Fennel & Garlic Shrimp

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I loooooove fennel. It’s such a weird vegetable — it’s white in color, has a core that needs to be removed, acts like a root vegetable (you eat the bulb vs. the plant that grows on top) and it tastes like nothing you would ever expect a vegetable to taste like — licorice or anise is the only way you can describe it, but it’s a mild version, not like biting into a piece of licorice. And then there’s the crunch you get. And on top of that, it’s so versatile! I’ve made dishes with fennel including a cheesy, rich potato fennel gratin, awesome salads, soups and roasted vegetables. It’s really awesome — you’ve got to try it.

This dish — Fennel and Garlic Shrimp — is a great use of fennel courtesy of Ina Garten. It’s fresh, garlicky and makes an awesome pan sauce that you sop up with crusty bread. Plus, it cooks up super quickly, so it’s a perfect weeknight meal.

TW’s Tips

  • I skipped the Pernod since I couldn’t find a nip and I knew this would be the only time I’d use it — but if you have it, it will add a little bit more licorice flavor
  • The shrimp took a little longer than stated to cook — just watch for them to get opaque and curled

Enjoy!

Fennel & Garlic Shrimp

Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped fennel bulb, fronds reserved
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic (9 cloves)
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 pound (16- to 20-count) shrimp, peeled with tails on
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon Pernod (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon fleur de sel
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • French bread for serving

Directions

Heat the olive oil in a large (12-inch) saute pan over medium heat. Add the fennel and saute for 5 minutes, until tender but not browned. Turn the heat to medium-low, add the garlic and red pepper flakes, and cook at a very low sizzle for 2 to 3 minutes, until the garlic just begins to color.

Pat the shrimp dry with paper towels, add them to the pan, and toss together with the fennel and olive oil. Spread the shrimp in one layer and cook over medium heat for 2 minutes on one side. Turn the shrimp and cook for 2 minutes on the other side, until they’re pink and just cooked through.

Off the heat, sprinkle with the parsley, 1 tablespoon of chopped fennel fronds, the Pernod (if using), the fleur de sel, and black pepper and serve it with bread to soak up all the pan juices.

Spaghetti with Tomato and Walnut Pesto

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I’m sticking with my tomato theme this week — why limit a good thing, right? This Bon Appetit recipe for Spaghetti with Tomato and Walnut Pesto uses cherry tomatoes as a base for a non-basil related pesto — alongside walnuts, anchovies (trust me), garlic and Parmesan. I say trust me on the anchovies because people tend to feel squeamish about these little filets of flavor. And you’re right, I wouldn’t recommend eating one on its own. But these guys are the ones responsible for the great, funky undertone in food classics like Caesar salad dressing. It works the same way fish sauce works in Thai food — used sparingly, and you won’t be able to say “that’s anchovy,” but it adds depth and character. Using the tomatoes for a base makes for a pesto that’s a bit sweeter than what you’re probably used to, but it’s totally delicious and rich and I couldn’t stop eating it.

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IMG_7081And while the pesto doesn’t have basil involved, basil is added at the end of this dish in full leaf form, so you still get that great basil flavor, which cuts through the rest of the tastes beautifully.

TW’s Tips

  • Rather than toast the walnuts in the oven, I did it on the stovetop in a dry skillet — easier and you don’t have to heat up the whole oven.
  • When you buy basil, cut off the bottom of the sprigs and put it in a glass of water on your countertop. I can’t tell you how many bunches of basil I’ve had go bad in one day in the fridge despite my best efforts. This is the way to go — and if you get really fresh basil, it will last a long time — mine lasted two weeks!
  • If you don’t have spaghetti, any type of pasta will work

Enjoy!

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Spaghetti with Tomato and Walnut Pesto

Ingredients

  • ⅔ cup walnuts
  • 2 pints cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 tablespoons plus ⅓ cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • Kosher salt
  • 6 oil-packed anchovies, coarsely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • ½ ounces Parmesan, finely grated (about ½ cup), plus more for serving
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 ounces spaghetti
  • ½ cup (packed) basil leaves

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°. Toast walnuts on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing once, until slightly darkened, 8–10 minutes. Let cool. (see TW tip for another option)

Heat broiler. Toss tomatoes with 2 Tbsp. oil on a rimmed baking sheet; season with salt. Broil, tossing once, until tomatoes are blistered and have released some of their liquid, 5–7 minutes. Let cool.

Pulse anchovies, garlic, lemon zest, red pepper flakes, and ½ oz. Parmesan in a food processor until finely ground. Add walnuts and half of tomatoes, then, with motor running, stream in ⅓ cup oil; process just until combined. Season with salt. Transfer pesto to a large bowl and stir in black pepper.

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain, reserving ½ cup pasta cooking liquid.

Transfer pasta to bowl with pesto and add a splash of pasta cooking liquid. Toss, adding more cooking liquid as needed, until sauce coats pasta. Add basil and remaining tomatoes.

Divide among bowls; top with more Parmesan and black pepper and drizzle with oil.

Do Ahead: Pesto can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.

Heirloom Tomatoes with Ricotta and Savory Granola

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It’s my favorite food time of year…tomato season. What is better than a super fresh, sweet, tasty heirloom tomato right from the garden? One of my favorite things ever! This awesome salad that I spotted in Food & Wine takes advantage of tomato season and matches them up with fresh ricotta seasoned with lemon zest and sunflower sprouts, and an unconventional topping — granola. It’s so simple but so delicious!

The granola incorporates pistachios and sunflower seeds and adds such a nice crunch to the salad. It makes a lot, so you’ll have plenty to throw on some yogurt with some berries for a nice week or so of breakfasts. And the other interesting ingredient — sunflower sprouts. They’re sweet, crunchy and fresh, and add a nice green splash to an already beautiful plate.

Make this and stat while the tomatoes are in their prime!IMG_7072IMG_7071

TW’s Tips

  • Do not skimp on the tomatoes. If you can’t get them fresh at the farmer’s market, don’t bother. Heirloom — even better.
  • Same with the fresh ricotta — must be fresh! You’ll find it at a good grocery store in the cheese section. Don’t you dare use the stuff in plastic tubs in the dairy aisle.
  • Sunflower sprouts won’t be easy to find. I nabbed them at the Union Square greenmarket.

Enjoy!

Heirloom Tomatoes with Ricotta and Savory Granola

Ingredients

  • 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup light agave nectar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 cup shelled unsalted pistachios, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup salted roasted sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup fresh ricotta
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup sunflower sprouts
  • Two 12-ounce heirloom tomatoes, cut into wedges

Directions

Preheat the oven to 325° and line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, toss the oats with the agave, water, 1/4 cup of olive oil and 1 teaspoon of salt until the oats are thoroughly coated. Spread the oats on the prepared baking sheet and bake for about 25 minutes, stirring twice, until the granola is light golden. Stir in the pistachios and sunflower seeds and bake for about 10 minutes longer, until golden brown and dry. Let the granola cool on the baking sheet, stirring occasionally.

In a medium bowl, mix the ricotta with the lemon zest, 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. In another medium bowl, toss the sunflower sprouts with the remaining 1 tablespoon each of olive oil and lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.

Arrange the tomato wedges in shallow bowls and season with salt and pepper. Spoon the ricotta around the tomatoes. Scatter the sprouts on top and sprinkle with some of the granola; save the remaining 
granola for another use. Serve right away.

Coconut Shrimp with Basmati Rice, Apricots and Lime

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Growing up in New Hampshire, Thai food was just not on the radar. Today, thankfully there are a few more options around my hometown, but in the 80s/90s, the extent of ethnic food was some woefully Americanized Chinese and some slapdash Tex-Mex. I must have had my first taste of Thai sometime around grad school — I’m not quite sure — but I do know that I was instantly hooked. There’s so much to love — the rich coconut milk, spicy curries, the acidity of lime and freshness of Thai basil. I loved the variety and the different flavors you just don’t experience when you’re eating super traditional American food. Today, you could convince me to have Thai food any day.

I’ve found it’s impossible to make Thai food at home that tastes as good as what you can get in a good Thai restaurant, but I make an attempt every now and then (especially when I can get good ingredients at the great ethnic food stores in NYC). This recipe from Tyler Florence is a solid showing. It’s got lots of coconut milk going, with ginger, lemongrass and Thai basil. The peanuts on top add a great crunch and richness.

The rice in this dish is actually really great — and I’m not a rice girl. The addition of arugula adds some interesting spiciness, and the dried apricots are a great hit of sweetness.

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TW’s Tips

  • Despite all the ethnic food stores here, I couldn’t find kafir lime leaves. I had to go with regular lime.
  • Go to the effort of finding Thai basil. It’s quite different from the traditional Italian basil — the flavor is really amazing. I even saw Thai basil at the greenmarket today.
  • Don’t overcook the shrimp. I had to cook them a bit longer than indicated in the recipe to cook them through. Look for them to curl and turn opaque.
  • Have some Thai chile sauce on the side that you can mix in to add a little heat to this.

Enjoy!

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Coconut Shrimp with Basmati Rice, Apricots and Lime

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp peanut oil
  • 2 inch piece of fresh ginger, unpeeled and smashed with the side of a large knife
  • 2 Thai chiles, chopped
  • 2 lemongrass stalks, white parts only, chopped into small pieces
  • 4 shallots, chopped
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 quart coconut milk
  • 2 kafir lime leaves, or one lime, halved
  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 1.5 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots, halved
  • 3 scallions, white and green parts, finely chopped
  • Handful of arugula leaves
  • 1.5 lbs medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 1 small can straw mushrooms, drained
  • 4 fresh Thai basil sprigs for garnish
  • 1/4 cup salted, roasted peanuts for garnish
  • 1 lime, quartered, for garnish

Directions

First get the sauce going: Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the ginger, chiles, lemongrass, and shallots and cook until the shallots are softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the tomato paste, sugar, coconut milk, and lime leaves and give it a stir. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer, uncovered, for about 25 minute, until the sauce is reduced by about one third and thickened.

While that’s cooking, jump to the rice. Combine the rice, salt, and 2 cups of water in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat, cover, and cook until the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Stir in the apricots, scallions and arugula.

To finish, add the shrimp to the pot with the sauce and simmer gently just to cook through, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the straw mushrooms and stir. Spoon the rice into the bottom of 4 bowls. Spoon the shrimp over along with the sauce and garnish each bowl with basil, peanuts and a wedge of lime.

Slow-Cooker Indian Butter Chicken

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You’ve gotta love a great crock pot meal, especially when the weather heats up and you really don’t want to turn on the oven. This is one I’ll be coming back to — it’s spicy, flavorful and suuuuper easy. If you love Indian food, you’ll love this. It combines boneless chicken thighs, potatoes and onion in a rich sauce spiced with garam masala, cinnamon and some spicy chile peppers. The addition of cilantro at the end is the perfect freshness.

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TW’s Tips

  • I forgot to add the cream (oops!) and it was great without.
  • For the accompanying naan, toast it up over a gas burner using some tongs.
  • Serve with rice and a side salad. I went with avocado, tomato and cucumber.

Enjoy!

Slow-Cooker Indian Butter Chicken

Ingredients

  • 3 pieces naan bread
  • 1 red onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 pound baby red-skinned potatoes, halved or quartered if large
  • 1 Fresno chile or red jalapeno pepper, halved lengthwise, seeded and sliced
  • 1 small bunch cilantro, leaves and tender stems separated, chopped
  • 1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs (about 6)
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 15 -ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream (TW: I forgot to add this and it was great without!)
  • Kosher salt

Directions
Crumble 1/2 piece naan into coarse crumbs; transfer to a 6-quart slow cooker. Add the red onion, potatoes, chile and cilantro stems. Arrange the chicken thighs in a single layer over the vegetables and sprinkle with the garam masala, 3/4 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper. Dot with the butter and add the cinnamon stick. Pour the tomato sauce over the top. Cover and cook on low, 7 hours.

Uncover and switch to the warm setting or turn off. Gently stir in the heavy cream, breaking the chicken into large chunks; let stand 10 minutes. Stir in the cilantro leaves and season with salt. Serve with the remaining naan.

Warm Spinach Salad with Bacon and Soft Boiled Egg

IMG_6590This salad is really, really delicious. It’s so simple. And so good. The ingredients are few:  you get an awesome contrast from savory caramelized onions and garlic, salty bacon, sweet honey and the bite of the apple cider vinegar all on top of the nice freshness of the spinach. And in my opinion, put a runny egg on top of anything and you’re golden. This is yet another winner from Tyler Florence — his “Ultimates” cookbook is one of my regular go-to’s.

Everything comes together really quickly on this one, so make sure you time it well so the egg isn’t sitting around and cooking more while you wait for the onions to caramelize. Recommend getting the water to boil on first, and cooking up the bacon while you wait for that to work. Once the onions and garlic are caramelized, you can turn the burner off if the water has still not come to a boil, and then turn it back up when it’s almost there, so the spinach is ready when the eggs come out.

TW’s Tips

  • I skipped cutting up the bacon ahead of time and just cooked it up nice and crispy and crumbled it over the salad
  • I made this for one (would be really tough to reheat), and used 2 pieces of bacon, one egg, 1/4 onion, 1 garlic clove and almost a full bag of spinach for one serving. One onion seemed like an awful lot to me.
  • The original recipe called for letting the eggs sit for 12 minutes — this does NOT work for a soft boiled egg. The ideal you’re looking for here is a runny yolk so you can mix all that goodness up in the spinach. After trial and error I got a pretty soft yolk letting the egg sit for 2 minutes — if you do 1 minute it would be nice and runny.
  • Pull the eggs out of the water with a slotted spoon and run under cold water/plunge into an ice bath immediately to stop the cooking.

Enjoy!

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Warm Spinach Salad with Bacon and Soft Boiled Egg

Ingredients

  • 2 large eggs (TW: or more)
  • 2 bacon, slices cut crosswise into thin strips (TW: see note above)
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons honey (TW: I used agave syrup)
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 (1 lb) bag baby spinach (TW: recommend 2 bags)
  • kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Put the eggs in a small saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, turn the heat off and let the eggs sit for 1 1/2-2 minutes. Lift the eggs out of the pan and cool; peel the eggs.

Meanwhile, put the bacon strips into a big skillet and cook for 3 to 4 minutes over medium heat to render the fat. Scoop the bacon out and set aside onto a plate, leaving the fat in the pan. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 5-6 minutes, until soft. Add the honey and vinegar and keep cooking until the onion has caramelized, about 5 more minutes. Toss the spinach into the pan, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss with tongs until the spinach is just wilted, about 30 seconds. Dump the spinach out into a bowl and add the bacon. Halve the eggs and arrange on top of the salad.

Grilled Chicken with Garlic-Herb Dressing and Grilled Lemon and Radicchio

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I hope everyone had an amazing Memorial Day — I spent mine in New Hampshire hanging out with my parents and grandmothers. It was super relaxing and I got in lots of crossword time with my Dad, had lunch with my Grams and got to meet a dear friend’s daughter for the first time.

Weekends like this are best for cookouts, which I don’t get to do much of in NYC. This recipe is one you can do on the grill, but you can also make do with a grill pan on the stove if needed (and I do need most times!). And just check out how beautiful it looks plated up!

The secret to this Tyler Florence recipe is a really awesome vinaigrette loaded with garlic, parsley, lemon and thyme, and the perfect juxtaposition of the juicy chicken alongside the bitter radicchio with some great acid from the balsamic and the lemon. I love what grilling does to the radicchio, giving it a nice char and sweetness, and same with grilled lemon — it adds a little something that you don’t get from it when it’s raw.

TW’s Tips

  • You can make the vinaigrette a day ahead; keep in the fridge and bring to room temp before using.
  • The recipe calls for one chicken broken into parts; I love chicken legs so I used a big pack of legs for this, just aim for about 4 pounds of meat

Enjoy this chicken with some of your favorite grill sides — or make it a meal in itself.

Grilled Chicken with Garlic-Herb Dressing and Grilled Lemon and Radicchio

Ingredients

  • 2 heads garlic, cut in 1/2 horizontally
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 whole fresh thyme sprigs, plus leaves from 6 sprigs
  • 2 lemons, juiced, plus 2 lemons, halved
  • About 1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, leaves chopped
  • 1 (4 to 4 1/2-pound) chicken, cut into 10 pieces (or any combination — I used just legs)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 heads radicchio, preferably Treviso, cut into quarters
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Cut a piece of aluminum foil about 12 inches long.

Put the garlic on 1/2 of the foil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, drizzle in some olive oil, and add 2 sprigs of thyme. Fold the foil enclosing the garlic, making a pouch, and add a couple teaspoons of water. Fold the foil over the garlic to enclose and fold in the edges 2 or 3 times to seal. Put the package in the oven and roast for 30 minutes, or longer, until the garlic is soft. Open the package and let the garlic cool a bit, then squeeze out the cloves into a food processor or blender. Add 1/2 cup olive oil, the lemon juice, parsley, and thyme leaves and puree to make a thick vinaigrette.

Preheat an outdoor gas or charcoal grill to medium heat.

Rinse the chicken and pat dry with paper towels. Put the pieces in a bowl, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and drizzle with olive oil; toss to coat with the seasonings and then refrigerate while you get everything else together.

Put the radicchio in another bowl, drizzle with olive oil, balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss; set aside.

When you’re ready to cook, take a few paper towels and fold them several times to make a thick square. Blot a small amount of oil on the paper towel and carefully and quickly wipe the hot grates of the grill to make a nonstick surface.

Season with salt and pepper and place the radicchio quarters on the preheated grill. Cook the radicchio for about 2 minutes per side until it has a nice char; pull it off the grill, place into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside to steam and finish cooking.

Then put the chicken on the grill, skin side down, and grill. Grill the chicken for about 20 minutes, turning once, then baste with about half of the vinaigrette and keep cooking until an instant-read thermometer stuck into the thickest part of the thigh reads 160 degrees F and the chicken is nice and caramelized all over, 15 to 20 more minutes. During the last few minutes, throw the lemon halves on the grill, cut sides down, and cook until just marked and smoky.

To serve, separate the radicchio into individual leaves in a big bowl. Add the chicken and the rest of the dressing and toss well. Serve with grilled lemon halves, squeeze the lemon over the chicken, and top with reserved dressing.