Try This: Grilled Carrots and Cabbage

grilledcarrotscabbage

I am a huge fan of roasted vegetables, but at this time of year, it is still too hot to crank up the oven. However, the grill, which is doing overtime these days, is a perfect alternative.  Having procured some beautiful carrots and a nice head of cabbage from the market, I was determined to make good use of them with our grilled chicken.  And I did–despite the disparaging remarks from the teens in the crew carpool when I replied to their daily question, “What’s for dinner?”.  Their responses ranged from skeptical to downright horrified, but I ignored them.

Here’s what I did:  I removed the green stems from the carrots, washed them–but didn’t peel them, which seems to be the new trend.  I put them in a ziploc bag with a healthy slosh of red wine vinegar, salt, pepper and garlic.  Left ‘em there for a few hours.

grilledcabbageprep

About 30 minutest before dinner, I heated the grill, cut the cabbage into large hunks, pulled them apart, put the leaves into foil packets, doused them with olive oil, salt and pepper, closed the packets.  For a 1/2 head I used two foil packets.  If they are over full they won’t cook properly.

I put the the cabbage packets onto the grill, and carrots directly onto the grill.  I closed the top, let the carrots char a bit, rthen rolled them around to get a uniform sear.  Then I moved them off direct heat and let them roast.  Meanwhile, I opened the cabbage packets, gave the leaves a stir, reclosed them, and kept a cursory eye on them while the chicken grilled nearby.

The result:  delicious, unique side dishes, no hot kitchen, and best of all, teens who admitted that I’d been right and they’d been wrong.  Thank you veggies!

Burratina – Queen of Cheeses

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Was I the last to know?

I only tried this lush soft mozzarella type cheese this summer — and then had it twice in succession. I am now an addict.

This cheese performs fantastically when cooked, but is astounding when eaten fresh, fresh, fresh.

Living round the corner from the Italian market in Philly, I can readily lay my hands on fresh burratina.  Failing that, Wholefoods and Di Bruno Bros., are both good options.

This salad was beyond great and oh so simple.

Tomato, Mint, Burratina Salad

1 x heirloom tomato thinly sliced

1x ball of fresh burratina

1x cup of chickpeas

1x tsp black olives finely chopped

sprig of mint

Olive oil and salt and pepper to dress the salad

Directions

  1. Assemble main ingredients prettily on plate
  2. Drizzle olive oil dressing
  3. top with fresh mint leaves

 

With one ball of burratina left, I decided to make a baked pasta for dinner, replacing the ricotta with a cheesy white sauce and fresh burratina.  This cheese is a little difficult to handle, because when you slice the cheese, the squishy inside tends to burst out.  No matter… scoop the lot up and use every last drop of it.  It makes for a rich and memorable supper.

 

 

Perfectly Grilled Filet

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I know grilling meat is often considered the “men’s department”, but I”m an equal opportunity cook. I recently pulled off some beautifully grilled filet mignons that would have impressed the most macho carnivore.  Here’s my method, which worked for 1 inch thick steaks; for thicker steaks increase cooking time:

Remove meat from fridge 2 hours before cooking to allow it to come to room temp.

Thirty minutes before cooking, splash it with red wine, and give it a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper.

Heat the grill to 500.

Place the steaks on the grill, close cover, and leave for two minutes.

Open the grill and rotate (don’t flip) steaks by 90 degrees — this makes those impressive hashed grill marks.  Cover grill and leave for another two minutes.

Open the grill, flip the steaks, and repeat previous step.  (Total cooking time was 8 minutes for rare steaks.)

Remove steaks from grill, cover with foil, and let sit for five minutes.

Enjoy.

 

Exotic Mushroom Risotto

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I don’t often serve meatless dinners, because my family is a bunch of carnivores.

Risotto is one of those meals however where, if you get the ingredients right, then you don’t actually notice that there is no meat on your plate,

That’s not to say that this recipe is a vegetarian meal, because I like to use chicken stock as the base for the risotto.  (And I did actually give in to our carnivorous instincts and serve the risotto with grilled sliced chicken…)

But the thought was there.

The dinner was inspired by a glorious looking pack of exotic Chinese mushrooms at Wholefoods featuring shitake mushrooms and some bright yellow frilly mushroom that I tried to look up online and find the name for, to no avail.  In my quest to identify the mushrooms, I came across this freaky-deaky website detailing mushrooms in all shades of the rainbow.

The recipe itself is extremely simple.  The exotic mushrooms all changed to a reassuring shade of mushroom brown on cooking…Thanks to allrecipes.com (my everyday go to) for this gourmet risotto recipe.

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I am a huge fan of tarragon and liberally sprinkled fresh strands of this herb all over the grilled chicken and risotto.

Awesome.

How to Make Grilled Lamb Burgers with Tzatziki

lambburgers

While out to dinner with a houseguest at Talula’s Garden recently, we debated our main course selections.  She wavered between the day boat scallops and the grilled lamb meatballs.  I advised her to go with the scallops and promised to make grilled lamb meatballs the following night for dinner.  The scallops were divine, and I headed to the market bright and early the next day to procure the fixings for the lamb dish.

I envisioned a well seasoned, nicely charred orb on a skewer served with a healthy scoop of homemade tzatziki.  And that is more or less what happened, save the skewer.  I tried meatballs small and large, but they fell off the wooden skewer.  I tried a sausage shape, but the same thing occurred.  Finally, I pitched the skewers and formed small patties.  Worked like a charm.  Here’s my recipe, which served 8 generously.

Lamb Burgers

2 1/2 lbs ground lamb

1 large onion, chopped finely

1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic

1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint, oregano, and any other herb you desire

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1 egg

1/4 cup yogurt

1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

 

1.  Mix all ingredients well.  I used a Kitchen Aid mixer to emulsify the fat thoroughly.

2.  Form patties of desired size; I was going for smallish, slider size discs (about 2 inches in diameter and 1/2 inch thick), but if you are aiming for a more typical burger style serving, then take  a larger handful.

3.  Grill on medium high heat about 4 minutes per side for medium. Serve immediately topped with Tzatziki (recipe follows).

Tzatziki

1 pint greek yogurt (I used non fat but any concentration works)

1 large cucumber, peeled and grated into bowl (include liquid)

a fistful of mint leaves

salt and pepper to taste (be generous)

juice of 1/2 lime

Mix all ingredients, chill, and serve with lamb burgers.  This also works nicely as a side unto itself served in small bowls alongside any grilled dish.  You can also use it as a salad dressing, tossed over greens.

 

 

Light Chicken Alfredo

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Our family is split down the middle on the question of red or white sauce with pasta.  I’m in the white sauce camp, and my difficult daughter agrees; she doesn’t like the texture of tomatoes.

I’m not a huge fan of carbonara, because of the quantity of eggs involved AND I tend to spoil the recipe by wandering away mid recipe to make a phone call so that my spaghetti carbonara invariably turns to scrambled egg spaghetti.

Hmm.

This light Chicken Alfredo recipe leans on just two eggs, still includes heavy cream, but lightens the sauce with a generous quantity of chicken stock.

I threw in crispy turkey bacon and caramelized onions for added oomph: I only wish I’d used more garlic…

It was still very good indeed.

I am indebted to my stock online resource Allrecipes.com for this Chicken Alfredo recipe.

To make a gluten free friendly version of this recipe, simply use gluten free pasta and double double check that there is no wheat filler or yeast in the chicken stock that you use.

You Say Tomato, I Say Dinner!

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I was the delighted recipient of a bushel of garden grown tomatoes last week.  I immediately ate two of the luscious orbs for lunch with some tuna salad, and then set to using the rest to their greatest advantage.

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Raw tomatoes don’t require much, and I was determined to showcase them in a way that did them justice.  A simple sauce of chopped tomatoes spoke to me, and best of all it was completely fuss-free and super quick.  An added bonus:  this can do double duty as bruschetta or to top grilled fish/meats.  Here’s what I did:

tomatosauceraw

The sauce, pre pasta

6 plum tomatoes (or 3 large heirlooms) coarsely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 tsp salt (to taste)

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (to taste)

10 basil leaves, coarsely chopped

1 lb pasta

Grated cheese for serving

In a large, shallow bowl, add tomatoes with their juice, along with oil, garlic, salt, pepper and basil.   Meanwhile, cook the pasta al dente, according to package directions; drain thoroughly and toss with sauce.  Serve with grated cheese and enjoy.

 

 

Home Baked Cuban Bread (Gluten-free!)

 

This recipe was very tasty and had a great texture.  Thumbs up from the whole family!

This recipe was very tasty and had a great texture. Thumbs up from the whole family!

My daughter had a meal at Alma de Cuba in Center City Philadelphia and came home raving about the bread there – it’s gluten-free and she didn’t wind up feeling like a second-class citizen.

I jumped online to find the recipe; I struggled.  Most of the recipes use real wheat flour.  No good. I saw some recipes for gluten-free foccacia, but I wanted to make CUBAN bread, because it sounds cooool.

After much surfing, I found this recipe embedded in a Cuban Pork sandwich recipe.  I’ve not tried the full recipe, but I have ‘borrowed’ ie nicked wholesale the recipe from this blogger.

Credit where it’s due, to try this recipe, visit the following blog

The recipe uses a Bob’s Red Mill gluten free bread mix and is so easy.  (There are a scant five ingredients!).  Idiot proof, for sure.

If the bread is this good, I can’t wait to try the full recipe!

Spicy Slaw, Versatile and Delicious

slaw

Ever on the hunt for a crowd pleasing side, I came up with this treasure, which adds a zingy crunch to just about anything.  I’ve served it with tacos as flavorful enhancement to the meat filling; with Indian food in place of a more traditional kichumber salad; with barbecue, as a side dish with a traditional steak dinner, as an accompaniment to Chinese stir fry, and even on deli sandwiches instead of mayo and mustard.

This spicy slaw kicks pretty much everything up a notch.   It’s absolutely divine with green cabbage, but the red cabbage adds a beautiful color accent to your table.  Here’s how I make it:

slawingredients

1 head cabbage, chopped finely or run through food processor

1 onion, chopped finely

1 bunch cilantro, chopped

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

2 tablespoons plain yogurt or sour cream

juice of 2 limes

Sriracha, salt, and black pepper to taste–don’t be shy, this should have some kick!

splash of pickle juice

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl.  Cover, chill, and let sit for several hours to allow flavors to blend.  This keeps for up to a week in the fridge.

 

Gluten Free Stonewall Donuts

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Very excited to find a mix for gluten-free donuts from Stonewall Kitchen – that purveyor of delicious condiments, dips and spices.  I’d not tried any of their baked goods mixes before but I grabbed this one when I saw it in the food section of Marshalls (you just never know where interesting gluten-free produce will show up!)

“It’s bad”, said my sweet toothed Celiac daughter when I served her the tenderly made steaming fresh donut.  Well they looked good.  But unfortunately she was right..they taste like the lint you pick out of your tumble dryer – I’ve not tried it myself, but that gives you a good idea of the texture of the donuts.

What a disappointment.  This one is a no-no.

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Looks just aint enough, as every mother knows!

On the upside, these Nairns oatmeal cookies are the bees-knees.  They come in snack packs and unlike many other cardboard like gluten free cookies these ones are actually indistinguishable from non gluten-free food.  And the cookies are GUARANTEED GLUTEN-FREE; they are grown on a farm in Wisconsin by a farming family who are all Celiacs and take this stuff very seriously.

 

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Gooooooo Wisconsin Farmers.

Thanks.