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While I have a healthy obsession with spinach and cheese, palak paneer tends to be a dish that often looks better on the menu than it tastes on most restaurants’ plates. I found myself sloshing through the murky and over-pureed sauce to pick out the few cubes of paneer cheese oh so generously bestowed by the chef. I fixed these problems at home and found a way to make a palak paneer with a vibrant green sauce that still says “spinach.” The amped up flavor will excite your palate. And most of all, you won’t be searching for the cheese… well, at least not until you’ve finished it all.

Ingredients

  • 1 large yellow onion, diced Salt
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala (Indian spice mix)
  • 1-2 dashes of cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ginger paste
  • 11 ounces baby spinach
  • 1 tablespoon goat cheese spread/ plain yogurt (optional)
  • 3 ounces of heavy cream
  • 5 ounces low-sodium paneer, cubed

Directions

In a medium-sized pot over medium-high heat, sauté the onion in enough butter to coat the bottom of the pot and a drizzle of olive oil. Add a sizeable pinch of salt and cook until the onions are translucent.

Add the garlic, the garam masala, a shake or two of cinnamon and the ginger paste. Continue to cook while you make the spinach.

Heat a large sauté pan on high and coat with some water. Add the spinach and salt to taste. Cook down until the spinach is soft yet still bright green. In a blender or food processor, purée half the spinach from your pot. Add the purée to the onions.

Incorporate the goat cheese spread/yogurt (optional) and the cream until you are happy with the consistency and richness. It should be thick but not too chunky. Cook with paneer and salt to taste.

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Photo Credit: Scott Figatner 

Originally published in The GW Hatchet

A fall-themed potluck is always fulfilling. Perhaps, it’s the anticipation of brisk air, amber leaves, cups of tea and pajama pants. Most of all, it’s the beauty of preparing a meal with your friends, eating and drinking until you wonder why your jeans always shrink so erratically. I made pappardelle, thick pasta ribbons, with a rich sauce of butternut squash and sage, topped with dollops of ricotta cheese and candied pecans. Warm and hearty, it’s the perfect dish to fuel yourself during the fall… or at the very least until dessert.

 

Ingredients: 

  • 1 medium-size butternut squash
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 3-4 tablespoons butter
  • Sage leaves, chopped
  • Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
  • Apple juice or water
  • Honey
  • Pappardelle pasta
  • Pecans
  • Sugar
  • Ricotta cheese

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 400°

2. Peel the squash, cut it in half and remove the pulp and seeds with a spoon. Wash and dry the seeds and reserve. Chop the squash into 1-inch pieces. Coat lightly in olive oil, sprinkle with salt and spread evenly on a foil-lined baking sheet. Cook for 20-30 minutes, turning once, or until fork tender.

3. In a blender or food processor, purée the squash with a drizzle of olive oil until smooth. In a pan, sauté the garlic and shallots in butter and add the purée. Add the sage, the parmesan cheese and salt, thinning it out to the desired consistency with either apple juice or water. Add a drizzle of honey until it’s just a tad sweet.

4. Put a liberally-salted pot of water up to boil. Lightly coat the seeds with olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt. Roast until browned and audibly crunchy (cooks excuse to taste one).

5. When the water is boiling, add the pasta and cook for 6-8 minutes or until al dente. Strain and add to the sauce, readjusting sauce consistency.

6. For the candied pecans, simply pan cook them with butter, salt and loads of sugar. They do burn easily. Cool and reserve outside the pan.

7. Top the pasta with the candied pecans, toasted squash seeds, clumps of ricotta cheese and more sage.

 

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Photo credit: Jordan Emont

Taken from The GW Hatchet by Scott Figatner

It’s hardly summer in Spain until people are drinking tinto de verano outside. Tinto de verano is a popular drink where wine is mixed with lemon-lime soda. I wanted to combine the fruity flavor of Sangria, but also the light effervescence of tinto de verano. I made mine with strawberries— inspired by sangria I had in Seville—and also added kiwi, a popular fruit in my home stay. Blood orange soda, instead of lemon-lime, is a great and refreshing way to expand a bottle of wine.

Ingredients:

  • 1 bottle of a red wine you like (I used Evodia Calatayud red wine ’10)
  • 1 package of strawberries
  • 3 kiwis
  • 1 bottle of Lorina sparkling Italian blood orange juice

Directions:

  1. Quarter the strawberries and peel and slice the kiwis.
  2. Marinate the fruit in the red wine, refrigerating for 24-48 hours.
  3. Pour in the blood orange soda and serve with a strawberry or kiwi garnish.

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Ceviche is a popular dish in Central and South America and is gaining popularity in The United States. It is certainly one of my favorite dishes. In a ceviche, cubes of fresh, raw fish are marinated in citrus juice, which denatures the surface proteins as cooking would. I designed my recipe based on my dad’s nostalgic description of the dish he had in Costa Rica. My ceviche has a subtle sweetness from a bit of sugar and a splash of gingerale, which balances the tart lime. Avacados and corn are classic pairings, but I also added juicy  costa rican pineapple, cherry tomatoes, and edamame.

Ingredients:

  • Fresh Marlin and Tilapia, cubed
  • Ripe Avocado, chopped
  • Pineapple, diced
  • Frozen Peas, thawed
  • Cherry Tomatoes, halved
  • Corn (frozen or fresh)
  • Red Onion, diced
  • Canned Chickpeas

Marinade:

  • Lime Juice, be generous
  • Ginger Ale, a splash
  • Fresh Garlic, minced
  • Jalopeño, minced
  • Salt and Pepper, don’t skimp
  • GOYA Cilantro Cooking Base
  • Sugar, a hint

Directions:

  1. Prepare marinade and pour over ingredients in a shallow dish. There needs to be enough liquid to almost cover the fish. Refrigerate covered for about 1 hour, carefully folding every 15 minutes. Serve alone or with tortilla chips.

Tips:

  1. The fresher the fish, the safer and tastier the ceviche.
  2. Be sure to use enough lime juice than you think or you’ll be eating sashimi, not ceviche
  3. Cut your ceviche pieces all the same size.
  4. Ripe avocados should be tender to the touch. Next, break off the stubby stem. If it’s green, it’s fresh.
  5. Slice lengthwise all around the avocado and twist to open. Take a careful wack with the chef’s knife and twist to dislodge the pit.

 

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The hideous organ on my cutting board hardly looked like dinner. However, trimmed, stewed and sliced, tongue can be delicious. In the oven, I stewed the tongue in a pot with canned plum tomatoes, carrots onions, cilantro, thyme, garlic and water. I seasoned the sauce with spices like cumin, chili powder, Spanish paprika, Adobo seasoning and oregano and finished it with brown sugar and a sauce made from tamarind and vinegar from Costa Rica. Finally, I pureed everything to add body. I smothered the tongue in the tangy, brick-colored sauce, piled it over white rice, garnished with diced red onion, chopped tomatoes, roasted corn and cilantro.

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On a hot, summer day a mango salsa is the perfect refreshing snack. The tanginess of the tomatillos makes a good backdrop behind the sweet mangos while the char from the grill adds a welcomed complexity. Honey and lime round out the flavors, while tempering the heat of the jalapeño—which I tend not to go easy on.

Directions:

  • Peel two mangos, remove the pits, chop and mix with diced red onion. Add a generous amount of lime juice. Grill one ear of corn, half a jalapeño and the tomatillos (with the husks on), turning them until they are charred and soft. Remove the husks and stems and pulse in the blender with a drizzle of olive oil, one chopped garlic clove and jalapeño to taste (remove the seeds and membranes for a gentler heat).
  • When it has cooled, mix with the mangos and add salt, more lime and a healthy drizzle of honey. Remove the corn kernels and mix in. Serve with your favorite tortilla chips. My favorite brand is Xochitl totopos de maíz sold in a large paper bag. Chopped scallions make a pretty garnish.

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My parents recently transformed their diets into something much healthier. They reduced the quantity of red meat and started cooking lighter food. We used to bake fatty salmon with mayo, lemon and dill. I used a leaner salmon steak and seared it for as a low-fat preparation. We all know that salmon is healthy because of its protein content and good fats, but did you know that a 4 oz serving of wild salmon provides a full day’s requirement of vitamin D? A honey mustard sauce is high in flavor, yet low in fat. Quinoa is one of the healthiest grains available and I boosted the nutrition with some spinach. I sauteed mushrooms and peas in white wine and marsala wine to add flavor without unnecessary salt or fat. Finally, sweet potatoes are the healthiest item in the produce department, so roasting them alongside seemed like a no-brainer.

Ingredients:

Spinach Quinoa:

  • half a package of quinoa
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine
  • chicken stock (follow quinoa package directions)
  • 1 bag of Spinach
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • salt and fresh black pepper to taste
Mushrooms:
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 white onion, diced
  • 1 cup of frozen peas
  • fresh thyme, de-stemmed
  • Splash of white wine of choice
  • Splash of marsala wine
  • light brown sugar to taste
  • Dash of worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic and onion powder
  • Salt and fresh black pepper to taste
Salmon and sauce:
  • Thick salmon steaks (1 per person)
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 3 tablespoons mustard
  • 1 tablesoon tamari

Directions:

Spinach Quinoa:

Over medium heat, toast quinoa grains in a drizzle of sesame oil for 5 minutes and then add a splash of rice wine. Follow the directions on the package to cook, replacing the water with chicken stock. Sauté spinach in olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. When the quinoa is tender and the moisture is absorbed, add the spinach.

Mushrooms:

Over medium-high heat, sauté the onion in 3 tablespoons of olive oil with two cloves of garlic and salt. Wash and slice the mushrooms and add to the pan. Add fresh thyme leaves and a splash of white and marsala wine. Add some light brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper.

Salmon:

1. Heat a pan on high and sear the salmon steaks with 1 tablespoon of olive oil for about 4 minutes on each side. Both sides should be well browned and peek inside the flesh to determine doneness. The center should be bright pink, yet still flaky. To make the sauce, combine honey and your favorite mustard. I like either Dijon or something grainy. The last component is tamari, which is thicker, richer, more complex and a little less harsh and salty than soy sauce.

2. Plate the salmon steak over the quinoa and mushrooms and drizzle the sauce over the salmon. I served the dish with roasted sweet potatoes, which can be made by rubbing the skins with olive oil, salt and pepper, poking them with a fork, wrapping them in aluminum foil and roasting in a 350° oven until fork tender all the way through.

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In Spanish cuisine, sofrito is used as a base for many dishes and is made of garlic, onion, and tomatoes. I used tomato paste to give my dish the complex flavors of something cooked for a long time. Just a bit of wine, herbs and spanish spices complete a sauce that is flavorful, yet very light and healthy. It is thickened in the Catalan style with toasted bread. Diverging from Spanish cuisine, I served it with butternut squash roasted with maple syrup and brown sugar and sprinkled with sage leaves. Some fresh rice is a must.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 40 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 large Spanish onion, minced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 5 sweet banana peppers, minced
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup of  white wine (I used Pinot Grigio)
  • 1/3 cup “less sodium” beef stock (or chicken)
  • 6 sprigs thyme, de-stemmed and chopped
  • Southern Spain Pinchito Spice to taste
  • About 2 lbs. thin chicken cutlets.

Directions:

1. On low heat, sauté onions in olive oil with salt until translucent. Add sugar, paprika and tomato paste—some nonstick spray on the spoon will help the paste to glide off.

 

2.  Add banana peppers and garlic and simmer for about 20 minutes. Build the sauce with the white wine and beef stock and add the thyme.

 

3. Season with a few pinches of cinnamon. I used a spice mix called Southern Spain Pinchito Spice. This includes salt, cumin, paprika, oregano, coriander, garlic, turmeric, ginger, fenugreek, anise, cayenne and saffron.

 

4. Toast some bread (I toasted a bagel and removed the insides) and grind finely in a food processor. Add a few tablespoons to the sauce and expand it by adding some water until the consistency is just right.

 

5. Coat chicken cutlets in olive oil and rub with a light coating of salt, pepper, paprika and pinchito. Grill or sauté until cooked through (about 2 minutes on each side) and warm together with the sauce.

 

Butternut Squash: In a 400° oven on a foiled sheet pan, roast 1 inch. cubes of butternut squash on a sheet pan with olive oil, salt and pepper  for 15 minutes. Flip, drizzle with maple syrup, sprinkle with brown sugar and top with dabs of butter. Finish roasting for another 15 to 20 minutes or until tender through.

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Photo by Jordan Emont

You don’t need a stove to make a delicious seafood dinner. By marinating diced tilapia and shrimp in an acidic mixture, the seafood flesh actually cooks. Well, it’s not cooking per se, but the denaturing of the proteins mimics the process. With fresh ingredients, the South American dish is perfectly safe. In fact, my Peruvian ceviche is both low in calories and high in vitamins and protein. The seafood has a tender, yet resilient texture, which, along with ripe diced avocado, tomatoes, and red onion, soaks up the flavor of the marinade, tangy with lime juice and slightly sweet from fresh coconut water. Served in a coconut bowl, the only other perfect accompaniment would be Peru’s national cocktail.

Sneak Peek: Check the blog next week for my take on the Pisco Sour.

Ingredients: (serves 2)

  • 1 coconut/ ¼ cup coconut water
  • 1 tilapia filet, diced
  • ¼ pound peeled rock shrimp meat, diced
  • ¾ cup lime juice
  • 1/8 habañero pepper, finely minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 tablespoons small-diced tomato
  • 3 tablespoons small-diced diced red onion
  • Salt and pepper
  • Cilantro, chopped
  • ½ avocado, diced

Important: Because the ceviche marinade will only kill surface bacteria, the tilapia and shrimp must be extremely fresh. It is best to prepare the ceviche on the day of purchase.

Directions:

 1. To make the coconut bowl, use a screwdriver to make a whole in the base, drain the water and reserve.

2. Place the coconut on a towel in your palm. Use the blunt side of the knife to whack it forcefully where a natural line is visible—be sure to wear protective eye gear. Once a crack forms, continue to pound it until the crack spans its entirety. Pull it apart and fix jagged edges.

3. Generously salt the equally sized tilapia and shrimp cubes and mix with ¼ cup of the coconut water, the lime juice (with habañero and garlic added), the tomatoes and the red onion. Make sure everything is submerged in the marinade. Refrigerate for 40 minutes, mixing at least once.

4. Generously salt to taste and add chopped cilantro, and avocado. Add fresh ground black pepper. Scoop into the coconut bowl, draining the ceviche of excess marinade. Serve immediately as it will continue to “cook”.

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Ingredients:

  • chopped chicken breast
  • celery, peeled and diced
  • red onion, diced
  • mayonnaise
  • dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • garlic powder
  • turmeric
  • fresh black pepper
  • paprika
  • cilantro, chopped
  • lettuce
  • tomato
  • poppyseed challah
1. Chop chicken breast and mixed with the celery and red onion. Make the dressing separately by mixing mayonnaise, a bit of dijon mustard, olive oil, garlic powder, turmeric,  fresh black pepper, and paprika. Mix in chopped cilantro.
2. Combine the dressing with the chicken and sandwich between challah with lettuce and tomato.

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This is my version of a Navratan Korma, which is an Indian curry dish. Navratan means nine gems and this usually refers to the vegetables, fruits, or nuts in the curry. I cut down on the fat—which is why the color is a pale orange instead of a bright yellow—, but not the the flavor and depth of this vegetarian dish.

 

Ingredients:

  • very fresh tomatoes (enough to fill a whole sheet pan when cut)
  • olive oil or wegmans basting oil
  • 1/2 a head of cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • 3/4 of a 16  oz. can 0f coconut milk
  • 4-5 tablespoons plain, greek yogurt
  • 1 zucchini, cut into cubes
  • 1 squash, cut into cubes
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • salt, pepper, turmeric
  • a handful carrots, chopped
  • broccoli (similar amount)
  • ground coriander (few pinches)
  • garam masala (few pinches)
  • red curry powder (few pinches) It’s spicy
  • a handful of whole, unsalted cashews
  • 3 small waxy potatoes
  • 1/2 cup cream or milk (whatever fat content you like)
  • 1 cup of peas
1. Cut the tomatoes (large-bite size) and scatter, filling an entire foiled sheet pan. Roast them on 400º for about 30 minutes with olive oil and seasonings (I used a Wegmans basting oil blend). In a blender or food processor, purée.
2. Roast the cauliflower in the same manner, but only for about 15 minutes.
3. Cook the tomato sauce in a pot with the coconut milk. Add the greek yogurt and stir until homogenous.
4. Sauté the zucchini and squash in olive oil with salt, pepper, minced garlic, and two pinches of turmeric and par-cook the broccoli  and carrots however you choose. I parboiled the carrots until just cooked through and used frozen broccoli. Add all these vegetables to the pot.
5. Add the spices to the curry: turmeric, ground coriander, garam masala, and red curry powder. Salt and continue to season to taste. Add the cashews. Microwave the potatoes until fork tender and cut into bite-size pieces, adding them to the curry.
6. Add the cream or milk . You can adjust richness by adding more coconut milk, cream, or yogurt. Although I didn’t, butter would be a good addition since most recipes call for ghee. When the consistency is perfect, cover the pot, If it reduces too much, add a bit of water.
7. Add half of the peas. Serve over basmati rice (add the remaining peas to this). Garnish with fresh cilantro.

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Picture by Ashley

This was a nicely composed dish. The mint and basil flavored the lamb without overpowering that great lambyness. A ripe pomegranate inspired me to make this pomegranate molasses that actually includes molasses, which gives it a balanced sweetness. I turned seemingly hopeless bok choy—frozen to the point of shaterring— into a colorful, rustic veggie braise. 

Lamb:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400º. Remove any tough fat from the lamb. In a food processor, grind lots of fresh mint, basil, and cilantro. Use any herbs you have. Add about 3 tablespoons of dijon mustard, a bit of olive oil, salt,  lime juice, and 6 cloves of minced garlic (I used a garlic press). Wash the lamb and pat dry.
  2. Season with plenty of salt and pepper and massage the meat. Slather on the herb-dijon mixture to both sides.
  3. Cook for about 1 hour, lower the heat to 350º and cook for about 30 minutes. Insert a thermometer, when it reads 150º, allow it to rest, cut, and serve (for medium). I cooked mine a bit more for some guests who prefer done meat. I think lamb is delicious at all temperatures.

Pomegranate Molasses:

  1. Cut a pomegranate in half and whack with a wooden spoon so that the seeds fall into a bowl. Then, squeeze out the juice. Blend the pomegranate in a food processor or a blender and pass through a sieve to get rid of the bits of seed. This maximizes the amount of juice you get.
  2. Heat in a sauce pan with a few tablespoons of molasses, a splash of red wine or Rosé (I used White Zinfandel), about 5 tablespoons of sugar, and a bit of lemon juice. Simmer until you have a thick sauce and cool to room temperature.
Braised Baby Bok Choy:
  1. Steam the bok choy. When it’s bright and tender, chop it into small pieces. Sauté half of a diced white onion in a pot with olive oil and salt. When they are soft, add the bok choy. Add some corn, diced tomatoes, plenty of chopped basil, a bit of soy sauce, onion powder, a splash of white wine, and some drippings from the lamb. Simmer and cook for a few minutes. Season to taste.
Plate assemblage:
  • Drizzle on the pomegranate molasses, pile on some bok choy mix, and fan out the lamb. Drizzle some lamb juice on top and garnish with the pomegranate seeds.

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The hanger steak, also known as the hanging tenderloin, is an underutilized cut. It is prized among butchers and is usually the cut they save for themselves. Although it takes quite a bit of butchery work, the steaks are almost as tender as filet mignon, but with much more flavor. Mine is marinated for hours in herbs, garlic, dijon, and citrus and soaks in the flavor to its pink, succulent core. A squeeze of lime—grilled to bring out the sweetness—is the perfect finishing touch.

Ingredients:

  • rosemary
  • thyme
  • garlic
  • cilantro
  • parsley
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • dijon mustard (2-3 tbsp)
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 lime (plus some for grilling)
1. Trim the hanger steak, separating both strips from the tough tendon in between. Clean thoroughly by removing fat, tendons, and silver skin.
2. De-stem a few sprigs of rosemary and roughly chop. Grind a few cloves of garlic in a food processor with the rosemary and some thyme leaves. Grind with olive oil and plenty of salt. Add cilantro leaves—some stem is okay—and parsley and continue to grind with fresh pepper, dijon mustard, and a squeeze of lemon and lime juice. Add olive oil if necessary to create a smooth and pasty marinade.
3. Allow to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 5 hours and then bring them up to room temperature. Heat the grill to medium and oil it. Grill for 2.5 minutes (lid closed) and rotate 45° for another 2.5 to make cross-hatches. Repeat on the other side.

4. Allow the meat to rest for 5 minutes and cut into medallions against the grain. The meat is tender enough for thick pieces. This recipe will make a medium-rare steak, although it will vary in different sections of the organically shaped meat. For medium, try 6 minutes on each side. For well-done, try a microwave. Serve with grilled limes.

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I literally made this salad because there was no room in the refrigerator for the cucumbers, but it turned out lovely. The cucumbers stay crisp, cool and refreshing while the dressing is light and complex. 

Ingredients:

  • 2 cucumbers
  • 1/2 red onion
  • fresh mint
  • fresh cilantro
  • fresh basil
  • ginger paste
  • wasabi paste
  • rice wine vinegar (Mirin)
  • honey
  • sesame oil
  • olive oil
  • salt

1. Peel the cucumbers and cut in half longways. With a spoon, remove all the seeds and pulp with a gentle scraping motion. Flip over  (cavity side down) and cut strips—about 1/4″—on a bias. For the onion, slice in half and remove the skin. Take one half, place cut-side down on the board, and cut off the very top and root end. Angling the cut will make it easier to dislodge the core which is the next step. Make thin semicircle slices and add to the cucumber.

2. De-stem cilantro and mint leaves and roll inside a basil leaf. Make a chiffonade cut (very thin ribbons) and add to the veggies. Hint: slicing with a backwards motion is the most effective way to cleanly cut herbs.

3. For the dressing, whisk ginger paste and a little wasabi paste with rice wine vinegar, honey, sesame oil (only a little is needed), olive oil and salt. The dressing is perfect when every ingredient’s flavor is pronounced. Keep in mind that the cucumbers will only get a thin coating of the dressing, so make it more pungent than fits your taste. If you like it sweet, add more honey. If you like heat, add more wasabi, etc.

4. Mix the dressing with the cucumbers and onions and marinate for a short time in the refrigerator (10-15 minutes). Before serving, break off fennel fronds and mix in for garnish.

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There are many ways to make roasted chicken and, because of its simplicity, it makes a difference which one you choose. My roasted chicken has a skin that cracks under your teeth and a juicy interior swells with herby flavors, yet still tastes like unadulterated chicken. I’m noshing on it right out of the fridge. This recipe also features Jordan’s Million Dollar Potato Dollars, the name of which, grossly discounts them.

Ingredients:

  • Whole chicken
  • Thyme
  • Rosemary
  • Losher salt
  • 1 lemon
  • Sage
  • 1 stick of butter
  • Garlic cloves
  • Black pepper
  • Red Potatoes (you can also use yukon gold)
  • Thermometer, tin foil, non-stick cooking spray

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Pull the giblets out of the chicken and pat the whole thing dry with paper towels. With half the thyme sprigs, pull the leaves off the stem and roughly chop. Do the same with half the rosemary sprigs.

1. Sprinkle kosher salt inside the chicken’s cavity. Stuff in half a lemon and a few sprigs of rosemary and thyme. Put most of the sage in whole. With Butcher’s twine, wrap the legs so that the bones are touching. Cross around the back  and tie the wings in nice and tight. There is no set formula like origami.
2. Take room-temperature butter and warm it in a pan while mixing in the chopped herbs, a few cloves of minced garlic, and the rest of the lemon juice. Sprinkle kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper on the entire bird—don’t miss any nook or cranny. Drizzle half the herb butter on the bird and rub it in gently.
3. Thinly slice the potatoes (about 1/8 in.). Chop the extra sage and add it to the remaining butter and coat the potatoes in a mixing bowl with salt and pepper. We put some lemon zest in too. Might as well.
4. In a large pyrex casserole, roast the bird for about one hour and 10 minutes, until the internal temperature in the center of the thickest part of the breast reaches 160 degrees (while you are checking temperatures periodically, use a spoon to baste the chicken with its own juices). I also put chopped carrots in as well. Your thermometer should not read a lower number on any part of the chicken.
5. Cover a sheet pan with foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Cook the potatoes for 25-30 minutes, flipping halfway through.
6. Remove the chicken from the oven and allow it to rest so the juices redistribute. The internal temperature will rise to 165 degrees. If your chicken is the desired brown color before it’s done and you have time, turn down the temperature and allow it to cook low and slow on 350 degrees.

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Photo by Karen Knauff

I like to think outside the box when it comes to food; this dish has Thai and Indian elements. One might not expect flavors from across the Bay of Bengal to marry well, but seared salmon rubbed with garam masala was delicious when paired with jasmine rice cooked in coconut milk with mangos, cilantro, and peas. I finished the dish finished with a rich curry-coconut sauce.

Ingredients:

  • Box of jasmine rice (white rice will work)
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • salt
  • ¼ cup of chopped dried mangos or fresh
  • 1 lemon
  • Cilantro
  • Frozen peas
  • 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • Pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of curry powder
  • Cinnamon
  • Salmon filets (Follow Trader Joe’s thawing directions)
  • Garam masala (my version had coriander, chilies, cinnamon, cardamom, cumin, and cloves—The five Cs)
  • Cooking oil

Pour the contents of a box of rice into a medium saucepan. My jasmine rice called for two cups of water, so I used a cup of coconut milk, a cup of water, and a pinch of salt. Follow the cooking direction and start rehydrating the dried mangos in a pan with a ½ cup of water, over medium heat. Remove from the heat when they are soft. This is not necessary if you have fresh mangos.

When the rice is finished, add the juice of half a lemon, mangos, chopped cilantro, thawed peas, and salt to taste.

For the sauce, sweat the minced shallots and garlic in butter with salt and pepper. When they are fragrant and soft, add the remaining coconut milk. Finish with curry powder, lemon juice, and cinnamon. I chose to strain out the garlic and shallots for a cleaner looking sauce. Reheat when the salmon is finished.

For the salmon, salt and pepper the flesh and massage with plenty of garam masala. Get a nonstick pan very hot and pour on a thin layer of canola or olive oil. Sear the filets skin-side down first. Also, start the thick piece first and watch the side until almost all the flesh has lightened in color. Flip and cook the spiced side for a minute, being careful not to burn the spices.

When the fish is firm and flaky, serve immediately over a mound of coconut rice and spoon over the coconut curry sauce. Garnish with cilantro leaves and serve right away.

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With this dish, authenticity was on the back-burner, but taste and creativity was on full heat. My no-curry curry features the flavors of indian spices and techniques, while a few twists, like coconut milk and lemongrass, give a subtle element of thai cuisine. Served with basmati rise, the dish is indian food without the fat cholesterol and you can control the spice. Best of all, it’s as easy as 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9… Okay, it may not be as simple as shake-n-bake, but the results are well worth it.

Ingredients: (Spices should be used to taste)

  • Basmati rice
  • Can of Coconut milk
  • 2 lemongrass stalks
  • 4-5 thick ginger slices
  • Olive oil
  • 1 large white/yellow onion
  • Salt, pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Coriander
  • 2 teaspoons Garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon Turmeric
  • About 10 mini peppers (red, yellow, orange)
  • 1.5 teaspoons of tomato paste
  • 3 fresh bay leaves
  • 5-7 garlic cloves
  • A small bag of snow peas
  • 1/2 bag of pre-cooked lentils
  • 3 whole chicken breasts (about 3 pounds) cut into bite-size pieces.
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon or 1 stick early on
  • cumin seeds
  • frozen peas
  • fresh parsley

Follow the directions to start cooking basmati rice. It takes about 20 minutes. I’m keeping this simple since it will be under the sauce.

Start heating a can of coconut milk in a small sauce pan with the lemongrass and ginger. Keep it at a calm boil until the flavors merry.

In a large pot, sauté the onion with salt and pepper, coriander, garam masala, and turmeric. After the onions have a head-start, add the peppers. Stir in the tomato paste, and the bay leaves. Press or mince the garlic, and make a paste by smearing the garlic against the cutting board with your knife, salt, and olive oil. Add the snow peas.

Hold a strainer over the pot and pour the coconut milk through it (the coconut milk will join the party and lemongrass will have to leave. Ginger’s pon the list, so pick that out and add it back to the pot. Add half the lentils.

Quickly sauté the chicken in olive oil, salt, and pepper (it may take multiple batches) until it is opaque and pour into the pot. You may also cook it completely in the sauce which will take longer, but could turn out very well. Add the cinnamon. If you want, add a little yogurt at the end for some healthy richness.

Fluff the rice with cumin seeds—toasting in a pan until fragrant is a nice touch. Microwave some frozen peas and fold in for great color. To serve, build a mound of rice, ladle the sauce over, and garnish with chopped parsley leaves. Serve with some naan.

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My below-par photography skills will no longer be featured on this blog. Since Jordan Emont is not with me this week, you’ll have to imagine the appearance. Even though a picture says a thousand words, this dish will leave you speechless. The bechamel allows my sauce to be thick and rich without being heavy and fattening. Subtly sweet Marsala wine offsets lemony thyme which is a perfect counterpoint to the woodsy flavor of mushrooms. I loaded the dish with spinach and onions and roasted grapes give a surprise of texture and sweetness.

Ingredients:

  • Onions
  • Olive oil
  • Garlic cloves
  • Salt, pepper
  • Mushrooms (I used brown baby bella)
  • Thyme
  • Rosemary
  • Marsala wine/Beef broth opt.
  • Spinach/Arugula
  • Milk (I used 2%)
  • Butter (I used unsalted)
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Red grapes
  • Pecans
  • Lemons
  • Fresh parsley
  • Penne pasta

Sauté onions in a large pan with olive oil, adding garlic after a few minutes. Salting is important here or your onions will stubbornly resist softening. Add the mushrooms when the onions are translucent. Be generous with thyme leaves and chopped rosemary. Salt and pepper here as well.

Add Marsala wine—the real stuff, not the sweetened kind with barely any alcohol. Beef broth wouldn’t hurt too although I didn’t use it. You can choose to make this dish with spinach or arugula. Spinach should be added here, but arugula should be added  à la minute.

Bechamel: In a sauce pot, heat milk until it starts to boil. In a sauté pan, melt about a half stick of butter and whisk in plenty of butter. Whisk until you have a slightly brown color (this will add an extra dimension of nutty flavor). Slowly whisk in the scalding milk, while keeping the heat up. Just troubleshoot until you reach a very thick sauce. I added a handful of parmesan cheese and a splash of heavy cream. Hey, we’re being much healthier with the milk-based sauce. Keep in mind that it will thin out when mixed with the marsala, which is the next step.

Roast some halved red grapes in a hot oven with some pecans or walnuts. The nuts are done when they are fragrant and crisp. The grapes should still have they’re texture. Add lemon juice and chopped parsley.

Mix with penne pasta or whatever you prefer.

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I normally write a blurb here about the dish, but this would only be redundant. The picture says it all.

Red Quinoa

  • 8 oz. box of quinoa
  • 1 ¼ cups of water
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 orange
  • 1  lime
  • 2 teaspoons of soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of grated ginger
  • A drizzle of agave nectar
  • Salt, pepper, and chopped cilantro leaves
  • Sunflower seeds

Follow the directions on the box to cook the quinoa. In a bowl, whisk together the garlic, orange juice, orange zest, lime juice, soy sauce, grated ginger, agave nectar, salt, pepper and cilantro. Toast sunflower seeds until fragrant and incorporate them. Allow the flavors to marry in the refrigerator for a few hours (it only improves with time). gently warm in a covered pot before serving.

Cod

  • 2 cod filets
  • 1 container of crab meat
  • mayonnaise (béchamel optional)
  • sherry (optional)
  • Worcestershire
  • Hot sauce
  • Paprika

In a hot non-stick pan, sear the cod in olive oil with salt and pepper until browned on both sides.  I topped mine with a mixture of crab, béchamel, mayo, sherry, Worcestershire and hot sauce. Dust with paprika and bake in the oven. You know it’s done when the fish is completely opaque and white.

You can make this dish without béchamel or sherry, but here’s the recipe for béchamel. It’s a very simple sauce.


Bechamel recipe: (From Epicurious)

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 1/4 cups scalding milk
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground pepper

Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until the paste cooks and bubbles a bit, but don’t let it brown — about 2 minutes. Add the hot milk, continuing to stir as the sauce thickens. Bring it to a boil. Add salt and pepper to taste, lower the heat, and cook, stirring for 2 to 3 minutes more. Remove from the heat. To cool this sauce for later use, cover it with wax paper or pour a film of milk over it to prevent a skin from forming.

Try adding cheese and mixing with pasta or whole grain mustard as a sauce for meats.

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I love a good Insalata Caprese; succulent mozzarella, vibrant tomatoes and fresh basil with a drizzle of fruity olive oil. However, tomatoes this time of year certainly aren’t from Jersey—unless they’re Newark’s finest. Plus, floods inundated basil fields all over the country, and I don’t want my basil grown in a test tube. Therefore, I replaced mozzarella with goat cheese, tomatoes with marinated beets, and basil with sage, to make a crostini that screams Caprese without compromising flavor.


Ingredients (Makes approximately hors d’oeuvres)

I finally found a measurement style that GW students can relate to

  • 2 shots of olive oil
  • 1 shot of balsamic vinegar
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Agave nectar to taste
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • Salt and pepper
  • French Baguette
  • Long stick of goat cheese
  • Fresh Sage

Scott’s Steps:

In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lime juice, agave nectar, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Slice the beets and allow them to marinate for at least 1 hour.

Slice a French baguette into thin, 1/8 in. slices. Arrange on a foiled sheet pan in an even layer and brush/drizzle on olive oil. Lightly sprinkle with salt and bake at 325° until they are crunchy.

To assemble, slice thick slabs of goat cheese and place on each crostini, resting one beet slice on top with a sage-leaf garnish.

The goat cheese has an unparalleled, rich creaminess and a tang that is complemented by the sweetness of the marinated beets. The lime and balsamic brighten the mellow flavor of the beets while the cinnamon adds a subtle complexity. Finally, the sage leaf provides and earthy aroma and an amazing sweet-savory flavor that ties everything together.

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