Dining at Disney – Sanaa

Time for another disclosure, this is my second favorite restaurant at Disney World and there are days I have difficulty making that ranking decision between Sanaa and California Grill. They are dramatically different restaurants both in food and price, but the quality shines through in both locations. The food is so unique here that we verify all of our dishes are nut and fish free so that we all can share bites of everything.

I remember our first visit to Sanaa and encouraging my husband and boys to try the bread service with all of the toppings, they weren’t sure about it, but I had visited India and knew how good this could be. Sanaa executes this perfectly and we now order it every time we visit; yesterday was no exception and it vanished quickly.


We ordered a South African wine to pair with our food; most of the menu is African and Indian flavors and my husband and I learned long ago that a wine local to the type of food will pair well.


All of our dishes were amazing, and I have sincere compliments to the chef; that original visit inspired me to bring lamb into my own cooking. My eldest ordered the lamb shank, on our original trip it was the youngest, and I tought them both to make sure they get the marrow from inside the bone as well as the meat from outside. After the duration of cooking it’s perfect. The meat simply falls off of the bone when you pick it up: perfection.


I selected the duck; I can’t get it fresh and I haven’t had success reproducing recipes with frozen so this has not made it into my repertoire. It was served a perfect medium rare, with very crispy skin and duck confit (made from the legs and thighs) on the side. Like the lamb and other red meats, when cooked correctly it simply melts in your mouth.


My husband opted for the Braaivleis, a trio of grilled meats; the meats aren’t ever listed on the menu as they are subject to change. His came with pork tenderloin, lamb chops, and a boar meat sausage. All were perfect and flavorful, with the sausage as a clear favorite of my husband and boys due to the unique flavor profile.


My youngest selected the Spicy Durban Shrimp with Aloo Masala after researching all of the terms so that he knew what he was ordering. Again, another amazing dish, the shrimp were full of flavor, and we may have to start ordering extra bread to soak up the sauces.


When it comes to nuts, the desserts are different story and my eldest made sure he ate enough that he didn’t want dessert. My youngest got the Spice Trade Candy Bar and my husband and I split the Kenyan Coffee Petit Entremet. Both were amazing.

  

If you are willing to be a bit more daring in food options, definitely try Sanaa.


Advertisements

Christmas Dinner

Merry Christmas to you and yours! I hope you had a wonderful day and dinner. 

Or Happy Holidays if you don’t celebrate Christmas, but are enjoying other festivities. 

As you likely know from reading my blog, I strongly believe that all food should be good and good food is real food. I try to hit an even higher standard for Christmas Eve dinner and this year I decided on individual Beef Wellingtons. It’s not something I have made before. 

I looked at several recipes for inspiration and ended using the recipe at the bottom. The ingredients are simple even though the taste is complex. 

Since I wanted them to be sized as individual portions I had to start with filet mignon, which you can buy at the meat counter for $18-25/lb. depending on the current market. I cannot fathom this price so I start with the whole tenderloin and trim it well then cut my own steaks. At $9/lb. the effort is worth it. 

I like my steak lean, but the most important part is removing the tendon. Overall, I ended up with 6 steaks (4-6 oz. each), three bags of extra steak (1 lb. each) including a chateaubriand that can be a small roast later, and only ½ lb. of scraps. I also had ~4 oz. of small pieces that I used to make the red wine sauce. 

    

  

I kept the steaks in the fridge overnight; no wrap needed.

I also started dessert, a Martha Stewart recipe, on the eve of Christmas Eve by making the sponge cakes. The ingredients were incredibly simple.

Any time you make a cake, it’s always best to prep the pans first.

With this recipe the butter was a close second, as it needed to be melted and cooled.

From there, I sifted my dry ingredients, and then beat the eggs and sugar. 

  
  

When they were very light I folded in the dry ingredients, followed by the butter. 

  

Baking them was very quick – 6 minutes.

   

On Christmas Eve, I returned to the steaks first, very quickly searing them in batches on high heat, then they went back in the fridge.

  

Then I washed and chopped my mushrooms, mostly baby bellas with a few wild mushrooms mixed in. 

    

All of the mushrooms went into a large skillet with oil, a few sprigs of thyme, and a healthy helping of fresh ground pepper to make the duxelle. (I love new words!) After a few minutes they release their moisture then dry and begin to brown. 

  

  

  

The next step of the beef was to set their shape. I laid out 6 pieces of Saran Wrap, each with 2 slices of Prosciutto, and then spread the Prosciutto with the duxelle, evenly divided. 

  

After seasoning the beef with salt and pepper I placed each one on a piece of Saran Wrap and folded, then tightly sealed them, and then returned them to the fridge. 

  

  

I returned to the cake by making the filling, again an easy set of ingredients. I started by separating my eggs. 

  

The mascarpone, powdered sugar, cocoa, and salt go right on top of the yolks, and then the mix is beaten until thick and creamy. 

  

The egg whites are whipped with a dash of salt and then folded into the chocolate mix. 

  
 

Each of the two cakes are cut into 3 equally sized rectangles. Place one on your serving tray and brush it with brandy and spread about a cup of the filling evenly over it. 

  

Continue in this manner until you reach the top layer, ending with a brandy-brushed cake layer. This goes into the fridge too.

  

I have prepared brussel sprouts fairly frequently lately so I won’t bore you with the details. At this point I was simply cleaning them. 

  

And then I made the glaze for the cake: chocolate and hot cream. 

  

  

I also cleaned and seasoned my redskins while the chocolate melted. 

    

  

Once the chocolate was melted, I whisked it to smooth and then glazed the cake. 

  

About an hour before I wanted to serve dinner, I put the potatoes in the oven and started the red wine sauce (aka, gravy) I used the trimmings I mentioned earlier, a few more sprigs of thyme, a bay leaf, several peppercorns, and 3 sliced shallots. 

  

When the shallots were golden I added in a splash of red wine vinegar, let it reduce to almost dry and then add 2 cups of wine. I brought the wine to a boil and then simmered it until it was reduced to about ½ cup. 

  

Then I wrapped my beef in puff pastry, I recommend an 8-9″ square per filet, and only 2 per sheet – yes you will have some scrap, but they won’t be too thin at the end. I brushed the edges and the tops with an egg wash. 

  

  

  

  

At this point (about 30 minutes before dinner) the wine was reduced and I added in the broth to reduce again, ultimately to  about 1 cup. And I put the brussel sprouts in the oven. I roasted them with crispy red onions, salt, pepper, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. 

  

  

At 15 minutes before dinner, I put the steaks in the oven and strained the gravy. I returned most the gravy to the pan. I kept ~¼ cup into which I whisked about 1 teaspoon of corn starch and then whisked this into the rest of the gravy and returned it to a boil to thicken it. Take the beef, and everything else out of the oven when the internal temp of the beef is 135F (assuming you appreciate medium rare).

  

  

Dinner is served. 







Beef Wellington

Paprika Recipe File

Beef and Lamb, Christmas, Entrées, Season, Tested and Approved!

Makes Serves 6 ∙ Difficulty Hard ∙ Source Inspired by Gordon Ramsey

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 filet mignon steaks (4-6 oz. each)
  • Olive oil
  • 1½ lb. mushrooms, mixed
  • 4-6 thyme sprigs
  • 3 sheets puff pastry
  • 12 slices prosciutto
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp. water
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

For the red wine sauce:

  • Olive oil
  • 4-6 oz. beef trimmings
  • 3 large shallots, peeled and sliced
  • 12 black peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ~4-6 thyme sprigs
  • Splash of red wine vinegar
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 15 oz. beef stock
  • 1 tsp. corn starch

DIRECTIONS

Quickly sear the beef in a hot pan with a little olive oil for 30-60 seconds until browned all over and very rare in the middle. Remove from the pan and leave to cool, then return to the fridge.

Finely chop the mushrooms and fry in a hot pan with a little olive oil, the thyme sprigs, and pepper. When the mushrooms begin to release their juices, continue to cook over a high heat for about 10-15 minutes until all the excess moisture has evaporated and you are left with a mushroom paste just beginning to brown (known as a duxelle). Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool.

Lay 6 squares of saran wrap on a work surface and arrange 2 slices of prosciutto on each, slightly overlapping. With a palette knife, spread the mushroom paste over the prosciutto. Season each filet with salt and pepper then place one in the middle of each square. Neatly wrap the proscuitto and mushrooms, then the saran wrap around the beef to form a tight package. Chill for at least 30 minutes to allow the beef to keep its shape.

Cut each sheet of pastry in half, place on a lightly floured surface and roll into a rectangle large enough to envelop one of the beef fillets (~8-9″ square).

Remove the saran wrap from the beef, brush the edges of the pastry with egg wash, then wrap the pastry around each filet. Brush the outside with the egg wash. Allow to rest for at leat 15 minutes before baking, if more than 30 chill in the fridge.

Meanwhile, make the red wine sauce. Heat the oil in a large pan, then fry the beef trimmings for a few minutes until browned on all sides. Stir in the shallots with the peppercorns, bay leaf, and thyme then continue to cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the shallots turn golden brown.

Pour in the vinegar and let it bubble for a few minutes until almost dry. Then add the wine and boil until reduced to ~½ cup. Add the stock and bring to the boil again. Lower the heat and simmer gently until reduced to ~1½ cups. Strain the liquid through a fine sieve. Check for seasoning and return to the pan, reserve ¼ cup and whisk in the corn starch. Whisk the reserved liquid back into the pan and bring to a boil until the sauce reaches the desired consistency, then set aside.

When you are ready to cook the beef wellingtons, score the pastry lightly then bake at 400°F for 15-20 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and cooked. The internal temperature should be 135°F for medium rare. Allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Serve the beef wellingtons, with the sauce as an accompaniment.
Glazed Chocolate Layer Cake

Paprika Recipe File

Cakes, Cheesecakes, Desserts

Prep 45 mins ∙ Cook 55 mins ∙ Makes Servings: 10 ∙ Source Marthastewart.com

INGREDIENTS

FOR THE CAKE

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 cup sifted all-purpose flour, plus more for baking pans
  • Coarse salt
  • 5 large eggs, plus 2 large egg yolks
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

FOR THE FILLING AND GLAZE

  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • 2 cups mascarpone cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons brandy
  • Chocolate Glaze

DIRECTIONS

Make cake: Preheat oven to 450 degrees, with racks in upper and lower thirds. Coat two 10 1/2-by-15 1/2-inch jelly-roll baking pans with cooking spray. Line with parchment paper; coat with cooking spray. Dust with flour, tapping out excess. In a bowl, whisk together flour and teaspoon salt.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat eggs, yolks, and sugar on medium-high, 2 minutes; increase speed to high and beat until pale and thick, 5 minutes. Sift flour mixture over egg mixture; with a large rubber spatula, fold together until almost blended. Pour butter down side of bowl, folding to combine. Divide batter between pans; smooth with a table knife. Immediately transfer pans to oven and bake until cakes are golden brown and springy when pressed, 6 to 7 minutes, rotating pans halfway through. Let cool completely.

Make filling: In a large bowl, stir together egg yolks, mascarpone, sugar, cocoa, and pinch of salt. In another large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat egg whites and pinch of salt until soft peaks form. With a large rubber spatula, fold one-third whites into mascarpone mixture; fold in remainder.

Invert cakes onto a work surface and gently peel off parchment. Using a serrated knife, trim cakes to measure 10 by 15 inches, then cut each crosswise into thirds. Place 1 cake layer, golden side up, on a platter; brush with brandy and spread with 1 cup filling. Repeat with remaining cake, brandy, and filling, ending with a layer of brandy-brushed cake. Refrigerate until set, about 30 minutes.

Make Chocolate Glaze. Pour over top of cake and spread so it drips down sides (or spread along sides). Cover and refrigerate 1 hour (or up to 2 days).
Chocolate Glaze

Paprika Recipe File 

Makes 1 1/4 cups ∙ Source Marthastewart.com

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream

DIRECTIONS

Place bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped, in a heatproof bowl. In a small saucepan, heat heavy cream over medium-high; when bubbling around edge, pour over chocolate. Let stand 5 minutes, then whisk until shiny and smooth.

Quick Cake

So we decided this evening to get together with some friends. I offered to bring something and was assigned dessert. My mind quickly went to my Raspberry Buttermilk Cake when I remembered that one of my good friends in this group doesn’t believe that a dessert is actually dessert if it has fruit in it. We’ll continue this debate personally, but I switched my brain to chocolate.

I recently came across this chocolate cake to make a treat for another friend who is gluten free. Aside from baking time it’s about 15-20 minutes to put it together and that includes the time to get out the ingredients and make the superfine sugar.

IMG_4279

This is how I have taken to “sifting”, it’s way easier!IMG_4280IMG_4281

And I still boil my water in a teapot.IMG_4282

The boiling water goes into the cocoa and then the vanilla, it shouldn’t be runny, but it isn’t thick.IMG_4283

In a separate bowl mix the almond flour, baking soda, and salt.
IMG_4284IMG_4286

I never buy superfine sugar, if you have a food processor, you shouldn’t either.

IMG_4287

The mixer gets the eggs, olive oil, and the sugar.

IMG_4288

They get whipped together until they are very thick.

IMG_4289IMG_4290

Add the chocolate while it stirs slowly.

IMG_4291IMG_4292

And then the almond flour mix.

IMG_4293IMG_4294

Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl so that you don’t miss any good stuff.

IMG_4296IMG_4297

And then pour it into your prepared pan.

IMG_4298IMG_4299

After it’s baked it’s beautiful, moist, and delicious. 

Chocolate Olive Oil Cake

Cakes, Cheesecakes, Desserts, Not Shared, Tested and Approved!

Makes 8-12 slices ∙ Source Nigella.com

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 tablespoons good-quality unsweetened cocoa (sifted)
  • ½ cup boiling water
  • 2 teaspoons best vanilla extract
  • 1½ cups almond meal (or ¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour)
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 cup superfine sugar
  • ⅔ cup regular olive oil (plus more for greasing)
  • 3 large eggs

1. Preheat your oven to 325ºF. Grease a 9″ springform tin with a little oil and line the base with baking parchment.

2. Measure and sift the unsweetened cocoa into a bowl or jug and whisk in the boiling water until you have a smooth, chocolatey, still runny (but only just) paste. Whisk in the vanilla extract, then set aside to cool a little.

3. In another smallish bowl, combine the almond meal (or flour) with the baking soda and pinch of salt.

4. Put the sugar, olive oil and eggs into the bowl of a freestanding mixer with the paddle attachment (or other bowl and whisk arrangement of your choice) and beat together vigorously for about 3 minutes until you have a pale-primrose, aerated and thickened cream.

5. Turn the speed down a little and pour in the cocoa mixture, beating as you go, and when all is scraped in you can slowly tip in the ground almond (or flour) mixture.

6. Scrape down, and stir a little with a spatula, then pour this dark, liquid batter into the prepared tin. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the sides are set and the very centre, on top, still looks slightly damp. A cake tester should come up mainly clean but with a few sticky chocolate crumbs clinging to it.

7. Let it cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack, still in its tin, and then ease the sides of the cake with a small metal spatula and spring it out of the tin. Leave to cool completely or eat while still warm with some ice cream, as a pudding.

NOTES

Not extra virgin olive oil.

Paprika Recipe File

Snow in April = Stew and Soup

As I watched flurries outside the window this weekend (grr) and viewed my parents posts from warm beaches (grr) I decided that the only positive thing I could do was to warm us all up from the inside. As I prepared my menu for the week on Saturday, I decided on a stew for Sunday and a soup for Monday; both could easily be made on Sunday. As an added bonus I had meat in my freezer which I could use for the effort.

A soccer game for my eldest on Sunday provided the motivation for an early start to the day. As soon as I got back I started making broth for Monday’s Chicken and Mushroom Soup. This is one of the first recipes I learned from my MIL and although I continue to play with it, the core recipe remains and it is a household favorite. It calls for chicken broth, which you can buy, but I prefer to make my own. Whenever I have leftovers from a roasted chicken that I’m not going to use, it goes into the freezer. When I checked on Sunday, I had parts from about 4 chickens and they all went into my largest stock pot. I then filled the pan with water until the chicken was just covered, brought it to a boil, and then covered and simmered for 2 hours. I scooped out the chicken and stripped off all of the good meat onto a plate.

I then strained the broth into containers for freezing, I ended up with ~27 cups! 6 containers of 4 cups each into the fridge and I set the remaining ~3 cups aside for the soup.

I’ll return to the soup later, but my next focus was Sunday dinner, Beer, Beef, and Onions. The easiest way to start is by getting out all of the ingredients. 

 Although after taking the picture I realized the beer I grabbed was an IPA (too bitter) so I swapped it for a fairly basic home brew. 

 There are a lot of onions in this recipe, which are sweet and caramelized by the time you serve them. They cook 30 minutes before anything else even goes in the pot. 

 The recipe calls for a chuck roast (which works very well in the recipe), but among my freezer findings were the trimmings of beef tenderloin (Remember waste not, want not… Rather than buy filet for special occasions, I normally opt for the whole tenderloin which is usually half the price or less. I cut the steaks and then freeze the ends and other chunks.) I had about 3 lbs. of these trimmings which I cut into large chunks, dried well with paper towels, and then seasoned well with salt and pepper. 

 Rather than add the flour all at once it works best to sprinkle on a little bit, stir it in, and then repeat until all of the pieces are coated. 

   
By this time the onions were happy and I stirred in the garlic (6 for us, we love garlic). 

 The next step is to brown the meat, (don’t try to crowd the pan, it cooks better in batches) and then move the browned cubes on top of the onions. 

    
 The other ingredients go in EXCEPT the beer and brown sugar and you stir to combine. 

   
Then the beer, just enough to cover the meat and then put it in the oven for 2 hours, stirring in the brown sugar halfway through. 

   
On to dessert and a new set of ingredients for a Rhubarb Almond Cake. 

 I was intrigued because it’s made in a tart pan, as I expected from that simple fact, it doesn’t rise much and remains a dense, moist delicious cake. 

   
Cream the soft butter, vanilla bean, and sugar in one bowl. And process the almonds, flour, salt, and baking powder. 

   
(P.S. – When a recipe says reserve the pod for another use – my favorite is vanilla sugar. It’s perfect for making vanilla ice cream. or even coffee.) 

 After adding the eggs, and then the dry ingredients you have a very thick batter and the rhubarb is folded in. 

   
Once it’s in the pan, the topping is strips of rhubarb and sugar and then I popped it in the oven with the stew. 

 I also started boiling some redskins for mashed potatoes. 

   
Back to the soup…it calls for 1 lb. of mixed mushrooms. You should use what you like and know that anywhere between 1-1½ lbs. will work. I used to make it with just white mushrooms now it depends on what looks good and what I’m in the mood to eat. For this meal, it had dried morels (reconstituted), baby bellas, white, and shiitake, in total closer to the 1½ lbs.  

  I reserve the “broth” from the reconstituted dried mushrooms after filtering out the silt. 

 The caps are cooked first in butter and lemon juice. 

 After setting those aside, the stems go in with the onion until they are soft. I also tend to start adding pepper here so that the flavor is throughout the soup. 

    
   

  After stirring in the flour the broth (chicken and mushroom) is added slowly to form a thick broth. 

    
   
 Once it comes to a boil, reduce the heat and blend it with an immersion blender until it’s smooth. Since I wasn’t serving until Monday, I let it cool at this point and then stirred in the mushroom caps, cream, and chicken. When I was ready to serve it on Monday I brought it to a boil and then reduced the temp to keep it warm. 

  

I then started to sear diced red onions and added in the green beans when they were crispy, seasoning well with salt and pepper. 

   
And I mashed the potatoes with about a ½ stick of butter, the remaining Greek yogurt from the cake, a bit of heavy cream, and salt and pepper.  

  

  Beer Beef And Onions

Beef and Lamb, Entrées, Tested and Approved!
Prep 2 hours ∙ Cook 3 hours ∙ Makes Makes 6 To 8 Servings ∙ Difficulty Medium ∙ Source Shannon Stacey

INGREDIENTS

  • 2½ pounds onions, sliced
  • ½ cup canola oil, divided
  • 2-6 cloves garlic, minced
  • ⅓ cup flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 3 pounds beef chuck roast, boneless, cut in 1½” cubes
  • 1½ Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1½ Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1½ Tbsp steak sauce
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp thyme leaves, dried
  • 18-24 ounces beer, bottled, not dark
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar

DIRECTIONS

Cook onions in 2T. oil in a a 6-8 quart oven-proof pot over moderate heat, stirring frequently until lightly browned (~30 minutes). Add garlic, stir and cook 5 minutes. 

Preheat oven to 325°F with rack in middle.

Combine flour, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Pat beef dry then toss with flour. Heat 2 tablespoon oil in a skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Brown beef in batches then add to onions as done (add additional oil to skillet if necessary.

Add all remaining ingredients except beer and sugar and stir to mix. Add beer until it just covers beef and onions. Bring to a simmer then braise in the oven for 2 hours. After 1 hour add brown sugar and season with salt and pepper to taste. 

Serve with egg noodles or mashed potatoes.  

Rhubarb-Almond Cake

Cakes, Cheesecakes, Desserts

Prep 40 minutes ∙ Cook 2 hours ∙ Makes Yield 8 servings ∙ Source Epicurious.com

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
  • 3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar, plus more for pan
  • 1 pound rhubarb stalks, trimmed
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup blanched almonds
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt or sour cream
  • Special equipment:
  • One 11×8″ tart pan or one 9″-diameter tart pan with removable bottom.

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350°. Butter tart pan and sprinkle with sugar, tapping out excess. Slice rhubarb in half lengthwise (quarter if very large). Set 8 of the prettiest pieces aside for the top of the cake; chop remaining rhubarb into 1/2″ pieces. Pulse flour, almonds, baking powder, and salt in a food processor until almonds are finely ground (texture should be sandy).

Place 1 cup butter and 3/4 cup sugar in a large bowl. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; reserve pod for another use. Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating to blend first egg before adding second. Beat until mixture is pale and fluffy, about 4 minutes.

Reduce speed to low and gradually add dry ingredients, followed by yogurt. Beat, scraping down the sides of bowl as needed, just to combine (batter will be thick). Fold in chopped rhubarb and scrape batter into prepared pan. Smooth batter and arrange reserved rhubarb over top; sprinkle with remaining 3 tablespoons sugar.

Place tart pan on a large rimmed baking sheet (to catch any rogue juices) and bake, rotating once, until cake is golden brown and rhubarb on top is soft and beginning to brown, 70–80 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cake cool before removing from pan.

Do ahead: Cake can be baked 3 days ahead. Keep tightly wrapped at room temperature.

Cream of Mushroom and Chicken Soup

Entrées, Poultry, Soups Stews etc., Tested and Approved!

Cook 35 to 40 minutes ∙ Difficulty Medium

INGREDIENTS

  • 1-2 pounds chicken, shredded
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 onion, small, sliced thinly (or 1 leek)
  • 3 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 pound mushrooms , white is delicious, add morels or others for a twist
  • 1 tsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

DIRECTIONS

Trim tough stems of mushrooms; remove stems and set aside. Slice mushroom caps thinly.

In a 4 quart saucepan over medium heat, in hot butter, cook sliced mushrooms and lemon juice until mushrooms are just tender, stirring. Reduce heat to medium-low; with a slotted spoon, remove mushrooms to a bowl.

In the same pan, cook onion and stems until onion is tender. Stir in flour until blended; cook 1 minute stirring the mixture constantly. Gradually stir in broth and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is thickened.

With an immersion blender, blend until smooth and then stir in salt, pepper, cream, shredded chicken, and mushroom slices; reheat until soup is boiling. 

  
NOTES

This recipe is best if you have leftovers on a roasted chicken. Boil it for broth and strip the chicken.

If not, use 2 whole breasts, just cover with water to cook the chicken and reserve the broth. If using this method add enough water (and bouillon) to the broth at the end to make 3½ cups.

If an immersion blender is not available, a traditional blender can be used, but it is necessary to do it in 2 batches.

 

Simple Scallops

I have finished the book for the book club I have recently joined so now I can allow myself to write. For those of you that are interested, the book is All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, and it weaves a beautiful tale. I wish that I could write so beautifully that the words bring you in. 

In the meantime I will stick to making food. On Saturday, when making my menu for the week I knew that I wanted scallops for Sunday dinner. When I skimmed my saved recipes for ideas I noticed one for scallops with a blood orange sauce; citrus and scallops are perfect match. Although I frequently use lemons, blood oranges are still around at the grocery store. 

The most important thing when cooking scallops is ensure that they are dry so that they brown rather than simmer, so after I rinse them and remove the side muscle, I dry them on paper towels and then I replace the paper towels and flip them over so that the other side is also dry. I always season them with salt and pepper before I cook them.

 
In addition to this I also did all of my prep work and measuring for this meal in advance, once you start cooking it only takes 10 minutes so it is much easier to have all of your ingredients ready. I also had all of my dessert ingredients ready, but since it also only took 10 minutes to cook, I didn’t bake it until after we had all eaten and cleaned up the kitchen; I’ll get to that after the meal. 

For the scallops the prep also included chopping the shallot and squeezing the oranges (they were small so I ended up using 2). I rinsed the beans, measured my couscous and water, and minced a handful of mint. 

  
When I was ready to cook, I started the water for the couscous first with a bit of butter and salt while I heated my cast iron skillet for the scallops and my skillet for the green beans. When the water boiled, I added the couscous and reduced it to a simmer and put the green beans in my skillet with a bit of tangerine olive oil, salt, and pepper over medium high heat. 

  
Once the cast iron was hot I set in the scallops, it’s important not to move them while they cook, they should take about 3 minutes to get that nice brown color; in the meantime I stirred the beans to make sure that none overcooked.  

   
After flipping the scallops and letting them cook 2 more minutes I set them aside and added the additional butter and shallots to the pan. While this shallots softened I turned off the heat on the beans and couscous and stirred the mint into the couscous. 

  
Just before serving I added the orange juice to the hot cast iron skillet, deglazed the pan, and poured the sauce into a small bowl for serving. 

  
Dessert was just as simple. Before dinner I set the butter and chocolate in my double boiler on the stove, I didn’t heat it, but with the other cooking going on they softened well. I also prepped my ramekins measured my sugar, broke the eggs into my mixer bowl, and measured the remaining ingredients into a small bowl so that I could add it to the mixer when the time came. 

   
 After we cleaned up the dishes, I started creaming the eggs and sugar and finished melting the butter and chocolate together.    

 After mixing the remaining ingredients in, I scooped the very thick batter into the ramekins. They do only take about 8 minutes to cook and are best served warm with vanilla ice cream.   

  
Seared Scallops with Blood Orange-Shallot Sauce
Makes Serves 4 ∙ Source Finecooking.com

INGREDIENTS

  • 1½ lb. sea scallops, side muscles removed
  • Kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, finely chopped (~¼ cup)
  • 1-2 blood oranges, squeezed to yield at least ¼ cup juice

DIRECTIONS

Pat the scallops dry and season on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat 1 Tbsp. of the butter and the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until the foam from the butter subsides.

Add the scallops and cook, undisturbed, until well browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip and cook the second side until browned and just barely firm to the touch, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Add the remaining 1 Tbsp. butter to the skillet. Add the shallot and a touch of salt; cook, stirring, until softened, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the juice and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve the scallops drizzled with the sauce and sprinkled with a little black pepper.

Chili-spiced Chocolate Molten Lava Cakes

INGREDIENTS

  • Butter for greasing ramekins
  • Regular or dark cocoa powder (for dusting ramekins)
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 ounces dark chocolate
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
  • Pinch of cayenne

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 450°F.

Butter four 4-ounce ramekins and lightly dust the inside of each ramekin with cocoa powder, tapping out the excess; set aside.

Place the butter and chocolate in a double boiler, melt over hot water until almost completely melted. Stir until the chocolate is smooth.

Meanwhile, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk together eggs, egg yolks, and sugar until light and thick. Slowly add butter mixture to mixer; add flour, cinnamon, chili powder, cayenne, and mix until well combined. Divide batter between prepared ramekins. Place ramekins on a baking sheet and transfer to oven. Bake until sides are set and center is soft, 8 to 10 minutes.

Remove from oven and let stand about 1 minute. Invert each mold onto a plate and let stand for about 10 seconds. Gently tap the tops of ramekins and carefully lift to remove. Serve with ice cream if desired and berries.

Fresh Herb Pappardelle with Veal and Lemon

For Christmas my niece gave me The Pasta Book, by Julia Della Croce, printed by Williams Sonoma. I have been exited to enjoy it, but I had not yet attempted fresh pasta. 

It’s a serious confession, growing up my mother always made homemade egg noodles for chicken noodle soup and over the last couple of years has been making other pastas. The chicken noodle soup is one of my fondest memories and her other pastas have been wonderful.

I had given myself the excuse that I have access to such good dried pasta, I didn’t need to make it fresh. 

But…today this recipe caught my eye. The sauce was not complicated, dessert was going to be easy, and my neighbors were bringing the Caesar salad. 

I made dessert first, then the pasta, and finally the sauce. 

I could not have been more delighted with the results, I should have made fresh pasta sooner. Everyone was delighted with the results. I still don’t have a full size food processor, and I don’t have a pasta roller, so I followed the “by hand” instructions. I may be making some new investments for the kitchen. I don’t have pictures throughout making the pasta, my hands were too covered to touch the camera.  

   

 WS Egg Pasta I

Pastas
Prep 45 mins ∙ Cook 0 minutes ∙ Makes Servings: 6 ∙ Source Williams Sonoma | The Pasta Book, Julia Della Croce, 2010

INGREDIENTS

  • 2½ cups unbleached all-purpose or “00” flour, plus more as needed
  • ¼ tsp. fine sea salt
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp. olive oil

DIRECTIONS

To make the dough by hand:

Measure the flour onto a work surface, mix in the salt and shape the flour into a mound. Using your fingertips, make a well in the center.  

 

 Break the eggs into the center of the well and add the olive oil. Using a fork, beat until the eggs and oil are blended, making sure the liquid does not breach the walls of the well.

Using the fork, gradually draw the flour from the sides of the well into the egg mixture and beat gently, always in the same direction, to combine the flour with the liquid. Secure the wall of the well with your other hand until the liquid has absorbed enough flour that it will not flow over the wall.

When the mixture is too stiff to use the fork, begin using both hands, gradually drawing in the flour from the bottom of the wall, until you have a soft, moist, but not sticky ball of dough. If the dough will not absorb more flour without becoming stiff, do not use it all. If it is too soft, add more flour, a spoonful at a time. Clean the work surface, dust it lightly with flour and flatten the ball of dough into a disk.

To make the dough with a food processor: 

Fit a food processor with the metal blade. Add all but 1/2 cup of the flour and the salt to the work bowl and pulse to mix. You will use the reserved 1/2 cup flour later to adjust the consistency of the dough.

Crack the eggs into a liquid measuring cup and remove any stray shells. Add the olive oil; there is no need to stir. Pour the eggs and oil into the work bowl. Process until the flour is evenly moistened and crumbly, about 10 seconds. Test the dough by pinching it; if it is very sticky, add more flour, 1 Tbs. at a time, processing until it is incorporated. After about 30 seconds total, the dough should come together in a loose ball and feel moist but not sticky.

Dust a clean work surface with flour. Remove the ball of dough from the food processor and place it in the center of the floured surface. Using your hands, flatten the dough into a disk.

For both methods: 

Using the heel of your hand, push the dough down and away from you, fold it in half back toward you, rotate a quarter turn and repeat the kneading motion. After about 10 minutes, the dough should be smooth and elastic.

Shape the dough into a ball, cover with an overturned bowl and let rest for 15 minutes before you roll it out. The gluten in the flour will relax, making the dough easier to roll. Do not let it rest longer or it will be too dry. Makes 1 lb. dough.

  
Rolling with a Machine:

Set up the pasta machine according to the manufacturer’s directions. Set the rollers at the widest setting and dust with flour to prevent sticking. Cut the dough into 4 equal pieces and slip 3 pieces back under the bowl.

Flatten the remaining piece into a disk and dust with flour. Turning the crank, feed the dough through the rollers. Fold the dough into thirds like aletter. Lightly flour both sides and feed it through again; this process further kneads the dough. Repeat the folding and rolling twice dusting with flour as needed.

Narrow the rollers to the next notch dust the dough with flour and pass it through the rollers again. Catch the sheet with your hand and carefully guide it onto the work surface. Narrow the rollers to the next notch and feed the dough through again. If the dough tears, start again at the widest setting.

Continue in this fashion, dusting with frour and repairing holes as needed. 

Rolling by Hand:

Cut the dough into 4 equal pieces and slip 3 pieces back under the bowl. Flatten the remainin piece into a disk and dust with flour. Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough away from you Lift the dough, flour the work surface again, if necessary, and turn the dough 90°. Roll out again.

Continue rolling the dough until you can see your hand through it (see thickness below). Allow to rest for 10-20 minutes. 

  
For both methods:

Place the rolled out pasta onto clean work surface and fold into a loose flat cylinder. Using a chef’s knife or pizza cutter cut appropriate width for pasta. 

  

Thickness (Width):

  • 1/32″ thick – Tagliatelle (¼”), Papparadelle (¾-1″), Maltagliati, Stuffed Pastas, Cannelloni, Lasagne
  • 1/16″ thick – Fettucine (¼”), Trenette (3/8″)

Fresh Herb Pappardelle with Veal and Lemon

Beef and Lamb, Entrées, Pastas, Tested and Approved!

Prep 30 mins ∙ Cook 40 mins ∙ Makes 4-6 ∙ Source Williams-Sonoma | The Pasta Book, Julia Della Croce, 2010

INGREDIENTS

Herb Pasta

  • WS Egg Pasta I Recipe
  • 3 tbsp. Italian Parsley, freshly chopped

Veal-Lemon Sauce

  • 1 lb. veal, partially frozen and cut into thin (¼” thick) strips 1″ long and ¼” wide
  • 4 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 large shallots, minced
  • ½ lb. fresh white mushrooms, brushed clean and thinly sliced
  • ½ cup dry sherry
  • 1½ cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1 tsp. freshly chopped thyme
  • 1 lemon zest strip, three inches long and one inch wide
  • 2 tbsp. chopped Italian parsley
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Kosher salt for cooking pasta

   
 

    DIRECTIONS

    To make the herb pasta dough, follow the Egg Pasta 1 dough as directed and incorporate the parsley with flour when mixing in the salt. Let dry for 30 minutes to 3 hours.

    Pat veal dry with paper towels and set aside. In a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat, melt the butter with the olive oil. Add the shallots and sauté until tender, about two minutes. Raise the heat to medium-high and add the mushrooms. Sauté gently until softened, about two minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the shallot and mushroom mixture to a plate and set aside.  

     Raise the heat to high and add the veal to the pan. Sauté until the meat colours on the surface, about two minutes.  
    Add the sherry and reduce the heat to medium. Sauté until most of the alcohol evaporates, about three minutes. Add the broth, raise the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Add the thyme and immediately reduce the heat to low. Simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Uncover, add the lemon zest and chopped parsley, and return the mushroom mixture to the pan. Season with sea salt and pepper and simmer, uncovered, until the veal is tender and the liquid is reduced to about 1
    ¼ cups, about 15 minutes longer. Remove and discard the lemon zest. Add the cream and heat, stirring, just until small bubbles begin to forma
    round the edges of the pan.  
    Do not let the cream boil. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.In a large pot, bring five quarts of water to a rapid boil. Add two tablespoons kosher salt and the pasta and cover the pot.

      
    When the water returns to a boil, uncover, cook for about a minute or until tender and then drain. Add the pasta to the sauce in the pan and toss until the pasta is well coated with the sauce. Transfer to a warmed large, shallow serving bowl or individual shallow bowls and serve right away.

      
    Double Ginger Sticky Toffee Pudding

    Makes Servings: 8 ∙ Source Bonappetit.com

    INGREDIENTS

    Cake

    • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
    • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
    • 10 ounces Medjool dates, pitted and chopped (about 2 cups)
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 2 teaspoons baking powder
    • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
    • 1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
    • 2 teaspoons finely grated peeled ginger
    • 3 large eggs, room temperature
    • ½ cup chopped crystallized ginger

    Toffee Sauce And Assembly

    • 1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
    • 1 cup heavy cream
    • ¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter
    • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
    • Demerara sugar (for serving)

    Special Equipment

    • A 9-cup Bundt pan

    DIRECTIONS

    Cake
    Preheat oven to 350˚. Thoroughly butter and flour pan, making sure to get into all curved or detailed places. 

     Toss dates and baking soda in a small bowl to coat, then pour in 1 cup boiling water. 

       

      


      
     Let mixture sit until dates are very soft, 10–15 minutes. Mash dates lightly with a fork (mixture will be thick but not smooth and homogenous).

    While dates are soaking, whisk baking powder, salt, and remaining 2 cups flour in a medium bowl.

    Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat brown sugar, fresh ginger, and remaining ½ cup butter in a large bowl until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating to blend after each addition before adding the next.  

     Then alternating, add dry ingredients and date mixture in 2 additions each, starting with dry ingredients and ending with date mixture. Fold in crystallized ginger. Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth surface.  

    Bake cake until top is firm and springs back when gently pressed with your fingers and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 35–45 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack set inside a rimmed baking sheet. Let cake cool in pan 10 minutes before turning out onto rack, then let cool another 20 minutes (cake should still be warm).

      
    Toffee Sauce And Assembly

    Bring brown sugar, cream, butter, salt, and 2 Tbsp. water to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring to melt butter. Cook, stirring, until mixture is thick enough to coat a spoon, 5–8 minutes. Let cool slightly.

      
    Poke holes all over warm cake with a toothpick. Wipe out Bundt pan; pour a third of sauce into pan. Carefully invert cake back into pan. Poke holes in bottom of cake and pour more sauce over. Let sit until cake absorbs sauce, 15–20 minutes.

    Turn cake out onto rack (it may not come out at first but will eventually release) and sprinkle with demerara sugar. Serve cake with remaining toffee sauce. If the sauce has cooled by the time you’re ready to serve, gently reheat just to warm through.

      
    Do Ahead: Cake can be made 1 day ahead; store tightly covered at room temperature. Cover and chill leftover sauce. Gently reheat before serving.

    Chicken Pot Pie

    Chicken pot pie is on the list of ultimate comfort foods in my opinion, my husband and I both have memories of the frozen variety from our youth. I recall thinking that they could have been better, my husband’s memories are less favorable; when I first made them several years ago, he was concerned for the outcome. I can no longer recall what, if any, modifications I made. My sister had given me a gift of a subscription of Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food, some recipes were good as written, others were simple and needed “tweaking”.

    (I’ll offer a brief interlude of thanks here to my grandmother whose birthday would have been this past week. My mother has told me that she could also look a a recipe and fix it before making it. I was looking through a few of her recipes that I have of hers this week and I can see her notes on them, similar to my own. I didn’t recognize where the gift came from until my mother told me, and I would love to go back and thank her.)

    Back to the pot pie…


    As with many of my recipes, it is not difficult, but it does take a bit of time. I have used a variety of types of cooked chicken from leftovers as well as making chicken to use in the pot pies. Sunday I shredded a rotisserie chicken; your selection will modify the flavor slightly, but not negatively.

    Before I started the pot pies, I made the Irish Beef Stew for Thursday’s dinner, as I haven’t made that previously I’ll have to taste it before I write about it.

    My in-laws are wintering in Florida and my boys have explained that their absence does not mean that salads can be omitted from Sunday dinner so, I also made an Asian Spinach Salad with Orange and Avocado, the key is a very sweet orange. The ginger and shallot mix is not for the faint of heart (or those prone to heartburn); a ginger sesame dressing would stand in well.


    I also wrapped up the meal with one of my favorite cakes. I like cakes a lot, but I’m not a particular fan of those that are covered in sticky sweet frosting. This is beyond simple and requires no frosting; the berries and and sugar form a perfect topping. My second reason for putting this high on the list is how easy it is; aside from softening the butter this goes from ingredients to the pan within 15 minutes. Last the raspberries always remind me of picking rasperries as a child, wandering through the brambles, trying to avoid the thorns;  the sweetness was always the perfect reward. Yesterday I made it with blackberries instead of raspberries; they just looked better when I was at the market.


    Chicken Pot Pie

    Prep 35 minutes ∙ Cook 45 minutes ∙ Makes 6 pies ∙ Difficulty Easy ∙ Source Everyday Food | October 2009

    INGREDIENTS

    • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter
    • 1 onion, medium, diced
    • 1 carrot, large, diced
    • ½ cup all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
    • coarse salt and ground pepper
    • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
    • 3 cups chicken, cooked, cut into 1″ pieces or shredded (~1 pound)
    • 1 cup frozen peas
    • 1½ tsp thyme leaves, fresh, chopped
    • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
    • 1 large egg yolk

    DIRECTIONS

    In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium. Add onion and carrot and cook until onion softens, about 6 minutes. Add flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt; cook, stirring frequently, until mixture is pale golden, has a slightly nutty aroma, and is the texture of cooked oatmeal, about 5 minutes.


     Whisking constantly, add broth. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently, until mixture thickens, about 8 minutes. Reduce to a simmer and cook 10 minutes. Stir in chicken, peas, and thyme; season with salt and pepper. Divide mixture among six 12-ounce baking dishes; refrigerate until room temperature, about 15-20 minutes.


      
    Preheat oven to 375 degrees. On a lightly floured work surface, roll pastry to an 1/8-inch thickness. Cut into 6 rounds, ½ inch larger than dishes; with the tip of a sharp knife, cut vents into pastry. In a small bowl, lightly beat egg yolk with 1 teaspoon water; top potpies with pastry and brush with egg wash. Bake until pastry is deep golden and juices are bubbling, about 35 minutes.



    Asian Spinach Salad with Orange and Avocado
    Makes 4 servings ∙ Source Epicurious.com
    INGREDIENTS

    • 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
    • 2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
    • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
    • 2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
    • ¼ teaspoon (generous) Asian sesame oil
    • 1 navel orange
    • 6 ounces baby spinach leaves
    • 1 avocado, halved, pitted, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch wedges

    DIRECTIONS

    Whisk first 5 ingredients in large bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set dressing aside.

    Cut off peel and white pith from orange. Cut orange into 1/3-inch rounds; cut rounds crosswise in half. Add spinach to dressing; toss to coat. Add avocado and orange; toss gently.

    Raspberry Buttermilk Cake

    Cook 25-30 minutes ∙ Makes Makes 6 Servings ∙ Difficulty Easy ∙ Source Gourmet | June 2009
    INGREDIENTS

    • 1 cup all purpose flour
    • ½ tsp baking powder
    • ½ tsp baking soda
    • ¼ tsp salt
    • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
    • ⅔ cup sugar
    • 1½ Tbsp sugar
    • ½ tsp vanilla extract
    • 1 large egg
    • ½ cup buttermilk, well shaken
    • 1 cup raspberries, fresh (about 5 ounces)

    DIRECTIONS

    Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in middle. Butter and flour a 9″ round cake pan.

    Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

    Beat butter and ⅔ cup sugar with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes, then beat in vanilla. Add egg and beat well.

    At low speed, mix in flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour, and mixing until just combined.

    Spoon batter into cake pan, smoothing top. Scatter raspberries evenly over top and sprinkle with remaining 1½ tablespoons sugar.

    Bake until cake is golden and a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, 25-30 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack and cool to warm, 10-15 minutes more. Invert onto a plate.

    NOTES

    Delicious when served warm with vanilla ice cream

    Skirt Steak with white wine?

    Well, I managed to get everything on the list done yesterday, it was 10: 30 when I finished breaking down the pork shoulder, but it was done and the scraps went out in the garbage, whew.

    This evening I tried two new recipes. The first, was a skirt steak, not marinated, not grilled. It was simple enought for a weeknight meal, even though it carried the Sunday dinner. Skirt steak is a long thin steak commonly used for fajitas; it has a thin, opaque membrane on one side which should be removed (omission of this step yields a very tough cut of meat). All recipes that I have for skirt steak call for it to be marinated; this recipe called for the steak to be seasoned with salt and pepper and then seared to medium rare. The recipe below reflects the minor changes I made,

    • I used olive oil rather than vegetable oil
    • I increased the steak from  12 oz. to 2 lbs. (have you seen teenagers eat?)
    • I doubled the other ingredients to accomodate the increased amount of steak
    • I used “normal-sized” shallots rather than small ones

    Skirt Steak with Shallot Pan Sauce

    makes 6-8  ∙ difficulty Easy ∙ source Bon Appétit | January 2015
    INGREDIENTS

    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 2 lbs. skirt steak, cut crosswise into pieces 6-8″ long
    • Kosher salt
    • freshly ground black pepper
    • 2 shallots, finely chopped
    • 2 teaspoon mustard seeds
    • 8 sprigs thyme
    • 1 cup dry white wine
    • 1 cup water
    • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
    • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

    DIRECTIONS

    Heat oil in a large stainless-steel or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Season steak with salt and pepper and cook, turning occasionally, until deeply browned and an instant-read thermometer registers 130° (for medium-rare), 8–10 minutes. Transfer steak to a cutting board and let rest at least 10 minutes before slicing.

    Reduce heat to medium and cook shallot and mustard seeds in residual fat, stirring occasionally, until shallot is softened and mustard seeds are toasted, about 4 minutes. Add thyme sprigs, wine, lemon zest, and water, using a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits. Cook, swirling pan occasionally, until liquid is reduced by about half, about 5 minutes. Add butter, swirling pan to melt; season pan sauce with salt and pepper.

    Thinly slice steak against the grain and serve with pan sauce for spooning over. 

    My last change was more preferential than an actual edit, I poured the sauce right over in it the serving dish rather than set it on the side. I create enough dishes while cooking, another isn’t really necessary.

    Sunday dinner has to have a vegetable, I opted for green beans with mushrooms. Green beans and I have a strange history, I had a special hate for them until I was almost 20. My mother gardened, and with her bounty of vegetables and fruit she canned and froze them the way she was taught by her mother. I honestly had no clue that green beans were ever served not canned; while she loves them, I do not. However she did teach me well, I discovered sautéed green beans with my future in-laws. She had made them one of the first dinners that I ate at their home, I couldn’t say that I didn’t like them, it would be insulting; as a guest my only option was to eat them and smile. I’m still happy I was raised correctly, they were wonderful and remain a regular vegetable in our house, and yesterday I served them with cremini mushrooms. I don’t really have a recipe for green beans, I snap the ends, par boil them in salted water for 3 minutes and then drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. I then wash the mushrooms, trim the stems, and cut in half if they are large. The mushrooms are seasoned with black pepper and sautéed over medium-high heat so they get golden brown, I then add the beans, season the entire dish with salt and pepper, and sauté for about 3 minutes so that the beans are hot but still crisp. (Don’t add salt with the mushrooms, they will sweat and you won’t get that golden exterior.)


    And Sunday dinner must have dessert; a recipe from epicurious caught my eye. I was again hesitant, but based on the ingredients I decided that the three reviews of the recipe must be wrong. They said it was horribly dry. They were VERY wrong, it’s perfect. Just be gentle when you fold so that you don’t collapse your egg whites. I served it with 2 gelatos, sea salt caramel and blueberry. The blueberry was the better match, it brought out the lemon.

    Torta di Ricotta e Polenta

    makes 8 servings ∙ source Epicurious.com

    INGREDIENTS

    • 1/2 cup butter
    • 1/2 cup clear honey (preferably unheated)
    • Finely grated zest of 3 lemons
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground vanilla powder or vanilla extract
    • 4 eggs, separated
    • 1¼ cups almond flour (or 1¼ cups almonds, blitzed into flour)
    • 1 cup polenta
    • 1 cup ricotta, generous
    • ½ cup flaked (slivered) almonds

    DIRECTIONS

    Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line the base of an 8-inch springform tin with baking parchment and set aside.

    Place the butter, half of the honey, the lemon zest and vanilla in a bowl and use an electric mixer to beat everything until creamy. Add the egg yolks and continue to beat for a further minute. Add the almond flour, polenta and ricotta and fold everything together.

    Whisk the egg whites in a separate bowl until softly peaking in a separate bowl. Add the remaining honey and continue whisking until peaking again and well blended.

    Slowly fold the egg whites into the cake mixture. Turn the mixture into the prepared cake tin and sprinkle the flaked almonds evenly over the top. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The center of the cake might look slightly wobbly at first, but it will firm up when the cake cools down. Leave to cool completely before removing it from the tin.

    NOTES

    Served with a blueberry gelato. In the convection oven, I used convection bake set to 300 for 40 minutes.