Aunt Suzy says

Our exploration of summer cocktails continues.  I mentioned in a previous post that Randy was experimenting with Gimlets after seeing an article on them in a local magazine.  Coincidentally, friend Christie Quinn went to a class out in San Francisco on how to make Gimlets and sent us 3 different recipes for the drink – from basic to what looks like Gimlets on steroids.  We made the basic last night and it was so much better than the concoction we tried with Rose’s Lime Juice (yuck!).   Randy also made this outstanding hummus recipe that was featured on Fresh Tart, a local food blog I follow.  The promise was for tasty and creamy homemade hummus rather than the usual gloppy (my word), and we really liked it.  Another thing that attracted us, besides the creaminess, was the use of preserved lemon.  Most of the time when you use preserved lemon in recipes, you throw out the pulp, but this recipe used peel and pulp.  We had some pulp left over from the recent tagine we made, so we added that.  A winning hummus that we will make again (and probably tinker with, knowing us)!

Gimlet (amount we used for 2 cocktails)

1 1/2 parts Gin, Hendrick’s recommended (3 shots)

3/4 part simple syrup (2 jiggers)

3/4 part fresh lime juice (2 jiggers)

cucmber slice

Place cocktail glasses in the freezer a couple of hours prior to the cocktail hour.  (I love this instruction because it assumes that we all have a cocktail hour 🙂 vs. stating “prior to serving”.)  Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker, add ice and shake vigorously.  Strain into glasses.  Garnish with a slice of cucumber.  Randy and I tried it both up and on the rocks and both liked rocks better given how hot it was out at the time (even though we know this is probably heresy to Gimlet purists). 

Aunt Suzy says

For some reason we decided to grill on the July 5th “holiday” rather than on the 4th this year.  We made turkey burgers and three salads.  I was inspired by two recipes in the food section in our paper on Thursday – one of the salads was Moroccan.  It reminded me that many Moroccan meals consist of a grilled or roasted meat and several side salads.  Another salad recipe was for a bean salad with the suggestion of serving it as bruschetta.  I thought this could work as just a salad or bruschetta as recommended.   My plan was to make the these two salads to go with the turkey burgers.  Then, my upstairs neighbors called and asked if I wanted part of a watermelon.  I said yes, and I was off and running to make a watermelon salad that my friend Karen had told me was a “must make” a while back.  So here is our July 5th cookout menu – Whole Foods Santa Fe turkey burgers, White Bean- Asparagus-Mushroom Salad, Moroccan Grilled Pepper Salad, and Watermelon-Cucumber Salad wtih Feta.  (Just click on the salad name to go to the recipe.)  I recommend iced tea with mint and lemon or a dry French rose with this meal.

Aunt Suzy says

When I first saw this shaved asparagus pizza recipe last week from Smitten Kitchen, I thought it looked delicious, not to mention beautiful to look at.  With great asparagus so plentiful right now, I wanted to make it at my first opportunity,  My friend Sue had asked about adding goat cheese and that got me thinking about other ingredients.  Randy and I made pizza on Saturday night using Vicolo Pizza frozen crusts which are cornmeal based and are our go-to pizza crusts.  I wanted to try the recipe as described on Smitten Kitchen and also to add some other ingredients to see how they worked. True confessions . . . I might be posting this just so I can show these cute Mozzarella Pearls that I just discovered at Whole Foods.

On top of that base of Parmigiano and Mozzarella, I placed the shaved asparagus.  On the right in the photo below is the basic recipe and my riff on it can be seen on the left.  I added roasted red pepper, Niciose olives and feta cheese.  Both sides of the pizza were delicious!  Randy went even further and used pizza sauce as a base, green olives, red onions and roasted red pepper and no mozzarella.  He said it was one of the best pizzas we’ve ever made, and we both agreed that shaved asparagus is a winning pizza ingredient!

 

Aunt Suzy says

I love this tapas recipe from Food and Wine a couple of years ago.  I make it regularly in the summer especially during tomato season.   I had fun cooking this with Margaux’s Mom, Kathleen, this week.  We also made a Moroccan carrot and mint salad from Smitten Kitchen and a green salad.   (It was delicious and we agreed that we would put more mint than called for in this recipe.)

The tuna is on the right and you’ll notice a glass of French Rose wine, which is the perfect pairing for this meal.

1 red bell pepper, roasted OR

1-2 portions from a jar of Roasted Red Peppers

3 tablespoons pine nuts

3 tablespoons EV olive oil

1 medium white onion, diced

 2 medium tomatoes, coarsely chopped

1 8-oz can or 2 5-oz cans tuna packed in olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

 Cut the pepper into ½ -inch pieces.  Toast the pine nuts in a skillet until golden brown and fragrant, being careful not to burn. Set aside.  Sauté the onion in the olive oil over medium heat until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add the peppers and tomatoes and cook about 3 more minutes until the tomato is softened.  Transfer to a bowl and let cool.

 After the vegetable mixture is cooled to room temperature, add the tuna and stir until mixed.  Add the pine nuts and toss until combined.  Serve with baguette.

 

Baked Feta

May 15, 2010

Aunt Suzy says . . . .
A few years ago, I saw this recipe for an appetizer of baked feta cheese in Food & Wine Magazine. I had never heard of baking feta cheese before, but it looked delicious. It turns out it IS delicious!! It’s super easy to make and a hit when served with baguette, crackers and an assortment of olives. Several types of feta are available in solid blocks vs. crumbles, which is what you will need for this dish. For friends who live in Minneapolis, Bill’s on Lake & Aldrich is the place to get it. For those of you who live near a Trader Joe’s, they carry Greek feta in a block. I prefer French sheep’s milk feta when I can find it. Enjoy this beautiful and tasty dish with a Sauvignon Blanc or a French Pinot Noir.

Margaux Says…
Aunt Suzy actually gave me this recipe years back with her “Dinner in a Box” gift that she gave my husband and I as a wedding gift. It was a really fun gift that I will probably do for someone someday: in the year after we were married, four times we received a box from her that contained a menu with recipes, some ingredients and a few cooking implements to go with that we didn’t have yet. One of the menus contained a recipe for roasted beets, and as a side note she included this recipe, as a way to use the beet tops at another meal (you serve the feta on sauteed beet tops). I’ve used it several times now, and I LOVE it! We’ve even served it at a cocktail party, with slices of crusty bread, and it was a hit.

BAKED FETA
Serves 4

½ pound feta cheese cut in a ¾-inch slab
2 tablespoons olive oil 2 teaspoons fresh oregano leaves
¼- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper 1-2 teaspoons lemon zest
1-2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

Cut the feta into 4 triangles and place in a glass baking dish. Place the pepper, garlic slices, oregano leaves and lemon zest on top of the cheese. You can vary the quantities of these ingredients to your taste. Pour the olive oil over the cheese carefully so as not to disturb the other ingredients. Marinate 5 minutes to 1 hour. Bake at 375 degrees for 10-15 minutes till custard-like, but not browned. Lift cheese sections onto a serving plate (or individual plates) with a spatula and pour hot olive oil over all.

To serve with beet greens:

one to two bunches beet tops, stems trimmed and chopped into 1″ strips
2-3 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced

Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. Saute garlic for about a minute, then add greens in bunches and saute until just wilted. Transfer to serving platter, then arrange cheese pieces over top. Pour hot olive oil over all.