Recipes

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Arugula Peach Salad with Crispy Serrano Ham

Last night I prepped a new creation, with the urge to use some ripe native peaches I picked up from a local farmstead.

In the spirit of farm to table cooking, I love to use the freshest produce of the season, and peaches happen to be absolutely phenomenal this time of year!

Playing off the peaches which are sweet and incredibly juicy, I wanted to use other ingredients that would compliment and contrast with that flavor and texture! Arugula adds a peppery, bitter crunch, while crispy Serrano ham adds a hint of saltiness. Fresh mozzarella adds another texture element, and slivered Vidalia onion adds a slight sharpness.

To join together these flavors, I whisked together an acidic, citrusy Meyer lemon vinaigrette.

Native peaches are my favorite fruit, but this might be my new favorite way to eat them.

 

Makes: 4 medium portions

The Ingredients

2 containers arugula

3 ripe yellow peaches, cut in 1/2 inch slices (skin on)

1 medium Vidalia onion, cut in paper thin slices

3/4 container of pearl-sized fresh mozzarella balls, drained

4 paper thin slices Serrano ham (or prosciutto)

1 Meyer lemon

~1/3 cup rice wine vinegar

~2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon soy sauce

Salt and pepper to taste

 

The Steps

In a large bowl, layer arugula, mozzarella balls, and onion.

For Meyer lemon vinaigrette: in a medium bowl, whisk together rice wine vinegar, olive oil, soy sauce, juice of a Meyer lemon, and salt and pepper. Add dressing to large bowl.  Toss.

Plate salad. Add peach slices around perimeter of greens.

For crispy Serrano ham: in a small nonstick pan over medium heat, toss 1 inch pieces of Serrano ham for 6-7 minutes, until crispy and slightly golden. Make sure to keep tossing the ham so it crisps evenly!

Garnish salad with crispy Serrano ham.

 

The Steps with Pictures

In a large bowl, layer arugula, mozzarella balls, and onion.

For Meyer lemon vinaigrette: in a medium bowl, whisk together rice wine vinegar, olive oil, soy sauce, juice of a Meyer lemon, and salt and pepper. Add dressing to large bowl.  Toss.

Plate salad. Add peach slices around perimeter of greens.

For crispy Serrano ham: in a small nonstick pan over medium heat, toss 1 inch pieces of Serrano ham for 6-7 minutes, until crispy and slightly golden. Make sure to keep tossing the ham so it crisps evenly!

Garnish salad with crispy Serrano ham.

 

 

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Penne alla Caprese with Garlic-Shallot Oil

Summer cherry tomatoes and fresh mozzarella and basil become tenfold more drool-worthy when added to a sizzling pot of extra virgin olive oil, minced shallots and garlic, and hot pepper flakes. There’s nothing more tantalizing than the aromas of basil and garlic wafting through the air!

My inspiration for this dish was my love for the classic Caprese combo. Yet when added to pasta, I craved a sauce that complimented these flavors instead of overwhelming them. From this, the concept of a simple, shallot-garlic infused olive oil was created!

Poured over al-dente pasta, the fresh mozzarella begins to melt and your dinner companions will “ooh” and “aah.”

This Penne alla Caprese with Garlic-Shallot Oil defines big-flavor, little-work dishes.

 

Makes: 4 medium portions

The Ingredients

~3 cups good-quality cherry tomatoes, halved

1 container (~8 oz.) cigiliene mozzarella balls, drained (cut balls in half if you like smaller pieces!)

1 lb. good-quality penne (look for pasta brands that specify “100% Durham Semolina”)

1 cup fresh basil leaves, chiffonaded

1 large garlic clove, minced

2 large shallots, minced

1 teaspoon hot pepper flakes

~3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano for garnish (optional)

 

The Steps

Boil pasta according to directions on box, until al-dente. Save 1/4 cup pasta water.

Tip: I suggest lightly salting your pasta water for added flavor!

While pasta is boiling, add olive oil, garlic, shallots, and hot pepper flakes to a large pot. Simmer over low heat for 3-4 minutes. Make sure the heat is low so the garlic does not burn!

Add cherry tomatoes to simmering oil. Toss over medium/low heat for 2-3 minutes just to warm the tomatoes and intensify their flavor. Remove from heat.

Add drained pasta, pasta water, and mozzarella to olive oil and tomato mixture. Toss to combine. Mozzarella will slightly melt. Add a dash more olive oil if the pasta seems dry.

Plate, and garnish with fresh basil and Parmigiano-Reggiano.

You’ll want a piece of crusty bread to soak up that left0ver sauce!

 

The Steps with Pictures

Boil pasta according to directions on box, until al-dente. Save 1/4 cup pasta water.

Tip: I suggest lightly salting your pasta water for added flavor!

While pasta is boiling, add olive oil, garlic, shallots, and hot pepper flakes to a large pot. Simmer over low heat for 3-4 minutes. Make sure the heat is low so the garlic does not burn!

Add cherry tomatoes to simmering oil. Toss over medium/low heat for 2-3 minutes just to warm the tomatoes and intensify their flavor. Remove from heat.

Add drained pasta, pasta water, and mozzarella to olive oil and tomato mixture. Toss to combine. Mozzarella will slightly melt. Add a dash more olive oil if the pasta seems dry.

Plate, and garnish with fresh basil and Parmigiano-Reggiano.

You’ll want a piece of crusty bread to soak up that left0ver sauce!

 

 

 

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Authentic Spaghetti Alla Carbonara

 

My mind was blown. Accustomed to the heavy cream sauce of Americanized carbonara, I quickly learned that Italians get quite upset when cream is added to their staple pasta dish, Carbonara.

When I was in Italy, I remember visiting a small cafe for lunch; this was my first time experiencing all that is… authentic Spaghetti Alla Carbonara. Perfectly al dente pasta, intertwined with velvety egg yolks, coupled with bits of crispy pancetta, the subtle heat of freshly ground pepper, and of course, finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

This recipe is just that: no cream, no frills, just simply Authentic Spaghetti Alla Carbonara.

 

Portion: 4 dinner servings

The Ingredients

8 ounces diced pancetta (or guancale, a fattier cut of meat)

4 egg yolks

1 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for garnishing

2 teaspoons coarsely ground pepper

1 lb. spaghetti (or bucatini, a thicker spaghetti)

 

The Steps

Begin cooking pasta. While pasta is boiling, sauté the pancetta in a medium pot for 3-4 minutes until slightly crisp and lightly golden. Turn heat off.

In a medium bowl, combine cheese, coarsely ground pepper, and egg yolks. Whisk 1 1/4 cup pasta water into egg mixture to temper.

Drain pasta. Turn pancetta to low heat, add pasta to the pancetta, and toss.

Remove from heat, and immediately add egg mixture. Toss again.

Plate immediately with more cheese to garnish.

What a game changer!

 

The Steps with Pictures

Begin cooking pasta. While pasta is boiling, sauté the pancetta in a medium pot for 3-4 minutes until slightly crisp and lightly golden. Turn heat off.

In a medium bowl, combine cheese, coarsely ground pepper, and egg yolks. Whisk 1 1/4 cup pasta water into egg mixture to temper.

Drain pasta. Turn pancetta to low heat, add pasta to the pancetta, and toss.

Remove from heat, and immediately add egg mixture. Toss again.

Plate immediately with more cheese to garnish.

What a game changer!

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Panzanella Salad

 

Tuscany is famous for their mouthwatering heirloom tomato and bread salad, also known as Panzanella. After traveling to Italy and eating these salads almost as frequently as I ate gelato, I arrived home craving the incredible flavors of Panzanella.

Gasp…I’ve recreated these flavors for you today! This traditional recipe features chunks of ripe tomatoes, fresh sweet corn, thinly sliced red onion, and chunks of Parmigiano-Regianno – a combination that will bring Italy to your home. A perfect dinner salad, this Panzanella will hit all your sweet, salty, and savory taste buds.

 

Makes: 4 dinner portions

The Ingredients

6 heirloom tomatoes, cored and cut in large chunks

2 packages romaine hearts, in bite-sized pieces

6 ears fresh sweet corn, off the cob

Small red onion, halved and in paper-thin slices

4 pickling cucumbers, in 1/2 inch slices

½ lb. Parmigiano-Regianno, cut into small chunks (or Grana Padano for a slightly cheaper, but just as delicious option)

2 cubanelle peppers, cored, seeded, and cut into strips

2 loaves bread boules (my favorite brand is Ecce Panis Neo-Tuscan Boules!)

~¼ cup good-quality red wine vinegar (a bit more if seems dry…aim for a 50:50 vinegar/olive oil ratio for this recipe!)

~¼ cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling (a bit more if seems dry)

Salt and pepper

 

The Steps

In a large bowl, layer romaine, tomatoes, corn, onion, cucumber, and Parmigiano-Regianno.

In a small bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup red wine vinegar and 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil. Add more later in 50:50 ratio if you like more dressing!

For Cubanelle roasted peppers: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place pepper strips on cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, and roast for about 45 minutes, until pepper are soft and shriveled.

For bread bites: Preheat oven on high broil setting and place oven rack on top shelf. Take boules, cut off the bottom crusts of both boules, and hollow out the inside of the loaves using your hands. Tear the hollowed-out softer center into 2 inch chunks. Place on cookie sheet and drizzle olive oil on top. Place cookie sheet on top wire rack of preheated oven. Let bread toast for about 4 minutes, until lightly golden. Remove from oven and flip bread bites so un-toasted sides are face-up. Put back in oven for another 3-4 minutes until lightly golden. Remove from oven and set aside.

Place roasted peppers in large bowl with other ingredients. Drizzle dressing from small bowl into the large bowl. Toss salad. Add salt and pepper to taste. Plate salad, and top with bread bites along with some freshly ground pepper. Wow, wow, wow.

 

The Steps with Pictures

In a large bowl, layer romaine, tomatoes, corn, onion, cucumber, and Parmigiano-Regianno.

In a small bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup red wine vinegar and 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil. Add more later in 50:50 ratio if you like more dressing!

For Cubanelle roasted peppers: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place pepper strips on cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, and roast for about 45 minutes, until pepper are soft and shriveled.

For bread bites: Preheat oven on high broil setting and place oven rack on top shelf. Take boules, cut off the bottom crusts of both boules, and hollow out the inside of the loaves using your hands. Tear the hollowed-out softer center into 2 inch chunks. Place on cookie sheet and drizzle olive oil on top. Place cookie sheet on top wire rack of preheated oven. Let bread toast for about 4 minutes, until lightly golden. Remove from oven and flip bread bites so un-toasted sides are face-up. Put back in oven for another 3-4 minutes until lightly golden. Remove from oven and set aside.

Place roasted peppers in large bowl with other ingredients. Drizzle dressing from small bowl into the large bowl. Toss salad. Add salt and pepper to taste. Plate salad, and top with bread bites along with some freshly ground pepper. Wow, wow, wow.

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Thai-Style Pork Satay, Sautéed Bok Choy, and Peanut Sauce

With Thai-Style Peanut Sauce comes Thai-style marinated Pork (Or Chicken) Satay. Crispy bits of char on the outside and juicy meat on the inside makes Satay with Peanut Sauce the perfect summer picnic dipping combo or fun family-style dinner.

Want some Thai-influenced sides to fill your plate? Try my flavor-packed greens: sautéed sesame boy choy infused with sesame oil, garlic, and a dash of hot pepper flakes. If you haven’t tried bok choy, you’re missing out on a healthy alternative to standard greens!

And of course, don’t forget sticky rice!

 

 The Ingredients

2 pork tenderloins, cut in half and then in fourths lengthwise (or 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts)

½ cup Soy Vay

12 baby bok choy, halved

3 tablespoons sesame/canola oil blend

1 large garlic clove, slivered

½ teaspoon hot pepper flakes

1 ½ cups short grain sticky rice (brown rice for a healthier option)

*Peanut sauce ingredients: LINK

 

The Steps

For pork (or chicken): immediately before grilling, marinate both sides of the pork (or chicken) on a cookie sheet or plate covered with Soy Vay. Grill pork (or chicken) on high for 3 minutes per side (6 minutes total), or until meat thermometer tests at 165 degrees.

Tip: Keep pork (or chicken) warm by placing pieces in a preheated oven at 170 degrees covered in a foil pouch to lock in moisture.

For bok choy: in a large pot, add sesame/canola oil blend, garlic, and hot pepper flakes. Bring to a simmer on medium/low heat. Add boy choy halves and cover. Let sauté, occasionally tossing, for 6-7 minutes until tender.

For sticky rice: steam as directed on back of rice container!

For peanut sauce: refer to my post!

http://www.tastefullygrace.com/2017/08/07/thai-style-peanut-sauce/

 

The Steps with Pictures

For pork (or chicken): immediately before grilling, marinate both sides of the pork (or chicken) on a cookie sheet or plate covered with Soy Vay. Grill pork (or chicken) on high for 3 minutes per side (6 minutes total), or until meat thermometer tests at 165 degrees.

Tip: Keep pork (or chicken) warm by placing pieces in a preheated oven at 170 degrees covered in a foil pouch to lock in moisture.

For bok choy: in a large pot, add sesame/canola oil blend, garlic, and hot pepper flakes. Bring to a simmer on medium/low heat. Add boy choy halves and cover. Let sauté, occasionally tossing, for 6-7 minutes until tender.

For sticky rice: steam as directed on back of rice container!

For peanut sauce: refer to my post!

http://www.tastefullygrace.com/2017/08/07/thai-style-peanut-sauce/

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Bruschetta Three Ways

Bruschetta: a staple of an Italian antipasto plate. Thick slices of toasted, crusty bread, drizzled with olive oil, rubbed with garlic, and garnished with a variety of Mediterranean toppings.

Although it’s difficult to narrow down my absolute favorite bruschetta toppings, Heirloom Tomatoes and Basil, Olive Oil Tuna Salad, and Garlic-Herb White Bean are classically irresistible.

Make one topping or all three, this summer sensation is fabulous for a family or friends get-together. Let your guests add spoonfuls of their favorite topping to slices of crusty ciabatta.

Picnic perfection!

Makes: for 4 people

The Ingredients

For bread base:

1 large loaf crusty ciabatta (I especially like olive oil ciabatta!)

2 peeled cloves garlic

~1/2 cup olive oil

For tomato-basil bruschetta:

6 medium heirloom tomatoes, cored and chopped in bite-sized pieces

~1/2 cup basil, chiffonaded

For olive oil tuna salad:

3 cans Italian olive oil tuna, drained (Genova is my favorite brand for this bruschetta!)

1/2 small red onion, finely diced

1 pickling cucumber, finely diced

1/2 cup celery hearts, finely diced

1/3 cup scallions, minced

~1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 lemon

Salt and pepper to taste

For garlic-herb white beans:

1 lb. dried Cannellini (white) beans

9 garlic cloves (3 peeled whole, 6 finely minced)

3 large sprigs rosemary

3 large sprigs thyme

~1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

 

The Steps

For olive oil tuna salad:

With a fork, combine tuna, onion, cucumber, celery hearts, scallions, and olive oil in a medium bowl. Break up tuna with fork!

Squeeze juice of lemon, and add salt and pepper to toss. Mix well.

Tip: Keeps in fridge covered with plastic wrap for up to 5 days!

For garlic-herb white beans:

In a medium pot, add beans. Add 3 whole cloves garlic, rosemary, and thyme (no need to take off stems!). Add cold water until beans are covered by about an inch of water. Cover pot and turn heat on medium/low heat. Simmer and occasionally stir for about 30 minutes, adding more water so beans are submerged any time the beans begin to show above the water line. Repeat process of adding water about every 30 minutes for 2 hours. After about two hours, test beans for doneness. They should be tender but not falling apart. Do not add water the last 20 minutes or so of simmering! You don’t want watering, tender beans!

Remove from heat. Take out stems of herbs and garlic cloves.

Add 6 minced garlic cloves and olive oil. Stir, and add more olive oil if beans seem dry.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Tip: Keeps in fridge covered with plastic wrap for up to a week!

For bread base:

Turn oven on broil high. Place 1 inch slices of ciabatta on cookie sheet drizzled with olive oil. Rub both sides of bread with olive oil. Place in broiler about 3 minutes per side (about 6 minutes in total) until lightly golden.

Remove from oven and rub one side of each piece of bread with garlic clove.

Suggestion: place 3 pieces of toasted bread on each plate, and top one with tomatoes and basil, one with olive oil tuna salad, and one with garlic-herb white beans. Serve with a chilled glass rosé (see yesterday’s post for an incredibly delicious, inexpensive rosé suggestion!)

 

The Steps with Pictures

For olive oil tuna salad:

With a fork, combine tuna, onion, cucumber, celery hearts, scallions, and olive oil in a medium bowl. Break up tuna with fork!

Squeeze juice of lemon, and add salt and pepper to taste. Toss well.

Tip: Keeps in fridge covered with plastic wrap for up to 5 days!

For garlic-herb white beans:

In a medium pot, add beans. Add 3 whole cloves garlic, rosemary, and thyme (no need to take off stems!). Add cold water until beans are covered by about an inch of water. Cover pot and turn heat on medium/low heat. Simmer and occasionally stir for about 30 minutes, adding more water so beans are submerged any time the beans begin to show above the water line. Repeat process of adding water about every 30 minutes for 2 hours. After about two hours, test beans for doneness. They should be tender but not falling apart. Do not add water the last 20 minutes or so of simmering! You don’t want watering, tender beans!

Remove from heat. Take out stems of herbs and garlic cloves.

Add 6 minced garlic cloves and olive oil. Stir, and add more olive oil if beans seem dry.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Tip: Keeps in fridge covered with plastic wrap for up to a week!

For bread base:

Turn oven on broil high. Place 1 inch slices of ciabatta on cookie sheet drizzled with olive oil. Rub both sides of bread with olive oil. Place in broiler about 3 minutes per side (about 6 minutes in total) until lightly golden.

Remove from oven and rub one side of each piece of bread with garlic clove.

Suggestion: place 3 pieces of toasted bread on each plate, and top one with tomatoes and basil, one with olive oil tuna salad, and one with garlic-herb white beans. Serve with a chilled glass rosé (see yesterday’s post for an incredibly delicious, inexpensive rosé suggestion!)

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Caprese with Heirloom Tomatoes & Buffalo Mozzarella

 

August is the month of native tomatoes which also means August is the month of the quintessential Caprese.

Start off with heirlooms. So ripe and tender, you barely even need to chew. Sweet, juicy tomatoes freshly sliced and wedged between creamy slices of buffalo mozzarella. Topped with sprigs of aromatic basil and a drizzle of balsamic, Caprese makes eating vegetables (or should I say fruit?) like eating candy.

Makes: 2 appetizer portions

The Ingredients

4 large heirloom tomatoes, washed (Cherokee Purple Tomatoes are my favorite)

1 container ovoline buffalo mozzarella OR “burrata,” a softer, creamier mozzarella  (I like BUF Creamery the best!)

6-8 sprigs fresh basil

2 tablespoons good quality balsamic (I prefer a balsamic glaze, as it’s not as acidic)

Pinch sea salt

 

The Steps

Cut tomatoes into 1/4 inch slices by slicing tomatoes on their sides. Layer on plate.

Gently rinse mozzarella ball. Cut ball into 4 slices. Layer on plate.

Garnish with fresh basil, drizzle balsamic, and add a pinch of sea salt.

Tonight, I had a lovely glass of Sangiovese (I will blog about this grape soon!) with my tomato-mozzarella masterpiece. Bon appétit!

 

The Steps

Cut tomatoes into 1/4 inch slices by slicing tomatoes on their sides. Layer on plate.

Gently rinse mozzarella ball. Cut ball into 4 slices. Layer on plate.

Garnish with fresh basil, drizzle balsamic, and add a pinch of sea salt.

 

Tonight, I had a lovely glass of Sangiovese (I will blog about this grape soon!) with my tomato-mozzarella masterpiece. Bon appétit!

 

 

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Authentic Gazpacho with Crispy Serrano Ham

When I think of my favorite Spanish cuisine, I think of a shallow bowl of gazpacho, topped with crispy bits of Serrano ham. Oh my goodness.

Contrary to what I originally thought, the gazpacho I had in Spain wasn’t often thickened by chunks of puréed bread. Smooth and velvety, the gazpacho I loved most was simply juicy ripe tomatoes and other veggies as well as a generous helping of extra virgin olive oil for creaminess. Contrasted with a dash of sherry wine vinegar for tartness and a pinch of cayenne, this gazpacho is truly liquid heaven.

Garnished with bits of crisps Serrano ham and drizzled with olive oil, this bowl is suited for a king.

 

The Ingredients

4 slices Serrano ham (or prosciutto), cut into 1/2 inch pieces

2 pounds ripe heirloom tomatoes, cored and in chunks

1 Cubanelle (or Anaheim) green pepper, in chunks

1 medium cucumber (or two small pickling cucumbers), peeled and in chunks

1 small red onion

1 clove garlic

2 1/2 teaspoons sherry wine vinegar

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon cayenne

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (plus more for drizzling)

1 small handful of fresh chives

 

The Steps

In a blender, combine tomatoes, cucumber, pepper, onion, and garlic. Pulse mixture in blender on high for 1 minute. Then blend on high for 2-3 minutes until completely smooth. Occasionally scrape down sides of blender with spatula.

Keep blender running and add the vinegar, salt, cayenne and olive oil. Mixture will turn bright orange or dark red, depending on the region your extra virgin olive oil is from. If the mixture seems watery, add a 1/4 cup more of olive oil.

Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.

In a small saucepan, lightly brown ham on medium/low heat for 2-3 minutes. Continuously toss to make sure the ham doesn’t burn!

Serve in shallow bowls with a sprinkle of ham, snipped chives, and a drizzle of olive oil.

Tip: keeps in glass bowl (without ham) covered with plastic wrap for up to one week!

 

The Steps with Pictures

In a blender, combine tomatoes, cucumber, pepper, onion, and garlic. Pulse mixture in blender on high for 1 minute. Then blend on high for 2-3 minutes until completely smooth. Occasionally scrape down sides of blender with spatula.

Keep blender running and add the vinegar, salt, and olive oil. Mixture will turn bright orange or dark red, depending on the region your extra virgin olive oil is from. If the mixture seems watery, add a 1/4 cup more of olive oil.

Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.

In a small saucepan, lightly brown ham on medium/low heat for 2-3 minutes. Continuously toss to make sure the ham doesn’t burn!

Serve in shallow bowls with a sprinkle of ham, snipped chives, and a drizzle of olive oil.

Tip: keeps in glass bowl (without ham) covered with plastic wrap for up to one week!

 

 

 

 

 

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Citrus Peppercorn Smoked Salmon

Cooked salmon is my go-to healthy meal, but in the summer I want something cool! The best of both worlds is in this one recipe. A chilled summer snack or refreshing start to your dinner, my recipe for Citrus Peppercorn Smoked Salmon brings salmon from boring to brilliant!

I must be honest; I used to hate smoked salmon! But this preparation changed my opinion forever. Why? How could this be?

The juicy, clean flavor of segmented naval oranges, the crunch of freshly shaved cucumber, the bursts of heat from peppercorns, the tender, light meatiness of good-quality smoked salmon…topped with extra virgin olive oil and chives? Smoked salmon never was this cool.

In a rush? Impress in just a few steps! I promise. It’s easy.

Makes: 2 appetizer-sized portions

The Ingredients

1 packet citrus peppercorn smoked salmon (my favorite brand by far: Charlie Trotter!)

*Note: if you can’t find citrus peppercorn smoked salmon, no worries! Choose a good-quality non-flavored smoked salmon and just add a 4-5 peppercorns to the top of your dish and perhaps a teaspoon of the zest of the oranges you use!

2 ripe naval or cara cara oranges (the orange should have some “give” when you squeeze it to know it’s ripe!)

2 pickling cucumbers (or substitute for one regular cucumber)

Small handful of chives

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

 

The Steps

Peel back smoked salmon packaging, and slice salmon into 2-3 inch pieces. Roll pieces in spirals and place in center plate.

Peel oranges and remove white membrane with a paring knife. Then cut out the orange segments so there is no membrane on slices. Place the slices of one orange per plate around the outside of the smoked salmon spirals. Squeeze the juice of the remainder of the orange (without the segments) on smoked salmon.

Wash and dry cucumbers. Take a vegetable peeler and remove skin of cucumber. Then make approximately one inch slices of peeled cucumber, and place a large pinch of these slices on top of the plated smoked salmon.

Snip chives over plate. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Serve right away (with a nice glass of rosé).

*Tune in tomorrow for a Tips & Tricks tutorial on “How to Make Baby Oranges!” AKA…these delicious, membrane-free orange segments from the steps above!

 

The Steps with Pictures

Peel back smoked salmon packaging, and slice salmon into 2-3 inch pieces. Roll pieces in spirals and place in center plate.

Peel oranges and remove white membrane with a paring knife. Then cut out the orange segments so there is no membrane on slices. Place the slices of one orange per plate around the outside of the smoked salmon spirals. Squeeze the juice of the remainder of the orange (without the segments) on smoked salmon.

Wash and dry cucumbers. Take a vegetable peeler and remove skin of cucumber. Then make approximately one inch slices of peeled cucumber, and place a large pinch of these slices on top of the plated smoked salmon.

 

Snip chives over plate. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Serve right away (with a nice glass of rosé).

 

*Tune in tomorrow for a Tips & Tricks tutorial on “How to Make Baby Oranges!” AKA…these delicious, membrane-free orange segments from the steps above!

 

 

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Peanut Butter Ganache Layer Bar

 

Reese’s lovers: this is your moment. What makes Reese’s, heaven? Lightly coarse peanut butter, layered with the perfect ratio of silky chocolate. Make your own. YES, I said it. I have the recipe for you.

I can’t say this is a healthy recipe, unless you think “dark chocolate = antioxidants.” But with all healthy diets come a little indulgence. After all, it’s the weekend now!

I drool over these bars. Dream of them. Have eaten an entire plate of them by myself. These are cruel bars that won’t let you stop eating once you’ve started.

In a few simple steps, you will have created that peanut butter goodness you find in Reese’s with a slightly more sophisticated dark chocolate shell.

If I haven’t sold you yet, just try the recipe and you’ll be sold soon enough.

 

The Ingredients

1 cup and 2 heaping tablespoons smooth peanut butter (I like Teddy’s Smooth Peanut Butter!)

1 cup confectioner’s sugar

1 stick butter

1 cup graham cracker crumbs

1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips (unless you prefer sweeter chips!)

 

The Steps

In an 8×8 glass pan, line with two layers of aluminum foil so that the sides can be lifted out of the pan.

In a medium bowl, melt butter in microwave, about one minute. Add 1 cup peanut butter, confectioner’s sugar, and graham cracker crumbs. Stir to combine.

Pour mixture in lined glass pan. Set in refrigerator for 20 minutes.

Melt chocolate chips in microwaveable bowl for about 1 minute, until just melted. Add 2 heaping tablespoons of smooth peanut butter. Stir well. Let cool for 10 minutes.

Evenly spread chocolate mixture onto peanut butter mixture in glass pan.

Cool in refrigerator for 1 hour. Lift foil out of pan and peel back foil from bars.

Slice and take a bite of heaven.

 

The Steps with Pictures

In an 8×8 glass pan, line with two layers of aluminum foil so that the sides can be lifted out of the pan.

In a medium bowl, melt butter in microwave, about one minute. Add 1 cup peanut butter, confectioner’s sugar, and graham cracker crumbs. Stir to combine.

Pour mixture in lined glass pan. Set in refrigerator for 20 minutes.

Melt chocolate chips in microwaveable bowl for about 1 minute, until just melted. Add 2 heaping tablespoons of smooth peanut butter. Stir well. Let cool for 10 minutes.

Evenly spread chocolate mixture onto peanut butter mixture in glass pan.

Cool in refrigerator for 1 hour. Lift foil out of pan and peel back foil from bars.

Slice and take a bite of heaven.

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Authentic Italian Tuna and White Bean Salad

After a few trips to Italy, I DESPERATELY tried to imitate the best food I ever had in my life. A few failed attempts later, I succeeded in recreating this fabulous Italian dish! The Amalfi Coast of Italy is famous for their Tuna and White Bean Salad. Simple, clean, lemony, and ever-so summery.

Crisp Bibb lettuce, tender white beans, chunks of good-quality tuna, and the sharpness of fennel and onion: a “don’t miss” summer dish of Italy.

Go all out and listen to “Evening in Roma” as you enjoy a little slice of Italian paradise in your own backyard! Impress even the toughest Italian food critics.

Makes: two portions

The Ingredients

2 heads Bibb lettuce, separated and washed

1 fennel bulb, cored

1/2 Vidalia onion

1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

2 jars tuna in olive oil (high quality tuna here is SO important! I recommend “Tonnino Tuna Ventresca in Olive Oil”)

1 lemon

Extra virgin olive oil to drizzle

Salt and pepper to taste

 

The Steps

On two dinner-sized plates, make a one-layered bed of Bibb lettuce.

Take the fennel bulb and make thin slices using a mandolin. Evenly spread slices from one bulb to each plate.

Take your 1/2 Vidalia onion, and cut into paper-thin slices. Spread onion slices on two plates evenly.

Add drained and rinsed Cannellini beans to plates (1/2 can per plate).

Take tuna, drained, and break up in slightly smaller chunks in the center of each plate.

Squeeze 1/2 lemon evenly over each plate. Beware of seeds!

Generously drizzle olive oil over each plate.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper (I personally like quite a bit of pepper on this!).

Let the tastes of Italy fill your soul!

 

The Steps with Pictures

On two dinner-sized plates, make a one-layered bed of Bibb lettuce.

Take the fennel bulb and make thin slices using a mandolin. Evenly spread slices from one bulb to each plate.

Take your 1/2 Vidalia onion, and cut into paper-thin slices. Spread onion slices on two plates evenly.

Add drained and rinsed Cannellini beans to plates (1/2 can per plate).

Take tuna, drained, and break up in slightly smaller chunks in the center of each plate.

Squeeze 1/2 lemon evenly over each plate. Beware of seeds!

Generously drizzle olive oil over each plate.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper (I personally like quite a bit of pepper on this!).

Let the tastes of Italy fill your soul!

2 Comments

  1. Joshua Colon
    August 2, 2017 / 1:25 pm

    Looks delicious! I’m going to have to try this at home.

    • TastefullyGrace
      August 2, 2017 / 1:28 pm

      Hi Joshua,

      Thanks for the comment:) Let me know what you think!

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Grilled Chicken Parmesan

Chicken parm: a dish that’s hard not to love but notoriously unhealthy. How about a Grilled Chicken Parm that’s hard not to love but healthy? Yes, I’d keep reading, too.

Most chicken parmesan recipes are breaded, but what if you replaced this flavorless coating with the juicy, lightly charred taste of a grilled chicken cutlet? Topped with gooey (but low-fat) provolone cheese and a simple homemade marina sauce, my chicken parmesan will change the “bad rep” of this Italian favorite forever. Tastefully tremendous!

Makes: 2 dinner portions

The Ingredients

2 (1/2 lb.) chicken cutlets (otherwise known as filleted boneless skinless chicken breasts)

5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

14 oz. (1/2 can) San Marzano crushed tomatoes

1 clove garlic, finely minced

4 slices reduced-fat provolone cheese

Optional: Parmigiano-Reggiano to garnish

Optional side: 2 large handfuls green beans, washed

Optional side: 2 pieces whole wheat ciabatta (or kalamata olive ciabatta)

 

The Steps

For marinara sauce: In a medium pot, place two tablespoons olive oil and garlic and sweat over medium heat for one minute. Add about a half of a can of good quality, San Marzano crushed tomatoes. Over low heat, simmer for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally.

For grilled chicken: Preheat grill to high heat.

On a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil (to reduce dishes to be washed!), evenly drizzle 3 tablespoons olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Lay chicken cutlets on cookie sheet and marinate both sides of cutlets with olive oil/balsamic vinegar mixture from cookie sheet.

For 3 minutes each side, grill the marinated chicken cutlets. If you prefer to go by temperature, make sure the chicken cutlets reach 160 degrees.

Remove chicken from grill and set aside on a clean, aluminum foil lined cookie sheet. Place one to two slices of provolone on each cutlet so that cutlets are covered in a single layer of cheese.

Preheat oven to 170 degrees.

Place chicken cutlets with cheese in oven for 4-5 minutes, until cheese just melts.

Plate chicken. Add a generous ladle of marinara to top of chicken. Sprinkle parmesan (if desired).

For green beans (optional): place green beans in small pot. Cover and steam in an inch of water for 8-12 minutes, until tender.

For bread (optional): place loaf of ciabatta on wire wrack in oven at 375 degrees for 5 minutes, until warm.

Smell, savor, and enjoy!

 

The Steps with Pictures

For marinara sauce: In a medium pot, place two tablespoons olive oil and garlic and sweat over medium heat for one minute. Add about a half of a can of good quality, San Marzano crushed tomatoes. Over low heat, simmer for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally.

For grilled chicken: Preheat grill to high heat.

On a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil (to reduce dishes to be washed!), evenly drizzle 3 tablespoons olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Lay chicken cutlets on cookie sheet and marinate both sides of cutlets with olive oil/balsamic vinegar mixture from cookie sheet.

For 3 minutes each side, grill the marinated chicken cutlets. If you prefer to go by temperature, make sure the chicken cutlets reach 160 degrees.

Remove chicken from grill and set aside on a clean, aluminum foil lined cookie sheet. Place one to two slices of provolone on each cutlet so that cutlets are covered in a single layer of cheese.

Preheat oven to 170 degrees.

Place chicken cutlets with cheese in oven for 4-5 minutes, until cheese just melts.

Plate chicken. Add a generous ladle of marinara to top of chicken. Sprinkle parmesan (if desired).

For green beans (optional): place green beans in small pot. Cover and steam in an inch of water for 8-12 minutes, until tender.

For bread (optional): place loaf of ciabatta on wire wrack in oven at 375 degrees for 5 minutes, until warm.

Smell, savor, and enjoy!

 

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Healthy Avocado Toast with Olive Oil Fried Egg

 

Ultra-satisfying and incredibly delicious: start your morning with the nutty, yeasty taste of a toasted whole wheat English muffin. Spread a thick layer of chunky avocado and top with an olive oil fried egg…heaven! Want to eat healthy and be satisfied every morning? Want a healthy breakfast that will stay with you all the way until lunch? Make an avocado toast breakfast sandwich with a fried egg the healthy way…fry in a splash of olive oil with crispy whites and a thick, buttery yolk.

 

Makes: 4 avocado toasts

The Ingredients

4 large eggs

4 whole wheat English muffins

1 avocado sliced (refer to the Tips & Tricks section for slicing an avocado with ease!)

A few tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Optional: 4 mini slices extra sharp cheddar cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

 

The Steps

For Olive Oil Fried Egg: Lightly coat a non-stick pan with olive oil. Crack up to two eggs in pan. On medium/low heat, fry first side of egg until lightly brown (2-4 minutes). Be careful! Hot oil will spatter. Flip egg and fry other side for 1-2 minutes, until lightly brown. For no yolk runniness, stab yolk with spatula after side one has cooked.

For toast: toast English muffin until golden, so that the muffin will not get soggy when avocado is spread.

Place 3-4 slides of avocado on toast. With the back of a fork, lightly smash and spread avocado, leaving some chunks. Add mini slice of sharp cheddar (optional). Add warm fried olive oil egg.

Lightly salt and pepper. Place English muffin tops on egg (for the sandwich option), or to cut down on carbs, leave open-faced!

Serve right away while the English muffin is fresh and crispy! Add a peeled orange to your plate for a vitamin C boost and the perfect, bright and acidic complement to this morning favorite. Or try some seasonal blueberries!

 

The Steps with Pictures

For Olive Oil Fried Egg: Lightly coat a non-stick pan in olive oil. Crack an egg in pan. On medium/low heat, fry first side of egg until lightly brown (2-4minutes). Flip egg and fry other side for 1-2 more minutes, until lightly brown. For no yolk runniness, stab yolk with spatula after side one has cooked.

For toast: toast English muffin until golden, so that the muffin will not get soggy when avocado is spread.

Place 3-4 slides of avocado on toast. With the back of a fork, lightly smash and spread avocado, leaving some chunks. Add mini slice of sharp cheddar (optional). Add warm fried egg.

Lightly salt and pepper. Place English muffin tops on egg (for the sandwich option), or to cut down on carbs, leave open-faced!

Serve right away while the English muffin is fresh and crispy! Add a peeled orange to your plate for a vitamin C boost and the perfect, bright and acidic complement to this morning favorite. Or try some seasonal blueberries!

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Poached Salmon with Black Currant Vinaigrette and Sautéed Spinach

This recipe was my “claim to fame” on the Connecticut Channel 3 program, Better CT, back in May! Salmon that’s poached retains its moisture, creating an especially tender fillet. Topped with juicy currants in a tart vinaigrette to counter the salmon’s richness, this salmon dish is simple enough to make as a weekday meal, but impressive enough to serve for dinner guests. And don’t forget some smoky bacon on top if you’re feeling naughty!

Don’t forget your veggies, my mom always told me! BUT let me change the “veggie hate” with one of my favorite veggie preparations: sautéed spinach. Simple enough to prep in minutes but yummy enough that even the world’s pickiest eater may fall in love.

Please entertain yourself with the demo video that landed me a spot on TV! Yes, I give you permission to laugh at me…almost spilling my dish on the counter, and my french fries [attempt at a] joke.

 

https://youtu.be/o05LR2XYy3I

P.S. to those in Connecticut: tune in to Better CT tomorrow, July 13th, at 3pm to Channel 3 for a TastefullyGrace cooking segment!

Want to skip the video and cut to the chase? Here’s the recipe:

The Ingredients

(For two servings)

2 1/3-pound salmon fillets, skinned

½ cup dry white wine

1 package baby spinach

4 ounces uncooked Applewood smoked bacon, sliced into thin ½ inch pieces

½ cups finely chopped celery hearts

1 large shallot, minced

2 tablespoons black currants

1 tablespoon sherry wine vinegar

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus a few tablespoons to sauté spinach

1 large garlic clove, finely minced

Pinch of hot pepper flakes

Snipped chives to garnish

Dash of salt and pepper to taste

The Steps

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

For bacon (optional): In a skillet over medium heat, sauté bacon until gold brown and lightly crispy. Place cooked bacon in a paper towel-lined bowl to cool.

For salmon: In an 8×8 glass pan, place salmon fillets skin-side down and add wine. Add cold water to the pan until fillets are barely covered in water. Place uncovered pan into oven and let poach for 20-25 minutes for medium. Remove salmon from liquid as soon as fillets are cooked with a slotted spatula.

For vinaigrette: Begin vinaigrette by adding ¼ cup olive oil and shallot to a small saucepan over medium heat. Sauté until translucent, about one minute. Add celery, currants, sherry wine vinegar, and salt and pepper. Stir until just warm.

For sautéed spinach: In a large pot, add olive oil just to coat the bottom of the pot, hot pepper flakes, and garlic. Add all spinach. Over medium heat, toss spinach until wilted. Remove from heat.

To serve: To plate, use tongs to make a bed of spinach. Place salmon fillets on top of spinach beds. Spoon warm vinaigrette over the salmon. Garnish with bacon (optional) and snipped chives. Smell…taste…and enjoy with a nice glass of sauvignon blanc or pinot noir!

The Steps with Video

Just me and my video crew (AKA me and my laptop):

https://youtu.be/o05LR2XYy3I

 

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Summer Rigatoni: Cherry Tomato, Fresh Mozzarella, Pancetta, Sweet Corn and Basil

There’s nothing more soulful than a bowl of al dente pasta.

Filled with seasonal ingredients, this rigatoni dish plays off a classic caprese preparation – tomato, fresh mozzarella and basil – with a twist. Adding bits of salty pancetta and sweet corn freshly husked from the cob bring farm fresh ingredients, and family, rushing to the dinner table.

When [not] in Rome, eat like you’re in Rome!

The Ingredients

1 lb. good quality rigatoni

~6 oz. uncured diced pancetta

~2 cups halved cherry tomatoes (2 containers)

3/4 cup fresh sweet corn, off the cob

1 cup halved cilieginie-sized fresh mozzarella balls (try buffalo milk mozzarella!)

5 shallots, minced

1 clove garlic, finely minced

1 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 knob salted butter

¼ tbsp. crushed red pepper flakes

½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Fresh basil for garnish

The Steps

Place pancetta in large pot, no olive oil needed. Sautee on medium/low heat until pancetta just begins to brown and is chewy, not crispy. Remove pancetta and set aside.

Boil pasta in separate pot until al dente, according to directions on box. Reserve ¼ cup of pasta water.

While pasta is boiling, add olive oil, shallots, garlic, and hot pepper flakes to pot with pancetta drippings. Sweat on low heat until translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Increase heat to medium/low, and add cherry tomatoes, corn, and pancetta. Sautee for about 4-5 minutes, until tomato skins just begin to wrinkle. Remove from heat.

Add pasta to tomato mixture. Add pasta water, butter, and Parmigiano-Reggiano. Gently toss until combined.

Plate and garnish with mozzarella balls and basil.

The Steps with Pictures

Place pancetta in large pot, no olive oil needed. Sautee on medium/low heat until pancetta just begins to brown and is chewy, not crispy. Remove pancetta and set aside.

Boil pasta in separate pot until al dente, according to directions on box. Reserve ¼ cup of pasta water.

While pasta is boiling, add olive oil, shallots, garlic, and hot pepper flakes to pot with pancetta drippings. Sweat on low heat until translucent, about 2-3 minutes.

Increase heat to medium/low, and add cherry tomatoes, corn, and pancetta. Sautee for about 4-5 minutes, until tomato skins just begin to wrinkle. Remove from heat.

Add pasta to tomato mixture. Add pasta water, butter, and Parmigiano-Reggiano. Gently toss until combined.

Plate and garnish with mozzarella balls and basil.

 

4 Comments

  1. Tiffany
    July 11, 2017 / 11:31 pm

    Looks amazing! Can’t wait to make this for the family!!

    • TastefullyGrace
      July 19, 2017 / 7:26 pm

      Glad you like it, Tiffany!

  2. Barbara
    July 13, 2017 / 7:26 pm

    I watched you make this on Better Connecticut today, and now I can’t wait to make it. Thank you!

    • TastefullyGrace
      July 14, 2017 / 7:07 pm

      Thank you so much Barbara!

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Caesar Salad with Garlic-Infused Olive Oil Croutons

Looking for a healthy summer meal that actually makes your mouth water? Or want to go to a summer picnic with the winning dish that makes everyone drool?

This Caesar Salad is summer friendly: fresh, cool, and light. Didn’t think lettuce could ever be your favorite food? This salad is a game-changer.

Homemade garlic-infused olive oil croutons that are crunchy and chewy and soft, all in one bite. Dressing that’s bright and lemony. Add some nutty, salty Parmesan (or splurge, with Parmigiano-Reggianno) cheese, and you have yourself a party in your mouth!

I’ve done the experimentation for you, and now I Grace you (please laugh) with a list of ingredients and steps to salad heaven.

Makes two dinner portions (for you and you, or you and a lucky person)

Ingredients

2 packages of romaine hearts, washed and torn into bite-sized pieces

1 lemon

1 cup grated parmesan cheese (feeling fancy? get the special stuff…Parmigiano-Reggianno)

2 medium garlic cloves

6 dashes Tabasco

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

2 cups extra virgin olive oil

5 slices soft oatmeal bread (I prefer Pepperidge Farm’s Farmhouse Oatmeal Bread), crusts removed, cut in 1/2 inch pieces

3 slices soft pumpernickel bread (I prefer Pepperidge Farm here, too!), crusts removed, cut in 1/2 inch pieces

Salt & pepper to taste

Optional: 2 chicken breasts, grilled

The Steps

For dressing: in a medium glass bowl, whisk together juice of the lemon, 1 minced garlic clove, Tabasco, Worcestershire sauce, 1 1/4 cups olive oil, and salt and pepper. Tip: don’t over-salt because the cheese is salty!

For croutons: in a nonstick pan over low burner, heat 3/4 cup olive oil and garlic clove peeled and slivered. Add cubed bread to lightly simmering oil. Over medium/low heat, use a spatula to lightly press and turn croutons, so croutons absorb oil and evenly toast. Keep turning and toasting for 8-10 minutes, or until croutons are golden. Remove garlic slivers after toasting.

For Assembly: In a large bowl, toss lettuce, whisked dressing, and Parmesan. If the lettuce seems dry, drizzle a bit more olive oil and toss once again. Plate your masterpiece, topping generously with croutons and perhaps a bit more cheese! Crack some freshly ground pepper, and slices grilled chicken breast (if you so choose).

Salads don’t get better than this.

The Steps with Pictures

For dressing: in a medium glass bowl, whisk together juice of the lemon, 1 minced garlic clove, Tabasco, Worcestershire sauce, 1 1/4 cups olive oil, and salt and pepper. Tip: don’t over-salt because the cheese is salty!

For croutons: in a nonstick pan over low burner, heat 3/4 cup olive oil and garlic clove peeled and slivered. Add cubed bread to lightly simmering oil. Over medium/low heat, use a spatula to lightly press and turn croutons, so croutons absorb oil and evenly toast. Keep turning and toasting for 8-10 minutes, or until croutons are golden. Remove garlic slivers after toasting.

For Assembly: In a large bowl, toss lettuce, whisked dressing, and Parmesan. If the lettuce seems dry, drizzle a bit more olive oil and toss once again. Plate your masterpiece, topping generously with croutons and perhaps a bit more cheese! Crack some freshly ground pepper, and slices grilled chicken breast (if you so choose).

Salads don’t get better than this.

 

4 Comments

  1. July 20, 2017 / 3:48 pm

    I am enormously impressed with your writing skills and also with the layout by your weblog. Is this a paid theme or did you customize it yourself? Anyway file cheery the admirable class writing, it is odd to see a nice blog like this one today

    • TastefullyGrace
      July 20, 2017 / 10:32 pm

      Thank you so much! I paid for the theme but I created the blog off that theme myself. Lots of fun:) So glad you like the posts. Spread the word! Thanks again!

  2. July 23, 2017 / 7:05 pm

    Thanks for posting this. I’ve been following your content for
    some time and it constantly brings me back! I’m a long time
    follower, but I have never been compelled to leave a comment before.
    Thank you for the cool content.

    • TastefullyGrace
      July 24, 2017 / 10:43 pm

      I’m thrilled you are enjoying the posts! Thank you for following…I truly appreciate it. Spread the word 🙂

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