Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Salmon with Lemony-Pistachio Herb Relish

We've officially reached the point in the summer where I'm starting to look forward to fall.  Don't get me wrong, I'm extremely anti-pumpkin spice before Labor Day.  Honestly, I can't really get into it until October 1st, but I stop getting irrationally annoyed at stores for selling pumpkin spice everything when we've at least passed the unofficial end of summer.  

But people.

It's still. so. hot.  

Much too hot to run the oven unless you absolutely have to.  

salmon lemon pistachio relish

Fortunately, with this salmon with lemony pistachio-herb relish, you don't have to.  Just heat up a pan, countertop grill, or outdoor grill.  While that's going, chop up all the relish ingredients...and voilá!  A clean, healthy, light, and fresh summer meal that won't inadvertently heat the whole house.  

Keep it light, easy, and cool this summer with this simple salmon topped with bright, fresh lemony-pistachio herb relish. 

Salmon with Lemony Pistachio-Herb Relish
relish from Cooking Light, August 2018

4 servings salmon, either in individual filets or one large piece
1 TBSP olive oil, for brushing
1/4 c. finely chopped roasted, salted pistachios
1/4 c. chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
2 TBSP chopped fresh mint
1 TBSP minced shallot
1 TBSP lemon zest
1/4 tsp. Kosher salt, plus more to taste
1/4 tsp. freshly-ground black pepper, plus more to taste
red pepper flakes, if desired (optional)

1.  Heat sauté pan or grill to medium high heat.  Season salmon liberally with salt and pepper.  If using a sauté pan, heat the oil and place salmon skin-side up.  Cook 3-4 minutes then flip and cook, skin side down, 1 minute more.  For a grill, brush the grates with the oil.  Cook skin side up, 2-3 minutes, until lightly browned, then flip and cook on skin side 3-4 minutes more.

2.  Meanwhile, combine remaining ingredients in a small bowl.  To serve, spoon over salmon and serve immediately.

yield: 4 servings

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Summer Berry Cobb Salad

We recently had a week long stretch of days near 110°.  It was miserable.  For the first time in my five years as a Texan, I could honestly say the heat was as bad as Phoenix.  Not a fan.  Not at all.

Weather like that causes all kinds of very real issues, especially for those living without reliable shelter and air conditioning.  Hospitals across the city saw a spike in patients with heat exhaustion, neighborhoods experienced rolling blackouts as air conditioning units demanded much more power than normal, and a large number of outdoor events were rescheduled or canceled altogether.

Fortunately for me, I never lost power and I was able to spend much of the heatwave either in my office or my home with the air conditioner and fans running.  I definitely felt the lethargy and general blah-ness those hellacious temperatures can bring, but that's pretty minor when I consider how much worse it was for many others.

I was even able to have my daddy over for dinner one night.  He's recently moved down closer to me and I'm loving it.  I'd normally whip up a more complex meal, but y'all, I was not feeling it after days of literally record-breaking heat.

That's where light, fresh salads like this one come in.  Just chop some things up, make a quick vinaigrette (I even got to use herbs from my garden), and call it good.  As for the chicken?  You could grill your own, but I was more than happy to let the grocery store run their ovens.  Store bought rotisserie chicken for the win.

berry cobb salad

Keep it cool on long, hot days with this summer berry cobb salad.  A store bought rotisserie chicken, seasonal berries, creamy avocado, crunchy toasted almonds, and your favorite cheese make for an easy, healthy, and pretty salad you'll gladly enjoy all summer long.

Summer Berry Cobb Salad
salad adapted from A Spicy Perspective
vinaigrette an Apple a Day original

For the vinaigrette:
1/3 c. fresh lime juice (from two limes)
1/2 c. extra-virgin olive oil
1 TBSP honey
1 TBSP dijon mustard
1 TBSP minced fresh basil
1 tsp. minced fresh mint
pinch of salt and black pepper

For the salad:
4 good-sized handfuls baby spinach, chopped
2 cooked chicken breasts, chopped (grilled or rotisserie)
2 hardboiled eggs, peeled and chopped (optional)
1 avocado, chopped
1/2 c. blackberries, halved
1/2 c. raspberries, halved
1/2 c. crumbled blue, goat, or feta cheese
1/4 c. chopped, toasted almonds

1.  To make the vinaigrette, combine all ingredients in a tightly-sealed jar and shake to combine.  Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.

2.  Assemble the salad by creating a bed of spinach in one large serving bowl or two individual bowls.  Arrange toppings as desired.  Drizzle with vinaigrette and enjoy.

yield: 2 servings

Friday, June 22, 2018

Vanilla-Blueberry Scones

My favorite holiday, the Fourth of July, is coming up.  As usual, I'll be at the beach with my friends and I cannot wait.  This annual trip of ours has become something of my own personal new year.  My time to recharge, reflect on the year past, and consider my goals for the year to come.

Over the years, we've learned how to simplify our time at the beach however possible.  One way is packing pre-made dry mixes and frozen baked goods in our suitcases.  I'll have spices for homemade salsa, dry rub for slow cooker pulled pork, a few of my perfect pie crusts, and a several dozen of my best-ever chocolate chip cookies nestled in with my swimsuits and sundresses.  It may sounds silly, but I tell you, it makes for shorter, cheaper trips to the grocery store, less time spent in the kitchen, and more time hanging out on the beach or by the pool.  

This year, I'm considering bringing some of these scones, as well.  They're a spin off of an early post--these strawberry scones I love so very much.  They'll make an easy breakfast one morning and, with so many beautiful blueberries shining through, they'd make for a very patriotic Fourth of July breakfast alongside a bowl of cut up strawberries, raspberries, and cherries.  Considering making a batch or blueberry and a batch of strawberry scones, or even using both berries in one batch.  No matter how you bring in the red, white, and blue, these scones are sure to please!

blueberry scones

Freeze a batch of these lightly sweet vanilla-blueberry scones for easy, freshly-baked breakfasts any day of the week.

Vanilla-Blueberry Scones
adapted from the now-defunct blog, Good Things Catered

1 egg
1/4 c. plain yogurt
1/4 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla bean paste OR seeds scraped from one vanilla bean
2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 c. granulated sugar, plus extra for sprinkling (Turbinado works well for sprinkling)
1 TBSP baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
8 TBSP (1 stick) butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
1 c. frozen blueberries 

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheet with Silpat or parchment paper.

2.  In small bowl, combine egg, yogurt, milk, extract, and zest.  Whisk to combine thoroughly.  Set aside.

3.  In a large bowl or the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Whisk or pulse to combine.  Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut butter into flour until all pieces are smaller than pea-sized.  If using a food processor, pulse about twelve times until the butter pieces are the appropriate size, then pour into a large bowl.  Add berries to the bowl and gently toss to coat.

4.  Add wet ingredients to dry and mix in lightly with fork or spatula until dough just comes together.

5.  Turn dough out onto well-floured work surface and pat into a flat disk about 1 inch thick.  Cut into 8 slices.  Place scones on the lined baking sheet sprinkle tops of scones with Turbinado sugar.  If freezing, place scones flat on a plate or baking sheet and put in the freezer for 30 minutes.  Transfer to a zip top bag or other well-sealed container.

6.  If baking right away, bake the scones until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 20-25 minutes.  If baking from frozen,  bake for 25 minutes and add up to 3 additional minutes, if necessary.  Remove from oven and let cool on baking sheet for 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.

yield: 8 scones

Monday, June 11, 2018

Meatless Monday--Curried Broccoli Coucous Salad

It's funny how your tastes develop and change over time.  When I started college in Washington, D.C., one of the things I was so excited about what experiencing new cultures and their food.  I remember hearing so many of friends and fellow students talking about how much they loved Indian food.  I'd never even had it and could only recall even seeing Indian food a couple of times.  Even though I was a somewhat adventurous eater, the sweet, spicy, pungent smell of the curry was overwhelming to me.     

Eventually, several years after graduating, I saw a recipe for curried chicken salad.  I'd always loved chicken salad, and with my confidence in the kitchen increasing, I thought I'd give it a shot.  It wasn't bad, but it wasn't great.  A few months later, though, that flavor came creeping back up on me and I decided to make it again.  I was a fan.  I began to seek out simple Indian recipes and eventually stumbled upon Bal Arneson's no-butter chicken.  I loved it then and I still love it now.  You all do too, apparently; it's one of the most popular recipes on this blog.

A little over a year ago, I went to London to visit a dear friend.  You'd better believe I jumped at the chance to eat all the Indian food I could and my sweet friend knew exactly where to take me.  While waiting in line for one of London's Indian hot spots on a typically chilly, drizzly early spring evening, the restaurant sent out mini shooters of chai that warmed us through and through.  Each rich, fragrant, mouthful comforted me and made me feel so at home, even in a city I'd never before visited.

This salad certainly isn't the luxurious dal or buttery, garlicky dal I remember from London, but it is a healthier, brighter, lighter way to bring in some of the flavors and scents that will forever make me think of that perfect first trip.  It comes together simply and quickly, can easily be vegan (just use agave in place of the honey), and makes for excellent lunches throughout the week.

London, I'll be back.  For now, I've got some home cooking to do.

Golden raisins and Madras curry powder make for a sweet, spicy, simple salad that makes perfect lunches and only gets better as the week goes on. 

Curried Broccoli Couscous Salad
an Apple a Day original


For the salad:
1 c. Israeli (also called pearl) couscous
3/4 tsp. sea salt, divided
2 TBSP olive oil
1 small onion, cut into 1/2-in. strips
1 small bunch broccoli, cut into bite-sized florets
1 (14.5-oz.) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 c. golden raisins
2-3 tsp. Madras curry powder 
red pepper flakes, to taste
fresh spinach, chopped if desired

For the vinaigrette:
1/3 c. extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 c. red wine vinegar
1 TBSP dijon mustard
2 tsp. honey or agave 

1.  Bring 1 1/2 c. water to boil.  Add 1/4 tsp. salt then stir in the couscous.  Reduce heat to low and simmer 10 minutes, covered.  Remove lid, let stand 2 minutes, then fluff with a fork.

2.  Meanwhile, heat a large sauté pan over medium heat.  Warm the oil and cook the onion and broccoli until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes.  Add the remaining salt.  Add the chickpeas, raisins, desired amount of curry powder, and red pepper flakes, if using.  Cook 2-3 minutes more.

3.  When the couscous is done, pour into the pan with the broccoli mixture and stir to combine.  Let cook 2 minutes more, adding up to 1/4 c. water if you feel the mixture is too dry.

4.  To make the vinaigrette, put all ingredients into a jar.  Tightly seal and shake to combine.  Make salads by putting desired amount of spinach into individual bowls, topping with the couscous mixtures, and drizzling with dressing.

yield: 4 servings    

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Chrissy Teigen's Basil Chicken (Pad Grapow Chicken)

Please tell me y'all love Chrissy Teigen as much as I do.  I think she's hilarious.  Honest.  Vulnerable.  More than willing to laugh at herself first so you never can.  If that's not enough, there's this.   She got the Backstreet Boys to explain why, whatever "it" is, they simultaneously want it that way, but also not that way.  She basically solved the mother of all late 90's TRL mysteries.  

Feel free to take to twitter to thank her.  She's basically the queen over there.

basil chicken

Still not convinced?  How about a little food?  I think better after a good meal, too.  And let me tell you--this was one. good. meal.  It's simple and quick and pretty darn healthy, too.  It doesn't use many ingredients, but each one is packed with flavor.  Most notable, of course, is the basil.  Fresh basil is one of my all-time favorite smells and, since you'll use three cups of it here, your whole kitchen will smell amazing.

So this summer, when your basil plant is out of control and you've already made multiple batches of pesto, give this a try.  You'll want it that way.  Or not.  I don't know...have Chrissy Teigen explain it.  She got the answer firsthand.

chrissy teigen basil chicken

Fresh summer basil comes together with a handful of other ingredients for a quick, healthy summer meal bursting with flavor.  If it's good enough for Chrissy Teigen, it's good enough for me.

Chrissy Teigen's Basil Chicken (Pad Grapow)
from Chrissy Teigen, Cravings

1 1/4 lb. bonelss, skinless chicken breasts, sliced into thin strips
2 TBSP oyster sauce
2 TBSP light soy sauce
5 cloves garlic
1 serrano chile (or as many fresh Thai chiles as you can stand)
2 TBSP vegetable oil
3 c. fresh basil, preferably Thai basil
cooked jasmine rice, for serving (I used brown jasmine)
chile garlic sauce, for serving (my addition)

1.  In a bowl, toss the chicken with the oyster sauce and marinate for 10 minutes.  Mash the garlic and chile (seeded, if desired) in a mortar and pestle until finely smashed.  If you don't have a mortar and pestle, mincing that garlic and chile will work fine.

2.  In a large skillet or wok, heat the oil over medium-high heat.  When the oil is shimmering hot, add the garlic chile mixture and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Increase the heat to high, add the chicken, and cook, stirring frequently, until cooked through, about 4 minutes.  Add the basil and cook until wilted, about 1 minute.

3.  Serve with the rice and chile garlic sauce, if desired.

yield: 3-4 servings