"Food is our common ground, a universal experience." - James Beard

Monday, May 31, 2010

Salmon with Lemon, Capers, and Rosemary

I'll go ahead and say it - I'm not normally a huge fan of fish. But, Kent and I have made this recipe several times, and I always really love it. With the lemon, capers, and rosemary it ends up tasting really light and not too fishy. It's also really easy and requires very little clean up!

Salmon with Lemon, Capers, and Rosemary
(From Giada de Laurentiis)
4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
8 lemon slices (about 2 lemons)
1/4 cup lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 teaspoons capers
4 pieces of aluminum foil

Brush top and bottom of salmon fillets with olive oil and season with salt, pepper, and rosemary. Place each piece of seasoned salmon on a piece of foil large enough to fold over and seal. Top the each piece of salmon with 2 lemon slices, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of wine, and 1 teaspoon of capers. Wrap up salmon tightly in the foil packets.

Place a grill pan over medium-high heat or preheat a gas or charcoal grill. Place the foil packets on the hot grill and cook for 10 minutes for a 1-inch thick piece of salmon. Serve in the foil packets.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Peach Crumble

This is one of my favorite summer recipes!! I went to the grocery store the other day and walked by the fruit - the peaches smelled so good! All I could do was think about this recipe. It comes from a cookbook by James Villas called, The Glory of Southern Cooking. I got this cookbook at a great independent bookstore in downtown Chattanooga when I was there for a friend's wedding a few years ago. One of my favorite things about this cookbook is that it gives the history behind a lot of famous southern recipes. I hope I have time to try more of these great recipes soon!

A peach crumble is a lot like a cobbler, but it is more crunchy than doughy. It is so great served warm over ice cream!
Peach Crumble
4 cups peeled, sliced fresh peaches (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup quick oats (not instant)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon whole milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 2 to 2 1/2 quart baking dish with butter and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the peaches and lemon juice, toss, spoon into the prepared baking dish and set aside.
In another large bowl, combine the brown sugar, flour, oats, cinnamon, and salt and stir till well blended. Add the shortening and butter and cut them in with a pastry cutter till the mixture is cumbly. In a small bowl, stir together the milk and vanilla and drizzle over the dry mixture, tossing with a fork.
Spread the mixture evenly over the peaches and bake till the crumbs are browned and the peaches bubbly. Transfer the dish to a rack and let the crumble cool slightly before serving.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Fancy Pigs in a Blanket - from Karlee

My friend, Karlee, made this wonderful recipe for breakfast last fall on a weekend getaway. It would also be great for any party! So I asked her to send over the recipe, and here it is...

Fancy Pigs in a Blanket
1 pkg of cream cheese - I usually use fat free cream cheese
1 8oz pkg of shredded cheddar cheese
1 roll of ground sausage - I like using Spicy/Hot
2 pkg of large crescent rolls - "Flaky" works best

Brown and season the ground sausage. Drain excess grease. While hot, mix in the pkg of cream cheese and shredded cheese. The warmer the mixture is when being combined, the more uniform your breakfast rolls will be. Scoop a large spoonful into the crescent rolls. Fold the short sides of the triangle on the spoonful and then roll until the last side has completely covered the cream cheese mixture.

Karlee says, "This is an excellent recipe for breakfast, parties, etc. I like to make my mixture the night before, and but it in the refrigerator over night. In the morning, or before the party, make meatball sized balls and place them into the center of the crescent roll instead of scooping the mixture straight from the pan. I have also used regular sized crescent rolls (4 pkg) or cut the large ones in half to make a more petite appetizer. HUGE HIT! New take on an old favorite..."

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Wine Wednesday - Penfold's Koonunga Hill Shiraz Cabernet

This Shiraz Cabernet is one of my favorite wines. Several of my friends have mentioned liking it as well. It can be found in most grocery stores for $10-12.

Penfolds produces numerous wines in Australia. Koonunga Hill (a line of wines produced by Penfolds) has been produced since 1976 and is said to be best if allowed to age for a few years. So, if given the option, definitely buy older bottles. Most that I have seen for sale have been from the 2007 vintage. If you order wine on-line, you can find much older bottles. I have only tried the Shiraz Cabernet, but Koonunga Hill produces 8 other blends and varieties.

The Shiraz Cabernet is purple/crimson in color. Critics say that it has flavors of red fruits, like strawberries, raspberries, and plums, and a chocolate-like finish. The makers claim that it is best matched with tomato-based Mediteranian dishes.

Let me know what you think if you try it! Enjoy!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Strawberry Cake

I've been meaning to write this post for a long time and realized yesterday that I never had. It comes from one of my favorite cookbooks - A Cookbook for My Southern Daughter by Patsy Smith. As I've said before, I've had this cookbook since Junior High School and could not even say how many of these wonderful recipes I have used! This is one of the first cakes that I started making. It is so easy! It's not difficult since it uses a cake mix but still tastes made-from-scratch since you add in fresh ingredients.

Grandmother's Strawberry Cake
1 pkg. white cake mix
4 eggs
1/2 pkg. frozen strawberries
1 small pkg. strawberry jello
1 cup vegetable oil

Combine all ingredients; beat. Cook in 9" layers. (I've also made a sheet cake before and it turns out so well!)

1/2 pkg. frozen strawberries
1 stick butter, melted
1 box powdered sugar
(I have actually never made this icing, but I'm sure it's wonderful. I always use this cream cheese icing.)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Monday Mentions

When I was 12 or 13 years old, I visited my aunt, Lynne, for the weekend. We had a great "girls weekend" as she taught me how to sew and cook. Unfortunately, the sewing didn't stick. But, her cooking lessons were very influential for me. She taught me how to cook my first leg of lamb! One of the most important things she taught me was the importance of growing your own herbs. They will always be fresh and are much less expensive than buying herbs from the grocery store every time you need them. It is so great to walk out back and pick the herbs I'll need for dinner. I started my first herb garden the summer that I had my cooking lessons with Lynne and have had one nearly every summer since. Herbs grow well in pots - so even if you live in an apartment or don't have a big yard, you can still make room for a few pots. You can even grow them successfully on the balcony if you live in an apartment.

To decide which herbs to grow, think about which foods you cook most often. I love French and Italian foods - so I always have rosemary, parsley, and basil. This summer I'm trying thyme and mint for the first time. I've also grown cilantro and chives before. There are so many options! And they are honestly very easy to grow. They need a lot of sun and a lot of water. Just be careful later in the summer, some herbs will start to burn if the sunlight is too direct. This is a picture of my herb garden on the back porch from last week. I have since taken out the rosemary (because it died!). Rosemary does not need as much water as the other herbs in this pot. So I bought more rosemary to plant separately. I'm replacing it with mint in the large pot and hoping that does better!

Last summer I also started growing tomatoes. Amazingly, they did really well on our balcony at the apartment. I grew "Little 100s" and a larger type of tomato plant. I would suggest growing smaller tomatoes - this summer I have 6 grape tomato plants. If you grow a larger tomato, you'll need a lot of plants to yield enough tomatoes to make it worth it. I think we got 4 tomatoes out of our big tomato plant last year. There are also a lot of hanging varieties that do well on porches and balconies. Our tomatoes grew most of the summer last year. We loved going out and picking fresh tomatoes for salads when we had guests. Yesterday I noticed that our plants now have little green tomatoes on them - I can't wait until they are ready! This is a picture of one of my pots this year.

On a separate note, Katie G., who has sent in some wonderful recipes that I've published on the blog, wrote this wonderful article for We Heart This. We Heart This is a fun on-line magazine and forum website that covers a plethora of interesting topics. Katie's article was published for Mother's Day.

Asian Asparagus Salad

Kent made this dish last night (while I was on the way home from an amazing Beachelorrette Party!). I love asparagus but sometimes get tired of cooking it the same way. This is a great recipe for fresh asparagus and the dressing gives a wonderful flavor! We had the asparagus with a grilled honey and ginger pork tenderloin (recipe to come later). It is really more like side dish than a salad and is super crisp. This would be a great dish to pair with anything Asian or even a meat dish that might be a little bland. This asparagus recipe will spice up your plate!

Asian Asparagus Salad
1 pound asparagus, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1-1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon sesame seeds, toasted
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

In a saucepan, cook the asparagus in a small amount of water until crisp-tender, about 3-4 minutes. Drain well and place in a large bowl.

Combine the soy sauce, oil, vinegar, sugar, sesame seeds, ginger and cumin; pour over asparagus and toss to coat. Cover and chill for 1 hour. Drain before serving. Yield: 4 servings.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Gnocchi with Pesto

Though I've always loved Italian food, I didn't discover gnocchi until I went to Italy with Campus Crusade for Christ during college. Gnocchi is a pasta made from potatoes and can be served with a variety of sauces. To make gnocchi from scratch can be very time-consuming. So, I've always bought it from the store (it can usually be found in the Italian food section). If you're not someone who likes to cook, this can be a very easy meal any night of the week. This pesto sauce would be great on gnocchi, but you could always use a bottled sauce if you don't want to make it yourself.

Basil Pesto (from Giada de Laurentiis)
2 cups (packed) fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1 garlic clove
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
About 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

In a blender, pulse the basil, pine nuts, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper until finely chopped. With the blender still running, gradually add enough oil to form a smooth and thick consistency. Transfer the pesto to a medium bowl and stir in the cheese. Season the pesto with more salt and pepper to taste. (The pesto can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Giada says, "The secret to making pesto into a great pasta dressing is to get the sauce to the right consistency. Fresh from the food processor, pestos are usually too thick to coat pastas; you'll just end up with mounds of the sauce amid a lot of undressed noodles. You need to mix in just enough of the pasta cooking liquid to get the pesto to coat the pasta, but not so much that you've created pesto soup."

To cook the gnocchi, just boil water like you normally would in order to cook regular pasta. When the gnocchi starts to float to the top, you'll know it's ready! Just drain and serve with sauce.
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