Just another Meatless Monday…

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Nothing like a little Lidia Bastianich viewing to inspire you for some easy, stovetop, don’t have the stove on too long in the air conditioning recipes. Last week, I watched her with her granddaughter turn out a simple mushroom crostini recipe that I paired with some dressed greens and a little cheese for a dinner salad.

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I rubbed some french bread with garlic cloves and olive oil and sent them out to the Hubs for attention on the grill.

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Meanwhile, back at the stove, I melted a knob of butter and softened a package of sliced shiitake mushrooms.

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I splashed in some wine and then added a knob of mascarpone cheese and turned the heat down very low, barely on.

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I dressed plain arugula with olive oil, salt and pepper.

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Top the greens with 2 slices of grilled bread and the mushrooms from the pan while they are still hot.

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I shaved Ricotta Salata cheese but you can easily use a nice Asiago or goat cheese. Similarly you can add cream to the mushrooms instead of mascarpone. It’s an easily adaptable item and makes a nifty, quick and satisfying meatless dinner for a hot nite with a chilled glass of wine. Enjoy!

Easy Peasy Pizza Pie

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Been hearing a lot about skillet pizzas? Me too! And with good reason! Easy to put together for a quick supper, or an afternoon football party, because…bowl games, or even a treat for after school.

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When the Hubs and I were in Vermont last spring at the King Arthur Flour store, I picked up a bag of this Italian style flour, it’s a little finer than normal AP flour, although that will work fine too. I just followed the directions on the back label. A little flour, a little yeast, a little water, a little sugar and salt…

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A little nap for the dough in a warm place a.k.a the magic folding proofing cabinet…

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Meanwhile back at the cutting board, I prepped ingredients for 2 different types of pie. Top photo is prosciutto, bleu cheese, red onion, fresh figs and a little fresh buffalo mozz. The lower photo is sundries tomatoes, shaved parm, the same buffalo mozz, and giant caper berries that are like giant satisfying salt bombs for your taste buds!

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Oil a heavy skillet and heat. It needs to be very heavy and very oiled and very hot.

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Punch down the dough and form it into a disk that can be cut in half and rolled out into 2 flat 14″ – 16″ discs

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You can make smaller ones by cutting dough into either 4 or 6 pieces also

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Put dough disc into the hot oiled pan and give it about 4 minutes on medium heat. You will be able to lift the pie once it starts to cook to check on the progress. Once the bottom is browned, you can flip it fairly easily and then top with various toppings.

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Let things get a little melty and then add other items as needed. If you want, and you skillet is oven worthy, you can put the pan in the oven to melt everything, but honestly, the cheese melted just fine on the stovetop.

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Once cooked, I topped with fresh arugula and some balsamic glaze from Trader Joe’s. But this would be just as easy with some shred cheese and pepperoni and jar pizza sauce! Mix up your toppings, or if you’re having a party, you know I am a proponent of everyone making their own pizza, so set the buffet of toppings out and let peeps design their own!

Because…bowl games.

The Way Back Machine…

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Once upon a time, when I was a catering director and the catering world was moving beyond sliced roast beef and canned green beans ( blech!) and mashed potatoes scooped with an ice cream scoop, I lived and died in these 3 cookbooks! Silver Palate in NYC was a new breed of food shops where you could get take out meals and order party services and explore things. One Christmas I got the idea to cook the famous Raspberry Chicken for Christmas Day brunch for my family and my godmothers. Of course I had to work Christmas Eve, so my father spent a day running all over the south shore of Boston looking for raspberry vinegar, no so ubiquitous, but then, as rare as a rainbow.

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I used these books so much that when inspired this week to produce Chicken Positano, the “New Basics” cookbook opened to that exact page, the binding is completely shot! I started down the Positano path because I had seen a recipe for the 21 Club’s chicken pillared in the New York Times a couple of weeks ago and thought it would make a nice one plate dish. This would be similar but it would not be necessary to shape the chicken like the plate. In the heady days of the late 80’s and early 90’s I probably served this dish once a week to someone on campus!

The recipe is simple enough, although in the spirit of full disclosure I will tell you that I used canned diced tomatoes and it was just as good. Mix 3 finely diced garlic cloves with one finely slivered onion and 8 cups of chopped tomatoes and then add 2 cups of olive oil ( I only added one, let’s be reasonable here), salt and pepper, and seasoning of choice, I added red pepper and smoked paprika, a little celery salt and done. Then you just let it sit in a non reactive bowl for a while. Trust me, it won’t go bad, there’s too much acid in it with the tomatoes.

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Pound 3 full chicken breasts out to within an inch of their young lives and trim an excess fat/skin. Season some yellow stone ground corn meal with salt and pepper and red pepper other spices like chili powder. Beat 2 eggs with some water and then dip chicken breasts in cornmeal mix, then egg, then cornmeal mix again. img_1442img_1444

Pan sauce them in some olive oil, they will cook fairly quick because they are thin. Set aside in a warm oven until they are all cooked. Meanwhile toss about 4 oz of arugula with the tomato mixture. I added a can of cannelini beans that I rinsed to get some additional fiber and in lieu of potatoes or bread. I think mine needed a little more salt, which I never need, but this needed a little oomph, not a lot.

I only used 2 whole chicken breasts and have 2 portions left over. The tomato sauce makes a great soup starter so it’s like 4 meals in one!

I wonder what I will find in the way back machine next time? And someday I’ll cut a chicken pillared to be the same shape as the plate, but not now….

Sheet Pan Supper

Sheet pan suppers are all the rage these days, promising quick and simple meals in one pan and utilizing only the oven. I took advantage of the NYTimes recipe for sausage and potatoes and gussied it up a little.


First roast some Yukon gold potato wedges with fresh shallots, olive oil, salt and pepper. After 20 minutes, add fresh Italian pork or chicken sausage cut into 3 inch lengths, and spread out on sheet pan. After 30 minutes in a 425 oven, everything should be roasty toasty. Toss the sausage mix with a couple of large handfuls of fresh arugula and toss. Squeeze a lemon all over the mixture and add seasoning if needed. I added a little creme fraiche when I served. This was a delicious meal that was a perfect choice for one of the first cold nites of the fall…

Pizza Supper…

The annual yoga pants Christmas vacation is in full swing and I tell you it’s mayhem….staying up late, sleeping late, going out to breakfast with the Hubs, getting a holiday mani, and you still have energy to do a little experimentation with dinner! I always consider a meal a success if I manage to eliminate one or more products from the fridge or freezer that only have one serving left and I hit a trifecta with this meal..

  

I started with mini naan breads, thawed from the freezer..

  
Then I spread it with the end of the jar of fig spread…

   
 
Then I added fresh roasted butternut squash…

   
 
Then a caramelized onion…

  
Then the end of the container of mozzarella…

  
Then some bacon…and into a 475 degree oven for about 15 minutes or until the cheese is a little melty..

   
 
Top with arugula that has been tossed with evoo and balsamic…

Presto, pizza!

What to do with …..

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Because the Hubs and I are really, really working hard on being smart about what we eat, we are eating a lot of non red meat items, i.e. garden burgers, and chicken sausage.

I wanted to jazz up the chicken sausage I cooked one night last week and to do that, I caramelized some zucchini…

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Tossed with some boiled creamer potatoes and small onions….

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Then I added slices of the cooked and grilled to be good looking sausages…

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I tossed the whole thing with a tiny bit of lemon juice ( about 1tsp) and 2 tsp of olive oil, a tablespoon of capers and salt and pepper. Then I tossed all that with arugula, so it became an entree salad. Satisfying and fairly healthy and very filling.

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Rings and Things….

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I do love fried calamari, but I am here to tell you that producing it in your own kitchen is not for the faint of heart…

You have to have kind of a strong stomach to get through the slimy part, which is cutting….

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Then soaking in buttermilk….521

(darker pieces are the tentacles…yum)

Then flouring in a mix of cornmeal, flour, salt, pepper, and little cayenne and chipotle…

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Then you put small batches of battered squid parts ( rings and tentacles) into the hot vegetable oil

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Then when it’s all cooked…

530You toss with some hot peppers slices, banana pepper slices, capers, and cherry tomatoes ( ok, and olives if you must..) and olive oil and some salt and pepper and lemon aioli…

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531I also added arugula, because, well, you know how we feel about it in this house…                                                                 And you’ll find yourself with a plate of calamari happiness…

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You still have to have strong stomach because you have to clean all the oil out of your pan and get rid of it !

Then you make the decision that the next time you go looking for calamari happiness, you’ll let your local restaurant do the honors!

So that’s what all the fuss is about…

    
So for a couple or five years now, many restaurants have featured a feta and watermelon salad combo during the summer. And for the same amount of time, I have ignored what could only be a tasty combo. I was so tardy to this party!

I finally decided to make this for supper last night. I wanted to have some greens, so I tossed some arugula with olive oil and salt and pepper.

  
Then it’s really a matter of cutting the watermelon and feta to match so you have a salty/sweet bit in each bite.

   
 

Then I just squiggled some balsamic glaze on top! A cool, crisp, sweet and salty option for hot summer dining. Don’t miss out!

  

Simple Supper

    

Sometimes, simple is best. Like when you spent the day spring cleaning and the Hubs helped Minutemen and British regulars all day at the annual reenactments for Patriot’s Day. So I decided to keep it simple and whip up some plain cheese omelettes with a garlic salad topper. I start them by melting butter and a little olive oil in the pans and swirl it to coat the pan. Add beaten eggs mixed with cream or milk and some salt and pepper. Plan on two eggs per person.

As the eggs start to cook, move the edges back and let more eggs run in. Eventually the eggs will solidify and I add  little bits of mozzarella cheese. Cook through and then fold over once, lower heat and cook for about another two minutes. 

  

Meanwhile, back in a bowl, toss some arugula with chopped tomatoes, minced garlic, chopped basil, olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper. Slide the omelette onto a plate and top with the salad. Quick and easy! In fact, simple!

(Oh, and notice the omelettes are yellow for April’s color challenge!)

Greek Potatoes

Let me be clear that the only reason I called these Greek is that I put Feta cheese in them!  

 

Boiled creamer potatoes tossed with olive oil, arugula, salt, pepper, lemon juice and crumbled feta that I put in marinade last week. I also chopped up the guindilla peppers and added those to the mix. They taste like Italian pepperoncini and look like this… 

 

I get mine at Trader Joe’s…

Anyway, they were delish and the leftovers are great if you pan fry them!