Monday, June 30, 2008

Dark Chocolate Sorbet

Groom bought me a present when we got back from vacation.

A faboo Cuisinart ice cream maker. I had plans for this baby.
Big plans.

Then, reality.
Eating right, all things in moderation.

That meant no facey downey in ice cream.

Howsomuchever, no one said one word about a dairy free sorbet.

Dark chocolate is good for you.

It can be a reward.

It can be a part of your life.

It can be your friend.

In moderation.

Welcome to the Dark Chocolate Moderation Plan a la Feeding Groom.

If one wants a treat, have a little bit of dark chocolate.
If one wants a splurge, have a spoonful of this stuff.

Straight from the Cuisinart Recipe Booklet that came with the ice cream maker.
Along with nutritional information.

Moderation is not a bad thing at all.

Dark Chocolate Sorbet
Adapted from
Cuisinart Recipe Booklet: Ice Creams, Sorbets, Sherbets and More!

Nutrition Information per ½ cup serving:
Calories 139 (9% from fat) .. Carbs 35g .. Protein 2g .. Fat2g ..SatFat..1g .. Cholesterol 0mg ..Sodium 6mg ..Calcium19mg ..Fiber4g (provided by Cuisinart )

4 cups water
1-2/3 cup vanilla sugar
1/3 cup dark Muscavado brown sugar
2 cups unsweetened Ghirardelli cocoa powder
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract

Combine water and sugars in 3-¾ non reactive (stainless, ceramic or glass) saucepan and place over medium heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Whisk in the cocoa and bring the mixture to a simmer. Simmer for 2 minutes, whisking constantly. Remove from heat and transfer to medium bowl. Stir in vanilla and chill in refrigerator 2 hours.

Stir chilled mixture. Add to freezer bowl of ice cream maker and follow the instructions. With the Cuisinart model, let mix til thickened, about 30 minutes.

The sorbet has a soft creamy texture. If a firmer consistency is desired, transfer sorbet to airtight container and place in freezer for 2 hours or more. Best done day ahead.

Makes 14 ½ cup servings.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Seared Ahi Tuna with Roasted Tomatillo Sauce

It’s not the best picture in the world, by far. But it may be one of the best tuna recipes I have ever come across.

And I don’t eat tuna that often. Wild tuna, that is.


I have a love hate relationship with fresh tuna. Sometimes we get along famously. And, famously, sometimes we don’t.

The times we don’t are unimportant.

The times we do are legendary.

And this is one of those times.

Seared Ahi Tuna with Roasted Tomatillo Sauce
Adapted from Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill Cookbook

4 large tomatillos, husked and scrubbed
½ medium red onion, coarsely chopped
3 fat cloves garlic, peeled
A good swirl extra virgin olive oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
1 tbsp medium hot chile powder
1/8 cup red wine vinegar
1 tbsp wild honey
2 tbsp chopped fresh mint
2 6 ounce wild ahi tuna steaks, each about an inch thick

Preheat oven to 400. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and put the tomatillos, onion and garlic on it and swirl the extra virgin olive oil and season with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper. Roast in the oven, stirring once, until the tomatillos are slightly charred and soft, about 25 minutes.

Put the roasted mix in a food processor and add the jalapeno, chile powder, vinegar, honey and mint. Process til smooth and set aside.

Preheat grill pan over high heat or set your grill to high. Brush tuna on both sides with a bit of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Sear the tuna about 3 minutes per side for medium rare. Cook longer if you would like it well done.

To serve, put a spoon of sauce on the plate and layer the slices.

Serves 3.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Ground Pork Burgers with Grilled Pineapple and Green Onion Relish

It’s been a little over a month since we started the new way of eating around here. We’re doing great.
Grilled fish, interesting sauces, smoothies, new salad combinations (watermelon, feta cheese and black pepper..oh my!) and lots and lots of water.

Lots of water.

Did I say that?

There’s still chocolate in our lives and a drink on the weekends, we’re happy and being creative in the kitchen and life is good.

Then the pork craving got us.

And got us good.

I wanted something Asian. Groom wanted a burger. So we compromised. And what used to be a Bobby Flay favorite from Boy Meets Grill took a walk on the wild side and now has become….

Drum roll please…..

Ground Pork Burgers with Grilled Pineapple and Green Onion Relish.

Grilled Pineapple and Green Onion Relish
Adapted from Bobby Flay’s Boy Meets Grill

4 green onions, brushed with olive oil and grilled for about 4 minutes til done on both sides.
1-½ cups overripe pineapple (because it didn’t get into a smoothie like it should), grilled about five minutes
A good swirl extra virgin olive oil
½ jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
½ fresh lime, juiced, seeds removed
1 good squeeze wild honey
1 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

To grill the pineapple, I heated a grill pan on the stove and brushed it with a bit of olive oil. Grill long enough to get grill marks, about 5 minutes.
Slice the green onions, and add to bowl with pineapple and remaining ingredients. Let sit for at least half hour to blend flavors.

Ground Pork Burgers

1 pound lean ground pork
A good swirl of toasted sesame oil
2 tbsp garlic confit (or 2 fat garlic cloves, finely minced)
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp hoisin sauce
1 tsp fish sauce
1tsp soy sauce
Freshly ground black pepper

Combine ingredients and pat out into small burgers. Put on plate, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Grill burgers over medium heat for about four minutes a side. Let sit for five before serving.

Makes 6 small burgers.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Provencal Almond and Anchovy Fish Sauce

Anchovies are one of those things you either love or you hate. Growing up, I said I hated anchovies. Wouldn’t touch them. Made it up in my head that I had eaten them, they had made me sick..couldn’t stand them.

I’m such a drama queen.

Anyway, the discovery of anchovy stuffed olives eased me into the world of the salty little fish.
It has that “je ne sais quoi” of salty flavors. The “ I don’t know why this tastes so good, but give me more of it” thing.

So, with major inspiration from Joyce Goldstein, we grilled a perfect piece of halibut, blanched green beans, steamed Yukon Golds and a few grape tomatoes on the plate, we had a new version of salad Nicoise.

IF you haven’t come over to the anchovy side of life, try this. It will make a convert out of you.

Provencal Almond and Anchovy Fish Sauce
Adapted from Back to Square One by Joyce Goldstein

1 cup sliced almonds, toasted
¾ tsp anchovy paste
1 lemon, juiced
1 tsp red wine vinegar
¾ cup fruity extra virgin olive oil
6 tbsp chopped fresh mint
3 tbsp chopped fennel fronds
Splash of Pernod
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

Combine in bowl and let sit for at least 30 minutes for flavors to blend.

Makes enough for 4-6 fish fillets.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Salmon Salad

What to do with salmon?

The usual?

Grill it and put a sauce on top?

Saute some veggies and put the salmon on top of that?

OR..make a salad.

Not just any salad.

The Salmon Salad.

The origin of this recipe is Bon Appetit magazine of several summers ago..I think, or maybe it was last summer. In that recipe, the salmon is cooked on top of the stove, the ingredients are heated together and thrown together. That worked ok.

But this method works better.

Grill the salmon to perfection.

Should take about seven minutes total on the grill if salmon is skin on. Don’t turn it.

In the meantime, you’ve got fresh squeezed orange and lemon juice, grated orange and lemon peel, Nicoise olives, artichoke hearts, capers, garbanzo beans, pine nuts and a blast of spicy fresh basil and Italian parsley coming together in a large bowl with the secret Feeding Groom ingredient, “O” Meyer Lemon Olive Oil.

Just a good swirl on top with a smidge of salt and freshly ground black pepper.


Summer in a bowl.

The Salmon Salad

One good swirl “O” Meyer Lemon Olive Oil*
2 -5ounce salmon fillets, seasoned with a bit of freshly ground black pepper and lemon juice
1 14 ounce can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup grape tomatoes
1 14 ounce can quartered artichoke hearts, rinsed and drained
¼ cup Nicoise olives
3 tbsp chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 tbsp fresh orange juice
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp capers, drained
1 tbsp grated orange peel
1 tsp grated lemon peel
3 tbsp fresh basil leaves chopped
2 tbsp pine nuts

Grill salmon about 7 minutes…don’t turn if skin on. Let cool about five minutes and flake.

Combine all ingredients in large bowl and let sit about 15 minutes for flavors to blend.

Serves 3 generously.

*If you haven’t tried this line of olive oils, give it a shot. The Meyer Lemon and the Ruby Grapefruit Oils are very special treats for salads just like this one.


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Grilled Chicken with Avocado Tomatillo Salsa

I’ve discussed the well stocked kitchen.

Having jars of wonderful things in your fridge ready at a moments notice to make a fast meal.
Makes life so easy.

Here‘s a typical evening at the Red Brick Ranchero.

Come home from work.

Thaw chicken thighs.

Walk 45 minutes. Come in and find that Costco has called and your new specs are ready. Which is a good thing because you can’t see to cook.

Go pick up glasses.

Come home.

See that precious dog has taken cat food bowl and torn it up because she wanted to go to with you or she wanted the cat food.

Note to self, take dog with you when you go to Costco.

Grab Roasted Pepper Vinaigrette (something you made last week and was so wonderful you know it will rock on the chicken) out of fridge and marinate chicken thighs for thirty minutes.

Start National Treasure 2 on DVD player.

Start grill.

Pause movie.

Chop avocado, tomatillos, squeeze lime, pick cilantro. Start movie. Pause movie.

Grill chicken. Start movie.

Grab lettuce. Pause movie. Bring chicken in.

Chicken on lettuce, drizzle a bit of vinaigrette over chicken. Top with avocado tomatillo salsa.

Light candles. Eat.

Start movie… at the beginning.

Every night should be so easy.

Grilled Chicken with Avocado Tomatillo Salsa
Avocado Tomatillo Salsa
Adapted from Bobby Flay Boy Meets Grill

1 avocado, peeled, pitted, chopped
2 tomatillos, peeled, washed so they’re not sticky, chopped,
Red onion…take a knife and slice paper thin..about 4 small slices and chop.
1/3 cup cilantro, torn
1 lime, squeezed
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Mix well. Makes about 1-½ cups.

4 boneless chicken thighs, marinated in ½ cup Roasted Pepper Vinaigrette. Season with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

Grill til done, takes about 4 minutes per side.

Red leaf lettuce, a couple of pieces per plate.
Put chicken on top of lettuce, a drizzle of the vinaigrette and top with the salsa.

Serves 3 generously.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Gingered Carrot Soup

I am constantly looking for new and different recipes. I read cookbooks and food magazines all the time.

Groom, on the other hand doesn’t have the same feeling about finding a new magazine in the mailbox. He’ll glance through them but the majority of the time he leaves it up to me. He does, however, have an uncanny knack for finding something out of the blue that becomes the new favorite food find.

His latest? A cold soup that is perfect for a quick lunch or as a starter for a light supper.

Or even as a snack.

Creamy, brightly colored with the snap of fresh ginger and the coolness of sweet carrot juice and avocado.

This is such a wonderful combination. It’s best eaten within two days. If you’re lucky enough to have a juicer, make your own fresh carrot juice. If not, or in a pinch, Bolthouse Farms has a fabulous 100% carrot juice that works well in this soup.

Gingered Carrot Soup
Adapted from Gourmet Magazine August 2006

2 7-8 ounce firm ripe California avocados, peeled, pitted and cut in quarters
3 cups fresh carrot juice
Pinch of coarse salt
5 tsp freshly squeezed lime juice
2-1/4 tsp finely grated peeled fresh ginger
Pinch of a good curry powder

Puree all ingredients in blender and chill til ready to serve. Dice another avocado, if you like, and serve on top of soup with a squeeze of fresh lime and a dash of cayenne.

Makes 4 cups.


Friday, June 13, 2008

Lentil Salad with Fresh Mint, Roasted Peppers and Feta Cheese

Well, I’ve done over 100 posts on Feeding Groom and, like so many others that have posted recently, the welcome and the new friends have made such an impact on our lives here at the Red Brick Ranchero.

So has the food.

Groom has now joined the ranks of the medicated for high cholesterol. Is it my fault? Did I pick the wrong foods? I would say no. Well, maybe.

At any rate, in an effort to curb the cholesterol that is running rampant around here, the eating habits and menu choices have undergone a rather drastic change. Red meat is no longer the go-to meal. I’m sure the beef and lamb population is growing by leaps and bounds and pigs are breathing a sigh of relief. Shrimp will become less of an option.

Moderation is the new key to life here, so these foods won’t totally disappear.

They’ll just spend quality time with us.

Here’s a great recipe for Lentil Salad with Fresh Mint, Roasted Peppers and Feta Cheese with is perfect with a beautiful piece of Grilled Steelhead Trout or salmon on top.

Very French, this is.

Very good for you too!

Lentil Salad with Fresh Mint, Roasted Peppers and Feta Cheese
Adapted from The Greens Cookbook by Deborah Madison

1-½ cups small French lentils,
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced into small squares
½ small Vidalia onion, diced
1 bay leaf
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
Good pinch coarse salt
2 large red bell peppers
1 tbsp fresh chopped mint
4 tbsp chopped mixed herbs..I used cilantro, Italian parsley and thyme
Freshly ground black pepper
Sherry vinegar to taste
8 ounces feta cheese
Extra virgin olive oil for garnish
Lemon Vinaigrette

Rinse the lentils, cover them generously with water and bring to boil with carrot, onion, bay leaf, garlic and salt. Simmer til cooked about 25 minutes. They should be tender and still hold their shape. Drain.

While lentils are cooking, roast the peppers over a flame until evenly charred and put in covered bowl to steam for 20 minutes or so. Then scrape off the charred skins with a knife. Don’t rinse under water. Slit open , remove the seed and cut into squares.

Fold vinaigrette into warm lentils. Add mint, herbs and peppers. Taste and season with freshly ground black pepper and salt if needed. Taste again, and this is a great hint..splash a bit of sherry vinegar on the lentils to brighten the flavors. It really works.
Crumble the feta cheese and gently stir into the lentils.
If you have grilled fish, plate on top of the salad and sprinkle a bit more chopped herbs for garnish.

Lemon Vinaigrette

Juice and peel of one large lemon
¼ tsp smoked sweet Spanish paprika
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 tsp garlic confit
Coarse salt to taste
8 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Remove two wide strips of peel from the lemon with a vegetable peeler and slice them into narrow slivers. Put 3 tbsp of lemon juice in a bowl with the lemon peel, paprika, cayenne, garlic and salt. Which in the olive oil and adjust seasoning for tartness, adding more lemon juice or oil, whichever is needed.

Salad serves 4.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Basil, Tomato and Mozzarella Salad with Black Olive Tapenade

Inspiration for lunch can come from anywhere. A food memory. A picture in a magazine.

The light bulb goes off over your head and you go on automatic pilot, pulling things out of the fridge, grabbing the scissors and walking trance like to the garden to cut fresh basil.

Slicing fresh mozzarella, ripe tomatoes and the secret ingredient, Black Olive Tapenade, at the ready.

All of a sudden, you’re sitting down to a combination that makes absolutely perfect sense.

And tastes absolutely perfect.

Basil, Tomato and Mozzarella Salad with Black Olive Tapenade

1 medium round fresh mozzarella, sliced
One large tomato, sliced
Fresh basil leaves
1 large spoonful Black Olive Tapenade

Layer mozzarella, tomato and fresh basil on plate. Season with freshly ground black pepper.
Put spoonful of Black Olive Tapenade on the side and serve with crusty bread.

Serves 2.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Grilled Red Snapper with Roasted Pepper Vinaigrette

It has just about reached the point where it is too hot to cook. It’s the second week in June. According to the weather dude here in Nashvegas, this is the hottest June in sixty years. Great. So for sixty years we have been more comfortable than we are today. I’m am not sure I needed to know this.

What this means is that it is too hot to heat up the kitchen by cooking inside. Today is the perfect day to cook everything outside. Stand over a hot fire, sweat, cook and then go inside to air conditioned comfort and enjoy.

This is the perfect recipe for that.

Grilled red snapper with roasted pepper vinaigrette. I know, I know. I’m crazed for vinaigrette.

But vinaigrette and fish are made for each other.

Like June and heat and grilling.

Grilled Red Snapper with Roasted Pepper Vinaigrette
Liberally adapted from a Bobby Flay recipe

One nice sized piece of red snapper to serve two

Season this with a bit of extra virgin olive oil, fresh squeezed lemon juice, coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper. Grill the snapper 4 -5 minutes per side over medium heat. Have the vinaigrette and plate by the grill. Put fish on plate and immediately top with the vinaigrette while the fish is very hot.

Roasted Pepper Vinaigrette

½ orange or yellow bell pepper, roasted til blackened, cooled, peeled then coarsely chopped
1 thin slice red onion, soaked in ice water for 10 minutes and diced
1 tbsp garlic confit
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp sherry vinegar
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp walnut oil
5 fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 tbsp ground ancho chile powder
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

Combine in medium bowl and let sit and think for about an hour before you grill the fish. This makes 2 cups, but this is wonderful on roasted veggies, salads, a spoon.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Shrimp with Walnuts, Avocado and Toasted Cumin Vinaigrette

Looking for something absolutely divine to change your mind about what’s for dinner?

Don’t want to make too much of a mess but have something worthwhile on your dinner plate that will astound and please your fellow eaters?

You might want to try this one.

Rich, creamy avocado, spritely lemon juice, toasted walnuts with a toasted cumin vinaigrette..a hint of garlic in the dressing combined with crunchy celery, radishes and red onion topped with a quick sautéed shrimp spicy with crushed red pepper on top of crisp cold mixed baby greens.

Oh, baby.

Shrimp with Walnuts, Avocado and Toasted Cumin Vinaigrette

1 cup mixed baby greens
¼ cup Toasted Cumin Vinaigrette*
1 avocado, peeled and cut into chunks
½ cup walnuts, coarsely chopped and toasted
½ cup diced celery
½ cup sliced radishes
2 tbsp finely chopped Spanish red onion, soaked in ice water for 10 minutes and drained
12 large shrimp, 21-25s, tail on
A good swirl extra virgin olive oil
A good shake hot crushed pepper flakes
Freshly ground black pepper

Toss a bit of the dressing on the greens place on salad plate.

Heat a bit of olive oil in large skillet over medium high heat. When oil shimmers, add the shrimp and a good shake of the hot crushed pepper flakes and cook quickly until shrimp turn pink.
Season with freshly ground black pepper.

Mix remaining ingredients together in bowl with just enough dressing to lightly coat the ingredients.
Place on top of greens and give it a good grinding of pepper before serving.

Toasted Cumin Vinaigrette
1-½ tbsp cumin seeds, toasted til fragrant and coarsely ground in spice grinder
2/3 cup fruity olive oil
1/3 cup roasted garlic oil
1 large lemon, juiced
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

Whisk together in bowl and let sit while you prep the salad.

Serves 2 generously.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Romesco Sauce

I love condiments.

Chutneys, drizzles, aioli, all of them.

To make your own condiments is one of the most satisfying parts of cooking. How cool is it to open your refrigerator and grab a bit of your own Tapenade to use a spoonful in a marinade for lamb chops. Or to spoon out a dollop of mango chutney to go alongside chicken korma. Homemade mayonnaise on a summer blt..sublime.

One of our favorites is Romesco, a thick, spicy nut-thickened sauce with origins in Catalonia that absolutely rocks.

Swirl a teaspoon through crème fraiche and top gazpacho. Use as a spread on a wrap filled with shrimp, avocado, tomato and shavings of Manchego. Use it as a marinade, thinned with a bit of olive oil to make chicken thighs dance on the grill. It’s great with ice cold celery sticks as an afternoon snack.

Romesco shines with seafood. A quick marinade of ground cumin, lemon and olive oil seasoned with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper on two beautiful amberjack fillets, grilled to perfection. To serve, spoon a bit of Romesco on the side with a sweet veggie to accompany it, lightly steamed asparagus or sugar snap peas.

Romesco Sauce
Adapted from a recipe by Joyce Goldstein

2 dried ancho chiles
1 cup chopped roasted red peppers
1 cup whole almonds
6 fat cloves garlic, chopped
4 tsp sweet smoked Spanish paprika
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
2 big tbsp sun dried tomato paste
4 tbsp sherry vinegar
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 350.

Put ancho chiles in small saucepan, cover with water. Bring to boil then turn off the heat and let steep for 20 minutes.

When oven is hot, put almonds on baking sheet and put in oven for 10 minutes til toasted. Set aside.

Drain chiles and remove stems and seeds. Coarsely chop and put in bowl. Add peppers.

Put garlic and almonds in food processor and pulse on and off til ground and blended. Add pepper/chile mix, spices, sun dried tomato paste and vinegar. Blend well.

Turn food processor on and slowly add the extra virgin olive oil til mixture emulsifies. Season to taste with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Keep refrigerated and bring to room temperature before serving.

Makes 2 cups.

This will last a month to six weeks in your refrigerator.


Monday, June 2, 2008

Pasta with Zucchini, Tomato and Fresh Herbs

May was a wild month at Chez Feeding Groom. In and out of town, wild work weeks, birthdays, seemed to fly by as fast as gas prices rose. Where does the time go? Weekends seem to be shorter even though the days are getting longer. I turn around and it’s late and I’m starving. Not a good thing to be if you have to make a decision about what to cook for dinner.

Keep it simple.

That’s this pasta dish. Fresh oregano and rosemary. Zucchini sliced on the mandoline, quickly sautéed and a easy tomato sauce combine to make a tasty supper after a day of life in the fast lane.

Pasta with Zucchini, Tomato and Fresh Herbs
Adapted from a recipe by Patricia Wells

A couple of swirls of extra virgin olive oil
5 fat garlic cloves, peeled, smashed and sliced thin
A good shake of hot crushed red peppers
1 medium zucchini, sliced very thin on mandoline
Splash of balsamic vinegar
1 4 inch piece fresh rosemary, coarsely chopped
1 4 inch piece fresh oregano, coarsely chopped
1 14 ounce can crushed San Marzano tomatoes and their juice
Cook pasta for 2-3 people, use what you have on hand..linguine was the choice this time, but rigatoni is wonderful with it as well.

Heat a couple of good swirls of extra virgin olive oil in large cast iron skillet. Add garlic cloves, rosemary, red pepper and a pinch of salt. Cook til garlic is golden about 3 minutes. Don’t let it brown. Add crushed tomatoes and a splash of dry white wine, stir to combine and simmer for about 15 minutes uncovered til it thickens.

In another skillet, heat a one good swirl of extra virgin olive oil and when shimmers add the zucchini and toss til golden. Put in a colander to drain any oil and season with coarsely ground pepper and fresh oregano.

When you’re ready to serve add the drained pasta to the tomato sauce and combine. Then add the zucchini. Cover and let sit over low heat for a few minutes. Serve and enjoy.