Dinner at Northern Spy Food Co.

Trout with Cranberry Beans & Broccoli_Northern Spy Food Co.

I’ve decided to mix things up a bit this year, and include more in this blog about my food ventures in New York and beyond…

Last night, I met up with a good friend of mine for dinner at Northern Spy Food Co.  Northern Spy has been on my restaurant list for over 2 years.  Yes, TWO YEARS! I know, it’s ridiculous.  I do this all the time.  In fact, my friend and I were discussing last night how we make an effort with certain people to try new restaurants and be adventurous, while with other friends and family we make a concerted effort to take them only to “tried and true” favorites.  I suppose we both fear letting people down, choosing a restaurant with the wrong ambiance and space, etc. etc.  In this case, the mere location of the restaurant was somewhat of a deterrent. After all, it is between Avenue A and B on the Lower East Side in Manhattan, which if you know Manhattan at all, is a good mile (or what feels like a mile) from any useful subway line.  I love walking in the City, but if I so much as hear the word “Avenue A” (or god forbid Avenue B or C), I question the necessity of the trip. Thankfully for my friend and I, we failed to notice the exact location of Northern Spy until it was too late to change our plans (and like I said before, it had been on my short list for 2 years).

Picked Eggs_Northern Spy Food Co.

Moving on to the food… We started our meal by sharing an order of pickled eggs with aioli. I have actually never had pickled eggs before, but these were cooked perfectly, garnished with pickled onion, and when paired with the creamy aioli (which tasted more like a very thin creme fraiche than an aioli to me), delicious. We also shared a kale salad with delicata squash, pecorino, cheddar, and toasted almonds. As my friend wisely noted “I’m getting sick of Kale”. However, this kale salad (which I should note Northern Spy is known for) was great. The roasted squash added sweetness, the almonds some crunch, and the cheese the perfect amount of salt. Combining cheddar and pecorino in one salad stuck me as odd originally, but somehow this worked.

For my main course I ordered what the menu described as Trout with broccoli, cranberry beans, and dill. What I received was in fact smoked trout. It was very delicate, almost reminiscent of olive-oil poached fish, and it had just the right amount of smoke. The sauce that the fish rested in was a vibrant green, and the cranberry beans a welcome sight in the dead of winter. We skipped dessert, but I would definitely come back…if only it weren’t on Avenue A!

Happy Cooking,
Pippa

Linguine with Lemon Cream, Fava Beans & Savoy Cabbage

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I’m back! It’s been a busy 6 months since I last posted. My family survived two weddings, one on each coast (one of them was mine!), and we enjoyed a food-filled Christmas and New Year. After indulging in a few too many (okay, more than just a few) desserts and rich meals over the holidays, I was craving a veggie-heavy (meat-light) dinner this weekend.

I was fixated on making pasta with a lemon cream sauce, and the following recipe is the result. The lemon sauce just barely coats the pasta, almost like Spaghetti alla Carbonara. It tastes slightly decadent, without overpowering the fava beans or the pasta itself. It’s actually more suitable for spring than winter, but with temperatures near 60 degrees this past weekend, it felt appropriate. I’ll be back to make it again when spring eventually does come around in New York!

Happy Cooking,
Pippa

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Linguine with Lemon Cream, Fava Beans & Savoy Cabbage
Serves 4-5

Notes: I am lucky enough to live a block away from an Italian specialty grocery store that carries frozen, shelled fava beans, but if you can’t find fava beans you can always substitute them for frozen peas or asparagus. There is a scant amount of pancetta in this pasta, which can be replaced with bacon, or even omitted entirely. Additionally, the sage, basil, and parsley can be swapped out for any number of fresh herbs, but I really enjoyed this combination. Just make sure to use a light hand when it comes to the sage, as it can become overpowering. And finally, cabbage might seem odd in this recipe, but it becomes deliciously sweet after being sautéed with the shallots and cooked in white wine, broth, and cream. Try to find Savoy cabbage if possible, as it has thinner, more delicate leaves.

8 ounces dry linguine
8 ounces fresh or frozen shelled green fava beans (frozen peas can be substituted here)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
3 ounces pancetta, diced into small ¼ inch cubes
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 medium shallot, finely diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
½ head of a medium-sized savoy cabbage, core removed and shredded
¼ cup dry white wine
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
Zest of 1 lemon
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
4 fresh sage leaves, finely minced
1/3 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely minced
½ cup fresh basil leaves, finely minced

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil
  2. When the water boils, add the fava beans and cook until just tender. Using a slotted spoon or sieve, remove the fava beans and drain. Set aside for later. Bring the water back to a boil for the pasta.
  3. Place a large sauté pan over low heat. Add one tablespoon of extra virgin olive and the pancetta and cook over low to medium heat until the pancetta has rendered its fat and begins to crisp up and caramelize [make sure not to burn the pancetta, but to cook it slowly so that the fat has time to render out]
  4. Add one tablespoon of butter, the minced shallot and garlic, and cook for an additional 5 minutes over low heat, or until the shallot is soft and translucent.
  5. Add the shredded cabbage and increase the heat to medium. Sauté for 5 minutes or until the cabbage begins to wilt.
  6. Add the wine and reduce completely until all of the liquid has evaporated.
  7. Combine the cream and lemon zest in a small measuring cup or bowl and reserve.
  8. Add the chicken broth to the cabbage mixture and bring to a simmer. Continue to cook over medium heat for an additional 10 minutes or until the cabbage is very tender and cooked through.
  9. Add the cooked fava beans and cream and simmer for an additional 5 minutes, or until the sauce has reduced slightly.
  10. While the cream sauce is simmering, bring the pot of salted water back to a boil and add the linguine to the boiling water. Stir once to make sure that the pasta does not stick together and then cook according to the instructions on the package until al dente. Reserve a ½ cup of the pasta water and add to the vegetables and cream sauce. Season lightly with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  11. Strain the pasta. Using the same pot in which you cooked the pasta, add one tablespoon of olive oil and the pasta, tossing lightly to combine.
  12. Pour the sauce, fresh herbs, and 1/3 cup of Parmigiano Reggiano into the pot with the linguine and toss well until combined.
  13. Serve immediately with extra Parmigiano Reggiano for garnish and freshly ground black pepper.

Gina de Palma’s Almond Olive Cake

I actually never meant to blog about this cake. It came about in part because of boredom, in part because I hadn’t baked anything in quite a long time, and in part because Brian has developed quite the predilection for almond cakes ever since he sampled a piece (actually probably more like 4 or 5 pieces) of buttery almond cake at our neighborhood Italian grocery store a year ago.

As I perused my cookbooks, old magazines, the Internet, and various other sources of inspiration this weekend, I came across Gina de Palma’s recipe for an almond cake that is made with olive oil instead of butter. Gina de Palma is the pastry chef at Babbo, one of our favorite Italian restaurants in New York City (just thinking about it makes me salivate, especially the thought of their mint love letter ravioli…).  The desserts at Babbo are also worth ordering and definitely worth the extra calories (and that is on top of the thousands of calories that you already consumed eating the beef cheek ravioli, which arrive at the table plump and oozing with rich meat, squab liver and the essence of black truffles. These are also worth getting by the way.) Oh, and I probably should have mentioned that Babbo isn’t your typical red-sauce Italian restaurant—it’s a rare treat that can only be enjoyed after painstakingly hitting the redial button on your phone for 45 minutes (exactly 30 days prior to the day that you want to reserve a table) in hopes that you will eventually get through to the reservationist, who will most likely offer you two equally dismal times of 5:30pm or 10:30pm (take the 5:30pm table, just trust me).

Enough about Babbo, let’s move on to this cake, which is truly one of the best cakes that I have ever made, and that is saying a lot. It’s everything that a cake should be—moist, sweet but not too sweet, tender, and most importantly, delicious.  In fact, I am warning you, once you start eating this cake you may not be able to stop. It took a massive effort for me to restrain myself from taking a second slice.

This cake would be great even without the glaze, but I implore you to make it. The brown butter adds wonderful depth and nuttiness to the glaze, and it compliments the citrusy cake beautifully. The slivers of almond also contribute great textural contrast.

I barely adapted this recipe, so all of the credit should go to Gina de Palma. However, I did make a few minor modifications, which you may or may not want to follow. To begin with, I increased the amount of vanilla extract to a half-teaspoon and the amount of almond extract to a scant full teaspoon. I also ran out of fresh orange juice (I only had one orange), so I add the juice of half a lemon and some skim milk until I reached the full half-cup of liquid that the recipe called for.

Now, on to the recipe because you should really make this immediately, or at least in the near future and I don’t want to delay you any longer.

Happy Cooking,
Pippa

Almond Olive Oil Cake
Serves 6 to 8
Adapted slightly from pastry chef Gina de Palma of Babbo via Serious Eats

Ingredients:

For the cake:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup almond flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup orange juice (or juice of 1 medium orange, juice of ½ a lemon, and ¼ cup milk—or enough liquid to equal ½ cup)
  • Zest of ½ medium orange
  • Zest of 1 lemon

For the glaze:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar, sifted
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • A few drops of lemon juice
  • ½ cup sliced blanched almonds, toasted and cooled

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and place rack in the middle of the oven.
  2. Butter an 8-inch round cake pan or a springform pan and reserve for later.
  3. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, almond flour, baking powder, and salt.
  4. Crack the eggs into a large mixing bowl and whisk lightly until the yolks are broken up completely. Add the sugar and whisk briskly for approximately 30 seconds. Slowly add the olive oil and whisk until all of the ingredients are combined and the mixture begins to thicken slightly. Whisk in the orange juice (and lemon juice and milk if using), zest, and extracts.
  5. Add the dry ingredients and whisk lightly until the batter is smooth and homogenous.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until a cake taster inserted into the thickest part of the cake comes out clean.
  7. Allow cake to cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes and then carefully invert the cake out of the pan and allow to cool completely on the rack.
  8. While the cake is cooling, heat a small saucepan (not non-stick if possible) over medium heat. Add the butter and swirl the butter around in the pan, carefully, until the solids begin to turn a light tan/golden color (do not overcook). Remove the pan from the heat. The solids will continue to darken slightly as the butter cools.
  9. While the butter is cooling, whisk together the confectioners sugar and milk in a medium sized bowl. Add the cooled butter slowly, whisking continuously until the glaze is smooth.
  10. Add a few drops of lemon juice, taste, and add more as necessary to balance the sweetness of the glaze. Stir in the toasted and cooled slivered almonds.
  11. When the cake has cooled, place it on a large serving plate and spread the glaze on the top and sides of the cake. (The glaze may be a touch liquidy, which is fine, just allow the glaze to drizzle down the sides of the cake). Allow the glaze to cool and harden.
  12. Serve the cake either on its own, or with slightly sweetened whipped cream or berries.

Potato & Leek Soup

I adore Potato & Leek Soup, or Vichyssoise as the French refer to it. Vichyssoise is typically served chilled, but in the winter or on a rainy Spring day, I prefer to eat it piping hot with some fresh bread. There is nothing fancy about this recipe; it is incredibly simple but also delicious and comforting. Don’t even try to substitute leeks for onions here, because it just won’t taste the same. Leeks have a much sweeter and slightly more complex taste in my opinion. Typically this soup has heavy cream in it, but I prefer to make a lighter version because I find that the potatoes add plenty of creaminess without the need for extra fat.

Soups like this, with only six ingredients (not including the salt and pepper) remind me of why good quality and fresh ingredients are so important. The flavor of this soup far exceeds what you would expect from these humble ingredients.

Happy Cooking,
Pippa

Potato & Leek Soup
Serves 5-6 as an entree, or 8 as a first course

Ingredients

  • 3 large leeks (split lengthwise, soaked, and rinsed in cold water to remove the dirt). Chop only the white and pale green parts into thin slices.
  • 3 medium sized Yukon gold potatoes, cleaned, peeled, and cut into ½ inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves (or 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves)
  • 2 tablespoons half & half or heavy cream
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions:

  1. Heat a large soup pot or large enameled-cast iron Dutch Oven over low heat on the stove.
  2. Add the butter and leeks and sweat the leeks over low heat for 10-15 minutes, or until translucent.
  3. Add the potatoes, broth, and thyme and bring the mixture to a simmer.
  4. Simmer over low heat for 20 minutes, or until potatoes are cooked through. Remove from the heat.
  5. Using an immersion blender or regular blender, puree the soup (you can make the soup as smooth or as chunky as you like!)
  6. Add the half & half (you can use more or less depending on how creamy you like your soup) and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Serve immediately or refrigerate and serve chilled.

Serving suggestions: This soup is a meal in itself when served with some nice hearty bread, cheese (I like cheddar or stilton with this soup), and a simple salad. Alternatively, this soup would make a great first course, served either warm or chilled.

Pulled Pork Arepas with Red Cabbage Slaw

For years I have been intrigued by the thought of making my own tortillas, tamales, or arepas, but until now I had never taken the plunge. When I saw this recipe in Food & Wine, I was determined to make it at home as soon as possible. As soon as possible turned into a few months, but I’m not complaining, I’m just happy that I finally achieved my goal. And more importantly, I am happy to report that my first attempt at cooking with masa harina (very finely ground corn flour) was a success! These arepas were delicious, and I can’t wait to make them again and to experiment with the filling, maybe substituting the pork for beans?!

When I initially considered making these arepas, I assumed that I would substitute the pulled pork for shredded chicken (because who, after all, has 6 consecutive hours to cook an entire pork shoulder? And more importantly, how could I possibly fit enough people into my small apartment to eat that entire pork shoulder?). In what was certainly a sign of divine intervention, Fresh Direct was promoting its all-natural Berkshire pulled pork last week. I was hesitant about buying pre-made pork, but after reading that the pork was seasoned simply with just salt and pepper, I was sold. Fortunately, I had purchased a small bag of masa harina from a specialty spice store a few weeks earlier, so with recipe in hand, I went to the grocery store and bought the remaining ingredients for the recipe.

After returning from the grocery store, I tackled my biggest fear—making the arepa dough. Thankfully, this recipe couldn’t be more straightforward, you simply combine the masa harina with a touch of salt and some warm water and then let the dough rest for 15 minutes. However, the challenge is forming the dough into disks without breaking the dough. My first attempt ended in failure, I couldn’t even form a flat circle, let alone stuff the pork inside the arepa. After deciding that my dough must be too wet, I added more masa harina and tried again, this time flattening the dough between two sheets of plastic wrap so that the dough wouldn’t stick to my work surface. This time, I was able to form the disk. I cautiously placed a small amount of pork filling in the center of the disk and than very carefully brought the sides of the dough up around the pork, creating a ball (inside the plastic wrap). Then, I even more carefully flattened the ball with my palm. To my shock and delight, it actually worked! Even though my arepas were very delicate, they didn’t have any gaping holes. I delicately placed each arepa on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and then placed the formed arepas in the refrigerator until dinner.

To cook the arepas, I modified the recipe. I wasn’t keen on frying the arepas, so I sautéed them in a nonstick skillet over high heat with a small amount of canola oil.  After browning both sides, I placed the cooked arepas in the oven to finish cooking. We ate our arepas topped with the red cabbage and red onion slaw suggested by Food & Wine, which added just the right amount of acidity to counterbalance the rich filling. We also garnished our arepas with some sour cream, fresh cilantro, and pickled jalapeños (which I was surprised to discover that I enjoy tremendously!). In the end, it was a fantastic meal. I loved how the soft and sweet masa dough paired with the slightly smoky and spicy pork. Now I just need an excuse to have a fiesta in my small apartment so that I can make them again!

Happy Cooking,
Pippa

Pulled Pork Arepas with Red Cabbage Slaw
Recipe slightly adapted from Food & Wine

Ingredients:

  • 2.5 cups masa harina flour (I have heard that Maseca brand is the best)
  • 1 ¾ cups plus 2 tablespoons warm water
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 8 ounces cooked pulled pork (or chicken if that is what you have on hand)
  • 4 ounces (1 cup) grated extra sharp cheddar cheese
  • ¼ cup thinly sliced scallion (green parts only)
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • hot sauce to taste (I used Frank’s hot sauce)
  • 2 cups finely sliced red cabbage
  • ½ medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • Vegetable oil (for sautéing)
  • Sliced picked jalapeños, sour cream (low fat or regular), fresh cilantro

Instructions:

  1. Combine the masa harina and salt in a large bowl. Add the water and combine well until the mixture forms a soft dough. Allow the dough to rest for 15 minutes at room temperature.
  2. While the dough is resting, combine the pulled pork, cheddar, hot sauce, scallions, and cilantro in a bowl.
  3. After the dough has rested for 15 minutes, line a sheet pan with parchment paper or foil and set aside. Place a sheet of plastic wrap on your work surface or cutting board. Place a quarter of the dough on the plastic wrap and form a small ball with the dough. Place another sheet of plastic wrap on top of the dough and press down with your palm to form a 7-inch disk. Place about a third of a cup of the pork filling in the center of the disk. Carefully pull up the sides of the disk to form a ball around the filling, keeping the plastic wrap in place. Gently press down to form a 4-5 inch disk. Place the formed arepa on the sheet pan that has been lined with parchment paper. Repeat three more times to form four arepas. Refrigerate until ready to cook.
  4. At least 30 minutes before you plan to serve the arepas, combine the red cabbage, red onion, and red wine vinegar in a bowl. Season with salt to taste. Cover until ready to serve.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and place a medium-size nonstick skillet over high heat.
  6. Add a tablespoon or two of canola oil to the pan and swirl to coat the surface of the pan with oil. Place two of the arepas (seam side down) in the pan and sauté over high heat, flipping once, until both sides are a nice golden brown color.
  7. Place in the oven to finish cooking for approximately 5 minutes. Repeat steps 6 and 7 to cook the remaining two arepas.
  8. Serve with slaw and additional garnish as desired.

Indian Food at Home

Ever since taking an art history class on Indian painting and sculpture in college, I have wanted to visit India, and even before that I loved eating Indian food. Everything about it appeals to my taste buds, the bold use of spices, the subtle (or in some cases fiery) heat, and the coolness of yogurt raita that I often accompanies the curries.

One of my favorite parts about going out to eat at an Indian restaurant for dinner is how many dishes I get to sample. In my family, we always share some samosas and pakora, a few curries, a daal (lentil dish), and a tandoori baked naan or paratha bread. The combination of flavors on my plate always entice me back for another serving, I just can’t help myself.

When I moved to New York from the Washington DC area, my favorite Indian restaurant quickly became a small vegetarian restaurant that serves a combination of Southern and Northern Indian food. Although they make some great dosas, my favorite dishes on the menu are the samosas and the chana masala (chickpea curry). Samosas in many restaurants can be disappointing, either too bland or too greasy, or both. The samosas at this restaurant are brimming with spices and are perfectly crispy on the outside. The chana masala is gingery and bright, containing fresh herbs and a nice dose of sautéed onions, tomatoes, cumin, and coriander. However, I can’t always make it downtown to eat at this restaurant, and to be honest, I like experimenting at home when I can.

A few weekends ago I decided to make my own version of an Indian chicken curry, loosely based off of Jamie Oliver’s recipe for chicken tikka masala. I have made this recipe before, and each time I remember why I love it. The first step involved marinating chicken in a pureed mixture of toasted spices, ginger, garlic, fresh cilantro, and yogurt. My best piece of advice is to marinade the chicken overnight if you have time, because the yogurt tenderizes the meat and ensures that the chicken stays nice and juicy after it is cooked. After allowing the chicken to marinade, I add the chicken to a sauce made of sautéed onions, more spices, and tomato sauce. Although Jamie Oliver discards the yogurt marinade and cooks his chicken under a broiler, I just add the yogurt and the chicken to the tomato sauce in the pan because the yogurt adds extra creaminess to the sauce without the need to add extra cream or butter. And to be honest, I didn’t feel like taking the time to broil the chicken. Even though it can’t compare to my favorite Indian restaurant, this curry perfectly satisfies my craving for Indian food.

Happy Cooking,
Pippa

Indian Chicken Curry
Loosely adapted from Jamie Oliver’s chicken tikka masala

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala (can be purchased in some grocery stores and at specialty stores)
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1.5 cups low fat or whole plain yogurt
  • 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil or butter
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • A pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup canned pureed tomatoes or finely chopped tomatoes
  • ½ cup water

Instructions:

  1. Heat a sauté pan over medium-high heat and add one tablespoon of olive oil and the mustard seeds. Cook mustard seeds until they begin to pop. As soon as they start to pop (being careful, because the seeds will try to pop out of the pan!!) add the cumin, paprika, one teaspoon of garam masala, the coriander, curry powder, ginger, and garlic to the pan. Sauté for an additional 1-2 minutes and then remove the pan from the heat.
  2. Combine the cilantro and yogurt in a food processor with the toasted spices and process until smooth.
  3. Cut the chicken breast into 1-inch pieces and place in a large bowl. Pour the yogurt marinade over the chicken and combine well. Cover and refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight.
  4. 30 minutes before you plan to serve the meal remove the chicken from the refrigerator and place a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium low heat. Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and the onion to the pan and sweat over low heat until the onion in translucent and soft.
  5. Add one teaspoon of garam masala and a pinch of cayenne to the pan and cook for an additional 1 to 2 minutes.
  6. Add the tomato sauce and water to the pan, increase the heat, and bring the mixture to a simmer. Lower the heat and simmer for an additional 15-20 minutes.
  7. Add the chicken pieces and the yogurt marinade to the pan and cook for an additional 7 to 10 minutes, or until the chicken is fully cooked through.
  8. Season with salt and pepper if needed.
  9. Serve over steamed basmati rice and garnish with fresh cilantro.

Additional serving suggestionsraita (homemade or store bought), yogurt, naan bread, daal, mango chutney.

Simple Roast Chicken with Dorie’s Creamy Rice


I’m not sure how I have managed to neglect roast chicken on a blog with the title of “Sunday Suppers”, but somehow I did. It’s time to change that. Last weekend we made a simple roast chicken with fresh haricot verts (green beans) and Dorie Greenspan’s “creamy, cheesy, garlicky rice with spinach”. I can’t decide if the chicken or the rice was the highlight of the meal. Irregardless, it was a great meal accompanied by a nice bottle of wine, and perfect for a cold winter night. Make this soon!

Happy Cooking,
Pippa

Simple Roast Chicken with Dorie Greenspan’s ‘creamy, cheesy, garlicky rice with spinach’
Rice slightly adapted from Around my French Table by Dorie Greenspan
Serves 4

Ingredients the roast chicken:

  • 1 3lb. free range, organic chicken
  • A few sprigs of fresh thyme
  • ½ head of garlic (skin on)
  • ½ lemon
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (melted)
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions for the roast chicken:

  • Take the chicken out of the fridge 20-30 minutes before you plan to cook it.
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Remove the giblet packet from the chicken if it inside the cavity.
  • Liberally season both the cavity and skin of the chicken with salt and fresh ground pepper.
  • Stuff the chicken with the lemon, garlic, and thyme sprigs.
  • Truss the chicken with string if available.
  • Rub the entire chicken with melted butter.
  • Place the chicken breast side up in a roasting pan and place it in the preheated oven.
  • Cook for approximately 1 hour, or until the chicken is done and the juices run clear.

Ingredients for the rice:

  • 3 ¼-3 ½ cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup Carnaroli rice (Arborio may be substituted but Carnaroli is more resistant to overcooking)
  • 10 ounces frozen leaf spinach
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • ¼ – ½ cup grated Gruyere
  • Approximately ¼ to ½ cup half and half
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions for the rice:

  1. In a medium saucepan with a lid, bring 3 ¼ cups of broth to a boil. Add the rice and stir once, cover, and simmer over low heat until almost all of the broth has been absorbed and the rice is tender but still slightly al dente (approximately 20 minutes).
  2. While the rice is cooking, defrost the frozen spinach by placing it in a colander in the sink and pouring boiling water over the spinach. Drain and dry the spinach and coarsely chop.
  3. Place a medium to large sauté pan with straight sides over low heat and sweat the onion and garlic in butter until the onion is translucent and soft.
  4. Add the spinach and sauté for another 1 to 2 minutes.
  5. Add the rice and stir well. Add the cheese and cream and season with salt and pepper to taste. Continue to cook over very low heat until the cheese has melted.
  6. If the mixture is dry, add a bit more half & half or broth.
  7. Serve immediately.

Watercress Soup


This recipe is actually taken from a project that I did while attending the French Culinary Institute. It isn’t fancy, and comes together very quickly—perfect for a lazy weekend or a weeknight meal. My inspiration came from the many watercress and egg salads that I eat when I visit my grandmother in England every summer. Watercress is not very popular in this country, but it is used very frequently by the British in sandwiches, soups, and salads. If you have the ingredients on hand, I urge you to make the lemon crème fraiche that accompanies this soup. It adds a touch of creaminess and a refreshing burst of citrus to the soup. However, if you don’t have the time or ingredients, feel free to do without or to substitute a dollop of yogurt or sour cream instead. This soup would make a great appetizer (which was its original intention), or a light meal served with some crusty, buttered bread. It can also be served either hot or chilled, which makes it perfect for both the summer and the winter!

Happy Cooking,
Pippa

Watercress Soup with Lemon Crème Fraiche
Serves 8, 150mL portions (or 4 entree portions)

I chose to pair this soup with the 2009 Ata Rangi Sauvignon Blanc from Martinborough, New Zealand because this wine is bright and citrusy and has some peppery notes, which is a perfect compliment for the pepperiness of the watercress and the lemon crème fraiche that garnishes the soup.

For the Watercress Soup:

  • 1 leek (95g), white parts only, chopped finely
  • 2-3 T unsalted butter
  • 3 bunches (477g) of watercress (thick stalks removed)
  • 1 medium yukon gold potato (medium sized, peeled and cut in ½ inch cubes)
  • 1,185mL (5 cups) Vegetable Stock
  • ½ t Lemon Juice
  • 1 T Heavy Cream
  • Salt and Black Pepper (as needed)
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil (as needed)

Instructions for the Watercress Soup:

  1. Place a marmite over low heat. Sweat the leeks in the butter until translucent.
  2. Add the potato and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes over low to medium heat.
  3. Add the vegetable stock and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer for approximately 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are completely cooked through.
  4. Add the watercress to the pot and continue to simmer for an additional 2 minutes, or until the watercress has wilted.
  5. Remove the soup from the heat and puree the soup in batches in a blender.
  6. Return the pureed soup to the low heat and stir in the lemon juice and cream.
  7. Serve hot with a dollop of lemon crème fraiche and a few drops of Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

For Presentation of the Watercress Soup:

  1. Ladle hot soup into bowl.  Garnish with a small spoonful of crème fraiche (see recipe below) and a single sprig of watercress. Finish with a few drops of Extra Virgin Olive Oil and serve.

Lemon Crème Fraiche (adapted from a recipe by John Ash in From the Earth to the Table):

  • 8 oz crème fraiche
  • 2 t lemon rind
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • Salt to taste

Instructions for the Lemon Crème Fraiche:

  1. Whisk the crème fraiche, lemon rind, and lemon juice together in a small bowl. Season to taste with salt and keep refrigerated until service.

Turkish Borek Meat Filling

Happy New Year! 2011 has been an eventful and fun year, but I am even more excited for 2012.  I ended the year with a great recipe that I want to share with you, and it was inspired by my recent trip to Turkey. Brian and I ate our weight in eggplant and yogurt during our trip (thankfully two of my favorite foods), but we were also were lucky enough to try many traditional Turkish meze, including borek. Cigar borek are thin cigar-shaped pastries made with phyllo dough and stuffed with either meat or cheese. We tried both types in Turkey, but I was particularly enamored with the meat borek, which were filled with wonderful spices and herbs. In fact, they were so flavorful that I often could only identify a few of the spices that the meat had been cooked with. Upon my return to New York, I immediately began searching the Internet and cookbooks, hoping to find the secret to Turkish borek. As luck would have it, I found a wonderful cookbook at work (I am lucky enough to work for a food magazine that has an entire library of cookbooks!) with exactly what I was looking for. A few weeks later I was invited to a housewarming party and decided to test out the recipe that I had found. I made meat borek, but substituted the phyllo dough for puff pastry in the absence of the former. I slightly (okay, massively) overestimated how much filling I needed, and ended up with an entire quart of leftover meat. Absolutely horrified at the idea of wasting it, but not keen on eating small hors d’oeuvres for dinner, I decided to “repurpose” it (a scary term, as repurposing can often have quite negative outcomes in the kitchen!). For our Sunday dinner, I made moussaka, another Mediterranean dish that is traditionally made by layering eggplant (what else!), lamb, béchamel sauce, and potatoes in a casserole dish. Okay, I simplified that a wee bit, but that is the gist of it anyway.

My moussaka was surprisingly made with an olive oil-based béchamel sauce that I found in Jeannette Seaver’s cookbook, My New Mediterranean Cookbook. I was delighted to discover that it tasted great, and will certainly use it in the future. I also cheated a bit by cooking diced eggplant in canned tomatoes instead of thinly slicing the eggplant and broiling it, which would have taken far too long. After I had made each component of the moussaka, I carefully layered thinly sliced potatoes, the eggplant mixture, leftover borek filling, and béchamel in a casserole dish and baked it for 35 minutes. My only complaint is that the leftovers didn’t last long!

I am leaving you with the recipe that I adapted to make my borek and moussaka.  It is so good that I will likely bore my friends by serving it at every cocktail party and potluck dinner from here on out. There are so many ways in which this spiced meat mixture could be used, including in lasagna, meatballs, turnovers, etc. etc. If you find a creative way of using it, please let me know, as it is already one of my favorite recipes for 2012!

Happy Cooking,
Pippa

Turkish Borek Meat Filling

Ingredients:

  • 1 large onion
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • ½ yellow or red bell pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • a tiny pinch of ground clove
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 lb. minced beef or lamb (I actually used beef, but lamb is more popular in Turkey)
  • ¼ cup toasted pine nuts
  • ¼ cup dried currants
  • ½ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Combine the onion, jalapeño, garlic and bell pepper in a good processor and pulse until the mixture is almost a paste but still slightly chunky.
  2. Heat olive oil in a wide sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and pepper mixture and sauté until the mixture begins to brown slightly.
  3. Add the cumin, oregano, cinnamon, clove, paprika, and tomato paste and continue to cook for an additional 3-5 minutes, or until very fragrant.
  4. Add the beef, currants and pine nuts and cook for an additional 20-25 minutes over low heat.
  5. Remove the pan from the heat and add all of the chopped parsley.
  6. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Allow to cool and refrigerate, or use in lasagna, moussaka, phyllo cigars, etc.