Creamy Ricotta Pasta

In a large skillet, brown 1 large zucchini diced; 6 large crimini mushrooms, chopped; 1 small bunch of scallions thickly sliced. Add 8-10 pitted kalamata olives, halved. Stir and simmer. Drain one can Marzano whole tomatoes. Chop and add to the skillet. Heat and stir. Season with oregano, basil, garlic powder, red pepper flakes to taste. Simmer for 30 minutes. Take off heat and add large dollops ricotta cheese. Stir into the sauce. Serve over fresh pasta topped with a generous amount of lemon zest.

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Savory Couscous

In a small casserole dish mix together 1 1/2 cups couscous, 1/3 cup crushed capers and 1 small zucchini peeled and finely chopped. Season with oregano, basil, garlic powder and pepperoncini flakes to taste.

In a small sauce pan, boil 1 1/2 cups chicken stock and 1/4 stick butter. When stock and butter are boiled, pour into the casserole dish over the couscous, zucchini and capers. Swish around and cover the dish. Let sit off heat for at least 10 minutes.

Uncover and fluff with a fork. Serve as a side dish with fish.

Chicken Cacciatore

Another way to braise chicken thighs. It’s Italian rather than Asian. Serves 4.

Sprinkle 4 bone-in skin-on chicken thighs with garlic powder all around. In a large deep skillet, in a little olive oil, brown the thighs until skin is crisp and golden, then turn and brown on the other side. Set chicken aside on a plate.

In the same skillet, brown 1 medium onion chopped. Add 6 – 8 mushrooms, chopped. Brown. Add 1 chopped zucchini. Brown. Deglaze with 1/4 cup dry red wine. Add back the chicken thighs.

Cover with 1 can San Marzano whole tomatoes, chopped with juices. Add 1 small bunch thinly sliced scallions and another 1/4 cup dry red wine. Season with generous amounts of dry basil, oregano and pepperoncini flakes. Bring to a boil then cover and simmer for 2 hours.

Add 1/2 cup capers and 1 cup chopped black olives. Simmer another 15 minutes.

Serve with pasta and grated cheese. Top with lemon zest.

East Over Brisket

The usual Easter Passover overlap. Brisket is great for either.

A family recipe from the Strahl’s.

First cut brisket. 4-5 lbs. at least for 8 since it shrinks. Pat dry and generously sprinkle paprika and garlic powder over all sides of the meat. In a large baking pan, brown 2-3 large sliced onions in olive oil on the stovetop. The more the better. Push onions to the side and add the brisket. Brown on all sides.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cover the brisket with an 8 oz. can of tomato sauce. Cover with foil. Bake the brisket for at least an hour. Remove from oven and add 1 cup dry red wine (the original calls for Manischewitz– but no). Add salt and ground black pepper to taste. Place back in the oven covered and cook for another hour.

Take the brisket out of the pan and slice against the grain. Medium thick slices. Place sliced meat back into the sauce and cover with a little chicken broth to keep the meat moist. Bake covered for another hour. Uncover and bake until meat falls apart. Serve with latkes. And such.

Blackened Asian Salmon

Brush 2 6-oz. salmon filets, cross-cut, with your favorite Asian sauce. Sesame Ginger Teriyaki is great. Just to lightly coat the outside of the filets. Heat fry pan with a little olive oil to medium hot, place filets in skin-side up. Leave untouched for 4 minutes to get a blackened crust. Turn filets skin-side down for an additional 4 minutes or until medium rare.

Removing the filets with a spatula will leave skin in the pan. Remove the skin from the pan and discard. Fry up some cooked rice and veggies in the drippings. Serve filets and rice topped with lemon juice and a little zest.

Andouille Chili

Super Bowl staple.

In a large stock pot, brown two small red onions, diced. Add 1 red, 1 yellow bell pepper, and 2-3  jalapeño peppers, diced. Brown. Add 4 pre-cooked andouille sausages, cut into small squares. Brown. Add 2 cans low-salt black beans, 2 cans low-salt kidney beans. Stir. Season with 2 tsp. cumin and 1/2 tsp. cayenne. Stir. Add 1 can whole tomatoes and 1 large jar medium hot salsa with corn. Add another 2 tsp. cumin and 1/2 tsp. cayenne. Stir. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Cover and bring to a boil. Uncover and simmer for 1 hour or longer until thickens. Serve with grated cheddar and tortilla chips. Go Saints! Oops.

Swordfish Anchoise

Serves 2.

Mince together 6 Italian jarred anchovy filets and 1 tbs. capers. 1 to 1 proportion. Set aside.

1 lb. 1″ thick swordfish steak cut into 2 pieces. Pat dry. Sprinkle with ground black pepper and a little garlic powder on both sides. In a non-stick skillet, brown fish for 3-4 minutes. Then flip the fish and add 3-4 tbs. butter. Brown while also basting with the butter for another 3 minutes until cooked through but not overcooked. Remove swordfish from skillet.

In the same pan, on medium heat, add the minced anchovies and capers. Stir. Add a squeeze of lemon and 1 cup dry white wine. Stir and reduce sauce by half.

Put the swordfish steaks back into the pan and warm quickly in the sauce on both sides. Serve the fish with the sauce and top with a little lemon zest.

Post Stuffington Frittata

Leftover sausage mushroom stuffing. Or just chopped ham, scallions, peppers. Fry up in a little butter. Blend 4-6 eggs with 1 tbs. low-fat plain yogurt, season with salt and pepper. Add to the fry pan. Stir until eggs are set on the bottom. Add a few slices of swiss or cheddar cheese. Pop under the broiler on high heat until brown and set on top. Serve it up with salsas and hot sauces for a spicy after-turkey treat.

Thanksgiving Braised Short Ribs

Turkey is boring. We prefer this rich late autumn feast instead.  Serves 8.

6 + lbs. short ribs cut 1/2″ thick and of like sizes. This recipe takes a whole bottle of red wine, so a French Beaujolais works well. It’s not too expensive, but good enough to be the main ingredient. The meat has to marinate overnight in the mirepoix.

For the marinade:

2 cups sliced celery
2 cups sliced carrots
1 cup sliced parsnips on a slant
2 cups sliced leek
2 cups parsley sprigs
1 tsp. juniper berries or 1/4 cup gin
1 bottle red wine
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
2+ tsp. red, green, black whole peppercorn mix
Any leftover celery, carrot, parsnip chunks

Ditched the old glass baking dishes when we moved to the City, so using large freezer bags this year. Divide the short ribs into two large bags and add half of the marinade to each. Ziploc and put in a large bowl in case there is any leakage. Refrigerate overnight.photo-50

Before cooking take baggies out of the refrigerator and pour into large bowl. Take out the short ribs and pat dry on paper towels. Let all come to room temperature.

To Cook:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Strain the vegetables from the marinade liquid in a bowl. Reserve both liquid and strained veggies separately.

Dust short ribs with a little flour on all sides. In a large stock pot, brown meat on all sides, in a little olive oil. Brown in stages so not crowded. Remove meat from pot with tongs to a large bowl after each browning stage.

Add the strained vegetables to the pot and brown. Add 1/3 cup tomato paste to the middle of the pot and brown. Bring the vegetables into the paste and stir.

Return the meat and add the wine liquid from the marinade to the stock pot. Turn to medium high heat. Stir all veggies, meat, wine marinade lightly to blend. Cover and place pot on middle rack in oven at 375 degrees for 1 1/2 hours.

Peel 3 cups cipollini onions, add to the pot and stir in. Cover again and bake for another 1 hour until meat is tender. Add chicken broth if needed to keep meat covered and moist.

Uncover the pot and bake for another 20 minutes to brown. Remove pot from oven.

Serve with mashed turnips or horseradish mashed potatoes. Or both.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Autumnal Roast Chicken

hatfield pumpkins with truckConsistently succulent methodologies borrowed from Alfred Portale and Jacques Pépin. Moist with crispy skin. Secret is drying thoroughly and refrigerating with sea salt in the cavity. Then, rotating in the oven.

Serves 4-6.

4 lb. farm fresh whole chicken with giblets. Rinse chicken and giblets.

Put chicken in a deep roasting pan with paper towels on the bottom. Pat dry chicken all around and shake sea salt into the cavity. Refrigerate for at least an hour.

When ready to cook, take chicken out of refrigerator while oven preheats to 425 degrees. Remove paper towels from the pan. Stand chicken cavity side up. Place giblets around the chicken.

Cut top off a whole garlic head and place in the cavity of the chicken. Slice a lemon in half, squeeze juice on giblets and put remaining core into the cavity. Pour a tsp. dried thyme into the cavity.

Oil the bottom of the roasting pan. Place chicken onto its side on the olive oil. Slice 2 sweet onions and place around chicken and over the giblets. Drizzle olive oil over the wing, leg and side of the chicken. Sprinkle with garlic powder and ground black pepper. Place into preheated 425 degree oven on the middle rack. Roast for 30 minutes.

Take out of the oven and turn chicken to the other side, drizzle with olive oil over leg, wing, side and cover with garlic powder and ground black pepper. Return into the 425 degree oven for another 30 minutes.

Take out chicken and turn to breast side is up. Baste with juices all over breast, legs and wings. Put back into 425 degree oven for another 30 minutes. Take out of the oven and tent with aluminum foil for 15 minutes.

Onions and giblets should be crispy. Skin, golden. Meat moist.

Carve and serve with giblets and juices.