Monday, July 21, 2014

Cedar Plank Lemon Pepper Salmon with Dill Yogurt and Crispy Capers

If I had to choose one ingredient that I absolutely love, it would be lemons. They work perfectly in salad dressings, marinades, sauces, desserts...the list goes on. This weekend I was fortunate enough to be asked to judge a BBQ competition and the mystery category was salmon (woo!). We were served a wide variety of flavor combinations, but the other chefs and I agreed that the best way to serve salmon is simply seasoned so you can really taste the salmon itself. This recipe offers a good balance of smoky (cedar), zingy (lemon zest), salty (capers) and creamy (yogurt). Serve with brown rice and veggies for a balanced, heart-healthy meal!




1. Preheat grill to medium-high.
2. Place salmon (skin side down) on the cedar plank and top with lemon pepper, lemon zest and garlic. Drizzle with olive oil and place on the grill. Cover the grill and cook until salmon is cooked through, around 20-30 minutes.



3. Meanwhile, combine the yogurt ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.

4. Pour 1/2 to 1-inch of canola oil in a small saucepan and turn heat to medium-high. Dry capers thoroughly on a paper towel. Working in 2 batches, fry the capers for 2 minutes, moving them around gently with a slotted spoon. Drain on paper towels and cool slightly. Transfer to a bowl.





5. Finish salmon with the juice of the remaining lemon half. Serve each portion with a dollop of yogurt and a sprinkle of crispy capers.



Cedar Plank Lemon Pepper Salmon with Dill Yogurt and Crispy Capers
Serves 4

All you need:
1 cedar plank, soaked in water for at least 1 hour
1-1/2 pounds fresh salmon
2 tablespoons lemon pepper seasoning
Zest of 1 lemon
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil

Yogurt
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons fresh dill
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Salt and pepper, to taste

1 (3 oz.) jar capers, drained
Canola oil, for frying

All you do:
1. Preheat grill to medium-high.
2. Place salmon (skin side down) on the cedar plank and top with lemon pepper, lemon zest and garlic. Drizzle with olive oil and place on the grill. Cover the grill and cook until salmon is cooked through, around 20-30 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, combine the yogurt ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.
4. Pour 1/2 to 1-inch of canola oil in a small saucepan and turn heat to medium-high. Dry capers thoroughly on a paper towel. Working in 2 batches, fry the capers for 2 minutes, moving them around gently with a slotted spoon. Drain on paper towels and cool slightly. Transfer to a bowl.
5. Finish salmon with the juice of the remaining lemon half. Serve each portion with a dollop of yogurt and a sprinkle of crispy capers.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Lemon-Berry Chia Seed Mini Muffins

This is the perfect time of year to find good deals on fresh berries. Or, you could be lucky enough to be growing some yourself (one lady in my cooking class tonight said she picked 5 cups of raspberries in her garden today!).  

These muffins are a celebration of freshness. The fresh lemon zest and juice combined with the sweet berries is match made in heaven. The yogurt and applesauce provide the right amount of moisture and the chia seeds give a slight crunch. Pack these in snack baggies for a nutritious breakfast on-the-go! 



1. Preheat oven to 400. Coat mini muffin tin(s) with cooking spray.
2. In a large bowl, combine flour, ground almonds, baking powder, baking soda and salt.


3. In a small bowl, mix together applesauce, oil, sugar, yogurt, lemon zest and juice, vanilla and egg. Add to the dry ingredients and stir to combine.



4. Fold in chia seeds and berries. Fill the muffin tins and bake for 15 minutes, or until muffins are golden brown. Allow to cool before enjoying.







Lemon-Berry Chia Seed Mini Muffins
Makes 24 mini muffins

All you need:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup ground almonds
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 cup sugar
1 (5.3 oz.) container plain Greek yogurt
Juice and zest of 2 lemons
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
2 tablespoons chia seeds
1/4 cup each: blueberries, raspberries and blackberries
Non-stick cooking spray

All you do:
1. Preheat oven to 400. Coat mini muffin tin(s) with cooking spray.
2. In a large bowl, combine flour, ground almonds, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
3. In a small bowl, mix together applesauce, oil, sugar, yogurt, lemon zest and juice, vanilla and egg. Add to the dry ingredients and stir to combine.
4. Fold in chia seeds and berries. Fill the muffin tins and bake for 15 minutes, or until muffins are golden brown. Allow to cool before enjoying.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Marinated Tofu and Fresh Green Bean Coconut Curry

While some people look at tofu and scoff, I think it's a great protein source and can be absolutely delicious if prepared correctly. At my previous job where all the meals were vegetarian, we were constantly thinking of ways to this soybean wonder (and the tofu we got in Chicago from Phoenix Bean was fabulous, by the way). Besides being great in stir-fries and curries, I've used tofu in tacos, rice dishes and even smoothies. 

In this recipe, I decided to use all the traditional thai flavors - fish sauce, lime juice, soy sauce, coconut milk - but I included canned pumpkin in the sauce as well for added nutrition and richness (who says it's just for Thanksgiving?). And this meal is even better then next day - cold or hot.



1. Preheat oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with parchment or silpat.
2. Combine tofu marinade in a small bowl. Place cubed tofu in the marinade and refrigerate for 30 minutes.




3. Arrange tofu on the baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for 35 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, whisk sauce ingredients together in a medium bowl and set aside.


5. Heat oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add green beans and cook until slightly golden, about 3-4 minutes. Add sauce to the green beans and bring mixture to a boil; reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. After sauce has reduced by half, stir in fresh basil.



6. To serve, place rice noodles in each bowl and top with the green bean mixture, warm tofu and a drizzle of more sauce. Finish with chopped cashews.


Marinated Tofu and Fresh Green Bean Coconut Curry
Serves 4

All you need:
1 (18 oz.) package extra-firm tofu, pressed dry and cubed

Marinade
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons water

Sauce
2 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
2 tablespoons red curry paste
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1 (13.5 oz.) can coconut milk
Juice of 1 lime

2 tablespoons canola oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound fresh green beans, ends trimmed

5 fresh basil leaves, chopped
16 oz. rice noodles, softened in boiling water for 8-10 minutes and drained
2 tablespoons chopped cashews

All you do:
1. Preheat oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with parchment or silpat.
2. Combine tofu marinade in a small bowl. Place cubed tofu in the marinade and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
3. Arrange tofu on the baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for 35 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, whisk sauce ingredients together in a medium bowl and set aside.
5. Heat oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add green beans and cook until slightly golden, about 3-4 minutes. Add sauce to the green beans and bring mixture to a boil; reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. After sauce has reduced by half, stir in fresh basil.
6. To serve, place rice noodles in each bowl and top with the green bean mixture, warm tofu and a drizzle of more sauce. Finish with chopped cashews.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Fresh Mozzarella and Corn Garlic Toasts with Basil-Balsamic Drizzle

Today at work I noticed our deli was having a "fresh mozzarella pull" event and I couldn't help but buy some! I hadn't had really fresh mozzarella since culinary school, and it truly is a treat. 

I love thinking up fun flavor combinations to put on toast. These mini garlic toasts make the perfect appetizer or side dish for chicken or steak. The sweet corn and sundried tomatoes are a perfect match for the salty cheese and fresh basil-balsamic vinaigrette that gets drizzled over the top. This is a great way to celebrate sweet corn season which is right on the horizon (aka my favorite part of summer)!




1. Preheat oven to 400.
2. In a blender, combine drizzle ingredients for 10 seconds. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.


3. Place bread rounds on a baking sheet and coat with cooking spray. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake until golden, 5-7 minutes. Immediately rub with garlic cloves.



4. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add minced garlic and shallot and cook for 1 minute. Add corn and sundried tomato and cook for 2 minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper and remove from heat.



5. Transfer toasts to a platter and top with mozzarella cheese slices, corn mixture and basil-balsamic drizzle.






Fresh Mozzarella and Corn Garlic Toasts with Basil-Balsamic Drizzle
Makes 8 toasts

All you need:
Drizzle
2 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar (or 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar + 1 tablespoon honey)
1/4 cup olive oil
5 fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Salt and pepper, to taste

1 small loaf fresh Italian bread, sliced into 8 rounds
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 peeled garlic cloves, 2 left whole and 2 minced
1 shallot, minced
1-1/2 cups fresh corn kernels (about 4 ears)
1/2 cup julienned sundried tomato, chopped
8 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced into 8 rounds
Non-stick cooking spray

All you do:
1. Preheat oven to 400.
2. In a blender, combine drizzle ingredients for 10 seconds. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.
3. Place bread rounds on a baking sheet and coat with cooking spray. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake until golden, 5-7 minutes. Immediately rub with garlic cloves.
4. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add minced garlic and shallot and cook for 1 minute. Add corn and sundried tomato and cook for 2 minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper and remove from heat.
5. Transfer toasts to a platter and top with mozzarella cheese slices, corn mixture and basil-balsamic drizzle.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Pan-Seared Scallops with Garlic Scape Butter

Also known as "green garlic", garlic scapes are the stalks of garlic plants. Too often farmers will throw these into the compost, but they're completely edible and add wonderful flavor to butters, sauces and vinaigrettes. This garlic scape butter is so refreshing and works perfectly on seafood, steaks and toasted French bread. If you make too much, it can be frozen for later use. But my guess is there won't be much left over!





1. Combine 2 tablespoons butter, 2 tablespoons olive oil, garlic scapes, parsley, lemon juice, cheese, salt and pepper in a food processor or blender until well combined. Transfer to a bowl.


2. Remove the small side muscle from each of the scallops, rinse with cold water and pat dry. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon butter and olive oil to a 12 to 14-inch saute pan over high heat. Salt and pepper the scallops. Once the fat begins to smoke, gently add the scallops to the pan, making sure they aren't touching (you may need to work in batches). Sear for 1-1/2 minutes per side.




3. Transfer scallops to a platter and finish with garlic-scape butter. Serve immediately.




Pan-Seared Scallops with Garlic Scape Butter
Serves 4

All you need:
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 garlic scapes, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons shredded parmigiano-reggiano cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste

12 scallops

All you do:
1. Combine 2 tablespoons butter, 2 tablespoons olive oil, garlic scapes, parsley, lemon juice, cheese, salt and pepper in a food processor or blender until well combined. Transfer to a bowl.
2. Remove the small side muscle from each of the scallops, rinse with cold water and pat dry. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon butter and olive oil to a 12 to 14-inch saute over high heat. Salt and pepper the scallops. Once the fat begins to smoke, gently add the scallops to the pan, making sure they aren't touching (you may need to work in batches). Sear for 1-1/2 minutes per side.
3. Transfer scallops to a platter and finish with garlic-scape butter. Serve immediately.