Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The year's best...in Tulsa

I was pleasantly surprised this morning to discover that my Black Bean Pineapple Salad was included in the Tulsa World's Scene Section as one of the year's best recipes.
Thanks and here it is!!

http://www.tulsaworld.com/twpdfs/2009/FINAL/W_123009_D_1.PDF

Sunday, December 6, 2009

She hits the big time!

It was my pleasure to be chosen as the featured chef for the Member Profile in the most recent issue of the American Personal and Private Chef Association's official e-newsletter, a la minute.
I have included the link to the article written by Lisa Shames.  She does a great interview and, as I understand it, just recently interviewed Tony Bourdain so I feel very special to be included with such interesting company!
The newsletter includes all kind of useful material and information about APPCA as well as recipes, business, and upcoming events.
Enjoy!
http://personalchefnews.com/alaminute/nov09/

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Alternative Dressing

I'm getting a complex...no one comments on my posts.
They must be:
a) so boring no one cares or no one is reading them;
b) so fascinating that heads explode from contemplating them;
c) so crystal clear that there is just nothing to say in response;
d) a and b but not c
e) all of the above
f) none of the above
Can you tell I used to write test questions?
So...here I go again and will bare my soul for you to tread upon...I kid, I kid!
I wanted to share my favorite dressing recipe before you start shopping for your Thanksgiving feast. We call it dressing in Oklahoma because it is baked in the oven not stuffed in a bird where you can get all kinds of nasty illness...my mom was just not one to risk salmonella (she always called it tomaine...did I spell that right? does anyone know what it is?)
So anyway...this recipe was inspired by a recipe from the Nantucket Open House Cookbook from Sarah Leah Chase. I love her approach to cooking and her original recipe was very good and I made it just as she wrote it for years but it has evolved over the years and, sorry, Sarah, but I like my version better. It is known in our family as "The Alternative Dressing" because the cornbread dressing is the authentic dressing handed down through the years.
So here it is...there are a number of ingredients but hang in there...it's worth it.

Savory Apricot Dressing

Makes one 9 x 13 casserole

2 cups dried apricots, diced
½ cup amaretto liqueur
1 cup brandy
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 very large yellow onion, chopped
1 bunch green onions, sliced
½ bunch celery, chopped
Croutons from one herb foccacia loaf

1 pkg, slightly more than 1 lb., ground turkey (93/7)
2 tbsp Herbes de Provence
1 tsp dried red pepper flakes
1 tart apple (Granny Smith), cored and diced, do not peel
3 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped (I do not recommend substituting dried)
3½ cups chicken stock or broth
Kosher salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 375.

Place apricots in a small saucepan and cover with amaretto and ½ cup of the brandy. Bring to a boil, turn off the heat and allow to steep (infuse) while you are preparing the rest of the ingredients. In a large saucepan, heat the chicken stock and one stick of butter over medium low heat until the butter melts. Reduce the heat to low and hold the butter/stock until later.

Melt one stick of butter in a very large sauté pan. Add onion, green onions, and celery and cook until softened, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.

Add the ground turkey, Herbes de Provence and dried pepper flakes to the pan and sauté until no longer pink. Transfer to the mixing bowl.

Add the apple, rosemary, and apricot mixture to the bowl and stir to combine.

Add the foccacia croutons over the top.

Pour ½ the butter/chicken stock over all and the remaining ½ cup of brandy. Toss lightly to combine all ingredients. Add additional butter/stock as needed to moisten dressing. DO NOT OVERMIX!
Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Place in a buttered or oiled 9 x 13 casserole dish. Do not compact the dressing; it should be fluffy. Dot the top of the dressing with butter.

Bake in the 375 oven for 45 minutes or until browned on top
.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Recipes, included....

The last cooking class, "Holiday Appetizer Party", was just that...a party!

Lots of great appetizers, wine pairings and people...here's what you missed:

Bleu Cheese Torte, Sweet and Hot Asian Wings and Cocktail Nuts - Three Ways. We had something for any kind of party from fancy to casual. So...you will find the recipes below and yes, they are as simple as they sound and you can make all of them ahead of time so you can spend the party with your guests and not your kitchen!

FYI...our wine pairings were: Las Rocas Garnacha 2007 with the torte, Pacific Rim Riesling 2007 with the wings and Prosecco with the nuts.

Next month's class is Puff Pastry: Sweet and Savory on December 10. We'll also do more appetizers!

Bleu Cheese Torte

1 cup bread crumbs (I use Japanese Panko)
1 cup finely chopped walnuts
3 tbsp melted unsalted butter

1 lb bleu cheese, at room temperature
1 lb cream cheese, at room temperature
4 eggs
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp minced fresh rosemary
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a food processor, combine bread crumbs, walnuts and melted butter and process until well combined. Press mixture into the bottom and partially up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, combine cheeses and mix until smooth. Add the eggs, one and a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition. Add the garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper and combine well. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes to an hour until the cake is golden brown and not loose in the center.

Transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool at least 30 minutes before serving.

Slice thinly with a sharp knife, arrange on a platter and serve.

Accompaniments, if desired: dried fruit, caramelized onions, baguette slices

Sweet and Spicy Asian Chicken Wings
Serves 10 – 12

3 – 4 lb. chicken wings, wing tips removed, split in half
¼ cup Lovera’s Italian Grill Rub (or your favorite spice mixture)
2 – 3 tbsp canola oil

½ cup sweet chili sauce
3 tbsp fresh lime juice
3 tbsp ketchup

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Place prepared chicken wings in a large bowl. Toss with oil and spices. Arrange in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast for 45 minutes until crisped and golden.

In a large sauté pan, mix the sauce ingredients and allow to warm until bubbling over medium to medium low heat. When wings are cooked through, add to the sauce ingredients, increase heat to medium and cook wings in the sauce until glazed, approximately 15 minutes. Turn wings onto large platter and serve.

Accompaniments, if desired: sliced cucumber spears and celery sticks

Cocktail Mixed Nuts - Sweet and Savory Three Ways
For all recipes, preheat oven to 350°F.

Recipe 1 – Sweet and Savory Spiced Nuts
3 tbsp sugar
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground cumin
¾ tsp kosher salt
1 large egg white
2 cups pecan halves
2 cups walnut halves

Lightly oil a rimmed baking sheet.
Combine spices in a small bowl and set aside. Whisk egg white in a medium bowl until frothy, then stir in nuts. Add spice mixture and toss to coat.

Spread in one layer on the baking sheet. Bake, stirring once or twice until dry and toasted, about 20 minutes. Pour nuts onto foil and allow to cool completely.

Recipe 2 – Sweet and Salty Nuts
2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
½ cup sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1 tbsp kosher salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
4 cups walnut and pecan halves

Generously butter a rimmed baking sheet.
In a large bowl, combine sugar and corn syrup with salt and pepper and stir well. Add nuts and stir until well combined. If it is very sticky and hard to stir, microwave on high for 30 second intervals until it loosens and will pour easily onto the baking sheet. Bake for about 25 minutes, stirring twice or more until golden and bubbly. Pours nut mixture onto foil and allow to cool completely. Break apart and serve.

Recipe 3 – Spiced Herbed Nuts
3 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp light brown sugar, packed
1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
1½ tsp chopped fresh thyme
2 tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
¼ tsp freshly ground pepper
2 cups pecan or walnut halves

Spray a large rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.
In a medium sauté pan over medium low heat, combine all ingredients except nuts, Cook stirring frequently until butter and sugar melt completely about 2 -3 minutes. Add nuts and toss well to combine.
Spread nuts on the baking sheet and bake about 15 minutes stirring once or twice until golden and fragrant. Turn out onto foil and cool completely.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Gotta Love 'Em...Brussels Sprouts

Never thought I would see the day (when I was a kid) that I would say that I love brussels sprouts...but I do! That said, I now seek out new ways or just a twist on cooking up the little darlings. Got one and had to share...I'm going to be making it as one of the Thanksgiving sides (and as many times as possible before that!).

So...the story begins with a Mark Bittman article from the Wednesday, October 28, NYT Dining section. Brussels sprouts with bacon and figs. Well, first of all, bacon! and then figs! And, as if it couldn't get any better...it's finished with balsamic...just a little slice of Heaven! I think to myself...self, gotta make this recipe at the first opportunity.

Then, wandering through Whole Foods last night, passed the brussels sprouts on their own stalk...I love that! Then, there were fresh figs available as well...those really nice big Brown Turkey Figs. See where this is going?

I get to my boyfriend's house with the recipe, the sprouts, bacon, figs and balsamic. Truth be told, the recipe calls for dried figs, not fresh, but trust me, the fresh ones were terrific with this combination. I highly recommend this simple, straightforward treatment of these autumnal jewels but next time, I will add some shallots into the bacon before adding the brussels sprouts and figs. I also will have to try it when I can't find fresh figs. (I hope this link works...if not, it's on Mark Bittman's blog at NYT.)
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/28/dining/28mini.html?_r=1&adxnnl=1&ref=dining&adxnnlx=1257616879-6DysbYmttZ+zMjCFYaJGeg

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Away far too long....

I absolutely love this time of year! I wish there was some way to make it last longer but then (like Christmas all year long) I'm certain I wouldn't appreciate it as much.

Anyway...this special season heralds the holiday beginning and I am so inspired by the rich flavors and ingredients. Believe me, I enjoy the salmon on the grill and bright spring and summer salads after the feasting season but there's just something about those buttery, fragrant meats, breads, pastas and more...like wine.

Speaking of which, I just completed the Introductory Sommelier Course in Tulsa sponsored by the Court of Master Sommeliers. Tulsa boasts one of the few female Master Sommeliers, Randa Warren. A terrific woman who makes it fun and interesting to learn about wine. If you ever have a chance to speak with her or be fortunate enough to attend a dinner or event where she is featured...grab it! You will be so glad you did! In any case, this two-day class is packed with all things wine...the regions, the appellations, the grapes and on and on. There is no way to learn it all in just 16 hours...I can imagine in maybe 16 years but, of course, it is a dynamic business so you never stop learning. The best thing I came away with (besides my certificate for passing the class...yes, you have to take a test!) was learning the "right" way to taste wine. And, although I enjoy tasting wine, I like drinking it a lot more! There was also a portion of the class where we learned more about wine and food pairings. All in all, I got what I wanted; more wine knowledge that allows me to improve what I do for my clients and students. I will not become any more of a wine geek than I already am! So, rest easy, friends!!

Back to business (and good times)...class is back after a brief hiatus...
Thursday, October 8 5:30 to 7:30 at Metro Builders Supply, 53rd and Mingo
Pumpkin, Squash and More!
We weren't able to have the popular soup class so I am incorporating a soup into this class. My featured recipe, however, will be Pumpkin Gnocchi...delicious, fun and easy to make...yes, homemade pasta, could it get much better!! We'll prepare a brown butter sauce to accompany it.
And, there will be wine pairings! And, I will share tasting techniques!
More Fall, Winter and Holiday recipes and stories to come...stay tuned!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

My Favorite Tools...and a sandwich, too

Just had to share my sandwich creation with you. I entered the Mezzetta Make That Sandwich contest for fun (winners will be announced in September) although the last time I entered a contest for fun I ended up winning a prize. This would be a really good one, though...grand prize is $25K and a trip to Napa! Anywho...this is a Grilled Tuscan Swordfish Sandwich inspired by the Swordfish Involtini that I made for the last Tulsa Ballet Bella Cucina at Marcello and Daniela's house. Let me know if you want the recipe...I think it's delish!
So...the next cooking class, My Favorite Tools, will also include some of my favorite things (and my students' suggestions) to make...a fabulous (and super easy) Potato Gratin, decadent Tiramisu (yes, I'll have to do a swapout because it will not set up in an hour), and Roasted Butternut Squash Soup (it's flavored with curry AND ginger...yum!).

Class is this Thursday, August 20 from 5:30 to 7:30, Metro Builder's Supply, 5313 South Mingo. I have to say the classes at Metro are great fun...everyone seems to enjoy them even more so I see many more ahead!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Summer is winding down...in a flurry!


Wow...time has really gotten away from me.
The last week was spent in NYC with my older daughter, Merrin. Visited some great restaurants (surprise!), cooked for my girl and her friends (more later), went salsa dancing and attended two of the amazing performances of Tulsa Ballet as it makes its return to the Big Apple! Now it's time to get younger daughter, Shea, ready for school...it starts next week and it feels as though it starts earlier with each year...or is it just me?

Anyway...back to cooking in the city. It doesn't take long to realize that New York has just about everything there is to offer...duh!. That was a very good thing considering that my daughter and her friends live on cereal, soup and water...notice I did not say Ramen noodles. I made a point to bring my knife case but I did not bring the rest of my kitchen so we spent most of the day shopping for kitchen essentials and then food. I now know how difficult it is to start from scratch...again! I must share that most of the food shopping was done at a grocery called Fairway and their prices were comparable (for the most part) to prices in Tulsa...I know, I know...I couldn't believe it either! I also realized how challenging it is to get your groceries home...walking and using the subway. You better be a very smart shopper or own one of those carts...I will buy a cart the next time I go back...it will be money well spent and, more importantly, I'll be able to buy more provisions. My daughter requested...baby back ribs, some kind of shrimp, grilled romaine hearts and then whatever else. So I oven grilled the ribs, finished the shrimp in a passable saute pan and seared the romaine hearts on a pancake griddle. Just reminds you how resourceful you can be when you have to be. We had some wonderful cheeses, my daughter stuffed Peppadews with Boursin (that was on special at Zabar's for .99 and they weren't expired or even close so I bought four)...one of her favorite things. All turned out well and her friends ate as though they had never had food...ah, the good old days!

As for the restaurant scene, we visited Butter, Alex Guarnaschelli's place. She really does an amazing job of serving delicious, approachable food in a space that makes you feel at home. Of course, her Italian roots sing out but the menu is diverse and playful. We also had an inspired dinner at Tao and then for the last evening, ate at the venerable BLTSteak...gotta love that place and wow! what a bar scene...even on a Tuesday night but I have to remind myself this is NYC and not my town. We shopped in Soho on Tuesday and Merrin took me to, as she would say, a teen-nitesy place called Ruby's. There, I had possibly the best burger I have ever had! Take note...this is from a woman who lives in cattle country. It was perfectly cooked, served on a crusty (but not hard) grilled roll with condiments that complemented but never overwhelmed. They add a sweet chili sauce (not Asian) that is a wonderful foil to the traditional tomato and lettuce that is also a part of the mix. The best part is...it does not fall apart so you can enjoy every bite as it is meant to be without having to resort to fork and knife! The sandwich is served with a lightly dressed mixed green salad. Ruby's really does it right...if you're in Soho...go try it!

And, back to Tulsa reality...
My next cooking class is Thursday, August 20...My Favorite Tools at Metro Builder's Supply. Look for me (at Metro again) on Thursday, September 10 for a big cooking event and I will be among those providing appetizers for the Tulsa Library Chapters fundraiser on September 11...more exciting events coming this fall! Be back atcha soon!
Happy Cooking!!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Restaurants!

This is where I hold forth on the state of restaurants (or lack thereof) in my city (which I love dearly but...). I felt compelled to share because of a dinner I had last night. It was a Swordfish Piccata...I have been told it is sublime, the stuff that legends are made of. Well, not in my fairy tale! It was a thinly sliced but very large piece of breaded and fried fish swimming in a gallon of sauce that had never seen a caper and not too much lemon over a giant bed of spaghetti that was not al dente and definitely was not housemade and...I was in what we call an Italian restaurant.

In Tulsa, we have a number of talented chefs who either own restaurants or are Executive Chefs. There is one, in particular, who shall remain nameless for fear of hurting anyone's feelings. I have known this fellow for over 10 years and he has cooked all over the world. He probably has the finest, most refined palate of anyone I know. He is amazingly talented and is a partner in what is basically a sports bar where he cooks seven days a week. We have had many conversations about cooking in Tulsa. I would love for Tulsa to be a "food" town. I would love it to be among those hidden treasures of the food world reviewed and touted as some place to visit if you're off on a quest for the next greatest trend or ingredient. But, as he and I have discussed many times...ain't happenin' here. He totally "gets" what Tulsans like to eat and it has nothing to do with any of the latest food trends or any of the wonderous dishes that I know he can create. Yes, there are some of us who lament the lack of sophistication and yearn for the foods we travel the world for and we hold out hope that one among us will be successful in staying alive long enough to cook that inspirational food for this wonderful city.

But if you're going to stay and be successful in the food business in Tulsa...take note because here is what Tulsans like and you better give it to them: burgers and fries, fried fries and more fries, and chicken wings and barbecue; they like TexMex flavors with lots and lots of cheese, they like heavy Italian-like red sauce over mounds and mounds of pasta, they want in your face bar food and you better give them lots and lots of it! Forget nuances and delicate flavors such as the truth behind a real Italian involtini, the shadings of spice expressed in a true mole, or the fragrance of a great Spanish olive oil.

Tulsa is a young, beautiful city...it is a pleasure to live here. It has been chosen as one of the places to live...the city is developing a young, creative professional population and I can only hope that they will start looking for something different to eat! I will be poised and ready...Bring it on!!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Kabobs on July 9



This is a perfect example of time flies when you're having fun (or not)! I have had very good intentions for the last several days to write an update and have finally found the time to do it...whew! Another class has come and gone...All Kinds of Kabobs and I'm happy to say that I have had many reports from those of you who have tried and succeeded with flying colors! That is truly the whole point of teaching! Take everything I give you and use it! Awesome! I hope you will share a little of your experiences with everyone else...please!

To catch you up...we made beef kabobs and shrimp kabobs...we also made all kinds of vegetables (onions, bell peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes, nothing too exotic) and finished with Grilled Romaine Hearts. Everything was super easy...very little, if any, marinade...mainly, salt, pepper and olive oil. So the real flavors of the food sang out!

The title of the next class is My Favorite Tools and last Thursday's participants asked that I make three of my favorite things...I am happy to do that (fun for me) but I would like to hear what YOU want! I've had lots of requests for dessert so I will do at least one but what else?! Let me know...here's another chance to participate!!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Here come the fireworks!!

Tomorrow is the Fourth of July and I felt compelled to share one last favorite picnic-y recipe before I move on to my next cooking class...which BTW...is this coming Thursday, July 9th at 5:30...more shameless advertising, I know!
Anyway, this is an Asian slaw recipe that is a spinoff of that infamous one made with Ramen noodles and the flavor packet that comes with it. Of course, you know that the packet only contains about a million grams of sodium! No wonder it tastes so great! But before you have a stroke, I mean, come on, that's a lot of sodium...not to mention the swelling and water weight and no one needs that! I devised an even better dressing and salad making method that will make your heart sing and your blood pressure drop! This is a terrific side for all your grilled favorites AND is wonderful on a pulled pork sandwich!
So...take a look at my Asian slaw and I think you'll agree...it's a great, better alternative!

Asian Slaw

Serves 8

SLAW
1 head napa (Chinese) cabbage, shredded
1 small English cucumber, half round cuts
5 green onions, sliced on the bias
½ red bell pepper, julienned
1 cup almonds, toasted
Salt and pepper, to taste

DRESSING
1 tbsp. grated fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. dark brown sugar
1 tsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. sesame oil
3 tbsp. rice wine vinegar, unseasoned
½ cup canola oil (scant)

Pepper, to taste

Combine slaw ingredients (except salt and pepper) in a large bowl. Set aside.
In a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine ginger, garlic and brown sugar. Stir with a small spoon to blend then add soy sauce and sesame oil. Add vinegar and canola oil and shake until well blended…you should have an emulsion.
Taste for seasoning and add pepper as needed.
Pour half of the dressing over the slaw and toss. Add additional dressing as needed but salad should not be over-dressed.
Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Fourth of July Picnic Food

This part of summer is always a pleasure for me in spite of the 100+ temperatures we have been experiencing in Tulsa over the last 10 days...happily, we have a nice cold front that has settled in today so it will only be 90! Woohoo!! Well, it is summer in Oklahoma after all...what do you expect? Actually, with our weather, you must expect the unexpected so I am quite confident that it will be balmy in August instead of 110.
Anyway....back to the task at hand...I love this part of summer before we get into serious July because of the Fourth. We don't go to the lake anymore or to see the fireworks. Although, I love fireworks...I'm the only one in my family who does...even my girls think they're boring. I don't know...I just love the "oohs and aahs" of seeing burst after burst, one better than the next. And, then when there's kind of a punk...to hear the crowd's disappointment that it was not bigger and better than the one before it.
I love the food that is associated with the Fourth of July...now, that's the fun part. Picnic food at its best! I won't inundate you with everything right now but I will continue to drop a recipe in here and there. One that I hold near and dear and I have to have on the Fourth is what I call "French Potato Salad". It is a very simple salad just potatoes and onions and I have no idea why I call it French...maybe because I put a little Dijon mustard in it but beyond that...no reason! Maybe to differentiate it from my mother's wonderful Miracle Whip-based traditional potato salad with lots and lots of sweet pickles and hard boiled eggs. Of course, I could eat Miracle Whip with a spoon out of the jar but that's another story!
So here is my next favorite potato salad...it is good with grilled anything!

French Potato Salad
Serves 4
1 lb. small red potatoes, well scrubbed
1 small red onion, small dice
Dressing:
1/2 cup good quality mayonnaise (you could make your own but it's not necessary)
2 -3 tbsp. yellow ballpark mustard
2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
2 -3 tbsp. superfine sugar
2 -3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
Whole milk
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Whisk together first five ingredients in a medium size bowl. You will want to adjust your seasonings to achieve a sweet to tart balance that is pleasing to you. There are no hard and fast rules on this one. If your onions are hot (you cried your eyes out when you diced them), you might want to have more sweet (sugar) and less tart (ballpark mustard and/or vinegar).
Add enough milk to reach a nice pouring consistency...like a thin cake batter. Then season to taste with salt and pepper.
Boil potatoes whole with skins on. Always start potatoes in cold water so they cook evenly. And, make sure the water is well salted; it should taste like the ocean. This is the only opportunity you have to really flavor your potatoes. Boil until fork tender. Drain potatoes and allow to cool until you can handle them easily. Do not peel the potatoes! Cut potatoes into quarters lengthwise. Toss potatoes with diced onions. Pour dressing over all and toss to combine. If you can leave your potatoes warm, they will absorb more of the flavor of the dressing.
Refrigerate until cold then serve and enjoy!!

Monday, June 22, 2009

July 4th Recipe Series

I thought it might be fun to share some more of my favorite (and easy, again) grilling recipes for the Fourth of July. This choice gives you a rack of lamb cut into "lollipops" with three dipping sauces. So it's a little bit different but quick, easy and doesn't heat up your kitchen. And, as hot as it is in Tulsa, right now...that's a huge consideration! Enjoy!!

Lamb Lollipops with A Trio of Dipping Sauces

Serves 8

4-6 large garlic cloves, crushed
2 tbsp fresh rosemary
2 tsp fresh thyme
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Kosher salt
¼ cup olive oil

2 racks of lamb, frenched and cut into individual chops

Dipping Sauces (recipes to follow)

Place first 6 ingredients in food processor and process to a paste. Rub paste onto top and bottom of chops and set aside to marinate for up to 30 minutes.

Prepare your outdoor grill (or a stovetop grill) and heat to medium high to high heat. Grill chops for 2 minutes per side for rare and 3 minutes per side for medium rare. Do not walk away! Cover with aluminum foil and allow to rest for 5 – 10 minutes. Serve with dipping sauces.

Salsa Verde
½ cup of olive oil
½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ cup chopped Italian parsley
1/3 cup chopped green onions
¼ cup chopped fresh mint
¼ cup capers, drained and rinsed
1 tbsp grated lemon peel
½ tsp dried crushed red pepper
1 tsp salt
½ tsp ground black pepper

Place all ingredients into a bowl and stir to combine. Allow to stand at room temperature for up to an hour to allow flavors to meld.

Roasted Red Bell Pepper Sauce
2 large roasted red bell peppers
¼ cup olive oil
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Cayenne pepper, to taste

Warm peppers in a small sauté pan. Remove and roughly chop. Place all ingredients into a food processor and process until smooth.
Serve immediately.

Meyer Lemon Aioli
1 cup mayonnaise
¼ cup fresh Meyer Lemon juice
1 tbsp finely grated Meyer Lemon peel
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp Sherry wine vinegar
¼ cup olive oil

Combine all 6 ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk together until well blended. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Cooking without a Parachute Salads

Here are the recipes from this evening's cooking class. I will be posting all class recipes either the day of class or the next day. I think you will find that these are very straightforward and flavorful salads that are perfect for summer because you don't have to turn your oven on and heat up your house...everything is done on the grill or is cold. Please enjoy and tell me what you think!!

Grilled Flank Steak with Blue Cheese over Baby Arugula
Serves 8

1 flank steak, 1½ - 2 lbs.
¼ cup steak rub (any brand you like)
8 oz. blue cheese, crumbled
6 – 8 oz. baby arugula

Catalina Dressing
1 tbsp ketchup
2 tbsp whole grain mustard
2 tsp sugar
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil

Place dressing ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake well to combine and set aside.

Rub flank steak on both sides with seasonings. Place in plastic bag and allow to marinate for several hours or overnight.

Heat grill to medium high heat (indoors or outdoors). Grill flank steak for 5 minutes on each side for rare, 6 - 7 minutes for medium rare. Allow steak to rest, covered for 15 minutes. Then thinly slice beef across the grain and at an angle.

Toss arugula with dressing and arrange on serving plate. Top with beef and blue cheese. Serve.


Grilled Chicken with Grilled Avocado and Onion over Chopped Romaine
Serves 6 - 8

3 – 4, 6 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
¼ cup spicy grill seasoning (any brand you like)
2 large avocados, halved (sprinkle with fresh lime juice)
2 medium red onions, thickly sliced
1 large head romaine, washed and cored
Kosher salt
Olive oil

Chipotle Vinaigrette
1 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 heaping tsp Dijon mustard
1 - 2 tsp dark brown sugar 
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
1 canned chipotle chile en adobo, minced
a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
¼ cup sherry wine vinegar
¼ cup blended canola and olive oil

Place dressing ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake well to combine and set aside.

Rub chicken with grill seasoning, refrigerate and allow to marinate for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Heat grill to medium high heat (indoors or outdoors). Place chicken on grill, cook for 10 minutes and turn to cook for another 5 – 10 minutes until cooked through to 150° to 160° internal temperature.

Meanwhile, season onions with kosher salt and drizzle with oil. Place onions on the grill just before turning the chicken. Cook until softened with grill marks on both sides. Chop onions in half. Drizzle avocado with olive oil and place on the grill, cut side down. Grill until warmed slightly with grill marks.

Chop romaine cross-wise. Toss with vinaigrette until lightly dressed. Arrange romaine on a serving plate. Top with chicken, avocado and onions. Serve.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Cooking Class Coming!!



We're making Entree Salads and Salad Dressings at Metro Builders Supply on Thursday, June 11 starting at 5:30 pm!


Featured recipes: Grilled Flank Steak with Blue Cheese over Baby Arugula and Latin-inspired Grilled Chicken with Grilled Avocado and Onions over Chopped Romaine.


This will be our first class at Metro and I am so excited to be able to share their wonderful space with you.


As always, we're Cooking without a Parachute...so you never know where you may land! But we've got plenty of wine to cushion the fall!!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

She Can Cook, Too!

I have been trying to decide what to write about today and then it happened...my NYC daughter emailed me with a photograph of her first attempt at the Black Bean Pineapple Salad over which I have been waxing poetic...LOL.
Take a look at this! Even her little sister knew what it was!
This is the child who was asking me to add "How to Boil Water" to my blog.
You've made your mama (and your sister) proud, girl...of course, let me know how it tastes!
It just goes to show you that if you will jump into the whole cooking thing, you can do it.
BTW....here's a shameless plug...my next cooking class is scheduled for Thursday, June 11 at 6:30. We'll be at Metro Builders Supply at 53rd and Mingo. Their showroom is beautiful and filled with every appliance you could ever want to see. They have re-designed a number of areas (including the Viking Gallery where I typically teach and cook). The topic will be Entree Salads and Salad Dressings and since the May class was canceled (too many people with too much to do!), I will focus on Knife Skills as well. So it should be lots of fun. Here's what I'm thinking for recipes...Grilled Flank Steak Salad with Blue Cheese over Baby Arugula and Latin-inspired Grilled Chicken Salad with Grilled Avocado and Onions over Chopped Romaine Hearts. My dressings will be made using one of my favorite tools...the Mason jar!
Enjoy the beautiful weather (if you're in this part of the country) and your Sunday wherever you are!
Happy Cooking!!

Monday, May 25, 2009

She can learn!


Happy Memorial Day!
I've spent most of the day on my computer...YIKES! But I figured out how to add food pics to my post! My daughter, Merrin, (the one who lives in NYC) will be soooo proud. Anyway, this is a picture of the Black Bean Pineapple Salad that won the recipe contest. You can find the recipe in one of my first posts (from last week).

Best Laid Plans...

Hello again!
Try as I might and with the best of intentions...a daily tip is just not likely to happen...at least, not on a daily basis and then I've kind of defeated the purpose, right? So, to that end, tips will be posted frequently but probably not everyday unless I am truly inspired and not running as fast as I can to stay in one spot. Thank you, Lewis Carroll, I just love that phrase...it captures our daily lives so often.
And, it is my blog afterall, I can do anything I want to...within reason, of course. Actually, my older daughter asked if I would make one of my tips "how to boil water"...she's still learning!
Here's what I would like to share today...
I was recently reading about the "secrets" that celebrity chefs won't tell you...well, if it's a secret, come on, now! Anyway, one topic had to do with their cookbooks and that you really don't need to buy them because you can find all of their recipes online. Now, that is mostly true. There are a lot of free recipe sites, such as, Food Network, recipeZaar, allrecipes, epicurious, etc., etc. But, really, do you buy the celebrity cookbook because you want the recipes? I don't think so. You buy their cookbooks because you want to know about THEM. And, cookbooks these days are more memoirs and stories than cooking substance, for the most part. So I say...go buy those cookbooks if you think you like that celebrity or you like their restaurant. With one caveat, the celebrity/restaurant cookbooks often have recipes that most (not all) home cooks cannot recreate in their home kitchens. That's where people like me come in. I love to share those little "secrets" with my students in class or online so please let's use this as a discussion forum, question and answer session. Teaching is the best and I tell my students in my "live" classes that I really am trying to put myself out of business by sharing everything I know... anything from knife cuts to the ins and outs of fennel!
Happy Cooking!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Daily Tip - It's all about the grill!

Here comes Memorial Day and many of us feel compelled to buy that first bag of charcoal and fire up the grill after months of cold, ice and snow. To that end...forget about the usual burgers, steaks, and chicken. What about lamb? Something different and delicious. Here is a super easy recipe that you can do on the outdoor or indoor grill.
These can be chops cut from a rack (then they really cook fast!) or the cute little chops that look like baby t-bones. Either way...YUM!

Grilled Lamb Riblets
4-6 large garlic cloves, crushed
2 tbsp fresh rosemary
2 tsp fresh thyme
Pinch of cayenne pepper
2 -3 tbsp Kosher salt
¼ cup olive oil
6 – 8 small loin lamb chops (these are the baby t-bone look a likes)

Place first 6 ingredients in food processor and process to a paste. Rub paste onto top and bottom of chops and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Allow to come to room temperature before grilling.

Spray grill with high heat nonstick cooking spray or rub with canola oil (or any other flavorless oil) using paper towels. Heat grill to medium high to high heat until very hot. If you're grilling outdoors, wait for the coals to be white/grey and you cannot hold your hand over them for more than a few seconds. Grill chops for 2 minutes per side for rare and 3 minutes per side for medium rare. Cover with aluminum foil and allow to rest for 5 – 10 minutes.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Daily Tip - Dressing salads

We all have our favorite bottled salad dressing...come on, admit it! Mine was (note the word WAS) Seven Seas Creamy Italian. I ate enough of that dressing to float a boat - no pun intended. When I was in college, I would eat it on anything...well, not on chocolate, but that was about it. Nowadays, so many bottled dressings are filled with preservatives...so much so that you can hardly identify what it really is supposed to be. Then I started making my own dressings a number of years ago. It is not only fast but, once more, you can use your imagination and create so many different flavors. I am going to share my salad dressing "base" with you. Then sally forth (did I really say that?) and add different spices, herbs, ingredients to it...whatever you like or whatever seems to go best with what you're serving. Add fruit, fresh or dried. Add vegetables. I don't think meat would work but who knows...! Try it and let me know!!
Now, you will see a lot of chefs whisk the oil into the salad dressing ingredients. The reason for this is to create an "emulsion"...an emulsion is a mixture of one liquid with another that it ordinarily will not combine with...such as oil and water or, in this instance, vinegar. You add the oil very slowly and whisk the vinegar quickly so that it binds. This is, of course, the classic way of doing things but sometimes you have to throw classic out the window and get real. My favorite method for "emulsifying" my oil and vinegar is with a small screwtop jar and a little Dijon mustard. The flavor of Dijon has a way of blending into whatever type of dressing you're making or it can express itself, for instance, in a honey Dijon salad dressing. In any event, the mustard acts as an emulsifier and helps the process along...call it cheating if you like but it works like a champ. And, I think most people don't make dressing because of the idea of whisking things. So now no more excuses...get a half-pint Mason jar and go to it!

Candace's Salad Dressing Base (this is purely a jumping off point)
In a small jar with a tightly fitting lid (preferably screw top)
Add:
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 heaping tsp Dijon mustard
1 - 2 tsp dark brown sugar (depending on how sweet you like it - you can also leave it out completely)
1 tbsp minced shallot and/or 1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
2 parts vinegar to 1 part oil (I like light and not oily dressings)
Place the top securely on the jar and shake it like crazy.

Now you've got salad dressing that is fresh, light, full of flavor and will last in your fridge for at least a week or more...actually, probably not that long because you'll use it so fast! A half-pint of dressing is enough for many, many salad greens but please, do not commit the Cardinal sin of over-dressing your greens. Let your greens shine through...they deserve their place in the spotlight...but that's another tip for another day.
Now just to get you started thinking...
For sweeteners: try honey, maple syrup, light brown sugar, light or dark corn syrup
For vinegars: try red wine, white wine, rice (unseasoned), raspberry, sherry, or champagne
The oil you use will depend on whether you want to taste it...flavorless canola, vegetable, or flavorful olive oils...I wouldn't recommend sesame except as a flavor enhancer in an Asian dressing.
You can use this same theory with mayonnaise-based dressings.
Don't be afraid to experiment...it's just food...it doesn't care!
The rest is up to you!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Daily Tip - Cry no more! Onions on the grill

My daughter suggested this tip because she loves these grilled onions so much!
It is a great technique if you have, for some reason, purchased a large quantity of onions...maybe when the Shriners were selling Vidalias in the 50 lb bag? These can be grilled inside on a stovetop grill (with ridges preferably) or on an outdoor grill.
Grilled onions are a tasty addition to many different foods and can really liven up your daily meals...add them to sandwiches, salads, pizza, pasta...almost anything! They are also wonderful as a side dish to beef, chicken, pork or seafood. They will keep for a week or more refrigerated...just warm them in foil or allow them to come to room temperature before serving. Whether you grill them inside or out, the grilling brings out the richness and sweetness without the biting characteristic of a raw onion. Any variety works well from red to the huge Maui or Texas 1010s.
So, on to the method:
Peel onions and slice crosswise into thick slices so that you have many concentric rings. Lightly coat your stovetop or outdoor grill with high heat cooking spray and heat over medium high to high heat depending on your equipment (You just don't want them to burn, of course.). Drizzle each onion slice (one side only) with good quality extra virgin olive oil and kosher salt. Place each slice oil-side down on the grill. Then drizzle the top with more olive oil and salt. Allow onions to cook until they have nice grill marks and the edges look ruffled because they have conformed to the ridges on the grill. Turn the onions being careful that they do not fall apart and continue to grill on the other side until they are tender. Also, remember that if you're doing this outdoors, you will have a flare up when the oil hits the fire so don't go crazy with it.
Serve hot or at room temperature.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Daily Tip - Contest Winning Recipe

This is the recipe that won the most recent Cooking Light Ultimate Reader Recipe Contest - Sponsor Brand ...in this case, Bush's Beans was the sponsor.
Even though I call it a salad...it is great as a salsa, too, with tortilla chips, toasted pita or veggies! It is especially good during the summer with any Latin inspired dishes. Use your imagination and feel free to make it your own...

Black Bean Pineapple Salad

Serves 8

1 can Bush’s Best black beans, drained and rinsed well
1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
½ whole fresh pineapple, medium dice
¼ cup cilantro, finely chopped
1 small red onion, small dice
½ red bell pepper, small dice
1 small serrano pepper, seeded, deveined and minced
½ jalapeno pepper, seeded deveined and minced
2 tbsp honey
¼ cup sherry wine vinegar
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Mix first 8 ingredients together in a large bowl. Set aside. In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine honey, vinegar and oil; replace lid and shake vigorously until an emulsion is created. Pour over salad ingredients and toss. Do not over-mix. Refrigerate and allow flavors to meld for at least an hour. Serve cool but not ice cold.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Welcome to my blog!

I'm Candace, the girl behind (or in front of?) The Girl Can Cook!
First, a little about me...and, actually, I'm not much of a girl anymore but you're only as old as you feel, right? I live in Tulsa, Oklahoma smack dab in the middle of the country (Yes, we have computers out here in the Wild West even though, it's not very wild and not even very far west!). I am a divorced single mom and have two terrific daughters; one lives with me, the other is following her dreams in NYC.
Like many of us, I began cooking as a means of survival but I always enjoyed exploring food magazines and cookbooks long before it was a celebrity thing. I watched Julia Child on PBS and marvelled at all of the things she could do with a chicken and then, of course, loved Dan Ackroyd's impression of her on SNL. I even watched Graham Kerr, The Galloping Gourmet, before he found religion and stopped getting drunk on his shows.
I come from a long line of talented home cooks (my mother being the best!) and food was always just a part of my life. In my family, you show people how much they are loved by the food you prepare for them.
But I digress...let's just say that I have good cooking "genes". I am primarily self taught but have taken lots of classes (Culinary Institute type) and worked with many other chefs. Last fall, I won a recipe contest that I entered as a lark, sponsored by Cooking Light magazine (the recipe will be posted shortly) and I have created a "Guy Friendly Dinner Party Menu" that will be featured in one of the fall/winter issues of Men's Fitness. I teach cooking classes here in Tulsa at Metro Builders Supply in its Viking Gallery (although they have every series of appliances you can imagine so I'm going to be working my way around the store). And, I love to teach! It's one of my favorite things to do!! My classes are called "Cooking without a Parachute" where I allow people to experiment with different foods, flavors, and ingredients so that they can cook fearlessly.
I look forward to sharing Daily Tips, recipes, "secrets", and my life with you. Oh yeah, I love answering questions and researching food topics so let's make this a forum for discussion and maybe we'll all learn something.
Join me on my journey through food!