Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Tomato, Melon, and Mozzerella Salad

Summer is my favorite season. The sun is blazing, parties are abundant, and the produce is spectacular. At my local farmer's market, they had an array of various tiny melons (they always remind me of that shrunken head in Beetlejuice). They are ripe and juicy and sweet-as-candy. Plus they are great for our bodies--loaded with Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Potassium. And then, of course, the heirloom tomatoes. These funny, quirky guys come in all shapes and sizes, and once you taste one, you realize that those red things they're selling at the grocery store are not really tomatoes. So, I created this summer salad with all my favorite summer flavors. Enjoy!

Half a red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup vinegar (white, red, champagne, or sherry)
Cold water
1 butterscotch melon (or any orange-fleshed melon--if large, use half), diced
2 heirloom tomatoes, diced
1 tub of mini fresh mozzerella balls (or just cut a big one up)
2 Tablespoons fresh basil, chiffonaded (stack the leaves up, roll like a cigar, and slice thinly)
1 lemon, halved
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
salt and pepper
pinch of red chili flakes (optional)
4 cups (or more) fresh arugula

1. Place the onions in a small bowl. Add vinegar and then fill with cold water until all onions are covered. Place in fridge.

2. Place melon, tomato, mozzerella, and basil in a medium bowl. Squeeze in juice of half a lemon and drizzle with olive oil to taste (you don't need much). Add salt, pepper, and chili flakes. Take onions out of fridge, drain, and toss into salad. (This process takes the pungency out so that they are crispy still but more subtle in flavor). Toss.

3. In a separate bowl, combine arugula, juice of the other lemon half, and a drizzle of olive oil. Salt and pepper lightly. Toss.

4. Serve melon mixture over arugula salad.

Serves 4.

Variations on a theme: Tonight, I made the same salad but replaced the mozzarella with cubed feta and added mint and kalamata olives. Also delicious! Try them both!

Printable version here.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Seared Duck Breast with Fig and Orange Compote

I love duck. Love it. It's rich, it's flavorful, it pairs well with fruit (my favorite combo). But I do not make it at home often because it is fairly fatty. But when I want something that is simple to cook but is decadent and delicious, duck breast is the perfect answer. I personally cannot stand eating any kind of gristle or fat, so I just cook it with the layer of fat on the breast to ensure moist meat, but do not eat the fat. I use fresh figs in this recipe, but you can re-constitute dried figs in near-boiling water for 20 minutes as another great option.

1 pint fresh figs, roughly chopped
1/4 cup orange juice
1 Tablespoon honey
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 Tablespoon Cointreau (or other orange liqueur)
salt and pepper
1 lemon
2 duck breasts
extra virgin olive oil
wild rice
chicken broth

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cook wild rice according to directions.

2. Combine figs, orange juice, honey, balsamic vinegar, and Cointreau in a small saucepan. Put over medium-low heat until figs break down and the sauce is reduced to a compote consistency, stirring ocassionally. Season generously with pepper, add salt to taste. Turn to low heat to wait for service.

3. Heat a large sautee pan over high heat. When hot, add olive oil and allow to heat for a 30 seconds. Salt and pepper both sides of duck breasts. Lay duck breasts, fat side down, in the hot oil and do not move. Let crisp for 5 minutes and then put the whole pan in the oven.

4. Let the duck breasts roast until medium, about 8-10 minutes. It should still be slightly pink in the middle.

5. Remove from oven (being careful to use potholders....I then put the potholder over the handle of the pot on the stovetop so that I do not forget that it's hot....lesson learned the hard way, I'm afraid) and place duck breasts on a cutting board. Let rest for 5 minutes.

6. Taste compote. If it's too sweet, add the juice of half a lemon and re-assess. Slice and serve with compote and prepared wild rice.

Serves 2.

Printable version here.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Grilled Chicken with Suzy's Summer Succotash

We just arrived home from a lovely Jamaican vacation. And although the food was delicious (don't worry--I'm working on my promised recipes!), it was very rich and bountiful! So, we needed a nice, light meal to get back into our So-Cal healthy eating lifestyle! Enjoy!

2 large chicken breasts, cut into large sections (or leave whole)
1 lemon, juiced
1 lime, juiced
2-3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 yams or sweet potatoes
2 ears corn, shucked
2 portobello mushrooms, gills removed and wiped with a wet towel to clean
12 grape tomatoes, cut into small pieces
1 cup frozen edamame (shelled)
1/4 cup basil, chiffonaded
1 Tablespoon of olive oil (or to taste)
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar (or to taste)
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

1. Combine lemon juice, lime juice, garlic, oil, and oregano in a large ziploc bag. Add chicken breast pieces and close bag. Roll the chicken around so that all pieces are coated and put in the fridge. Marinade for 1-4 hrs (but no more as the citrus will "cook" the chicken).

2. When chicken is marinaded, preheat the grill to high heat.

3. Prick the yams with a fork and microwave for 4 minutes. When cool enough to handle, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices and coat lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

4. Lightly coat corn and portobellos with olive oil, salt and pepper.

5. Place frozen edamame in a microwave-safe dish and add a teaspoon of water. Cover loosely and microwave for 3 minutes. Drain and shock in cold water.

6. Place chicken, corn, mushrooms, and potatoes on grill. (Once you put the chicken on, don't touch it. This will ensure that it won't stick and that you get good grill marks. It will release when it's ready to flip.) Cook until vegetables get a nice char and the chicken is cooked through.

7. While those things are cooling, combine the tomatoes, basil, and edamame. When cool enough to handle, chop the mushrooms and sweet potatoes into half-inch pieces and add to the tomato mixture. Cut the corn off the cob and add as well.

8. Finish with olive oil, red wine vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste. Serve with chicken.

Serves 4.

Printable version here.