Norwegian Breakfast Bagel

If you’re like me, over the course of your life you’ll cycle between getting queasy at the thought of eating anything before 3 PM, and waking up so hungry you shun all life responsibilities (I mean you, office job) until you have eaten.

This recipe is for those of you in the latter camp.

Since I’m a sweet food hater, my go-to in the morning is a super-savory bagel that’s way too heavy on cream cheese and piled high with something like $17 worth of smoked salmon.

To give you a sense of “too heavy,” I have unabashedly piled on a solid three vertical inches of cream cheese on a bagel before.

Smoked salmon and fish in general, being a big diet staple in the Nordic region, tends to go best with the flavors that have been mingled in dishes together there, well, since forever. What’s the saying? What grows (and lives) together, goes together.

I think of the characteristic lemon, dill & red onion combo, pickled everything, seafood, eggs, gamey meats, shellfish and lots of dairy. All the best foods, all the time.

This is how much the Swedes like seafood: they sell fish roe from a tube. I, obviously, will end up buying this.

With this being a bagel and all, there’s not much cooking involved, but it doesn’t make the outcome any less delicious. Get yourself as good a quality of bagel as you can. Do rye bagels exist? If so, they’d be perfect here.

I N G R E D I E N T S

Makes 1 sandwich.

  • 1 bagel, flavor of your choosing (I went for poppyseed, onion or a grainy whole wheat)
  • 4 oz. smoked salmon
  • 1 teaspoon whole grain mustard
  • 1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
  • 1 teaspoon fresh dill, chopped
  • 2 oz. high-quality Nordic pickled herring from a can OR smoked & peppered Norwegian salmon
  • 4 oz. cream cheese (or double that amount, if you’d like 😉)
  • 1 / 4 medium red onion, minced
  • 1 / 4  lemon, squeezed
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of pepper

O p t i o n a l

If you want to up the fishiness factor, spread a tablespoon of salmon roe on the bagel in addition to the other ingredients, before you press the two halves together.

D I R E C T I O N S

1. Cut the bagel in half. Toast, if desired, to your preference.
2. To make the cream cheese spread, combine the cream cheese, whole grain mustard, horseradish, dill and a pinch each of salt and pepper in a small bowl.
3.  Layer half of the cream cheese on both sides of the bagel. On one half, place the smoked salmon, then the minced red onion.
4. On the other half, place the pickled herring or the smoked & peppered Norwegian salmon, and top with a squeeze of lemon. Press sandwich together.

 

Beef Bourguignon-Inspired Risotto

Cold weather food. There must be something instinctive about craving it. Even two hundred years ago, if you wanted fresh produce in the winter, you were probably shit out of luck.

Instead, you were most likely consigned to eat some stew with tough cuts of meat from the animal you slaughtered last season, and cooked it for hours or days with a bunch of vegetables and dried herbs.

Speaking of, have you ever heard of perpetual stew?

My appetite has recently led me to cook stewed beef and warm, tomato-y pasta dishes. Things that cook low-and-slow, and have little bit more oomph than yet another “30-minute meal.” Although, I know those recipes have their time and their place. No judgement here.

As I’ve been doing lately, I frankensteined two of my favorite dishes together – this one satisfies the craving for both beef bourguignon and risotto.

I basically drew out the elements of beef bourguignon – the traditional vegetables, herbs and beef – and put them into a red-wine and beef stock infused Arborio rice, cooked in the same style as traditional Italian risotto.

This of course can and should be tweaked according to your own favorite, passed-down beef bourguignon recipe, if you have one. I’m using a variation of Ina Garten’s beef bourguignon here, which if I remember correctly she adapted from Julia Child.

Trust me, when you serve this dish at the right time in the right place, it will hit the spot.

I N G R E D I E N T S

This recipe serves 2, double the recipe to serve 4, and so on. 

The only caveat is the more rice you add, the longer it takes for the risotto to cook, so adjust accordingly.

  • 2 high-quality beef filets
  • 4 oz. good quality bacon, diced
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 6 tablespoons butter, salted or unsalted
  • 1 lb. porcini mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and medium diced
  • 1 / 4 cup water
  • 1 / 2 bag frozen pearl onions (or fresh pearl onions, if you can find them)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced
  • 1 cup dry red wine (Cote du Rhone is best for this dish)
  • 1 quart beef stock
  • 1 / 2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano, shredded
  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus more for vegetable sautee
  • 1 / 2 teaspoon black pepper

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Preheat the oven to 375*.
  2. Remove the filets from the fridge and allow to sit until they are room temperature. Pat the filets dry and season liberally with salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
  3. Brown the bacon on medium low heat until crispy in a heavy-bottomed pot. Add the butter. Once melted, stir in the rice, and cook for 2 – 3 minutes or so until the rice has had a chance to warm through and toast.
  4. In the meantime, pour the beef stock into a small saucepan and heat until just simmering. Keep it at this temperature throughout the cooking process.
  5. Next, add the red wine, thyme and minced garlic to the pot with the rice. Cook for 5 minutes or so, stirring occasionally, until most of the wine has been absorbed.
  6. Start ladling in the warmed beef stock, one ladle at a time, waiting until the rice gets slightly dry to add the next ladle of stock.
  7. In the meantime, heat 1 tablespoon of butter in a small sauté pan. Add the water, and sautee the carrots on medium heat until they’ve tenderized, stirring often, for about 20 minutes or so. This is where, if you have fresh pearl onions as opposed to frozen pearl onions, you would add them as well to give them a chance to cook through. Salt the vegetables liberally.
  8. Add the mushrooms after 20 minutes of cooking the carrots and onions, and cook for an additional 5 minutes, until all the vegetables are tender. Set aside the vegetables and juices to a separate plate.
  9. Heat a cast iron pan until searing hot. Add the vegetable oil to the pan. Just before the oil begins to smoke, add the filets and cook on each side for approximately 1 to 2 minutes, so that the filets achieve a dark crust on all sides. Make sure you turn your overhead vent on, it will be smoky!
  10. Finish the filets in the oven and cook until desired doneness – for medium rare, this will take about 7 to 8 minutes.
  11. Once all the beef stock has been incorporated into the risotto, start to test the rice to make sure it’s achieved al dente consistency. This entire process should take anywhere from 20 to 25 minutes.
  12. Once the rice is done, add the carrots, mushrooms, 1 / 2 bag frozen pearl onions (if using), all but 2 tablespoons of the Parmigiano Reggiano, stirring lightly until everything is heated through, about 10 minutes.
  13. Remove the filets from the oven and let sit on a plate covered in foil. Once the steaks have set for 5 to 10 minutes, slice thickly against the grain.
  14. Serve the dishes hot topped with the sliced filets, grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and a sprinkle of fresh minced parsley.

La Tur-rific Macaroni & Cheese

There’s a cheese called La Tur that you should know about. Full disclosure – it is one of those smelly and bloomy kinds.

The small, circular crottin is derived from sheep’s, cow’s and goat’s milk and has a semi-soft center, oozing outer rim that’s enclosed in a wrinkled rind.

At room temperature, you slice into it and the cheese comes pouring out of its mold. Like slightly thickened cream.

If this appeals to you, keep reading.

Luckily you can almost always find it at Whole Foods, and more often than not I have luck at specialty cheese shops or gourmet markets.

Because I want to give you a reason to go out and buy this cheese, I combined two of my favorite foods, one of which is ubiquitously loved, probably by you too. So you have no excuse. Let me just acknowledge out of the gate – saying macaroni and cheese is your favorite food doesn’t make you unique.

It’s like, no shit, we all do.

I just winged it with this dish, and it turned out great. How couldn’t it though? To amplify the funkier flavor I replaced cow’s milk for goat’s milk, and it took it to another level.

We should rethink macaroni and cheese entirely, because there is so much you can do with it– why don’t we try swapping out American or cheddar for the good stuff we like to eat on its own? Not to say American processed cheese product does not have its own home in my heart. Sometimes, only good old Velveeta will do.

Meltability and retaining moisture in the oven have something to do with why some cheeses are better than others, but try this dish with La Tur (or something you’re partial toward that’s a little out of left field), mix it with some melty cheese go-to’s, and you’ll regret not doing it earlier.

Carbs and cheese, people. Divinity in food form. Hallelujah.

I N G R E D I E N T S

This makes enough for several people, probably 4 to 6 – but again, how bad could leftovers be? Or just cut the recipe in half. Instead of reheating leftovers in the microwave, try reheating in a toaster oven. It’ll revive more of that crispy on the top / bubbly on the inside texture.

  • 1 lb dried short pasta of your choosing
  • 1  La Tur crotin, crumbled
  • 4 cups high-quality aged cheddar or another high-quality cheese, or a combination of cheeses, grated (I used 2 cups aged Cabot cheddar I had in my fridge and 2 cups good-quality Gruyere)
  • 1 quart goat’s milk
  • 1 / 4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons salt, plus 1 tablespoon
  • 1 / 2 teaspoon pepper
  • 6 tablespoons butter (salted or unsalted), plus 2 tablespoons
  • 1 / 4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed and finely minced
  • 1 / 2 cup panko breadcrumbs

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Preheat the oven to 350*. Butter a 12 in. by 9 in. casserole dish, although a smaller casserole dish will work as well (i.e. a 9 in. circular casserole dish). You could even split it evenly amongst smaller gratin dishes for a fancier presentation, if you wanted.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, adding 2 to 3 tablespoons of salt to flavor the water.
  3. Melt the 6 tablespoons of butter and add the 1 /4 cup of flour in a separate heavy-bottomed large pot, stirring constantly with a whisk on medium heat until lightly browned to remove some of the raw flour taste.
  4. In the meantime, in a small pan, warm the goat’s milk on medium-high heat until just before simmering, when there are small bubbles on the sides of the pot. Do not boil.
  5. Cook the pasta until al dente or slightly before al dente if you prefer your pasta to have even more of a bite. That’s how I like it. It will cook more in the oven.
  6. Once the roux has been whisked for a few minutes, add the quart of the warmed goat’s milk, stirring constantly until no lumps of flour remain. If you’ve warmed the goat’s milk enough, the mixture should start to thicken relatively quickly. Keep stirring and turn the heat up to medium high if need be to speed up the thickening process. You’ll want to get to a consistency where the mixture lightly coats a spoon.
  7. Off the heat, add the grated cheeses, the nutmeg, the minced thyme, the 1 tablespoon of salt and 1 / 2 teaspoon of pepper.
  8. Add the cooked pasta to the cheese mixture. If you can time the pasta so that it goes straight from the cooking water into the cheese mixture, it will be that much better. Taste for seasonings once combined, making sure it has enough salt.
  9. Combine the 2 tablespoons of melted butter and 1 / 2 cup panko breadcrumbs. Evenly top the dish with the buttered panko crumbs.
  10. Place the casserole dish on a larger baking sheet, covered with foil to eliminate the need for clean-up. Bake for 30 – 40 minutes until the edges of the casserole are browned and the dish is bubbling hot.

Cocktail Garnish Olive Tapenade

After I finish a jar of pickles, I keep the remaining pickle juice in the fridge. So I can drink it, pickling spices and all.

I’ve been all about anything salty, briny or vinegary ever since childhood. It started with a fondness for good old bottled Italian salad dressing you buy at the grocery store. Which I’d pour on everything.

I won’t go into detail about what some of those choice foods were. I will say that of all the foods, the least gross was cold, leftover spaghetti, which I would make soup out of.  My parents had to bring bottles of it with us in our luggage when we went on trips. It was that depraved.

As an adult, it manifests itself with a proclivity for pickled anything, especially McClure’s Pickles, and very dirty martinis.

The only other person I know who loves brine more is my larger-than-life Italian uncle Mark, who, while on vacation one time, ate somewhere around one-hundred martini olives in a night.

According to his account, it all happened when the bartender was more than happy to give him free bowls of garnish olives. Fast forward a few hours, and it was so bad that his mouth and eyes puffed up, sealed shut from the dangerously high level of sodium he had ingested.

What the fuck is wrong with you, Mark?

So compared to Mark, I don’t actually like brine that much. But it’s still a mainstay craving I must succumb to on a regular basis. This hors d’oeuvre was born of the cocktail garnishes that make the quintessential, timeless martini look, and taste, like a martini. That, mixed with a take on the traditional, Provencal olive tapenade.

You should you eat this alongside a martini, too.

Actually, don’t even bother eating this without a martini in hand.

I N G R E D I E N T S

Serves 2 – 4 as an appetizer.

  • 1 16 oz jar high-quality pimento-stuffed Manzanilla olives, drained & minced *
  • 1 / 2 16 oz jar cocktail onions, drained & minced (that much better if you can get your hands on a jar of Sable & Rosenfeld Vermouth Tipsy Onions)
  • 2 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons anchovy paste
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh parsley, minced
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 / 4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 / 4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 pinch sugar

*Go beyond the traditional pimento-stuffed variety if you’d like – blue cheese-stuffed olives would be great, as would garlic-stuffed olives. Or goat cheese-stuffed olives. You see what I’m getting at.

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Blend all the ingredients by hand in a bowl, mixing well.*
  2. Serve chilled or at room temperature, smothered on slices of fresh baguette or Carr’s Table Water Crackers.

*For a finer texture, mix all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until you reach desired consistency.

Jägermeister & Guinness-Poached Blood Bangers & Mash

I’ve been working on-site for a client in downtown Manhattan. We have an apartment through Airb&b overlooking Times Square that they’re paying for. It’s really, really cool.

Except for the work part.

Work culminates each day with a zombie walk to the nearest Irish pub like a moth to a lightbulb, where I will always order a Guinness.

I didn’t realize how many Irish pubs were in Manhattan – they’re on every block.

Whenever I’m at one of these places, my mind goes to Archer.  When he chugs directly from the Jägermeister shot dispenser machine slurring one liner insults at Pam or Cheryl / Carol, when they get hammered at happy hour a dinky Irish pub near the ISIS office, all following a funeral of one of their brutally-murdered colleagues.

You’ll always see the go-to Irish pub grub when you walk into these places – Boiled Corned Beef and Cabbage with Potatoes, Shepherd’s Pie, Fish and Chips. And I smother on that Colman’s Mustard like there is no tomorrow.

This recipe is a twist on Bangers and Mash. The blood sausage, replacing more traditional pork or beef sausage gives it a heartier (read: bloodier) edge that makes this a good cold-weather dish.

Look no further than Lucky Peach’s “A Guide to Blood Sausages of the World,” to understand why blood sausage is such a ubiquitous dish outside the U.S. – hint, it’s generally categorized as a poor-man’s food, like so many of the delicious foods of the world.

In terms of the type of blood sausage you can or should use for this recipe, I can only say, treat yourself. As in, get the best quality available to you. Which, by the way, will not be an expensive product if you go to a good butcher. Realistically, I’d recommend calling your butcher to see 1) if they have blood sausage available 2) if not, whether they can place an order for you ahead of time, and if all else fails 3) order the blood sausage online. If you have a choice, French Boudin Noir has particularly good flavor.

The only real prerequisite for this recipe is that the sausage has a substantive casing so it survives the poaching process, and is shaped into a sausage form to retain that good old “bangers and mash” presentation. This recipe calls for an entirely optional sauce derived from a reduction of the poaching liquid, because I can’t leave well enough alone.

I N G R E D I E N T S

Serves 2 – 4, depending on appetites. But really, I have to ask. If you had left over mash, would that be the worst thing in the world?

  • 4 – 6 blood sausages of your choosing, in their casings

F o r  t h e  P o a c h i n g  L i q u i d  &  S a u c e

  • 4 12 oz bottles Guinness Extra Stout
  • 1 / 3 cup Jägermeister liquor
  • 1 / 4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 10 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1 / 2 medium white onion, skin removed
  • 10 clove buds
  • 5 star anise

F o r  t h e  M a s h

  • 2 1 / 2 lb medium Yukon gold potatoes, or 2 1 / 2 lb equivalent of another potato, peeled and large-diced
  • 1 – 2 cups of the cooking liquid from the boiled potatoes
  • 3 tablespoons course ground mustard
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 cups Dubliner Cheese by Kerrygold, shredded
  • 6 tablespoons Kerrygold butter, melted
  • 1 / 2 cup sour cream
  • 4 tablespoons fresh chives, minced
  • 3 tablespoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

O p t i o n a l

  • Serve with Colman’s Mustard and / or the reduced sauce from the poaching liquid, instructions below

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Put 2 tablespoons of salt in a large pot of boiling water. Throw in the large-diced potatoes. Cook until a knife slides easily into the center of the vegetable, approximately 15 – 20 minutes. Be sure to reserve two cups of the cooking liquid before draining. Once the potatoes are tender, drain in a colander and cover with a clean dish towel to allow them to steam for an additional 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, cut an onion in half, removing all the onion skins, and stud the onion with the clove buds.
  3. Put the onion half and all the poaching ingredients into a heavy-bottomed pot. Bring the liquid to a temperature just under a simmer, about 180* F. Drop in the blood sausages, making sure to keep the liquid at a stable temperature. You do not want to boil the sausages.
  4. Allow the sausages to poach for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Skim off any fat or impurities that rise to the surface. The sausage is done when it reaches 160* F internally.
  5. After 45 minutes and when the sausages reach an internal temperature of 160* F, remove them to a clean plate and cover with foil.
  6. To finish the mash, throw the potatoes in a large mixing bowl. Add all the mash ingredients, the remaining 1 tablespoon of salt, reserving 1 tablespoon of the chives for garnish. Mix with a hand mixer or potato masher.*

*One note on mixing – a hand mixer will give you a smoother consistency that gives the mash a more elegant mouth-feel. If the mixture is too dry or thick, continue to add the cooking liquid to thin it out, until you reach desired consistency.

  1. Heap as much mash as you want on serving plates. Cut each banger in half diagonally, if only plating one. If plating two bangers per plate, lay one on top of the other cross-wise. Sprinkle the dishes with the remaining chives. Serve with Colman’s Mustard, if desired.

O p t i o n a l

  1. Once sausages are done, drain poaching liquid through a colander or sieve into a glass bowl.
  2. Take 2 cups of the poaching liquid and pour into a sauté pan heated on medium-high. Reduce the liquid down for 10 to 15 minutes, until approximately half of the liquid remains. The sauce should be thick, but still pour-able.
  3. This step is important – taste the sauce for seasonings. It should be highly flavorful and will likely need to be heavily salted. Add as must salt as needed to taste.
  4. Pour as much sauce as you’d like on top of the bangers and mash, and sprinkle with chives.