The recipes on this blog are a combination of things I've learned over the years and meals inherited through generations of adoration for good food. They are a cherished property, so please be good to them.

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Thursday, May 31, 2007

Grilled Beef and Veggie Kabobs

Not having a real grill within my reach for the last 7 years, I've missed kabobs terribly. I just love the concept of the proportioned pieces and the rainbow of color you can create. The concept of kabobs allows for your own choices and they are great served with a salad or simple side. The fail safe rule here is to go for like sized portions of each ingredient.

For the beef:
1lb good quality tender beef, cubed
2 tbsp chopped garlic
1/2 c Worcestershire Sauce
1 tbsp each: ground coriander, smoked paprika and black pepper

Place all ingredients in a a sealed container and marinate for at least 2 hours.

***Cooks note: Soak bamboo sticks in water during the time the meat is in the marinade so they don't burn on the grill. ****

1 zucchini
1 red onion
1 red bell pepper
Several small whole tomato's for the ends of each kabob

Drizzle all with olive oil and salt and pepper.

Go wild and crazy....just stack them up and make sure to not crowd to many items on each stick.

Grill kabobs over hot coals using direct heat method, for about 10-15 minutes depending on how hot your grill is.

Summer Fruit Salsa

Salsa is super easy to assemble and bring to a party or just store in a Tupperware for snacking throughout the week. In the spring/summer months the ripe and fresh fruits available to you (at least in Baltimore) are endless. I got my hands on some beautiful strawberries from the Waverly Farmers Market that were so much better than anything I've seen in the local grocery stores.

Summer Fruit Salsa

1 cup each; small diced:
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
1 JalapeƱo , de-seeded and finely chopped
1 good handful of fresh mint
1 lime juice and zest
1 tsp coarse salt

Mix all ingredients together in a reactive safe bowl and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before serving to let flavors meld.

****Cooks Note: We had guests over and I made this salsa to top a salmon fillet that had sat in a dry rub of creole inspired seasons. I grilled the salmon and topped with this salsa and served along a garden salad. It was a simple, light and delicious meal. The following day this salsa was fabulous with some blue corn chips and a cold beer.***

(picture to follow)

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Almost Three Weeks, no new posts

Well I'm having a camera situation going on and have been unable to post pictures of some of the most fun food I've been making.

I've become a grilling woman, with the new house/backyard/grill combo that has just become a huge change in my cooking experiences.

I just love using the grill and can't wait to share all my new concepts/flavors and recipes.

Stay tuned.... not much longer now!

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Swordfish with Salmoriglio Sauce

When the weather turns warm, I turn to citrus. I love keeping a bowl filled with lemons, limes and oranges. Perhaps its my Sicilian ancestors influence or the fact that I adore all three equally.

Salmoriglio is a pungent Italian sauce of olive oil, lemon, garlic, and oregano. You can either apply it to the fish before grilling/broiling/baking or pass it around the table for drizzling over the fish. Freshness is key for this sauce, so prepare it as close to serving time as possible.

**Cooks note: You could use this sauce on other thick bodied white fish, shrimp or chicken. If you are a shellfish kind of person, this would be fantastic drizzled over mussels steamed in white wine.**

For the sauce:
6 tbsp good quality olive oil
1/4 c fresh lemon juice
zest of one lemon
a good handful of Italian parsley and oregano, finely chopped
2 tbsp finely chopped garlic @ 4 cloves
** I had some extra basil lying around and added that into my sauce as well.**

Combine all ingredients, stirring well with a whisk.

Preheat a grill or broiler. Brush both sides of the fillets with some of the Salmoriglio and sprinkle salt and freshly ground black pepper on both sides. Grill or broil until the fillets are just cooked through, about 5 minutes per side.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Polenta Cakes

Polenta is one of those versatile foods because you can use it as a base for so many different flavors. Much like pasta, it's best when accompanied with flavors from other ingredients (although my grandfather could eat it with Parmesan and butter and be a happy man) and it can be served "messy" or made into cakes or other more firm presentations.

4 cups water or chicken stock
1 cup polenta
2 teaspoons salt

In a heavy medium saucepan, bring the water to a boil over high heat. Stir the polenta and salt into the water, lower the heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, stirring from time to time. Cook until the polenta is cooked through and thickens, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Pour the polenta into a lightly oiled, shallow baking dish. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 6 hours and up to 2 days in advance.
Run a knife around the edge of the baking dish and un-mold the polenta onto a cutting board.

You can cut the polenta into squares or I used a circle cookie cutter to make rounds.

At this point you can grill, broil or pan fry the polenta until crisp.

I added some fresh tomato's, basil and grated mozzarella for a Caprice style lunch.

**Cooks note: You could replace regular old mozzarella sticks with polenta sticks. Cut the polenta into strips and deep fry in oil for a few minutes until crisp and brown. Serve with marinara sauce. ***

Pesto Gnocchi

There are several versions and methods for making gnocchi. Most common are potato gnocchi and ricotta gnocchi. Potato is easier, in my opinion as with ricotta you have to let the cheese drain using a cheesecloth usually over night. Typiclly, gnocchi are rolled off the edge of a fork for the extra grooves (better to catch sauce with) but when I want to make a ton and freeze for later, I tend to go the easier route without any grooves.

For the gnocchi:
4 large russet potatoes (about 2 1/2 lbs), peeled and cut into sixths
1-1/4 c plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 large egg yolks
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
Generous pinch freshly ground nutmeg
Freshly ground black pepper

In a medium saucepan, place the potatoes and cover with cold salted water by 1 inch. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer, uncovered, until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain.
Using a ricer, or grate them on the large holes of a box grater....grate/rice the potato's. Place the potatoes onto a parchment-lined baking sheet in an even layer (don't pile the riced potatoes into mounds). Set aside to cool.

Transfer the potatoes to a large bowl and, using a spatula, gently mix in the flour, yolks, salt, nutmeg, and pepper until just combined and a soft dough is formed. Don't over mix the dough or the gnocchi will be unpleasantly tough and mealy.

On a well-floured work surface, turn out the potato dough, and divide into 6 equal parts. With the palms of both hands gently roll each part into a "rope" 3/4-inch in diameter. Using a sharp knife cut each "rope" on an angle into 3/4-inch-long pieces.
(If you wish to shape the gnocchi: Hold a salad fork in one hand so it rests on the work surface at a 45-degree angle with the tines curving up. Place a piece of the dough at the top of the tines and hold it in place with your free thumb. In one gentle motion, quickly press and roll the dough along the tines. The gnocchi should have a small dent in one side and shallow grooves on the other, perfectly suited for holding a sauce.)
Transfer to a lightly floured baking sheet pan. Store in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours before cooking. ***Cooks note: you can freeze them at this stage in a air tight freezer bag. They usually don't last longer than 60 days in my freezer.***
To cook the gnocchi, place in a pot of boiling, salted water. Gnocchi take about 1-3 minutes at most. Remove with a slotted spoon and toss into pesto sauce. Serve immediately.
Basil Pesto:
2 c loosely packed basil leaves
2 tbsp toasted pine nuts
2 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan
1/4 tsp minced garlic (about one clove)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 c plus 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper

In a food processor, combine the basil, pine nuts, Parmesan, garlic, and salt and puree. While the motor is running, drizzle in the oil until incorporated. Season with pepper to taste. Use immediately or store in the refrigerator with a piece of plastic wrap placed right on the surface of the pesto to prevent discoloration, for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 1 month.