near-flavorless liquid will form quickly at the bottom of your salad bowl, your dip or soup will separate like curdled mayonnaise.

But if you can only find the kind with seeds, make sure, you must eviscerate them, cut them open length wise and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Why, you may ask? Well, cucumber seeds, tend to springy, and evasive, will ruin the texture of any salad, soup, or dip.

To salt cucumbers, begin by lining a colander with paper towels, add the cut up cucumbers to the colander and light salt them. Allow them to stand for 20 to 25 minutes, then remove from the colander and pat dry with paper towels and you are good to go to use them as you please in your recipes.

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Brodetto

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This fisherman stew was inspired  by the local cuisine found along the coastal city of Ancona, Italy. This rustic dish simmers the seafood in a garlicky tomato sauce and  is served with a crusty bread. Many Italian coastal towns have their own version of this dish, which often features the catch of day. Brodetta was original conceived by fisherman to use up the smaller fish that they did not sell at the market that day.  While brodetto is similar to the  classic French  fish  stew, bouillabaisse, traditional  Italian recipes call for 13 fish as in recognizing Jesus and his 12 apostles in attendance of the Last Supper. The stew can be made with any type of fish, shellfish, including mussels and clams and either with octopus or calamari (squid). The key to making this particular recipe is to cook the shellfish and fish in stages. If you are shopping at your local markets and cannot find the listed seafood in this recipe, always choose sustainable varieties that are in season.

Serve 6

Ingredients:
6 (1-inch-thick) ciabatta slices
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing and drizzling
5 garlic cloves, divided
1 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup dry white wine
One 32-ounces jar tomato sauce
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 pound mussels, scrubbed
12 littleneck clams, scrubbed
12 ounces cod fillets, cut into 2-inch pieces
12 ounces skin-on snapper fillets, cut into 2-inch pieces
10 ounces raw large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 teaspoons kosher salt
6 ounces cleaned squid, bodies cut into 1/2-inch-thick rings
3 tablespoons chopped parsley

Directions:
Preheat broiler to high with oven rack 4 inches from heat. Brush bread with olive oil, and place on a baking sheet. Broil until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes, flipping halfway through. Rub toast with 1 garlic clove and keep warm.

Thinly slice remaining 4 garlic cloves. Heat 1/4 cup oil over moderately high heat in a large Dutch oven. Add onion and sliced garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add wine; boil until reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Add tomato sauce and vinegar; bring to a simmer. Add mussels and clams; cover and cook until mussels open, about 5 minutes. Remove mussels with a slotted spoon and place in a large bowl. (Discard any that do not open.) Cover pot and cook until clams open, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove clams with a slotted spoon and place in bowl with mussels.

Season cod, snapper, and shrimp with salt. Add to pot, cover, and reduce heat to moderate; simmer 6 minutes. Add squid, cover, and cook until fish are just cooked through, about 2 minutes. Stir in parsley, mussels, and clams. Remove from heat. Cover and let stand until shellfish are heated through, about 2 minutes. Serve in shallow bowls with a drizzle of olive oil and garlic toast.

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Duck Confit Croquettes with Yuzu Vinaigrette

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I recently traveled to Atlanta, Georgia for a conference recently. Although I pass through Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport quiet frequently, I rarely have time to leisurely grab anything to eat while trying to get from one terminal to another to catch a connecting flight.

However, this time I had an extended layover and being that it was lunch time, I decided to take full advantage of what the restaurant scene in the airport had to offer, and in checking the menu outside the establishment it appeared that One Flew South would fit the bill.

Located in Concourse E, One Flew South is the first upscale dining experience in Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

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Photo Credit: One Flew South, 2017

 

The cuisine at One Flew South  can be described a spirited global fare featuring a ‘Southernational’- Cuisine inspired by world travels specializing in Deep Southern and Asian flavors that cannot be denied with dished prepared largely with high quality, fresh, local ingredients from regional farmers and purveyors. An added bonus is that frequent fliers’ know that this Southern/Eclectic spot offers an exceptional prepared to-go selection for travelers as well.


               Photo Credit: TripAdvisor 2018.

The food menus has offering covering soups and appetizers, salads, sandwiches and full entrees. The  is a dessert menu for those that may have a sweet tooth, so be sure to ask your server to share it with you.

One Flew South has a top shelf bar that serves proper cocktails and features an exceptional sushi menu and take-away items. The restaurant presents an enticing culinary destination for travelers braving the world’s busiest airport.

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        Photo Credit: One Flew South, 2018

 

With that being said, I ordered the French Southern inspired duck confit croquettes and the thyme braised pork belly. The croquettes were made with duck, English Peas and Carolina grits and served with fennel slaw, candied citrus, Yuzu vinaigrette and topped with micro greens of cilantro and parsley.

As for the entree,the thyme roasted pork belly was cooked to perfection and served over a bed of parsnip puree and a black-eyed pea and arugula salad. This dish is normally served with a blackberry-onion marmalade, but because the blackberries were not in season yet, the chef made do with a balsamic vinegar reduction. I am working on replicating this recipe and hope to post it at a later date. Stay tuned!

The service was great and I truly enjoyed my meal and I could not wait to get back home to my kitchen to see if I could create such and interesting appetizer tailored to my taste. You see, cooking is pure happiness for me and I was truly inspired my first dining experience at One Flew South I start with this French inspired crispy Duck Croquettes recipe that is absolutely amazing. This process is a bit time consuming in terms of preparation, as they are a bit tricky to make, but they are so totally worth it. Make a few extra while you’re at it. You can keep them in the freezer, just ready to deep fry when you want to.

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:
For the Croquettes:
3 Duck Legs about
1 shallot, diced
2 cloves garlic
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup dry white wine
Kosher Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the Béchamel:*
2 tablespoons all purpose flour*
1 oz unsalted butter
1 cup Whole Milk
Kosher Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the Breading*
Finely ground Japanese Panko bread crumbs*
2 Eggs
1 cup rice flour
Kosher Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup grated Gruyere cheese

For the Candied Citrus Peel:**
1 grapefruit
2 Navel oranges
2 lemons
2 1/2 cups sugar

Yuzu Vinaigrette:***
Yields Approximately 1 1/2 cups
1/2 cup Yuzu Juice, Yuzu marmalade or Monin Yuzu Fruit Purée
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice or orange juice
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon tomato paste
3/4 cup vegetable or canola oilSalt and pepper, to taste

For the Fennel Slaw:
2 tablespoons cider vinegar, or to taste
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1/2 teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon zest
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 lb fennel (sometimes called anise; about 1 1/2 large bulbs)

For the Garnish:
Mixed Micro greens

Directions:
To make the confit: Lightly sprinkle salt and pepper the duck thighs and fry in a little olive oil. Once it got nice color put it in a large casserole.

Saute the shallots and add to the casserole with and garlic. Add wine and some olive oil.

Place the casserole in the oven at 350°F for about 1 ½ hours, until the meat is soft and falling off the bone. Let it cool down to manageable temperature and pick the meat from the bone.

Chop the meat finely and add to a bowl. Also,  add  the shallots from the casserole and add to the bowl.

For the Béchamel: Add the onion and the butter to a medium saucepan and cook on low heat, until the onions are translucent. Whisk in the flour with a little of the milk to the saucepan. Stir and slowly add the remaining milk until a thick paste is formed. Bring to a boil,  constantly stirring.  Reduce the heat and cook over low heat for a short while, as the consistency should thicken. Taste and season with salt and pepper, as needed. Remove from the heat and set aside, allowing the béchamel  to cool slightly.

To  a large plastic or stainless steel bowl, add about 1 cup of the béchamel, the chopped duck and  the grated cheese. Season with salt and pepper, if needed. Place the bowl in the freezer to solidify the mixture, for at least 1 hour. This step makes it easier to manage the meat mixture.

Spray your hands with a light coating of vegetable spray. Using a small ice cream scoop, fashion the croquettes, by rolling the meat mixture in balls, about 3 ounces each, and set on a plate. Place the croquettes in refrigerator for a least 4 hours.

To make the candied citrus peel: Score grapefruit, oranges, and lemons through peel from top to bottom in 6 sections for grapefruit and 4 for oranges and lemons (don’t cut into fruit). Pull off strips of peel with your fingers. Slide a small, sharp knife along inside of peels to remove excess membrane so peels are about 1/4 inches thick. Cut peels lengthwise into strips about 1/2 in. wide in center and tapered on ends.

Put peels in a 3- to 4-quart saucepan and add cold water to cover. Bring to a boil, then drain. Repeat twice more.

Refill pan with 2 1/2 cups water and 2 1/2 cups sugar; bring to a boil, making sure that sugar dissolves. Add peels and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until peels turn translucent and syrup begins to form bigger bubbles, about 1 1/2 hours.

Drain peels, saving syrup for other uses (such as topping pancakes) if you like. Spread peels on a nonreactive cooling rack set on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Allow peels to dry completely, about 2-3 hours.(Store the candied peels in an airtight at room temperature for future use.)

Meanwhile, make the yuzu vinegrette. In a blender or food processor, puree all ingredients except oil until combined. Slowly add oil with blender running until all of the oil has been added.If you do not have a blender or food processor, then add all the ingredients to a bowl and whisk until well blended. Decant to a glass mason jar or cuvette and set aside.

To make the fennel slaw: Whisk together all ingredients except fennel. Trim fennel stalks flush with bulb, discarding stalks, and remove any discolored outer layers. Halve fennel through root end and discard core. Thinly slice fennel with a mandoline or other manual slicer.Place the fennel in a large bowl and toss the fennel with enough dressing to coat, then season with salt and pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

When you are ready to fry the croquettes, set up the breading station. In the first shallow dish add the flour. Whisk the eggs and add them to a shallow bowl. Add the breadcrumbs to a third shallow dish. Dip a duck conift ball, first in flour, then beaten eggs and finally in breadcrumbs. Set aside. Repeat until all the balls have been coated.

Add several inches of vegetable oil to a deep fryer or a large pot. Heat the oil to 360°F.  Deep-fry the croquettes in batches, if necessary until they are a nice golden brown in color. Remove from the oil and allow to drain on a paper towel lined plate.

To serve as an appetizer, with the fennel slaw,followed by the croquettes, topped with the candied citrus, micro herbs and the yuzu vinaigrette.

 

Cook’s Notes:
* You can substitute cornstarch for the flour for a gluten free option. Also use gluten-free breadcrumbs as an alternative to the the Panko.

**To save time, make the Citrus Candied Peel several days ahead and store at room temperature in an airtight container.

***This simple yuzu-soy vinaigrette goes well with many dishes, as a dressing for salads, cooked veggies, as a sauce for raw fish dishes such as tuna tartare or sashimi, or as a dip for homemade tempura. Yuzu marmalade (Yujacheong, 유자청), can be purchased from a local Asian Markets. If you cannot find Yuzu juice at your local supermarkets, you can use lemon juice as a substitute.

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Thank you so much!

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Crab Mac ‘N Cheese

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Wow!

I cannot believe it.  This is my 500th Post on this Blog and I cannot think of a better way to celebrate with my favorite comfort food.

I absolutely love Macaroni and Cheese and this is a very special dish meant for any occasion. The homemade bechamel sauce compliments the sweet jumbo lump crab meat perfectly. Serve it as a side dish or as an entree it’s a fantastic and budget friendly way to serve crab meat to a crowd with style.

Serves 6

Ingredients
1 1/2 pounds conchigliette pasta*
1/4 cup butter
1 shallot, finely diced
3 cloves garlic,finely minced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup shredded white Cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup shredded Asiago cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 pound jumbo lump crab meat, picked over
Chopped fresh parsley or crushed dried parsley, for garnish

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375ºF. In a large pot of boiling water, cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain and return to pot.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Add shallot and garlic and cook until fragrant and softened,for 3 minutes. Add flour and whisk until combined and golden, for about 1 minute. Add milk and season with salt and pepper. Simmer 2 minutes, until sauce is thickened and smooth.

Stir in 1/2 white cheddar, the mozzarella and Asiago until slightly melted, then remove from heat.

Add the bechamel sauce and crab meat to pot with cooked pasta and gently stir with a wooden spoon until completely combined.

Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheddar and 1/4 cup Parmesan and bake until bubbly, for 20 minutes.

Garnish the dish with parsley and serve immediately.

*Cooks Notes:
Conchiglie [koŋˈkiʎʎe], is a type of pasta in which the name is derived from the Italian word “conchiglia” .Commonly known as “shells” or “seashells” , this pasta is usually sold in the plain durum wheat variety, and also in colored varieties which use natural pigments, such as tomato extract, squid ink or spinach extract. The shell shape of the pasta allows the sauce to adhere to it. A miniature variety called conchigliette is also available.

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Thank you so much!

 

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Creole Herb Crusted Lamb

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This rack of lamb recipe is simply delicious. Beautifully coated with a flavourful herb crust and cooked to perfection, serve it at your next dinner party and impress your guests. When purchasing lamb, ask for lamb that has been grass-fed from birth to market. It is healthiest for you and delicious!

Serves 4 

INGREDIENTS
For the Lamb:
2 racks of lamb, cut in half with 3 bones per serving
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil(for browning)
4 to 5 garlic cloves
1 bouquet of thyme
2 tablespoons Creole  mustard*

For the Herb Crust:
3 cups Japanese Panko breadcrumbs
1 1/2 cup  fresh parsley, stems included
1 cup baby spinach
1/3 cup of mint (optional)
4 sprigs thyme (leaves only)
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black, pepper to taste
1/4 cup  Parmesan cheese, grated
Splash of  olive oil

DIRECTIONS:
Heat oven to 400°F.

Select a cast iron skillet.

Remove the fat cap if present. Cut each rack into 3-4 bones each (approximately one serving).  NOTE: Do not cut all the way to the meat. Season on all sides with salt and pepper.

Heat the skillet to very hot, add olive oil until it is shimmering.  Add a bouquet of thyme, cloves of garlic. Place the lamb in skillet and sear on all sides of meat  and using tongs sear the ends, to give it a nice dark color.

Once browned, place the racks skin-side-down in the skillet, and into the oven for 12 minutes.

Preparing the Crust: Place the panko  breadcrumbs, herbs, spinach and Parmesan cheese into a blender or a  food processor and pulse several times until you have a very fine  green crumb. Add a splash of the olive oil and continue pulsing for a few more seconds. NOTE: It will still look like dry crumbs, but when you pinch it, it should stick together well. Pour onto a plate.

When lamb has been in for 12 minutes, remove from oven and brush all sides with  mustard. Then press each rack into the crumb mixture, coating on all sides and pressing it to get an nice even coating. Shake off any excess. Dip several times to ensure an even coating. Allow meat to rest for a bit.

Place the racks (this time skin-side-up) in a baking dish.  Place back into the oven for another 8-10 minutes (longer if you want well-done), Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of each rack. NOTE: The chops may be cooked to 145 °F (medium rare),160 °F (medium), or 170 °F (well done).

Serve the lamb with potatoes boulangère and courgettes provençal, but you can serve with anything you find fitting to your taste.

Cook’s Notes:
You can substitute Dijon mustard for the Creole mustard, if desired.

Chilled English Pea Soup with Crab and Meyer Lemon

Chilled English Pea Soup with Crab and Meyer Lemon

Photo Credit: Eric Wolfinger, Food and Wine Magazine, 2018

 

By SARAH HELLER
Food and Wine Magzine
April 2018

This refreshing, verdant English pea and watercress soup is the perfect base for a zesty crab salad. Chef Sarah Heller of Napa’s Radish Leaf Cuisine folds sweet Dungeness crab with Meyer lemon, crème fraîche, and a host of delicate spring herbs before mounding atop each serving of the soup. Any lump crab meat or cooked, chilled shrimp would also work.

Serves 6

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for garnish
1 small sweet onion, diced
2 small celery stalks, diced
1 garlic clove, smashed
2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
3 cups whole milk, divided
5 cups fresh English peas, shelled
2 bunches watercress (about 4 ounces), rinsed
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/4 cup crème fraîche
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives, plus more for garnish
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
1 teaspoon Meyer lemon zest
3 tablespoons fresh Meyer lemon juice, divide
1/2 pound cooked Dungeness or other lump crabmeat
Pea tendrils and freshly ground black pepper, for garnish (optional)

Directions:
Heat oil in a large saucepan over low. Add onion, celery, garlic, and 1 teaspoon salt. Sauté until onions are translucent, 10 to 12 minutes. Add 2 cups milk; bring to a simmer, and cook until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat; let cool slightly.

While vegetables are cooking, prepare a large bowl of ice water and bring a large pot of water to a boil over high. Add peas to pot, return to a boil, and cook until peas are bright green and just tender, about 2 minutes. Remove peas with a slotted spoon, and immediately plunge into ice water. Return water in pot to a boil, add watercress, and cook until bright green and wilted, about 1 minute. Plunge watercress into ice water. Drain peas and watercress; set aside peas. Squeeze watercress to remove as much water as possible.

Combine peas, watercress, and remaining 1 cup milk in a blender. Process on high until smooth. Working in batches if necessary, add onion mixture to blender; process on high until smooth. Pour through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a bowl; discard solids. Season with remaining 1 teaspoon salt and white pepper. Cover and chill until ready to serve, at least 2 hours or up to 1 day.

Whisk together crème fraîche, 1 tablespoon chives, 1 tablespoon dill, tarragon, lemon zest, and 2 tablespoons lemon juice in a medium bowl. Gently fold in crab. Chill until ready to serve, at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.

Stir remaining 1 tablespoon lemon juice into soup. To serve, pour 3/4 cup soup into each bowl, add one large dollop of crab salad in center of soup, and drizzle with oil. Garnish with chives, pea tendrils, and black pepper, if desired.

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Pappardelle with Butternut Squash, Radicchio and Fennel

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Serves 2 to 3

Ingredients:
9 ounces of  Pappardelle pasta (home made or commercially prepared)
2 cups butternut squash, diced
2 cups fresh radicchio, shredded
1/2 cup fresh fennel, shredded
1 garlic clove, minced
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons white vinegar
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Fresh chopped parsley, for garnish
Grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino cheese  (optional)

 
Directions:
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

Heat 4 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat; add garlic and cook for 1 minute stirring occasionally. Add the squash and sauté for 5-6 minutes on high heat until the squash is golden and crispy.  Remove from the pan and set aside. Add the radicchio and vinegar, lower the heat and cook until wilted. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Cook the Pappardelle according to package directions and drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water. Transfer the Pappardelle to the pan adding a little of the pasta cooking water to loosen if needed, then add the remaining oil and toss to combine.

Add the fennel. Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Divide among plates, garnish with chopped parsley and serve.

Sprinkle with grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese or grated Pecorino cheese if desired.

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Cuban Chicken Soup with Plantain Dumplings

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Recipe adapted from the cookbook
Cuba! Recipes and Stories from the Cuban Kitchen
by Dan Goldberg, Andrea Kuhn and Jody Eddy
2016

The winter doldrums continue and there is nothing more perfect than a comforting bowl of chicken soup to warm your soul.

But wait!

This is not your grandmother’s chicken soup and dumpling recipe, unless you’re fortunate enough to have a Cuban grandmother. With its long simmering time and the addition of calabaza, a tiny orange-and-white squash, this is a wonderful way to warm up on a chilly day. The additional of Bijol, a traditional Cuban blend of ground achiote, cumin and corn flour, infuses the soup with a pleasant yellow color, but if you don’t have a Latin specialty market in the neighborhood, a pinch of turmeric makes a good substitute. The plantain dumplings are a lovely combination of sweet and savory, but they do not hold well. If you have leftover soup, the dumplings will completely disintegrate overnight. If you are not planning to eat all the soup in one dinner serving, add only enough dumplings to suit your hunger pangs, then freeze the soup without dumplings and whip them up whenever you are ready to dive into the leftovers.

And like every recipe, this soup has many variations throughout the Caribbean and Latin America. In Ecuador it is known as Caldo de Bolas and in Columbia, it is called  Sopa de Pollo y Platano Verde. Where as in Puerto Rico it takes on the name  Sopa De Pollo con Mofongo which is considered the Puerto Rican version of Matzah Ball Soup. Imagine that!

Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients:
For the Soup:
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts*
1 yellow onion, diced
2 celery stalks, sliced 1/2 inch thick
2 carrots, sliced 1/2 inch thick
4 garlic cloves, very thinly sliced
2 1/2 quarts chicken stock
2 cups calabaza squash, cut into 1-inch dice
2 tomatoes, diced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Bijol (optional)*
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

For the plantain dumplings:
2 ripe plantains, peeled
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 egg
1/4 cup finely ground yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup rice flour

Directions:
In a large pot over high heat, combine the chicken, onion, celery, carrots and garlic. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 25 minutes.

Using tongs, remove the chicken from the pot and set aside to cool slightly. Using 2 fork, shred the chicken into bite-size pieces. Return the chicken to the pot and add the squash, tomatoes, cumin cinnamon and Bijol. Simmer over medium heat until the squash is tender, 10 to 15 minutes.

While the soup is simmering, make the dumplings: Place the plantains in a microwave-safe bowl with 2 teaspoons water and cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Microwave until very soft, about 2 minutes. (If you don’t have a microwave, place the plantains in a fry pan with 1/3 cup  water, cover with a tight-fitting lid and cook over medium heat until the plantains are soft, 12 to 15 minutes. NOTE: Do not use any more water than this or  the plantain’s sweetness will leach out into the water. Sprinkle the plantains with the salt and pepper and mash them with a fork until smooth. Add  egg, cornmeal and rice flour to the plantain mixture until a combined. Roll the mashed plantain into smooth balls about 1 inch in diameter.

Drop the plantain dumplings into the soup and cook for 10 minutes. Remove the soup from the heat, season with salt and pepper, and stir in the parsley. Ladle into bowls and serve immediately.

*Cook’s Notes:
Six to seven bone-in chicken thighs can be substituted for the chicken breast if you like more flavor to the soup.

If Bijol or tumeric are not readily available, Goya Sazon Culantro y Achiote® seasoning is available in most major supermarkets and grocery stores. With its combination of garlic, cumin, coriander seed, it can be the perfect seasoning for this soup, also giving a vibrant red orange color that is visually appealing.

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