Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Fried Green Tomatoes with Homemade Garlic-Basil Mayonnaise

I'm not usually one to watch the same movie over and over again, but the movie Fried Green Tomatoes is a special exception.  I admit to being somewhat of a feminist and I love the strength and confidence of the women in this movie.  Fried Green Tomatoes is a movie about friendship, both old and new, and the importance and influence a good friendship can have on our lives. 
"I found out what the secret to life is: friends. Best Friends." - Ninny Threadgoode

One cannot watch the movie Fried Green Tomatoes without getting a craving for some.  With loads of green tomatoes in my garden, fried green tomatoes were an obvious choice.  When I went out to pick the tomatoes I noticed that my basil plant was growing out of control and needed a good trim.  After trimming the basil back I decided to make an Italian version of fried green tomatoes.  I added some chopped basil and Parmesan cheese to the panko mixture and then decided to make a homemade garlic-basil mayonnaise for dipping.  Every once in awhile I have a genius idea like that!

I fried ten thick slices of tomatoes until they were perfectly golden and placed them on a platter beside the homemade mayonnaise.  I nonchalantly picked one up, bit into it, and was completely amazed by how wonderful it was.  Perfectly crunchy, with loads of flavor from the basil and Parmesan, and also nice and meaty.  The thick slices of tomato really held up well to the frying.  These Italian-seasoned fried green tomatoes were perfect on their own, but were absolutely phenomenal once dipped in the homemade garlic-basil mayonnaise.  My Mom and I ate all ten slices with wild abandon.  After stuffing ourselves with fried green tomatoes we made a plan to stay out of the backyard.  It could be dangerous to the waistline.

"Oh, what I wouldn't give for a plate of fried green tomatoes like we used to have at the cafe. Ooh"- Ninny Threadgoode

  Fried Green Tomatoes
original recipe 
Serves 2-4, depending on appetite

2 medium-sized green tomatoes, cut thickly (about 5 slices per tomato)
About 1-1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 eggs, beaten
About 2 cups panko
1/2 cups Parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 cup chopped basil
salt and pepper to season
canola oil, for frying
cast iron skillet preferable

Place the flour, beaten egg, and panko in three separate trays for dipping/breading.  Heavily season the the flour, egg, and panko with salt and pepper.  Add the grated Parmesan cheese and the chopped basil to the panko and stir.  Dip each tomato slice into flour, then egg, then panko.  Place each coated slice on a baking tray and when each slice is breaded then place the entire baking tray in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.  (This is a tip I learned from Tyler Florence.  Anytime he adds a breading to something he allows it to "dry out" in the refrigerator.  This procedure helps the breading to adhere better once it hits the heat of the skillet. I use this tip all the time when breading.)  Fry up to 3 slices at a time on medium heat, remembering not to crowd the pan.  Each slice needs about 2-3 minutes per side.  Drained the fried green tomatoes on paper towels and allow to cool slightly before serving.  Sprinkle with additional basil and Parmesan prior to serving.

 Garlic-Basil Mayonnaise
Adapted from Farm to Fork by Emeril Lagasse
Makes 1-1/2 cups

1 large egg, at room temp
1 large egg yolk, at room temp
1-1/2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste
1/4 teaspoon pepper or cayenne pepper, or more to taste
1 cup canola oil
1/4 olive oil
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil

Add the egg, egg yolk, lemon juice, mustard garlic, salt and pepper to the bowl of a food processor or blender and blend for 1 minute until smooth, light yellow, and froth, about 1 minute.  While the processor/blender is still running, combine the canola oil and olive oil in a measuring cup with a pour spout, and working very slowly, add the oil to the processor in a thin, steady stream, processing until the oil is completely incorporated and a thick emulsion is formed (It is very important that the oil is added slowly, especially at the beginning; otherwise the mayonnaise may break).

Transfer the mayo to a nonreactive bowl, stir in the chopped basil, add more salt, pepper, and/or lemon juice to season.  Use immediately, or refrigerate in a nonreactive airtight container for up to a 1 day.

I am submitting this post to Food 'n Flix which is being hosted by Glennis at Can't Believe We Ate.
I am also submitting this to Michelle of Ms. enPlace for her Garden Variety Wednesday event.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Pea and Mint Soup

If you've been reading my ramblings for awhile then you probably know that I have a way of stockpiling food.  First there were the 27 boxes of pasta I found in my pantry.  Then there was the 7 or so bags of shrimp in my freezer.  Then, just last week, I cleaned the other freezer (we have two freezers because I'm a hoarder) and I found several bags of frozen peas.  And by several I mean more like 5 or 6. Who in the world stocks 5 or 6 bags of peas in their freezer?  Seriously! I don't even know if I can try to explain how or why I did that!

At any rate when soups, sammies and salad week came around at I Heart Cooking Clubs it was a real no brainer as to what I was going to make.  It was definitely going to be a recipe that allowed me to use up all those peas!  When I found Jamie's recipe for Pea and Mint Soup I was so excited to see that it called for 5-1/2 cups of peas....woohoo!  

So, if you're like me and you have a mega ton of peas in your freezer and an astounding amount of mint in your garden, then this recipe is for you!  Not only is it healthy, but we thought it was quite delicious and filling.  My non-soup loving husband even had two bowls.
 Pea and Mint Soup
Adapted from Jamie's Food Revolution by Jamie Oliver
Serves 6-8

2 carrots
2 celery stalks
2 medium onions
2 cloves of garlic
1-3/4 quarts chicken or vegetable broth
olive oil
5-1/2 cups frozen peas
small bunch of fresh mint
salt and freshly ground pepper
optional: 3/4 pound cooked ham or bacon

To make your soup: 
Peel and roughly slice the carrots, celery, onions, and garlic.  Put the broth in a saucepan and heat until boiling.  Put a large saucepan on medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Add all your chopped and sliced ingredients to the pan and mix together with a wooden spoon.  Cook for around 10-15 minutes with the lid askew, until the carrots have softened but are still holding their shape, and the onion is lightly golden.  Add the boiling broth to the vegetables.  Add your peas.  Give the soup a good stir and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, allow to simmer for 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, pick your mint leaves.

To serve your soup:
When the peas have softened, remove the pan from the heat.  Season with salt and pepper and add the mint leaves.  Using an immersion blender or liquidizer; pulse the soup until smooth.  If using ham chop it up and stir in.  Heat through before dividing between your serving bowls.  Really nice served with a toasted slice of ciabatta, drizzled with extra virgin oil.
Soups, Salads, and Sammies Week

For Souper Sundays @ Kahakai Kitchen

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Chinese Orange-Barbecue Cashew Chicken

Remember that elementary school game called What's Wrong With This Picture?  Everything always looked good but there was just that one thing out of place, or askew?  That's what I think of when I think of this recipe.  It looks good, but if you look closely you'll see what's wrong. 

See all that sauce just sitting on the bottom of the plate?  Not cool!  When I chose this recipe for our Look + Cook cook along this month I was thinking this would be an amazing recipe with a delicious sauce that coats the chicken.  It wasn't.  No matter what I did, I couldn't get the sauce to coat the chicken.  I cooked it a little longer than called for, didn't matter.  As a last attempt I even tried adding cornstarch to the sauce to help thicken it and that didn't work either.   

In addition we found the flavor to be a little strange.  It could just be personal taste.  We'd never had Orange-Barbecue Chicken before and maybe it's just not our thing, but something about it was just off. After many rounds of extremely tasty recipes from Rachel's Look + Cook book this is officially the first flop.  I guess it was bound to happen.  This was edible and we did eat it, but I wouldn't make it again. Oh well, live and learn, right?

Chinese Orange-Barbecue Cashew Chicken
Adapted from Rachel Ray's Look + Cook
Serves 4-6, easily

2 tablespoons canola/vegetable oil
1-1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs cut into bite-size pieces
salt and pepper
1 red bell pepper, chopped into 1/2-inch dice
1 onion, chopped into 1/2-inch dice
2-3 garlic cloves, finely chopped or grated
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
1/4 cup orange marmalade
1 tablespoon hot sauce
2 tablespoons tamari (aged soy sauce)
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup honey-roasted cashews
4 scallions, thinly sliced on the bias

Place a large skillet over high heat with about 1 tablespoons of the oil.  When the pan is very hot, add the meat, season with salt and pepper, and stir-fry until golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes.  Remove the meat from the pan and reserve on plate.  Add the remaining tablespoon of oil, then add the bell pepper, onion, and garlic to the skillet and stir-fry for 3 minutes, or until crisp-tender.  In a small bowl, stir together the hoisin sauce, orange marmalade, hot sauce, tamari, and stock.  Return the chicken to the skillet and pour in the sauce.  Add the cashews, toss to coat, and continue cooking until sauce thickens up, about 1 minute more.  Serve the stir-fry with brown rice and garnish with the scallions.

Next month's Look + Cook recipe, chosen by Brenda of Brenda's Canadian Kitchen, is Spinach and Artichoke Mac 'n Cheese.  Look for Brenda's version of Chinese Orange-Barbecue Cashew Chicken coming up in the next few days!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Jamie's Chicken and Zucchini Kebabs and a visit from the Fairy Hobmother!

I have a lot of exciting news to share today.  First I want to tell you that my meat and potatoes loving husband, who rarely likes green vegetables, is now a lover of zucchini!  This is exciting stuff for me because when I first met him the only veggies he would eat were corn, peas, green beans, and potatoes.  Now he eats lettuce, onions, and zucchini too! About a week ago he confessed to really enjoying zucchini and ever since then I've really been shoving it down his throat.  We had broiled zucchini with parmesan, fried zucchini with garlic, zucchini in our eggs, and now we're having zucchini with our chicken kebabs.  Gotta fit those green veggies in when you can!

These chicken kebabs are marinated in a flavorful and spicy seasoning made with cilantro, jalapeno pepper, garlic, spring onions, lemon juice, and some olive oil to create a paste.  Jamie's recipe called for cutting the zucchini into thin strips, blanching it, and spiraling it around the meat on the kebab.  I wasn't up for all that so I just cut the zucchini into cubes and threaded it on with the meat.  This was one of our favorite Jamie recipes so far.  We loved the marinade and will definitely make these again. Delicious!

In other good news, I'm thrilled to say that I was visited by the Fairy Hobmother after leaving a comment on my friend Brenda's site, Brenda's Canadian Kitchen.  The Fairy Hobmother granted me a magical gift to and I was very grateful.  Thank you Fairy Hobmother!!  The good news is...the same can happen to you!  All you need to do is leave a comment on this post and you could have a visit from the Fairy Hobmother too!
 Chicken and Zucchini Kebabs
Adapted from JamieOliver.Com
Makes 6-8 kebabs

1lb 2oz boneless chicken breasts 
 4 zucchini, sliced very thinly lengthways

For the marinade :
1 handful of fresh cilantro
3 cloves of garlic
 6 spring onions
 1 red chili (I used a red jalapeno pepper)
 zest and juice of 1 lemon
 sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
 olive oil 

Cut the chicken into 1 inch cubes and place in a bowl. Blanch the zucchini strips in salted boiling water for 30 seconds then drain and allow to cool. Blitz all the marinade ingredients (except the olive oil) in a food processor, then loosen to a paste with a little olive oil. Add the marinade to the chicken pieces and mix well. Allow to sit for up to an hour. Then weave the zucchini strips in between the chicken pieces on the  skewers. Grill for around 5 minutes, turning regularly, until cooked. Feel free to cut a piece open to check if they're done.

Theme: Potluck

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Frozen Treats Week #6: Banana Pudding Ice Cream Cupcakes

Those of you who've been following me for any length of time have probably heard me say that banana pudding is one of my favorite desserts. Banana pudding can be made all kinds of ways, but my all-time favorite recipe for banana pudding is Paula Deen's cool and creamy Not Yo' Mama's Banana Pudding. Paula's recipe is the ultimate and oh so delicious.  It is not, however, figure friendly!

When I saw this recipe for Banana Pudding Ice Cream Cupcakes while browsing through my Weight Watcher's books I jumped on it.  Now, I'll warn you.  This recipe contains store bought cookie wafers, Cool Whip Lite, and low-fat ice cream.  Some of you will not be able to overlook that.  However, some of you may feel like I do, which is to say that I can forgive these ingredients from time to time if it means I can indulge in one of my favorite desserts.

If you are bothered by the list of ingredients, you could certainly use a homemade cookie (shortbread or gingersnaps would be nice), real whipped cream, and/or regular or homemade ice cream.  Whichever route you chose, this recipe is fun and the cupcake portion helps to keep you in check so that you don't blow it.  The end result is a very creamy frozen version of banana pudding that is luscious and fulfilling.  I may even consider hiding them for myself as a mid-afternoon snack for the next several days.  Shhh!!
Banana Pudding Ice Cream Cupcakes
Adapted from Weight Watchers Annual Recipes 2005
WW Points+ 3
Serves 12

24 reduced-fat vanilla wafers, divided
2 ripe bananas
 1 tablespoon lemon juice
1-3/4 cups low-fat vanilla ice cream
6 ounces of Cool Whip Lite, thawed

Place 1 vanilla wafer in the bottom of 12 foil-lined muffin cups.

Process bananas and lemon juice in a blender or food processor until smooth.  Add all of the ice cream; pulse 4-5 times or just until blended.  Add half of the Cool Whip (reserving half for garnish), as well as 6 vanilla wafers, and pulse 2-3 times or just until blended.

Divide ice cream mixture evenly among muffin cups; cover with plastic wrap and freeze.

Crush remaining 6 vanilla wafers to make coarse crumbs. Top each ice cream cup evenly with remaining Cool Whip; sprinkle with about a tablespoon of the coarse wafer crumbs.  Serve immediately, or freeze for later.
Note: Once the cupcakes set up in the freezer they will be frozen solid.  They do benefit from a quick thaw on the counter or a quick 5 second zap in the microwave. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Poblano Rice

First there were the green mashed potatoes, otherwise known as Ina's Basil Potato Puree.  Now there's this glorious green rice, otherwise known as Poblano Rice.  I guess I'm really going green these days.

I got this terrific recipe from one of my favorite cooking shows, Marcela Valladolid's Mexican Made Easy. I don't get to watch the show often, but when I do I usually end up wanting to make every single thing she makes.  Marcela's recipes tend to be simple, straightforward, and relatively healthy at the same time.  A winning combination if you ask me.  I've tried many of her recipes over the past year and they've all been repeats.

In this recipe Marcela has you saute a combination of onion, poblano peppers, and garlic.  Once sauteed they are boiled briefly to soften and then blended with chicken broth to create a very flavorful green cooking liquid for the rice. There are two secrets to making this rice. The first is to toast the rice before adding the liquid. The second is to NOT STIR the rice as it is cooking! If you are worried about the rice sticking, go ahead and use a nonstick pan (just be careful not to scar your pan when you fluff the rice).

This rice is absolutely fantastic!  It's perfectly light and fluffy, has a hint of heat from the poblanos, and of course it's got the fun green color.  We made this early in the week and served it with some chicken enchiladas.  We loved it so much that we craved it again and decided to go ahead and have tacos just as an excuse to have the rice yet again.  If you really want to spice things up, use jalapenos instead of poblanos.  Either way, you really can't go wrong.  This really is a fantastic recipe that makes for a great side dish to all your Mexican-inspired dishes.

 Poblano Rice
Adapted from Marcela Valladolid @ Food Network
Serves 4-6

3 tablespoons vegetable/canola oil, divided
1/2 medium white onion, chopped
2 poblano chiles, stemmed, seeded and chopped
1or 2 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup chicken broth, plus more if needed
1 cup long grain rice

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a medium, heavy nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the poblano chiles and saute, about 8 minutes. Mix in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Season with the salt and pepper. Add 1 cup broth and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and let cool. 

Transfer the mixture to a blender and process until smooth, about 1 minute. Measure the liquid yield from the blender, adding more chicken broth if necessary to yield 2 total cups of poblano liquid. Adjust seasoning to taste.

Meanwhile, clean the skillet, place over medium heat and add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Fry the rice until slightly golden. Pour the poblano puree into the skillet and bring to a simmer. Turn down the heat to medium-low and cover tightly. Cook for 30 minutes, turn off the heat and let rest for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork before serving.

Here are some links to more recipes we enjoy from Marcela Valladolid:

Jalapeno Roasted Chicken - This is probably one of our favorite chicken dishes.  We love it so much that we had this for Thanksgiving last year.
Chile and Cheese Rice -  Would be perfect for all the fresh corn in season right now.  Perfect side dish to the Jalapeno Roasted Chicken.
Vanilla-Pineapple Water - A creamy, fruity, refreshing drink perfect for this time of year.
Easiest Ever Chicken Mole Enchiladas - A quick and tasty version of mole.
Creamy Poblano Pepper Strips (Rajas) - A creamy and cheese corn and poblano dish perfect for serving in a taco or with a taco.
Sauteed Potatoes and Chorizo -  Again, perfect for stuffing in a taco, serving on the side, or for breakfast.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Frozen Treats Week #5: One Minute Berry Ice Cream

My father-in-law walks around with little Hershey's miniatures in his t-shirt pocket, snacking on them leisurely throughout the day.  The man never puts on a pound.  Do you know people like that?

I'm not one of those people, never was.  My culinary adventures catch up with me from time to time.  It's a never ending cycle of putting on the weight and then taking it off.  Controlling my weight is my one true struggle in life.  Don't get me wrong.  I'm not complaining at all.  I do consider myself lucky.  A lot of people have bigger issues.  It's just a never ending cycle.

Back on the saddle again, I'm here with some One Minute Berry Ice Cream from Jamie Oliver.  Cool, fruity, creamy, and refreshing it's a tasty treat and also a bright spot in the dog days of summer.  The whole family enjoyed it and ate it up in no time, but we all agreed that it was certainly not ice cream.  I'm not slamming this dessert at all.  We all loved it.  It's just that I don't want to mislead anyone by thinking the texture is anything remotely close to ice cream.  I feel more comfortable calling it frozen yogurt.  That being said, I think it's a very tasty and sensible dessert that feels both decadent and satisfying.

One Minute Berry Ice Cream
Adapted from
Serves 4

• 1 x 500g pack of mixed frozen berries (I used frozen strawberries)
• 150g fresh blueberries (or strawberries in my case)
• 3–4 tablespoons runny honey
• 1 x 500g tub of natural yogurt
• a few sprigs of fresh mint
• optional: 4 small ice cream cornets

In advance: Put 4 small glasses in the freezer, or you can serve straight into ice cream cornets, if you prefer.When you're all set up and ready to go, get the glasses (if using) and the frozen berries out of the freezer. Divide the fresh blueberries between the glasses or cornets. Put the honey and yogurt and leaves from the sprigs of mint into the food processor and whiz, then add the frozen berries and whiz again until combined. Spoon the frozen yogurt over the fresh berries and serve. 

IHCC Theme: Time For Dessert!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Basil Potato Puree

You know those recipes you absolutely fall in love with?  The ones that surprise and delight? This is one of them!  Ina's recipe for Basil Potato Puree captivated me from the moment I saw the gorgeous green puree in her book.  

This is a side dish that completely steals the show with it's palate pleasing flavors.  The hints of basil, Parmesan cheese, and black pepper make this puree quite complex.  It's the kind of thing you keep going back for.  In fact, it's so pleasing you'll be trying to figure out what else you can serve it with and how often you can put it on your table.

Ina begins the recipe by blanching basil leaves, both to soften the leaves and retain their gorgeous green color.  She then warms a mixture of half & half and Parmesan cheese on the stove top until the cheese melts into the cream.  The blanched basil leaves are placed in a blender, along with the warmed cream and cheese mixture and blended to make a lovely green cream mixture for the potatoes.  Once the potatoes are cooked through, the basil cream is added and the whole thing is mixed with a handheld mixer right in the pan.  The result is a glorious side dish that steals the show. I highly recommend this side dish, especially if you have loads of basil in your garden!  Be sure to follow the recipe exactly as written, the measurements are absolutely perfect, right down to the addition of the salt and pepper.

Basil Potato Puree
Adapted from How Easy Is That? by Ina Garten
Serves 6
2 cups fresh basil leaves, lightly packed
2 pounds large Yukon Gold or white boiling potatoes
1 cup half-and-half
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil and fill a bowl with ice water. Add the basil leaves to the boiling water and cook for exactly 15 seconds. Remove the basil with a slotted spoon and immediately plunge the leaves into the ice water to set the bright green color. Drain and set aside.

Peel the potatoes and cut them in quarters. Add the potatoes to the same pot of boiling water and return to a boil. Cook the potatoes for 20 to 25 minutes, until very tender. Drain well, return to the saucepan, and steam over low heat until any remaining water evaporates.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, heat the half-and-half and Parmesan cheese until the cream simmers. Place the basil in a food processor fitted with the steel blade and puree. Add the hot cream mixture and process until smooth.

With a handheld mixer with the beater attachment, beat the hot potatoes in the pot until they are broken up. Slowly add the hot basil cream, the salt, and pepper and beat until smooth. If the potatoes need to be reheated, cover and cook gently over low heat for a few minutes. Pour into a serving bowl, sprinkle with extra parmesan cheese, season to taste, and serve hot.

I am submitting this to my friend Roz @ La Bella Vita for her Fresh Food Friday/Seasonal Saturday Event. 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Jamie Oliver's Fish and Chips

This week at I Heart Cooking Clubs we're celebrating Jamie's homeland by making British food, or Brit Bites.  With so many fun dishes to choose from I had a really hard time.  Then again, I have a really hard time making almost any decision lately.  So, I grilled my husband until he gave me an answer and let me just husband really loves it when I ask him tons of questions, especially if they're right in a row. Ha!

Me: Roast beef and Yorkshire pudding?
Tony: No.

Me: Bangers and Mash?
Tony: No.

Me: Really?  I thought you'd really go for Bangers and Mash?
Tony: No, I'm not in the mood for bangers today.

Me:  Okay, maybe you're hungry for breakfast.  How about crumpets?
Tony: No.

Me:  What about The Full Monty?
Tony:  I don't even know what you're saying to me right now.

Me: How about dessert?  Maybe an Eton Mess? 
Tony:  Why would I want to eat anything that's called a mess?

Me:  Okay, I'm totally giving up.  What about Fish and Chips?
Tony:  Oh yeah.  Yeah, let's definitely do fish and chips.

 Fish & Chips
Adapted from  Jamie Oliver via Food Network
Serves 4

For the chips:
3 3/4 pints (2 liters) vegetable oil (I used canola oil)
2 pounds floury potatoes, like russets, peeled and cut into large chips

For the Batter:
1 cup plain flour
1 cup beer
2 egg whites, whipped to soft peaks
4 (9 ounce/250 gram) fillets haddock or cod, skin on, and pin boned

Pour all the vegetable oil into a deep pan or deep fat fryer, and heat to 300F.  Blanch the cut potatoes in the oil until soft, but not colored, about 4 minutes.  Remove and drain.  Mix together the flour and the beer, then fold in the egg whites.  Turn up the heat of the oil to 350F.  Pat the fish off completely and make sure it's dry before dipping in the batter.  (This way you are sure the batter sticks to the fish).  Dip the fish in the batter and fry for a few minutes with the chips until golden brown.  Drain on kitchen paper and serve.

Notes/Results: Jamie's fish and chips is perfectly delicious with a beautiful beer batter that makes the fish all crispy and crunchy.  I think one of the tricks to this recipe is making the batter about 30 minutes ahead of time and allowing it to set and thicken in the fridge.  Also, it's pretty important to make sure that your fish is completely dry before dipping it in the batter or else all the batter will just slide right off the fish.  We really enjoyed this meal and the next time I make fish and chips I will definitely use this recipe again, maybe with a little Cajun seasoning added to the batter or a little Tabasco thrown in, just to spice things up a bit!

Theme: Brit Bites

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Cold Melon-Berry Soup

If you're like me, you simply cannot get enough of all those sweet juicy melons that are in season right now.  I have no problems eating melon as is, but this cold melon-berry soup is certainly a beautiful alternative.  Sweet, colorful, and inviting this soup would be wonderful served as part of a breakfast or brunch menu.  We absolutely loved it!

Cold Melon-Berry Soup
Adapted from Around My French Table
Serves 4

1 dead-ripe cantaloupe (about 2-1/2 pounds)
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1-1/2 - 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Pinch of sea salt
1/4 cup sweetish white wine, such as Muscat de Beaumes de Venise (optional)
About 20 small strawberries
4 mint sprigs

Cut the cantaloupe in half and scoop out the seeds.  Using a melon baller or a small spoon, cut balls from one of the melon halves.  Put them in a bowl, cover, and chill for at least 2 hours, or for up to 6 hours.

Meanwhile, peel the other half of the melon, cut it into chunks, and toss the chunks into a blender or food processor.  Process, scraping down the container often, until the melon is reduced to a juice.  Add the ginger, 1-1/2 tablespoons lime juice, and the salt.  Taste and, if you think it needs it, add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of lime juice.  Pour the soup into a pitcher and chill for at least 2 hours, or for up to 6 hours.

At serving time, divide the soup among four widemouthed glasses (or four small bowls) and top each portion with a tablespoon of wine, if you're using it.  Spoon in the melon balls (depending on the size of your glass and the size of the melon balls, you may have some left over; you want the fruit to come about halfway up the sides of the glass, so you have room to spoon out the fruit and the soup), top with the berries, and finish each with a spring of mint.
July's Recipes
I'm also linking this to Deb @ Kahakai Kitchen for her Souper Sundays roundup.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Food 'n Flix Roundup: Letters to Juliet

A romantic comedy with beautiful scenic views of the Italian countryside, Letters to Juliet, was my pick for July's Food 'n Flix event. It appears the movie left everyone craving sweet, light, refreshing dishes perfect for summer. 

Let's have dessert first, shall we?

 Elizabeth of The Law Student's Cookbook got swept up in the romance of the movie and made a beautiful and deep pink Strawberry-Buttermilk Gelato.   Elizabeth says, "Sophie enjoys gelato in the movie and I can't deny how jealous I was when watching. I'm not only jealous of the gelato, but I want to go to Italy so bad and enjoy all the food."    I'm right there with you, Elizabeth!

Heather of girlichef made a very inspiring Mixed Berry Gelato.  Heather says, "While there were many food inspirations for me in this film, such as homemade pasta and a perfect risotto and cheese...olive oil...bread...truffles...I chose to make gelato.  Inspired by the the scene in which Sophie and Charlie sit and eat gelato and find themselves getting along."   I have to say it sure would be hard to eat gelato and not get along, especially after eating Heather's version made with blueberries and strawberries.

 Next up is Deb of Kahakai Kitchen who was inspired to make two recipes to share.   First up is a wonderfully refreshing creamy lemon ice cream, Gelato al Limone, which looks dreamy and all...but

Deb's pièce de résistance is this sunny-hued Sgroppino, a tall glass of creamy lemony ice cream, Prosecco, and Limoncello.  Deb says, "The only thing more appealing than a big bowl of creamy gelato is combining it with prosecco and vodka (or limoncello in my case) into the best kind of adult "milkshake." Who knows......Charlie and Sophie probably would have warmed up to each other much quicker if they had shared a few sgroppinos....

Transitioning us from the dreamy world of ice cream we have Roz of La Bella Vita who made two versions of a Veronese specialty, Gnocchi con Zucchero e' Cannella.   The gnocchi can be served as a dessert option with butter, sugar, and cinnamon or as an entree option with the addition of Parmesan cheese.  Roz says, " set in Verona, Italy, a young American woman is inspired by the real-life activity of people writing letters to Juliet and inserting them into the walls of Juliet's courtyard.  'Secretaries of Juliet' reply to those who wrote the letters.   The story unfolds about the romantic lives of two women, one young and one in mid-life and how their endeavors play out in the hills of Italy. That last sentence sums up the movie perfectly, Roz.

Tina of Life in the Slow Lane at Squirrel Head Manor has a rather fun and comical approach to her recipe choice.   Tina says, "As Claire is searching for “her Lorenzo” one of the men she speaks with is quite taken  by her. He suggests, “…if you don’t find your Lorenzo, come back and let me cook you a fish dinner.” I thought that was pretty cool. An old Italian man still trying to put the moves on a woman. After watching the movie and discussing the meal, my man says to me, "'Let me cook YOU a fish dinner,"   and yeah....I was sold.  Tina's man cooked her Grilled Fish, Saffron Risotto, Roasted Asparagus with a little white wine on the side. I think Tina's man should be giving lessons.  

Glennis from Can't Believe We Ate made a beautiful plate of Fresh Off The Vine Tomatoes.  Glennis says, "Since this is a love story…and tomatoes were once known as “love apples…” my offering for this flick is a simple plate of fresh off the vine, sliced tomatoes, dressed with extra virgin olive oil and a chiffonade of just picked basil…"  I love the way you think, Glennis.

Here at Stirring the Pot, I said, "It soon becomes clear to Sophie that Victor's top priority is not Sophie, but his new restaurant.  Poor Victor doesn't even realize his ways.  He's so obsessed with food and everything regarding it that he doesn't even realize he's losing Sophie."  Victor's lack of attention to Sophie made me think about how we should all make more time for our loved ones so I made a super quick pasta dish, Fettucine Limone Parmeggiano.  The sauce is fragrant with lemon and Parmesan and can be made in the time it takes to boil the pasta.  

Thank you to all who participated and also thank you to Heather of girlichef for asking me to host this round of Food 'n Flix
 The upcoming flick for August is Fried Green Tomatoes and is being hosted by the lovely Glennis from  Can't Believe We Ate.  Fried Green Tomatoes is a classic and I know you will draw much inspiration from it. Head on over to check out the announcement!