Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Garlic-Lemon Salmon Piccata


Salmon is one of the most widely available and commonly cooked fishes in the United States. There are many ways to prepare salmon, but easily one of my favorites is this Garlic-Lemon Salmon Piccata.

It's super citrusy, a wonderful flavor profile for any fish dish, and adds a burst of bright green color from handfuls of baby spinach and a sprinkle of parsley to finish.

I find that this salmon is never dry because it's pan-seared and cloaked in the delicious lemon, garlic, and white white sauce.

Although the recipe calls for four 6-ounce fillets of fish, you can use smaller fillets if you prefer, which is what I did. I took a side of salmon (weighing just over 1 1/2 pounds) and cut it into relatively equal-sized portions.

Garlic-Lemon Salmon Piccata
Serves 4
(From Delish)

1 cup all-purpose flour
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper (I also like to sprinkle paprika on my salmon fillets)
4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets (or equivalent weight salmon in small fillets)
3 tablespoons butter, divided
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup capers, drained
1 lemon, thinly sliced
4 cups baby spinach
Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

In a shallow baking dish, add flour. Season salmon with salt and pepper (and paprika if desired), then dredge in the flour, and toss until coated.

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon butter and olive oil. Add salmon and cook until golden, 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.

Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter to skillet. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 minute, then add lemon juice and white wine and bring to a simmer. Stir in capers, lemon slices and spinach and let cook down until wilted, 2 minutes.

Return salmon to skillet and combine. Garnish with parsley and serve.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

French Onion Soup Dumplings


The Stanton Social was a local haunt in the Lower East Side of Manhattan for many years until it recently shuttered, hopefully temporarily until it relocates to another space. For years it was one of my favorite culinary destinations in the Big Apple. From its sinful craft cocktails to its extraordinarily original shared plates, it was THE place to be, and I have many fond and delicious memories that I hope to recreate through chef Chris Santos' sublime cookbook Share.

Arguably the most famous and revered dish on the menu at The Stanton Social was one of my personal favorites as well. French Onion Soup Dumplings. Let that sink in.

Fried wonton wrappers encase a filling of luxurious melted onions and shallots bound together with a bit of wine and broth.

Getting the soup into the dumplings is quite simply the result of freezing and cubing the filling before assembling the little purses of dough.

After deep frying these soup-filled bundles, they are topped with a mound of shredded Gruyère cheese and broiled. A skewered garlicky crouton is the final touch before serving these crowd-pleasing, artery-clogging bites.

A few notes from my personal experience making these dumplings. 1) the recipe calls for too much butter. Listen, I love butter, but I found that an entire stick of butter was just way too much for the amount of onions, and my final result felt quite greasy around the edges of the pan. It was so much fat that it really felt more like I was frying the onions and shallots rather than allowing them to slowly sweat and caramelize, even with the heat on low.

I have reduced the amount of butter in the recipe below, and even scraped off a bit of the frozen butter that solidified on top of my frozen filling to make up for the excess.

2) I also highly recommend reducing the amount of Gruyère cheese from the original recipe, which would be 1 1/2 pounds of cheese melted over 36 tiny dumplings. I shredded an entire pound of cheese, and honestly only used 8 ounces to cover all of my dumplings. I arranged 6 dumplings in an escargot dish (although the indentations weren't really large enough for deep enough, it still managed to serve its purpose) and used a Pyrex baking dish for the remainder.

French Onion Soup Dumplings
Makes 36
(Adapted from Share)

Onion-Shallot Filling:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter (the original recipe calls for a whole stick, and I found it to yield a greasy filling so I would recommend scaling it down to about 6 tablespoons at the most)
1/2 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced (1 cup)
2 medium shallots, thinly sliced (1/2 cup)
1 cup red wine
1 cup beef broth
1 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme (I used 1 tablespoon dried thyme)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, preferably aged
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

3 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
Thirty-six 3/4-inch cubes of artisan bread
3 garlic cloves, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Soup Dumplings:
36 square wonton wrappers
1 egg, lightly beaten

Vegetable oil, for frying
2 cups (8 ounces) grated Gruyère cheese (the original recipe calls for 3 times as much cheese for the 36 dumplings, and you are welcome to use that amount, but I think this was plenty)
Softened butter, for greasing

Make the filling: At least 6 hours before making the dumplings, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and shallots and reduce the heat to medium. Cook, stirring often, until they are deep golden brown and very tender, about 20 to 30 minutes.

Add the wine, increase the heat to high, and cook, stirring often, until the wine has evaporated to a glaze, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the beef and chicken broths and bring to a boil. Cook until the liquid has evaporated by half, about 7 to 10 minutes, so the consistency is thick and mainly onion (if you over-reduce you can add a bit more broth to thin it back out). Stir in the thyme and balsamic vinegar, then season with salt and pepper. Let cool completely.

Line the bottom and sides of an 8-by-4-inch loaf pan with plastic wrap (I used an 8-1/2-by-4-1/2-inch loaf pan and it was fine). Pour the filling into the pan and loosely cover the top with plastic wrap. Freeze until the filling is solid, at least 4 hours, or up to 1 day.

To make the croutons: Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400° F. In a medium bowl, toss all of the crouton ingredients to coat the bread thoroughly. Spread the mixture onto a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake, stirring occasionally, until the croutons are golden brown, about 15 minutes. Set aside.

To make the dumplings: Invert and unmold the frozen soup mixture onto a cutting board. Using a knife, cut the mixture lengthwise into 4 long strips, then vertically into 9 sections to make 36 cubes total. Keep the cubes frozen until ready to wrap.

Working with about 9 wonton wrappers at a time, place the wrappers on a clean work surface. Lightly brush the edges of the wrappers with the beaten egg. Place one cube in the center of a wrapper. Bring up the edges and tightly pinch them closed to create a small packet, resembling a purse. Transfer to a baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining cubes and wrappers. Cover tightly and freeze for at least 2 hours. (To freeze longer, transfer the frozen dumplings , separating the layers with waxed paper, to an airtight container, and freeze for up to 1 month.)

In a deep large saucepan or Dutch oven (or deep fryer), heat 2 inches of oil to 350°F. Place a rack over a large rimmed baking sheet to drain the fried dumplings.

Remove dumplings from the freezer. In batches, without crowding, carefully fry the dumplings in the oil until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Using a wire spider or slotted spoon, carefully transfer them to the wire rack to drain. The dumplings can stand at room temperature for up to 30 minutes.

Position the broiler rack about 8 inches from the heat source and preheat on high. Lightly butter several escargot dishes or a large baking dish (or a combination of the two--I used 1 escargot dish and a baking dish for the rest of the dumplings).

Place each dumpling in its own indentation in the escargot dishes, or arrange them in rows in the baking dish. Cover the entire dish with the shredded Gruyère. Broil until the cheese is melted and golden brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Meanwhile, spear each crouton onto a skewer.

Insert a crouton-speared skewer into the top of each dumpling, being sure not to poke the bottom of the wrapper, or the dumpling will leak. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Pepperoni Pizza Potato Skins


The upcoming weekend is a big one for the NFL. It will determine which two teams are heading to the Super Bowl. My fingers are crossed for my home team, the New England Patriots! Whether you love football like I do, or just love football food, this is a great time of year to try out some fun snacks for family and friends to enjoy while watching any of the big games.

Potato skins are a classic game day delight. Melted cheddar, crispy bacon, and cool sour cream are the usual suspects, but I decided to fill my potato skins with pizza-inspired replacements. Tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, and sliced pepperoni are the highlights in these baked-not-fried boat-shaped vessels.

My nephews partook in my recent potato skin explorations, and since neither of them can eat gluten this was a really easy way to give them the excitement of pizza without the traditional crust. I actually described it to them as "giant french fries topped like a pizza." That's a pretty apt portrayal of what was on their plate.

These are super easy to make and barely require a recipe, but I'm sharing one anyway. You can tweak the toppings to suit your preferences if pepperoni isn't your thing.

Pepperoni Pizza Potato Skins
Makes 8

4 medium to large Russet potatoes, scrubbed clean, washed, and dried
Extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup pasta or pizza sauce (store-bought is fine)
About 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, or as desired
16 slices pepperoni

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Prick the potatoes all over with a fork. Rub gently with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and set on an aluminum foil-covered sheet pan. Bake for approximately 45 minutes or longer, until tender (it should be easily pricked with a fork. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.

Cut each potato in half and carefully scoop out the flesh leaving about 1/4 inch of flesh within the skin. Brush the inside of the potato halves with olive oil, and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Bake for another 10 minutes, then turn on the broiler for another few minutes as needed to continue to crisp up the top. Don't overdo it because it will be baking more with the filling.

Fill each potato skin with about 2 tablespoons of sauce, a few tablespoons or so of mozzarella cheese (use your judgement here), and a couple slices of pepperoni. You could also sprinkle some dried oregano on top if you'd like. Sliced olives would also be a nice touch! Bake the filled potato skins for another 10 to 15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Fettuccine with Venetian Chicken Sauce


I'd like to wish all of my fabulous readers a happy new year! I'd also like to apologize for being MIA for the past month or so. As you can all imagine, even food bloggers can get very busy throughout the holiday season. The majority of my cooking and baking in recent weeks has consisted of tried-and-true recipes I had previously shared on Mission: Food. I'm excited for a new year and lots of new recipes, starting with this one...

Fettuccine with Venetian Chicken Sauce is easy to make and surprisingly flavorful for a dish comprised of minimal ingredients. Minced garlic and diced carrot are cooked slowly in a combination of chicken broth and tomato juice before they are pureed into a silky orange-hued sauce. Finely diced cooked chicken breast is then added before this decadent sauce is tossed with butter-cloaked fettuccine.

Unexpectedly the result tastes neither of tomato or carrot, but rather highlights the chicken. I was very impressed, and would definitely make it again for family or even guests. There's something so unique about this recipe that I think is worth sharing. If you're looking for new and creative spins on pasta night for your family, this luscious fettuccine is the way to go.

Fettuccine with Venetian Chicken Sauce
Serves 4 to 6

2 cups chicken stock or broth
8 ounces boneless skinless chicken breasts
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 cup finely chopped carrot
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup tomato juice, preferably organic
1 pound dry fettuccine
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

In a saucepan, bring chicken stock to a boil.

Meanwhile, cut the chicken breasts into lengthwise strips about the width of a finger; drop the strips into the boiling stock. Cover and bring to a boil; decrease heat and simmer for 4 minutes. Remove the cover and set aside, allowing the chicken to cool in the liquid. When cool, transfer chicken to a cutting board and reheat the stock.

Meanwhile, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in another large saucepan. Stir in the garlic and cook over low heat until the garlic becomes golden. Add 1 cup water to prevent the garlic from browning; stir to combine. Add in carrots and salt; cook over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture is nearly dry with just a bit of water left. Be vigilant and stir constantly toward the end of this step to be sure the carrots do not brown at all. Add the hot stock and tomato juice; cover and bring to a boil; decrease heat, set the cover ajar, and simmer gently for 35 minutes or until the carrots are very soft. Puree with an immersion blender or regular blender until you have a smooth puree; set aside.

Cut the chicken strips lengthwise into 1/8-inch thick slices, then cut across to make 1/8 inch dice; add the chicken to the sauce and reheat gently.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil; generously salt the water and add in the fettuccine. Cook, stirring often, until al dente; drain the pasta and transfer to a heated platter or shallow gratin dish. Toss with the remaining butter and fold enough sauce to coat the noodles generously. Sprinkle with Parmigiano-Reggiano; serve immediately; pass more cheese at the table.


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