Archive for ‘Spring’

June 5, 2012

Smoked Corn, Coconut and Shrimp Soup ~ Crispy Chard and Garlic Chip Salad with Sesame – Lime Vinaigrette

Smoked Corn, Coconut and Shrimp Soup – Crispy Chard and Garlic Chip Salad with Sesame – Lime Vinaigrette

 

SUMMER is IMMINENT…

Typically, I avoid eating soup this time of year, especially since it’s been so warm here in South Florida. I was in the mood for something comforting, yet smokey and summery. It’s just what I wanted, the soup is light and silky with a touch of smoke; a celebration to the warmer months ahead of us. The shrimp is gently cooked in the soup just before serving, we enjoyed it warm, not piping hot. In my opinion, the fish sauce is the star of any dish. Unless you are a Vegan, don’t omit it, it really adds a special layer. I use a lot of it, as you can probably tell by the empty bottle above, I had just enough for this recipe.

The baby chard was beautiful at the market, the leafs were so tender they required little, if any, cooking at all. The obvious choice for me would have been to make it into a salad, but I really wanted something crunchy to go with the soup, so why not make a crispy chard salad? It was light, crisp and really flavorful with the lime juice, soy and garlic oil. Don’t be shy with the garlic chips either; because the garlic was blanched in milk before frying, the flavor is sweet and mild. Be careful not to over cook the garlic, they will become bitter. I pull the chips out of the oil while they are slightly undercooked, by the time you get them on the paper towels they will be perfect. Also, immediately scatter them into one layer on the paper towels, if they are touching each other the oil won’t be able to drain properly and they will become soggy. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt while warm.

I have to say, this is officially my new favorite salad. You can use any variety of chard or kale for this recipe, the cooking time may vary slightly.

May 31, 2012

Lemon – Almond Popovers with Homemade Strawberry Butter

Lemon-Almond popovers

 

homemade strawberry butter

Lemon – Almond Popovers with Homemade Strawberry Butter

It’s been quite a while since I’ve made homemade butter, and I can’t imagine why. It takes no time at all, just one ingredient and a few minutes. There’s something healing and satisfying about making the most basic of staples – butter, jam, pickles, cheese, bread. It always brings me back to the day when this was how things were done, no big deal. Making the butter myself, along with (part) of the flour, feels freeing. We don’t always take time for life’s simple pleasures, when in fact, it’s exactly what life is all about. Your simple pleasures may be planting a garden, knitting socks, molding clay – mine is using my hands to nourish.

May 15, 2012

Almond – Brazil Nut Tarts with Fig, Date & Goat Cheese Pâté, Golden Beets, Red Leaf Watercress

Almond – Brazil Nut Tarts with Fig, Date & Goat Cheese Pâté, Golden Beets, Red Leaf Watercress

My inspiration for these tarts derived from a salad we eat often. I thought it would be fun to figure out how to restructure it into a tart. For the almond & brazil nut tart shells, I chose to use unsalted butter but you can use grape seed oil or a nut oil if you’d like. I used almonds and brazil nuts, which is what I had on hand, use your favorites, mix and match. This isn’t your typical tart shell as there’s no flour or eggs,  and that makes it’s pretty delicate. It’s simple to work with though, just grind up the nuts and toss in the garlic, salt and butter and press it into the pans. After they bake, let them sit on the cooling rack for about 15 minutes then refrigerate for another 15 minutes, this will firm them up a little. I filled them while they were still in the tart tins, this way they won’t break apart before you get them on the plates. If you make the fig, date & goat cheese pâté ahead of time and refrigerate it, bring it to room temperature and give it a good stir before spreading it into the shells. I used golden beets here, but any other kind will work great. I found this amazingly beautiful red leaf watercress at the market, but young watercress, arugula or even radish sprouts would be a few of my other choices.

May 8, 2012

Fresh Pea and Tarragon Remoulade with Salmon Crudo

Pottery handmade by Catalina Aguirre Hoffman

Pottery handmade by Catalina Aguirre Hoffman

Fresh Pea and Tarragon Remoulade with Salmon Crudo

Spring on a plate.

Salmon Crudo = raw fish, lightly seasoned with olive oil, a bit of acid, salt and pepper. For this recipe my acid of choice was lemon juice and zest. Of course, you always want to choose the freshest fish possible, especially when eating it raw. Get to know your fishmongers and ask where your fish is coming from and when it came in. This beautiful piece of Salmon was so fresh it would have been criminal to even think of touching it to a hot pan. My favorite way to eat fresh english peas are simply popped from their shell. Here, I barely blanched them, just 1 minute to remove a bit of the rawness. I thought a sauce remoulade softly spiked with tarragon, mustard and garlic would be perfect with these super fresh ingredients. I promise you, the little extra effort it takes here to make your own mayonnaise is well worth it. I used pea shoots to bump up that wonderful pea flavor, but spinach or arugula would be nice substitutions. This can be eaten as a main course (as we did), or plated individually to kick off an amazing dinner party.

I hope you love this dish as much as we did.

May 1, 2012

Fish Tacos, Rosted Ancho -Tomato Salsa, Homemade Corn Tortillas

Pottery handmade by Catalina Aguirre Hoffman

I can eat tacos every day of the week, hands down.
It’s my go to comfort food, 9.5 out of 10 times I’ll order the tacos. But it’s not every day that I make my own corn tortillas. Why? I know how superior they are to those sad, flavorless, mass-produced, dry imposters sold in the grocery stores. I refuse to eat them. To me, eating something that isn’t good is like wasting a meal ticket. We only get so many tickets per day, why waste them?

Seriously, corn flour + water + salt. That’s it. You don’t even need a tortilla press, just use a rolling-pin. The little extra effort makes all the difference.

I grew up eating Mexican food, all us Californians did. I’m not talking about the food served in many “Mexican” restaurants. You know the ones. They drown everything with heaps of melted cheese, tosses it in the broiler until it resembles bubbling lava, then tops it off with loads of sour cream. I’m talking the real deal, food made with love. Fresh ingredients, ground spices, flavorful salsa, tacos made from soft corn tortillas and the only cheese to be found is a modest sprinkle of Queso Fresco.
Excuse me as I wipe the drool off my keyboard (Ewww, now that’s just gross).

My lovely husband on the other hand, who grew up in Pennsylvania, doesn’t know the difference between a taco and a tortilla (not aware that they are one in the same), or who will order a burrito, and is genuinely surprised when he doesn’t get a taco.
It cracks me up every time.

Happy Cinco de Mayo everyone! Now go make some tacos (and have a cold one for me).

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