Friday, June 29, 2012

Lobster Tandoori

Today my husband and I celebrated our 38th year of marriage.  It's funny on how 38 years seems like an eternity and yet it seems like just yesterday we shared our vows.  It's hard to remember an event in my life without Gerry being a part of it.  Since this anniversary follows on the heels of Elizabeth's wedding, we decided to cook a special dinner together rather than go out.  This year however, we stretched the definition of cooking together.  I made lobster tandoori while Gerry smoked a couple of different kinds of fish on his new smoker.  We did share an appetizer of crab dip on crackers and two separate desserts we chose at Central Market.  Gerry no longer eats lobster due to health reasons and I decided to make it at home since it was on sale at Central Market and I have been craving it.  He on the other hand was dying to try his new smoker that he got for Father's Day.  It turned out to be the best of both worlds.

Here is a sampling of the two different fishes he smoked:  Copper River Salmon and Ruby Red Trout.  Looks yummy, doesn't it?

Here is my Lobster Tandoori which was fabulously flavored; sweet lobster meat in a spicy yogurt based tandoori sauce and topped with cheese before being browned under the broiler. 

Here are the two different desserts we chose:  Chocolate Mousse Cake for him and Chocolate Mousse Cup for me.

Lobster Tandoori
Makes 2 Servings

1 live lobster
3 tablespoons grapeseed oil
1 clove garlic, chopped
One 1-inch piece of ginger, chopped
1/2 small onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon red chili powder
1 pinch of salt
1 pinch of pepper
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1/2 teaspoon honey
Juice of 1/2 lime
1/4 cup grated white Cheddar
Slices of lemon, for serving

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Cut the rubber bands off of the lobster claws and then plunge the live lobster into the pot.  Cover tightly with a lid and cook for 6 to 8 minutes.  Remove from the water.  When they are cool enough to handle, pull off the claws and cut each lobster in half lengthwise, taking care to keep the shell halves intact (you will need these shells to complete the recipe).  Remove the tail meat and clean the lobster shells by removing the green tomalley and rinsing well under cold water.  Place them on a baking sheet.  Crack the claws open and remove the claw and knuckle meat.  Discard the claw shells. 

Heat the oil in a small skillet and add the garlic, ginger and onions, and fry until they begin to turn golden, about 3 minutes.  Add the cardamom, cumin, garam masala, smoked paprika, red chili powder, salt and pepper, and cook for 1 minute, mashing it into a paste.

Put the yogurt, honey, lime juice and spice paste into a large bowl and whisk until well combined.  Chop the lobster meat and stir into the marinade.

Place an oven rack at the top of the oven and preheat to broil.

Spoon the marinated lobster meat into the reserved lobster shells.  Sprinkle each lobster half with 2 tablespoons grated cheese, and then place in the oven and broil until they are golden and bubbling, about 5 minutes.  Serve immediately with slices of lemon for squeezing.

From Cooking Channel's Spice Goddess

My rating:

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Portobello Mushroom & Leek Quesadillas

One of my dear friends that was in town for the wedding, happened to leave some dairy free "cheese" in our refrigerator and so I went on a search to find recipes using this special product.  I have tried some vegan "cheese" products before without much success but this one is superb.  It not only comes the closest to tasting like cheese but it also melts like the real thing.  My husband's comment during dinner was we should always use this "cheese".  I am now looking forward to testing more recipes using these "cheeses".

This was a really quick and easy dinner.

Portobello Mushroom  Leek Quesadillas
Makes 2 Servings

1 Portobello mushroom chopped
2 leeks, white parts only, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup Daiya cheddar cheese (I used Jack style)
2 large or 4 small whole wheat tortillas
Pesto (optional)

In a frying pan, heat the olive oil and cook the leeks, mushrooms, and garlic until everything softens.

Spread 1/4 cup of Daiya (half that amount if using the small tortillas)  on half of one tortilla, spread half of the mushroom mixture on top, and fold the tortilla in half.  Repeat with the other tortilla or tortillas and the rest of the cheese and mushrooms.

Heat the grill to high and place the quesadillas on the rack.  Grill for three minutes on one side, then flip and grill for four more minutes.  Slice into triangles and enjoy!


My rating:

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Salad with Fresh Peaches, Drunken Craisins, Gorgonzola and Roasted Sweet Pistachios

There is nothing as refreshing as a salad for lunch on a hot summer day (and we have plenty of hot summer days in Texas).  I chose this particular salad because it had all the things that my husband loves in a salad, crispy greens, a little fresh and dried fruit, red onion, blue cheese and nuts.  This salad is a positive winner with a nice light vinaigrette to dress it up.

Salad with Fresh Peaches, Drunken Craisins, Gorgonzola, Sweet Roasted Pistachios with Fig and White Balsamic Vinaigrette

For the Salad:
6 cups salad greens, whatever looks freshest at the market
Fig and White Balsamic Vinaigrette, recipe follows
2 medium ripe peaches
1/2 cup Drunken Cranberries, recipe follows
1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion
1/3 cup crumbled gorgonzola or blue cheese
Roasted Sweet Pistachios, recipe follows

For the Vinaigrette:
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small shallot, minced
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons fig preserves
1/2 teaspoon Sriracha chili sauce
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the cranberries:
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 tablespoon white wine, red wine, Limoncello, or rum

For the Pistachios:
1 cup shelled pistachio nuts
1 teaspoon butter
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon agave syrup or honey
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

To make the Roasted Sweet Pistachios:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Place all ingredients in a cake pan or similar size pan.  Roast for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown, stirring every 5 minutes.  Turn out onto foil that has been sprayed with cooking spray to prevent sticking.  Cool, nuts will become crunchy as they cool.

To Make Drunken Cranberries:
Place dried cranberries in a measuring cup.  Add a tablespoon of white or red wine, Limoncello or rum.  Cover with plastic wrap and microwave for 30 seconds.  Let sit for a few minutes to cool.  These will keep for several weeks in the refrigerator, just warm in microwave for 20 seconds before using the next time.

To make the Vinaigrette:
Mix all ingredients in a glass jar.  Shake well.

To assemble the salad:
Arrange salad greens, fresh peaches, cranberries and onions on plates.  Drizzle with vinaigrette.  Sprinkle salads with crumbled blue cheese and pistachios.  Pass extra dressing at the table.

Slightly adapted from The Cafe Sucre Farine

My rating:

Grilled Shrimp with Mango-Lime Vinaigrette

If you are a follower of my blog, you know that we do birthdays in a special way.  The birthday person gets to rule the whole day of celebration...they get to choose all the food and the activities for the day.  Now that my husband and I find ourselves empty nesters, we usually cater to the other on both the actual birthday as well as the family gathering day.  Yesterday was Gerry's birthday and so I made meals centered around his particular favorites.

Breakfast was fruit and my homemade round loaf of Jewish Rye Bread which is his absolute favorite bread.

Lunch was a Salad with Fresh Peaches, Drunken Craisins, Gorgonzola, Sweet Roasted Pistachios with Fig and White Balsamic Vinaigrette.

Gerry picked all the components of dinner from our Weber's Real Grilling cookbook and chose to help prepare dinner as well as handle all the grilling.  He is the grill master.

The menu:
Grilled Shrimp with Mango-Lime Vinaigrette
Artichokes with Oregano and Salt
Rack of Lamb with Javanese Peanut Sauce
Grill-Roasted New Potatoes
Acorn Squash with Asiago and Sage
Spiced Banana Chocolate Sundaes (we skipped dessert since we were so full and we may try that tonight)

The food was plentiful and flavorful with the smoky char taste from the grill. 

Grilled Shrimp with Mango-Lime Vinaigrette
Makes 4-6 servings

1/4 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
32 large shrimp (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled and deveined

1/2 cup roughly chopped ripe mango, about 1/2 mango
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
1 whole scallion, root end trimmed
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 half-inch section fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

To make the marinade:  In a large bowl, mix the marinade ingredients.  Add the shrimp and toss to coat thoroughly.  Cover and refrigerate for up to 1 hour.

To make the vinaigrette:  In a blender or food processor, combine the vinaigrette ingredients.  Process for about 1 minute or until the texture is smooth and emulsified.

Remove the shrimp from the bowl and discard the marinade.  Grill over direct high heat until the shrimp are firm to the touch and just turning opaque in the center, 2 to 4 minutes, turning once.  Serve the shrimp warm with the vinaigrette.

From Weber's Real Grilling Cookbook

My rating:

Monday, June 25, 2012

Grilled Ratatouille

I have always loved ratatouille and this recipe which has you grill all the vegetables sounded just perfect for this time of year.  Traditionally the vegetables are simmered on the stove top, but I loved the char and slightly smoky flavor from grilling all the vegetables.  It was also a great way to keep the heat outside rather than turning on the cook top.  This ratatouille had the usual eggplant, bell pepper, onion, tomato, zucchini and yellow squash all covered with a dressing made with the grilled tomato.  This was a wonderful update to a classic recipe. 

I served this over Creamy Goat Cheese Orzo which was the perfect creamy, tangy background for the ratatouille.

Grilled Ratatouille
2 Servings

1 Japanese eggplant, halved lengthwise
1 red bell pepper, quartered and seeded
1 red onion, cut into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
1 small tomato, halved and seeded
1/2 zucchini, cut lengthwise
1/2 yellow squash, cut lengthwise
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon minced lemon zest

Preheat grill to medium.  Brush grill grate with oil.

Toss eggplant, bell pepper, onion, tomato, zucchini, and yellow squash with 2 tablespoons oil, then season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Grill vegetables, covered, until tender and marks appear, 3 minutes per side.  Chop all vegetables, except tomato, then transfer them to a bowl.

Puree tomato, 1 tablespoon oil, thyme, lemon juice, and zest in a food processor until smooth, then toss with the vegetables in the bowl.

From Cuisine at Home, Issue 94, July/ August 2012

My rating:

Sunday, June 24, 2012

BLT Pasta Salad

I love a Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato Sandwich on perfectly toasted white bread, slathered with mayonnaise and layered with crunchy lettuce, crisply cooked bacon and beautifully ripe tomatoes (who doesn't?), so when I came across this salad, I knew I had to make it.  It combined all the components of the sandwich but substituted pasta for the bread and turned out to be everything I love.  This is definitely an updated macaroni salad which will appear frequently on my summer menu.

I served the salad with a grilled pork chop drizzled with a garlic lime sauce which was also wonderfully delicious.

BLT Pasta Salad with Creamy Bacon Dressing
Makes 10 servings (about 7 1/2 cups)

1/2 pound dry pasta (I used penne rigate)
1/2 pound thick-sliced bacon, diced
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon minced shallots
1 tablespoon minced fresh basil
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 cups chopped romaine lettuce
2 cups halved grape tomatoes

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling, salted water according to package directions.  Transfer pasta to a bowl of ice water; drain well.

Cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp.  Transfer bacon to a paper-towel-lined plate.  Reserve 1 1/2 tablespoons drippings; set aside to cool.  (To keep the dressing from curdling, be sure to cool the bacon drippings to room temperature before adding to the mayonnaise.)

Whisk together mayonnaise, reserved drippings, shallots, basil, vinegar, and sugar in a large bowl; season with salt and pepper.

Stir in pasta, romaine, tomatoes and bacon; toss to coat.  Season salad with salt and pepper.

Adapted from Cuisine at Home Issue No. 94, July/August 2012

Note:  Even though this recipe sounds decadent it comes in at 243 calories for a 3/4 cup serving.

My rating:

Friday, June 22, 2012

Raspberry Chicken with Grilled Peaches

I loved the simplicity of tonight's dinner.  It was summer on a plate...simply grilled chicken breasts topped with a salad dressed with a raspberry vinaigrette and fresh raspberries with candied slivered almonds.  There was a grilled peach half as a side as well as a toasted slice of a baguette with brie cheese melted over the top.  We loved every component of this dinner and I know we will be making it again.

Raspberry Chicken with Grilled Peaches
4 Servings (4 chicken breasts, 8 cups salad)

1/2 cup slivered almonds
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Salt to taste
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 1/4 cups fresh raspberries, divided
2 tablespoons honey, divided
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
1 tablespoon minced shallots
1/4 cup olive oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (6 oz. each)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 peaches, halved, pitted
8 cups baby herb salad mix (4 ounces)

Preheat grill to medium high.

Toast almonds in a nonstick skillet over medium heat until golden.  Add sugar, butter, and salt; stir until sugar dissolves and coats the almonds.  Transfer to a plate to cool.

Whisk together vinegar, 1/4 cup raspberries, 1 tablespoon honey, tarragon, and shallots in a bowl.  Drizzle in 1/4 cup oil, whisking constantly.  Set aside 1/2 cup vinaigrette for chicken marinade; reserve remaining vinaigrette for tossing with salad.

Pound chicken breasts in a large resealable plastic bag to 1/2-inch thick; marinate chicken in 1/2 cup reserved marinade for 15 minutes.

Combine 1 tablespoon honey and 1 tablespoon oil; brush onto peaches.  Season chicken with salt and pepper; grill, covered, until cooked through, 4 minutes per side.  Grill peaches until lightly marked about 3 minutes per side.  Toss salad greens with remaining vinaigrette; serve with chicken and peaches, glazed almonds and remaining raspberries.

Grilled Brie Croutons
4 slices French bread, 1-inch thick
Olive Oil
Salt to taste
4 slices Brie (4 ounces)

Preheat grill to medium-high.

Brush both sides of bread with oil and season with salt.  Grill bread, uncovered, until toasted, 1-2 minutes.  Flip bread over and divide cheese among slices.  Continue grilling, uncovered, until cheese melts, 2-3 minutes.

Adapted from Cuisine at Home Grilling

My rating:

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Hot and Sour Tofu Stir-Fry

It was wonderful being back in my groove in the kitchen for this week's vegan Thursday.  I planned this stir-fry for dinner which had all the usual suspects in a tofu stir fry with garlic, fresh ginger, soy sauce and lemon juice in the marinade.  The unusual ingredient was a teaspoon of coriander seeds that were stir-fried in the hot oil for just seconds before the rest of the ingredients were added.  My husband couldn't quite figure out what the unique taste was.  The coriander seeds gave a slight floral taste to the rest of the stir-fry which was superb.  I'll definitely be making this again as well as adding a few coriander seeds to future stir-fries.

My menu for this Vegan Thursday:

Breakfast - Silk Milk with Fruit and Protein, Vegan Applesauce Muffin
Lunch - Southwestern Salad (I'll be posting this recipe in the near future)
Dinner - Hot & Sour Tofu Stir-Fry over Brown Rice

Hot and Sour Tofu Stir-Fry (4 Servings)

1-2 tablespoons canola oil
1 block firm tofu
1 medium red pepper
1 large carrot
4-5 cabbage leaves
1 teaspoon coriander seeds

Marinade Ingredients:
4 cloves garlic
1-inch piece fresh ginger, finely chopped
2 tomatoes, finely chopped or 2 teaspoons tomato puree
3 teaspoons soy sauce
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 teaspoon red chili powder

Crush garlic with a broad knife and mix with remaining marinade ingredients.  Cut tofu into 1/2-inch pieces and put into a bowl with the marinade.  Refrigerate for five minutes to an hour.

Cut the carrots, peppers and cabbage into thin strips or matchsticks and put to one side.  Lift the tofu pieces out of the marinade (don't throw it away) and put them on a plate.

Add 1 tablespoon of the oil in a heavy frying pan or wok and heat until the oil begins to shimmer.  Add the coriander seeds and then the tofu pieces a few seconds later, then turn the heat down a little.  Stir the tofu pieces around gently and cook for about 2 minutes each side until they are starting to brown.  Lift the pieces out of the pan and return them to the plate.

Turn the heat back up to high and throw the vegetables into the pan.  Stir fry for 5 minutes then add the marinade and the tofu pieces.  Stir gently, cover the pan and turn down the heat.  Simmer for 5 more minutes and serve with brown rice or rice noodles.

Adapted from Meatless Monday Campaign, Inc.

Our rating:

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Steak & Potato Skewers with Grilled Caprese Salad

I know I have not been consistent at all recently with my blog but with my youngest daughter's wedding behind us I'm sure I'll be back stronger than ever.  The past week or so has been a whirlwind of activities.  We had different family members fly in for a week and so I loved the challenge of preparing some of my favorite meals for everyone.  I also did the cooking for bridal luncheon and I made a brunch for about 40 people for Father's Day.

The wedding was a lovely affair on Saturday night and everything went perfectly according to plan.  I have three girls and this was the last one to get married.  Now we can sit back and wait for more grandchildren to spoil.

It was kind of nice to get back into a routine of planning and cooking for two people tonight.  With a total of eight ingredients tonight (excluding salt and pepper) this was a very simple dinner to pull together but you would never guess that by the taste.  I used beef tenderloin for the steak and red potatoes for the potato skewers which were both drizzled with olive oil and seasoned generously with salt and pepper.

The grilled salad was a fun play on a traditional caprese salad using tomato slices, fresh mozzarella slices but the tomatoes were grilled and the cheese was added to melt slightly before being stacked.  I served these on a pool of summer basil sauce which happened to go beautifully with the steak and potatoes.  We absolutely loved every bit of this dinner. 

Steak and Potato Skewers with Grilled Caprese Salad
Makes 2 servings (2 steak skewers, 2 potato skewers, 2 tomatoes)

For the skewers:
3 yellow or red new potatoes, halved (5-6 oz. total)
1/2 pound beef tenderloin or sirloin, cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and black pepper

For the salad:
1 cup fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
2 1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoon grated Parmesan
Salt and black pepper to taste
2 large tomatoes, sliced horizontally into thirds
3 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into 4 slices

If using wooden skewers, soak for 20 to 30 minutes.

Preheat grill to medium-high.

Boil potatoes in a pot of salted water until tender when pierced, about 10 minutes.  Drain; cool slightly.

While the potatoes are cooling, make the basil sauce.  Process basil, 1 1/2 tablespoon oil, vinegar, Parmesan, salt, and pepper in a food processor until smooth.

Thread beef chunks evenly onto 2 skewers and potato halves on remaining 2 skewers.  Drizzle skewers with oil, then season with salt and pepper.  Set aside.

Slice tomatoes and coat slices with remaining 1 1/2 tablespoon oil, season with salt and pepper.

Grill beef skewers, covered, to desired doneness (about 3 minutes per side for medium-rate).  Grill potatoes, covered, until brown and crisp on the outside, 4-5 minutes.  Remove steak and potatoes from the grill, tent with foil, and rest 5 minutes.  While skewers rest, grill tomatoes, covered, on one side for 1 minute, then flip (do not flip the tops).

Arrange cheese on flipped tomato slices and grill until it begins to melt, 1-2 more minutes.  Assemble stacks with 2 cheese-topped slices and 1 top.  Serve with the basil sauce.

Adapted from Cuisine at Home Grilling

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Mixed Salad with Strawberries, Mango and Edamame

From my second trip of strawberry picking, I decided to try some different recipes after making more jams. I found a strawberry scone recipe (which was wonderful and I will post that recipe soon) and this beautiful salad. I used a 50/50 mixed baby lettuce and spinach as the base and added sliced strawberries, mango, cucumber and edamame. It was dressed with a honey-lime vinaigrette and garnished with sunflower seeds. In addition to being visually pleasing, this salad was delicious. I know that we will be enjoying this salad frequently through the summer. On another note, I did make this salad on a Vegan Thursday and totally did not pay attention to the honey in the dressing. I knew when I started this process of a vegan day every week, there would be some slip-ups and this was one of them.

Mixed Salad with Strawberries, Mango and Edamame (Serves 2)

For the dressing:
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
2 1/2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 small clove garlic, minced
1/8 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

For the salad:
4 cups mixed greens
handful of cilantro sprigs
1/4 medium English (seedless) cucumber, sliced in half lengthwise, then sliced on a long angle
1/2 medium mango, cut in bite-sized pieces
6 medium strawberries, sliced
1/4 cup edamame
1 1/2 tablespoons roasted, salted sunflower seed kernels

Place all salad dressing ingredients in a medium size glass jar and shake well to combine all ingredients. Store in refrigerator. Keeps for several weeks.

For the salad, combine greens and cilantro sprigs on two plates. Arrange strawberries, cucumbers, mango and edamame decoratively, drizzle with dressing and scatter with sunflower seeds.

Adapted from The Cafe Sucre Farine

Our rating: