Posts Tagged ‘rosemary’

Walnut and Rosemary Oven-Fried Chicken with Toasted Garlic Escarole

February 20, 2011

In the winter, my tendency is to make tagines, baked pastas and all day stewed meats. It is a season of hearty food, rich food and the king of comfort food. The cold weather makes us craves rich, warm dishes that satisfy the belly and the soul.

But generally, around the end of February, I start to feel – well, large. Fortunately, this winter didn’t tag me with the extra 10 pounds it normally does (thanks to an upcoming beach vacation that keeps me sticking to my workout routine). However, I still get to a point where I want something a bit lighter. Something that I don’t eat with a glass of wine and fall asleep on the couch at 9pm.

And, with the uncharacteristically warm weather we have had as of late, this felt like a good dish that can transition to the summer months.

The chicken is so crispy and has a fried taste, without the added guilt (this dish has less than 300 calories). The rosemary and walnut give it extra flavor, and is balanced by the lemony salad. It was so delicious, light, and surprisingly very filling. This one will be making more appearances as the seasons change.

So, if you are like me and need to have a slight departure from your winter food rut, this recipe is a great one – and without the guilt. Thanks to Cooking Light for this one!

WALNUT AND ROSEMARY OVEN-FRIED CHICKEN
Serves 4

1/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
4 (6-ounce) chicken cutlets
1/3 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1/3 cup finely chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
3/4 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Cooking spray
Rosemary leaves (optional)

Preheat oven to 425°.

Combine buttermilk and mustard in a shallow dish, stirring with a whisk. Add chicken to buttermilk mixture, turning to coat.

Heat a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add panko to pan; cook 3 minutes or until golden, stirring frequently. Combine panko, nuts, and next 4 ingredients (through pepper) in a shallow dish. Remove chicken from buttermilk mixture; discard buttermilk mixture. Dredge chicken in panko mixture.

Arrange a wire rack on a large baking sheet; coat rack with cooking spray. Arrange chicken on rack; coat chicken with cooking spray. Bake at 425° for 13 minutes or until chicken is done. Garnish with rosemary leaves, if desired.
TOASTED GARLIC ESCAROLE
Cut a 1½-pound escarole head crosswise into 1-inch strips; place in a large bowl. Heat 1½ tablespoons olive oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add 4 thinly sliced garlic cloves to pan; sauté 2 minutes or until golden. Remove from heat; add 1½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice, ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, and ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Drizzle dressing over escarole, and toss to coat.

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Bruschetta with Rosemary, Roasted Plum Tomatoes, Ricotta and Prosciutto

August 1, 2010

I have never met a bruschetta I didn’t like – and after traveling to Italy, I have a deeper love for the appetizer. What I love about bruschetta is you can improvise and make it as complex or simple as you want. You can add really whatever you want atop the crusty bread, and it always seems to taste fantastic.

This bruschetta recipe does take a little extra time because you roast the tomatoes, but I find it is worth it for the deep flavor. I love the crispy, light addition of the arugula (not to mention it adds the green in the Italian flag to make it a true red, white and green Italian dish!).

I made this for a dinner party and it went over well – I roasted the tomatoes and baked the bread in advance, then assembled when everyone arrived!

Thanks to Bon Appetit for this great antipasti!

BRUSCHETTA WITH ROSEMARY, ROASTED PLUM TOMATOES, RICOTTA AND PROSCIUTTO
Serves 6

6 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 large plum tomatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds), quartered lengthwise
12 1/2-inch-thick diagonally cut baguette slices (each 3 to 4 inches long)
12 tablespoons ricotta cheese, divided
6 thin prosciutto slices, cut in half crosswise
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 cup microgreens or baby arugula

Preheat oven to 425°F. Stir 6 tablespoons oil, garlic, rosemary, 1 teaspoon coarse salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper in large bowl to blend. Add tomato quarters and stir to coat. Let stand 5 minutes. Line rimmed baking sheet with foil. Lift tomatoes from marinade and arrange, cut side down, on prepared baking sheet (reserve marinade for toasts).

Roast tomatoes until skin is browned and blistered and tomatoes are very tender, about 35 minutes. Cool tomatoes on sheet. Maintain oven temperature.

Meanwhile, arrange bread slices on another rimmed baking sheet. Brush top of each with reserved marinade (including garlic and rosemary bits).

Roast bread until top is golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Cool toasts on sheet.

Spread 1 tablespoon ricotta cheese on each toast; sprinkle with pepper. Fold prosciutto halves over and place on ricotta. Arrange 2 tomato quarters atop prosciutto. Whisk lemon juice and remaining 1 teaspoon oil in medium bowl to blend; season with salt and pepper. Add microgreens and toss to coat. Top bruschetta with microgreens. Arrange on platter and serve.

Garlic-Mustard Grilled Beef Skewers

July 17, 2010

When I spent $20 on beef tenderloin meat that would not be rubbed and roasted, but chopped and grilled on a skewer – I did have the same reaction as my butcher. “Don’t you want a cheaper meet for a kabob?” Well, I was curious if it made a difference and, well, the recipe called for it so I wanted to do as told. Yes, it makes a difference.

The marinade also gives it an amazing flavor and color. The soy and paprika give the meat a “wow” color and the honey gives it a glistening glaze. The mustard isn’t overpowering, which surprised me, but gives it a great tang.

These need to marinate for at least 4 hours so I would do this one on a Saturday or Sunday night. I made this with some couscous and it was amazing. This was also the first time I made skewers with my new metal skewers. I highly recommend them. Gone are the days of soaking wooden skewers in water for 30 minutes before using and still having them burn at bit on the grill. With the metal ones, just make sure to put some oil on them before threading the meat so it doesn’t stick.

Thanks to Bobby Flay for this one!

Bon appetit!

GARLIC-MUSTARD GRILLED BEEF SKEWERS
Serves 6

Garlic-mustard glaze
1/4 cup whole grain mustard
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
2 teaspoons Spanish paprika
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Grilled beef skewers
2 pounds beef tenderloin
Twelve 6-inch wooden skewers, soaked in cold water for 30 minutes, or metal skewers

For garlic-mustard glaze:
Whisk together all of the ingredients in a small bowl,cover,and let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes and up to 4 hours before using.

For grilled beef skewers:
Heat your grill to high.

Cut the tenderloin lengthwise in half, then cut the halves lengthwise in half again. Slice crosswise to make 24 equal pieces. Skewer 2 pieces of beef onto each skewer, keeping them together at one end of the skewer. (This will make the grilled skewer easier to hold and eat.) Place the skewers in a baking dish or on a baking sheet, pour half of the glaze over the meat, and turn to coat.

Grill the meat, turning once and brushing with the remaining glaze, for 4 to 6 minutes until golden brown, slightly charred, and cooked to medium-rare. Transfer the skewers to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes.

Place the skewers on a platter and serve hot or at room temperature.

The Cullinary Trip of a Lifetime – Part 4 (Umbria & Rome)

July 10, 2010

View from our villa

As we left the wineries and cypress trees of Tuscany behind, we entered the rolling hills, and less traveled area of Umbria. You don’t hear of many people visiting this area, due to its more popular sibling – Tuscany – but I fear it is overlooked based purely on lack of publicity. Our time in Umbria felt more rustic than any place on our trip and we encountered more pure culture and non-English speakers than I ever could have imagined. We called it our “cultural immersion” part of the journey. No Rick Steves guidebooks here.

Although the cuisine is similar to Tuscany, there are a few regional specialties worth noting. Perugia is known for its chocolate, so the delicious sweet treat is easy to come by in these parts. Truffles are also popular and abundant. This area is also supposed to have the best salumi (which we later confirmed).

So our first stop (which we got to via our Fiat Cinquecento and first interesting driving experience) was Orvieto. This small hill town is known for its amazing duomo (the most beautiful I have ever seen) and its wine called, of course, Orvieto Classico. So, not in order of importance, we visited the duomo, then tried the wine with lunch.

Pancetta Panini with a glass of Orvieto Classico

In Cinque Terre the light wine felt right with the seafood and sea views – but here, I will admit, it was a bit odd. The food in this region is very pork, boar, tomato-sauce focused so it felt ripe for red. But, when we found a restaurant on the square with a view of the duomo and ordered a panini, the white, light wine went perfectly.

After our short lunch stop in Orvieto we proceeded (sans GPS, unfortunately) to our villa. We were fortunate enough to have a work friend who knew an old coworker with a cluster of villas just outside of Spoleto (http://www.borgoacquaiura.it/borgoeng.html). We knew it would be off the beaten path and absolutely amazing. We were not disappointed.

The villa was situated on a hill, overlooking nothing but trees, flowers and a few small hill towns. Our villa, La Casetta, was the perfect home base. To add to the ambiance, we were greeted by the caretaker, Nicu, who knew absolutely no English. Remember how we called this our cultural immersion?

I have so many stories to tell about this portion of our trip, but I will try to limit it to our food experiences. Our first night, we didn’t know where we

Antipasti at Palazzo del Papa - not surprisingly lots of salumi and truffle mushrooms

should drive for dinner. We knew how to get to Spoleto, but didn’t know much about what was there. In broken Italian, we asked Nicu who kindly offered to drive us to a restaurant called Palazzo del Papa, which was down some windy roads opposite of Spoleto. To boot, he said when we were finished to tell the wait staff and they would call him to come pick us up.

So our first course was, of course, the antipasti of the house – again, it was interesting to see the difference. Of all the places we had been, this was the most robust and hearty antipasti we had ever eaten. In some ways, it could have been its own meal. But, there was just too much good food to stop there!

Truffle pasta at Palazzo di Papa

For our primi, I got a truffle pasta (although I actually ordered something else – but the language barrier was a blessing since it was amazing!). Rob had a tomato pasta then we both had pork cutlets (his with lemon and mine with truffle – that time ordered on purpose!). The food was to die for, and when we had the restaurant call Nicu, the bartender gave us a gratis after dinner drink while we waited. An amazing night.

The next night was a special one – and I won’t bore you with ALL of the mushy details. My husband and I renewed our vows. No, it wasn’t a monumental anniversary, but we had always wondered what it would be like if we had eloped to Italy, and got married in a chapel – just us. Now, at the end of the day, having our friends and family with us that day was so important to us, we never would have done it. But there was something about a romantic moment, just the two of us, in a foreign place that always tugged at me. So, when the coworker who put me in contact with the villa owner said he renewed his vows there, we thought it would be the perfect opportunity.

Nicu broke out the “popemobile” which in fact WAS the same type of car

The church in Torrecola where we renewed our vows

as the popemobile. He drove us to a church in Torrecola – population 24. Electricity had to be run from a neighboring house, the townspeople came to join us (none of whom we knew) and the entire ceremony was in Italian. But I can honestly say, there was something so surreal about that moment, that I felt not only a romantic and religious connection to my husband, but also to the land of Italy. Truly a once in a lifetime experience.

Now, the food. So no event like that is complete without a celebration. So after Nicu took out us, his friend Angelica and her husband Francesco out for a “chin

Wine at Il Capanno

chin” nearby, we had dinner reservations at a place we had been hearing about ever since we got there – Il Capanno (http://www.ilcapannoristorante.it/). Now you can’t be fooled by the dirt road that gets you there, and the fact that it isn’t near much of anything (except our villa). We went there the night before – Nicu took us to make sure it was “acceptable” for our celebration. They gave us wine, antipasti and we tried to communicate with the adorable girl Raquella who was there with the family. We knew it was good, and we knew it was a gem that not enough people had discovered.

We tried a regional wine from Montefalco that special night. I can honestly say the only reason we knew it was regional is we had seen a sign for the exit close to the villa. For our antipasti, we of course ordered “of the house” and were not disappointed. Rob got a delicious ravioli for his primi (which we shared). Don’t get me wrong, it was amazing – it all was – but what I remember most about this meal, other than basking in the glow of our vow renewal, was the steak. Oh my goodness, the

Best steak of our lives - salt crusted with rosemary

steak. I feel like in my life I have had some pretty good steaks, all over the country. But this steak had some sort of unique salt crust, and it blew you away. I could never reciprocate it no matter how hard I would try. We both agreed it was hands down the most amazing steak we had ever hand in our lives. For dessert, we got a chocolate mousse with a pistachio creme that was the perfect ending to a perfect meal.

Needless to say, during our time in Umbria we went back to the delicious Palazzo del Papa for dinner, this time getting a pizza and confirming the legend that Umbria does indeed have the best salumi and cured meats. Hands down, best pizza I have ever put in my mouth.

Spaghetti Carbonara in Assisi

Another memorable meal was in Assisi, where we visited for a day of sightseeing. Those who know me well, know carbonara is my favorite pasta dish. As a child, my father and I would beg my mother to make it as much as she could. The whole trip I knew that certain dishes were only available regionally. And although there were some exceptions (my husband had a mean carbonara in Venice), I knew in Umbria and Rome, we had entered “carbonara country.” So, for lunch in Umbria, I ordered my first plate of this heavenly pasta. It was a drier carbonara – less of that heavy creamy sauce – which was perfect for lunch. The bacon was like none I have ever had. All and all, an amazing dish, and worth the long wait to experience it in its regional birthplace.

Once we left the peaceful lands of the villa and entered clustered, noisy, crowded Rome, I will say we both experienced a bit of a culture shock. It took many different directions (GPS still broken) and near misses with other traffic to make it to the Hertz station to drop off our car. To boot, it was raining. Although, I have to admit, this was the first real rain of the trip (minus about 1 hour in Tuscany) so neither one of us was complaining. Once we got settled at our B&B, we realized it was pouring rain and we were starving. It was time for one of those typical 2 hour Italian lunches, while the rain would hopefully pass through.

We ducked into a little place in an alley by our B&B – looked like it was filled with locals (good sign), looked crowded (also a good sign) and looked very unassuming (the best sign). We sat down, shook out our umbrellas and dug into the menu. For an antipasti, we got baccala (cod fish) that was fried. Despite its popularity in Italy, it was actually the first baccala we had on the trip. It was crispy and delicious.

Bucatini in Rome

For our main meal I got, not surprisingly, carbonara. Rob got a bucatini (the spaghetti like strands with a hole in the center like a long tube), which has now become one of my favorite types of pasta. It was served traditionally, with a tomato sauce. They were both so flavorful, and the pasta was cooked to perfection. It seemed the perfect lunch in a cozy restaurant, while watching people trudge past in the rain. Then, we topped it all off with an espresso, to give us the energy to trudge in the rain ourselves.

Our last evening in Italy, after a visit to the Trevi Fountain, we decided to eat in a popular area with outdoor restaurants, street performers, and amazing food. I will admit, I ate more food than I ever thought possible. But I realized that this time the next day, I would be getting whatever Delta airplane food they put in front of me on a plastic tray, so I had to load up on the good food while I could. We did both primi and segundi and I had a craving for traditional spaghetti with a meat sauce. Yes, it sounds simple for my last meal, but I wanted to have that one, comfort food that I always think of when I think of Italian food. I wanted something traditional, after all of the amazing specialties we had throughout the trip. Rob got a gnocchi and we both got breaded veal for our main dish. We held off on dessert, knowing we could find some good gelato nearby. We were right.

Gelato in Rome

We literally followed the people with cones into what might be the closest thing I have ever seen to a gelato palace. The place was huge, more gelato than I have ever seen in my life, and there was a system. You pay first. Of course, as clueless tourists we waited about 10 minutes before realizing the system, but once we did and got our cones, we knew it was worth the wait. Maybe it was because it was our last night, or maybe it was because I was eating ice cream that tasted like a candy bar, but it was the best gelato I have ever had in my life.

The cuisine of Umbria and Rome was not only memorable because I was able to experience carbonara, but because it was yet two more regions, with their own specialties. Umbria felt raw in its culture, Rome a bit more metropolitan. In Umbria, it was all home grown food prepared in traditional ways, in Rome you could get some pretty good Chinese food, I am sure. They both had their own personalities, and it was necessary to experience both to appreciate the differences. This part of my trip has a sentimental meaning to me. Not only because I renewed my vows with my amazing husband, but because it was my last few days in a country where I know I will be returning.

Below are a few more food photos of our time in Umbria and Rome:

Rob in the butcher shop in nearby Spoleto where we bought our meats and cheeses for the villa

Lunch on our patio at the villa - meats, cheese and bread from the butcher shop in Spoleto

The antipasti at Il Capanno

Ravioli at Il Capanno

Chocolate mousse and pistachio cream at Il Capanno

Wine at Trattoria Al Camino Vecchio in Assisi

Gnocchi in Assisi

Best pizza I have ever had at Palazzo del Papa outside of Spoleto

Fried baccala in Rome

Carbonara in Rome

Spaghetti with meat sauce the last night in Rome

Gnocchi in tomato sauce in Rome

Last meal in Italy

Easter Dinner – Ham with Gingersnap Glaze, Yukon Gold and Fennel Puree with Rosemary Butter and Roasted Asparagus

April 17, 2009

table-with-foodOne of my favorite things is cooking for others. Although I do love cooking for myself and my husband every night, there is nothing like friends and family around the table enjoying a great meal.

I was lucky enough to have my parents come down from Michigan for Easter. Although they had to make the long drive back on Sunday, I couldn’t send them off without a large Easter brunch.

I have to preface this post by saying never will I ever have amazing photos like I do today. My father, lawyer by day and photographer by night (www.robertstonephotography.com) took photos of the food. And, it made me realize that I really need to take some food photography classes!

This meal is so much simpler than it might look. I have prepared this ham two years in a row (based off of Alton Brown’s City Ham with Gingersnaps), but I omit the bourbon. I have no clue if the ham would be better with it, but it sure is great without it. It is easy to cook and requires so little prep time. TIP: If you don’t have an instant thermometer that you can put in the oven with the meat hooked to a temperature timer you set on your counter, get one! It is essential. For just $20 or so, you can say goodbye to the days of opening the oven, poking the meat, closing the oven, repeat!full-ham-cutting10

The potatoes are a bit more work, but it can all be done the day before. I love the rosemary and fennel combination – very earthy and rustic. This time I made my potatoes, I actually used the small Yukon Golds and didn’t even peel them. This recipe, from Bon Appetit, is a great go to for Thanksgiving as well.

The asparagus is so simple, it really needs no recipe. I always take asparagus and coat it with olive oil, salt and pepper (and sometimes herbs and cheese) and roast it. There is something about the roasting of the asparagus that gives it a unique flavor.

As for prep the day before, I made the potatoes. The day of , I put the ham in the oven, then did a quick coating (took about 5 minutes) halfway through, then about 15 minutes before we ate (while the ham was resting) I put in the asparagus. It is a great meal with company because there really is so little time in the kitchen needed.

close-up-hamHAM WITH GINGERSNAPS
1/2 city-style ham
1/8 cup brown mustard
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup crushed gingersnap cookies.

Cook ham according to directions (tented with foil). When ham reaches 350, brush a liberal coat of mustard using a basting brush. Then, sprinkle on brown sugar, packing loosely as you go, until the ham is coated. Then, loosely pack on as much of the crushed cookies as you can. Return to the oven and cook until interior temperature reaches 140. Let the ham rest, then carve and serve.

full-ham2

YUKON GOLD AND FENNEL PUREE WITH ROSEMARY BUTTER

plate-with-food1
8 to 10 servings
2 large fresh fennel bulbs (about 2.5 pounds, trimmed, quartered through core, center core trimmed and discarded, cut into 3/4-inch pieces)
1 medium onion, cut into 3/4-inch pieces (about 1 3/4 cups)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons sea salt, divided (or kosher salt)
3 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled (optional), cut into 1.5-inch pieces
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1.5 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 cup creme fraiche

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line large rimed baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine fennel, onion, oil and 1 teaspoon salt in large bow; toss. Spread in single layer on prepared baking sheet; sprinkle with pepper. Roast until fennel and onion are very tender, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Cool slightly. Transfer fennel mixture to processor and puree until almost smooth.

Cook potatoes in large pot of boiling salted water until very tender, about 25 minutes. Drain well. Cool slightly. Place in large bowl and mash with potato masher until smooth. Mix in fennel puree.

Melt butter with rosemary and 1 teaspoon salt in small saucepan over medium heat (or in micr0wave). Stir butter mixture into fennel, potato puree. Mix in creme fraiche. Season to taste with more pepper and salt.

ROASTED ASPARAGUSasparagus-on-plate1
1 bunch asparagus
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degree. Snap ends off of asparagus and place on baking sheet lined with tin foil. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Mix with your hands to coat every piece. Place into oven for about 13 or so minutes, or until tender.

asparagus1pepper-on-asparagus1


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