Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Cucumber & Sage Cocktail

Hot summer days scream for a delicious hand crafted cocktail, especially one made with fresh, in season ingredients and best quality spirits.  This recipe is one of my new favorites.
My herb garden is overflowing with sage. I planted a couple of 4-inch pots last year and the herb came back with a vengeance this summer.  I have been experimenting with recipes to use the wonderful bounty. My favorite is gnocchi or pasta in a butter and sage sauce. I often roast chicken stuffed with fresh sage leaves. Sage pairs wonderfully with pork...and apples in fall. Lovely with white beans and loads of olive oil...or fried sage leaves crumbled on roast vegetables. But today's star is a cocktail with the sage muddled with cucumber and then added to a mixture of tequila, Chambord, lemon juice and topped with Prosecco. Light, tangy, refreshing and really, really good!  Man, I love summer.

Cucumber & Sage Cocktail
(This was inspired by the Silver Sage Cocktail at Blue Mesa Grill)
makes 2
4 slices cucumber (about 1 inch thick)
5 sage leaves
2 oz tequila (use a really good one)
1 oz Chambord
juice from 1 lemon
1 tbsp agave nectar
2 cups ice
sage leaves for garnish
Add cucumber and sage to large cocktail shaker. Muddle to combine ingredients. Add tequila, Chambord, lemon juice, agave and ice. Shake vigorously. 
Strain in 2 champagne flutes or other tall glasses.  Top off with prosecco and a sage leaf garnish. Serve immediately.

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It is "Summer Cocktails" week at Food Network's #Summer Soiree roundup. Have a favorite summer cocktail recipe?  Share in the comments section and/or link to your blog if you have one. 

Feed Me Phoebe: Grilled Strawberry-Mint Bellinis
The Lemon Bowl: Raspberry-Ginger Bellini
Jeanette's Healthy Living: White Peach Sangria
The Heritage Cook: Refreshing Lime Coolers
The Cultural Dish: Pimm's Cup
Virtually Homemade: Frozen Lime Margaritas with a Sangria Swirl 
Weelicious: Strawberry Lemonade 
Big Girls, Small Kitchen: Strawberry Gimlets with Homemade Strawberry Vodka
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Cucumber and Sage Cocktail
Red or Green: Frozen Tri-Melon Cocktail
Dishing With Divya: Caipirinha
In Jennie's Kitchen: Cantaloupe Lillet Sparkler
Poet in the Pantry: Pirate's Booty Call
Elephants and the Coconut Trees: Watermelon Malibu Surf
Sweet Life Bake: Boozy Affogato
Devour: 5 Boozy Summer Coolers
Domesticate Me: Blueberry Mojito Royale
Haute Apple Pie: Classic Mojito
Daily*Dishin: Blackberry Rum Shrub
Taste With The Eyes: Korean Soju Kimbap Bloody Mary
FN Dish: Sip Your Way Through Summer (Recipes)

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

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Farmers' Market Salad with Grilled Corn

"Could you please bring a salad?"  
I was invited to a dinner party last Saturday night and this was the answer to my question "What can I make?"  I happily agreed and decided to make my favorite salad of summer, appropriately named, Farmers' Market Salad
This is one of those non-recipe, recipes. The ingredients listed below are just guidelines. My suggestion is to make a shopping list of the necessary items for the vinaigrette and pesto. Ensure you have everything on your list. Then go to your favorite local farmers' market and buy big bunches of whatever is in season...whatever looks good. The only non-negotiables (in my opinion) are perfect, in-season tomatoes and the freshest possible corn on the cob.  Then mix in your favorite greens and vegetables and you are set. Zucchini, summer squash, scallions, roasted beets, onions, herbs, peppers...the list goes on and on and the variations are endless. Add a protein like grilled chicken, fish or steak and you have your main course.

This week's salad included onions, sweet red bell pepper, fresh herbs and a mixture of 4 different greens added to the aforementioned grilled corn and sweet tomatoes. Tossed with an herb vinaigrette (I used basil and mint) and topped with fresh croutons...some drizzled with olive oil and the rest spread with a delicious basil pesto...this was a perfect example of why I so love eating/cooking at the height of summer. Delicious.  Oh...and the dinner party? Great food, lovely wine, good friends and held in a elegant & beautiful earthship (that story for another time) .  Happy mid July everyone!

Farmers Market Salad
(serves 8)
2 ears corn on the cob
5 thick slices good sourdough or whole wheat bread
extra virgin olive oil
16 handfuls mixed greens (your favorite combination of lettuces, spinach, kale, chard, etc)
1 cup cherry tomatoes (cut in half if large)
1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
1 sweet red onion, sliced
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
Herb Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
Pesto (recipe follows)

Grill the corn on the cob. (I use this technique).  Cut corn off cob and set aside.
Grill or broil bread until golden brown with grill marks on both sides. Brush olive oil on 3 slices of bread. Thickly spread pesto on remaining 2 slices of  bread. Cut each slice of bread into 4 pieces. Set croutons aside
Add the greens, tomatoes, red bell pepper, onion,  to a large bowl. Add the reserved corn and large pinch each of salt and pepper. Drizzle salad with 1/3 cup vinaigrette and add the olive oil topped croutons. Toss salad . Add additional dressing if desired but take care not to overdress. Taste and adjust seasonings if desired. Top salad with pesto croutons and serve immediately.
Herb Vinaigrette
1 cup basil leaves
1 cup fresh herbs (1 or a mix, your choice of mint, tarragon, thyme)
1 clove, fresh garlic
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp coconut sugar
2 tbsp water
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
Place all ingredients in food processor. Process until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings if desired.
1/2 cup pine nuts
2 oz parmigiano-reggiano cheese, cut into 2 pieces
2 garlic cloves
1 fresh red cayenne pepper (or other fresh hot red pepper), seeded
5 cups basil leaves (packed)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Toast pine nuts in skillet until just beginning to brown.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Add cheese to food processor fitted with the chopping/mixing blade.  Process until cheese is grated.  Add cooled pine nuts, garlic and red pepper 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. Scrape into small bowl and cover with thin layer of olive oil.

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It is "Corn on the Cob" week at Food Network's #Summer Soiree roundup. Have a favorite corn on the cob recipe?  Share in the comments section and/or link to your blog if you have one. 
And check out the other delicious sounding recipes from my blogger friends and Food Network:

The Lemon Bowl: Corn on the Cob with Lemon Basil
Feed Me Phoebe: Grilled Corn on the Cob with Honey-Basil Butter
The Heritage Cook: Mexican Elote Corn Casserole (Gluten-Free)
The Cultural Dish: New England Seafood Boil
Dishing With Divya: Corn on the Cob with Roasted Garlic Herb Butter
Virtually Homemade: Grilled Corn with Tomato Basil "Butter" (Vegan)
Devour: 4 Cobs, 4 Ways
Daily*Dishin: Quick Thyme Corn Cobbettes
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Farmers Market Salad with Grilled Corn
Red or Green: Grilled Corn on the Cob
Elephants and the Coconut Trees: Buttery Corn on the Cob
Weelicious: Cheesy Corn on the Cob
Domesticate Me: Charred Corn with Bacon, Chiles and Cheese (aka Mexican Street Corn Salad)
Swing Eats: Corn Pasta with Fresh Summer Corn, Tomatoes and Chives
Haute Apple Pie: Roasted Corn off the Cob Salad
Taste With The Eyes: Grilled Corn, Soy Mirin Glaze and Wasabi Goat Butter
In Jennie's Kitchen: Corn and Lemon Thyme Ice Cream + Homemade Creamed Corn
FN Dish: Off-the-Chart Corn on the Cob Recipes

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

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Farmhouse Fried Chicken

Summer and perfect fried chicken. Does it get any better than that?  My grandmother made the best fried chicken in the world...She was from New Orleans and fried chicken, potato salad or mashed potatoes, green beans and homemade biscuits with butter and honey was regularly on the menu. We loved this dinner and so looked forward to the leftover chicken for lunch the next day...cold out of the fridge. (She called it the "ice box").  I never mastered her recipe, my version was good...but not perfect like hers. Sadly, she passed away in 1999 and things have never been the same. I spent years looking for a delicious fried chicken substitute and James Beard came to the rescue.

This is my new favorite fried chicken recipe. I discovered it in Saveur magazine a few years ago and it has become a staple in my house. The recipe is originally from classic book James Beard's American Cookery. I think there is something close to perfection making bacon for Sunday morning brunch and then using the bacon grease to fry delicious chicken for supper. Light, crispy, non-greasy and full of smokey bacon flavor, this fried chicken will soon become a classic in your home too.  Enjoy!

I have made a few changes to the recipe over the years. My edits are listed in red font. The original recipe (including bacon grease dripping gravy which...ok, to be honest is too much for me but maybe for an over-the-top dinner?) is available by clicking here.

Farmhouse Fried Chicken
(adapted from James Beard's American Cookery by James Beard (Little, Brown and Company, 1972) )
4 servings

1  3–4- lb. chicken, cut into 8–10 pieces, rinsed
   and patted dry with paper towels (use the best quality, free range organic chicken you can)
2 cups buttermilk
8 strips applewood smoked thick sliced bacon
3⁄4 cup flour
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp dried Italian parsley flakes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Place buttermilk, 1 tsp each salt and pepper in large, resealable plastic bag. Add the prepped chicken and seal. Place bag in a rimmed baking dish. Refrigerate overnight if possible but at a minimum 4 hours, turn bag 2-3 times to ensure chicken is evenly coated with buttermilk. Remove from fridge and drain. Pat dry with paper towels.
2. Preheat oven to 200°. Lay strips of bacon in a large cast-iron or other heavy skillet and cook on the stovetop over medium heat, turning often, until browned and crisp, 12–15 minutes.  Put flour, paprika, cayenne pepper and parsley into a wide dish, dredge chicken in the flour, shaking off excess, and set aside.
3.  Transfer bacon to paper towels to let drain, then use as desired in another recipe. Pour grease from skillet into a heatproof bowl and wipe out browned bits from bottom of skillet. Return grease to skillet, straining out any sediment, and heat over medium-high heat until hot. Add chicken legs and thighs, skin side down, to skillet, season to taste with salt and pepper, and fry, turning occasionally, until well browned all over, about 15 minutes. Transfer chicken to a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet as done. Repeat with chicken breasts and wings. Return chicken and any accumulated juices to skillet, reduce heat to medium, and continue to cook until chicken is cooked through, 15–20 minutes more. Put chicken on the wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet as done and keep warm in oven.
Serve hot, warm or perfect the next day cold out of the fridge.

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It is "Chicken" week at Food Network's #Summer Soiree roundup.
Check out the other delicious sounding recipes from my blogger friends. Have a favorite chicken recipe?  Share in the comments section and/or link to your blog if you have one.

Feed Me Phoebe: Grilled Buffalo Chicken Quesadillas
The Lemon Bowl: Indian Spiced Grilled Chicken
Jeanette's Healthy Living: Fajita Spiced Beer Can Chicken
Dishing With Divya: General Tso's Chicken with Indian Jeera Rice
Weelicious: Breaded Chicken Cutlets with Pea Salad
Sweet Life Bake: Chicken Fajitas
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Farmhouse Fried Chicken
Red or Green: Spicy Chicken Provencal with Peppers and Heirloom Tomatoes
Elephants and the Coconut Trees: Sweet and Sour Sesame Chicken
Domesticate Me: Cilantro-Lime Grilled Chicken with Strawberry-Jalapeno Salsa
Devour: 5 Sizzling Skewers
Swing Eats: Long John Silver's Style Fried Chicken Planks (Gluten-Free)
Food for 7 Stages of Life: Best Tandoori Chicken Recipe
Taste With The Eyes: Perfect Chicken Dish to Serve to a Crowd
FN Dish: Chicken is Better with Grill Marks

napa farmhouse 1885
red or green?
california girl in taos

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