VIRTUAL DINNER PARTY # 61 PASTA WITH BUTTERNUT SQUASH, THYME AND PARMESAN

INGREDIENTS:

¼ #      pancetta or bacon, cut into ¼ inch pieces

1 T       freshthyme, minced or 2 t dried

2 ea.     cloves garlic, minced

1          small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into ½” dice (about 3 cups)

1 T       unsalted butter

1 ea.    shallot, minced

pinch   crushed red pepper flake (or to taste)

pinch   granulated sugar and fresh nutmeg

1 ½ C   chicken or vegetable stock

½ #      bucatini pasta (or pasta of your choice)

¼ C      parmesan cheese, grated

1 ea.    lemon juice

2 T       walnut, toasted and coarsely chopped

1 T       fresh parsley, chopped

Salt and pepper

METHOD:

Cook pancetta or bacon in a medium skillet until crisp.  Add thyme and sauté for about 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add garlic and minced shallot and cook, stirring occasionally until softened.  Pour off flavored oil.  Scrape pancetta/thyme mixture from pan and reserve. Add oil back to skillet and heat until shimmering. Add butternut squash and cook until squash is slightly browned and caramelized.  (It is important not to stir the squash too much during this process.  You want to get nice, even browning on the squash but maintain the texture and shape of the cubes.) Add nutmeg, sugar, crushed reds, and butter to the pan. Cook until butter has melted and spices are fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add stock, lower heat and simmer until squash is just barely tender. 

Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and reserve 1 C of starchy pasta cooking water. Add cooked and drained pasta back to skillet. Stir in parmesan, lemon juice, and reserved pancetta mixture. Stir gently to combine adding only enough pasta cooking water to achieve desired consistency. Taste for salt and pepper. Transfer to serving bowls and sprinkle with chopped parsley and toasted walnuts and additional parmesan if desired.

Serves 2 generously 

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VIRTUAL DINNER PARTY # 60 SUMMER VEGETABLE CIOPPINO

BROTH INGREDIENTS:

1 T       olive oil

1 sm    onion, chopped

2 ea      cloves garlic, minced

2 t        dried thyme

2 t        dried basil

2 t        dried oregano

1  t       crushed red pepper flake (or to taste)

1 C       white wine or vegetable stock

  1. C    Clamato juice (extra can be used for cocktails like Micheladas or Bloody Caesar’s)

1 ea     14.5 oz candiced tomatoes, in juice

1 ea     bay leaf

Salt and pepper

STEW INGREDIENTS:

8 oz.    cod, halibut or other firm white fish, cut into 1” pieces

½ #      shrimp, thawed and peeled with tails intact

¼ #      pasteurized crab meat (available in refrigerated seafood section at Costco)

1 ¼ C   diced zucchini, fennel, cherry tomato (any combination)

1 can   drained and rinsed garbanzo beans     

2 T       unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

3 T       chopped fresh parsley,

            Juice of ½ lemon

METHOD:

Heat olive oil in a medium sized saucepan over high heat until shimmering.  Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally until softened.  Add garlic, thyme, basil, oregano, and red pepper flakes (if using.) Cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Take care not to let garlic brown.  Add wine and cook until reduced by half.  Add canned tomatoes, Clamato, bay leaf and 1 C water. Reduce heat and to simmer, cover and cook 8 minutes.

Remove bay leaf and submerge cod in broth. Cover pot and simmer for 2 minutes. Add shrimp, garbanzo beans and diced vegetables. Cover pot again and simmer until shrimp and cod are cooked through (about 3 minutes more.) Stir in butter piece and season with salt and pepper. Divide among bowls and top with a generous spoonful of crab, chopped parsley and a squeeze of lemon.

Serves 2 -4

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VIRTUAL DINNER PARTY #59 HALIBUT WITH ORANGES, TOMATOES AND OLIVES

INGREDIENTS:

2 T olive oil

1 small red onion, slivered

1 large clove minced garlic

1 large, vine ripened tomato + juice (or substitute ½ C canned diced tomatoes and juice)

¼ – ½ C dry white wine  ***NOTE you may need to add extra if your tomato is not super juicy

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Large handful pitted olives – Castelvetrano, Kalamata or Nicoise

1 zest and juice of small orange, clementine or ‘Cutie’

2  4 oz halibut fillets

3 T fresh herbs, minced

METHOD:

In a small sauté pan, heat olive oil until shimmering.  Add onions and garlic and sauté until onions are just beginning to brown.

Add chopped tomato with its juice, wine, the zest and juice of 1 orange,  and the olives. Reduce heat and simmer 2 minutes.

Lay the fillets over the tomato mixture and cover pan.  Simmer over moderate heat for 3-4 minutes or until fish is cooked through.  Remove from heat and immediately remove lid.  Place fish over starch of your choice and spoon some of the onion/tomato mixture on top. Sprinkle with fresh herbs and serve.

Serves 2  

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VIRTUAL DINNER PARTY #58 PAN BAGNAT WITH ROASTED PEPPERS AND BALSAMIC VINAIGRETTE

VINAIGRETTE INGREDIENTS:

¼ c fresh basil leaves, lightly packed

2 T balsamic vinegar

2 t Dijon mustard

1 clove garlic, minced

¼ C + 1 T olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

SANDWICH INGREDIENTS:

¼ C Nicoise or Kalamata olives, coarsely chopped

2 T capers, drained and coarsely chopped

2 chiabatta rolls – baguette or other crusty rolls may be substituted

2 roasted red bell peppers, peeled * how to video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vm5s65Xi0Sc

3 hardboiled eggs, peeled and sliced

½ cucumber, sliced thin

1 medium tomato, sliced in ¼” slices

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

METHOD:

Make the vinaigrette: Combine basil, Dijon, vinegar and minced garlic in a deep bowl. Slowly drizzle oil in while whisking vigorously. Alternately, combine all ingredients in a small jar with a tight fitting lid and shake until vinaigrette is emulsified. If using an immersion blend, blend until thoroughly combined. Set aside.

Make the olive caper mixture: Combine chopped olives and capers in a small bowl. Set aside.

Cut rolls in half and lightly toast or grill. Drizzle both sides of the rolls with half of the vinaigrette taking care to spread it evenly across the cut surface.  Top the bottom half with a layer of roasted peppers, olive/caper mixture the remaining vinaigrette and sliced eggs. Top with sliced tomatoes, cucumbers and a light sprinkling of salt and pepper.  Add the top bun and lightly press down.  Wrap completed sandwich tightly in plastic film and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours. 

Serves 2

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VIRTUAL DINNER PARTY #57 WHOLE ROASTED ‘EVERYTHING BAGLE’ BROCCOLI

INGREDIENTS:

 Everything Bagel Spice Mix

1 T each dried garlic, dried onion flakes, poppy seeds and toasted sesame seeds

1 t kosher salt

Topping Mix:

½ C Greek yogurt

1 T olive oil

1 T lemon juice + 1 t lemon zest

1 clove garlic, minced

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 medium head broccoli

Goat Cheese Sauce

3oz goat cheese

1 T olive oil

2 T whole, skim, 2% milk (you may need to add more milk to get the sauce consistency you like)

½ clove garlic, minced

2 t fresh parsley, minced

2 t fresh dill, minced

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat grill to 425 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. *Note: Grill temperatures vary greatly.  You may have to adjust baking time to accommodate your specific grill.

Combine ingredients for spice mix and set aside.

In a large bowl whisk together 1T spice mix, yogurt, oil, lemon juice, lemon zest and minced garlic.

Add broccoli to yogurt mix and toss to coat completely.  Transfer broccoli to prepared sheet pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Roast for 20-25 minutes until tender crisp and some of the broccoli tips are lightly charred. Remove from grill and let rest for 5 minutes before sprinkling with reserved everything spice.

While broccoli rest, prepare sauce.  Combine goat cheese, olive oil, and milk in a blender or immersion blender. Once smooth, stir in minced garlic and herbs. Season with salt and pepper.

Pool sauce on platter and top with broccoli.

Serves 2

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VIRTUAL DINNER PARTY #56 ONE PAN SPAGHETTI WITH GOAT CHEESE

INGREDIENTS:

2 T extra virgin olive oil

½ diced yellow onion

3 cloves minced garlic

1 anchovy fillet

Pinch of red pepper flakes (omit or to taste)

1 T tomato paste

Pinch of brown sugar

1 basket grape tomatoes

3  C high quality, low sodium vegetable stock

8 oz. spaghetti pasta

4 oz. goat cheese, crumbled

1 T capers, chopped

¼ C pitted kalamata olives

Salt and pepper

1/3 packed C thinly sliced basil + additional for garnish

METHOD:

Heat a 12” skillet with 2Tbsp. olive oil over medium heat.   Add onions, garlic, and anchovy. Cook until onion is translucent, add garlic is fragrant.  Add tomato paste, pinch of sugar and crushed red pepper and cook 1 minute more. 

Add grape tomatoes and stock and bring to a boil.  Add pasta, taking care to lay it flat in the skillet. Return to boil, turning pasta frequently to keep it from sticking together.  Cook until pasta is al dente and sauce coats the pasta well. *Add additional water if sauce is thickening too quickly.

Remove from heat and add olives, capers, slivered basil and goat cheese. Toss lightly to incorporate. Garnish with additional chopped basil and serve.

SERVES 2

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VIRTUAL DINNER PARTY #55 CRUNCHY OVEN BAKED “FRIED” CHICKEN SANDWICH

CHICKEN INGREDIENTS:

1 T       kosher salt

1 T       black Pepper

2 t         white pepper

1 T       dried thyme

2 t        dried basil

2 t        dried oregano

2 t        celery salt

2 t        garlic salt

2 t        ground ginger

1 T       smoked paprika

1 t        cayenne pepper, or to taste

1 C       Unbleached white flour

1 C       Panko Bread Crumbs

1 C       corn flakes, crushed

1          egg

1/2 C   buttermilk

2 t        prepared hot sauce, such as Tabasco or Frank’s, or to taste

2          boneless skinless chicken paillards

3T        Vegetable Oil

DRESSING INGREDIENTS:

1 ea.    ripe avocado, peeled and pitted

¼ C      plain Greek yogurt

1 T       honey

¼ C      chopped fresh herbs (parsley, basil, tarragon, and scallion or a mixture )

            Juice of ½ lemon

            Salt and freshly ground black pepper

SANDWICH INGREDIENTS:

High quality sandwich buns, pickled red onions, green leaf lettuce

METHOD:

PREPARE CHICKEN: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a small bowl combine spices and set aside.

Combine flour with ½ of spice mixture. Set aside.

Combine panko and crushed cornflakes in a separate bowl with remaining spice mixture and set aside.

Combine buttermilk and egg in a shallow bowl. Set aside.

Pat chicken dry with paper toweling.  Dip chicken in egg mixture and then dredge in  flour.  Shake off excess and return to egg /buttermilk mixture.  Finally, coat with seasoned panko/cornflake mixture pressing lightly to help crumbs adhere.   Set aside while skillet heats.

Heat oil in oven safe skillet on medium high heat until hot.  Place coated chicken pieces into hot oil and cook for 1 ½ to 2 minutes. Flip chicken and place pan in preheated oven.  Roast for 7-10 minutes until cooked through.

PREPARE GREEN GODDESS DRESSING: Using an immersion blender or food processor, combine 1 avocado, ¼ C plain Greek yogurt, 1 T honey, with ¼ C chopped fresh herbs – I like  basil, parsley, cilantro and scallion. Process until mixture is well combined and smooth but still has visible flecks of herbs.  Add the juice of ½ lemon and salt and black pepper to taste. Chef’s note: to avoid a thin, watery dressing try not to over process.

Assemble sandwich and serve.

Serves 2

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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

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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

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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

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