Eggplant Involtini

Here’s a lighter version of Eggplant Involtini that focuses on the eggplant. Baking instead of frying allows you to skip the salting and draining step, since the eggplant’s excess moisture evaporates in the oven, and it means that the eggplant’s flavor and meaty texture are not obscured by oil and breading. This was sooo good, we can’t wait to make it again!

Swapping the usual ricotta-heavy filling for one that’s boosted with a generous dose of Pecorino Romano means we can use less filling without sacrificing flavor. Lastly, make a simple but complementary tomato sauce in a skillet, add the eggplant bundles to it, and finish it under the broiler, which decreases the number of dishes required—always a plus in our book!

Of course we put our own spin on the dish, first by utilizing the pieces of eggplant cut away before planking them. What a waste it would be to discard all of that—about 3 cups worth! So we cubed those leftover pieces into about a 3/8″ dice and sautéed them in about 3 tablespoons of olive oil until softened before adding the tomatoes to the same skillet.

Now here comes the real twist. We added very thin slices of prosciutto on top of the eggplant slices before spooning on the cheese filling. Of course this step makes it no longer vegetarian, but that extra ingredient added even more depth of flavor. And we served ours with a side of gemelli pasta, which negates the low-carb factor, if you’re not concerned with that aspect.

  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 large eggplants (1 1/2 pounds each), peeled
  • 9 Tbsp. vegetable oil, divided
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ tsp. dried oregano
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 28-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes, drained with juice reserved, chopped coarse
  • 1 slice hearty white sandwich bread, torn into 1-inch pieces
  • 8 oz. whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 ½ oz. grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • ¼ cup plus 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 4 oz. very thin slices of prosciutto, cut in half crosswise (optional)

Directions

  1. Slice each eggplant lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick planks (you should have 12-15 planks). Trim rounded surface from each end piece so it lies flat.
  2. Cut up those leftover rounded pieces into a 3/8″ dice and sauté them in about 3 tablespoons of olive oil in your large skillet until softened, about 5 minutes.
  3. Adjust 1 oven rack to lower-middle position and second rack 8 inches from broiler element. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper and spray generously with vegetable oil spray. Arrange eggplant slices in single layer on prepared sheets. Brush 1 side of eggplant slices with 2 1/2 tablespoons oil and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Flip eggplant slices and brush with 2 1/2 tablespoons oil and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
  4. Bake until tender and lightly browned, 30 to 35 minutes, switching and rotating sheets halfway through baking. Let cool for 5 minutes. Using thin spatula, flip each slice over. Heat broiler.
  5. While eggplant planks cook, add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the diced eggplant in same broiler-safe skillet over medium-low heat until just shimmering. Add garlic, oregano, pepper flakes, and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomatoes and their juice. Increase heat to high and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until thickened, about 15 minutes. Cover and set aside.
  6. Pulse bread in food processor until finely ground, 10 to 15 pulses. Combine bread crumbs, ricotta, 1/2 cup Pecorino, 1/4 cup basil, lemon juice, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in medium bowl.
  7. With widest ends of eggplant slices facing you, place a half slice of prosciutto, if using, on the wide end of each plank. Next, evenly distribute ricotta mixture on bottom third of each slice. Gently roll up each eggplant slice and place seam side down in tomato sauce.
  8. Bring sauce to simmer over medium heat. Simmer for 5 minutes. Transfer skillet to oven and broil until eggplant is well browned and cheese is heated through, 5 to 10 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup Pecorino and let stand for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon basil and serve.

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Adapted from The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook for America’s Test Kitchen

Spanish Chorizo, Ham and White Bean Stew

Having made the traditional recipe—which takes hours—we were thrilled to find this quick-and-easy version of the Spanish tapa known as Fabada Asturiana, a hearty stew of dried beans, sausage and other smoky, porky ingredients.

A number of years ago on our first trip to Spain, we were lucky enough to enjoy an authentic fabada, shown above, in the little Austurian town of Cabrales in Northern Spain. The Hubs liked it so much, he bought the ingredients and smuggled them home. Luckily (or not), because I had suffered a broken foot a few days earlier, we were whisked through airport customs back home, preventing our illegal meats and beans from being confiscated. (I don’t advise this tactic as a long term plan 🤣 )

I digress, back to the recipe at hand… Based on the changes from Milk Street, we pared back on the meats, using only chorizo and ham, both of which lend deep flavor to the broth. The dish gets its name from the large beans that are traditionally used in its preparation, but canned white beans work quite well. Preferred are the relatively large size and creamy texture of cannellinis, but great northern and navy beans are fine, too.

A pinch of saffron adds a very Spanish flavor and fragrance, while giving the stew an alluring golden hue. The color and flavor were also amped up from our homemade ham stock, which replaced the chicken broth.

The Hubs was sorely tempted to add a pinch of pimentón, but restrained himself from adding it to the stew. However, he did decide to sneak it onto the toasted crusty bread. BTW, it will serve six as a first course, or four as the main entrée.

TIP: Don’t overcook the chorizo and ham after adding it to the sautéed onion mixture. If the pieces begin to sear or brown, they’ll be chewy and rubbery in the finished dish. Cook only until the chorizo begins to release some of its fat.

  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • Tbsp.  extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 6 medium garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tsp. saffron threads
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 8 oz. Spanish chorizo, casings removed, halved and thinly sliced
  • 8 oz. ham steak, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 1½ qts. chicken broth, or ham stock, preferably homemade
  • 3 15½-oz. cans white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • Warmed crusty bread, to serve

Directions

  1. In a large pot over medium, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the onion, garlic, saffron and ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is slightly softened, 5 to 8 minutes.
  2. Add the chorizo and ham, then cook, stirring, just until the chorizo begins to release its fat, about 1 minute. Stir in the broth, beans and bay. Bring to a simmer over medium-high, then reduce to medium and cook, stirring occasionally and adjusting heat as needed to maintain a simmer, for 10 to 15 minutes.
  3. Remove and discard the bay, then stir in the scallions. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve with bread.

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Recipe adapted from Courtney Hill for Milk Street

Cellentani with Spiced Beef, Onion Sauce and Feta

This savory pasta dish was inspired by kawarma, the spicy ground beef topping spooned over hummus in Israel. Milk Street re-envisioned it over pasta with just a few adjustments, resulting in a ground beef sauce seasoned with fragrant spices and generous amounts of onion and garlic, all lightened with a good dose of mint at the end.

I was scratching my head over the ingredients, wondering how they would all come together. Well we were both surprised how delicious the meal was! While we didn’t change anything dramatically, the amount of ground beef was a stretch over the one-and-a-half pounds by another four ounces, no biggie.

Milk Street warns not use ground beef fattier than 90 percent lean or the sauce will be greasy. However, we happened to have an 85 percent lean ground beef in the house and just made sure to siphon off the grease after Step 2, before adding the tomatoes. The type of pasta was switched from linguine to cellentani because that’s what we happened to have on hand, plus I think the feta clung to those curves more willingly.

And by all means, make sure to use authentic Greek block feta, not the already crumbled bits packaged in plastic containers—the taste is immeasurably more pleasant. Rather than sprinkle the feta as a garnish, it is tossed in with the just-cooked noodles so it melts and coats the strands, or in our case, the cork screws because we used cellentani pasta.

Perhaps because of the extra beef and thicker pasta, our version would easily feed five.

Cellentani with Spiced Beef, Onion Sauce and Feta

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1½ lbs. 90 percent lean ground beef
  • 2 Tbsp. ground cumin
  • 2 tsp. sweet paprika
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 large yellow onions, finely chopped
  • 8 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 28 oz. can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand
  • 12 oz. cellentani, linguine, or your choice of pasta
  • 8 oz. block feta cheese, shredded on the large holes of a box grater
  • 1 cup chopped fresh mint

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, combine the beef, cumin, paprika, cinnamon, 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper and ¼ cup water. Mix with your hands until homogenous.
  2. Add the beef mixture, onion and garlic to a 12-inch skillet. Set the pan over medium-high and cook, stirring and breaking up the meat with a spatula, until the onion has softened and the beef is no longer pink, 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. Stir in the tomatoes with juices and bring to a simmer, then reduce to medium and cook uncovered, stirring, until most of the liquid has evaporated and the sauce has thickened, 10 to 15 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, in a large pot, bring 4 quarts water to a boil. Stir in the pasta and 2 tablespoons salt; cook until the pasta is al dente. Reserve about 1 cup of the cooking water (you probably won’t need it all), then drain the pasta.
  5. Return the pasta to the pot. Add about ¾ of the feta and toss. Taste and season with salt and pepper, add reserved pasta water a bit at a time to loosen if needed, then transfer to a platter.
  6. Stir the mint into the sauce, then taste and season with salt and pepper. Pour the sauce over the pasta and sprinkle with the remaining feta.

http://www.lynnandruss.com

Adapted from a recipe for Milk Street

Ham and Gruyere Quiche

Quiche is one of those versatile dishes that can be served at any meal, be it breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner. Once baked and cooled slightly, it can be eaten right away, or refrigerated for another time. Using a combination of milk and heavy cream, it yields the richest, creamiest filling ever.

With a large amount leftover from a recent dinner party featuring Ham Braised in Madeira with Rosemary & Peppercorns, and a block of gruyere that never got used, we had the starter ingredients for our filling. To that we included some diced shallot and chopped fresh thyme.

We are “those” people that thrive on culinary challenges, but if you don’t have the time, or the stamina to create your own crust, by all means purchase a pre-made store bought variety. But be forewarned, this crust recipe is fabulous, and according to The Hubs, the best he’s ever made! He really liked the trick of adding the leftover dough to the edges for crimping and fluting. This also helped prevent the crust from sinking down.

Ham and Gruyere Quiche

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Homemade Buttery Flaky Pie Crust

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
  • 3/4 cup vegetable shortening, chilled
  • 1/2 cup ice water

NOTE: This recipe is enough for a double crust pie. If you only need 1 crust for your pie, cut this recipe in half OR freeze the other half.

Directions

  1. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface.
  2. Using floured hands, fold the dough into itself until the flour is fully incorporated into the fats.
  3. Form it into a ball. The dough should come together easily and should not feel overly sticky.
  4. Cut the dough in half. Flatten each half into 1-inch thick discs using your hands. Wrap each tightly in plastic wrap.
  5. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 5 days. Or freeze.
  6. When rolling out the chilled pie dough discs to use in your pie, always use gentle force with your rolling pin. Start from the center of the disc and work your way out in all directions, turning the dough with your hands as you go. Visible specks of butter and fat in the dough are perfectly normal and expected.
  7. Roll the dough into a 12-inch circle so that there is enough crust to go up the edges of the glass pie dish. Cut away extra dough but leave about an inch overhang.
  8. Gather all of the extra dough pieces, mush together and roll out into a thin rectangle. Cut 1-inch strips and add them to the top edge of the pie crust. Crimp or flute the edges.
  9. Chill the shaped pie crust for at least 30 minutes. This prevents shrinking. Remember that pie dough must be cold.
  10. Fill with pie weights (or dried beans). As the pie dough bakes, its fat will melt. The melting fat causes the pie crust to shrink down the sides of the pie dish. To prevent the pie dough from completely losing its shape, weigh it down with pie weights. Carefully line the pie dough with parchment paper first, then pour in pie weights/dry beans.
  11. Bake until the edges are lightly brown, about 15 minutes.
  12. Remove pie weights, then prick the crust with a fork.
  13. Bake crust for about 8 more minutes.

The Perfect Quiche

Ingredients

  • 1 unbaked flaky pie crust (recipe above)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream or heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper
  • 1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
  • 1 cup cubed ham
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 cup minced shallot
  • 1 1/2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. 
  2. Partially blind bake your pie crust as indicated above. Crust can still be warm when you pour in the filling. (You can partially pre-bake the crust up to 3 days ahead of time. Cover cooled crust tightly and refrigerate until ready to fill.)
  3. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F.
  4. Heat 1 tablespoon of butter in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. When melted, add shallot pieces and cook, stirring occasionally until translucent, about 4-5 minutes.
  5. In a large bowl with a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the eggs, whole milk, heavy cream, salt, and pepper together on high speed until completely combined, about 1 minute. Whisk in ham, cheese, shallot and thyme.
  6. Bake the quiche until the center is just about set, about 45-55 minutes. Don’t over-bake. Use a pie crust shield to prevent the pie crust edges from over-browning. Allow to cool for 15 minutes.
  7. Top with optional toppings before slicing and serving, if desired. Or you can cool the quiche completely before serving– it’s fantastic at room temperature!
  8. This quiche makes great leftovers! Cover tightly and store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Make Ahead Freezing Instructions: The pie dough can be prepared ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. You can pre-bake the crust ahead of time too. To freeze, cool baked quiche completely, then cover tightly with a couple sheets of aluminum foil and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator or on the counter, then bake at 350°F for 20-25 minutes.

http://www.lynnandruss.com

Recipes adapted from sallysbakingaddiction.com

Ham Braised in Madeira with Rosemary & Peppercorns

It’s not often we serve a large ham, but when we do, it’s nice to make it a bit special, such as this Ham Braised in Madeira with Rosemary & Peppercorns by Molly Stevens. After 11 months of still dealing with all of the pandemic restrictions and social isolating, we took a plunge and had good friends Rosanne and Gary over for dinner.

One of the main changes we made to this recipe was the use of our homemade ham stock in place of chicken or veal stock. Whichever you choose, make sure it’s homemade and not the bland canned or boxed varieties.

I want to give a shout out to our company Rosanne and Gary for starting the party with a beautifully plated appetizer and a good bottle of red.

After a first course of Cream of Clery and Celery Root Soup, our sides included Carrots with Maple and Cider Vinegar, and Potato Gratin with Bacon, Gruyere and Leeks. The White-Wine Poached Pears with Lemon and Herbs was just the right light touch to end the feast.

Ham Braised in Madeira with Rosemary & Peppercorns

  • Servings: 10-12
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 carrots, coarsely chopped
  • 2 medium yellow onions, coarsely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
  • 1 heaping Tbsp. green peppercorns, in brine, rinsed and drained
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 4 3-inch leafy fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 2 small or 1 large bay leaf
  • 1 cup dry madeira wine
  • 1 cup chicken or veal stock, preferably homemade
  • 1 6 to 8 lb. bone in ham, fully or partially cooked, preferably shank or rump

Directions

1. Heat the oven to 300 degrees.

2. The aromatics: In a large dutch oven or deep braising pan large enough to hold the ham, heat the oil over medium high heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the carrot, onions, and celery. Sauté, stirring a few times, until the vegetables brown on the edges and begin to soften, about 10 minutes. Add the peppercorns, garlic, rosemary and bay leaf, stir and sauté for another 2 minutes.

3. The braising liquid: Pour in the madeira and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium and simmer for 10 minutes to meld the flavors and reduce the liquid somewhat. Pour in the stock, bring to a simmer and simmer for another 5 minutes.

4. The braise: Whether you bought a fully cooked or partially cooked (sometimes labeled “ready to cook”) ham will affect the cooking time. Lower the ham into the pot, setting it either flat side down or on its side, whichever fits best. Cover tightly with the lid or heavy duty foil and slide the pot into the lower part of the oven. For a fully cooked ham, braise until fork tender and heated all the way through, about 1 hour and 45 minutes. For a partially cooked ham, braise until the ham is fork tender and an instant-read thermometer reads 155 degrees when inserted in the thickest part of the ham, closer to 2 1/2 hours. (Be careful that the thermometer does not hit the bone, which will give you a falsely high reading.)

5. The finish: Transfer the ham to a platter and cover loosely with foil to keep warm. Strain the braising liquid, and discard the vegetables as they will be too salty. Skim as much fat from the surface of the braising liquid as you can without losing patience. Taste, if the liquid tastes a bit weak, pour it into medium saucepan and simmer to reduce until it tastes like a mild broth, 10 to 15 minutes. If the liquid is already tasty as is, set if over a low burner to keep warm. The sauce will not need any salt, in fact, if you do reduce it, be careful not to go too far, as it can quickly become too salty.

6. Serving: Carve the ham into think slices and serve warm or at room temperature with a bit of the warm sauce spooned over the top.

http://www.lynnandruss.com

Recipe from “All About Braising” by Molly Stevens

White Wine-Poached Pears with Lemon and Herbs

If you’re looking for an easy pear dessert that lets the fruit shine, look no further. The Hubs came across this lovely recipe in his new acquisition by Cook’s Illustrated (CI) “The Compete Mediterranean Cookbook.” Poached pears are a classic French dessert, and yet simple enough to make at home.

Because our bosc pears were a bit too firm yet, the simmering process took longer to render them tender enough. We also lengthened the sauce reduction time to get the syrup to the correct consistency. Making them the day before our dinner party gave the pears ample time to refrigerate overnight.

They can be served as is, or with crème fraîche… perhaps even a shortbread cookie on the side…

NOTES from CI: For the best texture, try to buy pears that are neither fully ripe nor rock hard; choose those that yield just slightly when pressed. Use a vegetable peeler to peel strips of lemon zest, but take care to avoid the bitter pith beneath the skin. For the white wine, a medium-bodied dry white wine such as Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay is recommended.

White Wine-Poached Pears with Lemon and Herbs

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 bottle dry white wine (750-ml)
  • ¾ cups sugar
  • 6 strips lemon zest from 1 lemon
  • 5 sprigs fresh mint leaves
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise, seed scraped out and reserved
  • ½ cinnamon stick
  • ⅛ tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. juice from 1 lemon
  • 6 ripe but firm pears (about 8 oz. each), preferably Bosc or Bartlett
  • Crème fraîche, for garnish, optional

Directions

  1. Bring the wine, sugar, lemon zest, mint, thyme, vanilla seeds and pod, cinnamon, and salt to a simmer in a large saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves completely, about 5 minutes; cover and set aside until needed.
  2. Meanwhile, fill a large bowl with water and add the lemon juice. Peel, halve, and core the pears following the illustrations in the related quick tips, adding them to the lemon water to prevent browning.
  3. Drain the pears, discarding the lemon water, and add to the wine mixture. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until pears are tender and a toothpick or skewer can be inserted into pear with very little resistance, 10 to 20 minutes, gently turning the pears over every 5 or so minutes.
  4. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the fruit to a shallow casserole dish. Return the syrup to medium heat and simmer until it is slightly thickened and measures 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups, about 15 minutes. Strain the syrup through a fine mesh strainer, then pour over the pears, discarding the strained solids. Refrigerate the pears until well chilled, at least 2 hours or up to 3 days.
  5. To serve, spoon portions of fruit and syrup into individual bowls or on plates. Drizzle crème fraîche over the tops, if desired.

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Slavonian-Style Shepherd’s Stew with Croatian Mashed Potatoes

This Slavonian-Style Shepherd’s Stew from the Slavonia region of Croatia, čobanac is a meat-centric stew rich with paprika and thickened in part by shredded root vegetables that break down during a long, slow simmer. Though referred to as shepherd’s stew (čoban translates as shepherd), the dish traditionally is made with not only lamb but also beef, pork and wild game. Milk Street simplified the dish using only beef; with chuck roast as the cut of choice for its meaty flavor, nice marbling and ample connective tissue that helps make a full-bodied broth.

NOTE: To achieve just the right amount of earthy flavor and an undercurrent of spicy heat, use both sweet and hot paprika. We didn’t have hot paprika, so 2 teaspoons sweet paprika plus ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper made a fine substitution. Be aware, this recipe uses a LOT of paprika, so make sure to have enough on hand from the start.

Simple dumplings are a classic—and delicious—addition to this stew, but they are not essential. If you’d like to include them, you can obtain the recipe from Milk Street online. The dough is made and added to the pot at the end of cooking. We chose to make the Croatian Mashed Potatoes instead (recipe follows).

TIP: The original recipe calls for 6 cups of water, but in the end, our broth was very thin and watery so we reduced it, uncovered for an additional 30 minutes. To avoid this, use only 4 cups water, or make and insert the dumplings which help soak up the liquid.

It is recommended not to use double-concentrated tomato paste (the type often sold in tubes) or the stew will end up tasting too tomatoey. As you cook the tomato paste and vegetable mixture, don’t worry if the paste sticks to the pot and begins to darken; this browning helps build depth of flavor.

Slavonian-Style Shepherd’s Stew

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: moderately easy
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Ingredients

  • 2½ lbs. beef chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions, chopped
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and shredded on the large holes of a box grater
  • 2 medium parsnips, peeled and shredded on the large holes of a box grater
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, stems minced and leaves chopped, reserved separately
  • 4 Tbsp. tomato paste, divided
  • 4-6 cups water (see tip above)
  • ¼ cup plus 2 Tbsp. sweet paprika, divided
  • 1 Tbsp. hot paprika (see note above)
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 2 Tbsp. brown mustard
  • 1 bunch fresh dill, finely chopped

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, toss the beef with 1 tablespoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper; set aside. In a large Dutch oven over medium, combine the oil, onions and ½ teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add the carrots, parsnips, garlic and parsley stems, then cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes.
  2. Stir in 2 tablespoons of the tomato paste and cook, stirring often, until it begins to brown and stick to the bottom of the pot, 2 to 4 minutes. Add the ¼ cup sweet paprika, the hot paprika and bay. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Whisk in the wine and 6 cups water, then bring to a simmer over medium-high, stirring often. (If not making the dumplings which help soak up some of the liquid, you may want to use only 4 cups water which will make the broth less thin.)
  3. Stir in the beef and return to a simmer. Reduce to low, cover and cook until a skewer inserted into the beef meets no resistance, about 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
  4. Remove the pot from the heat. Tilt the pot to pool the cooking liquid to one side, then use a wide spoon to skim off and discard as much fat as possible. Remove and discard the bay.
  5. In a medium bowl, stir together the remaining 2 tablespoons tomato paste, the remaining 2 tablespoons sweet paprika and the mustard. Whisk about 1 cup of the cooking liquid into the tomato paste mixture, then stir it into the pot. Return to a simmer over medium-high, then stir in the parsley leaves and half the dill. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve sprinkled with the remaining dill.

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Recipe from Rebecca Richmond for Milk Street

Croatian Mashed Potatoes

Croatian restani krumpir is a hearty, rustic dish of mashed potatoes studded with onions that are sautéed until soft and sweet, oftentimes seasoned with paprika and brightened with fresh herbs. Milk Street’s version is a one-pot recipe—the onion is caramelized, removed and set aside while the potatoes cook. Rather than boiling whole or chunked potatoes in copious water, instead they are sliced unpeeled and steamed in a covered pot with only enough water to facilitate even cooking and prevent scorching. This keeps the potatoes from absorbing lots of moisture so the finished dish tastes rich and earthy instead of thin and washed-out. This dish is a perfect the Slavonian stew.

Tip: Don’t forget to rinse the sliced potatoes before cooking. Rinsing washes off excess starch so the finished dish has a creamy consistency and isn’t dense and gluey. Also, don’t undercook the potatoes—they should almost fall apart when poked with a skewer so they can be easily mashed with a wooden spoon.

Croatian Mashed Potatoes

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp. grapeseed or other neutral oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 lbs. Yukon Gold potatoes, unpeeled, halved lengthwise and sliced about ¼ inch thick
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 4 Tbsp. (½ stick) salted butter, cut into 4 pieces
  • ¼ tsp. sweet paprika, plus more to serve
  • 2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh chives, divided

Directions

  1. In a large Dutch oven over medium, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the onion and ½ teaspoon salt, then cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and well browned, 22 to 25 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat. Transfer the onion to a small bowl and set aside; reserve the pot.
  2. In a colander under cold running water, rinse the potatoes. Drain well, then add to the pot. Stir in ¾ cup water and 1 teaspoon salt, then distribute the potatoes in an even layer. Cover and bring to a boil over medium-­high. Reduce to medium and cook at a simmer, stirring occasionally, until the slices almost fall apart when poked with a skewer, 18 to 20 minutes.
  3. If there is water remaining in the pot, increase to medium-high and cook, uncovered and stirring often, until no moisture remains. (We had to cook ours another 7 minutes for the pot to become dry.)
  4. Reduce to low, add the butter and cook, stirring and mashing the potatoes with a spoon, until the butter is melted and incorporated, about 1 minute. Stir in the onion, paprika, ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper.
  5. Stir in 1 tablespoon of the chives, then taste and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving dish. Sprinkle with additional paprika and the remaining 1 tablespoon chives.

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Recipe from Milk Street

Linguine with Tomatoes, Orange and Olives

We’ve been particularly enamored of Mediterranean-inspired dishes as of late and this vegetarian pasta dish is loaded with the robust flavors of that region. It’s a riff on a recipe from “The Italian Country Table” by Lynn Rosetto Kasper, who found inspiration for the citrusy, savory tomato sauce in the markets of Siracusa, on the island of Sicily.

We found this recipe in a recent copy of Milk Street Magazine where they prefer the meaty, concentrated flavor of oil-cured black olives, but insist milder green olives (such as Castelvetrano) work well, too. Having oil-cured black olives on hand, we used them. The only major difference we made was to use fresh oregano at a ratio of 3-to-1, that is 1 tablespoon of fresh for the 1 teaspoon of dried.

The sharp tang of pecorino Romano cheese is an especially good match for the fruity, herbal flavors. While warm, crusty bread makes a nice partner to the dish, we opted for less carbs and paired the pasta with a side salad.

It was wonderful again the next day for lunch. Just drizzle a little EVOO over the top, cover and microwave for a few minutes, top with more grated cheese.

TIP: Don’t boil the pasta until al dente. Drain it when it’s a few minutes shy of al dente, but don’t forget to reserve about 1 cup of cooking water first. The pasta will finish cooking directly in the sauce, which allows the noodles to absorb flavor.

Linguine with Tomatoes, Orange and Olives

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 lb. linguini or spaghetti
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • 6 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. grated orange zest, plus ½ cup orange juice
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • ½ tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 2 pints grape tomatoes
  • 1 cup lightly packed fresh basil, torn into small pieces
  • ½ cup pitted oil-cured black olives or green olives, finely chopped
  • 2 oz. pecorino Romano cheese, finely grated (1 cup)

Directions

  1. In a large pot, bring 4 quarts water to a boil. Stir in the pasta and 2 tablespoons salt, then cook, stirring occasionally, until just shy of al dente. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water, then drain the pasta and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the garlic, orange zest, oregano and pepper flakes, then cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and orange juice, cover and cook until the tomatoes begin to burst, about 4 minutes.
  3. Reduce to medium, then press on any whole tomatoes with the back of a spoon so they burst. If the pasta is not yet done, remove the skillet from the heat, cover and set aside.
  4. To the skillet, add the drained pasta and ½ cup of the reserved pasta water. Bring to a simmer over medium and cook, tossing with tongs, until the pasta is al dente, about 5 minutes. Taste and season with salt and black pepper.
  5. Off heat, add the basil, olives and half of the cheese, then toss to combine, adding reserved pasta water if needed so the sauce coats the noodles. Transfer to a serving bowl, sprinkle with the remaining cheese and drizzle with additional oil.

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Adapted from a recipe from Rebecca Richmond for Milk Street

Slow-Cooker Vegetable & Chicken Meatball Soup

Aren’t meatballs fun? There are so many options as far as which ground meat to use: beef, pork, veal (or a combo of all three), turkey, and finally chicken, as in this healthy soup recipe. And size is another matter because you can make mini, medium, large or colossal, and serve them as appetizers, in soups, with pasta, as a side, in casseroles, as sliders on buns, or the ever-popular meatball sandwich… the options are limitless. Below are links to over a dozen more meatball recipes.

Here, we’ll concentrate on soup which we know can require a fair amount of prep in chopping all of the veggies, and with the addition of forming meatballs it’ll take about 30 minutes of your time in total. The slow-cooker does all the rest for the next two and a half hours, so your free to indulge in other pursuits.

However, don’t skip cooking the onions for the meatballs. This step softens the onions so they more easily add their sweet flavor to the meatball mixture. And as always, use homemade chicken stock if at all possible for the most flavor. I really think it would be too bland if you use canned or boxed store-bought broth. A few other changes we made included slightly increasing the amounts of most vegetables.

Plan on feeding 4 as an entrée or 6 as a first course.

Slow-Cooker Vegetable & Chicken Meatball Soup

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped 
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
  • 4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 large zucchini, chopped
  • 4 oz. green beans, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
  • 1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1 lb. ground chicken
  • ⅓ cup panko
  • 2 ½ Tbsp. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tsp. chopped fresh oregano
  • Grated parmesan cheese for garnish, optional

Directions

  1. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high. Add the onions, garlic, salt, and pepper to the skillet; cook, stirring often, until softened, about 6 minutes.
  2. Remove 1/2 cup of the cooked onion mixture, and place in a medium bowl; set aside. Transfer the remaining onion mixture to a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker.
  3. Add the diced tomatoes and stir up the browned bits to the pan to deglaze. Stir the stock, carrots, zucchini, green beans, and celery into the slow cooker.
  4. Add the chicken, panko, 1/2 tablespoon of the parsley, and 1 teaspoon of the oregano to the reserved 1/2 cup onion mixture in the bowl; stir gently with a fork to combine.
  5. Shape the chicken mixture into 18 (1 1/4-inch) meatballs. Carefully submerge the meatballs into the chicken stock mixture in the slow cooker without stirring.
  6. Cover and cook on HIGH until the meatballs are done and the vegetables are tender, about 2 hours and 30 minutes.
  7. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons parsley and 1 teaspoon oregano. Ladle the soup into bowls and top some grated cheese, if desired. And if you’re not counting carbs, serve hot crusty bread too.

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Adapted from a recipe found on EatingWell.com

Related Meatball Posts:

Cellentani with Turkey Meatballs and Homemade Tomato Sauce

Sheet-Pan Chicken Meatballs and Charred Broccoli

Meatballs in Almond Sauce

Pork, Veal and Fennel Meatballs

Italian Meatballs with Tomato & White Wine Braise

Ginger-Chicken Meatballs with Chinese Broccoli

Swedish Meatballs

Vietnamese Meatball and Watercress Soup (Canh)

Sweet and Tangy Retro Meatballs

Festoni Con Polpette Di Mamma

Sheet-Pan Meatballs with Red Onions and Artichokes

Cumin Spiced Chicken Meatballs

Lion’s Head Meatballs

Basque-Style Fish and Clams in Parsley-Garlic Sauce

The Hubs was thrilled with this recipe because it has clams, and we rarely cook anything with clams because I don’t eat them. It’s a consistency thing with me. I enjoy their broth, and when they’re cut up and chopped into things, but not whole clams.

The Spanish dish—Merluza en Salsa Verde con Almejas, or hake in green sauce with clams—is a classic dish from the Basque Country in northern Spain. Hake has been one of my favorite white flaky fishes ever since I enjoyed it for the very first time in Northern Spain in 2013. Problem is, it’s near impossible to source in these parts, so cod is a reasonable substitute.

In this recipe, fish fillets are gently simmered until flaky in a parsley, garlic and olive oil sauce, then are finished with cooked clams in their shells. Milk Street adapted this formula from seaside restaurant Txoko Getaria, and devised a method that requires only a food processor and a skillet but yields delicious results in only about an hour.

The cubanelle pepper (or jalapeño chili) is a stand-in for hard-to-source Basque guindilla chilies. And if you cannot find Idiazabal cheese, a Basque sheep’s-milk cheese with a subtle smokiness, Manchego is a good substitute.

Don’t omit the cheese. The pairing of fish and cheese is indeed unusual but the Idiazábal lends complex flavor without tasting distinctly cheesy. After adding the fish to the skillet, don’t allow the poaching liquid to reach a full simmer; slow, gentle bubbling is best to ensure the fillets are perfectly cooked.

Basque-Style Fish and Clams in Parsley-Garlic Sauce

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 oz. Idiazábal or Manchego cheese (without rind), cut into rough 1″ chunks
  • ¼ cup sliced almonds, toasted
  • Kosher salt
  • 5 cups lightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves and tender stems
  • ½ cup plus ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 4 6-oz. firm white fish fillets (about 1” thick), such as hake, cod or grouper
  • 5 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 Cubanelle pepper or jalapeño chili, stemmed, halved lengthwise, seeded and sliced into thin half rings
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 lbs. hardshell clams (about 1½” in diameter), such as manila or littleneck
  • 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

Directions

  1. In a food processor, combine the cheese, almonds and ½ teaspoon salt. Process until finely chopped, about 20 seconds. Add the parsley and process until chopped, about 10 seconds. With the machine running, add the ½ cup oil, then process until smooth, about 1 minute, scraping the bowl as needed; set aside.
  2. Season the fish all over with salt. In a 12-inch skillet over medium, combine the remaining ¼ cup oil, the garlic and Cubanelle pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the garlic begins to brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the wine and bring to a boil over medium-high. Cook, stirring, until the wine reduces by half, about 4 minutes.
  3. Add 1 cup water and bring to a boil. Add the clams, cover and cook, occasionally shaking the skillet, until the clams have opened, about 4 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and, using a slotted spoon, transfer the clams to a bowl, discarding any that have not opened; cover to keep warm.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk the flour and ½ cup of the broth mixture until smooth, then whisk the mixture into the broth in the skillet. Bring to a simmer over medium, stirring often; the liquid will thicken. Add the fish skin/skinned side up, then cover, reduce to low and cook for 4 minutes, adjusting the heat as needed to maintain a very gentle simmer.
  5. Using a wide metal spatula, carefully flip the fillets. Re-cover and cook until the centers of the fillets are opaque and reach 120°F, another 2 to 4 minutes. Using the spatula, transfer the fillets to serving bowls.
  6. Return the sauce to a simmer over medium, then stir in the parsley puree and remove from the heat. Taste and season with salt. Pour the sauce over the fish and top with the clams.

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Recipe from Courtney Hill for Milk Street

Braised Chicken with Tomatoes, Mustard and Brandy

This dish may sound French, but the starting point for Milk Street was the Portuguese classic called frango na púcara, or chicken in a clay pot. For quick and easy weeknight cooking, boneless, skinless chicken thighs are used instead of bone-in parts. All gets cooked in one Dutch oven on the stovetop—always a plus when it comes to clean up.

Because our chicken thighs were of two different thicknesses, I had to remove the two smaller pieces to a platter, cover with foil, and let the thicker thighs cook a few minutes longer. And yes, you may have noticed from the ingredients photo below, I did increase the amount of garlic cloves.

Cherry tomatoes can be used in place of grape tomatoes, but they tend to be larger, so cut them in half before adding them to the pot. We used the variety pack of tomatoes that contained four different colors, adding to the overall color palette. Serve with warm, crusty bread, roasted potatoes, rice, or as in our case, farro.

Speaking of farro, the kind that’s most commonly found in the US and Europe is emmer wheat. It’s sold dry and prepared by cooking it in water until it’s soft and chewy. Before it’s cooked it looks similar to wheat berries, but afterward it looks similar to barley. It’s a small, light-brown grain with a noticeable outer layer of bran. Farro is loved for its nutty flavor and unique, chewy texture. It’s a great alternative to other popular grains, such as rice, quinoa, buckwheat and barley, among others.

Braised Chicken with Tomatoes, Mustard and Brandy

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and patted dry
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 6 medium garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 2 Tbsp. dijon mustard
  • ⅓ cup brandy
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes
  • ½ cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley 

Directions

  1. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. In a large Dutch oven over medium-high, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the onion and garlic, then cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the paprika and cook, stirring until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  2. Add the mustard and brandy, then cook, scraping up any browned bits, until slightly reduced, about 30 seconds.
  3. Stir in the tomatoes and broth, then nestle the chicken in the liquid. Bring to a simmer, reduce to medium-low, cover and cook for 10 minutes.
  4. Using tongs, flip the chicken and simmer, uncovered, until a skewer inserted into the chicken meets no resistance, another 5 to 8 minutes.
  5. Transfer the chicken to a serving dish and tent with foil. Bring the braising liquid to a simmer over medium-high and cook, stirring often, until thickened and the tomatoes have softened, 5 to 8 minutes.
  6. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Spoon the mixture over the chicken and sprinkle with the parsley.

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Adapted from a recipe for Milk Street

Hearty & Healthy: Farmhouse Vegetable and Barley Soup

You may know from experience, most recipes for hearty winter vegetable soups are neither quick nor easy. So for a satisfying soup that doesn’t take the better part of a day to make, start with homemade chicken stock which adds tons of flavor. (Use vegetable broth if maintaining a vegetarian diet.) Then add soy sauce and ground dried porcini mushrooms. These ingredients bring a savory, almost meaty flavor to the soup base. Next, to make the soup more filling, include barley to a hearty combination of carrots, potatoes, leeks, cabbage, and turnips.

Turnips you say? While I’ve never been a fan of turnips in and of themselves (I mean when was the last time you ever craved a turnip?) I don’t mind them as part of a mix of vegetables, like in this soup. But they certainly have a health profile worth checking out.

Here’s the lowdown: Turnips are loaded with fiber and vitamins K, A, C, E, B1, B3, B5, B6, B2 and folate, as well as minerals like manganese, potassium, magnesium, iron, calcium and copper. They are also a good source of phosphorus, omega-3 fatty acids and protein. So yes, I will include them in fits and spurts throughout my meal plans.

Another startling statistic is the benefits of barley. Barley’s high fiber content helps food move through your gut and promotes a good balance of gut bacteria, both of which play important roles in digestion. Due to its high fiber content, it makes a great alternative to white rice dishes such as pilaf or risotto. One half cup is packed with 17.3 grams of fiber and 12.5 grams of protein!

So bottom line, this soup is very good for you!

Farmhouse Vegetable and Barley Soup

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • ⅛ oz. dried porcini mushrooms
  • 8 sprigs fresh parsley plus 3 Tbsp. chopped
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 ½ lbs. leeks, white and light green parts sliced ½-inch thick and washed thoroughly
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 2 celery ribs, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • ⅓ cup dry white wine
  • 2 tsp. soy sauce
  • Salt and pepper
  • 6 cups water
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
  • ½ cup pearl barley
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed
  • 1 ½ pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 turnip, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 1 ½ cups chopped green cabbage
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice

Directions

  1. Grind porcini with spice grinder until they resemble fine meal, 10 to 30 seconds. Measure out 2 teaspoons porcini powder; reserve remainder for other use. Using kitchen twine, tie together parsley sprigs, thyme, and bay leaf.
  2. Melt butter in large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add leeks, carrots, celery, wine, soy sauce, and 2 teaspoons salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid has evaporated and celery is softened, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add water, broth, barley, porcini powder, herb bundle, and garlic; increase heat to high and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered, for 25 minutes.
  4. Add potatoes, turnip, and cabbage; return to simmer and cook until barley, potatoes, turnip, and cabbage are tender, 18 to 20 minutes.
  5. Remove pot from heat and remove herb bundle. Stir in peas, lemon juice, and chopped parsley; season with salt and pepper to taste.

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Recipe from Cook’s Illustrated

Mediterranean-Inspired One Pan Wonder

Treat yourself like company with this Mediterranean-inspired Spice-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Fennel, Tomatoes, Artichokes and Olives recipe. In less than an hour, this one pan wonder works well for a weeknight dinner. It’s a mash-up from America’s Test Kitchen and Molly Stevens cookbooks. The revised recipe noted below serves six, but we halved it for just the two of us.

Cooking the tenderloins until buttery-smooth is key, and roasting them atop a bed of vegetables buffers the heat to ensure juicy meat all the way through. Rather than searing the meat, it is rubbed with a spice mixture. The Mediterranean seasoning inspires the selection of vegetables: sweet, delicately flavored fennel, earthy artichoke hearts, and briny olives.

After softening the fennel in the microwave, toss it with the other vegetables and olive oil, and spread the mixture into the roasting pan, placing the tenderloins on top. The vegetables are nearly cooked when the pork was done, so remove the meat, add in juicy halved cherry tomatoes and orange zest, and let the vegetables finish in the oven while the meat rests.

Spice-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Fennel, Tomatoes, Artichokes and Olives

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • (12- to 16-oz.) pork tenderloins, trimmed
  • 1 Tbsp. grated orange zest, divided in 3
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin seed
  • 1/2 tsp. Aleppo pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 large fennel bulbs, stalks discarded, bulbs halved, cored, and cut into ½-inch-thick strips
  • 12 oz. frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and patted dry; or 6 oz. jarred packed in brine
  • ½ cup pitted kalamata olives, halved
  • 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 18 oz. cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley

Directions

  1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 450°. Pat pork dry with paper towels.
  2. In a small bowl, combine thyme, 2 teaspoons of the orange zest, cumin, pepper flakes, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and several grinds of black pepper. Combine thoroughly and rub all over both tenderloins.
  3. Combine fennel and 2 tablespoons water in bowl, cover, and microwave until softened, about 5 minutes; drain well. Toss drained fennel, artichokes, olives, and oil together in bowl and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Spread vegetables into 16 by 12-inch roasting pan and lay pork on top. Roast until pork registers 140 to 145 degrees, 25 to 30 minutes, turning tenderloins over halfway through roasting.
  5. Remove pan from oven. Transfer pork to cutting board, tent loosely with aluminum foil, and let rest for 10 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, stir cherry tomatoes and remaining teaspoon orange zest into vegetables and continue to roast until fennel is tender and tomatoes have softened, about 10 minutes more.
  7. Remove pan from oven. Stir parsley into roasted vegetables. Slice pork into ½-inch-thick slices and serve with vegetables.

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Red-Wine Braised Short Ribs with Rosemary and Porcini

A sense of satisfaction comes from the way the spice-infused red wine permeates the beefy ribs and provides a backdrop for the earthy porcini mushrooms and fresh piney taste of rosemary. Truly a cool weather, down-home meal if there ever was one.

Molly Stevens

Thanks to Molly Stevens, we obtained this Red-Wine Braised Short Ribs with Rosemary and Porcini recipe from her “All About Braising” cookbook.

A classic trio for braising beef—red wine, tomatoes and mushrooms—there’s no cut more suited to this treatment than beefy short ribs. No need to break the bank when choosing the wine, just look for a big red that can hold its own without too much tannin or bitterness, such as Shiraz, Zinfandel (which we used), or a Rhone blend.

DO AHEAD: Keep in mind that the ribs need to marinate for 12 to 24 hours, so you may want to do this step a day (or two) ahead of the planned dinner (or very early the morning of). In addition, the flavor of the short ribs improves if they are braised 1 to 2 days before you serve them. In this case, complete the recipe through Step 6, and after braising, let them cool to room temperature in their braising liquid. Once cool, transfer ribs and sauce to a glass container, cover tightly and refrigerate.

When ready to cook, scrape off almost all of the solidified fat from the surface. Arrange the ribs in a shallow baking dish, along with the sauce; discard spice pack. Cover with foil and bake in center of oven at 375° for 15 minutes. Remove foil, taste sauce for salt and pepper, and baste ribs with sauce. Place back in oven uncovered, to heat for another 10 minutes before serving.

BTW, beef short ribs should not be confused with back ribs or beef spareribs. These two cuts (one from the back and one from the belly) are what are referred to in the trade as “scalped” ribs, meaning nearly all of the meat has been stripped from the bone and there is very little left to eat—not exactly a hearty meal for company.

You’ll want a bed of creamy polenta or silken mashed potatoes over which to ladle the beef and sauce when ready. Our choice was a potato, celery root mash combo along with roasted carrots and cauliflower.

Red-Wine Braised Short Ribs with Rosemary and Porcini

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

MARINADE:

  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 tsp. allspice berries, coarsely crushed
  • 8-10 black peppercorns
  • 3-4 whole cloves
  • 2 Tbsp. evoo
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, coarsely chopped
  • 1 carrot, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed1 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 bottle dry robust red wine, such as Zinfandel or Shiraz
  • 3 1/2-4 lbs. meaty beef short ribs, thick fat trimmed away and silver skin

AROMATICS & BRAISING LIQUID:

  • 1/2 oz. dried poricni mushrooms
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 3 Tbsp. evoo
  • 1 large onion, julienned
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 14 1/2 oz. canned whole tomatoes, chopped and juice reserved or 1 lb plum tomatoes, peeled and chopped w/ juice
  • 2- 3-4″ sprigs fresh rosemary

Directions

  1. Marinade: place bay leaves, allspice, peppercorns and cloves wrapped up in a piece of cheesecloth; tie up.
  2. Sauté onion, celery, carrot and garlic; add wine and cheesecloth bundle. Bring to a boil and simmer 10 minutes; set aside to cool.
  3. Place ribs in a baking dish, season and pour over marinade. Cover and marinate 12-24 hours.
  4. Just before braising, soak mushrooms 20-30 minutes.
  5. Remove ribs from marinade and strain marinade into a bowl. Reserve liquid and cheesecloth bundle; discard vegetables. The ribs will have absorbed a lot of the marinade so you should have about 1 cup marinade.
  6. Make sure ribs are dry and season. Sear until deeply browned on all sides; remove to a plate.
  7. Preheat oven to 375°
  8. Drain mushrooms and squeeze dry; reserve liquid. Coarsely chop mushrooms and strain liquid through a coffee filter to catch any dirt or grit; reserve liquid.
  9. Sauté onions; add garlic, tomatoes with juice and mushrooms. Add mushroom and wine liquids and boil until reduce by half. (Since we had no liquid left at the end, we recommend not reducing this liquid.) Return short ribs to pot with any juices. Tuck spice bundle in between ribs and cover with parchment, pressing down.
  10. Cover with a lid and braise on lower rack of oven for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Turn every 40-45 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove lid and see if liquid is simmering too fast, if so turn down heat.
  11. Remove ribs from pot and discard spice bundle. Remove top layer of fat from liquid. Season remaining liquid. Spoon over ribs.
    NOTE: We had no liquid left in the pot, just fat and veggies. So we first spooned off as much fat as possible. Then we added a cup of warm water, scraped down the browned bits from the side, covered and let the mixture meld, with a few stirs in between.

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White Bean Gratin with Tomatoes and Sausage

Such a humble dish, but once you taste it, it rises to superstar status! Satisfying and economical, it uses a handful of ordinary ingredients. Once this Mediterranean-inspired dish is cooked up, you can’t get enough of it—and with every bite, it seems to get better.

We have been avid fans of chef/author Molly Stevens for decades, and this recipe came from our most recent cookbook addition “All About Dinner” which was released in 2019. It was gifted this past Christmas to The Hubs from one of the adult children, along with three other cookbooks—yes, we are a bit obsessed.

Our original plan was to soak dried white beans overnight. But the morning of, we realized we forgot to do that and therefore just used canned cannellinis which have a silky texture and nutty flavor. Opting for canned saves a step and some time, but if you prefer to soak beans by all means go ahead.

Our topping was not browning in the oven, so we put the gratin under the broiler. If you do the same, keep a close eyeball on it, because it browns very quickly under the intense heat. The next time we make this (which I hope is soon), we plan to drizzle olive oil with the bread crumbs and grated cheese before topping the gratin with it. This should help the browning process.

Do Ahead: The gratin can be prepared through Step 4 up to 2 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Bake for an additional 20 minutes or so before serving.

White Bean Gratin with Tomatoes and Sausage

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • About ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 oz. fresh sweet Italian sausage, casings removed if using links
  • 1 medium yellow onion (about 7 oz.), coarsely chopped
  • Salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1½ tsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • Pinch of mellow red pepper flakes, such as Aleppo, or crushed red pepper flakes
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 15-oz. cans white beans, rinsed and drained
  • One 14½-oz. can diced or crushed tomatoes
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • ¼ cup fresh bread crumbs or panko crumbs
  • 2 oz. Parmesan, finely grated (about 1 cup)
  • Hot sauce such as Cholula or Tabasco for serving, optional

Directions

  • Heat the oven  to 350°F with a rack in the upper third. Lightly oil a medium gratin dish, shallow baking dish, or ovenproof skillet.
  • Heat 2 teaspoons of the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage and use a spoon or metal spatula to flatten it into large chunks. (You get better browning on large flat chunks than crumbles.) Then cook, flipping it occasionally, until browned and cooked through, 7 to 10 minutes. Break the sausage into bite-size pieces and transfer it to a large bowl and cover to keep warm, leaving the fat and drippings behind in the pan.
  • Return the skillet to medium heat, add the onion, season with a pinch of salt, and cook until softened and lightly colored, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, rosemary, red pepper flakes, and a few good grinds of black pepper and cook, stirring, until just fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer the aromatics to the bowl with the sausage.
  • Add the beans, tomatoes, with their juice, and parsley to the bowl with the other ingredients. Stir gently to combine without smashing the beans, then add a generous pour of olive oil (about 2 tablespoons), and season boldly with salt and pepper. Taste, being sure to taste both the aromatics and a bean, and correct the seasoning as needed. Pour the mixture into the prepared gratin dish and use the back of a spoon to spread into an even layer.
  • Sprinkle the top of the beans with the bread crumbs and cheese. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Bake, uncovered, until heated through and beginning to brown on top, 30 to 40 minutes. If the top is not as brown and crisp looking as you like, slide the gratin under the broiler for a few minutes before serving.

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Recipe from All About Dinner by Molly Stevens