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Recipe: Hillstone-Inspired Kale Salad

Contributor Lisa Fielding is a private chef and boutique caterer based in Manhattan who weekends in Litchfield County whenever possible. Many of her Manhattan clients are also Litchfield County weekenders, so work brings her to Northwest Connecticut as well. A Los Angeles transplant, Fielding was a former Hollywood film executive who segued into screenwriting several years ago, which enabled her to pursue her passion for food and entertaining. Lisa’s culinary skill set draws from a broad spectrum of dishes and ingredients.

I just returned from a week-long trip to Los Angeles for a series of meetings on my other job — that of a Hollywood screenwriter. It’s been a very good summer for my career: I sold a semi-autobiographical series based on my life as a Manhattan-based private chef entitled, “Totally Together and Completely Insecure” while setting up two of my best pieces of feature writing, a drama entitled “A Family History” and an adaptation of a British comedy entitled “Welcome to the Working Week.” All of this didn’t happen overnight. I’ve been assiduously devoted to writing since I walked away from my desk job and had to come up with a survival plan while I pursued this dream. Plan B, as I referred to it then, was reinventing myself as a private chef and all these years later I am so grateful for the culinary adventures that followed. 

Meetings in LA usually include lots of wining and dining and this trip was no different. In addition to drinking copious glasses of rosé, I also fell in love with a kale salad from Hillstone, so much so in fact that I went to the restaurant twice and managed to cajole the recipe from my server. That’s a bit of an overstatement; I didn’t get the actual recipe as much as a list of ingredients, which I duplicated and made my own version for clients last weekend. It was sensational and so I happily share this extra yummy kale salad as inspired by Hillstone Restaurant at 2nd and Wilshire. There’s a hint of heat, loads of flavor and the chewy texture of kale meets the crunch of cashews. Enjoy.

Kale Salad
Serves 8

8 cups fresh kale torn from the tough stems and chopped into dime-sized pieces, chilled. (Salad is much more flavorful served very cold.)
1 cup raw cashews roasted and salted
½ small red onion
1 bunch fresh mint
1 jalapeno, seeded and roughly cut
1 cup crumbled feta
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt

Dressing:
3 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
¾  cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup white balsamic vinegar
Salt and freshly cracked pepper

Emulsify ingredients, set aside. 

In a skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Place cashews in pan, add salt and toss until evenly browned. In a food processor, pulse onion, mint and jalapeno until finely minced and well combined. In a salad bowl, toss kale with this mixture. Add dressing and gently massage kale. Add cashews and feta. Salt and pepper to taste. Form a nice mound to plate and serve.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 07/18/17 at 10:40 AM • Permalink

Recipe: Pan-Fried Vegetable Dumplings

One of our favorite events every summer is The Sylvia Center’s Farm-to-Table dinner, hosted by Great Performances in the fields of Katchkie Farm in Kinderhook, N.Y. The mission of The Sylvia Center is to inspire young people and their families to eat well through hands-on learning experiences on the farm and in the kitchen. Kristen Jovanelly, garden educator and manager at The Sylvia Center, offers us recipes the teenagers are learning to make.

Occasionally, shiitake mushrooms walk into our lives. They catch us off guard, almost with a glimmer in their eye, like they always knew we’d be back for them. So they wait patiently, eating away at trees, getting more and more delicious, anticipating this very moment. Calm your trepidations that you don’t know what to do with shiitakes — you can handle this. And, you can make everybody appreciate them with you!

At the Sylvia Center, a lot of our days are spent contemplating the question: how do we make kids want to eat this? Shiitakes are loaded with vitamins and minerals and they have a distinctive meaty sumptuousness that when tasted once, if they’re cooked correctly, will have you craving more and more. So how do we do it? Dumplings. Crispy well-cooked half moons brimming with the fresh flavors of ginger, carrots and sesame oil. I cannot say enough of this recipe; it’s our most popular by far. It even encourages kids to try tofu, an abhorred word amongst the middle school circles we teach in.

I highly suggest cooking these at home with many hands around to assemble dumplings. It can become a highly competitive game. But by the end, no matter what allegiances have been formed, everybody can settle around the table to stuff their faces and giggle as dipping sauce trickles down their chins.

Pan Fried Vegetable Dumplings
Makes 60 pieces

For Dumplings
1 pounds firm tofu, drained
1 tablespoon ginger, minced
1 large bunch spinach, minced
12 shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, caps minced
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
2 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
Black pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour, for dusting
60 fresh round dumpling wrappers

For Herbal Dipping Sauce
3 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
½ cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon ginger, minced
1 scallion, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 cup cilantro leaves
1 teaspoon dried chili flakes

To make the herbal dipping sauce, heat a skillet over high heat. Add the vegetable or canola oil. Once oil is shimmering, add garlic, scallion, 1 tablespoon ginger, red chili flakes and cilantro and sauté until fragrant and lightly golden, about 2 minutes. Add soy sauce, sugar and vinegar, and remove from heat. Once cool, transfer the sauce in the bowl and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the tofu, 1 tablespoon ginger, spinach, mushrooms, carrots, sesame oil and black pepper, and mix thoroughly.

Put water in a small bowl. Dust a plate with all-purpose flour. Put a wrapper on the palm of one hand. Dip the opposite pointer finger in the water and run it across the outer 1/2-inch edge of the wrapper. Put a heaping teaspoon of filling in the center of the wrapper and fold into a half-moon shape, sealing the wet edges together. Place the dumpling on the plate. Repeat with the remaining wrappers and filling.

Bring a large non-stick skillet to high heat. Add a healthy drizzle of vegetable oil. Place dumplings flat onto skillet, close together, in concentric circles. Add ¼ cup of water to the pan and cover immediately, and reduce heat to medium. Allow dumplings to steam until no water is left and dumplings are golden brown on the bottom. Add more water if necessary. Uncover and place dumplings, browned side up, on a platter. Repeat with the remainder of dumplings.

To serve, drizzle lightly with herbal soy sauce or serve sauce on the side for dipping.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 07/10/17 at 08:11 PM • Permalink

Recipe: Easy Peasy Summer Appetizer Party

Contributor Lisa Fielding is a private chef and boutique caterer based in Manhattan who weekends in Litchfield County whenever possible. Many of her Manhattan clients are also Litchfield County weekenders, so work brings her to Northwest Connecticut as well. A Los Angeles transplant, Fielding was a former Hollywood film executive who segued into screenwriting several years ago, which enabled her to pursue her passion for food and entertaining. Lisa’s culinary skill set draws from a broad spectrum of dishes and ingredients.

Summer is the official party season on the East Coast. As each weekend rolls around, many of us find ourselves (me excluded since I’m always working) either attending or throwing a party.  And no matter if it’s the former or the latter, food is involved. That said, it is summer and no one wants to spend long hours in the kitchen when they can be outdoors enjoying the long days and warm evenings. So despite my tendency to create elaborate menus, I have, due to my own time constraints, started to curate meals based on seasonal and simpler dishes that are still delicious and visually appealing. Easy doesn’t equate to bland in my kitchen. I’ve grown so accustomed to this practice, that I recently catered a dinner party based entirely on passed hors d’oeuvres which were presentable, flavorful and as filling as a multi-course dinner.

So now that we’re well into the summer season, I thought what better subject for this week’s blog than a menu based on dishes you can make in a snap and still look like a gifted chef and host. Or in the event you’re attending a party soon, any one of these recipes will travel well and make a terrific contribution to the evening ahead. Pick and choose or make all of these at once for a fast and fun summer party. Enjoy!

Menu:
Pancetta, Chive and Egg Tartlets
Prosciutto-wrapped Grissini
Caprese Skewers
Savory and Spicy Gulf Prawn Skewers
Savory and Spicy Lam Lollipops

Serves 10

Pancetta Tartlets
Makes 30

2 packages mini phyllo shells (frozen food section)
4 oz. thick cut pancetta cut into small dice
1 Tablespoon minced chives
3 eggs
1 cup heavy cream
½ cup grated Gruyere
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. In a heavy skillet, over medium heat, fry pancetta until crisp and browned. Set aside on a paper towel.
3. Mix eggs and heavy cream together. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Add pancetta, Gruyere and chives. Stir until combined.
5. Remove fully-cooked phyllo shells from packaging and place on a cookie sheet. Gently spoon egg filling into shells making sure to evenly distribute pancetta.
6. Bake for 15 minutes until firm.

Prosciutto-wrapped Grissini
Makes 20 to 24

8 oz. thinly sliced Prosciutto di Parma
1 package bread sticks or Grissini

1. On the diagonal, wrap bread sticks with prosciutto and leave a finger’s width space to pick up.
2. Cut sticks in half and arrange on a platter with parsley or basil leaves for color.

Caprese Skewers
Makes 24 skewers

Bamboo skewers
8 oz. red cherry tomatoes
8 oz. yellow cherry tomatoes
Bunch of fresh basil
12 oz. mozzarella bocconcini
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tbl. balsamic vinegar
Maldon Sea Salt Crystals

1. Alternate 1 red and 1 yellow tomato with a basil leaf and bocconcini until you’ve assembled all skewers.
2. Mix olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
3. Make a round pattern of skewers on a platter, drizzle with olive oil mixture, and sprinkle with Maldon Sea Salt Crystals.


Lisa’s Fab Marinade for the Lollipops and Prawns
Makes 1 ¼ cups or thereabout

3 garlic cloves minced
2 jalapenos minced
1 tbl. minced Italian Parsley
½ tbl. minced lemon thyme
1 tsp. minced tarragon
3 tbl. Sriracha
¾ cup good-quality olive oil
¼ cup soy sauce
2 tbl. honey
Juice of one lemon

1. Whisk all ingredients together. Let sit for one hour at room temperature. Marinade is ready for use.


Savory and Spicy Lamb Lollipops
Makes 16 pops

2  8-ribbed Frenched racks of lamb (if there is still a fat pack on the rack, trim back so you don’t start a fire under the broiler)
3/4 cup Lisa’s Fab Marinade

1. Cut lamb into 16 individual pops.
2. Coat with marinade. Refrigerate for two hours.
3. Turn on broiler. Place lamb on a rimmed cookie sheet. Position sheet five inches below broiler. Cook for 5 minutes.
4. Turn and cook for an additional five minutes. Lamb should be pink and juicy. If you like it rarer, cook for less time.
5. Pour pan drippings into a ramekin and serve as a dipping sauce.

Savory and Spicy Gulf Prawn Skewers
Makes 20 to 24 skewers

Oven safe skewers
1 lb. large gulf shrimp, peeled and deveined
½  of Lisa’s Fab Marinade (see recipe above)

1. Coat cleaned shrimp in marinade and refrigerate for one hour.
2. Skewer prawns individually.
3. Turn on broiler. Place shrimp skewers on a rimmed cookie sheet in a single layer. Broil for two minutes. Flip and broil for an additional two minutes.
4. Arrange on a platter and serve.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 07/03/17 at 05:29 PM • Permalink

Recipe: Summer Grain Salad

One of our favorite events every summer is The Sylvia Center’s Farm-to-Table dinner, hosted by Great Performances in the fields of Katchkie Farm in Kinderhook, N.Y. The mission of The Sylvia Center is to inspire young people and their families to eat well through hands-on learning experiences on the farm and in the kitchen. Kristen Jovanelly, garden educator and manager at The Sylvia Center, offers us recipes the teenagers are learning to make.

Some of these sweaty, smelly farm nights at the Sylvia Center have had us yearning for the cool fall days necessitating layers. Think of the scarves, the mittens, and that glorious button down flannel! In an effort to appreciate with summer warmth, particularly in light of last week’s solstice, we decided to focus on food layers with the students from Knickerbacker Middle School with a spring grain salad.

Many of our June crops can be represented with one sound: crunch. We like to maintain the fresh-from-the-garden crispy integrity of all of our radishes, peas, asparagus, and fresh scallions by giving them a light sauté in olive oil. They add bright flavors, colors, and satisfying lip-smacking to any summer recipe, especially when paired with al dente Israeli couscous and wild rice. At first an unlikely duo, couscous and wild rice bring out the best in one another. Couscous is so perfectly round and plump, a comforting and familiar presence in the bowl. On the other hand, every grain of toothsome wild rice is earthy and nutty. When cooked, it blossoms, shedding its skin and fulfilling its full potential as a main player in any recipe, regardless of season. These two grains seem equally poised to be in a coming-of-age food tale as a grain salad.

Finish off the recipe with a simple lemon juice and olive oil dressing for a complementary zing of citrus. Don’t shy away from herbs and spices. The additional complexity of roughly chopped mint is surprising, but pairs perfectly with tangy feta. And if you’ve got garlic scapes, use them — all the time, everywhere, in every dish. Gaining a mastery of flavor layering is not easy. Trust your instincts and play up classic flavor matches with different flavors, textures and colors. And when in doubt, add edible flowers.

Summer Grain Salad
Serves 4

1 cup cooked couscous
1 cup cooked wild rice
½ cup sweet peas, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 bunch asparagus, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 small bunch radishes, thinly sliced
3 scallions, thinly sliced
½ cup fresh mint, roughly chopped
¼ cup garlic chives or scapes, minced
¼ cup crumbled feta
Zest of 1 lemon
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Lightly saute the peas, asparagus and radishes over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes.

2. Toss together the couscous, rice, vegetable mixture, scallions, zest and herbs until combined and set aside.

3. Whisk together the lemon juice and olive oil until emulsified. Drizzle over grain and vegetable mixture and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper and top with crumbled feta.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 06/26/17 at 04:52 PM • Permalink

Recipe: Death By Chocolate Mousse Pie

Contributor Lisa Fielding is a private chef and boutique caterer based in Manhattan who weekends in Litchfield County whenever possible. Many of her Manhattan clients are also Litchfield County weekenders, so work brings her to Northwest Connecticut as well. A Los Angeles transplant, Fielding was a former Hollywood film executive who segued into screenwriting several years ago, which enabled her to pursue her passion for food and entertaining. Lisa’s culinary skill set draws from a broad spectrum of dishes and ingredients.

The heat is on. Seriously. The weather went from chilly and rainy to hot, humid and hello summer overnight. I’m always on the lookout for cool and delicious recipes that don’t bring outside’s soaring temps inside. This recipe provides one of the most decadent, luscious and velvety chocolate experiences; requires little to no baking time; and finishes in the refrigerator to be served chilled at the table. Who doesn’t want a nice cold dessert on a hot evening?

Warning: This pie is so beyond addictive that you may want to make two, in order to have some the next morning with a strong cup of coffee. I made this last weekend in the country for clients and they were in a fugue state afterward, reeling from the chocolate high and sensorial joy of eating this pie. Plus, this truly falls under the category of “as easy as pie” when it comes to prep and assembly. I make mine in a regular pie plate, and advise a pie server and glass of water to clean the server when plating. It also starts to melt quickly, so get it on the table in a jiffy and put leftovers back in the fridge.

Death By Chocolate Mousse Pie
Serves: 8

1 package Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers
1/2 cup melted butter
1 cup heavy cream
14 oz. high-quality semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon Maldon sea salt
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup white sugar
1 cup heavy cream, chilled
1/4 cup white sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). 

2. In a food processor, pulse cookies and melted butter into a fine crumbly mixture. Press evenly into the bottom of a 9” pie plate. Bake in preheated oven for 5 minutes, and then allow to cool.

3. Combine 1 cup cream, chocolate, vanilla extract and salt in the top of a double boiler. Heat until chocolate is fully melted and mixture is smooth. Pour chocolate mixture into a bowl and place in the refrigerator until it cools to room temperature, about 20 minutes.

4. In a large bowl, beat 2 cups chilled cream with 1/4 cup sugar. Beat until stiff peaks form. Fold whipped cream into chocolate mixture. Pour mixture into cooled crust.

5. Chill pie at least 4 hours before serving. Prior to serving, beat remaining 1 cup cream with 1/4 cup sugar. Beat until stiff, then pipe onto top of pie with a star tip, or place a spoonful on top of each slice.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 06/19/17 at 07:40 PM • Permalink

Recipe: Spring Pasta With Parmesan And Lemon

One of our favorite events every summer is The Sylvia Center’s Farm-to-Table dinner, hosted by Great Performances in the fields of Katchkie Farm in Kinderhook, N.Y. The mission of The Sylvia Center is to inspire young people and their families to eat well through hands-on learning experiences on the farm and in the kitchen. Kristen Jovanelly, garden educator and manager at The Sylvia Center, offers us recipes the teenagers are learning to make.

At the Sylvia Center, we have a tried and true rule for our farm programs; you must have at least a “first taste.” Participants must try a little bit of each of the components we prepare and are encouraged to come back for more. With this Spring Pasta with Parmesan and Lemon, our first taste portions were greeted with skeptical looks and murmurings of “I already know I’m going to like it though…” The Girl Scouts at this program cleaned out the pan, with not one sole piece of farfalle left to tell the tale.

This pasta is simple, but everything is perfectly proportioned in the recipe so that each bite has a tantalizing coating of fresh, springtime flavors. Grating the first baby summer squashes of the season provides color and coats each piece of pasta with a delicate crunch. We suggest topping the pasta with edible flowers, too. It’s the perfect stage for chive blossoms to make their culinary debut if you’ve only passed by them warily in your garden before. They have a sweet taste with a subtle allium finish that’ll spice up many dishes in taste and presentation. Some of the Girl Scouts even popped a whole flower into their mouth, eyes widened with the permission to eat a real, intact, flower. Based on their subsequent reaction, The Sylvia Center staff would recommend chopping or tearing the flower, and sprinkling it lightly upon your dish. A little goes a long way!

Spring Pasta with Parmesan and Lemon
Serves 6-8


2 cups spinach, chiffonade
1 bunch asparagus, chopped into ½ pieces
1 summer squash, grated
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 medium onion, diced
Pinch of cayenne pepper flakes
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 lemon, zested and juiced
⅓ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 lb pasta

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to instructions or until al dente. Drain pasta, reserving ½ cup of the pasta water.

2. While pasta is cooking, bring a large skillet to medium-high heat. Once skillet is hot, add olive oil. When the oil is shimmering, add onions and pinch of cayenne pepper and saute until translucent (about 2-3 minutes). Add garlic and saute for an additional 2 minutes.

3. Add asparagus and saute until bright green. Add spinach and squash and saute until soft. Add the pasta and reserved pasta water. Simmer until the sauce has thickened. Add salt and pepper to taste.

4. Finish with fresh lemon juice, lemon zest and grated Parmesan.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 06/13/17 at 10:19 AM • Permalink

Recipe: The Best Texas Chili Ever

Contributor Lisa Fielding is a private chef and boutique caterer based in Manhattan who weekends in Litchfield County whenever possible. Many of her Manhattan clients are also Litchfield County weekenders, so work brings her to Northwest Connecticut as well. A Los Angeles transplant, Fielding was a former Hollywood film executive who segued into screenwriting several years ago, which enabled her to pursue her passion for food and entertaining. Lisa’s culinary skill set draws from a broad spectrum of dishes and ingredients.

There is a prevailing argument in the food world about what constitutes real chili, and it boils down to beans or no beans. Texans swear that a bowl of red comprises large chunks of beef, fresh chiles, and broth cooked into a rich, spicy concoction—with no tomatoes, I might add. Almost everywhere else, chili is made from ground beef, beans, and a tomato-based sauce.

I approach chili as if it were a Venn diagram, borrowing from both approaches but never following either to the letter. I cannot imagine chili without beans, and I would never make chili with ground beef. When I make chili it’s a several-hour event that requires a good amount of prep and cooking time. Where I become a militant chili chef and resident know-it-all on all things chili is that chuck is the only beef suitable for making the best bowl of chili, and this I will go to war over. In fact, chili wars, competitions, and cook-offs are legendary events held around the world, from the small county fair to the urban food festival, because cooks and chefs are that passionate about their chili recipes.

(And just to clarify for the uninitiated: chile refers to the pepper and chili to the actual dish. This distinction will keep you from scratching your head when you decide to enter a local chili competition and write down your own tried-and-true recipe.)

So why, you ask, is a bowl of beef, smothered in a delectable sauce and served with either cornbread or tortillas so incredibly delicious, satisfying, and addictive? Well, according to the International Chili Society, “Perhaps it is the effect of capsicum spices upon man’s mind; for, in the immortal words of Joe DeFrates, the only man ever to win the National and the World Chili Championships, ‘Chili powder makes you crazy.’”

I’m not sure that lunacy accurately defines the effect that chili has on a person when digging into a bowl of the aromatic sauce, succulent meat chunks, and subsequent heat that accompanies each bite, but my own paternal grandfather, Rennon Preston Fielding, used to remark, “Put a bowl of Texas chili on my head and I’ll slap my brains out getting my hands on it.” My papa, as well, was no stranger to expressing himself hyperbolically — the bigger the better. He was Texan, after all.

So I invite you to pull out your big chili pot, spend several hours in the kitchen, invite a group of your favorite friends over, and feast on my version of the best Texas chili in the world. And if you know this guy Joe DeFrates, invite him over, too. I’m sure he’ll agree that my chili is better than his!

Texas Chili
Serves 8

When working with chile peppers, always wear rubber gloves and be careful not to touch your eyes or skin. Wash cutting boards and utensils in hot soapy water before reusing.

Prepare the Meat
1/2 cup bacon grease
5 lb. chuck roast, trimmed, cubed, and seasoned with salt and pepper on all sides.
2 tsp. salt for seasoning the meat
2 tsp. ground black pepper for seasoning the meat

Prepare the Chili
1 large white onion, chopped
3 large jalapeño or serrano peppers, stemmed, seeded, and chopped
5 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
2 Tbs. chili powder
1 Tbs. ground cumin
2 tsp. Mexican oregano
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. ground black pepper
1 32-oz. can chopped tomatoes
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 12-oz. bottle quality beer, such as Sam Adams
2 oz. tequila
3 poblano chiles, roasted, peeled, seeded, and chopped
3 chipotle chiles in adobo, chopped
8 cups beef stock
1 16-oz. can black beans, rinsed
1 16-oz. can red kidney beans, rinsed
1 16-oz. can pinto beans, rinsed

Garnish
Minced fresh cilantro leaves
Lime wedges
Sour cream
Serve with warmed flour and corn tortillas

1. In a large heavy pot (such as a cast-iron Dutch oven), heat about a third of the bacon grease over medium heat. Add part of the meat in a single layer and sear until the pieces are browned on all sides. Remove to a bowl and repeat, adding bacon grease and single-layer batches of beef until all the meat has been browned.

2 With the heat still on medium, add the onions and jalapeños and cook until wilted, 5 minutes. Next, add the garlic and chili powder and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the cumin, oregano, salt and cook until fragrant, about a minute. Add the canned tomatoes and heat for another minute. Add the brown sugar and cook until dissolved. Add the beer and tequila and cook, stirring, to deglaze the pan. Add the poblanos, chipotles and adobo sauce, and the beef stock, stir well, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and add all of the beef chunks. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover the pot, and cook until the meat is very tender, up to 3 hours, stirring occasionally. Add the rinsed beans to the pot. Cook for another 30 minutes to heat through.

3. The chili should be thick, extremely fragrant, and deep mahogany in color. Ladle into bowls and garnish each with cilantro, a wedge of lime, and a dollop of sour cream. Serve with a stack of warmed flour and corn tortillas.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 06/06/17 at 02:00 PM • Permalink

Recipe: Apple, Rhubarb And Ginger Mini Tarts

One of our favorite events every summer is The Sylvia Center’s Farm-to-Table dinner, hosted by Great Performances in the fields of Katchkie Farm in Kinderhook, N.Y. The mission of The Sylvia Center is to inspire young people and their families to eat well through hands-on learning experiences on the farm and in the kitchen. Kristen Jovanelly, garden educator and manager at The Sylvia Center, offers us recipes the teenagers are learning to make.

Of all the desserts to come out of the Sylvia Center kitchen, these tarts may be the most impressive. That’s because these apple, rhubarb and ginger mini tarts achieve the most perfect crunch-to-soft ratio of any 15-minute venture in the kitchen we’ve seen. The mini tarts allow everyone sharing in the meal to have an individual serving, requiring no messy and maddening knife decapitation of your once-pristine phyllo. Up the ginger in the recipe if you want to give your tarts a bit more of a bite especially since softening rhubarb in the butter really mellows the natural kick of rhubarb. These crispy tarts are an excellent way to showcase any number of seasonal fruits, or vegetables. Trust us, always make more than you think you’ll need, by double, or even triple. Light dessert mini tarts will have even the most reluctant dessert folks reaching for more!

Apple, Rhubarb And Ginger Mini Tarts
Serves 6


3-4 large apples, peeled and diced
4-5 stalks of rhubarb, diced
1 tsp fresh ginger (½” approximately), grated
4 tablespoons maple syrup
4 tablespoons of butter, separated
1 package of Phyllo dough (Note: buy night before and defrost in refrigerator.)
Cooking spray

1. Preheat the oven to 400° F. Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray.

2. Heat butter in a pan and melt slowly to avoid browning. Pour half of melted butter into a small bowl.

3. Add apples, rhubarb, and ginger to pan. Sauté fruit mixture in the residual butter until soft. Add maple syrup to desired taste. 

4. Following instructions on box for handling phyllo dough, stack the sheets of phyllo dough and cut into 12 equal squares. Grab two sheets and brush some butter on the top sheet; stack two sheets and press them into a cup of muffin tin. Add a spoonful of the fruit mixture into each muffin cup.

5. Bake 7-10 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool on rack and serve.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 05/30/17 at 09:57 AM • Permalink

Recipe: Leek Zucchini Fritters

Contributor Lisa Fielding is a private chef and boutique caterer based in Manhattan who weekends in Litchfield County whenever possible. Many of her Manhattan clients are also Litchfield County weekenders, so work brings her to Northwest Connecticut as well. A Los Angeles transplant, Fielding was a former Hollywood film executive who segued into screenwriting several years ago, which enabled her to pursue her passion for food and entertaining. Lisa’s culinary skill set draws from a broad spectrum of dishes and ingredients.

My job requires a lot of research, invention and creativity. I am always on the hunt for inspiration from cookbooks, my Instagram feed (devoted almost entirely to food), online recipes and, of course, what I like to eat. I have regular clients who also rely on me to bring innovative and delicious dishes to the table so they never have to bemoan the familiarity of what’s plated before them.  One client in particular enjoys an array of canapés before they sit down to dinner so there are times when I’m agonizing for just the right appetizer. At this point, I could write the ultimate appetizer bible. 

Last week was no different and I was so thrilled with these delectable morsels of goodness, layers of flavor and texture that they had to take center stage in my article. Introducing the ultimate leek/zucchini fritter as inspired by the great Ottolenghi. Words of caution: these are time consuming.  Or rather, a little complicated — but all of the steps insure that you won’t end up with a runny batter that will disintegrate when it hits the hot fryer. Instead, these fritters puff up and the end result is a doughy but not heavy poof stuffed with a medley of vegetables and exotic spices. Make these for your next cocktail soiree and I promise you will thank me in the morning. 

Leek & Zucchini Fritters
Makes around 3 dozen 2-inch diameter fritters. 

Adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s “Plenty”

For the sauce:
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 cup sour cream
1 heaping tbl Dijon mustard
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp. Sriracha sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup finely chopped Italian parsley leaves
¼ cup snipped chives
¼ cup finely chopped cilantro leaves
¼ cup chopped capers

For the fritters:
3 medium leeks (I used red leeks), rinsed, dried, sliced in quarters and thinly sliced again
5 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
1 large zucchini cut into small dice
4 tbl olive oil
1 cup canola oil for frying
1/2 cup Italian parsley, finely chopped
¼ cup snipped chives
3/4 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 egg white
1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 tbl baking powder
1 large egg
2/3 cup milk
5 tbl unsalted butter, melted


Start by making the sauce. Put all the sauce ingredients into the bowl of a food processor except for the capers, blitz together until a uniform green, then turn into a decorative bowl for serving. Turn in the capers.

Over medium heat, sauté the leeks, shallots and zucchini in the olive oil until soft, about 15 minutes. Then transfer to a bowl and add the parsley, spices, sugar and salt. Leave to cool.

Whisk the egg white to soft peaks and fold it into the vegetables. In another bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, egg, milk and butter to form a batter. Gently mix this into the egg white and vegetable mixture.

Place ¾ of the canola oil in a frying pan over medium heat about 4 minutes. To test, drop a bit of batter in the oil, if it sizzles and floats, oil is ready. Using a small spoon, drop the mixture (about 2 teaspoons at a time) into the pan and fry for two to three minutes a side, until golden and crisp. Transfer to cookie sheet covered with a double paper towel and repeat, adding oil as needed, until the mixture is used up. Serve warm with the sauce on the side. This goes great with a chilled Sancerre or Rose.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 05/23/17 at 08:27 PM • Permalink

Recipe: Strawberry Galette

One of our favorite events every summer is The Sylvia Center’s Farm-to-Table dinner, hosted by Great Performances in the fields of Katchkie Farm in Kinderhook, N.Y. The mission of The Sylvia Center is to inspire young people and their families to eat well through hands-on learning experiences on the farm and in the kitchen. Jenn So, director of programs at The Sylvia Center, offers us recipes the teenagers are learning to make.

Depending on whom you talk to, the word “galette” may evoke different imaginings. Galette may signify a papery and savory buckwheat pancake traditional of salty French shores, a Belgian waffle, or, in our case, a free-form tart. Galettes are a way to showcase both sweet and savory fillings without having to reach to the top shelf for your pie plates. Remember — the trick to a good crumbly crust is dough made with cold butter and water that has been minimally worked. Unlike bread dough, pastry dough only gets worked until it comes together into dough form, crumbles included. In our garden, our strawberry plants have been showcasing their delicate white flowers so we’ve been dreaming of strawberry treats to come. The crispy galette dough framing soft and fragrant strawberries is sure to please your audience, even if their galette isn’t necessarily the same as your galette!

Strawberry Galette
Serves 6-8

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, cut into small (1/2-inch) cubes, chilled
¼ cup of ice water (maybe more)
1 ½ pounds strawberries hulled and half
4 tablespoons sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon flour

1. Preheat oven to 425° F.
2. If using a food processor, pulse the flour, sugar and salt until well mixed. Add the cubed butter, and pulse 8 times until the butter is pea-sized. If mixing by hand, whisk together dry ingredients and then cut butter into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter, fork or your fingers until the butter is pea-sized.
3. Slowly add the ice water, a tablespoon or two at a time, combining after each addition, until the dough just begins to clump.
4. Turn out the dough onto a clean surface. Use your hands to form into a disc. Do not over-knead. Sprinkle with a little flour on all sides, wrap in plastic and place in the refrigerator to chill for at least 30 minutes.
5. Toss strawberries with sugar and flour to coat.
6. Whisk the egg in small bowl and set aside.
7. On a lightly floured, clean, smooth surface, roll out the dough to form a 12-inch diameter disc. Gently lift up the rolled-out dough and place it on a rimmed baking sheet.
8. Arrange the strawberry pieces in a single layer in the center of the dough, forming about a 7- or 8-inch circle. Fold the outer edges of the dough round over the filling by about 2 inches all the way around. Use a pastry brush to coat the dough with an egg wash. Sprinkle with sugar.
9. Place in the oven and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, until nicely browned. Remove from the oven and let cool on the baking sheet, over a rack, about 15 minutes before slicing.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 05/16/17 at 09:09 AM • Permalink