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.

You may not copy or otherwise reproduce any of this content without prior written permission.

Monday, June 30, 2008

BBQ Bacon Shrimp

My husband would call this "Heaven, wrapped in heaven, basted with heaven." This dish combines all his faves into one perfect skewer of heaven. I made this for him, as it wouldn't have been an idea to enter my mind necessarily, but I can't always cook for me, can I?

This is easy and a quick grilled dinner/lunch. This would also make a nice appetizer!

Basic BBQ Sauce:
16 oz tomato sauce
1/4 c cider vinegar
3 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp vidalia onion, minced
2 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 tsp each, Salt, Chili Powder, Dry Mustard and Smoked Paprika

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and simmer over low heat for about 20-30 minutes. Stir occasionally to make sure the sauce doesn't burn. Allow to cool before basting raw foods. This makes a little over 2 cups of BBQ sauce and can be stored in a container in the refrigerator.

Soak skewers in water for about 1 hour before you're ready to cook shrimp.
For the shrimp:
1lb fresh shrimp, peeled and de-veined (I leave the tails on)
1/2 lb center cut bacon
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp fresh ground black pepper

Wrap each shrimp with a small piece of the bacon. I was able to wrap 3 shrimp per slice of bacon. Skewer shrimp onto stick and sprinkle with cayenne and black pepper. Grill over direct medium high heat about 3 minutes. Baste with BBQ sauce, and turn over and grill another 3 minutes. Baste shrimp on both sides with sauce, until coated to your preference.

Serve and enjoy!

You could probably use the recipe for Balsamic BBQ sauce for this dish too!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Lemon Berry Scones

I made these for Father's Day, for my incredible dad, who's been nothing but a beacon of strength and love through my mother's illness. My dad and I have always been pals, from the beginning. We used to go on hikes together and collect bugs, then we 'd take them home and identify what kind they were. (As an adult, I scream at the sight of a spider..what happened?) These days, he and I love going on culinary field trips together, to Asian food markets and farmers markets and he always sends me articles from the paper on food related topics. These little things reminds me of how much he cares, and how much he thinks of me in his day to day life. He was my first hero and my glimpse of what a real, dedicated, honorable man should be, and I'm proud that he is my father.

Now, wipe your eyes, and read the recipe below!

This was my first attempt at making a scone (what's wrong with me?) despite my Irish heritage and the fact that I love them! My mother makes them, my grandmother did, so I can too, right? Well my dad liked them, and I thought the texture and flavor were good, but I'm gonna have to make a few more batches of these to really perfect them! Overall, A+ from Dad on the first try!

2 c all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
1/2 c butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
1/2 c milk
1 egg
1 tsp lemon zest
1/2 c fresh raspberries
1/4 c fresh blackberries
2 tbsp milk
1 Tbs. sugar

Preheat oven to 425ยบ F.

In large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. Cut in butter with pastry blender (or your fingers) until the dough has coarse crumbs throughout.

In a separate bowl, combine 1/2 c milk, egg and lemon zest and mix well. Add milk mixture to dry ingredients, mixing with fork just until dry ingredients are moist and a soft dough forms. Gently stir in berries. Gather dough into a ball and gently knead for about 1 minute. (Don't be afraid to add some flour to your work surface or your hands to keep the dough from sticking to you or your surfaces!)
Place dough on greased baking sheet. Pat into about a 9-inch circle, 1/2-inch thick. With sharp knife, cut through dough to form 8 wedges; but do not separate. Brush top of dough with 2 tbsp milk; sprinkle with sugar.

Bake until golden brown, 20 to 22 minutes. Cut through scones, separating wedges, and return to oven for a bout 5 minutes.
For the glaze:
equal parts lemon juice, zest and confectioners sugar. Stir until blended and a "glaze" like consistency is formed. Place into a small sandwich bag, cut the tip of a corner, and lightly drizzle across each scone. Allow to cool and serve!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Fresh Pea Smash

As you might have read here I'm in love with fresh peas. I've loved peas since I was a small child, when other friends were hiding them in their napkins or under the mashed potato, I was eating them all with great delight!

I'm calling this a smash, because It's not really whipped or mashed completely, as I left lots of whole peas throughout to maintain the freshness of the peas from the farmers market.

This may resemble guacamole, as my friend Kate suggested, but its really an incredibly tasty pea smash. (Yes, I sent her this picture and asked her if it resembled anything unappealing or non edible) I'm not sure what else to call it, and I know it appears green and a tad mushy, but again, I love peas, and by using the fresh peas, it's not a total pile of mush.

1 c of chicken stock
2 c fresh peas
1 clove of garlic, minced fine
2 tbsp lime thyme (any kind of thyme would work here)
1 tbsp butter
1tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated fine

Heat butter and oil over med-high heat and saute garlic and thyme for about 2 minutes. Add the stock, bring to a boil, and add the peas. Cook peas in stock for about 5 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove half of the pea mixture and put aside. In a small food processor, add remaining peas and stock and process for about 30 seconds, on intervals. Remove mixture and add to reserved whole peas and mix well. Fold Parmesan cheese into pea smash, and serve!

I had a really beautiful tuna steak, that I grilled with just salt and pepper and a drizzle of lemon juice. I topped my pea smash with the tuna steak and it was a really good dinner!

(***Cooks note: This would also make a great spread on grilled pieces of Italian bread, topped with a thin slice of prosciutto!***)

Friday, June 20, 2008

Tomato and Cucumber Salad

This salad to me represents all the good things about summer. The freshest, crisp and perfectly ripe tomato's and the tang of the red wine vinegar all come together with fresh basil and red onion to make a powerful, yet simple tasting salad.

This is my "go-to" salad on hot nights. In the summer when I've got an abundance of produce, salad becomes a part of every meal, and that can get a little boring if it's always the same concoction of lettuce, veggies and dressing. I had a great little pack of mixed tomato's, will baby heirloom tomato's and cherry, grape, yellow and orange tomato's from Trader Joe's. I love these packs because they are mixed with various color, and don't we eat with our eye's first, anyway? Since everything was so colorful, I also decided to not only add sweet basil to the salad, but some of my gorgeous opal basil too.

This is almost silly to call it a recipe, as it's more just making myself something that I am craving to eat. The flavors, colors and freshness is really what I want to accomplish, and thus this "recipe" comes together on my dinner plate!

1 c small tomato's (mixed variety)
(if you have all the same variety of tomato, this will still taste just like summer!)
1/8 c thinly sliced red onion
2 mini cucumbers or 1 large, sliced about 1/4 inch thick
1 c fresh sweet and opal basil, chopped roughly
1/4 c red wine vinegar
1/3 c olive oil
sea salt to taste

Mix all ingredients into a bowl, and let sit in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to allow flavors to meld together. Serve and enjoy. Can be saved for tomorrow nights dinner too!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Quinoa Tabbouleh

I grew up eating tabbouleh because my mother loved Middle Eastern food and would make it quite often. It has all the great summer ingredients, like fresh parsley, mint and lemon juice. Traditionally it has almost more of the herb mixture than grain. I've always loved tabbouleh, but didn't have the traditional barley, but I had a box of quinoa (say it...keen-wah) in my pantry and went with that instead. Quinoa has a bitter outer layer, so you have to rinse and lightly scrub the grain in a colander before preparing.

2 c water
1 c quinoa, rinsed

Heat quinoa and water in a sauce pan over med-high heat, until water is boiling. Cover, and reduce heat to med-low. Cook quinoa for about 10-15 minutes, or until all the water is absorbed. Allow to cool.

3 small tomatoes, diced
1/2 c cucumber, diced
3 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
1/2 c fresh parsley, chopped
1 lemon , juice and zest
1/3 c good quality olive oil
a pinch of allspice
Sea Salt to taste

Add all ingredients into a bowl and mix together. Add in quinoa and mix until well blended. Allow to sit in refrigerator about 30 minutes before serving!

Tricking your Tounge

For a great blog post and pictures on the Miracle Fruit Party , check out Dara's blog at .

She took pictures (I left my camera on my dining room table) and she wrote up a nice summary.

Also, Roopa (have you seen how amazing her blog is?) of has a very detailed blog post. Check it out!

Also, if you missed hearing me (I know you're all on the edges of your seats waiting to hear my voice)... On Friday, I was a guest on Maryland Mornings, on National Public Radio.

You can listen here!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Listen Here- Miracle Fruit Segment on WYPR

This morning between 9-930 est, I'll be on WYPR, 88.1, talking about Miracle Fruit.

If you get a chance, listen! I'll write more after it's aired.

In the meantime, check out another wonderful Baltimore food blogger, here.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Cold Soba Noodles with Fresh Peas, Pea Shoots and a Soy Ginger Dipping Sauce

Two Sunday's ago, my husband and I made our way down to the Baltimore Farmer's Market, under the JFX to find a much larger, more intense, more insanely packed version of my beloved Waverly Farmer's Market . While it was a wonderful market, I found a lot of vendors (isn't this the way these markets tend to be in late spring/early summer) to be selling plants and herbs etc. Well, luckily this year, I got my zucchini, squash, heirloom tomato and early girl tomato, and all my herbs planted and underway! We were on the hunt for the "Pea Man" as I call him... a farmer ( I wish I knew which farm he's from; will find that out this weekend) who brings these huge coolers of fresh picked peas that are so sweet and so crisp, that you have to resist eating them raw, from the bag. By the time we found him, there were mere pea remnants on the ground, a reminder of what could have been.... what might have been had I beat all of Baltimore to the market that day.

This past weekend, I redeemed myself, because at my beloved Waverly Farmer's Market, my "Pea Man" was there and still had enough peas for me to get 2lbs of these amazing green orbs of spring. Now, if you don't like peas (they actually happen to be in my top 3 favorite vegetables of all time) I highly recommend you have real, fresh peas. Frozen aren't bad if they are barely thawed, and canned is vegetable blasphemy. I encourage all "pea haters" to revisit them if you have the opportunity to get a few in your hands. The most other pleasant surprise was the bounty of pea shoots (or vine) available, and I figured if you got the pea, you might as well have the shoot too!

Now, on to most important matters... the recipe. Baltimore has been reminiscent of my reading Dante's Inferno, and the heat has been so incredibly intense, that it's hard to be inspired to eat, much less eat something that isn't iced.

I love soba noodles and most Japanese style noodle dishes with such passion, that I decided to whip some up for a lovely and light dish for lunch.

1/2 lb soba noodles, cooked and chilled
1 tsp vegetable oil
1 c pea shoots, chopped roughly
1/3 c fresh peas
1/2 c chilled soy ginger broth
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 spring onion, chopped fine
1 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tbsp fresh cilantro

In a small frying pan, saute the spring onion, pea shoots and garlic in the vegetable oil, about 2 minutes, until the shoots are lightly wilted and the garlic has cooked.
Mix the cooled mixture into the soba noodles, adding the fresh peas, cilantro and red pepper flakes.

To eat, dip a bite of the noodle mixture into the broth, and shovel into your mouth with great intensity. Repeat. (Wear a bib!)

Monday, June 9, 2008

Zucchini Ribbon Salad

So much of my summer cooking is driven by several factors including, what I can get at the farmers market fresh, what's growing in my backyard and exactly how HOT it may or may not be outside. This is a great dish to make when you've already fired up the grill for dinner. By grilling your zucchini first, you can cook your other dishes while the zucchini rest. I made this for 2 people, but you could easily double or triple this recipe for a larger crowd.

If there ever was a reason to own a mandoline, this would be one. I've actually wanted one since I registered at Williams Sonoma for our wedding, almost three years ago. I never got it, but after making this salad, I think it might be worth it. Instead of a mandoline, I used a really sharp vegetable peeler, and while it worked and made beautiful zucchini ribbons, they weren't as uniformed as I wanted them.

4 zucchini, washed and ends trimmed
1 red bell pepper, cleaned and sliced thin
1/2 c good quality extra virgin olive oil
1-2 lemons juiced (about 1/4 c lemon juice)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp red chili flakes
1 tsp each, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 c fresh basil chopped
1/4 c fresh mint chopped
2 tbsp fresh ground Parmesan

Using a mandoline or a vegetable peeler, thinly slice the zucchini lengthwise. Toss the zucchini and bell pepper with 1/4 of the olive oil, salt and pepper, to taste. Quickly grill the zucchini ribbons and bell pepper on 1 side, until lightly marked and wilted, about 1 minute. Flip zucchini ribbons and pepper slices over and grill another minute. Move vegetables to a plate and let cool slightly.

In another bowl, whisk the remaining 1/4 c olive oil, lemon juice, basil, mint, garlic and red pepper flakes and Parmesan together. Add cooled vegetables to mixture, toss to coat and serve.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Very Berry Tart

A tart is a pastry dish, that is a type of a pie with an "open face", that is not covered with pastry. Often tart's in pastry shops or bakery's have been baked in tart pans and have a lovely, crisp edge defined perfectly by the fluting of the tart pan. I had a pound of strawberries, blueberries and blackberries in my refrigerator and some puff pastry in my freezer, and decided to whip up a simple but beautiful dessert. This is a very simple idea, and you can use any sort of fruit you want, including stone fruit, apples and pears or even grapes! You could even do this in a savory way (which I love) and try goat cheese and roasted leek for a light spring lunch.

1lb strawberries, sliced thin
1/2 lb blackberries
1 pint blueberries ( this is an estimate, as I just filled in the "gaps" with the blueberries)
2 tbsp orange marmalade
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp honey
1 large frozen puff pastry sheet, thawed
1 egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 400* F.
After your puff pastry has thawed, lay it out on a lightly floured surface. Using a rolling pin, roll out the puff pastry only a little, adding about one inch to length and width.

Lay the pastry on parchment paper and transfer to a baking sheet.
Begin laying strawberry slices in a row, slightly overlapping the edges, making sure to leave about 1 1/2 inches on each edge of the pastry. Continue laying slices in rows, about 1 inch apart. Once you're done, fill in the 1 inch rows with blackberries and blueberries.

Once all your berries are placed, begin to fold over the puff pastry edges, slightly covering the first and last berry of each row. With a pastry brush, brush the beaten egg lightly on the pastry edges.

In a small saucepan, melt the marmalade, butter and honey. Drizzle this mixture over the berries in the tart.
Place tart in the oven and bake about 15-20 minutes, or until the pastry has "puffed". Allow to sit about 20 minutes and serve. This tart can be stored in the refrigerator and kept up to 2 days. Either reheat in the oven or serve room temperature.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Grilled Chicken Paillard with Lemon and Black Pepper

This is a very basic and simple warm night dinner or lunch, that I love. I had 3-5 lemons that needed to be used, so I decided to use the juice and zest to marinate the chicken breasts I had in the fridge.

My husband has become grill obsessed since we moved into our home last April, and we've pretty much grilled since day one. We even made ribs in February...because we missed the charcoal effect so much through the winter. This recipe is so easy because if you marinate the chicken and then start the grill, by the time your coals (you aren't using gas are you???) are ready, your chicken is marinated.

Paillard is a term for any kind of meat or chicken, that's been pounded very thin. I love to grill think chicken breasts because not only are they quick as can be, but also because they tend to not dry out as easy.

4 chicken breasts, pounded thin (about 3/4 lb)
1/2 c fresh lemon juice
1/2 c good quality extra virgin olive oil
1 shallot, chopped fine
1 tbsp fresh ground pepper

Whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, shallot and pepper, and add chicken breasts. Allow to marinate about 30 minutes.

Remove chicken from marinade, season with sea salt on both sides and grill about 3 minutes on each side.
I served this with a light salad of baby greens, tomato and red onion, with a red wine vinaigrette.