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A spin on a dish my dad and I made this past Christmas dinner. Beef Wellington (pate, mushroom duxelles, the whole bit) was served with roasted yukon gold potatoes and shallots, and a salad of shaved brussels sprouts, walnuts and apples julienne with a brown butter vinaigrette. Round two, here we go:

24 oz baby yukon gold potatoes
3 tbsp cup olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
10 oz brussels sprouts
1/2 apple (I used a Granny Smith for its tartness, but any crisp, firm apple will work)
4 oz pecorino, broken into small chunks
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 1/2 lemons

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
2. Toss the potatoes with 1 tbsp of the olive oil, salt and pepper, to taste. Roast for about 25 minutes or until fork-tender.
3. Meanwhile, trim the ends off the brussels sprouts, halve, and thinly slice.
4. Julienne the apple (and leave the skin on, will ya?).
5. Halve the potatoes and toss with the brussels sprouts, apple, pecorino, lemon zest and juice and the rest of the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

photo(2)This dish will do as a side, but I’ve been mackin’ on it for dinner the past few days and have not been sorry about it. You won’t be either.

It’s Spring, and I must accept it. I, the minority, am annoyed with the lack of the white stuff this winter, and the reality that I’ll have to let another year pass before I’ll be able to cruise down a mountain tumble down a hill on my snowboard on my butt.

To comfort my sorrows, I whipped up a big batch of arugula pesto. And it worked. I mean, who could complain while eating something that looks like this?:

In a food processor, combine arugula, Parmesan cheese, extra-virgin olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, pine nuts, and S & P, using water to thin it out to the desired consistency. Since only a small amount of arugula will fit in the food processor at a time, continue to add more arugula in batches, adjusting the other ingredients and seasoning to your taste.

I tossed the pesto with bow tie pasta, sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts, and a bit more grated Parmesan cheese on top.

And though I’m still not completely ready to start a new season, I look forward to the pesto.

Sometimes, citrus is not optional–it’s mandatory. Such is the case with this dessert (or hell–why can’t it be breakfast, too?).

You could make your own ricotta, but let’s tackle that at another time. Instead, purchase whole or part-skim ricotta and combine with sugar, to taste. Stir in lemon zest and lemon juice. Top with blackberries.

Despite its simplicity, lemon ricotta with blackberries is delightfully refreshing on a warm evening.

I did it. I followed a recipe. And it’s one I wouldn’t have thought up on my own. Except I did make a couple of changes (does that still count?).

Instead of high-quality crab, which, let’s face it, I just cannot afford, I opted for shrimp. Both are delicate and mildly sweet and I thought the swap would be appropriate. And because I couldn’t find the chiles that were called for, I used regular old jalapenos. I stuck with lemon zest and juice, but looking back I think lime would work well with the chiles.

The combination of heat, tart, and sweet worked beautifully (yes, beautifully) with the creaminess of the sauce, which was made by combining a crap load (official term) of butter with pasta cooking liquid.

My S.S. said it tasted healthy. “Is it healthy?” No, I’m sorry. It’s not. Keep your pants on.

Though the flavors and ingredients remind me of summer, this is a surprisingly hearty pasta dish perfect for a chilly winter’s dinner. Click here for the recipe.

It is not often that I have my S.S. splurge on groceries. Usually we rush through the grocery store, my list guiding the way, picking up inexpensive ingredients that are later transformed into something special.

This meal, instead, was centered around a nice big piece of meat. A little pricey, but simple enough that it can be easily executed in your underwear.

The steak gets the star treatment, but that doesn’t mean it needs a lot to make it taste good. A generous helping of S & P, a sear on both sides over high heat, and then 8 minutes in a 400-degree Fahrenheit oven made a perfectly medium-rare steak.

The special touch was the compound butter that slowly melted on top. In a bowl, combine softened butter, minced shallots, minced garlic, chopped fresh parsley, chopped fresh tarragon, lemon zest and S & P. Shape it into a log, pop it in the fridge and slice before serving (this is what we do at the FCI), or simply scoop it on top of the steak right when it comes out of the oven.

The steak needs little more than a simple salad (fennel and orange did just nicely) and a side of roasted potatoes to round out the meal.

And just wait till tomorrow’s post to see what I did with the leftovers.