5 Veggie Sides for a Grill Party

Memorial Day weekend is all about the grill, but it doesn’t have to be all about the meat. Here are a bunch of side dishes to round out your party and ensure that you and your friends eat their vegetables.

broccoli rabe tastefoodGrilled Broccoli Rabe
Char, garlic and red chili flakes transform this bitter-leaning crucifer into a delicious side dish.

pepper potatoes tastefood

No -Mayo Peppery Potato Salad
Hard to believe there’s no mayonnaise in this creamy salad, chock-a-block full of peppers, chiles and onion.

Corn Tomato SaladCorn and Tomato Salad
This classic summer salad is sweet, juicy and fresh with the kick of poblano chiles and crisp red onion.

mustard blue potato tastefoodBlue Potato and Mustard Salad
Another no-mayo potato salad, napped with olive oil and spiked with fresh mustard leaves. Use blue potatoes if you can find them for color value. Otherwise, yellow potatoes will work too.

fattoush salad tastefoodFattoush Salad
A fresh and satisfying Middle Eastern salad fragrant with mint and coriander, composed of crisp greens, crumbled feta and grilled pita bread.

Get Your Grill On: 5 Recipes for Memorial Day Grilling

pomegranate chicken skewer tastefood
Pomegranate Chicken Skewers with Yogurt, Mint, and Pistachios

Chipotle Ribs TasteFood
Smoky Chipotle Glazed Ribs


Grilled Shrimp Tostadas

BLT salad view

BLT Salad with Avocado and Grilled Croutons

jerk chicken

Jamaican Jerk Chicken

Clam Chowder

Memorial Day is fast approaching – the sunny holiday which ushers in the summer season, lots of grilling, time at the seashore, and – for me – clam chowder. Blame it on my New England roots, but slurping down a bowl of steaming hot, buttery rich chowder is right up there with building sand castles and smearing on sunscreen when I think of summer. Chowders are actually quite easy to make, a simple concoction of milk and cream, potatoes, and clams. If you are not feeling the clams, you can add firm fleshed fish such as salmon and halibut and call it a fish chowder. The key is to get a smoky base to the soup with bacon (or in fish chowders, I’ll add warm-smoked salmon), and a little thickness with a roux (which is simply a little flour mixed into the fat from the bacon) and have fun with your vegetables. Potatoes and onion are standard, and I often add leeks or mild root vegetables, such as celery root, or even spinach. When you are selecting clams be sure to choose the smallest you can get your hands on, such as little necks, middle necks, or, if you are on the U.S. west coast, manila clams.

Clam Chowder
Serves 4

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

Fry the bacon in the oil in a large pot over medium heat until the fat is nearly rendered. Add the onion and leek and sauté until softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Sprinkle the flour into the pot, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until very lightly colored, stirring constantly. Whisk in 1 cup of the stock, stirring to blend the flour. Add the remaining stock, the potatoes, milk, cream, bay leaf, and thyme. Bring to a simmer, partially cover and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Add the clams, partially cover the pot and simmer over medium heat until the clams open, stirring occasionally, 6 to 8 minutes. Discard any unopened clam shells. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve hot garnished with fresh thyme.

Baking Favorites: Lemon Shortbread Bars

lemon sea salt bars tastefood

If I had to name a favorite baking ingredient, it would be a lemon, and, in my opinion, the best way to show off its citrusy sweet-tart flavor is a lemon bar. These tiny (or not so tiny) squares are all about the citrus. A buttery shortbread crust anchors a squidgy thick wedge of puckery filling, simply topped with dusting of sugar. A pinch of sea salt is a nice finishing touch, balancing the sweetness and letting the lemon shine through. These bars are thoroughly addictive and guaranteed to brighten your day. One bar will never be enough.

Lemon Bars with Sea Salt

This recipe is adapted from and inspired by many sources, including Ina Garten, Food52,  and my personal weakness for lemon – and sea salt. Makes 32 (2-inch) square bars.

Shortbread:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup unsalted butter, slightly softened but still cool, cut into cubes

Filling:
4 large eggs
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Garnish:
Confectioners sugar
Sea salt flakes, such as Maldon

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan, then line the pan with parchment and butter the parchment.
2. Combine the shortbread ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix until the dough resembles coarse lumps and just begins to come together. Dump the dough into the prepared pan and, with your fingers, evenly press the dough to cover the bottom of the pan.
3. Bake the crust until it just begins to turn golden, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven, but do not turn off the oven heat.
4. Whisk the filling ingredients together in a large bowl until blended, then evenly pour over the crust. Return the pan to the oven and bake until the filling is set but not coloring, about 25 minutes. Remove and cool completely on a rack.
5. Cut into bars. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and lightly sprinkle with sea salt flakes before serving.

Sweet and Sour Pomegranate Lacquered Ribs

Pomegranate Ribs TasteFood
It’s the end of April and the start to the weekend, so now is a great time to dust off your grill – and here is a recipe to get started. I make these lacquered ribs with a glaze which includes pomegranate molasses, a rich reduction of pomegranate juice and sugar. It’s slightly sweet, slightly tart, with a slick consistency that’s great in marinades, dressings, and sauces. Pomegranate molasses is a staple in Middle Eastern cuisine, but it’s readily available here in the U.S. You’ll likely find it in specialty stores or the international section of your supermarket.
So go on and get grilling!

Sweet and Sour Pomegranate Lacquered Ribs
Serves 4 to 6

Rub:
2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne

2 racks baby back pork ribs

Sauce:
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup pomegranate molasses
1/4 cup organic ketchup
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons Sriracha
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh peeled ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Combine the rub ingredients in a small bowl. Evenly coat the ribs with the rub. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes (or cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before grilling.)
2. Combine the sauce ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer over low heat to meld the flavors, 10 to 15 minutes.
3. Prepare the grill for indirect cooking over low heat (about 275° on a gas grill).
4. Grill the ribs over indirect low heat until the meat is tender, 2 1/2 to 3 hours, turning and lightly basting with the sauce every hour or so.
5. Increase the grill heat to medium-high. Baste the ribs with the sauce and grill over direct heat until slightly charred and crisp, turning as needed, 8 to 10 minutes.
6. Serve with the remaining sauce for dipping.

Video – How to Roast Garlic and 4 easy recipes with Roasted Garlic #NationalGarlicDay

garlic 111
There’s no doubt that April 19th has been circled in your calendar for weeks now, but, just in case, here’s a reminder that the date is … National Garlic Day! Yep, that knobby papery bulb we all know so well – the culinary workhorse which has played a fragrant role in our cuisines for millennia, called out as a superfood-wonder-drug thanks to its medicinal properties, has been awarded its own national day of observance! And why not?

If you follow this blog, you know I am a big fan of garlic (and you must be too, if you make my recipes). A little clove adds just the right amount of kick to sauces, dressings, marinades (you get the picture), while a generous press will knock your socks off in robust and spicy meals (best shared with those you plan on spending close time with – after all, garlic isn’t called the ‘stinking rose’ for nothing!)

In fact, garlic’s raw pungency can be tough to take for some (and their partners), so a great method to cook garlic is to roast it. Roasting transforms its cloves into sticky-soft and slightly caramelized versions of themselves, mellowing their sharpness with creamy, buttery and other-worldly results. There are endless ways to use roasted garlic, so I’ll roast several heads at once and store the puree in the refrigerator, dipping into my stash throughout the week to whisk into dressings, sauces, marinades, risottos – the list goes on –  or use as a spread on pizza and crostini.

So are you ready to learn how to roast garlic?  It’s very simple, and in this post I’ve teamed up with my talented videographer friends at Food Guru to make a fun short video that shows you how to do it, along with 4 easy recipes where you can use it. The written recipes follow below – enjoy!

Roasted Garlic Recipe
One large garlic head yields about 1/4 cup roasted garlic. The garlic can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. 
 
1 large garlic head (or more)
Extra-virgin olive oil
Pinch of sea salt

Slice 1/4 inch off the top of the garlic bulb. Place the bulb on a piece of foil. Drizzle oil over the top of the garlic. Enclose the garlic in the foil. Place in a small baking dish and roast until soft, 50 to 60 minutes. Remove, unwrap and cool to the touch. Squeeze out the garlic into a bowl and mash with a fork.

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Black Lentil Salad with Asparagus and Egg

black lentils bowl tastefood

Asparagus and egg pair well together – especially in the spring. In this hearty salad, they team up with black lentils. These shiny pellets are nicknamed Beluga lentils because of their resemblance to caviar. Black lentils remain firm when cooked, which makes them a great addition to salads, and their inky dark color provides vivid contrast to bright vegetables. Like brown or green lentils, black lentils are a superb source of iron, fiber, protein, folate and magnesium. Plus, they are easy on the wallet. Not bad for a little legume.

black lentils salad tastefood

Black Lentil Salad with Asparagus, Kale, Egg

For a larger salad, arrange the lentils on a bed of mixed greens or arugula.
Serves 3 to 4 as a side dish.

1 1/4 cups black lentils
3 cups water
Salt
6 to 8 thin asparagus
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 spring onions, white and pale green parts thinly sliced
2 hard boiled egg yolks, crumbled
1 red jalapeno pepper, minced
1 1/2 cups shredded kale
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup cilantro

1. Rinse and pick over the lentils to make sure there are no small stones. Combine the lentils and water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low, partially cover and simmer until the lentils are tender but still firm, about 25 minutes. Drain, transfer to a large bowl and cool to room temperature.
2. While the lentils are cooking, blanch the asparagus. Bring a wide pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add the asparagus and cook until bright green and crisp tender, about 1 minute. Drain and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process. Cut off and reserve the tips, and slice the stalks into 1/2-inch pieces.
3. Whisk the garlic, oil, lemon juice, mustard, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and the black pepper in a small bowl. Pour over the lentils and toss to coat. Add the asparagus tips and stalks, the spring onions, 1 crumbled egg yolk, the jalapeno, kale, parsley and cilantro. Gently stir to combine. Taste for seasoning – you might need more salt. If the salad is too dry at this point, drizzle with a little extra oil.
4. Transfer the salad to a platter or divide among serving plates. Garnish with the remaining crumbled egg yolk and serve.

Strawberry Rhubarb Parfaits with Almond-Quinoa Streusel

Rhubarb trifles quinoaTrifles and parfaits are a great way to show off the season’s best fruit. I like to assemble them in little glasses, so the layers are visible and the servings aren’t too large. They can be as simple as fruit and cream, but I often add a little crunchy texture, such as crumbled meringue or a sprinkle of streusel. In this recipe, I’ve made an almond and toasted quinoa streusel. The nuttiness of the quinoa is a great match for the tart rhubarb.

Strawberry Rhubarb Parfaits with Almond-Quinoa Streusel

This recipe makes about 6 large servings or 12 small servings, depending on the size of your glasses.

Rhubarb Compote:
1 1/2 pounds rhubarb, ends trimmed, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2/3 cup sugar, or to taste
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
Pinch of ground cinnamon

Almond-Quinoa Streusel:
1/2 cup red quinoa, rinsed
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup shaved coconut
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt

Whipped Cream:
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 pound fresh strawberries, quartered

Make the compote:
Combine all of the ingredients in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the sugar dissolves and the rhubarb releases its juices. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the rhubarb softens and the compote is slightly thickened, about 20 minutes. Cool and refrigerate until use.

Make the streusel:
Preheat the oven to 300°F. Toast the quinoa in an ovenproof skillet over medium heat for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and stir in the almonds and coconut.
Whisk the syrup, oil, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt in a small bowl. Pour over the quinoa and stir to combine. Spread the streusel in the pan and transfer to the oven. Bake until deep golden brown, about 25 minutes. Remove and cool.

Whip the cream:
Combine the cream, sugar, and vanilla ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on high speed until soft peaks form.

Assemble:
Spoon a layer of rhubarb into serving glasses. Top with cream. Add a layer of strawberries over the cream and top with more cream. Garnish with the streusel. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 1 hour before serving.

 

Feast with Friends #CooknScribble #Foodstories

What happens when a community of food writers gathers together under one roof? Well, they cook, they write, and they eat. Last week, under the literary and culinary auspices of CooknScribble, a virtual tribe of writers, storytellers, documentarians, and artists, united by their passion for food, gathered in Venice Beach to do what they do best: cook, share, teach, and, of course, eat. Very well.

cook menu

This was easily achieved. Chef Kian Lam Kho, Chinese chef extraordinaire,  cooked up an Asian feast, with delectable recipes from his IACP award winning cookbook Phoenix Claws and Jade Trees: Essential Techniques of Authentic Cooking, along with a little inspiration from Shannon Kinsella, chef, writer and Culinary Development Manager of Gourmet Gardens. We were in for a treat.

cook chef

cook book kim
While Kian displayed his cooking techniques and knife skills (as he masterfully prepared a meal for 20), content soothsayers Libbie Summers, Irvin Lin, Amy Halloran, and Leah Komaiko were on hand to give realtime video, photo, styling, interviewing, and branding tips. Meanwhile, the kitchen sizzled and grew steamy and fragrant.

IMG_2353

cook devourPatience was a necessity. As the massive wok heated up, the intoxicating aromas of ginger, lemongrass, chile, and garlic, transmuted into a swirling dervish of scent and steam, ramping up hunger and dissolving self restraint. To pass the time and deter the urge to scarf down Kian’s mise en place, we got busy practicing our styling and photo skills with products supplied by Gourmet Gardens, Elevate Organics, and Kerrygold.

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Easter Brunch: Asparagus, Prosciutto, Egg Mimosa Salad

Asparagus salad tastefood

Have you been tasked with bringing a spring-y platter of food to feed a crowd for Easter brunch this weekend? I made this sunny salad for an Easter brunch last year. It’s a lovely way to serve asparagus; and prosciutto; and egg. There is not much else you need to add to this trio except a few squirts of fresh lemon and a splash of olive oil to coat and glisten. If you can get your hands on a bunch of baby greens, then use them as a bed for the asparagus to absorb the oil and lemony goodness. And if you have a few baby herbs unfurling their leaves in your garden, by all means, add them to the plate.

Roasted Asparagus Salad with Crispy Prosciutto and Egg
Serves 6 to 8

1 pound asparagus, woody ends trimmed
Extra-virgin olive oil
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 ounces prosciutto
2 hard cooked eggs
4 ounces mixed baby greens (such as kale, arugula, mizuna, spinach)

Heat the oven to 375°F. Spread the asparagus on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle a little olive oil over the asparagus and turn to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven until the asparagus are bright green and crisp tender, 10 to 12 minutes, depending on the thickness of the stalks. They should be crisp tender and not too floppy (unless you like them that way; then cook a bit longer). Remove from the oven and transfer to a plate to cool. Keep the oven on.

Arrange the prosciutto on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Bake in the oven until shriveled and firm to the touch, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool to the touch. The prosciutto will continue to harden as it cools. When cool enough to handle, break into shards.

Spread the greens on a serving platter. Arrange the asparagus over the greens. Squeeze the juice of the lemon over the asparagus and greens and drizzle with a little oil. Grate the eggs over the asparagus, then sprinkle the prosciutto shards over the salad. Garnish with fresh black pepper. If you have any fresh herbs in the garden, such as parsley, chervil or mint, feel free to tear a few leaves and scatter over the salad as well.