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Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Vegetarian Heaven - The Easiest Cauliflower Coucous

Today, due to popular demand, I'd like to take a moment to share the easy how-to for Cauliflower Couscous. Never heard of it? Well, in short, it's the latest low carb craze to really take off. Cauliflower Couscous is merely minced Cauliflower Florets, slightly steamed to mimic the consistency of our fave Israeli Couscous or Rice. What I love about it is that it allows you to cut the carbs while your getting your veggies! You won't believe how easy and satisfying it is, and I promise once you try it you'll be adding it to your dinner rotation week after week. 

Cauliflower Coucous with Carrots, Arugula, Red Onion & Red Grapes, Photo: NK 

Easy Cauliflower Couscous
Inspired by The Kitchn

1 Head of Cauliflower
Microwave Safe Bowl with Lid (or pot with a cover for the stove) 


Take one head of Cauliflower and either pulse it carefully into small bits in a food processor, or grate it with a hand grater (for small grain) or cut it carefully into small pieces (as above, to mimic Israeli Couscous). 

Once done, place in a covered heat proof bowl and microwave about 5 minutes until tender but not mushy. 

Prepare as you like! We like to use Cauliflower Couscous in stir fry dishes or to create a "Couscous" Salad as we did here. The above was mixed with Chopped Greens, Rainbow Carrots, Red Grapes and Red Onion. I dressed it with a little Olive Oil and Vinegar. It was delish and lasted two days in the fridge. Enjoy! 

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Season's Bounty - Israeli Couscous With Fig & Arugula

It's that time of year again - when we share our newest version of our absolute favorite starchy side - Israeli Couscous. Check out old recipes HERE, HERE, and HERE. Today's creation came to be thanks to inspiration from especially sweet, in-season Figs. 

Israeli Couscous With Fig & Arugula, Photo: NK
One look at their dark purple hue and strikingly rosy inner flesh and I new they'd need to make it to the dinner table somehow. Israeli Couscous is a great vehicle for an endless number of flavor profiles. Today's also includes crispy, toasted Almonds, Sharp Provolone, and more crunch and color from Red Onions. To finish, we stir in thin ribbons of farm fresh Arugula to add a slight bite to the dish. The results are delicious. 

As with all Couscous, you can boil the grains ahead and incorporate the rest of the ingredients whenever it's convenient. It is a good idea to let the finished product sit at least an hour for the flavors to blend. The longer it sits, the better it gets! 

Seasonal Israeli Couscous With Fig, Arugula & Toasted Almonds
Serves 8 as a small side dish

2 Cups Dry Israeli Couscous
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
3 Ounces Sharp Provolone, cut into a small dice
1 small bunch of Arugula, minced
1/2 medium Red Onion finely diced
7 Large Black Figs cut into eighths 
3 Tablespoons Toasted Slivered Almonds
Sea Salt or fine table Salt

Dressing Ingredients:
1 Tablespoon Fine Quality Olive Oil
2 teaspoons Balsamic Vineger
1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt

In a large, deep pan, toast dry Couscous over medium low heat, stirring frequently, until it takes on some color. Remove before any of it burns. Prepare 2 Cups of the Dry, toasted Couscous according to the package directions using water. Do not overcook. Leave it slightly al dente. Put in a large bowl and add 1 Tablespoon good quality Olive Oil. Add a few shakes of Salt. Stir and let cool slightly.

Next, add the Red Onion, Provolone, Toasted Almonds, and Arugula. Stir to combine. 

Prepare the Dressing by combining the three ingredients in a small bowl. Pour over the Couscous and toss to distribute. 

Finally, add the Figs by stirring in gently. Taste for seasoning and add Pepper. Add additional Salt as needed. You can let this sit at room temperature up to an hour. If longer, let it sit in the fridge. Allow some times for flavors to blend. Bring to room temperature before serving. Enjoy!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Italian Grill - Marinated Ribeye Tagliata

We don't eat a lot of red meat in our house but when we do, we go all out. With summer on the way out and our barbecuing days numbered, I decide to use our favorite grill book, Mario Batali's Italian Grill as inspiration for a pair of beautiful Ribeyes I'd spotted at the butcher earlier that day. I was in the market for a T-bone (check out our previous success with Bistecca alla Fiorentina herebut they were out. 

When it came time to think about how to prepare my Ribeyes, I decided to lightly adapt Mario's marinade for Tagliata. As he will tell you, Tagliata refers not to the type of Steak itself but simply that it will be served in slices. We presented ours as the book suggests, cut into thick strips and plated alongside lightly dressed arugula leaves.
Italian Marinated Ribeye - Photo: NK 

This marinade will work well whether you let it sit in the fridge for the recommended 12 hours or just 4 to 6 hours as I did. The sugar in helps create a lovely char on the meat and balances the salty, garlicky flavors nicely. I hope that you enjoy this winner of a meal and that like us, you make the most of the remaining grilling season in the waning days of summer. Buon appetito! 

Italian-Style Marinated Ribeye 
Lightly adapted from Mario Batali's Italian Grill
Serves 3-4


2 1.25 Ounce Ribeyes (About 1.5 to 1 and 3/4 inches thick) 
3 large or 6 Small Cloves of Garlic, peeled and very finely minced (or put through a press)
1 teaspoon minced fresh Rosemary 
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 teaspoon Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper Flake
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
(Arugula for serving) 

Mix together all the dry ingredients in a small bowl and then add the Olive Oil. Mix to form a paste (adding more Olive Oil if needed). Slather Steaks all over with marinade, cover in Saran Wrap and let sit in the fridge at least 4 hours, but preferably 6-12 hours or overnight. 

Allow to sit at room temperature up to an hour before grilling. Grill on a charcoal or gas grill according to this grill guide, flipping it midway in between. Allow the meat to rest for 10 minutes before serving, the cut it against the grain in 1 inch thick slices. Serve on a platter over Arugula or dark, leafy greens of your choice dressed in a bit of Olive Oil and a sprinkle of Salt. Enjoy! 

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Return of a Classic - Prosciutto & Melon

"This is sooo good. Remember when prosciutto and melon was the first course at every wedding you went to for 10 years straight? " I hadn't really thought about it this way but my sister-in-law was absolutely right. I'd just served the most unimaginative starter ever. 

Was my cuisine dated? Was I a hack? All these thoughts crossed my mind as I set about putting an even bigger dent in the bottle of rose we'd been draining by the minute.  Thankfully it only took another bite of the paper-thin, velvety prosciutto against the sweetest and most fragrant Sugar Kiss Melon to come back to reality. Nah, I'm not a hack. This is beyond delicious.

Prosciutto & Melon, Photo: NK

And so it goes with the classics, t
hose easy dishes that enjoy great popularity, sometimes to their detriment, they're classic for a reason, but that's not an excuse to phone it in. When you're serving a starter thats simplicity has made it exceedingly popular, it's all about the execution. If you miss the mark there, you'll find yourself in lukewarm wedding banquet territory in the blink of an eye.

I'll give you an example: Pigs in a Blanket are everyone's favorite casual party bite. Even when they're bad, they're good, but how much better and more memorable are they when they're great? My philosophy is simple: if you're going to serve something that's been done to death, make sure it's the best they ever had, or close! To that end, here
 are a few great Pigs in a Blanket Recipes with a twist HERE and HERE.

As for the ubiquitous Prosciutto & Melon itself, it's actually a pretty classic and legit Italian starter, not just popular here in America. While you're feeling go about that, check out my easy tips on how to do this rightfully well-loved dish justice.

Prosciutto & Melon, How To:

Only the best. If you can, spend a little extra on the Imported Prosciutto. Here in America, we only see a few types consistently (San Daniele or di Parma, for example), but there are actually inumerable varieties of Italy's king of the cured meats. Secondly, do not, I repeat, do not attempt this dish if your Melon isn't perfectly ripe and gorgeous. We used Sugar Kiss Melon, which is like a Cantaloupe but smaller, because it's in-season now. If Honeydew is better, use that. And finally, if you can't find ripe Melon or the season is just off, serve something else. This dish only sings when each individual component is at its peak (that principle also happens to be the essence of fresh, simple Italian cuisine). 

Consider your format. Is your dish for a cocktail party, a sit down first course, a passable hors d'oeuvre?? Decide on how your presentation will best fit the needs of your guests. In other words, how will you cut your Melon? When served individually, Prosciutto and Melon will usually be presented as one large wedge of Cantaloupe with a ribbon of Prosciutto draped around it. In today's dish, we opted for a sharable platter of Melon cut quite small as you see above - two or three bites a piece, because our event was a casual Barbecue. For a cocktail party, throw the ingredients right on a stick

Don't forget plating.  So, so important and a key commandment here at Neurotic Kitchen! Good plating can make the difference between lazy and luxurious. Take your time with it, sketch it out even, and, please, don't forget to garnish. I always add something green to my Prosciutto and Melon, such as Mint (my favorite, pictured above), Italian Parsley, or baby Arugula. And I never serve this dish without sprinkling the assembled platter or plates with Lemon Juice and then garnishing with Lemon Wedges. Lemon just brings out the flavors even more. 

There you have it. Easy doesn't have to me uninspired. Buon appetito!