Monday, April 20, 2015

Greek Farro Salad

Serves 4 to 6 Due to great demand for this salad, I feel it's time to start adding more recipes, beginning with this one! Farro is a nutty grain, similar to barely. In the summer, it's a fabulous side dish for grilled meats or fish. Great with grilled lamb. Once you've mastered this recipe, you'll find ways to incorporate seasonal vegetables. This one works all year round.
  • 1 cup farro
  • 1 large tomato, or 4 small, cut into chunks
  • 1 English cucumber, halved, seeded, and cut into chunks
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, halved, cored, and cut into chunks
  • 1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives
  • 6 large basil leaves, torn into pieces
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2-ounce block feta cheese
Bring 3 cups of salted water to a boil.
Add the farro, reduce heat to medium-low, and cover.
Simmer farro till tender, about 20 minutes,
Drain and rinse the farro in cold water, making sure most of the water is drained.
While the farro is draining, add the tomato, cucumber, onion, bell pepper, olives and basil to a mixing bowl. Add the farro, toss, then add the oil and lemon juice, toss again, add the salt and pepper, toss. Taste, season with more salt or lemon or pepper.
Put the salad on an oval platter, top with the feta and add whole basil leaves, (if you want) for decoration.

Hope you enjoy this salad as much as my family and friends do. It makes for a great pot luck dish as well, can be made a day ahead or on the same day few hours earlier.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Skirt Steak With Salsa Verde

Skirt steak has so much flavor - if you like beef, this is for you!  It is without a doubt our family and friends favorite. Plan ahead, the steak needs to marinate at least four hours or overnight. The salsa verde can be made ahead. Another reason to love this dish, it can be made ahead of time, all you have to do is grill the meat.

Marinade
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
 Serves 4

Combine the rosemary, thyme, parsley, garlic and olive oil in nonreactive medium casserole. Stir well to blend. Place the steak in the casserole and turn to blend both sides with the herb mixture.  Cover and refrigerate for at least four hours or overnight.

Preheat the grill or broiler. Remove the steak from the marinade, and season with salt and pepper. Place on the hottest part of the grill, cook for 3 minutes on one side, then on the other side for 2 minutes.
Let the meat rest for at least five minutes before slicing(on the bias) about 1/2 inch thick.

I like to place the sliced steak on a platter family style, and the salsa verde sauce (recipe below)in a small bowl. Family and friends can help themselves.

Salsa Verde

I have to omit the anchovies for my son and daughter, they haven't acquired a taste for them (yet)! It still takes great, so I don't mind.
  • 1 large bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 bunch fresh basil
  • 1 handful fresh mint leaves
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup capers, rinsed
  • 8 pieces anchovies, rinsed and patted dry
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
In your food processor, pulse/chop the parsley, basil, mint, garlic, capers and anchovies until roughly blended.
Transfer to a large bowl and add the vinegar. Slowly pour in the olive oil, stirring constantly, add the mustard. Check for seasoning, you might not need salt, just pepper.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Mussel Soup with Cranberry Beans, Celery and Basil

I've been making this dish for years now, when I discovered fresh cranberry beans in their pods at the farmer's market and started searching for cranberry bean recipes. Thankfully this one came up! I've found more over the years but this is still my favorite and once more, I can make the soup ahead of time!

Thank-you Marcella Hazan!





Ingredients:

 
1 1/2 lbs cranberry beans, fresh in their pods, if you can't find fresh then use dried, you can find dried at health food stores. 

2/3 cup dried. Also some Latin grocery stores carry them. 

3 lbs live mussels

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/3 cup finely chopped onion

1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic

1 cup canned Italian plum tomatoes with juice

dried red chili pepper flakes to your taste, I use about 1/4 tsp

1 loosely packed cup chopped celery leaves

Salt and black pepper ground fresh

12 large basil leaves, cut into narrow strips


(Serves 4)

After taking the cranberry beans out of their pods, put them in a pan  add water enough to cover 2 inches. Cover with a lid, bring to a simmer over medium to low heat, until tender, fresh would be about 20 minutes, dried depends on how old they are, up to an hour or more, keep checking. Drain the beans but save  the liquid.

Clean the mussels, getting rid of the beard if there is any and scraping off some grime. Throw away any that are opened. 

Put the mussels in a pan that will hold the mussels in one layer, otherwise, do it in batches. Cover the pan, turn the heat to high, shaking the pan occasionally, once the shells open, remove them with a slotted spoon, pour the liquid into a bowl.  Remove the shells from the meat, discard the shells, 

Using a pan with a fitted lid that will accommodate the mussels and beans, and the liquid. Put in all the oil and the onions, without covering the pan, cook the onions over high heat, stirring from time to time, until the onions are a nice golden brown. 

Add the garlic, stirring for about a minute, until the garlic is a golden color.

Add the tomatoes, breaking them up as you drop them in the pan, along with the  juices, cook over high heat, stirring for about 10 minutes. 

Add the chili pepper flakes and the celery leaves, turning everything over every couple of minutes.

Add the mussels to the pot, stirring gently, a couple of times.

Add the beans, stirring gently a few times.

Add the mussel liquid leaving behind any dirt that's left in the bottom of the bowl. Stir gently a few times.

Add the bean cooking liquid, just enough to have a soupy consistency. Stir, turn the heat down to low, taste and add salt if needed, freshly ground black pepper and simmer gently for about 10 minutes.  This can be made ahead a few hours. When you are ready to serve, bring to a gentle simmer, until heated through, add the basil.  I bring the whole pot to the table, or put into individual bowls. 

Enjoy!



Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Prawns, Scallops & Clams with Tomato Sauce & Feta Cheese

This recipe is my most recent discovery, I love it so much that I try to incorporate it
in most of my dinner parties. It's great if you need a fish dish to offer as well as meat.
Our friends are always asking me for the recipe, it's very unusual and so delicious!
On the plus side, you can make most of it in advance. Sometimes I'll omit the clams since 
not everyone likes clams and also they are not always available.
I've served this dish with quinoa, pasta, or couscous and of course good bread. 


 
I found this recipe in Yotam Ottolenghi's Cook Book.  Thank you for another favorite!
Serves 4
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 2 1/2 lbs clams scrubbed 
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cups canned Italian plum tomatoes chopped, with some of the liquid
  • pinch of sugar
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 lb tiger prawns, peeled and de-veined 
  • 1 lb large scallops
  • 6 oz feta cheese, broken into chunks
  • 6 green onions, thinly sliced
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

This is the part you can make ahead, if you like. Preheat your oven to 475 F. 
In a medium saucepan bring the wine to a boil until reduced, about 5 min.
Add the clams, cover the pan with a lid, shaking it at times until the clams open.
Put the clams in a fine sieve to drain and save the cooking juices in a bowl. 
When cool enough to handle, take the clams out of their shells. Chill if using them later.

Also, you can chose not to use the clams, just add the wine the after cooking the garlic, reduce and then continue as follows.

In a large frying pan that will hold all the sauce and all the seafood and is oven proof, cook the garlic in
the oil over medium/high heat till golden. 
Add the tomatoes, clam liquid, sugar, oregano and some salt and pepper.
With a peeler or a sharp knife, shave off thin strips of lemon, the whole lemon. Add
them to the pan, stir and let simmer gently for about 25 minutes, or until the sauce thickens.

Add the prawns and scallops, stir gently, cook for just a minute. Fold in the clams, sink
the feta chunks into the sauce and sprinkle with the green onion. Place in a casserole dish then in the oven for about 5 minutes or until the top brown. I like to put the broiler for the last part, get the
fish nice and brown, making sure not to over cook the seafood. 
And serve!  
Make sure everyone gets pieces of the lemon strips, the warm lemon strips tastes fabulous!

Enjoy!





Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Red Cabbage Salad With Dates And Oranges

I love salads that have both sweet and sour ingredients, and I wanted to try using dates as the sweet one. They turned out to be a good complement to the oranges and the balsamic vinegar.

Cabbage, oranges, and almonds all contribute potassium and calcium that we need to keep our blood pressure low. Almonds are rich in the same healthy monounsaturated fat that is found in olive oil, as well as contributing protein, and phytosterols that block cholesterol absorption. Walnut oil is rich in the omega-3 fat, alpha-linolenic acid, that is associated with protection against heart disease.

  • Finely shredded red cabbage (1/2 large or 1 small cabbage)
  • Orange segments from 3 oranges plus any juice from the oranges
  • ~ 1/3 cup almonds
  • 4 large Medjool dates, chopped into pea-sized pieces
  • roasted walnut oil, 2-4 tablespoons (La Tourangelle is a great California brand)
  • balsamic vinegar, 2-4 tablespoons
  • salt

Using a large, sharp knife, cut red cabbage in half, then shave fine pieces off of the cut surface. Peel the oranges with a sharp paring knife, cutting from the top and removing most of the white membrane, in a circle until you have a long strip of peel. Cut each segment out by cutting close to the membrane on each side.

Roast whole almonds in an ungreased pan over low heat or in the oven at about 400 degrees, for ~ 5 minutes, until lightly toasted tasting. Chop coarsely. Remove pit from dates and chop into pieces the size of large peas.
Combine orange segments, juice, dates, and almonds with cabbage. Add walnut oil one tablespoon at a time, until cabbage is barely coated.

Add balsamic vinegar, one tablespoon at a time, tossing well with each addition, until salad tastes nicely tangy. Sprinkle sparingly with salt, toss, and serve.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Couscous and Chick Pea Salad

This recipe is adapted from Moosewood Restaurant’s “Simple Suppers”. I use whole wheat couscous instead of ‘regular’ - couscous is the only grain product that tastes exactly the same to me in both versions.

Since all you need is 10 minutes, boiling water, and a bowl, couscous is definitely the easiest whole grain starch to prepare. The chickpeas in this dish add protein, which is the best appetite suppressant, and the oil will give you energy for hours. Adding generous amounts of chopped greens like parsley or mint will help boost your iron (and vitamin C) intake to increase strength and energy.

  • 1 cup whole wheat couscous (from a health food store)
  • 2/3 teaspoon salt
  • 1 & 2/3 cup boiling water
  • 1 lemon or 2 Meyer lemons
  • 3 tablespoons or more olive oil
  • 1¼ cup cooked chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained
  • black olives, pitted and cut in half- e.g. Kalamata (optional)
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped parsley
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced green onions
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh mint (optional)

The amounts of these ingredients can be increased or decreased as you like- this recipe works well with many variations.

Put couscous and salt in a bowl, pour boiling water over it, cover, sit 10 minutes. Fluff couscous with a fork and break up lumps.

Grate lemon peel, juice lemon, and mix with oil. Toss with couscous. Add remaining ingredients, mix well, and salt to taste. Add more oil and lemon if desired.

Serve immediately, or store in fridge for flavors to deepen. Preferably take it out of the fridge an hour before serving to come to room temperature.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Roasted Red Pepper Salad

This salad is so tasty, a great side dish for grilled meats or as a first course. Spread it on sliced bread.  On it's own our spread chevre cheese on the bread followed by the peppers. Whichever way you use it, it'll be unique and delicious!
  • 6 red bell peppers
  • 1/2 cup fine-quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons golden raisins
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 1 teaspoon chopped Italian parsley
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Serves up to 6 people.

Here you go ...

Preheat broiler. Broil the peppers, turning them frequently, until the skin has blackened on all sides. Spread the peppers on a baking sheet so they can cool to room temperature.

When the peppers are cool enough to handle, cut them from top to bottom. Scrape away  the seeds from the insides, then turn each half over scrape away the charred skin. Cut the peppers lengthwise into 1/4-inch thick strips. Put them into a bowl.  To the bowl add oil, raisins, nuts, parsley and garlic. Season to taste with salt and pepper, stir. Marinate for at least 1 hour before serving at room temperature.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Most Amazing Tomato Salad!

This tomato salad should only be made during the tomato season, it is a crowd pleaser, enjoyed by adults and teenagers alike!!  You may double it if you wish. Enjoy!
  • 6 to 8 in-season tomatoes, washed, cored and cut into anyway you like them.
  • about 1/2 cup fine-quality olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 large red onion, peeled and cut lengthwise into slivers
  • 4 or to your taste, garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 8 to 10 leaves fresh basil, torn
  • sea salt to taste, Maldon Sea salt is great!
  • 1/2  or more teaspoon dried oregano
Serves 6.

To tomatoes add oil and vinegar, then onions, garlic and basil. Spoon onto a serving plate,
sprinkle with oregano, add the salt, mix, add more oregano and basil and if you want, more salt.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Chicken Tagine with Olives, Almonds, and Yellow Raisins

Use a tagine to cook this dish, which is a shallow clay pot with a tightly fitting conical lid, that very efficiently captures steam, which drips back down into the dish. If you have a tagine, you will not need to add any liquid- the liquid from the onions, lemons, and chicken will form a delicious sauce. If you use another kind of pot, it should be heavy, with a tight fitting lid.
  • 4 T Olive oil
  • 2 large yellow onions, thickly sliced
  • 4 chicken thighs and 4 legs, preferably free range (or 6 large thighs)
  • salt
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and barely crushed
  • 2 lemons, in thin wedges
  • saffron
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • pitted Moroccan salted olives, ~ 16
  • whole almonds, sliced lengthwise to make large-faced halves, ~ 16
  • yellow raisins, ~ handful
Saute the onions in the oil over medium-low heat for around 15 minutes, until starting to become golden and tender.

Add chicken pieces, skin side down, pushing aside onion so that skin will brown. Cook over a medium heat until nicely browned.

Salt well, turn over chicken pieces, and salt other side. Tuck in garlic, lemon, saffron, and cinnamon. Top with olives, almonds, and raisins. Cover, and cook over a low heat, simmering, for about 1.5 hours, until very tender.

The tagine will conserve liquid so well that you may have to cook uncovered for a while to evaporate some of the liquid that will bubble over. In another type of pot you may need to add bits of water.

Serve with whole wheat couscous, prepared by adding 2.5 cups boiling water and a little salt to 1.5 cups couscous in a bowl, covering, and letting it sit for 10 minutes.

Couscous
  • 1 cup whole wheat couscous
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • a few capers, optional
Combine above ingredients in a heavy ceramic bowl, pour over 1 & 2/3 cup boiling water, cover with a plate, and let sit 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

A great summer salad to go with this is cucumber and tomato. Use ripe tomatoes (beefsteak are good, but any ripe tomato will work including cherry tomatoes) and small pickling cucumbers or Persian cucumbers. Peel the cucumbers, cut vegetables into small chunks, toss with extra virgin olive oil and a little salt. You can add a few fresh mint, basil, or dill leaves if desired