Gazpacho

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Gazpacho is a fabulous cold summer soup made most often in Spain and Italy. It is light, fresh, and when the right flavor balance is reached, seriously yummy! Some places make chunkier gazpachos, but in Spain and Italy, more often than not, they are smooth.

This is a great appetizer for a summer meal, or you could even make a summer version of grilled cheese and tomato soup! I have always been a bit weary of gazpachos, because sadly, most people don’t make it right. I know that sounds funny, but the beauty of a good gazpacho is its simplicity.

Right now at the local farmer’s markets there are tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers a plenty – so its the perfect time to make this soup!

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Serving 4

  • 1 1/2 lb of vine tomatoes
  • 1/2 red bell pepper
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 small red onion
  • 2 garlic cloves boiled for 3 minutes
  • 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp sherry wine vinegar
  • extra virgin olive oil to garnish

Chop all of your ingredients into large 1″ chunks and put in a blender.  You can use a hand blender as well, but I find the regular blender an easier method.

Blend until smooth.

Then pour your mixture over fine mesh strainer into a large bowl.

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It takes around 15 minutes or so for it to fully drip the liquid into the bowl, and it may require you to stir it around a bit.

Once all of the liquid has drained out, add in your sherry wine vinegar, salt, and pepper, and your soup is ready. Ladle into bowls and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.

Fun tip: keep the pulp of this mixture and add basil to it for a quick and delicious bruschetta!

 

 

Chicken Chickpea Curry

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We love Indian food and order it every couple of weeks from our local delivery place.  I decided I would make an attempt at making it myself. Indian food, like Mexican food or many other ethnic foods for that matter, is all about the spices. Get the right seasoning combination and you can recreate some of your favorites.

This is a whole meal in one dish.  You can certainly serve this with rice, but with the chickpeas, you don’t really need it. This dish is packed with flavor and actually really healthy as well!

The best part about recreating your favorites is that you can use leaner meats and skim off any extra oil/fat you don’t want. You can also use fresh, local ingredients where possible and really control the salt levels as well. I have always believed healthy eating should never feel like sacrifice and this recipe does not disappoint.

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What you need for chicken chickpea curry

  • 1 lb chicken thighs (boneless and skinless)
  • 1 serrano pepper thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 2″ piece ginger pealed and minced
  • 1/2 – 1 yellow onion finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 15oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 28oz can crushed tomatoes (no salt added)
  • 2 tsp garam masala

Chop your chicken thighs into 1″ pieces and season with salt and pepper.

Cook in a medium sauce pan on medium heat for 10 minutes until cooked through. Remove the chicken from the pan and drain some of the liquid from the chicken leaving only a small amount.

Add your minced garlic, ginger, serrano, and onion to the pan and cook for 5 minutes on medium heat.

Add your spice mix minus the garam masala and cook for an additional 3 minutes.

Add the crushed tomatoes to the pan and reduce heat to low allowing flavors to simmer together for about 5 minutes.

Add the chickpeas, garam masala, and the chicken into the pan and cover and cook stirring occasionally for another 5 minutes.

Serve in bowls with or without rice.

Batch Cooking

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Every now and again I like to get ahead on cooking, and I will make a few different sauces to freeze.  What is great about that is that I can get week night dinners on the table even faster with some great bases.

Some sauces I make early are basil pesto, bolognese sauce, tomato sauce, sofrito, and picada. Most of these you are probably familiar with, and all of them will keep in the freezer for 6 months.

Now that school is back in session, this is a great way to get a leg up on the new crazy schedule that all families are experiencing.

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Picada is a saffron and parsley based Spanish sauce used to flavor dishes. It is often added as a base for dishes or added toward the end for a last minute flavor punch.

For 2 1/2 cups of picada:

  • 5 1/4 tsp saffron
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 3 1/2 cups flat leaf parsley
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup blanched hazelnuts

Toast your hazelnuts in a pan on medium high heat for 3 minutes until slightly browned.

Make a small foil packet and put the saffron inside, in the same pan you toasted the nuts in, toast the saffron for a few seconds and then let it cool.

In a bowl put your garlic, parsley, saffron, and olive oil and use a hand blender to make a coarse paste.

Add the hazelnuts and continue to blend until it is a smooth mixture.

Put in baggies about 3 tbsp per bag and label with the date before putting in the freezer.

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Sofrito is another Spanish sauce that also serves as a base for tons of dishes.  It is tomato, garlic, and onion based, and it’s a concentrated paste of flavor.

For 2 1/2 cups of sofrito:

  • 8 1/2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 4 1/2 cups of finely chopped yellow onion
  • 3/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 3/4 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1/2 bay leaf
  • 8oz can tomato puree
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Using a zester or garlic press, turn your garlic cloves into a paste.

Put your chopped onion in a blender and blend until a smooth paste.

Put a saucepan over medium heat and heat your olive oil. Add the garlic paste and fry until browned.

Add the onion paste, lower the heat, and add the herbs.  Stir frequently until the onion has browned.

Add all but a small amount of the tomato puree to the pan and cook for 30 minutes.

Add the remaining tomato puree and cook for 30 more minutes and season with salt and pepper.

Put in baggies about 2 tbsp per bag and label them with the date before freezing.

Sofrito is a great base for rice, stews, beans, chicken, potatoes and other dishes and picada is delicious on beef, chicken, chorizo, potatoes and more. They are packed with flavor and a great way to get a quick, delicious meal on the table.

Tuna Poké Bowl

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Poké bowls are quite a trendy thing at the moment, and honestly it is a sushi salad.  The ingredients are really up to you, but it is a Hawaiian dish that has made its way to the mainland. The key element of the bowl is raw fish, in this case, I used Tuna, and it is seasoned in various ways and served on top of rice or salad.

A few years ago I came across a great recipe for a tuna/avocado toast, and this became the base of my poké bowl today.  In case you haven’t noticed yet, James and I like spicy food, so this tuna/avocado toast recipe got a bit of an upgrade in the form of wasabi and jalapeño.

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For the tuna you need:

  • 3/4lb of sushi grade tuna
  • 1 tbsp white miso paste
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp wasabi
  • 1 tbsp chopped jalapeño
  • 1/2 tsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 avocado
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 tsp black sesame seeds

In a medium bowl mix together the miso, vinegar, ginger, oil, wasabi, soy sauce, lime juice and jalapeño.

Chop your tuna into 1/2″ pieces and cut your avocado in half cut into 1/2″ pieces also.

Add to the bowl of dressing and toss thoroughly.

Add your black sesame seeds for garnish.

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This is the heart of the dish, and as you can see, its super easy to make!

For the rest of it, it’s up to you.  For our poké bowl we had brown rice, mesclun lettuce, cucumber, shredded carrots, scallions, and some roasted peanuts for garnish. You can keep it simple and serve it over rice with nothing else or build a salad around it.

Anyway you choose to eat it, this healthy, delicious dinner has been around in Hawaii for centuries, and at this point there is no wrong way to enjoy your poké.

Brinner

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Breakfast is James’s favorite meal of the day, so every now and again a good brinner is just the thing.  Brinner you ask – breakfast for dinner! Tonight on the menu a Spanish Omelet aka Frittata or Tortilla. It’s egg and potato based and very yummy!

I make it loaded with lots of other things, because when feeding a hungry, rugby playing man, it’s important that each meal is hearty. All of the extra fillings add a lot of flavor too, so its a win win!

This is a great dish to serve at brunch with friends also, it’s easy to make, and everyone is always so impressed – especially if you can flip it out of the pan onto a platter seamlessly!

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What you will need:

  • 12 eggs
  • 3 spring onions
  • 2 small new potatoes
  • 8 slices of bacon
  • 1/2 cup of grated cheddar
  • 1 jalapeño
  • splash of milk

Pre-heat your oven to 350F.

Wash all of your produce, and peel your potatoes. Using a mandolin thinly slice your potatoes.  If you don’t have a mandolin you can do it by hand, but take care to slice them as evenly as possible about 1/4″ thick.

Chop your spring onions taking care to separate the whites from the green tops.

Mince your jalapeño.

Chop up your bacon into 1/2″ pieces.

In an oven safe, non-stick pan begin cooking your bacon on medium heat. Once the bacon starts to change color add your potatoes and cook for about 5 minutes.  Then add the whites of the spring onions and the jalapeño and cook for a further 5 minutes. *If needed, use a paper towel to absorb some of the excess oil from the bacon, you don’t want too much liquid in the pan.*

In a medium bowl crack your eggs, add the splash of milk and beat until smooth. Add the cheese and greens of the spring onion to the egg mixture and give it a few more turns with the whisk.

Pour the egg mixture over the potato and bacon and let cook over medium heat for 2-3 minutes.

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Put the pan into the oven for about 20 minutes until the eggs fluff up and there is no liquid movement in the pan when you move it around.

Remove it from the oven and let it rest for a couple of minutes before flipping it onto a platter or serving it up directly onto plates for dinner.

The best thing about this recipe is that you can actually bake it in muffin tins ahead of time and freeze it. Then during the week you can defrost a few at a time for your family breakfasts.

Whether enjoying it for brinner, brunch, or breakfast – this frittata is delicious, flavorful and so easy!

Chile Rellenos

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Any night we get to eat Mexican food, is a happy night in the Burke house. I grew up having Mexican food every Friday night and eating breakfast tacos or Mexican inspired breakfasts at least 3 times a week. Since adulthood living in a less Mexican/American city, I have missed my regular Mexican meals.

Our favorite restaurant at home is Los Barrios, and we have to eat there at least once every time we go visit my parents. Thankfully they have a cookbook, so when I am feeling particularly homesick, I can recreate some of my favorites.

This time I did a little adaptation of their chile relleno, which translated just means stuffed pepper. Most of the time these are fried and have lots of cheese, so I made a slightly healthier version of this classic.

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What you need for this recipe:

  • 4 poblano peppers
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 small white onion diced
  • 1 carrot diced
  • 1 bell pepper diced
  • 1 small new potato diced
  • 2-3 garlic gloves minced
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups tomato salsa

Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees. Brush your poblano peppers with some canola oil and roast in the oven for around 30 minutes until soft. Turn over half way through to ensure even cooking.

While your peppers cook, dice your onion, carrot, bell pepper and potato, and mince your garlic.

In a non-stick or cast-iron pan heat a teaspoon of canola oil and cook your diced potato for 15-20min until just starting to get tender.

Add the onion and bell pepper cooking a further 5 minutes, followed by the carrot and garlic cooking another 1-2minutes.

Add your ground beef and season with salt, pepper, and cumin. Make sure to break up the meat into small pieces as this way it all gets seasoned well and cooks evenly.

Remove your poblanos from the oven and carefully cut off the tops and remove the seeds. *note you can put the poblanos in a baggie for a few minutes to remove the skin easily before this step*

Stuff your peppers with the ground beef mixture and top with any extra beef and salsa.  If you want to add some grated cheddar or other Mexican cheese this would be the time.

Put back in the oven and cook for a further 5-6 min letting the flavors intermingle and the cheese melt.

Enjoy with a delicious cerveza or tequila gimlet!

 

El Bulli Fish Stew

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If you had asked me as a kid if I wanted fish stew, I have no doubt I would have turned up my nose at the thought.  If I had known then, what fish stew could taste like, I think I would have reacted differently.

Several years ago a colleague of mine gave me Ferran Adria’s cookbook The Family Meal. This is the famed chef from once top restaurant in the world, El Bulli. Needless to say, I was extremely intimidated by it, and for a long time, it served as coffee table book. If you ever get a chance to look at it, it is very scientific, and not for novice chefs, so you might understand why it sat there for a few years.

Recently in trying to get inspiration and learn new recipes I decided to pull it back out. I read through the entire introduction, which is really fascinating, and eventually got to the recipes. The recipes are set up as meals with an appetizer, main, and dessert.  For the right dinner party I will make an effort to prepare a whole meal, but for James and I, we only need the main.

The last couple of days have not been the best weather here in Connecticut. It’s been grey and rainy, so in honor of the impeding fall season, I decided to make the El Bulli fish stew.  Its kind of a compromise between a summer and winter dish.

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The recipe called for Mackerel, but our fish monger didn’t have it.  Instead I used Bronzino, but in hindsight, I would use cod or any other filleted white fish to save us the trouble of spines.

For this recipe you will need:

  • 1lb of cod
  • 1lb of new potatoes
  • 1 vine tomato
  • 2 tbsp parsley finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 4 cups fish stock
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp aioli (recipe below)

Grate your tomato on the large holes of a box grater, and then put the flesh into a strainer to drain out the liquid for 15minutes.

Peel the potatoes and cut them into 1″ pieces.

Heat 1 tsp of olive oil over medium heat in a sauté pan, and add your garlic. Cook the garlic for 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Add most of the chopped parsley  saving some for garnish and all of the grated tomato.

Cook this mixture for 5 minutes and then add the paprika and potatoes stirring until the potatoes are coated in the tomato/garlic/parsley mixture.

Pour in at least half of the fish stock until the potatoes are mostly covered, season with salt and pepper, and simmer for 25 minutes.

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After the 25 minutes, season your fish with salt and pepper and gently add them to the pan cooking for 5 minutes.

Mix your cornstarch with 1/2 tsp of water or so until its smooth and stir it carefully into the pot. Try not to break up your fish when stirring.

Simmer for another 5 minutes allowing the liquid to thicken and then add the aioli* to the pan.

Serve in shallow bowls and sprinkle the remaining chopped parsley on top for garnish.

The cornstarch and aioli give it a thick, creamy consistency making it seem rich without any added cream.  This stew is so delicious and light, I can’t wait to make it again!

*Aioli is just a garlic/lemon mayo so to make a quick batch for this recipe take a tbsp of mayo, squeeze 1-2 lemon wedges into it and add about 1/8 tsp of garlic powder.  Season it with salt and pepper et voila!