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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Garlic Shrimp Risotto and Cannellini Bean & Tomato Salad - An Unplanned and Delicious Dinner Menu -

My son Marc came to visit and I hadn't gone food shopping.  I thought about ordering something, after all, I live in Manhattan, I can order just about anything I want.  But I wanted to prepare a dinner that he would remember. 

I looked in the refridgerator and saw that I had some grape tomatoes, arugula and some freshly roasted sweet peppers.  In the freezer were some shrimp.  If you wonder why I had frozen shrimp, you should ask your fish monger if the fresh shrimp you buy is really fresh.  It probably isn't.  Almost all shrimp is flash frozen and defrosted when you buy it.  So, I keep shrimp in my freezer for last minute meals.

My garlic shrimp risotto is not typical.  However, I have served it to my friends from Italy (from all parts of the boot) and they love it, so give it a try.
Our first course was a cannellini bean, grape tomato and arugula salad.  The main course was garlic shrimp risotto and the finale - meyer lemon olive oil cookies.  An easy unplanned menu that could be last minute for my son, or for a party.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Chinese Tea Egg - Happy Lunar New Year!

This was my first try making this delectable marbled delight. It wasn't perfect, but I did it! My first Chinese Tea Egg! It was salty, but not overwhelming, and a little anise-y with all kinds of flavors running through it.  The best part was that there were instant hints of how I could make it even better! 

My colleague, Jason Pow, was my Tea Egg making inspiration - thanks Jason!  Jason also brought in some photos of the New Year's dinner his mom prepared, and I wish I was there!! I will post the photos as soon as he gives me the information on each dish. 

Tea Eggs - for prosperity. Who couldn't use some prosperity!

Go to Recipe

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Easy, Sweet, Delicious, Little Roasted Sweet Peppers

These versatile little roasted nuggets are so delicious and so easy to make that whenever I see them, I have to buy them.  

You can serve these bitesize delights with any meal or as a snack between meals.  I cut them up for a delicious breakfast of peppers and eggs, I bring them to work with my salad for lunch, and I cook them with risotto or pasta or as a side to spicy blackened fish for dinner. You can serve them on a picnic blanket in Central Park, or as part of a formal dinner party.  My favorite is to eat them out of a bowl on my lap while I'm watching TV.  Anytime, with just about anything. 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sopa de Milagros (Spanish Garlic Soup of Miracles)

Feel a cold coming on? Coughing? Sneezing? Does your throat hurt?
I have the cure!  OK, maybe not a cure but  it is a heck of a home remedy! And if you're not cured, it is still so delicious and so warming that you can't help but feel better.

Rugged and breathtaking Basque coastlline
 I found out about Sopa de Milagros  (Soup of Miracles) many years ago when I was visiting my wonderful friend Rocio, comadre mia,  in the Basque Country (aka Euskadi or el PaĆ­s Vasco) in northern Spain. She told me about a soup that her father-in-law, Anastasio Lasuen, made when family members were sick.  His remedy was called Sopa de Milagros, and that it really was a miracle if you have aches and pains, or a fever, or you are congested.  I asked her what was so great about it and she simply answered 'it works',  hence the name, Sopa de Milagros. It's one of the many wonders of the beautiful, mountainous, wooded area that reaches well into France (Pays Basque).

Historically Sopa de Milagros is a peasant dish. Like so many other
peasant dishes it is delicious and it has a purpose.  Now people take things like Garlique for good health, but I'll take this super flavorful Basque cure-all any day.  And for those of you who combine the well known Eastern European Jewish cure-all, chicken soup, with the Basque cure-all. what could be bad?

Because this was a peasant dish, Sopa de Milgagros was often sauteed garlic with a soup base of water poured over the toasted bread.  On a good the egg was added.  On a great day the base was made from chicken carcass.

Today, it still works!  My family loves it, my friends love it.  When anyone who knows me is sick, they ask for Sopa de Milagros.  And if you live in New York and make it, your whole floor has the wonderful fragrance of sauteed garlic, so if you're going on a date, or having guests, make sure they have some too.

Go to Recipe

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Meyer Lemon Olive Oil Cookies

T'is the season for Meyer Lemons!  That delicious little hybrid of a mandarin and lemon that only stays with us for a couple of months!
Meyer Lemons

 I should have bought a lot more because there's so many things I want to make, but I'm starting with cookies.  These aren't super sweet cookies.  These are a combination of savory with just a touch of sweet. They're grown-up cookies.
I decided to use olive oil rather than butter to compliment the savory taste I was looking for.  And I added just a bit of dried sage and a little more salt (not table salt) that is usually found in a sweet cookie.  In order to get the savory and sweet together it's important not to use table salt, you need a salt of substance. 

Meyer Lemon Olive Oil Cookies
with Espresso
I wasn't looking for a sweet, cakey cookie and I found exactly what I was looking for!

Go to Recipe

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Blackened Shrimp and Arugula Salad

You might wonder why I'm posting so many salad recipes.  Well, there's a reason to my madness. 

First, these salads are meals you can make for yourself or you can make them when you are entertaining friends and they're always a success. Second, it is January 4th.  Just a few days after the holidays and many of us have eaten way more than we should have and the last thing we want to think about is stuffing our faces. 

But, that doesn't mean we have to starve.  Take a minute and read the page titled 'Salads - They are NOT a Punishment!' on the right side of the page on this blog. These salads are delicious! I promise. 

Go to Recipe.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Sweet and Smokey Grilled Salmon and Portobello Salad

I hated salmon for a good part of my life.  Then I found out that all the salmon I ate was overcooked and didn't represent how delicious salmon really is.  Salmon should be rare.  Always.

Sweet & Smokey Grilled Salmon and Portobello Salad
I love teriyaki salmon and my favorite teriyaki sauce is really not anything a Japanese person would consider teriyaki, but it is DELICIOUS!  Veri, Veri Teriyaki by Soy Vey has never let me down.  I've used it when cooking salmon for lunch salads and when cooking salmon for a formal dinner party.  It's always a success.

Go to Recipe

Monday, January 2, 2012

Big Al Frank's FAMOUS Potato Latkes

Super Crispy Outside, Soft Inside

Frying Latkes in Dad's Skillet
Al Frank's Potato Latkes
 Wow! I got a request!  How exciting! 

On both Thanksgiving and Christmas I have a special dinner for my expatriate friends who don't celebrate those holidays with their families because they are far from home. This year Xixi  joined us and became a new friend.  She wrote today and said she tried to make the latkes after she had them at my house for the Expat Christmas and Chanukah dinner. 
I'll post the recipe, and will re-post before Chanukah. 
Nobody makes Potato Latkes (pancakes) like my father did.  Even when we copy his recipe it is never exact, but it is pretty close.  He passed this recipe on to me and to my son, and then to my nephews who became our next generation of Potato Latkes champions. 

This recipe is for 10 people.  The yams are a variation from Al’s recipe, I added them.  He included them occasionally, but the rest of the recipe is his all the way.

I added ta couple of hints to this recipe - things I've learned trying to get these better each time:

1. You can use the 'double fry' secret, which is to fry the latkes 3/4 of the way earlier in the day, and right before serving, complete the fry.  They'll be super crispy on the outside, and soft on the inside, just as they should be.  If you put them in the oven to reheat, even at a low temperature, you lose lots of the crispiness. You won't be sorry.

2. When shredding the potatoes, put them in a big colander over a bowl and put cheese cloth in the colander.  Potatoes are wet and you've got to get the moisture out.  Putting the shredded potatoes in a colander will allow them to drain, then you can squeeze them using the cheese cloth to rid of more moisture.  Potatoes must be dry to form the latkes.

Go to the recipe

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Red Leaf Dinner Salad with Fresh Lemon-Pepper Tuna

Start the year off  right! Light, easy and delicious!                    

Try to buy organic vegetables – especially local if possible.  They taste better, they’re better for your health, the environment and everything else.  If you buy packaged produce that says it is pre-washed, wash it anyway.  Don’t trust them!  Wash your produce!

To New Yorkers - The market at Union Square is a great place to buy local organic produce and it’s opened on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.  We’re spoiled now with produce from everywhere in the world at our fingertips, but you should give it a try.  It’s worth it.  You can't get there? There’s always Whole Foods, Fairway, Trader Joes etc.