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Sheet-Pan Sausage Parmesan with Garlicky Broccoli

This dish is reminiscent of a hefty pizza topping minus the crust. Typically in most instances, I would opt for hot Italian sausage over sweet but this one seemed to call out for the latter. And as usual, I made a few tweaks, in this case being the package of sausage was two pounds instead of one-and-a-half, so I used it all. We like leftovers…

Employing quarter sheets about 12″ x 9″, allows you to cook your main course and side dish at the same time in the same oven. Yet there’s no mixing of flavors that would happen if you combined everything on one large sheet pan—albeit, sometimes that is the effect you want, but not here. (That being said, if all you have is a larger sheet pan, go ahead and make the recipe, you won’t be sorry.)

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In Step 3, simmering the tomato mixture was supposed to take 15-20 minutes, but mine was thick and ready after only eight minutes, so keep an eyeball on yours. At Step 10, I was concerned about the toppings on the cooked links falling through the open spaces, so I cut them down into approximate 5″ lengths and lined them up in a tight soldiers row.

In the end, the sausage juices will mingle with the tomato sauce and melted cheese, without compromising the roasted garlicky broccoli to serve alongside. A definite keeper!

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Sheet-Pan Sausage Parmesan with Garlicky Broccoli

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

For the Tomato Sauce:

  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove large garlic, thinly sliced
  • Large pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 large sprig basil
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, more to taste
  • 1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

For the Sausage and Broccoli

  • 1 small bunch broccoli, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, more as needed
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 lbs. hot or sweet Italian sausage, pricked all over with a fork
  • 5 oz. fresh ricotta
  • 3 cloves garlic, 2 thinly sliced, 1 finely minced
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
  • Chopped basil or parsley for serving

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 450°.
  2. Prepare sauce: In a large skillet over medium heat, heat oil until shimmering. Stir in garlic and red pepper flakes, cook until fragrant, 1 minute.
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  3. Stir in tomatoes, basil sprig, salt and pepper, and bring to a brisk simmer. Simmer until sauce is very thick and most of the moisture is evaporated, 15 to 20 minutes (or less, as in our case). It should be thicker than the usual marinara sauce. Remove and discard basil.
  4. While sauce is cooking, toss broccoli with oil, red pepper flakes and salt on a quarter-size rimmed baking sheet, and place in oven.
  5. Arrange sausage in a single layer on another quarter-size rimmed baking sheet, and roast along with pan of broccoli until golden brown on bottom, about 15 minutes. Flip sausages over so browned sides are on top.
  6. When you flip the meat, remove broccoli pan from oven and toss with sliced garlic. (Reserve grated garlic for ricotta.) Drizzle broccoli with a little more oil.
  7. Return pan to oven and continue to roast broccoli and sausages until the meat is cooked through and broccoli is tender and browned, about 5 minutes longer.
  8. Meanwhile, mix ricotta and grated garlic.
  9. When broccoli is done, remove from oven and tent with foil to keep warm.
  10. Move sausage to cutting board and slice into 5″ lengths. Line the links into a tight soldiers row back on sheet pan. Top sausages with tomato sauce and dollops of ricotta. Drizzle with olive oil and grind pepper generously over the top. Sprinkle on mozzarella and Parmesan.
  11. Bake until cheese is melted and bubbly, and the garlic is opaque, 3 to 5 minutes. If you prefer, you can broil the cheese to melt it, 1 to 3 minutes.
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  12. Serve the sausage, sauce and cheeses with broccoli on the side. If desired, serve crusty bread for sopping up the tomato sauce (although in our case, there was no extra sauce to mop up).
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http://www.lynnandruss.com

Adapted from a recipe by Melissa Clark of NYTimes Cooking

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Alpine Linguine

Inspired by the cuisine of Northern Italy, this Alpine Linguine pasta dish features thin slices of caramelized Brussels sprouts and crispy bites of prosciutto, a smoky salty meat. It’s a crafty way of getting someone who thinks they dislike Brussels sprouts to eat them.

Prosciutto is the Italian word for ham. In the U.S., the word prosciutto is used to describe an uncooked, dry-cured ham, which is called prosciutto crudo in Italian. When sliced thinly, it has a buttery texture and will melt in the mouth, and get crunchy when pan-fried, as in this recipe. 

The entire prosciutto making process can take anywhere from nine months to two years. When buying, order it presliced because it is extremely delicate and can be quite sticky. It is often packaged with deli paper between the slices to make it easier to handle the slices without tearing them.

Eight ounces of pasta may not seem like much for four servings, but with the extra ounce of prosciutto and additional cheese that I added (noted in recipe below), it was very rich and very filling. Served with a simple side salad, it made a satisfying meal.

Some acceptable substitutions are: Meat = Speck; Pasta = fettuccine; Cheese = Emmentaler.

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Alpine Linguine

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • Kosher salt
  • 8 oz. linguine
  • 4 Tbs. olive oil
  • 4 oz. thinly sliced prosciutto
  • 2 large shallots, thinly sliced (1 cup)
  • 1 lb. Brussels sprouts, trimmed, halved lengthwise, and thinly sliced (about 4 cups)
  • 1 Tbs. finely chopped garlic
  • 2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 1/2 cups grated aged Gruyère
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid.
  2. Meanwhile, heat 1-1/2 Tbs. of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the prosciutto in a single layer in batches, and cook until crisp and lightly browned in places, about 1 minute per side. Transfer to a cutting board, roughly chop, and then set aside.
     

  3. Reduce the heat to medium, and add the remaining 2-1/2 Tbs. oil. Add the shallots and cook, stirring, until beginning to brown, 2 to 3 minutes.
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  4. Add the Brussels sprouts, sprinkle with 1/4 tsp. salt, and cook until browned in places, 3 minutes. (This step was more like 7-8 minutes.)
  5. Add the garlic and thyme, and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30 seconds.
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  6. Add the wine and simmer, scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan, until the wine is reduced by half, 1 minute.
  7. Turn off the heat and add the pasta, prosciutto, and reserved cooking liquid. Toss with tongs, adding the Gruyère gradually in small amounts until all the cheese is incorporated. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve.
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http://www.lynnandruss.com

Adapted from a recipe by Ivy Manning  from Fine Cooking

Citrusy-Glazed Pork Chop Heaven

In this Citrus-Glazed Pork Chops with Gingery Bok Choy tasty meal, rich pork makes makes a perfect companion to tart oranges. The bold, bright citrusy sauce demands a robust cut of meat, therefore a well-marbled, thick-cut pork chop with a good fat cap, fills the bill. While the original recipe calls for three chops weighing in at 2 1/2 pounds, I only cooked two with a weight of 1 2/3 pounds, more than enough for the two of us.

A dry rub of brown sugar creates a caramelized layer and lends depth to the pan sauce, and the gingery bok choy adds a delightful bit of freshness. And because we are garlic fiends, I increased the number of cloves by 50%, from four to six large. To round out the meal, you can add a starch such as mashed potatoes, silky polenta, tri-colored couscous, or egg noodles—our choice.

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If a recipe calls for more than a few tablespoons of citrus juice, I bring out the electronic juicer, which makes quick work of the task. With this one calling for 3/4 cup, it was a no brainer.

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Citrus-Glazed Pork Chops with Gingery Bok Choy

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1, 2″ piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely minced
  • 2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 lb. baby bok choy, halved, or quartered if large
  • 2 Tbsp. neutral oil, plus more as needed
  • 3, 1 1/2″ bone-in pork loin chops (about 2 1/2 lbs.)
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. light brown sugar
  • 1 whole orange cut in 1/2 crosswise, seeds removed, plus 3/4 fresh orange juice (about 3 large oranges total)
  • 4 shallots, peeled and quartered
  • 4-6 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1/4 cup water

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl combine the ginger and rice vinegar. Season with salt and pepper, set aside.
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  2. Trim the bok choy and cut down the middle lengthwise. If large, cut into quarters.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a 12″ skillet over med-high heat. Working in batches, add the bok choy to the pan, cut side down, and sear on one side until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes.
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  4. Add additional oil if necessary, and flip to cook the other side until just tender, another minute or three. Transfer to ginger marinade, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover bowl with foil to keep warm.
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  5. Rub both sides of the pork chops with the brown sugar and season generously with salt.
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  6. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in skillet over medium heat. Arrange chops and orange halves in skillet, cut-side down.
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  7. Sear, without moving, one side of meat until deep brown, 5 to 6 minutes. Flip the pork but leave the orange undisturbed. Cook on med-low until chops are browned on both sides and orange halves are charred, 4 to 5 minutes more.
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    Although the instructions don’t indicate, you should also brown the fat caps. Use tongs to sear the ends for several seconds.
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  8. Move orange halves to a serving platter and pork to a plate.
     

  9. Add shallots and garlic to skillet and cook until softened and starting to brown, about 3 minutes.
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  10. Add all of the pork chops and accumulated juices back to the pan, overlapping if necessary.
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  11. Add the orange juice and 1/4 cup water. Bring to a simmer, swirling the pan to release any bits stuck to the bottom.
  12. Cover and cook for 3 minutes, then uncover and cook until the pork is cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes.
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  13. Transfer the chops to a cutting board and allow the sauce to continue cooking until reduced and sticky, 3 minutes more. (The sauce will be ready when you drag a spatula through the sauce and it leaves an open trail, as shown below.) Remove from heat.
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  14. Transfer the bok choy to the serving platter. Slice the pork and transfer to the platter along with any accumulated juices from the meat. Spoon the sauce with shallots and garlic, and squeeze the caramelized oranges over the top. Serve with starch of choice.
     

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http://www.lynnandruss.com

Adapted from a recipe by Yewande Komolafe of NYTimes Cooking

Spicy Red Lentil and Chickpea Stew

Here’s a vegetarian stew that is so simple to make and takes only a half hour or less to complete before you eat! The humble look of this stew belies its complex flavor: a mix of spicy heat and earthy legumes, topped with a cooling, creamy lemon-flecked yogurt.

If you’re not concerned with the dish being vegetarian, as we weren’t, I highly suggest using a homemade chicken stock instead of a commercial veggie broth—it adds a whole new dimension to the flavor profile. And don’t omit the topping because that zing of lemon adds a welcome bright note.

Whenever recipes call for a 15-ounce can of chickpeas, we inevitably buy the 19-ounce can. Also known as garbanzo beans, they have a buttery, nutty flavor and creamy texture, and are a great source of healthy fiber in addition to being rich in protein, folate and iron.

Now let’s talk about those lentils. Of all the colors of lentils—orange, green, yellow, black and brown—the red lentil proves sweeter and nuttier than its brethren. That’s saying a lot, given that there are hundreds of lentil varieties. Be aware that they tend to become slightly mushy when cooked down, so this variety is often used for thickening soups, purees, and stews. Bingo, that’s what gives this stew its thick base!

It doesn’t make a large amount, so if you intend to stretch it to four servings, serve over steamed rice accompanied by warm naan.

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Spicy Red Lentil and Chickpea Stew

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 15.5-oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup red lentils, rinsed
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
  • 2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, cilantro or sliced chives, for garnish

Directions

  1. Heat the oil in a 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the cumin and pepper flakes and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
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  2. Add the onion and garlic, and cook, stirring often, until starting to soften, about 3 minutes.
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  3. Add the chickpeas and lentils, and stir to coat.
  4. Add the broth, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until the lentils are tender and falling apart, 10 to 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. Meanwhile, combine the yogurt and lemon zest and juice in a small bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  6. Serve the stew topped with a dollop of the yogurt and garnished with the parsley, cilantro or chives.
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http://www.lynnandruss.com

Recipe by Erica Clark from Fine Cooking

Try a Traybake (Plus a Bonus Side)

For the main entrée—Chicken and Cremini Mushroom Traybake with Red Pepper Sauce—savory roasted mushrooms and a subtly sweet scallion-accented pan sauce are delicious accompaniments to crisp-skinned chicken seasoned with ground fennel, granulated garlic and dried oregano. Doesn’t that description just make your mouth water already?

If you can’t find ground fennel seed at the supermarket, grind your own by processing a generous 1 tablespoon whole fennel seeds in a spice grinder until fine and powdery. And don’t feel that you need to roast your own peppers for this recipe. Just use jarred roasted peppers, they’ll work perfectly well. (A 7.75-ounce jar contained exactly 2 whole roasted bell peppers.)

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The chicken, including the breast meat, was soooo juicy and tender, and the combination of flavors was wonderful. And to complete the meal, I promised you a bonus side. This Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Aleppo Pepper hails from Fine Cooking. We just adored the touch of orange zest!

Both of these recipes take approximately a total of 50 minutes and get cooked on rimmed baking sheets at about the same oven temperature—can’t get much easier than that! If you don’t have two ovens, just cook both sheet pans at 450° and adjust the time a little less for the spuds (cover with foil if they start to get too brown).

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Chicken and Cremini Mushroom Traybake with Red Pepper Sauce

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp. ground fennel seeds
  • 1 Tbsp. granulated garlic
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 1½ lbs. cremini mushrooms, trimmed, kept whole
  • 2 roasted red peppers, kept whole
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 lbs. bone-in, skin-on chicken parts, trimmed and patted dry
  • 1 Tbsp. firmly packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. dried oregano
  • 10 medium garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 tsp. unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced

Directions

  1. Heat the oven to 450°F with a rack in the middle position.
  2. In a small bowl, stir together the fennel, granulated garlic and 2 teaspoons salt. In a medium bowl, toss the mushrooms and red peppers with 1 tablespoon of the spice mixture and the oil; set aside.
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  3. Into the remaining spice mixture, stir the brown sugar, oregano, 1 tablespoon salt and 2 teaspoons pepper.
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  4. On a rimmed baking sheet, evenly season both sides of the chicken parts with the spice mixture. Place the garlic cloves in the center of the baking sheet, then arrange the chicken parts, skin up, around the garlic; this prevents the garlic from scorching during roasting. Place the roasted peppers around the chicken, then scatter the mushrooms in an even layer on top the peppers.
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  5. Roast until the thickest part of the breast (if using) reaches about 160°F and the thickest part of the largest thigh/leg (if using) reaches about 175°F, 30 to 40 minutes. (If some pieces are done before others, remove them to the platter and cover with foil until the others are cooked to temperature.)
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  6. Using tongs, transfer the chicken and mushrooms to a platter and transfer the roasted peppers to a cutting board; leave the garlic on the baking sheet.
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  7. Carefully pour ¼ cup water onto the baking sheet, then use a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits. Pour the liquid, along with the garlic cloves, into a medium bowl.
  8. Roughly chop the roasted peppers and add to the bowl, then use a fork or potato masher to mash the mixture until almost smooth. (We left ours on the chunkier side.)
     

  9. Stir in the vinegar and half the scallions, then spoon the sauce over the chicken. Sprinkle with the remaining scallions.
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http://www.lynnandruss.com

Recipe from 177 Milk Street

Bonus Recipe: Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Aleppo Pepper

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  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 4 large sweet potatoes (about 3 lbs.), peeled and cut into 1″ chunks
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. Aleppo pepper
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp grated orange zest

Directions

  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 425°.
  2. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment.
  3. In a large bowl, combine sweet potatoes chunks, olive oil, Aleppo pepper and kosher salt and toss to coat well.
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  4. Reserving the bowl, transfer the potatoes to the prepared baking sheet and spread in an even layer. Roast, turning occasionally, until the edges of the spuds are slightly caramelized, 30 to 40 minutes.
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  5. Return the potatoes to the reserved bowl and add cilantro and orange zest, tossing gently to combine.
  6. Season to taste with salt and serve.

http://www.lynnandruss.com

Recipe courtesy of Emily Peterson from Fine Cooking

Those Who Garlic Together, Stay Together

Garlic lovers take heed, between these two dishes, you’ll use 18 cloves—or more if you’d like…

From the freezer, we pulled the last of our leg-of-lamb purchased from Costco months ago and divvied up into different portions, this one being a 2-pound roast. On what to do with it, The Hubster flipped through our well-thumbed and dog-eared copy of Penelope Casa’s cookbook “La Cocina de Mama” and spotted Digna’s Roast Lamb and Potatoes thinking it would make the perfect Sunday evening braise. After all, having recently returned from a vacay in the Andalusian region, we were in a Spanish frame of mind…

As he read the ingredients, there was a little niggling in my brain that told me we made this dish a while back. Sure enough, I did a search on my blog and found that I had posted the very same recipe exactly 5 years ago to the day, on November 3, 2014. Now that was serendipitous indeed.

In this fabulous recipe, the lamb is first marinated, then roasted with potatoes. Prepared in an earthenware casserole—a cazuela—the lamb dish was once made on festive occasions in village wood-burning bakery ovens in Galicia Spain. Our cazuela was now a seasoned vessel compared to its maiden voyage the first time we made this recipe.

Keep in mind, you do need to prepare the lamb with marinade and refrigerate overnight, so plan accordingly. Then an hour-and-a-half before you start to cook, take the marinated meat out of the fridge so that the oil comes to room temperature. Even though we did it again, we think the next time we will forego browning the cubed meat before putting the casserole in the oven, where it should brown on its own. Eliminating this step could help ensure that the meat doesn’t get overcooked and/or dried out.

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In the original directions it does not indicate to turn the meat and potatoes a time or two while in the oven. If you don’t, the spuds might not get completely cooked on the top layer, and become mushy at the bottom. You want to make sure all of the ingredients are evenly cooked and getting happy in the flavorful juices. So I mention to do this in the steps below.

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Our side, (yes, another green bean dish), “Green Beans with Garlic and Vinegar” was also from Penelope’s book. She explains vegetables in Spain are typically served on their own as a first course. (We have experienced this first-hand in our travels throughout Spain.) Ingredients such as garlic, chopped hard-boiled eggs, and fried or toasted bread are common additions. They transform plain vegetables into dishes that can become light meals. (Here however, we omitted the eggs.) WOW, so simple yet so delicious!!

Digna's Roast Lamb and Potatoes

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 14 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 bay leaves, crumbled
  • 2 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley
  • Kosher or sea salt
  • 8 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 6 Tbsp. dry white wine (we used dry sherry)
  • 2 lbs. boneless leg of lamb, cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 2 cloves
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. crumbled saffron threads
  • 1 lb. baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
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Directions

  1. FIRST DAY: In a mortar, mash to a paste one-quarter of the minced garlic cloves with the bay leaves, parsley and a 1/4 tsp. salt.
  2. Stir in 4 Tbsp. of the oil and 2 Tbsp. of the wine.
  3. Transfer to a large bowl, add the meat and stir to coat well. (Or put in a ziploc bag)
  4. Marinate overnight or longer in the refrigerator. (Ours marinated about 30 hours.)
  5. NEXT DAY: An hour-and-a-half before you start to cook, take the bag of marinating meat out of the refrigerator, allowing the oil to return to a liquid state.
  6. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  7. Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a large shallow casserole, preferably earthenware (like our cazuela.)
  8. Add the meat with marinade and brown over high heat.
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  9. Remove casserole from heat and add remaining 2 Tbsp. oil, 4 Tbsp. wine, the broth, rest of garlic, the cloves, and salt and pepper to taste.
  10. Place in oven and roast for 30 minutes, uncovered.
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    Russ toasted the saffron in foil over an open flame for several seconds then pulverized it with some finishing salt in a mortar and pestle.

  11. Add the potatoes, sprinkle them with salt and saffron (see above comment), and continue cooking another 30 minutes more, turning once or twice until potatoes are tender.
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http://www.lynnandruss.com

Green Beans with Garlic and Vinegar

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Green Beans with Garlic and Vinegar

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • Kosher or sea salt
  • 1 small onion, cut in half
  • 2 fresh parsley sprigs
  • 2 whole peeled garlic cloves + 2 garlic cloves thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp. + 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 lb. green beans, trimmed and rinsed
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  • 2 half-inch slices bread, cut from a French-style loaf, cubed
  • 2 tsp. red or white wine vinegar
  • 1 large hard-boiled egg, finely chopped (optional)

Directions

  1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil with the onion, parsley, whole garlic and 1 Tbsp. of the olive oil. Add the beans and cook at a high simmer for about 20 minutes, until cooked to taste.
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    We used shallots and leek greens in place of the onion, plus included parsley stems.
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  2. Meanwhile, to fry the bread, heat 2 tsp. of the oil in a small skillet, add the bread and fry until golden brown, turning several times. Drain on paper towels.
  3. Add the remaining Tbsp. oil and the sliced garlic to the skillet and sauté until the garlic is golden, reserve.
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  4. When the green beans are done to taste, drain them, discarding the parsley, garlic and onion and place beans on a warm serving platter.
  5. Pour on the sliced garlic with its oil, sprinkle with salt, and drizzle with vinegar. Scatter the bread cubes (and eggs if using) over the beans and serve.
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http://www.lynnandruss.com

Savory & Sweet Seville

While still on the subject of Spain, I’ll continue the culinary trip through parts of old town Seville. Our digs were at the H10 Corregidor, a charming boutique hotel located in Seville’s historic center and shopping district, in the midst of the city’s main tourist attractions. Being in the older section of the city, many areas are pedestrian only, no vehicles allowed, making schlepping our luggage around a real pain. Sometimes the cabbies couldn’t even figure out a way to get us to our destinations!

It has nothing to do with dining, but this video displays a moment from a Flamenco Dancing performance (and was one of those times a cabbie could not find his way to the pedestrian only location).

 

With each night’s stay at H10, they offer a fully-loaded breakfast buffet with the option of enjoying it in the hotel’s typical Andalusian courtyard. In fact, our room, three floors up, looked directly down onto the courtyard, and where we dined as weather permitted. The offerings were wide and varied, something for everyone’s tastes and diet.

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One thing I found hard to “digest” was an interesting tidbit from our tour guide, Jaime, a lifelong Seville resident and previous architect. While strolling around the city, past numerous tapas bars and eateries, he pointed out that the more litter on the ground around the tables, the better the restaurant. He explained it is customary to throw your napkins and cigarette butts on the floor as you dine.

Sure enough, the most populated by locals were places with debris on the grounds! We did note, however, that the cigarette butts were only by exterior tables, not indoors. Owners cleaned up the mess every night after closing, and things were spic-and-span the following morning. I’m not sure how that would fly here in the States…

For lunch one day we tried to get into Bar Alfalfa at the suggestion of our hotel concierge, but it was jammed packed and spilling onto the street, and as you may have guessed, with trash strewn about! Then we noticed Petra across the way and decided to try it. Good choice (and clean as a whistle). Petra, shown below, is a recent opening in Plaza Alfalfa specializing in meats grilled on a hot stone at your table. The space is small and stylish, all warm stone and wood tones. We procured the last table.

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We decided to go the route of sharing a variety of tapas, and we weren’t disappointed. Although our table, being so small and up against a wall, made it a real balancing act to accommodate all of the dishes. In no particular order we got:

IMG_0557Pork Cheeks with Creamy Pumpkin Soup and its Seeds

IMG_0554Fusilli Pasta with Sauce of Iberian Streaky Bacon and Payoyo Cheese

IMG_0553Creamy Rice with Crispy Duck and Fried Crunchy Onion

And perhaps the most fun of the selections was the Grilled Hot Stone complete with sliced presa Ibérica, potatoes, peppers and tossed with a finishing salt. This allowed you to eat at your own pace because the stone stayed piping hot for a long time, and you could cook to whatever degree of doneness suited your fancy.

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Here is a video as Russ grills the meal:

 

Our last evening in Seville found us dining al fresco at Paco-Pepe Bar situated between the Plaza del Salvador and the Plaza de San Francisco, five minutes from the famous Cathedral and close to City Hall.

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The decor is unusual in that their photography is a unique composition of faces, wild animals, monuments and historical moments. The tables and chairs are of their own design and painted with different country motifs. The walls are formed by large open windows and integrate a small living room with the street. But the star of Paco-Pepe Bar is, without a doubt, the terrace—where we sat and could enjoy people watching.

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We weren’t overly hungry and decided to split a few smaller plates. One, the Garlic King Prawns was swimming in a wonderful garlicky extra virgin olive oil just begging to be mopped up. We had at first declined an offer of bread (in many parts of Spain, as here, you are charged extra per person for bread), but then decided to go ahead and get some.

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Our other choice was the Chicken Brochette Moroccan Style which came plated with french fried potatoes (many, many dishes come with some sort of potato in Spain). The poultry was cooked perfectly, still tender and juicy with a slight char.

Time to head our next destination, Rota, a beachside town directly on the Atlantic. But first, a stop at Bodegas Tradición, a centuries-old sherry winery in Jerez founded in 1650, and still owned by the same family! Stay tuned…

A “Taller” Cooking Class—in Spain

It was our third visit to Spain, this time with a stay in Seville, the 4th largest city in the country. While we there only three days, we had a lot on our agenda including a personal guided tour, a flamenco dancing show and a cooking class, the latter of which is the basis of this blog.

cooking school sign

Cooking is one of our shared passions (as is Spain), and we looked forward to a 3-hour group session at the “Taller Andaluz de Cocina” located in the market “Mercado de Triana” which is across the river from where we were staying in old town. (Taller in this case translates to workshop.) Since we arrived early before their doors opened, we had the opportunity to check out all of the vendor stalls brimming with the best quality meats, fruits and vegetables, oils, cheeses and restaurants.

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IMG_0641Clare explains the different types of olive oils. Spain is the world capital of olive groves boasting about 866 million trees.

The class size of 10 included a couple from San Francisco; a mother and son also from California; and couples from both Poland and Britain. Our market guide who gave us a detailed tour of the glorious options was Clare; and our humorous but knowledgeable chef was Juan Pedro. (He mentioned his wife is Australian and he plans to move to that country and open a bakery.)

We don our class aprons and can’t wait to get started! 

IMG_0650Juan Pedro demonstrates the best way to chop an onion.

The menu for the day started with a tasty Salmorejo (below), a purée originating from the Andalusian region of south Spain (where we were). It is made from tomatoes, bread, oil and garlic. Normally, the tomatoes are skinned and then puréed with the other ingredients. The purée is served cold and may be garnished with diced Spanish serrano ham and diced hard-boiled eggs.

IMG_0663Salmorejo shown as a close-up above, and set before us below.
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Next up was Spinach with Chickpeas (Espinacas con Garbanzos) a must-try Andalusian dish. It is a classic tapas dish that’s easy to make and wonderfully versatile. Simple, hearty, vegan, comfort food. As Spaniards would say, this dish is ‘bueno, bonito y barato’, which translates as ‘good, beautiful and cheap’. It couldn’t more true. Like many other peasant recipes from Southern Spain, this dish is a fine example of how to make the most of simple and humble ingredients.

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While all of this is going on, Juan Pedro is also making the star of the show, a Paella Valenciana, or Chicken Paella. Now if you’ve been following us for any length of time, you know Russ is a huge fan of making paellas, but this one was prepared quite differently than he’s ever done or read about.

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Juan demonstrates how to debone a chicken, then has members of the class try to do so on the cut away parts, as Russ does to a leg below.

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Ideally you want to cook the stock from the chicken carcass and bones and leeks for at least 1 1/2 hours. After some initial cooking of the chicken, beans and artichoke hearts, you bring it all together (chicken and veggies) with the chicken stock so that it reaches the top of the rivets on the pan. Turn the heat up, and boil it down until the broth is right below the rivets. Aha, the rivets! Juan explained that they are regulated in paella pans made in Spain so that your paella comes out perfect every time.

Next, pour the rice across the pan in an even line from handle to handle, precisely between the rivets and immediately set an alarm for 18 minutes. The first 5 minutes on high heat, then 5 on medium heat and then 8 minutes on low heat. For the very last 30 seconds, turn the heat up again, drizzle olive oil, place some rosemary on top, and when the time is up, turn the heat off, cover the pan with a clean tea towel and let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes before serving. Check out this stunning video of Juan Pedro when the paella is done:

The most tasty part of the paella is the crunchy one, stuck to the bottom of the pan—and this one didn’t disappoint. While the paella was wonderful, I was a little disappointed in the amount of chicken and beans in my portion, everyone else seemed to get quite a bit. When I mentioned this to Russ after the fact, he said he would have been glad to share some of his—what a guy!

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And the finale of the workshop was the Lemon Sorbet with Cava, a nice refreshing finish to the meal. Here you mix all the ingredients together in a blender and serve in a champagne glass with a straw and a mint leaf for decoration.

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Of course, once class ended, we went back out into the market and purchased some saffron and pimenton. If only we could have figured out a way to smuggle back some of the Jamón Ibérico and good olive oils. Compared to the prices in the States, they were a steal!

Award-Winning Tuscan Beef Stew

For us, there’s nothing like a long, slow braise on a rainy or blustery Sunday afternoon. So, this was an occasion for Big Red, our large Le Creuset dutch oven which has successfully produced our best braised dishes over the years. Several weeks back, Russ came across this Tuscan Beef and Black Pepper Stew (Peposo Alla Fornacina) recipe from 177 Milk Street, a site who’s recipes have kept us more than intrigued.

The simple, generously peppered beef stew known as peposo is said to have been created by 15th century kiln (fornacina) workers in Tuscany, Italy. Chianti is the best-known wine produced in that region and is the traditional choice for peposo, but any dry, medium-bodied red wine works well. Chianti we had on hand, so Chianti we used (and drank).

Make sure to use coarsely ground black pepper, as it has more presence and better coats the beef. This recipe makes a generous amount of stew—about 2 quarts—so serve it one night with polenta; another with mashed potatoes or braised beans. The stew keeps well, so it can be made up to three days ahead and reheated in the microwave or in a saucepan over low.

IMG_1251The first night we served ours with parm-infused polenta and roasted Brussels sprouts and garlic.

Don’t be shy about trimming the fat from the chuck roast. Remove as much as you can, which may mean shedding about 1 pound. Pull the roast apart at the natural seams, then use a sharp knife to trim the fat and cut the pieces into 2-inch chunks.

IMG_1233Because that’s what we had in the freezer, we used 5.5 lbs. of boneless short ribs, which have more consistent marbling and less chunks of fat throughout than chuck roast.

Yes, it’s time-consuming overall, but only about a half-hour of active time. Plus, with a limited number of easy-to-get ingredients, you don’t have to assemble an army of elements to produce an award-winning meal.

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Tuscan Beef with Black Pepper Stew

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Ingredients

  • 6 to 7 pounds boneless beef chuck roast, well trimmed and cut into 2-inch chunks
  • Kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 12 medium garlic cloves, peeled
  • 3 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 2 sprigs rosemary, plus 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
  • 2 cups dry red wine

Directions

  1. Heat the oven to 325°F with a rack in the lower-middle position. Place the beef in a large bowl, sprinkle with 1 tablespoon salt and 2 tablespoons pepper, then toss.
  2. In a large Dutch oven over medium, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until the onion is lightly browned, 7 to 9 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, until the paste begins to brown, 3 to 5 minutes.
     

  3. Nestle the beef and rosemary sprigs in the onion mixture. Add a piece of parchment, large enough to cover the entire pot and push down to surface of meat. Cover and transfer to the oven. Cook for 2 hours.
     

  4. Remove the pot from the oven. Stir, then return to the oven uncovered (toss the parchment). Cook until a knife inserted into a piece of beef meets no resistance, another 1 to 1½ hours.
     

  5. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the meat to a medium bowl; cover with foil.
  6. Set a fine mesh strainer over a fat separator or a medium bowl. Pour the meat juices into the strainer and press on the solids to push them through the strainer; discard any solids left behind.
  7. Pour the wine into the now-empty pot and bring to a boil over medium-high, scraping up any browned bits. Reduce to medium and simmer until the wine is syrupy and reduced to 1 cup, 5 to 7 minutes.
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  8. Meanwhile, if you strained the meat juices into a bowl, use a spoon to skim off and discard the fat from the surface.
  9. Pour the defatted meat juices into the pot. Bring to a simmer over medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened to the consistency of heavy cream, 5 to 7 minutes.
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  10. Return the beef to the pot, add the minced rosemary and stir gently. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is heated, about 5 minutes. Stir in 2 teaspoons pepper, then taste and season with salt.

http://www.lynnandruss.com

Recipe by Diane Unger from 177MilkStreet.com

Mini Pumpkin Loaves with Candied Ginger and Dark Chocolate

Every year around this time, the Pumpkin Bread with Candied Ginger recipe starts racking up hits on my blog. This is an update on that post from five years ago where the end result was two large loaves. I still consider it a perfect autumn recipe that produces a moist, sweet/savory pumpkin bread sure to impress, but I went the extra mile with a few tweaks.

This update makes five mini-loaves which can be gifted, or simply eaten amongst your family/house guests. The photos reflect my experiment in baking mini-loaves versus the larger size so you will see both in the pictures. If you decide to make one larger loaf in a 8/12″ x 4 1/2″ pan (shown below), plus three mini-loaves, keep in mind that you’ll have to cook the larger pan an additional 20-30 minutes to thoroughly bake.

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A quick-to-assemble topping adds texture and keeps the loaves from getting soggy the next day. For the interior, crystallized ginger can be a bear to finely chop, so I use a spice grinder. In doing so, much of the ginger will become almost a powder, which is OK because the spice gets distributed throughout the batter.

As you stir the chocolate chips into the batter, some of them will start to melt lending an attractive swirl effect, while most of them will remain intact for those decadent bites. Don’t pat yourself on the back thinking these are “healthy” because of the pumpkin purée. With all of the sugars, cream cheese and nuts, they are definitely not lo-cal, so eat in moderation (if you can).

One other switch-a-roo I made this time around was substituting pecans for the walnuts—because as we know, The Mr. cannot abide the latter. If you prefer walnuts, go ahead and use them. 

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Mini Pumpkin Loaves with Candied Ginger and Dark Chocolate

  • Servings: 5 mini-loaves
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

INGREDIENTS

Topping

  • 5 Tbsp. packed light brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 2 oz. dark chocolate chips

Bread

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 (15-ounce) can unsweetened pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, cut into 12 pieces
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped fine
  • 1/3 cup minced crystallized ginger
  • 8 oz. dark chocolate chips
  1. FOR THE TOPPING: Using fingers, mix all ingredients (except the dark chocolate chips) together in a small bowl until well combined and topping resembles wet sand; set aside while preparing bread.
  2. FOR THE BREAD: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease five, 5 1/2″ by 3″ mini-loaf pans. (If you have less than five pans, you will have to bake the loaves in separate batches.)
  3. Whisk flour, baking powder, and baking soda together in a medium bowl.
  4. Combine pumpkin puree, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves in large saucepan over medium heat. Cook mixture, stirring constantly, until reduced to 1½ cups, 6 to 8 minutes.
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  5. Remove pot from heat; stir in granulated sugar, brown sugar, oil, and cream cheese until combined. Let mixture stand for 5 minutes. Whisk until no visible pieces of cream cheese remain and mixture is homogeneous.
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  6. Whisk together eggs and buttermilk. Add egg mixture to pumpkin mixture and whisk to combine.
  7. Fold flour mixture into pumpkin mixture until combined (some small lumps of flour are OK, although not nearly as many as shown below).
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  8. Fold pecans, chocolate chips and crystallized ginger into batter. Scrape batter into prepared pans.
  9. Sprinkle topping evenly over top of each loaf. Sprinkle remaining 2 ounces of chips evenly over the five loaves.
  10. Bake until skewer inserted in center of loaf comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Check at 35 minutes. (The larger loaves take anywhere from 60-70 minutes.)
  11. Let breads cool in pans on wire rack for 20 minutes.
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  12. Remove breads from pans and let cool for at least 1 hour. (1 1/2 hours for the larger loaf.) Serve warm or at room temperature.
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Adapted from a recipe from Cook’s Illustrated making 2 large loaves without the chocolate.

Mustard-Shallot Bone-In Pork Chops

For a thick, bone-in pork chop, pan-searing is a great cooking method—the high heat seals in the pork’s juices. The shallot-mustard sauce was not only fabulous on our meat, but enhanced our sides of steamed broccolini and baked sweet potato too.

You may note that the “time” takes 3 hours, but don’t be alarmed. The seasoned chops sit in the fridge uncovered for 2 hours, then at room temperature for another 30 minutes before you start cooking them. The actual hands-on time is 30 minutes or less.

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Mustard-Shallot Bone-In Pork Chops

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 4 bone-in pork loin chops, 1 1/4 to 1 1/2-inches thick
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • ¼ cup finely chopped shallot (about 2 medium)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard
  • Chopped fresh Italian parsley

Directions

  1. Season pork generously with salt and pepper. Place on a plate. Chill, uncovered, for 2 hours. Remove and let stand 30 minutes.
  2. Heat a heavy 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. To check when hot enough, add a large drop of water (1/8 teaspoon) to the skillet. When it rolls around the pan like a bead of mercury it is ready. This will take 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat; add oil. Swirl to coat bottom of skillet.
  4. Return to medium-high heat. Add 2 pork chops. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes or until a crust forms (be patient; the pork will release when it’s ready to be turned).
  5. Turn and cook for 5 to 7 minutes more or until done at 145°F.
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  6. Remove meat from skillet to a plate; cover loosely and keep warm. Repeat with other two pork chops. Remove skillet from heat.
  7. Carefully add wine and shallots to skillet (mixture will spatter). Return to heat.
  8. Bring to boiling, stirring to scrape up browned bits. Boil gently, uncovered, for 8 to 10 minutes or until reduced by about half and slightly thickened.
  9. Remove from heat. Whisk in butter and mustard.
  10. Spoon sauce over pork to serve. Sprinkle with parsley.
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    We served ours with a baked sweet potato and some steamed broccolini. The mustard-shallot sauce was wonderful on the veggies too!
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http://www.lynnandruss.com

Recipe adapted from one found in Better Homes & Garden Magazine Colleen Weeden

Think Outside the Bun.

Growing up, I remember when just about everybody used Lipton Onion Soup Mix in a variety of ways. First of course, was just making soup; but I also remember the infamous chip dip and meatloaf mix among other recipes. In this French Onion Hamburger Steaks with Potatoes and Gravy recipe, the savory flavor of onion soup mix makes a great match for simple ground beef.

The following recipe serves 4, but I only cooked 2 patties for the both of us, however I made all of the gravy with mushrooms. If you’re going to make all 4 burgers, seriously consider doubling the sauce. Another change was using a cast iron skillet as opposed to a nonstick pan which results in a crispier crust on the exterior of the meat.

We are big on bold flavors, so to the meat mix I added the entire packet of onion/soup mix (which wasn’t actually much more than 2 tablespoons noted in the Cook’s Country recipe); and incorporated some Worcestershire sauce. To our Yukon Gold potato medley, I switched out the melted butter for olive oil (which we think provides a crispier exterior, and creamier interior) plus a bit of garlic and onion powders.

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The flavors bring back a flash from my formative years…

French Onion Hamburger Steaks with Potatoes and Gravy

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1½ pounds small Yukon Gold potatoes, unpeeled, halved
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. onion powder
  • 1½ pounds 85 percent lean ground beef
  • ½ cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 packet Lipton Onion Soup and Dip Mix
  • 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, trimmed and sliced thin
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh chives

Directions

  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Toss potatoes, olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder together in a large bowl. Pour potatoes onto a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper and flip potatoes cut side down. Roast until potatoes are tender and well browned, about 30 minutes.
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  3. Meanwhile, combine beef, panko, Worcestershire sauce and soup mix in bowl. Form mixture into four 4-inch-diameter patties, about ½ inch thick.
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  4. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in 12-inch cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Cook patties until well browned and meat registers 130 degrees, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to platter and tent with foil.
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  5. Add mushrooms to now-empty skillet and cook over medium-high heat until well browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute.
     

  6. Stir in broth, bring to boil, and cook until thickened, about 1 minute.
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  7. Off heat, stir in remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Spoon sauce over steaks and sprinkle with chives. Serve potatoes with steaks.
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http://www.lynnandruss.com

Recipe adapted from one found on Cook’s Country

Chicken AND Vegetarian Stir-Fry for Six

Not sure why, but a stir-fry never comes to mind when I’m thinking of what to serve guests. Some of our grown children (and a significant other) were coming for Sunday supper and one of them adheres to a plant-based diet. This time stir-fry did pop in my head because I knew we could easily whip up a bunch of vegetables, put some aside for the non-meat eater, then add chicken to the remainder.

Of course, what’s a dinner party without a few appetizers to get you going? Here we took a major shortcut and purchased pre-made dumplings and sushi, both veggie and fish. But The Mr. did make a slightly-spicy Japanese Gyoza Dipping Sauce from scratch (recipe follows).

IMG_1120Both the pork bun dumplings and the green veggie dumplings were pan-fried for a crisp exterior.
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We had a mix of three varieties of sushi that included vegan, tuna and shrimp rolls; one wrapped in brown rice.
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Pour Gyoza dipping sauce into small individual little bowls.

When you have cooked all of the veggies and they are keeping warm in a covered bowl, then it’s time to stir-fry the chicken in the wok. At this point, select a fry pan big enough to accommodate enough vegetables for those eating plant-based and put it on a burner over medium heat. Once the chicken is cooked through, divide the veggies between the wok and hot fry pan. Divide the sauce accordingly, stir and let thicken for a minute or two.

There were even some leftovers for our guests to take home for lunch the next day…

Chicken AND Vegetarian Stir-Fry

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

For the Sauce: (Yields 1 cup)

  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh ginger, chopped fine
  • 2 tsp. sesame oil
  • 4 Tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth or water
  • 2 Tbsp. sriracha
  • 4 Tbsp. sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. cornstarch

For the Stir-Fry:

  • 3 Tbsp. peanut oil, divided
  • 2 1/4 lbs. boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1 bunch asparagus, cut on diagonal into 1 1/2″ lengths
  • 3 bell peppers (red, yellow, orange), seeded and cut into 1″ cubes
  • 2 bunches scallions, whites and light green cut on diagonal into 1″ lengths; dark greens finely sliced for garnish
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, roughly chopped for garnish

Directions

  1. Make rice per package directions.
  2. Combine all ingredients for the sauce in a small bowl or Tupperware and mix well, set aside.
  3. Heat a flat-bottomed wok on high heat; when very hot add 1 tablespoon peanut oil and swirl in pan.
  4. Add asparagus and scallion lengths to wok. Stir-fry for 2 minutes until slightly charred on outside. Place into a large bowl and cover with tinfoil.
  5. Swirl another tablespoon of oil into wok, then add the bell peppers. Stir-fry continuously for 2-3 minutes until some are lightly browned. Move to same bowl with asparagus and recover.
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  6. Add final tablespoon of oil to wok, then put chicken pieces in one layer without disturbing for one minute (more time if needed) to get browned.
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  7. Divide the cooked veggies back into the wok with the chicken and the remainder into another hot fry pan (quantity depends how many are eating vegetarian).
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  8. Add the pre-made sauce to both the veggie and meat stir-fries, mix and let thicken slightly—about a minute and serve over steamed rice.
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  9. Garnish with chopped basil and/or scallion greens.
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http://www.lynnandruss.com

Gyoza Sauce

  • Servings: 8-12
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

Directions

Whisk together the rice vinegar, soy sauce, red pepper flakes, garlic, ginger, green onions, and sesame oil in a bowl; allow to sit 15 minutes before serving. Store in refrigerator up to 1 week.

http://www.lynnandruss.com

Red Curry-Lime Sweet Potato Soup

Yes, this warm, cozy fall recipe is a great way to use up some of your Thanksgiving leftovers, but why wait around until after T-Day hoping you just might have enough leftover mashed sweet potatoes on hand? Go ahead and bake a few now before making this luscious, velvety soup. Then when you’ve got about a half hour, you can whip it together and have it ready to eat in no time.

I think using a homemade chicken broth instead of water adds additional depth of flavor, but if you’re sticking to vegetarian, a veggie broth or water will do just fine. You can also substitute cilantro in place of basil as a garnish if that’s what you prefer.

Want a heartier meal? Grilled Swiss cheese sandwiches make great companions. We made ours from Ezekiel 100% sprouted whole grain bread slices (no flour, no gluten). My go-to for an added flavor punch is a schmear of Dijon mustard. Additionally, although I didn’t have any at the time, a few slices of tomato in that sandwich would take it over the top.

Next time you’re serving sweet potatoes for dinner, cook up a few extra and put them aside, and you’ll be ahead of the game in making this soup again—because, yes, you’ll want to.

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Red Curry-Lime Sweet Potato Soup

  • Servings: Yields 9 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 medium leeks, white and light green parts chopped and washed
  • Coarse salt
  • 2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
  • 4 cups mashed sweet potatoes (about 3 large)
  • 1 13-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
  • 3 cups homemade chicken broth (or veggie broth or water)
  • 1 lime, zested and juiced
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil, for garnish
  • Extra virgin olive oil, for garnish

Directions

  1. If you don’t have left over sweet potatoes on hand, bake several in a 400° oven for about one hour until soft and tender. Let cool slightly, then peel and mash. (This can be done a day or two ahead.)
  2. In a 4- to 5-quart saucepan heat 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil over medium. Add leeks and a pinch of salt. Cover and cook until tender, about 8 minutes. Stir in red curry paste. Increase heat to medium-high. Cook and stir 1 minute.
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  3. Stir in sweet potatoes, coconut milk, 3 cups broth/water, and 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to boiling; reduce heat.
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  4. Simmer, covered, 10 minutes or until heated through, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Let cool slightly.
  5. Using an immersion blender, blend until smooth.
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  6. Stir in lime zest and juice; heat through.
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  7. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with black pepper, and top with fresh basil.
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http://www.lynnandruss.com

Recipe adapted from one found in Better Homes & Garden Magazine

French Chicken in a Pot

French Chicken in a Pot shares some similarities with braised chicken—both are cooked in covered pots in low-temperature ovens to yield tender, flavorful meat. Unlike braising, however, where lots of liquid is added to the pot, this chicken is placed in a dry pot and left to cook in nothing more than the essence of its own juices. The amount of incredibly yummy natural jus that comes out while cooking is amazing considering it isn’t braised in liquid.

The amount of jus will vary depending on the size of the chicken; season it with about 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice for every 1/4 cup. FYI, the cooking times in the recipe are for a 4 1/2- to 5-pound bird. A 3 1/2- to 4 1/2-pound chicken will take about an hour to cook, and a 5- to 6-pound bird will take close to 2 hours.

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With only a handful of veggies, herbs and spices, this is one of the simplest dinners you can prepare. Next time I will scatter the onion, celery, garlic, bay leaf, and rosemary around chicken AFTER I flip the bird so that they don’t scorch. The original recipe has you add them when you first put the chicken breast side down (as seen in my photo below), but I indicated otherwise in the directions.

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French Chicken in a Pot

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1 whole roasting chicken (4 1/2 to 5 pounds), giblets removed and discarded, wings tucked under back (see note)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt or 1 teaspoon table salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped medium (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 small stalk celery, chopped medium (about 1/4 cup)
  • 6 medium garlic cloves, peeled and trimmed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 medium sprig fresh rosemary
  • ½ – 1 teaspoon juice from 1 lemon

Directions

  1. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 250 degrees. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium heat until just smoking. Add chicken breast-side down. Cook until breast is lightly browned, about 5 minutes.
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  3. Using a wooden spoon inserted into cavity of bird, flip chicken breast-side up and cook until chicken; scatter onion, celery, garlic, bay leaf, and rosemary around chicken. Cook until well-browned, 6 to 8 minutes.
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  4. Remove Dutch oven from heat; place large sheet of foil over pot and cover tightly with lid. Transfer pot to oven and cook until instant-read thermometer registers 160 degrees when inserted in thickest part of breast and 175 degrees in thickest part of thigh, 80 to 110 minutes.
  5. Transfer chicken to carving board, tent with foil, and rest 20 minutes.
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  6. Meanwhile, strain chicken juices from pot through fine-mesh strainer into fat separator, pressing on solids to extract liquid; discard solids (you should have about 3/4 cup juices).
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  7. Allow liquid to settle 5 minutes, then pour into saucepan and set over low heat.
  8. Carve chicken, adding any accumulated juices to saucepan. Stir lemon juice into jus to taste. Serve chicken, passing jus at table.
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    IMG_1225

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Recipe from Cooks Illustrated