salsa verde in a jar

Salsa verde is yet another Italian sauce I didn’t grow up with, but recently discovered. It’s a simple, versatile, flavorful combination of parsley, capers and lemon with olive oil. And with fresh parsley and other herbs growing right outside on the deck, there’s no time like RIGHT NOW to make it.

I’ve served it over a grilled pork chop on a bed of spinach.

salsa verde over grilled pork chop
It’s excellent on a lamburger. We even spooned it over wood-fired steaks.

woodfired steaks

Yes, you read that right–steaks on the chiminea! Served with broccoli ‘n melted Colby cheddar and bulgur wheat was quite the treat …

salsa verde steaks

You can even mix it with white beans or chickpeas and any other vegetables of your choice (may I suggested chopped red peppers?) to create a tasty side dish. But if you’d like to get in on the deliciousness, it would help to share the recipe. So here we go!

SALSA VERDE ITALIAN-STYLE
adapted from The New York Times

good handful of fresh parsley, chopped coarsely
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon capers, drained (I use Sclafani’s tiny nonpareilles in wine vinegar)
1 garlic clove, pressed
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
zest of a lemon (and juice of half of the lemon–but save the juice to add just before serving)

You can use other herbs in addition to the parsley–thyme, basil and chives just to name a few. Last time, I added chive blossoms just “for pretty.”

salsa verde chives

Combine these ingredients–except the lemon juice–until it’s time to serve. I used a jar for ease of transport, but you can use a small bowl if you like. Let this sit out for a while to let the flavors marry. When it’s time to eat, squeeze in the fresh lemon juice, stir and enjoy.

brown sugar pork chops with salt lick baked potatoes

Some of my favorite dishes shouldn’t qualify as recipes as they’re so easy–so here are two for the price of one. They go quite nicely together. And they’re a quick and delicious meal to make during the week when you’re short on time.

BROWN SUGAR PORK CHOPS with SALT LICK BAKED POTATOES

For the chops
2 pork chops (ours were somewhere between 1/2″ and 3/4″ thick)
Penzeys Barbecue of the Americas
light brown sugar
salt
olive oil

For the potatoes
2 russet potatoes, scrubbed
Kosher salt
butter at room temperature
sour cream (if you wish and I do!)
finely chopped scallions or chives (why not?)

Prep the potatoes first!
Preheat your oven to 475 degrees F. Scrub the potatoes, poke ’em with a fork all the way around.

While the potatoes are still wet, rub them with Kosher salt. Once the oven is up to temp, bake them for an hour and fifteen minutes (1:15). You can put them right on the oven rack, but if you prefer not to get salt all over your oven, simply set them in a pan.

Now would be a lovely time to make a salad or a tasty vegetable to go with. :) But before you start, get the pork ready.

Pork chop prep
Sprinkle each side of both chops with Barbecue of the Americas and a bit of salt. Yes, the spice blend itself does contain salt, but you won’t go wrong with a bit more. Then take a good handful of light brown sugar and coat both sides. Press the sugar into the meat and let the chops come up to room temperature. They’ll take less than 10 minutes to cook–so think about kicking ’em off once your potatoes hit the hour mark.

When it’s time to cook the chops, coat a nonstick pan with olive oil and set it over medium heat. When the oil is heated and sizzles when the pork hits the pan, set a timer. It’ll only take about 3-4 minutes on each side–at least on my stove.

Et voilà–since you timed it right, it’s time for dinner! Grab those potatoes, be generous with the butter and sour cream and enjoy!

IMG_4339

Clams casino is a regional favorite in this neck of the woods. What is not to love about any dish made with bacon, peppers and wine? But why should clams be the only ones invited to the casino? Chicken is a delicious casino variation and tastes oh-so-fine over capellini. So, all you clam haters, this one’s for you!

CHICKEN CASINO CAPPELLINI ALLA SPERANZA

3 cloves garlic
1 shallot
6 pieces of bacon
3/4 pound chicken breast, cut in chunks
fresh parsley, coarsely chopped (a generous handful)
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup dry white wine (I like Meridian Chardonnay)
extra-virgin olive oil
½ fresh lemon, squeezed
1 red bell pepper cut into matchstick pieces and roasted
1 tablespoon capers

Before you get started, roast the peppers in the oven. Try about 15-20 minutes in an oven preheated to 350 degrees F. Take a peek around the 10-minute mark to make sure everything’s on track and then set your timer for 5-10 more minutes.

Now, cook the bacon. Set aside on paper towels, cool, then chop finely. Don’t get rid of all the bacon drippings! Reserve enough to barely coat bottom of skillet.

This would be a fine time to set a large pot of salted water to boil for your capellini.

Meanwhile, add about a tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet. Add chicken and cook till no longer pink. Add chicken broth, white wine and lemon. Add capers and roasted peppers just to get them warmed up and incorporated.

Serve in deep soup bowls over capellini. Sprinkle bacon on top and garnish with fresh parsley

And for those of you who are clam fans, check out the original clams casino capellini alla Speranza!

blood orange ritas

Ready for a twist on the classic margarita? Half a lime is still invited to the party, it’s just not the primary fruit. Cinco de Drinko’s just around the corner. Color outside the lines with me, it’s fun–and delicious! :)

BLOOD ORANGE MARGARITAS

for two

6 oz. (3/4 cup) blood orange juice
1/2 lime, squeezed
4 oz. tequila
1 oz. Cointreau
1 oz. Grand Marnier
2 sugar-rimmed glasses of your choice

Stir, serve over ice and savor every sip!

strata slice

One of my favorite things to do with strata is to add Ore-Ida Crispy Crowns to the mix. Because, while bread is good, half bread and half badadas is truly a beautiful thing.

I finally got around to writing it all down to share with you. Remember, you can easily include other meats or veggies, so consider this a jump-off point for your own strata-fication!  :)

KATTY’S ITALIAN-AMERICAN STRATA

8 eggs
1 3/4 cups milk
¼ cup heavy cream
1 cup shredded cheddar
1 1/2 cups of your favorite bread, cubed (I used sourdough)
2 1/2 cups Ore Ida Crispy Crowns, baked according to package instructions
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons Penzey’s Sunny Paris seasoning
1 small bunch broccoli
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
3/4 – 1 pound breakfast sausage, cooked and cut into small pieces
1/2 a large sweet onion, chopped

Beat eggs, milk and cream in L A R G E bowl. Add shredded cheddar, Sunny Paris, salt and pepper. Stir bread cubes into egg mixture. This part of the recipe should hang out in the fridge for a couple of hours or overnight.

When you’re ready to complete the recipe, steam the broccoli for approximately 2 minutes, then set aside.

This is also a good time to turn on the oven to the right temperature to cook the Crispy Crowns. Getting them crispy ahead of time makes them nice-nice in the strata. Get those going and then we can put it all together. But drop the temp back down to 350 degrees F when you’re ready to bake your strata, OK?

In a large pan, cook your breakfast sausages. I had links–if you have bulk sausage, just break it up as it cooks. Drain on paper towels, saving just a bit of the fat so you can add the onion back to the pan and cook it in the drippings. As the onions are cooking, add the red peppers. Cook till the onions are almost golden, then set it all aside to cool.

Cut the sausages into small pieces. Stir onions, peppers, broccoli and sausage into eggs.

Once the Crispy Crowns have cooked, place half of them in rows, four by four (so 16, total on the bottom of the pan), so each cut square should get one. You’ll use the rest for the top of the strata.

Pour ingredients into a buttered 9″ square baking dish. Then, evenly place the remaining Crispy Crowns over the top. I had enough to fill a 9″ square as well as a little mini-heart dish.

strata whole

strata heart

Bake at 350 degrees F for approximately 50 minutes or till top is lightly golden and eggs are set. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

almond shortbread no-roll pie crust

My mom helped celebrate Pi(e) Day with me yesterday. I crossed my almond shortbread recipe with a very similar recipe for a no-roll shortbread crust and baked by proxy. It even involved math, appropriately enough. Thanks for being patient with my math and doing this for me, Ma!

What a delicious crust! And so easy. My mom is, without question, the best pie baker in the family, so my humble instructions were in good hands.

ALMOND SHORTBREAD PIE CRUST: A NO-ROLL RECIPE

3/4 cup (1.5 sticks) salted butter
1 cup + 2 tablespoons flour
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons almond flour
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 + 1/8 teaspoon salt (yes, 3/8, but I don’t have a 3/8 measure, do you?)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Blend ingredients till a soft dough forms. Pat into a 9-inch pie pan. Prick crust well with fork. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes, till crust is golden.

Here’s the final pie–the filling is Cook’s Country’s lemon chess.

lemon chess pie cook's country

The crust is excellent! The pie filling’s texture is a standout–crisp, crackly top with a rich, silky custard beneath it. I especially love how the pie looks like the sun. And it’s very tasty, too. I would prefer a more tart, lemony flavor and will work on that as time goes by. But it hasn’t stopped me from eating my way through this plate of sunshine. Thanks again, Ma! Love you!

 

 

peanut butter pie

Two great tastes that taste great together–chocolate and peanut butter– come together beautifully and easily. Start with a store-bought Oreo shell, then whip up (literally) a quick ‘n tasty filling.

PEANUT BUTTER PIE

1 Oreo pie shell
1 cup heavy cream
8 oz. Neufchatel cheese, softened
1 cup creamy peanut butter (Skippy is my fave)
1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon Maker’s Mark
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

In a stand mixer, whip the heavy cream till stiff peaks form. Move to a small, separate bowl in the fridge till it’s time to add to the pie.

Again, using a stand mixer, cream together the peanut butter and Neufchatel cheese till smooth. Add sweetened condensed milk, bourbon, vanilla and lemon juice. Beat till smooth, scrape down sides to be sure everything is incorporated. Next, fold in about 1/3 of the whipped cream you set aside. Then fold in the rest.

Pour into the Oreo shell and smooth the top of the surface. I saved one dollop of whipped cream for the center, just to be fancy. Refrigerate for three hours or overnight before serving. Delicious!

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