Sunday, June 15, 2008

Salad Nicoise

Salad Nicoise
Serves 2
  • 1 6 ounce can of albacore tuna in water, drained
  • 16 string beans, or if available, haricot verts, blanched
  • 4 red new potatoes and 4 white new potatoes, boiled and halved
  • 1 plum tomato, seeded and diced
  • 1 hardboiled egg, peeled and halved lengthwise
  • 4 tbsp pitted, good quality black niciose olives, chopped
  • two large handfuls of spring mix field greens

For the vinaigrette:

  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 10 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tblsp minced chives
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh dill
  • 2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh basil leaves
  • combine the vinegar, mustard, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and slowly whisk in the olive oil to make an emulsion
  • add the chives, dill, parsley, basil, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and whisk (alternatively, add all ingredients to a small blender and pulse until combined

To assemble the salad

  • toss the greens with half the vinaigrette and distribute evenly between two plates
  • toss the potatoes with the rest of the vinaigrette and set aside
  • evenly divde the greens and arrange and distribute the tuna, tomato, olives, tossed potatoes, each hard boiled egg half and green beans on top of the two plates of greens and top with freshly ground pepper

note: this could easily be made vegan by omitting the egg and tuna-some kind of meat substitute such as marinated tempeh or wheat gluten could be used instead.


Sunday, April 20, 2008

Caprese Salad Rolls and Fresh Pea Soup with Mint

YAY! Spring has sprung and my fresh herbs are up and ready. Actually, I bought some hydroponically grown basil that I am going to plant, but my mint, dill, curly parsley and chives are already growing well of their own volition. Also, I have a bunch of purple lilacs on my kitchen table wafting their scent through the gentle breeze that the open door of upstair's back porch affords. Hmmm. Lovely. I had to find ways to use all of my herbs to honor the season, and these dishes allow for just that...and were so so yummy! Finished product? A delicious lunch, ooo!, and a product review to boot.


Caprese Salad Rolls (serves 1)-me so lonesome

  • one Alexis brand frozen, ciabatta rosemary and olive oil roll
  • two slices fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 6 large, fresh basil leaves
  • 2 slices plum tomato
  • olive oil, salt and pepper
  • preheat oven to 400 degrees and bake the roll on foil for 8 minutes
  • slice roll in half and drizzle with olive oil
  • layer 1 of the plum tomato, 1 slice of cheese, and 3 of the the basil leaves on top of the bottom half of the roll and season with a little bit of salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • repeat and top with the top half of roll
The rolls were so good! I thought I might be dissappointed, but they really delivered. A crispy, crunchy crust outside and warm and chewy on the inside with a touch of rosemary flavor; the perfect accompaniment to turn my salad into a sammy. Buy these rolls!

Fresh Pea Soup with Mint

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 c chopped leeks, white and light green parts
  • 1/2 of a small onion, chopped
  • 2 c veggie stock
  • 1 (10-ounce) package frozen peas
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 c half and half
  • freshly chopped chives to garnish
  • heat the butter in a large saucepan
  • add the leeks and onion, and cook over medium-low heat for 5 to 10 min, until tender
  • add the stock, increase the heat to high, and bring to a boil
  • add the peas and cook until the peas are tender, 3 min
  • turn off the heat, add the mint, salt, and pepper
  • Puree the soup in a blender, a food processor, or with an emulsion blender
  • whisk in the half and half and garnish with chives

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Best Peep Show in Town


Cod and Veggies in Foil Parcels

WOW! I never thought that something so very easy could be so absolutely delicious. I mean-there weren't even dishes to wash, just a cutting board and a knife. This recipe serves only 1, but it could easily be made to serve as many as needed. Just make an individual foil parcel for everyone, and oh, if serving to company, plates may be needed!

I've been alone a lot these days, especially now that scupper started preschool. I've been really busy though, and I am starting school in the second week of April. So expect a lot of quick and easy meals like these and in single portions. Gone are the days of cooking for friends, Oven Roasted Tomatoes, and individual Spanokopita triangles. In fact, half the time, I've been eating vegetarian products from the supermarket. So coming soon will be reviews of a lot of things one finds in the organic veggie section of the supermarket and creative ways to use them efficiently to create easy, healthy meals.

Cod and Veggies in Foil Parcels
(for a more elegant presentation, use parchment paper and serve with boiled parley new potatoes or stuffed baked potatoes)

  • 3-5 ounces cod or other firm fleshed white fish
  • one large handful of baby spinach
  • one handful of carrot matchsticks or julienned carrots
  • 5 spears of asparagus, cut on the diagonal
  • 1/2 of a small leek, cleaned and thinly sliced
  • 3 thinly sliced lemon round
  • olive oil
  • sea salt and black pepper
  • butter
  • preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • put the handful of spinach in the center of a large piece of aluminum foil
  • somewhat evenly distribute the carrots and asparagus over the spinach
  • put the fish in the center of the veggies, lightly drizzle all with olive oil, and sprinkle all liberally with salt and pepper
  • put the leeks on top of the fish, add the lemons, and dot everything with butter
  • wrap up the foil to make a parcel and bake until fish is opaque, about 15-20 minutes.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Smoked Salmon Quesadillas

It always cracks me up when I have to publish a photo that shows something half eaten (like this one or my puffed pastry tart.) Actually, it just means that it was so irresistibly scrumptious that I simply couldn't wait to dig in. This was a satisfying late night snack/dinner I came up with one night after work. It also would probably make a really good hors d'oeuvre for a party if it was cut into smaller triangles or if smaller tortillas were used (maybe using a 3" round cookie cutter to make individual tiny ones? cute!) I think it could have used a little sour cream, but alas, there was none to be found at midnight in the pescetarian's kitchen on a Friday night! It was still really good though I WILL be making this again-it was so tasty! (next time with sour cream:)

Smoked Salmon Quesadillas
  • 1-2 ounces smoked salmon (I like cedar or alder wood smoked, but gravlax or Scottish style would work, I'm sure)
  • 2 taco sized flour tortillas
  • a good sprinkling of shredded pepper jack cheese
  • 2 tbsp whipped cream cheese
  • about 1/4 -1/2 tsp minced fresh jalapeƱo pepper(more will make it hotter)
  • 1/2 tsp chopped cilantro
  • 1/8 c chopped scallion
  • scant 1/8 tsp cumin
  • cooking oil spray
  • snipped chives for garnish
  • mix the cream cheese with the pepper, cilantro, scallion, and cumin.
  • spread one of the tortillas with the cream cheese mixture
  • spray a small skillet with oil and heat over medium heat
  • add the prepared tortilla to the skillet with the cream cheese side up
  • arrange the smoked salmon on top so it is spread rather evenly
  • sprinkle the scallions over the salmon and then sprinkle the cheese
  • top with the remaining tortilla and cook until bottom tortilla is starting to brown
  • slide the quesadilla onto a plate and spray the skillet with oil once more and place the other, raw tortilla in the pan to brown
  • when cheese is fully melted, flip the browned tortillas onto a cutting board, cut into 8 triangles and top with the chives.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Perfect for an Easy Lunch

Guess what? The little scupper man now opens the fridge! To avoid another calamity, we had to set up a shelf just for him lest he decide to, once again, take full reign over the appliance while mommy is in the shower. (has anyone else ever had the pleasure of cleaning an entire 6 pack of yobaby yogurt off of a micro suede sofa? cuz, it's really not as thrilling as one would guess, nope not so much.) Point being, I had found a really yummy chunk of Danish blue in the cheese case at the Shoprite of all places, but alas, it had been sitting there hanging out in the cheese drawer, lonely and forgotten. See, now that all of the string cheese and babybels are on the scupper's "allowed to touch" shelf, the cheese drawer is rarely opened. So imagine my delight when I decided to forage around to make a salad for lunch yesterday, and there it was- score! Is it just me, or does cheese just make everyone a little bit happier?

Mixed Field Greens with Blue Cheese, Raisins, Apples, and Toasted Walnuts in a Raspberry Balsamic Vinaigrette
(for 1)
  • 2 c mixed field greens
  • 1/4 (or more to taste) crumbled blue cheese
  • 1/4 of a tart red apple, cored and cubed
  • 1/4 c jumbo raisins
  • 1/4 c chopped walnuts
  • freshly snipped chives
for the dressing
  • 1 heaping tsp raspberry preserves
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1/8 c good balsamic vinegar
  • 1/8 c extra virgin olive oil
  • whisk together with a fork or better yet whip it up in a little food processor until it has a smooth, even consistency
  • preheat the oven or toaster oven to broil
  • put the raisins in a mug full of water and microwave on high for 3 minutes and let sit in the hot water until ready to use (plumps em up)
  • place the nuts on a large piece of foil and toast under the broiler, 30 seconds, shake and toast another 30 seconds, careful not to scorch them!
  • toss the greens with the dressing and put into a bowl
  • drain the raisins and run them under cool water
  • top the greenswith the blue cheese, apples, walnuts, raisins, snipped chives, and freshly ground black pepper
Lunch is served-yummy

omit the cheese to make it vegan, but, duh-obviously!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Wild Mushroom Risotto-the missing link

Do you believe in symbolism in life, that maybe coincidences are anything but? I myself vacillate, sometimes believing yes, and some times thinking no, kind of like wondering if dreams really mean something.
For instance, I have had the pleasure of seeing a very nice young man recently, and we talk on the phone some nights. Well,yesterday evening, I made this wild mushroom risotto, a wintertime, stick to your ribs staple of mine that is one of my all time favorites. As soon as I was done stuffing myself, I received a phone call from the nice young man, and he had also just finished eating-one of his favorite dishes-that he had stuffed himself with-and guess what it was? Yep, wild mushroom risotto! Now, I can't even begin to say what, if any, significance this fluke may or may not have, what possible correlation or link, but it's genuinely peculiar, right? What could it mean? Something? Nothing? Perhaps risotto has a more profound, far reaching impact on the universe than we realize...or maybe it's just damn tasty! (I wonder whose was tastier, mine or the restaurant's? I'll have to ask him.)

Wild Mushroom Risotto
  • 1/3 cup of dried porcini mushrooms
  • 4 oz oyster mushrooms, wiped and sliced
  • 4 oz shitake mushrooms, wiped and sliced (stems discarded)
  • 4 oz cremini mushrooms, wiped and sliced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2, plus 1, tbsp butter
  • 2 leeks, throughly washed and sliced, white and tender green parts only
  • 1 clove garlic, minced finely
  • 1 3/4 c arborio rice
  • 4 c vegetable stock
  • 1/2 c parmesan cheese
  • zest of 1/2 a lemon
  • 3 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • soak the dried mushrooms in 1 c very hot water for 45 minutes, drain, chop and reserve the soaking liquid
  • combine the broth, wine (if using), and the reserved soaking liquid in a small saucepan and place over medium low heat
  • melt the oil and 2 tbsp butter with 1/4 c of the stock in a large pot over medium heat, add the leeks and garlic, and cook till tender, 10 minutes, stirring occasionally
  • raise heat to medium high, and add all the mushrooms, cook until mushrooms begin to release their juices, stirring, about 8 minutes
  • add the rice and stir to coat in the oils and until the rice just starts to become transparent on the edges, about 3 minutes
  • using a ladle, ladle the warm veg stock mixture1/2c-3/4c at a time, stirring into the rice constantly until the liquid is reserved-keep repeating ladleful by ladleful, stirring constantly, until the rice is al dente, which means that it is done, but not mushy-this will take some time and constant stirring, up to 30 minutes-you kind of just have to keep testing the rice-if you run out of stock, substitute warm water
  • remove from heat, stir in the parsley, lemon zest, 1 tbsp butter, and Parmesan and season with black pepper and salt as needed
  • Serve HOT with extra black pepper and Parmesan to taste