Wednesday, August 3, 2016

ChezCindy: Easy Summer Grilling

It's time for summer grilling.  Easy and enjoyable as you listen to the sounds of cicadas, watch the occasional flutter of a butterfly, and catch a glimpse of the beginning flicker of fireflies.  

Keep the evening meal simple by using a compound butter.  When grilling meat, chicken, fish, vegetables or even fruit, there are a myriad of marinades, rubs and sauces available.  But one of my favorites is compound butter.  Compound butters are great to have on hand, stored in the freezer, ready to melt gently into your grilled food imparting a great impact of flavor.  

I recently created a new combination using ground turmeric, garlic and fresh oregano.  The turmeric is a surprise ingredient that provides the gorgeous golden color.  Slather onto grilled steak hot from the grill, corn on the cob, and grilled bread.  Simple and delicious as you enjoy a beautiful summer evening.  

Golden Garlic Butter
1 stick of unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper

Combine all ingredients into a small bowl.  Stir to combine.  Lay out a large piece of plastic wrap.  Spoon the butter onto the plastic wrap.  Shape the butter into a log; roll up in the plastic wrap.  Chill in the refrigerator until ready to use.  Store the remaining butter in the fridge for 3-5 days or 1 month in the freezer.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

ChezCindy: Italian Cauliflower & Tomatoes

Italian Cauliflower & Tomatoes

For those who love Italian food, but are looking to eat less pasta or meat in their diet, this is the dish for you. This recipe uses fennel seed and fresh basil to bring forward the traditional Italian flavors, resulting in a delicious main course or side dish.  Because the cooking process is quick over high heat, the cauliflower losses the bitter, strong taste that people hope to avoid. Fresh grape tomatoes provide sweetness, with Parmesan cheese to complete the dish.  And it comes together within minutes of prep and cooking time.  Try serving as a side to grilled Italian sausages or seasoned chicken breasts; or simply serve as your next "Meatless Monday" meal. 

Italian Cauliflower & Tomatoes
1 head of cauliflower
1 pint of grape or cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup of olive oil
2 teaspoons of fennel seed
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 sprig of fresh basil
kosher salt and course ground black pepper

Working with a head of cauliflower, remove the green leaves, stems and core.  Slice the head in half.  Then slice into planks, providing a flat surface area so that the cauliflower will have good contact with the pan.  Next, using a large non-stick saute pan, add a tablespoon of olive oil to the pan, place over medium-high heat.  Allow the pan to get hot, swirling the oil to coat the bottom.  Add the planks of cauliflower in a single layer so that all of the pieces have contact with the pan, filling in with the little bits that have crumbled.  With a large head, you may need to do this in small batches, adding more oil as needed.  Do not stir or turn for several minutes.  Using tongs, peek at the cooked side of the cauliflower plank to see if it has browned like in the picture below.  As each plank has browned, turn over so that each piece has become beautifully browned.  This just takes a few minutes.  Remove the cauliflower from the pan; set aside.

Cut the tomatoes in half and add to the pan along with additional olive oil, season with salt and pepper.  Add the fennel seeds, sauteing until the tomatoes have browned and given up their juices.  Add the cauliflower back into the pan, stirring to combine.  Turn off the heat; add the grated Parmesan cheese and basil over the top and serve.  

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

ChezCindy: Broccoli Salad - Updated

Old-style broccoli salad is a favorite from years gone by.  You may know this salad as having raisins, lots of crisp bacon, mayonnaise, and just a bit sugar that tastes so good; just the right balance of salty from the bacon and sweetness from the sugar.  My recipe updates this family favorite by using chopped raw kale, dried cranberries, fresh grapes, and of course, fresh broccoli.  However, I don't like the tough texture of raw broccoli, so I do a quick blanch just until it begins to soften.  If you're okay with raw broccoli, skip this step.  I've also cut back on the amount of bacon, just using enough to appreciate the smoky flavor it lends.
Make this for your next family gathering or eat the whole recipe yourself as you binge-watch a favorite show.  No need to feel guilty - broccoli is 30 only calories per cup!

Broccoli Kale Salad
4 cups broccoli florets
3 cups kale leaves, chopped
1 cup red or black seedless grapes
2 tablespoons finely diced red onion
2 tablespoons chopped cooked bacon
1/3 cup toasted unsalted sunflower seeds
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1 tablespoon oil

1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
fresh cracked black pepper

Begin by blanching the broccoli in the microwave.  To do this, place 2 tablespoons of water into a large microwave safe bowl.  Add the broccoli florets to the bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and microwave on high for 1 minute.  The bowl will be hot, so using hot pads, remove the bowl form the microwave and set aside for 1 minute.  Using a large slotted spoon, remove the broccoli from the bowl, spreading it onto a sheet tray lined with paper towels to stop from cooking further.  The broccoli should just lose some of the rawness and not be fully cooked.  This cooking step can be eliminated if you prefer raw broccoli.
Remove the kale leaves from the tough stems; chop the leaves into small strips and place in a large bowl.  Drizzle the tablespoon of oil over the kale leaves, sprinkle with a pinch of kosher salt.  Massage the oil into the kale leaves until the leaves are dark green and softened, about 2 -3 minutes.
Add the cooled broccoli to the kale leaves.  Cut the grapes in half and add to the bowl.  Add the diced red onion, chopped cooked bacon, sunflower seeds and cranberries; mix to combine.
In a small bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper.  Pour the dressing over the broccoli kale salad; gently toss to evenly coat.  Adjust the salt and pepper to your taste.  Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.