Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Celebrate Labor Day with Cuban Pork Burgers

Cuban Burger Flip Burger Boutique Recipe

You have to have burgers at your Labor Day cookout. But who says they have to beef burgers? This Labor Day, end summer with some sizzle and bang, by making Cuban Pork Burgers. Juicy pork patties are smothered with a slew of sensational salty, savory toppings including melty Swiss, crispy bacon, and spicy mojo sauce.

I made them last week. I ate one. Jeff ate one. We fought over the third. I won.

Want the recipe? It's on the Pork, Knife & Spoon blog and is just waiting to be printed by you.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Late Summer Recipe: Orzo with Shrimp, Zucchini, Tomatoes, and Purple Basil

green and purple basil

Which would you choose, the green or purple basil?

I choose the purple every time. Not only is purple basil more alluring with its rich, regal purple leaves, but it's also more robust in flavor. And it's more fun to say. Come on, say it: purple basil. See what I mean?

There's no better time to enjoy purple basil than late summer and early fall. Whether you grow it in your garden or buy it at your farmers' market, you can use purple basil just as you would green basil in pestos, pastas, salads, sandwiches, vegetable sautes, stir-fries, soups, and drinks. Just remember to use less since it's more assertive than green basil.

So next time you've got the choice, go with purple basil. You'll smile all the way to your kitchen.

orzo with shrimp, zucchini, tomatoes, and purple basil

Orzo with Shrimp, Zucchini, Tomatoes, and Purple Basil
Purple basil is an intensely flavorful and colorful variety of basil. It's available at farmers' markets and some specialty grocery stores. If you can't find it, then substitute equal amounts of Thai basil or a larger amount of regular green basil.

Makes 4 servings
Printable recipe.

1/2 cup uncooked orzo
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small garlic clove, minced
16 extra large shrimp, peeled and de-veined
1 cup zucchini, sliced into thin rounds, then sliced in half
2 tablespoons dry white wine
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Zest of 1/2 lemon (about 1 to 2 teaspoons)
1 cup halved cherry or grape tomatoes
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1-2 tablespoons thinly sliced purple basil

1. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Cook orzo according to package directions until al dente. Drain.

2. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add garlic, stirring about 1 minute, until fragrant. Add shrimp, and cook until they turn bright red and the meat is opaque. Add zucchini and cook about 5 minutes, until softened and lightly browned in spots. Add wine and lemon juice, and lower the heat to medium. Add lemon zest, tomatoes, and salt and pepper. Taste it, and adjust seasonings as necessary. Add to the cooked orzo and toss well. Gently stir in the purple basil saving a few of the slices for garnish.

Variation: Use chicken or tofu in place of the shrimp.

You might also enjoy these purple basil recipes:
Purple Basil Vinegar recipe from Local Kitchen
Purple Basil Lemonade recipe from Bird Food
Purple Basil Pesto recipe from Farm Girl Fare
Blackberry Purple Basil Pielets recipe from Biscuits & Such
Blueberry Tea Cake with Purple Basil, Lemon Thyme, and Lavender recipe by Barefoot Kitchen Witch

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Baked California White Sea Bass with Minted Zucchini, Corn, and Tomatoes

Baked California White Sea Bass with Sauteed Zucchini, Corn, and Tomatoes

I thought I knew my white fish -- cod, sole, halibut, tilapia, etc. That is until a couple of months ago when I met California White Sea Bass. Now nothing else seems as worthy. OK, except for the halibut I bought recently. That was amazing.

What makes California White Sea Bass so good? It's a satisfyingly thick, meaty fish with a pure, mild flavor. It's ideal for baking, pan searing, and grilling since it won't fall apart and can withstand all types of chunky salsas that are tossed on top of it.

Like I did with the halibut, I bought my California White Sea Bass from Tommy Gomes at Catalina Offshore Products in San Diego, purveyor of fine, fresh, locally caught seafood. If you don't live in San Diego or along the West Coast, consider shopping online for California White Sea Bass. And don't feel guilty about eating it: The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch lists it as a "best choice" fish.

There may be other perfectly tasty white fish out there I haven't met yet, but I don't care. My California White Sea Bass and me, we're getting along just fine.

Baked California White Sea Bass with Minted Zucchini, Corn, and Tomatoes
Makes 4 servings
Printable recipe.

Sea Bass:
1 pound California white sea bass (or other sea bass), cut into 4 equal pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
A generous sprinkling of salt and black pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
1 medium zucchini, sliced into half moons
1 large ear of sweet corn, kernels cut off
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
The zest and juice of 1 lemon
Several shakes of salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint leaves, plus a few for garnish

Serve with lemon wedges and extra virgin olive oil.

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Rub 1/2 tablespoon olive oil on the inside of a baking dish. Sprinkle fish with salt and black pepper, and place in the dish; drizzle with remaining 1/2 tablespoon olive oil. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes. Test for doneness with a fork; the meat should be opaque. If it's not, then cook for another 3 to 5 minutes and check again.

2. To cook the vegetables, warm olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add onions and saute 8 to 10 minutes or until translucent and browned in spots. Add the zucchini and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until just softened and a few brown spots appear. Add the corn and cook 3 minutes until just softened. Add the tomatoes, lemon juice and zest, and salt and pepper. Cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in the fresh mint. Divide the vegetables evenly among four plates, and top each with a sea bass filet. Lightly drizzle each filet with a little extra virgin olive oil, and garnish with fresh mint. Serve with lemon wedges.

You might also enjoy these sea bass and other white fish recipes:
Honeyed White Seabass Greek Style recipe from Hank Shaw at
Seared Sea Bass and Date-Bacon-Sherry Broth recipe from What We're Eating
Kona Kampachi with Meyer-Lemon Thyme Butter recipe from Food Blogga
Healthy Baked Halibut Tacos with Pineapple-Tomatillo Salsa recipe from Food Blogga
Miso Glazed Sea Bass w Asian Beans & Pickled Cucumbers recipe from Sippity Sup

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Manly Salads: Carne Asada Salad

carne asada salad

Pink, flowers, frills, salad. Which one of these doesn't belong?

For some reason we always attribute salad as a feminine dish. It shouldn't be. Granted, you don't want to go on your first date with a guy and have him order just a salad. That would be weird, unless it's a "man salad" like this carne asada salad made with steak. You see, a "man's salad" must have at least one muscular protein such as bacon or steak; seafood is allowed only if it's blackened or grilled; sorry, no exceptions. It must have lots of manly, that is, tasty, hi-cal toppings, such as cheese, avocado, tortilla chips, and diced ham. Dressings must be full-fat and creamy like ranch or blue cheese; if it's a vinaigrette, make sure it's spicy and has some heat. Hey, I don't make the rules, I just report them.

How about you? Got any manly salads that your guy likes and isn't embarrassed to eat?

Carne Asada Salad
Makes 4 servings
Printable recipe.

Don't worry. The ingredient list is long, but this Mexican salad is easy to make. For a speedier version, buy marinated carne asada which is available at Mexican speciality markets and most major supermarkets. You can also use bottled salsa in place of the homemade pico de gallo.

Steak and Marinade:
1 1/2 pounds flank steak
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon ancho chile powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
Several shakes of salt
The juice of 1 lime
1/4 cup olive oil

Pico de Gallo:
4 plum or 2 medium regular tomatoes, diced
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1 small jalapeno, finely chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
The juice of 1/2 lime
Several shakes of salt

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
The juice of 1 lime
1/2 teaspoon cumin
Several shakes of salt

1 large head Romaine lettuce, chopped
1/2 cucumber, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 cup chopped jicama

Serve with any of the following:
Sliced red onions, sliced ripe avocado sprinkled with lime, roasted pepita or sunflower seeds, toasted tortilla strips, shredded Cheddar cheese, crumbled Mexican cotija cheese, sour cream

1. In a small bowl, combine marinade ingredients. Place steak in a Ziploc bag or tightly covered dish and cover with marinade, turning until coated. Marinate in refrigerator for a minimum of 1 hour or up to 4 hours.

2. For the pico de gallo, combine all ingredients in a small bowl; toss well and set aside. The earlier you make this, the more flavorful it will be.

3. For the vinaigrette, whisk all ingredients in a small bowl and set aside. For the salad, combine all ingredients in a large bowl.

4. Before cooking the steak, let it rest on the counter for 10 minutes. Preheat grill to medium-high. If you don't have a grill, then use a grill pan on the stovetop or other large, heavy bottomed pan over high heat. Grill the steak for 2 to 3 minutes per side, until charred on the outside yet still pink and tender on the inside. Let rest for 5 minutes before slicing against the grain.

5. To assemble: Pour vinaigrette over salad and toss well. Divide evenly among four plates. Top each with 1/4 of the steak and 1/4 of the pico de gallo and any other toppings of your choice. Serve immediately.

You might also enjoy these manly salad recipes: 
Grilled Shrimp and Avocado Salad recipe from Food Blogga
Southwest BBQ Chicken Salad recipe from Mommy, I'm Hungry!
Honey Mustard Pork Salad recipe from Black Girl Chef's Whites
Chipotle Barbecue Bean and Corn Salad recipe from Food Blogga
Maple Glazed Steak Salad with Blue Cheese recipe from Food For My Family

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Attention Prosciutto Lovers: Awesome Give-Away at the Pork, Knife & Spoon Blog!

A few weeks ago I mentioned that I was writing a blog for the Pork Board called Pork, Knife & Spoon. It has been heavenly hoggy. For example, today's post is all about prosciutto, that slightly salty, sweet, melt-in-your-mouth Italian ham.

It includes an interview with ham-lover Mark Scarbrough, co-author (with his partner Bruce Weinstein), of the informative and humorous cookbook, Ham: An Obsession with the Hindquarter.

And a recipe for Chicken Saltimbocca -- yes, that's prosciutto wrapped chicken.

And an awesome give-away! 5 lucky readers will each receive a copy of Ham: An Obsession with the Hindquarter!

Here's how to enter the give-away:

Go to the Pork, Knife & Spoon blog.

Leave your comment on the post entitled, "Prosciutto 101 and Cookbook Give-Away for Ham: An Obsession with the Hindquarter" telling me why you'd like to win the book.

Just between you and me, if you FedEx me a prosciutto and arugula pizza with an extra crispy crust, the book is yours.

Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons, Rubber Slippers in Italy.