Sunday, August 28, 2011

Arugula and Blueberry Salad with Lemon Poppy Seed Dressing

This simple salad comes together in just a few minutes. I like the way the sweetness of blueberries plays off the peppery arugula. A tangy dressing holds it all together.

Lemon Poppy Seed Dressing
1/8 cup lemon juice
¼ cup olive oil
½ teaspoon poppy seeds
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoon honey

Whisk all ingredients in small bowl until emulsified.

2 cups arugula
2 cups spinach
½ cup blueberries
1/3 cup toasted nuts – I like to use pecans or almonds

Place ingredients in large bowl and toss with the lemon poppy seed dressing.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Mango Cucumber Salad

I just love the way the cucumbers and mangoes look in this salad. The green and orange look so summery and playful. The addition of lavender syrup provides a fragrant boost of flavor.

Lavender Syrup
½ cup water
1/8 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lavender

Bring all ingredients to a boil in small pan over high heat. When sugar is dissolved, strain and cool.

2 mangos, diced
½ cucumber, shredded
3-4 tablespoons of lavender syrup

Mix mangos and cucumber with three to four tablespoons of the lavender syrup.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Summer Vegetable Toss

This vegetable toss is super simple and lets late summer vegetables shine. Because the emphasis is on the produce, it is important to get the best possible ingredients. A local farmer’s market is likely to have the juicy, vine-ripened tomatoes and sweet ears of corn that make this dish pop.

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3 ears corn, husked and kernels cut off
2 cups chopped tomatoes
1 small zucchini, shredded
3 scallions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
1 cup chopped parsley
1 lemon wedge

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the corn, tomatoes, and zucchini shreds and sauté for a minute. Add the scallions, garlic, salt and pepper, and cook for about 4 more minutes or until the corn is cooked through. Throw in the parsley and stir. Drizzle lemon juice over the vegetables.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Mushroom Risotto

This creamy rice dish is infused with the earthy flavor of mushrooms and enhanced with fresh herbs and a handful of sweet peas. The combination of dried and fresh mushrooms packs a warm, savory punch. I like to cook the cremini mushrooms before starting the risotto. Giving the mushrooms room to brown in a large sauté pan allows these guys to achieve maximum flavor. Top off the finished risotto with a sprinkling of Asiago cheese and you are good to go.

8 ounces cremini mushrooms, chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
dash of salt
dash of pepper
dash of oregano
6 cups chicken broth
1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
1/4 cup unsalted butter
2 shallots, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups Arborio or medium-grain rice
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
salt and pepper to taste
Asiago cheese, for serving

Melt the butter and olive oil in a large sauté pan over high heat. Once the butter has melted and the bubbles in the mixture have started to subside, add the chopped mushrooms. Stir continuously, allowing the mushrooms to absorb the butter and oil mixture. After a few minutes, once the mushrooms have begun to brown and release their juices, take off heat.

Simmer the chicken broth with the dried porcinis for 20 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the dried mushrooms and finely chop. Keep the chicken broth warm over low heat. In a large pan, melt the butter and sauté the shallots until soft. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Stir in the rice. Add the wine, stirring often, until the rice absorbs the liquid. Add a ladleful of the hot broth (about ¾ of a cup) to the rice. Stir the rice constantly until the rice absorbs the broth. Repeat until the rice is cooked and the mixture is creamy. Stir in the frozen peas, parsley and thyme. Once the peas are cooked, adjust the salt and pepper levels. Serve with a sprinkling of Asiago cheese.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Salt and Pepper Shrimp (Tom Rang Muoi)

This intense, flavor-packed, Vietnamese classic was actually introduced to me at a popular night spot in New York’s Chinatown.  Judging by the hour long wait outside with a throng of hungry locals, I figured the food must be pretty good.  My brother told me we had to get their specialty, salt and pepper prawns with the head on.  It was so delicious, it has stuck with me ever since, and spawned a mild obsession to recreate it.  These shrimp are meant to be eaten whole, body, shell, head, everything.  More often than not, they are deep fried, but after trying it both ways, we actually prefer pan frying them in less oil.

1 lb “head on” shrimp (in shell with head attached)
1/8-1/4 cup cornstarch – enough to lightly coat shrimp
2 tbs peanut oil for sautéing
¼ cup minced onion
1 ½ tablespoons minced jalapeno
10 garlic cloves, pressed
1 tablespoon minced ginger
3 finely chopped scallions
½ tsp kosher salt
½ tsp freshly cracked pepper

To prepare shrimp, cut off long whiskers and sharp point on the top of the head using kitchen shears.  Put cornstarch in a bowl and roll each shrimp in the cornstarch, brushing off clumps, so that each shrimp is coated lightly and evenly.

Heat peanut oil in skillet on medium high.  Once the oil is hot, add shrimp and sauté on each side until red and golden, about 2 minutes per side.  Remove and place on paper towel.

Using separate skillet, or same skillet scraped out, heat a bit of oil on medium.  Add onion, garlic, and ginger and stir until fragrant and slightly soft.  Add jalapeno, scallion, and shrimp, and stir for 30 seconds while sprinkling most of salt and pepper on each side of shrimp.  Serve and sprinkle remaining salt and pepper on top.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Mixed Berry Scones with Lemon Glaze

Put those summer berries to good use! These scones are chock full of plump fresh berries and coated with a sweet lemon glaze. I love taking one of these scones and a tall glass of iced tea outside with me and just basking in the afternoon sunshine.

2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
1 cup whipping cream + 1 tablespoon, plus more for brushing on scones
¾ cup fresh blueberries
¾ cup chopped fresh strawberries
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk
3 tablespoons lemon juice

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Whisk 2 cups flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in bowl. Use a fork or pastry blender to fold in the butter chunks. The mixture should resemble coarse crumble. Make a well in the flour mixture and pour 1 cup and 1 tablespoon of cream. In a small bowl, coat the blueberries and strawberries with 1 tablespoon flour. Very carefully fold the berries into the scone batter, you don’t want too many berries to burst and discolor the batter. Place dough  onto a lightly floured surface and form into a circle about 1 inch thick, then run a knife through the dough to form 8 wedges. Alternatively, you can cut out small circles from the dough. Place on baking sheet and brush with some more cream. Bake for about 20 minutes, until it has cooked through and the top is golden brown. To make the glaze, whisk powdered sugar, milk, and lemon juice until the mixture has come together. Let cool for just a few minutes and then brush with glaze.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Homemade Popcorn

We have lived many years without tasting the amazingness that is homemade popcorn.  Jenn was actually convinced she didn’t like popcorn.  Eventually, we got around to making some old fashioned popcorn, cooked on the stove and popped in a big ol pot.  Now even Jenn is hooked on it.  It’s all about having total control of the spices, herbs, and melty stuff you mix in.  When making it on the stove is so easy, economical, and delicious, we can’t understand why anyone would buy special gadgets or microwave bags.  Here is one of our favorite versions.  Popcorn, oh yea!  

1/8 cup corn oil – or enough to coat the bottom of the pot you are using
¼ cup popcorn kernels
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese, grated
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon seasoned salt – we like using Johnny’s seasoning salt
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add three kernels of popcorn and cover pot with lid.  Once those have popped, add the ¼ cup of kernels.  Shake the pot frequently.  Once the popping has stopped, turn off heat, add the butter, cheese, and seasonings, and stir well to mix.  That's it.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Strawberry Kiwi Salad

Summer heat calls for something light and refreshing. This salad fits the bill with its simple blend of sweet and sour flavors. Juicy slices of strawberry and kiwifruit are dressed with tangy lime juice and fresh basil. The perfect treat for a hot summer day!

1 quart strawberries, hulled and sliced
3 kiwifruits, peeled and sliced
2 tablespoons chopped basil
zest and juice from 1 lime

Mix strawberries and kiwi slices in a medium bowl. In a small bowl, whisk lime juice, lime zest, and basil. Pour lime and basil mixture over fruit and toss.

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