Phyllo Tomato Goat Cheese Tart

As the summer’s bounty of great, fresh tomatoes slows down, you need to squeeze in as many great tomato recipes as you can before its back to canned tomatoes. This dish is a great summery dinner/starter when you have something akin to a pizza craving that’s a bit lighter and different from the norm. So rather than bothering with a full on pizza dough and tomato sauce, instead, give a Phyllo Tomato Goat Cheese Tart a try.

Instead of pizza dough, I used a base composed of several sheets of phyllo dough for something crisp and crunchy rather than doughy. Then, instead of a tomato sauce, I chose to enjoy those sweet, bite-sized campari tomatoes, sliced thin and layered all over the tart. Underneath it all is a mushroom duxelle, basil, thyme, and goat cheese crumbles, which all together, was light, fresh, and very tasty. The flavors blended quite nicely–you get the earthiness of the mushrooms, the sweet of… click to read more…

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Salt Encrusted Yellowtail Snapper

I’m never too excited about baking fish–fish in the oven usually means a smelly kitchen in my mind. Then there’s this concept of salt crusting fish. Maybe you’ve heard of it before–you start with a whole fish, cover it all over with a thick layer of salt (yes, its a lot of salt), and bake it. The way it works is the salt forms a hard crust while the fish cooks inside (stuffed with various aromatics), retaining a tremendous deal of moisture and yielding incredibly tender, delicious fish that quite simply highlights the inherent flavors of great fresh fish. I thought I’d give this a shot and made Salt Encrusted Yellowtail Snapper.

Now you might have gathered from my tone that I approached this dish with a bit of skepticism and hesitation. If you’ve never had it, reviewing the ingredient list certainly doesn’t suggest anything super exciting–if anything, it almost sounds bland and boring. Not to mention this tremendous… click to read more…

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Pappa al Pomodoro (Tuscan Tomato Bread-based Soup)

When I got married, my wife I honeymooned in Italy, taking a slow, meandering trip through Venice, Florence, Siena, and Rome. Every aspect of that trip was a dream, and the food was no exception. One very friendly restauranteur in Florence insisted that we absolutely had to try his soup before we ordered dinner, telling us it was a traditional, Tuscan tomato and bread soup, called Pappa al Pomodoro.

My wife and I, at a loss for what to try, decided to try his recommendation, and soon enough two intricately decorated bowls were brought before us with a hearty portion of this thick, chunky, most amazing smelling soup. In the blink of an eye, we both emptied our bowls and licked them clean. Needless to say, the restauranteur was smiling ear to ear. We stopped back at the same restaurant for another bowl the next day, and I’ve done my best to recreate it here after some of… click to read more…

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Pan Fried Grouper with Roasted Garlic Cream Sauce

My ongoing quest to more regularly eat fish continues, but like with anything, some times, you just have a craving for simple, strongly flavored dish, so this dinner was such a quickie. I was in the mood for something garlicky, so I decided to make a cream sauce that focuses on roasted garlic and poured it over breaded, pan-fried grouper.

Like chicken parmesan, this is simple and delicious. The fish has a nice, crisp, tasty crust with a tender, flaky inside. The sauce, despite its modest appearance, has a creamy, round, full flavor that just explodes with that delicious, nutty, roasted garlic flavor. Unfortunately, your breath won’t help you make any friends in the short-term, but everyone should go on a garlic bender once in a while, right?

  • 1.25 lb red grouper
  • Sauce
    • olive oil
    • 1 head of garlic
    • 1 small shallot

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Veal Shoulder Steak with Port Fennel Mushroom Sauce

Like most braises, this isn’t quite hot-summer-day food, but if you can’t wait til winter (and given the seasons for one of the key ingredients, winter isn’t possible), this is a good dish for a gloomy, rainy day when you want something hearty to warm you up from the inside out. First, a fennel bulb (a fun vegetable to work with) is caramelized and braised with mushrooms to make a delicious side dish and leave a strongly flavored broth behind which, combined with a bit of Port, is used for braising a veal shoulder steak.

This is something of an ugly duckling. If you tell me that photo looks beautiful, I’d say you’re being polite (but I would also serve you dinner…see how much you get if you tell me what you really think of that photo! 😉 ). But that’s just fine as we all know… click to read more…

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Lamb Chops with Blueberry Sauce

If you’re a regular reader, you may have noticed my quiet love for blueberries (unlike my less quiet love for strawberries), and so I thought it would be nice to enjoy them in a savory dish rather than the sweets I usually flock to. In my mind, two proteins go beautifully with fruit: pork and lamb. Based on the randomness of my cravings, lamb it was, and so for this dish, we have Lamb Chops with a Blueberry Sauce.

If you’ve never had a savory application of blueberries like this, you might make a face at the thought of this, but I promise, this is a surprisingly great match. Aside from lamb chops being delicious, the dish as a whole was gamey and rich, the sauce tannic, full-bodied, dark,… click to read more…

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