Category Archives: Main Course

Valentine’s Day Dinner Ideas from ‘Heather Cooks!’

Let’s face it, there’s nothing more romantic than a home cooked meal and nothing more unromantic than eating over-priced pre-fixe menus in crowded restaurants. Here are some of my favorite things to make for my sweetie on Valentine’s Day (or any day.)

Creamy Spaghetti Carbonara:

Seared Scallops with Sage Brown Butter:

Butternut Squash Risotto:

Roasted Chicken with Herbs:

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Filed under Dinner, Heather Platt, In Season, Lunch, Main Course, Meat, Pasta, Uncategorized, Winter

Cooking with an Idiot: Steak with Chimichurri Sauce

Daniel is a genius. It’s also a bit of a miracle that we’re still friends considering after arriving at NYU from Vermont in the fall of 2000, I thought it was okay to wear my brown corduroy overalls to orientation. Daniel, who isn’t shy about his opinions, later admitted to having “judged me harshly” for the poor fashion choice. I’ve had classmates express vague recollections of what they remember as ‘a bear costume’ when they first met me.  I cringe realizing that it was actually those beloved overalls. Thankfully Daniel isn’t shallow and his first impression quickly subsided and fourteen years of friendship continues.

Some of the many stories I want to tell about Daniel include: his unlikely and very brave day on September 11, 2001, his hilarious experience as a rebellious second grader in Santiago, Chile and his stranger-than-fiction roommate in Madrid. But these are long, precious to me (and probably him), and beside the point. So I thought we could sum it all up with a couple of lists.

Things Daniel is good at:

1. Being a best friend. I had my heart broken for the first time during my Freshman year of college. As a result, I cried while in rest pose during yoga class (If you’re in drama school at NYU, you take yoga for credit, naturally.) While the tears streamed down my face onto my mat, arms stretched down my sides in proper Savasana, I felt a hand tap the top of mine, comfortingly.  Daniel on the mat next to me remained still but had reached out his arm just enough to tell me it was all going to be okay. And it was.

2. Writing stories.

3. Making me laugh so hard I can’t breath.

4. Planning trips to the beach. One time on a drive to Malibu, Daniel seemed so unnaturally euphoric  that I became sincerely suspicious and  had to ask if he had taken something.  “No! I just LOVE the beach.”

Things Daniel isn’t good at:

1. Math. Considering his genius in all other areas, this caught me off guard once in a New York City taxi cab. When I exited the yellow vehicle and realized Daniel hadn’t gotten out, I peeked back in to see him with one hand flexed, pushing down on the top of his head in utter confusion as if the pressure on his skull would somehow work as a calculator for computing taxi cab tip amounts.

2. Cooking.  “Is there enough for a hungry Dan?” He used to ask when I offered him whatever cafeteria-alternative I had cooked up in my dorm for my roommates.  “Mmm…it’s a revelation.” He has said with wide eyes while chomping down on corn on the cob with miso butter at my house. “I’m savoring every bite.” He has explained while my husband and I notice that we’re eating embarrassingly faster than him. The compliments certainly make me love cooking for Daniel. But when it comes to his own skills…He has a thing or two to learn. So we made this video.

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Filed under Gluten-free, Heather Platt, Lunch, Main Course, Meat, Summer, Videos

Just Can’t Get Enough: Teriyaki Chicken with Momofuku’s Pickled Vegetables

Teriyaki Chicken with Momofuku's pickled vegetables. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

Teriyaki Chicken with Momofuku’s pickled vegetables. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

If you’ve ever dined at any one of the variety of restaurants in David Chang‘s empire, you know that he  always does it right.  I have had the Momofuku cookbook for many years. And as much as I have treasured it and taken pride in the fact that I frequented the original East Village noodle bar when it first opened around the corner from my apartment, I have been wary of the cookbook.  The photographs are stunning but the myriad of new ingredients and daylong preparations, though salivating, had me resorting back to my usual books.

But a recent pickle obsession has made me revisit the lovely wood and peach covered volume. Despite previously embarking on the art of Japanese pickles, I just couldn’t stop thinking about them, or more accurately, how to make them better. Sure enough on page 66, there is a recipe called “Vinegar Pickles, Master Recipe.” For some reason the words “master recipe” just made me SO happy. It’s like I could hear David Chang’s voice speaking to me “Look no further Heather, you have found the ONLY pickle recipe you will ever need.” I felt confident that it would be. And it is.

Teriyaki chicken is not in the Momofuku cookbook. This is my quick and easy weeknight  recipe for the busy home cook. Serve it with those Momofuku master pickles and it will not disappoint.  The pickles can be made up to a month in advance or served immediately. Chang recommends up to a week for “optimum flavor.”

Enjoy!

Heather

Teriyaki Chicken

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Filed under cookbooks, Dinner, Gluten-free, Heather Platt, Lunch, Main Course, Poultry, Quick and Easy

The Best Burgers on a Bun: Turkey Cheeseburgers with Caramelized Onions, Bacon, Manchego, Avocado and Spicy Aioli

Turkey Cheeseburger. Photo Credit:  Heather Platt

Turkey Cheeseburger. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

I never thought I would be writing about turkey burgers. How boring. I’ve never ordered a turkey burger at a restaurant, or really like them that much.  The idea of a “healthy” version of anything that is normally delicious tends to make me roll my eyes. But on a recent grocery shopping trip, my husband suggested that we ( meaning, I) make them for dinner. Instead of turning my nose up to such a non-traditional burger idea, I saw it as a challenge. How can I make this low-fat concept into something completely mouthwatering and delicious? Homemade aioli, avocado, caramelized onions, bacon and a perfectly ripe California avocado came to mind. Oh, and don’t forget the toasted brioche bun.

Enjoy!

Heather

Turkey Burger. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

Turkey Cheeseburger. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

 

Turkey Burger. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

Turkey Cheeseburger. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

 

Turkey Cheeseburgers with Caramelized Onions, Avocado, Bacon and Spicy  Aioli

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Filed under Dinner, Heather Platt, Lunch, Main Course, Meat, Poultry

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.

 

 lonegirl chicken 3

 

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

 

lonegirl chicken 12

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