Monthly Archives: July 2016

Summer Garden Salad

Well it is about time we are going to be getting some much needed rain here today in New England. Thankfully we have a well instead of being on town water so we; well actually my husband who I rename every summer to water boy; has tried very hard to keep our gardens and lawn looking a little less brown than others I see around town. But it will be nice to give our well and pump a little break today and yes my husband gets a little break from playing “where to place the sprinkler now”

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This is the first weekend so far this summer where I haven’t left the house yet, I will probably venture out a little later today just to pick up a few things for this week’s staple items for meals.  Or maybe I can get my daughter to do it wink wink!

 

My garden is still doing really well despite the lack of natural rain, I picked the rest of my garlic yesterday, we have 50-ish bulbs of various sizes which should last a little while. The cucumbers and squashes are doing excellent; I made 7 jars of kosher dill pickles yesterday and I was able to pick 7 heads of broccoli. Yeah that one stumps me too of what to do with it all. I know I should be staggering my plantings; but I don’t. I have yet to like what happens to my broccoli when I freeze it so I have been sharing our harvest with family and friends.

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If you need something quick and delicious with some of what you grew yourself or bought from a local farm stand or grocery store. This one’s a keeper!

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Best if you can make this first before you start whatever you are serving it with so it has time to meld and let the veggies soak up the dressing.

Summer Garden Salad

⅓ cup cider vinegar
2 tsp honey
1 small clove of garlic, minced
½ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp freshly cracked black pepper
1 cup sliced cherry, grape or like tomatoes
½ medium cucumber, halved, seeded and sliced thin
½ medium yellow summer squash, quartered and sliced ¼ inch thick
¼ medium sweet onion sliced thin
Kernels from 1 ear of corn
1 Tbs coarsely chopped fresh basil

Whisk the first 5 ingredients together in a medium bowl. Add the next diced/sliced 5 ingredients; stir well to combine. Let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours. Stirring occasionally before serving. Garnish with the basil.

Asian Lettuce Wraps

My garden is looking pretty good so far, the first thing we harvested besides the strawberries I wrote about recently were some radishes. I shared them with my Dad and he loved them, saying they were the spiciest ones he’s ever had. The ones I ate were cut up super small for my salad and I also sliced some really thin and pickled them so I didn’t notice the spice.  I heard you can roast them so that is on my list of things to try. This week we also got our first zucchini and summer squash and so far one cucumber though most all the plants look great except my peppers and eggplant not sure what happened to those guys?  

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We planted some bibb lettuce this year; mostly because we have the perfect spot for it in the corner of one of the beds; it doesn’t get enough sunshine for anything else to grow there so I would either leave it empty or plant lettuce. I should have staggered the plants so they all didn’t mature at the same time. You can only eat so much lettuce, or at least we can; 6 plants are a little much even for a family of 4.

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The leaves looked perfect for a lettuce wrap; which we all do love but don’t eat very often. Especially at home, which since they are so easy, we totally could have them as part of our dinner rotation. Plus I have an arsenal of Asian spices and oils; probably since my daughter spent 2 years living in Japan. Or maybe because you only use a teaspoon here and a tablespoon there. I also think it is because of the Asian market I like visiting. I love the owner, she is super sweet and very helpful and you can’t beat the prices.

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Asian Lettuce Wraps

Bibb or Butter Lettuce
1 lb of lean ground beef
1 Tbs canola oil
1 large onion chopped
¼ cup hoisin sauce
2 cloves of fresh garlic, minced
1 Tbs soy sauce
1 Tbs rice wine vinegar
2 tsp fresh ginger, grated
1 dash of your favorite Asian chili pepper sauce
1 8oz can of water chestnuts, drained and finely chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped
2 tsp Asian (dark) sesame oil

Rinse whole lettuce leaves and pat them dry, being careful not to tear them and set aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat; add the oil and beef cooking until browned. Drain and discard the grease. Transfer beef to a bowl. Cook and stir onion in the same skillet until tender; add in the hoisin sauce, garlic, soy sauce, vinegar, ginger, and chili pepper sauce. Stir to combine and add the water chestnuts, green onions, sesame oil, and the cooked beef; cook for 2-4 minutes longer.  

Arrange lettuce leaves around the outer edge of a large serving platter and pile the meat mixture in the center of each leaf.

Add a small bowl of the sweet chili sauce for those who want a little more kick

Sirloin Tip Steak, Asparagus & Bearnaise Butter

I can only assume everyone’s summer has been super busy and flying by as well. We have had something going on 9 out of the last 10 weekends. Between showers, weddings and golfing we managed to also be lucky enough to spend 2 weekends in Montreal and a also a couple of weekends up North. Last weekend was to be spent boating on Winnipesaukee but the weather didn’t cooperate so we will try again sometime later in the summer.

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With all this time being away I really haven’t been cooking like I usually do; and to my surprise I have totally missed it. I mean I love cooking and baking but sometimes I have no ambition to try something new or anything too taxing.

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This weekend our plans fell through last minute so Friday night I started looking through my catalogs and magazines and started making a grocery shopping list so I could make some of the things I came across. Saturday morning I kept looking and writing till my list was now two sided UGH! I haven’t done a true grocery shopping in a long time just picking up stuff for lunches and light dinners during the week.

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So far since last night around 6PM I have made 2 new recipes and I currently have some cookies in the oven and am also getting ready to make some basil pesto. Guess I am making up for lost time in my kitchen.

2 large sprigs fresh tarragon
4 Tbs unsalted butter, softened
2 Tbs minced shallot
1 Tbs dry white wine
1 Tbs white wine vinegar
1 Tbs water
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1 ½ lb. beef flap meat – aka sirloin tip – cut so they are uniform sized pieces
1 bunch of asparagus – trimmed
T Tbs olive oil

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Bearnaise Butter

Strip the tarragon leaves from the stems, finely chop the leaves; about 2 tsp. And set aside.

In a skillet over medium-low heat melt 1 Tbs butter along with the shallots and the tarragon stems. Cook for a couple of minutes till the shallots are translucent. Add the wine, vinegar and 1 Tbs of water. Increase the heat to medium, and cook until the liquid is mostly evaporated, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl, remove and discard the stems and let cool complete.

Once cooled add the last 3 Tbs butter, the chopped tarragon, ¼ tsp kosher salt, and ⅛ tsp pepper. Mix with a fork until well combined. Set aside until ready to use.

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Steak and Asparagus

Heat your grill to high about 400’F – 475’F

Using a sheet pan place some plastic wrap down; use one end for the beef and the other for the asparagus. Coat both with olive oil and season generously with kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper.

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Grill the meat turning every 2 minutes. Around 6-8 minutes, you are looking for medium rare 140’F for best flavors.

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Remove plastic wrap place beef on sheet pan cover loosely with foil, while it is resting, cook asparagus turning once till slightly charred 2-3 minutes.

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Thinly slice the meat against the grain, arrange on plates or a platter with the asparagus, top both with dollops of the butter.

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Strawberry Jam

My husband and I were going to clean and freeze some of the strawberries we; actually he picked from our garden. But once they are frozen, they are really only good for smoothies or so we thought. He asked if I knew how to make strawberry jam. I have canned pickles, beets, tomatoes etc. but never tried making jelly or jam. I found an easy recipe and thought why not try it, I didn’t have to run out for anything and he was helping me so why not.

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He cleaned and hulled the berries; I cleaned the canning jars and covers. Using my food processor I smashed all that he cleaned and added them to one of my large heavy bottom pots. Added some sugar and lemon juice and started boiling it down to release the natural pectin in the berries. It is important to get the temperature to 220’ degrees F so the mixture will not be too runny.

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I will admit while the jam tasted great, I boiled it too long and it came too thick. Another live and learn lesson in the kitchen. I will share with you what I am going to do the next time and I am sure it will come out perfect.

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I did take one of the jars and tested adding a very small amount of water and mixing it up; it made it much more the consistency it should be.

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While canning in a water bath isn’t really difficult; you do want to make sure you start with cleaned and processed jars and covers. And you want to make sure you boil your filled jars for as long as is required. I boiled my jars for 10 minutes; I think you could go up to 15 minutes and still be fine.

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4 cups of smashed cleaned and hulled strawberries
3-4 cups of sugar – to taste
¼ cup lemon juice

Cook on low temperature till sugar dissolves. Slowly bring the berries up to a boil stirring occasionally. Here is where it can get a little tricky so pay attention to what you are doing. No emptying the dishwasher or folding laundry etc. using a candy thermometer and being careful not to burn yourself; which is why I mentioned using a large pot; it will help keep the liquid from splattering on you while you stir. When it reaches 220 degrees I suggest boiling it for 2-4 minutes. Here is where I went wrong and boiled it for 10 minutes; yeah that was way too long though adding a little bit of water helped it come back to a spreadable consistency.

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Proof is in the eating, while I writing this; my husband just made himself a PB&J sandwich and he isn’t a PB fan so I may try some other berries in the near future.
Recipe adapted from allrecipes – katherin

Baked Cod with Mango Salsa

We are a meat and potato kind of family. It is not that we don’t like all kinds of food, sometimes it is just too easy to make a protein and a potato of some sort and add a vegetable; voila dinner is served. The other day I grabbed a fresh cod fillet that looked awesome. It was pretty hot out so I wanted to make something quick and light. I love seeing fresh fish baked or pan seared with a light summer salsa spooned over it on the cover of magazines. They look absolutely delicious to me but yet I barely ever make anything like it. I also know it would be better for us and I know it has to be super easy and take a whole lot less time. Maybe this summer I will try to make some version of a fish and salsa dish at least once a month. I thought about writing once a week but I figured I should start with baby steps and not try to commit to adding it to my weekly rotations; just yet. Though if we had a local fish market, I would definitely make the commitment; in writing no less.

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When I picked up the fish I also grabbed a few mangoes thinking that would make a great salsa and that it would definitely go with the cod. I wasn’t sure what else I was going to put with it but I figured I had a start. I love having fresh herbs right outside the kitchen. The planters I bought go over the railing and they are awesome!

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A simple salt and pepper on the fish and place it in the oven, while it is cooking I made my salsa to spoon over the top using some of my fresh cilantro. I also made some sweet potato wedges using some of my fresh rosemary. Everything was coming together quite nicely and fast as i knew they would.

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Fish

Cod about 1lb and half cut into 3-4 portion size
Salt and pepper both sides
Paprika both sides
Bake for 25-30 minutes at 400’ F just till cooked through and easily flakes

Salsa

2 mangoes peeled and diced
½ red pepper diced
1 Lime fresh squeezed
1-2 Chopped fresh scallion
1 tsp Chopped fresh cilantro

Place fish on your plate spoon over mango salsa and enjoy!

 

Recipe adapted from chocolate slopes 2015