Saturday, June 30, 2012

Creamy Minted Salmon Pasta Salad

First of all, I'd like to thank all of you who voted in Food52's Your Dish with Meat as a Flavoring Contest.  My Tomato Sandwich Worthy of a Little Bacon was the winner.  I certainly appreciate all your support.

This week's contest at Food52 is Your Best Recipe with Mint.  The weather is extremely HOT here and probably will be for another week or more.  For dinner the other night I made this Salmon Pasta Salad with mint in the dressing.  Very refreshing on a warm evening!  And can be made early in the day before the heat really cranks up.  Go to this link to see the full recipe: 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Garlicky Potatoes

This is a slight adaptation of a recipe from Food52 for Spanish Roasted Potato Salad. I've added a couple of ingredients and after tasting, decided that this can be served warm, at room temperature or cold.  Any way it's really good!

Find the original recipe here:

And here's my version:

For the potatoes:
2 pounds potatoes cut into 1  1/2 to 2 inch cubes (use Yukon Golds or redskins and don't peel them)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp sweet paprika
3 Tbl olive oil
Place the cut potatoes in a 9 x 13 roasting pan or baking dish. Sprinkle with the seasonings and olive oil and toss to coat.
Roast in a preheated 400F oven for 30 to 40 minutes, turning them a few times while roasting. You want them browned.

For the dressing:
1/2 cup mayo 
3 cloves garlic, mashed in a garlic press
1 tsp Dijon mustard
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 to 1/2 tsp sweet paprika
1/2 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
salt and pepper to taste

Combine the mayo, garlic, mustard, lemon juice, and paprika in a small bowl.
Place the warm potatoes in a medium bowl and add some of the dressing.  You may not want to use it all, depending on you desire.  Fold in the chopped parsley and season with salt and pepper.
Serve warm, at room temperature or cold.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Meat as a Flavoring Finalist!

Remember that Tomato Sandwich Worthy of a Little Bacon recipe I posted a few weeks ago?  It's a finalist in Food52's Your Best Dish with Meat as a Flavoring Contest!
I'd really appreciate it if everyone would go to the site, register if need be and vote.  You can vote here:

Winning The Best Celery Contest recently yielded a few nifty OXO prizes:  a bamboo cutting board, a small handheld mandoline and a tool for julienne.

Thanks all!!!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Tropical Avocado Pudding

Just a few ingredients in a blender make up this creamy summer dessert.  Avocado and coconut mixed with lime and honey take you where you might want to be this summer.  And it's sooooo easy!

Makes about 4 cups (4 to 6 servings)

3 small to medium Haas avocados
Juice of 1/2 of a large lime
3/4 cup half and half or light cream
One 15 ounce can cream of coconut (the thick sweetened kind)
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut

Place the avocado meat, lime juice and half and half in a blender and begin pureeing.  Once the avocado is fairly pureed (you may have to scrape down the sides of the blender once or twice) add the cream of coconut and honey and puree until smooth.
Remove the mixture from the blender and place in a bowl.  Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.
While the pudding is chilling, toast the coconut.  Spread the coconut flakes on a small baking sheet and bake in a preheated 350F oven for about 5 minutes.
T serve, scoop some of the pudding into small dessert dishes topped with a little of the toasted coconut.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Herbed Couscous Salad with a Hint of Anchovy

A garden full of fresh mint, parsley and basil...a cup of pearl couscous left in the cupboard and the remainder of a jar of anchovies inspired this little salad.  Even if you're not an anchovy lover, this will not send you over the deep end,  The anchovy is so subtle you may not even realize it's there.  But I think it serves a salty purpose!

Serves 2 to 3

1  1/4 cups water
1 cup pearl couscous
4 anchovy filets, divided
2 Tbl fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 Tbl finely diced red onion
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
1/2 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
10 grape tomatoes, halved
Salt and pepper to taste

In a small sauce pan, bring the water to a boil and add the pearl couscous.  Cover and reduce to a simmer.  Simmer for about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Place the cooked couscous in a mixing bowl to cool.
While the couscous is cooling make the vinaigrette.  Mash 2 of the anchovy filets in a small bowl and stir in the lemon juice.  Slowly whisk in the oil.
Stir the vinaigrette into the cooled couscous, followed by the onion, mint, parsley and basil.  Finely mince the remaining two anchovy filets and stir them in with the grape tomatoes.  refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.  Once chilled, season with a little salt and pepper if desired.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Seafood Pasta Rosa

Whenever son Matt comes to town we make seafood pasta because it's one of his favorite meals.  he likes it creamy...we like it tomatoey.  This time we compromised and made one with tomato and cream (well actually half and half).  We all decided that this was one of the better ones.

Makes about 6 servings

1 Tbl olive oil
2 Tbl butter
1/2 cup diced onion
5 to 6 cloves minced garlic
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
4 roma tomatoes which have been peeled, seeded and diced
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 Tbl instant flour(Wondra)
4 cups clam juice or shrimp stock or a combination
1 cup half and half (or light cream)
1  1/2 pounds peeled and deveined shrimp (I used 31-40 size)
1  1/2 pounds sea scallops, cut in half horizontally if extremely large
1 cup minced fresh herbs (basil, oregano and parsley)
1 pound spaghetti or linguini
Grated Parmesan for serving (optional)

In a soup pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter and oil, add the onion and garlic and saute until the mixture softens and becomes very fragrant.
Add the salt, pepper and diced tomatoes.  Whisk in the instant flour a tablespoon at a time while on the heat.  Add the wine and then simmer for 4 to 5 minutes.
Add the clam juice, bring up to a simmer and then simmer for about 15 minutes.
While the mixture is simmering, cook your pasta per package instructions.
After the tomato mixture simmers, stir in the cream and add the shrimp and scallops. Bring up to a simmer again and then simmer for about 2 or 3 minutes until the seafood is just cooked. 
Stir in the fresh herbs and serve the sauce over the cooked pasta, garnished with the Parmesan if desired.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Recycling Pickle Juice

Just took out that last pickle from your favorite jar? Use that pickle juice to your advantage...slice up some cukes (or carrots or zucchini or whatever) and fill that jar of juice.  In a few days you'll have a lightly brined version of your favorite pickle. I love doing this with Kosher garlic dills and can't wait to try it with a newly purchased jar of McClures Spicy Spears.  These are quite spicy and include a piece of a Scotch Bonnet pepper right in the jar.  And for those of you who love sweet pickles...why not?

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Lamb Pilaf

Son Matt was in town last week for the Memorial Day holiday and so we had many of his favorites for the week - a seafood pasta, ribs for the actual holiday, smoked salmon, cream cheese and bagels for brunch - and for his farewell dinner, my Grilled Lamb Chops-Greek Style.  I usually always make a rice pilaf and chunky veggie salad with this.  The pilaf this time had in it - what else but LAMB!

Serves 4 to 6

1/3 pound ground lamb
2 Tbl extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, finely diced
1 stalk celery, finely diced
1 large clove garlic, minced
1  1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
1 cup long grain rice
1/2 cup orzo
2  1/2 cups water (or chicken broth)
1 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
2 Tbl chopped fresh mint leaves
Juice of 1/2 a lemon

In a large saute pan, brown the ground lamb. Drain in a colander and reserve.
In the same pan warm the olive oil and saute the onion, celery and garlic until softened.  Stir in the salt, pepper and ground cumin.
Still over the heat, stir in the parsley, rice and orzo and continue to saute for a minute or two.  Stir in the browned lamb.
Add the water (or broth) to the pan and bring just up to the boil.  Transfer the mixture to a 10x10 inch baking dish (or one similar in size) and bake in a preheated 350F oven for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is absorbed into the rice and orzo.
Remove from the oven and stir in the chopped mint and lemon juice.  Serve hot.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Almost Radish Sushi

I love sushi and have actually made it a couple of times when it started becoming all the rage around here.  It does involve a little work, however, and so I decided to make a sort of "deconstructed" version.  Everything can be made ahead and then just assembled before serving.  A refreshing summer appetizer!

Serves many

For the sticky rice:

1 cup sushi rice, thoroughly rinsed
1 cup water
1 Tbl granulated sugar
1 Tbl unseasoned rice vinegar
1 tsp salt

Place the rinsed rice and water in a medium sauce pan and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat, place a cover on the pan and just barely simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Turn off the heat and let the rice rest for about 5 minutes.
Uncover the pan and let the rice cool to room temperature.  Combine the sugar, vinegar and salt in a small dish and microwave for about 10 seconds.  Stir the mixture into the rice making sure that all the rice gets coated.  Set aside.

Putting it all together:

3/4 cup grated daikon radish (use the large holes of a box grater) packed
3/4 cup red radish, grated (same method as above)
3 Tbl granulated sugar
3 Tbl unseasoned rice vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
The sticky rice
1/4 to 3/4 tsp wasabi paste(depending on your tolerance for heat)
4 heads of Belgian endive
Pickled ginger

Combine the 2 radishes, the sugar and vinegar in a small bowl.  Cover and refrigerate for about an hour.
Place the soy and wasabi in a small jar with a lid.  Shake the mixture until the wasabi is incorporated into the soy.
Drain the now lightly pickled radishes and stir them into the sticky rice.
Separate the leaves of the Belgian endive and place a nice rounded tablespoon or so on the base of each leaf.  Drizzle the rice with 1/4 to 1/2 tsp of the soy mixture and then top with a little pickled ginger.

Friday, June 1, 2012

A Tomato Sandwich Worthy of a Little Bacon

I love tomatoes and mayo on toast and I really love BLTs but only have them twice a year, once at the beginning of tomato season when the tomatoes are at their best and then again at the end of the season when I know they'll soon be gone.  We'll have them with plain mayo or avocado mayo, depending on our mood.  This sandwich satisfies that BLT craving even when the tomatoes are not quite at their peak.

Makes about 2 cups of aioli for many sandwiches

For the Bacon-Avocado Aioli

3 slices bacon, cooked crisp, crumbled and rendered fat reserved
1 room temperature egg
1 large clove garlic
1 medium avocado
Juice of half a lemon
3/4 cup vegetable oil

Process the bacon, egg, garlic, lemon juice and avocado in the bowl of a mini food processor until smooth.  Add the vegetable oil and the rendered bacon fat through the holes on the lid slowly while continuing to process until very smooth and thick.  Refrigerate for about an hour to thicken a bit more.

For the Sandwich

The Bacon-Avocado Aioli
Toasted slices of a good rustic Italian bread
The best tomatoes you can find, sliced about 1/4 inch thick
Salt and pepper

Slather as much of the aioli as you like on a slice of the toast.  Top with a few slices of tomato and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  I like these open face but if you like, slather a second piece of toast with more of the aioli and place on top.