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A new year, new beginnings (yes, again), new challenges .... so how about a new approach to your cooking style?

Why not try to cook with your instincts instead of a printed recipe?  You're intelligent, you know good ingredients from inferior ones (a most important factor), and assuming you're not afraid of turning on your oven or stovetop, you are the ideal candidate for intuitive cooking.

The menu for January is a Tuscan-style meal which I'm sure you will enjoy cooking and eating too!  A wine from Tuscany would be the best to enjoy with the tastes of this men

Unfortunately, there is no magic bullet approach to intuitive cooking - you still need to learn a few general rules of the culinary arts to cook intuitively - a.k.a. without a recipe:

  • How to judge the quantity of ingredients to buy?  Decide what amount of a particular food you think would make up one portion of each component of the menu and then multiply by the number of servings you'll need and make a shopping list of the ingredients you'll need for this meal. I tend to make at least one or two extra servings of each dish, just to be sure I have enough food to serve and to have some for leftovers.
  • A basic vinaigrette salad dressing is normally a ratio of 3:1 (olive oil to vinegar) finely minced garlic or shallot; occasionally I add some Dijon mustard; salt & pepper to taste. I usually make extra salad dressing which can be refrigerated in a covered container for several days to use on other salads or even as a marinade.
  • A medium oven temperature of 350°F is used for roasting meat and vegetables; a hot oven is 400°F; a very hot oven - 450 - 500°F
  • Stove top burners vary in the amount of heat they produce (5r) you are the best judge of how low or high to set the flame or electric burner on your stovetop.
  • Decide on which components, or in some cases, the side dish elements of the menu, that can be made ahead of time and held or refrigerated for longer waiting times and then re-heated if required just before serving; for example, salad greens can be assembled, covered and refrigerated but only add dressings to salads just before serving. 

Arugula & Pear Salad with Balsamic dressing


1.  Make a salad dressing with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, balsamic vinegar, salt & pepper, fresh thyme leaves.

2.  Remove skins and cores of firm yet ripe pears; cut each into sections; wrap each pear section with a thin slice of prosciutto – sauté in olive oil until lightly crispy

3.  Wash and spin dry (or use paper towels) the arugula leaves

4.  Parmigiano-Reggiano shaved (use a vegetable peeler) on each serving

Grilled Steaks

Porterhouse cut has a larger portion of the tenderloin T-Bone cut has a smaller portion of the tenderloin  

1. Two-inch thick porterhouse or T-bone steaks (Prime is best; Choice is the grade found in most supermarkets)  4 or 5 ounce portion of meat per person should be sufficient. But if you know that there will be big eaters at your table, well, then you'll have to increase the size of the steak or buy two!

2. Sea salt

3. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

4.  Pat dry steaks and sprinkle with sea salt.  Sear steaks on a hot outdoor grill (or a stovetop cast iron or other type of grill pan) until grill marks appear on one side; move to area of grill with no coals underneath, cover grill and continue grilling until internal temperature is about 125°F  

If grilling on the stovetop, move the pan into a hot oven; check internal temperature of the meat after 5 minutes.  Rare would register an internal temperature of 125°F or leave in the hot oven a few minutes longer for medium-rare - 135°F -140°F 

5.  Transfer steak(s) to a cutting board and let stand at least 5 minutes. Slice the meat off the bone against the grain and arrange slices on a warmed patter. Sprinkle meat lightly with sea salt and drizzle with olive oil.

Tuscan White Beans with Roasted Tomato and Onions


1.  One pound white beans (cannellini) dried, soaked overnight and cooked or use canned cannellini beans rinsed well.

2.  Cipollini onions – roasted with salt and olive oil

3.  Sun-dried/oil packed tomatoes; or oven-roasted cherry and/or Italian plum tomatoes.

4.  Season cooked beans/roasted onions with salt, fresh chopped basil; top with roasted tomatoes and additional olive oil and basil if desired.

Sautéed Broccolini or Broccoli Rabe

Broccoli Rabe Broccolini

1.  Broccoli Rabe or Broccolini;  blanched in boiling salted water for a few minutes....drained well and then sautéed with garlic, olive oil, pepper flakes, s&p.  Serve on same platter with sliced steak.




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