Monday, June 15, 2009

Something hot, something cold

We spent a lovely weekend in New York, near Lake George, celebrating our friends' graduations, lounging by the pool, noshing on good food and playing lawn games. Although I will always be a western girl at heart, I am really starting to appreciate the beauty of the Northeast and I think we are going to have great summer enjoying it!

The other exciting part of the weekend is that after an agonizing 9 week wait I found out when we got home yesterday that I passed another of my architecture exams! I was nervous about it because it was the exam I took right after being so sick a couple months ago and I am so glad it is another one behind me now!

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This salad is super delicious and is great for summer potlucks and picnics because there is no mayo to worry about in the heat. Whenever I make it I always feel like I need something "carby" to go with it. I think the perfect combo is a hearty bread and good cheddar. I love the combination of cheddar and apples.

1. Chicken Salad with Apple and Basil
from Real Simple
makes 4 servings

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts4 t kosher salt
1 t black pepper
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (2-3 limes)
1 T white wine or rice vinegar
2 T light brown sugar
4 scallions (white and light green parts), thinly sliced
2 granny smith apples, diced
1/3 cup roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
2 T thinly sliced fresh mint
1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh basil

Place the chicken in a large saucepan and add enough water to cover by 1/2". Add 3 t of the salt and 1/2 t of the pepper and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook until no trace of pink remains, 8-10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl of ice water for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the lime juice, vinegar and sugar, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Add the scallions and apples and toss.
Drain the chicken and pat dry. Dice the chicken and add it to the apple mixture along with the peanuts, mint, basil and the remaining salt and pepper. Toss and serve.

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I am always putting things on the menu and then not actually wanting to make them. This was one of those things and, as they usually do, it turned out great. Jer even liked it, minus the tomatoes of course. The recipe calls for artichoke bottoms instead of the more common hearts. If you can't find bottoms I think hearts would be fine too. I love a cold salad with something hot on it and the couscous cakes did the trick here.

2. Spinach and Artichoke Salad with Couscous Cakes and Feta
from Fine Cookingmakes 3-4 servings

For the dressing:
2 T fresh lemon juice
1 T sour cream
1 t fresh mint, finely chopped
5 T extra-virgin olive oil
kosher salt and black pepper

For the couscous cakes:
3/4 cup couscous
kosher salt
1 large clove garlic
1/4 cup packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/2 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
zest of 1 medium lemon
3 T vegetable or canola oil

For the salad:8 oz. baby spinach (about 6 lightly packed cups)
1 14 oz. can artichoke bottoms, rinsed, drained and sliced
15 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 oz. crumbled feta

Make the dressing:
In a small bowl, combine the lemon juice, sour cream and mint. Slowly whisk in the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Make the couscous cakes:
Put the couscous and 1 y salt in a medium bowl. Add 1 cup boiling water to the couscous, cover with a lid or plate, and let sit for 4-5 minutes. Coarsely chop the garlic in a food processor. Add the parsley and pulse until finely chopped. Add the chickpeas and 1 t salt and pulse until coarsely chopped. Uncover the couscous and fluff with a fork. Stir in the chickpea mixture, eggs and lemon zest until well combined. Heat 1 1/2 T of the veg oil in a large skillet over medium high heat until shimmering. Press the couscous mixture into a 1/4 cup measuring cup, smooth the top and invert the cup to release it into the skillet. Repeat the half of the remaining mixture. Lightly press the cakes with a spatula to flatten to about 3/4" thick. Cook, flipping once, until crisp and golden brown on both sides, 2-3 minutes per side. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate and repeat with the remaining mixture.

Assemble the Salad:
In a large bowl, toss the spinach, artichokes and tomatoes with 3/4 of the dressing. Divide among plates and top each with 3 couscous cakes. Sprinkle with feta and drizzle with the remaining dressing.
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I recently went to my first Red Sox game at Fenway Park. What an experience! The park is so cozy and the fans are amazing. It was raining all day and drizzling throughout the game and still the stands were nearly full! I was entertained with all of the vendors running around the stands selling everything from cold bear and "Fenway Franks" to peanuts and cracker jacks and... "chowda". Yep, New Englanders are crazy about their chowder and my hubby is no exception. He loves clam chowder and he is particular about how he likes it. It has to be thick and creamy. When I gave him a choice between three different soups when I was planning the menu I wasn't surprised when he chose this. Although I have made a lot of corn chowder I have never made a clam chowder. Jer approved of the final product although we agreed that it didn't touch our favorite from Cooke's on Cape Cod. Good thing we will be out there soon to get our fix.

3. Clam and Corn Chowder
makes 4 servings

1 10oz. can clams
4 t butter
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 small carrot, finely diced
3 T all-purpose flour1
1/4 cups fish stock
3/4 cup water
1 lb potatoes, diced
1 cup corn kernels, thawed if using frozen
2 cups whole milk
kosher salt and black pepper
chopped parsley, to garnish

Drain and rinse the clams well.Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onion and carrot and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onion is softened. Stir in the flour and continue cooking for 2 minutes.
Slowly add half of the stock and stir well, scrapping the bottom of the pan to mix in the flour. Pour in the remaining stock and the water and bring just to a boil, stirring.
Add the potatoes, corn, and milk and stir to combine. Reduce heat and simmer gently, partially covered, for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until all the vegetables are tender.
Chop the clams, if large. Stir in the clams and continue cooking for about 5 minutes, until heated through. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if needed.
Garnish with the parsley.

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Jer has a favorite meal, which he likes to make a huge pan of and eat throughout the week. He hasn't suggested it in a while, but it seemed like he used to suggest it whenever I asked him what he wanted on the menu. Well, my best friend's husband has one of those too and, I believe this is it. So, your welcome Chris.

4. Hot Italian Sausage and Tomato Pasta
modified from Real Simple
makes 4-6 servings

1 lb fettuccine
3 T olive oil
1 medium red onion, sliced
1 clove garlic, smashed
4 hot Italian sausages, casings removed
1 pint cherry tomatoes
2 T red wine vinegar
3/4 t kosher salt
1/4 t black pepper
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
1 cup baby spinach
1/4 cup Parmesan

Cook the fettuccine according to package directions, Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until the onion softens, 2-3 minutes. Add the sausage and cook about 5 minutes, crumbling as it cooks. Add the tomatoes and cook until the skins burst, about 8 minutes. Stir in the vinegar, salt and pepper.
Add the cooked fettuccine. basil and spinach and toss gently to combine. Top with the Parmesan.

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1 comments:

Anonymous said...

You got that one right! Chris does request "spicy sausage pasta" every week. I can't eat it that often, but I just gave in and we had it last week (again). I'm looking forward to trying those couscous cakes - sort of reminds me of the idea behind the stuffed zucchini dish (which I like a lot).
-Twila