Roasted Corn and Tomato Salad

Yet again, I have let far too many days slip past me without checking in and sharing a new recipe. Sigh. For those of you that do not know me, I work at an art college managing a graduate design program. With the first day of classes fast approaching, it is an understatement to say I am totally zonked at the end of the day and am very much in need of no time spent in front of a computer.

Excuses, I agree, but valid if you ask me.

Like I said, each day that passes gets me closer to the hum of eager grad students marching through the halls… with lots of questions for their program manager, so, it only seemed appropriate that I whip up a dish that screams, “IT’S STILL SUMMER!!!!” And until the last coals on the barbeque go cold this Labor Day, it is in fact, STILL summer. So, make this for the final BBQ of the season and take joy in the simple and robust flavors of these seasonal ingredients.

Sweet roasted corn, fresh vibrant tomatoes that are as close to perfection as it gets, tangy lime juice, and a snap of cilantro give this dish a refreshing lightness that will stand out on a plate next to any large chuck of grilled protein. Whatever it might be… fish, chicken, beef… this corn and tomato salad will be the perfect compliment.

Close your eyes, take a bite and breath in those last wisps on summer air, because any minute now, you’ll notice that the wind feels cooler and realize it’s time to dig those wool sweaters out of the depths of your dresser.

Fall is almost here, but for now, I going to just enjoy those long sunlight evenings.

Makes 4 servings

4 ears corn on the cob, in the husks
1/2 pint cherry or mini heirloom tomatoes, halved or quartered
The juice of 1 lime
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2-3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the corn in its husks directly on the oven rack and roast until the corn is soft when you press on it, 30 to 40 minutes.

Peel down the husks and cut corn kernels from the cob with a sharp knife. Combine corn, tomatoes, lime juice and cilantro in a bowl. Dress with olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve and enjoy!

Pan Seared Salmon with Lime Butter Sauce

I know… I’ve been away. I wish I had a better explanation for you than not being particularly inspired by any recipes as of late, but alas, sometimes it’s just easier to eat out or turn to trusted house favorites during busy weeks. Last night we broke our runt with a damn tasty meal that caused a fiesta in my mouth. Yes, I am serious… a fiesta.

If you have not noticed, we like salmon. So much so, that we often cook the same recipe over and over again. I decided it was time for a new twist on this staple fish and low and behold, folks, we have found another winner! Perfect for a light summer meal, this smoked paprika coated salmon was earthly, moist and jam packed with flavor. Topped with a lovely lime “butter” emulsified sauce (I substituted olive oil in place of an entire stick of butter), the smokiness of the fish balanced perfectly against the tart zing of the drizzled sauce. Paired with a refreshing roasted corn and tomato salad (recipe coming soon) and grilled asparagus, this effortless meal whipped up in no time, but your guests don’t have to know that!

With Fall rapidly approaching, it’s time to squeeze in as many last minute summer meals as possible. Before you know it… I will be talking about pumpkin bread!

Makes 6 servings

Lime Butter Sauce

1 large garlic clove, chopped
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted or 1/2 cup olive oil (I went with the lighter option and it was delicious)

Salmon

6 (6-oz) pieces center-cut salmon fillet (about 1 inch thick) with skin
2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
3 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated fresh lime zest

To make the lime butter, purée garlic with lime juice, salt, and pepper in a blender until smooth. With motor running, add melted butter and blend until emulsified, about 30 seconds.

*Note: Lime butter sauce can be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered. Stir before using.

To make the Salmon, warm the olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over high heat. Season the salmon pieces with paprika, salt and pepper. Sear the skin side down, about 3 to 4 minutes on the first side. Flip the fish and continue cooking until medium-rare, about 2 to 3 minutes more depending on the thickness of the fish. Sprinkle fillets with zest and top each with 1 tablespoon lime butter sauce.

Pickled Red Onions

As it turns out, pickling food can be rather simple! If you are anything like me, you too must love the vinegary snap of a freshly pickled red onion on tacos, salads, sandwiches, mole…. the list goes on and on. So with my first gander into the art of pickling, this was the end product… crisp red onions mingling with the flavors of allspice, cloves, bay leaves and dried chilies.

Eggs and pickled red onions should be the name of a Dr. Suess book since they really are a match made in heaven. Go on… put them on anything. Everything. Or just dig into the jar with your grubby little fingers and enjoy the sweet tartness of this vibrant and tasty magic meal sprucer upper.

3/4 cup white vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar
pinch of salt
1 bay leaf
5 allspice berries
5 whole cloves
a small, dried chile pepper
1 large red onion, peeled, and thinly sliced into half moons

In a small, non-reactive saucepan, heat the vinegar, sugar, salt, seasonings and chile until boiling. Add the onion slices and lower heat, then simmer gently for 30 seconds. Remove from heat and let cool completely. Transfer the onions and the liquid into a jar then refrigerate until ready to use.

*Storage: The onions will keep for several months.

Pork Lettuce Wraps with Ginger Dipping Sauce

In an attempt to get healthy (and perhaps wedding dress ready), Judd and I decided to temporarily cut flour and grains out of our diet. Now relax… I said it was temporary. Quietly missing our sandwiches and rice side dishes, we surged foreward and have been pleasantly surprised by the deliciousness of our carb-less dinners.

Everyone has eaten a lettuce wrap of some sort before… I’m guessing. These flavor packed pork fillings are amazing wrapped up or simply just gobbled down on their own. Marinated in duck sauce for sweetness, hoisin sauce (or as my chinese friend calls it, “the white person’s BBQ sauce”), and sriracha for a zap of heat, the cooked meat crisps ever so slightly under this saucey glaze. Paired with the freshness of chopped carrot, red pepper, cilantro and scallions, these wraps are almost perfect…

Enter the dipping sauce. Easy to whip up and seriously tasty, this soy sauce, sesame oil, vinegar, scallion and ginger root sauce is salty, nutty and spicy. Pour a spoonful over the pork and veggies and you’ve got yourself one hell of a dinner!

Starch, you are delicious, but…. it turns out veggies and protein can live without you.

Makes 4-8 appetizer portions; 2-4 dinner portions

1 tablespoon duck sauce
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon sriracha hot sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 scallion, trimmed and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
2 pounds thin-cut pork chops, pounded to 1/8-inch thickness
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 heads butter lettuce, leaves separated
1/2 bunch cilantro, washed and leaves separated
3 carrots, shredded or julienne (3 cups)
1 cucumbers, cut into 3-inch matchsticks
1/2 red pepper, cut into 3-inch matchsticks

Make the ginger sauce by whisking together the soy sauce, vinegar, water, sesame oil, scallion, and ginger. Set aside.

Heat broiler to high. Brush both sides of the pork chops with the olive oil, duck sauce, hoisin and sriracha, sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Let sit for 10 minutes. Broil 2 minutes on each side. Cool and slice thinly.

Arrange the lettuce leaves on a platter and fill each with some cilantro, carrots, scallions, cucumbers, red peppers and sliced pork. To eat, drizzle with the ginger sauce and roll the lettuce leaves to close. Serve with plenty of napkins.

Roasted Pork Chops & Peaches

It’s Springtime! How do I know? Well, Cadbury Creme Eggs are abundant (even though I have yet to eat one this season), we have an hour more sunshine each night and most importantly… fruits and vegetables are bright, fragrant and oh so delicious!

Last year I stumbled upon this super easy pork chop and peaches recipe and was instantly hooked. I’ll be the first to admit, I was shocked to find how flavorful and juicy 2 little peaches could become when cooked alongside seared salty meat. Shopping at the market last week, Judd and I spied ripe peaches across the produce section that upon closer inspection, smelled of summertime. Naturally, we sniffed the pile for the ripest of the ripe and headed to the butcher for some thick cuts of pork.

Making this tasty meal simply couldn’t be easier. Savory piggy cooked in a skillet until both sides are brown and crispy. Peach and red onion wedges sautéed in meat drippings and white wine vinegar until they soften and create… you got it, more juice. The combination of pork, fruit and onion balanced atop your fork is enough to make even Punxsutawney Phil beg for an early spring every year! (Wow, I’m a huge nerd).

We gobbled up our pork and peaches with a side of Judd’s ever so tasty Sautéed Brussels Sprouts (recipe link coming soon) and a side of couscous. Open some chilled white wine and dig in!

Makes 4 servings

1 10-ounce package couscous
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 pork chops (3/4 inch thick; about 2 pounds total)
kosher salt and black pepper
2 peaches, cut into wedges
1 small red onion, cut into thin wedges
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves (optional)

Heat oven to 400° F. Cook the couscous according to the package directions.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Season the pork with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper and cook until browned, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.

Add the peaches, onion, vinegar, and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper to the skillet and cook, tossing, for 1 minute. Return the pork (and any accumulated juices) to the skillet. Transfer to oven and roast until the pork is cooked through and the peaches are tender, 8 to 10 minutes.

Sprinkle pork chops and peaches with basil (if you’ve got it). Serve with the couscous.

Honey-Soy Glazed Salmon with Chard and Peppers

During the week, I am all about easy and delicious dinners. After stumbling upon this recipe I was intrigued by the minimal number of ingredients and insanely short cooking time. Dinner on the table in less than 30 minutes? And without the annoying advice of Rachel Ray? Impossible.

Turns out I was mistaken. This dish whips up in no time and has become one of my favorite ways to enjoy salmon. The tamari and honey infuse the fish with a salty sweetness that is hard to describe. Paired with the slightly bitter chard (spinach works wonderfully here as well) and sweet red peppers, the flavors are a perfect balance when you get a little of everything on your fork. If you are ever at a loss of how to impress at a dinner party, I recommend this elegant and simple dish.

For as easy as this dish is to make, you will be blown away by the depth of flavors you’ll find dancing in your mouth!

Makes 2-4 servings

2 tablespoon honey
4 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce or tamari
1 salmon fillet (1 1/4-pound piece), cut into 4 pieces
kosher salt and black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
3 bunches swiss/rainbow chard or spinach, thick stems removed (about 12 cups)
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

Heat broiler. In a small bowl, combine the honey and 2 teaspoon of the soy sauce. Place the salmon on a foil-lined broiler-proof baking sheet and season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper. Broil for 5 minutes. Spoon the honey mixture over the salmon and broil until the salmon is opaque throughout, about 10-15 minutes more.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bell pepper and cook, tossing occasionally, until just tender, 3 to 4 minutes; stir in the ginger, cook until fragrant. Add the spinach and a pinch of salt and cook, tossing, until just wilted, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons of soy sauce. Serve with the salmon and sprinkle with the sesame seeds.