Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Proscuitto Wrapped Figs

This recipe is so quick it would be a shame to waste a lot of time explaining it.  That and I have sick children to tend to and work to catch up on from vacation... get out your pens... ready?

Get some fresh figs, green or black, or whatever floats your boat.

Cut figs into halves or quarters (I did quarters even though these are still halves at this point).  And yes that is a steak knife and my husband already picks on me about using it for many things.

Take a piece of prosciutto (the kind of Italy don't go cheap here as there isn't much to hide the cheapness and Italian prosciutto is worth the little extra) and fold in half the long way, now cut that into thirds.  Wrap a piece around each fig, they kind of self stick but if not use a toothpick to anchor them.

Bake at 350 for 10 minutes or until the prosciutto starts to crisp.  Top with a sprinkle of good balsamic vinegar and serve immediately.  These were a shockingly big hit and couldn't be easier if the figs did a little dance and wrapped themselves.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Artichokes with Smoked Herb Mayonnaise... more Summery Food

My husband and I loved these.  And that's saying something from a  man who just a decade ago called artichokes "The fruit of the devil".  He wouldn't touch them back then, watching him tear apart the artichokes last night trying to get to the delicate center leaves warmed my heart.  Even the Monkey wanted to try the funny chips with the dip dip sauce, which is what my husband told him it was to get him to try them.  His favorite part was throwing away the top of the leaf after scraping the tender flesh from the tips.

I love artichokes, love love love them.  I did not have the smoked salt (a problem I intend to rectify when I hit the spice market in Montreal this week) so I used smoked paprika instead which the magazine mentions in the description but not in the ingredient list so I'm not sure if you're suppose to use both.  I also used dried dill and my photo looks nothing like Mr. Blais' in Food and Wine but it still tasted good so who cares.  I halved the recipe and it could easily have been enough dip for about 10 artichokes so I would stay away from the full cup prep unless you plan on feeding a small army, or a large family.

This is another great Summer dish.  I see friends sitting around an outdoor table sipping a cocktail waiting for the main course to come off the grill while ripping the leaves off the artichokes and dipping them in between bits of gossip and catching up. 

I didn't have a lot of photos which is a shame because they are so pretty and there was plenty of time for photo ops consider I screwed up this batch and they weren't cooked enough so we tossed them, and I tried again the next day and that one worked much better but I was too busy packing for our trip to take photos.... at least I don't think I took any it's all a blur.  For round two I cut the tops off and trimmed the edges just like these.  I then hacked off the stem and ripped off the bottom leaves and then inverted the artichoke so that the open end was pointing towards the water.  Much better.  My dear friend Kate eats these with butter and lemon.  I think we'll do both next time as this mayonnaise dip is extrememly rich.... but ohhhhh so good.

Artichokes with Smoked-Herb Mayonnaise
Contributed by Richard Blais Food and Wine


4 large artichokes, stems trimmed
1 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons chopped dill
2 tablespoons chopped capers
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon smoked sea salt
1/4 teaspoon smoked sweet paprika
Hot sauce
Freshly ground pepper


Set a steamer basket in a large pot over 1/2 inch of boiling water. Arrange the artichokes, stem side down, in the basket. Cover and steam over moderate heat until a knife easily pierces the stems, about 30 minutes. Transfer the artichokes to a platter.

In a bowl, whisk the mayonnaise, dill, capers, lemon zest and juice, salt and paprika. Add a few dashes of hot sauce and season the mayonnaise with pepper. Serve the artichokes warm or lightly chilled with the mayonnaise.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Real Greek Salad... ahhh Summer food

The first time I had Greek salad was in Montreal with my husband.  I grew up in Vermont and as far as I'm aware there is still not a Greek restaurant there.  There was a fabulous Greek restaurant by the name of Mezze on St. Laurent in Montreal.  I say was... the restaurant is still there (I think) but in my opinion is no longer fabulous.  They switched from a family platter type menu to full plated meals years ago.  They went from fabulous side dishes, to tiny portions and crappy steamed flavorless side dishes.  I was heartbroken.  Anyway... as I was saying once upon a time they were fantastic and fun and they served a killer Greek Salad with pita.   After I had it I had to have it again, only there was no Greek restaurant in Vermont.  I ordered Greek salad after Greek salad every time I found it only to be served a green salad with some feta thrown in.  Ahhh not quite what I had in mind.  This is what I had in mind, and while we have a great Greek restaurant here in town I still like this one better.

First trick is to quick pickle the onions, a little trick I learned from other bloggers.

I found these great mini heirloom tomatoes, so pretty.

Just another shot because I'm so in love with them, I made it again last night with just red tomatoes and it just wasn't the same.

Cut up your peppers, any colors will do, I like to look at my other ingredients and go with the colors I don't have if possible.  Here I had all colors for tomatoes, so I just went with my favorite which are red and yellow.

Cut up everything else, you can cut them in any style you want.  I did slices here, and last night I diced everything.  It's all a matter of preference.  Next, you want to pull your onions out of your vinegar and add them.  Use the vinegar with the salt, etc for your dressing.  Toss and leave.  I can't have dairy as I may or may not have mentioned (every single day), but I serve it with the feta on the side for those lucky enough to still be able to eat it.  Otherwise go ahead and mix it right in.  To be honest it's good both ways.  Oh and last night I just threw in whole peppercini's on top for a pretty touch and then let the people that wanted them take them.

Greek Salad
From Eileen's Pea Brain

3/4 pound tomatoes, seeded, diced (about 2 cups)
2 cups diced seeded peeled cucumber (from about 1 large)
½ cup diced green bell pepper
½ cup diced yellow or orange bell pepper
1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives or other brine-cured black olives, halved
1/4 cup diced red onion
¼ cup peppercinis
3 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese (about 2 ounces)

Toss first 8 ingredients in medium bowl and gently toss.  In a small container with lid, combine olive oil, vinegar and oregano shake vigorously to blend.  Dress salad and toss well to blend.  Gently mix in cheese. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.)

Makes about 4 1/2 cups.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Stuffed Strawberries

We cancelled our travel plan for the weekend due to being overwhelmed by life and family illness, and instead spent a relaxing weekend visiting friends, and eating a lot of good food.  I mean a lot!  I spent a lot of time in the kitchen but stuck with relatively simple dishes.  Like this quick and festive dessert that was easy and will certainly be brought to many BBQs this year.  Once the cover came off these guys they did not last very long and the Monkey ate as many as his pudgy little hands could steal before the adults got to them.  I used almond extract for this batch but I think I will use vanilla next time.  I also toasted the pecans and did half topped with the chopped toasted pecans and half topped with mini chocolate chips.  Once in the tray they were so cute all red and white I decided to fill in the remaining area with blueberries and blackberries to make it 4th friendly.... also a hit, and a keeper of an idea.  Couldn't be simplier and a huge hit... what more can you ask for?  What's that you say?  To be able to eat dairy so you can enjoy your own dessert... why yes that would have been nice too. :)

Stuffed Strawberries
adapted from Food Network


20 whole large strawberries, hulled
8 ounces cream cheese, softened (next time I will use marscapone, they were out of the good cream cheese and I think the store brand was a little too cheesy)
1/4 cup confectioners' powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
2/3 cup chopped pecans


Cut a thin slice from the bottom of each strawberry so the berries stand upright. Place berries, cut side down, on a serving platter. Carefully cut the berries into 4 wedges, cutting almost to, but not through, the bottoms with a criss-cross cut. Fan wedges just slightly, taking care not to break them (this fanning did not occur easily for my set... see detail about investing in bakers bag for next time). Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla until combined but still stiff. Using a teaspoon or pastry bag with decorative tip (I used a ziplock sandwich bag with the corner cut off but will definitely spend the extra $2 for a bakers bag for next time), fill the strawberries with the cream cheese mixture. Sprinkle chopped pecans on top of the stuffed strawberries. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.