June 30, 2010

Easy Garden Dinner with Buttermilk Dressing

Yesterday, I was up in the hills of Glastonbury, CT working at a new house.  Glastonbury is right in the middle of CT farm country.  I stopped on my way home and found everything I needed for a dinner salad including baby yukon gold potatoes.  The potatoes gave me the inspiration for the dressing.  I also love chopping herbs into salads to give each bite a more full flavor.  Topped with a buttermilk dressing the salad came together quickly and any leftovers will taste better today.

3/4 cup buttermilk
3 cloves garlic minced
salt and pepper to taste
2 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp sugar
2 tbs white wine vinegar
1 tbs olive oil

combine in a jar or shaker, and shake until well combined

Green beans steamed and rinsed in cool water
fresh herbs including parsley and chives
Mixed Greens I chose spinach and 2 types of letuce
potatoes quartered and boiled seasoned with salt and pepper
hard boiled eggs
smoked turkey and provolone sliced

Of course almost anything would taste great in the salad.  I like the way the beans and potatoes give it a nice substance.

June 24, 2010

Fresh and Clean Cucumber Gin Fizz

Already herbal in flavor gin pairs well with most savory herbs.  This clean cocktail is perfect for the end of a scorcher (like today!).

Cucumber Gin Fizz
makes 2 cooling cocktails
2 Inch piece of cucumber diced plus some for garnish
4 Sprigs dill finely chopped plus 2 for garnish
2 Wedges lime plus more to garnish
4 oz (4 shots) Gin Tanqueray No. 10

In a cocktail shaker muddle cucumber, dill and lime
Add gin & ice
Shake well and strain into a rocks glass filled with ice
Top off with tonic and give a quick stir
Spritz with lime and top with a sprig of dill & or a slice of cucumber

For different drinks I like different types of gin.  Tanqueray has a complimentary to use in this cocktail since it's not too herbal yet still has a nice clean flavor.

Garnishes are an important clue as to the flavor in a drink especially if serving at a party and the flavor is a bit unusual.

June 23, 2010

Tossed Garlic Shrimp - 15 minutes till dinner!

Last night we ended up with some extra raw shrimp leftover from a bar-b-q.  With some herbs, garlic and tomatoes dinner came together so fast and full of flavor.  It took only 15 minutes to make!!

6 cloves garlic
1/2 onion
1/4 cup chopped herbs whatever you like.  I used basil, thyme and orgeano
2 tomatoes - rough chop
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
pasta of choice

brown garlic and onion in olive oil add herbs and tomato until just cooked
toss in shrimp and cook until just white
toss in cooked pasted and 1/2 cup pasta cooking water
leave on heat for 1 minute
serve with fresh Parmesan

June 21, 2010

BLT Like Never Before

I needed something to make with my freshly picked Swiss Chard.   I've been wanting to do an egg for dinner post and I've also wanted to try poaching an egg.  Voila two for one!  I loved making this and I loved eating it even more!  Try to get a taste with everything all in one bite, it's worth it.
It's a very simple & elegant meal and could easily be served for a dinner party since the parts can be made ahead of time.

Serves 4

1 Bunch Swiss Chard washed, chopped into 1" pieces and separated into stems and greens
6 cloves garlic
1/2 onion minced
olive oil
salt & pepper
salt & pepper

Canadian Bacon 4 pieces

Poached eggs

Tomato sliced in thick pieces

1 cup chicken stock
2 cups milk
1 cup polenta
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup parmesean
browned onion & garlic (see below)

In a large skillet over medium heat add garlic onion and canadian bacon.
Brown bacon remove from heat and place on a small dish covered with tin foil
Continue to brown garlic and onion.
Remove a tablespoon of garlic and onion and place the pot the polenta will be made in

Add stems cook for 5 minutes or untill tender, add greens and cook for another 5 minutes untill wilted and tender, season with salt and pepper, remove from heat

Bring all ingrediants except Parmesan to a boil and add polenta, stir untill thickend and remove from heat, stir in cheese, cover and set aside

Poach eggs and place on paper towel until ready

Give yourself a nice polenta base, top with bacon, tomato chard and egg. Season with salt and pepper. You're done!!! Looks great and tastes better.  I think this is a new take on the BLT.

PS.  This is a great link on poaching an egg 

Taste the Rainbow - Literally!

I LOVE color!!!  Almost everything I'm growing in the garden I grown first for taste and second for color.  Since I have the choice - why not?  This beautiful swiss chard was just cut this morning and will be perfect in my evening dinner.  Sauteed with garlic I will serve this over Parmesan polenta with some bacon and a poached egg.  I can't wait!

Cedar Roasted Salmon

Cedar adds a really great smoked flavor to the salmon.  This couldn't be easier to prepare and the taste is rich and different from standard grilled food.  For this I used a beautiful wild caught Sockeye salmon with no added coloring.  When I saw the fish glistening from behind the fish counter I knew what I was serving for dinner.

Salmon, any type that you would put on the grill will work fine
cedar plank to fit salmon soaked for at least 2 hours

1 small container plain yogurt - non fat is fine
3 cloves finely minced garlic
5 full sprigs of dill finely chopped
juice of 1/2 lime
Zest of 1/2 lime
salt and pepper to taste

Mix together all ingredients for the marinade in a small bowl.
In a glass dish coat the salmon with a thick layer of the marinade and let sit in the refrigerator for as little as 30 minutes - longer is better
fire up grill
place salmon on plank and onto grill
cover and let cook for 5-10 minutes depending on how hot the grill is
I like to buy high quality salmon and cook until just pink in the middle

I love to use the natural wood charcoal.  It tastes so much better.  I also NEVER use lighter fluid!! Try to find kindling or fat wood to start the grill.  It leaves no taste and is much better for you...

June 18, 2010

Who are the people in your neighborhood?

One thing I love about living in SoNo (South Norwalk, CT) are the places to go and people to see.  Last night on our way walking to Kazu for a restaurant week dinner we noticed live music and tons of people outside one of the vacant buildings.  We walked over to the space and to my excitement there were TONS of easels set up with huge sheets of drawing paper, lots of art implements, a model & free food and wine.  All the makings for a great time!  This was an open sketch night going on!! Since we were starving, we ate dinner and came back since it was going on until 10pm. So like moths to light we found easels and picked up chalk and started drawing!  I haven't done any figure drawing since leaving RISD years ago, and I don't know if Chris has ever done figure drawing.  Everyone there had a blast and you could see the enjoyment on people's faces from skilled artisans to the novice.  I found the whole evening inspiring and can't wait for another.
Right now there are far too many vacant shops in town.  One gallery owner of 22 Haviland Street Gallery is trying to add beauty and interest to these sad shells by placing art in the windows.  Next time you visit town it's worth checking out what might be hanging in the window next to where you dine.  

June 16, 2010

EASY Sesame Snap Pea and Shrimp Stir Fry

I'm on a big shrimp kick.  I would love for whole foods to carry raw shrimp from somewhere other than Thailand...  Straight from garden to table this was super easy and quick to make for dinner.  The peas were picked just this morning and so tender they barely needed any heat.

1/2 onion roughly chopped
lots of garlic (5 cloves?) roughly chopped
toasted sesame oil
olive oil
grated ginger enough for taste
raw shrimp peeled and cleaned

1 - 2 tbs soy sauce
dash of hot sesame oil
1 tbs corn starch
2 tbs warm water
1 tbs hoisin or oyster sauce

brown rice - I cooked mine with chicken stock and a bit of butter

Over medium heat add enough of the oils to cook the onion and garlic.
Cook onion and garlic quickly until lightly browned not too high of heat or the sesame oil will burn
add the ginger (to taste)
toss in shrimp and cook for 2 minutes until totally pink (DON'T OVER COOK)
stir together all sauce ingredients and add to stir fry mixture turn up heat until sauce comes together 2 minutes max.  Serve over rice.
Voila.  Super easy and VERY tasty.  There wasn't a bite left.

June 15, 2010

Dock your drink here!

I'm a sucker for a great garnish and anything else to make my drink look pretty.  Nauti & Co. has great sterling cocktail garnishes to keep your twist in place.  You can find them on Etsy here!  They come in a very cool little case that is sure to keep the pirates away.

Though a little pricey... Get the same (similar) look with their plastic ones and sip away Matey.

By the way I love their logo and intro on their site:

Strawberry Lemonade Fizz

Another weekend cocktail hit!  All this was missing is an amazing cocktail "Anchor" (here).  This couldn't be any more simple to make and is sure to please everyone
1 Shot Vodka
handful fresh strawberries
1/2 glass good lemonade (not too sweet)
couple ice cubes
Blend until all ice ice is blended
serve over ice top with a bit of seltzer (or champagne)
wedge of lime (love the lime and lemon together)

June 11, 2010

Happy (and cheap) things for your kitchen!!

This one's for the girls!!!
Keep pencils together in this adorable pear case $16 from ModCloth
$18 for a cute elephant tea pot - why not? Look Here

Lovie Dovie cutting board $20 from Modcloth

Toss in some flowers $24 from UrbanOutfitters.com

Don't forget to look pretty while working! $28 from Anthropologie

Rule #1 have pretty towels hanging around $18 Anthropologie

June 9, 2010

Behind the scenes with le Farm's Bill Taibe

This past week I got to be a fly on the wall in chef Bill Taibe's kitchen.  Well it is actually my (work) kitchen, but Bill's rules.  One of the perks of my job is helping out with a dinner where Bill donates his time and food to support the JDRF in a dinner that is auctioned off to raise money to find a cure.   If you have not been to le Farm his Westport, CT restaurant I highly recommend going and be sure to book a table in advance because the space is intimate.
Armed with enough food for a five course tasting menu for ten people and his trusty assistant Bill makes himself at home.  I'm always amazed at how his dinners come together.  Each course was paired with wine from Off the Vine  in Norwalk, CT with a description presented by Vine's owner John Noakes.
All of the food was prepared in front of the guests who had a front row table (literally).  Enjoy a few shots from the evening (thanks Bill for letting me snap away).  I'll mention another perk was getting to taste what morsels and drops were left over!  I love gushing because Bill is one of the few chefs that is really out there taking charge of the local / home grown movement that I try to support.

Bill makes and brines his own foie gras overnight.  This was served over a fresh bean and artichoke salad topped with flakes of sea salt.
Bill brought locally sourced ingredients such as duck eggs that a friend produces just for him!
The duck eggs top asparagus and are complimented with prosciutto made in the US (that rivals that made in Italy) as well as a super simple dressing made with ramps.

The third course was great.  A salad with roasted peaches, pork belly and walnuts... it doesn't get much better.
This is a plate of "leftovers" that Bill threw together for the "helpers" so he wouldn't waste food.  Not too shabby.
The final savory course was the most bold.  I believe this beef is a US version of Kobe - pan seared in a matter of minutes.  When these came off the heat, they were allowed to rest and beet greens were tossed in the same skillets.
The beef was sliced, served with the greens, cherries, beets and a local blue.  His plated version is pretty but the plate below for the "help" was delicous!!
Last but not least was an elegant strawberry shortcake.  Possibly my favorite dessert of all though sadly there were no shortcakes left over...  I guess that will warrant a visit to the restaurant in the near future.

June 8, 2010

Asian Shrimp Salad

Yummy twist on my daily salad!
I made a version of this over the weekend and liked it so much came back for seconds and decided to try it again!  A friend turned me on to coconut oil to cook with and I love the flavor and texture it give this dish!  Thai and Lemon Basil star in this dish

-Fresh uncooked shrimp - peeled and deveined
-4 cloves garlic - chopped
-Thai Basil - small handful chopped finely
-Lemon Basil - small handful chopped finely
-fresh grated ginger
-1 tbs coconut oil

Saute garlic and herbs in coconut oil over medium heat add shrimp and cook until just pink
Spritz with fresh lime and remove from heat

Salad Dressing
I would have preferred to have made this with sesame oil, however I didn't have any so olive oil did the trick
-Olive oil
-rice wine vinegar
-touch soy sauce

I served this with 7 grain pilaf that I mixed with couscous.  When I made the pilaf it was very salty so at the end I added more water brought to a boil and added couscous to soak up the saltiness and this worked great!!  A bit of the dressing mixed with the rice mixture tastes great!


June 7, 2010

My Enchanted Garden

I have yet to get tired of taking a walk through my garden and seeing something new or picking something that's ready.  Daily I'm amazed at what fruits (or vegetables) little seeds can produce.  With such variety of color, texture and taste my senses are constantly awakened.

Perfect Summer Sangria

A few years ago it seemed as if every glass of sangria I ordered was filled with wine and 7-Up.  I knew there had to be a better taste to this summery cocktail.  One hot summer evening along with one of my cocktail mixing friends we set off to make our own sangria and I think our confection was amazing.  Once the weather reaches summer temps we set off to make new versions.  Here is the latest and quite tasty!
 We start with a dry white - some times you can find whites that have a slight sparkling quality these are perfect!  The wine doesn't have to be a stellar bottle because it's just getting mixed.
Lots of fruit cut in bite size pieces.  This has a mixture of chopped peach, nectarine, strawberry, raspberry &  orange
Chopped herbs - it varries based on what is in my window box here we have mint and lemon balm
For a little sweetness some juice.  This has a bit Red Jacket Orchards strawberry apply juice.  Juice adds sweetness that compliments the wine but better than the 7-Up or Sprite.
Sometimes I top with a little seltzer, since this already had some bubbles from the wine we left this alone.  I also will freeze the berries and add them at the last minute to help the mix stay cool.
One of the best parts is if you use good fruit it's a nice treat at the end of the glass.
Mix together with a tray of ice & serve!!

June 5, 2010

FAB designer video!!

She's FAB lady... One of those people who if you're asked who you'd like to have lunch with - she would be a great answer and I'm sure would show you a great time!!

Eureka!!! GREAT Sushi in Norwalk!!

Apologies for the camera phone pics.  
After searching and MANY sushi dinners later I think I have found a gem!  Nestled in a strip mall on the way to New Cannaan right at the Norwalk border is a tiny sushi house called Little Tokyo.  It has a great little sushi bar to sit and watch art in motion as well as the most friendly owner and sushi chef's.  We went for the chef's tasting dinner which is the way to go!
Included in our dinner were some of the freshest tasting Kumamoto oysters I've had.  I normally pass on oysters of any kind but these were the perfect size and tasted just like the sea.  In addition to the beautifully fresh pieces of sushi, we were served a white fish spicy salad, trout in citrus juices, and 2 rolls.  For dessert we were given ice cream puffs.  These little puffs had a pastry shell and bean ice cream middle.  The consistency was completely odd but kept us going back for more and put smiles on our faces as if we were 5 and eating an ice cream sandwich for the first time.
I would totally go back tonight if I hadn't already reached my sushi quota for the week.  It's definitely a place I will go back to again and again and again (you get the idea).  One last thing to mention is the prices are VERY reasonable...