Monday, August 28, 2023

ChezCindy: Strawberry Jalapeno Salsa


This Strawberry Salsa came from the need to use up extra fruit I had left over from a cake I made over the weekend.  I did not want to make another sweet treat but was puzzled in how strawberries could be used in a savory dish.  A quick search of the internet pulled back numerous recipes for strawberry salsa, which was new to me.  The ingredients are much the same as the standard tomato salsa.  However, this fruit salsa is lighter and seems more fresh tasting.  There is a hint of sweetness from the berries, and a back-note of heat from the jalapeno pepper.  The key to this balance is to finely mince the pepper and onion.  I served it simply with tortilla chips.  I also think it would be delightful spooned over grilled chicken or pork. 

Strawberry Jalapeno Salsa 
1 1/2 cups strawberries, hulled and cut into small dice
1/4 cup finely diced red onion
1-2 tablespoons finely diced fresh jalapeno pepper, depending upon heat preference
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon thinly sliced fresh basil
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lime or lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Prepare all ingredients as instructed.  Combine the ingredients in a small mixing bowl.  Allow to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes.  Serve with tortilla chips or with a cheese and charcuterie board.  
Salsa is best when served same day as made.  

Thursday, August 24, 2023

ChezCindy: Cauliflower Steaks Parmesan-Style


If you are looking for an alternative to Chicken Parmesan, or simply enjoy cauliflower, this recipe might be perfect for you.  My recipe swaps out the chicken replacing it with cauliflower steaks.  The steaks are grilled and are not breaded and fried as a traditional chicken parm.  Each grilled steak is topped with a mix of Italian melting cheese and a drizzle of marinara sauce.  I spiced my sauce with a bit of Calabrian chilies to add a zip to the final dish.  

I used an electric indoor grill unit, a new release from GreenPan, to cook the cauliflower steaks.  You may have a Cuisinart Griddler or even an older George Forman Grill.  All of these will work to make this recipe.  Don't have any of these?  A large cast iron Lodge skillet will do just fine.  

 Cauliflower Steaks Parmesan-Style
1 medium-large cauliflower head
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/8 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon fennel seed
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup mix of fresh grated Italian melting cheese (fontina, asiago, and/or provolone) 
2 tablespoons fresh grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon Calabrian chilies in oil
1 cup marinara sauce

Cut the cauliflower head into 3 steaks, each being 3/4" thick.  Reserve the remaining bits of cauliflower for another use.  Place the cauliflower steaks onto a large plate.  Set aside.  

Pour the olive oil into a small bowl, adding in the dried oregano, fennel seed, and garlic powder.  Stir to combine.  

Heat an electric indoor grill to high temperature, 425 degrees if your unit has a read-out display.  

Using a small spoon, lightly coat both sides of the steaks with the seasoned oil.  Evenly sprinkle the steaks with the salt.  Place the steaks onto the hot grill, cooking until both sides are deeply cooked with grill marks and the steaks are soft when pierced with the tip of a knife.  

Generously cover each steak with a handful of the grated cheese.  The cheese will melt with the carry-over heat from the grill.  Transfer the steaks to a serving platter.  

Mix together the Calabrian chilies and the marinara sauce.  Lightly drizzle the steaks with the sauce, sprinkling with fresh grated Parmesan cheese.  Serve as a side dish or with pasta. 


Monday, August 7, 2023

ChezCindy: Summer Caprese Salad


Summer tomatoes are the star of any Caprese Salad, which in turn make you a super star at your next dinner gathering.  A visit to the farm stand for selection of a variety of gorgeous tomatoes is the place to begin.  Add fresh basil leaves and the best fresh mozzarella cheese you can find to complete the list of ingredients.  With barely a recipe at all, this composed salad comes together like a beautiful painting of color.  

A quick note on summer tomatoes:  I highly recommend that your store the tomatoes at room temperature, and never place them in the refrigerator.  Cold tomatoes quickly lose their quality and turn to a mushy texture.  

Summer Caprese Salad
1 pound fresh mozzarella cheese
2-3 pounds variety of fresh farm tomatoes, heirloom if available
1 bunch of fresh basil leaves
Flakey sea salt
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Balsamic vinegar, optional

Slice the mozzarella into thick slices, setting aside at room temperature.  Slice the tomatoes into thick slices.  Working with a large platter, arrange the tomatoes and the mozzarella slices in an overlapping pattern.  Add a sprinkling of the flakey sea salt.  Generously drizzle with the olive oil.  When ready to serve, tear the basil leaves into pieces, scattering the leaves over the tomatoes and cheese.  If desired, drizzle with a small amount of balsamic vinegar.  Serve at room temperature.