Sunday, May 28, 2023

Summer of Salads #1: Ina Garten's Greek Orzo Salad


Welcome to the Summer of Salads, where I will be featuring a seasonal, fresh, and beautiful salad every week for the next 12 weeks of summer! I absolutely love salads and find myself longing to make all the bright, colorful, beautifully arranged salads that jump out at me on my cookbook pages. I write them down on my to-do list and then I feed myself a variety of excuses about why I can't make them. 

The top excuse being that we all know fresh summer produce makes for the very best salads! Especially when you can pluck fresh lettuces, tomatoes, and herbs from your very own backyard!

The second excuse is - arranging a beautiful salad takes work and can be rather fussy. You have to artfully arrange your produce and you want it all to be picture perfect and perfectly ripe at the same time, which takes some work and planning, and I am not really a planner. In fact, my mom used to say that I liked to fly by the seat of my pants. She wasn't wrong, but salad making requires planning and procuring or harvesting certain ingredients days in advance to ensure proper ripeness.

So while normal people have been planning their summer vacations, I have been planning my Summer of Salads because the produce is about to be thriving and I have plenty of time to craft up some salad beauties because I have the summer off!

While I am waiting for my backyard garden to produce its bounty, I'm starting off with a version of a salad that we all know and love well, Ina's Greek Orzo Salad! We have likely all had a version of this salad featuring orzo, greens, veggies, feta and a zingy vinaigrette. In fact, there is a version of this in almost every deli across the country and for good's a delicious staple!

This version of Greek Orzo Salad DOES NOT have tomatoes (which is perfect, because they're not ready just yet)! However, this version does have chickpeas, olives, feta, lemon, arugula, dill, lemon, red pepper and capers - all which you can find pretty much any time of year, so there are just no excuses not to make this staple year-round!

 Greek Orzo Salad

Adapted from Go-To Dinners

By Ina Garten

Serves 6

1 cup orzo (about 8 ounces)

salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus extra for serving (2 lemons)

1/2 cup good olive oil

1 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1/2 cup (1'4") diced red bell pepper

1/2 cup (1/4") diced red onion

3 tablespoons capers in brine, drained

4 ounces Greek feta, 1/2" diced (not crumbled)

1/2 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and halved lengthwise 

2 cups baby arugula

1/2 lemon, thinly sliced, for serving

Bring 6 cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan and add the orzo and 1 tablespoon salt. Return the water to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes, until the orzo is al dente. Drain and transfer to a large bowl.

Meanwhile, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon black pepper in a 1-cup glass measuring cup. Pour the vinaigrette over the warm pasta and stir well. Add the chickpeas, bell pepper, onion capers, dill, feta, and olives and combine carefully.

Just before serving, stir in the arugula, add some sliced lemon, a squeeze of lemon juice, and taste for seasonings. Serve warm or at room temperature. 

Sunday, May 21, 2023

Pepin's Salisbury Steaks with Vegetable Sauce

 Years ago my son told me, "food is all about the sauce." Of course, food to him at the time was chicken nuggets and he was all about dipping them in some ranch.

He wasn't wrong. Most of the time food is, in fact, all about the sauce. Take Pepin's Salisbury Steaks with Vegetable Sauce. It really does become all about the vegetable sauce, which is rather unique because most Salisbury Steaks are covered in a traditional brown gravy. Instead, Pepin likes to kick it up a notch by making a vegetable sauce with carrots, onion, soy sauce, tomato paste, water and Tabasco sauce. It is a lightly flavored tomato sauce that is very veggie-forward. The carrot is prominent and lends a fresh flavor to the Salisbury Steaks.

It doesn't stop there. This is not just a ground beef patty. These Salisbury Steaks are packed with flavor: chopped onions, chopped celery, garlic, eggs, fresh breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, and two whole cups of chopped apple! Who would ever think of putting apple in Salisbury Steak, but it works! The apple kind of melts into the Salisbury Steak delivering a subtle sweetness that pairs well with the carrot vegetable sauce. 

We really enjoyed this unique twist on the traditional Salisbury Steak. It was a lighter, more veggie-forward, fresher tasting version and I would recommend it if you were in the market for a recipe such as this. I have yet to try it, but Pepin says the leftover Salisbury Steaks make very good sandwiches the next day.


 Salisbury Steaks with Vegetable Sauce

Adapted from Essential Pepin

by Jacques Pepin

Serves 6


3 tablespoons canola oil

1-1/2 cups chopped onions

1-1/2 cups minced celery

2 apples, such as Rome Beauty or McIntosh (about 1 pound)

1-1/2 pounds ground beef

2 large eggs

2-3 garlic cloves, crushed and finely chopped (1 teaspoon)

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon salt and black pepper

3 slices firm white bread, processed to crumbs in a food processor (1-1/2 cups)


1 cup peeled, coarsely chopped carrots

1 cup coarsely chopped onion

2 cups water

1 tablespoon dark soy sauce

 1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons tomato puree

1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

For The Steaks: Preheat oven to 400F. Heat the oil in a large saucepan. When it is hot, add the onions and celery and cook over medium heat for 4 to 5 minutes, until slightly softened. Meanwhile, core but do no peel the apples. Cut them into 1/2" pieces. (You should have 2 cups.) Add to the onion and celery mixture and remove from the heat. Put the meat in a large bowl, add the onion-celery-apple mixture, eggs, garlic, salt and pepper, and mix well. Add the breadcrumbs and mix well to incorporate. (Fresh bread crumbs are best for this recipe; if substituting dry crumbs, use only 3/4 cup). Dampen your hands with water and form the mixture into 6 large patties (each weighing approx. 8 ounces). Arrange in a large roasting pan so there is a little space between the steaks and bake for 20 minutes.

For The Sauce: Put the carrots, onion, water, soy sauce, salt, pepper, tomato paste, and Tabasco in a saucepan and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and boil gently for 5 minutes. Keep warm. When the steaks have cooked for 20 minutes, remove them from the oven. They will probably stick to the bottom of the pan, so you will easily be able to incline the pan and pour off most of the accumulated fat. Spoon the sauce over and around the steaks and return them to the oven for 15 minutes and serve.

Let's Get Saucy @ IHCC!


Sunday, May 14, 2023

Ina's Smashed Eggs On Toast

 If I had to pick 5 favorite ingredients, eggs would be at the top of the list. I mean eggs are so versatile, nutritious, quick, and oh so delicious. So, for Mother's Day I chose this quick, but rather fussy egg dish.

The timing of the dish has to be just right, but it really is very simple. Good bread that is first toasted, then spread with butter and whole-grain mustard before being topped with a jammy soft-boiled egg that is smashed on the bread and sprinkled with salt, pepper, and dill.

It is a rather zesty and tangy way to start your day if you're looking for something different!

Happy Mother's Day to all!

Smashed Eggs on Toast

Adapted from Modern Comfort Food

by Ina Garten

Serves 4

8 cold extra-large eggs

8 (1/2" thick) slices from a white bread or Pullman loaf

4 tablespoons butter, at room temperature

4 teaspoons whole-grain mustard

4 teaspoons minced fresh dill

salt and black pepper

Fill a large saucepan with water and bring it to a full rolling boil over medium-high heat. With a slotted spoon, carefully lower the eggs one at a time, into the water. (Don't allow them to fall into the pot or the shells will crack!) Lower the heat and cook fro exactly 6-1/2 minutes (not 6 minutes and not 7 minutes), adjusting the temperature to maintain a low simmer. (If the water is boiling, the eggs will knock against each other and crack.) Carefully transfer the eggs to a bowl of ice water for EXACTLY 2 minutes. Remove the eggs from the water and peel.

Meanwhile, toast the bread in a toaster or over (see notes above) and place the slices on a cutting board. Spread each slice first with 1/2 tablespoons butter and then 1/2 teaspoon of the mustard.

Place one egg on each slice of toast and chop the eggs roughly without cutting into the bread (the bread will absorb the runny yolks). Sprinkle with dill, salt, pepper and serve warm. 

Sunday, May 7, 2023

Rick Bayless' Egg and Bacon Torta {A Flavor Bomb Breakfast Sandwich!}

It was a big weekend with Cinco de Mayo, the coronation of King Charles, and the Kentucky Derby. We celebrated Cinco de Mayo with homemade crunchwraps Friday night and these FLAVOR BOMB breakfast tortas Saturday and Sunday! 

I've made a few of Rick Bayless' tortas and they are always layered with flavor and insanely delicious! This breakfast torta is no exception. It is layered with big flavors and would be a hit for just about anyone looking to change up their breakfast game.

We begin with a toasted telera, or Mexican sub roll and we coat the bottom with a smear of blended chipotle chiles en adobo.

Then we top the chipotles en adobo with a good smear of smooth and creamy black beans.

Here's where you can feel free to change things up. The next layer of flavor is a slice or two of bacon to add some crunch and smokiness, OR you can simply go vegetarian and omit the bacon. Dare I say this torta may even be better without the bacon. There is enough flavor that it would be every bit as delicious without bacon.

Next you'll add your fluffy scrambled eggs. This is the heart of the torta! 

Finally, you'll top the eggs with the cheese, which is the glue that holds the whole torta together! Bayless calls for Chiuahua cheese, but I think you could go with mozzarella or frankly, any cheese that you have on hand.  Then the torta gets wrapped in foil, baked in the oven for a few minutes, topped with avocado, and eaten! It is quite frankly simply delicious! I highly recommend it!

     Egg and Bacon Torta             

Adapted from Rick Bayless Website

by Rick Bayless

Makes 6

1 dozen large eggs

1/3 cup heavy cream

10 pieces crispy bacon

1 (7.5oz) can chipotle chiles en adobo

1 (15 oz) can black beans

6 telera rolls sliced in half across the equator

2 tablespoons butter

3/4 cup Chiuahua cheese, shredded

1-1/2 avocados, peeled, pit discarded, thinly sliced

chipotle salsa

Preheat the oven to 350F. Whisk the eggs with the heavy cream until well combined. Set aside. 

Puree the chipotles and the adobo sauce in a food processor until smooth. Without cleaning the container, puree the black beans until smooth.

Spread a thin layer of the chiptole puree over the bottom of  each of the rolls. Top with a layer of black beans divided up equally between the tortas. Add a layer of bacon on top (1-1/2 slices on each roll).

Melt the butter in a 10" skillet set over medium heat. Pour in the egg mixture and gently scrape the sides and bottom of the pan. Once the eggs have formed soft curds, remove the pan from the heat and finish cooking the eggs until just set. Divide the eggs between the tortas. Sprinkle on the Chihuahua cheese and cover with the top of the roll. Wrap each torta in aluminum foil and place in the oven. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until the cheese has melted and the bread is warm. Unwrap the tortas, remove the top and place the slices of avocado over the filling. Replace the top and serve immediately with a side of chipotle sauce.