Meal Train to Georgia

There are a few things I find myself saying often these days. Among them are, “Hi sweets, still married?” “My pants are tight.” “No, please don’t set me up with him, I already made out with him.” And, “My friend just had a baby.” Concentrating on the last one, my friends and I put together meal trains for the new parents, as infants can apparently be overwhelming. It was my turn to make dinner for one couple and their 5 week old Georgia* on Monday and I went with shrimp tacos.

Shrimp Tacos

serves 4-6
Shrimp:
Ingredients:
1 lb shrimp, peeled and cleaned
½ onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
½ jalapeno, chopped
2 scallions, chopped
2 T ginger, chopped
½ head red cabbage, chopped
½ pineapple, chopped
1 mango, chopped
1 tomato, chopped and salted
2 bananas, sliced
1 T olive oil
Procedure:
Heat the olive oil in a pan on med high. Add the onions, garlic, scallions, and jalapeno, and saute until translucent. (2-3 min.) Add the cabbage, mango, tomato, and bananas, and cook through, stirring, until the cabbage is wilted, about 5 min. Add the shrimp and ginger and cook for another 5 min, stirring, until shrimp are just cooked through but not over cooked. Remove from heat.

Beans:
Ingredients:
1 can fat free refried pinto beans
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 T olive oil
½ c jack cheese, shredded
Procedure:
Heat the beans in a small sauce pan over low heat. While they are heating up, saute the garlic in the olive oil in a pan on med high heat over a different burner for about a minute or until the garlic is starting to lightly brown. Add the olive oil and garlic to the beans and stir through. Add the cheese to the beans and stir through. Remove from heat.

Guacamole:
Ingredients:
2 avocados, diced
2 heirloom tomatoes, chopped and salted
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
½ lime, juiced
2 scallions, finely chopped
½ jalapeno, finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste
Procedure:
Place the tomatoes in a bowl. Add the garlic, scallions, and jalapenos, and mix. Add the avocado and lime juice and mix. Season to taste.
Assembly:
Warm some flour tortillas. Spread some of the beans on one half. Fill with some of the shrimp. Top with guacamole. Fold and enjoy!

*names have been changed for privacy

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Super Bowl Meal – Packers vs. Steelers

O.K. The big day is near!
I’m packing up and heading to Dallas for a relaxing getaway to visit my Texas cousins. And maybe for some sports thing… And snow angels.
Here’s what’s on the menu for the SU PA BO!!!!!

B.J. Rahi Tuna Sliders with Wasabi Chris Creamoeatu
The “Big Guy” Dish!

Chris Kemoeatu - G PIT

B.J. Raji - NT GB

Hot Chicken Greg Jennwings Balls with Cool Mike Cabrallace Blue Cheese Dressing
The “Go Long” Dish!

Mike Wallace - WR PIT

Greg Jennings - WR GB

Figgy Hood Bruschetta
Well now I know what school yard nicknames my future son has to look forward to. All good. Ziggy Zucker is going to be a bad-ass.

Ziggy Hood - DE PIT

RaChardonnay Mendenhall Poached Peaaron Rodgers
I know, I know, my east coast friends are screaming and twitching. See, back in New York we give vowels distinct pronunciations. Aaron nor Erin rhyme with Pear-in where I come from. But I’m doing it! The Pearon Rogers is on the menu! Raise your hand in the “air” if you “care” what rhymes with “pear.”

Aaron Rodgers - QB GB

Rashard Mendenhall - RB PIT

LaMarrgarita Woodley
I’m making it as woody as possible.

LaMarr Woodley - OLB PIT

B.J. Rahi Tuna Sliders with Wasabi Chris Creamoeatu

Serves 4-6
Tuna Balls
Ingredients:
1 lb ahi tuna, ground or finely chopped
¼ t lemon zest
¼ t lime zest
¼ t blood orange zest
1 T lemon juice
1 T lime juice
1 T blood orange juice
¼ c scallions, finely chopped
1 T ginger, finely chopped
1 T black sesame seeds
1 T toasted sesame oil
1 t chili sesame oil
1 t chili paste
1 T panko breadcrumbs
salt
pepper
olive oil

Procedure:
Combine the tuna, citrus juices and zests, scallions, ginger, sesame seeds and oil, chili paste and oil, panko, salt and pepper in a bowl. Mix well, using your hands or a fork.

Heat some olive oil in a pan on medium high. Scoop out a small handful of the tuna mixture and form it into a mini burger patty shape. Cook the patties in the oil for a minute on each side. Flip to cook the other side.

After another minute, transfer the patties to a paper towel lined plate to drain and cool. They should just be cooked through.

Wasabi Cream
Ingredients:
½ c mayonnaise
½ c plain yogurt, greek style
1 T wasabi paste
½ lime, juiced
1 t garlic, chopped
1 avocado
salt

Procedure:
In a blender, combine the mayonnaise and the yogurt until smooth. Add the wasabi, lime juice, salt, and garlic. Blend until smooth. Add the meat of the avocado, cut into small chunks. Blend until smooth, scraping down the sides of the blender in between pulses to incorporate everything.

Now I’m still working to lose those damn 10 pounds from last year. (Who knew the 10 in 2010 was going to be so prophetic?) So I’m still limiting my carbs. You can go ahead and shmear some of the wasabi cream onto a mini dinner roll and sandwich a tuna burger in there to make a slider, but I’m just going to dip and eat. I don’t miss the bun, really. (though I clearly missed my weekly manicure…)

Hot Chicken Greg Jennwings Balls with Cool Mike Cabrallace Blue Cheese Dressing

Serves 4-6
I admit it. I’m not a huge chicken person. Telling me something “tastes like chicken” is not a hard sell. Sure, I’ll eat it, and there are certain places where I’ll always order it (e.g. Quatorze Bis on 79th and 1st), it’s just not my favorite. Largely because I’m not that into… wait for it… the bones. So while I love the taste of chicken wings and quite enjoy getting all messy in a bar, I wanted to find a way to do this sans bones. Behold the Chicken Wings Balls!

Chicken Balls
Ingredients:
1 lb of chicken, ground
¼ c hot wing sauce (if you can’t find some, mix together equal parts (2 T) hot sauce and (2 T) melted butter)
1 T garlic, minced
1 T flour
3 scallions, finely chopped
salt
pepper

Procedure:
Preheat oven to 400. Combine the chicken, hot sauce, garlic, flour, scallions, salt and pepper in a bowl. Form the mixture into little meatballs, coat with olive oil, and place on a foil-lined tray. Bake the chicken balls until cooked through, about 12 minutes. Remove from oven and transfer to a paper towel lined plate to drain.

Blue Cheese Dressing
Ingredients:
1 c Cabrales blue cheese, chopped finely (thank you Bobby Flay for introducing it to me!)
½ c plain yogurt, greek style
1 T lemon juice
1 T chives, chopped
salt
pepper

Procedure:
Throw all of the ingredients into a blender and blend, blend, blend until smooth. Transfer to a dipping bowl.

Figgy Hood Bruschetta

Serves 8-10
Ingredients:
1 baguette, sliced into ½” pieces
1 ½ c fresh ricotta cheese
2 T honey
¼ lb prosciutto
1 c figs
1 c water
1 c sugar
½ c brandy
¼ c mint, chopped
2 T c chives, chopped
1 T heavy cream
1 lemon zested
salt
pepper
olive oil

Procedure:
In a small pot over medium high heat, combine the water, sugar, and brandy. When it starts to boil, reduce the head to low and add the figs. Simmer the figs for at least 30 min. Transfer the figs and enough liquid to cover them to a sealed container and refrigerate. Let stew overnight.
Combine the ricotta, cream, zest, honey, mint, and chives in a bowl and mix until well blended.
Brush the bread slices with olive oil and grill them until slightly browned.

Spread some of the ricotta mixture onto each slice. Then fold a piece of prosciutto on top. Slice the figs in half lengthwise and place some of them on next. Finish off with a light SWOOPS.*
*SWOOPS = Season With Olive Oil, Pepper, and Salt

RaChardonnay Mendenhall Poached Peaaron Rodgers

Serves: 3

Ingredients:
1 btl (750) Chardonnay white wine
1 c water
2 cinnamon sticks
1 t peppercorns
1 T cloves
2 star anise
1 c sugar
1 t vanilla extract
1 T balsamic vinegar
1 orange, juiced
1 orange, peel
3 pears, peeled

Procedure:
Pour the white wine and water into a pot on high heat. Add the cinnamon sticks, peppercorns, cloves, star anise, sugar, vanilla, vinegar, and orange. Stir. Once it starts to boil. Reduce the heat to low and add the pears. Simmer the pears in the poaching liquid for at least an hour, turning occasionally to make sure all sides of the pear gets bath time. Once the pears have started to soften, transfer them to a bowl and pour the liquid through a strainer to cover them. Cool, and serve.

LaMarrgarita Woodley


Ingredients:
2 oz. tequila
1 oz. woody water*
1 lime, juiced
1 oz. pear (or orange) liquor
shake of salt
Procedure:
* To make the woody water, boil 1 c water, ½ c sugar, 4 sprigs rosemary, 4 sprigs thyme, 4 sprigs oregano, and 4 sage leaves in a pot. Simmer for 2-4 min. Strain and cool.

Throw all contents into a shaker with some ice. Shake it up. Pour into a glass and down.

Now MAN UP and CHOW DOWN!!

Final Monday Night Matchup Menus (Last Week’s) – New Orleans Saints!

I’m in Vermont with the boys during the storm! We’re making a Saints meal in my country house. The Saints are one of my favorite teams so it’s nice to end the season in their honor. Here’s what I’m throwing together:

Starter: Drew Brie with Marques ColStone Ground Crackers

Marques Colston - WR NO

Drew Brees - QB NO

Side: Jeremy Shiitockey with PiHeirloom Tomatoes

Pierre Thomas - RB NO

Jeremy Shockey - TE NO

Main: Fire Grilled Tracy Porterhouse

Tracy Porter - CB NO

Drew Brie with Marques ColStone Ground Crackers

We’re starting off easy. Cheese and Crackers.

Jeremy Shiitockey with PiHeirloom Tomatoes

Ingredients:
3 c shiitake mushrooms, sliced
1 box baby heirloom tomatoes, sliced in half
1 bunch scallions, finely chopped
1 small onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T lemon oil
olive oil
salt
pepper

Procedure:
Salt the tomatoes. Heat some olive oil in a pan over medium high. Throw in the scallions and onions and cook until translucent, about 2-3 min. Add the mushrooms and cook another few minutes until the shitakes have absorbed the liquid and released it. Add the garlic and tomatoes and stir in. Season with salt, pepper, and the lemon oil. Stir. Cook for another few minutes and serve.

Fireplace Tracy Porterhouse

Ingredients:
Porterhouse steak
salt
pepper
fireplace grill

Procedure:
Liberally season both sides of the steaks with salt and pepper. Build a fire. Once it’s died down so that the flame is still going but is below the grill, place the steaks on the fire. Cook each side for about 4-5 minutes, depending on the height of the flame and your desired cook level, I like medium rare.
Don’t play with the steaks on the fire, it ruins the crust.

Now Man Up! And Chow Down!!

Zucker MOT XXmas Dinner

We hosted an all girls (XX) MOT Xmas dinner. Was my dad psyched or scared?

Jim and the Ladies


He was fine, because here’s what we noshed on:
Laney’s cheese plate from Murray’s
Joy’s salami from Katz’s
Betti’s Spinach Mushroom Lasagna
Jordan’s Meat Lasagna
Simple Salad
Green Beans and Tomatoes
White Peppermint Bark
Semi Peppermint Bark
Lemon Gingerbread Blackberry Trifle
Chocolate Terrine

Here is the bulk of the recipes. Enjoy!

Jordan’s Meat Lasagna

Serves: 12-15
Ingredients:
1 box lasagna noodles (we used big fresh ones), boiled and soaking in water and 2 T olive oil.
2 eggs
15 oz. ricotta cheese
4 c fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
1 c Parmesan cheese
1 lb ground beef
½ lb pork sausage, decased
1 large eggplant
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 T tomato paste
½ c fresh parsley, chopped
½ c fresh basil, chopped
2 jars marinara sauce (favorite store bought is Rao’s, but you can make your own)
Prodcedure:
Halve the eggplant lengthwise. SWOOPS both flesh sides, place in a foil lined tray skin side down and roast in a preheated oven at 425 for 30 min (or until cooked through). Let cool and scoop out the flesh from the purple skin. Discard skin and set eggplant meat aside.
In a large fry pan, heat add 1 T olive oil and cook the onions until translucent (med high heat). Add the garlic and the two meats (beef and pork). Cook until meats are browned. Stir in the tomato paste. Season with salt and pepper. Add the eggplant flesh and mix well to incorporate into the sauce. Reduce heat and simmer 30 to 45 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
Mix ricotta, eggs, parmesan, basil, and parsley in a bowl.
Preheat the oven to 375.
Spray pan a non-stick spray.
Assemble the layers of the lasagna as follows:
1) Layer of marinara sauce
2) Layer of noodles (mine are so big I only need 2-3, just use however many it takes to complete one layer.
3) Layer of the ricotta mixture
4) Layer of the meat sauce
5) Layer of the sliced mozzeralla
Reapeat 2-3 times depending on the depth of your pan and the thickness of your layers.
Add an extra layer of Parmesan to the top mozzerella layer.
Bake for 50 minutes covered with foil, remove foil and cook another 5-15 minutes till cheese is melted and lasagna is
bubbly.
Let sit for a least 30 minutes to set before you cut it.
I prefer it room temperature or as leftovers the next day! It can be too soupy if it’s too hot.
At our party I had a “slight disagreement” with my mother over this. She wanted it served warmer, I said I didn’t. I agreed to have her put it in the oven to warm at 200. A half hour later my dad said there was something burning in the oven; she had put it in at 500. Then made a huge deal and apologized to everyone because I made her feel she had “ruined my dish.”
My friend Leslie said, “Jord, don’t worry, the lasagna’s great. It’s not that badly burnt. She didn’t burn it on purpose.”
I said, “No, she didn’t burn it on purpose, but she went against what I asked on purpose.”
“You just completely summed up and described the inherent basis of every mother/daughter relationship,” said Leslie.
All good laughs in the end.

Betti’s Spinach Mushroom Bechamel Lasagna

adapted from Emeril’s recipe
Ingredients:
2 lbs fresh spinach
5 T butter
¼ c shallots, minced
1 T garlic, minced
1 lb portobello mushrooms, chopped
1 t salt
1 t pepper
¼ c flour
4 c milk, whole
¼ t nutmeg, fresh grated
3 c Parmesan cheese
15 oz ricotta, fresh
1 c grated mozzerella
1 c fresh mozzerella
1 lb fresh lasagna noodles, cooked and soaking in a dish of water and olive oil.
Procedure:
Preheat oven to 350.
Boil spinach in salted water for 2 min. Drain and squeeze dry in a mesh strainer. Finely chop. Set aside.
In a large pan, melt 1 T butter on med high. Add the shallots and garlic. Stir and cook for one minute. Add portobellos, some salt and pepper, and cook for about 5 minutes until the mushrooms have cooked. (You know this when they’ve released their juices and soaked some back up again. Remove from heat and set aside.
For the bechamel, melt 4 T butter in a saucepan on medium heat. Add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon to make a roux, about 2 min. Slowly add the milk, whisking constantly until thickened, about 3 min. Season with nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Stir. Add 1 c Parmesan and stir. Cook for 2 min. Remove from heat and set aside.
Combine the ricotta and shredded mozzerella in a bowl and fold in ¼ c of the bechamel.
To assemble:
Prepare a lasagna dish with non-stick spray.
Layer 1) Bechamel sauce
Layer 2) Noodles
Layer 3) Mushrooms and spinach
Layer 4) Fresh mozzerella
Repeat layers ending with mozzerella on top and sprinkle with remaining Parmesan.
Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 min. Uncover and bake another 10 min until top is golden brown.
Let rest for at least 20 min before serving.

White Peppermint Bark

Ingredients:
16 oz. white chocolate
1 c peppermint candies, crushed
1 t peppermint extract
Procedure:
In a double boiler, melt down the white chocolate. Place peppermint candies in a sealed ziplock and crush them into little bits by using a meat pounder (or a hammer). Stir the little peppermint pieces into the melted white chocolate, along with the peppermint extract. Line a tray with some wax paper using a knife along the edges for a snug fit. Pour the chocolate onto the wax paper and spread into a thin even layer. Refrigerate until hardened, at least an hour. Break into various sized pieces and you have your bark!
The Semi-Sweet Chocolate Bark is made the same way except the white chocolate is replaced with semi-sweet chocolate.

Lemon Gingerbread Blackberry Trifle

adapted from Bobby Flay’s Recipe
There are four layer components to the trifle. Make each separately.

Gingerbread:
Ingredients:
3 c flour
2 T ground ginger
2 T baking soda
1 ½ T ground cinnamon
1 t ground cloves
½ t ground nutmeg
big pinch salt
3 T minced crystallized ginger
10 T unsalted butter, room temperature
1 c golden brown sugar, packed
3 large eggs
1 c molasses
1 c boiling water
1 T grated lemon peel
Procedure:
Preheat to 350 degrees F.
Spray a sheet pan with nonstick cooking spray. Line bottom of pan with parchment or wax paper; use knife to trim edges for a snug fit. Spray paper. Sift flour and next 6 ingredients into medium bowl. Mix in crystallized ginger. Using an electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until fluffy. Beat in brown sugar. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time. Gradually beat in molasses, followed by 1 cup boiling water. Beat in grated lemon peel. Gradually beat in sifted dry ingredients. Pour batter to prepared pan. Bake until a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the pan sides. Flip upside down onto a rack to remove from sheet. Peel off paper. Cool for at least 30 min. and cut into 1-inch cubes.

Whipped Cream:
Ingredients:
2 c heavy cream
2 T confectioners sugar
1 t vanilla extract
1 T dark rum
Procedure:
With an electric mixer, beat heavy cream until it starts to thicken. Add the sugar, vanilla, and rum. Continue beating until you get stiff peaks and it turns into whipped cream. (Don’t overdo it, you’ll get sweet butter…)

Lemon Curd Filling:
Ingredients:
6 meyer lemons
2 c sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
6 large eggs
1 c meyer lemon juice
big pinch salt
Procedure:
Peel the zest off of the lemons but don’t go too thick, you don’t want the white pith in there. Put the zest in a food processor and grind. Add the sugar and pulse until the zest is very finely minced into the sugar.
Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and beat in the sugar and lemon mixture. Add the eggs 1 at a time, and then add the lemon juice and salt. Mix until well combined.
Pour the mixture into a saucepan and cook over very low heat until thickened (about 10 min.), stirring constantly. The lemon curd will thicken. Remove from the heat and cool or refrigerate for at least an hour.
Fold in half of the whipped cream until combined. Refrigerate both the curd and the remaining whipped cream (to use as top layer of trifle).

Blackberry Sauce:
Ingredients:
2 pints fresh blackberries (or 1 bag frozen)
1/3 c sugar
2 T raspberry liquor
1 T fresh squeezed lemon juice
½ t cinnamon
Procedure:
Place blackberries and sugar in a medium saucepan and cook until the berries are soft and the sugar has melted. Transfer to a blender and blend until smooth. Pour through a strainer into a bowl. Stir in the liquor, lemon juice, and cinnamon.

Assembly:
Using a trifle bowl, start with an even layer of gingerbread cubes, top with a layer of the lemon curd mixture, and a layer of the blackberry sauce. Repeat until you get to the top of the bowl. Put the remaining whipped cream in a layer as the top. Cover and refrigerate for at least a few hours hours before serving.

Chocolate Terrine

Ingredients:
½ c pistachio nuts, shelled and peeled
½ c raisins
½ c dried cherries
½ c glazed oranges
6 oz bittersweet chocolate
½ c sugar
1 c butter cookies, crumbled
4 T water
1 c cocoa powder
1½ sticks butter
1 T Grand Marnier
1 egg
2 egg yolks
Procedure:
Grease a rectangular terrine shaped mold.
In a bowl, mix together the nuts, fruit, and cookie bits. Set aside.
In a double boiler, melt the chocolate. Set aside.
In a saucepan, combine sugar and water and stir over low heat until dissolved into a syrup.
In another bowl (can use an electric mixer), combine cocoa powder and softened butter. Stir in the sugar syrup, melted chocolate, and Grand Marnier. Add the egg and yolks and mix well. Fold in the nuts, fruit, and cookies. Pour the batter into the mold and press to set. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Run a knife along the sides of the terrine. Dip into a bowl of warm water. Invert mold and slide terrine onto a platter. Return to the fridge for 30 min. When rehardened, slice terrine into ½” slices and serve.

Week 15 Wrap Up and Monday Night Matchup Menus: Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings

It’s a Brett Chevre running theme:

Brett Favre - QB MIN

Johnny Lox and Goat Cheese Stuffed Matt ForTaters

Matt Forte - RB CHI

Johnny Knox - WR CHI

Visanthe Panko Crusted Goat Cheese and Tomato Salad

Visanthe Schiancoe - TE MIN

and a Guavaris Jaiquirison for the cocktail

Tavaris Jackson - QB MIN

Johnny Lox and Goat Cheese Stuffed Matt ForTaters


Ingredients:
4 oz. smoked salmon, finely chopped (Yes, technically this is not lox, it’s nova; lox is cured and nova is cold-smoked, but I like it better.)
4 oz. soft goat cheese
3 T dill, finely chopped
2 T tarragon, finely chopped
2 T chives, finely chopped
3 T scallions, finely chopped
1 T lemon zest (1 small lemon)
2 T lemon juice (1 small lemon)
12 small potatoes (new or creamers work well)
1 c black sesame seeds
olive oil
salt
pepper

Procedure:
Boil the potatoes until slightly tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and let cool. Slice them in half and scoop out the middle using a melon baller or a paring knife, making them into tiny little bowls. Discard the center (or save for mashed potatoes!). Dip the shells into some olive oil and place skin side down on a foil lined tray. Broil the hollowed potatoes until brown and crisping, about 5-10 minutes. Remove from oven and drain on paper towel lined platter.
In a bowl, combine the smoked salmon, chevre, dill, tarragon, chives, scallions, lemon juice and zest until well incorporated. Scoop a little of the salmon mixture and roll it into a ball. Place the black sesame seeds on a plate. Roll the salmon filling ball in the sesame seeds until nicely covered. Pop the sesame coated salmon ball into a potato shell. Repeat with the rest. Aren’t they cute?!?!

Visanthe Panko Crusted Goat Cheese Salad

Ingredients:
2 oz. chevre log
2 Roma tomatoes, slow roasted
1 Persian cucumber
½ avocado
2 T pea sprouts
1 head frisee
1 T dressing of choice
1 c panko breadcrumbs, seasoned with parley, salt and pepper
1 egg
½ c flour
olive oil

Procedure:
Using unflavored dental floss, cut the goat cheese log into discs ½” thick. Place flour in a bowl. Beat egg with a t of water in another bowl. Place seasoned panko in a third bowl. (You can toast the panko in the oven at 425 for five minutes beforehand to bring out the flavor.) Dip each goat cheese disc into the flour bowl and fully cover. Then dredge it in the egg and then the panko to fully coat. Place coated cheese on a wax paper lined tray. Repeat until all of the goat cheese is coated in the breadcrumbs. Place the wax tray in the freezer for at least 2 hours.
When you’re ready to make the salad, heat some oil in a pan on high heat. Cook the frozen cheese in the oil until browning. Flip and brown the other side. Remove to a paper towel lined plate.
Throw some washed frisee in a bowl. Coat with dressing of choice. Add a few halved roasted tomatoes, sliced and salted cucumber, avocado, and pea shoots. Place the panko coated goat cheese on top. Enjoy!

Guavaris Jaiquirison

Ingredients:
2 oz light rum
1 oz lime juice
1 oz simple syrup
1 oz guava, muddled

Procedure:
Muddle guava in shaker. Add rum, lime juice, and simple syrup. Pour over ice.

Week 15 Wrap Up

And then there was one. Smack and Cheese made it to the GG2FF Su Pa Bo! (Thank you Vick, Nicks, Marshall, and Jets D!)
Fat Sweaters got knocked out by Eat Prey Destroy. (Like I’d have started Garrard over Brady…)

Ex Latke

I’m a latke girl. Fried potato mixture adorned with any numerous divine trimmings is worth 8 days of presents to me.
So I always try to come up with fun flavors.

Last year, in NYC we had mushroom, triple onion, zucchini/carrot, and goat cheese. This year I made sweet potato/beet, bacon/leek, spinach/ricotta, and butternut squash/cinnamon.

Dear God, the bacon leek latkes were a hit. Just sayin. – JZ

My Hannukah party also happened to coincide with my ex’s (from last year) episode of Millionaire Matchmaker airing on Bravo. So it turned into latke, wine, and screening party. It was a pretty brutal episode. Most people realize that reality TV is still TV, and hence is manipulated to not really be reality. But the poor guy really got a beating. I feel bad.

Here are the recipes for the latkes:

Sweet Potato and Beet Latkes

Sweet Potato Beet Latkes


Ingredients:
3 sweet potatoes (They’re light in color – the orange guys are the yams. Both look like turds to me though. You can’t even take me to the market.)
3 small beets
1 yellow onion
1 c flour
3 eggs
oil
salt
pepper
ice on hand for oil splatter burns (latke making is not for the meek)
Procedure:
Peel the potatoes and the beets. After they’re peeled you can put them in a bowl with water to prevent color change. Shred the potatoes and the beets. Using a Cuisinart is not cheating. I’ve done both ways to humor myself. Cuisinart wins. Throw grated sweet potatoes and beets in a colander. Grate the onion. Add it to the colander. Sprinkle with a ton of salt. Seriously, at least a T, potatoes need salt. Grind some pepper and let it drain for a bit. Whisk the eggs. Squeeze out excess moisture and transfer to a big bowl. Add the eggs and flour and mix everything with your hands until well combined. Pour some oil (I usually use canola) in a fry pan and heat it to high. Spoon a little of the latke batter into the pan and press down with a spatula to form a little pancake. Depending on the size of your pan and the size of your pancakes you can make 2 – 6 at a time. When the under side is starting to brown, flip them over and cook the other side. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate to drain. Serve with plain yogurt or apple sauce. Fine, serve with sour cream too. (These ARE the veggie ones though, just sayin.)

Bacon and Leek Latkes

BACON leek latkes


Ingredients:
4 lbs. potatoes (I use golden russet)
2 lbs. bacon
2 leeks, finely chopped, rinsed and drained
1 yellow onion
½ c chives, finely chopped
1 c flour
3 eggs
oil
salt
pepper
ice on hand for oil splatter burns (latke making is serious business)
Procedure:
Place the bacon strips on a foil lined tray and put in a 425 degree oven for 15 minutes until crispy. Remove from oven, transfer to a paper towel lined plate and crumble. Set aside.
Peel the potatoes. After they’re peeled you can put them in a bowl with water to prevent color change. Shred the potatoes and the onion. Again, using a Cuisinart is not cheating. I’ve done both ways to humor myself. (That’s what she said.) Cuisinart wins. Throw grated potatoes and onions in a colander. Sprinkle with a ton of salt. I don’t measure because I don’t want to know how much I’m using. Ignorance is bliss in this case… Grind some pepper and let it drain for a bit. Whisk the eggs. Squeeze out excess moisture and transfer to a big bowl. Add the bacon, leeks, chives, eggs and flour and mix everything with your hands until well combined. Pour some oil (I usually use canola) in a fry pan and heat it to high. Spoon a little of the latke batter into the pan and press down with a spatula to form a little pancake. Depending on the size of your pan and the size of your pancakes you can make 2 – 6 at a time. When the under side is starting to brown, flip them over and cook the other side. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate to drain. Serve with sour cream. Brag about your bacon latkes.

Spinach Ricotta Latkes

The Spinach Ricotta was the crowd fave


Ingredients:
3 lbs. potatoes (I use golden russet)
1 lb. box of baby spinach, finely chopped
1 8 oz. container of ricotta cheese, drained
1 yellow onion
½ c chives, finely chopped
1 c flour
3 eggs
oil
salt
pepper
ice on hand for oil splatter burns (latke making aint no joke)
Procedure:
Peel the potatoes. After they’re peeled you can put them in a bowl with water to prevent color change. Shred the potatoes and the onion. Do everyone a favor and just use a Cuisinart. Throw grated potatoes and onions in a colander. Sprinkle with a ton of salt. Don’t pay attention to the massive amount you used. Grind some pepper and let it drain for a bit. Whisk the eggs. Squeeze out excess moisture and transfer to a big bowl. Add the spinach, ricotta, eggs and flour and mix everything with your hands until well combined. Pour some oil (I usually use canola) in a fry pan and heat it to high. Spoon a little of the latke batter into the pan and press down with a spatula to form a little pancake. Depending on the size of your pan and the size of your pancakes you can make 2 – 6 at a time. When the under side is starting to brown, flip them over and cook the other side. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate to drain. Serve with any topping that makes you happy.

Butternut Squash Latkes

Butternut Squash Latkes


Ingredients:
2 lbs. potatoes (I use golden russet)
1 butternut squash, peeled and seeded
1 T cinnamon
1 yellow onion
½ c tarragon, finely chopped
1 c flour
3 eggs
oil
salt
pepper
ice on hand for oil splatter burns (latke making at your own risk)
Procedure:
Peel the potatoes. After they’re peeled you can put them in a bowl with water to prevent color change. Shred the potatoes, squash, and the onion. Fine, you’re hard core, use a hand grater. But if you use a Cuisinart, don’t look to me to call you lazy. I try to use equal parts potato/squash. Depending on the size of the squash you may not use all of either one. Throw grated potatoes, squash and onions in a colander. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Use your own judgment on seasoning. Whisk the eggs. Squeeze out excess moisture and transfer to a big bowl. Add the cinnamon, tarragon, eggs and flour and mix everything with your hands until well combined. Pour some oil (I usually use canola) in a fry pan and heat it to high. Spoon a little of the latke batter into the pan and press down with a spatula to form a little pancake. Depending on the size of your pan and the size of your pancakes you can make 2 – 6 at a time. When the under side is starting to brown, flip them over and cook the other side. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate to drain. Serve with chocolate sauce. Kidding. Use what you like.

Monday Night Matchup Menus: New York Jets @ New England Patriots

OK, this is the 2nd Monday night game for both of our teams this week! If you don’t want to repeat making the Tomato Bready or the Mark SanCheese Dip, here are some more options!

Watercress Welker Salad with Dijon Branch Dressing

Deion Branch - WR NE

Wes Welker - WR NE

B.”L.T.”

LaDainian Tomlinson "L.T." - RB NYJ

Dirty Antonio CroMartini

Antonio Cromartie - CB NYJ

Watercress Welker Salad with Dijon Branch Dressing

Ingredients:
Dressing:
1 T garlic, minced (I make mine slightly pasty with salt and the back of a knife)
2 T dijon mustard
2 T lemon juice
6 T olive oil
Splash of hot sauce
salt
freshly ground pepper

Pecans:
½ c pecans
1 T butter
1 t cayenne
½ t Hawaiian salt

Pepitas:
½ c pepitas
1 t Hawaiian salt

Salad:
1 pear, diced
1 head watercress
1 c baby arugula


Procedure
Dressing:
Put all of the ingredients in a jar, secure the lid, and shake!

Pecans:
Melt the butter in a pan on medium heat, add the nuts and the spices and stir until well coated. Toast in pan for a few minutes but do not let the pecans burn. Remove from heat.

Pepitas:
Toast the seeds in a pan on medium heat, stirring so they don’t burn. Add salt and stir. Remove from heat when the seeds are browning.

Salad:
Rip the leaves off of the stems of the watercress head. Throw in a bowl with the arugula. Add the pear, nuts, and seeds. Dress with Dijon and toss to coat well.

B.L.T.

Ingredients:
1 T chipotle mayo
½ avocado, sliced
4 strips bacon, crispy
2 plum tomatoes, slow roasted
½ c arugula
2 slices bread (I use whole wheat or sourdough)
4 leaves basil
2 slices, cucumber
1 soft boiled egg, sliced
olive oil
aged balsamic vinegar
salt
pepper

Procedure:
To make the chipotle mayonnaise, add 1 c mayo, 1 t adobo sauce, 1 chipotle pepper, ½ lime, juiced, salt and pepper to a blender. Blend until smooth.

To make the bacon, place the bacon strips on a foil lined tray and place in a 425 degree oven for about 15 minutes until crispy. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate to drain the strips.

To make the tomatoes, slice the plum tomatoes lengthwise and place skin down on a foil lined tray. SWOOPS the seed side and drizzle with a little balsamic as well. Cook in a 275 degree oven for about 3 – 4 hours, depending on the size of the tomatoes, until they are about half way shriveled, not completely dry.

To prepare the cumber, peel the dark skin off. Then using a cheese slicer, make vertical strips of the cucumber to get thin strips of the cucumber lengthwise. Season with salt.

To prepare the egg, place an egg in a pot and fill with water. Bring water to a boil. Once water is at a rolling boil, cook for 5 minutes. Remove egg and run under cold water. Crack and peel the shell. Slice the egg. The whites should be cooked and then yolks should still be dark yellow and slightly soft, almost runny.
To prepare the lettuce, toss arugula with olive oil, salt, pepper, (SWOOPS) and some aged balsamic vinegar. I sometimes go to town and use TRUFFLE SALT!!! MMMmmmmmmm!

To arrange the sammie: Spread some mayo on one slice of bread. Add a layer of avocado. Add a layer of egg. Add a layer of cucumber. Add a layer of basil. Add a layer of bacon. On the other piece of bread, add a layer of dressed lettuce and a layer of tomatoes. Close the sandwich. I like to weight it down in a heated pan to toast the bread and press it all together.
Add extra bacon if L.T. gets a TD!

Dirty Antonio CroMartini

Ingredients:
2 oz vodka, good (I like Belvedere, but had Grey Goose in the house leftover from a recent guest.)
1 oz olive juice (the brine from the can or jar)
3 blue cheese stuffed olives
splash hot sauce

Procedure:
I stuff my own olives and I don’t make a piping bag out of a plastic ziplock, I use my fingers. Take a pitted green olive and some crumbled blue cheese and stuff some of the cheese in the hole of the olive until it’s almost bursting.
Put some ice in a shaker. Add the vodka, olive juice, and hot sauce. Shake, Shake, Shake! Sift the liquid out of the shaker and into a martini glass. Poke a toothpick through three blue cheese stuffed olives and stick in the glass. And good for you if you don’t spill it. To me, martini glasses are the stilettos of barware: best looking, least functional.
Extra shot of vodka if Cromartie gets a pick!

Now Man Up! And Chow Down!