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Skirt Steak with Hazelnut Romesco

*Post by Angela.

Loyal readers of this blog may be asking themselves if I've forgotten how to cook over the last couple of months. The answer is yes, yes, I have. Or at least, I might as well have. Long work hours, a busy social calendar, hot weather and pure laziness made it difficult to prepare any sort of bloggable meal. But now that things have slowed down just a tad, and the cooler fall weather is making it feel like a pleasure instead of a punishment to have the oven and stove on, I'm trying to make an effort to get myself back in the kitchen. First up was a combination of these relatively easy skirt steak with hazelnut romesco recipes I found on Tasting Table and in the October issue of Bon Appetit.



  • 4 Roma tomatoes, quartered
  • 3 medium red bell peppers
  • About 1 1/2 cups of olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 head garlic
  • ½ cup almonds
  • ½ cup hazelnuts
  • 1 cup cubed day-old bread
  • Red wine vinegar
  • 2 lbs skirt steak
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds, toasted and ground
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder

Romesco (a Catalonian nut and red pepper based sauce) is simple and straightforward, but it does require a little bit of extra time. Luckily for me, I have a willing and able assistant. Before I got home, Mark sliced the stems off the peppers and deseeded them, chopped the top off the head of garlic, quartered the tomatoes, and put everything on a baking sheet. He preheated the oven to 300 degrees, then drizzled everything with 2-3 tbsp of olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper. He wrapped the garlic in foil, then shoved the whole mess in the oven for about an hour (the skin on the peppers should be mostly blistered and blackened). Once I got home, I took over. I put the peppers into a bowl, covered them with foil for about 10 minutes, then peeled the skins off and gave the peppers a rough chop along with the tomatoes. I also popped the garlic cloves, now nice and soft and delicious, out of their papery skins.  


Next, I toasted the almonds and hazelnuts over medium low heat in a saucepan with just a splash of olive oil and a pinch of salt for about 10 minutes. Once they were toasty, I gave them a rough chop and set them aside.



The last element of the sauce was the bread, which I just tossed with a bit of olive oil and toasted for about 5-8 minutes over medium heat. 



Here's the fun/tricky part - making it taste right. I put the peppers, garlic, tomatoes, nuts, and bread in the blender, turned it on, and slowly drizzled in about 3/4 cup of olive oil. Once well combined, I turned off the blender (important step!!!!) tasted the sauce, and added in a splash or two of red wine vinegar and a little salt and pepper, and blended again. To loosen up the sauce a little, I added about 1/4 cup of water. I kept repeating this process (blend, add vinegar and seasoning, add water), until I had a sauce that was just barely thinned enough to drizzle, with enough acidity to make it tangy. I think in total I added about 1 cup of water and probably 1/2 cup of red wine vinegar.



Somewhere in the middle of all this, I mixed together 1 tbsp of kosher salt, 1 tbsp of sugar, 2 tsp of toasted ground fennel seed, 2 tsp fresh ground black pepper, 1 tsp of cayenne, and 1 tsp of garlic powder. It smelled heavenly as I rubbed it all over the skirt steak. I let the steak sit for about 10 minutes before I cooked it.



I heated a couple of tbsp of olive oil in my cast iron skillet over medium high heat, then quickly pan-seared the steak, 2-3 minutes per side for a perfect medium rare. I let the steak sit for about 5 minutes, then sliced it against the grain and served it with the romesco drizzled over top.



Romesco is new to me, but I really enjoyed the nuttiness and thickness of it. And I've never cooked skirt steak at home before, but given how quick and easy it is to cook and how flavorful, I think it's going to be popping up again and again. The sauce and steak also tasted great as leftovers in a sandwich the following day, or so Mark tells me. In any event, I'm just happy to be back in the kitchen relearing my cooking skills.



Lemon Fettuccine with Broccoli and Bacon

*Post by Angela.

That damned box of fettuccine had been mocking me from the corner cabinet of our kitchen for about a week. Lately, pasta has not been ringing my bell (the penne arrabiata I made two or three weeks ago was more about the spicy, meaty sauce than the pasta), and for the life of me, I simply could not find inspiration to make anything with it. But I hated to buy other food when we had perfectly edible stuff at home.

Finally, I started thinking about ingredients about which I was excited. We’ve been loving broccoli lately, and the coming of summer always makes me want to zest a lemon over things. Add some bacon into the mix, and a slight adaptation of this dish was a perfect way to get rid of that fettuccine. I doubled the recipe and we ate this happily for 3 days.




  • 6 oz ounces thick-cut bacon, chopped
  • 1 pound broccoli florets, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 8 oz dried fettuccine
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp finely grated lemon zest
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Kosher salt and pepper

I kickstarted my excitement about dinner by crisping the bacon pieces in my cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until almost crisp and brown. Using a slotted spoon, I scooped the bacon onto a paper-towel lined plate, leaving the bacon fat in the skillet for a little later on.

I brought a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil, then added the broccoli and cooked until crisp-tender but still bright green, just about 3 minutes. I transferred the broccoli to a medium bowl, then cooked the fettuccine in the broccoli water according to the package directions.



I drained the pasta, then tossed it into the skillet with the bacon fat. I added the melted butter, the olive oil, the lemon zest and juice, and the thyme, and tossed it well over very low heat for about 3-4 minutes.



To finish it off, I removed the skillet from the heat, added the bacon, broccoli, and cheese, and seasoned to taste. Not the healthiest meal in the world, but really, really delicious. The bacon and the butter are nicely balanced by the crispness of the broccoli and the bright acidity of the lemon zest and juice. We ate the hell out of that damned fettuccine.



15 Habañero Jerk Chicken

*Post by Angela.

Admit it. When you read my tweet that I was making a jerk chicken recipe that included 15 habañero peppers, you scoffed. You may have even chuckled out loud. Perhaps remarked to a nearby friend that I am a moron. “Heh, she does anything that Bon Appetit tells her to do. Moron.”

Maybe I am a moron, but in this particular instance, it worked out for me. Excluding the fact that my hands burned for a full 24 hours after prepping the ingredients for this Jamaican-style chicken (here’s a tip for myself, invest in some latex gloves, moron), I was happy I went against what my brain and others were telling me. The chicken was really spicy, but definitely not overwhelmingly so, and the wonderfully complex flavors from the rest of the ingredients in the marinade were able to fight their way through.




  • 1  4-pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces
  • 1  medium red onion
  • 12  garlic cloves
  • 15 small habañero peppers, stemmed & seeded
  • 8  scallions (white and pale-green parts only)
  • 1  3-inch piece peeled ginger
  • 2  tbsp  fresh thyme
  • 1/2  tbsp  ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp  whole allspice
  • 1  tbsp  kosher salt
  • 1  tbsp  powdered adobo seasoning
  • 1/2  tsp  Maggi Liquid Seasoning

I started this recipe two days before we were going to eat it to let the chicken take full advantage of the marinade. First, I rinsed the chicken, poked the pieces all over with a small knife, and put it in a plastic container big enough to hold it and all the marinade. I gave the red onion, garlic, habañeros, scallions, ginger and thyme a quick run through with my knife...



...then added them to a blender with the cinnamon, allspice, salt, adobo seasoning, Maggi Liquid Seasoning (really interesting stuff, available at your local grocery store), and ¼ cup of water and puréed it until smooth. I poured it over the chicken, covered it and let it chill out in the fridge for 2 days (but 1 day would probably suffice).



About an hour before I was going to cook the chicken, I took it out of the fridge to come to room temperature. Because I don’t have a grill, I baked the chicken in the oven at 350 degrees for about an hour and a half. But if you do have a grill, click on the link for the original recipe and follow the grill directions, because I bet the dish would be even better that way.   



We plated the chicken with a little kale and some rice, and cautiously proceeded. There’s heat there for sure – our lips were slightly swollen by the time dinner was through – but not enough to send us screaming for water. The flavors of the marinade really penetrated the juicy meat, making it an easy choice to go back for seconds. Moron though I may be, I was a moron with a very satisfied belly that night…


Coconut Lime Swordfish

*Post by Angela.

People, I have achieved my end game. I finally managed to make a seafood dish that Mark really, sincerely loved (I did, too!). Don’t get me wrong, in the last few years he’s grown to like seafood when we dine out, and he’s always open to trying new things. But after a few not entirely successful tries to make his mouth water with ocean-dwelling protein prepared at home, I got discouraged. And lazy. And stopped making seafood at home at all.

That all changed last week. We finally made our way over to the Hollywood farmers market at the insistence of our dear friends, who had been talking up the fishmonger there at every opportunity. Some awfully pretty swordfish was on special, and while waiting in line to purchase it, I pulled up this recipe. “BOOM,” was Mark’s reaction, being a lover of coconutty things. I had a good feeling about this attempt, and I was right. The meatiness of the swordfish + the light yet powerfully flavorful sauce is irresistible.



List of ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup light coconut milk
  • ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 4 tbsp fresh lemongrass, peeled and finely minced (or 2 tbsp grated lemon peel if you can’t find lemongrass)
  • 4 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp lime juice
  • 2 tsp chili paste
  • 4 shallots, peeled and rough chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and rough chopped
  • 1 ½ lbs swordfish steak, cut into four 6-oz portions
  • Cooking spray or a little bit of olive oil

Honestly, this recipe is as easy as it gets. First, I turned on my broiler. After giving all the choppable ingredients a nice rough run through with my knife, I combined the coconut milk, cilantro, lemongrass, fish sauce, brown sugar, lime juice, chili paste, shallots, and garlic in my food processor and pulsed until well-combined and coarsely chopped.




I put the fish in a roasting pan lightly coated with oil and spread half of my delightful smelling shallot mixture evenly over all 4 steaks, creating sort of a coating.



I broiled the steaks for almost exactly 15 minutes (until the fish was just cooked through), then served them up with the remaining sauce, some steamed white rice and a little spicy garlicky bok choy action.



FINALLY. Success was mine! A wonderfully elegant fish dish that Mark loved. Loved so much, in fact, that he suggested we head to the farmers market every other weekend to make Sunday nights seafood night. My friends, the dragon is slain.



Homemade Pizza - making the dough and sauce from scratch

*Post by Mark.

To me, there's no better street food than pizza. In fact, I love it so much that if I had an extra fifteen grand floating around, I'd probably spend it on wood-fire pizza oven. Sure, that may not sound like a household necessity, but the ability to cook a pizza in three minutes flat at 1000° F is one I'd take advantage of every day. Needless to say, I don't have such an oven, so I do the best with what I have.

I may not be able to cook my pizza much hotter than 475° F in a standard oven, but that isn't to say I can't still take delight in making my own dough and pizza sauce from scratch.



Ingredients for the Pizza Dough:

  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 envelope active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole-weat flour
  • kosher salt

In a small bowl, stir together 1 cup luke-warm water, the honey and 1 teaspoon olive.  Sprinkle the yeast over top and let sit about ten minutes until foamy.



In a large bowl, stir together 1 cup of the all-purpose flour, the whole-wheat flour and one teaspoon kosher salt. Add the yeast mixture and stir. Add the remaining 1/2 cup all-purpose flour as needed to form a soft dough. Work the dough on a floured surface, kneading until the surface of the dough is smooth. The dough should not be sticky. 

Oil a large bowl with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and turn the ball of dough in the bowl to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave it in warm place for about an hour. The dough should rise to about twice its original size.



Ingredients for the pizza sauce:

  • 3-4 Heirloom Tomatoes, cut into chunks
  • Extra-Virgin Olive Oil 
  • Fresh Basil, chopped
  • Garlic, coarsely chopped
  • Oregano
  • Salt and pepper

All of the ingredients can be added in any amount for obviously varying tastes, but I'm never shy with the amount of garlic or basil I use when I make my sauce.



Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat, then add the garlic. Cook the garlic while constantly stirring for 1-2 minutes. Then add the tomato, basil and oregano. Bring everything to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, stirring occasionally until the sauce begins to thicken.



Once most of the liquid has been cooked out, transfer the chunky sauce to a food processor, purée and you have yourself homemade pizza sauce. 



Punch the dough down and let rest for another ten minutes. Pre-heat the oven to 450°F, lightly oil a baking sheet and stretch the dough across it. I like to use the whole wheat flour because it makes the crust a little healthier and more wholesome without conceding any flavor. Sprinkle a little kosher salt over top and add your choice of toppings.



I layered this pizza with dollops of sauce, fresh mozzarella, prosciutto, and fresh basil. 



Cook the pizza at 475° F for 20 minutes or until nicely browned. Remove it from the oven, slice and serve. No doubt, this is some of the best pizza we've made at home - that is, until we install the brick oven in the second bedroom.