chicken parmesan

I tried Bon Appétit’s Best Chicken Parm recipe and here’s what happened.

Who doesn’t love Chicken Parmesan? Seriously. I’ve personally never met anyone. It is, by far, one of my absolute favorite foods. I love a crunchy cutlet smothered in a delicious, slightly sweet sauce and oozing all over with mozzarella cheese. Life is just that much better when I am eating a good chicken parm. However, since no restaurant seems to be able to make Chicken Parmesan very well, I have to make it myself when we want it.

Proper parm needs to be homemade, and made with love.

It’s taken me years to master my recipe and, until yesterday, I would have sworn up and down mine was “the best.” Turns out, I was wrong. There’s a better recipe out there than mine.

Do you have any idea how hard that is for me to admit?! It’s really hard! But I can’t deny the truth and the truth is in the taste.

Here is how this all started:

I listened to a podcast from Bon Appétit’s test kitchen about The Best Chicken Parm. (Yep, I listen to podcasts about food. The obsession is real.) It’s from their “BA’s Best” series. They basically tested every possible variation including different thicknesses (down to the quarter inch), all varieties of breadcrumbs, a variety of seasonings in the dredging station, different frying oils and depths, a wide variety of sauces including style and thickness, cheese variations and finally, how best to cook the final dish to bring it all together. It was seriously intense! The series of tests resulted in a recipe that pretty much goes against everything I stand for (or stood for) in my chicken parm. This was incredibly disturbing and equally intriguing. So I literally went to the store that night and the next day, I followed the Bon Appétit recipe exactly. I was skeptical the entire time. It all felt so wrong!

My reaction to my first bite was something like “Holy F#@*!! THIS. IS. AMAZING. HOW? How can this be so good? Why can’t I stop eating? OMG, I feel sick because I can’t stop eating. Self- you must stop eating!” But I couldn’t. I just kept eating. I was pulled in by the depth of flavor and textures and it just kept pulling me back in for more.

Bon Appétit has done it. They found chicken parm perfection. It’s a totally different recipe and technique than I have prided myself on for 20+ years. But now, I’m part of the parm revolution.

What’s the trick to this incredible chicken?

A few key things separate this parm from the rest of the pack.

  1. The number one difference is marinating the chicken in EVOO, lemon juice, garlic and salt before dredging in flour, egg and breadcrumbs. I would have never thought to marinate the chicken and put a wet cutlet directly into the flour before this recipe. Never. But it makes all the difference.
  2. Cutlet thickness. I have always, always believed in the thinest cutlet possible. But using a cutlet 1/3 inch thick results in a much juicier cutlet. This is one area where I’m not totally sold yet. But it was damn juicy!
  3. Next, they call for panko and I’ve always been an advocate for classic Italian seasoned breadcrumbs. The panko really did create an incredible crunch that held up to the sauce. It felt wrong doing it, and frankly, is a lot more work to get the panko to adhere evenly, but it was worth it.
  4. finally, the next significant difference was the frying. I’ve always believed in a shallow pan fry for my cutlets and Bon Appetite went more in the deep fry approach meaning using enough oil in a dutch oven to ensure the cutlets floated and didn’t make contact with the bottom of the pot which prevented uneven browning. The result was a perfectly even golden brown crust.

This recipe is work- there is no denying it. However, chicken parm usually is and this is exactly why you can’t get good chicken parm from a restaurant. The good news is you can do several steps in advance such as make the sauce 1-2 days before & grate cheese the day before. And you can even bread the cutlets up to a few hours in advance. They need to sit for at least an hour after breading anyway, so it’s better to do it few hours earlier, clean up the mess and then all you need to do is fry and assemble when its time to eat. My advise is to read the recipe & break it down into manageable steps so it’s not an all day affair.

Feaster’s Tip:

In the original recipe, you are instructed to butterfly the chicken and pound it producing one very large piece of chicken. I think it makes it way too big and much harder to work with. It’s the one step in the recipe I really do not agree with. I did butterfly one to try it, but I decided to stick to halving the cutlets lengthwise, producing two equal breasts and then pounding them to 1/3 inch thick. I found it not only easier to work with, but more enjoyable to eat.

Spaghetti with tomatoes & basil

This is an all-star of a recipe and one of my absolute favorites, especially in the summer months. It highlights the best of the summer garden- fresh cherry tomatoes & fragrant basil.

It’s a dish that has the ability to transport me to somewhere in Italy in the summertime. (Where? I don’t know- but it’s my daydream- feel free to share in my imaginary trip!) It’s fresh, vibrant and surprisingly light. Serve with a glass of crisp, white wine and you too, will be transported to land of delicious simplicity.

I use homemade spaghetti which is very thin and light, but if you aren’t up for making your own pasta dough, just use angel hair or capellini.

Fresh Spaghetti with Tomatoes & Basil
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
5 mins
 
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: pasta
Ingredients
  • 2 pints cherry tomatoes halved
  • Good olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic 6 cloves
  • 18 large basil leaves julienned, plus extra for serving
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 pound angel hair pasta capellini, or fresh spaghetti
  • 1 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese plus extra for serving
Instructions
  1. Combine the cherry tomatoes, ½ cup olive oil, garlic, basil leaves, red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon salt, and the pepper in a large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and set aside at room temperature for about 4 hours.
  2. Just before you’re ready to serve, bring a large pot of water with 2 tablespoons salt to a boil.
  3. Heat the the tomato mixture in a large (12-inch) saute pan and cook on medium-low and cook for about 3 minutes minutes, tossing occasionally, until the tomatoes begin to soften but don’t break up. You just want to heat through.
  4. Time this with when you add your pasta to the boiling water which also only takes 2-3 minutes according to package instructions. Drain the pasta well (I prefer to pull with tongs rather than dump into a colander, reserving the pasta water.
  5. Add the pasta to the bowl with the cherry tomatoes. Add the cheese and some extra fresh basil leaves and toss well. Serve with extra cheese on each serving.
Recipe Notes

*If the pasta is dry, add a dash of pasta water to loosen up and make more of a sauce. You can also add a dash of more of olive oil if necessary. (Every pasta is a different. You need to use a little judgement.) 

Grilled Shrimp

Simplicity is the best route in cooking and this is one of those recipes that reminds you of just that.

Fun fact about me – I love Key West, Florida! I really enjoy traveling, but there is also something comforting and relaxing about returning to a place that you get to know & we seem to not be able to stop going back to Key West- every chance we get. What does this have to do with grilled shrimp? Well, one of my absolute favorite things to do when I am in Key West is to saddle up on a bar stool at the Conch Republic at the A&B Marina and sit for hours with pile after pile of Peel & Eat shrimp. I find Peel & Eats therapeutic! I can sit there all day just peeling, eating & drinking!

Since I can’t get to Key West whenever I want my favorite peel & eats, I had to find a good recipe to make them at home. I found not only one of the best grilled shrimp recipes, but also one of the easiest! However, like all things, you need to start with good shrimp. I find it quite horrifying by the amount of unpronounceable ingredients listed on super market brand farmed shrimps, which are sadly what is served at most restaurants due to accessibility and cost. I am very lucky to be able to source good, fresh shrimp most of the year from a few different vendors in my local area of Greenwich, CT & Westchester, NY. These are shrimp that have one ingredient- shrimp.

This recipe only requires a few ingredients – extra virgin olive oil, kosher salt, pepper & lemon. For dipping sauce, I like to make a blended herb mixture, but you also can’t go wrong with a classic cocktail sauce or seafood remoulade.

Having made these now several times for friends I get the same reaction every time – WOW! Why are these so good?! The answer is simple – sometimes simplicity is the best route in cooking, and this is one of those dishes that reminds you of just that.

Grilled Peel & Eat Shrimp
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
6 mins
 
Course: Appetizer, tapas
Cuisine: International
Keyword: gluten free, keto, seafood, shellfish, shrimp
Servings: 3 people
Ingredients
  • 16 Good quality jumbo shrimp deveined in shell, raw
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 2 lemons halved
Instructions
  1. Preheat grill over high heat.
  2. Butterfly shrimp by slicing almost through lengthwise, but leave shell on shrimp. (This will keep the shrimp tender while grilling.)
  3. Brush shrimps with oil, season with salt and pepper.
  4. Grill shrimp for 2 minutes on each side, until shells are hot pink and shrimp is opaque. (They will continue to cook off the grill so do not over cook!)
  5. Place lemons on the grill, cut side down, for the last minute. The heat will release the juice from the lemons. To serve, squeeze grilled lemon wedges over shrimp.
  6. Serve alone, with cocktail sauce, remoulade, or chimichurri sauce.

  7. Peel and eat!
Italian pasta salad

This is not your traditional pasta salad. It’s way better.

I grew up with the classic Italian pasta salad being served at every party. You know the one…tri-color pasta tossed with cubes of salami, red & green peppers, black olives (the kind in the can), provolone and everything is covered in bottled Italian dressing. I have eaten this pasta salad enough in my day that I am more than happy to never eat it again, and haven’t considered making it in years, but I recently came across a recipe that made me fall back in love with Italian pasta salad and it’s SO much better!

Italian pasta salad

I came across this recipe while watching an episode of America’s Test Kitchen where they discussed the common problems with traditional pasta salad such as soggy vegetables, tasteless dressings, texture inconsistency, lack of creativity, and uneven distribution of ingredients. The ingredients, while similar to the more common Italian pasta salad described above, are much more robust and elevated. They referred to the ingredients in this salad as “antipasti inspired” and I love that!

The dressing is made from garlic and anchovy infused extra virgin olive oil that is then blended with spicy pepperoncini peppers & salty capers. It’s delicious! It is all then tossed with antipasti inspired ingredients like olives, sundered tomatoes, mozzarella and salami.

A note on anchovies. I know I probably just turned a lot of people off from this recipe with that scary word “anchovy,” but you have no idea how often anchovies are used in restaurant cooking, dressings and condiments and you don’t even know it. In the case of this pasta salad, they melt into the oil and you won’t even know they are there but you will notice the depth of umami that the anchovy brings to the party. I don’t understand these people who hate on anchovies, but if you are one of them, I think you just need to get over it. You’re missing a world of flavor.

Feaster’s Tip:

I agree with America’s Test kitchen’s recommendation on selecting salami. We both prefer a small, individually packaged, dry Italian-style salami. However if it is unavailable, you can ask the deli counter for thick cuts of Genoa salami and then cube it. But the quality is of cold cut style salami is not as good as individual packaged sausage style salamis.

Italian Pasta Salad
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
 
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 8 people (side dish)
Author: Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen
Ingredients
  • 1 pound fusilli
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3-5 garlic cloves minced (depends on your tolerance for garlic.)
  • 5-6 anchovy fillets rinsed, patted dry, and minced
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup pepperoncini stemmed, plus 2 tablespoons brine
  • 3 tablespoons capers rinsed
  • 2 ounces 2 cups baby arugula
  • 1 cup chopped fresh basil
  • ½ cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes sliced thin
  • ½ cup pitted kalamata olives quartered
  • 8 ounces salami cut into ⅜-inch dice
  • 16 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese cut into ⅜-inch dice and patted dry
Instructions
  1. Slice half of pepperoncini into thin rings and set aside.
  2. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Add pasta and 1 tablespoon salt and cook, stirring often, until pasta is tender. Drain pasta and rinse under cold water until chilled. Drain well and transfer to large bowl.
  3. Meanwhile, combine oil, garlic, anchovies, and pepper flakes in a small sauce pan over a gentle heat just until bubbling. Remove from heat. DO NOT OVERCOOK. Set aside. (The purpose of this is just to infuse the oil with flavor and melt the anchovies.)
  4. Transfer the whole pepperoncini to food processor. Add capers and pulse until finely chopped, 8 to 10 pulses, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add pepperoncini brine and warm oil mixture and process until combined, about 20 seconds.
  5. Add dressing to pasta and toss to combine. Add tomatoes, olives, salami, mozzarella, and pepperoncini rings and toss well. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Right before serving, toss with arugula & basil.
Recipe Notes

Make ahead – Salad can be refrigerated for up to 3 days but do not add the basil or arugula. Let the salad come to room temperature and then toss the arugula and basil right before serving.

Salsa

Salsa rocks! It’s spicy, tangy, refreshing and bursting with fresh flavor.

Sure, it’s easy to buy a jar from the market, but there is nothing quite like making it fresh, especially in summer when tomatoes and cilantro are easily found fresh and local, or maybe even in your own backyard!

It’s a real treat to kick back in the yard with a cold beer, chips and homemade salsa!

Salsa
Prep Time
30 mins
Total Time
30 mins
 
Course: Appetizer, condiment
Cuisine: Mexican
Servings: 4 people
Ingredients
  • 1 1/4 lbs ripe Roma tomatoes about 5 – 6
  • 1 14.5 oz can petite diced tomatoes*
  • 2 green onions (scallions) ends trimmed, chopped into thirds
  • 1/3 cup chopped onion
  • 1 jalapeno pepper seeded and roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1 large clove garlic roughly chopped
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp granulated sugar optional / to taste (not need when tomatoes are in season)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. With the machine running, drop the garlic and jalapeño through the feed tube to finely chop.

  2. Add the onion, and pulse to chop, about 3 pulses.

  3. Add the remaining ingredients and pulse to chop until desired consistency is reached, about 8 to 10 pulses. You want to make sure the ingredients are chopped, NOT pureed. Texture is key! Taste and adjust seasoning accordingly. Depending on desired consistency, strain salsa to remove excess liquid.

corn & basil salad

Featured in Greenwich Lifestyle magazine – July 2020

Everyone loves corn in the summer- it’s sweet, savory, and genuinely makes people happy!

We are all familiar with the preparation of the summer classic “corn on the cob” but an even better way to highlight this popular summer vegetable is is to make a beautiful, bright corn salad.

Corn & Basil Salad
Few things represent summer more than fresh corn and basil

This simple, delicious recipe is sure to be the star side dish at your next bar-b-que. (Better still, it’s a great way to use up all that basil that is starting to peak!) Corn & basil salad is a fantastic way to highlight the best of our local summer produce and herbs. The perfect complement to any summer gathering.

Feaster’s Tip: You can make it ahead. Here is how.

  1. Cook, prep & refrigerate the corn.
  2. In a separate container, make the dressing, omitting the basil, and refrigerate.
  3. About an hour before serving the salad, dress the corn being careful not to overdress (you may have extra dressing).
  4. Right before serving add the basil so it stays crisp and retains its color.
Corn & Basil Salad
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
5 mins
Total Time
20 mins
 

Corn and Basil salad is the perfect side dish for a your next barbecue

Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Servings: 5
Ingredients
  • 5 ears of corn shucked clean
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup julienned fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cup halved grape tomatoes (optional)
Instructions
  1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the corn for 3 minutes until the starchiness is just gone. Drain and immerse it in ice water to stop the cooking and to set the color. When the corn is cool, cut the kernels off the cob, cutting close to the cob.
  2. Mix together in small bowl vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  3. Gently combine kernels (and tomatoes, if using) with the vinaigrette.

  4. Just before serving, toss in the fresh basil. Taste for seasonings and serve cold or at room temperature.

crab cake

Featured in Greenwich Lifestyle magazine – July 2020

Summer never tasted so good!

Few things are better than dining al fresco in the summer months with friends, enjoying some fresh seafood and a glass of crisp white wine (or two!) At your next summer soiree consider serving delicious homemade crab cakes and a seasonal corn & basil salad.

Crab Cakes on sheet pan
These crab cakes are pure crab and guaranteed to satisfy!

Stand out crab cakes, like most delectable dishes, come down to the ingredients that are in them. Store bought crab cakes use an abundance of fillers like celery, onion, red & yellow peppers, hearty amounts of breadcrumbs, and in many cases, contain several types of preservatives. They are also often made with back fin meat, which although more cost effective, has a more minced texture and a stronger sea flavor than lump or jumbo lump.

When making your own crab cakes you get to control what goes into them, and the results are superior to any pre-made options. So leave the vegetables like the onions, celery & peppers out, and save them for the side dish. Seasoning should elevate the delicate crab flavor and not disguise or commandeer the dish. And most important of all, use fresh, good quality crab meat. This approach will guarantee a delighted table of guests and you’ll be the star of the summer hosts!

You want a good crab cakes? Use good crab. It’s just that simple.

Crab Cake Benedict
My absolute favorite bunch is homemade Crab Cakes Benedict and a glass of champagne!

Fortunately, in the Greenwich and surrounding New England area, we are able to source fresh crab fairly easily. You can find it in all the local fish shops or specialty markets.

You’ll want to ask for lump or jumbo lump – the choice is yours. Jumbo lump will produce cakes with large pieces of crab and more texture, whereas lump will provide a more even consistency throughout. It’s all a matter of personal preference.

Tips:

  • To make this recipe gluten free, substitute Ritz crackers for gluten free butter crackers.
  • Crab cakes are versatile- serve them sandwich style, as an entree, make crab cake eggs Benedict, or make them mini for appetizer bites!
  • Use a circular cookie cutter and pack your crab inside the ring, and then lift the ring carefully for a perfectly shaped cake.
Crab cakes
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
6 mins
Total Time
26 mins
 

This crab cake recipe is all about the crab and none of fillers. Be sure to use fresh crab to best results! 

Cuisine: Seafood
Ingredients
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 heaping tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • Few drops of fresh lemon juice not to exceed 1/4 teaspoon
  • 1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup crushed Ritz crackers
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 pound fresh crabmeat (drained, patted dry an picked over for shells or cartilage)
  • Non-stick cooking spray
Instructions
  1. In a medium bowl, combine the egg, mayonnaise, mustard, Worcestershire, Tabasco, lemon juice, Old Bay, salt and pepper. Mix so that all the ingredients are well-incorporated.
  2. Add the cracker crumbs and parsley and mix well.
  3. Gently fold in crabmeat until just combined (try not to break up lumps of crabmeat too much).

  4. Using slightly wet hands, shape mixture into patties or use a round cookie cutter to pack and shape.

  5. Put the crab cakes on a baking sheet lined with parchment as they're shaped. Cover loosely with foil and refrigerate for 1 hour before cooking.

  6. Set oven on broil at 450. Spray a baking sheet with non stick spray and use a spatula to place crab cakes on tray and place in oven on medium height rack.

  7. Cook for about 5 minutes or until golden brown. (Keep an eye on them- every broiler cooks differently. If they are burning rather than browning, move them down to a lower rack.)

  8. Serve with lemon and tartar sauce, or seafood remoulade.

red pepper pasta

After successfully making spinach pasta dough for the first time last week, I decided to try using the same approach to make Roasted Red Pepper pasta. I am happy to say it was a total success and is now my current pasta obsession. I loved the aroma and the subtle smoky sweetness of this pasta.

640red pepper pasta

While recently making the spinach dough (which was my first time making a vegetable infused pasta dough) I learned that it required more flour than I had expected to balance out the wet vegetable. So with this batch I knew to start with a hearty amount of flour and that proved correct. Learning and applying that knowledge to each batch of pasta is the real addiction. It never ends. Each batch teaches me something new.

I started by draining 1 jar of piquillo peppers on paper towel and then pureed them in the food processor. I then used a nut milk bag to drain & squeeze out any excess liquid.

Note: I could have squeezed even more liquid out, but I suspected it would result in loosing too much pulp because of how thin and fragile the pulp is. So I just had to use some judgement on how hard to squeeze out the excess moisture and then stopped when I felt I got the bulk of the liquid out.

The recipe I ended up using for this pasta project was:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour (225g)
  • .5 cup semolina (75g)
  • 1/2 cup pureed peppers, drained of all excess liquid
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • After mixing, added a dash more flour. 

After the dough sat for about an hour, I rolled half this pasta into sheets at room temperature and then refrigerated the other half. Several hours later I rolled the cold dough and determined it was not only better to work with after having some time to set up in fridge, but even the aroma & flavor was enhanced. 

It’s a wetter dough then a basic flour dough, so you MUST flouring the dough in between rolling numbers to prevent sticking and ripping. 

roasted red pepper ravioli

I started making the raviolis in a jumbo ravioli tray, but the dough was too elastic and they sank too deep. That method went right out the window. The best ravioli option for this dough turned out to be using two sized cookie cutters and forming the ravioli’s individually.

This pasta dough made delicious raviolis that I filled with spinach and homemade ricotta cheese and it was really great! I very much liked the addition of color, flavor and use of two vegetables in the dish. (3 in you include tomato sauce!) This makes it both healthier and tastier!

Enchiladas

Enchiladas are have two main components that need to be prepared; the enchilada sauce & the enchilada filling.

First, let’s talk sauce

Simply put, enchiladas are only as good as the enchilada sauce that smothers them. And since I love chicken enchiladas, I had no choice but to find a great recipe for enchilada sauce. So that’s what I set out to do. I tested countless recipes, compared homemade versions to pre-made versions, I tried it all until I was satisfied with what is now my forever enchilada sauce recipe. That’s the recipe you’ll find below.

Now, how ’bout that filling?

Enchilada’s can be made with just cheese, beans, pork filling, etc etc etc. I make them two ways- one version is insanely laborious and it only makes an appearance once- twice a year. Whereas the version I call “Easy Enchiladas” is on regular rotation around here. To make Easy Enchiladas I use my 3 ingredient slow cooker salsa chicken as the filling. (It doesn’t get easier than that recipe!) Once you have the chicken filling ready to go and the sauce made, it’s time to assemble.

Time to roll.

  1. Use a basting brush to create a layer of enchilada sauce on a baking sheet
  2. Roll the shredded chicken into store bought tortillas and position side by side. (I like to buy tortillas that are a corn / flour blend. If I can’t find those, I use pure corn tortillas which are both authentic and gluten free.)
  3. Top with enchilada sauce, smother with cheese. Bake at 375 until cheese is melted and enchiladas are heated through.
  4. Serve with sour cream, sliced jalapeños and your favorite hot sauce.

Feaster’s Tips:

Enchiladas can be made in entirely in advance up until baking time. They are are one of my favorite dishes to prepare and bring over to a friend’s house with a pitcher of margaritas!

Enchilada Sauce
Prep Time
3 mins
Cook Time
7 mins
 
Course: sauce
Cuisine: Mexican
Servings: 2 Cups
Ingredients
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 tablespoon ground chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon salt – to taste
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 cups chicken broth (can use vegetable broth too!)
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • Freshly ground black pepper – to taste
Instructions
  1. Combine all the dry ingredients into a small bowl and set aside.
  2. Measure out tomato paste and broth.
  3. Heat a medium-sized sauce pan over medium heat and warm the oil until it’s it’s hot enough that a light sprinkle of the flour/spice mixture sizzles on contact. (Never leave your oil or it will overheat!)
  4. Once ready, whisk in the dry ingredients to the oil and cook until fragrant and slightly deepened in color, about 1 minute.
  5. Whisk the tomato paste. Then slowly pour in the broth while whisking constantly to remove any lumps.
  6. Raise heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a simmer, then reduce heat as necessary to maintain a gentle simmer.
  7. Cook, whisking often, for about 5 to 7 minutes, until the sauce has thickened slightly and a spoon encounters some resistance as you stir it. (The sauce will thicken some more as it cools.)
  8. Remove from heat, then whisk in the vinegar and season to taste with freshly ground black pepper. Add salt to taste.

Recipe Notes

Enchilada sauce will keep well in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Or, freeze it for up to 3 months. Let it cool to room temperature before transferring to refrigerator or freezer. 

As featured in Greenwich Lifestyle magazine- June 2020

Few men (and women!) can resist a good all beef burger! However, there is a big difference between a good burger and great burger. A great burger is well seasoned, juicy, and oozing with flavors that elevate the beef rather than disguising it. There is no argument that beef pairs very well with onions and red wine, which is exactly what this recipe uses to take this burger to a whole new level!

greenwich lifestyle mag cover

The secret ingredient to this blissful burger is an onion jam that is caramelized with a hearty red wine, red pepper chili flakes, fresh thyme, salt & pepper. The onions are cooked on low and quite slow, which creates an almost jam like consistency, perfect for spreading on a burger. These onions are savory, sweet, salty & spicy which is a winning combination on beef.

To make this burger, there are three steps. First, you must make the onions, which can be made up to three days in advance. Next, once the onions are ready, it’s time to cook and assemble the burger. The final step to this burger is to pair with a good bottle of red wine, kick back and enjoy!

Step 1: make the onion jam

Ingredients

  • 2 large red onions, sliced 1/4 inch
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup hearty red wine, such as cabernet.
  • 3 thyme sprigs
  • 1.5 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper chili flakes
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper

*The onion jam can be made up to 3 days in advance, or can be frozen for up to 3 months.

This recipe yields about 1 cup of onion jam.

Directions

Heat a heavy bottom dutch oven or a skillet pan over medium heat. Add the olive oil. Add the onions and stir to coat for about 3 minutes. Set the heat to low and stir occasionally for about 30-35 minutes. (Be sure to adjust the heat up or down as needed. The onions should not brown, they should slowly “melt.”)

Once the onions are soft and the white parts have become translucent, Add the red wine, salt, pepper, red chili flakes and sugar. Stir to combine. Raise heat to medium-high heat and bring the mixture to a boil. Gently boil for about 3-5 minutes until all the liquid has evaporated. Taste for seasoning. The onions should be tender, sweet & spicy.

Step 2: Make the burger

Ingredients

  • All beef burger patty(s)
  • Brioche buns
  • Aged cheddar cheese
  • Arugula
  • Dijon mustard
  • Kosher salt & fresh ground pepper
  • Onion jam

Directions

Season fresh beef burgers with kosher salt & fresh ground pepper on both sides. Grill to a medium rare temperature (or desired doneness). Melt a generous amount of aged, sharp cheddar cheese on top. Remove burgers from the grill to a sheet pan and tent with foil. Let the burgers rest for 3-5 minutes. (Don’t skip this step!) Meanwhile, heat the onion mixture & lightly grill burger buns.

To assemble, coat the bottom of buns with a tablespoon of dijon mustard. Top with a handful of arugula, then the burger with the melted cheese, then a generous portion of the caramelized onions. Serve with your favorite bottle of red wine!

PESTO CAPRESE CHICKEN

While nothing warms my soul more than the smell of a roasting chicken, nothing makes me happier than a quick, yet still satisfying meal when I am short on time! That is where Pan-seared Chicken comes into play.

It’s probably safe to assume that chicken is probably the most frequently cooked protein in most our homes. One of the many reasons I cook so much chicken is how versatile it is- it compliments more flavor profiles than any other protein, or it’s just fine all by itself on top of a salad or in a sandwich. Beef, for example, is not nearly as flexible.

This post is not indented to provide you an exact recipe, but rather to share a cooking technique, that can be scaled up or down in quantity for 1 person, or a family of 6. Once you have the technique, you can start to create new flavor combinations to sass up your meal prep, lunches and dinners.

Inspiration for elevation

Pan Searing chicken breasts is a great cooking technique for anyone who meal preps, anyone just getting started in the kitchen, and anyone who likes to try new flavor combinations. It’s also a great base for KETO meals and those who are gluten free. It’s easy, quick, tasty, and can be made in advance. It simply does not get more flexible than this.

Watch how to make pan seared chicken in just 4 minutes!

I typically pan sear several portions on a Sunday or Monday as part of my meal prep for the week and then use the chicken throughout the next few days for work lunches or quick dinners. I try to create different combination so I never get bored eating the same thing two days in a row. I often take inspiration from leftover vegetables, sauces and cheeses that I have on hand. Or, I simply chop it into a salad or make a chicken sandwich. The ideas are endless for how to enjoy a basic piece of pan seared chicken.

Feaster’s Tips:

• For all my plant based eaters out there, you can substitute the chicken for 1/2″ long strips of zucchini or a sweet potato slice and follow the same technique.

• When I use this chicken with toppings (rather than in a salad), I simply set the chicken breasts on a parchment lined sheet pan (for easy clean up), add my toppings, and bake for about 6-8 minutes or until heated through. Serve hot.

Pan Seared Chicken
Prep Time
1 min
Cook Time
4 mins
 
Course: dinner, lunch
Keyword: chicken, gluten free, keto, make ahead, meal prep
Ingredients
  • boneless chicken cutlets sliced thin
  • extra virgin olive oil or EVOO spray
  • Kosher salt & fresh ground pepper
Instructions
  1. Heat a non-stick skillet pan, preferably a griddle pan, over medium-high heat.

  2. Spray or baste chicken with EVOO and season with salt & pepper. Flip & repeat. (I like to pepper one side only.)

  3. Place chicken on griddle, presentation side down. Sear for 2 minutes. The chicken should be turning white from the bottom up and should have a light brown sear. Flip. Cook for another 2 minutes. (Timing may change based on thickness of chicken breast)

  4. If you are unsure about doneness, use a pairing knife to make a very small slice and check the inside for pink. Remember that it will keep cooking off the heat and if you are using it for a hot meal, it will finish cooking in the oven so you don't want to over cook it.

  5. Remove the chicken from the pan to a plate and let rest. *If you are not using the chicken right away, make sure to cool compleatly before refridgerating.

Recipe Notes

This is not a recipe but rather an explanation of technique. The quantity of ingredients is flexible based on individual preferences. 

Fettuccini

I started rolling pasta dough around age 4 or 5. I have very distinct memories of my great grandma GiGi and my aunt working so many eggs into a giant well of flour, to create a dough, that I would then be allowed to “roll into snakes.” It was one of my most favorite days when we made pasta dough. Unfortunately, I lost my great grandmother not too many years later and thus, my pasta making education ended and left me only as an experienced “snake maker!”

pasta party
making pasta

Many decades later, another family member inspired me to revisit pasta making. My youngest brother in law gifted me a pasta roller. That did it- I was hooked. Hard core. I dove right in and I haven’t looked back. I am full on obsessed, and year after year, the obsession grows stronger, and deeper.

I never stop watching videos, reading recipes, taking classes. When I can’t sleep, I think about ravioli fillings and pasta shapes and reflecting on the last dough batch. I think I would reach a true peak of happiness if I could just make pasta all day, every day.

Making pasta is equal parts science and soul.

Using a food processor, I can make fresh pasta in about 2 minutes. Watch how!
homemade Linguini

I can’t teach you how to cook with soul, but I can give you this tip. You can’t make pasta when you are angry- the pasta knows and it just won’t work. I know it sounds crazy, but it’s true. You need to clear your mind, focus only on the dough, and let yourself become one with it for the duration of the time it takes to create it, and bring it to life. It’s basically food yoga.

As far as the science part, there is of course the basic recipe. But in addition to following the recipe, it’s also helpful to understand how temperature of the room, humidity of the room, egg weight, egg liquid density (fresher eggs have denser whites), flour density differences, and even temperature of your work surface. These are the elements that drive my obsession because the more you understand each one of these components, the more refined your dough becomes.

All that said, it still takes a basic recipe and you don’t really need to know much more than that. The details I just mentioned take it to a whole other level but all you really need is a good recipe. After much research and many, many balls of dough, this is my pasta dough recipe.

  • 225 grams Double 00 flour
  • 75 grams semolina flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • .5 tsp olive oil
  • Pinch of salt (optional, controversial, but your choice)

Note: If the pasta is still dry after adding all the eggs, it could be because of the size of your eggs vs the size of my eggs. Just add a teaspoon of water at a time until you get the right consistency.

After many batches using the traditional “well method” and then moving to the kitchen aid approach for a time, I discovered using a food processor makes the best pasta dough (for me). The video above shows you how I make it.

Feaster Tip:

Pasta dough is very forgiving. You really can’t mess it up too easily, but patience is required and some basic knowledge that the humidity level, the temperature of a room, the size & weight of the eggs, etc. all influence how the dough decides to behave on any given day. But it will come together- you just have to use a little judgment and trust yourself. If it’s too dry, just add another egg yolk, or/and a teaspoon of water at a time. If you are using the food processor and if it’s not coming together in the perfect ball, just dump it on a board and knead it. You can do it!