Monday, October 31, 2011

Brussel Sprouts ala Bouchon

While traveling this past month my husband and I had the pleasure of eating at Buchon in Las Vegas. May I just say that it was simply fabulous?
From our appetizers to our deserts everything was prepared to perfection, and plated in a magical way that teased your taste buds before the food touched your lips! It was a magnificent meal served by a wait staff that was knowledgeable and very friendly. I would have eaten there every night if I had the opportunity! If you are ever in Las Vegas do yourself a huge favor and make a reservation. You'll be glad that you did!

Octopus and Fingerling Potatoes
Something that I love to do is try to recreate a dish that I've had while eating out. Sometimes I am very successful and other times it takes many misses to make it a hit.
I love brussel sprouts, and we had them at Buchon. They were made with a thick sliced bacon. They were amazing! I've been trying to make these at home.

The first time I made them, they came out just alright. Nothing special...the second time I made them I decided to incorporate my own likes into what I think I remembered eating.
I cut up two slices of thick bacon. The bacon was cooked to a nice crisp.  I added 4 sliced baby leeks to the bacon and bacon fat.
In a small pot, I steamed the brussel sprouts just until tender.  I cut them in half and added them to the bacon and leeks. I seasoned them with salt and pepper and added a tablespoon of butter.  I turned up the heat so the brussel sprouts would get a nice sear to them.
Unfortunately, we started eating them and I didn't take a picture of the finished brussel sprouts! My husband said they are still not Buchon's,  but I'm getting closer!  If left overs are any indication of how much they were enjoyed I have to tell you that there are none! They are gone!

Buon Appetito

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Pasta e fagioli

Here in New York we've had some very unusual weather for October! We had a snow storm that took us all by surprise.  With the snow coming so early, with trees still full of their leaves the weight of the snow created some havoc. Streets are closed with fallen limbs and some dancing live wires!
I am thankful that we are all safe and did not loose power.

Due to the storm and not being able to get around yesterday the cupboards were bare. I had to make do with what I had on hand.
Is there anything better than a hearty bowl of soup on a cold day? Because my supplies were limited I decided to make a nice big pot of Pasta e Fagioli. In an Italian kitchen there is always a bag of beans, pasta, and tomato sauce.
I started with an onion and a few cloves of garlic. I chopped them and added them to a large stock pot that was heating a tablespoon of olive oil.  I sliced 2 slices of thick cut bacon and added the bacon to the onions and garlic. I let everything cook together, making sure the bacon cooked.

Then I added the beans. I had soaked the beans in water over night to give them a head start. If you forgot to soak your beans it's ok, it will just take much longer to make your soup. If you didn't soak your beans plan on the soup cooking for a good 2 1/2 hours, maybe longer.  You can use a can of

Cannellini Beans if you want. I prefer not too,  but that is a personal choice.

After adding the beans I added 6 cups of water and a little tub of Knors Homestyle Chicken Stock. It added nice flavor! I added a bay leaf, salt and pepper to taste and a pinch of red pepper flakes. I brought  the broth to a boil and then covered the pot and let the beans simmer for 50 minutes.

I also like to add a piece of the "rind" from the grating cheese I use. I always save pieces of the "rind" or "skin" in my freezer and drop them into the dish that I am making.  After tasting the beans to make sure that they were tender I added a large can of crushed tomatoes. Bring the broth back to a boil and add your pasta. I like to use Ditalini for this dish.
I cooked the pasta for 8 minutes, and then turned off the heat.
Sprinkle the soup with a little fresh chopped parsley and some freshly grated parmesan cheese and you'll be enjoying a delicious tasting, hearty and satisfying soup.
Buon Appetito

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Baked Skirt Steaks

If you love steak you probably love skirt steak.  There's just something about the cut of this meat with all the fat running through it that gives it the most delicious flavor. Did I forget to say how tender this cut of meat can be if prepared well?
I just had a manicure today so I didn't want to cook the steak under the broiler. We all know that cleaning that pan is the biggest pain in the butt! So tonight I baked the Skirt Steak. Trust me, it works...and the end result is a delicious steak that you and your family will love.
I marinated the steaks in a teriyaki style sauce. When rushed and don't have time to make my own I will reach for Yoshida's Special Sauce. It is an amazing soy based sauce that can adjust to any recipe. To the sauce I added 4 - 5 crushed cloves of garlic, 2 tablespoons of rosemary, and 2 tablespoons of sesame seeds. Mix it all together.
 I know some of you are thinking that you don't want the rosemary in this...that it's a weird combination, but you have to believe! Keep the faith!
In a baking pan I placed the skirt steaks so that they were in a single layer and then sliced a large onion and tossed it on top of the steak. Then I poured the marinade over the steak and onions.
Let the steak stand at room temperature in the marinade for one hour.
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
Flip the steaks over in the pan and then cover it with aluminum foil. Bake for 20 minutes covered. Uncover and then bake for another 10 minutes.
Your steak should be a beautiful medium rare. It will be tender and absolutely delicious! I promise!
Buon Appetitio

Friday, October 21, 2011

Pork Chops and No Applesauce

Hello friends, it has been awhile since I last posted. Since leaving for Vegas life has been full. Some days I feel as if there aren't enough hours in the day.  I have been cooking, making meals for the family, and then while eating realize that I didn't take any pictures to show you what's been cooking.
Last night I did remember to take a few pictures.
The butcher had some lovely center cut pork chops and I asked him to cut them 1 1/2 " thick for me. I was debating on whether to stuff them or make them with some peppers and onions. I know my husband loves pork with peppers and onions. For that matter so do I. Throw in some artichoke hearts and make a reduction sauce with balsamic vinegar and you're all set to go.

Start by heating up your pan and then adding olive oil and a little butter just to coat the bottom. After seasoning the pork chops on each side with salt and pepper I browned the chops on each side.
After the chops had a nice sear I removed them from the pan and added the onions, peppers and some chopped garlic. I sautéed these until they had some nice color. Make sure you scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon, getting all the good stuff on the bottom.  I added Balsamic Vinegar and tossed in a can of artichoke hearts and put everything into a baking pan and then into the oven to finish it off. I also added some hot cherry peppers. I love the heat!

This is very easy to make and it's also a real crowd pleaser.

I have some lovely pictures to share with you from my trip to Vegas. I'll try to get them up and on the blog within a few days.

Buon Appetito