Monday, July 30, 2012

Fresh Herb Vinaigrette for My Big Fat Greek Salad

We make Greek salads often around here, especially in the summer when the ingredients are so fresh and available.  Normally I make the dressing with dried herbs, but with the garden full of fresh ones, I thought a new variation might work..Make your salad "Detroit" style by adding sliced roasted beets!

Makes about 3/4 cup

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbl fresh lemon juice
1 Tbl red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic
4 large basil leaves, torn
2 Tbl chopped fresh oregano
1 tsp granulated sugar
1 tsp anchovy paste
2 Tbl crumbled feta cheese

Place all ingredients in a mini food processor and process until almost smooth.(The feta might not all smooth out and you'll see little flecks of the herbs)

Toss the vinaigrette with your favorite Greek salad ingredients: lettuce, red onion, feta, kalamata olives, cucumbers, tomatoes...even sliced radishes and beets if you like! 

Friday, July 27, 2012

Oven Poached Salmon Fettuccini

Salmon is our "go to" fish and I love to prepare it in a variety of ways.  This pasta combines fresh salmon with a small amount of cold smoked.

Serves 6

For the poached salmon:
4 x 6 ounce boneless, skinless salmon fillets
8 ounces clam juice
8 ounces dry white wine
1/4 tsp white pepper
8 sprigs fresh dill

Place the salmon fillets in a 9 x 13 inch baking dish.  combine the clam juice, wine and white pepper and pour over the fish.
Place 2 sprigs of dill on each fillet, cover the pan tightly with foil and bake for 20 to 25 minutes in a 350F oven.  Time will vary depending on the thickness of your fillets.
Remove from the oven, set the fillets on a plate and set aside while you prepare the rest.

Putting it all together:

1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tbl butter
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup half and half
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp white pepper
1/2 cup sliced green onions
1/2 cup minced fresh dill
9 ounces fresh baby spinach
3 ounces cold smoked salmon, diced
12 ounces fettucinni cooked according to package directions, reserving a cup or two of the pasta cooking liquid
The poached salmon
Salt and pepper for seasoning

I a very large saute pan, heat the oil and butter, add the minced garlic and gently cook over medium heat until the garlic is fragrant.
Add the half and half, salt and white pepper.  Bring up to a simmer, add the salmon and break it into very large chunks with a wooden spoon.
With the heat on, add the green onion and dill.
Stir in the cooked pasta and then stir in the spinach leaves, a handful at a time until just wilted.  Add as much of the pasta water as needed to create a relatively loose sauce.
Stir in the smoked salmon and season with salt and pepper.  The salmon chunks will further break up with all the additions.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Zucchini Stuffed Chicken Breasts

I've stuffed chicken breasts with spinach a number of times but with zucchini finally starting to show itself in our garden, I thought it might be nice to use it with basil.  It turned out to be very, very good!

Makes 4 generous servings

4 bone in, skin on medium chicken breast halves
2 Tbl butter
1 Tbl olive oil
2 cups shredded zucchini (about one medium)
2 medium green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 cups fresh bread crumbs
1 cup grated cheese (I used mozzarella, but Swiss or provolone would be good)
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
1 egg, lightly beaten

And for basting you'll want 2 Tbl butter mixed with a few shredded basil leaves and melted.

In a large skillet, melt the butter and olive oil and add the green onions, zucchini, salt and pepper.  Saute for about 5 minutes until the zucchini "softens"up.
Take the skillet off the heat, let cool a few minutes and then stir in the bread crumbs,cheese, basil and beaten egg.
With your clean fingers, lift the skin of the breasts apart from the meat to create a pocket.
Fill each chicken breast pocket with 1/4 of the stuffing.
Place the breasts in a 9x13 inch baking pan.
Preheat the oven to 350F.  Pour the melted butter and basil over the breasts and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, basting with the accumulated pan juices occasionally.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Dill and Fennel Frond Potato Salad

Some of my dill weed in the garden is starting to go to seed so I went out to cut those stalks to get the last of their leaves to use in potato salad when I noticed how full the fronds from the fennel I'm growing were.  I decided that the two would pair very well together and gave it a shot, bolstered with a little dried ground fennel.

Makes about 6 side servings

6 large redskin potatoes
3/4 cup good quality mayo
1/2 cup sour cream
2 Tbl minced fennel fronds
2 Tbl minced fresh dill weed
1 tsp ground fennel seed
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 Tbl milk (any kind)
1 cup diced celery (small dice)
3 green onions/scallions thinly sliced
Additional mayo if needed
Additional salt and pepper for re-seasoning

Steam or boil the potatoes in their jackets until fork tender.  This could take between 15 and 20 minutes, depending on potato size.
While the potatoes are cooking, make the dressing by combining the mayo, sour cream, fennel fronds, dill, ground fennel seed, lemon juice, salt pepper and milk.  Set aside or refrigerate.
When the potatoes are done, drain them in a colander and then while still warm but cool enough to handle, peel them and then cut them in small chunks and place in a large mixing bowl.
Gently stir in the celery and green onion and then start stirring in the dressing a little at a time.  Depending on your potatoes you may not need all the dressing.  You want a nice creamy consistency.  And if too dry, stir in a little more mayo.
refrigerate for at least a few hours and when ready to serve, re-season with salt and pepper if you like.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Zucchini with Almond Basil Pesto Revisited

I just saw that this recipe that I posted about a year ago is being featured today on the Whole Foods Market Cooking website, along with a beautiful photo.

See it here:

Shrimp Remoulade Slaw

I love remoulade sauce with shrimp, crab cakes, oysters and even fish.  Thought this time I'd turn shrimp remoulade into a salad.

Makes 4 healthy servings

For the remoulade:
1 cup mayo
1 stalk celery, finely diced
2 green onions, finely diced
1 heaping Tbl Creole mustard (if you don't have creole, Dijon will work)
1 Tbl Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbl ketchup
1 Tbl fresh lemon juice
3 good shakes ( or more if you like it spicy ) hot sauce (I used Cholula)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

Combine all ingredients and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

For the slaw:

1 pound medium peeled and deveined shrimp, thawed if frozen (I used 36-40s)
1/2 lemon
5 cups shredded common cabbage
1/2 cup chopped parsley
The remoulade
Salt and pepper for seasoning

Bring about 3 quarts of water along with the 1/2 lemon to a rolling boil.  Add the shrimp, put a lid on the pot, turn off the heat and let the shrimp sit for about 2 minutes.  Drain the shrimp in a colander and then rinse them quickly in cold, cold water to cool.
Once the shrimp has cooled, combine it with the shredded cabbage, remoulade and chopped parsley.  Season to taste with salt and pepper and chill before serving.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

"Special" Steak

Years ago, I remember going to a Chinese restaurant up in Bloomfield, Mi where they served what they called "Special Steak".  It was a stir fry of beef tenderloin, baby corn, straw mushrooms, something green, and something red in a brown gravy. I loved it and it's been haunting me for years.  The other day I decided to tackle this and came up with what I think is a pretty good clone of what I remember....and even if it isn't sure was good!!

1  1/2 pounds beef tenderloin steak
3 Tbl peanut or vegetable oil, divided
1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
Large handful of Chinese pea pods
4 green onions, sliced in 2 inch pieces
1  15 ounce can baby corn, each little cob cut in half
1  15 ounce can whole straw mushrooms
3 Tbl soy sauce
4 Tbl oyster sauce
 1  1/2 cups water mixed with 2 Tbl cornstarch to make a slurry for thickening
Cooked rice or Chinese wheat noodles for serving

 Slice the meat thinly, season with salt and pepper and then heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a very large skillet or wok. Brown the meat in batches and then reserve the pieces in a bowl.
In the same skillet, add 1 tablespoon of oil and then add the red pepper and garlic and saute for a few minutes until the garlic becomes fragrant and the pepper softens a bit.
Drain and rinse the corn and mushrooms and add them to the skillet along with the pea pods and green onions.
Keeping the heat on high, stir in the browned steak, along with any accumulated juices.
Add the soy and oyster sauce and give everything a big stir.  Stir in the cornstarch slurry and cooked until the sauce thickens.
Serve over hot rice or noodles.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Pasta Tonnato Salad

No story here...just my riff on tuna and macaroni salad.  The tuna becomes part of the dressing.

Makes a Huge bowl and serves many

For the tonnato sauce:
2  x  4.5 cans tuna in olive oil
3/4 cup mayo
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 Tbl capers in brine
2 tsp of the caper brine
1 Tbl anchovy paste

Place all of the ingredients (including the oil from the tuna) in a food processor or blender and process until smooth.  Refrigerate.

For the salad:

16 ounces dry pasta shells
Juice of a whole lemon
1 large (about 4 cups) diced unpeeled English cucumber (small dice)
1  15 ounce can chick peas, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
3/4 cup finely diced red onion
The tonnato sauce

Cook the pasta per package directions.  Quickly rinse in cool water and drain.  Place the pasta in a large mixing bowl and stir in the lemon juice.  let the pasta cool to room temperature.
Once the pasta has cooled add the cucumber, chick peas, red onion and parsley.  Stir in the tonnato sauce and refrigerate a few hours before serving.

NOTE:  If after refrigerating the salad seems a little dry (sometimes that happens!) just stir in a little more mayo or extra virgin olive oil to your taste.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Matt's Pepper Salad

Our son Matt sent me this photo and recipe for a pepper salad that he really likes a lot...good to see that he's sort of cooking now and then.  This is real easy and should be made either early in the day or served the next day. Looks good Matt...thanks for sharing!

1 sliced green bell pepper
1 sliced red bell pepper
1/2 sliced red onion
1 tsp cilantro paste (I imagine a couple of teaspoons of fresh cilantro would work also)
A few squirts of red wine vinegar
A few squirts of extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all the ingredients and let marinate in the fridge for a number of hours or overnight before serving

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Garden Zucchini Chips

This year we moved the zucchini patch back where it belonged.  Last year we moved them and only harvested three zucchini!  Well the first two emerged this week and we always do fried zucchini with those first two.  We like to fry them in tempura batter, sprinkle them with freshly grated parmesan and dip them in ranch dressing.  Yummy!!!!

For the batter:
1 cup fine white rice flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 egg
8 to 10 ounces club soda

Whisk the two flours and salt together in a mixing bowl.  In a small bowl whisk the egg with about 4 ounces of the club soda.  Slowly add and whisk the egg mixture into the flour mixture.
Add and whisk in enough club soda to form a batter that is a bit thin. (use your judgement)
Alternatively you can purchase a tempura batter mix and follow the package directions.

For the zucchini:
2 smallish zucchini, sliced in ovals(first photo)
Enough vegetable oil for pan frying (about an inch up the side of the pan)
The batter
Grated parmesan cheese

Heat the oil until a drop of the batter rises quickly to the top of the pan. Coat the zucchini pieces with the batter and fry on each side until very lightly golden.  You probably will have to do this in batches.
Place the fried zucchini in one layer on a baking sheet and sprinkle with parmesan.  Place in a warm oven while frying the rest if need be.

Serve with ranch dressing or marinara sauce for dipping

Friday, July 6, 2012

Creamy Dilled Cucumbers

Remember the Dilly of a Chopped Salad that I posted a few days ago?  Well I had some of the salad dressing leftover and decided to use it on my cucumbers for the 4th of July.  I sliced the cukes very thin on a mandoline and then placed them in a colander over a bowl, heavily salted them and let them sit on the counter for a few hours.  I then rinsed them VERY thoroughly, drained them and coated them with the leftover dressing.  After chilling in the fridge, they were extremely good with the ribs and potato salad.

Here's the link to the dressing:

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy 4th! Make Potato Salad!

This is Tom's favorite potato salad and it's on the menu for tonight along with ribs and marinated cucumbers.  The ingredients are rather approximate so use your own judgement and taste.  This one is easy and ingredients are almost always on hand.

6 to 8 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 2 inch cubes
4 hard boiled eggs, chopped
6 thinly sliced green onions
About 1 cup mayo (you may need more)
A couple of squirts of yellow mustard
Lots of salt and pepper to taste
Sweet Hungarian paprika

Boil the potatoes in water until fork tender.  Drain and place in a large mixing bowl.
Whisk the mayo and mustard together and add some of it to the potatoes, stirring away and sort of mashing a few of the potatoes.
Add the sliced green onions and some salt and pepper and then add more of the mustard mayo mixture.
Gently fold in the eggs, re season and add more of the mustard mayo. If your salad seems too dry, just add more mayo.
Place in a serving bowl and chill.  When ready to serve, sprinkle with a little sweet Hungarian paprika.

Monday, July 2, 2012

A Dilly of a Chopped Salad

I made this salad a few weeks ago when the weather started getting really warm.  The cream dilled bacon dressing adds a nice dimension to a simple chopped salad.  Tonight I'm making it again but adding some leftover grilled chicken to it.  A totally complete meal for a very hot day!

6 slices crisp cooked bacon, reserving a tablespoon of the rendered bacon fat
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup homemade or food quality commercial ayo
1 clove garlic, mashed or put through a garlic press
1/2 cup fresh minced dill
2 Tbl milk
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 large heart romaine lettuce, chopped
1/3 of an English cucumber, thinly sliced and then each slice halved
2 hard boiled eggs
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion, chopped
3/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
2 cups chopped cooked chicken(optional)

Combine the sour cream, mayo, fresh dill, salt, pepper and milk.  Crumble 2 slices of the bacon very finely and add to the dressing along with the tablespoon of rendered bacon fat.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.
When ready to serve, combine the chopped lettuce, cucumbers and onion.  Chop the bacon and eggs and add them to the mix.  Gently fold in the blue cheese.  Serve with the dilled bacon dressing.
Add 2 cups chopped cooked chicken to make this a hearty dinner salad!