Monday, August 3, 2015

Corner Market Texas Waldorf Salad


Here's a very simple twist on a forever family favorite: the Waldorf Salad, Texas-style.

I adore regional cookbooks.  I love trying recipes specific to different parts of our wonderful country.  This is a Southern Living Cookbook that covers the loverly South/Southeast from OK/TX to SC/FL and parts in between (gots to love them Southern cooks!!!)  

We've all had the traditional Waldorf salad:  apples, celery, walnuts.  But this is with a Texas twist.  Substitute pecans for walnuts and add some pears, dried cranberries, and some poppy-seed dressing.  Lovely.

CORNER MARKET TEXAS WALDORF SALAD (5 servings)

1/2 cup pecan halves
2 cups (1") cubed unpeeled Granny Smith apple
1 1/4 cups (1") cubed peeled Bosc pears
3/4 cup seedless green grapes
3/4 cup seedless red grapes
1 Tbsp coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp bottled creamy poppy-seed dressing

Preheat oven to 350F.  Bake pecans in a shallow pan 5-6 minutes or until toasted and fragrant, stirring halfway through.  Let cool separately.

Toss together apple and next 5 ingredients in a large bowl.  Drizzle dressing over fruit mixture; sprinkle with nuts, and toss to coat.  Cover and chill until serving, if desired.

Recipe Source:  Southern Living: Off the Eaten Path: Second Helpings, 2014, p. 17

Friday, July 31, 2015

Shrimp Stock


OK....this may not be something you were expecting, but let me tell you..... following a real stock recipe made all the difference!

We eat a lot of shrimp here.  I mean A LOT!!!  I learned several years ago that the second best thing to shrimp are the shrimp shells and starting making my own stock (when peeling uncooked shrimp, wrap the shells in plastic wrap and put into a ziplock back until you have about a filled gallon-sized bag.)  Generally with stock, chicken or shrimp, I generally throw in celery, carrots, onions, and maybe a few herbs, always with good results.  But for some reason, I actually searched for a published stock recipe and found this one from Emeril Lagasse of Food Network.

I followed the recipe almost to the "t" making adjustments only with the amount of shells and water.  This stock is perfection.  It is now in my freezer waiting for a good gumbo and seafood chowder day.  Tick tock, tick tock.  I can hardly wait!

SHRIMP STOCK (makes about 9 cups)

about 1 1/2 pounds shrimp stock
10 cups water
1/2 large onion, quartered
1 lg celery rib, quartered
1 lg carrot, quartered
stems from an 8 oz package of mushrooms
1 Tbsp coarsely chopped garlic
Sachet consisting of the following:
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp crushed black peppercorns
4 parsley stems

Put the shells with the remaining ingredients into a stockpot.  Bring to a boil.  Let simmer for about an hour.

Strain through a colander.  I put 2 cups of stock in each freezer bag (1 bag had one cup), label, and wait for some cool weather!

Recipe Source: adapted from http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-lagasse/shrimp-stock-recipe3.html

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Quinoa Kale Salad


This is one of the most delicious, simple side dishes you could make that would complement just about entree.  And although the recipe calls for kale, I had some leftover raw spinach that needed a home and I used it instead.  Just as good as the demo at Publix.

Easy, healthy, full of nutrition, this side dish would work well with so many things.  But that fabulous Herbed Pesto Salmon (see previous post) ranks right at the top.

QUINOA KALE SALAD (4 servings)

5 cups finely chopped kale or spinach
1 cup quinoa
2 1/4 cup chicken stock or broth
1/2 cup creamy Caesar dresssing, divided
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp coarse-ground black pepper
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

Place quinoa and stock in a large stock pot.   Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low; simmer 15 minutes.   Meanwhile, remove stems from kale or spinach, then chop leaves.

Stir kale or spinach into quinoa and cover; cook 8 more minutes.  Transfer mixture to large serving bowl; fluff with a fork and let stand to cool slightly.

Stir in a 1/4 cup dressing & S&P.  Drizzle 1/4 cup dressing over top.  Sprinkle with cheese and serve.

Recipe Source:  http://www.publix.com/recipes-planning/aprons-simple-meals/herb-pesto-salmon-with-quinoa-kale-salad

Monday, July 27, 2015

Herb Pesto Salmon


Meet my new favorite salmon recipe!  Now maybe because it's so, so simple (just pesto, Dijon, and lemon).  It probably helped that sockeye salmon (usually $15/lb) is on sale for just $7/lb.  And they are so fresh and delicious.  Of course you can use fresh salmon found at your market, but if you run across a sale like I did, definitely take advantage.

And while I have more basil this year than I would ever use in a lifetime, I buy jarred, prepared pesto.  It's inexpensive, delicious, and will keep in a jar in the fridge for a long, long time.  So all you do is season the fish with S&P, top with the pesto mixture and pop in the oven.

They also had a wonderful quinoa kale salad they served with it which was equally de-lish and simple.  Stay tuned.

HERB PESTO SALMON (4 servings)

Juice of 1/2 lemon
3 Tbsp basil pesto sauce
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
4 sockeye (or cojo) salmon fillets (4-6 oz each)
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Combine pesto, mustard, and lemon juice.  Season fish with S&P; place on baking sheet.

Top each fillet evenly with pesto mixture; bake 14-16 minutes or until 145F (or opaque and separates easily).  Serve.

Recipe Source:  http://www.publix.com/recipes-planning/aprons-simple-meals/herb-pesto-salmon-with-quinoa-kale-salad


Friday, July 24, 2015

Saffron Orzo with Scallops (or Shrimp or Chicken) and Sugar Snap Peas


I adore orzo.  I love the silky texture and the versatility.  When I think pasta I naturally think Italian: tomato-y or rich alfredo and cheese.  Orzo just opens a whole new path of thinking for me: salads to entrees, summer vegetables or traditional tomato-bases.

This is a great base recipe from which to start.  The original recipe calls for shrimp, but I had some bay scallops in the freezer.  And while sugar snaps and asparagus are standouts in the meal, use what is fresh or what you like.

A word on saffron.  This is the most expensive spice in the world costing between $1600 and $5000/pound.  Not that us home cooks would ever buy a pound, but you can find it in bottles in the spice department (looking on-line I see it in .05 oz or 1-2 gram jars for around $20.....I think I've found it for less for a local market).  A friend had sent me a jar some time ago and I had tried to a few times but frankly, it really didn't rock my boat.  I'm sure there are different levels of quality, but I've also ordered entrees in restaurants and it pretty much tasted the same of what I have on hand.

All that being said, if you have some on hand by all means use it!  This is a great home for it.  However, if you're not willing to dip your toe in the water but still want yellow rice, I'd try turmeric.

The original recipe didn't call for the red peppers, but I really felt it need a pop of color for presentation.

SAFFRON ORZO with SCALLOPS (or SHRIMP or CHICKEN) and SUGAR SNAP PEAS (4 servings)

1/2 yellow or sweet onion, chopped
2-3 tsp minced fresh garlic
2 tsp EVOO
1 tsp saffron threads
1 1/2 cups (9 1/2 oz/295 g) orzo
2 1/4 cups (18 fl oz/560 ml) low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 lb (250 g) sugar snap peas, trimmed (I used thawed, frozen sugar snaps)
1/2 lb (250 g) shrimp, peeled, deveined, and cut crosswise into thirds (can substitute bay scallops or chicken cut into bite-sized pieces)
S&P to taste
diced red pepper (cooked or uncooked), optional

Heat a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add the onion, garlic, olive oil, and saffron threads and saute until soft, about 5 minutes.  Mix in the orzo, then pour in the broth.  Bring to a boil, cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the orzo is just tender, about 8 minutes.

Add the asparagus and peas and simmer until partially cooked, about 3 minutes.  Add the shrimp and cook until opaque, about 4 minutes (adjust cooking time for chicken).  Season with S&P.  Transfer to warmed serving bowls and serve hot.

Recipe Source: Williams-Sonoma "Fresh & Light" 1998, p. 46

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Pollo Santa Fe


Hello, again.  Thanks so much for returning.  It's been a difficult week here in Chattanooga triggering so many memories.  But this city is as resolute as OKC and the slogan showing up on just about every marquee is "Chattanooga Strong."  I haven't been back to the gym as the memorial has grown so large you couldn't place a piece of paper in there and it's just too hard for me to see right now.  I need to get back to pass this hurdle and hope to do so soon.

But during this time, I have run across with some really nice, new recipes.  This one is my favorite and I can tell you I will be making it over and over again.  Did I just say I was about to throw every skinless, boneless chicken breast out the window?  Well, color me wrong.  If you use SBCBs for nothing else, use them for this recipe.  Really.

Please don't let the long list of ingredients and instructions turn you away.  Almost everything can be done ahead (make the sauce and salsa a day or two ahead....it'll keep).  Having all that ready and on hand, poof!  Everything is ready to assemble.

I believe the multi-colored tortilla strips are essential to a lovely presentation, but you could certainly use regular tortilla chips for the flavor and crunch.  This recipe comes from the cookbook "Southern Living: Off the Eaten Path."  The author (Morgan Murphy) combed southern states and asked locals where the hidden gems were.  We're not talking about 5***** restaurants in Atlanta, Nashville, or Dallas, but those places, mainly Mom-and-Pop joints, that serve the best dishes in their regions.  This recipe comes from Rosie's Cantina in Huntsville, Alabama (http://rosiesmexicancantina.com/) So, if you're ever Space City, Alabama, put it on your "to-do" list.

POLLO SANTA FE (6 servings)

Southwestern Sauce:
1 cup mayo
1/2 cup sour cream
3 Tbsp finely chopped red bell pepper
2 tsp ground red pepper (cayenne), or to taste (we are very sensitive to cayenne but I do like a tad bit of heat, so I usually use about an 1/8 of what a recipe calls for)
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp paprika (I used smoked paprika)
4 tsp rice vinegar
1/2 tsp chili powder (could use chipotle powder if you want more heat)

Chicken:
6 (8 oz.....I use 4 oz) skinless, boneless chicken breasts
2 Tbsp EVOO
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup (2 oz) shredded Provolone cheese
2 cups (8 oz) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
Multicolored tortilla strips (I find mine in the produce department)

Black Bean-Corn Salsa:
1 cup frozen whole kernel corn, thawed
1/4 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro (less for me)
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 Tbsp finely chopped seeded, deveined jalapeno peppers
2 Tbsp EVOO
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp pepper
1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed

Prepare Southwestern Sauce:
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.  Cover sauce and chill for 2 hours.

Prepare Black Bean-Corn Salsa:
Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl.  Cover and chill for 2 hours.

Prepare Chicken:
Preheat grill to 350F to 400F (medium-high) heat.  Brush chicken with olive oil and sprinkle with 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper.  Grill chicken, covered with grill lid, 4 minutes on each side or until done.

Prepare entree:
Preheat oven to 350F.  Combine cheeses in a medium bowl.  Place chicken breasts on a lightly greased baking sheet.  Top each breast with 1/4 cup Southwestern Sauce, 1/4 cup Black Bean-Corn Salsa, and about 1/3 cup cheese mixture.  Bake at 350F for 7 minutes or until cheese melts.  Place 1 chicken breast on each of 6 serving plates.  Top with tortilla chips.

Recipe Source: "Southern Living: Off the Eaten Path," by Morgan Murphy, 2014, p. 27


Saturday, July 18, 2015

Chattanooga Tragedy


A woman places a balloon and flowers at a makeshift memorial outside the military recruiting center on Friday, July 17.

It has been a long, terrible few days here in this lovely city.  Once again, terror has found good and honorable people to take from all of us.

This is so difficult.  But just as in Oklahoma City, the wonderful people of this gracious city are showing what a true American is.  Within an hour of the second shooting, lines had formed at blood banks.  Makeshift memorials went up at the sites.  The city was so quiet that first day.  It's just all so sad and pointless.

My love and unconditional gratefulness go out, as always, to our all of our law enforcement and armed forces men and women.

And my sincere sympathy and complete understanding to family and friends of our five murdered Marines.