Category Archives: Lunch

Breakfast of Champions: Easy Bacon Cheddar Egg-in-a-Hole Croque Madame

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Easy Egg-in-a-Hole Croque Madame. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

A few years ago, I had the privilege of contributing to my friend Rebecca Coleman’s extremely popular mom blog,  Cooking with My Kid. I had been Rebecca’s nanny for a stint and when I moved on to work in the restaurant business, she asked me to come back and help her come up with babysitter-friendly recipes. She named me The Savory Sitter, officially. Because, she reasoned, “NO ONE likes an unsavory sitter.” I agreed and we had a lot of fun making homemade pop tarts, ravioli lasagna and pirate ships made of melon and banana. Okay, that last one was her idea, but she gave me credit for it.

The best kind of eggs: farm fresh.  Photo Credit:  Heather Platt

The best kind of eggs: farm fresh. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

My favorite of the Savory Sitter recipes, though, was the Kid Friendly Egg-in-a-Hole Croque Madame.  I am a huge lover of the classic, French Croque Madame.  But when it came time to make it for Three More Big Bites, I just couldn’t stop thinking about that adorable kid version I’d made for Rebecca. This version is even easier. I forgot putting the ham in the middle and just placed the best kind of bacon, applewood smoked of course, on top of it.  I made it with my favorite bread on earth: the cinnamon raisin loaf from Green Rabbit Naturally Leavened Bread in Waitsfield, Vermont and Cabot Clothbound Cheddar from Jasper Hill Cellars in Greensboro, VT. That being said, any delicious bread and good quality cheddar of your choice will do.

Enjoy!

Heather

Easy Bacon Cheddar Egg-in-Hole Croque Madame. Pottery by Barbara Platt's Pottery. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

Easy Bacon Cheddar Egg-in-Hole Croque Madame. Pottery by Barbara Platt’s Pottery. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

Bacon Cheddar Egg-in-a-Hole Croque Madame

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Filed under Bread, Breakfast, Brunch, Eggs, Heather Platt, Lunch

Winner Winner Lobster Dinner: Steamed Maine Lobster 101

Steamed Lobster. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

Steamed Lobster. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

Despite growing up in a land-locked state, I have had the great fortune of having extended family who dwell along the seacoast in southern Maine.  Every childhood visit there involved a trip to the lobster pound to buy a dozen of the live little crustaceans followed by a casual family feast of the delicious delicacies. We sat around a table, excited with white plastic bibs tied around our necks and claw-crackers in hand. The Vermonters at the table would always ask the Mainers to show them how to efficiently extract the meat from the tail, claws, legs and torso. My cousin Ty would explain that her Aunt Wendy always ate the “green stuff” and as kids we would squeal with disgust and fascination. Now, like the legendary Aunt Wendy, I too eat the “green stuff.” This internal part of the lobster, called Tomalley, is actually the liver and pancreas of the animal. So that explains why I find it so flavorful, which it is, FYI. Aunt Wendy is a smart woman. A big bucket in the center of the table served as a sort of basket ball hoop for shells to be tossed after the precious meat had been consumed.

These lobster dinners, which were served with a 1/4 cup of drawn butter for dipping, toasted English muffins, corn on the cob and a fresh garden salad were all I ever knew of eating lobster. For many years I rolled my eyes at over-priced lobster on restaurant menus. In truth because I just couldn’t bear to eat it outside of this nostalgic familial context. And thanks to a recent tutorial from one of my favorite Mainers, I finally learned how to make it.

Enjoy!

Heather

live lobsters. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

Live Lobsters. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

Classic Steamed Maine Lobster Dinner

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Filed under Dinner, Fall, Fish, Heather Platt, In Season, Lunch, Main Course, Spring, Summer, Winter

Dinner Party for One: Lonely Girl Chicken with Quick Almond-Cherry Couscous and Parsley Garlic Sauce

 lonelygirl chicken 14Cooking is easy. I believe that anyone can make a delicious meal. Like anything in life, it’s a matter of desire. Clearly, I have no problem committing an entire day to ingredient sourcing, chopping, mincing, searing and slicing. It’s fun for me. I understand that it’s not for everyone. And even I have days when I really wish that a home cooked meal would magically appear on my plate. But even though we all differ in our cooking desires and abilities, one common thread remains; we all need to eat. And as far as I know, we would all prefer what we eat to be delicious.

 

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But why does cooking have to be so polarizing? It seems that people are defined as those who cook and those who don’t. There must be some happy medium, some comfortable place halfway in between slaving over David Chang’s braised pork butt and simply running to the neighborhood ramen restaurant for takeout. My column Perfect Pantry was created to tackle this problem. How to cook when you don’t feel like going to the store. But along with ingredients, we need recipes.

The most challenging of these I-don’t-feel-like-cooking times are the nights alone. We’ve all been there. You are in your kitchen, hungry glancing back and forth from your phone to your fridge. The only thing in your freezer is gin. Because if you’re like me, you’re not a frozen-dinner kind-of-person. Is it worth making a mess if it’s just for me? Is there anything here to make? A steamed pork bun just sounds so good right now…Okay, maybe that’s just me. But recently I was in this position. My husband, a musician, has been on tour for most of the summer. So when my favorite person to cook for is away, I can’t help but feel uninspired.

But then I got to thinking about how this whole cooking obsession began in the first place. And I see a single twenty-something girl in her East Village apartment, blasting Belle and Sebastian songs on her stereo and cracking open a bottle of Pinot Noir while she comes up with a purpose for the treasures she rounded up at the Union Square Farmer’s market that day. A girl who cured her own loneliness by regularly throwing herself a one-woman dinner party and in the process, learned how to cook. So eight years later, I decided to channel that inner single girl. And on a hot summer night in Los Angeles, made myself a Bee’s Knees cocktail with the aforementioned gin and started cooking.

Enjoy,

Heather

 

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Lonely Girl Chicken with Quick Almond-Cherry Couscous and Parsley Garlic Sauce
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Filed under Dinner, Fall, Heather Platt, In Season, Lunch, Main Course, Meat, Poultry, Spring, Summer, Winter

Adventures in Himalayan Salt Block Cooking: Peach and Bourbon Glazed Pork Chops with Summer Corn Salad

Peach and Bourbon Glazed Pork Chops with Summer Corn Salad. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

Peach and Bourbon Glazed Pork Chops with Summer Corn Salad. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

A few years ago, on Christmas morning, my sister handed me a rather heavy gift. Inside was a beautiful pink slab of what looked like marble. This is embarrassing, but I had no idea what it was. “It’s a Himalayan salt block!” Naturally. My sister announced, proud of her creative yet relevant gift idea.   And as much as I loved the look and idea of this gorgeous pink block, I’m ashamed to say, it has been sitting in my pantry the ever since. Every so often she would ask, “Have you used that salt block we gave you?” Wide eyed and so excited to hear how it had worked out.  I would shamefully promise, “Not yet. But I will!”

The truth is that I have been intimidated. I consider myself well-versed on the subject of kitchen equipment. I thought from my experience in restaurants that I knew  all there is to know about what an ambitious home cook should have or covet for their own kitchen.  But sure enough, my over-achieving, brilliant, multitasking, genius-of-a-sister had to find the one cooking tool I’d never heard of. The other problem was that, at the time, there wasn’t much information on salt blocks out there. I couldn’t even find a recipe on the internet. More recently, they seem to be growing in popularity and cookbooks are being published on how to use the stunning pink blocks. Not to mention that, a few weeks ago, my sister sent me an email with dozens of links to salt block recipes. God she’s good. I no longer had an excuse. It was time to break in this beauty. I should have done it sooner because the results have been marvelous.

I started out with shrimp, which was incredible! And then moved on to the beloved pork chop. The block gave the chops a beautiful dark crust and a moist, perfectly tender middle. If you don’t have a salt block, don’t worry, you can still make the below pork recipe using a grill or cast-iron skillet. I recommend serving it with a simple summer corn salad and gin gimlets to drink!

Enjoy!

Heather

 

Peach and Bourbon Glazed Pork Chops with Summer Corn Salad. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

Peach and Bourbon Glazed Pork Chops with Summer Corn Salad. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

My beautiful friend Elena capturing the moment. Photo Credit:  Heather Platt

My beautiful friend Elena capturing the moment. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

Peach and Bourbon Glazed Pork Chops with Summer Corn Salad
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Filed under Dinner, Heather Platt, In Season, Lunch, Main Course, Meat, Salad, Side, Summer

Summer Seafood: Seared Scallops with Chickpea Couscous, Warm Summer Tomatoes, Hazelnuts and Tarragon Aioli

Seared Scallops with Chickpea Couscous, Warm Summer Tomatoes, Hazelnuts and Tarragon Aioli. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

Seared Scallops with Chickpea Couscous, Warm Summer Tomatoes, Hazelnuts and Tarragon Aioli. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

I ate too many snails once. I don’t regret it. They were delicious. It was 2003. I was a young, naive étudiante américaine  living in Paris and traveling with an utterly fabulous group of cooler-than-I-will-ever-be French bohemians to a man named Nico’s  oceanfront house in Bretagne. It’s a long story. And  it’s  also called Brittany if you’re American, but I like to pretend that I’m French. America had just begun the guerre en Iraq (war) and I had spent the winter in Paris bundled in French-looking jackets and a blue beret (no joke) that matched the color of my eyes in an attempt to blend in so as to avoid the angry questioning that many Parisians had for Americans at that time.

Nico and his girlfriend Celine were the kind of people who I simultaneously did not understand and yet totally admired. They spent half of their time in Madagascar. They did not want to live in the U.S. because it was not enough of a “bordel” (translation: whorehouse) for them. When asked what she does for work replied “we work with oils,” and one time handed me a plate of the most delicious ratatouille I have ever tasted in my life which we ate while watching the sunset on the balcony of her Paris apartment. Needless to say, a weekend in Bretagne with them was a privilege. And as I quickly learned, Bretagne is like the Vermont and Maine of France, speckled with cows, delicious cheese, cider and fresh seafood all-in-one. Did I mention that Nico was a chef?

On our first morning there, he woke everyone up and insisted that we walk down to the water because the tide was low. Using the given tools we dug up  treasures from the sea. Coquilles St-Jacques (sea scallops), Les huîtres (oysters) and my favorite of all; bulots (sea snails) were caught  for lunch. Bulots are different than the escargot you’ll find at your neighborhood French restaurant. Bulots are meatier, tougher and chewier. We ate the oysters raw and Nico steamed everything else and made a simple homemade aioli for dipping. On that beautiful sunny day in Bretagne, I ate more than my fair share of bulots mayonnaise.

I haven’t eaten bulots since then, been back to Bretagne or spoken to anyone on that holiday in about ten years. It was one of those trips where the only souvenir I have of it are the memories and the occasional really strong craving for homemade aioli with my seafood. So a few nights ago while preparing to make scallops with summer tomatoes and hazelnuts, I just couldn’t stop thinking about those bulots and Nico’s delicious aioli. So this quick summer dish of pan-seared sea scallops gets a special flourish at the end. A dollop of fresh made aioli as a tribute to Bretagne.

Enjoy!

Heather

 

Seared Scallops with Chickpea Couscous, Warm Summer Tomatoes, Hazelnuts and Tarragon Aioli

Serves 4

for aioli:

  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2/3 cup grape seed oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup tarragon leaves

In a mortar and pestle, pound the garlic and salt to a paste. In a cold metal bowl place the egg yolk. Gradually whisk in the oil one drop at a time whisking constantly to make the mayonnaise.  As the mayonnaise becomes thick you may whisk in the remaining oil in a slow steady stream. If the mayonnaise becomes too thick, you may add a drop of cold water. Fold in the garlic paste, lemon juice and cayenne pepper. Set aside and refrigerate if necessary.

 

for couscous

  • 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 cup dried chickpeas
  • 3 large carrots, julienned
  • 1 cup whole wheat couscous
  • kosher salt

In a medium saucepan, bring the half of the vegetable broth to a boil. Add the chickpeas and cook until softened, about 30 minutes. Add the remaining vegetable broth and return to a bowl. Add the couscous and carrots, remove from heat and cover. Let stand while you make the scallops.

for scallops

  • 1/3 cup coarsely  skin-on hazelnuts
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • pound large sea scallops, side muscle removed, patted dry
  • 1 pint mixed colored mini heirloom tomatoes
  •   2 large shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Preheat oven to 350°. Place the hazelnuts on a baking sheet and roast until fragrant and  golden brown, about  8 minutes. Remove from oven and coarsely chop. Toss them with 1 teaspoon olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, heat remaining olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until very hot. Season scallops with salt and pepper and, using tongs, place in the pan. Sear on until golden brown and just cooked through, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and keep warm.

Add tomatoes and shallot to the pan , season with salt and pepper, and cook for about 6 minutes. Mix in the red wine vinegar.

Place a large spoonful of the chickpea couscous on the center of each plate. Spoon the tomatoes and shallots over the couscous. Place the scallops on top of the couscous, sprinkle with hazelnuts and finish with a dollop of aioli and tarragon leaves.

 

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Filed under Dinner, Eggs, Fish, Heather Platt, In Season, Lunch, Main Course, Summer

The Vermont Farm Table Cookbook: Kale Salad with Asian Peanut Dressing

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Kale Salad with Asian Peanut Dressing. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

Kale Salad with Asian Peanut Dressing. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

Amee Farm Organic Kale. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

Amee Farm Organic Kale. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

Amee Farm. Pittsfield, Vermont. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

Amee Farm. Pittsfield, Vermont. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

A few months ago, I received an exciting email from a woman named Tracey Medeiros. Tracey lives in Vermont and is a freelance food writer, food stylist,  recipe developer and tester. She is quite frankly, my dream job personified.  She had  found me  on the internet and, noticing that I’m a food-oriented person from Vermont, asked  if I would like a copy of her latest cookbook The Vermont Farm Table Cookbook.  Once my palpable envy of her career/life  subsided, I responded with an obvious and extremely grateful “YES and thank you!” The truth is that I already owned her first  wonderful cookbook Dishing up Vermont. It was one of those cookbooks that I’d flipped through over and over again. The charming pictures of Vermont farm animals, inns, restaurants and the beautiful dishes it’s chefs had created with the local and seasonal produce, cheese, eggs, meat and poultry would make me hungry and homesick all at once.  When I received The Vermont Farm Table Cookbook in the mail from Tracey’s publicist, it had the same effect on me.  With a strong urge to make hearty winter dishes like Vermont Cheddar Soup, Sauteed Sea Scallops in a Smoked Bacon and Maple Cream Sauce and Amber Ale-Braised Highland Chuck Beef Roast, I ignored the 90 degree weather and the palm trees swaying outside the window of my Los Angeles apartment and headed to my local farmers market. The results,  albeit weather-inappropriate were always delicious.

Now, several months later, I am here in this magical moment in Vermont known as late June. The mountains are more verdant than ever, the buttercups are decorating the fields like yellow sprinkles on a bright green cake, the humid heat of summer has not yet arrived but the cold is long gone. The sun seems like it will never set and a cool breeze makes for restful nights. So what better time to continue cooking from my new favorite Vermont cookbook? And seeing as I was married last weekend here amidst the glory of the green mountains and proceeded to  happily indulge in food (I can’t seem seem to get enough cheese!!) and beverage, it seemed appropriate to eat a salad made of local kale.

Almost of the ingredients for this refreshing and nourishing salad were purchased at the East Warren Community Market in Warren, Vermont. This is my all-time favorite place to buy food. Everything on the shelves is made locally with love and the store is so perfectly curated that the manager once told me that she didn’t carry a certain kind of popcorn because she didn’t like the packaging. The feta I used is from Maplebrook Farms in Bennington, Vermont and I substituted pine nuts for the pepitas.

Enjoy!

Heather

 

Kale Salad with Asian Peanut Dressing. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

Kale Salad with Asian Peanut Dressing. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

Massaged Kale Salad with Asian Peanut Dressing

by Tracey Medeiros

serves 4

  • 1/3 cup pepitas (or walnuts or sunflower seeds)
  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 bunch green kale, stemmed and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2 cup Asian Peanut Dressing (recipe follows)
  • 2 small peaches, pitted and diced
  • 2 ounces Maplebrook Farm feta cheese, crumbled (1/2 cup)

Place the pepitas, oil and salt in a medium skillet and toss to coat. Toast over medium heat until the pepitas turn light brown and start to pop, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside on paper towels.

In a large bowl, combine the kale and 1/2 of the dressing. Using your hands, massage the kale until it is bright green and slightly softened, 2 to 3 minutes, adding more dressing to taste. Top with the pepitas, peaches and feta. Serve at once.

Asian Peanut Dressing

Makes 1 1/3 cups

  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons plain yogurt
  • 4 teaspoons grated ginger
  • 4 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon peanut butter
  • 2 teaspoons chili garlic sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons brown sugar

Whisk together all the ingredients until combined.

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maplebrook farm, feta

east warren community market

East Warren Community Market. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

East Warren Community Market. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

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Filed under cookbooks, Dinner, Heather Platt, Lunch, Main Course, Raw, Salad, Side, Vegetarian

Suzanne Goin’s AOC Cookbook Preview: Grilled Snapper with Cous Cous, Apricots, Yogurt, and Pistachio Aillade

grilled snapper with cous cous, apricots, yogurt, and pistachio aillade. Photo credit: Heather Platt

grilled snapper with cous cous, apricots,
yogurt, and pistachio aillade. Photo credit: Heather Platt

Los Angeles Farmer's Market. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

Los Angeles Farmer’s Market. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

In Suzanne Goin’s upcoming AOC cookbook, she explains the importance of combining flavors and ingredients in perfect harmony. “I am constantly working to integrate and unite ingredients so that the sum of a dish is greater than its parts.” This concept is something that has impressed me year after year at Lucques. When tasting new dishes I often notice our waitstaff’s eyes light up with amazement and delight. This dish of grilled snapper with saffron cous cous, apricots, yogurt and pistachio aillade is the perfect example of this notion. Delicious grilled fish, apricots roasted in honey, clove and star anise syrup and Suzanne’s famous pistachio aillade are all delicious on their own. But put them together atop a bed of saffron cous cous with spring onions and a dollop of yogurt and you’ve created something completely different, new and deliciously jaw-dropping.  Not to mention completely gorgeous on the plate! And I always recommend making extra pistachio aillade because you’ll want to eat it on everything, drizzled over salad or on a fresh baguette. Suzanne loves this sauce so much she even invented a sweet version of it for her desserts!

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Filed under Dinner, Fish, Gluten-free, Heather Platt, In Season, Lunch, Main Course, Spring, Summer