Thursday, May 2nd, 2013

Heirloom Caprese Salad with Crostoni Bagnati

Heirloom tomatoes don’t need much, and in the summertime when they are at their peak, a simple caprese salad is an absolute staple. In the end, a recipe might be a bit silly…it’s just tomato and cheese with basil and some oils to taste. But I really like the crostoni (a large crostini) technique (Bagnati is Italian for “wet”, from the oil, and the garlic rub is very effective). Also, I think the presentation came out nice. All this to say: relax, play it by ear, and let the ingredients shine.

Ingredients, Crostoni Bagnati

  • 6 1/2"-thick slices ciabatta, cut on extreme diagonal
  • Extra-virgin olive oil (for brushing)
  • 1 garlic clove, halved
  • 6 tablespoons high-quality extra-virgin olive oil (for drizzling)
  • Maldon sea salt or fleur de sel

Directions, Crostoni Bagnati

  1. Position a rack in middle of oven; preheat to 350°.
  2. Place bread slices on a rimmed baking sheet; brush tops with olive oil. Bake until golden brown and crispy, 15-20 minutes.
  3. Rub oiled sides of crostoni with cut side of garlic. Drizzle 1 tablespoon high-quality oil over each crostoni. Sprinkle with sea salt.

*Serves 6 with 2 wedges each. You can cut down a ciabatta roll for a smaller portion if you have that on hand.

Ingredients, Caprese Salad

  • 4 large multi-colored heirloom tomatoes, washed and dried
  • Maldon sea salt or fleur de sel
  • 1 large (~8oz) ball Buffalo mozzerella cheese (or Burrata)
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, washed and dried
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for garnish
  • Balsamic reduction or glaze (I use Gia Russa), for garnish
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions, Caprese Salad

  1. Slice tomatoes into 1/2" slices
  2. Slice cheese into 1/4" slices
  3. Chiffonade the basil
  4. Stack the tomatoes and cheese large to small, alternating between tomato and cheese.
  5. Garnish with salt, pepper, oils, basil, crostoni and serve.

*Serves 4.

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

Deviled Eggs

Hard boiling: Figuring out how to hard boil a fresh egg, that could peel, was surprisingly if embarrassingly challenging. But peeling alone won’t do, the white should be set but not rubbery, and the yolk should be set but not dry (and especially not green).

Some Background:

I started with the, somewhat standard, method of bringing “cool” water with the eggs to a boil, and then removing from heat and covering for 10 or so minutes. This method was inconsistent at best, and very difficult to peel with fresh eggs, yielding unsightly pot marks. I then added salt and (1/4 cup) vinegar to the water, and dropped the eggs into boiling water to simmer for 14 minutes. These results were consistent and peeled well, but because the outside cooks so much faster than the yolk at the higher heat it was impossible to get the perfectly tender whites (borderline rubbery).

Finally I attempted to steam the eggs (per Alton Brown) and after some trial and error with timing and temperature, found a simple, consistent method that yields tender whites and creamy but solid yolks with as few cooking variables as possible. Additionally, it takes less time, energy, and water with this method. I may still revisit that original method, adding the “hole punch” to aid in peeling, but right now steaming is both simple and consistent. In any case I recommend you see what works for you, there’s more than one way…

Some quick tips:

  • Store eggs in the carton on their side (with a rubber band to hold the container together) so that the yolks are better centered.
  • To test for done-ness the egg should spin on a counter top almost endlessly. If the egg only makes it a few rotations on the counter, it’s contents are still liquid.
  • To peel, crack the shell in a few places with the back of the spoon and roll along the counter top, and remove shell under running water.

As for the deviling: I offer a very basic recipe that can be modified (but needn’t be) for 8 eggs and my favorite recipe for 12 eggs with heavy influence from Michael Schwartz. I suggest a food processor for a smooth filling, and if you are making enough a pastry bag with a wide tip is both faster and prettier. I also much prefer the eggs cut crosswise, not lengthwise, for both taste (proportions) and visual appeal. The egg halves deserve a healthy amount of filling, so you will likely not fill them all…better to leave a few out than skimp.

To Hard Cook Eggs (Steaming Method)

  1. Bring eggs to room temperature or run briefly under warm water. Much like a steak a cold product will cook poorly.
  2. Bring a stock pot (with a steamer basket) with 3 cups of water to a boil over medium-high heat (about 1/2 an inch).
  3. Add eggs to steamer basket
  4. Let steam, covered, at medium-high heat for 10 minutes (for golden, creamy, barely set yolks. After 13 minutes and the whites get firmer and yolks more dry, which is okay for some applications like salads).
  5. Remove from steamer basket using tongs and transfer to ice bath for 5 minutes

Ingredients (Colin’s Favorite)

  • 12 hard-boiled eggs
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise, preferably homemade
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (to taste, I like a rounded tablespoon)
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 2 dashes Habañero hot sauce (to taste, up to 4 but I like 3)
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 bunch fresh chives, minced

Tools (Colin’s Favorite)

  • Cutting Board, Knife
  • Large bowl for ice bath
  • Stock Pot or large saucepan with steamer basket
  • Food Processor and Pastry Sieve with larger tip

Directions (Colin’s Favorite)

  1. Peel and slice eggs in half crosswise, using a pairing knife to carefully cut the bottom so they stand upright.
  2. Scoop out the egg yolks and place egg white halves on a tray.
  3. Add to the food processor the yolks, mayo, lemon juice, hot sauce, salt, pepper, mustard, and half the paprika. Process until very smooth.
  4. Using a spatula move the mixture to the pastry bag, squeezing the contents to the bottom and twisting the top. A larger pastry tip will work better.
  5. Fill the egg whites with the mixture, adding plenty to each egg. You may not fill all the halves, and this is okay.
  6. Sprinkle with remaining paprika and chives.

*Makes 18-24 deviled eggs (halves). Good loosely covered for a day or so.

Ingredients (Basic Recipe)

  • 8 hard-boiled eggs
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika

Tools (Basic Recipe)

  • Cutting Board, Knife
  • Large bowl for ice bath
  • Stock Pot or large saucepan with steamer basket
  • Food Processor and Pastry Sieve with larger tip (optional)

Directions (Basic Recipe)

  1. Peel and slice eggs in half.
  2. Scoop out the egg yolks and place only 12 egg white halves on a tray. (I recommend using the 6 eggs or 12 egg white halves that look the best, with the yolks centered, etc.).
  3. Mash yolks and add mayonnaise, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
  4. Fill the 12 egg white halves (from 6 eggs) with the filling of all 8 eggs.
  5. Sprinkle with parsley and paprika.
  6. Allow eggs to refrigerate for at least an hour so flavors may blend.

Variations (Basic Recipe)

Yolk mixture may be seasoned with

  • 1 teaspoon minced thyme, parsley, chives, or dill
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sherry vinegar and/or, for a more ‘deviled’ flavor, 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper

*Makes 12 deviled eggs (halves). Good loosely covered for a day or so.

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

Homemade Mayonnaise

Making my own mayonnaise was one of the most interesting and rewarding things I’ve done in the kitchen. It’s dead simple and the results are remarkable. I’ll never buy mayo again. The version above is green as it was made with unfiltered grapeseed oil, a preferred neutral oil (to corn). This mayo is lovely as is, or a great base for all kinds of aiolis, from red pepper to garlic and herbs or even saffron.


  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup neutral oil, like grapeseed or corn, or extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar, white wine vinegar, or freshly squeezed lemon juice


  • Food processor or blender


  1. Put the yolk and mustard in a blender or food processor and turn the machine on. While it’s running, add the oil in a slow, steady stream. When an emulsion forms, you can add it a little faster, until all the oil is incorporated.
  2. Add salt and pepper, then stir in the lemon (or vinegar). Taste and adjust the seasoning. Use immediately or refrigerate for about a week (less if using fresh herbs or aromatics).

*Makes 1 Cup Mayonnaise.

Friday, April 19th, 2013

Field Greens with Roasted Beets and Fresh Sheep’s Cheese

From James Beard Award winning Chef Melissa Kelly’s new book Mediterranean Women Stay Slim, Too, this healthy and fresh salad is super during the Spring, when beets are peaking.


  • 2 shallots, peeled and minced
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 fresh beets, any type
  • 2 sprigs fresh basil (torn into bite size pieces)
  • 2 sprigs fresh Italian parsley (pick the leaves from the stems)
  • 1/2 bunch fresh chives, snipped into 1-inch lengths
  • 2 heads Belgian endive
  • 1/4 pound fresh sheep’s cheese (or goat cheese)


  • Cutting Board, Knife
  • Aluminum foil
  • Bowls for greens, vinaigrette


  1. First, make the vinaigrette. Place the shallots in a bowl and add the vinegars. Season with salt and pepper and let sit 15-20 minutes. Whisk in the olive oil and adjust the seasonings to taste. Set aside.
  2. Prepare the beets. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Scrub the beets and wrap each one in foil. Roast for about 1 hour or until a knife slides in with ease. Set aside to cool. When cool, peel the beets and cut into wedges. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the mesclun greens, basil, parsley, and chives. Pour half the vinaigrette over the greens and toss until all the greens are coated.
  4. To assemble the salads, arrange the endive on a platter or on four individual salad plates so that the leaves form a flower-petal pattern around the edge of the plate. Pie the salad greens in the middle. Arrange the beets on top of the salad greens and drizzle the beets with the remaining vinaigrette. Crumble the cheese over the top and sprinkle with freshly ground pepper. You may serve it with crusty bread or pita wedges.

*Serves 4

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

Braised Baby Bok Choy with Sesame Oil

Braising: More than meat, bro. The French technique famed for tenderizing cheap hunks of beef can also deepen vegetables natural flavors, and the liquid reduces for a nice sauce too. Side of Baby Bok Choy, Butter-Braised with a Sesame Oil Finish.

It would be delicious with pan-seared shellfish and Asian eggplant.


  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3/4 lb baby bok choy, trimmed
  • 1/2 teaspoon Asian sesame oil


  • Large sautee pan with lid


  1. Bring broth and butter to a simmer in a deep large heavy skillet. Arrange bok choy evenly in skillet and simmer, covered, until tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer bok choy with tongs to a serving dish and keep warm, covered.
  2. Boil broth mixture until reduced to about 1/4 cup, then stir in sesame oil and pepper to taste. Pour mixture over bok choy.

*Makes 2 large servings

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

Versatile Sriracha-Peanut Sauce

A versatile and excellent Asian-style sauce. Shown above is (20¢) Ramen with (Leftover) Pulled Pork. Super economical and a great way to skip the sodium-bomb of a ramen flavor packet.

I suggest waiting on the sugar and Sriracha until the end, adding only to taste (depending on whether you want a sweet or really spicy sauce). I didn’t have scallions and it turned our fine, really this is just a great base recipe. Can be made up to 3 days in advance and served either hot or cold, as a dip, salad dressing, or as a sauce for noodles or protein.


  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 scallions, chopped fine (optional)
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped fine
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated peeled fresh gingerroot
  • 1/4 to 1 cup water (thicken or thin to taste)
  • 1/2 cup creamy or chunky peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1-3 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar (to taste)
  • 1-3 tablespoons Sriracha (to taste)
  • Optional Garnishes: dried hot red pepper flakes, crushed peanuts, cilantro, basil, lime, cucumber


  • 2-quart saucepan
  • Knife, cutting board
  • Microplane for ginger


  1. In a saucepan heat oil over moderate heat until hot but not smoking and cook scallions, garlic and ginger, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer, stirring. Simmer sauce, stirring, until smooth and cool to room temperature. Sauce may be made up to 3 days ahead and chilled, covered. If sauce is too thick after chilling, stir in 1 to 2 tablespoons hot water until sauce reaches desired consistency.
  2. Serve sauce with grilled poultry or meat, on noodles, or as a dressing for spinach salad.

*Makes about 2 cups

Sunday, December 2nd, 2012

Speedy No-Knead Bread

This shortcut recipe, which requires just four and a half hours’ rising, if not quite as good as the original, can be done in an afternoon. Find the original No-Knead Bread recipe here.


  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 1 packet ( 1/4 ounce) instant yeast
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • Oil as needed


  • Dutch Oven


  1. Combine flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl. Add 1 1/2 cups water and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest about 4 hours at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.
  2. Lightly oil a work surface and place dough on it; fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest 30 minutes more.
  3. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6-to-8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under dough and put it into pot, seam side up. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes.
  4. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

*Makes 1 big loaf

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012

Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Woodland Mushrooms over Creamy Goat Cheese Grits

This simple vegetarian dish is hearty enough to satifsy a meaty craving, but light and lucious all the same. The basic concept is to roast the vegetables while you make the grits, which in all takes about 30 minutes. Variations abound, you could substitute the grits for a yellow polenta (use a coarse cornmeal instead of grits). You can omit the goat cheese entirely for lower calories, and instead garnish with Parmesan cheese and parsely.


  • 4 cups water
  • 1/2 cup whole milk (or chicken stock, vegetable stock or more water)
  • 1 cup stone-ground white corn grits
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Salt
  • 4 ounces fresh goat cheese
  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, preferably a mixture, trimmed and halved if large
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced


  • Baking Sheet, Oven
  • Cutting Board, Knife
  • Medium Sauce Pan for Grits


  1. Heat the oven to 450°. Put the Brussels sprouts on a rimmed baking sheet that can hold them in a single layer, and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast for 10 minutes. Add the mushrooms and garlic, toss, and continue to roast, shaking the pan occasionally, until the sprouts and mushrooms are quite brown and tender, 10 to 20 minutes more. Taste, and adjust the seasoning.
  2. Meanwhile, In a medium saucepan, combine the water, milk, butter and 1 teaspoon of salt and bring to a boil. Slowly whisk in the cornmeal. Cook the grits over moderate heat, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until thickened and the grains are tender, about 30 minutes (10 to 15 for polenta).
  3. Stir the goat cheese into the grits, season with salt and pepper and cook just until heated through if they have cooled. Whisk in additional water if the consistency is too thick, it should be like a thick oatmeal.
  4. Divide the grits among four bowls; top with the vegetables.

*Serves 4.

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

Capellini with Fresh Ricotta over an Arrabbiata Sauce


  • 8 ounces capellini or angel hair pasta
  • 26 ounces (about 2 cups) tomato sauce (jarred or homemade)
  • 1/4 cup good quality olive oil, plus more for thinning the ricotta and drizzling
  • 1 cup fresh ricotta (preferably homemade)
  • Chopped parsley and grated Parmesan for garnishing
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


  • Saucepan
  • Stock Pot and Strainer for Pasta


  1. Bring a large pot of salty water to boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. It will happen quickly with a thin pasta like capellini.
  2. In the meantime, combine the tomato sauce and olive oil in a saucepan to warm. In a bowl, mix the ricotta with 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt and enough olive oil to loosen it up. Spoon the warm tomato sauce into bowls.
  3. Use tongs to lift the pasta straight from the pot and into the waiting bowls. Twist it into high mounds, then top with the ricotta mixture and drizzle with olive oil. Top with fresh pepper, parsley, and Parmesan as desired.

*Serves 3-4

All recipes stolen/borrowed from somewhere, butchered/adapted exclusively by CHEF BOY/R/C.