Sunday, August 22, 2010

Lemony Couscous with Lucques Olives and Ricotta Salata served with Romesco Sauce

Last year my mother, sister and I spent a week in New York relishing Broadway, the museums and of course eating amazing meals. One of these extraordinary meals was at a great little restaurant called where Gabrielle Hamilton is the chef. I still remember what we ate that night: Roasted Marrow Bones, Grilled Octopus Salad and Whole Fish with Fennel Oil. That entire trip I was speechless about the amazing food we ate. That meal in particular has remained one of my all time favorites. So... you say what does this have to do with this entry. Well long story short Gabrielle Hamilton's sister Mellisa is partnered with Christopher Hersheimer in a venture called They self publish seasonal cookbooks which are great. I was so excited to go to my mailbox today because there was a big brown package that I knew was my birthday gift to myself... The 4th volume of Canal House Cooking. Their recipe for Romesco Sauce inspired this dish.

Romesco Sauce
makes about 2 cups

1cup toasted almonds and hazelnuts
3 roasted tomatoes
1 bulb roasted garlic
2 teaspoons ancho chili powder
1 tablespoon pimenton dulce
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 0r 2 piquillo peppers
1 slice french bread toasted

Put nuts in a food processor and process until finely ground. Add peppers,tomatoes, garlic, chili powder, pimenton, wine, bread and vinegar and pulse to make a chunky mixture slowly add the olive oil. Let sit for 15 minutes to develop flavor. Store in the refrigerator for up to a month.

This sauce is perfect for fish veggies or with french bread and olive oil. I used it to accompany the couscous dish here. Then I'll have it with fish tomorrow. It has a slightly spicy, nutty and smoky flavor that makes me think of Italy on a warm night.

I have to tell you this Lemony couscous is so creamy (yet cream free). It has this kind of velvety texture that plays off the crunch of the Lucques olives and then you have the tanginess of the cheese. All these great flavors playing off your tongue . You can eat it either warm or cold. It's one of those salads that really fills you up but won't bog you done because it really is fairly light.

Lemony Couscous with Olives, Basil and Ricotta Salata:

2cups Israeli couscous
2 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion
4 cloves garlic
1 zest of a lemon
3 tablespoons lemon juice
3/4 cup Lucques green olives
1/2 cup fresh basil
1/2 cup flat leaf parsley
Ricotta salata

Heat the chicken stock with bay leaf. Add couscous and bring to boil, lower temp to low and cook for 10 minutes or until all liquid is gone. reserve.
In skillet saute onions in olive oil until caramelized add garlic. Add couscous,lemon zest, lemon juice, olives, basil, and parsley. Stir and warm thru. Serve with strips of ricotta salata. Drizzle with good olive oil and serve.

This is super yummy enjoy!!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Caramel-Laquered Coconut Shrimp with Spicy Pineapple Honey Dip

Sunday is a great day. It's the time when after a crazy week at work I get a chance to work in my yard, relax with a glass of wine and read a book. Or, just think about what I might want to cook during the next week. When I was young Sundays meant: the whole day spent in the pool, my dad home all day and usually an al fresco dinner on the patio. Now that I'm grown, Sunday remains a day that I still like to have an easy meal that we can enjoy outside or relax with. This is one of those recipes. Easy, fun. Great to serve to family and friends. It is really a finger food that could easily be an appetizer but makes for a great summer meal if you add a few sides.

I have a love affair with sticky, spicy, rich, fingerlicken foods. When I saw the article in my new Food and Wine magazine about in North Carolina and the chefs recipe for Caramel-Lacquered Pork belly I thought what could be better...pork fat with all the above mentioned attributes. But, alas I will forgo the Pork belly and tweak the recipe to meet some semblance of health.

Enjoy this incredibly fun and sexy recipe and all the fingerlicking that goes along with it!!!!

Recipe for the Lacquer:

1/2 c sugar
2 teaspoons Asian fish sauce
1 teaspoon tamarind concentrate
1 Thai or Serrano chili minced
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

In a sauce pan,cook 1/4 cup of the sugar over mod high heat until it starts to melt.Swirl the pan and cook over mod heat until it is completely melted about 5 min. Add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and cook swirling until a richly brown caramel forms.

Turn off the heat and pour in 1/3 c water. Turn the heat to high and cook, stirring, until the caramel is smooth. Remove pan from heat and stir in the fish sauce, tamarind, chili, and the lime juice.

Recipe for the Coconut Shrimp:

15-20 lg prawns
1/2 c flour for dredging
2c sweetened shredded coconut
The Caramel Lacquer you just made.

1. Dredge the shrimp in the flour and shake off excess. soak in the Lacquer then dredge in the shredded coconut.

2.Place on a rack in a baking sheet.
3 Pre heat oven to 425 and cook for 15 minute until brown.

The Spicy Pineapple Honey Dipping Sauce:
One 20 0z can Pineapple chunks or half a Pineapple plus some juice.
3 cloves garlic minced
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoon corn starch
1 Jalapeno minced
1 red bell pepper chopped
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons cider vinegar

1.Blend all ingredients (except the vinegar and honey) in a blender. Simmer for 1/2 hour.Stain and stir in vinegar. cool


I served this with some scallion rice and a Asian inspired slaw. We ate until we were stuffed and sat around smacking our lips and licking our fingers truly a sexy dish....

Monday, August 9, 2010

Meyer Lemon Sorbet with Blackberry Galette:

Where is the sun??? The mornings are so foggy lately on the coast it's making me long for the sunny summer days that haven't quite happened yet.
The last of my Meyer lemons are smiling at me with their sunny yellow skins and I have two full baskets of lovely blackberries suggesting a summer picnic.

HELLO SUMMER!! even if it's an illusion...

I seriously love to cook from things that I see that are appealing and bring me some sort of inspiration. Like something fresh from my yard, the farmers market or just an interesting picture in some food rag or blog.

This recipe for Meyer Lemon Sorbet makes enough for two but if your smart you will double it to share. Make just the amount below and you will regret it after the first bite. Fresh...Tart...Amazingly refreshing and goes fabulous with the Blackberry Galette.

Meyer Lemon Sorbet:

1cup sugar
1cup water
1cup freshly squeezed juice from Meyer lemons
2 teaspoons lemon zest


1 In small pan on medium high heat, make a simple syrup by heating sugar and water until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool. Mix the juice and the zest. Chill.
2 Once the mixture is thoroughly chilled, freeze in your ice cream maker according to instructions . If you don't have an ice cream maker you can freeze in a shallow pan until semi solid. Then take a fork and fluff returning to the freezer to freeze firm.
3 Scoop with melon baller and garnish with mint. Makes 2 1/2 cups

On a long road trip up the coast of Oregon my husband and I had a amazing piece of blackberry pie and ever since I tasted those blackberries i couldn't get them out of my head. Rich, dark and juicy.Deep purple and Luscious. After milling a few ideas in my mind I opt for the most rustic (another word for easy) Hello!!! it is me I'm talking about...

There are a gazillion flaky pastry crust recipes. This one is a little different because it has the addition of polenta. Guaranteed to be ten times better than store bought and even tho I'm not much of a pastry kind of gal this one is super easy. Just keep the ingredients as cold as possible and you cant go wrong. The filling is just as easy. The taste is juicy and buttery. Brought me right back to our road trip. Serve this with the Meyer lemon sorbet and you will be in summer Nirvana.
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup polenta
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold butter, cut into small pieces
1/3 cup buttermilk

4 cups blackberries
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoon milk
1 1/2 tablespoon turbinado sugar
1. To prepare pastry, lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Combine flour and the next 3 ingredients in food processor; pulse 2 times. Add butter to flour mixture; pulse 4-5 times or until mixture resembles coarse meal. With processor on, slowly add buttermilk through food chute; process just until dough forms a ball. Gently press into 4 inch disc on plastic wrap; cover. Chill 30 min.
2 Preheat oven 350
3 unwrap and place dough on a sheet of parchment paper. Roll dough into 15 inch circle. Place dough and parchment onto baking sheet.
4 To prepare filling, combine the berries and next 3 ingredients in a medium bowl; toss gently to coat. Arrange berry mixture in the center of the dough, leaving a 2 inch border. Fold edges of dough toward center, pressing gently to seal.
5. Combine the milk and egg; whisk. Brush dough with mixture; sprinkle with the sugar. Bake at 350 for 1 hour or until pastry is golden brown. Let stand for 30 minutes before serving; cut into wedges.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Broccolini with Cherry Tomatoes and Garlic

I have been on a Broccolini tirade lately. It is a bit more delicate then it's cousin. A hybrid of Broccoli and Chinese Kale. It is a tender, slightly sweet vegetable. So when cooking Broccolini less is more. It needs very minimal cooking time. Which is probably why I like it so much for a quick side with a grilled steak or over some pasta. This is my favorite recipe that I've come up with so far. Slightly sweet from the red onions, spicy from the red pepper and fried garlic and tart from the fresh cherry tomatoes. This is also fabulous with Burrata!!!


4 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
8 Cloves garlic sliced thin
1/2 Lg red onion sliced thin
2 Tbs sugar
1 Tsp crushed red pepper
1 Cup sliced cherry tomatoes
1 Tbs Lemon Zest
pinch salt
Cracked black pepper to taste

Heat Olive Oil in large saute pan on low. Add sliced garlic until slightly browned.(very slightly browned or it will be bitter ) Remove onto paper towel and set aside.

Add onions to oil. Saute slowly until soft about 10 minutes. Add sugar to caramelize. Add crushed red pepper.

Set pan on stove with water to boil. Blanch Broccolini for 1 minute
Remove with slotted spoon and add to saute pan.
Add tomatoes, garlic lemon zest salt and pepper heat thru briefly.

That's it Enjoy!