Little Gem Salad with Buttermilk Vinaigrette

I am addicted to little gem lettuce — it’s kind of like a miniature romaine.  Lunardi’s, one of my favorite grocery stores, carries it, and it’s the only place I can find it except for the farmer’s market occasionally.   This is a pretty and delicious salad —  my new fave.

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Dressing
1 small shallot
1 1/2 tablespoons Moscatel vinegar
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon creme fraiche
1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil

Mince the shallot, then place in a medium bowl, and add the Moscatel vinegar.  Allow to macerate for about 10 minutes.

Add the buttermilk and creme fraiche and stir.  Whisk in the olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Salad
1 head of little gem lettuce
2 tablespoons toasted breadcrumbs
2 leaves of basil, chopped
1 radish, thinly sliced
8 thin slices of fennel (cut the bulb in half, lengthwise, then slice into half moons)

kosher salt, to taste
freshly ground pepper

In another bowl, combine the gem lettuce,   toasted bread crumbs, basil, radish and fennel.  Whisk the vinaigrette, then pour over the salad.  Toss to coat the salad evenly.

To plate, stack the leaves from largest to smallest, making sure to include the vegetables and  basil.

Recipe by Brian Huston

 

 

Pasta all Gricia

A 15 minute dinner from beginning to end with few ingredients — super delicious and so easy to make. Be sure to save a cup of the water you cook the pasta in. I’m straight up licking every drop off my fingers, it’s that good.

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INGREDIENTS
Kosher salt, to taste

1 pound spaghetti

1 tablespoon olive oil

7 ounces guanciale, cut into 1½-by-½-inch strips. I can’t ever find guanciale in the third world country of Silicon Valley, so I buy 4 slices of pancetta at the deli counter and ask them to cut it in about 1/4″ slices.

½ cup white wine

1 cup grated Pecorino Romano, plus more for garnish

a pinch of red pepper flakes, or to taste

2 tablespoons minced parsley

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS
1. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil over high heat. Season the water with salt. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, 9 to 11 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid. DON’T FORGET TO SAVE THE WATER!!!

2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the guanciale and cook, turning often, until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes.

3. Add the white wine and red pepper flakes, and cook until slightly reduced, 2 minutes. Pour in the reserved 1 cup of cooking liquid and bring to a simmer.

4. Add the pasta and the grated cheese and toss to coat. Cook, stirring vigorously, until a thick, silky sauce forms, 2 to 3 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper.

5. Divide the pasta between plates and garnish with the minced parsley and more grated cheese and freshly ground black pepper, and eat it up!

Winter Time Salsa

This Fall  I cooked some delicious Mexican food with my friends Hector and Julio.  We made a bunch of tamales, short rib tacos, chicken with an incredible mole, rice . . . what DIDN’T we make?!  And we made a bunch of yummy salsas.  From that party emerged Culo de Fuego — A couple times a month, we make two salsas and share them at brunch at work.   We’ve had tomatillo avocado salsa, habanero salsa, corn and black bean salsa, a smoky chipotle salsa, salsa fresca, queso — pomegranate –cucumber, and I can’t think of what else.   It’s been delicious and fun and mind opening.

winter salsa

 

I am not a fan of winter tomatoes, so I tend to avoid salsas  that contain them, but I was so hungry for a tomato salsa for shrimp tacos the other night that I decided to make one from canned fire roasted tomatoes — it. was. AWESOME.  I use canned marzano tomatoes all year round for Italian sauces — why not Mexican?  Super fast — super delish.

INGREDIENTS
  • 2 14 ounce cans fire-roasted canned tomatoes puréed
  • ½ cup roasted red pepper (jarred), packed
  • 1 4-ounce can green chiles (these are not spicy, just add great flavor)
  • ½ small red onion, roughly chopped
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro (leaves and stems), packed
  • 6 medium green (spring) onions, cut in two inch pieces
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1-2 small jalapeños, seeded (if you like a spicier flavor, leaves the seeds in)
  • 1 tablespoon of sherry vinegar (I just like the taste)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Drain the tomatoes, reserving the juice.
  2. Combine all ingredients except reserved tomato juice in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse on and off until all ingredients are finely chopped and salsa is desired consistency. I like it a bit chunky, but if you like a smoother salsa, just keep pulsing. If you like a thinner salsa, add a small amount of the reserved tomato juice and pulse one more time.
  3. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed. Serve with chips, tacos, or just drink it!

Crispy Sprouts and Cider Short Ribs Pizza

All major food groups present on this one:  short ribs, brussel sprouts and lots of cheese!  Check!

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Ingredients:

cider braised short ribs
5 pounds beef short ribs (about 6 to 8 ribs)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/3 cup hard cider

pizza dough
1 1/8 cups warm water
3 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt

crispy sprouts and shallots
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3 shallots, sliced
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1/2 pound brussels sprouts, stems removed and sliced until shredded

1 tablespoon olive oil
6 ounces fontina cheese, freshly grated
4 ounces gruyere cheese, freshly grated
2 ounces parmiaggiano-reggiano cheese, freshly grated

directions:

cider braised short ribs
Heat a large dutch oven over medium-high heat and add olive oil and butter. Season the short ribs with salt and pepper. Add the short ribs (fat side up) to the pot to sear. Sear until deeply golden on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Pour in the cider, reduce the heat to medium and allow the alcohol to cook out for a few minutes. Once it is not longer smoking, reduce the heat to low and cover. Cook for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, or until the short ribs are falling off the bone. If at any time the liquid level is low in the pot, add a little stock or more cider. You can do this ahead of time!

Once the ribs are cooked, remove and let cool until you can tough. Pull the meat from the bone. Note: about halfway through the ribs cook time is when I start the dough.

dough
In a large bowl, combine water, yeast, honey and olive oil. Mix with a spoon, then let sit until foamy, about 10 minutes. Add in 2 1/2 cups flour and salt, stirring with a spoon until the dough comes together but is still sticky. Using your hands, form the dough into a ball and work in the additional 1/2 cup flour, kneading it on a floured surface for a few minutes. Rub the same bowl with olive oil then place the dough inside, turning to coat. Cover with a towel and place in a warm place to rise for about 1-1 1/2 hours.

After the dough has risen, punch it down and place it back on the floured surface. Using a rolling pin or your hands, form it into your desired shape (sometimes I use baking sheets and do rectangles or free form pizzas – this specific dough will yield one pizza large enough to feed about 3-4 people) and place on a baking sheet or pizza peel. Place the towel back over the dough and let sit in the warm place for 10 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. (If I use my pizza stone, I heat my oven to 475 degrees and bake for 15 minutes. If you’re just using a baking sheet, follow the directions below for baking and set to 425 degrees.)

crispy sprouts and shallots
Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat and add the olive oil and butter. Add in the onions with the sugar and stir to coat. Cook, stirring occaisonally, until the shallots are caramelized, about 15 minutes. Add in the brussels and stir to coat. Increase the heat to medium and cook until the brussels are bright green and crisp, about 5 more minutes. Add a pinch of salt and pepper if desired.

Brush the pizza dough with the olive oil. Add a few handfuls of cheese to the dough, then cover liberally with the shallots, brussels and short ribs. Top with the remaining cheese. Bake for 25 to 30 minute (or a little less if using the stone) or until the cheese is golden and bubbly. Remove and let cool slightly before serving. If desired, sprinkle a little parmesan cheese and fresh herbs on top.

Spaghetti with Tomato Conserva, Pancetta and Romano

Football,  and pasta.  Thank you Fine Cooking (for the pasta part).   On a day when my picks for my football pool went down in flames, I comforted myself with a delicious pasta with the end of summer tomatoes.

This is really a Pasta d’Amatriciana, but with more deeply flavored tomatoes.

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Start with the tomato conserva:

  • 4 lb. ripe, meaty tomatoes, such as beefsteak or plum, cored and sliced crosswise 1/2 inch thick
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F.Divide the tomatoes and garlic between two large rimmed baking sheets. Drizzle the oil over the tomatoes and season with 1tsp. salt and several grinds of pepper. Gently toss the tomatoes to evenly coat with the oil and then spread in a single layer.Put the sheets in the oven and lower the heat to 225°F and go watch a couple football games. Slowly roast, switching the positions of the sheets halfway through, until the tomatoes look like juicy sun-dried tomatoes, wrinkly and slightly browned in spots, 5 to 6 hours,  BUT HONESTLY — MINE WERE DONE IN ABOUT 3  1/4 HOURS.  Let the tomatoes cool for at least 10 minutes before serving or using.
  • Leftovers

    The conserva can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 2 months.

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THEN when you’re ready for dinner:

  • Kosher salt
  • 1 lb. dried spaghetti
  • 5 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 oz. thinly sliced fatty pancetta, cut into 1/2-inch strips
  • 2 cups Tomato Conserva,  coarsely chopped (recipe above)
  • 1/4 — 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (I lean toward the less is more version)
  • 2 oz. finely grated aged Pecorino Romano (2 cups using a microplane grater)
  • 1/2 cup packed whole flat-leaf parsley leaves, minced
  • some toasted pine nuts taste really great with this too

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta for 1 minute less than package directions for al dente. Reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water and then drain the pasta.

Meanwhile, heat 3 Tbs. of the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden-brown, about 3 minutes.

Add the conserva, red pepper flakes, and 1/2 cup of the pasta water and toss to combine. Add the pasta and cook, tossing, until al dente, 1to 2 minutes. Turn the heat to medium low and add the remaining 2 Tbs. olive oil, half of the pecorino, and the parsley. Toss, adding more pasta water, if needed, to loosen the sauce. Season to taste with salt and serve.

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