Ricotta Bruschetta with Roasted Tomatoes & Spicy Honey

This slightly spicy appetizer could also serve as a light lunch with a chilled pinot blanc. Go easy on the calabrian chili paste, it’s strong and hot but balanced beautifully with the honey. Make sure the ricotta is at room temperature, as it’s easier to whisk in the oil. Depending on the size of the cherry tomatoes (and your bread slices), each slice of ciabatta holds about 6 to 7. Serves 6.



1 c. ricotta, at room temperature
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 c. olive oil
6 thick slices of ciabatta
6 fresh basil leaves

42 cherry tomatoes
4 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
2 sprigs fresh basil, torn
2-3 T. olive oil
1/4 tsp. kosher salt

Spicy Honey:
1/2 c. honey
1-1/2 tsp. Calabrian chili paste
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
2 T. water

To Toast the Ciabatta: Heat oven to 400-degrees. Put the ciabatta slices on a sheet pan and roast for 10-12 minutes until lightly browned – keep a close eye on them so they don’t burn (which can happen quickly!). When they come out of the oven, rub a cut clove of garlic over each piece, and then brush some olive oil on both sides. Set aside.

For the Tomatoes: These also go into a 400-degree oven. Spread the tomatoes, garlic, basil, olive oil, and salt on a small rimmed baking sheet and toss well to coat. Roast until they have popped, about 20 minutes. Allow to cool slightly.

For the Spicy Honey: Combine the honey, Calabrian chili paste, salt and 2 T. water in a small nonstick skillet. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, then let simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat to cool completely.

For the Bruschetta: Whisk together the ricotta, salt and 2 T. olive oil in a bowl. Spread the ricotta on the ciabatta slices. Add 7 tomatoes each and drizzle with the spicy honey. Top with the basil sprig (you could also chop the basil and scatter over the top).

— Giada de Laurentiis, Food Network

Roman-Style Chopped Chicken Liver

If you like chicken livers, you'll love this recipe from Chef Vitaly Paley (Portland, Ore.). Most chicken liver mousse or pate recipes contains up to half a pound of butter! This is a nice alternative and packed with flavor. Serve with toasted baguette, grilled flatbread, crackers, or as a sandwich spread with sliced red onion and cornichons.



1/4 c. olive oil
1/2 lb. chicken livers, cleaned, dried and lobes halved
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large shallot, finely minced
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 anchovy fillets, drained and chopped (or 1 tsp. anchovy paste)
5 large fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
2 T. drained capers
1/4 c. Madeira (or port, or cream sherry)
2 T. balsamic vinegar
2 T. Cognac (or brandy)
1 hard boiled egg, peeled and coarsely grated

In a large skillet heat the olive oil over medium heat until it shimmers. Add the livers, season with salt and pepper, and sear until lightly colored on the bottom, about 1 minute. Turn the livers over; add the shallot, garlic, anchovies, sage and capers. Cook, stirring until the shallots have softened, about 3 minutes. Pour in the sherry and balsamic vinegar, turn heat down to medium-low and simmer for 1-2 minutes. Transfer mixture to a food processor. Add the cognac and pulse until coarsely chopped.

Transfer the mixture to a small bowl, fold in the grated egg and season with salt and pepper. Let it come to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate until cold. Can be made up to one day in advance. Makes 1-1/2 cups.

– Vitaly Paley, "The Paley's Place Cookbook"

NY Steak with Parsnip Puree

What a fantastic New Year's dinner — a better than restaurant New York steak with a velvety parsnip puree! Fabulous for any special occasion. The steak is drizzled with worcestershire, patted down with an amazing spice mixture, seared in a cast iron pan and finished off in the oven … and that parsnip puree — a pure creamy, rich delight — you won't be disappointed! Serve with a simple caesar salad. Amounts are for two hungry diners.


New York Strip Steak

Add worcestershire and seasoning to both sides and let rest for 30 minutes.

Add worcestershire and seasoning to both sides and let rest for 30 minutes.

(2) 1-1/2" thick cuts New York steak, fat trimmed
1 T. worcestershire sauce
1-2 T. Montreal Steak Seasoning (see below)
2 T. butter
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 T. olive oil

Montreal Steak Seasoning:
1-1/2 T. dehydrated garlic
2 T. coarsely ground coriander seeds
1 T. coarse kosher salt
2 T. dill weed
2 T. paprika
1-1/2 T. ground red pepper flakes
2 T. freshly ground black pepper
1 T. fennel seeds
Crush the coriander, red pepper flakes, and fennel seeds in a mortar and pestle until coarse. Put all the ingredients in a jar and shake. Store in a cool, dark place.

Preheat oven to 400-degrees. Pat the steaks dry. Add half a tablespoon of worcestershire to one side, then half a tablespoon of the seasoning and press down. Turn the steak over and repeat on second side. Allow to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Place a cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Drizzle the olive oil on each side of the steaks. When the pan is hot add the steaks and sear on one side for 4 minutes. Take the pan off the heat, turn the steaks over, and add a sprig of thyme and 1 T. butter to the top of each steak. Immediately put the pan into the oven. Cook 10 minutes for medium (5-8 min. for medium rare). Remove from oven and put steak on a plate to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Parsnip Puree

Add enough cream to just cover parsnips.

Add enough cream to just cover parsnips.

1 lb. parsnips, peeled and sliced
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 c. half 'n half
4 cloves garlic, peeled and gently smashed
2 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf torn in half
4 T. butter
olive oil
parsley, chopped (for garnish)

Put sliced parsnips in a saucepan, season with salt and cover with the half 'n half. Stir in the garlic, bay leaf and thyme and bring to medium heat. Simmer for about 12-15 minutes until soft.

Using a spoon, transfer the parsnips to a food processor. Add the butter and pour in enough of the milk mixture to achieve a creamy puree (the texture of whipped cream). Check the seasoning and add more salt and pepper if needed. Sprinkle with chopped parsley. (Recipe adapted from Tyler Florence, Food Network.)



Panko Crusted Salmon with Warm Lentil Salad

Today's posting includes two delicious recipes from Ina Garten — Panko Crusted Salmon and Warm Lentil Salad. They go so well together that I can't resist including both! The salmon dish is quick and easy but loaded with flavor, and the same goes for the lentil salad. Use the French green Le Puy lentils if you can find them, it's worth it. The salmon can be made a few hours ahead, just get them ready and refrigerate. The lentils can be served warm or at room temperature and make great leftovers.


Panko Crusted Salmon Recipe

Ready for the oven

Ready for the oven

For two servings:
1/3 c. panko
1 T. minced fresh parsley
1 tsp. grated lemon zest
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 T. olive oil
(2) 6 to 8 ounce salmon fillets, skin on
1 T. Dijon mustard
1 T. vegetable oil
Lemon wedges

Preheat the oven to 425-degrees.

In a small bowl mix the panko, parsley, lemon zest, 1/4 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper. Add the olive oil and stir until the crumbs are evenly coated. Set aside. Salt and pepper the top of the salmon fillets, then generously brush with mustard. Press the panko mixture thickly on top of the mustard (it helps the panko adhere). Heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a cast iron skillet. When the oil is very hot, add the salmon fillets, skin side down, and sear for 4 minutes, without turning, to brown the skin. Transfer the pan to the hot oven for 7 minutes until the salmon is cooked and the panko is browned. Remove from the oven, cover with foil, and let it rest for 5 minutes. Serve the salmon hot or at room temperature with lemon wedges.

Warm Lentil Salad

2 T. + 1/4 c. olive oil
1 leek, white and light green parts, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 tsp. garlic, minced
1 c. French green Le Puy lentils
1 small to medium onion, peeled and stuck with 6 whole cloves
1/2 of a large white turnip, peeled
1 tsp. butter
heaping tablespoon of Dijon mustard
2 T. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Heat 2 T. olive oil in a medium sauce pan, add the leek and carrots, and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute, take off the heat and set aside.

In a large saucepan add the lentils, 4 cups of water, the onion studded with cloves, and the turnip and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 20-25 minutes (you want the lentils al dente, not mushy). Remove the turnip and onion (take out the cloves and discard) and drain the lentils. Put the lentils in the sauce pan with the leek and carrots and add the butter. Stir well. When cool enough to handle, chop the onion and turnip and add to the lentil mixture.

In a small bowl add the mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper and whisk until incorporated. Add the olive oil and whisk again. Add to the lentils, stir well, and allow to cool until just warm. Before serving taste and add salt and/or pepper, if needed.

– Ina Garten, Food Network

Roasted Cauliflower, Sausage & Green Olives

This is a simple but flavorful dish that you'll enjoy again and again. It's definitely going in my weekly menu rotation. Serve alone, on rice, or with a tasty gazpacho or other first course soup. Based on Chef Yotam Ottolenghi's recipe, I highly recommend his cookbooks, and check out his recipes at The Guardian (they also have an app). Well worth it. The guy is a creative genius and works magic with vegetables.


1 large head of cauliflower, broken into bite-size florets
6 oz. Field Roast Mexican Chipotle Vegan Sausages (2 links), cut in chunks
1 large red onion, cut in wedges
1/4 c. pitted green olives, cut in half
2 cloves garlic, peeled, smashed and cut in quarters
2 T. pumpkin seeds
2 tsp. sweet smoked paprika
3 T. olive oil
1-1/2 tsp. salt
freshly ground pepper to taste
3 T. chopped fresh parsley (for garnish)

Preheat oven to 425-degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Put all ingredients, except parsley, in a large bowl and mix thoroughly. Pour the ingredients onto the baking sheet and spread out to one layer. Roast for 30 minutes, stirring ingredients after about 15 minutes, until cauliflower is softened and getting some color. Remove from oven, let cool for about 10-15 minutes. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve.

– based on recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi

Eggs Jeanette

A nice (and very simple) first course or light supper for Easter. Serve with chilled pinot grigio and fresh, warm French bread. This is a recipe that Jacques' mother used to make when he was a child.


6 hard cooked eggs, peeled
1 to 2 T. milk
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 T. fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1-1/2 T. peanut oil

2 T. reserved egg yolk mixture from above
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 tsp. red wine vinegar
1 T. water
pinch of salt
pinch of freshly ground black pepper
1/4 c. grapeseed oil (or olive oil)

Cut the eggs in half, remove yolks and mash with a fork, or put through a food mill. Chop the garlic with the parsley and mix in with the yolks, then add the milk, garlic, salt and pepper – mixture should be moist and hold together. Stuff the whites with the yolk mixture, reserving about 2 T. for the dressing. Don't pile the filling too high, level off before frying so they sit flat in the skillet.

Heat the oil in a non-stick skillet. When the oil is hot add the egg halves, stuffed side down, and fry over medium heat for 2 minutes until browned (do not cook the white side!).

Make the dressing by adding all of the ingredients (except the oil) in a food processor. With the machine running, slowly pour in the oil and mix until well incorporated. Pour the dressing on a flat plate and arrange the eggs on top.

– Jacques Pépin, "Essential Pépin"