Thursday, August 21, 2014

Nothing Fancy: Grilled Veggies w/ Quinoa

No real brain surgery going on here, just a good idea.

If you have leftover grilled vegetables from your BBQ party, cut them up and toss them with some quinoa, feta cheese, and fresh parsley or basil.

Season w/ sea salt & pepper and drizzle with some good olive oil.
I bought a case of olive oil from Abruzzo from Francesca, and it is wonderful on everything.

I used eggplant, zucchini, red peppers and onions.

If you forgot how to grill vegetables, then click on this old post and don't make me yell at you.

I like this best eaten when the quinoa is warm or at room temperature.

I brought this to the beach this week, it stays good for days.


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Zucchini Ricotta Pie

It's almost the end of summer produce here in the "Garden State".

Time is running out.


Fall seeds have been planted, so I am hoping for more beets, broccoli and kale in the MCG.

For the last of the zucchini hoorah, I made a zucchini pie.

Nice and easy, using my garden onions and fresh ricotta from the farmer's market (same guy I buy my sausage and bacon from, FYI).

Here's what you will need:

6 small zucchini, sliced thin (I leave the skin on)
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 shallots, sliced thin
1 large yellow onion, sliced thin (you can also use leeks, even better)
kosher salt & pepper
big handful of fresh basil, sliced chiffonade
4 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup of Pecorino, grated
1 cup (8 oz.) of fresh ricotta cheese
butter & dried breadcrumbs for the pie dish

Preheat oven to 350F.

Liberally rub butter all over a 9" pie plate and dust with dried breadcrumbs. This will be your crust.

In a large, heavy skillet, heat some olive oil and saute the zucchini coins with the onions and shallots for about 12 minutes, until the zucchini is starting to get golden brown and the onions are also golden. I season my vegetables with some kosher salt while they are cooking. Throw in the garlic last, you don't want it to burn.

Let the zucchini and onion mixture cool then add to a bowl with the cheeses, eggs and herbs. Season liberally with salt & pepper.

Pour into the prepared pie dish and bake for 35 minutes until puffed and golden.

This is great warm or at room temperature.

Enjoy the last few weeks of summer.

(at least figs will be here in the Garden State very soon!).


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Summer Salad of Tomatoes & Figs

Here is my favorite combination: Fresh figs and Jersey tomatoes.

Oh boy.

I had local figs and my beautiful cherry tomatoes picked fresh off the vine.

Inspired by Marie's book, 66 Square Feet A Delicious Life.

Here's how:

Plate quartered, ripe figgies on a platter, and add some arugula and halved tomatoes (any summer variety will do).

Drizzle some white balsamic vinegar over the platter and drizzle w/ good olive oil.

Shred fresh mint leaves and basil leaves over everything and serve right away.

Summer's best.

I'm happy.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Grilled Halibut w/ Lemon Basil Vinaigrette

I'm still in summer mode, I want easy for dinner.
Nothing too elaborate.

This recipe is the perfect way to show off my favorite fish.

It's very clean tasting and with the fresh garden basil thrown in at the last minute, it is my new favorite way to prepare summer fish.

I used my restaurant quality cast iron skillet on the grill to cook the fish, and it was a perfect sear, and when you shut the grill lid, it's like roasting in a pan. So good.

Serve w/a Caprese salad, that's all you need for a delicious al fresco meal.

Grilled Halibut w/ Lemon Basil Vinaigrette (adapted from Epicurious): serves 2

1 lb. of sustainable (preferably Pacific) halibut filets/steaks (about 3/4" thick)

2 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
3 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil
2 teaspoons drained capers

Whisk lemon juice, olive oil, crushed garlic cloves and zest in small bowl. Stir in 2 tablespoons fresh basil and capers. Season vinaigrette to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be prepared 1 hour ahead. Let stand at room temperature.)

Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat) or preheat broiler. Season halibut steaks with kosher salt and pepper.

Brush fish with 1 tablespoon vinaigrette, dividing equally. Grill or broil halibut steaks until just cooked through, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer fish to plates. Pour remaining vinaigrette over fish. Garnish fish with remaining tbsp of fresh basil.

So easy and so good.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Nectarine & Blueberry Cake.....oh my!

What is a nectarine anyway?
Is it just a peach without the fuzz?

It is to me.

This is the best summer cake, and before you ask, yes, I guess you can substitute a peach for the nectarine.

This cake is a combination of Nigel Slater's peach cake from his book RIPE and an old Gourmet magazine recipe I saved for a Nectarine Golden Cake.

I added in blueberries and orange zest because it was what I felt like doing.

This cake is the perfect summer breakfast cake, not too sweet, but oh so good.

The next time, I will add sliced almonds to the top for some fancy crunch.

I'm in love.

Nectarine Blueberry Cake:

3/4 cup of all purpose flour
1/4 cup almond meal (or ground almonds)
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) of butter, softened
a little under 1 cup of sugar (3/4 - 1 cup, depending on how sweet you like it)
2 large eggs
zest of an orange
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp almond extract
1 ripe nectarine, skin on, pitted and diced
1/4 cup of blueberries
1/4 cup of milk
turbinado (raw) sugar for the top

Mix the dry ingredients together and put aside.

In a large bowl, mix the eggs, butter, sugar and extracts together.

Add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients (rocket science here) and mix to form a nice batter.

Gently fold in the fruit and add the milk last.

Spoon the batter into a buttered 9" springform pan and sprinkle about 2 tbsp of raw sugar on top.

Bake 45-50 minutes in a 350F oven.

Let cool completely in the cake tin before removing the sides.

Serve with whipped cream, ice cream or naked.


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Lilly Pulitzer Salad: Raw Chioggia Beets & Apples

Lilly Pulitzer was a Palm Beach clothing designer back in the 60's and 70's (before my time), but the trend to wear preppy little short pink and kelly green skirts and men in whale pants came back in the late 90's for the Hamptons & Cape Cod set (and for me in NJ).

I fell victim to that trend back in the 90's......but actually, I looked decent in those bright preppy clothes and wish I could still wear them today (even though her designs are much different now).

I am naming this salad for her, because while I was making it, I thought how pretty the pink and green colors were, and that they reminded me of all those funny preppy clothes.

Back to beets.

Eating raw beets sounds scary, but I promise, chioggia (Kee-OHgia), also known as candy stripe beets, actually taste better raw than cooked, and they retain their pretty color.

The trick is to shave them nice and thin (on a mandolin works) and let them sit in the dressing for a few minutes to soften.

Paired with the sliced green apples and fresh mint, this was a delicious summer salad, and super healthy.

Don't be scared.

I don't recommend you make this salad w/ red beets, they are such a mess, especially when raw, but the pink ones are gorgeous and have a sweet, earthy taste, with a bit of spice.

I grow 3 types of beets in the garden, and I am never without.

Lilly Pulitzer Salad (Raw Chioggia Beets w/ Apples)

2 chioggia (candystripe) beets, peeled and sliced very thin
1 Granny Smith green apple, sliced (leave peel on for color)
handful of your favorite greens, I love arugula
fresh mint leaves for garnish
goat cheese for sprinkling

Juice of a lemon
zest of the lemon
2 tbsp of white balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp honey
3 tbsp olive oil
sea salt

Lay the arugula greens on a platter.

Slice the beets and apples and arrange them on top of the arugula.
Immediately squeeze the lemon all over them, so the apple doesn't turn brown.

Sprinkle with the lemon zest and pour some of the dressing over the salad to marinate.
Let rest for 10 minutes.

Just before serving, sprinkle w/ fresh mint leaves and goat cheese.

Go put on your lobster shorts and enjoy.


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Suzanne Goin's Herbed Salmon & Potato Salad w/ Beets

Suzanne Goin's book Sunday Suppers at Lucques is a classic.
It gets you busy in the kitchen, that's for sure, but the outcome is perfection every time.

I have her newest cookbook AOC, but haven't delved into it yet.
So many cookbooks, so little time.

Here, Ms. Goin has you do a million steps, taking forever, when Ms. Snacks can have this salad made in no time.

I roasted my fish while the beets were roasting, and cooked my eggs in the same pot as my little garden fresh fingerling potatoes.

I also used the herb mixture that I used on the fish for my dressing, and just tweeked it with a little tarragon mustard.

I'm so smart.

This is a great summer salad.
Can be made ahead of time and served cold or room temp.

Of course, I used my garden fresh beets and potatoes to make this one delicious dinner.

Herbed Salmon & Potato Salad w/ Beets (adapted from Sunday Suppers at Lucques):

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 medium shallots, very finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh tarragon
zest of a lemon
2 pounds skin-on center-cut wild salmon fillet, pin bones removed
2 teaspoons coarse salt
freshly ground pepper
fleur de sel

1 tbsp of any mustard
4 tbsp of olive oil

1 lb. of baby potatoes (red or gold)
3 eggs, hardboiled
2 beets, roasted (400F wrapped in foil for 1 hour, peel when cool)

dandelion greens or arugula for the platter

Make a nice paste out of the herbs and zest and pat it all over the salmon fillets, saving a tablespoon of the herb mixture for your dressing.

With the remaining tablespoon of herbs/shallots/zest, add in a tablespoon of any mustard you like, Dijon, grainy or flavored. Whisk in a few tablespoons of olive oil, and voila, here is your dressing.

Roast the salmon fillets in an oiled roasting pan for about 15 minutes at 400F (I do mine along w/ the beets in the same oven).

Roast your beets as per my usual instructions (don't make me write it again), and when cooled, peel and cut into wedges or cubes, along w/ the boiled or roasted potatoes.

Let all the salad components cool down before dressing. (That's why I love this salad, you can make it all in the a.m. and assemble later for dinner).

I hope you are still with me.

Let the salmon cool and cut into pieces, and arrange on a platter w/ the roasted beets, eggs that have been quartered and cooked potatoes.

Spoon on the herb mustard dressing over everything and place over greens and serve.

I love this salad, it's so good and worth the effort (even if I did take some shortcuts!).

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Quinoa Salad w/ Peaches & Pickled Onions

Peter picked a peck of pickled peaches.......

Just when you think I have paired quinoa with everything, peaches are here.

New Jersey has beautiful peaches in the late summer only, and once they are done, they are gone for another year. Short season for everything in the Northeast, so get 'em while you can.

This is a beautiful salad, paired with fresh local arugula and basil from the garden.

Feel free to sprinkle goat or feta cheese for an extra topping.

Quinoa Salad w/ Peaches & Pickled Onions:

1 cup of quinoa (cooked w/ 2 cups of water)
2 ripe peaches, cut into pieces
handful of fresh basil leaves, sliced
1 cup of cherry tomatoes, quartered
1/4 cup of pickled onions (recipe here)
fresh arugula leaves
crumbled feta or goat cheese for the top
sea salt & black pepper

6 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp red wine or champagne vinegar
2 tbsp honey

Prepare the quinoa as per directions and let cool.

Mix with the cut up peaches, pickled onions and tomatoes.

Mix in the dressing and season w/ sea salt & pepper.

Add in the basil and arugula just before serving.

Top with crumbled feta or goat cheese.

Best served at room temperature.


Monday, August 11, 2014

BE NICE: Summer Pasta w/ Squash, Corn & Garden Produce

It's summer.

If you have no zucchini or tomatoes, then you don't have many friends (an old Italian saying....from New Jersey, of course).

You need to change your ways.
Be nicer to people.

Smile at your neighbor with the fig tree, maybe wave and say hello.
You might get a nice paper bag filled w/ tomatoes, zucchini and other goodies from their garden (figs are always welcome!).

I have a lot of tomatoes and squash and onions to give away (don't stop by my house unannounced, please).

Here is the BEST summer pasta dish and so simple.

I saw Adam from Amateur Gourmet make it and I had everything from my garden, so figured I would try it on a weeknight.


This is really eating local (except the pasta was from Italy!!).

Here's how:

1/2 box (8 oz.) of penne or rigatoni
olive oil for the pan
2 summer yellow squash, cubed (I leave the skin on, since they are from my garden, no pesticides)
1 large white or yellow sweet onion, diced
2 cloves garlic
2 ears of fresh (preferably local) corn, shucked and kernels slices off into a bowl (it's easy to do)
big handful of cherry tomatoes, cut in half
handful of scallions
3 tbsp butter
kosher salt & pepper
fresh basil leaves for garnish
Parmigiano or Pecorino for finishing

Cook your pasta as per directions in boiling salted water.

While the pasta is cooking, prepare the vegetables.

In a large, heavy skillet, heat some olive oil and cook the onion, garlic, squash and corn on medium heat for about 10 minutes. Season liberally with some kosher salt & black pepper.

Add in the tomatoes last, and cook another few minutes with the scallions.

Add in the butter at the last minute and breathe in, it smells so good.

Drain the pasta, saving a few tablespoons of the pasta water. Add the pasta and the reserved water to the skillet and toss. You may need to add a little sea salt at the end.

Finish with fresh basil leaves and shave on the Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and serve.

Wonderful weeknight pasta dish.

If you lived closer to me, I would give you some tomatoes and zucchini.
It's nice to share.


Friday, August 8, 2014

August Random Food Bites

I've been so busy lately in the garden, (mostly weeding); cooking; eating; writing and even working at my day job (yes, I have one, believe it or not!).

It's been one busy summer and it's more than half over.

Here are some delicious and pretty dishes that I have made with my garden's produce these past few weeks.

Yesterday, I made a beautiful ratatouille in the oven (much better than the stove-top version).
I served it on couscous and am taking it to the beach today for lunch!

As you know, I harvest a ton of beets, weekly.

I roast them so I have them ready for salads and other recipes.
I love them and don't care if you don't. (I am sick of people telling me they HATE beets!, so don't eat them!).

Here is yesterday's beet salad with oranges and good.

I never get tired of a Caprese Salad.

All you need are some ripe Jersey heirloom tomatoes, fresh mozzarella (the kind packed in water), basil and other fresh herbs.
Drizzle all with good olive oil and a sprinkle of fleur de sel.

A pretty plate of my garden cucumbers with pickled herring from the jar.
Some pansy flowers and other herbs.

Believe it or not, my husband loved this as a first course!

The last of my garden's fingerling potatoes.
Boiled with the last of the broccoli in the garden.

Tossed w/ some sundried tomatoes, pesto and finished with my favorite boquerones (marinated white anchovies).

No, they are not WORMS (but I agree, they look like worms in the photo!).

Here's another twist on a Caprese Salad.

I roasted my cherry tomatoes until they were nice and jammy (375F for 30-40 minutes).

Add in some fresh basil and sliced kalamata olives.
Spoon over fresh mozzarella.


and with the leftover roasted tomatoes, I made a Margherita Frittata, after seeing Marie's photo of her version on instagram.

5 eggs with the roasted cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella blobs, basil, salt & pepper.

Finish under the broiler.
Makes the best summer breakfast.

On the summer restaurant front, we scored a table for 4 at the much loved Marc Forgione Restaurant in Tribeca.
Why did I wait 6 years to try this place? (because I don't listen to people when I am told to do something!).

It was one of our favorite meals in the city to date.
All the fish we ate were caught that day by one fisherman in Montauk, and it showed.

The freshest crudo and beautifully in-season cooked fish we have had in a while.

Halibut, scallops, swordfish and tuna. All amazing (and the little amuse bouche bread you see with the spoons are mini bagels infused w/ herb cream cheese and some ceviche!!!).

It's also a beautiful restaurant, located on a quiet street in Tribeca with outdoor seating and a great wine list and all farm to table ingredients.

Can't wait to go back.

Enjoy the rest of the summer. Hope you are doing something fun!