Thursday, December 27, 2012

Healthy Smashed & Roasted Potatoes (Fully Loaded!)

Smashed Crispy Potatoes with Roasted Broccoli, Mushrooms & Creme Fraiche

If you know me well, then you know I have a thing for mushrooms.  

Ever since I was a little girl, my mom used to yell at me in the kitchen and swat my hand when I reached into her mixing bowls to pick out the mushrooms when she wasn't looking, even before the dish was cooked.
And now, as a grown woman, my love for mushrooms has lead to even bigger problems: 
an expensive love for truffles, truffle oils and exotic mushrooms galore. 

This side dish recipe incorporates two of my obsessions combined: mushrooms & potatoes.
But the roasted broccoli takes it to an even higher level.
Add in a dash of Creme Fraiche and a sprinkle of grated Parmesan 
and it becomes absolute heaven! 

**Caution** The key is portion control here.  
Any leftovers can be dangerous.  They won't last long.

     Step 1: Preheat an oven to 450 degrees.

 I mixed freshly sliced Baby Bella mushrooms with stems (nothing exotic here) and chopped broccoli florets in bite size pieces (not too large).

     Step 2:
  For the potatoes I used round gold Yukon potatoes in sizes that fit in the palm of your hand and aren't too large.
Place potatoes in a large pot with enough cold water to cover, adding salt and bring to a boil.  Boil potatoes until softened and fork tender.   Drain.

Step 2:  Smash & Roast

Line a baking sheet with tin foil & very lightly brush with olive oil.
Place the seasoned mushroom & broccoli mixture to one side of the baking sheet, 
leaving plenty of room for the smashed potatoes.

 Place the boiled potatoes on the baking sheet, spaced apart with plenty of room. 

 With a potato masher, mash the top of the potato very gently, only  pressing about 1/3rd of the way down.

Now turn the masher 90 degrees and continue to mash another 1/2 of the way down.
Now the potato should be smashed and spread but still in 1 piece (similar to a cookie).

Generously brush the tops with olive oil.

 Sprinkle the potatoes with kosher salt and ground black pepper.

Roast all ingredients at 450 degrees until browning and crispy. 
The mushrooms & broccoli occasionally roast faster than the potatoes, so watch carefully and remove them prior to the potatoes if needed.

The potatoes are done when the peaks are nice and golden brown throughout. 

 Load the tops of the potatoes with roasted mushrooms & broccoli, a spoonful of Creme Fraiche (I prefer...or swap for low fat sour cream if desired) and add a sprinkle of grated Parmesan.

Healthy Smashed & Roasted Potatoes (Fully Loaded!)
Recipe serves 4-6.

-1/2 head of broccoli florets (stems cut), chopped into bite size pieces

-1 cup sliced mushrooms, sliced with stems intact  (button, Baby Bella, crimini, or white mushrooms)
-1 pound gold round Yukon potatoes, washed with skins intact (each size should fit in the palm of your hand)
-Extra Virgin Olive Oil or Grapeseed Oil
-Kosher Salt & fresh ground Black Pepper to taste
-1/4 cup grated Parmesan
-1/4 cup Creme Fraiche (or reduced fat sour cream) 

Preparation & Cooking instructions: 
1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, combine the sliced mushooms, chopped broccoli florets, olive oil, salt and pepper.
3. In a large pot, cover the potatoes with cold water and bring to a boil, add salt to taste.  Boil uncovered for 10-15 minutes, or until fork tender.  Drain.
4. Line a baking sheet with tin foil and lightly coat the foil with olive oil, using a basting or pastry brush.
5. Place the seasoned mushroom & broccoli mixture to one side of the baking sheet, leaving plenty of room for the smashed potatoes.
6.  Place each potato on the baking sheet, leaving plenty of room in between each potato.
7. With a potato masher, mash the top of the potato about 1/3rd of the way day.  Rotate the masher 90 degrees and continue to small gently another 1/2 of the way down.  Potatoes should be smashed but still intact (similar to a cookie).
8.  Generously brush the tops of the potatoes with olive oil and sprinkle with salt & pepper to taste.
9. Roast all ingredients in a 450 degree oven for approximately 12-16 minutes or until edges are roasted and browning.  If mushrooms & broccoli are roasted quicker then potatoes, remove, cooking potatoes longer until browning and crispy.
10. Remove from oven.  Top potatoes with mushrooms & broccoli and a spoonful of Creme Fraiche (or sour cream).
11. Garnish with grated Parmigiano and serve immediately.
Enjoy! xoxo,

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Stuffed Eggplant Involtini

Eggplant Involtini with Sinfully Homemade Tomato Marinara

As a food writer, I have a few confessions to make (cringe).
I have been very sinful lately.
First holy sin being that I let my blog go and I let life get in the way.
And when I say life, I mean work.  Sometimes life = work and in my case lately, 
work = life.  The price I pay for being a Fashion Designer.  
So my blog got neglected for the very first time.  And I sincerely apologize whole-heartedly to all my loyal Foodie fans who have been severely impacted by my hiatus and are in desperate need of food inspiration. 
I owe you guys one BIG!
 And the second holy sin being that I just created one of the most incredible, sinful dishes I have ever mastered and I am quite proud of my accomplishment.
Therefore, I must share!
Tonight I made my first Italian Involtini.  These are heavenly little roll-ups that go perfectly with a tomato based sauce.
I looked up quite a few Involtini recipes and noticed that the traditional ones were quite complex and very fussy, but I didn't shy away.  Instead I created my own modified version that is more simple, involves less steps and is just equally delicious.
As many of you know, I live for the experience of delicious fillings just oozing out of savory pastas, dumplings and anything that is 'stuffable' literally. 
And this Involtini I created is just the perfect combination of flavors and textures:
 Eggplant with lemon-thyme ricotta filling stuffed inside, rolled-up into shells and baked in a very savory (and surprisingly quite sinful, yikes!) fresh Tomato Marinara that will have you hooked.   Consider this the perfect dish before the new year resolution diet kicks in.

I started by broiling the Eggplant (1/4" thin lengthwise slices) lightly in oil until beginning to brown.  

I then get the sauce going since it needs to cook at a simmer for 45 minutes or so.  Typically I would pair with my very own Tomato Sauce recipe which is my go-to, light and easy Marinara with basil and garlic.  But this time I kicked it up 1000 notches when I adapted this amazingly sinful and simple Tomato Sauce with Butter & Onion created by Marcella Hazan on Food52 blog.

Fresh Heirloom Tomatoes, Butter!! & Onion

Marcella Hazan uses ripe heirloom tomatoes straight off the vine and simmers them together with butter (5 tablespoons! I used 3..), and one whole onion, halved (for perfect flavoring).

The easiest and best way to prepare the tomatoes for the sauce is by par-boiling them and then blanching.  Par-boiling is done by bringing a large pot of water to a boil, adding the whole tomatoes (with skin on), shutting off the heat and leaving them to sit for a few minutes until the skins are starting to peel.
Then you drain, blanch in cold water for a minute or two and then remove all the skins. Fast and easy way of prepping them for the sauce!

Marcella Hazan's Tomato Sauce with Butter & Onion

 And while the sinful sauce is simmering....
Now onto the ricotta filling! 

I use whole-milk ricotta, lemon zest and lemon juice, chopped Thyme and Panko bread crumbs. 

**In an upcoming post I plan to feature the easiest technique ever 
to making homemade Ricotta 
in only 25 minutes flat and flawless everytime!

Place a heaping spoonful of the filling at each end (wider side) of Eggplant and roll up like you would a manicotti, creating little shells.

In a baking dish or cast-iron pan, place a small layer of sauce on the bottom.
Place the rolled eggplant Involtini in the dish, seam-side down.  
Add additional tomato sauce around the Involtini and drizzle the tops of the eggplant rolls with  a small amount of heavy cream.  Bake at 425 degrees for 30 minutes until sauce is bubbling and browning along the edges.

**Side note: For my dish, I used smaller sized Italian Eggplants which are half the size of regular Eggplant (*attempted* portion control on my part!).  However, you may use larger size eggplants for a more hearty dish and better presentation.

Sinful Eggplant Ricotta Involtini & Homemade Tomato Sauce
Recipe serves 2.


-1 large eggplant or 2 small Italian eggplants
-kosher salt
-grapeseed, canola or olive oil for broiling
-Tomato Sauce, I ABSOLUTELY LOVE this recipe (it is sinful however but well worth it!! I used about 3 tablespoons of butter, recipe called for 5! Reason why it tasted so good I'm assuming)... or you can use your own or a favorite store-bought sauce as well.
-Heavy cream
-Freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
-Panko bread crumbs, about 1/2 cup
-1 cup whole milk ricotta
-grated zest of 1 lemon
-juice of 1/2 lemon
-2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves, minced
1/4 tsp. kosher salt    

Preparation & Cooking instructions: 
1. Trim the stem end of each eggplant.  Thinly slice lengthwise (about 1/4 inch thick slices) the eggplant into about 10-12 slices (or 5-7 slices if using Italian eggplant).  Blot the eggplant slices dry with paper towels, pressing out any moisture or liquid.
2.  Line a baking sheet with tin foil, coat eggplant slices with small amount of oil and place on baking sheet, broiling for 6-8 minutes until golden brown and partially cooked.
3. Meanwhile make the tomato sauce and then the stuffing.
4.  For the stuffing, mix in a bowl the ricotta, bread crumbs, lemon zest, lemon juice, thyme and salt.
5. Remove eggplants from oven when done.  Reduce heat to 425 degrees.
6. Once sauce is cooked, spoon a thin layer of sauce covering the bottom of a baking dish.
6. Spoon a heaping spoonful of filling at one end of each eggplant slice (place at wider end).  Roll the slice around the filing and place it  seam-side down into the baking dish.
Add the remaining sauce to around the Stuffed eggplants but do not cover completely.  
7. Drizzle each top side of eggplant with a small amount of heavy cream to moisten.
8. Bake until the edges of the sauce around the sides of the dish are darkened and the Involtini is nicely caramelized, about 25-30 minutes.  
9. Garnish with Parmigiano before serving.
Enjoy! xoxo,

Sunday, December 2, 2012

In a New York Summer State of Mind

Gingered Salmon with Grilled Corn and Watercress Salad.  Recipe courtesy of Quinn Hatfield of Food & Wine.
Now that Winter has officially arrived in New York and clearly here to stay, I am beginning to miss my favorite season desperately more and more each day.

Summer in New York is my prime time.
I spend half the year anxiously awaiting the other half of it to arrive.
Summer means cocktails outside on the patio, relaxing with friends and my pup while watching the sunset and enjoying the peaceful side to urban NYC living at it's best.
  But there is always one thing I crave the most and that is grilling!

My Housewarming Barbeque.  The start of it all.  NYC, May 2011

There is nothing quite as exciting to me as lighting up a charcoal grill for the first barbeque of the Summer season.  

Just the mere scent of the charcoals heating up and the sound of delicious food sizzling is enough to send my mind into a frenzy of awesome Summer memories.

Blanca in rare form on the terrace...Cabana Style
Me in my element...and the start of an addiction
Sunset and the City 
On a typical night, you can't even hear a sound.  A peaceful NYC.
Dinner with a View
 And when I am craving the awesome flavors of Summer all over again, I make this simple dish that is my go-to Summer staple.  
Always a "wow-your-guests" kind of dish and easy to make sans-grill.
The ingredients are all perfectly paired with one another and will have you (and your guests) begging for 2nd's!

**And if you haven't already tried making or ever purchased a good bottle of Balsamic Reduction, this recipe will have you hooked for life!

So in lieu of Summer....
Gingered Salmon with Grilled Corn & Watercress Salad
Recipe courtesy of Quinn Hatfield of Food & Wine.
Servings: 4.    Total Prep & Cooking time: 40 min.

Chef Quinn Hatfield stuffs pickled ginger into slits in the salmon to infuse it with flavor. To keep the sliced fish intact and the ginger in place, he cleverly skewers the fillets before cooking.

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar for the Balsamic Glaze (or pre-made bottle of)
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons canola oil 
5 small ears of corn, shucked 
Four 6-ounce skin-on salmon fillets 
20 small slices of pickled ginger (about 1 ounce) 
Salt and freshly ground pepper 
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard 
1/2 teaspoon honey 
1 bunch of watercress, thick stems discarded (about 8 ounces) 

Preparation & Cooking instructions:  
1.  Heat grill or turn the oven on Broil. In a small saucepan, boil 1/2 cup of the balsamic vinegar until reduced to 3 tablespoons, about 5 minutes. Let the reduction cool until thickening, then stir in 1 tablespoon of the canola oil. 
2.  Brush the corn lightly with canola oil. Grill or broil the corn over high heat, turning, until nicely charred all over, about 5 minutes. Let cool. Using a serrated knife, cut the kernels from the cobs. 
3.  Arrange the salmon fillets skin side down on a work surface. Using the tip of a sharp knife, make five 1/2-inch-deep slits crosswise in the flesh of each fillet (making sure not to cut through the fish entirely). Stuff 1 -2 small slices of ginger into each slit, then thread each fillet lengthwise with a short skewer. 
4.  Season the salmon fillets with 1 tablespoon canola oil, salt and pepper and add the fillets to the grill or broiling pan (use non-stick cooking spray); place filets skin side down. Cook over moderately high heat until the skin is lightly golden, about 3 minutes Turning salmon over and continue grilling/broiling (approx 3 minutes) until the skin is very crisp and the fish is just cooked through.
5.  In a large bowl, whisk the remaining 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar with the mustard and the honey. Gradually whisk the remaining 1/4 cup of canola oil into the dressing. Add the grilled corn kernels and watercress to the bowl and toss to coat. Transfer the salad to plates and top with the skewered salmon. Drizzle the fish and salad with the balsamic vinegar reduction and serve right away.
Notes: To make a larger batch of the reduction, start with at least one cup of vinegar and boil until syrupy and reduced by more than half. Refrigerate without the oil for up to 2 weeks. Drizzle the balsamic reduction over grilled vegetables or fresh fruit, or add to sparkling water.

***And here is my original recipe I love to make in the Winter months, using the Gingered Salmon from Quinn Hatfields recipe along with some of my favorite ingredients: 

Gingered Salmon with Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Sauted Baby Bok Choy

Enjoy! xoxo,