Thursday, September 27, 2012

Avocado, Tomato and Red Onion Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing

This is a stunning, simple, and delicious salad that pairs beautifully with a meat main course, or can be served on it's own with a fresh baguette. The sweet tomatoes, creamy avocado, and vibrant onion flavor combine beautifully with the salty blue cheese dressing. With so few ingredients in this dish, make sure they're the best. In season tomatoes, ripe avocados and good quality blue cheese make a difference. And trust me on the baguette, you'll want to use it to sop up any extra dressing left behind!

Avocado, Tomato and Red Onion Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing A beautiful and simple salad that is sure to impress.
Serves 2 

2 ripe tomatoes, cut into wedges
1 avocado, flesh removed and sliced
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
2 T. fresh parsley, chopped

Blue Cheese Dressing
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
4 oz blue cheese, crumbled
1 tsp hot sauce, such as Crystal or Tabasco
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 T. lemon juice (about half a lemon)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Arrange salad ingredients on a large plate or serving platter. Combine Blue Cheese Dressing in a medium bowl, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour desired amount of dressing over salad. Top with extra crumbled blue cheese. Serve and enjoy!

Recipe by Sarah Lang

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Beer Battered Fish with Tartar Sauce

I am a sucker for a piece of moist, flaky fish coated in a crispy beer batter and dipped in cool creamy tartar sauce. But, I've always hesitated making it at home, as it involves "deep frying." Here's where I was wrong- you don't need a deep fryer to make this dish. All you need is a big pot (I love my Dutch oven) and enough oil to cover the fish, along with a simple thermometer. You simply coat the fish in flour, then in the beer batter, then back in the flour, and dunk it in the oil to fry until it's cooked through and moist on the inside, and crispy and flavorful on the outside. Served with lemon, tartar sauce, oven fries and cole slaw, this meal is a real crowd pleaser!

Beer Battered Fish
Crispy and flavorful, you don't have to go out to eat to enjoy this English staple!
Serves 4

3 quarts peanut oil (or canola oil), plus 1/4 additional cup
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
Table salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 pounds 1-inch-thick cod fillet (or other thick white fish, such as hake or haddock) cut into eight 3-ounce pieces
1 1/2 cups beer (12 ounces), cold

Whisk flour, cornstarch, cayenne, paprika, pepper, and 2 teaspoons salt in large mixing bowl; transfer 3/4 cup of mixture to rimmed baking sheet. Add baking powder to bowl and whisk to combine.

In heavy-bottomed Dutch oven, heat 2 quarts oil over medium heat to 375 degrees. Meanwhile, thoroughly dry fish with paper towels and dredge each piece in flour mixture on baking sheet; transfer pieces to wire rack, shaking off excess flour. Add 1 1/4 cups beer to flour mixture in mixing bowl and stir until mixture is just combined (batter will be lumpy). Add remaining beer as needed, 1 tablespoon at a time, whisking after each addition, until batter falls from whisk in thin, steady stream and leaves faint trail across surface of batter. Using tongs, dip 1 piece fish in batter and let excess run off, shaking gently. Place battered fish back onto baking sheet with flour mixture and turn to coat both sides. Repeat with remaining fish, keeping pieces in single layer on baking sheet.

When oil reaches 375 degrees, increase heat to high and add battered fish to oil with tongs, gently shaking off excess flour. Fry, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 7 to 8 minutes. Transfer fish to paper towels to drain. Serve hot with lemon.

Recipe adapted from Cook's Illustrated

Tartar Sauce
The perfect compliment to crispy battered fish.
Makes 3/4 cup

1/2 cup good mayonnaise
2 tablespoons small-diced pickles or cornichons
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon capers
1 teaspoon coarse-grained mustard
Pinch kosher salt
Pinch freshly ground black pepper

Place all the ingredients in a food processor or mini chopper fitted with a steel blade and pulse several times until the pickles are finely chopped and all the ingredients are well mixed but not pureed.

Recipe by Ina Garten

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Pappardelle with Lamb Ragu

If you like Italian pasta dishes with rich, flavorful meat sauce, this dish is for you! The ground lamb is cooked with red wine, tomatoes, and spices until reduced and bursting with rich flavors, and then is tossed with tender pappardelle noodles. The finished dish is topped with a scoop of creamy ricotta cheese that melts into the sauce, and brings the whole dish to another level. My husband said this is one of the best meals I've ever made, and I loved it just as much as he did. You'll impress anyone with this dish!

Pappardelle with Lamb Ragu
A mouth-watering sauce with plenty of red wine and garlic and flavorful ground lamb, served with tender pappardelle noodles to soak up the sauce!.

Serves 6

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 carrot, finely diced
1 onion, finely diced
1 celery rib, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound ground lamb
2 teaspoons ground coriander
3 teaspoons herbes de provence (a blend featuring thyme, rosemary, fennel, lavender)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 cup dry red wine
One 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 1/4 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
3/4 pound pappardelle
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3/4 cup fresh ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons chopped mint
In a large cast-iron casserole, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the carrot, onion and celery and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until slightly softened, 5 minutes. Add the garlic, lamb, coriander, fennel, cumin, rosemary and thyme; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until the liquid evaporates, 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste. Add the wine and cook until evaporated, 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juices, along with the stock and bring to a boil. Cover partially and cook over moderately low heat until the liquid is slightly reduced, 25 to 30 minutes.

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain, shaking well. Add the pasta to the sauce. Add the butter and the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil and toss over low heat. Serve the pasta in bowls, topped with the ricotta and mint.

Recipe adapted from Food and Wine

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Chicken with Herb-Roasted Tomatoes and Pan Sauce

Everyone seems to have boneless, skinless chicken breasts on hand. Despite their popularity, I tend to shy away from cooking chicken because most recipes don't have the flavor I crave. Enter this recipe, and I'm changed. It is by far the best chicken recipe I've ever tried! The chicken is pan seared and roasted until tender and juicy. And the tomatoes, oh, the tomatoes! They take this dish to another level. Roasted with herbs until bursting with juicy flavor, then tossed in an easy sauce, I could eat them every day! Served with the chicken and fresh tarragon, it's a meal easy enough for a weeknight but delicious and impressive enough for company. Serve with warm bread on the side to sop up the extra sauce.

Chicken with Herb-Roasted Tomatoes and Pan Sauce
Tender chicken and flavorful roasted tomatoes in a gorgeous, simple sauce.
4 servings

1 1/2 pounds cherry tomatoes or other small tomatoes
6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons herbes de Provence
1 teaspoon kosher salt plus more
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 small shallot, minced
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley leaves
3 tablespoons fresh tarragon leaves

Preheat oven to 450°. Combine tomatoes, 2 Tbsp. oil, and herbes de Provence in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper; toss to coat. Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a large heavy ovenproof skillet until oil shimmers. Carefully add tomatoes to pan (oil may spatter). Transfer skillet to oven and roast, turning once, until tomatoes burst and give up some of their juices, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl and drizzle with Worcestershire sauce.

Meanwhile, season chicken all over with 1 tsp. salt and pepper. Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Sear chicken on both sides until golden brown, 6–8 minutes. Transfer pan to oven and roast chicken until cooked through, 8–10 minutes. Transfer chicken to a cutting board and let rest for at least 5 minutes.

Add remaining 1 Tbsp. oil to same skillet; heat over medium heat. Add shallot and cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Deglaze pan with vinegar, scraping up browned bits from bottom of pan; add tomatoes and their juices and simmer until sauce is just beginning to thicken, about 1 minute. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper.

Slice chicken; divide among plates. Pour the tomatoes and sauce over; garnish with herbs.

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit