Saturday, December 29, 2012

Curried Mussel Chowder

There's a couple inches of snow outside.  It's cold.  And I hate it.

I've never been a fan of this type of weather.  Even growing up in upstate New York.  I hated it.  Andy even says I have a permanent scowl on my face when the temperature drops below 32 F.  I guess I just like my sunshine and warm weather.  Can you blame me?

One thing I do like during this time, though, is curling up to a nice warm bowl of chowder.  There's just something so comforting about it.  I decided to switch up the normal clam for some mussels and a healthy dash of curry powder.  The result?  Andy thinks it's the best bowl of soup I've made to date.  Right on!


3 slices of thick-cut bacon, cut into thin strips
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 shallot, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 lb. new potatoes, diced
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup white wine
3 parsley stems
1 bay leaf
pinch of dried thyme
pinch of black pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon curry powder
pinch of dried fennel
3 garlic cloves, smashed
pinch of saffron
5 cups of milk
1 cup of heavy cream
1 cup frozen corn
1 lb. shucked mussels (I bought them this way because it was easier, but you could certainly steam them and take them out of the shell on your own)
salt, to taste
chopped parsley, for garnish
baked naan, for serving

I love this because it's also a one pot meal.  Most soups are, right?  Right.  The less dishes I/Andy have to wash, the better.

Heat a large stockpot under medium high heat.  Add bacon strips and render until all of the fat is released and bacon is crispy.  With a slotted spoon, remove bacon to a paper towel-lined plate.  Reserve for garnish.

Add carrot, shallot, celery, and potatoes to the bacon fat.  Coat well and sweat for about 2-3 minutes.  Sprinkle vegetables with flour and cook for another minute.  Add wine and bring to a boil, stirring constantly to prevent lumps.  When mixture is thick, add in parsley stems, bay leaf, thyme, black pepper, butter, curry powder, fennel, garlic, saffron, milk, and heavy cream.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

About 2-3 minutes before serving, add your mussels (if they're already shucked, they should already be cooked, so you're only warming them) and your frozen corn.  Cook until warmed through.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with reserved bacon and chopped parsley.  Serve with naan bread.

This seriously hit the spot!  We've got leftovers and I don't foresee them lasting much longer than 48 hours!  Hope you guys are staying warm =)

Friday, December 28, 2012

Boiled Lobster Tails w/ Herbed Wine Cream Sauce, Corn, & Roasted New Potatoes

Lobster is one of those deals that come about on a whim in our house.  It's something we have on occasion when we're feeling like treating ourselves. 

And why not treat ourselves in an end of the year celebration?  I mean, the world didn't end, so why not celebrate with lobster, right?!


Boiling Liquid:

2 cups white wine
1 cup seafood stock
2 cups water
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 carrot, roughly chopped
1 celery stick, roughly chopped
4-5 parsley stems
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
4 lobster tails
salt and pepper, to taste
2-4 tablespoons unsalted butter

Herbed Cream Sauce:

1 cup reduced lobster stock (reserved boiling liquid)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped

2 cups frozen or fresh corn, cooked

1 lb. new or red potatoes, quartered
salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 425 F.

Combine the the potatoes, olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Place in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for about 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are a nice golden brown.

In a medium stockpot, combine the wine, seafood stock, water, onion, carrot, celery, parsley stems, bay leaf, thyme, peppercorns, and tarragon.  Bring mixture to a boil and add lobster tails.  Cook for about 6-8 minutes, or until shells are a bright red color and flesh is just cooked through.  Remove the tails and transfer to a cutting board.  Carefully cut each lobster tail in half and transfer to a bowl with 2-4 tablespoons unsalted butter.  Toss in the butter until well coated, then set aside.

Strain the cooking liquid and reserve about 2 cups.  Reduce liquid to about 1 cup. 

In a small bowl, combine the flour and the 1 tablespoon of butter to form a paste.  Whisk into the reduced stock and bring to a boil.  Let mixture slightly thicken, then add heavy whipping cream.  Reduce mixture until it is at desired sauce consistency.  Stir in parsley and chives and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

To plate, mound the potatoes and corn in the center of the plate.  Top with a couple of lobster tail halves.  Then top lobster with sauce.

This was definitely delicious!  The lobster was naturally buttery and the sauce complimented it very well!  Andy has been in the mood for corn lately, so I included that with the simply roasted potatoes and it was both a filling and satisfying weeknight meal! 

How do you like to have your lobster?

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Chilean Sea Bass w/ Peas & Shiitake Veloute

I hope everyone that celebrated had a very Merry Christmas yesterday!

I know the Garbes definitely did!

Santa was very good to us!  Andy outdid himself this year and upgraded my little beginner Nikon D40 to a Nikon D3200!  It's absolutely awesome!  And better yet, it came with a wireless adapter to stream my photos from my camera directly to my iPhone!  How neat is that?!  So of course I had to start shooting with it right away.  And one of the first things I did was test out it's ability on food - DUH!  And doesn't it just capture this sea bass beautifully?!  Either that, or I'm getting better at my photography skills.  Maybe it's both =)

Anyway, the day was spent with both of our families, driving, and eating!  It was definitely all worth it!

This was our Christmas Eve dinner (the time when Andy and I usually open our presents to eachother) and we both cleaned our plates dry!  It was SO good!


2 6 oz. Chilean Sea Bass fillets
salt and pepper, to taste
flour, for dredging

Shiitake Veloute:

1 cup shiitake mushrooms, sliced thinly
1 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 & 1/2 tablespoons flour
3/4 cup seafood/fish stock
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup milk

1 & 1/2 cups frozen peas
1/2 cup water
salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 425 F.

Heat a large saute pan under medium high heat.  Add olive oil and saute mushrooms until they start to soften, about 6-7 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Heat a medium saucepan under medium heat and melt butter.  Whisk in flour to create a roux.  We're basically just making a fish/seafood gravy.  Cook roux for about 1-2 minutes, or until slightly a pale yellow color.  Slowly incorporate the stock, whisking constantly to avoid lumps.  Then whisk in wine, followed by the milk.  Bring mixture to a boil and cook until slightly thickened, to sauce consistently.  You can thin it out with extra stock, if you need to.  Stir in the shiitake mushrooms and season to taste.  Keep warm until ready to use.

Season the sea bass with salt and pepper and dredge in the flour, shaking off any excess.  Heat some vegetable oil and/or butter in an oven-proof saute pan under medium high heat.  Place the sea bass, skin-side down, in the pan and cook until skin is crisp, about 3-4 minutes.  Flip over and carefully transfer pan to the oven to finish cooking the fish, about 5-6 minutes. 

While the bass is in the oven, you can quickly cook your peas.  Bring the water to a slow boil in a small saucepan.  Add peas and cook until warmed - they're frozen peas, so they're already cooked.  Drain and set aside.

When everything is ready, you can assemble your plate.  Place about 1/4 cup of the shiitake veloute in the center of each plate.  Top with a mound of peas.  Top the peas with the sea bass.  Garnish with whatever you like - I used some chives.

And voila - another simple and easy fish dish!  And it's gorgeous, to boot!

Hope you guys have a great rest of the week - and enjoy the snow (I know a lot of us experienced our first batches over the past couple of days!).

Friday, December 21, 2012

Sausage & Mushroom Canape

I know a lot of you are going to be put in the host or hostess position over the next couple of weeks, so I thought I'd include a little canape or hors d'oeuvre that should go over well with a crowd!

The sweet and savory combination of maple syrup and mustard is a combination I love.  Add in some umami flavor of some mushrooms, and you've got yourself a powerhouse of flavor in a small little bite!


20-25 cocktail wieners/sausages 
3 tablespoons whole grain dijon mustard
1/2 cup maple syrup
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cayenne pepper
10 button/cremini mushrooms, sliced thinly
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 to 1 cup shredded cheese (I used Emmentaler Swiss because that's what I had)

1 french baguette, cut into 1/4 inch slices
melted butter, for brushing
salt, to taste

You can prepare your little crostinis first.  If you're going to do a bunch at a time, I'd suggest doing them in the oven.  If you've got plenty of time, then you can absolutely do them in a skillet over the stove.  For time's sake, we're going to bake these babies in the oven.

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Place a trivet or wire rack on a baking sheet and evenly arrange bread slices on rack.  Brush each bread slice with melted butter and sprinkle with a little bit of salt.

Bake crostinis until they are golden brown and crisp, about 15 minutes.  Set aside to cool.

Raise oven temperature to 375 F.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  In a medium bowl, combine the mustard, maple syrup, and paprika.  Toss the sausages in the mixture until evenly coated.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Arrange the sausages on the parchment paper and bake in oven for about 15-20 minutes, or until the sausages are golden brown and the glaze is caramelized.

Heat a medium saute pan under medium high heat and melt 2 tablespoons of butter.  Add mushroom slices and cook until softened and caramelized.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

To put together, place about 1/2 teaspoon of the mushrooms on each crostini.  Top with cocktail sausage and garnish with shredded cheese.

If you make this ahead, you can put the product together and then reheat in a 375 F oven to melt the cheese and make product warm throughout.

This is definitely a different way to present familiar ingredients.  I recently made my family dinner for my mother's birthday and these were gone in a flash!  So tasty!

What do you serve as an appetizer for holiday gatherings?

Hope you guys have a great rest of the week and Happy Holidays!!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Halibut w/ Spinach & Scallop-Citrus Beurre Blanc

I'm telling you - I'm Beurre Blanc obsessed.

When in doubt for a pairing sauce for a dish - beurre blancs are your answer.  I mean, does butter not go with nearly everything?!  Seriously.

The only thing I didn't like about this dish is that the scallop flavor didn't come through as much as I wanted it do.  It may have been the citrus.  It could have overpowered the delicate flavor of the scallops.  But besides that, I was pretty satisfied with this dish - and Andy cleared his plate so I can't complain.



2 6 oz. halibut fillets
flour, for dusting
salt and pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 cups raw spinach, stemmed
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
salt and pepper, to taste

3 sea scallops, cut in half
salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Scallop-Citrus Beurre Blanc:

1 sea scallop, thinly sliced (think sashimi)
1 shallot, minced
1/4 cup citrus champagne vinegar (alternatively, you can just do 1/4 cup citrus juices or a mixture of champagne vinegar and juices)
8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cubed
salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

You can prepare your sauce first.  In a medium saucepan, combine the shallot and citrus vinegar.  Reduce to about 1-2 tablespoons.

Turn heat to low and slowly whisk in unsalted butter, one cube at a time.  Be careful not to add to much butter at once or you run the risk of your sauce breaking.  When all of butter is emulsified into the sauce, season with salt and pepper to taste and stir in thinly sliced scallops (the residual heat will cook them through) and chopped parsley.  Reserve sauce in a warm area until needed.  You can also choose to strain the mixture of the solids at this point, but I chose not to.

Preheat oven to 425 F.

Season both sides of halibut fillets with salt and pepper.  Dredge in the flour, shaking off any excess.

Heat an oven-proof skillet under medium high heat and add butter and oil.  (On a side note: We use a combination of peanut oil and butter in the restaurant I work at for two reasons.  The butter is there for browning and flavor, and the oil is there for a higher smoke point - to help achieve a desired "crust" - you can choose to not use both, but be forewarned if you just use butter, you run the risk of it burning, and if you just use oil, you may not get that desired golden crust)

Add your halibut to the pan and cook the first side until it is a nice golden brown, about 2-3 minutes.  Flip each fillet over and carefully transfer pan to the oven to finish cooking, about 3-5 minutes.

While your halibut is finishing you can wilt your spinach and saute your scallops.

Heat two pans under medium high heat.  Add butter to both pans, adding your spinach to one, and your scallops in the other. Of course you can do these separately, instead of all at once, but hey, multitasking is a skill we can all get better at, right?

Cook the spinach until wilted and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Sear your scallops until you get a nice golden brown sear, and then flip over to continue cooking for about 30 seconds to a minute.  Since they're cut in half, you won't need to cook them as long as if they were kept whole.

To plate, arrange a mound of spinach in the center and top with halibut fillet.  Arrange 3 half scallops on each plate and top halibut with beurre blanc.  Voila!

I love using wilted spinach as a side dish.  It comes together so easily and give you an added color boost to any plate.

Hope you guys have a great start to your week!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Red Snapper Quenelles w/ Fennel-Crawfish Cream Sauce

Alright.  No egg recipe. 

But I've got an oddball for ya. 

I didn't quite think this would all match together, let alone get my husband to see my vision.  The quenelle is first slow poached, then finished off in a fryer to get the beautiful golden brown color.  It's like a fish dumpling, if you will.  I wanted to present snapper in a different way and it happened to work out nicely! 

The cream sauce is definitely out-of-this-world.  I could have drank this alone.  It's THAT good.  Definitely something that you could throw on pasta, chicken, fish, whatever!  Versatility is key here.

Anyway, this was one of those dishes I wasn't too excited about until we sat down to eat it.  I should definitely have more confidence in myself, because Andy even said that this could be one of those dishes that he asks for over and over again.  Score!


Red Snapper Quenelle:

1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup flour
2-3 eggs
12 oz. red snapper (or other lean white fish), roughly chopped
pinch of nutmeg
salt and pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
Swiss cheese, grated (optional)

Fennel-Crawfish Cream Sauce:

10-15 cooked crawfish, tails only
5 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons parsley, chopped
1 small onion, diced
1/2 fennel bulb, sliced thinly
1 celery stalk, diced
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup white wine
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper, to taste

The quenelle starts with a pate a choux base.  If anybody has ever made cream puffs, this is basically the dough that starts them. 

In a medium saucepan, combine the water, salt, and butter.  Bring to a boil and stir in flour.  Make sure all of the flour is incorporated.  Cook mixture until a slight skin forms on the bottom of the pan.  This is called a "panada".  Transfer mixture to a KitchenAid mixer and beat until no steam comes out.  You're trying to cool the mixture down before you add your eggs.  When mixture is cool to the touch (you basically want it to be less than 135 F - the temp that eggs coagulate/cook), you can start adding your eggs, one at a time.  This is the hardest part of this.  You don't want to add your eggs all at once, because the panada may not accept all of them and your panada will break.  Add the eggs one at a time and make sure they are fully incorporated before adding the next.  You may not need the 3rd egg, or all of it, anyway.  So with the 3rd egg, just scramble it in a bowl and add it little by little.  When will you know the panada is complete?  You can do the "beard test".  Take you paddle attachment and dip it into your panada, if it comes out and looks like a beard/goatee hanging from your paddle, your panada is done! This link here explains pate a choux perfectly.  It should be thick and dough-like, but pliable and sticky.  If that makes any sense.

Anyway, in a food processor, combine your red snapper, nutmeg, salt, and pepper.  Slowly add in your cream until mixture is smooth.  Combine the snapper mixture with the pate a choux dough until well mixed.  Transfer mixture to refrigerator and let sit until well-chilled, about 30 minutes.

To make the cream sauce, melt the butter under medium high heat.  Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add onions, celery, and fennel.  Cook until fennel starts to soften.   Stir in crawfish and cook another 1-2 minutes.  Deglaze pan with white wine and cook until almost evaporated.  Add in chicken stock and bring to a boil.  Stir in heavy cream and cook mixture until thickened to desired consistency, about 5-10 minutes.  Stir in parsley and season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Hold warm until ready to use.

When you're ready to make the quenelles, pull out your fish mixture and set a pot of water to a slow simmer.  Also, get your deep fryer at about 375 F, or heat some vegetable/peanut oil to the same temp in a heavy bottomed pan.

Form your quenelles with 2 spoons (HERE is a great video on how to quenelle) and let simmer in the water for about 15 minutes.  Carefully place on a paper towel-lined tray and pat dry.

Drop quenelles in the fryer/oil until they are a golden brown, about 2-3 minutes.

Transfer to a wire rack and season with salt.

Serve quenelles over rice (I didn't really think this was quite necessary, but I was really hungry) and top with fennel-crawfish cream sauce.


I know this was an oddball, but sometimes you have to push the limits.  It's why I'm in culinary school, right?  To try weird and new things!

Happy Friday, guys!  Enjoy your weekend!  

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Spinach Souffle

I've obviously been on an egg kick, lately.  I don't know why, but I'm all about the little protein powerhouse.  Maybe because it's such a cheap commodity.  So easy to manipulate and do different things with?  Who knows. 

And I've never tried making a souffle before.  With a little extra time on my hands now that school is over for the quarter, I have time to conquer the unconquered.  I don't think I've mastered it, by any means.  But for a first attempt, I think they turned out rather nicely!


1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small shallot, minced
1 cup raw spinach, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
salt and pepper, to taste
pinch of cayenne pepper
pinch of nutmeg
4 egg yolks
4 egg whites
1/2 cup Emmentaler (Swiss) cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Heat a medium skillet under medium high heat.  Add olive oil and heat until shimmering.  Add shallot and cook for about 1-2 minutes, or until fragrant.  Stir in spinach and cook until wilted.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Set aside to cool.

A lot of souffle bases don't require a bechamel, but I think it makes the souffle creamier and more delicate in the long run, so I highly recommend it.  In a medium saucepan, melt the butter.  Whisk in the flour and cook for just a few minutes, or until the flour is a light blond color.  Stir in milk, a little at a time, whisking constantly to avoid lumps.  Stir until all milk is incorporated and mixture is smooth.  Whisk in the cayenne pepper, nutmeg, and season with salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil and let simmer, whisking occasionally, for about 3-4 minutes, or until mixture is slightly thickened.  Take mixture off of heat and whisk in egg yolks, one at a time.  Transfer to a medium bowl and set aside.

In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until they are at stiff white peaks (think meringue).  Fold in about 1/4 of the egg white mixture into the egg yolk mixture, along with 1/2 of the cheese and the spinach mixture.  Fold in the rest of the egg whites.

Grease one large souffle dish or 4 mini ramekins (I had 4 inch diameter ones that made perfect side dishes).  Sprinkle inside of souffle dish or ramekins with a little bit of cheese.  Turn out mixture into prepared dishes and sprinkle with remaining bits of cheese. 

Place dish(es) in oven and turn heat down to 375 F.  Bake for about 25 minutes or until souffles are risen and golden brown on top.

Carefully take out of oven and admire your accomplishment!

I had a little bit of a deflation in one of my souffles, but that's expected with any first try, right?  Right.  But the result was an airy, creamy spinach souffle that won over Andy (who, I could tell, was a bit skeptical of having souffle as part of our dinner). 

Have you ever made a souffle?  How did your first go at it go?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Caramelized Onion Quiche w/ Balsamic Glaze

There's something about making a pie crust that's just so soothing.  It's so simple.  No more than 4 ingredients.  A little bit of kneading.  A little bit of resting.  A little bit of baking.  And the result?  Something so flaky and buttery that it would put a smile on anybody's face.

I was limited on ingredients yesterday, but I needed to make something quick and easy before we headed out to see the Silversun Pickups at the Brown last night.  And let me tell you, they really rocked!  I seriously haven't seen a band with so much energy and life in a long time!  Definitely a great rock and roll show!

Anyway, I had eggs.  I had flour.  I had onions.  A quiche was just meant to be.


Pie dough:

1 & 1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1/2 teaspoon salt
3-4 tablespoons ice cold water


3 onions, julienned
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon flour
2 eggs
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup milk
salt and pepper, to taste
pinch of nutmeg
1/4 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
4-5 slices of deli-ham, chopped (optional) 


1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

First, you want to make your pie dough.  In a medium bowl, combine the flour and salt.  Cut in the butter, until the mixture resembles coarse sand.  Add in cold water until the mixture comes together.  You want it to be able to stay together when you gather it in your hand to make a fist.  Form the dough into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. 

To caramelize the onions, add butter, vegetable oil, and onions to a large skillet.  Heat under low-medium low heat until onions become golden brown in color.  You want to stir the onions occasionally so that they don't burn or caramelize too quickly.  You want an even, "soft" browning.  This will take around 45 minutes to an hour to accomplish.  Don't rush it.  Be patient.  You'll be rewarded with sweet, caramelized onions.  I promise.

When the onions are nearly caramelized, sprinkle flour over top and mix well.  Cook for an additional 3-5 minutes, then let onions cool to room temperature.

Preheat oven to 375F.

Take your dough out of the refrigerator and place on floured surface.  Roll out to about 1/4 inch thickness and large enough to fill your pie pan.  I used a shallow 9" pie pan.  Gently place dough into pie pan and flute edges, if desired. Place pie pan in the refrigerator for at least 10-15 minutes.  Chilling the dough again makes it less likely for your pie dough to shrink during baking.  If you were to throw it right in there after you rolled it out, it would most likely shrink - and we don't want that, do we?

Now let's make the filling.  In a medium bowl, combine the eggs, heavy cream, milk, salt, pepper, and nutmeg.  Whisk until combined and then stir in mozzarella cheese and cooled onions.

Place pie weights or dried beans (it helps to have a large coffee filter to put them on if using this method, so it's easy to scoop the beans right out) in your pie shell and par bake for about 10-15 minutes, or until pie starts to turn a light golden brown.

Pull out pie shell and remove weights/beans.  If using ham, place an even layer on bottom of pie shell.  Pour filling over top.  Bake quiche for about 25-30 minutes, or until eggs and custard are set.

Let cool, slightly, before cutting.

To make the balsamic glaze, simply place the balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan and reduce until at a syrupy consistency.  Pour glaze over top over quiche, if desired.

And bam - quiche!

Not necessarily a quick dinner fix (but the pie dough and caramelized onions can totally be made ahead of time!).  But definitely one that utilizes common ingredients that we're all bound to have in our fridge and pantry!  And plus, you can always adapt a quiche to what you have on hand - leftovers are perfect quiche ingredients!

What quiche combo is your fave?!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Spinach Omelette

With the close of another quarter of school, I'm one step closer to finishing!  I get to do my internship during my last lab (which happens to be next quarter) and I couldn't be more excited!  But I'm also excited about the much needed break until the new year.

It's been hard to have differing schedules with Andy.  He's a nine-to-fiver and I'm a 3-midnight kind of gal.  But we make it work.  We have lunch dates.  He takes days off (apparently he's got tons of vacation days that he needs to take).  We make time for each other and I'm thankful for that.

So when time is limited, meals end up being quick and easy.  So I've been on an egg kick.  Omelets used to be my go-to meal when I lived with my parents.  My favorite combination?  Hot dogs and cheddar.  I know - weird.  My omelet preferences have since become more "adult" in nature over the years, but I still revert to the classic every now and then.  Don't hate.

What's your favorite omelet combination?


2 eggs
1 cup raw spinach, stems removed
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1/4 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded 
salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoon unsalted butter, divided
hot sauce (optional)

Heat a medium skillet under medium high heat.  Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in the pan and add the spinach along with a big pinch of salt and pepper.  Stir the spinach constantly until it wilts (the stirring creates steam which causes it to spinach to wilt faster than if you were to just leave it alone).  Remove from heat and place in a medium bowl to cool.

Once the spinach is at room temperature, add eggs, milk, dijon mustard, and cheese to the bowl.  Whisk until well mixed.

In a medium nonstick skillet, melt the butter under medium heat.  Pour in egg mixture and cook until the bottom and edges are set, with the top and middle still liquid.  Now this is where people differ in their omelet-making.  Some people fold both sides inward.  Some people roll.  Some people just fold one side over.  You can do whatever you fancy!  I tend to gravitate toward just folding one side over.  It's easier than the other two, and if you mess us, it's easy to make it look like an omelet after some quick damage control.  But feel free to take on whatever omelet construction you deem fit.

So fold accordingly and cook just until egg on the inside is just cooked through.  It should still be light and delicate on the inside.


Serve with hot sauce and you're in business!

Hope you guys enjoy the last day of the weekend and have a great start to your week!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Gratin-style Shirred Eggs

"One egg or two?"

"Is that all you're making?  That's not a meal."

I beg to differ, dear.  That's the exact conversation my husband and I had when I decided to make these.  Eggs are a nutrition powerhouse and I do, in fact, think that eggs alone constitute as a meal! 

Shirred eggs are simply ones cooked in a small buttered dish (such as a shallow ramekin) and finished off under the broiler.  The result is a softly set white and liquid yolk.  Everybody knows the perfect egg has a runny yolk! 

Some people find the process tricky, but once you get the hang of it, you'll have soft, delicate eggs every time! 

We doll these shirred eggs up with the addition of cream and some cheese. 


1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 eggs
salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons mozzarella cheese (any cheese will do, this is just what I had on hand)

Heat broiler to high.

Divide the butter between two small, shallow, fire-proof ramekins (about 4 inches in diameter).

Place dishes over moderate heat (it helps to have a gas range - if not, then I'd just throw them under the broiler to begin with).  Once butter is melted, add 2 eggs to each dish.  Cook for about 1-2 minutes, or until a thin layer of the white is set on bottom.

Add 1 tablespoon of whipping cream to each dish and top with mozzarella cheese.

Transfer dish under broiler and cook until white is softly set, and yolk is still runny, about 5-6 minutes. 

You'll end up with two perfectly runny eggs and some nicely browned cheese.  Plenty enough for a protein-packed breakfast!

Hope you guys have a great rest of the week - I might be absent for the rest of it - it's a big, busy week at school and work!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Foodie Pen Pals: November

Another month of foodie pen pals has arrived!  Every month gets better and better!

This month, my pen pal was Janna H. from Oklahoma!  I've never been to Oklahoma so I asked Janna if she would send me a little something from the Sooner State!  And she definitely delivered!

I ended up with this great salsa that I served at Thanksgiving during the day to snack on.  It was completely devoured! So good!

Then the prickly pear jelly - which I've been having with toast for breakfast!  To. Die. For.

And I saved the best for last.  The toasted pecan spread is out. of. this. world.  So so good!  I spread it on some cinnamon bagels and was in heaven!  I'm definitely going to find a way to incorporate it into a dessert!

Thanks Janna for giving me a look inside of the great food products that the Sooner State has to offer!

Just click the button below to find out more about Foodie Pen Pals and how to join!  It's definitely quite a bit of fun!

The Lean Green Bean

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Red Snapper w/ Pickled Pearl Onions, Bean Medley, & Fortified Fish Stock Beurre Blanc


"You can cook fish any time you want, baby."  The exact response I heard after Andy straight devoured this plate.  I was kinda iffy about the beans, and didn't know if he'd like them - but he ate every last bit of them! 

Not only is this just a plate of simple, humble foods - but it's absolutely gorgeous!  Or I think so, anyway. 

Dress up a fish stock, reduce it down, and whisk in some butter for a downright flavorful sauce that you can put on practically any fish, any time.


Red Snapper:

2 - 6 oz. red snapper fillets 
salt and pepper, to taste
flour, for dusting
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Pickled Pearl Onions:

1 cup pearl onions (about 12-16), peeled
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 tablespoon pickling spice

Bean Medley:

1 cup dried cranberry beans, soaked overnight (or at least 3-4 hours)
1 cup lima beans (I used frozen)
2 cups chicken stock
salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Fortified Fish Stock Beurre Blanc:

1/2 cup fish/seafood stock
juice from 1 lemon
1 cup white wine
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cubed
salt and pepper, to taste

You can use fresh cranberry beans for this too, if you can find them.  I just happened to have some dried sitting in my pantry, for what seems like forever, so I figured I'd use them up. 

Add chicken stock to a medium sized saucepan and bring to a boil.  Add cranberry beans and turn down to simmer.  Cover and let cook for about 30-45 minutes.  You can add water to the pot if needed, or if there is not enough liquid to cover beans.  Drain and set aside.

In a small saucepan, bring the red wine vinegar, sugar, and water to a boil.  Simmer until sugar is dissolved.  Place pearl onions into a small container with peppercorns and pickling spice.  Pour vinegar-sugar liquid over top of the pearl onions.  Place in the refrigerator, uncovered, for about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 425 F.

To make the beurre blanc, combine the stock, lemon juice, and white wine in a medium saucepan.  Turn heat onto medium high and reduce liquid to about 2 tablespoons.  Turn heat to low, and while whisking constantly, add butter cubes one at a time.  Make sure not to add more butter until the previous cube is almost entirely incorporated/emulsified in.  When all of butter is added, stir in chopped parsley and season to taste.  Keep sauce warm until needed.  Be sure to watch it carefully, making sure it does not break on you.  (You can help prevent the beurre from breaking by adding heavy cream to the reduced liquid before whisking in the butter, but you don't necessarily need to do that.)

Heat a large oven-proof saute pan under medium high heat.  Add 1 tablespoon of butter to the pan.  Season snapper fillets with salt and pepper and dredge in flour, shaking off any excess.  Add fillets to the pan and cook until browned on the first side, about 2-3 minutes.  Flip fillets over and transfer pan to the oven to finish cooking, about 3 minutes.  Carefully take pan out of oven and let fish rest for 1-2 minutes.

Heat a medium saute pan under medium high heat and add 2 tablespoons of butter.  Add cranberry beans and frozen lima beans (be careful - any residual water/ice on beans may cause butter/oil to splatter) to the pan.  Cook until warm and slightly caramelized around the edges.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

To plate, place a mound of bean mixture on the center of the plate.  Top with snapper fillet and pearl onions.  Top with beurre blanc. 

Bam!  Art on a plate.  I loved this because it wasn't overly unhealthy (can't really argue with the beurre blanc being a healthy addition, but it's damn tasty) - but everything else on the plate is full of protein and nutrition!  I know it may seem a little time consuming, but a lot of the stuff you can pre-prepare ahead of time - like the beans and the pickled onions.

Hope you guys have a great rest of the week!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

NY Strip Steaks w/ Port Wine Shallot Butter

While blogs all over are showcasing turkey this, and turkey that, I thought I'd take a different turn.  Do something completely off the Thanksgiving track.  Steak and frites. 

Anyway, this is another simple, yet fancy meal that can be made any day of the week!

We make beurre blancs for a lot of things on our menu at Jack Fry's.  We do a country ham beurre blanc to go with oysters, a sage beurre blanc for the filet, and a tomato and chive beurre blanc for our salmon.  All of which are A-MAZING.  But I may be partial since I work there.

So it's almost second nature to me to present a dish with a beurre of some sort included as the sauce.  One of the easiest and tastiest sauces you can make, in my opinion.  I mean, really, who doesn't like something covered in butter?  Probably a health nut... but good for us, we're not of that population.


2 NY strip steaks
salt and pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil

Port Wine Shallot Butter:

1/4 cup port wine
1 small shallot, minced
1/2 cup veal/beef stock
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cubed
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 425 F. 

Heat a large oven-proof skillet (a cast iron works great for this) under medium high heat and add olive oil.  Season steaks with salt and pepper on both sides and add to pan.  Sear until nice and caramelized.  Flip steak over and transfer to oven to finish cooking to desired doneness.  We like a good medium rare-medium in our house.  Let rest for about 3-5 minutes before serving.

While the steak is finishing in the oven, you can start your sauce.  Heat a medium saucepan under medium high heat.  Add red wine, shallot, stock, and cracked pepper.  Reduce mixture to about 2 tablespoons.  Turn heat down to low and whisk in butter, a couple cubes at a time, being sure not to add more until the previous cubes are almost fully incorporated.  Continue until all butter is added.  Strain sauce of solids, if desired.  Stir in fresh parsley and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Top steak with butter sauce and serve with a side of your choice - we did frites.  Dig on in!

This is definitely something so simple and quite delicious!  We don't indulge in red meat a lot in our house, but when we do, we do it right!

Hope you all have a great holiday weekend!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Red Snapper w/ Sweet Mustard & Spinach

It's only two days before the big Thanksgiving Feast, here in the states.  My family is all over the place this year, with my dad visiting my brother in Florida, leaving the girls and my mom to fend for ourselves.  My sister is taking care of the main attraction (the turkey!) and I'll be doing all the sides.  I even plan to bust out a from-scratch pecan pie.  So hopefully all runs smoothly for us!  But not too smoothly, of course.  We don't want to end up having to put on Thanksgiving every year.  Hehe.

How do you all plan on celebrating the big Thanksgiving day?!

So I ended up taking home a 6 lb. red snapper yesterday from Whole Foods.  It just looked SO good.  Then I realized, what the heck am I going to do with a 6 lb. red snapper?!  After breaking it down, I ended up with 8 4 oz. fillets.  That's more than enough to feed us for a bit!  So I decided to give 4 of them to a couple close friends.  And with 2 of them I made this fantastic pre-birthday dinner for Andy (whose birthday is indeed today!).  He gobbled it all up without a problem!


2 4 oz. red snapper fillets
flour, for dusting
salt and pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil

Sweet Mustard Sauce:

2 tablespoons dijon mustard (I used the whole grain variety)
3 tablespoons boiling water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1-2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon soy sauce
juice from 1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
salt and pepper, to taste

1/2 lb. spinach, stems removed
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
 salt and pepper, to taste

Caramelized Apples:

1 Granny Smith Apple, core removed and cut into 8 wedges
2 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons brown sugar

Preheat oven to 425 F.

Make your mustard sauce first.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the dijon mustard and boiling water, adding the water in small increments in order to create a smooth emulsion.

Slowly drizzle in vegetable oil, whisking constantly, until all is incorporated.  Stir in honey, soy sauce, lemon juice, and parsley.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Set aside, until needed.

In a medium saute pan, melt the butter with the brown sugar.  When the sugar is dissolved, add your apple wedges.  Cook until the apples start to soften and are warm.  Hold warm until needed.

Heat a large oven-proof saute pan under medium high heat.  Add butter and oil to pan.  Season both sides of snapper fillets with salt and pepper.  Dust with flour, shaking off any excess.  Add snapper to the pan and cook until browned.  Carefully flip fish over and transfer pan to oven to finish cooking, about 3 minutes was perfect on these.

During those 3 minutes you can quickly saute your spinach.  Add butter to a medium pan under medium high heat.  When butter is melted, add spinach.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cook spinach until wilted.  I find it's easiest to keep the spinach moving, to create steam.  This helps the spinach wilt faster, but you don't necessary have to do that if you don't want to.

To plate, arrange half of the spinach on each plate.  Top with snapper fillet.  Arrange the caramelized apples around snapper.  Finally, drizzle the sweet mustard sauce over top of the snapper.  Enjoy!

This is definitely a keeper dish!  Andy loves snapper more than any other fish, and I'm glad we've got a couple extra fillets in the freezer for when his craving strikes next!  I'm off to finish baking Andy's birthday cake - hope you all have a great day!

Friday, November 16, 2012

French Fries w/ Herbed Mayonnaise

Mayonnaise and I have a love-hate relationship.  I can love her when spread thinly across a piece of bread in between a sandwich.  I can love her mixed in with chicken or tuna salad.  I can even love her when mixed as a salad dressing.

However, where I draw the line to loving her and start hating her, is when she's used as a dip - such as aioli (which is basically a garlic mayonnaise).  When she's hidden, she's fine.  But when she's just out in the open, I get kinda weird.  I know, makes no sense. 

But homemade mayo.  Now that's a different story.  It doesn't quite possess the "weirdness" that I'm afraid of.  It's a whole other breed of sauce to me.  Mixed with a few herbs, and all my fear suddenly goes away.  I can fearlessly dip fry after fry in the stuff and be okay.  Well, somewhat okay.  It's still mayo, at the end of the day, and we've got to watch our portions! 

Anyway, this one's a keeper, even for the mayo-haters out there!


French Fries:

2 russet potatoes, battonet (1/4" x 1/4" x 2")
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

Herbed Mayonnaise:

1/4 cup spinach leaves, stemmed
2 tablespoons shallots, chopped
1/4 cup parsley leaves
1/2 tablespoons dried tarragon
2 egg yolks
1 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon mustard
1 & 1/2 cups vegetable oil
 salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 425 F.

Toss the potatoes in olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for about 25-30 minutes, flipping the potatoes once or twice in between.

To make the mayonnaise, bring a small saucepan of water to a boil.  Add the spinach, shallots, parsley, and tarragon.  Boil for about 2-3 minutes, or until leaves are wilted.  Drain the herbs and run under cold water until cool.  Squeeze out excess moisture.  Chop the herbs finely.

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks until lighter in color and slightly thickened.  Whisk in red wine vinegar and mustard.  Whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in the vegetable oil, being careful not to add more until the previous amount is fully emulsified.  Continue until all of the vegetable oil is incorporated.

Stir in the finely chopped herbs and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Serve the french fries along side the herbed mayonnaise or condiment of your choice! 

This mayo is good enough that I put it on sandwiches, hot dogs, french fries, whatever!  For a mayo hater like myself, it does just the trick!

Hope you guys have a great weekend!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Porcini-Dusted Salmon w/ Sauce Colbert & Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Hey guys!  November 13th is always a weird day for me.  It marks a day where someone close to me passed away.  No matter how much time passes (8 years today), it always seems like just yesterday that it happened.  I don't want to go into too much detail, because I don't want to depress anybody, but I definitely wouldn't be the person I am today without the impact of this person in my life.

This dish is elegant and tasty.  Easier than it looks, and definitely will impress dinner guests!

I love using dried porcini mushrooms as a component in dishes.  Just grind them up in a spice grinder and you have a powder that can bring a dish from ordinary to magical in a matter of seconds!  Definitely a secret ingredient I'd keep handy!

The sauce is basically a bearnaise sauce with the addition of a demi-glace.  In this case, a seafood demi-glace.



2 6 oz. portions of salmon
salt and pepper, to taste
2 teaspoons of dried porcini mushroom powder
flour, for dusting
1 tablespoon olive oil

Sauce Colbert:

1/4 cup champagne vinegar (I had an orange-infused one that brought some citrus flair to the sauce)
1/4 cup white wine 
1 tablespoon shallot, minced
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
salt and pepper, to taste
3 egg yolks
2 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter
1/2 cup melted butter
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
1 cup seafood stock

Garlic Mashed Potatoes:

3 large red potatoes, washed and quartered
1/4 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup goat cheese, crumbled
5 cloves roasted garlic
salt and pepper, to taste

Start by making your sauce.  In a small saucepan, combine the champagne vinegar, white wine, shallot, and tarragon.  Reduce mixture until it is about 2 tablespoons.  Strain and let cool. 

In another small saucepan, add the seafood stock and reduce to about 2-3 tablespoons.  Skim for any impurities and set aside.

Set up a double boiler under medium low heat.  Beat the egg yolks in the bowl until they are a pale yellow and slightly thicken.  Be careful not to let the eggs cook rapidly because you'll end up with a curdled mess.  You can remove the bowl from the double boiler, if needed.

Strain the cooled vinegar liquid into the egg yolks and continue to slowly cook, whisking constantly, over the double boiler.  Whisk in the cold butter, one tablespoon at a time, until fully incorporated.  Slowly drizzle in the melted butter, about a tablespoon at a time.  Don't add any more in until the previous amount it whisked in - this is similar to making a hollandaise or mayonnaise. 

When all the butter is incorporated and the sauce is at your desired consistency, whisk in the reduced seafood stock and chopped parsley.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Reserve sauce under low heat, keeping an eye on it to make sure the eggs do not curdle. (I basically just let my bowl sit over the double boiler with the heat turned off, the residual heat should be enough to get you through cooking the rest of your meal).

Preheat oven to 425 F.

To make the mashed potatoes, add the potatoes to a medium saucepan and cover with water.  Boil until tender, about 20-25 minutes.  Drain and return to saucepan.  Add heavy cream, butter, goat cheese, and roasted garlic.  Mash until you reach your desired consistency - I like lumps, so I like to leave it very rustic.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Place about 1/2 cup of flour in a pan.  Season both sides of salmon with salt and pepper.  Dust each piece of salmon with about 1 teaspoon of porcini mushroom powder.  Then dredge each piece of salmon in the flour, shaking off any excess.

Heat an oven-proof skillet under medium high heat and add olive oil.  Add salmon to pan, presentation-side down and cook until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes.  Flip salmon over and transfer pan to the oven and cook until flaky, about 5 minutes (I like my salmon on the medium rare to medium side).

To plate, place a mound of mashed potatoes in the center of your plate.  Top with the salmon fillet.  Drizzle sauce atop salmon and around plate.  Garnish with parsley.  Voila!  A simple meal that is full of flavor!

Hope you guys have a great rest of the week!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Chicken Breasts w/ Penne & Garlic & Herb Tomato Sauce

Happy weekend everyone!

We'll be headed to Lexington, KY this evening to take part in a Kentucky Food Blogger event hosted by Kate from Simply Nutritious by Kate.  She just moved in to an awesome studio kitchen where she teaches a variety of health-focused classes.  I'm definitely excited to check it out and see what she's whipped up for us!

Anyway, this is one of those simple and delicious dinners.  You can choose to get canned diced tomatoes if you'd like, but if you want to put a little extra love into it, I highly suggest getting some vine-ripened tomatoes, peeling, seeding, and cutting them.  It really isn't THAT much more time-consuming.  =)


Tomato Sauce:

1 small onion, small diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons flour
6-8 vine-ripened tomatoes, peeled, seeded, & roughly chopped (juice reserved)
1 teaspoon sugar
2 cloves of garlic, mashed
cheesecloth sachet filled with parsley stems, bay leaf, and black peppercorns
pinch of fennel seeds
pinch of saffron
pinch of ground coriander
zest from 1 orange
salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons tomato paste

Penne Pasta

2 chicken breasts, skin on
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

The longer your tomato sauce sits on the stove, the more flavor that will develop.  However, it only needs about 30 minutes to be finished, so don't fret that you don't have time =)

In a medium stockpot, cook the onions and olive oil under medium low heat until the onions are translucent, about 8-10 minutes.

Stir in the flour and cook for about 2-3 minutes, until a slight roux is formed.

Add in the tomatoes, tomato juice, sugar, garlic, sachet, fennel, saffron, coriander, and orange zest.  Cover the pot and raise the heat to medium.  Cook for about 10 minutes to the tomatoes will release more of their liquid.  Remove lid and let simmer for at least 30 more minutes, adding water if sauce becomes to thick or risks burning.  Stir in tomato paste for deeper color and let simmer for about 2-3 minutes.  Remove herb sachet and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Preheat oven to 425 F.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add penne and cook until al dente.  Drain, reserving about 1 cup of the pasta water.

Heat a large oven-proof skillet under medium high heat and melt butter.  Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper on both sides.  Add chicken, skin-side down to pan and cook until skin is golden brown, about 4-5 minutes.  Turn chicken over and transfer pan to oven to finish cooking, about 10 minutes, depending on the thickness of your chicken breasts.  Let chicken rest for about 5 minutes before slicing.

Add pasta to tomato sauce, adding additional pasta water, if necessary.  Toss until pasta is well-coated.  Place a decent amount of pasta on plate and top with sliced chicken and garnish with chopped parsley.

A little effort goes a long way.  This tomato sauce has floral and citrus notes that compares to no other.  Andy said it was one of the best pasta sauces he's ever had.  Score!  Hope you guys try this soon =)  Have a great weekend!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Secret Recipe Club: Greek Frappe Coffee

It's Secret Recipe Club reveal day!

I like my coffee dark =)

SRC is like a Secret Santa for food bloggers.  Each blogger is assigned a "secret" blog and given the task of recreating a recipe from that blog.  It's so much fun!  If you haven't taken part before, I highly suggest you do so!

This month I received Cheap Ethnic Eatz.  Evelyne, the author, allows one to discover different cuisines, flavors, ingredients, and cultures from all around the world.  Now who wouldn't love that?!

It was hard to choose a recipe, especially since this month has been c.r.a.z.y.  I haven't had time to do much cooking, so I had to choose something quick and fast.  I can't survive without my daily cup of coffee, so when I saw a twist on it with the Greek Frappe Coffee, I knew I had found my quick ethnic treat!  However, I'll be experimenting with Evelyne's Beet Green Burger in the future because it just sounds too good to pass up!

Recipe from Cheap Ethnic Eatz

2 teaspoons instant coffee
3/4 cup cold water
1 teaspoon sugar
milk, to taste
ice cubes

Place instant coffee, sugar, and about 1/4 cup water in a shaker.  Shake until mixture is thick and foamy.  Pour into a glass filled with ice cubes, along with the rest of the water and milk, to taste. 

This was definitely a great way to start my busy day!  It may be cold outside, but these iced coffees are still going to be happening!

Want to join SRC?  Click here to find out how!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Steak Roulade w/ Caramelized Onions, Bacon, & Cheese

It's Friday!  Woohoo!

I don't have another day off until next Thursday, but at least it's one day closer to that!  Thinking positive, right?

My poor little Mocha dog is going through some allergies and is puffy and swollen all over.  I feel bad for the little girl, but the vet said all we can do is wait it out and keep giving her Benadryl like we have been.  Still don't like my little girl feeling like she does!

Anyway, we're gonna keep it low key this weekend, probably, so nothing exciting to report.

Andy did say that this dinner was one of the best he's had in quite some time.  Always a win in my book!  You can really stuff the roulade with whatever you fancy, I happened to have some onions in the pantry, some bacon in the fridge, and some nice Cocoa Cordona goat's milk cheese in the crisper (it's dusted with cocoa powder and is out. of. this. world.)


Sauce Brune:

1 small carrot, peeled and diced
2 celery ribs, diced
1/2 small onion, diced
1/4 cup country ham, diced
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons flour
6 cups beef stock
2 tablespoons tomato paste
10 parsley stems
2 bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
salt and pepper, to taste


1 lb. flank steak, pounded to about 1/4 inch thickness
1 onion, sliced thinly
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3 pieces of bacon, cut into 1/4 inch thin strips
 1/4 cup cheese, shredded (I used Cocoa Cordona, but feel free to use whatever cheese you fancy!)
4 tablespoons stone ground mustard
salt and pepper, to taste

You'll want to get your sauce started first.  It takes a little while for it to reduce and develop flavor. 

Heat a large saucepan under medium high heat and melt the butter.  Add the carrot, celery, onion, and country ham.  Do not skip the country ham.  I think it really gives the sauce a depth of flavor that you don't get with just plain mirepoix.  However, do watch your salt - since the ham is cured, it's pretty salty to begin with, so you may not even have to season with any additional (I didn't).  Cook the vegetables until they are starting to become tender and the onions are translucent.

Stir in the flour to make a roux.  Cook roux for about 10 minutes, or until it begins a nice nutty brown color.

Slowly stir in your beef stock, whisking constantly to prevent lumps.  Add tomato paste, parsley stems, bay leaves, and thyme.  Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.  Leave partially covered and simmer for at least an hour to develop flavors.

Skim off any fat or scum as you see fit.  When the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, strain the liquid of the solids.  Season to taste and keep warm until ready to use.

While your sauce is simmering, you can caramelize your onions and cook your bacon.  Melt the butter in a large saute pan under medium heat.  Add onions and cook under low to medium heat until caramelized and golden brown, about 30 minutes.  Don't rush the onions, the slower they cook, the sweeter and tastier they'll be.  You don't want any browning, so be sure to stir them every so often.  Place onions in a medium bowl to cool.

Heat a small skillet under medium heat and add your strips of bacon.  Cook until crisp, then remove with a slotted spoon, transferring to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.  When bacon is dry, add in with onions.  Reserve about 3 tablespoons of the rendered bacon fat from the pan.

Add shredded cheese to bowl with onions and bacon and mix well.  Taste for seasoning.

Place the flank steak horizontally in front of you (so that it is widest).  Spread the mustard atop the steak.  Place an even layer of the filling over top of the mustard.  Roll the steak up, like a jelly roll, keeping it as tight as possible.  Cut in half and tie each roulade like a roast with some kitchen twine.  Season the roulade with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 425 F.

Heat a large oven-proof skillet under medium high heat and add reserved bacon fat.  Add the roulades and cook until all sides are golden brown and caramelized.  Transfer the pan to the even to finish cooking, about 15-20 minutes, depending on your desired doneness.  Let roulades rest for at least 5 minutes before removing kitchen twine and slicing.

Remove kitchen twine with kitchen scissors and cut roulades into 1/2 inch slices.  Serve atop sauce brune and with desired vegetable or starch.  You've got a fancy meal that's simple and delicious!  And any leftover sauce brune you can freeze - that way you'll have a tasty sauce at the ready next time!

Have you ever made a roulade?  What do you like to stuff your roulades with?

Hope you all have a great weekend!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Foodie Pen Pals - October

This is my second month in Foodie Pen Pals and it was just as good as my first! 

This month, my pen pal was Kate from New Orleans, Louisiana!  She blogs over at Kate Is Eating, which is an awesome new blog for me!  New Orleans is one of my all time favorite cities to visit - we used to go to Jazz Fest every year when I was in college.  It's definitely a fun time so I was excited to see what Kate would send me!

And boy did she do a good job!

I'm definitely excited to use the "Slap Ya Mama" spice blend.  My husband and I love spicy and creole-type food, so it will be put to use soon!

And of course, the Cajun Jambalaya mix will definitely be involved in our dinner rotation too!

I have a secret sweet tooth and Kate hit it right on the head!  I've already eaten both of the chocolate bars she game me and I've been trying to hold out on that Praline, but my will power might not be strong enough to last me through the rest of the day!

She also included some Justin's Nut Butter - Chocolate Hazelnut and Maple Almond - both of which are already gone too.  They made THE best sandwich butters!

And lastly, a jar of some fig preserves that will likely be incorporated into my next baked good - I'm thinking thumbprint cookies are in order!

Thanks so much Kate for sending me and awesome October box!

The Lean Green Bean

Friday, October 26, 2012

Roasted Chicken Breasts w/ Broccoli and Pan Reduction

We've finally reached Friday!

How was everyone's?  Ours has been pretty boring.  Work and school.  Work and school.  I had yesterday and today off of work so we've been keeping pretty busy.  We ended up carving our pumpkins last night - I did a Grim Reaper and it was AWESOME!  Don't know what we'll end up doing tonight, but I wouldn't complain if we just snuggled up on the couch and watched a Netflix movie! 

Anyway, this is another simple meal!  And it's healthy, to boot!  Sauces can be as complex or as simple as you make them.  This dish utilizes the simplest of all sauces.  A pan reduction.  That's basically taking the little bits left over in a pan (fond) from sauteing a piece of meat and deglazing the pan with liquid.  In our case, wine and chicken stock.  Then reducing that liquid until it's thick, and then we mount it with butter to get a sheen and added flavor.  Easy enough, right?! Right.


2 chicken breasts
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste


2 cups chicken stock
1/3 cup onion, diced
1/4 cup carrot, diced
1/4 cup celery, diced
1/2 cup white wine
2 parsley stems
1 bay leaf
pinch of dried thyme
salt and pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 cup broccoli crowns, blanched
toasted sliced almonds, for garnish
salt and pepper, to taste

First, we'll fortify our chicken stock.  You don't necessarily have to do this, but I feel it adds more flavor to those store-bought chicken stocks that always seem so bland.

In a large saucepan, combine the chicken stock, onion, carrot, celery, white wine, parsley stems, bay leaf, and thyme.  Simmer for about 30 minutes, then strain, discarding the solids.  Don't worry about seasoning it with salt and pepper, because we'll do that after it's reduced.  If you do it now, you'll end up intensifying the salt flavor when you reduce it and it'll end up being overkill in the end.

Heat the oil in a large saute pan under medium high heat.  Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper.  Add to pan and cook until golden brown on both sides and white throughout.  Transfer to a plate, cover, and let rest while you make your sauce.

Deglaze the saute pan with your fortified stock, scraping up the little pieces stuck to the bottom.  Reduce by at least half, then mount with the butter.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

To plate, place about 1/2 cup of broccoli crowns in center of plate. Top with chicken breast (you can cut it in half like I did if your chicken breast is too big).  Drizzle sauce on top of chicken and around plate.  Voila!  Dinner time!

Hope you all have a great weekend!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Roasted Chicken w/ Creamy Spinach-Celery Root Puree, Sauteed Apples, & Bacon

Hello guys!  How was everyone's weekend?  Mine was ABSOLUTELY phenomenal!  Saturday was my birthday and my friends and family made it such a special treat!  We went and ate at 610 Magnolia (Ed Lee's restaurant of Top Chef fame) and it was such a killer meal.  SO. SO. SO. SO Good!  My chef is pretty good friends with Ed Lee and we ended up getting a complimentary bottle of champagne on Ed, himself!  It pays to have connections, doesn't it?!  After dinner, a few friends showed up at a cheap bar for drinks.  Such a fun time and I'm so lucky to be surrounded by such amazing and caring people!

I competed in the San Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef competition on Friday, as well.  I didn't win, but I'm thankful to have the experience to be apart of something like that.  The girl that did win, deserved it on so many levels.  Her plate of food was just stunning, elegant, and perfect.  I hope she represents Kentucky well in Chicago!

Anyway, I made this dinner for my friends on Friday night and thought I'd share with you guys.  Looks fancy, but it's something so easy and so tasty - sure to impress anybody =)


2 chicken breasts, skin on
salt and pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil

Spinach-Celery Root Puree:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small onion, diced
1 cup celery root, peeled and cut into small cubes
1 lb. fresh spinach
juice from 1 lemon
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper, to taste

2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and each cut into 8 wedges
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

2-4 strips of bacon, cooked and broken into 1/2 inch pieces

Preheat oven to 400F.

Start by making the spinach-celery root puree.  Heat a large saucepan under medium high heat.  Melt butter then add onions and celery root cubes.  Saute until onions become translucent and celery root is starting to soften.

Add in spinach and lemon juice and stir until spinach is wilted.

Add in flour and cook until somewhat of a paste is formed, about 2-3 minutes.

Add in stock and bring to a simmer.  Stir in heavy cream and simmer for about 5 minutes.  Blend mixture with an immersion blender and season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Keep warm until ready to use.

Heat an oven-proof skillet under medium high heat.  Add olive oil and heat until shimmering.  Season chicken with salt and pepper and place skin-side down into pan.  Cook until skin is golden brown, about 3-4 minutes.  Flip chicken breast over and place pan in the oven to cook until white throughout, about 6-8 minutes, depending on the size of your chicken breast.

While the chicken is in the oven, you can cook your apples.  Heat a medium saucepan under medium high heat and add butter.  Sprinkle the apple slices with cinnamon and add to pan.  Cook until softened and starting to brown, about 5 minutes or so.

Remove chicken from oven and let rest for about 3-5 minutes.

To plate, place a good dollop of the spinach-celery root puree in the center of the plate.  Place about 5 apples slices in a line over top of the puree.  Top the apples with the chicken breast.  Sprinkle crumbled bacon around plate.


The puree may not be the most pleasant color in the world, but it sure is tasty!  The whole plate comes together in no time and is basically a no fuss type of meal.  And not to mention the presentation - definitely will wow your dinner guests!

Hope you all have a great start to your week!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Salmon Croquette Burger

How's everyone's weekend going?  It's been pretty busy around these parts, so I'm sorry for my lack of posts.  I've got some big things coming up this week - yesterday I was at the Muhammad Ali Center for the Mayor's International Gala.  I competed against 7 other teams in an international culinary competition.  My group drew Ecuador and we placed 2nd - only by a 1 point loss!  It was an awesome experience, and the fact that many people came up to me and had multiple tastings of our dish, as well as saying it was the best they'd had all night.  That was prize enough!  And I couldn't have lost to anybody better - the 1st place team included my usual lab partner in class, so I was so happy for her!

And I've also been chosen as a participant to enter into the San Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef competition.  I'm most excited about this because the ultimate winner (I'd have to get through 3 rounds: Locally against the Sullivan Lexington campus, Regionally in Chicago against all the Northwest Region champs, and Nationally in Napa Valley against all the regional winners) gets a $10,000 cash prize, a 1 year externship at a celebrity chef's restaurant, and a media tour with San Pellegrino.  A chance. of. a. lifetime.  So I'm crossing my fingers that I at least place out of the local competition and get a trip to Chicago, but it would be hella neat if I got to go to Napa Valley too, right?!


A little while back, I went to lunch at the Marketplace Restaurant with a couple of old co-workers.  I had the most amazing salmon croquette sandwich and have been craving it ever since.  So I decided to whip up my own version at home!


1/4 cup onion, small diced
1 cup potatoes, cooked and mashed
1/4 cup scallions, chopped
1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning
1 tablespoon lemon pepper seasoning
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
1 lb. salmon, poached and flaked
1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
juice from 1 lemon
flour, for breading
egg wash, for breading
breadcrumbs, for breading
vegetable oil, for frying

Lettuce, Bread, Mayo, etc. for sandwich compilation

Heat a large saute pan under medium high heat and melt butter.  Add onions and cook until translucent.

Add the flour to make a roux. 

Add milk and whisk constantly until no lumps remain.  Cook until a slightly thick bechamel is formed, about 5 minutes.

Remove from heat and transfer to a medium mixing bowl.  Add the salmon, dill, salt, pepper, lemon juice, scallions, mashed potatoes, Old Bay seasoning, and lemon pepper seasoning.

Place mixture in the fridge to firm up and chill, about 10-15 minutes.

Set up a 3 compartment breading station (one pan flour, one pan egg wash, one pan breadcrumbs).

Portion the mixture into 8 oz. patties (or desired size).  Dredge each patty in flour, then egg wash, then finally breadcrumbs.

Heat a deep fryer or oil in a heavy-bottomed pan to about 375F.  Fry each patty for about 2-3 minutes, or until golden brown.  Drain each patty on a paper towel-lined plate and season with salt, if needed.

Assemble the salmon burger to suit your tastes.  We put ours between two pieces of white bread, and topped with some green leaf lettuce and mayonnaise.  Pretty darn easy, tasty, quick!

What's your favorite way to put together a salmon burger?

Monday, October 8, 2012

SRC October: Zesty Sicilian Rice Fritters

It's Reveal Day for the Secret Recipe Club Group A!  My favorite day of the month!

This month I had the pleasure to be assigned the blog Recipe Taster.  I was unfamiliar with Al's blog, but quickly fell in love with it.  Al presents food in a sophisticated and artistic way - every plate, I am mesmerized by the artistry and creativity that unfolds.  And not to mention my mouth just completely waters at every sight!

I was really craving something new and sweet, so when I saw these rice fritters, I knew I had found my match!  It's basically little balls of sweet and delicious rice pudding, deep fried, and drizzled with a delicious orange honey sauce.  Yeah, I had to work out extra hard after having quite a few of these babies! 

Recipe adapted from Recipe Taster's blog


150g short grain rice, as for rice pudding
400g milk
150g cream
zest from 1 orange
zest from 1 lemon
3 & 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon baking powder 
Vegetable oil, for frying

Honey sauce:

6 tablespoons honey
juice of 1 orange
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

In a medium saucepan, bring the milk and cream to a simmer.  Stir in the orange zest, lemon zest, rice, and sugar.  Bring back to a simmer, stirring every now and then.  Cover with a lid and turn the flame to low.

Stir the rice pudding occasionally to be sure it doesn't stick to the bottom.  This will become particularly important toward the end of the cooking process when the pudding will become thicker. If the pudding becomes too dry before the rice is cooked, add extra milk.

The rice is cooked when the pudding looks quite dry and thick. Turn off the heat and let it come to room temperature, stirring it every now and then.

In a separate bowl beat the egg with a fork and mix in the cold rice pudding a little at a time, breaking all the clumps.

In a deep enough pot, bring 1inch of vegetable oil up to frying temperature (180C should suffice). When the oil is almost ready, stir the baking powder into the rice mix. Using two spoons scoop some of the rice batter and shape it into quenelles or little balls.

Fry until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes.  Drain on a paper towel-lined plate. 

To make the sauce, combine the honey, orange juice, and cinnamon in a small saucepan under medium heat.  Stir until flavors meld together, about 3-5 minutes.

Drizzle sauce on top of fritters and dust with powdered sugar.  Enjoy!

Thanks Al for this sweet and tasty treat!

Want to join SRC?  Find out how, here!