Monday, November 7, 2011

Creole Red Beans & Rice

That's a big ol' pot of love, folks

Well, try my hardest, I didn't quite make my goal of getting a post up this weekend, alas! In part, I actually blame this recipe for my delay, since I was doing my best to take down an entire pot of this tasty Louisiana treat before the week- another goal I didn't quite get to. But I digress. Since moving down here and getting settled, I've been really excited to sample all the local flavors and start working on my own versions of them. So far, my favorite two have been red beans & rice and shrimp po'boys, both of which I have been tinkering with in the new Humble Kitchen (look for a Roasted Shrimp Po' Boy to be appearing soon!). 

Much like a lot of the food that I love to cook and share, this Louisiana staple has its roots in necessity. Beans (either dried or tinned) are a very inexpensive staple, as is plain and simple rice. Naturally, red beans & rice is a great go-to dish that is wildly satisfying to the soul, and also a comfort to the wallet. Since I am now a stay at home mama, I am not only charged with taking care of our little love, but also taking care of my big love and making sure that they are both well-fed. The babe is pretty easy, so most of my food focus is on keeping Kyle and I well fed on a very tight budget. So after a little research (mostly on Epicurious and Food Network as well as the back of the bag of small red beans I purchased!) I started to piece together my recipe from what I had on hand, and what I could spend out of my budget. My method for rehydrating the beans was done somewhat out of error (I had meant to soak the beans overnight, but forgot the night before), but I think it still turned out very well, just be sure to start the beans early in the day if you plan on having them that night, or keep it simple and do an overnight soak. 

I've got to take a moment and give a little respect to the guy manning the meat counter at our local Albertson's- not only was he incredibly knowledgeable about their offerings, he had a lot of great suggestions for how to use their various meats & fish offerings-  very inspiring! It's amazing to walk into a run of the mill grocery store and be greeted by such a beautiful meat/fish counter with so many offerings from local sources, truly awesome!

I'm not sure exactly how "authentic" my red beans & rice came out to be, but I feel confident that it was a good representation of the local flavor. It's a great way to stretch your dollar and fill hungry bellies without feeling like you're skimping. 

Red Beans & Rice (pieced together from sources noted above)

-1 lb bag of dried small red beans, picked over & rinsed
- 3/4 lbs fresh cajun sausage (Andouille works very well)
- 3 stalks of celery with leaves, washed & diced small
- 1/2 a sweet onion, diced small
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced fine
- 3 tbspns Creole seasoning (I used a mix of "Slap Ya Mama" and "Cajun Land")
- Louisiana hot sauce (I used Crystal "Extra Hot"), optional
- Sea salt & fresh cracked black pepper
- Olive oil

-1 cup long grain rice, prepared to package instructions

After picking over and rinsing beans well, combine with six cups of water and a hearty sprinkling of salt in a Dutch oven and bring to a boil. Lower temp to just barely simmering, cover almost full with lid (leaving a small opening for steam to escape), and leave beans to fully soften- about 1 1/2 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally. If liquid level drops below beans, add more water accordingly. When beans are fully cooked, mash about half the beans with a potato masher or a large wooden spoon- this will help thicken the liquid and give a great texture to the final product. 

In a large saute pan over medium heat, add sausage and a little water (1/4" or so) and steam until sausage is cooked through (if working with pre-cooked sausage, skip this step). Remove sausage from pan and pour off water. When cool enough to handle, slice sausages into diagonal rounds. Return pan to stove, add a light coating of olive oil and saute sausage rounds until golden brown. Transfer sausage into Dutch oven with beans and stir to combine. Add a little more olive oil to the pan and saute celery and onion (1/2 a green pepper diced up is also a great addition if handy) until softened and onions become translucent but not brown. Add in garlic and continue to cook an additional 2-3 minutes until fragrant. Season vegetables with Creole seasonings to taste, and add into bean & sausage mixture. After combining all elements, check for seasoning and adjust accordingly, adding additional Creole seasoning, salt & pepper and hot sauce if using. Allow mixture to come together over low heat for a couple of hours if possible- the longer, the better!

To serve, ladle beans over servings of cooked white rice, and serve with hot sauce, ice cold beers and big hunks of french bread for sopping up the sauce. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

I'm Not Dead Yet!

Wow. May 13th, huh? Yikes, it has been a while! I apologize profusely for being beyond MIA over the past 6 (!!!) months, but I am slowly but determinedly working my way back to blog-dom. As many of you know, our beautiful son William Harvey came into our lives on July 23rd and we are just overcome with love and adoration for this little guy:
My absolute most favorite picture of my favorite little fella

In addition to the most incredible and terrifying new title of "mama", we also pulled off the impossible and survived the 1600 mile move down to Louisiana with all members of the family surviving in pretty good spirits. Kyle is really enjoying his new job, we've settled into a lovely little house on the Northshore of Lake Pontchatrain and we're really digging our new surroundings. 

So- now that we are settled and we've got our parenting feet a bit more under us, I have returned to the kitchen with a vengeance! On top of having this lovely new house (no more apartment living for us, which is a bit bittersweet), our kitchen came with a fabulous gas range- YESSSSSSSSSSS. Really, is there anything better? As I type this quick update, I'm watching my little lovie take in a snooze while the aroma of my first attempt at real Louisiana red beans & rice waft over from the kitchen. Awesomeness. So let's do this thing- I'm back, I have a couple of great back-logged recipes and entries to get up on here and I'm hoping this weekend should provide some time to get back to my other love and share my kitchen adventures with you all. If you've hung around waiting for me to come back, thank you so much for your loyalty, you make a gal feel truly humble. If you've somehow just recently come across this blog, welcome friend and I hope you stick around and enjoy the new adventures of The Humble Table.


Friday, May 13, 2011

White Chocolate & Dried Cranberry Cookies

I’ve had this post half started for a couple of weeks now (what up, slacker), but somehow keep losing my train of thought, or get distracted by some sort of shiny object, whoops! I don’t have anything particularly earth shattering to say about how these cookies came about other than I had a pregnancy fueled cookie craving (or at least that’s what I’m blaming it on!), a giant bag of dried cranberries and some white chocolate chips on hand. Interestingly enough, I couldn’t find any recipes for cranberry-white chocolate cookies, so I went to the old standby- The Joy of Cooking- and scanned the cookie recipes for something that would fit what I was looking for. The recipe for White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies had all the right things I was looking for and with a little modification for what I had on hand, I got the perfectly satisfying cookie I was looking for without having to leave the house to hit up the grocery store or bakery, and all was right in the world.

I’m a huge fan of the dried fruit/chocolate combination, and the tart, chewiness of the cranberries balanced very well with the smoothness of the white chocolate. I was happy that they also go the seal of approval from my husband (a true connoisseur of baked goods), as well as the boys at my all male office. I can usually tell when a baked good goes over well if the tin is empty before 1PM, and one of my bosses was sniffing around for extra cookies well before that time.

White Chocolate & Dried Cranberry Cookies

(recipe modified from The Joy of Cooking’s White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies)

-- 2 ½ Cups all purpose flour
 - 1 Tsp. baking soda
-- 1 Cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
-- 1 1/3 Cups organic white sugar
-- 2/3 Cup packed light brown sugar
-- 2 Large eggs
-- 1 Tsp. vanilla
-- 1 Cup dried cranberries
-- 1 Cup white chocolate morsels or coarsely chopped white chocolate

Pre-heat oven to 350. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Whisk together flour and baking soda. Set aside. In a large bowl, beat butter and both sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add in vanilla and mix well. Stir in dry ingredients until well incorporated. Add in cranberries and white chocolate. Spoon generous teaspoons of dough onto cookie sheets (about 1 ½ inches apart) and bake for 15-18 minutes. Transfer to wire rack to cool. 

Monday, April 18, 2011

Shrimp & Grits with Mushrooms, Leeks and Bacon

I am in love with the fact that second trimester has not only been extremely kind to my body, but has also marked the triumphant return of my insatiable appetite! While I have to pace out my eating a little more with smaller meals every couple of hours as opposed to plowing through a couple of giant sittings, I am thrilled to be enjoying pretty much all of the things that I love that caused for some rumblings early on in the pregnancy.

Our impending move South now only a matter of months away (five actually, woah!) combined with the slow arrival of more spring-like weather has me craving seafood. What better way to satisfy my cure something from the briny deep and prepare for Southern living than to try my hand at Shrimp & Grits! After cautiously easing into the Southern staple a few postings ago, I felt confident to take it on again.

When we first moved to town and I was on the hunt for a job, I decided to volunteer my time at the library of a local yacht school in an effort to meet some people and do something positive with my idle hands. Although I no longer volunteer there, I met Jill, one of my favorite people in Newport. About once a week after our shifts at the library we would wander down to The Pier, a restaurant just behind the library and enjoy their ½ price happy hour appetizers and drinks. It was always a great excuse to relax and gossip (as if we hadn’t already done that enough!), and we would occasionally drag our husbands along with us. Being a creature of habit, I would almost always order their Shrimp & Grits, and this recipe is based off of The Pier’s take on this classic dish. So while I am not yet immersed in the Southern culture, I feel myself getting more and more excited to enjoy all of the flavors that Louisiana has to offer, and to taste this classic comfort food as prepared by the folks that put it on the map!

It’s a pretty simple dish to pull together, and I recommend frying off your bacon first while you cook the grits (as I mentioned in my last post about grits, they’re pretty resilient and can hang out on a very low burner for a while), then putting together your mushroom & leek sauté and finishing up with the shrimp to ensure that they don’t overcook. This recipe could easily serve four for dinner with a big green salad and a crisp white wine- I made it for just the two of us, and we had the second half the next night.

Shrimp & Grits with Mushrooms, Leek and Bacon (as inspired by The Pier)

For the Grits:

Depending on the type of grits you are using, follow package instructions for four servings, or use my directions posted here, omitting the ricotta, parmesan and nutmeg. Once grits are fully cooked, stir in 1 tbspn butter, and slowly add in a generous ¼ cup freshly shredded sharp cheddar cheese. Season well with salt & pepper and set aside, covered over very low heat.

For the Shrimp:

- 1 lb. 16-20 count fresh, wild caught shrimp with tail on
- 4-5 Slices thick cut bacon, diced
- 1 Leek (medium size), sliced thinly and cleaned (see my note on cleaning here)
- ½ Package of Baby Bella mushrooms, sliced
- 1 Large clove garlic, minced
- ¼ (ish) Cup seafood or chicken stock
- Handful of flat leaf Italian parsley, chopped
- Sea salt
- Cracked black pepper
- Seafood seasoning (think Old Bay)
- 1-2 Tbspn butter
- Extra Virgin olive oil
- ½ Lemon, cut into wedges
- Hot sauce (optional)

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat, add in diced bacon and cook until crisp and fat is rendered. Remove bacon from pan and drain on paper towel. Reserve 1ish tbspn bacon fat in pan, lower heat to medium add in butter and a couple of turns of olive oil. While oil and butter come up to temp, season one side of shrimp lightly with salt, pepper and seafood seasoning. Once pan is heated, add in mushrooms and season lightly with salt & pepper. Saute, stirring until mushrooms begin to release liquid, about 2 minutes. Add in leeks and continue cooking while stirring occasionally until leeks begin to soften, about 4 minutes or so. Once leeks have fully softened, add in garlic and cook just until garlic is aromatic (a minute or two). Push mushroom/leek mixture to the edge of pan (see picture) and place shrimp into pan, seasoned side down. Season exposed side of shrimp with salt, pepper and seafood season and allow shrimp to cook, undisturbed for about 2 minutes or until bottoms just turn pink. Flip shrimp and cook an additional 2 minutes or until just cooked through. Stir shrimp, leeks and mushrooms together, and add in about ¼ cup of seafood stock and parsley. Allow to simmer for a minute or two and reduce.

To plate: Pile grits in the middle of a shallow bowl or dish and top with leek & mushroom mixture, and top with 4-5 shrimp running down the middle. Sprinkle crisp bacon on top and serve right away with lemon wedges and hot sauce on the side. Also pairs great with a light summer beer and a comfortable porch table!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Black Walnut & Chocolate Chip Banana Cupcakes

Mmmmmm…fresh baked cupcakes. Is there really anything better? Ok, how about a good, healthy smear of homemade cream cheese frosting on top? Happiness? Yeah? Me too.

Prior to becoming pregnant, I had a minimal sweet tooth- a cookie here and there, the occasional small serving of ice cream or maybe a little cake on special holidays. Now that I’m encroaching on 3rd trimester, I find myself with ridiculous cravings for sweets- not all the time, but with enough frequency that I find myself wandering over to the kitchen cabinets and seeking out some satisfaction. Rather than pick up a box of store bought cookies or cupcakes, I’m trying to stick with treats I make at home. This way, I have to really think about the craving and decide whether or not it’s something I absolutely have to satisfy, or there is another way to stave off the beast. Home baked treats are also great, since I can pack up the second half of whatever I make and bring it into my office or send it to the ship with my husband, which not only keeps me from eating six cupcakes for dinner, but also wins me some points with the boss. Win-win in my book.

I have had a HUGE craving for cream cheese frosting for quite some time now, and finally caved late last week under the guise that I would be making the cupcakes for my husband who was coming back to port after being out to sea. Funny enough, he was so kind as to inform me over the weekend that he was not a huge cream cheese frosting fan. Whoops- more for me! I am a cream cheese frosting lunatic, and after a little playing with the proportions on the original recipe, I found my frosting nirvana by cutting back the powdered sugar, upping the vanilla and adding just a hint on nutmeg. Bliss!

I’m not sure that these little baked treats would completely qualify as cupcakes per se, as they are really more of a banana bread/muffin/cupcake hybrid, but I could not in good conscious refer to them as muffins after I layered on a heavy dose of cream cheese goodness. So, cupcakes it is! I picked up the base recipes for these insanely easy treats over on, and tweaked it a bit with things that I had on hand for a really satisfying little treat. These could easily be converted back into the more healthy land of muffins by switching out some of the regular flour for whole wheat, trading the butter for applesauce, omitting the chocolate chips and forgoing the frosting (eek!). I’m sure the day will come when I’m interested in lightening them up, however, this was not that day!

Black Walnut & Chocolate Chip Banana Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
(original recipe here)
Makes 12

-1 1/2 Cups all-purpose flour
-1 Tspn baking powder
-1 Tspn baking soda
-1/2 Tspn salt
-3 Large bananas, mashed
-3/4 Cup organic sugar
-1 Large Egg
-1/3 Cup butter, melted
-1/3 Cup black walnuts, roughly chopped
-1/2 Cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin pan(s) with liners. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt- set aside. Combine bananas, sugar, egg, and melted butter in a large bowl. Fold in flour mixture, and mix lightly. Add in walnuts & chocolate chips and mix lightly until smooth (do not over-mix!) Scoop into muffin pans and transfer to oven. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Cakes should spring back when lightly tapped. Remove from oven, take out of muffin pans and let cool on a wire rack.

Cream Cheese Frosting
(original recipe here)
-1 8oz. Package of cream cheese, softened
-1/4 Cup butter (1/2 stick), softened
-3/4 Cups sifted confectioners' sugar
-1 Tspn vanilla extract
-1/2 Tspn fresh grated nutmeg (optional)

In a medium bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter until creamy. Mix in the vanilla, then gradually stir in the confectioners' sugar and nutmeg.

Once cakes have cooled, coat well with frosting and enjoy!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Seared Duck with Cherry-Onion Port Reduction

Man, I made a promise to myself that I would be better about blogging regularly once I got past the first couple of months of pregnancy, but alas, I dropped the ball. Apologies!

With that mea culpa taken care of, I have been meaning to post this recipe for WEEKS, as it was an absolute smashing success, and I can’t wait for the next excuse to whip it up again. My love affair with duck breast began back in college, when my dear friend Mona first took me to the Galway Bay pub in Annapolis on a random weeknight to hang out with her friend/bartender extraordinaire and sink my teeth into their incredible duck sandwich. From the first bite, I was completely hooked! Years later when Kyle and I moved back to Annapolis, I would find any excuse to sneak over to Galway for one of their perfectly cooked sliced duck sandwiches.

Fast forward to a few months ago when I attended the first ever Supper Club & Wine Pairing co-sponsored by Spark Restaurant and Newport Wine Cellars. I knew my friends & I would be in for an amazing night of food & wine (I did have small samples of each wine to appreciate the pairings, I know- I’m a huge badass) as Spark has always been on my top 10 list in Newport (you can read my review of Spark here), and I have always been intrigued by the offerings that Maria showcases at her lovely little wine shop across from the Viking Hotel. While I could dedicate and entire blog post to this amazing supper club marriage (and probably will), I will say that there was one dish out of the five (!!!) courses that really stuck out as the star to me: the third course Spiced Duck Breast.

I took home a copy of the menu and knew I wanted to work on a re-creation of Sue’s outstanding dish for when Kyle came home after a few weeks up in dry dock in South Carolina. There were certain flavors I was interested in pulling out, and others I wanted to subdue so I started off by scribbling down components and notes to organize my thoughts. By the time Kyle’s homecoming weekend rolled around, I had a plan in hand, and was eager to hit the kitchen!

The final result was a beautiful duck dish that hit all of the comforting flavor profiles I look for- rich, warm, a bit rustic, and well-rounded. I will admit that I have not had extensive experience working with duck in my own kitchen, but I really didn’t have any problems since it presents itself much like veal or beef. While this dish has a fair amount of steps and prep time, I think it is well worth the effort and makes for a wildly impressive meal for guests or for your special someone. I served a simple side of roasted asparagus dressed with olive oil, salt, pepper and lemon zest, which rounded out the meal perfectly. I’ve written out the recipe pretty much in the order that I cooked in, starting with the chive oil and finishing with the duck- this gives the chives plenty of time to flavor the oil, and ensures that the duck gets the proper time to rest without waiting for the other components to be ready. As grits are pretty resilient, they are happy to sit on a just warm burner for some time without losing their integrity.

Seared Duck Breast with Pearl Onion & Cherry Port Reduction over Creamy White Grits with Chive-Truffle Oil
(serves two with leftovers)

For the Chive-Truffle Oil:

-1 Large bunch of fresh chives, minced finely (think a good handful
-1 Small bunch of fresh Italian flat leaf parsley, minced finely
-1/4 Cup extra virgin olive oil
-1/4 Cup truffle oil.

Place minced chives and parsley in a ramekin or small dish large enough to hold all components. Add in olive & truffle oil. Using the back of a spoon or muddler, lightly crush herbs to release flavors into oil. Set aside on countertop.

For the Grits:

-2 Cups water
-1 Tblspn salted butter
-1/2 Cup white hominy grits
-2 Heaping tblspns part-skim ricotta
-1/2 Cup fresh shredded parmesan cheese
-Dash of nutmeg
-Sea salt
-White pepper

Bring water and butter to a boil, add in grits. Stirring occasionally, cook grits for approximately 25 minutes or until grits are soft and creamy. Once ready, stir in ricotta cheese until well incorportated over low heat. Add in parmesan cheese in small amounts, stirring well to mix (if added all at once, you risk having a cheese ball in the middle of your grits). Season well with a dash of nutmeg, sea salt & white pepper. If grits seem a bit too stiff, stir in a teaspoon or two of milk or cream to loosen. Once proper consistency is reached, cover & set on a very low burner.

For the Duck:

-2 Duck breast filets with skin on (I used wild Canadian duck, and would highly recommend)
-16-20 Pearl onions, blanched & peeled
-3/4ish Cup of dried cherries
-3/4 to 1 Cup good quality Port
-Extra virgin olive oil
-Sea salt
-Cracked black pepper

Remove duck breasts from packaging, rinse and pat dry. Using a sharp knife, remove any excess fat so you are left with a skin/fat layer that covers the top of the breast. Make 3-4 shallow cuts (through fat only, do not puncture meat) on the top of the skin on each breast. Slice fat trimmings into ribbons and slice again into ¾ inch pieces (for cracklings). Season fat side of duck with salt & pepper.

In a large sauté pan, heat 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat until just smoking. Add duck fat pieces and stir frequently to avoid sticking and burning. Once pieces have crisped (think bacon), remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to paper towels. Season cracklings well with sea salt. Turn heat up a bit to medium-high, and place duck breasts in the center, fat side down. Do not fuss with the duck, as it will interrupt the searing. Season exposed sides well with salt & pepper. After 4-5 minutes, depending on the thickness, flip duck breasts over and allow to sear on the bottom side. After a minute or two, tilt pan slightly, and baste the top of the duck breasts with the pan oil. Remove duck breasts from pan after another 2-3 minutes and transfer to an oven friendly dish and place in a just warm oven.

Reduce heat to medium, and add pearl onions to oil (you may need to add a little more olive oil), cooking for two or so minutes- give the pan a couple of good shakes to keep the onions from sticking. Add in dried cherries and cook for an additional two minutes, or until cherries begin to plump and soften. Turn heat back up to medium high, and add in your port (if working on a gas stove, please be CAREFUL!). Scrape up any bits from the bottom of the pan and continue stirring over heat until sauce is reduced by about half, approximately 10-12 minutes. Once sauce has reduced and has a texture similar to maple syrup, turn heat to low and season with salt & pepper to taste.

Just before serving turn your oven’s broiler on to high, and briefly broil the fat side of your duck breasts (will help revive the crisp skin if sauce took a bit longer to reduce) for just a few minutes.

To Assemble:

In the center of each plate, spoon on a good sized serving of white grits. Top with chive oil. Slice duck breasts on the bias and fan out on top of grits. Spoon port reduction over duck slices and sprinkle cracklings over the whole lot. Serve immediately, and don’t feel guilty if you end up without leftovers.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Tomatoes and Garlic and Capers, Oh My!

Hi friends! I have been gone from the cooking and blogging realm for far too long (a fact I am painfully aware of!), but I am very excited to be jumping back in. For those that don’t already know, I have been hard at work on a new sort of baking project for the past few months- and it’s not a Sourdough starter... Yes, that’s right, I’m working on a baby!

Oh, hey baby!

Kyle and I were over the moon when we found out that we would be expecting our first child in July of this year, and had kept the news on the hush until we made it home to visit family and friends over the holiday season. Now that I am settling comfortably into my second trimester stride, my energy and appetite have both shot back up, and I am looking forward to getting back into the kitchen and working on some tasty ideas that have been bouncing around in my head!

With that news out of the way, let’s get down to the food. You'll have to be kind to me as I get back into the culinary groove, since I have been away for some time, and it usually takes me a little bit to get the creativity flowing again, so bear with me! After a couple of busy months of traveling, visiting friends and family, holidays and intermittent nausea battles, I was very excited to have a little quiet time at home last weekend. With all the traveling and being out of the apartment that we’ve done recently, the fresh produce was pretty much non-existent, so it took a few shopping trips/lists to get the kitchen up and running. For those that don’t live in the area, the weather has been terrible as of late, with weekly snow & ice storms that leave much to be desired, and have me craving warm & comforting food.

While out on one of my re-stocking adventures at the market, I spied veal cutlets on sale and quickly began throwing together ideas in my head. Roasted tomatoes and garlic scream comfort to me (see my opus to their awesomeness here), so I quickly put together a dish in my head that would be simple to make, and had leftovers that could be used again. I was super satisfied with the results, and found it to be equally comforting when used over the veal as well as when tossed with pasta. It’s not a wildly imaginative recipe, but it was a good first step back into cooking for me, and has already left me mulling over more new ideas in my head that should make their way here very soon.

My portions for the tomato “sauce” are for two servings, so if you’re like me and eating solo, you can save the 2nd half to be used for pasta later in the week. If you’re looking to have more leftover tomatoes or looking to feed a slightly larger crowd, you can easily double the amount called for.

Roasted Tomatoes, Garlic and Capers for Meat & Pasta

For Roasted Tomatoes:

- ½ pint organic grape tomatoes
- 5-6 cloves of garlic, skins intact
- ½ Spanish red onion, sliced thick
- 8 Large oil cured black olives
- 1 Tblspn of capers
- ¼ cup(ish) Good olive oil
- Sea salt & cracked pepper to taste
- 1 Tspn crushed red pepper (optional)
- 6 Fresh basil leaves, sliced thinly lengthwise

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In an oven-proof pan or Dutch oven just large enough to hold ingredients, combine tomatoes, garlic, onion, olives and capers, and toss with olive oil until well coated. Season with salt, pepper and crushed red pepper. Place pan in oven for 53-50 minutes, or until tomatoes begin to pop, garlic has taken on rich caramel color, and onions have browned.

For Breaded Veal Cutlets (works well for chicken too!):

- Veal cutlets of medium thickness, pounded lightly (1 for each person, depending on size)
- ½ Cup all purpose flour, seasoned with salt & pepper
- 1 Large egg, beaten
- ½ Cup panko bread crumbs seasoned with salt, pepper & a little dried oregano
- 2-4 slices of fresh mozzarella
-Olive oil

Heat a non-stick frying pan over medium heat with a little olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Using the breading “assembly line” technique discussed here, dredge veal cutlets through flour, egg and panko, and place breaded cutlets directly into pre-heated pan (if cooking for more than 2 servings, do this in batches, as over-crowding your pan will cause an uneven distribution of heat, and cutlets will not brown as well). Cook cutlets 4-5 minutes per side, or a bit more depending on thickness, until cooked through and golden brown on the exterior. Remove fully cooked cutlets and place in an oven proof baking dish.

To Assemble:

When tomatoes have fully roasted, remove from oven, switch oven off and turn on broiler to high. Transfer tomato mixture to the same pan used for sautéing veal and lightly sauté tomatoes over medium heat (this will help break up the roasted tomatoes a bit, creating a more saucy texture). While sauce heats, top each cutlet with a few slices of fresh mozzarella, place under broiler and broil until cheese is brown and bubbly. Remove from oven and transfer to serving plate. Spoon tomato mixture over cutlets, and top with fresh basil. Serve with a simple green salad and a loaf of rustic bread for a hearty meal.

Using Leftover Sauce for Pasta:

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Drop in pasta & cook, following package directions. While pasta cooks, heat up leftover sauce in a small skillet, adding a little water, wine or chicken stock to loosen it up a bit. Once pasta has cooked, drop into skillet with sauce and toss to coat. Finish with a little grated or shredded parmesan and fresh basil. If you’ve got some leftover cooked off chicken breast, sausage, or really any protein, dice up and heat in with the sauce- it’s a great addition!