1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup finely diced red onion
1 garlic clove, minced
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 cups chopped Italian tomatoes
12 ounces skinless sole or flounder fillets
4 ¼ inch slices of fresh mozzarella cheese, cut in half
4 oz fettuccine or wide needles, cooked
Coarsely grind fennel seeds and red pepper flakes in a spice mill or with a mortar and pestle. Alternatively, place in a resealable freezer bag. Crush with a rolling pin or large skillet. Set aside.
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add onion, cook stirring often, until soft, 5-6 minutes. Add garlic and spices and cook about 1 minute.
Add tomatoes and salt and pepper to taste; bring to a simmer and cook uncovered to meld flavors, about 5 minutes.
Season fish with salt and pepper and gently place fillets in the sauce. Cover skillet and reduce heat to low. Cook 4 minutes. Turn fish over with a wide spatula and evenly top with mozzarella slices. Cover the pan again cook for 2 minutes or until the cheese melts.
Place the cooked noodles on a serving dish. Place the fish and sauce on top of the noodles and serve.
Italian Style Fried Cauliflower
1 head of fresh cauliflower washed and cut into large florets
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon granulated garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
Pinch of cayenne pepper
2/3 cup cold seltzer or ice water
Vegetable oil for frying
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Whisk all dry ingredients together, set aside. Beat in another bowl the egg and seltzer or ice water. Stir into the dry ingredients, stirring until a smooth mixture forms.
Heat the oil, about 1-inch deep, in a deep skillet (chicken fryer) on low to medium heat.
Add the cauliflower to the batter, using thongs or a slotted spoon, letting the excess drop back into the bowl.
Add the cauliflower to the preheated oil. Do not crowd them or touch them together.
Fry each floret until golden brown on each side around 8 to 10 minutes. Remove to a paper towel-lined platter. Keep warm in a 200 degree F oven until ready to serve. Sprinkle with Parmesan while still hot and serve.
Have you ever ordered fish cooked in a banana leaf wrap in a restaurant? Delicious; and so I thought I would try making such a dish at home.
Banana leaves are very inexpensive to buy – a few dollars for a large pack. Banana leaves come in large, flat plastic bags at your local Asian market or supermarket (check the freezer if you can’t find them on the shelf or in the produce section).
Banana leaves can be used for baking anything “wrapped”, in the same way, you would use tin foil or parchment paper. However, banana leaves are porous (unlike tin foil), so some of the “sauce” or juices from your food item may seep through. It’s, therefore, a good idea to place your banana leaf “packets” in a glass casserole dish, or a tray that has sides on it, so that the juices don’t drip to the bottom of your oven.
Banana leaves serve many purposes, from adding flavor to foods cooked inside them, to simply being used as a colorful and exotic background for serving plates and party platters.
Banana leaves contain large amounts of polyphenols that are natural antioxidants. These are found in many plant-based foods and green tea. Food served on the banana leaves absorbs the polyphenols which are said to prevent many lifestyle diseases. They are also said to have anti-bacterial properties that can possibly kill the germs in food. The leaf wrapping protects delicate fillets from harsh, dry heat.
You can also use banana leaves as a kind of “mat” for barbecuing fragile fillets of fish, smaller shrimp, or vegetables that have a danger of falling through the grill. Simply lay a piece of banana leaf on your grill, then cook your food items on top of it (as you would with tin foil). The banana leaf will turn bright green at first, then brown as you cook. It will give your food a hint of flavor that is very pleasant.
To store banana leaves, simply wrap them in plastic and place them in a ziplock plastic bag and keep in the freezer. Banana leaves only require about 30 minutes to thaw, so this is a convenient way to keep them fresh.
Use scissors to cut the banana leaves into the size you need, depending on your recipe. For wrapping and baking food items, you will need a large “sheet” or leaf. Place enough for one serving in the center of the leaf, then fold like a handkerchief to make a square packet.
Banana leaves are also excellent for steaming, as it allows the steam to penetrate the food inside or on top of it. You can use banana leaves to line a steamer or to wrap your food and then steam it.
Secure banana leaf “packets” with kitchen twine. Or simply place the packet “seam-side” down to keep it from opening.
Caribbean Inspired Fish Wrapped in Banana Leaves
Serves 2. Double the ingredients for 4 servings.
6 navel orange slices, rind removed
2 (6-oz.) sustainable skinless white fish fillets (such as snapper, halibut, or sea bass)
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 (12-in.-square) fresh or thawed frozen banana leaf pieces
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
Preheat oven to 400°F. Place the thawed banana leaves in hot water to soak for 10 minutes. Drain and place on a kitchen towel.
Coat fish fillets with oil and place them in the center of each banana leaf. Stir together salt, coriander, cinnamon, red pepper, ginger, and nutmeg; sprinkle evenly over the tops of the fish fillets. Place 3 orange slices on top of each fish fillet.
Fold each banana leaf piece to enclose the fish. Place packets, folded side down, on a baking sheet or in a glass baking dish. Bake at 400°F until fish is done, about 15-20 minutes. Unwrap and transfer fillets and orange slices onto serving plates. Garnish with chopped cilantro, if desired.
Wild Rice, Almond and Mushroom Pilaf
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup Lundberg wild rice blend
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Half a red onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
6 oz mushrooms, trimmed and chopped
1 chopped celery stalk
2 tablespoons toasted almonds, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoon dry sherry
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Bring the broth, rice, oil, and salt to a boil in a large saucepan. When the liquid returns to the boil, lower the heat, cover and simmer 40 -50 minutes until the rice is tender and the liquid has evaporated. Set aside.
Heat the oil over medium heat in a large nonstick skillet, and add the onion, garlic, celery, and mushrooms. Cook, stirring often, until tender, and the mushrooms have softened about 10 minutes. Stir in the cooked rice and the remaining ingredients. Cook, stirring until the sherry has evaporated. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve with the fish.
Honey- Baked Squash
1 large acorn squash (1 1/2 pounds), seeds removed cut into 8 lengthwise wedges
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon honey
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Arrange the squash wedges on a foil-lined baking sheet.
Drizzle the olive oil over the squash wedges.
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground fennel
2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper
1 tablespoon flour
2 tuna fillets about 1 lb total
1 tablespoon olive oil
Peppers and Onions
1 cup sliced Italian Frying Peppers
1/2 cup sliced onion
1 garlic glove, smashed
1/4 cup torn fresh mint leaves
Coarse sea salt and black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
One 15 ounce can cannellini or navy beans, drained, rinsed or ½ cup dried beans soaked overnight and cooked. (See recipe below)
1/2 cup jarred baby artichoke hearts, cut in half
1/2 cup sliced sun-dried tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
For the peppers and onions
Heat oil in a large deep skillet and add the garlic clove. Add the peppers and onions. Saute until tender about 5-6 minutes. Add the mint and season with coarse salt and pepper. Remove from the skillet and place on a serving platter.
For the tuna
Combine the coating mixture in a shallow dish.
Rinse the fillets in cold water, letting the water drip off but don’t dry the fish.
Coat the tuna fillets in the coating mixture.
Add the 1 tablespoon oil and heat. Carefully place the tuna fillets into the skillet. A spice crust should form within 1 minute. Using a wide spatula, turn the tuna fillets over, lower the heat to medium, and cook for 2-5 minutes to the desired doneness. Place the cooked tuna on the bed of onions and peppers.
For the beans
Heat the oil in a small saucepan and add the remaining ingredients. Heat over low just until hot. Serve with the tuna fillets.
How To Cook Dried Beans
8 ounces (1 cup) dried beans
1 small onion
2 garlic cloves, unpeeled, lightly smashed
Half a serrano or jalapeño pepper seeded, or 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 to 4 fresh thyme sprigs or ½ teaspoon dried
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Place the beans in a large saucepan, add enough cool water to cover by 1½ inches, and soak overnight at room temperature. Drain.
Place the soaked beans in a large saucepan with water to cover by 1½ inches. Add the onion, garlic, chili, thyme, and bay leaf. Bring to a low boil over moderate heat, then reduce the heat to low. Cook the beans at a bare simmer until they are just tender but not mushy, about 30-45 minutes. If necessary, replenish the water, so that it stays 1 inch above the top of the beans. Halfway through the cooking time, stir in the salt.
Remove from the heat. If you are using them right away, drain the beans. Remove and discard the onion, garlic, chili, thyme sprigs, and bay leaf. If you are not using the beans immediately, allow the beans to cool in their cooking liquid before draining. (Keep the cooking liquid to reheat the beans or to use in many of the recipes that follow.) You can keep beans, covered and refrigerated, for up to 3 days.
If you are looking to reduce some of the carbs in your diet, this is a good meal to make. Serve this wintertime dinner with pickles, Giardiniera, pickled peppers or olives on the side.
Italian Burgers With Garlic Lemon Aioli
Since I usually cook just for two, I cut this recipe in half.
1 1/4 lbs ground beef, shaped into four patties
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
Sprig of rosemary
1 large clove garlic, crushed
4 slices (1/4 inch thick) sweet onion
4 slices fresh tomato (1/4 inch thick)
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
4 slices 1/2-inch-thick and 4 inches wide of Focaccia bread, toasted
Quick Lemon Garlic Aioli
5 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Sprinkle of salt
1/2 cup olive oil mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Optional: ½ teaspoon anchovy paste
For the aioli
In a small, shallow bowl, combine the garlic and lemon juice. Stir to combine and spread it into an even layer. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Let the mixture rest for 10 minutes, so the lemon juice can absorb the garlic’s flavor.
Place a fine-mesh strainer over another bowl. Using a silicone or rubber spatula, scoop the contents of the bowl into the strainer, then press on the garlic with the spatula to get as much juice out as possible. Discard the garlic.
Stir the mayo into the garlicky lemon juice until combined. Add the Dijon mustard and anchovy paste. Aioli will keep well in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 10 days. It will thicken up more as it chills.
For the burgers
Season the burgers with salt, pepper, and dried Italian seasoning.
Heat a large deep skillet over medium-high to high. Add the olive oil to the pan and tilt the pan to distribute the oil..Add the patties and onion slices. Cook, about 6 minutes for rare or 8 minutes for medium-rare. Turn the patties and onion slices over halfway through the cooking time. Remove the onion slices and place them on the toasted bread. Leave the burgers in the pan.
Add the butter, rosemary, and garlic to the pan. Using a large spoon, baste the patties for about 2 minutes with the garlic-rosemary butter; top each burger with a slice of tomato. Place ¼ cup of shredded mozzarella cheese on top of each tomato. Cover the pan to melt the cheese, about 1 minute.
Serve the burgers on top of the toasted bread with the garlic aioli. I had baked Foccacia that was one-inch thick and I cut the pan into 4-inch square pieces. I then cut one square in half lengthwise to use for the base of the burger.
Red Cabbage Slaw
If you do not have lemon-flavored olive oil, add a teaspoon of fresh lemon juice to the dressing.
1/4 of a head of red cabbage, about 8 oz., shredded
1/2 cup shredded carrot
2 tablespoons chopped red onion
1 teaspoon honey
1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon minced fresh chives or 1 teaspoon dried
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons lemon-flavored extra virgin olive oil
Cover cranberries with water and let sit for 15 minutes while you prepare the remaining ingredients. Drain.
Toss together the cabbage, carrots, parsley, walnuts, and cranberries.
In a serving dish with a cover whisk together the vinegar, honey, mustard, salt, and pepper. Whisk in the oil. Toss with the cabbage, carrots, parsley, walnuts, and cranberries.
Taste, adjust seasonings and serve. Alternately, allow to sit for 30 minutes to an hour in the refrigerator, then serve.
Oven Roasted French Cut Ribeye Steak
1 large sweet onion, sliced
2 tablespoons butter
1 ½ lb bone-in rib-eye steak, frenched
Kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper
5 sprigs fresh thyme
2 sprigs rosemary
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 tablespoon olive oil
For the onions: In a medium skillet melt the 2 tablespoons butter and add the sliced onions. Cook until golden brown, about 10-12 minutes. set aside.
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Season steaks generously with salt and pepper; let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. Melt 1 tablespoon butter with 1 tablespoon. oil in a large heavy ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and add the steak to the skillet. Cook until seared and golden brown, 2 minutes per side. Scatter thyme and rosemary sprigs evenly in the skillet and dot with 2 tablespoons butter.
Roast steak in the oven, turning halfway through cooking and basting frequently with the herb butter in the skillet until an instant-read thermometer inserted into steak registers 125° for medium-rare, 12-15 minutes, or to your desired doneness.
Transfer steak to a cutting board. Drizzle with herb butter from the skillet and let rest for 10 minutes. Slice against the grain and divide among serving dishes. Top each serving with some of the sauteed onions.
1 pound small potatoes, cut in half
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 lemon, sliced
1/4 cup olive oil
Place the sliced potatoes in a skillet cut side down. Top with the garlic, thyme and lemon slices. Add salt to taste. Cover with cold water. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork, about 5 minutes. Drain well and reserve the garlic. Return the potatoes to the pan cut side down, add the garlic and olive and cook the potatoes until brown.
10 pkg, frozen spinach, defrosted and drained
2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
¼ cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan. Heat until the spinach is hot and tender about 6-7 minutes.
The Roasted Root Vegetable recipe can be found here.
4 cups shredded russet potatoes
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, melted
4 large eggs, beaten
1 cup half-and-half
4 slices cooked and crumbled bacon
3 cups diced leftover roasted root vegetables
1 cup shredded Cheddar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
Gently press the shredded potatoes between paper towels to dry them as best as possible.
In a 10-inch glass pie plate melt the butter in the microwave or the hot oven. Toss the potatoes with the melted butter in the pan. Add salt to taste. Press them into the bottom and up the sides to form a crust. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown and starting to crisp.
Sprinkle the bacon and half the cheese on the bottom of the crust.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the eggs, half and half, and diced roasted vegetables. Pour the egg mixture over the crust and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. Place the pan on a cookie sheet and then in the oven.
Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F and bake for about 30 minutes until the quiche is light golden brown on top and puffed. Let rest 10 minutes before cutting.
Homemade Tomato Soup
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 leeks, white and light green parts, diced
2 carrots with green tops, diced including the tops
3 stalks celery with leaves, diced
The top of one fennel bulb with fronds, diced (save the bulb for another recipe)
4 cloves garlic, minced
5 lbs fresh plum tomatoes
4 cups low sodium chicken stock
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons honey
A few dashes of hot sauce
I freeze the tomatoes and then defrost them overnight. The skins slip off easily. Or you can
bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; add the tomatoes to the boiling water and cook 4-5 minutes, or until skins loosen. Carefully remove tomatoes from the water with a slotted spoon. Set aside until tomatoes are cool enough to handle; carefully slip off the skins and discard. Chop the tomatoes and set aside.
Heat the oil in a heavy Durch Oven over medium-high heat; add the garlic, leeks, carrots, fennel, celery and sauté 3-4 minutes, or until vegetables are soft. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the chopped tomatoes.
Adapted from an article by Anthony Bourdain in Gourmet.
4 tablespoons butter, divided
4 ounces small whole mushroom caps
1 chopped shallot
2 minced garlic cloves
1 cup of water
½ cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Bouquet garni (wrap two sprigs of parsley, two bay leaves, and a sprig of fresh thyme in a piece of cheesecloth. Tie into a neat bundle with string)
1 pound fresh sea scallops, dried well
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 cup heavy cream
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Bread crumbs for the topping
Grated Gruyère or Fontina cheese
In 2 tablespoons butter in a medium saucepan saute the shallots, garlic, and mushroom caps until the mushrooms brown and lose their liquid. Remove to a bowl and set aside.
Add the water, wine, bouquet garni, and lemon juice to the saucepan and bring yo a boil. Add the scallops, cover, and remove the pot from the heat. Let the scallops sit in the liquid for 5 minutes. Remove the scallops with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Strain the liquid and discard the bouquet garni. Set aside
Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter in the saucepan and whisk in the flour. Do not let it get dark. Add 3 tablespoons of the scallop cooking liquid and mix until blended. Over very low heat, blend the flour mixture into the remaining scallop cooking liquid. Add the cream and simmer and stir until blended and thickened. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the scallops and mushroom mixture, and stir.
Fill 4 scallop shells or shallow 6-inch ramekins almost to the top with the scallop mixture. (If you’re not ready to serve the scallops, cover them with plastic wrap and refrigerate.)
Sprinkle the top lightly with bread crumbs and top with grated cheese.
Preheat the broiler. Broil the scallops until the mixture bubbles and the cheese melts and turns golden brown.
Save the leftover roasted vegetables for a delicious quiche. Recipe after Christmas.
1/2 cup olive oil
4-5 large carrots, peeled, cut on the bias, about 1-inch thick
3-4 parsnips, peeled, cut on the bias, about 1-inch thick
1 bulb fennel, trimmed and quartered
1 medium red onion, peeled and quartered
4 garlic, cloves, peeled and cut in half
4 fresh thyme sprigs
1/2 teaspoon Maldon sea salt
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Cover a large baking sheet with sides in foil.
Heat the olive oil in the microwave until hot. Place the carrots, parsnips, fennel, onion, garlic, and thyme on the prepared baking sheet. Pour the hot oil over the vegetables. Sprinkle with the salt. Transfer to the oven and roast until tender and brown, about 45 minutes.