Coquilles St. Jacques ready for the broiler! Our Christmas Day appetizer.


Daube de Gigot (French Lamb Stew)

Simple and simply wonderful French lamb stew, adapted from an old family recipe, serves four generously (with seconds and/or leftovers) and is a complete meal all in itself. Make it on an afternoon that you are around the house, writing letters, putting together a photo album or watching a game, because you'll need to hover lovingly over the pot -- to stir and add ingredients over two+ hours. Then serve it to your friends and family with a hearty Burgundy wine. Unforgettable. Leftovers are almost better than the first serving!

Ingredients
2 lbs. lamb round bone shoulder chops, trimmed and cut into 2" pieces (Do not discard any bones.)
4-5 tbsp. butter
1 lb. mushrooms, sliced
1 lb. carrots, cut or sliced into 2" lengths
2 med. yellow onions, cut into 1/4" slices
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 tsp. dried thyme (or 1 tsp. fresh thyme)
3-4 potatoes, cut into 2" pieces, and boiled until tender
1 lb. frozen peas
3 tbsp. flour
1/2 c. hot water
1/2 to 1 c. good quality red wine
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Process
Sauté mushrooms in 2 tbsp. of the butter. Put aside.
In a large Dutch oven, sauté lamb in 2 tbsp. of the butter until browned. Put aside.
 
In fond (juice of sautéed lamb with brown bits), sauté onions and garlic until golden. Make a slurry out of 3 tbsp. flour and 1/2 cup hot water and add to onions. Stir thoroughly. Add more water if necessary. Add 1/2 c. red wine. Let simmer for 10 mins. stirring frequently. Mixture will be thick and fragrant.

To the onions, add the sautéed lamb its juices that have accumulated while resting. Stir thoroughly. Add carrots, sautéed mushrooms, thyme, salt and freshly ground pepper to taste and stir thoroughly.  Set burner to low simmer and add more wine -- 1/4 to 1/2 cup. 
Stir thoroughly every 10-15 minutes, for 1-1/2 to 2 hours. Add more water or wine as needed. Add potatoes and let simmer for 15 minutes. Add frozen peas, simmer for 15 minutes more. Voila! It's ready! Serve with a hearty Burgundy and French bread and don't forget to offer seconds!


Summertime Zucchini Bake a la Provence

August. Time to take advantage of all that fresh, local produce available at your grocer, or maybe in your own back yard. Here's a recipe that takes its lead from the savory summertime dishes of Provence or Tuscany.

Very easy to prepare, it's a side dish that takes literally minutes from garden to table. You can make it spicy, cheesy, crunchy or herb-filled. Or all of the above! Put your imagination cap on, and get our your sharpest knives and best French salt. You'll find yourself making this wonderful dish over and over again, trying variations on flavor as your mood and heart desire. An excellent accompaniment to steaks, chops, and sandwiches, or serve it over fresh linguine for a marvelous meatless entrée.

Ingredients
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. butter
1-2 medium to large green or yellow zucchini, cut in 1" cubes
1 medium Vidalia or other sweet onion, sliced
3 garlic cloves, diced
1/2 tsp. Fleur de Sel (French salt, available at specialty food stores)
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup seasoned Italian breadcrumbs, or Panko breadcrumbs
2-3 sprigs each of fresh parsley, thyme and basil, chopped finely
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

Optional:
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. hot sauce
2 ripe tomatoes, cubed
1 cup eggplant, skin removed and cubed

Process
Preheat oven to 400 F.
1. Sauté garlic and onion gently in oil and 1 tbsp. of the butter until translucent.

2. Add zucchini, tomato and eggplant (if using), seasonings and fresh herbs and desired options.
Sauté, stirring occasionally, until just tender and slightly browned and crispy, about five minutes.

3. Pour into an oven-proof casserole.

4. Top with seasoned breadcrumbs or Panko. If using seasoned breadcrumbs, mix with the grated cheese and sprinkle over all. Dot with other tbsp. of butter, cut into small bits.
5. If making ahead, cover with aluminum foil and set aside. Can be made up to five hours in advance of serving.
6. Bake at 400F for 20-30 minutes. Remove from oven and let set five minutes before serving.








Mussels Marinara

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Muscle your way into his (or her) heart with this spicy Italian favorite. It takes no time at all to pull it together and is a satisfying meal for two with very little effort.

Ingredients
1-1/4 lb. mussels, scrubbed and washed
1  28-oz. can San Marzano tomatoes
2 tbsp. chopped fresh basil
1/2 bottle/jar store-bought tomato sauce
2 tbsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. crushed hot red pepper flakes
4 large cloves garlic, chopped
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/4 - 1/2 cup Chianti wine

Eric's Touch
Serve with buccatini, perciatelli, fetuccini, linguine, or other hearty sauce-grabbing pasta


Optional
Italian bread, served warm and crusty
Salad of arugula with lemon basil dressing


Process
Chop garlic and sauté lightly in olive oil in large dutch oven or casserole until translucent and oil is fully fragrant with the garlic.  Add tomatoes and tomato sauce, oregano, salt and pepper, Chianti, hot red pepper flakes, and basil. Allow to simmer, covered, stirring often, adjusting seasonings as needed, for 1/2 hour or more.

Add mussels to broth. Simmer, covered, for 5-7 minutes, or until mussels are opened. Discard any unopened mussels.  Serve with Italian bread and an arugula salad.  Thanks to my neighbor, Eric, the super cook, for adding just the right touch -- he coupled the mussels with a hearty pasta, giving this dish wonderful depth and heft. Bravo!



Blueberry Coffee Cake Goes from Breakfast to Night-time Treat!


Here's a blueberry coffee cake that's much more than just a coffee cake. It doubles as a dessert after dinner, as it is rich and crumbly, and would be a fantastic mid-day or late-night treat. Our thanks to Smitten Kitchen for the inspiration and guidance.

Early Summer's Bounty

Farmer's Market Antipasto


Now is the time to prepare your table laden with the fresh produce and other products you take home from the Farmer's Market -- grilled eggplant, sweet basil, tomato and garlic salad, rosemary ciabatta rolls and rich provolone cheese. 

Remember to support your local Farmer's Market! 

FAMILY BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION


Our son is celebrating 
his birthday this week, 
so we baked our
"traditional" family 
birthday cake -- 
butter cake, fresh 
strawberries and 
sweetened whipped cream.

Nice in springtime, 
and whenever 
strawberries are in season.



THE BLUES HAVE IT!

Blue Cheese Stuffed Burgers


Not for the faint of heart or appetite, our blue cheese stuffed burgers, topped with caramelized red onion and sautéed cremini mushrooms, are a hearty dinner for yourself and your guests.  The magic of this meal is the complexity of flavors created by use of spices and herbs. It's easy! Here's how we did it:

Ingredients

1 lb ground beef
1/3 c seasoned breadcrumbs
4 T crumbled blue cheese
Salt & pepper
1/2 lb cremini mushrooms, chopped
1 red onion, sliced very thinly
Butter and extra virgin olive oil for sautéeing
Pinch granulated sugar for caramelizing
Whole wheat hamburger rolls (optional)
Vine ripened or heirloom red tomato (optional)
Dry white wine for deglazing
Pinch each of oregano and thyme for seasoning
Onion and garlic salt for seasoning


Process
1. Mix breadcrumbs into beef. Divide into four sections.
2. Add 1 T of blue cheese into center of each patty, fold over and seal.

3. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, oregano. Set aside.


4. Heat sauté pan with 1 T butter and 1 T extra virgin olive oil. Thinly slice red onion, and add to hot sauté pan. Sauté until limp, then deglaze with white wine. When wine has evaporated, lower heat, and allow to sauté gently until brown and caramelized.


5. In another sauté pan, heat 1 T butter and 1 T extra virgin olive oil. Add chopped creminis, and sauté until until soft (about 7 minutes). DO NOT ADD SALT OR PEPPER until cooking is complete. It will rob the mushrooms of their natural flavor. When mushrooms are done, sprinkle with thyme, salt and pepper. Set aside.

6. In third sauté pan, heat 1 T butter and 1 T extra virgin olive oil and add burgers to hot pan. Sprinkle with more salt, oregano, onion salt and garlic salt. AlsSear 6 mins on one side, flip and another 5-6 minutes on the other side.

7. Serve on toasted whole wheat buns. Note: Adding tomato slices on bottom of bun will absorb juices of burger and "cook" the tomato. Absolutely delicious!

Serve with a green salad and watch them disappear!



The Galette Takes the Cake!


It's almost too easy to make this delightful, light and flavorful apple galette. And it takes less than an hour, start to finish. Using less sugar and pastry than a traditional apple pie, an added bonus is fewer carbs, with no loss of flavor.

Ingredients

2 Granny Smith Apples
2 T granulated sugar
1/2 t ground cinnamon
Sprinkling of lemon juice
1-2 T butter, cut in small dice
1 refrigerated Pillsbury pie crust 
1 egg and t milk or half and half for egg wash

Process

1. Preheat oven to 425F.
2. Roll out pie crust onto parchment-lined cookie sheet.
3. Core and slice apples super thin and place in circle around crust, leaving about 1" rim on outer edge.

4. Sprinkle with granulated sugar and cinnamon, fresh lemon juice and dot with butter.

5. Brush outer rim of crust with egg wash (1 egg + 1 t milk or half and half, beaten slightly with fork).


6. Fold over outer edges in decorative fashion, and brush with egg wash.


7. Bake @ 425F for 30 minutes. Turn once for even browning, reduce heat to 375F. Bake for 10 minutes. If needed, reduce heat toe 350F and bake for another 10 minutes. Cool on rack.


Serve warm or cool. We love it topped with vanilla bean ice cream!

Bon Appetit!

Amazing Garlic Chicken!

WOW. Our hat is off to SAVEUR Magazine for its fabulous adaptation of Stretch's famous Chicken Savoy! Incredibly delicious and easy to prepare, filled with aromatic herbs, garlic and spices. We changed out the 1 c of red wine vinegar for 1/2 c aged balsamic. Also seasoned the chicken before searing, and baked at 450F (instead of 500F) for 40 mins (instead of 20). All in all, a fabulous recipe. We served it with broiled tomatoes and a mesclun salad. Tell us if you make it and how you like it! (And tell Saveur!)

Follow this link to SAVEUR's Recipe!


Springtime 2015



It's been a snow-filled and cold winter in the mid-Atlantic and northeast states. We welcome Spring, arriving at 6:46 PM Friday, March 20. Spoiler: Snow expected!

Basic Roast Chicken on a Wintry Night

There's nothing quite like the aroma of a chicken roasting in the oven! 

Here's our can't fail method for a savory chicken.  Best of all, your oven does all the work!


Preheat oven to 375F.


1. Cut a 4 lb chicken into 8 pieces.


2. Put into roasting pan, and sprinkle liberally with herbes de Provence, 


3. Drizzle extra virgin olive oil over all.


4. Add a tad French salt (we use fleur de sel) and freshly ground pepper melange, some crushed fresh garlic cloves and a few tablespoons butter cut into small bits. 


5. Roast at 375F for 90 mins, basting half way through. 


Serve with your favorite smashed potatoes and haricots vert.

A made for all seasons dinner, not just for a wintry night. Use any leftovers for your chicken pot pie!

Elegant Cauliflower Gratin -- Fast, satisying, meatless, and low carb!


We love cauliflower all the time, but it is especially wonderful now during these cold winter months, when it is plentiful, so satisfying, and a true "comfort food." It's versatile as well -- we've roasted it, sautéed it, made delicious soups from it (where it starred and also played a supporting role!). 

This week, we created a sumptuous gratin ... lots of savory cheese, baked and topped off in the broiler for a few minutes to brown the crust. We used gruyere, but for an extra bite you can add grated or shaved parmigiano reggiano to the top before broiling. For extra crunch, add a 1/3 cup of Panko breadcrumbs and a dot or two of butter. Special and spectacular on your dinner table, or as a main meatless dish, accompanied by a salad.  Best of all, it's a thoroughly user-friendly recipe: You can make this gratin in less than a 1/2 hour, prepare it in advance and broil it just before eating,

Ingredients
One large head cauliflower, trimmed of green leaves and broken into large florets
1/2 c. heavy cream
1/2 c. chicken stock (can substitute vegetable stock)
1/3 c. butter (approx. 5 tbsp.)
1/3 c. flour
1/8 tsp. high-quality paprika
Salt (kosher) and pepper (freshly ground) to taste
1/2 c. - 1 c. shredded high-quality gruyere or white cheddar
Optional : 1/3 c.  parmigiano reggiano1/3 c. Panko breadcrumbs, 1 tbsp. butter cut in dots

Process
Preheat oven to 375F

1. In a large saucepan, boil cauliflower florets in 2 c. salted water for 3-5 minutes, until firm but not soft. Drain and when dry, place in a butered oven-proof open casserole dish.
 2. In a saucepan, melt butter, add flour and stir over low to medium heat until a roux is formed. Slowly add cream and stock until thick and bubbly, sprinkle with paprika, salt and pepper to taste. Add gruyere or cheddar and stir well until melted. (Reserve 1/4 c. cheese for topping.)

 3. Pour over cauliflower.

 4. Sprinkle with more paprika, and parmigiano reggiano if desired. Sprinkle reserved gruyere or cheddar. Bake at 375F for 20-30 minutes or until golden.

5. Sprinkle with Panko breadcrumbs if desired and broil on high for 3 minutes until browned and bubbly.

6. Serve with an icy glass of white wine and salad for a satisfying meatless dinner, or as an elegant side with roast chicken or grilled steak.

Note: This recipe easily serves four as a side dish. Your guests and family will go back for seconds, so if you want to double the recipe, be sure to use a casserole dish large enough to spread out the cauliflower in a single layer so that most of the pieces get browned in the broiler. We like the crispy topping best.