Sunday, July 31, 2011

Corn Salad with Cucumbers and Red Peppers

I'm back! I did not do a lot of cooking over these last couple of weeks because I have been busy studying. Hopefully the bar exam is behind me for good! Anyways, I really missed cooking and while I am thankful for Trader Joe's I am glad to be back in the kitchen.  My first creation was a salad I found on Food52.  The corn was supposed to be uncooked, I skipped buttermilk and just used milk with a splash of lemon, I added the dressing to the salad before rather than as you are serving it and I skipped the feta cheese because not everything in life needs cheese.  This salad really tastes like summer and is perfect for serving at a barbecue.  I also made Auntie Helen's pasta salad. Yum!

3 ears of sweet corn, cooked and cut off the cob*
1 red pepper diced
1 English cucumber, seeded and diced
1 large or 2 small shallots, cut into slices
1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped

1/4 cup milk, with 1/2 tsp of lemon or white wine vinegar
2/3 cup Greek yogurt
1 Tbs of white wine vinegar
3 Tbs of minced Vidalia onion
1 clove of garlic, mashed
1/4 cup EVOO
salt & pepper to taste

1) Take the shallots that are sliced lengthwise, placed them in a small dish and salt them.  Let them sit for about 20 minutes in the salt.  This will take the bite out of the shallots.

2) Meanwhile--mix the dressing.  Let the milk stand with the white wine vinegar or lemon for about 5 minutes.  This will give the milk a tart flavor, so it can be used as a replacement for buttermilk. 

3) In a small bowl, add the yogurt, the white wine vinegar then the milk.  Add the garlic and the onion and then with one hand stir and drizzle in the EVOO.  Whisk well until the dressing is well blended. 

4)  In a large bowl, add the veggies including the shallots that have been sitting in salt and the fresh dill.  Mix them well and then drizzle the dressing over until it is coated to your liking.  You will probably have leftover dressing.

*To properly cook sweet corn, fill a large pot with cold water and then add your husked corn to the pot. Salt the water and bring to a boil.  Once the corn is at a rolling boil, take it off the heat and let it sit in the water until you are ready to take the kernels off the cob (sooner rather than later preferably).  Make sure to run the corn under cool water before attempting to take the kernels off the cob.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Summer Dinner Party

It is no secret that I love to cook for people.  I believe that good food is meant to be shared, so I try to do it as often as possible.  I especially love summer cooking because there is nothing better than enjoying a drink outside in the sunshine while the grill heats up. 

I specifically chose simple dishes. I did not want to spend my whole day doing food prep and sometimes--especially in the summer, simplicity is an important factor.  Dinner included grilled pork chops, sweet corn and brussels sprouts.  Dessert was strawberries dipped in sour cream and brown sugar.  The pork chop recipe was from Epicurious, however instead of making a garlic-lime sauce, I made a marinade.  The brussels sprouts are a simple dish I make all the time. The corn on the cob was just boiled, but included the addition of cumin butter (human butter according to one of our guests). The strawberries are a Hammond family favorite--and now one of my favorites because of its simplicity and tastiness!

Grilled Pork Chops Marinated in Garlic & Lime
6 boneless center cut pork chops, 1/2 inch thick

For the Marinade
2/3 cup EVOO
1/2 cup lime juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp of crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
salt & pepper to taste

1) Mix the ingredients of the marinade.  Stir well, and then place the pork chops in a large plastic bag (or two if you have to) and pour the marinade over them.  Let them sit in the fridge for 1-2 hours before grilling. 
2) When you start the grill, take the pork chops out and pat them dry with a paper towel.  Reserve some of the marinade for basting if you want to.  Let the pork chops sit outside of the fridge until the grill is going.
3) Grill the pork chops on medium high heat, 5 minutes on each side.  After taking them off the grill, let them sit for 3-5 minutes to let the juices settle. 

Brussels Sprouts with Lemon
1 lb of brussels sprouts
1 lemon, juiced
2 tbs. EVOO
salt & pepper to taste

1) Slice the brussels sprouts starting at the top of the sprout first, and then discard the end.  I did this step well before dinner so it was done before the guests arrived. 
2) In a medium pan, heat 2 tbs of EVOO.  Once the oil is heated, toss the brussels sprout in the pan.  Add the lemon juice, and then add salt & pepper to taste.  Cook about 7 minutes until some of the sprouts are caramelized.  

Cumin Butter
1/2 stick salted butter (or 1/2 stick of unsalted and salt it yourself)
1 Tbs. of dried cumin

1) Soften the butter.  I prefer to set it out and let it come to room temperature rather than microwaving it.  Once it is soft, add the cumin and mix well.  Butter your corn with it.  It should work for about 6 ears of corn.

Strawberries Dipped in Sour Cream and Brown Sugar
2 lbs. of strawberries, tops cut off.
8 oz. of sour cream
1/4-1/2 cup brown sugar

This one is almost self explanatory.  Spoon sour cream and brown sugar on your plate. Dip the strawberry in the sour cream first, then the brown sugar.   Enjoy!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Broccoli Slaw

I have always noticed bags of shredded broccoli called "broccoli slaw" at Trader Joe's and wondered what people do with it, so I brought it home to see what I could do.  Broccoli is very healthy for you containing vitamin C, fiber and antioxidants, so one of my goals was to avoid negating broccoli's health benefits by covering it in a creamy dressing or loading a dressing with sugar.  I also wanted to use things I had in my house.  After reading lots of recipes, I found one from Eating Well that met my criteria. 

The recipe turned out great.  The dressing was just enough to neutralize the bite of the broccoli, the water chestnuts added a bit of crispness and the turkey bacon added a little bit of saltiness.  This salad will keep in your fridge for a couple of days and makes a great side at a barbecue.

1 16 oz bag of broccoli slaw
4 slices of turkey bacon, cooked until crisp and crumbled
1 8 oz can of sliced water chestnuts
1/4 cup Greek yogurt*
1/4 cup of mayo (I used Kraft mayo with olive oil)*
1/2 red onion minced
3 Tbs. of cider vinegar
1/2 packet Truvia (or 1/2 tsp sugar)
salt & pepper to taste

1) While the bacon is cooking, cut up the onion. Set aside. When the bacon is crisp either crumble it or cut it into small pieces with kitchen scissors.
2) In a small bowl, mix the yogurt, mayo, cider vinegar and Truvia.  Add the onion.
3) Put the broccoli slaw, water chestnuts and bacon into a large bowl.  Pour the dressing over it and mix well.  Let it chill in the fridge before serving. 

*You can also use 1/2 cup of Rocco's mayo in lieu of Greek yogurt and store bought mayo if you are well-prepared and have it on hand, unlike me!