Monthly Archives: August 2009

Social, Party of One

This bright tomato bruschetta with white bean spread is a snap to make: a perfect starter for a summer dinner party.

Or for an evening in when it’s just you and a marathon of bad TV (Miami Social, anyone?).

Serves 4

4 large, ripe tomatoes
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus additional for brushing bread
1 garlic clove, minced
8 slices Italian loaf bread (sliced  ¾ to 1 inch thick)
1 cup basil leaves

– With a small paring knife, remove the cores from the tomatoes. Cut them in half and, with a small spoon or melon baller, scoop out seeds. Chop tomatoes into ¼ inch-thick chunks and place in colander over bowl or in sink. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt and toss. Allow to drain for 10 to 20 minutes.

– Meanwhile, combine 3 tablespoons olive oil with minced garlic in large bowl.  Heat grill to high and evenly brush both sides of each slice of bread with additional olive oil. Grill bread until toasted and marked, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to platter. (Alternatively, heat a panini press and grill bread until crisp and golden).

– Pat tomatoes dry with paper towels and transfer to bowl with garlic oil. Chop the basil leaves (do this last minute to keep them as fresh and flavorful as possible) and toss with tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

– Spread toasted bread with white bean spread (recipe follows) and top with tomatoes. Serve.

Serves 4

1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans
2 tablespoons cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus additional for drizzling
1 garlic clove, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Salt and pepper

– Drain and rinse beans in a colander. Shake to remove excess liquid and transfer to a food processor.

– Add oil, garlic, and lemon juice and purée until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

– Transfer to serving dish, sprinkle with pepper and drizzle with additional oil.

You can make the bean spread up to 2 days ahead: Store in an airtight container and cover the top with about 1/8” of olive oil to prevent it from forming a crust. Save the leftovers for more bruschetta or use as a dip for crudités.

Ready for the Weekend?

As if that title really needed a question mark.

Lately, I’ve grown rather fond of starting my weekends on Thursdays.  A cocktail with friends or dinner al fresco is the perfect way to start undoing that painful knot that steadily builds up under my right shoulder blade during the week.

This summer, I’ve rediscovered sangría. The concept of sangría has always appealed to me: it’s fruity, refreshing, and, well, it’s got booze. But for the most part, what’s poured at restaurants is watered down and tasteless.

I’ve made a few modifications. ¡Salud!

Serves 4

Rather than diluting sangría with regular ice, I like to add tropical fruit ice cubes.  I love Goya varieties, like guava and passion fruit, but orange juice, white grape juice, or tropical punch are acceptable substitutes.

– Make ahead: 2 (12-ounce) cans Goya nectars (such as pineapple-passion fruit or tropical fruit punch)

– Shake juice cans well.  Pour into 2 12-cube ice trays and freeze.

1 (750mL) bottle red wine, chilled
1 ½ cups orange juice, chilled
¾ cup Triple sec
1 apple, cored, seeded and cut into ¼ inch pieces
1 plum, pitted and cut into ¼ inch pieces
1 peach, pitted and cut into ¼ inch pieces
1 ½ cups club soda, chilled

– In a large pitcher, combine wine, orange juice, triple sec, and fruit.  Stir in club soda and ice cubes right before serving.

An Aside: Brussels Sprouts with Sticky Fig Glaze

I get into a cooking slump sometimes, especially when I come home late after work and yoga and don’t want to deal with cooking or cleaning up. But I gotta eat. And so does O. Although he’s pretty good about feeding himself when I don’t make dinner, one of my (many, many, many) pet peeves is when I see people eating cold leftovers  (please at least microwave your disgusting, plain, under-seasoned chicken cutlets before you eat them! – You know who you are).  Also, there was a container of Brussels sprouts lurking in my fridge that I had to make or throw out.

Admittedly, these don’t look radiant and green as a spring pasture after a light rain, but they’re really delicious – roasted, mildly bitter, with a sticky, sweet slick of glaze – and pair nicely with that rubbery chicken.

Serves 2

12 ounces (about 3 cups) Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed, outer leaves removed, and halved lengthwise
¼ cup olive oil
Kosher salt and pepper
1 shallot, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons fig spread or jam
1 teaspoon grainy mustard

– Preheat oven to 425˚F.

– Spread sprouts out on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper and drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Toss together with hands to ensure they’re evenly coated.

– Roast sprouts until they’re tender and lightly charred on the edges and areas where they make contact with the baking sheet, 15 to 20 minutes.  Place baking sheet on cooling rack and cover with foil.

– Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the shallot and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the fig spread and cook until melted, 1 to 2 minutes. Move the skillet off heat and whisk in the mustard. Immediately add the roasted sprouts and toss to evenly combine. Transfer to a serving dish. Serve.

Dear Cindy,

I’m very hesitant to post this recipe. I “heart” Korean barbecue, but other than liking it, I know nothing about it. I found a KBBQ beef recipe on Gourmet, made some changes, and basically took the “BBQ” aspect of it by making it in the oven. It was tasty, I swear. Maybe we can have some of the legit stuff next time I’m in LA?  xoxo

Serves 2

For the Salad
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
½ head iceberg lettuce, cored and shredded
1 small cucumber, ends trimmed, halved lengthwise, seeded, and sliced  ¼” -thick
½ cup whole cilantro leaves
4 scallions, white and pale green parts thinly sliced(reserve these for beef), green tops thinly sliced

– Whisk soy sauce, vinegar, oil, and brown sugar together in small bowl.

– Toss lettuce, cucumber, cilantro, and scallion greens (tops only — see beef ingredients) together in large bowl.

– Continue with beef portion of recipe.

For the Beef
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon Sriracha
1 tablespoon black sesame seeds
2 strip steaks (1 to ½ pounds total), thinly sliced

– Place a rimmed baking sheet on oven rack in upper third of oven and preheat to broil.

– Whisk first 7 ingredients and reserved scallions (see salad ingredients) together in medium bowl. Add meat and toss to coat evenly. Let sit for 10 to 15 minutes.

– Open oven and carefully place preheated baking sheet on cooling rack. Spread beef out in single layer and immediately return to oven. Broil until beef is caramelized and lightly charred, 6 to 8 minutes.

-Toss salad with vinaigrette and serve with beef.


Summer has been reluctant this year, so when the sun does shine, I scramble up to the roof deck for a much-needed dose of vitamin D. The building I live in has outfitted the deck with some patio furniture and grills, and though I mocked the electric grills (the look like open-faced toaster ovens), I succumbed the other day and made turkey burgers for dinner.

Serves 4

Smoked paprika imparts a smoky barbecue flavor on otherwise bland turkey meat. Serve burgers with tortilla chips, hot sauce (such as Valentina brand), and sour cream or mayo.

For the Burgers
1 pound ground turkey
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
½ small onion, chopped (about ½ cup)
2 tablespoons smoked paprika
4 hamburger buns

– Combine ground turkey, salt, and pepper in medium bowl.

– Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook, stirring, until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add smoked paprika and cook until the onions are evenly coated and the paprika is fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer the onion mixture to a bowl and allow it to cool slightly.

– Add onion mixture to the ground turkey and mix just until combined. Divide turkey mixture equally into 4 portions and shape into ¾”- to 1”-thick patties. Make a shallow divot or indenation in the center of each patty.

– Heat grill to medium-high. Cook burgers until nicely charred on each side and cooked through (temperature should register 160˚F on an instant-read thermometer), 4 to 5 minutes per side.

– Brush buns with remaining tablespoon oil and grill until warmed through and marks appear, about 2 minutes. Transfer to plates and top with burgers.

For the Scallion Guacamole
Remove the ribs and seeds from the jalapeño if you are sensitive to heat. Pickled jalapeños and a tablespoon or 2 of the pickling brine are a nice substitution (or addition) here.

3 ripe avocados
¼ small onion, finely chopped (about ¼ cup)
1 cup cilantro, chopped
6 scallions, finely chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
Juice of 1 lime
Salt and pepper

– Split avocados, remove pits, and spoon flesh out into a medium bowl. Add following 6 ingredients and mash coarsely with a fork. Season with salt and pepper to taste.