Friday, August 31, 2012

Summer Greek Salad

It is the end of August and summer produce is at its prime. The salads this time of year become memories in the winter. Time to enjoy!
Summer Greek Salad
Greek Salad
2 large red ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 small sweet onion, sliced
1 red pepper, chopped
1/2 English cucumber, chopped
1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1/3 cup Kalamata olives
 salt and pepper, to taste

Salad Dressing
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

Summer Greek Salad with Lamb and New Potatoes
Combine salad ingredients into a bowl. In another bowl, whisk together olive oil, vinegar and oregano. Add enough dressing just to coat the salad. Toss and check for seasoning.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Blue Cheese, Pear, Raisin Bread Grilled Sandwich

Blue cheese and pear are such a great combination. So when Ann mentioned to me that I should try this "grilled cheese sandwich" I just had to. It will be fun to serve as an appetizer and it has already been requested for lunch, again.
Grilled Cheese
-good quality creamy blue cheese
-ripe, sliced Bartlett pear
-Sun Maid Raisin Bread
Butter 2 slices of bread, turnover and top one slice with a layer of blue cheese and then a layer of pear and another layer of cheese. Top with other slice of bread and grill on a panini press or in a skillet. When cheese is melting and bread is toasted, take off of the grill, cut off crusts and cut into quarters.
Heirloom Tomato Soup with Grilled Blue Cheese and Pear Sandwich

Monday, August 27, 2012

Peach Salsa

This peach salsa would enhance grilled chicken or as an alternative to regular salsa and chips.

Peach Salsa over Grilled Salmon
2 peaches, diced
1/4 red bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeno, ribs and seeds removed, diced
2 green onions, finely chopped
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 lime, juiced
1/2 cup cilantro, finely chopped
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
Fresh ground pepper, salt, to taste

In a bowl combine all ingredients together. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow flavors to meld.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Heirloom Tomato Soup

This soup is delightful hot or cold and recently, depending on the weather, I have served it both ways.

1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 sweet onion, chopped
1 shallot, chopped
3 pounds heirloom tomatoes, skinned and chopped
3 cups of stock (chicken or vegetable)
1/4 cup ketchup
dash of hot sauce
1/4 cup fresh basil
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup cream, if desired

To skin the tomatoes, have a bowl of ice water ready. Heat a saucepan of water and dunk the tomatoes in the boiling water for about 1 minute, take out and plunge into bowl of ice water, after a few seconds take out the tomato and peel, chop (saving the juice) and set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and shallot and heat until soft. Add tomatoes, stock, ketchup and hot sauce. Heat gently, add salt and pepper, fresh basil and vinegar. Blend and adjust seasonings.
Can be served immediately or refrigerated and served cold.
Top with fresh basil or basil oil.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Carrot Ginger Soup

My Mom loves soup for lunch, so this time of year I hit the farmers market and the garden, make stock and do a marathon of soup making, put them in serving sizes for her and a guest. This year the first one up is Carrot Ginger, I often do curry with this but skipped it this time and added coconut milk instead.

1 Tablespoon butter
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 leeks, cleaned and chopped
2 pounds carrots, peeled and chopped
4 cups chicken stock, vegetable stock or water
2 Tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
2 Tablespoon long grain rice
1/2 teaspoon fresh nutmeg, grated
1 can light coconut milk

In a large saucepan over medium heat, saute onion and leeks in butter and olive oil until soft. Add carrots, stock, ginger and long grain rice, bring to a boil and simmer about 20 minutes until carrots are tender. Add nutmeg and coconut milk and blend in blender.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Pavlova with Raspberries

The debate continues whether the meringue based dessert, Pavlova, originated in New Zealand or Australia. There is no debate that it was named after the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova, in the 1920s.
The Pavlova should be crisp and golden on the outside and soft, light and marshmallow like on the inside.
The base:
4 large egg whites (room temp)
1 cup very fine sugar
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1/2 Tablespoon cornstarch
Beat egg whites until stiff. Add sugar a spoonful at a time and continue to beat until sugar is dissolved before adding more. Continue to beat until meringue is thick and glossy. Fold in the vanilla, white vinegar and cornstarch. On a cookie sheet lined with parchment, spread out the meringue in an eight inch circle. It will be about 2 inches high. (alternately, you can spread them into several circles for individual meringues).
Bake in a preheated 250F oven for 40-50 minutes, turn off oven and leave meringue to cool in oven. The outside should be firm. This can be made the day ahead. Store in a dry container.

1 cup whipping cream
1 1/2 Tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Beat together until thick.
To assemble Pavlova, spread whipped cream topping on top and inside meringue and top with fresh raspberries.
Note: Use any fruit or combination of your choice, mango, strawberries, kiwi etc.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Summer and Coastal Living

Great afternoon on the Ocean
Morning haul from the Farmers Market

the Neighborhood feast begins

Friday, August 17, 2012

Quinoa Stuffed Avocado

3 avocados, peeled and cut in half
1/2 cup Quinoa, rinsed
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/2 cup red or yellow pepper, diced
1/3 cup cucumber, diced
1/4 cup green onions, finely chopped
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
1/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the stock and Quinoa. Cook about 15 minutes, covered. When the stock is absorbed, turn off the heat and let sit 5 minutes. Cool.
Mix the cooled Quinoa with olive oil, vinegar, peppers, cucumbers, green onions, tomatoes and feta cheese.
Stuff into avocado halves. 
Note: Leftover Quinoa salad is great scooped with tortilla chips.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Stacked Caprese Salad

When Heirloom tomatoes and fresh basil are in season, you can't beat the simple and classic Caprese Salad. The classic is sliced fresh tomatoes, layered with sliced fresh Mozzarella and fresh basil. A drizzle of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, a pinch of sea salt and fresh ground pepper.

Today, I used Heirloom tomatoes, fresh basil and fresh Mozzarella and stacked them. A pinch of sea salt and fresh pepper, then a drizzle of basil oil (from a recent post) and reduced balsamic vinegar, very little vinegar is needed as it provides another sweetness to the already sweet, ripe tomatoes.

Monday, August 13, 2012

3 Quick Cheese Appetizers

I like having a few go-to items in the house for a quick but filling appetizer, these are a basic start that I have used for years.

Feta cheese with fresh Rosemary
Feta block with Rosemary
take a block of Feta cheese, drizzle olive oil on top
sprinkle with 1/4 cup chopped fresh Rosemary
Endive with Boursin

Crimini stuffed with Blue Cheese

clean and stem the mushrooms 
sprinkle with Alfies seasoning
cook in microwave about 1 minute

stuff with creamy Blue or Stilton cheese 
cook another 45 seconds

Friday, August 10, 2012

Pimms Cup

What would be a refreshing drink served at a Polo match? Or croquet? While viewing cricket or the London 2012 Olympics? It is the official drink at Wimbledon...Pimm's Cup.
3 cups of Pimm's
1 cup lemonade
1 cup of sprite
8 lemons slices
8 cucumber slices
4 sprigs of mint
In a glass pitcher, combine Pimm's, lemonade, 4 lemon slices and 4 cucumber slices. Chill well.
Just before serving add sprite to pitcher. In 4 glasses filled with ice, pour cocktail and garnish with a slice of lemon, cucumber and sprig of mint.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Decadent Chocolate Sauce

Whether served over a pie, plated with flourless cake and raspberries or to top a scoop of a favorite ice cream, this chocolate sauce is a great addition to a dessert.
This recipe makes about 3 cups and can be refrigerated for about a week and becomes thicker as it cools. Heat in the microwave to make it pourable.
2 cups whipping cream
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
6 ounces semisweet chocolate
1 Tablespoon brewed coffee
1/2 cup butter, cut in cubes
 In a saucepan over medium heat, mix the cream and sugars and bring to a boil. Turn heat to low and simmer about 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Add chocolate, coffee and butter and remove from heat, stirring until melted. Cool.
Note: Orange liqueur (Grand Marnier) can be substituted for coffee, for an orange taste.
Vanilla can also be substituted for the coffee.
Serving idea: Mini pitchers can be used for individual servings.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Pasta with Tomatoes, Lox and Basil Oil

The other day I made zucchini strands with fresh tomatoes and basil oil but forgot to write it up. So, tonight looking for a quick dinner I sliced up some fresh cherry tomatoes and tossed them with 2 Tablespoons of the Basil Oil. Cooked up some brown rice pasta and tossed it into the bowl of tomatoes along with a Tablespoon of goat cheese and a slice of smoked salmon lox. Toss until the cheese melts. The dish was topped with a teaspoon of lemon zest, fresh ground pepper and a couple leaves of fresh basil.

Basil Oil:
1/3 cup of Olive Oil
6 garlic cloves, peeled
12 fresh basil leaves
In a saucepan, combine the olive oil, garlic and basil and cook over low heat until garlic is lightly browned (not burned). Let cool and strain to
remove garlic and basil. Pour into a jar or small pitcher (where is my squeeze bottle?)