Archive by Author

VIRTUAL DINNER PARTY #54 MIDDLE EASTERN FATTOUSH

INGREDIENTS:

3 large pita bread rounds

½ C cucumber (peeled, seeded and diced)

2 C grape tomatoes (halved)

¼ small red onion (slivered)

1 clove garlic, minced

3 T fresh mint, chopped

3 T fresh parsley or cilantro, chopped

1/3 C high quality olive oil

Juice of 1 lemon

1 t ground sumac (optional)

2 C arugula

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

METHOD:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Place the pita rounds on a baking sheet and bake until lightly browned and crisp. Alternately, place pita in toaster and toast briefly.  When cool enough to handle, break into irregular, bite-sized pieces. Set aside.

In a large salad bowl, place tomatoes, red onion and cucumbers.  Add 1 ½ t salt and gently toss to combine.  Allow vegetables to rest and release their juice (this should take about 15 minutes.) Pour the liquid from the bowl into a measuring cup and set aside – you’ll use it later in the vinaigrette.

Make the vinaigrette:  Whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, minced garlic and sumac (if using.) Gradually whisk in 1/3 C of reserved tomato/cucumber water. Taste for salt and pepper. Set aside.

Add arugula, mint and parsley to the bowl with the tomatoes, red onion and cucumber. Pour in half of the vinaigrette and toss lightly.  Add the toasted pita pieces and more of the vinaigrette and toss again.  Note: I prefer a drier fattoush salad so I use less of the vinaigrette. Using more of the vinaigrette will allow the pita to soak up more of the flavorful dressing but makes them softer and your salad will have less textural contrast. 

serves 2

VIRTUAL DINNER PARTY #53 ROASTED GARBANZO BEAN AND ZUCCHINI GYROS

SAUCE INGREDIENTS:

1 C reduced fat Greek yogurt

3 T tahini

2 t sesame oil

2 T chopped fresh dill, mint, parsley (any combination)

1 t salt

Pinch of sugar

GYRO INGREDIENTS:

1 can garbanzo beans, drained

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 T grated ginger

2 t cumin

2 t paprika

2 t turmeric

1 t cayenne (more or less or to taste)

2 T olive oil

1 small zucchini, diced in ½” cubes

2 pita rounds, toasted or warmed on grill

Garnish with thinly sliced cucumber, halved cherry tomatoes, thinly sliced pickled red onion, cilantro, or arugula

METHOD:

Prepare the dressing: Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until well combined.  Set aside.

Prepare the filling: Preheat oven to 375 degrees or heat grill to medium.

Place the drained garbanzo beans in a large bowl. Add spices and olive oil and toss to combine.  Use a fork or a potato masher to crush the beans slightly, leaving about ¼ of them whole (you are aiming for a chunky, jagged texture.) Add cubed zucchini and toss again and then turn mixture out onto a foil-lined rimmed sheet pan. Taste for salt and pepper.

Roast garbanzo/zucchini mixture for 15-18 minutes until slightly charred and heated through. During the last few minutes of roasting warm pita breads on grill grates or in oven.

Spread reserved sesame yogurt sauce on pita and divide the garbanzo bean mixture between them.  Top with sliced cucumber, tomatoes, arugula and red onion. Fold burrito style and wrap in parchment paper or paper toweling for easier eating.  Serve any extra sauce alongside.

Serves 2 generously

VIRTUAL DINNER PARTY #52 (CAN YOU BELIEVE IT’S BEEN ONE YEAR?) CHINESE STYLE DAN DAN NOODLES

INGREDIENTS:

4 oz                         ground pork, chicken or turkey

2 cloves                   garlic, minced

1 ½ t                        fresh ginger, grated

1 T                           brown sugar

1 T                           soy sauce

½ #                          spaghetti

2 T                           sesame oil

3 T                           low sodium soy sauce

1 ½ t                        sesame seeds

1 T                           hoisin sauce

3 T                           tahini paste

2 T                           peanut butter

2 t                            granulated sugar

2 T                           unseasoned rice wine vinegar

1 T                           chili garlic sauce (or more to taste)

½ – ¾ C                    hot water

1 bunch                   scallion, sliced thin on bias

2 T                           peanuts, chopped

Pinch                       ground Sichuan peppercorns

3 T                           dried crushed red pepper

¼ C                          vegetable oil

METHOD:

Prepare hot chili oil: Heat oil in a small skillet until barely smoking. Remove from heat and add crushed chili flakes and Sichuan pepper. Set aside and allow to cool completely. Strain and store in a clean glass container under refrigeration.

Prepare Sauce: In a medium bowl whisk together soy sauce, sesame seeds, hoisin, tahini, peanut butter, vinegar, sugar, chili garlic sauce and hot water until smooth.  Start with ½ C hot water adding additional water only if needed to achieve the consistency of heavy cream. Set aside.

Cook Noodles:  Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Add noodles and cook until tender.  Drain and toss with sesame oil. Set aside.

Cook pork: Sauté garlic and ginger in a medium skillet over medium high heat until fragrant.  Add ground pork and cook through until pork is no longer pink.  Add brown sugar and soy sauce and cook until liquid has evaporated and sugar caramelizes the pork slightly.

Add sauce to skillet and warm slightly and then toss with drained pasta.  Top with sliced scallion and chopped peanuts serving reserved chili oil on side.

serves 2

VIRTUAL DINNER PARTY #51 PROSCIUTTO WRAPPED DATES WITH WALNUTS AND GOAT CHEESE aka DEVILS ON HORSEBACK and ‘OUT OF THE BLUE’ COCKTAIL

INGREDIENTS:

¼ C goat cheese, softened

2 T finely chopped walnuts, toasted

1 T parsley, minced

1 T lemon zest, minced

1 t scallion, minced

10 Medjool dates, pitted

5 slices prosciutto

METHOD:

Combine goat cheese, walnuts, parsley, lemon zest and scallion for the filling. Taste for salt and pepper. Fill dates with 1 t of the filling and wrap with halved prosciutto slice. Secure prosciutto to date with a toothpick.

Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and refrigerate for 30 minutes or until ready to bake.

Preheat oven to 375. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until cheese is melted and prosciutto is crisp.

OUT OF THE BLUE COCKTAIL

INGREDIENTS

¼ C water

¼ C sugar

Pinch of sea salt

Handful of blueberries or blackberries

¼ C fresh squeezed lemon juice

¼ C brandy

1 bottle ginger beer

Prepare simple syrup – heat water, sugar, berries and salt in a sauce pan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until berries burst. Stir well to combine flavors and to be sure sugar is completely dissolved. Stir in lemon juice and cool to room temperature. Strain before using.

Prepare Cocktail – Combine brandy and strained simple syrup together. Just before serving add ginger beer and serve over ice garnished with a lemon twist.

Enjoy

VIRTUAL DINNER PARTY #50 STUFFED SANDWICH LOAF

INGREDIENTS:

2 t active dry yeast

¼ C warm water

1 C  milk, scalded

1 T sugar

1 T melted butter

1 egg

1 t salt

2 ½ – 3 C bread flour

Leftovers from cleaning out your refrigerator *see above

METHOD:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Prepare an egg wash with 1 egg and 2 T water. Set aside.


For the Dough:

Heat milk and butter in a small saucepan over medium high heat until tiny bubbles appear around the sides of the pan. At this point the milk should be around 180 degrees and the butter should be melted. Remove from heat and cool slightly.

In a large bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with dough hook, combine yeast, warm water, cooled milk, sugar, and egg. Mix lightly to incorporate ingredients. 

Add half of the flour and mix well until dough is combined and no dry flour remains.

Add salt and enough of the remaining flour to form a soft but cohesive ball that clears the sides of the workbowl.

Turn dough out a lightly floured surface and knead, adding additional flour to form a smooth, elastic ball.

Shape dough into a ball and place in an oiled bowl. Lightly spray the top with pan spray.  Cover with plastic film and let rise at room temperature for 1 ½  hours.

Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface flatten into a rough rectangular shape. Using a rolling pin, roll dough into a 10” x 13” rectangle with short side parallel to counter.

For the Filling:

Spread condiments of choice down center of dough taking care to leave a wide boarder around edges. Top with cheese, meats, cooked vegetables or grains. Brush edges of dough with a egg wash and fold bottom and top edges over filling ingredients. Then fold right side over the ingredients taking care to completely cover them. Brush with additional egg wash and fold left side over the prepared loaf. Pinch edges lightly to seal.

Transfer loaf to parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 30-40 minutes until golden brown and cooked through.

Remove from oven and cool for 10-15 minutes before serving with additional condiments on the side.

VIRTUAL DINNER PARTY #49 QUICK SHREDDED CHICKEN TAMALES

INGREDIENTS:

1 C instant masa harina (available at Harmon’s, Red Mountain and 3 Amigos)

½ t baking powder

½ t salt

1-2 t diced chipotle en adobo

¼ C water

¼ C solid vegetable shortening

½ C + 2 T chicken stock (vegetable stock may be substituted)

1 C shredded cooked chicken

1 ½ C prepared salsa verde, divided (see recipe below)

½ C shredded cheddar or jack cheese

½ 8oz bag dry corn husks soaked in warm water for 2 hours OR substitute six 8 inch square sheets of parchment paper.

Chopped cilantro, sour cream, pico de gallo and hot sauce for serving.

METHOD:

*Please keep in mind that this is a streamlined method for making tamales. I use the food processor first to make the green tomatillo sauce and then to make the tamale dough. I folded my tamales in the traditional corn husks, but parchment paper can also be used.

Prepare the salsa verde: Combine one 14.4 oz. can tomatillos (drained), 1 clove garlic, ½ jalapeno pepper, ¼ chopped white onion, and 1 bunch cilantro in food processor.  Process until well combined and smooth. Heat 1 T oil in a sauce pan and add pureed tomatillos and cook until slightly thickened.  Remove from heat and add ½ t salt. Set aside.

Prepare the masa: Pulse the masa harina, baking powder, salt and chipotle in the work bowl of your food processor. Add the vegetable shortening and with quick, short bursts combine the ingredients. Add the water and pulse briefly. (Mixture should resemble coarse cornmeal.) Then with machine running drizzle in the stock and process until evenly blended but not over processed. The dough should be soft and tacky but not overly sticky and wet. You may need to add more stock or masa harina to achieve the proper consistency.

Finish and steam the tamales: Fill the bottom of a steamer basket with about 2” of water.  Line the bottom of the insert with a layer of crumpled corn husks or parchment paper.

Place a corn husk or piece of parchment on your work surface.  Pinch off a golf ball sized piece of the masa and with wet hands, flatten the dough to approximately 3 inches square and ¼” thick.  Spread a bit of the sauce, shredded chicken and cheese lengthwise down the center of the dough. *For a vegetarian option black beans may be used in place of the chicken. Take care not to overfill the tamale.

Fold the husk (or parchment) together until the edges overlap and the masa and filling are completely enclosed by the husk or parchment. Fold the bottom edge of the husk or parchment up, leaving one end open.  Repeat with remaining ingredients.  Stand the filled tamales in the steamer basket with the open ends up.

Cover the tamales with a layer of remaining corn husks or parchment and a few sheets of paper toweling. Cover the pot with a tight fitting lid.  Steam the tamales 30-40 minutes.  Add water to the pan as needed to be sure it doesn’t run dry.  Tip:  I add 1 T of vegetable oil to the water. If the water boils away, I hear the oil sizzling on the bottom of the pot to let me know to add more water. (Eva strongly disagreed with my idea here – but between us, I think it’s genius.)

To Serve: Open the husks to reveal the tamales. Drizzle with additional sauce, pico de gallo, sour cream and cilantro.

Serves 2 with leftovers

VIRTUAL DINNER PARTY #48 ROASTED CAULIFLOWER STEAKS WITH MEDITERRANEAN RED PEPPER RELISH

INGREDIENTS:

2-4           Cauliflower steaks cut 1 ½” thick *see Chef’s notes

1 ea.        clove garlic, minced

¼ t           crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

½ t           anchovy paste

3 T           olive oil (divided)

2              red bell peppers, roasted, peeled and cut into ¼” dice

¼ C          kalamata olives, pitted and halved

1 T           white wine vinegar

2 T           capers, minced

3 T           fresh basil, chopped fine

METHOD:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Prepare cauliflower steaks as directed and arrange in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle both sides with 2T olive oil and season generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Roast steaks until fork tender, flipping halfway through, until deeply caramelized and crispy around the edges, about 20-25 minutes.

Meanwhile, sweat garlic, red pepper flakes (if using) and anchovy in 1 T olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat until garlic is fragrant but not browned. Remove from heat and add roasted peppers, vinegar, kalamata olives and capers.  Once cooled, stir in basil. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.

Spoon relish over hot steaks and serve.

Serves 2*

*I like to serve one cauliflower steak per person as a side dish and 2 as an entrée portion.

  Any leftover relish can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.

ROASTED RED PEPPERS

With this technique peppers are roasted or charred to remove the skin, but in the process they develop a smoky, rich flavor that is absolutely delicious.  Once roasted and peeled, they keep well in the refrigerator, covered in olive oil, for up to 2 weeks. Any type or color of pepper may be substituted for this preparation.

METHOD:

To roast over gas flame: Turn your burner on to the highest setting and place the pepper directly on the open flame. Using tongs turn pepper periodically until charred and blackened all over.

To roast in the oven: Preheat oven to 400 degree. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Toss pepper in small amount of olive oil and place on baking sheet.  Roast in oven until well blackened. This should take about 30-35 minutes.

Remove charred pepper and place in a bowl and cover with plastic film. This will allow pepper to steam and will aid in removing the skin. Let rest for 30 minutes or until cool enough to handle. Holding the pepper over the bowl, carefully remove the blackened skin.  Take care to catch the juice from the pepper. One strained, it is a flavorful addition to the sauce if you’d like to add it. DO NOT wash your peppers under running water to remove the charred skin.  You will wash away the flavor you’ve developed from the charring. 

Note: I don’t worry about having a little bit of the charred skin left on the pepper.  I think it adds significant flavor and I like the rustic look of it.

VIRTUAL DINNER PARTY #47 QUICK PASTA CARBONARA

INGREDIENTS:

3 egg yolks

1 whole egg

¼ C finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus extra for serving

½ # spaghetti

1 T olive oil

4 oz. pancetta, diced

2 T parsley, minced

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

METHOD:

In a medium bowl, mix the egg yolks with the whole egg until well combined.  Add ¼  C cheese and set aside.

Bring 6 C of salted water to boil in a large pot.  Cook the pasta until al dente. Drain the pasta in a colander reserving ½ – ¾ C of the starchy cooking water. Note:  Standard practice for cooking pasta is 4-6 quarts salted water to #1 pasta. Abundant water allows the water to return to a boil faster after the pasta is added and allows the noodles to move around in the water so they don’t stick together. However, here we are using less water because we want the reserved cooking water to be extra starchy.  This will give our sauce extra body and a more silky mouth feel. ***Just be sure to stir the cooking pasta regularly.

While the pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in a skillet. Add diced pancetta and cook until crisp and fat is rendered.

Once the pancetta and pasta are cooked, toss the still hot pasta and pancetta together in a large bowl. Add the egg mixture and a little more than half of the reserved cooking water. Toss vigorously until the pasta is coated with the creamy, silky sauce. You may need to add more cooking water if pasta seems dry. Adjust S and P.

Serve pasta in shallow bowls, sprinkled with parsley, extra cheese  and coarsely ground black pepper.

Note: If you can’t find pancetta, thick cut bacon makes a good sub.

Serves 2 generously

VIRTUAL DINNER PARTY #46 HOT CHOCOLATE FONDUE

Ganache Ingredients:

8 oz. dark chocolate, broken into small pieces

¼ C of light brown sugar

1 C heavy whipping cream

Optional ingredients: Cinnamon stick, herbs, chili powder, liquor, orange zest, sea salt

Dipping Treat Ingredients:

Seasonal Fruits and Berries

Mini Cookies

Dried Fruits

Brownies cut into cubes

Method:

Place the cream and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.  Simmer for 1 minute. Add flavoring of choice and allow to infuse for 2 minutes. Add the chopped chocolate to a bowl and pour the warm cream over the chocolate.  Whisk until the mixture is silky, smooth and shiny. Pour the ganache into a bowl and serve with dipping treats of your choice. 

Ganache may be made ahead of time and refrigerate until needed.  To reheat, warm on low power in microwave.

VIRTUAL DINNER PARTY #45 SHEET PAN SHRIMP TACOS


INGREDIENTS:

2 C pineapple, peeled, cored and cut into ½” chunks

2 T olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 t  Worcestershire sauce

1 t granulated sugar

1-2 T Siracha (more or less to your taste) *Siracha is a smooth & spicy red chili paste in  

the squeeze bottle with the rooster label and green top found in all grocery stores

1 clove            garlic

3 T cilantro, chopped

Juice of 1 lime

1 # shrimp, peeled and deveined

6 corn tortillas, warmed

Avocado, red onion, cilantro, lime and sour cream for serving

Special Equipment – 1 heavy duty rimmed sheet pan

METHOD:

Heat broiler with oven rack in position for broiling.

Toss pineapple in 1 T olive oil on sheet pan and arrange in a single layer on half of rimmed baking pan. Broil until lightly charred around the edges, 6-8 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine shrimp with remaining 2T olive oil, Worcestershire, sugar, garlic, and Siracha. Toss until shrimp are evenly coated. Remove sheet pan from broiler and turn pineapple chunks over using a metal spatula.  Drain marinade from shrimp and place in a single layer on the empty half of the baking sheet. Broil until shrimp are cooked through and lightly charred, 1-2 minutes. Take care not to overcook the shrimp.  The sheet pan will be smoking hot when you add the shrimp, so they will cook from the bottom as well as from the broiler heat above.  It should only take a minute or two.

Remove from broiler and top with a squeeze of lime juice and chopped cilantro.  Serve with avocado, cilantro, lime wedges, and warmed corn tortillas.  Additional toppings – pickled red onion, sour cream and pico de gallo may also be used if desired.

Serves 2 generously