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Food for Thought: Chayote and Hearts of Palm Salad

July 28, 2010 Leave a comment

Hearts of Palm: mysterious and delicious.

If you work at a trendy wine shop in the East Village, you are bound to brush shoulders with some of the movers and shakers of the city and beyond. Matt Dillon once graced the store and proceeded to lick cheese off my coworker’s knife while his girlfriend strolled around the store looking for something “with a lot of fruit and some kick to it.” One of the more interesting and fulfilling encounters I’ve had at the shop has been with Food Network chef Aaron Sanchez. Restaurant owner, author, consultant and co-star of Food Network’s popular, Chefs vs. City, Chef Sanchez is one of the leading contemporary Latin Chefs in NYC and a regular shopper at Alphabet City Wine Company. We began talking about food and I eventually asked him to give me some simple, yet refined, recipes to impress and make one’s heart happy. He got back to me last week with three recipes. All of them, fittingly, use ingredients indigenous to Latin America.

Chayote

The first one I will share is Chayote and Hearts of Palm Salad. You might be asking yourself (as I did), “what the heck is a chayote?” Chayote is a tropical trailing vine which produces fruits. Although, it is treated more like a vegetable than a fruit; think of it as the summer squash from Latin America. Also known as Mexican Squash, vegetable pears, and Christophine – among other names – chayote can be enjoyed both cooked and raw. When lightly cooked it retains a nice crispiness; while raw chayote is usually added to salads or salsas. For this particular recipe the chayote is lightly cooked and then added into a salad. Enjoy!

Chayote and Hearts of Palm Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 garlic clove
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped white onion
  • 2 pound chayotes (also called mirlitons; 4 medium)
  • 2 (14 to 15 – ounce cans hearts of palm, not salad-cut), rinsed well and drained
  • 2 large celery ribs, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves

Print a shopping list for this recipe

Preparation:

Mince garlic and mash to a paste with 1/2 teaspoon salt using side of a large heavy knife. Whisk together lime juice, oil, and garlic paste in a large bowl, then add onion, tossing to coat.

Halve chayotes lengthwise, then peel with a vegetable peeler and scoop out pits with a spoon. Cut chayotes crosswise into 1/3-inch-thick slices then halve slices lengthwise to make 1/3-inch-thick sticks (sticks will not be uniform). Cook chayotes in a 4 to 6-quart pot of boiling salted water until crisp/tender. It should be about 6 minutes. Drain well in a colander, then, while still hot, toss with dressing. Cool to room temperature.

Cut hearts of palm diagonally into 1/4-inch-thick slices, then add to chayote mixture along with celery, parsley, cilantro and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Gently toss.

Enjoy!

Cocktailfodder.com

July 22, 2010 Leave a comment

cocktailfodder.com!!!

We are now at cocktailfodder.com! That’s right, we made the jump.

That is all.

Summer heat calls for a light dish: pesto shrimp pasta with a side of spinach sprinkled with gorgonzola

June 30, 2010 2 comments

Pesto Shrimp Pasta with Spinach

The summer heat is currently oppressive. Some of the tell-tale signs: commuting to work and having your shirt gingerly wet upon arrival, walking lethargically in the streets hoping to see an open fire hydrant to frolic in and desperately waiting to hear the familiar sound of the ice cream truck (NSFW!) so you can grab a soft serve. This type of weather calls for the shoestring chef to offer something light and easy to beat back the heat. Here’s your solution: pesto shrimp pasta with a side of spinach sprinkled with gorgonzola. How does that sound to you?

Pasta is cheap and simple to make, pesto simply makes everything taste better (does anyone disagree?), and shrimp offers us great low calorie protein with solid levels of Omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin B12, and essential minerals (iron, zinc, copper).  Most importantly, a glass of Grüner Veltliner, which I delve into in today’s “Wine for Thought” post, would pair splendidly with this dish.

Ingredients:

1/2 pound Penne pasta, dry

12 medium-size precooked, peeled shrimp

2 tsp olive oil

1 tbsp butter

1 clove garlic

1 cup spinach

1 tomato chopped

1 ½ tbsp pesto

2 tbsp crumbled Gorgonzola cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Start by boiling the pasta. Put the olive oil in a skillet pan over medium heat and add the shrimp for no more than a minute or two until they are warm. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper and place in a bowl to the side. Heat the butter on a skillet and add the garlic until lightly sautéed. Add the spinach and cook on low heat until the spinach is nice and tender. While the spinach is cooking, take the finished pasta and drain it. Add the pesto into the pasta making sure it’s well mixed together. Sprinkle the gorgonzola cheese over the spinach once done. Plate with the pesto penne. There you have it. Cheap. Quick. Easy. Summery.

Regarding wine choices, other than our suggested Grüner, the penne pasta with pesto will pair well with a nice un-oaked Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio. If you are feeling adventurous and want to chill a red wine for this meal go with a chilled Gamay Noir. Bon appétit!

Martha Stewart we are not: chicken roll-ups from New Hampshire

June 23, 2010 4 comments

Chicken roll-up. Hearty and within the budget.

Simple recipe #1: Chicken Roll ups

Our first shoestring recipe comes from my friend Allison from New Hampshire. I had the pleasure of having this dish served to me by her mother last summer and made sure to get the recipe soon afterwards. NH Chicken roll-ups is a hearty dish that will have you coming back for seconds. Live free or die.

Ingredients (for 1):

–       1 chicken breast

–       1 packet of frozen spinach

–       Paprika

–       Onion powder

–       Oregano

–       Garlic powder

–       1 can of tomato sauce

–       Muenster cheese

–       Spaghetti

Directions:

Take the chicken breast and place it on a cutting board with wax paper over it. Use the flat side of a meat cleaver to pound the chicken breast thinner. While you cleave the chicken breast, cook the frozen spinach by placing it in water to heat it up. Take the chicken breast and season it with paprika, oregano, onion powder, and garlic powder (1/2 to 1 tsp of each, depending on taste). Once done, take the spinach and roll it around the chicken breast. Place the rolled up chicken in an oven-safe bowl or casserole dish and pour a can of tomato sauce in the bowl/dish. Place one or two pieces of Muenster cheese on top and sprinkle more paprika and oregano. Set the oven at 350 degrees and cook the chicken for an hour. Check periodically and once done serve with spaghetti.

* NPR or classical music should accompany you while you cook. Also, wine should be imbibed at all times whenever you are cooking.  I suggest a crisp Sauvignon Blanc to warm the palate.

* The picture above is not an accurate representation of the dish but is rather to give you an idea of what chicken with spinach would look like if based solely on color schemes. (Minus the red of the tomato sauce.) Actual photos of dishes will be included in the following recipe posts. We’re new to all of this!

Enjoy!