Posts Tagged ‘herbs’

Photo Friday: Ethereal

We have some fennel plants in the herb garden. A couple summers ago, I was weeding the garden and noticed that there were dozens of ladybugs in the fennel fronds.

Photo Friday: Ethereal

In the Garden: Mesclun Mix

Back in, probably February, Dan planted mesclun mix seeds in a terra-cotta planter on the back steps. I had told him they would last all summer, but I neglected to specify that he should sprinkle a pinch of seeds each week for the summer. So he planted the whole seed packet all at once.

April 25
Mesclun Mix - April 25

This is from last week, so it’s a little smaller now, but we definitely need to eat more of this. I also added a couple of parsley plants in there. It couldn’t be easier to grow – just sprinkle the seeds on and keep it watered.

May 15
Mesclun Mix - May 15

Fruit Salad with Fig-Vanilla Balsamic Vinaigrette

I’m entering this recipe in a contest the Virginian-Pilot, our local newspaper is having – they’re looking for recipes that use fresh, tasty strawberries, since they’re in season now.

Last year, I visited my sister and her family in Temecula, Calif., and we went to The Temecula Olive Oil Company for an olive-oil tasting. They also had flavored balsamic vinegars for tasting, and as soon as I tried this fig-vanilla balsamic, I knew I had to have some.

After we got back home, I made up this recipe, and it’s wonderful, if I do say so myself. My mint is bursting out now, too, so it’s definitely time to make it again.

Fruit Salad with Fig-Vanilla Balsamic Vinaigrette
Serves 2

1/2 cup hulled and quartered strawberries
1/2 cup diced cantaloupe
4 California Mission figs, sliced
1/2 cup diced feta cheese
1 tbsp. fig-vanilla balsamic vinegar, or regular balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp. fruity extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp. chopped fresh mint, plus 2 sprigs for garnish
3 cups chopped or torn romaine lettuce

Combine fruit and cheese in a medium bowl. Place vinegar in a small bowl and season to taste with salt and pepper. Whisking constantly, drizzle EVOO into the bowl. Stir mint into dressing. Pour the dressing over the fruit and cheese and let stand 10 minutes. Divide romaine between two salad plates and serve fruit and cheese mixture over romaine. Garnish with a sprig of mint.

Fruit salad with fig-vanilla balsamic vinaigrette

GYO: Antipasto Pesto Pasta

I love the sound of that :-) And the dish was pretty good, too.

We had about 16 people over for Thanksgiving, and since we had spent two weeks in Europe, including a week in Italy, in September, naturally I wanted to serve antipasto for an appetizer.

But most people were holding out for the main event, so there was quite a bit left over. What to do with all these preserved meats and veggies? Put them in a pasta, of course! I found this great-sounding recipe and modified it for what we had and like, and it turned out great. I’ll definitely make it again.

This is my entry in Grow Your Own, the foodie event started by Andrea of Andrea’s Recipes and hosted this month by House of Annie. GYO celebrates the food we grow ourselves. We grew the basil and parsley for the pesto in this dish, and I froze pesto to use during the winter, since the basil was so prolific. The round-up of all the entries has been posted, so check them out!

Antipasto Pesto Pasta
1 medium roasted red bell pepper, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup marinated cocktail onions, halved
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, chopped
3 ounces salami, chopped
1/2 cup marinated mushrooms, chopped
1/2 cup marinated quartered artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1/3 cup refrigerated pesto
8 ounces uncooked bow-tie pasta (about 2 cups)
1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted

Place the roasted pepper, onions, olives, salami, mushrooms, and artichokes in a large bowl and mix gently.

Cook the pasta according to package directions, omitting salt; drain. In a small bowl, mix together the pesto and 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese; add to bell pepper mixture, and toss to combine. Add pasta to bell pepper mixture and stir.

Sprinkle each serving with 2 tsp. remaining cheese and 2 tsp. pine nuts.


Antipasto Pasta

Christmas Dinner: Herb-Encrusted Lamb Chops

I don’t make lamb very often, for one reason, because it’s expensive, and for another reason, because I haven’t always enjoyed it. I’m not sure if that’s because of the quality or the preparation, but the lamb chops I made yesterday for Christmas dinner were fabulous.

You need a good, stainless steel pan for this recipe – a non-stick pan just won’t get a good sear on the meat to make it golden-brown and delicious!

Herb-Encrusted Lamb Chops
Serves 2

4 lamb rib chops, about 1 inch thick
1 tbsp. chopped fresh sage
2 tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. coarse salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil

Remove the chops from the refrigerator and salt both sides lightly. Leave out to come to room temperature, about 30 minutes. The salt will draw moisture from the chops, which will then be drawn back in, seasoning them beautifully.

Prepare herbs and garlic and mix together with pepper in a small bowl.

When ready to cook, drizzle one side of each chop with a little olive oil; cover with herb/garlic mixture and press to adhere. Heat a large stainless-steel saute pan on medium-high heat. Add 1 tbsp. olive oil and swirl the oil around the pan. Add chops, herbed side down, to pan and cook for one minute. With tongs, turn chops over and cook for two minutes. Check temperature with an instant-read thermometer; it should be 130 degrees F for medium-rare. If it’s still a little low, cover the pan and let rest, off the heat, for about five minutes. If you’d like it more done, let cook another minute before resting.

Herb-encrusted lamb chops

I served this with Duchess potatoes mm mm good!

Parmesan-Rosemary Focaccia in a Bread-Machine

grow_your_own_logo-2009-bldgWow, where did October go? Oh, yeah – work, work, work. Come home and guess what? Don’t really want to hang out at the computer. So the blog has suffered a bit. Ah, well, maybe it will get better during the holidays ;-)

Anyway, last night we went to a Halloween/Birthday party and I took a platter of sandwich bites made with homemade bread-machine focaccia. I let the bread machine make the dough, and then I spread the dough in a pan for the last rise and bake it in the oven.

A friend asked me for the recipe, so here it is. I’ll save the sandwich recipe for another post. This recipe is a hybrid of one from Cook’s Illustrated magazine and one in the cookbook that came with my bread machine. As it happens, I used fresh rosemary from the garden, so this qualifies as a long-overdue contribution to the food blogging event Grow Your Own, created and hosted by Andrea of Andrea’s Recipes.

Bread-Machine Rosemary Focaccia

1 cup water at 80 degrees F
1/3 cup olive oil, plus 2 tbsp.
2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
3 cups bread flour
1-1/2 tsp. active dry yeast, or 1 tsp. QuickRise yeast, or 1 tsp. Bread Machine Yeast
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp. fresh rosemary, chopped, or 1 tsp. dried rosemary, crumbled

Place the ingredients – except the Parmesan cheese, rosemary and 2 tbsp. olive oil – in the bread-machine pan in the order given. Turn to the dough setting and turn it on. Watch it for the first minute or two – you may need to use a spatula to make sure all the flour is incorporated into the dough ball. Then let the bread machine do its thing through the first rise time, about 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Generously oil a jelly roll pan – I use a Pampered Chef 9″x13″ stone baking pan. Remove the dough from the machine, wet your hands with water (to prevent sticking), and press the dough flat into the pan, pushing it into all the corners. If it resists, let it rest for 10 minutes and continue. Use your fingers or a pair of chopsticks to press dimples into the dough at even intervals – your yummy toppings will collect in these. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and leave in a warm, draft-free place while you heat the oven, at least 20 minutes. I put it in the microwave – no drafts in there.

Heat the oven to 425 degrees F. Press dimples into dough again. Drizzle with 2 tbsp. olive oil, then the cheese and rosemary. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown on top. Transfer to a wire rack and cool for 10 minutes. Cut into squares or wedges to serve immediately. To serve later, cool completely and reheat at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes.

Cooled focaccia can also be frozen for up to one month. To reheat, thaw at room temperature for 30 minutes, pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F, then heat directly on oven racks for 10 minutes.

There are lots of variations on this basic recipe: You can add garlic powder and/or onion powder and/or herbs to the dry ingredients, or add caramelized onions to the topping. Focaccia is great for dipping in olive oil and balsamic vinegar, or you can slice it lengthwise and use for panini.

Rosemary-Parmesan Focaccia
This is half the recipe.

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