Category Archives: Recipes

Crispy, Crusty, Cheesy Goodness

Today was gross for three reasons: it was Monday, I have a cold, and it was raining. Today was great for three reasons: I won’t see Monday’s ugly face again for 6 whole days, I heard that this weekend it’s supposed to hit 80 degrees, and one of my very best friends who lives in my backyard cooked me dinner. Even Steven.

On the menu:
“Becca Does Tilapia” with parmesan crust and basil tomato cream sauce
Asparagus with rosemary sea salt

Tilapia
Serves 2

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
10-12 cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup cream
1/2 cup basil [1/4 cup roughly chopped, 1/4 cup chiffonade]
2 tilapia fillets
salt and pepper
1/4 cup flour
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/2 teaspoon Japanese spice blend [you can buy this blend of Japanese spices in most grocery stores with an international section, but if you don’t have it, you can substitute a pinch of red pepper flakes, garlic salt, or paprika]

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook 1-2 minutes. Turn down heat to medium/low and add cherry tomatoes, cook for 2 minutes. Add cream. Let simmer for 15 minutes. Sauce will turn slightly pink and coat the back of the spoon. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet large enough to fit both fillets. Pat dry the tilapia fillets. Season both sides with salt and pepper. Combine parmesan, panko and Japanese spice. Dredge the seasoned tilapia fillets in the seasoned flour. Shake off excess. Dip in egg. Press into Parmesan/panko mixture. Place in heated skillet and cook 3-4 minutes per side. Fish will be golden brown when it’s done. Plate the fish and pour sauce over the top.

Asparagus with rosemary sea salt
Serves 2

10 asparagus stalks
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp rosemary sea salt [this can be found at any gourmet grocery, on Amazon.com, or you can substitute basic sea salt in a pinch]

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place asparagus on a cookie sheet and brush with olive oil until the stalks are coated. Sprinkle sea salt generously over stalks. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, until tender on the inside and slightly crisp on the outside.

NOTE: This dish is not my standard fare. Fish = good for you. Asparagus = good for you. Basil, tomatoes, a little olive oil = good for you. I had to remind myself of the health factor while eating this meal because the fish was flaky, the crust was crispy, and it tastes like a million calories. I’m telling you, kids… it’s not. Enjoy.

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Use Whatcha Got

As a single gal, I find cooking for just one is occasionally a challenge. I can usually adjust a recipe to make one serving (or two, leaving me with leftovers or leaving me having to unbutton my suddenly-tight pants) but then I have random ingredients in my fridge that I either must use before they spoil, or throw out. I usually end up eating the same dinner three days in a row, or a variation on the meal (risotto with mushrooms and asparagus, pasta with mushrooms and asparagus, and omelet with mushrooms and… you get it).

So tonight I found myself with heavy cream, capers, and chicken stock. The thought of eating that trout again was appealing to my tongue but not so much my waistline. The answer? Chicken Piccata.

Okay, so it’s not “healthy.” But it tasted damn good.

Any food stylist will tell you that my pasta is all wrong, there’s too much sauce in the picture, the plate’s not clean, the capers are haphazard… but don’t you just want to dig right in?? That equals success in my book.

On the menu: Chicken piccata
Serves 2

2 chicken breasts, pounded to around 1/2 thick (mine is thicker, but it’ll cook faster and be crispier if you pound it thinner)
2 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp flour
2 Tbsp lemon juice (or the juice from 1/2 of a lemon)
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup heavy cream (half and half would work, too OR you can leave this out altogether if you choose)
1/2 cup chicken stock
4 Tbsp capers
salt and pepper to taste

[Put water on to boil for pasta] Melt butter with olive oil in skillet. Season chicken breasts liberally with salt and pepper on both sides. Dredge breasts in flour, shaking off excess. Once butter is completely melted, add chicken to the skillet. Cook chicken on medium/high heat for around 6-7 minutes on each side. Remove chicken from skillet and set aside. Add the white wine to the same skillet and reduce heat to medium (this is to de-glaze the pan). Scrape all the beautiful brown bits from the bottom of the pan and let the wine reduce down a bit. Once the liquid has reduced by 1/4, add chicken stock, lemon juice, and heavy cream, stirring until all liquids are combined. [If you start cooking your angel hair now in the boiling water, it should time out to be finished once the sauce is ready] Let the sauce reduce for another 5 minutes and then add the capers. Now it’s time to taste! If your sauce needs more salt (mine needed a healthy pinch) now is the time to add it. Mix well. Plate your chicken and pasta, and then pour the sauce over the whole plate.

As you can see… I like sauce. To me, life without sauce is like the beach without sand. The ocean without fish. A boat with no sail!

Can you tell I need a vacation?

Saucy chicken will have to be my escape for now.

*I also want to note that if you ever try this or any recipe I share and you have a question or a concern or an outrage (I mean… I hope not but I’m not perfect. Close. But not quite.) please let me know! Leave a comment or send me an e-mail. I’d love to know how it all turned out in your own kitchens.

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Summer?! Is that you?!

Not quite. But today is warm and sunny in New York City (70 degrees!) and all I can think about is lemonade, ice cream, corn, grilled burgers and shrimp… It might still be March but my stomach says summer.

I’m blowing this popsicle stand early this week, but I leave you with this, dear readers: peanut butter banana chocolate chip milkshakes. You heard me.

This is not my photo, nor is it my recipe (many thanks to The Kitchn for always supplying inspiration when I have none), but can you blame me for cutting and pasting this beauty? Fix a diving board to the side of that glass and I’d swim in it.

Happy beautiful weekend, all!

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Sunday Yummy Sunday

Breakfast is hands down my favorite meal of the day. Dinner is a close second, (followed by the “cold sandwiches suck” middle meal of lunch) but there is something about the sweet and savory meal that breaks the all-night fast that for me, really takes the cake. And when the rain outside is of Biblical proportions, I like to take to the kitchen in my pajamas and start the last day of the weekend with some good, good eats.

On the menu:
Goat cheese, mushroom, spinach, caramelized onion omelet
Homefries with peppers and onions
Crispy bacon
Orange juice

The omelet:
Serves 1

2 eggs
1 Tbsp milk
1/4 cup white mushrooms, slightly cooked over butter
1/8 cup caramelized onions* (see note)
1/8 cup cooked spinach
2 Tbsp goat cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Whisk together 2 eggs with a Tbsp of milk, salt and pepper. Pour egg mixture into a non-stick pan over medium heat. (NOTE: the non-stickness of your non-stick pan is integral. Your omelet will look TERRIBLE if it sticks. Use cooking spray if you need to). Rotate the pan so the egg spreads to all the edges of your pan. Once the omelet is almost entirely set, line up mushrooms, onions, spinach, and goat cheese in one line down the center of the omelet. Slowly fold one half of the omelet over the filling, repeat with the other side (like a tri-fold letter). Flip the omelet and cook for 2 additional minutes, until the egg is completely cooked through and the filling is heated.
*Note: caramelized onions are so easy to make because onions have a ton of natural sugar. All you have to do is thinly slice a Spanish onion and heat the slices in a frying pan for around 15 minutes, until the onion develops a nice golden color.

The homefries:
Serves 1

1 potato, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 Tbsp canola or vegetable oil
1/2 bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup onion, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Boil potato chunks for around 15 minutes, until you can stick a fork into one and it slides out easily. Drain potatoes. In a large bowl, toss potatoes with 1 Tbsp canola oil, and salt and pepper. Spread out on a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes. Toss onions and peppers with canola oil and add to the baking sheet. Raise oven temperature to 400 degrees and bake potatoes, onions, and peppers for 15 minutes, until potatoes are crispy on the outside and the onions and peppers have softened.

After the meal I’m going to suggest a nap. Because the rain is still coming down, the smell of bacon still hangs in the air, and your bed is still warm with that perfect, disheveled mix of blankets, pillows, and rumpled sheets. And it don’t get no better than that.

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“Impress a Date” Fish

They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. If your man likes fish, make this. Now.

Or if you’re single and hungry… make this. Now. It’s delicious and simple in either scenario, and even if you’re not entertaining a man friend, this is a crowd pleaser. It’s not incredibly difficult and I guarantee you have at least half the ingredients in your refrigerator right now.

On the menu: Filet de Truite Saute a la Grenobloise
(Fancy French for: Sauteed Trout, Grenoble Style)
(Serves 2)

1 trout, deboned (ask your local fish monger to debone them for you, pin bones included)
2 slices white bread, crusts cut off and cubed into 1/4 inch squared cubes
2 Tbsp butter, for cooking croutons
1 lemon
2 Tbsp capers
1/4 cup flour
6 Tbsp butter, for sauce

Cook the white bread over medium heat in butter until browned (constantly shake the pan so they brown on all sides and don’t burn). Set aside until needed. Peel the lemons (see note!), cut into supremes (see other note!) and set aside until needed.

Lightly season the trout fillets (each half of the fish is 2 fillets, 2 fillets feeds one person) and dredge in flour, shaking off excess. Melt 2 Tbsp butter in a non-stick pan. Once butter is melted, place fillets scale-side-down in pan and turn heat up to high. Once fish is almost cooked through (about 5 minutes), flip and cook for another 3 minutes on the other side. Set fish aside on a clean, hot plate.

Wipe the pan with a paper towel and add remaining 4 Tbsp of butter. Cook butter over medium heat, constantly shaking pan so the butter browns and doesn’t burn. In rapid succession, add capers, lemon supremes, and at the last second, add croutons, toss, and spoon immediately over the fish.

Notes:

*Lemon supremes:

Peeling the lemon: Cut off the ends of one lemon. Using a sharp knife, slice away the skin of the lemon, white pith included.

Creating the lemon supremes: Holding the lemon in the palm of your left hand, use the sharp knife to cut in between the membrane and the flesh of the lemon. Pull back the membrane with your thumb and slice between the other side of the flesh and membrane. A lovely little slice of lemon will fall out. Repeat, folding the membranes back as you go, like the pages of a book. The end result is a bowl of tiny lemon slices without the chewy membrane. These are called supremes. If this description was totally confusing to you, then squeeze a lemon over the fish when you’re done. It’s not the same flavor, but it’ll do.

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A Hug for Your Belly

If you haven’t already guessed, comfort food is a theme in this blog. And in the past few months, it’s all I’ve been craving. I can scroll through pages and pages of recipes for beet salads with arugula, light and refreshing white fish with citrus garnish, and quiches loaded with vegetables. But when all is said and done, I find myself in my kitchen making rice and pasta. Gemelli with mascarpone, risotto with parmesan, penne with tomatoes and vodka, spaghetti with butter. I’m thinking of opening Lauren E.’s Pasta and More Restaurant (heavy on the ‘pasta,’ light on the ‘and more’).

Talk to me in April and maybe I’ll be posting endless recipes for gazpacho and chicken salad, but for today, it’s linguine with bacon. Don’t worry, friends, it’s not bathing suit season yet.

On the menu: Linguine Carbonara

½ pound linguine
5 strips bacon
1 Tbsp. olive oil
4 cloves garlic, sliced
1 shallot, roughly chopped
2 eggs
½ cup heavy cream (or half and half)
½ cup parmesan cheese, grated
2 teaspoons freshly grated black pepper

Boil pasta until al dente, around 9-10 minutes (reserve ½ cup pasta water). Meanwhile, fry bacon in non-stick skillet until crisp. Let rest on a paper towel and trim any exceptionally fatty bits. Roughly chop bacon. Discard bacon grease. Add olive oil to the same skillet and over medium heat, cook garlic and onion until lightly browned. Add drained, al dente pasta to the skillet and cook for one minute, tossing a few times so it doesn’t stick. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, cream, and grated parmesan. Over low heat, slowly pour egg mixture over pasta in skillet, constantly tossing with tongs so the eggs don’t scramble (if you only have a spatula, that works, too but be very careful to constantly scrape the bottom of the pan so you don’t have a layer of cooked egg under your noodles). Toss over low heat until the sauce thickens and sticks to the noodles. Add the bacon and black pepper, toss until everything is heated through.

Yum, cheesy pasta. Yum.

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Primavera

Last Friday, as the snow pummeled Queens and I didn’t venture any further than my own block, Becca’s lovely husband, Giuseppe, whipped up a mushroom risotto that I want to eat every day for the rest of my life. Modeled on Giuseppe’s recipe, I created something similar tonight for dinner. And in light of the slightly warmer temperatures we’ve been having this week, I threw in a little green because I can not wait one more freaking day for spring to arrive.

P.S. Don’t let risotto scare you! It’s actually ridiculously easy.

On the menu: Giuseppe’s Mushroom Risotto with Asparagus
Serves 2 (I made this as a side dish with a lemon rosemary chicken that wasn’t super memorable, but risotto can totally take center stage in a meal if you so choose – just keep in mind, this might not be sufficient sustenance for 2 if it’s all you’re having)

1/2 cup arborio rice
1 Tbsp olive oil
3 cups chicken stock, simmering
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium sized shallot, finely chopped
1 cup white mushrooms, roughly chopped
1 cup asparagus, roughly chopped
1 Tbsp butter*
3 Tbsp heavy cream*
3 Tbsp grated parmesan

Heat olive oil in a non-stick pan over medium heat (keep in mind risotto triples in volume, so make sure your pan is big enough – I’ve made that unfortunate mistake before). Add mushrooms and let soften for 2-3 minutes. Add garlic and shallots, constantly stirring for 3 minutes. Careful not to let the garlic burn. Add the rice, stirring so all the grains are coated in olive oil. Add 1/2 cup of chicken stock at a time, adding more as the grains soak up the liquid, stirring occasionally. When adding the last half cup of chicken stock, also add asparagus. Once the risotto has soaked up all the stock, add the butter and cream and stir until blended. Plate, sprinkle with parmesan, and eat immediately (risotto turns into a gummy mess if you let it sit too long).

*Note that the butter and cream are optional. While this is not exactly a “healthy” dish (someday I’ll make something Dr. Oz would approve of…) it becomes infinitely more so without the addition of butter and cream, and you’re not really sacrificing that much. But I will tell you… everything is better with butter and cream. Everything.

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