Fresh Mozzarella Plate

The Oscars are on this weekend and more than anything, I can’t wait to see all the pretty dresses and I’m predicting the men will have some major beardage going on, a trend that I am ready to see on it’s way out, lol. (There is such a thing-as too much of a good thing.) And a good cheese platter is always nice to have nearby to munch on during commercial breaks. This is so easy to get together and comes together quickly. Serve with nice crusty bread on the side or Pane Guttiau (Sardinian Parchment Crackers) from Trader Joe’s…(ohh…so good.) Enjoy and have a great weekend!

  • fresh mozzarella, sliced
  • raw walnut halves
  • anchovies in olive oil
  • sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil
  • capers
  • celery leaves
  • olive oil for drizzling

Arrange everything and drizzle the mozzarella with a little olive oil. Allow to rest at room temperature for about an hour before serving.

DSC05531I really love this plate, lol. Three posts in a row…

Rosemary Almonds

It’s chilly today and cabin fever is hitting an all time high. A warm and toasty nibble is just the thing to brighten my day. Is that sad? Maybe, lol. (Deep sigh.) Anyways, back to that cabin fever…and comforting bowl of almonds…

  • 1 cup raw almonds
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon mix of finely and roughly chopped fresh rosemary
  • sea salt
  • fresh ground black pepper

In a non-stick pan, heat the oil and rosemary, until fragrant. Add in the almonds and season with salt and pepper. Saute on low-medium high heat for five minutes. Enjoy nice and warm. You’ll start hearing a little pop here and there. Sprinkle with crunchy sea flakes for extra saltiness. Serve on its’ own or on a cheese platter. Enjoy!

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The Great Gravlax Experiment: Fuggedabouit Method

The easiest method with really yummy results. This method has no aromatics except for juniper berries, no alcohol or need to flip at a certain time. This is by far the easiest way to make gravlax, you fuggedabouit and there it is, beautiful, almost silky with minimal effort. Enjoy!

  • 1/2 pound salmon filet with skin on
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 10 juniper berries, crushed

Divide the salt and juniper berries add the filet and cover with the rest of the salt and juniper berries. Cover with plastic wrap, about 3 layers. Top with either cardboard or a brown bag and top with a weight. I used a paver stone and a nice big rock. Fuggedabouit and allow to sit for a minimum of 2 days.

DSC05165Uncover and rinse off the salt, pat dry and cut into thin slices. Serve with thinly sliced bread, dried overnight, whipped cream cheese and capers.

DSC05206*The updated no-measure fuggedabouit method: I took a small non reactive pan to fit the piece of salmon and poured some salt on the bottom of it, along with a generous amount of juniper berries. I placed the salmon skin side up and covered it with more salt, ensuring that the sides are buried in salt. Cover with a few layers of plastic wrap, top with a paper bag and add your weights and wait it out. I waited a week with great results, although 2 days should do the trick. (Always use a little extra caution when eating raw fish.)

The Great Gravlax Experiment II: Fennel & Lemon

I admit, I’m obsessed and wanted to give it another whirl. I had some fennel tops in the fridge, thinking I would use them either in a soup or stew and then I thought why not use it to make gravlax? And it came out pretty good. I think juicing a lemon onto the fish, was a little bit of a mistake, even though, it did come out good. It added the slightest hint of bitterness. The slightest hint of bitterness. But it was still good…Really good, and the obsession continues…Enjoy!
DSC05160The ingredients:

  • 1 salmon portion, a pound, closest to the head
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup cane sugar
  • fennel tops
  • 1/4 cup cucumber vodka
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • freshly ground course black pepper

Combine the salt and the sugar. And slice up those fennel tops into thin slices along with that lemon.

DSC05134In a non-reactive container, layer the fennel slices, half of the salt mixture, ground pepper and half of the lemon slices. Top with the salmon, skin side down. Begin layering again, topping with the salt mixture, the lemon slices, fennel slices and the black pepper. Pour the vodka over the fish and around it. Wrap with plastic wrap a few times and apply a weight to it. Using a smaller dish with a weight in it is good or even a brown bag with the weights on that, is good too. Place in the fridge and wait 24 hours. After 24 hours, onto a dish, place what is on top of the fish and flip the fish over and cover with what was removed. (This is the part that I juiced in a lemon…not the best idea. Ignore that I even mentioned it. lol) Replace the plastic and weights and back into the fridge it goes for another 24 hours. It was about six on Saturday night and I flipped it again and had it the next morning…with flax crispbread, capers and mustard. Oh what a nice Sunday morning…

Start on a Thursday night to enjoy on Sunday morning…

The Great Gravlax Experiment: Dill & Clementine

I haven’t been this excited in the kitchen in a long time. I’ve always wanted to make my own cured salmon. And the other night, I was looking through the Joy of Cooking and saw a recipe for gravlax – the basics, being salt and lots of it. I was excited! I was going to bury a raw piece of fish in salt and come out with something delicious! I could barely wait to try this out! My brother-in-law brought over some pickling salt, was I excited- thinking this would be the perfect salt to use. It’s from the Klodawa salt mine, in central Poland, something I would love to see one day. As odd as it may sound, the salt smells beautiful. Most larger Polish delis carry it, if not, no worries, just use kosher salt. And so the fun began. I took so many more pictures than I usually do,step-by-step, some of them a little dark – because they are taken in our kitchen at night- but as I said, I was excited, lol. Hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did. It’s just in time for the holidays! Enjoy!

DSC05128         Ingredients needed:

  • 1 pound piece salmon, cut towards the head
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup cane sugar
  • 1 bunch dill
  • 1 clementine, cut into 8 slices
  • about 10 juniper berries
  • 1/4 cup cucumber vodka

In a non-reactive dish, place the dill on the bottom of the dish, top with clementine slices and half the juniper berries…

DSC05083Combine the salt and sugar and spread half of it over the layered dill, clementines and juniper berries…sprinkle with half of the vodka.

DSC05088Next, top with the salmon, skin side down, top with the clementines, juniper berries…

DSC05090Top with the remaining salt mixture and vodka…

DSC05092Add on that dill…

DSC05094Next, wrap with plastic wrap, about three times, allowing some give – pressing down onto the salmon. Top with a weight. I didn’t have a smaller dish, so I improvised…at least it made me laugh..place in the fridge for one day…

DSC05095After 24 hours, this is what it looks like. Set the topping aside and flip the salmon over, replacing the topping on the skin side of the salmon, rewrap with the plastic wrap and top with the weights.

DSC05101Allow to sit in fridge for one more day…I couldn’t wait to try it as planned, three days and tried it at the end of two days…and it was good…so good…Just wash off the salt and pat dry. Cut into thin silky slices…

DSC05103The next morning, more like afternoon- about 18 hours later and it tasted no different than the night before…meaning more gravlax….sooner than later…Pair with crispbread, bagels or a good crusty loaf of bread – shhhmeared with whipped cream cheese and adorned with capers, radish slices, thin onion rings with creamy sweet mustard on the side and you’ve got a great appetizer for the holidays or any special occasion.

DSC05108And so, that concludes the great gravlax experiment. Can’t wait for next time…

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Pear & Pecorino Romano Plate

I always love a salty and sweet fruit and cheese platter. It’s the perfect ending to a meal, (or beginning.) Top with some baby arugula for a nice salad. You want to use a contrasting plate so the pear and cheese stand out. Serve at room temperature so the flavors develop. Enjoy!

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  • 1 ripe Bartlett pear, peeled
  • a few shavings of Pecorino Romano cheese
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • a good fruity balsamic vinegar
  • a little lemon juice

Using a mandoline cut your pear into very thin slices. Toss with a few drops of lemon juice, so they don’t brown. Let it sit for a few minutes and then dry them off with a paper towel. Arrange them on a plate in a layer or two. Top with the shavings of Pecorino Romano cheese and the pepper. Serve with a small bowl of the balsamic vinegar. Serves 1.

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Tequila Tilapia Ceviche

I love ceviche and the weather is just perfect for it. It’s still sunny and so warm in the sun…It’s a typical autumn day with the coolness greeting your mornings, where a hot coffee is enjoyed instead of the iced summer version, followed by the warm sun on your skin in the afternoon, where you can still get away with flip-flops and ends with a double comforter on the bed for the chilly night. Savor this on a still-warm autumn afternoon. This is a nice appetizer for an early autumn barbeque, maybe after coming home from some apple picking. Enjoy!

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  • 1 pound tilapia
  • 4 limes, juiced plus an extra lime for garnishing
  • 1 teaspoon Tequila, or a little more if you like
  • sea salt
  • black sea salt for garnish
  • fresh cilantro or sorrel leaves for garnish

You want to take out a 13×9 glass baking dish for holding the fish. I find this size is perfect to hold the fish in one layer, which is what you want. Cut the fish at an angle, so they are all pretty uniformly thin. Hold the fish down and cut at an angle. (Practice makes perfect with this.) Place them in the dish. Combine the lime juice, Tequila and a little sea salt and pour over the fish. Cover and place into the fridge, until the lime juice turns the fish opaque. Usually two hours is good enough. These are really nice served in small appetizer size bowls. Run a cut lime around the edge and press the edge of the bowl into the black salt. Garnish with the cilantro or sorrel and with a slice of lime. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Makes 4-6 appetizers.

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Periwinkles with Butter & Garlic

Awhile back, I got to experience periwinkles. It happened out of sheer curiosity, which is the best way to create recipes and they were delicious. They aren’t for everyone; it’s not everyone’s dream dinner to go digging into these little shells but it sure was good. And if I ever did happen to run into a bunch again, I will surely bring home a bag for dinner. If you do see them at the fish market, don’t be turned off, as they are a little muddy and that could make you look the other way but stay with me, with a little butter and garlic, everything can be transformed into a delicious and in this case a little more adventurous dinner. And the theory that when you eat slow, you get filled up faster, is at play here, as you have no choice but to pick them out with a straight pin. There is a little scale of a door to get into the delicateness inside, so it’s a little bit of a different way to get into your dinner. This is nice to share with someone you are close to, as it’s a little messy but fun! Enjoy!

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  • a cup and a half of fresh periwinkles
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, smashed and minced
  • 1 tablespoon Moscato wine
  • some fresh parsley, minced

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Step one is to rinse, rinse and rinse your periwinkles, until the water is clear and they are clean of mud. In a heavy bottomed pot, combine the butter, olive oil and garlic on low heat and saute, watching closely so the garlic does not brown; stirring often. Add in the periwinkles, arranging them so they fit in one layer. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often. Add in the wine and parsley and cook for another 5 minutes. Give it a try, the little “doors” should come off fairly easily and then you know your periwinkles are done. Serves 2.

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Pine Scented Pork Belly

I wish I didn’t like bacon as much as I do but I really like it. Really like it. It’s the one thing I truly missed during my long lost vegetarian days. And my favorite thing to get at a Colombian restaurant is a juicy chicharron with spicy green sauce on the side. And if I am at a Polish deli, I can’t resist the roasted slab of bacon waiting to be ordered. So I thought wouldn’t it be nice to experiment a little and grill some fresh bacon with pine branches, infusing a little of that fragrance into the bacon. This is a rustic appetizer, best served with a variety of mustards on the side. Even better enjoyed on the deck, on a lazy Sunday afternoon with a pitcher of lemonade to wash things down. Enjoy!

DSC03444/roasted pork

  • 2 pieces of pork belly
  • fresh pine branches
  • sea salt
  • maple grilling plank
  • kitchen twine

Submerge the plank, twine and branches under water for a minimum of 1 hour. (The plank I used was about 6 inches wide.) Pre-heat the grill to 250-300 degrees. In the meantime, sea with salt and surround the pork belly with the pine tree branches and tie with kitchen twine, trimming the excess.

DSC03438/pork belly on plank

Place on the plank and place on the top rack of the grill. Turn every half an hour for four hours. Low and slow is key, so the fat renders and the skin gets crisp and the pork is golden brown or darker in color. Remove from the grill and allow to cool enough to handle, so you can cut off the twine and brush off the pine needles and branches. This is best served hot.

DSC03493/ pork with mustard

Cannellini Bean, Potato & Beef Marrow Bowl/Spread

I always thought of beans, potatoes and beef marrow as hearty winter food but if you serve it warm; at room temperature with a green salad on the side, it becomes a nice change from the ordinary warm weather dinner fare. But what’s even more special is the spread version; creamy with the potatoes and beans; super flavorful with the fatty marrow. Serve with salty anchovies and capers on the side for a nice contrast. Mmmm…it’s really so good and a nice addition to your table for a party. Serve with some gluten free crispbread and you have a completely gluten free appetizer. Enjoy!

  • 1&1/2 cups cannellini beans, soaked overnight
  • 2 small Yukon Gold pototoes, diced to about the size of the beans
  • 4 small marrow bones, about an inch thick or a little larger
  • 4 cups water
  • a few allspice berries
  • sea salt
  • anchovies
  • capers
  • olive oil
  • fresh ground black pepper

In a large Dutch oven, combine the beans, potatoes, beef bones, the allspice berries, water and sea salt. Bring to a boil on high heat. Once it is at a rolling boil, lower the heat to low and simmer for about an hour and a half, until the beans are soft and tender. Serve as is at room temperature, (discarding the berries) with a sprinkling of fresh ground black pepper for a meal. (The beef marrow is really flavorful. If you are not a fan of beef marrow, you can always, of course, leave it out.) Or if making the spread, remove the marrow from the bones and let the mixture cool completely. Once cool, remove the allspice berries and puree with a hand immersion blender and serve with anchovies, capers, olive oil and fresh ground black pepper. This is nice, as you can have some for dinner and have the leftovers made into the spread. Makes 5 cups.

This cat has some mind control over me, for sure, as I just can’t get enough of this plate, lol!