Monday, February 21, 2011

Fire it up!

You know the day...the first one of the season when sun sets a little slower, the breeze blows a little warmer and the grill calls your name. Fire it up!

I love this time of year because so many things can just be marinated in whatever juices you have in the pantry and slapped on the grill and a mere moments later, voila! Perfection! And virtually no clean up.

(These little guys have been waiting all winter to get some love.)

On the menu tonight...grilled asparagus that's cooked just to the point of crisp-tender with a smoky flavor and wrapped in crispy, blackened bits.

Plump, juicy, bourbon peppercorn marinated (the marinade is store brand from  my local Kroger!) pork chops with skin that's crunchy and crisp, sealing in all the flavorful moisture that glides off your fork and explodes in your mouth.

(You can hear the sizzle, sizzle, sizzle, can't you? You know you want it.)

And a quick, cold Romaine salad with fresh shaved Parmesan and a tangy homemade garlic mustard vinaigrette that coats each leaf like a light spritzer in the summer. 

My version of "surf and turf"...add a few steamed shrimp and cocktail sauce leftover from the weekend:

(Isn't that pretty? I thought deserved two pictures.)

Yum. Yum. Yum.

Garlic Mustard Vinaigrette

1 chopped garlic clove
1-2 Tbsp. of whole grain mustard or Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2-3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2-3 tsp. sugar
1/4 Cup olive oil

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk together until well combined. Taste and add more/less of whatever you think it needs until it tastes yummy to you.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Arugula. It's kind of an odd little green, isn't it? I mean, you always hear chefs talk about it's "peppery" hints. How the heck can a leafy thing taste like pepper? I mean, I've always thought arugula was just one of those "fancy" greens that celebrity chefs use to make a dish more enticing.

Oops, sorry. That's parsley.

The last time I was in San Francisco, I picked up the most amazing cookbook:

It's organized by season and by vegetable and fruit within that. So, if it's October and I want to know how to cook a sweet potato (and where it came from, what it's best served with and what time of year it's best), I can just flip open this magic book and there's a delicious recipe. That's what I did with arugula.

This is what I made:

Whole wheat penne drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper and mixed with some chopped garlic, cherry tomatoes, wilted arugula and freshly shaven parmigiano-reggiano.





(Folks, there's no recipe, just cook the pasta and toss the ingredients. You cannot screw it up.)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Will You Be My Valentine?

I'm a snob, I admit it. When it comes to Valentine's Day, I do hail my decorating abilities as something sort of magical. My Valentine's box (you know, the one your elementary teachers had you bring for the class party) was always the envy of my classmates. Adorned with metallic red hearts, pink and red rose stickers, lacy white doilies and enough glitter to overwhelm even Tinkerbell, I was not messing around. No ma'am.

Making this box each year with my grandmother is one of my favorite childhood memories. She always had a magical selection of stickers and ribbon and sparkly things. (And I'm certain the National Gallery of Art would have been interested in displaying at least one of my masterpieces.)

Even though I'm older and no longer make shoeboxes to hold my "love notes," I still love Valentine's Day. Some people wear black if they don't have a sweetheart or walk around brooding because Cupid hasn't shared his arrow with them, but I think this day is the perfect day to celebrate everyone I love - whether they are furry, four-legged, related or not!

So, this magnificent creation is for you...

(Well, ok, it's really for me, but I'll enjoy it for you!)


I love me. I mean you.