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


  • 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


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



  • 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


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


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


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


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.


No Recipe Grill

We spent Father’s Day at my in-laws playing in the pool. Knowing this was the plan I did a quick trip to the grocery store for grillables. I was planning on surf and turf with shrimp and flank steak, but whole beef tenderloin was cheaper per pound so I decided on that instead. I made coarse cubes with all of the trimmings and froze several 4-6 ounce filets. The trimmings I seasoned with olive oil, salt, and pepper. The shrimp went into a separate bowl with juice of 2 limes, a couple cloves of garlic, ~⅓ of a seeded Serrano, and olive oil.

Before cooking I shucked the corn and put olive oil, salt, and pepper on green onions, zucchini, and potatoes.

The potatoes went in the grill first over high heat for about 20 minutes.

Once the potatoes were tender I moved those up and put the zucchini and corn on the grill.

With good grill marks on the zucchini I pulled off the veggies and put on the proteins.

They only took about 5 minutes; and the onions that I added last only took 2.

Earlier in the day I made a herbed garlic olive oil; when the oil is hot I added a couple of smashed cloves of garlic and cooked it until golden, then I removed it from the heat and added chopped basil, mint, and chives.

I grilled pita bread just to get grill marks and then brushed them with the oil and ground on coarse salt.

Perfect dinner.

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there.

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


  • 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


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


  • 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.


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


  • 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


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. 


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.



Low Country Boil

My sister asked me about this recipe today so I thought I would share. This was our Labor Day feast in September. It serves a crowd so scale it back if you are a smaller group. We used the burner for a turkey fryer and a large pot to make it work; definitely something you want to cook outside when the weather is nice enough to to not cool your pan as you cook. 

Low Country Boil

Prep 25 minutes ∙ Cook 1 hr 30 mins ∙ Makes 10-12 ∙ Difficulty Medium ∙ Source Shannon Stacey


  • 1 large sweet yellow onion, cut in half and then in wedges
  • 6 cloves garlic heads
  • 4 thyme sprigs
  • 3 fresh bay leaves
  • Black pepper, freshly ground
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 4-6 bottles lager or brown beer (just to cover potatoes)
  • 2 pounds baby redskin potatoes
  • ½ cup chives, thinly sliced
  • 2½ pounds andouille sausage, cut into 3-inch pieces
  • 6-8 ears corn, shucked and cut in half
  • 1 cup parsley, roughly chopped
  • 40-48 littleneck clams (4/person), scrubbed and rinsed
  • ½ cup thinly sliced (about 3) scallions, green and white parts
  • 2 pounds large shrimp
  • 1-2 tsp. Old Bay seasoning (stir into raw shrimp)


In a very large stockpot, stir together the potatoes, onions, chives, bay leaves, thyme, garlic, salt, and pepper and cover with the beer. Cover the pot and heat to a boil and then simmer until the potatoes are almost tender, 20 to 30 minutes depending on the size.

Add the sausage, nestling each piece into the broth. Top with the clams and green onions, then the corn with the parsley. Cover and cook until the clams begin to open, 15-20 minutes. 5 minutes after adding the clams, add the shrimp. Remove from heat when the clams have opened and the shrimp are done.

Serve with grilled garlic-buttered sourdough bread.


Not Your Ordinary Saltimbocca

My first comment is that everyone should go get the Essential New York Times Cookbook Classical Recipes for a New Century by Amanda Hesser, copyright 2010. Each time I go to this cookbook it’s a success.

On a regular basis, my husband tells me that I should consider easier options for Sunday dinner so that I can enjoy the day and not be chained to the kitchen. The simple answer is that I do enjoy a day I get to spend in the kitchen. Today however was almost 70, sunny, in Michigan, in November and enjoying  some if it outside was high on my list of things to do. So I pulled out this cookbook knowing that within its pages of over 1000 recipes I would find what I was looking for. I flipped to the the section Beef, Veal, Lamb, and Pork and began to read. I considered a few different options, stews that I wouldn’t have to watch, I had Beef Burgandy or Stroganoff in my head, and then I landed on the Saltimbocca recipe, with the proscuitto nestled inside the veal.

I continued my reading and proceed onto the recommended pairings, she recommended a few different items, I had potatoes and a vegetable so that’s where I headed in the book, both also simple. The author also recommended panna cotta for dessert, I recalled that in the intro she mentioned that this cookbook contained the best Panna Cotta she had ever tasted, a bit of flipping and I confirmed that this was indeed the one she was referring to, with buttermilk as a main ingredient.

All of the recipes were as easy as promised. I made the panna cotta first, when I got home from the grocery store, I started at 1, it was in ramekins in the fridge by 2.

I then relaxed, read outside, did a few other Sunday tasks, but overall enjoyed my afternoon. At 5 I got my ingredients for dinner out, and began the potatoes, once those were in the pan, I started on the zucchini. At 5:40 the oven was preheated and the potatoes went in. The zucchini only took a few minutes longer to prep and I set it off to the side. I pounded out the veal and folded in he proscuitto as described; I set those off to the side as well. At 6:35, I put the zucchini in the oven, and then at 6:45, I began the veal cooking it in batches so as not to crowd the skillet.

Everything was done at 7, and we started the meal with a goat cheese, dried cherry, and pear salad from my MIL (perfect as always).

The meal was perfect, each item exactly as promised.

Nesting the proscuitto inside the veal protects it from the skillet and still keeps the veal moist. The sage adds a subtle touch of flavor.


prep 15 mins ∙ cook 10 min ∙ makes 4 servings ∙ difficulty Medium ∙ source Essential New York Times Cookbook | Amanda Hesser | 2010 – page 561


  • 4 thin slices proscuitto
  • 4 small veal cutlets, pounded very thin
  • 1½ tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 sage leaves
  • Sea salt
  • Splash of dry white wine

1. Place 2 pieces of prosciutto on each piece of veal so they hang over the ends and overlap in the middle. Fold each piece of veal in half, securing it wit toothpicks in 2 places.

2. Heat the butter and olive oil in a medium non-stick pan until foamy. Add the veal packages and sage leaves, and cook for about 1 minute on each side, turning once, until slightly brown. Season with salt as the packages cook, and sprinkle white wine into the pan as they finish. Discard sage and serve.


Heat the oil and butter over medium heat.

These are perfectly crispy, I added extra garlic since we love it. I used a large cookie sheet rather than a roasting pan.

Italian Roasted Potatoes

prep 20 mintues ∙ cook 1 hour 15 mintues ∙ makes 6 servings ∙ difficulty Easy ∙ source Essential New York Times Cookbook | Amanda Hesser | 2010 – page 300


  • 2½ pounds waxy potatoes (about 6 medium), scrubbed and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 12 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • Salt

1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Combine potatoes, garlic, oregano, and oil in a large roasting pan. Stir until potatoes are well-coated, and spread them evenly in pan.

2. Place in the oven, and roast until the potatoes are golden brown and crisp, 1 to 1¼ hours. (If the potatoes are crowded in the pan, they will take longer to crisp.)

3. Remove potatoes and garlic from oven, and transfer to serving dish. Sprinkle with salt to taste, and serve immediately.

Use a coarse sea salt at the end.

This recipe was the only recipe that concerned me, I knew the flavor would be good, and the recipe notes assured me it would not be mush, but…  As you can see from the nip ages I could not find baby zucchini, only small, so I also cut them in half. My only edit would be to reduce the olive oil to ¼ cup.

Baked Zucchini with Herbs and Tomatoes

prep 20 minutes ∙ cook 20 minutes ∙ makes 6 servings ∙ difficulty Easy ∙ source Essential New York Times Cookbook | Amanda Hesser | 2010 – page 250


  • 10 firm baby zucchini, or 5 small zucchini, sliced lengthwise into ¼-inch-thick sticks
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 scallions, white part only, thinly sliced
  • Leaves from 3 inner stalks celery
  • 6 basil leaves
  • About ¼ cup flour
  • 2 whole ripe plum tomatoes, cored and coarsely chopped
  • Sea salt
  • ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine zucchini, onion, and scallions in a colander. Tear celery and basil leaves into small pieces and sprinkle on top. Sprinkle flour over all. Using one hand, press and toss ingredients together until well mixed and coated (it will get a little moist, but not gooey). Add tomatoes, season with salt and toss once more.

2. Pour half the olive oil into a medium baking dish or ceramic pie plate. Fill dish with zucchini mixture, then grind pepper over top. Sprinkle remaining oil on top, and bake for about 20 minutes, or until ingredients are just cooked but still firm.

Although Amanda recommended a blueberry sauce, I opted for blackberries, I described both options in the notes.

Panna Cotta

cook 15 minutes ∙ makes 6 servings ∙ difficulty Medium ∙ source Essential New York Times Cookbook | Amanda Hesser | 2010 – page 840


  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cold water
  • 1 package powdered gelatin
  • 1⅔ cups buttermilk
  • ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Fresh fruit for garnish

1. Place the cream and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves, about 7 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, place the water in a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over it. Let stand for 5 minutes.

3. Stir the gelatin into the warm cream until dissolved. Stir in the buttermilk and salt and remove from heat.

4. Ladle the mixture into six 6-ounce ramekins. Refrigerate, loosely covered, until set, at least 2 hours.

5. To serve, run the tip of a small knife around the edge of the ramekins to loosen the panna cotta, and unmold onto individual plates.

6. Let stand until almost at room temperature, about 1 hour. Surround with fruit and serve.

From the cookbook:

To unfold, dip the ramekins in a bowl of hot water for 30 seconds then dry the bottoms of the ramekins before inverting onto serving plates and tapping out the panna cotta.

For serving, I brought, ½ cup sugar and ½ cup water to a boil in a small saucepan, added 1 cup blueberries and 1 star anise pod, turned off the heat, and let the mixture steep 20 minutes (remove the star anise before serving the sauce).
My notes:

For serving, I set 24 blackberries aside and brought the remainder to a boil in a small saucepan with 3 tbsp. sugar and 3 tbsp. water and let them boil until the berries were soft. I remove it from the heat and crushed the berries. Just prior to serving I stirred in the remaining fresh berries.


Labor Day and into the week

Labor Day itself was classicly simple: burgers, salad, and a side of pasta. Again I believe in easy, possibly oddly this includes leftovers. I have heard many utter the phrase “I hate leftovers”; I love them. No, I don’t think anyone should eat the same thing over and over again. (I get shivers when I hear someone say I made a big batch of “fill in the blank” so we could eat it all week long; YUK!) I love them because they are an opportunity to save time and be creative.

As mentioned, Monday was simple, my boys did little of anything with school looming, the highlight was a good friend of my youngest coming over and cleaning out his closet so that he would be well-dressed in high school. Late last week I made a house favorite for dinner, Tortellini with Pesto (nut-free), since it is just as good cold as hot I made extra, this was our pasta side to accompany a package of organic mixed greens and Spicy Shrimp, Bacon Burgers. I tossed my 2 lbs. of ground chuck into my mixing bowl with salt & pepper, a finely chopped jalapeño, chopped leftover bacon (about 5 slices), and the leftover shrimp from the Low Country Boil (coarsely chopped). I shaped them into 1/3 lb. burgers and cooked to medium rare with a chipotle gouda on top. For the non-pork eating friend, I made a single burger with chopped spinach, feta, jalapeño, and salt & pepper.

Tuesday continued the leftover trend with a meal of barbeque chicken, Cajun potato salad, and Southwestern sauté. Also from the Low Country Boil, I had a leftover andouille, pototoes, and corn (the clams seemed to vanish) so I looked through and found the Cajun potato salad and my own list of recipes in Paprika holds the Southwestern sauté. While I have included both below as if they were being made from scratch, I did simply cube the potatoes and andouille and cut the corn off of the cob.

And I haven’t forgotten the barbeque chicken, the rub is good on any bone in chicken destined for barbeque and we disvovered this sauce while on vacation in Florida last year.

I may need stock in this company – it’s another empty bottle..

If you haven’t guessed the leftover trick, turn it into something new, use it as an ingredient.

Tortellini with Pesto

cook 10 minutes ∙ makes 4 ∙ difficulty Easy


  • 2 cups basil leaves, fresh, packed
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup Parmesan, freshly shredded
  • salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 1½ pounds tortellini, cooked


In a food processor, pulse the basil and garlic until roughly chopped. With the machine on, slowly pour in the oil until just blended. Stir in cheese, salt, and pepper and mix until just blended.

Toss the pesto into cooked tortellini.

This can be served warm, at room temperature, or cold.

Cajun Potato Salad with Andouille Sausage

makes 6 to 8 ∙ source Bon Appétit | July 1999


  • 1 tablespoon plus ⅛ cup olive oil
  • 8 ounces andouille sausages or hot links, cut lengthwise in half, then crosswise into ½-inch pieces
  • 3 pounds red-skinned potatoes, peeled, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon hot pepper sauce
  • 1 tablespoon whole grain Dijon mustard
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • ⅔ cup sliced green onions


Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausages; sauté until brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to paper towels and drain.

Bring large pot of salted water to boil. Add potatoes; cook just until tender, stirring occasionally, about 9 minutes. Drain well. Whisk vinegar, pepper sauce and mustard in large bowl. Transfer warm potatoes to bowl with vinegar mixture and gently toss. Gently mix in sausages, bell pepper, celery, green onions, and 1/8 cup olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Southwest Summer Corn Saute

prep 15 minutes ∙ cook 7 minutes ∙ serves 4-6


  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ¼ teaspoon rubbed sage
  • ¼ teaspoon chili powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 1 small poblano chili, finely diced
  • ¾ cup sweet corn kernels
  • 1 small zucchini, finely diced
  • 1 cup canned hominy, drained (or full can if you don’t have another use)
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro leaves, minced


Melt the butter with the sage, chili powder and salt in a large nonstick skillet over high heat. Add the onion and poblano chili. Cook and stir until the onion begins to soften at the edges, 4 to 5 minutes.

Add the corn, zucchini, and hominy. Cook over high heat until hot, 1 minute. Add green onions, cilantro and additional salt to taste. Serve hot.

Barbecued Chicken


  • 3-4 pounds chicken, cut in pieces (with skin and bones)
  • 2 tablespoons 4-3-2-1 Spice Rub
  • Barbeque sauce

4-3-2-1 Spice Rub (source Bon Appétit | July 2013)

  • 4 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 3 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp sweet paprika
  • 1 Tbsp cayenne pepper

Makes enough spice rub for two whole chickens. Double or triple the recipe and use it all summer.


For chicken:

Prepare grill for medium heat. Season chicken with 4-3-2-1 Spice Rub. Grill, turning occasionally, until lightly charred, 15-20 minutes. Continue grilling, turning and basting with barbecue sauce often, until chicken is cooked through and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 165°F, 8-10 minutes longer.