I made this Stuffed Caprese Chicken twice in the past two days. It's that good and better yet, extremely easy. This stuffed chicken was the end product of a day when my choices were few; a partial carton of grape tomatoes, half a log of fresh mozzarella, chicken breasts in the freezer and a garden full of parsley and basil.
Individually frozen chicken breasts will defrost quickly when placed in a zip-lock bag and plunged into a large bowl of cold water. The amount of filling you will need depends on the number and size of the breasts. Cut thin slices of fresh mozzarella, quarter grape or cherry tomatoes, clean basil leaves and halve if large; set all aside. Using a sharp knife, cut into the side of the chicken breast and make an opening similar to a pita pocket. You want to open up the center of the breast as much as possible without cutting through to the other side. Line the back of the breast pocket with small, thin slices of mozzarella. Layer onto that pieces of tomatoes. Finish by running basil leaves across the tomatoes. The basil leaves at the opening of the slit will help keep the cheese and tomatoes inside while baking. Just do not over stuff. You want to be able to close the slit. Use about three toothpicks to close and secure the opening. Rub each breast with some olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and freshly-ground pepper. At this point the chicken breasts can be finished in the oven or refrigerated until you're ready to proceed. Preheat the oven to 375˚F. Place chicken breasts in a heavy, cast iron skillet (One night I made four in a 10-inch skillet. The second night I made two in an 8-inch). Right before baking, I drizzled my chicken with a little parsley oil I had made (recipe HERE). If you want to pass on the parsley oil, I suggest drizzling a little really good balsamic vinegar over the chicken breasts when pulled from the oven. Bake the chicken on the middle rack for 30 minutes. They should be perfectly juicy!
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In my early twenties, I worked at a gourmet kitchen store with a woman who had just tasted olive oil for the first time on a trip to Greece. She told me she didn't like it at all. The flavor was "overwhelmingly strong", and emphasized the nastiness through a hard squint of her eyes. That was back in the early '70s, and olive oil wasn't a mainstream ingredient yet... at least at the Kansas City grocery stores I frequented and within my group of friends. I had never used olive oil, and after my co-worker's critique wasn't in any hurry to do so. The same imprint was made on my brain at some point to dislike Brussels Sprouts. It's a vegetable I don't remember my mother ever making. And hearing negative comments from others about Brussels Sprouts, I decided I probably would not care for this little cruciferous vegetable myself. No need to even try them. Fortunately, I have learned and changed much over the years. I don't let people influence me anymore. At least when it comes to food.
I finally cooked Brussels Sprouts for the first time about seven years ago. Since then, it's grown into a full-blown love affair. When I found this recipe for Spaghetti with Brussels Sprouts and Sausage Bread Crumbs, I made it immediately. Then I made it again, and again one more time, all in the span of two weeks. I absolutely love this pasta dish. The squeeze of fresh lemon juice just before serving is the crowning jewel. My husband, unfortunately, doesn't share my ability or desire to eat the same foods over and over again. What's up with that? He likes a dish, but is then ready to move on to something else. I, on the other hand, would be quite satisfied having this pasta once a week (at least).
+ adapted recipe from Food & Wine
recipe serves 4
• 1/2 pound spaghetti
• 1 pound Brussels Sprouts, cleaned and sliced
• 1/2 pound bulk pork sausage
• 1/4 cup olive oil
• 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
• 2 to 3 scallion, white and light green parts sliced thin
• Salt and freshly ground pepper
• Good quality extra-virgin olive oil, for finishing
• Fresh lemon juice
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a large pinch of salt and cook the pasta until al dente.
2. In the meantime... warm the olive oil in a medium sauté pan. Add the pork sausage and Brussels Sprouts to the pan. Over medium heat, cook the mixture until the the pork sausage is cooked through and beginning to brown. Add the panko and cook until crisp. Stir in the sliced scallion and season to taste with salt and freshly-ground pepper.
3. Drain the spaghetti and divide between four bowls. Drizzle each with some extra-virgin olive oil and top with the Brussels Sprouts and Sausage Breadcrumb mixture. Finish with a good squeeze of fresh lemon juice and serve.
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It's become somewhat of a tradition that on Sunday night all of our family joins us for dinner. Last night our meal was Shredded Beer Braised Beef with Poutine. All I will say is, make this for your family, and you all will thank me for passing the recipe on to you. Use the best German Lager you can find for braising the beef...
+ recipe from Vince Camillo | Cooking Channel
• 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
• 4 pounds beef chuck roast, preferably grass fed
• Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 4 cloves of garlic, sliced
• 2 large onions, sliced (about 5 cups)
• 3 tablespoons unbleached, all-purpose flour
• 1 bottle Lager beer
• 4 cups low-sodium beef stock
• 1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
• 2 bay leaves
• 1 pound frozen crinkle-cut French fries
• 8 kaiser rolls, split and toasted (I used purchased Brioche Buns. If you have time, make your own. Recipe HERE)
• 3 cups shredded Muenster cheese
1. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or large pot over medium-high heat until hot. Sprinkle all sides of the beef with salt and pepper, and then add to the pot. Sear the beef, turning with tongs until all sides are evenly browned. Transfer the beef to a plate.
2. Add the garlic and onions to the pot and cook until soft and slightly browned, stirring occasionally. Stir in the flour until it coats the onions, then pour in the beer, scraping the bits of onion off the bottom of the pot. Add the beef stock, mustard, bay leaves and 1 teaspoon salt and return the beef to the pot. Bring up to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover with a lid. Simmer until the meat is very tender and falling apart, about 3 hours.
3. Heat the oven to 425˚F.
4. When the meat is almost tender, spread the fries onto a baking sheet and cook according to manufacturer's instructions until crispy.
5. Remove the meat from the liquid, and let cool slightly, then shred with a fork. Discard the bay leaves from the pot. Bring the braising liquid to a simmer over medium heat and cook until reduced to a gravy and almost thick enough to coat a spoon. Return the shredded meat to the pot and warm.
6. To assemble the sandwiches, place a handful of French fries on the bottom of each roll, having some of them hang off the edge. Top with a heaping 1/3 cup of the cheese and 1 cup shredded meat.
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Plan a lazy weekend brunch and make this Salmon and Potato Hash with Poached Eggs! Whenever I have some leftover salmon, I tend to use it in risotto, but this hash is now the new contender for that piece of fish. Every ingredient can be prepared ahead, making assembly, the morning of, very easy.
... an adapted Food & Wine recipe
• 1 pound small Yukon Gold potatoes
• 4 slices of bacon
• 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 1 small red onion, finely chopped
• 3/4 pound cooked, skinless salmon fillet, flaked
• 2 tablespoons snipped chives
• Salt and freshly ground pepper
• 4 eggs
1. Place potatoes in a pot of water and bring to a boil. Cook until tender. Drain and let cool briefly. Peel the potatoes, then cut them into 1/2-inch cubes.
2. Dice the bacon. In a large cast iron or nonstick skillet, cook the bacon until browned. Transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain.
3. Add the butter to the bacon fat in the skillet. (If not making hash immediately, save bacon fat or substitute olive oil when proceeding with recipe.) Over moderate heat add the onion and potatoes. Cook, stirring and gently mashing the potatoes occasionally, until the potatoes are beginning to brown in spots. Add the bacon, salmon, and chives and cook gently until the salmon is heated. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and cover to keep hash warm.
4. Meanwhile, bring a skillet or sauté pan full of water to a vigorous simmer (start heating the water while potatoes are browning). Crack eggs into individual bowls and add them to the simmering water. Poach the eggs until the whites are set, but the yolks are still runny, about 5 minutes. (Read how to make poached eggs ahead HERE.)
5. Divide salmon hash between 4 plates or bowls. With a slotted spoon, lift eggs from water, drain, and place on top of hash. Serve immediately.
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I am extremely fond of all things custard; possibly fueled by my aunt's baking of sweet custard pies for me when I was very young. If I order dessert after a restaurant meal, I will choose Crème Brulée over anything else on the menu -- always.
When I made my favorite Quiche Lorraine recipe the other night, I pleaded with my daughter to take a bite. Pleaded and begged, because my daughter is not a bacon eater. She did, however, give it a try and agreed... it's the best. The custard filling in this classic Quiche Lorraine is the creamiest you could ever imagine. I started joking about opening a small (and certainly successful) café called Quiche. My daughter countered with, Just Quiche. I ended with, Just One Quiche... this one, and nothing more.
• 1 partially baked deep, 9-inch tart crust, recipe follows
• 12 ounces apple-smoked bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
• 6 large, organic eggs
• 2 8-ounce jars of crème fraîche, recipe follows
• 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
• 5 ounces grated Gruyère cheese
1. Preheat the oven temperature to 375˚F.
2. In a medium skillet, cook the bacon until just crisp. Transfer to a paper towel and drain.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs; add the crème fraîche, salt, and nutmeg and whisk to blend. Slowly pour the egg custard into the partially baked tart crust. Sprinkle the cooked bacon on top and then cover with the grated Gruyère.
4. Place the tart pan on the middle rack of the oven and back for 40 minutes, or until the filling is just barely set.
5. Allow the quiche to rest for about 5 minutes before slicing.
• 1 pint heavy cream (do not use ultra-pasturized)
• 4 tablespoons buttermilk
Using 2 jars with lids (I like the French Bonne Maman jam jars), divide the buttermilk and then the heavy cream equally between the two. Secure the lids, then set the jars on your kitchen counter at room temperature for 24 hours; refrigerate. You will need to plan ahead and begin the Crème Fraîche at least 2 days ahead of making the quiche.
• 1 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
• 1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
• 8 tablespoons very cold, unsalted butter, cubed
• 4 tablespoons ice water
1. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the flour and salt. Add the butter and pulse until the butter is the size of small peas. Slowly add the ice water, pulsing the mixture until the dough just comes together. Transfer the mixture to a large piece of plastic wrap, press the dough into a disc and wrap. Refrigerate for about 2 hours.
2. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and place on a sheet of waxed paper dusted lightly with flour. Dust the top of the dough lightly with a bit more flour, then cover with plastic wrap. Roll the tart dough into a large circle. Transfer the dough to a 9-inch deep dish tart pan with a removable bottom, and gently press the dough into the bottom and up the sides. Using the rolling pin, trim the dough along the edge of the tart pan. (If you have any breaks in the tart crust, use remnants of dough to patch holes). Place the dough-lined tart pan in the freezer while you preheat the oven to 400˚F.
3. When ready to bake the crust, remove the tart pan from the freezer and line with foil. Fill the tart pan with dried beans or rice and place the pan on the middle rack of the oven. Bake for 15 minutes; carefully remove the foil and beans or rice. (Check again for any small cracks before adding the custard and baking and patch before the final bake). Return the tart crust to the oven and continue to bake until it is dry and light golden. Remove from the oven. It is now ready to fill with the custard.
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We welcomed 2015 with our annual New Year's Day Brunch. And I must ask, how do so many people take such stunning photos of their elaborate meals? Documenting my brunch is usually an afterthought. There is just too much going on in my kitchen! Maybe next year I'll ask everyone attending to bring along their cameras (or phones) and click away. I did, however, get a few shots of the celebration, and here they are!
ABOVE... Gruyére Gougéres and Canelés de Bordeaux welcomed our guests, along with Pomegranate Champange Punch to wash it all down.
• Pomegranate-Champagne Punch (recipe HERE)
• Canelés de Bordeaux (recipe HERE)
• Beer-Braised Beef Short Ribs with Corn Pancakes
• Oranges with Vanilla and Rosemary (recipe HERE)
• Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Apples and Walnuts (recipe HERE)
• Tartine's Banana Cream Tart with Chocolate and Caramel
My friend Lynn arrived early to assist me in the kitchen. Without her help, we would have been eating hours later... a New Year's Day dinner instead of brunch.
I have to admit, everything on the menu was pretty delicious! I quadrupled the recipe for Beer-Braised Beef Short Ribs. After braising the ribs, I was left with a huge pot of beer broth to reduce. I did that very slowly, and was rewarded with a thick, dark, flavorful sauce for the shredded beef.
I roasted enough of the Brussels Sprouts with Apples and Walnuts (recipe from Stacey Snacks) to have leftovers. The first thing I thought about this morning was heating up a bowl of the sprouts for breakfast. Unfortunately for me, my husband was thinking the same thing. I found the empty container in the sink...
• recipe from BREAKFAST for DINNER by Lindsay Landis & Taylor Hackbarth
Makes 4 servings
FOR THE SHORT RIBS
• 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 1/2 pounds beef short ribs
• 1 large yellow onion, chopped
• 1 jalapeño, seeded and chopped
• 1 (14.9-ounce) can beer, preferably a stout such as Guinness
• 1 cup beef broth
• 2 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
• 2 tablespoons tomato paste
• 1 tablespoon honey
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
FOR THE PANCAKES
• 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
• 2/3 cup cornmeal
• 1/2 tablespoon granulated sugar
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1 egg, lightly beaten
• 3/4 cup whole milk
• 1 cup fresh corn kernels (I used frozen corn)
• Olive oil, for cooking
• 1 Granny Smith apple, diced
1. Preheat oven to 300˚F. Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the ribs and sear for approximately 5 minutes, turning to brown evenly on all sides. Transfer ribs to a plate.
2. Reduce heat to medium and add the onions and jalapeños to the pot; cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add beer and broth, and cook briefly, stirring to remove any brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Stir in the brown sugar, tomato paste, honey, cinnamon, cumin, salt, and pepper. Add the short ribs and bring the mixture to a simmer. Cover the pot and place on the middle rack of the preheated oven. Bake for 2 1/2 hours, turning the ribs once, until the meat is very tender. Remove ribs from liquid and when cool enough to handle and shred the meat. Dispose of bones and any fat. Place the beef in an airtight container and refrigerate.
3. Transfer the liquid to a large bowl or pitcher and refrigerate until cold and the fat has solidified on top. (You can do this up to a couple of days ahead as I did). Remove as much fat as possible from the liquid.
4. When ready to proceed with the recipe, return the liquid to a large saucepan and over medium heat, reduce the liquid by at least one-third. I quadrupled my recipe and had a huge amount of liquid. I reserved about 4 cups to freeze for future use, and reduced the remaining beer-broth liquid over medium-low heat to about half of its original amount. I then stirred in the shredded beef, and simmered the mixture, until heated through.
5. While the broth was reducing, I mixed up the pancake batter. Preheat oven to 200˚F. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs and milk. Add the liquid to the dry ingredients and stir until combined. Fold in the corn kernels.
6. Pour a small amount of olive oil into a large, non-stick skillet (I prefer to use cast iron). Heat over medium-high heat and when hot, drop batter into the skillet and spread into 3-inch rounds. Cook until golden brown, flip and brown the other side. Place the pancakes on a baking sheet and keep warm in the oven while making additional pancakes. To serve, top each pancake with the braised, shredded beef. Sprinkle with diced Granny Smith apples.
Tartine's Banana Cream Tart with Chocolate and Caramel
I always say, if anything happens to the main course... there's still dessert! And this Banana Cream Tart was as good as I remember it being when I sampled a piece at Tartine in San Francisco several years ago. After our brunch, there was one slice left. When all of our guests departed, I ran into the kitchen and downed that remaining slice; no sharing by me. It was probably pay-back when my husband left me with an empty brussels sprouts container.
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This Roast Salmon with Sautéed Radishes and Sorrel Cream has been on my "to make" list for over a year. After several failed attempts to purchase fresh sorrel, I gave up -- only to find it, last week, growing in my neighbor's herb garden! Of course, our neighbors gave me the sorrel and joined us for dinner. Savory Tomato-Thyme Shortbread with Olive Gremolata was the appetizer served before this meal; Chocolate & Lavender Tartlets, the dessert.
The original recipe calls for making the sorrel cream sauce while the salmon is roasting. I cooked the sauce ahead and held it in my blender container at room temperature until I needed to finish it off. I use a Vitamix which also allowed me to heat the sauce when I was blending. I will show the recipe as printed, but if you do want to make the sauce slightly ahead of time, know that you may do so.
• recipe from Renee Erickson as printed in The Wall Street Journal
• Four 6- to 8-ounche salmon fillets, pin bones removed
• 5 tablespoons butter
• 1 shallot, peeled and thinly sliced
• 1 cup heavy cream
• 2 cups thinly sliced sorrel leaves, stems removed
• 12 radishes with some greens attached, cleaned and halved or quartered lengthwise into bite-size pieces
1. PREHEAT OVEN to 425˚F. Season salmon with salt. Place fillets, skin side down, on a lightly greased sheet pan and transfer to oven. Roast until salmon easily flakes when pressed on but remains slightly darker in color at its center, 10- 15 minutes, depending on thickness.
2. Meanwhile, set a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Swirl in 2 tablespoons butter. Once butter has melted, add shallots and gently cook until translucent, about 7 minutes. Add cream and simmer until slightly reduced and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high and add sorrel leaves. Cook until leaves just wilt, 1-2 minutes. Remove pan from heat and transfer everything to a blender or food processor. Purée until a smooth, uniform sauce forms, then season with salt to taste.
3. Wipe out sauté pan and set it back over medium-high heat. Swirl in remaining butter. Once butter has melted, add radishes and sauté until just tender and lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Season with salt to taste.
4. To serve, distribute sauce among four plates. Place roasted salmon over sauce and top with sautéed radishes.
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My timing is a little off here. It's November. Thanksgiving is next week and I'm sharing images of an alfresco dinner that took place on our neighbor's patio in August. There are no more thoughts this year of dining under the stars. But I'm in the middle of a project -- making drapes (very nice actually ;-) for the large, arched window at the front of my daughter's house. As is the case with most things I do, it is taking longer than expected.
So I'm rummaging through old photos and recipes I've meant to share. And since this August dinner was at the height of summer's glory, many of the meal's ingredients will be sub-standard if purchased now. But I suggest that you keep this recipe for Crab Cakes with Buttermilk-Basil Dressing and Marinated Tomatoes and Corn tucked away for next year; it's the best thing I've eaten in a long time!
Crab Cakes with Buttermilk-Basil Dressing and marinated Tomatoes and Corn
... recipe HERE
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This is what I believe most Minnesotans live for -- summer! And after what seemed like a winter and spring that would never end, it is now time to celebrate the outdoors. I bike as often as I can, work in my garden every day, and try to dine on the patio as much as possible. I just hosted a dinner for friends that I have meant to do for a long, long time. And, hopefully, I have more of these dinners still ahead during this short span of warmth we now enjoy.
Pipi believes that if she positions herself below a dining table, she will reap huge rewards.
As I've mentioned before... this is my favorite soup, EVER! I know... you need to plan ahead with this soup. There are several steps involved. But you will be SO rewarded! And a warm, summer's evening is the ideal time to serve this chilled soup with amazing flavors. (I have left-overs!)
For Spice Mix:
• 2 tablespoons chili powder
• 1 tablespoon salt
• 1 tablespoon sugar
• 1 tablespoon onion powder
• 1 tablespoon garlic powder
• 1 teaspoon cumin
• 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
• Six 6-ounce pieces salmon fillet
• 1/2 cup tomato juice
• 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
• 1/4 cup olive oil
• 1/3 cup finely chopped vine-ripened tomato
• 1/2 pound mixed baby lettuces
Make Spice Mixture:
1. Stir together all spice mixture ingredients and reserve 1 1/2 teaspoon for vinaigrette.
2. Divide remaining spice mixture among salmon pieces, rubbing into fish and arrange fish in one layer in a shallow dish. Chill fish, covered, 2 hours.
1. In a bowl, whisk together tomato juice, vinegar, and reserved spice mixture and add oil in a steady stream, whisking until emulsified.
2. Grill fish until just cooked through.
3. While fish is cooking, in a bowl toss tomatoes and lettuces with enough vinaigrette to coat lightly and divide among 6 plates. Divide salmon pieces among plates and pour remaining vinaigrette around each serving.
And if you're wondering... I made THIS for dessert.
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I amazed myself yesterday by making Spaghetti with Asparagus and Fried Egg for dinner. What amazed me was having the stamina to prepare dinner.
It was an absolutely glorious day (for a change) and all of my plans were set aside and replaced with a 25-mile bike ride around the lakes of Minneapolis -- stopping for a nice little lunch along the way. I'm sure most bikers wouldn't blink at riding 25-miles, but the distance I rode yesterday was a bit more than I usually attempt. On most rides I limit myself to around 15-miles -- three times a week. I imagined crashing on the sofa from exhaustion when I returned home, but I actually felt good! And even though I probably consumed a whole loaf of bread during my late afternoon lunch, I was hungry for dinner.
I made this pasta dish about a week ago and liked it enough to make it a second time for dinner last night. But then again, I like anything with an egg on top!
An alfresco dinner last night as the sun was beginning to set
• • • • • • • •
Spaghetti with Asparagus and Fried Egg
adapted recipe from the Chicago Tribune
• 1 pound asparagus, ends trimmed and cut diagonally into 1-inch pieces
• Kosher or sea salt
• Freshly ground pepper
• 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus additional if needed
• 2 eggs
• 8 ounces spaghetti
• Parmigiano-Reggiano, shaved or grated
* Freshly toasted bread crumbs
1. Bring a large pan of salted water to a boil and add the asparagus. Cook until the pieces are almost tender, about 1 minute.
2. Remove the asparagus from the boiling water and wrap in a large dish towel; set aside. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook to package directions.
3. In a large skillet (cast iron if you have one) heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and add the reserved asparagus. Cook over medium heat for several minutes, stirring occasionally, until heated through and tender. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Transfer the asparagus to a large bowl and add the drained pasta. Drizzle with more olive oil and toss. Add more salt and pepper if needed.
5. Heat a small skillet over low heat; drizzle with some olive oil and add the eggs. Cook until set, but the yolks are still runny. Season with salt and pepper.
6. Plate the asparagus and pasta, sprinkle with toasted bread crumbs, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and top with the fried egg.
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