Chimichurri Sauce

I fell in love with this sauce the first time I had it.  It is incredibly bright, well spiced, vibrant, and pairs fantastically with grilled red meat.  I wanted to serve patatas bravas with my brunch this morning and thought- why not serve it with an Argentinian rendition of the classic steak and eggs. Thus was concocted the decadent Spanish feast perfect for a snowy weekend in OCTOBER!

Chimichurri Sauce
4 cloves garlic
1 poblano pepper (seeds included)
1/4 cup Italian parsley
1/2 cup cilantro
1/2 cup mint
1/2 cup basil
5 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 large jalapenos (seeds included)
1 lime, juiced
Dash cumin
Dash garlic powder
Salt to taste)

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.  Season to taste with salt.  Serve room temperature, drizzled on steak.  Enjoy!


Patatas Bravas

One of my favorite tapas is patatas bravas.  They are like spicy, delicious Spanish french fries.  They serve as a perfect late night bite, side dish, or even as a breakfast.  And they combine so many things I love all in one dish: spice,  fried potatoes, and scallions–not to mention the mayo.  How can you resist?

Patatas Bravas
Serves 3-4

6 medium Idaho potatoes
canola oil for frying
1/4 cup Tapatio
1/3 cup tomato sauce
1 teaspoon hot smoked paprika
3 cloves garlic, pressed
1 Italian pepper, minced with seeds included
3 scallions

Fill a medium sized stock pot 3/4 full with salted cold water.  Next, peel and dice your potatoes.  Immediately throwing them into the salted water.  Once all potatoes are cut, turn the heat to high and cook the potatoes for about 20 minutes until the pot is just starting to boil.  Strain immediately and allow to steam dry.

Next, fill a frying pan 1 inch high with canola oil and bring to high heat so that as potatoes are added they will instantly start frying.  (I like to test with one potato slice first–if the oil starts to bubble around it as you throw it into the pan you have reached the correct temperature– but make sure the pan doesn’t start to smoke).

Fry the potatoes in batches, to avoid overcrowding.  Cook each batch about 8-10 minutes- turning from time to time until an medium-brown crust has formed.  Once potatoes are fully fried, remove them to a paper towel-lined plate and season with salt.

As you finish frying, start making the sauce.  In a large bowl, combine Tapatio, tomato sauce, paprika, garlic, and minced pepper.  Mix thoroughly with a fork.  Once all potatoes are cooked and seasoned, toss them in the bowl with the sauce and immediately plate.  Drizzle with mayonnaise (I used a pastry bag to create a latticed look) and top with scallions.  Serve immediately.  Enjoy!


Horseradish Mashed Potatoes

Mashed potatoes are very simple but their are several tricks to make them super creamy and just a little special.  One- I always love to flavor the potatoes with a strong ingredient: wasabi mashed, cheddar mashed, garlic mashed, or horseradish mashed (which pairs very well with beef).  The next trick is to get a little decadent– butter and cream I’m talking.  You don’t want to do diet mashed when the cold weather hits. You want to make it a little more hearty and a whole lot tastier.

Horseradish Mashed Potatoes
Serves 2-3 side dish

3 cups peeled, diced Idaho potatoes
5 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup half and half
3 tablespoons horseradish
salt and freshly ground pepper

Fill a medium stock pot 1/4 full with cold water.  Salt the water heavily and as you are peeling potatoes, immediately add them to the water (step 1: keeping your mashed spuds perfectly white).  Once all your potatoes are added, fill with additional water until potatoes are completely covered. Bring stock pot to high heat and cook for 15-18 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small stock pot add butter, milk, and half and half.  Bring to medium heat but simmer before mixture has a chance to boil. (warming your milk makes it a lot easier to incorporate it quickly into your potatoes and also keeps it at the perfect serving temp.)

Test potatoes with a fork. Once they are tender and mash easily, drain them and allow them to steam dry for 2 minutes.   (remove all water so that the potatoes absorb the cream and butter in its place) After they have steamed, return them to the medium stockpot and work over with a potato masher until potatoes begin to cream.  Add in butter/milk and whip with an electric blender.  Add in horseradish and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve warm.  Enjoy- and oh, you will.

Matzo Ball Soup

A good friend of mine, Rachel, taught me the trick to matzo ball soup– extra onion and dill.  A rich, heartwarming soup was amplified immensely.  Now I have my killer chicken stock, delicious matzo balls, and bright accented aromatics.

Matzo Ball Soup
(Serves 3-4)

1 (3 pound) whole chicken
3 bay leaves
2 cups diced onion
1 cup diced carrot
1 cup diced celery
1 head garlic, excess skin and top sliced off
1/2 cup packed fresh parsley (stems included)
1 package Streit’s Matzo Ball Mix
1 (32 ounce) carton chicken broth
salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons minced dill
1/4 cup minced onion plus 3 tablespoons minced onion
1/2 cup peeled, sliced carrot (each slice about 1/4 inch thick)

In a large stock pot, add chicken and cover with water till water rises 2 inches above top of chicken.  Add in bay leaves, onion, carrots, celery, garlic, and parsley. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and cook for 1 hour.  Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, mix Streit’s matzo ball mix as directed and allow to rest for 15 minutes.

Strain stock into another large stock pot.  Discard onion, carrot, bay leaves, celery, garlic, and chicken carcass.  (save chicken meat for chicken salad sandwiches).  Then add extra chicken broth to homemade stock and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Once matzo ball mix has rested, add in 3 tablespoons dill and 3 tablespoons minced onion.  Mix well then divide into 8 portions and roll into balls.  Bring another stock pot of water to a boil.  Add in matzo balls and reduce to a simmer.  Cover and cook for 30 minutes (thanks Streit’s that was the perfect time).

To finish: bring chicken stock to a boil and add in remaining carrots and onion.  Cook till carrots are al dente then reduce to a simmer and add in remaining dill. (To test carrots, use a fork– just remember they will continue to cook so you want them just under where you like them).  Take a slotted spoon and add in matzo balls to chicken broth.  Serve warm with challah.  Enjoy!



Spicy Tomato Chicken Masala

This chicken is tangy, spicy, and richly fulfilling.  The vibrant spices really make the meal not only taste divine but also make it incredibly captivating for the eyes.  What’s even better is that it is super easy to cook.

Spicy Tomato Chicken Masala
Serves 4-6 full portions

Spice Mix:
1 teaspoon tumeric
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon mustard powder
Pinch cardamon
Pinch nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
3 large cloves of garlic, pressed
2 serrano chilis, minced with seeds included
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons red curry paste
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 lime, juiced

Spicy Tomato Chicken Masala:
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 cups diced onion
3 cups diced tomato
4 cups diced chicken breast
2 teaspoons arrow root
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Coarsely chopped cilantro, garnish
Kasmati rice, cooked according to package instructions

In a medium bowl, mix spice ingredients and whisk until a smooth paste forms.  Next, add canola oil to a dutch oven and bring to a medium-high heat.  Add in onions and tomatoes and cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring several times.  Next, mix in spice mix and add in chicken.  Stir until all ingredients are coated with spices and cover and reduce the heat to a simmer.  Simmer covered for 25-30 minutes until chicken is fully cooked and tender.  Next, in a small bowl mix arrow root with 2 teaspoons of cold water until you have created a paste.  Whisk that paste into your chicken mixture in order to thicken the sauce.  Continue to stir till sauce has thickened.  Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper.  Serve warm on a bed of kasmati rice with cilantro leaves as garnish. Enjoy!


Aloo Gobi

Strictly vegetarian and darn tasty- this Indian inspired dish is an absolute favorite of mine.  I add chickpeas to pump up the protein and really turn this into a complete meal.  Served with toasted garlic naan and a crisp IPA or even a mango lassi and you have a killer meal.

Aloo Gobi
(Serves 8-10 full portions)

Spice Blend:
1/2 teaspoon tumeric
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon mustard powder
1/4 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder
Dash of cinnamon
Dash of nutmeg
Dash of cardamon
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon fresh minced ginger
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 serrano pepper, minced with seeds included

Aloo Gobi:
2 tablespoons canola oil
4 cups (about 3 medium) diced white potatoes
2 1/2 cups (1 large) diced yellow onion
5 cups (1 head) cauliflower florets
2 (15 1/2 ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed in collander
2 cups frozen peas
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 lime, juiced
Cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped for garnish

In a medium sized bowl, mix all ingredients for spice blend and whisk until a smooth paste forms.  Next, add canola to a large dutch oven.  Bring to medium-high heat and add potatoes and onion.  Cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring several times and then add in 1 cup of water along with cauliflower florets and spice blend.  Mix until spices are evenly blended and then cover with a lid.  Lower heat to medium and simmer for 15 minutes.  Add in chickpeas and frozen peas and mix until fully incorporated.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  This is a large recipe so don’t be stingy on the salt.  Just taste as you go.  Finish with lime juice and remove from heat.  Top with chopped cilantro and serve with garlic naan and beverage of your choice.  Enjoy!


Steak Filet with Cabernet Sauce

Sometimes you just have to treat yourself and there’s nothing like a meat treat! Okay, meat treat may sound like a cruel high school joke but I think of it as something decadent, rich, and somewhat naughty.  Filet Steak– YES-that’s what I’m talking about.  Now add a wine based sauce to dip those tender nuggets in and you are talking a truly satisfying meal that looks as decadent as it tastes.

Steak Filet with Cabernet Sauce
Serves 2

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 (6 ounce) filet steaks (cut from tenderloin)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon minced garlic
4 tablespoons butter, divided
1 cup cabernet sauvignon
1 cup beef stock
1 teaspoon minced capers
1 teaspoon dijon

Preheat oven to 400F.  In a large saute pan, add 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Bring to high heat. Season filet steaks with salt and freshly ground pepper.  Add to a pan and make sure it sizzles! Sear on all sides about 2 minutes per side.  Then place on a baking sheet and bake till medium-rare.

A tip on perfectly cooked red meat: POKE IT! Test it with your finger–here’s the trick.

As your meat is cooking, take your saute pan and add 1 tablespoon minced garlic.  Cook on low for 1 minute with 1 tablespoon butter then add in red wine and beef stock.  Bring to a boil then whisk in dijon.  Continue cooking until the liquid has reduced by half its volume–about 10-15 minutes. Finish with 3 tablespoons of butter, stirring constantly as you add. Season cabernet sauce to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Allow steak to rest and then slice and serve along with your cabernet sauce.  Additional great sides: oven-roasted red potatoes, roasted portabella mushrooms, and steamed broccoli.  Enjoy!


Shredded Pesto Chicken Linguini

Pesto is like a secret weapon for taste. You can add it to protein, pasta, or vegetables and it tastes phenomenal.  I had pesto shredded chicken left over from a party- it made a great mini appetizer.  I was like- sandwich? salad? soup? pasta? You may be just beginning to sense my obsession here…

Shredded Pesto Chicken Linguini
Serves 6-8

3 cups basil leaves
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
4 tablespoons pine nuts
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 large boiled chicken breasts (if you boil the chicken in chicken stock you create a super rich broth for use in soup-2x the chicken taste!)

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large zucchini (makes 2 cups when diced)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 box linguini, cooked according to package instructions
4 cups baby arugula

To make your pesto:

In a Cuisinart, mix basil leaves, olive oil, parmesan, and pine nuts and pulse until evenly blended.  Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Shred boiled chicken after it has cooled and mix with pesto (add additional olive oil if necessary to spread the pesto through all the chicken).

Next, in a large saute pan, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and bring to medium-high heat.  Add zucchini and cook for 4-5 minutes, until it starts to become tender and takes on a golden brown color. Stir in minced garlic as well as cooked linguini, chicken, and arugula (I worked in batches since its a large recipe and then stirred once cooked in a large bowl).

Mix fully and serve warm.  Enjoy!


Roasted Tomato and Shredded Beef Cannelloni

Sometimes pasta is just so appealing.  For a little something different I stuffed these cannelloni noodles with a shredded, mushroom infused beef instead of a typical cheese or ragu filling.  The roasted tomatoes add a freshness and a depth of flavor to take the whole idea of an oven baked Italian dish and make it even more enticing.

Roasted Tomato and Shredded Beef Cannelloni
Serves 4-6

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 1/2 pounds beef stew meat
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3 cups beef broth
1 large handful of shiitake mushrooms (about 2 cups with stems), washed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon sherry
5 tablespoons Boursin cheese
1 package cannelloni pasta (cooked according to instructions)
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese

In a large sauté pan add canola oil and bring heat to high.  Season beef generously with salt and pepper.  Working in batches, begin to sear the beef, about 2 minutes per side.  Work until all beef is fully browned on all sides.  Set beef aside.

Remove the stems from your shiitake mushrooms and dice the caps finely.  Add the stems to a medium-sized stock pot.  Cover with beef stock.  Then add the diced caps to your saute pan along with olive oil and cook over medium-high heat for about 1-2 minutes.  Add in sherry and cook until liquid is no longer visible.  Set aside mushrooms.

Bring the stock pot with beef broth to a simmer and add in seared beef.  Cover and simmer mixture for 2 hours (until meat is tender when pierced with a fork).  If you really want super tender shredded beef another way of going about it is using a slow cooker and cooking your meat the night before.

As your meat is cooking, you can get started on your tomato sauce:

Tomato Sauce:
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 1/2 cup small diced onion
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 (28 ounce) can crushed San Marzano tomatoes
6 cloves garlic, pressed
1 cup fresh basil leaves
1 (16 ounce) carton cocktail tomatoes
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

In a large sauté pan add 1 tablespoon olive oil and bring to medium-high heat.  Add in onions and cook 2-3 minutes until onions start to become translucent.  Add in pressed garlic, canned tomato sauce, and basil.  Keep at a simmer.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 450 and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.  Rub cocktail tomatoes with remaining olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Bake for 20 minutes then add them to the simmering tomato broth.  They will easily break apart in the sauce with a wooden spoon.  Continue to simmer sauce as meat cooks.  Then finish with red pepper flakes and smoked paprika.  Season to taste and remove from heat.

Once meat is tender, remove and shred with a fork.  Discard mushroom stems and return remaining broth to the stove.  Simmer until the broth has reduced by half and is nappe consistency (meaning it coats the back of a spoon when you put it in to test).  Add shredded beef to the reduced stock.  Add in cooked mushrooms and boursin cheese and stir until all elements are blended and the result is creamy, flavorful, and richly meaty.

Next, fill the bottom of a 9 x 12 inch baking pan (its sides need to be at least 2 inches high) with 2 cups of prepared tomato sauce.  Then, carefully stuff the cannelloni pasta with your shredded beef mixture.  Layer the stuffed cannelloni in rows and cover with 2 additional cups of tomato sauce.  Finish with shredded parmesan cheese.

Bake in a 450 oven for 40 minutes.  Serve warm.  Enjoy!

Eggplant Caprese Salad

Upping the ante on a traditional caprese salad- I added breaded and fried eggplant.  That’s right all the wonders of eggplant parmesan in classy appetizer form–winner!

Eggplant Caprese Salad
Serves 4

1 cup basil leaves
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup shaved parmesan
4 tablespoons olive oil

Eggplant Caprese:
1 medium eggplant (the smaller and more cylindrical the better for plating)
1/2 cup flour
1 egg
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
3 tablespoons olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 large tomatoes on the vine (or heirloom), cut into 1/4 inch slices
1 (8 ounce) ball of fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/4 inch slices
Balsamic vinegar to finish
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 450.  Then, in a Cuisinart, mix all pesto ingredients and pulse until a smooth paste forms.  Set aside.

Next, start a breading station for your eggplant:

Fill one bowl with flour, one with breadcrumbs, and in the remaining bowl mix the egg with 1 tablespoon of water-whisking to blend.

Peel your eggplant and cut into 1/4 inch thick slices.  Start by dredging the slices in flour, dusting off excess, and then dipping into egg wash.  Finish in breadcrumbs and repeat till all slices are breaded.

In a large saute pan add 2 tablespoons olive oil and bring to medium-high heat.  Fry eggplant in batches until golden brown (3-4 minutes per side)-add remaining olive oil between batches.  When finished place onto an aluminum foil lined baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes.  Pat off excess oil with a paper towel and season with salt and pepper.

To assemble salads: start with your largest slices of fried eggplant, then spoon a 1/2 teaspoon of pesto on top.  Stack a slice of mozzarella and a tomato on top of that and repeat till you have two tiers.  Finish with a dollop of pesto and drizzle with balsamic vinegar.  Season slightly with salt and freshly ground pepper and serve immediately.  Enjoy!