Friday, August 31, 2012

Cedar Planked Salmon with Artichokes, Olives, Sun Dried Tomatoes & Roasted Red Peppers

Time is flying by and it's hard to believe that Labor Day is this Monday, it's the last unofficial weekend of summer. I know there will still be hot days (I hope) left and I have yet to go down the shore! I love it after the season, when the boardwalk is almost empty and the feeling of fall is in the air. Labor Day is always a little bittersweet but this meal will help the transition. ;) Enjoy this meal by candlelight, while relaxing outdoors as a late summer breeze passes by, as you savor the last bits of summertime. This is enough for 2 to 3 people to share. Have a great weekend and Labor Day! :)

  • 1 pound salmon, skin left on, in one piece
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 olive oil plus more for drizzling
  • 1/2 cup marinated artichoke halves, *rinsed if needed
  • about 6 sun dried tomato halves, ripped into pieces
  • 1 heaping tablespoon pitted oil cured olives
  • 2 large garlic cloves, crushed and roughly minced
  • 2 tablespoons roughly chopped fire roasted red pepper plus about about 1 pepper, cut into halves, about 3-4 pieces
  • a few leaves rosemary leaves, minced
  • fresh ground pepper
  • sea salt
  • (1) 11x7 cedar plank, (one that will fit the salmon, usually they have them by the seafood dept)

To start, soak your cedar plank for over an hour. In the meantime, melt the butter and olive oil on low heat and add the garlic. Saute until the garlic is soft, add in the artichokes, olives, sun dried tomatoes, 2 tablespoons of the red pepper and a few rosemary leaves minced, season with sea salt and ground black pepper. Saute for about 5 minutes until heated through and set aside, keeping them warm.  Heat up your grill to about 550 degrees, place your plank on the grill for about 3 minutes, pull it off and flip the plank. Drizzle a little olive oil on the grilled side and place your red pepper halves on it. On top of the red pepper place your salmon, skin side down and drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Place on the grill and grill for about 8 minutes. Keep an eye on it, as mine began to burn, so definitely keep a spray bottle nearby!    Please wear gloves to protect your hands and handle with a sturdy pair of tongs. The cooking time really depends on the thickness of the fish, so test with a fork to check for doneness. After the 8 minutes, top with half of the veggies and grill for another 7 minutes or so, keeping an eye on it. Once it's done, add the rest of the veggies on top.

I served the salmon with corn grits but buttered garlicky orzo or polenta would be great with this also. To make the corn grits you need:

  • 1/2 cup stone ground white corn grits
  • 1 cup chicken stock, *water works fine
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter  
  • sea salt 
  • fresh ground pepper
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • minced fresh rosemary leaves

Bring the chicken stock, water, butter and sea salt to a boil on high heat. Slowly add in the grits and lower the heat stirring often, for about 8 minutes. The recommended cooking time is 15-20 minutes but found they cooked quickly, so test them. Once they are to your liking, add in the heavy cream, ground pepper and a few minced leaves of rosemary. Garnish with fresh rosemary leaves. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Open Kitchen Cabinet for Pots & Pans

So my pots and pots were all crammed in the oven. (I hope I'm not the only one guilty of this, lol) And I love my pots, some gifts, some great garage sale finds and some more serious investments. It wasn't fun trying to bake something like a lasagna, pulling them in and out of the oven. So if you are using the oven as your storage space and you love your cookware, it's time to release them from their dungeon! When my hubby suggested that we take the doors off of one of the cabinets, so the pots could go there, it took a while for it to settle in and for me to see it feasible. I was just so used to the routine and I didn't think I had the room but once I went through the cabinets, reorganized and simplified, I saw that it was possible. How many mugs do two people and a dog really need? (lol) Lastly once you have your open space, have fun with it. Did your grandma leave you her Pyrex set? It would look great out and practical to use as the same time. Any "fillers" in between the pots and pans could be anything from glass stacking bowls, small vintage vases with dried flowers, canister sets or wood cutting boards stacked one on top of the other or any mix of them all. Play with your pots and pans to maximize the space and have what you use most readily available. Another idea for your open cabinet is wallpapering the background. This looks especially great if you are working with a monochromatic theme. A great site for vintage wall paper is So many fun prints to choose from. Have fun remixing those cabinets! I've gotta go bake something now that the oven is finally empty! ;)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Rigatoni & Asparagus with Lemon Ricotta Cream

Over easy eggs can finish a meal like nothing else. And this creamy and lemony pasta dish is complete once it's topped with a silky smooth, over easy egg. Once the yolk breaks over the dish and falls into the tiny crevices of the rigatoni, there is nothing more you need! The best part of this dish, it's so quick to put together! This is great in a pinch for dinner but I think it would be nice served for brunch also. This serves 3-4 people.

  • 1/2 pound rigatoni, cooked al dente
  • 1/2 pound asparagus, trimmed to the length of the rigatoni and blanched
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 4 tablespoons heavy cream
  • freshly grated nutmeg, just a touch
  • fresh ground pepper
  • sea salt
  • 3-4 eggs
  • 3-4 pats unsalted butter

When I cooked my rigatoni, about half way through I threw in the asparagus but if you are unsure of times, you can cook it separately. (Anything to avoid more dishes, lol) Combine the ricotta cheese, heavy cream, lemon zest, juice, nutmeg, salt and fresh ground pepper until well combined. Into the lemon ricotta cream, pour in the rigatoni and toss  gently until each piece of rigatoni is coated. Top each serving with an over easy egg cooked in butter and pass around the freshly ground pepper. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Grilled Dried Peaches over Rosemary Ricotta

I wish I was the type of person that revelled in dessert making. Getting lost in that creative process that ends with a sweet reward. Pies from scratch, cupcakes freshly frosted and cookies cooling are never in my kitchen. All of my effort is given to making the main meal. I've made a cheese cake, once, being the first and last time. It had a crack that ran so deep, my soul went into it with all hopes of making a cheesecake ever again, lol. And with inspiration taken from my Atkins dieting days where ricotta cheese and a zero calorie sweetener was such a treat, this recipe was born. It's like eating a piece of creamy peach cheesecake, without all of the effort. And the touch of rosemary is nice because it makes it more earthy and a little savory but you can always go without if you are not a fan. Serves 2.

  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • a few rosemary leaves, minced *optional
  • 2 dried white peach halves* Trader Joes carries them and I store them in the freezer, great for a mid-winter snack when peaches feel far far away!
  • non-stick cooking spray

Soak the peach halves in water for about 45 minutes. Heat up your grill and spray your peaches and grill for a few minutes on each side. Grill them until you have some nice grill marks. You really have to watch them because they can easily burn. Pull them off when they are ready and let them cool a bit. Once they are cool enough to handle, cut them into strips, cubes would be great also. Combine the ricotta, honey, extract and rosemary. Garnish your ricotta with the peaches and some minced rosemary. Enjoy!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Spaghetti with Arugula & Potato Pesto

Arugula, one of my favorite bitter greens. I love simple arugula salads with sweet tomatoes, a few oil cured olives, a little ricotta cheese, topped with a drizzle of olive oil and fresh ground pepper. I even like it with my turkey burger. But there are times that arugulas' strong bite can be overwhelming and I want a more of a mellowed out arugula flavor and that's where this arugula and potato "pesto" comes in. This is great to use up any arugula that you may have lingering in that rectangular plastic container. The potato takes the arugulas' edge off and gives the pasta a nice creaminess, without heavy cream. This is a quick meal to make on a hurried night. This makes 3 servings.

  • 1/2 pound spaghetti cooked al dente
  • 1 medium size potato, peeled, quartered and cooked until fork tender
  • 1 cup tightly packed baby arugula, trimmed of stems
  • 3 tablespoons fresh parsley
  • 1 clove of garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 heaping teaspoon raw walnuts plus more for garnish
  • 1 heaping tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese plus more for garnish
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • fresh ground pepper
  • sea salt

In a deep bowl, combine the arugula, parsley, garlic, walnuts, cheese and olive oil with a hand blender. Season with fresh ground pepper and sea salt to taste. Add more garlic if you like. Once your potato is cooked though, break it up with a fork until the potato is about pea size. I let it cool a little before I broke it up. Lightly toss the spaghetti, pesto and potato together until well combined. The potato, once tossed with the spaghetti and pesto will break down a little. I didn't toss it too much because I kinda enjoy the little bits of potato swirled around with the spaghetti especially when combined with the walnuts pieces and grated cheese. Enjoy!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Checkerboard Tomato, Mozzarella & Ricotta Cheese Salad

One of the best things about summer are ripe juicy thin skinned tomatoes. end-of-the-summer-delicious when combined with mozzarella, ricotta cheese, basil and topped with a good extra virgin olive oil, freshly ground pepper and a good crunchy salt like Maldon. I like to serve this with a nice bread, extra olive oil, salt and pepper on the side. And if you want a little extra kick, you can serve a nice balsamic vinegar on the side also. I think this is a nice spin on a traditional Caprese salad and doesn't take much more effort. If you want, you can always omit the ricotta cheese and throw in more Ciliegine. This serves 2, so double and triple as needed. Enjoy and have a great weekend! :)

  • 9 cherry size tomatoes, halved
  • about 6oz. ricotta cheese
  • about 1/2 a 8oz. container Ciliegine mozzarella, left whole
  • a few basil leaves, minced
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • fresh ground pepper
  • sea salt

This recipe is for the amount pictured so it can give you an idea of how much this makes. This is would be great for a party! I used a 1&1/4 inch cookie dough scoop to form the ricotta cheese balls. Once you are ready to scoop, alternate the rows between tomato and Ciliegine and tomato and ricotta cheese. Sprinkle the basil over the mozzarella and ricotta cheese. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and ground pepper. Serve at room temperature.

*If you have any ricotta left over, June 25ths' post, "String Beans & Pennoni" is a great way to use it up. ;)
You can check it out here at:

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Persian Shield Plant

Ahhh...the end of summer in the garden, a little sad, a little sweet. Autumn is such a nice reflective time of year. The lawn will be full of fallen leaves soon, deep golds and reds, laying on the lawn like jewels when the sun hits them just right. The perennials will recoil back into the depths of the earth to hibernate, as people do the same in some way, as the weather cools. As I looked over the little garden and the all weeding that I have to do, (and have been avoiding, lol) the one plant that was a victorious success was the "Persian Shield". Out of a small four inch pot, she grew into a majestic feast for the eyes, quadrupling in size. And she looks like she isn't going anywhere and will stick around into the early fall. Lush violet purple leaves with depths of hunter green that turn silver in different light. She is beautiful on her own but stands out even more when combined with "Creeping Jenny", (you can check out June 6ths' post for more about her) and "Dusty Millers", the contrast is stunning. As the mums come out and the leaves fall, I'm making a list on what to bring into the garden, come next spring and this beauty is on the list!

Persian Shield also known as 'Strobilanthes Dyerianus'
"Persian Shield" is an annual and she requires part sun, about 4-6 hours. She doesn't grow any flowers but she does not disappoint, as her leaves are so stunning and get prettier as they grow larger. She needs a spacing of 36-48" and I see that she truly does not disappoint. Give your "Persian Shield" good amended soil and she will be a happy girl. I didn't have to do anything to this beauty except watch her grow.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Enoki Mushroom Risotto

The two things you need, besides the ingredient list when making risotto is a wooden spoon and a glass of nice white wine. The two are essential to really enjoy the risotto making process. The wooden spoon, because I can't imagine, in Italy, they would use anything else to stir the risotto with and the wine to help ease the pain of your shoulders as you stir, stir and stir and to get you in a risotto making mood. I was transported to Italy, while making my risotto, wearing an apron, singing out a few words in Italian. But it got old fast, as my accent was terrible but it did give me a good laugh! You gotta try it, it will naturally come, after the glass of wine. ;)

  • 1/2 cup arborio rice
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 1 cup chopped enoki mushroom, about 3oz will be enough to make a cupful, *you can use any other kind of mushroom that you would like, just cut them fine and fully cook before putting it into the risotto.
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter plus a pat
  • 2 porcini mushroom bouillon cubes
  • 2 cups water, boiled
  • 3/4 cup Moscato wine
  • a pinch of ground sage

In a pan, melt a pat of butter and add in the chopped enoki mushrooms, I chopped them to be about the size of a grain of rice. Saute for a minute of two until lightly browned, they cook quickly and set aside. Make your porcini broth by dissolving the bouillon cubes in the water. Use a bouillon brand that is so fragrant that when you smell the box, all you get is a beautiful perfume of  porcini mushrooms. This recipe used 1 3/4 cups of the broth, you can save the remaining 1/4 cup to add to a soup, to cook vegetables in or to add to a stew. In a heavy pot, like a Dutch oven, combine one tablespoon unsalted butter and the shallot on low heat. Saute until the shallot is softened, add in the arborio rice and let it ever so lightly brown. This is where the beauty of making risotto comes in adding in the liquids a little at a time and stirring constantly, coaxing the rice to absorb the liquid, while it releases the starches to a thick and creamy rice dish, that is so satisfying you can just eat it with a spoon and be content. Little by little, add in the porcini broth, about an 1/8th of a cup, stirring constantly until the broth is absorbed and then add in more as it gets absorbed. Add in the Moscato wine in the same manner until absorbed. The whole process takes about 45 minutes. Once your risotto is almost done, add in your last bit of liquid, the enoki mushroom, sage and the last tablespoon of unsalted butter and stir until the absorbed. This makes 2 servings, just double the recipe as needed. Serve nice and hot and if you want, you can serve this with grilled asparagus and portabella mushrooms. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Medicine Cabinet

A few words of advice for garage sale shopping are number one: never leave your house, without cash in your wallet and number two: only buy what you absolutely love, love, love, even if at the time, it doesn't make sense. Number one, I learned the hard way as I had to leave a few good things behind as I realized I left my money at home and plastic was not going to help me buy that vintage cast iron skillet, great brightly flowered apron and good book. Just a few Mr. Washingtons would have gotten me by. It was an impromptu garage sale stop and home was a bit away, so lesson learned. As far as buying only what you love, I think it's important to fill your home with what makes you happy. But besides that, sometimes what you are buying (that you love) doesn't make sense at all and that's ok. As long as you have a temporary solution for it, the long term answer will come. I've seen this happen so many times with my garage sale finds. I just found a new use or place for it and fell in love with it all over again. The best example of this was this medicine cabinet. I fell in love instantaneously. At the time, I didn't need a medicine cabinet living in an apartment, the cabinets were already there and to be honest, I didn't even think of it as one. I propped it open on the dresser in the bedroom and put my rock collection in there. The right door would pry itself open, no matter how many times or how hard, I would try to close it. It needed fixing and painting on top of that. But nevertheless, I absoutely loved it. Fast forward a few years later, as I looked at the bare wall across from the mirror in the bathroom, right away I knew what belonged there. So with garage sales, don't forget the cash and with it, buy only what you love, even if you have no idea what you are going to do with it, one day you will.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Buckwheat Groats & Yellow Squash Salad

I've been waking up to chilly mornings and this morning in particular, I even got a hot cup of coffee, instead of my usual cup on ice. There are mums out for sale, along with cinnamon scented pinecones. But the afternoons are warm, the sun is blissful and I even got some tan lines over the weekend. There is still summer left but the inevitable is coming.  And I've been in the mood for a hearty salad that still has some summer in it, while having a touch of fall. When I saw these beautiful locally grown yellow squash, I knew they were what I needed. And buckwheat groats are a stick to your ribs, hearty kind of fare. This salad is perfect for a late summer meal. This makes 4 servings.

  • 1 pound yellow squash, about 5 small ones, cubed
  • 1 cup buckwheat groats (dehulled buckwheat kernels)
  • 1 cup scallions, sliced
  • 1/3 cup chopped parsley
  • 2 oz. pancetta, cubed or cut into small pieces
  • 1/3 cup olive oil plus 1 tablespoon
  • 2 tablespoons white balsamic pear infused vinegar
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 5 olive cured olives, pitted and minced
  • pinch of sugar
  • pinch of Vegeta or any all-purpose seasoning
  • sea salt
  • fresh ground pepper

Cook your buckwheat groats according to the package directions, just keep an eye on them. I ended up cooking them for ten minutes instead of the fifteen and ended up needing to drain the liquid. Cool them off with cold water and set aside. In a pan, heat a tablespoon olive oil on low to medium heat, add in your yellow squash and the scallions, season with sea salt and saute for five minutes until the squash is cooked but not mushy and the scallions are cooked through. Add to your buckwheat groats. Saute your pancetta until it is light brown and add to your buckwheat, squash and scallions. Add in the chopped parsley. Combine the olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, olives, shallot, sugar, all purpose seasoning and ground pepper to make your dressing. Pour the dressing over the salad and mix well. If you take out the pancetta, it's a super healthy recipe. ;) Serve with grilled shrimp to complete the meal and lemon wedges on the side. Enjoy!

This is also great as a side dish! Just reheat in a pan with a small amount of butter, just delicious!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Rosehip Margarita

There is a little bit of a chill in the air this morning, and a cup of hot tea would be nice. When I was little and had the sniffles, my mom would make a cup of tea for me and usually put some honey in it but what really made me smile and feel better was when she added the rose hip syrup. It gave the tea an ever so delicate perfume of sweet roses and sweetened it just the way little kids like, lol. As a grown-up, I've come to enjoy it in a cocktail. I hope you always have time to stop and smell the roses but if not, this little drink can take you there. Enjoy and happy weekend!

1 oz. tequila
1 tablespoon rose hip syrup
6 oz. raspberry seltzer
a wedge of lime

Combine the tequila and the rose hip syrup, pour in the seltzer and give it a stir. Give your drink a finish with a squeeze of the lime wedge.

You can usually find rose hip syrup at any Polish deli. You can also check you local supermarket or any international type of food store. If you enjoy the scent of roses, you will really enjoy this syrup. It's great  mixed with seltzer and topped with ice for a non-alcoholic version.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Grilled Salmon, Portabella Mushroom, Asparagus & Cannellini Beans with Plum Dressing

What a gorgeous day! It's just beautiful out here on the east coast. It's a day that something wonderful in your life should be celebrated. Anything, a job that you love, a wonderful spouse that makes you laugh, a good friend you can count on, your loyal pet, an outfit that makes you feel good, a deep understanding that you were seeking and found, that perfect eyeliner that makes your eyes sparkle...It's a day to celebrate something wonderful, no matter how big or small. And I love celebrating with food and this is a salad that is delicious, light yet truly satisfying. Enjoy and celebrate something wonderful today! ;)

  • 2 pieces wild caught salmon, about 6 oz each
  • 1 small head of Boston lettuce, ripped up
  • 2 portabella mushrooms
  • 7 oz. cannellini beans, rinsed
  • 1/2 pound asparagus, cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 3 tablespoons plum sauce
  • 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon honey
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pat of unsalted butter
  • sea salt
  • fresh ground pepper
  • five spice powder
  • 1/4 cup pear infused vinegar

This dish is easy but once I start explaining the directions, it can sound a little complicated. I used aluminum foil for easy clean up, if not you can cook directly on the flat cast iron pan. If using the foil, make three separate "bowls," (using 2 sheets, cut to size, layered on top of each other, cupped at the edges to hold the juices) one to hold the asparagus, one for the cannellini beans and one for the salmon. The portabella mushrooms can be grilled directly on the grill. Just drizzle them with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper. And grill for about 12 minutes at 500 degrees, just flip halfway through and set aside once done. Once they are cool, you can slice them. I find that they are like a steak and need to rest to collect their juices. For your cannellini beans, combine 1 teaspoon of the plum sauce, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 teaspoon honey and salt and pepper and mix with the beans, so they are well coated. For your asparagus, just season with salt, pepper and drizzle with a little olive oil. For the salmon, combine 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 tablespoon honey, 1 tablespoon plum sauce, and season with salt, pepper and five spice powder to taste. Pour over the salmon and top with the pat of butter, broken up. Heat up your grill along with the flat cast iron pan. I have a big one that is about 18 inches long, it's great! Once your grill is hot, place your "bowls" containing the salmon, the cannellini beans and the asparagus and grill for about 10 minutes. After about five minutes, the asparagus will be ready, if the stalks are tender. In the meantime, divide the lettuce between two plates. Add the mushrooms and asparagus to the plate. Remove the salmon from the "bowl" and reserve the cooking juices. Break up the salmon into bite size pieces and add to the plate. Top with the grilled cannellini beans. Into the reserved juices add in the vinegar, 2 tablespoons honey and 1 tablespoon plum sauce. Season to taste with salt pepper and the five spice powder. Drizzle over your salads. Serves 2.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Tomato & Butter Gigli with Ricotta Salata Crumbs

Julia Child would have celebrated her 100th birthday today and I have a feeling, if she can see all of us celebrating her life, she would be a happy lady. I should have made a coq au vin or a French onion soup today in her honor but I used enough butter that I think it would have made her smile. ;) I loved watching her cook on Sunday afternoons, I think she was on at 3pm. I got lost as I watched her cook and fell in love with her passion, charm and humor. And she loved butter as much as I did, lol. This dish celebrates that love, combining butter with garden ripe tomatoes and gigli pasta. Enjoy!

  • 1/2 pound gigli pasta or any pasta with ridges, cooked al dente
  • 1 pound cherry tomatoes, smashed and halved
  • 1 shallot, cut in half lengthwise, sliced thin and divided
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 1 ciabatta roll, broken up into crumbs
  • a few purple & green basil leaves, ripped up
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • a handful ricotta salata cheese, crumbled, (about a half a cup)
  • sea salt 
  • fresh ground pepper

In a pan, combine 2 tablespoons of the butter and half of the shallot slices. Let this cook for about three to four minutes until the shallot is softened and begins to brown. Once it begins to brown, add in the ciabatta crumbs, a little salt and a little basil. Let the crumbs get crisp and brown a little bit. Once they are almost done, add in the crumbled ricotta salada until warmed through, stirring often. Into a dutch oven, combine 2 tablespoons of the unsalted butter, olive oil, the remaining shallot and the garlic on low heat. Let it cook until the shallot and garlic are softened, about five minutes. Add in the tomatoes and let them cook on low heat for about ten minutes. If there is still alot of liquid in your pan, increase the heat to high until the liquids have reduced, add in the basil leaves, sea salt and ground pepper. Toss the pasta with the sauce and serve with the ricotta salata crumbs. This serves 3-4.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Bacon & Potato Pancakes with Sorrel Cream

Mmm...a childhood treat these were indeed. I loved when my mom made these! But there was never a set recipe, it was always by texture of the "batter." And she knew when it was just right.  And I asked my husband to show me how he makes them, (as I drove him crazy, with the precision of it). Taking his grated potatoes and measuring them out by the cupful. Measuring, by memory the size of the  potatoes he chose, leveling off his spoonfuls of flour, lol, feverishly writing as he gave me the crash course the other day. And he said the same thing, you just kinda know, when it's right. I wanted to be sure, before I experimented a little myself. I knew I wanted to add bacon, for sure, lol and polenta. And I was set on the cream ever since I nibbled on the lemony freshness of the sorrel leaves. I knew they had to be combined with sour cream to accompany a crisp potato pancake. This makes a little over two dozen potato pancakes. Enjoy!
  • 5 medium size potatoes, peeled and grated about 3 cups
  • 1/2 cup instant polenta
  • 4 slices thick bacon, cut into small pieces *optional
  • 1 large onion, grated
  • 7 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • sea salt
  • ground pepper
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 8 sorrel leaves, chopped, save some for garnish
  • 4 tablespoons heavy cream

For the polenta, just bring one cup of water to a boil and pour in the polenta and stir and let it cool. Cook your bacon until it's semi-crisp, it will cook through once you fry your pancake. Reserve the bacon drippings, so you can fry the pancakes. I know, lol you can always use canola oil. I ended up using grape seed oil, once the bacon drippings got low and it came out great. For the pancakes, combine the potatoes, polenta, bacon bits and the onion. Using a fork, break up the polenta if its' hardened. Once all is combined, add the eggs, flour, a nice amount of sea salt and ground pepper. Get your drippings or oil nice and hot on medium to high heat. Place a tablespoonful of batter down into the hot oil and flatten them a little with the back of your spoon. You can always make them a little bigger or smaller. Cook each pancake for two minutes per each side. You will see it brown around the edges, it's a built in timer, telling you that you should flip the pancake. Make one as a "tester" to check for seasonings, add more if needed. Drain your pancakes on paper bags if you have any on hand or paper towels. Combine the sour cream, sorrel and heavy cream to make the sorrel cream. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with some chopped leaves. If you don't have sorrel available, use any herb you like, dill is great as is parsley. Serve the potato pancakes nice and hot!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Portabella Mushroom & Goat Cheese Pennoni Dish

Mushrooms, how do I love thee, let me count the ways...and this is one of them. This is going to sound a little strange but I was really in the mood for a cheese steak sandwich but didn't have the steak or the rolls. lol So I tried to translate those flavors into a pasta dish using portabella mushrooms for the meatiness and goat cheese for the cheese factor. And I'm not going to say I hit the nail on the head, lol but I will say this dish was decadent and delicious and if you are a mushroom lover and are celebrating goat cheese month ;), you will enjoy this dish!

  • 1/2 pound pennoni pasta, Ziti, farfalle or rotini would be a great substitute
  • 1/2 pound portabella mushrooms, cut in half then cut into strips about the length of the pasta, cooked al dente
  • 1 cubanelle pepper, seeded, quartered and sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed and minced
  • 1 good small tomato, diced
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
  • 5 tablespoons heavy cream
  • sea salt
  • fresh ground pepper

In a Dutch oven, combine the butter, olive oil and the garlic. Let it saute over low heat until the garlic is soft. Add in the mushrooms, pepper, tomato and season with a little salt, saute on low heat for half an hour on low heat. The liquids will release so increase the heat on high for about five minutes until the liquid reduces. Keep an eye on it and stir if needed because it can easily burn. After it reduces stir in the goat cheese and the heavy cream. Stir until the goat cheese has melted into the sauce and is warmed through. Season with sea salt if needed and fresh ground pepper and stir in the cooked pasta. Serve this right away, nice and hot! Serves four.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Planked Goat Cheese

August is National Goat Cheese month! Yay! And we are celebrating it by putting it on the grill! I saw these cool "maple grilling planks" by the cheese section and I was really intrigued and had to try them out with the goat cheese! This was really fun and I look forward to grilling more cheeses in the future! The end result is a delicious, slightly smoky, warm and easily spreadable cheese. It was just so good, if you are a goat cheese lover, you will really enjoy this recipe!

  • 4 oz. goat cheese, sliced into 4 pieces
  • 4 sun dried tomatoes packed in oil, sliced
  • a few basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped raw walnuts
  • olive oil for drizzling
  • about 8 slices of an olive batard or any good bread you love
  • 1 6x6 grilling plank, submerged in water for at least an hour.

Preheat your grill to about 350 degrees. I got my grill too hot which I think contributed to the plank curling at the edges a bit. So try to keep your grill at the lower temperature. The two recipes on the package for planked brie and planked cheddar all grilled at 350 degrees. I was just so excited to get the cheese on the grill, (and off) lol. Put your soaked plank on the grill  for about 3 minutes. Flip and using your tongs, take it off the grill so you can top your plank with the goat cheese, sun dried tomatoes, chopped basil and chopped walnuts. Drizzle with a little bit of olive oil. Using your tongs place it back on the grill. Grill for about ten minutes until the cheese is nice and soft and you see the sun dried tomatoes beginning to brown a little. On the side of the plank, grill your slices of bread and enjoy together.  Happy goat cheese enjoying weekend everyone! ;)

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Cold Cantaloupe & Yogurt Soup

What's great about summertime, besides sunny beach days and rainy weekends that are just made for reading good books is the natural loss of appetite that happens! (It's the opposite in winter for me, lol) A nice soup or salad and on a hot day like today, is all I need for dinner, besides maybe an iced coffee to end the meal. (I love them, a little too much.) This soup combines ripe cantaloupe, cucumber and creamy tangy Greek yogurt into a quick, refreshing yet filling treat. Enjoy!

  • 1/2 a ripe cantaloupe, scooped out and roughly chopped, include all of the juice!
  • 1/4 peeled seedless cucumber, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • fresh course ground pepper
  • a pinch of sea salt
  • lemon thyme for garnish

Blend the cantaloupe, cucumber, honey, Greek yogurt, ground pepper and sea salt with an immersion blender or regular blender. This makes 4 servings. Garnish each bowl with lemon thyme leaves or pass a small bowl around. A great substitute for the lemon thyme would be chopped mint leaves. Great served ice cold!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Onion Fritters with Cilantro & Tomato Mayo

These onion fritters will make any onion ring lover happy. The only thing missing with these fritters when compared to an onion ring is when you bite into that ring and the onion slips out and you are left with the crisp hollowed out batter in your hand, lol. Still so delicious! These are best served nice and hot, so have whoever you are sharing them with close by. ;) 

  • 1 onion, thinly sliced, I sliced them into half moon slices
  • 1 slice of prosciutto, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup seltzer
  • 1/4 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning *optional, add if you want a little kick in your fritters 
  • 1/4 teaspoon Vegeta, or any other all purpose seasoning
  • canola oil
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • a squeeze of 1/4 of a lime
  • 1 small good tomato, finely chopped
  • 1 heaping tablespoon finely chopped cilantro
  • 3 Kalamata olives, minced
  • a little Sriracha sauce

Combine the flour, cornstarch, Old Bay Seasoning and your all purpose seasoning. Slowly whisk in your seltzer. Once combined add in your sliced onions and prosciutto strips. Heat up your canola oil on low to medium heat until nice and hot. Once your oil is ready, take a tablespoonful of the onion mixture and place it into the hot oil. Flatten it out quickly, so it cooks evenly. Fry for 5 minutes per each side and drain on paper towels or paper bags. Work in batches and make your sauce in between. To make your sauce combine the mayonnaise, lime juice, tomato, cilantro. olives and Sriracha sauce. Serve with the cilantro and tomato mayo although these are great by themseleves! This makes about a dozen fritters. Enjoy!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Arugula & Eggplant Antipasto

This is a quick antipasto to put together that doesn't require too much time, as long as you have the eggplant made ahead of time. I happened to have some eggplant slices in the fridge and the arugula and ricotta cheese were calling the eggplants' name. It's a rustic dish that gets your appetite revved up, while taming it. Serve with grilled chunks of good bread on the side. Just delicious!

  • arugula
  • part-skim ricotta cheese
  • grilled eggplant slices, cut into squares
  • a few slices salami, cut into strips
  • a few sun dried tomatoes, ripped up or cut into strips 
  • a few basil leaves, ripped up or cut into strips
  • olive oil for drizzling
  • fresh ground pepper

The nice thing about this recipe is you can adjust it to your liking. Love salami? Add some more to your platter! To get your antipasto started, layer the arugula down on your platter, followed by the eggplant. If you need a good recipe for your eggplant steaks, follow the directions for "Grilled Eggplant Steak with Cannellini Bean Salad." (July 25th's post.) Dollop your ricotta cheese over the eggplant. Scatter some salami strips and sun dried tomato strips over the ricotta cheese. Drizzle with olive oil and top with the ripped basil leaves and fresh ground pepper. Enjoy!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Turkey Cutlets over Dandelion Greens & Apple Salad with Warm Vinaigrette

I mowed the lawn yesterday and I tried to ignore the few fallen leaves laying on the grass, a reminder that fall is around the corner. There really is no escaping that summer is slowly slipping away. August is my most favorite month of the year but it's also bittersweet as it marks the end of summer. And as I came up with this salad, I couldn't help but think that it has a little bit of an autumn feel to it. But it's just so good and if you take a walk while the sun is out and close your eyes for a moment, summer is here as long as you want it to be. ;)

  • 1 pound turkey cutlets, 4 pieces
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • sea salt
  • fresh ground pepper
  • 1 bunch dandelion greens, about 2 pounds, chopped 
  • 1 golden delicious apple, cored and quartered and sliced thin
  • 1/2 seedless cucumber, sliced thin and ripped in half
  • 1 cup thinly sliced red cabbage
  • 2 cups ripped up pieces of ciabatta bread, or any good stale bread you have on hand
  • 1 pat unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 oz pear vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons rinsed capers

In a bowl combine the flour, salt and pepper. Dredge the turkey cutlets into the flour and set aside. Heat the 3 tablespoons of butter until sizzling on low heat. Add in the turkey cutlets, sauteing for 5 minutes on each side. Set aside your turkey cutlets. In the remaining butter, (add more if needed ) saute your ripped up pieces of bread. Saute the croutons on medium heat and stir a few times until golden brown. Once brown, let drain on paper towels and set aside. To make your salad, combine the dandelion greens, cucumber slices, apple slices and cabbage. To make your warm vinaigrette, melt your pat of butter and stir in the olive oil, vinegar, honey, capers and salt and pepper and heat for about 2 minutes. Reserve a few teaspoons to pour over the turkey cutlets, toss the remaining warm vinaigrette with the dandelion greens. This makes 4 servings. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Nutella & Mascarpone Cheese Dessert Platter

I'm not much of a dessert person but I do love Nutella! And if you are having company over, this is such a quick platter to put together to satisfy that sweet tooth! Enjoy!

  • 1 8oz. container mascarpone cheese
  • 1 tablespoon of Kahlua or more
  • 4 graham crackers broken up
  • a few thin slices multi-grain bread, grilled (try to get one with nuts & seeds)
  • 3/4 cup Nutlella or more
  • 2 tablespoons hazelnuts
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 ripe banana, sliced
  • 1 pat unsalted butter 
  • sprinkling of cinnamon
  • a few pieces of dark chocolate 

Combine the mascarpone cheese and the Kahlua and spread on the platter. Spread your Nutella down and grate some dark chocolate over a corner of the mascarpone cheese. Break up the chocolate into little bite size pieces. It's nice to have that little touch of bitterness. In a separate bowl, combine the hazelnuts with honey. Add to the platter. This is a great platter because you can really do what you like with it. If you aren't a honey fan, you can leave the hazelnuts plain, on the side or omit them altogether. For the banana mixture, melt the butter and add the banana sauteing until they brown and the bananas begin to break down. They don't take long, about 5 minutes, stirring often, stir in the cinnamon and add to the platter. (The bananas are in the corner above the multi-grain bread, sorry not too much exposure but if you are a banana lover, add this to the platter!) Surround with the graham crackers and the multi-grain bread. I like adding the multi-grain bread because it gives the sweetness of all of the spreads a little bit of a break, almost like the crust on a sweet fruit pie. On second thought, if you are a fan of  peanut butter, it would be great with the Nutella and mascarpone cheese and maybe a little sea salt on the side! The combinations are endless, have fun! This platter serves about 4.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Fish Tacos with Tri-Color Slaw

One of my favorite memories of going to San Francisco, was going to the beach. It was the middle of December, Christmas decorations were out already and was I excited! I couldn't wait to take a nice long walk on the sandy beach of the west coast. I took the bus to get there, got dropped off and wandered around and ran into the cutest little Mexican restaurant. I saw the beach in the distance and stopped in to get a bite to eat before embracing the sand and sun. It was small, authentic and the fish tacos were delicious. And whenever I go have Mexican, that's my favorite dish to get, with lots of cilantro. I haven't had them in a long time and was craving a soft taco filled with nuggets of tender fish topped with a spicy cabbage slaw, so I made some at home! Hope you enjoy!

  • 1 pound cod, cut into 1/2 inch stripes
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon Vegeta or any all purpose seasoning *optional
  • 1 cup lemon lime flavored seltzer
  • canola oil
  • 8 soft corn tortillas
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded red cabbage
  • 1/2 cup shredded seedless cucumber, skin left on
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 1 tablespoon black and tan gomasio, (black & tan sesame seeds with sea salt)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracha sauce
  • juice of 1/2 a lime
  • lime wedges
  • chopped cilantro

Make your slaw by combining the red cabbage, cucumber, carrot, sesame seeds, sour cream, mayonnaise, Sriracha sauce and lime juice. Taste and season accordingly. And you can set it aside. Combine your flour, cornstarch and seasonings. Pour in, a little at a time, the seltzer and stir with a fork. Combine the batter with your cod pieces and let it sit while you heat up the canola oil. Heat your oil in a non-stick pan and place in a few cod pieces at a time, let any excess batter drip back into your bowl. Fry your cod for 2 minutes. They are so delicate, and once they are down in the pan, don't touch them, once ready, flip them carefully and fry for an additional 2 minutes. Give them room to breathe in the pan. Try not to pierce them because the moisture from the fish will make the oil splatter. I am always tempted to wear eye goggles when frying, lol. Please do this with extra care. Drain on a few layers of paper bags. Warm your tortillas and fill them with the fish and the slaw. Serve with lots of lime wedges, cilantro and hot sauce on the side. This makes 4 servings.