Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Pizza Pot Pies

Ring in the school year with this simple, a kid-friendly meal that can be customized to fit everyone’s taste. You can add sausage, mushrooms, onions – whatever you want! This recipe is so simple and versatile you’ll put in this your weekly dinner rotation.

Pizza Pot Pies
Serves 6

Tomato Sauce:
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fresh minced rosemary leaves
2 ounces diced pancetta
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Pizza Pot Pies:
3 cups Tomato Sauce
2 cups diced roasted chicken
2 cups broccoli cut into small, bite-sized pieces
1 ½ cups diced mozzarella cheese
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 ½ pounds pizza dough
1/3 cup olive oil
6 tablespoons grated Parmesan

Special equipment: 6 (10-ounce) ramekins

For the Tomato Sauce: Warm the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic, rosemary, and pancetta. Sauté until the pancetta is crisp and golden, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, stir to combine, and simmer over very low heat for 15 minutes. Add the salt and pepper. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 400 degree. In a large bowl combine the Tomato Sauce, chicken, broccoli, mozzarella, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine. Divide the chicken mixture evenly between the ramekins. Roll out the pizza dough and cut circles with a paring knife that are 1-inch wider in diameter than the ramekins. Place the circles of dough over the filled ramekins and press down to seal, making sure to pull the dough over the edge of the ramekin. Brush the top of the pizza dough with olive oil and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Cut a small slit in the top of the pizza dough with a paring knife. Bake until the pizza crust is golden, about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly before serving.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Grilled Chicken Paillard with Lemon and Black Pepper and Arugula-Tomato Salad

This is a simple, great summer dish. Light and healthy, this recipe is so flavorful. It's the perfect dish for last-minute company and will truly wow your guests. Let them think that you’ve slaved over the stove all day/grill all afternoon. No one has to know otherwise. Shhh! It’ll be our little secret.

Grilled Chicken Paillard with Lemon and Black Pepper and Arugula-Tomato Salad
Serves 4

¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 small shallot, chopped
¼ cup pure olive oil
¼ teaspoon coarsely ground fresh black pepper
4 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts, pounded thinly
½ pound arugula
2 ripe beefsteak tomatoes, diced
1 small red onion, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus additional for garnish
Lemon halves, for garnish

Whisk together lemon juice, shallot, olive oil and black pepper in a large baking dish. Add the chicken, turn to coat and marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Preheat grill to high. Remove chicken from marinade, season with salt on both sides and grill for 2 to 3 minutes per side or until golden brown and just cooked through.

Combine arugula, tomatoes and onions in a large bowl, toss with the vinegar and oil and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Place each paillard on a large plate, drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and top with some of the arugula-tomato salad. Garnish with lemon halves.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Mojito Chicken

Kick off the weekend with this mojito chicken recipe. Yes, mojito chicken. Is your mouth watering right now? I absolutely love mojitos. I mean, what’s not to like – rum, lime and mint. Yum! So, imagine my surprise and delight when I found a mojito chicken recipe in one of my cookbooks. OMG! This recipe is so moist and delicious and has an excellent blend of flavors. Just remember not to drink the marinade…

Mojito Chicken
Serves 4 to 6

2 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
Marinade, recipe follows
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Mojito Glaze, recipe follows

Flatten out chicken out. Combine all the dry spices and rub chicken with spice mixture. Put into a resealable plastic bag and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

In a large mixing bowl combine all the ingredients for the marinade, then add chicken to marinade and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (overnight preferred for maximum flavor). Remove chicken from marinade and shake off excess marinade.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

In a large sauté pan over medium to high heat, add 4 tablespoons of extra- virgin olive oil. When oil is hot, place chicken down and sear. When chicken is golden brown flip chicken and add ½ cup of marinade into pan; place pan in oven and cook the chicken for 20-25 minutes or until chicken has internal temperature of 165 degrees on an instant-read thermometer.

Remove the chicken from oven and brush with Mojito Glaze. Place chicken under broiler for 5 minutes. Remove from broiler, cut and serve immediately with more glaze on the side.

1 cup orange juice
2 limes, juiced
¼ cup white wine vinegar
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon sliced garlic
¼ cup dark rum

Combine all ingredients in mixing bowl.

Mojito Glaze
½ cup dark rum
½ cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon brown sugar
3 tablespoons cold water
1 tablespoon cornstarch
¼ cup chopped mint leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

In medium sauce pot, place rum, chicken broth and brown sugar. Reduce by 1/3 over high heat. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together water and cornstarch. When rum mixture is reduced, add cornstarch mixture slowly to simmering liquid and whisk for 3 minutes, until 50 percent thicker. Keep in mind that you might not need all of it. When glaze is at desired thickness, add mint leaves and transfer to small bowl. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Chocolate Raspberry Pavlova

When I visited New Zealand recently, I indulged in a positively sinful, delightful dessert – pavlova. Popular in New Zealand, pavlova is a light and fluffy meringue dessert that is frequently served during celebratory or holiday meals. Although this recipe is a bit time consuming, it is not too difficult and well worth the effort. Simply divine and utterly delicious!

Chocolate Raspberry Pavlova
Serves 8-10

For the Meringue Base:
6 large egg whites
2 cups superfine sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1 teaspoon balsamic or red wine vinegar
2 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped

For the Toppings:
2 cups heavy cream
4 cups raspberries
1 to 2 ounces dark chocolate

Prepare the pan: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment. Draw a 9-inch-diameter circle on the paper with a pencil, tracing a round cake tin that size.
Flip the paper over so your meringue doesn't touch the pencil marks - you'll still be able to see the circle.

Make the meringue: Beat the egg whites with a mixer until satiny peaks form, and then beat in the sugar a spoonful at a time until the meringue is stiff and shiny.

Add the chocolate: Sprinkle the cocoa, vinegar and then the chopped chocolate over the egg whites. Gently fold everything with a rubber spatula until the cocoa is thoroughly mixed in.
Shape the meringue: Secure the parchment to the baking sheet with a dab of meringue under each corner. Mound the meringue onto the parchment within the circle, smoothing the sides and the top with a spatula.

Bake the meringue: Place in the oven, then immediately turn the temperature down to 300 degrees and cook for one to one and a quarter hours. When it's ready, it should look crisp and dry on top, but when you prod the center you should feel the promise of squidginess beneath your fingers.

Let it cool: Turn off the oven and open the door slightly; let the chocolate meringue disk cool completely in the oven. When you're ready to serve, invert onto a big flat-bottomed plate and peel off the parchment.

Decorate the Pavlova: Whisk the cream till thick but still soft and pile it on top of the meringue, then scatter the strawberries on top. Coarsely grate the chocolate haphazardly over the top so that you get curls of chocolate rather than rubble, as you don't want the raspberries' luscious color and form to be obscured. You want the Pavlova to look like a frosted cake.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Turkey Burger

Where’s the beef? You won’t even notice it with this turkey burger recipe. Burgers are an American classic – and they don’t have to be made from just beef anymore. Moist, delicious, tasty and juicy, you’ll find this burger alternative simply amazing.

Turkey Burger
Serves 4

1 ½ pounds ground turkey
½ cup finely grated Gruyere cheese
¼ cup dried breadcrumbs (panko preferred)
¼ cup Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, minced
Coarse salt and pepper

Heat grill to high. In a medium bowl, use a fork to gently combine ground turkey with Gruyere, breadcrumbs, mustard, and garlic; season generously with salt and pepper. Gently form mixture into four 1-inch-thick patties.

Lightly oil grill. Place patties on hottest part of grill; sear until browned, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Move patties to cooler part of grill; continue grilling until cooked through, 5 to 10 minutes per side.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Chocolate Cupcakes and Peanut Butter Icing

Whether you’re baking for a group of kids or an upscale dinner party, cupcakes are a universal favorite. Indulge in this cupcake recipe today. It has two of the best flavors ever – chocolate and peanut butter. Yum! The cake is moist and the peanut butter frosting is soft, creamy and oh-so-delicious! If you love Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, you’re going to love this recipe.

Chocolate Cupcakes and Peanut Butter Icing
Yields 14 to 15 cupcakes

12 tablespoons (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk, shaken, at room temperature
½ cup sour cream, at room temperature
2 tablespoons brewed coffee
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup good cocoa powder
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon kosher salt
Peanut Butter Icing, recipe follows
Chopped salted peanuts, to decorate, optional

Preheat the oven to 350 degree. Line cupcake pans with paper liners.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and 2 sugars on high speed until light and fluffy, approximately 5 minutes. Lower the speed to medium, add the eggs 1 at a time, then add the vanilla and mix well. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, sour cream, and coffee. In another bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. On low speed, add the buttermilk mixture and the flour mixture alternately in thirds to the mixer bowl, beginning with the buttermilk mixture and ending with the flour mixture. Mix only until blended. Fold the batter with a rubber spatula to be sure it’s completely blended.

Divide the batter among the cupcake pans (1 rounded standard ice cream scoop per cup is the right amount). Bake in the middle of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes, remove from the pans, and allow to cool completely before frosting.

Frost each cupcake with Peanut Butter Icing and sprinkle with chopped peanuts, if desired.

Peanut Butter Icing:
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup heavy cream

Place the confectioner’' sugar, peanut butter, butter, vanilla, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium-low speed until creamy, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula as you work. Add the cream and beat on high speed until the mixture is light and smooth.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Grilled Herb Shrimp

My oldest daughter loves shrimp and I am constantly looking for new recipes as I know she can’t live on shrimp scampi alone (although I am sure she would disagree with that). This is one of the easiest, tastiest shrimp recipes. Serve with warm, crusty bread to soak up the sauce and it will disappear within minutes of bring served. Mark my words.

Grilled Herb Shrimp
Serves 6

2 pounds large shrimp (16 to 20 per pound), peeled and deveined (see note)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium yellow onion, small-diced
¼ cup minced fresh parsley
¼ cup minced fresh basil
1 teaspoon dry mustard
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup good olive oil
1 lemon, juiced

Combine all the ingredients and allow them to marinate for 1 hour at room temperature or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

Skewer the shrimp. I use 3 or 4 shrimp on a 12-inch skewer for dinner. Heat a grill with coals and brush the grill with oil to prevent the shrimp from sticking. Grill the shrimp for only 1 1/2 minutes on each side.

Note: I leave the tails on when I'm peeling the shrimp.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Raspberry-Ricotta Mousse

This recipe is light, quick and fresh – the perfect dessert for a hot summer evening. It’s not as heavy as cheesecake yet just rich enough to be satisfying. Once you master the method, you can make a chocolate or peanut butter mousse in the same fashion. You can do any flavor you want. The possibilities are endless!

Raspberry-Ricotta Mousse
Serves 4-6

1 (15-ounce) container whole milk ricotta cheese
½ cup raspberry jam
1 cup whipping cream
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 cup fresh raspberries

In a food processor blend the ricotta cheese until light and fluffy, about 20 seconds. Add the jam and pulse until combined. Transfer to a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, using an electric hand mixer beat the cream until thick. Add the powdered sugar and continue to beat until the cream holds stiff peaks. Working in batches, carefully fold the cream mixture into the ricotta mixture. Spoon the mousse into serving bowls and refrigerate for 1 hour. Garnish with fresh raspberries and serve.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Rainbows and Butterflies Pasta Salad

It’s almost back to school. Make the transition from summer a little easier with this lunchbox treat. I try to make food fun so that my kids will eat their veggies. This recipe name comes from the multicolored vegetables and, of course, butterfly-shaped pasta. We’ve even turned it into a game to see who can get every color into one bite.

Rainbows and Butterflies Pasta Salad
Serves 4

8 ounces bow tie pasta, preferably whole grain
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup corn kernels, thawed if frozen
1 cup shelled edamame, thawed if frozen
1 medium red bell pepper, diced
2 medium carrots, shredded (about ½ cup)
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese (about 1 ounce)

Cook the pasta as the label directs. Drain and toss with 1 teaspoon olive oil to prevent sticking; let cool.

In a large bowl, toss the cooled pasta with the corn, edamame, bell pepper and carrots. Drizzle with the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil and toss to coat. Add the parmesan and 1/4 teaspoon salt; toss again and season to taste.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Grilled Barramundi with Wasabi Sautéed Shrimp and Scallops in an Asian Broth

I love seafood and when I visited Australia recently I was in seafood heaven. With most of the Australian population residing in coastal areas, fish and seafood is popular. Apart from the 800 plus Outback Steakhouse restaurants which claim to be Australian restaurants, there aren’t many restaurants that actually serve a form of Australian cuisine.

In Australia, Barramundi is an iconic table fish revered across the whole country. It could be said that it is a quintessential Australian brand. This recipe totally reminds me of Australia. The flavor is unique and refreshing – salty, tangy, spicy. It’s a flavor explosion! And did I mention the scallops and shrimp? They really add to the dish. Now you don’t have to travel a bloody long way to get a taste of Australia.

Grilled Barramundi with Wasabi Sautéed Shrimp and Scallops in an Asian Broth
Serves 4

4 tablespoons sesame oil
1 cup chopped shrimp with tails, plus 4 whole, peeled and deveined
1 cup chopped scallops, plus 4 whole
4 shallots, chopped
6 cloves garlic, chopped
½ cup mirin
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ cup rice vinegar
16 ounces water
1 ¼ cups chopped cilantro leaves
½ cup chopped basil leaves
3 green onions, chopped
½ carrot, chopped
4 (6-ounce) barramundi fillets, or substitute tilapia fillets
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon wasabi powder
1 teaspoon hot chili sauce (recommended: Sriracha)

Cook’s Note: You can substitute cod, tilapia or red snapper if you prefer.

In a large sauté pan, heat 3 tablespoons sesame oil over medium heat. To pan, add the chopped shrimp, chopped scallops, shallots and garlic. Cook until lightly golden. Add the mirin, soy sauce, rice vinegar and simmer about 5 minutes. Stir in the water and 1 cup cilantro and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer the broth until reduced by 1/3, about 20 minutes. Strain liquid and discard solids. Reserve the liquid.

Preheat grill or grill pan.

Combine the remaining cilantro, the basil, green onions and carrot in a bowl. Set aside.

Season the fillets with salt and pepper. Grill until tender and flakes easily. Set aside.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, toss the whole shrimp and scallops in wasabi and season with salt and pepper. In a medium sauté pan, heat remaining 1 tablespoon sesame oil over medium heat. Cook the whole shrimp and scallops until golden on both sides. Set aside.

Place ¼ teaspoon of the chili sauce in the bottom of each soup bowl. Ladle some of the broth into each bowl. Stir to gently mix the broth and the chili sauce. Lay 1 fillet of fish into the broth, then surround the fish with 1 shrimp and 1 scallop. Garnish with chopped cilantro, basil, green onions and carrot mixture. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Mexican Lasagna

I love lasagna but it can be so time consuming to make, especially on a weeknight. So, instead I do Mexican lasagna. It’s got all of the flavor (and layering) of traditional lasagna but with a Mexican twist. In fact, you could rename it a Lasagn-chilada because it tastes like an enchilada.

So, if you can’t decide whether you want to make lasagna or enchiladas, try this recipe. It’s easy to make, tasty and kid-tested. What have you got to lose?

Mexican Lasagna
Serves 4

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 pounds ground chicken breast or turkey (or if you’re in a pinch a rotisserie chicken will do)
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained
1 cup medium heat taco sauce or 1 (14-oz) can stewed or fire roasted tomatoes
1 cup frozen corn kernels
8 (8 inch) corn flour tortillas
2 ½ cups shredded Cheddar or shredded pepper jack

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Preheat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil -twice around the pan. Add chicken or turkey and season with chili powder and cumin. Brown the meat, 5 minutes. Add taco sauce or stewed or fire roasted tomatoes. Add black beans and corn. Heat the mixture through, 2 to 3 minutes then season with salt, to your taste.

Coat a shallow baking dish with remaining extra-virgin olive oil, about 1 tablespoon oil. Cut the tortillas in half or quarters to make them easy to layer with. Build lasagna in layers of meat and beans, then tortillas, then cheese. Repeat: meat, tortilla, cheese again. Bake lasagna 12 to 15 minutes until cheese is brown and bubbly.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Ginger-Soy-Lime Marinated Shrimp

This is such a tasty shrimp recipe. Pair with grilled corn or an Asian noodle or sesame salad and you’ve got a wonderful dinner. So, what are you waiting for? Give your taste buds an experience they’ll never forget.

Ginger-Soy-Lime Marinated Shrimp
Serves 8

2 large shallots, peeled and chopped
1 (2-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
4 cloves garlic, smashed
¾ cup soy sauce
½ cup fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons sugar
¼ cup chopped green onions
¼ cup peanut oil
¼ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
2 pounds large shrimp, shells and tails on

Place shallots, ginger, garlic, soy, lime juice, and sugar in a blender and blend until smooth. Add the green onion and oil and blend until combined. Season with black pepper, to taste. Place shrimp in a large bowl, pour the marinade over, and let marinate at room temperature for 20 minutes.

Preheat a grill to high. Remove shrimp from the marinade and grill for 1 ½ to 2 minutes per side. Serve on brown paper bags, if desired.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Sausage-and-Pepper Skewers

Company coming? This fast, healthy recipe will satisfy guests in a flash. I used chicken sausage to make these skewers lower fat, yet still satisfying; however, you can easily substitute Italian sausage.

Sausage-and-Pepper Skewers
Serves 4

1 cup couscous
2 bell peppers (red and yellow), cut into chunks
1 (12-ounce) package chicken sausage (preferably garlic-flavored), cut into 1-inch pieces
1 large red onion, cut into chunks
1 cup cherry tomatoes
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
¼ cup fresh parsley
¼ cup fresh cilantro
4 scallions, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

Soak eight 8-inch skewers in water, at least 15 minutes. Preheat a grill or grill pan to medium high. Prepare the couscous as the label directs.

Meanwhile, toss the bell peppers, sausage, onion and tomatoes in a bowl with 1 tablespoon olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Thread onto the skewers, alternating the sausage and vegetables. Grill, turning, until the vegetables are slightly softened and the sausage begins to brown, 6 to 7 minutes.

Meanwhile, puree the parsley, cilantro and scallions in a blender with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, the vinegar and 2 tablespoons water. Season with salt and pepper. Brush the skewers with some of the pesto and continue to cook, turning, until the tomatoes are tender and the sausage is charred, 6 to 7 more minutes.

Toss the couscous with half of the remaining pesto and season with salt and pepper. Serve with the skewers and the remaining pesto, for dipping.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Fish Fajitas with Spicy Salsa Verde

These fish fajitas are so easy to make. They don’t take a lot of time and are incredibly delicious. As for the salsa verde? That’s what takes this recipe over the top. It’s fresh, tasty and packs a ton of flavor.

Fish Fajitas with Spicy Salsa Verde
Serves 8

1 ½ pounds mahi mahi, skin removed
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 fresh lime
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 (8-inch) flour tortillas
Salsa Verde, recipe follows
1 avocado, sliced

Preheat the grill to medium-high heat.

Cut the fish into 1-inch strips and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with lime juice.

With a rag or paper towel, grease the grill with oil to prevent sticking. Place fish on grill gently; and cook for 3 minutes on each side, turning carefully with tongs.

On the cooler outer edges of the grill place the tortillas to warm them. Transfer the warmed tortillas to a plate or a wide shallow bowl lined with a clean kitchen towel. Fold the edges of the towel over tortillas to keep them warm.

To assemble, divide the fish among tortillas and top with salsa verde and avocado slices. Squeeze lime juice over the avocado and roll up the tortillas.

Salsa Verde
1 ½ pound tomatillos
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
½ cup finely chopped white onion
½ cup cilantro leaves
2 jalapeno peppers, stemmed, seeded and chopped
¼ teaspoon sugar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Remove papery husks from tomatillos and rinse well. Cut in half and place cut side down on a foil-lined baking sheet. Place under a broiler for about 5 to 7 minutes to lightly blacken the skin.

Place tomatillos, lime juice, onions, cilantro, jalapeno peppers and sugar in a food processor or blender and pulse until all ingredients are finely chopped and mixed. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Serve with chips or as a salsa accompaniment to Mexican dishes.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


It’s August and too hot to start up the grill. Head to your local farmer’s market, fill up your basket/bag full of fresh produce and give this gazpacho recipe a try. It’s gazpacho with an attitude. It’s a little different from your typical gazpacho and is ideal for vegetarians and the health conscious.

Serves 4

1 ½ pounds vine-ripened tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
Tomato juice
1 cup cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
½ cup chopped red bell pepper
½ cup chopped red onion
1 small jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 medium garlic clove, minced
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 lime, juiced
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon toasted, ground cumin
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, chiffonade

Fill a 6-quart pot halfway full of water, set over high heat and bring to a boil.

Make an X with a paring knife on the bottom of the tomatoes. Drop the tomatoes into the boiling water for 15 seconds, remove and transfer to an ice bath and allow to cool until able to handle, approximately 1 minute. Remove and pat dry. Peel, core and seed the tomatoes. When seeding the tomatoes, place the seeds and pulp into a fine mesh strainer set over a bowl in order to catch the juice. Press as much of the juice through as possible and then add enough bottled tomato juice to bring the total to 1 cup.

Place the tomatoes and juice into a large mixing bowl. Add the cucumber, bell pepper, red onion, jalapeno, garlic clove, olive oil, lime juice, balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire, cumin, salt and pepper and stir to combine. Transfer 1 1/2 cups of the mixture to a blender and puree for 15 to 20 seconds on high speed. Return the pureed mixture to the bowl and stir to combine. Cover and chill for 2 hours and up to overnight. Serve with chiffonade of basil.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

South O’ the Border Prawn Masala

I am not a huge fan of Indian food primarily because I haven’t been exposed to it. However, I love food and am willing to expand my palate. With its exotic aroma and complex flavor, this unique shrimp recipe is one of the best. It’s no surprise that it can seem daunting to cook Indian food at home; but hopefully I’ve cut the fuss with this casual, home-style Indian dish that’s perfect for everyday cooking.

South O’ the Border Prawn Masala
Serves 4 to 6

1 pound large head-on prawns, shelled, deveined, heads and shells reserved
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large red onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 small jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
2 dried arbol chile, stemmed
1 dried ancho chile, stemmed
1 (14-ounce) can peeled tomatoes in juice, drained, liquid reserved
¾ teaspoon ground turmeric
½ teaspoon garam masala
¼ cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
Naan bread, for serving

Remove the prawn heads. In a medium saucepot, bring the prawn heads, shells and 5 cups of water to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onions, garlic, ginger, and jalapeno, and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes.
While the vegetables cook, break the arbol chiles and ancho chile into pieces (remove the seeds, if you prefer less heat and spice), then grind in a spice grinder to a fine powder. Set aside.
Crush the tomatoes with your hands.

Add the turmeric, garam masala, and 2 teaspoons of the ground chile powder to the skillet. Reserve the remaining chile powder for another use. Sauté the mixture for 30 seconds, then add the crushed tomatoes and 1/4 cup of the reserved tomato juice. Cook the mixture, stirring, until thickened and most of liquid is cooked out. *Cook’s note: This sweetens the tomatoes and helps bring all the flavors together.

Strain the prawn shells from the water and discard the shells. The water is now a prawn stock. Add 2 cups of the prawn stock to the tomato mixture and bring the mixture to a simmer. The remaining prawn stock can be cooled and frozen for future use. Simmer the tomato mixture, uncovered, for 10 minutes.

Add the prawns to the skillet and cook, stirring gently, until just cooked through, about 4 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, then add the heavy cream and fresh dill. Let the mixture simmer, for 2 minutes more, stirring gently. Season with salt, and pepper, to taste. Serve the masala with warm naan.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Portobello and Asparagus Salad

This is an updated smart salad recipe for those who like to indulge in pasta salads. I love portobello mushrooms and asparagus during the summer. Pair these two ingredients with pasta and it’s the perfect combination the entire family will love. Fresh, versatile and oh-so-flavorful, this is the perfect summer recipe!

Portobello and Asparagus Salad
Serves 6

4 large portobello mushrooms, stems removed
1 bunch fresh asparagus, tough ends removed
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 pound penne pasta, cooked
Seasoning, recipe follows

Remove stems from portobello mushrooms.

Brush mushrooms, asparagus and tomatoes with olive oil. Grill mushrooms over medium heat until tender, 4 to 5 minutes per side, turning occasionally. Cut mushrooms into thin strips; place in a medium bowl.

Grill asparagus over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes, turning occasionally. Cut asparagus into 2 inch lengths; add to mushrooms in bowl.

Grill tomatoes, cut side down, over medium heat for 3 minutes. Add to mushrooms and asparagus and toss in the pasta. Drizzle with lemon juice and olive oil. Sprinkle with seasoning, tossing gently to coat.

1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and transfer to an airtight container. Store in a cool, dry place up to 6 months.