Monday, October 31, 2011

Pasta Tuna

I grew up on pasta tuna. And as much as I love the mayonaisse laced original, my hips prevent me from grabbing the jar of Hellmans. Instead, I created a healthier and surprisingly, MUCH MORE DELICIOUS alternative!

I needed a hearty lunch for my post-gym workout and thought why not make some tuna pasta. I had some steamed french beans from the other day, a can of cannellini beans for extra protein, tuna in oil, garlic, baby tomatoes and of course, elbow pasta!

One thing led to another and healthier pasta tuna was born... only problem is- I didn't end up going to the was way too delicious! I had a bit to taste which turned into two bowls...oops.
I guess it's my pre gym lunch;)

12 baby tomatoes
1 can cannellini beans
1 can good quality tuna and oil (don't substitute with tuna in water, it won't taste as good)
1 cup blanched green beans cut into fourths
4 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
1/2 shallot thinly sliced
1 cup pasta elbows
1 cup parmesan cheese
3 sprigs thyme
1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
salt, pepper to taste

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta until al dente. In the meantime, saute the garlic and shallot in olive oil on med-low heat. Once they soften add the thyme, cannellini beans and tomatoes. Cook the tomatoes until they collapse and soften completely. Add a ladle of pasta water and green beans. Add the green beans, cooked pasta and parm- toss till melted and serve.

Friday, October 21, 2011

White Bean Soup. Poached Quail Eggs. Truffles...Need I say more?

Today I felt fancy. So fancy that I marched over to Whole Foods and picked me up some quail eggs. You see, I had a mind blowing quail egg experience in Spain. We were given this creamy soup containing three perfectly poached quail eggs which bursts in your mouth- releasing this gorgeous golden cascade of yolky goodness.

I wanted to recreate this sensual experience and felt that today was the day I get my faaancy on... you poach these tiny beauties using the same method as you would an egg. However, they require a lot more intensive care. You have to gently run a paring knife around it WITHOUT penetrating the yolk, then gently place it in a tiny ramekin or saucer before you gently put it in simmering water...I was intentionally hyperbolic with my use of gently....

Why all the trouble, you ask? I'll tell you's heaven. Yes, silky, rich heaven in your mouth and for that reason makes it worth all of the effort!

Intensifying the deliciousness to this dreamy egg is the soup in which in bathes. The cannellini bean soup is creamy, rich and super flavourful. And if that's not fancy enough for about the fresh truffle shavings I topped it all with?! Ridicuolously delish.

8 quail eggs
1 small truffle (can use truffle oil)
1 small onion
6 cloves garlic
1 sage leaf
3 sprigs of thyme
2 tablespoons butter
4 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon distilled vinegar
Carefully remove quail eggs from their shells and place in individual saucers.
Bring a small pot of water to a simmer (it should stay between at 170-180). With a spoon gently swirl it creating a whirlpool and place the egg in the center and leave it for a minute or so. With a slotted spoon and gently place into a bowl of ice cold water to stop the cooking process. Repeat until you're finished and keep the eggs in the fridge until you're ready to serve.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil and butter in a large saucepan and add the onions, sage and thyme. Cook on med-low heat for 8-10 minutes until it really starts to soften. Add the beans and garlic and cook for two minutes longer to infuse the flavours. Add the stock and cook on med-low heat until for about 10 minutes.

Pour the soup into a large bowl and then blend it in batches. Puree until smooth and return to the pan. Bring the soup back to a simmer, add cream and taste for salt and pepper. If it's too creamy add some more stock to loosen and if it's too loose (it shouldn't be) reduce it by bringing it to a gentle boil until it's the right consistency.

Remove the eggs from the ice water, pat gently with a paper towel and place two on each bowl as well as some truffle shavings. Pour the hot soup at the table for the fancy factor;)

Thursday, October 20, 2011


There's something magical about Italy. Everywhere you turn you're surrounded by beauty- architecture, fashion, weather, people... the list goes on... But in Italy, there are few moments more beautiful than my bi or tri-daily stop at one of the many gelaterias....MmmmMmmmMmmmm...

I had the most blog-worthy gelato experience a few weeks back.. You see I'm the type of person who is set in their ways. So when it comes to my beloved gelato, I'm faithful to four flavours: Nocciola, Cafe, Bacio and Pistachio. But I was unfaithful in Rome... I had Caramel and get this-  caramelized fig and mascarpone! C'MON!

Those two flavours rocked my world. First of all, caramel was not just any plain old caramel..NuhUh... there were bits of gooey caramel and then some nuts that almost had a bitter burnt caramel edging to cut the sweetness! Then the sweet mascarpone and caramelized fig..Wowowowowow! The mascarpone was a heavenly backdrop to the sweet, fruity, mind blowing fig!

I LOVE Italy. I love gelato... When I grow up I want to live in Italy and eat gelato everyday. Amen.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Autumn Deep Dish Roots

It's Fall in Manhattan. The leaves are in transition, the weather is cool and windy, the layers are coming on and so are the calories! I crave warming food in the winter; big meaty roasts, stews, mashed potatoes, heavy pastas- you know, things that you can put in a bowl and tuck into whilst curled up by the fire....

I made a lovely leg of lamb yesterday and served it alongside this showstopper.. It was one of the few times where the veggies received more attention than the meat! This is a perfect dish to eat alongside meat, poultry or fish. It can also act as a meal but if that were the case I'd add some kale for greens and cannellini beans for protein.. You can play around with it and add or take away whatever you please!

7 baby potatoes, parboiled and quartered
1 red beet, parboiled and quartered
2 yellow beets, parboiled trimmed and quartered
2 yellow onions, skin on and quartered
3 carrots, cut lengthwise and then quartered
2 parsnips, cut lengthwise and then quartered
1 head of garlic, skin on and cut in half
5 sprigs of thyme
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon herbs de provence
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 fresh ground pepper
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth

Preheat oven to 425.

Toss all the ingredients together apart from the onions, garlic thyme and 1/2 cup of broth. Once everything's mingled, arrange them as flat as possible in a large ovenproof pan. Add the garlic an onion pieces and drizzle them with a bit more oil, salt and pepper (I don't like to toss them because they're more delicate and can fall apart). Ladle 1/2 cup of broth around the edges of the pan and lay the thyme leaves over the veggies. Pop in the oven for 30 minutes then reduce the heat to 400, ladle the other 1/2 cup of broth and cook 30 minutes more. Check every 15 minutes or so to see if they've browned to your liking.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Apple Pie

I decided to make  apple pie for two reasons. Reason #1: we have company and there are few things that give me more pleasure than creating a meal from start to finish without using shortcuts! Reason #2: I LOVE APPLE PIE!

This pie is off the charts delicious... so delicious that I did something really naughty...I had a piece before my guests came! I sheepishly brought it to the table explaining that it was in their best interest that I tasted the pie.. had it not been delicious, I would have made them something it was in fact an act of selflessness.....

Be warned: make this pie as close to your guests arrival or else you will be bad like me!

For the pastry
2.5 cups AP flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons cold butter (grated)
6.5 tablespoons vegetable shortening (refrigerated)
5 tablespoons ice water
1 tablespoon vinegar

Apple filling
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 pounds Granny smith and mcintosh apple cut into 1/2 inch thick slices
2 tablespoons butter cut into pieces
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Attach dough blade to food processor and pulse the flour and salt. Add the butter and shortening and pulse until it starts to look like breadcrumbs. Add the water and vinegar 1 tablespoon at a time, pulsing the dough after each addition. Blend dough until it just comes together, it's fine if it's not all one ball.
Transfer to a clean, floured work surface and knead several times until the dough comes together nicely. Cut into 2 balls, making sure one is slightly larger than the other. Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate over night.

Prepare apple filling by mixing all of the ingredients together. Reserve.

Remove the dough from the fridge and its plastic wrap and place on a cleaned floured work surface. While the dough is still cold pound it down (LIGHTLY) with your rolling pin (preferably a long wooden one that's been dusted with flour to prevent the dough from sticking). Once it's spread out a bit flatter, begin rolling the dough from the center out, center back, center left side and center right side to create a circle. Once it's large enough to fit over your baking dish poke holes in it with a fork. Gently place into baking dish making sure press along the bottom edge so it fits.

Repeat the same steps for the second piece of dough but stop at the point of rolling it out perfectly.
Fill the pie dish with the apples and cover the apples with the reserved pastry top. Cut off any excess, making sure to leave at least an inch of dough overhanging. Press the top and bottom pieces of dough together and tuck into the dish to give it a big flaky crust!
Cut four slits down from the center, brush with egg wash and bake on a baking dish at 400 degrees for 1hour and 10 minutes. Remove and let cool for 15 minutes.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Rustic Chicken

Beware if you make this you may die and go to poultry heaven!...figuratively of course! I'm so very proud of this dish. It's easy, effortless, DELICIOUS and makes you look like a kitchen wizard/goddess... You won't look disheveled when your guests or that special someone comes to eat- it's so hands free you have all the time in the world to look fab while preparing an equally fab meal.

Hands down this is the most delicious chicken I've made to date...and I've had many delicious chickens cooked in a wonderful array of ways. Yet there's something about its crispy skin, succulent meat and bold flavours that makes this extra special.

1 broiler chicken
1 head of garlic cut in half
5 sprigs of thyme
2 carrots cut in fourths
1 large celery stick, cut in fourths
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon herbs de provence
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 450.

In the meantime, cut your chicken with kitchen knives all the way through its backside (not the side with  the breasts). Rub the chicken with salt, pepper, herbs de provence, oregano, mustard, butter and vinegar. Toss in the veggies and pour olive oil over the bird and veg so that everything is coated. Top with sprigs of thyme.

Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350. Bake until the thermometer reads 140. Increase heat to 400 and bake till it's just under fully cooked at 160. Remove and let rest for 10 minutes before serving. This allows the juices to circulate which results in a moister bird!