Potato, corn and heart of romaine salad

We love to barbecue, and this salad is a great side dish, because John just tosses the vegetables on before he starts grilling the main. It’s combined with a buttermilk dressing, I recommend making it a day ahead if you have time, this allows for all the flavors to meld.

Potato, corn and heart of romaine salad – 6 servingsDSCN0917
1 lb baby potatoes, thickly sliced
2 corn cobs, husks removed
1 small leek, trimmed, cut lengthwise into 4
1 heart of romaine, torn or coarsely chopped
1/2 cup mint, loosely packed
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup crème fraîche or sour cream
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Prepare a saucepan of water, potato slices, and salt, bring to a boil over high heat until just tender, about 5-6 minutes, drain and transfer to a bowl.

Prepare the barbecue to a medium-high heat. Drizzle corn and leeks with a little oil and grill, turning occasionally, until tender. When cool enough to handle, cut kernels from cobs, coarsely chop leek and add both to the potato.

For buttermilk dressing, whisk buttermilk, crème fraîche, 2 tbsp olive oil, vinegar, Dijon and garlic in a bowl to combine. Add dressing to potato mixture, add romaine and mint, season to taste with salt and pepper and toss to combine.

Happy Cooking!


Venison Meatball Smashie

I love a good meatball sandwich – and the use of venison adds a lovely gamey flavor, the one I used for this recipe enjoyed sage fields for sure. Plus what’s better than venison and a big glass of Syrah. This is also an awesome dish to make for a larger group – put the bread and cheese out, along with a tray of the meatballs, they can build their own smashie.

The bread can start wars – I love the crunch of a baguette, but John thinks slightly toasted dinner rolls are better, so we get both. We’re cheese people so we also top the meatballs with provolone, and broil the sandwiches for a minute.

I included the link to my favorite recipe for tomato jam below – we  use it for everything, like a topping to grilled chops.

The only special tool I recommend is a 2 oz ice cream scoop with a spring – it’s the right size to get 16 meatballs, and cooks evenly. Or you can use a scale, to weigh out about 2 oz per meatball.

Venison Meatball Smashies – 8 people or 16 meatballs

1 lb ground venison
1 lb ground pork
2 eggs
Slice of bread soaked in 2 tablespoons milk
2 teaspoons tomato jam
4 ounces finely grated Parmesan or Pecorino, plus extra to serve
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
28 oz tomato puree
Bread: 2 sourdough baguettes, cut into 8, sliced ¾ through and hollowed out – or slightly toasted dinner rolls

Combine venison, pork, eggs, bread, jam and cheese, season to taste and combine. Fill an ice cream scoop with meat mixture, and roll into 16 balls, place on a tray, cover and refrigerate until firm, at least 30 minutes. Combine flour, with 1/4 teaspoon of salt and pepper, set aside.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Heat oil in a large saute pan, dust meatballs with flour mixture, then fry, turning occasionally, until golden, about 3-4 minutes. Spread in one layer in a small roasting pan, cover with tomato puree, season to taste, roast until cooked through, about 1 hour.

To serve: Place 2 meatballs in each baguette piece, coarsely crush with a fork, spoon over a little sauce, season to taste, scatter with cheese, serve hot. Enjoy with a big glass of red wine.

Happy Cooking!

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Vegetarian Stuffed Zucchini

Kousa mishi bi banadoura: Stuffed zucchini with tomatoes

My mother is Lebanese, and as a kid I never appreciated this dish, nor did I realize the effort it took to make. I saw these lightly colored green zucchinis and instantly thought of the yellow pot my mum used to prepare them in.  Typically this dish is made with ground lamb, but I used chickpeas. Also, you will be hollowing out the zucchini, and you can use the insides for whatever recipe you like, so there’s nothing wasted – my mom would saute them in butter, and make zucchini scrambled eggs the next day – I gave them as treats to my pups.

Stuffed Zucchini with Tomatoes – 4 servings
8 small zucchinis, evenly sized
2 medium onions, diced, separated
1/8 cup + 1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon pine nuts
8 ounces chickpeas
1⁄4 cup short-grain rice
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
1⁄2 teaspoon ground allspice
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
28 ounces crushed tomatoes
1⁄4 cup tomato paste
1⁄8 teaspoon cinnamon
Greek yogurt and pita bread – optional

Prepare a salt water bath. Choose 8 small zucchini. Wash well and cut off stem. Using a corer hollow out zucchini leaving rounded end (base) intact. Try not to puncture the skin. Soak the zucchini in the salt water bath while you prepare stuffing.

In a large saute pan, over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and saute 1 diced onion until softened. Add pine nuts to onions, and cook for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

In a large bowl, combine chickpeas, onion mixture, rice, parsley, allspice, 1/8 cup water, and salt and pepper to taste.

Drain the zucchini, and fill entirely with the chickpea mixture, by packing down, and set aside. If you have any remaining chickpea mixture, just add it to the tomato sauce.

Prepare the sauce in a saute pan by sauteing the 2nd chopped onion in 1/8 cup olive oil, until softened. Add garlic cook until fragrant, then add the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, cinnamon, and salt and pepper to taste.

Choose a large sauce pan to arrange the zucchini in layers, ladle some of the sauce into the bottom of the pan, arrange zucchini in layers adding sauce to each layer, you may have 2 layers of zucchini. If you need to, add some water to just cover the zucchini.

Cover and simmer gently for an hour and 15 minutes or until tender and rice is cooked.

To serve: You can serve this hot or at room temperature with a dollop of Greek yogurt and pita bread.

Happy Cooking!

Blood Orange Polenta & Almond Cake

I made blood orange cello this weekend, and didn’t want to waste all the blood oranges I had – so after John and I ate as many as we could, I decided I’d make a cake. The texture is heavenly!

The only special tool you will need is a food grade kitchen scale.

Blood Orange Polenta & Almond Cake – 10 servings
18 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
14 ounces super fine sugar
Zest and juice of 2 lemons
9 ounces almond meal/flour
6 ounces fine polenta
6 eggs
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1 cup all-purpose flour

Blood orange topping
1 cup super fine sugar
1/2 cup blood orange juice
3 blood oranges, peeled, thinly sliced, seeds discarded

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a 10-inch springform cake pan, with parchment paper.

For the blood orange topping, stir sugar and blood orange juice in a saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Butter the prepare springform. Arrange the orange slices, slighty overlapping so their are few gaps. Pour 1/2 of the syrup over the slices and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with a paddle, beat butter, sugar and zest until pale. Combine hazelnut meal and polenta in a bowl, add half to the butter mixture and mix on low speed to combine. Add eggs one at a time, mixing to combine and scraping down sides of bowl between each addition. Add remaining almond meal mixture, juices, yogurt and flour, and stir gently to combine. Carefully spoon mixture into cake tin over oranges and syrup and spread gently to cover evenly, smooth top, then bake until golden and a skewer inserted withdraws clean, about 1 hour; cover with foil if cake colors too quickly. Set aside to cool for about 10 minutes.

Prepare a wire rack over a cake stand with a lip. Turn cake out carefully onto the wire rack, top with remaining syrup. The syrup that flows over, will absorbed by the bottom of the cake.

The cake will keep in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Honey Smoked Salmon Deviled Eggs

We have this really great seafood restaurant we like to frequent, Anchor OTR. One of the snacks they serve are these delightful smoked salmon deviled eggs. I tried my best to create something similar to the dish with all the leftover eggs from Easter morning, and I’ve gotten pretty darn close.

Honey Smoked Salmon Deviled Eggs – 16 servings
8 large eggs
2 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
6 tablespoons good mayonnaise
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons minced fresh chives, plus extra for garnish
2 ounces good quality honey smoked salmon, minced/flaked
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 ounces salmon roe, optional garnish

Place the eggs in a pot large enough to hold them in a single layer. Cover the eggs with cold water and bring water to a full boil over high heat. As soon as the water boils, turn off the heat, cover the pot, and let the eggs stand for 15 minutes. Drain the eggs and fill the pot with cold water. Set aside until the eggs are cool.

Peel the eggs and then slice them in half lengthwise. Remove the yolks carefully. Place the yolks in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and arrange the whites on a platter in a single layer with the cut sides up and sprinkle with salt.

Mix the egg yolks, cream cheese, mayonnaise, lemon juice, chives, salmon, salt, and pepper. Beat on medium speed until fluffy. With a small spoon, fill the egg whites with the egg yolk mixture. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes for the flavors to blend.

To serve, garnish with a dollop of salmon roe and some extra chopped chives. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve.

Happy Cooking!

Poulet Graves

Although this dish appears heavy, it’s given a light Spring touch with the addition of the lemon and parsley.

Named for the region of Normandy, known for their apples and calvados- typically this dish is prepared with calvados, but due to the limited availability at my wine store, I decided to go ahead and make it with Sauternes – which comes from the region of the Graves in Bordeaux.

Poulet Graves – 4 servings
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 apples, cored and chopped into thick slices
3 shallots, peeled and chopped
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1 3-4lbs whole chicken, cut up (breasts, legs)
6 tablespoons Sauternes
1/2 cup chicken stock
4 ounces crème fraîche
Freshly squeezed juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, minced
2 cups rice, prepared according to package

Melt half the butter in a saucepan over high heat, add apples and sauté, stirring carefully with a wooden spoon, until golden brown and tender. Transfer to a bowl.

Melt the remaining butter in the same saucepan over medium heat and fry the shallots, bay leaves and thyme for 2-3 minutes. Add chicken, skin-side down, and cook for 5 minutes until golden brown. Turn over and cook for another 5 minutes. Season generously with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add the sauternes, turning the heat up high to burn off the alcohol, and cook for 3-5 minutes. Lower heat to medium, add chicken stock and when stock comes to boil, lower heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes. Stir in crème fraîche and add apples, raising the heat again to allow some of the cooking liquid to evaporate and the sauce to thicken. Add lemon juice and parsley.

Divide rice among the 4 plates, then transfer the chicken mixture onto each plate, spooning sauce over the top.

Happy Cooking!