Sunday, February 28, 2010

Some serious Sunday BBQ eats....

I love a good BBQ and today it finally wasn't raining and the weather outside was lovely enough to light up that grill and get cookin'!  Steaks, Ribs, Chicken & Grilled Veggies.... Orecchetti & Cheese, Salad & Corn on the Cob.  It was some serious Sunday eats! 

Cooking away....

Ribs, Steak, Chicken & Veggies on the BBQ

Orecchetti (little ears) 

Cook Orecchetti al dente, then toss with some mozzarella cheese and top with breadcrumbs. 

Sprinkle the top with a little more freshly grated Mozzarella and top with Cream, Butter & Chicken Stock that's been simmered on the cook top. 
Cook covered in the oven for 40 min on 400 degrees.

Orecchetti Macaroni & Cheese 

Arugula Cherry Tomatoes Red Onion & Cucumber Salad


Corn on the Cob

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Leek Gratin....the belle of the ball.

The belle of the ball...Leek Gratin
Have you ever gone into the supermarket and seen these giant looking scallions?  Well, that’s a leek.  Only this onion on steroids doesn’t taste anything like a scallion but a refined, subtle, mild, delicate, clean tasting onion.  They are fabulous in soups, fish dishes, braised, blanched, poached or in this case made into a gratin. 

I happen to love leeks and I try to cook with them as often as possible.  I sometimes make pilaf and sauté them in some butter and cook along with the rice… I use them in most of my fish dishes and almost every soup I make… they’re what you call my “go to” onion.  But I’ve never really thought of them as something you could eat on their own.  That was until tonight.  I had never made them like this before and I have to tell you… they were the belle of the ball tonight on our dinner table.  Everyone enjoyed them and they were light and savory and really outstanding, if I do say so myself.  I made some oven baked chicken breasts that were lightly breaded and some pilaf and it was delicious.  

So here it is, my lovely little belle… ma cherie… Leek Gratin
(ok, I’m getting carried away with my food! I know, I can’t help it!!!)

Leek Gratin

The Leeks

15-20  Leeks Cut in half, using only the white onion part.
Place halved leeks in boiling salted water for 8 minutes.  Remove and place into an ovenproof casserole dish that has been coated with non-stick spray.

The Sauce

½ cup flour
3 ½ tablespoons butter (cut in small pieces)
Salt & white pepper

This light based roux sauce really adds a creamy-ness to the gratin that can’t be duplicated otherwise. 

Put the flour into a medium size pot and gradually add 1/3 cup cold water, to make a paste.  In a separate pot, heat 2 cups of water.  As soon as it comes to a boil, pour slowly into the paste whisking gently and continuously. Add your salt & white pepper.  Cook on low heat, stirring occasionally for 5-7 more minutes.  Do not add the butter until you are just about to pour it over your leeks.

Place cooked leeks into a casserole dish or individual mini casserole dishes.  Coat the leeks with the white sauce and sprinkle a bit of grated gruyere cheese on top.  Bake in an oven that has been preheated to 400 degrees for 25 minutes or until the top is golden brown. 

Make sure that you soak and rinse the leeks very well in cold water to remove any excess sand or dirt. 
Do not overcook the leeks in the hot water or else they will turn to mush.
Don’t discard the top green part of the leek as you can use it for soup stock.  It has excellent flavor!

Seared Scallops

A Great Light Lunch or Dinner!!!

Never been a huge supporter of scallops.  I’ve found them to be chewy, fishy and well all around unappealing… (WOW I’m REALLY TRYING TO SELL THIS! Ha ha ha!) That was of course until I tried this simple, easy & light recipe for basic seared scallops. 
If prepared the right way, it can open up your eyes to the possibility of just how delicious these little sea creatures can actually be!

Give them a try if you’ve never had them before… I just might change your mind  with this recipe!

Seared Scallops

1 to 1 ¼ pounds Sea Scallops
2 teaspoons clarified butter
1 tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Sea Salt
½ juice of lemon

Remove the small side muscle from the scallop, as it’s chewy.  Rinse with cold water and pat the scallops dry througly.   Season on all sides with the Old Bay, Salt & Pepper. (If you can’t find Old Bay, any Cajun or seafood seasoning will do)

Add the clarified butter to the sauté pan on high heat.
Place each scallop down, making sure they aren’t touching.  Sear each scallop for about 1-2 minutes on each side.  Be careful not to over cook them as they will become super chewy if you do!  Cook until there is a nice golden brown crust on either side, leaving the inside slightly translucent in the center. 

Remove from the pan and set aside, add the juice of the ½ of the lemon to the pan, making sure to scrape up all the goodie bits from the bottom… this will be your sauce. 

Serve on top of a salad with a light lemon & olive oil vinaigrette and it’s truly a masterpiece. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Linguini con Vongole

Linguini con Vongole

I’m so happy that most of you suggested on the fan page that I should make Linguini con Vongole (Clams) in a white sauce and not a red!  Now I’m not saying I’m not a fan of the red myself, but I too prefer the white and I gotta say it’s a little bit easier to make!

Linguini con Vongole (a.k.a. linguini with clams) is one of my favorite classic Italian dishes.  Most places that you’ll order this dish in a restaurant will serve it with canned clams, which I think is just really unfortunate, because to me there truly is no substitute for the real thing!  You can find fresh clams in most super markets or from your local fish market.  I am fortunate enough to live around the block from one of the most amazing fish and seafood mongers ever!  They always have fresh fish and that’s probably why I cook with it so much!   This is a wonderfully light dish to have with an arugula salad and a glass of dry white wine…. at least that’s how we do it!  Either way, I hope you enjoy it!

Linguini con Vongole

2 Pounds of Clams (Butter, Cockle, or Littleneck are my favorites)
½ cup Dry White Wine
1 pound Linguini
¼ cup Olive Oil
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
1 small Shallot, minced
¼ cup chopped Flat Leaf Italian Parsley
2 tablespoons butter

Bring 4 Quarts of water to a boil in a large pot.

Rinse your clams well to remove any excess sand or dirt that may be on it.  I usually soak mine in some cold water and let them sit there for a few minutes before I’m ready to use them.  In a large sauté pan that has a lid, add butter, oil, shallots & garlic cloves and sweat for 3-5 minutes.  Begin cooking pasta in large pot of water.  Add Clams & white wine and cover with a lid.  Cook on med-high heat until all of the clams have opened.  This usually takes about 8-10 minutes.  Remove Clams from sauté pan and set aside in a large bowl (discard any clams that have not opened) reserving the liquid in the pan.  Add the parsley, pepper flakes and pasta to this liquid in the pan and allow to cook for a minute or two. 


Place pasta in a bowl and serve with clams on top.  Garnish with a bit of additional parsley and or pepper flakes!  Buenissimo! 

Cook pasta slightly al dente as it will continue cooking for those last 2 minutes in the clam juice.  
Make sure to discard any clams that do not open.  If they don't open that means they aren't meant to be eaten! 
If you must, add a can of clams to the liquid and cook with the pasta if you don't have enough clams for your liking. 

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Ni Hao Wontons!

I think in a past life I must have been Chinese because I tell ya, I can’t eat enough Chinese food.  I love it all. Mu Shu Chicken, Sezchuan Eggplant, Fried Rice, Chow Mein, Eggrolls and one of my absolute favs, Wontons.  I love them in soup and I especially love them crispy.  This is a fairly simple recipe for Wontons and although most savory ones are filled with pork, I happen to use ground chicken and they turn out just as good!  Give them a try, it’s not nearly as hard as you think to make those little bows.

Ni Hao Wontons

½ pound ground chicken, pork or turkey (whichever one you prefer)
3 scallions finely sliced
2 teaspoons finely diced fresh ginger
1 ½  teaspoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon chili oil
2 tablepoons light soy sauce
½ teaspoon garlic powder

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Place in refrigerator until ready to use.
(this mixture can sit for a few minutes to allow flavors to settle in a bit)

Remove wonton wrappers from package.

Place a teaspoon of the meat mixture  into the center of the wonton skin. Brush a small amount of water or egg white around the edge of the wonton.

Fold up to make a triangle shape.

Bring both ends together, using your finger to press up the middle of the triangle to help it bend a little bit.  Dab a bit of egg white on the end to help it stick together.

Repeat this process until you finish all the mixture and or skins.

In a medium size saucepan or wok if you have one, drop into oil and fry for about 5-7 minutes turning over a few times to make sure both sides are golden brown.

Remove from oil and allow excess oil to drain on a paper towel.

Serve with a dipping sauce… Sweet & Sour Sauce or this easy soy dipping sauce.

3 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
½ teaspoon Sesame Oil
Dash of Chili Oil
1 Scallion or 1 Teaspoon Chopped Cilantro

Look for Ginger that's fresh, that has luster to it and that the skin is not dull or brown.  Remove the outer skin before using it either with a knife or a peeler. 
If you don't use it often, you can put the rest of your ginger into a ziplock and place it in the freezer for up to a month.  

 I asked for a wok this year for my birthday but no one listened…ha ha ha!  If anyone knows of a great wok that’s worth the purchase…  please feel free to send me an e mail with the link to Thanks everyone!
In addition… Ni Hao is the extent of my command of the Chinese language and you have my children’s show Ni Hao Kai Lan to thank for that! I can also say Grandpa in Chinese too… but that’s a whole ‘nother blog entry! For now, enjoy the wontons! 

G.T.L.T. -Glamorous Tuna Fish Lettuce Tomato...

It’s Sunday afternoon and I felt like something light and easy… or shall I say my husband was hungry and I didn’t feel like cooking! So I thought, how about a PB& J???… nah… heat up some of the kids chicken nuggets from the freezer????… nah… ahhh… how about old faithful… a tuna fish sandwich!  But I wasn’t in the mood for just your average Tuna Sammie… I wanted the real deal… good tuna fish packed in olive oil… so I ran over to Whole Foods and found this fabulous can of Tuna from Sicily.  It was a little bit more pricey- but I gotta say, well worth it!  I paired it up with some veggie chips, sliced tomato and pepperoncini and it was a fine Sunday afternoon lunch if I do say so myself!

Glamorous Tuna Fish Sunday Sammie

1 Can Tuna Fish packed in Oil
2 Scallions Finely Chopped
¼ Red Onion Finely Chopped
3 Cornichons (French Pickles) Finely Diced
Salt & Pepper

Sliced Tomatoes, Cucumber, Red Onion
Mache or Arugula

Mini Pita Pockets Heated on the Panini Press or in the oven for a few minutes

There’s no need for any additional mayo as the Tuna is packed in Olive Oil and makes for a good creamy tuna fish.
Add some herbs to it… fresh dill or tarragon adds so much!
Don’t like cornichons or can’t find them… add a spoonful of relish

Mache is a woodsy lettuce that can be found in most specialty supermarkets. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Lime Ceviche.... YUM!

Ceviche.  Almost anyone that's ever been to a Latin country will tell you they've had it.  For those of you that don’t know what Ceviche is let me give you a teeny bit of  back ground on it… it is basically raw seafood or shellfish that is “cooked” in lime, lemon, orange or even grapefruit juice.  It’s typically thought of as a Peruvian dish but it’s prevalent in most Latin American countries and each one has their own twist on it.  From Mexico to Ecuador, Philippines to Panama…. everyone’s got their own spin on this fresh fish dish.

I have issues with Ceviche though.  It’s sort of a love hate kinda thing.  I absolutely love the idea of raw seafood being cooked or macerated in lime juice, but can’t stand cilantro!  Yes, I know… It’s an absurd thing not to like, but I’m not alone in my distain for cilantro, or so I’d like to think! And well, most ceviche is made with it.  So I’ve got a fair compromise… I don’t order it in restaurants and make it myself and make just my portion with out it.  My husband tells me every time I’m not getting the “true” ceviche experience but hell, I’m ok with that!

I’m not quite sure where or what region you’d say mine is from… I take a little bit from here and a little bit from there, but I do know one thing… it’s YUM! (even with out cilantro!) For the sake of argument today, I made mine with cilantro! So ceviche enthusiasts there you have it! 
 I hope you enjoy this recipe!


1 pound of firm fresh red snapper 
(cut into small ½ inch pieces)
½ pound bay shrimp
½ pound bay scallops
½ cup fresh squeezed lime juice
¼ cup lemon juice
½ of each-red & yellow bell pepper finely diced
½ red onion finely diced
1 tablespoon salt
½  jalapeno finely diced
½ bunch cilantro chopped
Pinch of Cayenne or Tabasco

In a glass pyrex bowl (do not use aluminum, it is reactive and will discolor the fish as it’s mascerating) place the all the ingredients together and give it a gentle mix.  Cover and place in the refrigerator and allow to sit for at least one hour.  Remove after an hour give it a more through stir and put it back into the fridge for at least another hour or two…. the longer the fish is exposed to the citrus acid, the tastier it’s going to be and it will absorb the all of the flavors.

The fish will turn color while it’s marinating.  It will start off as a pink raw looking color and slowly turn into a white opaque color. 
It can sit for up to 24 hours before serving!
Chopped avocado is fantastic in this dish as well! 

Serve individually in martini glasses with some tostada shells on the side! 

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Comme Ça

I don't normally write about restaurants that I go to, as I'm not a restaurant critic nor am I going to turn into one on this blog... but OH MY!  I went to a restaurant last night called Comme Ça.  The food is absolutely spectacular!  I can't think of anything that we had that wasn't just perfect!  So perfect in fact that I took pictures with my cell phone! (yes, I went there) 

In any case, thought I'd share them with all of you! 
If you're ever in Los Angeles, please go to Comme Ça or go to and you can read all about them there!

Mushroom Risotto
Creamed Spinach

Heritage Pork Chop

Fromage Platter
(I'm not a huge Blue Cheese Fan and that was just about the best Blue Cheese I've ever had!)