Weather here in the South is perfect grilling weather and perfect for dining out on the patio. We have guests for dinner and grilling steak with plenty of Mediterranean flavors is my choice for the menu. When I grill steak, I often make extra so that the leftovers can be used for a salad or Mexican dishes.
When I cook beef, I prefer grass-fed organic meat. As such the cooking technique is a little different. The steak benefits from being brushed with olive oil and cooked a much shorter time than regular beef. Using these tips makes for a delicious grilled steak.
Grilled Steak with Balsamic Glaze
Sliced Tomatoes with Italian dressing and basil
Grilled Ribeye Steak
1/2 cup good quality balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup minced shallots
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil plus extra for the steaks
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 tablespoons drained capers
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
4 3/4-inch-thick grass-fed rib-eye steaks
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 cups arugula
Parmesan cheese, shaved
Simmer the balsamic vinegar in a small skillet over low heat until thickened. Add the shallots, 1/4 cup oil and crushed red pepper. Return to a simmer and remove the pan from the heat. Whisk in the parsley, capers and thyme.
Rub both sides of steaks with olive oil. Combine the minced garlic, paprika, salt and black pepper in a small bowl. Sprinkle on both sides of the steaks. Let rest at room temperature for 1 hour.
Prepare an outdoor barbecue for medium-high heat. Brush the grill rack with oil.
Grill the steaks until cooked to your desired degree of doneness, but they are best if cooked for about 3 minutes per side for medium-rare.
Line a serving plate or individual plates with arugula and place the cooked steaks on top. Spoon the glaze over the steaks and arugula. Sprinkle with the shaved cheese and serve.
In my part of the world, produce planted in February is coming into season during the month of April. Friday’s market had plenty of radishes, cauliflower, broccoli, potatoes, spinach, leeks and asparagus. Fresh herbs and citrus fruits are still plentiful and they make excellent flavor additives to savory dishes.
There was lots to choose from, so the menu this week will reflect the variety of spring crops available. Here are a few ideas for when these crops are in season in your area.
Pair this salad with the scallop recipe below. It is a great combination.
4 large radishes
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon honey
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup extra virgin extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1 oz baby spinach leaves
1/2 cup toasted pecan halves
Whisk together the lemon juice, orange zest, salt, honey and cayenne; whisk in the extra virgin olive oil. Set aside
Rinse and trim the radishes and slice into thin rounds.
Line a salad bowl with the spinach leaves and mound the radishes in the center and top them with the olives.
Drizzle the salad with the dressing just before serving.
Broccoli and Ricotta Pizza
1 lb pizza dough, at room temperature
2 cups broccoli florets
8 oz mozzarella, sliced thin
2 cups ricotta cheese
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
20 black olives, pitted and halved
2 chopped fresh plum tomatoes
Heat the oven to 500 degrees F. Oil a large pizza pan.
Press the pizza dough out on the pan to the edges.
Cook the broccoli in salted boiling water for 2 minutes until it is just crisp-tender.
Drain, rinse under cold running water and drain well.
In a medium-sized bowl, combine the ricotta, Parmesan and garlic. Add a pinch of salt.
Place the sliced mozzarella evenly on the dough.
Drop the ricotta mixture in tablespoons on top of the dough and mozzarella.
Sprinkle with the olives and chopped tomatoes. Arrange the broccoli on top of the mixture.
Drizzle the top of the pizza with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
Bake the pizza for 18 to 20 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes before slicing.
Pasta with Asparagus, Prosciutto and Lemon Sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 ounces thin sliced prosciutto, diced
1 garlic clove, sliced thin
1 cup half & half or heavy cream
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
12 oz short pasta (I use Barilla’s Casarecce pasta for this dish)
1 bunch very thin asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 in pieces
1 1⁄2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
Chopped fresh basil to taste
Bring 4 quarts salted water to boil in large pot.
Add the asparagus to the boiling water with the pasta for the last two minutes of cooking time.
Cook pasta al dente, about 10 minutes. Reserve 1 cup of pasta cooking water, drain pasta and asparagus and return to pot.
While the pasta is cooking, heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat until just smoking.
Cook prosciutto until lightly browned and crisp, (5 minutes) Transfer to paper towel lined plate.
Add garlic to the pan and cook 30 seconds.
Stir in cream and lemon juice and simmer until thickened, 3-5 minutes. Season with salt to taste.
Add the pasta and asparagus to the lemon cream sauce with 1/2 cup reserved pasta water, the cheese and the basil, toss to combine, add remaining water, if needed.
Sprinkle with black pepper and crunchy prosciutto. Serve immediately.
Sea Scallops in a Citrus Rosemary Sauce
I also like to serve this dish with a mango salsa. See recipe:
Serves 2. This recipe is easy to increase the number of servings.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small finely chopped shallot
6 large sea scallops, side muscle removed
Flour, for dredging
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Juice and zest from half a large orange
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
Heat oil in a small skillet. Sauté shallots over medium heat until soft. Push them to one corner of the pan.
Pat scallops dry with paper towels. Season flour with salt and pepper.
Dredge the scallops in the flour.
Increase heat under pan to high; sear the scallops for 1 minute. Turn and cook the other side for 2 minutes.
Add lemon juice, orange juice and orange zest to the skillet (the sauce will sizzle and steam).
Bring to a boil, reduce heat and swirl in butter and rosemary. Serve immediately.
2 slices pasture-raised bacon
2 leeks, rinsed well with white and light green parts sliced very thin
2 stalks celery, diced
1 carrot, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 quart vegetable or chicken broth
2 bay leaves
2 cups half & half or whole milk
Fresh dill or chives, chopped fine
Sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
Sour cream for garnish, optional
In a heavy-bottomed soup pot, cook the bacon until crisp. Remove to a paper towel. When cool enough to handle crumble into small pieces.
Heat the reserved bacon fat over medium heat and add the leeks, garlic, celery and carrot.
Cook until tender, about five to six minutes or so.
Add the broth, cubed potatoes and a teaspoon of sea salt and ½ teaspoon of pepper. Cover the pot.
Cook the potatoes, vegetables and broth together over medium-low heat until the vegetables are softened and fall apart when pressed with the tines of a fork, about thirty minutes.
Puree with an immersion blender or use a processor.
Add the half & half, dill or chives to taste, crumbled bacon and adjust the seasoning. Reheat over low.
Serve with a tablespoon of sour cream, if desired.
This is the right time of year to buy asparagus. They are in season and the price is low. Of course, you will get tired of them, if you cook asparagus the same way each time you serve them. Have you tried asparagus in a quiche or an omelet? Delicious – give it a try. Double the ingredients and make a second quiche for the freezer.
1 refrigerated pie crust for a 9 inch pie, at room temperature
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed
3 slices bacon
1 shallot, minced
1/4 cup chopped chives
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 cup half & half cream
1 tablespoon chopped chives
1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar
Heat the oven to 450°F.
Line a baking pan with heavy-duty foil. Spread asparagus on the baking sheet and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place the bacon strips on one end of the pan.
Roast until the asparagus are tender, about 12 minutes. Cool and cut into one inch pieces. Drain the bacon on a paper towel and crumble.
Lower oven temperature to 350°F.
Place pie crust in a 9-inch pie pan. Place the pie pan on a clean baking sheet.
Arrange the roasted asparagus, crumbled bacon and shallots over the bottom of the crust.
In a mixing bowl, combine the chives, Dijon mustard, eggs, half & half, a large pinch salt and a large pinch black pepper. Whisk together until well combined.
Pour over asparagus.Top with the cheese.
Bake 45 minutes or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
Cabbage is beautiful this time of year – mild and tender – so take advantage of one of the season’s best vegetables. Colcannon is popular because it combines the cabbage with potatoes for a delicious side dish.
4 large baking potatoes, cooked, peeled and cut into small cubes
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
2 leeks, white and pale green parts only, sliced in half lengthwise, thinly sliced crosswise
2 garlic cloves, minced
Half a large head of green cabbage, thinly shredded
1 1/2 cups half & half
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon finely diced fresh chives
Melt 4 tablespoons butter in a deep skillet with a cover over medium heat.
Add the leeks and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until very soft, 8–10 minutes.
Add the shredded cabbage and cook, stirring often until the cabbage is soft and tender.
Add half & half and bring to a simmer.
Add potatoes and remaining butter and cook until the potatoes are hot and most of the half & half is absorbed.
Coarsely mash with a potato masher and season with salt and pepper.
Transfer the colcannon to a large serving bowl and sprinkle with chives.
This recipe can be prepared ahead and reheated in a moderate oven or in the microwave just before serving.
Grilled Chicken Over Greek Salad
This is one of my favorite dishes. So many delicious ingredients – all in one bowl. This salad works in any season and the chicken doesn’t have to be grilled. It can be sautéed or baked in the oven,
For the chicken marinade
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
2 ½ tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Greek seasoning
Large pinch sea salt
Dash black pepper
2 small or one large boneless chicken breast
For the salad
One heart of romaine lettuce, washed and shredded
2 medium vine-ripened tomatoes, cut into 1 1⁄2″ pieces
Half a cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, and sliced crosswise into 1⁄4″ pieces
1⁄2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
½ bell pepper, sliced
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon. red wine vinegar
1⁄8 teaspoon dried oregano
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
6 oz. feta, crumbled
8 kalamata olives
4 Tuscan (pepperoncini) peppers
To prepare the chicken
In a glass measuring cup, mix the first seven ingredients together.
Place the chicken breasts in a storage dish with a cover and pour the marinade over the meat. Refrigerate for up to 3 hours.
Prepare an outdoor grill or heat an indoor grill.
Place the meat on the hot grill and turn the chicken about every 4 minutes until the chicken registers 165 degrees internal meat temperature. Set on a plate to cool while you prepare the salad.
To prepare the salad
Slice the chicken into thin pieces. Combine the lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers and onions in a salad bowl.
In a small bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar and oregano; season with salt and pepper and pour over the salad mixture. Toss and top with feta, olives, pepperoncini and sliced chicken.
Serve with warm pita bread.
Open-Face Reuben – My Way
This sandwich can be made with any leftover meat. I just happened to have corned beef from St. Patrick’s Day on hand. I have use sliced turkey, chicken and steak in the past for this sandwich and they all turned out well. I usually bake oven fries with this dish which take about 20 minutes. Put the sandwich in the oven after the potatoes have baked for ten minutes.
2 large slices rye bread; see link for my homemade rye bread recipe
10 slices cooked corned beef
4 slices swiss cheese
½ cup sauerkraut, drained
4 tablespoons mustard sauce, recipe below
Heat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Toast the bread and place it on a foil lined baking pan. Spread 2 tablespoons of the mustard sauce on each piece of toasted bread. Arrange the meat slices on top.
Place 1/4 cup sauerkraut on top of each sandwich and top with two slices of cheese. Place the sandwiches in the oven for 10 minutes so the meat can heat and the cheese melt.
Serve with some great pickles.
For the Guinness Mustard Sauce:
1/4 cup stone ground mustard
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons sour cream
½ teaspoon horseradish powder (ground)
4 tablespoons Guinness beer
In medium bowl combine mustard, mayonnaise, horseradish and sour cream together. Slowly whisk in beer. Chill in the refrigerator.
Spring is here and so are luscious strawberries at very reasonable prices. Take advantage of this beautiful fruit and eat them as is or use them to make some delicious recipes. Below are some of my favorite ways to use strawberries. What are yours?
Strawberry Breakfast Cake
3 tablespoons unsalted butter,softened
¼ cup brown sugar
½ cup self-rising flour
½ teaspoon cinnamon
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup self-rising flour
1 1/2 cups sliced strawberries
Grease a 9 inch springform pan and sprinkle the inside with a little granulated sugar. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine the topping ingredients together in a medium mixing bowl. With your fingers, rub the mixture into crumbs. Set aside.
In the large bowl of an electric mixer beat the butter and sugar together until creamed. Add the eggs, one at a time.
On low-speed add the sour cream and vanilla. Gradually add the flour, mixing until incorporated.
Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan. Top the batter with the sliced strawberries and sprinkle the topping over the berries.
Bake the cake in the center of the oven for about one hour or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
Let the cake cool in the pan for several hours and then remove the cake pan ring. The cake can also be served warm.
Preserves are cooked the same way jam is, however, the only difference is that the fruit in preserves is cut into chunks, whereas with jam, the fruit is crushed. The texture of preserves is not as stiff as jelly or jam. It is easy to spread and makes a great topping for ice cream or pancakes.
1 quart of strawberries
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 long strip of lemon zest
Fill 4 pint jars with boiling water and place the lids in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Set aside while you make the preserves.
Wash the strawberries and remove the leaves. Cut them in half and place the berries in a large saucepan. Add the sugar, lemon juice and zest. Stir well.
Bring the mixture to a boil and stir occasionally until mixture thickens, about 20-25 minutes or a candy thermometer registers 220 degrees F.
Remove the pan from the heat. Empty the pint jars and remove the lids from the water.
Fill the jars with the preserves and place the lids on the jars. Cool for a few hours at room temperature. Store the jars in the refrigerator for a few weeks or freeze them for future use.
Strawberry Almond Scones
Self-rising flour can be used for a quicker preparation. Leave out the salt and baking powder in the recipe, if using.
1 cup fresh hulled and finely chopped strawberries
3/4 cup heavy cream, plus extra for brushing on the scones
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for shaping the scones
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
½ cup toasted sliced almonds
½ teaspoon almond extract
Coarse sugar for the topping
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, combine the chopped strawberries and cream and set aside while you make the dough.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder and salt. Using a pastry blender or 2 table knives in a scissor motion, cut butter into flour until the size of small peas.
Add the almond extract to the strawberry-cream mixture. Add the mixture to the flour/butter mixture and stir together with a fork, just until combined.
Turn dough out onto a floured surface and gently pat into an 8-inch circle. Cut into 8 triangles.
Lightly brush the tops of the scones with a little cream and sprinkle with coarse sugar.
Transfer the triangles to the prepared baking sheet and bake until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Immediately place the scones on a rack to cool completely.
Strawberry Fruit Salad
1 pint strawberries, trimmed and sliced
2 large red mangoes, peeled and cut into small chunks
1 orange, zested, white pith removed and sliced
1 teaspoon honey
In a medium bowl, stir together the strawberries, mangoes, orange slices, zest and honey. Chill, covered, until ready to serve.
Besides a wide selection of spring vegetables, my market had American raised grass-fed, organic lamb on sale. Lamb is traditional for spring and it is tender at this time of year. I think lamb benefits from a simple marinade with lots of fresh herbs added. Grass-fed lamb has a sweet, clean taste with the flavor of herbs and grasses eaten on the pasture. It is never greasy and the texture is firm and tender.
One of the best ways to cook lamb chops is to grill them. They cook quickly — just a few minutes per side — and are best cooked to medium-rare, with an internal temperature of 120 degrees. Once you take the chops off the grill, let them rest a few minutes. They’ll continue to cook and the temperature will rise a few degrees.
Grilled Lamb Chops
4 loin lamb chops, about 1 ½ inches thick, as much fat as possible removed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, sliced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
¼ teaspoon coarse black pepper
½ teaspoon coarse sea salt
1 lemon, cut in half
Place the lamb chops in a glass dish with a cover. Add the oil, garlic, rosemary, oregano and black pepper. Toss the lamb in this mixture.
Cover the dish and refrigerate for at least four hours.
Remove the dish from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before grilling.
Prepare an outdoor grill and oil the grill grates.
Add the salt to the lamb chops and place them on the grill. Cook for about 5 minutes on each side or to taste.
Remove the meat from the grill to a serving plate and squeeze the lemon juice over the lamb. Let rest five minutes before serving.
Cucumber Yogurt Salad
2 large cucumbers
4 tablespoon plain Greek yogurt
1 garlic clove, minced
Half a sweet onion, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried dill
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
½ teaspoon agave syrup
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ cup crumbled feta cheese
Peel the cucumbers and cut them in half. Remove the seeds with a spoon and slice the cucumbers.
In a medium bowl combine yogurt, minced onion, garlic, dill, vinegar, agave, salt and black pepper.
Add cucumber and feta cheese to the yogurt mixture and toss until combined well.
Add salt and pepper to taste, if needed. Refrigerate several hours before serving.
Roasted Beets and Carrots
3 large beets, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
3 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 sprig fresh rosemary
kosher salt and black pepper
Balsamic Glaze with Figs
Heat the oven to 375° F. Toss the beets, carrots, oil, honey, rosemary, 1/2 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper together in a one quart baking dish. Cover the dish with foil.
Roast for about 45 minutes or until tender. Drizzle with the balsamic glaze before serving.
Looking forward to spring!
In my area asparagus, Florida plum tomatoes, celery, artichokes, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, broccoli, arugula, spinach, beets, strawberries, raspberries and herbs are all in season. So, while I was shopping this week, I decided to take advantage of the good prices for the asparagus, artichokes and strawberries. I would have bought beets and carrots also but my friend has a great garden and he shared some of his bounty with me.
This makes a wonderful appetizer that can be prepared in advance.
1 lemon, halved
2 large globe artichokes (about 12 ounces each before trimming)
1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 small shallot, minced
2 teaspoons chopped capers
1 tablespoon diced pickled pepper rings
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (chili)
1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
To prepare the stuffing:
In a large bowl combine the breadcrumbs, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, Parmesan, chopped parsley, rosemary, garlic, peppers, capers, red pepper flakes, ¼ teaspoon salt and the pepper.
Toss and set aside.
Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Fill a large bowl with water and squeeze juice from the lemon halves into the water. Cut off the artichoke stems and make sure the artichokes are level so they do not tip over in the baking dish..
Use a heavy, sharp stainless knife to cut the top 1 inch off each artichoke. Pull out the pale inner leaves from center. At the bottom, where the leaves were, is a furry bed called the choke.
Use a spoon (a grapefruit spoon works well) to scoop out the choke.
Next, using kitchen shears or a pair of scissors, trim the pointed ends from outer leaves of each artichoke. Wash the artichokes well with running water. Let the water run into each leaf.
I once had an embarrassing moment when I served this dish and a guest had a fly in one of the leaves.
Rub a lemon half over all the cut parts of the artichoke. Holding the artichokes over the bowl of stuffing, stuff the choke cavity and in between the leaves with the breadcrumb mixture.
Stand stuffed artichokes upright in a baking pan or casserole dish just large enough to fit the artichokes.and generously drizzle olive oil over the center of each artichoke.
Fill the baking dish with water until it reaches 1/4 way up the artichokes. Squeeze the lemon juice from the halves and add it to the water. Cover the pan with foil and poke several holes in the foil.
Bake artichokes for about 11/2 hours, or until tender and a knife slides easily into an artichoke and a leaf pulls out easily.
Remove from the baking dish and set on individual serving dishes.
Bucatini with Spring Vegetables
6 ounces dried bucatini pasta (thick spaghetti)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 bunch asparagus
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
½ cup chopped pitted kalamata olives
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Lemon wedges (optional)
Trim the woody ends from the asparagus. Weigh the asparagus and set aside 8 oz. Reserve the rest of the asparagus for another recipe. Cut the 8 oz of asparagus into two-inch lengths.
In a large pot cook pasta according al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water and drain. Return pasta to the pot. Add 1 tablespoon oil. Toss until well combined; set aside.
Heat a large skillet over high heat and swirl in the remaining tablespoon of oil.
Add asparagus and garlic and saute for 2 minutes or until bright green. Add cherry tomatoes,olives, basil, salt and pepper and saute for 2 minutes.
Remove pan from the heat and add the cooked pasta; toss to combine. Add enough reserved pasta water to create a sauce. To serve, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
Pass with lemon wedges, if desired.
1 lb pizza dough
24 very thin asparagus
8 oz sliced mozzarella cheese
1 cup ricotta cheese
2 plum tomatoes, sliced thin
1 medium shallot, minced
¼ cup. pitted Kalamata olives, chopped
¼ cup fresh basil leaves, minced.
Salt & black pepper to taste
Snap off the bottom ends of the asparagus.
Mix the ricotta with the basil leaves and a little salt.
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Lightly oil a pizza pan.
Stretch the dough to cover the pan and brush with oil, making sure to coat edges well. Place the mozzarella slices evenly over the dough.
Scatter spoonfuls of ricotta over the dough and sprinkle with the shallots. Place the tomato slices over the cheese and arrange the asparagus in a spoke pattern over the tomato layer.
Sprinkle with the olives and black pepper.
Bake the pizza until browned, about 20 minutes.
Beet Salad With Blue Cheese
4 medium beets
1/2 cup raspberry vinegar, divided
1/4 cup honey, divided
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 shallot, minced
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
Zest of 1 orange, minced
Half a cucumber, peeled, seeded and sliced thin
2 thin carrots, shaved
6 cups baby greens
1/2 crumbled bleu cheese
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Remove the tops and tails from the beets.
Place the beets in an ovenproof casserole dish with 1/4 cup of the raspberry vinegar, 1 tablespoon of the honey and 1 tablespoon of oil. Add water until the liquid covers the beets halfway.
Cover the dish and bake for about an hour (longer if beets are larger). The beets should be tender throughout when pierced with a knife.
For the dressing:
Whisk the shallots, remaining raspberry vinegar and honey and salt and pepper together in a mixing bowl. Slowly drizzle the olive oil in while whisking. Stir in the orange zest.
While the beets are still warm, peel and cut them into eighths.
Cover a serving platter with the greens. Arrange the beets, carrots and cucumber slices on a platter and scatter the bleu cheese on top. Drizzle the dressing over the salad.
Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
2 refrigerated pie crust sheets for a double 9 inch pan, at room temperature
In large bowl combine:
2 1/2 cups hulled, sliced strawberries
2 1/2 cups of rhubarb cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup tapioca flour, all-purpose flour or other pie thickener
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F
Mix the sugar with the pie thickener in a large mixing bowl. Add the fruit, lemon juice and salt. Stir well to combine the sugar and fruit.
Fit one pastry sheet into the pie pan and place pan on a baking sheet.
Pour the filling into the pie shell.
Place the second pastry sheet on a cutting board. With a pastry cutter the sheet into 12 even lengths.
Place 6 strips on top of the pie filling and weave the second 6 over and under the strips on the pie to create a basket weave look.
Spray the strips with cooking spray and sprinkle with sugar.
Bake 45 to 50 minutes or until golden and the pie juice begins to bubble through the slits.
Let cool on the baking sheet (to catch drips).
No reservations needed for this dinner! Sometimes it is just nice to have a special dinner with your partner in your own home. I try to have this special kind of evening every once in a while. Come up with a menu that is elegant but easy to make and the evening will be memorable. The salad and main dish recipes below are easy and come together quickly. The dessert takes a bit longer but eclairs and cream puffs are not difficult to make. You can certainly make anything you like for dessert, as long as it is special to you. Keep romance alive.
Blue Cheese and Dried Cranberry Tossed Salad
1 hearts of romaine lettuce, chopped
1/4 of a cucumber, sliced
1/4 of a red onion, sliced thin
1/2 cup chopped toasted almonds
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup crumbled bleu cheese
3 tablespoons raspberry vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste
For the dressing: Whisk vinegar and honey in a small bowl until blended. Whisking continuously, slowly add oil. Season with salt and pepper.
Layer the romaine lettuce with the cucumber, onion, almonds, cranberries and bleu cheese on two individual salad plates. Dress the salad with the vinaigrette just before serving.
Filet Mignon with Leek Sauce
2 Filet Mignon steaks, about 7 oz each and 2 inches thick
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper
2 tablespoons butter
1 large leek, finely chopped white and light green sections of the leek
1/4 cup red wine (such as Cabernet)
1 tablespoon capers
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Preheat the grill or broiler. Lightly oil the grill rack or broiler pan. Rub the steaks with the salt, then press the pepper into both sides of the steaks.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and cook the leeks for 6 minutes, or until very soft. Add the wine, capers and tarragon.
Simmer for 3 minutes, or until well blended and heated through. Keep warm.
Grill or broil the steaks about 5-6 minutes on each side or until a meat thermometer inserted in the center registers 135°F for medium-rare. Place the steaks on individual serving plates.
Top with the leek sauce and sprinkle with parsley.
Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes
1 pound potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
1/4 – 1/2 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the potatoes and cook for 15 minutes, or until tender. Drain and place in a large bowl.
Mash the potatoes, adding the buttermilk until moist. Add the chives, cover and keep warm.
Chocolate Filled Eclairs
Makes 12 medium-sized eclairs
3/4 cup water
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 large eggs
Heat the oven to 425 degrees F; line a baking sheet with parchment paper or use an eclair pan.
Put the butter in a saucepan with the salt and water; bring it to a boil over medium-high heat and stir until the butter is melted.
Reduce the heat to medium and add the flour; continue to cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the mixture pulls away from sides of the pan and forms a ball, about 30 seconds.
Remove the pan from the heat and let cool for 3 to 4 minutes.
Add the eggs to the slightly cooled flour mixture one at a time, beating well with the wooden spoon after each addition — the batter will come apart after each egg is added but will reunite as you stir.
Mound dough about 1 inch high and 1 to 2 inches in diameter on the prepared baking sheet, leaving about an inch of space between each one. If using an eclair pan simply fill the indentations.
Bake until puffed and golden, about 25 minutes. Remove the puffs from the oven and pierce the bottom of each puff once with a skewer, to keep them from getting soggy.
Return to the oven; prop the oven door open with a wooden spoon and let the puffs crisp up for about 5 minutes. Cool on a rack.
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 tablespoons powdered sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
Place cream, vanilla extract, sugar and cocoa powder into a large bowl. Stir to combine the ingredients. Cover and chill the bowl and the beaters for at least 30 minutes.
When chilled, beat until stiff peaks form.
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a double boiler over hot, but not boiling water, combine the chocolate chips, butter and corn syrup. Stir until the chips are melted and the mixture is smooth; then add the vanilla.
To assemble the éclairs:
Cut the eclairs in half lengthwise. Pipe or spoon the filling into the pastries, then dip the tops of each one into the glaze.
For best results, serve immediately or refrigerate and serve within several hours.
Note: Puffs can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days; freeze unfilled eclairs for longer storage. If the eclairs soften in storage, they can be crisped up in the oven before filling and serving. To re-crisp; bake uncovered in a 300°F for about 5 to 8 minutes. Cool completely before filling.