Watermelon & Tomato Salad

This is a very quick, refreshing and colorful salad. With 4th of July around the corner and casual summer get togethers, it is a quick fix and makes a beautiful presentation. Often, in late summer, the ingredients come straight from the garden, but they can be found in most grocery stores and farmer’s markets easily.

Ingredients

3- 4 cups Watermelon Cubes
1 Pint Cherry or Grape Tomatoes
1 Large Cucumber sliced 
1/2 Cup Fresh Basil, chiffonade
1/4 - 1/2 Cup Feta Cheese, crumbled
Balsamic Vinegar, to taste

Instructions

Combine watermelon, tomatoes, cucumber and basil in a large shallow bowl. Toss with crumbled feta and drizzle with Balsamic Vinegar to taste.

All quanities for this recipe are suggestions and can be adjusted to your preference for taste and appearance.

Using multiple colors and shapes of the tomatoes will bring interest. Garnish with whole basil leaves for a pretty presentation.

Mussels with Basque Chorizo

Yeild: 4 Servings

This is actually a quick meal, but tastes amazing. Served in big bowls with lots of the stock and a crusty sour dough for dipping, this can actually be whipped up on a weeknight. For this adventure, I substituted some clams for the mussels because I had them on hand. They have different cooking times and I don’t really recommend this as the best approach to this dish, but it is an option. They are complementary bivalve mollusks, but the clams take longer to cook and must be added 5-10 minutes before the mussels to insure they open.

The Basque Chorizo brings the flavors of sweet red pepper, paprika, and garlic to the game. We are lucky to live in an area that celebrates Basque tradition and these sausages are readily available at a Basque deli in the local area. If Basque Chorizo can’t be found, Spanish Chorizo can be substituted. Mexican Chorizo is made with entirely different spice blend and I have not tried it in this dish. If you are up for experimenting that direction, let me know how that works out.

Measurements in this recipe are a suggestion, and you can easily modify it to your tastes and the number of people you want to serve. We like a lot of soupy broth for soaking up the flavor and bread. You can reduce the liquid volume if you don’t want as much broth. If you don’t keep clam stock on hand, chicken stock can be substituted, it just doesn’t have that briny, ocean flavor. You can eliminate the wine and use all stock. This is up to you.

Ingredients

4 lbs Mussels, live or a mix of Mussels and Clams, cleaned and de-bearded
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
4 oz. Basque Chorizo,casing removed and diced
5 Cloves Garlic, minced
16 oz. tomatoes, diced (a pint of Cherry tomatoes works well)
8 Oz. Clam Stock (can substitute chicken stock)
8 oz. Dry White Wine
2 Tablespoons Butter
2 Tablespoons, Italian Parsley, minced

Instructions

  1. Rinse and scrub mussels, removing any beard (fuzzy clingy stuff sticking out of the mussel shell). If any mussels are open, discard them – they are not alive. You can tap them to see if they will close, but it they don’t, throw them out.
  2. Heat oil in a dutch oven or large lidded skillet over medium heat.
  3. Add diced Chorizo cook until it begins to brown.
  4. Stir in minced garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes.
  5. Add tomatoes and cook until tomatoes begin to soften.
  6. Stir in stock and white wine. Cook to reduce by 1/4 and release alcohol.
  7. Add mussels and cover with lid, steam for 10 minutes until the mussels open. If chosing to mix with clams, remember to cook clams first for at least 5-10 minutes until they start to open, and then add the mussels to insure clams cook completely.
  8. Discard any mussels (or clams) that do not open.
  9. To finish: Stir in butter and 1/2 the parsley. Divide into serving bowls and sprinkle with remaining parsley.
  10. Serve with toasted Italian or Sourdough bread.

Huevos Rancheros with Chipotle Black Bean Sauce

Happy Cinco de Mayo! We decided to skip the heavy Mexican food meal at the end of the day, and opt for Heuvos Rancheros for brunch this year. It is hearty and filling and will probably stay with us all day.

This dish is basically a layering of ingredients. The Fresh Red Salsa, Chipotle Salsa, and Chipotle Black Bean Sauce can be prepared a day in advance to save time. You could even fry the tortilla shells in advance as they will reheat well in the oven.

This recipe serves 4, but can be easily scaled up or down.

Ingredients

Base
4 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
8 Corn Tortillas
8 Eggs
15 oz. Can Refried Beans, divided
1 Cup Chipotle Black Bean Sauce, divided
1 Cup Shredded Cheese, divided (can use Monteray Jack, Cheddar or any combination you prefer)

Toppings
Shredded Lettuce
Chopped Fresh Cilantro
Lime Quarters
Sour Cream
Diced Tomatoes
Avocado Slices
Chipotle Black Bean Sauce
Fresh Red Salsa
Chipotle Salsa

Instructions

  1. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Heat oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat and fry tortillas one at a time until firm, but not crisp. Remove to paper towels to drain grease.
  3. Meanwhile, place refried beans in a microwave-safe dish. Cover and cook in the microwave until heated through.
  4. When tortillas are fried and beans are heated, assemble the base by placing four tortillas on the baking sheet. Top with 1/4 of the refried beans, 1/4 cup Chipotle Black Bean Sauce. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup grated cheese, or more if you like it really cheesy.
  5. Place remaining fried tortillas on serving plates.
  6. Bake base until cheese is melted, 2 to 5 minutes, keeping an eye out so you don’t overcook.
  7. While base is cooking , fry eggs over-easy in the skillet. Add butter if the tortillas have absorbed all the oil.
  8. Remove base from oven, place on top of tortilla on serving plate. Top with two fried eggs per plate.
  9. Add desired toppings and serve immediately with extra salsa and sauce on the side.

Kentucky Hot Brown

It’s Kentucky Derby Day! This year I decided to prepare the decadent Kentucky Hot Brown open-faced sandwich as a late lunch/early dinner while we enjoy the Churchill Downs race – the first in the great race for the Triple Crown each year. This year marks the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby, and the first result upset in the history of the Race.

The Hot Brown actually has its own history. Still served today at the historic Brown Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky, the Hot Brown was invented in the 1920’s for the 1200 guests that frequented their nightly dancing at the hotel. The chef wanted something more glamorous to serve the tired dancers instead of just ham and eggs. The original recipe is shared by the Brown Hotel. The original recipe and history can be found at https://www.brownhotel.com/dining/hot-brown

I stick close to the original recipe, but make a few changes. Not a fan of Texas Toast, I changed the bread to Brioche. I also make a very traditional Mornay Sauce which is made with Gruyere vs. the Pecorino called for by the Brown Hotel. I omit the nutmeg as I have a food intolerance to it – even in small quantities. You, however, can add it back if you prefer its distinct flavor in this creamy cheese sauce.

Ingredients

For the Mornay Sauce
2 1/2 Tablespoons Salted Butter
3 Tablespoons All Purpose Flour
8 oz. Heavy Cream
8 oz. Whole Milk
2 oz. Gruyere Cheese, grated (plus more for garnishing)
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1/4 Teaspoon Pepper
Pinch of Ground Nutmeg (optional, I omit)

For the Sandwich
Herb Roasted Turkey Breast, Sliced https://betwixtandcuisine.com/2019/05/04/herb-roasted-turkey-breast/
4 Slices of Brioche Toast (Crust Trimmed)
4 Slices of Crispy Bacon
2 Tomatoes, Sliced in Half
Paprika
Parsley

Instructions

In a two‑quart saucepan, melt butter and slowly whisk in flour until combined and forms a thick paste (roux). Continue to cook roux for two minutes over medium‑low heat, stirring frequently. Whisk heavy cream and whole milk into the roux and cook over medium heat until the cream begins to simmer, about 2‑3 minutes. Remove sauce from heat and slowly whisk in Gruyere cheese until the Mornay sauce is smooth. Add salt and pepper. Optionally, add nutmeg.

Cut the crusts off the brioch toast. For each sandwich, keep one slice of toast whole, and cut the other in half diagonally to make toast points. to assemble place a whole slice of brioche toast in an oven safe dish. Add desired turkey slices. Original recipes suggests about 7 oz. Take the two halves of tomato and two toast points and set them alongside the base of the turkey and toast. Next, pour one half of the Mornay sauce to completely cover the dish. Sprinkle with additional Gruyere cheese. Place the entire dish under a broiler until cheese begins to brown and bubble. Remove from broiler, cross two pieces of crispy bacon on top, sprinkle with paprika and parsley, and serve immediately.

Basic Marinara Sauce

This recipe is for a very basic marinara sauce done in a large batch style. It can stand alone as a dipping sauce (it’s quite thick), serve as a red pizza sauce base, sauce for lasagna, spaghetti and meatballs, eggplant and chicken parmesan, etc.

I like to make a very large batch and freeze it in quart size deli containers. I typically use tomatoes from my garden either fresh, or frozen whole and thawed. When home grown tomatoes are not available, canned tomatoes such as San Marzano whole peeled can be used.

In this recipe I omit Oregano, which may surprise some. I find that it is very strong and can easily overpower the sauce, so I add it later, when I am using the sauce for dishes that are complimented by it.

This recipe is designed to be able to be reduced b 1/2 or 1/3 of the amounts here to allow for smaller batches with the same flavor.

Ingredients

12 Cups Whole Tomatoes, peeled (fresh, frozen or canned)
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
6 Cups Yellow Onion, diced
1 1/2 Cups Carrot, diced
1 1/2 Cups Celery, diced
1 1/2 Cups Red or Yellow Bell Pepper, diced
2 Shallots, diced
6 Garlic cloves, minced
4 Bay Leaves, Whole
1 Cup torn Sweet Basil leaves
1 Tablespoon Rosemary leaves, fresh removed from stem
1/2 Cup Italian Parsley, rough chopped
12 oz. Tomato Paste
1 Tablespooon Salt
1 Teaspoon Black Pepper

Instructions

  1. In a large stock pot, heat olive oil over medium heat until warmed.
  2. Add onion, carrot, celery, peppers, and shallots.
  3. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until vegetables begin to brown and release sugars.
  4. Add garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly to prevent over browning of vegetables.
  5. When garlic is soft, add remaining ingredients to the pot.
  6. Continue to cook over medium heat until sauce begins to boil.
  7. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover with a lid and allow sauce to cook for at least 2 hours until carrots are of a consistence that they can be mashed and the tomatoes are completely cooked.
  8. Remove from heat and remove bay leaves from sauce. Allow sauce to cool.
  9. Using an immersion blender, food processor or regular blender, puree the cooked vegetables into a smooth sauce. For a chunkier sauce, just pulse a few times with the blender you are using.

Tomato Bisque

I was working to prep the vegetable garden all day yesterday, and threw this bisque together with toasted sandwiches at the end of the day. It makes a quick meal that warms you when the spring days turn to cold evenings; or any time of year when you have that yearning for a good comfort food.

This bisque is a hearty, rustic soup with a flavor medley formed from its vegetable base. As written it is Vegetarian/Keto friendly. Substituting nut milks for the dairy in the recipe will convert it to Paleo/Vegan friendly.

I like mine topped with a bold cheese such as Parmesan, Gorganzola or Blue, maybe a bit of Roasted Garlic. I serve with homemade croutons or a slice of toasted and buttered rustic bread.

Ingredients

2 Tablespoons Butter
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 Medium Onion, diced
1 Large Carrot, diced
2 Stalks Celery, diced
4 Cloves Garlic, peeled and mashed
32 Ounces of Fresh whole tomatoes, peeled
(or 28 ounce canned whole tomatoes with with juice if fresh not available)
1 Cup Chicken Stock
1 6 ounce can tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh basil, minced
1 tablespoon fresh Italian parsley, mincd
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced
1/2 Cup whipping cream

Instructions

  1. On medium setting, heat butter and olive oil in a medium stock pot until butter melts and begins to sizzle. Add onion, carrot and celery. Cook and stir until the onion is translucent 5-10 minutes. Add garlic and cook another 2-3 minutes. Add tomatoes, stock, tomato paste, salt and pepper. Stir and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes until tomatoes are cooked and easy to squish with the back of a spoon.
  2. Add fresh herbs and blend with an immersion blender, or you can transfer to a food processor or blender if you do not have an immersion blender and blend in small batches and cover lid with dish towel to avoid hot splatters. Blend until no chunks remain and herbs are flecked throughout.
  3. Add fresh whipping cream and stir to finish soup.

Tip: This past year, I had a lot of tomatoes come out of the garden, and the kitchen was being remodeled, so I learned you can actually freeze whole tomatoes. I washed and cored my tomatoes and then froze them on cookie sheets individually before placing in re-sealable freezer bags. This allows you to remove the tomatoes individually – they don’t stick together. You can just reach in the bags and grab what you need for a recipe. When they thaw they are great for soups, stews, sauces, condiments and salsas. The skins slip right off after thawing.

If you don’t garden, but frequent farmer’s markets for that sun-ripened tomato taste, this technique is a great way to have that fresh tomato taste throughout the fall and winter. I use my frozen tomatoes and just weigh them out with a kitchen scale before partially thawing, peeling and dropping into soup base.