Month: June 2010

Baby eggplant, mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, roasted garlic

Eggplant parmesan is my go-to staple at any neighborhood Italian restaurant, and I’m never disappointed.  Covered with oozing cheese and sauce, fried eggplant is down-right delicious.  (Of course, what wouldn’t be covered with cheese and sauce?)  I’m also a fan of eggplant rolatini, which is usually long slices of eggplant, rolled around herb-seasoned ricotta cheese, and topped with sauce and cheese.  Served in a gratin dish with bread for dipping, this is a fabulous appetizer. On a recent visit to CostCo, I spied these adorable baby eggplants.  I snatched them up and a ball of fresh mozzarella and created this home-version of eggplant parmesan.  My cherry tomato plant has been producing like mad, so I decided to make a quick “baked” tomato sauce with them–plus some garlic for extra flavor.  The result was absolutely wonderful. First, I sliced the baby eggplants lengthwise, then sprinkled both sides of the slices with salt to release some of the moisture.  I got 5 slices per eggplant.  I let them sit on a parchment lined baking sheet for about …

Deviled Eggs with Truffle and Smoked Paprika

Everyone enjoys deviled eggs.  And virtually every family across America has their own recipe.  Some get fancy and add chopped bacon to their filling, some keep it simple with just yolks and mayo.  There are 2 restaurants in Manhattan that have wonderful deviled eggs, each deliciously fancy and simple in their own ways: The Spotted Pig and Centro Vinoteca.  What I’ve tried to do here is combine the best of the flavors from each of these while keeping an eye on fat.  I kept the amount of mayo low and used the light version.  Egg yolks already have plenty of fat going for them!  My result was so creamy, so flavorful.  I will definitely be making these again.  And the best part is that I made these with ingredients I always have on hand. To get started, I used my dad’s hard boiled eggs method.  See my post on this here. Once the eggs are rinsed under cold water and cooled in the fridge until easy to handle, I peeled them, sliced them in half …

Haricots Verts with Parmesan and Pine Nuts

 I’m a salad fanatic, and I’m always trying to think of salads that don’t rely on lettuce to do the heavy lifting.  When I saw these french beans in the market, a light bulb went off.  Here’s my take on a frenchy haricots verts salad, perfect for Summer.  Super easy, super fresh. First you need to trim the beans, flash boil them, then plunge them into an ice bath to quickly stop the cooking process and give the beans a bright green color.  Be careful not to overcook!  You want the beans to be crisp and have a real bite to them. While you’re waiting for the water to boil to cook the beans, prepare the pine nuts and red onion.  Mince the red onion and toast the pine nuts (watch carefully–don’t burn them!) Now bring it all together.  Whisk the garlic oil with the lemon juice (see MC’s Romaine Salad for instructions on garlic oil).  Add the french beans and the red onion.  Toss to combine.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Top with …

Perfect Chicken Cutlets

Everyone has chicken breasts in their freezer.  Channeling my own Bubba from Forrest Gump, my mind was going “grilled chicken… roasted chicken… chicken marsala… chicken parmesan… teriyaki chicken… chicken salad…”  You get the point.  They all seemed, I dunno… boring.  I started yearning for fried chicken.  Fried chicken is a lot of work (lots of oil to worry about and you have to have buttermilk in the fridge.)  So my mind went–chicken cutlets.  Yum.  Yum.  Yum.  So I went right after it. I started with 2 chicken breasts, pounded nice and thin, then triple dipped.  First in seasoned flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs mixed with grated italian cheese.  When I was finished breading them, my fingers had the signature glue-like coating of layers.  I knew that perfectly crisp, flavorful cutlets were in my immediate future.   While you’re breading, heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Cover the bottom of the pan with canola oil.  Don’t be stingey.  Crispy cutlets need oil to coat–that’s part of what makes them perfect! Let the cutlets drain on …

Food in miniature

Continental breakfast: croissants with butter and jam, and a black coffee. Check out the work of artist Stephanie Kilgast, 24, who creates miniature food models that are 1:12th of their original scale. Truly incredible.  Baskets of pears, pictured next to a 5 cent coin for scale. View a gallery of Ms. Kilgast’s work in the Telegraph.

Day Boat Cafe’s Lobster Roll

Always on the hunt for the perfect lobster roll, I found myself with that summertime craving and a good hour away from Pearl Oyster Bar (my usual stop for the bestest bestest lobster rolls evah.)  I decided to Google “lobster roll” and “Westchester, NY” to see what would come up and BAM, an awesome New York Times review of a lobster roll at a place called Day Boat Cafe in Irvington, NY.  Only 15 minutes away, Nick and I jumped in the car. What a wonderful place.  The space looks like a beach house, accented with striped canvas booths, oars criss-crossing as decoration on the ceiling, and awesomely bright, blue photographs of the ocean on the walls. There is a gorgeous raw bar, so we started with super spicy bloodies and a dozen oysters.  Half from the east coast and half from the west coast.  The west coasters were the fave.  And then the main event–lobster roll time!  OMG, big chunks of lobster, not too much mayo, and just a sprinkling of chopped chives on …

MC’s Romaine Salad with Red Onion and Garlic Lemon Dressing

This salad has been in my family for decades.  My grandmother made it for years and then my mother took over, adding her own little touches.  My mom has served this for a family of four on a random Tuesday night and to over 50 people at a formal Christmas dinner.  It fits in and impresses anyone, anytime.  It has reached a point of perfection, so much so that Nick literally wants to eat it every night (and sometimes pack some for lunch the next day.) The ingredients and methods are simple, but an important note: you MUST make the infused garlic oil (for the garlic lemon dressing) at least 24 hours ahead of time.  If you try to rush this step, you will be unimpressed with the results.  Here you go, MC’s legendary romaine salad.  First, the dressing. Roughly chop 8 cloves of peeled garlic and plop into a glass jar.  Nothing fancy here. If you’re using a smallish jar, fill with canola oil to the top.  If using a larger jar, just go …