Month: April 2015

The Survivor’s Tree

I know I wrote of the 9/11 memorial and how moving it was. To be honest, I can’t get it off my mind. The museum was beautifully designed and curated. The rooms, the items chosen and the footpath were all very respectful and honored the victims and survivors in an authentic way.

There was one item that has really stayed with me, though; the Survivor’s Tree. It is a Callery Pear tree. This tree was discovered long after the dust settled. Even with broken and burnt branches, this living thing found a way to survive. The tree was transplanted and rehabilitated and then moved back to its original location as a constant reminder of our countries resilience.

The Callery Pear tree does not actually bear fruit. You probably have seen one, recently. Right about this time of year these trees get beautiful white blossoms that smell horrible. It is nature’s trompe l’oeil. I want to honor the Survivor’s Tree and all it now stands for, in the only way I know how. I created a recipe, a stuffed and baked chicken breast. The recipe includes pears as a reminder of that tree. I added arugula to remind us of the bitterness and a honey balsamic drizzle to remind us that even in tragedy we can find the sweetness in life. I hope you will make it, share it, enjoy it and always think of that tree and all it represents.

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Survivor's Pear Stuffed Chicken Breasts

  • 4 chicken skin-on, boneless chicken breasts
  • 2 small Bosc pears, peeled, cored and diced
  • 1/2 cup gorgonzola cheese crumbles
  • 2 cups arugula, cleaned and rough chopped
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive oil
  • 1/4 cup honey, divided
  • 2 Tablespoons Balsamic VinegarScreen Shot 2015-04-19 at 7.20.23 PM

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Pound the chicken breasts so that they are 1/2″ even thickness.  Season with Salt & Pepper.

In a small bowl combine pears, cheese and arugula.

Spread stuffing mixture over center of breasts.  Roll up and secure with twine or toothpicks.

Brush with 2 tablespoons of the honey.

In a cast iron skillet (or other oven safe skillet) heat olive oil and brown chicken on all sides.

Transfer skillet to preheated oven and bake for an additional 25 – 30 minutes, until cooked through.

While chicken is cooking whisk balsamic vinegar and remaining honey  together.

Serve chicken over additional arugula, dressed with honey/balsamic dressing.

9/11 Memorial and Museum

I know that this is a food blog and it will be, tomorrow.  However, today my family and I toured the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. If you haven’t been, yet, go.  If you’ve only been to the memorial make the effort to go to the museum.  The architecture of the memorial and the two reflecting pools is amazing.  They are not only beautiful, but honor the victims in such a meaningful way, by using the actual footprints of the two towers that collapsed. There was lots of awe at all the artifacts that were preserved and lots of tears at the stories and just the plain magnitude of what happened to our country that day.  So simply, here are two pictures to share and I will write more about food tomorrow.

The Last Column.
The Last Column.
Trying to Remember to the Color of the Sky on That September Morning
Trying to Remember to the Color of the Sky on That September Morning

This Week in New York!

This week I am in New York for a Spring Break/College tour trip. New York is always a good excuse to try some new restaurants and see everything the city has to offer. To that end I will be posting a brief blog each day.

Last night, we ventured out to Brooklyn for an Italian dinner. I can’t imagine being in New York and not eating Italian but wanted the opportunity to try a different restaurant. We went to La Nonna, on a Yelp recommendation. It did not disappoint!

When we arrived we were greeted and sat immediately. Alex, our waiter, came over the table and let us know that there were quite a few specials tonight. As he described them, each one sounded better than the last. We settled on starting with a Margherita Pizza, then a fresh Caesar Salad. The pizza was good, but the Caesar salad was out of this world. I could tell the dressing was fresh made and what I loved was that you could really taste the olive oil, not just the garlic or anchovy. It will inspire me to re-work my own Caesar dressing.

To be clear I am not reviewing this restaurant but if I were, I would tell you it is worth the trip across the bridge. This is a family owned restaurant. Anna Morena, the owner came by our table and introduced herself. She was so excited that we had chosen her restaurant via Yelp and gave us a little snippet of her and her husband’s story. I feel like I have a friend in Brooklyn now. I apologize for no pictures. However, the food was so good it was devoured before I remembered.

Today we are off to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, Book of Mormon and some more good food, and I promise pictures. See you later!

Passover Leftovers and Beyond

Well, I survived the first two seders of Passover.  I wanted to post pictures from the desserts I made.  They were amazing this year and will definitely become a regular part of Passover future.  Let me refresh your memories.  I made a Chocolate Caramel Torte and an Almond Cake with Mixed Berries.

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I always cook more than I need.  I’m not sure if I do it because it’s just my way, if I secretly am hoping my tables will be filled with more family and friends or because I love the leftovers.  This year I way over bought Matzo.  I have always loved the Barefoot Contessa’s Baked French Toast Casserole Recipe, so I thought I’d adapt it to do a baked Matzo Casserole.  I took a few liberties, but it was a hit!  Enjoy.

Baked Matzo Breakfast Casserole

  • 1/2 cup Butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup Brown Sugar
  • 8 Eggs
  • 4 cups Heavy Cream
  • 3 Tablespoons Honey
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • Matzo, enough to layer in pan

Pour the Melted butter into a 9X13 pyrex pan. Sprinkle brown sugar over butter.

In a medium bowl beat together eggs, cream, honey, vanilla extract and kosher salt.

Layer Matzo in pan, over brown sugar. You may need to break pieces to fit evenly in pan. Layer to top of pan.

Pour cream mixture over matzo, slowly. When about half full, weight down matzo with oven safe glasses.  Keep filling pan until cream mixture just reached the top.

Refrigerate for at least an hour or up to overnight, to absorb liquid.

Preheat oven to 350 and bake covered for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 30 – 45 minutes until custard is set.

Let cool for 10 minutes, then serve.  You can serve straight from pan or turn casserole out onto platter.  The brown sugar will flow out as a glaze.  YUM!!!

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