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Tuscan Kale Caesar with Seared Tuna

13 Aug

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For me, there is nothing better than discovering a new, easy and delicious recipe for solo weeknight dining. With a super busy work schedule, an avid gym regiment and one that finds socializing a priority – recipes like these fit in well. This one is super healthy too – packed with kale, anchovies, lemon juice and lean fish.

After a full day of work, an hour at the gym and a quick run by The Fresh Market, I made this delicious and beautiful plate in less than 15 minutes. I devoured it and didn’t feel a bit of guilt. That’s my kind of victory.

This is become a regular for me. Make it for one or it’s an easy and elegant entertaining dish too!

PS: I love a big selection of flavored olive oils to top dishes. The fire red cayenne pepper olive oil really jazzes up this plate!

Tuscan Kale Caesar with Seared Tuna

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
8 anchovy fillets packed in oil, drained
1 garlic clove
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 bunch Tuscan kale or other kale, center stalks removed, thinly sliced crosswise
Tuna steaks
Cayenne pepper olive oil

In a food processor, blend together first 6 ingredients. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. This will make enough for many salads.

Thinly slice kale and dress with Caesar dressing. I like to dress kale a little earlier than a typical lettuce.

Sear tuna with salt and pepper in a super high heat skillet or grill. Cook to your desired temperature.

Drizzle with a super spicy cayenne pepper olive oil for a nice kick and beautiful presentation!

Spicy Peach & Sriracha Ribs

12 Aug

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North Carolina is surely becoming swampland with all this rain. It’s really not good for morale – however, this weekend I didn’t let it get in the way of my cooking plans. Thanks to the encouragement of the North Carolina Pork Council, I embarked on a rib making adventure on Sunday. In attempt to make them seasonal, I made a spicy peach and sriracha BBQ sauce that has plenty of vinegar and tang. Additionally, roasting the ribs with a whole cinnamon stick and slices of ginger gives your rainy day Sunday a nice aroma. Instead of grilling this bad guys, I had to broil because of the downpour. It was worth my time as they were almost as good as the smoky real thing. I recommend doing this on a beautiful day when you can grill – but don’t let the rain get in the way of a delicious culinary adventure – especially with ribs.

This peach and sriacha sauce would be good on any grilled meats – pork tenderloin, chops or even poultry.

Spicy Peach & Sriracha Ribs

Rub:

1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon golden brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 2- to 2 1/4-pound racks baby back pork ribs

Braise:

1 large onion, sliced
1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
6 thin rounds peeled fresh ginger
1 1/4 cups apple cider

Sauce:

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup finely diced red onion
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup water
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 cup orange juice, with pulp
4 tablespoons brown sugar
4 tablespoons Sriracha sauce
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups peaches, peeled and chopped

1. The day before, remove the silver skin from the rack of ribs. Mix together the dry ingredients and rub all over the ribs. Refrigerate overnight.

2. The next day, about 3 hours before you want to serve, layer in a roasting pan – onion, cinnamon, ginger and cider vinegar. Place the ribs on top and cover tightly with foil. Braise for 2 hours – or until meat is fork tender – at 325 degrees.

3. While the meat is roasting, in a saucepan, sauté onion and garlic in olive oil until translucent. Add water, vinegar,  Worcestershire sauce, orange juice, brown sugar, Sriracha and salt. On medium heat, cook until reduced for about 10 minutes. Add peaches, cover the pan, and simmer for another 15 minutes or until peaches are soft. Move the mixture to a food processor and puree.

4. Once the ribs are tender, slather them with the peach BBQ sauce and grill. Or, broil if it’s raining. Serve with additional sauce – because it’s that delicious.

This post is sponsored by the NC Pork Council.

Open Faced Tuna Steak Burgers

6 Aug

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Recently, I’ve taking a liking to Hops a Burger Bar so much that I’ve decided to test some of my own recipes at home. Burgers are great to experiment with and easy to lure friends over for a simple supper. This take on a burger is an open faced seared tuna steak on top of toasted bread and slathered with a rich remoulade sauce. I love the bite of onion, caper and anchovy on a rare cooked piece of tuna.

I recommend a simple season on the tuna – salt, pepper and a sprinkle of sesame seeds. Grill or sear for just a moment of two and top with this oh-so-rich sauce.

Grilled Tuna Steak Burger Remoulade Sauce
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, pressed
1 teaspoon (packed) minced fresh Italian parsley
1 teaspoon grated onion
1 teaspoon anchovy paste
2 hard-boiled large egg yolks
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons drained capers

A Southern Sendoff; on friends and brisket

29 Jul

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This is weekend I hosted a house full of friends to wish my very good friend Jessica best wishes on her adventure north to Michigan. When Jess broke the news a couple months ago that she was taking a new job at Michigan State, I said “you gotta do what you gotta do.” No doubt, I was ignoring the fact that my friend was actually moving away. It may have taken the preparation of fourteen pounds of southern slow cooked brisket for a large crowd of Jessica’s friends for the reality to really settle in. Four hours of standing by a 325 degree oven leaves room to account for late nights at College Hill, paddle boarding adventures, hikes to Hanging Rock with Winston in tow, marathons of Law & Order, latkes parties, truffle popcorn and countless gossip sessions at the nail salon.

I’m a believer that places are really only spaces without people. So it is my hope that the house full of  friends on Saturday night will leave a reminder to Jessica that Greensboro will always be home . Our friendship has been filled with much laughter, a few tears and many adventures, both significant and insignificant. Without a doubt, you’ll be missed on Mendenhall. Come back and see us soon – I’ll probably still have leftover brisket.

Atlanta Brisket, Cooks Illustrated

  • 3 1/2 lbs beef brisket, flat cut fat trimmed to 1/4 inch thick
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 teaspoons canola oil
  • 1 lb onion, halved and sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • 2 cups cola
  • 1 1/2 cups ketchup
  • 4 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme

Using fork, poke holes all over brisket. Rub entire surface of brisket with 1 T salt. Wrap brisket in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 or up to 24 hours.

Adjust oven rack to lower middle position and heat oven to 325. Pat brisket dry with paper towels and season with pepper. Heat 2 t oil in 12 inch nonstick skillet over med-high til just smoking. Place brisket fat side down in skillet; weigh down with dutch oven or heavy cast iron skillet and cook til well browned, about 4 minutes. Remove dutch oven, flip brisket and replace dutch oven on top and cook til other side is well browned,about 4 minute Transfer to platter.

Heat remaining 2 t oil in same skillet over med til shimmering. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden brown, 10-12 minute Transfer to 13×9 inch baking dish and spread into even layer

Combine cola, ketchup, onion powder, sugar, garlic powder, thyme, 1 t salt, and 1 t pepper in a bowl. Place brisket fat side up on top of onions and pour cola mixture over brisket. Place parchment paper over brisket and cover dish tightly with foil. Bake til tender and fork slips easily in and out of meat, 3 1/2 – 4 hours. Let brisket rest in liquid, uncovered for 30 minutes.

Transfer brisket to carving board. Skim any fat from top of sauce with large spoon. Slice brisket against grain into 1/4 inch thick slices and return to baking dish. Serve with sauce.

 

Toasted Spice Vinaigrette with Grilled Steak

10 Jul

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This month’s Bon Appetit features the most beautiful steak and tomato dish drizzled with a Toasted Spice Vinaigrette. Once I flipped through the pages (by the pool in full summer style), I couldn’t wait to make it. It’s simple, full of flavor and makes a regular grilled steak stand out from the rest. Make sure to use good fresh spices with this recipe – I recommend a trip to Savory Spice Shop in Friendly Center. They are pros. Let them know I sent you.

This simple meal could stand up to any dinner party. It’s a Sunday Supper or outstanding Saturday night meal with special guests.

Toasted Spice Vinaigrette from Bon Appetit, July 2014

  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin 
  • 1 teaspoon ground fennel
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black

Toast coriander, cumin, and fennel seeds in a dry small skillet over medium heat, tossing, until fragrant, about 3 minutes.  Whisk with oil, vinegar, and mustard in a small bowl; season with salt and pepper.

 

Layered Cobb Salad

1 Jul

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It’s really feeling like summer lately – flags on porches, sunshine until nine at night, lots of rose wine pouring and an interest in never turning on the stove. Last night, I made a layered cobb salad for an easy weeknight meal with a friend – and lots of lunch leftovers. This salad can be made with all store bought ingredients – rotisserie chicken, precooked eggs and precooked bacon. Or you can take the time to cook each ingredient – it takes little to no time but requires a little heat in the kitchen.

This salad is perfect for a casual party (serve with a good crusty bread) or a picnic in the park. Get chopping!

Layered Cobb Salad:

  • 2 split chicken breasts (roasted in the oven at 400 for about 30ish minutes – or buy a rotisserie bird!)
  • 1  avocado, cubed
  • 1 head romaine, chopped
  • 5 bacon slices, cooked until crisp and finely chopped
  • a handful of grape tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
  • a handful or two of greens (baby kale, watercress, arugula)
  • 4 hard-boiled large eggs, chopped
  • 3 or 4 scallions, chopped
  • 1/2 English cucumber sliced

Layer the salad in a large bowl (I love the glass to show the layers). Romaine lettuce, chicken, bacon, tomatoes, cucumbers, scallions, avocado, greens, egg and cheese! Dress with your favorite dressing.

Porterhouse Pork Chop with Garden Chimichurri

23 Jun

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There’s a lot of chatter online right now about the renaming of cuts of pork. When it comes to a pork chop, I tend to go for the thickest cut, bone-in chop at the butcher. They can be grilled without drying out and can take a nice char. Next time you’re looking for a simple grilled chop, I recommend the Porterhouse Chop – formerly known as the Loin Chop. If you’re curious about cuts of pork, this is a great guide. 

Last weekend, before my week trip to the midwest and wild weekend in Asheville (why its been so quiet round here), I hosted a couple of friends for regular Sunday supper. I grilled Powerhouse Pork Chops, roasted baked fries with sweet and salty paprika (my favorite from Savory Spice Shop) and make a simple green salad. The creativity came through with homemade garden chimichurri. Chimichurri is an Argentinean zesty blend of herbs, garlic, tangy acids and shallots. It is perfect for any meat but particularly good on a bone-in juicy pork chop.

Porterhouse Chops only need a nice seasoning of salt and pepper, and several minutes on a very hot grill. Once cooked to your preference, serve with bright green and super tangy chimichurri! You’re friends will be very surprised if they think it is pesto!

Garden Chimichurri 

  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2/3 cup sherry wine vinegar
  • juice of one  lemon juice
  • a large handful chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • a small handful chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1 large sprig chopped fresh oregano leaves
  • 4 minced garlic
  • 3 minced shallots
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • a heaping pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

In a food processor, pulse all ingredients until nicely blended and bright green! Smear on grilled meats and bread!

This post is sponsored by the North Carolina Pork Council.

 

Easy Chicken and Pineapple Quesadilla

13 Jun

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I’m perfecting the weeknight single person meal these days. Nothing speaks “I need Friday” more than rushing home to open a bottle of red wine and make a simple dinner. Last night, I put together a Easy Chicken and Pineapple Quesadilla with all store bought items from The Fresh Market. Whole wheat tortilla, a rotisserie chicken breast, precut pineapple, cilantro, jalapeno slices and a little BBQ sauce or hot sauce. It was no work of art, but hot the spot after a long week and lean towards Friday. TGIF!

Rare Tuna and Roasted Cauliflower Salad

9 Jun

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Just another manic Monday. My summer has been packed with projects and I can’t seem to make more than 15 minute meals on a week night. And I’m not talking about the kinds on TV that involve weekend prep, freezing and crockpots. My 15 meals  mostly look like the above – a salad combination of greens, items from the olive bar, roasted cauliflower or broccoli and a piece of grilled fish. All in all, pretty healthy and sophisticated for a Monday night after a long day and a trip to the gym. I highly recommend getting creative. It makes busy living seem much more like ‘easy living.’

What is your goto weeknight meal?

Easy Grilled Bulgogi

1 Jun

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This is a Mark Bittman recipe, so it really needs no explanation. I’m not sure I would have attempted making my own Korean bulgogi with out the simplicity of this recipe. It takes practically no time, it’s uniquely seasoned and requires no unusually special ingredients. This paired very well with other small dishes and lots of wine. I’d even recommend a double batch, it didn’t last very long!

Beef Bulgogi

1 bunch scallions, roughly chopped

8 or more garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped

1 tablespoon sugar or honey

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 cup soy sauce

1 tablespoon sesame oil

2 pounds sirloin, rib-eye or skirt steak, thinly sliced, or 3 to 4 pounds beef short ribs, boned and thinly sliced

Boston or loose-leaf lettuce leaves for serving

Siracha, for serving.

Make a marinade by blending together the first six ingredients. Slice the steak and marinate for just two hours. Using a hot grill, grill slices very quickly to sear the beef but not over cook. Serve in lettuce leaves with siracha!

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