Our Daily Dinner

Our Daily Dinner

September 15, 2011

Chicken Liver Frisée Salad and Poached Egg

Chicken liver, bacon and eggs? This dish recalls a time when people indulged in kidney, tripe, and the likes and didn’t worry about healthy issues. Since George loves chicken liver, I decided to throw dietary worries to the wind and went full steam ahead. The result was most gratifying.


Heirloom Tomatoes with Mozzarella
Chicken Liver Salad
Wine: Riondo Garza Argento Rosé
Dessert: Chocolate Yogurt

I adapted the recipe from Chef Bruno Davaillon’s Chicken Liver Salad that appeared recently in the Wine Spectator.

Prep Vinaigrette

1 small frisée, cleaned and torn into pieces
1 small shallot, minced
2 teaspoons Pommery mustard
1 teaspoon red wine or sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 slices bacon, cut into ¼-inch pieces

Combine shallots, mustard, vinegar, olive oil and salt and pepper in
a bowl.
Sauté bacon until crisp and the fat is rendered. Remove the bacon, dry
with paper towel and toss into the vinaigrette. Divide frisée among two plates.

Cook Chicken Livers

½ pound chicken livers, cleaned and patted dry
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon butter
2 eggs
Chopped chives for garnish
Pinch of fleur de sel

Season chicken livers with salt and pepper
Heat butter in a sauté pan, add chicken livers and cook for one minute on each side. Remove and keep warm.

Bring water to a boil and add a few drops of vinegar. Poach eggs for about 3 minutes. Top over the frisée salad. Arrange the chicken livers around the eggs. Finish with fleur de sel and chopped chives.

The dish was an intriguing combination between the macho vinaigrette and the simple cooked chicken liver. Unfortunately I still haven’t mastered the technique of poaching eggs: at best, these looked messy. The young and lively, vino frizzante Rosé from the Veneto pulled the meal nicely together.

August 15, 2011

Black Sea Bass with Honey/Mustard Marinade

I went to the greenmarket and bought black sea bass, some Heirloom tomatoes, a baguette, fresh strawberries and was ready for dinner. Since I had never cooked black sea bass before I read up on it and, among other things, learned that the fish begins life as a female but changes into a male. Be that as it may, black sea bass turned out to be terrific food fish that will definitely become part of my cooking repertoire.


Heirloom Tomatoes
Pan roasted Black Sea Bass with Honey/Mustard Marinade
Wine: Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2009
Dessert: Strawberries

Prep marinade

2 tablespoons white wine
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoons honey
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon Oyster or Worcestershire sauce
Ground black pepper
¾ pound sea bass fillets, cut in half

Combine marinating ingredients in a bowl. Add sea bass. Marinate for up to an hour.

Cook Sea Bass

Black Sea bass
1 tablespoon butter
Chopped parsley for garnish

Remove fish from marinade and pad dry. Heat butter in a skillet to medium high. Sauté the sea bass for 2 to 3 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the fish. Transfer to the serving plates. Return marinade to the skillet and reduce till thickened. Spoon over the fish. Garnish with parsley.

The Heirloom tomatoes looked and tasted so great, I decided all they needed was bit of sea salt and a dribble of olive oil.

“Excellent dinner,” said George. “Everything tasted great.”

I rest my case.

August 12, 2011

Pasta Plus

Let’s face it, pasta is not my forte. But I wanted a change from all our recent fish, salads and vegetables dinners. Besides, hope springs eternal.


Tomato Salad with Anchovy & Capers
Fettuccini (or Linguine) with Peas
Wine: Marqués de Cáceres Rioja, 2007
Dessert: Red Cherries

Recipe Tomato Salad

1 large heirloom tomato
Salt and pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
2 anchovy fillets, rinsed and chopped
1 tablespoon capers
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon red wine or sherry vinegar
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Fresh basil leaves, chopped

Cut tomato in wedges and put in a salad bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
Add remaining ingredients. Gently toss.

Recipe Fettuccini

6 oz. fresh Fettuccini or Linguini
Salt and pepper
¾ cup defrosted baby peas, drained
1 tablespoon butter
Grated Pecorino Gran Cru

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt and the pasta.
Cook pasta according to recommended time. Drain and reserve ¾ cup of the cooking liquid.
Heat a large skillet, add butter. Mix in pasta. Raise heat, pour in most of the reserved liquid and cook until the liquid has been absorbed.
Meanwhile heat peas in a separate skillet. Mix into the pasta.
Serve with a generous portion of grated cheese.

No question about it: the best part of the meal was the tomato salad. Even without heirloom tomatoes it will become part of my summer repertoire.

August 8, 2011

Scallops over a bed of Braised Leeks

Braising takes time, but it is worth the effort. Consider the rewards: the dish improves when made ahead of time, is fool proof and guaranteed to taste great. The scallops take 2 minutes to cook. My idea of a perfect summer meal.


Cold Cherry Soup
Scallops over a bed of Braised Leeks
Wine: Vin de Savoie Apremont 2010
Dessert: Fresh green figs

Recipe Leeks

3 leeks, thoroughly washed and dried
¼ cup olive oil
3 small peeled carrots, sliced into 1- inch pieces
½ cup chicken stock (or water), more if needed
1 teaspoon sugar
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Cut the leeks lengthwise; then cut crosswise into 2-inch pieces
In a large skillet heat the oil, add the leeks and carrots. Let simmer until leeks have softened, about 10 minutes.
Add the liquid, sugar, salt and pepper. Cover and let simmer over low heat
until vegetables are completely softened, 20-30 minutes.
Add lemon juice. Let cool and put aside. If refrigerated, remove from
refrigerator 45 minutes before serving.

Recipe Scallops

2 garlic cloves, minced
½ pound scallops, trimmed and dried
1 tablespoon butter
Chopped curly parsley for garnish

In a skillet, sauté the garlic in butter until wilted. Add the scallops and sauté 1 minute per side.

Place braised leeks in the center of a serving dish. Arrange scallops/ garlic mixture over it. Garnish with chopped parsley

Labels: shellfish, braised leek

July 31, 2011

A Belgian Dinner

After experiencing a lull in my cooking endeavors, I finally snapped out of it and went full speed ahead with an all out Belgian dinner.

Separately or together, George and I must have visited Belgium at least twenty times. Before opening Café de Bruxelles in New York, we stayed a month in Brussels to do research, buy Belgian lace curtains and other decorative items. Naturally, our dinner tonight was accompanied by recollections of good times spent in Belgium, now sadly divided into Flanders and Wallonia.

I apologize for serving a Portuguese wine instead of a Belgian beer. No excuses. The Vinho Verde is my latest discovery. It is the perfect summer wine that pairs well with this light meal.

Preparing the meal looks more formidable than it is. Most of the prep can be done ahead of time. In fact, the shallot-parsley vinaigrette can be done a few days in advance.


Salade d’Ardennes (Salad from the Ardennes)
Scallops on a Bed of Belgian Endives
Wine: Vera Vinho Verde, 2010, Portugal
Dessert: Grapes

Prep: Shallot-Parsley Vinaigrette
(make 2 cups)

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
½ cup red wine vinegar
1 egg
1 ½ cup vegetable oil
1 medium sized shallot (about 1/3 cup), minced
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper

Place the mustard, vinegar and the egg in a blender. With the engine running, add the oil until it is incorporated. Add the shallots, parsley, salt and pepper. Refrigerate till ready to use. (Will keep in the refrigerator for 2 weeks)

Authentic Salade d’Ardennes contains the region’s famous smoked and air-dried, jambon d’Ardennes. Prosciutto or Serrano hams are good substitutes.

Recipe Salade

1 small head of red leaf lettuce, washed and dried
Some frisée or escarole
6 grape tomatoes, halved
2 oz. Prosciutto, cut into ¼-inch strips
½ cup shallot-parsley vinaigrette
Opt. home-made croutons

Combine the salad greens in a salad bowl with the tomatoes and Prosciutto. When ready to use, incorporate the shallot-parsley vinaigrette.

I keep forgetting how delicious braised Belgian endives are. It takes only a few minutes to cook them. In this instance, they are the perfect accompaniment to the tender scallops.

Recipe Scallops

3 endives, cored and sliced lengthwise into ½ inch long strips
1 tablespoon sugar
½ tablespoon lemon juice, more if needed
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons butter
¼ cup light cream
6 sea scallops, halved
Chopped parsley for garnish

In a mixing bowl, toss the endives with the sugar, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a skillet over high heat. Add the endives and cook, stirring until tender and slightly caramelized, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove and set aside. Pour the cream into the skillet and simmer until thickened, 6 to 8 minutes. Pour over the endives.

Melt the remaining butter in the skillet over high heat. Add the scallops and sauté, turning them over, until they turn opaque and slightly browned for 2 or 3 minutes.

Arrange the endives on individual plates and top with the sautéed scallops. Garnish the outside of each plate with chopped parsley.

July 24, 2011

Cool Does It: Cold Beef Salad

The first time I had cold beef salad was at the restaurant Abattoir (meaning slaughter house) in Toulouse. George and I were visiting the Languedoc region in France, essentially to sample the three different versions of cassoulet. We had tasted the one in Castelaudary and in Carcassonne. Toulouse’s version was our last stop. We figured that a restaurant named slaughter house would do the Toulouse cassoulet proud. However, the owner convinced us that today’s special –Salade de Boeuf-- should not be missed under any circumstance, and he was right.
Scouting for a substantial salad for dinner, I remembered the cold beef salad. The dish is essentially made with left over braised beef. Barring that, I bought a marinated hanger steak at Ottomanelli. The resulting beef salad wasn’t as fabulous as that of Abattoir’s, but it was a fair second. My only complaint was that the salad looked too brown on brown. A side dish of red pepper coulis would have helped. But then, I opted for simple. Besides, the peach soup looked attractive enough for both dishes.


Chilled Peach Soup
Cold Beef Salad
French Baguette
Wine: Moulin a Vent, Cru Beaujolais Villages Potel-Aviron, 2009, slightly chilled
Dessert: Chocolate Yogurt

Recipe Peach Soup

4 medium sized ripe peaches, peeled and cut into pieces
1 small cantaloupe or ½ honeydew melon, peeled, pits removed and cut
½ cup plain yogurt
¼ cup orange juice, more if needed
Juice of 1 lemon or lime
Pinch of salt
Opt. Fresh mint, chopped for garnish

Blend all of the above ingredients, adding more yogurt or liquid as needed.
(The soup should be fairly thick). Adjust flavor. Refrigerate overnight.

Recipe Beef Salad

¾ lb marinated hanger steak
French dressing: salt, lemon juice, mustard, olive oil pepper, plus
minced green onions, capers, fresh green herbs such as tarragon, thyme,
chives and, or parsley

Dry the steak well; slice thinly against the grain and sauté to brown, about 1 minute per side. Make the dressing according to your liking and whatever you have available. (I planted thyme, rosemary, and parsley in pots.) Mix everything together and refrigerate till ready to use. Serve on a bed of lettuce.

The light-bodied Beaujolais went well this typical summer meal.

July 19, 2011

Chicken Fillets in Parsley Aspic

This recipe comes from my “The Chicken for Every Occasion Cookbook.”
I had written the book so long ago, I didn’t remember ever having made the dish. I followed the recipe closely, wondering about the outcome. The stock didn’t look like aspic even after I had put in the gelatin. I didn’t spend a sleepless night over it, but I had my doubts. Peeking at the mold the next morning, I was pleasantly surprised: the aspic had set and the dish looked attractive.

I bought the cherry soup at Café André, a hole-in-the wall Hungarian restaurant, dating back to the time when the East 70’s and 80’s was an almost exclusive German, Hungarian and Czechoslovakian neighborhood. The soup reminded me of my childhood, our garden, and sour cherries. As such, it was a nice curtain raiser to a summer dinner. Besides, it tasted utterly delicious.


Cherry Soup*
Chicken Fillets in Parsley Aspic
Tomato and Feta Cheese Salad
Wine: Garda Classico Chiaretto Rosé 2010
Dessert: Fresh Peaches

Recipe: Chicken Fillets in Aspic

½ boneless, skin less chicken breast, cut into two pieces
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chicken stock
½ package gelatin
1 tablespoon white wine or sherry vinegar
1 egg white, lightly beaten
½ cup parsley, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped
1 carrot, sliced into attractive shape for garnish
2 cornichons, sliced fanlike for garnish

Season the chicken fillets with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a skillet. Sauté the fillets for 3 minutes per side, depending on thickness. Remove and set aside.

Bring the stock to a boil. Dissolve the gelatin in the vinegar and add the mixture to the stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce and let simmer for a few minutes. To clarify stock, add the beaten egg white, stir, and let simmer for 10 minutes. Line a sieve with a paper towel and strain the aspic through it.

Coat the bottom of a bowl, large enough to hold the chicken, with the aspic. Sprinkle with half of the parsley and let set slightly. Place the fillets over the aspic. Garnish with the vegetables and sprinkle with the rest of the parsley. Cover with the remaining aspic, and put into the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight.

I thought the chicken dish was under spiced. George, who tends to undersalt most of his food, thought the dish was excellent. I didn't argue. The Sangiovese Rosé hit the right notes.

*André’s Café
1631 Second Ave.at 85th Street
(212) 327-1105