Monthly Archives: June 2017

Grilled Flap Steak and Asparagus with Béarnaise Butter

Flap steak, with the unflatteringly named cut, is similar to skirt and flank in that it comes from the less tender regions of the animal. It is ideal for marinating and needs to be cooked quickly on high heat to medium rare. Often cheaper than more popular cuts, this little underdog of the beef world has a wonderful meaty flavor and fine texture when prepared carefully.

Flap meat is a great choice for Mexican grilled meats, bistro steaks and stir-fries — some Asian meat markets simply call it “stir-fry meat.” And if you can’t find it, other long-fibered cuts such as flank or skirt steak are also lovely in recipes, though cooking times will have to be adjusted.

In the past, we have tried to find flap steak for certain recipes but failed to do so until we came across it at Costco. When grilled right, they’re tender, juicy, take on marinades extremely well, and have a robust beefy flavor that a lot of other cuts lack. That and they’re cheap, as mentioned earlier.

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It’s one of the most versatile of all the inexpensive cuts of beef. It takes great to fast-cooking methods like grilling or searing; is excellent cooked whole and sliced into thin strips; and it can’t be beat cubed and put on skewers. It has a coarse texture that grabs onto marinades and seasonings. It’s even great as a slow-cooked braise, where if comes apart into tender shreds.

Our package of flap meat came in strips that were thicker at one end, so we cut them into sections. This way the thinner portions were tossed on the grill after the thicker pieces so that they wouldn’t get overdone—a definite no-no in our book. Weighing in at 2-pounds, our steak was larger than called for, so I increased the compound butter ingredients just to be safe.

In this simple, yet elegant Grilled Flap Steak and Asparagus with Béarnaise Butter recipe, a compound butter packed with tarragon and shallot mimics the flavors of béarnaise sauce with much less effort. (If you have any left over, which we did, try it on salmon or rice.)

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Ingredients

  • 2 large sprigs fresh tarragon
  • 2 oz. (4 Tbs.) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 Tbs. minced shallot
  • 1 Tbs. dry white wine or vermouth
  • 1 Tbs. white wine vinegar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1-1/2 lb. beef flap meat, cut into pieces of even thickness, if necessary
  • 1 bunch asparagus, preferably thick, trimmed
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil

Directions

  • Strip the tarragon leaves from the stems, finely chop the leaves to yield about 2 tsp., and set aside.
  • In an 8-inch skillet, melt 1 Tbs. of the butter over medium-low heat. Add the shallot and tarragon stems, and cook, stirring frequently, until the shallot is translucent, about 2 minutes.
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  • Add the wine, vinegar, and 1 Tbs. water, increase the heat to medium, and cook until the liquid is mostly evaporated, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl, remove and discard the tarragon stems, and let cool completely.
  • Add the remaining 3 Tbs. butter, the chopped tarragon, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1/8 tsp. pepper, and mix with a fork until well combined. Set aside until ready to use.
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  • Prepare a medium-high (400°F to 475°F) gas or charcoal grill fire. Put the meat and asparagus on separate sides of a large rimmed baking sheet (or similar). Coat with the olive oil, and season generously with salt and pepper.
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  • Grill the meat, turning every 2 minutes, until cooked to your liking, 6 to 8 minutes for medium (140°F). Transfer to a cutting board, cover loosely with foil, and let rest.
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  • Meanwhile, grill the asparagus, turning after 1 minute, until charred and tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter.
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  • Thinly slice the meat against the grain, arrange on the platter with the asparagus, top both with dollops of the butter, and serve.

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By Jennifer Armentrout from Fine Cooking

 

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Café con Leche

A highly-rated, cozy BYO, Café con Leche serves a fusion of American with South-American and Mediterranean inspired cuisine, and is conveniently located in the heart of Newtown, PA. Daniel and Silvia Lucci have owned the cafe since 1997. Daniel, a craftsman of the cuisine, creates the most incredible dishes, utilizing the freshest and healthiest ingredients.

The name, Café con Leche (coffee with milk in Spanish), refers to the Puerto Rican tradition of serving coffee to household guests. A gesture of friendship, hospitality and community.

It had been many years, too many in fact, since we patronized Café con Leche. Back in the late-90’s, I frequented CCL with friends Brad and Barb, but my first visit with Mr. Russ was around the year 2000—about a year after we started dating—and we’ve been back only a few times since. Why? I have no earthly idea because it is a fabulous quaint little restaurant with incredible food!

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The door on the left leads you down to the restaurant; and the side alleyway brings you out onto State Street.

It’s in the basement of a building with offices above. You enter into a nicely appointed but narrow room with lots of windows and tables against the wall. Then, before proceeding into the regular dining area, you pass the tiny hostess and cashier section. The one disappointment of the night was that the grotto-like main eating space was as drab as I remembered it, with unappealing brown walls, exposed vents and pipes, and dated patterned oilcloths. A little could go a long way in sprucing the place up—just sayin’…

But back to the highlights. A healthy vegan menu entitled “Green Tea” was added in 2013 that offers a large and varied selection of 100% plant-based food menu. And as if that is not enough, CCL gives you even more options with their “Daily Specials” menu highlighting seven additional entrees and four more vegan choices.

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While our bottle of wine was being opened, we decided to split the Grilled Portabella Mushrooms with roasted red peppers, fresh mozzarella, and balsamico as our starter. They were delicious, and a good omen of things to come.

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For our entrées, we both were enticed by the “Daily Specials Menu” with Russ selecting a favorite of his, the Carnitas, barbequed pulled pork with Mexican rice, corn tortillas, and homemade guacamole—which was actually almost as good as mine. It was definitely a healthy portion of pork of which I tasted a small bite, and it was indeed phenomenal!

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The Grilled Wild Alaskan Cod was calling my name which came plated with a pronounced dollop of avocado salsa, and was served with a ginger carrot purée that was insanely flavorful and creamy, and a side of perfectly sautéed vegetables brimming with color.

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If you can overlook the dated decor, you’ll find a pleasant and knowledgeable waitstaff, fabulous food, and good service. We will definitely be back, and this time it won’t be years before we do so!

Island Time

Aloha fellow foodies! You will be dancing a hula over my riff on Hawaiian Garlic Shrimp inspired by the garlic shrimp served from food trucks along Oahu’s North Shore. This savory shrimp dish, found in Fine Cooking by Dabney Gough, is traditionally paired with “two scoops rice,” as they say on the island. But I had other plans…

The recipe sounded appealing and was based on a classic foundation of shrimp, garlic and butter, but was a bit one-dimensional and lacked some pizzaz. So I started thinking of how I could embellish the dish with more color and vegetables. In other words, create a colorful, edible, work of art.

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And what’s more Hawaiian than pineapple? It adds a slight sweet note, a pop of bright yellow, and an added texture. In another burst of ingenuity, I decided to incorporate a large ripe tomato and the remainder of a jar of some gorgeous orange-colored peppadew peppers, which are thin-skinned. (As a substitute, you could also use an orange bell pepper but it would need to be cooked down a bit.) With sliced scallion greens (leftover from the rice pilaf) as garnish, the meal now sang with color and taste!

Admittedly, Russ was hesitant of my new creation, but once he dug in, he was duly impressed. Use your own creativity and customize the ingredients to suit your personal preferences.

Our simple side dish of Lemony Scallion Rice Pilaf was a perfect accompaniment for the Hawaiian shrimp concoction. It’s a bit more involved than simply steaming rice, but it is so worth it. If short on time, it’s not a crime however to ladle the shrimp over plain rice.

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Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour (we used gluten-free)
  • 2 tsp. sweet paprika
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 lb. extra-jumbo shrimp (16 to 20 per lb.), peeled, deveined, and patted dry
  • 1/2 cup peppadew peppers, cut  into 1/2″ pieces
  • 1 large ripe tomato, cored, seeded and cut into 1/2″ chunks
  • 1 cup fresh pineapple, cut into 1/2″ large dice
  • 3 Tbs. grapeseed or canola oil
  • 8 large cloves garlic, coarsely chopped (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1/2 cup sake or dry white wine
  • 4 Tbs. cold unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice (or more to taste)

IMG_2585Make sure to prep everything to the right size before starting to cook.

Directions

  • In a shallow bowl, combine the flour, paprika, and 1-1/2 tsp. salt. Lightly dredge the shrimp in the mixture, shaking off the excess; set aside.
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  • Heat a heavy-duty 12-inch skillet over medium-low heat. Add the oil, garlic, and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring, until the garlic is tender, about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove and reserve the garlic, leaving the oil in the pan.
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  • Turn the heat up to medium high and add the shrimp in a single layer. Cook undisturbed for 2 minutes, then flip and cook until nearly opaque in the center, 1 to 2 minutes more.
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  • Add the sake and 1/2 tsp. salt and cook, flipping the shrimp once, until the liquid is reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Add the butter and the reserved garlic, and cook, swirling the pan, until the sauce is emulsified.
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  • Remove from the heat. Meanwhile, microwave pepper, tomato, and pineapple chunks on high for one minute. Stir into pan with shrimp, cover and let sit for about 60 seconds to meld the flavors.
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  • Add the cilantro and lemon juice, and toss to combine. Season to taste with salt and serve over lemony rice pilaf.
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Lemony Rice Pilaf with Scallions

Ingredients

  • 3 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 12 scallions, thinly sliced, whites kept separate from greens
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup jasmine rice
  • 1-3/4 cups lower-salt chicken broth, preferably homemade
  • 1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
  • 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice

Directions

  • Melt the butter in a 3- to 4-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the scallion whites, 1/4 tsp. salt, and a few grinds of pepper and cook, stirring often, until tender but not browned, about 5 minutes.
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  • Add the wine and simmer to reduce by half, about 2-3 minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring often, until it begins to crackle, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the broth, lemon zest, and 1 tsp. salt; bring to a boil. Cover and turn the heat down to low. Cook until the rice is tender and the liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes.
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  • Remove from the heat and let sit, covered, for 5 minutes. Fluff the scallion greens and lemon juice into the rice with a fork and serve.

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Almost makes one want to don a hula skirt and toss on a lei…

 

Salmon a la Samuelsson

A long-time fan of Food Network, I often catch award-winning Chef Marcus Samuelsson as guest or judge on different shows such as The Taste and Chopped, where he was the winner of the second season of Chopped All-Stars. The Ethiopian-born Swede graduated from the Culinary Institute in Gothenburg, Sweden, and apprenticed in Switzerland, Austria, and France—impressive!

On top of owning many restaurants, Marcus is also an author of several cookbooks, so when I found his Grilled Salmon with Aleppo-Honey Glaze, Turnips, and Kale recipe in our latest issue of Bon Appetit, I just had to give it a whirl. Here, zesty ginger-spiked vegetables are the perfect foil to this richly glazed fish. With all of these bold flavors, this is not a dish for the delicate palette, nor for the typical meat-and-potatoes guy.

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Now there are undoubtedly some ingredients that you won’t have in stock in your home pantry, or have ever even heard of. But that’s the beauty of enhancing your culinary repertoire—trying new things. So broaden your kitchen skills and take a stab at this tasty and healthy meal.

One item I was not familiar with, but that Russ has actually made in the past is dashi broth, an incredibly simple broth that forms one of the culinary cornerstones of Japanese cooking. It’s made in about 10 minutes with just three ingredients: water, kombu (dried kelp), and bonito fish flakes, which we had an unopened package of in the cupboard.

OK, I can hear you already, “yeah, right,” but trust me it is very simple. You can use dashi to make a fantastic bowl of miso soup (which is what Russ use to do), to poach fish or vegetables, or to add savory umami flavor to any number of Japanese dishes. You can also keep the dashi refrigerated for up to a week or frozen for up to three months. We had some leftover and will use it to make a stir-fry sauce for the following week.

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As far as the other ingredients, we had black bean sauce on hand, but decided to pick up black bean paste at our local Asian market as we bought the kombu. Never having heard of “Sweety Drops,” we easily purchased it’s substitute peppadew peppers (shown above) at the regular supermarket. Pretty much everything else—including toban djan—we had in stock or handily found at the local grocery store.

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But just minutes before we were going to light the grill, Mother Nature put a kabash to our grilling plans with a torrential downpour, so we went to Plan B, which was pan-fry the fillets. Start with skin side up, then flip after about 10 minutes.

After a few minutes on the other side, start checking your salmon with a thermometer because at 110 to 125°F your salmon is medium rare; at 125°F to 140° you are beginning to enter medium to well-done territory—flakiness will increase, and a chalky texture will start to develop. So your goal is really to keep as much of the salmon below the 140°F temperature range (and preferably closer to the 125° range) as possible.

After boiling and marinating the thinly sliced turnips in essentially a LOT of mirin and ginger in the dashi, the end result produced sweet and gingery turnips that complimented well with the bitter kale and salty bacon bits. And that intensely rich sauce won our hearts. We were thrilled there were leftovers for another purpose. Unusual mix of ingredients, yes, but a meal we give two thumbs up! May have to check out more recipes from Marcus…

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Ingredients

For the Aleppo-honey glaze

  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3 Tbs. black bean paste or sauce
  • 2 Tbs. Aleppo pepper, or 1 tbs. each crushed red pepper flakes and sweet paprika
  • 1-1/2 Tbs. toban djan or other chili paste
  • 3/4 cup Sweety Drops or coarsely chopped sweet peppadew peppers
  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar

For the turnips and ginger

  • 2-1/2 cups dashi broth
  • 1-1/4 cups mirin
  • 3/4 lb. turnips, peeled and thinly sliced, preferably on a mandoline
  • 8 oz. peeled fresh ginger, cut into 1-inch pieces

For the salmon and kale

  • 4 6-oz. skinless center-cut salmon fillets
  • 1-1/2 Tbs. olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 oz. dinosaur kale, stems removed and leaves thinly sliced crosswise
  • 2 slices bacon (about 2 oz.), cooked and chopped
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced, for garnish

Preparation

Make the glaze

  • In a medium bowl, combine the honey, bean paste, Aleppo pepper, and toban djan. Purée the peppers and rice vinegar in a blender, and whisk into the honey mixture.
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Cook the turnips and ginger

  • Bring the dashi and mirin to a simmer in a large pot over medium heat. Add the turnips and ginger, and cook until the turnips are tender, about 7 minutes. Remove from the heat, and let cool in the broth, about 15 minutes. Remove and discard the ginger. Strain the turnips from the liquid and reserve for some future use.
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Grill the salmon and cook the kale

  • Prepare a medium (350°F to 375°F) gas or charcoal grill fire. Brush the salmon lightly on both sides with 1/2 Tbs. of the oil and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Grill the fish, flipping once, until medium rare (125°F). Remove from the grill and brush each fillet with 1 tsp. of the glaze. Reserving any remaining glaze.
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  • Heat the remaining oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the kale and cook, tossing until just wilted, about 2 minutes. Add the turnips and bacon, toss to combine, and season with salt and pepper.
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  • To serve, divide the vegetables among four plates. Top with the grilled fish, and sprinkle with the scallions. Pass the remaining glaze at the table.

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Update: With a good portion of the sauce leftover, a week later we used it on some grilled tuna steaks.

Whould’a Thunk?

Ginger, in an Italian pasta dish?? Though a cream sauce doesn’t sound like hot-weather fare, a burst of basil and a hit of fresh ginger brighten the light and silky sauce, and beautifully so. Initially skeptical of a cream sauce, the amount used is minimal, to the point that when the dish is plated, you don’t even notice any. But in combination, the concert of flavors all dance to together in perfect harmony.

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Six ounces of pasta just didn’t seem like enough for two entrée servings, so I increased all of the ingredients by 50% (or more) as indicated in the list below. Yet we did have some leftovers, enough for one lunch the following day—which was a pleasant bonus.

If using fresh pasta, it is very tender so don’t drain it in a colander. Instead, transfer it directly to the sauce. With gluten-free fettuccine in stock, we just used that instead of buying, or making fresh. Topped off with buttery pine nuts for a light crunch, the meal was satisfying on so many flavor levels. Adjust the ingredient quantities to your own personal preference. Next time I plan on increasing the quota of sun-dried tomatoes and fresh basil.

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Ingredients

  • Kosher salt
  • 3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2-1/2 Tbs. pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped shallot
  • 1 Tbs. minced fresh ginger
  • 4 1/2 Tbs. dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup lower-salt chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 3 Tbs. finely chopped oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 9 oz. fettuccine, fresh if possible
  • 3/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano (1/4 oz.)

Directions

  • Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil.
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  • Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the pine nuts and cook, stirring, until golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a paper-towel-lined plate.
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  • Add the shallot and ginger to the skillet and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
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  • Add the wine and cook, stirring, until almost evaporated. Stir in the broth, cream, and tomatoes, increase the heat to medium high, and cook until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Season generously with salt and pepper.
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  • Cook the pasta until al dente, according to package directions. Drain, or if cooking fresh pasta, use tongs or a skimmer to transfer the pasta from the pot to the skillet. Add the basil and cheese, and toss. Top with the pine nuts and serve.

IMG_2347Recipe by Laraine Perri

Rain, Rain Go Away

The Spring weather had been testing our resolve for months. First the cold, then the super-hot, then cold again and finally a rain event or three, every single weekend. Our latest “outdoor” party wasn’t going to get a break either. In fact, Mother Nature was playing with us all day long with on-and-off showers and little bits of sun as a tease—while it was raining! Then two hours prior to company’s arrival, it starting pouring in earnest and the assault continued for hours… So much for patio-cruising…

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The ladies line up and couch-cruise; from left, Paula, Kim, Lynn and Jo.

Joining us for the evening were friends Paula and Mike Graham, and his very spry 92-year-old mother Jo, in for a visit from Seattle. Rounding out the party were Kim and Jeff (who we met through Paula and Mike nine months prior at the Graham’s daughter Kelsey’s wedding.)

As much as everyone wanted to get comfy on the patio furniture, we made the best of the situation and hunkered down indoors enjoying some tasty apps, sipping wine and laughing hysterically over our collective way of saying certain things. With Kim, a transplanted southern peach from South Carolina, Jeff hailing from Canada, me from Michigan, Jo and Mike from Seattle and Russ and Paula from the “Picksburgh area” there was quite a comical disparity in the way we labeled or said certain words.

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Kim and Jeff brought a delightful Carolina Citrus Pickled Shrimp appetizer packed with at least two pounds of plump pickled shrimp. We were the lucky recipients of the leftovers.

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We also munched on some deviled eggs from Paula and Mike, and my homemade guacamole.
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On Father’s Day Eve, the guys stand tall; from left, Mike, Jeff and Russ.

But there was still the matter of grilling the pork tenderloins and asparagus in less than ideal conditions. Russ manned up with a ginormous umbrella. The poor guy, it seemed each time he went out the clouds opened up with rain, but then would temporarily stop when he came inside.

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Needless to say, the picnic-style dining occurred indoors. Our first course was the “what’s-old-is-new-again” wedge salad, assembled as a group effort by me, Kim and Paula. The main entrée was a new rendition of a grilled pork tenderloin that I blogged about last month that contained a stuffing of piquillo peppers, manchego cheese and pine nuts.

Although the original recipe called for a brown sugar coating on the outside of the meat, we omitted that step the first time, and also this time around. Russ said it would give the meat a caramelized exterior, but we weren’t keen on the idea of a sugary coating. This version was also supposed to have baby spinach, but somehow it never made the shopping list, so we just omitted it altogether. But the black olive and sun-dried tomato stuffing was so full of flavor that it wasn’t missed at all.

Completing the menu was our “go-with-everything” baked rice and a new recipe of grilled asparagus with a tarragon chimichurri sauce.

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Grilled asparagus with a tasty tarragon chimichurri sauce.

For a final sweet note at dessert time, Kim made a sinful Pecan Maple Pie Cake and Paula brought a choice of numerous mini cheesecakes and custards. After coffee and dessert, when no one could possibly eat or drink anymore, it was time to bid adieu, for folks all had a bit of a ride back home to get a good night’s sleep before partying all over again for their Father’s Day celebrations.

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Grilled Stuffed Pork Tenderloin with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Black Olives

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Ingredients

  • ½ cup pitted kalamata olives
  • ½ cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, rinsed and chopped coarse
  • 4 anchovy fillets
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 cup baby spinach, optional
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Pulse all ingredients except salt and pepper in food processor until coarsely chopped, 5 to 10 pulses; season with salt and pepper to taste.
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  2. Cut each tenderloin in half horizontally, stopping 1/2 inch away from edge so halves remain attached. Open up tenderloins, cover with plastic wrap, and pound to 1/4-inch thickness. Trim any ragged edges to create rough rectangle. Sprinkle interior of each tenderloin with 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.
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  3. With long side of pork facing you, spread half of stuffing mixture over bottom half of one tenderloin followed by 1/2 cup spinach, if using. Roll away from you into tight cylinder, taking care not to squeeze stuffing out ends.
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  4. Position tenderloin seam side down, evenly space 5 pieces twine underneath, and tie. Repeat with remaining tenderloin, stuffing, and spinach (if using.)
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  5. Turn all burners to high, cover, and heat grill until hot, about 15 minutes. Leave primary burner on high and turn off other burner(s).
  6. Clean and oil cooking grate. Coat pork with oil. Place pork on cooler side of grill, cover, and cook until center of stuffing registers 140 degrees, 25 to 30 minutes, rotating pork once halfway through cooking.
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  7. Transfer pork to carving board, tent loosely with foil, and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove twine, slice pork into 1/2-inch-thick slices, and serve.

The Royal “T”reatment

Each June, Russ and I commemorate our dual anniversary of the day we met, and the day we got married—Flag Day, June 14. This year it was at none other than The Mansion Inn in New Hope, PA, a beautiful 1865 manor home and a magnificent example of baroque victorian architecture of the second French empire (with a bit of an angelic Addam’s Family mansion vibe…)

A month prior, on a stroll though New Hope with visiting family members, Russ pointed out the property which stands grandly behind a unique wrought iron grape-cluster fence forged in 1867 in Philadelphia. Russ wondered if it was still a B&B (it is) and if they served food (they do.) We didn’t think too much more about it until a GroupOn opportunity prompted us to purchase a coupon. Since our anniversary(s) were on the horizon, I thought it might make an interesting place to make some new memories.

A fire in November of 2010 destroyed the kitchen, and the house suffered from smoke damage throughout. The Mansion Inn was renovated and reopened in December of 2012 and now boasts a restaurant, five hotel rooms, and an event space. (It was unfortunate that the new outdoor backyard patio and pool were a few weeks away from being finished because the night we patronized the establishment, it was gorgeous out.)

Finally, in June 2016, it was adopted by two New York City businessmen turned foodies: Kris Tomasulo, a Yardley native (my old stomping grounds) and Pennsbury High School graduate, and his long-time friend Joe Grande. Reopening in early October, 2016, they’ve infused the venerable hostelry with a vibrant vision that assimilates well with the popular artists’ colony/tourist community.

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Upon arriving, we walked up the steps to the white-pillared porch with stately arched doorways boasting intricately carved split brass door hinges and latches created by a certified 19th-century artisan, into the softly-lit charm of its restaurant, Royal T’s. (Kris’ son, Royal, inspired the name change—the “T,” of course, is for owner Tomasulo.)

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“We have put a ton of effort into the small details and pleasantly they have all been noticed. People appreciate the finer details from our plate presentation to our red wine glasses to our sphered ice cubes that we serve in our distilled cocktails, to the art on the wall.”

Its lavish interior with dove gray walls exudes a citified mind-set with chic-modern furniture, small bursts of vibrant red, and an all-embracing glow coming from wall sconces and Edison lightbulbs strewn throughout on individual pulley systems. A vamped-up bar includes a cozy lounge with two adjacent dining rooms to accommodate both locals and visitors.

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The night of our visit, only one waitress, Erin, was working the entire interior and exterior rooms (there is casual seating on the porch and a side garden with bright red cafe tables), who allowed us a choice of tables as the joint was sparsely filled that evening. So we selected a cozy corner with views looking out onto a side garden and the vibrant community strolling down Main Street.

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Erin was an endearing sort who had the unfortunate task of informing us that the seafood truck didn’t make their shipment that day so the only types available were shrimp and octopus—a bummer because I zeroed in on the Seared Wild Halibut with a sauce verte. Oh well, time to sip a little wine and rethink my choice…

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After settling on a wine selection, we took our time perusing the menu with razor-like determination. Regrettably, many of the selections centered around the unavailable seafood. But in the end, and at the waitress’s suggestion, I ordered the Thai Curry Vegetable with grilled shrimp which also had the same sides as the halibut—a medley of spring vegetables, over a mound of slightly nutty forbidden black rice, all in a delicate pool of a mildly fragrant coconut curry broth.

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But before our entrees, we shared the “Small Plate” Short Rib Poutine assembled in a hefty cast-iron skillet composed of shredded short rib meat and Wisconsin cheese curd over a stack of hand-cut fries dressed with a brown gravy and topped with a perfectly fried egg. That was a meal in itself, seriously!

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Russ couldn’t pass up the Grilled Lamb Chops and was thrilled that he didn’t because he claimed they were among the best ever—and believe you me, he’s had a lot of them! Four large harissa-rubbed succulent chops came plated on a bed of Israeli couscous adorned with chopped mint, tomato, za’atar and tzatziki.

In case you are wondering what those last two ingredients are, za’atar is an intensely aromatic and ancient spice blend and condiment (the Arabic word za’atar, pronounced ZAH-tahr, also means “thyme”.) And tzatziki is a sauce served with grilled meats or as a dip, made of salted strained yogurt mixed with cucumbers, garlic, salt, olive oil, sometimes with vinegar or lemon juice, and some herbs like dill, mint, parsley, or thyme. It is always served cold.

Woven into “T’s” menu are Italian touches and popular American favorites. Among them: Seafood Risotto (only available that night with shrimp), Seared Scallops, Bone-In Pork Loin, Porcini-Crusted Filet, Lobster Mac, French Onion Soup “Dumplings” and the ever-popular Royal “T” Burger. There are also a handful of interesting sides including Brussels Sprouts with honey Sriracha and bacon, and Wild Mushrooms fricassée.

When asked about dessert, neither of us could even think about it—although I should have asked out of curiosity. I still had half of my entree left over, which made for a fabulous lunch the next day!

So the next time you are wandering around New Hope, stop in for a bite or just enjoy an exotic cocktail on the veranda and watch the world go by, for it’s a perfect town to “people watch”…

 

A Delish Chicken Dish

Russ obtained this luscious Portuguese-Style Chicken recipe by Pierre Franey from NYTimes Cooking. The list of ingredients that included chicken breasts, bell peppers, tomatoes and saffron struck a positive note with both of us and the fact that it was doable on a working weeknight, elevated it to the top of our “want to try” library.

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The dish has a sauce based on tomatoes and is typical of casseroles found in Portugal. First the peppers, onions and garlic are sautéed in olive oil. Tomatoes and saffron, a spice associated with the Iberian peninsula, are added to the mixture. The chicken is browned first, then slowly cooked. The pan is deglazed with chicken stock and white wine before the other ingredients are combined.

French Chef Franey—hailing from the small Burgundy village of Saint-Vinnemer, Yonne, France—is fondly known to his followers as The New York Times “60-Minute Gourmet” columnist and for his popular cooking shows on public television, with his cuisine and recipes spanning a 60-year career. I have to admit, his name did not ring a bell, but you can be sure he is on our radar now!

This chicken dish was delish—and not only great tasting but a work of art on the plate with all of the wonderful colors. Serve over jasmine rice and your meal is complete!

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Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cups cored seeded sweet red, green and yellow peppers, cut into thin strips
  • 1 cup thinly sliced onions
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
  • ¼ teaspoon saffron stems or 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, about 1 1/4 pounds
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped shallots
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • ¼ cup fresh or canned chicken broth
  • 4 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

Directions

  1. Heat the oil over medium high heat in a skillet. Add the peppers, onions, garlic, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, about 3 minutes or until crisp tender. Then add the tomatoes and saffron. Cover and simmer 10 minutes.
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  2. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a skillet large enough to hold the chicken breasts in one layer. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat until lightly browned, about 4 minutes.
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  3. Turn the pieces, reduce the heat and cook about 5 minutes or until done. Do not overcook. Transfer the chicken to a warm platter and keep it warm.
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  4. Add the shallots to the skillet and cook until wilted. Do not brown. Pour in the wine and scrape the bottom with a wooden spatula to dissolve any brown particles that may cling to the bottom of the skillet.
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  5. Reduce the wine almost completely and add the chicken broth. Let this cook until it is almost totally reduced. Add the chicken breasts and any liquid that may have accumulated. Add the pepper and tomato mixture, bring to a simmer and add the parsley. Serve with rice.

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Petite Packs a Punch!

Love these little fellas! For a minimal amount of ingredients and prep, Grilled Skirt Steak Pinwheels really know how to strut their stuff! Though the filling is made with just three ingredients, it packs a huge flavor punch that’s savory, zingy, and fresh. And if you’re so inclined, an optional fourth ingredient could be minced garlic lightly slathered on the steak prior to the cheese layer.

Short but sweet—or should I say savory—blog. Like they say, good things come in small packages… But don’t be fooled by their petite stature, for they are filling indeed, especially with a couple of sides…

Ingredients

  • 1 whole 1-1/2-lb. skirt steak or 2 3/4-lb. pieces, trimmed of excess surface fat
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 oz. coarsely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (about 1 cup)
  • 2 Tbs. finely grated lemon zest (from 2 large)
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (from 1 large bunch)

Directions

  • If the steak is whole, cut it to make two even pieces. Lay the steak out on a work surface and cover with plastic wrap. Using a meat mallet, gently pound the steak until it is at least 4 inches wide and no more than 1/3 inch thick (it’s OK if one end is thinner). Season both sides of each steak with salt and pepper.
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  • Sprinkle the cheese evenly over the steak, leaving a 1/2-inch border, and then sprinkle the lemon zest and parsley over the cheese. Press on the topping to flatten it. Working with one steak at a time and starting at the thinnest end, roll the steak up around the filling.
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  • Tie a length of butcher’s twine around the middle, then tie two more pieces of twine around the pinwheel equidistant from the middle to each end. Cut the roll in half along the middle piece of twine and remove that piece of twine; you will now have two tied wheels.
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  • Trim the ends for a flat surface, if necessary. Repeat with other steak to get 4 pinwheels total. (The wheels may be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated for a few hours; let them sit at room temperature while the grill heats )
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  • Prepare a high (500°F to 600°F) charcoal or gas grill fire. Cook the pinwheels cut sides down, flipping once, until browned on both sides and cooked to your liking, about 6 minutes per side for medium rare (135°F). Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.
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Take the Pressure Off

Ligurian Lemon Chicken—just another reason to get yourself a pressure cooker. Have you ever used one? It’s kind of like a slow cooker on super fast forward. Toss ingredients in the pot, fasten the lid on tight, and wait—but not long. The pressure cooker heats up and the trapped steam increases the internal pressure and allows the temperature to rise. Braising meats normally takes hours of low, slow cooking. With a pressure cooker you can get the same results on speed dial.

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Liguria is a coastal region of north-western Italy, popular with tourists for its beaches, towns and cuisine—thus this recipe. If the finely chopped herbs and garlic in the marinate remind you of pesto, you would be in the right culinary locality. Dishes from this northern Italian vicinity are often made with lots, and lots of herbs and garlic and this chicken dish is no exception. Interestingly, Liguria is the original source of pesto, one of the most popular sauces in Italian cuisine, which ties in nicely with my recent blog Primo Pesto Possibilities, but I digress…

If it wasn’t for the marinating, which takes 2-4 hours plus prep, the actual time in the pressure cooker, other than browning, is only 10 minutes. A marinade never totally penetrates most foods, at best, they flavor a thin outside layer. For chicken use these times as a guide: whole chicken, 4 to 12 hours; boneless breasts, 30 minutes to 2 hours; thighs, 1 to 6 hours; whole breast with skin and bone, up to 2 hours. Most important, never, ever reuse a leftover marinade because it can have harmful bacteria.

That being said, poultry can marinate for up to two days in the refrigerator, according to the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service. But very acidic marinades can actually toughen the meat over time, and since this recipe has a LOT of lemon juice, it is very acidic and could compromise the meat. Also, DON’T marinate in aluminum containers or foil, because a chemical reaction could spoil the food.

A time saving step is to cut up the chicken (if you are using a whole bird) and make the marinade the night before. Put the chicken pieces in a ziploc, and the marinade in another sealed container. When you get home from work the next day, toss the sauce into the ziploc with the chicken for a few hours. That way, the pressure is off to do it all at once!

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INGREDIENTS

  • 4 lemons, three juiced and one for garnish
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary (two for chopping, one for garnish)
  • 2 sprigs of fresh sage
  • 1/2 bunch of parsley leaves and stems
  • 4 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 chicken, cut into parts OR 1 package of bone-in chicken pieces
  • 1/2 cup of dry white wine
  • 4 ounce black gourmet salt-cured olives (Taggiesche, French, or Kalamata)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Finely chop the garlic, rosemary, sage, and parsley. Place in a container and add lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix well and set aside.
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  2. Place the chicken pieces in a deep dish and cover with the marinade, then cover with plastic wrap; or place in a ziploc bag as shown above. Leave to marinate in the refrigerator for 2-4 hours. (Do not marinate overnight.)
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  3. Heat olive oil and brown the chicken pieces on all sides for about 5 minutes, in two batches if necessary. Set aside.
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  4. De-glaze pan with the white wine until it has almost all evaporated. Add the chicken pieces back in, dark-meat first. Drape the chicken breasts on top so that they do not touch the bottom of the pressure cooker. Pour the marinade on top.
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  5. Close and lock. Turn heat to high. Cook for 8-10 minutes at high pressure (or for 18-20 minutes at low pressure). Release pressure.
  6. Take the chicken pieces out of pan and place covered on a serving dish. Reduce the liquid to 1/4 of its amount, or until it becomes thick and pour over chicken.
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  7. Garnish with olives, lemon wedges and a sprinkle of small rosemary sprigs.

IMG_2430A side of polenta makes a great vehicle to soak up the luscious sauce.

Recipe from Fagor Pressure Cookers

Light and Lovely

Egg Drop Soup with Crab, Baby Corn, and Peas, this riff on a Chinese restaurant mainstay becomes a light and lovely supper which you can intensify with the addition of Sriracha. I can’t remember the last time I bought a can of baby corn! But it works beautifully when sliced into mini-rounds providing a fun texture and slight crunch to the soup. Typically eaten whole, they are also known as young corn, mini corn, cornlettes, or candle corn.

As always, whenever possible use homemade stock—in this case chicken or shellfish—for the most flavor. If you look at the nutrition label on a box or can of store-bought broth (yes, even the organic ones!), you’ll quickly realize that the industrially-produced version is an empty, processed food. In contrast, homemade broth starts with whole food: meat, fat, bones. Add a few veggies and herbs, and you have a tasty bowl of MSG-free, bioavailable nutrition.

A couple of notable changes: since my container of lump crabmeat came in an 8-ounce package, I used the entire amount. After all, what would I do with two ounces leftover? And at the price of lump crab meat, I certainly wasn’t going to waste it. Additionally, the can of baby corn was 14-ounces and the recipe only calls for four ounces, which seemed measly in MHO. So without exactly measuring, I probably added about a cups worth of slices.

Thickening with just two teaspoons of cornstarch didn’t happen either when I made this recipe. I had to add at least another tablespoon to get even a slight thickness, but you don’t want to go over board because the egg will swell the soup and give it some body.

So go ahead and purchase that can of “cornlettes” and enjoy a light, satisfying meal for lunch or dinner…

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Ingredients

  • 6 cups lower-salt chicken broth
  • 4 oz. canned whole baby corn, sliced into 1/4-inch-thick rounds (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1 Tbs. finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1 Tbs. soy sauce
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 6 oz. crabmeat, preferably jumbo lump, picked over (about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1-1/2 tsp. seasoned rice vinegar
  • Freshly ground white pepper
  • 3 scallions, green parts only, thinly sliced
  • Hot sauce, such as Sriracha (optional)

Directions

  • In a 5-quart pot, bring the broth, baby corn, and ginger to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium low, and simmer for about 5 minutes.
  • In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce and cornstarch; add it to the pot and cook, stirring, until bubbly and thickened slightly, about 5 minutes.
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  • Pour the eggs into the pot in a slow, steady stream and cook without stirring until egg strands float to the surface, about 1 minute.
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  • Add the crab, peas, vinegar, and 1/8 tsp. white pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through, about 4 minutes.
  • Break up any large pieces of egg, if necessary. Serve the soup garnished with the scallions and a little hot sauce, if you like.

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Paella & Panna Cotta Party Time

Each summer we try to grill at least one paella with a few friends, alfresco on our backyard patio. This year we did so in early June, so there would be plenty of time over the remainder of the season to create another paella—the quintessentially Spanish dish of saffron rice cooked and served in a wide, shallow skillet, spiked with meat and/or fish. An aromatic and filling staple from the Valencia region, this party-friendly rice dish is a great alternative to pasta, risotto, and casseroles when feeding a group. It’s easy and presents a complete meal packed with flavor.

Joining us for this feast were friends Gary and Rosanne Zarrilli. But before we got down to the business of making paella, we got down to the enjoyment of sampling Rosanne’s beautifully crafted appetizers of endive, blue cheese, toasted almond slivers and orange segments, and another of tasty Tuscan mushrooms stuffed with olive, pepper and cheese. We polished all of them babies off in no time!

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The paella pan is characterized by being round with a flat bottom and can be anywhere from a 12″ in diameter to several feet; ours is 16″. The one thing that doesn’t change is the height. It is about “first joint in the thumb deep” as the Spanish would say, so that the rice has maximum contact with the bottom of the pan.

Eat Real Fest Girards Paella Pan
Years ago, we ran across one while vacationing in the Riviera Maya that had to be six feet or more in diameter, similar to the one pictured here—now that’s a party!! (courtesy of the culture bite)

The best paellas have pockets of slightly burnt, charcoal-y rice that has stuck to the bottom of the pan only to be scraped off and circulated along with the perfectly-cooked mounds. But there’s a fine line between burning rice (the most popular is Bomba) for taste and accidentally burning too much and spoiling a meal.

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Russ and Gary man the paella grill.

Onions, garlic, quartered artichokes, green peas and red peppers make up the traditional vegetables. The required seasonings are Spanish smoked paprika and saffron, which gives paella its distinctive golden color. Saffron has long been, by weight, the most expensive ingredient in the world, but don’t fear, a little goes a long way and a few strands will produce a subtle flavor and lovely color. Meat and fish can take any number of varieties, but chicken and chorizo is standard, as are shrimp, clams, and mussels (we swapped out the mussels for bay scallops.)

The sofrito—that aromatic mixture of gently sautéed onions, garlic and tomatoes—is a lynchpin of Spanish cookery, and of most paellas. It is sometimes served with aioli, and most aficionados of paella prefer it tepid rather than hot, and with good reason: it tastes much better.

So the next time there’s a social gathering headed your way, whether it’s a birthday party, potluck, or just a Saturday dinner with good friends, and burgers or ribs seem a little ho-hum, try this easy alternative. It’s sure to surprise and delight even the most discriminating palates.

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Lynn and Rosanne add the finishing touches.

In a couple of earlier blog posts you can find a Classic Seafood Paella article, and the Classic Chicken Paella recipe.

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Gary digs in and the feast begins…

Now for dessert. Light and simple, panna cotta is all about texture. It should be a bit wobbly on the plate, and then melt quickly in your mouth. Not only does buttermilk add a bright flavor, but it also makes for a lighter, softer panna cotta. The sauce was inspired by our batch of fresh strawberries and chambord, a raspberry liqueur— which is subtle but adds a bit of depth and sophistication—just like you, right?

The following recipe is an adaptation of two recipes from Faith Durand of Fine Cooking.

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Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Strawberry Chambord Sauce

Ingredients

For the panna cottas

  • Cooking spray
  • 1-1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 2-1/2 tsp. unflavored powdered gelatin (substitute vegan gelatin for a vegetarian dessert)
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch table salt

For the sauce

  • 12 oz. (about 2-1/2 cups) fresh or frozen strawberries
  • 1/4 cup chambord (raspberry liqueur)
  • 3 Tbs. granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbs. plus 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • Pinch table salt
  • 1-1/2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Directions

Make the panna cottas

  • Lightly spray six 6- to 8-oz. ramekins, small bowls, or pastry molds with cooking spray.
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  • Put the cream in a 2-quart saucepan and sprinkle with the gelatin. Allow the gelatin to soften for about 5 minutes. Place the saucepan over low heat and whisk in the sugar until the gelatin and sugar are completely dissolved, 2 to 3 minutes. Rub a little between your fingers to check. (Avoid simmering, which destroys the gelatin’s thickening ability; if you see bubbles, remove from the heat and let it cool.)
  • Off the heat, whisk in the buttermilk, vanilla and salt.
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  • Transfer the mixture to a large measuring cup and divide among the prepared ramekins. Cover loosely with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until set, 1 to 2 hours.
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  • Serve the panna cottas in their ramekins, or unmold: Moisten six serving plates with a little warm water (this makes it easier to center the panna cottas). Loosen the edges of a panna cotta with a fingertip, then slowly invert it onto a plate. Gently jiggle the ramekin side to side until the panna cotta slips out. Lift the ramekin, reposition the panna cotta on the plate, if needed, and pat the plate dry. Serve, chilled for a firm panna cotta or at room temperature for a softer one, with the strawberry sauce.

Make the sauce

  • If using fresh strawberries, halve them. If using frozen, thaw, drain, and halve them.
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  • In a 2-quart saucepan, whisk together the chambord, sugar, lemon juice, and salt. Stir in the strawberries. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the liquid thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes.
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  • In a small bowl, stir the cornstarch with 1 tsp. water. Add to the strawberry sauce and cook until thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Let cool to room temperature. If the sauce thickens during cooling, stir in water, 1 tsp. at a time, until it reaches your desired consistency.
  • Spoon over chilled panna cotta. Garnish with fresh mint if desired.

Five-Minute Marinated Skirt Steak

You don’t have to marinate a steak overnight to get great flavor—with this marinade, five minutes is all you need. The marinade is thicker than most, (if you use the entire cup of brown sugar—which we didn’t), but that helps it cling to the meat. For a rather small amount of steak, one cup of sugar (seriously?) seemed like overload so we cut it down to a 1/4 cup. And even though you only need to marinate for five minutes, ours sat in the ziploc bag for the entire hour to make sure all those luscious ingredients really permeated the meat well.

Looking at a raw skirt steak, it’s easy to see the lines of fat within the striations of meat. Don’t try to remove it. The fat adds flavor and bastes the meat as it melts away during cooking, which only takes just six minutes on the grill…. so don’t get too comfy sipping a cold one or you’ll overcook the steak.

In the meantime, think about what your sides are going to be beforehand. We served the steak with steamed French green beans and smashed new potatoes. All I did with the multi-colored spuds was boil them in salted water until tender, drain, put them back in the pot with a small amount of cream, chopped fresh rosemary, salt and pepper. Using a potato masher I lightly smushed them for a finished coarse mash. Easy and delicious!

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Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup packed light or dark brown sugar (original recipe calls for one cup)
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 2 Tbs. coarsely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1-1/2 lb. skirt steak, trimmed of excess surface fat
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  • Combine the sugar, vinegar, Worcestershire, garlic, and rosemary in a baking dish or zip-top bag large enough to hold the steak. Add the steak and turn to coat. Let sit at room temperature for at least 5 minutes and up to an hour.
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  • Prepare a high (500°F to 600°F) charcoal or gas grill fire. Take the steak out of the marinade and season both sides generously with salt and pepper. Cut into smaller pieces to make grilling more manageable, if you like.
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  • Grill, flipping once, until grill marks form on both sides and cooked to your liking, about 3 minutes per side for medium rare (135°F). Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes. Slice against the grain and serve.
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Recipe By Pat LaFrieda from Fine Cooking

 

Poolside Pasta Salad

Weekends during the summer season often finds us relaxing at the country club pool with books—or should I say kindles—in hand. While much of their food fare is the typical hotdogs, hamburgers, chicken wings, french fries and ooo-gobs of ice cream novelty items, they do offer a few health-friendly salads.

Good in a pinch, but that gets old, and expensive, so we try to be creative in what we whip together ourselves to tote with us, such as pasta salad. I know I don’t have to tell you this one simple truth, that not all macaroni salads are created equal. One tried-and-true option for us is our gluten-free macaroni, tuna and egg salad with lots of healthy veggies.

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Of course, you can adjust any of the ingredients, or quantities to suit your own needs. I personally don’t like mine real “wet” while hubby does, so I only use a half cup mayo as opposed to a whole cup like most recipes. Don’t like olives, then don’t include them. Prefer to use parsley instead of chives, then by all means do. And consider tossing in some chopped celery leaves, they add a nice texture and taste.

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I’m using the term “pasta salad” interchangeably here. The terms “macaroni salad” and “pasta salad” have different meanings in different places, but generally, at least in the U.S., creamy noodle salads are referred to as macaroni salads whereas oil & vinegar based ones are called pasta salads. While pasta obviously didn’t originate in the U.S. and pasta salads are popular worldwide, the traditional creamy macaroni salad is very much an American classic. You say toe-MAY-toe, I say toe-MAH-toe

Name aside, a cardinal sin is not enough salt. Carbs such as potatoes, pasta, legumes, etc—soak up salt like nothing else. Keep in mind, the word salad comes from the Latin base word sal which means “salt.” So don’t be afraid to be generous with the shaker.

Another item to consider is that while macaroni salad tastes best a couple of hours later after the flavors have had time to meld, it doesn’t make the ideal leftover food the next day because those noodles are thirsty and they’ll continue to soak up liquid, leaving you with a dry salad. If you do end up with leftovers the next day, you might want to add a little more of the mayo sauce before serving.

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Russ was adding the oil very slowly, then I took over and added it just a bit too fast…

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The homemade mayo was perfect, until just after I took the photo and it “broke.”

About that mayonnaise… I made an error in assuming we had enough on hand. Wrong. But Russ proudly announced he could make some, and he has many times before so I went with it. That is until it “broke,” meaning the oil separated from the egg. And that might be a little bit my fault, as I was the one adding the oil a little too fast, oops. Second time around he used our mini-processor and we had success. Yes, it probably would have been quicker, and cheaper, to have run out to the grocery store again…

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Ingredients

  • 8 oz. elbow macaroni, or other small pasta
  • 5 hard boiled eggs, sliced
  • 1, 12 oz. can albacore tuna in water, drained
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise, preferably made with olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. mustard
  • 1 Tbsp. vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. capers, rinsed, drained and chopped
  • 1/2 cup pit-free kalamata olives, sliced into rounds
  • 1 thick carrot, shredded
  • 1 large rib celery, cut in half vertically then sliced thin at a diagonal
  • 1 small (or half of a large) red or green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh chives, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 thinly sliced scallions, some greens saved for garnish

TIP: If you want to add a bit of a sweet note, incorporate ¼ cup sweet pickle relish and 1 tablespoon sugar.

Directions

  1. Hard boil 4 eggs, cool in ice bath, peel and slice with egg slicer or knife.
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    Do your self a favor and buy one of these gizmos at the Dollar Store.
  2. Cook the pasta according to package directions, drain, rinse with cold water and let cool completely.
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  3. In a small bowl, mix together the mayo, mustard, vinegar, capers, salt and pepper.
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  4. In a large mixing bowl, add the pasta, tuna, olives, carrot, bell pepper, chives and celery. Toss in the mayo mixture and stir until well-coated.
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  5. Add the egg slices on top and gently stir a few times to incorporate but not break up the pieces. Top with a sprinkling of thinly sliced scallion greens.
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  6. Cover tightly and refrigerate for a couple of hours to meld flavors until ready for use.

Poolside or not, this is a good summer salad for wherever you are!