Mustard & Olive Oil Roasted Potatoes

I love making different kinds of oven roasted potatoes.  Anyone who knows me can tell you that most of my brunches and dinners contain a roasted potato dish of some kind.  So, for Kevin’s Father’s Day dinner, I made these mustard and olive oil roasted potatoes as another side to the char grilled pork chops.  They were amazing!  What gave these potatoes an edge was that they were yukon gold potatoes.  Their natural buttery flavor and sturdy low starch texture make them the perfect potatoes for roasting, as they retain their shape during the roasting (and any cooking) process.  You may use any other potato you would like, but I believe that once you try the Yukon gold potatoes, you will tend to stick to them.

MUSTARD AND OLIVE OIL ROASTED POTATOES

6 large Yukon Gold Potatoes
2 tablespoons Grainy Mustard
4 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 White Onion
1 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper
2 tablespoons flat leaf (Italian) Parsley – finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Begin by dicing the potatoes into medium wedges, and slicing the onions lengthwise.  Place them in large bowl.  In a separate small bowl, whisk together the grainy mustard, extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Pour them over the potatoes and onion slices, and stir to coat everything evenly.  Place the coated potatoes and onion slices on a baking sheet, and bake in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour.  While in the oven, you may want to toss them around occasionally, to get them to brown more evenly.

When they are soft and golden brown, remove them from the oven, and plate them on a serving platter.  Garnish with the finely chopped flat leaf parsley.  I hope you love them as much as my family and I do.


French Green Beans w/ Garlic Infused Olive Oil

This Father’s Day, to go along with the brined and char grilled pork chops, I made a side of garlic infused olive oiled green beans.  They were so good!  This is a very easy dish to make, as it calls for 6 ingredients, two of which are salt and pepper.

FRENCH GREEN BEANS WITH GARLIC INFUSED OLIVE OIL

2 lbs French Green Beans
1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
8 – 10 large Garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoon Red Chili Flakes
1 teaspoon Sea Salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper

Begin by washing and de-stringing the green beans.  I love using French green beans, because they tend to be much more tender and have less strings than regular green beans.  You may snap off the jagged top and any strings you find.  Blanch the prepped green beans in a large pot of boiling salted water for about 3 to 5 minutes.  The green beans should be a bit tender, while retaining a slight crunch.  Drain the beans immediately, and immerse them in a large bowl of icy water.  This allows the green beans to stop cooking, while maintaining their beautiful green color.

After the green beans have cooled in their icy bath, drain them, and make sure to dry them thoroughly.

Meanwhile, thinly slice the garlic cloves, and place them in a small sauce pan with the extra virgin olive oil and red chili flakes.  Cook on low heat for about 30 minutes, then turn up the heat to medium high, and allow the garlic to crisp and get to a golden color.  Immediately as the garlic becomes golden in color, turn off the heat, remove the cloves, and place them in a small bowl to the side.

In a large sauté pan on medium heat, add the garlic and red chili flake infused oil, the green beans, salt, and pepper.  Toss until all the green beans are evenly coated.  Leave on the heat and toss occasionally to warm the beans.  Check the seasoning and adjust accordingly.  Turn the heat off, add the golden garlic slices to the green beans, and toss.  Gently ladle or scoop the French green beans into a serving platter … bon appétit!


Char Grilled Pork Chops w/ Dijon Mustard Cream Sauce

Growing up in a Christian Lebanese household, we tended to shy away from pork products, unless they were in cured meat form, like salami, mortadella, Spanish chorizo, etc.  Obviously, it had nothing to do with religion; it was just based on preference.  Since my food encompasses many different cuisines, I decided to give pork chops a starring chance for Father’s Day this year, as my husband loves them.  So, I brined some porterhouse pork chops for 2 days, before grilling them over organic charcoal.  They were so juicy and flavorful!  I also made mustard and olive oil roasted potatoes and French green beans with garlic infused olive oil as part of the meal.  Kevin was happy.

PORK CHOPS AND THE BRINE

3 quarts Water
1/2 cup Salt
1/2 cup brown Sugar
6 sprigs Thyme
2 sprigs Oregano
1 Bay Leaf
1/2 Onion
5 cloves Garlic
1 tablespoon Black Pepper – whole berries
4  Porterhouse Pork Chops

In a large enough sauce pan, bring the water, salt, brown sugar, thyme, oregano, bay leaf, onion, garlic, and black pepper to a boil.  Turn the stove off and allow the brine to cool to room temperature.  You may want to add some ice to speed the process.  Rinse the pork chops, and place them in a container.  Add the cooled brine and cover the container.  Place the covered container in the refrigerator for 24 to 48 hours.  I find that the longer the chops brine, the better.

IMG_5380

GRILLING THE CHOPS

4 brined Porterhouse Pork Chops
2 – 4 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper

Grill pan, Charcoal grill, or Gas grill.  For the best flavor, please use a charcoal grill.

When it is time to char grill the beautifully brined pork chops, remove them from the brine, and dry them thoroughly.  Coat each chop with extra virgin olive oil, then lightly salt and pepper them on each side.  Grill the chops, then allow them to rest for about 5 to 10 minutes, while you make the mustard cream sauce.  

DIJON MUSTARD CREAM SAUCE

2 tablespoons organic Butter
1 large Shallot – finely diced
1/4 cup Sherry Wine
1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon Mustard
3/4 cup heavy Cream
1 pinch Salt
5 grinds Black Pepper
2 tablespoons chopped Chives – for garnish

In a sauté pan on medium heat, melt the butter, then add the finely diced shallot.  Allow the shallot to sauté and become translucent.  Add the sherry, letting it simmer for a couple of minutes, as the alcohol cooks out and the flavors concentrate.  Stir in the Dijon mustard.  Add the cream, salt, and pepper.  Allow to cook for another couple of minutes for the flavors to meld together.  Taste the sauce, and adjust the seasoning, if need be.

Now, that the chops have rested, and the mustard cream sauce is ready, feel free to plate the chops and top them with the sauce.  Or, you can set all the food at the table, and allow everyone to serve themselves.  I chose to plate the chops for dinner, as it was Father’s Day.  I had some chives that I chopped and garnished the chops with.  The meal was delicious and Kevin approved.  Bon Appétit!


Mini Vanilla Pancakes w/ Macerated Raspberries & Mascarpone Cream

These mini vanilla pancakes with macerated raspberries and mascarpone cream are a very delicious way of starting or ending a brunch.  You can also make them as something slightly different form the usual pancakes and syrup.  My family loves them.  You may want to start with the macerated raspberries, as they will be macerating in the refrigerator for about an hour.

MACERATED RASPBERRIES

12 ounces Raspberries
1/4 cup granulated Sugar
1/2 Lemon juiced

Place the raspberries, sugar, and lemon juice in a bowl.  With a fork, gently mash the raspberries, and mix all the ingredients together.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and place it in the refrigerator for at least an hour.  When the macerated raspberries have been in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes, start on your pancakes.

MINI VANILLA PANCAKES

2 cups All Purpose Flour
1/4 cup granulated Sugar
2 tablespoons Baking Powder
Pinch of Salt
1 cup organic heavy Cream
1 cup organic Milk
2 organic large Eggs
2 tablespoons organic Butter melted
2 tablespoons pure Vanilla Extract

Begin by whisking or sifting (for a smoother batter) the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.  In another bowl, add the cream, milk, eggs, butter, and vanilla, and whisk them until they are homogenized.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and stir just enough to combine and form the pancake batter.  Do not over work the batter.  It is ok to have some lumps.

You may use oil or butter for cooking your pancakes.  Heat a skillet or griddle over medium heat, and lightly oil or butter it.  With a tablespoon or an ice cream scoop, ladle a spoonful of the batter onto the griddle or skillet.  When you see bubbles forming on the top, gently check to see, if the bottom is golden brown.  If so, flip the pancake, and allow it to cook for another couple of minutes for the top to brown.  Place all the golden brown pancakes on a serving dish.  If you are not going to serve the pancakes soon, cover them to keep them from drying out.

MASCARPONE CREAM

8 ounces Mascarpone Cheese – at room temperature
1 pint heavy whipping Cream
1/2 cup powdered Sugar
2 tablespoons pure Vanilla Extract

Make sure your mascarpone cheese is at room temperature, and that the heavy whipping cream is very cold.  In a stand mixer, place the mascarpone, heavy cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla, and whisk them on high, until you form stiff peaks.  If you do not have a stand mixer, use a bowl and a hand mixer.  You can always whisk the ingredients by hand, but it takes a very long time, and it is very tiring; so, I do not recommend it.  If you are not going to serve the pancakes immediately, cover the freshly whipped mascarpone cream with plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator, until you are ready to serve.

When you are ready to serve the pancakes, you can either plate them, add the macerated raspberries, and top them with the mascarpone cream; or, you can have your family and guests do it themselves.

They are very delicious!


Arugula Salad w/ Lemon Vinaigrette

This salad is very clean and fresh.  It goes well with many dishes, especially hearty animal protein and heavier dishes or hors d’oeuvres that need a little acid to cut the fat, and balance the flavors.  The last time I made this zesty salad was last weekend to accompany blue cheese, tomato, and thyme tarts.  It is very easy to make.

ARUGULA SALAD WITH LEMON VINAIGRETTE

1 small package Arugula or Arugula/Spinach mix – 0.5 ounces
4 tablespoons Lemon Juice
5 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 teaspoon Sea Salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper

Wash and thoroughly dry the greens (using a salad spinner), and place them in a large salad bowl.  In a small bowl or dressing jar, add the lemon juice, salt, and pepper.  If you are using a bowl, slowly drizzle in the extra virgin olive oil, while whisking.  If, however, you are using a jar, place the lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper in the jar, and shake it very well to get the vinaigrette to emulsify properly.

Immediately before serving, drizzle the vinaigrette gently and slowly around the edges of the bowl, as in on the outside of the greens, as they are quite delicate.  Gently toss the salad with the vinaigrette.  Serve and Enjoy!


Blue Cheese, Tomato & Thyme Tarts

As I mentioned in my previous post, I made these tarts for a brunch my husband and I hosted last weekend.  They are some of my favorite tarts to make and to serve during a fun gathering.  They go best with an arugula salad, tossed in a lemon vinaigrette. To be featured in my next post.

BLUE CHEESE, TOMATO, AND THYME TARTS
Makes 15 – 20 tarts

1 sheet Puff Pastry (preferably Dufour brand)
6 – 8 oz Blue Cheese
2 Shallots
1 cup Cherry Tomatoes
1 tablespoon fresh Thyme
3 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt
15 – 20 grinds Black Pepper

Thaw the puff pastry according to the package instructions.

Begin by slicing the shallots and cherry tomatoes, and placing them in a bowl with the salt.  Allow them to soften by sitting at room temperature for about 15 minutes.  In the meantime, sprinkle a little flour on a clean surface, and roll out the puff pastry.  With a round cookie cutter, cut out individual round tarts.  You may want to prick each tart with a fork to keep the pastry from rising in the oven.  I, however, don’t prick them, as I like the way they look when they rise.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

After you crumble the blue cheese, place about a teaspoon of it on each tart, followed by a couple of tomatoes, a few shallots, some fresh thyme, freshly ground pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil.  Place the tarts on parchment paper and into the oven for about 15 to 20 minutes.  When they are done, take them out of the oven and allow them to sit, until they reach room temperature.  Plate them and serve them with whatever you would like, preferably an arugula salad with a lemon vinaigrette.  ENJOY!


Bacon, Potato & Mushroom Hash w/ Sunny Side Up Eggs

My husband and I hosted about eight of our friends for brunch this Saturday.  It was wonderful!  The food was delicious, the mimosas were free flowing, and the conversation was engaging.  I made a hash with butter fried eggs on top, blue cheese, tomato, and thyme tarts, arugula salad with lemon vinaigrette, and mini vanilla pancakes with macerated raspberries and mascarpone cream.  I will post the recipes to all these delicious dishes; however, this posting will be about the hash and eggs.

BACON, POTATO, AND MUSHROOM HASH WITH SUNNY SIDE UP EGGS

THE POTATOES:

2 lbs Yukon Gold Potatoes
4 tablespoons Organic Butter – melted
1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 tablespoon Sea Salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper
1 teaspoon Onion Powder
1 teaspoon Piment d’Espelette
1/2 teaspoon fresh Oregano
1 tablespoon fresh Thyme

Start by making the potatoes, as they take the longest to cook.  Cut the potatoes into small cubes, and place in a large bowl; pat them dry with a paper towel, before adding the rest of the ingredients.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Add the olive oil, melted butter, salt, pepper, onion powder, piment d’espelette, oregano, and thyme to the bowl.  Mix well, then place the potatoes on a baking sheet and in the oven for about 30 minutes.  Do not crowd the potatoes.  I used two different baking sheets to get the potatoes to get crispy on the outside.  Take the potatoes out of the oven, and leave to the side for a few minutes.  You may now combine them onto one baking sheet, as I did in the picture above (to maximize space).  Keep the oven on for the bacon.

THE BACON & MUSHROOMS

12 Crimini Mushrooms
2 Shallots
4 tablespoons Organic Butter
1 teaspoon fresh Thyme
1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper
12 slices Maple Bacon – thick slices

Begin by placing the bacon slices on a rack that is placed on a baking sheet to capture all the grease.  Place the bacon in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 30 minutes.  Take the bacon out of the oven and allow it to rest for a few minutes.  Take all the bacon fat that is collected in the baking sheet, and place it in a container to go in the refrigerator.  If you choose to cook with it, then go ahead.  I, however, do not like to use it.  I leave it in the refrigerator until it hardens, then I toss it in the trash, as the grease should NEVER be thrown into the sink.

Gather the cooked bacon, then dice it into smallish cubes, and put them in a sauté pan on medium to medium high heat.  Since most of the fat was rendered in the oven, you will not get much while sautéing it.  This step is just to make the bacon crispy.  Take the crispy bacon bits out of the pan, and place them onto a plate covered with a paper towel to soak up the residual fat.  If there is a lot of fat in the pan, you may remove it or keep it.  If you choose to keep it, do not use the butter for this step.  I did not get much bacon fat, so I used the butter.

In that same sauté pan, melt the butter.  Finely dice the shallots, then add them to the pan.  Clean and chop the mushrooms, then add them to the caramelized shallots.  Sauté the mushrooms for about 5 minutes, then add the salt, pepper, and thyme.  Cook for another 3 to 5 minutes.

In the same sauté pan, add some or all the roasted potatoes, depending on the size of your pan, and allow the flavors to develop by sautéing the bacon, mushrooms, shallots, and potatoes on low heat for a few minutes.  For the eggs …

THE EGGS

3 – 4 tablespoons Organic Butter
10 large Organic Eggs
3 tablespoons Chives – finely chopped
1 teaspoon Sea Salt – to taste
16 grinds freshly ground Black Pepper

In a non-stick skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of butter on medium heat for every 3 eggs you will be cooking.  Cook the eggs, until the whites are white and hard and no longer translucent.  The yolk must still be runny; unless, you prefer otherwise.  You may salt and pepper the eggs in the pan, or after you plate them.

For the plating, scoop some of the hash onto a plating dish.  Gently add one or two of your cooked sunny side up eggs on top of the hash.  If you did not season the eggs, lightly salt and pepper them.  Then garnish with the desired amount of finely chopped chives on top of the eggs for a gentle onion flavor.  Repeat for however many guests you have.  Serve and ENJOY!


Grilled Sweet Corn & Vegetable Salad w/ Mediterranean Vinaigrette

I recently decided that my family and I needed a break from all kinds of animal protein.  We need to have something fresh and healthy.  So, I grilled quite a few vegetables, made a delicious Mediterranean vinaigrette, and combined them together in a very vibrant grilled salad.  If you would like to add animal protein to this dish, grilled chicken breasts would go wonderfully.

GRILLED SWEET CORN AND VEGETABLE SALAD WITH MEDITERRANEAN VINAIGRETTE

The Salad

5 ears Sweet Corn
1 white Onion
1 red Bell Pepper
6 large Cremini Mushrooms
1 cup Garbanzo Beans – cooked
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Black Pepper – freshly ground
3/4 cup English or Persian Cucumbers
2 Avocados

Make sure all your vegetables are cleaned and / or washed by you (not the store) before you use them.  Slice the bell pepper and onion into manageable and easily grilled sliced.  Remove the shank, husk, and silk from the corn.  Oil, salt, and pepper the corn, mushrooms, onion slices, and bell pepper slices, and place them on a hot grill pan or an outdoor grill.  Grill each side until the vegetables are slightly charred or caramelized.  While you are grilling, prepare the vinaigrette.

MEDITERRANEAN VINAIGRETTE

1/4 cup Italian Parsley – finely chopped
2 tablespoons Cilantro – finely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh Oregano – finely chopped
1 large Lemon – zested & juiced
1/2 Orange – juiced
1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard
1/4 – 1/2 Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tablespoon Capers
1 teaspoon Salt or more to taste
1 teaspoon Black Pepper – freshly ground

Finely chop the parsley, cilantro, and oregano, and place them in a bowl with the dijon mustard, lemon zest, lemon juice, orange juice, capers, salt, and pepper.  Slowly drizzle in the extra virgin olive oil, and whisk, until the vinaigrette comes together and is emulsified.  Leave the vinaigrette in the refrigerator, until you are done making the salad, so the flavors can adequately meld together.

On a large clean cutting board or surface, place the grilled corn stem side down.  Run a sharp knife along each side, slicing the kernels off the ear and onto the surface.  Place all the corn in large bowl.  Slice the rest of the grilled vegetables, and add them to the bowl with the corn.  Add the cooked garbanzo beans.  Dice the cucumbers into small cubes, and add them as well.  You may slice the avocados, squeeze some lemon juice on them to prevent them from turning brown, and leave them to the side for garnish.  Or … you can slice them at the very last minute.

Take the vinaigrette out of the refrigerator, and drizzle it all over the salad.  Mix the salad well.  You may leave your freshly made salad in the refrigerator for the flavors to marry … or, you may serve it, while it is still warm.  When you are ready to serve the salad, top it with the fresh avocado slices, or leave them on the side, and Enjoy!