Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Kosher Kobb Salad

Kosher Kobb Salad

Because I don’t eat pork, I created this from the classic, even though it’s technically not “Kosher” because it mixes meat with dairy, which is a no-no in strict Kosher cuisine.

Ingredients (or ½ for a smaller salad):

1 cup diced cooked turkey or chicken
1 Cup cooked and crumbled turkey bacon
1 cup diced avocado
1 cup diced tomatoes
1 cup crumbled blue cheese
1 cup minced hard boiled eggs
1 cup minced green onion
Your favorite pre-packaged salad greens. I used baby spinach for this example and dressed it with a light Raspberry Walnut Vinaigrette, but you can use Italian dressing, Blue Cheese or your favorite vinaigrette.

* Optional:
Black olives, capers, red onions, walnuts, jicima, radishes, red bell pepper, cranberries

Dress the spinach with the salad dressing and then arrange the other ingredients on top in sections.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Other Uses for Ginger Mango Salsa

Using the Ginger Mango Salsa, which can be found in September's postings, I wanted to come up with some variations on the theme. So the first step was to take the salsa and blend it. Then, using half the mixture (I doubled the recipe so there was plenty), I added about a 1/2 cup of orange juice and about 1 tablespoon of ground cumin. Then I used this as a marinade for a flank steak and 2 chicken breasts, which marinated for 24 hours before cooking them. The meat was delicious! I made them into quesidilas which I brought to work the other day, and the girls loved it!

To the second half of the blended salsa mixture, I added about 2 tablespoons of curry powder, and about 1 tablespoon of honey for a curry marinade, then I added half a beef tenderloin. After marinating for a couple of days, I cooked the beef yesterday and after letting it rest, thinly sliced it. Then took half the marinade (as there was too much, I froze the other half), and added 1 tablespoon olive oil to a hot pan and added the marinade. After reducing it by half, which cooked out the raw beef juices and the raw vegetables, then added 1/4 cup water and reduced by half again.

Test for seasonings, you may want to add another tablespoon or so of curry powder, add some salt and a dash of red chili flakes. When you are satisfied with the seasoning, add about 1/4 cut heavy cream to bind the sauce. Then add the resting juices from the steak into the sauce and add the thinly sliced steak to heat through. Serve with your favorite Asian rice. I served this with a Thai Lime rice and garnished it with cilantro.

Happy fall, and happy cooking! Tina

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Pico de Gallo

This is a very simple salsa to make. By making it fresh instead of buying it you will add so much more flavor to your dishes. It does yield a lot of juice if it sits, so you can drain the juice and add it to a marinade, which is exactly what I plan to do today! I'm making my salsa early and will make a marinade for some beef that I will cook tonight. This afternoon, I'll drain the excess juices of the salsa into the marinade for more flavor.


1/2 white onion, finely chopped

2 vine ripened tomatoes, chopped

1 jalepeno without the seeds and ribs, finely minced

1 bunch of cilantro leaves, finely minced

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

salt to taste

Combine all the ingredients and let sit at least half an hour to test the seasoning. Salsas always need more salt than you think, but I let the flavors marinate before tasting for salt.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Chicken Enchiladas

This recipe is so easy to make and is so delicious that it will become a favorite. As this yields six portions, feel free to double it as desired. It’s also good to freeze it for a last minute weeknight dinner.


Breast of one rotisserie chicken, skinned and shredded
1 Jar of your favorite tomatillo salsa
6 corn tortillas
8 ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Olives, onions, or avocado to garnish

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x9 casserole dish with vegetable or olive oil spray. Spread a small layer of the salsa on the bottom of the casserole dish. Heat the tortillas in a non-stick pan until heated through. Add ½ of the remaining salsa and ½ of the cheese to the chicken and mix together. Take 1/6 of the chicken mixture and place inside the tortilla. Roll the tortilla and place seam side in the pan. Continue with the tortillas until all six are done. Add the remaining salsa on top and the remaining cheese. Bake for about 30 minutes until the top is brown and the mixture is hot and bubbling.

Remove from oven and let stand at room temperature for about 15-20 minutes. Carefully remove the enchiladas one at a time and garnish as desired.

Note, never bake the olives on top of the enchiladas. They will turn to a rubbery consistency if you bake them. Rather, add them on top after you have removed them from the oven.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Beef Fajitas

I developed this recipe for my husband who loves the idea of fajitas, but likes his vegetables cooked until they are soft, not crisp. If you prefer crisp vegetables, omit the steps about steaming them. However, I have cooked this recipe many times throughout the years as it is a particular favorite of Paul’s, and when I have shared the food with guests or leftovers at work, everyone raves about it. The leftovers are great in quesidillas, or on a pizza!

The Ingredients:

1 Pound Lean Beef (I prefer Tenderloin, but use your favorite cut such as Sirloin or Flank) cut into ¾” pieces

1 Red Bell Pepper, cored and cut into 1” pieces

1 Bunch of Green Onions, cut off the ends and cut on a bias into ½” pieces (keep the white part separated from the green part)

1 Bunch of Cilantro, washed, stemmed and minced

2 Limes, Quartered

Olive Oil


The Seasonings:

2 Tablespoons Chili Powder
2 Tablespoons Paprika
1 Tablespoon Garlic Powder
1 Tablespoon Ground Cumin Seed
¼ Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
½ Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
½ Teaspoon Salt (more can be added later to taste)
Combine all the Seasonings in a small bowl and stir to combine. Set aside.

The Vegetables:

Heat a large pan and add 1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil. Add the Red Pepper and Toss until they start to carmelize (and smell incredibly good!). Add the white part of the onions and toss until they start to carmelize. Add ½ cup good white wine (any kind you like to drink) and reduce the heat to the lowest possible setting. Cover with foil and steam. Check on periodically, if the wine cooks out too fast, add some water and continue to steam until fork tender (if there is still moisture in the pan, that is okay). Add the remaining green onions and stir to incorporate. Remove from heat and cover pan with foil.

The Meat:

Heat another pan and add 1 Tablespoon of olive oil. Toss the meat with some salt and pepper. Add a layer of meat to the heated pan, but don’t overcrowd and try not to let the meat touch each other. You want to brown the meat, not steam it. Overcrowding can cause the meat to steam and look gray, not brown and delicious. Don’t touch the meat until you check one to see if it is brown. When it is brown on one side, turn over. The second side will cook very quickly so as soon as you get all the pieces turned over, give it a quick stir and remove to a bowl. You may need to cook the meat in batches, depending on the size of your pan. After all the meat is cooked, add ½ cup of white wine to the pan to deglaze the pan. Using a spatula (I use a wooden one), scrape up all the bits from the cooked meat. When all is scraped up, pour the wine and meat juices into the pan with the vegetables.

The Assembly:

Return the vegetables to heat and add all the meat. Stir to combine. Add the spices (if you don’t like things too spicy, add about half, incorporate and taste. You can always add more). Stir to combine and give the mixture a taste for salt and pepper adjustments. The liquid in the mixture will quickly absorb the spices. Add the cilantro all at once and squeeze in half of your limes. Stir to combine and serve immediately.


I serve in a warm flour tortilla with my favorite Chipolte Salsa (or whatever Salsa you like, such as Pico de Gallo, etc.), and some fresh grated Extra Sharp Canadian Cheddar (use your favorite cheese such as any cheddar, Mexican Cheese or Jack). Serve the lime wedges on the side.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Seasoned Shoestring Fries

1 Idaho Potato
1 Cup Peanut Oil

2 TBSP Ground Cumin
1 TBSP Chili Powder
½ TBSP Onion Powder
1/8 Tsp Cayenne Pepper
½ Tsp Salt
¼ Tsp Ground Black Pepper

Combine all the spices in a bowl and set aside.

Peel the potato and cut into 1/8 inch wedges, then 1/8 inch slices. Place in a large bowl of cold water and 2 TBSP salt. Let soak at least ½ an hour.

Heat oil in a large pan until the chopstick method is sizzling.

In small batches, drain the potatoes on paper towels. Gently place in the hot oil and stir a little so they don’t stick together. Cook until they turn brown, then drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with some of the spices. Repeat cooking steps until all are cooked.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Green Peppercorn Pan Sauce for Steak

After you have removed the steak to a plate to keep warm in the oven, place your pan that you cooked the steak in back on a burner over a medium-high heat. Add one minced shallot and using a wooden spatula, stir the shallots over the brown bits on the bottom of the pan. After about a minute, add 1 cup of your favorite wine, or chicken broth if you prefer. It doesn't matter if it is a red wine or white wine or even champagne. As long as you like to drink it, it will taste fine. Continue to stir the shallots and the wine, scraping up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. The brown bits is called a "fond" and it's where all the flavor from cooking your steaks is. Not only does this flavor the sauce, but this method is called "de-glazing" and it actually makes the clean up easier, too! Add a few sprigs of fresh thyme leaves. The shallots and the thyme will add so much flavor to the sauce. If you prefer, you can use rosemary or another herb to make this sauce your own. You can also use fresh minced garlic or minced red onion in place of the shallots. My rule is to use whatever you like best to make it to your preference.

After a few minutes, the sauce will start to reduce. You are looking for it to reduce at least by half and start to get thicker, and less soupy like in appearance. Add 1/4 cup heavy cream. This will help bind the sauce and thicken it. Continue stirring for about another minute. Turn off the burner and season with fresh black pepper. Add 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley and about 10-12 green peppercorns. Taste to adjust salt and pepper as necessary.

If you don't like green peppercorns, substitute with capers, sauteed mushrooms or whatever you like. You can even add a tablespoon of dijon mustard, or lemon juice or a dash of good vinegar to make the sauce different.

Remove the steaks from the oven and pour any of the drippings from the steaks into the sauce. Pour the sauce over the steaks and serve.

Blue Cheese Sauce for Steak

This sauce is so simple to make. In a microwave proof dish, add about 2 tablespoons of blue cheese, or more if you desire. Add about 1/4 cup of heavy cream and 1/4th teaspoon of minced shallot. Add some fresh black pepper and place a loose piece of plastic over the top. Microwave for 40 seconds. Add 1 teaspoon of minced Italian Parsley leaves. Pour over your steak.

Steak for Susan

Susan and I were talking the other day, and I told her I could tell her how to make a perfect steak with a pan sauce and since she's an accountant, I have a simple way for her to remember each step. Simply 4+4+4+4. Or the square root of 16. Pretty simple? Well, here are the steps:

Use any steak that you prefer, such as a New York Strip, or Rib Eye or whatever. I prefer Fillet Mignon as it has the lowest fat content. I also take extra steps to cut out as much of the fat and sinew on the tenderloin before cutting it into generous steaks. (Then I use the rest of the loin for other recipes.) You don't have to be as thorough in removing the fat as a lot of it will cook out. Wash and pat dry the steaks with paper towels and sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper.

Step 1: 4

Heat a non-stick pan on the stove on medium-high heat for 4 minutes.

Step 2: 4

Place your steaks in the pan and make sure they are not touching. Do not be tempted to move them around. Just let them sit so they will form a crust.

Step 3: 4

Leave the steaks for 4 minutes, then turn them to cook on the other side for another 4 not touch them.

Step 4: 4

Turn off the burner and place a loose piece of foil over the pan. Let the steaks sit for 4 more minutes. Then remove the steaks to a warm plate in a low oven while you make the pan sauce in the same pan.

Paul and I both love steak, but we like them served differently. The photo at the top of this post is how I love steak: a big piece with a quick blue cheese sauce and a vegetable, such as pan roasted asparagus.

Paul likes his sliced and I served his with the green peppercorn pan sauce in the next post. I also served his with seasoned shoestring french fries, a couple of pieces of pesto toast and some sauteed mushrooms.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Ginger Mango Salsa

I created this recipe in April 2007 when my husband and I were given a week on my boss's 91' yacht, The KelDi, which we took from Miami to Key Largo, then to Key West. It's a beautiful boat with a terrific crew, including a great chef, Sean. My husband and I being the only passengers besides the crew, insisted that the crew eat with us each night. On the last night, Sean let me cook with him, which was a thrill for me. We joined our ideas and I came up with this salsa which I also served alongside a regular pico de gallo salsa for a "East Meets Mex" theme. Sean grilled up a rib eye and we served the salsas and some jasmine rice to keep the theme going.

This salsa goes terrific with any grilled meat - and don't forget to try it on fish!

Another hint, I also made this salsa in April 2008 at my boss's house on Martha's Vineyard "Daybreak" where Jude and I cooked for our husbands, much like Sean and I did the year previously. On the island, Jude couldn't find jicima, so I substituted 1/4 cup diced green apple and found it actually works better than the jicima. Last month while visiting my sister-in-law and her husband, Sheila and Ronnie, in Williamsburg, Virginia, I learned that my sister-in-law is pre-diabetic. My brother-in-law from England, John, was also visiting and he is diabetic so I left the honey out of the recipe and discovered that the apple and the mango sweetened it enough. The honey enhances the ginger, but feel free to leave it out.

2 Ripe Mangos, diced
¼ cup diced Red Onion
¼ cup diced Jicima (Can Substitute Green Apple)
1 diced Green Jalepeno Pepper, seeded (can substitute 1/8 cup minced canned Jalepenos)
1 cup minced Cilantro (leaves only)
¼ cup Fresh Lime Juice
½ tsp Honey
Salt and Pepper to taste

Core and dice the mango
Add to a large bowl
Dice Red Onion and add to the bowl
Dice the Jicima and add to the bowl

Cut the stem off the Jalepeno, and with a teaspoon, remove the seeds. Slince the Jalepeno into julienne pieces and dice. Add to the bowl.

Wash a bunch of Cilantro and remove the stems. Place on paper towels to dry. Remove the leaves from the remaining stems. Mince and add to the bowl.

Cut off any “fingers” on the Ginger. With your teaspoon, scrape off the skin of the Ginger. Grate the Ginger into a small bowl and pick out any long fibers. Add the Ginger to the large Bowl.

Cut a couple of limes into quarters.
Squeeze the juice into the large bowl. If the limes don’t exude much juice, place in microwave on a paper towel for about 30 seconds.

Add the honey, salt and pepper. Mix well. Cover and set aside for at least an hour for the juices to blend. Taste. Adjust honey, lime, salt and pepper as desired.

Serving suggestions:

Serve over grilled meat, fish; serve on top of chicken quesadillas triangles; marinate chicken or other meat in salsa. Or just enjoy with chips. I like to make a mango salsa then a pico de gallo and serve both side by side on grilled meat as an “East meets Mex” combination.

Update November 1:

I took this salsa and blended it. Then, using half the mixture (I doubled the recipe so I had plenty), I added about a 1/2 cup of orange juice and about 1 tablespoon of ground cumin. I used this as a marinade for a flank steak and 2 chicken breasts, which I marinaded for 24 hours before cooking them. The meat was delicious! I made them into quesidillas which I brought to work yesterday, and the girls loved it!

The second half of the blended salsa mixture, I added about 2 tablespoons of curry powder, and about 1 tablespoon of honey for a curry marinade, which I added half a beef tenderloin to. I am going to cook this as a curry today, so I will let you know how it comes out! Happy fall, and happy cooking! Tina

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Pesto for Quida

This pesto and pasta is for Quida. She can’t eat dairy, so I made a special pesto without cheese. For texture, I used breadcrumbs. The pasta is a multi-whole grain penne. For additional flavor (which I am always in pursuit of), I added some beautiful orange sun dried tomatoes, pitted kalamati olives and fresh basil, and for a kick, some dried chili flakes.

I made two versions, one with the traditional parmesan cheese (I like cheese) and one with the breadcrumbs. The one with the cheese came out lighter in color with a richer flavor. But the one without the cheese, really brought out all the original flavors of the basil, pine nuts, garlic and olive oil. It is pesto in all its glory.
I used 3 ounces of basil from the herb section at the store (4 3/4 ounce packages) for the 2 recipes. So I suggest just using 2 packages unless you want to make more pesto to freeze. I suggest if you want to freeze the pesto, put it in ice cube trays and freeze them. Then when they are frozen, put them in small zip lock bags and then in to freezer bags. Be sure to label your freezer bags as there is nothing more frustrating than trying to figure out what all the freezer bags in your freezer are supposed to contain!

I also (from a tip I just heard on Melinda Lee yesterday) shocked the basil in boiling water for almost a minute then removed it to a bowl of cold water. Since I don't have a freezer that has ice, I used the frozen peas to cool off the water. I was planning to use the peas in the recipe anyway, so this was a way to defrost the peas while shocking the basil. The basil will seem very small after being shocked, but it retains all the flavor and the shocking helps keep the basil green (basil tends to turn darker in color after being processed).


2 packages of 3/4 ounce fresh basil

1 1/2 ounces pine nuts, toasted

1 garlic clove, minced

2 tablespoons dried bread crumbs (I used Italian)

1/3 cup very good extra virgin olive oil

After shocking the basil, drain and squeeze out excess water. Place in a food processor. Toast the pine nuts in a dry skillet over moderate heat until they just turn light brown and release their scent. Add to food processor. Add garlic and breadcrumbs and a pinch of sea salt. Process until all is broken down and fine, then with the food processor running, add the olive oil to make the sauce. Taste for salt.


Heat a large pot of water and and 3 healthy pinches of sea salt. Bring to a boil and add 2 dry cups of penne pasta. Cook until the recommended time on the package. I used an 8 whole grain pasta which recommended that I cook it for 9 minutes. At 9 minutes, I tasted one piece of pasta and it had a raw flavor to it. I continued to cook it, and tasted at each minute. It was finally at al dente (to the tooth) at 13 minutes. So pasta varies and you just have to monitor it. You don't want to overcook the pasta and have it limp, but you do want to cook it until it no longer tastes like dried wheat.

Drain the pasta in a colander over a bowl so you can save the pasta water to thin the sauce as necessary. Place the pesto into a large serving bowl and layer the paste over the pesto. Incorporate the pesto and the pasta. If the pesto is sticky and doesn't incorporate well with the pasta, add a small amount (like 1/3 cup) of the pasta water. Drizzle a little evo (extra virgin olive oil), to loosen up the sauce. At this point you can add 1/3 cup of the defrosted peas, 2 tablespoons of coarsely chopped kalamati olives and 2 tablespoons of coarsely chopped sun dried tomatoes (I used orange tomatoes), or any other topping that you wish (such as artichoke hearts, hearts of palm or whatever strikes your fancy). I also added some fresh oregano leaves to the pasta and a small pinch of red chili pepper flakes for a little zip. Serve the pasta at room temperature or refrigerate and take on a picnic.

The second version of the pasta is the traditional version, which omits the breadcrumbs, but uses 1/3 cup of fresh grated parmesan instead. Follow all the steps for the pesto above using the cheese in place of the breadcrumbs. I used only 2 tablespoons of the breadcrumbs in the first recipe as opposed to this one with 1/3 cup of cheese, because I didn't want the breadcrumbs to over power the flavor of the basil. I just wanted them for a little texture.

2 cups cooked penne pasta

2 tablespoons coarsely chopped kalamati olives (pitted)

2 tablespoods coarsely chopped sun dried tomatoes

1 teaspoon fresh torn basil leaves

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 small pinch of red chili pepper flakes

September 8, 2008: Just a quick update on this recipe. It really does not require you to "shock" the basil. The shocking process helps maintain a bright green look to the pesto sauce, but it does not effect the flavor at all. I made this recipe yesterday with some variations. I did not shock the basil. I used 3 cloves of roasted garlic that I had lying around (I like to roast the whole head and keep the roasted head of garlic in a sandwich bag in the vegetable crisper of the refrigerator for quick use in recipes), and I used some packaged grated four cheese mixture instead of parmesan cheese and it really worked out well. So feel free to change the recipes to your tastes, or to use what you have on hand. I always love to experiment with recipes.