Archives for posts with tag: Fresh Herbs

A la greqce cauliflower 012

I was thinking of Thomas Keller when I was trying to figure out what to do with all of this lovely cauliflower I had in my refrigerator.  I usually roast cauliflower, or make a soup or just steam it, but I wanted to do something new.

Thomas Keller has a  recipe for vegetables a la grecque.in his cookbook Bouchon. I love bistro food and preparing food ahead of time to be eaten later.  This recipe is perfect for making a day ahead and enjoying it all week.

You gently cook veggies in a court bouillon with olive oil, aromatics and lemon juice.  After cooking you store the veggies in the refrigerator in the cooled cooking liquid and reduce the liquid and make a vinaigrette before serving.  Genius.

I tweaked the recipe a little bit and substituted  butter for olive oil and  white wine for lemon juice.  The result was amazing.  I have been eating little happy bites of cauliflower lightly scented with herbs and wine for days now.  Heavenly.

This is a wonderful recipe for a party since most of the work can be done up to 2 days ahead of time.

A la greqce cauliflower 010

Start by cutting up your cauliflower.

Feb 27 2013 019In a large pot add 2 cups water, 2 cups white wine, 1/4 cup butter and aromatic herbs.  I used thyme, sage and rosemary.  I also threw in a garlic clove sliced into rounds.  Season the water with 1 teaspoon sea salt.

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Bring water to simmer and add veggies.

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Cook until tender crisp.

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Rinse veggies in very cold running water to stop the cooking process.

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Cool the cooking liquid and store veggies in the cooled cooking liquid for up to 1 week in your refrigerator.

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I suggest you try both my method and then go out and buy the Bouchon cookbook and try Thomas’ recipe as well.  I am sure I will be making this dish all summer when it is hot because the veggies, right out of the fridge are cool and packed with flavor.

Yesterday was bright and sunny when I woke up.  There was a bit of a chill in the air but overall it was sunny and clear.

I went up to the lodge and got the grill ready.  My mother in law, sister-in-law and nephew were coming up for Sunday brunch.

It was a perfect spring day.  I was even thinking we may set up a table on the deck and eat outside.  Was I wrong.   Weather can change fast in the mountains.

I starting grilling and decided to take some pictures from the deck.

It was warm and sunny.  Next thing I know I spot a white mass out over one of the hills.  It almost looked like smoke.

As the mass began to move and drift toward the lodge I realized the it was bringing a chilly wind.  It began to spread out and when it reached the lodge I realized it was snow.

Snow….in May.  Well I do live in the Rocky Mountains.

So here I am standing on the deck in cut offs and sandals grilling in the snow.  It made me laugh because almost every time I pull out the grill it starts raining.  I should grill more often since we are having a dry spring.

Thankfully I was done grilling and could move in a light the fireplace and relax with my family.

Ok, so back to the food….I was planning on featuring a summer salad.  This is a salad that we make nearly everyday during the summer.

But how can I feature a salad when it is snowing?  Shouldn’t I feature a stew or soup?  Well since the rest of the country is not blanketed in snow I will go ahead with my summer salad.  It kept snowing all night.  Most of the snow melted on impact but we got some great precipitation that was needed.

In the warm spring and summer months my  family enjoys salads nearly every dinner.  Sliced ripe red tomatoes, rich and creamy cheese, and bright fresh herbs is our favorite combination.

This salad is made with tomatoes (Compari vine ripe tomatoes from Costco), fresh mozzarella, balsamic, extra virgin olive oil and fresh thyme.

Fresh Tomato, Mozzarella and Balsamic Salad

The key to getting the best flavor from this salad is to thinly slice the mozzarella which can be done if you freeze it for about half an hour or until slightly firm but not hard.  With the thinner mozzarella you can marinate it with balsamic and olive oil and the flavor will permeate the creamy cheese.

8-12 vine ripe compari tomatoes (I used the tomatoes from our local Costco but the salad is best with fresh tomatoes in season)

1 lb fresh mozzarella ( I used Bel Gioioso brand)

1/4 cup good balsamic vinegar (I used my trusty Kirkland Signature Brand from Costco, yes I know I love Costco..)

1/4 cup good extra virgin olive oil

1 garlic clove minced finely

1 tsp fresh thyme leaves (you can also use basil, oregano or mint)

Sea salt and pepper to taste

Slice your mozzarella thinly and marinate with balsamic, olive oil and garlic.  Let marinate for at least 1 hour and up to 3 hours in your refrigerator. 

Slice tomatoes and arrange tomatoes, mozzarella with marinade and fresh herbs on a plate.  Drizzle a bit more vinegar and olive oil and top with fresh herbs.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.   Serve as a first course with crusty fresh-baked bread or as a side dish with a nice piece of grilled meat.

Here are a few variations on this salad:

Fresh tomato, feta cheese, mint and kalamata olives

Fresh tomato, feta cheese, oregano and kalamata olives

Fresh tomato, blue cheese and bacon and arugula

Fresh tomato, brie cheese and pancetta

More great tomato salad recipes:

This one from Jamie Oliver. (I just love how he uses tomatoes of different sizes and shapes.)

Or try this one from Martha.

Here is Elsies’ beautiful version of the tomato mozzarella combo.

I enjoy to just sitting and watching my tomato starts and dream that this season will be long enough for us to actually harvest some tomatoes.  Last year our crops froze before they had a chance to ripen.  We are much more prepared this year.  Wish me luck!

If I am not successful I will have the Boulder Farmers Market at my disposal and in late summer the farmers in the area will have a dizzying array of tomatoes to choose from.

Now I will resume my fresh tomato dreams…..

This is my math equation for the day.  Chilled to the bone=Cream of Chicken Soup.  Since the home school Hubs and kids are always working on math when I get home from work I figured I needed my own math equation.

As I was walking home from work I became chilled to the bone.  It did not look very cold outside but once I started my trek home I realized that it was indeed quite cold. 

When I hit my front door I had the whole body shivers.  You know the ones where your whole body shakes and the shivers have taken control of you and you just kind of rattle.

I discard my shoes and go directly to the freezer and pulled out some frozen chicken breasts.  These are the kind that are quick frozen and can be baked without de-frosting.  I turned on the oven to 425 degrees and let it warm up. I baked the chicken after giving it a good covering of olive oil, italian seasonings, sea salt and cracked pepper and a dash of lemon juice.  While the oven was warming I assembled and diced celery, carrots and onions.  Fresh garlic, parsley, thyme and heavy cream were also ready on the counter.  I grabbed some of my most yummy ever chicken stock from the fridge.  Deep in color and thick with flavor this a chicken stock that I had simmering over night on thursday and then let it simmer most of the next day.

I sautéed my vegetable and added the chicken, stock, lemon juice, heavy cream and seasoned to taste.   The addition of a little bit of lemon juice brightens the flavor of the soup. 

The finished soup was lightly creamy, warm and satisfying.  When I sat down to enjoy my soup I felt an overwhelming sense of satisfaction that can only come from home-made chicken soup. 

I will thicken the rest of the soup and add some biscuits because the Hubs was saying just this week he wanted some chicken and biscuits….Dinner for tomorrow is done too!

Cream of Chicken Soup

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1 onion, chopped

6 celery ribs, chopped

3 carrots, chopped

8 cups chicken stock

1 tbs fresh parsley

1 tbs fresh thyme

3 cups roasted chicken, diced

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 tbs lemon juice

Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions

Sauté veggies with butter in a large pot. 

Pour over the chicken stock and simmer for about 20 minutes.

Stir in the chicken and simmer for another 5 minutes.

Stir in heavy cream, lemon juice, fresh herbs and season to taste.

 

When my husband and I were first married we lived  on the coast of California right outside of Monterey.  What a terrible place to live!  Great weather,  world-class restaurants, stunning ocean beaches all within 10 miles.  This is where most of the strawberries, garlic, lettuce and artichokes are grown that people enjoy all over the United States.  There were 2, year around farmers markets and dozens of organic farms within a 1/2 an hour drive. 

I worked for a couple of years at a wharf side seafood restaurant in Monterey.  It seemed that after going to see all of the wonderful fish at the aquarium at Monterey Bay people wanted to eat fish.  While working in a seafood restaurants it was  one of the first times in my life where I ate fish regularly.  Not just at  the restaurant I worked at but some of the other restaurants in the area.  I can remember having a cioppino in a little French restaurant with only 6 tables that tasted of the sea, sunshine and fresh fields.  We loved to go to a little clam chowder shack and have clam chowder in freshly baked bread bowls.  Not the kind you find in chain restaurants but real freshly baked tangy, tender and crunchy crusted sourdough.  I can recall a calamari dish that I can honestly claim had the most tender and flavorful calamari I have ever eaten.  I frankly have stopped ordering calamari at restaurants because it never lives up to my expectations after the calamari from Monterey Bay.  One evening when my husband and I were driving home late  I looked out over the bay and it was beautifully lit with little white lights.  Those were the calamari boats out fishing in the early hours of the morning.  It was one of the most captivating sights I have ever seen. 

We do not eat enough fish in my household these days.   I have been reading about sustainability issues and seafood and am committed to serving, to my family, more fresh fish that is sustainably farmed.  This brings me back to the Monterey Bay Aquarium and its wonderful website on sustainable fish and seafood.  You can download and print and fish and seafood buyers guide that will tell you which fish to choose for the most sustainable choice.  The Seafood and Fish Buyers Guild.

I have found out, from the seafood buyers guide, that the flounder that I  have purchased from Whole Foods is actually a recommended substitute but not the most sustainable choice.  I am now downloading the app from the Monterey Bay Aquarium so that I can know while at the store what is the best choice.

Tonight my fish entrée features flounder.  This mild tasting white fish has a sweet flavor.  If you do not like the “fishy” tasting fish then flounder is a good choice.  It has such a mild flavor that it will take on the flavors of the added ingredients.  I added some sweet grape tomatoes, sweet sun burst tomatoes, fresh thyme, rosemary, lemon juice and  minced shallots and just piled it all on top with a good drizzle of olive oil and roasted it in the oven on broil.  This is similar to the way I prepared Chicken with Feta, Tomatoes, Kalamata Olives and Fresh Herbs.

The best thing about cooking fish for dinner is it cooks quickly.  This dish took about 10 minutes to throw together and roasted in the oven on broil for 10 minutes. 

Flounder is a lean fish so you need to cook it quickly and with liquid.  The juices from the tomatoes, lemon juice and olive oil help keep the fish moist during broiling and will mix with the juice released from the fish for a light and flavorful sauce. 

Flounder with Fresh Herbs, Lemon, Tomatoes and Shallots

4 Flounder Fillets

8-10 Grape Tomatoes sliced in half lengthwise

8-10 Sun Burst Tomatoes sliced in half lengthwise

1/2 Shallot Minced

6-8 Sprigs Fresh Thyme minced

2 Sprigs Fresh Rosemary minced

2 TBS Fresh Lemon Juice

2 TBS Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Pre-heat oven to broil or as high as you can set it.  I used broil setting on high.  Spread 1 TBS olive oil on bottom of baking dish.  Lay fish in a single layer on top of oil and season with sea salt and pepper.  Pour over lemon juice and top with shallots, herbs and tomatoes.  Top with remaining olive oil.  Bake for 10 minutes or until fish is completely white and flakes apart easily.

Since I have been blogging on tender meat recently I thought this recipe on salt roasted pork tenderloin was perfect.  If you have not salt roasted meat before this is a perfect recipe to start with.  Only a few ingredients and short cooking time result in a tender and delicious roast. 

I am very fond of pork tenderloin.  It is already a tender cut with great flavor and low fat but this recipe ensures that it stays very tender during cooking.   I posted a recipe on salt roasted sweet potatoes and Lula from Lula Harp commented and told me about her salt roasted pork tenderloin.  I had to try her recipe.  One of the problems with this recipe is the meat came out so good my family and friends ate it all before I had a chance to photograph the finished product.  I will update this post later with a photo of the finished product after I make this dish again. 

Salt Roasted Pork Tenderloin

inspired by Lula Harp

3 lbs of sea salt, kosher salt or regular idonized salt (I used sea salt)

Sprigs of fresh herbs such as oregano, parsley, thyme, rosemary (I used rosemary, thyme and parsley)

1 (2) lb Pork Tenderloin

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.  Mix salt and about 3-4 tablespoons water in a bowl.  Lay out a bed of the moist salt in a roasting pan.  Lay about 1/2 of your fresh herbs on the salt bed.  Put you tenderloin on top of herbs and lay remaining herbs of top of tenderloin.

Cover with remaining salt until tenderloin is encased in a bed of salt. 

As you can see in the picture I made 4 tenderloins.  The recipe is written for 1 tenderloin which is what most sane people would cook. 

Bake in hot oven for 1/2 hour or until internal read thermometer reads 160 degrees.

Let tenderloin rest for five minutes and knock of salt crust.  I rinsed my meat a bit in warm water because I could not get all of the salt off.  It was a bit salty but very tasty.  We used an asian ginger glaze to coat the meat and served with rice and veg.

More links on salt roasting…

“Salt Roasted Sweet Potatoes”-Marinating Online

“Salt Roasting-I’ts White Magic”-Los Angeles Times

“How to Salt Roast”-Serious Eats

“Salt Roasting Basics”-D’Artagnan

This week I have been featuring how to cook tender and flavorful chicken with bone-less, skin on chicken breast.  My daughter Maddy loves Chicken Cordon Bleu.  I wanted to make a healthier and lighter version for her with the same salty ham and cheese combo in a white meat chicken breast filet.  I used the first steps in the last two recipes but ended up rolling the filling into the breast, tying it with kitchen twine and baking it.  The result was outstanding. 

Super Tender and Healthy Chicken Cordon Bleu

Gluten Free, Low Carb and Low Fat

2 boneless skin on chicken breasts

4 oz good ham such as Cure 81

8 oz Gruyère cheese or Swiss cheese

 Sprigs of fresh thyme, rosemary or sage or all 3

Kitchen Twine

Olive Oil

Sea Salt and Cracked Pepper

1.  Pan sear chicken breast skin side down in a hot pan for 3-4 minutes and pre-heat oven to 425 degrees.

2.  Dice ham and cheese and clean and cut herbs.

3.  Lay chicken breast skin side down on a cutting board with the kitchen twin underneath lengthwise and pile cheese, ham and herbs on the skin less side.

4.  Roll chicken breast and tie with twine.  This takes a little time and is just a tad bit difficult but have patience it is worth it.  Spread a small amount of oil oil on the bottom of your baking pan so that the chicken does not stick.

5.  Arrange chicken breasts in pan and bake for 20-25 minutes or until skin is crispy and internal thermometer reads 160 in this thickest part of the chicken.  Do not insert thermometer into ham and cheese center but off to this side in the chicken meat for best results.

Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

 

 

 

 

One of my favorite flavor combinations is the classic greek combination of feta cheese, lemon and kalamata olives.  I am continuing on from my last post on great ways to cook chicken breasts so that they are moist, flavorful and tender.

Here is an excerpt from that post.

The most important part of this recipe is that you are flavoring and cooking the breast meat without having it make direct contact with high heat surfaces.    This ensures success in keeping the meat tender and moist.  First I season the chicken with salt and pepper and pan sear the skin of the chicken breast only and do not sear the skin less side.

Just a quick 3-4 minute sear to add some color to the fat side of the chicken and start the cooking process.  Then lay the chicken on a bed of fresh Meyer lemons and herbs.  This keeps the bottom side of the chicken from making contact with the hot pan in the oven, infuses the meat with flavor during baking and allow the skin up side to get crispy and tasty.

Using this idea I have added red onions to the pan along with lemon and herbs.

This dish is a wonderful gluten free, low carb or just plain healthy way to enjoy chicken that is moist, flavorful and tender.

Super Tender and Moist Chicken with Kalamata Olives, Feta and Fresh Tomato

Low Carb, Gluten Free and Low Fat

2 Boneless Skin-on Chicken Breasts

15 Kalamata Olives pits removed

2 Teaspoons Olive Olive plus more for the pan

1 large sliced Red Onion

1 sliced fresh Meyer Lemon

Fresh Thyme, Rosemary and Oregano about 3 sprigs each

Good Feta Cheese about 1/2 Cup

Sweet Grape Tomatoes about 1 Cup

Sea Salt and Cracked Black Pepper to taste.

1.  Add sliced onions, lemon and 1/2 of the fresh herbs to baking dish.  Spread 1 teaspoon olive oil spread inside the baking dish.  You only need to put oil in the center where you will place the onions and olives and not over the entire dish.

2.  Pan sear the chicken breasts skin side down in a hot pan for 3-4 minutes.  Do not sear the side without skin.

3.  Arrange the chicken breasts skin side up on top of the onion, lemon and herb mixture.

4.  Top chicken with olives, feta, tomato and fresh herbs.

5.  Bake at 425 degrees until internal read thermometer reads 160.

6.  Let rest for 4-5 minutes and remove skin before serving.

I think you will love the way the tomatoes get all sweet and jammy and the cheese melts and starts to brown.  The bright flavors of the lemon and fresh herbs along with the salty cheese and olives complimented by the sweet onions and tomatoes make this a hit with my family and clients.

There are certain dishes that make me wish I had smell-a-vision on my blog.  This is one of them. I am about 45 minutes into the cooking process of this braise and the house smells heavenly.  The garlic, beef, wine and onions are creating an aroma that is truly beautiful.  Pot roast is much like any other large piece of tough meat.  You need to have patience with it and let it cook slowly for a long time.

We had a big snow storm and stayed inside reading, watching movies and sitting in front of the fire-place.  My son and I played games and I watched some cartoons with him.  It was very relaxing.  The roast cooked away slowly in the oven filling the house with its yummy aroma.

Today we are going to strap on some snow shoes and venture out into the forest to find a Christmas Tree.  The leftover pot roast will be great after an afternoon snow shoeing.

I like to use chuck eye roasts best when making pot roast but this time I used a chuck blade roast.  This cut also works well I just prefer the chuck eye since it has less fat.  Fat is important in this dish and the chuck eye roast has plenty of fat and marbling but not as much as the blade roast.

Red Wine Pot Roast

1  4-5 lbs Chuck Roast

1-2 tablespoons Canola Oil

Sea Salt and Pepper

1 medium Onion chopped in a medium dice

4 Small Carrots chopped in a medium dice

4 Celery Stalks chopped in a medium dice

2 Cloves Garlic minced finely

3-4 Cups Red Wine (I like to use a lot of wine but stock can be substituted)

4 Cups Chicken Stock (do not use chicken broth with salt)

4 Stems each of fresh Thyme and Rosemary

8-12 Small Red Potatoes cut in half

Instructions:

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

In a heavy bottom dutch oven or pan add canola oil and let the pan get hot.  While pan is heating season meat on both sides with salt and pepper.  Brown meat on all side is the hot pan.  Be careful when adding meat to hot pan so you do not get splattered.

When meat is browned on all sides add chicken stock, garlic, herb sprigs, onions and red wine.  Cover and put in your oven at 350 degrees.

Let this braise for about 2 hours checking to make sure all of the liquid has not evaporated.  Add more stock and red wine if needed to keep liquid half way up the meat.

Check internal temperature of meat.  When temperature reaches 210 degrees add carrots, celery and potatoes.  Braise for another 1 to 1 1/2 hours until meat is tender and falls apart easily.

Shred beef with fork and season if needed.  I usually will mash up the potatoes with a fork and serve the shredded beef over potatoes with the veggies on the side and pour juice over the whole plate.

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