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August 30, 2013

Mango Ancho Chili Salsa

Mango has a light and refreshing flavor somewhere between a pineapple and a peach. The brilliant golden orange flesh creates an attractive dish especially when paired with the red bell pepper. The Ancho chili gives the salsa a slightly smoky flavor.

Serve as a side or as a topping for chicken or fish. Especially good with Salmon quesadillas.

Makes 2 cups


  • 2 mangoes, peeled, pitted and cut into bite sized chunks
  • ½ medium red onion, peeled and diced small
  • ½ red bell pepper, seeded and diced small
  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice,(about 2 limes depending on amount of juice)
  • 1 dried ancho chili, minced
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 3 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh cilantro
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste


    In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients and mix well. Allow to set at least 30 minutes before serving to soften the ancho.
    The salsa will keep covered, refrigerated for 2 days.

    Posted by terri at 03:20 AM | Comments (0)

    Salmon and Seasonal Veggie Quesadilla

    Quesadillas, made with tortillas can be filled with just about any ingredients. I wanted to try something different for my cooking class and this turned out to be very flavorful. The salmon is prepared in advance with a spice rub making it a simple, time saving appetizer or meal.

    Makes 4 quesadillas


    For the Salmon:

  • 8 ounces salmon filet, skin removed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Spice rub ( I added a little cracked coriander to the mix)

    For the quesadillas

  • 5 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup zucchini and yellow squash, diced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and diced
  • 8 ounces goat cheese
  • 8 large tortillas


    Position oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 450 degrees F. Prepare spice rub.

    Rub salmon with olive oil and spice rub on both sides. Season with Kosher salt. Place into a roasting pan and roast salmon until medium rare. Remove from pan, cool. Cut into bite size pieces.

    Combine squash, red bell pepper and onion and place onto roasting pan. Add vegetable oil, season with salt and pepper. Roast until vegetables are tender.

    Assemble quesadillas: Lightly oil quesadilla cooking pan. Place one tortilla into cooking pan and top with ½ cup vegetables, ¼ of the salmon pieces, ¼ of the cheese, then top with another tortilla. Lower lid and cook until browned. Repeat with remaining tortillas. Remove and cut into wedges.

    Serve with Mango Ancho Chili Salsa

    Cooking Wiser
    Make the salmon in advance and serve over lettuce greens with a ranch dressing or serve as the main dish with a side of corn and black beans. Use the left overs for the quesadillas.

    Posted by terri at 03:02 AM | Comments (0)

    August 27, 2013

    August Wine Dinner

    Having fun, experiencing new wines, laughing with friends and enjoying incredible food is what our wine dinners are all about.
    This month the theme was Mediterranean food and wines.

    Find out how we did it...

    We start just about every wine dinner with a greeter, usually a sparkling wine. Our hosts served several cheeses and salami with a really nice Prosecco, an Italian white sparkling wine. Sparkling wines are very food friendly so this was a good choice to pair with a variety of cheeses, fruits and salami.

    I made another antipasto platter very similar to the last one but this time with grilled figs and blue cheese, tomatoes and artichokes. Because there were so many different flavors I opted for a Sauvignon Blanc from the Sancerre region of France. The wine was good with the artichokes and cheese but fell short with the figs. Since the figs were grilled they were really sweet. A dessert wine or even a sweeter Riesling would have been a much better pairing.

    Next up was a Mediterranean pizza with tomato paste, yellow tomatoes and sliced green olives. Olives are always a bit challenging for wine pairing due to their salty nature but I've tried several wines that stand up to the challenge very well.
    I was a little surprised that the Bogle Chardonnay took the stage and did pretty well with this pizza.

    Pam created a salad using a salad dressing with three parts acid to one part oil. In this case it was a combination of orange juice and balsamic vinegar mixed with extra-virgin olive oil with fresh rosemary. She tossed fresh peaches, goat cheese and pecans into a nice blend of salad greens. It was simply fabulous and paired well with another French Sauvignon Blanc across the river from Sancerre where the wines typically have more mineral flavors.

    A chicken and spinach version of the Italian Veal Saltimbocca was paired with the third Sauvignon Blanc of the night. We didn't plan it but this turned into a very interesting tasting of different Sauv Blanc styles; this one being Frog Leap from California.

    chicken Saltimbocca

    Move over and make room for yet another great dish and a wonderful pairing. The spice and fig flavors in the sauce and the spice and fruit in the Cabernet Sauvignon complimented each other so well that you would have thought they were made to go together.

    chicken casserole with spiced figs

    Posted by terri at 02:43 AM | Comments (0)

    August 23, 2013

    Chicken Casserole with Spiced Figs

    The chicken is cooked with a beautifully spiced sauce that pairs perfectly with a Cabernet Sauvignon.

    Serves 4


    2 ounces bacon or pancetta, diced
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    3 pound chicken, cut into eight pieces
    1/2 cup white wine
    lemon zest from one 1/2 lemon
    1/4 cup chicken stock
    Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

    For the Figs
    3/4 cup sugar
    1/2 cup white wine vinegar
    1 lemon slice
    1 cinnamon stick
    1/2 cup water
    1 pound fresh figs


    Prepare the figs. Gently simmer the sugar, vinegar, lemon and cinnamon with water for 5 minutes. Add the figs and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave to stand for 3 hours.

    Fry the bacon or pancetta in a frying pan until golden. Transfer to an ovenproof dish. Add the oil to the pan. Season the chicken, brown on both sides, then transfer to the ovenproof dish.

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Drain the figs. Add the wine and lemon rind to the pan and boil until the wine has reduced and is syrupy. Pour over the chicken.

    Cook the chicken in the oven, uncovered for about 20 minutes. Add the figs and chicken stock. Cover and return to the oven for a further 10 minutes.

    Cooking Wiser
    For best results use figs when in season, in the late summer.

    Posted by terri at 03:21 AM | Comments (0)

    Chicken Saltimbocca

    Literally translated, Saltimbocca means Jump Mouth. Don't know why the Italians gave this dish the name but maybe because the flavors jump around in your mouth. The original dish was made with veal, sage and prosciutto. This version uses chicken and spinach.

    Frogs Leap Sauvignon blanc was the wine choice; the flavors were jump in your mouth, delicious.

    Chicken Saltimbocca
    Serves 6 as a meal, more if sliced into


  • 6 (3-ounce) chicken cutlets, pounded to evenly flatten. For this recipe used well-trimmed thin chicken breasts slightly pounded.
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper )
  • 6 paper-thin slices prosciutto
  • 1 (10-ounce) box frozen chopped spinach, thawed
  • 3+ tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼+ cup grated Parmesan
  • 1 (14-ounce) can low-salt chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice


    Place the chicken cutlets flat on the work surface. Lightly sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper.

    Lay 1 slice of prosciutto atop each chicken cutlet.

    Squeeze the frozen spinach to remove the excess water. Season the spinach with salt and pepper

    In a small bowl, toss the spinach with 1 tablespoon of oil to coat.

    Arrange an even, thin layer of spinach atop the prosciutto slices.

    Sprinkle the Parmesan evenly over each.

    Beginning at the short tapered end, roll up each chicken cutlet as for a jellyroll. Secure with a toothpick. (Position toothpick such it will not interfere when cooking side down in oil)

    Heat the remaining 2+ tablespoons of oil in a heavy large skillet over high heat. Add the chicken and cook just until golden brown, about 2+ minutes per side.

    Add the chicken broth and lemon juice, and scrape the browned bits off the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Bring the liquid to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium. Cover and simmer until the chicken is just cooked through, about 8 to 10 minutes.

    Transfer the chicken to a platter. Allow to rest about 10 minutes. Meanwhile finish the sauce.

    Simmer the cooking liquid over high heat until it is reduced to about 2/3 cup, about 5+ minutes. Season the cooking liquid with salt and pepper, to taste.

    Remove toothpicks from the chicken. Drizzle the reduced cooking liquid over the chicken and serve immediately.

    Cooking Wiser
    To reduce salt omit salting spinach step

    Posted by terri at 03:03 AM | Comments (0)

    August 14, 2013

    Red Pepper Bisque with Citrus Crab Salad

    This soup can be served with or without the salad, or the salad can be served on the side. Either way the colors and textures offer a rich and delicious dish.

    Serves 8


  • ½ pound lump crabmeat
  • Juice of ½ lime
  • 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
  • Dash of Tabasco hot sauce
  • Kosher salt and Cayenne pepper to taste
  • 8 red bell peppers, chopped plus 3 whole peppers for roasting
  • ½ large onion, chopped
  • ½ leek, white and light green parts chopped
  • ½ head garlic, cloves peeled
  • ½ rib celery, chopped
  • ½ cup brandy
  • 2 quarts vegetable stock or water
  • Sachet of bay leaf, thyme and peppercorns, wrapped in cheesecloth
  • Garnish with 2 tablespoons avocado, diced and lime zest


    For the salad: combine the crabmeat, lime juice, 2 T olive oil and cilantro. Season to taste with Tabasco, salt and cayenne. Set aside.

    Preheat broiler to high. Cut top and bottom off pepper, remove seeds and veins. Slice into 4 pieces and place skin side up onto cookie sheet. Roast peppers until charred. Place in a paper bag and close tightly. Allow to cool. Peel the skin from the peppers and set aside. If grilling other food, place peppers skin side down over a medium high prepared grill and grill until charred. Proceed with instructions.

    Add 3 tablespoons olive oil to a large stock pot set over low heat, then add the chopped raw peppers, onion, leek, garlic and celery. Cook about 20 minutes until very soft but not browned. Pour the brandy into the pan to deglaze and increase the heat to medium and reduce liquid. Add the vegetable stock and herb sachet. Simmer 1 hour.

    Add the reserved roasted peppers to the soup and puree carefully since soup is very hot. Strain through a fine mesh sieve and season to taste with additional salt and pepper. Finish with a dash of brandy.

    To assemble, arrange avocado dice at the bottom of each soup bowl, place the crab salad in the center. Top the salad with lime zest and pour the soup around the salad.

    Posted by terri at 02:56 AM | Comments (0)

    August 13, 2013

    An Antipasto Platter

    I really enjoyed our antipasto platter with a Soave wine at our last food and wine dinner. So I thought I would share it with you. The platter was an array of grilled foods, cheeses, salami and pepperoni. Amazingly the wine was perfect with everything. Soave is a very popular dry, crisp, fruity white Italian wine from the Veneto region in northeast Italy.

    The grilled foods included roasted red peppers, marinated portabella mushrooms, paprika and lime marinated summer squash and roasted eggplant basted with spicy tomato sauce, and light soy sauce and olive oil marinated asparagus wrapped with prosciutto.

    The cheeses included goat cheese and a mild sheep cheese.

    For the red peppers, lightly rub olive oil over the skin side of the red pepper. Grill until charred all the way around. Place into a paper bag for 5-10 minutes. The skins will be very easy to remove. Slice pepper into small strips

    For the marinated mushrooms, remove the gills from two portabella and rub each with one tablespoons Italian dressing, salt and pepper. Grill on medium high heat stem side up for about 5-7 minutes. Don’t overcook the mushrooms, they will lose their texture and become soggy.

    For the squash, mix 2 teaspoons paprika, juice from one lime, pinch of salt and pepper and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Slice 1 medium yellow squash and 1 medium zucchini lengthwise about 1/2 inch thick. Rub squash with olive oil, add paprika mixture and grill until slightly tender.

    For the eggplant, combine 1 can tomato paste with ¼ cup beef broth and pinch cayenne pepper. Slice the eggplant lengthwise and marinate for at least 2 hours with the tomato mixture. Grill on medium heat about 2-3 minutes each side.

    For the asparagus, marinate about 30 medium size spears in low salt soy sauce and juice from one lime for about 1 hour. Place into microwave and cook about 2 minutes being careful not to overcook. Wrap 3 spears with a slice of prosciutto and grill until prosciutto is slightly crisp.

    Grill the vegetables on medium high heat unless otherwise noted, being careful not to overcook.

    Posted by terri at 03:28 AM | Comments (0)

    Marinated Grilled Beef Tenderloin

    This tenderloin was absolutely melt in your mouth delicious. Tenderloin is exactly as it is named, tender. But because it is such a lean cut of meat the flavors are usually created by rubs or marinades. This was a food and wine dinner hit!

    Serves 6-8


    4 ½ to 5 pound tenderloin well-trimmed

    For the Marinade:

    1 cup soy sauce (bourbon barrel)

    1 cup honey

    4 tablespoons chopped ginger

    1+ cup balsamic vinegar

    2/3 + cup dry red wine

    4 tablespoons black pepper (bourbon barrel)

    4 tablespoons chopped garlic

    6 tablespoons cornstarch

    2 bay leaves


    Combine all marinade ingredients in heavy saucepan and mix well with whisk. Bring just to a boil stirring constantly.

    Remove from heat, and allow to completely cool. Marinade should be the consistency of a light paste.

    Place beef in a glass, enamel, or stainless steel pan, and pour cooled marinade over and under beef, and cover with foil.

    Allow to marinate at least overnight in fridge (24 hours the better).

    Remove from fridge several hours before roasting and allow to come to room temperature

    Prepare grill (Green Egg used this recipe)

    Obtain temperature of 500 degrees and place V-rack into drip pan rack onto grill

    Place marinated-crusted beef onto V-rack, and reduce heat to 350 to 400 degrees

    Baste periodically with any leftover marinade

    Continue roasting until beef is to desired doneness. The marinade should form a crust on the tenderloin. For rare, using meat thermometer remove beef from grill when temperature in tail (thinnest part of tenderloin) reaches ~135 degrees

    Remove from grill and cover with foil for 25+ minutes or more. Meat should then be medium in the tail and rare in thickest part of tenderloin, the Chateaubriand.

    Cut into thin slices and serve.

    Cooking Tip:
    This is best served rare to med-rare. It is most often done after 40 minutes of roasting, so please be careful not to overcook.

    Posted by terri at 03:07 AM | Comments (0)

    August 08, 2013

    Grilled Peppers Stuffed with Goat Cheese

    The sweet smokey flavors from the grilled peppers and the tart goat cheese create a wonderful combination. Grilling the peppers brings out the natural sugars giving the peppers a wonderful sweet flavor.


    2 ounces of softened goat cheese (chèvre)

    1/4+ cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese (couple ounces)

    1+ tablespoon snipped fresh chives

    1+ tablespoon snipped fresh basil (used this recipe), or 1 teaspoon dried basil, crushed

    2 medium red, yellow, and/or green sweet peppers, quartered lengthwise


    In a small bowl combine goat cheese, Monterey Jack cheese, chives, and basil. Set aside.

    Cut peppers length-wise into quarters and remove seeds, stem and membrane

    Place sweet peppers on the rack of an uncovered grill directly over medium-hot coals (or medium heat on gas grill).

    Grill about 8 minutes or until peppers are crisp-tender and starting to brown, turning once halfway through grilling. Remove peppers from grill.

    Spoon cheese mixture into sweet pepper pieces, and return to grill.

    Grill for 2 to 3 minutes more or until cheese is melted.

    Posted by terri at 03:39 AM | Comments (0)

    August 05, 2013

    Olive Orange and Anchovy Vinaigrette

    Another great topping for grilled eggplant. I loved this topping and I found many other uses for it too.

    Serves 4-6


  • 2 anchovy fillets, rinsed
  • 2 small garlic cloves, minced
  • Kosher salt
  • ¼ cup mixed olives such as Nicoise, Kalamata, rinsed, pitted and chopped
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon orange zest
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste


    Mince the anchovy and garlic and add a pinch of salt and mash into a paste.

    Whisk in the olives, oil, orange juice, vinegar, and orange zest.

    Season to taste with salt and pepper and more red wine vinegar if necessary.

    Just before serving whisk again and spoon over grilled eggplant.

    Grilled Eggplant

    Serves 4


  • 1 medium eggplant about ¾ pound, trimmed and cut into ½ inch thick rounds
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, more as needed
  • Kosher salt


    Prepare a medium high grill. Brush both sides of the eggplant slices with olive oil and season with salt. Grill about 3-4 minutes and turn and grill until tender and well marked on both sides.
    Serve with toppings

    Posted by terri at 03:30 AM | Comments (0)

    Garlic Cumin Vinaigrette with Feta and Herbs

    This is one of three toppings for grilled eggplant, that can be used in several other recipes too

    Yields enough topping for one recipe of Grilled Eggplant


  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 ½ tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 small shallot, very finely diced
  • 3 tablespoons EVOO
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seed, toasted and grounds
  • Pinch cayenne, more to taste
  • ¼ cup crumbled feta
  • 2 tablespoons fresh mint, coarsely chopped
  • Fresh cilantro, to garnish


    Mix the garlic and salt to a paste.

    Combine the paste and 1 tablespoon lemon juice in a small bowl and let sit for 10 minutes. Combine the shallot with remaining lemon juice and salt and let sit for 10 minutes. Whisk the olive oil, cumin, and cayenne into the garlic mixture. Season to taste with salt and cayenne, if necessary.

    Top grilled eggplant slices with the shallots, feta and herbs. Drizzle vinaigrette on top.

    Cooking Wiser Tips:
    This recipe can also be served over salad greens or used for a vinaigrette for pasta salad. I even added it to chicken salad and it was sensational.

    Posted by terri at 03:22 AM | Comments (0)

    August 04, 2013

    Grilled Eggplant

    Eggplant is a wonderful when grilled. With its meaty texture, it can be served as a main dish or in this case a great side. Since eggplant will absorb oil like a sponge, grilling is a great cooking method that requires little oil. The grill will impart a delicate smoky flavor and a slightly crisp surface.

    I wanted a new recipe and found this in one of the Fine Cooking issues and got three recipes for one!

    Serves 4


  • 1 medium eggplant about ¾ pound, trimmed and cut into ½ inch thick rounds
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, more as needed
  • Kosher salt, go light on salt if toppings are little more salty


    Prepare a medium high grill. Brush both sides of the eggplant slices with olive oil and season with salt.

    Grill about 3-4 minutes and turn and grill until tender and well marked on both sides.

    Serve with toppings:
    Olive, Orange, and Anchovy vinaigrette
    Roasted Red Pepper Relish with Pine Nuts
    Garlic Cumin Vinaigrette with Feta and Herbs

    Cooking Wiser Tips:

    Purchase tender, in season eggplant for best flavor. If you end up with an eggplant that tastes bitter, lightly salt to remove the bitter juices; but carefully selected it will have a delightful flavor. The earliest crops have fewer seeds and consequently better flavor and texture.

    Eggplant contains a lot of water that will release when cooked. Slice 1/2 inch thick for grilling

    Posted by terri at 09:43 PM | Comments (0)