Saturday, July 19, 2014

Roasted Yellow Tomato Dressing

I just love lazy days don't you? I just returned from a business trip to Charlotte, NC. We just sent our youngest son back to FL (yes, I missed most of his trip up here, because I was away on business), and our house is still in pure chaos because we are still trying to recover from a flooded basement and having to replace our saturated carpet with vinyl, a sick kitty and anything and everything that could happen within a 3 week time frame. Feeling sorry for me yet? NAH...Don't want you to do that, I am just relishing in the fact that I now have a day to myself!! To do with it what I feel like!! What do I feel like doing? Cooking! That's what! Well, I had two containers of beautiful yellow cherry tomatoes that were starting to get a little soft, that I had purchased last weekend, and because Sr and Jr had pretty much eaten out all week while I was in Charlotte, I decided to make a roasted tomato dressing with it. The flavors turned out beautiful. You can use this dressing on salads, mix it in with a pasta salad, dunk bread in it, drizzle it over steak, or whatever you fancy! I hope you enjoy!!

20 - 30 small yellow cherry tomatoes
5 cloves garlic
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
9 leaves of fresh basil
1 stem of fresh oregano
2 tbsp stone ground mustard
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp red wine vinegar

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. On a lipped baking pan place cover the tomatoes and garlic with a good amount of extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast the tomatoes for about 20 minutes or until they start bursting. In a blender, combine the basil, oregano, mustard, lemon juice and vinegar and puree until well blended. Once the tomatoes have roasted add the tomatoes (including all juices) to the blender and continue to blend until well mixed. Add more olive oil if needed to make sure it is dressing consistency. Store in a sealed container.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Open faced Skirt Steak Sammie w/Orange Onion Marinade

 For this yummy meal, last year I made some orange onion jam I found in the fantastic book 250 Home Preserving Favorites by Yvonne Tremblay. I have attached a write up of the recipe, but ultimately, you could acquire the same flavors, just by using orange juice, sage and thyme. My thought process behind this meal was lightness with bold flavor. I did not want a heavy meal. I hope you enjoy
1 lb skirt steak (flank steak)
1 pint jar of orange onion jam with sage and thyme (See recipe down below)
½ red onion, chopped
1 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp tabasco sauce with chipotle
Alternate (You don’t have the orange onion jam)
½ cup orange juice
1 tbsp fresh sage, chopped finely
1 tbsp fresh thyme chopped finely
1 ½ cup apple cider vinegar
3 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp tabasco sauce with chipotle
Vinaigrette dressing for arugula
3 tablespoons olive oil (I prefer extra-virgin)
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
Freshly cracked pepper
1 loaf crust bread, sliced
1 vidalia onion, sliced and carmelized
½ cup Gruyere cheese, shredded
1 small jar of pimientos
For the marinade, mix the jam, onions, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, lemon juice and tabasco sauce into a bowl. Place the skirt steak into a Ziploc bag and pour the marinade over it making sure the entire steak is covered. To make sure the steak is tender, I would at least let it sit overnight (24 hours), prior to grilling. 
Prior to grilling the steak, you will want to carmelize the onions. In a skillet, add about a tbsp extra virgin olive oil. Add the sliced onions and cook low, periodically turning until they begin to wilt and turn a golden brown. This will take about 30 minutes.  Remove the onions from the heat and set aside. In a small bowl, mix the vinaigrette dressing for the arugula; emulsify the dressing. Do not mix with the arugula until the very last minute. You also do not want the arugula to be wilted just slightly flavored with the dressing, so make sure you don’t “drown” the arugula when adding the dressing.
On a medium high grill, grill the skirt steak to a medium rare. Discard the marinade. Bring in the steak and let rest for about 10 minutes for the juices to redistribute. Tent with aluminum foil. Meanwhile, on the grill, grill the sliced bread until just toasted.  Slice the steak across the grain.
To plate, I placed a piece of bread on the plate, top with the arugula, then the steak, followed by the onions, grated cheese and then sprinkled with pimientos. I served with an asparagus, scallion, grape tomato salad with a Dijon mustard vinaigrette.

Orange Onion Jam with Sage and Thyme
5 cups thinly sliced sweet onions
½ cup water
1 large clove garlic, minced
3 cups finely chopped peeled oranges
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh sage
1 tsp finely chopped fresh lemon thyme
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
½ tsp salt
Pinch freshly ground black pepper
1 pkg powdered pectin
3 ¼ cups granulated sugar
¾ cup packed brown sugar
In a Dutch oven combine onions and water. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes or until very soft. Stir in garlic, oranges, sage and thyme. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 8 minutes or until oranges are softened. Stir in vinegar, salt and pepper. Stir in pectin until dissolved. Bring to a full boil over high heat, stirring constantly.  Stir in granulated sugar and brown sugar. Return to a full boil, stirring constantly to dissolve sugar. Boil hard for 1 minute. Remove from heat and skim off any foam.  Stir for 5 – 8 minutes to prevent floating fruit. Ladle into sterilized jars to within ½ inch of rim; wipe rims. Apply prepared lids and rings; tighten rings just until tight. Process jars in a boiling water canner for 15 minutes.

Mussels and Clams in a Tarragon Tomato broth

When it comes to mollusks such as mussels and clams, I never really like eating them on the half shell like most people do, I prefer mine in a broth of sorts or over pasta. Quite a few restaurants will serve this type of dish (sans pasta) as an appetizer with crusty bread, and oh my word is it just yummy.  This is my take those appetizers.

½ lb of fresh mussels, cleaned and prepared
12 clams, cleaned and prepared
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 shallots, minced
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp crushed red peppers
1 tsp salt (or to taste)
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 cup white wine (I used Pinot Grigio)
4 tomatoes, chopped
1 can tomato sauce (I used my freshly jarred tomato sauce)
½ cup pitted kalamata olives, chopped
2 sprigs fresh tarragon, chopped
2 tbsp parsley, chopped (garnish)

In a dutch oven, heat up the extra virgin olive oil. Add the shallots and sauté until translucent, about 5 – 7 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to simmer for about 3 – 4 minutes, until the garlic becomes fragrant. Add the crushed red peppers, salt and pepper, mix until well blended.  Deglaze the pan with the white wine. Add in the tomatoes and the tomato sauce and bring up to a simmer. Stir in the olives and tarragon. Simmer for about 10 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld together. Add in the clams and the mussels and cover the pot. At this point, they will stop the sauce from boiling.  You want to make sure the sauce is simmering. When it comes back up to a simmer which should only take a few moments, cook the clams and mussels for about 4 – 5 minutes and check them. They should start to open. If they have, cook them for a few minutes longer. You don’t want to overcook them or they become tough and chewy. You can serve this with a side of crusty bread to sop up the sauce or over pasta. Any of the mussels or clams that have NOT opened, you will want to throw those away.


Sunday, March 2, 2014

Lemon Pasta with Mushrooms and Artichokes

I wasn't up to cooking much last night (nothing elaborate) and was poking through the fridge to see if there was anything quick and easy I could come up with. I had gone to Sam's Club earlier in the day and bought some beautiful Meyer Lemons, artichokes and cherry tomatoes. We are low in the meat department too. We have successfully used up the majority of meat that had been in our freezer...for a while...and I thought to my self, "Self, what to do? What to do?" Lemon pasta! Quick, easy and so very flavorful. I found a can of olives, preferably, you would use kalamata olives being that this tends to be on the Greek/Mediterranean side in flavor, but since I had been challenging myself on using up pantry items, I used normal black olives. with a game plan in mind, I set about making dinner. Quick and easy to put together, and the flavors are simple and excellent! Hope you enjoy!

8 ounces spaghetti
1 pkg crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 shallot, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp butter, unsalted
1 cup Pinot Grigio
1 cup chicken stock
zest of 2 lemons
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon fresh chopped oregano or parsley
1 8 ounce jar black olives, chopped (preferably use kalamata olives)
12 ounces artichoke hearts in oil, drained
1/2 cup pasta water (reserve from cooking the pasta before draining)
1 cup block feta, crumbled
Salt and pepper to taste

In a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, sauté the shallots until translucent. Add in the butter, mushrooms and garlic and continue sautéing for about 7 – 10 minutes. Add the wine and chicken stock and turn on simmer letting the alcohol cook out. While mushroom mixture is sautéing begin cooking your pasta to al dente. In the mushroom mixture, add the lemon zest, and lemon juice and continue simmering. Drain the pasta, reserving a ½ cup of the pasta water.  In the mushroom mixture, stir on the olives, artichokes, feta cheese and the fresh herbs. Stir until well combined. Add the drained pasta to the mixture along with the reserved pasta water and continue stirring gently 2 - 3 minutes until the sauce thickens. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with a garnish of chopped cherry tomatoes.

And as a side note, one of my to do's this year...take a photography class. My pictures leave little to be desired...but you get the idea ;)!!