weeknight gourmet

Posts Tagged ‘New York Times’

Cilantro lover or hater??

I am a cilantro lover and have always been curious why cilantro elicits such a strong reaction from its many haters out there.  My mother-in-law won’t eat anything that cilantro has touched.  And, our good friend Jason who is a pretty adventurous eater despises cilantro as well.

Here’s an interesting article from today’s New York Times that provides some insight…


Dinner for One: Spaghetti with Fried Eggs

I recently read Amanda Hesser’s Cooking for Mr. Latte: A Food Lover’s Courtship, with Recipes (many thanks to Raina for the recommendation).  The book wonderfully weaves together tales of cooking, dining out, and eating with friends and family and her relationship with her now husband who she refers to as Mr. Latte.  Lots of great NYC references too which I enjoyed.  It was a fun read for any food lover!

I was struck by many of the recipes in the book and plan to try a few.  Tonight, though, when Tim told me he was having dinner with his friend I remembered the chapter on cooking when you are home alone.  The chapter recounts one of the last meals Amanda makes as a single woman before she marries Mr. Latte.  In reflecting on this milestone, Amanda asks many of her friends what do they cook when they are dining alone.  I didn’t have to think long about what I make when I cook for myself — PASTA!   I decided to try one of the recipes included in this chapter — spaghetti with fried eggs and parmesan cheese.  It sounded like a bowl of comfort to me.  With a fall chill in the air, this was the perfect recipe for tonight.

I followed the recipe below from Mark Bittman’s blog.  Definitely cook the eggs on low to medium heat and take them off the heat when the whites are still runny.  The eggs will continue to cook when mixed with the hot pasta.

I thought it was a deliciously simple meal!

Spaghetti with Fried Eggs
Arthur Schwartz

  • Salt
  • 1/2 pound thin spaghetti
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or lard
  • 2 large cloves garlic, lightly smashed and peeled
  • 4 eggs
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Freshly grated Parmesan or pecorino cheese, optional
Bring a pot of salted water to the boil. Start the sauce in the next step, and start cooking the pasta when the water boils.
Combine garlic and 4 tablespoons of the oil in a small skillet over medium-low heat. Cook the garlic, pressing it into the oil occasionally to release its flavor; it should barely color on both sides. Remove the garlic, and add the remaining oil.
Fry the eggs gently in the oil, until the whites are just about set and the yolks still quite runny. Drain the pasta, and toss with the eggs and oil, breaking up the whites as you do. (The eggs will finish cooking in the heat of the pasta.) Season to taste, and serve immediately, with cheese if you like.

150th Post!! Skirt Steak, Tri-Colore Orzo, Tapas-inspired Chickpea Salad, and Grilled Peaches with Honey & Mascarpone

Hard to believe I have posted 150 times since late January!  There have been so many delicious meals, wonderful dinner guests, and fun meal-time conversations.  Plus, I have received so much positive feedback on the blog.  Overall, the Weeknight Gourmet has been a fun and rewarding undertaking!

As I mentioned in my Blueberry Pie post, we had some guests in Becket this weekend.  Here is the meal we had on Saturday night.  File this as another great barbecue menu!

Mark Bittman’s Grilled Skirt Steak with Chimichurri Sauce

Tri-Colore Orzo

Tapas-inspired Chickpea Salad


Pound Cake & Grilled Peaches with Mascarpone & Honey

Summer Barbecue Menu: Spiced Butterflied Leg of Lamb, Zucchini & Orzo, and Roasted Red Peppers with White Beans and Mozzarella

We had Tim’s family up to the Berkshires this weekend.  Tim’s parents and the dogs arrived on Friday and Tim’s brother, his wife, and baby girl came on Saturday.

We had this delicious and surprisingly simple barbecue menu on Friday night!  I love grilled lamb and I tried to take advantage of the fresh zucchini at the store and my mother-in-law Pam’s fresh lettuce from the garden.

I think everyone enjoyed the meal!

Spiced Butterflied Leg of Lamb

Zucchini & Orzo

Roasted Red Peppers with White Beans and Mozzarella

Fresh Greens from Pam’s Garden

Summer Barbecue Menu: Roasted Red Peppers with White Beans and Mozzarella

To accompany our grilled leg of lamb dinner, I made #54 on Mark Bittman’s 101 Simple Summer Salads.  The “recipe” is below:

“Slice roasted red peppers (if you must use canned, try to find piquillos) and fresh mozzarella. Toss with cooked white beans, olive oil, red wine vinegar, a chopped shallot and fresh rosemary or parsley.”

I used jarred piquillos and ciliegine (cherry-sized balls of fresh mozzarella).  To simplify further, I used a can of white beans (rinsed and drained).  Pam had brought fresh Italian parsley from their garden so that topped this simple yet delicious salad!


Perfect Summer Dessert: Fresh Strawberries With Almond Creme Anglaise

What’s better than strawberries and cream!

Mark Bittman provides a wonderful alternative to the traditional vanilla-flavored custard in this week’s Dining section in the New York Times.  I’ve included the recipe below but don’t skip the article — Strawberries, Coddled.   It provides some great tips on cooking the sauce.

Hopefully, my local market in the Berkshires will have some beautiful strawberries so that I can try the recipe this weekend!

Fresh Strawberries With Almond Crème Anglaise
Mark Bittman

  • 3/4 cup chopped almonds plus 1/2 cup lightly toasted slivered almonds
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 6 to 8 cups strawberries, washed, hulled and quartered

Put chopped almonds in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook, shaking pan occasionally, until fragrant and beginning to toast, about 3 minutes.

Add milk, cream, sugar and egg yolks, and whisk well to combine. Cook, whisking almost constantly, until mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Do not let it boil.

While sauce is still hot, strain it through a sieve and let cool a bit. To serve, put a cup of strawberries in each dish, drizzle with warm sauce and garnish with slivered almonds. Sauce will keep, tightly covered, in refrigerator for up to 3 days.

6 to 8 servings.

The Commander in Chef

Amanda Hesser writes a great op-ed piece in today’s New York Times about the need for a “cooking” role model in the White House.  Growing and buying local isn’t enough.  You actually need to cook with those local ingredients!

Click here to read the piece.

Getting to Know My Friend the Artichoke

I love artichokes but have never cooked with fresh artichokes.  I must admit I have been intimidated by their unique structure. So, when I read this week’s Melissa Clark article in the New York Times about stuffed artichokes, I decided it was time to stop limiting myself to canned, frozen, and marinated artichokes.

Since the cooking time for these stuffed artichokes was 1.5 hours – not including prep time – I decided this was a “weekend gourmet” dish and made the recipe Saturday night.

So despite the well written recipe, I really wanted to watch someone prep a whole artichoke so I turned to YouTube. I found this great video by the Culinary Institute of America.

With a little more knowledge in my back pocket, I turned to my 4 fresh globe artichokes. The first thing I learned was that I didn’t look for the appropriate signs of freshness at the store – no discoloration in the thistle. The first artichoke I cut into was bad – all purple and tough inside. I had a 50% yield from the artichokes I purchased but there were only two of us so it worked out well. Prepping a quality artichoke for stuffing was much easier than I imagined and provided a great education on the anatomy of the artichoke.

I followed Melissa Clark’s recipe below and the results were delicious! The stuffing was great, the heart was tender, and the leaves were fabulous.

I am intimidate by the artichoke no more!

My first stuffed artichoke

Stuffed Artichokes With Lemon Zest, Rosemary and Garlic

Melissa Clark, The New York Times

1 1/2 lemons, zested, then halved
4 large globe artichokes (about 12 ounces each before trimming)
2 1/4 cups plain bread crumbs
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley, plus 4 whole sprigs
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
8 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
2 carrots, peeled
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped capers
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
1/2 cup dry white wine

1.  Heat oven to 400 degrees. Fill a large bowl with water and squeeze juice from two lemon halves into water. Cut off artichoke stems, peel them with a vegetable peeler, rub them all over with remaining lemon half (this prevents browning) and drop them into water.

2. Use a heavy, sharp knife to cut top 1 1/2 inches off an artichoke. Pull out pale inner leaves from center. At the bottom, where leaves were, is a furry bed, the choke. Use a spoon (a grapefruit spoon works wonderfully) to scoop out choke. Next, using kitchen shears or a pair of scissors, trim pointy ends from outer leaves of artichoke. As you work, rub lemon half over cut parts of artichoke. When you are finished trimming, drop artichoke into bowl of lemon water. Repeat with remaining artichokes.

3. To prepare stuffing, in a large bowl combine lemon zest, bread crumbs, Parmesan, chopped parsley and rosemary. Mince 6 garlic cloves and add to bowl. Finely chop one carrot and add to bowl along with capers, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Toss.

4. In a small roasting pan or baking pan large enough to hold artichokes, scatter onion slices. Add reserved artichoke stems, 4 sprigs parsley and remaining garlic cloves. Slice remaining carrot into rounds and add to pan.

5. Holding artichokes over stuffing bowl, stuff choke cavity and in between the leaves with bread crumb mixture. Stand stuffed artichokes upright in pan and generously drizzle olive oil over center of each artichoke.

6. Fill pan with water until it reaches 1/4 way up the artichokes. Add wine and remaining salt and pepper to water. Cover pan with foil and poke several holes in foil. Bake artichokes for about 1 1/2 hours, or until tender; when done, a knife should be easily inserted into artichoke and a leaf should be easily pulled out.

Yield: 4 servings.

Italian Stuffed Artichokes on Foodista

Dinner for 10: Pork Tenderloin, Green Mashed Potatoes & Roasted Asparagus

As I mentioned in my previous post, we had a dinner party for 10 last night — 4 other couples from business school.  I was excited to host so that we didn’t feel rushed and could catch up more easily than in a restaurant.  But I didn’t want to spend my entire Saturday cooking so I took a look for simple recipes that I could largely prep in the morning and assemble and cook in the evening.

I inadvertently assembled a very healthy menu — spiced pork tenderloin with homemade honey mustard from Food & Wine, a healthy version of mashed potatoes from Mark Bittman, and roasted asparagus.

The pork was very simple to prepare.  After seasoning the tenderloins with kosher salt and pepper, I coated the pork in a mixture of mustard seeds, fennel seeds, and red pepper flakes.  The mustard sauce was simply a combo of two types of mustard, honey, and salt and pepper.  Pork tenderloin is very lean so be careful not to overcook it.

We’re not big potato eaters in our house but I was intrigued by Mark Bittman’s Green Mashed Potato recipe published a couple of weeks ago.  You mash boiled potatoes with olive oil and salt and pepper and then add cooked dandelion greens – one of the first greens of spring.  The dandelion greens only cook for a minute or two in the same water as the potatoes.  Lastly, you bake the potato-greens mixture with some breadcrumbs on top and a drizzle of olive oil.  Because you are incorporating the greens into the potatoes and you’re not using cream or butter, each bite is less heavy than typical mashed potatoes.

I also roasted several bunches of asparagus tossed in olive oil and seasoned with kosher salt and pepper.  I usually roast asparagus at 400 degrees but the pork need to cook at 375 so I just cooked the asparagus for a little longer than I typically do.

My friend Jess brought a delicious salad, Suzanne brought the dessert, and Vern and Cori each brought wine.  It was a great evening and I think everyone enjoyed the meal.  Plus, I loved cooking with a couple of the early signs of spring — dandelion greens and asparagus.

Spiced Pork Tenderloin with Honey Mustard
Food & Wine

  • 3 tablespoons mustard seeds
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • Two 14-ounce pork tenderloins
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup grainy Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup traditional Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup honey

Preheat the oven to 375°. In a mortar, lightly crush the mustard and fennel seeds with the crushed red pepper. Set the pork tenderloins on a rimmed baking sheet and season them with salt and pepper. Spread the crushed spices on the baking sheet and roll the pork tenderloins in the crushed spices to coat them.

Roast the pork tenderloins for about 20 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of each tenderloin registers 145°. Transfer the pork tenderloins to a cutting board and let them rest for 10 minutes.

In a small bowl, mix the mustards with the honey and season with salt and pepper. Slice the pork 1/2 inch thick and serve with the honey mustard.

8 servings

Green Mashed Potatoes
Mark Bittman

  • 2 large starchy or all-purpose potatoes (about 1 pound), peeled and cut into quarters
  • Salt
  • 1 pound dandelion or other greens, washed and trimmed of thick stems
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup homemade bread crumbs

Put potatoes in a large, deep pot and cover them with cold water. Add a large pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Cook until soft but not falling apart, 15 to 30 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain; meanwhile, add greens to water and cook for about 1 minute. Rinse under cold water. Drain well, then chop.

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Rice potatoes, run them through a food mill, or mash them with a fork or potato masher, adding enough olive oil to moisten them well. Mash in the greens, adding more olive oil as needed. Sprinkle with salt and lots of pepper.

Put mixture in an ovenproof dish and top with bread crumbs. Drizzle with more olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and bake until bread crumbs are golden brown, about 15 minutes. Serve hot or warm.

4 servings
Dandelion Greens on Foodista

My fave: bucatini all’amatriciana

Since Tim and I are in Las Vegas for the LeadsCon trade show (working the tradeshow floor has become a new skill since starting AdBuyer.com), there won’t be much cooking this week.  But don’t fret…I will eat well.  Las Vegas has so many amazing restaurants.  Tim and I like to check out new ones each time we come.

Last night after flying in, we had a late dinner at B&B Ristorante, a Mario Batali restaurant in the Venetian.  I ordered one of my favorite pasta dishes, bucatini all’amatriciana.  The first time I began to truly appreciate bucatini all’amatriciana was in Rome a few years ago.  I will never forget our amazing meal at Antica Pesa in the Trastevere area of Roma!  Now I am always on the hunt for good renditions of this classic.  Crispo in the West Village always does a nice job as did B&B Ristorante last night.

Apparently the key to the recipe is using guanicale – not bacon or pancetta.  If you’re interested in learning more, Florence Fabricant wrote an article and provided a recipe in the New York Times last year that fully educated me on my favorite pasta dish.  Enjoy!