BLT Salad (from Shelby, NC)

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Our daughter Ally’s boyfriend Jackson spent quite a bit of time with us this summer. He and Ally were here at our house for a few days before we all headed up to Sonoma for our son Kyle’s wedding, where he stayed with us for a week. He’s a really wonderful guy and we like him a lot. And I give him all the props in the world for his “trial by fire” in meeting the whole extended mishpacha. All at once. And he did great – every single one of them had such nice things to say about him.

Ally & Jackson in San Diego (La Jolla/Torrey Pines)

Ally & Jackson in San Diego (La Jolla/Torrey Pines)

Ally and Jackson met in New Orleans (where they are both living) and he is from North Carolina, so we haven’t met his family (Ally has – she spent Christmas with them last year). But a couple weeks after the wedding, I received the most lovely email from Jackson’s mom, Chrys. She complimented me on the blog. She said she has made a couple recipes and really enjoys finding out about our family through reading it. (Awwww!) She thanked us for hosting Jackson at our home and said that she wanted to send us some Cleveland County peaches. She asked if I knew if it was possible to send fresh fruit. I told her that it’s possible, but that I had learned from personal experience (via a “fruit of the month club” gift) that California’s department of agriculture won’t allow certain fruit into California (don’t even get me started on that! Let’s just say that the “fruit of the month” usually ends up being apples!) She said she’d look into it. I didn’t hear anything back and quite frankly, had forgotten all about it.

Then a few weeks ago I received a package in the mail, from Chrys. It was a cookbook called A River’s Course – a Gourmet Collection from the Junior Charity League of Shelby, North Carolina. It has the most beautiful cover that looks like an oil painting of a river. She wrote the sweetest note, too, telling me that, indeed the CA Dept of Food & Agriculture told her NC peaches couldn’t come to CA for fear of fruit flies. She said “Come to NC and we’ll take you to the spots pictured (& eat peaches!”). She also took the time to list some of their favorite recipes from the book, as well as the pages they’re found on!!! What a nice, generous and thoughtful person!

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Well, it just so happens that the day the book arrived was one of those days that I’m driving home from work thinking, “ugh, what are we going to have for dinner? I don’t feel like going to the store.” So I couldn’t have been more excited to receive a brand new cookbook!! I started thumbing through the book, hoping to find inspiration.

I turned to the “Salads” section and saw a lot of delicious looking recipes that I earmarked for later, and then came to BLT Salad. Yum. Scanned the ingredients…lo and behold, I had everything! It’s kind of a cross between a BLT sandwich and a Panzanella Salad. Really yummy. I added avocado and tossed in some leftover cooked chicken. It was a delicious, really easy, light weeknight dinner. Will definitely be making this one again. Often.

Thank you so much Chrys (and Greg, Jackson, Emma and Katy)! I do hope to get to Shelby someday to see all of those beautiful places…and eat peaches!

BLT Salad

Serves 2 as a main course

(adapted slightly)

INGREDIENTS

6 slices bacon

1/4 loaf Italian or sourdough bread

Kosher salt to taste

1/4 teaspoon minced fresh garlic

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon water

1 small red onion, chopped

1/2 pound cherry tomatoes, halved

1 head Boston lettuce (I actually used romaine, because that’s what I had), torn into bite-sized pieces

Optional:

1 avocado, pitted, peeled and chopped

1 cup cooked chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces

DIRECTIONS

In a skillet, cook bacon over moderate heat until crisp. Reserving 1 tablespoon drippings in skillet, drain bacon on paper towels and crumble.

Cut bread into 3/4-inch cubes to measure 1 cup. Heat bacon drippings over moderately high heat but not smoking and sauté bread crumbs with salt to taste, until golden brown. Transfer croutons to paper towels to drain and cool.

In a small bowl, whisk together garlic, lemon juice, mayonnaise, water, salt and pepper to taste.

In a large bowl, toss together lettuce, tomatoes, onion, bacon, croutons, avocado (if using) and chicken (if using), salt and pepper to taste and enough dressing to coat.

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Beer-Can Chicken

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So I think I’ve mentioned that the July “Grilling” issue of Bon Appétit is my favorite issue of the year (followed by a close second is the Thanksgiving issue).  This July’s has already produced infamous Sriracha-Glazed Chicken Skewers and the Beer-Can Chicken recipe had been taunting me for too long.  So I decided to make it one Saturday a couple weeks ago.  

Tony and I had been running around doing errands and stopped in at our local Sprouts Farmer’s Market to pick up the ingredients for dinner (the chicken and our fave Broccoli Slaw).  Sprouts is a chain of smallish grocery stores that specialize in organic, natural and healthy products.  Which is great – we bought a Rosie Brand “sustainably farmed, free range, organic, hormone and antibiotic-free” chicken, but the recipe calls for a can of light lager beer and Sprouts had a great selection of expensive bottled craft beers, but the only beer in cans they had was 12-packs of Pabst Blue Ribbon. (Seriously?  PBR?  I know PBR has become quite the hipster beer lately with most trendy, cool bars serving it, but really? A 12-pack?  All I needed was one can!)

1/2 can PBR + 4-3-2-1 Spice Rub = 1 delicious chicken

1/2 can PBR + 4-3-2-1 Spice Rub = 1 delicious chicken

Okay, fine.  So we took our expensive sustainably farmed, organic, free range chicken and our 12-pack of PBR home.  And you know what?  This chicken is DE-licious.  Incredibly delicious. And so easy and simple.  It’s moist and tender.  The steam from the beer and the salt in the rub just lock in all the juices.  And the skin gets all browned and crisp.  In the famous words of Colonel Sanders, “it’s finger licking good”.  Literally.  We were pulling meat off the bones and licking our fingers.  Tony claimed it was the best chicken he had ever had anywhere.  I’m still torn between this and the Sriracha skewers, but we’ll definitely be making this again.  And again.

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Well, what can I say? It IS called Beer-Can Chicken!

And the PBR wasn’t so bad either.

Beer-Can Chicken

(Bon Appétit, July 2013)

 INGREDIENTS

1 can light lager beer

1 3 1/2- to 4-pound chicken (buy the best quality chicken you can find)

2 tablespoons 4-3-2-1 Spice Rub (recipe follows)

 Special equipment: A foil baking pan (for drip pan)

DIRECTIONS

Pour out (or drink) half of beer (guess which I opted for?  Lol.)  Tip:  if you use a can opener to remove the whole top of the beer can, it’ll maximize the boozy vapors that make it to the chicken

Prepare grill for high, indirect heat and fit with grill pan (for a charcoal grill, bank coals on 1 side of grill and put drip pan on empty side; for a gas grill, leave 1 burner turned off and place drip pan over unlit burner). Add water to pan to a depth of 1/2″.

Season chicken with 2 tablespoons 4-3-2-1 Spice Rub. Place cavity of chicken, legs pointing down, onto open can so that it supports chicken upright. Place can, with chicken, on grill over indirect heat (and above drip pan). Grill chicken, covered, until cooked through and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of thigh registers 165°F, 45-60 minutes. (If using charcoal, you may need to add more to maintain heat.) Let chicken rest 10 minutes before carving. Serve with pan drippings.

4-3-2-1 Spice Rub

You can use this simple formula to sass up plenty of things that aren’t poultry, like pork, steak, or vegetables.

INGREDIENTS

4 tablespoons kosher salt

3 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons sweet paprika

1 tablespoon cayenne pepper

 DIRECTIONS

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.  Makes enough spice rub for two whole chickens. Double or triple the recipe and use it all summer.  Keep the leftover in a tightly covered jar or container.

Apple-Pomegranate Crisp

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When I wrote the post about Summer Berry Crisp, I told you all just how easy fruit crisp desserts are.  Believe me, they are.  Another great thing about a crisp is that you can make them with any fruit and combination of fruit.  You can adapt it to any fruit that’s in season.  Case in point…Apple Pomegranate Crisp.  The recipe is exactly the same as the Summer Berry Crisp, except I replaced the berries with Granny Smith apples and tossed in some pomegranate seeds.

My friend Sandy invited us for break-the-fast on Saturday night. I offered to make dessert.  She requested a fruit crisp (no surprise there, she was the one who requested a crisp when I made the berry one for her Memorial Day party.)  I wanted to do something Fall-ish.  In the back of my mind, I was going to do an Apple Cranberry Crisp, but it’s a little early for fresh cranberries (and though I usually buy extra fresh cranberries when they are in season, throw them in a Ziploc bag,  put them in the freezer, so I have them on hand, but there were none).  I looked in the fridge and saw that I had a container of pomegranate seeds (you may have noticed lately my new found obsession with said seeds…sprinkled on my Everyday Granola and yogurt in the morning, added to Pomegranate Margaritas, baked into oatmeal-white chocolate chip cookies…), so I decided I’d try them.  And we were all glad I did!  They added just a little tartness to the apples and it was delicious.

And then I got super motivated and decided to make a Honey-Vanilla ice cream to go with it.  Yum!  Until I remembered that we were picnicking at the beach (DUHHHH!), so how could I bring ice cream?! What a dork.  I ended up whipping a little cream and bringing that.  Now I have a container of Honey-Vanilla ice cream in the freezer!  I may just bake another batch of the oatmeal cookies and make ice cream sandwiches.  Mmmmmmm….

 Apple-Pomegranate Crisp

INGREDIENTS

5 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced thin

1/2 cup pomegranate arils (seeds)

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup flour

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Crisp Topping:

1 cup old-fashioned oats

1/2 cup flour

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

pinch of salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Vanilla ice cream or whipped cream or, for serving

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 375°.  Butter a 9×13″ baking dish.

Gently combine the apples with the sugar, flour and lemon juice.  Gently mix in the pomegranate arils.

Prepare the topping:  Combine the oats, flour, both sugars, cinnamon and salt in a bowl.  Use a pastry blender or two knives to work the butter until topping resembles coarse meal. (Fold in pecans if using.)  Sprinkle evenly over the berries.

Bake until the fruit is bubbling and the topping is golden brown, about 40-45 minutes.  Remove the crisp to a rack to cool slightly.  Serve in dessert bowls, warm or at room temperature, with ice cream or whipped cream.

Fruited Cheese Log

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This is yet another really old recipe.  It’s from Better Foods & Gardens magazine and was the $200 winner in the Prize Tested Recipes® section, submitted by Laurie Robinson from Tonasket, WA, in the “cheesy appetizer category”, October 2002.  I just love the combination of cheese, dried fruit and nuts.  I used to make it a lot and made it often when we’d have family and friends over for Sukkot (read more about this Jewish holiday here) and even part of our breaking-the-fast meal.  It’s light and easy and reminds me of fall.

Tony’s sister Kelly was particularly fond of it.  Then one time her husband asked me what it was called and I said, “Fruited Cheese Log” and he thought that was the funniest thing ever.  He was like, “it’s really good, but you gotta change the name.  There’s nothing appetizing about a log of cheese.”  So then of course, every time I’d pull out the recipe after that, I’d think “there’s nothing appetizing about a log of cheese” and I’d put the recipe back.

Well, I’m going to tell you…this particular log of cheese is appetizing.  In fact, it’s actually quite yummy!  I’m proud to say that I’ve brought the recipe out again and will be back in the regular line-up! It’s great spread on crackers or sliced apple.  We even “shmeared” it on toasted bagels the other morning.

Fruited Cheese Log

INGREDIENTS

8 ounces (2 cups) shredded Monterey Jack cheese, room temperature

1/2 of an 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature

2 tablespoons orange juice

1 cup dried fruit, chopped (Your favorites. I like golden raisins, apricots and cranberries.)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup toasted almonds (pistachios are good too!)

DIRECTIONS

Place jack cheese, cream cheese and orange juice in a medium bowl.  Beat with an electric mixture (or use the paddle attachment of a stand mixer) until thoroughly combined. Stir in dried fruit.

Divide mixture in half.  On a large piece of waxed paper, shape one portion of the mixture into a log about 5 inches long.  Repeat with remaining portion. Cover and chill for 4 to 24 hours.  Roll in nuts before serving.  (I’ve found it’s easiest if you let the log sit at room temperature for 15 or so minutes before rolling.  Also, if you spread the chopped nuts on plastic wrap, you can use the plastic wrap to “pat” the nut, as you roll the cheese in them, to help stick to the cheese.)

Serve with assorted crackers or apple slices.

I’ve kept the extra cheese log in the fridge for a week or so.

Pomegranate and Queso Fresco Salsa

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Rosh Hashanah starts Wednesday at sundown.  I kept meaning to write a post with a nice recipe for the holiday.  Trouble is, yesterday was Labor Day, we had a few people over for a nice BBQ, which was a lot of fun, but I was in barbecue mode, not really in the Jewish holiday mindset (though I did use Martha’s idea for using a carved out apple as a honey dish and we all said a quick blessing over apples and honey).

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It’s also been unbelievably HOT and humid in San Diego lately.  I think it was 95 degrees today.  (Not really thinking about kugel and roast chicken right now…oy.)  So late last night, I went to the Epicurious site and saw “get ready for Rosh Hashanah with these recipes for the Jewish New Year”.  There were a few categories…”Apples, Honey, Brisket, Pomegranate”.  I wasn’t really interested in a baked apple kugel or a honey cake and for sure not roasting a brisket for four hours, so I clicked on “Pomegranate”.  I actually love using pomegranate arils (seeds) in all kinds of different dishes (see below), including the infamous Pomegranate Margarita.

Okay, and here’s your Jewish lesson for today.  We all know why we dip apples in honey at Rosh Hashanah, right? It symbolizes our wish for a sweet new year.  But do you know why we eat pomegranates? For one, because they are a “new fruit” (meaning, a fruit that has recently come into season but that we have not yet had the opportunity to eat).  A pomegranate is often used as this new fruit…Israel is praised for its pomegranates. It is also said that they contain 613 seeds just as there are 613 mitzvot (commandments).  And (my favorite), it symbolizes that the new year should be bursting with sweetness and blessings as numerous as the seeds of the pomegranate.

Back to the pomegranate recipes.  I found this one for Pomegranate and Queso Fresco Salsa from Marcela Valladolid, Mexican Made Easy: Everyday Ingredients, Extraordinary Flavor.  Sounded really delicious and easy.  And I do love Mexican food.  Thought it would be really good on carne asada tacos.  Done and done.  I did alter it just a bit (used Cotija cheese rather than queso fresco, because that’s what I had on hand and added a little lime juice).  Oh, and truth be told, when I stopped at Trader Joe’s, I bought a package of their fresh pomegranate seeds and, yes, some already marinated carne asada.

It was muy delicioso in the tacos.  I think it would also be delicious on grilled fish, chicken (like paillards) or lamb.  You can do any of these for a non-traditional Rosh Hashanah meal OR, I bet it would be a perfect accompaniment to a roast chicken…or, dare I say, brisket?

Oh, and here are some of my other favorite Rosh Hashanah recipes here on the blog:  Apple/Pomegranate/Blue Cheese Salad with Honey Vinaigrette, Seven Species Salad, Apples & Honey Cake, Spiced Applesauce Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting,  and Oatmeal/Pomegranate/White Chocolate Chip Cookies.

L’shana Tova and may the new year be bursting with sweetness and blessings as numerous as the seeds of the pomegranate!

Pomegranate and Queso Fresco Salsa

INGREDIENTS

1/4 cup pine nuts

1 cup pomegranate seeds, from one large pomegranate* (or one TJ’s 5.3 oz. package)

2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil

2 tablespoons crumbled queso fresco (or Cotija or feta)

1 teaspoon olive oil

juice of one lime

salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

Toast the pine nuts in a dry skillet over medium heat until golden, about 4 minutes.  Transfer to a plate to cool.

In a small bowl, mix the seeds, basil, cheese and cooled pine nuts.  Drizzle with the olive oil and lime juice.  Stir gently.  Season with salt and pepper.

*To seed fresh pomegranate – over a bowl (to catch any juices), cut the pomegranate into four pieces.  Then cover the pieces, in the bowl, with cold water and start pulling the seeds out with your hands.  The seeds will fall to the bottom and the “other stuff” will rise to the top.  Now remove the “other stuff” and drain the water.

Chilled Tomato and Stone Fruit Soup (aka Gazpacho)

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Gazpacho. That Spanish, tomato-based, chilled vegetable soup. Sometimes there’s just nothing better than a nice gazpacho on a summer evening. Last month when we were in Sonoma for our son Kyle’s wedding, I had gazpacho twice. At two different restaurants. Lasalette and Glen Ellen Star. They were both delicious, but I gotta say, the one at Glen Ellen Star was the best. Probably the best I’ve ever had. And the presentation was absolutely beautiful…the prettiest red color, with a little purple heirloom basil flower floating in the bowl. OMG. Tony and I went there for lunch, the day after the wedding. I’m not sure if it was that we were still floating on clouds post-wedding, but it was one of the best lunches ever. Gazpacho. The “sheet music” salad with mixed lettuces, cucumber, avocado, tomato, tahini dressing. A wood-fired white pizza with guanciale and arugula and a wood-oven roasted chicken skewer with tzatziki. OMG.

So when we got back to San Diego, the tomato plants in our garden were going crazy. Still on a high from the wedding and post-wedding gazpacho, I decided that would be a very good use of all our tomatoes. I’ve made gazpacho before. Our daughter Ally loves this grilled vegetable one from Bon Appétit several years ago, but it’s a pain in the a** to make. Delicious, but a pain. I thought I remembered seeing a recipe in a recent BA that sounded interesting, with cherries and peaches, in addition to the tomatoes. Found it. They actually call it Chilled Tomato and Stone Fruit Soup (not sure why they don’t just call it gazpacho?).

I made it. It was delicous. And so easy (I opted for the frozen cherries). Refreshing with just a touch of spicy from a jalapeño and a touch of sweet from cherries and peach. And it was a beautiful color. I actually served it twice – Tony and I had it the first for a light dinner, with a Caesar salad, and then a couple days later, I brought what was left to a friend’s for gazpacho “shooter” hors d’oeuvres (and talk about a nice presentation…garnished with a fresh cherry skewer!) I think it was even better a couple days later!

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Sorry, Ally, this will be the new gazpacho in our house.

Chilled Tomato and Stone Fruit Soup (aka Gazpacho)

(Bon Appétit, August 2013)

INGREDIENTS

2 pounds tomatoes (about 4), quartered

1 large English hothouse cucumber, peeled, seeded, cut into pieces

1 large ripe peach, peeled, halved

1/2 jalapeño, seeded (or with seeds for a spicier soup), chopped

1/2 garlic clove

1 cup fresh (or frozen, thawed) cherries (about 8 ounces), pitted

2 tablespoons (or more) white balsamic or Sherry vinegar

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil plus more

1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt plus more

Freshly ground black pepper

Flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)

DIRECTIONS

Pulse tomatoes in a blender until finely chopped and transfer to a large bowl.

Pulse cucumber, peach, jalapeño, garlic, and cherries in blender until finely chopped and add to bowl with tomatoes. Mix in vinegar, 1/4 cup oil, 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1 cup cold water; season with pepper. Cover and let sit at room temperature 1 hour (I did this and then stuck it in the freezer just to get it chilled…I mean, it’s gazpacho, it needs to be chilled!) or chill at least 12 hours.

Season soup with kosher salt, pepper, and more oil and vinegar, if desired. Serve soup drizzled with oil and seasoned with sea salt and pepper.

DO AHEAD: Soup can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and chill.

Grilled Zucchini and Bell Pepper Fattoush

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Another one of our all-time favorite go-to recipes from Bon Appétit (July 2007).  Grilled Zucchini and Bell Pepper Fattoush.  Fattoush is a Middle Eastern take on panzanella, or Italian bread salad (which, of course, is another of our favorite salads…you’ve seen the recipe, here, on the blog, right?) And isn’t it just fun to say?  Fah-toosh.  What’s for dinner?  Fattoush.

I love the combination of grilled veggies and fresh veggies in this salad.  It’s a great accompaniment with your favorite grilled chicken (Sriracha Chicken Skewers or Paillards?) or lamb or even as a light main dish salad on a warm summer evening.

Grilled Zucchini and Bell Pepper Fattoush

INGREDIENTS

On the grill

3 medium orange or red bell peppers (about 1 pound), stemmed, seeded, quartered

4 to 5 slender zucchini (about 1 pound), trimmed, cut lengthwise in half

2 (5- to 6-inch) pita breads, each cut horizontally into 2 disks, or two 6x4x1/2-inch slices country white bread

Olive oil (for grilling)

For the dish

1 (8-ounce) cucumber, peeled, halved, seeded, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

12 cherry tomatoes, each halved

3 green onions, thinly sliced

1 cup (scant) pitted Kalamata olives, halved

1/2 cup (packed) fresh mint leaves

1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 4-ounce piece feta cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (scant 1 cup)

Ground sumac* (optional) I can honestly say I’ve never used the sumac – I think I couldn’t find it the very first time I made the recipe and have made it so many times without, that I forgot it was even supposed to be included!

 *A fruity, tangy seasoning powder made from ground dried sumac berries; available at Middle Eastern markets

DIRECTIONS

Prepare barbecue (medium heat). Brush peppers, zucchini, and bread on both sides with oil. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Grill peppers and zucchini until slightly charred and just tender, turning often, about 6 minutes. Transfer vegetables to foil-lined baking sheet. Grill bread until lightly charred and just crisp, turning often, about 3 minutes. Transfer to sheet with vegetables and cool. Tear bread into 1-inch pieces. DO AHEAD Vegetables and bread can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.

Cut peppers lengthwise into 1/2-inch-wide strips, then crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces. Cut zucchini lengthwise in half, then crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces. Place in large bowl. Add cucumber, tomatoes, green onions, olives, mint, and cilantro and toss to combine. Add bread pieces. Whisk 1/2 cup oil, lemon juice, and cumin in small bowl to blend. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper. Add dressing to salad; toss to coat. Add feta and gently mix into salad.

Transfer salad to large bowl. Serve, passing ground sumac for sprinkling over, if desired.

Sriracha-Glazed Chicken Skewers

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The July issue of Bon Appétit arrived in our mailbox one afternoon at the end of June at about 4:00pm.  The picture of the Sriracha-Glazed Chicken Skewers on the cover looked so good that I turned immediately to page 69 for the recipe (forgoing reading the entire magazine cover-to-cover, which is my usual routine the day the new BA arrives), made a short list of the few ingredients I didn’t have, soaked the bamboo skewers in water, went to the grocery store and by 7:00pm the same day, said chicken skewers (along with one of our favorite salads – Grilled Zucchini & Bell Pepper Fattoush – recipe to be posted soon) were on the dinner table.

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I can honestly say this might be the best chicken I’ve ever had.  Ever.  The sauce is so darn delicious.  A little spicy.  A little tangy.  A little sweet.  And easy (only seven ingredients, all of which can be found in the Asian section of your supermarket).  I think we’ve made them probably four times since.  In fact, I’m thinking maybe I’ll even make them again tonight.

Oh, and yes, after dinner that night, I did sit on the couch and read the magazine cover-to-cover…there’s a great barbecue sauce recipe in there and one for Roasted Strawberry-Buttermilk Sherbet that was to die for.

Sriracha-Glazed Chicken Skewers

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar

1/2 cup unseasoned rice vinegar

1/3 cup hot chili paste (such as sambal oelek)*

1/4 cup fish sauce (such as nam pla or nuoc nam)**

1/4 cup Sriracha

2 teaspoon finely grated peeled ginger

1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1 1/2-inch–2-inch pieces

SPECIAL EQUIPMENT

8 bamboo skewers soaked in water at least 1 hour (or, you can use metal skewers)

NOTES

*Hot chili paste is available at Asian markets and many supermarkets.

**I actually am not a fan of fish sauce, so I substituted 2 tablespoons of soy sauce.

DIRECTIONS

Prepare grill for medium-high heat. Whisk brown sugar, vinegar, chili paste, fish sauce, Sriracha, and ginger in a large bowl. Add chicken and toss to coat. Thread 4 or 5 chicken pieces onto each skewer.

Transfer marinade to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until reduced by half (about 1 cup), 7–10 minutes.

Grill chicken, turning and basting often with reduced marinade, until cooked through, 8–10 minutes.

A Tale of Two Tuna Pasta Salads

Ready to take to a potluck at work!

Ready to take to a potluck at work!

Okay, so I’ve been making this one tuna pasta salad for EVER. I make it often for potlucks (especially at work) and everyone always loves it and asks for recipe. It’s bowtie pasta, tuna, peas, green onions, red bell peppers and a little cheddar cheese in a mayo dressing. The recipe was in a cookbook called “California Kosher” that I bought at a Hadassah conference (yes, I was at a Hadassah conference. Don’t know what Hadassah is? Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, is a volunteer organization that inspires a passion for and commitment to its partnership with the land and people of Israel. It enhances the health of people worldwide through its support of medical care and research at the Hadassah Medical Organization in Jerusalem. Hadassah empowers its members and supporters, as well as youth in Israel and America through opportunities for personal growth, education, advocacy and Jewish continuity.

Okay, so I bought this cookbook at the boutique. I liked the cover. And, as it turns out, there are several recipes in there that I’ve turned to over the years (seems those Hadassah ladies are pretty good cooks).

The other day, after Tony and I had just gotten home from a two week vacation (the wedding vacation), I was looking at the U-T Food Section and saw this big headline, “Tuna Pasta Salad” and beneath that, “Lemony Pasta Salad”. We had been eating and drinking pretty well while we were away (hey, we were in Sonoma!) and I wanted to make something light for dinner. I read the ingredients – tuna, lemon juice, Dijon, arugula, tomatoes, canellini beans. I read that Fitness magazine created this entree pasta salad for Starkist. I suppose if Fitness magazine made up the recipe, it must be healthy too, right? Okay. Done. Decision made.

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It was delicious. For dinner that night and even better for lunch at work the next day. So now you’ve got two tuna pasta salads to choose from. Both are yummy. A tried and true traditional one and a slightly updated, more modern one. Either would be great to take to your next potluck or for a nice light summer dinner.

Tuna Pasta Salad (Hadassah version)
INGREDIENTS
2 cups farfalle (bowtie) pasta (or any other smallish pasta – shells, elbows, etc.)
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 cup frozen peas, uncooked
½ cup chopped green onions
2 6-1/2 ounce cans good quality tuna, drained and flaked
¾ cup (appx.) mayonnaise
2 tablespoons honey
1 cup cubed or coarsely shredded cheddar cheese

DIRECTIONS
Cook pasta in boiling salted water until “al dente”. When ready to drain the pasta, put the frozen peas in the colander, then pour the hot cooked pasta on top of the peas (this will cook them enough).

In large bowl, toss vegetables and pasta together with tuna. In small bowl, combine honey and mayonnaise; gently stir into salad. Stir in cheese just before serving.

Note: best if made the day before

Tuna Pasta Salad (Starkist version)
INGREDIENTS
8 ounces farfalle (bowtie pasta)
2 6-1/2 ounce cans good quality tuna, drained and flaked
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 heaping teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
15-ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
2 cups tightly packed baby arugula
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
4 teaspoons grated Parmesan

DIRECTIONS
Cook farfalle according to package directions. Drain, rinse under cold water and drain again.

Drain tuna and transfer to a small bowl. Break into rough chunks, drizzle with 1 tablespoon oil and toss gently.

In a large bowl, whisk together lemon zest and juice, remaining oil, garlic, mustard, sugar, salt and pepper.

Add farfalle, beans, tomatoes, arugula and onion to bowl; toss well to combine. Add tuna; toss gently. Divide among 4 plates; top each serving with 1 teaspoon Parmesan.

One Perfect Sangria

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A couple of Fridays ago, my daughter Ally and I spent a nice late afternoon at Balboa Park.  We went to the Ruben H. Fleet Science Center to see “Cosmic Collisions” at the Imax theater.  It was about 3:45pm when the film was over and, unbeknownst to us, all of the museums in the park close at 4:00, so we didn’t really have time to do much else.  But what we did discover is that after the museums close, most of the crowds leave and the Park is quiet and peaceful, with just a few neighborhood people jogging, walking their dogs & kids and pushing strollers. We sat by the Lilly Pond and listened to a classical guitarist play.  It was lovely.

me & Al

Ally and me

We ended the day with a visit to nearby Spanish restaurant for their Tapas Happy Hour.  It was a wonderful ending to what was already a wonderful day. The tapas were great and so, of course, was the sangria. (Did I mention that I love sangria?)  But all it did was whet my appetite for sangria and a few nights later, I had the hankering to make some. I had a recipe that someone had given me years and years ago.  It was copied from an old Spanish cookbook.  But I couldn’t find it.  So I went to my “go to” source Smitten Kitchen.  Of course she had a recipe.  In fact, she had a post called “two classic sangrias”.  I sort of pulled ingredients from both and merged them into what I believe to be one perfect sangria.

One Perfect Sangria

adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s “two classic sangrias”

INGREDIENTS

1 bottle dry red wine (Spanish preferred, a garnacha is good, but whatever red wine is your favorite)

1 tablespoon sugar

1/4 cup brandy

1/4 cup Triple Sec or other orange liqueur (I used Cointreau…whoa!)

1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

12 ounces sparkling fruit soda (I used a can of Hansen’s Natural grapefruit, but orange or lime or lemon would be good too)

1 each orange, lemon and lime, washed and then sliced thinly

Combination of any other fruit you have on hand, washed and chopped into smallish chunks (I used a green apple, a red pear, a few strawberries and a few blueberries because that’s what I had in the fridge)

 DIRECTIONS

In a large pitcher, mix the wine, sugar, brandy, liqueur and orange juice.  Add the fruit and let sit in the fridge until needed.  Right before serving, stir in the sparkling soda.  Fill glasses with ice and pour sangria over. Use a slotted spoon to retrieve some of the fruit from the pitcher and spoon some into each glass.