Archives for February 2015

Gruyere Shallot & Thyme Grilled Cheese with Apple Salad

Gruyere Shallot & Thyme Grilled Cheese with Apple Salad
Serves 2
Best Grilled Cheese Ever!
  1. 3 T. unsalted butter
  2. 1 T. mayonnaise
  3. 3/4 cup 1/4-inch-thick sliced shallots
  4. 1 t. fresh thyme leaves
  5. Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  6. 4 1/2-inch-thick slices sourdough bread
  7. 4-6 ounces Gruyère, sliced 1/8-inch thick
  8. 2 cups arugula
  9. 1/2 apple (such as Gala), cut into 1/4-inch slices
  10. 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  11. 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  1. Preheat oven to 400°. Heat butter in a small skillet over medium heat. When butter begins to foam, add shallots and thyme; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon or spatula, until shallots begin to soften and caramelize, 4–5 minutes; remove from heat and set aside.
  2. Heat a large heavy-bottomed (cast iron works great) skillet over medium heat. Add 1 Tbsp. butter and swirl in pan to melt butter and coat bottom of pan. Spread mayo on 1 side of each slice of bread. Add bread slices to pan (mayo side down) and cook until golden brown and crisp on the bottom, 2–3 minutes. Transfer bread, toasted side down, to a rimmed baking sheet.
  3. Divide cheese evenly among bread slices; top cheese with reserved shallots.
  4. Place baking sheet in oven and bake until cheese is melted, 7–8 minutes.
  5. Press 2 pieces of bread together, melted cheese sides in; halve sandwich on a diagonal and place on a plate. Repeat with remaining bread slices.
  6. Combine arugula, apple slices, lemon juice, and oil in a large bowl; toss to coat and evenly distribute. Season salad to taste with salt and pepper. Divide salad between plates.
Adapted from Alexandra's Kitchen / Bon Appetit
Adapted from Alexandra's Kitchen / Bon Appetit
Marcel's Culinary Experience

Cooking Companion by Kelly Montgomery


I have a scavenger in my kitchen. It’s not quite as bad as it sounds. He’s actually rather cute and charming. Otis, my dear Boston Terrier, follows me just about everywhere I go. But he downright stalks me in the kitchen, sitting right underfoot while I cook. (Literally. I frequently trip over him and he gives  me a look like “Sheesh! Will ya watch where you’re going?”). Otis loves messy cooks. The messier the better. Lucky for him that seems to come naturally to me. 

How powerful I must seem to my four-legged friend. I bring home endless bags full of food of every imaginable variety  (Cheese! Peanut butter! MEAT!!) in the machine that means “go for a ride”. And then, as if that weren’t mind-blowing enough, I can do incredible things to this food with all sorts of crazy contraptions, making it even better than it was to begin with (usually). Oh, the fantastic smells I can create! And when it’s finally ready I eat it, just like that, without permission . 

Pumpkin Dog Treats

Thinking about all of this one day last week inspired me to cook something just for Otis. A quick Google search later and I had a recipe for pumpkin dog biscuits. They were easy and fun to put together. Apparently they were tasty too-Otis gobbled them right up.  And he didn’t even have to beg. 



Pumpkin Dog Treats
  1. 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  2. 2 T. dry milk
  3. 1 1/3 cup unbleached all purpose flour
  4. 1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats
  5. 1 t. non-aluminum baking powder
  6. 2 t. cinnamon
  7. 3 T. vegetable oil or olive oil
  8. 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  9. 1/2 cup water + 1 tablespoon water
  1. Place all of the ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix on medium speed until thoroughly combined. Roll the dough to 1/4" thick and cut with a cookie cutter, knife or pizza wheel. Place treats on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake at 250 degrees F for about an hour. Check them occasionally toward the end of the baking time, to make sure that they are not getting too dark. Turn off the oven, and let the dog biscuits continue to dry overnight in the oven.
  2. When the dog treats are completely done, they will be hard, dry and crisp. They will be hard for you to break in your hands--and better for your dog's teeth.
  1. You can store these pumpkin dog treats for a month or so at room temperature.
Marcel's Culinary Experience

Frizzled Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta and Walnuts

Frizzled Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta and Walnuts
  1. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  2. 1 clove garlic, smashed
  3. Pinch of crushed red pepper
  4. ¼ pound pancetta, cut into ¼-inch dice
  5. ½ cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
  6. 1 pint Brussels sprouts, stemmed and leaves pulled apart
  7. Kosher salt
  1. Coat a large sauté pan with olive oil; add the garlic and red pepper and bring to medium heat. When the garlic has turned a lovely golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes, remove it from the pan and ditch it. It has fulfilled its garlic destiny!
  2. Add the pancetta and walnuts and cook until the pancetta is crispy and brown, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the brussels sprouts and toss to combine. Season with salt, cover and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the sprouts have wilted.
  3. Remove the lid, raise the heat to medium-high, and let the sprout leaves brown and “frizzle”, 8-10 minutes more. Taste and season with salt if needed.
Adapted from Anne Burrell
Adapted from Anne Burrell
Marcel's Culinary Experience

Let Italians Save Your Dinner: A Recipe for Pasta Carbonara by Robin Nathan

It’s dinner-time and you’ve been running all day. The kids will be home in a few minutes, your other half is right behind them, and all they want to know is “what’s for dinner???”  Allow me to introduce you to your new dinner best friend … pasta carbonara.

“Carbonara?” you say. “I’ve been eating that for years. What the heck is so special about that??” Well, my friends, you only think you’ve been eating it for years. If you order it in a restaurant and one of the ingredients is heavy cream, it’s not an authentic carbonara. The classic, authentic Roman creation contains only 4 ingredients – pasta, eggs, romano cheese, and bacon. That’s it. For many of us, these are ingredients that are always in our fridge and pantry. Welcome to dinner. Or brunch. Or midnight post-party snack.

The first time I had this dish was in the kitchen of a former Italian boyfriend, and man, was it a revelation. (The pasta, not the boyfriend.) So simple, so soulful, so satisfying.  (Again, the pasta, not the boyfriend.) Just cook the pasta (I love it with fettucine or pappardelle), cook the bacon. Drain the pasta, put it back in the pan with a tablespoon of bacon drippings. Pour in beaten eggs and grated Romano cheese, and use a tongs to toss and stir. The heat of the cooked pasta turns the beaten egg into a thickened, satiny sauce in about a minute. Tumble in the cooked bacon, tong it through. Pile into bowls with loads of grated Romano cheese on top. The boyfriend is a memory, but the pasta remains. Dinner is served!!

Pappardelle a la Carbonara
  1. 12 oz. Pappardelle
  2. 5 Strips thick cut bacon, cut into ½” dice, cooked slowly until crispy-chewy and rendered
  3. 5 eggs, beaten to blend
  4. 2 T. Grated Pecorino Romano cheese (plus more for garnish)
  5. 1 T. reserved bacon drippings
  6. Black pepper to taste
  1. Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until barely al dente. Cook the bacon while the pasta cooks. Scoop out the cooked bacon pieces and discard all but 1 T. of the bacon drippings. Beat the eggs with the 2 T. grated cheese in a bowl. Season with black pepper.
  2. When the pasta is barely al dente, drain it and put it back into the pot. Pour in the warm bacon drippings, and quickly toss. Add the egg mixture all at once and toss with tongs for one-two minutes, until the egg mixture becomes slightly thickened, satiny and clings to the pasta (This must be done off heat, otherwise you’ll have scrambled eggs and pasta. No bueno.) Tumble in the cooked bacon pieces and toss once more.
  3. Tong into serving bowls with a generous handful of grated Pecorino Romano. Buon Apetito!
Marcel's Culinary Experience

Ina Garten’s Peanut Butter & Jelly Bars

Ina Garten’s Peanut Butter & Jelly Bars
  1. ½ lb. unsalted butter, at room temperature
  2. 1 ½ cups sugar
  3. 1 t. vanilla extract
  4. 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  5. 2 cups (18 ounces) creamy peanut butter (recommended: Skippy)*
  6. 3 cups all-purpose flour
  7. 1 t. baking powder
  8. 1 ½ t. kosher salt
  9. 1 ½ cups raspberry jam or other jam (18 oz. jar)
  10. 2/3 cups salted peanuts, coarsely chopped
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease and flour a 9x13x2 inch baking pan.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light yellow, about 2 minutes. With mixer on low speed, add the vanilla, eggs, and peanut butter and mix until combined.
  4. In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the peanut butter mixture. Mix just until combined.
  5. Spread two thirds of the dough in the prepared pan, using a knife to spread it evenly. Spread the jam evenly over the dough. Drop small globs of the remaining dough evenly over the jam. Don’t worry if the jam isn’t covered; the dough will spread when it bakes.
  6. Sprinkle with the chopped peanuts and bake for 45 minutes, until golden brown.
  7. Cool and cut into small squares. Enjoy!
  1. *Carolyn loves to make her own peanut butter in her Vitamix for these scrumptious bars.
Adapted from Barefoot Contessa at Home by Ina Garten
Adapted from Barefoot Contessa at Home by Ina Garten
Marcel's Culinary Experience

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Rao’s Spaghetti and Meatballs
Marinara Sauce
  1. 3 28-Ounce Cans Italian Plum Tomatoes, whole or crushed (Recommend San Marzano)
  2. 1/2 cup olive oil
  3. 6 cloves garlic (lightly smashed)
  4. 1 T. plus 2 t. kosher salt
  5. 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  6. 1 t. fresh ground black pepper
  7. 1/4 t. dried oregano
  1. 1/2 pound ground beef
  2. 1/2 pound ground pork
  3. 1/2 pound ground veal
  4. 1 T. kosher salt
  5. 1/2 t. freshly ground black pepper
  6. 1 clove garlic, minced, plus 1 clove garlic, lightly smashed.
  7. 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  8. 1 cup finely grated imported Locatelli Romano or Parmigiano Reggiano (or half and half); more
  9. for serving
  10. 1 1/2 cups plain dry breadcrumbs
  11. 1 1/2 cups water
  12. 1 T. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  13. 1 cup olive oil or vegetable oil; more as needed
  14. 1 pound dried spaghetti
  15. 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  1. If you’re using whole tomatoes, put them in a large bowl and crush them with your hands. Discard any cores.
  2. In a 7-quart or larger saucepot, heat the oil on medium heat. Add the garlic and saute until lightly golden brown, about two minutes. Add the tomatoes and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes to 1 hour; the sauce will reduce and thicken slightly but shouldn’t get too thick. Stir in the basil, pepper and oregano. Proceed with the spaghetti and meatballs recipe, or let cool and refrigerate for up to 4 days.
  1. Start making the marinara sauce. While it’s simmering, make the meatballs.
  2. Break up the ground meat into a large bowl. Sprinkle on the salt, pepper, minced garlic, eggs, grated cheese, breadcrumbs, water, and parsley. Mix with your hands until everything is nicely distributed, but don’t over-mix. Shape into twelve meatballs by gently scooping up a handful of meat and rolling it into a nice even ball; each meatball should weigh about 4 ounces and be about 2 1/2 inches in diameter.
  3. In a 10-inch nonstick skillet, heat the olive oil and the lightly smashed garlic clove over medium heat. (If your skillet is larger than 10 inches, you’ll need to add more oil; there should be enough to come about halfway up the sides of the meatballs). When the garlic is lightly browned, the oil should be hot enough to start frying. (Remove the garlic from the oil once it becomes fully browned) Gently set six of the meatballs in the oil and fry until they’re lightly browned on the bottom half, 5 to 6 minutes. Carefully turn them over using a slotted spatula and brown the other side. Drain the meatballs on a few paper towels to soak up excess oil. Fry the remaining six meatballs the same way.
  4. When the marinara has finished its initial simmer and you’ve seasoned it, add the meatballs to the simmering sauce and cover the pot. Simmer them together for 30 minutes to let the sauce permeate the meatballs and the meat flavor infuse the sauce.
  5. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. When the meatballs and sauce have been simmering for about 20 minutes, add the spaghetti to the boiling water and boil until it’s just about al dente.
  6. When the spaghetti is done, drain it and return it to the pot it was cooked in. Add the chopped fresh basil and a couple of ladlefuls of the marinara sauce to the spaghetti. Put the pot over high heat and, with a wooden spoon or tongs, constantly toss the pasta until each piece is coated with sauce, about 1 minute. Transfer to serving bowls and ladle more sauce over the spaghetti, along with two to three meatballs (or transfer the meatballs to a serving platter and set it on the table).
  7. Serve with grated cheese.
Adapted from Frank Pellegrino - Rao's Restaurant
Adapted from Frank Pellegrino - Rao's Restaurant
Marcel's Culinary Experience

Roasted Vegetable Tart with Toasted Quinoa Crust

Roasted Vegetable Tart with Toasted Quinoa Crust
  1. 1/3 cup uncooked quinoa
  2. 2 T. chopped fresh parsley
  3. ½ cup quinoa flour
  4. 1 T. finely minced shallot
  5. ½ cup almond meal
  6. ½ t. coarsely ground pepper
  7. 1 T. cornstarch
  8. 3 oz. goat cheese, softened
  9. ¼ t. kosher salt
  10. 2 oz. cream cheese, softened
  11. 2 T. olive oil
  12. 1 T. balsamic glaze
  13. 1 large egg, beaten
  14. 2 cups chopped leftover roasted vegetables (such as carrots, squash, parsnips, beets, fennel, onions)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Toast the uncooked quinoa in a skillet over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Quinoa will make a light popping sound when the toasting begins. You want this sound for about a minute or two. Let cool.
  3. In a bowl mix the toasted quinoa, quinoa flour, almond meal, cornstarch and salt. Add oil and egg; stir until mixture is crumbly but holds together when pressed.
  4. Press into bottom and sides of a 4x13 inch removable bottom tart pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until golden and crisp; cool completely on a wire rack.
  5. While crust cools, combine chopped parsley, shallot, black pepper, cream cheese and goat cheese, stirring until smooth; spread evenly in bottom of crust. Arrange vegetables evenly over cheese mixture, top with torn parsley leaves. Remove tart from pan; drizzle with balsamic glaze.
Marcel's Culinary Experience

For the Love of Snow Days by Carolyn Raber

The earliest I can recollect the term “snow days,” meaning that a huge amount of snow closed the schools, was in the ‘60s, when a huge blizzard paralyzed the Midwest for days. As a younger child, schools were never closed for snow, so being home on a “snow day” was cause for finding creative ways to fill the time. The options then, as today, were countless; being outside enjoying all the white stuff, catching up with the neighbors while shoveling, and cleaning closets and other indoors tasks that we never quite find the time to do. Personally, I have come to love these days, as they elevate the idea of cocooning to a heightened joy. There’s something quite wonderful about being stuck at home…a peaceful, cozy feeling.

Beef StewWhat I most enjoy doing on snow days is taking inventory of my pantry, refrigerator, and freezer to see what comfort foods I can make.My priorities are a bread, a long cooking main dish, and a delectable dessert.  These are the days that I ignore my usual healthy eating recipes and rules and just enjoy the experience. A favorite recipe from my childhood, my mother’s oven beef stew, is actually very healthy, plus it is super easy. It can be accompanied by bread, dumplings, biscuits, noodles, rice, potatoes – whatever I can make without a trip to the store. I look forward to the next snow day when I can break my rules and totally immerse myself in the kitchen.


Oven Beef Stew
  1. 1 lb. stew beef, cut into bite size pieces
  2. 4-5 carrots, large slices
  3. 3-4 stalks celery, large slices
  4. 2 medium onions, rough chop
  5. 8 oz. can tomato sauce
  6. 1 T. tapioca
  7. 1 t. salt
  8. 1/4 t. pepper
  9. 1 bay leaf
  1. Combine all ingredients together in Dutch oven. Place in 325 oven for 2 hours.
  1. This is a basic recipe. If you are making this on a snow day, and you assess your food on hand, you can substitute, add, or eliminate ingredients . Bon appétit!
Marcel's Culinary Experience

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cake with Cherries

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cake with Cherries
Both Dana and Teri love this quick cake.
  1. 1 3/4 cups boiling water
  2. 1 cup McCann’s Quick Cooking Irish Oatmeal
  3. 1 cup brown sugar
  4. 1 cup granulated sugar
  5. 1/2 cup butter
  6. 3 large eggs
  7. 1 3 /4 cups flour
  8. 1 t. baking soda
  9. 1 T. baking cocoa
  10. 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  11. 1/4 cup cherries*, chopped
  12. 3/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Pour the boiling water over the oatmeal; let stand for about 10 minutes. Add the sugars and butter. Stir until butter melts. Add the eggs and mix in well.
  3. Mix in flour, baking soda and baking cocoa.
  4. Now add about half of the semi-sweet chocolate chips and all the cherries. Mix.
  5. Pour batter into greased and floured 9" x 13" baking dish.
  6. Sprinkle walnuts (if using) and remaining chocolate chips on top.
  7. Bake for 40 minutes or until a skewer inserted in center comes out clean.
  1. *You can use dried, canned or frozen cherries
Marcel's Culinary Experience

Pan-seared Tuna with Avocado, Lime, Soy and Ginger

Pan-seared Tuna with Avocado, Lime, Soy & Ginger
  1. 2 big handfuls fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  2. ½ jalapeno, sliced
  3. 1 t. grated fresh ginger
  4. 1 garlic clove, grated
  5. 2 limes, juiced
  6. 2 T. soy sauce
  7. pinch sugar
  8. salt and pepper
  9. ¼ cup EVOO
  10. 1 6 ounce block sushi-quality tuna
  11. 1 ripe avocado, sliced
  1. In a mixing bowl, combine cilantro, jalapeno, ginger, garlic, lime juice, soy sauce, sugar, salt, pepper and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Stir together until well incorporated.
  2. Place a skillet over medium-high heat and coat with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season the tuna generously with salt and pepper. Lay tuna in the hot oil and sear for 1 minute on each side to form a slight crust.
  3. Pour ½ of the cilantro mixture into the pan to coat the fish. Serve the seared tuna with the sliced avocado and the remaining cilantro sauce drizzled over the whole plate.
Marcel's Culinary Experience