Thursday, July 24, 2008

Summer Vegetable Medley

Summer vegetables are sooo delicious. If not for Jim and Phillip, who can't live without meat, I could make a meal of them. This was inspired by a recipe for peas with prosciutto that I really like. I used what I happened to have in the refrigerator, so don't limit yourself. Use what you like. I served this with pork chops that I had sauted in olive oil & then braised with white wine & fresh rosemary. I also served corn salad with basil.

2 tbl olive oil
1/4 cup pancetta or prosciutto, chopped
1/2 large onion, diced in fairly large pieces
handful of baby carrots
1 yellow squash, diced
1 zucchini, diced
1/2 C or so of frozen peas
handful of snow peas, cut in half
1/3 C chicken stock
handful of fresh mint, chopped
Salt & pepper

Saute pancetta or prosciutto in olive oil. Add onion, sprinkle of salt, and saute 1 minutes. Add carrots, sprinkle of salt, and saute 3-4 minutes. Add yellow squash & zucchini, another sprinkle of salt, & saute 2 more minutes. Add chicken stock, cover, and cook on med high until tender. Uncover and add peas & snow peas. Cook 1-2 minutes more. Add mint, taste and add pepper & more salt if needed.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Pina Colada Pie

This is a great, easy summer dessert. I made it for dinner with some friends last weekend and it was a big hit. This recipe came from Epicurious.com, but I've suggested some changes. This recipe is big--it makes a 10" pie. If you only have an 8" pie plate, just cut everything back by about a 1/8.

Crust:
1 7-oz jar roasted macademia nuts (I substituted roasted almonds)
3/4 Cup sweetened shredded coconut
3 Tbl brown sugar
1 Tbl butter, melted

Filling:
1 1/2 pints pineapple sorbet, softened
1/2-1 cup fresh pineapple, chopped or canned pineapple tidbits, drained

1 cup caramel sauce
4 tsp dark rum
1/2 tsp coconut extract
3/4 Cups (packed) sweetened shredded coconut
2 pints vanilla frozen yogurt, softened

Garnish:
1/2 large pineapple, trimmed,cored, thinly sliced
Toasted sweetened, shredded coconut
Fresh mint sprigs

For Crust: Preheat oven to 350. Finely chop 1st 3 ingredients in processor. Add butter & blend. Press mixture firmly onto bottom & sides of pie plate. Freeze 10 minutes. (I omitted this step) Bake until golden brown--about 15 minutes. Freeze 20 minutes.

For Filling: Mix pineapple into sorbet & spread in crust; smooth top & freeze.

Mix caramel sauce with rum, extract, & 3/4 cup coconut. Add frozen yogurt & fold in until blended. Taste-- I added another 1/8 tsp coconut extract & more rum. Spoon over sorbet in pie plate. Cover & freeze. (I finished this about 2:00 pm and served it at 9:00pm that night.)

Decorate pie with pineapple slices; sprinkle with coconut & garnish with mint.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Quick Black Bean and Rice Salad

This is a quick and easy vegetarian meal.

Serves 3-4 as a main course

1 Cup rice, cooked (you will have about 2 cups of cooked rice)
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 Cup frozen corn, defrosted (optional)
1 can black beans, drained (preferably seasoned w/ jalapeno)
1 chopped tomato
1/2 chopped red onion
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Salt & pepper to taste
Salsa (I like Pace Picante Sauce, but use what you like)

Cook the rice and when it's done, but still hot, add the garlic. Mix and add the corn and beans. Add the tomato, red onion, and cilantro. Mix all together, taste, and correct seasonings. Divide between 3 dishes and top with salsa.

Panzanella (Italian Bread Salad)

I love this salad. I first ate it in Florence and it's a brilliant way to use up leftover French bread. Serve it with grilled meat or chicken, and you have a complete meal. Don't get hung up on the proportions here. It won't matter if you use more or less of any ingredient. Make it according to your taste.

If you make this ahead, you might want to reserve the basil and add just before serving. It will turn dark otherwise. It doesn't affect the flavor, but it's prettier when the basil is bright green.

Serves 6

6 slices leftover French or Italian bread, cubed
1 tomato, chopped
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, halved lengthwise and sliced
1/2 red onion, sliced thinly
1 tbl capers
Big handful of fresh basil, chopped coursely
1 garlic clove, chopped finely
salt & pepper to taste
1/4 Cup Balsamic vinegar
1/4-1/3 Cup extra virgin olive oil

Place bread in a bowl and dampen with some water (just a sprinkling, depending on how dry your bread is). Add all remaining ingredients, mix, correct seasonings and serve.

Rosemary & Garlic Grilled Pork Tenderloin

I made this last night for dinner with the Stevens. I served this with roasted asparagus and pazanella salad. It was a delicious and easy summer dinner. I didn't have to turn on a burner or oven inside, and there were no pots or pans to clean up. What more can you ask?

Serves 6

2 pork tenderloins
Marinade/Sauce:
1/3 C balsamic vinegar
1/3 C olive oil
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbl fresh rosemary, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

Cut the pork tenderloins on the bias into slices about 1 1/2 inches thick. Mix all the marinade ingredients; reserve 1/3 cup for sauce. Place the meat & remaining marinade in a ziplock bag and allow to marinate for 4 or more hours in the refrigerator. About 1 hour before grilling, remove from the fridge and allow the meat to come to room temperature. On a hot grill, cook meat about 3 minutes on each side. I think this is best still slightly pink. Remove to a platter and pour reserved marinade over the meat. Garnish with fresh rosemary.

Friday, July 11, 2008

How to peel & slice an avocado

To peel & slice an avocado: Cut the avocado in half by sliding your knife in until it meets the seed. Then rotate the avocado around your knife, using the seed as the pivot point. Grasp the avocado in 2 hands, slightly turn each half, and pull apart. Remove the seed by chopping into it with your knife (not too far), twist and remove the seed. Discard the seed. Hold one half in your hand and slice the meat into the desired shapes being careful not to slice through the skin (and your hand). Using a large soup spoon, scoop the meat of the avocado out of the skin. If not using right away, place slices in a bowl and cover with something acidic--lime juice, orange juice, vinegar, etc.

My favorite summer salad

Right now my favorite summer salad is a new version of an old favorite--spinach, red onion, and canned mandarin oranges with a poppy seed dressing. This salad is particularly good with spicy foods. It cools everything down. Long ago, I began substituting fresh oranges for the canned, and using strawberries when they came into season. Now that summer is in full swing and peaches are juicy and delicious, I've started making the salad with peaches--Fabulous! If you want to cut your peaches and avocados ahead, pour some orange juice over them to keep them from turning brown. The dressing that I've been using is this: approximately 1/4 cup orange juice, 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar, 1/2 tsp dijon mustard, 1/4 tsp salt, fresh ground black pepper, 1 tsp thyme, 1 tbl sugar, 1/4 cup olive oil. Mix all together, taste & correct seasonings. Use soft greens like bibb lettuce if you have it, but any lettuce will do. Peel and slice a peach (It's easiest to peel if you plunge it into boiling water for 10-15 seconds). Peel and slice an avocado*. Cut a red onion in half and slice thin half moons.

*To peel & slice an avocado: Cut the avocado in half by sliding your knife in until it meets the seed. Then rotate the avocado around your knife, using the seed as the pivot point. Grasp the avocado in 2 hands, slightly turn each half, and pull apart. Remove the seed by chopping into it with your knife (not too far), twist and remove the seed. Discard the seed. Hold one half in your hand and slice the meat into the desired shapes being careful not to slice through the skin (and your hand). Using a large soup spoon, scoop the meat of the avocado out of the skin. If not using right away, place slices in a bowl and cover with something acidic--lime juice, orange juice, vinegar, etc.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Chicken Parmesean

I made this last night, and your dad loved it. It was quick and relatively easy. If you had a good bottled marinara sauce it would be even simpler. I used fresh herbs because it's summer, and they're growing in my garden. In the winter you could use dried herbs, but use about 1 tsp basil & 1/2 tsp oregano.

I served this with bread and a salad, but it would also be good w/ pasta.

4 boneless chicken breasts, seasoned w/ salt, pepper, & garlic powder or fresh garlic
1/2 cup or more Italian bread crumbs, seasoned with salt & pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano (1/2 for bread crumbs, 1/2 for topping)
3+ tbl olive oil

Marinara:
1 tbl olive oil
1 crushed garlic clove
1/4 cup onion
1 can chopped tomatoes, pureed
salt & pepper to taste
handful of fresh basil, chopped
leaves from 1 sprig fresh oregano, chopped

For the marinara: Saute onion & garlic in olive oil. Add pureed tomatoes and cook til thick-about 15 minutes. Season w/ salt & pepper. Remove from heat and add fresh herbs.

For the chicken: Season the bread crumbs w/ salt & pepper, and add 1/4 cup Parmigiano & mix.
Rub chicken with garlic & season with salt & pepper. Heat olive oil in a nonstick pan over medium high heat. Dredge chicken lightly in bread crumbs and pan fry 5 minutes on each side.

Remove chicken from pan and place on plate. Top with a spoonful of marinara & some parmigiano. Serve immediately.