Monday, July 26, 2010

7/21/10 - Fresh Cod

This dish reminds me of something that I would eat when I was living alone. More vegetables than anything especially lots of zucchini...which is my favorite summer veggie! Unfortunately he doesn't feel that way and instead hates zucchini more than most veggies (with eggplant being most hated and only eaten when roasted and covered in cheese and sauce!). Luckily most vegetables are welcome to our dinner table so I try get my zucchini fix when he isn't around. This is a fast dish that is perfect with really any flaky white fish - from thick and meaty haddock and cod to slender tilapia and swai fillets (reduce cooking til to 2-3 min per side). I decided to make this on the stove top however if you are looking for a hands off approach try using making this dish in a foil packed in the oven or on the grill (or even in a fire for you campers!) I served the green beans on the side but feel free to toss any quickly cooking veggie or herb into the mix here.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

7/11/10 - Buitoni Reserva Party!

I was really excited to find out that I was picked to hold a dinner party using Buitoni Reserva Fresh Pasta. For once I didn't have tons of prep which was amazing - the Tastemaker program from Foodbuzz provided all the fresh pasta! It was fun to focus on my friends and enjoy the party instead of hanging out behind the island chopping, stirring, saucing..... The fresh agnolotti (which is basically like a ravioli) came in 4 different combination of meats, veggies and cheeses. Since the pasta cooked up so quickly, I decided it would be a perfect match for some fresh summer vegetables. The veggies combined with the filling agnolottis made a perfect main course for any hot summer night. The best part of dinner was that in the time I boiled the water to make the pasta my sauce was ready to go!

Each dish contains a good amount of veggies which makes for a balanced meals. I tried to complement the flavors in the agnolotti with a fresh bright summer vegetable fresh from the farmer's market. The favorite dish of the night was the starter because of the unique way that I served the agnolotti. The Quattro Formaggi Agnolotti was also the favorite pasta of the night as well! The runner up was the second dish which was made with vegetable 'noodles'. These noodles are a fun unexpected way to serve vegetables - I make the carrot noodles with a standard vegetable peeler while I used a large box grater to make the zucchini however a spiral vegetable peeler is an easy way to do this as well (unfortunately I don't have one and couldn't locate one anywhere near by!)

Check out my whole menu:
Baby Arugula salad with Crunchy Quattro Formaggi Agnolotti in Cilantro Shallot Vinaigrette 

Zucchini & Rainbow Carrot "noodles" with Wild Mushroom Agnolotti in Pesto Cream sauce

Spicy Beef & Sausage Ravioli with Fresh Tomato and Spinach Sauce

Keep reading for the recipes!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

7/11/10 - Dinner party for 10!

When you live in an apartment in the city, dinner parties usually need to be intimate affairs. Most of us just don't have the space (or the layout) for a full dining room which means that you are limited to a few guests. However, I love to entertain and I wasn't about to let something as small as my 6 person kitchen table stand in my way! Memories of my college days reminded me that a piece of plywood makes an excellent table and so off to Home Depot I went.... Don't forget to measure the width of your table (and thickness)!

Once I found the sheets of plywood I asked if they would cut it to the correct width for my table so that it would be flush at the edges.  I also picked up 2 (4 would be better!) c-clamps that open wide enough to accommodate the thickness of my table plus about 2 inches (these can be harder to find... I ended up having to re-purpose the clamp from my pasta machine!) .  When I got home I opened the table as wide as possible then I laid the plywood over the top and centered the table under it (only leave  a max of  18" overhang on each side for maximum stability) and clamp down on both sides. Finally, I picked up a table cloth that would cover the wood and leave a nice overhang. Because the wood can be a bit rough a padded table cloth underneath can help to improve the aesthetics . Add a few folding chairs and you have an instant dining room table that can easily be stored under a bed when you aren't entertaining! Just be careful when setting the table as the clamps will leave a bit of a bump and must be avoided.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

7/4/10 - 4th of July BBQ- Cilantro Chimichurri

One of my favorite condiments for meat is chimichurri. I love the fresh green taste of this Argentinian do-it-all  seasoning for beef is almost a version of pesto. Personally, I can't help but love any dish that uses a huge amount of fresh herbs. Usually chimichurri is made with parsley like I did here but either way the taste is always just explosive. I was lucky since these herbs all came from my CSA which means they were super fresh! Even though I often visit the farmers market I do feel that buying from my CSA is really important because it supports even more farms. This week I was lucky to go on a long drive for work into the country of New Jersey. I actually was just around the town where my farm actually is...but I didn't have time to go searching around since I was working. I did however get to stop at Green Valley Farm which was so much fun. I only had a few minutes but I wanted to grab some fresh homemade ice cream. I honestly don't think I have ever had something so rich and delicious . But back to the meaty marinade plus....

Cilantro & Garlic Scape Chimichurri
1 bunch Cilantro - leaves
5 garlic scaped - rough diced
1/4 c extra virgin oliveo oil
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp red hot pepper flake
salt & pepper
1) Blend ingredients together

Also check out the cherry tomatoes with basil and bocchini skewars and the bread my aunt made on her blog:

Friday, July 9, 2010

7/7/10 - Fillet Mignon and Spring Pea & Mint Risotto

I have to admit there are some vegetables that even I won't go near. A few of them have gotten knocked off the list since I have been subscribing to my CSA (like my new 'favorite' beets). Fresh from the farm food is just so good that even a hater like me can't say no! But for a while now my dislike for peas had stood. Now, I love green beans and sugar snap peas and snow peas even fava beans! But those regular old peas which tend to find there way into so many cafeterias and hospital kitchens and usually live in the freezer section..... yuck! But then a mix up at the Farmer's Market changed this pea-hater's life forever - freshly shelled spring peas are nothing like those mushy green mystery objects in the Lunch Ladies meatloaf surprise...they actually taste good!

This classic recipe uses arborio rice that is first roasted then slowly cooked...with a lot of stirring to get its signature creamy texture. Check out this seafood risotto recipe for a more detailed look into make risotto. The big changes that I made were adding the onions right to the oil with the rice in the first step and of course there wasn't any seafood to saute on the side or add in. Instead I just added the peas at the last minute and then places the cover on while the meat rested so that they were just barely steamed and warmed up but still had a bit of a bite as to not be over cooked and mushy.

What are your "no way never, don't even let it touch my plate" veggies? or was there a meal than changed your mind about a certain food?

7/5/10 - Mint Mojito Sparkler

Tis' the season for yummy fruit based drinks, but if syrup-based margaritas and daiquiris are too much too handle try a lighter spin on another summer classic! This fresh tasting Mojito takes the traditional ingredients and gives them a bit more bubble while removing some of the sugar. I love adding seltzer to all of my drinks. It doesn't change the flavor profile and the added bubbles make me feel like I am sipping on an expensive cocktail. Don't worry if the only experience you have making drinks is cracking open a cold beer....this drink is easy enough for everyone!

Mint Mojito Sparkler (makes 2 large martini glass full)
3 shots Light Rum (Bacardi)
20 fresh mint leaves
2 tsp sugar  + extra to coat rims
1 lime + 2 wheels to garnish 
1 c plain or lemon lime seltzer

1) In a drink shaker, add the mint, ice, juice of 1 lime and 2 tsp sugar - either muddle or place cap on and shake vigorously
2) Add rum and mix till frothy
3) Rub rim of martini glass with lime rind - dip into sugar to coat
4) Carefully strain 1/2 of mixture into each glass and top with seltzer
5) Garnish with lime & fresh sprig of mint