When it comes to summer grilling...veggies are MUST. I think all grilled veggies are delicious, but my top two
would have to be eggplant and zucchini.
GRILLED ZUCCHINI & EGGPLANT
3 large zucchini, sliced roughly 1/4-inch thick
TIP: cut the zucchini in half (width wise) so it's easier to make slices that are easier to manage on the grill
1 large eggplant, sliced in 1/2-inch rounds
1/4 c fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
3 - 4 garlic cloves sliced
Toss everything well and put in a ziploc bag or container to marinate at room temperature for a couple hours.
These don't take long to cook on a heated grill. They are ready to flip when they have some nice grill marks going.
Set aside on a plate and tent with foil until the rest of your meal is ready.
Of course this could easily be a main course as well!
A perfectly grilled rare steak and baked potato go very nicely with these vegetables ;-)
The other day at the market I saw so many stands with piles of asparagus. After having really fresh asparagus it's hard to buy it anywhere else. I also visited my favorite fisherman Seatuck Fish Company. They always have great fish and shellfish. This time I got a few scallops. And then came my brilliant idea of seared scallops with an asparagus salad.
Looking through my refrigerator, I also found some rhubarb and an orange....which became the "sauce" I put on my scallops.
SHAVED ASPARAGUS SALAD
6 asparagus stalks, bottoms trimmed and "shaved" with a mandolin or vegetable peeler
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp grated pecorino romano (I left it out this time and was still very good)
fresh cracked salt and pepper
Combine everything in a medium sized bowl.
Toss to combine, using your hands, and massage the flavors into the asparagus a little.
Set aside and let marinate for at least 30 minutes.
SCALLOPS WITH ORANGE & RHUBARB
4 large diver scallops
1/2 navel orange, diced
2 stalks rhubarb, diced
white wine (about 1/2 - 3/4 cup)
fresh cracked salt and pepper
Pat the scallops dry and season both sides with fresh cracked salt and pepper.
In a skillet simmer the orange and rhubarb, stirring occasionally. Smash the orange a little with the back of the spoon so you get the juices and both the orange and rhubarb will start to break down.
Turn the heat up to a medium/high heat and cook for about 5 more minutes. Remove the orange/rhubarb compote from the pan and set aside.
Place the seasons scallops in the pan and sear them about 1 minute per side. Add the white wine and bring to a boil for 1 minute.
Cover and reduce the heat to a simmer until scallops are just cooked through.
*note - a good way to tell if a scallop is cooked through...little "cracks" will form on the flat part and a little on the sides. Scallops do not take long to cook at all!
This salad is super simple and satisfying. I became obsessed on my visit to Greece many years ago. They would have chunks of fresh cucumber and tomato with sliced red onion and green bell pepper and a huge chunk of feta on top with oregano. You would often get to dress it yourself with olive oil and red wine vinegar.
1 large tomato, diced
1 cucumber, peeled and diced
thin sliced red onion to taste
crumbled or chunk full fat feta (no skimping here)
crumbled - about 1/4 - 1/2 cup; chunk - 1/2inch "slab"
1 tbsp dried oregano
red wine vinegar
Combine the tomato, cucumber and red onion in a large salad bowl.
Top with the feta and then sprinkle the dried oregano all over.
Drizzle with olive oil and red wine vinegar to your taste. (I did 2 tbsp olive oil and 1/2 tbsp red wine vinegar)
Toss to combine.
The start of the summer! Wow did we get lucky with the beautiful weather this weekend. Everyone was out and about in the city. I started my weekend with a trip to the farmers' market in Union Square. It was definitely bustling! Along the way I saw so many fruit stands overflowing with fruits and vegetables. I couldn't resist the mango.
At the market, I stopped by my favorite vegetable stand and was immediately overcome by the delicious aroma of cilantro. Fresh herbs really get the senses and my mind going on what to cook next. Right when I saw it I knew I was making a salsa to bring to my friend's bbq later that day. I also picked up some asparagus to put in a pasta salad. There is nothing better than relaxing with friends on an over-sized, amazing patio having some good food and beverage.
2 ripe mango, diced
2 tbsp minced red onion
1 - 2 limes, juiced (2 - 3 tbsp lime juice)
1 - 2 c chopped cilantro
1/4 -inch slice fresh jalapeño, minced
fresh cracked salt to taste
Combine all ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Mix well. Cover the salsa and set aside at room temperature for 30 mins to an hour before serving.
PESTO PASTA SALAD
You can use any pesto you like in this salad. I had leftover ramp pesto and garlic scape pesto which worked perfectly with my roasted asparagus, grape tomatoes, and fresh spinach.
1 lb fusili/rotini pasta
1/2 lb asparagus, cut into bite sized pieces
10 - 12 (a handful) grape tomatoes, quartered
1 c sliced spinach
4 tbsp pesto
fresh cracked salt
Preheat the oven to 425º. Toss the cut asparagus with olive until just coated and spread out on a baking sheet. Top with a little fresh cracked salt. Roast for about 8 minutes.
Prepare the rest of your vegetables and put them all in a large bowl along with the pesto. Set aside.
Cook the pasta, in well salted water, according to the instructions on the package (go for al dente).
When the asparagus is just tender (roughly 8 minutes) add it to the bowl of vegetables - while still hot.
Drain the pasta and add it to your bowl. The heat from the pasta will help loosen up the pesto and breakdown the tomatoes a little. Top with a tablespoon or two of olive oil and some fresh cracked salt. Mix well and set aside.
This salad is best served at room temperature.
*note - you can also add some of the starchy/salty pasta water to your bowl of veggies/pesto. Start with a couple tablespoons.
Southern BBQ is great year round, but for some reason I eat it mainly in the warmer months. I can not speak to the recipe for the BBQ sauce or the pork butt, as it is a big secret, but I can say it's a weekend type of dinner to prepare. The side dishes are always my favorite part of these meals. This time I made cucumber salad, baked beans and thankfully found enough ingredients in the kitchen for a mac n cheese.
CUCUMBER SALAD (best made a day ahead)
2 large cucumber, sliced thin
1/4 sweet white onion, sliced thin
equal amounts (1/4 cup):
*optional: a dash of sesame oil
MAC N CHEESE
1 pound elbows or fusili pasta
2 cups shredded cheeses, its best mixed with 2 - 3 kinds (cheddar, gruyere, asiago, gouda, havarti, monteray jack)
1 cup fat-free milk
1 tbsp flour
2 tbsp butter
fresh cracked pepper
Preheat oven to 350º
Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the package.
In a medium pot or saucepan melt the butter on a low to medium heat.
Add the flour stirring constantly until the flour has formed a thicker consistency and slightly darker in color.
Slowly add the milk, stirring constantly. Continue to mix until the mixture is smooth.
Remove from the heat and add the cheese. Keep stirring until most of the cheese is melted.
Add the cooked pasta to the cheese sauce and toss to combine.
Pour the pasta/cheese mixture into an 8 x 8 casserole dish and bake for about 30 minutes or until the top is slightly browned/crisp and the cheese is bubbling on the edges.
*optional: can top with panko and/or paprika before putting in the oven
1 22 oz can of your favorite baked beans
2 tbsp ketchup
2 tbsp spicy brown mustard
2 tbsp brown sugar or maple syrup
4 slices of un-cooked bacon
Preheat the oven to 350º
Mix beans, ketchup, mustard and brown sugar (or maple syrup) in a medium sized casserole dish. Lay 4 strips of bacon on top (not overlapping each other). Cook until the baked is cooked through, about 25-30minutes.
Do you ever get a craving for a big crunchy salad? Well I do! I created this salad when I first started making cauliflower "rice". It's a take on heavier rice salad bowls I have had out a few times. If you don't eat shrimp, you can easily swap it out for chicken or even a firm tofu.
CILANTRO/LIME CAULIFLOWER RICE SALAD
1 romaine heart, chopped into bite sized pieces
1/2 head cauliflower, chopped
8-10 medium cooked shrimp, cut in half
1/2 c minced cilantro
3-4 tbsp fresh lime juice
1/2 c black bean/corn salsa (recipe below)
fresh cracked salt and pepper
To start, place chopped cauliflower into a food processor and pulse until it looks like little grains of rice.
In a medium sized bowl combine "riced" cauliflower, cilantro, lime juice and fresh cracked salt and pepper.
Toss until well combined. Let stand for at least 30 minutes before serving.
Combine the romaine, black bean/corn salsa and shrimp in a medium - large sized bowl. Toss with 1 - 2 tbsp of olive oil. Add 1/2 cup of the lime/cilantro cauliflower "rice" and enjoy!
BLACK BEAN & CORN SALSA
1 15 oz can black beans, rinsed/drained
1 15 oz can yellow corn, rinsed/drained
2 tbsp minced red onion
1/2 c minced cilantro
3 tbsp fresh lime juice
fresh cracked salt
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and let sit for 30-34 minutes before serving.
How do you say no to a free place to stay in the center of Barcelona with a good friend?? You DON'T! My friend and her cousin did an apartment swap (Barcelona/NYC) and I was lucky enough to take part. It was my first time to Spain and I fell in love! I really enjoyed the cafe lifestyle in the city and their beautiful beaches a quick metro ride away from our place.
We stayed for about two weeks last August. Everyday I would start with an espresso at the café right nextdoor, and then we would head off to whatever area we decided to explore that day. We basically ate our way around the city sampling jamon, tapas and seafood any chance we got! We loved the jamon, cuttlefish and octopus especially. All of our meals were so flavorful, delicious and made just a few ingredients...we were in heaven!
One night we decided to stay in, cook and enjoy the beautiful terrace. My friend prepared our manchengo and chorizo appetizer while I cooked up some blistered shisito peppers, tomato and red onion salad, and a warm octopus salad with chickpeas, roasted asparagus, Spanish paprika and of course olive oil. It was a delicious evening all around.
In Spain you can find octopus everywhere, whether it be vacuum packed, frozen or often fresh at the markets. Here in NYC it's fairly common to find it fully cooked and frozen as well as fresh at fish markets. Any variety will work fine, just depends on what is available near you. I found some cooked octopus at an Asian grocery for this recipe.
WARM OCTOPUS SALAD WITH ASPARAGUS AND CHICKPEAS
1/2 pound cooked octopus, sliced in 1/2" rounds
1/2 can chickpeas, drained/rinsed
5-6 asparagus spears, bite sized pieces
paprika (preferably spanish paprika)
fresh cracked salt and pepper
Top the room temperature sliced octopus with paprika, to taste and set aside.
Toss the cut asparagus with 1 tbsp olive oil and either sauté at a medium heat for 1-2 minutes and add the chickpeas.
Continue to cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring often.
Add the octopus at the end only for 1 or 2 minutes, just to heat it slightly.
Remove from the heat and toss in a medium sized bowl with additional olive oil (about 2 tbsps).
Top with fresh cracked salt and pepper.
When the weather gets warmer I always get excited for lighter and refreshing food and wine. There is nothing like a cool,
crisp glass of rosé on a nice spring evening. The other day I made myself a refreshing and light dinner to go with that rosé. I defrosted one of my turkey burgers and made a white bean, tomato and mozzarella salad.
[ For the turkey burgers, I combined ground turkey, parsley, granulated garlic, salt and pepper, and formed them into patties.
I wrapped each one individually and put them in the freezer. They keep for a while! Perfect to have around for a quick and healthy dinner. ]
While my turkey burger was defrosting I mixed up the bean salad. I was inspired to make this salad when I saw some little fresh mozzarella balls at the market. In this recipe I also added some celery simply because I saw it my vegetable drawer while I was prepping. It worked very nicely. Pair it all with a light, crisp glass of rosé, and there's nothing better.
WHITE BEAN, TOMATO, MOZZARELLA SALAD
1 can white cannelini beans
1 small tomato, diced
8 - 10 little fresh mozzarella balls, quartered (or more if you like)
2 stalks of celery, sliced
2 - 3 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp red wine vinegar
fresh cracked salt and pepper to taste
Drain the beans and rinse well. Combine all ingredients in a medium sized bowl and always adjust to your taste! I tend to go lighter on the salt. This salad will keep in the refrigerator for a few days. It's best to eat at room temperature.
Ramps (also known as wild leeks) are all the rage right now. They are only harvested from mid March through April and there is a limited supply. I first came across these little delicacies at the markets a few years ago and became obsessed! In many areas where ramps were once abundant they are now more rare. Because of this, people keep their ramp "patches" very secret and are careful not to get greedy/take the whole bunch.
There are many different ways to use ramps. I often make ramp pesto, pickle the bulbs, make a compound butter or just add them to scrambled eggs. They go great in egg salad as well. I have attempted a ramp pasta dough, which came out very well, just not as flavorful as I would have liked. I think next time I'll have to add more ramps. Basically, just take your favorite pasta dough recipe and add the blanched/drained ramps as you would for a spinach pasta dough. Try it out and let me know how it goes!
Other ideas are ramp pancakes, grilled ramps and ramps roasted with potatoes. Though they have a very strong/pungent flavor when eaten raw, once they are cooked the flavor mellows to perfection.
1 bunch of ramps (leaves & stems only)
1 c chopped fresh spinach
juice of half a lemon
about half a cup of chopped walnuts
1 1/2 tbsp pecorino romano
1/3 c olive oil
fresh cracked sea salt to taste
Put everything in a blender and process until a smooth pesto consistency.
I highly recommend adjusting these flavors to your taste. I topped it off with some more olive oil.
BROWN RICE SALAD with RAMP PESTO and VEGETABLES
1 c cooked brown jasmine rice
1/2 c ramp pesto
1/4 red bell pepper, chopped
1/4 orange bell pepper, chopped
6 stalks of asparagus, diced
1/2 cup frozen, shelled fava beans
Cook your rice on the stove-top or in the oven according to package instructions. I have become addicted to baking my brown rice, but either works fine. While your rice is cooking, sautée some of your favorite vegetables. I used red and orange bell peppers, asparagus and fava beans.
Once the rice is cooked, while still warm, toss with your ramp pesto. I added about 1/2 cup ramp pesto to 1 cup of cooked rice. Toss in the vegetables and top with fresh cracked sea salt to taste and 2 tbsp of olive oil.
RAMP COMPOUND BUTTER
This butter is really good on everything!
1/2 bunch ramps, finely chopped, leaves and bulbs
8 oz salted butter, at room temp
1 teaspoon honey
1 tbsp lemon zest
In a medium sized bowl fold in all ingredients with the room temperature butter. Once combined transfer the butter to some parchment paper. Form into a log and wrap with the parchment. You can keep this is the refrigerator for a while or you can freeze it for later use. If freezing, I recommend cutting into slicing and freezing individually. Enjoy!
Hello and welcome!
After much (loving) pressure from my friends and family, I am finally starting a food/travel/life/wine blog. Through the years I have become more and more interested in cooking and inspired by the foods I encounter. My FB friends are getting tired of just seeing food photos, and my Instagram followers have been so excited about my food photographs, I thought I would finally share some of my ideas with the rest of the world. Maybe I'll even inspire a person or two along the way!
Spring is the perfect time for me to start blogging. The farmers markets are just starting to be packed with various fresh ingredients, the sun is finally shining, and the weather is warm! This past weekend, was my first visit to the Saturday Union Square Farmer's Market in a while. Things are really starting to pick up. I ended up leaving with some asparagus, spinach, red scallions, fresh caught fluke, scallops and some farm fresh eggs. I always get excited when I see ramps, so I got a couple bunches....even tried some fiddlehead ferns again too!
The flowers were everywhere and beautiful as well.
Recipes to follow...