Dinner: Sunday, May 6 2012

It’s been awhile.  I keep making dinners I’ve already posted about.  No need to bore you.  You really don’t want to hear about another quiche! 

Yesterday, I walked my very first race, the Long Branch Half Marathon.  When I got home with some very tired muscles, I wanted to make a celebratory dinner.

What better than a steak!  This was my opportunity to try the Nathan Myhrvold modernist cuisine recipe for cooking steak created for Melissa Clark at the NY Times.  Seared frozen steak

(I tried the salmon submerged in warm water technique a few months ago, and was thrilled with the results.)

This procedure is easy and doesn’t resemble any other way you’ve made a steak before.

Start by putting your steak on a cookie sheet and put in the freezer for an hour.  You do this, in part to get a totally flat surface for searing.

Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees.

Heat a cast iron skillet till very hot…10 minutes. Salt and pepper the meat. Put oil in pan, heat  and sear only one side of the steak and the edges.  You want a crispy, browned crust.

Put the steak on a baking pan and put into the 200 degree oven.  Ready for the oven.

The recipe called for the steak to reach an internal temp of 122 degrees if you wanted rare meat.  My steak was about 1” thick while the recipe is based on a 1 ½” steak.

After 30 minutes, I took the temperature and it was way beyond 122 degrees on my thermometer. Thermometer misplacement perhaps. 

I let the steak sit for 10 minutes. 

Then I sliced into it.  No running juices, maybe because I was patient enough.

It was perfectly rare, from top to bottom. 

The steak was delicious.  A porterhouse.  This technique is wonderful.  With this technique, I don’t think you could overcook steak if you check it often enough.  It can’t run away from you.

 My half marathon celebration dinner…fresh asparagus and leftover risotto.  All prepared and eaten in less time than it took me to walk the 13.1 miles!

Dinner: Wednesday April 4, 2012

Lately, I’ve been making the usuals for dinner, nothing to blog about.  Many times, I’ve already written about a particular recipe or meal.

Tonight is one of those meals: Pasta with Oven Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, a recipe from the New York Times.  It can’t be any easier. 

At Trader Joe’s I got these heirloom cherry tomatoes.  And that’s why I posted tonight’s dinner.

Don’t they look wonderful?  


Pour on olive oil on the tomatoes,  season with salt and pepper and a pinch of sugar. Cover with bread crumbs and grated Parmesan. Put into a 425 degree oven for 20 minutes.

Ready for the pasta!

Dinner: Tuesday March 27, 2012

Tonight I’m making a spinach ricotta pie for dinner.  Thought I’d do a frittata, but when I was going through my recipe book I saw this.   I have not made it in ages.

 Easy!!!!  And I don’t follow the recipe.  First, I just don’t put this mixture into a pie crust as called for.  The filling reminds me of a cheese layer in lasagna.  No need of a crust for that flavor.

One 15 oz. package of ricotta cheese, add 3 eggs, grated mozzarella cheese (but I’ve used sharp white cheddar and that was good), about 1 cup of Parmesan cheese.  In addition to  a package of frozen spinach, for this one I sautéed some fresh baby bella mushrooms.  While this recipe does not call for it, I include sauté some onions and garlic. 

Mushrooms underway


Drying out the spinach after squeezing by adding it to the onions in a hot pan. 


Mixing bowl and the ricotta, waiting for everything else.

Everything is mixed and put into a 9 inch pie dish. Ready for the 350 degree oven.


After 30 - 35 minutes.  

Delicious.  Good for taking to work for lunch —- eminently portable.

Dinner: Monday March 19, 2012

Leftovers after the St. Patrick’s Day are MS’s favorite.  The first re-purposed dinner is always Ruben sandwiches.

I lost track of time today, so at 6:00 I dashed out to get rye bread and horseradish for the Thousand Island dressing.  But I forgot to get sauerkraut.

Oh, well.  I have Swiss cheese and the leftover cabbage.  I sliced it thinly and put it on the sandwiches.

The homemade Thousand Island dressing is almost the best part of this sandwich.  It starts with mayonnaise.  Then add chili sauce, grated onion, a little Worchestershire, and horseradish.  (I always add more horseradish than the recipe calls for because we love the heat.)

The first side is complete.  The leftover potatoes are heating up behind the sandwiches.

This dinner is a wonderful replay of corned beef.  But sadly, CS couldn’t enjoy it with us.  I took her back to school yesterday.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day 2012

As my family and many of my friends know, I’m not big celebrator of St. Partick’s Day. 

I don’t intentionally wear green.  Avoid the parades.  Never tasted Guinness.  I let my name speak for itself.

But I do love corned beef.  And cabbage that has not been boiled-to-death is delicious.  Boiled potatoes and butter are divine.

For years, I bought the supermarket packaged corned beef.  But I have seen the light.

The other option is infinitely better.  Corn your own beef brisket.  I use a recipe from Bon Appetit, March 2008.

How?  Brine the brisket in a mixture of water, beer, brown sugar and spices for 8 days.  Though, because I started late, my brisket only had 6 days brining in the refrigerator.

Out of the refrigerator and ready for the big pot.


I started simmering the beef about 3:30 in another spiced mixture: water, beer, bay leaves and allspice.  It simmered for nearly 3 hours till it was tender.


The big experiment this St. Patrick’s Day was oven roasting the cabbage rather than steaming it.   I cut a small head into 6 wedges.  Oiled them lightly and then into a 425 degree oven – checking about every 10 minutes till tender – about half an hour.

I loved how the cabbage got crispy and caramelized on some edges.


 The potatoes are basic and so very good, perfect with butter.


MS and CS loved it! It was a great day for anyone who loves corned beef.  


Dinner: Thursday March 15, 2012

Last Saturday MS and the daughter went to New York City.  They went to the Upper Westside to explore and stopped at a few favorite spots.  Happily for me their visit included Zabar’s. 

Among the goodies they brought back included fresh potato gnocchi and a wedge of Grana Padano Parmasan. 

Tonight for the gnocchi, I’m making the easy tomato sauce from Marcel Hazan.  One can (2 pounds plus) of crushed tomatoes.  Add an onion cut in half,  half a stick of butter, a little salt and sugar.  


After 45 minutes at a simmer — transformation.


The gnocchi are ready once they pop to the surface of the boiling water.

 My plate, topped by freshly grated Parmesan.


Thanks for shopping for dinner tonight M and CS!

Dinner: Monday March 12, 2012

Tonight is a quick dinner that I made often, but have not written about yet.  I’m making homemade individual pizzas with dough from Trader Joe’s.

I like to keep a package of dough in the freezer.  I cut one package (one pound) of dough into quarters,  and  roll each piece out on a piece of parchment paper. 

Everyone gets to top it with what they want or I should say, what I have on hand.  Tonight the choices are fresh or regular mozzarella, the sausage and pepper sauce from dinner the other night, and Parmesan.

Three  ready to go. 


CS prefers just cheese with a little oregano.  For MS and me, pizzas with the sausage and peppers.  And the extra one, for MS’s lunch tomorrow, is just cheese.

Two more just like these for dinner tonight and tomorrow’s lunch. I like thethin crispy crust.  My favorite!

Dinners: March 5 & 9, 2012

I have some catching up to do!!

The daughter, CS, came home from college for her two-week spring break and she brought a friend.  So, I’ve been cooking lots.  And visiting grocery stores more often! 

Some dinners have been family favorites — Roasted Chicken and Chicken Pot Pie.  I didn’t take any photos.

I’ll catch up with two dinners – both recipes from Silver Palate.

Earlier this week I made chili.  This covered several requirements: meat and quantity.

The college students want meat, I want leftovers.

The chili recipe is called, Chili for a Crowd.  I don’t have a pot large enough to cook for a crowd, nor the refrigerator and freezer space for storage.  I cut the recipe approximately in half.

I also made a judicious deletion – no black olives! (The book is from the Eighties.)  I like this recipe because it uses ground beef and Italian sausage.  I know for some people this is chili heresy but I don’t care.  The chili police have not found me yet.

Cooking away in my large-enough pot.


I also made corn bread.  I don’t have a favorite so I went to Food52 and found a winner, Double-Corn Bread with Fresh Thyme.  But of course, I left out the thyme.  Didn’t have any and knew the daughter wouldn’t be a fan.  The bread was great, corny with enough flour that it didn’t crumble into hard-to-butter pieces. 

It makes a nice amount.  Probably would freeze well, but I had none left.


Last night, I made Italian sausage with onions and peppers to put over pasta.  I has uncooked sausage left from chili making.  Again, this recipe is from Silver Palate, though rather than cooking the sausage on the stove, I put it on the grill.

Cooking up the onions and peppers.


Then add the tomatoes, spices, cup of red wine and let it cook for about ½ hour.  Add the sliced sausage and some fennel seeds to simmer another 15-20 minutes. 




Enough left for MS to take for lunch next week.  

Have to plan more meat meals for next week.

Dinner: Tuesday February 28, 2012

It was spring-like yesterday and today.  I’m inspired to make a cold pesto pasta salad.   And it is perfect with grilled sandwiches.  Remember one of my dinner mantras: if a sandwich is grilled – it’s dinner!

I use a recipe from America’s Test Kitchen for this pesto mixture for a pasta salad.  The changes to the recipe are using a mix of fresh basil and fresh spinach, and using olive oil and mayonnaise.  It may sound like heresy. 

I forgot to buy spinach, so mine tonight is all basil.  The nice thing about spinach is the bright green color it gives to the pesto.  The mayo makes the pesto creamier and easier to mix with the pasta.

Ready for the first go-round.


And now ready to mix in the Parmesan cheese and the mayo.

Dinner sandwiches being grilled.


Pesto salad…

…and grilled sandwiches.

Dinner is complete.  

Dinner with Friends: Saturday February 25, 2012

We’re having dear friends for dinner tonight, JB and her husband DB. Their oldest son started college this fall, too.  We’ll have lots to talk about!

This is an opportunity to try something I experimented with on Valentine’s Day.  (I didn’t blog about it because I had trouble posting to my Tumblr, and that week I was in NYC most days.)

Back in January, Melissa Clark in the NY Times, wrote an article, Socerer’s Apprentice Hosts a Dinner,  about cooking with Nathan Myhvold who co-wrote Modernist Cooking.  At her request, he adapted some recipes for the home cook who doesn’t have the odd ingredients and unusual equipment.

For our Valentine’s dinner, I made the faux sous vide salmon.  MS thought it was the best thing I’ve made in years.  So, I’m repeating myself tonight.




A selection of raw veggies & dip from JB


Sous vide salmon


Mashed potato casserole

(I made for Thanksgiving)


Green Beans with olive oil and garlic


Green salad with

white balsamic vinegar dressing


Panna cotta with

fresh strawberries



The salmon recipe calls for a spiced butter.  I just used lots of salt and pepper.

This process of sous vide is a very gentle, low temperature cooking technique.  Food is vacuum sealed in a plastic bag and them submerged in warm water. There are big-time sous vide machines for restaurants.  This adapted technique is so cool – literally. 

 You need:

  •  Fish -(One salmon filet per person, it should be about 1 inch thick, about ¼ pound per serving.)
  • Big pot of warm water
  • Instant read thermometer
  • Gallon-size zipper seal plastic bag
  • Warm tap water

Isn’t this wild?

Salt, pepper the fillets and put 2 pieces into a gallon sized zip bag.  Drizzle olive oil on the fish. 

 Submerge the unzipped bag halfway into the water.  The water will create a vacuum.  Watch the video that’s in the NYT article to see how easy this is.  Push out excess air and seal. 

 Then put all the bags into the pot of warm water. The water needs to be at 115 degrees so, periodically use the instant thermometer.  When you need to, add more hot tap water.

Keep salmon in water 20 – 30 minutes until its internal temperature reaches 113 degrees. 

 Here’s what my Valentine’s salmon looked like while cooking.


Once the salmon reaches the internal temp of 113 degrees take them out and remove the skin.  Melt butter in a sauté pan, place the fillets in it and sear on both sides.  Baste with the butter briefly.  

 Concentrating on dinner on Saturday, I forgot to take pictures.  This is my plate from the Valentine’s Day dinner.

I can’t quite describe how different the texture of the salmon is.  With this method, you can never overcook fish.

The other big cooking event for this dinner was panna cotta.  Included in this article is a recipe I was eager to try.  EASY panna cotta - boil heavy cream, add balsamic vinegar and citric acid and chill.   My local GNC didn’t have citric acid, so I used a traditional recipe.  But I’m now on the look out for citric acid.  I have pear cinnamon balsamic vinegar that would be wonderful in a panna cotta — which is Italian for cooked cream.  It’s similar to pudding.

More than enough for the four of us…and plenty of testers for MS!

Enthusiastic reviews for the dinner.  And I have to say it is one of the easiest I’ve ever made for company!

If anyone else gives this sous-vide-at-home method a try, let me know how it turns out for you.