Monday, July 29, 2013

Frozen Strawberry Tart

I love strawberries.  Especially fresh garden strawberries.  Mine have already had one bearing and are full of flowers right now just waiting to turn into berries.  I can't wait.  But to enjoy them when I don't have them growing in my garden is difficult because it is hard to come by organic strawberries that aren't $6.00 a container.  Luckily Whole Foods had a special one day for 1.99 each!  You can probably guess, but I bought $50.00 worth.  I froze them and I am hoping come winter there will still be plenty in my freezer to enjoy when berries are out of season.

I decided to try out a no bake strawberry tart, perfect for a hot afternoon, with some of them.  I loved it and after my fabulous taste testers gave their approval I knew it was a hit!

2 c. pecans
1/2 c. raw honey
2 tbsp. coconut butter
1 tbsp. coconut oil
1 tsp. salt
2 c. pureed strawberries
1 c. coconut whip cream (using canned coconut milk that has been set in the refrigerator overnight)
1 c. strawberries, small dice

In a food processor, chop pecans until they resemble meal.  Add the honey, coconut butter, coconut oil and salt until the mixture starts to form a ball.  Put the mixture in a tart pan (with removable base).  Using fingers, press so the mixture evenly coats the bottoms and sides of the tart pan.  Place in refrigerator while you are working on the filling.

In a processor, chop strawberries until they pureed   Pour the puree into a bowl and then fold in the coconut whip cream.  
(I use an iSi Gourmet Whip, but if you don't have one you can scoop out the cream at the top of the can that has been chilled and whip it with your hand mixer.  However, an iSi is a tool I would tell you to invest in.  LOVE mine!)  
Once the strawberry puree and coconut whip cream are mixed, fold in the diced strawberries.  Pour the mixture in the tart mold and put in freezer for about an hour so that it starts to harden.  Remove, cover with  plastic wrap and then return to freezer until you are read to serve it.  


Sunday, July 21, 2013

Peppered Green Beans/Smoked Pancetta

My first planting of green beans is finally ready.  This year I opted for Haricot Vert.  Thin pods with a soft vein and small beans makes for a tender, mild and delicious green bean.  Plus, they are perfect for canning dilly beans.  I am hoping to do some of those with my second planting.  I plant about every two weeks until late fall so I can enjoy fresh green beans weekly.  

A quick stop at the Cheese Shop on Saturday for some smoked pancetta and I knew I couldn't pass up on one of my favorite summer dishes.

And besides, pretty much everything is better with bacon.  (And you can substitute bacon for the pancetta, but why when The Cheese Shop carries a smoked version by La Quercia!)

1/2 lb. smoked pancetta (thick cut), diced
1 lb. green beans
1 tbsp. fresh cracked pepper

Boil water in a 6 quart container.  While you are waiting for water to boil, set aside a bowl with ice water.  When water comes to a boil, add green beans and blanch, about 3 minutes.  Quickly take off of heat, drain and add beans to ice water to stop cooking.

In a medium saute pan over medium, cook pancetta until fat starts to render, about 3-5 minutes.  

Drain cooled green beans and try to dry as best as possible.

Add beans to pancetta and increase heat to medium high, cooking until the beans are tender, and pancetta turns golden brown, about 3-5 minutes.

Remove and fold with freshly cracked pepper and lightly salt to taste.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Grilled Chicken Salad/Herb Dressing

My garden greens are plentiful this year.  I also decided to put all of my herbs in my garden because the last couple of years they haven't grown overly well in pots.  Well, let's just say they runneth over.  My oregano, basil, parsley and chives are huge!  Honestly, I can't keep up.  Anybody need some herbs and lettuce greens?

You really can't go wrong with some grilled vegetables and chicken and this dressing made it that much better.  


I'm serious about the herbs.  Call me.

1/4 c. plus 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 lb. chicken breasts, trimmed and pounded to even thickness
1 lb. asparagus
4 Roma tomatoes, sliced in half lengthwise
2 c. mixed lettuce greens
2 c. mixed herbs, minced (Tonight I used chives, basil, Italian parsley, oregano and thyme)
2-3 tbsp. champagne vinegar
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
salt and pepper

Coat chicken, asparagus and tomatoes with 2 tbsp. olive oil.  Generously salt and pepper the chicken breasts.  Preheat grill.  Grill chicken over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes.  While chicken is grilling, clean lettuce greens and set aside.  Mix remaining olive oil, vinegar, salt and mustard until cohesive.  Fold in herbs and then salt and pepper to taste.  You can add more vinegar if necessary.  Set aside.  Set one side of grill to higher heat. After chicken has cooked for about 10 minutes, turn to finish cooking.  Add asparagus and tomatoes to grill with the high heat, turning as necessary.  Cook chicken an additional 5-10 minutes or until done.  Remove chicken from grill and allow to set for about 10 minutes to lock in the juices.  Remove tomatoes about the same time as chicken and then asparagus a few minutes later, or until done.

Slice chicken and then serve over greens with asparagus and tomatoes and then top with herb dressing and freshly ground pepper.  (Make sure dressing hasn't started to separate before serving.)

Friday, July 12, 2013

5 Course Paleo Dinner for Four

One of the many positive aspects of the CrossFit gym I attend, CrossFit Primal, is the charitable functions they have. This past February they held an awards banquet called the "Woddy Awards".  It was a fun night.  Dressing up, dinner and dancing.  They also held a silent auction to benefit a local charity so I decided to donate a 5 course paleo dinner.  The winners and I were finally able to get a date that worked for everyone and this is what I served:

Amuse Bouche
Scallop and Shrimp Tequila Citrus Ceviche

4 sea scallops, rinsed, cleaned and sliced into strips
4 jumbo shrimp, deveined, shelled and sliced in 1/2 inch thin pieces
2 limes, juiced
zest of 1 lime
1/2 orange,  juiced, using half of the juice
zest of 1 orange
2 tbsp. quality tequila 
salt to taste

Mix the citrus juices, zest, and tequila together.  Fold into the scallops and shrimp.  Refrigerate, stirring once in a while, until the scallops turn opaque and the shrimp is pink, at least six hours.  Salt to taste.  Drain most of the liquid and serve with a leaf of cilantro.

 Second Course
Raw Vegetable Salad/Cilantro Dressing

1/2 lb. asparagus,  4 carrots and one jicama, cut into thin strips using a peeler
1/2 c. cilantro, minced
1/2 c. olive oil
3-4 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tbsp. honey
salt and pepper to taste

Whisk all the dressing ingredients together and then, using an immersion blender, mix until the dressing is thick.  Fold into vegetables.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Third Course
Gazpacho/Avocado Crema

10-12 Roma tomatoes, seeded
1 red bell pepper, seeded
1 green bell pepper, seeded
1 small cucumber
1/4 red onion
1/2 jalapeƱo
juice of one lime
1 avocado
1/2 coconut milk, canned

Cut all of the vegetables into similar sizes.  In a vitamix or food processor, place onions, peppers, cucumber and tomatoes.  Use attachment, turn onto low and push down vegetables as they start to blend while gradually increasing speed.  Mix until blended to desired consistency.  Add lime juice and salt and pepper to taste.

For the crema, mix the avocado and coconut milk with an immersion blender until smooth, but not overly thick.  Serve a dollop in the center of the gazpacho.

Fourth Course
Chicken/Chipotle Butter Sauce and Roasted Mixed Peppers

2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. olive oil
4 chicken breasts, pounded to same thickness 
1 c. white wine
1 chipotle in adobo, minced
4 tbsp. butter
salt and pepper to taste
1 lb. variety of mixed peppers and tomatillos (cut into fourths), roasted (Coat each pepper and tomatillo in oil and the grill until charred slightly on each side)

Heat large saute pan over medium high heat until butter oil mix starts to brown.  Add chicken, cooking until golden brown, about 5-8 minutes and then turn.  Finish cooking and set in a warm oven while you make the sauce.

Increase the heat in the pan to high and add the wine and allow it to reduce by half.  Add the chipotle and cook for a few minutes, then slowly whisk in the butter so it mixes into the wine and becomes cohesive.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Remove the chicken from oven and return it to the pan, as well as any accumulated juices.  Turn chicken a few times to coat in sauce.  Remove and slice into slices.

While the chicken is cooking, slice the peppers and remove the seeds.  Then return to a small saute pan and cook over medium until they are heated again.

Place pepper mixtures on plate, then add chicken slices, and top with a couple of spoonfuls of the butter sauce.

Raspberry Pot de Creme

5 ounces dark chocolate, at least 60%.  
6 tbsp. Chambord
3 egg yolks
1/2 c. raw honey
3/4 c. coconut milk

Melt the chocolate with the Chamord in a bowl over a pan of almost boiling water.  One the chocolate starts to melt, stir consistently until it is all melted and then remove from heat.

Meanwhile, in a food processor add the egg yolks and honey, mixing well.  Scrape down sides and pulse again a time or two.  While the processor is going, slowly add the chocolate, scraping down sides about half way through and finish adding remaining chocolate.  Slowly add coconut milk until the mixture is blended well.

Pour into serving size dishes (or one large dish, right Yoder?) and refrigerate for about 30 minutes, then cover with plastic wrap and continue to refrigerate until they are set, at least four hours.  Remove about 15 minutes prior to serving, taking off plastic.  Serve with a dollop of coconut whip cream.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Cucumber Salad

How can something so simple taste so delicious?  That is how I feel about cucumber salad.  Cucumber, often overlooked or used as a garnish, is the highlight in this simple summer salad.  Fresh from the garden cucumbers, tomatoes and chives make it even better.  After a long, hot and humid day, this salad  hits the spot!  This night I used a coconut vinegar because my meal was centered around coconut, but feel free to use any vinegar you like!

Get your cucumber on!

1 large cucumber, cut diagonally and the sliced in fourths
3 roma tomatoes, seeded and cut into fourths
1/2 c. chives, chopped
2 tbsp. coconut vinegar
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. raw honey
salt and pepper to taste

Mix the vinegar, oil and honey together.  In a large bowl, mix the cucumber, tomato and chives.  Add the dressing, and then salt and pepper to taste.  Make sure you fold the dressing into the vegetables.  Cover with wrap and the allow to refrigerate at least four hours, or preferably overnight.  Every so so often, stir the mixture.

Garnish with fresh pepper!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Quick Garlic/Pepper Beef

Summer heat means that you don't want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen.  It is really easy to just make a salad and call it good, but one can only eat so much.  Tonight I decided to spend a bit of time at the stove and whip up a quick stir fry.  One of my favorite dishes at a local Thai restaurant is their Garlic Pepper Shrimp, so I decided to make my own creation with garlic and pepper.  Add in some sweet basil and mint, and the flavor combination was perfectly light.  You could even do this on the grill (using pans) so you can stay outdoors and enjoy the sun!

1/2 c. garlic, pressed
2 tbsp. Chinese peppercorn, ground
2 tbsp. coconut oil
6 c. mixed vegetables (I used cabbage, cauliflower, bok choy, sugar snap peas, celery and onion)
1 lb. ground beef
1/2 c. minced basil
1/2 c. minced mint
Sea salt to taste

Over medium heat in large saute pan melt coconut oil.  Add onion and cauliflower and saute for about 5 minutes.  Add remaining vegetables, keeping heat on medium, cover with lid and cook for about 10 minutes until they are crisp tender.

Meanwhile, cook ground beef over medium high heat until done, remove from pan and set aside.  Add an additional 1 tbsp. coconut oil into ground beef pan.  Then add garlic and pepper, cooking and stirring constantly until it gets fragrant, about 2 minutes.  Add basil and mint, cooking an additional minutes.  Add beef to vegetables, mixing well, and cook a few more minutes if needed.  Salt to taste.