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Archive for June, 2013|Monthly archive page

Bright, Refreshing Dish in the Dog Days of Summer – Panzanella

In Do-it-Yourself on June 29, 2013 at 2:42 pm


In the dog days of hot, humid, but gorgeously sunny weather in Georgia – I tend to want cold flavorful dishes and foods that don’t need a lot of time in a hot sweltering kitchen.I had a lot of bright garden veggies and herbs, and unfortunately, a crusty baguette bought for a cheese party that had morphed into a rock hard baton worthy of doing some major organ damage if I ever decided to use that thing as a weapon.

I was hot and hungry, so I made some Panzanella – a Tuscan provencial summer dish that makes use of those once-crackling pieces of chewy bread, and your summer bounty of colorful and water-rich produce (you may have noticed a trend in my recent posts of summer dishes because it’s just too hot lately – Garden Squash and Green Tomato Bake and Vietnamese Spring Rolls).

Simply dice up tomatoes, cucumbers (cut out the seeds), and chop some herbs and the stale bread you have on hand. Mix with extra virgin olive and season with kosher salt and cracked pepper, and minced garlic (or garlic powder may work). You can add yellow bell peppers or other veggies for additional crunch and color, and even red wine vinegar if you have any, but the tomatoes I had provided enough tartness, so I didn’t add any. Grate some white cheese of your preference: Pecorino, Romano, Parmigiano- Reggiano, Gruyere, etc.

Combine – you can even be a little heavy handed with your spoon (or bare hand) to crush some of the tomatoes. Let sit for about 30 minutes.

Between the juices and oil, the bread will soak up all the flavors and juices – which makes this a satisfying meal on a hot day. For an all encompassing meal, you can put in shrimp or chicken, or lentils/beans if you’re vegetarian. Deliziosa!

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Garden Squash and Green Tomato Bake

In Do-it-Yourself on June 16, 2013 at 9:50 pm

For tonight’s dinner, I made a veggie side dish using a beautiful yellow squash, a green tomato, a few grape tomatoes, and herbs straight from my garden!

I sliced the squash and veggie into discs and chopped up the herbs (I had basil, marjoram, oregano, thyme, flat-leaf parsley, and small chives in my garden so I just picked up a few sprigs each), and preheated my oven to approximately 325, but I think 350 degrees F would be fine.

In another small bowl, I crumbled up some crackers and heel-ends of bread. In a shallow baking pan, I placed a layer of crumbs down and a layer of veggie disks. I then seasoned disks with kosher salt, pepper, and sprinkled with garlic powder (you can use fresh chopped garlic if you’d like), and some of the chopped herbs. Some olive oil was drizzled after arranging a layer.

I had a big block of aged Vermont white cheddar, so I shaved some of the cheese and placed it on the disks as well. I kept alternating layers of squash disks, herbs, crumbs, cheese, and tomato disks, crumbs, cheese and drizzling olive oil until finished and put the few ripe grape tomatoes I had on top. I placed my baking dish into the oven for about 25 minutes. The cheese had bubbled up.

Without the standard butter and milk (extra fat and sometimes squishy gloppiness) that casseroles usually have, I could still taste the squash and the sweet-tart flavor of green tomatoes, yet they still had some bite to it; the herbs and bit of cheese just brought out the flavors. I will definitely make this again!

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Make this Gorgeous, Easy, and Light Soup: White Turnip Soup

In Do-it-Yourself, Gluten Free on June 8, 2013 at 1:46 pm

This gorgeous and nutrient-packed White Turnip Soup was shared by my long-time pal, KC Scott, who formerly worked as a chef at the Ritz Carlton. Her 8-year-old daughter dubbed this Turnip Soup “divine.”

A lot of small, white turnips with full greens are available in supermarkets and farmers markets right now, but you can also make this soup out of leeks.


White Turnips with Greens

White Turnips with Greens

White Turnip Soup

Chop up some onions, shallots and garlic and sautee in either butter or olive oil (or use a combination of 1/2 butter and 1/2 olive oil).

She then whisked some chicken stock together (4-6 cups) using Better than Bouillon brand with water, but you can use other kind of pre-made chicken stock, and small-diced white turnips. Simmer this mixture for 8 minutes then add the julienned turnip greens for a quick minute or two.

If using chicken stock (and/or the butter) that already has sodium/salt in it, this recipe may not need any additional salt to season, but if using low-sodium, sodium-free stock, or unsalted butter, you can add some kosher or sea salt to taste. Use gluten-free stock or homemade stock, if you have gluten intolerance, or replace with vegetable stock if you’re vegetarian/vegan.

This soup can be paired with some crusty baguettes and cheese, Bruschetta, crudites, or anything else you’d like on the side.

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Image Credit (Soup): KC Scott
Image Credit (Turnips): Only Foods.net

Great Summer Meals: Vietnamese Spring Rolls

In Do-it-Yourself, Gluten Free on June 8, 2013 at 12:34 pm

With the summer heat already in the south and soon coming in other areas, afriend of mine was asking about light, easy to make meals that aren’t too heavy or heat up the kitchen a lot.

Vietnamese spring rolls are some of the best meals I’ve ever eaten on a hot day. They’re fun to make with people and children tend to like them too! They’re also gluten free. You can round out the meal with lots of diced fresh fruit. You can even make a yogurt-honey dipping sauce for your fruits as well. These spring rolls make for a great picnic meal as well.

This comprehensive video shows step by step how to prepare Vietnamese spring rolls and shows how to roll fresh spring rolls in 2 different ways. You can buy Vietnamese Rice Paper in any Asian grocery store – there are usually small Asian stores, if not big supermarkets in many cities.

Though pork is optional, I’ve made these spring rolls with shrimp and/or with grilled fish before too, it’s delicious! You can also add Sriracha or various hot sauces to your dipping sauce. If you have wheat or gluten issues, make sure to check the label on the Hoisin sauce to make sure it’s gluten-free.


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Photo image credit: online image

Foodie Flick to watch: Jiro Dreams of Sushi

In Musings on June 2, 2013 at 8:39 pm

Jiro Dreams of SushiFoodie Flick to watch: Jiro Dreams of Sushi

This is a beautiful documentary of a famous Sushi chef, Jiro Ono, who at the time of the documentary was 85 years old and a grandmaster of making sushi.

His passion for his craft and attention to detail is compared to a maestro of a symphony. Along with the the artistic cinematography of this documentary and classical melodies accompanying the film, the documentary takes you into the life of a dedicated restaurant owner in Tokyo – from choosing the best fish and seafood and partnering with great vendors, to training his sons and staff, to good ecological and sustainable business sense and practices.

The sushi featured is artwork in itself – the care put into making sushi is fully shown in footage as you immerse yourself into the components and nuances of excellent sushi. The training and philosophy has subtle Buddhist undertones that are worth taking as truisms for your own journey in life. I thoroughly loved watching Jiro Dreams of Sushi on Netflix – I hope you do too!


photo credit: Netflix

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