Sunday, February 21, 2010

Bollito Misto with Gorgonzola Sauce

What's better on a snow day than putting something on the stove that can simmer for a few hours, making your house smell just heavenly? The whole idea just screams comfort food, and is exactly what I thought when I found
this Giada recipe for Bollito Misto several months ago.

The recipe called for two sauces - a gorgonzola sauce as well as a spicy salsa verde. I thought one would be enough, so I went with the gorgonzola sauce. I also made a thickened gravy after the roast finished cooking. Combining the sauce with the gravy reminded me of one of my favorite things - cheese fries with gravy, or Poutine. And the sauce was good for several days, so I used it on chicken tenders, on a chicken sandwich, and even with hash browns for breakfast.


  • 4 lbs beef brisket or top round; I used a 2.5 lb top round and didn't not decrease the liquid amounts below, but cut the veggies in half
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper; Added garlic powder
  • 4 c beef stock or broth
  • 4 c water
  • 2 onions, peeled and quartered
  • 4 celery stalks, chopped
  • 4 carrots, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 pound small boiling potatoes

Directions (in my own words - simplified)

  • Heat a large braising pot (I used my Dutch oven) over medium-high heat
  • Season the beef with salt, pepper, and garlic powder
  • Sear the beef, browning it on all sides
  • Add the stock and enough water to cover the beef
  • Add the onions, celery, and bay leaf.
  • Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for one hour.
  • Add the carrots and potatoes and cook until the meat is tender, about another hour.
  • Transfer the meat to a cutting board and cover with foil.
  • Remove the veggies from the liquid and arrange on a serving platter.
  • Gravy: whisk 1 tbsp flour with 1/2 c water. Slowly whisk into the liquid in the pot until thick and creamy. Let simmer until ready to serve.
  • Slice the meat across the grain and arrange on the serving platter.

The Gorgonzola Sauce...

This sauce is definitely what took this meal to another level. The original recipe called for 2 cups of mayo to 4 oz of gorgonzola. This didn't seem right to me so I adjusted the amounts a bit; note, my amounts are approximate as I did not measure but fixed it as I went along until I had what I wanted.

  • 1 c mayonnaise
  • 4 oz gorgonzola
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • Pinch each salt and pepper

Blend in a food processor until smooth; serve in a side dish.

This meal was excellent, and got even better on day 2. Served with a loaf of crusty bread, it was the perfect snow day dinner.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Scallops Gratin

I am a bit behind on blogging....this dinner is from Valentine's Day.

Jon loves seafood, so whenever I want to make a special meal for him, I always turn to seafood. I chose an Ina Garten
recipe for Bay Scallops Gratin to make for him on Valentine's Day, but with sea scallops. I was feeling a bit under the weather so Jon did all the prep and cleaning up and I did the actual cooking.

I used the gratin topping on chicken so I would feel like I was eating the same meal :) I honestly can't remember what we served with this... I think Jon requested baked potatoes but I don't remember the veggie!! It was probably roasted asparagus or broccoli.

Ingredients (I cut the below recipe in half)

  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 6 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 medium shallots, minced
  • 2 oz thinly sliced Prosciutto di Parma, minced (Jon doesn't like this so I omitted it)
  • 4 tbsp minced fresh parsley, extra for garnish
  • 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp Pernod (used white wine instead)
  • 2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 tbsp good olive oil
  • 1/2 c panko
  • 6 tbsp dry white wine
  • 2 lbs fresh sea (bay) scallops


  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees
  • Place 6 (6-inch) round gratin dishes on a sheet pan Instead, I used a small stainless pan that went directly onto the grates in the oven.
  • To make the topping (note, see original directions if you would like to use a stand mixer. I used a hand mixer instead so the rest of the directions from this point forward are in my own words): Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Start to mix on low and add shallots, garlic, parsley, 1 tbsp white wine, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Still on low, add the olive oil until combined. Fold in the panko with a rubber spatula.

  • Place 1 tbsp wine in the bottom of your pan or each gratin dish. Remove the white muscle and membrane from the scallops, pat dry, and place in the pan.
  • Spoon the mixture over the scallops, spread it evenly over them, and place the pan in the oven for 10-12 minutes. Turn the broiler on for 1-2 minutes at the end if you want the top to be a bit crispy.
  • Squeeze a touch of lemon juice over the dish and garnish with parsley. Serve immediately.

Jon really enjoyed this, and I loved the topping on my chicken breast. Great, easy recipe!

Chicken Croquettes with Gravy

I grew up in the Northeast section of Philadelphia, home of The Dining Car, a landmark diner restaurant that was once featured on Guy Fieri's "Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives." The Dining Car was the place to go after dance recitals, proms, for a late night bite, or for a fabulous Sunday breakfast. I was in Philadelphia last winter and we decided to stop in for breakfast - it was just as I had remembered, complete with the line out the door! This is one popular place.

One of their famous dishes is Chef Larry's Chicken Croquettes. I loved eating chicken croquettes as a kid, especially the chicken gravy, but hadn't had them in years. So last week I decided to use Chef Larry's recipe. The recipe below is the original, (a few changes noted in italics) however I halved everything and we still had about 12 nice-sized croquettes.

Croquette Ingredients

  • 1 c milk (I only had skim milk so I used light cream)
  • 1 c fresh chicken stock (I used canned)
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • 2 tsp freshly chopped parsley leaves
  • Salt
  • 1/4 lb butter
  • 1 stalk celery, minced
  • Added: 1/2 onion, minced
  • 1 c all purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 lbs chicken meat, cooked and ground in a food processor (I used breast meat only)
  • Salad oil or liquid shortening for frying (I used olive oil, about 1 inch deep in a pan)

Breading Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 c milk
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 3 c all purpose flour or cracker meal (I used flour)
  • 3 c bread crumbs

Chicken Gravy Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 2 c chicken stock (I used canned broth)
  • 3 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh parsley
  • Pinch white pepper and salt


  • Making the croquettes (refer to the croquetted ingredients): In a heavy pot, heat the milk and stock on the stove and add the white pepper, parsley, and salt. In a separate pot, melt the butter and add the celery and onions. Stir in the flour and cook for 3 minutes. Pour in the hot milk/stock mixture and stir until thickened and smooth. Fold in the chicken and allow to cool.
  • Breading the croquettes (refer to the breading ingredients): Shape 3 oz portions of the croquette batter into the shape of a cone (I just did balls..cones were too hard!) and place on a tray lined with wax paper. Set out three bowls/breading dishes. In the first, make an egg wash with the egg, milk, and salt. The second bowl is flour, the third is breadcrumbs. Dip the croquettes into the egg wash, then flour, then egg wash again, then breadcrumbs.
  • Cooking the croquettes: Fry the croquettes in oil heated to 350 degrees until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes. Since I used only 1 inch of oil, I fried them on one side at a time rather than deep frying them, so it was about 2 minutes per side. Drain well and blot on paper towels. Suggested serving: over mashed potatoes. I served them with egg noodles instead.
  • Cooking the gravy (I started the gravy when the chicken mixture was cooling; refer to the gravy ingredients): Melt the butter in a 1 or 2 qt saucepan. Stir in the flour. Pour in the stock and whisk until smooth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and cook for 20 minutes, whisking occasionally. Add the parsley, white pepper, and salt to taste.

I loved everything about this meal - it was the ultimate old-fashioned home cooked meal. Chicken croquettes with gravy, egg noodles tossed with butter, and roasted cauliflower with garlic. The preparation was a bit time consuming, but once I had everything out and measured, it was easy to pull everything together. And yes, it was well worth the time and effort.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Mongolian Tofu

Of all the fake-out take-out meals I have made, Mongolian Beef is my favorite. It is sweet and savory and I love the sauce over rice. I had some tofu to use last week when Jon was away, and I thought the flavors and sauce from the Mongolian Beef recipe would work well with tofu. I was right -this was delicious!

Here is my recipe -

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 block firm or extra firm tofu, pressed and cut into thirds three ways (from the top, from the side, and from the ends) to get 2 inch rectangular pieces (or just cubed!)
  • Cornstarch, approximately 2-3 tbsp
  • 1/2 tsp minced ginger (I grated it through the microplane)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 c low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 c water
  • 3/4 c brown sugar
  • 1 green onion, chopped


  • Toss tofu with cornstarch to coat
  • Heat olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat
  • Add the tofu and cook until browned on all sides, about 6-8 minutes
  • In the meantime, mix the soy sauce, water and brown sugar in a bowl
  • Once the tofu has browned, add the garlic and ginger; saute 1 minute
  • Add the soy sauce mixture and stir; bring to a steady simmer and then reduce to low. Let simmer for several minutes to thicken the sauce.
  • Add half of the green onions
  • Serve over rice and garnish with green onions

I love tofu, and am so glad I have found so many different ways to prepare it. When I first started to eat it, I only made a tofu and vegetable stir fry...and I made it at least once a week! Having options is much, much more delicious!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Creamy Artichoke Soup with Spinach Pesto

I bookmarked a recipe for Artichoke Soup with Pesto several months ago. This weekend I looked at the recipe when I was making my shopping list for the week, and decided to give it a try. The recipe calls for pesto, and since I'm not a big fan of basil pesto, I decided to make some changes.

One of my favorite appetizers to make is Spinach and Artichoke Dip (you have to try my recipe if you love this dip!), so why not do a spinach pesto with this soup?

Below is my adaptation of the original recipe; the original can be found
here on the Epicurious site.

This soup is a very quick soup, and couldn't be easier. From prep to table, it took 25 minutes, including my time to make the pesto!

Spinach Pesto

  • Handful of fresh spinach, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Approximately 2 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Pinch of Kosher salt

Blend all ingredients in a food processor.

Soup Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 2 cans artichoke hearts, drained
  • 3 c low sodium chicken or vegetable broth (I used chicken as it was what I had in)
  • 1/2 c light cream
  • Salt and white pepper, to taste. I used just a pinch of Kosher salt and 3 shakes of white pepper.


  • Heat olive oil in a soup pot
  • Add onion and garlic; saute 3-4 minutes
  • Add artichokes and broth; bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Let simmer about 5 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and puree using a handheld immersion blender or transfer to a regular blender.
  • Return to low heat, add cream, and season with salt and white pepper.
  • Serve with spinach pesto.

This is by far the easiest soup I ever made, and it tastes like spinach artichoke dip!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Red Wine Poached Pears with Blue Cheese

Jon and I spent our honeymoon in St. John, the best island in the Caribbean, in our opinion. We loved it so much and were lucky to visit for 2 days while in St. Thomas for Jon's work trip a few years ago. Those 2 days gave us the itch to go back, so we returned for a belated 5th anniversary trip last year. Everything about the island is amazing - the laid back atmosphere, the crazy roads, the protected national parks, the beaches, the views you catch when driving in your rental jeep - absolutely breathtaking, the waterfront bars and restaurants, and the feeling you get when you are on the island - I could honestly go back every year and would never be bored.

While there we enjoyed dinner at Chloe and Bernard's, the Westin's restaurant. I ordered the red wine poached pears with double cream brie, and loved it so much that I have been wanting to make the pears ever since. So last week when I had a few pears that needed to be eaten, I decided to give them a try. I wasn't sure what else was used as the poaching liquid besides red wine, so I turned to
this recipe for help.

Coring the pears was easier than I thought, especially since I don't have a corer. I took a potato peeler and inserted it into the bottom of the pear, went around the core, and pulled it out. The core came out easily and I cleaned it up a bit with a small measuring spoon - 1/4 teaspoon to be exact. Once cored, I put them in a bowl of water with a touch of lemon juice while I prepped the poaching liquid.


  • 2 cups dry red wine (I used an entire 750 ml bottle of Zinfandel - I think it was Robert Mondavi, just something cheap)
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 c sugar
  • 2-inch stick of cinnamon OR 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (I used ground)
  • 3 large pears; I used 4 medium Bartlett pears
  • Optional: blue cheese


  • In a large pot over medium heat, bring with wine, lemon juice, sugar, and cinnamon to a boil (make sure you use a pot that is deep enough for the liquid to cover the pears once you add them).
  • Add the pears to the poaching liquid, making sure they are covered.
  • Slowly simmer the pears, loosely covered, until they are soft, but not mushy, when poked with a sharp knife.
  • Remove from the heat and allow to cool in the syrup to lukewarm.

I stored the pears in the fridge for a few hours. Once ready to serve, I put them on the stove over low heat to bring them back to lukewarm.

I served them with crumbled blue cheese. I see this dish a lot as a salad or starter, but I decided to serve them as dessert. I loved them, and they were so easy to make, but looked impressive on the plate.

Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Root Vegetables

Last Sunday I felt like trying something new. Our grocery store had pork tenderloin on sale, and since we don't cook them that often, I decided to pick one up and invited my parents for dinner.

I love marinated and grilled pork tenderloin, and I also love pork with mashed potatoes and my grandmother's secret family recipe for sauerkraut. But since Jon can't even take the smell of sauerkraut in the house (how can you not like it?? Especially the way my family makes it...), I looked for some other ideas. I liked this Paula Deen recipe for
Pork Tenderloin with Root Vegetables. Surprisingly, it didn't call for any butter! How very un-Paula!

The root vegetables in this recipe were carrots, turnips, parsnips, and rutabaga. I have cooked with every one except rutabaga, the large, round vegetable in this picture -

Cooked, a rutabaga looked like mango, but had a very firm consistency. I couldn't really place the flavor though. A turnip tastes like a potato to me, and a parsnip tastes like a carrot, but a rutabaga has a flavor all its own. I would definitely use this vegetable again.

The Recipe...

  • 1-1.5 lb pork tenderloin

The marinade:

  • 1/4 c soy sauce (I used low sodium)
  • 2 tbsp dry read wine
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (omitted this)
  • 2 green onions, green parts only, chopped

The veggies...

  • 5 carrots
  • 5 parsnips
  • 2 rutabagas
  • 5 turnips, roots only
  • Olive oil
  • House seasoning (This is a seasoning you can make and keep for up to 6 months - 1 c salt, 1/4 c black pepper, 1/4 c garlic powder. Instead of making the entire amount, I just seasoned my veggies with the seasoning ingredients of salt, pepper, and garlic powder.)

  • Combine marinade ingredients in a measuring cup and whisk to combine. Pour over pork tenderloin in a plastic bag, and marinate overnight.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees (I ended up turning the oven to 375 halfway through, and then 400 to finish the veggies after the pork was done).
  • Bake the pork for 45 minutes, or until temperature reads 145 degrees (I like my pork cooked a touch more, so we let it go to 160 - perfect). Allow meat to rest 10 minutes before slicing. I transferred it to a large dish and surrounded the pork with the roasted vegetables. (I normally sear a tenderloin before roasting it, but didn't this time)
  • Peel and cut the vegetables into bite-sized chunks. Toss with olive oil and the seasoning, and roast alongside the pork (in a separate dish), until tender. The directions say to check them at 25 minutes, and then every 10 minutes thereafter, but doesn't give the total cooking time. Our veggies took close to an hour.

Jon and I both thought the marinade would make the meat too sweet, but it didn't. It had the perfect balance of sweet and savory, and paired perfectly with the veggies. The only thing I added was a green salad and a nice loaf of crusty bread. Perfect Sunday dinner!