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Friday, July 30, 2010

Crab, Avocado, Mango lettuce wraps




So, here we have salad on the go. Meals on wheels, so to speak.
We're taking some wonderfully succulent crab meat (from King crab legs), and mixing it with sweet mango, creamy avocado, a little celery for crunch, a bit of Garlic Chili sauce for heat, a little orange zest and juice for sweet; lime juice for tart. For green, I'm going with Butter lettuce for wraps. If you don't want to make wraps, sub in some spinach or Arugula, or butter lettuce, chopped. For the dressing, We'll make a simple mayo and citrus combo, with a little heat. 
Let's go:
Take about 3 TBLS prepared mayonnaise
Add 1 thinly sliced shallot
Juice and zest of one orange
Spoon in 1 TBLS Chili Garlic sauce
Juice and zest of 1 lime
1 - 2 TBLS Agave Nectar
2 Tbls chopped fresh cilantro
Kosher (or Sea salt) and pepper to taste.

Whisk all the ingredients together in a bowl. Taste. Adjust seasonings to your taste.


Now for the salad:
1 pound diced crab meat ( I had some in the freezer from crab leg night)
1 ripe mango, peeled and diced
1 avocado, pitted, peeled, and diced
2 ribs celery, from the inner part of the stalk, chopped
1/2 red onion, diced very finely
2 green onions, chopped
1 head butter lettuce; leaves whole

Put your crab in a big bowl.
 Add the diced mango.
Toss in the avocado.
You could add the avocado and then the mango if you're feeling a bit rebellious.
Go ahead and add the celery, onion, and green onion. Sprinkle the salad with a good pinch of Kosher or sea salt and some fresh ground pepper.

To finish it off, spoon some of the dressing over the salad. It doesn't need much, as the ingredients themselves are pretty flavorful. Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking.

Now, if you're making lettuce wraps, take 1 or 2 Butter lettuce (also called "Bib")
leaves and fill one side with the crab mixture.

Then, just roll it up! Place it seam side down in your container.

Place it seam side down in your container. And there you have salad you can eat with your hands.

Alternative ingredients: Grilled or roasted shrimp or lobster tails can be used instead of crab. No chili garlic sauce? Throw in some crushed red pepper flakes or a squirt of your favorite hot sauce or Sriracha. Make the salad and place in baked won ton wrappers for an easy appetizer. No mayo? Mix the orange and lime juice with olive oil for a simple vinaigrette.  Don't want to make lettuce wraps? Chop up some Arugula, Butter lettuce, spinach or just add a bag of Spring mix.
Bon Appetit!

Ingredients:
Dressing
3 TBLS prepared mayonnaise
 1 thinly sliced shallot
Juice and zest of one orange
Juice and zest of 1 lime
 1 TBLS Chili Garlic sauce
1 - 2 TBLS Agave Nectar
2 Tbls chopped fresh cilantro
Kosher (or Sea salt) and pepper to taste.

Salad
1 pound cooked diced crab meat 
1 ripe mango, peeled and diced
1 avocado, pitted, peeled, and diced
2 ribs celery, from the inner part of the stalk, chopped
1/2 red onion, diced very finely
2 green onions, chopped
1 head butter lettuce; leaves whole

Method:
Dressing: Whisk all ingredients together in a bowl.
Salad: Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Pour just enough dressing over to lightly coat. Stir gently.
Place 2 Tbls salad on each lettuce leaf. Roll up.




Thursday, July 29, 2010

Mint Fruit Salad with Toasted Pecans


Summer is  here, and fruit and berries are cheap and plentiful. This super easy salad is perfect for a picnic on the patio, a pot luck, or to bring to that bridal shower. I don't know why it is, but too many fruit salads are kind of dull, bland, mushy, and just not that tasty. This one is a show stopper, and delish to boot. 
Start with whatever looks GREAT in your grocery store or Farmer's market. Use any types of fruit, berries, and melons that look and smell great.

Here's a sample of what we need:
1 individual size watermelon
1 pint fresh blueberries
1 pint fresh strawberries
1 tangelo
1 red pear
1 banana
1 vanilla bean
1/2 cup fresh mint
1/2 cup pecans, toasted
1 cup white sugar
1 cup water
2 Meyer lemons (optional)
Let's start with a simple syrup. Simply put, that means equal parts sugar and water, brought to a boil, then cooled. We're taking ours over the top with the addition of a vanilla bean and some fresh mint.
Vanilla beans are found in the spice section of the store. I got mine at Costco.
Lay the vanilla bean flat on a cutting board. Split it right down the middle with a very sharp knife.
Take the blade of the knife and scrape out the seeds, (they're pretty sticky), and put them, and the rest of the bean, into your water and sugar mixture.



Put some heat under this and bring it to a boil. While it's heating, cut the Meyer lemons in half, and squeeze the juice right into the water.


When the water starts to boil, turn off the heat. Let the mixture hang out and get cool while you prep the fruit. Wash and dry the berries. Then remove the vanilla bean from the syrup.






Core and stem the strawberries. Cut out the top and slice in half.


Cut out anything that's white. When it comes to fruit, white means bitter. Get rid of it.
Peel and core the Tangelo. Peel it into sections.
Again, get the white stuff out. Then cut it into bite size pieces.
Toss all the prepped fruit into a big bowl.
Now, take a wedge of the Tangelo and squeeze it over the berries. This creates another layer of flavor, and flavor's where it's at, baby!

Cut the watermelon in half, then scoop out rounds with a melon baller. Or, peel the melon and cut it up. Just make sure to get all the seeds out. That's why a seedless melon works best. Because it's easy for me.
If you're adding bananas and pears or apples, or anything that will turn brown when cut, add them last, and give them a spritz of citrus juice. (The tangelo juice works just fine).
Now get a handful of fresh mint from the garden, or from the produce section, strip the leaves off the stems and chop them up finely.

Toss the mint into the COOLED simple syrup. If you add them to warm liquid, you'll end up with mint slime. Not delish.
O.K. Let's add a little crunch. I used pecans because I like them, but you can use some almonds, walnuts, whatever floats your boat. Get a handful of pecans, probably about 1/2 to 3/4 cup, and chop them up. Put them in a skillet on low heat until you can smell them. Warning!! Do not turn your back on the nuts. Do not go to the bathroom, answer the phone, or your doorbell. The nuts will burn, and you will curse and cry and throw them in the trash. (Or is it just me?)
Cool them down, then add them to the fruit. Now, pour the minted simple syrup over the the fruit salad. Don't drown it, just add enough to give it a sweet, minty flavor. Gently stir.
Serve chilled in Martini glasses, puff pastry cups, or with a big spoon and paper bowls, or just dig on in with a fork. I like whipped cream on mine, but hey, we'll leave this as is for a figure friendly bowl of delicious, fruity, goodness.

Bon Appetit!

Ingredients:

1 individual size watermelon
1 pint fresh blueberries
1 pint fresh strawberries
1 tangelo
1 red pear
1 banana
1 vanilla bean
1/2 cup fresh mint
1/2 cup pecans, toasted
1 cup white sugar
1 cup water
2 Meyer lemons (optional)

Method:
1. Make simple syrup. Add 1 cup sugar to 1 cup water.  Add 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped, and the juice of 2 Meyer lemons. Bring to a boil, then cool.
2. 
Wash and dry all berries and fruit.

3. Cut fruit into bite size pieces.

4. Chop fresh mint finely. Add to cooled simple syrup.

5.  Toast pecans. Cool.

6. Put fruit and nuts into a big bowl. Pour enough simple syrup over the top to coat.

7. Stir gently. Garnish with fresh mint leaves.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Insalata Caprese

Insalata Caprese
Here's another super easy summer salad that doesn't have a lot of ingredients, but has lots of great flavor. And, since it's summertime,  and we finally have wonderful, fresh tomatoes straight from the Farmer's market, now's the time to make this salad.

Traditionally, Insalata Caprese has only tomatoes, Mozzarella cheese, fresh basil, and olive oil. I kick it up a bit with the addition of fresh greens and an easy Balsamic vinaigrette. First of all, I think it looks pretty with the extra green addition. Secondly, I don't think a handful of basil counts towards my daily vegetable intake recommended by the U.S. F. D. A. (But, hey, Ketchup counted for a veg serving in the 80's, right?)
What you need: The best ingredients you can find! These are lovely heirloom tomatoes, sweet basil and spicy basil from my herb garden, fresh Mozzarella cheese, ( this probably wasn't the best quality cheese, but it was BOGO, and that makes it good in my book).
Let's start with the base. Lay down some really fresh Spring mix. Give it a little sprinkle of Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper.
Slice up the tomatoes. I like half rounds, but you can do whatever floats your boat. Lay them out in an orderly fashion. Yes. Orderly. It looks neat and pretty that way. Now tuck one whole basil leaf in front of each tomato slice.

And tuck one Mozzarella slice in front of each basil slice.
Sprinkle with a bit more Kosher (or sea) salt and fresh ground pepper.
To give your salad an added bit of color and flavor, chiffonnade some basil, and sprinkle it over the top. (Fancy term for rolling up a stack of basil leaves like a cigar and slicing thinly).
O.K. Let's make a simple Balsamic Vinaigrette.
Start by finely mincing up a shallot or two and a clove of garlic.
Add about 1 tsp Dijon mustard.
Shake in about 3 Tbls good Balsamic vinegar.
Add about 1/4 cup good Extra Virgin Olive oil. Whisk it up, or do what my SIL does and shake it up in a jar with a lid on.
Add a pinch of Kosher salt and some fresh ground pepper and sprinkle in a pinch of fresh chopped herbs Basil, parsley, and thyme all would work well. Taste the dressing. Adjust it to your taste. If you like a touch of sweetness, add a Tbls Agave Nectar or honey. More  acidic? Add more Balsamic. Too much acid for you? Add a little more olive oil.
Spoon  over your salad and serve immediately. Only dress what will be eaten immediately, as leftover salad will be one soggy inedible mess.

Bon Appetit! 


Ingredients:
1 lb mixed salad greens
2-3 Garden tomatoes, sliced
6 oz fresh Mozzarella cheese, sliced
1 bunch fresh basil leaves, whole
6 basil leaves in chiffonnade
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
Dressing:
2 shallots, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp Dijon mustard
3 Tbls Balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup Extra Virgin olive oil
2 tsp fresh chopped herbs, such as basil, thyme, or flat leaf parsley
Kosher salt and pepper

Method:
  1. Lay salad greens on a platter. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  2. Slice tomatoes into half moon shapes, and place one whole basil leaf in front of each tomato slice.
  3. Slice Mozzarella into half moon shapes, about the same size as tomato slices. Place one slice cheese in font of each basil leaf.
  4. Sprinkle tomatoes with salt and pepper.
  5. Roll 6 stacked basil leaves into a bundle and slice thinly. Sprinkle over salad.
  6. Whisk dressing ingredients together and spoon over salad.


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Grilled corn salad

Grilled Corn and Tomato Salad


I LOVE summer. I love the sweet fresh corn and tomatoes that show up in the market in June, and keep on until October. As I'm tending to my little herb garden on the patio, praying for the deer to steer clear, for the caterpillars to only eat some of the parsley and cilantro, I'm thinking about how to best use this beautiful summer produce. Today I decided to grill some sweet corn, char some red sweet peppers, Pasilla peppers, lemon and limes. I tossed it all together with a fresh tasting cilantro lime dressing for a bright, fresh, filling summer salad.
Here's what we need to throw this together: (Feel free to sub anything with ingredients you like).
6 ears sweet corn, shucked and silk off, grilled 
2 handful's fresh or frozen, (thawed) corn.
2 sweet red peppers, charred
1 sweet red pepper, raw, seeded and diced.
2 Pasilla peppers, charred
1 pound cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1 Jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced fine
1 small Jicama, peeled and diced
1 avocado, diced
1-2 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 bunch fresh cilantro, finely chopped
Cumin
Salt
Pepper


Let's grill the corn. Shuck and remove all silk. Brush with vegetable oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and some Cumin. Oil the hot grill with a vegetable oil soaked paper towel. Lay the corn right on the grates. Turn corn 1/4 turn every few minutes until there are grill marks all over. Don't overcook it, or the corn will turn to mush. Not bueno.

At the same time, let's burn the crap out of the peppers. Put the red and pasilla peppers directly on the grill or on a grill pan. Turn 1/4 turn when the down side is black and charred, like so.
Turn 1/4 turn when the down side is black and charred, like so.
When the entire pepper(s) is almost totally black, remove from the grill onto a cutting board, into a bowl, whatever... Just cover it up so these babies can steam. It will help get the peel off.
I put mine on a cutting board and covered it up with a big bowl.
Now, take a damp paper towel and gently massage off the peels. Remove the stem and seeds, and dice. Throw the diced peppers into your salad bowl.
Add the drained and rinsed black beans.
Add the peeled and diced Jicama and halved cherry tomatoes.
Add the diced avocado.
If you like raw red onion, about 1/4 cup thinly sliced or diced sweet red onion can be added.
A few green onions, sliced on the bias, are good in this, as well.
Add some chopped cilantro, to your liking.

Cut the corn off the cob. Tip: Place one end of the corn in the center of a Bundt pan, and slice the corn right off into the pan. (This photo is not mine. It is from another blog: www.ourbestbites.blogspot.com)
Put the corn in the bowl with the other fresh veg.
Add the minced Jalapeno pepper. If you don't like much heat, use 1/2, or a quarter. Taste the salad! Season it as you like it.
Season with salt, pepper, and cumin, to your taste.
O.K. Let's make this super simple citrus vinaigrette. Take 1 lemon and either 2 small limes or 1 large one. Zest lemon and lime(s) into the dressing bowl. Cut in half and place on the hot grill until brown and bubbly. Man, do these look good!
Squeeze lemon and lime juice into the dressing bowl.
Add about 1 Tbls Agave Nectar,  or honey, (or heck, even white sugar, if it's all you have), into the bowl.
Add about 1/4 - 1/3 cup Extra virgin Olive Oil to the ingredients in the bowl. Whisk until incorporated.


Season up with salt, pepper, and cilantro. Taste! Re-season to your liking. Want more heat? Add some jalapeno's or crushed red pepper, or cayenne pepper. More sweet? Add more Agave nectar. More tart? Add more lime juice. (Stay away from the stuff in the plastic container, if you can) Fresh is always better).
Pour some of the the dressing over the salad. Toss. Taste. Adjust.
Garnish with cilantro. Serve cold or at room temp.
Add some brown rice or Quinoa for a complete meal.
Bon Appetit!

Ingredients:

6 ears sweet corn, shucked and silk off, grilled 
2 handful's fresh or frozen, (thawed) corn.
2 sweet red peppers, charred, seeded, and diced
1 sweet red pepper, raw, seeded and diced
2 Pasilla peppers, charred, seeded and diced
1 pound cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1 Jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced fine
1 small Jicama, peeled and diced
1 avocado, diced
1-2 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 bunch fresh cilantro, finely chopped
Cumin
Salt
Pepper

Dressing:
1 lemon and either 2 small limes or 1 large one, cut in half and grilled until brown, and jiuced
Zest of lemon and lime(s)

1 Tbls Agave Nectar
1/4 - 1/3 cup Extra virgin Olive Oil

Kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper 
2 Tbls chopped cilantro.


Method:
  1. Corn: Shuck and remove all silk. Brush with vegetable oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and some Cumin. Oil the hot grill with a vegetable oil soaked paper towel. Lay the corn right on the grates. Turn corn 1/4 turn every few minutes until there are grill marks all over.
  2. Remove corn from the cob when cool enough to handle. 
  3. Place in a salad bowl.
  4. Put the red and pasilla peppers directly on the grill or on a grill pan. Turn 1/4 turn when the down side is black and charred.
  5. When the entire pepper(s) is almost totally black, remove from the grill onto a cutting board, into a bowl, cover and steam for 10 minutes.
  6. Using a damp paper towel, gently massage off the peels. Remove the stem and seeds, and dice.
  7. Place all  ingredients into a bowl. Mix well, but gently please!
  8. Mix all vinaigrette in a bowl and whisk.
  9. Add dressing to your liking.

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About Me

Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States
I'm a home cook that can put some good tasting food on the table, most of the time. My family knows dinner is ready when the fire alarm goes off.