Monday, May 31, 2010

Crab, Guacamole, Black Bean Salad atop Fried Polenta and a Pop-Pop's Gift from WW II

For my Memorial Day post, I wanted to share with you something I wrote in my personal journal a few months back. I felt it was appropriate for the day. (I'll share with you the basics of this simple Polenta, Crab, Guacamole & Black Bean dish at the end, so if you don't want to read - just skip to the bottom!)

These Ebony and Ivory Elephant Bookends near the top of the list - of items I'd try to save - if God for bid a fire. My Pop-Pop (a Captain in the infantry in the India, China, Burma Theatre of WWII) brought them back from India. My mom recalls 'the pair' sitting in a dark, hallway closet for most of their lives. It wasn't until she was faced with going through her parent's belongings (to prepare for the selling of her childhood home) that the pachyderms reemerged ~ I was the lucky recipient!

When I look at the elephants, I can't help but think about all of the men my Pop-Pop served with who never returned home - yet these unique bookends (from that same time and place) made their way into mine. Today, we proudly display them on a shelf in our living room, aside old photographs of my late grandparents. I wish I knew more about the elephants...exactly how old they were, who made them and the circumstances - that led my Pop-Pop to think enough of them - to secure them in his bag for the long journey home. (I've imagined countless scenarios!) What I do know about the bookends...I love... and though they're probably not worth much me... they are priceless!

I have so many memories of my Pop-Pop I can't wait to share! He loved food...he loved crabs
(and so one of my earliest crab memories)...he loved my Grandmother...and this Memorial Day...I remember and honor him with this post. XO&MISS!

Pop-Pop & Mom-Mom (Jack & Catherine-aka "Chick")

Food Shown Above:- Scoop of Black Bean, Corn, Tomato, Red Onion, Jalapeno & Cilantro Salad with salt, pepper and lime juice

- Scoop of Jumbo Lump Crab Meat, Lemon Juice and Chili powder

-Scoop of Fresh Homemade Guacamole (click here and scroll down for a simple guac recipe) all sitting atop on pan fried polenta (tube purchased at Trader Joe's) with melted cotija (Mexican cheese)...a delicious, refreshing start... to a wonderful Memorial Day meal!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Asparagus Flat Bread Pizza and a Thank You

I know, I's not rocket science and frankly I was debating even posting this Asparagus Flat Bread Pizza - but it was so delicious - I thought if anything it might lend inspiration. After all, isn't that what food blogging is all about? Exploring, inspiring, possibly jogging a reader's memory to an equally delicious meal they had in their past. That's why I read your food's not so much for the recipes (though I've made many), than it is for that energy, spark, and adrenalin rush I get from viewing your beautiful photos and reading your thoughtfully penned, skillfully crafted words.

Like a triple shot Italian espresso, your sentence's rush through my veins and catapult me to my kitchen - usually resulting in a montage of dishes representative of my favorite posts from the day. So...I probably don't say it enough but, "thank you." Thank you for all the time you spend sharing your stories and all the hard work you put into making your blog one worthy of reading. You leave me yearning to be a better cook, a better writer, a better photographer...a better blogger... and though I may not know you personally, I can't help but feel a deep connection... to each and every one of you!

Asparagus Flat Bread Pizza
1 lb Asparagus, rinsed and chopped into approx. 1 inch pieces
2+ tablespoon olive oil
3 large garlic cloves, minced
freshly grated parmigiano reggiano
goat cheese
shredded mozzarella
S&P to taste

Preheat oven to 400. Saute olive oil and garlic in a pan over medium
heat until garlic sizzles. Add asparagus and cook approx 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn off heat & cover for 10 minutes. Take a food brush and brush some of the oil in the pan onto prepared flat bread. Top with Parmesan. Top with asparagus. Top with desired amount of goat cheese and mozzarella. Drizzle with more oil from the pan. Cook in oven approx 5-8 minutes until crisp on the edges and cheese is melted and bubbly. Perfect appetizer hot out of the oven or sitting on a tray at room temp. A simple crowd pleaser.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Easy Peach Cobbler, The Secret's Out!

Hands down the EASIEST Cobbler you'll ever make...if you don't already know about this TOP SECRET simple'll thank me for sharing! If you do know, then possibly you're mad I'm spilling the beans...divulging a secret that (for long) had people assuming you were an accomplished baker - who obviously took 'care and time' in the kitchen!

Absolutely PERFECT for this weekend (and long into the hot, summer months)... because we're all busy planning our menus, I'll keep this post (like the dessert itself)...short, sweet and to the point.

In the amount of time it took for you to read this - you could have, showered, dressed...prepared this cobbler .........and had it baking in the oven!

Easy Peach Cobbler:
1 large can sliced peaches in heavy syrup (drained of most but not all of the juice)
1/2 to 3/4 box white or yellow cake mix, dry
Butter, sliced (you can use as much as you want - but I usually end up
using about 1 stick)
Prepared Vanilla Ice Cream (optional, or in the words of my husband, "is it really?")

Set your oven to 375. Pour peaches with a little juice into a oven safe casserole dish. Pour the dry cake mix all over the top of the peaches. Place butter slices all over the top. Stick a fork in and out - all around just to incorporate some of the ingredients (don't stir). Place in the oven until hot, lightly browned on top, and bubbly delicious (about 30 min's). The EASIEST peach cobbler you'll ever make! DELICIOUS! (TRY IT ON A SMALLER SCALE IN RAMEKINS OR WITH OTHER FRUITS AND CAKE MIXES - CHERRIES AND DARK CHOCOLATE PERHAPS...) Even make a day ahead and reheat in the oven for a few minutes until hot & bubbly!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Turkey Apple Burger with Buffalo Sauce and Two Cheeses

Cross it off the list of things to accomplish before I die...I cooked the perfect Turkey Burger! I hearby declare all previous attempts at turkey burger making, null & void! Yes, that's right, those days of overcooking the poultry patty for fear of it turning to chalk, or undercooking for fear of sickening my kids, ARE OVER! Right up there with pancakes and meatloaf...the turkey burger is simply one of those meals, I've never gotten right...sadly leading to sorry excuses and anti-turkey burger remarks... (as in, "I'll save my turkey for Thanksgiving, thank you very much!")

Then came May 25, 2010, the fateful day I was presented with an uncanny set of circumstances, leaving no other choice but to "tango" with a formidable foe! Red meat three nights in a row (seriously?), a pound of ground turkey (the only item) staring at me through the drawer in the fridge, and a half-dozen, farmer's market rolls (unexpectedly) dropped off by a friend... despite my family's pleas of, "No!" ...I did.

I'm not sure if it was their utter distrust in me OR my innate need to conquer the one thing I'd become known for making so poorly...all of a sudden I was consumed with overwhelming confidence, skills and technique! Ingredients were flowing and right at hand, and like a well-rehearsed cooking segment, it all just seemed to jibe! What resulted was a turkey burger... so light, so perfectly cooked, so juicy and jam packed with flavor...even the finest, turkey burger connoisseur would have been left in awe of the chef!

So to my family, HA! I now have my sights set on that meatloaf (you'll happily eat or go to bed hungry)...and to the reader...another "epic tale" of, "when in the kitchen...if first you don't succeed...try, try... and try again!"

Turkey Apple Burger with Buffalo Sauce, Cheddar and Blue Cheese

4 Kaiser Rolls (I prefer kaiser rolls over those super soft and smooth hamburger rolls when eating turkey burgers, they lend a better texture when biting into!)

1 lb Ground Turkey
1 Tablespoon Chopped Parsley
2 Tablespoons Hot Sauce (I used Frank's Buffalo Sauce )
1/2 to 3/4 cup shredded Cheddar Cheese
1/4 cup crumbled Goat Cheese (or blue cheese, I prefer goat cheese in this recipe)
1 cup finely diced onion
1/2 cup finely diced celery
1/2 cup finely diced apple, peel removed
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon chili powder
S&P to taste

Yielded 4 large burgers.

Saute onion, celery and apple over medium heat until soft, about 8-10 minutes. Add garlic and chili powders, pinch of S&P and cook an additional minute stirring. Remove from pan and let cool. In a large bowl, combine ground turkey, another pinch of S&P, hot sauce, cheeses and parsley. Add cooled mixture to the turkey bowl. With clean hands, incorporate ingredients and form into burger patties without over-working the meat. If time allows, place in fridge for a few hours to set (makes cooking easier). When ready to cook, spray the burgers with cooking spray and make certain the grill or pan is well oiled too. Either grill or pan-fry over medium-high heat approx. 5 minutes per side (carefully flip only one time and never press on them!). Turn off heat source (or on charcoal grill move to low heat, or no heat side) and cover to let "steam" for 3 to 6 minutes, or until cooked through. <-- Very Important! Top with your choice of condiments. Shown here: topped with: shredded cheddar, tiny bit of goat cheese, thinly sliced red onion, piece of ice burg lettuce, thinly sliced tomato and a mixture of ketchup, mayo and hot sauce. YUM!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Grilled Yukon Gold Potato Salad with Red Pepper-Smoked Paprika Mayonnaise ...and a Note to Bobby

Husband's and Grandma's EVERYWHERE should be concerned! You did it again - and this time with potato salad...really Bobby, is nothing sacred? Just when I think I'm over you, you and one of your chili infused sauces or minty, mango drinks finds a way to reel me back in! The truth is...I don't want to break up. You're the one TV chef personality who's remained a steady constant in my life. I've dabbled in others and while I still have strong feelings towards Tyler, Curtis and Ming (stopping dead in my tracks if I happen to stumble upon one of their shows)'re the one I can truly count on and find, almost any time of day!

Some might say that means you're overexposed, (or like a turkey whose internal temp. reads 195) way overdone to the point of insanity...but I think those people are few and far between. We (the foodie home cooking public) crave your intense flavors and laid back mentality. We sense your presence in our kitchen's while reconstructing your magical, bold creations. I'll even go so far as to admit (because I know I'm not alone) engaging in full-fledged, pretend conversations with you while blackening peppers or chopping up mint and cilantro. (Yes, in my mind I'm a reoccurring guest on Grill it!... you and your viewers simply adore!)

Which brings me to why I'm here, your Grilled Yukon Gold Potato Salad with Red Pepper-Smoked Paprika Mayonnaise. The over the top flavors takes the classic potato salad to a whole new dimension! Resembling a deviled egg wrapped around perfectly grilled, soft, yet crisp potatoes, the dish is easy to prepare and leaves me wanting more! The sweetness of the roasted pepper, heat and depth of smokey paprika and zesty-zing of vinegar and dijon...combine perfectly with the intense, richness of a creamy mayonnaise. The fresh chopped parsley lends the perfect herbal ending!

A "go to" side dish full of pizazz - I warn anyone else who's reading - one bite will make it almost impossible to revisit your Grandma's potato salad (a recipe that up until the point you try Bobby's, was undoubtedly the best you ever had!)

So, Bobby... while my husband acknowledges and accepts our relationship, I'm pretty sure Grandma's far and wide messed with their potato salad Mr. Flay, (and though your dimpled cheeks and smile...adorable) best watch your back!

Grilled Yukon Gold Potato Salad with Red Pepper-Smoked Paprika Mayonnaise
Grill it! with Bobby Flay 2008

2 pounds small Yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup prepared mayonnaise
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 red bell peppers, grilled, peeled, seeded and diced (we used store bought)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon champagne or white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Spanish smoked paprika
Canola oil
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley, plus more for garnish

Heat the grill to high. Place the potatoes in a large saucepan and cover by 1-inch with cold water. Add 1 tablespoon of salt, bring to boil over high heat and cook until just cooked through, about 10 minutes. Drain, let cool slightly and halve.

While the potatoes are cooking, combine the mayonnaise, mustard, peppers, garlic, vinegar, paprika and salt and pepper in a blender or food processor and process until smooth.

Brush the cut sides of the potatoes with oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill cut side down until lightly golden brown, about 2 minutes.

Toss the potatoes with the red pepper mayonnaise while still warm, mashing slightly to break them up. Fold in the parsley and season with salt and pepper, if needed.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Brown Sugar Ginger Crisps & Vanilla Orange Zest Frozen Yogurt Sandwiches

A "creamsicle" stuffed between two cookies...let's begin with an, INTERESTING INGREDIENT FACT...

Ginger: A common article of medieval and Renaissance trade, it was one of the spices used against the plague. In English pubs and taverns in the nineteenth century, barkeepers put out small containers of ground ginger, for people to sprinkle into their beer — the origin of ginger ale. (Source: theepicentre, Encyclopedia of Spices)

As if you need another reason to make this dessert...these Brown Sugar Ginger Crisp Cookie's soft and chewy, gingery middle and crisp, brown sugar, buttery edges... make them an indisputable, homemade cookie favorite!

Usually reserved for the holiday season...when I caught my toddler vigorously shaking an unopened bag of crystallized ginger (ransacked from the bottom of the pantry)...I considered it a sign to get baking! (What does a kid have to do around here to get a homemade cookie in May?!)

For a seasonal twist - stuff two cookies with homemade, vanilla frozen yogurt mixed with a pinch of fresh orange zest. The end elegant, refined, light and easy dessert ~ perfect for kids and adults!

Brown Sugar Ginger Crisps
Gourmet Magazine 2001

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger (3 oz)
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Beat together butter and brown sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at moderate speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in yolk, vanilla, and gingers. Add flour mixture and mix at low speed until just combined.

Drop heaping teaspoons of dough about 3 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheets and bake in batches in middle of oven until golden, 13 to 15 minutes (our convection oven, they took 8 minutes.) Cool cookies on sheets on racks 5 minutes, then transfer with a metal spatula to racks to cool completely.

Frozen Vanilla Yogurt with Orange Zest
1 cup Low Fat Vanilla Yogurt
1 tablespoon sugar (more or less to taste, depends on level of sweetness you desire)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
scant 1/2 teaspoon orange zest

Mix the above ingredients together and freeze. I froze mine in muffin tins (1/4 full) and it took approximately 2 hours to set. When you're ready to assemble the sandwiches, remove frozen yogurt from the freezer, let sit a minute or two at room temperature and then loosen the yogurt from the tins by taking a knife along the sides - yogurt should pop out. (You can also simply freeze in a freezer safe container and scoop out when ready.) Place in-between two cookies, press lightly, taking care not to press too hard. Serve immediately or wrap in saran wrap and freeze for when ready to eat. (If very frozen, let frozen sandwiches sit at room temp. for 10+ minutes before serving.)

Monday, May 17, 2010

Farm Raised vs. Sustainably Raised Seafood: How Do Consumers Know What They're Getting?

Farm raised vs. sustainably raised seafood - when did we start hearing these terms and what on earth do they mean? For the savviest consumer, it's possible the two phrases have always been important guide in determining the fish they ultimately bring to table. For me, it dates back about six years, when I began noticing the two terms popping up across seafood counters with increasing regularity. At the risk of sounding environmentally ignorant, I went about my seafood buying, never fully understanding the seemingly ubiquitous terms.

Until one day came the big, burly, man standing behind the counter. Bearing witness to my 'lack of understanding' he jumped at the chance to provide a reasonable explanation..."farm raised seafood was the smart consumer choice as the process allowed the fish to replenish within the farm's parameters - thus not interrupting the ocean's wild stock." He further explained how, "color added, was merely a term used to explain the fish feeding on organic carrots, to help enhance their natural orange hue." According to him..."farmed raised" and "sustainably raised" were interchangeable terms - simply translated, "quality control."

An uncanny resemblance to the trusted Gordon's fisherman...I believed him... and held onto his notion for sometime: farm raised = sustainably raised seafood. Generally more affordable, it was a simple concept that meant saving money, while saving the world! I was an informed consumer and life was good! It wasn't until recently I began second guessing the man's words and researching for myself how fish is brought to market - an eye opening, worth while exercise shedding light on a multi-faceted (and sometimes disturbing) intricate, global industry.

If you're interested in learning more, I recommend reading* The Sustainable Ocean Project's Three Part Article: Is Farm-Raised Seafood Sustainable or Not - discussing the pros and cons of farm raised fish, those species that are most sustainable and highlighting the fish that benefit (and those that clearly do not) from one method of farming to another. Not a huge commitment, the three tiered article is clear and concise, without diminishing the complexity of the issue. It left me wondering, like the USDA grading scale used to rate the "quality" of beef (though no doubt in need of major revisions)... why not a universal guide to differentiate our marvelously, mysterious creatures of the sea?

We keep hearing as consumers, it's our responsibility to educate ourselves. To be "socially responsible," means asking questions at the seafood counter and insisting waitstaff is knowledgeable as to the origins of the fish appearing on their menus. I say it's not that easy. In an industry where the term, "shelf-life" truly doesn't exist, the supplier's goal is to move their fish and while we can continue to ask questions, I tend to believe in most cases, we're placated with well rehearsed responses...grossly ill-informed.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Some Thoughts on The Food Network's Future New Channel & Food Blogging Today

The Food Network's, Cooking Channel will be debuting later this month and while we'll be seeing some very familiar faces (Bobby, Rachael, etc.) they're banking on the notion that we, (the viewing public) want more emphasis on ethnic food and drink, cultural cuisine and lifestyle, and are indeed craving a dose of advanced cooking skills and techniques (something often shied away from on their 24/7 sister station, The Food Network.) My first thought was Fine Living meets History Channel meets Bravo ~ a sort of prestigious graduate school for foodies!

The author of an extremely young food blog, there's no doubt the foodie market is ginormous! I often spend countless hours behind this screen perusing through other food blogs - some good, some not so good, and many that are spectacular! I actually read somewhere, the demise of Gourmet Magazine can be directly linked back to the food blogging community - it's gotten that popular. I often wonder why I blog about food? There's always another blog out there 100x better than mine and just when you think you have a novel idea, you're simply two clicks away from discovering, "Joe Shmoe The Cooking Guru" at, thought of that years ago! (And bourgeois?!) But something keeps me coming back. Something continues to wake me up in the middle of the night leaving me yearning for my computer...and it's that same something, that day after day has me standing in front of my stove, donning apron wondering how I'll describe to the reader "the meal" and what it ultimately meant to us while eating and preparing. (As if anyone really cares?!)

In a world today where cooking has taken on an almost religious connotation, I do think there's room for yet another channel devoted to food. And while some think the food blogger will eventually (decades from now) dwindle down to the survival of the fittest, I'm not holding my breath. So to "Joe Shmoe the Cooking Guru" - I'm reading you, learning from you and working each and every day to be better than you. And to the Scripps Network and their new Cooking Channel, I say bring it on! We're foodies in numbers too large to count and you can rest assure...on May 31st...we'll be kneeling at your alter (dressed in caps and gowns)...ready and eager to watch!

What do you think????

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

POM Wonderful Pomegranate Juice

You'll feel healthier, simply being in its presence! POM Wonderful 100% Natural Pomegranate Juice, is what we reach for when in need of that morning, afternoon and evening pick-me up!

Increasingly hearing of the pomegranate's innate health benefits, we decided to experiment with some less expensive brands. Claiming to be "all natural" not only did the "no name" brands disappoint in taste...most of the labels sent us straight to the web... looking up words ending in, -ous, - ide and -ate, and took us on a virtual trip clear across the globe to regions of the world...I'm not sure the term "quality control" exists!

Chock-full of antioxidant potency, POM Wonderful's pomegranates are exclusively grown in orchards throughout California's, San Joaquin Valley. The juice's smooth, easy drinking, healthy, delicious attributes, are causing it to steadily replace cranberry and grape juice in refrigerators across the country...not to mention its taking a 'leading role' in a multitude of recipes and fun, refreshing drinks!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Skirt Steak Sandwich with Sofrito, Tomato, Avocado and Onion

I want to say this sandwich is ALL about the sauce, and while it is an integral component, (lending the sandwich its distinctive Latin American flavor) the other ingredients are crucial to its success!

Our version of a sandwich we saw featured on Guy's Big Bite -we marinaded a pound and a half of Skirt Steak in kosher salt, fresh cracked pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, scant 1/2 cup white distilled vinegar and 2 tablespoons olive oil, for approximately 2 hours. In the meantime, while my husband was busy constructing his sauce, I set out on a mad search for bolillo, a soft and savory Mexican bread, Guy's lovely guest featured on his show. Defeated, I returned home with a bag of fresh club rolls, whose super soft, 'melt in our mouth' quality - more than delivered!

Piled ever so precisely within the center of the roll: sofrito, sliced avocado, grilled skirt steak, thinly sliced tomato & onion, shredded iceberg lettuce then topped with more sauce - one bite and you're transported from the everyday steak sandwich (albeit delicious) to one packed with zip, zing and layered with an array of textures and flavors - certainly God intended to be together!

Husband's "Sofrito Sauce"

1 tomato, chopped
1/2medium sized green pepper, chopped
1/2 small white onion, chopped
1large clove of garlic, minced
pinch of red pepper flakes
pinch of Spanish oregano
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro (optional)
1/4 - 1/2 cup white distilled vinegar
1/4 cup water
S&P to taste

Saute all ingredients in a pan over medium heat until vegetables become soft and liquid evaporates by 1/2. Remove from heat and carefully pour into blender - blend until smooth.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

"A Mother's Day Story" Grilled Chilean Sea Bass with Lemon Risotto and Wilted Kale with Garlic, Shallot and Bacon

Since the children... I can not recall the last time I woke up north of 9am, so for Mother's Day, the only thing I wanted was the gift of sleeping in!

The ability first peep of the baby in his crib...pull the sheets up over my head and sink deeper into the pillows without any sort of guilt.

The ability to...when our 3 year old hopped out of her bed...listen to the pitter pat of little feet, run past my room and straight down the steps to assist daddy (already hard at work) in the kitchen.

The ability I dreamt about the marvelous aromas wafting from the floor below... roll over, glance at the clock and not stress over time, but delight in its wasting!

I just wanted to sleep and my husband (with Father's day a mere month and a half away) was willing to oblige.

The baby awoke ultra fussy, and while 'the dad' promptly plucked our darling monster from his bed...his 'carrying on' made it difficult to sleep (not to mention for any mother) impossible to ignore! Our little girl (neglecting to bypass my room) grabbed her glitziest, plastic, pink and silver necklace, jumped into the bed, threw it around my neck and bestowed upon me the honor, "Queen for the day!" Amongst a sea of stuffed onlookers (precisely lined upon the foot of my bed) I laughed at the irony of the moment. Made in China 'bling' jabbing at my throat and an inconsolable baby waiting down below - this was my third mothers day as "Mom" (Mommy to most) and despite what I thought was the perfect plan...emerged from the bed exhausted... the luckiest woman in the whole entire world!

Breakfast: ending up being a Starbucks Egg and Cheese Sandwich w/triple shot vanilla-almond latte and icy sparkling juice...fresh tulips by our side - just right for the circumstances

Lunch: nothing - too excited for dinner

Dinner: Grilled Chilean Sea Bass with Lemon Risotto and Wilted Kale with Garlic, Shallot and Bacon (Like I said...the luckiest woman in the whole entire world!)

Bon Appétit, May 2002

(We halved the following recipe - DELICIOUS!)

6 cups canned low-salt chicken broth
3 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large shallots, chopped
2 cups arborio rice or medium-grain white rice
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (about 3 ounces)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
4 teaspoons grated lemon peel

Bring broth to simmer in large saucepan over medium heat. Reduce heat to low; cover to keep warm. Melt 1 1/2 tablespoons butter with oil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots and sauté until tender, about 6 minutes. Add rice; stir 1 minute. Add wine and stir until evaporated, about 30 seconds. Add 1 1/2 cups hot broth; simmer until absorbed, stirring frequently. Add remaining broth 1/2 cup at a time, allowing broth to be absorbed before adding more and stirring frequently until rice is creamy and tender, about 35 minutes. Stir in cheese and remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Stir in parsley, lemon juice, and lemon peel. Season risotto with salt and pepper. Transfer to bowl and serve.

Kale with Garlic and Bacon
Gourmet, November 2005

(we 1/4'd this recipe and added 1 small chopped shallot in with the garlic, consider substituting the water with chicken or vegetable stock)

2 1/2 pounds kale (about 4 bunches), tough stems and center ribs cut off and discarded
10 bacon slices (1/2 pounds), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 cups water

Stack a few kale leaves and roll lengthwise into a cigar shape. Cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-wide strips with a sharp knife. Repeat with remaining leaves.

Cook bacon in a wide 6- to 8-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, then transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain. Pour off and discard all but 3 tablespoons fat from pot, then cook garlic in remaining fat over moderately low heat, stirring, until pale golden, about 30 seconds. Add kale (pot will be full) and cook, turning with tongs, until wilted and bright green, about 1 minute. Add water and simmer, partially covered, until just tender, 6 to 10 minutes. Toss with bacon and salt and pepper to taste.

Chilean Sea Bass
1 lb - lightly salted and white peppered - cooked on grill for approx 3-4 minutes each side. Squeeze with fresh lemon and add fresh cracked pepper to taste. (Super rich fish, flaky, mild and delicious!)

Friday, May 7, 2010

Shrimp wrapped in Bacon with Spicy Mango Chutney

I consider this Shrimp wrapped in Bacon with Spicy Mango Chutney hors d'oeuvre- an analogy to that of a good party.

You're welcomed by the familiarness of the rich and smokey bacon. You're attracted to the chutney's sweet and spicy nature - and so not to linger too long in any one place - you find yourself savoring the sophisticated company of the classic, tender prawn!

The perfect combination of flavors and textures...the host will appreciate the hors d'oeuvre's low maintenance character, while the guest will adore their easy going, one bite delivery! The only'll never make enough and once your guests are introduced to the little crowd pleasers - you'll see them popping up at your friends parties again and again...soon blurring the line as to who made them first!

Preheat oven to 400. Peel and devain medium sized shrimp. Wrap the raw shrimp in *bacon (I used 1/2 piece bacon per shrimp) dab the top with a spicy, mango chutney (or any spicy jelly you have on hand). Secure the hors d'oeuvres with a toothpick. Cook in the oven for approx 5 minutes. Turn on broil and continue cooking 2-3 minutes until bacon crisps a bit. (Great warm or room temp!)

*NOTE: One thing I will consider doing next time, is par cooking the bacon, letting it cool to room temp and THEN wrapping the shrimp, as I think this will allow the bacon to crisp up better when in the oven! Either way...ENJOY!!!!!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Crepes - Creamy Chicken & Mushroom and Smoked Salmon Mousse with Asparagus

Last night's dinner was one I had been visualizing for weeks...not so much its execution...but the actual eating of the meal and all its possibilities! Once again inspired by chefs on TV (in particular Ming Tsai and Eric Ripert preparing then sampling two distinct crepes, each representative of their respective culture) ...the sweet and savory crepe combinations have seemed endless! The analysis, paralysis got so bad, I found myself dreaming of ice cream crepes with crispy bacon, swimming in pools of decadent, dark chocolate, amongst shaved vanilla beans and hints of cayenne pepper (bad...or genius?)! The need to focus resulted in the following two savory classics - a Smoked Salmon Mousse with Roasted Thin Asparagus and a Creamy Chicken, Mushroom with subtle hints of Rosemary, Sherry and Thyme.

While my husband savored every bite of the rich and creamy, dueling delicacies...for the dinners sake...I wished I had focused on one. Equally pleasing in presentation and flavor, interchanging bites proved too rich for me. On this particular evening, I found myself drawn to the creamy chicken and mushroom, (for a salmon aficionado) something I never would have guessed!

With Mother's Day fast approaching, I remain in awe at the versatility of the crepe! I'll be requesting one delicately filled with crab meat and brie, a crisp, green salad and fresh fruit by its side...or perhaps one filled with chocolate and bananas, toasted pistachios and drizzled with honey??? Truth is...I'll be thrilled with whatever combination my husband and children dream up -that's the beauty of the crepe - fill them with any combination of ingredients you love... and I'm not sure it's possible to ever get it wrong!

AllRecipes.Com By: JENNYC819

1 cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter, melted

1.In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour and the eggs. Gradually add in the milk and water, stirring to combine. Add the salt and butter; beat until smooth.

2.Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each crepe. Tilt the pan with a circular motion so that the batter coats the surface evenly.

3.Cook the crepe for about 2 minutes, until the bottom is light brown. Loosen with a spatula, turn and cook the other side. Serve hot.
(Yielded 6 larger crepes)

Monday, May 3, 2010

Frank's Red Hot Buffalo Wing Sauce

There was a favorite neighborhood bar we used to frequent on the Lower East Side, whenever we had a hankering for wings. Saw dust upon the floor and the latest version of Golden Tee...when my husband and his friend stumbled upon the venue, late one snowy, Saturday afternoon...I was certain I'd lost him forever!

Self-proclaimed, wing connoisseurs, we've spent our last few suburbia years on a quest for the 'perfect buffalo sauce', only to find most lacking in flavor. Then one day came "Frank"...and his Red Hot Buffalo Wing Sauce... tossed amongst our freshly grilled, hot and crispy wings... it was like being right there back in NYC..."where everybody knew our name and they were always glad we came!" (<--wait, that was Boston! Oh well!) We've tried the you try the best!

(Fast forward 10 years and... it's baby wipes to cleanse our hands and Cheerios (not saw dust) inside our shoes...)

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Poblano Pepper Cream Sauce, Marinated Grilled Chicken, Black Bean Salad & Warm Tortillas

Fresh flavors, vibrant colors, intoxicating aromas...Saturday night's dinner began like so many before...with my husband lighting his Weber charcoal grill...a male, meditative ritual acted out in backyards and balconies clear across the globe! First up was a Poblano Pepper Cream Sauce, something I've been dying to make ever since watching Rick Bayless lovingly ladle some atop a perfectly grilled salmon fillet. (I wanted to dive into the television and profess my love for the man... until he was joined table side by his college aged daughter and wife Deann - then it just seemed wrong.) If I couldn't have Rick...I'd surely have that sauce!

This particular evening, however, the salmon was replaced with 1lb. Chicken Breast...salt and peppered and marinated in garlic, onion & chili powder, paprika, pinch of cumin, 2 tablespoon chipotle in adobo, cilantro and just enough olive oil to coat - a combination of flavors we're been using on poultry for some time. While I can't remember exact measurements, bathe your chicken in any form of this marinade for a few hours, and your guests will assume you spent a brief stint as an apprentice in the finest establishment in Mexico City!

We roasted the poblanos on top of the grill, then placed the charred peppers in a brown bag to steam. A few minutes later...their blackened skin was simple to peel! Removing the stems and seeds, we gave the peppers a rough chop, then added them to sauteed garlic and onion, 1/2 cup of heavy cream, pinch of salt and pepper and pulsed in the blender until silky and smooth. One spoonful was all it took, to put me right there back with Rick. (We were sipping wine, reminiscing over our respective travels and sharing our dismay towards the dwindling intensity of jalapeno peppers.) husband was inside putting the final touches on a Black Bean Salad - cilantro, red onion, tomato, pepper and ripe avocado... all folded together harmoniously in a fresh, homemade lime vinaigrette. (Rick ...who?!)

Lightly grilled flour tortillas warmed atop the smoldering coals...we found ourselves eating alfresco, drinking muddled mojitos with mint from the garden. We were enjoying a Southwestern spread you'd expect to see displayed in a sunset desert setting...deep within the pages of Bon Appetit!

Poblano Pepper Cream Sauce (this is the recipe that came together after messing around with the amounts - delicious and can certainly be adjusted to your desired taste and consistency)
4 smaller sized poblano peppers, rinsed and dried (or two larger ones)
2 T olive oil
1 small onion chopped
2 large cloves garlic chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 T butter (optional) just felt it rounded the sauce out nicely
S&P to taste

Roast peppers over grill, open flame on stove or broiled in the oven until black. Carefully place in brown paper bag and close up the bag to allow the peppers to steam within. (We place a damp paper towel in w/the peppers - just to encourage a steamy environment and make the skin easier to peel.) After about 5 minutes, remove the blackened, charred skin, remove tops, stems and seeds, coarsely chop and set aside. Saute onion a garlic in olive oil until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the chopped pepper, cream, butter, dash of salt and fresh cracked pepper. Pulse in blender until smooth and almost foamy. S&P again to taste - only if needed.