Saturday, July 31, 2010

No Cook Meal: Carmine's Cold Italian Heroes and Spiced Melon Balls

Ever get one of those cravings that just won't go away and you have to satisfy it? Last week I was craving a Cold Italian Hero in the worse way and I simply had to have it. At the store I planned on just buying enough to make one or two sandwiches. Then it hit me....why not buy more fixings? It's the perfect no cook meal! These heroes were so tasty that we had no trouble eating them throughout the week. They were a delicious way to stay cool in the awful heat we were having.

Cold Italian Heroes
Adapted from Carmine's Family-Style Cookbook
Serves 4 very hungry people (could easily serve 8)
4 Crispy Hero Rolls, 6-8 inches long
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons dried oregano
salt and freshly ground black pepper
20 slices genoa salami
12 thin slices prosciutto
24 slices mortadella
16 slices provolone
2 large roasted red peppers, halved
4 cups finely shredded iceberg lettuce
12-16 large slices ripe tomato (about 4 tomatoes)
Slice the rolls in half lengthwise, without cutting all the way through. Press them open with your hands.

In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, oregano, and salt and pepper to taste.

Spoon the vinaigrette over both halves of each roll.

To assemble each sandwich, layer 5 slices of salami, 3 slices of prosciutto, 6 slices of mortadella, and 4 slices of provolone on one side of the roll. Top with half a roasted pepper, 1 cup of shredded lettuce, and 3-4 slices of tomato. Season the tomatoes with salt and pepper to taste. Fold the other side of the roll over the sandwich ingredients and press to close. Cut sandwich in half and serve.

Notes/Results: This is one serious and delicious sandwich and it certainly satisfied my craving! One half of the sandwich is plenty to satisfy even a hearty appetite. The first time around I followed the recipe and drizzled the dressing directly on the bread. I'm gonna have to say that isn't my favorite method. Not only did it make the bread soggy, but you couldn't really taste the dressing that way. I prefer drizzling the dressing directly on top instead. I definitely recommend this for a great, flavorful, hearty no cook meal!

I am submitting my Cold Italian Heroes to Deb @ Kahakai Kitchen for her weekly Souper Sundays roundup.
As a side dish to our Cold Italian Heroes I also served Mark Bittman's Spiced Melon Balls. Round and juicy pieces of cantaloupe tossed with lime juice and a sprinkling of salt, cayenne pepper and cilantro. A perfectly refreshing side dish with just a touch of heat!

Mark Bittman's Spiced Melon Balls for Raw Foods Week @ I Heart Cooking Clubs!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Vegan Eats: Jamaican-style Black Bean and Coconut Cornbread Bake

In my younger years, I was a very strict vegetarian. I read every ingredient list, drove people crazy with questions about food and was completely happy not eating any form of meat. I toyed with the idea of going vegan, but would always cave when it came to cheese. If I had ate more meals like this one it may have helped, but I still don't think I could've ever given up cheese!

This Jamaican-style Black Bean and Coconut Cornbread Bake is one delicious meal. Spicy, filling, fresh and flavorful it is seasoned with jerk seasoning and packed with black beans, diced tomatoes, green chiles, and corn. It is then topped with a cornbread topping made with coconut milk in place of the normal milk and eggs. I spiced mine up by adding some extra green chiles and it was a delicious, healthy and filling meal.

Jamaican-style Black Bean and Coconut Cornbread Bake
Adapted from Vegetarian Times May/June 2010 Issue
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for greasing pan
2 15-oz cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes with mild green chiles, juices included (see notes)
1-1/2 cups frozen yellow corn, thawed
1/2 teaspoon jerk seasoning, or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/8 teaspoons ground black pepper
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoon sugar
1-1/4 teaspoon baking powder
2/3 cup light coconut milk
Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly oil 8 inch-square baking dish with olive oil.

Stir together beans, tomatoes and juices, corn, jerk seasoning, 1/4 tsp. salt, and pepper in medium bowl. Adjust seasonings with more jerk seasoning, if desired. Spread in prepared baking dish.

Whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt in a separate bowl. Add coconut milk and 2 tablespoons oil, and stir until just combined-do not overmix. Spread batter over bean mixture with spatula. Bake, uncovered, 30 minutes, or until topping is lightly browned and toothpick inserted in center of topping comes out clean. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

: I made a few changes to this recipe. In place of the canned diced tomatoes I used 3 fresh tomatoes from my Mom's garden. To make my version a little more spicy I added in two 3 oz. cans of diced green chiles. I also nearly doubled the amount of the jerk seasoning. The magazine indicates that you can also sub one tablespoon of chili powder in place of the jerk seasoning. The bake turned out spicy, but not too spicy and was full of fresh flavor. The addition of cococnut milk to the cornbread batter resulted in a thicker, denser cornbread which paired well with the bake. I really enjoyed this meal and think it is something than everyone would enjoy, vegan or not!

Serves 4, per 1-cup serving: 346 calories; 13g protein; 9g total fat; 2g sat fat; 57g carb; 0mg chol; 914mg sod; 13g fiber; 4g sugars

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Emeril's Farm to Fork Recipe Roundup

Emeril Lagasse's new book, Farm to Fork, is all about supporting your local farms and farmer's markets. In the introduction, Emeril talks about how he remembers his Dad taking him to farmer's markets as a child and how he continued to do so throughout his life and career as a chef. The book is broken down into fifteen chapters: The Herb Garden; Milk, Eggs, and Cheese; Leafy Greens; The Three Sisters: Corn, Beans, and Squash; Nightshades; Berries, Figs and Melons; The Orchard; Cole Crops: Broccoli, Cabbage, and Cauliflower; Thistles, Stalks and Pods; Roots, Shoots, Tubers, and Bulbs; Winter Fruits; From the Mill; Fresh Off The Dock; Out on the Range; and finally Home Economics: Preserving the Harvest.

Farm to Fork is a gorgeous new book and I love the way it is organized. The very first recipe that really got it's hooks into me was from the Home Economics chapter, Emeril's Peach Freezer Jam. I love, love, love peaches and I couldn't wait to make this one. I made a special trip to the Farmer's Market to get those delicious fresh Georgia Peaches that are brought in each weekend.

The peach freezer jam was flavored with almond extract and vanilla bean and I love that you can see all those gorgeous flecks of vanilla bean running through the jam. The peach jam was delicious on a homemade biscuit and I can't wait to try it over ice cream, pancakes, or anything else for that matter. The recipe made 8 half-pint jars which I will be really happy to have this winter.

For my Dad, who loves hot sauce, I made Emeril's Homemade Hot Sauce, also from the Home Economics chapter. I used a mix of Fresno chiles, Jalapenos and Serrano peppers all grown from my Mom's garden. The chiles are cooked until they blister or blacken and then mixed with garlic, thinly sliced onions, carrots, cilantro and white vinegar. The final product was not a very appealing color, BUT man oh man was it hot! My Dad loved it!

As an appetizer for our Sunday Dinner, I made Emeril's Garden Celery with Homemade Pimento Cheese, from the Thistles, Stalks and Pods Chapter. Holy cow was this stuff good! I think it is my favorite recipe for pimento cheese ever! Sharp cheddar cheese is grated and allowed to come to room temperature. Homemade mayo, minced roasted red pepper, grated red onion, cayenne pepper, and Louisiana hot sauce are mixed into the cheese to create the tastiest cheese dip ever. Nobody wanted to quit eating it. It had a wonderful spicy flavor and paired well with both the celery and crackers. This is going to be my new go-to recipe. I highly recommend it and will list the recipe at the bottom of this post.

Also from the Thistles, Stalks and Pods Chapter, I made Emeril's Rhubarb Strawberry Crisp. The crisp was fragrant with cinnamon and nutmeg and smelled heavenly while baking. It was the perfect dessert to celebrate fresh summer produce and everyone loved it.

With chives from my garden I made Emeril's Chive Oil. This was my first attempt at making any flavored oil and it was a very sensory experience. The scent of chives and the gorgeous green color of the oil....who knew making herb oils was so much fun?

From the Milk, Eggs and Cheese Chapter, I made Emeril's Shirred Eggs. A slice of ham is placed inside a ramekin, topped with two eggs and baked for ten minutes. The eggs are then sprinkled with swiss cheese and herbs and baked again until the desired doneness. I really like that the ramekin remains hot, which keeps the eggs hot while serving. This would be a great breakfast/brunch to serve to company.

I'm not a fan of runny eggs, so I baked mine until the yolks were cooked through. I enjoyed my shirred eggs with a drizzle of the chive oil. Delicious!

This is a wonderful book with lots of great recipes highlighting the use of local and fresh produce.

Recipes still bookmarked are:
Fresh Ricotta
Spiced Zucchini Bread
Watermelon Limeade
Spiced Blackberry Soup with Caramelized Peaches and Candied Almonds
Curry-Scented Roasted Cauliflower
Orange Curd
Fried Chicken and Buttermilk Waffles with Black Pepper Maple Syrup and Whipped Vanilla Butter
..........and Homemade Mustard

If you like cheese at all, please make this Pimento Cheese. Enjoy it with veggies and crackers, make a sandwich with it, or top a burger with it. It is heavenly!!

Garden Celery with Homemade Pimento Cheese
Makes about 1-1/2 cups pimento cheese
6 appetizer servings (can be doubled easily)
8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated, at room temp (about 2 cups)
1/2 cup Emeril's Homemade Mayo (use any mayo)
1/2 cup minced roasted red bell pepper (about 1 red bell pepper, roasted, peeled, seeded, and minced)
2 teaspoons grated red onion
1/4 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt or to taste (be careful not to add too much salt)
1/4 teaspoon Louisiana hot sauce (more or less to taste)
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
6 celery stalks, ends trimmed and any fibrous strings removed, cut into thin batons for dipping, chilled

Combine all the ingredients except the celery in a medium bowl, and stir to blend well. Refrigerate until slightly chilled. (The pimento cheese can be refrigerated for up to 2 days; allow it to warm up slightly before serving).

Serve the pimento cheese in small bowls, garnished with the celery batons for dipping.

Note: Never eat pimento cheese while it is cold!! It is no good when it still has a chill to it.

I am submitting this to my friend girlichef who is a co-host for the wonderful Two for Tuesdays event.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Popsicle of the Week: Southern Sweet Tea

One of my favorite summertime indulgences is drinking Sweet Tea. I love it! I like my sweet tea extra sweet with lots of ice so that it is super duper cold and refreshing. I also like to toss in some fruits for flavor, peaches and raspberries are always a favorite. While drinking a glass of ice cold sweet tea, I thought "Why not turn my favorite summertime drink into a popsicle"?

I have to admit, the idea did spring from reading one of my popsicle books where they poured sweet tea into popsicle molds, adding a peach slice and a sprig of mint. The pops looked very pretty with the mint leaf and slice of peach, but I wanted a pop that was smooth in consistency, without interference. I decided to add a can of peach nectar to my favorite sweet tea recipe.

Sweet Tea Pops with Peach Nectar
*Use any sweet tea recipe you like. This one is my favorite.
4 large, family-size tea bags (I use Luzianne, the best for ice teas)
16 cups water
1-1/2 cups sugar
*1 can peach nectar, more or less to taste
Fill a tea kettle or saucepan with enough water to completely cover the tea bags, about 2 cups. Bring to a boil and remove from the heat. Let the tea stand for 10 minutes. Put the sugar into a gallon pitcher and add 1 cup of cold water. Stir to mix slightly. Pour the hot tea into the sugar mixture and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Stir in the remaining 13 cups of cold water to fill the pitcher. Add in one can of peach nectar, more or less to taste.

This was one of the easiest popsicles I've made so far. We already had the sweet tea in the fridge and I just poured it into the Zoku Quick Pop Maker. Sweet Tea Popsicles in seven minutes! One thing I do want to say is that you'll want your sweet tea to be pretty strong so that the flavor comes through when the pops freeze. The popsicles were really tasty and sweet, but I didn't notice very much peach flavor at all. I think next time I'll add in 1-1/2 cans of peach nectar so that the peach flavor comes through. Feel free to try it adding fruit to the molds or any other flavors that you like with your tea!

NOTE: Popsicle of the Week has been a fun feature I've shared since late April of this year. We have a couple of weeks before the kids go back to school and I hope to squeeze in 3 more weeks of popsicles before ending the Popsicle of the Week feature.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Trisha Yearwood Roundup: Slow-Cooker Pork Loin, Apple Dumplings, and Spicy Edamame Dip

Trisha Yearwood's Slow-Cooker Pork Loin is one of my new favorite recipes. I've made it three times in the past month. Do you use your crockpot in the summertime? If not, it's a great way to escape the heat in your kitchen. You can have all of the ingredients in the crockpot in less than ten minutes.

The first two times I made this recipe I used a pork tenderloin, which resulted in meltingly tender pork that simply fell apart. The third time I made this I used a 3.5 pound pork loin(pictured above) and the meat was good, but not as good as using the pork tenderloin. A gravy is made from the cooking liquid, which consists of chicken broth, lemon juice and soy sauce and it is mild and delicious. This pork is great served with mashed potatoes and green beans.
NOTE: I recommend making this recipe with pork tenderloin. The meat is noticeably more tender, succulent and delicious. Using two pork tenderloins would yield just the right amount!
Slow-Cooker Pork Loin *AKA* The Blue Plate Special
Recipe adapted from Home Cooking with Trisha Yearwood
1 2-1/2 to 3 pound pork loin
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon cooking oil
2 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 teaspoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons cornstarch
salt and pepper
Trim the visible fat from the loin. If necessary, cut the roast to fit into a 31/2, 4-, or 5-quart crockpot. In a small bowl, combine the garlic powder, ginger, thyme, and pepper. Rub the spice mixture over the entire surface of the loin. In a large skillet, heat the oil and brown the loin slowly on all sides. Drain off the fat. Transfer the loin to the crockpot. Combine the chicken broth, lemon juice, and soy sauce; pour over the loin. Cover and cook on a low heat setting for 8-10 hours or on a high-heat setting for 4-5 hours. When the roast is done, transfer the meat to a serving platter and cover to keep it warm. To make the gravy, pour the juices from the crockpot into a glass measuring cup. Skim off the fat. Measure 2 cups of liquid, adding water to the juices, if necessary to make 2 cups. Transfer the juices to a saucepan, reserving 1/2 cup. Stir the cornstarch into the reserved 1/2 cup of juice until dissolved, then stir into the juices in the saucepan. Heat, stirring frequently, until the gravy is thickened and bubbly, 5-7 minutes. Cook and stir 2 minutes more. Season the gravy to taste with salt and pepper. Slice the roast and serve it with the gravy.

Apple Pie for breakfast anyone? Trisha's apple dumplings will make your entire house smell like apple pie. The smell is intoxicating!

Slices of Granny Smith apple are cut vertically into 8 slices each and a buttermilk biscuit is wrapped around each slice of apple. The biscuits and apples are covered with a hot liquid sugar mixture.

Then the whole thing is doused with cinnamon and sugar and popped into the oven where the magic happens.

It looks like this when you pull it out of the oven and the smell is out of this world amazing!

The biscuits are fluffy and inviting, the apple is tender and warm, the hot liquid sugar mixture turns into a thick sauce. A perfect way to wake up the family!! You can find the recipe on girlichef's site HERE.

The last thing I made from Trisha's book was this Spicy Edamame Dip. I went to four stores looking for edamame and finally found them at Walmart. Trisha's Edamame Dip is made with shelled edamame, lots of garlic, cayenne pepper, cumin, olive oil, lime juice and cilantro.

I served mine with extra cayenne pepper on top in order to bring on the heat! The dip was creamy, spicy and delicious and is actually one of the healthier recipes in her book. We really enjoyed it!!

Of course, I have to leave you with one of my favorite Trisha Yearwood songs.
She's in Love with the Boy............

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Chickpea Sliders

Mark Bittman says "If you like hummus, this is your kind of burger." Well Mark, I happen to love hummus. I crave it. I need it. I simply have to have it on a regular basis. When my friend girlichef made these burgers I knew it was a recipe that I had to try.

The chickpea burgers can be made in about 20 minutes and make a great, quick, and economical lunch or dinner. You'll need no more than a can of chickpeas, some spices, a little onion, some flour and an egg. That's it!

Chickpea Burgers (or sliders)
Adapted from Kitchen Express by Mark Bittman
Drain a can of chickpeas and put them in a food processor with a chopped shallot or some onion, a bit of oregano, paprika, salt and an egg. Pulse the mixutre until it's slightly grainy but even in consistency. Add enough flour-about a quarter cup-so you can form the mixture into flat burger patties. Sear them in olive oil until golden, about four minutes per side. Serve on good whole grain bread or a bun with tahini (optional), greens, and a squeeze of lemon juice.

I do like to make my own bread, but in a pinch these Wheat Slider buns from Pepperidge Farm are a great store-bought product. (Note: I didn't receive them for free, we just happen to like them).

: The chickpea burgers were slightly crispy on the outside and smooth on the inside. The flavor was a little mild so next time I will probably add in some garlic and quite possibly some curry power or cumin. I garnished mine with a drizzling of tahini, diced red onion, green leaf lettuce and a good squeeze of lemon. The chickpea patties would even be good on their own, without the bun as part of a salad or even with veggies on the side. I really like that this is a simple meal that can be made with the most basic pantry items. I will definitely make this one again, tweaking the recipe with new spices and condiments.

I am submitting this recipe to I Heart Cooking Clubs for this week's Potluck theme.

I am also submitting this to my friend Deb of Kahakai Kitchen for her Souper Sundays roundup.

Hope you all are enjoying your summer! It's going by fast. My daughter, who is going into the 4th grade, just received her school supply list and classroom instructions in the mail today. School will be back in session in about 3 weeks!
Soak up the sunshine!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Michael Symon's Spicy Stuffed Peppers and Tour of Lexington Farmer's Market

My first Michael Symon recipe is inspired from a recent trip to the Lexington Farmer's Market.

Homegrown local banana peppers. Kentucky Proud Vito's Sausage, Robust (spicy) version. A little of Mom's homemade Tomato sauce, made with tomatoes grown in the backyard and you're all set!! A perfectly tasty and local appetizer or lunch!

Spicy Stuffed Peppers
Adapted from Michael Symon's Live to Cook
Serves 4-8
8 Hungarian hot peppers
1-1/2 pounds Pork Sausage or Italian Sausage
2 cups Yia Yia's Sunday sauce or jarred tomato sauce
8 fresh basil leaves (I left these out as they were already in mom's tomato sauce)

Preheat the oven to 375F. Light coals in a charcoal grill for a medium-hot fire. Butter an 8x11 inch baking dish.

Cut the tops off of the peppers and spoon out any seeds. Divide the sausage into 8 equal portions and spoon it into the peppers to fill them. (I decided to cut my peppers in half horizontally for presentation).

Pour the sauce into the prepared baking dish.

Grill the peppers to char them on the outside, about 2 minutes per side. Remove them from the grill and lay the peppers on top of the sauce. Bake for 10 minutes or until the sausage reaches an internal temperature of 150F. Divide among plates, spoon some tomato sauce on top, and garnish each with a basil leaf.

Notes/Results: My husband and I had a version of these while on our trip up to Ohio and we wanted to recreate them at home. We had them as a light lunch after our trip to the Farmer's Market and we really loved them. I chose to grill the peppers inside on my grill pan and it worked well. I also chose to halve the peppers horizontally for presentation. This has been one of our favorite recipes in the past couple of weeks and we will be having them often, especially with the peppers and sausage from the Farmer's Market!

Here is a quick tour of the Lexington Farmer's Market(my favorite place to be on a Saturday morning)!

View from the parking garage.

New Pavillion that was built this past year, complete with ceiling fans. The shade from the pavillion and breeze from the fans is so wonderful on a hot morning.

This year at the Farmer's Market there are a lot of new food vendors and this vendor, Hard Wood Pizza Company, selling wood-fired pizzas is my absolute favorite! My Mom and I go absolutely ga-ga over their pizzas. They feature fresh ingredients sourced directly from the Farmer's Market and the menu changes weekly. We loved their Greek pizza with feta cheese, but we love their Vito's sausage pizza just a little bit more;-)

One of the best pizzas I've ever had. Crispy thin crust, perfectly flavored pizza sauce, lots of cheesy goodness and delicious homemade sausage. We can't get enough of it!

My mom likes this booth, the Cookin' Up Kentucky booth. They have some delicious breakfast and lunch dishes every week. Cookin' Up Kentucky's booth specializes in not only local food but also southern food. You'll find lots of fried green tomatoes at this booth! You can always count on that!

On this particular day, they were serving up burgers with fried green tomatoes and aged cheddar. Sounds like a great idea to me!!

Another new vendor is Le Petit Creperie. They make the crepes to order and the line becomes quite long, but it's worth it. They have both sweet and savory options.

My favorite filling is the Dad's Favorite Swiss Cheese Spread (much like pimento cheese) with tomato and spinach. Absolute cheesy heaven!

I buy a lot of my beef from Triple J, located right in my hometown city, Georgetown, KY. I like that I can talk to the owners and order specialty cuts like bone-in ribeye and tri tip. I like it even better to know where my beef is coming from.

See all those lovely boxes that say Georgia Peaches??? Gotta love those fresh, ripe and juicy peaches that they truck in from Georgia.

The intoxicating smell of peaches strikes you when you're walking through the market. I can never resist them!

San Marzano tomatoes in Kentucky? Can it be so?

I'm submitting this post to Two for Tuesday Blog Hop Carnival, hosted by one of my pals, girlichef.