Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Butternut Squash Gnocchi

The last time I made a gnocchi dish, I used store-bought gnocchi and said that I probably wouldn't be making it from scratch until I purchased a gnocchi board. Well, I still have yet to get the board, but I could not resist the recipe for homemade butternut squash gnocchi in this month's Sunset Magazine. I love the idea of replacing the potatoes traditionally used in gnocchi with different flavors and butternut squash is one of those delicious fall flavors that I'm seeing everywhere right now and am loving using in my own dishes. Coming soon, butternut squash soup with sage.

Butternut Squash Gnocchi
Adapted from Sunset Magazine October 2008
Serves 4 (Sunset says 8, but three of us finished off most of this)

1 butternut squash 2 -3 pounds
2 t salt
1 t pepper
1/2 t nutmeg
3 1/2 cups flour
3 T butter
1/2 parmesan
additional nutmeg and pepper for serving

Use a fork to poke holes in the butternut squash and microwave on high for 20 minutes (Sunset said 10 and this was definitely not enough for mine). When you cut the squash in half lengthwise after microwaving, remove the seeds and discard. You should be able to scrape out the flesh easily with a fork or spoon. If it is not tender enough, return the squash to the microwave and cook on high for a few more minutes at a time. Place 2 cups of butternut squash into a bowl with the salt, pepper and nutmeg and mix well. Add flour, 1 cup at a time, until it turns into a dough. Turn the dough out onto a flour surface and kneed, adding flour as necessary if too sticky. Cut the dough into four sections and roll out into ropes as shown below. Cut these ropes into small gnocchi pieces. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt liberally. Add gnocchi and cook for 5 - 6 minutes. Remove straight from the pot to a serving bowl with a slotted spoon. Toss gnocchi with butter and parmesan and add more seasoning to taste. Enjoy!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Baked Apples

There's something about the fall and baked apples. That warm cinnamony smell just warms up the whole house as the weather starts to get cool. I needed a quick dessert to go with a dinner I was making for the boyfriend and his younger brother. Baked apples are not only easy, but they take care of themselves in the oven while you focus on dinner. I served these with some vanilla ice cream and a cinnamon stick from the baking dish as a garnish.

Baked Apples
Adapted from Everyday Food October 2008
Serves 6

3 gala apples
1/4 cup brown sugar
juice from half a lemon
6 cinnamon sticks

Preheat oven to 450*
Mix the brown sugar, lemon juice and 1/4 cup of water together in a bowl. Slice each apple in half and core with a melon baller. Add the apples to the bowl and stir together with the brown sugar mixture. Place in a baking dish, cut-side down and place cinnamon sticks around the apples. Pour the remaining brown sugar mixture over the apples and cover the baking dish with foil. Place in the oven and cook for 20 minutes. Serve with vanilla ice cream (see below) and enjoy!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Mediterranean Pot Pie

Mmmmmmm. Pot Pie. I loved chicken pot pie when I was growing up. All the warm dough, mixed in with the gooey filling. So comforting back then and it still is. Back then I thought it only came in "chicken." Now I know that you can make pot pie using a whole variety of meats or by not using meat at all. I had a half pound of leftover, seasoned meat from the lamb kofta and decided to make a mediterranean themed version. To make it mediterranean I added fava beans to the lamb and used phyllo dough instead of puff pastry or pie crust. I'm hoping this will just be the first of many more gooey, comforting pot pies to come as the season turns cold.

Mediterranean Pot Pie
Makes 2 Pot Pies

1/2 recipe of lamb kofta meat
2 T olive oil, divided
6 scallions, white part chopped (green part reserved for another use)
1 cup chopped mushrooms
3/4 cup pre-cooked fava beans
1 1/4 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup flour
1 t chile powder
1 t cumin
1/4 cup parmesan
1 roll store-bought phyllo dough

Preheat oven to 375*
If frozen, allow phyllo dough to sit out and come to room temperature (you can do this in the fridge overnight or let it sit at room temperature for about two hours). Heat 1 T olive oil in a medium pan and saute the kofta meat. When almost finished cooking, add the scallions, mushrooms and fava beans and continue to saute. Mix the stock and flour together in a bowl and add to the pan. Allow to simmer gently for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the chile powder and cumin and remove from heat. Spray two individual-sized, oven-proof dishes with cooking spray and cut phyllo to fit over the top. Put half of the meat mixture in each dish and cover with the phyllo. Use the remaining 1 T olive oil to brush the top of the phyllo. Bake the pot pies for 10 minutes and then remove from the oven to sprinkle half the parmesan over each pie. Return them to the oven and cook for an additional 5 - 10 minutes until the phyllo is golden and crispy. Let cool slightly before serving and enjoy!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Kale Salad

There is a great restaurant in Los Angeles called Food that serves up a delicious kale salad. I'd never had anything like it and when I found out the dressing was made with cashews, I knew I had to try and recreate it at home. Rather than throw in a lot of additions, I wanted to keep it simply to kale on this batch so I could test out the flavor of the dressing. If you want to throw in some shredded carrot and broccoli, I'm sure it would be delicious. Even the boyfriend enjoyed this and kale is way too heathy an ingredient for him in most cases.

Kale Salad
Serves 4 as a side dish

1 bunch kale
1 cup roasted, salted cashew pieces
2 T lemon juice
1/2 cup water
1 garlic clove
1/4 t salt

Rinse the kale and chop into small, salad-sized pieces. Place the cashews in a food processor along with the lemon juice, garlic, salt and half of the water. Run the processor until a chunky paste starts to form. Add the remaining water to thin out the paste enough to a thick dressing consistency. Add the cashew dressing to the kale and mix thoroughly. Add any additional veggies that you want and enjoy!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Lamb Kofta

Meat on a stick. Could you get anything that says man food more than that? Well, in the case of my man, yes, you can. Make that meat lamb, mix it together with bread crumbs and lots of indian spices and then put it on a stick - that is food heaven for him. It's called lamb kofta to most others. It's another one of those dishes that he grew up on while spending time with his dad in England. We haven't been able to find good lamb kofta where we live so I finally bit the bullet and tried my hand at making it at home. I used traditional indian spices and a food processor helped make quick work of the recipe. This makes enough to form 12 skewers and serve 4 people. Since I'm usually only cooking for two, I hang on to the rest of the seasoned meat to make something else in the next day or two. Serve this with tzatiki and if you can't get ground lamb, you can follow these instructions for grinding it on your own (though most stores will do it for you if you ask).

Lamb Kofta
Serves 4

1 pound ground lamb
1 onion
1 cup bread crumbs
1 egg
2 garlic cloves
1/4 t cinnamon
1/4 t chile
1/2 t turmeric
1 t cumin
1/2 t salt
1/4 t pepper

Cut the onion into chunks and place in a food processor with the garlic. Process until the onion is diced. Add all of the spices and process until combined. Add the egg, bread crumbs and ground lamb and process until a sticky paste is formed, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Form enough of the lamb mixture around each skewer to cover the top third of the skewer. Refrigerate the skewers for 20 minutes to help them hold their shape. Heat a grill pan or BBQ and cook the skewers for 5 - 6 minutes on each side until cooked through. Serve with tzatziki and enjoy!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Apple Tarte Tatin

I'm a chocolate dessert kind of girl. If it's not chocolate, preferably dark chocolate, I usually can't be bothered. There are a few exceptions to this rule. One of those exceptions is an apple tarte tatin so when I was flipping through the latest issue of Cooking Light, enjoying all the fall flavors that are on their way, and I happened upon a recipe for tarte tatin, I knew I had to make it. The boyfriend has deemed this recipe a certain keeper and the smell that it filled my kitchen with as the sugar caramelized at the bottom of my cast iron pan is divine. 

Apple Tarte Tatin
Adapted from Cooking Light October 2008
Serves 6 - 8 depending on slice size

1 cup flour
1 T sugar
1/2 t salt
6 T unsalted butter
2 T ice water

3 pounds small gala apples, peeled, cored and cut into wedges
1 T lemon juice
1/4 t salt
2 T unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar

Place flour, sugar and salt for the crust in a food processor and pulse to combine. Cut 6 T butter into small pieces and add to the flour. Pulse until mixture becomes crumbly. Add ice water and pulse until clumps start to form. Dump out the contents of the food processor onto a piece of saran wrap, form a disc and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Mix the apples with the lemon juice and 1/4 t salt and set aside. Melt 2 T butter in a 9 1/2" cast-iron pan and add 3/4 cup sugar. Melt, stirring constantly, until the sugar and butter become liquid and start to caramelize. Remove the pan from heat and arrange half of the apple slices in a circle with the rounded side down. Cover with the remaining apple slices with their rounded sides up (as shown below). Return the pan to medium heat and cook for 15 minutes. Again, remove from the heat and let stand for 15 minutes while you preheat the oven to 400* and roll out the pie dough to a 10 - 11" circle. Cover the apple mixture with the dough, tucking the overhang down under the apples. Cut a few vents for steam and bake for 45 minutes. Let stand for a few minutes before inverting on a plate to serve, apple side up and enjoy!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Shrimp Stir Fry

I'm always looking for quick weeknight meals that can be made from scratch without too much time involved. I may be tired when I get home from work, but it doesn't mean I want to sacrifice taste or the joy of creating something out of the ingredients found in my fridge. It's just so much more gratifying than throwing some pre-made dish in the microwave for two minutes. That's not to say my microwave doesn't come into use, but something like this simple stir fry will save me from it on most nights. This recipe calls for mixed stir fry veggies. I use bok choy, sugar snap peas and snow peas, but it works just as well with whatever veggies you prefer or you happen to find in your fridge.

Shrimp Stir Fry
Serves 2

3 cups mixed stir fry veggies
8 oz shrimp
1 T toasted sesame oil
2 T honey
2 T flour
1 T rice wine vinegar
2 t soy sauce

Mix together the honey, flour, vinegar and soy sauce in a small bowl and set aside. Heat a wok over high heat and add the sesame oil to heat through. Add the veggies and stir fry for 3-4 minutes until beginning to soften. Add the shrimp and the soy mixture to the wok and stir fry until the shrimp is cooked through and the sauce has thickened into a nice sticky stir fry consistency. Serve up into two bowls and enjoy!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Thank You!

Some very lovely and talented food bloggers have passed on some very appreciated food blog awards to Apples and Butter over the past week. I wanted to make sure and take a chance to mention them here so you will be sure and check out their blogs if you haven't already. They are fantastic!

Nazarina over at Giddy Gastronome  and Nicole at Test Kitchen Recipes were sweet enough to pass on the I Love You This Much award. Thank you ladies!

And Hopie of Hopie's Kitchen, a very talented American blogger in Paris, gave Apples and Butter the Brilliante Weblog award. Thank you Hopie!

If you're not already familiar with them, make sure and check out these blogs!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Mom's Mustard Chicken

One of my favorite dishes growing up was my mom's mustard chicken. I used to love helping her make it. She would pull the chicken out of the pan and make a sauce right in the same pan. I didn't know it at the time, but she was teaching me how to make a pan sauce, the most basic sauce in cooking by my book. Make sure you don't use a nonstick pan on this one because you want to get those brown bits forming on the bottom of the pan - that's what makes a good pan sauce. I'm updating her recipe just a touch by pounding the chicken breasts flat and serving mixed greens on top. Delicious.

Mom's Mustard Chicken
Serves 2

2 chicken breasts
1 T canola or olive oil
3 T dijon
2 T grainy mustard
1/2 cup half and half
2 cups mixed greens
lemon vinaigrette (lemon juice, oil, salt and pepper)

Pound the chicken breasts flat between two sheets of saran wrap. Season lightly with salt. Heat the oil in a pan (not nonstick) and saute the chicken breasts until just done, then remove to a plate. Add the mustards and half and half to the pan and simmer gently for 2 - 3 minutes. Return chicken to the pan and heat through and cover with sauce. Dress the lettuce with the lemon vinaigrette. Place each piece of chicken on a plate and top each with half the mixed greens. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Marinated Goat Cheese

The boyfriend's mother recently gave me a beautiful new cookbook, Country Cooking of France, by Anne 
Willan. There are beautiful pictures, stories and recipes throughout the massive book, and while flipping through I decided on a simple goat cheese salad as the first recipe that I would try. The marinated goat cheese in the recipe needs two weeks to pull all the flavors together so it was time to get started on it. I swapped out oregano for the fresh thyme based on what was available in the garden. Use whatever flavors you enjoy most.

Marinated Goat Cheese
Adapted from Country Cooking of France

8 oz goat cheese log
3 bay leaves
4 dried chiles
2 sprigs oregano (or thyme)
2 t peppercorns
1 - 2 cups olive oil

Cut the goat cheese log into six even pieces. Pour a bit of olive oil on the bottom of a mason jar or whatever container you're using to store the cheese. Place one piece of the goat cheese in the jar followed by a little bit of olive oil, some of the peppercorns, a bay leaf and a chile. Place one sprig of oregano along the side of the jar and continue layering the remaining ingredients, being sure to pour a little olive oil between each layer of cheese. Store in the refrigerator for two weeks before using. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Breakfast Pasta AKA Gnocchi Carbonara

I always think of pasta carbonara as breakfast pasta. Bacon, eggs - sounds like breakfast to me. It's not traditionally made with gnocchi, but I hadn't had any of these guys in so long that I had to see what the switch up would taste like and it is definitely something that I will try again. While making homemade gnocchi is not to difficult and certainly fun as you roll the gnocchi up and down the traditional gnocchi boards, I have to admit that these are not homemade. Add that board to the Sur La Table wish list and soon we'll have a post on homemade gnocchi. In the meantime, this recipe calls for a package of store-bought gnocchi.

Breakfast Pasta
Serves 2

1 17 oz package gnocchi
6 oz bacon
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup parmesan plus more for serving
2 T half and half

Put the water on to boil and cut the bacon into a small dice. Cook the bacon in a small saute pan. Whisk the egg yolks, parmesan and half and half together in a small bowl. When the bacon is nice and crisp, remove to a towel-lined plate to drain. Cook gnocchi. When the gnocchi is finished (about 3 - 4 minutes), drain and return to the pot. Pour the egg mixture over the hot pasta and stir quickly as the heat from the pasta will begin cooking the eggs. Continue to stir while you add the drained bacon. Split the pasta between two bowls, sprinkle a little parmesan over each serving and enjoy!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Buttermilk Waffles

When I wake up in the morning, the first question that needs to be answered is sweet or savory? Once I cross that one off my list, I can get on with breakfast and then, the rest of my day. Today was most definitely a sweet day. Luckily I had just the recipe in mind.

When my recent issue of Everyday Food arrived, I began flipping through the pages and was immediately drawn to the buttermilk waffles and their ideas for toppings. I had never used walnuts on my waffles before and was excited to try it. This morning presented the perfect opportunity to try out the recipe. Here it is for you, in all its deliciousness. Sometimes the simplest and most classic of breakfasts are the best, don't you think?

Buttermilk Waffles
Adapted from Everyday Food September 2008

2 cups flour
2 T sugar
2 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
2 cups buttermilk
1 stick butter, melted
2 large eggs
canola spray

Heat waffle iron. Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside. Whisk buttermilk, eggs and butter together until combined. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet using a spatula until just combined, being sure not to over-mix. The batter will be lumpy. When the waffle iron is hot, spray lightly with canola oil and add the batter (each waffle iron takes a different amount of batter). Cook until golden, top with the walnut syrup and enjoy!

Walnut Topping

3/4 cups maple syrup
1/2 cup walnuts

Stir the ingredients in a small saucepan over low heat until warmed through.

Friday, September 12, 2008

I've Been Adopted

Kristen, the lovely blogger over at Dine and Dish, has coordinated a great program, Adopt a Blogger. The idea is that those who are new to the food blog world be "adopted" by those more seasoned bloggers who are willing to take the time to give us newbies a few pointers.

I was thrilled to learn that Kristen herself would be mentoring me. There will be more to come about the program in future posts and if you're interested in being a mentor or getting mentored, keep your eye on Dine and Dish for the next round.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Apple Pie Frozen Yogurt

Ever since I first discovered the delicious combination of Fage, sugar and an ice cream maker, I've been slightly obsessed with making frozen yogurt. I had some leftover baked apple from the other night so I decided to try out an apple pie flavor, using the baked apple as a mix-in. It was delicious and the boyfriend didn't even realize it was frozen yogurt. He thought it was real-deal ice cream. 

Apple Pie Frozen Yogurt

1 17.6 oz container of Fage
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 T sugar
3/4 t cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg

Mix the sugar and brown sugar into the Fage until all the sugar is dissolved. Add the cinnamon and nutmeg and mix until combined. Freeze the mixture according to your ice cream maker's directions and when almost finished, add the baked apple. Let the machine mix in the baked apple before removing to serve or freeze. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Veggie Stromboli

This is compromise food. It's dough filled with cheesy goodness for the boyfriend, but jam packed with veggies for me. We needed an afternoon snack and half of this was the perfect answer. A whole one can definitely serve as a meal for two people.

Veggie Stromboli
Serves 2

1 store-bought pizza dough
4 oz cubed black forest ham
1 cup cheese (your favorite melting cheese)
2 cups roasted veggies (I use Trader Joe's w/ balsamic sauce)

Preheat pizza stone in a 375* oven
If using frozen roasted vegetables like Trader Joe's, cook them according to package instructions, adding the cubed ham at the end to warm through. Roll out the pizza dough to a rectangle. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of cheese on one half of the rectangle, leaving a 1" border from the edge. Pile the roasted vegetables on top of the cheese and cover with the rest of the cheese. Fold the other half of the pizza dough over the filling and press the seams down with a fork to seal. Cut a few vents in the top to allow steam to escape and bake on the pizza stone for 35 - 40 minutes. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Baked Apple

I have an insatiable sweet tooth. Most of the time it's screaming for chocolate and my newest obsession, clotted cream ice cream. I don't know about yours, but my sweet tooth most certainly does not go away just because I'm trying to eat healthy. I find that if I ignore it, the cravings just get stronger and the distant voice in the back of my head that is asking for chocolate, turns into a persistent yell that will not stop until satisfied. My solution? Try to appease the voice when it's still a distant voice.

This baked apple dessert is pretty enough to fool me into thinking I'm eating a much richer dessert. Really, all that it takes is a touch of sugar and honey to get those apple pie flavors going on and I'm a happy girl. If I'm only making this for one, I'll still make enough for two and keep the leftover baked apple to use as a mix-in for apple pie frozen yogurt.

Baked Apple
Serves 2

6 apples
2 t lemon juice
1 T honey
1T + 2 t brown sugar
3/4 t cinnamon

Peel and core the apples. Cut one apple into very thin slices to use for the decorative top to the dish. Take the remaining five apples and cut into a small dice. Place all the apples in a bowl and add the lemon juice, honey, 1 T of brown sugar and cinnamon to the bowl. Stir to coat. Divide the diced apples between to oven safe dishes and top with with the decorative slices, arranged in a circle. Sprinkle 1 t of brown sugar over each dish. Place in the oven and bake for 30 - 35 minutes. Let cool slightly and enjoy! 
Preheat oven to 375*

Monday, September 8, 2008

BBQ Salmon with Sweet Corn Succotash

Trying to eat more veggies is something we could all probably put a little more effort into.  Sometimes I feel like I would have to constantly be putting vegetables in my mouth just to meet the recommended daily amount. One way I try to get a head start on a few of those servings is by making a simple succotash from a few fresh veggies. For this succotash I put together what may turn out to be the last of the cherry tomatoes from my garden with some corn, lima beans and green onion to make a bed for salmon glazed with sweet BBQ sauce.
Sweet Corn Succotash
Serves 2

3/4 cup corn kernels
3/4 cup sliced cherry tomatoes
2 green onions
3/4 cup lima beans

Slice the green onions (green and white parts) and stir in with the corn, tomatoes and lima beans. Sprinkle with a little salt and set aside while you make the salmon.

BBQ Salmon
Serves 2

2 salmon fillets (around 6 oz each)
2 T BBQ sauce
1 T olive oil

Rinse and dry the salmon fillets and sprinkle with a little salt. Heat the olive oil in a non-stick pan over medium high heat. Add the fillets to the pan flesh side down and cook for 3 - 4 minutes. Flip the fish over and cook for an additional 3 - 4 minutes. While the fish is cooking skin side down, use a pastry or marinade brush to glaze the flesh side with the BBQ sauce. Flip the fish over one more time to allow the BBQ sauce to caramelize just slightly. Remove from the heat and serve over the sweet corn succotash. Enjoy!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Lentil Salad

I got together with some very special women at my friend Lisa's house last week. She hosted us for dinner and along with an amazing, homemade gazpacho, made this lentil salad. After getting her permission to make the salad for Apples and Butter, she graciously shared the recipe with me and I learned that it's a recipe of her mother's. I love those handed down recipes because only the best survive!

I made a few changes to the recipe, certainly not because Lisa's needed any improvement (her's was truly perfect), but it is back-to-school healthy week so I left out the bacon and cut down on the amount of oil just a bit.

Lentil Salad
Serves 4 - 6

1 16 - 17 oz package of prepared lentils
1 cup cooked, diced ham
1/2 cup diced shallots (about 2)
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup sliced scallions (about 3-4)
1/2 cup diced bell pepper (1 small)
3 minced cloves garlic
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup balsamic

Combine the shallots (correction from scallions previously listed here), garlic and balsamic in a small bowl and set aside. Mix the lentils with the ham, parsley, scallions, bell pepper and stir. Mix in the balsamic mixture along with the olive oil and stir to coat. I couldn't resist diving in right away and having some, but I found that this salad got even better after all the flavors had a chance to meld. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Chicken Pinwheels

I didn't really start cooking until my senior year of college. My family can attest to this and would probably love to share stories of microwave Betty Crocker brownies cooked in the oven only to have the microwavable pan turn into a melted mess. What started me cooking was getting my first apartment alone. No roommates meant an empty fridge until I filled it and having to fill it meant I had to learn what to do with all of the things I brought home from the store.

This rolled up chicken breast is one of the first things I learned how to make. I think I first saw something similar in a basic chicken cookbook, but it has evolved a lot since that first recipe that was meant for the grill. My friend Jodi is starting to get into cooking and she asked me for some ideas of chicken dishes she could make. I dug back into what I liked to make when I first started cooking and immediately remembered this dish. It's pretty quick to make and was ready in no time after coming home from a day at work. I had the best intentions of making a homemade marinara sauce to go with it, but when I got home from the store, realized I had picked up the can of Marinara rather than the can of crushed tomatoes that was right next to it on the shelf. Hate it when that happens! So, for this one, just serve it on a bit of your favorite marinara (homemade or not).

Chicken Pinwheels
Serves 2

2 chicken breasts
4 T tomato paste
1/2 cup basil leaves
salt and pepper
2 T canola oil
1 cup marinara to serve (optional)

Preheat oven to 375*
Place each chicken breast between two sheets of plastic wrap and use a rolling pin to pound them down to an even thickness. Spread 2 T of tomato paste on each breast and lay the basil leaves over the paste. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper and roll up the breasts. Secure with kitchen twine and sprinkle the outside generously with salt and pepper. Heat the canola oil in an ovenproof pan over high heat. Add chicken rolls to the pan and sear on all sides. Place the pan in the oven until fully cooked, about ten minutes. Remove from the oven and let it sit for at least five minutes before slicing to reveal the pinwheel design inside. Serve each breast over a 1/2 cup of warmed marinara. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Salmon Skewers

Back to school for me means the return to normal routines and this year in particular, a return to the gym and some healthy eating...hopefully. 

Salmon is my favorite fish and it's a great choice because it packs a lot of flavor punch when you're trying to stay away from adding heavy sauces. Here I've coated a cut up salmon fillet with a yogurt marinade and grilled it up for a quick and easy dinner. I like to double skewer the meat so that it's easy to flip in the grill pan. These would also make a great do-ahead dish for a BBQ.

Salmon Skewers
Serves 2

2 salmon fillets around 6 oz each
4 oz Fage nonfat yogurt
1/4 t celery salt
1 t prepared horseradish
squeeze of lemon juice

Cut the salmon fillets into 1" chunks. Mix the yogurt, celery salt, horseradish and lemon juice together in a medium bowl. Add the salmon to the yogurt mixture and stir gently to coat. Coat a grill pan with cooking spray and place over a medium-high flame. While the pan is heating up, skewer the salmon, using 4 - 6 pieces per skewer. Grill for 4 - 5 minutes on each side and enjoy!

*I served the salmon with a really quick salad of spinach and brown rice. Simply prepare brown rice and while it is still steaming, place 2 cups of rice in a bowl with two big handfuls of spinach. Stir so that the heat from the rice, wilts the spinach. I also stirred in a 1/4 t of celery salt to mimic the flavor in the salmon.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Pesto Palmiers

This is a great variation on sweet, traditional palmiers. If you keep puff pastry in the freezer it's a breeze to whip these up. I made fresh pesto with basil from the garden but used walnuts this time instead of pine nuts for an additional variation.

Pesto Palmiers
Makes 1 Dozen

1 sheet puff pastry
1/2 cup pesto plus more for dipping

Preheat oven to 375*
Roll out the puff pastry to elongate slightly. Spread the pesto on the puff pastry. Starting from two opposite sides, roll the sheet onto itself until the two rolls meet in the middle. Slice roll into 1/2" slices and lay flat on a baking sheet covered with a silpat or cooking spray. Bake 22 - 24 minutes until turning golden. Let cool slightly before serving with remaining pesto as a dipping sauce. Enjoy!

Walnut Pesto
1/2 cup toasted walnut pieces
4 cups basil
1/4 cup parmesan
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 t salt

Add the walnuts, basil, parmesan and salt to a food processor and with the processor running, drizzle the olive oil through the feed tube. Once well-blended, taste and add additional oil to reach desired consistency.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Nibbles - Artichokes

There is always lots of food about for nibbling on and for turning into great dinners when we spend a family weekend together. I bring tomatoes and other fresh vegetables from the garden for salads, sandwiches and anything else we can pull together. My mom goes to the local bakery to make sure we are well-stocked with fresh croissants and other pastries. And being near the water, there is at least one trip out to track down fresh fish and other seafood. The local cheese shop provides many a pre-dinner nibble and we usually end up having at least one of our family staples like these artichokes with a mayonnaise dipping sauce. 

My mom has been preparing artichokes with this sauce my whole life. It may seem like an odd combination to some so I never tell people what it is when I serve it. I simply place it by the artichokes, let everyone dive in and fall in love with the taste and then giggle at their disbelief when they beg to know what went into the sauce. I usually have to make a second round to ensure there is enough left to finish off those last leaves. You can count on one artichoke per two people so with six of us in town, we prepared three.

Artichokes for Nibbling
Serves 6

3 artichokes
1 lemon
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 - 2 T soy sauce

Fill a medium pot 2/3 full with water. Cover and bring to a boil. While the water is heating up, slice the top 1/3 off each artichoke and use kitchen shears to trim all the remaining spiky tips off the leaves. Once the water is boiling, place the artichokes in the pot. Cut a lemon in half and squeeze the juice directly into the water. If desired, throw the used lemon halves in the pot with the artichokes. Cover and boil for 40 - 50 minutes until tender. Prepare the dipping sauce by stirring 1 T soy into the mayonnaise, only adding the additional T of soy if you think it needs more bite. When you think the artichokes are finished, pull off a few leaves from the middle of one and test. If finished, remove the artichokes to drain on paper towels for a minute or two and serve on a platter next to the dipping sauce. Put a bowl out for everyone to throw their spent leaves in and enjoy!