Monday, June 28, 2010

Grilled Tomatoes with Gorgonzola

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So easy, so elegant and so tasty that the kids even eat them.     This recipe comes from the Central Market weekly fresh sheet and I’ve made them nearly every night since I discovered the recipe.
Cut tomatoes in half and place cut side down on hot grill for three minutes.  Remove from grill, sprinkle with blue cheese and return to grill cut side up for another minute.  Serve immediately.
They make a beautiful accompaniment to any meal.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Grilled Vegetable Salad with Feta Cheese

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Aunt Sharron came for a visit a few months back.  She spent some time keeping Molly beagle company while we frolicked with Mickey and Ariel and the Pirates of the Caribbean.  She kindly delivered us to and from the airport, no small favor when you live on an island and rely on ferries to get you to and fro. 

She welcomed us home with rich and savory vegetable soup and the next day we pored over stacks of cookbooks and chose this recipe to begin our cook-fest.  Just now I realize that it has fennel in it…after my last post you know that I’ve recently become a huge fan of fennel but it turns out that fennel has been sneaking around my kitchen for a while.

You can grill or broil this.  I  broiled all the veggies together with absolutely no regard for the special handling suggested below with different cooking times for everything.  I skipped the step about cutting into smaller pieces and tossed the whole thing, hot and charred, fresh from the broiler into a bowl and onto the table.

I love that some of the veggies were crisp tender and some more melting.  I like that the feta softened and smeared all those lovely veggies with it’s tart and pungent cheesiness. The vinegar made a bright counterpoint to the spicy basil. 

With each bite I re-invented this dish, first as a sandwich piled high on a baguette and quickly grilled , then as a relish, chopped fine and served beside meatloaf or added to pasta for a healthy flavor punch. 

Grilled Vegetable Salad with Feta Cheese

1 small or ½ medium fennel bulb with fronds attached

1 medium orange bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut lengthwise into 4 or 5 pieces

1 medium red onion cut into ¼ inches thick slices

1 medium zucchini, cut lengthwise into ¼ inch slices

1 medium yellow squash cut lengthwise into ¼ inch slices

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt

3 Table spoons red wine vinegar

Freshly ground black pepper

1½ cups grape tomatoes, halved

½ cup crumbled feta cheese (2½ oz.)

3 tablespoons loosely packed thinly sliced fresh basil

Cut the stalks off the fennel bulb. Remove about ¼ cup of the fronds from the stalks, chop the fronds, and reserve. Cut the fennel in quarter lengthwise and trim away most of the core leaving just enough intact to keep the layers together.  Slice the quarters lengthwise ¼ inch thick.

Prepare a medium gas or charcoal grill fire (alternately, use an indoor grill pan over medium-high heat). Arrange the vegetables in a single layer on a tray or work surface. Brush both sides of the vegetables with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and season with ¼ teaspoon salt.

Grill the vegetables in batches, flipping once, on both sides are nicely charred and the vegetables are just tender about 12 minutes total for the fennel, 10 minutes total for the pepper and 6 minutes total for the onion and squash. When the vegetables are cool enough to handle, cut them into ½ inch dice and transfer to a large bowl.  Add feta.

In a small bowl, whisk the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, the vinegar, ¼teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Toss the vegetables with the dressing .

Gently stir in the tomatoes and fennel fronds. Season to taste with more salt and pepper.

Serves 4…from Fine Cooking April/May issue

Monday, June 21, 2010

Fennel and Arugula Salad with White Balsamic and Orange Vinaigrette

house pics 031  Holy cow!  Wine society met weeks ago and I’m just now telling you that it was FABULOUS!  The theme was fresh and grilled and we focused on local Farmer’s market ingredients.  This salad is a fine example of local: The arugula and greens came from our garden and though we were a few weeks early for island grown strawberries we managed to get some gorgeous raspberries instead. 

The subtle contrast of sweet and bitter is a sure salad winner but the real gem is this salad is the fennel.  It’s always fun to discover a new ingredient and in the two weeks since we had this salad at wine society I’ve embraced fennel; chopped, braised, added to scrambled eggs and of course in this salad.

I love the unexpected crunch and the spicy, clean taste.  The original recipe called for orange segments and the dressing is anchored by orange juice concentrate and the sweet meets spicy  orange/fennel combination is where the wow is.

Our wine expert, Jerred Wolfe from Palm Bay Imports paired this with Sella Mosca, Torbado.  You’re not alone if you have no idea what this wine is because it’s made from a very unusual grape that is only grown in a small vineyard in Sardinia…I’d never heard of it prior to wine society but I can tell you it’s a luscious wine with bright crisp notes that worked beautifully with this assertive salad.

This is a great summer salad and you can substitute any combination of greens and fruit, as we did, and have an unusual and impressive starter; add more shrimp and it could be a light summer dinner.

Baby Arugula, Strawberry & Fennel Salad with Grilled Shrimp and White Balsamic Vinaigrette

From:  Cathy Casey’s Northwest Table
Makes 6 to 8 servings
1 tablespoon undiluted orange juice concentrate
Pinch of red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons minced orange zest
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons minced shallots
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons minced fennel fronds
1 tablespoon fennel seed, toasted and crushed
2 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 pounds large raw shrimp (32 to 40)
1 large or 2 small fennel bulbs, trimmed
Oranges or Strawberries
6 cups baby arugula or Bainbridge salad blend
2 heads baby frisee (or Bainbridge salad blend), torn, rinsed, and spun dry
White Balsamic Vinaigrette (see below)

To marinate the shrimp, whisk all the ingredients, except the shrimp, in a large bowl. Peel, devein, and remove tails, then add the shrimp to marinade and toss to coat. Refrigerate and marinate for at least 1 hour to overnight.
To prepare the salad, finely shave the fennel bulbs with a sharp knife or a mandoline and crisp in ice water for 10 minutes. Spin dry before using. Cut the peel off the oranges, trim away all the white pith, then cut the fruit into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Flick out any seeds. (If prepared ahead, refrigerate the fennel and orange slices separately, for up to 2 hours.)

Prepare a hot fire in a charcoal grill, or preheat a gas grill to high. Grill the shrimp until just pink and done, about 1 to 2 minutes per side.
Meanwhile, toss the arugula, frisee, fennel, and strawberries with enough of the vinaigrette to coat nicely - taste for flavor, adding more dressing if needed. (Carla’s note: wait until just before serving to add dressing)
Server the salad on a large platter or divide among individual plates, arrange the shrimp on top, and drizzle with a little extra dressing if desired.


White Balsamic Vinaigrette
Makes 2 cups
1/2 cup while balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoon minced shallots
1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/4 cup undiluted orange juice concentrate
Pinch of red pepper flakes, or 1 tablespoon harissa paste
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon fennel seed, toasted and ground
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fennel fronds

In a large bowl, whisk the vinegar, shallots, mustard, and juice concentrate. Whisk in the pepper flakes, salt, pepper to taste, and fennel seed. Slowly drizzle in the oil, whisking constantly to emulsify. Stir in the fennel fronds. If made ahead, refrigerate until shortly before needed, then re-whisk before using. The vinaigrette keeps, refrigerated, for up to 2 weeks.