6.29.2010

Cold Soup?

Leftover chives + the urge to attempt a chilled summer soup led me to tonight's concoction: Chilled Thai Squash Soup with Greek Yogurt.

Though I've been meaning to make gazpacho since the weather got warm, this recipe from Bon Appetit caught my eye and provided an opportunity to dive into uncharted territory... a) I've never made a soup in the summer before, b) I've never made squash soup before and c) before tonight, Thai red curry paste and coconut milk were ingredients foreign to my kitchen.

I was pleased to read in the recipe reviews that some people substituted the yellow crookneck squash that the recipe called for with butternut (which I ended up doing as well) and used chives instead of cilantro (a perfect way to utilize my leftover chives!) With these small changes I was ready for the challenge.

CHILLED THAI SQUASH SOUP WITH GREEK YOGURT

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups chopped onions
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2 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon Thai red curry paste
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 pound yellow crookneck squash (or butternut), trimmed, cut into 3/4- to 1-inch pieces
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2 cups (or more) vegetable broth
1 cup canned unsweetened regular or light coconut milk
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Plain nonfat Greek yogurt
Chopped fresh chives (or cilantro)

Directions:
1. Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté until soft and golden, about 5 minutes.
2. Add garlic; stir 1 minute. Add curry paste and curry powder; stir 20 seconds. Add squash and sauté 1 minute.
3. Stir in 2 cups broth and coconut milk and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium and boil gently until squash is soft, 10 to 12 minutes. Cool slightly.
4. Working in batches, puree soup in blender until smooth.
5. Transfer soup to medium bowl and chill until cold, about 2 hours.
6. When ready to serve, ladle soup into bowls. Spoon dollop of yogurt into center of soup in each bowl. Sprinkle with chopped chives and serve.

Novel Vegetable Preparation: Ribbons

During the summer, my family grills some form of vegetable nearly every night. Asparagus, green beans, mushrooms, peppers, onions and all types of combinations of each. The dishes are delicious and colorful, but sometimes the repetition gets a little mundane. I wanted to try something different last night and as I was searching CookingLight.com for ideas I came across a unique way to prepare vegetables without any cooking. The image of the recipe caught my eye immediately-- it showed asparagus shaved into ribbons. I'd seen carrots and other vegetables sliced like this, but never asparagus, so I had to try it. The process of shaving the asparagus spears into ribbons was slightly difficult and failed to utilize the entire spear, but after some time I collected a large bowl of shavings and saved the remaining parts for later use. Combining the asparagus ribbons with cherry tomatoes, feta and a chive/dijon/lemon dressing proved to be an easy, fresh vegetable side. Its unique flavor and texture was a nice change-up from the usual grilled veggies.


ASPARAGUS RIBBONS WITH TOMATO, LEMON AND FETA

Ingredients:
1 pound large asparagus spears, trimmed
1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons extravirgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled feta cheese

Directions:
1. Lay each asparagus flat and hold by the spear tip. Shave the asparagus into ribbons with a vegetable peeler to measure about 3 cups. Reserve remaining asparagus for another use.
2. Combine ribbons with cherry tomatoes.
3. In a small bowl, combine chives, lemon juice, olive oil, pepper and dijon, stirring with a whisk. Drizzle over asparagus mixture; toss gently to coat.
4. Sprinkle feta on top.

Tackling Tuna

For some reason, the prospect of cooking seared tuna has always intimidated me. Last night, with seasoned-searer Dad, I decided to conquer my fear of the fish. After perusing various seared ahi tuna recipes, we decided to go with a very simple option: coating the fish in black and white sesame seeds. Instead of firing up the grill, we seared the tuna in a pan with toasted sesame oil. The process was incredibly easy and the result was so delicious. I now have a minor obsession with the sesame seeds...

PAN-SEARED BLACK & WHITE SESAME TUNA

4 sushi-grade tuna steaks
black sesame seeds
white sesame seeds
toasted sesame oil

Pour sesame seeds in a shallow dish and coat tuna steaks evenly on all sides.
Heat sesame oil in a pan; cook tuna for 3 minutes on each side.

Dish for Dad

This year for Father's Day we decided to treat Dad to a delicious dinner, so I began brainstorming recipe ideas using some of his favorite foods. He is a huge fan of fish, but I decided to branch out from our usual salmon, and go with a nice halibut dish. I often like to pair grilled fish with a fresh salsa using various combinations of fruits and veggies, and was pleased to find a recipe for Grilled Halibut with Peach and Pepper Salsa in the June issue of CookingLight Magazine. I've used peaches and peppers in combination before, but I was intrigued by the addition of chopped arugula and oregano -- different flavors than my traditional lime juice and cilantro.

To go with the halibut I wanted to find a unique grain dish -- some type of salad using bulgar or barley. I found two versions of a wheat salad with pistachios in CookingLight: Cracked Wheat Salad with Nectarines, Parsley, and Pistachios, and Wheat Berry Salad with Raisins and Pistachios, and took elements from each to create my own dish: Bulgar Wheat Salad with Fresh Cherries and Pistachios.

The final component of this meal was grilled brussel sprouts, which is not a frequent visitor to our table, but a veggie that my Dad enjoys (as do I) so I decided to include them as a simple side.

Here are the recipes I used:


GRILLED HALIBUT WITH PEACH AND PEPPER SALSA

FISH:
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon paprika
2 garlic cloves, minced
6 (6-ounce) skinless halibut fillets
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Cooking spray

Combine lemon juice, oil, paprika, garlic in a low glass baking dish and stir with a whisk.
Add fish to dish, turn to coat. Cover and let stand 15-30 minutes.
Preheat grill to med-high heat.
Remove fish from marinade, place on grill coated with cooking spray.
Grill 3-5 minutes on each side. Serve with salsa (recipe below).

SALSA:
2 1/2 cups coarsely chopped peeled yellow peaches (about 1 1/4 pounds)
1 1/3 cups chopped red bell pepper (about 1 large)
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/2 cup chopped fresh arugula
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 garlic clove, minced

Combine ingredients and let stand 30 minutes before serving.


BULGAR WHEAT SALAD WITH FRESH CHERRIES AND PISTACHIOS

1 cup uncooked bulgar
1 cup boiling water
3 Tbsp shelled pistachios
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 teaspoons honey
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger
1/2 cup fresh cherries (pitted and halved)
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Combine bulgar and 1 cup boiling water in large bowl. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350. Place pistachios on baking sheet. Bake for 8 minutes, stirring once. Cool slightly and chop.
Combine olive oil, lemon juice, honey, coriander and ginger in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk.
Combine dressing with bulgar and 1/2 cup cherries.
Add nuts, 1/4 cup green onions, and cilantro to bulgar mixture.


GRILLED BRUSSEL SPROUTS

Wash and trim brussel sprouts and soak in salt water.
Cut sprouts in half lengthwise.
Combine sprouts with olive oil, lemon juice and seasoning. Grill until browned.

6.06.2010

Operation Turkey Burgers

A few nights ago my family had an appetite for grilling and naturally, burgers came to mind. Along with the classic ground beef we bought ground turkey and I attempted to recreate a turkey burger recipe that I came across last summer. I found the recipe in CookingLight Magazine -- it is a simple, tasty combination of onions, OJ, soy sauce, ginger and garlic. I added my own twist to the Asian-inspired flavors by brushing on a teriyaki marinade during the grilling process. Here's the result:


TERIYAKI TURKEY BURGERS

Ingredients:
2 Tbsp orange juice
1 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
1 tsp ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup chopped onions (green, red or vidalia)
1 lb ground turkey
Your favorite teriyaki marinade

Directions:
1. Combine the first 5 ingredients and add to ground turkey in a mixing bowl. Form into 4 burger patties.
2. Grill about 5-6 minutes on one side. Flip. Brush the teriyaki marinade onto the flipped side. Grill about 5-6 minutes on second side. Flip again and brush the rest of the marinade onto the second side. Makes 4 servings.

The first time I made these burgers I did so without the teriyaki glaze. They turned out okay, but slightly dry. I came across another turkey burger recipe that incorporated a teriyaki sauce and I thought I would add that element to my own recipe. It was a good choice -- the marinade adds more flavor and keeps the burger moist. Needless to say, after grilling these burgers, even my beef-loving brother opted for the teriyaki turkey. Turkey burgers are a great change-up from the traditional hamburger and add variety to the summer grilling repertoire. There are a plethora of ways to make them, and I plan on experimenting now that I've mastered and tweaked this simple, yet satisfying recipe from CookingLight.