Main course

Grilled Veal Rib Chop with Caponata

This is one of my go-to veal recipes that I whip out at least once a month for my clients. Veal is not cheap, but it’s so tender and full of flavor. I love cooking the veal chops on the grill on the highest possible heat, and getting those outer fatty edges nice ‘n crispy. The rub that I use adds such a beautiful flavor, and goes really well with the roasted eggplant and red pepper caponata that doubles as a vegetable side and a sauce.

Best of all, the caponata tastes even better the next day, over pasta or as I did, on a sourdough crostini with melted gruyere cheese… mmm!

Here we go…

Start by making the rub for the veal chop. You could even do this the day before and let it marinate overnight.

spice rub

Crush all the ingredients with your pestle (or you can blend it in the food processor) until it forms a rough paste, and drizzle in the olive oil. Slather it all over your veal chops.

Ok, 2 ingredients that I needed for this rub mysteriously disappeared from my grocery bags when I got home. I swear it wasn’t forgetfulness, I put them in my cart! I just must of not taken them out of my cart. Either way, you’ll need them for this rub. Anchovies and thyme.

Anchovies. I know that sounds strange in a rub. But trust me, they add a depth of flavor that you’ll appreciate, and yet won’t totally understand. Because whether you’re an anchovy hater or lover, it won’t resemble any anchovy flavor you’ve tasted in the past once the flame of the grill has hit it. Its subtle and yet adds something salty and delicious to a rub. Try it just once… for me… please…

veal chop slathered with rub

Now place it in a ziploc bag, or just wrap it back up in butcher paper and refrigerate.

On to the Caponata…

(Here is me making my lunch with the scrumptious leftover caponata)

start by preheat your oven at 425 degrees F

sliced eggplant

Slice one whole eggplant, then chop into roughly 1 inch or so cubes.

Now put the eggplant in a collander and toss with 1 tablespoon kosher salt. This will pull out some of the moisture in the eggplant and help it caramelize in the oven. You could also just spread it out in a single layer on a paper towel. Give it about 20 minutes, then use a paper towel to dab away any excess moisture on the eggplant.

Now roughly chop the rest of your vegetables: onion + red bell pepper. Try and keep them the same size as your eggplant. Slice the garlic in half and toss the whole vegetable medley with olive oil, another teaspoon kosher salt, and a 1/2 teaspon black pepper. Sprinkle with fresh thyme leaves, dried are fine here too. I like to add two small pinches of red chili flakes to give it the tiniest bit of heat and some extra flavor.

Place it in a single layer on a rimmed metal baking sheet, and get it into that hot 425 degree oven (400 convection).


(after 20 min)
Roast for 20 minutes and then give it all a toss. Add the can of diced tomatoes, including all the juices. Roast for another 15-20 minutes, until most of the tomato juices have disappeared and the eggplant is nice and tender. The vegetables will cook faster if you’ve chopped them smaller.

Once its done, add capers and 1 1/2 tablespoons sherry or red wine vinegar. The vinegar will cook down right there on the hot baking sheet. You could also add lemon juice instead, if thats your preference. I like this step because the acidity of the vinegar tastes so wonderful with a meat dish like veal or even a NY steak. Add more salt and pepper to taste.

On to the Veal Chop!

When you’re ready to grill, make sure your veal chop has been out of the fridge for at least 30 minutes, so that it cooks more evenly. Over the highest flame, and on a grill that’s had at least 20 minutes to preheat, place your veal chops. Grill about 4-8 minutes per side (depending on your chop’s thickness), and make sure to turn the chop on its edges to get the fatty sides nice and charred. For my 1 3/4 inch extra thick chop it tool me a total of 15 minutes to get it to a nice medium rare. Use a digital instant read thermometer in the center of the your chop to check when its ready, roughly 120 degrees for medium rare. Remember it will keep cooking once its off the heat. Veal is a pretty lean meat and tastes dry above medium. Allow it to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Oh, did I tell you yet that this whole recipe could also be used on a good ol’ traditional grilled steak? Well, it could…

Yummy tip: Once its off the grill and resting on a plate, put 1 tablespoon butter and a few drops of lemon juice on top of the steak/chop. As it melts, it will mix with the chop/steak’s smokey juices and create a delicious sauce. Try this with any steak or grilled meat!

On to this Caponata Crostini thing I made the next day…

Simple. Just top your favorite piece of bread (I used sourdough) with a heaping spoonful of the caponata, and slices of a good meltable cheese, like provolone or mozzarella (can you tell I have an Italian theme to uphold here…). Gruyere was just what I had in my fridge at the time, and it was also very nice. You could also top it with fresh ricotta or fresh buffalo mozzarella… for a cool summer version.

Preheat your broiler, and using an oven proof skillet, fry the toasts on medium heat in a little olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Be sure to wait until the olive oil is nice and hot before adding your toasts. After about 1-2 minutes, peek under the toast, the bread should be nice and brown on the edges, and golden in the center. Place directly under the broiler as close as you can get it. Watch it closely, until the cheese melts.

And now you’re a happy happy person, eating that cheesy, sweet, and somewhat healthy red pepper and eggplant goodness!

Veal Rib chop and Rub recipe:

for 2 thick 1 3/4 inch veal rib chops

1.5 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp black pepper
2 tsp fresh rosemary
1 Tbsp fresh thyme
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 large garlic clove
1 anchovy fillet
1/4 tsp red chili flakes (optional)
2 Tbsp olive oil

Kosher Salt

Instructions:

Combine first 8 ingredients and with a mortar and pestle, mash into a paste, add olive oil in a slow drizzle to incorporate. Likewise you can use a food processor. Slather all over veal chops and refrigerate 1 hour, or up to 2 days.

Preheat your grill on high for at least 20 minutes or up to 40 minutes, or make sure your charcoal bbq is nice and hot, coals broken down and glowing. Season your chops with kosher salt.

Grill the Veal chops for about 7 minutes on each side, for an extra thick chop like the one I used in this recipe. Make sure to move them around every 2 minutes, so that the grill marks get imprinted all over the chops. If your chop is thinner, reduce the overall time. Also make sure to let the chops sear on their sides so that the fatty edges get nice and crispy. To know when its done, using an instant read digital thermometer is always your best bet. It should read between 120-125 degrees F at the center of your steak, for medium rare. Also, the center of the steak will always be cooked less than the edges, so rest assured even if the center of your steak is a low 120 degrees, the edges will be higher. I always take my steaks off a little under their desired temperature range because they continue to cook even after they’re off the grill. Let it rest on a plate for about 5 minutes. Top them off with a small slather of butter and a little squeeze of lemon juice, and presto you’ve got even more flavor!

Warning: veal is lean and tastes dry when cooked to well done. Ideally, its final target temperature is 125-135 degrees. Only eat this type of chop if you can handle the pink!

Caponata recipe

4 servings

1 large eggplant, roughly chopped 1 inch pieces
1 large red bell pepper, roughly chopped 1 inch pieces
1 medium sweet onion, thickly sliced
4 large cloves garlic, sliced in half
2 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves
1 Tbsp kosher salt, additional to taste
1 tsp black pepper
1 14oz can diced tomatoes, or canned cherry tomatoes if you can find them
1/3 cup olive oil, more for drizzling if desired
1 1/2 Tbsp sherry or red wine vinegar, or lemon juice
1 Tbsp rinsed capers
1/2 cup torn basil leaves, more for garnish

Instructions:

Add the chopped eggplant to a colander with 1 Tbsp kosher salt. Let sit at least 20 minutes, then pat dry with paper towels. Toss with bell pepper, onion, garlic, fresh thyme, a little more salt, black pepper and the olive oil. Spread in one layer on a metal baking sheet. Roast for 20 minutes, toss the vegetables and add the tomatoes including their juices, toss again. Roast for another 20 minutes until juices have evaporated and eggplant is tender. Time may be more or less depending on how large or small you chopped the eggplant. Once out of the oven, immediately add the vinegar or lemon juice and capers. Add the fresh basil and toss before serving.

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Appetizers, Main course, Salads

Spicy grilled shrimp skewers with black bean and corn slaw

Happy 2012!

Honestly, when I look at the number 2012, I feel like I’m in one of those ’90s futuristic sci-fi movies, where everyone should be driving flying cars and wearing white skin-hugging bodysuits. Saying “2012” just conjures up those images in my head. I guess I’m weird that way.

Its interesting how when you’re young you have this idea in your mind of how your life will turn out in the future. And yet life is such an uncontrollable force. It throws change at you, usually in the most unexpected and unpredictable ways. At least thats been my experience. Maybe ya’ll had your 10, 20, 30 year plans all mapped out when you were 21, and actually saw them come to pass. But the story of my life has been filed with… not “twists and turns”, but rather upside down 360 degree flips… thats a better way to describe it. Some wonderfully unexpected, like my widowed mother-in-laws recent whirlwind romance to the most fabulous guy (see picture below),

but a few really unwelcome ones as well, like my husbands debilitating illness this past year. Lets skip that photo.

Rather, here is a picture I took of him last week, enjoying the sunset. He’s been feeling so much better this past month.


“So God, I know you’re listening, please send me a few more of those unexpectedly awesome 360 degree life flips, I’d be really happy with just one or two. amen.”

Feel free to click on over to one of those super-happy-funny-blogs that write about their perfect life, funny pets, and the new cookbook they’re coming out with this spring! I won’t hold it against ya.

ok, now that I’ve gotten that out of my system…


On to what you really came here to read… these spicy (but not overly so), bursting with flavor bbq shrimp skewers, and a corn and black bean slaw-salad that I know sounds like it belongs on a summer menu, but in my defense, it was freakishly hot here in L.A. on wednesday when I made this, a whopping 82 degrees.
So though I try to cook seasonally, us Californians can run into a bit of a problem with that, since it feels like summer here 75% of the year.

This recipe is super easy and really healthy as well. The shrimp come off the grill with this incredible smokey flavor, intensified by the brown sugar, cumin, serrano chili and garlic that’s in the marinade. They’re kind of addictive, so make a bunch. They’d be great for a Superbowl party, as one of your non-fried items, and will keep the salad-lovin ladies happy.

*slaw disclaimer: some would call this a black bean and corn relish (ahem, that would be Emeril) but to me, this is more like a salad, but the sweet, vinegary tang reminds me of a slaw, minus the shredded cabbage of course. I’m taking some creative license here, so call it what you want, either way its delish!

I usually give step by step instructions, but this is just so simple. Just combine all the ingredients for the marinade in a bowl, toss in your shrimp, skewer and grill. But for old habits’ sake, here are a few steps.

Soak your wooden skewers in hot hot water, while you’re prepping, so they don’t burn on the grill.

garlic
Chop the garlic


and the serrano chili


Chop some cillantro (shhh… this is actually parsley, forgot to take this photo so I used parsley as my stand-in).

I don’t pick apart my cillantro leaves, I do the ‘lazy chop’ method, basically just chopping off the end of the bunch, stems and all.  If I see any large stems, I’ll pick them out.  Its just a marinade after all, but I have to confess this is the only way I chop cillantro. I have no patience for picking apart little leaves, none whatsoever.


measure out the rest of the spices for the marinade, and add the lime and olive oil.


Marinade your shrimp for 5 minutes, and then thread them on your soaked wooden skewers.

Meanwhile grill your corn on high heat for 3 minutes or so per side. You can keep the corn husks on, and when they look a bit wilty and brown they’re done.

Cut the kernels off the cob and add to the rest of the slaw ingredients.


Season with salt and pepper, add more lime if you like it a bit more acidic like me.


Grill shrimp 3 minutes per side, for large shrimp (12 count per Lb)


Lay your shrimp skewers on top of your black bean corn slaw, and drizzle with extra marinade. I added brown rice to make this a health conscious dinner portion.

Spicy Bbq Shrimp Skewers
1/4 olive oil
6 cloves minced garlic or 1 tablespoon
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
2 tablespoon chopped cilantro leaves, plus more, for garnish
1 jalapeno or serrano chili, (serranos are a bit spicier) seeded and minced
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon light brown sugar or honey
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 lime, juiced
2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined

1. Soak wooden skewers in boiling hot water for 10 minutes. Light your grill to high.
2. Combine all your marinade ingredients. Set a little aside to drizzle over shrimp after grilling. Add shrimp and marinade 5-10 minutes tops.
3. Thread onto wooden skewers.
4. Grill 3 minutes per side, until shrimp is pink.

Black Bean and Corn Slaw
4 cups cooked black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups cooked corn kernels, cut from the cob, or canned if you must
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
2 large cloves garlic, minced or 1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 jalapeno or 1 1/2 serrano chilis, seeded and finely minced
1/2 bunch scallions (green onions), minced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves
2 limes, juiced
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Combine all Slaw ingredients
2. Season with salt, pepper.
3. Spread on large platter, top with Shrimp skewers, drizzle a little extra marinade over skewers and garnish with some more chopped cilantro.

Enjoy!

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Main course

The best pork chop you’ll ever have…

Yes, I know I’ve made a pretty big claim. But I’m pretty convinced I can win you over.  Well, thats unless you’ve had a pork chop from, say, Thomas Keller, where he performed some type of laborious sous vide technique and then perhaps bathed the whole thing in butter. Even so, I still think this pork chop would be pretty tough competition!


(one of the photos in question)
About a month ago I wrote a post on a similar pork chop recipe, but I decided to redo it for 2 reasons. First I only had 2 grainy photographs taken in really low lighting.  I had made this dish and photographed it months back, before I started this blog. So I wasn’t prepared to show a step by step process in photos.  And second, I made this pork chop 2 days ago and after a few changes, tweaks and improvements to the recipe, I wanted to fill you in.  I added a rub that was just so delicious, the sauce was almost unnecesary.  But  I can’t help myself, I love sauces!! So one of my favorites is included below as well.

So here are my rules for the perfect pork chop:

1. Buy an extra thick 2 inch pork chop, on the bone. If your butchers has one, get a porterhouse chop, this has the tenderloin on one side of the bone and the traditional pork chop on the other. So delicious!!
porterhouse

2. Grill your pork porterhouse until the thickest part reaches 145 degrees or medium-well. This is a totally safe temperature to cook your pork. If you don’t have a good digital meat thermometer, gently pierce it with a knife in the thickest part of the chop towards the end of the cooking time. You should still see a bit of rosy pink in the center.

3.  Use wood chips in your grill.  The smokiness the wood chips add to the pork, make the crispy fatty edges of the chop taste like bacon. yum.

These three steps in themselves will give you a tender piece of pork, but if you want to take it to that next level of deliciousness…

3. Brine it for 6-24 hours. Brining adds moisture to your meat, and it also imparts the flavor of whatever aromatics you put in the brine.  Even if you overcook your meat a little, it will still turn out juicy.

But you know what… as much as I love to brine, I usually just do it for special occasions and not for my everyday dinners. Its just too much work for me, and I bet most of you agree with me. On a day to day basis, my food motto is keep it simple, or, uh, simpler (cause sometimes I just get carried away, and can’t quite do simple). So just to give you another quick option, try this incredible spice rub that I made a few nights ago.  Oh it was good!
pork rub

So here is my recipe for an incredible pork chop.  I’ve included a recipe for the brine, the rub, and one of my favorite sauces: Romesco.

For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of trying romesco before, its a delicious and unique sauce that originates from the Catalan region of Spain. Its really like nothing you’ve ever tasted.  The smokey, nutty, spicy flavors taste delicious spread on toast or with grilled vegetables, fish, seafood, poultry, pork, well just about anything! It has the consistency of pesto, and best of all it can keep in your fridge for up to two weeks, so you can experiment again and again.

Brined Pork Porterhouse Chops with 5 Spice Garlic rub and Romesco sauce

Start by preheating your gas grill on high or lighting the coals for your charcoal bbq. Soak your wood chips in water.

brine

To make the brine…

In a medium/large pot, add crushed juniper berries, crumbled bay leaves, red pepper flakes, salt and sugar to a cup of water.  Bring to a simmer and then let stoop for 10 minutes.  Add the remaining  4 cups cold water, onion and crushed garlic. Add pork chops and refrigerate for 24 hours. If I have less time (say 6 hours), I’ve made the solution more concentrated by adding another 3 Tb salt and another 4 Tb sugar.

Next, once your meat has run its full course in the brine.  Rinse it off, and pat dry.

So on to the rub…

rub on chop

These spices are incredible on pork.  It has spanish smoked paprika, which I’m kinda obsessed with; think of bacon in a spice… that’s what it reminds me of! The cinnamon, cardamom, coriander and black pepper, just give it this sweet yet savory flavor. I looooove it! And honestly people, I know we’re still getting to know each other here, but I don’t say this about just anything. I’m a selective lover, so to say.

garlic spice thyme
Next you’re going to crush 3 cloves of garlic to a paste. Using my microplane for this makes it so easy; it grates the garlic with such little effort. Chop a few sprigs of thyme. Fresh or dried rosemary would also be wonderful. Now drizzle the chop with a little bit of olive oil, and rub it all over with the thyme and garlic.

I’ve used this rub on lamb and chicken as well, and its excellent. You can add 1 tsp or so of cumin if you like. It works well with these spices.

Back to the Pork chop…

Let it sit for 20 minutes or so if you’re going to grill it right away, or you can wrap it in saran wrap and chill if for up to a day in the fridge.  Just make sure you let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before you grill it.  This helps the pork chop cook more evenly.



Place your soaked wood chips in a metal dish or wood chip holder (pictured)on your grill grates. I always sprinkle a big handful on the coals as well. If you’re using a gas grill, you can place the metal dish under the grill grates by the flame. Then, on high heat, grill your pork chops on each side for 5 minutes, or until you get really nice grill marks. Turn off the burners on one side of your grill, and move the chops over to that side. You want to cook the chops over indirect heat, so that they cook evenly and don’t dry out. Grill for another 15-20 minutes depending on the interior temperature of your grill. Keep the lid closed.

*If you’re using your stovetop, heat a skillet (cast iron prefered) on high for a few minutes. Add a little olive oil and sear on both sides for 2 minutes. Sear the fatty edges as well until they start to crisp up. In a preheated 350 degree oven, roast the chops for another 25 minutes or so. This is for a 2-inch pork chop, if your pork chop is thinner, adjust the cooking time.

Remove the chops from the grill, or oven, when the temperature in the thickest part reads 145 degrees, or if you poke it with a knife, when the  thickest part is still a bit pink.  Let them rest on a plate or cutting board, covered loosely with foil for 5-10 minutes.  This helps the meat reabsorb the juices, so when you cut into it the juices don’t all run out.

For the Romesco

fried bun

Fry 2 slices of country white bread in 1/4 c olive oil.  Once browned, remove crusts and break into chunks.  I was out of bread, so I had some hamburger buns in the freezer and just used those… improvisation is 50% of what happens in my kitchen.


add the crushed garlic and fresh thyme to the hot pan. Add a little more oil if needed. Saute for 1 minute.



Soak the chilies in 2 cups of near boiling water for 10 minutes until soft. Remove and cut off stems, remove seeds and pat dry.


Meanwhile, toast almonds and hazelnuts on a baking sheet in the oven at 350 degrees, for 4-6 minutes or until fragrant. Place the hazelnuts in a kitchen towel, and roll them around to rub off the bitter hazelnut skins.


Cut up 1 whole ripe tomato, you only need about 1/2 a cup.


Crush with your hands to break them up and help release some of their juices.


Add the chilies and the canned tomatoes to the sauteed garlic and thyme. Cook on medium until most of the juices have evaporated, 4-5 minutes. Add a little salt to season.



In the food processor, add the nuts and bread chunks, and pulse until finely chopped.


Add tomato-chili mixture and pulse several times, then blend on high until mixture is smooth.


Add 1 cup of olive oil in a slow stream. Don’t worry if the mixture separates from the oil, its kinda like a pesto.



Transfer to a bowl, and add chopped parsely, cayenne pepper, smoked paprika (I could write a whole post on smoked paprika,
don’t substitute with regular paprika, its totally different) and a few drops of lemon to season as desired. Smother the pork chops with the sauce. Enjoy!

Ingredients

4 2-inch thick bone-in Pork Chops ~ if you can get Pork porterhouse chops even better.
Brine: (from Suzanne Goin)
1 tablespoon crushed Juniper berries
3 bay leaves, crumbled
1 tsp red chili flakes
1 onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic
6 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons Kosher salt
5 cups water

5 Spice Rub with Garlic and Thyme
1 Tbsp + 1/2 tsp smoke paprika
1 Tbsp + 1/2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cardamom
2 tsp ground black pepper
9 cloves garlic, smashed to a paste
2 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme leaves, or 2 tsp dried

Romesco Sauce (from Suzanne Goin)
1/2 ounce raw almonds (about 12 nuts)
1 ounce hazelnuts (about 32 nuts)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus 1 cup
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 1/2 ounces (about 1 thick slice or so) thick slice chewy white peasant style bread, crusts cut off
5 ancho or pasilla chiles, stems and seeds removed
1/2 cup canned peeled whole tomatoes, crushed in a large bowl with your hands
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
juice of half a lemon

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Main course, Salads

Coriander crusted sea scallops with arugula and blood orange vinaigrette

I love salads. Yes I do.

I’ve created so many different salads over the years, so this blog will finally be my way of writing them all down!

So you’ll see as I post more recipes that a good portion of them will be salads.  It probably was one of the first things I started experimenting with in the kitchen, and the thing I was told to make for all our family functions as a kid.

It’s so disappointing when I go into restaurants and all they have is the standard caesar, greek, cobb, italian chopped, etc..  What lack of imagination!  I mean, don’t get me wrong, bacon, blue cheese, tomatoes, all those  things that go in say, a cobb, are delicious.  But there are so many more possibilities, so many combinations!

If you have a favorite ingredient, we can find a way to get it into a salad!  I’ve heard grumblings from so many men out there who claim to hate salads, or if they have one its got to be smothered with blue cheese or ranch dressing.  And though I love me some blue cheese dressing, I know there are some other winner out there for the menfolk.  Give me a shot, I can convert almost anyone (my children excluded… they won’t touch the stuff …sigh)

So last night this was the main course, coriander crusted sea scallops with cara cara oranges and arugula.

It was utterly delicious.

Ok, so I know its not for everybody.  To be honest, I think the first time I tried a scallop was in my early 20s (see I’m really not a food snob, I’m regular folk!)  And to be double honest the recipient of this salad is on a diet.  That said, this is still some yummy diet food!

The vinaigrette on this salad is sweet and has a little bite from the ginger.  It goes perfectly with the scallops, as do those sweet cara cara oranges.  Coriander is a spice I never really used until recently.  It has a wonderful sweet and nutty aroma and it gives rubs such an interesting depth.  I sprinkle it on chicken before roasting it, and its out of this world on pork chops.

…….

Lets make the blood orange vinaigrette first

3 Tablespoons blood orange sorbet

Yes, its ice cream. Not your typical vinaigrette ingredients, I know, but its tart and sweet and it works.  You can just as well substitute frozen orange juice concentrate, if you want to use something cheaper and more accessible.

2 Tablespoons white balsamic vinegar.  It’s a little sweeter than the brown variety, and won’t discolor the ingredients … because we eat with our eyes as well as our mouths…

1-2 Tablespoons olive oil, whisk it in with a fork

2 teaspoons grated/minced ginger.  I used these great frozen cubes of ginger from “Dorat”.  That way you just use a few cubes and then the rest can be stored in the fridge for months.

add 1/2 tsp salt and fresh ground pepper.

Meet my friend the shallot.  He goes in all my vinaigrettes.  He just has this je n’sait quoi about him, a special sweet onion like flare.  And so he’s become indispensable to me!

Chop him up nice n fine.

Cut off one end, the pointy tip

and then make long vertical slices like so. Don’t cut all the way through to the other end.  The root of the shallot will hold it together while you make the slices.

and horizontal slices, about 2 more.  Notice how I don’t cut all the way to the end of the shallot.  This keeps it together.

now chop, and you’ll have a perfect dice.  I use this technique to chop onions, tomatoes, and about anything round that needs to be diced.

I f you want an even finer chop, go over it one more time with your knife.  Use a see saw motion with you knife, putting pressure first on the tip of your knife, and then at the back of the blade.  Use this rocking motion whenever you are chopping on your cutting board. I always put my left hand on the back of the knife to apply pressure while doing this. Hope this makes sense!

Add a Tablespoon or 2 to your vinaigrette.  The acidity of the vinegar mellows out any spiciness in the shallot.

Now for the cara cara oranges.

We’re going to cut the oranges into segments.  It’s an elegant way to eat any type of citrus fruit.  And of course most importantly it tastes better, in my opinion anyway!

So first cup off both ends of the orange, just until you remove the pith or white part.

Using your pairing knife (a short small knife), cut along the sides of the orange, turning the orange as you go, until you’ve removed all the peel and pith.

now remove the orange flesh sections from the membranes like so…

Now for the scallops…

rinse them and pat dry, then sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.

If you have coriander seeds, pound them with a mallet in a little plastic baggy.  I had ground coriander which worked fine.

press both of the flat sides of the scallop into the spice.  Then gently shake off any excess.

Seared scallops are essentially rare at the center.  Otherwise they don’t have that tender sweet flavor they’re famous for.  So get your pan smoking hot, add 1-2 Tablespoons oil and sear for no more than 30 seconds per side, 1 minute total,  just until there’s a nice golden crust. Thats why its important to use a really heavy pan that can get really hot.

Now toss the arugula with the vinaigrette, and place the orange sections and seared scallops on top.  Sprinkle with a little bit of chopped cilantro and put a few drops of vinaigrette on each scallop. I’m salivating right now just thinking about it…

enjoy!

Coriander crusted sea scallops with cara cara oranges and wild arugula

Vinaigrette

3 T blood orange sorbet or frozen orange juice concentrate

2 T white balsamic vinegar

2 T olive oil

1/2 tsp salt, black pepper to taste

2 T minced shallot (about 1 whole)

Salad

2 Cara Cara oranges or 3 ripe blood oranges

3 cups baby or wild arugula

10 jumbo sea scallops

2 T ground coriander

2 T vegetable or olive oil (for searing)

2 T chopped cilantro

salt and pepper


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Main course

Ok here I go… my family’s favorite comfort food, Bolognese.

I’ve got some picky eaters at home.

I used to think, when I was pregnant with my son, that I would raise these incredibly sophisticated eaters.  I assumed that mine would be the child you saw at the sushi bar wielding chopsticks and popping california rolls in his mouth like it was candy.  Oh the fantasies I had!

Well I’m definitely humbled in that area now.   You won’t see  me judging another mother who feeds her children cereal for dinner, and pbj at lunch (yes, I’m guilty… arrest me).

My pride in my home cooking abilities are constantly checked by my kids refusal to eat many of my favorite meals.

But this dish is one of the few exceptions to my grilled cheese and chicken nugget dinner rut.  They’ll eat it, and LOVE it, feeding my ego with comments like “mommy, ur the best cooker ever!”  They’ll even eat the small bits of carrot, celery, and tomatoes that they so painstakingly point out, because it just melts in their little mouths along with that juicy, meaty sauce.

Try it!  I add cinnamon because it just compliments the flavors of the tomatoes and the meat so well.  It’s really subtle, you can taste it, but most people can’t guess what it is!

Try starting this dish in the morning, and let it simmer on your stove through the afternoon (you can use a slow cooker too).  Your family will be drooling as it smells up your house with mouthwatering deliciousness!

tips: get all your ingredients ready first.  Chop your vegetables, measure your liquids, etc.  It will make the actual cooking part flow a lot smoother.

Rigatoni Bolognese 6 servings

2 pieces thick cut bacon, diced
1 large onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
4 garlic cloves, smashed or finely chopped
2 bay leaves
1.5 lbs ground beef, 85% lean (or you can split this up and do different variations – veal+pork+beef, or even turkey for a low fat version)
1/4 can tomato paste
1/3-1/2 bottle dry white wine, plus a few tablespoons to adjust the seasoning at the end
1 1/2  28oz. cans diced San Marzano tomatoes
4 cups beef broth
2 cups whole milk
1/4 tsp cinnamon (yes, I said cinnamon!)
1 lb bag rigatoni or other pasta
salt and pepper

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In the future, I’ll be posting pics of the process, but today you’ll have to use your imagination 🙂

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You’ll need a large pot to start.

Chop your onion, celery , carrots and bacon.  Crush you’re garlic, or if you’re like me and use you’re microplane to grate everything, go ahead and grate!

Heat your pot on a medium-high flame for a minute or two and then add the bacon.  It should be nice and crisp in about 4-5 minutes. Remove bacon, leaving the fat in the pot.

Turn your heat down to medium and add your carrots, onion, and celery.  Saute for 10 minutes, giving it a stir every minute or so, so that the veggies don’t brown but just turn translucent.

Add garlic, saute for a minute or so.  You never want to saute your garlic for more than a minute or so or it will burn and turn bitter.  When you lean your head over the pan and can smell its aroma, done.

Now your house is going to smell Ah-may-zing!  Bacon+Onion+Garlic are the trinity of make-you-hungry smells!

Add the ground beef, cook and stir until browned.

Now you can actually pour out some of the fat from the meat if you like.  Using the lid of your pot to hold back the meat and other ingredients, just tilt the pot over the sink or bowl, and pour the excess fat out.

Next over a medium flame, add the tomato paste and cinnamon, and give it a quick stir to incorporate, add the diced canned tomato, bay leaf, white wine, beef broth, and whole milk.

Bring it all to a boil, and then turn the heat down to low.  Let it simmer uncovered for 3-4 hours. Give it a stir every half hour or so, so that the bottom doesn’t burn. You can use a spoon to skim off any excess fat that comes to the surface.  This isn’t a must, but it does make this dish healthy, and it doesn’t rob from any of the flavor.

After about 3 hours, fill a large pot with water , about 2/3s the way up. Add a few tablespoons salt. This will be for the pasta.  It’s always nice to have  a pot of boiling water just ready and waiting when you need it.

Once its nice and thick, adjust the seasoning.  Does it need a little kick? Add a little white wine, or maybe some more salt and pepper.  If it’s too acidic, try adding 1/2 cup or more of milk and let it simmer another 20 minutes to reduce.

I love the subtle cinnamon, I hope you do too.  It just gives it this hidden sweetness, and works so well in this dish!  If you can’t taste it, add a another pinch and stir.

Enjoy!

~Christina

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