Monday, August 27, 2012

Miso Hungry! Miso Grilled Vegetables


Fermented soybean paste…hungry yet? Maybe the description of miso (pronounced “me so”) doesn’t make your mouth water, but anything it is added to will! Miso is a common ingredient in Japanese cooking, often used to make miso soup, a breakfast staple.

Adding miso to a sauce, broth or soup provides a rich, salty, maybe even earthy “umami” flavor. It’s the consistency and often the color of peanut butter, but can also be dark reddish-brown. Very little is needed to make a bold statement, in fact, adding too much will result in an over-salted disaster (take my word for it- I learned this the hard way). Since a little goes a long way, I had some in my refrig begging to be used again.  I came across this Miso Grilled Vegetables recipe in the August issue of Cooking Light that I could not wait to try with the bounty of summer vegetables I purchased. 

The flavor was a-maz-ing! I’m guessing the grilling sort of caramelized the summer veggies and I don’t have to tell you how terrific any salty-sweet combination is!

Just a little side note…I don’t think my pics here do the dish justice.  It really tasted way better than my pics suggest. The good news is, I am in the process of reading an awesome photography tips book AND I signed up for a photography class that will take place in a couple of weeks.  More on that later…

Miso Grilled Vegetables (adapted from Aug 2012 issue of Cooking Light magazine)
Whisk to combine: 2 Tbsp white miso, 1 Tbsp lukewarm water and 3 Tbsp olive oil
Toss in miso mixture to coat: 1 zucchini cut into ¼ inch circles, 1 small peeled eggplant cut into ¼ inch slices, 2 bell peppers cut into 6 pieces each, 1 small onion, cut into wedges.
Grill: on a oil-coated rack for about 4-6 minutes.


Until next time…
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Monday, August 20, 2012

Gettin' Figgy Wit' It: Fresh Fig and Arugula Salad with Gorgonzola and Pecans

This past week has been a bit of a sad one. After many years, the farmers market where I have been employed finally closed its doors. I will miss the many customers that were committed to the local food movement by purchasing products made in our area, especially those that participated in our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. I will miss working with and getting to know the growers and producers that we did business with. And I will sorely miss the convenience of shopping for local products at my workplace.

One of the last items I grabbed from the farmers market was a box of fresh figs from Ivan, a local grower from Dittmer Missouri. Fresh figs are such a delicacy, emphasis on the delica(te). They only keep for a day or two, so they need to be eaten right away. Figs are nutritious- a good source of fiber, potassium, B6 and manganese, and just plain delicious.
The second I got home, I started to think about what I wanted to make with them. I decided on a Fresh Fig and Arugula Salad with Gorgonzola and Pecans, mainly because I already had the majority of the ingredients (thanks hubby for picking up the Gorgonzola!). The handmade dressing was a cinch to make, with local honey, white balsamic vinegar and olive oil. The essential topping was a bit of course black pepper and fresh thyme.

As far as losing my job…some say that when a door closes another one opens. I can’t wait to get a peek at what’s behind that door.

Fresh Fig and Arugula Salad with Gorgonzola and Pecans
Assemble the salad: 6 fresh figs, quartered, 2 handfuls arugula, ½ cup crumbled gorgonzola and ¼ cup pecan halves
Make the dressing: mix equal parts honey, white balsamic vinegar (I used pear-infused but regular would be terrific too) and olive oil
Top salad with: 1 teaspoon fresh chopped thyme and black pepper to taste

 until next time...
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Monday, August 13, 2012

Kitchen Sink Approach to Cooking


When I was younger, my mom and I would often go into the kitchen, grab a few this-and-that ingredients that were begging to be used in the refrigerator, and pair the items with a few pantry staples that we always had on hand. A sprinkle or two of fresh herbs and seasonings and voila!...leftover ingredients transformed into something terrific. At times we would joke that someday we would have a cooking show called the “Kitchen Sink” where we would make an unexpected meal out of a handful of odds and ends ingredients.

These days, I continue to play imaginary cooking show host in my own kitchen, still throwing together “kitchen sink dinners”. It’s a way to serve leftovers without the family knowing they are leftovers (I’m not sure about your family, but leftovers do not go over well in this house). It is also a way to be creative and think about what might pair well. And it’s a way to relax with cooking, knowing that following a recipe is not always necessary.

So here was this week’s leftover lowdown: red onion, corn on cob (Theis Farm), half of a fresh tomato (Eilerman Brothers Orchard, Batchtown, IL), cilantro and parsley, a half of a lime and a small bit of cooked pork tenderloin.

The pantry staples I decided to use: canned black beans, tortillas, salsa and garlic. A simple sauté of the garlic and red onion, toss in the pork, black beans and corn to warm up. At the last minute, throw in the tomatoes, squeeze with lime juice, top with cilantro/parsley and roll into a tortilla...
And dinner is served. A simple, fresh, clean dinner, using up what we already had on hand, all coming together to make one great "kitchen sink" creation.

Question: What would you have done with the same leftover ingredients?

until next time...
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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Summer Grillin' and Chillin': Lemon and Sage Grilled Chicken Breasts

Maybe it’s my way of living on the edge…when entertaining guests, I love to try recipes that I have never tried before. To me, it’s a gamble worth taking. If the dish turns out, I feel great and am happy to share with our guests. If it doesn’t turn out, well, take-out is always a phone call away.

This past weekend, we shared time with my sis- and bro-in-law and their two little girls. We had a great time catching up and being lazy by the pool (ok, only the adults were lazy). Before dinner, we hung out on the deck sipping adult beverages while the guys grilled. It was certainly a perfect way to spend a hot summer weekend.

So, the new recipe I had never tried before: Lemon and Sage Grilled Chicken Breasts.  I know, not really much of a gamble. Anyone can tell by the ingredients it would turn out great…which it did…sorry pizza delivery guy, maybe next time.

Lemon and Sage Grilled Chicken Breasts 

grated lemon rind of 1 fresh lemon
juice of 1 fresh lemon
1/3 cup white wine
¼ cup minced fresh sage leaves (locally grown on my deck)
1 Tbsp olive oil (Olea Estates)
1 tsp paprika
¼ tsp fresh black pepper
2 garlic cloves minced (Rocky Valley, Macomb, MO)
½ tsp salt
1 pound chicken breasts

1. Combine 1st nine ingredients in a mixing bowl. Whisk to combine.
2. Pour into a zip-top bag; add chicken, marinate in refrigerator at least an hour.
3. Remove chicken from bag, discard marinade.
4. Grill over direct heat for 15 minutes then over indirect heat for 10 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads 165 degrees.
until next time...
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