Saturday, June 28, 2014

Flounder Gratin With Tomatoes, Onions And Garlic Pesto

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Before I moved to northern Georgia, I used to live in Key Biscayne, Florida, a small key right off the city of Miami.  All you had to do was cross the Rickenbacker Causeway and there you were...paradise. In 1994, when I moved there from New York,  it was still a small informal community.  I used to brag about my daily uniform of kahki shorts in the summer and khaki pants in winter.  Then the wealthy Latin Americans arrived, real estate prices went up and the key changed forever.





One of the things I enjoyed the most in those days was going down to the docks and buying fresh fish off the fishing boats.  Grouper, Mahi Mahi, Snapper, local Lobster.  Some were in coolers still kicking around.  My daughter had just moved to Atlanta and missed the fresh fish terribly.  She would tell me how, in frustration,  she had started  buying  flash frozen fish from the grocery store and how good it was...or so it seemed.

Knowing how well I had trained her, I knew she wouldn't be encouraging me to try it if it were not that good.  So i decided to give it a whirl and, guess what...it was not bad...not bad at all.  Now that I am here in land locked northern Georgia, guess what?!  Lindaraxa buys these flash frozen filets of flounder at Costco and, to her, they taste divine.  Now, if you are by the coast or have an excellent fish market, by all means buy fresh.  There is nothing like it.

We have gotten to love this preparation and frankly, you would never know the difference.  Remember, there is a reason for all those marvelous French sauces.  Do get fresh herbs...that's the least you can do.





Preheat the oven to 400 degrees

Ingredients Per Person:

1 ovenproof porcelain dish liberally coated with olive oil
2 flounder filets
salt and pepper to taste

Lay one filet on top of the oiled dish.

add:

half of a thinly sliced tomato, seeded and dried with a paper towel

1 ring of a sliced onion

1/2 the Garlic Herb Pesto*

Repeat the layers starting with 2nd piece of founder and ending with the other half of the garlic mix




Top with:

1 TB Panko
1 TB Grated Parmesan Cheese
Drizzle of Olive oil.





Cook in the upper left of the oven at 400 degrees for 5 minutes.  Lower to 375 and cook approximately 8 minutes until browned.




Serve with a dry French rose.


 Garlic Herb Pesto:

In a small bowl mix:

1 TB garlic paste
1 TB each chopped cilantro, lemon balm, italian parsley, basil
2TB olive oil
juice of 1/2 lemon

Makes enough mix for 2 servings.

Recipe and photos Lindaraxa

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Grilled Salmon Salad With Orzo, Arugula And Roasted Peppers

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This is the first recipe I have ever posted and "adapted" from a fellow food blogger and friend.   Her name is Sam Hoffer and she publishes the  popular cooking blog, My Carolina Kitchen.   I drool over everything she posts, including the photos of her recipes, a collaboration with the best in-house photographer any food blogger could ever dream of, her husband Meakin. Moreover, I know I can trust her recipes and that is not something I often or easily say.

When I saw the original recipe for Mediterranean Salmon Salad  I knew that I had to make it, particularly since we were having grilled salmon that night.   I had plenty on hand for dinner with enough to keep for what  promised to be the queen of leftover grilled salmon recipes.  Perfect timing...my friend Sam and I are usually on the same wave length.      

The next night I asked my daughter to start the orzo but, before I knew it, she had already mixed in some of the roasted peppers we had grilled the night before and prepared the dressing.  Oh dear!  I had dreamed about this recipe all day, just the way it was.  Not wanting to hurt her feelings I decided to go with the flow.  Salmon, orzo, grilled peppers...something good had to come out of this.  And it did...as a matter of fact, it was terrific and good enough to post and file.  A big part of the success was the white balsamic dressing my daughter had come up with which went better with the roasted peppers and perfectly complimented the peppery arugula and the Kalamata olives.  Sam's had a lemon based dressing.  This had lemon balm which, incidentally, is threatening to take over the yard!

I will make the original salad next time.  Now I am anxious to see what it tastes like with lemon and practice what I preach...Don't go changing a recipe until you have tried the original first

Whether you make Sam's original recipe or my variation with roasted peppers and white balsamic, you will come out with the perfect meal for a hot summer night or a picnic.  If you try mine, play around with the measurements.  Mix the salmon and vegetables in a bowl and start adding the orzo until you come out with a ratio to your liking.  Same with the arugula.  If when you are done you feel it needs extra olives or anything else, by all means add it!






Grilled Salmon Salad With Orzo, Arugula And Roasted Peppers

Serves 6

Like Sam,   I grilled the salmon the night before after marinading it in soy sauce, ginger and sesame oil.

Ingredients:

1 lbs. cold grilled wild salmon, flaked in large pieces
4 cups cooked Orzo, room temperature
4 roasted red, yellow and orange peppers, cut in small strips
2 large scallions, chopped
1/2 cup chopped and seeded tomatoes
1/2 cup Kalamata olives cut in half
3 TB chopped lemon balm
3 TB chopped fresh oregano or basil
2 cups of arugula

Olive oil
White Balsamic Vinegar*

Directions:

In a large bowl mix all of the ingredients and drizzle with olive oil.  Add salt and pepper to taste. Let sit for about an hour so the flavors will meld.  Drizzle the white balsamic vinegar just before you serve.  Toss and enjoy!

 *Red balsamic vinegar will give the salad a funny color thus the use of white.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Moroccan Style Chicken Kabobs On Yellow Rice Pilaf With Raisins And Almonds

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I am in love with Ras El Hanout.  No, he is not a tall, dark and handsome Arab, although I wish it were. Ras El Hanout is an exotic and aromatic North African spice blend used in grilled meats, curries and tagines. The name is Arabic for "head of the shop" and implies the best spices the seller has to offer.

There is no definitive combination of spices in the mix.  Each shop, company or person may have its own blend which can consist of over a dozen spices. Commonly used ingredients are cardamon, clove, cinnamon, ground chili peppers, coriander, cumin, peppercorn, paprika, fenugreek and turmeric. To this mix, some spices, particular to the region, may be toasted and added to the blend.




I have been experimenting with Ras El Hanout ever since I fell in love with Yotam Ottolenghi's cooking.   I bought all three of his cookbooks and promptly  ordered a bunch of spices from Williams Sonoma.  Ras El Hanout was one of them.  I have already posted two of his recipes, here and here.  Lately,with everything that is going on in this house, cooking has been simple and I have not had a chance to dig deep into his books; but the other night I added this spice blend to the chicken kabobs we were having for dinner.  We loved it.  They were spicy, aromatic and full of flavor.  Everything you would dream about in the perfect grilled chicken.





Ras El Hanout can be ordered  on several sites on the Internet, including Amazon.  As a benchmark, I strongly recommend the blend on the Williams Sonoma website,  but have included a simple recipe below.

Before you say anything, I know soy sauce is not part of Moroccan cuisine and neither are Vidalia onions,  or tomatoes for that matter, but it works.  The world has shrunk and now everything is available everywhere.  Let's take advantage of it and bend the rules once in awhile,  when and if appropriate.   Trust me, this really works!





Accompany with  Yellow Rice Pilaf With Raisins And Almonds but substitute saffron for turmeric. 






Moroccan Style Chicken Kabobs

Serves 2

Ingredients

2 skinless and boneless chicken breasts or 4 chicken thighs

Marinade

1 TB Ras El Hanout
4 garlic cloves mashed
juice of 1 lime or lemon
1 TB soy sauce
1 TB chopped cilantro
1/4 cup olive oil

1 Vidalia or Spanish onion
4 cherry tomatoes
1 red, yellow or orange pepper
Salt and pepper

Directions

Cut chicken into 1 inch pieces.  In a bowl mix the rest of the ingredients.  Marinade the chicken for at least 1/2 hour. 

Quarter the onions and cut the peppers into 1 inch pieces.  

Skewer the chicken, tomatoes, onions and peppers, alternating.  Drizzle the chicken marinade over the kabobs.  Sprinkle salt and pepper on all sides.





Light the grill and cook on medium high until chicken is done.  If it begins to char too much, lower the temperature and move kabobs to the back of the grill.


Optional but good:  Accompany with sour cream, mango chutney and avocado slices with oil and vinegar. Pita bread can be substituted for the rice.


Ras El Hanout

Ingredients:

1 teaspoon ground cumin\
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seeds\
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Preparation:


In a small bowl whisk together all ingredients until combined well. Spice blend keeps in an airtight container at cool room temperature 1 month.

All photos except #2 Lindaraxa
Photo #2 Williams Sonoma

Lindaraxa has not received payment for mentioning any of the products in this post..

Sunday, June 8, 2014

A Father's Day Treat...Chewy Butterscotch Bars With Walnuts

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Butterscotch bars, or brownies, are one of my all time favorites.  They were a favorite of my father's who, unfortunately, died many years ago when he was only fifty two and of my husband's who was only forty two when he passed away.

Lindaraxa's family hasn't celebrated Father's Day for many years but that doesn't mean we forget those we love on this special occasion... So we bake and we grill and toast them for the few happy years they shared with us. 

This is the original recipe from Nestle's and the one I have been making all these years.  As Madame Mere taught me, you can never go wrong with the recipe in back of a product.  

If you like butterscotch, these are definitely for you.  The only suggestion I have is halve the recipe and bake in a 9 x 11 pan... that is, unless you are baking for a crowd.  Also, I use walnuts, which counterbalances the sweetness of the butterscotch better than other nuts

This is a great dessert to take on picnics or on the boat.  They are a special treat to have around when you are entertaining guests for the weekend.   Come to think of it, they are great anytime!



I know, let's get a male Westie...problem solved!



Chewy Butterscotch Bars With Brownies

Makes 4 dozen brownies  


Ingredients

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 

1 teaspoon baking powder 

1/2 teaspoon salt 

1 cup butter, softened 

1 3/4 cups brown sugar, firmly packed 

1 tablespoon vanilla extract 

2 eggs 

1 (11 ounce) package Nestle Toll House butterscotch-flavored morsels, divided 

1 cup walnuts, chopped 



Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 

2. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside. 

3. Beat butter, brown sugar, and vanilla extract in a large mixer bowl until creamy. 

4. Beat in eggs. 

5. Gradually beat in flour mixture. 

6. Stir in 1 cup morsels, and nuts. 

7. Spread into ungreased 13x9-inch baking pan. 

8. Sprinkle with remaining morsels. 

9. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. 

10. Cool in pan on wire rack.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Old Fashioned Macaroni Salad With A Twist...Or Two

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First of all let me tell you that macaroni salad is not one of my favorites.  No, I am in the coleslaw camp. When it comes to fried chicken, ribs, or hamburgers and there's a choice between salads there is no question which one I pick.  Not so my daughter.  She is on the macaroni salad camp.  . The problem is that there's only two of us and when we order our favorite fried chicken (yes, Lindaraxa eats other people's food sometimes) it is kind of ridiculous to order both. So I have ceded sometimes and gotten to tolerate it.

A couple of weeks ago I noticed this salad on the Williams Sonoma blog and I immediately thought of her. It looked different and delicious, a different twist on the old favorite she was so fond of. Why not surprise her.

As I reread the recipe I felt something was not quite right.  The measurements in the dressing and the rest of the ingredients seemed very skimpy for the amount of pasta involved.  There was no way that 2/3 cup of dressing was going to cover three cups of uncooked macaroni.  Not being one to change a recipe until after I have tried it, I went ahead with it and, sure enough, I was right, it was blah.  I am not one to like salads overdressed, particularly pasta salads, but the results here were not the same as those pictured in the recipe.  Another thing that had appealed to me was what looked to be a fairly even distribution between pasta and "crunch" and again, it was not there.

After tasting the final product and playing around with it at the end, I have changed quantities a bit and added a thing or two, including 1 teaspoon of sweet pickle relish at the end.  You be the judge but do try it, the flavor is simply delicious.  The olives and pickles are a stroke of genius.  It would be a standout at any outdoor event, including next weekend's Father's day.  One thing you can do is cook the three cups of pasta and reserve one to mix at the end in case you feel it needs it.


A great pairing with pulled pork sandwiches!


Make the salad at least a day ahead to help the flavors meld.  It keeps well for a few days in the refrigerator and improves with time.

As a further endorsement, we have now found a macaroni salad we both enjoy and the recipe has gone into the keepers file.  We were still eating it four days after Labor Day!





Old-Fashioned Macaroni Salad With a Twist...Or Two

2 cups (10 1/2 oz./330 g.) elbow macaroni*(I used Barilla)
Salt and freshly ground pepper

For the dressing:
1/3 cup (3 fl. oz./80 ml.) mayonnaise
1/4 cup (2 oz./60 g.) sour cream
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1-2 tsp. sweet pickle juice

1/2 white onion, finely chopped
3 celery ribs, finely chopped, leaves reserved and finely chopped
3 sweet pickles, finely chopped
1/2 red pepper chopped (optional)
2 hard-cooked eggs, chopped
1/2 cup (2 1/2 oz./75 g.) pimiento-stuffed green olives, chopped
1/2 bunch fresh chives, snipped

1 tsp. sweet pickle relish (optional)

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium, add the macaroni, and cook until tender, according to package directions. Drain and rinse under cold running water and set aside to drain.

To make the dressing, in a serving bowl, combine the mayonnaise, sour cream, mustard, pickle juice, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir to mix well.

Add the onion, celery and pickles and stir to mix again. Add the macaroni and turn to coat. Add the hard-cooked eggs, green olives and celery leaves and turn once again. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt, if needed.  Add the teaspoon of sweet pickle relish if you want.  Transfer to a serving bowl, garnish with the snipped chives, and serve. Serves 6.

*Original calls for 3 cups

Adapted from the original recipe, Old Fashioned Macaroni Salad With Sweet Pickles by Georgianne Brennan for Williams Sonoma

All photos Lindaraxa


  

Sunday, June 1, 2014

May I Present...

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Harper Glen

5/30//2014 


Our beautiful little girl was born last Friday around  1:00 p.m.

She is Lindaraxa's third grandchild

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