Marinated Flank with Garden Veggies

Is your garden as prolific as mine? Tomatoes, summer squash, zucchini…oh summer!

This recipe serves 2, but you can easily double or triple the recipe.

Marinated Flank with Garden Veggies – 2 servings
2 cups Merlot (or other dry red wine)IMG_0166
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 bay leaf
1 cup mixed cherry tomatoes, halved
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup loosely packed basil
1 1/2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 large garlic clove
1 medium zucchini, sliced diagonally into 1/2 inch thick
1 medium yellow squash, sliced diagonally into 1/2 inch thick
1 lb flank steak
1/4 teaspoon chile powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Combine wine, peppercorns, fennel and bay leaf into a saucepan and bring to a boil until reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Allow mixture to cool completely. Place steak in a gallon size Ziploc bag, add cooled wine mixture and refrigerate for 4 hours. Let the steak stand at room temperature for 30 minutes prior to grilling.

Combine cherry tomatoes with 1 tablespoon olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and season with salt and pepper. Set aside for 30 minutes while preparing the rest of the recipe.

Preheat your grill to high.

In your handy blender or food processor (basically whatever you use to make pesto) – combine basil, pine nuts, lemon juice, garlic, and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Pulse until smooth, season to taste with salt and pepper.

Toss the sliced zucchini and squash in a large bowl with 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt and pepper.

Season the steak with chile powder, onion powder, salt and pepper. Add steak to the grill, and grill about 8 minutes on each side (times varies on your preference). Let the steak stand for 10 minutes while you grill the zucchini and squash, about 4 minutes per side.

Toss the zucchini and squash with the basil mixture, and divide among two plates. Divide balsamic tomatoes and serve over squash and zucchini. Cut the steak into thin slices, cutting across the grain, and place over the vegetables.

Enjoy with the “leftover” merlot!

Bon Appetit! Happy Cooking!


Free-Style Paella

I call this paella free-style, because it contains a mixture of meat and seafood. This is so much fun to make, and makes a wonderful centerpiece to any dinner party – when I tell my friends we’re having paella, they ask if they can come early to watch, so I have my mise en place, and it’s a party in the kitchen with lots of wine and pintxos.

For the seafood component, we used shrimp and clams because they looked best – you can use mussels if you like, just make sure to soak, clean and de-beard them. To clean the clams, combine 1/4 cup of coarse salt per quart of water, and soak for about half an hour.

I lent my paella pan to another friend, and couldn’t get it back in time, but I use all-clad copper core pans, so heat is evenly distributed – if you don’t have a paella pan, just make sure you have a large enough pan that distributes heat evenly.

Free-Style Paella
– 6-8 servings
1/2 teaspoon threads saffron, crushed
1 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 2″ pieces
10 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1⁄2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 ounces dry-cured Spanish chorizo, cut into 1⁄4″-thick coins
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 dried bay leavesDSCN1104
3 medium tomatoes, minced
1 small onion, minced
7 cups chicken broth
2 1⁄2 cups Bomba or Valencia rice
1 can of 8-10 count artichoke hearts
3 jarred roasted red peppers, chopped
10 clams, cleaned
8 ounces frozen peas, thawed

Put the saffron and 1⁄4 cup of hot water in a small bowl and let it sit for 15 minutes.

Season the chicken and shrimp with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a 16″–18″ paella pan over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, shrimp, chorizo and cook, turning occasionally, until browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer shrimp to a plate, leaving the chicken and chorizo in the pan. Add the paprika, garlic, bay leaves, tomatDSCN1107oes, and onions to the pan and cook, stirring often until the onions soften, about 6 minutes. Add the reserved saffron mixture and broth, season with salt, and bring to a boil over high heat.

Sprinkle in the rice, distributing it evenly with a spoon, and add the artichokes and peppers. Cook, without stirring, until the rice has absorbed most of the liquid, 10–12 minutes. (If your pan is larger than the burner, rotate it every two minutes so different parts are over the heat and the rice cooks evenly.) Reduce the heat to low, add the reserved shrimp, peas, and nestle in the clams hinge side down; cook, without stirring, until clams have opened and rice has absorbed the liquid and is al dente, about 5–10 minutes more. Remove pan from heat, cover with aluminum foil, and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

To serve, go family-style and place the pan in the center of the table, or on large platter.

Happy Cooking! Bon Appetit!

Grilled Eggplant with Bulgur, Feta and Toasted Almonds

For this recipe I recommend purchasing baby eggplant, they are about 2-3 inches long. They are tender, and when the flesh is cooked right, they have a sweet nutty flavor. I recommend serving these at room temperature on a platter with grilled pita bread, olives, and other snacks.

You can find bulgur (cracked wheat) in the Mediterranean section of your grocery store.

Grilled Eggplant with Bulgur, Feta and Toasted Almonds – 20 servings
4 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoons garlic, minced
1 teaspoons ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cups vegetable broth
3/4 cup bulgur
1/2 cup tomato, diced
1/3 cup toasted slivered almonds
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
10 baby Mediterranean-style eggplant, halved lengthwise
1/2 cup crumbled feta

Prepare a grill to medium heat.

In a large sauté pan, warm 1 1/2 tablespoons of the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until golden brown, 6 minutes. Add the garlic, coriander and cinnamon and sauté until fragrant. Add the broth and bulgur and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until the broth has been absorbed, about 10 minutes. Transfer the bulgur to a bowl and stir in the tomato, almonds and feta. Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.

Use a paring knife to score the cut side of the eggplant with deep crosshatching. Brush the eggplant all over with the remaining olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill the eggplant, cut side down and with the grill covered, until it is tender when a fork is inserted in the flesh, about 7 minutes per side.

Garnish platter with mint sprigs, and place eggplant on platter. Divide bulgur mixture evenly onto the eggplant centers.

Serve warm or at room temperature with a crisp glass of white wine.

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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Classic Steamed Mussels

Mussels can be a one-pot meal – just be sure pick up some crusty French baguette to sop up the cream based sauce. I love making mussels for a large group of people, whether steamed or grilled, it’s fun to see how your friends may toss or stack the shells neatly.

I found a pretty good video on youtube that demonstrates cleaning and de-bearding the mussels. I do not recommend de-bearding and storing the mussels, as you will lose more mussels. If you need to purchase the mussels the day before cooking, just rinse them off, place them in a large bowl, cover with a damp towel and refrigerate. I also recommend finding smaller mussels, versus larger ones, they tend to be more flavorful – ask your fishmonger! REMEMBER: Discard any mussels with cracked shells, or any open mussels prior to cooking, and after cooking if there are any mussels that don’t open, throw them away!

White Wine and Tarragon Steamed Mussels – serves 4

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 shallots, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 cup Chardonnay
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
3 lbs mussels, scrubbed, rinsed and de-bearded
2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons fresh tarragon, chopped

Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven med-high heat. Add shallots and garlic, cook until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Add wine and scrape up any browned bits off the bottom of the pot, stir in red pepper flakes and salt.

Add the mussels to the pot, cover and steam until they just begin to open, about 3 minutes. Pour cream on top, cover and cook until all the mussels are open, about 5 minutes.

Remove the cover and turn the mussels out into a large serving bowl, or divide among individual bowls, and top with cream mixture. Sprinkle with tarragon, and serve with a large glass of white wine and some crusty baguette.

Happy Cooking!
Bon Appetit!

Chicken Provençal

Most people think olives+tomato=Italian.  In our house it typically means dinner is inspired from the south of France.

It’s Sunday, which means roast chicken, but joining the chicken will be some garlic, tomatoes, and oil-cured black olives with a couple of herbs. This meal is best accompanied with some crusty bread, and a generous pour of red wine.

Chicken Provençal – 4 servings  
1 pound cherry tomatoes
1 large onion, cut into wedges, leaving root ends intact
1/2 cup oil-cured black olives, pitted
4 large garlic cloves, sliced, plus 1 teaspoon minced
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 teaspoons herbes de Provence, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 whole chicken (about 3 1/2 pounds)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F with rack in middle.

Toss together tomatoes, onion, olives, sliced garlic, 2 tablespoons oil, 1 teaspoon herbes de Provence, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a 3-quart shallow baking dish, or saute pan. Push vegetables to sides of dish to make room for chicken.

Stir together minced garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, remaining teaspoon herbes de Provence, and remaining tablespoon olive oil.

Remove excess fat from chicken and pat dry, then rub inside and out with seasoning mixture. Tie legs together with string, and place the chicken in the baking dish.

Roast for an hour or hour and fifteen minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of a thigh registers 170°F.

Let chicken stand 10 minutes before carving. Serve with vegetables pan juices, and bread.

Happy Cooking!

Chicken with “Vin Cotto”

I apologize for the delayed posts, I’m working/traveling and don’t
have as much time in the kitchen to post a recipe each week – but as things start to slow down, I’m making sure to keep up.

John calls this “Autumn Chicken” because it’s his favorite dish to eat on a crisp day. We prepared this for our Sunday supper with rice, instead of our usual roast chicken – it was awesome.  By the time we were done cooking everything, we realized this is a super easy recipe that would definitely impress party guests. We also used a whole chicken for this recipe, but you could easily purchase legs, thighs and breasts.

Also, I know Thanksgiving is a little ways away, but I always like to bring a host/hostess gift with me, and I typically try to bring something a little different to my culinary enthused friends – you can make the vin cotto, bottle it, and create an adorable label with instructions on ways to use it.

Chicken with “Vin Cotto” – 4 servings
4 1/2 cups red wine
1/2 cup honey
2 cinnamon sticks
3 cloves
1/4 cup olive oil
3 pound chicken, cut into 8 serving pieces
Kosher salt
Large onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
1/2 cup Sicilian green olives, pitted, chopped
3 tablespoons golden raisins
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and drained
4 tablespoons blanched almonds, toasted
1 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
Freshly ground black pepper
Hot red pepper flakes, to taste
1/4 cup Italian parsley, finely chopped

Vin Cotto
Combine red wine, honey, cinnamon sticks and cloves in a heavy bottomed saucepan, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer, until reduced to 1 cup, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat, cool, and remove the cinnamon sticks and cloves.

In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil over high heat. Season the chicken with salt and brown on both sides. Reduce the heat to medium, add onions, carrots and cook until golden brown. Add the olives, raisins, capers, and almonds. Add 1/2 cup of the vin cotto to deglaze the pan, scrapping the browned bits and boil until reduced by half. Add the remaining 1/2 cup of vin cotto, and bring to a boil.

In a small bowl, combine vinegar and sugar, add to the pan and cook. Stirring until the liquid is reduced to a glaze. Season with salt and pepper.

Transfer the chicken to a warm platter, drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with cracked pepper, red pepper flakes, and parsley.
Serve with rice – or some roasted vegetables and crusty bread.