IMG_2852

The Barefoot Contessa has a great orzo salad that has been served over and over at LPB.  However, over the years I have made some changes to pick it up a bit.   We have added a few items, changed some of the veggies for a more flavorful dish.  It is perfect to make the day before and serve at BBQs and other casual events.

Ingredients 

  • 1 pound of orzo pasta, cooked al dente
  • 1 red onion, chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 1 red bell pepper,¬†chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 1 yellow bell pepper,¬†chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup feta cheese, chopped into small blocks
  • 1 1/2 cup fresh basil, cut into 1/10 inch strips
  • 1/2 cup dill, finely chopped
  • Zest of two lemons
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Making It

  • Cook the pasta in salted water two minutes under the suggested cooking time, then strain and mix it with 1/2 cup of olive oil, lemon zest and a shake of the salt and pepper. ¬†The pasta will keep cooking
  • Turn the oven to 425 degrees ¬†and throw the chopped onion and peppers onto a baking sheet, add garlic and then toss with red pepper flakes, liberal amount of extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. ¬†Bake for 8 minutes or so then mix into the pasta. ¬†Let the veggies and pasta cool to room temperature
  • Add the feta, basil, dill to the pasta and mix
  • In a small bowl add 1/2 cup olive oil, 1/2 cup lemon juice, mustard, salt and pepper and whisk together then blend it into the salad
  • Top with more basil and toasted pine nuts and serve

 

IMG_2820This is an easy one.  Turn your oven to 400 degrees.  Take a loaf of sour dough bread from your bakery and cut it  into bite sized pieces and throw them in a large mixing bowl.  Toss with 1 cup olive oil, kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper and bake for 15 minute or so.  Be sure to toss the bread crumbs half way through baking.

Other ingredients you can add:

  • 3 tablespoons of Dijon mustard
  • Chopped rosemary or thyme (or both)
  • Minced garlic (3 cloves)
  • Red pepper flakes

IMG_2852.JPGWe were in Istanbul for our friend Mohammed’s wedding and had plenty of time to explore the amazing food markets of Turkey. ¬†We had lunch right near the famous spice market and had the most amazing Lamb Kaftas that varied from the traditional preparation at most spots around the world. ¬†I have since tried to recreated the recipe for many BBQs at LPB.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds of ground lamb
  • 4 garlics cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • Optional: ¬†2 cups of crumbled feta cheese (I always choose this option)
  • 2 tablespoons of¬†Chimichurri Rub
  • 1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs, soaked in 1/4 cup of whole milk
  • 1 small red onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 3 extra large eggs, whisked together
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon of ground allspice
  • 1/2 tablespoon of red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon fo cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper

Making It

Mix all of the ingredients together with your hands, do not compress the meat. ¬†Wrap the meat around a bamboo skewers that you have soaked in water for at least 30 minutes creating a ‘meat stick.’

Grill on high for 3 minutes or so, each side.

Serve with grilled pita bread and Tzatziki with Fresh Herbs

img_2627

I like an easy to make, pre-made dessert that sits in the fridge ready to be served.  This semisweet chocolate based treat has a toffee crunch to it with a Kahlua kick.

Serves 10

Ingredients

  • 1 12 oz of semi-sweet chocolate, chopped for melting
  • 6 tablespoons of unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
  • 6 eggs, separate the yokes
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar (this will increate the egg white tolerance¬† to warmth)
  • 1/2 cup of granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of light brown sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons of Kahlua
  • 1 cup chopped toffee or Heath bars
  • 1 teaspoon high quality bourbon (or regular) vanilla extract
  • Alcohol Infused Whipped Cream, made with Kahlua for topping

Making It

  • Put the chocolate and butter in a double boiler and melt over simmering water.¬† If you do not have a double boiler, put a metal strainer over a pot of water and place a heatproof bowl with the chocolate butter mix in it.¬† Stir smooth and remove from heat, let cool
  • Stir in the egg yokes and vanilla into the chocolate mix
  • Fit your mixer with the whisk and put in the eggs whites, beat on medium for 1 minute then add the sugar and whip until you have stiff peaks, carefully put in a bowl and rinse the mixer/ whisk attachment with cold water and dry
  • Fill the mixer with the cream and beat on minimum¬† light brown sugar, Kahlua and whip until firm
  • So take the bowl of chocolate mix, carefully fold in the egg whites, sprinkle the toffee and the fold in the whip cream.¬† Spoon into martini glasses and refrigerate for four hours
  • Top with¬†Alcohol Infused Whipped Cream¬†made with Kahlua

img_2583

 

 

 

img_2595

There are endless options for preparing and cooking steaks.   It can be a daunting task to figure it all out so you have a meal that fits the event.

A beef purest will tell you to just get a great cut, bring to room temperature, season and grill it.  Agreed.  However, I sometimes like to switch it up and add a punch.  When its a casual BBQ I always turn to Marinated Skirt Steak and for more formal dinners, I favor my own version of a the traditional Tuscan steak preperation.

The old school way is season (rosemary, thyme, garlic, olive oil and grille a big porterhouse steak, drizzle some olive oil. Then slice and and put it all back together around the bone and serve it on one platter. ¬†That’s great if you are having four people for dinner.¬† Since our dinners are usually ten to twenty people and we have one friend, Maureen, who detests her steak ūü•©¬†being sliced before serving,¬†we had to come to this solution:

Serves 10

Ingredients

  • 5 Rib Eye Steaks, without and cut 1 1/2 inches thick
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 sprigs of rosemary leaves
  • 9 sprigs of thymes leaves

Making It 

  • 24 hours in advance put the garlic, olive oil, rosemary and thyme a blender and process for 6-8 pulses
  • Place the marinade in two gallon size zip-lock bags and put the streaks in, let marinate overnight
  • Turn half your grill on high and grille the steak on the first side for 4-5 minutes and the when you turn over cook for an additional 4 minutes for medium rare, but the time varies as every grill is different

 


 

SOUS VIDE

If you are on the sous vide cult and do not feel like grilling, follow this:

Making It

  • 24 hours in advance put the garlic, olive oil, rosemary and thyme a blender and process for 6-8 pulses
  • Place the marinade in two gallon size zip-lock bags and put the streaks in, let marinate overnight
  • Bring steaks to room temperature
  • Sear the steaks for one minute each side and let cool and place in bag
  • Following cooking time instruction on your souse vide app
  • When finished cooking, sear one more time, season as appropriate and serve

img_2565We host a lot of work lunches in Washington at The Hill House and often times the events will have either journalists or public policy folks at the table.  These folks have a tight schedule, want to eat a lite meal, then scoot out the door. This is our answer.

We have taken our Dill Buttermilk Salad and added Grilled Lemon Chicken Breasts.  If you want to have a treat for those not looking for too lite of a dish add the Cheddar & Gruyere Toasts to the plate.

Marinate and Grill the Chicken 

  • 6 skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 lemons, juiced, with the lemons then cut into fourths
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup dry white whine
  • 2 tablespoons of dijon mustard
  • 4 rosemary sprigs, leaves removed and rough chopped
  • 12 thyme sprigs
  • 6 garlic cloves, rough chopped
  • Kosher salt and fretting ground pepper to taste

Making It

  • Put all the ingredients in a bowl, whisk together and then add the chicken a let marinate in the refrigerator for 3 hours
  • Put grill on high and cook the breasts 6 minutes on one side and 4 on the other. ¬†Put on a baking sheet, cover with aluminum foil and let rest for 20 minutes
  • Slice and serve

Make the Salad & Dressing

  • 2 heads of iceberg lettuce, cut into 1 1/2 inch slices
  • 1 container cherry or small tomatoes, cut in half, toss with olive oil and a tablespoon of chopped dill
  • 2 cups of Panko breadcrumbs that have been toasted on a dry pan over medium high heat
  • 1/3 cup fresh dill, rough chopped

For the Dressing:

  • 2¬†garlic cloves
  • 6¬†scallions, white and green parts minced
  • 1/4 cup dill, stems removed
  • 6 basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3¬†tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of sherry vinegar
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • Kosher salt and black pepper to taste

Making the dressing first

  • Fit your food processor with the steel blade and add garlic and mince. ¬†Then add the scallions, basil and dill and pulse until finely chopped
  • Add the lemon juice, Dijon, mayonnaise, olive oil, buttermilk, yogurt and seasonings. ¬†Pulse until fully blended and refrigerate for at least two hours

Assemble the Salad

  • Take the cold iceberg wedges and plate them

Make the Grilled Cheese Toasts

  • A large crusty loaf of bread from the bakery cut into 1/2 slices
  • 4 cups extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 cup Gruy√®re cheese, grated
  • 1/3 cup leeks, just the white part/ light green and finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons of chives, finely chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, smashed and finely chopped
  • 4-6 tablespoons (or to taste) prepared horseradish, drained
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • ¬†Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Making It

  • Turn your grill onto high and then grill both side of the bread until golden brown
  • Mix the cheeses, vegetables, horseradish and mayonnaise in a bowl
  • Heap the cheese mix on each grilled slice of bread and put on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil (makes cleaning easier) that has a wire rack on top. ¬†I do this so the cheese that drips off the bread and does not form a ‚Äėglobby‚Äô mess on the side of the toasts
  • Broil in the middle rack for 5-6 minutes until bubbly and spots of browning appear on top, serve after letting rest for 3-4 minutes
Why be discreet?
Why be discreet?

 

 

When it comes to grilling the easier the recipe the better the dish. Marinate a few powerful ingredients to compliment the main attraction and throw it on the grill.

Ingredients 

  • 6 skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 lemons, juiced, with the lemons then cut into fourths
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup dry white whine
  • 2 tablespoons of dijon mustard
  • 4 rosemary sprigs, leaves removed and rough chopped
  • 12 thyme sprigs
  • 6 garlic cloves, rough chopped
  • Kosher salt and fretting ground pepper to taste

Making It

  • Put all the ingredients in a bowl, whisk together and then add the chicken a let marinate in the refrigerator for 3 hours
  • Put grill on high and cook the breasts 6 minutes on one side and 4 on the other. ¬†Put on a baking sheet, cover with aluminum foil and let rest for 20 minutes
  • Slice and serveimg_2562

img_2511

Leon’s Oyster Shop in Charleston is a favorite spot for fried chicken, oysters and if you get there in person be sure to sample their amazing appetizers and side dishes. ¬†One of my favorite salads is a creamy dill buttermilk wedge salad which is the inspiration for this recipe.

Serves 8

The Salad 

  • 2 heads of iceberg lettuce, cut into 1 1/2 inch slices
  • 1 container cherry or small tomatoes, cut in half or whole if small
  • 2 cups of Panko breadcrumbs that have been toasted on a dry pan over medium high heat
  • 1/3 cup fresh dill, rough chopped

For the Dressing:

  • 2¬†garlic cloves
  • 6¬†scallions, white and green parts minced
  • 1/4 cup dill, stems removed
  • 6 basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3¬†tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup 0% fat, Greek yogurt
  • Kosher salt and black pepper to taste

img_2523

Making the dressing first

  • Fit your food processor with the steel blade and add garlic and mince. ¬†Then add the scallions, basil and dill and pulse until finely chopped
  • Add the lemon juice, Dijon, mayonnaise, olive oil, buttermilk, yogurt and seasonings. ¬†Pulse until fully blended and refrigerate for at least two hours.

Assemble the Salad

  • Take the cold iceberg wedges and put them on a large tray like fallen dominos, drizzle a liberal amount of dressing, then sprinkle lots of toasted bread crumbs, finish with the tomatoes and dill.

img_2521This is the big sister to¬†Cheddar & Gruyere Toasts¬†and very similar to the inspired dish from Freeman’s in New York City. ¬†The smaller toasts make for a great Hors D’oeuvre for a stand-up while this variation is better served while seated. ¬† You can also serve this with a salad for lunch.

Ingredients

  • A large crusty loaf of bread from the bakery cut into 1/2 slices
  • 4 cups extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 cup Gruy√®re cheese, grated
  • 1/3 cup leeks, just the white part/ light green and finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons of chives, finely chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, smashed and finely chopped
  • 4-6 tablespoons (or to taste) prepared horseradish, drained
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • Dijon mustard for brushing
  • ¬†Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Making It

  • Turn your grill onto high and then grill both side of the bread until golden brown
  • Mix the cheeses, vegetables, horseradish and mayonnaise in a bowl
  • Heap the cheese mix on each grilled slice of bread and put on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil (makes cleaning easier) that has a wire rack on top. ¬†I do this so the cheese that drips off the bread and does not form a ‘globby’ mess on the side of the toasts
  • Broil in the middle rack for 5-6 minutes until bubbly and spots of browning appear on top, serve after letting rest for 3-4 minutes

 

img_2616When you sit down for a meal in Lebanon they often bring out a massive bowl of fresh vegetables and the nicer the restaurant the larger the platter. ¬†It’s a great way to start a meal and the bowls of vibrantly collared seasonal vegetables makes for an impressive start to a luncheon or dinner party. ¬†I like to make a few (or more depending on the crowd) and place them throughout the table for people to pick at as the conversation starts to flow.

Ingredients 

  • Green Goddess Dressing for dipping. ¬†This should done roughly two hours in advance of using the dip.
  • Head of romaine lettuce, washed and remain in full leaf form
  • 1 red bell pepper,¬†seeded and sliced in 1/4 pieces
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and sliced in 1/4 pieces
  • 1 yellow zucchini, cut into 1/4 x 3 inch sticks
  • 1 green zucchini, cut into 1/4 x 3 inch sticks
  • 2 cups of whole sugar snap peas, blanched
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • 4-6 whole baby carrots with stem still on, peeled and blanched
  • Kosher salt

Making It

  • Wash all the vegetables and place in refrigerator to keep crips, this whole dish is about chilled freshness
  • Blanch the snap peas and carrots: ¬†boil a pot of water and fill a bowl with ice cubes and water. ¬†Put the carrots in using tongs holing onto the tops, keep in for a minute and put in ice. ¬†Do the same for the snap pease just remove them with a spider strainer
  • Place all the crisp and chilled vegetables in a bowl and lightly drizzle a little olive oil then salt them to taste
  • Arrange in a bowl and put the green goddess dressing in the center and serve