Thursday, April 25, 2013

Asparagus Salad on a Bed of Arugula with Roasted Red Peppers & Kalamata Olives

I always keep an eye out for ways to dress up basic asparagus, which is always a favorite in our house. We serve asparagus several ways, but our two favorite ways are as a salad dressed with different vinaigrettes or napped with a simple lemon butter sauce as a side dish.

Today I have an asparagus salad, dressed with a balsamic vinaigrette, served over baby arugula, then gussied up with a topping of chopped roasted red peppers, red onion, and kalamata olives.

Don’t let the length of the recipes below scare you. I’ve broken it down into three recipes because the first two – poached asparagus and the balsamic vinaigrette - are very basic recipes that are nice to know how to make without needing a recipe. The last is the gussied up part – the arugula and the topping of roasted red peppers, red onion, and kalamata olives. This is super easy to prepare - yet I think you will agree with me – it is very impressive on the plate.

Basic Recipe for Poached Asparagus
From My Carolina Kitchen – Sam Hoffer

1 lb fresh asparagus, tough lower ends snapped off
2 teaspoons salt
Water flavored with low sodium, low fat beef broth* to taste

After the tough ends of asparagus have been removed, peel the remaining ends unless the asparagus is thin; if thin, leave as is. Bring water flavored with beef broth and salt to a boil in a shallow pan. Add asparagus, turn heat to low and cook for about 4 minutes until asparagus is crisp tender, taking care not to overcook. Immediately plunge the asparagus in an ice water bath to stop the cooking and retain the green color. After a minute or two, remove the asparagus and dry well with a towel. You may either chill it for about an hour, wrapped, or serve at room temperature dressed with vinaigrette of your choice.

*I like to flavor my asparagus water with beef broth because it brings a very nice flavor to the cooking broth and thus the cooked asparagus itself.

Basic Balsamic Vinaigrette
From My Carolina Kitchen – Sam Hoffer

Balsamic vinaigrette differs from a traditional oil & vinegar vinaigrette in that it has less oil to vinegar from the standard 3 to 1 oil to vinegar ratio of a traditional vinaigrette. Mustard is used for flavor and as an emulsifier.  

1 tablespoon good balsamic vinegar
½ to 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, either regular or grainy
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground pepper

In a small jar with a tight fitting lid, add the vinegar, mustard, olive oil, and salt and pepper. Shake well and set aside. If you want a milder vinaigrette with less emphasis on the flavor of the vinegar, use 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil.  Easily doubled or tripled.

Asparagus, Roasted Red Pepper, and Arugula Salad
Adapted from Simply Salads by Jennifer Chandler – makes 4 appetizer salads

Balsamic vinaigrette from above recipe, doubled
1 lb freshly poached asparagus, prepared from above basic recipe
1 bag (5 ounces) baby arugula
1 roasted red bell pepper, thinly sliced and then chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1/3 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped

Double the basic recipe for a balsamic vinaigrette, using the grainy mustard, and set aside. I used aged red balsamic vinegar, but if you wish use a white one for this as was called for in the original salad recipe from Simple Salads. Prepare the basic recipe for poached asparagus above. Layer the asparagus in a row on top of the arugula either on individual serving plates or on a serving platter. Generously drizzle with the balsamic vinaigrette, then garnish with the roasted red peppers, red onion and olives. Grind a little freshly ground black pepper over the salad. Good served at room temperature.

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This will be shared with Foodie Friday at Rattlebridge Farms, Miz Helen’s Country Kitchen Full Plate Thursday, Foodie Friday at Simple Recipes, Foodtastic Friday at Not Your Ordinary Recipes, Seasonal Sunday at the Tablescaper, and On the Menu Monday at Stone Gable.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Celebrating Lilly Pulitzer’s Colorful Life with her Latino Shrimp and Corn Bisque

Today I’m celebrating the colorful life of Lilly Pulitzer with her recipe for Latino Shrimp and Corn Bisque. As you may know, Lilly died earlier this month at the age of 81 at her home in Palm Beach.

Lilly Pulitzer’s name is synonymous with Palm Beach and her famous colorful summer shift dress. Her life was filled with color and fun and it all started with an orange juice stand. When Lilly was 21 she eloped with Peter Pulitzer from New York City to the sun and sand of Palm Beach where Peter owned orange groves. In the shadows of Peter’s groves in 1959-ish, Lilly opened a juice stand. An heiress herself who married young into the wealthy publishing family, she designed a sleeveless shift dress from colorful printed cotton to disguise the juice stains on her clothing and Lilly Pulitzer the clothing label was born.

Source & Shop

Lilly’s classic shift dress shot to fame when her old schoolmate from Miss Porter’s school, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, was photographed wearing a “Lilly” while on vacation. Rose Kennedy, Jackie’s mother-in-law, also had her own beloved “Lilly” shift. After the First Lady appeared on the cover of Life magazine in 1962 wearing a “Lilly” shift dress, the brand’s popularity took off “like zingo.”  To quote her obituary in the New York Times, “Lilly Pulitzer created a look that proved to be so popular it would become a mark of membership for old-money families at play for more than five decades. Her vividly flowered house dresses became known, in the shorthand of the rich, simply as Lilly’s.


As a matter of fact, I have a couple of Lilly’s in my own wardrobe. For the ladies, let me share a little warm weather secret - shifts are so much cooler and more comfortable to wear than shorts when it’s hot. I consider them to be a staple in my summer wardrobe and believe me when I tell you I know hot because we lived in the tropics for years. Several of my favorite Lilly styles are on my Pinterest board “Fashion Looks I Love.”

Lilly is almost as well-known for her entertaining and food as she is for her fashion. She had a knack for turning the art of living well into a kind of informal elegance with an attitude of “affluence at ease.” Parties, decorating, food, and fashion have been part of her life in Palm Beach since she arrived there in the 1950’s. And she shares this in both of the delightful books, Essentially Lilly – A Guide to Colorful Entertaining and Essentially Lilly – a Guide to Colorful Holidays. Follow Lilly as she shows us how to incorporate her unique Palm Beach easy-tropical-style-of-entertaining into our daily lives all the while the celebrating the good times with our own family and friends with Lilly’s yummy-good food.  Lilly’s recipe for Latino Shrimp and Corn Bisque is the recipe I’ve chosen today to celebrate her colorful life. The original recipe did not call for mussels or oysters. They are our addition and may be left out if you wish to authenticate Lilly’s original bisque. I’ve shown pictures of both ways.

Lilly Pulitzer’s Latino Shrimp and Corn Bisque with Mussels & Oysters
Adapted from Essentially Lilly – a Guide to Colorful Holidays – serves 8 as a first course or 4 for a light lunch with a salad

1 ½ pounds medium sized (26 to 30 count) shrimp with shells, preferably wild caught
3 cups bottled clam juice
2 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
5 tablespoons (1/2 stick plus 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 small rib of celery with leaves, finely chopped
½ cup diced chopped red bell pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
Dash of Tabasco or other hot sauce
¼ cup dry sherry
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 ½ cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
1/2 cup heavy cream, plus additional for garnish if desired
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
8 to 12 freshly shucked oysters, optional
12 – 16 cleaned mussels, optional
Chopped fresh cilantro for garnish

Peel and devein shrimp, reserving their shells. Coarsely chop some of the shrimp. Cover and refrigerate. Bring the shrimp shells to a boil in one quart of water over high heat along with the clam juice, parsley, thyme and peppercorns. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes to blend their flavors. Strain and reserve their liquid.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add onion, celery, red pepper and garlic, then cover and cook until the vegetables soften, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle the mixture with flour and stir well to incorporate. Whisk in the reserved shrimp shell liquid, a dash of Tabasco sauce, sherry and tomato paste. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, then reduce heat to low and cook until lightly thickened, about 3 minutes.

The soup may be prepared up to this point 1 day ahead and then cooled, covered and refrigerated. Reheat to simmering over low heat. Stir in reserved shrimp, corn, oysters, mussels and heavy cream and cook just until the shrimp turn opaque and mussels open, about 3 minutes. Discard any mussels that do not open, then season to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and top with a drizzle of extra cream if desired. Sprinkle with the cilantro and serve hot.

This will be shared with Foodie Friday at Rattlebridge Farms, Miz Helen’s Country Kitchen Full Plate Thursday, Foodie Friday at Simple Recipes, Foodtastic Friday at Not Your Ordinary Recipes, Seasonal Sunday at the Tablescaper, and On the Menu Monday at Stone Gable.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Steak Salad with Spinach, Blueberries, & Toasted Pecans plus a Review of Wine Glasses from Wine Enthusiast

Combine steak, blueberries, feta cheese and toasted pecans in this simple salad and you have a healthy and satisfying supper.

There’s lots of room for substitutions in this recipe. For instance I used toasted pecans, but the original recipe called for walnuts. I think blue cheese or gorgonzola would be fabulous in place of the mild feta. Blue cheese would look pretty using raspberries for the blueberries. Strawberries and spinach always pair well, or you could use peppery arugula or baby greens for the spinach. If you’re not a meat lover, grilled chicken would be fine in place of the steak.

For a reason that I cannot explain, the only place other than on line that I can find raspberry vinegar is in Italian markets. Maybe someone who knows more about Italian food than we do could explain it. (By the way, if you can't find raspberry vinegar, fig vinegar is excellent in this recipe.)  To make a raspberry vinaigrette, combine 2 tablespoons raspberry vinegar with 2 tablespoons olive oil, a bit of honey and a dash of dry vermouth, a scant teaspoon crème fraiche or sour cream, and some sea salt and freshly ground black pepper in a jar with a tight fitting lid and shake well. Raspberry vinaigrette is also excellent with a tossed salad of baby greens and broiled or grilled salmon.

This salad can easily be put together in under 30 minutes if you’re looking for something quick when you’re pressed for time. With only 392 calories and 11 grams of carbohydrates, this could almost be called a slim dinner, especially for those such as ourselves who are watching our carbs and calories.

Steak Salad with Spinach, Blueberries & Toasted Pecans 
Adapted from Eating Well – serves 4

1 cup fresh blueberries, divided
½ cup chopped toasted pecans or walnuts
3 tablespoons raspberry vinegar or other fruity vinegar such as fig vinegar
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1 teaspoon sugar
3 tablespoons walnut oil, or hazelnut oil
1 pound of steak, I used a NY strip
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
8 cups fresh baby spinach
¼ cup crumbled feta cheese

Preheat grill to medium. In a food processor, pulse ¼ cup blueberries, ¼ cup nuts, vinegar, shallot, sugar and a pinch of kosher salt to form a chunky paste. With the motor running, add the oil until incorporated. Transfer the dressing to a large bowl and set aside.

Sprinkle steak with salt and pepper. Grill the steak about 5 minutes per side for medium-rare, 6 minutes per side for medium. Let rest on a plate for 5 minutes before slicing.

Add spinach to the bowl with the dressing and toss to coat. Taste for seasonings and add more salt and pepper if desired. Divide the salad among 4 plates. Thinly slice the steak crosswise. Top the spinach with the steak, feta cheese and remaining blueberries and walnuts. Perfect with a glass of red wine.

Speaking of wine, several weeks ago Wine Enthusiast asked if I would like to try a set of their wine glasses for review. How could I turn down an offer to try wine glasses? Of course I couldn’t. Here are the red wine glasses they sent me – their Fusion Whirl Pinot Noir.

The first thing I was attracted to was their shape. They aren’t too tall and I found the bowl very stylish and at the same time it allowed the wine to be swirled without spilling. The stem is narrow and feels very comfortable and nice in your hand. I used them at a dinner party the other night and received compliments on the glasses from my guests. Two other good things I like are that they are break resistant and can go in the dishwasher. I can say with enthusiasm that I highly recommend them. Thank you Wine Enthusiast. You definitely have won me over as a new customer. So the next time you need new wine glasses, give Wine Enthusiast a try. You will not be disappointed.

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This will be shared with Foodie Friday at Rattlebridge Farms, Miz Helen’s Country Kitchen Full Plate Thursday, Foodie Friday at Simple Recipes, Foodtastic Friday at Not Your Ordinary Recipes, Seasonal Sunday at the Tablescaper, and On the Menu Monday at Stone Gable.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Three Quick Things

Three quick things I would like to mention. First, readers who subscribe by email will see a little change in what My Carolina Kitchen looks like when it arrives in their inbox – a snippet of the new post will arrive, followed by a link to the entire post, which allows you to see and read the post in the very best format.

Secondly, if you leave a comment, you’ll see a change. Lately I’ve been deluged with spam and the way I see to fix is that that I have two choices – either eliminate the ability to leave an anonymous comment or install that “difficult to read” word verification thing that many of you don’t like. Spam almost always comes in the form of anonymous comments, so I’ve chosen, at least for the time being, to eliminate that choice. I hope at some point to be able to offer it again, but for now I have to do something about the spam. It’s killing me and many other bloggers have chosen this route as well. I sincerely apologize for any inconvenience and my email address is available in my profile if you need to contact me.

Last but not least, please be sure to come back tomorrow for my weekly post featuring a quick and easy to prepare supper in under 30 minutes – a steak salad with spinach, blueberries, feta, and toasted pecans pictured above.

See you tomorrow.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Moroccan Chicken Stew

Moroccan chicken stew is a tagine, simmered with vegetables, olives, oranges, lemons and garlic. It’s citrusy, sunny appearance was a welcome addition to our dinner table last week when even south Florida had a chill in the air, our sweaters had to come back out, and we were, like the rest of the country, longing for springtime.

Traditionally served over couscous, the stew goes together very quickly and can easily be on the table in about 45 minutes. This is simple enough for a weekday dinner or fancy enough for company. Speaking of which we will be having this week, so if you don’t see as much of me as usual, we’re out showing our house guests the sites and hoping for plenty of sunshine on the beach.

Moroccan Chicken Stew 
Adapted from Wine, Food & Friends by Karen MacNeil – serves 3 to 4

1 ½ teaspoons olive oil
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs, coarsely chopped
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup chopped onion
½ cup chopped red bell pepper
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon saffron threads, crushed
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ cup fat-free, low sodium chicken broth (or homemade)
½ cup orange juice
¾ cup chopped orange sections (about 1 orange)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons sliced pitted kalamata olives
1 tablespoon chopped lemon sections (about ½ of a lemon)
2 ½ cups hot cooked couscous
Flat-leaf parsley springs for garnish

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Season chicken with salt and freshly ground black pepper and add the chicken, bell pepper, spices and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, for 12 minutes. Stir in broth and orange juice. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes. Remove the chicken from the heat. The stew can be made ahead at this point. Stir in orange, parsley, cilantro, olives and lemon sections. Serve over couscous and garnish with parsley if desired.

This will be shared with Foodie Friday at Rattlebridge Farms, Miz Helen’s Country Kitchen Full Plate Thursday, Foodie Friday at Simple Recipes, Foodtastic Friday at Not Your Ordinary Recipes, Seasonal Sunday at the Tablescaper, and On the Menu Monday at Stone Gable.

Have a great weekend everyone.