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Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Category Archives: Shallots

After Russia sold Alaska to the United States in the mid-nineteenth century, waves of Russian immigrants fleeing religious persecution moved to the United States. These groups generally settled in coastal cities, including Brooklyn (New York City) on the East coast, and Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Portland, Oregon, on the West coast.

Many of the city dwellers took jobs in factories, often as garment workers. Those who preferred rural living benefited from the Homestead Act and set up farms across the West, while still others worked in mills and mines in the Midwest. Russians contributed their diverse cultural traditions and devout faith (for some Judaism and for others Russian Orthodox) to the places they settled. Unlike immigrants from other countries, few returned to Russia—America had become their homeland.

Emigration was restricted during the Soviet era, however, following the breakup of the Soviet Union, immigration to the U.S. increased considerably. Some Ukrainian Americans, Belarusian Americans, Rusyn Americans along with Jewish Americans, German Americans from the former Russian Empire and the Soviet Union, identify themselves as Russian Americans. According to the Institute of Modern Russia’s 2011 report, the Russian American population was estimated to be 3.13 million.

In 2007 Russian was the primary spoken language in 851,174 homes, according to the U.S. Census. The New York City metropolitan area has historically been the primary place of settlement for Russian immigrants legally admitted into the United States. Brighton Beach, Brooklyn continues to be the most important demographic and cultural center for Russian Americans. However, as Russian Americans have climbed in socioeconomic status, they have moved toward more affluent parts of the New York metropolitan area, notably Bergen County, New Jersey.

Russian cuisine tends toward the starchy side, with plenty of pickling. Grains are a major crop, with rye, buckwheat, wheat and barley commonly used in cooking, especially for bread. Root vegetables like beetroot, potatoes, and onions are also popular ingredients along with mushrooms, sour cream, cabbage, and the ricotta-like “farmers’ cheese”. Classic Russian dishes include Beef Stroganoff, chicken Kiev, beetroot broth, blini, and cheese dumplings.

They prepare a variety of soups, which are almost always served with sour cream. Most famous is borscht, made from beets, cabbage, and meat. In the summer, borscht is served cold. Shchi, also made with cabbage, includes turnips, carrots, onions, and beef. Fish soups are popular, such as solianka, and include onion, tomato, cucumber, lemon, butter, and sometimes beef. Many soups also include potatoes or dumplings. Traditional dark Russian bread is made from rye and Russian meals are accompanied by vodka.

Beef Stroganov or Stroganoff (Russian spelling: бефстроганов befstróganov) is a Russian dish of sautéed pieces of beef served in a sauce with smetana (sour cream). Following its origin in mid-19th-century Russia, the dish has become popular around the world, with considerable variation from the original recipe.

Elena Molokhovets’s classic Russian cookbook, A Gift to Young Housewives, gives the first known recipe for Govjadina po-strogonovski, s gorchitseju, “Beef à la Stroganov, with mustard”, in its 1871 edition. The recipe involves lightly floured beef cubes (not strips) sautéed, sauced with prepared mustard and broth, and finished with a small amount of sour cream: no onions, no mushrooms, and no alcohol. Another recipe, this one from 1909, adds onions and tomato sauce and serves it with crisp potatoes, which are considered the traditional side dish for beef Stroganoff in Russia. The version given in the 1938 Larousse Gastronomique includes beef strips, and onions, with either mustard or tomato paste as an option.

After the fall of Tsarist Russia, the recipe was popularly served in the hotels and restaurants of China before the start of World War II. Russian and Chinese immigrants, as well as US servicemen stationed in pre-Communist China, brought several variants of the dish to the United States, which may account for its popularity during the 1950s.

The version often prepared in the United States consists of strips of beef filet with a mushroom, onion, and sour cream sauce served over noodles. In the UK and Australia, a recipe very similar to that commonly found in the United States is popular, but it is served over rice.

Make a Russian inspired dinner at home.

Beef Stroganoff

Serves 4 (or servings for 2 in parenthesis)

Ingredients

1 (1/2) pound filet mignon or mignon tips (cut into 2 inches long and 1/4 inch wide)
3 ( 1 1/2) tablespoons butter
1 ( 1/2) sweet onion, finely chopped
1/2 ( 1/4) cup beef broth
1 (1/2) tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/4 ( 2 T) cup heavy cream
1/2 ( 1/4) cup sour cream
2 ( 1 ) teaspoons flour
2 (1) tablespoons minced fresh dill
2 (1) tablespoons minced parsley
Salt and freshly grounded black pepper
8 ( 4) ounces medium egg noodles, cooked

Directions

Heat a large non-stick skillet over high heat and sear meat on all sides, for about a minute. Work in small batches so the meat does not give off any liquid. Remove to a plate.
Add the butter and onions and saute until tender.
Blend broth, flour, mustard, heavy cream, and sour cream together. Lower heat, add the liquid mixture, and simmer, without boiling until sauce thickens about 5 minutes.
Return meat to the sauce and heat, without boiling until meat is warmed through. Season to taste with salt and pepper; stir in dill and parsley and spoon over noodles.

Roasted Carrots and Parsnips

Ingredients

2 pounds parsnips
1 pound carrots
2 large shallots
3 tablespoons good olive oil
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons minced fresh dill

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Cut the carrots, and parsnips into 2-inch sticks. Cut the shallots into 1/2 inch pieces

Place the cut vegetables on a sheet pan. Add the olive oil, salt, and pepper and toss well. Roast for 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the size of the vegetables, tossing occasionally until the parsnips and carrots are just tender. Sprinkle with dill and serve hot.

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I recently roasted root vegetables for dinner and had extra cooked spinach on hand, so rather than reheat the vegetables, I came up with a new way to serve them. The two new dishes complimented pan seared beef tenderloin steaks very well.

Spinach Stuffed Tomatoes

Ingredients

2 large beefsteak tomatoes
1 cup leftover garlic sautéed spinach
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons Panko bread crumbs
Olive oil

Directions

Cut off a thin slice from the tops of the tomatoes. Scoop out the seeds and center flesh with a small serrated spoon. Sprinkle the insides of the tomatoes with a little salt and turn them over on a paper towel to drain for 30 minutes.
Divide the spinach in half and fill the center of the tomatoes. Top the spinach with 1 tablespoon of grated cheese and sprinkle the bread crumbs on top. Drizzle with a little olive oil.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Oil a small baking dish and place the filled tomatoes in the dish. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes.

Roasted Root Vegetable Puree

Ingredients

2 cups leftover roasted root vegetables (carrots, sweet potatoes, and parsnips)
1-2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

Directions

Place the roasted vegetables in the processor. Pulse until completely pureed. Add the cream to make a smooth mixture. Place the pureed vegetables in a microwave safe bowl, top with the butter and heat on high for several minutes until the vegetables are hot. Sprinkle on the chives and serve.

Filet Mignon with Cabernet Sauce

Ingredients

2- 6 oz. filet mignon steaks, about 1-inch thick
1/2 teaspoon each salt & pepper
1/4 cup minced shallots
1 tablespoon fresh herbs, such as rosemary or thyme
1 cup Cabernet wine
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Directions

Heat a skillet and add 1 tablespoon butter. Sprinkle the steaks with salt & pepper. Cook filets until desired doneness,4- 5 minutes per side (depending on thickness) for medium-rare.
Remove the steaks to serving plates
Add shallots, cook 1 min, add wine and herbs. Boil for several minutes until reduced. Stir in butter. Pour the sauce over the steaks and serve.


Sicilian Style Swordfish

Swordfish is a noble ingredient from the gastronomic traditions of Sicily and Calabria: used in the most refined of recipes, it is extremely versatile and can be easily married with other ingredients from the Mediterranean region, such as capers, lemon, eggplant, mint and bell peppers.

2 servings

Ingredients

2 swordfish steaks, about 6 oz each and 1/2-inch thick
1 clove garlic, sliced
1 tablespoon capers, drained
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1 lemon, cut in half
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions

Cut one lemon half into thin slices and set aside. Juice the other half and set aside.
In a medium skillet with a lid, brown the garlic in oil, then remove it and add the fish, lemon slices and capers.
Season with salt, parsley, and oregano. Turn the fish over.
Drizzle the lemon juice over and finish cooking with the lid on for about 2 minutes more.

Baked Eggplant Slices

3-4 servings

Ingredients

1 eggplant, peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
2-3 plum tomatoes, sliced thin
Extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano and
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt

Directions

Place the eggplant slices and tomato slices on paper towels and sprinkle both sides of the vegetables with salt. Let rest for 20 minutes. Rinse the eggplant with cool water and blot dry with paper towels. Blot the tomato slices with a paper towel also.


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Cover a baking sheet with foil and brush the foil with olive oil.
Mix the cheese with the oregano, basil, red pepper flakes and garlic powder in a small bowl.


Arrange eggplant slices on the prepared baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil.


Sprinkle each slice with half the cheese mixture. Top with tomato slices and sprinkle the remaining cheese mixture on top.
Bake in preheated oven until the cheese is beginning to brown, about 30 minutes. For a crispy top, place the pan under the broiler for 5-10 minutes.

Asparagus Gratin

Servings 4

Ingredients

1 bunch asparagus, small/medium thickness, trimmed and cut diagonally into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 finely chopped shallot
1 garlic clove minced
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and lightly grease a 1.5 to 2 quart or an 8×8 baking pan.
Place asparagus in the baking dish and spread them evenly.


In a small mixing bowl, whisk together heavy cream, shallots, garlic, salt and pepper to taste.
Pour cream mixture all over the asparagus.
Sprinkle mozzarella cheese over the top.


Bake for 25-30 minutes until the asparagus are tender and the top of the gratin is golden brown.



Stuffed Pork Chops

For two servings you need

Ingredients

Freshly ground black pepper
2 one-inch thick boneless pork chops (about 6 oz each), trimmed of all fat and butterflied
½ cup creamed spinach (see recipe below) (leftover or frozen and defrosted)
4 slices Prosciutto di Parma
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
Half of a 9 oz.package of frozen artichoke hearts, thawed
2 large or 3 medium shallots peeled and halved
1 large clove garlic, thinly sliced
2 sprigs fresh thyme

Directions

Heat the oven to 400°F.


Pound the butterflied pork lightly just to even out their thick areas. Season the pork chops with black pepper.

Place ¼ cup creamed spinach on half of each pork chop. Fold the uncovered side over the filling. Wrap each chop with two slices of prosciutto.


Heat the oil and butter in a medium ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat, add the chops and brown the bottom side. Turn the chops over, add the garlic, artichokes, and shallots to the pan and cook until the second side is brown.

Stir the vegetables occasionally. Add the thyme and place the pan in the oven. Cook the pork until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of a chop reads 140°F, about 6-8 minutes.

Creamed Spinach

This is the recipe I use for creamed spinach. I made it for Thanksgiving and had some leftover.

8 servings

Ingredients

2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup minced onion
1 garlic clove, grated
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup cream cheese with chives and onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Two 16 oz packages frozen spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry

Directions

In a large skillet, heat butter over medium heat. Add onions; cook and stir 5 minutes or until tender. Add garlic and stir in cream cheese until melted. Add cream and salt and pepper to taste. Add spinach; cook, covered, 3-5 minutes or until the spinach is soft, stirring occasionally. Can do ahead and reheat in the microwave.

Oven Roasted Cauliflower Steaks

4 servings

Ingredients

1 large head of cauliflower
Olive oil
1 large garlic clove, grated
2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste
4 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese

Directions

Remove the outer leaves and trim the stem end.
Hold the cauliflower with its stem on a cutting board.
With a sharp knife, make one cut through the center of the cauliflower to divide it in half.
Cut each half into two 3/4-inch thick slices. Save the ends for another recipe.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Place the cauliflower steaks on the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle with the garlic, salt, and pepper to taste. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle the Italian seasoning evenly over the cauliflower. Top each cauliflower steak with 1 tablespoon of Parmesan cheese.

Roast the cauliflower steaks in the preheated oven for 30 minutes or until tender and golden.


Grilled Rib-Eye Steaks

2 servings

Ingredients

Sauce
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 minced green onion
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil plus more for steaks and grill
1/8 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley
1/2 tablespoon drained capers
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

Steaks
Two 3/4-inch-thick grass-fed rib-eye steaks
1 garlic clove, pressed
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Rub both sides of the steaks with oil and garlic. Mix paprika, coarse salt, and black pepper in small bowl. Sprinkle on both sides of the steaks. Let stand at least 15 minutes and up to 1 hour.

Combine the sauce ingredients in a small glass dish. Set aside

Prepare an outdoor or stovetop grill (medium-high heat). Brush the grill rack with oil to coat. Grill steaks until cooked to desired doneness, about 3 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer steaks to serving plates.

When the steaks are cooked and resting, heat the sauce in the microwave until hot, about 1 minute. Spoon the sauce over the steaks and serve.

Green Bean Casserole

Servings 6

Ingredients

1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch lengths
1 clove garlic, minced
4 tablespoons dry white wine or dry vermouth
2 tablespoons butter
6 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 ounces cheddar cheese, grated
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3/4 cup unsalted chicken stock/broth or vegetable stock
Salt to taste
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Shallot topping, recipe below

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8×8 ovenproof casserole dish.

Cook green beans to your liking. Boil in salted water or steam them on for 3-4 minutes..drain and place in a mixing bowl.

Sauce: In a saucepan heat the butter and add the garlic and saute for 1-2 minutes until soft. Turn the heat down to medium and add the wine. Saute for about a minute or until the alcohol has burned off. Add the softened cream cheese and break it up in the pan so that it melts more easily. Add the chicken broth little by little and whisk to combine until the cream cheese has melted.

Turn the heat to medium-low and let the sauce bubble a little to combine flavors and thicken slightly. Add the cheddar cheese, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper. Whisk and taste to adjust seasoning.

Pour the sauce into the bowl with the green beans and stir together. Pour the green bean mixture into the buttered baking dish. Put the green bean casserole in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until bubbly around the sides. Sprinkle with the fried shallots and serve.

Fried Shallots

Ingredients

Vegetable oil
4 large shallots, peeled and sliced lengthwise about 1/8-inch thick
Salt

Directions

Pour about one inch of oil into a deep skillet. Add shallots and place the pot over medium
heat. Cook gently, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes (turn down heat if they seem to be coloring too quickly), until they gradually become brown.
Place a fine-meshed sieve over a bowl. Transfer shallots to the sieve and let drain well. (Save the oil for another purpose.) Blot shallots on paper towels. They will become crisp as they cool. Sprinkle lightly with salt.’

Spinach-Stuffed Tomatoes

6 servings.

Ingredients

6 medium tomatoes
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup dry bread crumbs
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Salt

Directions

Cut a thin slice off the top of each tomato. Scoop out the pulp, leaving a 1/2-in. thick shell. Invert tomatoes onto paper towels to drain.(Save the use the pulp for tomato sauce.)
Combine the bread crumbs, Italian seasoning garlic powder and black pepper in a small bowl. Set aside 1/4 cup for the topping. Add spinach and mozzarella cheese to the remaining crumb mixture. Sprinkle the tomato shells lightly with salt; stuff with the spinach mixture. Place in a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish. Toss the reserved crumbs with the melted butter. Sprinkle over tomatoes. Bake, uncovered, at 350°F for 20-25 minutes or until crumbs are lightly browned.


Mushroom Pork Chops

Servings: 2

Ingredients

2 (1 lb) boneless pork chops (each 1 inch thick) fat removed
3 tablespoons butter, divided
8 oz sliced mushrooms
1 small-medium onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup unsalted chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon sliced sage leaves
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Cut the pork into 4 cutlets and pound to a 1/4 inch thickness. Remove the pork chops from the refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking.

Sprinkle the chops with salt and pepper.
Heat a medium skillet and when hot, add 1 tablespoon butter. After the butter melts add the pork and cook for 2 minutes per side. Remove the pork chops to a plate and tent with foil.


Add the remaining butter, onion, garlic, and mushrooms and stir to coat. Cook until the onions are tender and the mushrooms have released their liquid. Add the wine and cook until mostly evaporated. Add the chicken broth, sage, and thyme and let simmer for a few minutes. Add the heavy cream and cook until the sauce thickens. Place the pork chops in the sauce to heat. Serve over sautéed cabbage.

Sautéed Cabbage

2 servings

Ingredients

Half of a medium head of Savoy cabbage, sliced into thin ribbons
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper

Directions

Melt butter in a deep frying pan. Add the garlic and cook for one minute. Add the shredded cabbage and stir.
Lower the heat and continue cooking until the cabbage is silky soft.., about 20 minutes. Stir often. Season with salt and pepper.

Green Beans with Shallots

Ingredients

1 lb green beans, ends trimmed and cut in half
Salt
1 large shallot or 2 small, sliced into thin rings
Black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil

Directions

Cover beans with water and add a 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, lower heat and cook for about 4 minutes. Drain in a colander.
To the empty pan add the olive oil and the shallots. Cook until tender and soft. Return drained beans to the pan and add a sprinkle of black pepper. Cook for a minute or two to reheat the beans.


Grilled Rib Eye Steaks with Shallot-Thyme Butter

Steak
2 rib-eye steaks, 6-8 ounces each
2 tablespoons coarsely ground peppercorns
1 tablespoon coarse sea salt

Shallot-Thyme Butter
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, minced
5 chive leaves, minced
1 small shallot or half of a large shallot, minced
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

Directions

Prepare the butter: Mash the butter with a fork, integrating all the remaining butter ingredients. Add 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper.

Prepare an outdoor gas or charcoal grill and oil the grill grates. (You can also use a grill pan to cook the steak. Oil the grill pan after it gets very hot.)

Season the steaks with the peppercorns and salt. Press the mixture into the steaks.

When the fire is ready or the grill pan is very hot, grill the steaks for about 3 minutes per side for rare, and about a minute or two longer for medium-rare to medium.

Remove the steaks to a serving platter and place 2 tablespoons of the butter on each steak. Let rest 5 minutes and serve.

Creamed Spinach

Ingredients

4 cups chopped fresh spinach leaves
1 garlic clove, minced
1 small onion finely chopped
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons cream cheese
2 tablespoons heavy cream
Salt and pepper

Directions

Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the oil and butter, and stir it around so it melts. Saute the onion and garlic until soft, about 5 minutes.

Add the spinach in batches, pushing it down with a wooden spoon to help it wilt. Keep adding more spinach when there is room in the pot.

Cook the spinach until it is wilted, then lower the heat and add the cream and cream cheese.

Stir and cook for about 5 minutes until the cheese is dissolved throughout the spinach. Season with salt and pepper and serve hot.

Oven-Baked Onion Rings

4 servings

Ingredients

1 large sweet onion – ends trimmed off, peeled and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch thick slices
2 eggs
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 pinch cayenne pepper, or to taste
3 cups panko breadcrumbs, or more if needed
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus extra for sprinkling
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Olive oil cooking spray

Directions

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Separate the onion slices into individual rings. Place the onion rings in a bowl of ice-cold water before coating.

Whisk eggs with cream in a bowl until thoroughly combined; season egg mixture with a pinch of cayenne pepper.

Place flour, garlic powder, salt, and pepper in a large resealable plastic bag. Place panko crumbs in a separate bowl.

Place the onion rings on paper towels to remove extra moisture from the soaking.

Work with one or two onion slices at a time, place them into the bag of flour mix.

Seal the bag and shake until the onion rings are well coated with flour.

Place flour-coated onion rings into the egg mixture, a few at a time, and toss lightly with tongs until coated.

Place rings into panko crumbs and gently shake the bowl to toss the crumbs with the onion rings until rings are coated with crumbs.

Transfer coated onion rings to a large baking sheet; spray rings lightly with cooking spray.

Bake in the preheated oven until the onion rings are tender and crumbs are lightly golden brown, about 15 minutes.



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