Monthly Archives: January 2015

Tortuga’s Cocina


Reported to be the number 1 Mexican restaurant in the Lambertville, NJ / New Hope, PA area, Tortuga’s Cocina offers an expansive menu of authentic and gourmet Mexican dishes, all of which are freshly prepared, and include a number of vegetarian and vegan friendly options in addition to their extensive menu.

Read more about it under the Neighborhood Joints tab…

Rainbow Chard-Potato Frittata

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This versatile recipe is appropriate for just about any meal. Adding potatoes to a frittata makes it filling enough for dinner, especially if paired with a green salad. The frittata also makes a great appetizer and is tasty at room temperature. Also fabulous as part of a Sunday brunch.

Having it set completely in the oven – instead of partially on the stovetop – ensures that it cooks evenly and doesn’t burn under the broiler.

Even though Russ went food shopping earlier in the day, he neglected to get more eggs, so instead of 10, we only had 8 eggs (neither one of us felt like schlepping back out into the cold rainy night for more.) Plus the amount of potato was supposed to be one-pound, but ours was only 3/4-pound. In the end, it didn’t make much of a difference.

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  • 6 oz. rainbow chard
  • 2 Tbs. canola oil
  • 1/2 tsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 lb. Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and grated (about 3 cups)
  • 1/2 medium sweet onion, finely chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 medium clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 10 large eggs
  • 6 oz. grated aged Gouda (about 2 cups)


  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F. Separate the chard stems from the leaves and slice each 1/4 inch thick.
  2. Heat the oil in a 12-inch oven-safe nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the rosemary and cook, stirring, until aromatic, about 10 seconds. Add the chard stems, potatoes, onion, 3/4 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper and cook, stirring only occasionally, until browned in spots, about 7 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the garlic and red pepper flakes, and spread evenly in the skillet.
  3. Lightly beat the eggs in a medium bowl. Mix in the chard leaves and cheese, and evenly pour over the potatoes. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake until the frittata is set, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving.
by Ronne Day from Fine Cooking
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You can play with the basic recipe, substituting other ingredient combos for the chard, rosemary, and cheese. Try one of these or create your own. We’re eye-balling the spinach and goat cheese variation.

  • Spinach, chorizo, and goat cheese
  • Green beans, basil (add it with the eggs), and mozzarella
  • Artichoke hearts, thyme, and pecorino

Goat-Cheese-and-Olive-Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Balsamic-Butter Pan Sauce


Here, chicken breasts are stuffed and then seared until golden-brown. Several reviewers mentioned they used feta cheese instead of goat cheese; and another person said they didn’t like olives so they substituted spinach with great results. We had all of the necessary ingredients so we stuck to the original recipe—and loved it! Our accompaniment was garlicky sautéed spinach.

As far as the pan sauce, I don’t know why they have you prepare it in a separate skillet. The beauty of a pan sauce is incorporating the browned bits from the pan that you seared the meat in. Simply remove the chicken breasts to a plate, discard any fat in the skillet and set over low heat. Then proceed with the next step.

by Dina Cheney from Fine Cooking


  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 1-1/2 lb. total)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 oz. fresh goat cheese
  • 2 Tbs. coarsely chopped pitted Kalamata olives
  • 2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest (from 1 large lemon)
  • 1-1/2 tsp. minced fresh rosemary
  • 2-1/4 oz. (1/2 cup) all-purpose flour
  • 3 oz. (6 Tbs.) unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces
  • 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 Tbs. minced shallots
  • 1-1/2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbs. lower-salt chicken broth
I found it easier to “sew” the breasts with small metal skewers as opposed to toothpicks.
Pan frying the second side of stuffed breasts.
  1. With a boning knife, cut a wide pocket into the thickest part of each chicken breast half, taking care not to cut all the way through. Season the chicken evenly on both sides with 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper total.
  2. In a small bowl, mix the cheese, olives, and 1 tsp. each lemon zest and rosemary. Stuff the pockets with the cheese mixture and pin each shut with two toothpicks. Spread the flour in a shallow bowl and dredge the chicken in the flour, shaking off the excess.
  3. Heat 1 Tbs. of the butter and the oil in a 12-inch heavy-duty skillet over medium-high heat until the foam from the butter subsides. Add the chicken and cook, flipping once and adding another 1 Tbs. of butter halfway through cooking, until golden-brown and cooked through (reduce the heat to medium if necessary), 14 to 16 minutes total. Transfer to plates and remove the toothpicks.
  4. While the chicken cooks, melt 1 Tbs. of the butter in an 8-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the vinegar and boil until syrupy, about 3 minutes. Add the broth and boil for 1 minute more. (See our note above about making the pan sauce in the same skillet as the chicken.)
  5. Off the heat, whisk in the remaining 3 Tbs. butter, 1 tsp. zest, and 1/2 tsp. rosemary. Serve the chicken drizzled with the sauce.

The inside yummy stuffing comes oozing out as you slice into the breast. 

House of Pho

Traditional Vietnamese flavorings (including cilantro, mint, Thai basil, star anise, and red chili) have long been used as alternative remedies for all sorts of ailments, and cilantro and anise have actually been shown to aid digestion and fight disease-causing inflammation.

Mi Vit Tiem3

We recently enjoyed aspects of the ethnic cuisine at The House of Pho. Check out the blog under the Neighborhood Joints tab…

Browned Cauliflower with Anchovies, Olives and Capers


Anchovies and cauliflower are a sublime pairing, and this fabulous combination makes cauliflower the star of the meal. While Russ adores anchovies in their whole form, I can’t get past the little hairy critters, but I love the taste of them when finely chopped up and mixed into a recipe. Originally, six whole filets seemed a bit much, but in the end, we got a delicious suggestion of anchovy, not an overpowering punch. This is one of those dishes that improves greatly if allowed to sit for several hours before eating. Serve at room temperature or warm it gently on the stove or in the oven.


  • 1 medium-small head cauliflower (about 2 lb.)
  • 1 large clove garlic, peeled
  • Pinch coarse sea salt or kosher salt
  • 6 oil-packed anchovy filets, drained
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 15 black olives (such as Kalamata or niçoise), pitted and roughly chopped
  • 1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice; more to taste
  • 2 tsp. capers, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
  • Large pinch of crushed red pepper flakes or 1/8 tsp. Aleppo pepper
  1. Trim the leaves and stem from the cauliflower head. Working from the bottom of the head, cut off individual florets until you reach the crown, where the florets are small and fused together. Cut the large florets into quarters, the medium ones into halves, and the crown into four pieces, always trying to keep the top of the florets attached to pieces of stem.
  2. In a mortar, crush the garlic and the salt with a pestle until you obtain a paste. Add the anchovies and pound them to a paste as well. (If you don’t have a mortar, you can mince the garlic, salt, and anchovies very finely and then mash them with the flat side of the knife until they become a paste.) Scrape this mixture into a large shallow bowl. Add 1 Tbs. of the oil, the olives, lemon juice, capers, lemon zest, and red pepper flakes. Stir well.
  3. Heat 2 Tbs. of the olive oil in a heavy 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add half the cauliflower pieces in a single layer, flat side down. Cook the cauliflower until well browned on the bottom, 2 to 4 minutes, and then transfer to a plate. Add the remaining 1 Tbs. oil to the pan and repeat with the remaining cauliflower, but don’t transfer it to the plate. Return the first batch of cauliflower to the pan, turn the heat down to low and carefully add 2/3 cup water. Cover and let steam until the stems are just tender, 6 to 8 minutes.
  4. With a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked cauliflower to the bowl with the anchovy mixture. Add 1 Tbs. of the cooking liquid. Let sit 1 minute to warm and loosen the mixture, and then turn gently to coat the cauliflower and evenly distribute the olives and capers. Serve warm or at room temperature.

by Ruth Lively from Fine Cooking

Mmm, Mmm Good!

Pork Chops with Green Chilies and Onions


Generally speaking, we like our meat and poultry to be bone-in. There are a couple of reasons: First, it slows down the meat’s cooking, so it gives you a little more leeway to get a good, crispy sear on your chop. Second, the bone gives the meat a richer flavor. Check out this fabulous recipe under the “Braising Bonanza” tab…

Carlucci’s Italian Grill


While the “digs” are nothing fancy, the home cooked food was more than passable (for most of us.) It is a BYO with a rather extensive menu that includes Classic Entrees, Favorite Selections, Italian Classics, Pasta Selections, and wood fired pizza; including gluten-free offerings… Get the details under the “Dining with Friends” tab.

Lemon-Ginger Poached Halibut with Leeks and Spinach

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Here’s another fabulous “Meatless Monday” recipe. This light, Asian-inflected main course is great served over cooked soba noodles to soak up some of the extra broth.

Just a word to the wise: when we went food shopping and stopped at McCaffrey’s seafood counter, we were shocked to see that halibut was $24.99 a lb! And the few measely pieces on display looked pretty sad, so we said “TaHellWithIt” to the halibut and got cod instead (two 8-oz. fillets), at half that price. Since when did halibut start costing more than lobster and Alaskan king crab legs??

I was hesitant about incorporating the mint, but after reading several reviews raving about the benefits of using it, I went with it — and glad I did. This easy dish is subtly delicate in flavor, and while I tend toward bold, spicy flavors, this was very good! Next time (yes, we’ll definitely make it again), we’ll probably swap out the chicken broth for either vegetable or fish broth to make it truly meatless. And I might even change some of the other ingredients to use lemongrass and fresh basil.

by Jessica Bard from Fine Cooking

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  • 2 tsp. finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp. finely grated garlic
  • Finely grated zest and the juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 Tbs. plus 1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Four 1-inch-thick skinless halibut fillets, 6 to 8 oz. each
  • 2 medium leeks, white and light-green parts only, halved lengthwise, rinsed well, and thinly sliced
  • 3 cups lower-salt chicken broth or vegetable broth; more as needed
  • 4 cups lightly packed spinach leaves, rinsed and roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh mint
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions
  1. In a small bowl, mix the ginger, garlic, lemon zest, 1 tsp. of the olive oil, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper. Pat the mixture evenly all over one side of the fish.
  2. In a 10-inch straight-sided sauté pan, heat the remaining 2 Tbs. oil over medium heat. Add the leeks and sauté, stirring constantly, until softened, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the broth and 1 Tbs. of the lemon juice. Cover and bring to a simmer over high heat. Arrange the fish lemon-ginger side up in a single layer on top of the leeks. If necessary, add more broth until the fillets are almost but not completely submerged.
  4. Cover and turn the heat to low. Gently simmer until the fish is just cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes. With a slotted spatula, transfer the fish to 4 shallow bowls.
  5. Add the spinach, mint, and scallions to the broth and stir until slightly wilted, about 1 minute. Season to taste with more lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Ladle the vegetables and broth around the fish and serve.

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Seared Shrimp with Pimentón and Sherry

by Sarah Jay from Fine Cooking

This dish is an excellent variation on the classic Garlic Shrimp tapa. We made it as an appetizer for company to nosh on during cocktail hour before we went out to eat — just make sure to serve with baguette slices to sop up the sauce. And if you’re luck enough to have any garlicky oil left over, toss it with pasta later in the week. Four of us ate the entire plateful, but did have leftover oil…



  • 1-1/2 lb. large (31 to 40 count) shrimp, peeled and deveined, patted dry with paper towels
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil (use your very best)
  • 6 medium cloves garlic, very thinly sliced
  • Heaping 1/4 tsp. sweet pimentón (or paprika)
  • Heaping 1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3 Tbs. fino sherry
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons thinly sliced chives
  • Fresh lemon juice to taste
Russ searing the shrimp in our cazuela.
  1. Sprinkle the shrimp with 3/4 tsp. kosher salt, toss, and let sit for 10 minutes (or refrigerate for up to 1 hour).
  2. In a large (12-inch) skillet, heat the olive oil on high heat. Pat the shrimp dry with paper towels and add them to the skillet. Sprinkle with 3/4 tsp. kosher salt and sear until they’re pink and a little golden on one side, about 1 minute.
  3. Sprinkle the garlic, pimentón, and red pepper flakes over the shrimp, and sauté, stirring, until the shrimp are almost completely pink, about 1 minute.
  4. Add the sherry and cook, stirring to deglaze the bottom of the pan, until the shrimp are pink all over (the sherry will evaporate quickly but you should still have some juices in the pan)
  5. Remove from the heat. Toss with the lemon zest and chives. Pour the shrimp and juices into a serving dish, squeeze on lemon juice to taste, and serve.


Mustard-and-Herb-Butter-Rubbed Prime Rib

A butter, Dijon, rosemary, and thyme crust hugs this juicy roast. The genius “reverse-sear” method lets you roast the meat hours ahead of the final sear, so you can pull the rest of the meal together without worrying about when the meat will be done. Plus, you can do the final sear either in the oven or on the stovetop, depending on what’s going on with the rest of the menu. Finish each slice with a pat of the same savory butter that coats the roast.

This is truly a special occasion meal, and why we planned it for Christmas Day.


by Lynne Curry from Fine Cooking

  • 4 oz. (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 6 medium cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh sage leaves
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 5- to 6-lb. boneless beef rib roast, patted dry
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil, if needed for searing

Russ included a powder of dried porcini mushrooms that he ground up in a food processor for an added touch in the rub.
Making the herb butter rub in a food processor.

Smearing the herb butter over the raw roast.

Herb butter roll for topping meat slices.

Roasted brussels sprouts, parsnips and garlic.

For our sides we roasted brussels sprouts, parsnip pieces, and garlic cloves coated in shallot olive oil, and sprinkled with fresh thyme, salt and pepper. Originally meant to have twice-baked potatoes in the skins, I mistakenly peeled most of them before I realized what I had done (my brain was on vacation too), so I switched gears and made twice-baked in a casserole dish as opposed to in the potato shells.

Twice-baked potatoes in casserole dish.


Make the butter

Melt the butter in an 8-inch skillet over medium heat. Let it foam until it turns light brown and smells nutty, about 5 minutes. Immediately pour the butter into a small heatproof bowl, leaving most of the milk solids in the bottom of the skillet. Refrigerate the butter until solid, about 1 hour.

Purée the garlic, rosemary, sage, thyme, mustard, Worcestershire, 1-1/2 tsp. salt, and 1 tsp. pepper with the solidified browned butter in a food processor to make a thick paste. Reserve 1/4 cup of the butter and rub the rest all over the roast. Put the roast fat side up on a rack set in a roasting pan and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour before roasting.

Christmas Day tablescape.

Roast the beef

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 300°F. Roast the beef until an instant-read thermometer registers 110°F for rare, about 1-1/2 hours, or 115°F for medium rare, about 10 minutes more. Remove the roast from the oven. Let sit, tented loosely with foil, for up to 2 hours (or continue with the recipe).

Sear the beef

To sear in the oven: Heat the oven to 475°F. Roast until 125°F for rare or 130°F for medium rare, about 10 minutes.

Or, to sear on the stove: Heat the oil in a heavy 12-inch skillet until shimmering hot. Sear the beef, turning and pressing down with tongs, until browned all over and cooked to desired temperature, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a cutting board. If there was no earlier rest between roasting and searing, let the roast rest for 15 to 20 minutes. Slice and serve with the reserved mustard butter.

Make Ahead Tips

The beef can be roasted and then sit at room temperature, tented with foil, for up to 2 hours before the final sear.

chartreuse.bottle chartreuse

What a perfectly elegant Christmas meal, which we followed up with a shot of Chartreuse. A lovely bright green French liqueur made by the Carthusian Monks since 1737. It is composed of distilled alcohol aged with 130 herbs, plants and flowers. A wonderful way to toast the season!