CELEBRATE WEDNESDAY WITH A SPIRAL KICK

When I planned this dinner, I did not think it would turn out so delicious, and definitely not something that could go into my files of “Celebrate Wednesday“.  A simple grilled chicken served with a humble zucchini salad?   What could be so special about that?   Hard to pinpoint a particular reason, but I feel this meal was a gastronomic jackpot: the whole combination of flavors is perfect.  Refreshing, light, and satisfying.  You can change the salad around in lots of ways, as long as you add the dressing a few minutes before serving.  That will make sure the zucchini will get the right texture, losing some of its raw bite.  Fresh mint, shaved celery, shaved fennel, those are some of the ingredients that come to mind as add-ons. The chicken marinade will go with pretty much any protein. Including tofu, if you are so inclined…  😉

MisoChickenZucchini

GRILLED MISO CHICKEN
(adapted from Happy Food Happy Home blog)

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons Greek yogurt
2 teaspoons miso paste
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 teaspoons honey
juice of 1 lime (2-3 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 tsp black pepper
pinch of salt

Whisk together the marinade ingredients in a small bowl.

Place the chicken in a large ziplock bag and add the marinade. Toss everything around in the bag to coat all the chicken pieces. Marinade for at least 30 minutes and up to two hours.

Grill the chicken using the 7-6-5 method:  seven minutes on the first side, flip the pieces over, grill for 6 more minutes. Turn the grill off without opening the lid, and let the chicken stay inside for 5 minutes. Remove from the grill, let the meat rest for 5 to 10 minutes slightly tented with aluminum foil, slice and serve.

to print the Grilled Miso Chicken recipe, click here

sliced

SPIRALIZED ZUCCHINI AND CUCUMBER SALAD
(from the Bewitching Kitchen, inspired by Skinny Kitchen)

2 zucchini, ends trimmed, cut on a spiral cutter
1/2 English cucumber, end trimmed, cut on a spiral cutter
juice and zest of 1 lemon
1 Tablespoon olive oil or to taste
1 avocado, cut in pieces
handful of grape or cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
fresh cilantro
salt and pepper to taste

Use a spiralizer or a mandolin fitted with a julienne blade and cut the zucchini into very thin, spaghetti-like strands. Do the same for the cucumber, but place it over paper towels to drain excess liquid. To make it easier to serve,  trim the strands cutting with scissors or a sharp knife, so that they are about 8 inches long. Place both veggies in a large serving bowl.  Reserve.

In a small bowl, make a quick emulsion whisking the olive oil and lemon juice, a touch of salt and pepper.  When it’s all emulsified, add the lemon zest.

Drizzle the dressing all over the strands of zucchini, and toss to coat.  Allow it to sit at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes.  Add the avocado pieces, the tomatoes, toss gently to combine.  Sprinkle cilantro, adjust seasoning, and serve.

ENJOY!

to print the salad recipe, click here

Comments:  First, my apologies for being unable to give immediate credit to the grilled chicken marinade.  I found it in the internet, thought I had bookmarked it, but instead I did a cut and paste of the ingredients and sent to myself by email.  (Palm hits the forehead!)  Since I clear my bookmark history every week, no luck tracking it down. (Head shake in disbelief…) Hopefully a lesson was learned. However, thanks to one of my dear readers, I could retrieve the source, and correct my mistake.  It came from Happy Food Happy Home. Cute name for a blog… 😉 Thank you, Nan, for finding the source for me.

The salad.  Of course, the spiralizer makes it super fun and interesting, but taste should come first, and in this category we also have a winner. However, depending on how watery your cucumber might be, you could run into problems.  One way around it would be spiralizing only the zucchini and adding the cucumber in small pieces together with the avocado & tomatoes. You can salt them very lightly and wait for a few minutes until the salt draws most of the excessive liquid out.  A brief rinse, a brief encounter with paper towels, and voilà: perfect cucumber!   This is harder to do with the strands, so keep this in mind if you try this salad.

The husband verdict: you can make this recipe ANYTIME. It is awesome!  

When you witness a man who loves pasta, rice, and potatoes giving such a compliment to zucchini, you know you got something special going…  As special as offering two recipes in a single post (wink, wink). Almost as special as a Wednesday evening rescued from the boring middle of the week…
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ONE YEAR AGO: Carrot Flan with Greens and Lemon Vinaigrette

TWO YEARS AGO: Granola Bars

THREE YEARS AGO:  Awesome Broccolini

FOUR YEARS AGO:  A Twist on Pesto

FIVE YEARS AGO: Ciabatta: Judging a bread by its holes

 

 

 

AVOCADO AND ORANGE SALAD WITH CHARRED JALAPENO DRESSING

No hesitation to jump on the preparation of this salad: from the moment I saw the post at Fer’s site to enjoying it as our dinner only 20 hours  elapsed.  Keep in mind that most recipes sit on my “to make soon” folder for months, not hours.  Some have been waiting there for a decade! The protein quotient of this salad was increased by the addition of seared scallops on top, with a delicate drizzle of this amazing dressing.  One word: awesome.

Scallops, Orange and Avocado Salad
AVOCADO AND ORANGE SALAD WITH CHARRED JALAPENO DRESSING
(adapted from Chucrute com Salsicha, original recipe from Bon Appetit)

1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1 jalapeño
1 small shallot, finely chopped
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
salt & freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup grape seed oil
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 avocados, sliced
2 oranges, cut in segments
mixed greens
6 large sea scallops (optional)

Simmer orange juice in a small saucepan until syrupy and reduced to about 2 Tbsp.  It should take a little over 5 minutes. Let cool.

Roast jalapeño directly over a gas flame, turning occasionally, until charred on all sides.  Let cool; remove stem, skin, and seeds, then finely chop.

Whisk shallot, vinegar, reduced orange juice, and the jalapeño in a medium bowl; season with salt and pepper. Whisk in vegetable oil, then olive oil. Set vinaigrette aside.

Toss avocados, orange segments, salad greens,  and vinaigrette in a bowl.  Serve with seared scallops on top, if so desired.

ENJOY! (I know you will….)

to print the recipe, click here

charred
Comments:  You might be tempted to use store-bought orange juice for the dressing, but fresh is best, since it will be concentrated by cooking.  Also, I wimped out and used only half the jalapeño, but it would be even better with the whole pepper.  Go for it and you won’t be disappointed. What a great twist the charring of the jalapeno!  I do that all the time with bell peppers, but had never seen a recipe applying the same treatment to a much smaller (and hotter) pepper.

For the scallops, I used a sprinkle of Mycryo to help get that nice sear, but use whatever method you like.  Just do not over-cook them.   The salad will stand on its own without the scallops, it is very flavorful. Great combination of ingredients, plus a dressing that will be made often in the Bewitching Kitchen.  I can see it would be wonderful spooned over a thick piece of grilled salmon…

ONE YEAR AGO: Green Olive, Walnuts and Pomegranate Salad

TWO YEARS AGO: Romanian Flatbreads

THREE YEARS AGO: Ziti with Artichokes and Meyer Lemon Sauce

FOUR YEARS AGO: Blasted Broccoli, Stove-top version

PAN-GRILLED TILAPIA WITH SMOKED PAPRIKA AND AVOCADO CREAM

tilapia1
I never thought of grilling tilapia filets because they are too delicate, but pan-grilling worked so well that I can see it as my method of choice from now on.  Normally I would either pan fry them after coating with flour, or follow a lighter route, baking in the oven.  However, when the weather outside is the way I like it (mid to high 90’s yeaaaaaah!)  I rather not  turn our oven on.  The inspiration for this meal came from Cooking Light magazine, but I definitely took off in my own direction.

PAN-GRILLED TILAPIA FILETS WITH SMOKED PAPRIKA AND AVOCADO CREAM
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

for the fish
4 tilapia filets
2 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp smoked paprika
salt and pepper

for the avocado cream
2 small avocados
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup fat-free yogurt (or full fat)
1 to 2 tsp freshly grated ginger
salt and pepper
lime juice to taste

Mix the olive oil with the smoked paprika in a small bowl.  Lay the filets on parchment paper, season lightly with salt and pepper.  Brush both sides with the smoked paprika oil.   Heat a grill pan, when hot spray it lightly with oil.  Add the filets and cook 2 minutes per side or until done (they should flake easily and have nice grill marks).

For the avocado cream,  blend all ingredients except the lime juice in a small food processor or blender, until very smooth. Taste and add lime juice for a nice balance of flavor, as the orange juice tends to make it a little sweet.   If you want a more runny consistency, add a little water (or any of the juices according to your taste).  Serve cold or even chilled.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

tilapiaserved
Comments:
  This was a delicious dinner, very quick to prepare, light and absolutely perfect for the weather we are having!   I served the fish with blistered grape tomatoes. Simply heat a very small amount of olive oil in a non-stick pan, when screaming hot, add the tomatoes (whole), season with salt, pepper, and herbes de Provence.  Shake the pan around a few times, once they start to get blisters all over, they are done.   This side dish will be ready in 5 minutes, and the tomatoes can sit and wait, no need to serve them too hot. (Did you notice I just gave you three recipes in a single blog post?  Am I generous or what? ;-))

The avocado cream soothes the heat of the smoked paprika, and serving it cold was a nice move.  If you like your fish more heavily seasoned, add more smoked paprika,  some extra black pepper, or even some garlic.  We prefer to have the flavor of the fish to come through first.  The small amount of paprika was enough to give the oil a beautiful, intense red color…

tilapiaOil.
Before I leave you…  Since I’m on the subject of fish dinners, Kelly from Inspired Edibles recently blogged on a great recipe for sole filets. After seasoning the filets in a lime-chili marinade, she coated them with quinoa flakes and baked in the oven.  Click here  to read her post about it.  I pinned her version to try once the weather cools down a little.  Sounds absolutely delicious!

ONE YEAR AGO: Golden Saffron and Fennel Loaf

TWO YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, July 2011

THREE YEARS AGO: Heavenly Homemade Fromage Blanc

FOUR YEARS AGO: A Perfect Sunday Dinner

AVOCADO “HUMMUS”

IMG_2053Sometimes (quite often, I’m afraid) I have a recipe on my list of things to do ASAP and there it sits for a year or five. But every once in a while the exact opposite happens: I see a recipe, fall in love, and make it right away.  This avocado hummus showed up on my screen during the last Secret Recipe Reveal Day, which fell exactly on Memorial Day.  Maybe having the day off helped, but the truth is that I saw the recipe mid-morning, and made it at 3pm.  How about that for efficiency?

AVOCADO HUMMUS
(slightly modified from Chocolate and Chillies)

1 19 oz can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 avocados, pitted and diced
1 garlic clove, minced or pressed (I omitted)
handful of cilantro, roughly chopped
4 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 cup water
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

In a food processor add all the ingredients and process.  Add more water if you would like it thinner.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

We love hummus!  It is one of the items we always have in the fridge, in fact. I know homemade is best, but we love it so much that we always have one or two of those little packages of Athenos plain hummus.  I often add a little bit of freshly squeezed lemon juice, a touch of smoked paprika, and we enjoy it with crackers or veggie sticks.   But this version with avocado instead of tahini is shockingly delicious…  BTW, do you know that blog, Shockingly Delicious?  Great site, check it out…

This hummus recipe makes quite a large amount, so I could save some for a later, happy day!

IMG_2054

ONE YEAR AGO: Moving is not for sissies!

TWO YEARS AGO: Awesome Broccolini

THREE YEARS AGO: Pizza! Pizza!

FOUR YEARS AGO:  From Backyard to Kitchen

AVOCADO THREE WAYS

This post is a courtesy of my husband…

I think you will all agree that he is a natural-blogger! 😉


We have little time to cook, but we’re always seeking something wonderful. Avocados meet us in the middle. Especially the rich, creamy Hass and Calavo avocados, from California and Mexico. Here are three quick and easy ways to enjoy them!

AvocadoAppetizer

1.  Avocado Appetizer. Hungry for something delicious and healthy? My aunt Millie showed me this one.  If the avocado’s just right, then it’s hard to top.

AvocadoCore_opt

Acquire a perfectly ripe avocado.  How can you tell?  Squeeze the avocado…it should be very firm but not hard, soft enough so that it yields to moderate pressure. Knock out the stem-plug and look for a green (not brown!) core.

Slice the avocado in half,
douse it with lemon juice,
sprinkle it with salt and pepper,
enjoy the solar energy!

2. Green Caprese Salad.

This is my Americanized  rip-off of the continental classic.

Assemble the following (fresh) ingredients:
tomatoes,
mozarella
avocados
basil
1/4 cup olive oil

GreenCaprese1_opt

Cut the the tomatoes, cheese and avocados into slices or chunks; shred or chiffonade the basil and let it sit in the oil for 5 or 10 minutes.

GreenCaprese2_opt

Assemble the components on a salad plate and drizzle-spread the basil-oil mixture over them, using a fork to help distribute the basil.  Season with salt and pepper, VOILA!

GreenCaprese3

3.  Gabriel’s Guacamole. Once while returning, exhausted, from a day of skiing at Los Alamos, we stumbled into Gabriel’s restaurant north of Santa Fe, and encountered the best guacamole we’ve ever tasted.  And the beautiful thing was that our waiter prepared it right in front of us, at our table.  I couldn’t help but remember the EIGHT components, that he added according to our specifications:

Guacamole2_optgreen onions
garlic
lemon juice
cilantro
serrano peppers
salt
tomatoes
avocados

Guacamole3

It’s a little time consuming to prepare all the ingredients, but worth the effort.  Note that I’ve pressed a garlic clove into a couple of tablespoons of  olive oil: use just the oil for a milder garlic flavor, or throw it all in for garlic lovers.  We also discovered, on a day when the avocados ran short, that the other components together make an outstanding fresh salsa!

now for the fun part….

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