I love food, wine, and the occasional adult liquid refresher. Here are some some recipes I highly recommend.
1 English muffin
Toast English muffin. Spread each half with mayo. Add lettuce, ham, and cheese, then loosely wrap in aluminum foil. Put in toaster oven on medium low heat. Check every few minutes - when ham is warm and the cheese is melted, it is done. A delicious alternative to the traditional egg sandwich. Make yourself two of them and serve with a side of good macaroni salad or cole slaw from the deli and you have dinner.
2 1/2 lbs. cleaned calamari*
Steam calamari whole and let cool. In a large bowl, combine celery, red bell pepper, and olives. Cut the white part of
the calamari into small rings. Cut the tentacles in half or leave whole if small enough. Add cut calamari to bowl and add just enough dressing to coat. Transfer to two quart size
Chinese takeout soup containers and chill for at least six hours or overnight. The longer this sits in the fridge, the better it tastes. Makes just under two quarts.
*Make sure to get the smallest calamari possible. The large ones tend to be very tough and rubbery.
8 hardboiled eggs
Immediately put hardboiled eggs in ice water after removing from heat (this prevents that nasty green ring around the yolk). Peel eggs and put in large mixing bowl. With a fork, mash the eggs until all pieces are fine and uniform. Add onions and enough mayonnaise to coat. Chill and serve on white toast or rye bread with lettuce and a little extra mayo, salt and pepper to taste. Makes approximately six sandwiches. Delicious!
1 cod or salmon steak or filet
Put garlic and dollops of butter on and around fish. Broil in oven or toaster oven for 13 minutes or until fish is done. Season with salt and lots of lemon. Serve with plain white rice.
1 jar of red lumpfish caviar*
*You can use the black lumpfish caviar - the taste is the same - but the black results in a grayish green dip which is far less appealing than the pink dip you get with the red caviar. And most importantly, do not use really good expensive caviar for this - save the beluga for a special occasion.
1 lb. chicken livers
Boil rice according to directions on box. In a skillet, add oil and onions. Cook for approximately two minutes, then add chicken livers. Cook until cooked but just barely pink the in the middle. Add mushrooms about two minutes before livers are done. Drained rice and transfer to a large bowl. Add the liver, onions, and mushrooms. Season with salt to taste.
1 whole roasted chicken
1 cup low sodium soy sauce
Combine all ingredients in an airtight container (use one of those small soup containers from the Chinese takeout) and chill. Use for any Asian food, dumplings, etc. Also can be used as a marinade for beef, pork or chicken.
1 good quality hero or Italian bread
Cut hero in half and spread mayo on bottom half. Add lettuce, tomatoes, and onions, then add provolone and cold cuts.
Top with deli dressing and red peppers. Cut in half. Makes two hearty sandwiches.
NOTE: Proportion of ingredients is up to you. If you like less mayo, use less mayo. If you like more tomatoes, add more tomatoes. You can also add or substitute any cold cuts of your liking - capicola and mortadella would be especially good on this sandwich. Also try some sun dried tomatoes or, if you like your sandwich spicy, some sliced jalapenos.
1 lb. tri-color radiatore pasta
Boil pasta according to instructions. Drain and add all ingredients. Mix well and chill for several hours.
1 whole chicken, cut into pieces*
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Dredge the chicken pieces in flour. In a non-stick skillet, melt the butter and brown the chicken on all sides. Transfer the chicken to a casserole dish on low heat on the stove and add the bacon, onions, garlic, mushrooms, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Pour the cognac over the chicken and ignite. When the flames dies down, add the wine. Cover and bake in the oven for about an hour and ten minutes or until the chicken is tender and cooked through. Serve with mashed potatoes or egg noodles.
*This is one of those dishes that requires a lot of prep work, so have all of your ingredients ready before you start browning the chicken and, most importantly, save yourself a lot of time and effort by buying a whole chicken already cut up.
**Chambertin is the classic wine used for this dish, but don't bother looking for it or wasting your money. Contrary to
what those wine snobs on all the cooking shows say, you don't need to use a top-shelf wine for cooking. The first time I made this, I used a $2.00 bottle of dry red wine and the result was
In a non-stick skillet, add one tablespoon of butter. When melted, add the onions, peppers, and ham - cook until peppers and onions are tender but still have a little crunch. In a separate non-stick skillet, add another tablespoon of butter. When melted, crack in two eggs and cook sunnyside up or over easy, depending on your preference. While everything is cooking, get your toasted English muffin ready on a plate and place one slice of American cheese on each half. Spoon over some of the onion, pepper, and ham mixture, then place one egg on each English muffin half. Casually spoon the rest of the onion, pepper, and ham mixture on top of the eggs and around the plate.
Faux Poached Eggs
Heat a non-stick skillet. Add butter. Crack two eggs into skillet and add water. Cover skillet and cook on low heat for approximately four minutes until eggs set but the yolk is still runny. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
For a super terrific complete breakfast, serve with turkey bacon and rye toast, as Denis did the first time he made this for me. This still remains one of the best breakfasts I have ever had.
1 cup coffee
This cannot be any simpler. Just pour a shot of Grand Marnier into your coffee with cream and enjoy. The perfect ending to a good meal, especially on a cold night.
1 large can of V8 Juice
Combine all ingredients in large bowl and then transfer to individual sealed containers (the quart soup containers from the Chinese takeout are ideal). Chill for at least 8 hours. The colder this gets, the more flavorful it is. If serving to guests, make at least 24 hours ahead. Makes a lot of soup. Optional garnishes are a dollop of sour cream, chopped avocado or chilled shrimp.
Another great recipe from my mother - trust me, this fried rice is just as good, if not better, than what you will get in most
1 14 oz. box of white rice
Boil rice according to directions on box. In a skillet, add oil and mushrooms. Cook until mushrooms are heated
through, then add scallions. Cook until scallions are just cooked but still have a little crispness. In a separate non-stick skillet, add butter. Once butter is melted, add the five
beaten eggs and scramble (unlike scrambled eggs I would serve for breakfast, cook these slightly on the hard side and use your spatula to dice in small pieces). Put the rice into a large bowl
and add the Gravy Master. Toss to coat, then add the eggs along with the mushrooms, scallions, and a little bit of the oil the mushrooms and scallions cooked in. Mix until everything is
well incorporated and season with salt to taste. Makes a lot of rice. Add duck sauce, soy sauce, and Chinese mustard to your liking.
1 lb. campanelle or other small shaped pasta
In a skillet, crumble sausages with a little of the sliced garlic and cook on medium heat. Boil pasta according to directions. While pasta boils and sausage cooks, heat olive oil in a medium sauce pan and add mushrooms. Cook for several minutes, then add garlic, careful not to brown the garlic. Drain pasta and add olive oil, garlic, and mushroom mixture along with the crumbled sausage. Add salt, parsley, and half of the parmesan cheese and toss well. Top with extra parmesan cheese when serving. Makes approximately five servings.
Grilling steak at home should not be intimidating. Follow these simple rules and you will always have a perfectly cooked
piece of meat.
Steak is one of my favorite things to cook at home. Sometimes it's even better at home than in some mediocre restaurants.
Some people are intimated cooking steak. They lament: How do I know when it's done? How long do I cook it for? Why is it dry?
If you follow a few simple rules, you will be guaranteed a perfect steak each and every time. First, the best steak is done on a barbecue but since most of us are confined to our apartments, a good non-stick grill pan is essential. Secondly, get the pan scorching hot before putting the steak on, and coat the pan lightly with olive or vegetable oil. Season your steak with salt and pepper.
How long you cook the steak depends on its thickness. For your average steak (shell, rib or porterhouse are my usual choices), I go for approximately three or four minutes on one side and two or three on the second for medium rare. I always err on the side of undercooking it since you can always put a rare steak back on but a well-done steak is...well, the dog gets it. Finally, just like you always hear on the cooking shows, let the steak rest about five minutes before cutting into it. It really does seal the juices in.
Another great cut of steak is skirt steak, which is very thin and is best rare. This cooks in only about 1 1/2 minutes per side.
This method also applies to lamb chops, although baby lamb chops cook quickly, so I would do them about two minutes a side for medium rare.
7 oz. corned beef
1 lb. ground beef
In a large bowl, combine ground beef, egg, bread crumbs, 1/4 cup milk, onions, salt, and pepper. Mix well and form into meatballs just a little bit bigger than the size of a golf ball (makes approximately fifteen meatballs). Arrange meatballs in an 8-inch square microwave safe dish. Cover with wax paper and microwave on medium for 9-10 minutes. While meatballs are cooking, blend remaining milk with the golden mushroom soup in a bowl. When meatballs are done, add soup mixture and place back in microwave, again covered with wax paper, on high for 14 minutes or until the meatballs are heated through. Served over buttered egg noodles. Makes three generous servings.
Vegetable Cream Cheese
1 8 oz. container of Philadelphia cream cheese
Empty container of cream cheese in a bowl and mix with spoon to loosen a little. Add vegetables and mix until combined. Chill for at least one hour. Serve on bagels with good smoked salmon, a slice of tomato, and a slice of onion. Makes about a pint of cream cheese.
1 packet of Knorr vegetable soup mix
Empty container of sour cream into a bowl. Mix in the soup mix until incorporated, then add approximately three tablespoons of the powdered dressing mix. Mix again and chill for for at least six hours, overnight even better. Serve with assorted crudite.
In a non-stick skillet, add butter. When melted, add the onions, peppers, and ham - cook until peppers and onions are tender but still have a little crunch. Add beaten eggs and scramble. About a minute before eggs are cooked to your liking, add cheese and continue to scramble so cheese starts to melt. Serve immediately with toast or English muffins. Makes three servings.