In February I took a fabulous trip to Oaxaca, Mexico with Destination-Arts (a multi-dimensional painting and photography workshop). We had the distinct pleasure of spending an entire day with the noted chef, caterer, and Seasons of my Heart Cooking School founder Susana Trilling. This wonderful day really rounded out our experience to Oaxaca in the most profound way. We had no way of knowing this until later when the dust settled! For me, as a restaurateur and caterer this provided the "flavor" that was the finishing touch on the whole experience.
There were 22 of us in two vans, and as we slowly made our way through the intense traffic, washed out roads, and detours - we began to worry that we were seriously lost! But we finally made it and from the moment we walked through the doors of this enchanting cooking school, we were impressed! The room was large and airy with a high domed ceiling. The kitchen was very large, completely tiled, with a dramatic central stove on the far side and lots of counter space for all of us to work. On the front work areas were five big flat baskets, each containing the ingredients to be used in each recipe.
We each took a seat at one of the three big tables they had set up for us and Susana began to give us the agenda for the afternoon. (I forgot to mention that we had spent the morning with Susana and her wonderful assistant Yolanda being guided through the Abastos Market in Oaxaca - 3 1/2 football fields in length! We had a chance to explore all the various food items we would be utilizing in our cooking that afternoon - it was an amazing adventure!) Susana explained the different courses we would be making for our meal, and how we would divide into groups to prepare the food.
Here's the menu we prepared that day, some of Susana's comments regarding each dish and photos I took along the way:
Tacos de Huitlacoche (Corn Fungus Tacos) - this dish features a local specialty which is foraged during the rainy season in corn patches. This corn fungus has a subtle musty, earthy taste that is quite delicious.
She explained that corn is the most significant food in Mexico and that all legends have corn as the beginnings of mankind. Unlike the States where corn has been highly hybridized, there are 40-50 varieties of corn in Mexico. The salsa we made to accompany these tacos was called "salsa de chile piquin" and she told us that these chiles are so hot, you have to wear gloves when handling them. Yikes!
Sopa de Tortilla (Country style tortilla soup) - this is an example of how they don't waste anything in Mexico - as a soft tortilla ages, it needs to be eaten, so it is fried and used in other dishes such as this soup. She said that every kitchen makes this soup - it is everywhere!
Ensalada de Pina, Jicama, y Agracate (Pineapple, Jicama and Avocado Salad) - this is such a delicious, crisp and refreshing salad! I told our chefs when I got back that we HAVE to make this for our customers this summer - everyone will love it! Susana mentioned that this goes especially well with mole and is perfect in hot weather. All the ingredients should be chopped the same size and the cream cheese (or goat cheese) adds an acid element that provides a good counterpoint to the fruit.
Relleno de Papas del Istmo (Baked Potatoes from the Isthmus) - this recipe comes from Thuantepec and is typical of the potato dishes that are sold in the markets on Sunday mornings and taken home for brunch. It reminded us a little of potato salad from our culture, minus the mayo. This dish is traditionally served with mole.
Mole Coloradito Oaxaqueno (Oaxacan Coloradito Mole) - Susana learned this recipe from her friend and teacher Carlota Santos, who she spent many hours with in her kitchen. I chose to be in the mole-making-group and I have the greatest respect now for anyone who tackles this masterpiece of culinary art! Susana explained that Oaxaca is the "land of seven moles" - (mole means mixture or concoction") - and that the test of a good mole is that all the flavors blend perfectly and not one of them stands out above the others. Mole is present at all important life celebrations. A few quick notes: 1) never use ripe tomatoes, green tomatoes are better; 2) chiles are blended - there are many reasons why certain chiles are used to make certain moles; 3) Mole Negro is the most important mole for the big celebration on November 2nd, Day of the Dead and is generally combined with turkey for special occasions; 4) "Coloraditio" is a little red, everything is toasted, roasted, and fried, then blended; 5)some of the other moles are Mole Rojo (little red), Mole Amarillo (orange and easier to make), Macha Mantelles, Chanchilla, Verde tomatillos (made with green tomatoes).
Budin de Elote (Corn Pudding) - this is also inspired by the Isthmus and is generally made during the rainy season when the fresh corn is harvested.
After we had each picked our groups, she put on some great music and we all got to work! Thank goodness my group was headed up by our fabulous photography coach Dan Lipow, who also is a very talented cook. He took charge and we each began working on different aspects of creating this magical dish. Here is the recipe with accompanying photos:
Ingredients (makes about 8 servings)
Seasoning ingredients for chicken stock (double the recipe)
1 1/2 chickens (about 4 1/2 pounds), cut into 8 servings, reserving the back and neck for stock
9 chiles anchos (about 4 1/2 oz), stemmed and seeded
11 chiles guajillos (about 2 1/4 oz), stemmed and seeded
2 black peppercorns
2 whole cloves
1 whole allspice
1 piece Mexican cinnamon stick, about 1inch long
1 small head garlic, cloves separated
1 small white onion, quartered
1 lb ripe tomatoes (2 med to large round or 8-10 plum), quartered
1 sprig fresh marjoram or Oaxacan oregano or 1/2 tsp dried
2 tblsp plus 1 tsp lard, sunflower or vegetable oil
1/2 large ripe plantain, in peel
1/2 bolillo or French roll, sliced
1 tblsp raisins
5 whole, unpeeled almonds
3 tblsp lard, sunflower or vegetable oil
1/2 cup sesame seeds
2 bars Mexican chocolate (3 oz each) or to taste
1 1/2-2 tblsp sea salt, or to taste
1 tblsp sugar
In a heavy 7 qt stockpot, heat 6 qts water and the seasoning ingredients to a boil. Add the chicken pieces and lower heat to simmer. Cover and cook the chicken for about 35 to 45 minutes or until the meat is tender and the juices run clear when the dark meat is pierced with a fork. Remove the chicken, strain, and reserve the stock.
Wrap the plantain in tin foil to cover completely and place in a 350 degree oven and allow to roast for 35 minutes. The skin will burst open and the flesh will look transparent. If you are working with a comal and wood fire, place the plaintain directly on the coals to roast.
Bring 2 qts of water to boil. On a 10" dry comal, griddle or in a cast iron frying pan over low heat toast the chiles on both sides, toasting the chiles anchos a bit slower and longer than the chiles guajillos, because of their thicker skins.Toast them on both sides until their skins start to blister and they give off their aroma. Remove the chiles from the comal or pan, place them in a medium bowl, and cover with the hot water. soak the chiles for 20 minutes, tuning to soften them. Puree in the blender, using as little of the chile water as possible, about 1 cup. Pass the per through a strainer to remove the skins.
On the comal, griddle or cast iron frying pan, toast the peppercorns, cloves, allspice and cinnamon stick, and remove from the heat. Grill the garlic and onions, turning them often until they become translucent. Let cool. Puree the spices, onion and garlic in a blender with 1/2 cup of the reserved stock. Set aside.
In a medium frying pan, over medium heat, cook tomato pieces and marjoram or oregano with no oil and cook until condensed, 10-15 minutes. first they will give off their juices, then they will dry out. Puree the tomato mixture in a blender, then pass the mixture through a sieve.
In a medium frying pan, heat 2 tblsp of lard or oil over medium heat and fry the bread slices until brown. Remove them from the pan. In the same oil fry the raisins until they are plump, about 1-2 minutes. Remove them from the pan. Fry the almonds until light brown, about 2-3 minutes. Remove them from the pan.
Peel the plantain and place it with the bolillo, raisins and almonds in a blender with 1 1/2 cups of reserved broth and blend until smooth. Wipe out the frying pan and put over low heat. Add 1 tsp of oil and the sesame seeds and fry until brown, about 10 minutes, stirring constantly. If they bounce around a lot in the pan add a good pinch of sea salt and the seeds will calm down. Cool the seeds and grind in a molcajete or spice grinder, or in a blender with a little bit of broth, blending very well. You can also grind the seeds in a Cuisinart with 1/2 tsp of vegetable oil to make a smooth paste.
In a heavy stockpot, heat 2 tblsp of lard or oil over high heat until smoking. Add the chile puree a little at a time stirring constantly. It will splatter about a bit, but keep stirring. Lower heat to medium and after about 20 minutes, or when chile puree is thick, add the tomato mixture and continue to cook, about 15 minutes, stirring to keep the mole from sticking or burning. Add the onion and ground spices mixture and stir well. Add the pureed plantain mixture and ground sesame seeds, stirring constantly about 10 minutes. Add 4 1/2-5 cups of the reserved broth to thin out the sauce, and let it heat completely through, about 20 minutes more. Add the chocolate, stirring constantly. When the chocolate dissolves, add the salt and sugar, if needed. Let it cool down for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. The more time it has to cook the better.
Return the chicken pieces to the broth and heat through. Add more broth the the mole if needed. The mole should be thick enough to just coat a spoon, no more. Place a piece of chicken on a serving plate and ladle enough mole on top to completely cover the meat. Serve with hot corn tortillas.
Hint: you can use turkey, pork or rabbit instead of chicken. You can use the rest for Tamales Oaxaquenos made with banana leaves or Enchiladas Oaxaquenas. You should make this mole at least one day ahead, as the flavors will blend together better. The sauce freezes well too.
Some dishes are carefully planned and executed and others just seem to happen by themselves. Yesterday was an example of the latter. Wild mushroom and black truffle lasagna an accident!! Let me explain. Several days ago a salesman left some pasta samples from Italy, paper thin sheets of egg pasta, absolutely gorgeous!! My first comment was I'd like to do a different type of lasagna with this, not really knowing what that might be.
The next day, a local forager came by with beautiful chanterelles, black trumpet mushrooms, some boletes, and one I've never heard of, "cinnabar", a brilliant orange cousin of the golden chanterelle. The wheels were starting to turn...last night after a long Friday preparing for weddings and keeping the storefront filled with food it all came together. A quick canvas of the walk-in turned up the perfect amount of bechamel, nice fresh ricotta, and a small wheel of sublime black truffle cheese. Some fresh thyme, Portobello stems and truffle oil and it was happening.
Within minutes onion and chopped mushrooms were sweating on the stove and the ricotta was being whipped with the bechamel and grated cheese. A layer of pasta, a layer of mushroom-cheese mix, and so on...and finally a shower of the sautéd mushrooms on top and bam, in the oven! I've never put together a lasagna so quickly. There it was and here it is! Just out in the store and going fast!
Our friends at Gill Farms in Hurley, New York keep surprising us with beautiful, tasty, healthy vegetables. Life is too short to only eat broccoli! So come on in and try some of the wonderful vegetables we have been preparing. Expand your mind and your palate!
Today’s delivery included multicolored mini-eggplants and gorgeous okra. There is definitely much more to do with okra than making gumbo, (which we love) so to highlight these fascinating vegetables I made an Indian inspired dish, called a “bhadji”, delicately seasoned with ginger, tamarind and chili for today’s plat du jour.
The fresh cranberry beans we cooked yesterday are another late summer treat, truly amazing! I folded these into a clove, cardamon scented rice, sort of like an Indian version of the Cajan “dirty rice”.
To finish the dish we’ve paired a nice cool cucumber yogurt raita, with cucumbers from Gill Farms, of course, and some fresh herbs from our garden out back. We're loving the bounty of the harvest in August, come share it with us!
New Year's musings from Chef Richard Erickson
I have been wanting to eat porchetta ever since I first heard that Sara Jenkins (daughter of the famous cookbook author, Nancy Harmon Jenkins) opened a place in the East Village by the same name. In Central Italy a whole pig is roasted and then sold from a cart, (street food - this has to be the epitome of "slow cooked fast food"). A pork loin covered with garlic, fennel and rosemary wrapped in a pork belly and slow roasted for hours is how they do it. "Amazing", I thought. "The loin is continually basted as the
Well, with the end of the year drawing quickly to a close we still hadn't done it. Summer catering ran into Thanksgiving ran into Hanukkah ran into ..... you get the picture. Well, I'm sure the kitchen staff thought I was nuts but sure enough, right in the middle of Christmas and New Years preparations came a whole pork belly from Hudson Valley Meat Co. We opened it up, scored the skin in a diamond pattern, seasoned it with plenty of chopped garlic, salt and savory herbs. After sitting for several days we wrapped it around one of our Berkshire pork loins tied it up and set it to slow roast for almost seven
Crispy skin, fatty belly, and lean loin all heaped on a semolina baguette make a killer sandwich. We'll also be serving it as a plate with garlicky greens and cannellini beans. Stop in today and have some, the parking is easier and the price much cheaper than on E. 7th Street!
They're baaacckkk! There's no meal more perfect for a night you just don't want to cook than one of Bistro-to-Go's homemade chicken pot pies! We use Murray's free range chicken, leeks, onion, carrots, turnips, parsnips and fresh thyme in a luscious creamy sauce (rich with homemade chicken broth) - and they fly out the door! So they just came out of the oven - stop in and pick one up on your way home, then pop it in the toaster oven for a quick reheat, put on your jammies and enjoy!
Summer produce is at its peak right now and this colorful, delicately delicious, and healthful "green" - rainbow chard is one of the best. I've grown it myself and never tire of the sweet tender flavors of chard simply prepared by steaming it with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Today we got a delivery from our neighbors at Gill Farms and I was struck by the beauty of the colors of the stems sitting on the counter as I walked through the kitchen.
The preparation is so simple.
Start by cutting the stems where they meet the leaves and then into 3" pieces. Wash thoroughly and set to drain. Cut the leafy parts horizontally across the stem portion into 2" strips and soak for a few minutes in water and then drain.
In a large pot, heat some olive oil and add chopped or sliced garlic. (Don't let the oil get too hot, as the garlic will cook very quickly and you don't want to let it burn.) While the garlic is cooking add the stems (still wet from draining) with a little salt and pepper, cover and let steam until almost tender.
Now take big handfuls of the chard leaves, stir with tongs fully coating the leaves with the garlic oil and cooked stems. Turn the heat down low and cover letting everything cook until done. Check seasoning for salt and pepper, platter and serve. Chard is delicious warm or at room temperature. In Sicily and Catalonia golden raisins and pine nuts are sometimes added and are a wonderful somewhat unexpected addition.
We're into the joy of the growing season now as we begin to expect new arrivals each week from one of our favorite local farmers John from Gill Farms. A few days ago he showed up with an enormous bag of freshly picked spinach. It's so great to see the beginnings of what is in store for us in the coming months.
The first thing we do with the spinach is cut off the tip of the stem and discard. Then we separate the stems from the upper leaf, putting all the leaves into a sink full of water. Let them soak for a bit, gently swishing them around to dislodge any bits of sand that may still be clinging to the leaves. To be safe, we usually drain in a collander and then wash them one more time in clean water. Then spin dry.
As I was cleaning the spinach I remembered a dish we used to do years ago with the stems: a gratin! There's nothing more satisfying to a chef then making use of all of a plant or any food item. "Nose to tail eating" as Fergus Henderson says. In a professional kitchen, or any kitchen for that matter, nothing should go to waste!
Spinach Stem Gratin
We start with a basic bechamel sauce: 1 cup flour, 1 cup butter, and two quarts of milk flavored with a bay leaf and freshly grated nutmeg (a great base).
Next, we grate a mixture of cheeses: cheddar, gruyere or fontina work the best, ricotta is good also, stay away from mozzarella as it gets stringy. Mix a couple of eggs into the sauce, a couple cups of grated cheese, a bit of Parmesan never hurts, and pour into a gratin dish with the seasoned blanched stems. I like to add a bit of the cooked spinach leaves (chopped) as well for color. Now top with bread crumbs tossed with a bit of garlic, butter and parsley.
Bake until set, about 30 to 45 minutes at 350 depending on the size of your gratin dish. This is a delicious side for a summer meal, or would make a fabulous vegetarian entree. Enjoy!
One of the coolest things about being married to a chef and owning a food business is there's always something amazing going on in the kitchen. The other day as I strolled through, our awesome chefs were preparing this fabulous eggplant dish - it was something entirely new to me and was visually stunning! I decided to take pictures at each stage of the dish's evolution, to share with you.
How fun today when one of our customers (the extremely lovely librarian Kara) ordered it exactly the way it should be served: with some sliced mozzarella and a side starch (here our whole grain pilaf, but it would also be great with pasta.)
Making the fans is extremely easy. Choose a medium to large eggplant, rinse and dry. Slice the fan layers about 1/2" thick ending the cuts close to the base. Oil the bottom of a baking dish inserting the eggplants. Slice tomatoes into 1/4" pieces and toss in some finely diced garlic. Then layer the tomato between the "fans" of the eggplant. Drizzle olive oil over the everything and sprinkle with sea salt and cracked pepper. Place in a preheated 300 degree oven for about one hour. Test with a knife to make sure they're completely cooked.
This dish makes a great vegetarian entree or an unusual side for a summer barbeque. We served it on a bed of fresh greens and drizzled a balsamic glaze over the eggplant as a flavor accent. Delish!
The change of seasons always brings the excitement of new seasonal menu items and here at Bistro-to-Go we've started making Quinoa Tabouli again - much to the delight of our customers. Traditionally tabouli (or "tabbouleh") comes from the Middle East and Mediterranean regions and is made with bulgar wheat, parsley, scallions, mint, tomato, onion, lemon juice and olive oil. We chose to make ours with quinoa for a number of reasons, the first being that it's delicious, light and very nutritious.
Quinoa originated and is primarily grown in the Andes and has a very high protein content (12%–18%), making it a healthy choice for vegetarians. Unlike wheat or rice (which are low in lysine), quinoa contains a balanced set of essential amino acids making it an unusually complete protein source. Another big reason we've adopted and love quinoa is that it's gluten free and a perfect fit for the clean and healthy foods we offer. All of this would mean nothing if it didn't taste good! I usually side with tradition and history but in this case I truly think that quinoa tastes better and makes a better version of tabouli than the original made with wheat. Try some and judge for yourself. Just remember, true tabouli is bright green with lots and lots of parsley, mint and scallions.
What was the inspiration for this dish today? Well, we usually use chicken legs for chicken cacciatore or pot pies and thought this would be a great change. Despite the strange cold snap we're having right now, we wanted to do a lighter and more seasonal preparation, eh voila! Hoisin charred chicken legs!
Hoisin "barbeque" sauce (ala Chef Jonathan Sheridan) is easy to make, providing you've done a little shopping in advance for the ingredients. Start by taking equal parts hoisin sauce (most markets have this in their Asian food section) and ketchup and mix together in a bowl. Then in a sauce pan, take equal parts soy sauce and sugar, several whole star anise, a sprinkling of Sechzwan style peppercorns and crushed chile flakes, and minced garlic and simmer gently for 10 minutes.
Let cool and strain into the hoisin ketchup mix. Add a squirt of sesame oil to the mix and toss the raw chicken legs until they're completely coated with the sauce. Lay the pieces out on a pan and cook in a 300 degree oven for 20 minutes, then raise the temperature to 400 for 20 minutes. This brings out the flavor of the bbq sauce and gives them that stunning charred look.
We've made an Asian version of cole slaw with rice wine vinegar and cilantro to go with the chicken, which provides a nice contrast to the spicy sauce. Serve with steamed rice or roasted sweet potatoes and you've created a dinner your fans will rave about!
Paella is our Thursday “plat du jour” and always fun to cook. Paella is essentially a rice dish originating in the provinces near the rice growing regions of Valencia. Originally made with snails, rabbit and chicken, it almost always includes seafood today. There are as many variations of paella as there are villages in Spain so to give a master recipe is useless. All would agree however that it is first and foremost a rice dish not a seafood dish.
Valencia is a famous rice growing region and the short grained rice they raise is similar to the more commonly available arborio rice from Italy. The elaborate Paella Valenciana that one sees in restaurants all over the world probably started in neighboring Catalonia, Valencia's sophisticated neighbor. One of the things that makes it fun (from a kitchen's point of view) is the stock used to cook the rice.
Every cook loves to make stock!! We start with a rich chicken stock made with the bones of the Murray’s chickens we clean each day. We follow with the shells from peeled shrimp and even snapper or cod bones and heads depending on the week. The point is we devote most of our attention to a rich stock full of the flavors that will appear later in the finished dish.
The rest of the dish is relatively easy to prepare as the other ingredients garnish the flavorful short grain rice that has absorbed all of the flavors.
Here is a recipe for an easy and familiar paella with chicken, chorizo or ham and shrimp. Add mussels or clams for variety and a colorful presentation.
1 lg chicken cut into small serving pieces olive oil
5 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 lb shrimp or prawns
1 Spanish onion, diced
1 lg tomato, diced or 1 cup canned diced
1 Spanish style chorizo, or 1/4 ham
1 tablspoon sweet paprika
1 pinch saffron
1 1/3 lb short grain rice
1/2 pound green peas, green beans, or butter beans, cooked and drained
1. In a wide flat bottomed pan, saute the chicken pieces in a small amount of oil until golden brown. Remove and set aside.
2. Heat the stock.
3. Slowly begin cooking the onion with the saffron, chorizo and paprika stirring well.
4. Check the stock and season with salt and pepper. Now add the seafood, beans or peas, the rice and the warm stock checking the liquid for salt and pepper.
5. Simmer uncovered until all the liquid has been absorbed, about 20-25 minutes. A crust on the bottom is considered by many to be not only desirable but highly sought after.
When the paella is finished carefully arrange the seafood on top, sprinkle with some chopped parsley and then serve.
Chicken Marsala is a good example of one of those dishes that have gotten a bad rap from being mass produced in industrial kitchens. When prepared carefully what could be tastier than a tender chicken scallopini topped with sauteed mushrooms and Marsala wine? I take personal pleasure in resurrecting "old school under appreciated dishes" and bringing them back to life for others to enjoy. Cooking in a busy kitchen such as ours, allows us to do numerous things which, while not impossible for the home cook, can often be cumbersome and time consuming.
Following is an outline of how we do this dish and a few of our techniques. I was tempted to use the work "tricks", but there are no real "tricks" in a good kitchen, just good solid cooking techniques built up over years working with and thinking about food and flavors.
We start with boneless chicken breasts which we slice and then gently pound out to tender pieces, about 5-6 oz each. Seasoned with our house mix of kosher salt, sea salt, and freshly ground white pepper we then dredge them lightly in flour and saute until golden and set aside.
Next we saute the mushrooms, (a mix of cremini, shitake and oyster) with minced shallots and fresh thyme. We then deglaze with a good Italian dry Marsala wine and let that reduce a bit before adding chicken stock. (Sauce stocks are dark, meaning we roast the bones and vegetables before simmering them giving a rich full flavor perfect for dishes like this, as opposed to light stocks made for soups.)
We then return the sauteed chicken pieces briefly to the sauce where the flavors can mingle, finish cooking the chicken, and the bits of browned flour on the chicken help to thicken and enrich the sauce.
Leaving the sauce simmering on the stove top we then platter the chicken and add a bit of lemon juice to the sauce (to counteract the sweetness of the wine and add depth and complexity). Finally we finish by swirling in a bit of porcini butter which we make in bulk and freeze, adding smoothness and shine to the sauce along with the exotic aroma of the porcinis.
Chicken Marsala has consistently been our best selling plat du jour and a we think deserving of the title we have on our catering menus, "the best you've ever had"!
Even if you're not Irish, you're probably up for either a corned beef sandwich today or one of our corned beef and cabbage dinner specials which will include the ever popular colcannon. But here's the big question - have you ever tried it?
Colcannon (or "colchannon") is extremely popular in Ireland and is much the same today as it's been for centuries. It was traditionally eaten in at Halloween as until recently this was a fast day when you weren't allowed to eat meat. The name derives from cal ceann fhionn -- white-headed cabbage.
Here at Bistro-to-Go we cook up Potato Bob's carola potatoes and mash them as we would to serve every day. Take a bunch of leeks, chop them fine and soak in water to clean out the sand. Drain, then sweat them in a pan on top of the stove, sauteing with some butter, salt and pepper till soft. Chop the kale and savoy cabbage (the queen of all cabbage) into horizontal strips about 1" wide and put into a deep pot with about 1" of water in the bottom. Steam until they're tender and drain off the excess water. Toss in some olive oil, salt and pepper and stir into the potatoes along with the leeks. Check the seasoning and voila! Colcannon! May the luck of the Irish be yours today!
One of our best-selling dishes here at Bistro-to-Go is Shrimp with Gigande Beans. It's the simple combination of the two main elements tossed together with some olive oil, garlic, dried chili pepper and chopped parsley that makes this dish a winner! And what actually makes it SO simple is that we use Divina gigande beans because they're cooked to perfection and canned.
In the old days at Blue Mountain Bistro, Richard used to soak dried beans overnight and cook them himself, but found that they didn't cook evenly. No matter how many beans seemed the perfect "done-ness" there were always a number in the batch that were too crunchy, thus dissatisfying. These Divina beans are perfect every time! It's no wonder they garnered the Sofi award from the National Association of Specialty Food Trade competition which honors truly outstanding food products.
Gigandes are plump, meaty white beans grown along the mountain slopes in Northern Greece. They're packed with protein and have been a staple of the Mediterranean diet for centuries. Divina's gigandes are marinated in a delightful vinaigrette with red and green pepper strips. They can be served as a savory, stand alone antipasto dish or as a special ingredient in salads. We sell a giant can (70 oz) of gigandes for $16.99! If you aren't planning a large dinner party to use the whole can, you can freeze whatever's left in sandwich baggies and pull them out as needed for a quick healthy snack, make your own "hummus", toss into a salad OR make this quick easy dish.
Shrimp with Gigande Beans
Chef Richard Erickson, Bistro-to-Go
1 pound shrimp, shelled
Sea salt to taste
1/2 cup good olive oil
4T chopped garlic
2-3 bay leaves
Dried red chili pepper
1. Season the shelled shrimp with sea salt and bring to room temperature while you prepare the other ingredients. This is usually done with small shrimp.
2. Choose a pan where the shrimp will fit comfortably (too small or too large a pan will affect the result.)
3. Heat the oil, add garlic, bay leaves and chili pepper stirring carefully over medium heat. At just the moment when the garlic begins to turn color add the shrimp, increase the heat and stir constantly until the shrimp are done, about 2-3 minutes. If cooked too long the flavor of the garlic will go from nutty and aromatic to bitter and acrid.
4. Toss in the gigande beans, sprinkle with parsley and serve.
Serves 4 - 6 people as an appetizer with a baguette or 4 people served over angel hair pasta as an entree
Today's Plat du Jour is poached tilapia with a lemon-dill-cream sauce, steamed baby RSK Farms carola potatoes, and a broccoli cauliflower medley. We often use this delicious light farm-raised fish for our Friday plat as it adapts well to many different preparations. During the summer we battered and pan-fried it and served it with our homemade tartare sauce - a huge hit! We usually serve the most divine baby carola potatoes from our favorite local RSK Farm in Windham, New York. (Future blog post on Bob and his farm coming soon). He told me the other day that this is the end of the little baby potatoes! We'll have to wait for next season to enjoy their candy sweetness again. Very sad!
Wishing you all a wonderful President's / Valentine's weekend - no funky weather allowed!
Richard and Jonathan have whipped up a delicious batch of chunky beef and kidney bean chili today for all the revelers who want something substantial to feast on tomorrow along with their chicken wings!
Wikipedia defines : "Chili con carne (literally 'Chili with meat', often known simply as chili) is a spicy stew. The name 'chili con carne' is taken from Spanish, and means 'peppers with meat.' Traditional versions are made, minimally, from chili peppers, meat, garlic, onions, and cumin, along with chopped or ground beef. Beans and tomatoes are frequently included. Variations, both geographic and personal, may involve different types of meat as well as a variety of other ingredients. It can be found worldwide in local variations and also in certain American-style fast food restaurants. The variant recipes provoke disputes among afficionados, and the dish is used as an ingredient in a number of other foods.
Our version features beef chuck stew meat, ground beef, and kidney beans. The kicker is a cool product we sell in our store called La Morena Chilpotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce. This product is from Mexico and adds a mellow smokey chile taste to the dish. Garnish with cheddar cheese (and/or chopped tomato, cilantro, sweet onion, and sour cream), you'll blow your guests away with our chili.
Come on in today or tomorrow - $10.99 quart!
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