Spinach, Mushroom, Havarti & Egg Tarts w/ Gremolata

One Saturday morning, I decided to make breakfast for my family from what was already in the refrigerator.  I did not want to go to the store or the farmer’s market.  It was my lazy day to lounge about, while enjoying a hot cup of perfectly brewed organic Guatemalan coffee.  I decided to make them spinach and mushroom tarts, topped with a sunny side-up egg and gremolata for freshness.

SPINACH, MUSHROOM, HAVARTI, AND EGG TARTS WITH GREMOLATA

4 Ramekins
2 tablespoons organic Butter
2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 cloves Garlic – minced
1 large Shallot sliced
6 large Crimini Mushrooms
5 small sweet Peppers
1 tablespoon fresh Thyme – finely chopped
2 cups baby Spinach
4 tablespoons Heavy Cream
6 oz Havarti Cheese – grated
pinch Red Chili Flakes
1 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper

In a large enough sauté pan, melt the butter and heat the olive oil on medium high heat.  Add the sliced shallots and minced garlic, and sauté them until they are translucent, making sure not to burn the garlic.  Add the pepper.  Slice the mushrooms and sweet peppers, and add them to the sauté pan.  Allow them to cook for a few minutes, then add the finely chopped thyme, salt, and red chili flakes.  Sauté them for another few minutes, then remove them from the heat.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  On a clean cutting board, run your knife through the spinach, and place an equal amount in each of the four ramekins.  Top the spinach with the mushroom, shallot, and pepper mixture.  Add a tablespoon of heavy cream to every ramekin.  Grate the Havarti cheese, and top the ramekins with the cheese.  Place the ramekins on a baking sheet and in the oven for 20 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and golden brown.

While the spinach and mushroom tarts are in the oven, make the gremolata.  After which, you can make the eggs.

GREMOLATA

3 tablespoons flat leaf Parsley – finely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh Oregano – finely chopped
1 Lemon – zested
1 clove Garlic
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

After finely chopping the parsley and oregano, place them in a bowl.  Grate the garlic clove, and place it with the herbs.  Add the lemon zest, salt, pepper, and olive oil.  Mix well, and leave to the side as you make the eggs.

EGGS

1 tablespoon organic Butter
4 organic Eggs
Pinch of Salt
4 grinds of Black Pepper

You may make the all the eggs at one time or individually.  I have chosen to make all four of them at the same time in a large non-stick sauté pan.  Melt the butter over medium high heat, then add the eggs to the pan.  Let the eggs cook until all the whites are firm.  Salt and pepper the eggs.  Place each egg on top of each of the ramekins.  Gently spoon a little of the gremolata over the egg.  Serve and enjoy.


Seared Flank Steak w/ Black Gold Coffee Dry Rub

A few days ago, I decided to use the Black Gold Coffee Dry Rub that I generously received from Dead Rooster Co.   When I first smelled this rub, I thought of chili with a gentle hint of coffee, as the cumin and cinnamon were a little assertive.  Even though my family loves chili, it is summer in Dallas after all, and chili would have been great on a cold day.  So, I thought I would use it on a steak instead.  I also wanted to use my cast iron skillet.  So, I bought a flank steak, lathered it with extra virgin olive oil, then massaged it with the coffee rub.  I let the steak sit in the refrigerator for a few hours.  I seared it, and then finished it in the oven.

When I served the steak to my family and friends, who were visiting from out of town, they really loved it.  The rub tasted nothing like chili.  It was very bold and deep in flavor, yet it was very smooth.  The coffee, cumin, cinnamon, and rest of the spices worked very well together to yield a completely unexpected flavor.  It actually tasted like chocolate!  I have never had steak and chocolate together, but if this is what that combination would taste like, then I am all in!  It was very delicious!  The spice level of the rub was just right for the depth of its flavor and the heartiness of the meat.  I also made a very simple butter sauce and a light citrusy arugula salad to go with the steak.  That was the perfect combination!  The salad added a bit of freshness, and served to lighten the dish a little.  One of my friends actually asked me for some of that amazing Black Gold rub to take home to Montreal.

SEARED FLANK STEAK WITH BLACK GOLD COFFEE DRY RUB

2 lbs Flank Steak
3 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 tablespoons Black Gold Coffee dry rub
4 tablespoons organic Butter

Begin by rinsing and thoroughly drying the flank steak.  Drizzle only 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil on the steak, and lather it well on both sides.  Sprinkle the coffee rub all over the steak, making sure to massage it well into the flesh.  Cover the steak with plastic wrap, and leave it in the refrigerator for as little as 1 hour.

Remove the steak form the refrigerator, and allow it to sit at room temperature for 30 to 45 minutes.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  In a large cast iron skillet over medium high heat, pour in the rest of the olive oil.  When the oil is hot enough, gently place the steak in the skillet, searing it until the bottom forms a caramelized crust all over the meat.  That process should take about 2 to 4 minutes.  Flip the steak over, and allow it sear just like before, until the meat forms a beautiful brown crust.  Remove the skillet from the stove, and place it in the oven for about 5 – 7 minutes, depending on the oven and the size of the steak.  Meanwhile, make the arugula salad.

ARUGULA SALAD RECIPE

Take the beautifully cooked steak out of the oven, and place it on a clean surface covered with aluminum foil, so it can rest for about 10 minutes.  Remove most of the olive oil used in the cooking process.  Place the skillet back on the stove, and melt the butter over medium heat, while stirring with a wooden spoon.  As the butter melts, the stirring will help pick up all the little bits of flavor stuck to the bottom of the skillet.

On a clean cutting board, slice the steak into strips, against the grain, which will give you a more tender piece of meat.  Plate the slices of steak as you wish, and top them with the melted “butter and brown bit sauce”.  Place a little arugula salad on the side.  Serve and ENJOY!  You will love this rub!


Char Grilled Chicken w/ Olde Tymers Savory Herb Dry Rub & Chimichurri

I recently received a generous portion of dry rubs from Dead Rooster Co., Black Gold Coffee Dry Rub and Olde Tymers Savory Herb Dry Rub.  (The coffee rub will be discussed in the next post.)  My husband, Kevin, and I are hosting some of our family and friends from out of town this week.  As I will be spending a lot of time in the kitchen, I decide to use those rubs for the different meals I will be making and in different applications.  I know most people defer to smoking or barbecuing their rubbed meat.  I, however, decide to do something different, something closer to my mediterranean roots.  Even though we have the Big Green Egg that moonlights as a smoker, I decide to use it to char grill a protein covered with those new rubs I received, instead.

After smelling and tasting the savory herb dry rub, I make the decision to use it on chicken.  I butterfly two chickens, brine them for two days, lather them with extra virgin olive oil and the rub, leave them in the refrigerator overnight, then char grill them.  The flavor is amazing!  The charcoal truly compliments the savory light, yet assertive flavor of the rub.  The fresh sent of citrus kissed with a hint of smokey cumin is equally as intoxicating!  All I can say is … we loved it!

Another important thing to mention is the absence of preservatives, additives, and artificial flavor enhancers of any kind.  The only ingredients listed on both packets are salt, herbs, and spices.  As I am always quite picky about what I feed my family, I will definitely be using these rubs more often.

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
2 butterflied Chickens – backbone taken out

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 both chickens, remove their backbones (or have your butcher do it for you), and place them in a container.  You may reserve the backbones to make chicken stock at a later time, by placing them in an airtight container or plastic bag, and putting them in the freezer.  Add the cooled brine and cover the container.  Place the covered container in the refrigerator for 24 to 48 hours.

CHIMICHURRI

3 cups Italian Parsley
3 cups Cilantro
1 cup Mint
1/2 teaspoon Red Chili Flakes
4 Garlic cloves
1/4 cup Red Wine Vinegar
2 tablespoons Lemon Juice
1 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper

Begin by washing and thoroughly drying the parsley, cilantro, and mint.  You may either finely chop them, or use a food processor to do the work for you.  I took the lazy way out and used the food processor.  So, in a food processor, begin by pulsing the parsley, then the cilantro, and finally the mint.  With a microplane grater, grate the garlic into the food processor.  Add the chili flakes, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, salt, and pepper, and pulse everything just enough to get all the ingredients combined together.  Transfer the herb mixture into a bowl, then add the olive oil, and stir.  I suggest making the chimichurri a few hours to a day in advance, as it will taste better as the flavors meld together.

CHAR GRILLED CHICKEN WITH OLDE TYMERS SAVORY HERB DRY RUB

2 brined Chickens
4 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
5 tablespoons Savory Herb dry rub
2 Lemons
2 cups Chimichurri
4 + cups Arugula – 1 cup per person (optional)

Remove the chicken from the brine, and dry it with paper towels.  Lather both chickens under and over the skin with extra virgin olive oil.  Then, massage in the rub, again, under and over the skin.  Place the chickens in a container, cover them with plastic wrap, and place them in refrigerator overnight.  This allows the flavor of the rub to penetrate the chicken skin and flesh.

Before grilling the butterflied and rubbed chickens, leave them at room temperature for at least 30 minutes, before putting them on the grill.  Grill the chickens, then leave them to rest for about 10 minutes, covered in aluminum foil.  Meanwhile, cut each lemon into quarters or wedges.


Plate the chickens however you prefer.  You may plate them as a whole or in pieces.  As I was serving dinner to my family and friends, I decide to plate them in quartered pieces over arugula, and topped with the chimichurri sauce.  Garnish with a lemon wedge.  The chimichurri and lemon wedge serve as a dressing for the arugula.  I hope you enjoy this dish as much as my family, friends, and I have.  Bon Appétit!


Simple Peach Crumble

Crumbles are very easy to make, especially, for cooks like me.  I prefer the savory route, as you might have guessed.  So, when I have to make an easy, but delicious dessert for a mostly American gathering, I make a crumble.  It is best eaten warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or mascarpone cream on top.

THE PEACHES

6 medium yellow Peaches
1/3 cup granulated Sugar
4 tablespoons Lemon Juice
1 tablespoon Brandy (optional)
1 tablespoon Cornstarch
1 pinch of Salt
1 tablespoon organic Butter – to butter the baking dish

Wash and slice the peaches, and place them in a bowl.  Add the sugar, lemon juice, brandy, cornstarch, and salt to the peaches.  Mix all the ingredients together.  Let the peaches sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes, while stirring them occasionally.  Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Butter a baking dish, and place the peaches in it.  Put the peaches in the oven for about 20 minutes.  Remove them, but keep the oven on.  Stir the peaches to get all the released juices to evenly coat each slice.

THE CRUMBLE

1 cup all purpose Flour
1/2 cup quick cooking Oats
1/2 cup granulated Sugar
1/4 cup Dark Brown Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon
8 tablespoons organic Butter – melted

In a bowl, add and whisk the flour, sugar, dark brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon together.  Melt the butter in a small saucepan, then add to the whisked dry ingredients, and mix well, until the butter in completely combined.  Using your hands, make small clumps out of the flour, sugar, and butter mixture, and top the peaches with them.  Scatter the clumps evenly all over the peaches.  Place the baking dish back in the oven, and cook for about an hour, until the crisp is golden and bubbling.  Take out of the oven, and allow to cool for about 10 to 15 minutes.  Serve with ice cream or mascarpone cream and ENJOY!