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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Take comfort!

There's no place like the COMFORT of home....Pittsburgh PA as seen from Mt. Washington.

 Happy Fall! 

There's a chill in the air.
It's Sunday.
We're entertaining house guests. 
We've got football.
We've got logs for the fire.
And, we've got that obnoxious big TV. 
Time to roll out an easy but yummy comfort food menu.

Autumn Panzanella 

This looks like a lot of work but's super easy. Plus, I double promise you that you will be dreaming about this taste combo all season long!


  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 12 cups crust-free cubed day-old bread (1/2-inch cubes)*
  • 3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  • 2 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 yellow onion, coarsely chopped
  • Sea salt, preferably gray salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons warm water


  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 pound fresh wild mushrooms, thickly sliced or quartered
  • 2 tablespoons finely minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 tablespoons finely minced garlic
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup thinly sliced celery heart (on the diagonal), plus some chopped leaves
  • 1/4 red onion, very thinly sliced onion-soup style
  • 2 ounces baby arugula or spinach leaves
  • Grated Parmesan

For the croutons: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Melt 1/4 cup butter in a large skillet over moderate heat and cook until it foams. In a large bowl, pour the butter over the 12 cups cubed bread and toss to coat. Sprinkle with Parmesan and freshly ground black pepper. Toss to season all of the bread. Transfer the bread to a baking sheet.
Bake, stirring once or twice, until the croutons are crisp and lightly colored on the outside but still soft within, about 15 minutes. Let cool.
Croutons can be made 1 day ahead and stored in an airtight container.
*Michael's Notes: I use a serrated knife to remove the crust from day-old bread, then switch to a chef's knife to cut the cubes because it doesn't tear the bread. Also note that I recommend grating the Parmesan finely so that it will stick to the bread better.
For the dressing: Melt the butter in a small skillet over moderately low heat. Add the yellow onion and saute until soft, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the vinegar and stir with a wooden spoon to release any browned bits stuck on the bottom of the skillet. Transfer to a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. With the machine running, slowly add 1/2 cup of the olive oil, then the water. Transfer to a bowl and season with salt and pepper.
For the salad: Heat a large skillet over high heat. When hot, add 1/4 cup olive oil. When the oil begins to smoke, sprinkle in the mushrooms. Don't stir! Let them sizzle until they have caramelized on the bottom, about 2 minutes. If you toss them too soon, they will release their liquid and begin to steam. When the bottoms are caramelized, toss the mushrooms, reduce the heat to moderate, and continue to cook until well browned. Stir in the thyme and garlic and cook for about 1 minute to release their fragrance. Season with salt and pepper.
In a large bowl, combine the croutons, the mushrooms, and the onion dressing. Toss well to coat. Add the celery, red onion, and arugula or spinach and toss again gently. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Grate fresh Parmesan on top and serve immediately.

Beef Tenderloin with Port-Balsamic Sauce 
OMG! You could drink this sauce.  If you are feeling a tad bit decadent, finish it off with some heavy cream.  Amazing!
  • 1 cup ruby Port
  • 1 cup dry white wine

  • 2 8-ounce beef tenderloin steaks
  • All purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Boil Port and wine in heavy small saucepan until mixture is reduced to 2/3 cup, about 15-20 minutes. Set aside.
Sprinkle steaks with salt and pepper. Dust with flour; shake off excess. Melt 1 tablespoon butter with oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add steaks; cook to desired doneness, about 4 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer steaks to platter (do not clean skillet); tent steaks with foil to keep warm.
Add Port mixture and vinegar to same skillet and bring to boil, scraping up any browned bits. Boil until reduced to sauce consistency, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter and whisk just until melted. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer steaks to plates. Spoon sauce over and serve.

Risotto con Parmigiano-Reggiano

The easiest and best risotto on the planet.  Can't go wrong with this.  Keep adding the just makes it better and better!
  • 5 cups (about) canned low-salt chicken broth

  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion
  • 1 1/2 cups arborio rice
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • Shaved Parmesan cheese

Bring broth to boil in medium saucepan. Reduce heat to low; cover saucepan.
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in heavy medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add onion; sauté until very tender but not brown, about 15 minutes. Increase heat to medium. Add rice and stir 1 minute. Add 1 1/2 cups warm broth. Boil gently until broth is absorbed, stirring frequently. Add another 1 cup broth; stir until broth is absorbed. Add remaining 2 1/2 cups broth, 1/2 cup at a time, allowing broth to be absorbed before adding more and stirring frequently until rice is tender and mixture is creamy, about 25 minutes. Stir in 2 tablespoons butter and 1 cup grated cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to bowl. Sprinkle with parsley and shaved Parmesan.

Herb-Roasted Onions

If you love gooey carmelized onions like I love gooey carmelized onions...these are an easy alternative.  Throw on some guyere cheese and OMG.....!

  • 2 red onions
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon minced fresh parsley leaves

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Remove the stem end of each onion and carefully slice off the brown part of the root end, leaving the root intact. Peel the onion. Stand each onion root end up on a cutting board and cut the onion in wedges through the root. Place the wedges in a bowl.
For the dressing, combine the lemon juice, mustard, garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Slowly whisk in the olive oil. Pour the dressing over the onions and toss well.
With a slotted spoon, transfer the onions to a sheet pan, reserving the vinaigrette that remains in the bowl. Bake the onions for 30 to 45 minutes, until tender and browned. Toss the onions once during cooking. Remove from the oven, and drizzle with the reserved dressing. Sprinkle with parsley, season to taste and serve warm or at room temperature.

 Apple Brown Betty

Who knew a dessert could be so easy?  This is autumn in a dish!  Go out and get some vanilla ice cream and serve it over  warm apple brown betty and you will be swooning.....

  • 1 1/2 to 2 sticks salted butter, cut into pieces, plus more for greasing
  • 8 slices hearty wheat bread, diced
  • 3 apples, preferably Granny Smith, peeled, cored and diced
  • 1 1/2 packed cups brown sugar, plus more if needed

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Generously butter a 9-by-13-inch rectangular baking dish.
Place half the diced bread in the baking dish, and then sprinkle on half the diced apples, half the brown sugar and half the butter. Repeat with another layer of bread, apples, brown sugar and butter. End by sprinkling 1/2 cup water all over the surface, a spoonful at a time.
Bake, covered in foil, until the apples are tender, about 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes to brown.

You can thank me later......right now it's time to start cooking!

1 comment:

Jody V said...

Totally copied each and every recipe as usual! Food Network needs to call you!!