Jul 21 2013

Corn succotash

Sweet corn in summer to me is what Brussels sprouts are in winter…my seasonal vegetable obsession. Sound a little corny? Ok, you get it, I love corn.

So if you are as crazy about corn as I am, try this super easy summer side dish.

Sweet corn and pecan succotash

Yield: 4 servings

Corn ears                                       6 each

Pecan halves                                  1 C

Butter                                              2 to 3 TBS

Honey                                             2 TBS

Thyme, fresh                                  1 tsp

Salt                                                   as needed

Freshly ground black pepper      as needed

1. Clean corn ears, removing husks and silk and rinsing under cold water. To remove corn kernels from ears, stand ears straight up and slide a very sharp knife down sides. I like to do this in a pie dish to catch kernels. Set aside.

2. Place pecans in a plastic bag and, using a mallet or heavy pan, smash until they are roughly chopped.

3. Melt butter in a large pan over medium-high heat and add pecans. Sauté for about 1 minute until fragrant and lightly toasted. Add corn and sauté 1 to 2 more minutes. Mix in honey and fresh thyme, season with salt and pepper and serve.

Jul 21 2013

2013 Summer Punch

Every year I publish a favorite summer punch recipe and this one should be no exception…

Inspired by a recent gathering at my friend Kasey’s house, I went ahead and made this cocktail last night for a BBQ at my house. Refreshing, light and flat out delicious. Try it!

Rum, mint and pineapple smash

Yield: depends on how thirsty you are :-)

2 1/2 qt

Simple syrup (see note)                   1 1/2 C

Pineapple, fresh, smashed                1 lb

Mint, chiffonade                                  1/4 – 1/2 C

White rum (see note)                          2 1/2 C

Club soda                                              1 qt

1. Combine simple syrup, pineapple (and juices), mint and rum in a container and refrigerate 2 to 4 hours.

2. When ready to serve, top off with club soda and pour into a pitcher. Serve in 8 ounce mason jars with a sprig of mint to garnish.

Note: Simple syrup is made by boiling 1 part water : 1 1/3 part sugar until sugar has melted and liquid is clear. Cool and set aside until needed. I recommend using an inexpensive, but delicious rum great for mixing: Flor de Caña from Nicaragua is a good one.

Jan 6 2013

Quinoa with kale and roasted butternut squash

On a recent trip to Los Angeles, a friend recommended a great brunch spot called Huckleberry. While pretty much everything on the menu was tempting, I settled on the Quinoa, farmer’s market butternut squash, Rutiz kale with two sunny side up eggs. Detoxing after a gluttonous week in California, and yearning for this delicious meal at home, I set out today to recreate it. Pleased to report I had great success (if I do say so myself). And since most of us can’t get to Huckleberry very quickly, I figured I’d share the wealth with you! A perfect winter meal.

Quinoa with kale and roasted butternut squash

Yield: 6 main course servings

  • Butternut squash, small, small dice               1 each
  • Extra-virgin olive oil                                         as needed
  • Salt                                                                        as needed
  • Freshly ground black pepper                           as needed
  • Garlic cloves, minced                                         2 tsp
  • Kale, bunch, veins removed, chopped            1 each
  • Water                                                                    as needed
  • Shallot, small, minced                                       1 each
  • Quinoa (I prefer tri-color), rinsed                   1 1/2 C
  • Chicken stock, low sodium                               2 1/2 C
  • Rosemary, fresh                                                  pinch
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Toss butternut squash with a generous amount of olive oil, salt and pepper and bake on a sheet tray for approximately 20-25 minutes until squash is tender and starting to brown. Set aside.
  2. Heat a little olive oil in a medium Dutch oven or pot, add 1 teaspoon of minced garlic and sweat for 1 minute without coloring. Add Kale and a little water and sauté covered, stirring occassionally, until kale is tender, about 5-7 minutes. Remove Kale and set aside.
  3. In same pot, heat about 2-3 tablespoons more olive oil over medium heat, add shallot and sweat about 1 minute. Add remaining garlic and  sweat 1 minute more. Add quinoa and sauté until all the grains are coated in oil, about 1-2 minutes. Add chicken stock and rosemary and bring to a boil. Check liquid and adjust seasoning as necessary (see note). Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, and keep covered 5 more minutes.
  4. Fluff quinoa with a fork and add butternut squash and kale back to pot. Mix until well combined and serve immediately.

Topped with 2 sunny side up eggs, this makes a wonderful main dish… either brunch or dinner. Or serve it as a side dish, with some freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.

Note: You want the liquid to be nicely salted, this is what is going to give your quinoa flavor as it cooks and absorbs the liquid. You never want to season quinoa, or any grain or pasta for that matter, after it has finished cooking otherwise you don’t penetrate the skin.

Oct 31 2012

Delicious Delicata

Some of my favorite days as a chef are spent perusing the farmer’s market for local delicacies (and sharing them with you). Last week I discovered Delicata squash, with its distinctive green vertical stripes and bright yellow/orange background. Visually striking and a flavor that is rich, creamy and downright delicious. And did I mention that this squash does not need to be peeled!?

According to Wikipedia, it is also known as Bohemian squash, peanut squash (given its distinctive shape) and sweet potato squash. Inspired by this “Bohemian” vegetable, I put on some Janis Joplin and me and Bobby McGee got cooking.

Sometimes the best recipes are the simplest…and all about letting the ingredient shine through:

Roasted Delicata Squash

Delicata squash, scrubbed           1 each

Extra-virgin olive oil                     2 TBS

Salt                                                    as needed

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Cut squash in half lengthwise, scoop out seeds and then cut into 1/2″ thick moon shaped pieces (do not peel).

2. Spread on a small sheet tray, drizzle with olive oil and salt and toss to combine. Bake for about 25 minutes, turning halfway through, until squash begins to caramelize and is tender to bite. Serve immediately…. fiber-rich skin-on and all!

Oct 5 2012

Brussels sprouts

Quintessentially Fall: football, apple picking and, my favorite, Brussels sprouts.

Growing up, these “sprouts” (small heads that resemble miniature cabbages) were a household staple that my sisters and I despised. Sorry mom, but unbeknownst to you, the microwavable frozen variety with a little Molly McButter was often passed to Kiki under the table. Those days are long gone and now I enjoy Brussels sprouts roasted, caramelized, sautéed and even raw…yum!

Here’s a delicious recipe, elegant enough to serve at a dinner party or simple enough to prepare for a weeknight family meal.

Shaved raw Brussels sprouts with marcona almonds and Manchego cheese

Yield: 4 servings

Lemons, juice of                                              2 each

Honey                                                              2-3 TBS

Grapeseed oil                                                  1/3 C

Brussels sprouts, shredded (see note)         1 Lb

Marcona almonds, chopped                         1/3 C

Salt                                                                     to taste

Freshly ground black pepper                        to taste

Manchego cheese, crumbled                         2 Oz

1. Whisk lemon juice and honey and then slowly stream in oil. Season with salt and pepper.

2. Toss Brussels sprouts with dressing and half of the almonds. Adjust seasoning if necessary. Allow salad to rest for at least 15 minutes to absorb flavors.

3. Divide salad among 4 plates, garnish with remaining almonds and cheese.

Note: To save time, shred Brussels sprouts in a food processor fitted with the thinnest shredder attachment.

**For added sweetness, toss in some julienne apples.