Tomato Sauce, Fresh from the Garden

When the tomatoes start turning from green to red, it’s time to go and NOT STOP.

The basket fills up, friends and family don’t want anymore. Perhaps you can set up a table at the end of your driveway and sell some.

OR

Go make some sauce.

Here is an easy recipe. I used the tomatoes, onion, garlic & fresh thyme from the garden. The additions are dried oregano and sun-dried tomatoes (store-bought)

Ingredients:

Approximately 15 Fresh tomatoes, medium to large in size

3 Tbls. Olive Oil

1 Medium onion, small dice

4 cloves of garlic, minced

2 Tbls. Dried Oregano

1 tsp red pepper seed

2/3 cup Sun Dried Tomatoes

3/4 cup water

1/2 bunch fresh thyme (approximately 1/4 cup)

Salt to taste

Method:

Set a large pot of water on the stove to blanch the tomatoes. Set up another pot or container with a cold water bath to shock the tomatoes.

Let the tomatoes boil to the point that the skins begin to peel away then immediately place tomatoes in the cold water.

Peel & Seed the tomatoes. Simply put, pull away the skins and break the tomatoes by hand and squeeze out the seeds. Retaining the pulp of the tomato.

In another large pot or saucepan, heat over a medium heat, add the oil. Add the onion and cook to translucent.

Add the garlic, oregano & red pepper seed and cook for a minute.

Add the sun-dried tomatoes and water. Cook to reduce the water in half.

Add the fresh tomatoes. Heat over a high heat for about 8 minutes then reduce to a low simmer. Add the thyme.

Stir occasionally. Reduce the water or obvious liquid to reach a nice thick consistency (about 2-1/2 hours)

Using a hand blender or food processor, blend to smooth. Season with salt.

Pack it up and freeze it, eat it, sell it or give away as a gift.

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Pan Seared Sole, lemon caper sauce

This recipe can be used for a variety of fish or chicken.

If you are gluten-free, substitute the AP flour with tapioca, rice, or corn flour.

This should feed 4 people. Sole or flounder fillets are small so pick the largest ones you can get or select two per person.

Ingredients:

Sole, 4-8 fillets

3/4 cup flour

4 tbls canola oil

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

1 shallot, minced

2/3 cup white wine

Juice from one lemon

2 tbls capers

A few sprigs of fresh thyme

3 tbls Dijon Mustard

Method:

Set some paper towel over a bake pan or large platter.

Turn on your vent hood. Set a large saute pan over a medium to high heat.

Season the fish with salt & pepper, then dust both sides with flour.

Add the oil to the pan. Turn the pan to coat. Carefully place the fillets on the bottom of the pan.

Don’t touch them. After three minutes, the flour around the edges of the fish begins to turn brown,turn the fish over and shut the heat off. Let them continue cook from the heat of the pan for about two minutes then transfer to a paper towel lined platter.

Return pan to stove and set over a high heat. Add the shallots, lemon juice, white wine and capers.

Let the liquid reduce in half then stir in Dijon. Season with a pinch of salt.

Plate the fish and cover with sauce, garnish with fresh thyme.

Enjoy!

Pineapple Papaya Salad, lime ginger vinaigrette

I needed a fruit and lettuce combo that has some pizzazz. The presentation is up to you. Certainly you don’t have to go through the effort of using a Mandoline for slicing.

This salad could be combined in a bowl with the dressing on the side.

This shall serve 6-8.

Ingredients:

4 Heads of Belgian Endive, leaves separated and cleaned

1 medium red onion, thinly sliced

1 Papaya, peeled, seeded & sliced

1 Pineapple, peeled, cored & sliced

1 English Cucumber, peeled, seeded and sliced

1 quart micro greens or shoots

Either individually plate the above or display in a large serving bowl. Refrigerate until service.

Dressing:

4 tablespoons rice vinegar

Juice from 1 lime

1 tsp fresh ginger

2 cloves of garlic

1/4 cup fresh mint, loose not packed

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, loose not packed

2 tbls honey

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp hot sauce

3/4 cup olive oil

Using a blender, combine the first 9 ingredients. While the blender is running, slowly add the oil. Blend to a slightly thick consistency.

Dress the salad and enjoy!

Cooking on an Infrared Burner, sliders

Cooking with Infrared burner is like using a grill burner on steroids.

This baby is HOT

Some restaurants have gas grills with 100,000 btu or wood grills that heat over 700˚f. If the average home cook had something this hot, the fire department would be making frequent stops at their home. Also, most of cooking would resemble the bottom of your shoe.

Grills that offer a Infrared burner, provide a heat that is close to what the professionals use without the need of that extra fire extinguisher (although it does make sense to have one in your home for safety).

I recently cooked sliders on a Lynx Grill.

Since sliders are small I could cook them start to finish over the Infrared Burner. You can cook thinner and smaller cuts over the Infrared burner.

Most items should be just ‘seared’ over the Infrared burner and then finished over a standard burner to cook through.

 

Ingredients:

1 lb ground pork

1/2 ground beef, sirloin or chuck

1 small onion, minced

3 tbls bread crumbs

3 tbls minced sun-dried tomatoes

3 tbls fresh basil, minced

3 tsp Dijon mustard

2 tbls steak sauce

Salt, to taste

Cracked pepper, to taste

Method

Cooking Spray, I recommend Coconut or Canola oil

In a stainless steel bowl combine the first 10 ingredients. Form golf ball size meatballs.

Turn on your grill. Set the Infrared Burner on high and place the lid down. Let the great heat for at least 8 minutes to get the grates hot.

Raise lid and clean the grates with a grill brush.

Spray the meatballs with cooking spray. Carefully & quickly place them on the hot grate with space in between. Let them cook for 2 1/2 minutes or until they will pull away from the grates without sticking. As you turn the over, place them on a clean grate or not over the same spot that they were cooking on. This keeps them from sticking to the remnants on the grates. Turn the heat down to low.

Allow them to cook for another 4 minutes. Remove and place on a pan or platter to rest while they continue to cook. Serve on a fresh roll with your favorite condiments.

Enjoy!

Blood Orange Mint Sorbet

Great opportunity to break out that ice cream machine that has been sitting in the box since last summer.

Or perhaps fill up some popsicle forms for a great treat on the go!

Ingredients:

1 cup loosely packed mint

2/3 cup sugar

1 -1/2 cup water

1 cup Blood Orange juice

Juice from 2 limes

Method:

In a sauce pan,combine 3/4 cup of water with sugar and place over a high heat. Boil to reduce liquid in half. Take pan from stove top and let simple syrup cool.

Light chop the mint and combine with juices & remaining water, in a stainless steel bowl. Mix in the simple syrup and place bowl, covered, in the refrigerator for a few hours. Strain the liquid and discard the mint before freezing your sorbet or pouring into popsicle molds.

Set into ice cream maker and follow manufacturers instructions.

Freeze it, share it or eat it.

Enjoy!

Kick up the recipe by adding 2 shots of light rum or a dash of both cinnamon and cayenne pepper.

Zucchini Pasta, no flour

Okay Vegetarians and those of the gluten free preference, break out that mandoline that is sitting in the back of the cupboard and get ready for a great dinner and no scarred knuckles.

Okay admittedly I have the pro version but the inexpensive plastic one works just fine. Set the cutter in the julienne setting. Use a towel to hold down the zucchini. You want to cut this lengthwise to get the spaghetti pasta effect. The cutter guard is too small for that.

 

 

Here are the ingredients for a great simple dish for two for dinner or four as the side dish:

2 Medium to Large Zucchini,  remove ends, cut julienne

2 Tablespoons Olive oil

1 Tablespoon of Butter or non dairy butter

1 pint Cherry Tomatoes, I used yellow because that is what is I have growing , cut in 1/2

4 ounces Mushrooms – Cremini, Portobello or your favorite – sliced thin

2 cloves Garlic, minced

Juice from 1 Lemon

2 ounces Pesto

2 ounces Tomato Sauce

Salt & Pepper to taste

1/2 cup white wine, stock or water

Method:

Set a large Saute pan on a high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook for 3-5 minutes to extract some moisture, then remove from pan set aside on a plate. Return pan to stove top over a high heat. After 1 minute add the oil and turn pan to coat. Add the Zucchini and cook occasionally stirring just to the point of light brown.

Add the cherry tomatoes and garlic. Carefully stir then add the lemon juice and mushrooms. Let the veggies absorb the juice for a minute then add the pesto, tomato sauce & 1/2 cup of liquid.

Season with S & P and carefully stir to combine.

Plate it up and Enjoy!

Limoncello Tiramisu

Nice cool dessert for the summer.

I used stemless martini glasses for individual servings. The recipe can also be prepared in a trifle bowl or casserole.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup Limoncello
1/2 cup water
2 t sugar

3 lemons
3 eggs separated
1 2/3 cups heavy cream
1/2 sugar
1 tub  Mascarpone
Cocoa powder
36 ladyfingers

Method:
Press the lemons onto a cutting board and slowly roll with your fingers. This will help extract more juice.

In a saucepan, mix Limoncello, juice from 2 lemons, 2 T sugar and water bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve the sugar then pour into a bowl and chill in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.


In an electric mixer with whip attachment combine egg yolks, 1/2 cup sugar & lemon zest from 1 lemon, beat on high until fluffy. Slowly add 1 cup heavy cream and Mascarpone and mix to smooth consistency then transfer to a larger ss bowl.
Clean & dry mixer bowl and return it to mixer. Add egg whites beat to light peaks. Fold into egg Mascarpone mixture and chill.
Break a couple of lady fingers to 1” cubes and place into bottom of martini glass.                               Place some of the Limoncello syrup into a shallow bowl or plate. Dip full size lady fingers in quickly & place into the martini glasses.


Use three per glass or break two in half and use four halves per glass.
Scoop Mascarpone mixture on top.


Chill before service. Drizzle remaining Limoncello syrup over desserts (1/2 teaspoon on each).
In a small ss bowl whip remaining 2/3 cup heavy cream. Place a dollop on top of each serving.


Dust with cocoa powder and garnish with lemon zest or grated rind.

Cooking Steaks and Chops Indoors

If you happen to live in a city condo or apartment you may not be able to use an outdoor grill.

How can you cook Chops or Steaks with nice results?

A skillet with the bottom grooves provides the grill marks, but the real benefit is that your chop or steak wont cook in the rendered grease becoming bitter. Those grate lines in the pan elevate it enough to keep it above the fat. Certainly fat is flavor, but when rendered from the steak or chop that you are cooking, it becomes grease that starts to burn and give off an undesirable flavor.

Most pans are seasoned and can withstand a high heat. They are easy to clean if you wait until it slightly cools down, then add some warm water to it. This will allow any of the burnt on bits to come off easily without heavy scrubbing.

Here is a good way of producing a good dinner.

The first step is buying a good quality Steak or Chop.

Here is a Veal Loin Chop

Here is a Veal Rib Chop

The Rib Chop is usually, ‘French Style’ in which the meat is cleaned from the bone. These can also be tied for even cooking and provide an excellent presentation. You can also pound this out with a meat mallet for quick cooking and a larger plate presentation.

If it is good quality and not frozen, you won’t need much in the area of spices. You want to get the most flavor and just enhance it with a simple sauce.

I use the following method for thicker steaks and chops. The photos are with a bone-in Rib Eye. We are using an oven as a finishing mode to speed up the cooking process and retain more juices and flavor.

Ingredients: 

Chop or Chops (depending on how many are eating)

Kosher Salt and Cracked Black pepper.

2 Tablespoons Oil, per chop (Grape Seed, Coconut , Safflower or Canola)

1 Tablespoon Butter, per chop

1 Tsp Truffle Oil, per chop

Method:

Set oven to 400˚ Convection or 425˚ Bake

Whether you are cooking veal, beef, pork or lamb chops, the method remains the same. The only difference is the smaller chops may cook all the way through on the stove top based on your preferred doneness.

Heat pan over a medium to high heat on the stove top. Season both sides of chop with a pinch of salt and some cracked pepper. Oil both sides of chop.

As the pan begins to smoke add the chop.

After about 2 minutes see if you can lift the chop and turn it to get the cross grill marks and continue to sear on the bottom side. If it is stuck to pan just wait a minute and it should come off easily. (this method works the same on your outdoor grill grates).

 

 

Let it cook for about a minute then flip the chop over.

 

After you flipped chop, top with butter and place into the oven on the middle rack.

After 5 minutes begin checking for temperature. When cooked to your preference, remove from oven and plate the chop.

Season with truffle oil.

Enjoy!

Pepper Frittata with Za’atar

Call it a ommlette if you will. I wanted something other than peppers, hot sauce, cumin and cilantro.

Don’t get me wrong those ingredients work, this just called to me.

If you don’t know Za’atar, it is a combination of dried oregano, thyme, sesame seeds, sumac and salt.

Easy to make but if you have a mediterranean market nearby, get it already mixed. Sure it’s easy to combine the ingredients but if you buy sumac and don’t have another use for it, you have wasted some $.

My first experience with this spice is from the local bakery on fresh-baked pita called Za’atar Manakeesh. Since then I have tried it rubbed into chicken for a roast, in rice and humus.

The flavor is wonderful.

Back to the recipe.

Ingredients:

4 large eggs

1/2 cup half-n-half or almond milk

1 cubanelle pepper, cut into 1/2″ slices

3 white mushrooms, diced

2 Tablespoons grated cheese (it’s up to you but Colby, cheddar gouda, manchego are good choices)

1 garlic clove, minced

1 tablespoon Za’atar

1 tablespoon chopped Fresh Cilantro

2 tsp olive oil

1 tsp butter

salt and pepper to taste

Method.

Turn on your oven to 425˚Convection or 450˚ Bake

Use a non-stick pan set over a low heat. In a bowl beat eggs with half&half. Add a pinch of salt.

Turn heat up in pan, add oil & butter and turn pan to glaze. Add cut pepper and mushrooms. Cook for a minute then add garlic. After it begins to pop add Za’atar and egg mixture and turn pan to coat. Top with cilantro, cheese salt & pepper then place into oven on middle rack.

It should rise in about 6 minutes. Cooking in the oven keeps the stove top cleaner. Convection works well with this rise and presentation plus, cooks faster than in the Bake mode of your oven.

Take it out and flip onto a plate or platter to serve.

Cut into wedges.

Maybe add some hot sauce just in case.

Enjoy!

Pulled Pork

Recently demonstrating the AGA Total Control and needed a treat that showcases the range features and can appeal to the masses.

I wanted to show off the High Heat of the Boiling Plate, about 650˚ along with the Simmer Oven 250˚

Okay I know that most of you can turn up a high heat on the larger burner on your stove top and then turn down the heat in the oven for the Low and Slow. Even the CrocPot can cover that cooking option. But imagine that you have an oven at your disposal that is set for that application.

I don’t know about yours, but this would look fantastic in my kitchen.

Back to the recipe, sorry I digress.

First off I am a fan of Dry Rubs accompanied with a dipping sauce, if necessary.

There are many Dry Rubs that are available that do a great job, Paul Prudhomme’s Magic Spices are Fantastic. McCormick has some great varieties. I am sure your favorite celebrity  chef has his or her own spice line.

Here is a great way to use up some spices that you may have in the back of your cabinet.

Ingredients:

4 lbs. Boneless Pork Shoulder (or Pork Butt)

3 Tablespoons canola oil

3/4 cup water, wine or beer

Dry Rub

4 Tablespoons Paprika (mild)

2 Tablespoons Cane Sugar (Turbinato if accessible)

1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt

1 Tablespoon ground Coriander

2 tsp dried onion

1 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp cayenne

1/2 tsp cinnamon

 

Method:

Mix all spices and thoroughly season the pork. Coat the meat with oil. Heat on stove over a high heat,  a dutch casserole or heavy skillet. After a minute add the meat. Sear for a few minutes and turn the meat over. Continue to brown all sides.

Add liquid of choice to the pan, cover the pan and place into a 250˚f oven.

After 3 hours, check to see if fork tender. When ready. Remove from oven and let it cool for about 20 minutes. Use two forks to split the meat apart.

Mix with the juices and if preferred, serve with your favorite BBQ sauce on the side.

Goes great in a potato roll, corn bread or Syrian bread wrap.

Enjoy!