Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Honeydew Salad with Genoa Salami and Mozzarella Fresca

Printable Recipe
Honeydew's gentle sweetness is just what a good salami needs to enhance its flavor and cut its saltiness. Adding a mellow cheese like Mozzarella Fresca is the perfect accompaniment for both, adding no extra saltiness, only cool smooth flavor and texture.

Honeydews when ripe might be a little sticky on the outside but the skin should not be slick or slimy. A few freckles are fine also, they just indicate ripeness. Try to choose one that is good and heavy for its size. It's OK to leave it sitting out on the counter for a few days and it will continue to ripen, then it needs to be refrigerated. OK, that's the honeydew lesson.

Now, here's a little basil info. I chose this variegated leaf basil because it is very mild and sweet. I wanted a touch of basil flavor but nothing pungent. If you don't grow this type or can't find it, either skip the basil or just use a single leaf of the basic variety, very finely minced.

I used only half this melon and cut it into small dice as pictured here. Making these slices about half an inch thick or less made it easy to crisscross cut them into dice.
I did the same thing with the fresh mozzarella, slicing it a little thicker than 1/4."  This salami was already thin cut. If you don't have the same brand look for another another that is actually made in Italy. The difference in flavor is very much worth the few dollars more you will spend. It will be much more tender and tasty, not like chewy harsh tasting cheap salamis. Yep, I know I'm handing out a lot of shopping advice this week. That's what I'm here for.
Here we go, taking it all down to size. For the meat: I just left it stacked the way it came in the package and cut through in strips, then cut it crossways some too. Just let it tear as you go, doesn't matter. Stacking the basil leaves makes them easy to cut into thin julienned strips.Now toss all together and don't worry about adding any sort of dressing, you won't need it. The salami lends a bit of oiliness to the moisture of the honeydew and creates a bit of its own "dressing."
Colorful, a bit unusual, but so tasty! Paul Dean and Bobby Flay have both made the Watermelon Feta Salad popular in the last few years. Well, this Honeydew Salad is my take on the prosciutto-wrapped-melon-slice idea with a little bolder flavor in a quick, easy salad. Buon appetito!
1 small Honeydew Melon
1 4-6 oz pkg Genoa Salami
4 oz Mozzarella Fresca
1-4 Fresh Basil leaves 

 SummerFest is on at the Food Network website (FN Dish)! Once again, you'll find my foodie blogs on the Food Network along with other great food lovin' bloggers, offering up our best ideas for your Farmer's Market finds all summer long. Each week we'll be blogging together with the FN Dish to produce fabulous ways to enjoy your produce!  This week, it's Melon, next week Eggplant. Check out these delicious ideas:

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Caramelized Grilled Peaches

(Printable Recipe)
Fresh peaches on the grill, brushed with brown sugar and butter, drizzled with raspberry juice. The only thing that could make this any better might be to swirl it all with some brown sugared vanilla cream in the ice cream maker and turn it into...oh my, that's another post altogether. Back to the grill - these will be ready in a snap so let's pull it all together before the meat hits the flames.

For 3-6 peaches, you'll need 2 Tbs of Butter and 1 Tbs of Brown Sugar.  Peel the peaches, split in half, and pop out the pit. 
Now, some recipes will tell you to blanch the peaches to loosen the skin and make them easier to peel. Here's what makes them easier to peel: A Decent Peeler. Get yourself a nice quality vegetable peeler and throw out that ancient one that's as dull as rubber. I use a Cutco peeler because that thing would take the hide off a coconut. It's kind of pricey at around $30, but it's a tool I use constantly in the kitchen, just like my good knives. If you cook often, you don't need to feel guilty about investing in decent tools for the job. The "shop" in our garage is full of all manner of self-important tools. Well, my kitchen is my "shop," so there.

Before I got off on that rant I believe I was about to say let's get the caramel coating ready for our peaches. Here is the simplest possible way to make it - put the butter and brown sugar in the microwave for 1 minute only and then whisk immediately very quickly to blend into a smooth liquid caramel. And yes I have whisks in 6 sizes all the way down to this itty bitty and look how cute that is.

Brush both sides of peaches and move them to the grill in the least hot spot. Depending on how hot or not hot that spot is, they will need anywhere from 2 to 5 minutes on each side to get some grill marks and just warm and sweeten up. Sugar burns easily so keep a close eye on them, maybe checking once a minute to be sure they don't burn. These will be delicious just as they are but when has that ever stopped us before?

Raspberries and peaches were made for each other so let's marry them together. This is one 6 oz package of fresh berries to whir in the food processor with 2-3 Tbs sugar and a squeeze of lemon.

I don't mind the seeds and don't bother to strain them out, but you can do so if you wish. Just press through a fine mesh strainer and use the remaining puree to guild your lovely peaches just before serving. Or you could serve this rich ruby sauce in a small glass pitcher or bowl and let your guests choose for themselves.

 SummerFest at the Food Network website (FN Dish) is back! Once again, you'll find my foodie blogs on the Food Network along with other great food lovin' bloggers, offering up our best ideas for your Farmer's Market finds all summer long. Each week we'll be blogging together with the FN Dish to produce fabulous ways to enjoy your produce!  This week, it's Peaches, next week Melon. Check out these delicious ideas:

Delicious Lean: Smokey Peach Chipotle Grilled Chicken
Jeanette's Healthy Living: Peach Blackberry Arugula Salad
Cooking With Elise: Streusel Topped Peach Muffins With Peach Butter
Heather Christo Cooks: Peach Coconut Pancakes
Ingredients, Inc: Easy Peach Pie
From My Corner of Saratoga: Grilled Peaches With Caramel-Ginger Sauce and Pound Cake
Dishin & Dishes: Peach Lacquered Chicken Salad
Big Girls Small Kitchen: Easy Peach Limeade
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Fresh Peach and Coconut Cake
Thursday Night Dinner: Peach Shortbread
Sweet Life Bake: Jicama Tortilla Salad With Peach Dressing
I Am Baker: Cilantro Peach Salsa
Zaika Zabardast: Donut Peach Quesadilla
And Love It Too: Peachy Coconut Streusel Muffins
Daydreamer Desserts: White Peach Margaritas
Cooking Channel: 4 Savory Uses for Peaches
Healthy Eats: What to do With Overripe Peaches
FN Dish: Peaches Move to the Big Kids' Table

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Shrimp and Chorizo with Red Pepper Chermoula Sauce

(Printable Recipe)
Why not double dose this shrimp with spicy and exotic flavors both? The chorizo gives a nice deep heat and savor while the chermoula sauce adds a top note of piquant green and lemony tang along with a snap of red chili.

If you haven't heard of chermoula sauce before, I'll bet you soon hear of it again or see it on a trendy menu. It's a traditional Moroccan marinade that seems to be making an appearance in all sorts of dishes these days. I've added a few non-traditional ingredients while keeping the basics.  And we're going to make it first so the flavors can mull a bit. A night or two in the fridge would be even better!

The greens are cilantro and about twice as much parsley. (So, here I've used 1/4 C Cilantro, 1/2 C Parsley.) The spices: 1 tsp each of cumin, coriander, and paprika. Unless you use ground coriander often, buy it fresh just before you make this or buy coriander seed and grind it yourself in a clean coffee grinder or mortar and pestle. It should smell like a fresh cut lemon. Anytime you open a spice bottle and smell nothing, throw it away.  Just to intensify the flavors of these 3 spices further still, we're going to borrow a tip from India and heat them in a skillet over low heat. Use just a drizzle of oil with the 3 spices and move it all constantly with a spatula until it bubbles, maybe one minute. It should smell very fragrant.
Now drop all the greens, two seeded red chilies, and a garlic clove into a food processor with the heated spices. Process with  2 Tbs olive oil and 2 tsp lemon juice until well combined and smooth. Taste test. I like to add a pinch of sugar to balance that lemon flavor, if the coriander was good and potent. You be the judge. I also like a grate or two of ginger, which is completely un-traditional, but again, try it and judge for yourself.

Now it's time for shrimp! You can thin slice the chorizo if that works. This particular link was almost falling apart when I cut it so I just removed the casing and cooked it in "crumbles" in the skillet. The point is to flavor the skillet before the shrimp hits it, so really let the chorizo brown well and develop a nice fond on the bottom of the skillet.

It almost looks too done, doesn't it? That messy looking skillet is just what we want, though.

Now, add the rinsed shrimp and stir quickly to pick up all the good bits on the bottom. It will be ready within just 5 minutes or so. Select the largest shrimp and cut in two to be sure it's white all the way through if you're not sure whether they are all done.

Serve with a side of Red Pepper Chermoula Sauce!

 SummerFest at the Food Network website (FN Dish) is back! Once again, you'll find my foodie blogs on the Food Network along with other great food lovin' bloggers, offering up our best ideas for your Farmer's Market finds all summer long. Each week we'll be blogging together with the FN Dish to produce fabulous ways to enjoy your produce!  This week, it's Peppers, next week Peaches. Check out these delicious other great ideas:

Jeanette's Healthy Living: Stuffed Peppers With Quinoa Grilled Vegetables and Pesto Sauce
Cooking With Elise: Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
What's Gaby Cooking: Oven-Roasted Peppers With Herbed Breadcrumbs
And Love It Too: Roasted Red Pepper Paleo Hummus
Feed Me Phoebe: Grilled Flank Steak With Gazpacho Sauce
Big Girls Small Kitchen: Seared Pepper Tacos With Pintos and Avocado Crema
Delicious Lean: Peppery Kung Pao
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Spicy Roasted Red Pepper Dip With Baked Corn Tortillas
Thursday Night Dinner: Black Bean and Sweet Pepper Salad
Cooking Channel: 5 Stuffed Pepper Favorites
HGTV Gardens: Garden to Table: Peppers
Sweet Life Bake: Rajas de Poblano con Elote y Crema
Dishin & Dishes: Bacon, Onion and Green Chile "Jam"
Healthy Eats: Peppers for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
FN Dish: Meat and Peppers

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Spicy Tomato-Tomatillo Chicken Tenders

(Printable Recipe)
How about tenderlicious chicken smothered in a quick sauce of tomatoes, garlic, leeks, and tomatillos, baked up with just enough cream and mozzarella to make it seem decadent? Are you with me? Well, now that I've given you the whole recipe, go and whip it up - blogster is out to lunch.

Nah, as always, I have obsessively detailed pictures and directions for you so let's get at it.

Here's my take from the Farmer's Market this weekend: beautiful heirloom tomatoes (I asked for the best cooking tomatoes, meaty and light on the acid), some of those funny green tomatillos, and nice young leeks so small they look almost like scallions. Not interchangeable! Leeks seem tough when you slice them but their flavor is oniony but wonderfully mild and just a little heat almost makes them melt.

So start by washing everything up. Pull the husks from the tomatillos; they'll be quite sticky but only need a good rinse under the tap. The leeks may be another story because they can hold a lot of soil and grit. Rinse them and slice to the end of the white part, then swish around and soak well in a big bowl of water to get any soil from between the layers.

Let these soak while you chop the tomatillos in half and quarter the tomatoes, or eighth the larger ones. I think they're actually easiest to peel after cutting them up. Thought you read that wrong, didn't you? Well, try it. The skin usually comes off in an easy single piece or two with no need to blanch them first or anything else if you peel the cut pieces.

See, I have a picture to prove it:

What is NOT in the pictures above is the hot pepper you need to add! (How did I miss that??) Chop one fresh Serrano, jalapeno, or hot pepper of your choice, discarding seeds if you can't take the heat. I wear surgical gloves to handle them, even if it's just one pepper.
Now, drain the leeks and throw everything in a pot with 3 or 4 cloves of peeled garlic. Pour on just enough chicken broth to cover. We want to simmer the lot long enough to soften everything up, so add about 1 tbs. salt, cover, and when it comes to a boil reduce the heat and let it go for about 10 minutes.   When ready, scoop the vegetables into the food processor with liquid no more than half as deep as vegetables to help keep everything moving as you process into a puree.
Save that delicious broth for soup!

You'll probably end up with twice as much of this sauce as you need. It freezes perfectly in a ziplock bag, though, so save it for later! For now, just pour an even layer over the chicken tenders so they are smothered in the sauce.

1/4 cup Half&Half - 1 cup Mozzarella

Drizzle with the Half & Half. Don't worry, it will mix together as it cooks.

Top with the mozzarella. We're baking these tenders
at 350 for about 20 minutes until chicken is just cooked through, but they could be simmered in a skillet covered in this sauce as well. To brown the top it would have to go under the broiler just a minute or so. Don't wait for the cheese to brown in the oven either or the chicken could get tough, instead of tender tenders. It's better to put them under the broiler to brown the cheese if you want it that way.

Voila, la finished dish!

 SummerFest at the Food Network website (FN Dish) is back! Once again, you'll find my foodie blogs on the Food Network along with other great food lovin' bloggers, offering up our best ideas for your Farmer's Market finds all summer long. Each week we'll be blogging together with the FN Dish to produce fabulous ways to enjoy your produce!  This week, it's tomatoes, next week Peppers. Check out these delicious other great ideas:

Cooking With Elise: Fresh Tomato Sauce
Jeanette's Healthy Living: Tomato Gazpacho Salsa
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Tomato Cobbler Anyone?
Virtually Homemade: Spaghetti With Tomatoes, Prosciutto and Fresh Corn
What's Gaby Cooking: Chicken Kebabs With Romesco Sauce
Big Girls, Small Kitchen: Salmon Spaghetti With Plum Tomatoes and Avocado
Feed Me Phoebe: Roasted Fresh Tomato Puttanesca Sauce
Chez Us: Easy Tomato Tart
Made By Michelle: Tomato and Pesto Pizza
Ingredients, Inc.: Lighter Fried Green Tomatoes
Delicious Lean: Creamy Light Tuna Salad Stuffed Tomatoes
From My Corner of Saratoga: Tomato Jam
Dishin & Dishes: Tomato Zucchini Frittata
And Love It Too: Roasted Garlic, Basil and Tomato Paleo Tart
Healthy Eats: The Fresh-for-Once Tomato
Sweet Life Bake: Pico de Gallo
Zaika Zabardast: Grilled Tofu and Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Sandwich
Thursday Night Dinner: Tomato and Watermelon Salad
Cooking Channel: How to Prepare Summer Tomatoes
FN Dish: Tomatoes Go Beyond Salads
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