Monday, July 25, 2011

A Czech Dinner: Fried Cauliflower, Mashed Potatoes, Cucumber Salad

This meal is similar to the traditional Czech dish my mom used to make growing up, which we loved! My mom, brother and I would each take a "station" as a part of the cauliflower breading line.

 Typically, the Czechs serve the cauliflower with boiled potatoes mixed with butter and caraway seeds, sprinkled with freshly minced chives. In this dinner, I used mashed potatoes instead.

I didn't make the dish with any meat because I don't think it needs it, though my husband kept saying 'it needs more sausage,' which he always says when I sneak in a meatless dinner.

Fried cauliflower:
1 head of cauliflower, separate florets
Flour, for dredging
2 eggs, beaten
Breadcrumbs, for coating
Vegetable oil, for frying

Cilantro Lemon Mayo:
¼ cup mayo
1 Tbsp freshly minced cilantro
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 small garlic, finely minced or grated
Freshly cracked black pepper

Mashed Potatoes:
2 large red skinned potatoes, quartered
2 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup milk or heavy cream
Salt & pepper, to taste

Cucumber salad:
1 1/2 Chinese cucumbers, sliced thinly
¼ small red onion, sliced thinly
½ cup of white wine vinegar
1 Tbsp sugar
½ salt
½ freshly crushed pepper

Fried cauliflower:
Steam cauliflower florets for about 10 minutes, until fork tender. Let cool so you can handle them. In this order, fill each bowl with the following: flour, eggs and breadcrumbs. Dredge cauliflower in the flour first, then dip in egg and lastly, coat with breadcrumbs.

In a frying pan, heat about ½ inch of oil over medium high heat. Fry cauliflower, turning over on all sides until golden brown. As they are done, set on a paper towel to help absorb some of the excess oil.

Cilantro Lemon Mayo:
In a small mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Mashed potatoes:
In a pot with a steamer, steam potatoes until fork tender, about 15-20 minutes. Remove steamer with potatoes from pot, drain water from pot. Add butter and milk to pot and return to stove top over low heat; stirring until butter melts. Add potatoes back into pot and mash until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

Cucumber salad:
In a medium mixing bowl, add vinegar, sugar salt and pepper. Wisk until sugar is dissolved. Pour over cucumbers and onion; refrigerate until ready to serve.

Serve cauliflower with potatoes and a side of cucumber salad. Serve with a ram

Fried cauliflower is delicious hot… or eat them cold the next day as a snack!


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Grilled Pork over Succotash with Cauliflower Potato Gratin

I wasn’t sure what to call my veggie mix, but then ‘succotash’ popped in my head. I looked it up and thought it fit pretty well for what I made, minus the beans that a succotash usually includes. This dish mainly features the sides, so you can choose the meat of your choice to grill/bake and serve along the succotash and gratin. I used pork for this dinner, but chicken would also be good.

2 red skinned potatoes, cubed
1/3 small cauliflower, cut into bite sized pieces
¼ cup freshly grated Cheddar cheese
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup of Gorgonzola cream sauce from my gnocchi recipe (minus the zucchini)
Freshly cracked black pepper

1 ear of corn
½ green bell pepper, diced
1 carrot, diced
¼ small red onion, diced
Freshly cracked black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large pot, steam or boil potatoes and cauliflower together for about 10 minutes. I prefer to steam to keep the flavor and don’t boil out the nutrients. Drain and add to a casserole dish. Cover with cheese and cream sauce. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes. Broil uncovered for the last 5 minutes until brown cheese bubble form.

Boil corn in salted water for about 15 minutes. Drain, remove from pot and let cool so you can handle it. In a medium pan, heat EVOO over med-high heat, add peppers, carrot and onion. Sauté for a few minutes until they start to get tender. Using a sharp knife, cut corn off the cob and add to the veggies in the pan. Since the corn is already cooked you can add towards the end. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Plate by making a bed of succotash, top with grilled meat and serve with a side of gratin.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Potato Gnocchi in Gorgonzola Cream Sauce

This dish was inspired by a meal we had in Venice, which was our most amazing dinner of the trip. At the restaurant, Rosa Rossa, they used “duck ham,” which was essentially fried duck fat, which I substituted for bacon here.

1 lb Russet potatoes
1 egg, beaten
¾ cup flour
Pinch of salt

3 slices of thick bacon, diced
4 oz Gorgonzola Cheese (room temperature)
1 oz butter
8 oz heavy cream
Freshly cracked black pepper
Zucchini, thinly sliced

Peel and cut potatoes into quarters. Steam potatoes for about 10 minutes (or you can bake halved potatoes for 50 minutes); drain and let cool so you can handle them. Using a potato ricer, or the fine side of your grater, shred potatoes into a large mixing bowl.

Add egg, flour and salt. Gently mix with your hands until ingredients are combined and you have a ball of dough. Do not over mix to maintain light and fluffy gnocchi.

Dust your counter top or work space with flour. Take one piece of dough at a time and gently roll into a long ¾” rope with your hands. Be careful not to press down on the dough, but to roll outwards.

(Make sauce now, before you start boiling gnocchi.)

Cut dough rope into ½” pieces. Drop into a pot of salted boiling water. As gnocchi floats, remove them and set them in a colander.

In a frying pan, cook bacon until crispy. Remove bacon from pan and to a paper towel on a plate. In the same pan, add zucchini slices and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.

In a small sauce pan over high heat, combine cheese, butter, cream and pepper. Bring to a boil, then turn to a simmer. Add bacon. Wisk sauce until cheese is melted and sauce is creamy.

Spoon gnocchi into a bowl, top with sauce, add zucchini, sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan cheese and freshly cracked black pepper. Garnish with fresh basil.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Fruit Pizza

1 premade log of Pillsbury Refrigerated Sugar Cookie dough (found in refrigerated section of grocery store)
Zest of one lemon

1 8-oz package cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups sliced fresh strawberries
1-2 kiwis, sliced
1 11-oz can mandarin oranges, drained
1 cup fresh raspberries, halved

1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup unsweetened pineapple juice
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove cookie from wrapper. In a medium bowl, combine lemon zest and cookie dough. Use your hands to work zest into dough. Press the dough evenly onto an ungreased pizza pan or baking sheet. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until it is golden brown. Let cookie cool.

For frosting, in a small mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until smooth. Spread over cooled cookie. Arrange the fruit on top.

For glaze, in a small saucepan, combine sugar and cornstarch. Whisk in pineapple and lemon juice until smooth. Bring to a boil; cook until thickened. Cool slightly. Drizzle over fruit.

Refrigerate until chilled.

Breakfast Tostadas

A yummy way to start your weekend!

4 corn tortillas
Non-stick cooking spray
4 eggs
Salt and pepper
½ red bell pepper, diced
4 slices of Canadian bacon, or ham, diced
2 green onion sprigs, or regular yellow onion, diced
Freshly grated Cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray one side of the tortillas with non-stick cooking spray, place on a baking sheet and cook for 7 minutes. Turn tortillas over, spray with more cooking spray and cook for another 7 minutes, until crispy. While tortillas are baking make eggs.

In a frying pan, spray with cooking spray, add peppers, ham and onions; sauté for a few minutes. Add eggs and scramble together. Season with salt and pepper. Don’t overcook the eggs since they will go in the oven for a few minutes and cook more.

Top each tostada with scramble eggs mixture, top with cheese and bake for a couple minutes until cheese is melted.

Top breakfast tostadas with sliced avocado, salsa and fresh minced cilantro. Serve with a fruit salad.

Mediterranean Stuffed Chicken with Couscous

Bursting with flavor in every bite. The hubby usually isn't a fan of couscous unless I mix in different ingredients, like artichoke hearts, cheese, etc...get creative!

2 chicken breasts
¼ cup Kalamata olives, pitted
2 Tbsp sundried tomatoes
Lemon Pepper seasoning

1 box of olive oil and pine nuts couscous (or plain)
½ red bell pepper, diced
2 green onion sprigs, sliced
Jarred artichoke hearts, roughly chopped
Feta cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

With a deboning knife, insert a hole into the thick end of the chicken breast and using your knife and finger carefully create a pocket. Be careful to not poke a hole through the other side. Set aside.

In a food processor, combine olives, tomatoes with a drizzle of EVOO. Stuff the chicken with this mixture. Season both sides chicken with lemon pepper and salt. In a frying pan over med-high heat, drizzle a little EVOO and brown both sides of chicken. Remove chicken from pan and to a baking sheet. Bake for about 15 minutes until chicken is cooked throughout.

While chicken is baking, add a couple drizzles of EVOO to a pot over med-high heat. Add peppers and sauté for a couple minutes. Add water for couscous to the pot (following directions on the box), bring to a boil, add couscous with seasonings, remove from heat, cover and set to the side for about 5 minutes. Fluff couscous with a fork then stir in green onions, artichoke hearts and feta cheese.

Serve chicken with couscous and drizzle with cooked chicken juice from baking sheet.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Cilantro Lime Salmon

After this recipe, I will definitely will be using more lime in my dishes going forward,...and I might even plant a lime tree!

2 salmon filets, skin on
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Juice of one lime
Zest of one lime
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp EVOO
fresh ground pepper

1 cup of water or chicken broth
½ long grained basmati rice
¼ cup frozen edamame
¼ cup frozen chopped spinach
1 green onion sprig, chopped
Juice from ½ lime
Zest from one lime (save some to sprinkle on top of finished dish)

In a small bowl, combine cilantro, juice of one lime, zest of one lime, garlic, EVOO, salt and pepper into a bowl. Marinate salmon in mixture in refrigerator for about 30 minutes.

Heat grill to high heat, grill fish skin side down 5-7 minutes, until skin is crisp. Flip fish, remove skin, squeeze juice from half a lime onto fish. Continue cooking for a few more minutes, until fish easily flakes and is still pink in the middle.

In a rice cooker, add water, rice, a drizzle of EVOO and salt. When the rice is almost done, mix in edamame, spinach and green onions. When rice is finished mix in lime juice and zest; fluff.

Serve fish over rice and sprinkle with extra lime zest.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Spicy Chicken and Sausage over Cilantro Rice

Colorful & spicy!

4 servings

Chicken and Sausage:
2 Spicy Italian sausage links
2 chicken breasts
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 small red onion, chopped
1 small red bell pepper, chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 16-oz. can of diced tomatoes with jalapenos
1 cup chicken broth, undrained
Salt and pepper

2 cup chicken broth
1 cup of long grained balsamic rice
½ cup frozen peas
1 green onion, chopped
2 Tbsp cilantro, chopped

In a medium frying pan over med-high heat, brown sausages, cooking for about 5 minutes. Remove from pan and to a plate. Add a few drizzles of EVOO in same frying pan, add chicken seasoned with salt and pepper. Brown both sides of chicken for about 5 minutes per side. Remove chicken from heat and add to plate with sausages. Cut chicken and sausage into bite sized pieces.

Add garlic, onion and peppers to pan; sauté for about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and chicken broth; bring to a boil. Add chicken and sausage back to pan. Turn heat to low and simmer for about 30 minutes, until chicken is cooked all the way through. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

In a rice cooker or pot, cook rice with chicken broth. Add a drizzle of EVOO and pinch of salt. Towards the end of the rice cooking, add peas, green onion and cilantro; mix together.

Serve sausage and chicken mixture over rice.

NOTE: This would also be good over couscous with cilantro instead of rice. Also, add more or less jalapenos depending on how spicy you like it.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Seared Tuna Salad

A light and tasty dinner on a warm summer evening.

2 Ahi tuna steaks
Lemon pepper seasoning
Mixed green salad
Sliced red bell pepper
Shelled edamame
Chopped cucumber
Vinaigrette dressing
Lentil salad

Heat grill or pan to high heat. Brush tuna with EVOO and season with lemon pepper and salt. Over high heat, grill tuna for 2-3 minutes on each side, depending on thickness you might want to reduce or increase heat.

Prepare salad by starting with a bed of greens and top with veggies; drizzle with vinaigrette dressing. Add lentil salad and top with sliced, seared tuna.

Note: I just happened to have some lentil salad on hand so I threw it into the dish. I felt it added a little more substance so I’m not sure how much it really “matches” the dish.