Tag Archives: Garlic

Salsa di Noce (Walnut Sauce)

This week I hosted book club and was happy to share the food love. For inspiration, I turned to one of my newer cookbooks, Cucina Ebraica: Flavors of the Italian Jewish Kitchen by Joyce Goldstein.  I have been eyeing the Salsa di Noce recipe for several weeks, not sure how to use this scrumptious sauce.  It is a combination of Italian salsa verde (see emmycooks for a tasty version) and a Sephardic nut sauce, and is full of flavor.  The author describes it as “fragrant and voluptuous” – anytime the word voluptuous is used to describe food you know it has to be good. Judging by the almost empty bowl at book club, I think it was a hit. Toasted, chopped walnuts are combined with fruity olive oil, parsley, garlic, hard-boiled egg yolks, kalamata olives and capers to create a flavorful and rich sauce that is worthy of spooning on anything.  For book club I served it with roasted carrots, parsnips and potatoes along with some hard-boiled eggs.  The Salsa di Noce would make a seared halibut filet very happy as well.  Or use it as a tapenade on a pan bagnat sandwich (see bobvivant for her recipe adaptation).  The recipe makes a generous 2 cups, but for two foodies I would recommend reducing the recipe by half as a little goes a long way.

Now I have something to nosh on while reading our next book club selection – maybe I’ll add some crusty bread with the Salsa di Noce along with a glass of wine….all the makings for a happy foodie! 

Eat well and share the love!

Salsa di Noce (Walnut Sauce)
By Joyce Goldstein
Cucina Ebraica: Flavors of the Italian Jewish Kitchen
Makes about 2 cups

3 hard-boiled egg yolks, chopped
1 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
3/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 cloves garlic, finely minced (I used 1 clove)
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 tablespoons chopped, pitted Mediterranean-style black olives
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and chopped

In a bowl, combine all ingredients and whisk to mix well.

Denver: Infinite Monkey Theorem’s Malbec wine (my favorite!) at the October RiNo first Friday event; they are a neighborhood winery with national acclaim.  The evening was punctuated with Boulder’s Basta Eatery & Pizzeria who fired up their mobile pizza oven to serve mouth-watering artisanal pizzas.  Hope they have it again in November!  Don’t miss it.

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Grill Something Different for Labor Day: Jamaican Jerk Chicken

Looking for something different to grill this Labor Day weekend?  Borrow a recipe from the Caribbean and try some Jamaican Jerk Chicken, loaded with tons of spicy, sweet and bright flavors.  Inspired from our stop in Jamaica earlier this summer (lunch after the zip line), I broadened my horizons and tried making Jerk Chicken at home. Thankfully the task was made much easier by a timely article in Cooks Illustrated magazine (July/August 2012) with a well-tested recipe. In the article they explain their trial and errors in getting the flavors just right, include some science behind the food, and share grilling techniques to make the chicken succulent and moist.  As usual, they were spot on with flavors and techniques; you can read the abbreviated article here. We’ve made this recipe numerous times since and always get great results with juicy, flavorful chicken. Even though it may sound spicy, don’t skimp on the habanero peppers because they add a wonderful flavor punch without the extreme heat. To round out the meal, we added jasmine rice with black beans and some watermelon slices.

This menagerie of spices is what makes the jerk chicken so flavorful – 17 ingredients in all, but the blender does the work for you. The chicken and spice paste are added to a Ziploc bag where they marinate from 30 minutes, or up to 24 hours which is what we prefer because the flavors penetrate all through the meat. I modified the recipe for two people with one large chicken breast, 2 thighs and 1 drumstick – all bone-in and with skin on. Their recipe also calls for smoking the chicken using a foil packet with spices and wood chips, an easy way to add delicious smoke flavor, but we never seem to remember this part. With or without this step, the recipe is still delicious and easy to put together.

If you want more visuals, Cooks Illustrated created a video for this recipe that quickly steps you through making the marinade and grilling with indirect heat, the secret for juicy chicken – including how to make that simple tin foil smoker packet.

Did you know?  
In closing, here are some Labor Day tidbits from the U.S. Department of Labor’s website: 
“The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City, in accordance with the plans of the Central Labor Union.”

“In 1884 the first Monday in September was selected as the holiday, as originally proposed, and the Central Labor Union urged similar organizations in other cities to follow the example of New York and celebrate a “workingmen’s holiday” on that date. The idea spread with the growth of labor organizations, and in 1885 Labor Day was celebrated in many industrial centers of the country.”

“The vital force of labor added materially to the highest standard of living and the greatest production the world has ever known and has brought us closer to the realization of our traditional ideals of economic and political democracy. It is appropriate, therefore, that the nation pay tribute on Labor Day to the creator of so much of the nation’s strength, freedom, and leadership — the American worker.”

Whatever plans you may have for Labor Day, celebrate your day as an American worker.  And make sure you enjoy some scrumptious food with loved ones and friends!

Eat well and share the love!

Jamaican Jerk Chicken (print recipe)
Recipe: Adapted from Cooks Illustrated magazine, July/August 2012 issue, page 8
Melissa Schenker/Foodie for Two
Serves two foodies, 4 pieces of chicken

Ingredients:
2 lbs. chicken (bone-in, skin on), about 1 breast, 2 thighs, 1 drumstick
Marinade
2 teaspoons whole allspice berries
1 tablespoon whole coriander seeds
2 teaspoon whole peppercorns
2 habanero chiles, cut into thirds (stems & seeds removed, discard)
6 scallions, cut into large dice (remove & discard ends)
2 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
2 tablespoons plus 1½ teaspoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon lime zest (about 2 limes)
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon dried yellow mustard
2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons packed brown sugar
1½ teaspoons salt
1½ teaspoons dried basil
¼ teaspoon dried rosemary
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

Directions:
Add the chicken pieces to a gallon Ziploc or freezer bag; place the bag in a large, shallow bowl.

Marinade: Add the whole allspice berries, coriander seeds and peppercorns to the blender and replace the lid. Pulse on highest speed (“ice” if available) until coarsely ground.
Note
: You can also use your mortar & pestle or spice grinder to grind these spices, transfer spices to the blender.

To the blender, add the remaining ingredients and process until a smooth paste forms. Transfer the mixture to the bag with chicken, seal well, making sure all the air is removed. From the outside of the bag, massage the paste into both sides of the chicken pieces. Store the bag of marinated chicken in the bowl and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, up to 24 hours.

Grill (using gas grill): Turn all burners to high, cover and heat grill until hot, 15 to 25 minutes. Turn primary burner to medium and turn off all other burner(s).

Clean and oil cooking grate. Place chicken, with marinade clinging and skin side up, as far away as possible, with thighs closest to fire and breast furthest away. Cover and cook for 30 minutes.

Move chicken, skin side down, to hotter side of grill; cook until browned and skin renders, 3 to 6 minutes. Using tongs, flip chicken pieces and cook until browned on second side and breast register 160 degrees and thighs/drumsticks register 175 degrees, 5 to 12 minutes longer.

Transfer chicken to serving platter, tent loosely with foil, and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature with lime wedges.

  • Don’t forget the gloves when working with habanero chiles

An exhibit at the Denver Art Museum

Dad’s Wontons Become Lettuce Wraps

My parents often cooked when we were kids, and they sometimes made recipes that exposed us to different cuisines.  Some we never cared to repeat and some became family favorites, with each sibling putting their own mark or twist on it.  Dad’s fried wontons served with a garlicky, ginger soy dipping sauce were a favorite because they tasted like real grown up food, highlighting vibrant flavors and crunchy textures.  He picked up the recipe while enrolled in culinary school in Texas and it was often a menu item for their backyard parties.  Ground beef, carrots, raisins and onions make up the filling and with Dad’s version it gets rolled into an eggroll wrapper (we still called them a wonton) and fried to a crispy golden brown.  With the soy dipping sauce drizzled on every bite, it was the ultimate savory and sweet combination. My deconstructed version has a crisp crunch from the butter lettuce, with all the flavor memories intact. Ground chicken or turkey can easily be substituted for the meat, just be sure to add extra seasoning.

A soy dipping sauce pulls all the flavors together and enhances the taste of this meal.  The salty tang of soy sauce is combined with spicy ginger root, rich garlic, oniony scallions and bright cilantro for a superbly delicious sauce! A spoonful for every bite is certainly warranted.

Here’s where the crispy wonton part comes into play. Instead of frying the whole meal as an eggroll, I thinly cut a few wonton (or eggroll, whichever you can find) wrappers into thin strips and fried them up in a small amount of oil. They provide the perfect crunch on top and remind me of the wonton taste. For those of you who aren’t familiar with butter lettuce, also known as Bibb or Boston lettuce, it has a slightly sweet, buttery flavor with thick leaves – perfect for lettuce wraps. I like to buy mine live (living greens) with the root ball attached and packed in a large clam shell, pictured below. It lasts for 2 to 3 weeks in the refrigerator if the root ball is kept moist.

If you are yearning for something fried as I often do, here’s how to enjoy Dad’s original wontons: Simply heat your oil (about 2 ½ to 3 inches deep in a medium sauce pan with tall sides) to 350º and assemble the wontons: Add about 1/3 cup filling to the bottom half of an eggroll wrapper (a generous tablespoon for wonton wrapper), roll up like a burrito (for wonton: arrange wrapper with corner at top, place filling in the middle and fold in half) and seal the last edges well with a fingertip dipped in water, repeat process. Fry in small batches until golden brown, about 3 to 5 minutes. Let drain and cool slightly on a plate lined with paper towels. Serve hot with the soy dipping sauce.

Eat well and share the love!

Dad’s Wonton Lettuce Wraps (print recipe)
Recipe: Melissa Schenker/Foodie for Two
Serves two foodies, makes 5 to 6 wraps

Ingredients:
Soy Dipping Sauce
½ cup soy sauce (low-sodium if available)
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated ginger, skin removed
1 tablespoon sliced scallions
1 clove garlic, mashed whole
1 tablespoon cilantro, finely chopped
1/8 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
Fried Wonton Strips
Vegetable oil
5 to 6 wonton wrappers or 2 to 3 eggrolls wrappers, sliced into thin strips
Filling
¼ medium yellow onion, diced (about ½ cup)
1 large carrot peeled and grated (about ¾ cup)
½ cup golden raisins
½ pound lean ground meat (or chicken, turkey)
2 to 3 tablespoons of dipping sauce
1 tablespoon cilantro, rough chopped
1 small clove garlic, finely minced/grated
¼ teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1/8 teaspoon lime zest
Olive oil or vegetable oil
Salt
Pepper
Family Style Platter – Serve
4 to 5 whole leaves of butter lettuce
Wonton filling (keep hot until ready to serve)
Small bowl of Soy Dipping Sauce with spoon
Fresh cilantro leaves, from 4 to 5 sprigs of cilantro
Fried wonton strips

Directions:
Soy Dipping Sauce:  To a small bowl or glass measuring cup, add the soy sauce, ginger, scallions, garlic, cilantro and rice wine vinegar – mix well with a fork. Let the dipping sauce sit for at least an hour before serving to allow the flavors to develop. Can be made one day ahead, cover & refrigerate. (Sauce will keep in refrigerator for 3 or 4 days.)

Fry the wonton strips Add oil to a small sauce pan with tall sides, enough so oil is about 1 inch deep and heat to 350º over medium-high heat (do not leave pan unattended).  Cut the wontons into very thin strips and gently run your fingers through them to loosen.  Fry in small batches until lightly golden brown, about 3 to 5 minutes.  Let drain and cool on a plate lined with paper towels; season with salt and pepper while still hot.

Filling: In a medium skillet over medium heat, add 1 teaspoon oil and the onions.  Sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add the grated carrots along with a few drizzles of oil and continue sauteéing for another 3-4 minutes, until carrots are almost tender.  Mix in raisins and transfer to a medium bowl.

In the same skillet over medium heat, add a few drizzles of oil and the ground meat, break up with the back of a spoon.  Season with ¼ teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper, mix together and continue to crumble meat as it cooks. When meat is done (no longer pink in the center), add the minced garlic and cook for 30 seconds.  Add the grated ginger, cilantro and lime zest, stir well and mix in the onion carrot mixture, stir together until well combined and keep hot.

Family Style Platter – Assemble the Lettuce Wraps:
Using a large plate or medium platter, arrange the wonton lettuce wrap ingredients for serving.  To assemble a lettuce wrap, add some filling to the middle of the lettuce leaf, drizzle some soy dipping sauce, add a few cilantro leaves and top with wonton strips.  Finish with a bit more of the soy dipping sauce.  Fold the lettuce leaves down and over each other, and eat with your hands.

A recent summer sunset from our front deck!

Dad’s Clam Dip

Even though the Denver Broncos didn’t win the play-off game last Saturday, we remain proud and excited about their success this season.  There is still more football to come over the next few weeks and Dad’s clam dip is perfect for game day.  The recipe is a favorite from my childhood, and as kids would always go crazy for this grown-up dip.  My Dad was usually the one who whipped it up and he tells me the recipe came from some long-ago friends back in Boston.  The ingredients are simple with a can of chopped clams, mayonnaise, sour cream, Worcestershire sauce, a touch of fresh garlic and some salt and pepper. It is unique and full of rich flavor from the clams and mayonnaise – a nice treat to go along with a cold beer and a good football game.   My favorite chips are Ruffles because the ridges help hold on to the chunks of clams waiting to be scooped up.  I hope Dad approves of my recipe interpretation!

Eat well and share the love!

Dad’s Clam Dip
Recipe: Melissa Schenker/Foodie for Two
Serves two foodies

Ingredients:
½ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup sour cream
1 can (6.5 oz.) chopped clams (drain and reserve juice)
2 teaspoons clam juice
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
¼ of a small clove of garlic, grated or finely diced
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
Pinch of fresh-cracked pepper
Ruffles potato chips

Directions: Add all ingredients (except the chips) to a bowl and mix well.  If dip is too thick, add more clam juice to thin out.

Dip can be made up to two days ahead; store covered in the refrigerator.  Recipe is easily doubled or tripled for larger crowds.

Serve with potato chips and your favorite beer.

  • Transfer leftover clam juice to a small jar and freeze (up to three months) for later use

Happy Birthday to my brother-in-law, Ron Johns!  Cheers to a wonderful celebration filled with good food and wine.    M