Caponata

I love discovering new Italian dishes that I’m told are basic, traditional masterpieces that everyone knows. Unfortunately, I wasn’t born an Italian, so it’s all news to me. This is yet another dish with only one name. And it is amazing. The fusion of flavours makes perfect sense once you make it. But I would never thought of putting them together this way myself. Absolutely stunning served at room temperature as a snack or appetizer.

INGREDIENTS

4 tbsp olive oil
2 celery stalks, sliced
2 red onions, sliced
1 large eggplant, diced
6 small videlia tomatoes, chopped in quarters
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp pitted green olives
2 tbsp capers, drained and rinsed
salt and pepper
4 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (to garnish)
ciabatta or calabrese bread (to serve)

METHOD

Heat half the oil in a large, heavy-bottom pan. Add the celery and onions and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, until softened but not coloured. Add the remaining oil and the eggplant. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 mintues, until the eggplant starts to colour.

Add the garlic, tomatoes, vinegar, and sugare, and mix well. Cover the mixture with a circle of wax paper and let simmer gently for about 10 minutes.

Remove the wax paper, stir in the olives and capers, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour the caponata into a sering dish and set aside to cool to room temperature.

Just before serving, sprinkle over the parsley to garnish. Serve with bread.

This and other recipes occasionally pop up in the Artichoke Hart series (available here), or the London Cartwright series (available here). Both chefs are fictional… the dishes are not.

 

Grilled tenderloin Nicoise with Lemon Dill Olive Bernaise

Much to the chagrin of white tablecloth restaurants, great steak is not always about the steak, it’s about the rest of the dish.
In this presentation, the steak sits on a bed of sauteed vegetables and is topped with a custom bernaise-style sauce mixed with chopped black olives.  I added a few leftover hash browns (from a sunday breakfast out), a couple of fried tomatoes and some sauteed fresh shrimp.

INGREDIENTS

4 tbsn olive oil
1 garlic clove, sliced
sprig of fresh thyme plus extra to garnish
6 fresh basil leaves
2 x 6oz ternderloin steaks
1 zucchini, cut lengthwise into 1/3 inch thick slices
1 italian eggplant, cut into 1/4 inch slices
1/2 red bell pepper, skinned, halved, desseded, cut into strips
1 tomatoe, cut into quarters
2 tbsn balsamic vinegar

For Lemon Dill Olive Bernaise:
1 tbsn chopped black olives
Lemon Dill dressing,
1 tsp old style mustard
2 tbsp plain yogourt
2 tbsp English salad dressing

 

METHOD

Mix all the olive oil with the garlic and herbs in a dish. Add the meat and coat well with the marinade3. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate at room temperature for 4 hours.

Remove the meat, add the vegetables and the tomatoes to the oil, and marinate for a further 2 hours.

Cook the potatoes any way you wish. Frites, boiled, grilled, or reheated. Keep warm.

Heat the grill (I used an indoor grill because it was raining). Place vegetables and beef on the grill and wait till veggies are golden and lightly charred all over. Cook the beef to your liking (which should be medium rare–just saying).

Mix the olives with the other bearnaise ingredients and season to taste.

Arrange the vegetables on the plates and sprinkle the balsamic vinegar over. Arrange the beef on top of the vegetables and spoon a little sauce over each steak. Garnish with thyme and serve (with lightly oiled and grilled mushrooms and shrimp if you wish).

 

This and other recipes occasionally pop up in the Artichoke Hart series (available here), or the London Cartwright series (available here). Both chefs are fictional… the dishes are not.

Pork Chops with Fresh Tomato, Onion, Garlic, and Feta

I’m not really a fan of pork chops but since Costco had a great sale last weekend, I ended up with a pile of them in my refrigerator. One of the recipes I tried that really was amazing was this one. The topping was so fresh and tangy that it offset the drab taste of the pork.

INGREDIENTS

2 tbspn olive oil, divided
1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
4 pork loin chops, 1 inch thick
salt and black pepper to taste
garlic powder to taste
1/2 pint red grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 pint yellow grape tomoatoes, halved
3 cloves garlic, diced
1 tbsp dried basil (or two freshly chopped)
2 and 1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar
4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (As my Greek son-in-law insists, be sure to buy Feta from Greece; it is much more flavourful than any Canadian or US manufacturer’s)

METHOD

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in the onion and cook until golden brown. Set aside.

Heat 1/2 tbsp oil in the skillet. Season pork chops with salt, pepper, and garlic powder, and place in the skillet. Cook to desired doneness (don’t increase heat as that will dry them out). Set aside but keep warm.

Heat remaining oil in the skillet. Return onions to skillet, and stir in tomatoes, garlic, and basil. Cook and stir about 3 minutes, until tomatoes are tender. Mix in balsamic vinegar, and season with salt and pepper. Top chops with the onion and tomato mixture, and sprinkle with feta cheese to serve.

Great with roasted small potatoes and vermouth-sauteed asparagus

These recipes often show up in the Tales of the Artichoke Hart series, by Robert J. Morrow. Chef Arthur “Artichoke” Hart combines cooking with international intrigue on a regular basis. Click here for the latest book in the series

Lately, some of the recipes come from London Cartwright, 5-star Chef in NYC. For the first book in her series, click here. It’s FREE!

 

Bistro Halloumi and Warm Olives

This is one of our favourite mid-summer simple suppers but since Spring has started early this year, I thought I’d pull it out and, Wow! what a treat to start the warm season off with. Halloumi doesn’t melt quickly so you can grill, saute, bake, etc. and it holds its shape reasonably well. When combined with warm olives and honey though, it is a golden nugget of flavour that literally melts in your mouth! (We also had mussels with it but that’s another recipe)

INGREDIENTS

4oz halloumi cheese, cut into 1/2 inch blocks
1 cup of kalamata and manzanilla olives (latter stuffed or not)
4 pickled pearl onions
4 pickled cherries
4 tbsn honey
1/4 cup olive oil (garlic flavoured if you have it)

METHOD

Heat up olive oil slowly in heavy (cast iron preferred) pan
Saute halloumi for about 3 minutes, getting them browned on each side
Remove halloumi and add olives, onions, cherries to pan. Reduce heat and cover with tin foil. Heat for 3 minutes or so
Put halloumi back in pan and drizzle with honey, then stir up gently

That’s it! Some crusty bread is also great for dipping while eating.

These recipes often show up in the Tales of the Artichoke Hart series, by Robert J. Morrow. Chef Arthur “Artichoke” Hart combines cooking with international intrigue on a regular basis. Click here for the latest book in the series

Veal Scallopini Fettuccine

Sometimes you just visualize something that you haven’t seen before and based on your knowledge of what does and should go together, you create something special. This dish is one such experiment and it was amazing!

INGREDIENTS

2 fillets of veal scallopini, cut into long, 1/4 strips
long shaved strips of carrot
fettuccine cooked al dente (apx 11 min), drain
1 anchovy, diced (dried on paper towel)
1 tspn capers (dried on paper towel)Cut veal in half inch straps
1/2 tspn sundried tomatoes, chopped finely
3/4 cup tomato sauce (bought or prepared)
1/2 tspn tomato paste
1/4 cup heavy cream (35%)
1/4 red wine (cab or malbec for depth in taste)
five or six grape tomatoes for topping
Parmesan cheese shredded for topping
onion, sliced and diced

METHOD

Saute onions till golden and remove.
Add 1 tbsn olive oil to pan and briefly saute anchovy, capers, and carrot strips (try to not let them tangle).
Add veal and saute for 2 minutes max
Add tomato sauce, paste, heavy cream, and wine and cook on low heat till warmed
return onions add cooked fettuccine, mix and untangle carrot slices
top with parmesan cheese

Serve with Calabrese bread and oil and vinegar for dipping

These recipes show up now and again in the escapades of Arthur “Artichoke” Hart, the main character in Robert J. Morrow’s Artichoke Hart Adventures series. Click here to view.

Caramelized Scallops with Fresh Green Pea Vinaigrette

carmelized-scallop-and-pea

I’m always on the lookout for a new way to cook and present scallops. This one was definitely different. The olive oil-soaked peas and crystallized scallops were a perfect combination. All we had with it was crusty bread and a complementary dip. Delicious.

INGREDIENTS

Pea Vinaigrette:
1 cup fresh peas
kosher or large sea salt
4 tbspn olive oil
1/4 cup champagne or white balsamic vinegar
1 tbsn Dijon mustard
1/8 tsp honey
fresh ground pepper
2 tbsn fresh mint (or 1 tsp liquid mint)
2 tbsn fresh flat-leaf parsley

Carmelized Scallops
12 large sea scallops, patted dry
olive oil for brushing
1 tbsn super fine sugar
kosher or sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tbsn barely chopped mint
2 tbsn barely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

 

METHOD:

For the vinaigrette: Blanch the peas in salted water until tender, and then shock in an ice bath. Whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, mustard, honey and some salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Add the peas, mint and parsley and toss to combine. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to allow the flavours to meld.

For the scallops: Heat a charcoal or gas grill to high for direct grilling. Brush the scallops on both sides with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sprinkle some sugar over one side and let sit for 2 minutes to slightly dissolve. Place the scallops, sugar-side down, on the grill and cook until golden brown and caramelized, 1 to 2 minutes.

Flip and continue grilling until just cooked through, about 2 minutes. Serve 3 scallops per plate and spoon the peas and vinaigrette over and around the scallops. Top each with some of the chopped mint and parsley (and maybe a tomato slice as I did).

 

Inspired by Bobby Flay. Copyright 2017 Television Food Network

Grilled steak salad with Arugula, Balsamic-glazed onions, Tomatoes, and Feta

steak-with-feta-and-arugula

 

This is such a simple salad but I think it’s one of the best ways to eat steak.

INGREDIENTS (to serve 4)

6 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 small red onion, thinly sliced into half moons
1 tsp balsamic vinegar (good dipping quality)
1 tsp brown sugar
kosher or sea salt
black pepper (grated)
1 lb skirt, sirloin or round steak
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1.5 oz container of baby arugula (about 6 cups)
1/2 pint red grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise (1 cup)
1/2 pint yellow grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise (1 cup)
2 0z feta, crumbled (1/2 cup)

DIRECTIONS

In large skillet, heat 1 tbsn olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute for 5 minutes, until softened. Add balsamic vinegar and brown sugar, and continue to cook for another 2 minuts, until very soft. Season with salt and pepper. REmove to bowl and let cool.

Rub grill pan with 1 tbsn of olive oil and eheat ovaer high heat. Season steak generously with salt and pepper (sometimes, I’ve marinated steak in dark wine for 30 minutes or even overnight to tenderize and flavour, but it’s not necessary). Grill steak for 3 mintues per side (6 minutes total) for medium rare. Longer if a thick steak and if you want more medium. Remove steak to cutting board, cover, and let sit for 5 minutes. (It will continue cooking so don’t overcook on the grill).

In a large bowl, whisk together red wine vinegar with 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Add arugula and tomatoes to vinaigrette and toss gently to combine.

Thinly slice steak diagonally across the grain, removing fat.

Divid sald mixture among 4 plates. Top each with caramelized onions, steak, and crumbled feta. Serve immediately with crusty bread and a good oil/balsamic dip.