Classics, Dinner, Italian, Meat, Savory

Braciole

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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Savory, Sides

Sauteed Mushrooms and Spinach

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Now that it is grilling season, I am spending most of the time making sides and salads to go with whatever protein is being cooked on the grill.  This is a quick and hearty side dish that will pair really well with a nice steak.  This side dish is good at any time of year so consider it for your holiday meals as well!

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Ingredients:

4 oz of mixed mushrooms (scale up for a larger portion)

1 cup of fresh baby spinach leaves

2 Tbsp of olive oil

1 medium shallot, sliced

1/4 tsp of minced garlic

2 tsp of soy sauce

1 tsp of balsamic vinegar

a pinch of nutmeg

cracked black pepper to taste

Method:

Heat oil in a large skillet and add shallots and mushrooms.  Sautee on medium-high heat for 5-8 minutes till the vegetables start to soften.

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Add the minced garlic, nutmeg, and spinach.  Continue to sautee as the spinach wilts.

Finish the dish with soy sauce and balsamic vinegar.  Add liquid and scrape up any brown bits from the bottom on the skillet.  Continue to saute till all the liquid evaporates, about 1-2 minutes.

Taste the veggies and add additional salt the (sodium levels will depend on the type of soy sauce you use) and cracked black pepper.  I add a lot of pepper because that is the way we like it.

Serve piping hot with a juicy steak!

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Brunch, Quick Dinner

Spinach and Roasted Red Pepper Hash

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So I am back to my regular routine of working in the lab.  Which means, I need to start making lunches and dinners ahead of time.  This recipe a healthy take on a classic hash….no potatoes, no oil, no bacon–but packed with flavor ! Here goes !

Ingredients:

1, 16oz bag of frozen chopped spinach

1 jar of roasted red peppers ( choose your own size based on how much peppers your want)

6 eggs

1/2 tsp of nutmeg

1 tsp of crushed red pepper

salt and pepper to taste.

Method:

Preheat oven to 350F

Sauté spinach, sliced peppers and seasonings till everything has wilted.

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Crack the eggs directly into the pan and transfer then pan to the oven.

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Bake for 10-15mins till the eggs set.  This also based on personal preference.  Some people like their yolks runny and some like them set.  So adjust your back time according.

Serve family style–for brunch, lunch or dinner.  Crusty bread and a light fruit salad would complete the meal !

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Classics, Comfort food, Indian, Poultry, Savory

Murgh Saagwalla ( Spinach and Chicken Curry)

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This is the meal I want on my death bed.  Palak or Saag in Hindi means Spinach and there is a place back home that makes the best Palak Panner (Indian cheese).  This is a traditional North Indian dish and every family has there own variation—like any traditional dish.  My mother has her own take on it (maybe I will try it soon) but this is a recipe from Madhur Jaffery.  It tastes really good—it is a little involved, but is vary flavorful and please don’t be afraid, you can completely control the spice level according to your families’ taste.  So here we go !

Ingredients:

1lb of chicken cut into pieces

2 chopped tomatoes

16 oz of drained, chopped, frozen spinach

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To Fry:

1 medium onion sliced

To Blend:

2 chopped onions

2” piece of ginger

4 garlic cloves

Seasoning the oil:

2-3 Tbsp of vegetable oil

5 cardamom pods

1 cinnamon stick

Other Spices:

2 tsp coriander

1 tsp cumin

½ tsp cayenne pepper

6 tbsp of plain yogurt

Salt to season.

Method:

Heat a 1tbsp of oil in a pot and fry sliced onions till golden and set aside.

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In the meantime blend onions, ginger and garlic.

In the same pot where you fried the onion, add the remaining oil and the whole cardamom pods and cinnamon stick.

Add the blended onion mixture and sauté till the raw smell in gone and the paste turns pale brown.

Add cumin, coriander and cayenne and sauté till golden brown.

Next add the yogurt, 1 Tbsp at a time and slowly stir the mixture till all the yogurt is added the sauce come together .

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Next add the tomatoes, spinach, chicken.

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Season with salt and cover with water and allow to simmer on medium heat for 30 mins till the water evaporates and the sauce thickens.

Serve piping hot with flatbread or basmati rice !

 

 

 

 

Salad, Sides

Pear, Fennel,walnut, cranberry salad

Roasted fruits and nuts tossed with peppery arugula and fresh baby spinach makes for a decadent an elegant salad fit for guests and a humble lunch box ! My salad for my Autumn Brunch.

Ingredients:

8 Bartlett pears, diced

1 whole fennel bulb chopped

12 oz dried cranberries

8 oz of walnuts

2 tbsp butter

1 tbsp brown sugar

8 oz baby spinach

8 oz arugula

4 tbsp balsamic vinegar.

Method:

Preheat oven to 350F

Toss butter, sugar with fruits and nuts and roast till tender and brown.

Toss with salad greens and balsamic vinegar and serve warm !

 

Italian, Quick Dinner

Sausage Spinach Saute

A hearty, speedy skillet dinner.  With hints of Italian flavors, this dish would pair really well warm, crusty garlic bread on a cool summer evening.  With just a few ingredients that don’t even need to be fresh (i.e canned and frozen will work) and you can have dinner on the table in less than an hour.  Here is what you will need.

Ingredients:

1 lb of spicy Italian sausage

16 oz bag of thawed frozen spinach

1 medium onion sliced

1 can of white beans

1 Tbsp of olive oil

1 tsp of chopped garlic

A dash of nutmeg

salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to taste.

Method:

In a skillet add the sausage links and fill with a little bit of water and 1 tbsp of olive oil.  Cook the sausage till cooked through and the casing in lightly browned.

Remove the sausage, and to the same pan add the remaining oil and add the garlic.  Saute till fragrant and then add the onions.  Saute till pale golden.

Then add the spinach and the beans and saute till the spinach wilts down.

Season with nutmeg, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes and then toss in the sausages.

Plate up hot, straight from the skillet with some garlic bread !!!!!

Comfort food, Dinner, Middle Eastern

Syrian Spinach and Lentils

I have to thank ABC’s Diane Sawyer for this recipe.  During her travels to the Middle East she had the opportunity to taste the local food and share it with us back in the states.  This recipe visually looks ok, sounds good , but tastes  AMAZING.  I grew up with a lot of lentil soup and generally enjoy the flavor, but this was a great combination and I will be making this often.  It is loaded in magnesium and folic acids–so it is a super yummy way to get a lot of good stuff into your diet.  Not to mention that it is hearty and filling.  So here it is.

Ingredients

1 16 oz frozen leaf spinach

1 medium-size onion, peeled

5 tbsp. vegetable oil

2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

1 cup dried lentils, picked over, washed, and drained

1 1/2 to 1 3/4 tsp. salt

1 tsp. ground cumin seeds

1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Cooking Directions

Cut the onion in half lengthwise, and then cut the halves into fine half rings.

Heat the oil in and add the onion and garlic.

Stir and saute for 2 minutes.

Now put in the lentils and 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil.

Cover, lower heat and simmer about 25 minutes or until lentils are just tender.

Add the thawed and drained spinach leaves along with salt and cumin.

Stir to mix and bring to a simmer.

Cover and simmer another 10 to 15 minutes or until spinach is tender and well-mixed into the lentils. Stir gently a few times during this period.

Put in the black pepper and mix again.

This dish may easily be made ahead of time and reheated.

 

Salad

Spinach Salad with a Strawberry, Basil, Red Wine reduction

I bought 2 lbs of strawberries and living by myself you only eat so many berries before they start taking a turn for the worse.  My solution to salvage fruit/veggies that could get spoiled, is to cook them.  They retain their flavor, its healthy and you won’t have to throw out food.  This is a warm reduction that you add to fresh baby spinach.  It’s a warm salad.  Feel free to add almonds, bacon bits, and even more fresh fruit like apples and pears.  Here goes.

Ingredients:

1/2 Tbsp olive oil

2 tsp of fennel seeds

I medium onion sliced

1/2 cup red wine (any red wine–I normally use up half opened bottles)

sliced strawberries ( I had about 1.5 cups, use as much as you like, but keep in mind the more you use, the sweeter the reduction)

5-7 leaves of  fresh basil, sliced

Fresh cracked black pepper ( no salt).

Baby Spinach, enough to build a salad of your serving choice.

Method:

1.Heat extra virgin olive oil in a pan and when warm, add the fennel.  Stir for a few secs till fragrant and then add onions

2. Saute onions till pale and then add red wine and allow to reduce, stirring in between to prevent sticking to the bottom

3.  Add sliced strawberries and basil and allow to reduce.  The strawberry will cook down and the sugars will allow the onions to carmelize.

4. Taste the reduction, if it is too sweet, you can counter-act the sweetness with a few dashes of balsamic vinegar.

5. Toss warm (not hot) reduction with baby spinach leaves and add freshly cracked black pepper.  I garnished with honeyed oats (granola would work too !!!)