Sesame Beef Lo Mein

Sesame Beef Lo Mein

I’ve been using Blue Apron on and off for a few years and always love their recipes, fresh ingredients and simple-to-follow-directions.

Last week, our favorite of three meals was the Sesame Beef Lo Mein with its big flavors and slightly chewy, fabulous noodles.

Blue Apron’s allowing me to publish this recipe that I can’t wait to try again.

Ingredients:

  • 10 ounces ground beef
  • ½ pound fresh lo mein noodles
  • 3 ounces fresh shishito peppers, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lime, quartered
  • ½ pound baby bok choy, chopped
  • 1 tsp. each chopped fresh cilantro and fresh mint
  • 2 Tbsp. sushi sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp. Sambal Oelek

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 475°F.
  2. Heat a small pot of salted water to boiling on high.
  3. Roast the peppers: Place the peppers on a sheet pan; drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Arrange in a single layer. Roast 7 to 8 minutes, or until lightly browned and softened. Remove from the oven. Set aside in a warm place.
  4. Start the beef: While the peppers roast, in a medium pan, heat a drizzle of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the ground beef; season with salt and pepper. Cook, frequently breaking the meat apart with a spoon, 4 to 6 minutes, or until browned and cooked through. Add the garlic and bok choy to the pan. Cook, stirring frequently, 1 to 2 minutes, or until slightly softened and fragrant. Add ⅓ cup of water and as much of the sambal oelek as you’d like (I used the full amount), depending on how spicy you’d like the dish to be; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 3 to 4 minutes, or until saucy. Turn off the heat. Stir in the juice of 2 lime wedges. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Cook the noodles: While the bok choy cooks, add the noodles to the pot of boiling water (carefully separating with your hands before adding). Cook 2 to 4 minutes, or until tender. Reserving ½ cup of the noodle cooking water, drain thoroughly.
  6. Finish the noodles & plate your dish: To the pan of cooked bok choy and beef, add the cooked noodles, roasted peppers, sesame oil, sushi sauce, and half the reserved noodle cooking water. Season with salt and pepper. Cook on medium high, stirring vigorously, 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until thoroughly combined. (If the sauce seems dry, gradually add the remaining noodle cooking water to achieve your desired consistency.) Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Divide the finished noodles between 2 dishes. Garnish with the cilantro and mint (tearing the mint leaves just before adding). Serve with the remaining lime wedges on the side.

Makes 2 servings.

National Lobster Day Recipe

National Lobster Day Recipe

Today’s National Lobster Day and in its honor, I’m sharing a delectable lobster pasta recipe from a local New Jersey restaurant serving that appetizing dish.

Saffron Rigatoni with Lobster Coral Butter

Courtesy of Chef Seadon Shouse of Halifax, Hoboken

Main ingredients:

  • 3, 1 1/4 pounds lobsters
  • ½ pound royal trumpet mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbsp. flat leaf parsley
  • 1 lemon
  • ½ cup onions, small diced
  • 1 ½ cups lobster stock
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • ½ tsp. black pepper

Saffron pasta dough ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg
  • 4 Tbsp. boiling water
  • Pinch saffron

Lobster coral butter ingredients:

  • 1 pound Lobster Bodies, cleaned
  • 2 pound unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 ounce Fresh Lobster Coral (roe, not cooked), pureed

Directions:

For the Lobster

  1. Place a large pot of water on the stove to boil. Salt the water as if it was ocean water.
  2. Place the live lobsters in the water and boil for 7 minutes.
  3. Remove the lobster and shock in ice water.
  4. Once cool, clean the meat out of the shells and cut into a large dice.

For the Lobster Coral Butter

  1. Melt 1lb of the butter in a medium sized pan and cook the lobster bodies in it on medium to low heat. You don’t want to brown or clarify the butter. You want it to still have the milk solids in it and be creamy. Cook for 30 minutes stirring often. Remove from heat and strain through a small holed china cap, making sure to extract all of the butter and lobster flavor out of the bodies. Cool the lobster flavored butter until solid.
  2. Combine the lobster butter with the remaining 1lb of butter and the lobster coral in the bowl of a mixer.
  3. Using the whisk attachment, whip the butter together until fluffy and smooth.

You will have more Lobster Coral Butter than you need for this recipe, but it freezes well.

For the Saffron Pasta

  1. Combine the boiling water with the saffron and let sit until it reached room temperature.
  2. Combine the egg with the saffron water.
  3. Place flour in a food processor and slowly add in the egg and water mixture until it is all combined.
  4. Remove and knead by hand until smooth and let rest, refrigerated and at least an hour before making pasta.

When making the pasta you can make any shaped pasta you like. I like rigatoni for this recipe so I make rigatoni with a pasta extruder.

To Finish the Dish

  1. Place a pot of salted water on the stove to come to a boil.
  2. While the water is heating up start to sweat the onions in a large skillet with a little olive oil.
  3. Once half way cooked add in the trumpet mushrooms and cook until golden brown.
  4. Add in the lobster stock and let reduce slightly.
  5. While stock is boiling, add in 4Tb of the Lobster Coral Butter, juice of half the lemon and some chopped parsley.
  6. Once the water is boiling start cooking the pasta. Cook until desired doneness, remove promptly and add to the skillet.
  7. Cook in the skillet for a minute so the pasta absorbs the sauce and then add in the diced lobster meat at the very end so you do not overcook the lobster.
  8. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Serves 4.

Cheers,

Veronique

Going Formal for the Holidays

Going Formal for the Holidays

I love really dressing up my table around the holidays. If you’re thinking of pulling out grandma’s silver or unpacking those formal dishes you received at your wedding, here’s how the table should be set for a formal meal:

place-setting

Want a very VIP dinner menu for that special meal? Here’s one I love for the holidays:

Sweet Potato Gnocchi in Sage Brown Butter.

Simple & Festive Prime Rib.

Make-Ahead Twice Baked Potatoes.

Fail-Proof Yorkshire Puddings.

Elegant Key Lime Tart.

Enjoy!

Veronique

Baked Penne Parmesan

baked-pastaI love recipes that take me all of 10 minutes to prepare and that will serve a few meals during the week. This beyond-easy pasta dish is one of those recipes that I make on Sundays and portion for lunches during the week.

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Cook pasta 1 minute short of indicated on the packaging.
  3. Toss the drained pasta into the marinara sauce.
  4. Add the Mozzarella to the pasta and stir to distribute evenly.
  5. Pour the pasta into a medium baking dish.
  6. Top with the shaved cheese.
  7. Place the dish on a baking sheet to prevent oven drips and bake for 25 minutes.

Makes 2 generous entrée-size servings.

Note: I received a sample container of Sartori Cheese that I will now add to my grocery list.

Spaghetti alla Carbonara

Spaghetti alla Carbonara

This Roman dish was created in the middle of the 20th century using simple ingredients: pasta, eggs, pork jowls (think bacon) and cheese, typically Pecorino.

I’m all about simple pasta dishes, especially during the week, so this is one of my go-to recipes. I’ve made this decadent dish using a few variations, adding peas, morel mushrooms and shrimps…it’s delicious any ways. Note that garlic isn’t authentic to pasta carbonara, but it’s so darn tasty that I include it. Don’t like garlic – omit it! I used red pepper flakes too, which aren’t authentic either…sue me purists!

While the eggs do get warmed when tossed with the hot pasta, they aren’t fully cooked. If slightly cooked eggs aren’t your thing, this is likely not the dish for you. If you can get past that, you’ll get addicted, like I am, to the creamy “sauce” created by the eggs, pasta water and cheese.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound good quality spaghetti, I use Delverde
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 8 ounces diced pancetta or slab bacon
  • 1 large garlic clove, finely minced
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup grated Pecorino-Romano or Parmesan cheese, divided
  • ½ tsp. red pepper flakes (or black pepper if you prefer)

Directions:

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the spaghetti and cook 1 minute less than the cooking directions on the packaging recommend.
  2. While the pasta’s cooking, warm the oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and cook until browned, about three minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Place the pancetta/garlic and the oil they cooked in, in a large, heat-proof bowl and set aside to cool.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, 1/2 cup of the cheese and pepper flakes. Whisk until well blended.
  4. When the pasta’s just al dente, scoop it out of the water using a pasta fork or tongs, and into the bowl with the pancetta – don’t drain the pasta water out of the pot! Toss the pasta until coated in the oil from the pancetta.
  5. Add the egg mixture to the pasta and toss quickly to ensure the eggs don’t scramble – you might need to give this method a couple tries to get it right – it’s worth it!
  6. Add ¼ cup of pasta cooking water to the pasta then the remaining cheese. Keep tossing to create a silky, creamy sauce that coats the pasta. Serve immediately.

Serves two for dinner or four as a starter.

Cacio e Pepe

Cacio e Pepe

Cacio e PepeI think my love for Cacio e Pepe, literally “cheese and pepper”, steams from enjoying buttered spaghetti with Parmesan cheese when I was a kid. What could be more simple yet satisfying than hot pasta with melted butter, freshly-cracked pepper and cheese?

Ingredients

  • 8 Tbsp. butter, divided
  • 1 Tbsp. freshly-cracked black pepper
  • 1 pound dry Spaghetti, cooked 2 minutes short of package direction, 1 cup pasta cooking water reserved (I use Delverde pasta)
  • 1 cup finely grated Parmesan
  • 1 cup finely grated Pecorino

Preparation

  1. In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, melt 4 tablespoons of butter.
  2. Add the pepper and cook, stirring a few times, 1 minute.
  3. Add the reserved pasta cooking water to the butter in the saucepan and bring to a simmer.
  4. Add the cooked pasta and the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter and reduce the heat to low.
  5. Add the Parmesan cheese and gently toss until melted. Remove pan from heat.
  6. Add the Pecorino cheese and gently toss until melted.
  7. Serve in warm bowls.

Serves 4.

Fergalicious Holidays by Food & Wine Chickie

Fergalicious Holidays by Food & Wine Chickie

Ferguson CrestFerguson Crest is the pet project of Fergie Duhamel, singer of the Black Eyed Peas, and her father, grower Pat Ferguson. Ferguson Crest vineyard is located in Solvang, in Santa Ynez Valley, Santa Barbara County, California. Winemaker Joey Tensley turns the fruit grown by Pat Ferguson into wine, and Fergie and sister Dana join in at harvest every year.

Fergalicious is Ferguson Crest’s signature blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Grenache. I was asked to taste the 2012 vintage, Fergie’s favorite, then pairing it with a recipe of my creation. Here’s the recipe I paired with the delicious wine.

Bacon, Mushroom Pasta with Light Tomato Sauce

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. each red pepper flakes, salt and black pepper
  • 1 cup sliced Cremini mushrooms
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes
  • 10 fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • ½ pound dry penne pasta, cooked one minute less than recommended on the packaging
  • 1 cup cubed, fresh Mozzarella
  • 4 slices of bacon, cooked then roughly chopped
  • ¼ cup freshly-grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

  1. Warm the oil in a deep, large skillet over medium heat for 30 seconds. Add the spices to the oil and cook for 15 seconds.
  2. Raise the heat to medium-high and add the Cremini and cook for 3-4 until softened.
  3. Add the tomatoes to a food processor and pulse for 10 seconds until a chunky salsa is created (alternatively, chop the tomatoes to that consistency). Pour the tomato mixture into the hot oil and cook over medium heat for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add the cooked pasta and the basil to the sauce and gently stir to coat. Continue cooking for 1-2 minutes.
  5. Add the Mozzarella to the pasta and stir to combine.  Cook an additional minute.
  6. Add the cooked bacon, stir and serve with a dusting of Parmesan cheese.

Makes 2 servings.

2012 Ferguson Crest Fergalicious

Dark ruby in the glass, this red blend offers ripe blackberry aromas with a bit of pumpkin pie spices. The medium-bodied wine has flavors of jammy blueberry with traces of cherry cola and notes of black pepper on the short finish.

Pairings: Pasta with meaty sauce, duck, roasted mushrooms, burgers

Style: Red Wine

Grape Type(s): 56% Syrah, 25% Merlot, 13% Grenache, 6% Cabernet Sauvignon

Region: Santa Barbara County, CA, USA

Price: $40

Cheers,

Veronique

World’s Best Fried Mac and Cheese

World’s Best Fried Mac and Cheese

Fried Mac & Cheese

Fried Mac & Cheese

One of the dishes I made for this year’s FryFest is a new recipe – fried mac & cheese. I used my Cabot Creamery Seriously Sharp Cheddar Mac N Cheese recipe as the base for this decadent dish. I know these treats are tyically served in a ball shape, but since I was also doing Arancini, rice balls, I opted for squares and really liked the look of them.

Was it the healthiest food option? Clearly not. Is it okay to sample a piece or two once a year? I believe so – all in moderation. The crunchy, deep golden exterior is a perfect match to the creamy, cheesy interior. I served this dish with a simple marinara sauce for dipping, but it’s delish on its own.

Ingredients:

  • Cut Mac & Cheese

    Cut Mac & Cheese

    ½ stick (4 Tbsp.) butter

  • 4 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp. each, ground nutmeg, salt and pepper
  • 4 cups whole milk or light cream
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 cups freshly grated Cabot Seriously Sharp Cheddar
  • 1 pound tubular pasta (I use Delverde Tortiglioni) boiled 2 minutes less than directed on the packaging, drained
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups Italian breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • Vegetable or peanut oil, for frying
Mac & Cheese Components

Mac & Cheese Components

Directions:

  1. Place butter in a large, heavy saucepan and melt over medium heat. Add flour and cook for about 2 minutes, whisking constantly. Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper.
  2. Stir the milk (or light cream) and the heavy cream into the butter/flour mixture and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 5 minutes, whisking frequently.
  3. Add the cheese, a handful at a time, and stir until fully incorporated.
  4. Add the drained pasta to the cheese sauce and mix well.
  5. Add cheesy pasta to a lightly greased 13×9 baking dish, cool, cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight (what I did).
  6. Using a wide spatula, unmold the cold mac and cheese from the pan and place the rectangle on a cutting board. Cut the mac and cheese into 2-inch squares, place on a baking sheet and freeze for 2 hours.
  7. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs.
  8. In a shallow dish, combine both bread crumbs.
  9. Dip squares into the egg mixture then dredge in breadcrumb mixture.
  10. Fry mac and cheese squares for 3-4 minutes in 350 degree oil in either a large Dutch oven or in an electric fryer in batches. Drain on paper towels and serve hot.

Makes about 24 squares.

Butternut Squash Ravioli in Sage Brown Butter

Butternut Squash Ravioli in Sage Brown Butter

Butternut Squash RavioliLast week I stopped at Eataly in Manhattan with some friends visiting from Florida. The place is a Mecca of all things Italian and I couldn’t pass up the pasta counter and the super cute butternut squash ravioli as I knew I’d be in a hurry to fix dinner for all of us when we returned to the burbs.

Well, dinner didn’t happen as we lunched at Barbuto and it was a feast and we simply weren’t hungry for dinner, so I made a quick lunch of the ravioli yesterday and the photo I took of that pasta had everyone liking and sharing on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

I couldn’t understand why folks would like this particular dish, yes, I can make my own ravioli, but what I didn’t grasp until later in the day is that so many of us who work longs days just crave delicious, elegant and simple to make meals during the week, albeit semi-homemade. Fair enough, here are the simple steps to making this pretty meal.

Ingredients:

  • ½ pound fresh ravioli (I used butternut squash as I love that in the winter)
  • ½ stick (4 Tbsp.) butter
  • 1 Tbsp. roughly chopped fresh sage
  • ¼ cup Pecorino or Parmesan cheese

Directions:

  1. Boil the pasta according to package directions, drain.
  2. In a medium skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Cook the butter until brown and nutty in aroma, about 90 seconds.
  3. Add the sage to the brown butter, turn heat off, add the ravioli and shake the pan to coat the pasta in brown butter.
  4. Plate the ravioli and sprinkle with Pecorino or Parmesan.

Serves one famished dinner.

Penne alla Caprese

Penne alla Caprese

Yellow Tomato PastaIt’s the end of my tomato harvest and my yellow cherry and standard size tomatoes are ripe and sweet and perfect for a light pasta dish. While this recipe is delicious with red

Chopping Tomatoes

Chopping Tomatoes

tomatoes, I find the bright yellow sauce to be just really pretty…and tasty.

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. each red pepper flakes, salt and black pepper
  • 2 cups yellow tomatoes
  • 10 fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • ½ pound dry penne pasta, cooked one minute less than recommended on the packaging
  • 1 cup cubed, fresh Mozzarella
  • ¼ cup freshly-grated Parmesan cheese
Tomato Sauce Cooking

Tomato Sauce Cooking

Directions:

  1. Warm the oil in a deep, large skillet over medium heat for 30 seconds. Add the spices to the oil and cook for 15 seconds.
  2. Late Tomato Harvest

    Late Tomato Harvest

    Add the tomatoes to a food processor and pulse for 10 seconds until a chunky salsa is created. Alternatively, chop the tomatoes to that consistency. Pour the salsa mixture into the hot oil and cook over medium heat for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  3. Add the cooked pasta and the basil to the sauce and gently stir to coat. Cook for 1-2 minutes.
  4. Add the Mozzarella to the pasta and stir to combine.  Cook an additional minute.
  5. Serve with a dusting of Parmesan cheese.

Makes 2 servings.