Friday, June 25, 2010

This Was Good, No Thai!

I often follow some of our local food bloggers in the area and the other day Peggy Lampman, who blogs for, posted the most delicious looking Composed Salad. I've always liked the idea of a “composed” salad as opposed to a salad gone wild. This recipe is Thai-inspired and the flavors spoke to me so I decided to give it a go for tonight's dinner. I made one fatal mistake however and sent my husband to the grocery store. Consequently, the recipe was not made exactly as it appears. That really never bothers me too much as I often tweak almost all recipes I see and make do with what's on hand. If the ingredient isn't one that I'm wild about or if it doesn't seem that essential I'll plow ahead undaunted. If however, let's say, I'm making beef burgundy and have no beef, now that would give me pause.

So dear husband forgot the English cucumber and brought home Italian parsley instead of mint claiming it smelled like mint! Ha! Possibly it was NEXT to the mint? Ah well..........

Composed Thai Grilled Beef Salad

1 recipe of Thai Beef Marinade*
1 ½ pound flank steak
1 recipe for Thai Salad Dressing*
2 cups shredded green cabbage
2 cups shredded purple cabbage
1 cup shredded carrot
1 English cucumber cut in half seeded and thinly sliced
½ cup dry roasted unsalted peanuts
1 cup uncooked sticky purple rice (I didn't have purple!)

Directions for Thai Composed Salad

A day ahead or early in the morning make the marinade and put it and the flank steak in a ziplock bag to marinate in fridge.

Make the Thai Dressing

Toss the cabbages and carrot in ½ of the dressing and refrigerate

Toss the cucumbers and peanuts with ¼ of the dressing and refrigerate

Make rice according to package directions

While rice cooks, heat grill to high. Oil grates and remove beef from marinade. For medium-rare beef, grill meat about 4 minutes per side and let rest 5 minutes, then cut in thin strip across the grain.

Compose all your ingredients on individual dinner plates and drizzle the remaining dressing over all.

Thai Beef Marinade

2 t garlic
Red pepper flakes a couple teaspoons
¼ cup fresh lime juice
3 T fish sauce
½ T grated fresh ginger
1 T finely chopped lemongrass

Thai Salad Dressing
½ cup Thai basil washed and chopped
1 cup cilantro washed and chopped
1 cup mint washed and chopped
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
¼ cup water
2 t minced garlic
1 T sugar
2 T sliced lemon grass
2 t red pepper flakes
3 T fish sauce

Combine all ingredients and refrigerate.

PS-He also forgot the peanuts!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


While I was buzzing around the market at Kerrytown the other day I happened across a product that I’d never used before: fregole. Fregole is from Sardinia. It is an extra large couscous that has been toasted. It can be cooked like pasta or like risotto. I threw it in my shopping basket and then came home to hunt for a recipe.

I found one that not only looked interesting and yummy but also made use of the fresh herbs I have growing on my deck steps. The recipe Fregole with Roasted Vegetables calls for rosemary-infused olive oil. Instead of purchasing some, I decided to find a recipe for making my own since I have rosemary growing and I always have olive oil.

I decided to round out the meal with some gorgeous huge scallops I saw at the market as well.

First step was to make the oil:

Rosemary Infused Oil

1 cup olive oil
5-6 fresh rosemary (each 5 inches long)

Combine oil and rosemary in heavy saucepan
Cook over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes
Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature
Transfer the sprigs to a small bottle with top
Add the oil and put lid on
Refrigerate and use within a week or so

Fregole with Roasted Vegetables

2 red onions peeled and cut in eight wedges
6 tsp of rosemary oil
4 large portobello mushroom caps
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 cube vegetable bouillon, no salt added
2 cups water
1 cup fregole
2 Tbsp of chopped chives

Preheat over to 450

In a roasting pan, toss onion with 2 tsp of oil. In separate roasting pan, drizzle remaining 2 tsp oil over mushroom caps. Place both pans in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove mushrooms and set aside. Add the garlic to the onions and return to oven for 5 minutes.

Dissolve the broth cube in 2 cups boiling water. Add 2 tsp of oil to saucepan and heat. Add the fregole and toss it well in the oil. Add ½ cup of broth and then just a ladle at a time stirring the fregole (like doing a risotto) until it is soft but still has a slight bite—10 minutes or so. Serve about ½ cup fregole with each mushroom cap and some of the onions and garlic to each person. Garnish with chives.

Sautéed Scallops

Make a quick marinade of balsamic vinaigrette, rosemary oil and minced garlic and let the scallops sit in that for about 20 minutes. Sauté them quickly about 3 minutes on one side and 2 on the other. They cook fast and I like to turn off the heat and just let them sit a bit to finish cooking.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Clean Out the Fridge!

Tonight we are having leftovers. Have you ever looked in the refrigerator and you just knew there was a dinner in there although at first glance it was not readily apparent? So, tonight—here's the deal: I see a tupperware container of leftover frozen pasta in the freezer so there's my base! In the fridge I see a pkg. of turkey andouille sausage, a pkg. of spinach a little past its prime, a dab of leftover spaghetti sauce, half an onion, and some shredded mozzarella---ok--that's dinner!

Bowl Dinner

Defrost pasta

Saute sausage, throw in the onion—run out back and snip some basil
Add tomato sauce and throw in the spinach

Spoon into bowls and top with cheese.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day Feast!

Father’s Day Feast!

My husband and I are feeling like lucky ducks indeed. We had a wonderful Father’s Day Feast out on the deck this evening and enjoyed gifts that were given to both of us! We enjoyed a wonderful Montagne-Saint–Emilion given to me by a colleague as part of my retirement send-off. The wine guy told my friend to be sure the recipient would allow this wine to breathe a bit so I dutifully decanted it and I have to say it was tres magnifique!!

A few days ago our thoughtful son and future daughter-in-law sent us a bounty of frozen goodies—steaks, burgers, chicken, potatoes! We decided to go for the gorgeous sirloins for Father’s Day.

I had seen a wonderful marinade for steak the other day on the Splendid Table E-Newsletter I get on Wednesdays and decided to go for a really simple dinner of perfectly grilled sirloins and salad. It was splendid indeed—the wine was perfect, the steaks were perfect and we celebrated having such kind and loving family and friends!

The wine:

Château Tour Bayard

It really does like to breathe as it got better and better! YUM!


1 ½ tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp sweet paprika
2 tsp dried basil
3 Tbsp vodka
2 Tbsp honey
3 Tbsp olive oil
4 large garlic cloves, minced

Put all in food processor and blend. Pour over meat and marinate at least 30 minutes

We had 5 oz. sirloins and we like medium rare—so these cooked fast—like 2 minutes and then another two on the other side and then I covered them with foil and let them rest for five minutes. You’ll need to vary this depending on the size of your steaks and your preference.

The Salad:

Mixed greens
Vidalia onion sliced
A jar of quartered artichoke hearts
Feta cheese
Balsamic dressing (I used Paul Newman’s)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Low Cal Sweet!

Something that is low calorie and speaks to my sweet tooth is music to my ears. This Rhubarb-Dried Cherry Crumble would love to be paired with some vanilla frozen yogurt but poor me—I don’t have any! I guess that’s the way the crumble crumbles?? Boooooo

Rhubarb-Dried Cherry Crumble
Pam spray
4 cups of rhubarb, washed trimmed and cut into 1-inch slices
½ cup of no sugar strawberry preserves
½ cup dried cherries
2 T flaxseed, freshly ground in coffee mill
1 large orange, juiced (1/4 cup) and 1 T of its zest
1 t cinnamon
2 cups granola type cereal (I used Go Lean Honey Almond Flax) but many others would suffice
Maple syrup if desired

Spray 13 X 8 X 2 pan—combine all ingredients in pan. Don’t be concerned if mixture seems dry. Place the pan in cold oven, set the oven to 375 and bake uncovered 15 minutes. Stir and then continue baking until rhubarb is tender yet firm, 10 to 15 more minutes. Add maple syrup only if you need more sweetness. I like tart desserts so this works for me. A small scoop of frozen yogurt would be divine with it and also sweeten it up.

10 servings
Calories per serving: 169

Pictures are before and after baking:

It’s Grillin’ Season!

Tonight seemed like a good night for dinner on the deck. Decided on Indian Tandoori Chicken and Roasted Vegetables. You really need to marinate the chicken for quite a while so this is a dish you have to think about ahead of time!

*Indian Tandoori Chicken

2 lbs. chicken, cut into pieces
1 tsp salt
1 lemon juiced
1 ¼ cups yogurt
½ onion finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp grated fresh ginger root
2 tsp garam masala (which I didn’t have so I improvised by adding a tsp each of cumin and turmeric and a dash of dried chili pepper)
1 tsp cayenne pepper

A couple T of chopped cilantro and one lemon cut into wedges for garnishing the dish

1. Remove skin from chicken pieces and cut some slits into them lengthwise. Place in shallow dish and sprinkle with salt and lemon juice-set aside for 20 minutes

2. In medium bowl, combine yogurt, onion, garlic, and spices. Mix until smooth. Spread yogurt over chicken. I like to put this whole mess into Ziploc bags so I can easily turn over a few times in fridge while it marinates. Marinate for 6 to 24 hours (the longer the better. I made this early in the day and grilled around 7 PM.

3. Preheat outdoor grill for medium heat. Grease grill really well or this chicken will stick like crazy!

4. Cook chicken until no longer pink—this really depends a lot on your grill and how you normally cook chicken. Garnish with cilantro and lemon wedges. Be sure to squeeze lemon over your chicken before eating. My future daughter-in-law taught me this important step when eating Tandoori chicken!

*Recipe adapted from one found at

*Roasted Summer Vegetables

Prep: 20 minutes Roast: 30 minutes Oven: 425

3 peppers-red, yellow and green seeded and cut in ½ strips
2 medium red onions, each cut into 8 wedges
2 small yellow squash, cut into ½ inch
2 small zucchini squash, cut into ½ inch
4 T balsamic vinegar
2 T olive oil
½ tsp salt
Black pepper
2 tsp dried oregano
A little goat cheese to sprinkle on top at the end

1. Preheat oven to 425. In two ungreased 9 X 13 pans combine all the veggies

2. In small bowl whisk together the dressing-pour over veggies, toss to coat

3. Roast, uncovered about 30 minutes total stirring twice at ten-minute intervals.

* This recipe was adapted from one of my MANY cookbooks: 9 X 13 The Pan That Can

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Let's Get this Summer Started!

What says summer any better than a nice piece of gorgeous Alaskan salmon topped with a cool summer salsa? To round out the flavors, I've made a baked brown rice mixture with sauteed baby portobello mushrooms. Add a crisp Sauvignon Blanc and I believe summer has arrived!

Salmon with Summer Salsa

3/4 lb sockeye salmon

Make salsa early in the day:

1 mango, peeled and diced
1 cup red seedless grapeps, halved
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
Juice of one  lime
A big bunch of cilantro, chopped

Mix all together, cover and refrigerate to let flavors mingle. Who knows what might happen when mangoes and grapes are left to their own devices?

No Fail Baked Brown Rice

I have been using this baked rice for quite some time and I really like how it turns out. You can use just plain brown rice but I'm changing it up tonight and using a really wonderful Brown Rice Medley that I get at Trader Joe's. ( I love TJ's) It's a blend of long grain brown rice, black barley, and Daikon radish seeds. Sound odd? Not to me!

1 1/2 cups medley
2 1/3 cups water, brought to a boil OR chicken stock which is really much better (but we're watching salt)
Pkg. of baby portobellos chopped big chunks
2 tsp butter
1/2 tsp salt (you can use more if you like but I try to limit salt)

Preheat over 375 and Pam spray glass 8 X 8 baking dish
Saute mushrooms in butter--spread over rice and add salt
Pour boiling water over all. Cover the dish tightly with a double layer of foil and bake 1 hour

Remove dish from oven and uncover, fluff with fork and cover dish with clean dish towel for five minutes. Uncover and let stand another 5 minutes.

Cook salmon while rice is resting:

Spray skillet with Pam--put fish in skin side down--cook until fish begins to whiten on the sides--sprinkle with pepper. Flip fish over-skin should lift off fairly easily--pepper this side and finish cooking. Top cooked fish with salsa.