Saturday, June 26, 2010

Gazpacho

To me, nothing says summer better than gazpacho. Cold, refreshing, light and no oven required. I make this recipe multiple times during the warmer months and have fond memories of sharing this cold soup with friends and neighbors. It's summer in a bowl. This is yet another fabulous Ina Garten recipe so you know it's good. As Ina would gently say, be sure not to overprocess the veggies or you'll just have mush.

Gazpacho

1 hothouse cucumber, halved and seeded, but not peeled
2 red bell peppers, cored and seeded (feel free to use yellow or orange pepper too!)
4 plum tomatoes
1 red onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
23 ounces tomato juice (3 cups) (I use spicy V8 sometimes!)
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup good olive oil
1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

Roughly chop the cucumbers, bell peppers, tomatoes, and red onions into 1-inch cubes. Put each vegetable separately into a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until it is coarsely chopped. Do not overprocess!


After each vegetable is processed, combine them in a large bowl and add the garlic, tomato juice, vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Mix well and chill (for several hours) before serving. The longer gazpacho sits, the better it will get. Now stash in the fridge and enjoy a bowl whenever you need a refreshing pick me up!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Campfire Foil Dinner


I once said that the only way I'd camp is if it said "Hilton" over my head. Bugs, heat, public bathrooms, smelly tents...need I say more? Well, despite my complaining I have ended up taking an annual camping trip with a great group of friends and have come to enjoy a few uncomfortable nights in the great outdoors. Of course, a few beers and laughs can make up for a few bugs! We all take turns with meals and this time-honored Girl Scout recipe would be a fun casual meal. It's perfect to make over an open fire or even on a grill. It's not fancy but fun, just like camping!

I've also made this at home (oven) when I need a sure fire hit with the kids.

Polish Sausage Foil Dinner

recipe makes one serving packet so multiple as needed...

1 cup frozen loose-pack diced hash brown potatoes with onions/peppers (O'Brien style)
3 oz. sliced smoked sausage (can use turkey polish sausage too)
1 Tbls. Italian dressing
2 - 3 Tbls. shredded cheddar cheese
optional - various veggies - pepper strips, mushrooms, jalapenos, squash - you get the idea...

Tear off a 24x12-inch piece of heavy foil and fold in half to make 12x12 square. Place potatoes and sausage in center of foil, drizzle with Italian dressing. Bring up two opposite edges of foil; seal with double fold and seal remaining edges. Basically making a sealed pouch with some room for steam. Grill packet on grill rack or directly over medium coals for about 15 minutes, turning once. Open packet and sprinkle with cheese. Reseal and let sit five few minutes until cheese melts. Serve in pouch with a cold beer and have the bug spray handy!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Agave Salmon with Citrus Salsa


Salmon is the new chicken of our house. My youngest daughter would eat it everyday and typically eats more than any of us on nights when I serve salmon. So I was looking for a few different ways to prepare it that were not too time consuming but were a little different. I had recently come across this recipe and was intrigued by the use of agave. A natural sweetener that seems to be everywhere. So I picked up my first bottle last weekend with this recipe in mind. Fresh, sweet and light, this will become a dish we serve all summer.


Salsa:
2 large oranges
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 scallions, finely sliced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed, drained and coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons orange zest
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (I used a couple of drops of hot sauce in place of red pepper flakes)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Salmon:
Vegetable or canola oil, for oiling the grill
4 (4 to 5-ounce) center cut salmon fillets, skinned, each about 3-inches square
2 tablespoons amber agave nectar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the salsa: Peel and trim the ends from each orange. Using a paring knife, cut along the membrane on both sides of each segment. Free the segments and add them to a medium bowl. Add the olive oil, lemon juice, parsley, scallions, mint, capers, orange zest, lemon zest, and hot sauce and olive oil. Toss lightly and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Set aside.

For the salmon: Put a grill pan over medium-high heat or preheat a gas or charcoal grill. Brush the grilling rack with vegetable oil to keep the salmon from sticking. Brush the salmon on both sides with the agave nectar and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Grill until the fish flakes easily and is cooked through, about 4 to 5 minutes on each side. Transfer the salmon to a platter and allow to rest for 5 minutes.

Spoon the salsa on top of the salmon or serve on the side as an accompaniment. Serve with some herbed couscous and consider yourself very chefy!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Mexican Street Corn



True summer corn is not ready yet but keep this gem on your fridge because when fresh farmer's corn is abundant, this is a fun way to doctor up plain corn. It's Olivia's number one request all summer long and living in Ohio, my kids have been gnawing on corn cobs since they were babies so corn is big in our house. I have seen corn-on-the-cob cooked in a myriad of ways and I'm always amazed to learn of various time-honered family techniques. Choose whatever cooking method suits you. I will not judge.

Mexican Street Corn

sweet corn, - as many as you like but the recipe covers about 4 cobs well.

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 lime, quartered
Optional - finely grated Parmesan cheese/queso cotija, shredded/or crumbled feta

Cook corn however you see fit. Boil, grill, whatever. Mix together mayonnaise, chili powder, garlic salt, and black pepper. Remove corn from grill and brush with the mayonnaise mixture. Serve with lime quarters to squeeze over corn and fell free to sprinkle with cheese of choice. Serve warm and drippy with plenty of napkins.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Baked Lemon Pasta

I'm torn. I've been debating on whether to post this pasta recipe because I cannot decide how to best serve it. I've baked it where you get lovely crispy bits. Served it before baking so it's creamy and rich and even eaten it cold. Still good but not my preferred method. I guess it's a versatile little number, huh? In any case, use lots of lemon zest to cut the richness of the sour cream. I tend to serve this as a side with something light. Last night it made a guest appearance next to salmon. Very nice indeed!

Baked Lemon Pasta

1 pound Thin Spaghetti
4 Tablespoons Salted Butter
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 cloves Garlic, Minced
1 whole Lemon, Juiced And Zested (could even use two for extra punch!)
2 cups Sour Cream (I've used much less at times and opted for reduced fat)
½ teaspoons Kosher Salt, Or More To Taste
Plenty Of Grated Parmesan Cheese
Flat-leaf Parsley, Chopped
Extra Lemon Juice


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cook spaghetti until al dente.

In a skillet, melt butter with olive oil over LOW HEAT. When butter is melted, add minced garlic. Squeeze lemon juice into the pan. Turn off heat.

Add sour cream and stir mixture together. Add lemon zest and salt. Taste, then add more salt if necessary. Pour mixture over drained spaghetti and stir together, then pour spaghetti into an oven safe dish. If you like the pasta very creamy, go ahead and dig in now. For the baked version keep reading...

Bake, covered, for 15 minutes. Then remove foil and bake for an additional 7 to 10 minutes. (Don’t bake too long or the pasta will dry out too much.)

When you remove it from the oven, squeeze a little more lemon juice over the top. Top generously with Parmesan cheese, then chopped parsley. Give it a final squeeze of lemon juice at the end.