Sunday, August 8, 2010

Heirloom Tomatoes

Enjoyed my first Heirloom Tomato for lunch today. What a treat! Are all tomatoes alike? Not really. Many thanks to Whole Foods for making these special tomatoes readily available in their store near me.

Heirloom Tomatoes can be enjoyed simply on a good whole grain or rustic bread, toasted. Drizzle the toast with good extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), cut thick slice of tomato with a serrated knife so as not to tear the meat of the tomato. Then drizzle again with the EVOO. Sprinkle with some dried basil. That's it. Enjoy.

Prep: Wash and dry the fresh Heirloom Tomato very carefully. Slice a good bread with a serrated knife on a cutting board. Toast or bake in oven with EVOO drizzled on it and bake on a baking sheet. Also use a cutting board to cut the tomato in thick slices with a serrated knife. Have extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) nearby as well as dried basil.

Serving suggestions: Layer toasted bread, extra virgin olive oil, tomato and dried basil, ending with a drizzle of the oil on top of the tomato. Or, add a layer of your favorite cheese like Mozzarella with fresh basil leaf.

What a nice first course or appetizer this recipe makes!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Fresh Salad Dressing - No Fancy Name

Here is a no-fuss, no measure dressing for your garden salad. With good Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO), juice of one half of a fresh lemon, Kosher salt, crushed black pepper and assorted dried herbs, you will have salad dressing as you need it. I like to use basil, oregano & tarragon. A pinch or two of sugar gives a nice balance to all the ingredients.

Prep: With your garden salad prepared in a nice serving bowl, gather all the ingredients mentioned above. Begin first with some Extra Virgin Olive Oil drizzled on top of the salad. (A few turns around the salad bowl.) Then take half of the fresh lemon and squeeze into your clean hand to catch the seeds, allowing the juice of the lemon to fall into the salad bowl. Then take pinches of Kosher salt, crushed black pepper, basil, oregano, tarragon and sugar to add on top of the garden salad.

Once all ingredients are in the salad bowl, you can toss the salad gently with clean hands, salad tongs or wooden spoon. Be sure to taste a piece of lettuce to check the balance of your seasonings. Sometimes more salt is needed, sometimes a bit more sugar. Amount of herbs to use is up to your personal taste.

Serve: It is best to prepare the salad dressing just before serving at the dinner table. You do not want the vegetables to get soggy. Your salad should remain crisp with just enough dressing to coat the vegetables.

Optional: For an acid instead of lemon juice, you can use red wine vinegar, white wine vinegar or champagne vinegar for a slightly different taste.


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Veggie Medley Sauteed

Tonight's sidedish with dinner was a medley of veggies we had on hand in the refrigerator and pantry. A small zucchini, small yellow squash, one small carrot, half of a Vidalia onion and three cloves of fresh garlic. Assorted herbs and olive oil completed this sidedish. Fresh cherry tomatoes added at end for garnish.

Prep: Gather your veggies, wash and dry them. Have a cutting board, a sharp knife, a large frypan, three cloves of fresh garlic, peeled and sliced, not crushed. Sliced garlic gives a milder flavor. Cut the zucchini, yellow squash and carrot into small cubes or short sticks. Cut the onion in slices or dice it. Your choice. Dried herbs of choice this evening were oregano, basil, tarragon, pinch of red pepper flakes, and Kosher salt. Have a wooden spoon ready for stirring.

Saute: Put a few tablespoons of regular olive oil in the frypan. Turn heat on stove to med.high temp. When heated, add the onions first with a pinch or two of Kosher salt and stir around with wooden spoon. When onions look shiny, add the sliced garlic and keep stirring. After a few minutes, add the rest of the cut veggies and keep stirring. If more olive oil is needed, add some now. Sprinkle your dried herbs on the veggies while cooking and add a pinch more of salt to taste. When veggies look a bit softer, this dish is done.

Serving: Put the sauteed veggies into a nice serving dish. Add a few cut, washed fresh cherry tomatoes for a pop of color contrast. A sprinkle of dried tarragon gives a fresh look to the cooked veggies and another pop of color contrast.


Fresh Fish - Don't be afraid to cook it.

It is important to buy fresh fish from a reputable supermarket or specialty fish market. That said, fresh fish does not smell "fishy". Simple as that. My favorite kinds of fish to bake are halibut, haddock, sole and salmon (sockeye, preferred).

Prep: Purchase your fresh fish and unwrapp keeping on ice in a dish in the refrigerator until ready to cook. At cooking time, preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. with rack in the middle of the oven. In a baking dish, spray with a cooking oil and then put the washed/dried piece of fish into the baking dish. Have some olive oil, butter and optional Panko Bread Crumbs to put on top of your fish. Seasonings: Kosher salt, crushed pepper, parsley or dill. Be sure to have an oven mitt ready as well as a large spatula for serving.

Baking: Fish cooks quickly at high heat. Therefore, allow at least 15 minutes until fish looks firm and flakey. Do not over cook the fish. You might see some whitish protein form on/around the cooking fish. This means it is just about cooked. A firmer fish like halibut will turn a nice white color and brown a bit on top.

Serving: Serve right from your baking dish onto a plate. Think about preparing some fresh, steamed veggies as a sidedish and/or a carb of your choice. Please check out my recipes for Couscous and Quinoa. A baked potato works well, also. This is a very healthy meal.


Monday, August 2, 2010

Steak Tips On Grill The Easy Way

Tonight is going to be a meat night. After lots of fish and chicken, sometimes one just enjoys a meat meal. During summer months, what is better than grilling some steak tips? Are you ready for this simple recipe? You will not be disappointed.

Prep: Purchase a good quality cut of meat for steak tips. If not labled at your supermarket, ask the butcher behind the counter to assist you. Have a cutting board used for meat, a sharp knife, a clean plate to bring steak tips to the outdoor grill and another clean plate to bring the cooked steak tips to your dinner table. You should also have a a grill brush, mesh grill rack, oiled or sprayed with olive/canola oil to keep the steak tips from sticking. Suggestion: if your steak tips come in strips, cut them into large cubes for quicker cooking. Don't forget a pair of tongs to turn your pieces of meat. An oven mitt is helpful as well.

Grilling: You do not need to season or marinate good cuts of meat. Do not even salt them first because they will loose their juice. After preheating your grill, using your grill brush to clean the grill, lower temp so meat does not burn. Put the mesh grill with the meat on the heated grill. Turn the pieces of meat when you have them cooked to your liking.

Serving: After the cooked meat is put onto a clean plate, sprinkle some Kosher salt and pepper, let the meat rest on the plate for a few minutes before eating. Cover lightly with foil. This resting time allows for the meat juices to redistribute back into the cooked meat. While the meat is resting, prepare a tossed salad to go along with your steak tips. Additional steamed or grilled veggies is added nutrition to your meal. If you prepare enough steak tips and salad you then have another meal for the next day: cook once, eat twice!

Optional: If you desire to marinate your steak tips before cooking, put the meat cubes in a large plastic food bag and add: olive oil, redwine vinegar, Worcestshire Sauce, Kosher salt and crushed pepper. Some people like to add ketchup also. Dried herbs can be added such as Tarragon and Rosemary. Close the plastic food bag after all ingredients are sealed inside and shake/turn the bag to distribute the marinade. Put the bag into the refrigerator for 15-20 min. Drain and put the cubed steak tips on a plate ready to bring to your grill. Follow grilling instructions above.

You will be amazed at the taste of good cuts of meat grilled in this simple way. No need to dump lots of sauce on them. The true flavor of the grilled steak tips will be pleasing to your palate, I am sure.


Sunday, August 1, 2010

Easy Party Dip Sure to Please All

Was out to dinner last evening and served a new dip using very few ingredients producing a mild, flavorful, healthy dip. Served with crackers, homemade pita chips and cut, fresh veggies. This was a total surprise to experience favorite ingredients all blended together.

Preparation: Use roasted veggies (peppers and eggplant for example) purchased from a store or make on your own at home. A great way to use up cooked veggie leftovers, also. Put the cooked veggies into a food processor, combine with plain hummus purchased from a store and the last ingredient is goat cheese (put chunks into food processor to your desired amount.) Blend the above ingredients briefly and put into a serving bowl.

Serving: Along with your dip mixture (above), have platter of fresh, cut, peeled carrots & celery, fresh colored peppers cut in wide strips and whole mushrooms (cleaned gently, bottom stems trimmed off.) Have a basket of good quality bread sticks, tortilla chips and homemade pita chips to serve along with the dip.

Options: Be creative in mixing cooked veggies of your choice into hummus. Imagine the varieties sure to impress your friends.

Party Dip - Veggies and Hummus on Foodista