Baking is science and I don't like formulas, but cooking is art and anything goes...and the simpler the better. It's all about less time at the stove and more time at the table. With a forty year passion for food I'm excited to share what I do in the kitchen nearly every day.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Tomato Bread Salad

This as an oldie but very goodie, fresh tomatoes, basil and stale bread.  I had a third of a baguette hanging around for a few days so I sliced it into half inch slices then cut each slice into sixths.  Then it was just a matter of combining my tomatoes, basil, extra virgin olive oil and kosher salt.  This is one of the few salads I dress ahead of time so the water from the tomatoes and olive oil have a chance to soak into the stale bread pieces.  You could also add some minced garlic, chopped scallion, or a few splashes of balsamic vinegar, but your salad will only be as good as your tomatoes…and they aren’t any better than they are right now.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Caesar Corn

It’s sweet corn season in Vermont and not sure what made me think of it but this combination of Caesar dressing, parmesan, and sweet corn I made for dinner last night was incredible, I’ve been reminiscing about it all day.  I blogged about barbequed corn back in July so what this posting is all about is a super easy fail proof Caesar dressing.  In an empty Ball or peanut butter jar add one whole egg, a chopped garlic clove, an anchovy or squeeze of anchovy paste, a dollop of Dijon mustard, and a half inch of extra virgin olive oil.  Insert your stick blender so it’s resting on the bottom of the jar and blend on high while slowly lifting the blades up through the mixture.  Once it starts to thicken add another half inch of oil, kosher salt, black pepper, and lemon juice, then blend for another ten to twenty seconds.  You could probably use the same technique in a blender or Cuisinart but I've never tried.  Regardless, it’s important to let it sit for fifteen minutes before serving.  You will never buy another bottled Caesar or go to the trouble of whisking again.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Arugula Pesto

There’s so much you can do with a fresh pesto whether it’s basil, mint, chive, or arugula like the one I used over and over again last weekend.  And with a bit of Cuisinart magic they take less than ten minutes to whip up.  I first pulse until fine a generous handful of pine nuts(walnuts or almonds work in a pinch), a large peeled and coarsely chopped garlic clove, and a dash of Kosher Salt.  Use a spatula to scrape the mixture back into the bottom of the Cuisinart before adding a full bag of arugula.  With the cover on I start the Cusinart and drizzle Extra Virgin Olive Oil through the opening in the lid until the mixture is smooth but not runny.  I recommend that you add the oil slowly and keep checking the consistency…you can always add more oil.  Finally I add a quarter to half a cup of grated parmesan, additional kosher salt to taste, and one more quick pulse to stir it all together. 

I served it with grilled salmon the first night, tossed it with a thinly sliced strip steak for a potluck appetizer the second night, and combined it with some quartered sun gold tomatoes and topped my egg tacos for Sunday brunch.  Even had enough left over to smear on a sliced baguette for an afternoon snack.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Chop Salad

This is the time of year when we open the fridge and are lucky enough to find a huge variety of fresh vegetables, and there’s no better time for a chop salad.  For a late Sunday lunch last weekend I chopped up a bit of almost everything I had around, carrots, half a fennel bulb, a salad turnip, some scallion, a cucumber, a few radishes, some arugula, and some corn I cut right off of the cob.  I even chopped up a couple of left over chicken thighs from the night before.  Nearly anything would have worked, romaine, green beans, peppers, endive, peas, cabbage, jicama, or zucchini.  Aside from a lot of crunch the key I think is to chop everything up small enough so that you get a lot of variety with every fork full.  I dressed it simply with some extra virgin olive oil and lemon, but again, any dressing would work.  And of course kosher salt and pepper to taste. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Fried Flounder with Sriracha Mayonnaise

This one is really about the Sriracha Mayonnaise.  Don't get me wrong, I love my crispy panko coated flounder but what makes this dish special is the sauce.  If you haven't discovered Sriracha chili garlic sauce already go out and get yourself a bottle immediately, it's available everywhere and easy to spot with its distinctive green top.  I use it right out of the bottle on sandwiches, tacos, and eggs, in sauces, and as I did here, stirred together with some mayonnaise for an amazing condiment.  Perfect for anything fried, even french fries.  For the flounder I dusted each fillet with flour after sprinkling with salt and pepper, dipped them in egg, and then coated with panko before frying in a small amount of canola oil.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Hummus, Feta, and Arugula Salad Plate

I love talking food and one of the key things that consistently comes up in conversation is what you have around your kitchen in the way of ingredients.  This salad I made for lunch yesterday is nothing special but it highlights several of the items I'm sure to always have on my shelves.  My favorite store bought hummus, pita in the freezer, kalamata olives, feta cheese, cucumbers, arugula, lemon, and of course, extra virgin olive oil and kosher salt.  They are all extemely versatile and best of all keep for a long time.  You're only as good as what's in your kitchen, stock up.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Watermelon, Tomato, and Feta Salad

Summer is the best for quick easy salads and this combination of sweet, acidic, and salty is incredible.  Simply combine one inch cubes of seedless watermelon, large chunks of tomatoes, feta cheese, chopped mint and chives, then dress with extra virgin olive oil and red wine vinegar.  You could substitute basil and scallions just as easily, whatever you have around.  This is a great one!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Basil, Tomato, and Mozzarella Pasta

I came home from the farmer’s market last weekend with some beautiful little tomatoes, a sure sign of August.  Last night I used them to make a tasty pasta by combining them with basil and mozzarella, so fast and simple but always so good and summery.  While boiling the pasta I cut a Maplebrook Fram mozzarella ball into quarter inch cubes and with about a half a cup of extra virgin olive oil I put them into a large bowl and sprinkled with kosher salt.  I halved lots and lots of tomatoes, put them in with the cheese, then coarsely chopped a generous amount of fresh basil and set it aside.  After draining I put the steaming pasta into the bowl and let it sit for a minute so the heat of the pasta had time to slightly soften the cheese and tomatoes at the bottom.  Finally I tossed in the basil, some grated parmesan and added a bit more olive oil, kosher salt, and white pepper to taste.  Tomato season, one of the best times of year to be in Vermont.