Tag Archive: parsley


Ladies Luncheon

farmers-market-nancy-pahlNo but really, how long has it been? Too long. The days stretch into weeks and while Summer zips by I find myself enjoying it often enough away from the kitchen X) It’s no surprise (or excuse for not posting, that’s my fault entirely:( ) but it does leave more time for strolling, shopping, and exploring. Grocery shopping is among the best parts of Summer. I still can’t seem to understand how everyone ends up hating grocery shopping so much. I mean, it’s still shopping…right? And while it may be crowded, bright, and dirty at least there’s fresh food to be found there…better than hunting and foraging for our food I like to think πŸ˜€ So, why do I like grocery shopping so much? Well, I don’t have a good reason, just that it is a reason. I don’t mind navigating the tight & narrow aisles for unique and tasty treasures. I rather enjoy the process of finding, comparing, and deciding on things to buy and eventually, devour πŸ˜‰ Most of the time (and probably to the annoyed dismay of others) I end up taking my time, getting lost, and often standing in the way of the bustling shoppers as I try to decide what “light” coconut milk means in the Asian aisle. Sure it’s depressing because you can’t buy everything in front of you πŸ˜‰ (and because, oh yeah you have to carry it all home on your back), but that’s not the point. I used to like shopping a whole of a lot less simply because (a) it had become a chore; and (b) it required strict budgeting. But ah, such is life.

I always have a list (“the list”) when I go grocery shopping because it keeps me on track, what I’ve discovered is that it’s important to plan (and yes, budget) some spontaneity into the task of shopping. What do I mean? I allot my spontaneity a certain amount on my weekly grocery list so that while I still get all those things needed for making meals, there’s also room for something random, or daring, or sugar-coated – whatever I may or may not stumble across. Believe me, it has a tendency to be surprising πŸ˜‰ Sometimes it’s dried fruit or other snacks for my toddler (my first thought “oh thank god, something new. Let’s see if he likes this“), other times it’s a block on cheese that was on sale, or caramelized almonds, or a basket of cherries . Whatever “tickles your fancy” while your out & about on the drudgery of adult life and modern food-gathering is worth your notice and consideration – just be aware that: 1. you do and will always have to shop for food, right? Because 2. you have to eat and eat healthy, and 3. that it’s hugely important and necessary. It is okay to try and enjoy the uncertainty and variety that comes with the modern and the everyday. Sometimes it’s focusing on how little you have to go out and get that makes you overlook the facSnyders_Frans_Fish_Markett that it requires so little to feed and please your family and yourself πŸ™‚ That being said, it’s nice to give voice to my secret delight at the present food-gathering process, hope I don’t upset the haters. I try to appreciate and believe me, that doesn’t always come easy but there are the finer things in life and shopping for food I consider to be one of them.

To pick up at my point, an example would be this luncheon that I prepared for a friend, which necessitated me visiting 3 different stores to properly acquire all the “necessary” ingredients, and even then there were some substitutions. The original recipe was from a “Fresh & Quick” edition of Fine Cooking. Some things just feel special when you go out and get them – fresh seafood (i.e. scallops) included. I remember when I first saw the slippery suckers πŸ˜‰ I thought: …what even are those? Delicious is what they are. I liked the simplicity of this recipe and was only slightly daunted by the sheer amount of steps in completing the “quick & easy” -ness of it all. Note to self for next time: double the amount of scallops you make because seriously, it won’t be enough…

Before I jump into this recipe, I want to say that the star ingredient would be truly, simply – butter. Where would seared scallops be without Butter-Meltingbutter? I’ll tell you: a little dry and not nearly salty enough. Butter plays a key role in this recipe and is essential for plenty of other amazingly delicious things that only exist because of it (like biscuits, and frosting!) I’ll give credit where credit’s due – butter is the best, and I thank it for existing. I’ve come across a recipe for using aΒ Lemon-Dill beurre blanc sauce to spoon over steamed clams with crusty bread. Mmm…more butter may be needed πŸ˜€

 

Seared Sea Scallops with White-Wine Pea Puree, Peppered Bacon, and Lemony Gremolata

Ingredientsscallops

(for the scallops)

6 – 8 fresh or defrosted jumbo scallops

1 package of bacon, coarsely chopped

2 Tbs. butter

(for the puree)

1 package of frozen peas, defrosted

6 shallots, peeled & coarsely chopped

3 garlic cloves, peeled & chopped

3 Tbs. butterFood52

5 Tbs. white wine

5 Tbs. chicken broth

4 Tbs. milk or cream

(for the gremolata))

1 lemon

1 bunch of fresh parsley, stemmed & chopped

1 shallot, peeled & minced

sea salt & cracked peppergremolata

(1) Rinse the scallops under cold water and pat dry, season with salt & pepper and chill until it’s time to cook. (2) To make the puree, melt 3 Tbs. butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots and garlic and let cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the peas, chicken broth, and white wine and let cook uncovered until the mixture is soft & fragrant, about 5 more minutes. Remove from heat and let cool briefly, 5 minutes. (3) Transfer the pea mixture to a blender and blend until smooth, adding the milk or cream and seasoning to taste with salt & pepper. Once pureed, return to the saucepan, cover, and keep warm over very low heat until ready to serve. (4) Heat a a medium skillet or frying pan on medium high-heat. When hot, add bacon pieces and cook, stirring occasionally until bacon is brown and crunchy, 5 – 6 minutes total. Transfer to a plate lined with paper-towels, season with cracked pepper, and cover until ready to serve. (5) Wipe the skillet clean before returning to medium-high heat. Melt 2 Tbs. of butter. When piping hot, add the scallops and do not stir. Let sear 3 minutes per side, turning carefully to brown the bottom & top sides of scallops until they are firm to the touch. Transfer cooked scallops to a plate and cover with foil. (6) In a small bowl, combine the minced shallot and fresh parsley. Zest the lemon and then juice it, adding it to the mixture and stir until combined. Season generously with salt & pepper, adding more lemon juice, if needed. (7) When ready to serve, scoop a spoonful of puree onto each plate, season with peppered bacon, and set seared scallops in the puree. Garnish with spoonfuls of the lemony gremolata. Goes great when paired with either/or garlic bread and champagne πŸ™‚

Serves 2 – wish it made more, double it if you plan on being really hungry

Phew! That was a lot of steps but trust me, it’s worth it. These days as the rain (and wind…and hail…) begins to pop up during the week, I find the salty, fresh air contributing to my recent craving for seafood. My next seafood cooking extravaganza is going to be mussels in Riesling lemon broth with – yes – more garlic bread. I’ll have to make a “luncheon” out of that because what is a good dish without good company? Hope the rest of July provscallop-shellses to be as thrilling as scallops for lunch πŸ˜›

My question: What was served with the last plate of scallops you ate?

I ask this because the combinations of pairings with scallops kind of blows my minds sometimes and you never know what will be the perfect side – like a chickpea puree or roasted hazelnuts, or even brown “nori butter” like I read in a Bon Appetit from earlier this year. I will make more scallops this month just to satisfy my new fondness of searing things grill-style in our kitchen’s new skillet. Scallops are a somewhat of a blank canvas and I’d like to make a different version before I get tired of seeing them on the dinner menu πŸ˜‰

7.13.2014

Rise of the Nachos

chips_paintingI can’t believe it’s 2014 – already! I have no excuse for not having a recent post, other than my Master’s thesis being due very soon. Just imagine all the celebratory food cooking and related cacophony of posts I could do after THAT πŸ˜€ For now, I wanted to post this simple & sweet blurb on nachos. Ahh, cheese. Where would food be without you? One of my favorite foods is cheese. One of my other favorites? Salsa. I am also a carnivore by nature and can’t help but like eating meat from time to time too. Where do these three meet? Cue in – nachos. This undervalued dish isn’t necessarily unhealthy, just watch the cheese! Nachos are on the rise and if you’ve a bad or nonplussed experience of the dish before, it’s time to make new memories, I mean nachos. We are lucky to be in the era of limitless culinary diversity and the sheer amount of different things you can put on cheesy nachos is kind of mind-boggling.

From what I remember of my restaurant experience with nachos, it’s a little slimy, a little soggy, and kind of anticlimactic. But I do also remember from my bar-tending days that nachos was the one dish that people would NEVER finish. Why? Because there’s too much if it! Granted, there’s nothing better when you’re really hungry than a steaming pile of chips & cheese, but it’s important to transcend the baseline comfort elements in this recipe to reach something better. The 3 recipes or versions I have here I read in last year’s Cooking Light. So easy! So simple! So tasty! I should write ads for this magazine πŸ˜‰

When it comes to nachos, here’s 3 tips to remember: 1. It’s quality, not quantity. Gourmet ingredients cheese_nachosgive you some deluxe nachos and no matter what, you will be full by the time you’re done (and there will be some left). Spread a baking sheet onto the oven pan and one layer of chips, no need to make mountains – I know tortilla chips are cheap but please refrain, for the sake of your stomach 2. Don’t skimp on the cheese. Broiled chips aren’t very tasty by themselves, but add the right amount of cheese and viola, irresistible goodness. The best part? Broiling this dish takes 1-2 minutes MAX. You put it in and you’re eating moments later, it’s like magic πŸ™‚ 3. Be creative. Try making what you’d consider you’re “dream nachos.” Then m???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????ake a Greek version, a Caribbean version, and/or good ol’ Tex-Mex. Mix it up and have all-veggie nachos or use some crazy ingredients like toasted sesame seeds or capers.. No need to restrain yourself, this dish is messy and sloppy and will turn out del-ish once covered in warm, melted cheese. Have fun, because you have TIME for that when making dinner only takes 15 minutes!

My star ingredient? Greek yogurt. Greek what?! You don’t need sour cream or creme fraiche, they’re merely nice condiments that should be used in moderation. But, you get some low-fat Greek yogurt and put a big dollop in the center of your nachos? It’s practically the same thing, only better (for your body, I mean). I love sour cream as much as the next American πŸ˜‰ but hey, there are alternatives to watch the calorie count and Greek yogurt is just as yummy. Below are 3 versions of simple nacho recipes you can make, enjoy and WARNING: you will need napkins πŸ˜€

Nachos – 3 Ways

(1) Pork & Bean Nachos with Tomatoes, Onions, and Fresh Herbs

Ingredients

1 bag of tortilla chips, unsalted

1 bag (or 2 cups) of shredded cheddar cheese

1 yellow onion, thinly slicednacho-combos

3 tomatoes, chopped

1 can black or red kidney beans, drained & rinsed

1 pork tenderloin, trimmed

1 bunch fresh cilantro, minced

1 bunch fresh basil (or mint)

1/2 bunch fresh parsley, minced

4-5 pickled or preserved jalapenos, for serving

1/2 cup low fat Greek yogurt, for serving

baking paper

vegetable oil

sea salt & cracked pepper

(1) Season the pork tenderloin generously with salt and pepper. Heat 1 Tbs. oil over medium-high heat in a skillet. When hot, brown the tenderloin on all sides, turning every 4 minutes or so and cook until tenderloin is firm, about 15 minutes total. Remove from heat, cover with foil, and let sit 10 minutes. When cool, slice the cooked pork into chunks and set aside. (2) Spread a piece of baking paper across the bottom of a large oven pan. Preheat your broiler. Spread tortilla chips in an even (or not so even layer) across the baking sheet and top with meat and cheese. (3) When the broiler is preheated, put the oven pan in and broil just until cheese is melted, 1 – 2 minutes. Remove from the oven and add beans, tomatoes, and onion. Top with minced herbs, pickled jalapenos, and a dollop of Greek yogurt. Serve immediately.

Serves 4

(2) Spicy Shrimp Nachos with Salsa, fresh Jalapenos, and Avocado

Ingredients

1 bag of tortilla chips, unsaltedfresh-salsa

1 bag (or 2 cups) of shredded mozzarella cheese

1 bag (around 1/2 kg) frozen small shrimp, peeled & de-veined

1 jalapeno, seeded & sliced

3 Tbs. coconut flakes

4 Tbs. seafood seasoning or market spice

2 ripe avocados, slicednachos_02

1 bunch fresh Cilantro, minced

1 cup salsa of your choice or pico de gallo, for serving

1/2 cup low fat Greek yogurt, for serving

vegetable oil

baking paper

(1) Defrost shrimp, drain, and rinse thoroughly. Place in a bowl with seafood seasoning and 1 Tbs. oil and stir until well-coated. Heat another Tablespoon of oil in a saute pan over medium heat. When oil is shimmering, add the shrimp and cook, 1 -2 minutes, or until shrimp is pink and can be easily cut in half with a fork. Put cooked shrimp in a bowl and set aside. (2) Spread a piece of baking paper across the bottom of a large oven pan. Preheat your broiler. Spread tortilla chips and coconut flakes in a layer across the baking sheet and top with shrimp and cheese. (3) When the broiler is preheated, put the oven pan in and broil just until cheese is melted, 1 – 2 minutes. Remove from the oven and add spoonfuls of salsa, slices of avocado, and jalapenos. Top with minced cilantro and a big dollop of Greek yogurt. Serve immediately.

Serves 4

(3) BBQ Chicken Nachos with Green Onions, Jack Cheese, and Honey-Mustard Coleslaw

Ingredients

1 bag of tortilla chips, unsaltedbbq-chix

1 bag (or 2 cups) of shredded Jack cheese

2 cups of cooked barbecued chicken, shredded or cubed

1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced

1/2 cup low fat Greek yogurt, for servingColeslaw

(for slawπŸ™‚

2 Tbs. honey

1/4 cup Greek yogurt

2 Tbs. mustard

1 tsp. paprika

sea salt & cracked pepper

1/2 head of red cabbage, thinly sliced

1 head of fennel, thinly sliced

2 carrots, peeled & grated

3 Tbs. fresh dill fronds

baking paper

(1) To make slaw, put honey, paprika, 1/4 cup Greek yogurt, and mustard in a jar or container with a tight-fitting lid. Seal the container and shake until ingredients have combined. Season dressing to taste with salt & pepper and chill at least 20 minutes for flavors to meld. Mix thinly sliced cabbage, fennel, and carrots in a large bowl and add dressing. Stir until combined and chill slaw until ready. (2) Spread a piece of baking paper across the bottom of a large oven pan. Preheat your broiler. Spread tortilla chips in a layer across the baking sheet and topnachos_painting with barbecued chicken pieces and Jack cheese. (3) When the broiler is preheated, put the oven pan in and broil just until cheese is melted, 1 – 2 minutes. Remove from oven and add green onions and spoonfuls of coleslaw. Top with a big dollop of Greek yogurt and serve immediately.

Serves 4

My question: what are the craziest (as in crazy delicious) things you can think of to put on nachos?

Come on, I’d love to hear what that could be – I want to make MORE of this cheesy deliciousness and I need some fresh ideas…

1.31.2014

Pesto meets Breakfast

KBH – KΓΈbenhavn πŸ˜€ I am here (!) and loving all the new sights & sounds. Plenty of new food to feast my eyes on and it’s all about layered, light, experiential flavors in Scandinavian cuisine. I’m still experimenting with the economical/baby-friendly copenhagen_poster2art of cooking these days, which goes pretty well, depending on the day πŸ˜‰ my main goal though is coming up with meals that can be put together really fast! I’m all about really fast, as fast as possible since I don’t have the time or energy to chop or artfully arrange ingredients. Thank god for blenders and mixers, and that awesome convection option on the oven..

My baby loves garlicky things, whether it be roasted, pickled, or raw :O so I thought the pesto would be a good idea. I obviously don’t give him large amounts of the stuff or he’d probably be excreting some serious herbal scents πŸ˜‰ but a spoonful or two with porridge, on bread, or dipped with veggies seems to suit him nicely. This recipe comes from this month’s Bon Appetit and was under an article dedicated to spicing up breakfast. I think the next time I’ll take their other recommendation and add fresh salsa to my scrambled eggs. I’m just so glad there are ideas out there on how to spice up a meal that you end up eating half awake anyway πŸ˜‰

My star ingredient? Spinach. It’s in the Pesto and the eggs. Spinach is another one of those underrated vegetables and can go in seriously anything. I’m not a huge fan of wilted spinach but have found it’s great like that when thrown into rice, pasta, orspinach_fresh (aha!) breakfast dishes. Pesto is all about the herbs so serve equally fresh things with it–crunchy sandwiches, as a dipping sauce for raw veggies when you’re on the go, or a heaping spoonful in soup that’s just missing a little flavor. I thought a batch of pesto would last me and the household a week but ha! Not a chance, it’s too tasty to ignore every time you open up the door of the fridge. Maybe I’ll try to camouflage or disguise it next time πŸ˜€

Scrambled Eggs with Pesto, Greens, & Baby Tomatoes

Ingredients

(for the pesto)pesto

2 cups spinach leaves (or other greens)

1 cup fresh Basil

1 cup fresh Parsley

1/4 cup grated Parmesan (or other aged cheese)

1/4 cup walnuts

1/4 cup olive oil

5 garlic cloves, peeled

(for the eggs)

5 eggs, beaten

1 cup milk

2 Tbs. buttereggs

1/4 cup grated aged cheese

1/2 cup greens (like spinach or arugula)

1/2 cup baby tomatoes, halved

(1) To make the pesto, combine everything in the ingredients list, spinach through garlic, into a blender or food processor and pulse until it’s a paste, adding more olive oil as needed. This can be chilled for up to 2 weeks in the fridge beforehand. (2) In a medium bowl, beat together the eggs, milk, and cheese. Heat a skillet over medium high-heat. When hot, add butter and spinach. Cook, stirring often, until spinach has wilted, 3-4 minutes. (3) Add baby tomatoes and cook another 2 minutes. (4) Next add the egg mixture. Lower the heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly until eggs are fluffy and browned in some places, 5-7 minutes. (5) When ready to serve, stir in 3-4 Tbs. of pesto into the eggs and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with toast or breakfast rolls.

Serves 4

Scrambled eggs go with everything–bread, beans, pasta (like in Asian food), cooked veggies, etc. Lately I’ve been using my egg poacher (a wonderful Christmas present) to make eggs that are over easy, perfectly shaped, and cooked in 5 minutes. breakfast_posterAhh, it’s the simple things in life πŸ™‚

Breakfast was always a meal I’d avoided simply because it was so early; now I relish it and look for any way to spice things up when you’re barely awake and need to eat!

 

My question:

What is your ideal (close to “perfect”) breakfast on the go?

It could be something classy, healthy, or oddly-matched but hey, we all got to eat ]:)

2.9.13

The Best of the Season

Now that we’re in the full swing of Summer, there’s plenty of tasty things in season – apples, apricots, avocados, basil, bell peppers, berries, melon, carrots, cherries, chilies, cilantro, eggplant, fennel, figs, grapes, garlic, green beans, green onions, lettuce, limes – veggies that are relatively inexpensive and arriving at the local markets in abundance. The last two weeks I’ve had my best friend here from the U.S. I cooked up a storm, really couldn’t help myself and we probably ate 90% of what’s on that in-season list. Granted we drank a lot of Sangria too, so I think it’s all a balance πŸ™‚

In this post I’ve sketched out a complete day’s menu. I tried to make it a colorful, tasty spread with a good mix of both rich and fresh, spicy and sweet flavors. The menu is divided into the day’s meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert. If I had to categorize it, I’d call the breakfast Danish, the lunch Hawaiian, and the dinner just plain European…I’d be lying if I said the dessert wasn’t Italian πŸ˜€

Probably one of this menu’s more bombastic contributions, the breakfast pΓ’tΓ© I found in last month’sΒ Bon AppΓ©tit. I just happened to have frozen pΓ’tΓ© in my freezer, made in the last month of my pregnancy. A container of frozen pΓ’tΓ© is one of the best things I’ve ‘lost’ and found again in my freezer. The steak, carrot, and chicken salad recipes I read in Cooking Light a couple years ago (and pineapple dressing for salad – genius!) The dessert is from Cucina La Italiana, still one of my favorite cooking magazines πŸ˜€ (nope..no endorsement yet, but a girl can dream).

On a random side note, I have switched from using olive oil to sunflower oil in all of my recipes that involve cooking at high temperatures. I recently read in an email sent from a very helpful friend of mine that when you cook certain oils (most oils, actually) to a certain high temperature, they burn and consequently go rancid. Rancid oils are carcinogenic, which are bad no matter what form they come in. So – as delicious as olive oil is – I guess it’s best to be served with dishes that aren’t cooked. Perhaps I should have known this but hey, I thought olive oil was delicious in any form I used it.

The star ingredient in this menu is citrus, I used mostly oranges but lemons and limes too. I’ve made the case for this fruit time and time again and I never seem to tire of it. I have a tupperware full of citrus slices sitting in the fridge for my water, juice, wine, etc. and I throw orange peels into stir-fries, zest copious amounts of lemons for batches of strawberry lemonade, and am making lime simple syrup for what I think might be the perfect mohito. This family of fruits can sit in the fruit bowl on the counter long after all other fruits there have molded and bruised, all the while giving off verbena aromas in the kitchen. I put unripe fruit in a bag with oranges or other citrus for a day to make them soft and ready to eat. Since I get a lot of my citrus from Spain, I’ve now gotten into the habit of scrubbing the outer rinds with soap and warm water before I zest or peel for cooking. At first what I thought was a pregnancy craving, turns out to be a lifelong addiction to Vitamin C, perhaps? Or maybe I’m just wanting some extra energy πŸ˜‰ Either way, there’s something wonderfully refreshing about these sweet and sour fruits. If I had to pick a favorite – and it would be hard – I would have to say lemons. When life gives you lemons, you can make just about a million things to eat..

Breakfast

Liver PΓ’tΓ© Crostini with Savory Berry Salad

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups chilled liver pΓ’tΓ© (can be chicken, duck, or beef)

1 baguette, sliced

(for the salad)

1 container of fresh blackberries

1 container of fresh blueberries

1 Tbs. olive oil

2 Tbs. fresh chives, minced

2 Tbs. fresh Parsley, minced

1 lemon, juiced

salt & cracked pepper

(1) To make the salad, combine all ingredients – blackberries through lemon juice – in a sealable container. Season with salt & pepper and chill until ready to serve. Turn the oven on to a low broil. (2) In a large metal or glass oven pan, lay out the baguette slices and season both sides lightly with olive oil and pepper. (3) Put pan into the oven about 10 cm from the top and broil, turning once, until both sides are browned, 3-4 minutes total. (4) Serve each of the toasted bread slices with a layer of chilledΒ pΓ’tΓ© and a spoonful of the berry salad on individual plates, or set it all in the center of the table and let everyone make their own.

Serves 4

Lunch

Blackened Chicken Spinach Salad with Spicy Pineapple Dressing

Ingredients

(for the chicken)

1 lb. (or 1/2 kg) chicken breasts

1 Tbs. ground coriander

1 tsp. chili flakes

1 Tbs. garam masala

1/2 Tbs. curry powder

1 /2 Tbs. ground black pepper

1 Tbs. cajun seasoning

1 Tbs. paprika

sunflower oil

(for the salad)

1 bag of baby spinach, washed & stemmed

1 package of baby bean sprouts, washed

1 red bell pepper, seeded & thinly sliced

1 yellow bell pepper, seeded & thinly sliced

2 red onions, peeled & thinly sliced

3 carrots, peeled & cut into matchsticks

1/2 of a ripe pineapple, peeled & cubed

(for the vinaigrette)

1/4 cup beer

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 cup cubed pineapple

2 Thai chilies, coarsely chopped

1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, stemmed & chopped

1/2 bunch of fresh chives, chopped

2 oranges, juiced

3 Tbs. honey

3 Tbs. yogurt

1 Tbs. rice vinegar

3 garlic cloves, chopped

(1) First, make the vinaigrette: combine all ingredients (beer through garlic) in a blender and puree until smooth. Season to taste with honey and cracked pepper, cover, and chill in the fridge. (2) Second, for the salad, make sure all veggies are washed and the greens are dry. In a large bowl, toss all veggies for the salad together, spinach through pineapple pieces. Cover with a damp paper towel and refrigerate until ready to eat. (3) Third, make the chicken: combine all spices for the chicken- coriander through paprika – in a small bowl. Wash and trim chicken breasts, dry, and then rub with 1 Tbs. sunflower oil. Rub the spice mix on both sides of chicken. (4) Heat 2 Tbs. of sunflower oil over medium-high heat in a skillet. When hot, add the chicken and cook, turning once until both sides are browned and the meat is cooked through, 10-12 minutes. Transfer chicken to a cutting board and cover with foil; let rest 5 minutes. (5) When ready to serve, lightly toss salad with the chilled vinaigrette. Slice blackened chicken lengthwise and top each salad bowl with 4-5 pieces. To make the salad as a weekly snack, keep vinaigrette on the side and separate salad into sealable containers, covering with damp paper towels; close and seal the containers and refrigerate until needed, adding the vinaigrette just before eating. Salad goes well with garlic bread or toasted pita triangles πŸ™‚

Serves 4

Dinner

Beef Tenderloin Steaks with Pomegranate-Pinot Noir Sauce

Ingredients

4 beef tenderloin steaks

1 1/2 cups Pinot Noir (or Cabernet-Merlot blend)

4 shallots, peeled & minced

2 oranges, juiced

2 pomegranates, seeded

1 cup of beef broth

2 Tbs. butter

sunflower oil

sea salt & cracked pepper

(1) Season both sides of steak with salt and pepper. Let meat stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before cooking. (2) Heat 2 Tbs. of oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the steaks and cook 3 minutes per side, untilΒ  seared on the outside and medium-rare when cut into. Remove steaks from the skillet and cover with foil. (3) Pour 1 Tbs. of oil into the skillet, add shallots and cook about 3 minutes until slightly golden. Add all of the red wine, beef broth, and orange juice next, bringing the sauce to a boil. (4) Stirring occasionally, cook until the liquid has been reduced by half. Lower heat and stir in the butter; season to taste with salt & pepper. (5) Serve the steaks with a generous spoonful of red wine sauce and 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds per plate, cracking black pepper across the top.

Serves 4

Steamed Carrots with Garlic-Ginger Butter

Ingredients

1 lb. (or 1/2 kg) carrots, peeled & quartered

4 cloves of garlic

5 Tbs. fresh grated ginger

3 Tbs. butter

5 limes, zested & juiced

sunflower oil

Sea salt & cracked pepper

(1) Mince all of the garlic and mix with the fresh ginger and lime zest; set aside. Fill the bottom of a large pot with 3 cm of salted water; cover and bring to a boil over high heat. (2) Put the carrots in a colander and then into the pot; cover and steam veggies until tender and easily pierced with a fork, 10-15 minutes. (3) In a large skillet, heat 2 Tbs. sunflower oil and add the garlic-ginger mixture, cooking 1 minute or until fragrant. (4) Lower the heat to medium and add carrots and lime juice, mixing well. Cover the skillet and cook, stirring often, until carrots have absorbed liquid, about 4-5 minutes. (5) Stir in the butter until melted and serve immediately with cracked pepper.
Serves 4

and Dessert..

Honey-Citrus Gelatin with Cream & Cracked Pepper

Ingredients

1 packet unflavored gelatin

3 oranges

1 lemon

4 Tbs. honey

2 Tbs. brown sugar

1/2 cup cream

cracked pepper

(1) Zest and juice all 3 oranges. In a medium saucepan, add orange juice, zest, honey, and brown sugar; bring to a boil over medium heat and simmer until thickened and reduced by half. (2) Juice the lemon and add to saucepan, add the gelatin powder and cook for 1 minute more. (3) Remove from heat and cover, letting stand a minimum of 30 minutes. Once cool, put in the fridge (keeps 3 weeks chilled). (4) When ready to serve, put spoonfuls of the warm (or chilled) gelatin into small bowls and pour cream over the top, garnishing with 1/2 tsp. cracked pepper.

Serves 4

So, my Summer menu has turned out to be both long and filling. Det er bΓ₯de lang og godt fyldende πŸ™‚

My question: What is the best sauce to serve with a steak?

Red wine sauce is still one of my reigning favorites…

8.1.12

Lemony Pasta meets Peppered Bacon

I am back from Barcelona and have had some wonderfully spiced and flavorful foods during my time there. I believe we could all take some pointers from the Spaniards on how to cook food as it seems they love the process–the seasoning, the roasting, the aging, the frying–as much as I do πŸ˜€ For now I have renewed adoration for the tasty variations of thinly sliced and salted meats, be it Serrano ham, bacon, and (still my absolute favorite) prosciutto. Mmmm.. Somehow I am STILL craving citrus in this, the sixth month of my pregnancy, and decided to make a dish that had both light and rich elements, plenty of fiber (’cause I can’t get enough of that these days), vegetables, and some peppered protein.

The original version of this dish I got from next month’s edition of Eating Well, while I did add the bacon, cauliflower, and double the cheese (cheese!) I also like my pasta to have a little more moisture so I used 3 eggs in addition to olive oil and lemon juice for the sauce. I remember reading in authentic Italian cooking magazines about the practice of adding beaten eggs to pasta dishes to contribute texture (and protein), just remember that when you do so the pasta should be steaming hot. Anyway, so the title of my recipe may be elaborate, but I’m feeling a little extravagant these days so why shouldn’t my verbage? πŸ˜‰ Although it does describe the dish very well with its mix of richness and freshness (what I mean is enough fat and vegetables, ’cause we all need a bit of both)..

The star ingredient in this recipe is the bacon. Why? Because bacon is already awesome on its own and contributes this awesomeness to anything you may add it to. Maybe it’s the American in me that just loves the taste of bacon, so much it might be criminal πŸ˜‰ So it amps up your cholesterol, that just means we don’t need to be eating it all the time 😦 but I have been inspired with all the (yes, fatty) salted meats I had the pleasure of sampling in Spain so I thought I’d use its mystical powers to add a little attitude (ahem, sodium) to this vegetable-filled dish.

Lemony Linguine with SautΓ©ed Leeks, Peppered Bacon, & Steamed Cauliflower

Ingredients

3 lemons

1 head of cauliflower

1 packet of sliced bacon

1 bunch of leeks, white and pale green parts chopped

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1/2 bunch fresh parsley, minced

1 packet (18 oz or 500 g) of whole-wheat pasta

1 cup grated parmigiano reggiano cheese

3 eggs, beaten

olive oil

sea salt & ground black pepper

(1) Fill the bottom of a large pot with 2 inches of salted water. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. In the meantime, wash and trim the head of cauliflower, breaking into small florets. When the water is boiling, put all cauliflower pieces into a strainer and place in the pot, cover with lid, and steam the vegetables until soft, 5-7 minutes. Remove cauliflower, set aside, and cover. (2) Add more water to the pot until it is about halfway full (and a pinch more salt). Bring to a boil for the pasta. Meanwhile zest 2 of the lemons and reserve for juicing, cut the remaining lemon into wedges for serving. (3) Heat a frying pan over medium-high heat. When hot, add bacon and fry 3-5 minutes, turning once and seasoning with plenty of pepper until bacon is cooked (not crispy). Remove from pan and put on a plate lined with paper towels. Cover to keep from drying out (and any stray snacking). (4) In the frying pan heat 1 Tbs. of olive oil. Add the chopped leek and minced garlic, cooking until soft and fragrant, about 5 minutes. (5) When the pot of salted water is boiling, add pasta and cook according to package instructions until al dente. Drain and return pasta to the pot, immediately stirring in the beaten eggs. Over very low heat, add the cauliflower, lemon zest, 1/3 of the fresh parsley, the leeks, and use a pair of scissors to cut the bacon into medium-sized pieces as you add it to pasta. Season liberally with salt and pepper and add 3 Tbs. olive oil for moisture (or more if needed), and half of the cheese. Mix well. (6) When ready to dish up, remove pasta from heat. Juice 2 of the lemons into pasta, stir, and divide among 4 bowls. Garnish with a generous layer of grated cheese, ground pepper, and a pinch of minced parsley. Serve with lemon wedges on the side

Serves 4

So once again, pasta has proven to be one of those versatile, hearty, and healthy dishes that’s simple to prepare and easy to eat! As the (chilly) month of February comes around, I will need to come up with some more economically-minded recipes (not that bacon isn’t cheap…) to fit my dismal winter budget. Wish me luck with that πŸ˜€

My question: What is your favorite (fattiest) meat to eat?

I’m thinking some of the more tastefully sinful cuts…prosciutto, lamb chops, (and yes, bacon) or anything else that packs a punch (of flavor I mean;-)

1.29.12

Homemade Barbecued Pork Ribs

The last meal I made with my family over the holidays was barbecued pork ribs πŸ˜€ Personally, I may have missed the spicy-sugary taste of barbecue sauce but I was definitely missing the whole eat-off-the-bone experience. With ribs it seems, the more time you put into them, the more taste you get out of them (I made that up myself..) and can prove to be an all-intensive process. I reduced marinade, let the ribs soak in it overnight, grilled and basted them over slow heat, and made my own barbecue sauce. I’m thinking I may have gone a bit overboard on the whole DIY concept but hey, you don’t get to make ribs from scratch every day! (At least I couldn’t;-)

The rib recipe I refer to here is from December’s Food & Wine and originally involved Root Beer. After perusing through a couple of cooking magazines with my brother, we quickly established that any meat you serve marinated in and covered with sauces made from Coca-Cola will be tasty, at the very least πŸ™‚ The spiciness in this barbecue comes from ground black peppercorns, a simple combination since there’s so many different and more colorful chilies and spices to choose from out there but black pepper pairs wonderfully with vanilla bean (and just when you thought vanilla couldn’t get any better!) My advice to spice enthusiasts, add 1/2-1 Tablespoon extra ground black pepper to your barbecue sauce if you want it really spicy.

Perhaps needless to say at this point, the star ingredient in the ribs recipe is Coca-Cola. And why not?! I initially thought that the taste might be overshadowed by some of the other flavorful ingredients but that wasn’t the case. Apparently boiling something down over time only contributes to the flavor :] This is making me think that you could probably boil any soda down to its sauce form, like Dr. Pepper steak sauce or chicken cutlets with Fanta reduction. I should start considering soda an ingredient (is it that bad? Doesn’t cooking making it any better? I hope so…)

Slightly inspired by the whole farewell ‘grilling theme’, I made another recipe, this one from last June’s Food & Wine, which is a salad with grilled oyster mushrooms and green grapes, chilled celery and butter lettuce. Salad and barbecue just sound like the perfect combination.. I have included both recipes in this post, let’s call it le grill menu. The two go awfully well together and the ribs were so delicious I was eating them with my fingers a quarter of the way through, probably covered with a little barbecue sauce too. I was not the only one though πŸ™‚

Grilled Pork Ribs with Coca-Cola Lime Barbecue Sauce

Ingredients

(for the marinade)

2 cans of Coca-Cola

3 shallots, sliced

1/2 cup fish sauce

1 head of garlic, peeled & crushed

1/4 cup whole black peppercorns

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil

1 cup cold water

2 racks of pork ribs (about 5 lbs. or 2.3 kilos)

(for barbecue sauce)

3 cans of Coca-Cola

1/4 cup lime juice

1 Tbs. ground black pepper

1 Tbs. garlic powder

1 Tbs. chili powder

1 ts. salt

2 vanilla beans, split & scraped for seeds (or 2 Tbs. vanilla extract)

cooking/grilling spray

(1) To make the marinade, boil Coca-Cola, fish sauce, garlic, black peppercorns, shallots, and vinegar for 1 minute over high heat. Cover, remove from heat, and let steep for 30 minutes; uncover and let cool. Add the olive oil and cold water, stir, and transfer to a ziploc bag or large dish before adding the pork ribs. Cover/seal and marinate meat overnight in the fridge. (2) While cleaning and preheating the grill (on medium), let ribs come to room temperature, uncovered 20-45 minutes. (3) In a medium saucepan, mix the vanilla bean, black pepper, and 3 cans of coke. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and reduce to about 1/2 cup, stirring occasionally, 25-35 minutes. Add the lime juice and salt, simmering over low heat for 2 minutes. Strain and discard the vanilla bean and remove pan from heat. (4) When cooled, stir in the garlic and chili powder, seasoning barbecue sauce to taste with salt and pepper. (5) Once grill has preheated, drain the marinade from ribs, reserving about 1 cup for basting. Spray ribs with cooking spray and grill over medium-high heat, turning once, to sear each side, about 10 minutes total. (6) Put heat to low and continue grilling the ribs, turning often, and basting every 5-7 minutes until cooked (edges of the meat will begin to pull away from the bone), about 35-45 minutes. Remove ribs from the grill, slather in barbecue sauce, and cover with foil, letting rest for 10 minutes. (7) Before eating, cut between each rib with a sharp knife. Serve pork ribs with lime wedges and a side of barbecue sauce.

Serves 4

Grilled Grape & Mushroom Butter Leaf Salad with Mustard-Celery Seed Vinaigrette

Ingredients

(for the vinaigrette)

3 Tbs. walnut oil

1 Tbs. Dijon mustard

1/4 cup champagne vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil

1 Tbs. celery seeds

1 lemon, juiced

2 Tbs. fresh Parsley, minced

3 green onions, minced

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 Tbs. white wine

salt & cracked pepper

(for the salad)

1 head of butter lettuce, stemmed & torn

1 cup fresh sprouts

1 cup green grapes

1/2 cup fresh celery, thinly sliced

1/4 cup celery leaves

1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves

2 cups fresh oyster mushrooms

1/4 cup roasted & salted whole almonds

(1) To make vinaigrette, whisk together all the ingredients, walnut oil through white wine above, in a medium bowl and season to taste with salt & pepper (adding more champagne vinegar, if needed:-) Cover and chill until ready to serve. (2) Wash and dry salad greens, combining the celery leaves, parsley leaves, butter lettuce, and sprouts in a salad bowl. Refrigerate. (3) Preheat the grill to medium-high heat and clean racks with lemon halves. When hot, grill the oyster mushrooms, turning once, until browned, about 3-4 minutes. Also grill the green grapes on a strip of foil until slightly browned, 2-3 minutes. Remove both from grill and let cool about 2 minutes. (4) Next, add sliced celery and roasted almonds to the salad greens. When ready to serve, toss salad with grilled mushrooms and grapes and 5 Tbs. of the salad vinaigrette. Serve immediately πŸ™‚

Serves 4

So, at last my desire for grilled food has been satisfied }:-) for now…I will see what new inspirations come with visiting wonderfully flavorful Espania! I already miss cooking with my family, but at least I’ll be coming up with some more meaty meals since my little brother will be here and cooking with me by the end of the week, in my uber tiny European kitchen too πŸ˜€

My question: What is your favorite style of barbecue sauce?

It seems like every city has one. There’s Memphis (sweet and salty), Kansas City (tomato-based), and St. Lious (tangy) barbecue and the list goes on and on..

1.13.12

Tiny, Tasty Tapas

For my Baby Shower, I wanted to make Spanish Tapas, just a couple of simple, incredibly tasty dishes with offshore attitude. Since I’m off to Spain next month with my brother I feel inspired and a desire to cook up some Spanish food of my own. I chose major protein groups of course — meat, beans, and eggs (see, I’m getting good at this;) but it’s not as boring as it initially sounds.

I have included a mini menu of the tapas I served at the shower, which does not begin to subsume the effusion of appetizers that were brought to the party. These recipes are from A Passion for Tapas, a wonderful book filled with these Spanish-style eats. The most difficult (no, let’s say time-consuming) recipe was by far the deviled eggs — so many steps, so little time — so while I still recommend making this, anytime for any reason, I would also advise at least boiling the eggs and making the filling the night before an event, if anything it just intensifies the flavor while chilling πŸ™‚

The star ingredient in all these dishes was lemons. Granted, I have been craving lemons and limes like none other since my arrival back in snowy Colorado so my bias in inherent from the start. Although all three of these recipes contain similar simple ingredients — garlic, fresh Parsley, and olive oil (god bless olive oil:-) and all of them contain this sour ingredient in some form or the other, be the zest pulp, or juice of lemons. I think this citrus fruit adds the right amount of acidity to each dish that compliments all other fresh flavors involved. The festivities were great and it’s so nice be home and cooking for friends and (with) family again, a part of why the holidays are especially nice.

Lemony Lamb Skewers with Pickled Onions

Ingredients

(for the marinade)

5 garlic cloves, minced

3 lemons

1 onion, coarsely chopped

1 bunch fresh thyme

2 Tbs. ground coriander

1 Tbs. ground cumin

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/2 cup cold water

(for lamb)

10 wooden kebab sticks

2 lbs. leg of lamb, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes

1 jar pickled pearl onions, drained

ground coriander, for garnish

sea salt & cracked pepper

(1) Combine ingredients for the marinade, garlic, olive oil, onion, spices, vinegar, thyme, and cold water in a large seal-able bag; zest all of the lemons and juice them, combining both in marinade. Add cubed lamb pieces to the marinade, seal bag and refrigerate 3-4 hours (or overnight). (2) Next, soak the wooden skewers in water for 15 minutes. Remove lamb pieces and reserve 1 cup of the marinade for basting. Put 3 pieces of lamb on each skewer, separated by pickled onions; season skewers generously with ground coriander. (3) Preheat the grill over high heat and cook skewers, turning once, and basting with leftover marinade for about 10 minutes. Remove from grill and cover with foil, letting stand another 10 minutes before serving.

Serves 6

Chickpeas and Chorizo with Pimentos, Parsley, & Sherry

Ingredients

1 lb. Chorizo sausage, sliced

2 cans chickpeas, drained

1 can butter beans, drained

1/2 bunch fresh parsley, minced

1 jar sliced pimentos, drained

1 lemon

1 bunch green onions, sliced

4 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 cup cooking sherry

olive oil

1 baguette, sliced

sea salt & cracked pepper

(1) Brush the bread pieces lightly with olive oil and toast in the broiler over medium-high heat until both sides are browned; put all baguette pieces in a cloth-lined basket and cover until ready to serve. (2) Heat 2 Tbs. of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When hot, add chorizo pieces, stirring occasionally until the slices are browned, 5-7 minutes. (3) Add garlic, green onions, and a little more olive oil, cooking until tender another 3-4 minutes. Lower the heat to medium-low and add sherry, all beans, pimentos, and minced parsley, stirring occasionally until most of the liquid is absorbed and the dish is heated throughout, 5 minutes. (4) Remove from heat, juice all of the lemon over the mixture and season with salt and pepper. Serve with a large spoon and toasted baguette pieces, garnishing with sprigs of fresh Parsley.

Serves 6

Deviled Eggs with Fresh Chives, Cayenne, and Green Olives

Ingredients

1 dozen eggs

4 Tbs. olive oil mayo

2 Tbs. paprika

1 Tbs. ground cayenne pepper

1 bunch fresh chives, minced

2 Tbs. Dijon mustard

1/4 cup dill pickles, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 tsp. Tabasco

2 Tbs. lemon juice

1/4 cup green olives, halved

thinly sliced pimentos, for garnish

sea salt & cracked pepper

(1) Put eggs in a pot and cover with cold water, bringing to a boil over medium-high heat. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for about 10 minutes. Drain the cooked eggs and fill the pot back up with very cold water; let eggs chill 20 minutes. (2) Gently tap eggs with a knife to crack the shells, carefully removing shell from all eggs before rinsing with water. Next, halve the eggs and with a spoon, carefully remove cooked yolks, putting them all into a medium bowl. (3) Mash yolks with a fork, adding the mayo, mustard, hot sauce, chopped pickles, chives, garlic, and cayenne pepper. Season the mixture to taste with salt & pepper then cover and chill in the fridge for about an hour (or overnight). (4) Arrange the hollowed egg whites on a platter and fill (generously) until all of the yolk filling has been used. Garnish each deviled egg with a sliced pimento and half of a green olive, sprinkling paprika over everything. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Serves 6

So while this may not be a very ‘Christmasy’ post, I do think it is celebratory and the recipes all got the good stuff: flavor, spice, and filling. I enjoyed making the tapas and can’t wait to try some of these authentic Spanish dishes on the upcoming trip. In the meantime, I will be enjoying the holidays and am already thinking about the recipe to make for New Years. I’m thinking two main things: pork ribs and coca-cola }:-)

My question: What is the best ingredient in deviled eggs? (And don’t say the eggs, because that’s just too obvious..)

Merry Christmas (and to All a Good Night — and Day)!

12.25.11

Simply Lamb

Well, having access to the large and bustling foreign supermarket (it’s called the bazaar, now that’s cool…) has inspired me to make this meal and includes the one ingredient I’ve been craving for weeks–lamb!! This post comprises the menu I served for dinner, two very simple recipes of a salad and meat entrΓ©e. The tabbouleh is a pretty standard dish in Middle Eastern cuisine and is often served in or alongside pita bread (it works real good for lunch, too). I had to do a little bit of research on how to cook lamb properly on the stove but I must emphasize that this turned out to be a very simple, incredibly easy, and amazingly delicious operation. I would recommend searing lamb to anyone, it’s far faster than having to watch it roast for hours on end and it still fills the house (ahem, apartment) with the mouth-watering aroma of this preciously delectable meat πŸ™‚

The tabbouleh recipe is very green with plenty of fresh parsley and mint to call it “herbed”. I supplemented the salad with chickpeas, another one of my favorites, and petit peas (you know, because it wasn’t green enough) to ante up on the protein. My version includes using tomato juice to moisten the salad, but more olive oil, vinegar, or lemon juice would work just as well. For the grain, I used coarse bulgur which is just another form of wheat and the cheapest I found at the market; this dish is very versatile and grains are simple enough that you can easily substitute bulgur with quinoa, couscous, or brown rice. Tabbouleh salad is so popular for a reason, it lasts long, it’s healthy, and can come in various forms so I encourage anyone replicating this to have fun and substitute where you like at will, it’s hard to mess up with simple herbs, vegetables, and grains!

As for the lamb, I procured two fillets at the butchers, not your usual cut but thick and lean enough to satisfy me in all respects. Fillets also prove to be very juicy when cooked, which is where the whole process of “searing” really comes in handy because it seals in all the moisture, allowing for maximum flavor (heh, don’t I sound like a chef…) The star ingredient, simply speaking, is none other than the lamb. I was impressed with just how well this turned out and how easy! Lamb has this amazing effect of turning any dish into something special and it’s simple to prepare, especially when your using only four ingredients to cook it, two of them being salt and pepper :] As far as searing goes, my recommendations would be to use plenty of butter to avoid sticking and don’t be surprised at how quickly the meat cooks, the stove top gets dinner done.

Seared Lamb Fillet and Chilled Tabbouleh with Mint, Cucumber, and Chickpeas

Ingredients

(for the lamb)

1 lb. lamb fillet

1 Tbs. dried oregano

sea salt & cracked pepper

1 Tbs. butter

(for the salad)

1 lb. coarse bulgur (sub quinoa, couscous)

1 medium cucumber, chopped

1 bunch fresh mint, minced

1 bunch fresh Parsley, minced

2 tomatoes, chopped

1 bunch green onions, chopped

1 large can chickpeas, drained

2 cups petit peas

5 cloves of garlic, minced

3 Tbs. olive oil

3 Tbs. lemon juice

3 Tbs. red wine vinegar

3 Tbs. tomato juice

2 chicken bouillon cubes

butter

sea salt & cracked pepper

(1) Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a pot over medium-high heat. When melted, add the bulgur and stir for about 3 minutes until grains are lightly toasted. Next, add the required amount of water, usually about 1 1/2 liters (if using chicken broth, it’s probably about 6 cups) along with the two chicken bouillon cubes. Let everything come to a boil and then immediately lower the heat, cover, and let simmer until the bulgur is soft, about 20 minutes, adding more liquid if necessary along the way. *Bulgur should cool on the side for twenty minutes and then chill in the fridge for an hour before assembling the salad. (2) In a large bowl, combine all the chopped vegetables and herbs, everything from cucumber through garlic along with the cooked bulgur. Moisten the salad with olive oil, vinegar, lemon and tomato juice, stirring well. Let the salad chill in the fridge until ready to eat. (3) Allow the lamb to come to room temperature before searing, halving the fillets for easier cooking. Sprinkle all sides generously with sea salt, cracked pepper, and dried oregano. In a large skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of butter over medium-high heat until hot and add the lamb pieces. Sear both sides of the fillets for 3 minutes until browned and medium-rare. Let the lamb rest, covered, for another 3 minutes before slicing. (4) Serve each plate with one heaping spoonful of the tabbouleh and a warm lamb piece, garnishing with mint sprigs or dollops of mango chutney if desired.

Serves 4

As I often reflect after cooking lamb, the effort’s always worth it and there is something supremely satisfying about the way lamb tastes πŸ™‚ Don’t get me wrong, the salad’s tasty too, and it definitely lasts longer! As the cold, foggy weather sets in here I’ll have to come up with other hot food recipes to bolster my spirit πŸ˜‰ Not that I’m complaining though, I know it’s not getting any better outside and I’m starting to like being fixed to this new kitchen of mine…

My question: What is your favorite cut of lamb?

I’m looking for ideas (shoulder chops? maybe shanks?) and even some simple recipes too…

10.5.11

Soupy Coalescence

“An idealist is one who, on noticing that roses smell better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup…”

-H.L. Mencken

So I’m an idealist then πŸ™‚ or at least a cook dedicated to making better soup, as they say. Cloudy, rainy weather tend to increase the desire for hot, brothy food, but it’s the simplicity of soup recipes that make up the main attraction for me. And with so many cultural and regional variations, one is never short of new ideas. I have made Asian, Jewish, and Italian soups–spicy, salty, and creamy soups and, honestly, I have yet to come across a soup that I don’t like…most likely impossible πŸ˜‰

Lately I’ve been keen to try out another soup recipe, sort of this idea I had that involves a combination of minestrone and tomato meatball soup; the final version I ended up making was a bit more elaborative than that and included baby pasta (at least that’s what I like to call it), bell peppers, and ground pork. I have newfound esteem for this last ingredient in particular because last weekend I visited a pig farm and got to see the adorable (and probably delicious) piglets that were born there by the hundreds every week. In my modest opinion, pork is cut-rate, lean, and tasty }:-) so I will be employing its scrumptiousness wherever I can.

The star ingredient in this recipe is the crushed tomatoes because it kicks up the flavor of the broth a notch; too much tomatoes will overpower all the other ingredients but the right amount compliments the garlic and peppers in the dish. Adding milk to the soup at the end of cooking gives it a creaminess that I think surpasses the usual broth of vegetable soups. Like everything, the soup needs a bit of seasoning to get to the suitable taste, but I ‘m happy to have come up with another recipe that is both hearty and healthy; now I’m curious to see how long it lasts…

Creamy Tomato Pasta Soup with Peas, Peppers, and Pork Meatballs

Ingredients

(for soup)

1 lb. stellini pasta (‘little stars’) or ditalini

3 cups frozen peas

1 yellow bell pepper, finely chopped

1 green bell pepper, finely chopped

1 yellow onion, thinly sliced

3 garlic cloves, minced

6 cups chicken broth

2 Tbs. lemon juice

2 cups white wine

1 tsp. garlic salt (or powder)

4 Tbs. fresh Parsley, minced

1 can crushed tomatoes

2 cups milk

butter

(for meatballs)

1 lb. ground pork

1 yellow onion, chopped

3 Tbs. fresh Parsley, chopped

3 eggs, beaten

4 garlic cloves, chopped

flour

sea salt & cracked pepper

(1) In a blender combine the ground pork, chopped onion, fresh Parsley, garlic, and the beaten eggs; season with salt and pepper and blend until the mixture is smooth and sticking together. Dusting your hands with plenty of flour, mold the meat mixture into meatballs about the size of small marbles and place on a plate.Β  (2) Heat 2 Tbs. butter in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the sliced onion and 3 minced garlic cloves; let cook until aromatic, 2-3 minutes. (3) Add 2 Tbs. white wine to the pan and then arrange as many meatballs as it will fit; cook the meatballs in batches until all of them are done, browning both sides (should cook through in 8-10 minutes) and adding tablespoons of white wine as you go to prevent sticking. Set the cooked meatballs aside and cover. (4) In a large pot, heat the appropriate amount of salted water to a boil and add the pasta; cook until al dente and then drain, putting in a separate bowl. Mix in 1 Tbs. butter and cover the pasta. (5) Add the bell peppers to the onion mixture and let cook until soft, about 4 minutes. Return the large pot to the stove and warm the chicken broth and 2 cups of water over medium heat until steaming; add the peas and crushed tomatoes, cooking another 10 minutes. (6) Lower the heat and add the lemon juice and 1 cup (or what’s left;) of the white wine, simmering another 5 minutes. Add cooked pasta to the soup and stir in 3 Tbs. fresh Parsley and 2 cups milk. Remove from heat and serve immediately in bowls with 5 or 6 meatballs and a layer of cracked pepper over the top (can be stored for a rainy day in the refrigerator up to 2 weeks:-)

Serves 8

It’s likely my craving for this steamy food will subside with all the sunny summer weather heading our way, so now I’m thinking something cold, flavorful, and filling…oh, the choices };-)

My question: What was the tastiest minestrone soup you ever had? (and we’ve all had some of this vegetable goodness…) What made it the best?

7.26.11

Salsa Fresca Sabrosa!?!

So at last the sun comes out to stay for a couple of days and while I’m completely sunburned :(everyone keeps calling me a Lobster) I am just glad I got to lie on the shores of the ocean again! Now I just need to learn how to fish (can’t be that hard, right?) While it is still summertime and growing hotter by the day, I wanted to make something cold (and yes, spicy) that I could feast on every time I find my blood sugar is low. God bless Mexico for coming up with salsa!?!

This week I made a BIG batch of spicy salsa, substituting a few things since the ingredients aren’t as readily available here fresh; I know it sounds odd, but I used fresh Parsley instead of Cilantro (yeah, definitely no cilantro around here) and pickled jalapenos instead of fresh ones. The important things is that the tomatoes are ripe and fresh (and tomatoes are the best vegetable…er, fruit:) My end result was incredibly tasty and seems to gain a bit of spice as it sits in the fridge. Tonight I used my hearty supply to make chicken burritos with basmati rice and sour cream πŸ™‚ Ahhh, enjoy the summer while it lasts!!

Spicy Salsa with fresh Parsley, Red Onions, & Avocado

Ingredients

7-8 tomatoes, chopped

2 red onions, chopped

1/2 bunch fresh Parsley, chopped

3 fresh Jalapenos, chopped & seeded

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 avocados

juice of 3 limes

1 Tbs. white vinegar

1 Tbs. beer

sea salt & cracked pepper

(1) Combine the tomato, onion, parsley, jalapenos, and garlic in a blender and mix thoroughly. (2) Add the lime juice, vinegar, and beer, blending the mixture well until it is smooth. (3) Transfer to a sealable container; cut the avocados into small cubes and add to the salsa. (4) Mix and refrigerate until chilled, about 20 minutes. Serve with tortilla chips or warmed tortillas πŸ™‚

Serves 6-8

I’m under the belief that any combination–very sweet or salty, super spicy or garlicky–all pretty much work for salsa, you just season to taste and voilΓ ! I was thinking of adding a melon to this recipe to give it a little sweetness to counter some of the acidity; probably should next time }:)

My question this week: what is your favorite type of salsa?

One of mine is chunky pineapple green chili salsa, mmmm…

30.6.11