Monthly Archives: June 2014

A Summer Side – Chocolate Mint Couscous

One of the greatest scents of summer is the fragrance of fresh herbs.  I use many of the herbs in my small garden nearly every day – basil in a Caprese salad, sorrel in scrambled eggs and thyme and sage in roasted potatoes.  The chocolate mint, with its clean aroma, presents more of a challenge.  However, last night’s dinner of lamb tenderloin demanded the mint.

Herbs

Rather than use the mint in a sauce for the lamb, I decided to incorporate it in a couscous.  First, I roughly chopped three sprigs of mint leaves and shelled and roughly chopped a handful of salted pistachios.

Pistachios

Then, I brought 1 1/4 cups of water to a boil and added 1 cup of whole wheat pearl couscous.  I stirred the couscous periodically and added one tablespoon of butter, a dash of turmeric and salt and pepper to taste.  When the couscous was just about cooked (after 8 minutes), I stirred in the pistachios and mint.  The saltiness of the pistachios was an excellent complement to the subtle chocolate flavor of the mint.  The color was also vibrant and summery.

Consider serving this couscous alongside a lamb dish, as I did with the lamb tenderloin marinated in olive oil, cumin, coriander, salt and pepper.  Make a little extra for the next day, as I found it to be a tasty addition to an antipasto lunch of prosciutto and cheeses.

Couscous

Heat Up the Kitchen with a Shrimp Fra Diavolo

If you’re in the mood for a seafood dish with a kick, I recommend a Shrimp Fra Diavolo.  It is a simple preparation yet an interesting alternative to a regular marinara sauce.

Begin by heading to your local seafood market for jumbo shrimp (I suggest four per person).  Then select your pasta.  This weekend I found an excellent egg pasta made in Italy by Bartolini called “Cirioline All’Uovo”.  The package contains eight nests of long squared pasta, adding more surface area for the sauce to adhere, and two nests per person seems to be the perfect amount to allow for seconds.

After you clean the shrimp, prepare what I refer to as a “fast sauce”.  This involves slicing three cloves of garlic and sautéing the garlic in olive oil.  Do this in a sauté pan that has a lid, and then add a box of Pomi chopped tomatoes.  Add salt to taste and stir.

The “Fra Diavolo” begins by adding several dashes of red paper flakes as well as a dried chili pepper.  Also include fresh herbs, such as basil and/or oregano.  (I am growing a hot and spicy oregano plant, which was an ideal pairing!)  When the sauce comes to a boil, reduce the heat to simmer and cover.

Sauce

While preparing the sauce, bring a large pot of water to a boil.  As the water comes to a boil, add a pinch of salt and then the pasta.  Stir the pasta periodically.  When about six minutes remain to cook the pasta, add the cleaned shrimp to the sauce.  Adjust the heat to medium and cover.  Turn the shrimp once while cooking so that each side becomes opaque.  This will take about three minutes per side.

Drain the pasta and add it to the sauté pan, tossing it with the shrimp and sauce.  Serve the Shrimp Fra Diavolo in pasta bowls…with extra red pepper on the side.

Final Sauce

 

Easter Egg Radishes in the Summer?

I spotted my favorite root vegetable at a local farmers’ market this morning – Easter Egg Radishes.  The mix of red, pink, white and purple radishes, while smaller in size, stand up to the pepperiness of the larger red variety.

In fact, I prefer Easter Egg Radishes when serving them the French way.  Slice off the roots and the top greens, and arrange the brightly colored radishes on a flat serving dish.   Accompany with French sea salt and a ramekin of room temperature French butter.  Enjoy by placing a touch of butter and then a pinch of salt atop each radish.  This is a light yet tasty hors d’oeuvre, perfect for the hot summer months.

Do not discard the tops! Rather, consider sautéing the leafy greens as a side dish.

Radishes

 

 

Delaware’s Bar at the Grill

Enjoy some recipes for the grill in my June issue of The Judicial Palate.

Delaware’s Bar at the Grill

This article originally appeared in the June 2014 issue of The Journal of the Delaware State Bar Association, a publication of the Delaware State Bar Association. Copyright © Delaware State Bar Association 2014.  All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.

 

Time for Edible Flowers

Now that June is upon us, you are likely working on your gardens.   Herb garden or flower garden? Hanging baskets or clay pots?

In addition to using flowers to decorate your outdoor living space, consider bringing edible flowers into your kitchen to garnish dishes from main courses to desserts.  Try some nasturtium to brighten a salad or lavender to enhance the flavor of a dessert.

One of my favorite ways to use edible flowers is to add them to a gnocchi brodo just as the ricotta gnocchi float to the top of a boiling chicken stock.  Marigolds and day lilies provide bright, warm colors and an interesting texture to this soup.

flowers

I will have to wait until later this summer for my favorite garnish to a gnocchi brodo – zucchini blossoms.  Simply slice the blossoms into strips and stir them into the brodo for their distinct flavor and color.

RSCN2073So, head to your local gourmet market for a package of edible flowers or, better yet, plant some of your own to have on hand for your summer cooking!