Tuesday, August 31, 2010

East Meets West Salmon

We made this recipe for the first time a few weeks ago and I was craving it again. This is one of Bal Arneson's, Spice Goddess, recipes. The salmon is rubbed with a spice mixture of garam masala, curry leaves, mustard seeds, and asafoetida before going on the grill. The salmon was served over a bed of basmati rice and topped with Mango Masala.

The Mango Masala was made with a ripe mango, mango juice, minced fresh cilantro leaves, minced red onion, fresh lime juice, garam masala and salt.

This meal was just as delicious this time as I remembered it to be.

Mona and Gerry agree:

Monday, August 30, 2010

Kidney Bean Stew

Today's Meatless Monday dinner was Kidney Bean Stew with Sweet Potatoes and Oranges. It was good with some decent spice but it didn't quite meet our expectations. The wonderful thing about Indian cooking is the smell of the spices as they are tempered. This dish started by cooking some chopped ginger and garlic in grapeseed oil for a couple of minutes and then adding the spices: bay leaves, cumin seeds, garam masala, oregano, rosemary, and turmeric and continuing to cook for another couple of minutes. The smell was heavenly. Next, tamarind pulp, crushed tomatoes, sweet potatoes and water were added and cooked for 15 minutes or so.

Kidney beans and cubed orange segments went into the pot to heat through. The heat was turned off, the pot covered, and left to sit for 10 minutes. I'm not quite sure where this dish faltered, but the sweet potatoes were not really tender, the tamarind pulp may have added the sour flavor and the oranges were a bit much.

We certainly managed to eat this stew, but won't be planning on making it again.

We finished dinner with a bowl of yogurt, topped with sliced strawberries and fresh raspberries drizzled with honey.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken Pot Pie is comfort food for us. I had leftover chicken from Friday night and so decided to use it for this comfort meal. I made a sauce, by cooking some chopped onion with flour and salt and pepper in butter, until bubbly. I added some chicken broth and milk and cooked until boiling and thickened. I added my cubed, cooked chicken and some peas and carrots and poured this mixture into a square casserole dish. This got topped with my homemade pie crust and baked for 35 minutes. This is my favorite way to use leftover chicken or turkey.

A Birthday Celebration

Saturday we celebrated Zeb's birthday. We started the day with Eggs Benedict for breakfast. How can you go wrong with a toasted english muffin half, topped with a slice of Canadian bacon, a poached egg and a nice spoonful of Hollandaise Sauce? What a great way to start the day.

We moved on to lunch a few hours later which was the Three-Step Taco Salad that I had made just a few days earlier. This salad is easy to make and serves a crowd. There were 10 of us and we still had a little salad left after everyone had enjoyed. We ended lunch with Chocolate Crinkle Cookies which Val had made for us. A wonderful almost fudgy chocolate cookie. She did a fabulous job making these.

Dinner was Caprese Salad, slices of fresh tomatoes, with slices of fresh mozzarella cheese, drizzled with Balsamic Vinegar, salt and freshly ground black pepper and a chiffonade of fresh basil. This was followed with Vodka Cream Pasta, grilled chicken breast slices and grilled Italian sausage slices. This was accompanied with some fresh bread and a baguette that was toasted, buttered and sprinkled with garlic salt.

Dessert was Peanut Butter Pie, which started with a chocolate crumb crust, filled with a mixture of cream cheese, peanut butter, sugar, butter, vanilla extract and freshly whipped cream. I grated some chocolate over the top and served a great peanut butter pie.

The activity for the afternoon was Bingo with prizes for the winners! It was a great day!

The Grilling Master

Gerry has turned into the Grilling Master. Friday night for dinner, he made Rotisserie Five-Spice Chicken, Oven Roasted Potatoes, and Roasted Tomatoes Stuffed with Grilled Ratatouille. Everything turned out perfectly. The chicken and stuffed tomato recipes came from the Weber's Real Grilling Cookbook which is quickly becoming one of our favorites.

The chicken was marinated for 4 hour in a mixture of orange juice concentrate, soy sauce, lime juice, cilantro, sesame oil, garlic, Chinese five-spice powder and freshly ground black pepper. It then went on the rotisserie on the gas grill for 1 1/4 hour. It came out nice and charred on the outside while still tender and juicy on the inside.

The potatoes were put in the oven with olive oil, salt, pepper and fresh rosemary to roast for an hour.

The tomatoes were hollowed out and then the ratatouille was made by grilling some red onion, a red pepper, and a zucchini. The grilled vegetables were chopped and some mozzarella cheese, fresh basil and balsamic vinegar were added. The ratatouille was piled into the hollowed out tomatoes and then they were grilled for another 10 minutes.

Everything came out beautifully.

Gerry and Mona agree

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Potato-Bacon Torte

One of the TV shows we like to watch is the Next Food Network Star and tonight's dinner is from last year's winner, Melissa d'Arabian. This menu is from one the first few shows she did about a year ago.

You start the torte by making the crust. Gerry mixed butter, flour, and salt in the food processor and then added water until the dough stuck together. He then let the dough rest in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes, before rolling out the bottom crust.

He moved on to the filling by cooking some bacon until crisp, draining it on paper towels and crumbled it when cool enough to handle.

Meanwhile some heavy cream was heated to a bare simmer with some fresh thyme. The heat was turned off and this was allowed to steep for 5 minutes.

Baking potatoes were halved lengthwise and then sliced thinly before being layered in the pie crust, sprinkled with salt and pepper and some of the crumbled bacon. This layering process was continued to fill the pie pan and then topped with some Gruyere cheese. The cream was poured over all of this and allowed to seep down between the potato slices. The top crust went on and the pie was baked for close to an hour and then allowed to rest when done.

The side dish to this was a Cafe Green Salad with a Mustard Vinaigrette. The vinaigrette is made with Dijon mustard, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, freshly ground black pepper, and olive oil. We had this wonderful dressing with baby spinach. Yum!

Our rating:



Wednesday, August 25, 2010

3 Step Taco Salad

This is a Cooking Light recipe that we have been making for a long time. This recipe was first published in 2003 and we probably found it not long after that. There are really only 3 steps to this recipe (hence the name).

1. Brown some ground sirloin then add some taco seasoning and water and allow to simmer for about 5 minutes.

2. Mix some sour cream and salsa in a small bowl

3. Combine the beef mixture, iceberg lettuce, tortilla chips, fresh chopped tomatoes, some shredded cheddar cheese and black olives in a large bowl. Sprinkle with more cheese and black olives.

Done and Delicious!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Swordfish Steaks with Gazpacho Salsa

Tonight's dinner choice was absolutely wonderful!!! The first step was to make the dressing which was olive oil, red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, minced garlic, salt, Worcestershire sauce and pepper. Half of the dressing was brushed over some halved plum tomatoes, zucchini and onion slices. The halved veggies were grilled until charred and tender. The grilled veggies were chopped and added to a bowl with some chopped fresh cucumber, and dill and then tossed with the rest of the dressing.

The swordfish steaks were marinated for about 1 hour in a mixture of olive oil, red wine vinegar, herbes de Provence, salt and pepper. After marinating, the steaks were grilled (over charcoal, of course) for 8-10 minutes.

The steaks were served over a bed of rice and then topped with the salsa with steamed green beans on the side. The swordfish was flavorful and tender and the salsa was superb; the smoky, sweet flavor of the grilled veggies with the crunch of the cucumber was an unexpected treat.

Gerry and Mona agree:

Monday, August 23, 2010

Cheesy Food

For a few weeks now, I have been craving homemade cheese enchiladas and they were everything I remembered and more. This is an old classic Betty Crocker recipe that we go back to time and time again. One of the secrets to this recipe is the sauce which starts with chopped onion and garlic with chili powder cooked in a little vegetable oil. A big can of tomatoes is added along with some ground cumin, oregano, salt and pepper. This is allowed to simmer for 30 minutes stirring occasionally to break up the tomatoes.

The tortillas are dipped on both sides in some hot oil in a skillet to soften them before getting a quick dip on both sides in the pot of sauce. Each tortilla gets a little cheese (a combination of both shredded cheddar and shredded Monterey Jack) rolled and placed seam down in a casserole dish. Any remaining sauce goes over the top with sprinkle of a little extra cheese. The dish gets a quick 15 minute bake in a moderate oven and it's ready. A tomato flavored sauce, some tortillas, and cheese - absolutely perfect! These enchiladas get a garnish of shredded lettuce, sliced black olives and a dollop of sour cream.

We rounded out our dinner with some cantaloupe and watermelon cubes.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Getting Real

Each week I pick a different cookbook to pick a few recipes from. This week, my choice was Weber's Real Grilling Cookbook and that is what we cooked from tonight. We had Coffee-crusted Pork Chops with Bourbon Cream Sauce, Grilled Corn on the Cob, Sauteed Zucchini, Yellow Squash and Onions, and Oatmeal Date Bars to finish with.

I started tonight's dinner with the Bourbon Cream Sauce, by sauteeing some finely chopped onion in butter until tender, before adding chopped garlic. I removed the saucepan from the heat and added 1/4 cup of bourbon. I put the pan back on the burner, tilted the pan slightly to the flame and watched the huge flame burn for about a minute. It's always fun to flame things, but also a little intimidating. Once the flame subsided, I added some beef stock and a little heavy cream, and cooked until it reduced to a scant amount (this reduction process took about 30 minutes) and created a very well-rounded sauce. I added some chopped fresh thyme and salt and pepper to adjust the seasoning, and set aside.

I prepared a rub for the Pork Chops by combining finely ground dark-roasted coffee, chopped fresh thyme, salt and pepper. The pork chops were brushed with a little olive oil on each side and the rub was then evenly applied to both sides.

The corn on the cob was soaked in cold water to cover the cobs for 1 hour, still in their husks. The charcoal grill was lit to allow for its 30 minute start up time.

While the corn and pork chops were grilling, I sauteed a chopped Vidalia onion until softened before adding a sliced zucchini and sliced yellow squash, with salt and pepper. I added a little chopped fresh thyme to tie in the flavors with the rest of dinner.

When the pork chops came in off the grill, they got to rest for 3-5 minutes which is when I reheated the Bourbon Cream Sauce.

The pork chops were fabulous with the rub on the meat which turned brown and crusty on the grill and served with the sauce, which was very flavorful and creamy. The corn on the cob, I was very curious about, since this was the first time we cooked corn over charcoal. It came out perfect and delicious, but not any different from cooking it over a gas grill. All the dinner components were ready and plated at the same time and everything came out perfectly.

We rounded out the meal with Oatmeal Date Squares which is a childhood sweet I grew up with. Sometimes you just feel the need to go back to your roots and this was a craving. I started by combining some cut up dates, brown sugar, water and vanilla extract in a saucepan and cooking until smooth. While this mixture cooled, I made the bar mixture by whisking together brown sugar, fine oatmeal, flour, baking powder, and salt. I cut in butter until a fine mixture was achieved. Most of the oatmeal mixture was pressed in the bottom of a casserole dish, the date mixture went on top of that evenly and lastly some of the oatmeal mixture was sprinkled on top before going into the oven.

Our Rating
Gerry and Mona agree:

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Joys of Summer

Today we went to the Purple Cow for lunch and Emma got to finish with an ice cream cone. It was a vanilla cone which was colored purple (we were at the Purple Cow). We went to the one in Fairview since it has the outdoor fountains for the kids to play in.

Our ratings:


Friday, August 20, 2010

Tuscan-Style Rib Chops with Panzanella

Yum, need I say more? Gerry started this wonderful meal by making the dressing. He took some olive oil, balsamic vinegar, minced garlic, oregano, and salt and pepper. Some of this dressing was set aside for glazing the chops, and some was set aside for dressing the Panzanella. The chops were brushed with some of the dressing and left to marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

He tackled the salad next by brushing the eggplant and bread slices with some of the remaining dressing before grilling. The eggplant was grilled for a total of 4-6 minutes and the bread for 1-2 minutes.

Once cooked the eggplant and bread were cut into cubes and put in to a large bowl with some tomatoes, basil and reserved dressing with salt and pepper to taste.

Meanwhile, the lamb chops were seasoned with salt and pepper after the marnating time and grilled over charcoal, of course.

Gerry - 3 1/2 Stars
Mona - 4 Start

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Scallops and Succotash

We dined on Blackened Scallops with Southern Succotash tonight. It actually sounded better than it actually was. This recipe started with onion and garlic sauteed in olive oil before adding chopped fresh tomatoes, chicken broth, sugar and Tabasco which were brought to a simmer. Then corn, okra, and lima beans were added and simmered until tender. This mixture was then seasoned with salt and more Tabasco.

Some sea scallops were drizzled with some olive oil and then seasoned with Cajun seasoning which consisted of the following:

1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper.

Once the scallops were rubbed with the seasoning, they were blackened in a skillet over high heat about 2 minutes per side until browned on each side.

The succotash was served over brown rice and then topped with the blackened scallops.

I think this dish turned out much hotter than Gerry thought it would since he did the cooking. I thought the succotash was a little hot, with a teaspoon of Tabasco added to the skillet with the tomato mixture and then more Tabasco added at the end.

In addition to the heat from the succotash, the taste on the Cajun seasoning was much hotter than flavorful. I think the freshly ground black pepper is what put it over the edge. We are all about flavor with some heat, but not about heat lacking in flavor.

Our ratings:
Gerry 2 1/2 Stars
Mona 2 Stars

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Mojito Style

Mojito Game Hen with Fingerling Potatoes and Peas was the menu for tonight prepared by Gerry. He started by combining some white rum and turbinado sugar in a small saucepan and cooking until syrupy. Some fresh lime juice was stirred in and then once cooled some chopped fresh mint was added. Sounds just like a Mojito, except thicker.

The next step was to make a mixture of brown sugar, ground cumin, garlic powder, oregano, and salt which was rubbed on both sides of a split Cornish Game Hen. The hen halves were seared skin side down and topped with an aluminum foil wrapped brick to weigh them down. After only 3 minutes of cooking with the bricks this created a beautiful brown crust on the skin (yum). The hens were flipped and the pan was transferred to the oven to finish cooking.

Meanwhile the side dish of Fingerling potatoes and peas was cooked by boiling fingerling potatoes for 10 minutes and then adding some frozen peas for another minute. This mixture was drained and tossed with olive oil and salt and pepper.

After the hens had a 5 minute resting time, they were plated and drizzled with the glaze and served with the potatoes and peas. This was a four star dinner!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Salade Nicoise with Seared Tuna

I know you have all heard the saying "great minds think alike" and it amazes me when things happen that remind me of this. Today Gerry got an email from a very good friend with a recommendation for a Vegetarian Salade Nicoise and ironically my menu for today was a Salade Nicoise with Seared Tuna. Our friend could not have known the menu for today, so I find it amazing that we were both thinking on the same lines. I wonder if the fact that we are both Libras has anything to do with it.

Gerry actually did the cooking tonight since I was at work a little later than usual. He started with some small red potatoes cut into slices which were boiled along with some eggs. Some haricots verts were tossed in to the same pot for a couple of minutes before everything was drained and given an ice water bath to stop the cooking. The eggs were then peeled and cut into wedges.

The vinaigrette was prepared next by combining stone-ground mustard, olive oil, white wine vinegar, honey and salt. One half pound of fresh tuna, cut into cubes were tossed in half of the marinade for 15 minutes.

The salad was assembled by tossing salad greens with herbs, the cooked potatoes, haricots verts, tomatoes and nicoise olives with the remaining vinaigrette. This mixture was topped with the tuna cubes that were skewered and seared on each side for about 1 minute. This turned the tuna golden brown on the outside but still rare in the center. The egg wedges were the final garnish. Absolutely delicious!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Salt & Pepper Tofu

For today's Meatless Monday dinner, we had Salt and Pepper Tofu with Spinach Fettucine and Tomato-Oregano Salsa. This dish had a lot of Mediterranean flavors to it. It was spinach fettucine tossed with a tomato salsa made from chopped tomatoes, fresh oregano, olive oil, lemon juice, crushed red pepper flakes and salt. The tofu was drained and dried, sliced into sticks, sprinkled with salt and pepper and browned in a non-stick skillet in a little bit of olive oil. The dish was assembled by tossing the fettucine with the salsa, topping it with the browned tofu sticks, garnished with kalamata olives and feta cheese. All of this was perfect with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice on the plate. Very light and easy for a Meatless Monday.

Since dinner was rather light and healthy, I rounded out the meal with Ina Garten's Fruit Salad with Limoncello Sauce. This is one of my favorite summer desserts starting with strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries sprinkled with a couple of tablespoons of sugar and a few tablespoons of limoncello and allowed to macerate. While the fruits were macerating, I made the sauce from Greek yogurt, lemon curd, some honey and a little bit of vanilla. It is the perfect summer dessert!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

I Love Indian

I am so excited to have mastered Naan Bread. I feel like I have unlocked the secret to this bread by using a different recipe which includes yeast and so the bread reacts the way I would expect it to. The dough was made, allowed to rest for an hour, punched down, divided and rolled into balls, and allowed to rest again before baking. The golf ball sized balls were rolled out and grilled for few minutes on each side and then brushed with melted butter. This bread came out perfect, just as I imagined it would.

The entree tonight was Chicken South Indian Style which was cubed chicken pieces that were cooked in a sauce. The sauce was started with chopped onion, grated ginger, chopped garlic, dried curry leaves, brown mustard seeds, asafoetida, red chile powder, and turmeric. Then I added some chopped tomatoes, coconut milk and a little water. This was cooked until the chicken was done and then served over rice. The chicken was good, but lacking in some way (can't quite put my finger on it). I did have a tough time finding a couple of the spices included in this recipe and so I ordered dried curry leaves and asafoetida from an online site. The dried curry leaves smelled wonderful and the asafoetida powder smelled a little rank. The television shows always said the smell was awful, but it imparted a unique flavor. I think asafoetida smells a little like dirty socks. It remains to be seen if that was part of why I didn't love tonight's dinner or if it was just lacking in some other way.

I will continue again and again to make the Naan Bread, but not so much on the chicken.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Shrimpy Spending

I love to watch cooking shows and then re-create the menu in my own kitchen. Tonight was a recent episode of Melissa d'Arabian's Ten Dollar Dinners. It was her Shrimpy Spending episode which featured Shrimp with Cilantro Pesto, Quinoa and Lentil Salad, and Tomato and Eggplant Tian.

I started with the salad by cooking and quinoa and lentils separately and allowing them to cool. Meanwhile, I made the dressing which was Dijon mustard, red wine vinegar, vegetable oil, garlic powder, lime zest and salt and pepper. Once the quinoa and lentils were cooled, I tossed them with some slice scallions, chopped cilantro and the dressing.

I then moved on to the Tian. I sauteed eggplant slices in a skillet on both sides and removed to a plate. Next were the onion slices browned in the same skillet on both sides. The eggplant and onion slices were layered in a casserole dish with sliced fresh tomatoes, covered with foil and baked for 20 minutes, until the vegetables were tender, but the tomatoes still held their shape.

The shrimp came next with the Pesto being the first step. The pesto was made with lime zest and juice, fresh cilantro leaves, scallions, toasted pecans, garlic, sugar, vegetable oil, olive oil and salt and pepper. The shrimp were tossed with a spoonful of the pesto and sauteed until just done. A little more of the pesto over the shrimp when served put this dish on the spectacular level.

We enjoyed the Quinoa and Lentil Salad, and the Tomato and Eggplant Tian, but we loved the Shrimp with Cilantro Pesto. Can't wait to have it again!

Friday, August 13, 2010


We enjoyed Gnocchi with Mushrooms tonight. I bought some vacuum-packed gnocchi which I cooked in boiling water for just a couple of minutes. I then tossed the cooked and drained gnocchi in some melted butter in a skillet until golden. The browned gnocchi were removed from the skillet and then a mixture of cremini mushrooms, minced shallots, and dried porcini were added to the same skillet and browned. I added some garlic, flour and fresh thyme, stirring until fragrant. Some chicken broth, heavy cream, and wine were stirred in to the mushroom mixture and simmered until thickened. The browned gnocchi were stirred back in to the sauce along with some green peas. The entire mixture was seasoned with salt and pepper and simply garnished with chopped parsley. The gnocchi were served with a green side salad containing baby romaine and baby spinach, dressed with The Best Salad Dressing in the World. Overall, a very satisfying meal!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Lovely Lentils

Tonight's dinner was a "Simple Lentil Dal with Cumin and Dried Red Chiles which was superb! A dal is a simple dish that is prepared almost daily in Indian homes. This particular dal was made with masoor dal, which are lovely pink lentils. I found these dal at an Indian market here in Plano.

I started with a cup of the lovely lentils covered with 4 cups of water, 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric, and salt. These were brought to a boil, skimmed and then covered and simmered for 15 minutes. In addition to their lovely color, these lentils cook in only 15 minutes. After the 15 minutes, I removed 1/2 cup of cooked lentils, and mashed them in a bowl before adding them back in the pot to thicken the rest of the soup.

I then made a tempering oil by combining 2 1/2 tablespoons of canola oil with 1 1/4 teaspoons cumin seeds, stirring over medium heat for a couple of minutes. I tossed in a couple of dried whole red chile peppers and stirred for another 30 seconds. I removed the pan from the heat, added 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper and then added a couple of drops of water to stop the cooking.

I added half of this tempering oil into the pot of cooked lentils and stirred briefly with a whisk to break up more of the lentils to make a thick dal. I ladled some of the dal into bowls and drizzled some of the remaining tempering oil over the top.

This was absolutely delicious. My recipe books says once you have mastered this recipe, there are 3 more that are based on the same lentil mixture, but tempered at the end and/or at the beginning with different spices, which gives each one a completely different flavor. I can't wait to experiment with the other variations.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Some nights you just to have use up some leftovers...tonight I just heated up leftover chickpea cakes and served it again with the cucumber/yogurt sauce. I once again relied on the green salad with a light vinaigrette. A total repeat of Monday night's dinner. I'll be back in the kitchen tomorrow night to cook up something new.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Salad Days of Summer

Sometimes I just crave a really fresh salad in the summer. Tonight I made a Greek Chopped Salad. I started with cucumber and cherry tomatoes that were salted and left to drain for a while in a colander. I then made the dressing by combining olive oil, red wine vinegar, and garlic. I tossed the drained cucumbers and tomatoes in the dressing along with chickpeas, olives, parsley and shallots and let sit for 5 minutes. Finally, I tossed in some chopped romaine and feta cheese. A wonderful, healthy salad for dinner.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Chickpea Cakes

In keeping with the Meatless Monday program, tonight was Chickpea Cakes (Falafal) and served with a Cucumber-Yogurt Sauce (Tzatziki). I started the process by processing a slice of white bread in the food processor until crumbed and then baking until golden, and cooled. Meanwhile, I sprinkled some shredded cucumber with salt in a colander to draw out some of the liquid and let it sit for 15 minutes. The drained cucumber was added to some yogurt, sliced scallions and chopped cilantro with salt and pepper.

Canned chickpeas which were rinsed and drained, were pureed in a food processor to a coarse pulp. The pureed chickpeas were added to a beaten egg, whisked with olive oil, garam masala, cayenne and salt. The browned breadcrumbs from earlier were added, along with some yogurt, scallions, cilantro and shallot. This mixture was formed into cakes (hamburger patty like) and then browned in olive oil. Once cooked these chickpea cakes were served with the cucumber-yogurt sauce on top. Perfectly delicious.

I served these cakes with a side salad of baby romaine with a red wine vinaigrette.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Perfect Pork Tenderloin

Tonight for dinner, we ventured into pork territory. I took a pork tenderloin, dried it off with paper towels, rubbed it with olive oil and rubbed it with a salt rub. The salt rub was a combination of brown sugar, ground coriander, salt and pepper. This was accompanied by a Radicchio and Gorgonzola Salad, which consisted of a head of Radicchio, quartered lengthwise, rubbed with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper and grilled for about 5 minutes while the pork was finishing grilling. The grilled radicchio was then sliced, tossed with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and gorgonzola cheese. We also had grilled corn on the cob.

My husband was the charcoal grilling master tonight, timing everything to come out at the same time; grilling the corn on the cob still in their husks, which takes about 20 minutes, grilling the pork over the coals for 10 to 12 minutes and then moving it to the side of the grill without the coals to finish cooking, and grilling the radicchio the last 5 minutes of everything cooking. I must say he has mastered the art of charcoal grilling.

The pork was drizzled with an herb-oil mixture which was olive oil, chopped parsley, garlic, rosemary and salt and pepper on the dinner plate with the grilled radicchio salad, and the grilled corn on the cob. Everything came out beautifully!

We finished off dinner with Bananas Flambe over Ice Cream. This is an Anne Burrell recipe and we just love it. I melted butter and then added brown sugar. Once combined, I allowed this to simmer until thick and bubbly, and then added sliced bananas. I pulled the pan off the burner, added some rum, put it back on a high burner and then tilted the pan to ignite the rum. It very quickly set on fire and I let the alcohol cook off before spooning the warm sauce over vanilla ice cream. An absolute favorite summer dessert.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Lazy Man's Lobster

We splurged tonight and had Lazy Man's Lobster with a green salad. I love living in an area where I can go to my everyday grocery store and ask for 2 lobsters at the fish counter. I had them steamed while I did the rest of my shopping.

I brought the steamed lobsters home and took all the meat out of the shells, which got me perfectly cooked lobster meat without dealing with getting the live lobsters home and then steaming them and having the fishy smell linger in the house. I started the sauce by sauteeing a minced shallot, some minced fresh thyme and a pinch of cayenne. Once the onions were tender I stirred in some flour until it was golden. I added sherry and stirred until it was almost evaporated and then added some chicken broth and a little heavy cream. I allowed this to cook down and thicken and then added the cooked lobster meat and some fresh minced tarragon along with salt and pepper.

This mixture was divided evenly between two gratin dishes and then topped with a mixture containing fresh bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, minced fresh tarragon, vegetable oil, and paprika. The gratins were popped in a hot oven for 15 minutes, until the topping was golden brown. I served the lobster gratins with a salad of baby romaine lettuce, dressed with a vinaigrette made from tarragon vinegar, Dijon mustard, garlic, olive oil and salt and pepper. Gerry absolutely loved this dinner; I missed the butter (in my mind, nothing goes with lobster like drawn butter)!

Cafe Malaga Tapas

We decided to try tapas at Cafe Malaga in McKinney last night and it was fabulous! Tapas are simply small snacks and we sampled quite a few. We chose a Spanish red wine to accompany our snacks. We started with the "Taste of Mediterranean" which included hummus, baba ghanoush, and artichoke tapendade with pita breads. The hummus was fresh and delicious and the baba ghanoush was smooth and full of flavor from the grilled eggplant. I was not the biggest fan of the artichoke tapenade, but it did sound intriguing. We moved on to the goat cheese stuffed piquillo peppers which were excellent, the tart creaminess of the goat cheese in the beautiful red, roasted piquillo peppers was superb. We gobbled up the Lamb Lollipop Chops which I think was the absolute hit of the night. Little grilled lamb chops covered in a brown sugar and mustard glaze; Yum!!! We had the Shrimp Bravas, which were sauteed shrimp in a hot chili sauce with wilted spinach, which were cooked perfectly with a nice little spice and the spinach was just wilted with the warm chili sauce. We decided to order a few more snacks after the dishes we had just eaten, so we moved on to Potatoes Bravas (fried potatoes tossed in a hot chili sauce), Chorizo (spanish style with paprika and garlic with pan-fried bread) and Pork Tenderloin (with ras al hanout and warm date chutney). The food was all delicious and the atmosphere was perfect. They have a huge patio area behind the restaurant all shaded by big trees with a covered patio area. They have lots of fans throughout the patio area to help keep things cool. They had live music which was fun and not too loud. They also had a local artist set up on a corner of the patio who was actually painting the beautiful outdoor scene. It was the perfect night out and we can't wait to bring family and friends to this great spot.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Chicken Milanese Encore

Tonight was just the leftovers from last night's dinner. We keep our 4 year old grand-daughter overnight once a week which happened to be tonight, so instead of eating the leftovers at lunch time we decided to save them for dinner. Our grand-daughter always expects her favorite when she comes to Grandma's house, Amy's frozen Mac and Cheese, and she is rarely disappointed. I can't wait for the days when she starts to expand her food horizons. The Chicken Milanese was just as good tonight as it was last night. I am looking forward to being back in the kitchen tomorrow night.

Restaurant Style

Last night we had Chicken Milanese with Escarole Salad and Pickled Red Onion and Panna Cotta with Roasted Figs and Balsamic, all of which was superb. This menu came from Anne Burrell's show Secrets of a Restaurant Chef. I enjoy watching her show and have made several of her dishes; most of them excellent, some of them okay. I started with the Panna Cotta which is like a creme brulee, except it uses gelatin instead of eggs. It is simply heavy cream, gelatin, sugar and a vanilla bean which is heated up and then poured into serving bowls (couldn't be easier). These needed to chill for 2 to 3 hours and came out perfectly. I then moved on to making components for dinner by making the Pickled Onions. I combined red wine vinegar, water, kosher salt, sugar and Tabasco sauce to which I added a red onion, thinly sliced. I let this sit on the counter for a couple of hours and yum, pickled onions. The chicken was next; I butterflied the chicken breasts and pounded them thin. They then got the standard breading procedure of being dredged in flour, dipped in beaten eggs, and then in panko breadcrumbs combined with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. These breaded chicken breasts sat in the refrigerator for a couple of hours before being pan fried in olive oil. These came out perfectly browned and crunchy on the outside with the inside beautifully moist. The chicken was plated with an escarole salad which had escarole mixed with a combination of toasted hazelnuts, pecorino cheese and chopped parsley which was run through a food processor to chop it all up. The salad was dressed with a little of the pickling liquid and tossed with olive oil. It was a really nice combination. I think Anne Burrell has a gift for wonderful combinations of textures and flavors.

The panna cotta was topped with roasted figs with balsamic. Fresh figs were cut in half and tossed with balsamic vinegar and sugar and allowed to macerate for 15 minutes. The mixture then went on a roasting pan in a 350 oven for minutes until the figs were soft and caramelized. This was a fabulous dessert and one that I will definitely make again.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

OMG Salmon!

Gerry and I love salmon and we try new recipes periodically but we always migrate back to our favorite, Brown Sugar and Mustard Glaze. Well, I think we have found a new favorite: East Meets West Grilled Salmon with Mango Masala. This recipe is from Bal Arneson's Spice Goddess show and the salmon was spicy and warm without being over the top and delicious with the fruit topping. I started by preparing the rub for the salmon by grinding together garam masala, brown mustard seeds and a little curry powder. I then drizzled the salmon with grapeseed oil, sprinkled with salt and sprinkled on the rub, patting it on very well. While Gerry was grilling the salmon over charcoal, of course, (his new favorite way to grill), I made the Mango Masala, which starts with chopped fresh mango, and then added mango juice, minced fresh cilantro, minced red onion, fresh lime juice, garam masala and a pinch of salt. What a beautiful combination. The spices from the rub on the salmon with the cool tang of the mango masala was fantastic. I served this with Cumin Scented Rice Pilaf; simply rice cooked with a few cumin seeds added. It will be a toss-up now which salmon recipe will be our go to recipe. I highly recommend this recipe.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Meatless Mondays

In the year 2003, Johns Hopkins started a program as part of their healthy lifestyles program, called Meatless Mondays. I have not been a faithful follower of this program, but I think this is a good time to re-institute it. Last Monday, we did have a pasta with cheese dish, so that qualified. Tonight we had Grilled Vegetables and Tofu, and Indian Potato Salad. This menu was inspired by Bal Arneson's show on the Cooking Channel called Spice Goddess. I started with the potato salad which is a completely different process that we are accustomed to. You saute red onion and crushed garlic in grapeseed oil, then add the spice mixture of cumin seeds, mustard seeds, turmeric, cardamom seeds and salt and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Add a pound of baby red potatoes that have been quartered, some sour cream, chopped tomatoes and water. Bring to a boil, and then simmer until potatoes are done. While the potatoes were simmering, I started working on the coating for the vegetables and tofu. I started with crushed garlic, ground cumin, ground coriander, grapeseed oil, balsamic vinegar, honey and salt and black pepper. Into this mixture, I added two cut up red peppers, asaparagus, portobello mushrooms, and 1 lb. thickly sliced tofu. The vegetables and tofu were cooked on the gas grill until done with beautiful grill marks. Even though the Spice Goddess did not pair the potato salad with the grilled vegetables and tofu, I decided to make both and it worked pretty well. I felt that I needed a starch to go with the protein from the tofu and the nutrients from the vegatables; hence the potato salad. I'm looking forward to more meatless Monday meals.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Indonesian Grilled Swordfish - Take 2

So a couple of weeks ago, my husband made this for dinner on a Friday night and it was very good. When he made it, rather than marinating the swordfish for at least 4 hours or overnight, he gave it about 30 minutes. I decided to try it again and marinate it overnight. This is a Barefoot Contessa recipe and is well worth looking it up on the Food Network site. Marinating the fish overnight made it extremely tender, it just melted in your mouth, and absorbed all the flavors of the marinade. I checked on the Food Network site to see what side dishes Ina might have served with this entree. It was on her Get Grilling show and I made the Carrot Salad to go with the fish. We started our dinner with the Green Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing. Ina's blue cheese dressing is absolutely perfect. It was creamy and smooth and made with smelly Roquefort Blue cheese. I guess you have to like smelly blue cheese to appreciate this dressing. The carrot salad was also very good with lots of shredded carrots, sprinkled with lemon juice, and then dressed with a combination of sour cream, mayonnaise, sugar and salt. The carrots and dressing were tossed with soaked golden raisins and diced pineapple. The sweet carrot salad went beautifully with the seasoned, marinated swordfish. Another wonderful dinner.