Pesto Pronto by Brandy Fernow

As a chef instructor, people always ask me “do you cook like this at home every night?” And my answer is a swift “nope!” Yes, I am a chef, but I am also a busy mom of two active 1st and 2nd grade boys. That means I’m running all week from school, to sports, to cub scouts, volunteering, doing homework, playdates, cleaning, cooking, and of course teaching classes at Marcels!

So no, I don’t cook every night and it’s certainly not a gourmet meal every night either. We do eat at home every night and I have learned to cook smart. Cook one night, then turn that into 2 more meals that I can make in 15 minutes or less.

One of my favorite go-to’s for this technique is a simple pesto sauce. What probably comes to mind is the traditional basil, parmesan, pine nuts and olive oil. I certainly make this version to toss over pasta or accompany chicken, but I also use the same fundamentals to make a dozen other “pestos” which to me is generally an herb, nut, cheese and oil – whipped together in seconds with the help of my food processor.

Now – to make this a million other ways, you just swap the herb, nut and cheese combos. For example, Mexican night – use cilantro, pepitas, queso or cotija cheese, and a dash of red pepper flake. Or sweeten it up a bit by swapping arugula for basil, pecans for pine nuts, adding 2 tablespoons of honey and ½ cup ricotta. Or try parsley, almonds, and asiago.

This way you can pour over ANYTHING! Pesto variations are great poured over steak pork, chicken or fish, tossed with pasta, quinoa or favorite grain, drizzled over roasted veggies, you name it.

Bonus – you can freeze in portions and re-use. Why haul out that food processor more than once? Make big batches of a few kinds and freeze in portions. Pull out and enjoy on that frenzied night you’re trying to get something fresh, but fast on the table.
I’m featuring this favorite pesto technique in a private event this month at Marcels for a group of moms looking to cook once, eat twice. We are serving the pesto over flank steak, then recycling it to a pasta for the next meal. If you have a group that is looking to learn something specific or want to have a good time with your friends, let Marcels know and they can customize your own private event!

Fresh Basil Pesto
Print
Ingredients
  1. 2 cups fresh basil leaves
  2. ¼ cup toasted pine nuts
  3. Zest and juice of a lemon
  4. Handful of fresh parmesan
Instructions
  1. Add all to a food processor and add olive oil until you have you preferred consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste
Marcel's Culinary Experience https://www.marcelsculinaryexperience.com/

Salt & Pepper by Jamie Bordoshuk

I’ve been teaching kids how to cook for the past 15 years and I feel like I have the best job in the world. My students range from 6 year olds who can barely see over the counter to teens whose favorite foods include sushi, crispy seared duck breast and roasted bone marrow. 

While my Mother was not a gourmet cook, she was a master in the kitchen. Cooking for her was more than a necessity, it was a true labor of love. For her, measuring was an option and not a rule. Her ‘go-to’ spices were salt and pepper. And she was one of those people who could turn three ingredients into family dinner in under 30 minutes. I’m thankful that she passed that skill down to me, and find myself sharing her wisdom and tips with my students every time I teach a class. 

There’s nothing better to me than having one of my students come back to see me at Marcel’s or sign-up for another class or kid’s camp. They tell me stories of how they made dinner for their family from the recipes that we learned in class. To hear how excited they were to show off their talents, explore different foods and cultures and how much their families enjoyed their meal is wonderful. That to me makes teaching our next generation a real treasure. 

At the end of each class, I always ask my students the same question, “What makes almost every dish taste better?”. And they all shout in unison, “Salt and pepper!” Thanks, Mom.

Salisbury Steak with Mushroom Gravy
Serves 4
Print
Ingredients
  1. 1 lb ground beef
  2. 1/4 cup onion diced
  3. 1 egg beaten
  4. 2 tablespoons of ketchup
  5. 2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard, divided
  6. 2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce, divided
  7. 1/3 cup Panko bread crumbs
  8. 1 teaspoon of kosher salt
  9. 1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper
  10. 2 tablespoons of bacon fat or olive oil, divided
  11. 1 medium onion, finely sliced
  12. 8 oz. cremini mushrooms, quartered
  13. 2 tablespoons of flour
  14. 2 cups beef broth or consommé
  15. Parsley to garnish
Instructions
  1. In a bowl combine the ground beef, diced onion, egg, ketchup, one tablespoon of mustard, one tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce, Panko breadcrumbs and salt and pepper. Knead by hand until combined. Form into 4 oval patties to give them a "steak" appearance.
  2. Heat a large non-stick skillet until very hot. Add 1 tablespoon of bacon fat or oil and then patties. Sear patties to a crispy brown on each side for several minutes until no longer pink inside. Remove from pan and set aside on a paper towel lined plate and cover to keep warm.
  3. Add the other tablespoon of bacon fat or oil to the pan and sauté the sliced onion until golden brown over medium heat. Add the mushrooms, remaining tablespoon of mustard and Worcestershire sauce and cook for several minutes. Mushrooms will release water so cook mixture down for several minutes. Sprinkle flour over mixture and stir, cooking for another minute. Slowly add the beef stock and stir to mix and lower heat to low. Simmer for several minutes, sauce will thicken. Season to taste.
  4. Add the “steaks” back to the pan and nestle in the sauce. Cover and cook for 2-3 minutes to heat through. Serve over mashed potatoes and pour mushroom onion gravy over each Salisbury steak. Sprinkle with parsley to garnish.
Marcel's Culinary Experience https://www.marcelsculinaryexperience.com/

A Taste From Our Kitchens by Teri Hiben

There are so many things I have enjoyed about working at Marcel’s for the past 6 years – yes, it’s been 6 years!  I learn so much interacting with our talented and generous chefs who share their tips and recipes.  It’s been a joy to work alongside so many great people here on staff who have become dear friends.  And I am thankful to continue to get to know so many of you as you come through the store, talking food and entertaining, sharing recipes.  One of my favorite roles has been sharing one of my recipes during our weekly Tuesday demos.  Did you know we have free demos every Tuesday?  One of us, on staff, at Marcel’s prepares a favorite dish each Tuesday between 11am and 2pm.  Everyone is welcome to stop in for a quick taste, grab the recipe, or to sit and enjoy a bite while watching the entire process as we make the entrée, side dish, appetizer or dessert.

And, for those who are working or otherwise unable to come to our demos, each demonstrated recipe is available on our website.  Over the years we have compiled quite a nice collection of recipes from these demos.  Also on the site are chef recipes for you to enjoy making and serving at home.  Some of these dishes have become favorites in my home.  Have you tried Janie’s Penne with Beef and Arugula?  Jill’s Mussels with White Wine?  Or Rita’s Mardi Gras Jambalaya?  I highly recommend them – and so many others!

With the start of the fall schedule, our Tuesday demos are again in full swing.  Here’s what’s ahead in the next weeks:

Aug. 29 Julie’s Easy Lemon Sole Meunier

Sept. 5 Sharon’s Chicken with Spicy Thai Peanut Sauce

Sept. 12 Deb’s Quick and Simple Asian Tilapia

Sept. 19 Julie’s Wheatberry Waffles

And on Sept. 26, our 6th birthday, I’ll be dishing up a special Anniversary treat! Please join us in the kitchen on Tuesdays.

Garden Bounty by Julie Szimon

I love vegetable gardening!  Well, let me rephrase that.  I love to get organic plants or seeds and plant them in my garden with organic soil, water them, weed them and see what happens.  I don’t know what the PH level of my soil is.  I don’t use any chemicals to make things grow bigger.  I just plant. 

Growing up in the city, we never had a garden.  We lived in a two-flat on the north side of Chicago.  We did have an apple tree in the back yard that took up most of the space.  Each year I was allowed to climb up the tree and pick the apples on top that no one could reach.  Those apples were then cooked down by my grandmother and made into applesauce.  She would can the applesauce in mason jars so we could enjoy it all winter long. 

When we moved to the suburbs I started a small 4’x8’ vegetable garden.  As time went on, my vegetable garden grew to a 25’x35’ enclosed area with 8 raised beds and an open space for berry bushes.  Each Spring I plan out what worked well last year and I try to add something new.  I love to see how the new plants grow and what culinary creations I can come up with when they are ready for harvest. 

I like to plant peppers and the garden always produces an abundance of them.  Some sweet ones and some hot ones.  I have used them in salsas and salads and I have even pickled them.  Last year I decided to make hot pepper jelly with them.  It was so good!  I made several batches and canned it for myself and gave some as gifts.  My favorite way to enjoy the jelly is on toasted bread or crackers along with some goat cheese.  It’s sweet and hot and delicious! It also came in handy over the winter months when friends dropped in for a glass of holiday cheer. 

This year the peppers are looking good, so another batch of hot pepper jelly will be coming.  The recipe I use is great just the way it is but don’t be afraid to be creative with the pepper mixture.  I added some red peppers for color, cracked black pepper, fresh thyme and some dried lemon peel.

Hot Pepper Jelly
Print
Ingredients
  1. 12 oz. of jalapeno (or variety of) peppers
  2. 2 cups cider vinegar, divided
  3. 6 cups of sugar
  4. 2 - 3 oz. pouches of liquid pectin
  5. 5 - 8 oz. half pint glass-preserving jars with lids and bands
Instructions
  1. Prepare/sanitize glass jars, lids and bands per manufacturers directions.
  2. Puree peppers in a food processor with 1 cup of cider vinegar until smooth. Do not strain puree.
  3. Combine puree with remaining 1 cup of cider vinegar and sugar. Bring to a boil over high heat. Boil 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add liquid pectin and continue to boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
  4. Ladle hot pepper jelly into hot jars leaving ¼ inch headspace. Wipe rim. Secure lid and band. Process in boiling water for 10 minutes. Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lid should not flex up and down when pressed in the center.
Marcel's Culinary Experience https://www.marcelsculinaryexperience.com/

For The Love Of Caramel by Paul Lindemuth

One of my favorite cookbooks is “My Last Supper” by Melanie Dunea. It is a journal where 50 great chefs were asked “if you were to die tomorrow, what would you want for your last meal on earth?’ Each chef shared their personal thoughts and requests.

I’ve often been asked a similar question when I’m teaching: “what is your favorite food or flavor?” I know the answer, hands down, to either of these questions:  Caramel.

There is something seductive about caramel and the flavor descriptors are pretty diverse:  buttery, nutty, smoky, toasted, butterscotch, burnt.

I love the chemistry part of working with caramel which begins with melting pure cane sugar and slowly controlling the temperature to turn the sugar from crystal clear to pale amber to deep golden brown. Each stage yields different flavors: pale amber is light and mild, deep amber is rich and complex. Taking the caramel beyond this point to dark caramel yields a more bitter flavor due to increased oxidation (my favorite). Additionally, heating beyond this point (which happens very quickly) will turn the caramel into a black, smoking, bitter mess as the sugar breaks down into pure carbon.

I spent the 4th of July holiday toying with this chemistry while roasting marshmallows to create S’mores. I started with that initial golden-brown crust on the marshmallows, took it one step further to dark brown (actually peeling that layer off to taste it and then putting the remainder back over the fire and tasting again). Then I let a couple of marshmallows actually catch fire and get totally charred…. not so tasty. It sure was fun playing with melted and burnt sugar!

When you peel back the layers of chemistry and technique of caramel, you can easily create some pretty amazing flavors. Patiently working with one cup of granulated sugar, ¼ cup of water to dissolve the sugar and adding 1 cup of heavy cream to the hot caramel will yield my favorite thing to eat:  perfect caramel sauce.

Salted Caramel Apple Tartlets
Print
Ingredients
  1. 1 cup sugar
  2. ¼ cup cold water
  3. 1 cup heavy cream
  4. ½ teaspoon flaky sea salt
  5. 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  6. 4 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into thick wedges
  7. ¼ cup plus 4 tablespoons sugar
  8. ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  9. 2 tablespoons Calvados or apple brandy
  10. 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  11. 1 package frozen puff pastry thawed
Instructions
  1. In a small saucepan combine the sugar and the water. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Place the saucepan over medium-high heat and bring the mixture to a boil. Using a pastry brush dipped in cold water, brush down any sugar particles that cling to the side of the pan. Continue to boil until the sugar caramelizes and turns a deep amber color, being careful not to let it get too dark and burn.
  2. Place the saucepan in the bottom of the sink. Carefully pour the cream into the melted sugar. The sugar will bubble violently and give off steam. Return the saucepan to low heat and stir until the caramel is dissolved and smooth. Add the sea salt and set the caramel aside.
  3. In a large sauté pan melt 4 tablespoons of the butter over medium-high heat. Add the apples and toss to evenly coat them with the butter. Sauté the apples until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add ¼ cup of the sugar and continue cooking until the sugar melts and the apples are caramelized, about 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.
  4. Add the nutmeg, Calvados or apple brandy and lemon juice. Toss gently to combine. Set the apples aside. (The apples may be prepared up to 4 hours in advance, loosely covered and held at room temperature.
  5. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  6. Gently unfold one sheet of the thawed puff pastry. Cut the pastry into 4 rounds. Transfer the pastry rounds to a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Using a smaller round cutter make a shallow indentation into each puff pastry round, being careful to not cut all the way through the pastry. Using a fork, evenly prick the center of each pastry inside the inner circle.
  7. Divide half of the apples into the center of the pastry rounds. Repeat with the remaining puff pastry and apples.
  8. Cut the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter into thin slices and scatter the butter evenly over the apples. Sprinkle the remaining 4 tablespoons of sugar evenly over the tartlets. Bake the tartlets until the pastry is puffed and brown and the apples are soft, about 15 to 18 minutes.
  9. Remove the tartlets from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Transfer to plates. Spoon some of the caramel sauce over each tartlet and serve.
  10. Serves 8
Marcel's Culinary Experience https://www.marcelsculinaryexperience.com/

Food As A Gift by Deb Forkins

After lamenting my less than stellar rhubarb harvest last year, a dear friend brought me over this homemade rhubarb treasure.  She is a fabulous cook, and the pie was delicious….but it was the big D on that pie that was the most delish!  Edible friendship!

One Sunday, I came home from working at Marcel’s to dinner in the oven.  Marc had made his specialty quiche, adding zucchini to my half.  Again, the best part of that dinner was my name on my half of the quiche in zucchini peel.  Edible love.

Sharing the gift of food is a universal gesture of love and friendship, compassion and kindness.  A meal to a family struggling with challenges, chicken soup to a sick friend, cookies to your new neighbor…food has always been a way that we reach out to one another, to connect.  We all know this.  The food itself may or may not be a fabulous culinary creation, but the gesture speaks volumes.

In her cookbook, Food Gift Love, author and chef Maggie Battista shares some tips to make you the quintessential food gifter:

  • Know your recipient. (always best to play to the audience.)
  • Master a signature food gift so you can make it quickly and have the ingredients in your head.
  • Embrace imperfection. (my favorite tip!)
  • Put a label on it. (ingredients and date created)
  • Summer and fall are the best time to make gifts when fruits and vegetables are plentiful and it’s a less hectic time of the year.
  • Reuse old jars, cups and boxes that can be cleaned and repurposed.

At risk of sounding corny, “what the world needs now is love.”  And edible love is just the best. 

(Check out Chef Kelly Sears’ “Pickling and Preserving Workshop” on Sunday, August 27th to learn the tricks of canning and preserving in anticipation of Christmas 2017 Food Gift Giving!)

Smears and Dips, Slathers and Spreads; Ode to the Condiment by Kelly Sears

I confess, I have a condiment problem.  At any given time, our refrigerator looks more like an apothecary than a cooling unit, filled mostly with big jars, little jars, half-filled jars, and jars chock full. There are smears and dips, slathers and spreads all just begging for the star protein or vegetable to give it life and make it shine.

 

We all have our favorites.  Bright, spicy, smooth, silky, or chunky, condiments are the pop, the surprise, the little something extra that elevates ordinary to extraordinary.  Condiments work because they help us achieve balance.  When making any dish, we strive for balance to make that dish a success.  Balance comes from the ying and yang of tastes like bitter vs. sweet (dark chocolate brownies) or sour vs. salty (sour cream onion dip with chips).  Richness, temperature, and texture also play a part in keeping the palate scale level.  Yet balance can’t always be achieved by one component alone; enter the condiment!

 

Let’s start easy.  Ketchup and mustard are two of America’s most popular condiments so let’s examine why they work.  Vinegar give both their tang, both are bitter and acidic with sugar, salt and spices in the blend.  Usually served with burgers, brats, sausages or other grilled meats, the richness of the meat gets relief from the acidity (so you don’t feel like you are eating a stick of butter straight up!).  The meat is usually hot, the condiments cold; ketchup and mustard are smooth while the meats have some tooth.  Thus without even knowing it, balance is achieved just by eating a burger with the works.

 

Now let’s take another step up, relish, pickles, mayonnaise, and barbeque sauce. Again, these work just like ketchup and mustard to even out the flavors of the base component.  Fatty ribs love barbeque sauce, creamy mayonnaise and blt’s are great friends, and what perfect Chicago dog isn’t topped with a pickle or relish.  Starting to make sense?

 

Okay, we’re on a roll, so let’s not stop there.  A condiment doesn’t have to be just a store-bought accompaniment to food; a condiment can also couple as a solid component to a dish.  A condiment can be a dip, drizzle or dollop over a vegetable, a slice of meat, or on grilled toast to add sparkle and spice to the final dish.

 

I feel you starting to apply the brakes – work zone ahead!  I know its summer and the last thing you want to do is spend a ton of time in the kitchen. So don’t!  Make a stop at the butcher and pick up some proteins for the week, visit your favorite farmers market for fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables and you’re almost there. We can whittle the kitchen time down to about an hour for two of my favorite condiments. Each one can be made and stored in the refrigerator for at least a week and each has multiple uses depending on your main course selection and meal time constraints.

 

Pepperonata plays nice with chicken, beef, and pork; it’s delicious added to Italian sausage, both on a bun or on a plate.  It can be a stand-alone side dish (although the true definition of a condiment is that it isn’t eaten by itself. Sssh, I won’t tell) or I like to serve it on grilled toast with a smear of ricotta or burrata.

 

The green goddess, although technically a dressing, qualifies as a smear, a dollop or a slather. It wears so many hats. This creamy green goodness is the perfect match for summer’s first bacon, lettuce and tomato; add a slice of avocado and a hard-boiled egg for an extra dose of flavor. Green goddess skips happily along when drizzled over garden fresh (or someone else’s garden!) lettuce, dolloped on cold shrimp, slathered on a roast beef sandwich, or served as a dip for roasted or raw farmer’s market fresh vegetables. A great way to utilize those fresh herbs in your garden, green goddess will make your taste buds happy.

 

The simplest definition of a condiment is that “it imparts flavor onto another food.” Beyond that, it gets subjective.  Make your own rules, combine your own flavors, find your own balance and enjoy a dip, a drizzle, a smear or a dollop of your favorite condiment.

Pepperonata (Caramelized Onions & Peppers) & Green Goddess Dressing
Print
Ingredients
  1. Pepperonata
  2. 2 large onions, julienne
  3. 3 large red peppers, julienne
  4. 3 large yellow peppers, julienne
  5. 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  6. 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  7. 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely diced
  8. 5 basil leaves, chiffonade
  9. 1 tablespoon fresh flat leaf parsley
  10. 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  11. Green Goddess Dressing
  12. 1 ½ cup mayonnaise
  13. ¼ cup chopped fresh chives
  14. 3 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
  15. 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  16. 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  17. 1 garlic clove, rough chop
  18. 1 anchovy filet
  19. Buttermilk for thinning (or regular milk works fine too but I like the tang buttermilk brings to the dish)
Instructions
  1. Pepperonata
  2. Heat olive oil in a sauté pan and sauté the onion, oregano, red pepper flakes, and peppers until lightly golden; this should take about 20-25 minutes, longer if you want them super caramelized and sweet. Add garlic and sauté for another minute. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and stir in basil, parsley, and thyme.
  3. Green Goddess Dressing
  4. Blend mayonnaise and all other ingredients in a food processor or immersion blender. Thin with buttermilk. The consistency should work for your intended purpose. This will vary per application, thicker for a smear or a dollop, thinner for a dressing. Season with salt and pepper. Taste, adjust and enjoy!
Marcel's Culinary Experience https://www.marcelsculinaryexperience.com/

No Oven, No Problem by Julie Busteed

Somehow it seems to happen that whenever we have out of town guests, something breaks, or clogs, or freezes. Think plumbers on Christmas Eve, or a dozen guests enjoying the warmth of the fireplace – because the power has gone out. This visit was no different, the day before company arrived our ovens decided to quit working. Not a total disaster since the stovetop still functioned, but I needed to alter my menus none the less.   

It has been several years since we’ve owned a grill and we’ve been planning to get one. As luck would have it, we were gifted a Kamado Joe! Yes, they were those kind of out of town guests, and yes, they probably figured it was their best shot at eating a home cooked meal. 

To be clear, the Kamado Joe is to “grill” as Ferrari is to a riding mower. This thing is on another level. The heat is enclosed entirely in a thick, ceramic shell, making common recipes that say “Bring the temperature to 700 degrees.” My ovens don’t go to 700 degrees…even when they’re working. The delivery crew shows up to assemble the unit dressed like they were going to a wedding… Which they were.  (Thanks Jill and Bob…)  And, like Ferrari, most of the Kamado Joes are red. Think of Marcel’s as the showroom, with free delivery and setup. 

I’ve had to skip over “grill” recipes for many years, and now here was my chance to dive back in. So far, we’ve seared steaks, grilled shrimp, warmed bread, grilled romaine and even baked banana bread. The surprising one was grilling salmon.  I had adapted this salmon recipe for the oven and it had proven quite tasty, but now I was actually able to grill it and wow, what a difference!

 

Asian Grilled Salmon
Print
Ingredients
  1. 1 side fresh salmon, boned but skin on (about 3 pounds)
  2. 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  3. 3 tablespoons good soy sauce
  4. 6 tablespoons good olive oil
  5. 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
Instructions
  1. While the grill is heating, lay the salmon skin side down on a cutting board and cut it crosswise into 4 equal pieces. Whisk together the mustard, soy sauce, olive oil, and garlic in a small bowl. Drizzle half of the marinade onto the salmon and allow it to sit for 10 minutes.
  2. Place the salmon skin side down on the hot grill; discard the marinade the fish was sitting in. Grill for 4 to 5 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish. Turn carefully with a wide spatula and grill for another 4 to 5 minutes. The salmon will be slightly raw in the center, but don't worry; it will keep cooking as it sits.
  3. Transfer the fish to a flat plate, skin side down, and spoon the reserved marinade on top. Allow the fish to rest for 10 minutes. Remove the skin and serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled.
  4. Grilling with high heat is a little like learning a new language. There’s a bit of a transition, but once you have the basics, a lot of exciting culinary adventures become available. And the flavors that will appear are astounding. Plus, it’s a great option to have when your appliances go on the fritz.
Marcel's Culinary Experience https://www.marcelsculinaryexperience.com/

A Repertoire by Amy Patterson

A peek inside of a recipe collection is revealing. Each recipe a star, a collection that inks out a distinct constellation over time – a personal roadmap of traditions, travels, relationships and memories.
 
My file after 20 years in my own kitchen is scattered amidst pages of heavily annotated cookbooks, dog-eared pages of Fine Cooking, vintage cards in my grandma’s ornate script and a healthy pinch of recipes gathered online. Of the thousands of recipes that could be unearthed in my home, there are a handful that reappear time and again – a motley mix that is a representation of my family’s tastes and sensibilities.  Years of experimentation have mined out our shining stars: an endlessly adaptable loaf of peasant bread, a dead-simple before school pancake recipe, an aromatic chipotle and cumin burger…  
 
Eggplant Dip is my favored appetizer for a party. Every time I whip this up, I am reminded of my Aunt Lois, who clipped this from the Chicago Tribune in the early 90’s. Or if there is a chill in the air, I’ll appear with a retro batch of Hanky Pankies ready to slide into the oven – a dish that could only be reproduced by someone time traveling from an early 80’s avocado-green kitchen in Minnesota. It invariably requires a dash to the supermarket in a clandestine search of Velveeta. (Not an ingredient that Daniel sources at Marché…)
 
Nothing makes me happier than sipping a glass of wine, tending a dish braising on the stovetop and daydreaming of the French countryside. Thus a Sunday dinner chez nous is likely Beef Bourguignon with mashed potatoes or a velvety celery root purée (a relatively recent addition to our repertoire).  Another (Italian) candidate would be a long-simmered Bolognese with fresh ribbons of fettuccine helped along by my daughter Lily.
 
A frenzied weekday often culminates with Salsa Chicken. Chicken thighs, 2 bottles of salsa – one red, one green. Gloriously simple and requested often; so little effort for a tasty taco. The award for most requested weeknight dinner is tied between my “signature” Sausage Pasta or Lily’s favorite – Korean Bulgogi Steak with Coconut Jasmine Rice.
 
Almond Cake from my battered and beloved copy of Cooking for Mr. Latte is my go-to dessert. This most delicious of cakes can be topped with seasonally appropriate fruit that improves with a leisurely nap on the countertop. If it is up to Gage, he will request Kahlua Vodka Cake, a nice slice of boozy and boxed Americana from my old colleague’s mother out East.
 
Open my fridge in the summer and you will find a pitcher or two of my Gazpacho – a vibrant melange of fresh vegetables lightly tempered by the addition of country bread and fruity olive oil. This never fails to transport me back to Southern Spain and is perfect for al fresco entertaining on the patio. As we are heading into summer, this is the recipe from my collection that I would love to share with you below.
 
Next week, we are moving to Idaho. As I pack up our home, I am paying extra care to my cookbooks and recipes. I’ve found several snippets from Marcel’s and I know that many of these recipes will slip into my time-honed repertoire and forever remind me of my connection with this magical and delicious little place.  These are the things that I will hold onto.
 
Editor’s Note: All of us at Marcel’s and Marché are going to miss Amy and her charming family in our midst.  Amy has been with us since the doors opened and her passion for food and eye for the creative have contributed so much. A bientôt, Patterson family!
 
Gazpacho
Print
Ingredients
  1. 2 cups day-old country bread, torn into pieces
  2. 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  3. pinch of cumin (or more to taste)
  4. 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  5. 3 pounds ripe in-season tomatoes
  6. 1 English cucumber, peeled and chopped
  7. 1 red pepper, chopped
  8. 2 tablespoons red onion
  9. 1/4 cup mild extra virgin olive oil
  10. 3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  11. 1/4 pound ham (or pancetta), cubed
  12. 1 thick slice of country-style bread, little cubes for croutons
Instructions
  1. Place the bread in a bowl, add cold water to cover, and let soak for 5-10 minutes. Drain the bread and squeeze out excess liquid.
  2. Place garlic, cumin, and 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt in a mortar and, using a pestle, mash them to a paste.
  3. Place the tomatoes (lightly sprinkled with kosher salt), cucumber, red pepper, red onion, soaked bread and cumin/garlic/salt paste in a large bowl. Toss to mix and massage everything together. Let stand for at least 15 minutes.
  4. Add to blender (it may need to be in 2 batches) along with olive oil. Purée until smooth.
  5. Transfer soup to a large bowl and season with sherry vinegar and salt to taste.
  6. Refrigerate the gazpacho, covered, until chilled. At least 2 hours.
  7. Heat a small skillet to medium heat. Add a tablespoon of olive oil and cubed ham and fry until crisp. Remove to bowl leaving olive oil behind. Add cubed bread and fry until browned. (No need for oil with pancetta)
  8. Garnish soup with cubes of ham, croutons and a drizzle of olive oil.
Marcel's Culinary Experience https://www.marcelsculinaryexperience.com/

The Deep Blue Sea by Cherise Slattery

I woke up at 4 am. My bed was rocking back and forth. Images of the movie The Perfect Storm came to mind. I was sure my life was over! Too scared to open the balcony doors, and too dark to see anything anyway, I imagined the 30 foot swells that were going to tip us over as I fitfully fell back to sleep. I awoke the next morning to sun peeking through the blinds, and ventured a look outside. With the boat still rocking, imagine my surprise to see tiny, 3 foot waves of the most beautiful blue you could imagine. Yes, I survived my first Caribbean cruise.

When I mentioned I was taking my first cruise, everyone said “You won’t even feel the boat moving, and the food is fantastic.” Well, they were half right!

The food on our ship was abundant. I wandered through the offerings before choosing my meal every day.   There was fresh fruit, grilled vegetables, carving meats, salads, cheeses, breads, pastries, plus prepared foods. You have a taste for Italian food, check. You want Mexican, check. Asian, Caribbean, German, American, check, check, check and check.  In addition to that, you could go to one of the restaurants on board, sit down, and order off a menu that changed every night. Besides being perfectly prepared, the food was displayed beautifully, with fruit and vegetable carvings at every turn. Even with all these choices, I found myself being drawn to Souvlaki almost every day for lunch. I currently have an obsession for Tzatziki sauce!   Please enjoy my version of Chicken Souvlaki with Tzatziki.

Chicken Souvlaki with Tzatziki
Print
Chicken Souvlaki
  1. 1 ½ pounds chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces
  2. 1/4 cup olive oil
  3. Juice from 1 fresh lemon
  4. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  5. 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  6. salt and pepper
Tzatziki
  1. 1 small cucumber, peeled and grated
  2. 1 cup plain full-fat Greek yogurt
  3. 1 large garlic clove, finely minced
  4. 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  5. 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  6. ½ teaspoon salt
To serve
  1. pita
  2. tomatoes, thinly sliced
  3. red onions, thinly sliced
Chicken Souvlaki
  1. Combine all ingredients, marinate in refrigerator for two hours, occasionally stirring.
  2. Thread chicken onto skewers, discard marinade. Grill chicken over medium heat until cooked through and slightly charred.
Tzatziki
  1. Grate the cucumber and drain through a fine mesh sieve. Combine all of the ingredients. Cover and refrigerate.
To serve
  1. Wrap chicken and sauce in a pita with thinly sliced tomatoes and red onions.
Marcel's Culinary Experience https://www.marcelsculinaryexperience.com/