Friday, April 30, 2010

Opakapaka (Snapper) in Haitian Court-Bouillon: A Spicy-Sweet & Healthy Dish

Upon finding out this month's country for Regional Recipes (hosted by my wonderful friend Joanne at Eats Well With Others), I was a bit stuck for a dish. In the over 300 cookbooks in my collection you would think there would be some Haitian recipes, but no. Perusing the Internet didn't give me all that much inspiration either. Then, just when I was thinking I might skip this month's event, my May issue of Cooking Light arrived and I happened to flick through it and found a whole spread on Haitian inspired recipes. The Snapper in Haitian Court-Bouillon stood out immediately--poached fish and veggies in a spicy-sweet-savory broth sounded like the perfect healthy dinner, especially served over some brown rice.

The recipe can be found in the May 2010 Cooking Light and also on the web here.

Cooking Light says, "Part French technique, part personalized spin, this main-course fish dish is the essence of good family classics. In the Cadet family, it's always served over rice. For the prettiest results, slice the red bell pepper and onion with a mandoline, making paper-thin strips. Choose a sustainable snapper species, like black snapper, or go with black bass or striped bass."

Snapper in Haitian Court-Bouillon
Cooking Light, May 2010
Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 fillet and about 1/3 cup sauce and vegetables)

1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 (6-ounce) skinless black snapper fillets
1 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup clam juice
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 small yellow onion, quartered
1/2 to 1 whole habanero pepper, seeded (I used 1 1/2 peppers--they were fairly small)
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced red bell pepper
3/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon honey

Combine the first 4 ingredients in a small bowl. Sprinkle fish evenly with thyme mixture.

Place broth and next 4 ingredients (through habanero) in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes. Discard onion and habanero. Add fish; cover and simmer 10 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork. Carefully remove fish from the pan; keep warm.

Add bell pepper and remaining ingredients to cooking liquid in pan; cover and cook 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Top fish with sauce.

Nutritional Info: Calories 214 ; Fat 2.7g (sat 0.5g,mono 0.4g,poly 0.8g); Cholesterol 64mg; Calcium 70mg; Carbohydrate 9.8g; Sodium 587mg; Protein 36.3g; Fiber 1.5g; Iron 0.9mg

Notes/Results: Yum! There was a lot of flavor packed into this simple dish which is pretty quick and easy to prepare. I used a local opakapaka which is a pink snapper, and poaches really well. The fish was moist and tender, and the vegetables just right--not too mushy. The broth had just enough of a kick from the habanero and the sweetness of the honey was a nice compliment. Although white rice would have been more traditional, I used brown rice to up the nutritional profile a bit. With a half cup of the brown rice, the dish comes in at about 323 delicious calories. I would make this again.

Joanne will be rounding up Regional Recipes Haiti at the RR site here.

Happy Aloha Friday!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Kalua Pork & Cabbage Pasta with Lomi Tomato-Pineapple Salsa

I was having a craving for some Kalua Pork--a local dish where traditionally a pig is slow roasted in an underground pit until it is fall-apart tender and smoky from the fire. Of course unless it is a luau or a large, traditional family event, most people nowadays cook their kalua pig in the oven or a slow cooker, sometimes wrapped in banana or ti leaves and often with a little liquid smoke to recreate that smoky flavor. The shredded pork is usually served with cabbage here. I like to cook my pork butt and then use it for sandwiches, in quesadillas or tacos and lately I have been thinking it would be fun to create a pasta dish featuring the pork and cabbage.

I wanted the dish to have some brightness and acidity to work with the smoky flavor of the pork. At Whole Foods the other day, one of the produce guys was sampling chunks of local tomatoes and pineapple with a sprinkle of Hawaiian Red Alaea Sea Salt, on toothpicks. I liked the combination and thought it would be fun to do a variation of it as a salsa to top the pasta. Lomi is a Hawaiian word meaning massage or crush and here it refers to the small diced pieces of tomato and pineapple in the salsa. (Plus it just sounds fun!) ;-)

My Kalua Pork & Cabbage Pasta with Lomi Tomato-Pineapple Salsa is a different and delicious take on some traditional dishes.

Kalua Pork & Cabbage Pasta with Lomi Tomato-Pineapple Salsa
by Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Serves 6)

1 (12 ounce) package pasta (I used a whole whet penne)
1 Tbsp olive oil + 1 Tbsp sesame seed oil, mixed
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium head cabbage, cored and shredded / chopped (about 4 cups)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp red chili pepper flakes
2 cups Kalua Pork (
see recipe below)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 tbsp roasted sesame seeds
Lomi Tomato-Pineapple (recipe below)

Cook pasta according to directions on the package, drain and set aside in a large bowl. Heat the oils in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook for about 5 minutes until onion begins to soften, then add cabbage, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Cook about 15 minutes or until cabbage is tender, stirring occasionally. Add kalua pork to mixture, taste and add salt and pepper, then heat through. Add the kalua pork and cabbage mixture to the bowl of pasta and toss until mixed. Serve warm, topped with sesame seeds and lomi tomato-pineapple.

Easy Slow Cooker Kalua Pork:

4-5 pounds Pork Butt Roast
2 cups warm water
2 Tbsp liquid smoke flavoring
about 1 Tbsp Hawaiian Red Alaea Sea Salt (or substitute regular sea salt)

Trim any excess fat from pork butt. Using a fork, pierce the pork butt all over and place in the slow cooker. Mix the liquid smoke into the warm water and pour over the pork. Sprinkle pork with with salt. Cook on low for 12-16 hours depending on size of roast (Two 2.5 lb roasts took about 12 hours, one 4.5 pound roast took about 16). Turn roast once during cooking time. Remove pork from slow cooker, reserving the cooking liquid. Shred pork, adding some of the drippings/cooking liquid if needed to add moisture to the meat. Allow the surplus dripping / cooking liquid to cool; skim fat from the top and use if needed for sauce or gravy.

Lomi Tomato-Pineapple Salsa:

1 fresh tomato, seeded and diced
1 cup pineapple, diced
1 red chili pepper, seeded and diced
3 green onions thinly sliced
2 Tbsp cilantro, chopped
pinch of Hawaiian Alaea Sea Salt (or substitute regular sea salt)

Mix diced tomato, pineapple, chili pepper, green onion and cilantro together in a small bowl. Sprinkle mixture with a pinch of Hawaiian sea salt. Serve on top of pasta.

Notes/Results: I love it when a recipe "experiment" that has been living as an idea in my head translates well to the plate. This is a simple and very tasty dish. Once you have your shredded kalua pork cooked, it goes together really quickly--everything can be chopped while the pasta water boils and the pork & cabbage mixture cooked as the pasta cooks. The sesame oil gives a nutty taste and the red chili pepper flakes and fresh red chili in the salsa provide a little kick. There is a little smokiness from the meat and finally the sweetness and bright acidity of the pineapple and tomato and it all actually works together in this dish. I used some whole wheat penne for this recipe, but I would like to try it with some saimin noodles (a local noodle that is similar to, but larger and softer than ramen noodles), or a similar style of noodle. I will make this again.

For other things to do with kalua pork, check out these Kalua Pork Quesadillas and these Swedish Kalua Pork Cabbage Rolls (sounds funny but it was for an event you can read about on the post!)

I am sending this dish to two fun events--Ruth's Presto Pasta Nights being hosted this week by Katie of Thyme for Cooking. Katie will be posting a bevy of yummy pasta creations at her site on Friday.

I am also sending it to Natasha's monthly 5 Star Makeover: Pasta over at 5 Star Foodie Culinary Adventures, where the task was to "Create a PASTA dish with a twist. You can make any kind of pasta (homemade or purchased) and incorporate many different kinds of ingredients in various combinations to create interesting flavors, sweet or savory, inspired by any number of cuisines of the world." I think this fits that criteria! ;-) Natasha will be rounding up all the pasta creations after May 2.

I hope you are having a wonderful week!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Things I Am Loving This Week

Time again for a Tuesday "Things I Am Loving This Week" --all about the things I am enjoying and want to share.

First up--I am declaring that breadcrumbs are the new black! ;-) I am beginning to see them more and more across the web, in cookbooks and magazines. I loved them in Mark Bittman's Pasta with Bacon and Breadcrumbs that I made last week and got to thinking about how much I also love them on vegetables too (as in this Asparagus with Panko, Pine Nuts & Capers that I posted from last year). Since I had some fresh, local asparagus and some bacon left over from the pasta, I decided to combine some of my favorite things from both recipes and this Asparagus with Bacon, Breadcrumbs, Almonds & Capers was born. The topping is delicious on the fresh asparagus and would work well on green beans, broccoli, zucchini or other veggies too.

Asparagus with Bacon, Breadcrumbs, Almonds & Capers
by Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Serves 4)

1 bunch asparagus, rinsed and trimmed
1/4 cup sliced almonds
2-3 slices bacon, chopped
1 Tbsp olive oil + extra for drizzling
pinch red chili pepper flakes
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 1/2 Tbsp capers
salt and black pepper

Lightly steam asparagus in your preferred method or roast in the oven. Meanwhile toast sliced almonds in a pan over medium heat, tossing frequently until lightly browned. Remove almonds from pan and set aside. Cook chopped bacon in same pan until crispy, remove and drain on paper towels, reserving grease from bacon in pan. Add 1 Tbsp olive oil to bacon grease and heat, then stir in crushed red chili pepper flakes, panko and capers, salt and pepper, and cook until panko is lightly brown and crunchy. Mix the bacon and sliced almond into the breadcrumbs and warm through. Place asparagus in serving dish, drizzle lightly with olive oil and salt lightly. Spread panko mixture over asparagus and serve.

Yum, Yum & Yum! The light drizzle of olive oil helps the mixture "stick" somewhat to the asparagus, but it's best to dish this up with both a fork and spoon to catch the extra topping. Or you can serve the breadcrumb mixture in a separate bowl and let everyone top their own asparagus. I just like how it looks already topped in my favorite asparagus serving bowl. ;-) It's an easy and tasty side to serve with meat, fish or chicken.

I am sending this yummy side dish over to Reeni at Cinnamon Spice & Everything Nice for her monthly Side Dish Showdown. This month's theme is Anything Goes with a little dash of Spring Vegetables thrown in. Reeni will be rounding up all the different side dishes on her blog after the end of the month.

I have said it before and I'll say it again...I LOVE Mangoes! These were especially sweet and juicy ones from Maui that I bought at Whole Foods. Too good to do anything other than just enjoy them, chilled and on their own.

I also love my Oxo mango splitter--although I don't have room for a lot of single-use tools and gadgets, in my little kitchen, I make an exception with this one which cuts down around the pit quickly and cleaning, and also allows me to indulge in leaning over the sink and eating the little bit of fruit left around the pit with the juice running down my chin. (It's the small pleasures in life I tell you!)

Although mangoes are a high sugar fruit they are full of nutrients like vitamin C, B6, and A as well as potassium, fiber and antioxidants. And of course they are...delicious!

Finally, I love to find and try new chocolate brands. I had been hearing about Bubble Chocolate and finally found some here to try. Similar to the Nestle Aero Bar and other "bubbly" air filled chocolates you can find in the UK, Bubble Chocolate is basically just aerated chocolate. The bubbles are created by infusing the chocolate with air, then cooling it and coating it so the outside is smooth while the bubbles remain inside. It comes in both a milk chocolate version with 38% cocoa, and a dark chocolate version with 60% cocoa.

While not destined to become my favorite chocolate ever, it is still different and fun and it tastes good--especially when you are patient and let it melt on your tongue a bit before chewing it. The milk chocolate is of course creamier in taste and texture and the dark chocolate has a crisper texture and a fruitier bite and seems to retain the bubble feeling longer.

Fun stuff. (Plus the website makes a cool bubble sound that reminds me of Pop-Up Videos on VH-1--I used to love that show!) ;-)

So these are the "Things I Am Loving This Week"--breadcrumbs, mangoes and chocolate.

How about you? What things are you loving lately?

BTW: I left a lot of posts for the end of the month so this week will be full of them. ;-) If you didn't get a chance to check out yesterday's post reviewing Rick Tramonto's "Steak with Friends" stop by the post below and check out the many drool-inducing dishes in this new cookbook. ;-)

Monday, April 26, 2010

Cookbook Review--"Steak with Friends: At Home with Rick Tramonto"--Prepare to Drool!

There are some books that I receive to review that immediately excite me, and others for whatever reason, I am not as jazzed about and need to warm up to. "Steak with Friends: At Home with Rick Tramanto" by Rick Tramanto with Mary Goodbody, fell into that second category. It's not that I don't like steak, I do, but I don't eat that much of it as I try to eat on the lighter side, and I am not a griller by any means. Steak and steak house food while appealing, didn't seem like something I was going to enjoy cooking. Turns out I was wrong, and although I had to add a few extra exercise sessions into my week, I ate very well and thoroughly enjoyed what I made.

If you are not familiar with Rick Tramonto, he is an award winning chef who has been in the restaurant business for over 30 years and is the executive chef and partner in the Chicago-area restaurants Tru, Tramanto's Steak & Seafood and RT Sushi Bar and Lounge. He has judged on Top Chef, battled (along with Chef Gale Gand) Iron Chef Mario Batali with fennel in Kitchen Stadium, and will be a contestant this season on Top Chef Masters. "Steak with Friends" is his seventh book and takes the reader into his home, sharing good food with family and friends.

I was pleased to see the variety of recipes contained in the book (150 total), as in addition to the steaks, there are other meats, poultry, seafood, plenty of side dishes and sauces, drinks and desserts. There are personal stories and Rick's tips for cooking and serving steak and other food. The photos of the food are gorgeous and drool-worthy, making the book a treat to read. So for all my ho-humming about the book, once I started reading it I was impressed, and once I started cooking and eating the six recipes I selected to "road test" (actually with the many sauces and dressings involved it became ten recipes teasted), I was hooked.

Appetizers or pupus are some of my favorite things to make for gatherings or sometimes just for a light dinner. I love lettuce wraps in general, and the Spicy Shrimp Lettuce Wraps, served with Spicy Mayonnaise were delicious and packed quite a kick. In this recipe the shrimp are sprinkled with spicy-hot Japanese togarashi powder, grilled, then served with red pepper, cucumber and daikon strips in lettuce leaves.

The Spicy Mayonnaise (also used in the Spicy Tuna Rolls in the book) combines mayo with more togarashi powder, Sriracha chili sauce, dried red chili flakes and chili sesame oil. (Note: Taste as you make this sauce to get the mouth-burn level you are looking for as it is going on the already spicy shrimp). The wraps were fresh tasting and full of spicy flavor and the spicy mayo sauce is pretty addicting. A easy to throw together recipe that is a keeper for sure

I felt very elegant eating the Lyonnaise Salad--a blend of frisee and endive mixed with bacon, Gruyere cheese, haricots verts, tarragon and parsley in a Sherry Vinaigrette (sherry-vinegar, orange juice and shallots), and topped with a poached egg.

With this salad and a glass of white wine, I felt like I should be sitting in a French bistro. Tramanto also serves it with Garlic Croutons but being a crouton "disliker"--I skipped making them and served mine with some soft olive bread to soak up the runny egg yolk.

Bacon, cheese, and runny egg over slightly bitter greens--could a salad be better? Tramonto says it is a great way to start a steak meal but I found it to be a perfect meal on it's own.

Being a fish lover, I wanted to try one of the book's fish recipes and I picked one where I could use some local fish, the Grilled Mediterranean-Style Mahimahi with Olives and Shaved Fennel. The mahimahi is marinated in Tramanto's House Dressing (a blend of vinegars, mustard, garlic, basil and oregano), then grilled and served over a tasty salad of shaved fennel, fennel fronds, olives, red onion, basil, cilantro, lemon juice and lemon zest.

This was a great pairing of flavors and ingredients and I loved the fennel salad which would pair nicely with any grilled fish for a lighter healthy dinner.

Of course as the title of the book includes steak, I had to make one. I don't go to steak houses very often, but when I do I always order the petite Filet Mignon and indulge in a side of creamed spinach. Tramanto's filet is grilled with olive oil, salt and pepper and he recommends serving it with a Bearnaise Sauce (or a Red Wine Sauce). I went for the Bearnaise (my first time making it), a rich and tangy blend of taragon vinegar, shallots, egg yolks, butter lemon juice and fresh tarragon leaves.

Although my grass-fed steak was most excellent on its own, topping it with the Bearnaise sauce made it even more incredible.

Most creamed spinach recipes are cheesy and heavy but Rick's Steakhouse Creamed Spinach is somewhat lighter and made with baby spinach, shallots and clotted cream or creme fraiche and seasoned with nutmeg and a bit of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. It was delicious, both with the steak and with eggs the next day for breakfast. I can't tell you how happy this dinner made me--well worth an extra workout. ;-)

Finally, dessert! Once I saw it, I knew I had to make the Killer Chocolate Pudding--a mix of bittersweet and milk chocolate and cream, topped with whipped cream and grated white chocolate and a sprinkling of artisanal salt.

Rather than topping it with the white chocolate shavings, I used some fun little curls of dark and white chocolate and used some Hawaiian black lava salt for the topping. Perfect--smooth, chocolaty and the sprinkle of salt gave it an almost caramel essence. Definitely killer! Well worth two extra workouts! ;-)

"Steak with Friends" is full of mouth-watering, indulgent food that is homey but also has an elegant edge. The recipes I tried were all relatively easy to make and really delicious--exactly the kind of food you want to share with your family and friends. It is "guy friendly" but varied enough to appeal not just to men, and it is the type of book any grill master or home chef would love.

For another foodie perspective and a peek at even more of the fabulous recipes in this book, check out my pal Natashya's review of "Steak with Friends" at Living in the Kitchen with Puppies (here).

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Creamy Tomato-Bean Purée with Crispy Basil-Capocolla-Bread Topping for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sunday

OK, it's true...I basically made a soup in order to eat the topping. I was thinking about Ina Garten's recipe for Pappa Al Pomidoro (here), and more than the soup, I was thinking about the topping of bread, pancetta and basil, roasted with olive oil in the oven--yum! I had a multigrain baguette, fresh basil and some spicy capocolla (similar to pancetta but with a spicy kick), all on hand so I was good to go. Topping decided on, I needed a quick and easy soup to go underneath it and decided to throw a quick creamy tomato soup together in my Vitamix, using cannellini beans for the creamy factor. Easy, good and perfect with the crunchy topping.

Tomato-Bean Purée with Crispy Basil-Capocolla-Bread Topping
by Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes 2 large servings)

1 box of Pomi tomatoes or 1 (15 oz) can chopped tomatoes
2 (jarred) roasted red peppers
1 can cannellini beans (low sodium preferred)
pinch each of dried oregano, basil, & thyme
small pinch of red pepper flakes
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

topping (see recipe below)

Vitamix or High-Power Blender: Put all ingredients except for topping into the Vitamix and blend on high for about 5 minutes until steam starts to rise from lid.


No Blender: Place all ingredients into a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes. Purée in blender or in pot with immersion blender until smooth.

Serve in shallow bowls with a scoop of the topping.

Crispy Basil-Capocolla-Bread Topping
adapted from Ina Garten

1 1/2 cups crusty multigrain bread, diced
2 oz thick cut capocolla, pancetta or other cured meat, diced
leaves from 1 small bunch basil
1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
salt and black pepper

Place the bread cubes, capocolla, and basil on a sheet pan large enough to hold them in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss well. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 to 25 minutes, until all the ingredients are crisp. The basil leaves will turn dark and crisp.

Notes/Results: Creamy and good, with a nice little kick from the dried chili pepper flakes and spicy capocolla. The soup goes together in no time flat in a high-powered blender but is still quick and easy when it is made on the stove top. And the topping...well...I could just sit and eat a bowl of it by itself--and it is a good reminder of the genius of Ina. Quick, easy and delicious--what more could you want in a bowl of soup?!

Let's see who is in the Souper Sunday kitchen this week:

Tigerfish from Tezcape--An Escape to Food is here and with a healthy and healing Watercress and Daikon Soup. Tigerfish says, "This soup was somehow created because I was eager to heal myself from a irritable "stubborn phlegm and breathless coughing" symptom. Daikon is known to be good for soothing a bad throat, thinning mucus (clears phlegm) and nourish the "Qi" (energy) in the body. As I understand, watercress is supposed to be a natural expectorant. As a critic of my own soup, I would say this soup is slightly "Over-Done" or Chinese call it 画蛇添足 (Chinese idiom which means: drawing a snake and adding feet to it). My personal opinion is to leave watercress alone when making soup. Somehow, adding another vegetable seems to have stolen that distinct unique bittersweet taste of watercress. The soup still tastes good (there is no big clash of flavors) and definitely healing (which is most importantly what I wanted to achieve in this soup)."

The wonderful Kim from Stirring the Pot brought a soup and a salad this week. For her soup she tried Mark Bittman's Chile Bisque. Kim says, "I love the gorgeous pumpkin color! The bisque is packed with smoky flavor and is probably not for everyone. It is definitely hot and spicy, but the main flavor that comes through is the smokiness from the peppers. There was no way that I could eat the soup straight up, so I garnished it with some fried tortilla strips, grated monterey jack cheese, and chives. Even with the garnishes, this is a very strong-flavored soup and is probably best served in small portions. I would recommend this soup to someone who likes both spicy hot and smoky. It is a gorgeous and unique recipe."

For her salad, Kim made one of my favorites, a Green Pea Salad, this one from Paula Dean. She says, "This is a great springtime or even summertime side dish! Instead of having the standard potato or macaroni salad at your next cookout or barbecue, try this green pea salad. It is the perfect addition to your grilled, barbecued, or even fried chicken. I really like how Paula lightened up this recipe by cutting the mayo with a bit of vinegar. The little chunks of egg and bacon add delicious flavor and color to the dish.This green pea salad is going to be a new side dish here at Stirring the Pot. It was a hit with everybody. Best of all, I don't even feel bad about eating it!"

Lea Ann from Mangoes, Chili and Z, made a spring-like and lyrically-named Strawberry Fields Forever Salad full of chicken, greens and gorgeous red berries. She says, "In the last 24 hours in Colorado we’ve seen rain, hail, tornadoes, sleet balls, lightening, thunder, street flooding, it’s currently snowing like the dickens and I think I just spotted a swarm of locust fly through. And as one of my friends on Facebook said “cue volcano”. What does all of this mean? It’s Springtime in the Rockies and it’s salad season.Speaking of floods, strawberries are everywhere right now. It seems you can’t walk into any market in Denver without a big display of baskets of perfect strawberries pleading to be adopted. A recent trip to Costco found a large flat of strawberries in my cart, in my car, and now in my refrigerator. Let’s make a salad! Not really using a recipe, I just used what I had on hand." The result, Lea Ann says is "a fabulous mid-week light dinner. "

Debby from A Feast for the Eyes made an America's Test Kitchen recipe, their Antipasto Pasta Salad which had not caught her eye until watching an episode of the show. Debby says, "This salad takes a few steps to prepare, but I have to say that each step was worth the effort. It's quite colorful, don't you think? Since I'm not a big fan of pepperoni, I found that flavor to be a little too dominate for my own personal taste. However, my husband and son loved this recipe. They thought the pepperoni ratio was just right for them-- so adjust according to your personal preference. I picked out the mushrooms and ate them with great relish, they are that good. This salad is hearty enough as a main dish, but could also be a side dish. From start to finish, this salad took over an hour to prepare. I would definitely make it again, especially for a potluck. It's flavorful, colorful and I think it would be a big hit"

A Greek-Style Orzo Salad made the perfect pairing for a crepe dinner for Natashya at Living in the Kitchen with Puppies. The healthy and colorful salad, from genius Mark Bittman, is chock full olives, onions, tomatoes, feta and herbs. Natashya says that this "salad will be better if it can sit out at room temperature for up to an hour before serving." There was no clue as to how this salad actually tasted on her post, but it looks delicious and like a perfect side dish for any meal!

We have one sandwich this week, a gorgeous Pulled Brisket Sandwich on Homemade Bun from the uber-talented Foodycat. Foodycat says, "I had a brisket in the fridge, but not enough space for a tupperware for curing it. So I decided to have a crack at that classic of Southern American cooking, the pulled brisket. Now the last time I tried to do pulled meat, it wasn't very successful. I guess an English supermarket chain aren't the best people to get recipes from for American dishes. So I turned to an American website, and found this recipe, which very conveniently used the chipotle in adobo that I bought recently. I don't have a slow cooker, so I did it in a Le Creuset in the oven on a low temperature for 4 hours, and that was perfect. And that was the meat sorted out. But of course, woman cannot live on meat alone - even lovely luscious, sauce-rich shreds of pulled brisket. I've had an ambition to bake good hamburger buns, ever so slightly sweet, not too heavy but substantial enough to hold together under a weight of delicious filling. All in all, these were fantastic sandwiches!"

Everything looks wonderful, and you can tell it is becoming salad season for many. ;-) Mahalo to everyone who participated this week! If you have a soup, salad or sandwich that you would like to share, click on the Souper Sunday logo on the side bar for all of the details.

Have a fantastic week!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Limoncello Champagne Cocktails with Mint: A Sweet, Tangy & Sparkling "Simple Saturday Sipper"

I love Limoncello, Mojitos and the occasional Lemon Drop, so when I saw this recipe for Limoncello Champagne Cocktails with Mint in this month's Bon Appétit, it seemed like a great combination of all three drinks and the perfect refreshing spring cocktail and "Simple Saturday Sipper" for this week.

The recipe can be found in the May 2010 Bon Appétit magazine & online at Epicurious here.

Limoncello Champagne Cocktails with Mint
Bon Appétit, May 2010
(Makes 2 Servings)

1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup limoncello
2 tablespoons sugar plus additional for dipping Champagne flutes
Lemon peel strips from 1 lemon
4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice plus 1 lemon wedge
1 cup (about) chilled Champagne or sparkling wine

Place mint, limoncello, 2 tablespoons sugar, and lemon strips in blender; blend until mint is finely chopped (lemon peel will be coarsely chopped), 10 seconds. Strain into small cup; discard solids.

Run lemon wedge around rim of 2 Champagne flutes. Dip rims into sugar. Divide limoncello mixture and lemon juice between flutes. Top with Champagne.

Notes/Results: Refreshing, lightly sweet and a little tangy, this is a fun and sparkling cocktail to enjoy in the warmer weather. I used a teaspoon of agave in place of the sugar, prosecco for the sparkle, and some mint-flecked mojito glass rimming sugar I had sitting around the pantry to coat the rims of the flutes. This is a great little drink and I could easily see making up a big batch of the limoncello-mint mixture and lemon juice in a big pitcher, grabbing a couple of bottles of Champagne or sparkling wine, and serving it at a party. I will make this one again.

Happy Saturday!

What are you drinking today?! ;-)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Smoked Salmon and Apple Carpaccio: An Easy Pupu from Giada

Much as I love shopping at the farmers market and natural foods stores, I sometimes cannot resist the lure of the big box store. Although in my small household it doesn't make sense to buy a lot of items in bulk at Costco, there are a few things I go for. Case in point, where else can you buy ginormous bottles of capers like the one below? I often express my love for these salty little bites and I put them in everything from my tuna salad sandwich to my spaghetti sauce and everything in between, making those tiny little bottles you normally see both impractical and expensive. (This supersized one was under $6.00 and trust me, I will use it up!) Of course there was room in the cart and budget for Giada's new cookbook, "Giada At Home"--which contained the perfect recipe to use up some of those capers; her Smoked Salmon and Apple Carpaccio. It might sound odd to some, combining smoked fish with tart green apples and salty capers, but I had a feeling I was going to like this dish and I was right. It is a quick and simple appetizer (or pupu as we call them here), that has a wonderful combination of flavors and textures.

(Note size of caper bottle as compared to cookbook size)

This recipe can be found both in "Giada At Home" (pg 32-33) and at the Food Network site here.

Giada says, "When I go to a restaurant and want something light, I immediately look to the carpaccios and crudos, which often feature marinated raw fish. Smoked salmon can deliver the same light, clean flavors but without the worry of serving raw beef or fish at home. I like to arrange the salmon and apples on a platter and let guests pile them onto slices of bread themselves; the color of the salmon is simply stunning next to the green apples, which also contribute crunch and freshness."

Smoked Salmon and Apple Carpaccio
Giada De Laurentiis
(Makes 4-6 Servings)

6 (1/4-inch thick) slices rosemary or olive bread, quartered
6 ounces Nova Scotia smoked salmon
1 small green apple, such as Granny Smith, halved and cut into very thin slices
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and drained
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place the bread on a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until lightly brown and crisp. Cool to room temperature, about 10 minutes.

Arrange the smoked salmon in a single layer on a serving platter. Lay the apple slices on top. Sprinkle the capers over the salmon and apple slices. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve with the toasted bread.

*Note: To prevent the apples from browning, in a small bowl combine 2 cups water with the juice of 1 lemon. Add the apple slices and soak until ready to use. Drain and blot with paper towels just before using.

Notes/Results: Excellent! This is a light and tasty snack, appetizer or even part of a light dinner with a salad or a bowl of soup. If you like the three main components separately, I bet you will like this combination. It isn't something I would ever think to put together, salmon and capers pair well of course, but adding the wild card green apple really works. The only thing I did differently was to leave my soft, gorgeous, still warm bakery olive filone un-toasted--it was just too perfectly soft and chewy not to. Low effort, pretty to look at, big taste, I will make this again.

Happy Earth Day! (Guess I should have posted something green!)