Soup, Stew and a Snow Storm at Sue’s

This storm was so big, it had a name:  Jonas.  With nearly record-breaking snowfall what’s an apartment bound New Yorker to do?  Cook and eat of course!!!!  We love sitting around and sharing a cheese and meat plate before dinner.  This soup is real comfort food and perfect for the first night of a blizzard.  Get the recipe here.  Comfort Soup

Dinner that night was my grandmother’s Irish stew.  A real stick to your ribs meal.

...now THAT's comfort food... stew with dumplings

…now THAT’s comfort food… stew with dumplings.

If you simply follow the steps in my handwritten recipe, you’ll create a great stew.  The dumplings are right here:  Dumplings!

final_300dpiThe Divas dish on Sue’s dish.     Sue:  I’ll mention a couple of things about the stew and dumplings.  You can use chuck cut into 2 inch pieces for the stew.  Be very patient browning it.  If you crowd too much in the pot at once the meat steams rather than browns.  Use 2 tbsp of butter to brown the meat.  Add more butter if you need to — it’s just stew not some secret formula.  When making the dumplings don’t over mix them.  The batter  will be very lumpy.  When you drop them into the stew it thickens the broth.  Mimi:  It absolutely tickles me to go through Sue’s ancient recipes and discover these handwritten, well-worn pieces of paper.  That’s how you know it’s good food … they’ve stood the test of time.  I’m  not a big root vegetable or leek fan so I’ll pass on the soup.  But, that stew with dumplings …oh boy… get in my belly now!  My first attempt at making dumplings was a real mess so, I definitely should give it another shot.

 

 

Spaghetti Puttanesca — the “Bad Girl’s” Pasta

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July 24,2015 I posted pasta puttanesca — the summer version — you don’t  cook the sauce, just toss the ingredients.  Here’s the winter version which is just as delicious and easy, easy easy!!!  I used Rachael Ray’s recipe but honestly there’s a million puttanesca recipes online.  Just google it.

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The Divas “dish” on Mimi’s dish.    Mimi:  What can I say?  When I’m feeling lazy (that’s my version of being a “bad girl”), this is a go to meal.  Other than using Kalamata olives, I followed Rachael’s recipe to the letter.  Some people don’t serve this with grated cheese because anchovies and cheese don’t go together.  I kind of like the cheese.  Sue:  In our family, serving the cheese would be a big no no!  Traditional Italians do not put cheese on this pasta.  When I make it I leave the capers out  — no one in our family likes capers.  Cheese? … capers? … like I always say:  “to each his own”.  

Paiche — Looks Ugly, Tastes Great!

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The guy at Whole Foods suggested I try paiche as an alternative to halibut.  At 1/3 the cost of halibut per pound, I figured, why not?  How bad could it be?  I served it with a quinoa pilaf that I found on the Whole Foods website.  The fish and pilaf were delicious.  Here’s the recipe I adapted for my meal:  Quinoa Pilaf.

final_300dpiThe Divas “dish” on Mimi’s dish    Mimi:  Google paiche and you’ll see what I mean by ugly.  It’s not for nothing that the reality show “River Monsters” featured this hideous fish.  UGH!  So, anyway it’s very mild and tastes great.  I used a very light touch with cajun seasoning that I rubbed on  the fillets before sauteéing them in a little olive oil.  The large tomatoes didn’t look so great so, I substituted grape tomatoes which are always sweet and diva-licious.   Sue:  Hmm  … quinoa isn’t really on my “go to” list for side dishes, but this looks like a great pilaf, especially with the spinach and tomato combo.  There’s probably a lot of different nice, mild, white fish that could be substituted in this recipe.  I think I’ll give halibut a try since my husband and I love it.

Red Snapper … Saturday Night Dinner in a Snap!

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New Year’s resolution number one:  go back to eating healthy, the party’s over!  I’m always looking for interesting fish ideas and this recipe in the January issue of Food & Wine Magazine just jumped off the page.  Jonathan Waxman is known for mastering the perfect roasted chicken … and I’d say he’s  also mastered this delicious Asian influenced red snapper recipe.  Red Snapper in a snap!

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Divas “dish” on Mimi’s dish.  I had to make a number of changes in this recipe.  I couldn’t find fermented black beans (or black bean sauce) so I skipped that ingredient. Even though it’s not a substitute, I added a dash of fish sauce.  The store had no small bok choy so I just bought the large.  Finally, I had no rosé wine, so I used a dry but creamy chardonnay.  Even with all these changes, the meal was so good it’s now on my list of “go to” fish dishes.  Sue.  My husband and I love red snapper so, I’ll definitely be trying out this recipe.  I’m pretty impressed with Mimi’s substitutions … she’s usually “by the book” so this was pretty daring for her!

New Year’s Day Breakfast Treat

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I think if I was willing to make them, my husband would eat huevos rancheros every day of his life.  For a special new year treat, I whipped some up this morning.  I adapted this recipe, which seemed fairly simple, from an article in the Wall Street Journal. Huevos Rancheros

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Divas “dish” on Mimi’s dish.  I made the sauce a day ahead of time so the flavors would  meld and I adjusted the recipe to include refried beans and chorizo sausage.  Instead of garnishing with avocado, I used queso fresca … simply because this is the way he likes his huevos.  There is an old wives’ tale that what you do on the first day of the year sets the tone for the rest of the year.  As far as this breakfast, I’m sure my husband hopes this is the case!  Sue.  I make a hearty breakfast for my husband every morning … this might be a little too much for a weekday.  But, after a celebration with much wine, food and song, a breakfast like this might be just what the doctor ordered!

Post Holiday … Easy Elegant Dinner

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One holiday party and two holiday dinners later … did I remember to take a single picture? Nope!  So no holiday postings for me.  I guess I took a page from Sue’s book and decided to have a good time instead!!!

Saturday after Christmas, I’m craving something a little elegant (but easy).  Where do I turn?  To the French of course who, clearly, epitomize easy elegance.  Click on the link that follows for the Roasted Chicken Provençal recipe and enjoy your own stress free post holiday evening: Easy Elegant Dinner .

I served this with a baguette, a light salad of baby greens dressed with white balsamic vinaigrette and Kermit Lynch Côtes du Rhône.

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Divas dish on Mimi’s dish.  I made a few minor adjustments to this recipe.  I used 1/2 cup of vermouth because 1/3 cup did not look like enough in the pan.  During the second 1/2 hour of baking, I switched the oven to convection roast to brown the chicken.  If you don’t have a convection oven, you may need to place the pan under the broiler to get a nice crisp golden brown skin.  Sue:  HA!!! I love that Mimi  got so caught up in her celebrations that she forgot to take pictures … what a break through!  I’m always cooking for a crowd so this recipe looks like it’s right up my alley.  I’m definitely going to try it and maybe I’ll remember to take a picture to post with Mimi’s.  I hope so!

The Season’s Last Hurrah!

I realized that I let the summer slip away without hosting a big blow out celebration.  So, last-minute, I invited some of our favorite people over for bouillabaisse.  Here’s a peek at our evening.

We always say:  search your home for treasures to use in decorating.  The flowers are in pails from used citronella candles.  I cleaned them up and antiqued them with a little gold paint.  The flowers?  Wegmans!  Can  you beat $20 for 2 dozen long stems?

The lights evoke  childhood memories of catching fire flies in mason jars at dusk.

Menu

Gougéres
Champagne Jean-Noël Haton Brut Blanc de Balnc Millésime 2005

The Grand Aioli
2014 Underwood Rosé
Caves des Grands Crus Blancs Pouilly-Fuissé 2014

Boullabaisse
Croutons with red pepper rouille
Clarendelle Blanc 2012
Le Sot de L’Ange La Boutanche Rosé

Cheese Plate:  Coulommiers, Comté and Stilton
Peller Estates Ice Wine Riesling 2013

Chocolate Pots de Creme

Here are the recipes for gougères and easy aioli.  I relied on a recipe from Tyler Florence as a start for my bouillabaisse.  Here it is:  bouillabaisse.  Believe me I didn’t follow his recipe step by step — too complicated.  The chocolate pots de creme recipe is Martha Stewart’s — you will never go wrong with her!  Here is her recipe:  pots de creme.

final_300dpiThe Divas “Dish” on Mimi’s Dishes.   Don’t be intimidated by gougères.  Once you master the dough it’s a snap!  I’ve always wanted to do an authentic “grand aioli” which is an informal meal that includes poached fish.  I thought a version of it would be fun … sitting around the table with wine before the main event.  I don’t make my fish stock for bouillibaisse, I use seafood stock — just as good, a lot less work.  I use triple the amount of vegetables that the recipe calls for and I have a heavy hand with fresh fennel, fennel seeds and Pernod.  I like a very strong expression of the vegetables and aromatics in the broth.  I purée half of the vegetables and stir them into the strained broth.  Experiment!  Have fun!  It’s just food, not brain surgery … years later I’m still tweaking it.  The red pepper rouille was easy and delicious with the meal.   No picture of the cheese plate — sorry.  Coulommiers is French brie — creamy, nutty, wonderful with wine.  Comté is a nice mild French hard cheese and Stilton isn’t French but my husband loves it, so I serve it.  First attempt at pots de creme — they tasted better than that picture looks (thank goodness!)

Sue.  I was so sorry to miss Mimi’s party — it’s been a busy busy summer with family and friends of the family visiting almost every weekend!!  Anyway,  I love Mimi’s bouillabaisse and have had it many times.  It’s the best I’ve ever tasted.  Good thing she makes it — too many complicated steps for me to tackle.  I don’t have the patience.  And boy those gougéres look good — with champagne!  My husband says if he could drink nothing but champagne, he would.