Posts Tagged ‘Recipe’

I love tomatoes.  I call them my favorite “fruit” … not so much because they are technically a fruit but because my favorite vegetable is carrots, and I would have a difficult time choosing between the two if they were both deemed vegetables.

???????????????????????????????This summer, my big Costco discovery was these Symphony tomatoes (I’ve also seen a smaller “symphony” package in Chuck’s Produce, which suggests to me that you might be able to find them elsewhere as well.)  They are an eye catching array of colorful cherry sized tomatoes – with colors such as chocolate brown, white (which looks like a “greenish” white), green, orange, and the familiar red.  Most of the tomatoes are roundish in shape, but some are “Roma” tomato shape.

To make my tomato salad, I start with a colander full of these tomatoes with all the blossoms removed and the tomatoes washed thoroughly.  Then I cut them.  Most of the round tomatoes I cut in half, but some of the larger round tomatoes I cut into fourths … basically, I cut the tomatoes into bite size pieces.

???????????????????????????????Then I season with Kosher salt and ground pepper.  If I happen to have it on hand, I will substitute the Kosher salt with a gourmet salt from Woody’s Gourmet.  (My personal favorite is the Black Truffle & Fresh Thyme Sea Salt)

Then I reach for my bottle of Smoky Bacon flavored Grapeseed Oil from Wildtree.  This is the MAGIC product in this salad, because it adds such a delightful flavor.  The bacon flavor is not an overpowering flavor, and I might like this even better if the bacon flavor was more pronounced (Bacon is a lot like chocolate in that more bacon = better.)  The bacon is best tasted when you taste the oil on it’s own, but, I still taste the bacon flavor when I make this tomato salad, and  love the way the smoky bacon and tomato flavors meld.

Note:  If you really want to focus on the bacon flavors, I suggest seasoning with plain Kosher salt rather than the gourmet stuff, as the extra seasoning in the gourmet sea salts tend to distract my palate.

grapeseedoil

Photo from Wildtree
Click on the pic to go there.

I have fallen in love with Grapeseed Oil because I love the taste.  I used to be very devoted to olive oil, but, I like grapeseed oil even better, and I love the Wildtree brand (and not just because one of my dear friends sells the stuff!)   The taste of the grapeseed oil is not as heavy as the olive oil, and I find this especially desirable on a salad like my tomato salad where I want to taste the tomato.

I drizzle the grapeseed oil over the seasoned tomatoes, and then I follow that with a drizzle of vinegar.  I tried this salad first using this Champagne Mimosa Vinegar from Chapparal Gardens – LOVED it – but now I use balsamic vinegar and that is good too.  The Champagne vinegar is better … but it is also kind of pricey, Then again, so is a good balsamic vinegar, but since I always have balsamic vinegar on hand … well, you get the idea, right?

After I’ve seasoned and dressed the tomatoes, I toss the tomatoes well in the mixture to make sure that all the tomatoes get some vinegar and oil and seasoning on them.  And then I eat it.  YUM!

???????????????????????????????Yeah, I told you it’s easy.  So, if it’s a little too easy for you and my recipe is leaving you asking why I bothered to write this post … let me add this:  Tomatoes are very good for you!  They are an excellent source of antioxidants and help lower cholesterol.  They are also an excellent source of vitamin C, A, K and potassium.  And they’re practically calorie free!  Now, the dressing on this salad isn’t calorie or fat free, of course, but, I suggest go sparingly with the vinegar and oil anyway and let the tomatoes be the star of the show.

You can find more yummy grapeseed oil recipes on my friend Jennifer’s blog!

Alright … I know I’m still really behind … well, that’s because I’ve not been posting.  Funny how these things just keep piling up when you don’t do anything about them, huh?

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Finished Pasta Alfredo

Anyway … this is a “combination” review, because a friend of mine sent me a sample of Wildtree’s Alfredo Extraordinaire Sauce Mix and I received a package of Sfoglini Bronx Brewery Pasta in my February Knoshbox.  So, I decided to make Pasta Alfredo with the Spent Grain Radiator pasta that I received in my Knoshbox using this VERY EASY to make Alfredo sauce from Wildtree.

???????????????????????????????About Sfoglini Bronx Brewery Pasta:

These BxB Radiators are made with spent grains from the brewery’s flagship Pale Ale beer. The five different barley malts create a unique, rich flavor in the pasta that must be experienced.

alfredoextraordinaireAbout Alfredo Extraordinaire Sauce Mix from Wildtree:  

The Name Says It All – This Alfredo Is Extraordinary!

What I think:

Just about anyone can prepare pasta … just boil water, add a handful of salt to the boiling water, and then add the pasta and let it cook until tender, and then drain. Easy peasy, right?  (Yeah, it ain’t homemade pasta, but, I lack the patience needed to make my own pasta, I’m afraid, especially since my youngest is not a big fan of pasta anyway … it seems like a lot of work for something that is going to be received with less than enthusiastic results, you know?)  

Anyway, I like that this pasta only takes about seven minutes to prepare.  The instructions on the package say 5 – 8 minutes, but after testing it at five minutes, it was still a little more firm than I wanted it to be.  However, seven minutes on my stovetop, in my kitchen … produced just the right texture for this pasta.  

And I just want to give a shout out to Jennifer of Blissful Yoga Journey for sending me the Alfredo Extraordinaire sauce mix … check out her blog here.  (She’s also my SororiTea Sister!)

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The dry pasta, up close and personal…

On it’s own, the pasta has a pleasant flavor.  It is tastier than what I’ll call “white” pasta which is something I seldom buy anymore anyway, because I like to think that the whole wheat pasta is better for me and my family.  Even if it isn’t, I like to live under the illusion of selecting the healthier option. I like the texture of this pasta, it doesn’t taste or feel mushy, and it’s comfort food taken to a tastier, more satisfying level.

When tossed with the Alfredo Estraordinaire Sauce Mix from Wildtree, this pasta goes from good to GREAT.  As I mentioned before, the sauce mix from Wildtree is extremely easy to prepare.  Simply melt some butter in a saucepan with some milk (I used a 1:1 ratio of half and half to 1% milk, mostly because we didn’t have enough of the 1% milk in the fridge tonight), Once the butter is completely melted, whisk in the sauce mix until completely incorporated and smooth.  

The sauce is a bit thinner than I thought it would be … I expected a thick sauce.  But, once added to drained, unrinsed pasta it thickened up a bit, and by the time I reached the bottom of my bowl of pasta, I kind of expected a puddle of sauce, but there was absolutely NO puddle.  So, either time to set, time to cool, or adding the pasta causes this sauce to thicken (or perhaps a combination of all three of these factors.)  

I like the way the sauce sort of infiltrates the grooves of this radiator style pasta and clings to it so that I get lots of yummy alfredo taste in every bite.  The sauce tastes cheesy, creamy and it is nicely seasoned.  I didn’t add additional seasoning to the bowl of pasta except for a couple of grinds of freshly ground pepper which is something that I add to just about every dish I eat.  I garnished the top with a light sprinkling of fresh Parmesan cheese.  

My Final Thoughts:  

It is a very flavorful sauce … not at all bland, and I like the way these two products work together.  The pasta is filling and delicious.  The two together make for a seriously tasty supper, and it took me less than ten minutes to throw it together!

If ever there was a foodie holiday, this is it.

Most people in the United States right now are busily preparing their feasts.   But not me.  Whats this, you say?  I claim to be a foodie and I’m not cooking a Thanksgiving feast?

Nope.  Not today anyway.  My husband works today, and for the last ten years has worked every Thanksgiving (save one or two, I think).  The line of work that he is in requires him to be there on this day, as it is one of the busiest days of the year for the company.

So, we generally postpone the holiday until it’s convenient for everyone in our household.  Which is just fine with me.  To me, Thanksgiving is more about gathering with those you love:  family.  It doesn’t really matter which day you choose to serve the turkey and all the trimmings, does it?

Photo from Wikipedia

But this IS a foodie blog and Thanksgiving is a foodie holiday, so I thought it would be appropriate if I share with you one of my favorite holiday recipes.  In my opinion, it’s the one overlooked dish on the plate:  the cranberry sauce.

While growing up, the cranberry sauce was so overlooked that we were served that jelly stuff out of the can, sliced haphazardly using the markings from the can to cut the slices, which were still imparted on the can shaped, jiggling ruby-red jelly.  I’m sorry, that stuff is alright if you’re a kid, but, one of the first things that I changed about my own Thanksgiving when I became an adult is the cranberry sauce, because… gross.  Just… gross.

Now, I am not one to go and get a bag of fresh cranberries and cook them down.  I wish I were, but, on Thanksgiving, there’s a lot of stuff to do, and that much work is not something I want to pile onto the list.  So I do utilize the can, but I use the canned whole cranberries instead of that jelly stuff.

Here’s a basic recipe, keep in mind that when I cook I do it primarily by eye and taste, not so much by measuring:

Cranberry Compote

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of cranberries (whole cranberry sauce)
  • canned pears
  • 1 orange
  • Dried Cranberries (I usually use Craisins, because I they’re my new raisins, I use them all the time)
  • Loose Leaf Chai  (your favorite brand, I think that a black tea or spice only blend works best in this recipe.  If you only have teabags, use 2 teabags instead of 1 for this recipe)
  • Nutmeg (freshly ground)

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Start by steeping the chai tea strong.  If you generally use 1 1/2 teaspoons of loose leaf chai to make a cup of chai, use 3 teaspoons.  Steep 1 cup of the chai using boiling water and steep for 3 – 4 minutes.  Add a handful of dried cranberries to a bowl and strain the chai over the cranberries.  Set the bowl aside.

Open the can of cranberries and put in a small saucepan over medium to medium-high heat until it comes to a simmer.  In the meantime, slice the pears into small chunks (I generally use the equivalent of 1 1/2 pears in this compote.  You can use more or less according to your own preference), and zest the orange.

Once the cranberries are brought to a simmer, add the chunks of pear and about 3/4 teaspoon of orange zest.  I don’t measure the orange zest.  I just eyeball it, and this is an estimate of how much I add.  Then cut the orange in half and squeeze the juice and pulp (no seeds, please!) into the sauce.  Stir.

Now add the dried cranberries which have reconstituted slightly in the chai.  Pour off the excess chai (don’t discard it though), and add the cranberries.  By this time, it’s probably getting a little thick and could use a little liquid.  Add the remaining chai by tablespoons until it is a little liquid-y (as it will continue to reduce down a bit), but not too much.  I generally find about 3 tablespoons is about right.  Just remember that you can always add a little bit more, but you can’t take it away once its in there, so add it slowly until you reach the ideal amount of liquid.

Allow to continue to simmer and reduce down a bit.  Once you reach a pleasing consistency, remove from the heat and grate some fresh nutmeg over the top and stir it in.  Then I put it in the fridge to cool because my family prefers it served as a chilled salad, but, it is also quite nice served warm.

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This is my absolute favorite way to serve cranberries, and while cranberries aren’t as popular with the rest of my family as they are with me, my family actually eats them when prepared this way (they don’t like the cranberry sauce as is).  It also tastes great on leftover turkey sandwiches the next day.

In May’s Tasting Box, I received a sample of this as well as the Black Truffle & Fresh Thyme Sea Salt.  I had originally planned to have this review encompass both salt blends, but, since I didn’t use them together, I will write about them separately.  Here, I will talk about the Fresh Rosemary & Sage Herb Sea Salt…

Where to Buy:  Woody’s Gourmet on Foodzie

Product Description:

Intense fresh rosemary and sage aromas collaborate with the flavors of garlic and hints of black pepper to create a truly versatile accompaniment to many of your favorite dishes. Our proprietary method of Wet Infusion™ blends essential oils from fresh herbs with sea salt. This blend is bursting with complexity that will surprise you.

And yes, we are talking about sea salt in a whole new light. Use it as a meat rub or on poultry, pastas, potatoes, soups, even on salads, this versatile blend goes well on most dishes. Anytime you would use salt, use Woody’s Gourmet. Try it and see if you agree.

What I Think:

I decided to use this on some roast potatoes.  To prepare, I cut the potatoes in small, bite-sized chunks, drizzled with olive oil, and tossed with pepper, freshly minced garlic, and about a teaspoon of this salt blend.  I baked the potatoes at 400° F until golden brown and cooked through.

YUM!  I used to use Kosher salt all the time, but, I have since discovered that I prefer the flavor imparted by sea salt.  The sea salt really brought out the savory flavor of the rosemary and sage, and helped conquer the bitter note that would normally be tasted with these herbs.  The rosemary has a lovely pine-like taste to it which I really liked, and the sage gave a delicious, earthy flavor to the potatoes.

I also had great success with this sprinkled on some Pollack fillets before baking.  A rather simple preparation, but with results that exceeded my expectations.  My entire family devoured their dinner!

The best thing about this blend is that it does all the work for me.  I love using fresh herbs, but I am not crazy about preparing the fresh herbs when I cook; because of this, I don’t use a lot of fresh herbs.  It may seem a bit trivial, but, I have never been one who enjoys preparation, I am usually a “fly by the seat of my pants” kind of cook.  This blend lets me do my thing the way I want without having to prepare for it!   And, I didn’t get any of the tough leaves or withy branches with the rosemary – something that I usually have a difficult time avoiding when I chop my own fresh rosemary.  Awesome!

My Final Thoughts:

While I was excited to try this blend, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to use it on.  I thought I needed to use it on something super fancy to do it justice.  But as it turns out, it takes something as humble as potatoes and turns it into something fancy … and delicious!