In order for a salad to achieve entree status, it must be exciting, varied in texture, and include higher calorie ingredients to keep me sated (think meat, cheese, nuts, avocado…). This salad is colorful, crunchy, and doesn’t skimp on flavor.

2 hearts of romaine, torn into bite-size pieces
1 head radicchio, thin slice
1 15-oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 roasted red peppers, thin slice
4 oz salami, medium dice
10 oz croutons (homemade from stale bread will make this dish extra-special, but store-bought is just fine in a pinch. I used whole wheat focaccia to make homemade croutons)
2 oz pecorino, shaved
Vinaigrette of your choice (lemon or red wine vinaigrette is particularly well suited for this salad)

1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and toss to coat.

DSCN1461

Advertisements

Since I have been given the responsibility of baking bread at work, I have become quite enamored by the process. From the smell of blooming yeast to the lugging of industrial-size mixing bowls to the feel of the dough as you roll and shape it–bread baking has become a welcome part of the day. This, coming from someone who abhorred scales and measuring cups, is quite the transformation. I realize that, though baking–especially breads–is a science, there is a lot more wiggle room and opportunity for creativity than I had always believed.

That being said, I made whole wheat focaccia using this recipe from Anne Burrell on Food Network. I followed it almost exactly, except I substituted one cup of whole wheat flour for one cup of all-purpose.

1 3/4 cups warm water
2 1/4 tsp (1 package) active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional for kneading
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus flaky sea salt, for sprinkling
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for coating and drizzling
2 Tbsp fresh herbs, chopped (I used oregano, rosemary, and thyme)

Combine the warm water, yeast and sugar in a small bowl. Put the bowl in a warm place until the yeast is bubbling and aromatic, at least 15 minutes.

In the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the flour, 1 tablespoon of kosher salt, 1/2 cup olive oil and the yeast mixture on low speed. Once the dough has come together, continue to knead for 5 to 6 minutes on a medium speed until it becomes smooth and soft.

Transfer the dough to a clean, lightly floured surface, then knead it by hand a few times.

Coat the inside of the mixer bowl lightly with olive oil and return the dough to the bowl. Cover it with plastic wrap and put it in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size, at least 1 hour.

Coat a sheet pan with the remaining 1/2 cup olive oil.

Put the dough onto the sheet pan and press to fit the size of the pan. Turn the dough over to coat the other side with the olive oil. Continue to stretch the dough to fit the pan. As you are doing so, spread your fingers out and make finger holes all the way through the dough.

Put the dough in the warm place until it has doubled in size, about 1 hour. While the dough is rising a second time, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Liberally sprinkle the top of the focaccia with flaky sea salt and lightly drizzle a little oil. Scatter herbs on top and bake the dough until the top of the loaf is golden brown, about 20-30 minutes. Remove the focaccia from the oven and let it cool before cutting and serving.

DSCN1479

DSCN1470

Notes: this recipe actually made for better croutons than they did bread. Though it wasn’t bad, there was a lack of depth of flavor that I probably could have achieved had I let it ferment for longer (or used a different recipe). All in all, it was a fun weekend project, and I still have a bunch left over in the freezer for whenever the need for croutons arises.

This past weekend was the first of football season, and–I can’t believe I’m about to type this–I am so excited for its arrival. In the past few years, I have increasingly looked forward to doing just about nothing on Sundays. These days give me an opportunity to cook (and usually drink) all day; it is on this day I experiment with new dishes, or test popular ones I’ve made in seasons past.

One of these recipes is Rice Krispies Treats. I usually keep them traditional, but top them with a spiced chocolate ganache for something a bit more refined. To kickoff the season, this time I stirred in speculoos spread–a flavor that hints at the impending end of summer and transition to the cooler months. So as I prepare to say goodbye to tomatoes, mai tais, and the faint tan I actually achieved this year, I seek solace in Football Sundays.

DSCN1472

Makes 12-15 pieces

4 Tbsp butter
1 10-oz bag mini marshmallows
2/3 speculoos spread
pinch kosher salt
6 cups Rice Krispies or puffed rice cereal
3 Tbsp millet, toasted

1. In a large pot, melt butter and add marshmallows.
2. Once marshmallows are melted, stir in speculoos spread and salt.
3. Add cereal and millet and stir until evenly coated with speculoos mixture.
4. Pour into a 13 x 9 x 2-inch greased pan and press down evenly.
5. Let sit for at least 2 hours before cutting.

Notes: Of course this is delicious–they’re Rice Krispies Treats, for crying out loud. Speculoos was subtle but prominent enough to make them special. Next time: more millet!

I originally made this soup for 300 people and with loads of butter. The curry flavor was subtle yet present enough to make people wonder why this soup was different from the previous version. Wanting to adapt this recipe to make it vegan and guiltless–yet still rich and satisfying–I swapped the butter for extra-virgin olive oil. By emulsifying it in at the end of the cooking process, the soup thickened and became creamy–much like a vinaigrette behaves once the oil has been added.

1/4 cup plus 3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, medium dice
4 stalks celery, medium dice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp curry powder
1 Tbsp ground coriander
2 28-oz cans whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand

1. Heat 3 Tbsp olive oil in a pot over medium heat.
2. Add onion and celery, season with salt and pepper, and cook until tender, about 5-7 minutes.
3. Add the garlic, curry powder, and coriander and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
4. Add tomatoes, pour in 3 1/2 cups water, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for about 30 minutes.
5. Puree soup until smooth, while gradually pouring in the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil.
6. Adjust seasoning to taste.

DSCN1291

Notes: Could use a bit more coriander, and perhaps some cumin for some smokiness.

For some reason–perhaps it’s the pronounciation–I’ve always shied away from making clafoutis. A recent trip to my local farmers’ market compelled me to purchase cape gooseberries, and figured they would be a great stand-in for traditional cherries in this French dessert. The berries are sweet and tart, with a lingering, almost nagging, tomato flavor.

I used this recipe from John Besh via Epicurious. The only thing I did differently was add a pint of cape gooseberries.

Straight from the oven, the clafoutis is beautiful: puffed like a souffle and a gentle golden brown. In the time it took me to swiftly bring it to the front door for a close-up, it was dead-on-arrival. How did it taste? Kind of like a big, thick crepe, or a sweet, dense pancake. Not bad, but I feel this could use some tweaking in the future, especially since it lends itself to fruits of all seasons. Either way, it was a nice little project that came together quickly and satisfied our inevitable nighttime dessert binge. Next time, this will serve as breakfast in lieu of French toast.

DSCN1342

After a fabulous night in Brooklyn with my good friend from a previous job, we were in dire need of a refreshing drink and a heavy brunch. Being that we were out the door by 10:00 a.m. on a Sunday, and that my friend lives four blocks from Pies ‘n’ Thighs, the next step was obvious.

She ordered a Michelada, and since I wasn’t in the mood for sake in my Bloody Mary, I got the same. Naturally, on my way back to Connecticut, I stopped for hot sauce, and my cocktail hour hasn’t been the same since.

Roadmap to success:

In a pint glass, place two ice cubes (enough to chill, but not too much to dilute). Add 3-4 dashes of Worcestershire sauce (not typical in a Michelada, but it adds that Bloody Mary element that I adore), anywhere from 3-8 dashes of your favorite hot sauce (I like it hot), and a good squeeze of lemon juice (lime juice is traditional, but I think the yellow citrus works better with the Worcestershire). Top with a light, inexpensive beer of your liking (I go for Narraganset), stir, and enjoy–with a straw (not optional).

DSCN1334

Several years ago I was fortunate enough not only to take a vacation with my family, but to take it in Hawaii. It was the perfect marriage of physical activities and pure laziness, and peppered throughout were many a mai tai. Being that it is summer and I cannot be much farther away from Hawaii if I tried, I thought it was high time I create my own version of this iconic libation that so impeccably represents the season.

DSCN1179

2 parts dark rum
1 part amaretto
1 part pineapple juice
Club soda (optional)

Combine rum, amaretto and pineapple juice and stir. Pour over ice and top with club soda, if desired.

Consume outdoors, guinea-style, like I do (and am doing, right now): in a lawn chair on my front porch. Perhaps I’ll pick a flower and stick it in my hair…Passersby, be jealous.