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 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, 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 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 is good with grilled anything!

French Potato Salad
Serves 4
1 lb. small red potatoes, well scrubbed
1 small red onion, small dice
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 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 you never know where you may land! But we've got plenty of wine to cushion the fall!!