Saturday, August 29, 2009

Happy Weekend :: Roasted Heirloom Tomato Pasta

Have you ever started making a dish just to end up making something totally different?  Well, it happened to me yesterday.  It's starting to get a little chillier here in NYC (well, and by chilly I mean it's 75F instead of the recent 95F and humid) so I was excited to make a roasted tomato soup with these beautiful heirloom cherry tomatoes.   I love seasoning and roasting vegetables before making a soup, it makes them nuttier and sweeter.  And tomato soup is one of my favorite fall dishes.

Well , when the tomatoes came out of the oven, they looked so juicy and delicious, and the whole kitchen was filled with the smell of basil and oregano, that we couldn't help it and poured them over fettuccine instead.  So roasted tomato soup became a roasted heirloom tomato pasta sauce. ... And by far the easiest, no mess, pasta sauce I've ever made!  The tomatoes have so much juice and flavor, there's no need to add anything else to them once they come out of the oven.  Just pour them over pasta and enjoy!

2 cups heirloom tomatoes, 
1 clove of garlic, chopped,
1/2 a white onion, slice
Kosher Salt
Olive oil
Springs of basil and oregano
Pasta, I used fettuccine

Preheat oven to 350F. 

In an oven safe pan, spread the tomatoes (cut the small tomatoes in half) and onions.  Pour a bit of olive oil on top of the tomatoes, and mix so the oil coats all the pieces.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and a add your herbs and garlic.  

Place in the oven and cook until the tomatoes are soft and browning.  About 20 minutes.  In the meanwhile cook the pasta and drain.  Pour the tomatoes over the cooked pasta.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Summer Salad :: Vietnamese Chicken & Cabbage Salad

Cabbage has been in our CSA a few times this summer, but I have a sad confession to make... I have yet to use it.  I've actually let it go bad twice already. :-(  I try to use up all of our CSA goodies, coming up with new recipes, scouring blogs and cookbooks for new ideas, even freezing or preserving fruits when we've had more cakes and tarts than any diet can allow.  But somehow the cabbage has slipped through the cracks.  Probably because I kept thinking of coleslaw which is not very exciting, and A. hates mayo!  

Well, that won't happen again, I found this yummy recipe for a Vietnamese chicken and cabbage salad.  So, last night I stopped by the store, bought a bottle of fish sauce, made a couple of changes (like using cilantro instead of mint), and decided to give it a try.  Glad I did... it was delicious!  The cabbage is perfectly crispy, and the freshness is a great balance with the spicy (yes, a little spicy!) chile dressing.  

VIETNAMESE CHICKEN & CABBAGE SALAD (adapted from Nigella Lawson)
1 Thai Chile (or 1/3 habanero chile)
1 garlic clove
1 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp vinegar
1 1/2 tbsp lime juice
1 1/2 tbsp thai fish sauce (nuoc nam)
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 medium white onion, grated
Salt to taste
1 1/2 cups chopped cabbage
1 large carrot, chopped
2 large chicken breast (marinated with the juice of 1/2 a lime, 2 tbsp of soy sauce, 1 tsp of honey, and pepper)
a bunch of cilantro, roughly chopped

In a small bowl, combine the chiles, sugar, garlic, vinegar, lime juice, fish sauce, olive oil, and onions.  Add a dash of salt.  Whisk until mixed, and place in the fridge.  

Grill or sautee the chicken breast. Remove from pan and allow to cool then slice.

Combine the cabbage , carrots and chicken in a large bowl.  Toss with the dressing, and sprinkle the cilantro on top.


PS: Be careful when chopping the chilles!  The spice will stay on your fingers, so stay clear of your eyes (which I didn't do ...ouch! double ouch!), and wash your hands. :-)

Oh...and for dessert? Slices of a mini carrot cake from Citarella! Yum...

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Lunchbox :: Heirloom Tomato & Yellow Zucchini Flatbread

We got beautiful heirloom tomatoes as part of the CSA this week, along with pretty little round yellow zucchinis. I am always amazed at how different heirloom vegetables look from what you are used to. The colors of the tomatoes are almost tie-dyed! :-)

I was also looking forward to using the fresh herbs from my windowsill garden so I came up with this seasonal flatbread recipe. The fresh herbs add the finishing touch! It makes the perfect quick meal, or even as an appetizer when entertaining friends. I made it last night after we had dinner, yes, after dinner! But I sliced it in half and packed it up in two 'to go' containers for a next day take-to-work lunchbox. A. was very excited! ...and I suspect ate part of his before lunch. :-)

You can substitute the vegetables or even the cheese for what you have in season. I'm already thinking of a fig and mascarpone version for Fall... yum!

1 round frozen pizza dough (defrosted)
1 giant heirloom tomato (I think our variety is called Brandywine)
1 round yellow zucchini
Olive Oil
1 1/2 cups mozzarella
Salt & pepper to taste
Sprinkle of Parmesan
2 tbsp fresh herbs (I used a combination of basil, oregano, and chives)

Preheat oven to 425F.

Spread defrosted pizza dough on greased cookie pan in a rectangular shape. Don't worry, it doesn't need to be exact, just stretch the dough as much as you can without breaking it. Salt the dough lightly with salt.

Cook the dough in the oven for 8-10 minutes, or until you start getting a crust. Cool for 15 minutes.

When cool, drizzle a bit of olive oil on the dough. Then spread the cheese evenly on top. Arrange the slices of tomatoes and zucchini on top of the cheese. Dust lightly with Parmesan cheese. Add a bit of pepper, and sprinkle the cut herbs.

Cook for another 5-8 minutes until the cheese is melted. Place the oven on broil for a couple of minutes. Remove, and cool for 5 minutes.

Enjoy! ... or in this case: reheat an enjoy!

Monday, August 24, 2009

NYC Herb Garden :: Basil, Oregano, and Chives

I was VERY excited when A. got me a small herb garden back in June!  I'd been talking about getting indoor herbs for months.  I buy herbs every week and have a hard time using them all before they spoil.  So I wanted a little garden that I could reach over to and cut a few leaves of basil when I needed them.   Something that would grow in our city apartment.

Then, one day, there it was... my little plot of land! All in a box: 3 ceramic pots, a big bag of dirt, and 3 seed packets.

I'll be honest though, I love flowers, but I've never had a plant.  Could I really take care of this little garden... actually... would I even get it to grow? ...Well, it did! I planted the seeds, added water, and covered each pot in plastic wrap for a week (imagine mini greenhouses).  Then it started to sprout! I have since watered it every day and even rotate the jars every few days (I realized the basil was growing much faster and shadowing the oregano).

Today was my first harvest: Fresh basil, oregano, and chives!  I can hardly believe it - here are a few pics of the two month process: from little sprouts to cut herbs.  Lots of recipes to follow. :-)

PS: I'm hoping to see the Edible Garden exhibit at the Botanical Gardens this weekend!

Just Dessert :: Apple & Apricot Coffee Cake

While A. was busy prepping for his paella on Saturday, I was in charge of dessert.  :-)

I found this delicious recipe for a dense/crispy cake topped with apricots on Chocolate & Zucchini (one of my favorite blogs!).  I also had some crisp apples from our CSA share, so I combined thinly sliced apples with the apricots.

Delicious! ...Plus the recipe is in grams so it gave me a chance to use my Escali light blue kitchen scale, which reminds me of a Vespa!

APPLE & APRICOT COFFEE CAKE (adapted from Chocolate & Zucchini)
300 grams red apples (thinly sliced)
200 grams ripe apricots
225 grams all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
dash of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp milk
1/2 tsp baking soda
150 grams of butter
100 grams of sugar
1 egg lightly beaten

1 tbsp plain yogurt
1 tbsp sugar
1 egg

Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Butter and lightly flour a 9" cake pan (I used a non-stick skillet).

Mix the flour, baking powder, salt, baking powder, and room temperature butter.  Add in the sugar, and mix.  Add the egg, vanilla, and milk.  Mix until fully combined.  Pour the batter into the pan.  It will be very think, almost like a bread dough, so spread it with a spatula or your hands if needed.  Place the apples in a circular pattern over the top of the mix with the apricots in the center.

In a bowl, combine the yogurt, sugar, and egg and beat with a fork. Pour the mixture over the top of the cake.  Put in the oven and bake for 40 minutes, or until golden.  Leave it in the turned off oven for another 15 minutes.

Serve with vanilla ice cream (I used Haagen Dazs Five Vanilla Bean).


Sunday, August 23, 2009

Dinner w/Friends :: Spanish Lamb & Eggplant Paella

Last year, my parents gave A. a large paella pan for his birthday. Along with the pan, came the recipe to my father's deliciously wonderful seafood paella!  We've been making seafood paella all year to much satisfaction, but this morning A. woke up and said he wanted to attempt a lamb paella.

I love lamb!  So I happily went along with the idea and we invited our neighbors - M. & G. along with their dog Lola, and our friends S. and L., over for dinner.  We spent the rest of the day walking around the neighborhood getting all of the supplies ready.

...The arroz bomba (rice) from Citarella, the saffron from Gourmet Garage, the veggies from Chelsea Market, and the wine from Le Du on Washington St.  

I love the amount of work that goes into a paella, it makes it taste that much better in the end. But don't be scared or hesitant to try it for yourself. Believe me - our kitchen is 6x7!  With a little prep this makes the perfect meal for when you are entertaining.   You don't have to start the cooking till your guests arrive, and everybody enjoys getting a sneak peak of how its going along.  Clean up is easy since it is all in one pan!  You can even cut this recipe in half, or even a third, and make a small paella for 2 in a large cast iron skillet if you don't have a paella pan.

A. does all of the chopping and marinating in the afternoon and then puts everything in little plastic bags ready to go, even the measured out amounts of spice.  When guests arrive, all you have to do is turn on the stove, and start cooking!

LAMB & EGGPLANT PAELLA (adapted from "Paella!" by Penelope Casas) Serves 8
1 pound eggplant (1/2 inch cubes, skin on) + 1 eggplant sliced.
8 cups chicken broth (if using a store bought broth, add a bit of celery, onion, cilantro and pepper and bring to a boil before using...even chicken pieces if you have some handy)
1/4 tsp saffron threads
8 + 2 tbsp olive oil, separated
2 pounds boneless leg of lamb (cubed)
Juice of one lime
3/4  tsp cayenne pepper
1 + 1/2 tsp ground cumin, separated
1 medium white onion, finely chopped
8 + 3 cloves garlic, minced, and separated
1 red pepper, finely chopped
1 large tomato, chopped
2 tbsp parsley, chopped
1/2 tsp oregano
4 cups Spanish Rice (Arroz Bomba)
1 cup green peas (defrost if you are using the frozen kind)
2 tbsp chopped cilantro

Season the lamb with 2 tbsp of olive oil, 3 cloves of garlic, 1 tsp cumin, cayenne pepper, lemon juice, and salt.  Allow to marinate for at least 1 hour in the fridge.  Season Eggplant with salt and allow to sit for 20 minutes.

Add the saffron the the broth and bring to a boil.  Allow to sit over low heat.

Heat the olive oil in the paella pan, over medium/high heat.  Take the lamb out of the fridge and pat each piece dry w/paper towels.  You want to make sure to remove excess liquid from the lamb pieces, else they will not brown.  Quickly saute the lamb until you have an outer crust (in should not be fully cooked).  Remove the lamb from the pan and set aside.  Add the onion, peppers, and garlic to the the pan and saute until softened.   Add the eggplant pieces and saute for 1 minute.  Then add the tomato, parsley, oregano and cumin.  Stir occasionally and let cook until the liquids have evaporated.  Stir in the rice, and mix all ingredients in the pan until rice is coated with the mixture.

Add the broth, and taste for salt.  Boil for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  You can now add the lamb back into the pan, and allow it to continue to boil until the broth has been absorbed by the rice (roughly 10 minutes).  Cover the pan with aluminum foil and continue to cook over low heat until rice is al dente, time will vary but allow about 20 minutes.  Add peas.

When the rice is ready, remove from heat and let rest for 5-10 minutes.  Use the final eggplant slices to decorate.  Sprinkle with cilantro, and serve w/slices of lime! 


Saturday, August 22, 2009

Dreaming of Paris :: Little Oven Macaroons

Last night, we were lucky enough to be invited to a macaroon tasting by Little Oven!  

Macaroons are one of my absolute favorite treats.  I love the beautiful colors, the flavors, and the perfectly crunchy, yet gooey texture. Perfection!  Even pictures of macaroons are so beautiful.

(image via flickr)

The french macaroons (or macarons) are almond based pastry cookies sandwiched with a deliciously flavored cream or ganache.  They date back to the 18th century, and are now most famously found at LadureePierre Herme and other wonderful bakeries in Paris.

And now Little Oven is bringing them to NYC!  A. and I were lucky enough to get a preview.  

We had 14 different macaroons and had to rate texture, fragrance, and guess flavors... which is a lot more challenging than I thought it would be.  Being a macaroon taster is hard work :-) Earl Grey completely stumped me.  My favorite: passion fruit!    

Everything was perfectly delicious!  Is there such a thing as being a 'professional macaroon taster? If so, I am happily available! 

(sorry for the grainy picture of my plate...iphone pic in the dark)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Sneak Peak :: A to Z - Gourmet Magazine

Did you get next month's Gourmet Magazine yet??? I'm in love!  The pictures are beautiful, and the recipes so tempting.

The idea is "A to Z",  recipes with an ingredient from every letter of the alphabet.  My favorite? "P": Provolone Popovers, Peppercorn Roasted Pork, Peach Prosecco Spritzers, and Poppy Seed Pound Cake w/Plum Compote!

A. had already folded the page to his favorite when I got home tonight from french class. "L": Lebanese Lamb Chops w/Lemony Lettuce.  For dessert - "U": Sorbetto de Uva (Concord grapes).  

I can't wait to get cooking... well, the sorbet will have to wait till I get an ice cream maker.

Enjoy a sneak peak...  bisou, bisou! :-)

(pics from

Monday, August 17, 2009

Craving Capers :: Mediterranean Chicken Salad w/Spinach, Orzo, and Heirloom Tomatoes

I've heard your taste buds change every few years, well, I've decided it must be true!

I have always disliked capers (let's be honest... I've 'hated' capers!). And I'm not one to not like food. But, this weekend I accidentally had them in a salad, and now I can't get enough! I loved their salty brininess.

So, all day I've been craving capers! ... and then daydreaming about how I was going to use them to make dinner. I decided to make a Mediterranean salad of grilled chicken, with spinach and a bit of orzo.

I marinated the chicken breasts in lemon juice and a bit of the caper vinegar (the juice that comes in the jar w/the capers). And with the spinach I added orzo pasta, ripe yellow heirloom tomatoes, chopped olives, and of course: capers! I was going to top it with grated Parmesan but the cheese counter at Citerella (on of my favorite places for cheese!) suggested Ricotta Salata (a dry version of ricotta - imagine the consistency of feta cheese but less salty and tart). Delicious, and easy...a perfect weeknight meal!

2 chicken breasts
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp olive oil
Pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped and pitted olives
1 tbsp capers
1 tomato, sliced
1 cup cooked orzo (cooked just like you would cook pasta - keep al dente)
2-3 cups of fresh spinach
A few slices of Ricotta Salata (you can substitute with Parmesan)

Marinate whole chicken breasts with the juice of half a lemon, Dijon mustard, and olive oil. Sprinkle with pepper and add a bit of the juice from the capers you will use later (about a teaspoon of the caper oil). Allow to marinate in the fridge for at least 15 minutes.

Heat your stove top griddle (I use a cast iron Le Cruset griddle) on medium high heat and brush with olive oil. When the griddle gets hot (test it by sprinkling a bit of water - it should bubble) place the chicken breasts. Resist the urge to flip them over quickly! Wait at least 3 minutes. Flip chicken breasts over and allow them to fully cook. If you have a cooking thermometer, you can double check, this is especially useful when you have thick pieces. They will be ready when they hit 170F. Remove from heat and allow them to cool for 5 minutes, then slice.

Toss the olives, capers, tomatoes, orzo, and spinach in a bowl. Top with the chicken and ricotta slices.

Serve with a simple vinaigrette of 3 parts olive oil, 1 part balsamic vinegar, and a bay leaf per serving. Be careful to not add salt to the dressing. The caper and olives will add plenty of salt to the salad.


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Fresh Baked :: Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies

A. and I are off to our friend E.'s wedding!  My sister is driving in from Boston to dog-sit  over the weekend.  I  wanted to have a treat waiting for her when she arrived.  It's always nice to leave your house guests a small 'welcome' surprise - especially after a long drive.

She loves peanut butter, so I thought: peanut butter oatmeal cookies!  What better treat than getting home to fresh-baked cookies?  :-)

I found this great recipe on All and made a few edits.  Then packed a stack in parchment paper so that they would still be moist when she got in. 

3/4 cup melted butter
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
1 cup peanut butter
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups quick cooking oats

Preheat oven at 350F.

In a large bowl, mix the softened butter, sugars, and peanut butter. When well mixed, add the flour, baking soda, and salt.  Continue to mix until creamy.

Fold in the oats (at this point you can add chips or raisins if you'd like).  Spoon teaspoon onto ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes.


TIP: When finding recipes online, read the comments on recipes, they usually have good insights on any edits you should/could make.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Preserving :: Limes

I was excited to see Sunday's Supper posting on preserved lemons!  

We're heading out of town tomorrow and I have a large bowl full of limes sitting on the kitchen counter.  Also, I have a plenty of Ball glass jars around from a disastrous attempt to make a cherry & red currant jelly a few weeks back.  oops!  I ♥ these jars - especially as glasses for ice cold lemonade.

Preserved limes or lemons are a great addition to any chicken or fish dish, as well as many salads.  You can even add to a simple plate of olives for a more interesting flavor and look.


oh PS: Any tips on making jelly are gladly accepted! :-)

PRESERVED KEY LIMES (adapted from Sunday Suppers)
2-3 cups of sliced limes
1/2 cup kosher salt
plenty of olive oil
optional: add a spring of rosemary or thyme to season

Cut limes (or lemons) into 1/4" inch slices.  Set aside 2 or 3 limes.  Add the salt and a bit of olive oil (about 2 tablespoons) to the limes and completely coat.  Let them rest for an hour.

Transfer limes into your glass jar.  Push all the way to the bottom.  Add the liquid that's leftover from the marinating tray.  Add herbs, and squeeze the juice of your leftover lemons.  Fill the remainder of the jar with olive oil until all the limes are covered.  

Cover the jar and seal.  Refrigerate, and use within 6 months.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Julie & Julia :: Roasted Chicken

Last night, I went to see Julie & Julia.... loved!  Meryl
Streep is amazing as Julia Child. I could watch her for hours... well I actually did.  I came home and then watched hours of You Tube clips of Julia Child's show.

Today I was inspired to make a roasted chicken!  Roasted chicken is so easy to make, there's no reason to buy the ready made rotisserie chickens.  Seasoning it only takes a few minutes, then the oven does the rest.  The best part is the leftovers the next day...yum, I love chicken salad!

A few weeks ago I got a copy of 'From Julia Child's Kitchen' cookbook (a 1st edition find on ebay!)  I used her recipe as a start and added a bit of lime and Herbes de Provence as seasoning.  I think Herbes de Provence go perfectly with chicken.  A. and I were in Paris earlier this year and bought this blend from a wonderful little spice shop called L'Epicerie on Ile St Louis.  It makes any dish amazingly aromatic! 

Hope you enjoy! 

1 whole free range chicken (btw 2 and 4 lbs)
3 -4 tbsp of Butter
1 tbsp Herbes de Provence
1 lime
1/2 red onion
Salt & Pepper

Wash the chicken with warm water.  Pat dry with paper towels.  With kitchen scissors, remove any extra skin and any insides that have been left behind.  Place the chicken in the pan that you will be cooking it in.  Season it with plenty of salt and pepper, and herbs.  Rub the chicken with the room temperature butter.  Go under the skin as well.  Make sure the chicken is evenly covered.  Squeeze lime juice over the chicken.

In the cavity of the chicken place the half onion and half lime.  Allow chicken to marinate 30 minutes.

Now to tie the chicken... this step is optional.  I think it makes for a nicer presentation.  With kitchen twine, loop the drumsticks so that they are touching, make a knot.  With another piece of twine, go under the chicken and tie around the middle of the chicken to keep the wings in place and close to the breasts.

Preheat oven at 375F.  Put the chicken in the oven.   Total time will vary depending on the weight of your chicken, but allow about 45 minutes base time, plus another 15 minutes for each additional pound.  Use your kitchen thermometer, the chicken will be done at 180F.  When it hits 170F,I then place it on broil for another 5 minutes to get it extra crispy.

Allow the chicken to cool for 10 minutes before carving.  

Bon appetit! :-)

Monday, August 10, 2009

Monday, Monday :: Brunch at Tartine

A. and I are on vacation this week!  We're spending a few days hanging around NYC before heading to a friend's wedding.  

Today we started our day with brunch at Tartine (West Village, on W4th St and 11th).  

French toasts with smoked bacon, and Croque Monsieurs... Monday's cant get any better than this.  :-)

(photo from NY Mag)

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Heirloom Greens :: Green Tomato Gazpacho

Whenever I hear 'green tomatoes' I of course think of Fried Green Tomatoes... not because I've had them often, but more because of the movie.  So when we got these summery treats in our CSA share this week I tried to think of another use for them.

Last summer I was obsessed with gazpacho, I made it once a week. It's such a perfect summer food, and very easy to make.  Everything goes into a food processor and then chills...that's it.  I like to serve it with grilled Gruyere sandwiches.  

But I have yet to make it this summer... so I decided to come up with a green tomato gazpacho! 

The taste of green tomatoes is far tangier and bitter than that of sweet red tomatoes, especially in the summer (imagine a granny smith apple vs a sweet red apple).  So I modified my red gazpacho recipe by adding less vinegar, less onions, no garlic, introducing a bit of mustard, and finally adding sparkling white wine to cut the acidity.

After a few tries, and playing with quantities...It came out delicious! Hope you enjoy!

1.5 lbs green tomatoes
2 peeled cucumbers
2 peppers (any color - but I used light green and yellow so that they would blend into the soup)
1/4 of a white onion (medium sized)
1/3 cup white vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup Prosecco (or any other dry white wine)
1/2 tbsp grain mustard
1/2 tbsp sugar
Salt and pepper to taste (I used kosher salt)
Dash of cumin (if you like the smokiness of cumin - optional)

All ingredients go into a food processor and start chopping. I only have a mini-prep food processor (remember: NYC apartment!) so I do it in batches, each vegetable at a time and add all ingredients to a large serving bowl.  Then I season while in the bowl.  I don't like my gazpacho chunky because when it is, I feel that I am eating salsa, so I process until I have a smooth liquid consistency.  Taste as you are adding your seasonings.  Feel free to add more olive oil, vinegar, wine, salt and pepper to taste.

Chill for at least an hour. Serve with crusty bread.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Summer Salads :: Cucumber, Feta, Apricot Salad

I think summer is the perfect time to enjoy salads.  Vegetables in season now are fresh and crisp!  Example: cucumbers! 
I was inspired by Mark Bittman's 101 Salads article, and came up with this salad.  Crisp cucumbers, with sweet apricots and tangy feta, yum! A perfect side dish for any summer meal... especially a bbq.

3 Cucumbers, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup feta cheese
1/3 cup chopped apricots (I used dried - a great replacement for raisins in salads)
1 tbsp chopped parsley (mint would be delicious too)
salt and pepper
2 tbspn olive oil
Squeeze of lime juice

Combine all of the ingredients, and enjoy! 

How easy was that? :-)

Related Posts with Thumbnails