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Sunday, August 2, 2015

Almond Gazpacho, Weekend in a French Kitchen




Gazpacho.  One of my favorite summer soups.  That and vichyssoise.  I'm one who could pretty much live on soup.  My mouth is watering as I'm typing this so please pardon me while I run fix myself a bowl of gazpacho for breakfast...   Ahhh, now that was good.  I always make my gazpacho by taking two-thirds of the veggies and pulsing them in the food processor with just a little bit of beef base.  Those get mixed with tomato juice, Clamato or V8 depending on my mood - and my pantry.  Then, I add in a bit of Tabasco and some extra virgin olive oil.  The other third is very finely diced and put into a separate storage container.  When I serve the gazpacho, I ladle some of the soup into a bowl, top it with a big handful of the diced veggies and drizzle some extra virgin olive oil over the top.  One of our guests at a dinner party this past week declared it the best gazpacho he'd ever had.  The original recipe came from a cookbook called Indianapolis Cooks and Collects.

Here's what it looks like: 



Needless to say, I was entranced when I saw almond gazpacho on the Weekend in a French Kitchen recipe schedule.  Really?  Almond?  As I'm typing this, I'm recalling that one of the articles (yet to be fully read) in a New York Times recipe email is about the best gazpacho. 
"It is not the watered-down salsa or grainy sludge often served here under the name of gazpacho, but an emulsion of fat (olive oil) in liquid (vegetable juice and vinegar) that is light and fluffy on the tongue and a fantastic conductor of flavor, just like vinaigrette or hollandaise." 

Obviously, given my comments in the first paragraph I prefer the chunky gazpacho to the smooth.  So, when I read the instructions and found the first step to be soaking crustless white bread in water I cringed a bit.  Once the bread is soaked and drained and squeezed dry, it's put into the food processor with almonds, grapes, cucumber and garlic.  Then, ice water, olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper are added.  The soup is put through a fine sieve and refrigerated until chilled.  It's topped with reserved almonds and garlic slices that have been crisped in some olive oil.  Then, it gets a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of piment d'Espelette. 

Once I got over the fact that this was not going to be anything at all like the gazpacho I love, I decided this was pretty darned good.  It's not something that I'll make with any regularity but is a lovely recipe for a starter for a dinner party.  Or a luncheon with a bowl of this and some great sandwiches. 



Here's the ingredient list for the gazpacho I make:


Indianapolis Collects and Cooks Gazpacho
6 c tomato juice
2 T olive oil
2-3 T lemon juice
1 c beef broth
1/2 c finely minced onion
3 tomatoes, finely minced
2 c finely minced celery
1/2 green pepper, finely minced
2 cucumbers, seeded and finely minced
1 t salt
1/4 t pepper
dash of tabasco

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Cherry Clafouti, Peach Sour Cream Pie, Lamb Pasta, Jalapeno Cucumber Margarita and Chile Lime Watermelon Wedges

Last week was a zoo.  Total, complete and entire.  I was so ready for Saturday so I could head to the office and have no phones ringing and where the email deluge would slow down.  I got up early and headed to the living room and sat down at the computer and started to work on the week's menu and grocery list.  Plus the obligatory check of the weather and Facebook.  I'd planned to start this post...  But, at 8:12 we got a call from the idiots at the Fraternal Order of Police.  I hung up on them.  Grrrrr.  Connie woke up and started puttering around.  I'd had all of about half an hour of quiet time. 

While Connie went to the farmers market and grocery and TJ's, I headed to the office to start in on the mountain on my desk.  The bad news is I'll be there all day Sunday too.  So much for brunch at Chef Josephs!

The fruits and vegetables are wonderful this time of year.  So, I've got corn on the cob, watermelon, zucchini, tomatoes and cucumbers on the list.  A couple of weeks ago we scored a box of fresh cherries.  They were amazing.  My kitchen was covered with cherry juice by the time I got done pitting them.  About half went to a boozy cherry dish from a friend's blog.  The other half went to the amazing cherry clafouti from A Kitchen in France.  That's this Sunday's recipe from Weekend in a French Kitchen.  I've made clafoutis before and we've thoroughly enjoyed them.  This one was a bit lighter and more flavorful than it's predecessors.  I made half a recipe since we're not into sweets too much.  In fact, despite the fact that this was really wonderful, about a third of it went into the trash.  Sweets just don't get eaten around here...  Here's what it looked like:



Clafoutis are pretty darned easy to make.  First you put the fruit in a buttered baking dish.  Then, you top it with a custard of flour, sugar, vanilla, milk and eggs.  Pop that in the oven and bake it for about 45 minutes total.  Cool it (if you can wait) then dust it with confectioners sugar to serve.  I confess that we didn't wait.  It just smelled too good!


Let's see, in addition to the clafouti we 've had the most amazing cocktail:  Cucumber Jalapeno Margaritas.  An absolute five in my book.  I got the recipe from Better Homes and Gardens.  One of the magazines I quit taking eons ago but that is now on nextissue.com so I skim it...  I think next time we'll make our own margarita mix and avoid all of the chemicals and preservatives that come with the prepackaged stuff. 

Here's what the recipe was:

Jalapeno Cucumber Margarita
10 servings (needless to say, we cut the recipe to two servings!)

Ingredients:

1/2 medium cucumber, sliced
1 jalapeno pepper, stemmed, seeded and sliced
3 c margarita mix
1 1/2 c gold Tequila
3/4 c orange liqueur

Directions:

In a cocktail shaker, muddle the jalapeno and cucumber with 1/2 t kosher salt.  Add the margarita mix, Tequila and orange liqueur along with several ice cubes.  Shake well.  Strain and serve over ice.


We also had a lamb pasta sauce that was incredible.  It was supposed to be lamb meatballs in spicy sauce.  My ground lamb was frozen.  Pasta sauce was the best alternative.  I doubled up on the spices (not the herbs, just the spices) in the sauce since the ground lamb wasn't seasoned as the meatballs would have been.  The only change we'd have made is adding more cheese.  It's a recipe I got from the New York Times.  The original measurements are given below.

Lamb in Spicy Tomato Sauce



Ingredients:

1 lb ground lamb
1 medium onion, diced
1 28 oz can whole tomatoes
1 small sprig rosemary
crushed red pepper flakes to taste
1/2 t fresh thyme leaves
1/2 t ground cumin
pinch ground cinnamon
pinch cayenne pepper
1/2 t sugar
1/4 c orange juice (I used 1/4 c of frozen concentrate)
crumbled feta cheese
farfalle


Directions:

Brown and drain the lamb and onion.  Crush the tomatoes.  Add them along with the rest of the ingredients.  Simmer for about half an hour to reduce the liquid.  Serve over cooked farfalle.  Top with crumbled feta cheese.



Mid week our friend Diane stopped by to pick up the bike her boyfriend, Craig, had bought from Connie.  We made antipasto salads.  Well, kind of.  Let's see, no provolone and the truffle cheese (which was provolone based) had mold on it, so I used cheddar.  No chickpeas so I used black beans.  No salami so I fried some bacon.  LOL.  Talk about substituting!  Diane is the ultimate baker so I was a bit hesitant to make a pie.  But, since we had help to eat this one I pounced on the opportunity.  Peach sour cream pie.  It looks like it came from All Recipes.  It tasted as wonderful as it looked.  And, made a mighty fine breakfast too!

Peach Sour Cream Pie




Ingredients:

pie crust
4 fresh peaches sliced 1/4" thick (you can substitute a 16 oz bag of frozen peaches, thawed, drained and patted dry)
1 T lemon juice
3 egg yolks
1 c sugar
1/3 c sour cream
1/4 c flour


Directions:

Prebake the crust in a 425F oven that's been preheated.  It'll take about 15 minutes for it to get golden brown.  Allow it to cool for about 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temp to 350F.  Toss the peach slices and the lemon juice.  Lay the peach slices in the pie crust.  Mix the other ingredients and spoon the custard over the peaches.  Bake for 50 minutes.  The original recipe called for tenting foil over the pie for that 50 minutes then removing the foil and baking it for an additional 30 minutes.  I didn't use the foil and skipped the last 30 minutes because the filling set up enough for my taste. 


adapted from All Recipes


Last, but not least, watermelon wedges.  With all kinds of wonderful things sprinkled on them!  Now, this is one that I saved in nextissue.com also.  BUT, it doesn't reference the magazine.  My guess is Cooking Light.  I put the spice mixture together for this and cut a couple of wedges.  The cilantro was chopped and ready to go but I totally forgot that and the olive oil the first round.  So, I made another wedge.  Connie liked it better with the cilantro and olive oil.  I preferred just the spice mixture. 

Chile Lime Watermelon Wedges




Ingredients:

grated rind from one lime
1 t ancho chile powder
1 t ground cumin
1 t kosher salt
1/4 t freshly ground black pepper
8 - 8oz wedges seedless watermelon
2 T extra virgin olive oil
3 T chopped fresh cilantro

Directions:

Put the lime rind in a cake pan or on a half sheet and bake it at 200F for 10 minutes.  You want it to be slightly dry but not dry enough to lose it's flavor.  Mix it with the chile powder, cumin, salt and pepper.  Lay the watermelon wedges on the dish you'll use to serve them.  Sprinkle them with the lime mixture.  Then, drizzle them with the evoo.  Finally, top them with a sprinkle of cilantro

I think this is adapted from Cooking Light.  I got it from a magazine on nextissue.com - one that doesn't show attribution...

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Eggplant Salad with Peppers, Mint and Caper-Feta Vinaigrette



Where to start...  We got most of the house done.  Parties do wonders for creating deadlines.  Big parties do even better.  Big parties with lots of folks who've never been to your house.  Well, let's just say we had incentive to get as much done as possible.  MANY boxes of wall art are still to be unpacked.  Some linens.  Connie's shoes.  But, for the most part, we're done.  And, the old house finally sold.  Closing in a month.  Hallelujah! 

Why were we having a party?  Our friends Joseph and Juan got married about a year ago.  Their friend Dave, the judge, pulled them out of the line at the City County building and took them up to his chambers and performed the marriage.  You see, there was this one day that Indiana joined the ranks of the states that allowed gay marriage.  Before another judge shut it down.  Then, it became legal again.  But, Joseph and Juan got in on that first day.  After 25 years together it felt really good for them to be married.  The interesting part of all of this is that Joseph is the chef at our favorite restaurant.  Juan is the best waiter in the world at the same restaurant.  Because we've gone to their wine dinners for so long, we've gotten to know a bunch of the other folks who go to the wine dinners.  And, for the last few years we've all been hanging out together.  Sushi on a Sunday.  A trip to Jungle Jim's followed by a pitch-in at Ed and Cynde's.  Lunch at a dive bar.  A limo up to Perkinsville for dinner at Bonge's Tavern.  These folks have become friends.  How often do you find a group of friends who hooked up because of a restaurant???  Not often, I'd imagine.  At any rate, I said to Joseph, let's have a pitch-in at our house!  That was back when I was still delirious and thought I could get all of this stuff unpacked in less time than it took to pack it.  LOL. 

July 12th was the date.  By Friday the 10th I was getting a bit panicky.  The house was not ready.  NOT ready.  By Sunday morning, I was fine.  We could do it.  And, with 20 minutes to spare we sat down to read the papers.  Amazing.  Everyone brought a dish and some wine.  We provided some champagne and a beautiful cake (thanks to Taylor's Bakery!)  Judge Dave presided over Joseph and Juan renewing their vows.  We drank great wine and ate great food. And, decided this needs to be an annual event! Here's what the party looked like:


























 




Monday evening Connie played bridge.  I washed some of the wine glasses but spent most of the evening trying to get the living room computer to connect to the network so I could do the work I brought home.  Tuesday was a totally crazy day at work.  Five appointments.  Which leaves just enough time for potty breaks.  We got home and I had nothing thawed.  A couple of really fun dishes on the menu.  But, nothing to make them with.  Except for the veggies for the week's side dishes.  Tomatoes and eggplant.  And, a pile of cucumbers from a volunteer vine at the old house.  Vegetarian it was then.  Connie kept pushing me to make a dip with the eggplant.  But, I was fixated on a recipe I'd found in one of the New York Times emails.  Eggplant salad with peppers, mint and caper-feta vinaigrette.  Sounded fabulous.  The tomatoes were for tomato and goat cheese napoleons.  A recipe we had several times last summer.  And, to round out the meal, thin spaghetti with garlic oil, pasta and grated gruyere. 

What did we think?  Connie was pretty darned glad he didn't win the eggplant battle!  This was a five.  Simply amazing.  And, so simple to put together!  Toss the eggplant with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.  Roast it.  Cool it.  Toss it with the rest of the ingredients.  Inhale.  This is one we'll make and make again!

Eggplant Salad with Peppers, Mint and Caper-Feta Vinaigrette

Ingredients:

2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 T lemon juice
salt and pepper
one eggplant, trimmed and cut into 1" cubes (not peeled) (the recipe called for 1 3/4 lbs, but the eggplant we bought was closer to a pound)
3 oz crumbled feta cheese
1 clove garlic, minced
1 T capers
1 yellow or red bell pepper, chopped
1 c cherry tomatoes, halved
6 T extra virgin olive oil
2 T fresh lemon juice
1/4 c fresh mint, chopped

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 425F.  Toss the eggplant cubes with the 2T evoo, 1 T lemon juice, salt and pepper.  Roast for 30 minutes.  The cubes will brown just a bit.  Remove the pan from the oven and set aside to cool.  While it's cooling, mix the other ingredients.  Then, mix in the eggplant and serve.  This is a dish that'll be just happy as all get out in the fridge for a day. 



adapted from the New York Times


 

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Cornish Game Hens with Citrus, Herb and Whiskey Glaze



Time is flying.  It's the second Wednesday of the month.  So that means it's time for Blogger C.L.U.E. Society.  Each month we're assigned a fellow blogger.  Then, our task is to find a recipe from that blog that fits the theme of the month.  And, in my case, to NOT make a list of twenty other recipes to try...  I fail that one every time.  My fellow bloggers in the Blogger C.L.U.E. Society are a group of fabulous cooks.  I could pretty much cook my way through any of their blogs.  Lemons and Anchovies was no exception.  I mean, just take a look at her home page:  Lemons and Anchovies.  Don't you want to get up from your nice comfy chair in front of the computer and head to the kitchen and start cooking?  Me too!

This month's theme was grilling.  I finally narrowed my choices to Lemongrass Chicken Salad, Sun Dried Tomato Pizza and Cornish Game Hens with Citrus, Sage and Whiskey Glaze.  Back and forth.  To and fro.  All of them sounded wonderful.  So, you know what decided my choice?  Connie asked for fried sage leaves.  Game hens it was.  

These were so easy to put together and so fabulous!  Thank you Jean :-)  Since Connie's not a fan of polenta, I served these with some leftover white rice from Chinese carryout.  That sounds kind of blah, doesn't it?  Not if you kick it up a few notches with some of Amanda Cohen's herb flavor bombs.  It's a New York Times recipe I've had on my list for several weeks.  I thought it'd go well with the game hens and was right.  But, this post is about the game hens so let's chat about them and about Jean. 

First, Jean.  She live in the San Francisco Bay area.  Like me she collects cookbooks.  And, like me she started blogging to make a dent in her "recipes to try" list.  And, like Connie and me, she and her hubby love to travel.  I have a feeling we'd all have a delightful evening of great food, wine and conversation!  If only she lived a bit closer...  Now, here's a link to the recipe (and drool inducing photo!) on Jean's blog:  Cornish Game Hens with Whiskey Herb Citrus Glaze.

What did I do similarly and what did I do differently?  Let's start with the cooking method.  Jean roasted hers in a cast iron skillet.  I used the grill.  It was a bit too hot so I managed to burn the skin and had to cut the bird in half and cook it cut side down for the balance of the time.  Jean used tangerine jam but I had to settle for orange marmalade.  It looks, however, like we had similar outcomes - a fabulous Cornish game hen! 



 
 
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Monday, July 6, 2015

Tomato Salad with Shallots and Parsley



Take the name of the dish and, there but for a bit of extra virgin olive oil, a dash of Dijon mustard and some judiciously sprinkled kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, you have the recipe.  It just doesn't get any more simple than this absolutely perfect summer dish.  I've been a huge fan of caprese salads since discovering them lo these many years ago.  This is the other salad enjoyed throughout the summer by our French friends.  And, this will be heresy to my dear friend Donna, but I do believe I like this better!

As part of Weekend in a French Kitchen, we're cooking our way through two cookbooks.  This is from the Sunday book:  A Kitchen in France by Mimi Thorisson.  David, Kara, Bradley and Rosie gave me an Amazon gift card for Mother's Day.  This lovely cookbook is how I used the gift card.  It's already getting stained and dog eared.  The mark of a well-loved cookbook!

Now, I'm a day late posting.  Sunday dawned bright and sunny.  We worked on the house for a bit before Connie dropped me off at the office and started out on his errands...  grocery, hardware store, bird food...  I had him drop me off so as to set a stop time.  I was working on a very complicated retirement plan and wanted some good uninterrupted time.  About three o'clock we got home.  Saturday we'd made great progress on the garage.  We're having a big party in a week and we want the house and garage to look great.  Not like we just moved in two months ago but like we've lived here for a while.  We looked at each other and said, "Let's dig in."  Dinner was to be my dish for Blogger C.L.U.E. Society, posting this Wednesday.  Dinner was at 9:30.  Thank goodness for long days or I'd not have been able to grill as easily.  By the time we finished dinner I was too exhausted to even take a shower.  Bedtime it was.  No blogging for me!

Now, my eagle-eyed friends, I'm certain you'll notice that my herb of choice was basil and not parsley.  I confess.  Basil is what I had so basil is what I used.  And have used since.  Yes, we've made this again.  And, will make it probably weekly this summer.  Until we get tired of warm, ripe tomatoes!  Which right now just doesn't seem possible, now does it?





Saturday, July 4, 2015

Monkfish with Caper Brown Butter Sauce

Happy 4th of July!  It's undoubtedly much better weather here in Indianapolis than it was in Philadelphia on 7/4/1776.  The weather, in fact, is why I'm so late with this post.  We decided to work on the garage today.  After several hours in the office, we dug in.  Now, both cars are out in the driveway instead of one.  But, in the event of a hail storm we could have both in the garage in about 15 minutes.  A couple of hours tomorrow and we'll pretty much have it done.  One more thing off our list!!!

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to join a group called Weekend in a French Kitchen.  You can do recipes from two different cookbooks each week.  Or from one.  Or from none.  I chose to do both for this weekend.  Except we couldn't find skate.  The manager of the fish market told us monkfish was a great substitute.  It may have been because they had a surfeit of it or it may have been what he thought.  At any rate, it was an excellent choice.  The recipe we were to use was Skate with Brown Butter and Capers from the Café Boulud cookbook.  Now, the interesting part is that we're not to post the actual recipe.  That's a first for me. 

We really loved this dish.  It's in two parts. One, you poach the fish.  And, two, you make a brown butter caper sauce.  Then, you plate the fish with the sauce and fresh parsley and some boiled potatoes.  Simple and delicious. 



Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Greek Green Bean Salad




What happens when you have a professional photographer over for dinner?  You get professional shots of your food!  SCORE!  My friend Stacy met me at our old house to take some new photos for the listing.  As a pro, she's got the equipment to take some wide angle shots so she was able to really do justice to the old place.  After photos, we were off to the new house for a tour.  She loved the kitchen and the master bathroom in particular.  So do we.  And, all the windows and all the trees.  Yes, we do love our new home!!! 

I'd had Connie pick up some salmon, green beans, strawberries and cherry tomatoes.  The basis for a really fun meal.  We made our favorite  Salmon with Marmalade Glaze



and my mom's parmesan noodles.  Except, I used truffle cheese in place of the parmesan.  Oh, la la! 



Along side that I made a salad with strawberries and a green bean tomato salad. 

Let's start with the salad with strawberries.  There's a place called Queen Creek Olives outside of Phoenix in Queen Creek.  Addictive.  Highly addictive olives.  And, olive oil.  And, balsamic vinegar.  And lots of other wonderful things like barbecue sauces and cheese spreads and chutneys.  Oh, yes.  I order their stuff by the case.  And, we inhale it.  Last time I was in Phoenix I went to one of their stores and taste tested.  One of the combos I bought was rosemary olive oil with a cranberry balsamic glaze.  I heated a bit more than a tablespoon of the olive oil in a skillet and added cored, halved strawberries.  When they'd warmed through a bit, I poured some of the cranberry balsamic glaze in.  Connie had thinned the mesclun in the garden so I mixed that with some chopped beet greens.  The warm strawberries and dressing were poured over and served. 



The noodles are medium egg noodles cooked then tossed with butter, fresh parsley and shredded cheese.  Couldn't be simpler.  And, every time I make them Connie tells me how much he likes them.  Me too!

Last but not least, the green bean and tomato salad.  I'd read a blurb in a magazine recently about green beans, tomatoes and feta cheese.  This was served with a bottled Greek vinaigrette.  Um, thanks but no thanks.  There are very few bottled dressings I'll use.  Most of them taste old and stale to me.  Probably thanks to all the preservative crap they put in them...  Oh, well, I'd make my own.  I went on food.com and found a recipe by Sue Lau.  She mentioned using her dressing on kalamata olives.  Bingo, I'd add those.  And, we had a jar of pickled garlic that was just screaming to be opened.  Now, the recipe called for oregano.  But, I wanted to use basil.  Don't ask me why because oregano is the quintessential Greek seasoning.  But I did so I did.  LOL.  That's the benefit of being the chief cook around here.  My kitchen.  My rules.  To quote a coffee mug from fine young stepson Matthew. 

We loved the whole dinner.  Ate it out on the deck.  Watched the hummingbird come and drink many times.  Loved the view.  And, loved the break from the heat and humidity.  I know it'll be back but for one evening it was delightful. 




So, here's the recipe:

Greek Green Bean Salad

Ingredients:

for the salad:
1 lb green beans, trimmed and cut into 1" lengths
1 pint cherry tomatoes
4 oz feta cheese
1/2 c Kalamata olives, chopped

For the dressing:

2 T red wine vinegar
2 T fresh lemon juice
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 t oregano (I subbed 6 basil leaves, minced - added to the salad, not the dressing)
1 t kosher salt
1 t Dijon mustard
1 t sugar
1/2 c extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

Bring a medium saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil.  Blanch the green beans for a couple of minutes.  Drain them and dump them into an ice bath.  You want them dark green and slightly crunchy.  Quarter the cherry tomatoes.  Crumble the feta cheese.  Drain the green beans and toss the salad fixings together.  You might want to add pickled garlic (chopped) or pepperoncini (chopped) or if you're adventurous, minced jalapeno.  Mix all of the dressing ingredients except the olive oil.  Slowly whisk in the olive oil so the dressing will emulsify.  Pour the olive oil over the salad ingredients.  Toss well and serve.

adapted from food.com by Sue Lau