Scallops with Fennel Grenobloise

This dish from Food & Wine is beautiful and delicious in its simplicity — really only five ingredients if you don’t count butter, oil and salt and pepper. Of course, that makes the ingredients you pick all the more important — mainly super fresh, high quality scallops. Splurge! It will be worth it. This dish also depends on cooking the scallops exactly right. It’s not hard — the key is a hot pan and critical attention to the clock. Get the pan nice and hot before you put the scallops in — you’ll get a good sear that way, while keeping the interior soft so it melts in your mouth.

Look at that nice sear! The bold flavors alongside make the dish — the nice anise from the fennel, acid from the lemon and the sharp, salty capers. Top with fresh parsley. Impressive but super fast and easy. Enjoy!

Scallops with Fennel Grenobloise

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound sea scallops
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 medium fennel bulb—trimmed, halved and thinly sliced, fronds reserved for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons drained capers
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, plus lemon wedges for serving
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

Directions

In a large nonstick skillet, heat the olive oil. Season the scallops with salt and pepper and cook over moderately high heat until golden brown on the bottom, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn the scallops and cook until just opaque throughout, 2 to 3 minutes longer. Transfer to a platter and keep warm.

Melt the butter in the skillet. Add the sliced fennel and capers and cook over high heat, stirring, until the fennel is crisp-tender and lightly golden, 2 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and parsley and season with salt and pepper. Spoon the fennel around the scallops and garnish with chopped fennel fronds. Serve with lemon wedges.

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Braised Chicken 
Thighs with Marinated Artichokes
 and Blackened Carrots

img_7695I love comfort food, but I also love some big, bold flavors, and this recipe for Braised Chicken 
Thighs with Marinated Artichokes
 and Blackened Carrots is right up that alley. Both of these beautiful dishes are from Food & Wine, and I whipped it up for my friend April and I for a weeknight catch-up. We were in heaven!

The chicken was absolutely divine — you brown and crisp up the skin in a skillet and then braise the thighs in the oven for an hour, so they are super juicy and fall right off the bone. I especially love braising olives and artichokes — it makes them so tender and sweet, and they absorb up the great flavor from the artichoke brine, garlic, sherry, lemon and fish sauce. It’s an amazing combo of acid, umami, salty and rich from the olive oil in the brine.

Look how beautiful that is!

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And the carrots! These were amazing — and it’s a must to make them with super fresh farmers market carrots, preferably smaller ones so they cook through faster. These are coated in an awesome spice mix including paprika, cayenne, garlic and oregano and topped with a vinaigrette of balsamic and honey. Wow, so much flavor happening and you get such a great sweetness from roasting them through in the oven. I could eat these as a meal on their own!

 

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TW’s Tips

  • When you eat the chicken, make up a bite that has a little bit of everything happening — chicken, olive, artichoke and lemon. Yes, lemon. Cut the entire slices, rind and all, into pieces and eat them — it’s such an awesome hint of bitterness alongside the other flavors. If you love tart, you will loooove this.
  • When the chicken is done, squeeze the garlic cloves out of the head of garlic and smash them up a bit in the sauce so you get that flavor all mixed in too.
  • I could have gone even heavier on artichokes in this one — don’t be afraid to add more.
  • I served this straight up, but you could definitely put it over rice to soak up some of the yummy sauce.
  • The carrots are blackened, so you may stir up quite a bit of smoke in the cooking of these — I sure did. And with all the spices, I was sneezing like crazy! Fair warning: open a window, turn on the hood and get the air moving around in the kitchen for these puppies — it’s worth it.
  • Don’t bother cutting of the ends of the carrots, just wash them well.

Enjoy!

Braised Chicken 
Thighs with Marinated Artichokes

Ingredients

  • 8 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs (3 3/4 pounds)
  • Sea salt and pepper (see Note)
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 15 ounces marinated artichoke hearts, plus 1/4 cup brine from the jar
  • 1 cup Castelvetrano olives
  • 1 head of garlic, halved crosswise
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced
  • 6 thyme sprigs
  • 1 cup chicken stock or low-sodium broth
  • 1/2 cup semidry sherry, such as amontillado
  • 1 tablespoon Asian fish sauce

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375°. Season the chicken all over with salt and pepper. In a large cast-iron skillet or black steel pan, heat the oil. Add half of the chicken skin side down and top the pieces (not the pan) with a pot lid; cook over moderate heat until browned and crisp, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer skin side up to a large baking dish. Repeat with the remaining chicken. Scatter the artichoke hearts, olives, garlic, lemon slices and thyme in the baking dish.

Pour off the fat from the skillet. Add the artichoke brine, stock, sherry and fish sauce; bring to a boil. Stir in 1 teaspoon of salt, then pour the mixture around the chicken. Cover tightly with foil and braise in the oven for 1 hour, until the chicken is very tender.

Uncover and increase the oven temperature to 400°. Roast the chicken for 15 minutes longer, until the skin is crisp.

Discard the thyme. Transfer to plates and serve.

Blackened Carrots

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/4 pounds medium carrots, halved lengthwise
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375°. In a small bowl, whisk the paprika with the oregano, cayenne and garlic powder. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven for 2 minutes, until the spices are fragrant.

Put the butter in a shallow bowl. Dip the cut side of each carrot in the butter and then coat in the spice mixture, pressing to help the spices adhere; transfer to a plate.

In a large cast-iron skillet, heat the canola oil until shimmering. Working in batches if necessary, add the carrots cut side down in a single layer and season with salt and pepper. Cook over high heat until blackened on the bottom, about 2 minutes. Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast for 12 to 15 minutes, until the carrots are just tender.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk the vinegar and honey. Whisk in the olive oil, then season with salt and pepper. Transfer the carrots to a platter and drizzle with the vinaigrette.

Spaghetti with Sautéed Cauliflower, Raisins, and Pine Nuts

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For Meatless Monday tomorrow, I give you this gem. If you haven’t gotten on the cauliflower bandwagon yet, this may well convince you. There’s a ton of flavor going here, and I get it, at first it sounds weird. But trust me — when you put it all together, it works. There’s the caramelized cauliflower, sweetness from the raisins, acid from the lemon and umami from the anchovy, plus cheese, nuts and lots of parsley to top it off=bliss. I loved the addition of panko bread crumbs on top which gave it a nice buttery crunch. This is yet another of Tyler Florence’s hits from his “Tyler’s Ultimate” cookbook.

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It’s nice to have a pasta now and then that doesn’t use a traditional meat or pesto sauce. This one uses just olive oil, a little water and lemon — when reheating you may want to add a bit more olive oil to loosen it up a little.

TW’s Tips

  • Instead of using anchovies, you can buy anchovy paste in a tube (literally like toothpaste)
  • On the raisins, you can use golden or regular
  • To keep this totally vegetarian, just leave out the anchovy (but I don’t recommend it!)
  • On the pinenuts, you can substitute others — almonds, walnuts are good options
  • Keep the toasted breadcrumbs separate so you still get a crunch when you reheat the pasta for leftovers — just sprinkle them on top when it comes out of the microwave.

Enjoy!

Spaghetti with Sautéed Cauliflower, Raisins and Pine Nuts

Ingredients

  • 1 head cauliflower, cored and broken into bite-size florets
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup raisins (TW: I used leftover golden raisins)
  • 2 anchovy fillets, mashed to a paste with the side of a large knife (TW: or use anchovy paste)
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted (TW: I used sliced almonds)
  • 1/2 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 1/2 bunch parsley, chopped, about 1/2 cup
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • Freshly grated Parmesan to taste

Directions

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta. Preheat the oven to 350.

Saute the cauliflower and the anchovies in a saute pan in 1/4 cup of olive oil. Heat over medium heat until the oil is hot and the anchovies are sizzling. Add 1/4 cup of water and season with salt. Bring to a simmer, heat on medium, cover and and steam the cauliflower for about 5 minutes. Uncover and cook for about 5-7 minutes more until the water has evaporated and the cauliflower is starting to brown. Add the raisins and pine nuts and toss to warm through. Remove the pan from the heat and cover to keep warm.

On a baking sheet, drizzle the panko with 2-3 tablespoons of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat and spread out in a layer on a baking sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes or until it’s lightly brown and crunchy.

Cook the spaghetti until al dente.

Drain the spaghetti and place in a large bowl. Add a 2 count of olive oil and toss. Dump in the cauliflower mixture, add the parsley and lemon juice, and fold together. Arrange on a plate and sprinkle with the bread crumbs and cheese.

Lemon Asparagus Pasta Salad

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I loooove pasta salads…that is, as long as they are mayo-free. I’ve made many versions over the years (one of my favorites is Cold Pasta Salad with Roasted Chicken, Plums, Blue Cheese and Basil) and what I love about them is their versatility. You can throw in basically any ingredient, and they’re always ready to serve, no heating needed. It’s the perfect summer food.

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I took this Neelys recipe camping for my BFF’s birthday a few weekends ago. We went to our favorite spot up in the mountains — the last stretch to get there is a 30-minute off-road adventure, which keeps away the crowds — and we basically had the place to ourselves. The first night we had some leftover remnants of smoke from the fires in Southern California, but the next day it blew off and we enjoyed the views of the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains. Gorg! And real pine trees in California! Now that’s camping.

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Back to the food — this pasta salad gets dressed up with asparagus, peas, cherry tomatoes, feta, dill and a lemony dressing. It’s the perfect side dish for a cookout. Throw some in a Tupperware and put it in the cooler for a camping trip. Whip some up this weekend!

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TW’s Tips

  • Next time I might change up the dill and add flat leaf parsley instead, for a fresher, brighter twist.
  • You could also switch up the feta with mozzarella or crumbled goat cheese.
  • Make sure you salt the pasta water — and taste for salt before you serve. I underseasoned mine.

Lemon Asparagus Pasta Salad

Ingredients

  • Salt
  • 1 pound corkscrew pasta
  • 1 pound asparagus
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup freshly chopped dill leaves
  • 1 cup frozen peas, defrosted
  • 7 ounces crumbled feta cheese

Directions

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain and rinse. Set aside.

In another large pot of boiling salted water, add the asparagus and blanch until bright green and slightly tender, about 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon or a spider and shock in icy cold water. Remove from the water and dry well.

Trim the ends of the asparagus and cut into bite-size pieces on the bias.

Whisk together the mustard, garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Combine the reserved asparagus and pasta in a large serving bowl. Add the tomatoes, dill, peas, feta, and the mustard dressing. Toss with tongs to coat the salad well. Taste and add additional salt and pepper, if needed.

Grilled Chicken and Radicchio With Roasted Garlic-Herb Dressing

It’s not summer if you haven’t had grilled chicken! Am I right? This recipe takes your traditional chicken with BBQ sauce to the next level with an amazing roasted garlic-herb dressing. I took this from one of my favorite cookbooks ever — Tyler Florence’s “Tyler’s Ultimate.” I have so many favorites from that book it’s insane. This one didn’t disappoint either.

I love this recipe because it’s pretty simple — there aren’t many ingredients, there’s not a ton of prep, and the end result is simple and delicious. The chicken is super moist and topped with the garlicky herb dressing and a squeeze of grilled lemon, it packs a ton of flavor. I’d never thought about grilling radicchio, but it’s the perfect accompaniment to the chicken. If you’ve never had radicchio, it’s a bitter leaf vegetable (technically chicory) that is typically purplely-pink (definitely a real word) and white in color. I love it, and grilled with a little balsamic, olive oil and salt and pepper, it gets a little sweeter and caramelized on the edges. I personally love the bitter flavor as a contrast. Get a little bit of everything in one bite, and it’s a great combination of crunchy, bitter radicchio, moist chicken, acid from the lemon and fresh, herb-forward dressing.

I made this for my girlfriends Kim and Shahnaz for a night of reality TV indulgence, and paired it with a potato salad. It was a hit. I also love the family-style presentation — reminds me of my family’s dinner table growing up in New Hampshire. Enjoy!

TW’s Tips

  • I had a bunch of chicken drumsticks in the freezer, so instead of using a full chicken, I just used the drumsticks instead — it worked great! Same thing if you want to use up some thighs, etc. Personally, I think it’s a pain to cut up a whole chicken and I’ll avoid it by buying it already separated.
  • I don’t have a grill (I know, I know, workin’ on that) so I just used my trusty grill pan and another skillet side-by-side on the stovetop. A little bit of a hassle, but worth it.
  • I didn’t want to heat up my whole oven to roast the garlic, so instead I used my toaster oven — the perfect solution.
  • When you quarter the radicchio, don’t core it — the core will hold the leaves together while you grill it. You can core it once you’re done grilling, and you’ll want to — the core is tough and inedible.

Grilled Chicken and Radicchio With Roasted Garlic-Herb Dressing

Ingredients

  • 1-2 heads of garlic, cut in half at the equator
  • Kosher salt
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 whole fresh thyme sprigs, plus leaves from 6 sprigs
  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • 2 lemon halves
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 4-4 1/2 pound chicken, cut into 10 similar sized pieces
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 medium head of radicchio, preferably Treviso, cut into quarters

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Cut a piece of aluminium 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 caramelised 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.

Lemon Curry Chicken with Mango-Basmati Rice Salad

If you want a nice, simple dinner with super fresh flavors, this one’s got it. From Tyler Florence: Lemon Curry Chicken with Mango-Basmati Rice Salad. The chicken is easy — just marinated with curry and lemon and simply roasted so the skin crisps up and the meat stays nice and juicy.

And this rice — wow. It’s got such great flavors going with the just-crisp-enough green beans, sweet, ripe mango, crunchy cashews and fresh mint, topped with a splash of olive oil, lemon juice and fresh cracked pepper — amazing.

TW’s Tips

  • I had a bunch of chicken thighs on hand so I used just thighs instead of a whole chicken. It worked great!
  • The fresh mint here makes a huge difference. Don’t skip it.
  • I cut back on the red onion — I used about half of what was called for, and it was plenty.
  • I used jasmine rice — and it was delish.
  • And I skipped the “spread the rice out to let it cool” part. I just mixed everything together. Bam.
Simple. Easy. What’s not to like?

Lemon Curry Chicken with Mango-Basmati Rice Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 (3½ to 4 lb.) chicken, cut into 10 pieces
  • 2 cups plain yogurt
  • 2 Tbs. curry powder
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 Tbs. toasted sesame oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and smashed with the flat side of a large knife
  • Kosher salt
  • ½ lb. tender green beans, trimmed
  • ½ small red onion
  • ¼ cup cashews
  • ¼ cup fresh mint leaves
  • 1 fresh mango, peeled, pitted and chopped
  • 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 400°F. Stir together the yogurt, curry powder, lemon zest and juice, sesame oil, and salt and pepper is a big bowl. Add the chicken and toss gently to coat with the yogurt marinade. Put the chicken on a baking sheet and roast, using the remaining marinade to baste twice as it cooks, until chicken is tender and cooked through, about 45 minutes total.

While the chicken cooks, make the rice salad.

Put the rice in a saucepan with the ginger, 2 cups of water, and 1 ½ tsp. salt and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Give the rice a stir, turn the heat down to low, cover, and cook for 12 minutes without lifting the lid. Spread the cooked rice out on a baking sheet and let it cool to room temperature. Discard the ginger.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the beans. Fill a large bowl with ice water and add enough salt to make it taste lightly salted. Add the beans to the boiling water and cook until just tender, about 3 minutes. Drain, then refresh in the ice water bath to keep the bright green color, and drain well again. Cut the beans in half crosswise on the diagonal.

Put the onion half, cashews and mint on a cutting board and coarsely chop them all up. Combine the rice and green beans in a big bowl and add the chopped onion mixture. Add the chopped mango, olive oil and lemon juice and toss gently. Taste for seasoning.

Mound the rice salad on a platter. Arrange the chicken on top.

Chicken in Lemon Cream with Penne

My best friend Melissa had a gorgeous baby girl, Ruby Lyn, on December 8. I was there for the birth and it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life — beautiful, heart-wrenching, crazy and happy in the span of an insane 22 hours of labor. What can I say — Melissa is a champ! And Ruby is just perfect.

This was the first meal I made for Melissa after the birth: Chicken in Lemon Cream with Penne. My goal was to avoid onions (quite hard to do, actually), include some protein and have it be a pretty simple meal so I could spend more time loving on Ruby than cooking.

The recipe is courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis, from her Everyday Pasta cookbook. It’s so simple, but the sauce, a combination of lemon zest, cream and a hit of spice from cayenne pepper, is full of flavor. If you think lemon on pasta is weird, you have to give this a try. The acidity you typically get from tomato sauce is transformed in the lemon cream, and it’s lighter and more refreshing. The hit of more lemon juice and a sprinkling of parsley at the end add even more brightness.

This is so simple I don’t even have any tips! I served it with a simple green salad. Have at it!

Chicken in Lemon Cream with Penne

Ingredients

  • 1 lb penne pasta (or substitute your favorite type of pasta or spaghetti)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts , diced into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 teaspoon herbes de provence
  • 1 pinch salt , plus
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Directions

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, season with salt. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, 8 to 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Season the cubed chicken with herbes de Provence, salt and pepper. Cook the chicken until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the chicken and set aside. Pour off excess oil from pan. Add the chicken broth to the pan and cook over medium-high heat, scraping up any bits with a wooden spoon. Add the cream, lemon zest, and cayenne. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the pasta, chicken, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, chopped parsley, and lemon juice. Toss to coat the pasta and chicken with the sauce and serve.