Eggs Florentine

A lighter low-carb and vegetarian version of the classic dish, but if you don’t care about those things, you’d never know it.

Ingredients

  • 1 large bunch spinach
  • 2 portobello mushroom caps
  • 1 TB butter
  • 2 TB Neufchâtel or light cream cheese
  • Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1-2 TB grated Parmesan or Romano
  • 2-4 oz shredded Swiss gruyere
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 beefsteak tomato
  • Olive oil
  • Cider vinegar
  • Salt and pepper


Directions

  1. First, prepare the spinach mixture, which is the most complicated part of the dish.
    I prefer mature fresh whole spinach for this, as it has more flavour, but you could also use a bag of pre-washed baby spinach for convenience.
    Trim the spinach and remove the stems, keeping only the leaves.
    Wash the spinach well, if sandy you’ll need to fully submerge, swish it around, then lift out of the water, and repeat. If you pour the water out leaving the spinach behind, the sand will get right back into it.
    Spin dry in a salad spinner, or drain well and blot with a paper towel to keep from getting too soggy.
    Once clean and dry, coarsely chop up the spinach. If using frozen or bagged spinach, you can skip all of the above and jump down to here.
  2. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat, and add the spinach. If it doesn’t all fit, add half and stir for 30 seconds until it starts to wilt and makes room for the rest.
  3. Stir in the cream cheese, season with nutmeg, salt, and pepper, Parmesan, and half of the shredded cheese. Cook it down until you have a nice smooth mixture, the spinach is tender, and the cheese fully melted. Set aside and keep warm.
  4. Prepare the mushroom caps by drizzling with olive oil and seasoning with salt and pepper. Broil a couple of minutes on each side until they just start to brown and soften, but still retain their shape.
  5. Slice the tomato to extract two thick slices from the center. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Broil for 1-2 minutes to warm up (to save time, add to oven when you flip the mushrooms).
  6. Eggs: Heat a shallow saucepan with generously salted boiling water, add a splash of vinegar, and keep at a gentle simmer. Swirl the water with a slotted spoon to create a whirlpool, and carefully break an egg into the center. Poach for 3 minutes, then remove and drain. Repeat with the second egg.
  7. Assembly: Start with the mushroom cap, with the top facing down on the plate, so it can be stuffed. Add a slice of tomato, then a generous heap of the spinach, and top with the egg, then garnish with the reserved shredded cheese.

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Cornish Hen

These things are wonderful, and lately have dropped in price to almost the same as a regular full size chicken, but so much more fun. A really easy way to make a mundane chicken meal into a fancy feast. They are sometimes called Rock Game Hens, or Cornish Hens, or variations of the above. There is probably some technical difference, but at this point they are used interchangeably to mean “small chicken”. I have also not researched to lean how they relate to the French poussin or the Israeli paragiot. Just get the frozen ones by Purdue and move on.

Ingredients

  • 1 Cornish hen
  • 1-2 TB poultry seasoning spice mix
  • juice of one orange
  • 1-2 TB butter
  • 2-3 TB orange marmalade (and/or apricot preserves)
  • 2-3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1-2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • chopped fresh rosemary and/or thyme

Directions

1. For best results, brine first if you have the time. This has the advantage of defrosting while it soaks, and because they are small you can do it all in a medium bowl in the fridge overnight. Any brine solution for poultry will work fine, or just dump in some kosher salt and cover with water and toss in a couple of bay leaves, cloves, a stick of cinnamon, and peppercorns and leave overnight.

2. Remove from the brine a few hours before cooking, pat dry, and refrigerate uncovered until ready to cook so it can air dry further, which results in nice crispy skin.

3. If not brining/drying, you can start from this step. Using a heavy knife or poultry shears, spatchcock the bird by cutting down along the backbone, and splay open to butterfly.

4. Season liberally on both sides with your favorite poultry seasoning mix (e.g. Bells or rubbed sage, garlic powder, paprika, black pepper)
5. Roast in a preheated 450°F oven for about 25 minutes until cooked through and golden brown.
6. While it roasts, make the sauce: In a small saucepan, melt the butter and marmalade with the garlic until bubbly, then stir in the mustard, orange juice, and seasonings. Bring back to a simmer and reduce slightly. If too tart, add some honey.

7. After 20 minutes of cooking, remove bird from oven, and baste well with the sauce, then return and finish cooking for a few more minutes.

Cooked bird, before adding sauce:

The sauce will bubble and reduce when it hits the hot pan.

Beets With Ricotta

The trick here is to use high quality fresh ricotta. I boiled the beets in the pressure cooker, but you can also roast them if you prefer.

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch beets
  • Fresh ricotta
  • Juice from 1 orange
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Fig balsamic vinegar
  • EVOO
  • Salt and pepper
  • Fresh basil and/or mint
  • 6-10 Pistachios, crushed

Directions

  1. Wash, peel, and cook the beets. They can be boiled, steamed, roasted, or cooked under pressure. Either gold or purple beets work, or a combo. They should be cooked through but still al dente.
  2. Cover beets with cold water and cool until they can easily be handled, then cut into bite sized chunks or slices.
  3. While the beets are cooking, prepare the dressing: in a large bowl, whisk together the orange juice, olive oil, vinegars, nuts, herbs, and seasoning. If too tart, add some honey. If too sweet, add some lemon juice. I used about 1 TB each vinegar, 1/2 TB oil, but adjust to taste.
  4. Toss the beets with the dressing, and then gently stir in the ricotta.

Lentils with Sausage and Spinach

Super easy 3 ingredient 1 pot meal that tastes like it took hours to make., perfect for a mid-week evening.

Ingedients

  • 3 large or 4 small sausages
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 1 package baby spinach

Directions

  1. Brown the sausages in a 4 quart saucepan with a cover. Use a squirt of cooking spray, olive oil, or ghee to keep from sticking
  2. Add lentils and 3.5 cups hot water
  3. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to simmer with cover slightly ajar to allow steam to escape
  4. After 15 minutes, add spinach by the handful, mixing into the hot lentils until wilted so it all fits.
  5. Cook covered for another 10 minutes until spinach is cooked and lentils are soft.

Notes

  1. Use a strongly flavoured sausage such as chorizo or merguez. If sausage is mildly spiced, you may need to add some additional seasoning such as garlic, coriander, fennel, cumin, salt and pepper, etc. to the lentils.
  2. The dish can be made more elaborate if desired. Diced carrots, chopped onion, etc can be sauteed with the sausage. And/or use chicken/beef broth instead of water.
  3. Other greens would work great too, such as arugula or kale. If using the mature varieties, then either parcook prior to adding, or add earlier in the process (e.g. at the same time as the lentils).

Tuna Salad

Looking for ways to dress up that tired soggy mess? Of course you are.

  • 1 can tuna, drained
  • 1 anchovy fillet
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 TB plain greek yoghurt
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 endive
  • 1/2 tsp herbs de Provence
  • seasonings to taste: salt, pepper, cayenne, sumac
  1. In a morter & pestle, smash together the anchovy with the garlic
  2. mix the tuna with the dressing and the anchovy garlic paste
  3. Season to taste with salt and pepper, cayenne, and sumac
  4. rinse and trim endive, separate the leaves. Optional: Chop the endive core finely and add to the tuna for crunch, in place of the typical tasteless celery. Omit it a smooth texture is desired.
  5. Spoon a bit of the tuna into the center of each leaf, or spread it out to a uniform thickness if you have the patience.
  6. Drizzle with a few drops of olive oil and dust with seasonings, or granish with some finely chopped fresh herbs and/or scallions/chives.
  7. Serve with a crisp white wine, or some hot tea.

Green Bean and Tomato Salad

Simple recipe, but elegant.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound string beans, washed and trimmed
  • Grape or small cherry tomatoes
  • 1-2 large scallions, sliced thin
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
  • 1 finely chopped shallot
  • 1 mashed anchovy
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Directions

  1. Boil the egg for 9-10 minutes, cool in ice water, peel and quarter.
  2. Steam a bunch of trimmed string beans for about 4 minutes, then drain and shock in ice water.
  3. Make the dressing by whisking the oil into the shallots, mustard, anchovy, and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper
  4. Toss the dressing with the drained green beans, scallions and tomatoes. Slice tomatoes in half if large, or leave whole.
  5. Garnish with egg wedges.

Based on the following recipe from the New York Times:

Green Bean and Tomato Salad
by Pierre Franey

Time: 20 minutes
Yield: 4 servings
http://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/10047-green-bean-and-tomato-salad

INGREDIENTS

1 pound string beans or small haricots verts
6 ripe tomatoes
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
4 tablespoons finely chopped shallots or green onions
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
4 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4 tablespoons coarsely chopped basil

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Lechon Kawali 

This Filipino dish is deceptively simple, albeit a bit time consuming. But the results are well worth it. Basically , it’s deep fried pork belly, the part of the animal that bacon comes from. But the different preparation makes it quite unique. 

Ingredients 

  • Piece of pork belly, 1-3 lbs, with skin
  • Oil for frying
  • Onion
  • Bay leaves 
  • Cane vinegar 
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Soy sauce

Directions

  1. Trim any excess fat from the meat. If it has the bones, they can stay for more flavor, but will be easier to work with if removed. 
  2. Traditionally, the meat is boiled for about 45 minutes with salt, an onion and bay leaves. I also add garlic and black peppercorns, maybe a dried red chili or two and some coriander and mustard seeds. The same basic mix I’d use for corned beef. Instead of salt, I also prefer soy sauce and Worcestershire, adds more flavour and nice colour. 
  3. Instead of boiling, which sucks out a lot of the meaty flavour into the broth, this time I tried pre cooking it sous vide. I slathered the meat with a mild ancho chilli rub, then sprinkled lightly with Worcestershire and soy sauce. Should have added a crushed clove of garlic and a bay leaf. I let it stew for about 4 hours at 165°F, but a couple more hours wouldn’t have hurt it. For a firmer texture lower the heat a bit, but not below 150°F. 
  4. After the boil, drain and air dry on a wire rack in fridge for at least a couple of hours, or overnight. 
  5. Heat the oil in a large pot to 350-375°. A cast iron skillet works, but it tends to splatter so an 8 quart pot with tall sides is safer and less messy. 
  6. Although it can be fried whole, I like to slice it into smaller pieces about 1″ thick to increase the amount of crispy surface area. Anything from 3/4″-2″ will work fine. Season the exposed surfaces lightly with salt. 
  7. Ideally the chunks will be deep fried, but if you don’t want to use a gallon of oil, make sure there is enough to cover at least halfway up the sides. Turn a couple of times to brown evenly on all sides, then remove to paper towels on a wire rack to drain.

Dipping Sauce

There is a traditional liver sauce that often accompanies this dish, but I prefer a simpler vinegar dipping sauce. The acidity balances the richness of the fried meat. 

Mix the following ingredients in a non-reactive bowl, and allow to sit for a bit to allow the flavors to meld and mellow. It will give you something to do while the oil heats up. 

  • 2-4 TB cane vinegar
  • 1-2 TB native vinegar (dark)
  • 1-2 TB soy sauce 
  • 1-2 clove garlic, crushed/minced
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Splash fish sauce (optional)

Notes

  1. The same technique can also be done with a hunk of corned beef for a pig-free version. Not quite as delightfully unctuous, but brings a whole new level of texture. 
  2. For extra crispy skin, some people sprinkle some water over it while fries. But this is obviously messy and potentially dangerous. I’ve also seen people dust the meat lightly with baking soda before frying, but haven’t tried it. If the oil is hot, the skin gets plenty crisp for my taste. 

After the sous vide and cooling, ready to slice and fry:

The low frying pan was a bad idea, lots of splatter:


Final product, about to be devoured:

Rhubarb Chicken 

This is easily one of the Top Ten Best Things I have ever cooked. Not actually that difficult or time consuming, as the ingredients do most of the work, but the results are stunning.  
Alas, as is usually the case with my cooking, I did not measure anything, so the quantities are quite approximate, and there is a lot of leeway to adjust to taste. The amounts listed are for two chicken breast halves (i.e. one chicken’s worth), because that is what I had left over from the whole chicken I cooked the other day, but can obviously be scaled to feed the family and/or have leftovers.

I have included links to the two donor recipes below, so you can follow along and be a bit more precise, as well as decide if you like my deviations or prefer the originals.

Ingredients

• 2 chicken breasts

• All-purpose flour

• Light olive oil

• A bunch of Fresh thyme sprigs

• 1 large or two medium shallots, coarsely chopped

• 2 large cloves garlic, coarsely chopped

• 1 large rib of rhubarb, coarsely chopped

• 1 tsp Dijon mustard

• 1 tsp orange blossom honey

• 1 TB each gin, cachaça, dry vermouth

• Salt & Pepper to taste (French Atlantic Sea Salt and Freshly ground mixed peppercorns)

• Mint sauce for serving (see below)

Directions

1. Marinate the chicken or dry brine with salt, pepper, and thyme for a couple of hours.

2. Dry chicken and dredge in flour, cover thoroughly and coat all of the nooks and crannies.

3. Place chicken pieces one a time between two sheets of wax paper, and pound out into thin cutlets, about 1/4-1/2” thick.

4. Redredge chicken in flour, and heat olive oil in large non-stick skillet.

5. Sauté chicken until golden brown, then flip and add chopped veggies and thyme.

6. Mix the mustard, wine/liquor, salt, pepper, and honey, then add to pan when chicken is almost done, and shake to deglaze anything stuck to the bottom and coat evenly. The liquid should all be absorbed, as this is not the sauce for the dish, just the flavouring.

7. For serving, top each cutlet with a spoonful of rhubarb, and garnish with a thyme sprig, and some scattered chopped mint and parsley leaves. Serve with the mint sauce alongside so it can be added to taste.

Mint sauce

• 1 cup mint leaves

• ½ cup flat leaf parsley

• 1 large serrano pepper, seeded

• 4 small cloves garlic

• 1 TB Dijon mustard

• 1 TB honey

• 1 TB gin or cachaça (optional)

• Salt and pepper to taste

• ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

• ¼ cup water

Add the vegetables to food processor or blender and pulse until finely minced. Then add oil in thin stream. Add water as necessary to keep it from sticking and allow for smooth blending.

Notes

The original recipe calls for bone-in chicken pieces, which obviously takes a lot longer to cook. I like the freshness of using the thin cutlets and the resulting quick cook time.

Would be good with a nice white wine, but since I don’t really drink those, I would go for as good of a pinot noir as you can afford.


1. Skillet Chicken With Rhubarbby Melissa Clark

http://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1016577-skillet-chicken-with-rhubarb
INGREDIENTS

1 (5 1/2-pound) whole chicken, cut into eight pieces

1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, more as needed

1 teaspoon black pepper, more as needed

5 sprigs thyme, preferably lemon thyme

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 bunch spring onions or scallions, white and light green stalks thinly sliced (slice and reserve greens for garnish)

2 stalks green garlic, thinly sliced, or 2 garlic cloves, minced

½ cup dry white wine

¾ pound fresh rhubarb, cut into 1/2-inch dice (3 cups)

1 tablespoon honey, or to taste

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces

2. Bobby Flay’s Pan-Roasted Chicken With Mint Sauce

by Sam Sifton

https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1016604-bobby-flays-pan-roasted-chicken-with-mint-sauce

INGREDIENTS

4 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts

Kosher salt to taste

2 tablespoons Spanish paprika

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons ground mustard

2 teaspoons ground fennel seed

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup fresh mint leaves

½ cup fresh parsley leaves

4 cloves garlic, peeled and roughlychopped

1 serrano chile, seeds removed androughly chopped

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly groundblack pepper.
Download The New York Times Cooking App on the App Store.

Rappie Pie (Chicken Potato Kugel)

This is a traditional Acadian recipe from Nova Scotia, which I slightly adapted to serve as the centerpiece for Yom Haatzmaut. In this form, it could easily pass as a traditional Jewish kugel or Israeli pashtida. 

Ingredients 

1 whole chicken

8 cups water

6-8 Potatoes 

1 large onion, trimmed with peel

1 large onion, peeled

1 large Carrot, peeled

1-2 stalks Celery, with leaves

2 parsnips

2 fresh bay leaves

Salt and pepper
Directions 

1. Cut chicken into pieces, reserving skin and fat

2. Cut the skin into small pieces, and render over low heat in small pan

3. boil chicken with veg to make well seasoned broth, until chicken is just cooked through. 

4. Debone chicken and cut into bite sized pieces

5. Add bones and trimmings back to stock pot and continue to simmer

6. Grate potatoes, 1 parsnip, 1 onion. squeeze out all water in cheesecloth or large strainer. Weight down so it drains completely. 

7. Add back broth to potatoes equal to volume of liquid that was drained. Stir well. Adjust amount of broth, should be slightly soupy but well incorporated, about 3 cups. 

8. Into greased baking pan, add half of the potatoes, spread chicken, then remainder of potatoes. Top with pieces of chicken skin and drizzle with about 2 TB of the rendered schmaltz. Slices of the boiled carrot and parsnip can also be added for decoration. 

9. Bake 45 minutes at 425°F, lower heat to 400°F and bake additional hour or until potatoes are cooked through, broth has been absorbed, and top is golden brown and pulling away from edges of pan. 
Serving

For a festive meal, serve the strained broth as first course, with challah to sop. The pie is both a main course and side dish, liven and lighten up the plate with a generous spoonful of Israeli salad dressed with lemon juice and garnished with flat parsley. Salt, pepper, and harissa should be provided to season to taste. 
Notes

1. The traditional recipe calls for buttering the dish, and topping with bacon or salt pork instead of chicken skin. 

2. Use PEI potatoes if you can get them, or other thin skinned northeastern potato. No need to peel unless you really want to. 

3. Use a pressure pot to speed up the soup making. 20 minutes under pressure is plenty 

4. Add extra chicken bones, wing tips, giblets, and feet to make a richer broth. Instead of a whole chicken, use 4-6 chicken leg quarters 

5. To make the grating easy, use food processor. Mine doesn’t have a grating disc, so I use either the julienne or fine shred disc, then pulse with blade in batches to break up the strands. This is the technique I use for making latkes. Works great, is super fast, and no skinned knuckles!

6. Butter and maple syrup are traditional condiments, but I don’t see it. 
Ref: https://www.justapinch.com/recipes/main-course/chicken/rappie-pie.html 

Breadsticks 

Italian style as interpreted by American chain style restaurants as interpreted by me (less butter and salt, more garlic). 

Quick & Easy to make, good for kids and those getting started working with yeast. 
Dough

1 cup warm water

2 1/4 tsp yeast

1 TB sugar

3 cups flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp olive oil 
Filling

4 cloves garlic, minced finely (use garlic press)

4 tb grated parmesan cheese 

1 tsp salt

1 tsp olive oil 

1 TB Italian herbs

1 tsp garlic powder
Directions 

1. Preheat oven to 450°F

2. In bowl of stand mixer, add water, yeast, and sugar. Mix and allow to wake up while making filling.

3. Mix filling ingredients in small bowl

4. Add flour and held of filling to mixer. Mix on low speed until incorporated. Switch to kneading hook and knead for about five minutes until dough is elastic and smooth. 

5. Spread out dough into wide rectangle. Dimple with fingers as if for focaccia. Fold the left third and the right third into the middle, and reform into large rectangle. 

6. Place dough on baking sheet, top with remaining filling, and drizzle with olive oil. 

7. Using pizza cutter, score dough into thin strips (don’t cut through)

8. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

9. Serve with warm marinara sauce for the dipping. 


Based on:

https://communitytable.parade.com/10408/donnaelick/30-minute-cheesy-italian-bread-sticks/

Next time I will try za’atar and feta or kashkeval for a mid eastern version. 

Would also be good with cinnamon sugar for dessert.