Monday, July 11, 2016

Scenes from My Pantry: Tabbouleh Summer Salad

Tabbouleh is a Middle Eastern salad traditionally made with parsley, mint, tomatoes, bulgur (cracked wheat) lemon juice and olive oil.   Like the spelling of Tabbouleh or  Taboule, or Tabouli, the variations are endless.  Traditional Lebanese and Israeli versions are focused squarely on the herbs, and the bulgur is meant only to be a garnish. 

My version adheres to the general principles of good tabbouleh, but like my personality I rarely follow the rules.  However, there is a cardinal rule in Tabbouleh which cannot be broken no matter what part of the world you prepare and enjoy this salad. The ingredients must absolutely be FRESH.

Let's start with the parsley. You are going to need a lot.  Mint?  You will need quite a bit too. Oh yeah, I use a lot of bulgur too, and chopped cucumbers, so get ready to break the rules.  No matter how you prepare this salad, its refreshing, healthy and delicious. You can serve it as vegetarian entree or simply as a side dish.




Tabbouleh Summer Salad
Serves 4-6

Ingredients:
2 cups bulgur (cracked wheat), pre-soaked.
3 cups parsley, finely chopped
1/2 cup fresh mint, finely chopped
1/2 white onion, or 3 scallions, finely chopped
1 large cucumber, seeded and finely chopped
3 medium ripe (firm) tomatoes, seeded, and finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Directions:
Pre-soak bulgur: Place 1 cup bulgur in a bowl.  Pour 1 cup boiling water over bulgur and let stand for an hour ( Yields: 2 cups of bulgur)

In a large bowl mix all the ingredients together, except for the lemon juice and olive oil. Gently toss to mix the ingredients.

Add lemon juice and olive oil. Gently blend again. Cover and chill for at least hour to allow the flavors to develop.

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Monday, July 4, 2016

Savoring the Season: Grilled Spiced Corn with Bacon


Growing-up there was only one way to eat sweet fresh corn and that was boiled.  My corn on the cob was always dressed the same.  A corn holder for each side, a pat of butter, salt and pepper.   I spent a lifetime eating corn without the slightest of variance.  Why? because it was good, it felt right and it never occurred to me it could be even better.

Do you know how to take fresh sweet summer corn and have a peak experience eating it?   Kick it up, spice it up and grill it up! Put some char on those kernels!  You will never eat corn the same way again.



Grilled Spiced Corn with Bacon
Serves 4
Recipe from All Recipes


Ingredients:
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1-1/2 teaspoons olive oil
4 ears corn, husks and silks removed
4 slices bacon  (thinly sliced)

Directions:
1.  Preheat an outdoor grill to medium-high heat  (375 F to 450 F)

2.  Stir together chili powder, coriander, cumin, oregano, and oil in a small bowl.  Rub mixture over corn.  Wrap each ear of corn in a bacon slice so that the bacon goes from one end of the ear to the other, without covering the whole ear.  Wrap corn in heavy-duty foil or a double layer of regular foil.

3.  Grill until bacon is cooked (it won't be crisp) and corn is piping hot, 20 to 25 minutes.  For crisp bacon, carefully remove corn from foil and grill it directly on grate for about 2 minutes more.

Enjoy!




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Thursday, May 26, 2016

How Does My Garden Grow: Summer Vegetable Salad

The summer garden is in full swing. The beans are abundant, squashes are arriving, tomatoes are ripening, spring onions are ready, and we have harvested the last of the remaining spring carrots and beets.

Mother Nature produces phenomenal flavors and textures, and she intends for you to enjoy it as close to nature as possible.  This salad stays close to its roots and is made with only a handful of fresh ingredients.  If you have ever played in the dirt (a/k/a gardening) and harvested fresh vegetables then I don't have to describe the phenomenal flavors, colors and textures.

If you enjoy summer vegetables salads don't limit yourself to only the ingredients listed here in my recipe.  Mix and match, and use what is seasonally available. 

An important ingredient in dressing salads is olive oil and all olive oils are not created equal.  Think of olive oil like wine and find the right match.  In this salad I created a light vinaigrette using a Tuscan style citrus blend (lemon, lime and tangerine) olive oil which adds brightness and paired perfectly with this fresh summer salad.  If you are interested in high quality olive oils then check out  Pasolivo Olive Oils hand crafted olive oils from California.


Salads like this one remind me at the end of the day simple is indeed best.



Summer Vegetable Salad
Serves 6


Ingredients:
1-lb. Use any combination mixed fresh beans,  cut into thirds 
1-2 zucchini sliced and cut into 1' quarters
1-2 large carrots, peeled and cut into thick slices
2 cups cherry tomatoes, quartered
Medium onion, chopped
1 cup good quality feta cheese

For the Vinaigrette 
1/4 cup Pasolivo olive oil or other high quality olive oil
2 Tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Pinch of Kosher salt
Pinch of Fresh ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried basil  (if using fresh double the amount)
1 teaspoon dried Oregano (if using fresh double the amount)

Directions:
Prep all the vegetables. Bring a large pot with a pinch of salt to a boil.  Add vegetables and cook 2-3 minutes.  Immediately drain and then add to an ice water bath to stop cooking (Tip: Keeps vegetables bright). Drain well.  Add vegetables to a large bowl.

For the Vinaigrette:
In a small bowl whisk together vinegar,  salt, black pepper, mustard, basil and oregano.  Slowly whisk  in olive oil to emulsify.

Note: You can add all the salad dressing ingredients in a small jar and shake until the dressing is emulsified.

Enjoy!


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Sunday, April 24, 2016

Keeping it Simple: Potato and Kale Soup


Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated~Confucius

There is nothing complicated here.  Only a few fresh ingredients needed.  Take a moment and savor the simplicity.


Potato and Kale Soup
Serves 6


Ingredients:
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 strips applewood bacon, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1-2 large carrots, diced
6 medium yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
A half-bunch fresh kale leaves (8-10) with the stem removed, chopped
8 cups chicken stock
1 can cannelloni beans drained
A good pinch of kosher salt
Fresh ground black pepper

Directions:
In a 6-quart Dutch oven over medium heat, heat olive oil.  Add bacon, onion. and carrot.  Sauté until the onion is translucent and the bacon is slightly crisp (3-5 minutes).  Add garlic, pinch of salt and ground black pepper.  Cook another minute.  Add kale.  Cook another 3-5 minutes until kale has wilted.  Add chicken stock, beans and potatoes.

Simmer for approximately 25-30 minutes.  Soup is done when potatoes are easily pierced with a fork and kale is tender.

Enjoy!



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Monday, March 28, 2016

Shout out to all my Peeps



I am late to the party!  






Happy Easter!  



Pink Bunny Martini
Serves 3

Ingredients:
1-12 ounce frozen Raspberry Lemonade concentrate
8-ounces gin  (adjust the amount of gin to your own taste)
12-ounces tonic water


Directions:
In a tall pitcher, mix raspberry lemonade concentrate, gin and tonic water. Blend well. Serve ice cold.

Note: To make the sugar rim. Use white sugar with a few drops of neon color pink food dye or use a very small amount of red food dye and blend well.


Enjoy!



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Thursday, March 17, 2016

Spicy Ramen Stir Fry with Broccoli, Tofu, and Mandarin Oranges

My post-parenting years begin soon.  We are moving from a child focused life, back to our own lives.  As parents of two amazing sons, who are fiercely independent, intelligent, humorous, kind and inspiring, this would be the time in our lives we pat ourselves on the back for a job well-done.  If only it were that easy.

I remember like it was yesterday when our older son came by the house the night before he moved to Texas.  We thought it would be less difficult because he had been on his own for awhile, but when he left that evening there was a swell of emotions.  It was the moment when you realize your son is grown-up, he is ready.  Your job was to let him go and it was hard.

Our youngest son will be heading off to college this summer.   He is excited.   We are excited for him. He is ready to fly.  Our job once again is to let him go, and again, it is going to be hard.

We have spent half of our lives raising children and getting them ready for their future.  As our last child steps out, we have to step out too.   I think we are ready.  

What does a meal have to do with a empty nest?  A lot.  How we cook for our children is different than how we would choose to cook for ourselves. Proof is this simple stir fry using plain ramen noodles, broccoli, mandarin oranges and baked tofu make for a quick weeknight meal.



Spicy Ramen Stir-Fry with Broccoli, Tofu, and Mandarin Oranges
Serves 4
Recipe from Vegetarian Times



Ingredients:
1 7-oz package baked tofu, cubed
3 cups small broccoli florets
4 mandarin oranges, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons hot-chile sesame oil
1 3-oz package plain ramen noodles

Directions:
Combine tofu, broccoli, orange segments, and hot-chile sesame oil in medium bowl, stirring to coat evenly.  Marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Cook noodles according to package directions; drain, reserving 1/4 cup cooking water.  Set aside.

Heat wok or large skillet over medium-high heat, and coat with cooking spray,  Add broccoli mixture, and stir-fry 7 to 8 minutes, or until tofu is browned and broccoli is tender.

Add noodles to skillet, and toss to combine with vegetables, adding cooking water to moisten.  Season with salt and more hot-chile sesame oil, if desired.

Enjoy!











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Thursday, February 18, 2016

Stove to Table within 30 minutes: Moroccan Lentil Stew with Raisins

This lentil stew with raisins is considered a traditional Moroccan comfort soup much like our beloved chicken soup.   Chick peas, lentils, and golden raisins stew in a savory tomato broth with cinnamon, cumin and red pepper.   Dried fruits are a staple in a Moroccan kitchen and the raisins here are a perfect addition to adding just a hint of sweetness, while reducing the acidity of the tomatoes in this comforting and hearty stew. 

No one will ever guess that this stew is prepared with store bought quality convenience foods which makes eating healthy more easy.  What's even better?  You can have this entree from stove to table in about 30 minutes.  Want to serve a crowd?  Serve the stew over couscous or potatoes family style.


Note: If you live locally and are interested in learning about Moroccan cuisine I will be hosting a cooking demonstration at Brown's Kitchen on Saturday, March 12.   You can call (850) 385-5665 to reserve your seat.  We will be exploring the fragrant spices of Morocco and indulging in the vibrant flavors of North Africa.

Menu: 
Star Anise Cinnamon Cocktail
Lemon and Coriander Marinated Olives
Chicken with Preserved Lemons and Olives served with couscous
Moroccan Tomato Salad
and finish with a sweet mint tea



Moroccan Lentil Stew with Raisins
Serves 6
Recipe from Vegetarian Times



Ingredients:
1 cup chopped onions
3 cloves garlic, minced (1 Tbs.)
1-28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
2-18 ounce cartons prepared lentil soup
1- 15 ounce can chick peas, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup raisins or dried currants
2 tsp. ground cinnamon, or to taste
1-1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes, or to taste
6 Tbs. plain non-fat Greek yogurt or soy yogurt optional

Directions:
1.  Heat oil in a medium saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add onion, and sauté 3 minutes, or until softened and translucent.  Add garlic, and cook 1 minute, or until garlic is softened, but not browned, stirring constantly.

2.  Stir in tomatoes, soup, chick peas, raisins, cinnamon, cumin, and red pepper flakes.  Season with salt and pepper, if desired.  Bring stew to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally.

3.  Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, uncovered, 20 minutes, or until mixture is reduced and sauce has thickened, stirring often from bottom to prevent sticking.  Garnish each serving with 1 Tbs. yogurt, if using.

Enjoy!

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