Monday, December 31, 2012

To a Happy, Healthy Food Year

As I sit here drinking my last green smoothie of the year I raise my glass to everyone who's taken the time to prepare food for themselves, their families and their friends. There really is no better way to bring people together or to restore your health and well-being. Preparing whole foods that sustain and nourish us is an honorable endeavor, and one that I hope we continue to share into the new year.

My Farewell to 2012 Green Smoothie
1 large ripe pear (cored)
2 stalks of celery (ends removed)
1 small english cucumber (ends removed)
1/2 ripe avocado (scooped out of the skin)
Two leaves of kale
4-6 stalks of parsley
1 lime (peeled)
1 handful of raw cashews
2 healthy pinches of unsweetened coconut
1 cup of orange juice
1 handful of ice

Place all ingredients (I use organic fruits and vegetables) into your blender ( I use the Vitamix) and begin blending on low speed. As the smoothie comes together switch to high speed and blend until it's smooth and creamy. Now sit back, relax and allow your digestive system to wake up to this wholesome goodness. This healthy morning ritual also sets the tone for what you'll eat for the rest of the day.  Once you give your body good food, it will always crave more.

Visit my recipes page and scroll down to the Smoothies section for a little inspiration. I also invite you to explore my soup, whole grain and vegetarian recipes as you start planning menus for the new year. 

For a daily dose of smoothie inspiration you might want to subscribe to the Healthy Blender Recipes website or follow them on Facebook

Wishing you a happy, healthy new year.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Giving Thanks

While all holidays have food traditions associated with them, Thanksgiving is almost entirely focused on the meal. No gifts to buy, or baskets to fill... perhaps a football game or parade to attend, but it's mostly about gathering together with the people we love to celebrate all that we're grateful for and all that we cherish.

I'm grateful to live on Cape Cod, a place filled with natural beauty and kind people. Having lived here for most of my life, I've made many close friends and I'm blessed with family who live close by. So whether you choose to share the day with family, friends, or perhaps you'll serve others, here are a few links that might help with your preparations. 

Wishing you a very happy Thanksgiving

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Winter Squash Soup with Rosemary Cashews

It's fall so I'm here to sing the praises of Kabocha (also called Buttercup) once again. Some of you may recall earlier posts extolling the virtues of this pumpkin-like hard squash that originates in Japan, and for new visitors you can take a look here:

For this recipe I combined Kabocha with butternut squash and the results exceeded my expectations.

Kabocha's flesh color resembles that of the butternut squash, but the texture is a bit drier and similar to a chestnut. That texture, combined with its sweet flavor, makes for velvety smooth pureed soup when paired with the juicier butternut. It's hearty, satisfying and could be the perfect starter for your Thanksgiving dinner. Gather around the fireplace with family and friends, serve up a steaming cup of this tasty soup, and reflect on all that you're grateful for as we head into the holiday season.

Kabocha Winter Squash Soup with Roasted Rosemary Cashews
Serves 6-8
1 medium sized Kabocha squash
1 small butternut squash
4 shallots, sliced thinly
5 slices of fresh ginger
2 oranges, peeled and quartered
Pinch of sea salt
Pinch of pepper
2 cups/500 ml vegetable stock
1/2 cup/125 ml of almond milk

Quarter the squashes and remove the seeds. Place in a baking dish or cast iron skillet, drizzle with a little olive oil, cover with foil and bake in a 375 degree oven for about 90 minutes. They're done when you can easily pierce them with a fork.  Cool, remove the flesh from the skin, and place in a blender (I use the Vitamix). Add a little water to the baking dish and deglaze the pan. Add these pan juices to the blender for added flavor.

Saute the shallots in olive oil, or a few pats of butter, until they just start to brown. Add shallots, ginger, oranges, salt, pepper, vegetable stock and almond milk to the blender. Begin on low speed and slowly increase the speed to high, blending for about 1 minute, or until your soup is smooth and creamy. If the mixture is too thick just add a little more stock. Use the tamper with Vitamix to combine your ingredients, or turn off the blender and mix with a spoon then resume blending.

Roasted Rosemary Cashews
1/2 cup/72g raw cashews
Olive Oil
Pinch of sea salt
1 teaspoon of finely chopped rosemary

Lightly coat the nuts with olive oil, add the salt and rosemary, then roast in a 375 degree oven until they start to brown. Once cooled, set a few whole cashews aside and coarsely chop the rest to use a garnish.

Heat the blended soup in a sauce pan until it just reaches a boil. Pour into a bowl and sprinkle each serving with chopped cashews, two whole cashews and a sprig of rosemary.

Transform this sweet, creamy goodness into a meal by adding a side salad. I served it with arugula, green apples, Kalamata olives and crumbled goat cheese all lightly dressed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Red Quinoa in a Butternut Squash Bowl

Gather round my vegetarian, vegan and squash loving friends as this one is delish! I love quinoa and up until now I'd only eaten the white variety. Eden is my go to brand and I recently discovered their red quinoaso I decided to give it a try. It seems to hold its shape a bit better once cooked, and it might just be a tad nuttier in flavor. It's also a nice color contrast with the fall squashes. Since I was seriously into making applesauce and had no plans to run to the store, I had to use what was on hand for this meal. I came up with a butternut squash, three sweet red peppers and a Vidalia onion. 

Cut and remove the seeds from the squash, drizzle with a little olive oil and bake them in a 350 degree oven, covered, for about an hour. They're done when you can easily pierce them with a fork. Bring two cups of water to a boil, add a cup of red quinoa and a pinch of salt. Cook over medium heat until all the water is absorbed (15-20 minutes).  Slice 3 small sweet red peppers and 1/2 of a sweet onion (cut into thin crescents). Saute both in olive oil until they're soft and just start turning brown.

Place each squash in a shallow bowl and fill the cavity with quinoa. Add the sautéed peppers and onions and toss some rosemary roasted cashews over the top. Sprinkle a little tamari and rice wine vinegar. Serve with a side of lightly dressed greens. I chose arugula  dressed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The combination of flavors is amazing, and it's a very satisfying meal. I think even a carnivore would enjoy this one.

Oh, and if you have a vegetarian or vegan guest coming for Thanksgiving this might be an option.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Pizza Barbone in Hyannis, MA

After a sunny, crisp autumn day paying homage to the delectable bivalve that stands front and center at the Wellfleet Oyster Festival, we stopped at this little gem of a restaurant on Main Street in Hyannis. Following up an afternoon of slurping briny oysters with pizza actually works, and especially when the pizza is really good.

We ordered a white pizza (Bianca Verde) and the meatball pizza, which normally I would shy away from as I make my own and think homemade is better, but I was pleasantly surprised. Their meatballs are delicious, the sauce is freshly made, the crust is chewy and the pizza's not overly salted; allowing you to savor the taste of each ingredient.

We sat at the bar which gives you a bird's-eye view of the pizza creation process. Our young pizza chef could really spin the dough and get a look at that oven. It's impressive!

The wood fired oven was made in Naples, Italy by Stefano Ferrara and shipped to its home here on Cape Cod. We met the owner, Jason O'Toole, whose commitment to quality and service is evident in everything he does. The dining room and kitchen are sparkling clean, he's committed to using fresh local ingredients and the staff is friendly and knowledgable. The menu also features salads, bruschetta, meat and cheese plates and a few daily specials like leg of lamb and freshly made pasta. They serve beer and wine.

It felt like a little slice of Italy to me, so when you're in Hyannis stop in and try it, I think you'll like it.

Pizza Barbone
390 Main Street
Hyannis, MA  02601

Thursday, October 11, 2012

October Unprocessed: Making Good Fast Food

There's fast food and there's good fast food and you don't have to spend hours in the kitchen to put out a delicious, healthful meal. I've committed to the October Unprocessed food challenge because it's a cause I believe in, and one that I try to live by on a daily basis, but I'm not perfect, so this commitment acts as a gentle reminder of how important real food is to our health and well-being.

Today's supermarkets are stocked with a vast selection of organic veggies, grass-fed meats and wild fish, but there's one finite resource for many of us and it's time. Trying to balance work, family and other responsibilities often leaves us reaching for something quick and easy for dinner, and it's not always the healthiest choice. So when I'm feeling the time crunch I cook up a batch of quinoatake a look at what vegetables I have on hand, or pick a few up at the store, and prepare one of my one bowl wonders. From start to finish it takes about 30 minutes, and even less time if you're using leftover roasted vegetables as I did with this version below.

Start by cooking a batch of quinoa. It's an easy ratio of 2:1. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil and add a cup of quinoa and a pinch of salt. Cover and simmer until all the liquid is absorbed. It takes about 15-20 minutes. When it's finished remove from the heat and set it aside, covered, while you cook your veggies. For the first one pictured I sautéed peppers, carrots and peas in about a tablespoon of olive oil until tender, then added some chopped collard greens and cooked it for another 3-4 minutes. Serve the veggies over the quinoa, add the roasted nuts and sprinkle with a little tamari sauce and rice vinegar.  

Roasted Nuts with Rosemary
Almonds or Cashew
Olive Oil
Pinch of sea salt
Finely chopped rosemary (1 tsp for each 9oz or 225g of nuts)

Lightly coat the nuts of your choice with olive oil. Add the rosemary and salt and mix well. Roast in a 375 degree oven until the nuts begin to brown. Sprinkle a handful over your veggies. They add flavor and a nice crunch to the dish. They're also great as a little nibble at a dinner party.

If you happen to have leftover roasted veggies, or feel like roasting some, use those instead of the sautéed version. This is a good way to use up what's hanging around in your vegetable bin. The other day I roasted broccoli, cauliflower and carrots. I also peeled and sliced the broccoli stems and roasted them, too. They're delicious and so good for you. Get creative, substitute your favorite vegetables and switch up your greens. Bake a sweet potato, mash it and add it to the quinoa.  The possibilities are endless.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Artichoke Extraordinaire

Why such a grand name? It's all in the sauce actually. I steamed up two beautiful artichokes the other night, which I've done on numerous occasions, but this time I did something a little special with the broth. Using it as a base, I created a pretty delicious, heck let's just say extraordinary, sauce. 

Start by trimming the stem and pointy ends of the leaves so they'll sit nicely in a pan, and you won't get stabbed when you eat them. Add a couple inches of water to a heavy sauce pan, pour in a tablespoon of good olive oil and a teaspoon of salt. Add the artichokes and bring to a boil. Cover the pan and turn to low (so they maintain a slow boil) and cook until the leaves pull out easily (approximately 50 minutes). Remove the artichokes and cover to keep them warm.  Remove any leaves that may be floating in the water.  Drain the liquid until there's a 1/2 inch remaining in the bottom of the pan. Add 1 tablespoon of butter and a teaspoon of olive oil. Cook over medium heat until this reduces by half. Add another tablespoon of butter and cook it slowly so the sauce just starts to thicken a bit.

Pour  over the steamed artichoke, then give them a good healthy squeeze of fresh lemon and sprinkle with your favorite grated cheese. I used Pecorino Romano. Dive in and enjoy! This butter and lemon sauce is infused with artichoke flavor and would also be great over pasta. You could pour it over cappellini and just plop that artichoke on top. After you've eaten the leaves and cleaned off the artichoke bottom, smash it up and mix it into the pasta.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

My Morning Mocktail

I haven't taken to having a cocktail at the crack of dawn, but when I poured this morning's smoothie into a glass it looked like one, so here's a peek at my morning mocktail. As we continue to explore fruit and vegetable combinations using the Vitamix, I've found that adding a little avocado produces a rich, creamy consistency. Plus, avocados are a nutrient-dense food that contain many essential vitamins needed to maintain optimum health. Visit to learn more. 

Starting the day with this blast of fresh, wholesome goodness really agrees with us. My daughter requests them every morning, and she's open to whatever combination I put in front of her, but this didn't happen overnight. We started with fruit smoothies and transitioned over to the fruit and vegetable combinations. Ally grew up eating fresh whole foods which definitely gives us an advantage, however, I've met kids who've grown up on a processed food diet that are willing to trying new things. It's takes a little bit of time and some experimentation, but the results are well worth it. Recently I've noticed an awareness developing amongst her friends about the connection between diet and good health, so I'll happily do everything I can to support that interest as our well being depends on it.

My Morning Mocktail
Yields: Approximately 1 Quart/ 1000ml

1 ripe pear, quartered and cored
1 green apple, quartered and cored
4 leaves of kale
3 slices of fresh ginger
1/2 ripe avocado
1/2 bag Cascadian Harvest Berries
1 small english cucumber or 1/3 of a large one
1 orange, peeled, or 1 cup of orange juice
1 lime, peeled
1 handful of fresh cranberries
1 handful of almonds
1 healthy pinch of sesame seeds
1 healthy pinch of unsweetened coconut
1 cup of water
1 handful of ice

I prefer using all organic fruits and vegetables. Place all ingredients in the Vitamix and begin blending on variable (this is the toggle switch that controls the blending speed) and turn the speed dial to 3 or 4. Once the ingredients come together switch to high speed and increase the speed dial to 7 or 8. Blend until smooth and creamy. If you're using a regular blender start out slowly and once the ingredients come together turn to high, then blend until smooth. Here's to a happy, healthy start to your day. Raise your glass and let's toast to good health!

Note: If you like your smoothie a bit thinner just add another cup of water before mixing.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Big Apple Crisp

It's that time of year when my friend shows up with Macoun apples from The Big Apple in Wrentham, MA. For now we just eat them daily, savoring every tart, tangy and crispy bite, but in a few weeks Lee and I will be making our annual boatload of applesauce.

So as is our tradition when the first batch of Macouns arrives, I make an apple crisp. This particular version is on the healthy side and it's gluten-free. So if you're looking for something delicious, but a bit less sweet, then give it a try.

The Big Apple Crisp
Serves 4

4 Macoun apples, peeled and sliced
2 ripe pears, peeled and sliced
2 tablespoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
4-5 pats of butter (optional)
1 cup of vanilla almond granola or your favorite brand

Place the apples and pears in a bowl, add the syrup, cinnamon, vanilla, almond extract, and mix well. Transfer to a baking dish and distribute the pats of butter on the top. Cover with the granola. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 50 minutes, or until the apples are soft and bubbly. Halfway through the cooking process push the granola into the cooked apples to absorb some of the juice. This will crisp up the topping a bit more.

Allow the crisp to cool a bit before eating so you can enjoy the taste of the almond and vanilla flavorings. Happy Fall!

Note: If you love almonds like I do, then go ahead and throw a handful in with the apples for a bit of extra crunch.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Island Creek Oyster Bar

I've been twice now with my nephew, Nicholas. It's his Sunday night haunt and actually I couldn't think of a better place to usher out the weekend when you're in town. Boston's Island Creek Oyster Bar is located at the Hotel Commonwealth in Kenmore Square. This candlelit bar and restaurant bears the same name as the delicious oyster that's farmed in Duxbury, Massachusetts. Skip Bennett started his oyster farm with a dream to "grow the world's finest oysters and have the best possible time doing it" and lucky for us he teamed up with Jeremy Sewall and Garrett Harker to open this restaurant which adheres to that same mission. They work closely with purveyors to find the best oysters and freshest seafood that's available daily. They also feature top quality meat entrees for those who prefer eating from the land. The staff is knowledgeable about every aspect of the menu and will guide you through your selections to ensure you have an superb dining experience. 

It's a hip, rustic decor with a slew of candles gracing the tables and the bar. We ate at the bar which is what you do when you're hanging out with Nicholas. Sunday night is especially nice as the place is full, yet not crazy crowded like a weekend night. We started with a dozen of a newly featured Island Creek oyster called Tumblers. They're a bit smaller than the original and Nicholas tells me, "they grow them on a line that constantly rotates, very slowly, making them tumble over each other as the line turns". I don't begin to know the science behind it, but I can tell you that this process produces one sweet, briny delicious oyster. While I encourage you to try a selection of the oysters they feature on their menu, don't forget to include these little gems.

We shared a prawn entree (it was a special that evening) and roasted corn. Next it was on to the appetizers which seems kind of backwards, but it worked. The Crispy IC Oyster Slider was so good I could have eaten a half dozen, but I needed to save room for the Pan Fried Jonah Crab Cake which was outstanding. The standard menu fare never disappoints and the nightly specials are always enticing.

Our bartender was attentive and surprised me with a lovely French white burgundy which happens to be one of my favorite wines.  That's just how the evening delightful surprise after another. 

 Stop in, you'll be glad that you did.

Island Creek Oyster Bar
500 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA
Phone: 617-532-5300

Here's a link to my post from last year's Island Creek Oyster Festival. It was my first encounter with these delectable little gifts from the sea.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Beet and Avocado Smoothie

If I told you that you might possibly be able to get your child to eat beets, broccoli and avocado for breakfast you'd probably think I'm nuts. Well this morning I did. Yep, all mixed up in this tasty smoothie. I've made lots of fruit smoothies, and Ally likes them, but since getting the Vitamix I've been introducing some delicious fruit and vegetable combinations.

Inspiration for this one comes from a recipe I saw on my Facebook feed yesterday which I can't for the life of me find today. I like to give credit when I'm inspired by other food bloggers. Oh well, I hope I'll get a pass this time. This is an adaptation of the original recipe.

Raw Beet and Avocado Smoothie
Serves 3-4

2 small raw beets (peeled and cut into 1" pieces)
1 ripe haas avocado (peeled and pitted)
1 lime (peeled)
1.5 cups orange juice
1 cup water
8-10 baby carrots (or 2 regular size)
1 cup broccoli florets
1 cup of ice
2 - 3 tablespoons lavender honey

I cut the avocado in half, remove the pit and then scoop out the flesh with a spoon. This is much easier than peeling and nothing goes to waste.  You can also increase the honey a bit if you think a little more sweetness might help the medicine go down. It sometimes helps when introducing these new tastes to your family.

Add all the ingredients to the blender container and turned the Vitamix to variable (this button controls the blending speed) and as soon as the ingredients start to come together switch to high speed and increase the high variable speed dial to 7 or 8. Blend until smooth. I let this one go for about 1 minute so it turned out very smooth and creamy. The beets give it a mild earthy flavor and the tang from the citrus juices is a refreshing complement to the vegetables. It was a hit and good for you, so I'll definitely make this one again.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Vegetarian Delight with Juicy Tomatoes

I hate to waste food. It's expensive and when you eat organic whole foods even more so. With that in mind, I took a quick inventory of my fridge and here's what I had to work with: a bunch of kale, one baked sweet potato, green beans from the garden, a summer squash, green peppers, tomatoes, scallions and a few leaves of rhubarb. I'm definitely seeing a meal here.

Sweet Potato Quinoa with Roasted Vegetables and Sautéed Greens

So let's start cooking. Chop the peppers, summer squash and green beans (be sure to remove the stem and the pointy end of the bean as this will make your French friends very happy). Lightly coat the veggies with olive oil or a good vegetable oil and sprinkle with salt, lemon pepper and sumac. Toss well. Roast in a cast iron skillet in a 375 degree oven, or on your gas grill over medium heat until golden brown.

Add one cup of quinoa and a pinch of salt to two cups of boiling water. Simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes or until all the water is absorbed. Mash the cooked sweet potato and set aside. Slice the scallions and sauté them in about a tablespoon of olive oil until tender. Add a teaspoon each of tamari and honey. Mix the mashed sweet potato with the scallions and then combine with the cooked quinoa.

For the greens, sauté two cloves of sliced garlic in olive oil. Before they start to brown add the chopped kale and rhubarb leaves. I removed the stems of the rhubarb, sliced them and added them to the roasted veggies, but you can sauté them with the greens if you prefer. Cook them slowly over medium heat. This allows the greens to absorb the garlic flavor.

Now for the pièce de résistance... juicy tomatoes. My mother serves these over steamed veggies, with broccoli being her favorite, so we've taken to serving them over all kinds of dishes this summer and they're a nice addition. Just chop up some tomatoes and add a little olive oil, balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, salt, pepper and fresh basil. Let them sit at room temperature (this is what makes them juicy) and spoon them over the grains and veggies before serving. You'll wonder how  you've survived without them. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Tangy Pear Lime Green Smoothie

It's day two with the Vitamix and I'm officially in love with this gadget. I've juiced for years, but decided to go the smoothie route and there's no better machine out there than this one. Take a look around their site and you'll see a plethora of food preparations that this nifty piece of equipment can perform. I bought a refurbished 5200 model for $329.00 so be sure to check out their specials. These machines were barely used and then throughly tested before being sold again. It's a great deal! In addition to daily smoothies, I look forward to preparing some fall soups now that the markets are overflowing with hard squashes.

This morning's green smoothie will definitely wake up your tastebuds. It's tangy yet just sweet enough to satisfy even those new to the world of 'green' drinks.

Tangy Pear Lime Green Smoothie
Yields: 1 Quart

3 small pears (quartered and seed core removed)
1 lime (peeled)
1 cup greens ( I used Olivia's Organics Cooking Greens, Baby Saute Blend)
1 small english cucumber or a 1/3 of a big one (ends removed as that's where the bitterness resides)
1/2 banana, peeled
1 cup orange juice or one orange
2 healthy pinches of unsweetened coconut
2 healthy pinches of raw sesame seeds
3 slices of fresh ginger

Place all ingredients in the container. Turn on to variable (this button controls the blending speed) and as soon as the ingredients start to come together switch to high speed and increase the high variable speed dial to 7 or 8. Blend until smooth. 

A delicious glass of green goodness to start your day. Yep, I drank the whole quart.

Note: Feel free to experiment with other fruits. My choices are usually driven by what's ripe and sitting on the counter. I leave the skin on all fruits and veggies, except for the citrus fruits and bananas. You can also add a handful of ice cubes if you like your smoothie really cold.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Pad Thai

For some reason I thought making this dish would be difficult, but when you think about it it's really just a rice noodle stir-fry. My daughter always orders it when we go to a Thai restaurant, so surely a homemade version must be even better. That was my thinking anyway, and when I was looking for the ingredients I came across A Taste of Thai pad thai noodles and sauce. They even have a recipe on the box which I used as a starting point.

The key to a good stir-fry is in the prep. Once you have everything sliced, chopped and ready to go it's just a matter of cooking it in the proper order to create a dish worthy of what you'll find in most restaurants. 

Pad Thai
Serves 4

Flat Rice Noodles (16 oz box)
2 eggs, beaten
3 tablespoons of grape seed oil (or any vegetable oil)
1 full boneless chicken breast
3/4 lb of large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 bunch of scallions
1/2 cup chopped peanuts
1 cup of pad thai sauce
1 teaspoon of tamari sauce
1/2 bunch of cilantro, chopped
1.5 cups bean sprouts (I forgot to buy spouts which is why you don't see them in the photo)
2 limes, quartered

Soak the noodles in hot water for 25 minutes. Cut the chicken and shrimp into 1 inch pieces. Slice the scallions, chop the peanuts and cilantro. Place those imaginary bean sprouts into a bowl, too. Put each ingredient in it's own container so you can quickly add them to the stir-fry.

Pour 2 tablespoons of oil into a wok or large frying pan. Warm it over medium high heat for a few minutes. Add the egg and cook for 30 seconds, stirring to break it up. Add the chicken and shrimp and cook for another 4-5 minutes, or until both are cooked through. Drain the noodles. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the pan and add the noodles. Continue stir frying for 4-7 minutes, or until the noodles are tender. Keep turning them in the pan so they cook evenly. Add the scallions, peanuts, bean sprouts, pad thai sauce and tamari and cook for another minute. Place on a serving platter and sprinkle with fresh chopped cilantro. Garnish with the quartered limes and squeeze one over your pad thai just before eating. Oh, and homemade is better.

Note: If you're not crazy about bean sprouts then omit them. Ours tasted fine without them.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Cast Iron Cooking Continues...

Okay, I'm on a roll with this cast iron cooking on the grill. Not only is it effective when trying to beat the heat in the kitchen, it's also a good alternative for cooking those messy dishes like stuffed peppers. You know how it is when you pan fry them on the stove, they splatter everywhere and you're trying to get the grease streaks off the stove for days.

Voila! Here's my solution...

Yep, stuff those babies and fry 'em up on the grill. They'll brown up nicely and there's no messy cleanup. I served them with tortellini and homemade pesto along with a tomato and cucumber salad.

Oh, and wait there's more. I braised some cabbage and beets in the oven then finished them off on the grill.  If you're a fan of both, you'll love this recipe.

I paired that with sausage and peppers. Yes, those wonderful sausage from Fancy's Market in Osterville, again. I cooked the peppers and onions (lightly coated with olive oil) over medium heat until they started to brown, added the sausage and closed the grill cover for about 15 minutes, then removed the peppers and browned the sausage.  What a combination of flavors.

Braised Cabbage
Serves 4 

Head of cabbage (green or red, although I found the green to be more flavorful)
6-8 small red beets, peeled
1 tablespoon grape seed oil
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
1 healthy pinch of Victoria Taylor's Toasted Sesame Ginger Seasoning
1 healthy pinch of sumac seasoning
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup of organic chicken stock

Remove the outside leaves of the cabbage and cut into quarters. Slice out the inside core of each quarter. Add to a baking dish along with the peeled beets. Add the oil, vinegars, seasonings and toss to coat the vegetables. Allow to marinate all day, turning a few times throughout the process, or leave them overnight in the fridge.

Add the chicken stock and cover the baking dish with foil. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about an hour, or until the vegetables are tender. Remove the foil and cook for another 10 minutes, or just until they start to brown. Remove from the oven and transfer the vegetables to a cast iron pan (pan juices included) and continue to brown them over medium heat on your outdoor grill. 

Note: If you've put your baking dish in the fridge allow it come to room temperature before putting it in the oven as it might break. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Grilling - Cast Iron Style

I use my cast iron skillet a lot during the indoor cooking months, and I've been toying with the idea of using it on the grill. The other night I bought some scrod and it was so hot I couldn't bear the thought of turning on the stove or the oven, so it was time to pull out the skillet. It provided the perfect vessel for cooking the fish to a moist and flaky perfection. The white fishes like scrod, halibut, and sole just don't hold up well on the grill, and this works much better than the grill accessories I've tried in the past. Plus, as an added bonus you'll be able to preserve the tasty pan juices to spoon over the fish before serving.

So you know how it goes...once you get started the possibilities are endless. Last night I roasted potatoes. Look how they finished with a nice crispy crust. They didn't last long when they hit the table.

While you're roasting in the skillet you can share the grill with a meat of your choice. We love the pork sausage from Fancy's Market in Osterville. Serve this up with a salad of chopped romaine, garden tomatoes and fresh basil and you'll have a light summer meal that will keep your fans happy and the kitchen cool.

Scrod with Green Peppers in a Lemon Butter Sauce

Serves 3 
1 lb of Fresh Scrod
1 green pepper, sliced into thin rounds
Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
A few pats of butter
1 lemon

Heat your outdoor grill to medium heat.

Cut the scrod into 3 or 4 equal pieces and place in a cast iron skillet.  Drizzle each piece with olive oil and top with a few slices of butter. Sprinkle each piece with a healthy pinch of sesame seasoning. Cook for 10 minutes with the grill cover closed, then squeeze 1/2 half of a lemon over the fish. Cook for 2 more minutes then remove from the pan with a metal spatula. Pour a little bit of the pan juices over the fish when serving. 

Roasted Potatoes

Serves 3 - 4
1.5 lbs of fingerling or new potatoes
Sea salt and pepper
Fresh rosemary

Heat your outdoor grill to low to medium heat.

Parboil your potatoes until a fork pierces them easily, but they don't break apart. Strain and cool for about 10 minutes. Cut into 1 inch pieces. Coat the potatoes with extra virgin olive oil then sprinkle with salt, pepper and finely chopped fresh rosemary. Toss well with a rubber spatula so you don't break up the potatoes. Place the skillet on the grill and close the cover. Turn the potatoes every 10 minutes until they're golden brown. Cooking time is about 50 minutes.

If you're serving the potatoes with the fish,  then cook them first. If you're cooking a meat just calculate its cooking time to coincide with the potatoes.