Tagged: dinner

pep-or-nada

It's nada toomah..it's peperonata!

It’s nada toomah..it’s peperonata!

Peperonata is one of those dishes that manages to be incredibly easy, delicious and simple but also annoying AF for the sole reason that you get sticky. And I hate being sticky. Abhor it even.

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This is feeling is impossible to avoid when attempting to de-seed any amount of bursting, roasted late summer peppers.

worst nightmare.

worst nightmare.

As I’ve aged, I’ve come to realize there are worse things in life than being sticky and gotten over it. (Or at least I keep telling myself that.)

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Simply, peperonata is a dish made-up of sliced, roasted peppers, most often served as a side to other things. It’s great with or on-top-of literally any protein and can be eaten at any temperature. Various other ingredients can jazz up your basic peperonata too.

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jazz hands for peppers yayyyyyyyy

For example, you can add stewed, pickled or caramelized onions, olives, capers, even some herbage action if you’re feeling it. The list goes on… Basically, I’ve figured out you can literally add 75 – 85% of whatever is in your pantry to a peperonata and it will probably taste O-K, if not excellent.

In summation, it’s worth getting sticky over.

not your basic bell pepper

Peperonata (that’s worth getting sticky over)

  • 8 medium peppers – try gypsy peppers, jimmy nardellos, long italian, etc. just don’t go basic and get a bell pepper puhleease
  • 1/2 cup small black olives, pitted and roughly chopped – try gaeta or nicoise 
  • 1/4 cup parsley leaves, picked
  • 2T fresh oregano, chopped
  • 2.5T sherry vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • black pepper
  1. Preheat your oven’s broiler and line a baking sheet with tin foil. Place the peppers on the lined baking sheet and broil, rotating the peppers with tongs every minute or so, until the peppers’ skins are blackened and roasted. Immediately place the peppers in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
  2. After the peppers have cooled enough to handle, get to work slipping the skins off the peppers. De-seed and de-vein the peppers, trying to reserve any juice that comes out of them. Slice the peppers into strips that are around 1/3″ thick and place in a bowl, adding in any reserved pepper juice too.
  3. Whisk together the oregano, EVOO, vinegar and salt and pepper to taste in a small bowl. Pour this over the peppers. Add the olives and mix everything together.
  4. To serve, plate the peperonata in a shallow bowl or high-lipped platter. Garnish all over with picked parsley. Remember, this dish can be served at all kindssssss of room temperatures.

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The Beth Braise Ever: Milk Braised Pork

You ever make a dish and you’re like holy fucking shit this is delicious (**expletives continue to fire off in your brain**)?

Yes?

No?

Maybe so?

Well this is one such dish.

Bottomline: Milk Braised Pork is the braise you never knew you needed but will now and forever always crave.

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Braising is one of my favorite techniques in the kitchen – it is versatile, straightforward and forgiving. When braised with milk, pork becomes succulent and savory, rather than rich and heavy like a traditional braise, so it is a dish that can be enjoyed no matter how high the mercury gets.

My favorite vegetable pairing with braised pork is a simple blanched and sauteed turnip.

IMG_0839Tokyo turnips, with their fresh, clean flavor and slightly astringent quality, make them the perfect foil against the luscious braise. For a heartier meal, serve the dish over polenta studded with sweet summer corn.


Milk Braised Pork

  • 1# boneless pork shoulder
  • 10 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 10 cloves garlic, halved
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 small dried chili
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • kosher salt
  • black pepper
  • extra virgin olive oil
  1. Roughly pick 5 sprigs of thyme. Season the pork on all sides with salt, pepper and picked thyme (stems are ok here). Wrap the pork tightly in seranwrap and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Remove the pork from the refrigerator 30 minutes before you’re ready to begin cooking in order to take the chill off the meat. Preheat the oven to 375F.
  3. IMG_0837Slick the bottom of a medium Dutch oven or braiser with a coat of olive oil and heat over a medium-high flame. Sear the pork on all sides, until it’s golden brown throughout. Remove the pork from the pot and set aside.
  4. Add the garlic, bay leaves, chili, the rest of the thyme and butter to the pot and quickly saute. Add the pork back to the pot and using a spoon, baste the meat with the herby-garlicy oil/butter. Carefully pour in the wine and reduce until sec.
  5. Add the milk to the pot. There should be enough so the pork is almost covered but feel free to add some more if it looks a little low. Bring the milk to a high simmer and turn off the heat. Cover with a lid
    and place in the oven at 375 for 30 minutes.
  6. After 30 minutes remove the pork from the oven and begin spooning the separated milk curds over the pork. Place the lid back onto the pot and return the pork to the oven. Reduce heat to 350F and continue to baste and spoon the milk curds over the pork every 15 minutes or so for the next hour-and-a-half to two hours. In the last 15 minutes of cooking, remove the lid so the curds brown and caramelize over the pork.
  7. Remove the pork and curds from the pot and cover with foil to rest for 15 to 20 minutes. Reduce the cooking liquid over high heat and strain. Pour the jus over the pork and caramelized curds and serve with simple Tokyo turnips.

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Simple Tokyo Turnips

  • 1 bunch small Tokyo turnips
  • 3T extra virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt
  1. Clean the turnips and their greens. Cut the turnips in half, quartering any large ones, so they are roughly the same size. Discard any yellow or holey greens.
  2. In salted, boiling water blanch the turnips for 2 minutes or until almost cooked through. Drain and shock in ice water. Strain.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a medium-large saute pan. Add the turnip greens, a generous pinch of salt and saute for 1 minute. Add the turnips and saute until tender and the edges of the white turnips begin to turn golden brown. Serve immediately.

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She’s a Souper Freak

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She’s a very freaky gurllllllll

I love soup. It’s warm, it’s filling, it’s delicious, and every culture has their own take on what you can do with a bowl and a spoon.

Mmmmmmmmm

As you can imagine, my Seamless soup delivery man and I are very close. We even sing each other Christmas carols in December as he walks the three flights up to my apartment.

Frankly, though, soup in the summer is just inappropriate.

But Beth, you say, there’s gazpacho! There’s vichyssoise!

Well, gazpacho is not a soup. Gazpacho is a bloody mary without the vodka.

Vichyssoise? Don’t lie to me and tell me that thick ass puree of potatoes, leeks, cream and chicken stock wouldn’t taste a gazpachillion times better hot.

Most recently, I was craving a bowl of hot and bubbly cold-weather soup but I simply couldn’t muster a crock of French Onion in 100% humidity. Forced to work with the elements (i.e. on a hot summer day when the desire to move and/or make anything lengthy in the kitchen is minimal), my Summer Onion Soup was born.

It is the yin to winter’s cheesy and rich French Onion yang. With three different types of seasonal onion/garlic-related vegetables, plus some chicken, zucchini and potato to round out the dish, this soup is bright, light and flavorful and totally appropriate for summer. It’s like the white jeans of soup.

Summer Onion Soup

  • 1 small, whole Chicken
  • 16 oz. unsalted Vegetable or Chicken Stock
  • 1 bunch fresh Scallions, cleaned and sliced into 3-4″ long pieces
  • 5 sprigs Thyme
  • 1 head fresh Garlic, cloves separated and thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch Garlic Scapes, ends removed and sliced into 3-4″ long pieces
  • 5 small Potatoes with a fancy name, quartered (I prefer Augusta potatoes because Augustus was the heir to Caesar and I love Caesar salad. I mean, who doesn’t? And August is my birth month so it works in so many ways. Just make sure the reason you choose your potato has a great story behind it – it’ll make the soup taste better.)
  • 2 medium Green Zucchini, cut into 2-3″ chunks
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Maldon Salt
  1. Generously season the chicken on all sides with salt. Coat the bottom a large dutch oven or soup pot with a thin layer of olive oil over medium-high heat.
  2. Place chicken in the pot breast-side-up and cook until the bottom is golden brown, around 3-5 minutes. Flip the chicken over and pour in stock. Add enough water to the pot so the chicken is almost covered (you want the top 1/8th exposed but that seemed a little anal to state given my naturally lackadaisical demeanor. Important to note that this soup was also invented on a day where I attempted to minimize dishes and knife work – hence, the whole chicken).
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients to the pot except the zucchini. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and cook for 25-30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked.
  4. Remove the chicken and thyme sprigs from the pot. Discard thyme and place the chicken on a cutting board. Turn off the heat, add the zucchini to the pot and put the cover back on.
  5. Depending on how hungry you are, at this point you can either brave the scalding hot chicken and start tearing the meat off with your mighty heat resistant talons you call hands, or you can stick the chicken in the freezer for 5 to 10 minutes until that bird has cooled the eff down. Either way, pick the meat off the bird, tearing or cutting the meat into large pieces (around 3″ long) and placing back in the pot.
  6. Stir the soup around a bit so the chicken can get reacquainted with its old friends and taste for seasoning, adjusting if necessary. Serve HOT.

Give it to me

The Raddest Veg I Know

In my marginally humble opinion, radishes are just about the most rad vegetable ever. Radishes are delicious, beautiful and – dare I say it – adorable. They’re even more adorable than baby corn.

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In fact, in Japan, radishes are seen as so adorable that people carve them into cute little edible art pieces.

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(Nevermind that these a more reminiscent of bad taxidermy than actual food…)

Behind the dainty, tickled pink hue of a radish lies a crisp and peppery vegetable with a taste that ranges from mildly spicy to horseradish hot.

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(”All it comes down to is this. I taste like a spicy crunchy wasabi jicama guy but look great.” – Patrick Bateman, radish spokesperson)

Radishes can be eaten in a variety of ways: straight up Frenchie with butter and sea salt, in a crudite, roasted, pickled, or – one of my personal favorites – in a salad as the star ingredient.

When making a radish salad, the secret to making it not just a good radish salad but a great radish salad is all in the massage.

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Deep tissue that radish.

You literally want to feel like you are trying to push the other ingredients into the radish. Radishes have a high water content and are pretty porous on the inside so by massaging the radish with the other ingredients, you are imparting the maximum amount of flavor into the vegetable.

Even though radishes taste pretty strong solo, they easily take on other flavors. Richer salad ingredients – like aged vinegars and cheeses – are perfect in a radish salad because the light and crunchy radish balances the heavier components with its signature, palate-cleansing bite.

So, without further ado, here is one of my go-to recipes for a tasty radish salad.

Radish Salad with

Aged Balsamic, Basil & Parm

  • 2 bunches of Radishes (whatever color or type strikes your fancy, just make sure they’re firm and pretty blemish-free)
  • 5 leaves of Basil
  • 5oz Parmigiano Reggiano
  • Handful of Sunflower Shoots
  • Handful of Micro Russian Red Kale (substitute with small bits of torn Lacinato Kale if this is unavailable)
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Good quality, aged Balsamic Vinegar (break out the good ish for this recipe)
  • Maldon Salt & Black Pepper
  1. Clean the radishes, removing the greens and saving for another use if you wish. Halve the small radishes and quarter the large guys so all the pieces of radish are around the same size. Place in a large bowl.
  2. Tear the basil into medium-sized bits and add to the bowl. Break off small chunks of the parm with your hand (sometimes it helps to use a fork or paring knife to get the cheese going) into the bowl.
  3. Add a large pinch of salt, a few grinds of black pepper and start massaging the radish, basil and parm together in the bowl, pressing the cheese and herb bits into the radish chunks with your hands. Add lemon juice, a drizzle of balsamic and continue to massage until the ingredients have incorporated themselves around each radish chunk
  4. Add sunflower shoots, micro kale, and a drizzle of olive oil to the bowl. Gently toss to combine (the greens are delicate!). Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
  5. Serve immediately with a little more balsamic drizzled on top.
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wine ‘em, dine ‘em, 69 ‘em

(or how to order wine at a business dinner)

Robert Louis Stevenson once said, “Wine is bottled poetry.” Just like poetry, a lot of wine sucks.

It’s boring.

It’s too sweet.

It’s hard to swallow.

Learning to appreciate wine, like poetry, takes time and years of studied practice before the verses reveal themselves and one gains the ability to distinguish between Keats’-level Cabernets and Craigslist Missed Connections love sonnet-level Sangiovese.

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However, if your schooling is over and your time studying is done, you may have to cheat in order to get ahead with wine. Ask almost any adult and they will tell you that at some point in their life they have had to make an impression through the medium of wine. None occasion is quite so deciding as the Business Dinner. As the Wall Street Journal (“Read it like you’d read the bible,” I distinctly remember my financial accounting professor once saying to me) states “Business people are judged by just about everything they do, and an ability to order wine crisply and well probably takes on far more significance than it should.”

If you think you entered Adulthood with your first sip of manishevitz at Shabbat, regrettably, you were duly misled: choosing the wine at a business dinner marks one’s true passing into that fabled phase of life. If the thought of choosing a wine makes you yearn for your timeworn seat at the kid’s table, have no fear. Below you’ll find a list of essential tips and tricks guaranteed to stick when tackling the three most sensitive topics regarding ordering wine in a group setting: price, pairings, and people.

Price

Business dinners exist for one reason: to impress. If conspicuous consumption was not the aim, this business dinner would have been a business breakfast in a windowless conference room over half-stale croissants.

A trend in restaurant wine list pricing these days is declining mark-up. That is to say, the least expensive wines are marked up the most (sometimes up to four times wholesale), and the most expensive wines are marked up the least. When ordering for a business dinner, look for options in the 75th percentile of the wine list’s price spread. This percentile holds the wines that offer the most value in price and quality. These wines are just expensive enough and perfectly price appropriate for a business dinner on O.P.M. (Other People’s Money.)

Pairings

Wine pairing is tricky. Unless you are at a restaurant ordering the tasting menu with optional wine pairing supplement, it is almost impossible to win the wine game using traditional pairing tactics (white with fish, red with meat, etc.) when ordering for a group.

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Think about it this way: with every dish you eat, somewhere out there, there is the perfect wine from the perfect vineyard from the perfect year that will pair with that dish in such a way that you will be utterly speechless and transported out of reality and into the sublime…at least for a moment. If you are lucky enough to ever experience such a pairing, you will truly understand how food and wine is a synergistic union made to be experienced together.

However, right now, you must concentrate, ground yourself, and get creative.

In a business or group ordering scenario, the answer is not necessarily about creating pairing synergy where 1 (the wine) + 1 (the food) is greater than 2, but avoiding 1+1 equaling 0—or worse—negative.

The best way to avoid this miscalculation is what I call Wine by Committee. Simply choose three to four wines based on the guests’ preferences you gather during an informal table poll (cleverly disguised as a discussion and/or conversation, ideally) and utilize the sommelier to make the final decision. Sure, there may be a few obvious outliers at your table (Gewürztraminer lovers exist, allegedly) but those people can just order by the glass if it is really such a big deal to them.

Majority rules.

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With Wine by Committee, even if the food sucks and the deal doesn’t go through, people will still be drinking a wine they like and, as studies show, wine makes people happy  – and more attractive!

People

The business dinner is a unique scenario that bridges the professional with the social, the “uptight” with the “get loose”. You may have the opportunity to dine with your future boss if you are up for a promotion, or if you are dining with your current boss, send subliminal messages that you want a raise. Now is a great opportunity to carpe diem and discuss the dinner’s wine options.

As previously stated, wine is sophistication. Sophistication is knowledge. Knowledge is power. Power is promotion.

Set the scene and play the part of Wine Expert. Ask to see the wine list and slowly peruse each section with pursed lips, intensely analyzing certain regions—even if you have no idea where Marche is in Italy or you thought Portugal was in South America. Sensuously caress its pages with your fingers; to a wine lover a well-curated list is something to be treasured and paid attention to.

NOTE: Keep in mind the two giveaways that will draw attention to your lack of knowledge:

1. Retail Recollection  If you recognize a label you see frequently at a liquor store, just say no. In most cases, retail does not translate well to restaurants in terms of value and overall quality.

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2. Pronunciation Problems  Nothing is worse than someone who cannot pronounce the name of a wine right. (Or food for the matter. Hello go-no-chee (gnocchi) orderers, but I digress.)

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The expectation that you are going to be able to pronounce every single wine correctly is—of course—not realistic. (But who wants to be realistic, really?) Even for the die-hard wine geek, if their preference is Italian, they may not know the accents and correct verbal emphasis on Greek Xinomavro or Hungarian Tokai.

In this situation, there are three options of attack:

  • First choice: Order by the wine’s listed bin number.
  • Second choice: If no bin number is provided, choose the one or two words you are confident in saying aloud plus the wine’s vintage. You are now passing the burden of responsibility in knowing the wine to the sommelier. If they don’t know what you’re talking about, it makes them look unknowledgeable and unfamiliar with their own list.
  • Third choice: If neither A nor B succeed, get the sommelier as close to you as possible and just point to the wine on the page. Problem solved.

During business dinners, your choice in wine will inherently affect how you are perceived. And as the adage states—for better or for worse—perception is reality. If the reality of the situation is your clueless when it comes to wine, tackling the three P’s head-on will guarantee that your wine game is strong every time—perception be damned.

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