Recipes for a Cure
This saucy dish is part of a collection of recipes written to benefit the National MS Society. In 2008, my sister Lexi (then 21 years old) was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. We formed a team of friends and family called MS is BS (Mind Strong is Body Strong), and each year we raise thousands of dollars for MS research. This recipe was written in tribute to a generous donation towards my $1500 fundraising minimum for the 2013 Capital Challenge Walk, a two-day 50K walk through Maryland, Virginia and DC. Learn more about team MS is BS on our website at http://msisbs.org
Brunch Buddies 4 Life
Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t take ages to forge a friendship of worth. Case in point, take my BFF Tara – we met as sketchily as a Craigslist missed connection (not that I know what those are all about…) Back in 2010, my homegirl discovered Adesina’s Kitchen through our fave food blogger hub, FoodBuzz. After hitting me up for my thai dumpling recipe, I meandered over to her site What We Chow, and found that we enjoyed waxing poetically over luxe ingredients, price tag be damned. I was enamored at the prospect of making her virtual acquaintance, but had no idea that shit was going to get real. Pronounced: rull. Continue reading Truffled Eggs with Pancetta, Arugula and Fontina Flatbread
When you can get your hands on a juicy tomato, you need to treat it right. All of those mealy, hothouse tomatoes that are pushed on us by the grocery store are great for tossing, but that’s about it. But then there’s that slim window of time where you can get your hands on heirloom tomatoes in a rainbow of colors, bumpy and rough on the outside, brimming with translucent tart juice in the center. When the planets align and the gods deem you worthy of an incredible tomato, you’d better recognize and step up to the plate. Continue reading Italian BLT Panini with Pesto Mayo
Nothing says summertime majesty like a tender fish filet in crisp, lacy batter, slathered in luscious tartar sauce. Correction: nothing says the perfect time of year like the aforementioned fish. A good piece of halibut, carefully breaded and fried, is a welcome addition year-round assuming that I can get my hands on some.
The secret ingredient that makes this recipe sing is the caper aioli – a homemade mayonnaise enlivened with capers, cocktail onions, tarragon and lemon, this condiment tastes of a majesty so great that one would think that you slaved over the stuff. But that’s not the case. Pop the ingredients into the blender and whirr away until the mixture thickens to absolute perfection. Continue reading Crispy Halibut Po’boy with Caper Aioli
Just like those cheesy radio ads for ‘bama night clubs on the late-night R&B stations, this menu is for the “grown and sexy…” *giggle* Actually, kidding aside, it’s for anyone looking for a romantic meal with a heavy wow factor and very little actual labor involved. The kind of dinner you want to throw together when your anniversary falls on a weeknight and you can’t jet your loved one off to Paris mid-week. Or if you’re looking to treat a foodie friend to something impressive, but are a little nervous wielding a knife in front of them. This menu is as confident as you’ll be puttering around the kitchen, attending to perfectly seasoned dishes for the steamiest of affairs. And it’s up to you whether you choose to play Coltrane or Chaka Khan in the background – that’s for you and your date du jour to figure out. Continue reading Bistro Menu for Beginners
I totally believe that arugula is an aphrodisiac as thought in the Roman times, solely based on the fact that I am head over heels in love with it. The nutty, peppery flavor of the greens, and its ability to work as a crisp salad green or sauteed and cooked to luscious perfection – versatility makes me crush hard core, and baby, arugula has my heart. When used as a replacement for basil in a quick pesto, you get to see arugula truly shine – just barely cooked by the hot pasta, it goes from bitter to complex and rounded in flavor. It’s miraculous and ever so sexy.
I use the pesto to dress dainty orecchiette, petal-shaped pasta from the south of Italy. Named “little ears” in Italian, each bit of pasta is made from a mini fingerprint into a press, forming a crinkly texture that soaks up the pesto. It’s all about the love with a uniting of Northern Italian sauce (pesto is from Genoa) with Southern Italian pasta (orecchiette are from Puglia). And I could just be mentioning love because the arugula is wooing me to do so. Woo away, arugula. Woo away.
Orecchiette with Arugula Pesto
1 lb. of orecchiette
4 loose cups of arugula
3 cloves of garlic
1/2 c. of olive oil
1/2 c. of grated locatelli (or parmigiano reggiano)
1/4 c. of toasted pine nuts
2 tsp. of freshly cracked pepper
1 tsp. of salt
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions.
While the pasta cooks, make the pesto. Throw cloves of garlic into the CuisineArt and pulse until finely chopped. Add toasted pine nuts and pulse again. Next, add the arugula (stems and all) and chop until the mixture starts to form a paste. Coax the entire mixture into a smooth paste by slowly streaming in olive oil – stop once everything is blended and evenly chopped. Add the grated cheese, salt and pepper and pulse to mix. Taste for salt.
Once pasta is finished, scoop a scant 1/4 cup of pasta water out of the pot. Drain the pasta and immediately toss with the pesto. Dribble in a bit of the pasta water, if necessary, to form a sauce. Top with extra grated cheese and serve.
Orzo is like a dependable friend – versatile, mixes well with others, but distinct and fun on its own. I’m an out and out fan. In lieu of the traditional radiatore pasta or bowties for a potluck stunner, why not outstanding orzo? This particular combination features peppery arugula, sweet tomatoes and salty mizithra cheese all gussied up with a light vinaigrette. It looks sunnier than Miss America in the Sahara desert.
Mizithra cheese is a rather fun addition – a hard sheep milk cheese made in Greece. It’s salty like feta, but drier and crumblier – perfect for a lively pasta salad. If you can’t find mizithra, you can certainly use ricotta salata or feta cheese. Also, try to use the best olive oil you can get your hands on – when you have a recipe with so few ingredients and little to no cooking, it helps to keep the flavors strong.
Orzo Salad with Arugula and Mizithra Cheese
1 lb. of orzo
2 heirloom tomatoes, diced
3 c. of arugula leaves, loosely chopped
1/2 c. of olive oil
6 oz. of mizithra cheese, crumbled
1/4 tsp. of salt
1/4 tsp. of pepper
4 tbs. of rice wine vinegar
3 tbs. of sliced green onion
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt heavily. Add the orzo to the boiling water and cook according to the package directions. Drain and cool with running water. Drain again well and add to a large mixing bowl. Toss the orzo with the tomatoes, arugula, olive oil, cheese, salt, rice wine vinegar, pepper and green onions. Chill for at least 20 minutes and then serve.
When the Earl of Sandwich ordered his servant to bring him a bit of meat tucked into slices of bread so as to prevent his playing cards from getting greasy, he started a chain reaction that has left me a happy duck. If I were to live my life eating soup and sandwiches from now until the very end time, I’d be absolutely fine with it all. Chicken soup and turkey sandwiches along could keep me pleased as punch with enough variety to keep things interesting.
Continue reading Turkey Panini with Brie and Fig Jam
It’s not terribly often that I have a dish that makes me want to have a mini fit, but when it happens, I try to do everything I can to extend the excitement. I had a salad similar to this one at one of my favorite NYC restaurants, Marseille. Between the tender prosciutto, warm buttered croutons and luxe truffle oil dressing, I wanted to hug a stranger and do a jump kick for joy. Truthfully, though the taste is haute, the ingredients themselves are not terribly expensive or hard to come by. With the truffle oil as your only splurge, the real luxury comes from the lovely combination of flavors and texture. Making fresh croutons and serving them warm on the salad is an essential part of the glory – with just a few ingredients joining the peppery bed of arugula, you want to make sure that everything is just right. After all, the end result should be a mini fit, and for a salad to achieve that honor, it’s got to be damn good. Continue reading Arugula Salad with Truffle Vinaigrette
Poundin’ It Out
This recipe is a playful take on the humdrum grilled chicken salad. Rather than constructing the plate as a salad topped with pannéed chicken breast, arugula and sun-ripe tomatoes are piled atop the protein. The result is lovely and delicious, and the whole flip it around, “Alice in Wonderland” appeal is an approach that we should all take on a wider scale. God forbid we ever get boring or bored or both.
The dressing for the arugula is basically an Italian pico de gallo salsa – you macerate the tomatoes with garlic, olive oil and vinegar to form a fresh, bright sauce. If you feel like taking this recipe even further, you can tuck slices of buffalo mozzarella between the chicken breasts for a lovely chicken caprese salad. It’s the kind of dinner that will make you rue the day you settled for a boring salad. Continue reading Chicken Paillard with Arugula