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

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

New Finds...

Many of you know that I'm not a big fan of peanut butter (meaning that I never eat it unless it's packed with sugar and surrounded by chocolate in a reese's cup!).  I've finally found some alternatives.  My friend, Sally, told me in college that I should try almond butter - a few months ago I finally gave it a try!  And it's amazing!  Unfortunately, some grocery stores either don't carry it or only carry the organic brand that cost $20+ for a jar!  So, recently, I found sunflower seed butter.  If possible, it's even more amazing than almond butter - and it costs about the same as peanut butter.  So far, I've only eaten these new finds with apples as a snack.  I haven't ventured into sandwiches with jelly yet - one step at a time...

Monday, May 30, 2011

Toomer's Lemonade (according to some)

Toomer's Drugs in Auburn is famous for their lemonade.  Kent found this recipe that claims to be the one that is used at Toomer's.  We're not sure if it is, but it's definitely good!  And this time of year, cold lemonade always sounds good!

Picture by: Deborah Ory
Toomer's Lemonade

Put 5 lbs. sugar in a gallon jug and fill the jug with water. Stir or shake until sugar dissolves and solution is clear. (Hot water makes the sugar dissolve more quickly.)

To make 1 gallon of lemonade, pour 1 pint of lemon juice and 2 pints of simple syrup in a gallon container.  Finish filling the container with water and ice. Stir.

To make one large lemonade (16-oz.), squeeze the juice of one lemon into a 16-oz. cup, add 4-oz. of simple syrup and finish filling with water and ice. Stir.

**Kent says, If you'd just like to make a 1 gallon mixture, use  2.5 cups of sugar, 2 cups of lemon juice (from about 15 lemons), and fill the rest of the gallon jug with water.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Homewood Gourmet's Baby Bleu Salad (from Chef Franklin Biggs)

This is a great summer salad recipe from a wonderful restaurant in Homewood!  I have also included the recipes for the dressing and roasted pecans.  I can't wait to try it!

1-1/2 lbs. Baby Lettuce Mix (sometimes called mezclun or spring/summer mix)
6 oz. Blue Cheese, crumbled
2 cups Balsamic Vinaigrette (recipe below)
4 ea. Oranges, peeled to the flesh and sliced (2 slices per salad)
2 pt. Strawberries, hulled and quartered (2 Tbsp. per salad)
6 oz. Sweet and Spicy pecans (recipe below)

Toss baby lettuce mix with balsamic vinaigrette and blue cheese, using enough dressing to coat lettuce but not drown them. Place in center of plate. Scatter oranges and strawberries over the salad. Top with sweet and spicy pecans.

Balsamic Vinaigrette (for 12 salads)
1 cup Balsamic Vinegar
1/3 cup Dijon Mustard
1/3 cup Honey
2 TB Garlic, chopped, browned or roasted
2 tsp Fresh Shallots, chopped (optional)
2 cups Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

Whisk vinegar, honey, dijon mustard, garlic and shallots until thick. Slowly add olive oil as dressing emulsifies. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Sweet and Spicy Pecans (makes six ounces)
2 cups Water
1/2 cup White sugar, mixed with water to make a syrup
6 oz. Pecans, whole
4 Tbsp. White Sugar
2 Tbsp. Chili Powder
1/2 tsp. Ground dark red chilis

Mix sugar and spices together. Briefly soak the pecans in the sugar mixture, drain lightly and toss nuts with spice/sugar mix to coat. Lay out on a roasting pan and roast for 10 minutes at 350° until golden brown.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Lemon, Basil, and Salmon

I know, I've been such a bad blogger lately!  Things seem to have gotten a little crazy, so I haven't had as much time to try new recipes lately.  But, I did want to go ahead and share the pasta side that we made on Easter to go with our salmon (we made the salmon following a different recipe that I mentioned last time, but they are very similar).  The pasta had a soft flavor and didn't overpower the fish.  It definitely works well pared with other dishes.

Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Lemon, Basil, and Salmon
1/2 pound whole-wheat spaghetti pasta
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 (4 oz) pieces salmon
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
3 tablespoons capers
1 lemon, zested
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 cups fresh baby spinach leaves

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta and transfer to a large bowl. Add the garlic, extra-virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper. Toss to combine.

Meanwhile, warm the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Season the salmon with salt and pepper. Add the fish to the pan and cook until medium-rare, about 2 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the fish. Remove the salmon from the pan.

Add the basil, capers, lemon zest, and lemon juice to the spaghetti mixture and toss to combine. Set out 4 serving plates or shallow bowls. Place 1/2 cup spinach in each bowl. Top with 1/4 of the pasta. Top each mound of pasta with a piece of salmon. Serve immediately.
From: Giada de Laurentiis
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