Monthly Archives: December 2012

Parmesan Crusted Brussels Sprouts

Ok – I literally did not know there was an “s” at the end of “brussels” until just this minute.  That still looks weird to me, but it’ll stay. It fits, though, because much like getting used to the “s” at the end of the word, brussels sprouts themselves also took some getting used to. As a kid, I wasn’t a fan, but as an adult, they’re one of my favorite sides.  Roasting them in a pan caramelizes them somewhat, and the light dusting of parm gives them a salty little kick.  I swear these are better than candy.

PARMESAN CRUSTED BRUSSELS SPROUTS (serves 2-4 as a side – via 101 Cookbooks)
– 20 brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved (choose ones that have tighter leaves – these will be fresher)
– 2 tbsp EVOO
– kosher salt
– freshly grated parmesan cheese – a microplane works well to shred the parm into superfine little wisps

1. Wash and trim the brussels sprouts – peel away a few of the looser outer leaves, trim the stems. Then, cut them in half and toss them in a bowl with a tablespoon of EVOO.

2. Heat the other tablespoon of EVOO in a large skillet over medium heat.  When hot, arrange the brussels cut-side down, sprinkle with some kosher salt, cover, and cook for 5 minutes.

3.  After 5 minutes, uncover, raise heat to medium high, and cook until the brussels are browned and caramelized. Using a spatula, toss them around the skillet a few times to cook the sides and the edges.

4. Turn off the heat, then dust the brussels with the parmesan cheese.  Serve immediately, and watch your guests become brussels sprouts converts.

Christmas 2012 Highlights

Christmas tree shopping at Helen and Ed’s Tree Farm, which we’ve been going to since we’ve been kids, and is one of the cutest places in America.


B and I exchanged presents on Christmas morning. We had a great snowfall the night before, so we turned on the Christmas tunes, the tree lights, made some coffee from Hillside, and got fully blissed out – I love Christmas morning.

For Christmas this year B got me these heels (!!!), yoga stuff, and an insane  Cuisinart food processor that I’d been lusting after for months.  Annnnd, that pretty much sums me up!
Colly and I made Christmas “dinner” at our parents’ house – Cornish game hens with cranberry walnut stuffing, the best broccoli ever, cauliflower mashed potatoes, roasted red grapes with thyme, and an awesome shredded kale salad.  We were going to try to make a goose for more of a “Tiny Tim” Christmas, but everyone we talked to who had previously tried goose themselves kind of gave us a series of “that might be a bad idea” looks.  So we scrapped it.  Cornish game hens were much cuter, anyway!  I’ll spare you the details of my last minute search for broccoli on Christmas morning, since for some reason it hadn’t occurred to me that everything would be closed on, you know, CHRISTMAS MORNING, but suffice to say that a fortunate run-in with the owner of Schiel’s Family Markets saved the day.


Christmas day party made even more delicious with a serious wine cellar

Part of the spread at the tree lighting party this year
My mom made a gingerbread bride version of me this year – too cute.

  

 Merry Christmas everyone!

Roasted Red Grapes with Thyme

I can’t even tell you how simple, delicious, and pretty this side is. It’s perfect for entertaining  – put it alongside a cheese plate, and you have a lovely little spread of hors d’oeuvres. Roasting the grapes brings out their natural sweetness, but that’s balanced by the thyme, kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper. We love this. Love this. Love this.

ROASTED RED GRAPES WITH THYME (orginial recipe found on Noble Pig)
– 1 bunch seedless red grapes (organic, if you can find them)
– 4-5 sprigs of thyme, leaves removed
– 1 tsp. kosher salt
– 1/4 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper
– EVOO (approx. 2 tbsp)
– Parchment paper

1. Preheat oven to 450.

2. Wash grapes and dry thoroughly.

3. Gently combine thyme leaves, EVOO, kosher salt, pepper, and grapes, then arrange on a single layer of parchment paper.

4. Roast for approx. 10 minutes, shaking the pan once about halfway through to rotate the grapes a bit.  The skins of the grapes will split and wither slightly – this is when you know they’re ready to come out of the oven.


5. Serve warm or cool alongside whatever other hors d’oeuvres you have, or just enjoy on their own!

Latkes!

Brad and I had a dreidel party this weekend, which was hilarious and a total blast.  For the “festive Jewish food” that Brad had promised, I made mini latkes with a toppings buffet.  This was my first shot at making latkes, so I took it as a good sign when Brad took his first bite and said that not only had I “made a Jewish man proud”, but also that this was his favorite thing that I’d made all year.  What the what!!!  These were adorable, and delicious, and a big crowd-pleaser. They also keep really well for reheating, so if you want to make them ahead of time, just pop them in the oven for 15 minutes or so before your guests arrive to re-crisp them.

POTATO LATKES (makes approx. 35 mini latkes – adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
– 2 large yukon gold potatoes, peeled
– 1 large vidalia onion, peeled 
– 1/2 c. flour
– 2 eggs, lightly beaten
– 2 tsp. salt
– 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
– Vegetable oil
– cheese cloth, for wringing out the potato and onion shreds

1. Using a grater or a Food Processor, shred the potatoes and the onions, trying for the longest strands possible of each.


2. Working in smaller batches (I had about 3), add the potato shreds to a medium size piece of cheesecloth. Put a small bowl underneath the cheesecloth to catch the liquid. Wring out the shreds into the bowl to extract as much liquid as possible. Let the liquid stand in the bowl – don’t throw it out! It’s about to do something completely bizarre that will help bind your latkes, and also keep them from turning grey. Add the potato shreds to a larger mixing bowl.

3. Add the onion shreds to the cheesecloth, then wring out the liquid and discard it.  Add the onion shreds to the bowl with the potato shreds.


4. In a different mixing bowl, combine the lightly beaten eggs, flour, salt & pepper.


Just the starch, ma’am

5. Pick up the bowl that contains the potato liquid, and tip it to discard the liquid that runs out.  The mixture should have settled into two layers – a liquid and a solid.  The solid at the bottom of the bowl is the potato starch – this is the secret to latkes!  Scrape that starch into the potato and onion shreds, and stir to combine.

Potato liquid and starch, separated





















6. Add the flour/egg/salt & pepper mixture to the potato/onion/starch mixture, and stir to combine.  I dug into it with my hands, because it was easier to mix that way. Either way, though.


7. In a large skillet, or ideally, a Le Creuset pan, heat a thin layer of vegetable oil over medium high heat until hot. 

8. Add approx. 1 teaspoon of latke mixture to the oil, flattening slightly with the back of the spoon so they cook evenly. I found that I was able to add about 6 latkes at a time to the pan, working in a clockwise motion, so that by the time I added the last latke, the first one was ready to be flipped – and so on.























9. When latkes are browned on both sides (they crisp up pretty quickly), place on a layer of paper towels to drain.


10. Keep warm in the oven until ready to serve, then arrange with little ramekins of sour cream, fresh chopped chives, smoked salmon, creme fraiche, and applesauce.

These were.  AMAZING.

Roasted Garlic Hummus


I eat so much hummus on a weekly basis that I finally decided to try to make it myself. It seems like a really impressive recipe, but is incredibly easy and tasty, and has become one of the most-requested things that I make (and not just in our house!). The roasted garlic adds a nice dimension of subtle flavor, and you can skip it if you want, but why not just try it once?  

—– You willllllll tryyyyyy the roastedddd gaaarrrllliiicccc ——

Omg weird, didn’t you just get the urge to break out a garlic bulb to roast??

ROASTED GARLIC HUMMUS (Serving size varies, depending on your house’s level of hummus consumption)
– 2 cans chickpeas (15.5 oz each), rinsed and drained
– 1 whole garlic bulb
– 1/3 C. tahini
– 1/3 C. EVOO
– Approx. 1 C. chicken broth (or vegetable broth for a full vegan side)
– 1/2 lemon, juiced
– 1 tsp. paprika
– 2 tbsp. freshly chopped parsley (flat leaf)
– 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
– 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper

1. Preheat oven to 450. 

2. Lop the top off a full bulb of garlic, and discard.  Place garlic bulb in a muffin tin, drizzle with olive oil, and cover tightly with aluminum foil.  Bake for approx. 30 – 40 minutes, or until garlic is roasted.

 

3. Squeeze out the roasted cloves of garlic (or use a fork to extract) into a large mixing bowl.

4. Add chickpeas, EVOO, tahini, lemon juice, paprika, parsley, salt & pepper to the mixing bowl.  Stir well to combine.
 
5. Add mixture to a Food Processor, pulse to combine, then add the chicken or veggie stock little by little as you continue to blend the chickpea mixture.  The consistency will change from kind of chunky to fluffy and thick – keep adding the broth until you have the consistency you want.

6. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. The flavors will continue to combine and deepen over this time, so when you add seasonings after blending it, make sure to add a little less than what you think it really needs.

7. Serve with carrots, celery, the ever-popular pretzel chip, or use as a spread on sandwiches or apps.

Happy 12.12.12!

Perfect Chicken

Cooking chicken in a pan was always kind of tough for me – I used to worry about undercoooking it, then overcooking it, then practically burning it until it was either way too tough or dry – until I discovered this technique.  It’s so hands-off it’s ridiculous, gives the chicken a perfect coat of flavor and “kick”, and leaves it juicy and tender, every time. 

PERFECT CHICKEN (adapted from The Kitchn) (serves 2-4)
– 1.5 lbs chicken breasts, cut into strips, or chicken strips
– 1/4 C. Flour
– 1 egg, lightly beaten
– Chopped fresh herbs (thyme, tarragon, rosemary, sage, etc.)
– 1 tsp. dijon mustard (optional)
– 1 tbsp. EVOO
– 1/2 tbsp. butter
– Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Pound the chicken breasts to an even thickness, then season with salt and pepper.

2. In a small bowl, lightly beat 1 egg, then combine herbs and mustard, if using, into mixture.

3. Using a pastry brush, lightly coat the chicken with the egg/herb/mustard mixture, then lightly dredge in the flour.

4. Meanwhile, in a large saute pan, heat olive oil and butter over medium high heat. When hot, add the chicken and cook for approx. 1 minute to sear and brown them on one side.

5. Flip the chicken breast strips over, then turn the heat to low.  Put the lid on the pan, set the timer for 10 minutes, and walk away.

6. After those 10 minute have passed, turn the heat off (don’t take the lid off the pan throughout this process – it’s tempting, but you just have to have faith in the end result…and there’s a life metaphor somewhere in there) and leave the chicken breasts covered in the pan for another 10 minutes.


7. When those 20 total minutes are up, remove the lid and check to make sure the chicken is cooked throughout (it will be). The chicken should be seared and golden, tasty, moist, and flavorful. For all of you who’ve struggled with cooking chicken in a pan like I did, this is a game-changer. Enjoy.

Perfect chicken with Kale, Carrot, and White Bean Blend


Kale, Carrot, and White Bean Blend


I had a sleepover at my sister’s the other night, and she brought out this deliciously filling “snack” that could have been dinner if it weren’t for the Grotto pizza we were already sharing. This is one of those super easy recipes that you can just throw together with ingredients you already have, and in no time at all you have a hearty, healthy dish (to go with the pizza that you’re eating).

KALE, CARROT, AND WHITE BEAN BLEND (serves 4 as a side or 2 as a main dish)

– 1/2 a bunch of kale, “ribs” removed, washed and roughly chopped
– 3 carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/8 inch rounds
– 1 can white beans, drained and rinsed
– 2 cloves garlic, chopped
– 1 tbsp. EVOO, 1 tsp. butter

1. Wash your kale and carrots. Even though you’re going to peel the carrots, you should wash them anyway. Any dirt on the skin will get dragged into the carrot itself when you peel them unless they’re clean.

2. Remove the “ribs” from the kale, and roughly chop.

3. Cut the peeled carrots into 1/8 inch rounds.

4. In a large saucepan, bring enough water to cover the carrots to a boil. Add the sliced carrots and boil until just tender (approx. 5 minutes). Drain the carrots and return the saucepan to the burner, now lowered to medium heat.

5. Add 1 tbsp EVOO and a smidge of butter to the saucepan and, when hot, add the garlic and stir until fragrant – appox. 90 seconds.

6. Add carrots to the pan and stir to cover with the EVOO/butter/garlic mixture.  Then add the chopped kale, and stir together with the carrots until slightly wilted.
 
7. Finally, add the can of rinsed and drained white beans, and combine with the kale and carrots until beans are warmed through.  Both the kale and carrots will continue to soften during this time, so make sure the kale isn’t too wilted in the step above.

8. Add seasonings if necessary – kosher salt, freshly ground pepper, garlic powder – to taste and serve warm. This is even good cold as leftovers the next day.

— Happy 64th birthday to my mom, who would love this recipe! xoxoxo