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Category: Food (Page 1 of 6)

Dark Chocolate Dipped Figs with Sea Salt

Dark Chocolate Dipped Figs with Sea Salt

I wouldn’t call this a recipe. An assembly job is a more accurate description. And let’s face it, in the summer time, who can be bothered with cooking and recipes and such? I know that many nights I cannot be bothered to heat up the kitchen by turning on a burner or the oven.
Plus, summer means fig season. For those of you who live in a climate where fig trees grow outside, I envy you. For the rest of us, we carefully scour farmers markets, specialty markets, or Trader Joe’s for the first sign of fresh figs.

Fresh figs bear little resemblance to the filling of a Fig Newton cookie. Fresh figs are a succulent and delicately sweet.

If you are a child of the 80s, you may recall an INXS video for the song ‘The One Thing’ which features an opulent dinner party and big haired models seductively eating fresh figs. I can’t lie, every time I eat a fig that song and video play in my mind. Fortunately for everyone, I eat most meals on my own, so they are spared my interpretation of that video. Ha!

If you haven’t ever tried fresh figs, I encourage you to track them down. They are in season during summer and I have recently seen them at both Trader Joe’s and Costco. I usually eat figs just like an apple or pear. They are also delicious sliced and on top of yogurt or oatmeal. But, sometimes I will want something a little sweet and decadent in the evening.

Dark Chocolate Dipped Figs with Sea Salt 6 fresh figs 8 ounces dark chocolate, melted Sea salt Place parchment paper on a plate or small baking sheet. Chop or break up chocolate and place in small glass bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds. Stir and repeat until the chocolate is melted. Dip the bottom third of each fig into the melted chocolate. Place on parchment paper and sprinkle chocolate with sea salt.

Dipping fresh figs in dark chocolate and sprinkling them with sea salt is the perfect way to end a meal. If dark chocolate isn’t your jam, you can substitute milk chocolate. But, I really enjoy the slight bitterness of dark chocolate with the sweetness of the figs.

To start, I break up the chocolate and microwave it in a glass bowl for 30 second increments. Stir the chocolate after each 30 second interval until melted. Meanwhile, line a plate or small baking sheet with parchment paper. Dip the bottom third of the fig into the melted chocolate and place on parchment. Sprinkle sea salt on warm chocolate. Chill in refrigerator for 20 minutes to set up.

Dark Chocolate Dipped Figs with Sea Salt

Somen Noodle Salad

Somen Salad

I cannot stop making Somen salad this summer.  I think I have made it three weeks in a row. My friend Liz gave me the recipe years ago. Over the years, I made it from time to time when I needed an easy but tasty salad. But, then the recipe sort of dropped out of my brain and rotation. I hadn’t even thought about making it in forever.

Then, Liz recently mentioned that she was making Somen salad for dinner. And, just like that I had Somen salad on the brain again. Somen noodles are thin, white Japanese noodles made from wheat flour. They can be found with the Asian foods in most grocery stores. They cook very quickly and are typically served cold.

Somen salad combines somen noodles, lettuce, green onions, and scrambled eggs with a sesame seed dressing. The original recipe called for iceberg lettuce but I often will substitute Romaine since I typically have it in the fridge. Vegetarians will find this to be a satisfying meal but you could also serve it as a side dish alongside grilled flank steak or with pork tenderloin.

Somen Salad

Somen salad makes a terrific weeknight dinner as it takes very little time to prepare. Pluls, if you only dress the salad that you are eating, somen salad leftovers make a great brown bag lunch the next day.

Asian Noodles

Asian Noodle Guide

photograph: Vicky Wasik

The Serious Eats website has a great guide on shopping for Asian noodles which you can find here. Somen noodles are listed in the article if you want a visual of the type of noodle you will need for this recipe. The article includes descriptions and photographs of the most popular noodles. The article also features link to recipes using the various types of noodles. I encourage you to read up and then visit an Asian market and pick up a few new types of noodles to try.

Somen Salad pin

If Asian food is your jam, you may want to check out these recipes too:

Grilled Mexican Corn with Spicy Mayo

Grilled Mexican Street Corn with Spicy Mayo

Fresh corn on the cob, it’s like baseball, apple pie, and the Fourth of July! Stopping by a farm stand and picking up fresh corn is one of life’s simple pleasures. Sweetie and I recently stopped by a new-ish restaurant in the Heber Valley called Main Street Social.  We enjoyed a delicious Mexican-inspired street corn dish. Obviously, I had to try to recreate this tasty meal at home. Grilled Mexican Corn with Spicy Mayo is the result.

Summertime corn has a sweetness and crunch that cannot be found any other time of the year. So, for the weeks in the summer that is it on, I try to utilize it in every way that I can imagine. I would love to hear about your favorite ways to eat corn in the comments below.

Three Ways to Grill Corn

While testing the recipe for Grilled Mexican Corn with Spicy Mayo, we wanted to try a few different ways of cooking the corn on the grill.  So, we bought a dozen ears, fired up the grill, and tried three different ways:

  1. Silks and husks intact
  2. Silks removed and husks pulled back over cob
  3. Silks removed and husks pulled back (or away) from the cob (see photos below)

Grilled Mexican Street Corn with Spicy MayoSweetie and I both decided that we didn’t care for the second option. But, from here we disagreed. I preferred the corn that had the silks removed and then the husks pulled back like a handle. This method gives the corn that beautiful char from direct contact with the grill. Sweetie preferred the first method which results in a moist, steamed cob of corn. The choice is yours.

Once the corn is grilled you can decide if you want to serve the cob whole or cut into smaller pieces. If you prefer the corn cob whole, then I would drizzle the spicy mayo over the whole cob and top with onions, cheese, and chives. If you want to serve the corn in bite-sized pieces, I like to pour the spicy mayo in the bottom of a serving dish and arrange the pieces of corn on the sauce. Then, top the corn with the onions, cheese, and chives.

Corn-lovers may want to check out these recipes for Shrimp and Corn Ceviche and Fiesta Buddha Bowls.

Grilled Mexican Corn with Spicy Mayo

Feta and Roasted Red Pepper Dip (Htipiti)

Feta and Roasted Red Pepper Dip

You want easy and healthy recipes, right? Well, I am happy to tell you that you will love this recipe. This feta and roasted red pepper dip comes together very quickly. You only need to give a quick chop to the roasted red peppers, shallot, garlic, and feta then combine the rest of the ingredients in a bowl. You will be sitting outside on your patio with a delicious snack and glass of wine in no time at all!

If you travel to Washington DC, you may have heard of or eaten at Zaytinya, one of chef Jose Andres’s many fine restaurants. Zaytinya serves Mediterranean small plates and if you have the chance to go, do it! The food is delicious. But, if your travel plans do not include a trip to DC in the near future, you can still experience a taste of Zaytinya in your own kitchen.

Feta and Roasted Red Pepper Dip

This dip would be perfect on a mezze platter. Mezze refers to a collection of small plates that are served with drinks. All you need is a large platter or cutting board that you will add fresh pita or pita chips, cucumber slices, hummus, olives, and the feta and roasted red pepper dip. If you feel like preparing a second small dish, I would recommend these za’atar roasted tomatoes and perhaps some tzatziki, a yogurt cucumber sauce.

How to Assemble a Mezze Platter

Check out this video if you need a little inspiration on putting together a mezze platter. When I need inspiration, I love looking at posts from Tieghan of Half-baked Harvest. She is masterful at creating boards like this Mediterranean Platter. I also think Gaby’s Mezze Platter from What’s Gaby Cooking is lovely.

Furthermore, serving a mezze platter is a wonderful way to entertain.  You can think of a assembling a mezze platter much like putting together a cheese board (albeit much less expensive to assemble). Chill a bottle of white wine, open a bottle of red to breathe, and have a few beers in the fridge. All that is left to do is to invite a few friends over.

Feta & Roasted Red Pepper Dip

Ricotta Toast with Morel Mushrooms and Asparagus

Ricotta Toast with Asparagus and Morels-4

If you have become a bit tired of avocado toast, you may want to consider swapping out the avocados for ricotta. Don’t get me wrong, no disrespect to avocado toast. I love it, I eat it often, but sometimes I want something a little different. Ricotta is light and airy and perfect with so many different topping.

Ricotta toast is something that I have eaten since I was a kid. Every Italian family keeps ricotta in the fridge. You still get the rich, creamy spread you are used to from avocado toast but a whole new universe of flavors opens up for you. Ricotta can easily be used either in sweet or savory dishes, think lasagna versus cannoli.

In New York, you can find fresh ricotta at many Italian markets. Have you had fresh ricotta? It is so creamy and delicious. I die. Literally. Well, I guess figuratively but still you cannot even at how good it is. I haven’t tried making it at home although I have been told (and this video confirms) that it is really easy to make.

How to Make Fresh Ricotta

I like to use a hearty, rustic bread for the toast. For the toppings on this ricotta toast, I used morel mushrooms which were foraged from the woods near my friend Rachael’s home in Missoula, Montana. I was so excited to get a package from her with bunches of morel mushrooms. What a treat! I made this Pizza with Morel Mushrooms and Green Onions using some of the mushrooms from that same haul.

If Rachael didn’t send you any morels and you couldn’t find them locally, I would swap them out for cremini or button mushrooms. Not quite the panache of morels but still a nice meaty texture to complement the ricotta. I also used some beautiful, medium-sized asparagus chopped into bite-sized pieces to top the Ricotta toast.

Ricotta Toast with Asparagus and Morels-1

Ricotta toast with morel mushrooms and asparagus can really be eaten for any meal. I prefer savory foods in the morning and devoured the toasts on Sunday morning for brunch with coffee. But, served with a green salad or soup, the ricotta toast would also make a perfect light lunch or dinner. Plus, it is so quick and easy to make. Basically, you a few minutes to chop the mushrooms and asparagus, a few minutes to sauté them, and the time it takes to toast the bread. Brilliant when you don’t want to fuss in the kitchen on a weeknight.

Ricotta Toast with Morels and Asparagus

 

 

Pizza with Morel Mushrooms and Green Onions

Morel Mushroom and Green Onion Pizza-1

A few of my favorite signs of spring are the incredible vegetables that pop up early to remind us of the rich bounty of produce that is heading our way. This list includes asparagus (yes!), peas (nothing like ‘em), greens of all varieties, and for those fortunate to live near cool, damp forests, morel mushrooms.

For those of us who live in the high desert, the morel mushroom is a bit of unicorn, amazing to behold but rarely seen in person. But, this year, through a unicorn trick of her own, my friend Rachael, who lives in Missoula, Montana had a banner year foraging the forests and brought home sixteen pounds (!) of these woodsy gems.

That alone is amazing but she generously shared her haul with me. Isn’t that incredible? I was beside myself when she sent them to me. I have eaten morel mushrooms in restaurants before but I’d never worked with them before.  So, once I opened up the package, I rolled up my sleeves and got to work researching how to store and looking for inspiration on how to prepare them.

How Morel Mushrooms Grow

<In your best Elmer Fudd voice> ‘Be very, very quiet, I am hunting morel mushrooms…’

Typically, Friday nights are not the most productive nights in my kitchen. I am usually tired and likely to be in the mood to put my feet up and enjoy a glass of wine. But, the allure of these mushrooms was just too great. I decided that pizza would be the perfect vehicle for these meaty mushrooms. If you can’t find morels you can substitute any other mushrooms in their place.

Turns out that they are easy to work with so if you happen to spot some at your local farmers’ market, grab them. I cut the stem ends off, split them down the middle vertically and gave them a good rinse. They are pretty dirty because they were plucked from the dirt in the forest. Hey-o! Keep in mind, you don’t want to rinse or wash them until you are ready to use them.

Morel mushrooms-7

How to Make Morel Mushroom and Green Onion Pizza

I sautéed the mushrooms for a few minutes in a little butter and olive oil with pieces of green onions (red or yellow onions would work too). Then, I removed the veggies from heat and rolled out the pizza dough. Note: you can make your own dough from scratch if you are feeling inspired but I like to keep a few packages of Trader Joe’s pizza dough in the freezer at all times.

Roll out the dough into a thin circle and drizzle a little olive oil over the top. Spread the oil around the dough evenly. I also like to sprinkle some salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes over the dough. Then, top with shredded mozzarella, the sautéed morel mushrooms and green onions.

Morel Mushroom and Green Onion Pizza-9

Pop the pizza in the oven for 15 minutes. Take the pizza out of the oven and carefully crack a raw egg into the center of the pizza. I cracked the egg into a small ramekin first to make the process easier (and in case I needed to pick out any egg shell fragments). Cook five more minutes. Take pizza out of the oven and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and chopped basil. When you cut into the pizza, the egg yolk breaks and becomes a rich, creamy sauce for the pizza.

The pizza was delicious and special thanks to Rachael for her generosity. I had a ball playing with the mushrooms.

Morel Mushroom and Green Onion Pizza

Grilled Veggies and Halloumi Cheese

Grilled Veggies and Halloumi

Can we agree that cooking outdoors is approximately 110% better than cooking indoors? The food always tastes better, outdoors > indoors, and your kitchen stays cool. Grilled vegetables are a summer staple at my house. Whatever ripe vegetables I can find in my garden or the farmers market typically makes onto my grill.  The addition of Halloumi takes this grilled veggie dish up a few notches.

Are you familiar with Halloumi? From Cyprus, halloumi cheese is an unripened goat and sheep’s milk cheese. Eaten before grilling, halloumi is a bit bland but once your grill it or cook it in a skillet, a golden crust forms with soft delicious interior. Halloumi can be found in many grocery stores with the fancy cheeses, Mediterranean markets, and at Trader Joe’s.

For this recipe, I made a simple, Mediterranean-inspired dressing to marinate the Halloumi and veggies prior to cooking. Both the vegetables and the cheese will soak up the flavors of the dressing so be sure to allow enough time for the marinade to do its work before you are ready to cook.

How to Grill Halloumi on the BBQ

If you can’t quite wrap your head around grilling cheese on the BBQ this video by Curtis Stone will show you how it is done and what the Halloumi should like when it is done.

If you plan to cook outside on the grill, you can either thread the cheese and veggies onto skewers or use a grill basket (I like this one). If you use a grill basket, be sure to not overfill the basket with vegetables and cheese. You are looking to get a char on the veggies and cheese. If you overcrowd the grill basket you will find that some of the veggies will steam. I would cook half the veggies and cheese first and then the other half if space is an issue.

I like to serve the grilled veggies and Halloumi cheese with warmed pita bread and Greek Tzatziki sauce. You could also add a bowl olives or perhaps some hummus and cut cucumbers to round out the meal.  My favorite way to entertain is to place all the components of this recipe on a large platter or board. Then, your dinner guests can help themselves and take exactly what they want.

Grilled Veggies and Halloumi

Like Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food? Check out these other recipes:

 

Dutch Baby Pancake

Dutch Baby Pancake

Who likes recipes that involve less than five ingredients, can be blitzed up in a blender, and takes under thirty minutes to bake? *raises hand*

The Dutch baby pancake meets these criteria. You simply put eggs, flour, milk, and seasonings into a blender and pour the batter into a hot skillet which contains melted butter. Let’s talk about Dutch baby pancakes. Have you ever had one?

For the uninitiated, Dutch baby pancakes come out of the oven as light, puffy, golden brown, eggy pancake. Have your cameras ready if you want to Instagram this dish because the puff of the pancake is short-lived. Within minutes, the air comes out of the Dutch baby and it flattens out to a slightly less photogenic but still absolutely delicious dish. The video uses a slightly different recipe but will show  you the process of making a Dutch baby pancake.

How-to Make Dutch Baby Pancakes

Dutch baby pancakes are typically served for breakfast or brunch. I love to eat a Dutch Baby pancake with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a sprinkle of powdered sugar. But, served with mixed berries and maple syrup is also delicious. How does lemon curd and strawberries sound to you? Or, wouldn’t sauteed apples and sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar be scrumptious? Let’s face it, any fruit that is in season is a perfect accompaniment to a Dutch baby pancake.

Once you make a Dutch baby pancake, you may find that your imagination runs wild thinking about the possibilities.  Please tell me that your imagination runs wild when you make a delicious recipe. I find myself thinking about what else would taste great on this light and fluffy pancake. What savory toppings can I pair with it to turn this into a savory dinner?

Dutch Baby Pancake

This recipe for a savory Dutch baby pancake from the NY Time includes fresh herbs in the batter and is sprinkled with salty, nutty Parmesan cheese while it bakes. OMG. Yum! I must try that recipe soon. I imagine pairing it with a salad and glass of crisp, white wine.

Enough daydreaming, let me encourage you to try making a Dutch baby pancake this week. You will impress yourself and your people as you take it from the oven in all its glory. I use my 10-inch cast iron skillet to bake the Dutch baby. If you don’t have a cast iron skillet then a similarly sized baking dish will do in a pinch.

Other recipes full of eggy goodness that you might be interested in:

Dutch Baby Pancake

Smoked Mozzarella Lemon Pizza

Smoked Mozzarella Lemon Pizza

Smoked Mozzarella Lemon Pizza

If you keep pizza dough in your freezer (you do keep pizza dough in your freezer, right?), then weeknight dinners are a breeze. All you need is sauce, a few vegetables, and cheese and you are good to go.

A few years back I found a recipe on a blog for smoked mozzarella pizza with lemon.  The recipe and picture caught my eye because the lemon was sliced into paper thin rounds and used as a topping. Lemon rinds? Can you eat them? Would you want to?

Since I am always game to try new things, I made the recipe and fell in love with it! Since then I have realized that thinly sliced lemon on a salmon sushi roll is also delicious. But, this post is about pizza and over the years I have riffed variations of the original pizza based on whatever is in season or in my refrigerator.

This time around I had spinach that I needed to use and the end of a bag of pistachios. I find smoked mozzarella at Trader Joe’s. If you don’t have a Trader Joe’s near you, ask at your local grocery store. Smoked mozzarella can sometimes be challenging to find. You can use fresh mozzarella in a pinch if you can’t get your hands on the smoked variety.

Smoked Mozzarella Lemon Pizza

Pizza Dough

I take the pizza dough out of the freezer the morning I plan to make pizza. The dough will be thawed by dinner time. A few tips on pizza dough. Many grocery stores stock fresh pizza dough in their refrigerated aisles. I particularly like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. You can also hit the freezer section and get bread dough (like Rhodes) and keep that on hand. If you have some time on the weekend, you can make a delicious no-knead pizza dough and use it for this recipe or place it in the freezer for future use.

I also love making pizza on a pizza stone. You put the pizza stone in the oven as you start to preheat the oven. Once the oven comes to temperature, then set a timer for at least fifteen minutes and let the stone get nice and hot.

I roll the dough out on a parchment paper-lined pizza peel. Roll the dough out thin if you want to achieve a crispy crust. Then, drizzle the crust with olive oil and spread it around with your fingertips until there is even layer over the surface of the dough. Sprinkle salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes over the top of the dough.

Next, place slices of smoked mozzarella on top of the dough, followed by lemon slices (rind and all). My sweetie doesn’t love the lemon rind so I do cut the rind off half the lemon slices and put those pieces of lemon on his side of the pizza.

Finally, place spinach leaves over the top and sprinkle with the pistachios. Slide the pizza and parchment onto the pizza stone and let the magic begin.

I usually check the pizza halfway through cooking time and rotate the pizza 180 degrees to ensure even baking.

Let me know if you try this unusual but delicious pizza!

This recipe is inspired Alexandra Cooks recipe for Pizza with Lemon Smoked Mozzarella and Basil  

Smoked Mozzarella Lemon Pizza

Margarita Shrimp Tacos

Margarita Shrimp Tacos

Summer is coming! Summer is coming! I cannot believe that we are less than two weeks out from Memorial Day weekend and the official start of summer. BBQs and margaritas are two summer staples that I look forward to during the cold, gray days of winter. These grilled margarita shrimp tacos hit the mark on both counts.

Firstly, the recipe was inspired by an almost full picture of margarita that was left over after a recent party. Who ends up with leftover margaritas? Usually not me. But this time, I had so much leftover and I couldn’t bear to throw it away. So, instead I improvised.

I had shrimp in the freezer that I thawed out and then marinated the shrimp in the leftover margarita making sure that all the shrimp were submerged in the liquid. I let them marinate for an hour or two in the fridge and started making the avocado and mango salsa, as well as, the spicy slaw.

The ingredient list may seem a bit daunting but I promise that this recipe comes together pretty quickly.

Pickled Red Onion

I had the pickled red onion in the fridge and recommend that you make up a batch to keep in your fridge too. I used this recipe. In addition to being delicious on tacos, the pickled red onions also tasted great on burgers (or veggie burgers as is the case in my house). Thinly sliced red onion will do in a pinch if you don’t want to make the pickled version.

Margarita Shrimp Tacos

I actually had the rest of the ingredients on hand and drew inspiration from what was already in the refrigerator. You can improvise with this recipe too. Don’t want to make the avocado and mango salsa? Then, consider using jarred salsa and avocado slices. Lettuce or cabbage shreds can replace the spicy slaw if you want, but it is really good.

I used flour tortillas but corn works too if that is your preference. If you feel like doing some prep work on the salsa and slaw ahead of time, these margarita grilled shrimp tacos are a great dish for entertaining. Make a big batch of margaritas, use some of it on the shrimp and serve the rest to your guests while you man the grill.

How to Make Margarita Shrimp Tacos

Margarita Shrimp Tacos

Margarita Shrimp Tacos

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