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Monday, September 26, 2011

Tonight's Menu - Saturday Roast Beef Dinner

For those of you that keep up with me here on Evenings With Peter, you know of my love for Saveur magazine--and every now and then, an issue appears on my doorstep filled with recipes where I want to make every single one. The October issue is a prime example of just what I'm talking about. Apart from the feast I threw together heralding roast beef, I want to pickle baby vegetables, make challah knots for the High Holidays, serve up steak and Stilton pies and toast to it all with a host of whiskey cocktails found in Saveur's fall pages.

The medium-rare roast rubbed with rosemary and garlic was so easy, and a showstopper. I suggest doing the rub the night before you plan to serve it and let the flavors sink into the meat, wrapped under refrigeration. English pork pie was exhausting (it took about 8 hours, imagine toiling at midnight, ladling gelatinous stock into our pie as it was absorbed!), but we were ultimately breathless with each savory bite--and it got full approval from our British guest, even though I used store-bought dough instead of making my own. Have your butcher cube your meat as much as possible according to the recipe to save time. Roasted potatoes were from a can and a delight, sharing the pan with our beef toward the end of the cooking time. Grilled green beans with a basil-celery leaf-parsley pesto (subbing for bean-leaves that I didn't have time to search out) were pulled from a recipe on tasting and Baby's wonderful honey cake indeed took the cake for dessert, draped in chocolate glaze from Gourmet Live on Use at least double the coconut milk suggested for your glaze and add a little lavender extract for good measure. Links are below. Do enjoy!

Tonight's Menu
English Pork Pie
Rosemary-Rubbed Beef Tenderloin
Roasted Potatoes
Charred Beans with Bean-Leaf Pesto
Steamed Asparagus
Honey Cake

Soundtrack: Sweeney Todd, original Broadway recording. I was serving a meat pie, after all--just look above!

Photo Credit: Todd Coleman

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Recipe Box - A is for Apricot

As in apricot squares! Baby's aunt Elsa is actually an old family friend, but as we do if we are so lucky, we embrace precious, beloved ones to complete our families. Going to her house in Brooklyn years ago over the Jewish holidays, Baby remembers the house being filled with the wondrous aromas of her baking upon entering. As a boy, he particularly looked forward to her apricot squares then, and would ask his mother to make them at home to fill the other months, which she did. The tradition had disappeared for years and just over the summer when we were visiting aunt Elsa in upstate New York, Baby requested the recipe--after some digging, Elsa found the recipe card pictured here and we were delighted to make them ourselves, together. Do enjoy this sweet reminiscence.

Aunt Elsa's Apricot Squares
1/2 lb. butter
1 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
2 cups flour
1 cup crushed nuts
1 12 oz. jar of apricot jam

Cream butter and sugar. Add yolks. Fold in flour and nuts. Divide in 1/2. Press one 1/2 into 13x9 pan. Spread jam on top. Crumble remaining dough on top. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Cool. Cut into squares. As you can see, they don't last for long!

Monday, September 19, 2011

In The Kitchen With...Chef Luis Arce Mota

Chef Mota, who helms the fabulous restaurant Ofrenda, was kind enough to pass this scrumpdilly recipe for tuna steaks along to Next magazine--and in turn, I am further sending it along to the readers of Evenings With Peter! Do enjoy!

Atún Adobado a la Parilla con Chile Pulla y Salsa Mexicana con Espinaca
(marinated, grilled tuna with Mexican salsa and sautéed spinach)
Adapted from Luis Arce Mota’s menu at Ofrenda ~ Cocina Mexicana

Marinated Tuna
2 6-8 oz. yellowfin tuna steaks
1 pulla chile
2 pasilla chiles
1 ancho chile
1 tablespoon coriander seed
16 cloves garlic
1/8 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
5/8 cup canola oil
1/8 teaspoon ground chile de arbol

Mexican Salsa
2 large, ripe and firm plum tomatoes, diced
½ small red onion, diced
½ Serrano pepper, minced
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
Juice of 1 lemon
4 cups baby spinach

Remove seeds from the pulla, pasilla and ancho chiles. Toast chiles lightly for about 2 minutes, taking care not to burn them. Tear the chiles into small pieces and add them to the coriander seed, 6 cloves of garlic, cumin, black pepper and 1/8 cup canola oil and put into blender and blend to a slightly textured consistency. Rub sauce into tuna steaks and refrigerate for 3 hours.

To make the Mexican salsa, put diced tomatoes into a bowl and season with salt. Add diced red onion, minced Serrano pepper, chopped cilantro, and lemon juice. Let rest for 10 minutes at room temperature, and then mix all ingredients together. Cover and refrigerate.

Take ½ cup canola oil and remaining 10 cloves of garlic, making sure the garlic is immersed in the oil and put in a small pan. Cook at low temperature until the oil is infused by the garlic,and the garlic has become very soft, taking care not to burn the garlic. Strain the oil and put aside. This will be the oil used to sautée the spinach. About 15 minutes before serving, remove Mexican salsa and tuna from the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature.

Pre-heat a grill until very hot. Place marinated tuna steaks on grill and grill each side for 1-2 minutes. The outside should be seared and the center should be warm and rare. Sautée spinach with previously infused garlic oil with a pinch of chile de arbol for 30 seconds. Put spinach in middle of the plate and the grilled tuna on top of the spinach, and garnish the tuna with the Mexican salsa.

Serves 2.

First published in part in Next magazine.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Spaghetti Squash and Kale Gratin

Here's a recipe from trufflehead, the first app for iPhone and iPad to feature me! Check out the site's video here.

Spaghetti Squash and Kale Gratin
Courtesy of

Isn’t spaghetti squash utterly beguiling? Years ago, after foraging through the innards to discover those miraculous, sinuous strands that unfurl like the pasta for which this gorgeous gourd is named, I was completely hooked! Add kale, the most nutritious green there is into the mix, and here is indeed a recipe quite worth making. Any variety of Swiss Chard would work well for this too.

Behold the innards!

Any sort of gourd is not easy to cut through, so use the knife with the most heft that you have in the house. Heat the oven to 350 degrees while removing the seeds from a medium spaghetti squash, about two pounds, and then send to the microwave for 15 minutes until soft, cut side up. Let cool. Use a fork with abandon to scrape out the spaghetti-like strands of your squash into a rather capacious bowl. Toss out the rind.

Isn’t it amazing?

I shirked the suggested skillet, thereby cutting out the middle man by using only an oven-ready gratin pan and a medium bowl: into the gratin pan went the one yellow onion (roughly one cup or more), five cloves minced garlic, several thyme stems (to be pulled out before serving), salt and black pepper with more than the tablespoon of olive oil that the recipe requires. Cook and stir now and then for five minutes until the onion becomes soft. Grab hold of the stems of your kale and pull off the leafy fronds with your other hand. Discard the stems. Wilt a ½ bunch of kale leaves (about four cups) for at least five minutes more and then remove from heat.

As the kale conspired with the other ingredients…

In a medium bowl combine cottage cheese, ¼ cup grated Parmesan, and two egg whites (¼ cup). Stir to blend together.

Gently stir squash into the kale mixture; blend in the cheese mixture. Even it all out and top with remaining ¼ cup Parmesan or as much as you’d like.

Here we go then, all ready for the oven.

Bake 35-40 minutes until achieving that golden, breathless perfection. Although the recipe doesn’t call for it, I’d add some freshly grated nutmeg the next time I make this wonderful dish.

Voila! Spaghetti Squash and Kale Gratin!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Tonight's Menu - Tilapia

Courtesy of Fresh Direct!

Among my many excesses I now list Fresh Direct, the food delivery service that brings the goods right to your door, if available in your neighborhood. I've probably bored my friends enough with my love/borderline obsession but suffice to say, the food is fresh (it arrives chilled!), ordering is easy and the prices are entirely reasonable. For those of us who don't have cars, ordering cumbersome items or planning a dinner party with a lot of items is a snap because you don't have to lug the stuff home. And their customer service is speedy and efficient.

We had ordered tilapia and microvaveable fresh asparagus and had Red Jacket plums from Fresh Direct's summer promotion--with every order they dropped some free produce in! Sadly, that ended when September arrived all too quickly, but just the same, a meal was born.

Tonight's Menu
Baked Tilapia with Major Grey's Mango Chutney
Roasted Plums and Blueberries
Steamed Asparagus

Preheat oven to 375. Slice your plums and roast them for about 25 minutes (with a shallow pool of white wine!). Slather a little chutney (with a dash of sriracha sauce) on your tilapia filets and bake them on another rack about halfway through the roasting of the plums, roughly 13-15 minutes until flaky. Throw the blueberries with the plums for a few minutes more until softened. In the midst of this, put the package of asparagus into the microwave for 2 1/2 - 3 minutes. Top your fish with the roasted fruit and voila, dinner is served!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Tonight's Menu - Sole Meuniere

It worked! It worked! After several miserable attempts at making Sole Meuniere, this one was a triumph. Check out here, here, here, and here. Below is the recipe to follow--at last what was once my Waterloo turned out to be wondrous. What I've learned: make sure you have a cooperative, conducive pan (fairly shallow, and well-heated--an All-Clad skillet is great), a sizable cut of sole filets, not too thin, and the best European butter you can find. And don't let the fish linger once you've floured it; cook it right away.

Lemon sole was the star, served with a reasonable cucumber bisque as a starter, before moving on to a frisee salad with a ton of chopped parsley freshened with a mustard bacon dressing and whole potatoes roasted in olive oil to accompany our main.

Classic Sole Meunière
Recipe adapted by Molly Wizenberg via Bon Appetit magazine
2 servings

1/2 cup all purpose flour
4 lemon sole fillets (each about 3 to 4 ounces)
Coarse kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil or canola oil
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter sauce 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Lemon wedges

Place flour in pie dish. Rinse fish; pat with paper towels. Sprinkle both sides of fish with coarse salt and freshly ground pepper. Dredge fish on both sides with flour; shake off excess. Place on platter.
Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat until oil is hot and shimmers. Add butter; quickly swirl skillet to coat. When foam subsides, add fish and cook until golden on bottom, 2 to 3 minutes. Carefully turn fish over and cook until opaque in center and golden on bottom, 1 to 2 minutes. Divide fish between 2 warmed plates; tent with foil. Pour off drippings from skillet; wipe with paper towels.
Place skillet over medium-high heat. Add butter; cook until golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in parsley and lemon juice (sauce may sputter). Spoon sauce over fish. Serve with lemon wedges.
Thanks to for the image!