Wednesday, December 17

Winter Caesar Salad

A wintery-spin on a classic caesar with escarole, homemade croutons, and anchovy dressing

AOC Escarole Salad with Anchovy Dressing

I'm not ashamed to admit that a classic caesar salad is still probably my favorite salad of all time (or at least tied with another old-school favorite, the wedge). While definitely not the most virtuous salad out there, nor the most exciting, there is something so nostalgic about a perfect caesar. It's all about the dressing, which should be generously coating the leaves of lettuce, along with crunchy croutons and a liberal amount of grated parmesan cheese. This version, adapted from a recipe in the A.O.C. Cookbook, uses escarole for a slightly bitter, wintery take on the classic. You can certainly use a more standard lettuce, like romaine, but I like the flavor and texture of escarole, especially if you make it this time of year. You can make a big batch of hand-torn croutons and dressing in advance, keep washed and dried greens in a paper towel-lined bag in the fridge, and then make this salad as a quick side to meals all week long.

Related Recipes:
- Tricolore Salad with Parmesan Anchovy Dressing
- Chicken Bacon Caesar Sandwich
- Mixed Greens & Fennel with Fried Capers & Anchovy Dressing

Escarole Caesar Salad with Homemade Croutons & Anchovy Dressing:
For Dressing
  • Combine 1 minced garlic clove, 2 anchovy fillets, and 1/4 tsp. kosher salt in a mortar and pestle and mash into in a paste. 
  • Stir in 1 tbsp. red wine vinegar, 2 tbsp. fresh-squeezed lemon juice, and 1/2 tbsp. dijon mustard.
  • Slowly whisk in 1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil until emulsified.
For Salad
  • Preheat the oven to 375F.
  • Tear 1/2 baguette into bite size pieces, then toss on a baking sheet with 1 1/2 tbsp. olive oil and a pinch of salt and toss to combine.
  • Spread the croutons into a single layer on the baking sheet and bake for 7-10 minutes, or until golden brown and crunchy. Let cool.
  • Remove the core from 1 large head of escarole, wash and dry the leaves, and chop or tear into bite-size pieces.
  • Place the escarole in a large bowl with the croutons, 1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese, and some of the dressing.
  • Toss to combine, then season with freshly ground black pepper. Serve immediately.

Serves three-four (side dish)

Tuesday, December 16

Baked Cranberry Brie in Puff Pastry

A festive and easy appetizer for the holidays

Baked Brie En Croute with Cranberries

Baked brie is such a crowd-pleasing appetizer, and this version with cranberry sauce is super festive for the holidays. In college, one of my roommates would always make a version of this dish for our Christmas party and I remember all of us girls huddling around the plate as soon as it came out of the oven. The puff pastry forms a flakey crust around the molten brie, which mixes with the sweet-tart cranberry sauce as it bakes. When you cut it open, the cheese oozes out and is perfect to spread onto a cracker, while the edge pieces of pastry are nice bites on their own. The best part of this dish is how simple it is - you only need a few ingredients and less than five minutes to prep it. You can even assemble the brie package earlier in the day and keep it in the fridge until you're ready to put it in the oven. It's a no-fuss dish that looks impressive and that everyone will love.

Note: You can swap out the brie with another similar cheese, such as camembert.

Related Recipes:
- Poached Cherries with Goat Cheese
- Baked Honey & Walnut Brie
- Great Grandmother's Cheeseball

Baked Cranberry Brie in Puff Pastry:
  • Preheat the oven to 375F.
  • Roll out 1 sheet of de-frosted puff pastry to 1/4"-1/8" thick.
  • Place one 8 oz. wheel of brie cheese in the middle of the pastry, then spread 1/4 c. of cranberry sauce* on top of the cheese.
  • Fold the ends of the pastry over the cheese and crimp to secure it in a little package. Trim extra pastry if needed.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together 1 egg and a splash of water. Brush a little of the egg wash over the pastry.
  • Bake the cheese in a baking dish for 30-35 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown.
  • Let cool slightly, then serve with crackers, sliced fruit, etc.

Serves six-ten (appetizer)
*I used a chunky fresh cranberry sauce that gave it some texture.

Wednesday, December 10

Short Rib Pappardelle with Butter & Parsley

Turn leftover short ribs into a comforting bowl of pasta with butter, herbs, and parmesan cheese

Short Rib Pasta with Butter and Parsley

If you're making braised short ribs (or any braised beef, for that matter) for a holiday celebration, make sure to make extra so you can turn the leftovers into this quick and comforting pasta. It's easy to get burnt out on weeknight cooking with all the big events going on in December, but making a little extra food for your parties can ensure that you have meals for the next nights covered. This pasta is a perfect way to use up leftover meat and can be cooked in the amount of time it takes to boil water and cook the noodles. The combination of tender braised short ribs, buttered noodles, salty parmesan, and fresh parsley is a decadent meal that won't feel like eating leftovers. It's a great way to indulge over the holidays while still saving time and money.

Related Recipes:
- Traditional Bolognese
- Short Rib & Spinach Lasagna
- Slow-Roasted Short Ribs with Horseradish Gremolata

Short Rib Pappardelle with Butter & Parsley:
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil, season with salt, and add in 8 oz. pappardelle pasta.
  • Meanwhile, shred 1/2 lb. braised short ribs into bite-size pieces.
  • Add the meat to a small skillet with a 1-2 tbsp. water and a pinch of salt and pepper (if needed) gently heat until warm.
  • Cook the pasta according to package instructions and then drain, reserving 1/2 c. pasta cooking liquid.
  • Return the pasta to the pot over low heat with 2 tbsp. salted butter, some of the pasta cooking water, and a few grinds of black pepper.
  • Toss until the butter melts and forms a sauce, then sprinkle with 1/4 c. chopped parsley and 1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese.
  • Add in the short ribs and toss once more, then divide into bowls and sprinkle with a little more parmesan.

Serves two-three