February 26, 2011

A Classic Sunday Supper

Hopefully this will be the end of the cold weather.  Last Sunday we enjoyed a rustic French Supper of roasted chicken, carrots & onions, with fingerling potatoes with thyme and chef's bread.  It was a very easy meal to prepare and I loved the way it was presented - everything on one platter. We even carved at the table. For this roasted chicken I borrowed from 2 classic recipes, dominantly Barefoot Contessa's Perfect Roast Chicken with a touch of Dorie Greenspan's Roast Chicken for les paresseux.  Hope you enjoy!

Blended Family Roast Chicken
1 5 to 6 pound organic roaster
1 lemon, quartered
1 bunch of carrots, washed and sliced in 2 inch chunks
1 sweet onion, quartered and thickly sliced
Sprigs of fresh thyme (8) and parsley (4)
Olive oil
Salt & Pepper
2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 baguette of French bread, sliced in half

Preheat oven to 425 degrees
Throw the carrots and onions into the bottom of a large Dutch oven.  Toss with a drizzle of olive oil and salt & pepper.  Push the vegetables to the edges of the oven and place the baguette slices in the middle.  Add the lemon quarters, parsley & thyme to the cavity of the bird, massage the skin with olive oil and then lay the bird on the bread.  Salt and pepper the skin and sprinkle with the garlic.  Roast uncovered for about an hour and a half.  Check that the juices run clear & transfer to your serving platter as well as the carrots and onions & any of the sliced baguette you have not inhaled yet.  Allow it to rest, lightly tented for about 10 to 15 minutes. 
I also served my fingerling potatoes with thyme.

Speaking of Rustic, he went along with the theme of the evening

February 17, 2011

Eggplant Marinara

I wish I had this recipe last summer when we had eggplant coming out of our ears!  It is divine. This one takes time as well - perfect for a Sunday Supper.  Please make & enjoy!!!

Frankie's Eggplant Marinara 
inspired by Frankie's Kitchen Companion
2 large eggplant
1/4 cup olive oil
Sea Salt & Pepper
2 & 1/2 oz fresh basil chiffonade
2 cups fresh Parmesan
1 quart of Sunday Sauce
8 oz fresh mozzarella

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Wash & dry eggplant. With a vegetable peeler strip alternate layers of the eggplant's skin & slice into 1/2 inch thick disks.  Toss the eggplant with olive oil & salt and pepper & then roast in the oven for 10 minutes per side.   In a deep casserole dish add a layer of Sunday Sauce, then a layer of the eggplant, salt and pepper, fresh basil & Parmesan cheese top with sauce and repeat until you run out of eggplant & finish with a layer of sauce.  Cover with foil and put in the oven for 3 & 1/2 hours (trust me).  Remove from the oven and top the dish with sliced fresh mozzarella & return to the oven.  Once the cheese is brown and bubbly remove (around 10 - 15 minutes). Sprinkle a little fresh basil on top & let it rest about 10 minutes before serving.
Eggplant slices ready for roasting

Eggplant Marinara after 3 & 1/2 hours in the oven
If you don't have Sunday Sauce any commercial marinara will do.
It would be perfect with a salad and crusty bread, but honestly it is wonderful on its on & even cold!
Hope you enjoy!

February 16, 2011

Sunday Sauce

Irony plays a large role in my life.  As it would happen the day that I received my copy of The Frankies Spuntino Kitchen Companion and Cooking Manual my husband actually dined at their restaurant on Clinton Street.  This cookbook is a beauty & I highly recommend.  This book and The Cooking Channel's show Extra Virgin have me Italian inspired.  A week or so ago Gabriele Corcos and Debi Mazar made his family's recipe of "Red Sauce". The concept of family recipes is so fascinating. So special.  Many people refer to red sauce as Sunday sauce, because it takes an entire Sunday morning for it to cook.  Trust me the 4 hours are well worth it, just be prepared.  This is my version of an Italian classic.  I promise you, you will enjoy!

Sunday Sauce
inspired by The Spuntino's Tomato Sauce 
makes 1 quart

1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup hearty red wine
2 tablespoons of minced garlic
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 28 oz cans of peeled whole tomatoes
Sea Salt and black pepper

In a dutch oven warm the olive oil, add garlic and allow to brown but NOT burn (just watch closely and stir often).  In a large bowl empty the cans of tomatoes, juice and all.  With your hands break apart the whole tomatoes into medium sized chunks (you don't want to loose any of the liquid).  When the garlic has browned add the red pepper flakes and give it a good stir. Allow to infuse the oil for about 3 minutes.  Then add the tomatoes, wine & S&P.  Bring to a boil and then allow the sauce to simmer for at least 4 hours, stirring often.  Taste and season as needed. 
Because of the amount of time this takes I have been preparing it a night or two before I actually need it.  The longer it sits the better it gets.
The long simmer allows the water to completely evaporate and the oil, tomatoes, and wine to become one.  Hope you enjoy!

February 4, 2011

Roasted Cauliflower Soup

Talk about a room with a view! I just had to share - this is my husband's view of the amazing St. Patrick's Cathedral from his beautiful room at the Palace Hotel.  I am just the tiniest bit jealous (if you admit it then you don't have a problem, right?).  Back to cooking posts...  
It is funny how certain dishes stay in our memory.  This past Saturday my mother and I were discussing a certain restaurant which switched chefs about 2 years ago.  While the current chef is very talented, there are just certain staples from the previous chef we miss.  The previous chef had perfected soups for lunching ladies. All different varieties of delicate soups that truly accompanied a salad. The one we miss the most is his cauliflower soup.  This is my spin on the memory of his soup.  Hope you enjoy!

Roasted cauliflower, onions and garlic

Roasted Cauliflower Soup
Serves 6+

Roasted Cauliflower

2 heads of cauliflower
1 onion, chopped
1 1/2 tsp minced garlic
Salt, pepper and Olive oil

2 tablespoons of butter
5 1/2 cups of low sodium chicken broth
1 cup fat free 1/2 & 1/2
2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
2 sprigs thyme
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons of sherry
Sour cream , hot sauce & chives for garnish

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Cut cauliflower into florets.  In a shallow roasting pan add the cauliflower, onions and garlic & toss with drizzle of olive oil, salt & pepper.  Roast for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool.  Once cool roughly chop with a spatula (very easy to do at this point).

In a stockpot melt the butter & everything but the flower & roasted cauliflower mix.  Bring to a boil slowly, stirring often & then whisk in the flour to thicken.  Remove from the heat and add the roasted cauliflower and sherry (if you are going to serve later - I would let it cool and refrigerate).  Bring it back to a low boil and serve with sour cream, hot sauce and chives.
Roasted Cauliflower Soup

February 2, 2011

Strawberry Spinach Salad

This is a such a classic, and is a nice way to brighten up a dreary, cold evening.  How beautiful would this be on your Valentine's Day table.

Strawberry Spinach Salad
Serves 4

6 ozs baby spinach
1 cup of sliced strawberries
2 tablespoons sliced almonds
1/4 cup crumbled feta
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup of poppy seed dressing

Wash and dry spinach.  Toss the sliced strawberries with the balsamic vinegar and let marinate for 5 minutes or so.  Remove the strawberries from the balsamic vinegar and add all ingredients to your serving dish. Toss with the poppy seed dressing and allow it to sit for about 10 minutes

I also love to add grilled chicken, and let this be our supper.  The strawberries marinated in the balsamic vinegar are so wonderful, the flavor is amazing!  Hope you enjoy!