Thursday, August 29, 2013

Watermelon Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho

Last night I hosted a small dinner party for a few friends to help me taste this new recipe.  Needless to say it was a hit and especially refreshing on a day like yesterday here where temperatures were near 100 degrees.  I know that watermelon will soon be leaving the produce section in most grocery stores and the stands at the farmer's markets so I thought I better get this recipe out for you all to enjoy while you can.  With the help of a beautiful yellow heirloom tomato this sweet and savory chilled soup with a bit of a kick, thanks to the serrano pepper from our garden, is keeping us cool here in Southern California.

Watermelon Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho


1 large heirloom tomato (any color will do, I used yellow)
1 cup watermelon, cubed
1/2 serrano pepper, seeded and chopped
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons red onion, minced
1/2 cucumber, seeded and minced
2 tablespoons fresh mint, plus more for garnish
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled

Please note that all of the vegetables and fruit should be chilled prior to making the gazpacho.  If the gazpacho becomes too warm in the blending process simply place it in the refrigerator for 20 minutes and then serve.

In a food processor blend the heirloom tomato until smooth.  Add the watermelon and serrano pepper and blend.  Pour in the red wine vinegar and olive oil.  Give it a few pulses to combine.  Add the red onion, cucumber and fresh mint.  Blend to combined until smooth.  Season with salt and pepper and pulse to combine.  Pour the gazpacho into chilled bowls.  Top with feta cheese and garnish with mint.  Serve immediately.  Makes 4 servings.

Note: Depending on the color of the heirloom tomato used it will change the color of the gazpacho.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Food Recipes for Infused Oils

So it's been about a month since I have posted those Infused Oils on my blog!  I'm guessing that all of your oils are well infused and ready to use.  Sorry it's taken a bit.  I think life and summer has taken over me as I've been spending time with my family and friends in the sun, entertaining on my patio, creating in the kitchen and just enjoying life.  If you are following me on Instagram  you can catch up with Greg and I and what we have been eating and expanding our palates with!

Here are the long awaited food recipes using those infused oils.

Strawberry Arugula Salad with Norwegian Cardamom Dressing

1 large bunch or 1 - 10 ounce bag Arugula
8-10 fresh strawberries, sliced
1/2 cup shredded Manchego cheese
1/4 cup sliced almonds
3 tablespoons Norwegian Cardamom Oil
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed orange juice
Salt and pepper to taste.

In a small jar or bowl combine the Norwegian Cardamom Oil and fresh squeezed orange juice.  Shake in the jar with the lid on or whisk to combine.  Season with salt and pepper.  Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl or large salad bowl combine the arugula, strawberries, manchego and almonds.  Drizzle with the desired amount of dressing and serve.  Serves 4-6.

Note:  There will most likely be left over dressing which can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. 

Spicy Garlic Asian Shrimp with Quinoa and Baby Broccoli

1/2 pound shrimp, peeled, deveined with tails on
1 cup quinoa, uncooked
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon Spicy Garlic Sesame Oil
1 small bunch baby broccoli, roughly chopped
2 shallots, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook the quinoa according to the package and set aside keeping it warm.  

Note: I saute the dry quinoa in a tablespoon of olive oil for about 2-3 minutes.  Then I add chicken or vegetable broth, bring it to a boil and simmer for about 10-15 minutes until all of the broth is absorbed.  I have found out this technique really brings out the flavor in the quinoa.

In a small bowl place the shrimp and add 2 tablespoons Spicy Garlic Asian Sesame Oil and garlic.  Season with salt and pepper (pepper is optional depending on desired amount of spice) and set aside to marinate, about 20-25 minutes.

On medium-high heat in a medium pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the Spicy Garlic Asian Sesame Oil.  Add the shallots and cook for about 2-3 minutes, constantly stirring.  Add the broccoli and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring to combine.  Season with salt and pepper. Cook until the broccoli is just tender.

In a medium pan heat 1 teaspoon of Spicy Garlic Asian Sesame Oil over medium heat-high heat.  Place the shrimp in the pan and cook for about 2 minutes.  Flip the shrimp and cook for about 1 minute more.

In a large mixing bowl combine the quinoa, baby broccoli shallot mixture. Gently toss.  Divide the quinoa mixture among plates and serve with the shrimp placed on top.  Serves 2-4.

Note: A drizzle of Hoisin sauce on top would be wonderful and a drizzle of your favorite hot sauce such as Siracha would be great for a bit extra heat! 

Creamy Herbed Ricotta Pasta with Grilled Eggplant and Zucchini

Herbed Ricotta
1 cup whole milk ricotta
3 tablespoons European Herbed Oil
2-3 fresh thyme sprigs, leaves chopped
2-3 fresh oregano, sprigs, leaves chopped
Lemon zest of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste.

Place all ingredients into a small mixing bowl.  Stir to combine and set aside or store covered in the refrigerator until needed.

Creating the Pasta Dish

1 pound pasta, cooked
1 medium eggplant, sliced lengthwise (thick slices)
2 small to medium zucchini, sliced lengthwise (medium to thick slices)
1 cup herbed ricotta
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste

Place the eggplant and zucchini on a large baking sheet.  Using a silicone brush, brush the 1/4 cup olive oil onto the eggplant and zucchini on both sides.  Season with salt and pepper.

After your grill is properly heated, carefully place the eggplant and zucchini on the grill and cook for about 4-6 minutes on each side until browned and slightly charred.  Remove from the grill and chop the vegetables into 1/2 inch pieces an set aside.

In a large pot over the stove, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat.  Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes.  Add the herbed ricotta and cook for another 1-2 minutes until the ricotta softens and absorbs the olive oil.  Add the cooked pasta and stir to combine.  Add the grilled eggplant and zucchini and gently toss.  Divide among plates and lightly drizzle a bit of the European Herbed Oil on top.  Serves 4-6.

Coconut Lemongrass Chicken Skewers

2 large skinless, boneless chicken breast
3 tablespoons Asian Lemongrass Oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Coconut lemongrass sauce (see notes)
8-10 - 12 inch bamboo skewers, soaked in water

Slice the chicken into 1-inch cubes.  Place the cubed chicken in a bowl.  Add the lemongrass oil and season with salt and pepper.  Set aside or refrigerate for about 20-30 minutes.

Make the the Coconut Lemongrass Sauce while the chicken marinates.

Coconut Lemongrass Sauce

1 - 13.5 ounce can coconut milk
1 fresh lemongrass stalk
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cornstarch

Cut both ends of the lemongrass and discard.  Roughly chop the lemongrass.  Place the lemongrass into a food processor and grind until very fine.

In a medium saucepan over medium low heat pour in the coconut milk.  Add the lemongrass, sugar, and salt.  Continuously stir for about 5 minutes.  Do not allow the milk to boil.  Once heated through, place the cornstarch in a small bowl and add a bit of water, about 1-2 teaspoons.  Stir until the cornstarch blends into the water completely.  Pour the cornstarch mixture into the the coconut lemongrass milk.  Constantly stir until the sauce starts to thicken over low heat.  Turn off the burner and set aside covering with a lid to keep warm.  

Note:  Depending on how thick you prefer your sauce use more or less of the cornstarch.

Skewering and cooking the chicken.

Skewer the chicken, about 5-7 pieces per skewer. 

After your grill is properly heated, carefully place the chicken skewers on the grill and cook for about 5-8 minutes.  Flip the skewers and cook for another 5 minutes until browned and slightly charred. 

Remove the chicken skewers from the grill and drizzle with the coconut lemongrass sauce.  Serve with the extra sauce on the side for dipping.

Note:  This can be served alone as an appetizer or over rice (or your favorite grain) with veggies.