Caviar

Caviar is the most exquisite food and a special treat on New Years. I was away and am celebrating 2015 with my husband tonight! I bought Plaza osetra caviar from Costco and am thrilled by the quality of it. A friend sent us a special bottle of champagne and that makes it a wonderful fete!
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Caponata

A friend mentioned she was making this and my mouth started watering! I love caponata plain or on grilled meat or fish or stirred into pasta. This recipe is from Canal House but I added some fennel and pine nuts. Also at the olive bar at Whole Foods there was an olive mix with currants in it so I used that and added some capers to it.
Caponata
1-2 large eggplant, cut into 1″ cubes
2 T. kosher salt
1/2 c. white wine vinegar
1 T. sugar
1/4 c. currants or raisins
3/4 c. olive oil
3 ribs of celery, large dice
1 head of fennel, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
4 anchovy filets, chopped
4 fresh tomatoes, peeled and diced
1 c. large green olives, pitted and halved
2 T. capers
1/4 c. toasted pine nuts
1 bay leaf
Pepper
Toss the eggplant with salt and drain in a colander for one hour. Pat dry with a paper towel. Combine vinegar, sugar and currants in a small bowl until currants are plump. Pat the eggplant dry and heat 1/2 cup of olive oil in a wide pot over medium high heat. Working in batches, fry the eggplant until browned on all sides. Transfer to a bowl with a slotted spoon. Add remaining 1/4 c. olive oil and sauté onion, celery and fennel until soft, about 10 minutes. Stir in the anchovies. Add the tomatoes with any juices, olives, capers, bay leaf and pine nuts. Add the egg plant. Stir in the currants and vinegar. Simmer, stirring often until juices thicken a bit, 10-15 minutes. Season with pepper. Refrigerate for at least a day and up to a week. Remove bay leaf.

New cookbook Lunch at the Shop

I have been having so much fun cooking from this new cookbook, Lunch at the Shop. Not only are the recipes inventive but the photographs are sensational by the famous duo, Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton.

Lunch at the Shop

I made Lentils folded into Yogurt, Spinach and Basil that is a wonderful dip or sandwich spread. Also the sandwich of almond butter, sliced apple, fromager d’affinois (young brie) and Arugula. Both are delicious! Here is the lentil recipe.

1/2 c. pine nuts or walnuts, toasted and chopped

2 c. baby spinach

1 c. fresh basil

1 c. cooked lentils

2 T. flat leaf parsley, chopped

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

1 lemon

1 c. Greek yogurt

1/4 c. olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Lentils with spinach and yogut

Toast pine nuts in a saute pan until golden, about 5-7 minutes. Cool and chop. Tear  the basil leaves into bite size pieces. Gently chop the baby spinach. Place lentils in a bowl and mix in spinach, basil, parsley and garlic. Zest lemon and squeeze in the strained juice. Fold in yogurt and slowly add the olive oil, stirring as you do to combine. Fold in the toasted nuts and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve on top of lettuce as a salad or on toasted or grilled bread with some sliced Parmesan

 

 

Pico de Gallo

I  LOVE pico de gallo! The combination of flavors of the tomatoes, onion, lime, chile and cilantro is my absolute favorite. I can eat it by the spoonfuls! I make a small batch of it and eat it on chips, quesadillas or anything! My perfect breakfast is a quesadilla with pico de gallo on top.

Pico de gallo

2 roma tomatoes, seeded and diced

2 thin slices of onion, diced

1 chile-serrano or small jalapeño, seeded and diced

juice of 1 lime

2 T. cilantro chopped

Combine together and enjoy!

Oysters

I am very lucky to have a wonderful restaurant in Denver called The Kitchen that has the most amazing raw bar. And oysters are on the Happy Hour menu! My friend Diane and I volunteer together on Mondays and often go to The Kitchen for oysters. It is such a wonderful treat. We try different kinds and I make notes of what we like and didn’t like.  We both feel transported to another place when we eat oysters. The briny, salty taste of the sea. I highly recommend A Geography of Oysters for any oyster lover. It is a wonderful book full of great information.

Oysters

Zucchini, rice and phyllo pie-River Cottage Vegetable cookbook

This is the first of this authors cookbooks I have bought and I am super excited to cook from it  I am making the Zucchini. Rice and Filo (I guess the British spell it filo as it is pronounced but I buy it as phyllo in the freezer section-Athens is a good brand) Pie for the second time. It is so easy and delicious and holds up well. I cut any leftovers into squares and eat it for breakfast or lunch.

Zucchini rice phyllo pie

1# zucchini, coarsely grated

1/2 cup long grain rice-I used jasmine

1/2 medium red onion, finely chopped

2 1/2 oz. hard goat cheese or mature cheddar, grated (I used cheddar)

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

2 T. olive oil

a handful of dill, chopped

a good handful of parsely, chopped ( I use flat leaf)

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

8 oz. phyllo, defrosted overnight in the refrigerator

5 T. unsalted butter melted or olive oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix zucchini, rice, onion, cheese, eggs, olive oil and chopped herbs together in a large bowl. Season with plenty of salt and pepper. Take a sheet of phyllo and brush with melted butter/oil and line a small ovenproof dish, about 6 cup capacity, placing the pastry butter side down. Let any excess hang over the edge or sides. Add another buttered sheet and continue until you have one sheet left. Pour the filling into the phyllo lined dish. Fold the last remaining sheet of phyllo up to cover and then fold the edges in. Brush with butter and bake 45 minutes. Serve hot or warm or I even like it room temp. You could vary the herbs with any of your favorites.

 

Spanakopita

I harvested a lot of spinach from my garden and thought of spanakopita, which I hadn’t made in years. I love this recipe as it uses olive oil instead of butter. Also the Athens brand of phyllo I bought is in two separate packages and you only need to use one so there is no needless drying out of phyllo sheets. I refroze the second package of phyllo and will try it on the next batch! This recipe is from Fine Cooking. I cut the pan into 24 pieces but you could cut it into 8 pieces for larger servings. I also liked the tip of brushing the scored pastry with milk.

Spanakopita

For the filling:
  • 2 lb. fresh spinach, washed, dried, trimmed, and coarsely chopped
  • 3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 bunch scallions (about 3 oz. or 10 small), white and light-green parts only, trimmed and finely chopped
  • 2 cups crumbled feta cheese (10 oz.)
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Greek kefalotyri cheese or Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh dill
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • Kosher or fine sea salt
For the assembly:
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil for brushing; more as needed
  • Eighteen 9×14-inch sheets frozen phyllo dough (I use Athens brand), thawed and at room temperature
  • 2 tsp. whole milk
TIP:

Phyllo dries out very fast and becomes brittle when exposed to the air. Check out our test kitchen tips for working with it.

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 375°F.

Make the filling: Heat a 10-inch straight-sided saute pan over medium-high heat. Add a few large handfuls of the spinach and cook, tossing gently with tongs. As the spinach starts to wilt, add the rest a few handfuls at a time. Cook until all the spinach is wilted and bright green, about 4 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the spinach to a colander set in a sink. Let cool slightly and squeeze with your hands to extract as much of the remaining liquid as you can.

Wipe the pan dry with a paper towel. Heat the oil in the pan over medium heat. Add the scallions and cook until soft and fragrant, about 4 minutes. Stir in the spinach, turn off the heat, and let cool for 5 minutes. Then stir in the cheeses, eggs, dill, parsley, nutmeg, and 1/2 tsp. salt and mix thoroughly.

Assemble the pie: With a pastry brush, lightly coat the bottom and sides of a 9x13x2-inch baking pan with some of the oil. Working quickly, lightly oil one side of a phyllo sheet and lay it in the pan oiled side up and off center so that it partially covers the bottom and reaches halfway up one long side of the pan (the edge on the bottom of the pan will be about 1 inch from the side). Lightly oil the top of another phyllo sheet and lay it oiled side up and off center so it reaches halfway up the other long side of the pan. (If your pan has sloped sides, the sheets may be slightly longer than the bottom of the pan; if so, let the excess go up one short side of the pan and then alternate with subsequent sheets.) Repeat this pattern with 4 more phyllo sheets.

Next, lightly oil the tops of 3 phyllo sheets and layer them oiled side up and centered in the pan. Spread the filling evenly over the last layer.

Repeat the oiling and layering of the remaining 9 phyllo sheets over the filling in the same way you layered the previous 9. With the oiled bristles of the pastry brush, push the edges of the phyllo down around the sides of the pan to enclose the filling completely.

With a sharp knife, score the top phyllo layer into 24 rectangles, being careful not to cut all the way through to the filling. Using the same pastry brush, brush the milk along all the score marks (this will keep the phyllo from flaking up along the edges of the squares). Bake the spanakopita until the top crust is golden brown, 35 to 45 minutes. Let cool until just warm. Cut out the rectangles carefully along the score marks and serve.

Make Ahead Tips

You can make the pie up to 4 hours ahead. Keep warm, if desired, or serve at room temperature.

Chicken Liver Pate

I love chicken liver pate and have discovered it freezes perfectly so I can divide the batch into four or more ramekins and always have it on hand. I used to boil my chicken livers but it is so much better if you saute them so that you can keep the pink color. I posted another recipe for pate on 3/20/12 that is a little bit different than this one-I like them both!

1# chicken livers, rinsed, de-sinewed and dried

4 oz. butter

5 T. chopped onion

1/2 t. ground coriander

1/8 t. cayenne

salt

1/3 cup cream (I use half and half)

2 T. brandy

Bread or crackers for serving

Melt 2 of the tablespoons of butter and saute onion and cook until softened, about 3-4 minutes. Add livers to pan and sprinkle with salt. Cook on one side until they begin to brown, about 2 minutes, then flip and cook the other side. Keep the heat relatively high so that the outside of the livers sear and the inside stays pink. Put livers, onion, juices and remaining ingredients into a food processor and mix until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning. Pour into a bowl or terrine, smooth top and refrigerate 2-3 hours until set. If you want to freeze some of the ramekins, wait until they are well chilled. Serve with bread or crackers.

Parmesan Gelato

This is a very simple hors d’oeuvres that I had a Piatti years ago and it is a show stopper!!

Heat up 1 cup of heavy cream until hot and add 1 cup of grated Parmesan cheese. Stir until melted. Pour into a shallow dish or pie plate and refrigerate.

Reduce 1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar until syrupy.

With a melon baller scoop a round of parmesan gelato and place on a cracker. Top with a small drizzle of balsamic and garnish with chiffonade of basil leaves.