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Recipe: Chicken Posole

One of our favorite events every summer is The Sylvia Center’s Farm-to-Table dinner, hosted by Great Performances in the fields of Katchkie Farm in Kinderhook, N.Y. The mission of The Sylvia Center is to inspire young people and their families to eat well through hands-on learning experiences on the farm and in the kitchen. Jenn So, director of programs at The Sylvia Center, offers us recipes the teenagers are learning to make.

When the weather is so variable, a recipe like this for chicken posole, a Mexican stew, hits the spot: it’s both light and warming. The subtle spice and layers of herbs compel us to dream of fresh cut oregano soon to come, while waving a thankful goodbye to winter and stews. When you fill the bowl, don’t forget to leave room for toppings. Sprinkle a satisfying crumble of cotija cheese, add some crunch with shredded cabbage, or up the heat with hot sauce. Dig into the back corners of your pantry, if you dare. The posole will adapt beautifully and you’ll leave the table satisfied, ready to tackle whatever season the day brings.

Chicken Posole
Makes 6 to 8 servings

1 to 1 1/2 pounds chicken breast, skin on and bone in
8 cups chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme (1/2 teaspoon dry)
1 teaspoon minced fresh oregano (1/2 teaspoon dry)
2 clove garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons cumin
1 to 2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika, optional
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional
1 (29-ounce) can hominy, drained and rinsed

Some pozole topping ideas: diced avocado, lime wedges, diced red, white or yellow onion, thinly sliced radishes, shredded lettuce or cabbage, diced tomatoes, chopped cilantro, crumbled cotija cheese, hot sauce, tortilla chips.

1. Pat the chicken breasts dry. Sprinkle them on both sides with salt and pepper.

2. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the chicken breast in a single layer and sear for 2-3 minutes on each side until golden brown.

3. Add the chicken broth and bring to a rapid simmer and cover, cooking chicken for about 7-10 minutes or until cooked all the way through. Remove chicken from Dutch oven and set aside to cool.

4. Add the bay leaf, thyme, oregano, garlic, cumin, 1 teaspoon of the salt, chili powder, coriander, smoked paprika, and red pepper flakes to the broth mixture in the Dutch oven. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered.

5. As the broth simmers, shred chicken from the bone into bite-sized strips, removing skin and cartilage. Set aside.

6. Prepare all the toppings and set aside in small bowls.

7. Add the chicken and the drained hominy to the pot. Raise the heat to medium to warm everything through, about 5 minutes. Taste and add more salt or other seasonings if needed. Remove the bay leaf.

8. Serve the soup in individual bowls with the toppings on the table. Garnish as desired. Leftover posole will keep, refrigerated, for 1 week.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 04/17/17 at 12:40 PM • Permalink

Recipe: Cabernet-Braised Short Ribs

Contributor Lisa Fielding is a private chef and boutique caterer based in Manhattan who weekends in Litchfield County whenever possible. Many of her Manhattan clients are also Litchfield County weekenders, so work brings her to Northwest Connecticut as well. A Los Angeles transplant, Fielding was a former Hollywood film executive who segued into screenwriting several years ago, which enabled her to pursue her passion for food and entertaining. Lisa’s culinary skill set draws from a broad spectrum of dishes and ingredients.

I just returned to the East Coast after a three-week travel extravaganza that included a pop-up dinner in San Francisco where one of the patrons — fresh in from NYC — had dined at Daniel. He made a point of telling us that our dinner surpassed his experience at one of the titans of NYC’s restaurants. That’s a mighty high bar to meet or best and the compliment presents the perfect jumping off point for this week’s recipe.

I landed late on Friday night and less than 12 hours later was hard at work making a very special anniversary dinner for one of my clients. I chose Daniel Boulud’s (Daniel) cabernet-braised short ribs which I’ve made for years and amended to suit my tastes perfectly. These short ribs braise to a fork pull-apart tenderness and the sauce, after straining and reducing, is velvety rich. For a change I plated over individual potato onion rostis (oversized latkes) which to my surprise was an even better companion than my go-to crispy polenta rounds. 

This recipe requires some prep time but once it’s in the oven braising you can leave it alone for hours and attend to the rest of your to-do list. Straining and reducing is also essential so don’t skip steps or you’ll deny yourself the pleasure of one of the most succulent dinners ever. 

Cabernet-Braised Short Ribs
Serves 8

2 bottles dry red wine
2 tablespoons olive oil
5 lbs. short ribs (bone in or out) trimmed of excess fat
Salt and crushed black peppercorns
Flour, for dredging
8 large shallots, peeled, trimmed, split, rinsed and dried
4 medium-sized carrots, peeled, trimmed and cut into 1-inch lengths
4 ribs of celery, peeled, trimmed and cut into 1-inch lengths
2 medium-sized leeks (white and light-green parts), coarsely chopped, washed and dried
10 cloves of garlic, peeled
6 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
2 bay leaves and 2 thyme sprigs
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 quart beef broth


1. Pour the wine into a large saucepan set over medium heat. When the wine is hot, carefully set it aflame. Let the flames die out, then increase the heat so that the wine boils; allow it to boil until it cooks down by a third. Remove from the heat.
2. Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350°F.
3. Warm the oil in a large, heavy, ovenproof pot over medium-high heat. Season the ribs all over with salt and the crushed pepper. Dust half of the ribs with about 1 tablespoon flour. Then, when the oil is hot, slip the ribs into the pot and sear 4 to 5 minutes on each side, until well-browned. Transfer the ribs to a plate. Repeat with remaining ribs. Remove all but 1 tablespoon of the fat from the pot, lower the heat under the pot to medium and toss in the vegetables and herbs. Brown the vegetables lightly, 5 to 7 minutes, then stir in the tomato paste and cook for 1 minute.
4. Add the wine, ribs and broth to the pot. Bring to a boil, cover tightly and place in the oven to braise for 2 1/2 hours or until the ribs are very tender. Every 30 minutes, skim and discard fat from the surface. (It’s best to make the recipe to this point, cool and chill the ribs and broth in the pan overnight; scrape off the fat the next day. Rewarm before continuing.)
5. Carefully transfer the meat to a platter. Pass the sauce through a fine strainer and discard the solids. Return to the flame, heat to a simmer and reduce by half. Season with salt and white pepper.  (The ribs and sauce can be combined and kept covered in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days. Reheat gently, basting frequently, on top of the stove or in a 350°F oven.)
6. To serve, slide the short ribs back into the sauce and gently heat. Plate on top of a polenta, pureed potatoes or rosti and spoon additional sauce on top. 

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Posted by Lisa Green on 04/11/17 at 10:30 AM • Permalink

Recipe: Chocolate Beet Cupcakes

One of our favorite events every summer is The Sylvia Center’s Farm-to-Table dinner, hosted by Great Performances in the fields of Katchkie Farm in Kinderhook, N.Y. The mission of The Sylvia Center is to inspire young people and their families to eat well through hands-on learning experiences on the farm and in the kitchen. Jenn So, director of programs at The Sylvia Center, offers us recipes the teenagers are learning to make.

These Chocolate Beet Cupcakes are as stunning as they are healthy. The beets contribute a lush earthiness to the cake, keeping the crumb moist and flavorful. Kids get a kick out of the bright fuchsia frosting, which is naturally derived from the beet puree. We made these with our teen students for Valentine’s Day but, with the gorgeous color, this cupcake would be perfect for Easter as well!



Chocolate Beet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
Makes 12 muffins
(Adapted from Eating Well)

2 cups diced, peeled beets (½-inch; about 2 medium)
⅔ cup plain yogurt
1½ cups whole-wheat flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 large egg
¼ cup canola oil
1¾ cups packed confectioners’ sugar, divided
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
5 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature


Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.

2. Bring about 1 inch of water to a boil in a large saucepan fitted with a steamer basket. Add beets, cover and steam until tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to a blender. Add yogurt and puree until smooth. Pour the beet mixture into a large bowl, reserving 2 tablespoons.

3. Whisk flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.

4.  Whisk the egg, oil, 1 cup confectioners’ sugar and vanilla into the beet mixture. Stir in the dry ingredients until just combined. Spoon the batter into muffin cups.

5. Bake cupcakes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.

6. To prepare frosting, combine the remaining ¾ cup confectioners’ sugar and cream cheese with the reserved beet puree in a medium bowl. Beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Top each cooled cupcake with a generous tablespoon of frosting.

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Posted by Amy Krzanik on 04/02/17 at 01:00 PM • Permalink

Recipe: Seared Salmon Piperade Saltado

Contributor Lisa Fielding is a private chef and boutique caterer based in Manhattan who weekends in Litchfield County whenever possible. Many of her Manhattan clients are also Litchfield County weekenders, so work brings her to Northwest Connecticut as well. A Los Angeles transplant, Fielding was a former Hollywood film executive who segued into screenwriting several years ago, which enabled her to pursue her passion for food and entertaining. Lisa’s culinary skill set draws from a broad spectrum of dishes and ingredients.

I have always loved piperade which is a Basque dish that combines red bell peppers, onions and tomatoes sautéed and reduced until a thick, rich sauce is produced. It is the perfect companion to seared, roasted and grilled fish, my personal favorite being salmon. But I had recently made a Peruvian feast for a client and fell in love with an equally simple dish called Lomo Saltado. The surprising ingredients in this tomato sauce are soy sauce and red wine vinegar. I know, sounds strange, but tastes otherworldly. So I combined the two and came up with Piperade Saltado! And the crowd went wild. The sauce reduced for a good two hours on low heat in a wide skillet so I recommend giving yourself ample time to make what is otherwise, easy peasy. Sear salmon or a fish or your choice and plate on a bed of lemony, chicken stock-flavored white rice. Pair with a cold, crisp Sançerre and dinner is served.

Seared Salmon Piperade Saltado
Serves 6

For the sauce
2 small red onions sliced thinly
4 red bell peppers roasted, peeled, seeded and sliced thinly
  (Can substitute 24 oz. jarred variety)
(1) 32 oz. can of San Marzano whole tomatoes, hand-crushed
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes.
2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 cup olive oil divided

1. In a large skillet, over medium heat, sauté the onions in half the olive oil until caramelized, around 12 minutes. Remove from the pan.
2. Add the remaining olive oil and toss in the roasted red bell peppers and sauté for five minutes until they start to break down. Now add the tomatoes to the skillet together with the onions. Stir until combined.
3. Bring to a simmer and add the soy sauce and red wine vinegar all at once. Cook until reduced by half, for up to an hour over low heat.
4. Add salt and crushed red pepper flakes to taste.

For the salmon
2 lbs. salmon fillet, skin on, sliced into 1/3 lb. servings
2 tbsp. olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste
2 tbsp. lemon juice
2 tbsp. soy sauce

1. With a fork, poke the fillets in a few different places, a la poking a pie crust before it bakes.
2. Salt and pepper the fillets, douse with the lemon juice and soy sauce. Let sit for 15 minutes.
3. In a large skillet heat 1 tbsp. olive oil until very hot. Pat the fillets dry and add three to the pan skin-side down. Gently press the fillets with the back of a spatula.
4. Cook for 3 minutes or until the skin is crispy and browned.
5. Flip the fillets and once again press down gently with the back of a spatula. Cook for 3 minutes or until a caramelized crust has formed.
6. Remove from the pan and allow to rest on a rack so the skin stays crisp. Repeat with remaining fillets.

For the rice
2 cups long-grain white rice
6 tbsp. unsalted butter
4 cups chicken stock
Juice of one-half lemon

1. In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat and add the rice all at once. Sauté until rice is completely coated in butter for 2 minutes.
2. Add stock and lemon juice all at once. Bring mixture to a boil. Turn heat down to low, cover and cook for twenty minutes until done.

Assembly
1. Reheat sauce briefly and smear 1/3 cup on a plate.
2. Mound 2/3 cup of rice on top.
3. Gently place seared salmon on top of rice. Dollop with sauce. Add a sprig of parsley.
4. Repeat for each plate and serve.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 03/29/17 at 08:37 AM • Permalink

Recipe: Crunchy Cranberry Granola

One of our favorite events every summer is The Sylvia Center’s Farm-to-Table dinner, hosted by Great Performances in the fields of Katchkie Farm in Kinderhook, N.Y. The mission of The Sylvia Center is to inspire young people and their families to eat well through hands-on learning experiences on the farm and in the kitchen. Jenn So, director of programs at The Sylvia Center, offers us recipes the teenagers are learning to make.

Granola is one of the easiest breakfasts to make at home and surprisingly more cost efficient than store-bought varieties. You can make a large batch and keep it in an airtight container for weeks. The best part is that you can adjust the baking time to suit your tastes — for a crunchier granola, bake for longer. If you like more clusters, you can add more honey and brown sugar. Our students love eating this granola over yogurt or a baked pear.

Crunchy Cranberry Granola
Yields about 5 cups

3 cups rolled oats
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup honey or maple syrup
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup flax seeds
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup dried cranberries

1. Preheat oven to 375˚F.
2. Over medium heat, combine oil, sugar and honey in a saucepan until sugar is dissolved. Add vanilla.
3. Combine oats, nuts, seeds, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl.
4. Add the liquid mixture to the oat mixture and combine.
5. Transfer oat mixture to a large baking sheet and spread evenly.
6. Bake for 25 minutes, stirring the oats occasionally. If you prefer chewier granola, or VERY crunchy granola, you can adjust the baking time.
7. Cool granola on a cooling rack until completely cool. Add dried fruit.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 03/20/17 at 03:19 PM • Permalink

Poached Chicken In Citrus Ginger Butter Sauce

Contributor Lisa Fielding is a private chef and boutique caterer based in Manhattan who weekends in Litchfield County whenever possible. Many of her Manhattan clients are also Litchfield County weekenders, so work brings her to Northwest Connecticut as well. A Los Angeles transplant, Fielding was a former Hollywood film executive who segued into screenwriting several years ago, which enabled her to pursue her passion for food and entertaining. Lisa’s culinary skill set draws from a broad spectrum of dishes and ingredients.

Spring is just around the corner despite the late blizzard that just landed on our doorstep. So even if this mercurial change of temperatures has you yearning for comfort food, put this lighter and incredibly delicious dish on your forecast for when the roads are safe again and you can make it to the market for some key ingredients. This is a poached chicken dish plated on a bed of crunchy, colorful wild rice (recipe included here) with an orangey, garlicky, gingery butter sauce akin to a beurre monte. The combination of subtle and dynamic flavors spells SPRING in capital letters. So once winter is truly behind us, celebrate with this beautiful meal. It’s a wonderful welcome to warmer climes ahead. 

Spring Chicken
(Poached Chicken in Citrus Ginger Butter Sauce)

Serves 8

8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (6 to 7 oz. each)
1 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup honey
3 tbsp. minced fresh ginger
2 tbsp. minced fresh garlic
1 tbsp. minced fresh rosemary
1½ tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. ground pepper
1½ sticks salted butter room temperature

1. Combine all ingredients except butter in a saucepan. Over medium heat, cook sauce until it bubbles and thickens, 20-30 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

2. Nestle chicken breasts in a casserole. Pour 3/4 cup of the liquid over the chicken breasts and allow to marinate for an hour.

3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Massage butter into remaining liquid. Stir until well incorporated. The mixture should be fluffy. Dot chicken breasts with half of the butter mixture. Poach in the oven for 20-25 minutes until done.

4. Remove chicken from the casserole and pour all of the liquid into a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cook for another 20 minutes until thickened. Remove from heat. Pass sauce through a fine sieve. Return the sauce to the saucepan and with the heat on a low use a whisk to incorporate the remaining butter mixture one tablespoon at a time. This is the process of “mounting the butter” into the sauce and allowing it to emulsify. Adjust seasoning. To plate, thickly slice the chicken breast on the diagonal, place on a bed of wild rice (recipe below) and pour a generous amount of sauce. Sprinkle with snipped chives.

Herby Wild Rice with Radishes, Almonds & Ricotta Salata
Serves 8

6 cups chicken stock
3 cups wild rice
3/4 cup sliced mixed radishes
1 cup crumbled ricotta salata
½ cup chopped almonds
¼ cup minced fresh dill
¼ cup minced fresh mint
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. ground pepper

1. In a large saucepan (I like it wider than deeper when making wild rice as it cooks quickly and evenly), bring stock, salt and pepper to a boil. Add rice all at once, return to a simmer, cover and reduce heat. Check after 20 minutes to make sure all stock has not evaporated. Rice should be ready after 25 minutes of cooking time. Remove from heat, uncover and allow to cool.

2. Once the rice has cooled to a degree, fluff with fork and gently add radishes, almonds and herbs. As a final step, turn in ricotta salata. Rice is colorful, crunchy and ready for plating with poached chicken. Entire meal can be served at room temperature.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 03/14/17 at 09:48 AM • Permalink

Recipe: Orange Cinnamon Olive Oil Cake

One of our favorite events every summer is The Sylvia Center’s Farm-to-Table dinner, hosted by Great Performances in the fields of Katchkie Farm in Kinderhook, N.Y. The mission of The Sylvia Center is to inspire young people and their families to eat well through hands-on learning experiences on the farm and in the kitchen. Jenn So, director of programs at The Sylvia Center, offers us recipes the teenagers are learning to make.

Cakes usually call for quite a bit of butter in them, but this cake replaces it with olive oil — a much healthier fat — and gives it a nice crumb and a fruity flavor. The addition of orange gives this cake a bright and zesty sparkle, while the cinnamon warms and makes this healthy cake a great one for winter. We love this cake with tea or coffee in the morning.

Orange Cinnamon Olive Oil Cake
Serves 8-10

¾ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup whole-wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
½ cup of olive oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 orange, juiced and zested

1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Grease and flour a 9-inch round cake pan or 11x7 pan.

2. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a medium-sized bowl and set aside.

3. Whisk together eggs and sugar until blended and light. Slowly add olive oil, vanilla, orange juice and zest. Whisk until smooth.

4. Add half of the flour mixture to wet ingredients, mix thoroughly, then add the other half.

5. Pour into prepared cake pan and bake 25-30 minutes. Let the cake cool for 10-15 minutes before serving.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 03/06/17 at 04:24 PM • Permalink

Recipe: Lobster Poached In Beurre Monté

Contributor Lisa Fielding is a private chef and boutique caterer based in Manhattan who weekends in Litchfield County whenever possible. Many of her Manhattan clients are also Litchfield County weekenders, so work brings her to Northwest Connecticut as well. A Los Angeles transplant, Fielding was a former Hollywood film executive who segued into screenwriting several years ago, which enabled her to pursue her passion for food and entertaining. Lisa’s culinary skill set draws from a broad spectrum of dishes and ingredients.

Recently, I was asked to prepare an elaborate menu for a very special birthday dinner of which one course was lobster tail. I thought of piggybacking lobster tail and serving with a compound butter. Piggybacking requires a bit of surgery. First you poach the tail and then cut the shell down the center of the back with a kitchen shears, leaving tail fan intact. Next you run your finger between the meat and the shell to loosen them from each other. Then you carefully lift the lobster meat through the slit to rest on top of the shell without severing it entirely.

As fancy as this sounds, the dish still seemed rather “been there, done that.” My sister, also a chef, suggested poaching lobster tail in butter, which didn’t sound entirely innovative, but it did sound rich and decadent. I searched online for recipes and came across lobster tails poached in beurre monté. I liked the sound of beurre monté, and much to my grateful surprise after testing what is more science, less recipe, I was rewarded with one of the most elegant and delicious dishes I’ve ever made; it could only be categorized as heaven sent. To wit, now that I know what I’m doing, I would also classify this meal as easy plus — you will just need some patience and determination to extract the meat from the shells so the pieces are entirely presentable.

First, a few facts.

Beurre monté is an emulsion of water and butter. Yep, that’s it. Plain and simple. In fact, a stick of butter is an emulsion. You can see that when butter melts, separating into clear fat, milk solids floating on top, and water at the bottom. Beurre monté is chilled butter that has been whisked into a couple of tablespoons of simmering water, piece by piece, transforming into a creamy, fluffy and almost bisque-like sauce.

The keys to working with beurre monté are simple:
• Cut the butter into chunks before you begin. You don’t want to have to interrupt the whisking.
• Make sure the water into which you’re emulsifying the butter is at a high simmer but not a boil.
• Once the butter begins to melt and a liquid emulsification is formed, lower the heat so that the beurre monté doesn’t boil; if it boils, the emulsification can break.
• Once the beurre monté has been made, cover it with plastic wrap or a tight-fitting lid and keep it in a warm place; it can be held for hours. Any that’s left over can be stored in the refrigerator, where it can be clarified to be used for sautéeing.

Butter-Poached Lobster Tail with Sauce Fines Herbes
Served on a Bed of Braised Leeks

Serves 2
Active work and total preparation time: 1 hour

2 (1½-lb.) lobsters
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 cups (1 lb.) butter, cut into 1” slices
1½ tablespoons minced fines herbes (equal parts Italian parsley, tarragon and chives — reserve four whole chives for plating)
2 cups chicken bouillon
3 organic baby leeks, halved lengthwise and rinsed

1. Fill large pot with enough water to completely cover the lobsters. Add vinegar and bring to boil. Remove from heat and submerge the lobsters. Steep them for 6 minutes, covered.

2. Remove from the water, twist to remove the knuckles and claws and return these to the water. Separate the tails from the bodies (reserve the bodies for stock or discard). Cut through the cartilage on the undersides of the tails, pull apart, and gently pull out the tail meat in one piece. This is difficult, so tease the meat slowly and cut away at the shell if need be. Cut the tails in half lengthwise, remove the veins, and trim any loose strands.

3. Remove the claw meat from each lobster intact by wiggling off the small lower claw, to which a piece of cartilage is attached (be sure to remove this cartilage if it separates), and by cracking the fat claw near its base to open and remove the meat without damaging it. Remove the knuckle meat and reserve for another use (it’s great sautéed quickly in butter for a snack). Place all the meat on a paper-towel-lined plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until ready to use. (If chilled, allow the lobster meat to sit at room temperature for 1 hour before cooking.)

4. To make the beurre monté: Bring 2 tablespoons water to a simmer in a large saucepan. Whisk in the butter, 1 piece at a time, reducing the heat to low and being careful not to boil the butter. Once the sauce is done, add the fines herbes and allow the flavors to infuse.

5. For the leeks: Bring the bouillon to a simmer in a saucepan large enough to hold all the leeks. Place the leeks in the liquid cut side down. Cover and simmer for 8 minutes, until tender and silky. Remove from the braising liquid.

6. Return the beurre monté to the stovetop and reheat over low heat. Submerge the lobster tails in the sauce and poach over low heat until heated through, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the claw meat to warm for an additional 2 minutes. (The optimum temperature of beurre monté is between 180°F and 190°F.)

7. To serve: In each warmed shallow soup bowl place 3 leek halves. Now place the halved lobster tails and the claws. Ladle 1 cup of the warmed sauce over each. Top each serving with 2 crisscrossed chives.

Voilà! You’ve just cooked like professional chef! And since you’ve gone to all the expense and trouble to make this extraordinary dish, buy a great bottle of Meursault to accompany your beautiful dinner.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 03/01/17 at 12:29 PM • Permalink

Recipe: Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

One of our favorite events every summer is The Sylvia Center’s Farm-to-Table dinner, hosted by Great Performances in the fields of Katchkie Farm in Kinderhook, N.Y. The mission of The Sylvia Center is to inspire young people and their families to eat well through hands-on learning experiences on the farm and in the kitchen. Jenn So, director of programs at The Sylvia Center, offers us recipes the teenagers are learning to make.

This vegetarian tortilla soup is simple, delicious and a great recipe to customize. It’s a wonderful starter or a nourishing light main course. Add more adobo or hot sauce if you like it spicy, or add more vegetables and beans for a heartier soup. The kids in our cooking classes love garnishing their own bowls of soup with their favorite toppings, which include avocado, extra adobo and, of course, chips!

Vegetarian Tortilla Soup
Serves 6

1 large onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3 large garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoon chili powder
1½ teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon sugar
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, with juice
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, finely minced, plus more for heat
1 cup frozen corn
1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed
1 quart vegetable or chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste

Garnish suggestions:
Lime wedges
Shredded cheese
Fresh cilantro, chopped
Red onion, diced
Tortilla chips
Ripe avocado, cubed
Hot sauce

1. Warm a large pot over medium heat. Add oil, garlic, onion, pepper, and a pinch each of salt and pepper, and stir. Cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently, until onions are translucent and the peppers begin to soften.

2. Add cumin and chili powder and stir to coat. Then add canned tomato, vegetable stock, chipotle pepper and sugar. Stir to combine and bring to a boil.

3. Once soup boils, add black beans and corn and stir. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes or more, stirring occasionally.

4. Serve as-is or with recommended serving options above.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 02/20/17 at 03:53 PM • Permalink

Recipe: “Blonde” Meatballs & Spaghetti

Contributor Lisa Fielding is a private chef and boutique caterer based in Manhattan who weekends in Litchfield County whenever possible. Many of her Manhattan clients are also Litchfield County weekenders, so work brings her to Northwest Connecticut as well. A Los Angeles transplant, Fielding was a former Hollywood film executive who segued into screenwriting several years ago, which enabled her to pursue her passion for food and entertaining. Lisa’s culinary skill set draws from a broad spectrum of dishes and ingredients.

I love the concept of spaghetti and meatballs, but in reality I always find the actual dish too heavy, without tasting inspired or fresh. A bowl of pasta lacquered in heavy tomato sauce with even heavier meatballs might be the perfect answer to hunger pains on a wintry day, but what if you’re looking for something less filling, slightly more refined, and more presentable on the plate? Well, I happened upon a delicious path to a more delicate version of spaghetti and meatballs while cooking for a client and seeking a luncheon recipe to appease both children and adults at the table.

I always say that there is alchemy in the kitchen because if there weren’t, my career as a professional chef would have ended early into my tenure. For instance, there was the leg of lamb that despite following the recipe to the letter was completely undercooked and had to be butterflied and broiled until I could carve and serve it without destroying the beautiful piece of meat in the process. My clients later said it was the best leg of lamb that they had ever eaten. These little blessings happen all the time because, let’s face it, cooking is art and performance all rolled into one and just like anything else in life, there is room for error. And somewhere along the way, I have learned to trust in the process that no matter how bleak the scenario, the perfect solution is just a few deep breaths away.

Under similar circumstances, I developed this recipe out of necessity without any precedent for where I was going with the ingredients. My client had suggested a pasta with protein and also mentioned that there was ground turkey and a few eggplants in the refrigerator. Immediately, baked penne melanzane with a turkey ragù came to mind, but the creative side of my brain vetoed the notion and urged me to come up with something different. Note to self: cooking untested recipes for the first time at a client’s could be professional suicide or another good day in the kitchen. The gambler in me bet on myself, and a very clear image of turkey eggplant meatballs with a caramelized garlic olive oil sauce over spaghetti occurred to me.

And guess what? This dish turned out to be one of the most delicious and easiest meals I’ve ever prepared, while also hitting high marks for a gorgeous presentation. I plated it on a huge platter with a generous sprinkling of minced Italian parsley and additional freshly grated Parmesan, a blonde version of an Italian favorite. My clients loved it, too, and now it’s earned a place in the cookbook I will one day write.

So if you, like me, have fallen out of love with spaghetti and meatballs, rekindle your affection with mine.

Turkey Eggplant Meatballs with
Golden Caramelized Aglio e Olio

Serves 8 to 10

For the meatballs
2 pounds ground turkey
1 medium onion, finely diced
8 cloves garlic, finely diced
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 large eggplant, peeled and cubed
6 slices white bread, torn into pieces
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Prepare two baking sheets with parchment paper (do not substitute with foil, or meatballs will stick).
2. In a large bowl mix the turkey, onion, garlic, salt, and red pepper flakes.
3. Put the eggplant dice in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and reserve ½ cup of the cooking liquid.
4. Put the torn bread in a bowl and add 1/4 cup of the reserved eggplant water. Mash and squeeze the bread until it is a doughy, wet mass. If more water is needed, add a few more tablespoons one at a time.
5. Put the eggplant on a cutting board and chop until it is reduced to a pulpy purée.
6. Add the bread and eggplant to the turkey and mix well. Add the eggs and Parmesan and mix well. The mixture will be light and moister than a traditional meatball mixture.
7. Gingerly roll the turkey mixture into 2-inch balls and drop onto a baking sheet. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the tops are golden brown and the bottoms are crunchy. Set aside.

For the pasta
12 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 pounds dried spaghetti
1½ cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup minced Italian parsley

1. Place the minced garlic in a small pot, not a saucepan, and cover with the olive oil. (This is not a sauté but a slower-cooked caramelization process that cannot be achieved in a shallow pool of olive oil. The garlic would cook too quickly and taste bitter rather than sweet and garlicky with a chewy texture.) Add the salt and the red pepper flakes. Cook over low heat until the garlic has caramelized and is golden and slightly browned on the edges, about 15 minutes.
2. Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain but do not rinse; immediately place in a large bowl and toss with ¾ cup of the garlic olive oil. Toss with the Parmesan and parsley. Spread on a large serving platter.
3. In a large sauté pan over high heat, reheat the meatballs with the rest of the garlic olive oil for 2 to 3 minutes. Tumble the meatballs onto the platter and serve immediately.
4. Follow with a simple green salad. Mangiamo!

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Posted by Lisa Green on 02/13/17 at 05:11 PM • Permalink