Tag Archives: TasteFood

Gemelli with Roasted Tomatoes, Arugula and Breadcrumbs

Tomato Pasta Plate x

Posted by Lynda Balslev

Are you looking for an easy and healthy weeknight meal? Here is a fresh, family friendly recipe that may be prepared in 30 minutes with rewarding results. I make this recipe frequently, especially when I have tomatoes on hand – which at this time of year is all the time. This pasta dish makes use of the plethora of end-of-season grape and cherry tomatoes that I can’t help but collect at each market visit. (It’s a weakness.) A little slow roasting heightens their flavor, coaxing out natural juices and sugars, while deflating the impossibly pert tomatoes to a more relaxed version of themselves. It also gives me an excuse to purchase more.

Gemelli Pasta with Roasted Tomatoes and Arugula
Serves 4.

1 pound grape or cherry tomatoes
3 unpeeled garlic cloves
Extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Handful of thyme sprigs
1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons plus 1/3 cup finely grated Parmigiano or Pecorino Romano cheese
1 pound pasta, such as gemelli or fusilli
2 large handfuls of arugula, about 3 cups

Heat the oven to 400°F. Scatter the tomatoes and garlic cloves on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with 1/4 cup olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Scatter the thyme sprigs over the tomatoes. Roast in the oven until tomatoes are softened, about 25 minutes. Remove and reduce oven heat to 350°F. Discard the thyme sprigs. Peel the skin away from the garlic and finely chop the cloves. Transfer the tomatoes and garlic to a large serving bowl.

Sprinkle the breadcrumbs on the same baking sheet and stir to coat in any remaining olive oil. Return the baking sheet to the oven and briefly bake until the breadcrumbs are golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. (They will brown quickly so watch them carefully.) Remove and immediately transfer the breadcrumbs to a small bowl to prevent further cooking. Cool slightly, 2 to 3 minutes, then stir in the 2 tablespoons cheese.

While the tomatoes are roasting, bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente; drain. Add the pasta to the tomatoes, along with the arugula and 1/3 cup cheese. Toss to combine. Drizzle with a little more olive oil if desired. Season with black pepper and taste for salt. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the pasta. Serve immediately.

Plums (and a recipe for galette)

Plums Lynda Balslev tf

Posted by Lynda Balslev 

When life hands you plums…make a galette – or a crostata, depending on which side of the alps you sit. These free form tarts are refreshingly rustic. Their simple duty is to showcase seasonal fruit with little to-do. Big on flavor, short on fuss, with lots of crumbs welcome. My kind of dessert.

plum crostata tastefood

Plum Galette
Makes 1 (10-inch) galette

Dough:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

Filling:
2 tablespoons almond meal
2 tablespoons sugar, divided
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 pounds plums, halved and pitted, cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch slices
1 tablespoon heavy cream

Whipped cream

Place the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to blend. Add half of the butter and process until the dough resembles coarse meal. Add the remaining butter and pulse until the pieces are pea-sized. Transfer to a bowl. Sprinkle in the water while stirring and fluffing with a fork. Stir and toss until the dough comes together. Gather the dough into a ball and flatten into a disk. Wrap with plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour (or up to 24 hours).

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Whisk the almond meal, 1 tablespoon sugar and the cinnamon in a small bowl. Roll out the dough into a 14-inch round. Spread the almond meal over the dough, leaving a 2-inch border. Arrange the plums in a concentric pattern over the almond meal and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sugar.

Fold the dough in over the outer edge of the plums. Brush the crust with the cream. Slide the galette with the parchment onto a baking sheet (or a pizza stone preheated in the oven). Bake until the crust is golden, about 45 minutes. Remove and transfer to a wire rack to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream.

 

Caramelized Fennel, Onion and Salami Flatbread

fennel pizza slice tastefood

Posted by Lynda Balslev

Flatbread or Pizza? And what’s the difference? I had these questions in mind when I made this pizza, er, flatbread, for an easy weeknight dinner. While the difference could simply be semantic, there is a theory that a pizza has a sauce, while flatbread doesn’t. Of course, I’ve made plenty of pizza-flatbreads with no sauce and called them white pizzas, so what do you think?

I decided to label this recipe flatbread, and for the sake of further differentiation (and extra crunch) I used a different method for cooking the dough by pre-cooking it on a skillet then flipping it before adding the toppings and finishing it in a hot oven. The result is a crisp and golden crust for the bubbly melty toppings. It’s a flatbread, and I’m sticking to it.

Flatbread with Caramelized Fennel, Onion & Salame

Finocchiana is a traditional Tuscan salami flavored with fennel seed.
Makes 1 (10-inch) flatbread

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 garlic clove, minced
1 medium fennel bulb, fronds removed, thinly sliced
1 small onion, thinly sliced
Salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
8 ounces prepared pizza dough
4 ounces buffalo mozzarella thinly sliced
4 ounces thinly sliced fennel salame (finocchiana)
1/3 cup finely grated Parmigiano cheese
Fennel pollen (optional)

Whisk 2 tablespoons oil and garlic together in a small bowl and set aside.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a 12-inch oven-proof skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium high heat. Add the fennel, onion, 1/2 teaspoon salt and the crushed red pepper flakes. Saute until the fennel and onion begin to turn golden brown at the edges, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Wipe out the skillet with a paper towel.

Heat the oven broiler. Add 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet and swirl around to coat. Roll or stretch out the dough into a 10-inch circle. Lay the dough in the skillet. Cook over medium heat until the bottom is golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip the dough and cook until the other side is golden brown. While the bottom is cooking, brush the top with some of the garlic oil. Sprinkle with a little salt. Lay the mozzarella over the dough. Arrange the salami over the cheese. Scatter the fennel and onions over the salami. Sprinkle parmigiano all over the pizza.

When the bottom of the pizza is golden brown, transfer the skillet to oven. Broil until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Remove and transfer to a cutting board. Drizzle with some of the remaining garlic oil. Sprinkle with fennel pollen, if using. Cut into wedges and serve warm.

Slow Roasted Tomato and Red Pepper Soup with Sweet Corn

corn pepper tomato soup

Posted by Lynda Balslev

The end of summer delivers bushels of vegetables, namely sweet peppers, corn, and tomatoes to my kitchen. At the same time, the wisp of fall in the air brings a craving for healthy and comforting soups layered with flavor, perfumed with smoke and char. This soup has a little of all of that. I roasted peppers and tomatoes in the oven, slowly to coax out their flavor and natural sweetness, then blitzed them with stock and aromatics. For a vegetarian version, substitute veggie stock or water for the chicken stock, and adjust seasonings accordingly. And don’t be shy about using the grill for slow roasting if you wish to keep the heat out of the kitchen. Simply grill the veggies in a grill pan over indirect high heat to achieve the same slow roasted results.

Slow Roasted Tomato and Red Pepper Soup with Sweet Corn

For a winter shortcut, one [16-ounce] can Italian plum tomatoes with juice may be substituted for the plum tomatoes; again, be sure to taste for seasoning and adjust accordingly. Serves 4.

6 ripe medium plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise
2 large red bell peppers, seeded, quartered lengthwise
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
2 to 3 cups chicken stock
Corn kernels from 1 ear of corn, 1/4 cup reserved as garnish
4 tablespoons chopped cilantro

Heat the oven to 450°F. Arrange the tomatoes and peppers, cut-sides down in an oiled baking dish. Roast until the vegetables are softened and slightly charred, about 30 minutes. Transfer the peppers to a bowl and cover. Let cool 15 minutes, then peel away the skin and coarsely chop. Peel the skin away from the tomatoes and coarsely chop.

Heat the olive oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until translucent without coloring, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes, peppers, cumin, paprika, salt, black pepper, and cayenne. Saute until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add 2 cups stock. There should be enough to cover the vegetables. If not, add more as needed. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, partially covered, 15 minutes.

Carefully transfer soup to a food processor (or use an immersion blender). Puree the soup until smooth and return to the pot. Stir in the corn and simmer 5 minutes. Ladle into bowls. Serve garnished with the reserved 1/4 cup corn and cilantro.

 

TasteTravel – Alaska: Tutka Bay Lodge and a recipe for Shrimp, Kale and Israeli Couscous

tbl_AA5D_MG_1283-325x325It would have been simpler to meditate. Instead, last summer I traveled to Alaska. More specifically, I traveled 3,000 miles on three planes of diminishing size, and one water taxi to Tutka Bay Lodge. Tutka Bay sits at the mouth of a rugged seven-mile fjord stretching into the glacier capped Kenai mountains, 125 air miles south of Anchorage. It’s not accessible by road, only by sea plane or a water taxi from Homer which multitasks as a mail and food delivery, garbage collection, and all-purpose shuttle. If you want to get away from it all, this is for you. It’s well worth the trip.

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Before you pack your compass, first aid kit, and water purification tablets, let’s be perfectly clear. This is not roughing it. This is not even glamping. This is wilderness isolation in extreme comfort. You will find yourself in a lodge, tucked into plush beds in cozy private cabins, waited upon 24/7 by an attentive staff, and dining in a first class restaurant. Sure, you are in the remote wilderness on a spit of land flanked by a rugged fjord and craggy mountains dotted with old growth Sitka spruce. Yes, that’s an ancient volcano looming in the distance, waiting ever so patiently for another opportunity to express itself. Indeed, you will be sharing your outdoor space with resident bald eagles, floating otters, and possibly an orca or two. You will also be pampered, fed and catered to in a lodge staffed with servers doubling as mountain guides, valets doubling as naturalists, and professional chefs doubling as culinary instructors in a teaching kitchen converted from a re-purposed two-story crabbing boat.

Widgeon Lynda Balslev

Tutka Cooking Class Lynda Balslev

Halibut The point is that there is something for everyone at Tutka, with the most notable activity being nothing. Because, while your every whim will be addressed and serviced, your tummy fed, your fitness itch scratched, your need for nature connected, you will find yourself in the most spectacular vignette of nowhere, amidst staggering scenery and blissful solitude. Activities are plentiful, and peace is everywhere, which yields the treasure of perspective and balance. So, whether you crave a weekend or a week to find your center, this is the the place to be. Just leave yourself a day to get there.

alaska makos taxi

Tutka kayaks Lynda Balslev
The following recipe is inspired by a delicious memory from Tutka Bay Lodge.

Shrimp Kale and Israeli Cousous
Serves 4 to 6

Alaska Shrimp Tutka

Ingredients:
Extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups Israeli cousous
2 cups chicken stock, plus 1/4 cup
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 pound large (18/20) shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails intact
1/2 teaspoon red chile flakes
1 bunch purple kale, tough ribs removed, torn into 2-inch pieces
1 garlic clove, minced

Method:
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a wide skillet over medium heat. Add the couscous and stir to coat. Cook until the couscous is light golden, 2 to 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Carefully add the 2 cups stock. Reduce heat to low, then cover and simmer until all the liquid is absorbed and the couscous is tender. Remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice and zest, paprika, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Keep warm.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper. Add the shrimp in one layer to the skillet. Cook until golden brown on both sides and cooked through, turning once. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a plate.

In the same skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil and the red chili flakes over medium heat. Add the kale and garlic and sauté until the kale leaves begin to wilt, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the 1/4 cup stock and continue to sauté until liquid evaporates, about 1 minute. Remove from heat. Season with salt.

To serve, divide the couscous between serving plates or shallow bowls. Top with the kale. Arrange the shrimp over the kale. Garnish with fresh snipped herbs such as oregano, thyme leaves and chives.
Homer View Lynda Balslev

Top 3 photos courtesy of Tutka Bay Lodge. All other photos by Lynda Balslev.

Bircher Muesli

birchermeusli 1

I had my first bircher muesli in Switzerland. Bircher Muesli is a hearty alpine favorite and a breakfast staple. No wonder: it’s a healthy, satisfying and refreshing start to any day. The technique to bircher muesli is an overnight soaking of oats, steeped in milk or yogurt. Just before serving additional ingredients such as grated apple, dried fruit and nuts are folded in. Feel free to experiment with extra ingredients and toppings such as chia seeds, pepitas, dried cranberries, and fresh berries. If you are feeling luxurious, a dollop or two of whipped cream may also be gently folded in at the end (I call this the I-am-on-holiday ingredient).

Bircher Muesli
Serves 2

1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup apple juice
1/2 cup whole milk plain yogurt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 green apple, cored and grated
1/4 cup chopped almonds
1/4 cup raisins
Shaved unsweetened coconut
Honey (optional)

Mix the oats, apple juice, yogurt and cinnamon in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight.
Before serving, stir in the grated apple, half of the raisins and almonds. If too thick, thin with additional yogurt or milk to desired consistency. (If you are on holiday, then add the whipped cream).
Serve garnished with remaining nuts, raisins and the coconut. Drizzle with a little honey if desired.

Shrimp Tostadas with Black Bean and Corn Salsa

I confess that I often find Mexican food too dense for my garden-fresh sensibilities, so when I cook Mexican-inspired food at home, I lighten it up with lots of fresh vegetables, homemade salsa and herbs. We made these tostadas the other night and served the ingredients buffet-style, so everyone could pile on the garnishes to their taste.

Shrimp Tostadas with Black Bean and Corn Salsa

Fresh summer corn cut straight from the cob is sweet and crisp – no cooking required. When cutting the corn, lay the husked cob on a cutting board and carefully slice kernels off with a chef’s knife, rotating the cob. Sweep the kernels and milk into the bowl for the salsa. Serves 4 to 6.

For the shrimp:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon Sriracha or hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound medium shrimp, shelled and deveined

For the black bean salsa:
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
Corn kernels from one ear of corn
1 small red onion, chopped
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered
1 jalapeno pepper, stemmed and seeded, finely chopped
Juice of half a lime
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 to 2 teaspoons hot sauce, to taste
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 small handful cilantro sprigs, chopped

Tostada shells
Lettuce leaves
Tomato salsa
1 avocado, sliced
Fresh cilantro sprigs
Lime wedges

Whisk 1 tablespoon olive oil, lime juice, hot sauce, cumin, salt and pepper together in a medium bowl. Add shrimp and toss to coat. Set aside.

Combine all of the salsa ingredients together in a bowl and mix well. Taste for seasoning.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in skillet over medium high heat (or prepare grill for direct cooking over medium heat). Remove shrimp from the marinade, shaking off any excess and transfer to skillet 0r grill. Cook shrimp until pink on both sides and just cooked through, turning once, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer shrimp to a bowl.

To assemble tostadas, lay a lettuce leaf over the corn shell. Spoon the black bean salsa over the lettuce. Top with 2 to 3 shrimp. Spoon tomato salsa over. Garnish with avocado slices and fresh cilantro. Squeeze a few drops of lime juice over each tostada. Serve immediately.

Watermelon, Feta and Bulgur Salad

Watermelon fetaPosted by Lynda Balslev

Watermelon is a staple in the heat of summer. Juicy, refreshing, nourishing and thirst quenching, it satisfies on many levels without filling you up. It’s served for breakfast in the Mediterranean climates and is a great addition to salads. It’s mellow sweetness is perfectly complemented by salty feta. This salad is a mini-meal with the addition of bulgur, and a perfect lunch stop on a hot summer day. It’s also a great addition to a barbecue.

Watermelon, Feta and Bulgur Salad
This recipe provides for a large salad. Feel free to halve the bulgur and use the extra ingredients to your taste. Serves 4

1 cup bulgur
Salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 small seedless watermelon, peeled, cut into 3/4 inch cubes, about 3 cups
2 handfuls sugar snap peas, stemmed, halved
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
4 ounces feta, crumbled
1/4 cup Italian parsley leaves
Freshly ground black pepper

Place the bulgur in a bowl. Add 2 cups boiling water and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cover and let stand until bulgur is tender, about 20 minutes. Drain any excess water and fluff with a fork.
Whisk the oil, lemon juice, cumin, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of the dressing to the bulgur and stir to combine. Taste and add a little more dressing if desired (the rest will be drizzled over the salad).
Transfer the bulgur to a serving platter. Scatter the watermelon, snap peas and red onion over the bulgur. Top with the feta and parsley. Drizzle with remaining dressing. Garnish with freshly ground black pepper.

Summer Reflections: Clam Chowder

Posted by Lynda Balslev 

This week I am traveling in Stockholm and its surrounding archipelago. While I’ve visited the beautiful capitol before, I have never ventured into Stockholm’s surrounding archipelago which consists of some 24,000 islands. Within an hour you can find yourself on a tiny island surrounded by nature, and feel as if you are light years from the maddening crowd. More on that later, but in the meantime, I post this from the small island of Grinda.  With the outside air cool and fresh and a fire crackling inside the Grinda Wardshus great room, I can’t help but think of Clam Chowder. Blame it on my New England roots, all right, but a bowl of chowder sings summer to me – no matter if it’s a sunny day at the beach or an afternoon cloaked in fog.

Clam Chowder
Use the smallest clams you can get your hands on, such as little necks, middle necks, or, if you are on the U.S. west coast, manila clams. Serves 4 to 6.

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1 large leek, white part only, thinly sliced
1 small celery root, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/2 pound small fingerling potatoes, cut in 1/4-inch coins
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 bay leaf
3 sprigs fresh thyme
12 manila or middle neck clams or 24 little neck clams
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the bacon and fry until the fat is nearly rendered (it will continue to render as the vegetables cook). Add the onion and leek and sauté until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the celery root and potatoes. Sauté until the vegetables being to soften, about 5 minutes.  Add the milk, cream, stock, bay leaf and thyme. Bring to a boil, then add the clams. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook until clams open, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes. Discard any unopened clam shells. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve hot garnished with fresh thyme sprigs.

Green Olive and Almond Tapenade

green olive tapenade tastefood

Posted by Lynda Balslev

This is a recipe in my Almond book. I prepared this tapenade for each of the book signings I went to, and it was very popular. And now that it’s the official start to summer, I share this recipe with you. Salty, nutty, and seriously addictive, this tapenade is a perfect summer appetizer, spooned over bread or crostini. It’s also a great condiment, sprinkled over pizzas, salads or grilled fish. If you can, enjoy it with a glass of dry rosé for a heavenly pairing.

Green Olive and Almond Tapenade
from Almonds – Recipes, History, Culture (Gibbs Smith 2014)

Makes about 2 1/2 cups

1/2 cup raw almonds, toasted
2 cups pitted green olives
3 anchovies in oil, drained
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Place the almonds in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times to coarsely chop. Add the remaining ingredients and process to a coarse paste. Refrigerate for at least one hour to allow the flavors to develop. The tapenade may be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.