Sunday, January 5, 2020

Bravo Patatas Bravas

Patatas bravas is a popular dish native to the cuisine of Spain where they are commonly served in bars accompanied by a glass of local wine. They can be found on most tapas menus throughout the U.S. In fact, it is always the first item we order at our favorite tapas restaurant, Eclipse di Luna.

The dish is made with white potatoes that have been cut into about 1-inch cubes, fried in oil and served warm with a spicy sauce sauce. However, the preparation of the accompanying sauce varies by city. In Burgos, the sauce is tomato-based and includes a variety of spices which give it bite, while in Catalonia and Valencia, the potatoes are served with an alioli made with olive oil, red pepper, paprika, chili, and vinegar.

All variations, however, include Spanish paprika. We recently received samples of hot smoked paprika and (picante) and sweet smoked paprika (dulce) from La Chinata and what better way to enjoy the flavor than with this traditional Spanish dish.

  • 1 cup peanut oil
  • 4 large Russet potatoes, peeled, and cut to 1-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons hot Spanish paprika (La Chinta Picante)
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • Chopped parsley, to garnish

In a large skillet, heat the peanut oil. Rinse the potatoes in cold water and pat dry. Test oil by placing one potato cube in the skillet, if it sizzles and forms tiny bubbles around it, the oil is ready. Take care when adding the potatoes to the saucepan because the oil will splatter (which is part of the reason you patted them dry.) Fry the potatoes in oil working in batches until they are halfway done. Yes, halfway! When the potatoes start to look white and opaque (about 7 minutes) remove them to a rack to drain and cool.

Once completely cooled, re-fry the potatoes (working in batches again) until they are golden brown and crispy. Again remove potatoes to a cooling rack to drain.

Mix together paprika and salt. Placing the fried potatoes in a bowl, sprinkle paprika salt over the potatoes and toss to ensure that all the potatoes are well coated. You can place them in a 200oF oven until ready to serve if needed.

  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ground oregano
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

This can be made ahead and actually improves the longer it sits. Mix all ingredients together until completely combined and smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Place (covered) in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Serve patatas in a shallow bowl and garnish with chopped fresh parsley and the bravas sauce on the side for dipping. We suggest making extras because one tapa serving is never enough!


Sunday, December 1, 2019

12 Days of Holiday Cookies

There is nothing like the scent of vanilla wafting through the house as
the holiday cookies are baking. We have compiled some of our family favorites for you. 
Simply click on the picture to be taken directly to the recipe!






Thursday, July 25, 2019

Homey Almond Peach Galette

Peaches, peaches, peaches. The words “Georgia” and “peaches” are synonymous especially during the late summer months. This is emphasized by the fact that more than 70 streets in Atlanta have a variant of "Peachtree" in their name. Georgia's peach industry has a long tradition. The first peaches were planted in the state in the eighteenth century, when Franciscan monks introduced peaches to Cumberland and St. Simons islands along Georgia's coast in 1571, and by the mid-1700s peaches were being cultivated by the Cherokee Indians. Raphael Moses, a former Confederate officer from Columbus, was among the first to market peaches in 1851 and is credited with being the first to sell and ship peaches successfully outside of the South.

Currently, Georgia ranks third nationally in peach production behind California and South Carolina. Many of the peaches grown in the South are sold in the wholesale fresh market, with a small percentage sold at roadside markets and local farmer’s markets. We were fortunate enough to receive a box of gorgeous locally grown peaches from Watsonia Farms who frequent the Grant Park Farmer’s Market to sample and cook with. The first few were eaten straight out of the box on the way home! Yet nothing compares to a fresh peach pie. This version is rustic and unfussy with a whole wheat crust and complimentary almond.

Whole Wheat Crust:
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter chilled
1/4 cup ice cold water

Sift flour and salt into a large mixing bowl. Cut butter into pieces and cut into dry ingredients until the mixture resembles a coarse meal with some pea-size pieces. Sprinkle water over mixture, one tablespoon at a time and knead lightly just until dough forms. If needed add more water one tablespoon at a time to the right consistency. Form dough into a ball.  Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes before rolling out. Roll the dough ¼-inches thick into a large round approximately 12 inches in diameter.  If you have a bit of extra dough set it aside.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and transfer the rolled dough to the lined sheet.

1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 cup light brown sugar
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 pounds peaches, sliced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour, divided
3 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line large baking sheet with parchment. Whisk almond meal, sugar, and salt. Sprinkle the rolled out crust with ½ of the almond mixture leaving a 2-inch border around the edges.

In a large mixing bowl, toss peaches with ¼ cup flour, cubed butter and the other half of the almond mixture. Mound the peaches in the center (on top of the almond mixture) leaving the same 2-inch. Fold crust up at edges, pleating as needed and removing straggling pieces adding to the reserved scraps. Sprinkle the top of the galette with sliced almonds.

Bake galette until crust is golden brown, peaches are tender, and juices are bubbling thickly, about 50 minutes. Transfer galette on paper to rack to cool. Cool completely before cutting into wedges and serving with whipped cream or ice cream.

Cinnamon Scraps Tart:
Reserved pie dough scraps
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Combine and roll out dough scraps to ¼-inch thickness. The shape does not matter. Sprinkle the top of the dough with cinnamon sugar and bake on the top rack of the oven for 5 minutes or until crust is lightly brown and the cinnamon sugar is bubbly.  Let cool and serve to kiddles (and husbands) who are impatiently waiting for the galette to be ready.


Sunday, July 7, 2019

Ten Ways with Tomatoes

Each January, we find ourselves looking at the pitiful excuse for tomatoes in the produce section of the supermarket, and pining for the plump, juicy treasures still warm from the mid-day sun sliced and sandwiched between two slices of bread. Since their cultivation by the Aztecs and Incas as early as 700 A.D. and their introduction to Europe during the 16th century, tomatoes are one of the world’s most popular ingredients.

However, many people are unaware how good they can actually be for us. Tomatoes are low in calories and packed with health-promoting nutrients such as vitamins A and C, potassium and the super anti-oxidant called lycopene. Lycopene is a carotenoid that supports heart health by reducing the tendency of blood to form clots and promotes healthy cholesterol levels. It's also been found to be a potent hedge against many kinds of cancer. Tomatoes are so incredibly versatile making them crazy easy to incorporate into almost any meal. Here are our top ten:

1. Toss them: Simply toss fresh cherry tomatoes in a salad with fresh crisp lettuces and toss with your favorite dressing. Or, set a pot of water on the stove to cook pasta and place a sauté pan over medium heat. Toss cherry tomatoes in the pan and allow them to slowing cook until they “melt.” Add torn basil, a crushed garlic clove, salt and coarsely ground black pepper and simmer until pasta is cooked and drained. Pour this simple sauce over the pasta and toss. Don’t forget the grated Parmesan cheese.

2. Slice them: There are few things better on the entire planet than a fresh caprese salad! Freshly sliced tomatoes layered with fresh mozzarella and just-picked basil leaves; nirvana. Lactose intolerant? No worries… try a Japanese chilled tofu dish called hi-yayakko. Alternate slices of tomato and best-quality sliced tofu, firm or soft. Make a dressing of olive oil, soy sauce, seasoned rice wine vinegar, ginger, garlic and a touch of sugar to taste then top with slivered green onions.

3. Chop them: Coarsely chop tomatoes into a mixing bowl, salt them well with about one full pinch per cup and let them macerate for 20 minutes. If you don’t care about seeds and skins, you will end up with firmer, more flavorful tomato dice and a lot of delicious juice waiting to saturate any ingredients you mix with the tomatoes. Add a bit of garlic and fresh herbs and, Presto! – Bruschetta!

4. Grate them: This is my favorite tomato trick of all time. Cut the tomato in half through the equator, pluck out the seeds with your fingers and grate the cut side against the large holes in a box grater set over a bowl. You will end up with a bowlful of gorgeous tomato flesh and a naked skin in your palm within seconds. What do you do with it? I like to keep going with other vegetables and grate cucumbers, peppers and a little onion for a quick, coarse-textured gazpacho that you season with oil, vinegar, salt and fresh herbs.

5. Strain them: Blanch four large tomatoes in boiling water to easily remove skins. Once cooled and peeled, coarsely chop tomatoes in a food processor with a couple of teaspoons of salt. Pour into the chopped tomatoes over several thicknesses of folded cheesecloth in a sieve and drain the excess liquid from the pulp (reserving the liquid.) Use the pulp to make a quick tomato sauce for pizza, pasta or meatloaf. If you’re an epicurean, use the reserved tomato water in a refreshing agua fresca or to make an amazing tomato martini.

6. Juice them: Blanch the tomatoes as above and pureed the peeled tomatoes in a food processor along with a rib of celery, several mini peeled carrots and a bit of chopped onion. Heat the juice until just boiling in a sauce pan and simmer for about 20 minutes. Season the juice with a pinch of sugar and salt to taste. If you prefer a smoother juice, you can strain the puree through a sieve before using it to make the best Bloody Mary ever!

7. Cream them: Start by sautéing a chopped onion in butter in a pot. Add a couple of cloves of minced garlic and four to five big tomatoes that have been chopped. Add a spoonful of tomato paste and three to four cups of chicken or vegetable stock. Add two spoonfuls of raw rice. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes, until rice is cooked. Puree in the blender, strain the skins through a sieve and reheat in a saucepan with salt, pepper and a healthy glug of cream or half-and-half. Serve this amazing tomato bisque with garlic bread or a classic grilled cheese sandwich.

8. Freeze them: Remember that tomato pulp from above? Good, now throw four cups of it into the blender with a half cup of cilantro leaves, the juice of a couple of limes and a squirt of your favorite hot sauce. Pour the resulting goop over a cookie sheet and place it in the freezer. Every 20 minutes or so, scrape the frozen edges to the center of the pan with a fork. When you have nothing but red flakes of crystallized ice, you have spicy tomato granita. Place in a covered container and freeze until ready to eat. This makes a fancy and unexpected appetizer or dessert.

9. Roast them: Cut the tomatoes in half through the equator and place cut side up in a 13-by-9-inch baking pan. Sprinkle the top with chopped garlic and any herbs you like along with salt and a generous drizzle of olive oil. Bake at 325 degrees F for about two hours, watching to make sure they’re not drying out too quickly. If they’re still very juicy, turn up the heat to 400 and cook for a few more minutes until the juices start to caramelize. Pull the skins off with your fingers and use them as is or mash with a spoon to a nice tomato paste consistency before using.

10. Preserve them: Just like the many other fruits of summer, tomatoes make a wonderful jam. Combine about a pound and a half of good ripe tomatoes (coarsely chopped), one jalapeno or other pepper that has been stemmed, seeded and minced, a cup of sugar, juice of two limes, a tablespoon of grated ginger, a teaspoon of salt and of ground cumin, a big pinch of cinnamon and a small pinch of ground cloves in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour 15 minutes until the mixture has the consistency of thick jam, Taste and adjust seasoning, and then cool and refrigerate until ready to use; this will keep at least a week. This jam can be canning and processed in a water bath and preserved for months.


Monday, July 1, 2019

July 4th Menu Planner

Stay relaxed while you celebrate our nation's independence with some easy cookout ideas. When it's time to eat, remember to say "thank you" to all who have sacrificed for our freedom. We have put together a list of our favorite 4th of July recipes. We hope they will become your favorites as well!

It's too hot to cook inside, so fire up that grill:

And these chilled sides are excellent accompaniments that can be made ahead:

And what summer party is complete without a frozen dessert?
Lastly, don’t forget something to keep the kids from underfoot and away from the fiery grill. Yard games of bocce, corn hole or horseshoes are always popular and you can NEVER go wrong with bubbles. Try our mixture for the Ultimate Bubble Elixir and get ready for the squeals of delight!

Be safe and enjoy a safe and well deserved three-day weekend! And, don’t forget to designate a driver or enjoy the night air by walking home when possible.


Sunday, June 16, 2019

Minted Eggplant Insalata

Eggplant appears in some form or fashion on almost every antipasti table throughout Italy. Eggplants are members of the nightshade family of plants and are closely related to tomatoes and potatoes. The fruit is botanically classified as a berry and contains numerous small, soft seeds which are edible, but have a bitter taste because they contain nicotinoid alkaloids which is not surprising given its close relation to tobacco.

Native to India, the eggplant made its first appearance in Italy via Sicily and the southern regions. Easy to grow and abundant, eggplant is very versatile when used in cooking. The raw fruit which can be a tad bitter, but becomes tender when cooked and develops a rich, complex flavor. The fruit is capable of absorbing large amounts of fats and sauces, making it a good ingredient for very rich dishes. The combination of flavors in this particular variation is incredible and makes a fabulous addition to an antipasti table or can be served as a delicate Summer salad.

  • 1 medium eggplant, ¼-thick slices, degorged
  • ¾ cup olive oil
  • 1 fresh chili pepper, seeded and chopped (optional)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon capers, drained, rinsed and chopped
  • 10 fresh mint leaves, torn
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Heat a heavy skillet over high heat. Ensure that the eggplant has been patted dry and brush lightly with olive oil. Add the eggplant slices to the skillet in batches and cook over high heat until golden brown on both sides. Remove to a paper towel and let drain until cool.

Combine the chili peppers, garlic, capers and mint in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Layer eggplant slices on a serving platter and drizzle with a tablespoon of mint dressing and continue making layers until all the ingredients are used.

Sprinkle the remaining olive oil over the top and let the eggplant marinate in a cool place for at least six hours.


Wednesday, June 5, 2019

What Dad Really Wants: Steak

Thanks to the nagging of the greeting-card, flower and candy industries, Mother's Day has become etched in our collective consciousness as a holiday not to be forgotten; the guilt would be too excruciating. But Father's Day, which falls several weeks later, is often commemorated with only a card and perhaps a ubiquitous (and most likely hideous) tie (that he will never wear) to celebrate the occasion. Given all that our fathers have endured over the child-rearing years; endless gamesof catch, Christmas Eves spent sweating over the assembly a variety of gifts (with instructions in German), forced politeness toward dates with odd hairdos, and teaching us how to parallel park, Dad clearly deserves better.

So on his day, let's give him what he really wants: the chance to relax, have fun and, to top it all off, enjoy a great dinner. According to an informal poll conducted by Chef Nancy Waldeck, Dads want a big juicy steak that they cook themselves (to ensure that it is cooked to his exact taste.) So in honor of all Dads on Father’s Day, we are including grilling tips and advice for Dads everywhere to enjoy their meaty treasures:

Grilled steaks require glowing coals. No flame. Let the fire burn down till a gray-ash film covers the charcoal. If fire's too hot, you dry the meat, lose good juices. A well-made fire is the essential first step in outdoor cooking. The right fire makes barbecuing smooth and simple.

The temperature of the fire needed depends on the type of meat you are going to cook. For cuts of meat such as steaks, burgers, and kabobs which you intend to cook rapidly, use a relatively hot fire. A moderate fire is fine for roasts and larger pieces of meat. For slower cooking cuts of meat such as pork chops and spareribs, use a slow fire.

Charcoal comes in two forms: lump charcoal and briquettes. Lump charcoal is in odd-sized pieces just as they come from the charcoal kiln. It is less uniform in burning quality and more difficult to handle. Briquets are ground, lump charcoal pressed into uniform blocks. They are easier to use, burn evenly, and produce a more uniform heat. They are easier to control and burn longer than lump charcoal.

Pile the charcoal in a pyramid on the firebox of the grill. You don't need much charcoal. Beginner chefs are often too ambitious, build too big a fire. After you've built several barbecue fires, you'll be able to gauge the amount easily. Add liquid lighter to charcoal; wait a minute, then light. Do not use gasoline or kerosene. Let charcoal burn for 15 to 20 minutes until the briquets are about two-thirds covered with gray-ash. Spread the briquets evenly throughout the grill. The bed of coals should be shallow (easy to control) and just a little larger than the area of food you are cooking.

The fastest way to get a bed of cooking coals (about 15 minutes) is with an electric fire starter. Most other methods of fire starting take approximately 45 minutes. A chimney is another secret for fast take off. Make your own from a tall juice can or a 2-pound coffee can. Remove ends from can. Using tin snips, cut out triangles or circles around bottom, 1 inch apart, to allow draft. Or punch triangular holes with a church-key bottle opener and bend down for legs. (While the bottle opener is out, be sure to use it to open an icy cold beverage for Dad while he labors over the hot flames.)

Place a wad of newspaper in the base of the chimney, add 6 to 8 charcoal briquets, and then light the paper from the bottom of the chimney. When the briquets are burning, add more to the top. Allow to burn about 15 minutes, and then lift off chimney (with tongs!) and rake coals where you want them.

Don't start to cook until the fire dies down to glowing coals. Coals are ready for cooking when they look ash-gray by day, and have a red glow after dark. No flames! Don't start cooking too soon. When coals are hot, tap off the gray ash with fire tongs; ashes on the briquets insulate and retard the heat.

An easy way to tell the heat of the fire is to hold your hand over the coals at the height the food will be for cooking. Begin counting "one thousand one, one thousand two", and so on. The number of seconds you can comfortably hold your hand over the fire will tell you how hot the fire is. If you can count to "one thousand two," you have a relatively hot fire; "one thousand three" or "one thousand four" is about a moderate fire, and "one thousand five" or "one thousand six" is a slow fire.

If you are cooking a large piece of meat that requires a long cooking time, plan to replenish the coals from time to time. Add a little extra charcoal around the edges after your fire is ready for cooking. Don't top your cooking fire with cold coals; this will lower the temperature more than you think. To increase heat, add warm coals from the reserve around the fire's edge.

To slow down the fire, move hot coals out to make a larger oval; to increase heat, move hot coals in to make narrower oval. This technique helps maintain the even cooking. Fire is ready only when flames die down. In broad daylight, the coals will look ash-gray and after dark, they'll have a red glow (they burn from outside in).

If drippings do flare up during cooking, sprinkle the fire lightly with water to quench the blaze. Keep handy a clothes sprinkler filled with water close by. Use only enough water to do the trick; don't soak the coals. It will take some time for very wet coals to dry out and begin to burn again. It will also reduce the intensity of the heat of the fire.

Orders for "rare" go on the grill last. When you see little bubbles on top surface of the steaks, they are ready to turn (heat forces the juices to the uncooked surface). Flip steaks with tongs and a spatula; piercing with a fork wastes good meat juices. Cook the second side a few minutes less than the first since the second side has a head start on heating. Turn only once. For 1-inch steaks cooked medium-rare, allow 13 to 15 min¬utes total grilling time. It is always a good idea to use a meat thermometer when grilling. Insert thermometer so tip is in center of meat. Tip must not touch bone, fat, or the metal spit.

For charred crusty coat, try this: Sear one side by lowering grill top close to coals for 2 to 3 minutes, then raise grill to finish same side. Turn steak, and sear second side; again raise grill and complete the cooking.

Wait until you turn steak to salt it (same for burgers and chops.) Salt and pepper the browned side and then season the other side as you take it off the grill. If you salt uncooked meat, the juices will be drawn out and you'll lose good flavor.

It is important to know how to carve a big steak, like a porterhouse or a sirloin, so that one person doesn't rate most of the choice portions, and another person get the tag ends. First remove the bone, cutting very close to it. Now cut across the full width of the steak, making 1-inch slices and narrowing them a little on the tenderloin side. Be sure everyone gets a section of the tenderloin. If steak has a tail piece slice it last to serve for second helpings.

When the steaks are grilled to perfection, serve them sputtering hot with a pat of butter and a squeeze of lemon. With the grill already “fired” up, it's a cinch to grill a few ears of fresh corn and some thick slices of red onion that have been brushed with olive oil. With some of Dom's potato salad, peach and mozzarella salad, and delicious grilled watermelon for dessert, you will have well-rounded and must-deserved treat for Dad on his big day!
June 19, 2011


Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Roasted Carrots with Sorghum Syrup and Caraway

It is no secret that we have been trying to eat better and lose weight. Lofty goals during the time of year when you cannot swing a stick without hitting Valentine's Day chocolates and Easter candy. Supermarket carrots are always a healthy if not mundane and tiresome alternative, but with fresh carrots popping up in gardens and farmer's markets, perhaps they deserve another look.

Carrots respectable fiber content is a key fat-fighting feature, half of which is the soluble fiber calcium pectate. Soluble fiber may help lower blood-cholesterol levels by binding with and eliminating bile acids, triggering cholesterol to be drawn out of the bloodstream. Additionally, carrots have little competition when it comes to beta-carotene. One half-cup serving of cooked carrots has four times the RDA of vitamin A in the form of protective beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is thought to ward off cancer and help to prevent heart disease due to its antioxidant qualities. The National Cancer Institute is studying the entire family of umbelliferous foods, of which carrots, celery and parsley are members, for protective effects. A recent Harvard University study suggests that people who eat more than five carrots a week are much less likely to suffer a stroke than those who eat only one carrot a month.

Yada, yada, yada. Let’s face it; those little carrot nuggets found in every school lunch box are BORING. Carrot soup; blah. But… roasted to bring out the natural sugars, now we may be getting somewhere. Add some sorghum syrup and a few caraway seeds and we are in business.

Sorghum syrup, also called sweet sorghum, is made from juice extracted from sorghum cane plants, which are grown in the Southeastern United States. Sorghum syrup contains no fat, cholesterol or protein and is a rich source of nutrients like manganese, vitamin B-6, magnesium and potassium. This sweet syrup can be used on pancakes, biscuits or as a topping for ice cream. It is sometimes used in baked goods as a substitute for molasses, corn syrup, maple syrup and as a vegan alternative to honey. Caraway seeds add a nice cumin-like warmth to dishes while aiding in digestion and boosting iron and calcium intake.

2 pounds baby carrots
1 teaspoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 clove of garlic, smashed
¼ cup white wine
¼ cup sorghum syrup
¼ teaspoon caraway seeds

Preheat oven and pan to 400°F. Wash and remove tops from carrots leaving 1 inch of greenery on each carrot. (if they have them.) Rub carrots with olive to ensure that they are fully coated and sprinkle with salt and pepper before placing them on a baking sheet. Place in the oven and bake 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and sauté for a minute. Remove from the heat, and stir in wine, syrup and caraway seeds. Return to the heat, and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium, and cook for 3-5 minutes or until the mixture is syrupy.

Drizzle the syrup over carrots and toss to coat. Bake for another 10 minutes or until carrots are crisp-tender. Transfer to a serving dish and pour pan juices over the top before serving. Have leftovers? Don’t throw them away. They make a much better snack than those orange nugget aberrations.

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