Monday, November 21, 2022

Happy Thanksgiving! Good Luck with the Turkey!

With all the "fun" in the kitchen this week, sometimes it's easy to forget that you need to feed your company breakfast! Don't worry, I've got the best recipe for "Breakfast Strata with Spinach and Gruyere!" This is one of my all-time favorite recipes! The best part is that you make it ahead (always smart with company lingering!) and can be successfully doubled for larger crowds! Everyone always loves it! Don't forget to check my Recipes page for other excellent recipes, e.g., The Great After-Thanksgiving Turkey EnchiladasGratin Dauphinois, and Boursin Creamed Spinach, just to name a few!

Breakfast Strata with Spinach and Gruyere

Serves 6 (or 12 if doubled)


8-10, 1/2" slices supermarket French or Italian bread (I always make a few extra.)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
4 medium shallots, minced
1, 10 ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup medium-dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
6 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated (about 1 1/2 cups)
6 large eggs
1 3/4 cups half-and-half

*If doubled, double the ingredients and use a 13"x9" baking dish greased with 1 1/2 tablespoons butter and bake for about 60 minutes.*


Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 225 degrees. Arrange the bread in a single layer on a large baking sheet and bake until dry and crisp, about 40 minutes, turning the slices over halfway through the drying time. When the bread has cooled, butter the slices on one side with 2 tablespoons of the butter, set aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the butter in a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat. Saute the shallots until fragrant and translucent, about 3 minutes; add the spinach and salt and pepper to taste and cook, stirring occasionally, until combined, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl; set aside. Add the wine to the skillet, increase the heat to medium-high, and simmer until reduced to 1/4 cup, 2-3 minutes; set aside.

Butter an 8" square baking dish with the remaining 1 tablespoon butter; arrange half of the bread slices, buttered-side up in a single layer in the dish. (Don't worry if the bread doesn't completely cover the bottom, it will swell as it sits overnight.)

Sprinkle half of the spinach mixture, then 1/2 cup grated cheese evenly over the bread slices.

Arrange the remaining bread slices in a single layer over the cheese; sprinkle the remaining spinach mixture and another 1/2 cup cheese evenly over the bread. (The remainder of the cheese will be added right before baking.) Whisk the eggs in a medium bowl until combined; whisk in the reduced wine, the half-and-half, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste. Pour the egg mixture evenly over the bread layers; 

cover the surface flush with plastic wrap, weight down with whatever you have in the pantry, and refrigerate overnight.

Remove the dish from the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature 20 minutes. Meanwhile, adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 325 degrees. Uncover the strata and sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup cheese evenly over the surface. Bake until both the edges and the center are puffed and the edges have pulled away slightly from the sides of the dish, 50-55 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes; serve.

Recipe adapted from The New Best Recipe, from the editors of Cook's Illustrated.

Saturday, October 29, 2022

Devilishly Good Chicken!

Foods that are highly seasoned (e.g., mustard, chilies, etc.) or sinfully rich (e.g., chocolate cake) have been referred to as "deviled" since the 18th century. In 1868, The William Underwood Company began selling a mixture of ground ham with seasonings which they named "deviled ham." In fact, their devil logo is one of the oldest trademarked logo still in use today. While I love highly seasoned food, canned ham is not my kind of thing. Trust me. I used to audit food processing plants (like Ballpark Franks), haven't eaten one since!
Image result for deviled ham
The original Underwood Deviled Ham logo.
With Halloween almost here, I want to share this wickedly addictive recipe from Williams-Sonoma for "Chicken Thighs Diavolo." Diavolo means devil in Italian, but only dishes invented by Italian-Americans use the term. In Italy, they would refer to a spicy dish as all-arrabiata meaning "angry-style." I digress. Anyway, these chicken thighs are marinated in a wonderful blend of cider vinegar and five different chili spices, then grilled to juicy perfection. Delicious! I love this marinade so much! In addition, you could use it on practically any cut of chicken or even pork. I don't know who created this spice blend, but they must have sold their soul to the devil to create it!

Chicken Thighs Diavolo

Serves 6

For the marinade
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
1 tablespoon coarse salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon Thai chili paste or red pepper flakes (I use Chili Garlic Sauce by Huy Fung Foods, Inc.)
1 teaspoon hot-pepper sauce (I use Cholula.)
1/2 cup water

For the Chicken Thighs
3 pounds bone-in chicken thighs, trimmed of any excess skin and fat
1 or 2 handfuls wood chips, soaked in water for 30 minutes. (I use mesquite.)
1 large disposable aluminum roasting pan

In a bowl, combine marinade ingredients and whisk until the salt and granulated garlic dissolve. Taste and adjust the seasonings; the sauce should be bright red and very spicy. Pour half the sauce into a small serving bowl and set aside.

Rinse the chicken under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels. Using a sharp knife, score the chicken to the bone in several places to expose the flesh. Place the chicken in a large disposable aluminum roasting pan, pour the remaining sauce over the top and turn to coat well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 4 hours. Remove from the refrigerator 10 minutes before grilling.

Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for indirect grilling over medium heat.

For a charcoal grill: Sprinkle the wood chips over the coals. Place the pan with the thighs on the cooler side of the grill, cover and cook until cooked through, about 30 minutes. Transfer the thighs to the grate directly over the coals, brush with the marinade from the pan and grill, turning often, until nicely charred on all sides, 3 to 5 minutes more.

For a gas grill: Increase a burner to high. Heat a smoker box half full of chips until smoking, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Place the pan with the thighs over unlit burners, cover and cook until cooked through, about 30 minutes. Transfer the thighs to the grate directly over the heat, brush with the marinade from the pan and grill, turning often, until nicely charred on all sides, 3 to 5 minutes more.

Transfer the chicken to a platter. Serve immediately and pass the reserved sauce alongside.

Monday, October 17, 2022

Albondigas Salvador! The best meatballs you will ever taste!

I tried this mind-blowingly good recipe for "Albondigas Salvador" from Deliciouso! by the sadly now departed Penelope Casas. If you are a lover of Spanish food or a novice, one of her cookbooks is a must. She wrote that this recipe is from Salvador Lucero of Bar Bahia in Cadiz. After further research, I found that Salvador sold the business and these beauties aren't even on the new menu. What a shame.

When I make Ragu alla Bolognese, I always have a half pound ground beef and a half pound ground pork leftover and this is what I make. The ingredients are simple; however, there is a lot of mincing of ingredients which are divided, so pay attention to your mise en place and read the recipe a few times before starting. I will share the breakdown of ingredients to help with any confusion. I serve it with this lovely saffron rice, salad, baguette, and a bottle of Rioja. Desfrute! 

Albondigas Salvador

Serves 4


1/4 cup dried bread crumbs (I use Progresso Italian style.)
3/4 cup chicken broth (1/2 and 1/4)
1 pound mixture of ground pork and beef in equal parts
4 garlic cloves, minced (2 and 2)
2 Tablespoons minced parsley (1 and 1)
7 Tablespoons minced onion (3 Tbl and 4 Tbl)
Generous grinding of black pepper
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg (I always freshly grind it on a grater or in my beloved nutmeg grinder.)
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt (I use 1 teaspoon.)
1 small egg, lightly beaten
2 Tablespoons olive oil (1 and 1) (I use La Espanola as recommended by a dear friend.)
Flour for dusting
1 fresh bay leaf
1 small tomato, skinned, seeded, and chopped
1/4 cup dry white wine (I use Osborne Sherry Fino and it is perfect!)


In a large bowl, soak the bread crumbs in 1/2 cup of the chicken broth. Lightly mix in the meat, 2 of the minced garlic cloves, 1 tablespoon of the minced parsley, 3 tablespoons of the onion, the pepper, nutmeg, salt, egg, and 1 tablespoon of the oil. Shape into 1 1/2-inch balls and dust with flour. (Makes about 20 and can be made ahead and refrigerated.)

Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a shallow casserole (I use an All Clad skillet with lid.) and brown the meatballs on all sides. (I remove the meatballs and set aside.) Add the remaining 2 cloves of minced garlic, 4 tablespoons onion, and 1 tablespoon parsley, and the bay leaf. Saute until the onion has softened. (I return the meatballs to the pan here.) Add the tomato, the remaining 1/4 cup broth, the wine, and season with salt and pepper, if needed. Cover and simmer 45 minutes, adding more chicken broth or water, if necessary. (I've never had to add extra.)

*Swedish Meatballs aren't too shabby either!*