Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Food, Glorious Food

I’m not much of a food blogger, but I did a lot of cooking this weekend and everything came out particularly delicious, so I’m sharing my menus! Sorry I don’t have photos of my own results, but trust me, everything looked EXACTLY like these stock photos. I have given the sources of the original recipes, but the versions listed below include a few of my own variations.

I’m a big fan of appetizers – in fact, I’d happily make a meal entirely of appetizers and ignore the entrée altogether. So here are a few of the apps I served this weekend, along with a couple of light entrees that can easily be served as small plates alongside a buffet of appetizers.

Balsamic Bruschetta (based on pipandebby.com)

This bruschetta can be served either warm or cold, and it’s a wonderful way to highlight fresh tomatoes and/or basil from your garden, if you have them!

2 large tomatoes, diced
1/3 cup fresh basil, chopped
2 tsp minced garlic
¼ cup shredded Parmesan
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp olive oil
¼ tsp black pepper
¼ tsp kosher salt
1 loaf French bread

Mix together all ingredients except bread in a small bowl and chill in refrigerator. Slice bread diagonally into ½” slices; lay on a baking sheet and toast at 425 degrees for 3-4 minutes, until crispy. Top bread with tomato mixture and serve immediately. Top with additional parmesan, if desired.

If you prefer to serve the bruschetta warm, don’t pre-toast the bread, but top the fresh sliced bread with the tomato mixture and bake at 425 for 4-5 minutes, then serve warm.

Artichoke Stuffed Mushrooms (based on eatingwell.com)

This stuffing is a nice alternative to crab or lobster stuffed mushrooms if you or your guests have shellfish allergies. Plus it’s a great way to use up those huge jars of marinated artichoke hearts from Costco.

24 medium cremini (baby bella) mushrooms
olive oil
2 shallots, minced
2 tsp minced garlic
2/3 cup marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped fairly fine
3 tbsp panko breadcrumbs
2 tbsp grated Parmesan
½ marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
3 tbsp panko breadcrumbs, divided
2 tbsp grated Parmesan
2 tbsp light mayonnaise
1/8 tsp dried thyme
¼ tsp salt
¼ fresh black pepper

Position rack in top third of oven and preheat broiler (use the “low” setting if there’s an option). Coat a metal 9x13 pan or deep jelly roll pan with non-stick spray or line it with non-stick foil.

Wash mushrooms well and pat dry; remove and finely chop stems. Heat 1 tsp oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the stems, shallots, and garlic and cook, stirring, until the liquid is evaporated, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and stir in artichoke hearts, 2 tablespoons panko, Parmesan, mayonnaise and thyme.

Toss the mushroom caps in another bowl with 2 teaspoons oil, salt and pepper. Stuff each with filling (mounding fairly high; this recipe makes a generous amount of stuffing) and place in the prepared pan. Combine the remaining 1 tablespoon breadcrumbs and 1 teaspoon oil and sprinkle on the mushrooms.

Broil until the mushrooms are soft and the breadcrumbs are golden, 15 to 20 minutes.

Mushrooms may be stuffed up to 3 hours prior to baking.

Lamb Sliders (based on Giada de Laurentis’ recipe)

This recipe is great because the lamb and cumin make it taste just slightly exotic without being too unusual for most palates. Although the sliders are best when cooked over an open grill, you can also pan fry them. The patties can be made well ahead of time and refrigerated in plastic wrap.

5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 large shallots, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp minced garlic
1 pound ground lamb
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ketchup
Eight ½-inch cubes of Gruyere or Havarti cheese
8 slider buns (King’s Hawaiian are the best!), halved

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in an 8-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shallots, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook until the shallots are soft, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool slightly.

Combine the shallot mixture, lamb, cumin, ketchup, scant 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a medium bowl. Form the mixture into eight 1/2-inch thick patties. Press a cube of cheese into the middle of each patty and form the meat around the cheese to cover. (Be sure to seal well or the cheese will leak out during cooking!) 

Brush the patties with the remaining oil and grill over medium-high heat until cooked through, 5 to 6 minutes per side. Let the patties rest for 2 minutes. Place the patties in the buns and serve, plain or with tzatziki sauce (below).

Easy Tzatziki (based on Claire Robinson/Food Network’s recipe)

1 cup Greek yogurt (I used low fat so I could pretend it was healthy)
~8” length of seedless cucumber, peeled, shredded, and drained
2 tsp minced garlic
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp chopped fresh dill
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Shred the peeled cucumber using the finest side of a vegetable grater, drain on cutting board and blot with a few paper towels. Whisk together all ingredients, adding salt and pepper to taste. Serve chilled.

Greek Salmon (no source; this hardly even counts as a recipe!)
Salmon fillets, cut into single-serving pieces
olive oil
Greek seasoning (store-bought or from recipe below)

Brush fillets with oil and sprinkle generously with seasoning. Grill skin-side down for 3-4 minutes per side. Serve with tzatziki.

Greek Seasoning (based on allrecipes.com’s recipe)

1-1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
½ tsp dried basil
½ tsp dried minced onion
¼ tsp garlic powder

Whisk all ingredients together. You can also add dried marjoram, mint, or even cinnamon and nutmeg to the mix!

Grilled Marinated Portobellos (based on treehugger.com)

Since I have several family members who prefer to eat vegetarian, I’m always on the lookout for delicious recipes using vegetarian proteins, and portobellos are one of my personal favorites. This recipe is light and delicious, with just a hint of tang from the balsamic vinegar. The mushrooms can be served burger-style on a bun with greens and tomato, but I love them simply as is.

4 portobello mushrooms
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp dried basil
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tsp minced garlic
pinch each of salt and pepper

Wash mushrooms and pat dry, then gently pull off the stems. Place gill side up in a shallow dish.

Whisk together remaining ingredients and pour over mushrooms, including pouring some into the base of the dish. Marinade for about 15 minutes.

Pour off and reserve excess marinade and grill, gill side up, over medium-high heat for 5-8 minutes per side, until tender. Brush occasionally with marinade.

And to wrap up this list, my favorite summer salad, which is so delicious that it’s practically a dessert: Triple Treat Salad!

Triple Treat Salad (I have no idea where this recipe originated; it’s been floating around my family for decades)

2-3 heads of broccoli, cut into bite-size pieces (florets only)
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 package pre-cooked bacon, crisped and crumbled
½ cup light mayonnaise
4 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Toss together broccoli, cheese, and bacon in a large bowl and set aside. Whisk together mayo, sugar, and vinegar until nearly smooth; adjust amounts to taste. Pour dressing over salad and toss well to coat. Marinate in refrigerator several hours to overnight, tossing occasionally if possible. 

Bon appetit!!

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