Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Tomato & Mozzarella Sandwich with Basil-Garlic Scape Pesto

It is No-Cook Week at Food Network and my contribution pairs fresh-from-the-garden tomatoes with Buffalo mozzarella and spicy pesto made with basil and garlic scapes. I know we just had Pesto Week a couple of weeks ago, but this version...classic pesto combined with garlic scapes...is so delicious I couldn't wait to share.
garlic scapes

Garlic scapes are a soon-to-flower stalk that grows at the top of the garlic plant from between the leaves. These "flowers" have to be cut off to ensure the bulb receives the necessary energy required to grow the garlic we know and love.  This process is sort of like pinching the flowers off herb plants to aid in their growth. I love the clean, organic look of scapes. They curl into very interesting shapes and make lovely casual floral arrangements that I use for a day or two prior to turning into a delicious treat.

Many people discard the garlic scapes when harvesting. If you grow garlic, do not let this happen. They are an amazingly tasty vegetable that can be used wherever you use garlic, green onions or chives. They taste like a milder version of fresh garlic with a bit less bite while still retaining tons of flavor. They can be chopped up and added to stir-fry, frittata, pasta or sautéed and added as a topping for pizza or bruschetta. You will find many ways to use, but today they are being processed into pesto.


For the sandwiches, I spread a very thick layer of the pesto on a slice of really good, artisan bread. Then I pile ripe, garden grown heirloom tomatoes on top of the pesto, top with fresh buffalo mozzarella cheese and add the second piece of bread. When the temperature is soaring, I eat it just like that. When it is a bit cooler, I grill the sandwich or place in the panini press. Either way...delicious!

Tomato & Mozzarella Sandwich with Basil-Garlic Scape Pesto
(make as many sandwiches as you like)

In-Season heirloom tomatoes. sliced
Buffalo mozzarella, sliced 1/2 inch thick
Basil-Garlic Scape Pesto, recipe follows
Artisan bread, any kind, thickly sliced

For each sandwich, spread pesto on one slice of bread. Top with tomatoes, and cheese and second slice of bread. Cut in half and enjoy!

For non "no-cook" weeks, this sandwich is delicious grilled or placed in a panini press.

Basil-Garlic Scape Pesto
1/2 cup pine nuts
2 oz parmigiano-reggiano cheese, cut into 2 pieces
3 garlic scapes
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
5 cups basil leaves (packed)
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus additional to top
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juicesea salt
freshly cracked black pepper

Toast pine nuts in a skillet until just beginning to brown.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Add cheese to a food processor fitted with the chopping/mixing blade.  Process until the cheese is grated.  Add cooled pine nuts, garlic scapes and red pepper flakes and process until all ingredients are finely grated.  Add half of basil leaves, and 1/4 cup olive oil and process until smooth but with a bit of texture. Add remaining basil, remaining olive oil, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Process until well mixed.  Taste and adjust seasonings if desired.


Summer means easy, breezy dishes made from fresh, just-picked produce and this week at Food Network's Summer Soiree we are celebrating No Cook recipesDo you have a favorite no-cook recipe? Share in the comments section and/or link to your blog if you have one. And be sure to check out the delicious sounding recipes from my blogger friends and Food Network. Bloggers' recipes will be posted at noon on Thursday, so please check back then.

best,
diane

I have started sharing my newest blog "California Girl in Taos."  Please visit and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Watermelon Salsa


I admit it. I am a salsa addict. I can eat bowls of chips and salsa, and love to top chicken, fish, eggs, salad, you name it, with the classic tomato version. Or green tomatillo salsa for a change. But, guess what? Fresh watermelon makes an equally delicious salsa. You have to give it a try.


I add fresh corn to the salsa and there is something addicting (like how I am keeping the addict theme going?) about the sweet watermelon and corn combined with spicy chilies, green onion and a handful of herbs. When the weather is really hot, this cooling and refreshing salsa is even better than the tomato version. Give it a try with tortilla chips, of course, but also as a topping for your favorite grilled protein.
Don't you just love summer?


Watermelon Salsa
(makes 4 cups)

3 cups diced watermelon
2 green onions, chopped (white and green parts)
1/2 cucumber, seeded and diced
1-2 jalapeño, seeded and diced (depends on how spicy you like your salsa)
1/2 cup fresh corn 
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, chopped
Zest from 1 lime
Juice from 1 lime
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed. Chill until ready to serve. 

Delicious with tortilla chips or as a topping for chicken or fish.

Note, this is best eaten the day you make it, but, in a pinch, I have made the night before. Just drain before serving as the watermelon will give off a lot of juice. And don't add the herbs until right before you serve.

Click Here For Recipe Friendly Recipe


Summer means easy, breezy dishes made from fresh, just-picked produce and this week at Food Network's Summer Soiree we are celebrating WatermelonDo you have a favorite watermelon recipe? Share in the comments section and/or link to your blog if you have one. And be sure to check out the delicious sounding recipes from my blogger friends and Food Network. 

Weelicious: Watermelon Cinnamon Granita
Homemade Delish: 
Refreshing Watermelon Salsa
Healthy Eats: 
Pretty in Pink: 6 Dishes Made Better with Watermelon
Creative Culinary: 
Margarita Watermelon
The Wimpy Vegetarian: 
Watermelon and Peach Salsa
Dishin & Dishes: 
Watermelon Jalapeno Agua Fresca
Napa Farmhouse 1885: 
Watermelon Salsa
Red or Green: 
Watermelon, Corn & Jalapeno Salad
The Mom 100: 
Watermelon Strawberry Smoothie
Taste with the Eyes: 
Unique Watermelon Salad - Pomegranate Syrup, Feta, Cucumber
FN Dish: 
6 Party-Ready Ways to Take Watermelon Off the Rind

best,
diane

I have started sharing my newest blog "California Girl in Taos."  Please visit and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Garden Salad With Basil-Pesto Vinaigrette

My pesto vinaigrette store in a Mason jar...like Pizza Outback!
My favorite pizza joint in Taos...actually one of my favorites anywhere....is Pizza Outback. Their pizza is phenomenal, and I will share some of their combinations another time. Today I am writing about one of my obsessions...their salad dressing. Salad dressing you ask? Seems odd to get this excited, right? But....this one is a delicious pesto based vinaigrette thinned with a bit of vinegar and other, secret, ingredients. People order the salad and then buy mason jar filled dressing to take home. I live a block away and confess I am one of their best customers.
fresh basil from the garden
I decided I would try to recreate the pesto vinagrette at home. I have bushes of basil growing in the summer, and it seems wrong to keep buying my dressing at Outback. (Winter is a different story, I will be back to my mason jars), but for now I am making my own version of the original. I haven't quite figured out their exact recipe, but I am pretty happy with my take. I used my regular classic pesto recipe but swapped almonds for the more traditional pine nuts and added some apple cider vinegar. I know that Pizza Outback's vinaigrette does not contain nuts, but I like the hint of sweetness the almonds add.



I used this dressing on green salads of course, but it is also delicious drizzled over grilled chicken or fish or vegetables. Your family just might up their daily greens consumption if they have access to the pesto vinaigrette. Enjoy!


Basil-Pesto Vinaigrette
1/2 cup sliced almonds
2 oz parmigiano-reggiano cheese, cut into 2 pieces
2 garlic cloves
pinch red pepper flakes
5 cups basil leaves (packed)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp water (if needed)
sea salt
freshly cracked black pepper

Toast almonds in a skillet until just beginning to brown.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Add cheese to a food processor fitted with the chopping/mixing blade.  Process until the cheese is grated.  Add cooled almonds, garlic, and red pepper flakes and process until all ingredients are finely grated.  Add half of basil leaves, and 1/4 cup olive oil and process until smooth but with a bit of texture. Add remaining basil, remaining olive oil, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper, and vinegar. Process until well mixed. Add water if necessary to reach desired pouring consistency. Taste and adjust seasonings if desired.

The vinaigrette will keep for 1 week in the refrigerator. Let come to room temperature before using.

I like this with a green salad made with crisp lettuce, tomatoes, green onions, croutons and toasted sliced almonds. Toss with the vinaigrette and top with some grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Click Here For Printer Friendly Recipes

Other pesto recipes you may enjoy:



Summer means easy, breezy dishes made from fresh, just-picked produce and this week at Food Network's Summer Soiree we are celebrating PestoDo you have a favorite pesto recipe?  Share in the comments section and/or link to your blog if you have one. And be sure to check out the delicious sounding recipes from my blogger friends and Food Network.

The Lemon Bowl: Lemony Pistachio Basil Pesto
Dishin & Dishes: 
Kale Pesto and Mushroom Stuffed Porterhouse Chops
Creative Culinary: 
Pesto Potato Salad with Parmesan Walnuts
Weelicious: 
Kale Pesto
Napa Farmhouse 1885: 
Garden Salad With Basil-Pesto Vinaigrette
Red or Green: 
Corn On The Cob With Basil-Jalapeno Vinaigrette
Homemade Delish: 
Spinach and Kale Pesto
Domesticate Me: 
Ratatouille Quinoa Bake with Pesto and Buffalo Mozzarella
The Mom 100: 
Crusted Loin Lamb Chops with Mint Basil Pesto
Taste with the Eyes: 
Fresh, Fabulous, and Frugal - Carrot Top Pesto
Elephants and the Coconut Trees: 
Chicken Breasts with Coconut and Cilantro Pesto
Healthy Eats: 
Green Is the New Black: 5 Must-Try Pestos
FN Dish: 
6 Non-Pasta Ways to Go Big with Pesto

best,
diane

I have started sharing my newest blog "California Girl in Taos."  Please visit and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Prosecco & Chambord Cocktail


We had dinner guests last Friday, and I wanted to serve a light, cooling, refreshing, not too sweet cocktail to kick off the night. I had a bottle of Prosecco on hand and a bowl of raspberries in the refrigerator and thought..." this could be a pretty great combo".  So, I combined ice-cold Prosecco in a large pitcher with Chambord (red & black raspberry liqueur) and added a large handful of fresh raspberries. I poured the mixture into large, chilled, ice-filled glasses garnished with fresh mint. The result? Delicious.


I love how easy it is to prepare this cocktail. It pairs well with appetizers, and because it is not too strong, the drink is perfect for brunch, lunch or pre-dinner appetizers.It doesn't hurt that it is absolutely gorgeous too. Give it a try; I have a feeling you will be making this all summer. Enjoy!


Prosecco & Chambord Cocktail 
(4 servings)

1 750 ML bottle Prosecco, ice cold
1 cup Chambord liqueur
1 cup fresh raspberries
ice
fresh mint leaves for garnish
tall cocktail glasses, chilled

Pour chilled Prosecco and Chambord into a large pitcher. Stir to combine. Add raspberries.

Add three ice cubes to each glass. Pour cocktail over ice. Garnish with mint and serve immediately.

Click Here For Printer Friendly Recipe

Other summer cocktails you may enjoy:
Summer means easy, breezy dishes made from fresh, just-picked produce and this week at Food Network's Summer Soiree we are celebrating Summer CocktailsDo you have a favorite cocktails recipe? Or, if you are not from the state, a favorite summer picnic recipe? Share in the comments section and/or link to your blog if you have one. And be sure to check out the delicious sounding recipes from my blogger friends and Food Network. 

Feed Me Phoebe: Hibiscus Tea Arnold Palmers, Spiked or Sober
Creative Culinary: 
Lime Sherbet Float with Strawberries and Prosecco
Virtually Homemade: 
Strawberry Swirl Pina Colada
Healthy Eats: 
5 Classic Cocktails, Slimmed Down
Daisy at Home: 
Frozen Watermelon-ade
Homemade Delish: 
Summer Cocktail Delight
Taste with the Eyes: 
Sublime Franco-Korean Elderflower Soju Martini
Napa Farmhouse 1885: 
Prosecco & Chambord Cocktail
Red or Green: 
Fresh Watermelon & Herb Margaritas
The Mom 100: 
A Peach Cocktail and a Mocktail for Mixed Company
FN Dish: 
6 Fruity Riffs on Classic Summer Cocktails

best,
diane

I have started sharing my newest blog "California Girl in Taos."  Please visit and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Best Ever Elk Burgers for the 4th of July


My book club (aka salon) is reading Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal by Eric Schlosser this month. If you are familiar with the book you know that it reports an inside look at the history of fast food, the suppliers, the economics of keeping the food inexpensive and the politics of food safety, or lack thereof. I haven't eaten fast food in years...after this book I never will again. Google Books description in part reads:

"Eric Schlosser's myth-shattering survey stretches from the California subdivisions where the business was born to the industrial corridor along the New Jersey Turnpike where many of fast food's flavors are concocted. He hangs out with the teenagers who make the restaurants run and communes with those unlucky enough to hold America's most dangerous job -- meatpacker. He travels to Las Vegas for a giddily surreal franchisers' convention where Mikhail Gorbachev delivers the keynote address. He even ventures to England and Germany to clock the rate at which those countries are becoming fast food nations.
Along the way, Schlosser unearths a trove of fascinating, unsettling truths -- from the unholy alliance between fast food and Hollywood to the seismic changes the industry has wrought in food production, popular culture, and even real estate. He also uncovers the fast food chains' efforts to reel in the youngest, most susceptible consumers even while they hone their institutionalized exploitation of teenagers and minorities. Schlosser then turns a critical eye toward the hot topic of globalization -- a phenomenon launched by fast food.
FAST FOOD NATION is a groundbreaking work of investigation and cultural history that may change the way America thinks about the way it eats."



elk patty

The book supports my belief that eating organic, locally grown food is the best way to promote health, community, safety and economic policy. You won't want to eat low-cost supermarket beef again after reading the book...if you are fortunate enough to be able to purchase grass fed beef...please do so.  Since I spend most of my time in Taos, New Mexico these days, I am also able to easily find beef alternatives such as bison and elk. These choices are purported to be leaner than commercially grown beef with less cholesterol and the animals are treated humanely throughout their lives. My family likes the taste better than beef, and I like the fact that, with each purchase, I am supporting small, local ranchers. 



Today I am sharing my recipe for elk burgers. Due to the lower fat content, I add a bit of minced white onions to add some moisture. I also cook to medium rare. Please do go any further than "medium" when cooking...they will dry out too much with additional heat. Maybe give elk a try for the 4th of July?


Best Ever Elk Burgers
(makes 4)

1 lb ground elk
1/2 cup minced white onions
sea salt
black pepper
extra virgin olive oil (for grill)
4 whole wheat or sourdough hamburger buns
butter or olive oil
your favorite hamburger toppings i.e.
crisp lettuce leaves
sliced red onion
mayo
ketchup
mustard
cheddar cheese, if desired

Combine elk and minced onions in a small bowl. Form meat into four patties. Using your thumb, make a depression in the center of each patty. (This will help prevent shrinkage) Generously season each patty with salt and pepper. Set aside

Prepare coals if using an outdoor grill or heat grill pan until hot. Grease grate or grill pan with olive oil. Grill burgers 3 1/2 to 4 minutes per side. You want medium rare or medium...cooking any longer will result in dry, tough meat. If using cheese, add during the last minute of cooking to allow melting. Remove from heat and allow to rest for a few minutes.

Butter or olive oil insides of each bun. Grill for one minute being careful to not let burn.

Add elk patties to buns and add your favorite toppings. Serve immediately

Click Here For Printer Friendly Recipe

Summer means easy, breezy dishes made from fresh, just-picked produce and this week at Food Network's Summer Soiree we are celebrating the 4th of JulyDo you have a favorite 4th of July recipe? Or, if you are not from the state, a favorite summer picnic recipe? Share in the comments section and/or link to your blog if you have one. And be sure to check out the delicious sounding recipes from my blogger friends and Food Network. 

Feed Me Phoebe: Red Beet Hummus Recipe with Lemony Yogurt
The Heritage Cook: 
Tangy Caprese Salad with Pickled Cherries (Gluten-Free)
Creative Culinary: 
July 4th Red, White and Blue Patriotic Poke Cake
Weelicious: 
Blue Corn Chip Crusted Fish Sticks with Red Pepper Coulis
The Lemon Bowl: 
3 Steps to Perfectly Cooked Sweet Corn
Bacon and Souffle: 
Red, White and Blue Bark
Healthy Eats: 
5 Frozen Treats for a Sweet Fourth
Taste with the Eyes: 
Dessert for the 4th of July: Elderflower Berry Pavlova
Napa Farmhouse 1885: 
Best Ever Elk Burgers For The 4th of July
Red or Green: 
Roasted Sweet Pepper Salad
Elephants and the Coconut Trees: 
Heirloom Tomato Pie
In Jennie's Kitchen: 
Summer Raspberry Sorbet
Homemade Delish:
 4th of July Cheesecake
FN Dish: 
Portable Picks to Make and Take on July 4th

best,
diane

I have started sharing my newest blog "California Girl in Taos."  Please visit and let me know what you think.