6.23.2011

Stack of the Day


Avocado, cottage cheese, grilled zucchini, arugula and feta with honey balsamic drizzle on whole-wheat toast

This sandwich was inspired by a recipe for a sushi-like appetizer that rolls avocado and feta inside slices of grilled zucchini. Honey Balsamic Grilled Zucchini with Avocado and Feta was entered by sweetlife for food52's Your Best Summer Squash Recipe contest. It is a really interesting combination of flavors -- a touch of sweetness from the marinade, saltiness from the feta and slight tang from the lemon juice in the mashed avocado make each bite an adventure for the tastebuds. My only qualm is that it lacks diversity in texture -- the ingredients are consistently smooth and soft -- I found myself craving a crunch to balance it out. So I decided to reinvent it as an open-faced sandwich. Whole-wheat toast provides a structural platform on which to spread the avocado and cottage cheese, while the addition of arugula gives it a fresh crunch to balance out the soft grilled zucchini. Delicious app turned delicious meal, with flavors and textures to please all.

6.16.2011

Season Opener



I can't officially call it summer until I've had a bowl of gazpacho. A soup that never fails in freshness, it is at once cool, savory and undeniably easy to prepare. It sends vitamins and nutrients sailing down the hatch -- a sure-proof way to OD on your daily veggie intake. I've made it many times, catering to its savory tradition, but this time I wanted to give the recipe a dash of sweet pizzaz, while maintaining the tomato base that I love. So I enlisted the mango -- an equally notorious symbol of summer -- to do the job. I have seen fruity gazpacho recipes before -- melons and mangos are often choice ingredients. Yet, rather than giving the fruit the staring role, I used it as a supporting member of the cast of other flavors. Inspired by several mango salsas that I have made, I combined the fruit with ingredients like cucumber, tomato, bell pepper and onion, knowing the flavors would marry well. Not content with just sweet, I also wanted to add a little heat to an otherwise cool dish. With several dashes of ground red pepper the soup was poised to to provide a rich complexity of flavors. A few hours of fridge-chilling later, summer had finally begun.

TOMATO-MANGO GAZPACHO

A seasonal favorite with a fruity flair

Ingredients:

1 large cucumber, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 yellow bell pepper, cored and cut into 1-inch chunks
3 large tomatoes, cored and cut into 1-inch chunks
1/2 red onion, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 mango fruit, peeled, pitted, and cut into 1-inch chunks
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 46-oz bottle of low-sodium vegetable juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
1-2 Tbsp lime juice
Several dashes of ground red pepper or tabasco sauce
Salt & pepper to taste

Directions:
1. In a food processor, pulse each of the vegetables and the mango separately until the pieces are small and uniform; make sure not to over-pulse into a puree-- leave some pulp and texture.
2. Combine all processed ingredients in a large bowl.
3. Add garlic and the remaining ingredients.
4. Stir to combine, cover bowl, and let it sit for several hours to allow the flavors to blend. Stir before serving (chilled).

6.15.2011

Radish-Hazelnut Pesto Linguine



A quick meal using the wealth of radish pesto that I have leftover from the other day: whole wheat linguine tossed with radish-hazelnut pesto. Topped with sliced radishes and shaved Pecorino-Romano.

RADISH PESTO RECIPE:
[Makes 2 versions--one hazelnut, one pistachio]

Ingredients:

2 small bunches radishes, greens attached (about 20 to 25 radishes)
1 bunch fresh basil leaves (about 2 cups)
1 small shallot, coarsely chopped and divided in half
1 small garlic clove, coarsely chopped and divided in half
1/2 cup grated Pecorino-Romano cheese, divided in half
1 lemon, juiced and zested, divided in half
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided in half
1/4 cup roasted hazelnuts, unsalted
1/4 cup roasted pistachios, unsalted

Directions:
1. Separate the radish bodies from the greens; wash well and set radishes aside.
2. Divide all ingredients in half, designating one portion for the hazelnuts and one for the pistachios.
3. Roughly slice 6 radishes, adding 3 to each set of ingredients.
4. In a food processor, add one set of the radish greens, basil, shallot, garlic, Pecorino, lemon juice and zest, olive oil, hazelnuts and three sliced radishes. Blend until smooth.
5. Repeat step 4 with pistachio batch.


6.11.2011

Radish Pesto


I picked up a bunch of radishes at the farmer's market this week and as I was debating what to do with them, Tasting Table answered with one of its daily e-mails. They shared a few interesting radish recipes that elevate the root from its status as a salad topper-- one from their own test kitchen for a Radish Pesto. I was intrigued to try this unique pesto that does not use the radish itself as I had expected, but instead the radish leaves -- an often discarded portion of the vegetable. In my preparation I made a few adjustments to the recipe. It calls for macadamia nuts, but I opted try two alternative versions -- one with pistachios and another with hazelnuts. I used Pecorino instead of Piave cheese and also decided to throw in some whole radishes to give it an extra radish-y twist. The results were fantastic and highly enjoyable with a plate of linguine. The radish has officially claimed territory in the realm of pesto.

RADISH PESTO
[Adapted from the Tasting Table Test Kitchen]

Ingredients:

2 small bunches radishes, greens attached (about 20 to 25 radishes)
1 bunch fresh basil leaves (about 2 cups)
1 small shallot, coarsely chopped and divided in half
1 small garlic clove, coarsely chopped and divided in half
1/2 cup grated Pecorino-Romano cheese, divided in half
1 lemon, juiced and zested, divided in half
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided in half
1/4 cup roasted hazelnuts, unsalted
1/4 cup roasted pistachios, unsalted

Directions:
1. Separate the radish bodies from the greens; wash well and set radishes aside.
2. Divide all ingredients in half, designating one portion for the hazelnuts and one for the pistachios.
3. Roughly slice 6 radishes, adding 3 to each set of ingredients.
4. In a food processor, add one set of the radish greens, basil, shallot, garlic, Pecorino, lemon juice and zest, olive oil, hazelnuts and three sliced radishes. Blend until smooth.
5. Repeat step 4 with pistachio batch.

6.08.2011

Shades of Green


To satisfy my craving for honeydew today I incorporated the melon into a salad-- cucumber, arugula and mint star alongside the honeydew in a celebration of the verde hue. When my mother told me to eat my greens, I don't think she thought I would take it quite so literally. But despite the consistency in color, each ingredient in this dish contributes a distinctly unique flavor. With its sweet honeydew, fresh cucumber and peppery arugula all cloaked in the cool zing of mint, this salad is the perfect light and refreshing foil to a hot summer day. (In fact, cucumbers are naturally prone to stay 20 degrees cooler than their environment, so the dish is practically guaranteed to have a cooling effect). It's so refreshing that I wouldn't be surprised if it also has potential as a revitalizing face mask in a pureed form...

HONEYDEW AND CUCUMBER SALAD WITH ARUGULA AND MINT

Ingredients:

2 cups honeydew balls (about 1/2 whole honeydew)
2 cups cucumber
2 cups arugula
2 Tbsp red onion, finely chopped
1 Tbsp mint, finely chopped
1 tsp fresh ginger, shaved
1 Tbsp lime juice
A pinch of sea salt

Directions:
1. Use melon baller to scoop honeydew from its rind. Cut cucumber into quarters lengthwise and then cut into triangular chunks. Combine honeydew and cucumber (approximately 2 cups of each) in a bowl with 2 cups of arugula.
2. Add red onion, mint, shaved ginger, lime juice and a pinch of sea salt; toss to combine. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving.

Salsa Season


There's something magical in finding new ways to enjoy familiar dishes. The other day I made an adaptation of one of my family's summertime staples -- Corn & Black Bean Salsa -- aka "Bean Dip." The original combination of corn, black beans, diced tomato, and various chopped onions, dressed in olive oil, lime juice, cumin and copious amounts of fresh cilantro pays homage to Southwest-inspired flavors. The notoriously refreshing crowd pleaser is versatile enough to be served with tortilla chips as an appetizer, paired with a grilled meat or fish, used as a salad fixing, a hearty wrap filling, or --this just in-- an easy omelet.

I am continually tweaking the ingredients in this salsa, which, by nature, caters to an infinite number of variations. My adjustments this time include chickpeas instead of corn, fresh parsley instead of cilantro, and adding ground coriander to the spice mix. Lime juice was the main acidic element, though I also added a few squirts of lemon juice to give a twist to the citrus flavor.


BLACK BEAN & CHICKPEA SALSA

Ingredients:

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 tomatoes, diced
1/2 red onion, quartered and thinly sliced
2-3 Tbsp fresh parsley
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp lime juice
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
A few squirts of lemon juice

Directions:
1. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl; toss well to combine. Serve immediately or let sit to enhance the flavors.

To make an omelet: I added the salsa to a small skillet (enough to cover the bottom of the pan) and allowed the ingredients to heat up (medium heat) for a few minutes without letting the beans or tomato get too mushy. I then poured 3 egg whites over the mixture, covered the pan and allowed the mixture to cook until eggs were set and cooked through. I flipped once at the very end to brown the top side of the omelet (optional). It was such an easy way to make a meal out of a delicious salsa, I can't believe this stroke of genius didn't come to me earlier!

6.06.2011


CHICKEN AND FIG FLATBREAD

Figs on a pizza? Don't mind if I do. I decided to get creative with my leftovers of Jenny's recipe for Chicken with Figs, Wine and Honey from food52, turning it into a flatbread sensation. Motivated by the delicious spinach and shrimp flatbread pizza that I made earlier this week, I employed the same method, this time featuring sliced chicken breast and red wine-marinated figs amidst the flavors of spinach, pecorino and red onion.

Ingredients:
[Makes 1 serving]


1 whole wheat pita / flatbread
2 cups baby spinach, wilted
1/3 cup shredded pecorino romano
4 oz chicken breast
5 figs, quartered
thinly sliced red onion

Directions:
1. Saute spinach in nonstick pan until wilted. Meanwhile, lightly toast flatbread in toaster oven.
2. Top flatbread with most of the pecorino, leaving a portion to sprinkle over the other ingredients. Arrange spinach, chicken, onion and figs evenly on flatbread. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.
3. Bake at 400 degrees in toaster oven for about 10 minutes or until crust is browned.

6.02.2011

Summer Flatbread


SPINACH AND SHRIMP FLATBREAD WITH TOMATO AND PECORINO

A pizza that tastes as good as it looks. The marriage of wilted spinach and tangy pecorino add density and flavor underneath colorful accents of sliced tomato and baby grilled shrimp. A shower of freshly chopped rosemary is the final element in a group of ingredients that compliment each other both flavorfully and visually. I used a whole wheat pita flatbread for the crust, toasting it slightly before adding the toppings to ensure a crispy base layer. Cut into strips and enjoyed with a crisp glass of white, this dish was a perfect summer dinner. It could absolutely function as an easy appetizer as well.

Ingredients:
[Makes 1 serving]


1 whole wheat flatbread or pita
1/2 cup shredded pecorino romano
1 1/2 cups baby spinach
1/2 tomato, thinly sliced
8 grilled baby shrimp, halved lenthwise
1/2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary

Directions:
1. Saute spinach in nonstick pan until wilted. Meanwhile, lightly toast flatbread in toaster oven.
2. Top flatbread with 1/2 of the pecorino, spinach, tomato and shrimp. Sprinkle remaining cheese and rosemary on top .
3. Bake at 400 degrees in toaster oven for about 10 minutes or until crust is browned.
4. Cut into strips and serve with a glass of crisp white vino.


Get Grillin’ with Family Fresh Cooking and Cookin’ Canuck, sponsored by Ile de France Cheese, Rösle, Emile Henry, Rouxbe and ManPans.

6.01.2011

Summer Salads

The haze and humidity in Harlem today beseeches something light and refreshing. Enter: watercress, endive, oranges, olives, brussels sprouts and red onion-- teaming up to beat the heat in two delicious seasonal salads.



WATERCRESS-ENDIVE SALAD WITH ORANGES AND OLIVES

The first is a twist on the classic orange and fennel salad. Watercress and endive give dynamic texture to the base with naval oranges and sliced kalmata olives adding bold flavors. A drizzle of olive oil, fresh lemon juice and black pepper rounds out this mediterranean-inspired salad.

Ingredients:
3 cups watercress
2 endives, halved and sliced thinly
2 naval oranges
12-15 kalmata olives, pitted and sliced lengthwise
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp olive oil
freshly cracked black pepper to taste

Directions:
1. Cut the endives in half and with the cut side down, slice thinly across the grain.
2. Cut the oranges into bite-size sections.
3. Remove the pits of the olives and slice lengthwise.
4. Combine watercress, endives, oranges and olives in a medium bowl. Add the lemon juice and olive oil and toss to combine. Add fresh cracked pepper to taste. Allow the salad to sit for several minutes to allow the juice flavors to blend. Toss again before serving.





BRUSSELS SPROUT SALAD WITH RED ONION, LEMON AND PECORINO

The second salad is adapted from a recipe by Merrill Stubbs, co-founder of food52. Unfortunately I had to recreate her Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad with Red Onion, Lemon and Pecorino sans a mandolin, which meant getting aggressive with my Santoku knife. It's really amazing how shaving a vegetable like brussels sprouts or asparagus completely transforms the experience of eating it raw. Merrill's dish is incredibly simple to make and the flavors of the red onion, lemon, pecorino and honey-mustard dressing harmonized beautifully.

Ingredients:
12 brussels sprouts, shaved or thinly sliced
1/2 small red onion
Juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon whole grain mustard
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup finely grated pecorino romano

Directions:
1. Soak the onion slices in a small bowl of cold water for 15 to 20 minutes while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, honey, mustard and a pinch of salt and pepper. Whisk in the olive oil and set dressing aside.
3. Trim the Brussels sprouts, cutting off any bruised outer leaves and slicing off a good portion of the hard root end. Using a mandoline, shave the sprouts one at a time. (Or, if no mandoline is handy, slice the sprouts as thinly as possible).
4. Put the sprouts in a serving bowl and toss gently with the onions (which you've now drained) and the dressing. Fold in the pecorino, taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. Serve immediately.