Tag-Archive for ◊ light lunch ◊

04 Sep 2011 Sparkling Watermelon Lemonade

Last family BBQ of the season?  I wish I had posted this recipe as a season opener so that we could have had enjoyed this drink throughout the summer, but at least it is posted in time for the last BBQ of the summer. So toast the summer good-bye and pack away the white shoes with a glass of this sparkling Watermelon Lemonade.

This is  a summery, refreshing drink that’s lightly bubbly. No artificial colors, no artificial flavorings, no preservatives; just all natural ingredients! (…and it will use up all of that H-U-G-E watermelon you just bought!  My local grocery store had BIG ‘UNs for $2.49 yesterday.  How could I resist? Now, with this recipe for Watermelon Lemonade, none of that BIG ‘UN is going to waste!)

You could easily use this recipe and make a watermelon concentrate to freeze for future use.  Just mix the watermelon puree, the lemon juice, and the simple syrup, stir to blend. and then freeze (a quart Ziploc bag would work fine).  When ready to serve remove concentrate from freezer, defrost, add water and sparkling water, and stir until blended.

The kids are going to love this.  In fact, I think it will be their favorite. Go ahead and make some concentrate.  You know there is going to be a kid oriented event in the next few weeks.  Better to serve them good-for-you Watermelon Lemonade than a can of fizzy artificial flavorings and colorings.

This recipe has a long pedigree.  I found it here, http://traceysculinaryadventures.blogspot.com/2011/07/watermelon-lemonade.html (Tracey has posted a much better picture of the Watermelon Lemonade), where it was adapted from from Smitten Kitchen who adapted it from  Bubby’s.  I added the recipe for 8 servings  (why not make a pitcher  full?) and changed the ratio of bubbly water to straight water. You could make either version with all still water, or with all bubbly water.  Do what suits you. Make this recipe yours! Enjoy!  Here’s look to next summer, when we can have glass after glass after glass of this Sparkling Watermelon Lemonade.

Sparkling Watermelon Lemonade

For two glasses:

  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (usually one lemon)
  • 1/2 cup fresh watermelon puree (Put cubes of seedless watermelon in blender and whirl until smooth.  Strain to remove seeds and pulp. )
  • 3-4 tablespoons simple syrup (recipe below, make first and let cool!)
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1/4 cup sparkling water

Add all of the ingredients to a small pitcher and stir to combine.  Divide between two glasses and serve over ice.

For Eight Servings:

  • 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (4-5 lemons)
  • 2 cups fresh, strained watermelon puree (about 1/2 a medium watermelon)
  • 1 cup simple syrup (recipe below, make first and let cool!)
  • 1  1/2 cups cold water
  • 1  1/2 cups sparkling water

Add all of the ingredients to a small pitcher and stir to combine.  Pour into ice filled glasses and serve.

Simple Syrup:

To make the simple syrup: Combine equal parts water and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally.  (1/4 cup of sugar and water for 2 servings, 1 cup of sugar and water for 8 servings). Continue simmering until the sugar has dissolved.  Turn off the heat and let the syrup cool to room temperature.  Leftover syrup can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one month.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today.  I hope I’ll be back cooking up a storm tomorrow.  Fingers crossed, I’ll see you then!

Polly

 

12 Jul 2011 Apple Fennel Salad

I have some very, very strange friends.  They get up early.  To go running. Sometimes, on a weekend, for fun, they’ll run like 26 miles.  To get a T-shirt.

Sometimes these strange friends invite me over for dinner.  I usually offer to bring dessert.  (If left to their own devices these strange friends of mine would probably serve apple peels with grape nuts and flax seed.  I think one of them ate an M&M two years ago.  She still talks about it as if it were yesterday.)

These strange friends of mine eat a lot of salad.  I don’t much care for salad.

A few weeks ago these strange friends of mine swam from Alcatraz to San Francisco to get a T-shirt.  Then they thought they’d throw a party to celebrate.  I took ice cream sundaes.  With whipped cream.  One of the men told me white liquids were evil. My friend Barb brought this salad. Fennel? Really?

My little secret is, that up until this party with the strange T-shirt people, I had never tasted fennel.  I couldn’t think of a less appetizing way to try it for the first time than raw. In a salad. But Barb was smiling, and the other T-shirt people were ohhhing and ahhhing, I couldn’t not put any on my plate.

Manohmanohman, was it ever good! I’ve bought four fennel bulbs since that party, and learned to cut, core, and slice them.  I’ve served this salad to my daughters, my son, grandson, a boyfriend and a vegetarian friend.  I’ve eaten the leftovers while washing the dishes. It’s a yummy, crunchy, sweet, savory salad that’s both refreshing and light.  You’ll feel very healthy eating it, and happy.  Maybe those t-shirt people know a thing or two about salad. Shoot, I hope there aren’t any adverse side effects to eating this salad. I wouldn’t want to wake up at 5 AM one Saturday morning  thinking it would be a good idea to run 26 miles for a T-shirt…

This is my friend Barb.  I am helping her make quilts out of her T-shirts…. <sigh>

Barb says she clipped this recipe from “O” Magazine in January of 2005.  I reduced the olive oil and added in some lemon juice. It’s a very easy salad to make, very easy.  I made it tonight after my daughter had started making Turkey burgers.  We had both the burgers and the salad on the table at the same time.  (BTW, my daughter and I were wearing T-shirts from Old Navy, they cost about $7.00 each, we got to choose the size and the color,…and we didn’t have to run 26 miles to get them...)

Apple Fennel Salad

  • 2 med fennel bulbs
  • 2 Granny Smith apples (I found the Granny Smith apples to be a bit too tart for my liking, I used Fuji apples)
  • 1/2 cup thinly shaved Pecorino Romano Cheese (I’ve substituted Parmesan)
  • 2 tbsp. finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
  • 1/8 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  1. Remove fennel tops and chop 1 tablespoon of the green, feathery fronds. Trim root ends, halve, core and thinly slice fennel bulbs.
  2. Peel, core, and thinly slice the apples.
  3. In a large bowl, combine sliced fennel bulbs, sliced apples, shaved cheese, olive oil, parsley, lemon juice and zest, salt, and pepper; toss gently.
  4. To serve, arrange salad on a large, chilled serving pate. Sprinkle with reserved fennel fronds.

Makes 4-6 side dish servings.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today.  I know this recipe isn’t what you usually expect from me, but it’s a very, very good recipe.  I hope you try it.  It’s lovely.

28 Jun 2011 Grilled Vegetable Platter

I love veggies, as long as they are cooked.  If they are grilled, even better.  I started grilling veggies a few years back.  I just sliced and grilled.  Except for loosing a significant number of veggies through the grill, they worked out great.  I grilled carrots, zucchini, asparagus, onions and sweet potatoes.  Now I am working on fancier grilled veggies; a little marinade, a little glaze, grill marks…

Last week I received an email, “Top Ten Recipes of June 2011”.   This email came from Taste of Home magazine.  I am not a huge fan of Taste of Home, too many of their recipes start out with a mix, but I am a sucker for Top Ten lists. So I opened the email.  The picture of the  Grilled Vegetable Platter looked good, the recipe had five stars out of five stars with twelve reviews, so I clicked away.  The recipe sounded good and looked simple enough, so I tested it…, winner, Winner, WINNER!

Don’t feel like you have to stick to the veggie combo listed.  Grill what you have and what you like.  I left out all the bell peppers.  I. don’t. like. bell. peppers.  I didn’t add in any mushrooms because I just posted that fabulous recipe for Grilled PortobellosTaste of Home reviewers also reported adding green beans, snow peas, sweet potato rounds, and halved cherry tomatoes  into the mix.

My change to the Taste of Home recipe is to make two marinade mixtures.  Use one to marinate the veggies in prior to grilling (and then discard that marinade with the Ziploc bag), and then use the second one to drizzle over the veggies after grilling, the second marinade is just slightly different from the first. I also substituted freshly minced garlic for the garlic powder in the first marinade.

Now for my number one tip on grilled veggies… Grill the veggies first, before the meat or the fish.  Veggies are grill hogs, taking up an entire grill, and some of them take a surprisingly long time to grill, onions especially. The asparagus will cook most quickly, then the squash, then the carrots, and the onion will probably still be cooking when you start in on the meat.  Just remove each veggie when done and, when your veggie platter is mostly complete, drizzle with the second marinade, and place the whole platter in a warm oven.  Another reason for cooking the veggies first?  You can be in the middle of cooking them when  your guests arrive, and I haven’t met a guest yet who is not impressed by a grill covered in marinated mixed veggies, some with nice char marks!

Grilled Vegetable Platter

For the pre-grilling marinade

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • 1 Tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

For the post-grilling drizzle

  • 2 Tablespoon olive oil (this is the time to use your best tasting/most expensive olive oil)
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 Tablespoon (which is equivalent to 1 1/2 teaspoons) Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Veggie Mix (mix it up to suit what you have on hand, what you like to eat, and how many people you are serving…keeping in mind grilled veggies make great leftovers and are almost as good eaten at room temperature as they are when they are eaten fresh from the grill)

  • 1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed
  • 3 small carrots, cut in half lengthwise
  • 3 small zucchini, cut in half lengthwise
  • 1 large sweet red, yellow, or green bell pepper, cut into 1-inch strips
  • 2 medium yellow summer squash, cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 1 sweet potato (I prefer Garnet Yams), peeled and cut into slices
  • 1 medium red onion, cut into four wedges (I used a sweet Vidalia onion)
  • other possible add ins or substitutions: mushrooms, halved tomatoes, green beans, snow peas…
  1. Combine the olive oil, honey, Balsamic vinegar, oregano and minced garlic or garlic powder for the marinade. Pour into a large resealable plastic bag; add the vegetables. Seal bag and turn to coat; refrigerate for 1-1/2 hours.
  2. Combine the ingredients for the drizzle; cover and set aside.
  3. Place vegetables on a grilling grid (I don’t do this…I place the veggies directly on the grill, and loose a fair number of asparagus spears, skinny carrots and zucchini).  Grill, covered, over medium heat for 4-6 minutes (adjust for each veggie) on each side or until crisp-tender. Note: The onion wedges will probably fall apart.  That’s OK.  Just grill the slices (the slices that don’t fall through the grill, that is).  As soon as each slice is nicely brown and feels soft, transfer to platter and drizzle with some of the second marinade mixture.
  4. Transfer to a large serving platter. Drizzle with the second “marinade” mixture.
  5. Serve, or if desired, place in warm oven (250 degrees) to stay warm until needed

So now you know what you will be grilling, what should you have for dessert?  S’mores (or S’mores Bars?), Frozen Bananas (always fun), or my personal favorites, Fresh Blueberry Pie or a Mixed Berry Pie?? Have some fun and search my recipes!

Outdoor grilling rocks! Hope you are enjoying both cooking and dining outside.  Next up, grilled artichokes! Thanks for stopping by my kitchen again today.  I love it when you pop in!

 

16 Jun 2011 Gravlax (sort of like Lox)

A few weeks ago my Aunt and I went on a seven day cruise to Alaska.  I spent most of the time reading while  looking out to sea and waiting for the next meal to be served, usually just a couple hour wait! It’s quite decadent to eat four multi-course meals a day (breakfast, lunch, tea, and dinner) all chosen off a menu, all served by waiters, while sitting at tables set with linen, too much  silverware, and many glasses.  And after all that, the biggest thrill yet awaits.  The getting up from the table, without removing a plate, and walking out the door, with not one thought about cleaning up or storing leftovers.  Now THAT, was lovely.  I wouldn’t be opposed to a fourteen day cruise next year!!!

As on most cruises, the Head Chef did a little demonstration for those of us who like to cook in real life (being on board ship is by no means real life). The Head Chef of The Dawn Princess showed us how to make Gravlax and Tiramisu. Tiramisu I can take or leave, and I usually leave, which is very odd since I am a cake person to rival Gayle King, and a coffee person to rival Howard Shultz but, hand me a raw fish and I get all giddy!  I took lots of notes during the Gravlax portion of the demonstration.  When I got back on land, I knew I was going to make  Gravlax for our Cook Book Club meeting.  The theme was “Something You Love But Seldom Make”.  This recipe fit perfectly, as I love it, but had never made it.  Gravlax is one simple recipe, and it’s a stunning appetizer plate or brunch treat.

I know some of you are asking, but what is Gravlax? Think Lox!  It’s very similar, but with a shorter curing time (two days versus six months). Gravlax is a Scandinavian dish of dry-cured raw salmon marinated in salt, sugar, dill, and citrus and often served thinly sliced on bread as an appetizer often accompanied by a dill-mustard sauce.

Dawn Princess Gravlax

  • 1 salmon fillet, about 2 lbs (very fresh, wild caught)
  • 500 grams of table salt (I weighed this out to be about ¾ cup)
  • 500 grams of sugar (I weighed this out to be about 1 ¼ cups)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • One bunch fresh dill
  • 1 large orange, sliced
  • 1 large lemon, sliced
  1. Place the salmon side on a large piece of plastic wrap. Run your hand over the surface and remove any and all bones with small tweezers.
  2. Mix the salt and sugar together. Sprinkle approximately half of the salt/sugar mixture over the salmon fillet. Then top with a good amount of  freshly ground black pepper.
  3. Top the black pepper with a heavy layer of fresh dill sprigs.
  4. Top the dill with a layer of the orange and lemon slices.
  5. Pour remaining sugar-salt mixture over the top of everything.
  6. Wrap the fish, covered with the salt, the dill, and the orange and lemon slices and a final layer of salt/sugar, completely and tightly in plastic wrap.
  7. Lay plastic wrapped fillet on a cookie sheet and refrigerate for 30-48 hours.  (80% of the recipes I read on the Internet said to weigh the fish down with something heavy during the refrigeration time. The chef did not say this, but after reading the recipes on line, I decided to do the same.  I used a 12-pack of soda.)
  8. Remove the plastic wrap from the fish. Drain off the liquid. Quickly rinse the salt off with cold water, then dry with a paper towel.
  9. Thinly slice the salmon, holding the knife at a diagonal.  Serve.  The chef served the gravlax on a sliced sweet baguette with a honey-mustard-dill sauce (equal parts of honey and mustard, with a few tablespoons chopped fresh dill).  My kids, and I, love to put the Gravlax on top of  bagel halves which have been spread with thin layer of cream cheese and then topped with thinly sliced red onion, capers, and tomatoes. Or how about Eggs Benedict with Gravlax rather than Canadian Bacon?
  10. Leftovers can be wrapped tightly in plastic and kept for one week in refrigerator, and can be stored in freezer for longer storage.  If gravlax is frozen, be sure to defrost gently in refrigerator, or the texture of the gravlax will be compromised.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today.  If you’d like to see more recipes, just click on the “In The Kitchen With Polly” header on the top left hand side of the page, which will allow you to scroll the recipes in order of posting.  If you would like to search on a particular ingredient, just type the name in the search box.  I think my dear friend Rattie has designed a very user friendly website!

Polly

31 Jan 2011 Strawberry Sandwiches

I have never seen a recipe published for this sandwich, but it’s one of my favorites (probably because it’s more like dessert than a sandwich.  I have my demons, and all of them are sweet…).  I first encountered this sandwich on the campus of San Diego State University, in the late 1970’s, then I never saw it anywhere else, except in my own kitchen. I’ve made my version a lot over the years, usually for tea (tea-the-meal, the one with finger sandwiches, scones, little cakes, and  served on fancy china).  I love tea-the-meal.  It’s a grazers delight; little bits of everything, and everything tasty and pretty. But I digress, back to the Strawberry Sandwich.  (I have never been able to spell “sandwich” without spell check…, it just doesn’t look right without another “h” in there. And I digress yet again…) With strawberries now showing up in our farmer’s markets (yes, in January!) I had a hankering for this sandwich, so I made one, or two.

Like I said, this s-a-n-d-w-h-i-c-h is a great addition to any tea, but it’s a good treat to serve at play dates (PB&J for the kids, SBS for the moms), pack for a walk or a picnic, or to pull together if someone stops by and you want to keep them around for awhile.  The trick to pulling these together at the last minute?  Keep a loaf of raisin bread in the freezer!  Pull out 2 or 4 slices when needed, by the time you get the honey and cream cheese out, the strawberries sliced, and the tea brewing, the bread will be defrosted and ready to use.  These sandwiches would also be good for a Valentine’s Day treat, or a special Mother’s Day event. My daughter had a catering gig on Sunday and I suggested this sandwich to round out a fabulous spread of finger sandwiches. This sandwich could fit in anywhere!  I really can’t understand why no one else makes it.

So, a big Thank You to the cafeteria ladies of San Diego State University for this lovely sandwich.  I hope you get your day in the sun 🙂

Strawberry Sandwich

For each sandwich:

2 slices of good quality raisin bread or cinnamon-raisin bread

approx 1T cream cheese (whatever kind you like, full fat, low fat, no fat…)

approx 1 teaspoon honey (or a little less)

3-4 strawberries, thickly sliced, rounded edges set aside for another use.

Thinly spread the cream cheese on both sides of the raisin bread.  On one side, drizzle the honey and spread evenly over the cream cheese.  On the other slice, lay thick, flat slices of strawberry.  It’s bit of a jigsaw puzzle to get them all to fit without leaving too much space between the slices, but it’s only a small puzzle, nothing intimidating.  Put the bread with honey on top of the bread with the strawberries.  For easiest slicing, flip the sandwich over.  Cut off all the crusts, and then slice as desired.  I usually get three rectangular shaped finger sandwiches from each, but in the picture above I cut in half on the diagonal.  Eat within a few hours.  The sandwich does not keep long, and definitely not overnight.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today!  If you are looking for a more savory sandwich to serve with this, check out the post for Smoked Chicken & Almond Sandwiches!

20 Jan 2011 Veggie Breakfast Casserole

Do you have a breakfast casserole in your repertoire?  Breakfast casseroles are great (but they don’t photograph well).  The bulk of the work is done the night before.  The casserole rests in the refrigerator while you sleep, and is taken out and baked in the morning. Breakfast casseroles are a wonderful thing if you are entertaining overnight house guests.  They are  convenient to make for groups of friends sharing a snow condo or the beach house.  They are a must for family gatherings such as Christmas morning and special occasion-baby shower, Valentine’s Day-brunches.  Breakfast casseroles are popular at potluck brunches.  You just gotta have one or two in your repertoire!

Here’s a good one to start with.  It’s based on a Spinach Strata recipe from epicurious.com, but I increased the spinach, added mushrooms, decreased the mustard and the eggs, and changed the method! I guess that means this recipe is adaptable.  Don’t like all that spinach? Use half and then add something else that you do like, diced and drained tomatoes, chopped artichoke hearts, sauteed diced zucchini, maybe?  Want to add in a ¼ cup chopped bell pepper or spicy peppers? Go ahead!  Don’t have the specific cheese mentioned? Use what you like and what you have on hand (just don’t use all cheddar or you will have a greasy mess).  Want to saute fresh spinach instead of using frozen spinach?  Go for it! You could also add some browned sausage but I really think a few slices of good bacon on the side would be better. Be sure to add some citrus on the side, too, so that all the iron from the spinach can be absorbed!

My one problem with this recipe is that it makes soooo much! Breakfast casseroles are filling, a 9 x 13 inch pan full serves a crowd of 12 or so (variable of course, depending on how many hale and hearty men and teenage boys you have in the crowd), which is good for many occasions, but not so good for a  quiet brunch at home.  If you are making this just for you and your immediate family, half the recipe and bake it in a 9 inch square pan for a bit less than the stated cooking time.  Leftovers reheat well in the microwave and I have enjoyed this for breakfast, lunch and dinner!

I think you’ll enjoy having this recipe in your repertoire.  If you get hooked on breakfast casseroles, I have a smoked salmon one to share, too 🙂

Veggie Breakfast Casserole

  • 2 (10-oz) packages frozen spinach, thawed
  • 1 lb. mushrooms, diced
  • 1 ½ cups finely chopped onion (1 large)
  • 2 tablespoons butter, divided use
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided use
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon  nutmeg
  • 8 cups stale cubed (1 inch) French. Italian or Sourdough bread (1/2 lb)
  • 2 cups (about 6 oz) coarsely grated good melting cheese such as Gruyère, Jack, Smoked Gouda, Mozzarella, cheddar (the combo used will affect the taste of your casserole, of course.  For the best taste, mix your cheeses.  Definitely don’t use a full 2 cups of SMOKED Gouda (overpowering smoked taste) or cheddar (too greasy).
  • 1 cup (about 2 oz.) finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 2  ¾ cups milk (I used 2%)
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  1. Defrost spinach in the microwave and let cool.  Then squeeze–and I do mean s-q-u-e-e-e-e-z-e handfuls of spinach to remove as much liquid as possible.  At least half your “spinach” will be green water.
  2. Cook onion in 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon in a large heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring, until soft, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in spinach and ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper, and nutmeg.  Cook, stirring, for a minute or so and then remove from pan.  Add diced mushrooms and another tablespoonful of butter and olive oil to the pan.  Saute mushrooms until cooked, about 5 minutes.  Raise heat, and boil off excess moisture.  Add mushrooms to onion spinach mixture.
  3. Pour bread cubes into a very large bowl.  Stir in cooled spinach mixture and cheeses.
  4. In another bowl, whisk together milk, eggs, mustard, and remaining ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper.  Pour this mixture over the bread-veggie-cheese mixture in the large bowl.
  5. Pour mixture into a 9 x 13 inch pan.  Spread mixture evenly into corners and smooth the top. Chill the casserole, covered with plastic wrap, overnight (8 hours or so).
  6. Preheat oven to 350°F while casserole stands at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  7. Bake breakfast casserole, uncovered, in middle of oven until puffed, golden brown, and cooked through, 45 to 55 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Enjoy your breakfast casserole with some great coffee, sliced fruit and a slice or two of really good, salty bacon and thanks for stopping by my kitchen this fine, fine morning!