Absurdly addictive asparagus

This recipe combines so many of my favorite flavors and is going to be a firm favorite. Such a heady combination of leeks, pancetta, orange zest, pine nuts and parsley added to the asparagus is without doubt the best asparagus recipe I’ve encountered.

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Serves 4

4 oz pancetta, cut into 3/8 inch to 1/4 inch dice
1 tbsp butter
1 lb asparagus, woody ends trimmed and sliced into 2 inch pieces on the bias
1 1/4 cups leek, thinly sliced crosswise (white and pale green parts only)
2 cloves garlic, minced
Zest of one lemon
1 teaspoon orange zest
2 tbsp toasted pine nuts
1-2 tbsp Italian parsley, chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

In a large non-stick pan, sauté the pancetta, stirring frequently, over medium heat, until crisp and lightly golden.
Add 1 tbsp of butter to pan. Add the asparagus pieces and leeks and sauté until the asparagus is tender crisp, about 3-4 minutes.
Add the garlic, lemon and orange zest, toasted pine nuts and parsley and sauté for about 1 minute, until fragrant.
Season to taste with freshly ground pepper and salt and serve immediately.


Smoked oyster and bacon stuffing

I couldn’t resist this recipe and will definitely be making it for one of the Holiday meals this year. You’ll need about 4 cups of unbaked stuffing for a 12-pound bird if you’re stuffing the bird, but personally, I like to roast the stuffing separately.

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Serves 8
1 loaf crusty white bread, cut into 3/4-inch pieces (8 cups)
3 tbsp unsalted butter, plus more for the baking dish
1 medium yellow onion, diced medium
2 large celery stalks, diced medium
4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 cup packed drained smoked oysters (from three 3-ounce cans)
1 cup crumbled cooked bacon (from about 8 slices)
2 tbsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 tbsp sherry vinegar
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh parsley leaves
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 cups chicken broth

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
On two rimmed baking sheets, arrange the bread in a single layer. Toast until dry and pale golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool.

Meanwhile, lightly butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.
In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion and celery are softened, about 7 minutes. Add the oysters, bacon, thyme, and vinegar and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Transfer to a large bowl and season with salt and pepper.

Add the parsley, eggs and bread; stir to combine. Add the broth in two additions, stirring until absorbed after each addition. Season generously with salt and pepper and transfer stuffing to dish. Bake on middle rack until deep golden brown on top, 25 to 30 minutes. Let sit 5 minutes before serving.

** Tip.
Toast the bread up to 2 days ahead and store in airtight containers or zip-lock bags.

A stunning black truffle sauce

I had to include this spectacular sauce recipe as you can use it with fish, shellfish, meat, pasta, you name it!   To die for! Granted, it’s weird photograph, but it is the actual sauce and nothing else!

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Makes about 2 cups

1 leek (white and pale green parts only), finely chopped
1 3/4 cups finely chopped shallot (10 ounces)
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 cups dry white wine
2 large fresh thyme sprigs
1 1/4 ounces preserved black truffles (preferably winter truffles), finely chopped
4 cups chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth
4 cups heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon black or white truffle oil, or to taste

Wash the chopped leek in a bowl of cold water, then lift out and drain (do not pat dry). Steam the leek, shallot, and garlic (in any water clinging to leeks) in a 4-quart heavy saucepan, covered, over low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 6 minutes. Add the wine, thyme, and truffles and boil, uncovered, until most of liquid is evaporated, about 12 minutes.

Add the stock and boil until reduced to about 2 cups, about 25 minutes. Stir in the cream and simmer, stirring occasionally, until reduced to about 2 & 3/4 cups, about 40 minutes. Pour mixture through a fine sieve into another saucepan, pressing on and discarding solids. Whisk in truffle oil and season with salt and pepper.

A beautiful caper vinaigrette to serve with fish

This is worth posting on it’s own as it is absolutely delicious on a salad or drizzled over a piece of hot salmon or halibut. It also keeps for a long time in the fridge

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2 egg yolks
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp minced garlic
2 tsp Champagne vinegar
1/2 cup blended oil (1 part olive oil to 3 parts canola oil, mixed together)
2 tbsp capers, drained
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
1 tsp chopped fresh tarragon
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
2 tsp chopped fresh Italian parsley
salt and pepper

In a food processor or in a blender, combine the egg yolks, lemon juice, garlic and vinegar.
Slowly whisk in the oil. Remove from the blender into a bowl and fold in the capers, mustard and herbs.
Season with salt and pepper.
Drizzle over your seared piece of fish or a salad

Blue cheese potato chips

You will not be able to resist these from the “Food 52” website.

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Serves 4 to 6

1 cup blue cheese, crumbled
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup milk
1 bag sturdy potato chips, like Kettel Chips or Cape Cod
Chives,chopped finely to sprinkle over as you are serving
Black pepper

Turn your oven on to Broil.
Heat cream, milk, and blue cheese in a saucepan over low heat until the blue cheese just dissolves.
Spread the potato chips out on a lipped sheet pan — line it with a sheet of parchment paper or a silpat to help with cleanup later.
Pour the cheese mixture over the potato chips, sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper and broil in the oven until the sauce is bubbly and bronzed in parts. Sprinkle with the chopped chives,
Serve alongside napkins

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Dark chocolate and coconut truffles

As you have probably gathered by now, coconut is one of my most favorite ingredients. This is a recipe from several years ago from a food magazine that I resurrected and am so glad I did.

The higher the percentage of cocoa in the chocolate, the better for you it is. Go between 72% and 85%. Any higher than that is just way too bitter.

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This recipe yields 12 truffles.

1/2 cup of unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup lite coconut milk
3 1/2 tbsp Truvia Natural Sweetener or other natural sweetener
Dark Chocolate (72 % or higher)

In a bowl blend the coconut oil, lite coconut milk and Truvia with a hand mixer. Next, add the shredded coconut and mix well. Roll mix into 1” balls, set on waxed or parchment paper and place in fridge until they are firm. In the meantime, melt the dark chocolate very gently in a double boiler or in a bowl sitting over (but not touching) simmering water, stirring continuously.

Next, dip the coconut balls in the melted chocolate, coat well and place back on the waxed paper. I use either a fork or toothpick to dip.

You may also add some of the shredded coconut on the truffles before the chocolate hardens. Place the truffles in the refrigerator, they will taste better when eaten cold.

Crispy roasted kale

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This is the only way I really like kale, as it’s so crispy and crackly. It’s actually quite addictive, with the fleur de sel sprinkled over it while it’s hot.  This is an Ina Garten recipe.

2 bunches curly kale (about 2 1/2 lbs)
1/4 cup good olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Fleur de sel

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Arrange 3 oven racks evenly spaced in the oven.
Lay each kale leaf on a board and with a small sharp knife, cut out the hard stem. Tear the large leaves in half. Place the kale in a large bowl of water and wash it well.
Drain the kale and dry it in a salad spinner. Dry the bowl and put the kale back in the bowl.

Toss the kale with the olive oil,1 tsp Kosher salt and 1/2 tsp pepper. Divide the kale among 3 sheet pans or roast them in batches.
If you put too much kale on one pan, it will steam rather than roast and will never get crisp.
Roast for 15 minutes, until crisp then sprinkle with fleur de sel and serve hot.