Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Smoky Spanish-Style Pan Roast

Dinner! August seemed to fly by with very little time left to blog about food and recipes. I returned from my most recent vacation last night and was ready to eat at home.

This recipe came to me from my running friend, and I was waiting for the right evening to make it.

Before leaving on vacation I had received some green beans in the CSA box, so I had blanched them and put them in the freezer. Tonight was the night to get them out and make this recipe from Cooking Light magazine obtained through myrecipes.com. the original recipe can be found by clicking the title of this blog and typing in the name of the recipe. I did follow the recipe; however, I found that I was out of paprika, so I used Penzey's BBQ3000 blend which had paprika has the 2nd ingredient. I just couldn't run to the store another time today.

The reviews on this were good from both husband and daughter. Just looking at this pretty picture I loved it before even tasting it....but it was tasty as well.

I'm not quite ready for fall foods, so I hope to have a bit more time left to catch up for August...the missing month for me.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Stocking the Freezer - Presto Pesto

This summer I planted an entire package of basil seeds in 3 patio planters, allowed them to grow and didn't thin them at all...It was an experiment to see how many plants would actually thrive by being so crowded and to determine whether I really needed to thin them out. Its August, and I have planters brimming over with basil and every individual plant seems to be doing just fine! If I actually counted the individual plants, I would guess I have over 50 plants, but we have enjoyed it! Fresh basil right out the door daily! Now that it is August, I have started to harvest the basil. Today I gathered 4 cups of leaves and within 30 minutes I had pesto! Here's my recipe and how I store it...

4 cups basil leaves, compacted
4-6 garlic cloves
1 cup olive oil
1/2 cup pine nuts
1 cup grated parmesan

Mince garlic in food processor, add basil leaves and pine nuts and chop finely. Add oil in a thin stream and then add cheese. Presto, you have Pesto!

I freeze the pesto in ice cube trays, this batch made one tray worth of pesto plus enough for a meal. Guess what we are having for dinner!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Classic Summer Meal

In celebration of my son's 17th birthday, I put together a classic summer meal, barbecued chicken, potato salad and corn on the cob. I have never been good at making potato salad, it is often mushy or flavorless, but this time, I made a winner!

I had several pounds of red fingerling potatoes from my CSA box, so I set to work.

Here's the recipe...

4 pounds baby red potatoes
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/2-1 onion, chopped
1 1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup dijon style mustard
2 T white or red wine vinegar
salt and pepper

Boil potatoes, cut into chunks and allow to cool.  While potatoes are still slightly warm, add onion and celery, mix together rest of ingredients to make sauce. Pour sauce over the potatoes and mix. Refrigerate until cold.

I served the salad with barbecued chicken from Tyler Florence and oven roasted corn. To make oven roasted corn, place corn in husks in a preheated 350°F oven for about 30 minutes, until husks start to brown...fantastic!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Cauliflower Leek and Onion Purée

From 1992-1996 we lived in the south of France, outside of Nice. While all of the food was to die for, one of the amazing finds was what the french chefs could do with vegetables in the form of a purée. Puréed vegetables are considered baby food by most of us in the US, but in France, purées have a place in the finest restaurants.  You can even find purées at the grocery store, frozen in little briquettes that you just heat and eat!  It was great when my kids were babies, all of their baby food was pure, unadulterated puréed vegetables. We all ate purées of cauliflower, celery root, spinach, beans etc.

Last week we got a cauliflower in our CSA box and I had a leek left over from my corn soup, so I decided to make a purée to freeze for a later meal since we have so much fresh produce right now. Puréed cauliflower is similar in texture to mashed potatoes, but a bit thinner.  It is wonderful on its own or it could be used as a bed for sautéed vegetables.

Here's what I did.

1 cauliflower, chopped into even pieces, about 1-2 inches in size
1 Leek, sliced using white and light green parts
1 small onion, chopped (I used a cipollini onion for it's sweetness)
1 c chicken or vegetable stock or broth
Salt and White pepper

Place vegetables in a microwave safe dish and add 1 cup chicken stock. Cover with a tight fitting lid or plastic wrap and microwave on high for 12-15 minutes until vegetables are very soft. Transfer vegetables to a food processor using a slotted spoon and purée. Add vegetable or chicken broth to thin if needed.

Once the purée was made I seasoned with salt and white pepper.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Eggplant and Summer Squash Pasta

 From Bup's Bistro (sorry, no picture, I forgot to take one and the meal is gone!)

My daughter is out of town for a couple of days so it is TIME TO EAT ZUCCHINI! We have quite an abundance of zucchini, summer squash and patty pan squash, plus we got an eggplant this week from the CSA box. My son actually requested grilled eggplant earlier in the week, so I decided grilling strips of vegies would be a good approach.  He actually prefers this method to my usual chopped method, it is just a bit more cumbersome to grill the strips and slices than to throw all the chopped stuff in a grilling basket. With this marinade, the strips are a better choice because the flavor of the marinade covers more of the vegetables.


1-2 zucchini
1-2 summer squash
1 eggplant
Basil - 1/4 cup fresh leaves, chopped
Olive Oil 4-6 T
Balsamic Vinegar 2-3 T
Salt and pepper to taste

Hot, cooked penne pasta
Toasted Pine Nuts
Parmesan Cheese

Slice eggplant into 1/2 inch slices, lengthwise. sprinkle with salt on both sides and place on paper towels to drain. Let stand 45-60 minutes. Rinse eggplant and pat dry.

Slice zucchini and summer squash lengthwise, in 1/4 inch slices.
Blend Oil, vinegar  salt and pepper with basil in a blender, scraping down the sides often.

Brush  eggplant and squashes with the olive oil mixture and grill over medium heat. The eggplant will take longer, 10-15 minutes, the squash around 5-7 minutes. Turn vegetables over, brush with the oil mixture and grill an additional few minutes until golden brown.

Chop vegetables, mix with the hot pasta and add any additional oil mixture, the pine nuts and the parmesan cheese.  Serve with a salad for a great summer meal.

Note: You can grill the vegetables earlier in the day and pour remaining oil mixture over them and then add to the hot pasta right before serving.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Fish Tacos

I needed a quick meal the other night, so I returned to an old favorite, fish tacos. These are based on Rubios and Taco Surf...two SoCal quick dining choices that please our entire household. They were served on corn tortillas because that's my preference for this recipe but flour tortillas work as well.

1-1/2 lb whitefish, cut into pieces (I used tilapia)
3 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper
2 T. lime juice

Rub these three ingredients into the fish, then coat the fish in:
2T. chili powder mixed with 1/2c cornmeal
Saute the fish and serve on warmed corn tortillas with shredded cabbage, lime wedges, salsa, avocado, and white sauce (see below):
1/2 c. plain yogurt
1/2 c. mayo
1/2t each oregano, cumin, dill weed, cayenne

Sadly, I did not have avocado last night...and they really are better with some chopped on the top. I did have some fun sauces (shown in the picture) that my husband picked up on a recent business trip to Mexico.

It was box pick up night for our CSA, so I was able to make a quick salsa with some of the ingredients. The green beans are from the box as well. The tomatoes were awesome and I had some locally grown corn, CSA red onions, and cilantro.

Notice the margarita...just the perfect thing to have with the tacos on a beautiful summer night!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Greek Chicken Pita

Fast and healthy....my favorite two words for weeknight cooking! Although I love to spend the day in the kitchen...having a job and a swimmer...that doesn't happen every night. This recipe idea is something I found on the back of a spice blend from Penzeys.

The chicken is cut into cubes and marinated in 1 T. Greek spice blend, 1 T. lemon juice, 1 T. water and 1 T. olive oil. Usually I do that in the morning and let it sit in the refrigerator all day. When I get home in the evening I saute the chicken and grate some cucumber, squeeze out the excess water and put that in plain yogurt. Serve it on a warm pita with feta cheese....and it's a crowd pleaser in minutes. Depending on my ambition level (aka time) it can be served with tomatoes, pepper strips, and/or onion. I was fortunate to get cucumber, red onion, and tomato in the CSA box this week,so we had fresh ingredients.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Chilled Creamed Corn and Leek Soup

 (Picture taken from original article at JSONLINE.com)

We stopped receiving the Sunday newspaper when we realized we were only reading the Comics and getting the rest of our news from the TV or the Internet. We really haven't missed it, but this past weekend we accidentally received a copy. It was fun to be able to read through the paper and look through the advertising circulars, but the best part came when I checked out the recipes. A local restaurant owner, Sanford D'Amato of Sanford Restaurant, had written an article and included a recipe!

My son and I decided to visit a Farmer's Market later that day and when I saw all the corn, leeks and onions available, I suggested I make the recipe. I wasn't sure of amounts, so I grabbed 6 ears of corn and a bunch of leeks. I estimated correctly and soup was made!

The last time I cooked a recipe from Sandy D'Amato, we could not believe how delicious the result was.  I promise to blog about that recipe this winter, it is a Pork Stew, so not really a summer meal. The article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel last week talks about Sanford's Chilled Creamed Corn and Leek Soup. The article is interesting, the recipe is fabulous! While it is considered a chilled soup, my son preferred it hot, and honestly, it is great either way.

The original recipe is posted below.  I didn't have mace in the house, so I omitted that and the soup was still great.  I also stirred the sautéed leeks into the soup after cooking them and saved the bacon until serving to use as a garnish, certainly not quite as dramatic a presentation, but just as tasty!

Chilled Creamed Corn and Leek Soup

6 ears fresh market corn, shucked, silks removed
1 leek (10 ounces), cut in half lengthwise, cleaned and cut across the grain into 1/4-inch strips
2 bay leaves
1 quart chicken stock (plus a bit extra if needed)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion (6 ounces), peeled and diced small
5 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground mace
3 teaspoons Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 slices bacon, cut julienne

Cut corn kernels off cob (need 4 cups) and place in a bowl. Then "milk" the cobs by holding them and scraping away from you with the back of a knife into bowl with kernels. Reserve cobs.
Place corn cobs, one third of the leek and the bay leaves in a sauce pot. Cover with chicken stock, bring to a simmer and let simmer, covered, 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let steep on the side.
Place a sauce pot over medium-low heat. Add oil, onion and thyme and sautée 5 minutes without letting onions take on color.
Strain stock, measure and add more stock if needed to make 3 cups liquid.
Add to onion mixture with corn, pepper, mace and salt and bring to a simmer. Let simmer 2 minutes, remove from heat and carefully puree one third of the soup finely in a blender.
Add puree back to soup pot and cool. When cold, adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
When ready to serve, render bacon in a non-stick pan until crisp.
Remove bacon, leaving fat in pan. Sautée remaining leeks seasoned lightly with salt and pepper in the bacon fat until just tender. Mix in crisp bacon.
Portion cold soup into bowls and garnish with warm leeks and bacon.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Grilled Flatbread Pizzas

From Bup's Bistro

This week I am menu challenged because my son needs to eat dinner at 4:30 so he can make play practice at 5, while my husband doesn't get home until 7-7:30! I decided Grilled Flat Bread was the answer this evening.

Last summer, my blog mate Karen shared a grilled pizza recipe with me...we loved the finished product, but I found grilling the pizza dough a bit challenging! Earlier this summer I found a grilled flat bread recipe in a magazine while waiting for my daughter at the Orthodontist. I don't remember the magazine, but the recipe below is an adaptation of that recipe. It was a bit easier to execute than Karen's grilled pizza, though I'd love it if she would blog about it so we all could learn her secret to grilling fresh pizza dough!


4-6 flat breads(homemade or store bought, see below for homemade recipe)
Pizza sauce
Mozzerella cheese
Feta cheese
Baby spinach leaves
Marinated artichoke hearts
Fresh Tomatoes (I got yellow and red cherry/grape tomatoes from my CSA today)
Basil leaves
Olive Oil
Any other pizza toppings desired

Brush one side of flat bread with olive oil and grill for 2-3 minutes, oil side down. Remove from grill, brush ungrilled side with oil and top pizzas as desired(place toppings on grilled side). Return to grill(obviously ungrilled side down), watch carefully and cook until all toppings are heated through. You may need to start over the flames and then move to indirect heat to get all the cheese melted without overcooking the flat bread.

The great thing about this recipe is everyone can make a personal pizza! My daughter sticks with her traditional cheese pizza with a sprinkle of feta and a little basil while the rest of us pile on the ingredients.

Homemade Flat Bread

Use any of the doughs from Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a day or regular pizza dough.

Roll 3-4 ounces of dough flat, as thin as 1/8-1/4 inch thick on a pizza slide or silicone mat, making sure the dough slides easily.

Using a fork, poke lots of "holes" all over the dough. This is important so you don't end up with pita bread!

Preheat oven with a baking stone to 500°F for at least 20 minutes. Slide flat bread onto stone quickly and bake for about 5 minutes. Repeat process for as many flat breads as you need. These do freeze well for a quick mid-week dinner!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Lemon Chicken

From Bup's Bistro:

On my last trip to Sendik's meat and seafood sale I picked up 2 packages of chicken thighs. While the calorie conscious side of me was objecting to this choice, the budget side of me was determining that dark meat chicken, which is full of flavor, was a worthwhile purchase as a budget buster every once and a while. The question remained, what do I do with these! Both my husband and son HATE eating chicken off the bone, so I would have to make something awesome to overcome this dislike. The other stumbling block was that we have been in the middle of a major heat and humidity wave, so the final dish would have to be light. No Chicken Stew in August!

I found a recipe for Grilled Lemon Chicken on Epicurious.com. I had most of the ingredients, so I decided to give it a shot. I didn't have poultry seasoning, so I just seasoned with salt and pepper. I had a day, so I did let the chicken marinate overnight.

A note about cooking the chicken...I cooked the chicken on a gas grill and followed the directions to the letter, once the chicken was seared, I moved the pieces to the unlit side of the grill so the chicken would continue to cook with indirect heat.

The finished product was a light, juicy, lemony chicken, perfect for a summer evening.  I had a cucumber, green onions, kohlrabi and fresh basil from my CSA box, so I put together a tomato, cucumber, kohlrabi, basil salad and dressed it with a homemade vinaigrette. Even the boys didn't mind getting the last of the chicken off the bone!

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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Summer Tomato Pasta

This recipe idea comes from a friend of mine who makes it every Monday night. Obviously it's most tasty with tomatoes fresh from the garden. I have three on the vine...and some fresh bail from my parent's garden, so this is the pasta idea of the week!

Tomatoes are chopped and fresh basil is added along with some mozzarella balls, balsamic vinegar, olive oil and freshly ground pepper. The hot pasta added to the sauce melts the mozzarella just a bit. It doesn't get any simpler or fresher than this!

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Sunday, August 1, 2010

Garden pizza

Hmm...what to call this recipe? We love pizza around here and usually have it once a week or so....get ready for some innovative pizza ideas to celebrate my Italian heritage and creativity! I think it's a great way to use the veggies from the CSA box...and whatever else I have on hand. As Elizabeth does, I buy yeast and flour in bulk, so I am ready to make pizza dough just about any time I have an hour or so to let it rise.

I do like to plan meals ahead of time but find that sometimes I just need to look through what I have and use it. That's usually when we have some type of pasta or pizza to use up some of the ingredients. Since my husband isn't a fan of leftovers, I usually try to have it look fresh and new. You can decide if that was successful!

This was a new creation using what I had in stock and what sounded good. I was thinking about a BLT type pizza and a Neopolitan style pizza, so I combined what I had and came up with this one.

I use the basic dough recipe in this book by James McNair. The dough was brushed with olive oil after being spread in the pan...then topped with tomatoes. The cooked bacon, garlic and red onion were sprinkled on top along with salt and pepper. After baking it was topped with basil. It was served with some green beans, since they were in the box as well.

Every time I receive the CSA box I feel a bit overwhelmed until I can sort through it and get some inspiration. It often seems difficult when I unpack the box on Thursday night but usually I'm in good shape by Friday night. I just have to think through what I'm going to do with all these fresh items while the clock is ticking on the freshness!

Thai Steak Salad

This salad was inspired by one that my husband raved about after a business trip to California. A number of recipes were combined...and a bit of creativity...and this was tonight's dinner! I was cycling tonight, so most of it was prepared ahead of time. Paul grilled the meat while I was gone and the meal was quickly assembled when I got home at dusk.

2 pieces beef tenderloin marinated in 2 T. canola oil, 2 T . ketchup, and 1 T. soy sauce for 4 hours or so. Grilled. Then cut into 1/4" slices against the grain.

Dressing: 2 T. canola oil, 4 T. fresh squeezed lime juice, 2 t. fish sauce, 1/2t. sugar, 1 t. minced ginger, 1/2 t. minced garlic, 1/4 t. salt

Salad: 6 c. chopped red leaf lettuce, 1/4 c. chopped mint leaves, 1 c. chopped cilantro leaves, 1/4 c. chopped red onion, 1 sliced tomato, chopped jalapeno.

The mint, tomato and jalapeno were from our container garden...but the cilantro (sadly) was not. The rest of the items were all from a grocery store expedition yesterday.

Here's the nifty lime squeezer we have. We saw Rick Bayless using it on his TV cooking show and knew it would come in handy. OK, we were thinking of using this for margaritas but it works for juicing limes for salad dressing as well! This really is a favorite kitchen gadget around here...if I had a lemon tree in my back yard I would get the slightly larger version of this in yellow. And, if I had an orange tree I would get the even larger version in orange:)