March 19, 2008

The Simplest Salmon You Will Ever Make

Salmon with Pesto and Puff Pastry_closeup

I don’t often get to eat a good piece of fish. Because R doesn’t touch the stuff and because I live in a studio apartment and I don’t want my pillow to smell all too similarly to what I just put in my stomach, I rarely get to cook fresh fish. But last night I wasn’t in a pasta mood and I had had chicken the night before and I was really just craving a nice piece of fish.

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October 30, 2007

My Love-Hate Relationship with Giada

Giada De Laurentiis perplexes me. I have a feeling that if we went to high school together or had pledged the same sorority in college, we would have gotten along and could’ve hung out in big groups, but we never would have been bosom buddies. Get it? Bosom buddies? Because she always shows her cleavage?? I crack myself up. (I also cannot get the song “Bosom Buddies” from Mame out of my head now…) But seriously, who says to themselves, “I’m going to spend the day in the kitchen making lots of pasta and I want to wear an impractically low cut shirt”? Not me, that’s for sure.

However, as I’ve mentioned before, I enjoy her food and I’m often able to recreate her recipes without too much fuss. I do find it difficult to take her seriously when she does things like this, but so far I’ve been able to tolerate it (though this one was pushing it).

I don’t even remember the first time R and I saw Giada make her Tri-Colore Orzo but it became a fast staple in our kitchen. One of the things I love about R is his enthusiasm and fearlessness in the kitchen. If he sees a recipe that sounds good, not only will he actually make it, but he will make it now. So when this salad struck his fancy, we threw it together for a dinner party that same night. We hadn’t even been asked to bring anything and our hosts were quite surprised when we did!

We changed up the recipe a bit – originally because we didn’t have the ingredients on hand and then later because we liked it that way – but I’m sure it’d be delicious with anything you throw in. Orzo is such a fantastic salad pasta because it doesn’t look like pasta. In fact, most of our friends couldn’t even identify the grain-looking pasta whilst heaping it onto their plates.

We continue to make this salad because it’s always such a hit. The flavors are really excellent if you let it refrigerate for a few hours, which makes it an ideal potluck/picnic/make-ahead dish. The key to the flavor is: taste, season, re-taste, re-season. Repeat. The perfect balance of olive oil, salt and pepper is crucial.

Tri Colore Orzo
Recipe inspired by Tri-Colore Orzo by Giada De Laurentiis

Ingredients

1 lb. orzo pasta
3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil, plus 1/4 C.
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 C. sun-dried tomatoes, sliced in strips
12 fresh basil leaves, torn
1/4 C. toasted pine nuts
3 Tbs. lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Prepare pasta according to package. When cooked al dente, drain completely. Spread orzo onto a baking sheet and add 3 Tbs. oil. Mix together and let cool completely.

When orzo is cool, put into a medium bowl. Add remaining ingredients and mix to combine. Garnish with basil sprigs.

May be refrigerated for hours before serving.


May 22, 2007

Everyday Panini

On weekend mornings, when we don’t feel like making pancakes, R and I often get sucked into the Food Network‘s morning TV lineup. Somewhere around 10:00 Rachael comes on, then Giada, then Ina and then the British lady whose soothing voice usually lulls me back to sleep (I have caught her show during non-sleepy hours of the day and she’s actually quite adorable). This past Sunday was no different.

I have a little side job on the weekends working for an event coordinator (mostly high-end weddings, anniversaries and Bar/Bat Mitzvahs) and Saturday night was a doozy. I had been on my feet from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. and so my ambitions for Sunday consisted of waking up, and potentially showering… if I felt up to it.

Anyway (sorry, got a bit sidetracked), there we were, lounging with the Food Network and learning about Giada’s “Everyday Lunches” when we got inspired. Giada is actually one of the few Food Network chefs that doesn’t irk me to watch (ahem, Rachael), and although her head may be slightly larger than most and her cleavage is always showing, the woman knows her food.

This particular episode was about quick, easy and tasty lunches and her recipe for Taleggio and Pear Panini is what really piqued my interest. By now you all know how I feel about cheese, and melted cheese on a sandwich is always up my alley. Add to that fruit, greens and a drizzle of honey and I’m basically in heaven. After a quick trip to Trader Joe’s (my big outing for the day), we decided to make our own version of this fantastic-sounding sandwich.

Admittedly, R did most of the work, but I kept a diligent eye out to make sure I could recreate it. The key to this sandwich is fresh ciabatta bread and a creamy cheese. We didn’t see taleggio, so we opted for brie instead (an excellent choice!). We also swapped out the pears for green apples to give it a more crisp crunch and added a slice of turkey for some protein. I’m a big fan of paninis in general, but I was fantastically satisfied by this gem.

Apple and Brie Panini
adapted from Giadia DeLaurentiis’ Taleggio and Pear Panini

Ingredients

1 long ciabatta loaf, fresh
1 green apple, thinly sliced
Honey
1 wedge brie
2 handfuls baby spinach
Olive oil
2 slices turkey (optional)

Directions

Cut ciabatta loaf in half and then slice each half open for sandwiches. Drizzle the inside of each piece with olive oil and place face down in a large skillet or pan. Heat on medium-low until warm and toasty. (NOTE: if you have a panini maker, you can skip this step.) Once heated through, spread generous portion of brie on one half of the sandwich. Place a few slices of apple on top of the brie and drizzle with honey. Finish with a handful of baby spinach and a slice or two of turkey. When fully constructed, place back in heated pan for a few minutes on both sides to get extra-melty. You can also utilize your panini maker if you have one.

Yield: 2 sandwiches

Photo courtesy of flickr and timelas

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