Tag Archives: simple

Food and Fireworks

3 Jul

tumblr_mp43muLq3t1rsdtszo1_1280While these sparkling recipes are designed for July 4th fireworks, they are perfect for entertaining all summer long. Three cheers for the red, white, and blue! Hope you have a festive holiday weekend.

 

WATERMELON, FETA & SLIVERED BASIL SALAD
This is the essence of summer entertaining. It is a marriage of sweet and salty delights. Nice to mix red and yellow watermelon if you can find it.

– 6 thin slices of ripe watermelon, plus 3 cups of cubed watermelon, chilled
– 8 ounces feta cheese
– 1 cup slivered basil
– 24 oil-cured black olives
– ¼ cup olive oil

On a large platter, place overlapping slices of watermelon and scatter cubed watermelon on top. Crumble cheese and scatter on top.  Scatter basil on cheese and garnish with olives. Drizzle a little olive oil over fruit and cheese. Add a grinding of black pepper. SERVES 6.

 

tumblr_mp3yc4OIpy1rsdtszo1_1280SUN-DRIED TOMATO-BEEF SLIDERS with PESTO

These will surely become a family favorite – whether big or small. If making large burgers, they are sublime cooked on an outdoor grill.

– 1 pound ground beef (chuck or sirloin)
– 7-ounce jar sun-dried tomato in oil
– 1 cup finely diced yellow onion
– 1 tablespoon olive oil
– 12 little dinner rolls, split and toasted
– ½ cup prepared pesto
– 3 tablespoons Greek yogurt
– Handful of mesclun or baby arugula

Drain oil from the sun-dried tomatoes and set aside. Finely dice enough tomatoes to get ½ cup. Cut remaining tomatoes into slivers and set aside.

In a large skillet, heat reserved oil. Add onions and cook over medium-high heat until onions are soft and golden, about 10 minutes. In a large bowl, combine beef, diced sundried tomatoes, cooked onion with all the pan juices, ½ teaspoon salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add ¼ cup ice water and mix well. Form into 12 small patties. Heat oil in large skillet and cook burgers on each side for several minutes until desired doneness. Stir together pesto and yogurt. Place the burgers on the buns and top with pesto mixture. Garnish with a few leaves of mesclun or arugula, and the remaining slivered sun-dried tomatoes. MAKES 12 SLIDERS.

 

tumblr_mp2it2CMwI1rsdtszo1_1280BOMBAY TURKEY SLIDERS with HURRY-CURRY SAUCE

These are a cinch to put together and both the sauce and the sliders can be prepped early in the day.

HURRY-CURRY SAUCE

– ½ cup light mayonnaise
– ⅔ cup plain yogurt
– 4 teaspoons curry powder
– 2 tablespoons ketchup
– 1 small clove garlic, finely minced

BOMBAY TURKEY SLIDERS

– 1¼ pounds ground turkey
– 2 teaspoons curry powder
– 1 teaspoons ground cumin
– Large pinch chipotle chili powder
– 3 tablespoons finely minced scallions
– 4 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro or basil
– 1 tablespoon finely minced fresh ginger
– 3 tablespoons light mayonnaise
– 1 tablespoon olive oil
– 12 little dinner rolls, split and toasted
– 12 thin slices Kirby cucumber
– 12 thin slices plum tomato

Stir together ingredients for sauce. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Put turkey in a large bowl. Add the curry, cumin, chili powder, scallions, cilantro or basil, ginger and mayonnaise, plus 1 teaspoon salt. Mix until blended. Form into 12 small (2 ounce) burgers. Heat the oil in a large skillet and cook burgers over medium-high heat for 2 minutes, turn over and cook 2 minutes longer. Place the burgers on the buns and slather with curry sauce. Top with a slice of cucumber and tomato. MAKES 12 SLIDERS.

 

tumblr_mp4dvrL0St1rsdtszo1_1280RED, WHITE AND BLUEBERRY SHORTCAKES

This luxurious dessert is worthy of fireworks. Wonderful if you can get tiny ripe strawberries from your local farmer’s market. The light touch of lemon zest in the biscuits and thin layer of lemon curd makes these truly memorable. Garnish with edible flowers.

LEMON-BUTTERMILK BISCUITS

– 1½ cups flour
– ½ teaspoon salt
– 2 teaspoons baking powder
– ½ teaspoon baking soda
– 2 tablespoons sugar
– 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
– Grated rind of 1 lemon
– ⅔ cup buttermilk

SHORTCAKES

– 1½ cups heavy cream
– 3 tablespoons confectioners sugar
– 1 teaspoon vanilla
– ½ cup lemon curd
– 3 cups fresh berries: raspberries, tiny strawberries, blueberries
– Edible flowers for garnishing

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Sift together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and 1 tablespoon sugar. Cut butter into small pieces and incorporate into flour mixture. Add lemon zest and buttermilk and mix lightly. Turn dough out onto floured board. Roll out to 1-inch thickness. Cut out 3-inch round and place on ungreased baking sheet. Sprinkle lightly with sugar. Bake 16 to 18 minutes until golden. Let cool.

Whip heavy cream with confectioners sugar and vanilla until very thick.

Cut biscuits in half. Spread lemon curd on bottom half of each biscuit. Spoon whipped on top and add fruit. Top with biscuit “hat” and add more berries and whipped cream. Garnish with edible flowers. SERVES 6.

Super Bowl Recipe Countdown (Day 4)

31 Jan
Photo: Linda Greene

Photo: Linda Greene

Shrimp Veracruz with Rice, Corn & Green Olives

This is fabulously easy to make and so good to eat.  Serve with warm flour tortillas or crispy tortilla chips.

Prepare the components of the salad early in the day, then toss in the shrimp just before serving.  Serve with wedges of lime and hot sauce – green and red. Drink beer or tequila or make a pitcher of pomegranate margaritas.

Easily doubled for a crowd.

2 cups uncooked long-grain brown rice (or basmati rice)
1-3/4 cups fresh corn kernels, cut from the cob (or 10 ounces frozen corn, thawed)
6 scallions, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
1 cup coarsely chopped pimiento-stuffed green olives
1 pound very large cooked shrimp
16-ounce jar thick and chunky salsa (mild or medium)
1/3 cup olive oil
1 large lime, grated zest and juice
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika

Put 6 cups water, 2 cups rice, and 1-1/2 teaspoons salt in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and cook 30 minutes until rice is just tender. Stir in corn, then drain. Transfer rice mixture to large bowl. Refrigerate 1 hour, stirring occasionally.  Mix in scallions, bell peppers, and olives. Blend salsa, olive oil, lime zest, 1 tablespoon lime juice, cumin and smoked paprika. Stir half of the dressing into rice mixture. When ready to serve, add shrimp and remaining dressing to rice salad. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serves 8

One-a-day Great Superbowl Recipes (Day 1)

28 Jan
Photo by Hans Gissinger

Photo by Hans Gissinger

Three-Cheese Pimiento Mac with Parmesan Crumbs

I created this recipe for Bon Appétit magazine and it became the cover photo. It’s a comforting, American-styled baked pasta loosely based on a southern favorite – pimiento cheese – whose red bell pepper-cheddar-y taste profile is totally satisfying. The secret ingredient is sweet-and-spicy peppadew peppers. The components can be prepped ahead of time, assembled, and baked 20 minutes before serving. The recipe is easily doubled or tripled for a crowd and perfect for a Superbowl gathering.

1 large red bell pepper, 7 ounces
2 large garlic cloves, peeled
12 peppadew peppers, drained
1 tablespoon peppadew brine
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
¼ teaspoon ancho chile powder
5 ounces extra-sharp yellow cheddar, in small pieces
1/2 cup freshly grated parmigiano reggiano
4 ounces shredded whole-milk mozzarella
8 ounces gemelli or medium shells
½ cup panko
3 tablespoons slivered fresh basil

Cut the pepper in half and remove seeds. Cut pepper into 1 inch pieces and put in a small saucepan with 1/2 cup water and 1-1/2 cloves garlic. Bring to a boil, lower heat to medium and cover. Cook 15 minutes until peppers are very soft. Transfer contents (with water) to a food processor. Add the peppadews, brine, 2 tablespoons butter, chile powder and remaining ½ garlic clove. Process until smooth. Add cheddar and ¼ cup parmesan and process until very smooth.

Boil the pasta in salted water until tender, about 11 minutes. Drain under cold water and pat very dry. Toss pasta with the red pepper sauce. Stir in the mozzarella. Add salt to taste. Pack into a large soufflé dish.

Stir together the remaining ¼ cup parmesan and panko. Add the remaining tablespoon butter and, with your fingers, thoroughly moisten the crumbs. Add salt to taste. Sprinkle on pasta and bake 20 minutes until golden. Scatter basil on top. Serves 4

Day 7: A Radically Simple Countdown to Christmas

22 Dec

radicchioIn less than 18 minutes you can have a gorgeous fish dish that is worthy of the season. You might even consider it for your “seven fishes” dinner. The idea of roasting cod at such a high temperature was inspired by Shirley Corriher, scientist, chef, and author of the encyclopedic books, BakeWise and CookWise. I’ve added her felicitous pairing of buttery macadamia nuts and added my own wilted radicchio caressed with lemon. The combo is also great on sauteed chicken breasts. You might want to serve it with wild rice which I always enjoy during the holidays or fill your kitchen with Mediterranean flavors and make Bay-Smoked Potatoes (recipes below.) ‘Tis the season.

500-Degree Cod with Macadamia Butter & Radicchio

4 thick cod fillets, 7 ounces each
1 cup unsalted macadamia nuts, about 3 ounces
1 medium-large head radicchio, about 8 ounces
7 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 lemon
1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Season the fish with salt and pepper; place on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast for 6 to 7 minutes, until just firm. Meanwhile, chop the nuts and julienne the radicchio. Melt the butter in a large skillet. Add the nuts and cook over high heat, stirring constantly until browned, 2 minutes. Add the radicchio and cook until soft, 2 minutes. Add salt and pepper. Transfer the fish to 4 warm plates. Spoon the nut mixture on top. Top with grated lemon zest, a little lemon juice, and parsley. Serve immediately. Serves 4

Bay-Smoked Potatoes
1-1/2 pounds very small white new potatoes
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
12 dried California bay leaves

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Wash and scrub the potatoes; dry well. Do not peel. Toss with the oil and 2 teaspoons kosher salt. Distribute the bay leaves in a heavy ovenproof covered saute pan. Arrange the potatoes on top of the bay leaves in a single layer. Cover tightly with foil or a cover. Bake for 55 minutes to 1 hours, until the potatoes are soft and wrinkled. Transfer the potatoes and bay leaves to a platter. Drizzle with additional olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Serves 4 or more

Day 3: Countdown to a Radically Simple Christmas

18 Dec
ham

Photo: Kate Whitaker

One week to go before Christmas Eve, so it’s a good time to start planning your menu. Here is a favorite glazed ham that I make year after year. Served hot on Christmas Eve with mashed rutabagas and caramelized shallots, the morning after I sauté leftover bits with soft-scrambled eggs (delicious with toasted panettone and warm maple syrup). The next day I use the meaty bone to make fragrant lentil soup. Leftovers might also appear in a custardy quiche with sharp cheddar and cumin seed or as an honest ham sandwich, thinly sliced and piled high on rye bread. It’s mouthwatering any way you choose. (adapted from Christmas 1-2-3, Stewart,Tabori & Chang).

Glazed Christmas Ham
House-filling aromas will trigger mouthwatering anticipation. Its flavors — salty meat, sharp mustard, sweet crust — hits your palate like a harmonious chord. Simple cooking techniques keep it moist and succulent.

10-pound smoked ready-to-cook ham, shanks portion
1 cup coarse-grain mustard
1 cup sugar
1-1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon garam masala

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Place ham in a shallow roasting pan and add 1/4 inch water to pan. Cover ham with foil and bake 2-1/2 hours. Remove ham from the oven and pour off most of the fat. Raise oven temp to 450 degrees. Using a sharp, thin-bladed knife, remove the skin and most of the fat. Score the remaining fat by cutting diagonal slashes in a diamond pattern. Spread the ham thickly with mustard. Stir together sugar, cinnamon, and garam masala and sprinkle the surface of the ham heavily with the mixture. Return to the oven until sugar melts and hardens, about 25 minutes. It will become a bit crackly. Serves 12

Cauliflower Vichyssoise with Chive Flowers

27 May

The chive flowers are blooming once again which means it’s time to make my one of my favorite warm-weather soups:  Cauliflower Vichyssoise with Chive Flowers (and parsley oil). You may be astounded to know that the beautiful soup in the photo below is made with only six ingredients.  Four for the soup; two for the parsley oil. This soup is classically made from potatoes and leeks, both the chive leaves (straws) are used and the edible flowers pulled apart.  It is a dish of many virtues and healthy as can be.

I saw some lovely crimson rhubarb at the market, too.  Look here tomorrow for radically simple ways to prepare it. Have a meaningful Memorial Day.

 

Cauliflower Vichyssoise with Chive Flowers (adapted from Radically Simple)
This more healthful riff on classic vichyssoise is still luxuriously suave.  For a stunning presentation, blanch a bunch of parsley and puree in a blender with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1/4 cup water and salt; add a swirl to each serving to dance on the white velvet background.

2-1/2 pound cauliflower, or 1-3/4 pounds florets
2 large leeks
1 cup light cream
1 bunch chives with chive flowers

Break the cauliflower into small pieces and put in a 4-quart pot.  Add 5 cups water (water will not cover the cauliflower) and 2 teaspoons salt.  Chop the white parts of the leeks to get 1-1/2 cups.  Wash well; add to the pot.  Bring to a rapid boil; reduce the heat to medium.  Cover and cook until the vegetables are very soft, about 24 minutes.  Cool 5 minutes.  In 2 batches, puree in a food processor until ultra smooth, adding 1/2 cup cream to each batch.  Transfer to a bowl; add salt and pepper.  Cover; refrigerate until very cold.  Add water or additional cream if too thick.  Garnish with chopped chives and flowers, and optional parsley oil.  Serves 6

 

The Magic of Three Ingredients

4 Sep

With a touch of irony, I note that simplicity has become trendy. Again. This September’s cover story in Food & Wine breathlessly features their best “three-ingredient recipes ever.” Real Simple magazine boasted similar stories over the past two years, as did Oprah magazine.

I have to smile knowing that my 1996 cookbook Recipes 1-2-3: Fabulous Food Using Only 3 Ingredients launched a quiet revolution that now is being embraced by the food world’s upper crust. Not surprisingly in the era of rampant borrowing, there’s hardly ever any attribution to the concept’s creator, but the nine books in my 1-2-3 series have been nominated for 5 James Beard Awards (with three wins) and one Julia Child/IACP award. Along with a smash hit called The 1-2-3 Collection, (going strong at Apple’s iTunes store), these books continue to surface in stores and garner testimonials from devoted 1-2-3 practitioners.

It has been said, “Never trust a simple dish to a simple chef.” And it was with that in mind that I devised my daring three-ingredient formula where every ingredient counted except salt, pepper and water.

Like the minimalist movement in art, which reacted to the excesses of abstract expressionism, I wanted to strip away the froufrou that accumulated during the last few decade that came to define “contemporary” or “creative” cooking.

Instead of competing by the number of ingredients they cram into a dish or how high they can pile it on a plate, I longed for the high priests (and priestesses) of culinary wizardry to let the “ingredients speak for themselves” and manipulate them as little as possible.

When Alain Ducasse opened at the Essex House, his press release boasted of cooking “with just a few ingredients and some herbs”. Laurent Gras, made headlines at the Waldorf’s Peacock Alley by cooking with only two ingredients. Daniel Boulud, said “cooking with three ingredients is the way a chef really wants to and does cook at home.” Boston’s Lydia Shire once said “some of the world’s best dishes have no more than three ingredients.”

Today’s superstar chefs, when asked about what kind of food they’re cooking, give the same trendy answer. “Simple,” they say. But as I study menus from hot restaurants around the country, their offerings appear radically complex in both ingredient usage and cooking techniques.

As my three-ingredient philosophy has demonstrated over the years, there’s lots of intellectual glue (like using one ingredients several different ways) needed to make simple recipes work. In addition, cooking simply teaches valuable lessons about the way we experience taste. It would be fascinating to get into the “mind” of today’s top chefs as they claim to create their own streamlined dishes.

I like many of the recipes put forth by the test kitchen in September’s Food & Wine issue. The rules of the game, however, have been altered: Olive oil has been added to the list of “free ingredients.” That’s a bit like lowering the handicap of a well-seasoned golfer, but the recipes still sound delicious.

I offer you two crowd-pleasing three-ingredient recipes of my own: Lemon-Buttermilk Ice Cream is the perfect dessert for the remaining lazy-hazy days of summer, and Mahogany Short Ribs proved to be one of the Washington Post’s favorite recipes. You may want to check out the reservoir of three-ingredient recipes in my books (many still in print: Recipes 1-2-3; Recipes 1-2-3 Menu Cookbook, Entertaining 1-2-3, Healthy 1-2-3, Low Carb 1-2-3; Cooking 1-2-3, Kids Cook 1-2-3, Desserts 1-2-3, Christmas 1-2-3) and you’ll understand the magic.

Mahogany Short Ribs (adapted from Recipes 1-2-3)
This irreverent merger of foodstuffs results in a tantalizing dish that will amaze and amuse your guests. Prune juice tenderizes marbled ribs of beef, while teriyaki sauce ads a touch of sweetness and salinity. Nice with a bright, young zinfandel. Make sure the ribs are cut in between the bones to make 4 large thick ribs. These are known as “long cut” to differentiate them from “flanken” which is cut across the bone.

3 pounds short ribs, cut into 4 pieces
1 cup teriyaki sauce
1 cup prune juice

Place the ribs in a large bowl. Pour teriyaki and prune juice over ribs. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Remove the ribs from the marinade. Bring the marinade to a boil in a large pot with 1 cup water and 1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns. Lower the heat, add the meat, and cover the pot. Simmer for 2 hours, or until the meat is very tender. Remove the meat to a platter. Reduce the sauce for 5 minutes over high heat until syrupy. Immediately pour sauce over the ribs. This is also delicious the next day. Remove any congealed fat from the top of the sauce and slowly reheat ribs in the liquid. Serves 4

Lemon Buttermilk Ice Cream (adapted from Recipes 1-2-3)
How luxurious only 2 grams of fat can taste. This is fabulous served over fresh strawberries tossed with sugar and spiked with grappa.

2 cups sugar
5 large lemons
1 quart buttermilk

Put the sugar in a large bowl. Grate the zest of 2 or 3 lemons to get 1 tablespoon zest. Cut lemons in half and squeeze 2/3 cup juice. Add zest and juice to the sugar and stir until sugar dissolves. Add the buttermilk and a large pinch of salt and stir until completely smooth. Chill well and freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Serves 6 to 8

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