Monthly Archives: June 2018

Roasted Shrimp Salad

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Summer cooking is all about keeping cool, and you can do just that with this herbaceous shrimp salad that can be served as an appetizer or as a main course. Feel free to add you own special twist with different herbs and citrus flavors.

Serves 6

Ingredients:
1 large seedless cucumber
2 pounds of 16-20 count raw shrimp, shelled and deveined
1 firm avocado
1 lime, juiced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
2 Tablespoons cilantro, chopped
1 Tablespoon fresh chives, snipped
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 450 ° F.

Chop the cucumber into 3/4 inch quarter chunks. Place the chunks in a colander and toss them with a pinch of salt or two. Place the colander over a bowl and allow the cumbers to stand for 20 minutes. After salting, remove the cucumbers from the colander and pat dry with clean paper towels, add to a salad bowl and set aside.

Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Pour the shrimp onto the baking sheet and drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Toss the shrimp in the oil and spread them out on the baking sheet. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.

Roast the shrimp in the oven for 5-7 minutes, until pink. Cool the shrimp on the baking sheet.

Meanwhile, chop the avocado in 3/4 inch chunks. Add the avocado, minced garlic, chopped mint leaves, cilantro and chives into the salad bowl with the cucumber chunks. Pour the lime juice and 1 tablespoon olive oil over the salad and toss well to coat. Taste, and adjust with alt and pepper as needed.

Cover and place in the refrigerator and chill until ready to serve. Garnish with avocado slices and cilantro sprigs, if desired.

Cook’s Notes:
Cucumbers, with their delicate flavor and translucent flesh by nature are very watery. For the most part, it you are planning to combine them with any other ingredients, use the best variety of seedless cucumbers available to you.

Then, you must salt them to draw out as much liquid as possible. If you skip this step, a puddle of near-flavorless liquid will form quickly at the bottom of your salad bowl, your dip or soup will separate like curdled mayonnaise.

But if you can only find the kind with seeds, make sure, you must eviscerate them, cut them open length wise and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Why, you may ask? Well, cucumber seeds, tend to springy, and evasive, will ruin the texture of any salad, soup, or dip.

To salt cucumbers, begin by lining a colander with paper towels, add the cut up cucumbers to the colander and light salt them. Allow them to stand for 20 to 25 minutes, then remove from the colander and pat dry with paper towels and you are good to go to use them as you please in your recipes.

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Squid Ink Tonnarelli with Clams

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Squid ink or cuttlefish ink, is that one special ingredient that gives homemade pasta a mild briny taste of sea without being too “fishy”.  Squid ink tonnarelli paired with fresh clams and the sweetness of the skillet fried shishito  chili peppers dressed in a light cream, makes for a tantalizing dish with a dramatic presentation that will surely impress your dinner guest.

Serves 4

Ingredients:
10 to 15 fresh shishito peppers
1 teaspoon olive oil
Kosher salt, to taste
A squeeze of lemon juice
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
6 tablespoons dry white wine
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 dozen little neck clams, scrubbed
1 pound squid ink tonnarelli (click here for the recipe)
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:

For the Peppers:
Heat the olive oil over medium high heat in a large cast iron skillet until oil is shimmering. Add the peppers and cook them, tossing and turning them frequently until they blister, 10 to 15 minutes. When done, remove them from the skillet toss them with sea salt and add a squeeze of fresh lemon. Slice and set aside to cool.

For the Sauce:
In a Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium low heat. Add the garlic, parsley and crushed red pepper and cook until the garlic is golden, 1 minute. Add the wine, cream, salt, white pepper and bring to a boil over moderately high heat. Add the clams, cover and cook for 5 to 8 minutes; as the clams open, transfer them to a covered bowl and set aside. Continue to simmer until the sauce is reduced to a thin consistency, 8 to 10 minutes.

For the Pasta:
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook, stirring frequently, until al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain reserving 3/4 cup of the cooking water. Add the pasta to the Dutch oven. Stir in the cooking water over low heat, tossing until the pasta is al dente, 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the clams and shishito peppers to the pasta, garnish with parsley and serve.

Cook’s Notes:
Squid ink can be purchased on-line at various gourmet specialty shops such as La Tienda.

If time is of the essence or it making your own pasta is just too intimidating, you can also use store bought squid ink pasta that can be found in most local grocery stores and supermarkets. Several handmade dried varieties of squid ink pasta can also be purchasedfrom on-line stores to make for a quick and easy meal in no time.

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All photographs and content, excepted where noted, are copyright protected. Please do not use these photos without prior written permission. If you wish to republish this photograph and all other contents, then we kindly ask that you link back to this site. We are eternally grateful and we appreciate your support of this blog.

Thank you so much!

 

 

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Pan-Seared Lamb Chops

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Looking for a quick yet elegant entree for a dinner party? Well, these easy lamb chops are just the ticket. Pair them up with a few sides likes mashed potatoes and sauteed green beans to complete the dish. And for the finishing touch, pour a full-bodied Merlot or Pinot Noir.

Enjoy!

Serves 4
Ingredients:
For the Lamb Chops:
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons fresh garlic, minced
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, minced
2 teaspoons fresh parsley, minced
2 teaspoons fresh oregano, minc
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
8 lamb rib chops

For the Mini Fried Blooming Onions:
20 pearl onions
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 Tablespoons water
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon paprika
kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, taste
Vegetable oil, enough to fill skillet to 1-inch depth; more for a deep fryer

For the Caramelized  Pearl Onions:
10-12 whole pearl white onions, skins removed
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly-ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:
In a large bowl, mix together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, cumin and herbs. Season the lamb chops lightly with salt and pepper. Add  the chops to the olive oil mixture. Using tongs to  turning  each chop to coat completely.  Cover and  set aside to marinate, for 15-30 minutes.

To make the Blooming onions, preheat the oven to 170°F.

Cut tops of pearl onions, then slice top down (being careful not to cut all the way through) 3 times to form six sections of the onion. Using your fingers, gentley separate onion sections.

Place the onions in cold water to allow the petals to further separate. Soak for about 10 minutes and remove and drain on paper towels.

In a shallow bowl, mix eggs with water. In a separate shallow bowl, mix flour with garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika. Season with salt and pepper. Stir together until combined.

Dredge onions first in egg and then in flour mixture. S

In a large, high-sided skillet or a deep fat fryer, heat oil to about 350°F. Fry onions in batches, until they are golden. Place on a paper-towel lined plate to drain.Season with salt and set aside in the oven until ready to serve.

Cook the Pearl onions. Heat the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions begin to soften and turn golden brown, about 5 minutes. Turn the heat down to low, and continue cooking, covered, for another 5-10 minutes until the onions are a deep, rich golden color, but still hold their shapes.

Meanwhile, heat a large cast iron skillet over medium heat. When the skillet is hot, add the chops to the skillet and cook to desired doneness, about 3-4 minutes per side for medium-rare. Serve warm alongside the onions.

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All photographs and content, excepted where noted, are copyright protected. Please do not use these photos without prior written permission. If you wish to republish this photograph and all other contents, then we kindly ask that you link back to this site. We are eternally grateful and we appreciate your support of this blog.

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Hello, June

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The warm weather is here!

Fruits  and vegetables abound with all  the brillance of the sunny warmth all around beginning in June. Summer produce begins to sprout and before you know it, all types of berries are showing up in your local farmers markets,  reaching their peak in flavor and with the season comes blueberries, strawberries, black berries and stone fruits like cherries.

So , I am sure that you are wondering what  you can  expect to find in your local supermarkets and  grocery store shelves and what can you make with it? Well, here is a list I have put together that can help you break out of your cooking rut using  fresh fruits and vegetables in their peak season!

Also note that buying locally sourced produce is easier on your wallet and it  helps the local economy as well.

June Fruits and Vegetables

Apricots
Avocados
Beets
Blackberries
Blueberries
Cabbage
Carrots
Cherries
Corn
Cucumber
Fava Beans
Green Beans
Greens
Herbs
Kale
Kiwi
Leeks
Mangoes
Nectarines
Peaches
Peas
Radishes
Raspberries
Rhubarb
Spinach
Strawberries
Sorrel
Watermelon
Yellow Squash
Zucchini
 

This Month’s Featured Fruit: Blueberries

Blueberries are here! Those plump little berries are packed full of antioxidants and they are  delicious, nutritious and oh so  versatile. They’re naturally fat-free, high in vitamin C and a powerful antioxidant. We love them in cereals, salads, sauces, as toppings and by the handful.Blueberries pair marvelously with lemon flavor (juice and zest). Think of a refreshing blueberry lavender lemonade for sipping in the hammock. As with all berries, buy organic if possible to avoid pesticide exposure. 

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Photo Credit: Fitness Republic , 2017

Blueberry Varieties

Throughout the year, we typically see the beautiful, plump cultivated blueberries we’re most familiar with. However, in the summer it’s easy to spot smaller wild blueberries popping up in the market.

The main difference between wild and cultivated blueberries is found in their size: cultivated blueberries are typically larger than wild blueberries. Which means, since most of a blueberry’s antioxidants and other health benefits are found in the skin, per cup there will be more skin of wild blueberries than cultivated ones, due to their size.

However, it’s important to note that both varieties of blueberries are delicious, healthy and a nutritional powerhouse that belongs in everyone’s diet.

While we love to take advantage of the short season of wild blueberries and enthusiastically devour them in the summer, we also are happy to enjoy the cultivated ones year round.

What Goes Well With Blueberries?

Produce: bananas, lemon, peaches, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, mango, spinach, lemon, lime, watermelon, beets, orange, kiwi, and coconut

Herbs, Spices & Sweets: cinnamon, ginger, honey, maple syrup, nutmeg, vanilla, mint, and basil

Savory: oatmeal, granola, almonds, walnuts, pork, cornmeal, and chicken

Dairy: cream cheese, sour cream, crème fraîche, cream, yogurt, mascarpone, goat cheese, ricotta, and buttermilk

How To Select and Store Blueberries

Choose blueberries that are firm and have a lively, uniform blue colour. Avoid berries that are dull in color or soft and watery in texture (as the presence of moisture will cause them to decay).

Give the container a shake to see whether the berries move freely. If they don’t, this may be a sign that they are soft and damaged, or worse, moldy.

Store ripe blueberries in a covered container in the refrigerator. Here, they will keep for up to three days. If kept out at room temperature for more than a day, the berries may spoil.

Blueberries are extremely easy to freeze and store for future use. To do so, buy them in abundance in the summer and freeze them for a batch of Sunday blueberry pancakes or to stuff into muffins throughout the year. To freeze, wash blueberries and remove any stems and spoiled blueberries. Arrange on a clean tea towel to gently blot dry. Transfer to a lined baking sheet and flash freeze the cleaned and dried blueberries until frozen. Transfer to an airtight container and use within 8 months.

How To Prepare Blueberries

Your berries should not be washed until you are ready to eat them, as washing will remove the bloom that protects the berries’ skin from spoiling. Fresh berries are very fragile. They should be washed briefly and carefully and then gently pat them dry.  You can also spin them dry in salad spinner.

Blueberry Tips

  • Before storing, remove any crushed or moldy berries to prevent the rest from spoiling.
  • Like other tender fruit, blueberries have a natural bloom or slight white coating. The plant produces this in order to protect the fruit, so wait to wash your berries until you are ready to enjoy them.
  • Freeze blueberries on a cookie sheet in a single layer. Once frozen, transfer them to a re-sealable bag or container. This keeps them from sticking together.
  • Add frozen blueberries to a smoothie, yogurt, oatmeal, muffins, pancakes etc.
  • When shopping in the store, give the container of fresh berries a shake to see whether they move freely. If they don’t, this may be a sign that they are soft and damaged or moldy.
  • Wash your blueberries in a salad spinner to keep them intact while drying them at the same time.

Serving Ideas

Everybody knows that blueberry muffins are a perfect morning food, but don’t forget that blueberry pancakes or blueberry sauce on waffles can bring breakfast to a whole new level. This vegan blueberry lemon loaf is also a great treat in the morning if you need a pick-me-up!

Blueberries are also classic in pies and cobblers. Blueberries and lemons are a match made in heaven beneath a blanket of oat streusel or biscuits. Top with a scoop of creamy vanilla ice cream or fresh whipped cream for a decadent spin on this dish.

Add blueberries to your favorite greens like kale or spinach and pair with some salty cheese like feta to have a delicious and complex textured saladGrilled peaches and blueberries tossed in vinaigrette are also delicious, while this simple yet tasty blueberry, walnut, and Manchego cheese salad is great for a quick side dish.

For a spin on your traditional bruschetta, try this gorgeous blueberry and beet bruschetta at your next gathering. It will be sure to wow your guests with its striking color and flavor.

After a long week, wind down with some blueberry mojitos. Muddle blueberries with mint to get extra flavor and a beautiful hue to your drink.

A Caprese salad is typically prepared using a few high quality ingredients like fresh mozzarella, tasty tomatoes and fresh basil. Seasoned only with good quality olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and pepper to taste, it’s as delicious as it is simple. Try giving it a little extra boost of flavor and color  with fresh blueberries .

You can never go wrong with a classic like blueberry muffins. Perfect for on-the-go breakfasts and late-afternoon snacks, keeping a stash on hand will satisfy all your hunger cravings.

Source:

Produce Made Simple: Blueberries. (2018) The Ontario Produce Marketing Association. Date Accessed May 15, 2018.  https://producemadesimple.ca/blueberries/