LotR taters boulangère

Adapted from Middle-earth Recipes

Ingredients:

  • ~1.5 lbs of potatoes, sliced 1/4″ thick
  • a sliced onion
  • some rosemary
  • butter
  • 1 cup of chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup of milk

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 deg. F.
  2. Peel and slice the potatoes. Slice the onion. Mix the stock and milk (we used hot stock, so poured one then the other separately in step 5).
  3. Take an oven-proof dish and wipe it with butter, so nothing sticks. Put in a layer of potatoes, a layer of onion, sprinkle over some bruised rosemary. Repeat until ingredients used up.
  4. Top off with a layer of potato.
  5. Pour over the milk-stock mixture (may not need all of it) and then top off the dish with dots of butter and some rosemary sprigs (or other available herbs — we had marjoram, thyme, and fresh rosemary).
  6. Cook uncovered in the oven for 50-60 minutes until the potatoes are soft in the middle and brown/crisp on top.

For 3-4 people. We bought 3 big Yukon gold potatoes at the local farmer’s market to make this dish. “It will scale quite nicely for larger/smaller dinners… The original recipe suggested checking the dish and adding more liquid if it looked dry” but we found that draining off the liquid after the one hour of cooking, and then cooking it for another 10 more minutes, finished cooking through the thickest top potato slices that weren’t immersed in liquid!

~Jessica

Pan roasted chicken and vegetables

Adapted from Natasha’s Kitchen and Taste of Home

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 medium yellow potatoes, unpeeled and sliced into 3/4″ to 1″ thick pieces
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 carrots, sliced into 1/2″ thick rounds
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 large zucchini, sliced into 3/4″ thick rounds
  • 2 red, yellow or orange bell peppers, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1.5 Tbsp garlic salt, or to taste
  • Freshly grated black pepper, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 tbsp. Canola or olive oil
  • 4 skin-on chicken thighs

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425° F. In a large bowl, combine potatoes, carrots, onion, oil, garlic, 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon rosemary and 1/2 teaspoon pepper; toss to coat.
  2. In a small bowl, mix paprika and the remaining salt, rosemary and pepper. Sprinkle chicken with paprika mixture; arrange over potatoes and carrots. Transfer to a Dutch oven or baking pan coated with olive oil, roast uncovered at 450˚F for 10 minutes. The chicken will roast until a thermometer inserted in chicken reads 170°-175° and vegetables are just tender (about 35-40 minutes total).
  3. Combine the zucchini, bell peppers, and 1/2 the garlic. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove roasting pans from the oven and quickly place the rest of the vegetables evenly over the top. Return to the oven and roast an additional 20-25 minutes or until potatoes and carrots are tender and easily pierced with a fork.
  4. Remove chicken to a serving platter; keep warm. Roast until vegetables are tender, 8-10 minutes longer. Stir vegetables to combine; serve with chicken.

I had the vegetables I wanted for my classic vegetable soup dish, but no pot or Dutch oven big enough to hand blend it. So I thought to try out the glass Pyrex baking pan I just acquired and bake some this cold weekend for dinner. The vegetables (especially the potatoes) took a decent extra time to cook through, but the Staub Enameled Cast Iron Fry Pan cooked considerably more than the Pyrex Glass Baking Dish. THIS TASTES SO GOOD.. I never got tired of reheating leftovers. In fact, it tasted better each time.

~Jessica

British macaroni cheese

Adapted from Great British Chefs and British Food History

Ingredients:

  • 30 g plain flour 
  • 30 g butter 
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 400 ml hot full-fat milk 
  • 6g of thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 200-250 g macaroni 
  • 1 slice stale bread 
  • ½ tsp chopped fresh rosemary leaves, or ¼ tsp fried rosemary (optional) 
  • 225 g Stilton cheese, grated 
  • 200 g Gruyere or Cheddar cheese, grated
  • 30g of Parmesan
  • Pinch of Cayenne pepper or 20g of Dijon mustard
  • Salt and freshly-milled black pepper
  • 15 basil leaves

Directions:

  1. Start by cooking some pasta of your choice in a pan of boiling water. Once cooked, strain the pasta and set aside
  2. Place 50 mL milk into a pan over a low-medium heat and add the thyme and bay. Bring up to a warm heat and leave to infuse for 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, place a separate pan over a low heat and add the 4 tbsp. butter and 4 cloves of garlic. Cook for 2-3 minutes then add the flour. Heat for for 2-3 minutes and stir constantly so the mixture comes together. –> Béchamel sauce
  4. Strain the milk, thyme and bay mixture so that you are just left with the infused milk. Gradually (over 5 minutes) add the infused milk to the other pan and stir with a wooden spoon. Bring to a simmer
  5. Take the pan off the heat and season with salt and pepper. Add the cheese, mustard, basil and pasta to the pan and then pour the contents of the pan into a casserole dish. Cover with some extra cheese and place in the oven at 180°C for 20 minutes (I prefer stovetop because I haven’t a baking dish currently).
  6. Remove the dish from the oven, divide the macaroni cheese into 4 portions and serve immediately.

My grandmother gave me a box of instant mac and cheese from her senior citizen community center (before the pandemic lockdown). Of course I didn’t want to eat that stuff straight, so I thought I would try to dress it up with some caramelized onions, garlic, herbs, and whatever else I might find in the pantry.

~Jessica

Minestra di farro

Adapted from Food52 and Great Italian Chefs

Ingredients:

  • 4 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 70 g of pancetta, minced (optional)
  • 1 small brown onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 small celery , finely chopped
  • 1 small carrot, peeled and finely chopped
  • 600 g of waxy potatoes, peeled and diced (didn’t have — next time!)
  • 300 g of farro, soaked overnight, drained and rinsed
  • 7 ounces (or 200 grams) peeled tomatoes
  • 500 g of dried cannellini beans, or borlotti beans, soaked overnight, drained and rinsed (I used canned)
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 4 to 5 fresh sage leaves
  • sea salt, as needed
  • freshly ground black pepper, as needed

Directions:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a wide soup pot or saucepan; add the chopped onion, carrot, and celery and gently cook until soft and translucent. Add the pancetta and continue cooking until the fat has melted. Add herbs and peeled tomatoes and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Add the cooked borlotti beans, along with their liquid. Stir to combine everything and add 2 cups of water. Bring the mixture to a simmer, cook 10 minutes uncovered, then remove from heat. Remove the rosemary stick and blend (an immersion blender is ideal for this) until smooth.
  3. Add the farro to the bean purée (along with another cup of water to loosen it, using more or less as necessary) and continue cooking over low heat for about 30 to 40 minutes, stirring every now and then to check that the soup is not sticking to the bottom of the pan, until the farro is cooked al dente (with a pleasant bite to it, like pasta). It should be a fairly thick soup but you can add more water to your liking. Check for seasoning.
  4. Serve the soup with freshly ground black pepper and extra virgin olive oil drizzled over the top.

This came together better than I expected, although I did not soak anything overnight, beans or farro. I used a can of Goya beans in sauce (white beans would have been closer to suitable but I had Green Pigeon Peas in Sauce). I was debating whether to add Latin beans to an Italian dish, but Jesse insisted on including beans in a stew recipe. Pancetta isn’t too shabby as an ingredient, but mushrooms can make such a delicious vegetarian substitute — I highly recommend, so that’s what I used. Also, forgot to add the rosemary until the last minute, better luck next time! Next level: homemade broth.

~Jessica

Pasta e ceci

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen and Pina Bresciani GIC

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup pancetta, diced (optional)
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper or red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (from one 15-ounce can, drained and rinsed)
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces or 55 grams) uncooked ditalini pasta (or another small shape)
  • 2 cups (475 ml) boiling water (update: actually I just use tap, not boiled, water)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil (estimate 1 per serving)
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
  • Salt and red pepper flakes

Directions

  1. In a medium-large heavy-bottomed pot or deep saute pan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil until it shimmers. Add 2 smashed cloves of garlic, onion, red pepper flakes, and cook, stirring until it becomes lightly, barely browned but very fragrant (5-8 min.)
  2. Stir in the tomato paste, salt, and pepper and cook them with the garlic for 30 seconds or so.
  3. Add the chickpeas, pasta, and boiling water. Stir to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot, lower the heat, and simmer until the pasta is cooked and a lot of the liquid has been absorbed, about 15 to 20 minutes.
  4. Taste and adjust seasoning and ladle into bowls.
  5. Make finishing oil: Heat 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil in a small sauce- or frying pan over medium-low heat with remaining clove of garlic, rosemary, a pinch or two of salt and pepper flakes, until sizzling; pull it off the heat as soon as the garlic is going to start taking on color. Drizzle this over bowls of pasta e ceci and eat it right away.

I would have liked to have time on a school night to make the finishing oil, but, alas, lesson plans await. We’re in the middle of remote learning right now, but the high school students feel burned out every day. Some definitely have easier access to technology than others though. As I used bigger pasta (2 cut ziti) a roommate left behind, I should have thrown in more than a half cup, since the smaller pieces swell up more.

I found out a freshman student’s father succumbed to COVID-19. Stay home, everyone, be safe.

~Jessica

Leek farro soup (Minestra di farro e porri)

Adapted from La Tavola Marche and Madonna del Piatto

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 leeks, white parts only, sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups pearled farro
  • 6 1/4 cups stock ***Avoid using bullion (or stock) cubes for this! There are only a few ingredients & they should be of the highest quality possible ^_^
  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
  • freshly grated salt & pepper
  • 1 large onion, sliced thin 2 tablespoons
  • sprig of rosemary
  • extra virgin olive oil (to taste)
  • parsley, finely chopped (to taste)
  • 1 large garlic clove, halved lengthwise

Directions:

  1. Heat the oil in a pan, add the leeks and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes until golden brown.
  2. Add the farro, pour in the stock (I cooked carrot, celery, parsnip, turnip from a soup greens package), season with salt and simmer over low heat for 1 1/2 hours or until the farro is tender. Season with pepper.
  3. Ladle the soup into bowls or a soup tureen and sprinkle with Parmesan & drizzle with good quality extra virgin olive oil.
  4. Provide toasted Italian crusty bread, rubbed with cut garlic, to mop it up. Also good to have plenty of freshly grated Parmesan on hand, per person.

A former roommate left this bag of Italian farro, so of course I needed to find the perfect soup recipe for the long winter nights.

Cheers,
Jessica

Butter-basted bison ribeye steak with with crispy potatoes and roasted garlic

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Adapted from Serious Eats and Food & Wine and Red Cedar Bison Ranch

Ingredients:
8 oz. boneless bison ribeye
fresh parsley, chopped
rosemary and thyme, chopped
salt & fresh cracked pepper, to taste
unsalted butter
olive oil
clove of garlic
3 red potatoes

Directions:

  1. Remove meat from freezer, defrost for 30+ minutes. Meanwhile, place potatoes in a medium pot, cover with water, season with salt, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a simmer and cook until tender, about 8-10 minutes total. Drain and set aside.
  2. Finely chop thyme and rosemary. Cut cooled potatoes into quarters.
  3. Preheat your cast iron or non-stick pan on high heat. Coat with a thin layer of oil. Salt and pepper the meat liberally, then place in the pan just as the oil starts to smoke. Let it sear on the high heat for about 4 minutes. Do not move the meat!
  4. Turn steak once using tongs to flip. Continue cooking on medium-high heat for about another 3 minutes for a perfect medium steak, 2 minutes for rare.
  5. Add 3 tablespoons butter, garlic, whole rosemary sprigs, and whole thyme sprigs to the skillet and continue to cook, flipping steak occasionally, and basting any light spots with foaming butter. To baste, tilt pan slightly so that butter collects by the pan’s handle. Use a spoon to pick up butter and pour it over steak.
  6. Let meat rest 15 minutes before slicing. Return skillet to medium-high heat and add remaining butter. When foaming subsides, add potatoes, cut-side down. Cook, shaking pan occasionally, until potatoes are deep golden brown and crisp, about 8 minutes. Add chopped rosemary and thyme, season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat potatoes. Cook, tossing and stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  7. Transfer potatoes to a serving platter with a slotted spoon, leaving excess fat behind. Increase heat to high until leftover fat is smoking. Pour over resting steak. Discard garlic, rosemary, and thyme sprigs. Place steak on serving platter and serve immediately, garnished with fresh parsley.

The last of my precious upstate NY bison acquisition from my much-deserved Spring Break in Montreal. I overcooked the last bison steak, so this one had to be medium-rare for sure. If I had time and space, I would definitely roast a head of garlic in foil for 1 hour on 350 deg F. They’re utterly delightful — I still remember my first time at the tapas restaurant in Ithaca, Just a Taste.

~Jessica

Rosemary garlic potatoes

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sorry for the terrible photo. not #foodporn

Adapted from Ina Garten

Ingredients
6 red potatoes, quartered
1/8 cup good olive oil
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
minced rosemary leaves
1 tablespoon butter (I used 1.5, cuz more butter, the better)
1/4 cup shredded cheese (I used smoked gouda, which I had on hand)
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 box of frozen mixed vegetables (peas, corn, carrots, beans mix)
Melted butter to brush on top of mashed potatoes

Directions:
Cut the potatoes in quarters and cover the chopped potatoes in cold water plus an inch. Boil for 5-10 minutes until cooked through. Drain water. Place potatoes in a pan with the olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic and rosemary; toss until the potatoes are well coated. Pan fry the potatoes in 1 layer until browned and crisp. Flip with a spatula during cooking to ensure even browning. Remove the potatoes from the heat, season to taste, and serve. Fry the vegetables with some butter, salt, and fresh cracked pepper. Add a protein of your choice if you so desire (I used herbed turkey breast).

~Jessica

Seared ‘garlic’ elk sirloin

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Adapted from Nevada Foodies and Creek’s Edge Elk Farm

Ingredients:
.57 lbs. of elk sirloin from here
salt and fresh cracked pepper
garlic
rosemary/thyme
For the smashed potatoes:
6-8 potatoes
3 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary
Chopped fresh chives
roast mushrooms and caramelized onions (optional)

Directions:

Let steaks stand for 30 minutes at room temperature. Meanwhile, boil quartered potatoes until tender (cover potatoes in 1 inch of water and check after 5 minutes of boiling, less if smaller). Then add butter to a pan on medium heat, and smash potatoes. Season with rosemary and chives. Cook other side vegetables as you prefer.

Sprinkle salt and pepper evenly over steaks. Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat.

Add vegetable oil to the pan and swirl to coat, heat until shimmering, but not quite smoking. Place the elk steaks in pan; sear 2 minutes on all sides. Remove from heat.

Add butter and garlic and seasonings to the pan. Carefully grasp pan handle using an oven mitt or folded dry dish towel. Tilt pan toward you so butter pools, baste steaks with herbed butter continually.

Cover loosely with foil and let stand 10 minutes. Serve elk steak with smashed potatoes and side vegetables.

~Jessica

P.S. I liked putting the bison in the oven for 5 extra minutes at 400 deg F, so I might try that next time with the elk.

Seared bison sirloin steaks

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You can see we had to de-activate the smoke alarm in the background, because of all that sizzle.

Adapted from Marcus Samuelsson, Red Cedar Bison Ranch, and The Bison Council

Ingredients:
0.5 lbs of bison sirloin (purchased here!)
olive oil and butter
salt and cracked pepper
1 garlic clove, crushed
thyme

Directions:
Defrost frozen bison meat at room temperature for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 deg F. Season both sides generously with salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Add enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan.

Once you see light wisps of smoke rise from the pan, place the meat in the pan and sear 1 minute per side, making sure not to move the meat around too much, which prevents that delicious crust from forming.

Once seared on all sides, remove pan from heat. Add your crushed clove of garlic to the pan and thyme, rosemary, or sage. Add more olive oil if needed. Add butter, tilt the pan and baste the steak using the melted butter.

Place pan directly into the oven and cook for an additional 4-5 minutes for medium-rare, or until the internal temperature reads 120 degrees F.

Most important: Remove steaks from the pan and allow them to rest at least ten minutes.

The story to acquiring bison meat: I was visiting my Italian friend who I knew in Germany as she was doing a postdoc in Montreal, Canada. To get to and from, I booked rideshares from kangaride because it was cheaper and faster than bus, train, or plane. My driver on the way back back to NYC happened to know of a little bison farm. So we stopped by and I picked up every frozen cut of meat that wasn’t bison burger. And hence, this meal. Bison meat is leaner than beef, and definitely not a product of the meat industry. Bon appetit!

~Jessica