Tag Archives: Summer

Watermelon-Raspberry Agua Frescas

17 Sep

Okay, I have to share this recipe with you now while we are still squeezing out the last couple of warm days leftover from summer and while locally grown watermelons and raspberries can still be bought at the store. Of course, you can make aqua-fresca out of lots of different things–canteloupe, mango, pineapple – some people even use nuts and grains. Agua fresca is Spanish for “fresh cold water”. The idea originally came from Mexico and Central America, but like most things, has gained a popularity in the US (the popularity growing due to the fact that they now sell freshly prepared ones at Whole Foods).

All that an Agua Fresca is is fruit (or cereals, grains, or vegetables) blended with water and sugar. You can also add a splash of sparkling water or club soda for a fizzy drink, or some vodka or rum for a fun drink!

Watermelon-Raspberry Agua Frescas

Makes 2 servings

Ingredients

3 cups of watermelon

1 cup of raspberries

1 cup of cold water

3 tablespoons sugar

juice of 1 lime

Smash and mix all of the ingredients in a blender. Add a touch of club soda, a shot of vodka or rum, freeze it and make popsicles, or serve it in fancy glasses with a wedge of lime or some other fancy garnish!

Grilled Flatbread Pizza

31 Aug

WHO SAYS PIZZA ISN’T HEALTHY??

The other night, as my stomach started to rumble and I looked up from my 3 zillion Google Chrome Tabs to a clock that said “8:45”, I realized that I had not gone grocery shopping any time recently, but I knew we still had a drawer full of veggies in the fridge (I tend to overestimate the amount of vegetables to buy but yet it seems like we need an endless supply of fruit).  There was a bunch of Brocoli Rabe, or, the more fun way to say it, RAPINI, which I had bought after reading how much higher it is in things like vitamins A,C, and K, potassium, iron, and calcium than most other dark leafy greens.  I’m not actually sure if its considered a dark leafy green or a cruciferous vegetable.  Anyone know? Either way, high in soluble fire and packed with anti-cancer properties. So YAY RAPINI. Scream it in an Italian accent.

I’ve always loved those flatbread pizzas that you can get at various farmers markets and cafes.  The Saturday market at Prospect Park comes to mind.  Luckily, a I have been on a making my own bread kick and have tons of packages of yeast in the cupboard.  So I decided to whip up a half whole wheat-honey pizza dough and make a flatbread pizza with all the leftover veggies I had. That was broccoli rabe, broccolini, red onion, zucchini, yellow squash, and red peppers. I added some goat cheese and prosciutto for a kick of flavor, but as long as the veggies are spiced well you can leave these out, or try feta or other meats instead.  You can use pretty much whatever you have in your fridge.

Grilled Flatbread Pizza

Ingredients

for dough

4 cups flour (I used half whole wheat and half white)

1 1/4 cups lukewarm water

1 package active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon honey

1/4 cup additional water or milk

for topping (vegetables may vary)

1 red onion, sliced

3 cloves garlic, sliced

2 red bell peppers

1 zucchini, sliced into manageable pieces

1 yellow squash, sliced like zucchini

few handfuls of goat cheese, crumbled

1/4 lb prosciutto, roughly torn or cut

1/4 cup parmesan, grated

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 450°.

In a small bowl dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm water. Mix in the honey, then let the mixture sit for about 10 minutes until foamy.  Meanwhile, mix the flour and salt in a large bowl and make a “well” in the middle. Pour 2 tablespoons olive oil and yeast mixture into the center of the flour. Using your hands, or a spoon if you wish, slowly stir the mixture by gradually bringing the flour to the center in a circular motion.  When it is a good consistency (you may need to add a bit more flour depending on the type you are using), flour a clean surface and knead the dough fora bout 5-8 minutes until the dough feels elastic.  Place in a bowl, drizze with olive oil, and cover with plastic wrap.  Put in a warm place and let it rise for about an hour.  The more warm and moist the location, the faster the rising process will go.

While the dough is rising, prepare the vegetables. Blacken the red bell peppers like you did for the Couscous with Grilled Summer Vegetables and Herbs. Slice all the vegetables so they are a manageable size. Put them all in a large bowl (including the garlic), drizze with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.  (you could also use some thyme, basil, or whatever herbs you are in the mood for.

Once the dough has risen, roll it out to about 1/4 inch thickness and stretch over the pan you are using. This recipe made me one 18×13 inch flatbread and one 9×13 inch flatbread.   Cover the dough with all the vegetables, then spread the goat cheese, prosciutto, and parmesan evenly across the pizza(s).

Bake 12-14 minutes, and keep your eye on it.

SO GOOD. and so fibrous. And great for lunch the next day (if it doesn’t all get eaten…). I know I always say that. But leftover dinners are the best lunches.


Couscous with grilled summer vegetables and herbs

16 Aug

I made this the other night with Crackled pork and Arugula Watercress salad for a friend’s birthday dinner.  It is a GREAT recipe for the summer–savory but not too heavy, and loaded with fresh summer vegetables to take advantage of the fact that they are in season (my asparagus was from NJ, my red bell peppers from upstate NY!)

Couscous with Grilled Summer Vegetables and Herbs

Adapted from Jamie Oliver’s The Naked Chef Takes Off

Ingredients

9oz couscous

1 1/4 cups water

3 red bell peppers

1 handful of asparagus, trimmed

2 or 3 small firm zucchini and/or patty pan squash, sliced vertically

1 small bunch of scallions, trimmed and finely sliced

2-4 fresh red chillies, seeded and finely sliced

3 good handfuls of mixed fresh herbs (basil, cilantro, mint, flat-leaf parsley)

2 olive oil and lemon juice dressing recipes (see below)

salt and freshly ground black pepper

red wine vinegar

For Olive Oil and lemon Juice Dressing:

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

5 tablespoons olive oil

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Bring the water to a boil saucepan, stir in couscous.  Cover and remove from heat. While the couscous is softening, blacken the bell peppers.  I did this by placing them directly on the flame of my gas stove, but if you don’t have a gas stove, you can use your broiler. The peppers should be blackened on all sides, so turn when needed. When fully blackened, let cool, then remove the seeds (and skins if you wish) and roughly chop.

On a very hot ridged skillet, lightly char the asparagus and squash on both sides, then toss them into the bowl of couscous with the peppers, scallions, chillies, and ripped up herbs. Mix-well. Add the dressing and toss. Finally, season with salt and black pepper to taste, and dribble a bit of red wine vinegar for a slight twang.

Flank Steak with Artichoke Hash and Aleppo Pepper Aioli

1 Jul

It’s pretty rare that I cook steak.  I generally would prefer to eat fish or poultry over red meat, and to be honest, its not my specialty.  I always end up with a smoky apartment and overcooked meat.

But practice makes perfect.  And when I discovered this recipe, I decided that it was time to practice.  And how could I resist anything that uses artichokes at this time of year? The globe artichokes piled up 2 feet high are enormous, round, and so perfectly green that they look like they could be plastic. And it doesn’t hurt that they are 5 for $5…

In hopes of not having a heart attack when I’m 50 (not to be a debbie-downer) and for the purpose of feeding the carb-phobic people closest to me, I served the aioli on the side and  eliminated the potatoes.

It was a success!! This is a great comfy meal with an kick of spice and very season-friendly.  My steak came out perfectly savory on the outside, and cooked just to a medium-rare pink.

Flank Steak with Artichoke Hash and Aleppo Pepper Aioli

Adapted from Bon Appétit

Ingredients

Aioli:

2 garlic cloves, pressed

1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper

1/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

1/2 cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon Sherry wine vinegar

Steak:

1 1/2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves

2 teaspoons Aleppo pepper

1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 1 1/2-to 2-pound flank steak

1/2 lemon

8 baby artichokes or 2 globe artichokes stems trimmed

1 1/4 pounds unpeeled small yellow potatoes (such as baby Dutch or Russian Banana)

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1/2 cup water

2 fresh thyme sprigs

1 garlic clove, minced

2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream

1 tablespoon peanut oil or vegetable oil

2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

For Aioli:
Mash garlic, Aleppo pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt to paste in mortar with pestle or in small bowl with back of spoon. Whisk in remaining ingredients.

For steak:
Mix thyme, Aleppo pepper, 1 teaspoon coarse salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper in small bowl. Rub seasoning mixture into steak; set aside.

Squeeze juice from lemon half into medium bowl of water. Cut 1/2 inch from tops of artichokes. If using globe artichokes, simply cut out all the leaves. Working with 1 artichoke at a time, break off  outer leaves. Cut artichokes lengthwise in half; cut each half into 1/2-inch wedges. Place in lemon water to prevent browning.

Place potatoes in heavy large saucepan. Add enough cold water to cover; sprinkle with salt. Bring to boil; reduce heat to medium-high and boil until potatoes are just tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain. Transfer to baking sheet until cool enough to handle. Halve or quarter potatoes.

Drain artichokes; pat to dry well, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add artichokes and sauté until browned, about 4 minutes. Add 1/2 cup water, thyme sprigs, and garlic. Cover skillet and simmer over medium heat until artichokes are tender, about 5 minutes. Uncover and boil until no liquid remains, stirring often, 2 to 3 minutes. Add remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and potatoes; stir to coat. Add cream and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook until potatoes are heated through and browned in spots, stirring often, about 6 minutes. Season hash to taste with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Heat oil in heavy large ovenproof skillet over high heat. Add steak and cook until bottom is brown, about 2 minutes. Turn steak over; transfer to oven and roast until cooked to desired doneness, about 7 minutes for medium-rare. Transfer to work surface; tent with foil to keep warm. Let rest 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, reheat artichoke potato hash gently over medium heat. Stir in chopped chives. Thinly slice steak crosswise. Divide steak and hash among plates. Drizzle some aioli over steak or serve on the side.

Fish in Crispy Tacos with Avocado and Tropical Fruit Salsa

7 Jun

The tacos that I ate growing up were pretty simple but always refreshingly tasty: flour or corn tortillas, refried pinto beans, grated cheese, ground beef or chicken, black olives, lettuce, tomatoes, peppers.  With three kids in the family, guacamole wasn’t a popular item and my Mother generally served plain freshly diced tomatoes rather than Salsa.  The ingredients always varied slightly-often depending on what was in the kitchen-but one thing I never had until I was in college was a Fish taco.  I’m sure anyone from the West Coast will find this shocking, but I just don’t think its a very popular item on the South Shore of Massachusetts (We stick with Lobster Rolls).

The first fish taco I had was late night one weekend when I was living in the East Village, from Snack Dragon Taco Shack, right down the street from No Malice Palace on 3rd Street. My experience was eye-opening.  I was a firm believer that fish does not belong in a tortilla.  It does.

So when I was browsing through the (orignal) Gourmet Cookbook looking for something Summer-y and light but still satisfying for dinner, this recipe bounced out at me (and it even got a hot pink sticky tab).  This is not a recipe for classic Baja fried fish tacos in soft tortillas, instead, it is a much lighter filling with a crispy shell.

Fish in Crispy Tacos with Avocado and Tropical Fruit Salsa

Adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

Gourmet recommends using Red Snapper, which I did, but if you can’t find it, any of the following fish will work: grouper, yelloweye rockfish, onaga (Hawaiiian red snapper), catfis, shark, or mahimahi.

About 6 cups canola or vegetable oil for deep-frying taco shells (I used much much less and just lightly fried the tortillas)

12 taco shells

3 Tablespoons olive oil

salt

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

freshly ground black pepper

2 lbs red snapper fillets, skinned and cut into 1-inch pieces (I left the skin on)

6 scallions, chopped

2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo, finely chopped

3 cups arugula leaves or watercress sprigs, coarse stems discarded, leaves torn into bit-sized pieces

Accompaniment: Avocado and Tropical Fruit Salsa

Heat 2 inches (or less, as I did) oil in a 4-quart saucepan over moderately high heat.  Fry tacos shells 2 at a time, turning occasionally, until a shade darker, about 1 minute.  Transfer to paper towels to drain and sprinkle with salt.

To make dressing, whisk together juice, 3 tablespoons olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste in a medium bowl.

Pat fish dry and season with salt and pepper. Heat remaining 3 tablespoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking.  Add scallions and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.  Add fish and cook, stirring occasionally, until just cooked through, about 3 minutes.  Remove skillet from heat, add chipotles, and gently toss with fish to combine.

Toss arugula with dressing and salt and pepper to taste.  Fill taco shells with fish mixture and salad and top with salsa.

Avocado and Tropical Fruit Salsa

Makes about 3 cups

Ingredients

2 cups finely diced tropical fruit, such as kiwi, pineapple, mango, and papaya.

2 California avocados, pitted, peeled, and cut into 1/4-inch dice

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1/4 cup finely chopped red onion

1 serrano or jalapeño chile, seeded and finely chopped

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, or to taste

Gently toss together all ingredients in a bowl.