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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Mediterranean Salmon

Fresh - Fast - Fabulous!  This salmon recipe is a definite keeper.  We should be eating at least 2 servings of salmon each week to load up on the omega 3's!

6 salmon fillets, boneless, skinless, 5-6 oz. each
Extra-virgin olive oil, for basting
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
8 Tbs. chopped fresh basil
2 Tbs. chopped Italian parsley
3 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 Tbs. freshly squeezed lemon juice
Zest of ½ lemon
6 thin lemon slices
8 green olives, sliced

Serves 6

Prepare a hot fire in a charcoal grill or heat a gas grill, broiler or grill pan. Away from the heat source, lightly coat the grill rack, broiler pan or grill pan with non-stick cooking spray. If using a grill or broiler, position the cooking rack 4 to 6 inches from the heat source. Brush salmon fillets with olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper. In a small bowl, combine the basil, parsley, garlic, lemon juice and lemon zest. Top each fillet with equal amounts of the fresh herb mixture. Place the fish herb-side down on the grill. Grill over medium high heat. When the edges turn white, after about 3 to 4 minutes, turn the fish over and reduce heat or move to a cooler part of the grill. Grill until the fillets are opaque throughout and very fork-tender. (Instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the fish reads 145 F) Garnish cooked fillets with green olives and lemon slices. Serve at once.

Now You're Cookin',
Chef Alli

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Build-Your-Own Quesadilla Bar

Your friends and family will love it when you set up a quesadilla bar for them. It's fun, simple and gives everyone the opportunity to customize their own quesadilla to their liking.  AND, it's a great way to feed a family in a hurry.

Quesadilla Bar Set Up:
1.  If you are cooking quesadillas for several people, give everyone their own paper plate and ask them to put their name on the plate with a marker. 
2.  Place your selection of quesadilla filling ingredients and toppings into individual bowls and set in an area that is easy for your guests/family to access as they create their quesadillas. 
3.  Set up your cooking station (I often use my butane burner, set up on my bar area because there is alot of space here).  You will need a grill pan or large skillet, nonstick spray or butter, and tongs for flipping. Preheat your pan over medium high heat to be good and hot for cooking the quesadillas.  Getting that nice, crispy exterior with a little browning really adds to the flavor!
4.  As your guests bring you their plates with their quesadilla creations, place their quesadillas 2-3 at a time (depending on how big your grill pan or skillet is) onto the grill pan.  Be sure to place the quesadillas onto the grill pan in the same position you have placed their empty plates next to your cooking station so that you will know which quesadilla returns to each plate/owner. 

Tips for making GREAT Quesadillas:
  • Put cheese onto the tortilla as the first ingredient - this will act as your "glue" to hold quesadilla ingredients inside tortilla.
  • Don't overfill your quesadilla - quesadillas that are too fat lose their ingredients when flipped in the pan.
  • Use your imagination for great flavor combinations - be adventurous!
  • A pizza cutter works quickly and easily when cutting quesadillas into wedges for easier handling.

Cooking Quesadillas:
1. If you are making quesadillas as-you-go, (meaning not assembled ahead by guests/family as above), place your buttered tortilla onto a preheated grill pan over medium high heat. 
2. Sprinkle shredded cheese onto the tortilla as your first ingredient; now top cheese with desired filling ingredients, placing these on only one half of the tortilla.  Fold tortilla over ingredients; cook until hot throughout and exterior is golden brown and crispy.
3. Top warm quesadilla with your favorite toppings and enjoy at once.

Suggested Ingredients:
Use what's readily available in your fridge!  All meats must be fully cooked:

Chicken - Shredded Pork -  Ham - Shrimp - Sausage - Roast Beef - Cheddar Cheese - Pepper Jack Cheese - Mozzarella  Cheese - Feta Crumbles - Goat Cheese - Sliced Olives - Black Beans - Sweet Bell Peppers - Diced Tomatoes - Artichoke Hearts - Jalapenos - Green Chilies - Avocado - Salsas

Caramelized Onions - The Bomb!
If you want to take your quesadillas over the top, add caramelized onions as an ingredient - your guests will go crazy over this!  Here's how to make 'em:

In a large skillet over medium high heat, place 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil.  When oil is hot, add 4-5 yellow onions that have been sliced. (Your skillet will be piled high with onions!) Drizzle onions with 1 Tbs. good balsamic vinegar, 2 Tbs. brown sugar and 1/3-1/2 cup red wine.  Toss to combine all ingredients.  Cover pan and reduce heat to medium, cooking for 20-25 minutes or until onions have softened and begin to absorb liquids.  Remove lid and let onions continue to cook until caramelized and very tender.

Your options for quesadillas are endless - have fun with it.  How about DESSERT quesadillas soon?

Now You're Cookin',
Chef Alli

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Honey, Raisin and Pecan French Toast

4 large eggs
½ cup skim milk
½ tsp. vanilla extract
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
4 one-inch-thick slices Hy-Vee Baking Stone Honey Raisin and Pecan Bread
1 Tbs. unsalted butter
Powdered sugar, pure maple syrup, fresh berries, for garnish

In a shallow bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, vanilla and cinnamon; add bread slices and let stand about 1 minute on each side. Melt butter in a large non-stick pan or griddle over medium heat. Cook prepared bread slices on each side until golden brown, about 4 minutes per side. To serve, sprinkle with powdered sugar, drizzle with maple syrup and garnish with fresh berries.

Happy Mother's Day,
Chef Alli