FOOD: BREAKFAST PIZZA

Welcome back Food Finders!

With the end of winter quickly upon us, I’d like to introduce you to a breakfast idea that will warm your home and get your family out of bed on a lazy weekend.

Breakfast Pizza!

My breakfast pizza takes bacon, egg, and cheese to new limits. Different tastes in the household are not a problem either. All you have to do is split your pie anyway you like.

Here what to do:

Take your pizza dough out of the fridge. If you make your own, remember that you will need to make your dough the night before and refrigerate. Store bought will be fine, I recommend Terranova pizza dough. See my post for more info.

Preheat your oven to 450 and roll out your dough. Place in a perforated pizza pan and start cooking. Your pizza at this point is just dough, and will look a little odd at first, but trust the process and place it in the oven and start cooking.

While the dough is in the oven, decide on what you want on your breakfast pizza. My morning crowd likes their bacon egg and cheese and also likes their veggies. My pie will be split in half, but make yours as you wish.

Scramble your eggs and season to taste. Remember to under salt especially if you plan on a cheesy pizza. Once your eggs are cooked, place them aside and start chopping your veggies. I used onions and peppers in my example.

At this point you will want to check on your dough. Since you don’t have any toppings you may start to see a big air bubble or multiple pockets of air. This should happen at about 8 minutes of cooking time, but keep an eye out as ovens and cooking times vary.

Air bubbles make topping a pizza challenging, and if you wait to long to get rid of them, they will get crispy and crack and give you a bowl like center of the pie. Since we don’t want that, grab a another pizza pan, or oven safe pan or bowl, or tray and place in on top of the dough to flatten. Leave your pan on top of the dough and cook for a few more minutes. You will want to take your dough out of the oven once it’s 75% cooked.

Now that your dough is almost ready. Cook your chopped onions and peppers in a pan and at low heat with just a little bit of olive oil so as to avoid sticking and render your bacon in another pan.

All that’s left is stacking your toppings. You can easily cook up some sausage, slice some avocado, go mushrooms or steak or both. Make your breakfast pizza. yours!

I start by adding a layer of eggs to my pie, then half gets the bacon treatment and half gets onions and peppers. I cover my toppings in mozzarella and then sprinkle some sharp cheddar on as well. It looks pretty, smells and tastes delicious, it’s satisfying and will warm your kitchen, home and belly!

Get cooking this week and tell me all about it!

FOOD: FIRED ROASTED SALSA

Hello Food Finders!

Veggie Taco with Fire Roasted Salsa!

As the last few weeks of summer approach, I want to share one of my favorite, simple, all purpose dishes.

My simple salsa is great with chips, but can easily be served on top of a grilled chicken, fish or steak. You don’t even have to stop at your proteins, add it to your vegetables, pastas and rice and create outstanding sides.

My salsa is simple as promised.

Ingredients:
4 fresh on-the-vine tomatoes
1 can fire roasted and chopped tomatoes
1qtr of a red onion
I Lime (juiced)
Cilantro (chopped and to taste)
Salt and pepper

Finely chop your red onion. Chop you fresh tomatoes to the approximate size of your fire roasted variety.

In a bow, mix your tomatoes and onions with the juice of your lime. Salt pepper and add cilantro to taste.

I recommend letting the salsa sit for an hour and stir occasionally. Having it sit will help the lime juice flavor the ingredients.



That’s it. Sit back and enjoy!

FOOD: LINGUINI WITH BROCCOLI RABE, GARLIC & OIL

Hello Westchester Food Finders!

I want to introduce you to one of my favorite, quick and easy meals. This one should take you under 20 minutes from start to finish and is a great combo of vegetables and pasta that will satisfy the most discerning tastes and will keep your kids coming back for more as well.

Linguini with Broccoli Rabe, Garlic, and Oil

The ingredients are few but flavorful.

Broccoli Rabe

Linguini

Garlic

Pecorino Romano Cheese

Olive Oil

Start by cutting and cleaning your broccoli rabe. You will want to cut off the bottom end of the stems as they are not really tender. Now if you have time, cut your stems individually, I tend to not have the time, so a good time saving rule is to cut the stems at the point where the packaging ends. Take look at the illustrations below.

Individual Cut

Quick and East Cut

 

Once cut, wash your vegetables.  Boil some water and drop in your broccoli rabe. You will want to boil for 3-4 minutes or until tender to the touch. Once tender, strain and place in a cool water bath. The cool water will stop the cooking process and will keep your vegetables green.

Pulling the veggies out of the boiling water allows you to reuse the water to boil your pasta and thus cut down your cooking time. Drop your pasta in the boiling water. While e the pasta is boiling, peel some garlic and slice. Fill a small pan with half a cup of olive oil on low heat and toast your garlic. The low heat will warm your oil and help infuse the flavor of the garlic without burning. Remember burnt garlic gets bitter.

Take your garlic off the heat as soon as it starts to get golden. It will get darker off the heat, so don’t overcook.

When your pasta is cooked you are less than a minute away from sitting down and enjoying your meal. Strain your pasta, toss in your broccoli rabe, and drizzle with the garlic and oil. Add some fresh pepper and cheese, and now you have a meal in minutes. You can cut some strips of grilled chicken for a lean protein, or feel free to grill some spicy sausage, cut on a bias and toss in as well for a bigger kick. If you can’t decide, try both.  I have and the dish is even more delicious!

Linguini with Broccoli Rabe, Garlic, & Oil

 

FOOD: BOLO DE L’ARANJA (ORANGE OLIVE OIL CAKE)

Good Day Westchester!

The last post, where we recreated and simplified our Serradura and the plentiful pours of Port that accompanied the desert,  had me thinking if there were any other Portuguese inspired delicacies that I could share with our readers. You could probably say that the following recipe is both informative to you the reader and a great excuse to finish the bottle for me!

 

After checking with our Portuguese friends “Bolo” means cake and “Aranja” is an orange. So most of the title is spoken for. The olive oil is what sets this orange cake apart. The cake is pretty easy to make, and if cut in small portions can actually serve a large group of people. If you move quickly in the kitchen you may have it on a plate in 90 minutes with bake time.

You will need the ingredients below as well as a large glass baking pan (oven safe), a citrus zester, and a stand mixer (or a bowl and whisk). I seriously recommend a glass baking pan. A glass pan will produce a lighter outer crust on your cake. The darker pans and sheets will darken the outer portions of the cake and almost give you a burned tasting crust. Pyrex pans work very well. If your oven takes a while to get to temperature, preheat it to 350 degrees now.

Ingredients:

5 Eggs

1 1/2 cups of Olive oil

1 1/2 cups of orange juice (freshly squeezed will enhance the cake’s flavor)

1 tsp of Vanilla extract

2 cups of sugar

Zest of 5 oranges (zest of 1 orange should be reserved for dressing your cake)

3 1/2 cups of flour

2 tsp of baking powder

1 1/2 tsp of salt

Confectioners sugar (for the topping)

 

I try my best to clean as few pots, pans, and bowls as possible, so I add all of my dry ingredients (salt, baking powder, flour, and sugar) to my mixing bowl and whisk to combine at the slowest speed allowed. WARNING do not put the whisk on high unless you want a sweet flour shower in your kitchen.

“Dry Ingredients”

Add in your wet ingredients slowly. Start with the eggs, followed by the olive oil. By the time the eggs and oil are well mixed you may start to turn up the mixing speed. Next incorporate the zest and orange juice and vanilla extract. Keep the mixer going until you feel like all of your ingredients are well incorporated.

Batter ready to bake

Generously spray your glass pan with a non stick baking spray. Pour in your batter and place in your 350 degree pre-heated oven on the top shelf. Cooking times will vary with humidity and oven differences. I would start checking my cake with a toothpick test every five minutes at the 60 minute mark. Poke your Bolo De L’Aranja with a toothpick, if the toothpick comes out clean, your cake is cooked. My cake was perfect in 75 minutes.

The cake will be easier to cut when cooled. If you and your guests or family can resist keeping your hands off of it, once it cools cut your cake into squares and place in a serving plate. Dust with confectioners sugar and sprinkle on the zest that we reserved. This cake looks good, tastes amazing, and best of all will leave your home or apartment smelling like sweet citrus.

 

Bolo De L’Aranja

Now I have some cake to accompany my port. Make yourself one of these cakes today!

 

FOOD: SERRADURA

Hello Food Finders!

I want to introduce you to a simple and easy Portuguese inspired desert. Serradura means sawdust, which normally wouldn’t be found anywhere near desert, but when the ingredients for this sawdust is a package of Maria tea biscuits and pine nuts, you’ll be in for a treat.

Serradura

My first experience with Serradura was at a family friend’s home. It was smooth airy and delicious. I asked to glance at the recipe, but was vehemently denied. I was told that to get the proper texture you had to follow specific measurements and steps. As delicious as the desert was, I was momentarily turned away.

After a few weeks of not being able to get the Serradura out of my mind, I thought why not try and recreate the desert in a way that takes away the difficulty.

I am relentless; so I decided that I was going to recreate this no-bake desert and simplify it for our Westchesterfoodfinds.com readers. Less measuring, less precision and less technique equals more time to get to all the other things our Food Finders need to accomplish.

Ingredients:

1 Pint of Heavy Cream

1 Can of Sweetened Condensed Milk (14 oz can)

1 Package of Goya Maria tea cookies

1 Package of Vanilla flavored instant pudding

1 tbsp of vanilla extract

OPTIONAL: 5 tbsp of nuts placed in the freezer for 30 minutes: walnuts, cashews, or pine nuts work very well

I’ve made it as easy as possible so that you will be using ingredients in there entire packaging quantities. These ingredients will make approximately 8-10 servings. If you are like me, you are better off with the extra desert that a half a can of condensed milk in your refrigerator for weeks!

In a mixing bowl or stand mixer, whisk the heavy cream and vanilla extract to aerate  your desert. Next add your sweetened condensed milk and continue whisking until your mixture is consistent. You don’t want the bottom to be thinker than the top of your bowl, that simply means that the cream and sweet milk have not come together yet.

Once you have consistency, add in your instant pudding mix and whisk some more. When you have pudding in your bowl, you can put away the whisk. Depending on how fancy you want your Serradura to look, you may keep the pudding in your bowl and simply ladle it into your serving vessel, otherwise you may use a piping bag and pipe it into your glass or bowl.

Now to the saw dust. Place your cookies in a food processor or blender and add chilled nuts if you wish. Blend until you have a cookie sawdust. You may be thinking to yourself, why did I used chilled nuts. The answer is simple, blending the nuts breaks them down and releases oils in the nuts, the light heat produced from the blending process and oils can create sawdust clumps. Using the chilled nuts gives you smaller crumble and will be easier to layer in your Serradura.

Pipe or ladle your pudding and “sawdust” in alternating fashion. I use a zip top bag and cut a small hole in on of the ends and pipe my pudding in that way.

 

The finished product tastes delicious and looks luxurious. When your are asked for the recipe, please send them our way and have them visit Westchesterfoodfinds.com

 

 

 

FOOD: VEGETABLE SOUP WITH SOME BUBBLY

Westchester, with the cold weather around for a few more months how about trying a healthy, hearty, and nutritious vegetable soup that will warm you right up! It’ll snap you from your sweet Valentine’s Day hangover and put that leftover Champagne or white wine to good use!

Save some time and start by chopping your onions; You can chop your other vegetables while the onions are sweating!

Start buy chopping  1 cup each of Yukon gold potatoes, butternut squash, carrots, onions, and celery. If you have it available I recommend substituting a half a cup of fennel for half a cup of celery to add more depth in flavor.

Place the onions in the largest soup pot you own on low heat with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Sweat the onions until they are translucent. Next drop in all of your vegetables.

Onions breaking a sweat!

Here is where I like to use my leftover prosecco or white wine. Take your leftover 750 bottle and fill the empty part with water. You will want to use 3 750ml bottles worth of liquid in total. I like dropping in the veggies first so that you don’t get any splash on your stove that you would usually get if you dropped the veggies into a pot of water.

Bring the liquid to a boil and then keep at a simmer for an hour. The low and slow cooking will create a flavorful broth. Your veggies should have softened at this point.

Test a potato, if the potato is cooked to taste the. You are almost there. At this point you want to add a can of cannelloni beans, a package of frozen chopped spinach, a tablespoon of roasted minced garlic, a tablespoon of parsley and a tablespoon of basil. Salt and pepper to taste. I like to salt at the end because if you salt early, some of your broth will evaporate and you can end up with a salty soup. Bring the soup to a boil once you have added the last of the ingredients.

 

Healthy, Hearty, Vegetable Soup

Ladle and enjoy.

FOOD: DRUNKEN HONEY HERB CRUSTED FILET MIGNON

Westchester Food Finders, I have a great New Year’s Eve entrée for you!

My Drunken Honey Herb Crusted Filet Mignon is easy to prep and even easier to cook. You can have your decadent and rich meal in the comfort of your own home at a fraction of the high end restaurant prices.

Start out by sourcing your filet mignon. If you have a butcher you like to use regularly, give them a call as ask for a filet mignon roast. They will peel, clean and tied the roast for you.

Some super markets and farm based grocery stored will peel, clean, and cut or tie your filet mignon as long as you purchase the entire tenderloin. The filet when bought whole, is usually priced attractively, so take advantage of buying the whole tenderloin and have them cut some steaks for you to save for another day. Have them prepare the roast to your preferred size.

If you are feeling inspired, you may buy the whole tenderloin and clean it yourself. Remember that you want to remove all of the excess fat. Most importantly you will want to peel off the silver looking lining that wraps the tenderloin. This lining cooks tough and is not something you want to serve yourself or your guests. Tie your tenderloin with two to three inches of spacing. The ties will keep your filet firm while cooking and cutting.

The “trick” to cooking a delicious filet mignon roast is that you have to over season the roast. Since you are cooking a large piece of meat and cutting once cooked, you want the mixture of herbs and spices to be absorbed by your filet.

I like to place all of my favorite herbs and spices in a bowl and add my liquor of choice and some honey to create an herb paste. The paste gets thick and sticky and makes it easy to layer on your roast.

Please follow this list of herbs loosely, as this is your chance to customize the flavor of your roast and make it “yours”.

I like to use a combination of parsley, basil, roasted chopped garlic, pink sea salt, chili powder, black pepper, red pepper flakes, coriander, cumin, paprika,  fennel seed, and chopped sage. I add three parts liquor to one part honey. I prefer a rye, whiskey or bourbon. Some brands actually offer a honey variety which works best in my opinion.

Now if you are like some of my friends, you are scratching your head over the list of herbs and thinking where do I even find fennel seed, and when will I ever use this stuff again. If that is you, pick up a pre-mixed steak seasoning. Something like a Montreal steak or steak house seasoning will do. Add your parsley and basil, and anything flavorful in your liquor cabinet will do just fine!

Place your roast in a pan of choice and wrap your filet in your herb paste. (No shame in using an aluminum pan when your hosting. They cut down your clean up and they can be fully recycled) Cover your roast either with a lid or with aluminum foil and place in the center of your oven’s top rack. Cook at 400 degrees.

Now since not all roasts are created equal, you will have to use a thermometer to test for doneness. I prefer my filet mignon medium-rare. So I cook my roast to an internal temperature of 140 degrees.

Test your roasted every 20 minutes. You will want to uncover your roast once your internal temperature hits 100 degrees and you will test every 10 minutes from that point on. Uncovering the roast will dry your herb mixture slightly and give you the “roasted” texture to the outside of the meat.

Once your roast is cooked. Remove from the roasting pan and plate. Let the roast rest for 10 minutes and carve table side. Plate with your favorite sides and you will have wowed yourself and your diner guests.

Enjoy and Happy New Year!

 

 

FOOD: APPLE CINNAMON PANCAKES

Hello Westchester Food Finders and welcome Fall!

fall-is-here2

If you and your families are like ours, you have probably visited your favorite orchard and have brought home an entire 20lb bag of apples that you now don’t know what to do with. Sure you will cut some up, and put slices in your kids’ lunch. You may bring a few to work to share, but 20lbs is still lots of apples.

Time for quick and simple pancakes. They are made with 4 total ingredients and are easy to make and clean up is a breeze!

I have been asked by some readers if I could post some special diet recipes, and this one sure is special. Of course you should always consult with your nutritionist or dietitian if you have possible health concerns with food, but these pancakes are gluten free, lactose free, no sugar added, low fat, and may actually work for those on a paleo diet as well. They are higher in protein than traditional pancakes as they are made with more eggs and no wheat flour.

Enough healthy dietary stuff, these pancakes are delicious and most of all, are easily prepared in a blender.

ingredients

Start with your ingredients:

4 Eggs

4 Tablespoons of Almond flour

1 Apple cored, peeled and quartered

1 tablespoon of cinnamon

pour1time-to-flip2

Put all of your ingredients in a blender and blend until your batter is smooth. You will want to make these pancakes smaller; on the “silver dollar” size side.  Without all of the flour in traditional pancakes, these pancakes will be a little more fragile when flipping. Cook on a griddle or a pan with low heat. Make sure to coat your griddle with your favorite non-stick spray, as we did not add any oil to our batter. Once you see the outside of your pancakes changing color, flip your pancakes so they are golden brown on both sides.

You may plate simply as I have here, with some powdered sugar and fresh fruit or you can dress up the dish with some finely chopped apples, mixed with some sugar and whipped cream.

Enjoy!

with-friut-2

 

 

 

 

 

 

FOOD: CHEESE STUFFED BURGERS

My Favorite Cheese Stuffed Burger

Before I start on my quest for the best Westchester burger, I think it’s only appropriate to share my favorite burger with our readers. My burger is a blend of three meats, and cheese stuffed and seasoned from within. I finish it with a melted cheese topping and sautéed onions and BBQ sauce. It may not take first prize in my quest for the best, as I hear the competition is fierce. If I can make it in my kitchen, you can recreate it in yours, and then you can be the judge.

 

Ingredients List

1 Part 90% Ground Beef

1 Part 80% Ground Veal

1 Part Ground Pork

Favorite cheese cubed

Second Favorite cheese sliced

Burger Bun of your choice

1 Large Onion

Favorite BBQ Sauce

6 Pack of your favorite cold beer (optional)

I like to start with three different types of meats. Start with equal parts 90 per cent beef, 80 percent veal, and ground pork. Start mixing using your hands; fold the meats until you feel like you have a nice blend. Separate the blend into portions that work for you. Once you determine your portions, split the portions into equal sizes. Take approximately 1/3 of the portion and flatten. Take the other 2/3 of the blended meat and flatten as well. Repeat the process with the rest of your portioned meat. Cut up some of your favorite cheese. I prefer a spicy chipotle Gouda. Place your cheese in the middle of your flattened 2/3portion. Salt and pepper your cheese. As the cheese melts it will flavor your burger from the inside out.

Place the meat in the palm of your hand and place the smaller flattened 1/3 portion on top. Round the meat and seal the cheese in the center. Flatten slightly. Salt and pepper your meat combo. I prefer a combination of black and red pepper and like pink salt, but any salt and pepper will do. I’ve added some illustrations below.

flat with cheeseBurger

Place your burgers aside. Chop your onion and place in a pan coated with non-stick spray. Sweat them and reduce the heat. Pour in your BBQ sauce and keep at a slow simmer. Your BBQ sauce will reduce and your unions will caramelize.

Grill or broil your burgers. I have my grill ready all year round and it’s my preferred method. Preheat your grill or oven, and drop on your burgers. You want a nice sear on the outside. The searing will lock in your flavors as well as the delicious melted pocket of cheese and seasoning you created. It’s my responsibility to tell you to cook your burgers to the recommended temperature. Keep in mind the different type of meats used. Place your sliced cheese on top of your burger 30 seconds before your burgers are done to get a nice melt. I like to use a Havarti as my sliced cheese option. I find the Havarti and chipotle Gouda are complementary, but I recommend mixing and matching to find your favorite combination.

WARNING: DO NOT OVER FLIP YOUR BURGERS. Those of you guilty of being over flippers know who you are. Sear for a few minutes, flip and let the burgers cook. Use this time to grab an option beverage, and relax. Pat them for doneness, use a thermometer, or time yourself if you have to, just don’t keep flipping. You can break your cheese pocket and all of your hard work will be wasted.

Toast your bun or roll if you prefer. I unfortunately was short on time, and refused to use 8-pack buns on this burger. As in my example, your favorite variety English muffin will do just fine. I also have an example of a bun-less mozzarella stuffed burger for those instances where I feel like skipping the carbs.

cooked

Place your burger on the bottom piece of the muffin(or simply plate if you go bun-1less). Spoon some of your sautéed BBQ caramelized onions on top. Drizzle some more BBQ to taste and top you burger.

Grab a cold one and enjoy.

 

bunlessburger with bun

 

FOOD: PASTA AGLIO OLIO

Pasta Aglio Olio

IMG_3581 (2)

This is a very quick, very delicious, low prep and low ingredient dish. It is perfect for a quick after work meal for the kids. Nice if you want to fake your cooking skills to impress your date too. Had a long night out with some friends and you get back to apartment hungry, don’t go for the cereal. Grab a box of spaghetti or linguini and you’ll have a meal in under 15 minutes. Be sure to call it Pasta Aglio Olio instead of Pasta with Garlic and Oil if you want to sound all gourmet.

Ingredients List

Favorite Brand of boxed Linguini or Spaghetti

Half a cup of the best olive oil you have in your pantry

4 cloves of garlic

Half a cup of chopped parsley

Grated cheese to taste

 

Here’s the quickest way of getting your pasta from the box to the table.

Start your water on your stovetop, and salt your water (Use a pot big enough for the whole box of pasta)

In a small pan, pour in your oil. Place on low heat as you don’t want to burn your garlic, you are simply warming the oil so that you may infuse the garlic taste in all of the oil. If you like spice, drop in some red pepper flakes in the oil a minute or so before your pasta is finished boiling so you can infuse some heat as well.

Cut, chop, slice, mince, smash, crush your garlic and drop it in the oil. It’s completely up to your taste. If you plan on taking the garlic out, the larger the pieces the easier to remove. Love your garlic, thinly sliced is nice. I say leave it in as it makes a difference in taste. If you don’t have fresh garlic, you can use the canned roasted variety. I prefer fresh, or a combination of both. You’ll be making this pasta frequently enough that you can decide by trial and error.

You have your garlic heating, pasta boiling. Take out your cheese. Most will have either pre-grated Parmegiano or Peccorino Romano in their fridge. Either or both will do get it ready for your plating. If you are trying to impress, grab a block of either/both and a cheese grater and get fancy.

Pasta is ready. Strain, and put it in a nice size bowl so it will be easier to toss your pasta. Pour the oil and garlic on top and start to toss. Drop in your parsley and continue to toss, coating the pasta with the garlic infused oil. Fresh Parsley is the toughest ingredient here. Most people will have olive oil, pasta and cheese in their kitchens. I usually will have fresh parsley growing on my window sill or in my garden 9 months out of the year. Luckily every grocery store will have fresh parsley for those of us who don’t have a green thumb. Now you may be asking, what do you do for fresh parsley in the dead of winter? Parsley freezes well. If you don’t think you’ll use all the parsley before it starts to wilt, chop a half of a cup of cleaned parsley for your pasta now and put the rest in a cup of water. Next day clean and chop the rest and put it in your freezer in half a cup portions for your next recipe challenge.

Ok, your pasta smells good and you’re hungry. Grate some fresh cheese on top of the pasta while still in the large bowl. Toss a few more times and add some more cheese. Pour yourself a glass of wine, plate and enjoy.