Breakfast for Dinner; Dinner for Breakfast!

Just about everyone is happy to pick up a burrito and dig in. And when it’s an egg-and-cheese filled breakfast burrito, who cares if it’s suppertime? I sure don’t!

 

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Dinnertime Burritos

When you bite into this burrito packed with scrambled eggs, cheese, and avocado you’re getting a lot more than eggs for dinner. The substantial handheld meal can be customized to meet the tastes of your family or to use up leftovers, such as grilled or roasted veggies, brown rice, proscuito or chicken—even refried beans. If I have cilantro, I add that, and a heaping tablespoon of sour cream adds extra zip. When the burritos are chunky, the generous size of “burrito tortillas” makes them easy to roll and fold.

 

Serves 4

 

1 tablespoon unalted butter

8 large eggs, lightly beaten

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 burrito-sized or soft-taco-sized tortillas

1 1/2 cup grated Cheddar or mozzarella cheese

8 slices ham, cut into thin slices

1 avocado, pitted and sliced

½ cup hot or mild storebought salsa (use your favorite)

 

In a large saute pan, heat the butter over medium heat. When melted, pour the beaten eggs into the pan and stir them with a fork for 3 to 4 minutes as they are softely scrambled. Season with salt and pepper.

Heat the tortillas in a sauté pan over low heat or in the microwave.

Lay the tortillas flat on a work surface and divide the scrambled eggs among them. Top with equal amounts of cheese, ham, and avocado. Top with about 1 tablespoon of salsa and roll up the burrito. Tuck in the ends and serve.

If not serving right away, keep the burritos warm in a 200°F. oven until ready to serve.

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Lamb on the Grill: Absolutely Delicious!

Debra Ponzek

 

Grilled Leg of Lamb with Mustard and Garlic

If you like leg of lamb, you’ll love this simple, straightforward way of grilling it, boned and flattened—also called butterflied—so that it cooks relatively quickly over good, hot coals. It’s far easier than roasting a bone-in lamb in the oven. I decided on a classic marinade made from mustard, red wine, and garlic, as well as some generous handfuls of fresh herbs. The time the lamb soaks in this savory brew heightens its flavors so that all you need to do is watch the meat for about half an hour as it grills. It’s important to take the meat from the fridge about an hour before cooking; cold meat does not cook as evenly as does room-temperature meat. I like the lamb just as it comes off the grill, but the mint-flavored mustard is wonderful with it, too.

Serves 8

 

10 garlic cloves

1/4 cup chopped fresh rosemary

1/4 cup chopped fresh mint

1 (5- to 6-pound) butterflied leg of lamb

3/4 cup Dijon mustard

3/4 cup red wine

1/2 cup canola oil

2 tablespoons herbes de Provence

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Minted-Honey Mustard (recipe follows)

 

Cut four of the garlic cloves in half. Roughly chop the remaining six.

Mix together the rosemary and mint.

Spread the lamb open on a flat work surface. Using the tip of a small, sharp knife, make eight small slits into the meat on the inside of the lamb. Stuff the halved garlic cloves into the slits. Spread the mixed herbs over both sides of the lamb. Transfer the lamb to a glass, ceramic, or other nonreactive dish large enough to hold it opened up.

Mix together the mustard, wine, oil, herbes de Provence, and the remaining garlic. Pour over the lamb, cover the dish, and refrigerate the lamb for at least 8 hours or overnight.

Remove the lamb from the refrigerator about 1 hour before grilling. Wipe off the marinade and remove and discard the garlic halves. Lay the lamb on a clean platter and season both sides with salt and pepper.

Spray the grilling grate of a gas or charcoal grill with vegetable oil spray. Preheat the grill to medium hot.

Grill the lamb for 12 to 15 minutes on each side for medium-rare lamb: the internal temperature will read 145°F for medium-rare. The exact time will depend on the thickness of the butterflied leg of lamb and the desired degree of doneness.

Let the lamb rest on a cutting board for 10 to 15 minutes before slicing against the grain. Serve with the Minted-Honey Mustard.

Minted-Honey Mustard

Makes about 1/2 cup

 

1/3 cup Dijon mustard

2 to 3 tablespoons honey, or as needed

1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon chopped rosemary

1 tablespoon chopped mint leaves

 

Stir together the mustard, honey, vinegar, rosemary, and mint. Taste and add more honey if desired.

The mustard can be made up to 24 hours ahead of time. Let the mustard reach room temperature before serving.

Grilling Season

It’s time to grill! These first warm days inspire me to head outdoors and get the grill fired up. And what better to grill than flank steak! 

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Chipotle, Lime, and Honey Grilled Flank Steak

During the summer we cater a lot of outdoor parties at Aux Delices and this flank steak recipe is one of our most popular. The combination of fierce chipotle peppers, lime juice, garlic and cilantro blends perfectly with the touch of honey and Worcestershire. It’s never overpowering but makes a tasty statement. Once a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce is opened, the best way to save the contents is to divide small amounts of peppers and sauce between plastic bags or ice cube trays and freeze them to use in later recipes.

Serves 4 to 6

3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

2 tablespoons honey

1/4 cup canola oil

Grated zest and juice of 3 limes

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, plus 3 tablespoons adobo sauce

11/2 to 2 pounds flank steak

Mix together the Worcestershire sauce, honey, canola oil, and lime juice. Add the cilantro, garlic, peppers, adobo sauce, and the lime zest. Use a whisk to break the peppers into small pieces.

Lay the steak in a glass, ceramic or other non-reactive dish. Pour the marinade over the steak and turn the steak a few times to coat well. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours and up to 12 hours or overnight. Turn the steak once or twice during marinating.

Spray the grilling grate of a gas or charcoal grill with vegetable oil spray. Preheat the grill to medium hot.

Lift the steak from the marinade and wipe the excess from the meat. Grill the meat for 4 to 5 minutes on each side for medium-rare, or until done to your liking.

Let the meat rest for about 10 minutes before slicing across the grain and serving. 

Anyone for Asparagus?!

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I’m sure you agree that April is the perfect time for asparagus — and if the weather is warm enough, it’s great on the grill. So, treat your family to one of the best flavors of the season. Happy spring!!

Grilled Asparagus with Orange Gremolata

I love to grill asparagus and once you try it, you’ll love it, too. So easy, so quick. Dressing it with an orange-spiked gremolata is perfect, and the taste is a little mellower than the more traditional lemon. The gremolata would taste great with broccoli, too, dressing it up as it does the asparagus. If you prefer, you can steam or oven-roast the asparagus.

Serves 4

Gremolata

3 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

2 teaspoons grated orange zest

1 large garlic clove, minced

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Asparagus

1 pound asparagus

1 tablespoon olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

To make the gremolata: Mix together the parsley, orange zest, and garlic. Add the oil and stir to mix. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To cook the asparagus: Spray the grilling grate of a gas or charcoal grill with vegetable oil spray. Preheat the grill to medium hot.

If the asparagus have thick, woody stems, snap them off. Peel the stems and lay the asparagus in a shallow dish. Sprinkle with oil and season with salt and pepper.

Lay the asparagus spears directly on the grilling grate (perpendicular to the grate so that they do not fall through). You could also grill the asparagus in a grilling basket. Grill the asparagus, turning a few times, for about 5 minutes, or until tender. Transfer to a serving plate, scatter the gremolata over the asparagus, and serve.

Try THIS Version of Mac and Cheese!

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Quinoa and Spinach Mac and Cheese

I know this isn’t real mac and cheese because there’s no mac in sight. Plenty of cheese though, and when it’s mixed with quinoa, this tastes like mac and cheese, feels like mac and cheese, even smells like mac and cheese! And yet, it’s a lot better for you than mac and cheese.

What do you have to lose?

 

Serves 6 to 8

 

5 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 tablespoons flour

2 ½ cups whole milk

8 ounces shredded Cheddar cheese  

½ teaspoon salt

Pinch of ground nutmeg  

3 cups cooked quinoa (from 1 cup raw quinoa according to package directions)

5 ounces baby spinach, coarsely chopped  

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs

 

 

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Spray a 3-quart casserole with vegetable oil spray.
  2. In a heavy saucepan, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for about 1 minute. Whisk in the milk and then let the mixture simmer for about 5 minutes until smooth. Remove from the heat and let the sauce cool for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the Cheddar cheese, salt and nutmeg and whisk until smooth.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, mix the cheese sauce with the quinoa. Add the spinach and ¼ cup of the grated Parmesan cheese. Transfer  to the casserole dish.
  4. In a small saucepan, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the panko and remaining ¼ cup of Parmesan cheese and stir until well mixed and the breadcrumbs are coated with butter. Sprinkle the cheesy crumbs over the top of the mac and cheese.
  5. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbly. Allow to sit for 10 to 15 minutes before serving

 

Time for a Little Celebrating

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Forgive me for tooting my own horn….but I am proud of The Dinnertime Survival Cookbook and some very nice things have been said about it. Thought I would share some with you.

Bobby Flay
“I love when talented chefs show us a little behind-the-scenes glimpse of their family meals. Debra Ponzek is the perfect chef to guide you through the rough-and -tumble chore of feeding your household—no one will want to leave the table.”

Sarabeth Levine, author of Sarabeth’s Bakery
“Creative simplicity is what makes award-winning chef Debra Ponzek’s cooking so delicious and perfect for everyday. This recipe collection will be kept within arm’s reach on my kitchen shelf to enjoy with family and friends for years to come.”

Publishers Weekly
”A charming book full of fresh, inspired, and tasty recipes that is sure to shake up your family’s dinner routine.”

Booklist
“This cookbook from an East Coast restaurant chef turned caterer is simple and sophisticated. Ponzek emphasizes using the best ingredients in straightforward ways, often with enough of a twist to keep things interesting…evening meals for families, couples, and singles don’t have to be something microwaved. Any level of home cook, from novice to professional, can relax and execute these 125 recipes, which are full of goodnesses and local seasonal ingredients

January Is for Pizza

My kids and I love pizza every month of the year, as do yours, I’m sure. But I am calling January “pizza month” because after all the cooking and entertaining last month, it’s time to simplify, simplify. And what’s easier than pizza? Not much. And what tastes better?

Caramelized Onion, Potato and Fontina Pizza

Pizza without tomatoes and parmesan cheese may sound odd to the uninitiated, but get yourself initiated as soon as you can. This just might be my very favorite pizza in the world! I am increasingly impressed by storebought pizza dough, but making your own still beats it, hands down. And because the dough is simple to mix and can be left in the refrigerator for hours — overnight or all day long — it’s pretty easy to make this a 100 percent homemade pizza.

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Serves 8

1 pound pizza dough, homemade (recipe follows) or storebought

¼ cup olive oil

2 medium onions (about 1 pound), thinly sliced

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes (about 12 ounces), unpeeled and very thinly sliced

6 ounces grated Fontina cheese

2 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar, optional

About 3 cups (3 good handfuls) arugula

  1. If using homemade pizza dough, punch the dough down with a clenched fish to expel the air. Turn it out onto a lightly floured surface.
  2. If using storebought dough, let it come to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 475°F.
  3. Spray a 14-inch metal pizza pan with flavorless vegetable spray. Gently holding the dough in both hands, stretch it evenly over the pan to fit. Pizza is not fine baking; the crust can look a little rough and rustic.
  4. Pour  the olive oil into a medium pan and heat over medium-high heat. When hot, cook the onions for 10 to 12 minutes or until they soften and begin to color. Remove from the heat, season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside to cool slightly. Spread the onions evenly over the pizza crust.
  5. Cover the onions with  a layer of potatoes, letting them touch but not overlap. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the cheese over the entire pizza.
  6. Bake for about 20 minutes, rotating the pan once or until lightly golden brown and bubbly.
  7. Remove the pizza from the oven and drizzle it with the vinegar, if desired. Top with the arugula and serve immediately.

Homemade Pizza Dough

Makes about 1 pound

2/3 cup warm water

¾ teaspoon sugar

¾ teaspoon active dry yeast

1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for greasing the bowl

¾ teaspoon salt

½ pound bread flour (almost 2 cups)

  1. In a medium bowl, stir together the water, sugar, and yeast and set aside for 5 to 6 minutes or until it bubbles and starts to foam.
  2. Stir in the olive oil and salt. Add the flour a little at a time, stirring with a wooden spoon until the mixture turns into dough and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Depending on the humidity of the day and your kitchen, you might need a little less or a little more than 2 cups of flour.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 3 to 4 minutes or until dough is smooth and elastic.
  4. Generously rub the inside of a medium-sized bowl with the oil. Put the dough in the bowl and turn it against the sides and bottom of the bowl until it’s nicely coated with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. The dough will take about 10 hours or overnight to rise in the refrigerator. When it’s finished rising, it will be almost doubled.
  5. Remove the dough from the refrigerator at least 60 and up to 90 minutes before making pizza.

Mac and Cheese Made with Quinoa. And Why Not?!

 

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Quinoa and Spinach Mac and Cheese

I know this isn’t real mac and cheese because there’s no mac in sight. Plenty of cheese though, and when it’s mixed with quinoa, this tastes like mac and cheese, feels like mac and cheese, even smells like mac and cheese! And yet, it’s a lot better for you than mac and cheese.

 

Serves 6 to 8

 

5 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 tablespoons flour

2 ½ cups whole milk

8 ounces shredded Cheddar cheese  

½ teaspoon salt

Pinch of ground nutmeg  

3 cups cooked quinoa (from 1 cup raw quinoa according to package directions)

5 ounces baby spinach, coarsely chopped  

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs

 

 

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Spray a 3-quart casserole with vegetable oil spray.
  2. In a heavy saucepan, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for about 1 minute. Whisk in the milk and then let the mixture simmer for about 5 minutes until smooth. Remove from the heat and let the sauce cool for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the Cheddar cheese, salt and nutmeg and whisk until smooth.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, mix the cheese sauce with the quinoa. Add the spinach and ¼ cup of the grated Parmesan cheese. Transfer  to the casserole dish.
  4. In a small saucepan, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the panko and remaining ¼ cup of Parmesan cheese and stir until well mixed and the breadcrumbs are coated with butter. Sprinkle the cheesy crumbs over the top of the mac and cheese.
  5. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbly. Allow to sit for 10 to 15 minutes before serving

 

Vegetarian Lentil and Tomato Ragu

While I am not abandoning meat, I am totally into cooking vegetarian these days. My next book will feature this and many other recipes, so as I post them, let me know how you like them. In the meantime, your family will love this ragu spooned over pasta. Perfect for a weekday supper.

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Lentil ragu ladled over pasta

Lentil and Tomato Ragu

Lentils are earthy and filling, a perfect pairing with forest or “wild” mushrooms. Plus, they cook in a mere 45 minutes from sack to dinner plate. No soaking required. I love them for so many reasons and here they are not only paired with gorgeous mushrooms (and you can use plain old white ones if you want), but with tomatoes and just enough red wine to lift the ragu to gastromic heights (the alcohol cooks off while the ragu simmers). Everyone — kids included — loves this robust sauce served over pasta.

Serves 8

3 tablespoons olive oil

3 carrots, peeled and diced

1 medium onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, sliced

10 ounces wild mushrooms, such as oyster, shiitake, or baby portobellos (cremini), diced

1 ½  cups red wine

8 ounces lentils du puy

4 cups vegetable stock, preferably homemade

One 28 -ounce can chopped tomatoes

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 bay leaf

1 pound spaghetti

About ¼ cup chopped flat-leaf  parsley

½ teaspoon dry oregano

1 ¼ teaspoons salt

Freshly ground black pepper

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the carrots, onions and garlic, reduce the heat to medium, and cook for 4 to 5 minutes or until the vegetables begin to soften. Add the mushrooms and cook for about 3 minutes longer until they begin to soften.
  2. Add the red wine, raise the heat to high, and boil gently for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the lentils, stock, chopped tomatoes and their juice, tomato paste and bay leaf. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat and simmer for about 45 minutes or until the lentils are cooked and the ragu thickens.
  3. Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the package directions, timing it so that it will be done when the ragu is thickened.
  4. Stir the oregano, chopped parsley and salt into the ragu, and season to taste with pepper. Ladle the ragu over the hot pasta and serve.

Easy Chicken for Crazy Days (the Holidays!!)

We’re all crazed about now. Racing around to get shopping done, spending hours on the computer ordering off the Internet, giving or attending parties (yea!!), wrapping gifts…you get it! So how about something pretty darn easy and more-than-delicious for supper tonight? 

This chicken recipe is started early in the day and then refrigerated — and forgotten — until time to cook. Perfect for busy, crazy days. Or any time!

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Lemon-Rosemary Chicken Breasts

When it comes to flavor, these chicken breasts are not shy. They literally are stuffed with lemon, garlic, and rosemary, and as they bake, they fill the kitchen with a heady fragrance. For serving, the only thing the breasts need is a good douse of extra-virgin olive oil.

Serves 4

4 split bone-in chicken breast halves with the skin

3 lemons, thinly sliced

12 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

8 sprigs fresh rosemary

3/4 cup olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Loosen the skin of each chicken breast by inserting your fingers between the skin and the meat. Slide 2 lemon slices, 1 whole clove of sliced garlic, and 1 sprig of rosemary under the skin of each breast.

Arrange the breasts in a shallow glass, ceramic, or other nonreactive dish and pour the oil over the chicken.

Remove the rosemary leaves from the remaining 4 sprigs of rosemary and scatter the rosemary leaves and remaining lemon and garlic slices over the chicken. Cover the dish and refrigerate for 6 to 8 hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Without removing the lemon slices on top of the chicken breasts, transfer the breasts to a clean baking pan. (The lemon slices are delicious once cooked, so you don’t want to  discard them before roasting.) Season lightly with salt and pepper and roast for 25 to 35 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. (The time will depend on the size of the breast: they will be 180°F at the thickest part.) Serve hot from the oven, drizzled with a little more olive oil.