Cooking

Orzo with Lemon Garlic Butter

Orzo with Lemon Garlic Butter      www.morewinelesswhines.com

Assembling Ingredients for Orzo with Lemon Garlic Butter

This weekend, we were in the middle of the first real snowstorm in Chicago’s 2014-2015 winter season!  So far, we have received about 19″ of snow.  Yesterday and again this morning, my husband and I went outside to finish shoveling the driveway and sidewalks.  The snow is the heavy, “packing” kind,  perfect for kids wanting to make snowmen and forts, but really irritating for adults trying to clear footpaths!  Stella was jumping around like a kangaroo in the snow!  This was before it got too deep for her.  After a few more hours, we ended up clearing a path in the backyard so she could walk without having the snow reach up past her   fluffy tail!

Stella Bear Braving Chicago's Big Winter Snow       www.morewinelesswhines.com

Stella Bear Braving Chicago’s Big Winter Snow

When we got inside from shoveling, I wanted something quick, simple and a lot like buttered noodles.  I made this ridiculously simple dish that does not even need a recipe once you make it a few times.   I put 1/2 a box of orzo in a pot of salted, boiling water.  I drained the orzo and made my butter-olive oil blend fancy by flavoring it with lemon peel and sliced garlic cloves.  Then, I stirred in some lemon juice, Romano cheese and parsley to finish the dish.  Easy!

Orzo with Lemon Garlic Butter    www.morewinelesswhines.com

Orzo with Lemon Garlic Butter

Orzo with Lemon Garlic Butter     www.morewinelesswhines.com

Orzo with Lemon Garlic Butter

Orzo with Lemon Garlic Butter      www.morewinelesswhines.com

Orzo with Lemon Garlic Butter

Orzo with Lemon Garlic Butter

serves 2

1 c. orzo
2 T. unsalted butter
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 2″ lemon peel
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
Juice from 1/2 a lemon
1/4 c. parsley, minced
1/3 c. Romano cheese + extra for serving
sea salt & pepper to taste

Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add Orzo. Cook according to package directions until ‘al dente.’ You are better off undercooking the orzo at this point. Drain into a colander and transfer to a medium glass or heat-safe bowl*. Return pot to medium heat. Melt butter in pan and add olive oil. Gently place the sliced garlic and lemon peel in the butter/oil and stir a little bit. BE CAREFUL! Let bubble until garlic just barely starts to turn golden, ~30-60 seconds.  (It will go from golden to burned quickly) Remove garlic and lemon peel from pan with slotted spoon. Let cool on a plate before discarding.

Pour flavored butter/olive oil over the orzo. Stir in lemon juice, parsley and Romano cheese. Season to taste with sea and freshly ground black pepper.  Enjoy!

 

*Note: You can keep the cooked orzo in the colander and just stir it into the saucepan once the butter/oil has been flavored and the garlic/lemon peel is removed. I do this to minimize dirty dishes. The problem is the orzo can stick to the hot sides of the pan if you do not stir vigorously and immediately. The choice is yours.

Orzo with Lemon Garlic Butter    www.morewinelesswhines.com

Orzo with Lemon Garlic Butter

Orzo with Lemon Garlic Butter      www.morewinelesswhines.com

Orzo with Lemon Garlic Butter

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Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

The start of a Roasted Red Pepper Sauce www.morewinelesswhines.com

The Start of a Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

I am not too proud to admit that sometimes I just do not like bell peppers.  Maybe it stems back to frozen paninis in college that, once reheated in the microwave, left a bad, stale pepper aftertaste all day during class.  Regardless, I have been timidly trying main courses and side dishes that utilize bell peppers.

One recipe that is on my “To do” list is a classic Romesco sauce.  As a stepping stone to making a Romesco, I tried this Roasted Red Bell Pepper Sauce by Laura Calder of the Cooking Channel.  This recipe is absolutely wonderful!  I have served it with my Scallops with Herbed Brown Butter, Whole Roasted Chicken, and Quesadillas, to name a few.  I think it would be great as a little soup “shooter” with a cheesy puff pastry twist for dipping.  Just ideas.  Try it.  You will like it – regardless of whether or not you are a big pepper fan or not!

The peeled, seeded red bell peppers       www.morewinelesswhines.com

The peeled, seeded red bell peppers

Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Original recipe by Laura Calder of the Cooking Channel.

2 red bell peppers
2 T. olive oil
1 shallot, minced
3 T. white wine (I used some Chardonnay)
6 T. chicken stock (I used Turkey stock that I had frozen/leftover from Thanksgiving)
juice from 1/2 a lemon
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 F (My oven has been set at either 400 or 450, depending on what else I am roasting). Set the papers on a cooking spray lined baking dish and roast for 20 minutes. Turn peppers with tongs & roast an additional 15-25 minutes, until flesh is soft and skin is browning in spots. Place immediately in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside 10 minutes to “sweat.” Remove plastic wrap, and gently peel and seed the pepper with your hands (Be careful! Peppers will be warm!) Tear or cut into strips/pieces and set aside.

Heat a small saute pan over medium heat. Add oil. Once hot, add shallot, stirring occasionally, until translucent and soft, about 3 minutes. Add white wine and cook 1 minute. Add stock and cooked red pepper. Cook 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Pour into a small food processor or blender. Season to taste with lemon juice (1 tsp at a time), sea salt & pepper. Serve warm or cold. Enjoy!

The start of a roasted red pepper sauce        www.morewinelesswhines.com

The start of a roasted red pepper sauce

Easy Ingredient Prep for Roasted Red Pepper Sauce        www.morewinelesswhines.com

Easy Ingredient Prep for Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Scallops with Herbed Brown Butter, Sautéed Spinach & Roasted Red Pepper Sauce www.morewinelesswhines.com

Scallops with Herbed Brown Butter, Sautéed Spinach & Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

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Scallops with Herbed Brown Butter, Sautéed Spinach and Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Scallops with Herbed Brown Butter, Sautéed Spinach & Roasted Red Pepper Sauce     www.morewinelesswhines.com

Scallops with Herbed Brown Butter, Sautéed Spinach & Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Simple and delicious.  If you like scallops, try this recipe.  If you’ve never eaten scallops before, start with this recipe.  The trick is to use high quality scallops that are free from additives.  One of the local grocery stores had a special on Peruvian Bay Scallops, so I used them instead of the traditional kind.  (These are smaller than regular scallops -think the size of a nickel-quarter instead of a half dollar) and cook very quickly.  I found several recipe variations using a simple combination of butter, olive oil, lemon juice & thyme, but the best one was from Bon Appetit.

Try to space the scallops out in the pan so they are not overly crowded or touching when you first sauté them.  I should have cooked up the scallops below in two batches to obtain a better crust, but I was impatient.  (Note:  they still turned out fine and tasted incredible).

Dinner - not too fancy, but really good     www.morewinelesswhines.com

Dinner – not too fancy, but really good

If you like pairing your food with wine, there are two New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc labels that I really like right now.  One is “90+”, which is like the Whole Foods/Trader Joe’s private label brand for the wine world.  The other wine is called “Wild South.”  I tried both of them at wine tastings first and then with these scallops.  Delicious!

Sautéing the Scallops with Herbed Brown Butter      www.morewinelesswhines.com

Sautéing the Scallops with Herbed Brown Butter

I made these scallops for dinner on a Sunday night and they took me less than 10 minutes to prepare.  I served these with sautéed spinach, lemon orzo & a roasted red pepper sauce.  Everything was excellent (except the orzo)!   The recipe for the roasted red pepper sauce is coming soon!

Sautéing the Scallops with Herbed Brown Butter www.morewinelesswhines.com

Sautéing the Scallops with Herbed Brown Butter

 

Scallops with Herbed Brown Butter

Many variations on this recipe exist, but I will give credit for this one to Bon Appetit

1 lb. sea scallops, side muscle removed
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 T olive oil
2 T. unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
4 sprigs fresh thyme
juice from 1/2 a lemon

Place sea scallops on a paper towel lined dish. Top with a second paper towel to draw out any excess moisture. Let sit for 5 minutes. Sprinkle tops of scallops with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Heat a large skillet over medium to medium high heat. Add oil. Once hot, add scallops, salt & pepper side down. Cook, undisturbed, 3 minutes. Sprinkle tops of scallops with sea salt & pepper. Turn scallops using tongs. Add butter and thyme to pan. Continue cooking, spooning pan sauce over scallops, until scallops are cooked through, about 3 minutes longer. Stir in lemon juice. Serve scallops with the pan sauce.

Easy Prep for Brown Butter Scallops      www.morewinelesswhines.com

Easy Prep for Scallops with Herbed Brown Butter

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Sautéed Chicken with Green Olives and Cilantro

Sautéed Chicken with Green Olives and Cilantro    www.morewinelesswhines.com

Sautéed Chicken with Green Olives and Cilantro

Life has been hectic!  Fall quarter started up for Graduate School and it has been a very busy time – both with travel and assignments – at work.  I haven’t actually  been home to cook much; however, when I have been home, I keep making this recipe.  My sister-in-law and I even made this chicken dish with a fragrant rice and salad for my in-laws after a long flight.  They enjoyed it as much as I do.

Making the sauce for Sautéed Chicken with Green Olives and Cilantro   www.morewinelesswhines.com

Making the sauce for Sautéed Chicken with Green Olives and Cilantro

This recipe is from the book Jean-Georges Cooking at Home with a Four-Star Chef by Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Mark Bittman.  It is one of several recipes that has made me rethink how I cook a family meal.  I wrote more about this cookbook and another excellent set of recipes in  this post.  You could serve this over rice, Israeli Couscous, Quinoa or any grain that can absorb the delicious sauce!

Sautéing the chicken for Chicken with Green Olives and Cilantro    www.morewinelesswhines.com

Sautéing the chicken for Chicken with Green Olives and Cilantro

Sautéed Chicken with Green Olives and Cilantro

2 T + 2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/4 c. minced onion
2 tsp. minced ginger
2″ piece cinnamon
a few strands saffron & some turmeric
salt
2 c. chicken stock (homemade would be great)
2 T. canola oil
3-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
freshly ground black pepper
2 T. minced green olives (no pimientos)
2 tsp. lemon juice
1 T. coarsely chopped cilantro leaves

 

Preheat oven to 500F. Heat a small saucepan over medium heat and add olive oil. Once hot, add onion, ginger, cinnamon, saffron & turmeric, plus a pinch of salt, stirring occasionally, roughly 5 minutes. Add stock & increase heat to high. Cook, stirring occasionally, over medium-low heat, until reduced by roughly 3/4s and becomes syrupy. Remove from heat.

Heat canola oil in a large, ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Season chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. Place the chicken in the skillet and cook undisturbed until lightly brown, 5-8 minutes. Turn over and cook on other side 3-4 minutes. Press an ovenproof,heavy skillet on top of chicken breasts so that they are being smooched between the two pans. Place chicken in “skillet sandwich” in the oven. Bake 15 minutes, remove from oven, and test to see if juices run clear.

Right before chicken is done, finish the sauce. Sitr in remaining 1 tsp olive oil, olives, a pinch of salt & pepper. Cook for 2 minutes over medium-high heat, stirring once or twice. Remove cinnamon stick. Turn off heat and stir in lemon juice and cilantro.

Serve chicken over a bed of rice with sauce spooned both around and over it.

Enjoy!

Sautéed Chicken with Green Olives and Cilantro      www.morewinelesswhines.com

Sautéed Chicken with Green Olives and Cilantro

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Girl and the Goat Magic Green Beans – A Recipe and Experience

Sautéing green and yellow wax beans    www.morewinelesswhines.com

Sautéing green and yellow wax beans

Please forgive my absence.  I have been a little under the weather lately.

One of the many restaurants that is on my “must try” list is Girl and the Goat (plus the Little Goat  Diner) in Chicago.  Given that the reservation wait for a seat at Girl and the Goat can take months and the fact that I have minimal patience, I decided to take a different route.

My local Standard Market hosted an event featuring Stephanie Izard, her book, Girl in the Kitchen,  and a recipe demo.

My favorite recipe take-away from the event?  Magic Beans.  I arrived early to the event, but was still shuttled far back in the throngs of eager onlookers ready to meet Stephanie.  I did not stay to shake hands or even to have a book signed.  I simply stayed long enough for the Magic Beans recipe, went home and made them.

Sautéing green and yellow wax beans with Shallots   www.morewinelesswhines.com

Sautéing green and yellow wax beans with Shallots

I found both the regular green beans and yellow wax beans at the Farmers Market earlier in the morning.  Here is an interesting fact:  my husband hates green beans.   When he saw the beans in the fridge he started moping about how much he dislikes them.  I asked said husband to snap the ends off the beans while I made the vinaigrette/sauce.  He complained the whole time.  I was silent and squeezed the lemons and measured out the remaining ingredients into my Cuisinart for the vinaigrette/sauce.

Girl and the Goat Magic Beans    www.morewinelesswhines.com

Girl and the Goat Magic Beans

My interpretation of this recipe is simple.  You start with good beans, sauté them with 1/2 c. finely minced shallots, then add in the sauce, stirring occasionally, and let the mixture steam away until finished.  You could mix some vinaigrette with Mayonaisse and drizzle on top if you like, but we found that unnecessary.  In the original recipe, which is posted HERE, cashews are recommended.  I used toasted pistachios and they were excellent.

I placed these beans in a serving bowl when they were done cooking.  I turned around, grabbed my camera and reached back for the bowl.  It was not there.  Instead, it was propped against one of Mark’s hands while the other hand held a perfectly cooked green bean.  He would not give me the bowl back.  I finally grabbed it and hastily snapped a few photos.  Needless to say, he liked these green beans.  I think you and your family will, too.

Enjoy!

Magic Beans

Original Recipe by Stephanie Izard can be found HERE.

1/2 c. freshly squeezed lemon juice (juice of 4-5 small organic lemons)
1/2 c. + 2 T fish sauce (Three Crabs Brand)
1/4 c. + 2 T low sodium soy sauce
1 heaping T dijon mustard
1 tsp.            sriracha
5 small garlic cloves
4 oz + olive oil (canola oil would be fine here, too)

freshly ground black pepper for seasoning

2 lbs green beans and/or yellow wax beans
1/2 c. shallots, finely minced
2 T. canola oil

Optional:
1/2 c. pistachios, toasted & chopped

Sauce:  Combine all ingredients except olive oil in a Cuisinart.  Blend for 10 seconds until smooth.  Dip in the tip of a spoon or a green bean and taste the mixture.  Adjust seasoning if needed (more acid = lemon juice, more heat = Sriracha, etc).  Put lid back on Cuisinart and slowly drizzle in the oil through the feed tube until emulsified, pulsing the blade to thoroughly bend everything together. Taste, adding more oil as needed.

Beans: Heat 2 T. canola oil in a large, wide rimmed sauté pan.  Add shallots and sauté a few minutes.  Add beans.  Sauté 5 minutes longer, stirring occasionally, until softened.  Pour in enough of the sauce to cover the beans and allow to steam, stirring occasionally, over medium heat.  Watch that the sauce does not burn.  (Note: It will burn if you do not stir and allow the heat to get too high).

Transfer beans to a serving dish and garnish with pistachios or other nuts (optional).  Enjoy!

Serving Notes:

  • I served these beans for dinner with grilled, marinated chicken breasts and a watermelon salad.
  • They would be great with pork tenderloin, short ribs, corn on the cob or just about any dish you can dream up.
  • I like these served with a wine called Vouvray.  Experiment and let me know if you find any better pairings!

 

 

 

 

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Sunday Strawberry Sauce for Waffles

Breakfast of Champions     www.morewinelesswhines.com

Breakfast of Champions

I grew up with four younger brothers, 25+ cousins  and a household that was filled with no less than a half dozen kids at any one time.  Now, I am married and have a house and puppy of my own.  Life is a balancing act filled with a full work schedule, graduate school and eking out time with family and friends.

A few weekends ago, we invited our little cousin to have a weekend sleepover at our house.  We had so much fun!  A terrible storm came through our area right after she came over so we nixed the big walk in the downtown area and instead started making the #1 kids treat known to man – Rice Krispy Treats!  I know, I know, these are filled with sugar and artificial ingredients and not healthy at all…. but they are so fun to make!

Then we moved on to dinner.  What was on the menu?  Salad from the garden with my favorite vinaigrette, freshly sliced watermelon, roasted potatoes (which took too long so we had them with breakfast instead) and oven ‘fried’ chicken.

While the chicken and potatoes roasted, I painted my 9 year-old cousin’s nails a bright cherry red.

For breakfast on Sunday, we had orange juice, fresh fruit, some roasted potatoes (a dinner debacle turned into a glorious breakfast treat), and waffles with a delectable strawberry sauce.

The strawberry sauce was made with a cup of strawberries from the farmer’s market, some freshly squeezed lemon juice, sugar, cornstarch, water and a pinch of salt.  It’s easy and tastes great!  I had my cousin make this sauce.  I stood back, gave her instructions and let her measure, pour and stir away.

This recipe comes from The Pie and Pastry Bible by my favorite cookbook author, Rose Levy Beranbaum.  I  used previously in a Double Strawberry Pie and thought it was good enough to stand on its own next to fluffy belgian waffles.  Indeed it is!

Strawberries from the Farmers Market      www.morewinelesswhines.com

Strawberries from the Farmers Market

Sunday Strawberry Sauce for Waffles

Recipe found in The Pie and Pastry Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum

1 c. strawberries
1/2 c. water
1/3 c. sugar (less if strawberries are super sweet)
1 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 T. cornstarch
1 pinch sea salt

Heat a small heavy saucepan  over medium heat.  Crush strawberries in the pan with a wooden spoon.  Add the remaining ingredients except cornstarch and stir.  Sift cornstarch into pan and stir vigorously.  Bring mixture to a boil for 30 seconds, stirring constantly.  Pour mixture into a small bowl to cool.  Serve spooned over pancakes or waffles.

Enjoy!

 

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My Signature Move: Phyllo Pastry Cups (Plus Bonus: Crab Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette)

Phyllo Pastry Cups   www.morewinelesswhines.com

Phyllo Pastry Cups

We all need a secret recipe in our back pocket – the kind that will “wow” innocent bystanders and invoke appreciative whispers among guests.  For several years, my go to appetizer has been phyllo pastry cups.  I have stuffed the phyllo pastry cups with chicken salad, crab meat, sausage & cheese, mushrooms & pancetta and more.  The fun part is getting creative.

These have graced my table at baby showers, family holidays and appetizer parties.  The actual ‘cups’ require 2 ingredients: phyllo dough & unsalted butter.  (Ok, 3 ingredients if you spray the mini muffin tins with nonstick cooking spray first).

Yes, you can buy the pre-made phyllo dough cups in the freezer aisle, but these taste better.

I made these as an appetizer for Mother’s Day.  I had been craving seafood, crab to be exact, and wanted to make a crab salad that was light and refreshing, without a hint of mayo.  This crab salad with champagne vinaigrette is the result.  I served some in phyllo pastry cups and left the remainder in a small glass bowl.  This would also work well served in crisp bibb lettuce cups.

Enjoy!

Phyllo Pastry Cups
Makes 84 individual cups

Ingredients:
8 oz pkg Phyllo pastry sheets*
9 T unsalted butter, melted
nonstick cooking spray

Equipment:
mini muffin tins
pastry brush
Large work surface or cutting board (24″ x 24″)
saran wrap
sharp knife or pizza cutter

Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray mini muffin tins with nonstick cooking spray. Melt butter in microwave safe glass bowl.

Remove 1 sleeve of phyllo dough from box. Open plastic wrapped phyllo dough. Unroll phyllo onto a saran wrap covered cutting board. Cut phyllo (with a knife or pizza cutter) into four equal ribbons, about 1.5″ wide. Move one strip of ribbons forward on the cutting board. Cover the remaining phyllo strips with saran wrap. Top saran wrap with damp paper towels or a damp kitchen towel.

Take one thin ribbon of phyllo at a time and criss-cross it into a greased muffin tin opening to form a little cup. Repeat until all the tins are filled. Gently brush each cup with melted butter. Place in preheated oven and bake 8-10 minutes, until edges phyllo edges are golden.

Remove from oven. Let cool in pans 5 minutes then transfer to wire racks and cool completely.

*(1/2 of a 16 oz package) – This will make 84 mini ‘cups.’ If you need more than that, by all means, make the whole package. I save the other half of the dough in the freezer.

 

Crab Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette www.morewinelesswhines.com

Crab Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette

Crab Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette

1    lb claw crab meat
2   T freshly squeezed lemon juice
1.5 T champagne vinegar
1.5 T chives, finely chopped

Gently toss all ingredients together with your (clean) hands. Chill. Spoon into phyllo cups just before serving. Enjoy!

Note: Claw crab meat can be found in the seafood section of a higher end grocery store. There is the kind that comes in a 1 lb. refrigerated can that works well for this recipe. Do not under any circumstances use imitation crab meat.  Splurge a little on good crab here.  Your taste buds will thank you!

 

 

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