Month: June 2014

Cook the Book!  Next Four Weeks–A Free Book Each Week

Cook the Book! Next Four Weeks–A Free Book Each Week

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   First Up:  Spicy Cucumber with Feta and there’s no cooking involved!  Happy summer soups!  Thanks for all of your lovely support during this last week.  You’re helping make my dream come true.  You’re wonderful!

For the next four weeks, I’ll at some time during each week feature one recipe from my new book, Soups & Sides for Every Season (click HERE to order).   Make the recipe, photograph it, email the pic to me:  soupsandsides@gmail.com.   If yours is the first email with a recipe photo I receive, I’ll mail you a book!  Don’t forget to include your snail mail address in the email as well as any adjustments you made to the recipe.    As my own stash of books is still on the way from the printer, be patient if you don’t get your book immediately; it could take just a little while.  Now get “cooking!”  I can’t wait to hear from you.

Soup Book-Cover finalSPICY CUCUMBER WITH FETA

When cucumbers are plentiful, cheap, and the weather is sultry, it’s time to make cucumber-yogurt soup.  Lebanese to start with (Kh’yaaf B’lubban) and very like the Indian Kheera Raita, Americans have made this creamy, cooling dish their own.  Perfect to eat as a cold first course or for a light meal, it’s ready in the time it takes to whir a few things through the food processor. This is also a great soup to personalize.  A bit more hot sauce? Add avocado?  Top with smoked salmon? A bit of cumin? Chopped scallions or tomatoes as a garnish?  However you make this, you’ll want it again and again.  My own version holds some heat (skip Sriracha—a Thai hot sauce– if you don’t like heat) and includes some salty feta and chopped red bell pepper on top.  I first encountered some of the flavors from this soup in Melissa Clark’s fabulous Greek Goddess Dip (NYT, “A Good Appetite,” 2/10/10), which utilizes some of the same ingredients in a perfect herbaceous dip for fresh vegetables.  When I began to test cucumber soups for this book, I again and again returned to the combination of herbs Melissa uses in her dip.

If you don’t have a food processor, simply chop up the vegetables as finely as possible, whisk together the yogurt and buttermilk, and mix up all of the ingredients using a spoon or large spatula.

Serves 8

  • 4 English cucumbers unpeeled, sliced in half, seeded (pull a big spoon down the center of each half), and cut into 1” pieces*
  • 4 tablespoons chopped red onion
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • 2 tablespoons each chopped fresh basil and mint
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups plain yogurt
  • 2 cups low-fat buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoon Sriracha sauce (or a few drops of other hot sauce)
  • Juice of 2 lemons (about 4 tablespoons)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2  teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons honey

Garnish:  1 cup each: feta cheese, crumbled, and finely chopped red bell pepper

Cook’s Note:  If using regular American cucumbers purchased from the grocery store, please peel them before blending to make the soup; they’re often waxed.

Combine all ingredients (except feta and red bell pepper) in the food processor and blend until smooth.  Taste and adjust seasonings. Chill for a few hours in refrigerator if you have the time.   Divide soup between the bowls and top each with a bit of feta cheese and red pepper.

Accompaniments:  This soup is lovely all on its own, but if you have a hungry group you could add some smoked salmon and crackers to the table or even a basket of pita or naan.  If it’s not too hot, bake up a batch of your favorite biscuits early in the morning.

Wine: Sauvignon Blanc is a great go-to wine with feta cheese, and Pinot Grigio would be good as well.  (Drew Robinson, CS)  Note:  Drew expands greatly on this theme in the book itself; I’ve edited it in the interest of space for the blog.

Dessert:  I love the idea of some fresh fruit and a bit of cheese—nothing more.

Sing a new song,

Alyce

Soups + Sides for Every Season is Published and Available  : YES, YES, YES!

Soups + Sides for Every Season is Published and Available : YES, YES, YES!

Soup Book-Cover finalLong time readers know I’ve been working on a soup cookbook for a couple of years.  The day has come; it’s published!  Get yours now! Available on amazon.com; click HERE! to order. Ebook on the way and I’m not sure how long that will be.  If you’ve eaten something, cooked something, read the book, or ordered the book, reviews — even a line or two — on my amazon page would mean a great deal.

Many thanks to all involved — testers, tasters, encouragers, lovers, and especially the group of great folks who worked with me to make this happen.  This doesn’t happen without huge support and lots and lots of love and help.

If you’d like to review the book, leave a comment or email me; I’ll mail you a book or email a pdf.  If you’d just like to blog a recipe (Ina Fridays writers?!) I’m happy to share and will also do that on this blog a few times over the coming weeks.

My team, amazing always, was:

  • Patricia Miller, Editor  (photo courtesy Trish Triff Noack)

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  • Amanda Weber, Designer (photo courtesy Mena Xiong)

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Daniel Craig, Artist (below with his beautiful wife, Kim Craig, at Opus and Olives)–Cover and chapter icons

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  • Drew Robinson, CS — Wine Pairings  (photo by Alyce Morgan)

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My biggest thanks goes to my hub of nearly 40 years, David Morgan, who worked and paid my bills while I struggled along cooking, writing, testing, and making a big soup mess in the kitchen on and on..and on.  He bought the groceries, ate enough soup to float a boat, did the dishes, and took out the garbage. He even made soup.  He got me away on vacation, too–more than once.   Love you always! Continue reading “Soups + Sides for Every Season is Published and Available : YES, YES, YES!”

One-Pan Seared Salmon with Onions and Tomatoes on Lemony Greens–10-Minute Dinner

One-Pan Seared Salmon with Onions and Tomatoes on Lemony Greens–10-Minute Dinner

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I know wild salmon is good for you.  And I truly eat it because it is. I also eat it because it’s fast, delicious, versatile, filling, and simple to cook. Is it cheap?  Certainly not.  It’s not even inexpensive, but it’s a lot of food for the time and money.  Given the number of times a week Americans spend their cash in restaurants or Starbucks, salmon’s a good value.  I cook salmon in many ways and rarely the same way twice though I’m partial to wrapping a side of salmon in foil and roasting it in the oven.  It’ll feed several folks or two of you for a few days.  Think salmon salad, scrambled eggs with salmon chunks, fish sandwiches, salmon nicoise….

This tiny, little bitty recipe (if you can call if that) focuses on the fast virtue of a salmon meal.  For the many, many people who consistently say to me, “I just don’t have time to cook. It has to be really fast and easy,” this is your dinner.  I do sometimes think that those who insist they have no time to cook really don’t spend the time to plan and shop or to make sure their pantries, fridges, and freezers are stocked with simple possibilities.  So many luscious, healthy meals are so very fast and are worth the time you spend on your health and well-being.   Try this sweet recipe that works as easily for one person as it does for two or four or more.  By chance, not by design, it’s also gluten-free and South Beach Diet friendly.  If you’d rather grill the salmon, have it your way; it’ll take longer to heat the grill if time is of the essence.  Whatever you do, cook tonight, friends:

ONE-PAN SALMON WITH ONIONS AND TOMATOES ON LEMONY GREENS

serves 2

  • 4 cups fresh greens of your choice (If you have a few basil leaves or chopped fresh parsley, add that, too.)
  • 1 fresh lemon, cut in half
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • Kosher salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper (if desired)
  • 2  4 – 6 ounce salmon fillets
  • 1 large onion, sliced thinly
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes

Divide greens between two large, shallow serving bowls or plates.  Squeeze half of the lemon over the greens and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Set aside while you cook the salmon.

Heat a  9 or 10-inch heavy skillet over medium-high flame.  Add one tablespoon of the oil and let sit a minute to heat.  Place salmon, skin side up, in pan with the onion and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper if desired.  Cover and cook 4 minutes or so.  Turn over the salmon fillets, add tomatoes, cover, and cook another 3-4 minutes or until salmon is crispy, firm, but still pink and tender at center. Aim for juicy.

Divide the salmon, onions, and tomatoes between the two plates and squeeze the rest of the lemon juice over the salmon.  Drizzle with the remaining tablespoon of oil.  Serve hot, at room temperature, or cold.

Cook’s Notes: If you have frozen individual salmon fillets, you can cook them just as I have in the recipe–it’ll just take a bit longer and you may need to lower the heat after you turn the fillets.   Don’t hesitate.  Be of great courage.

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WINE:  Pinot Noir.  Oregon if you can.

DESSERT:  It’s summer, have a few strawberries and a great cup of coffee on the front porch.

Here’s one pic I snapped of Tucker and Miss Gab  as I cooked.  (Miss Gab is feeling very well. Thanks to all who’ve inquired.)

IMG_5961Enjoy!

Looking for something great to do this summer?  Feed the kids!  No Kid Hungry–click here.

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Sing a new song,

Alyce

Agave Granola  — A New Twist on my Granola + Did I Like It??

Agave Granola — A New Twist on my Granola + Did I Like It??

d6860-img_3253As longtime readers and my family know, I keep a jar full of low fat, high-taste granola on the counter pretty much all the time.  I know some of you make my granola on a regular basis just like I do and I thought I’d share a recent experiment.  While I have no problems with the amount of sugar I eat –neither Dave nor I are diabetic –I saw a really good buy on agave, the low-glycemic sweetener, at Costco and thought I’d try some in place of the small amounts of honey and granola I traditionally use for granola sweeteners.  I had not purchased agave before in any form; I’m an eat-a-little- sugar-if-you-want-it-type of person and have never been into sweeteners of any kind. I’m sure I’m way behind the posting and experiment curves here, but that’s the way it goes.

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Continue reading “Agave Granola — A New Twist on my Granola + Did I Like It??”

Ina Fridays — Main Dishes — Blue Cheese Burgers with Garlic Grilled Potatoes and Alyce’s Instant Pickles

Ina Fridays — Main Dishes — Blue Cheese Burgers with Garlic Grilled Potatoes and Alyce’s Instant Pickles

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 INA FRIDAYS –First Friday of every month. Come cook some Ina with us this weekend.  Scroll down to join the group. ♥♥♥         Upcoming:  Desserts:  July 4.     Check out Ina Fridays on Pinterest.

As a cook and a lover of my friends and family, one of my frequent questions to pose is:

What’s your favorite meal?

People will often need a moment because we have so very many things we love.  I myself can unequivocally answer,

Pizza!

This even though I often live on eggs, don’t particularly want to live without asparagus, and am rarely more pleased than when there’s beef stew for dinner.  I like great individual artisan pizza, take-out or delivery pizza, homemade pizza (my son makes the best), and probably only draw the line at frozen pizza — though I’ll eat Lou Malnati’s anytime, good Chicago girl that I am. I love pizza so much that I’m not picky. (Ok, I don’t do Chucky Cheese.)  But I’m amazed how many times Americans will answer, “Hamburgers”  when it comes to their favorite food. They include fries more than half the time, I’d wager. (Click HERE for a list of Top 50 American Foods.)  And while they love a great or famous burger from a bar, I think they’re even happier with a summertime grilled-at-home version or even a drive-in dive sandwich. (If I jump in the car, I can be at Cy’s in two minutes with a green line down at the corner.)  Continue reading “Ina Fridays — Main Dishes — Blue Cheese Burgers with Garlic Grilled Potatoes and Alyce’s Instant Pickles”

Grilled Chicken and Vegetable Pasta with Fresh Herbs and Goat Cheese–Celebrating 5 Years of Food Blogging

Grilled Chicken and Vegetable Pasta with Fresh Herbs and Goat Cheese–Celebrating 5 Years of Food Blogging

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Chicken and vegetables grill while the pasta cooks. Stir it all together –at the table?– with goat cheese and fresh herbs, and a fast summer pasta is ready for dinner on the deck.

This post celebrates 5 complete years of blogging on MORE TIME AT THE TABLE. Thanks for your loving kindnesses.  Here’s to the next five years!  Book almost here.   I’m reading the proof copy now. So exciting!!

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                                                    (above: iphone photo by sean anthony morgan)

Ok, now on to the pasta dinner on the grill…

For a few years, I’ve loved making summer pastas mostly on the grill.  No big heavy sauce on the stove for hours like wintertime, just a few choice lovelies grilled to perfection and stirred into hot pasta (scroll down for pasta info) with some fresh herbs and maybe a little cheese.  If you’ve a burner on the side of your grill, you can do the pasta outside as well and save your kitchen and you from the damp heat. If it’s not too warm, you can use your stove, which may be quicker.

 My grilled eggplant and sausage pasta made on the grill  is one of the favorites on our deck and also on the blog.  It might soon be one of your summer go-tos as well.

Continue reading “Grilled Chicken and Vegetable Pasta with Fresh Herbs and Goat Cheese–Celebrating 5 Years of Food Blogging”