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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Shrimp Tacos with Pickled Red-Onion Salad

I found an amazing recipe today in Food and Wine magazine, from chef Dean Fearing of Dallas. I was intrigued to see barbeque sauce accompanied by pickled onion and orange all in the same recipe. To my surprise, I was blown away by the genius of the pairing. The pickled salad is sweet and tangy from the vinegar while the barbeque sauce is sweet and smokey, and full-bodied in flavor next to the light and refreshing citrus vinaigrette. The dish is well balanced and perfect for summer. I added avocado to my salad in substitution for the mango noted in the recipe, which I prefer. I think the dish needs that creamy rich component, hence the avocado. 

Click here for the recipe

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Panko Crusted Salmon with Vegetables and Soy-Orange Glaze

Good old salmon, never fails me. Salmon is a heavier, oilier fish which can stand up to bolder flavors. Salmon is always a crowd pleaser because of it's mild palatability. There are many varieties of salmon available to the consumer including Sockeye, Masu, Steelhead and Pink; however most of the salmon we eat in the U.S comes from the Atlantic ie Atlantic Salmon. For dinner tonight, I marinated my salmon fillets in a soy-orange mixture, then drugged it through a bath of egg and panko bread crumbs. As a side I blanched broccolini and carrots and tossed them with black sesame seeds, and a bit of the soy and orange reduction. Citrus and soy pair nicely together, acting as a balance between acidity, salt, and sweetness. 

Soy-Orange Reduction
Juice of 1 large orange 
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp honey or agave nectar 
1/2 cup chopped scallions
1 tsp fresh ginger 
1 tsp fresh garlic 
1/2 tsp garlic/chili paste 

In a small sauce pan, add all ingredients. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until thickened. Strain out scallion and pour over fish and or vegetables. 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Homemade Bacon and Spinach Ravioli

I am crazy for any food that has a doughy, dumpling resemblance, whether it's chinese dim sum, an Argentine empanada, a Russian pirogi or an Italian ravioli. For dinner last week, I was at odds with what to make because I had not been to the grocery store and was lacking much of the fresh produce which normally create the best meals. I found in my freezer chinese wonton wrappers and frozen spinach. In a past blog posting, I had made a goat cheese, spinach and walnut ravioli using wonton wrappers which turned out fantastic, so I know it was possible, but of course I had to change up the recipe this time around. I decided upon the seductive combination of bacon, spinach, shallot, garlic, whipped cream cheese, and parmesan for the filling. My mother had given me some of her homemade tomato sauce, so that's what I used at the bottom of my serving dishes. I love using wonton wrappers for my raviolis because the constancy of the dough creates an al-dente yet delicate quality I adore. The general recipe can be found below for your reference. 

Homemade Spinach and Bacon Ravioli 
(serves 4)

1 package thawed round wonton wrappers 
1 package thawed frozen spinach, liquid strained out
1/2-1 cup diced bacon
2 tbsp chopped shallot
2 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 cups whipped cream cheese
1/2 cup shaved parmesan cheese
2 egg whites, whipped

In a large pot, bring 6 cups water and a pinch of salt to a boil. In a separate sauce pan, cook bacon until slightly crispy. Remove bacon and dry on paper towels. Remove any excess grease, leaving a thin layer in your pan for the shallot and garlic. Saute shallot and garlic until lightly browned and aromatic. In a large bowl, (as shown in picture above) add your spinach, bacon, shallot and garlic mixture, cream cheese and parmesan. Mix until thoroughly combined. Lay your thawed wonton wrappers out on the counter. Add 1-2 tbsp filling to the middle of your wrappers and brush egg white around the outer circle. Place a plain wrapper over filled wrapper and pinch with your fingers around the edges much like you would a pie crust (be sure all edges are tightly pinched). When all of your wontons have been made, add them to your salted boiling water. Let wontons cook in boiling water about 2-4 minutes or until wrappers are tender. Strain your raviolis and plate over tomato sauce, or a light butter sauce. Garnish with a fresh herb. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Summer Corn and Avocado Salad

It's finally summer and what better to eat than fresh sweet corn? I don't know about you but I am a sucker for anything corn related. Avocados are a fantastic pairing for corn, because the corn is sweet and crispy where the avocado is buttery and rich, making them a nice counterpart in almost any dish. Tonight, I prepared a simple chopped salad using fresh Parmesan  bacon, hard boiled egg, carrots, red onion and sweet corn sliced directly off the ear. Main course salads are great in the summer because they're light, fresh, easy and don't create a heat storm in your kitchen!. Experiment with what's in season before tossing your next salad! 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Party Appetizers Galore!

Swedish Meatballs with Lingonberry Jam

Caprese with Pesto 
Turkey and Cheddar Skewers
Watermelon, Feta and Mint Skewers
Minted Pea Crostini with Bacon
Last week was filled with parties, home decorating and cleaning! I hosted a neighborhood cocktail party and housewarming all in the same week. I actually purposefully planned these two events a month after we moved in to give me motivation to get our new house in tip-top shape for our guests viewing pleasure! I wanted to keep the appetizers simple and delicious. Unfortunately, many of the appetizers I made were camera shy, so I'll talk about what is pictured above. First off, I have to admit I cannot take credit for the Swedish meatballs, my mother takes the cake for making hundreds from scratch for a wedding the week prior. I will    hunt her down for the recipe and get back to ya! I can, on the other hand take credit for the caprese, cheese, watermelon and pea bites. recipes for the pesto and pea bites below (pleasssse try the pea crostini, you'll thank me later!). 

Homemade Pesto
(makes 1-2 cups)
1 large bunch fresh basil 
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts 
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
2 garlic cloves
Olive oil

In a large food processor, add all ingredients, drizzling in the olive oil until you reach your preferred consistency. 

Minted Pea Crostini with Bacon
* Recipe courtesy of Giada De Laurentis 

(makes 6-8 servings) 


Sweet Peas:

  • 2 cups chicken broth or water
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 (16-ounce) bag frozen peas
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped mint
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 3 ounces finely diced prosciutto or bacon



For the Sweet Peas: Warm the chicken broth and red pepper flakes in a medium
saucepan over medium-high heat until the broth boils. Add the frozen peas and cook until the peas are tender, about 5 minutes. Drain the peas in a mesh sieve.
Place the peas in a food processor with the mint, salt, and pepper. Puree the pea mixture. Place the pea puree in a medium bowl and refrigerate until cool, about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, for the crostini: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Place the baguette slices on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet in a single layer. Bake in the oven until toasted and golden around the edges, about 10 minutes. While the crostini are still warm, drizzle the tops with extra-virgin olive oil. Using a whole clove of garlic in your fingertips, rub the top of the crostini a few times to give a hint of garlic.
To finish, whip the cream until stiff peaks form. Fold the whipped cream into the pea puree. Top each of the crostini with about 1 tablespoon of pea puree. Sprinkle with a bit of the diced prosciutto. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Seared Lamb Chops with Red Wine, Balsamic Reduction

Last night, in celebration of my first wedding anniversary, I cooked lamb for the first time. Lamb is one of my favorite meats, for its tenderness and rich taste. In the past I have strayed away from cooking this delicious meat based mostly on price. If you have ever looked at the price of lamb, you might shutter, especially if you're buying organic. If there was ever an occasion to splurge, a first wedding anniversary is great occasion! Think about it, its been one year of marriage and I still love to cook for my husband... we'll see how I feel in ten more years ;). I wanted to incorporate red wine into the sauce (romantic, no?) so I found a recipe which fit the bill. The recipe does not call for roasted vegetables, but I had some on hand which I used for a light side. I recommend toasting a bit of french bread to soak up this lovely sauce as well. I was impressed by the result, having had zero lamb cooking experience and would most certainly think about splurging on lamb again!!

Click here for the recipe! 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Seafood and Basil Pappardelle

Seafood and Basil Pappardelle 
Serves 3-4 

  • 1 package pappardelle
  • Olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 3 tbsp cream  
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flake 
  • Salt, pepper 
  • 1 bag of mixed seafood (try Trader Joe's)
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil
  • Fresh lemon juice

Prepare pappardelle by package directions, reserving 3 tbsp of the pasta water for later. In a large skillet, add a thin layer of olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and saute 2-3 minutes. Then add white wine and simmer on low for 1 minute, then add cream, milk, pepper flakes, salt and pepper, whisk until combined. Allow sauce to thicken, then add frozen seafood and cook until pink. Follow with reserved pasta water, basil, parmesan, lemon juice and noodles. Toss pasta together, and plate with another sprinkling of basil and parmesan. 

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Cornmeal Crusted Halibut over Roasted Grape and Onion Couscous

My favorite part about cooking, is undoubtably the creativity it offers. I love meandering through the grocery store, waiting for an idea to spark, or finding one ingredient and experimenting to find complimentary flavors. Without following a recipe, it's hard to know if the end result will be worth eating, but when it is, the reward is even greater! Last night, was a prime example, I had some extra grapes and avocado on hand and pondered the bazaar idea of pairing the two together. Oddly enough, roasted grapes create a deep sweetness which enhance the creamy richness of the avocado. As for the halibut, I simply encrusted the fillet with a cornmeal and parmesan mixture and sauteed with olive oil. I will give you the couscous and grape recipe for you to experiment with at home. I hope you enjoy! 

Roasted Grape and Onion Couscous
Serves 2-3 

2 tbsp olive oil 
2 large red onions, sliced into thin strips 
2 cups red grapes
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar 
2 tbsp freshly minced garlic
Salt and pepper 
1 tbsp lemon juice  
2 cups quick couscous, prepared

In a large skillet, add olive oil over high heat. Add chopped red onion and sauté 2 minutes, then add grapes and cook another 2 minutes. Next, add the garlic, balsamic, salt and pepper. You'll want to keep the heat up high until you get light char marks on your onions and grapes. Once grapes and onion have lightly charred, reduce heat to a simmer and add lemon juice. Pour in couscous and mix. Serve with fish, meat or alone.