Saturday, July 31, 2010

Naan Pizza!

Naan Pizza!

Store-bought Naan bread makes a great base for a quick pizza. I looked in the fridge and saw:

½ jar of anchovy fillets
Handful of fresh spinach in the bottom of the bag
Goat cheese
Red onion, sliced
1 shallot
¼ cup kalamata olives

Begin: Slowly caramelized sliced onion and shallot in pan with a bit of olive oil.

Meanwhile, made a puree of anchovy by putting about seven anchovy fillets in processor with ½ T red wine vinegar and then drizzled in 1 T of olive oil.

Spread anchovy mixture on two naans. Rough chopped the spinach and put that on. Then the caramelized onion, olives and then the cheese.

Bake at 400 for ten minutes and enjoy!
Before baking

After baking

This dish really goes well with a sweet drink to complement the flavors of the pizza.

Try this for a refreshingly different twist on iced tea:

Mock jito

Brew 4 cups black tea I used Earl grey
While tea is hot add, 4 T of turbinado sugar, stir to dissolve
Chill tea
Seltzer water
1 lime sliced
Bunch of fresh mint

Fill tumbler with ice, fill 2/3 with tea, squeeze slice of fresh lime into glass, crumble in some fresh mint and top off with seltzer. Stir. Fancy straws optional :-)

Friday, July 30, 2010

Big Flavors!

This is a menu of big flavors. All three dishes have pretty big tastes but they actually complement each other pretty well—


Salmon with Tomato/Kalamata Salsa
Sesame Spinach
Smashed Roquefort Redskins

Tomato/Kalamata Salsa

1 plum tomato, diced
Handful of pitted Kalamata olives, sliced
1 banana pepper, seeded and chopped
A couple T of chopped fresh cilantro
Some salt and pepper
1 chopped shallot
A slice of red onion chopped
Juice of one lemon
A T of olive oil

Chop up all the items and mix in with the lemon juice and oil—let sit on the counter for an hour or so.

Serve over fish, chicken—whatever.

Sesame Spinach

½ bag fresh spinach
2 T Toasted Sesame Oil
2 T toasted sesame seeds

Heat a bit of olive oil in pan, throw in half a bag of fresh spinach and wilt
Drizzle some Toasted Sesame Oil over it and sprinkle with some toasted sesame seeds

Smashed Roquefort Red Skins

6 large red skins, cut in half
¼ of Roquefort vinaigrette (see earlier post)
Fresh cracked pepper

Cover redskins with water and boil 30 minutes or so. When cooked, smash 'em up and add the Roquefort vinaigrette. If you don't have that then do butter, sour cream, or yogurt.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Chimichurri-Take 2!


Grilled Flank Steak with Chimichurri
Smoked Paprika Grilled Redskins
Romine and Tomatoes Roquefort Vinaigrette (see earlier green bean recipe for dressing)

Last summer I made a grilled flank steak with chimichurri sauce (see Summer on the Deck-July 2009) and we liked the flavors a lot. I decided to try another recipe this time as chimichurri seems to be a bit like pesto—there are many variations on the same theme. This sauce is very pungent so be forewarned! I marinated the flank steak in some of the sauce for a couple of hours first. Then, used fresh sauce to drizzle over when I served the steak.

Chimichurri Sauce:

1 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
2 bay leaves
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves, finely chopped
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 1/2 cups extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Place the parsley, bay leaves, garlic, paprika, oregano, vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper in a food processor. Pulse until combined. Put the sauce in a glass or plastic container, using as needed. Chimichurri will last for up to 1 month, refrigerated. Makes 2 1/2 cups.

Smoked Paprika Grilled Redskins

8 red skins, washed and sliced into ¼ rounds
1 ½ T olive oil
1 ½ t smoked paprika

Whisk olive oil with paprika
Sit into potato rounds
Spread potatoes in center of double sheet tin foil—salt and pepper- and then close up package folding in edges to get a tight seal. Grill about 15 minutes on each side.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sunday Chicken!

When I was a kid my mom often made a big iron skillet full of browned chicken for Sunday night dinner. Tonight we'll have chicken but since it's summer, we'll use the grill and keep the heat out of the kitchen!


Grilled Rosemary Mustard Chicken
Baby Bella Mushrooms and Spinach
Arborio Rice with Shaved Parmesan

Make marinade. Score chicken on top to allow marinade to seep into chicken. Put chicken and marinade into ziplock bag and refrigerate. Marinate 4 to 6 hours.

4 boneless chicken breasts
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
1tsp. minced fresh or jarred garlic
3 T minced fresh rosemary
1 tsp. coarse ground black pepper

Preheat grill to high—Put chicken on grill and turn to medium. Grill five minutes. Turn chicken and grill another five minutes. Remove and cover with foil allowing the breasts to rest (they also continue to cook a bit as well)

Spinach and Mushrooms

Brown mushrooms in olive oil, then add half a big bag of fresh spinach (that you've rinsed). Once it's all wilted add a few T of white balsamic vinegar.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Tomatoes and Watermelon?

My new favorite refreshing summer salad is Tomatoes and Watermelon! You heard me. Some might think this a strange combo but I'm here to tell you not to knock it until you've tried it, seriously!

Tomato and Watermelon Salad

2 cups of seedless watermelon chunks
2 cups of cut up cherry tomatoes and a few Roma tomatoes in large dice
some feta cheese
some sea salt
some fresh basil slivers
¼ cup olive oil
a couple T of champagne vinegar (you could play around with other vinegar flavors too)

Mix tomatoes and watermelon in bowl. Whisk oil and vinegar and drizzle over combo—sprinkle with salt. Spoon mixture into individual bowls and sprinkle with some feta and basil slivers and prepare to tickle your taste buds.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Summer Salads

In the summer I sometimes like to cook early in the day and then let foods develop their flavors. At dinner time, all my work is done and I can just bring the dishes to room temperature, slice some bread and we're good to go! Two dishes that work well for this are an old fave of mine, Curried Chicken Salad and a new dish I just made for the first time, Fingerling Potato Salad with Sherry-Mustard Vinaigrette.

Curried Chicken Salad

4 chicken breasts
1 t salt
2 tomatoes, chunked
large cucumber, unpeeled and thinly sliced
½ cup canola oil
¼ cup vinegar (I used apple cider)
2 t salt
¼ t pepper
1 t curry powder.

Poach the chicken however you like. I cover the breasts with salted water and bring to a boil, then turn to a simmer for about ten minutes then turn off the heat and let the chicken cool in the pan for about 25 minutes. Cut chicken into large bite size chunks.
Whisk the dressing ingredients and mix into chicken, tomatoes and cukes. Allow to marinate for flavors to develop.

Fingerling Potato Salad with Sherry-Mustard Vinaigrette

This is an adaptation form a recipe that I found on I always adapt recipes to what I have on hand and what I like!

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon Sherry wine vinegar
1/4 cup canola oil
Handful of fresh oregano leaves
Fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

2 pounds fingerling potatoes (such as Ruby Crescent or Russian Banana)
2 1/4-inch-thick slices smoked bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick strips
2 small shallots, thinly sliced
2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled, chopped
Handful of chopped fresh chives (could use green onion)

For vinaigrette:
Combine mustard and vinegar in small bowl. Whisk in oil, then herbs. Season with sea salt and pepper.
For potatoes:
Preheat oven to 400°F. Arrange potatoes on baking sheet , cover with foil and bake until potatoes are tender, about 1 hour. This really depends on the size of your fingerling potatoes—some are quite small so wouldn't need an hour but if they're a bit bigger then 45 min to an hour should work. Cool to lukewarm.
Meanwhile, cook bacon in medium skillet over medium heat until brown and crisp. Transfer to paper towels to drain.
Cut potatoes in half lengthwise. Place warm potatoes in medium bowl. Add bacon, shallots, eggs, chives, and vinaigrette. Toss well and serve.

Summer Flavors

A friend gave me green beans from her garden so this menu evolved:

Burgers with pepper jack cheese and carmelized onions
Green Beans a la Roquefort
Corn on the Cob

Green Beans a la Roquefort

If you hate all things blue cheese, read no further. This is a rather pungent green bean side dish due to the strong flavor of Roquefort cheese.

½ cup olive oil
2 T red wine vinegar
1 T lemon juice
¼ t Worcestershire sauce
½ t minced garlic
1 anchovy fillet mashed (or 1 t anchovy paste)
3 oz Roquefort cheese
2 lbs. green beans, trimmed
1/3 cup toasted pecans or walnuts
black pepper

Whisk together first five ingredients, then mash in the roquefort cheese, add some pepper.

Cook beans until crisp tender or how you like them—I like them a little more tender but some people like really crisp beans—so suit yourself! Cool beans quickly in ice cold water to retain their bright color.

Toss with ½ cup dressing adding more if you want. Toss with nuts and some more black pepper to taste. Let sit to allow flavors to develop. Can eat these at room temp or even heated a bit in the microwave right before serving. Husband likes them warmed as he says it intensifies cheese flavor—not for faint of heart!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Mediterranean Feast!

Menu for the feast:

Hummus and pita chips
Store-bought stuffed grape leaves

Tabbouleh with Garbanzos
Vegetable Moussaka
Grilled Veggie Kabobs
Whole Wheat Baguette with Roasted Garlic

Tabbouleh with Garbanzos

1-1/2 cups bulgur wheat
1 medium-large tomato, diced
1 medium cucumber peeled and diced
Generous 1/2 cup diced onion
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (I used even more lemon juice)
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 large clove garlic, minced
One 15-ounce can garbanzo beans, drained
1/3 cup lightly toasted pine nuts
1/3 cup currants, (I used dried cherries)
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
A few pinches each of cinnamon and cayenne

Put the bulgur in a large bowl and add 1-1/2 cups boiling water. Stir and let stand for 30 minutes to 1 hour. If necessary, drain excess water from the bulgur. Add the tomato, cucumber, and onion, and season lightly with salt and pepper.
In a small bowl, combine the oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and garlic and stir well with a fork.

Add the garbanzos and cherries to the bulgur. Sprinkle with the basil and parsley and add the spices. Drizzle the dressing over the tabbouleh and toss well. Let the salad stand for about 30 minutes before serving and taste again for seasoning; you may need a little more oil, lemon juice, salt, or pepper.
The salad can be prepared in advance and kept at cool room temperature, or if refrigerated, allowed to come to room temperature before serving. I added the pine nuts right before serving.

Grilled Vegetable Kabobs

I marinated zucchini chunks, large mushrooms, yellow  and orange pepper and red onion in the juice of one lemon, 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar and black pepper for several hours-then grilled for ten minutes. Pictures show before and after grilling:

Vegetable Moussaka

1 large eggplant (1 ¼ pounds) ends trimmed cut width-wise in ¼ inch rounds
Some olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves minced
1 15 oz can of lentils drained
1 can diced tomatoes with juices
¼ cup parsley
1 t oregano
¼ t cinnamon
¼ t salt
Ground pepper
½ cup fat free half and half
2 large eggs
¼ cup Parmesan cheese
1/8 t freshly ground nutmeg
Cooking spray

Heat oven to 425

Lightly coat eggplant slices with cooking spray and arrange on baking sheet. Bake until golden-20 to 25 minutes. Reduce oven to 350

Meanwhile in large pan heat some olive oil and cook onion until translucent, throw in the garlic (if I do this too early I always burn my garlic). Add lentils, tomatoes, parsley oregano, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook about 20 minutes.

While eggplant and lentils are cooking, whisk together half and half, eggs, and 2 T of the cheese and nutmeg. (I really think buying the whole nutmeg and grating it fresh for this is nice-but using regular ground nutmeg works just fine too).

Lightly coat an 8 X 8 baking dish with cooking spray. Arrange one-third of eggplant in a single layer in dish. Spread half the lentil mixture over the top. Repeat with remaining eggplant and lentil mixture ending with a layer of eggplant. Pour half and half mixture over all sprinkling with remaining Parmesan. Cover with foil.

Bake moussaka covered 20 minutes, then remove foil and bake 15 minutes longer or until heated through and golden on top. Let stand 15 minutes before cutting. Serve warm.

Leftover Corn on the Cob?

Black Bean and Corn Salad

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
4 cooked cobs of corn-cut kernels off cob
1 small red pepper chopped
½ red onion, chopped
1 ½ t ground cumin
1 lime, juiced
2 t of hot sauce—I used Green Tabasco
2 T olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in bowl and let stand at least 15 minutes to develop flavor.