Spiced Lentil Soup

Spiced Lentil Soup

Spiced Lentil Soup

Dedicated to my fellow parishioners at the Episcopal Church of St. Luke in the Fields, Greenwich Village, NYC

IngredientsVegan
7 cups Vegetable Broth
2 cups Red Lentils, dry, rinsed
3 cloves Garlic, minced
2 cups Sweet Yellow Onion, diced
2 cups crushed Tomatoes
1/2 cup flat-leaf Parsley, chopped fine
1 cup Celery, diced
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 tsp ground Cumin
1 tsp Zaatar
1/2 tsp Lemon Juice
1/2 tsp ground Marjoram
1/2 tsp ground Coriander Seed
1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1/2 tsp Pepper
1/4 tsp Turmeric
1/4 tsp ground Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Lemon Zest
1/4 tsp Salt

Lemon wedges

Directions:

  • In a gallon size pot on medium heat, combine the Onion, Salt, Pepper, and Olive Oil; cook until the onions softens.
  • Add the Garlic, Lemon Zest, Lemon Juice, and Celery. Continue to saute until the Celery starts to soften.
  • Add all the other spices, and mix well so that the spices get into the oil and juices in the pot.
  • Add the Tomato, Vegetable Broth, and Lentils; bring to a boil, stirring often so that nothing sticks.
  • Reduce to a simmer, add the Parsley, and let cook until the Lentils become tender.
  • Taste, and adjust the seasoning and spices to your preferred tastes.
  • Garnish with a Lemon Wedge. Squirt the juice on the Soup.

Makes about 6 servings

NOTES:Lentil Soup is eaten in various parts of the world. This recipe utilizes spices from Northern Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia. Zaatar a spice blend used in North Africa, especially Egypt and Libya, often added to meats or rubbed in olive oil on flat bread. It is made up of Sumac, Oregano, Sesame Seed, often with other spices.

Lentil soup can be modified to your prefered tastes and needs. You can add chopped spinach or kale, or diced carrots or sweet potatoes. Keep in mind if you add additional starches, you may need to add additional spices. This meal is vegan, however one can add meat like chicken or lamb to it–or even sausage. It is also common to garnish with sour cream or yogurt.

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Shrimp and Lobster Scampi

Shrimp and Lobster Scampi

Ingredients:
6 Rock Lobster Tails, shelled, meat cut in large chunks
1 lb Shrimp, shelled, de-veined
1/2 cup Butter
2-3 Tsp Cayenne Pepper
6-8 cloves Garlic, sliced thin
2/3 cup Vermouth
Juice of 2 Lemons
2 cups Broccoli, cut in bite-size pieces
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Salt
2 cups Water (for steaming)

Directions

  • Bring the water to boil and place the Broccoli in a Steamer.
  • Sprinkle liberally with Salt, and drizzle the Olive Oil over them.
  • Close and steam for 3-5 minutes or until the Broccoli begins to turn bright Green. Set to the Side.
  • Pat the Shrimp and Lobster meat dry, and sprinkle the rest of the Salt, as well as the Cayenne Pepper on all sides of the meat.
  • Melt the Butter in a large skillet, and when the bubbles die down, carefully add the Shrimp and Lobster.
  • Cook thoroughly in the Butter on all sides, about 5-7 minutes on high heat, stirring often.
  • Carefully remove the Lobster and Shrimp to a bowl, leaving the Butter in the skillet. If there are small remnants of Lobster, that is ok.
  • Add the Garlic, Vermouth, and Lemon to the Butter. Be careful in case the flame rises.
  • Cook stirring for about 6 minutes, until the sauce begins to thicken.
  • Toss in the Lobster, Shrimp, and Broccoli.
  • Heat for another 3 minutes, tossing well.
  • Serve as is, or over Pasta or Rice.

Makes 4 Servings, 6 if you use over Pasta or Rice.

NOTES: I love this type of buttery, velvety, lemony, goodness of a dish. I would love to know from where in the world it really came from. In America, we tend to say it is an Italian dish, but so much of our Italian dishes are really in the “spirit of Italy”. In England, Scampi is a bar food made from a Prawn that is battered and fried–nothing like the dish we think of. The name Scampi is Italian in origin, though it refers not to the method of cooking, but rather to a lobster-like curved (ref. scampo) crustacean. The American version of Scampi uses Shrimp, though one often can find “Chicken Scampi”, suggesting that in America, we’ve lost the meaning of the word and use it to refer to the method of cooking it in a garlicky, lemony, butter and wine sauce. Nothing new there.

Grilled Vegetable Salad

Grilled Vegetable Salad

Ingredients:
1 bunch Asparagus, cleaned
1 Red Onion, cut in rings
1 Red Bell Pepper, slice each side off
4 oz Halloumi Cheese χαλούμι
1-2 tsp Olive Oil
1/2 cup Cherry Tomatoes, Sliced
1 Avocado, diced
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Black Pepper
2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 tsp Dijon Mustard
1/2 tsp Honey
1-2 tsp Sesame Seeds

Directions:

  • Using a brush, lightly cover the grilling grates, Asparagus, Bell Pepper, Onion, and Halloumi.
  • Prepare the Grill or Broiler as directed by manufacturer–you want medium high heat.
  • Place the Asparagus, Bell Pepper, and Halloumi on the grates and cover with the Onions and sprinkle with the Salt and Pepper. I suggest using an oven-safe cooling rack and placing it on top of the grate. If you use the cooling rack, it is easier to pick everything up in the end.
  • Close and grill for 5-7 minutes or until the onions and Halloumi begin to get a nice golden brown on the outside.
  • Remove and combine with the rest of the Vegetables in a large bowl.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the Lemon Juice, Olive Oil, Honey, and Dijon Mustard.
  • Drizzle over the Vegetables, sprinkle with Sesame Seeds, and Toss.

Makes about 6-8 servings.

NOTES: This is an ideal summer salad–full of fresh ingredients, tons of grilled flavor, and yet light, sweet, and citrusy. You can substitute Zucchini or Broccoli or just add them to the lot. I do not recommend grilling the Tomatoes, as they tend to fall apart Halloumi is a Cypriot/Middle Eastern cheese that is very dense, mildly salty, and can be GRILLED! It is a great addition to this dish, and complements the Asparagus and Sesame Seeds amazingly.

Céleri Rémoulade – Celeriac Salad

Céleri Rémoulade

Ingredients:
1 Celeriac Bulb, cleaned
1 Carrot, cleaned
1 small Cucumber, seeded and Julianne cut.
3 Shallots, thinly sliced
1/2 – 1 cup Walnuts, crushed
1 cup Greek-Style Yoghurt
1 Tbsp Honey
3 Tbsp Almond Oil
2 Tbsp White Wine Vinegar
1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
2 Tbsp fresh Mint, minced
1 Tbsp fresh Dill, minced
2 tsp ground Ginger
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Pepper

Directions:

  • Clean the Celeriac root by removing any scraggly roots and outer surface. Cut into pieces small enough to be easy to grate. I prefer to use my Food Processor’s food grater, so I make the pieces big enough to fit through the feeder. If you shred by hand, you may want them a good size for holding. Do the same thing with the Carrot.
  • Shred both the Celeriac and Carrot.
  • In a large bowl, combine the Celeriac, Carrot, Shallots, Cucumber, and Walnuts, and toss with your hands to mix well.
  • In a separate bowl combine all remaining ingredients and whisk together into a dressing.
  • Pour the dressing over the dry ingredients and mix well.

NOTES: Celeriac is one of those under-used vegetables in my opinion. Honestly, I don’t know why–its not too difficult to prepare, and you can eat it raw or cooked in any way imaginable that most root vegetables are cooked. Now regarding the Rémoulade itself. Traditionally, this would be made with Mayonnaise, and would not have Ginger and maybe a different set of spices. I found that a little bland and had to add some kick to it, but not overpower the fresh-taste of the Celeriac itself. The Rémoulade can be served as a side dish, or in a similar fashion to Cole Slaw–though it is not as strong. Many folks serve it as a side to fish. I prefer to eat it by itself as a side salad.

Ginger Citrus Glazed Salmon

Ginger Citrus Glazed Salmon and Roast Broccoli

Ingredients:
2 Salmon Filets (6-8 oz each)
Juice of 2 Oranges (medium size)
Juice of 1 Lemon
Juice of 1 Lime
2 Tbsp Butter
1 Tbsp Ginger, minced
1 Tbsp Garlic, minced
1 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
1 Tbsp Honey
Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Preheat Oven to 400°F.
  • Combine the Juice, Butter, Ginger, Garlic, Crushed Red Pepper, and Honey in a Sauce Pot on medium heat. Reduce in half.
  • Place the Salmon filets on a greased baking sheet, and sprinkle with Salt and Pepper to taste. Bake for 7 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and cover with Glaze.
  • Return to the Oven and cook for an additional 7 minutes, or until desired done-ness.

Makes: 2 Servings.

Notes: This is a simple and flavorful way to do Salmon. You can even toss it up by adding some mango or Pineapple juice to the mix.

Scaloppine di Pollo al Vino Bianco con Limone e Crema – Chicken Scaloppine

Ingredients:
1/4 cup All-Purpose Flour (for coating)
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp ground Black Pepper
1/4 tsp dried Oregano
1/4 tsp dried Basil
1/4 tsp dried Rosemary
4 Chicken Breasts, skinless, boneless, butterfly cut and pounded about 1/4″ thick
4 Tbsp Butter
4 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 clove Garlic, minced
1/4 cup Dry White Wine (Pinot Grigio)
1/8 cup Lemon Juice
1/4 cup Heavy Cream

  • Season the Chicken with Salt and Pepper on both sides
  • Dredge the Chicken in the Flour and set to the side
  • In a large skillet, brown each piece of chicken on both sides in the Olive Oil. When each piece is browned, remove from the skillet and place on a cookie sheet in the oven on the lowest setting, just to keep it warm.
  • Add the Garlic, Herbs, Lemon Juice and White Wine to the Skillet and de-glaze. (watch as it may flame up…not bad, just be careful!).
  • Add the Heavy Cream and Butter and simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Simmer until the sauce thickens, stirring constantly so to not burn.
  • Place the Chicken on Serving platter and cover with the Lemon, Wine and Cream sauce

NOTES: An easy way to pound the chicken flat is to place it between two sheets of cellophane with a little bit of olive oil. Take the back of a skillet and pound flat (or use a meat mallet if too heavy).

Variations:
Chicken Marsala – similar with Marsala wine, Mushrooms, and Prosciutto; no Heavy Cream.
Chicken Francaise – similar with breaded Chicken and Lemon slices, no Heavy Cream.
Chicken Picatta – similar with caper lemon sauce; no Heavy Cream.

Chicken, Mushroom, and Pastina Soup

Chicken, Mushroom, and Farfalline Soup

Ingredients:
1 Roast Chicken
2 cups Table Mushrooms, sliced
1 cup Cannellini Beans, soaked over night
1 cup Baby Spinach, chopped
2 Carrots, chopped into disks
6-8 Green Onions, whole
4 cloves Garlic, minced
1 tsp Olive Oil
6 cups Chicken Broth
1 tsp Rosemary, minced
1 Bay Leaf
1/2 tsp Sage, rubbed
1/2 tsp Thyme, ground
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Black Pepper
2 Lemons
1 cup Pastina of choice

Directions:

  • Remove the meat from the bones, and discard any bone and skin, or fatty pieces. Set to the side.
  • Trim the Green Onions at three inches from the bottom. Reserve the top, and cut the bottom whiter part into small pieces, about 1/4 a centimeter or 1/8 an inch.
  • Heat the Olive oil on medium heat in a large pot.
  • Add the Garlic, Carrots, and chopped part of the Green Onion. Lightly toss in the Oil and stir as they soften.
  • Add the Juice of 1 of the lemons, the Chicken Broth, the Salt, the Herbs, and Chicken.
  • Bring to a Boil, stirring often.
  • Add the Mushrooms, the drained Cannellini, and Spinach, and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 5-10 minutes or until the Mushrooms start to shrink.
  • Next add a Pastina. Let it simmer for another 20 minutes, stirring often.
  • Dice the reserved Green Onion stalks. Add them and the juice of the remaining Lemon just before serving.

Makes about 6 servings.

NOTES: This is a fancy version of chicken noodle soup, with a healthy dose of extra protein and vitamins. Pastini are just mini pastas–my favorite being Farfalline (little butterflies), but you can use whatever mini-pasta you prefer or even larger pasta if you like.

Sautéed Spinach Parmesan

Sautéed Spinach Parmesan

Ingredients:
1 lb Baby Spinach, cleaned
6-8 cloves Garlic, sliced length-wise thinly
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/2 Tbsp Crushed Red Pepper
Juice of 1 Lemon
6-8 Tbsp grated Parmesan, or equivalent shaved Parmesan
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Directions

  • Heat the Oil in a large skillet on medium heat.
  • Add the Crushed Red Pepper and Garlic, and saute for 30 seconds to let the oils infuse with the Olive Oil. Stir, and do not let it brown.
  • Add the Baby Spinach with tongs.
  • Let cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until it begins to wilt, using the tongs to stir so none burn.
  • Squeeze the Juice of the Lemon over the Spinach, and toss.
  • Plate the Spinach and top with the Parmesan.
  • Keeping in mind, the Parmesan can be salty, season to taste.

Makes 4 Servings.

NOTE: I love sauteed spinach, but prefer to use Baby Spinach because it usually comes prepackaged, cleaned, and is easier to eat. I like mine Lemony, Garlicky, with a mix of Hot from the Crushed Red Pepper soothed by the nutty, salty Parmesan. This is also a very QUICK side dish to make, and can often be done with oil used for accompanying chicken dishes–so less mess!

Tabbouleh – تبولة

Ingredients:
1 cup Bulgur Wheat
2 cups Boiling Water
3 Plum Tomatoes, seeded and diced
2 Cucumbers, peeled and diced
3 Green Onions, diced fine
4 cloves Garlic, minced
1 cup fresh Flat-Leaf Parsley, chopped
1/3 cup fresh Mint, chopped
1 tsp Cumin, ground
1 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Black Pepper, ground
1/2 cup Lemon Juice
2/3 cup Olive Oil

Directions:

  • In a large bowl, soak the Bulgur Wheat and Boiling Water for 30 minutes.
  • Using a cheese cloth, squeeze out any excess liquid from the Bulgur Wheat.
  • Return to a bowl and combine all ingredients. Mix well.

NOTES: Tabbouleh was another New York discovery for me – not having ever experienced it in Georgia or Ohio. I fell in love with it. It is light and fluffy and highly flavorful. Thanks to my love Michael for introducing it to me.

Sangria

Ingredients:
1 bottle Malbec
2 1/2 cups Apple Juice
1/2 cup Brandy
1/4 cup Gin
1/4 cup Vodka
Juice of 1 Orange
Juice of 1 Lemon
4 Tbsp Granulated Sugar
1 Orange, diced
1 Lemon, diced
1 Apple, diced

Directions:

  • Combine all ingredients in a large pitcher.
  • Stir well and refrigerate

Makes about 8 cups.

NOTES: This Sangria is a strong Sangria with lots of flavor. The first time I had Sangria was oddly in Germany in High School when I was an exchange student. I prefer a good Argentine Malbec wine, though you can use whatever dry red wine you prefer.

Niçoise Vinaigrette

Ingredients:
1 medium Shallot, minced
1 Tbsp Fresh Thyme, chopped fine
2 Tbsp Fresh Basil, chopped fine
2 tsp Fresh Oregano, chopped fine
1 tsp Fresh Rosemary, chopped fine
1 tsp Capers
1 Anchovy filet
1 Egg
1 tsp Dijon Mustard
1/4 cup Lemon Juice
1/4 cup Champagne Vinegar
3/4 cup Olive Oil
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Black Pepper, coarsely ground

Directions:

  • Using a Mortar and Pestle, crush the Anchovy, Capers, and Shallots with the Herbs.
  • Wisk in the Egg and Dijon Mustard.
  • Add the Vinegar and Lemon Juice, and mix well.
  • Whisk in the Olive Oil.
  • When the Olive Oil is finished, taste, and add Salt and Pepper to taste.

Makes about 1 cup.

Camarones Pimentón y Judías Verdes – Paprika Shrimp and Green Beans

Camarones Pimentón y Judías Verdes

Ingredients:
1-2 Shallots, chopped
5 cloves Garlic, minced crudely
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 tsp Paprika
1 tsp Cumin
1 tsp ground Coriander Seed
1 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1/2 lb Shrimp, cleaned (shells, veins removed)
3 cups Green Beans, cut in 1-1 1/2″ pieces
1/2 cup Sherry
Juice of 1 Lemon
2 Tbsp fresh Parsley, chopped fine
Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Heat the Olive Oil on medium heat in a large skillet until hot.
  • Add the Shallots, Garlic, Paprika, Cumin, Coriander, and Cayenne Pepper to the oil. Stirring constantly, heat for 1 minute to release the oils from the spices.
  • Add the Shrimp and Green Beans and toss in the Oil.
  • Cook for 4-6 minutes, stirring constantly. Make sure to flip the Shrimp to ensure both sides are cooked.
  • Stir in the Sherry, Lemon Juice, and Parsley, and cover for 2-4 minutes.
  • Add Salt and Pepper to Taste.

Serves 4.

NOTES: This is a flavorful dish from Spanish cuisine. You can kick it up a notch by adding more Cayenne Pepper. I prefer this as a festive side dish, however you can serve this as a main dish with a side of Yellow Rice or Quinoa.

Lemonade

Ingredients:
6-8 Lemons, for juice
2 lemons, for pitcher
5-6 cups Water
1 1/2-2 cups Granulated Sugar

Directions:

  • Press each “juice” Lemon on the counter and roll; then squeeze the juice into a bowl. Remove any seeds, and add to a 1 gallon or larger pitcher.
  • Heat 1 cup of Water in a kettle until near boiling.
  • Add the Sugar and Hot Water to the Pitcher with the Lemon Juice. If you want extra sweet, use the full amount or more, and if you want it less sweet, use less. Stir to dissolve the Sugar.
  • Slice the remaining Lemons into rings, and place in the pitcher.
  • If serving immediately, add Ice and the remaining Water, until filled. If serving later, or storing in the refrigerator, just fill with the Water until filled.

Makes 1 Gallon

NOTES: Lemonade is one of the quintessential drinks of Summer. I love it–especially with fresh juice. Adding the sliced lemons, allows for a little pulp to mix in, which I just love! What is amazing, is that most store-bought Lemonade tastes blah. I also don’t know how they can get away with adding so many other ingredients! Keep it simple.

Variations:
S›Ƨ – Substitute Splenda® for the Sugar.

Published in: on July 20, 2010 at 3:19 pm  Comments (2)  
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Chimichurri

Dedicated to my friend Anahi G. who educated me about Salmuera

Chimichurri-Marinated Skirt Steak and Chicken,
Grilled with Onions and Chimicurri Sauce on the side

Ingredients:
2 cups fresh Flat-Leaf Parsley, chopped
1/4 cup fresh Oregano
8 cloves Garlic
1/2 cup warm Water
1 1/2 Tbsp Salt
3 Tbsp Red Wine Vinegar
1 tsp Cumin
1/4 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
1 wedge of Lemon
1/4 cup Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

  • In a bowl, whisk the Salt and warm water together to dissolve. In Spanish, this is called salmuera which acts like a brine.
  • Combine the Herbs, Garlic, Cumin, Crushed Red Pepper into a Food Processor and pules a couple times.
  • Squeeze in the Juice from the wedge of Lemon, and drizzle in the Salmuera and Red Wine Vinegar, pulsing.
  • Remove to a bowl, and stir in the Olive Oil, and Salt and Pepper.

NOTES: This is a very simple Argentinian marinade and sauce. The first time I ever had it was in Jackson Heights, NY at one of their many tasty Argentine places. It should be chunky and not a paste like an Adobo or Pesto. Some Recipes will include Onion and sweet Red Peppers. I prefer to keep those out. If you are able, instead of the American variety of Crushed Red Pepper, try to get Aji Molido also known as Aji Triturado–a more authentic Argentine variety of Crushed Red Pepper. You can vary the amounts of spice and garlic based on your tastes. This marinade is great on Steaks and Chicken, but can also be used with Fish. Serve it as a sauce on the side of Steak or drizzled over Roasted Potatoes as well–you can’t go wrong!

Trying to find an etymology for the word has proved interesting.   Various sources say it was either created by an English soldier or butcher named Jimmy Curry or Jimmy McCurry, who created the sauce–and folks unable to say his name morphed it into chimichurri.  It seems far-fetched to me.  Similarly, one origins story says that it was introduced about the time England was trying to invade Argentina, and captured soldiers would ask for a sauce with their meat “Give me a curry” that somehow morphed into chimichurri by natives trying to mimic them.  It just seems strange to me that there would be any English involvement in the creation of this dish–but hey, I wasn’t there.

Creamy Red Coleslaw

Dedicated to The Rev. Tommy S., my Southern brother in Christ and friend in Dorothy, in honor of his recent move.

Creamy Red Coleslaw

Ingredients:
1 head Red Cabbage (about 4 cups shredded, shredded finely
1 large Carrot, shredded
1/4 Yellow Onion, grated
1 1/4 cup Mayonnaise
1 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
Juice of 1 Lemon
Juice of 1 Lime
1/4 cup White Wine Vinegar
2 Tbsp Sugar (more or less to taste)
1 tsp fresh Ginger, grated
1/4 cup Raisins
2 Tbsp Sesame Seeds
1 tsp Herbes de Provence
1 tsp fresh Chives
1 tsp Steak Spice Rub
Salt and Black Pepper to Taste

Directions:

  • In a large bowl, combine the Cabbage, Carrots, Ginger, Onion, and Raisins. Toss together.
  • In a gallon-size zipping baggy, combine the Mayonnaise, Dijon Mustard, Chives, Herbes de Provence, Steak Spice Rub, Salt and Pepper, Sugar, Juices, and Vinegar. Seal and mix well.
  • Pour over the top of the Cabbage Mix, and sprinkle with the Sesame Seeds.
  • Fold the mixture together until everything is coated.

NOTES: This is a tangy flavorful Cole Slaw that is very creamy. If you do not have Herbes de Provence, then you can substitute with Parsley, Basil, and a little Oregano and Thyme… just make sure the total amount is similar. This can be saved, sealed, for a week, and will become more flavorful as you go.

Variations:
S›Ƨ – Substitute Splenda® for the Sugar.

Potato Salad with Avocado-Yogurt Dressing

Potato Salad with Avocado-Yogurt Dressing

Ingredients:
6 large Red Pontiac Potatoes, cleaned, and chopped
2 Avocados, mashed
1/2 cup Greek-Style Yogurt
3 Tbsp fresh Chives, diced
1 Tbsp fresh Dill, diced
1 Roasted Yellow Bell Pepper, chopped
1 Roasted Orange Bell Pepper, chopped
Juice of 1 Lemon
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 tsp Dijon Mustard
1 tsp Salt
Pepper to Taste
Water for boiling

Directions:

  • Boil the Potatoes until fork tender. I suggest cutting them before because they will cook quicker, but you can cut after.
  • While the Potatoes are cooking, in a food processor, combine the Lemon Juice, Yogurt, Avocados, Mustard, and Herbs. Pulse to combine.
  • Slowly drizzle in the Olive Oil.
  • Add Salt and Pepper to Taste.
  • Drain the Potatoes and move them to a large bowl.
  • Add the Roasted Peppers.
  • Slowly add the Dressing, tossing to mix well. You may not use all the dressing.

NOTES: I like Potato Salad, but I often find it either tasting too much like Mustard or too much like BLAH. If you want a kick, add a diced Jalapeño to the mix.

Steak Matelote

Steak Matelote with Roasted Vegetables

Ingredients:
2 8-10oz Rib Eye (or favorite cut)
2 sticks Butter
2 Tbsp Steak Spice Rub
4 cloves Garlic
3-4 cups Table Mushrooms, sliced
juice of 1 Lemon
1 cup Heavy Cream
1 cup Cabernet Sauvignon (or other dry red wine)
1 Tbsp Corn Starch
1 tsp Herbes de Provence
1/4 tsp Mint, minced
2 tsp fresh Chives, minced

Directions:

  • Rub the Steak Spice Rub over both sides of the Steaks, using more if needed
  • Preheat oven to 250°F.
  • In a large skillet, melt 1 stick of butter on medium heat.
  • When the butter starts to bubble, add the Steaks. Do not move them once placed.
  • Cook without moving for 4-5 minutes, then flip and cook an additional 4-5 minutes.
  • Remove to cookiesheet and place in the oven for the duration of the dish preparation.
  • Add the Juice of the Lemon to the skillet, and rub off any pieces of meat or spice from the skillet with a whisk.
  • Add the remaining Butter, and let it melt.
  • Next add the Garlic and Mushrooms, browning the mushrooms on both sides.
  • In a cup whisk together the Corn Starch and the Wine.
  • Add the starched Wine to the skillet, followed by the Heavy Cream and Herbes de Provence and Mint.
  • Cook on medium heat until the sauce thickens and is bubbly (about 5 minutes).
  • Quickly stir in the Chives, and remove from the heat.
  • Plate the Steak, and pour the Mushroom Sauce over the Steaks.

NOTES: This sauce is super easy to make, full flavor, but um… not the healthiest. You can try substituting light butter and skim milk, but it just will not taste the same.

General Tso’s Chicken – 左宗棠雞

Ingredients:
3 lb Chicken Thighs, boneless, skinless, cut in bite-size chunks
1 cup & 2 Tbsp Corn Starch, divided
1-3 tsp Cayenne Pepper
2 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
1/4 cup Shaoxing Rice Wine 绍兴酒
1/2 cup and 1 tsp Soy Sauce, divided
1/4 cup Rice Wine Vinegar
1/2 cup Chicken Broth
3 Tbsp Honey
1/2 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
4 cloves Garlic, slivered
1 Tbsp Ginger, minced
8-12 Dried Tiānjīn Red Chili Peppers 天津辣椒
2 Scallions, cut in pieces
4 cups Broccoli, cut in bite size pieces
2 cloves Garlic, minced
Juice of 1 Lemon

1 1/2-2 cups Brown Rice
3-4 cups Water (or more)

Directions:

  • Cook the Brown Rice according to the directions on the bag and set aside
  • In a seal-able plastic bag, combine 1 cup Corn Starch and the Cayenne Pepper, mixing well.
  • Pat the Chicken pieces dry with a paper towel, and add to the bag. Seal and shake, coating the chicken in the powder.
  • Bring a wok to high heat and add 1/2 of the Vegetable Oil.
  • Remove the chicken from the bag and saute in the oil until browned on all sides.
  • Drain the chicken on paper towels.
  • Blanch or Steam the Broccoli spears and set to the side.
  • In a glass, whisk together the Rice Wine and remaining Cornstarch.
  • Heat the wok again, and add the Rice Wine/Corn Starch mixture, 1/2 cup of Soy Sauce, Rice Wine Vinegar, the Honey, Chicken Broth, Ginger, slivered Garlic, and Crushed Red Pepper, mixing well.
  • Heat until the mixture begins to bubble.
  • Add the Scallions, Tiānjīn Red Chili Peppers, and Chicken and coat well.
  • Pour the Mixture into a serving dish.
  • In another sealed bag, combine the remaining Soy Sauce, minced Garlic, and Lemon Juice.
  • add the Broccoli Spears and mix well.
  • Garnish the Chicken with the Broccoli or serve in a separate dish.

Makes 4 servings.

NOTES: So I was inspired to make this dish because of a very awful version that I ordered in from the local take-away. This version should be more flavorful, slightly spicier, and not as unhealthy as the heavy batter, deep-fried kind.

General Tso’s Chicken is believed to have been created in New York City in the 1970s as an attempt to introduce the spicier Hunan cuisine to what was generally Cantonese cuisine in the city. There are two chefs who are attributed as possible inventors of this dish, Chef Peng Jia of Peng’s Restaurant formerly of E 44th St and Chef T. T. Wong of the Shun Lee Palace restaurants. I have also found claims of invention by a chef in Taiwan about the same time. As far as I can tell, the Peng Jia seems to be the most widely accepted, though no one seems to know for sure.

General Tso’s Chicken is named after Zuo Zongtang (左宗棠, 1812–1885), a Qing Dynasty general from Hunan Provence. I cannot find any reason or rational as to why the dish is named after him. Another source suggests that the name is really a mis-translation. Eileen Yin-Fei Lo states in her book The Chinese Kitchen that the dish originates from a simple Hunan chicken dish, and that the reference to “Zongtang” in “Zuo Zongtang chicken” was not a reference to Zuo Zongtang’s given name, but rather a reference to the homonym zōngtáng 宗堂, meaning “ancestral meeting hall”. As one who is completely ignorant to Chinese languages, I’ll have to take her word for it. Also regionally, in the US, there are various spellings of used…Gua, Tsao, Tsa, Cua, Zuo, etc… reflecting how poorly we Americans transliterate Chinese.

Fennel Salad

Ingredients:
2 medium Fennel Bulbs
2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
1/4 cup Olive Oil
1/4 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Pepper
1 tsp Sesame Seeds
Shaved Parmesan Cheese to taste

Directions:

  • Trim the Fennel of any Stalks, and Fronds; trim any fibrous material with a peeler. Reserve Fronds for garnish.
  • Cut Fennel Bulbs in half vertically and remove the fibrous cores.
  • Laying each side flat, cut the Fennel horizontally into thin crescents.
  • In a large bowl, toss the Fennel crescents with the Olive Oil, Lemon, Salt & Pepper
  • Move to serving dish(es).
  • Chop of the Fronds.
  • Garnish the Fennel with the Sesame Seeds, Fronds, and some shaved Parmesan slices.

NOTES: Fennel has a nice strong anise flavor that is complemented by the Sesame seeds and salty Parmesan Cheese. This salad is a great salad for a Spring day.

Variations:
Ṽ›Ɣ – Omit the Parmesan.

Lemon Basil Green Beans

Lemon Basil Green Beans

Ingredients:
3 cups Green Beans
2 cloves Garlic, slivered
1/4 cup Basil, chopped fine
1 tsp Salt
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
Juice of 1 Lemon

Directions

  • In a large skillet, heat the Olive Oil with the Garlic for about 1 minute on medium heat.
  • Add the Green Beans, Herbs, and Salt.
  • Sauté for about 4-7 minutes.
  • Remove to serving bowl.
  • Toss in the Juice of the Lemon.

NOTES: This is a super easy, healthy side dish that requires little time to prepare.

Rosemary & Lemon Roast Red Potatoes

Rosemary & Lemon Roast Red Potatoes

Ingredients
4 cups Red Pontiac Potatoes, cut into bite size chunks
2-4 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Rosemary, chopped
1/2 cup Yellow Onion, diced
2 cloves Garlic, slivered
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Black Pepper
1/2 cup Lemon Juice

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 400 °F.
  • Heat the Olive Oil in a skillet with the Rosemary, Onion, and Garlic for 3-5 minutes on medium heat. Do not let it smoke.
  • Place the Potatoes in a large bowl and toss with the Lemon Juice and Salt.
  • Carefully pour the Olive Oil, Rosemary, Onions, and Garlic into the bowl with the Potatoes and toss.
  • Pour into a large baking dish and sprinkle with the Black Pepper.
  • Roast for 30-40 minutes until fork tender and crisp on the outside.

Makes 4 servings.

NOTES: You do not have to use Red Pontiac potatoes, so long as the potato used is cut into bite size pieces.

Roast Leg of Lamb

Roast Leg of Lamb with Tzatziki

Ingredients:
5-6 lb bone-in Leg of Lamb
6-8 cloves Garlic, minced
6-8 cloves Garlic, sliced in half horizontally
2 Tbsp Lemon Zest, divided
2 Tbsp Oregano, divided
2 Tbsp Rosemary, divided
2 Tbsp Mint, divided
2 Tbsp Salt, divided
1 Tbsp Black Pepper, divided
1 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
1/2 Tbsp Cardamom
1 Tbsp Crushed Red Pepper
1 cup dry Red Wine
1 cup Lemon Juice
3 Tbsp Olive Oil

Directions

  • Combine the minced Garlic, half of the Lemon Zest, Rosemary, Oregano, Mint, Salt, and Black Pepper, the Crushed Red Pepper, Red Wine, and Lemon Juice in a large container for a marinade. The container should be able to hold the leg of lamb, and be sealed. I advocate using a seal-able bag.
  • Place the Lamb in the container with the marinade and refrigerate for 6-12 hours.
  • After marinating, remove the Lamb to a roasting pan, and pat dry.
  • Preheat oven to 450°F
  • Taking a large paring knife, cut slits in the meat about 1/2″ wide, and 1″ deep.
  • Insert the Garlic slivers into the slits.
  • Taking the remaining Herbs and Seasoning, rub the Lamb. If you need more, feel free to add more.
  • Take the Dijon Mustard and lightly spread along the Lamb over the rub. Try to avoid clumps.
  • Drizzle the Olive Oil over the top.
  • Place in the oven, and roast for 20 minutes.
  • Reduce the heat to 325°F and roast for an additional 25-35 minutes, or until desired doneness.
  • Rare is about 25 minute with an internal temperature of 135°F
  • Medium-rare is about 30 minutes with an internal temperature of 140°F
  • Medium is about 35 minutes with an internal temperature of 160°F
  • Remember to put the meat thermometer in the thickest part of the leg, and not touching the bone.

Serve with Tzatziki or Mint Jelly

NOTES: This recipe pulls on Greek flavors from my neighborhood Astoria. For me, lamb says Spring, Easter, and Passover. Traditionally, Lamb (קרבן פסח)would have been sacrificed on the first night of Passover in remembrance of the lambs blood that was painted on the door posts of the Hebrew homes in Egypt, signifying to the Angel of the Lord to passover that house and spare the first born son. The use of a shank-bone on the Seder plate is reminiscent of this sacrifice, and in some places, Lamb is eaten as the primary meat in the Seder meal.

In the Christian tradition, which I am much more familiar with, the symbol of the lamb has been drawn from Passover and applied to Jesus as the sacrificial lamb which allows death to passover all those washed in the blood of his sacrifice. You will see a lot of symbolism around Easter time in both the Western and Eastern Churches of the Paschal Lamb, often carrying a banner and sitting on a broken sarcophagus.

Jan Van Eyck painting “Ghent Altarpiece”, finished 1432

Whether celebrating Passover or Easter or just a group of friends coming for a visit, lamb is a great festive choice of food, and probably my favorite meat.

Cancun Ceviche

Cancun Ceviche on a Bed of Mescaline Greens

Ingredients:
1/2 lb Shrimp
1/2 lb Sea Scallops. diced
1/2 lb Lump Crab Meat
1 cup Mango, diced
1 cup Avocado, diced
1 medium Red Onion, thinly sliced
2 Jalapeños, minced
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 tsp fresh Ginger, minced
2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Black Pepper
1/4 cup Cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup Mint, chopped
1 cup Lime Juice
1/2 cup Lemon Juice

Directions:

  • Steam the Shrimp in shell.
  • Peel and de-vein the Shrimp, and dice.
  • In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well.
  • Cover with Cellophane and refrigerated for 3-6 hours, stirring occasionally.

NOTES: Ceviche is thought to originate in Peru, however almost every Latin-American country has their own variation on the dish. You can even vary what seafood or fish you wish to use. I suggest when using shell fish, to steam it first. The citric acid from the Lime and Lemon Juices react with the protein “cooking” the fish, but with shellfish I always use extra precaution–think you don’t usually see raw lobster or shrimp in sushi.

Apple and Pecan Pie

Ingredients:
Pecan Pâte Brisée, divided in 2 disks
6 cups Granny Smith Apples, peeled, cored, sliced
2 tsp Lemon Juice
1/2 cup chopped Pecans
3/4 cup Granulated Sugar
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
1/4 cup All Purpose Flour
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp ground Cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground Ginger
1/4 tsp ground Nutmeg
2 Tbsp Butter, cold and cut into pieces.
1 Egg yolk
1 tsp Water
8-12 Pecan Halves for decorating

Directions:

  • Preheat Oven to 425° F
  • In a large bowl toss the Apples, Lemon Juice, chopped Pecans, Sugars, Flour, Salt, and Spices, coating the Apples well.
  • On a very clean, floured surface, roll out 1 of the disks of Pâte Brisée into a circle about 10″ for a 9″ Pie Pan.
  • Placing your rolling pin mid way across the crust, fold back half of the crust over the rolling pin, so as to utilize the rolling pin to move the crust over the Pie pan. Unroll and gently fit into the Pie pan. It is ok for crusts to hang over the sides.
  • Place the Apple mixture into the pie crust and dollop with the pieces of Butter
  • Repeat the rolling and placement with the second disk of Pâte Brisée, this time placing over the apple mixture in the Pie Pan.
  • Press along the edges of the two crusts to seal the dough.
  • Using a knife, trim the excess dough.
  • You may crimp the crust as you see fit.
  • Cut slits in the top of crust to allow for steam to escape.
  • Decorate with the Pecan Halves
  • In a small bowl, beat the Egg Yolk with the water.
  • Brush the Egg mixture over the crust.
  • Place in the oven and cook for 15 minutes.
  • Reduce the heat to 350° F and cook for an additional 40 minutes.

NOTES: If you fear the crust may burn, after the first 15 minutes, wrap aluminum foil around the edges.

Tapenade

Tapenade

Ingredients:
1/2 cup variety of Black Olives, pitted
1/2 cup variety of Green Olives, pitted
1 Peperocini or Banana Pepper, de-seeded
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 Tbsp Capers
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 tsp Lemon Juice
1 tsp Anchovy Paste (optional)
1/4 tsp Black Pepper

Directions:

  • Combine all ingredients into a food processor and pulse. You want a minced-grainy consistency.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

Serve with bread or crackers or use as a topping on grilled meats.

NOTES: Tapenade comes from the Provençal region of Southern France, finding its name from the provençale word for capers, tapéno.
With regards to the types of Olives used… you can use any variety you choose. I like Kalamata Olives and Manzanilla Olives, but it is completely up to your tastes and cultivar availability. You can even use “Spanish Olives” with pimentos in the middle–gives it some color. I would probably not use a cheese-stuffed Olive, however.
I am not always a fan of Anchovies, and feel strongly that if you do not like ’em, leave ’em out.

Variations:
M›Ṽ/Ɣ – Leave out the Anchovy Paste.