20 July 2008

E is for eggplant parmigiana

D is for Dolmades

C is for Chef's Salad

I never liked chef's salad too much. It always seemed like the cobb salad's less attractive, blander little sister. But I had a number of odds and ends in the kitchen, and, in the spirit of the dish's roots, threw them all into the mix. I used strips of chicken in lieu of the chef's salad's sliced ham, and added cubes of sharp English cheddar. The rest was pretty standard: sliced radishes, chickpeas, cherry tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, sprouts, sauteed mushrooms, shredded carrots and lettuce. The radishes were the best part. I rarely think to buy them, but was happy that I did.

09 June 2008

B is for bruschetta

I admit that I don't miss Phoenix all that much. But that doesn't mean I hesitate to steal an idea from one of its few good restaurants: Postino, a wine and small plates affair in a renovated post office. In this case, I stole their signature bruschetta appetizer - so large it could double as a meal. The great thing about bruschetta is that you can feel free to try just about anything. I thought all of these tasted pretty good, but the prosciutto, apple, honey and mascorpone bruschetta was pretty darned good. I paired it with a light salad.

Here are the combinations I made on a battard of rustic sourdough bread:

-Sliced apples, mascarpone, honey, and prosciutto crudo
-Roasted red peppers, diced, with chevre
-Sauteed baby artichokes (see previous recipe for preparation)
-Chicken, sauteed in garlic and lemon, with Genovese pesto
-Figs and roquefort

Salad: mixed greens, blood orange, asian pear, pine nuts, chevre.

A is for artichoke

We are about five weeks behind on posting, so when I made this baby artichoke and chicken fricassee with morels, the artichokes had just hit the shelves. This recipe inspired me to start cooking them more often, and over the ensuing weeks we had baby artichokes many times. The first time around, I underestimated how much of the artichokes' outside layer should be shed before cooking, so we had to do a little maneuvering in the eating. This dish ended up being very rich and tasty.


1 1/2 lemons
12 baby artichokes

6 cups water
2 tablespoons all purpose flour plus additional for dredging
2 teaspoons salt
1 bay leaf

2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 chicken thighs
4 chicken drumsticks
4 ounces fresh morel mushrooms
2 medium carrots, peeled, thinly sliced
2 large shallots, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme, divided
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup low-salt chicken broth

1/4 cup crème fraîche


Fill large bowl with water. Squeeze juice from 1 lemon into water; add lemon halves. Tear outer leaves from 1 artichoke until only pale green leaves remain. Cut top 3/4 inch from top; trim end of stem. Cut in half lengthwise. Rub cut sides of artichoke with lemon half; transfer to bowl with lemon water. Repeat with remaining artichokes.

Bring 6 cups water, 2 tablespoons flour, 2 teaspoons salt, and bay leaf to boil in large saucepan. Add artichoke halves and cook until just tender, about 5 minutes. Drain.

Melt butter with oil in heavy large deep skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Dredge chicken in flour, shaking off excess. Cook chicken until golden brown, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to plate. Add mushrooms, carrots, and shallots to skillet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sauté until vegetables begin to soften, about 4 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon thyme and garlic; sauté 1 minute. Add wine; bring to boil. Add broth and artichokes; bring to boil.

Return chicken to skillet, reduce heat to medium low, cover, and simmer 20 minutes. Turn chicken, cover, and simmer until cooked through, about 15 minutes longer. Transfer chicken and vegetables to platter. Whisk crème fraîche into sauce in skillet; bring to boil. Season with salt and pepper. Pour sauce over chicken, sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon thyme, and serve.

08 May 2008

Z is for Za

What is "Za" you ask? Well, it is a variant of the frat house-inspired 'za, or pizza. And, as any scrabble aficionado knows, "za" is an officially recognized word. As for how it works out as a meal: easy to make, and not hard on the tongue, either. I made mine fairly simple, with tomato, basil, and avocado. Maybe next time I add some lemon zest.


Pizza dough (make your own if you've got the time - I went to the nearest pizzeria and bought some for 3 bucks.
1 ball mozzarella cheese (about 6 oz.)
1 8 oz. can of tomato sauce
3 cloves garlic
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh basil, roughly chopped
1 heirloom tomato, sliced
1 ripe avocado, sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
truffle oil for finish.


Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Saute shallot in olive oil for 3-4 minutes. Add garlic, oregano, and half of basil, salt and pepper and cook for one minute. Add tomato sauce and balsamic vinegar. Reduce until fairly thick. Roll out pizza dough to desired thickness (I prefer around 1/2 inch). Spread sauce evenly across dough. Add cheese and tomato and place in oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until crust is dark brown. Add basil and avocado. Drizzle crust with truffle oil (or just use olive oil).

20 April 2008

Y is for yellowtail

I was in the mood for some Sicilian-style fish, and this seared tuna with warm olive vinaigrette brought me back to my grandfather's kitchen. The caper/olive/tuna/lemon combo is one of my favorites. Some of the reviewers of this recipe (which, I should add, I adapted from epicurious) complained that the flavors are too strong. I completely disagree, but if you don't like olives or capers then you won't like this either. Serves 2.

4 tablespoons olive oil
two 1-inch-thick tuna steaks
6 Kalamata or other brine-cured black olives, pitted
2 teaspoons drained bottled capers
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar, or to taste
1 plum tomato, seeded and chopped
1 tablespoon water
2 tablespoons finely chopped drained bottled roasted red peppers plus additional for garnish if desired
1 tablespoon finely chopped white and green parts of scallion plus additional for garnish if desired
lemon wedges as an accompaniment

In a blender or small food processor, blend together the olives, capers, garlic, mustard, vinegar, tomato, water, and salt and pepper to taste. With the motor running add the remaining 3 tablespoons oil, blending the dressing until it is emulsified. Set aside.

In a heavy skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over moderately high heat until it is hot but not smoking. Sear the tuna steaks, patted dry and seasoned with salt and pepper, for 1 to 2 minutes on each side, so they are still raw in the center.

Transfer the tuna to plates and wipe the skillet clean. Pour the dressing into the skillet, heat it over moderate heat until it is hot, and stir in 2 tablespoons of the roasted peppers and 1 tablespoon of the scallion. Spoon the dressing over the tuna, garnish the tuna with the additional roasted peppers and scallion, and serve it with the lemon wedges.