Monthly Archives: July 2013

Chopped Kale Salad with Tuna, Feta, and Lemon Vinaigrette

Kale salad with feta and tunaIt seems that I’ve been making a lot of ice cream, cupcakes, muffins, scones and pies this summer. Yum!!! But to keep balance, salad for dinner is my go-to. My kale salad eating friend was telling me about her favorite chopped kale salad. I’m not really sure what was on it, but it involved a lemon vinaigrette; that was enough for me. I returned from vacation to some beautiful ripe tomatoes in my garden (the yellow variety are featured here), so I had to include those. To make the salad an entree, I had to add some protein – I had feta and tuna available, so that decision was easy. I would add red or green onions, but I didn’t have any available. Kale is like the super super food, but it is coarse and a little bitter, this is why it’s best to chop it into small strips. I’ve read on-line about “massaging” the kale, but I didn’t do that – I figure if I didn’t get a massage, my food isn’t getting a massage. For the vinaigrette, I used pumpkin seed oil – because I had it and thought it would be a nice touch, which it was- but I’ve listed olive oil in the recipe.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 Bunch of Kale
  • 1-2 Tomatoes (Heirloom, Romas, or Cherry/Grape)
  • Feta Cheese – crumbled
  • White Albacore Tuna
  • Red or Green Onion – chopped

For the Lemon Vinaigrette:

  • 1/4 Cup Olive Oil (or specialty oil- such as pumpkin seed or avocado)
  • Juice of 2-3 Lemons
  • 1/2 tsp. Garlic- chopped
  • 1 tsp. Dijon Mustard
  • Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper

INSTRUCTIONS:

Combine all ingredients for the vinaigrette, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper, and shake well. Chop kale into fine ribbons and arrange on a plate. Add remaining ingredients and top with vinaigrette.

 

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Roasted Corn Risotto

Grilled Corn RisottoIt’s summertime and we eat fresh corn whenever possible. A week or so ago I posted instructions (it’s not really a recipe) for roasted corn on the grill.  As I mentioned in the post, I always have leftover roasted corn which is great because it has so many uses, but this is one of my favorites. You could certainly add other ingredients to this risotto – sauteed or roasted red peppers, scallions or leeks, and/or bacon (Yum!). Essentially, I cook the risotto until almost ready and then stir in roasted corn since it is already fully cooked. I really don’t know why risotto is so intimidating; granted, it requires constant attention, but it’s not difficult. We enjoyed this with Barbequed Chicken and it just tasted like summer!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 Cup Arborio Rice
  • 1- 1.5 Cup Roasted Corn (can substitute regular corn)- cut off the cob
  • 3-4 Cups Chicken Broth (hot)
  • 1 TBS. Olive Oil
  • 1/4 Cup Fresh Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper (to taste)

INSTRUCTIONS:

Heat chicken broth over medium heat and keep hot. Add olive oil to a medium saucepan and heat over medium; add rice to saucepan, saute for a few minutes and then add about 3/4 cup hot chicken broth, stirring constantly. risotto in brothCook until most of chicken broth is absorbed and then add another 3/4 cup hot broth, stirring constantly. When rice is approaching the ad dente (firm to the bite) phase, add corn. Add corn to risotto mixContinue cooking (adding more stock as necessary) until rice is tender but still al dente. Add parmesan cheese and season with salt and pepper.

Lemon Chicken with Fettuccine

Lemon Chicken cropedFettucini with Lemon Sauce and Basil

If you love lemon, you’ll enjoy this recipe. You certainly don’t have to pair the chicken with the pasta, but it just works so well and is a great way to use the “sauce” from the chicken. I made this while we were vacationing at a cottage on Lake Michigan; the kitchen was minimally equipped, the plates were all plastic, and the lighting wasn’t very good; so, my apologies for the lack of good photos. Also, I did not have a lemon zester available, so I used a vegetable peeler to remove the zest and then chopped the strips into small pieces. (Serves 4 – with leftovers)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts (Each butterflied and then cut into two thin pieces – optional)
  • 2/4 Cup Olive Oil
  •  6-8 Cloves Garlic- minced
  • 1/2 Cup Chicken Broth
  • Zest of 2 Lemons
  • Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice from 2 Lemons
  • 2-3 TBS. Dried Italian Herbs
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Extra Lemons – thinly sliced (optional- for garnish)
  • 2 TBS. Unsalted Butter
  • 1 LB. Fettuccine or favorite pasta
  • 1 Cup Fresh Basil- chopped
  • Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese
INSTRUCTIONS:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-low heat, add the garlic, and cook for just 1 minute until fragrant, but don’t allow the garlic to brown. Off the heat, add the chicken broth, lemon zest, lemon juice, oregano, thyme, and 1 teaspoon salt and pour into a 9 by 12-inch baking dish. (Set the pan aside for later use). Season the chicken breasts generously with salt and pepper and place them in the baking dish.Chicken ready for the oven Place the lemon slices (if using) on the pieces of chicken. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken breasts. While the chicken is cooking, prepare the pasta according to directions for pasta. Drain pasta and set aside. When the chicken is fully cooked, transfer the chicken, lemon slices (if using) and a few spoonfulls of sauce to a plate and cover tightly with foil to keep warm. Pour the sauce from the baking dish into the large saute pan, add two TBS. of butter and basil and heat briefly over medium heat. Add cooked pasta to pan and toss until well coated. Serve pasta alongside chicken and garnish with parmesan cheese.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup ice CreamThis is a new family favorite – as has been the case lately, my photography doesn’t do this ice cream justice. Part of the reason is that when I went to go get a scoop (to eat and photograph), I was surprised to find only a small dollop left. The cottage we’re staying at doesn’t have an ice cream scoop…who doesn’t want to eat ice cream on their summer vacation? So, I did my best to capture the essence of this delight. This ice cream is based on more of a gelato style recipe rather than a custard style ice cream – which means it doesn’t use eggs. However, most gelato recipes contain whole milk rather than cream- I used both. I can’t entirely blame my kids for overindulging in the ice cream- although I wouldn’t quite double the recipe (my little ice cream maker couldn’t quite handle that), but I would make a batch and a half. You can use as many peanut butter cups as you want; my kids asked for ” a lot.” It is important to freeze (at least partially) the peanut butter cups so that you can chop them more easily. You can always garnish with additional peanut butter cup pieces.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 Cups Milk (I used 2%)
  • 1 Cup Heavy Cream
  • 7 Oz. Milk Chocolate Chips (or chopped milk chocolate)
  • 1/4 Cup Sugar
  • 3 TBS. Cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp. Salt
  • 1 Cup Chopped Peanut Butter Cups (freeze first to make chopping easier) – about 12 miniature sized

INSTRUCTIONS:

Combine cornstarch, sugar and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Add enough milk to dissolve all of the dry ingredients and make a slurry. Add the remaining milk and cream to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil for 4 minutes (no more, no less). Remove from heat and add the cornstarch mixture. Return to heat and bring back to a boil, stirring constantly, until sugar is dissolved and mixture has thickened slightly. Pour hot milk/cream mixture over chocolate and whisk until chocolate is melted and incorporated. Pour mixture into a gallon sized ziplock bag, seal, and place in an ice bath – chill until completely chilled (at least 30 minutes). Pour the chilled mixture into the canister of an ice cream maker and process until thick and creamy. chocolate ice cream)When ice cream has reached desired consistency (about 15-25 minutes for most ice cream makers) add chopped peanut butter cups and allow to mix until incorporated. Transfer ice cream to an airtight storage container, cover with a layer of parchment paper, cover, and freeze until firm – about 4 hours. Garnish with extra chopped peanut butter cups if desired.

 

Sour Cherry Pie

Sour Cherry PieSour cherries are only available for about two weeks in late June/early July, so when I saw them at the Farmer’s Market, I had to seize the opportunity. Through July 17 006Unfortunately, when I bought them they were on week two, so when I went back the following week, they weren’t available 😦 . I really wanted to make a sour cherry sauce for vanilla ice cream (I’ve been on another ice cream making kick lately), and try a sauce for a pork loin; I will have to wait until next year. Pitting the cherries is a fair amount of work – I was lucky to have the help of a friend – the process was much more bearable. The pie is based on my basic berry pie recipe, it just includes a little extra sugar to compliment the sourness of the cherries. I didn’t have quite enough cherries to make two pies, but I did make a full pie plus two mini pies (in muffin tins -sorry, no picture). I sent the pie to a friend who was hosting my son at her cottage, and my cherry pitting friend and I enjoyed the mini tarts. I chose a lattice crust because I think it works really well with berry pies because the fruit often overflows, but you could use a standard crust (maybe with cut-outs) if you prefer. As with all of my pie recipes,  I always opt for store bought Pillsbury pie crust, but my tried and true homemade pie crust can be found with my recipe for Strawberry Rhubarb Pie.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 5 Cups Pitted Sour Cherries (about 2 Quarts Unpitted)
  • 1 Cup Sugar- plus extra for crust
  • 4 TBS. Cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp.  Salt
  • 1 tsp. Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 tsp. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 2 TBS. Unsalted Butter -cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 TBS. Milk

INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat oven to 425°F. In a medium bowl, combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt and blend. Pitted Sour CherriesStir in cherries, lemon juice, and vanilla; set aside.Combine ingredients

Place one round pie crust in a 9-inch glass pie dish. Trim dough overhang to 1/2 inch and flute the edges. Using a large knife or pastry wheel with fluted edge, cut ten 3/4-inch-wide strips from second dough round. Transfer filling to dough-lined dish, mounding slightly in center. Dot with butter. Add to pie shellArrange dough strips atop filling, forming lattice; trim dough strip overhang to 1/2 inch. Fold bottom crust up over ends of strips and crimp edges to seal. Brush lattice crust (not edges) with milk. Sprinkle lattice with additional sugar (about 1 TBS).Ready for the oven

Place pie on a foil lined rimmed baking sheet and bake 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375°F. Bake pie until filling is bubbling and crust is golden brown, covering edges with foil collar if browning too quickly, about 1 hour longer. Transfer pie to rack and cool completely.Ready for delivery

 

Grilled (Roasted) Corn

Roasted Corn - editedGrilled corn is a summertime favorite – a staple in our household. Years ago when I lived on a horse farm in New Hampshire, we would have a huge pig roast – almost as popular as the roasted pig was the roasted corn. We would soak the corn in the husks in a big bucket of water and then throw the corn on the grill. The corn essentially steamed in the husk, and it was tender and delicious, but it didn’t have that “roasted” flavor and it was inconvenient for guests to have to husk their own corn. Now when I grill corn, I simply brush it generously with olive oil and season it well with salt (Kosher or coarse sea salt works best) and pepper. On occasion I’ll add some cayenne or a cajun rub, but, mostly, I’m a traditionalist. When selecting corn, I’m of the school of thought that you should NOT peel back the husks to inspect the corn. My mother taught me that the minute the kernels are exposed, their sugars start reacting and the corn’s freshness is sacrificed. The trick is to just take your chances and, most importantly, just buy extra corn in case you come across one or two less than perfect ears. As fate would have it, I usually end up with all perfect ears which means I have extra for leftovers. Leftover grilled corn is great for roasted corn salsa, roasted corn risotto, or roasted corn mayonnaise for steak sandwiches. I’ve also used it in pasta salad, soups, and savory scones.

INSTRUCTIONS:

Heat a grill to about 300 Degrees. Shuck the corn and generously coat with olive oil. Season generously with salt and pepper or your favorite spicy seasoning mix. You can also sprinkle with fresh or dried herbs if you’d like – so many options! Place the corn on the grill (not directly over the flames/coals). photo (6)Roast for a couple of minutes (until the kernels start to brown) and then turn. Continue until roasted on all sides and tender to the bite.

Grilled Flank Steak and Garlic Herb Aioli Sandwiches

Through July 4th 045The picture doesn’t do these sandwiches justice – my sincere apologies. These were the sandwiches I featured at one of our recent concerts in the park. The sandwiches are pretty basic, but the key to the flavor is in the quality of the ingredients. I used great fresh Italian bread which I grilled, marinated flank steak, fresh artisan lettuce from the garden, and a garlic herb aioli made with fresh herbs. For a quick shortcut, you could make a garlic herb mayonnaise by simply combining fresh herbs, garlic and mayonnaise, but I think the aioli is worth the extra effort. You could add other ingredients such as grilled onion, red or yellow peppers, or substitute arugula for the lettuce. These sandwiches pack well and make great picnic fare – particularly when paired with a good pasta salad.

INGREDIENTS:

For the Marinade:

  • 3/4 Cup Dry White Wine
  • 1/2 Cup Olive Oil (plus a little extra for grilled bread)
  • 4 TBS. Onion (red, sweet, or white) – finely chopped
  • 4 Cloves Garlic – finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. Worcesteshire Pepper (or seasoned pepper)
  • 1 TBS. Red Wine Vinegar
  • 1 TBS. Dried Italian Herbs
  • 1 Flank Steak
  • 1 Loaf Italian Bread – sliced
  • Fresh Lettuce

For the Aioli:

  • 3 Cloves Garlic – finely chopped
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/2 Cup Olive Oil
  • 1 TBS. Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice
  • 1 tsp. Fresh Parsley- chopped
  • 1 tsp. Fresh Basil – chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. Fresh Thyme – chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. Fresh Rosemary – chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Freshly Ground Black Pepper

INSTRUCTIONS:

Combine the marinade ingredients in a glass baking dish or a bowl large enough to hold the marinade and steak. MarinadeAdd the steak and marinate for at least 2 hours – up to overnight.Flank Steak in Marinade In the meantime, prepare the aioli: combine the garlic, egg, lemon juice, herbs, salt and pepper in a food processor or blender and puree. Add the oil in a slow stream and continue to blend until the mixture has forms a thick emulsion. Garlic Herb Aioli

Prepare a charcoal or gas grill until preheated to about 450-500 degrees. Grill the flank steak for a few minutes on each side to desired doneness (I prefer medium rare); remove from the grill and let rest for at least ten minutes. Grilled Flank SteakBrush the bread on both sides with olive oil and grill on each side until lightly browned. After the meat has sufficiently rested, slice against the grain into thin slices.Slice Flank Steak Assemble the sandwiches by generously spreading the garlic herb aioli on one slice of breadGrilled Bread with Aioli; place a few slices of steak on another slice, Add Flank Steakcover with lettuce (and any other ingredients – if using) Top with Lettuceand top with the aioli covered sliced of bread.

 

 

 

4th of July Coconut Cake

photo (4)I first made this coconut cake for Easter; then I made it for Mother’s Day and then for my American Literature students, and, most recently, for the 4th of July. People who say they don’t like coconut, like this cake. It is dense, moist, and delicious. It’s perfect for Easter, was great for Mother’s Day because my former sister-in-law (who loves coconut) came over, and was a big hit with my American Lit. class – so how did I make the leap to 4th of July? Each year I enter our local city bake-off; I have always baked a pie, and I have always placed either 2nd or 3rd.  I’ve run out of pie ideas, so I decided to enter something different. Since everyone loves this coconut cake, I thought I would make that, but I had to find a way to make it festive, since the bake-off is part of our 4th of July celebration. I decided to dye the coconut flakes red and blue. I think the result was very festive and patriotic, and the judges agreed because I won 1st place overall (of the three categories). Because I made the cake late the night before the bake-off, I didn’t take any photos in process; I think I may have some from previous preparations, and I will post them if I come across them. In the meantime, I wanted to get the recipe posted since it has been requested by many.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 ¾ Cups Flour
  • 1 tsp. Baking Powder
  • ½ tsp. Baking Soda
  • ½ tsp. Salt (plus a pinch)
  • 1 ¾ Cup Sugar
  • 1 Cup Unsalted Butter (softened at room temperature)
  • 1 Cup of Sweetened Cream of Coconut (found with adult beverage mixers)
  • 4 Large Eggs
  • 1 tsp. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Cup Buttermilk

INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 Degrees. Grease and flour two high sided (at least 2 inches) 9 inch round cake pans.* In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, 1/.2 tsp. salt until well blended. Add sugar, butter and sweetened cream of coconut to a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Use an electric mixer to beat ingredients until fluffy. Separate the eggs and add the yolks to the mixture (reserve the whites) along with the vanilla – beat until combined. Add about ½ of the dry ingredient mixture followed by ½ of the buttermilk – mix until incorporated, and repeat until all dry ingredients and buttermilk are all incorporated. Add a pinch of salt to the egg whites and whisk until stiff but not dry. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter until combined.

Divide the cake batter between the two pans and place on a baking sheet or piece of foil (in case of overflow). Place in the center rack of preheated oven and bake for 45 minutes – or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. The cakes will be slightly browned, but do not allow to overbrown. Remove the cakes from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes. Run a knife along the rims of the pans to loosen the cakes and turn out onto a cooling rack. Allow to cool completely before frosting.

*If you don’t have high sided cake pans, fill cake pans about 2/3 full and use extra batter for cupcakes (you should get about 5 extra cupcakes).

For the Cream Cheese Frosting

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 -8 oz. Packages of Cream Cheese – softened to room temperature
  • ½ Cup butter – softened to room temperature
  • 2 Cups Powdered Sugar
  • ½ Cup Canned Sweetened Cream of Coconut (remainder of can used for cake)
  • 1 tsp. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 4 Cups Sweetened Coconut Flakes*

 INSTRUCTIONS:

In a medium size mixing bowl, beat cream cheese with electric mixer until fluffy. Add butter and beat until incorporated. Add sugar, cream of coconut and vanilla and beat until well blended. Frost the bottom layer of the cake (use about 1/3 of the frosting) and sprinkle with about 1 cup of the coconut flakes. Add top layer to cake and frost with remaining frosting – being sure to cover sides as well as top. Cover top and sides with remaining coconut flakes.

*Coconut flakes can be dyed festive colors by simply putting coconut flakes in a Ziploc bag and adding a few drops of food coloring. Mix until well combined.

Mediterranean Grilled Chicken Sandwich

Mediterranean Grilled Chicken Sandwich

Mediterranean Grilled Chicken Sandwich

We enjoyed these sandwiches the other week at our concert in the park. However, I originally created this sandwich as a thank you for an awesome IT tech who rescued all of my photos from my hard drive when my computer crashed recently. Yes, there is a lesson in that – back up your stuff!!! The sandwich features my standard grilled chicken breast, crispy proscuitto, roasted peppers and shallots and a garlic arugula mayonnaise. I used ciabatta rolls, but substitute your favorite roll/bread. This sandwich would be great as a panini, but since I wasn’t going to be able to serve the sandwiches hot, I didn’t grill them. The arugula mayo is made by combining arugula pesto with mayonnaise – you can use the extra pesto as a mix-in for a pasta salad which is a great accompaniment for this sandwich. If you happen to be serving anyone who has a nut allergy (as I was), simply eliminate the pine nuts – the pesto is still delicious. You can use any combination of toppings (or even use basil pesto if you prefer) – grilled or roasted tomatoes would be a great substitute if you don’t like roasted peppers. You can certainly add cheese, but I chose not too since the pasta salad I served had fresh mozerella.

INGREDIENTS:

  • Grilled Chicken Breasts (click to link to previous post)
  • Proscuitto (2 slices per sandwich)
  • 2 Red Peppers
  • 3 Large Shallots- thinly sliced
  • 4 TBS. Arugula Pesto (recipe follows)
  • 1/3-1/2 Cup Mayonnaise
  • Ciabatta Rolls (or other bread/rolls)
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper

INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat oven to 375 Degrees. Lay proscuitto in a single layer on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Bake proscuitto for 7-10 minutes until crispy. In the meantime, brush whole red peppers with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place peppers on a foil lined baking tray and roast for 45 minutes (turning every 20 minutes). Brush the shallot slices with olive oil and add to the baking sheet – roast with peppers for an additional 15 minutes. Remove peppers from the baking sheet and place in either a plastic or paper bag – allow to rest (and steam) for about 5 minutes. Peel the skin from the peppers and remove the stem and seeds – slice peppers into 1 inch strips. Combine the mayonnaise and pesto.

Assemble the sandwiches:  Add a grilled chicken breast, 2 slices of crispy proscuitto, 2 strips of roasted peppers, and a few roasted shallots to the bottom portion of the roll. Spread a generous layer of pesto mayo on the top slice of bun and add to the bottom portion. mediterranean grilled chicken sandwich

Arugula Pesto:

  • 4 Cups Arugula
  • 1/4 Cup Pine Nuts
  • 1/4 Cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 Cup Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Toast pine nuts in a small saute pan over medium heat until browned and aromatic. Blend arugula, pine nuts and Parmesan cheese in processor until almost smooth. With machine running, gradually add olive oil; process until well blended. Season pesto to taste with salt and pepper.

Basil Lemonade

Basil Lemonade

Basil Lemonade

It’s summertime, and summertime equals lemonade. This lemonade is perfect alone, but also serves as a great mixer for an adult version of lemonade (add your favorite vodka). I make a batch of the syrup and reserve some of it to add to fizzy (sparkling) water or iced tea, or you can make two batches of lemonade with one batch of syrup. The basil flavor is subtle but distinct. Since it’s concert in the park season, I’m a lemonade kick -so look for more recipes to come.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 Cups Basil (plus extra leaves for garnish)
  • 2 Cups Sugar
  • Zest of 3-4 Lemons*
  • 1 1/4 Cups Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice (use more if desired)
  • Water
  • Ice

*Use a vegetable peeler for large strips of zest. Reserve lemons for juice.

INSTRUCTIONS:

Add basil, lemon zest, sugar and 4 cups of water to a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sugar is completely dissolved. Allow to cool for 1 hour.  Transfer to a container and chill in refrigerator until completely cooled. Strain through a fine sieve and reserve syrup (makes about 4 cups basil lemon syrup).basil lemonade syrup

Combine 2 cups of basil lemon syrup with 1 1/4 cups of freshly squeezed lemon juice, 2 cups of cold water, and 2 cups of ice. Taste, and add more water or lemon juice as desired. Garnish with fresh lemon slices and extra basil leaves.