Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Caprese Salad

This weekend we got lucky with a happy coincidence. Harris Teeter had a sale on the Perlini Mozzarella and hot house tomatoes, and Chris' basil was running wild. The result? Only the best caprese salad I've had this side of the Atlantic! OK, so maybe it wasn't the best, but it was pretty good. We ate it while we watched the U.S.A. soccer heart breaker, but at least our taste buds were happy.

This is definitely a recipe to entertain with or if you have any extra, and I don't think you will, you can always toss with cold pasta for a heartier salad. Quick disclaimer, these measurements are approximations. I'm fairly undisciplined in the kitchen and rarely ever use my measuring cups or spoons. I swear I'll reform when I get a dish washer! Until then consider these suggested measurements for your own creations.

7 oz. perlini mozzarella (mozzarella balls the size of marbles)
2 ripe hot house tomatoes diced
1/4 cup fresh basil, made into ribbons
1/3 cup fresh parsley, rough chopped
1/2 of a small red onion sliced fine
1/2 cup of olive oil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

After chopping and slicing, toss all the ingredients together and let sit for about 30 minutes for all of the flavors to meld together. Serve with bread or crackers.

P.S. I'll try and get a picture of this up on the web soon!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Scrumptious Strawberry-Spinach Salad

Ok, so you know I couldn't resist the alliteration. Lately, I've been working on healthy meals and sides that don't involve a whole lot of heat. Two valiant window units try desperately to cool our apartment and the oven/stove combo is often too much for them. Today's lunch consisted of leftover frittata (God bless the microwave!) and a spinach salad.

This salad is so tasty and quick to make you won't even think twice about it. Plus, spinach and strawberries are a nutritional power duo. The greens are packed with iron and the strawberries provide vitamin C to facilitate absorption of the non-heme iron in veggies. Add some walnuts and my favorite dressing Brianna's Blush wine vinaigrette and you have a sophisticated salad in minutes that is fit to entertain. For a calcium boost, try adding some goat cheese. Your taste buds (and waistline) will thank you.

Strawberry Spinach Salad
1 package Organics baby spinach
1/3 cup sliced strawberries
1/4 cup chopped walnuts (toasted if you like)
3 oz. cheese of your choice
Brianna's Blush Wine Vinaigrette Dressing (to taste)

Toss and serve.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Chicken Pot-pie Recipe

Every now and then I fiddle around with a recipe and it comes out GREAT! Then, I forget to write it down and can never recreate it again. Last night could have been one of those nights. I made a chicken pot-pie that was so delicious that Vince and Chris declared it was the best they ever had. So in the efforts of helping my fragile memory remember here it is:

Chicken Pot Pie

2 large chicken breasts
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/4 cup butter (salted)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup of milk
2 cups chicken stock (make your own or use Swanson low sodium, trust me!)
1 med. onion
5 cloves of garlic
2 celery spears
6 oz. frozen mixed veggies
6 oz. frozen sliced mushrooms
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste
1 sprig of rosemary
1 store bought pastry crust

Season chicken and cook until browned thoroughly in two tablespoons of olive oil with a sprig of rosemary on top. This adds so much delicious flavor! Add about 1/2 cup of chicken stock if you see that it is getting too hot or stuck to the pan. Once that is finished, pull out chicken breasts and cube. Discard the rosemary sprig. (While this is cooking you can prep the veggies.)

In the same pan, melt the butter and add the flour to make a roux. Once this has browned add the chopped celery, onions, and garlic. Stir until onions are softened. Add milk and chicken stock and stir together. Then add frozen veggies, mushrooms, bay leaf, salt and pepper and let this all meld together, about 5 minutes. Then add the chicken back in. Stir. Pour mixture into a deep pie dish and cover with the pie crust. Cut in a few vents and place in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes or until crust is golden.

If anyone tries this can you tell me if it works out? I'm trying to work on my recipe writing skills. Thanks! Bon Apetit!

Computer virus!!!

I'm glad I got some pictures up yesterday. It seems that my computer has a virus and I can't get rid of it! I'm afraid to connect my external hard drive to the computer for fear of contaminating that too. So until this gets figured out you will just have to use your imaginations!

Happy Hump Day!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Arugula Salad three ways

We love Arugula salad at our house. After tasting a really delicious one at Bread in NYC, I brought this back to Miami and then Arlington. The pepperiness of the arugula provides so much flavor you really don't need much in the way of dressings. The Bread arugula salad is topped with lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper and shaved parmesan and replicated frequently at home.

Lucky for us, arugula seems to be the national green of Italy. No joke, it grows like a weed over there, showing up in main courses, contorni (side dishes), salads, and even as a garnish. There were two arugula salads that particularly stuck out. The first was at La Carbonara, home of the cacio e pepe just blogged about. This was a nice mix of arugula and thinly sliced raw baby artichokes dressed with olive oil, white wine vinegar and a spritz of lemon juice. The artichoke was fresh and crunchy. A neat variation on a classic veggie.

The second salad that comes to mind was the insalata tre colore (three color salad), a tribute to the Italian flag with juicy red tomatos, shaved parmesan, and loads of leafy arugula. Quite lovely.

Although I must say that I'm partial to the first preparation, these were really nice variations and something that I'll most definitely have to try at home.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Cacio e Pepe

This is a super simple Roman dish that only requires you to have the very best ingredients on hand. There are only four ingredients in this dish so you really can't skimp on quality. The flavor is intense and amazing. We tasted this at La Carbonara (not in Campo d'Fiori) in Rome just last week and it made the top three on our best dishes in Italy list. You could probably make this with a pasta of any shape, but I reccomend a thick spaghetti/fettucini type pasta to get maximum sauce exposure.

So here it is, brace yourselves for the simpleness of it all:

Pasta (I had this with tonnarelli, thicker spaghetti)

Pecorino Romano cheese

Black Pepper (freshly ground, preferably Malabar)

Olive Oil

Cook the pasta until it is al dente. Al dente for italians is much chewier than what we are used to in the U.S. Drizzle with olive oil and toss onto a plate. Grate a good amount of fresh Pecorino Romano onto the pasta and sprinkle with black pepper. When it is time to eat (which should be immediately!) stir it all together to make some creamy goodness. Delicious!!!!

Monday, June 7, 2010

From the land of Wool and Honey

This weekend I finally made it to the Dupont Circle Farmer's market. It's vast and fantastic and reminded me of the Campo d' Fiori in Italy (more on that later) only more organized. I was drawn to one of the white tents that was hung with multi-colored skeins of soft, folded wool. The colors were so warm and inviting, ironic that this was still enticing on a 90+ degree day. Through the wool, I saw a golden flash and knew that I had found what I was looking for: Locally grown honey! Finally!

I had a chance to buy some local honey last year, and this spring the allergies weren't so bad. I had read somewhere that eating local honey can immunize you to a certain degree to the seasonal pollen in the air, and so far so good, except that I was almost out! Luckily, Solitude Farms makes honey along with their wool (probably not something you should mix together) out in Round Hill, VA. The taste is light and fresh with just a little hint of the comb to spice it up. If all goes well, we can have another allergy free year!

Solitude Farms: www.solitudewool.com

And, we're back!

It's hard to believe that its been almost 2 months since I have posted a blog up here (or anywhere for that matter!) First of all, apologies! Secondly, my excuse...Tasting Serendipity is PREGNANT!!!! This very exciting development has me and the hubby quite excited, but it did have an adverse effect on my relationship with food. While my morning sickness was never epic, it did cause a revulsion to anything food related that wasn't saltine crackers for awhile. Formerly tantalizing scents like simmering garlic and basil became smells that could not be tolerated. This unfortunately extended to my writing about food too. Yikes!

But now, I am out of the first trimester woods and really, really hungry again! Plus, I have 2 months worth of travels to tell you about. Yes, despite the morning (anytime) sickness I did manage to keep down some really great meals. So stay tuned for amazing eats from Chicago, Miami, Rome, and Positano. We had some great dishes that I need to remember and practice like the famous Roman cacio e pepe, a super simple, but stunning pasta dish with just four ingredients.

Until tomorrow dear reader friends!