Eggs. It’s What’s For Dinner: 2 Exceptional Recipes Merging Eggs & Leftovers

IMG_4689Why do leftovers get such a bad rap? To me, a fridge full of unconsumed culinary creations is like a painter’s palette ready to inspire some creativity. But in my case, it all happens at the stove. It must be the short order cook in me who loves conceiving of meals from parts of other fantastic meals. It all began when I was in my 20s, before the advent of Top Chef, when my theme would be leftovers. It was a great lesson in flavor integration and textural diversity, and some of the most memorable meals resulted.

One key ingredient that can bring all leftovers together in harmony is the incredible, edible egg (a dozen-or-so of which are likely in your fridge right now). If you can get comfortable with the concept of an egg-derived dish for dinner, a whole new world of savory delight can be opened up to you. And the best part is that you have the freedom to invent as you go.

If you’re feeling a lack of creativity, or perhaps a wave of intimidation at the thought of flying solo this way in the kitchen, allow me to inspire you. I recently created two dinners on the fly, made entirely of eggs, leftovers and other common ingredients, both of which have now ended up in my permanent recipe catalog. Included below are those recipes, as well as links to my recipes for the meals that yielded the initial leftovers. It’s like getting 4 recipes for the price of one! Enjoy the process, and please feel free to share your results with me.

Black Bean Soup Mexicana (Serves 1)
Link HERE for my BBQ Black Bean Soup recipe

2/3 cup Leftover BBQ Black Bean Soup
1 cup brown rice
1/3 avocado, diced
2 tsp olive oil
1 Tbsp chopped cilantro
2 eggs

Cook the brown rice fully, and place into a large microwave-safe bowl. Ladle the black bean soup over the rice, and cover with a moist paper towel. Microwave until hot (1-3 minutes). Remove and top the soup with sliced avocado sprinkled with smoked salt. Heat oil in a small frying pan. Fry two eggs in desired style, and season with a bit of salt and pepper. Perch eggs atop the avocado. Sprinkle with cilantro and a finishing salt. Serve and enjoy the deep, rich flavors, while getting a serious serving of protein! Pair with a refreshing lager or pilsner.

Decadent Polenta Cakes (Serves 1)
Link HERE for my creamy Polenta recipe

3 Tbsp olive oil
Polenta, cut into 3 x 3 inch ‘cakes’
2 Tbsp flour
1 large garlic clove, minced
6 oz spinach
2 eggs

This takes an extra strategic move after initially enjoying the polenta. In creating leftover polenta, transfer it into a pan that allows the cornmeal to cool in a flat, round ‘brownie’ form, 1½ inches thick and flat on the top.

Heat 1 and 1/3 Tbsp olive oil (1 Tbsp + 1 tsp) in a pan until almost smoking. Dredge the polenta cakes in flour and delicately tap off excess. “Fry” the polenta until brown on both sides (about 3 minutes a side, taking care when flipping, since the creamy inside can become unstable). Transfer to a plate and keep warm in a toaster oven. In the polenta pan, heat 2 tsp oil and fry up 2 eggs any style. Season with salt and pepper. Meanwhile, in a separate large fry pan, heat 2 tsp olive oil. Add garlic when oil is hot. Add spinach when you can first smell the fragrance of the garlic, and sautee. In a shallow bowl, layer spinach then polenta then eggs. Top with some grated parmesan cheese if desired. Serve and enjoy this restaurant-style delicacy! Pair with a serious sparkling wine, like a vintage Spanish Cava.

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Spring, Finally! How About Some Wine?

In the Hudson Valley this year, springtime has felt more like an extended late-winter. A warm March prompted us to settle into spring extremely early, and the same could be said for the local vegetation. But when things cooled right back down in April, it sent nature into a state of confusion. These mixed messages might have kept us in corduroys well past spring’s due date, but it also made for a delightfully extended scavenger season, most notably for the seekers of ramps and fiddlehead ferns (which has inspired me to create more than one delectable risotto in the month of May).

Accompanying the unseasonable temperatures and the strange jumble of cuisine was the consumption of heartier, denser wines that aren’t the usual selections for April and May. Michael and I actually found ourselves uncorking red wines from Bordeaux, Southern Rhone and Super Tuscany even as recently as last week. But the vibe I’m feeling now is that it’s all about to change, which is why I’ve also kept my finger on the pulse on the types of wines we would normally be drinking in the weeks leading up to Memorial Day. A trade tasting or two, a by-the-glass selection here and there, and frequent visits to DRIVEN’s strategic partner Suburban Wines & Spirits have kept me current on the brighter, leaner, mild-weather wines in the NY market.

Without further delay, I proudly offer you my springtime wine choices for 2016. Try one, try them all. Bring them to Memorial Day gatherings or give them as gifts. If you order them through Suburban, they can arrive at your NYC doorstep usually within 24 hours. Click on the wine names to purchase. And always remember: If you would like any additional wine recommendations, contact our resident vino maven Michael at michael@drivenpros.com. Happy Spring!

Avinyó Petillant Vi D’Agulla ’15, Penedes, Spain ($12)

It’s the most fun and delightful wine category you’ve never heard of. “Pet Nats” or PetillantAvinyo Naturel wines are mildly-sparkling white wines that are made in a less complicated manner than Cava or Champagne. The wine is bottled and capped before the fermentation is complete, allowing the last traces of sugar and yeast to interact in the bottle. The result: a simple, dry, refreshing white with a tingle of fizz (rather than a rush of bubbles). Adding to the delight is watching the delicate strings of carbon dioxide as they wind through your glass!

Neumayer Gruner Veltliner Rafasetzen ’13, Traisental, Austria ($20)

Michael and I have been introducing people to Gruner Veltliner so often lately that it’s Neumayerbecoming cliché. But it’s no less compelling as a wine, especially when it’s as well-made and radiant as this single-vineyard example. Both powerful and detailed, it possesses everything I’d want in a springtime white: Density of texture; perky acidity; aromas of white pepper, mineral and grass; yellow fruit character on the palate; secondary notes of familiar favorites from the spice rack; a dry and lengthy finish. This Austrian is at once serious and accessible. Check it out!

Billsboro Rosé of Pinot Noir ’15, Finger Lakes, New York ($18)

On my most recent visit to Seneca Lake, the winery discovery of my trip was Billsboro, Billsborolocated just south of Geneva. Their wines stood out amongst even the best of this rising star region, adding to the momentum that quality NYS wine has been enjoying in the local market. Their Rosé of Pinot Noir is the perfect response to the French model for this type of rosé, including those from Sancerre and Burgundy. It’s dry, subtle, and gentle in its delivery of raspberry-like fruit. And with a mere 154 cases produced for the ’15 vintage, we’re lucky to get our hands on some without making the 6-hour drive to the winery. A most versatile food wine.

Douloufakis Liatiko Dafnios ’13, Crete, Greece ($12)

The forever-overlooked wine-growing nation of Greece is finally emerging as a major Dafniosplayer in the vino market. A perfect example of what they’re doing right is this serious, affordable red from Crete. This is my very first exposure to the indigenous Liatiko grape, and I have since tried one or two other examples for comparison. It’s for lovers of wines like real cru Beaujolais (not that crummy stuff that you buy around Thanksgiving time), sporting a medium body, ripe red fruit, and pleasantly distinctive aromatic notes of dried flowers and baking spice. It’s my find of the year, to date!

Manoir de la Tete Rouge K Sa Tête Pineau d’Aunis ’14, Loire, France ($24)

Aside from being special, there are two aspects of this red that make it unusual: It’s grown Pineauin the Saumur commune of France’s Loire Valley, which is a little-known area to most American wine drinkers, and it’s composed of the Pineau d’Aunis grape variety, which is more commonly encountered as a rosé. This red is soft and chill-able, yet is uncompromising in complexity and character (dig the pine forest-like aromas). The vineyards have been organic since 1998, and the purity shows through in your glass. Great for chops on the grill.

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Like A Big Pizza Pie: A Chance Recipe That Stole The Show

IMG_4590Who doesn’t like pizza? Well, there might be somebody out there who doesn’t. But in assuming this comfort food classic is universally beloved, I’m sure you’re all familiar with its various incarnations. When you consider preparing homemade pizza, the strategy is in your hands, and the possibilities are virtually limitless. Want pineapples or anchovies on that pie? Go for it. Prefer a Parisian-style over the definitive Italian? You’re speakin’ my language. Satisfied with traditional Neapolitan pizza without fancy toppings? It’s a free country!

I enjoy creating completely new pizza topping combinations every time I prepare homemade pizza. I call each example the “pizza mash-mish”, which typically amounts to a controlled chaos situation whereby leftovers find themselves mingling with other leftovers atop the pie. Over the years, these toppings have included prosciutto, green stuffed olives, and even duck confit! All of the pizzas usually end up tasting delicious, but some are so good that they just stick in your memory. Today’s recipe is one of those. Before preparing it, keep in mind that two of the toppings require their own separate preparation, and the links to those recipes are included below. You also might want to invest in a pizza stone and a cutter (Sur la Table is a great online source).

Follow the recipe closely, and before you know it, you’ll be eating exceptional, wonderfully-crusted pizza with minimal preparation time. But be warned: Pizzeria pizza might never again be good enough!

Goldie’s Standout Pizza Mash-Mish (Serves 2-3)

Ingredients:

IMG_4587

Before Baking

1 Fresh Pizza Dough
6 Thin Slices Genoa Salami, sliced further into thin strips
1 Large Roasted Red Pepper, sliced
2 oz Spinach Pesto
1 Cup Roasted Eggplant, Cubed
1 oz Reggiano, Coarsely-Grated
4 oz Fresh Mozzarella, Coarsely-Grated
Olive Oil or Bacon Drippings

Let dough come to room temperature and rise (I dust it with a bit of flour, put it on a plate and cover it with a kitchen towel). Put pizza stone into the oven and preheat to 400 F. Coat a sheet of aluminum foil with olive oil and place it atop a cutting board (bacon drippings are even better for flavor, so consider saving some the next time you fry bacon). Stretch the pizza dough evenly, by hand or with a rolling pin, and place it on the aluminum foil (note: the stretched dough does not have to be perfectly round). Brush the top of the dough lightly with olive oil or bacon drippings. Place sporadic dollops of pesto atop the dough, followed by the eggplant cubes, roasted pepper slices and salami. Top evenly with mozzarella and finally with Reggiano. Slide the dough (aluminum foil included) off of the cutting board and into the oven atop the pizza stone. If your oven has a convection option, switch to it now. Bake until dough is browned and cheese is melted (about 20 minutes). Remove pizza from oven and separate from aluminum foil, making sure no foil is stuck to the pizza’s bottom. Place pizza atop a cutting board, slice and serve hot. Pair with a fragrant, light-bodied Northern Italian red wine.

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What’s A Black Bean Soup Without The ‘Snout?

bbsHere’s an ingredient that I include in my recipes far too seldom: BBQ Sauce! Which makes little sense, since so many people love it, and since it can add depth and complexity to a wide range of recipes simply with the twist of a cap. In fact, my only reservations about barbecue sauces relate to their incompatibility with wine (sweetness, vinegar and spicy heat tend to be the big 3 enemies of wine on one’s palate). But who says there isn’t room for beautiful beer with a meal?

The following recipe is a favorite from my arsenal, which recently received a feisty makeover by simply adding a quantity of one special barbecue sauce. ThunderSnout is a newly-introduced small brand of artisanal BBQ sauce, invented and produced in my past home of Briarcliff Manor in Westchester County, NY. My old friend and colleague Michael Vincent, in cahoots with his long-time friend Dave Mundis, developed the recipe for this tangy, spicyts number, and took it all the way to the World BBQ Competition in Memphis, where it took 1st place in the vinegar-based BBQ sauce category! When I finally got my paws on a bottle of ThunderSnout and sampled it, my culinary wheels immediately began turning. With this, I give you the recipe for my BBQ Black Bean Soup. To recreate it yourself, and to blow the minds of your guests this spring with the likes of BBQ’d pork shoulder or spare ribs, acquire a bottle or a case of ThunderSnout Original BBQ Sauce by visiting the official ThunderShout website. Additionally, see my past recipe for Goldie’s Cole Slaw, and transform it into a feisty slaw by adding a few dashes of ThunderSnout. Happy cooking!

Goldie’s BBQ Black Bean Soup

1lb black beans, soaked overnight in 6 cups cold water
3 strips of bacon, chopped
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 jalapeños, chopped
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1 Tbsp ginger, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 chipotle peppers, seeded and chopped
4 oz ThunderSnout BBQ Sauce
1 cup dry red wine
6 cups water
2 bay leaves
2 kaffir lime leaves
2 Tbsp freshly-squeezed lime juice

Add olive oil and bacon to a soup pot on medium heat. When the bacon begins to crisp, pour off all but 2 Tbsp fat. Add onion and carrots. Incorporate thoroughly. Lower heat and cover the pot to let vegetables sweat for about 5 minutes. Remove lid, raise heat to medium. Add peppers, ginger, and garlic. When the garlic becomes fragrant, add chipotle and ThunderSnout BBQ Sauce. Incorporate well. Add red wine and let about 1/2 of it evaporate. Add water, bay leaves and Kaffir lime leaves. Bring to a boil, then simmer until beans are tender (about 2-2½ hours). This timing varies greatly depending on the freshness of the beans. Season to taste with salt & pepper (get creative. For instance, use ½ kosher salt and ½ smoked salt, plus ground Szechwan peppercorns). Add lime juice. Take half of the soup and puree in a kitchen aide or with a hand mixer. Add the ‘whole bean’ portion back into the soup and serve. For additional decadence, garnish with sliced ripe avocado and a dollop of sour cream! Pair with a dramatic, dense porter.

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Goldie’s Kitchen Archives: A Spanish-Influenced Dish That Will Spoil Your Palate Forever!

IMG_4509With the rise of tapas and other Spanish-inspired cuisine in the U.S. since 2000, many restaurants that focus on these delicacies have opened their doors in NYC and other North American urban centers. For a while, Michael and I were on a tear, trying to patronize as many different tapas restaurants as we could. For me, it was trying to gain a full understanding of Spanish food; For Michael, it was the desire to recreate the superb dining experiences he had while visiting Spain in ’04 and again in ’05. Then, about 5 or 6 years ago, I began to regularly prepare an improvised version of a classic southern Spanish recipe that combined chickpeas, baby spinach, Sherry, and the only Spanish chorizo sausage available in the U.S. at the time (cured and rather commercial in quality). The dish always came out good, but never great, and I eventually forgot about it.

Then recently, when visiting my new favorite Hudson Valley butcher shop, I acquired a few pounds of their house-made, uncured, uncooked pork chorizo with the expectation that I would add it to my potato & leek soup or create some sort of a fusion-ized pasta dish with it. But immediately upon unwrapping my bounty, that old chickpea recipe raced back into my brain after more than 4 years of dormancy. The goal was to recreate it….the right way.

As soon as I smelled the paprika-derived aromas wafting from the crumbled chorizo as it simmered in a pan, I knew the magic could finally be achieved. I wove in the other ingredients, did a little further improvisation, and within minutes the most exceptional Spanish-influenced meal I’ve ever created was on the table! I highly recommend creating it for yourself. See my recipe below, which includes the aforementioned house-made chorizo from Marbled Meat Shop. The next time you plan to be near Cold Spring, NY, reach out to Chris & Lisa to reserve your batch. Salud!

Chickpeas with Chorizo and Spinach
15 minutes. Main-course for 2 hungry people, or 6 to 8 small-plate servings.

2 Tbsp olive oil
10 oz Marbled Meat Shop chorizo (in bulk, not link form)
2 cloves garlic, minced
15-oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
¼ cup Spanish Fino Sherry
10 oz baby spinach (or regular spinach, chopped)
1 Tbsp lemon juice
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium flame. Add oil. When it starts to shimmer, crumble and add chorizo. Cook through, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 45 seconds. Add chickpeas, paprika and Sherry. Stir to coat chickpeas with oil and paprika (the most wonderful aromas will fill the kitchen at this point), and cook until chickpeas are just heated through, stirring frequently, about 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add spinach (in batches, if necessary), tossing to coat wilt. When the spinach is just wilted, remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice and zest. Serve immediately or let cool to room temperature to serve. For a twist, try it over jasmine rice, and pair it with either a dry Cava or a world-class Palo Cortado-style Sherry.

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Humanely Healthy: How To Be Sure Your Meats Are Raised With Integrity

Whether you’ll be hosting a holiday dinner this December, or creating a special side dish to bring when you attend someone else’s holiday gathering, you’ll certainly want to be proud of the food you prepare. This means using the very best quality ingredients, getting creative with your recipe, and paying close attention to detail in the kitchen. And if it’s meat that will be at the center of your culinary creation, it can be your opportunity to demonstrate integrity by choosing cuts with humane and sustainable origins. It shows responsibility for the once thriving farm animal in question, as well as for the health of the hungry folks at your dinner table.

In an age when commercially raised meats are quickly degrading in quality and health benefits, and the welfare of livestock is plummeting due to factory farming, the progressively-minded consumer thankfully has other options in procuring their own various vittles. In fact, one of the only obstacles we’ll encounter in the meat marketplace is clever packaging and the precarious use of misleading, unregulated food marketing terms. Staying in the know about which meats are organic, grass-fed, antibiotic-free, hormone-free, GMO-free, sustainably-farmed, free-range, humanely raised, locally raised, or all of the above is simpler than you might think, particularly if you can trust your butcher and their sources. But an even more secure approach is to recognize and understand the practices and certification logos associated with meeting the legal requirements.

I have written in the past about the various reasons for being highly selective when it comes to the modern meats we feed our families and ourselves. Allow me to offer you a little supplement to those musings by helping you identify the most thorough and responsible organizations behind today’s humanely raised meats. This will be followed by a short directory of the local purveyors I’m particularly fond of.

AWA (Animal Welfare Approved)AWA

I first became aware of the AWA label when dining at a progressive Hudson Valley restaurant in 2011. They source almost all of their animal proteins from their own AWA-approved farm, and proudly display the AWA brochure at each table. This certification requires the participating independent farms to employ the highest animal welfare standards. This includes providing a stress-free, pasture-based lifestyle for their livestock, and utilizing high-welfare slaughter practices. As a consumer of their certified products, you can rest assured that the animals were raised humanely, that the farming environments remain ecologically sustainable, and that the meat itself is antibiotic and hormone-free. Besides being of high moral standards, this project also translates into a tastier end-product for us, the consumers. The logo is uniquely recognizable, simplifying your shopping experience. Additionally, the AWA website features a searchable directory of participating retailers, farms and restaurants in your vicinity.

CHRHCertified Humane Raised & Handled ®

The Humane Farm Animal Care (HFAC) is an international non-profit certification organization that was established to improve the lives and lifestyles of livestock raised for food in a careful manner beginning at birth and maintained right through the moment of slaughter. Built into the program’s objective is the increasing of consumer demand for responsible farm animal practices. When you see a product with the Certified Humane Raised and Handled® label, you can be certain that the animal was raised cage and crate-free, allowing it to exhibit the natural behaviors instinctive in its species. Additionally, its feed was free of antibiotics, growth hormones and animal by-products. Particularly tough standards (created by a well-informed, international scientific committee) must be met by the participating farms, and periodic audits are performed. The products are widely available in the US, and the Certified Humane website also has a useful directory of purveyors searchable by zip code.

The Farmer’s PledgeTFP

The Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York (NOFA-NY) was established to help New York State consumers identify and locate responsible local farms before spending their food dollars. The Farmers Pledge is signed and adhered to by participating farms, and demands of them sustainable practices and humane treatment of animals, in addition to fair working conditions and wages. 100 farms in greater New York have committed to these principles, earning them permission to display The Farmer’s Pledge logo on their products and websites. It’s good news for the livestock, for the local economies, and for deliciousness on our holiday plates! And surprise, surprise: they have a directory too!

Some Favorite Local Sources

As a resident of the middle Hudson Valley, many of my humanely-raised meat sources are about a 1-hour car ride away from NYC. If you find yourself venturing through the region, be sure to patronize any of the following. It will be well worth the time investment:

Marbled Meat Shop

3091 Route 9, Cold Spring, NY

Independently-owned butcher shop featuring exceptional non-GMO, hormone and antibiotic-free meats sourced from small, humane, family-owned New York farms, including Glynwood in Cold Spring. Friendly service with expertise.

Hemlock Hill Farm

500 Croton Avenue, Cortlandt Manor, NY

Family-owned, Farmer’s Pledge-adhering farm established 70 years ago. Raises exceptional meats and produce, and has a charming retail outlet. The most flavorful turkey I’ve ever served was purchased right from them!

GRZNGrazin’

717 Warren Street, Hudson, NY

This is the progressive, AWA-involved restaurant I mentioned above. It’s a luncheonette-style burger joint that takes the concept of burgers to new heights. You have to experience it to believe it! And great news: as of 2015, there is a new location in Tribeca at 56 Reade Street.

 

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Thanksgiving, The Morning After: Several More Recipes From Common Scents

If there’s one new concept that DRIVEN’s guests hopefully came away with following this month’s Common Scents wine and food tasting event, hosted by the accommodating folks at GLG, it’s that the recipes I prepared are as multi-functional as they are “tweak-able”. It’s safe to say that they are all my own interpretations on established classics, deliberately improvised in order to pair well with the aromatic wines Michael and I selected. With this in mind, everyone is now free to improvise further to suit their own dining setting. Consider the wines you’d like to serve, or course, but also consider your preferences and those of your guests.

One fun seasonal idea involves my Common Scents recipes for the Beet Salad with “Yiddish” Tzatziki, and the Goat Cheese & Kale Pesto Turnovers. Think about the day after Thanksgiving, when everyone’s had their fill of the Thanksgiving dinner usual suspects. What if you could replace those cold turkey sandwiches with these delicious snacks by preparing them days in advance? The salad and tzatziki hold well in the fridge, while the turnovers could even be frozen soon after they’re prepared. See my recipes below, and turn your Thanksgiving into an extended culinary treat. Friday brunch is served!

Autumn Beet Salad

4 tsp olive oil
6 beets, peeled and cut into ½ inch cubes
1 medium eggplant, sliced into 1 inch disks
½ medium Honey Crisp apple, cut into 1/8 inch cubes
1 cup dill, chopped
½ cup sprouted pecans (regular pecans can be substituted)
smoked salt (optional)
salt and pepper

Line a 13×9 inch baking pan with aluminum foil. Toss beets with half of the olive oil, salt IMG_4250and pepper and put beets into the pan. Top pan with another piece of foil. Bake at 375 degrees until beets are firm but tender, about 45 minutes (be careful when you check beets for tenderness. Steam builds up under that foil).

Meanwhile, salt the eggplant. Turn a barbecue grill onto high. Pat eggplant slices dry with a paper towel or clean kitchen towel and brush with the other half of the olive oil. Grill eggplant (with cover down) on high about 2 minutes a side. They should be well marked. Cool and cube eggplant. Toss with beets, apples and dill. Combine well, season with salt and pepper (smoked salt if desired). Stir in pecans before serving.

Serve with “Yiddish Tzatziki”

1 ½ cups dill, chopped
zest of one lemon (remember to wash that lemon before zesting)
1 Tbsp horseradish
1 tsp capers, rinsed and minced
1 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
a shake of pepper flakes
2 cups Greek style yogurt

Combine all ingredients except yogurt. Then stir in yogurt.

Goat Cheese and Kale Pesto Turnovers

1 package phyllo dough
4 Tbsp butter, melted
5 oz goat cheese, brought to room temperature
4 oz kale pesto (recipe below)

IMG_4019Working with 3 phyllo sheets at a time, brush each of them lightly with melted butter. Put them one on top of another. Cut them (short way) into 6 ‘columns’. At the bottom of each column, put on ½ tsp pesto and 1 tsp goat cheese. Form triangles, brush the tops with butter. Repeat until phyllo is finished (link HERE for a demo of how to make the triangles). Place on cookie sheets that are brushed with a little melted butter, and bake in 375 degree oven for 12 minutes (until they’re flaky and golden brown). Turn baking pans after 6 min. Triangles can be served either warm or at room temperature.

Preparing The Kale Pesto

1 oz parmesan cheese, grated
1 oz pecans (I like sprouted)
a shake of hot pepper flakes
4 cloves roasted garlicIMG_4058
salt and pepper
4 cups kale, chopped
2 Tbsp olive oil

Combine first 5 ingredients into a food processor and combine well. Add kale and with food processor on, drizzle in olive oil.

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Common Scents, Uncommon Flavors: 2 Recipes From DRIVEN’s November Wine Seminar

Sweet Potato RecipeOne would assume that during a wine tasting class, it’s all about the wine. But when DRIVEN creates a wine class, the food and the wine share equal space at center-stage. November 15th’s Common Scents wine event at GLG was no exception, and the proof was in our glasses and on our plates.

One attendee asked Michael a most inquisitive question during the event, and I’m so glad she did: “Were the recipes designed to match the wines, or were the wines chosen to compliment the recipes?”. As it turns out, the former is true, as it typically is for our wine events. The process of creating the seminar takes more than a month, due mainly to the grueling but delicious method by which we narrow the field of wines down to the final six. In the case of Common Scents, the focus was on wine aroma. Thus, the approach was to choose wines that historically have telltale aromatic notes which can be reproduced by presenting the herb or spice or other organic material known to possess that same aroma. Some wines fail to deliver, others pass with flying colors. Then we just need a little regional diversity, and voila….the 6 wines are chosen!IMG_4018

The food recipes then begin to fall into place, originating with the arsenal of gastronomic ideas that I keep filed away in my brain from decades of trial and success. I consider the aromas, the flavors and the overall weight of the wines when composing the recipes, and on the day of the event, my “test kitchen” is employed. For instance, the two recipes provided below….a Sweet Potato, Black Bean & Red Pepper Salad with its gourmet complementary Jalapeño Cilantro Relish, were designed to pair with a flashy, off-dry Gewurztraminer (and I think we nailed it!). Think of it as a mashed sweet potato spicy alternative, and try it at home.

Many thanks go out to all who attended our Common Scents event, and to GLG for generously hosting us. Bon Appétit!

Sweet Potato, Black Bean and Red Pepper Salad

1 Tbsp olive oil
2 jalapeños minced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 red pepper, diced
2 medium-sized sweet potatoes, peeled and shredded
1 can black beans, well rinsed
6 oz cilantro relish (recipe below)

Heat oil in a large fry pan. Add jalapeños and garlic. Add red pepper after a minute (when you first smell the garlic). Sautee about 4 minutes. Add sweet potatoes and combine well. Add black beans and season with salt and pepper. Add cilantro relish. Combine well and enjoy either warm or at room temperature.

IMG_4049Cilantro Relish

1 large bunch cilantro, cleaned and large stems discarded
The juice of 1 fresh lime (2 oz)
4 cloves roasted garlic
1 large jalapeño, chopped
2 ½ Tbsp olive oil

Combine all ingredients except olive oil in a food processor. Drizzle in oil and continue processing until a paste is created. Add to Sweet Potato Salad as directed above.

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Gougeres! Another Delicious Reason To Subscribe To MARY’s Secret Ingredients

MARY’s Secret IngredientsTM is easily my favorite subscription box service. You may have noticed me raving about it in the past on DRIVEN’s blog page. Created by Mary Pisarkiewicz, author of the internationally recognized food blog LOVE – The Secret Ingredient, this seasonal, limited-edition subscription box service is one of a kind, featuring a curated selection of Mary’s favorite food and kitchen products, (always full-sized, never samples), delivered straight to your door. With each seasonal box, MARY’s Secret IngredientsTM seeks to help new and unique food companies sample their products to foodies like us directly, as well as inspire and encourage home cooks of every experience level to prepare simple and healthy meals. In the process, Mary and her team donate a portion of the annual proceeds to Feed The Children and their fight to eradicate hunger.

MARY’s Fall 2015 box, for instance (currently sold out), was packed with useful and MARY's Fall 2015artisanal goodies, all of which have been put to good use in my home kitchen. The “sleeper” product in the box was a container of Ultragrain brand all-purpose flour made from a natural whole-grain blend, which sports 30% better nutrition than white flour (fiber, my friends!). It can directly replace white flour in your recipes without sacrificing flavor or functionality. I took it for a test drive by using it to bake one of my favorite things all-purpose-pkgon the planet: delicious Gougeres! The result was profound, and when served to 10 guests, these little suckers disappeared in minutes, and with no shortage of compliments. Try it yourself by acquiring a container of Ultragrain and following the recipe below. When your mind is blown, consider signing up to receive the upcoming MARY’s 2015 Winter Box, or subscribe to an entire year of boxes with surprise contents….Remember, it’s an easy and unique gift idea! Bon Appétit!

Goldie’s Gougeres (Yields Two Dozen)

½ cup water
½ cup milk
½ cup unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
½ tsp coarse salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 to 5 large eggs
3 ½ oz (1 cup) coarsely grated Gruyere (or other hard cheese), plus more for sprinkling
pinch of pepper & nutmeg

Meet Mary.

Meet Mary.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly grease 2 baking sheets or line with parchment paper. In a heavy saucepan, bring water to a boil with butter and salt over high heat and reduce heat to moderate. Add flour all at once and beat with a wooden spoon until mixture pulls away from side of pan. Transfer mixture to a bowl, and let cool one minute. Beat in 4 eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Batter should be stiff enough to just hold soft peaks and fall softly from a spoon. If batter is too stiff, in a small bowl beat remaining egg lightly and add to batter a little at a time, beating on high speed until batter is desired consistency. Stir Gruyere into pate a choux and arrange level tablespoons about 1-inch apart on baking sheets. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake in upper and lower thirds of oven, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, 22 minutes, or until puffed, golden and crisp. Serve warm, and pair with a lovely sparkling wine.

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Savor The Season: Try My Autumn Risotto Recipe

IMG_4120As the sun grows lazier, and we enter the thick of autumn, many of us begin to think about food from a different angle. Those local tomatoes are still rolling into the market, and the eggplant is still shouting out “summer”, but our palates are craving cuisine that feels somewhat heartier than what we’ve been enjoying in recent months. Well, this is the perfect opportunity to combine those late-summer elements with a little classic decadence by applying some seasonal fusion in the kitchen. This year, I’m thinkin’ Risotto! (No surprise).

Just when your house or apartment begins to feel a tad chilly, create this rich and delicious seasonal risotto. It will add a few degrees to your home, a little autumn color to your table, and some comforting flavors & textures to your palate. And don’t forget to see my wine pairing recommendations below. Ahh, savor the autumn goodness!

Eggplant, Tomato & Blue Cheese Risotto (Serves 2)

1 medium-sized eggplant
2 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 cup Arborio rice
2 oz dry vermouth
3 ½ cups organic chicken stock*
1 quart bi or tri-colored cherry tomatoes, halved.
2 oz parmesan cheese, finely grated
4 oz blue cheese**, crumbled or cut into small pieces.
Salt & Pepper

Slice eggplant into 1-inch cubes by slicing widthwise and then length wise (leave the skin IMG_4119on, ideally). Put cubes into a pre-greased roasting or baking pan (dip a paper towel into olive oil coat entire bottom and sides of baking pan). Cover the pan with foil and roast eggplant in a 350 degree oven for about 25 minutes, until tender. Be careful when you remove foil, as the release of steam can give you a burn.

Heat butter & olive oil in a saucepan on medium until hot. Meanwhile, heat chicken stock to a simmer in a separate pot. Add onions to butter & olive oil and sauté until the onions are translucent. Add rice, incorporate thoroughly and cook for a couple of minutes. Add vermouth and let cook off until the rice is almost dry. Add chicken stock one cup at a time and stir quite often. Add the next cup of stock when the first addition is almost absorbed. Add the third cup of stock along with the tomatoes. Add the eggplant to the risotto after the fourth addition of stock is half absorbed. Add parmesan cheese and blue cheese. Season with salt and pepper.

*Standard risotto recipes call for 4 cups stock to 1 cup Arborio rice. My recipe calls for less stock due to the juice yielded by the tomatoes.

**My favorite type of blue cheese to incorporate is Cambozola Black Label, which can be acquired from specialty cheese shops like Murray’s. If you’ve never tried it, prepare to be amazed!

Wine Pairings Made Easy

This is a fun recipe for wine, as you can take your selections in a few directions. My favorite approach is to have a white and a red side-by-side. For whites, consider something full-bodied and creamy, but with ample acidity, like this substantial Alsace Pinot Blanc or Spanish Godello. For reds, try something fleshy as well, but with an earthy, woodsy personality to echo the aromas of autumn, like this rustic Southern Rhone or Tuscan Sangiovese.

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