Thursday, July 29, 2010

Navy Beans with Bulgar & Sausage - serves 4 with leftovers

I already miss Italy.  As mentioned in previous blogs, the Italian way of cooking is so simple.  Very little ingredients to come up with something so wonderful.  I had been craving beans, and in Italy they use a lot of them, particularly cannelli or navy beans.  Our last evening in Italy was spent at a famous restaurant called Il Latino in Florence.  They have two seatings for dinner, lasting roughly 2 hours long.  We were having so much fun, we stayed almost 4.  Of all the courses we had, this particular dish stood out the most.  I think I've nailed it pretty close... for you vegetarians out there, just omit the sausage.  The starch of the bulgar thickens the sauce and with the combination of herbs, makes this a smooth, stewlike meal that will make you smile.  Just ask my mom.


1 pd bag of Navy beans, soaked overnight
1 medium onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
2 cups water
3/4 cup bulgar
14 oz can of diced tomatoes
5 mild Italian sausage links
1/2 tbs chopped sage
1/2 tbs chopped thyme
1/2 tbs chopped rosemary
Fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Olive oil for drizzling
Grated Parmesan (optional)

After beans have been soaked, rinse in colander and set aside.  Meanwhile, in a medium Dutch oven or medium saucepan, add roughly 3 tbs olive oil.  Heat until shimmering.  Add onions and garlic.  Saute until transluscent, about 8 minutes.  Add beans and mix well.  Add tomatoes (in juice), stock, water and bulgar.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour, checking to make sure that beans are covered in liquid. (Add 1/2 cup water if to low, each time, if necessary.)

Heat oven to 400.  Place sausage on foil lined casserole and bake for 30 minutes.  Remove from oven and let rest for 10.  Add to stew and continue cooking.  The last 10 minutes of cooking (check beans for tenderness), add herbs, salt and pepper (to taste).  Stir well and cook for 10 minutes more.

Ladle stew into bowls and top with parmesan cheese and drizzled olive oil.  (Any extra herbs can be topped on as well.)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Right out of the Ocean Roasted Trout with Fresh Herbs - serves 4

I love to fish.  My husband tells me that one of the reasons he married me, aside from my good looks and humor, of course, was the fact that I can fish and hunt.  After a day of fishing with my son off West Bay in Galveston, he took my daughter and I for a fishing trip of our own.  She held her own, catching 3 of the 27 trout, my husband and I catching the rest.  I am extremely competitive, even when fishing.  The goal, of course, is to see who can catch the longest fish.  We tied, both catching 23 inch trouts and a great memory for the 3 of us.  After reeling them in, gutting them and feeding leftovers to the aggressive pelicans, we came home to Dallas with 108 trout filets.  It doesn't get better than this.


2 whole trout, gutted
3 tbs oregano, minced
3 tbs thyme, minced
3 tbs rosemary, minced
2 tbs garlic, minced
1/2 tbs fine sea salt
1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper


Preheat oven to 425.

Rinse the trout under cold water.  Pat dry.  Place all herbs, garlic, salt and olive oil in small bowl and mash until well incorporated.  Place trouts on foil lined baking sheets and stuff trouts with herb mixture, drizzling olive oil inside and outside fish.  Season with salt and fresh ground pepper.

Place in oven and bake for 12- 14 minutes.

Remove from oven.  Remove heads with sharp knives and split trout down middle to make filets.  Serve immediately with a salad or your favorite summer side.
(You can serve the fish whole (how we ate them) and eat away as you please!)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

BBQ Chicken, Inspired by Tim Love of Lonesome Dove, Ft. Worth

Nothing says Texas like BBQ.  I grew up watching my father grill night after night, grilling steaks, chicken and briskets. He taught me how to light a perfect fire, using the exact amount of charcoal and mesquite, each time perfecting the art of grilling. Now that I cook for a living, I adhere to what he taught me and pass along such advice to my husband.  To him, I have no idea what I'm talking about as the grill is God's gift to men and men only.  For 2 steaks or one whole chicken, he'll go through a 30 pound bag of charcoal, cooking the meat so much that the bones become brittle.  He has learned to cook better in our 18 years together, using my recipes and techniques, and has still managed to make me chuckle over the carbon monoxide amounts that hover over our home to almost set off the indoor detectors.  Although he claims the grill is his "retreat", I have no doubt he'd claim the following recipe as the best chicken he's ever eaten.  All by the hands of a woman.

Serve with a romaine salad and some Dallas Farmers Market summer corn and you're good to go.


1 gallon water

1/2 cup kosher salt

1/2 cup light brown sugar

Three 3 1/2-pound chickens

10 pounds hardwood lump charcoal

9 garlic cloves—6 smashed, 3 minced

1 bunch scallions, coarsely chopped

1 fennel bulb, finely diced

1 jalapeño, finely diced

1 dried ancho chile—stemmed, seeded and coarsely chopped


In a pot, combine the water with the salt and sugar and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until the salt and sugar dissolve. Let the brine cool to room temperature.

Set three large oven-roasting bags in a large roasting pan. Put a chicken in each bag and pour one-third of the brine in each. Tie the bags and refrigerate for 4 hours.

Set up a grill for indirect grilling: Light 5 pounds of the charcoal on one side of the grill and hang a grilling or oven thermometer on the opposite side of the grill.

Remove the chickens from the brine and pat dry. In a bowl, combine the smashed garlic, scallions, fennel, jalapeño and ancho. Toss with 2 tablespoons of the Wild Game Rub (recipe below) and stuff into the chicken cavities. Tie the legs together with string. Rub the outside of the chickens with the minced garlic and 1/2 cup of the Wild Game Rub.

Set the chickens breast side down on the grill opposite the coals. Cover and cook at 325° to 350° for 1 hour. Add the remaining 5 pounds of charcoal to the grill as needed to maintain the temperature. Turn the chickens, cover and cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the inner thighs registers 160°, about 1 hour and 30 minutes longer. Transfer the chickens to a carving board and let rest for 10 minutes. Carve the chickens and serve.

Tim Love's Wild Game Rub

1/4 cup kosher salt

1/4 cup freshly ground pepper

1/4 cup pure chile powder, such as guajillo or ancho

2 tablespoons ground cumin

2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves

2 tablespoons fresh rosemary

Mix all of the ingredients in a jar and store in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Allyn's Ratatouille Ragu - serves 4 with leftovers

My daughter loves noodles in any shape or size.  So needless to say, when it became her turn to cook, she wanted pasta.  Both of my kids have learned to love to cook and my daughter loves taking it a step further by pretending to be on a cooking show as she cooks.  There's imaginary camera men filming her every move and she commentates each step as if she were on the Food Network.  Standing on her designated stool to reach the counter tops, she magically coordinates any given dish into a picturesque painting of her own.  Hence, the ratatouille is full of colors, "just like crayons, Mom."  Just my little Picasso chef.

1 pkg angel hair pasta
2 zucchini, diced
1 large eggplant, diced
3 whole tomatoes, stems and tops removed, halved
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 large celery stick, diced
1 tbs fresh thyme, minced
1 tbs fresh oregano, minced
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil

Prepare pasta according to package instructions.  Add onions, carrots and celery to pan.  Saute over medium heat until veggies begin to burn/caramelize.  Add tomatoes, cut side down. Simmer until tomatoes begin to soften, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add one cup of water and continue to simmer an additional 5 minutes.  Add another cup of water, bring to a simmer, and add remaining vegetables.  Bring to a simmer and chop up tomatoes with a wooded spoon.  Continue to simmer, breaking up tomatoes for 5 minutes.  Ragu should begin to thicken.  Add Parmesan cheese and mix well. Season with salt and pepper.

Ladle sauce over pasta and serve.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Grey's Lemon Chicken - Serves 4 with leftovers

Aside from our busy summer (hence the delays in my postings), one of our new family requirements is to have the kids cook one meal each during the week.  Before my son left for his trip, he decided to prepare  "Grey's Lemon Chicken with Gingered Carrots and Sesame Spinach".  The latter two are my recipes however the chicken is his, learned from me, and has become his absolute favorite.  I have posted this recipe before but told Grey that the best thing about cooking is taking an existing recipe and making it your own.  "You mean, take the road less travelled, mom". 
Wise bird, indeed.

Grey's Lemon Chicken

1 whole organic chicken
Kosher salt & fresh ground pepper
1 whole head of garlic, unpeeled
A whole "collaboration" of mixed herbs ("go crazy")
2 lemons, sliced in half plus 1 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice
Olive oil

Rinse and pat chicken dry.  Place in roasting pan large enough to hold the bird.  Season chicken liberally with salt and pepper, inside and out.  Stuff chicken with whole garlic, herbs and sliced lemons.  Drizzle with olive oil all over, inside and out.  Pour lemon juice all over chicken, inside and out, cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 425.  Bake chicken, breast side down for 30 minutes, basting every 15.  Turn chicken over, cook for another 30 minutesr, basting again every 15 mintues.  Chicken should register 160 when cooked through. Remove from oven and let rest (or "leave it alone" for 15).  Slice and serve with your favorite sides.