Monday, March 2, 2015

Larue's Simple, Light Extraordinary Green Salad

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Larue's Simple, Light Extraordinary Green Salad 
Serves: 4

Larue's Simple, Light Extraordinary Green Salad

I have used this salad recipe often…well, very often. Every cook needs to have a “go-to” lettuce salad up his or her sleeves. This is that salad. It follows a heavy-ish first course, like a thick winter soup, and followed by protein – steak, ribs, or fish - you name it.  Are you looking for something light and fresh to serve in between courses and to cleanse the palate and lighten the spirits? This salad should do the trick; it also makes for a good starter. You could, of course, add one (but just one…or it is no longer simple) item – such as sliced avocado.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Braised Country-Style Pork Ribs with Mango & Lime

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Braised Country-Style Pork Ribs with Mango & Lime
Serves: 4
Difficulty: Moderate
Braised Country-Style Pork Ribs with Mango & Lime
Mangoes are the starting point for this wonderful recipe – add a bit of lime and a dash of rum and we are out of February gloom and into a sunny mood. The additional tropical flavors of lime, chilies, ginger and coconut milk only seem natural. Take yourself to the Caribbean with this entrĂ©e.  As the mango cooks, it gives itself up entirely to the sauce, thickening it and contributing to a wonderful pale orange color. Serve with some Jasmine rice cooked in broth, chopped onion and a bit of coconut milk, add parsley for a bit of color and you have the perfect addition to sop up the sauce.
Key ingredients
Country-style pork ribs are relative newcomers to the meat case, promote the shoulder-blade section of the pork loin, and are not as lean as the pricier rib chops. Because they have the tougher, fattier character of the pork shoulder, they are best cooked slowly in any sort of braise. Shopping for them can be confusing, since they appear in a variety of shapes arising from the top end of the loin or bottom end of the shoulder.  For this recipe my favorites are cuts from the shoulder with bone in. They are never symmetrical so look for an even mix. 

Monday, February 16, 2015

Roasted Grape/Olive Crostini

Roasted Grape/Olive Crostini
Serves: 12 crostini
Difficulty: Easy
Roasted Grape/Olive Crostini 
When this recipe arrived in my email inbox (smittenkitchen.com), well, I jumped on it and made it that night (with my own minor modifications). Thank you Smitten Kitchen! I have repeated the recipe several times since. It is incredibly easy and so very different. You could likely use any combination of grapes and olives but I love the sweet red/purple grapes coupled with the briny kalamata olives. I only had rosemary growing in my garden for the first attempt but other herbs would work as well. In order to highlight the combined flavors of grapes and olives, I felt a relatively light and spreadable cheese best – hence ricotta. I also used whole milk ricotta…just because I wanted the creamy feel. Use low fat ricotta if you must.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Saffron Speckled Rice with Cranberries, Herbs & Pistachio

Saffron Speckled Rice with Cranberries, Herbs & Pistachio
Serves: 6
Difficulty: Easy
 
Saffron Speckled Rice with Cranberries, Herbs & Pistachio
This rice dish of the Persian Jewish community is a celebration dish often served at weddings. The original recipe included candied orange peel, sour cherries, cranberries and almonds.  I have modified somewhat and used cranberries.  You could also substitute sliced dried apricots, or even chopped dates if you want to emphasize sweetness. Another less sweet substitute would be currants soaked in a little lemon juice.  I absolutely love the technique to achieve the speckled nature of the rice. Instead of one solid white or yellow-orange rice – we are left with a speckled pattern – so pretty to see and taste!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Roasted Chicken with Clementine & Fennel

Roasted Chicken with Clementine & Fennel
Serves: 4
Difficulty: Moderate
Roasted Chicken with Clementine & Fennel
This is a wonderful Israeli dish adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s book, Jerusalem, and uses Arak, a popular anise-flavored liquor. I substituted Pernod, which is easier to find – but ouzo would work equally well. Clementines are a hybrid between a mandarin and a sweet orange and are readily available when in season. Like tangerines, they are an easy peel and usually seedless. They are typically juicy and sweet, with less acid than oranges.  One could easily substitute mandarin oranges in a pinch.
Fennel bulbs and clementines
I used whole chicken legs in this recipe. Bone-in chicken, like all meat cooked on the bone, will retain more of its flavorful juices. The skin protects the meat from drying out during braising, especially during the browning step. The layer of fat beneath the skin also adds richness and flavor to the dish. Because successful braising is all about the exchange of flavor between the braising liquid with the meat juices, the juicier the meat the better tasting the braise. Since thighs and drumsticks contain more fat and collagen than the white-meat breasts, they are tastier when braised.