Classics, Comfort food, Dinner, Meat, Savory

Classic Pot Roast

When the temperature is 22F, there is nothing quite like a slow cooked roast in the oven. This past Sunday, I tried my hand at making a classic pot roast and I have to say, there is a reason this is called comfort food. I would highly recommend making this recipe this winter season.

Ingredients:

3-4 lbs of brisket

4 medium onions, quatered

4 medium carrots, cut into 2 inch pieces

4-5 medium potatoes, cut into large cubes

2 springs of rosemary

2 springs of thyme

1 bay leaf

1 cup of red wine (pick a nice full-bodied wine, something that you would enjoy drinking!)

3 cups of low-sodium chicken stock

4 tsps of salt

4 tsps of pepper

4 tbsps of olive oil.

Method:

Preheat your oven to 300F

Heat 2 tbsps of olive oil in a dutch-oven. Fry onions and carrots with 1 tsp of salt and pepper each. You are looking to get a golden color on the onions and slight char marks on the carrots. Once they are done, set aside.

In the same pot, add the rest of the oil and fry the potatoes with 1 tsp of salt and pepper each.

While the potatoes are frying, season the beef with the rest of the salt and pepper.

The potatoes will not cook through at this stage, all you are looking is to get a golden color. Set aside.

Sear the beef in the same pot, about 3 minutes per side. All you are looking to get is a brown crust on the beef.

Set the beef aside and deglaze the pan with wine, scraping up all the delicious brown bits from bottom of the pan.

Add the beef and just the onions back to the pot, cover with chicken stock, add rosemary, thyme and a bay leaf.

Cover the pot and cook in a 300F oven for 2 hours.

After 2 hours, add the vegetables back to the pot and cook for another additional 1 to 1.5 hours, till the beef is fall-apart-fork-tender!!!

After a total of 3 to 3,5 hours, pull the pot out of the oven and remove the beef. Tent the beef and let it rest. Remove the carrots and potatoes from the pot, arrange them in the foil-lines baking sheet and roast them at 375F for 20 mins. The will remove the sogginess from the veggies and give them a nice roasted texture.

While the veggies are roasting, simmer the juices in the pot on the stove-top, skimming the fat from the top.

Serve large chunks of the brisket with the roasted carrots and potatoes and generous spoonful of the juices. You will also want a bing chunk of crusty bread and a big goblet of red wine.

Dinner, Meat, Savory, Stew

Pork Stew with Apples, Mushrooms and Sage

I guess you could call then a French recipe, but really, I was looking at what I had in the fridge and sort of threw it together, and it came together wonderfully! It is a perfect fall stew, easy enough for a regular weeknight dinner, yet elegant enough for company. If you make this, let me know what you think, I know I will be adding this stew to the rotation!

Ingredients:

3 pounds of cubed pork (I used tenderloin, but I would recommend pork shoulder)

2 small onions, diced

4 shallots, diced

4 stalks of celery diced

2 small apples, cubed (use whatever kind you have–remember to peel and core them!)

16 oz of sliced mushrooms

6 slices of bacon, chopped

1 tsp of paprika

2 tsp of Worcestershire sauce

1/4 cup flour

1/2 cup white wine

3 cups of chicken stalk

1 tsp of salt

1 tsp of black pepper

2 tsp of sage

2 tsp of thyme

2 Tbsp of olive oil.

Method:

In a large dutch oven, fry the bacon till crisp. Set the bason aside.

Fry the cubed pork pieces in the bacon fat will golden, set aside

Add 2 tbsp of olive oil to the pot, and all the veggies. Saute for 10-15 minutes on medium-heat, till the veggies are pale golden and have softened.

Add salt, pepper, paprika, sage, thyme, and flour, and saute for an additional 10 minutes.

Add the pork and bacon back to the pot, add wine and worcestershire sauce, and cover with chicken stock.

Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot and cook the stew till it thickens. This will take about 2 to 2.5 hours. Make sure to stir every 15-20 minutes to ensure that nothing sticks to the bottom.

Half way through the cooking process, taste the stew and adjust salt and pepper as needed.

The stew is ready when the meat is fork tender and sauce has thickened. You should not be able to see any of the apples, they should melt into the stew completely.

Serve over a bed or creamy mashed potatoes.

Classics, Comfort food, Meat, Mexican, Savory, Soups

Instapot Beef Chili

It is that time of the year when the weather is cold and raw and the only thing that will soothe the soul, is warm bowl of soup (or stew or stoup). Beef chili can take a while to make, but not if you have an Instapot. I was shocked at how quickly (about 40 minutes) the chili came together and it tasted like it had been cooked for hours!! This is the recipe, that really convinced me that the Instapot was a great investment (although, I got mine from my in-laws, so kudos to them!). Everyone, has a preference for chili, but this is how I make mine.

Ingredients:
2 medium onions, chopped

2 medium green pepper, chopped

2 medium jalapenos (or more if you like it spicy) sliced into rings

1.5 pounds of ground beef

1, 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes

1 cup of chicken stock

1 can of kidney beans

4 tsp of minced garlic

2 Tbsp of cumin

3 tsp of chili powder

1 tsp of cayenne powder

2 tsp of salt

1 tsp of ground black pepper

1/4 tsp of cinnamon

2 tsp of olive oil

Method:

Turn the Instapot ON to the saute setting.

Add olive oil and ground meat to the pot. Saute till brown. Drain off any excess fat (this will depend on the fat content of the ground beef. I used 90/10 and there was very little fat to drain).

Add the onions, peppers, and jalapenos to the pot and saute till the veggies soften.

Add all the spices and continue to saute for an additional 7-10 minutes.

Turn off the sautee setting and add in the stock, beans, and the crushed tomato.

Cook the chili using the “Pressure Cook” setting on “High” for 30 mintues.

Your chili is ready

Serve with your choice of fixings. We like to keep it simple and eat the chili with corn chips.

Lifestyle

Wedding Cake

00100dPORTRAIT_00100_BURST20200808202043513_COVER

The highlight of this pandemic was when two of my dearest friends got married!!!  To add to the joy, they trusted me with baking their wedding cake!  WHAT AN HONOR!!!  For their intimate, COVID-compliant wedding, they wanted a small wedding cake and cupcakes for their guests–keeps the sharing safe.  For the main cake, the bride and groom requested a white cake filled with lemon curd and raspberry preserves and covered with a vanilla bean frosting.

00100dPORTRAIT_00100_BURST20200808202032260_COVER

00100dportrait_00100_burst20200808204537560_cover

For the cupcakes, they requested a vanilla cake with chocolate frosting and a chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting.

00100dportrait_00100_burst20200808202020698_cover00000img_00000_burst20200808202025174_cover

I had some extra white cake batter leftover, so I turned them into cupcakes with a lemon frosting–not shown in the picture here.  The lemon cupcakes tasted great but did not meet my “picture worthy” standard–note to self, never add sliced blackberries to a pale lemon frosting–it will bleed and turn purple!!!

00100dPORTRAIT_00100_BURST20200808202055132_COVER

Comfort food, Poultry, Savory

Turkey Meatloaf

00000img_00000_burst20200626183059613_cover

Turkey is the start of the Thanksgiving table.  However, once the holidays are over, we often forget about this source of protein.  Turkey can be a budget-friendly alternative chicken and my favorite way of buying turkey is when the ground turkey goes on sale.  It is perfect for making burgers, meatballs, and of course, meatloaf.  Since it is a lean source of protein, the trick to making anything “ground turkey” delicious, is to spice it up and have ingredients that will add moisture.  I have been making this meatloaf for some time, and so I thought that it was time to write it down share it with you all.  This meatloaf is packed with flavor and is just as comforting as your more traditional recipe.

00100dportrait_00100_burst20200626183114790_cover

Ingredients:

1 pound of ground turkey

1 medium onion

1 tsp of garlic

1 tsp of Calabrian chili paste

1 Tbsp of julienned sun-dried tomato

1 handful of fresh basil and parsley (equal amounts of each)

1 tsp of salt

1 egg

1/2 cup of breadcrumbs

1/4 cup ketchup

Method:

Add all the ingredients (except turkey, breadcrumb, egg, and ketchup) in a food processor and grind to make a flavorful paste.

Add the past to the ground turkey.

IMG_20200613_124943

Add 1 beaten egg and breadcrumbs, and mix everything together, thoroughly.

IMG_20200613_125543

On a wax paper-lined baking sheet, shape the turkey mixture into a loaf.  At this point, you can freeze the meatloaf.

IMG_20200613_130934

When you are ready to cook the meatloaf, preheat oven to 375F and line and grease a baking sheet.

Place the meatloaf on the foil-lined and greased baking sheet and top with ketchup.  I sometimes like to sprinkle a few red pepper flakes on top of the ketchup, but this is entirely optional.

Bake for 30-35 minutes.  Broil on high for an additional 2-3 mins to caramelize the sugars in the ketchup.

Let the meatloaf rest for 5-7 minutes and slice and serve.  I like to serve my roasted broccoli rabe with this meal.

00100dportrait_00100_burst20200626183104661_cover

Sweet

Pistachio Gelato

00000img_00000_burst20200629191026224_cover

I love pistachios.  It is a popular nut used in a lot of “special occasion” sweets in India.  I will eat pistachios in any form–as an indulgent and rather addictive snack, in salads, with yogurt, or mixed in with breadcrumbs to add richness to your baked chicken recipe.  So, when I saw this recipe (original recipe here), I had to make it.  I will recommend purchasing raw pistachio butter online; make sure it is 100% pistachio, no sugar, no salt, nothing but pistachios!  Here is how this delicious, rich, creamy, and cold dessert is churned up!

Ingredients:

4 large egg yolks
3⁄4 cup sugar
2 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
3⁄4 tsp. kosher salt
6 Tbsp. pure pistachio paste (not pistachio cream)

Instructions:

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until well combined. Whisk in the milk, cream, and salt until combined.

 


Set the saucepan over medium heat and cook, whisking frequently, until a thermometer inserted into the mixture reads 170°. Remove from the heat and whisk in the pistachio paste until well combined.

 


Set a fine strainer over an airtight container and pour the mixture through. Cover and refrigerate overnight or up to 3 days (this helps cooked custard bases achieve a stable consistency).

 


In the bowl of an ice cream maker, churn the mixture according to the manufacturer’s directions until it’s firm and billowy, and a spoon dragged across the top leaves a lasting impression, about 30 minutes.

 

Transfer to an airtight container and freeze until hardened, at least 4-5 hours. Later on, if it’s too firm, thaw it in the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes before scooping and serving. For best results, eat within 2 days of freezing.

img_20200629_190713-1

00100dportrait_00100_burst20200629191103278_cover

Italian, Savory

Stuffed Zucchini

00000img_00000_burst20200622181014677_cover

This is a versatile recipe and it will most certainly make the “veggie-haters” eat zucchini.  For this particular recipe, I used ground beef with Italian flavors.  You could use taco spices for a Mexican spin and you can change up the protein with ground chicken or turkey.  You can also make this a 100% vegetarian meal by using beans, corn, quinoa, and peppers as a filling.  I have also heard a friend use crabmeat as a filling, which I have to try next.   However you choose to make this, it is a fool-proof way to jazz up zucchini!

00000img_00000_burst20200622181208576_cover

Ingredients

2 large medium-sized zucchini

1 medium onion, chopped

1.5 cups of ground beef

1/2 tsp of minced garlic

1/4 tsp of Calabrian chili paste

1 tsp of Italian seasoning

1 tsp of tomato paste

1/2 cup of tomato basil sauce

1 Tbsp of fresh parsley, chopped

1 Tbsp of olive oil, plus additional oil to brush on zucchini

Shredded mozzarella cheese for melting on top, as much as you like

salt and pepper for seasoning.

Method:

Slice zucchini down the middle, length-wise.  Using a melon baller or a spoon, scoop out the inside of the zucchini, making a hollow “boat”.  Season with a little bit of salt and let the zucchini rest for 30 minutes to an hour.  This will pull out some of the excess liquid in the zucchini and also season the flesh.

Preheat oven to 375F.  While that happens, move on to making the filling.

Heat oil in a skillet and add the ground beef.  Saute till it starts to brown.  Then add all the remaining spices except for the tomato basil sauce and parsley.

Cook all the ingredients, till the beef is dark brown, and all the spices have bloomed and are married together.

Finally, add the sauce and parsley and cook for an additional 7-9 minutes.  At this point, you can store the filling in the fridge for later use or you can proceed to the next step.

img_20200622_170305

Using a paper towel, blot the excess moisture off the Zucchini and arrange them, cut-side up, on a greased baking pan.  Sprinkle the cavity with some black pepper and bake the zucchini for 10 minutes.

img_20200622_163723

Pull out the zucchini and fill then with beef mixture.  You will note in the picture that two of the “boats” have more filling than the other two, personal preference really, I like more vegetable and my husband prefers more beef.  He also likes more cheese as you will see in the following pictures.

 

img_20200622_174231

Baked the filled zucchini for another 10 minutes.

Top the boats with cheese (as much as you like) and bake for another 8-10 minutes, or until the cheese is melty and bubbly!  Turn the broiler on at the end if you want to brown the top of the cheese.

img_20200622_175451

img_20200622_180812

Serve piping hot!

00100dportrait_00100_burst20200622181142377_cover00000img_00000_burst20200622181156942_cover

 

 

 

Classics, Dinner, Italian, Meat, Savory

Braciole

00000img_00000_burst20200620173510666_cover

This is my take on a classic Italian Braciole or beef-roll ups.  This is an easy and hearty dish that looks extremely elegant.  You can make the filling several days ahead and if you use store-bought marinara sauce, this meal comes together in about a half an hour, elevating any boring weeknight to date night!  Here is how I made this dish.

00100dportrait_00100_burst20200620173515721_cover

Ingredients:

For the roll-up:

2 pieces of flank-steak, pounded thin (the package might say “braciole)

A double batch of Sauteed Mushrooms and Spinach

1 Tbsp of breadcrumbs

Salt and cracked black pepper to season the meat, about a 1tsp of each.

1 Tbsp of olive oil

Kitchen string cut into 6-8 pieces, long enough to wrap around and tie the rolled meat

For the sauce:

1 cup of marinara or tomato-basil sauce

1/2 tsp of red pepper flakes (optional)

1 tsp of Italian seasoning

1/2 tsp of balsamic vinegar

Method:

Cook the spinach and mushrooms (you can find the recipe here).  You will need to double the recipe so that you have enough filling.  The filling can be made several days in advance.

Season the meat with salt and pepper.  Mix the bread crumb with spinach and mushroom filling.

img_20200620_165447

img_20200620_165459

Divide the filling on to the two pieces of flank steak and spread it on to the meat.  Press the filling down, so that it sticks to the meat–it will stay in place when you go to roll it.

img_20200620_165808

Starting from the short end, roll the steak up like a jelly-roll, tightly; tucking in any filling that may fall out.

img_20200620_170106img_20200620_170112

Using the pre-cut kitchen twine ( I like to cut it ahead of time), tie up the rolls tightly.

Heat oil in a cast-iron skillet and once it is hot, add the beef roll-ups.  I like to add some additional cracked black pepper at this step, makes for a really nice crust!

img_20200620_171827

Sear on high heat, about 2-3 minutes per side, making sure you get the entire surface of the roll browned–not just top and bottom.  After you get the initial sear, you may lower the heat to medium and continue to cook, rolling the beef to a different surface ever 2 minutes.  The entire process will take about 15- 20 minutes.  It might take longer if your rolls are larger.

img_20200620_172016img_20200620_172454img_20200620_172651

let the beef rolls rest for at least 5 minutes before you cutting the string and slicing the meat.

While the beef is searing, heat all the ingredients for the sauce in a small saucepot.  You are looking to warm up the sauce so that all the ingredients get a chance to blend in and impart their flavor.  You keep the sauce on a low simmer the entire time the beef is cooking.

img_20200620_170805

To plate dinner, spoon sauce on a plate and arrange two slices of the braciole/beef-roll up.  Pour yourself a glass of red wine and dinner is served!

00100dportrait_00100_burst20200620173525087_cover

 

 

Fish & Seafood, Savory

Blackened Tilapia with Crispy Okra

img_20200616_180656

When I saw fresh okra at the grocery store I knew I had to make this.  And what goes well with okra? Something “blackened” of course!!!  If you are not a fan of fish, you can rub the spices on the chicken and bake/grill chicken.  You could also pair this with baked chicken or fried chicken.  I personally love blackened fish, it reminds of my childhood, as does okra.  So, this meal is truly comfort food for me.

img_20200616_180701-1

Ingredients:

For the Okra:

2 cups chopped okra (medium-rounds)

3 Tbsp of cornmeal

3Tbsp of rice flour

1 tsp of salt

1tsp of chipotle chili (or any kind of chili powder)

1/2 tsp of cumin

5 Tbsp of oil

3 Tbsp of water

1 egg

For the blackened spice rub:

1tsp of each of the following

  • salt
  • black pepper
  • thyme
  • oregano
  • smoked paprika
  • garlic powder

For the fish:

1 Tbsp of oil

3-4 tilapia fillets

Method–For the Okra.

Preheat oven to 375F.  Chop okra and add to bowl.  MIx with cornmeal, rice flour, and spices.

img_20200616_171153img_20200616_171525

In a separate bowl, mix 3 Tbsp of oil, water, and 1 egg.  Beat thoroughly to mix and add the okra

Spread the mixture on a baking sheet or a cast-iron skillet and drizzle with the remaining 2 Tbsp of oil.

img_20200616_172029

Bake for 30-40 minutes, stirring the mixture every 10 minutes.

img_20200616_180430

img_20200616_180643

Method–For the Tilapia.

Mix the blackening spices with 1 Tbsp oil to create a paste.

img_20200616_172857

Pat dry the fish fillets and massage the spice paste on to the fillet.

img_20200616_173328

Arrange fish on a lined baking sheet, if you are using aluminum foil, you lightly spray the foil to prevent the fish from sticking.

Bake the fish for 20 minutes till flakey,

Serve with fish with okra and corn and enjoy!

img_20200616_180626

 

 

Meat, Moroccan, Savory

Pork Chops with Harissa

00000portrait_00000_burst20200611180436287

The past few days have been hot and humid.  It is too oppressive to turn on the oven and the sudden, thunderous, downpour (providing no relief by the way) makes grilling difficult. Under these circumstances,  I try to make quick, skillet dinners.  I also recently bought a jar of harissa paste, so I decided to make the best of the situation and make this dish.  It was a little experimental but turned out delicious.  If you are not a fan of pork or have dietary restrictions, the sauce will work really well with chicken, shrimp, or mixed vegetables.

00100dportrait_00100_burst20200611180502321_cover

Ingredients:

3, center-cut, boneless pork chops

1/8 cup flour

1/2 tsp each of salt, pepper, coriander, and smoked paprika

1 medium onion, sliced

1/2 tsp of minced garlic

1 tsp of tomato paste

3 tsp of harissa paste (not sauce)

1 tsp of chicken broth concentrate + 1 cup of water OR 1 cup of chicken broth

1/2 tsp of dried parsley

2 Tbsp of olive oil

Additional salt and pepper to taste.

Method:

Heat 1 Tbsp of oil in a skillet.  While the oil warms up, mix flour with flour, salt, pepper, coriander, and smoked paprika in a bowl.

img_20200611_173405

Dredge, pork chops in the flour-spice mixture, and add to the hot oil.

img_20200611_173700

Fry the pork chops, about 2-3 minutes per side, till folder brown.  Set aside.

img_20200611_173952

Heat remaining 1 Tbsp oil in the same pan.  Coat the sliced onions in the remaining flour mixture and add to the pan.  Sautee on medium-high heat for about 2-3 minutes till they soften.

Once the onions start to soften, add the garlic, tomato paste and harissa paste.  Continue to saute for another 3-5 minutes.

img_20200611_174605

Add chicken stock concentrate and water, dried parsley, and reduce the temperature to medium-low.  Simmer the sauce for 3-5 minutes.

img_20200611_174914

Return the pork chops to the pan.  Continue to simmer till the sauce thickens. Taste the sauce and adjust salt and pepper as needed.  If the sauce taste too tart, you can add a pinch of sugar to cut through the acid.  This will depend on the harissa paste and tomato paste brand.

img_20200611_175341

Plate the pork chops with healthy dollops of the harissa sauce.

00100dportrait_00100_burst20200611180532890_cover00000portrait_00000_burst2020061118045735000100dportrait_00100_burst20200611180450780_cover