Monday, December 15, 2014

Roast Chicken with Ricotta Stuffing, Marsala Sauce, served on Crisp Toast

Roast Chicken with Ricotta Stuffing, Marsala Sauce, served on Crisp Toast
Serves: 4
Difficulty Level: Gourmet
Roast Chicken with Ricotta Stuffing, Marsala Sauce, served on Crisp Toast
I love a great roast chicken. There are so very many variations available today. This one is quite unique. Tosca, one of top 10 restaurants in 2014 featured in Bon Appetit, serves this dish to admiring fans. It’s been 53 years since Tosca sealed off its kitchen, became only a bar, before reopening as a restaurant under the guidance of famed British chef April Bloomfield. While it does take some work, well, more work than just shoving the chicken into the oven, the results are transcendent from the drippings-soaked sourdough toasts to the glossy pan sauce. Roasting the chicken is pretty easy. The lemon and pine nuts in the ricotta stuffing are savory and a wonderful part of the sandwich – bread soaked in chicken drippings, ricotta stuffing, roast chicken and then all draped in the wonderful Marsala sauce. Don’t wait to try this one!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Green Salad with Apple Vinaigrette

Green Salad with Apple Vinaigrette
Serves: 2
Difficulty: Easy

Green Salad with Apple Vinaigrette

Are you looking for a different green salad that is light yet with a special something – in this case an apple-y, slightly sweet, vinaigrette?  This goes great with the brined smoked salmon posted last week – but also with pork and any fish. 

Monday, December 1, 2014

Brined & Smoked Salmon

Brined & Smoked Salmon
Serves: 2
Difficulty: Moderate
Plan ahead – overnight brine
Brined & Smoked Salmon
If you have never smoked fish – you are missing quite the taste treat.  Many grocers are now offering smoked fish, but it is easy and so much better if you do it yourself. There are a myriad of methods and foods to smoke– fish, meat, cheese, and vegetables – multiple opportunities to test your skills and enjoy the results. I have a stovetop smoker made by Cameron. But you can also use a BBQ, electric smokers or modify some foil pans for use on the stove or BBQ.  Give it a try – you will be happy you did! 
Stovetop smoker--don't forget to turn on the fan when you are done!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Avocado and Grapefruit Salad

Avocado and Grapefruit Salad

Serves: 4-6
Difficulty: Easy
Avocado and Grapefruit Salad 
I know, it sounds so weird…but really, intriguing. Right? I thought so…and especially terrific in the winter when the pink grapefruit are at their prime. I'm releasing this recipe right around Thanksgiving and just know you are feeling oh so tummy happy but a bit guilty too.  This should keep the tum so happy but really lessen the guilt. It is so very simple and clean - wonderful palate cleanser between courses. The hardest part is releasing the grapefruit segments. For that, there is Larue to the rescue with instructions and pictures!
The stars of the show! Unlikely pairing, but very tasty.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Roasted Fingerling Potatoes with Caviar & Crème Fraiche


Roasted Fingerling Potatoes with Caviar & Crème Fraiche 
Serves 8-10
Difficulty: Easy
Roasted Fingerling Potatoes with Caviar & Crème Fraiche 
Presentation of Roasted Fingerling Potatoes with Caviar & Crème Fraiche  
This is a great appetizer or a side dish. It is really a go-to dish for most any occasion.  Easy to make, even easier to eat – and always to rave reviews. Fingerling potatoes are small, stubby, slightly knobby, finger-shaped type of potato which may be any heritage potato cultivars. They grow naturally small and narrow. Some people confuse this family with new potatoes, which are young potatoes harvested before they fully mature. Just as is the case with regular potatoes, fingerling farmers (love that name!) allow the green upper portion of the plant to die back before harvesting the tubers. When selecting fingerlings in the store, shoppers should look for specimens without obvious soft spots or mold. The unusual looking, flavorful potatoes can be used just like regular potatoes in an assortment of roasted, broiled, baked, grilled, or boiled dishes. They have a nutty, buttery, earthy taste. If you have not had them before, you are in for a treat!
Fingerling potatoes

Monday, November 10, 2014

Roasted Fennel with Olives & Garlic

Roasted Fennel with Olives & Garlic
Serves: 8
Difficulty: Easy
 
Roasted Fennel with Olives & Garlic
Like so many vegetables, fennel is another that only improves with roasting. This recipe takes almost no time to prepare; yet the overall effect is complex. I have made this about a half dozen times. Preparation is minimal and the results are incredible. Elegant enough for a dinner party but perfect anytime. It is a perfect Thanksgiving side dish. The flavors are superb. Even better the next day......if you are lucky enough to have any left over. Fennel's unique aromatic taste is reminiscent of licorice and anise, especially in the raw state. However, roasting the fennel totally changes the taste, nothing at all like licorice. Once cooked, it becomes very sweet….surprisingly so.
Fresh fennel

Monday, November 3, 2014

Persian Green Herb, Chicken & Bean Stew (Ghormeh Sabzi)

Persian Green Herb, Chicken & Bean Stew (Ghormeh Sabzi)
Includes Vegetarian options
Serves: 4
Difficulty: Moderate
Persian Green Herb, Chicken & Bean Stew (Ghormeh Sabzi) 

This green stew studded with beans is one of the most famous in Persian cuisine. It can be made with chicken, lamb, beef or works surprisingly well with tofu which is frozen, thawed and baked to give it a meaty texture. The bulk of the stew is, indeed, chopped parsley, cilantro, spinach and scallions, and the mixture is delicious. The grassy greens cook down and mellow, turning into a fragrant, earthy mélange served alone or atop fluffy rice or stuffed into a pita. It might not be your first inclination to cook down a huge pile of chopped herbs, but the gentle slow heat works magic on the greenery transforming them into flavorful spoonful with each bite. I used Rancho Gordo red beans once again – making them from their dried form. However one could use canned, rinsed kidney or red beans if time does not allow use of heritage beans. Once again, we can use our dried limes for the citrusy boost often found in Persian cooking. If you cannot find dried limes, you can add several strips of lime zest to the stew.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Grilled Broccoli with Chipotle-Lime Butter



Grilled Broccoli with Chipotle-Lime Butter

Serves: 8
Difficulty: Easy
Grilled Broccoli with Chipotle-Lime Butter

It should come as no surprise that any vegetable is better when roasted. If you have never tried grilling broccoli, you are missing out on a treat. My wonderful hubby never eats his broccoli. I mean push-it-around-on-a-plate-never. He had three – and I mean THREE!! helpings when I served this.  Try it immediately on your nearest broccoli hater. The vegetable chars, becomes tender and smoky at the same time. Tossing the warmed broccoli with lime butter, honey and chipotle Tabasco…just sublime.
  • 6 Tb unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 lime – remove all zest & chop, save juice
  • 1 Tb Tabasco Chipotle Sauce
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 large garlic clove, finely grated
  • Kosher salt
  • 4 heads of broccoli, stems trimmed, cut into large florets
  • Olive oil for drizzling
  • 1 C crumbled queso fresco, or farmers’ cheese

In a bowl, stir the softened butter with lime zest, lime juice, Tabasco, honey and garlic. Season lightly with kosher salt.  Keep at room temperature if using soon. It can be made ahead, refrigerated overnight, and soften at room temperature before using.
 
Broccoli and seasoning
Light a grill. Preheat. Drizzle broccoli florets with olive oil and season with salt. Grill over moderately high heat, turning the florets occasionally, until crisp-tender and lightly charred, about 8 minutes.
 
On the grill. Note the gizmo to keep broccoli from falling through the cracks.
Transfer broccoli to a platter and toss with lime butter. Garnish with queso fresco, a light dash of olive oil, and serve.

Give this a try soon….you and others will love it.

Larue

Monday, October 20, 2014

The perfect steak redux!


For comments, please post below or email to cookingwithlarue@gmail.com
The perfect steak redux!
Difficulty: Easy
The Perfect Steak
I posted this a couple years ago, but wanted to redo it with better pics. The recipe is about the same, but this time the pics will make your mouth water!!

There are many ways to cook a steak but I have found this particular method perfect every single time and with spectacular flavor.  Trust me on this one and you will not be disappointed.  I have over and under cooked too many steaks on the barbeque – it is simply impossible to control all the variables. You will not lose any of the spectacular beef flavor if you carefully follow these simple steps. The combination of an excellent sear followed by a brief visit to a hot oven and a rest before serving creates the most consistently GREAT steak…each and every time. I have used this method for New York strip steaks, rib-eyes, filet mignon, top sirloin and porterhouse…anywhere from a 1 ½ ” thickness to 2 ½” thick bone-in porterhouse steaks. 

  • Steak - cut of your choosing - Rib-eye is featured
  • Seasonings per your taste:
  • Smoked Salt, 
  • Penzey's Krakow nights
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tsp canola or grapeseed oil
  • 1/2 - 1 Tb butter/per steak

The first critical step to the perfect steak begins at the grocery store with the best product you can get.  Our favorite cut is the rib eye from Meyer Beef. (http://meyernaturalangus.com) It is hormone/antibiotic free, grass-fed vegetarian diet-fed Angus beef.  It is widely available at “natural” grocers as well as online.  However, any similar raised quality beef will work just as well.

To be honest, I have tried numerous rubs and seasonings and love many of them.  But when we splurge on a truly superior piece of meat – it really needs very little. The flavor is in the beef.  To get the perfect steak, begin cooking after it reaches room temperature. If the outside of the steak is room temp and inside cold – it will not cook evenly. Take them out of the refrigerator about 2 hours prior to cooking!

Pat the steak dry with paper towels – all over.  Our favorite seasoning is a bourbon smoked sea salt and Penzey’s Krakow nights blend*. Odds are good you don’t have these sitting around your pantry – but any coarse kosher salt and freshly ground pepper will work.  Or, leave me a note in the comment section and I’ll share some of our favorite steak rubs.  Generously salt and pepper both sides of each steak.
Ribeye with spices. This works with NY strip, filet, or top sirloin, too.
Heat oven to 400 degree F (450 degree F, if a single large steak). It MUST be at 400 F before the steaks are cooked so be certain to turn your oven on well in advance of beginning to sear on the stove top.
Added to a VERY HOT cast-iron pan
Heat a HEAVY cast-iron or stainless steel ovenproof pan over med-hi heat until a few drops of water sprinkled in the pan evaporate within 3 seconds. THEN, after the pan is sufficiently hot – coat the bottom of the pan with about 2 tsp grapeseed or canola oil.  This is important – follow the rule of “hot pan, cold oil = no stick”.  Why? The metal of the pan is full of pores that expand when heated and allows the oil to settle in those pores. If you add oil to cold pan the surface tension of the oil is so great that it will "pool" and rest on top of those pores, when you add meat, it’s weight will push the food product into the grain which is not lubricated and your food will stick.

The oil will heat quickly in the hot pan – look carefully, it should shimmer. Now add your rib-eye steaks to the pan. DO NOT MOVE THE STEAK!! Let it create the sear.  Regardless of thickness of your steak, it should sear for 2 minutes on each side, flipping only once with tongs.  (See, it did not stick!)
Seared steak
Transfer the steaks, STILL IN THE PAN, into the 400 degree F oven. Roast for 9 minutes; up to 14 minutes for a larger piece for medium-rare (insta-read thermometer of 120-130 degree F). Remove from the oven and place on a cutting board.  Immediately place about ½-1 Tb room temperature pat of butter on each steak and cover lightly with foil for 5 minutes. DON’T SKIP THIS IMPORTANT STEP!

OMG...don't forget the butter!
 This resting period is probably the most important part of making the perfect steak.  The meat continues to cook during this period – and the internal temperature will rise about 5-10 degrees. The “rest” also allows time for the juices equilibrate. While the steak cooked – the juices within the steak move to center – as it cools, it allows the same juices to move throughout the steak. If you cut into the steak prematurely, those same juices would just run out onto your cutting board. Don’t skip the butter either – you are eating a steak, a ½ Tb butter will not really increase the caloric intake but will add greatly to the flavor and “mouth-feel” of your finished product.

Once the “rest” has concluded – it is time to serve!  OMG – so, so very good.  It truly needs no adornments. Just serve with a wonderful California Zinfandel or Cabernet Sauvignon, some french fries and a green salad (or maybe an iceberg lettuce/bleu cheese dressing/bacon salad).  It will be the best meal of the year for the hungry carnivore!

Bon Appetit!  Larue

* Penzey’s Krakow Nights:  a Polish style seasoning with salt, pepper, coriander, garlic, mustard, marjoram, savory, sugar and mace.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Grilled Romaine, Mint Vinaigrette & Halloumi cheese

For comments, please post below or email to cookingwithlarue@gmail.com

Grilled Romaine, Mint Vinaigrette & Halloumi cheese
Serves 4
Difficulty: Easy
Grilled Romaine, Mint Vinaigrette & Halloumi cheese
Yes, you can grill lettuce! Romaine is both sturdy enough and flavorful enough to stand up to the heat and char of the grill. Something magical happens when you cook lettuce, especially when it just starts to wilt – the edges become silky smooth, the leaves become a little bit sweeter, the core a little bit crunchier and overall, it just gets a whole lot tastier. The flavor of grilled romaine is hard to describe. It is smokey and charred but still crunchy. If its pouring rain, hail, snow or whatever is keeping you indoors – you could give a go and sauté in a hot cast iron pan. One with ridges would even give the grill marks! I use bagged hearts of romaine for a few reasons. They are the perfect size with little waste, they are ready to use upon purchase and they are not slogged down with water like whole heads of lettuce usually are.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Roasted Brussels sprouts Salad with Cranberries & Pecans

Roasted Brussels sprouts Salad with Cranberries & Pecans
Serves: 4
Difficulty Level: Easy
 
Roasted Brussels sprouts Salad with Cranberries & Pecans
Are you looking for a salad with a little something different?  This could be it. Personally, I love Brussels sprouts – raw or roasted.  But if someone in your household is less excited by eating these baby cabbages – roasting them may be the answer. Like so many vegetables, roasting brings out the toasted sweeter flavor. Couple that with cranberries, nuts and vinaigrette and you have a divine flavor combination and great side course or entrée. Brussels sprouts might just be the rising stars of the vegetable patch. These once-reviled cruciferous vegetables – cousins to cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and kale – are increasingly ubiquitous on restaurant menus and at farmers markets. The flavorless boiled version is now most likely to be served roasted, fried or even raw and shaved into a salad. Perhaps best of all, Brussels sprouts are nutritional powerhouses, loaded with vitamins, cholesterol-reducing fiber, folate and antioxidants.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Minestrone Soup with Cranberry Beans & Arugula Pesto

Minestrone Soup with Cranberry Beans & Arugula Pesto
 Serves: 6
Difficulty level: Gourmet
 
Minestrone Soup with Cranberry Beans & Arugula Pesto
Minestrone Soup is the best vegetable soup ever! Really it is. It’s jam-packed with goodness and will do anyone who eats it the world of good. It's a great way to make the most of seasonal produce – vary your choices throughout the year. Make a big batch of soup, even if you’re only cooking for yourself – you can keep the rest in the fridge for several days or freeze portions to eat another day. The additional beans give it quite the protein boost, making it a meal in itself.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Salt and Vinegar Potatoes

Salt and Vinegar Potatoes
Serves: 4
Difficulty Level: Super Easy, embarrassingly so
Salt and Vinegar Potatoes 
I was not planning to post this recipe because it is just too simple to blog. But I have served it enough times to rave reviews that I thought sharing was in order. Do you love Salt & Vinegar potato chips or French fries with malt vinegar? – well this is your dish. Same great tang as with chips comes from vinegar soaking – or rather boiling – into the baby potatoes in order to drench each and every bite. I love flaky salt and kick of vinegar that makes these skillet potatoes almost taste like a bag of chips.  Only wayyyyyyyyyy better. Potatoes should be crispy on the outside and creamy within. This method will get you there and yields color, more flavor and crackling skin. Who could ask for more? I used baby Yukon’s this time…but fingerlings would work equally well. One could also smash the potatoes before the last fry for even greater crispiness.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Persian Lamb Kebabs in Pomegranate-Walnut Marinade

Persian Lamb Kebabs in Pomegranate-Walnut Marinade

Serves: 6
Difficulty level: Moderate
Marinade overnight; Vegetarian option given
Persian Lamb Kebabs in Pomegranate-Walnut Marinade
Like many countries, the cuisine of Iran is largely influenced by climate and geography with strong neighboring influences from the Caspian Sea to Turkey in the northwest.  The common thread that connects the diverse regional styles is a shared emphasis on sweet-and-sour and fruity tastes. There is even a special word in the Persian language used, which describes this distinct vinegar-and-honey quality: malas. This sweet-and-sour kebab is from the northern coastal province, Gilan, which lies on the Caspian Sea. The people of this region like their food extra tart.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Caramelized Endive with Gruyere


Caramelized Endive with Gruyere
Serves: 4

Difficulty Level: Easy
 
Caramelized Endive with Gruyere
I was looking for a different starter to a light dinner, had some endive from the Farmers Market – and thus, began my search for a quick, different and tasty dish.  I am an endive fan. I love the crisp texture and fresh, sweet, nutty flavor with a pleasantly mild bitterness – great served raw or cooked.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Thai Cucumber Salad with Roasted Peanuts

Thai Cucumber Salad with Roasted Peanuts
Serves: 6
Difficulty Level: Easy
 
Thai Cucumber Salad with Roasted Peanuts
This is a great recipe, fresh, colorful, flavorful and really easy. It seems perfect for a summer unique salad – with fish, chicken and/or Thai inspired dishes. Give it a try. You will be amazed how quickly it pulls together. The oil-free vinaigrette has great flavor – do not be put off by the fish sauce, nam pla. I know it smells awful and is quite aromatic but tastes great. Really. It is prepared with fermented fish that is made into a fragrant condiment and provides a salty flavor to this and other dishes. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Cumin & Fennel Crusted Pork Chop with Chipotle Peach Salsa

Cumin & Fennel Crusted Pork Chop with Chipotle Peach Salsa

Serves: 6
Difficulty level: Moderate
Cumin & Fennel Crusted Pork Chop with Chipotle Peach Salsa 
Quick – get out there and make this before the peaches disappear.  I have made it twice in the last few weeks because I loved the sweet-spicy tang of the salsa with the juicy smoky grilled pork chop.  I was tempted to list this as difficulty: easy but the 24-brine and managing the BBQ likely added just a wee bit of complexity.  But, trust me, it is easy peasy.  If there is any left, these thick cut pork chops taste just as good cold. The peach salsa is also great the next day, and day after – with fish, chicken or chips. So give it try – I mean NOW – while the peaches are still spectacular.

Pork is the “other white meat” as well as relatively inexpensive, tender and flavorful.  It is quite a bit leaner than similar cuts of beef. The most common cuts of pork have 16% less total fat and 27% less saturated fat than 20 years ago. Today’s leaner pork can be enjoyed medium rare. The USDA recently announced that pork could be safely cooked to 145 degree F followed by a three-minute rest time, resulting in juicy and tender pork.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Sesame Seared Ahi with Beurre Blanc Sauce

For comments, please post below or email to cookingwithlarue@gmail.com

Sesame Seared Ahi with Beurre Blanc Sauce 
Serves: 4
Difficulty Level: Easy
 
Sesame Seared Ahi with Beurre Blanc Sauce 

There is nothing quite like fresh fish. And when it’s fresh, the simplest preparation will often suffice. Yellowfin tuna, also known as ahi, demonstrates this principle perfectly. With just the barest cooking time, the flavor of a fresh piece of ahi is heavenly. Its ubiquity and popularity in sushi restaurants is a testament to how good ahi can taste served rare. In other words, less is more. However if you are a bit squeamish about partially cooked fish, you can adjust the time in the oven accordingly – or if you want it seared only, skip the oven step altogether. One could also substitute Ahi with Mahi Mahi, Shark or center cut Halibut.