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Monday, May 31, 2010

Lights, Camera, Uh-Oh: The First "Savor the Moment" Video Blog!

Happy Memorial Day & welcome to the first "Savor the Moment" Video Blog! Today's recipe is a delicious and refreshing Watermelon Salsa that's just perfect for Summer entertaining. Just a note, I ran into a wee bit of technical difficulty during filming (memory card ran out of space) so the video is presented in two parts. Don't run off at intermission though because I have a question for you at the end of the video and George Clooney may or may not make a cameo appearance - you just have to watch and find out! I have also included the recipe for the Watermelon Salsa below. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did - Cheers!

"Watermelon Salsa" - Act 1

"Watermelon Salsa" - Act 2

Watermelon Salsa (pg. 44)
2 cups finely chopped, seeded watermelon
1 or 2 jalapeños, minced, or to taste
2 tablespoons minced red onion
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/8 teaspoon grated gingerroot
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Combine the watermelon, jalapeños, onion, cilantro, parsley, ginger, salt and pepper in a bowl and mix gently. Let stand for 30 minutes to blend flavors. Serve within a few hours. Serves eight.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Easy, Elegant Italian: Zucchini Basil Soup and Tuscan Bread Salad

Looking for an easy, elegant Italian meal to add to your repertoire? These delightful recipes from "Savor the Moment" will definitely fit the bill! Creamy, flavorful Zucchini Basil Soup (pg. 119) is delicious paired with Tuscan Bread Salad (pg. 129) made with ripe, juicy tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, fresh basil and cubes of toasted bread. This is actually a panzanella salad, an Italian dish originating in the regions of Tuscany, Umbria, Marche and Lazio that is very popular in the summer months. It includes sliced bread and fresh tomatoes, flavored with basil, olive oil, and vinegar. Ideally, the bread used should be day- to week-old, saltless Tuscan bread made in a wood oven. I used French bread from Publix and it turned out great!

This delicious duo makes for a great dinner for your family or for entertaining friends. Serve with a light, crisp Pinot Grigio and you have a fabulous, user friendly meal! I have included both recipes in this post in the hopes of inspiring some fabulous readers to purchase copies of "Savor the Moment" for you, your family and friends (well, at least for you)! You will not be disappointed! To purchase "Savor the Moment" please click here - Mangia!

Zucchini Basil Soup (pg. 119)
2 cups chopped onions
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
8 cups chicken broth
14 small zucchini, chopped (about 8 cups)
3 tablespoons uncooked rice
1/3 cup cream cheese
basil leaves
cream cheese
Saute the onions, garlic, basil and thyme in the butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat until the onions are tender. Add the chicken broth and zucchini.
Bring to a boil and stir in the rice. Simmer, covered, for 30 minutes or until the rice is tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in the cream cheese until melted.
Process in batches in a food processor for 30 seconds. Combine the batches in a soup tureen and season with salt. Garnish with a basil leaf and a dollop of cream cheese. Serves twelve.
**I halved the recipe and it turned out great!
**I used 1 teaspoon of chopped, fresh thyme instead of the dried
**Instead if transferring the soup to a food processor, use an immersion blender to conveniently puree in the pot you cooked it in - very convenient!

Tuscan Bread Salad (pg. 129)
2 large tomatoes, chopped
1 large yellow or red bell pepper, cut into 3/4 inch pieces
6 ounces mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/3 cup coarsely chopped basil
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar
3 garlic cloves, minced
salt and pepper to taste
4 ounces Italian or French bread
Combine the tomatoes, bell pepper, cheese and basil in a bowl. Whisk the olive oil, vinegar and garlic in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Add to the tomato mixture and mix well.
Cut the bread into 1-inch cubes. Spread on a baking sheet. Broil for 1 minute or just until the cubes begin to brown, stirring once. Add to the salad and mix gently. Spoon onto serving plates. Serves two.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

"Siete de Mayo" Party & Firecracker Chile Cheese Pie

Since "Cinco de Mayo" fell on Wednesday this year (not the most conducive day for celebrating), some friends of mine decided to throw a "Siete de Mayo" Party on Friday, May 7th. Spearheading the event was my friend Lyndsay Anderson, who recently moved here from Scotland. Lyndsay is a fellow food and wine fanatic and writes an amazing blog entitled "Tomato, Tomatoe" (you have to hear her say it with the wonderful Scottish accent to get the full effect). This fabulous and informative blog covers the latest culinary issues and trends here in the US from her unique and fresh "outsider's" perspective. Lyndsay also introduced me to Chef John Paul who did the Junior League Cooking Demonstration at Bloomingdales a few weeks ago, and she and I have had some fun over the past year trying to figure out the "wonderful world of blogging." Lyndsay, her boyfriend Damian, Chef John Paul and Nancy Dockerty (good friend and President-Elect of the Junior League) collaborated in planning the festivities as well as the delicious, mouth-watering menu.

The party was held in the courtyard of Lyndsay, Damian and Nancy's condo building, the perfect place for hosting a Pre-Summer bash (although that evening, it felt like Summer had already arrived)! For our contribution, Steve and I brought the Firecracker Chili Cheese Pie (pg. 42) from "Savor the Moment": a delicious concoction of crushed tortilla chips, cream cheese, green chilies, jalapeños, and Colby and Monterey Jack Cheeses that's baked in a springform pan and then topped with chopped olives, tomatoes and green onions. Nancy, a native Texan, served up the delicious Dockerty Family Queso Dip with tortilla chips and I have to say it was pretty darn addicting! For the main event, Pulled Pork Tacos were on the menu, accompanied by Chick Pea, Tomato and Cilantro Salad, Grilled Corn on the Cob with Chipotle Butter, Watermelon and Feta Salad with Fresh Mint, and all the fixings - Delicioso! DJ Damian was playing some great tunes and the Margaritas, Modelos, Coronas and wine were flowing. We even had our own frozen Margarita machine graciously provided by some party guests (thanks, Kaki & Phil!).

With fabulous food, drinks and friends, a great evening was had by all - even Nancy's dog, Hercules seemed to enjoy the fiesta. The smoky, delicious Pulled Pork Tacos were positively divine as were all the accompaniments. The Firecracker Chile Cheese Pie was also pretty well-received and since it was right next to the fabulous Dockerty Queso Dip, the fact anyone noticed it is very high praise! If you are looking for a festive, flavorful dish to bring to a party this summer, seriously consider this one (I've included the recipe below). I am already looking forward to a "Seis De Mayo" party next year - big thanks to our fabulous hosts for such a fun and delicious evening. I hope you enjoy the recipe, and be sure to check out my friend Lyndsay's fabulous blog, "Tomato, Tomatoe" - ¡Buen apetito!

Firecracker Chile Cheese Pie
1 cup crushed tortilla chips
3 tablespoons melted butter
16 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 eggs
1 (4-ounce) can chopped green chiles
2 fresh jalapeños, minced
4 ounces Colby Cheese, shredded
4 ounces Monterey Jack Cheese, shredded
1/4 cup sour cream
chopped green onions, chopped tomatoes and sliced black olives
Mix the crushed tortilla chips and melted butter in a bowl. Press over the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 15 minutes.
Beat the cream cheese and eggs in a mixing bowl. Mix in the green chilies, jalapeños, Colby Cheese and Monterey Jack Cheese. Pour over the baked layer. Bake at 325 degrees for exactly 30 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes.
Place on a serving plate. Loosen the side of the pan with a knife and remove. Spread the sour cream over the pie. Garnish with green onions, tomatoes and olives. Serve with additional chips. Serves eight to ten.


Saturday, May 8, 2010

Serious Summer Deliciousness: Grilled Swordfish with Tomato and Arugula Salsa & Frozen Lemon Mousse

With near 90 degree temperatures upon us here in South Florida, I've been in the mood lately for some summertime staples - fresh fish, zesty citrus, vibrant greens, and juicy tomatoes. While flipping through "Savor the Moment," to my delight, I came across two recipes that included all of these delicious, summery treats: Grilled Swordfish with Tomato and Arugula Salsa (pg. 182) and for dessert Frozen Lemon Mousse (pg. 246).

I must admit, however, swordfish is not first on my list of favorite fish - actually it probably doesn't even make the top five. With its heavier texture, I find it can sometimes be on the fishy end of the spectrum. But, in the spirit of the "Savor the Moment" Challenge, I was not going to be deterred by this potentially fishy foe! I marched into Captain Frank's Seafood in Boynton Beach and placed my order. What I was presented with was not exactly what I had expected: a beautiful, orangy-hued piece of fish, that didn't look anything like I remembered. Referred to as "pumpkin" swordfish, these particular fish apparently acquire an orange tinge to their flesh from feeding on large amounts of shrimp. It is preferable to the more common "white" swordfish and more difficult to find. It looked so great uncooked, I was excited to get it home and try it!

Once home, I seasoned and grilled the swordfish steaks and served them up on a bed of Cous Cous with Lemon, Garlic and Parsley Gremolota (the amazing Alex Guarnaschelli's recipe) topped with the Tomato and Arugula Salsa that had been chilling in the fridge. I am happy to report, the swordfish was succulent and delicious - much better than I remembered (thank goodness because it's a little on the pricey side!) It paired very nicely with the zesty flavors of the lemony, garlic cous cous and the tomatoes, capers and arugula in the salsa. I will definitely be making this dish again - it was delicious!

I served the dish with a 2007 Lail Blueprint Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley, a medium-bodied white wine crafted in a Sancerre style with a distinct California edge. The product of a single vineyard in St. Helena, this wine had lovely flavors of citrus, lemon cream and white pepper with a richness that nicely enhanced the flavors in the dish. The co-founder of Lail Vineyards, Robin Daniel Lail is a fourth generation Napa Valley vintner, whose family established Inglenook Vineyard Co. in 1879. Prior to Lail Vineyards, this member of California "wine royalty" also worked with Robert Mondavi and subsequently co-founded Dominus and Merryvale Vineyards in 1983. Pretty darn impressive if you ask me! For more on the fabulous Robin Daniel Lail and her eponymous winery check out my post later this week on!

After dinner I served up the Frozen Lemon Mousse (pg. 246) - doesn't that just sound like the perfect summer dessert? A blend of eggs, lemon juice, grated lemon zest and whipped cream (you do the whipping) it takes a little time to make but is definitely worth it! After chilling in the freezer for eight hours, I spooned the mousse into parfait glasses and garnished with fresh raspberries and mint as the cookbook suggested. It was refreshingly cool, light and creamy and the lovely lemon flavor was nicely enhanced by the bits of fresh lemon zest scattered throughout the mousse. This dessert can also be made a week in advance in case you know you'll be having guests over - gotta love that!

I look forward to making this delightful summer menu again in the very near future and I highly recommend trying some "pumpkin" swordfish if you have the chance. I have included the recipe for the Grilled Swordfish with Tomato and Arugula Salsa below. Let me know what you think - Enjoy!

Grilled Swordfish with Tomato and Arugula Salsa
Tomato and Arugula Salsa
1 pound plum tomatoes, seeded, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
3/4 cup chopped arugula
1 shallot, finely chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 1/2 teaspoons capers
salt and pepper to taste
4 or 5 (6 ounce) swordfish steaks
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
For the salsa: combine the tomatoes, arugula, shallot, olive oil, lemon juice, capers, salt and pepper in a bowl and mix well. Chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours.
For the swordfish: brush both sides of the steaks with the olive oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill over medium-high heat for 4 minutes on each side or until the fish flakes easily. Serve topped with the salsa. Serves four or five.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Some "Savor the Moment" Hospitality: A Dinner Guest and Tomato Sausage Penne

We were fortunate to have a guest over for dinner the other night. Our neighbor and dear friend, Jackson was out of town for the week and his brother, Jay, had driven down from Jacksonville to look after the family pet boxer, Clifford. Having met Jay only once before, Steve and I thought it would be nice to have him over to Chez Miskew for some good ol' "Savor the Moment" hospitality. Happily, he accepted our offer!

As a gal with two big, strapping guys to feed, I thought I should go with something on the heartier side. Pasta sounded like the perfect choice so I opted for the Tomato Sausage Penne (pg. 198) with Italian sausage, tomatoes, fresh basil and an ample dose of Parmesan cheese. The recipe calls for sweet Italian sausage, but I used half sweet and half hot (I like to spice it up a bit!) Also, I could not find stewed, chopped tomatoes so I used regular, canned diced tomatoes. Since stewed tomatoes have been previously cooked, usually with some herbs and spices, I increased the cooking time to give the sauce a chance to reduce a bit to thicken the consistency and improve the flavor. Luckily, this worked out just fine!

And what better to go with our dish than a Italian red wine? We opened a 2007 Aia Vecchia Lagone, a proprietary blend of 60% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc from Tuscany. Due to the nature of the blend, this wine falls under the "Super Tuscan" category, a term reserved for wines which are made incorporating international grape varietals that do not conform to the strict wine laws of the region. At under $20 a bottle, this is a Super Tuscan at a super price! This full-bodied red has flavors of plums, black cherry and spice with firm, leathery tannins. Although it went well with the Tomato Sausage Penne, it could definitely benefit from a few more years in the bottle.

It appeared I had two happy boys on my hands and I have to say, this dish is really tasty! Perfect for a dinner party or if you're having house guests, since it is just as delicious the next day. I've included the recipe here for you to enjoy with your fabulous dinner guests or family. Let me know what you think - cheers!

Tomato Sausage Penne
3 medium onions, thinly sliced
9 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 1/4 lbs. sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
2 cups dry white wine
3 (28-ounce) cans stewed chopped Italian tomatoes
3 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
oregano to taste
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 (16-ounce) packages penne
2 cups grated Parmesan cheese

Saute the onions and garlic in the butter and olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat until tender and golden brown. Add the sausage and cook until brown, stirring to crumble; drain.
Add the wine and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated. Stir in the undrained tomatoes. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add the cream. Simmer until slightly thickened. Stir in the basil, oregano and red pepper.
Cook the pasta al dente using the package directions; drain. Add to the sauce with the cheese; toss to mix well. Serve with additional cheese. Serves six to eight.
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