Meatless Monday – Easy Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Meatless Monday – Easy Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Raw SproutsRoasting Brussels sprouts couldn’t be simpler – cut the sprouts in half, drizzle a little oil, sprinkle S&P and roast for 20 minutes. The natural sugars of the sprouts caramelize and created little crunchy bits that are delicious.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ tsp. each salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Add the Brussels sprouts to a baking sheet and drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to coat the spouts and roast them in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes, flipping them gently until caramelized and golden brown.

6 side servings.

Bacon Collard Greens

Bacon Collard Greens

Bacon and Onion

Bacon and Onion

Yeah, I know collard greens are typically associated with the south but I love southern food and enjoy cooking this style of food. One side dish I love to make a serve with rich food is a piping hot bowl of baconey, spicy collard greens. You could even go nuts and grill some pork sausages and top the porky collards with them!

Collards Sauteeing

Collards Sauteeing

It couldn’t be simpler to make collards, just make sure the bigger stems are removed and that they have ample time to cook so they’re tender.

Ingredients:

  • 6 bacon slices, julienned
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pound fresh collard greens, sturdy stems removed and chopped
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tsp. each salt and pepper
  • ½ tsp. red pepper flakes
  • Heavy pinch of nutmeg
Cooked Collards

Cooked Collards

Directions:

  1. Cook bacon in a large sautee pan over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for one minute. Add collard greens and sautee until they start to wilt, about 3 minutes.
  2. Pour the chicken broth over the greens and season with salt, pepper red pepper flakes and nutmeg. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for one hour, or until the greens are tender.

Yields 6 sides servings.

Easy Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

Easy Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

Raw Brussels Sprouts

Raw Brussels Sprouts

Like many others, I’ve rediscover Brussels sprouts in the last few years. Roasted, earthy, caramelized Brussels sprouts that is…not grandma’s soggy, bitter version.

Roasting Brussels sprouts couldn’t be easier and they’re a crowd pleaser, even for former haters.

  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 16 ounces slab bacon, julienned
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
  • ½ tsp. each salt and pepper
Slab Bacon

Slab Bacon

Directions:

  1. In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar and sugar. Heat over medium-low heat for 20 minutes, or until thickened and syrupy. Cool and reserve.
  2. In a heavy skillet, cook the bacon over medium-high heat for about 15 minutes or until browned and crispy. Place the cooked bacon on paper towels to drain and pour all but 4 tablespoons of bacon fat from the pan.
  3. Add butter to the bacon fat and place the skillet over medium heat. Add the Brussels sprouts and cook, carefully flipping the sprouts periodically, until caramelized and golden brown, about 15 minutes.
  4. Season the sprouts with salt and pepper, toss with the bacon and drizzle the balsamic glaze over the dish.

6 side servings.

Beet Roasting 101

Beet Roasting 101

Market Vegetables

Market Vegetables

It’s fall and a time when produce looks so appealing to me. While at the market yesterday, I picked some gorgeous vegetables that just begged for me to roast them…well, they may not have been begging, but they looked perfect for a slow stay in my oven.

Raw Beets in Foil

Raw Beets in Foil

Beets roasted at home are nothing like the pickled, over-cooked beets our moms forced us to eat as kids. While nothing could be easier than roasting beets at home, the deep, sweet and earthy flavors that develop are perfect for many cooking applications. My favorite – beet salad with tangy goat cheese. Yum!

Ingredients

  • 4-6 medium beets (golden or red), washed and stems trimmed
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ tsp. each thyme, salt and pepper
Peeling Beets with Paper Towels

Peeling Beets with Paper Towels

Roasted Beets

Roasted Beets

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place the beets on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Bring up the ends of the foil to create a packet for the beets. Drizzle with olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper. Wrap the foil over the beets and roast for 30 – 45 minutes, depending on the size of the beets. When cooked, a knife inserted in the beets should go in with ease.
  3. Let the beets to cool for about 5 minutes, then, using paper towels, rub the skins off the beets. Discard the peels and allow to cool completely.
  4. Beets can be roasted 3 days before using if stored in the refrigerator, wrapped in foil.

4 side servings.

Duck Fat and Bacon Fingerling Potatoes

Duck Fat and Bacon Fingerling Potatoes

Fried Fingerling PotatoesOkay, don’t freak out yet about the title of this recipe. You’re not eating the whole recipe, just one of 6 servings!

These are easy to make, pretty darn tasty and go a long way in satisfying your guests, even with a small portion.

Bacon Frying

 

 

Ingredients

  • 2 quarts water
  • 2 Tbsp. Kosher salt
  • 2 pounds fingerling potatoes, cleaned and halved
  • 6 strips bacon
  • 4 Tbsp. duck fat (could use butter)
  • ½ tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. fresh thyme, chopped
  • Generous pinch of sea salt

Frying Fingerling PotatoesDirections

  1. In a large pot, combine the water, salt and potatoes and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook until the potatoes are barely fork-tender, approximately 15 to 20 minutes.
  2. While the potatoes are boiling, fry the bacon strips in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat for 5-7 or until browned and crisp. Place the cooked bacon on paper towels, allow to cool for 5 minutes, then chop into bite-size pieces (I use kitchen shears for this task) – reserve for later use. In the skillet, remove all but about 2 tablespoons of bacon drippings. Reserve remaining drippings in the skillet for later use.
  3. Remove the boiled potatoes from the pot to a cooling rack and let stand for 5 to 7 minutes.
  4. While the potatoes are drying and cooling, add the duck fat to the bacon drippings in the skillet over medium-high heat. Add the boiled potatoes, the pepper and the thyme. Fry for 7-10 minutes or until golden brown, turning the potatoes to allow browning on all sides.
  5. Remove the browned potatoes from the skillet to a paper towel-lined bowl using a slotted spoon, letting most of the fat drip off. Let the paper towels absorb some of the fat for 1 minute (no more or it’ll cause the potatoes to turn soggy) then immediately place the potatoes in a serving bowl and toss gently with the chopped bacon and a sprinkling of sea salt.

Makes about 6 servings (side dish).

Grilled Salmon Caprese Salad

Grilled Salmon Caprese Salad

Salmon Caprese SaladThis week, I posted a picture of a light lunch I’d made for myself and I received so many requests for the recipe that I thought I’d do a quick recap.

Seared Salmon

Seared Salmon

First of all, this isn’t really a “recipe”, it’s more of a tasty idea for a quick and easy summer salad. I like to grill a few salmon filets and used them in salads to help me have something of sustenance while on my silly low-carb diet. It’s also a great way to use up all those tomatoes in your gardens come late summer.

Ingredients:

  • 6-ounce salmon filet, skin on one side
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • Big pinch of salt and pepper for the salmon
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 4 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • ½ Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • ½ tsp. each salt, pepper and Oregano
  • 20 pear or cherry tomatoes, halved or 2 medium-sized tomatoes, cut into bite-size chuncks
  • 10 Bonconcini fresh Mozzarella balls halved or a couple slices of fresh Mozzarella, cubed

 

Grape Tomatoes

Grape Tomatoes

Directions:

  1. Coat the salmon with oil then rub the salt and pepper over it.
  2. Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat and place the salmon, flesh-side down, in it. Cook without disturbing for 3 minutes. Carefully flip the fish with a thin spatula and cook skin-side down for 4 minutes. Set aside to cool for 15 minutes and refrigerate wrapped in foil for up to a day if not using right away.
  3. In a glass jar with a tight-fitted lid, add the ¼ cup of oil, the vinegar, the mustard and the remaining salt, pepper and the Oregano. Close the lid and shake vigorously. Alternatively, whisk all the ingredients in a small bowl. Refrigerate for up to 3 days if not using right away.
  4. In a serving bowl, add the tomatoes, cheese and the vinaigrette. Combine gently. Using your fingers, break off bite-size pieces of salmon into the bowl. Toss the salmon with the other ingredients gently. Serve at once.

Makes one serving.

Fiori Di Zucchine – Fried Zucchini Blossoms

Fiori Di Zucchine – Fried Zucchini Blossoms

Zucchini blossoms

Fresh Blossoms

Saturday night, I had the pleasure of dining at The Orange Squirrel in Bloomfield, NJ again. It had been several months since I had eaten Chef Francesco Palmieri’s inventive and flavorful creations and once again, it was a great meal.

zucchini blossoms

Blossom Dredging

I absolutely adore zucchini blossoms and was thrilled to also see them served up as an amuse-bouche paired with a roasted plum topped with a hazelnut and Gorgonzola Dolce. It was a simply-presented dish yet it was complex in texture and flavor. When Chef Palmieri came out of the kitchen to present the amuse, I am certain he could see my enthusiasm for the blossoms and gave me a box of fresh blooms to take home when I left. What an amazing treat! The blossoms, much like most of the produce at The Orange Squirrel, are sourced from the Palmieri garden just a few blocks away from the restaurant.

zucchini blossoms

Blossom Frying

I left with my box of blooms like a kid leaving a candy store and I knew I would need to create something special with such a precious present. I opted for Fried Zucchini Blossoms – perhaps the most amazing fried food item ever.

Ingredients:

  • Any neutral-flavor vegetable oil (I use canola)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 12 ounces club soda, chilled
  • 12-24 zucchini blossoms
  • Sea salt
zucchini blossoms

Fried Blossoms

Directions:

  1. In a deep, heavy pot, bring about 2″ of oil to 350 degrees (use a candy/deep fry thermometer).
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour and the salt. Add the club soda to the flour mixture, whisking until just incorporated with a few lumps. Over-whisking is not your friend here.
  3. Remove the stamens from the blossoms then dip each one in the batter, making sure to allow any excess batter to drip off. The goal is a thin coating.
  4. Place a few blossoms in the hot oil, ensuring the pot is not over-crowded causing the temperature to drop. Cool oil = greasy fried foods. Cook the blossoms for 3 minutes, turning them once, then remove them to a paper towel-lined place. Immediately sprinkle sea salt on the blossoms as they come out of the oil.

Batter is enough for up to 24 blossoms.

Cabot Creamery Seriously Sharp Cheddar Mac N Cheese

Cabot Creamery Seriously Sharp Cheddar Mac N Cheese

Mac n CheeseI make macaroni and cheese using various cheeses and featuring other decadent ingredients (see Porcini and Lobster Macaroni and Cheese) but for cook outs and casual get-togethers, I love the flavor of Cabot Creamery’s Seriously Sharp Cheddar. Crusted with a Panko topping, this mac n cheese gets rave reviews every time.

Ingredients:

  • 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 ½ pounds tubular pasta (I use Barilla Cellentani) cooked 2 minutes less than recommended on package directions, drained

Topping Ingredients:

  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • ½ tsp. cayenne pepper

Mac n Cheese MakingPasta Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Place butter in a large saucepan and melt over medium heat. Add flour and cook for 2 minutes, whisking constantly. Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper.
  3. 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 often.
  4. Slowly add the cheeses, a handful at a time, and stir until fully incorporated.
  5. Add the drained pasta to the cheese sauce and mix well.
  6. Add cheesy pasta to a 13×9 baking dish.

Topping Directions:

  1. Microwave butter in a small dish for 45 seconds. Add Panko and cayenne pepper and stir to incorporate the butter and create a crumbly mixture.
  2. Sprinkle Panko mixture over pasta in an even layer.
  3. Bake pasta for 15 minutes until Panko topping has lightly browned. Serve at once.

Makes 8 servings.

Rosemary and Lemon Compound Butter

Rosemary and Lemon Compound Butter

Compound Butter DisksI just love having compound butter on hand for summer grill outs. Compound butter is made by whipping softened butter with herbs or other condiments to boost flavor in food. I’ve played around with add-ons like minced garlic, chopped anchovies (great on grilled romaine lettuce) and various herbs.

This version of compound butter uses lemon zest and chopped rosemary as the flavor enhancers and it’s delicious over grilled steaks.

Ingredients:

  • 2 sticks of butter, softened
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1 Tbsp. dried rosemary, chopped
  • ½ tsp. each salt and pepper

Compound ButterDirections:

  1. In a small bowl, whip the butter using a fork. Add the zest and the spices and whip some more to fully incorporate the aromatics into the butter.
  2. Lay two 12-inch sheets of wax paper or plastic wrap on a work surface. Divide the butter mixture between the two sheets and start to wrap the butter to form logs (think sushi roll or jelly roll).
  3. Place the two rolls in the refrigerator for at least four hours (if using within a couple days) or the freezer (if using at a later time).
  4. To use, unwrap the wax paper or plastic wrap and slice the butter in ½” slabs.

Makes about 30 butter slices.

Pork Belly Deviled Eggs

Pork Belly Deviled Eggs

Pork Belly Deviled EggsI love deviled eggs and think they have a place at most parties whether upscale (think caviar-topped eggs) to casual (served plain) to quirky, which I’d consider this pork belly version.

Directions:

  1. Slice the eggs in half horizontally, carefully remove the yolks and place in a small bowl. Add the mustard, Mayonnaise, Paprika, Sriracha, salt and pepper to the yolks. Mash the mixture using a fork until smooth.
  2. Fill the egg white cavities with the egg yolk mixture (can use a pastry bag and tip to make the presentation fancier).
  3. Top each egg half with a piece of pork belly.

Makes 12 deviled egg halves.