Monthly Archive for May, 2012

Hitting the Pause Button

While you know how much I enjoy blogging, I am opting to take a few weeks off. Since so much of blogging is about being transparent, I want to tell you that the pause I am taking is due to the fact that last week we had a fire in our home. We are all fine, though admittedly somewhat shaken up. We are unable to live in our home for the time being, but we consider ourselves very lucky that we are all OK. While I managed to persevere and blog through our kitchen remodel with limited resources, I think it is time to pull the ‘uncle’ card. At this point, we have to eat out, so I am not creating meals in the kitchen. While I realize it seems like a dream come true to many to eat out, if you know me, you know that more than eating out, I L-O-V-E to eat in! To be able to work with the freshest seasonal ingredients to create delectable magic is one of the things that makes me happy. So please understand why that at this time I am going to step back…just for a short while, I hope see you blogside by the 4th of July.

Mango Coconut Salad

Mangos are such a lovely fruit to pair with salad greens, and the nutty crunch of the coconut gives this simple salad just enough texture to be flavorful without having a dry texture. This dish is an easy addition to a summer BBQ or is lovely as a stand-alone lunch plate. To turn this salad into an entree add some chicken, cooked prawns, or scallops. You shouldn’t feel guilty that this meal will take you all of 15 minutes to pull together. A tavola!

Mango Coconut Salad & Citrus Vinaigrette

Salad Ingredients

2 ripe mangoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped (either use champagne or red blush mangos)

4 cup mixed greens, washed and dried

1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1/4 cup goat cheese, crumbled

Citrus Vinaigrette

Vinaigrette Ingredients

1/2 cup freshly squeezed citrus (blood oranges, oranges, limes etc.)

1/2 shallot, minced

2 TBS Champagne vinegar

2 tsps extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Salad & Dressing Assembly Directions

Prepare the vinaigrette: Place citrus juice, shallots, vinegar, and salt in a small bowl. Let shallots macerate for 30 minutes. Whisk in the olive oil.

Heat a small skillet over medium high heat. Add in the coconut and stir until golden brown and fragrant, about 3-5 minutes. Let cool.

In a large salad bowl, toss together lettuces, mango and the citrus vinaigrette. Taste and adjust salt and pepper seasonings. Garnish with toasted coconut. Serve immediately.

Note: To turn this into an entree top chicken or fish.

Serves 2.

Cyber Dinner Par-tay & Peruvian Minestrone

A food bloggers nirvana – invite a few of your all time favorite bloggers to share a Sunday night dinner with you. The challenge, we all live in different cities. The next best option was to host a virtual pot luck. The invites were sent and I couldn’t be more honored than to have had this group of ladies join me for a night of foodie fun as they sampled recipes from Taste This! The Delicious Sequel. While I hate the expression “It’s a win, win!” I do believe this is just that. Here’s why. Each of us made a dish to share for this virtual dinner party. Those that feasted on a new recipe enjoyed the spoils (WIN), those of you reading this post get sneak peak at a few more recipes from my new cookbook (and new wine pairing suggestions) along with the chance to win a copy of the cookbook (WIN). Add it up and you’ve got the recipe for a WIN WIN. Now let’s get down to business >ahem, I mean cooking!<.

MENU AND BLOGGER (Note: each blogger has book to give away, to find out how to win take a gander at the links below)

Cocktails- Cuban Mojito blogged by Illina Ewens

Appetizer- Gorgonzola Cheese Ball & Olive Tapanade blogged by Ana Picazo

Wine- Carmenère, Malbec, and Sauvignon Blanc Pairing Selections blogged by Stacy DeFino

Main Course- Peruvian Minestrone blogged by ME/see below

Dessert- King’s Cupcakes blogged by Stacy Libby

I’d like to introduce you to the faces behind the blogs.

Cocktails- by Illina Ewens at Dirt and Noise

Appetizer- by Ana Picazo at BonggaMom

Wine- by Stacy DeFino at Wineobee

Dessert- by Stacy Libby at LapTopTVMom

The recipe I made for my special group of friends is one that my dear friend from Peru, Rosa, made for me many years ago. While the shopping list for this recipe is a bit longer than many of the recipes in Taste This! The Delicious Sequel it is worth the little bit of extra time it takes to make this dish.

Peruvian Minestrone

Pesto Ingredients

4 cups basil leaves, stems removed

¼ cup olive oil

¾ cup Parmesan cheese, grated

1/3 cup ricotta or Queso Fresco

salt and ground black pepper to taste

Soup Ingredients

2 cups (13 oz) pasta (penne, rigatoni, fusilli or bow ties)

½ tsp garlic, crushed

2 lbs top sirloin, cut into 1-inch pieces

2 TBS olive oil

10 cups water

1 cube beef bouillon

salt and ground black pepper to taste

1 cup carrot, diced

1 ½ cups green cabbage, chopped

½ cup leek, cleaned and chopped

½ cup peas

1 cup zucchini, diced

2 large cobs of corn, cut into 1 ½ inch sliced rounds with cob included

2 medium white potatoes, diced

Blend together all pesto ingredients until smooth.

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and sprinkle with olive oil. Mix well so that it does not stick together while the rest of the dish is being prepared.

In a large pan, sauté garlic in oil, and brown sirloin. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a large soup pot, over high heat, add water, beef bouillon, sirloin, salt and pepper, and bring to a boil, cooking meat until tender. Turn heat to medium and add all vegetables EXCEPT potatoes and corn.

Add potatoes and cook for 5-8 minutes, stirring frequently. Add corn and cook an additional 5 minutes on medium-high. Before serving, add pasta to warm it, approximately 2-3 minutes. Finally, add pesto and season to taste.

Serve with grated Parmesan cheese on top.

Note: To save time, a ½ cup high-grade store bought pesto sauce can be substituted in place of basil, olive oil, salt and pepper.

While serving corn rounds in the soup is the tradition for Peruvians, some diners are uncomfortable reaching into the soup with their fingers to eat the corn. If diners are up for the challenge, encourage them to eat the corn last, allowing it to cool. Alternatively, substitute fresh corn kernels cut off of the cob, as opposed to frozen or canned corn, which tend to be too soft.

Serves 6-8

Thank you Ilina, Ana, Stacy D. and Stacy L. it was so much fun having dinner with you this past weekend.

Salmon Avocado Salad Cups & Petite Lentil Salad

With our house under construction, and a dietary cleanse underway, I am challenged to learn new ways to eat with limited resources. I am craving nothing less than the freshest foods and this meal hits the spot. It isn’t an overly fussy dish but it is a wonderful summer meal for lunch or dinner. Field greens could easily be added to build out a larger plate. And if you are not dieting, a large crusty loaf of french bread and a glass of crisp white wine would be the perfect accompaniments.

Lentil Salad can be made in advance and kept in refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Salmon Avocado Salad

Dressing Ingredients

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1 tsp white wine or champagne viniagrette

1 tsp fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Salad Ingredients

1 TBS capers

1 (4 oz) package thinly sliced lox (Trader Joe’s Brand Preferred), medium chop

1 large tomato, finely chopped

1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped

1/4 cup celery, finely chopped

1 green onion, finely chopped

3 avocados

Dressing Directions

In a small bowl. Whisk together first 6 ingredients. Set aside.

Salad Directions

In a large bowl, gently toss all salad ingredients together. Half avocados and coat with lemon juice. Fill each avocado with the salad filling and arrange on a serving platter. Serve immediately.

Petite Lentil Salad

Lentil Salad Ingredients

1 bag petite lentils, cooked al dente

1-2 carrots, finely chopped

1 stick celery, finely chopped

1 cup English cucumber, finely chopped

1/2 cup Italian parsley, finely chopped

1/4 cup olive oil

1 Meyer lemon, juiced (1/2 cup)

2 tsps white wine vinegar

2 tsps garlic salt

pepper to taste

Lentil Salad Directions

In a large bowl, mix together lentils, carrots, celery, cucumber and parsley.

In small bowl, combine lemon juice, vinegar, garlic salt and pepper to taste. Pour over lentil salad.