Friday, February 26, 2016

Honey Balsamic Salmon over Arugula

The sweet and tangy honey mustard mixture does double duty as a marinade and a salad dressing making this meal even easier to get on the table.
recipe developed for Baker's Joy
photography by Paul Gelsobello Studio
Food Stylist: Cathy Paukner
Prop Stylist: Heather Bean
Serves: 4
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes

1 can Chef’s Joy Butter Flavor Non-stick Cooking Spray
4 salmon fillets (about 4 oz. each)
3 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1-1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste
12 cups arugula

Season salmon with salt and pepper, if desired.  Combine honey, vinegar and mustard.  Remove 2 tablespoons mixture and toss with arugula.  Coat salmon with remaining honey mixture and let stand 30 minutes.

Spray 12-inch skillet with Chef's Joy spray and heat skillet over medium heat.    Remove salmon from honey mixture and cook 8 minutes, turning once, or until salmon is desired doneness.  Serve salmon over arugula.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Margaritas and Guacamole ~ Let's get this party started!

I never go anywhere without bringing a bowl of guacamole..It's one of my most requested dishes and it's incredibly easy to make, but no one seems to realize how easy it is.  There are two secrets to great guac. The first is simplicity - the fewer ingredients the better. The second, is using perfectly ripe avocados.  And this is where, I realized, people get intimidated.  They don't know how to choose them, they don't know when they're ripe and they don't know what to do with them when they get them home.

I was recently at a dinner dance when a friend of mine was talking about the great avocado salad at the little Mexican taqueria in our neighborhood.  She said "I know I could make it myself, but I don't want to have to peel an avocado."  So I proceeded to pick up my dinner roll and demonstrate exactly how easy it is to work an avocado.  Fortunately, there are real avocados in the pictures below!

Lesson 1~ Everything you wanted to know about avocado's but were afraid to ask.

I prefer to use Haas avocados.  These are the smaller ones that are very dark green to black in color with a somewhat bumpy skin.

When buying avocados, look for avocados that have the stem intact.
You also need to know when you plan to use them.  Avocado's don't ripen until after they are picked, so if you won't use them for a few days, buy them when they're very hard, like a rock.  Then leave them on your kitchen counter until they ripen.   As they ripen, the flesh softens.  To test for ripeness, press gently on the skin.  Avocado's are ripe when they yield to gentle pressure.  (Tidbit: Make a very tight fist, with your other hand, press gently on the flesh part between your thumb and forefinger...that is about the same give that a ripe avocado will have.)  Once ripe, avocados should be used right away or stored in the refrigerator and used within in a day or two.

Grip the avocado gently with one hand.  With a large knife, cut the avocado lengthwise, bringing the knife around the avocado, to cut around the pit.  Hold cuts sides in each hand and gently twist.  The two sides will separate.  To remove the pit hold the avocado half in your hand and gently but firmly tap the pit with your knife so the blade of the knife wedges firmly into it.  Twist the knife to loosen the pit, remove and discard. (Tidbit:  If the pit sticks to the knife, rap the base of the knife on the edge of a plastic bowl and the pit should fall right off.)

Once avocados are halved and seeded you can slice, dice or mash, depending on what you're making.  An easy way to remove the flesh is to run a spoon between the flesh and the skin to separate. Now you're ready to make the Guac.

Classic Guacamole

6 ripe Haas avocados, halved pitted and smashed
1 large ripe tomato, finely chopped
4 to 6 cloves garlic, pressed or finely chopped
lime juice (1 half or whole lime) to taste
Kosher or regular salt (about 1/2 to 1 tsp)
2 to 4 Tbsp fresh chopped cilantro

Combine all ingredients...serve with chips and tequila!
 That's it!
(Tidbit: To easily smash avocados use a large fork or a pastry blender.)

Nothing goes better with Guac than a margarita.  Just as with guacamole, simple quality ingredients make the best margarita.  Serve them on the rocks or straight up.

Classic Margarita

2 ounces Petron, Don Julio or other good quality tequila
1 ounce Cointreau
3/4 ounce lime juice
Rub lime wedge around rim of glass and dip in coarse salt to coat.

Combine all ingredients and pour over ice or shake and and strain into margarita or martini glasses.  Garnish with lime wedges.

(Tidbit:  Make the Margarita's first so you can enjoy them while your making the Guac!)

Loaded Gouda & Chorizo Nachos

If you're still thinking about what to serve for Super Bowl, these nachos are quick and easy to whip up and oh so delicious!  Gouda and chorizo step it up a notch.  Serve with your favorite toppings and lots of hot sauce!
Recipe developed for Beemster

Serves: 6
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes

10 cups tortilla chips
2 cups shredded Beemster Vlaskaas Gouda
1 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup chopped cooked chorizo
1 cup shredded lettuce
1 cup chopped tomato
3 green onions, chopped

Preheat oven to 425°F.  Spread tortilla chips evenly over large baking sheet.  Evenly top with Beemster.

Bake 5 minutes or until Beemster is melted.  Top with beans, chorizo, lettuce, tomato and green onions.