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Posts Tagged ‘parmesan’

tastiness abounds

tastiness abounds

Last week was so crazy (hence the single post).  Weeks of going through closets and boxes culminated in a very successful garage sale.  Yippee!  To celebrate, I got everything I needed for a recipe that I was saving from Saveur.  Oooohhh I couldn’t wait to share it with everyone; snapper baked in foil with clams, lemon, smoked sausage, fennel, olives, orange zest, shallots, fingerling potatoes, white wine… sounds amazing, right?  It wasn’t.  It just wasn’t good.  DANGIT.  I hate it when that happens! 

So, I’ll share a faithful old stand-by instead.  I used to make this all the time when I first started cooking… somehow it has left the regular rotation.  We had it for lunch today and I was reminded of why we used to eat it so frequently!  This is a very elegant take on red beans and rice; it’s extremely comforting but also a little refined.  I love the soft orzo and the mixture of sweet peas, salty prosciutto and freshly grated parmesan.  It’s herby, elegant, delicious, and you can get it on the table in about thirty minutes.  Nice!  Today I added a little green salad on the side with a quick dressing made from lemon, dijon, marmalade and white wine vinegar, topped with toasted, slivered almonds.  It was the perfect compliment. 

I have big plans for the rest of the week – lots of things from scratch – thai red curry paste, worsteshire sauce, pickled okra and fresh ricotta ravioli (my first attempt at homemade pasta) – I’ll keep you posted!  In the meantime, let me know if you make this and what you think of it.  Oh, and if anyone has any tips on making pasta dough, I will be very grateful!

red beans and orzo

  • 2 cups of low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 1/3 cups orzo
  • heaping 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • heaping tsp of italian seasoning or herbes de provence
  • one can of red beans, rinsed and drained (use dried of you’re feeling extra special)
  • one ounce of proscuitto (de parma is best) cut into little strips (you can use ham if you must, or smoked turkey if you don’t eat pork)
  • 1/2 cup frozen or fresh sweat green peas
  • a good handful of fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • a generous handful of freshly grated parmesan cheese for each serving
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. bring broth and water to boil in a medium saucepan
  2. add orzo, herbs, onion and a generous amount of kosher salt and freshly ground pepper; reduce to a simmer and cook for twelve to fifteen minutes until most of the liquid is absorbed and the orzo is tender (do remember to stir every now and then)
  3. add beans and peas, and cook for a minute or two more to warm through
  4. stir in the prosciutto and serve with freshly grated parmesan on top – be comforted! 
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bright, crispy, buttery salmon

famous salmon

Does it matter that it’s April and it snowed this week in Atlanta?  No.  Is that going to keep me from craving the flavors and brightness of Spring?  No.  I persevere.  I pray for warm weather.  I eat springy food.  Actually, I eat this dish year round because it is so mind-blowingly delicious; however, the flavors are delightfully green and fresh and therefore appropriate for Spring.  In fact, this dish is what turned me on to salmon.  I’ve never really loved the fish; the strong flavor was not appealing to me.  Providence and this recipe lured me into trying it in my own kitchen.  What a wonderful day that was.  Now we eat salmon at least once a week in varied marvelous preparations that are also gorgeous and amazing. 

These flavors are astounding; you can’t imagine them until you’ve tasted for yourself.  The brightness of the peas with a little mint and garlic and the velvety, lemony brodetto sauce make the salmon taste like butter.  Fresh – beautiful – delicious.  I love to let the salmon get a crispy crust on the outside – so, so good.  This dish is a favorite with my husband and the regulars in our home; the sight of green peas evokes a silent hush and then a whispered question – “are we having the one with the peas?”  Oh, yes.  That’s the one. 

This recipe is from Giada DeLaurentis (bless her).  It serves four.  I love to serve it with roasted or grilled asparagus or squash and zucchini.  Please get in the kitchen and cook it immediately so that your world can be changed.

favorite salmon on peas with lemon brodetto

for the lemon brodetto:

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • the juice of two lemons (meyer lemons if you have them)
  • the zest of one lemon
  • 2 cups of low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp fresh mint leaves, chopped

for the pea puree:

  • 2 cups of frozen petite peas, thawed (do NOT cook – will alter the flavor of this dish)
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 1 clove of fresh garlic
  • kosher salt to taste (at least 1/2 tsp)
  • freshly ground black pepper (at least 1/2 tsp)
  • 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (no cheating with the fake stuff – a good wedge of fresh parmesan cheese is one of the best kitchen staples anyway)

salmon:

  • 4 fresh salmon filets, skinned (your butcher can skin the salmon for you)
  1. start the brodetto by warming the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat – add in the shallots and sautee until tender but not browned (7 minutes or less)
  2. add the lemon juice, zest and broth – bring to a simmer and keep warm, covered over low heat
  3. next, put thawed peas, 1/4 cup mint leaves, garlic, salt and pepper in a food processor, and pulse until well “chopped” and combined
  4. then, slowly pour the 1/2 cup of olive oil into the food processor while simultaneously pulsing to combine
  5. scoop the puree into a bowl and mix in the parmesan (taste it this point to test for salt) – set aside
  6. heat a grill plan or skillet over medium with some olive oil – season your salmon filets with some salt and pepper and put in the hot pan
  7. cook salmon about 3 to 4 minutes per side depending on thickness, only turning once (this will allow for a lovely brown crust to form)
  8. meanwhile, mix the remaining mint into the brodetto, saving a little bit to garnish the salmon
  9. serve with a few spoonfuls of brodetto on the plate, topped with a generous mound of pea puree, with the salmon crowning the top – sprinkle a little fresh mint, serve and become famous

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Cooking is an experience that I savor daily, no matter how busy I constantly seem to be.  It is one of the few times each day that I am actually living in the moment.  Instead of worrying, running through an endless task list, etc., I am simply thinking about what I am doing.  Actually, I am also greatly anticipating the meal that I will soon be eating, so I suppose I’m not totally in the moment… Cooking, EATING, preparing a meal for someone – this is truly a pleasure to me.  Pairing simple, whole ingredients together to make something gloriously delicious not only sustains my body, but it also sustains me in a holistic way that I can’t completely describe.  It just feels good.   

There is something very special about soup.  Why is cooking a giant pot of soup so satisfying?  Maybe for me it is because of the memories I have attached to the first bubbling batch of soup that I cooked soon after I got married.  The first cold weekend in Atlanta spurred a craving for minestrone.  After much slicing, dicing and patience, I tasted what would become my most favorite soup.  Ever since then, the first minestrone of the season has been a celebratory occasion.  It always takes me back to that lovely, chilly weekend.  Or perhaps it is because any good soup requires a very intentional process of pairing fresh and honest ingredients together to make something complex and lovely, yet simple in its ability to warm and comfort.  Ingredients that on their own are simple, overlooked even (um, celery), come together to make something fabulous.  A good soup takes a little bit of time; not only in the prep work, but also as you slowly add the various layers of flavor, as it simmers and comes together.  Soup is the ultimate slow food.  My need for instant gratification has me waiting anxiously until it is ready to be enjoyed; the anticipation and my impatience only adding to the gratification of that first, steaming bite.  Another point in favor of soup is that you usually have enough to enjoy it again later, discovering that it continues to improve in flavor as it waits for you in the fridge.  Warm it on the stove and your home is once again filled with the delicious fragrance of your efforts. 

This particular minestrone takes a little bit of time and effort, but I promise that it is worth it.  This recipe is the result of many additions, subtractions, and variations, and is the one I like best.  Prepare it exactly as written or make it your own, but please be sure and take time to enjoy the process – it is tremendously rewarding.  If you’re like me and you love on others with food, then consider this soup an extra portion of affection.  I lavish love on my husband by cooking a meal (or two, or three) for him everyday.  He almost always accepts my efforts and intentions with a passionate (albeit repetitive!) exclamation of, “this is the best thing I have ever put in my mouth!”  That alone will send me back to the kitchen, joyously, time and time again…       

minestrone

  • a generous glug of olive oil (maybe 2 tbsp)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2-3 carrots, peeled or scrubbed well, chopped
  • 2-3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 4-5 oz thinly sliced pancetta, chopped
  • 2-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large head of escarole (substitute chard if you can’t find), rinsed or soaked VERY well
  • 1 russet potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 14 oz can of diced tomatoes with juice
  • a sprig of fresh rosemary
  • 1 can of cannelinni beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cans of low sodium beef broth
  • a chunk of a parmesan cheese rind (don’t leave this out!  this flavor is what makes this soup)
  • 1 tbsp of tomato paste
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  1. heat the oil in a heavy, large pot over medium heat and add onions, garlic, carrots, celery, pancetta, and a pinch of salt and pepper, and sauté about 10 minutes until onions are translucent and veggies are just beginning to brown lightly
  2. add escarole and potato and sauté about 2 minutes, stirring well to combine and allow escarole to wilt
  3. add the can of tomatoes and the rosemary, and cook for about 10 more minutes, allowing tomatoes to break down some and release their juices
  4. meanwhile, blend about 3/4 cup of cannellini beans, tomato paste, and about 1/4 cup of beef broth in a blender or food processor
  5. add the puréed bean mixture, remaining broth and cheese rind to the pot and simmer, stirring occasionally until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes
  6. stir in the rest of the beans and cook about 2 minutes more
  7. serve with freshly grated parmesan and toasty, crusty garlic bread

garlic bread

  • 1 French or Italian baguette
  • 1 clove garlic
  • good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • freshly ground sea salt and pepper
  1. slice your bread and place under a broiler (watch it closely! it can burn in a matter of seconds) or in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes
  2. remove bread from the oven, and rub each piece generously with the garlic clove
  3. drizzle with olive oil, and season with freshly ground sea salt and pepper

 

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This is one of the best ways that you will EVER eat fish.  This is Giada’s recipe with some of my own modifications, and it is originally supposed to go with swordfish or white fish, but I put it on salmon all the time.  I make a batch of the pesto and then divide a few other portions into bags and freeze them for future dinners.  We have a great grill pan that goes over two burners; I put the fish on one end and some asparagus or squash and zuchinni on the other.  So easy and SO, so good.  If you don’t have a grill pan, obviously just use a regular sautee pan for the fish and roast the asparagus.  If I can use a meyer lemon and a tangerine in place of a regular lemon and orange, I always do; it really makes all the difference.

Fish with Citrus Pesto

  • one bunch of fresh, washed basil (about three cups torn – if you have less, no big deal)
  • 1/2 cup of toasted pine nuts (I just dry toast in a little pan on the stove, over medium, until warm and fragrant)
  • 1 or 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 orange or tangerine, zested and juiced
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • some freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup of grated parmesan (ONLY use freshly grated, as in you just grated it off of a block of cheese!)
  • a few boneless, skinless fish fillets
  1. add the basil, pine nuts, garlic, lemon zest and juice, orange zest and juice, salt and pepper to a food processor or blender, and pulse or blend until well chopped and combined
  2. slowly pour olive oil into the mixture as you continue to blend or process
  3. pour mixture into a bowl and stir in grated parmesan
  4. rub your fish fillets with olive oil and salt and pepper, and grill or pan sautee for about 3 minutes per side (turning only once) depending on the size of your fish, over medium to medium high heat (a delicious crust should develop on the meatier fish varieties)

GRILLED OR ROASTED ASPARAGUS

  • one bunch or more of asparagus, rinsed with woody ends snapped off
  • extra virgin olive oil (or garlic infused olive oil)
  • freshly ground sea salt and pepper or garlic salt
  1. if using a grill pan, simply give the asparagus a good douse in olive oil and seasonings, and put on the grill for about 10 minutes, turning periodically
  2. if roasting, give the asparagus a light coat of olive oil and seasonings, and roast for 20-25 minutes (depending on size of asparagus) at 425 degrees

If asparagus is very out of season or overly pricey, I often substitute summer squash and zuchinni.  I just slice them into quarter inch rounds, season them the same, but squeeze a bit of lemon on towards the end of either method of cooking.  They are especially tasty on the grill.  Finish them with a little bit of freshly grated parmesan.  If roasting, up your oven temperature just a little.

If you make this pesto ahead and freeze some, you can have dinner ready in less than 15 minutes.  Lovely.

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