Tomatoes are abundant right now…..so make the most of these summertime jewels. This recipe is a twist on the Southern tradition of tomato pie. Layer your tart with heirloom tomatoes and dollop with an herbed cheese mayo and you have a savory and robust side to a summer meal or add a side salad for a light lunch. Another idea for all those tomatoes…… try this tart using caramelized onions and gruyere.
Rustic Heirloom Tomato Tart (adapted from Fine Cooking)
1/4 cup semolina flour
1 recipe Buttermilk Biscuit Dough (recipe below)
All-purpose flour, for rolling out the dough
3 to 4 medium ripe tomatoes (1-1/2 lb. total), preferably heirloom, cored and sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick
2 oz. coarsely grated Gruyère (about 2/3 cup using the large holes of a box grater)
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup finely chopped mixed fresh herbs (parsley, basil, and chives)
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh oregano or marjoram
Freshly ground black pepper
Pre-heat oven to 425°F. Sprinkle a 12×17-inch sheet of parchment with 2 tablespoons of the semolina flour. On the semolina, pat the biscuit dough into a 5-inch round. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a 13-inch round, lightly dusting with all-purpose flour to keep the dough from sticking.
Transfer the dough on the parchment to a large rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons semolina flour over the dough, leaving a 1-1/2-inch border.
Arrange the tomatoes over the dough in two flat, slightly overlapping concentric circles, lightly salting each circle as you go.
Combine the cheese, mayonnaise, herbs, and pepper in a small bowl. Dollop in generous tablespoons over the tomatoes. Fold the dough border over the edges of the tomatoes, pleating the dough as necessary.
Bake until the crust is golden-brown and the tomatoes are tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack until warm, about 30 minutes, before cutting into wedges and serving. You can also serve it at room temperature.
Buttermilk Biscuit Dough
1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (more if needed)
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3/4 cup cold, well-shaken buttermilk
In a large, wide bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Using your fingertips, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal with some pea-size lumps.
Using a spatula, stir in the buttermilk just until the flour mixture is moistened. Do not overmix; the dough should just come together, and it will be sticky.
Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and gently knead 6 to 8 times, dusting lightly with flour if needed to keep it from sticking.
It was Monday morning and I needed to jump-start the week. I love our weekends and I love my weekend Wall Street Journal; my favorite section is Off Duty. I usually find interesting ideas from chefs around the country. Saturday highlighted Chicago chef, Stephanie Izard and her take on a refreshing seasonal salad. This is a perfect entree to enjoy ALL the produce that is in season right now. Izard combines two of Italy’s favorite salads, the panzanella and caprese. Creamy mozzarella pairs well with the acidity of the fruit. To quote Stephanie, “this is summer in a bowl.” To quote me, “it’s the perfect way to start my week.”
Tomato, Stone Fruit And Mozzarella Salad (adapted from Stephanie Izard/ Wall Street Journal)
1 cup roasted and salted pistachios, roughly chopped
Juice of 2 lemons
2 tablespoons honey
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups roughly torn bread
1¼ pounds heirloom tomatoes, cut into wedges
1 ripe nectarine, cut into wedges
2 ripe plums, cut into wedges
10 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced into ¼-inch rounds
8 basil leaves, roughly chopped
…and I added a handful of cherries, sliced in half, pitted
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Make the dressing. In a medium bowl, whisk together pistachios, lemon, honey,4 tablespoons oil until well combined. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside. Make croutons. Toss bread with remaining oil and season with salt. Spread croutons in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake until golden about 12-15 minutes. In a bowl, toss tomatoes with stone fruit, season with salt. Divide mozzarella slices among plates and season with salt and pepper. Top with fruit mixture, drizzle with dressing and garnish with basil and top with croutons. Serve immediately.
Coleslaw…. most people can take it or leave it. Memories of soggy, over-mayonnaised salad may come to mind. Being the ultimate traditional side to a summer BBQ, coleslaw needs a shot in the arm. Give this recipe a try. …. it’s a crowd pleaser that I promise you will add to your summer repertoire. Take some time to chop these ingredients to create this incredibly flavorful and colorful slaw. Two cabbages, sweet apples, scallions, sunflower seeds, the bite of shallots and tangy lemon zest make this unlike any slaw of your past. *** Coleslaw is not just for your summer menus, this salad can move into the Fall months to top your pulled pork sandwiches!
Poppyseed Coleslaw (Adapted from Curtis Stone)
1/2 head Napa Cabbage, cored, cut in half and then cut crosswise into 1/8-inch-wide slices, about 3 cups
1/2 head Red Cabbage, cored, cut in half and then cut crosswise into 1/8-inch-wide slices, about 2 cups
1 large Carrot, cut into thin matchstick-size strips
1 apple, diced
8 Scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
1/2 cup lightly packed fresh Cilantro
Sunflower seeds, toasted and salted
Using your hands, gently toss the Napa cabbage, red cabbage, carrots, scallions, and cilantro in a large bowl to combine. Toss the coleslaw with enough dressing to coat (reserve any remaining dressing for another use). Serve immediately.
Poppy Seed Dressing
1 1/2 cups Mayonnaise
1/4 cup finely chopped Shallots
2 tablespoons Cider Vinegar
1 tablespoon Poppy Seeds
Finely grated zest of 1 Lemon
2 teaspoons fresh Lemon Juice
2 teaspoons Kosher Salt
In a medium bowl, whisk all the ingredients to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 10 minutes to develop the flavors.
The trending recipe of the summer. I have come across this recipe a number of times the last few months. It’s such a simple idea but being a bit of a skeptic… I had to try it. I love the idea of one pot dinners, easy to make and even easier to clean up. While these ingredients are not an uncommon combination, throwing them all together in one pan is. The result… a VERY tasty noodle!! The starch that leaches off the pasta helps create a creamy and flavorful sauce. Dinner on the table in 20 minutes...one pot…..where was this on those hectic days of juggling practices, games and a meal???????
One-Pan Pasta (adapted slightly from Martha Stewart Living)
12 ounces linguine
12 ounces cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or quartered if large
1 onion, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/2- 3/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
2 sprigs basil, plus torn leaves for garnish
2-3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
4 1/2 cups water
Lots of freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving
Combine pasta, tomatoes, onion, garlic, red-pepper flakes, basil, oil, 2 teaspoons kosher salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and water in a large straight-sided skillet. Bring to a boil over high heat. Boil mixture, stirring and turning pasta frequently with tongs, until pasta is al dente and water has nearly evaporated, about 9 minutes.
Season to taste with salt and pepper, divide among 4 bowls, and garnish with basil. Serve with oil and Parmesan.
What memories are stirred when you sink your teeth into that first bite of summer’s corn on the cobb? I go back to my childhood where Mom would send one of us across the street to the farm stand with pocket change to pick up our daily sweet side to dinner…a food staple during the summer months. As much as I love eating from the cobb…for entertaining, this recipe works well as a side and is easier to serve for a crowd. The dish is a spin-off of ELOTE, a popular Mexican street food. (Grilled corn on the cob served with a variety of condiments, including mayonnaise, cotija cheese, lime and chili powder.) Crunchy, sweet, savory and spicy… soooo easy to prepare and goes great with just about any summer main course. While Randy has the grill filled with this chicken recipe, (minus the basil sauce ) I can prepare street corn in the kitchen.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 jalapeno, finely chopped
6 cups corn kernels, shaved from about 12 ears
1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup Parmesan, freshly grated
Heat oil in a large skillet set over low heat. Add jalapeno and saute for 2 minutes. Increase heat to medium, add corn and salt and cook for approximately 5 minutes. In a large bowl, toss corn, mint and vinegar. Add Parmesan and toss again. Serve cold or at room temperature. I like a squeeze of lime to finish.
Thank you Pam for introducing me to this light and tasty mussel dish at Girlyfest 2013!! Just one of the highlights of the never-ending happy hour(s)! This was quite the leap for me to rediscover the very shell that hospitalized me in Italy years ago. Now… I’m back in the game! While mussels, the main ingredient, are lovely little saline bites, the brilliance of this recipe is the sauce. The bite of the Chile, sweetness of the coconut milk, bright lemon and fresh herbs leave you wanting a straw!!! Soak up this tasty broth with crusty bread, serve with a side salad and a crisp white wine. Enjoy this recipe and the health benefits of the mussels……a great low-fat, high protein food source filled with lots of nutrients like omega-3 and iron.
Spicy Coconut Mussels with Lemon Grass (The New York Times)
2 tablespoons coconut or safflower oil
1 shallot, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 stalk lemon grass, trimmed (outer layers removed) and finely chopped
1/2 to 1 small hot chile ( Thai bird, Serrano, Scotch bonnet or jalapeño), seeded and finely chopped
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
2 pounds fresh mussels, rinsed well
Zest of 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon lemon juice, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon Asian fish sauce, or to taste
1/2 cup whole cilantro leaves
Clean your mussels. I put them in a big bowl of very cold water for about 10 minutes. This encourages them to expel their sand. Scoop them out… one by one and scrub them under running water. Most cultivated mussels have the bissus (beard) removed but if one lingers, yank it toward the hinge or cut it with a knife. Discard any mussels with chipped shells or that are not completely shut.
Heat the oil in the bottom of a large pot until hot. Add the shallot, garlic, lemon grass and chile. Cook over medium heat until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the coconut milk and mussels. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and cook until the mussels have opened, 5 to 7 minutes (discard any mussels that remained closed). Remove from heat, and use a slotted spoon to transfer the mussels to a large bowl, leaving the liquid in the pot. Stir the lemon zest and juice, fish sauce and cilantro into the pot. Taste and add more fish sauce and/or lemon juice if needed (fish sauce provides the salt).
Serve with baguette to soak up the yummy juices. Add a fresh green salad to complete your meal.
Here’s just a “tasting” of what’s been cooking with me this past week or so. (Kitchen closed.) We traveled to Santa Barbara for a very special wedding, which happily included seeing our daughter. After much frivolity and fun, Randy and I headed north to wine country…. Paso Robles. This lovely and approachable Central Coast Region is midway between San Fransisco and Los Angeles making it a great side trip from either direction. We spent two days sipping wines….Rhone varietals which included granache, syrahs, zinfandel, cabernet, malbec, mourvedre, and several other grapes. With over 200 family owned vineyards dotted throughout the rolling hills, beautiful tasting rooms and collectively outstanding wines, this is a destination we hope to visit for years to come. Though dining was not the main event, we enjoyed some memorable meals in Paso. Enjoy a few photos of our trip and now……..I’m back in the kitchen!!
I needed a dessert and I needed one fast! We had family in for 5 days and I really didn’t plan a lot of sweet endings. While this may have been an oversight, a quick review of my pantry came up a winner. All ingredients were in the house, so without going to the market, I created this overstuffed treat…Rustic Cherry Tart! Using summer’s bounty of cherries, this tart saved me……tart’s always seem to save me! (Don’t overlook this fruit’s reputation as a nutrient packed superfood!)
Rustic Cherry Tart (Adapted from Kitchen Simplicity)
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons cold butter, cut up
3-6 tablespoons ice cold water
1 pound (approx. 3 cups) sweet cherries, halved and pitted
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
egg wash (1 egg white, 1 teaspoon water, whisked together)
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup toasted almonds
For the Pastry Dough: Combine flour, sugar and salt. Using your fingers, quickly break up the butter, tossing it in the flour mixture, until the butter is roughly the size of peas. Add water 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing together with a fork, until the dough sticks together to form a ball. (Make sure it sticks together easily without being sticky to the touch.) Roll the dough out onto a lightly floured piece of parchment paper, into a 14 inch circle. Transfer the parchment and dough onto a baking sheet.
Mix together filling ingredients until evenly coated. Pour onto the center of the tart and spread out to within 2 inches of the edge. Fold up the edges to keep the filling inside.
Brush the pastry with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.
Bake at 375 degrees for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until filling is bubbly and crust is golden brown. Allow to cool completely before slicing and serving. Sprinkle with slivered almonds.
This is not just another noodle dish. It’s special…with only six ingredients! Quoting David Chang himself, “Ginger Scallion Sauce is one of the greatest sauces or condiments ever. Ever. It’s definitely a mother sauce at Momofuku, something that we use over and over and over again.” I’m sold and you will be too. Chang compliments the noodles with roasted cauliflower and pickled cucumbers. You can add pretty much anything (seared tofu, pork, vegetables) to this recipe. I chose shrimp for the protein and pea pods. Serve as an entrée or an appetizer.
Momofuku Ginger Scallion Noodles
2 1⁄2 cups thinly sliced scallions (greens and whites, 2 to 3 large bunches)
1⁄2 cup finely minced peeled fresh ginger
1⁄4 cup grape seed or other neutral oil
1 1⁄2 teaspoons usukuchi (light soy sauce)
3⁄4 teaspoon sherry vinegar
3⁄4 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste
6 0z. ramen noodles (or rice noodles)
Pea pods and Shrimp (*marinated) medium size, peeled and deveined
Mix together the scallions, ginger, oil, soy, vinegar, and salt in a bowl. Taste and check for salt, adding more if needed. Though it’s best after 15 or 20 minutes of sitting, ginger scallion sauce is good from the minute it’s stirred together up to a day or two in the fridge. Boil 6 ounces of ramen noodles, drain, toss with 6 tablespoons ginger scallion sauce; top the bowl shrimp and sliced peapods. Optional: Randy drizzled a little soy to finish and I drizzled a bit of chili oil. Great at room temp. or chilled.
*I marinated the shrimp in 1/3 cup soy sauce, 1/4 cup rice vinegar, 2 tablespoons sesame oil, 2 teaspoons minced garlic, 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger, 1 tablespoon green onion and pepper. Whisk together all ingredients. Makes 1 cup. Marinated for 1/2 hour or up to 2 hours. Saute approx. 3 minutes or pink in color. You already have most of these ingredients for the noodles!!
File this under….needed to be documented. The kids have called for this simple, healthy snack recipe so often that I felt it just needs to be on the record (blog)!! A couple things differ with this method than others…..first, the length of the slice and second, the slow cooking process. Many recipes have high cook times and a quick bake. I find the slower method yields crunchier chips. Using a mandoline is ideal however, turn on the RED CAUTION light!!! Don’t make me tell that story……….wear gloves or use the safety handle!!!!!! Enjoy with your summer burgers!
Sweet Potato Chips
Yields approx. 50 chips
2 large Sweet Potatoes
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Scrub the potatoes until clean. Using a mandoline or a knife, slice the potatoes lengthwise into thin slices, about 1/8-inch thick. In a large bowl, toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Place potato slices on parchment lined sheet trays and cook for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, flipping half way through. Remove from the oven once crisp and slightly golden brown. Season with additional salt if desired.
Alternative Cooking Method: 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Keep a close watch the last 5 minutes.
This crab cake is delicious. I’ve tried plenty of recipes over the years in search of the cake that really holds together. The key is to not overmix and to chill the mixture in the fridge so it can “set up.” With minimal ingredients, this recipe really lets the crab shine through. Most recipes call for pan frying …well I bake them for less fuss and more stability. You may want to toast mini bread rounds as a base for easy serving. This is such a simple recipe for such a show stopper. Plan on 8 entrée size cakes or 30 minis. To serve… top with lemon aioli and chives.
Maryland Crab Cake with Lemon Aioli
1 lb. jumbo lump or backfin lump crabmeat, fresh or pasteurized (Thank you Diamond Fresh Seafood)
1 large egg
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1-1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1-1/2 tsp. Old Bay seasoning
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce Kosher salt
1-1/4 cups fresh breadcrumbs (from white sandwich bread) More slices for bread rounds if your making mini crab cakes
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
Drain the crabmeat, if necessary, and pick through for shells. Put the crab in a medium mixing bowl and set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk the egg, mayonnaise, mustard, Old Bay seasoning, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, and 1/4 tsp. salt. Combine the mixture with the crab and mix gently until combined. Gently break up the lumps with your fingers but do not overmix.
Sprinkle the breadcrumbs and the parsley over the mixture, and mix them in gently. Again do not over mix, this should be somewhat loose. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 to 3 hours.
For mini crab cakes: preheat oven to 375 degrees. Using a 2 inch ring mold cut out bread and place in oven for approx 10 minutes until lightly toasted. Using the 2 inch rings put 1 tablespoon of crab in each mold and place cakes on baking sheet, brush with a bit of olive oil and butter (optional). Bake for approximately 20 minutes. (I think this method is easier than pan cooking).
OR ALTERNATIVE METHOD OF COOKING…..
Shape the crab mixture into 8 cakes about 1 inch thick. In a nonstick skillet, heat the butter with the olive oil over medium heat. When the butter is frothy, add the cakes to the pan . Cook until dark golden brown on the underside, about 4 minutes. Flip the cakes, reduce the heat to medium low, and continue cooking until the other side is well browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Serve with lemon aoili and lemon wedges.
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chopped chives
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a medium bowl, mix all the ingredients together.
Back on a beautiful Saturday afternoon in May when all the neighbors came out after our winter hibernation, I met my neighbor Courtney. Oh, I’ve known Courtney for the last few years but what I mean is I really met Courtney. Her son Logan was over playing with my husband (!) and Courtney came to retrieve him with her new baby Beckett. After asking about her job she informed me she is home with the kids and has a food blog. Off and running!!! Love her blog. Check it out…. A Life From Scratch. Refreshing meal planning tied in with a lifestyle twist. We’ve had lots of fun since that May Day…. trading, testing, and chatting recipes. This pasta recipe is from ALFS blog adapted from Curtis Stone. Perfect for summer entertaining.
Summer Corn Pasta (Adapted from Curtis Stone)
1 pound bow-tie pasta (farfalle)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 cup dry white wine
4 large sprigs of fresh thyme
2 cups fresh corn kernels (cut from about 4 ears)
1/4 cups heavy cream
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook for about 7 minutes, tender but firm to bite.
Meanwhile, heat a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil, then shallots and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes, til tender. Add the wine, thyme, and raise the heat to medium-high. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until the liquid is reduced by three-quarters.
Add the corn and cream and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, for about 2 minutes, until the corn is hot. Keep the sauce warm over very low heat.
Scoop out and reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water and drain the pasta. Add the pasta to the corn sauce and toss to coat. Add enough of the reserved pasta water to adjust the sauce to the desired consistency. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Gently mix in the tomatoes and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese, chives, and pepper.
What’s old is new again. Being introduced to this refreshing cocktail has put me on a “bender” of sorts. A few weeks ago we watched the Hawks game at our good friends’ home (Tom and Maureen) and they served us Moscow Mules. They were delicious. We are superstitious. So this became THE drink to bring the cup home to Chi-town. Randy and I traveled to our various Hawks game venues with The Mule. On Saturday this drink showed up at my Mom’s. The first sip had her talking about her job in the 40′s and where she would go to drink Moscow Mules in copper cups after work. It triggered such a memory boost that I looked at Randy and said “who is this women”??? All new news to me!!
Back in 1941, gin was the predominant liquor and vodka was a bit of an after thought. John G. Martin was the president of a large East Coast distributor of food and spirits who had recently acquired the rights to distribute Smirnoff vodka in the United States. Jack Morgan was the owner of the Cock ’n’ Bull Tavern on the Sunset Strip and distributor of ginger beer. These two, along with the president of Smirnoff, met in New York to come up with an idea to move their products. A basket of limes was added to the mix along with ginger beer and vodka, and The Moscow Mule was born.
Thanks to a resurgence of all things nostalgic, the Moscow Mule is making quite a little comeback. And thanks to “the Mule” we now are the proud caretakers of the 2013 Sir Stanley Cup!!!!!! You’re welcome.
The last time I visited my sister Laura in Connecticut we drove from her home to the Maine coast. Our daily routine consisted of pulling into weathered roadside shacks in search of the perfect lobster roll. Oh...and we found them!! Lots of them. The Maine lobster roll features sweet, succulent lobster meat piled into a buttery toasted split-top roll. Add mayonnaise, a hint of lemon, celery (for crunch) and it’s time to chow. If you can’t make it to the east to experience the natural beauty of the rocky, rustic coastline, lighthouses, red-painted barns and this local favorite….then re-create the traditional Maine lobster roll at home.
Lobster Rolls (Adapted from Pearl Oyster Bar)
1 pound cooked lobster meat, chopped roughly into 1/2 and 3/4-inch pieces
1 small celery rib, finely chopped
2-3 tablespoons mayonnaise (Hellman’s)
1-2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Pinch of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 (or 4) top-split hot dog buns (hard to find in the midwest….found them at Panera Bread!)
Snipped fresh chives for garnish
In a large bowl, combine the lobster meat, celery, mayonnaise, lemon and salt and pepper and mix thoroughly. Adjust seasonings to taste. Refrigerate. This mixture will last for 2 days. Melt a few tablespoons of butter in a saute pan and toast the insides of the bun til golden. Then toast the outsides. This is the key to the perfect lobster roll!
If you can’t find lobster meat or not in your budget……..re-place lobster with shrimp!
*I made 4 rolls out of the 1 pound of lobster meat. The recipe called for 2 servings (they would be HUGE)
Randy’s favorite cake is German Chocolate. My Dad’s favorite cake was German Chocolate. (Strange…the only two people I know who love this cake). It was Father’s Day and this seemed like the perfect dessert….but I don’t make cakes! I do however love the traditional flavors of this classic….chocolate, caramel, pecans and coconut. Why not make a sundae? I’m happy to report I no longer need to stress about delivering that cake for special occasions. Randy said that this was the best dessert he had ever eaten!!
German Chocolate Cake Sundae (adapted from Food and Wine)
1 cup unsweetened wide-flake coconut chips (2 ounces)
3/4 cup pecan halves (2 ounces)
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch of sea salt
2 pints coconut ice cream
1 cup coarsely crumbled chocolate wafer cookies
Preheat the oven to 350°. Spread the coconut and pecans in 2 separate pie plates. Toast the coconut for 5 minutes and the pecans for 10 minutes, until the edges of the coconut start to brown and the pecans are fragrant. Let the coconut and pecans cool, then coarsely chop the pecans.
Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, combine the granulated sugar with the light corn syrup and 2 tablespoons of water. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Cook the syrup over moderately high heat without stirring until a deep amber caramel forms, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and carefully add the cream. When the bubbles subside, stir to combine. Add the vanilla and salt and let cool slightly. Stir in the toasted pecans and all but 1/4 cup of the toasted coconut chips.
Scoop the ice cream into 6 glasses and sprinkle with half of the cookie crumbs. Top with the warm caramel sauce and the remaining cookie crumbs and coconut. Serve right away.
The Padron Pepper makes a very short annual appearance. “Padrones” are small green peppers, native to Spain. They have a bitter-sweet flavor however, about one per dozen (so it is said) will set you on fire!! We discovered Padrones while visiting Scott when he was studying in Barcelona. Playing “pepper roulette” was a nightly game. No one got seriously burned. Preparing this healthy snack couldn’t be easier. When nicely charred hold by the stem and pop them in your mouth. Good luck!!
Roasted Padron Peppers
1/2 pound Padron peppers. washed and dried
2 tablespoons olive oil
Place peppers in a medium bowl and add olive oil. Toss to coat, set aside. Heat a non stick pan and cook peppers for 5-6 minutes (stir) until the skins begin to blister. ( You can also use a grill.) Remove and sprinkle with salt.
I’m taking a new twist on a traditional Italian staple, The Caprese Salad. This classic is simplicity at it’s best!!! Mild mozzarella, bright seasonal tomatoes and freshly picked basil are the perfect combination of summer flavors. Make it an appetizer…make it a salad….I’m makin’ it for breakfast!!! Leftover’s from your evening party will turn “Eggs Benedict” into la colazione preferita!
Caprese Eggs Benedict
2 English muffins, toasted
2 eggs, poached (how to make the perfect poached egg)
1 large tomato, sliced
4 ounces (about half one 8-ounce mozzarella ball), sliced
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, lightly packed
Garnish: chives or ribbons of basil
Hollandaise Sauce (adapted from Tyler Florence)
Makes 1 cup (I halved this recipe and thought it was plenty for 2 servings)
4 egg yolks
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice (or a bit more)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted (1 stick)
Vigorously whisk the egg yolks and lemon juice together in a heat tolerant bowl and until the mixture is thickened and doubled in volume. Place the bowl over a saucepan containing barely simmering water (or use a double boiler,) the water should not touch the bottom of the bowl. Continue to whisk rapidly. Be careful not to let the eggs get too hot or they will scramble. Slowly drizzle in the melted butter and continue to whisk until the sauce is thickened and doubled in volume. Remove from heat, whisk in cayenne and salt. Cover and place in a warm spot until ready to use for the eggs Benedict. If the sauce gets too thick, whisk in a few drops of warm water before serving.
Chives or ribbons of basil for garnish
To assemble: Place the fresh basil on top of the toasted English muffin. Top with tomatoes, mozzarella, and poached egg. Salt and pepper to taste. Lightly drizzle the hollandaise sauce over top. Garnish.
I am always looking for a good turkey burger. Be honest…. most turkey burgers will leave you choking for liquids!!! You’re welcome…. the search is over. This recipe had me at chipotle. Apples, celery, garlic and onion all combine for a burger even my husband will eat! His reaction, ”I would order this over any burger.” The ingredients create a healthy alternative that’s moist, has texture and a bit of a kick!! Serve with baked sweet potato chips! Happy grilling!
Chipolte and Apple Turkey Burgers (Slightly adapted by The Sprouted Kitchen)
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
3 green onions, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 pound ground turkey
1 teaspoon chile powder or 1 canned chile in adobo sauce, finely chopped (I like mine spicy so I used 1 1/2 peppers!)
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon of ground pepper
2 tablespoons of fresh chives or thyme leaves
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
2 tablespoons chives, finely chopped
2 tablespoons basil leaves, finely chopped
A healthy squeeze of fresh lime juice
Wheat buns, Butter lettuce, tomato slices, avocado slices, caramalized onions
First make the aioli by mixing together all its ingredients and setting it aside.
Heat olive oil over medium to med-high heat and saute the celery, green onions, and garlic until just browned. Turn off heat and set aside to cool.
Meanwhile grate your apple with a course grater. Combine the apple shreds, ground turkey, chili powder or chipotle chili, salt, pepper, chives, and sautéed mix in a large bowl and fold everything in together. Form into 4 patties.
Heat your grill to med.-high. Cook the burgers until the interior reaches 175F on an instant read thermometer, about 5-7 minutes on each side. Transfer to a plate and cover loosely with foil.
Grill your bun. Spread with aioli and add the toppings.
I like mine on a wheat pita!
Fresh herbs make a wonderful addition to a summer cocktail. Basil adds a savory, sweet note with a peppery edge. Add sliced cucumber, fresh lemon juice and Vodka and you have a refreshing layered cocktail featuring seasonal ingredients. Randy really enjoyed this drink but would prefer Gin. I suggest trying Hendricks. This cucumber infused alcohol enhances the flavor. Garnish with cucumber ribbons basil or mint. Cheers!
Cucumber Basil Vodka Lemonade (Adapted from wearenotmartha)
Makes 3-4 drinks
1 english cucumber
3 cups water
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 cups vodka
1 small bunch basil
1 cup soda water
Start by cutting your cucumber in half. Peel one half and cut it lengthwise. Scoop the seeds out and chop it into pieces. Put the cucumber pieces in a food processor or blender and puree until smooth. Put puree in a fine mesh sieve over a container and push with a wooden spoon or spatula, extracting as much liquid as you can from the cucumber puree. Fill a separate bowl or container with 3 cups water. Squeeze 2 lemons into the water and mix in the sugar. Pour lemon and cucumber juice into a pitcher or serving container. Add vodka. Slice remaining cucumber half (un-peeled) and remaining lemon and add to pitcher. Add basil. Refrigerate until chilled. Serve in a glass or jar with ice. Top with a little soda water for some sparkle and some extra basil if you like.
This Argentinean sauce is a perfect accompaniment to any grilled meat and doubles as a marinade. With all the herbal components just inches from my back door this became an easy companion to my grilled strip steak. (You may want to grow a herb garden to save tons of money on your fresh summer cooking). While this recipe calls for strip steak any cut will work, especially flank steak. Save any extra sauce for burgers, sandwiches or even grilled veggies!
Ramps (or wild leeks) are wild onions that resemble scallions. This spring delicacy is usually compared to a combination of onions and garlic. Asparagus, with its grassy green flavors, and ramps make for an elegant, casual soup. The best part of this creamy soup is that no cream is used. The cayenne pepper gives a great kick and the lime adds a fresh finish. Serve for a lovely first course or with crusty bread for a light lunch.
Asparagus and Ramp Soup (lightly adapted from First Mess)
2 tsp olive oil
12-15 ramps/wild leeks, chopped (or 3 large leeks/white part only)
1 medium waxy potato, peeled and diced
1 bunch of asparagus, cut into 1-2 inch lengths
1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper
Big splash of dry white wine
4-5 cups vegetable stock
1 lime, juiced
Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the chopped white ramp bulbs to the pot (or leeks). Stir and cook until slightly softened. Add the diced potato, asparagus and cayenne. Saute the vegetables for about a minute. Add wine, simmer for a few minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook for a few more minutes.
Add the vegetable stock to the pot. Cover the vegetables by about an inch and bring the mixture to a boil. Simmer the soup until the potatoes are just tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Blend the soup in batches in your blender to puree. Add the lime juice to the pureed soup and stir to combine. Taste for seasoning. To serve, bring the pureed soup to a boil and serve. Garnish with asparagus curls, chives and sour cream (if desired).
Plenty was a highly anticipated cookbook released in 2010 and has become one of my favorites. This recipe with its first-rate ingredients, combines a beautiful array of herbs, cheese and fruit. Pairing creamy buffalo mozzarella (do not substitute) with the interesting flavors of toasted fennel seeds, oregano, basil, garlic and lemon zest, plus juicy ripe (peak-season) tomatoes, creates one of my all time favorite recipes to share with you. Last summer I came upon this recipe at the end of tomato season and waited to post until the markets were once again overflowing with those fresh-off-the-vine fruits. Well here it is… enjoy this appetizer for your summer entertaining.
Marinated Buffalo Mozzarella Salad (adapted from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi)
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, toasted and lightly crushed
grated zest of 1 lemon
15 basil leaves, shredded
2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
1 garlic clove, minced
4 teaspoons best-quality extra virgin olive oil
1 pound buffalo mozzarella
2 ripe tomatoes, cut into wedges (or a handful of cherry tomatoes)
Salt and pepper
Make the marinade by combining the fennel seeds, zest, basil, oregano, garlic and olive oil in a medium bowl or plastic bag. Break the mozzarella into large chunks with your hands and add it the bowl with the marinade. Smear the mozzarella with the marinade until well coated. Set aside to marinate for 30 minutes in the fridge. Serve by arranging mozzarella on a large serving platter, along with marinade. Scatter tomatoes across the platter. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Serve with crusty bread.
Now…while most seafood is available during any season, the highly anticipated soft shell crabs remain seasonal. They are only available from late April thru summer when the Blue Crabs shed their shells in preparation to grow new ones. Harvesting the crab before the hard shell arrives makes every inch of my favorite crustacean edible. These culinary delights are briny yet sweet with a gentle crunch and their unique flavor calls for a simple preparation. In honor of Paul Kahan and his newly crowned James Beard Award for “America’s Most Outstanding Chef,” this is his favorite way to serve these culinary delicacies.
Soft-Shell Crabs with Aioli Sauce and Sweet Onion (from Paul Kahan)
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 small shallot, minced
1 1/4 cups extra-virgin olive oil
1 small Vidalia or other sweet onion, cut into thin rings
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 cups rice flour
8 soft-shell crabs, cleaned and prepped (thank you Diamond Seafood!))
*(See Note): Capers, fried (cook in canola oil for about 5 minutes)
Baguette slices, lightly toasted
In a large bowl, whisk the vinegar with the shallot and 1/2 cup of the olive oil. Add the onion rings, season with salt and pepper and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk the mayonnaise with the lemon zest and juice. Gradually whisk in 1/4 cup of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate the aioli until chilled.
In a large skillet, heat the remaining 1/2 cup of olive oil until shimmering. Spread the rice flour in a shallow bowl. Lightly dust the soft-shell crabs with rice flour and fry over high heat, turning once, until browned and crisp, 6 to 7 minutes. Drain the fried crabs on paper towels and season with salt and pepper.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the marinated onion rings to a serving platter. Top with the fried soft-shell crabs and serve with the lemon aioli.
Panna Cotta is an Italian dessert that literally means “cooked cream.” Requiring only a few ingredients and just minutes to make, this is an easy ending to your meal that will always impress. When Randy heard balsamic vinegar he was a bit skeptical, however, adding a tablespoon of sugar and a touch of pepper softens the flavor while giving it a little kick. He is now a convert! I promise this silky, smooth panna cotta will be your go-to dessert with all its creative options for toppings and plating.
Panna Cotta with Balsamic Strawberries (adapted by Ina Garten)
1 1/2 tablespoons cold water
1/2 packet (1 teaspoon) unflavored gelatin powder
1 1/2 cups heavy cream, divided
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
1/3 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon
2 pints (4 cups) sliced fresh strawberries
2 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated lemon zest, for serving
In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin on 1 1/2 tablespoons of cold water. Stir and set aside for 10 minutes to allow the gelatin to dissolve.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together 3/4 cup of the cream, the yogurt, vanilla extract, and vanilla bean seeds. Heat the remaining 3/4 cup of cream and the 1/3 cup of sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Off the heat, add the softened gelatin to the hot cream and stir to dissolve. Pour the hot cream-gelatin mixture into the cold cream-yogurt mixture and stir to combine. Pour into 4 (6 to 8-ounce) ramekins or glasses and refrigerate uncovered until cold. When the panna cottas are thoroughly chilled, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Combine the strawberries, balsamic vinegar, 1 tablespoon sugar, and pepper 30 minutes to 1 hour before serving. (You don’t want the strawberries to get too soft.) Set aside at room temperature.
To serve, run a small knife around each dessert in the ramkein and dip the bottom of each ramekin quickly in a bowl of hot tap water. Invert each ramekin onto a dessert plate and surround the panna cotta with strawberries. Garnish with mint or shredded basil leaves (delish!) and freshly grated lemon zest (ooops… forgot to zest before the photo, but imagine the how pretty). Serve.
How do you feel about rhubarb? Well…I enjoy the tart flavor and like the idea of paring these vibrant pink stalks with the fragrant herbal notes of rosemary. The woodsiness of the herb cuts the tartness of the rhubarb while the lemon cuts the sweetness. So, if you like rhubarb and you like rosemary, take the leap! Randy votes on mixing the syrup with Rum and making a Mojito. I like the idea of a martini and/or Prosecco. (Since this is my blog…I win!) Of course, for a non-alcoholic version… just add soda water. This cocktail is perfect for the season of bridal showers, baby showers, Sunday brunch or what’s wrong with Tuesday?!!!
Rhubarb Rosemary Martini OR Spritzer (Adapted from Simple Recipes)
Makes about 3 cups
1 pound rhubarb, cleaned, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch slices
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons rosemary leaves, chopped
1/2 cup lemon juice (about 2 lemons), plus more if the syrup is too sweet
Vodka or Gin or Rum (add 2 ounces of gin or vodka, 2 tablespoons of syrup, and a splash of soda as a guide)
Soda water or carbonated water
Place rhubarb pieces, water, sugar, and rosemary leaves into a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes. Rhubarb pieces will disintegrate. Remove from heat. Strain out the solids with a fine mesh strainer. Add lemon juice. If you feel it is too sweet, add a little more lemon juice. Chill until ready to serve. To serve as a martini, fill one-third of the glass with syrup and the rest with vodka or gin. (Then mix in a shaker.) To serve as a spritzer, fill a quarter to a half of the glass with rhubarb syrup, and the rest with soda water. Another idea is to use the syrup and add sparkling wine. Garnish: rosemary sprig and lemon twist.
Honestly, I’m using Cinco de Mayo as an excuse to plate up some spicy fish tacos. This is a healthy entree for your weekday fare using pan-fried fish and a yogurt based sauce. The marinade gives the fish a spicy, smokey flavor but you are quickly cooled down with the tangy avocado sauce. Who needs a holiday for this easy, festive dinner? If you plan on having a fiesta you might want to add a few of these sides to your menu planning. Beans and yellow rice, grilled Mexican corn, guacamole/chips, Mexican chocolate cupcakes……oh, and of course Lime Margaritas and ice-cold Coronas!
Mexican-Style Pickled Onions Adapted from Epicurious
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 cup cider vinegar
1 tsp salt
1 clove garlic
1 tsp oregano
Blanch the onion slices in a large saucepan full of boiling water for 1 minute, then drain.
Return the onions to the pan, along with cider vinegar, salt and add as much cold water as needed to barely cover. Bring to a simmer and cook for 1 minute.
Pour onions and brine into a container. Smash the garlic clove, and add to the container along with the oregano. Chill in the refrigerator for at least a couple of hours before serving.
Pickled onions will keep for several weeks in the refrigerator – they make a great condiment and can also be used on your favorite sandwich or with chicken.
Need a new twist for an old snack idea? Popcorn… healthy popcorn. Who doesn’t love these crunchy, puffed, pieces of goodness? Skip the butter bath and try these ingredients for an outrageous combination of flavors…which are always on hand in my home. Pair these earthy, herbal little kernels with a crisp white wine. Happy… Happy Hour!
Oh, did I mention how healthy this snack is??!! Popcorn: (Air popped), 31 calories per cup, whole grain, fiber, low-fat, heart smart, full of healthy nutrients. Rosemary: phyto-nutrients, anti-oxidants and essential acids. Olive oil: healthy fat, anti-oxidants, Vitamins E and K, Omega 3-6 fatty acids, Lemon Peel: Vitamins C, minerals. Black Pepper: “King of Spice”- Good amount of minerals, Vitamins C, A. Parmesan: even though the cheese is high in fat (this recipe only calls for 1 T), it’s an excellent source of protein, calcium and provides almost all of the essential vitamins and minerals. Salt: Well, we need to limit our intake. SIGN ME UP!!!!!!
Rosemary Parmesan Popcorn (adapted from Taste, Love and Nourish Blog)
1/2 cup popcorn kernels
1 paper lunch bag
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons rosemary leaves, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon sea salt or to taste
Cracked pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon Parmesan, freshly grated
Zest of 1 lemon
In a paper lunch bag, add 1/2 C. popcorn kernels and fold the top of the bag a couple of times. Place in your microwave and cook on high for about 2 minutes and 30-40 seconds. Keep a watchful ear as to not burn the popcorn. While the popcorn is popping, combine the olive oil, rosemary, sea salt and pepper in a small bowl. Place popcorn in serving bowl, drizzle with the olive oil mixture, then grate the Parmesan and the lemon zest over top and mix.
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 cup sugar
2/3 cup good-quality cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Heat the oven to 300 degrees.
Combine the flour, cornstarch, sugar, cocoa, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on low until mixed. Add the butter and mix on low until the mixture starts to come together in small clusters. Spread the crumbs on a parchment covered sheet pan. Bake for 20 minutes. Let the crumbs cool completely before using.
**The following instruction for Chocolate Crust is NOT used for the shooters. Use the crust recipe if you are making a pie.
**Chocolate Crust (makes 1 10-inch pie crust)
3/4 of the chocolate crumb recipe above
2 teaspoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 to 2 tablespoons of melted butter
Break up the chocolate crumbs into a bowl. Add sugar and 1 tablespoon of the melted butter to start. With your hands, knead until it is moist enough to form a ball. If it isn’t moist enough, add another tablespoon of melted butter. Press the crust firmly into the pie plate, making sure the bottom and sides are evenly covered.
2 very ripe bananas
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 egg yolks
2 gelatin sheets (or 1 teaspoon powdered gelatin)
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon yellow food coloring (I did not use food coloring….looks lovely without)
3/4 cup heavy cream (plus more for topping, about 1 cup)
1 cup powdered sugar (I used 3/4 cup)
1 just-ripe (yellow) banana, diced
Additional Whipped cream for topping/slightly sweetened with powdered sugar
Combine the ripe bananas, 1/3 cup heavy cream, and 1/4 cup milk in a blender & puree until totally smooth. Add the next section of ingredients–the sugar, cornstarch, salt, & egg yolks and blend. Pour into a medium saucepan. Clean out the blender. Bloom the gelatin. (To bloom sheet gelatin, soak it in a small bowl of cold water for 2 minutes. Gently squeeze to remove any excess water before using. To bloom powdered gelatin, sprinkle it evenly onto the surface of 2 tablespoons of cold water in a small dish or cup. Allow to soften for 3-5 minutes.)
Whisk the contents of the pan and heat over medium-low heat. As the banana mixture heats up, it will thicken. Bring to a boil and then continue to whisk vigorously for 2 minutes to fully cook out the starch. The mixture will resemble thick glue, bordering on cement, with a color to match. Dump the contents of the pan into the blender. Add the bloomed gelatin and butter and blend until smooth and even. Transfer the mixture to a container & chill in refrigerator for 30-60 minutes or until completely cooled.
Using a whisk or a mixer with a whisk attachment, whip the cream and powdered sugar to medium-soft peaks. Add the cold banana mixture to the whipped cream and slowly whisk til combined. (Stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container, this will stay fresh for up to 5 days.)
To Assemble Shooters: Use a pastry bag. Start with a dollop of banana cream/ diced bananas/banana cream/chocolate crumb. Repeat as many times as your vessel allows. End with whipped cream. Toppings: toasted coconut or chocolate crumb.
Note: I assembled the shooters 4 hours before I left for the party. Make sure you place the diced bananas in between the creme layers so not to brown. Keep in fridge until you serve them.
To Assemble Pie: Pour half the banana cream into the chocolate pie shell. Cover with a layer of sliced banana and then cover that with the remaining filling.
Celebrate the season with strawberries and spinach. This salad may have had its hay-day in the 80′s…but really, it’s timeless. We all need this recipe for our go-to pot luck dinners. Perfect accompaniment with grilled chicken or pork. I’m pairing this with quinoa for a vegetarian/gluten-free option.
Strawberry Spinach Salad
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon red onion, minced
10 ounces baby spinach, rinsed
1 quart of strawberries, rinsed, hulled, sliced
1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
Blue cheese or goat cheese crumbled (optional)
In a medium bowl, whisk together the sesame seeds, poppy seeds, sugar, olive oil, vinegar, paprika, Worcestershire sauce and onions. (This dressing is the star of the recipe!) Cover, and chill for one hour. In a large bowl, combine the spinach, strawberries and almonds. Pour dressing over salad, and toss. Serve immediately. This salad tends to wilt quickly.