Stone Fruit & Prosciutto Salad

Stone Fruit & Prosciutto Salad

Dear Summer,

Please don’t ever leave.

I love how you bring the bright, radiant sun out to warm us.

I love how you encourage me to wear flip flops every day (even to work).

And I love how you bring out the incredible sweetness and intense flavor to stone fruits. It makes me want to eat them all the time! Nectarines, peaches, plums, pluots….oh, the endless possibilities!

Stone Fruit & Prosciutto Salad

And Summer, you also inspire me to eat light and fresh dishes. So I decided to take your hint and threw some delectable stone fruits into some greens. A salad filled with all types of mixed greens to give that peppery verdant flavor, a needed savory element with the thin prosciutto slices, a salty & nutty profile from the parmesan cheese and much needed texture from the chopped pistachio nuts.

I don’t even bother with a vinaigrette. Instead, I opt for a bit of freshly squeezed lemon juice for acidity and a drizzle of EVOO for that needed richness.

Divine.

So Autumn, please push the snooze button a few more times to allow my Summer to stay a bit longer.

xoxo.

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Stone Fruit & Prosciutto Salad
Serves 1

Ingredients:

2 cups mixed greens (arugula, romaine, baby spinach, etc)
¼ cup sliced peaches
¼ cup sliced nectarines
¼ cup sliced plums or pluots
1 tablespoon roughly chopped pistachio nuts
1 ounces parmesan cheese shavings
juice of 1 lemon wedge
1 tablespoon quality extra virgin olive oil
2 pinches kosher salt
2 pinches coarse black pepper

Plate the first six items on a serving dish. Squeeze the lemon juice over the plate, followed by the drizzling of olive oil. Season with the kosher salt and black pepper. Enjoy!

Spicy Shrimp and Sausage Pasta — Surf & Turf Made Easy!

Spicy Shrimp & Sausage Pasta
Now let me admit this to you.

Some girls love flowers delivered to their door and some gals love chocolate.

Me?

You’d have my attention with a nice bottle of vino or meat. :)

Yes, you read that correctly.

 

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So when our friends at Farmer John sent over a box of their latest Cheese & Wine Flavor Smoked Sausage, I squealed with joy.

Seriously…squealed.

Not only because I was so excited to try it out but we coincidentally were having our monthly Sunday Family Dinner just a few days after. Complete divine intervention since a part of our menu required for us to bust out our beloved habachi grills.

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It was perfect since our proteins mainly consisted of seafood (calamari, prawns, shellfish, lobster) and sausage was a much welcomed addition.

We sliced a few links up and threw them on the habachi which imparted even more of a smoky flavor. The sausage itself turned out to be a tad on the sweeter side (likely because of the wine) but it paired well with the salty-briny seafood.

So when it came time for me to use the sausage in a dish, I wanted to make sure to balance out the flavors.

Cue in spices, herbs and tomatoes.

 

Spicy Shrimp & Sausage Pasta

I played around with a few ideas and decided to use the browned sausage with a heavily spiced shrimp in a tomato sauce.

I finished the whole sha-bang with a mountain of fresh herbs and tossed it with linguine — a pasta that can hold up to a hearty sauce.

 

Spicy Shrimp & Sausage Pasta

It. Was. Delish.

Don’t believe me?

Well…shame on you!

Because it was.

Fo’ reals!

Spicy Shrimp & Sausage Pasta

The entire dish was then showered with a mound of freshly shaven parmesan cheese….and then I paused…..

Because when you make happy things in your kitchen, it deserves a moment of silence…

Followed by a serious dance-it-out session and a swig of chianti…or whatever you’re sipping on.

It’s completely mathematically sound.

Spicy Shrimp & Sausage Pasta

And yes, all of the flavors balanced out perfectly.

The salty, sweet sausage paired well with the spicy shrimp. The acidic tomato sauce with its aromatics added the much needed punch to the dish. And the cheese—well, the cheese added love.

Obvi.

Much thanks again to our friends at Farmer John - we love ya!

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Spicy Shrimp and Sausage Pasta
Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

½ pound shrimp, cleaned and deveined
½ teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning (or other Cajun spice blend)
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
black pepper
½ teaspoon garlic salt
kosher salt
olive oil
1 pound smoked sausage (I used Farmer John® Wine and Cheese Sausages), sliced
¼ cup sliced shallots
1 tablespoon minced garlic
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
¼ cup white wine
1 28-ounce can crushed Roma tomatoes
5-6 fresh thyme sprigs
½ tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1 pound dried linguine
¼ chopped Italian parsley
1 cup parmesan (shaven, grated, etc.)

In a bowl, mix the shrimp with the Old Bay Seasoning, cayenne pepper, ¼ teaspoon black pepper, garlic salt, ¼ teaspoon kosher salt and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Set aside.

Heat 2-3 tablespoons oil in a heavy bottom, deep skillet (or pot) to medium. Add the sausage slices and brown on both sides. Toss in the shrimp and cook until they turn pink – approximately 2 minutes. Remove the contents to a clean bowl and set aside.

Add the shallots to the skillet and cook for a minute before adding the garlic. Cook for a minute and stir in red pepper flakes. Add tomato paste and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes. Turn the heat to high and pour the wine into the skillet. Use a wooden spoon and scrape the bottom of the skillet to release all the brown bits. Allow the wine to come to a boil and reduce the liquid for 2-3 minutes on the high heat.

Add tomatoes with its juices and bring to a boil. Once it comes to temperature, lower the heat to medium-low. Use the wooden spoon to crush and break apart any large pieces of tomatoes. Stir in the thyme and oregano and simmer the sauce, partially covered for 20 minutes.

While the sauce cooks, boil the linguine for approximately 10-12 minutes in heavily salted water until al dente. Drain the pasta and reserve ¼ cup of the starchy water that the pasta was cooked in.

Stir the shrimp and sausage into the simmered tomato sauce. Toss in the cooked linguine, coating the pasta well. If you want a looser based sauce, add a tablespoon at a time of the pasta water until you reach your desired consistency. Season with additional kosher salt and black pepper as needed.

Plate the pasta and sprinkle each dish with parsley and the freshly shaved parmesan.

Enjoy!

Chimichurri Skirt Steaks for ‘Murica!

Chimichurri Skirt Steak

Okay gang…it is that last minute push to scrub down those grills….. stockpile on hotdogs, hamburgers, coleslaw, ribs and bust out your RED WHITE and BLUE…..

Because tomorrow the country will be celebrating ‘MURICA!

Chimichurri Skirt Steak

But if you’re looking to grill up something different to please your crowd, try throwing some flavorful skirt steak smothered with THE BEST chimichurri sauce. It’s super easy to make and is dang delicious with some lightly grilled tortillas.

And with that folks, enjoy the fireworks, some BBQ goodness, and have a fantastic 4th of July!!!

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Chimichurri Skirt Steak

 

Ingredients:
1 cup fresh cilantro
½ small white onion
4 large garlic cloves
1 jalapeno pepper
zest of 1 lime
½ cup fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon honey or agave
1 teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon chili powder
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
¾ tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
½ cup olive oil
2 pounds skirt steak
vegetable oil
1 cup chimichurri sauce

In a food processor or blender, add the first 14 ingredients. Pulse several times until the fresh aromatics have broken down. Place the skirt steak into a gallon size resealable bag. Pour the marinade over the steak and massage it through. Be sure to get most of the air out of the bag before sealing it. Put the steak in the refrigerator and marinate 4-6 hours.

An hour before you start cooking the skirt steak, pull it from the refrigerator to take the chill off of it. Heat your grill to medium-high. Brush the grates of your grill with the vegetable oil. Cook the steaks for about 1-2 minutes on each side –depending on the thickness of your steaks. Remove to a platter and cover with foil for 10 minutes.

Once rested, slice the steak thinly across the grain of the meat. Spoon the chimichurri sauce over the steak and serve with warmed tortillas, if desired.

Slow Cooker Kālua Pig

Kālua Pig

 

It’s ALOHA FRIDAY and what better way to kick off the weekend with some island grindz? And it sure doesn’t get any easier or more ono-licious than Kālua Pig made in a Crock Pot!

 

Sure, you could go traditional and dig an imu in your backyard to channel the Hawaiian spirit. And heck – I would definitely be the first to give you mad props if you did! But as my family have continually denied my pleas to dig a large hole in their yards, I’ve had to settle for conventional methods and use slow cookers.

Kālua Pig

It really is a fool proof method of creating delicious Kālua Pig since you throw everything into the pot and then twiddle your thumbs for the next 10 hours. But the secret is the addition of banana leaves and liquid smoke which truly impart the authentic flavors an imu provides.

I like to serve my Kālua Pig over sticky rice with mac salad or sandwiched in my beloved Kings Hawaiian rolls with a tangy slaw. However you choose to serve it, your loved ones will adore you for channeling the flavors of the islands onto their plates.

Alohas!!!

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Slow Cooker Kālua Pig

Ingredients:

5 pounds boneless pork shoulder, trimmed of excess fat
sea salt (Hawaiian sea salt if possible)
black pepper
3-4 banana leaves
½ small white onion, thinly sliced
5 garlic cloves, smashed
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
2 dried bay leaves
4-5 dashes liquid smoke
Using paper towels, dry off the pork and generously season with the sea salt and black pepper.

Line the bottom of the slow cooker with banana leaves, setting aside one to top off the pork. Place the seasoned pork shoulder in the cooker and top with the onions, garlic, peppercorns and bay leaves. Wrap the remaining banana leaf over the top and cover the slow cooker. Cook the pork on low heat for 10 – 12 hours.*

Once done, carefully remove the pork from the slow cooker and place on a platter or large dish. Using two forks, shred the meat into pieces.

Skim and discard the fat and oil from the liquids left in the slow cooker. Pour the liquid over the shredded pork and stir in the liquid smoke. Taste and season with additional sea salt as needed.

Serve over rice or my favorite Kings Hawaiian sweet rolls.

*You can also cook the pork over high heat for about 5-6 hours but I prefer the texture of the low and slow method.

Grilled Ribeye Steak with Chimichurri Sauce — Happy Birthday Mom!

Mom

I kind of love this picture of Mom. It was taken on her wedding day about 48 years ago in Việt Nam.

Isn’t she stunning?

And today is her birthday.

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For the past few years, I’ve sort have done a little ritual each year on May 10th to celebrate her birthday. In the morning, I swing by Panera to grab an Egg Souffle (her fav) for brekkie and then at some point in the day, I make a steak.

Because Mom L-O-V-E-D her some steaks.

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She adored a Filet Mignon or a straight up Ribeye Steak – kind of a trait she’s passed on to my seester T and my niece Nina.

 

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This year to honor Mom’s birthday, I grilled up a tender and meat-a-licious Grilled Ribeye Steak with Chimichurri Sauce.

 

Grilled Ribeye Steak with Chimichurri Sauce

 

Truthfully, I can’t recall Mom ever having chimichurri over her steak but I can be certain that she would have loved it. Flavorful grilled steaks topped with an herbaceous & spicy chimichurri –she would have been ALL about it.

 

Grilled Ribeye Steak with Chimichurri Sauce

So here’s to Mom—our loyal, strong, steak lovin’, foodie, fashionista who we love and miss every day.

Happy Birthday Mama!

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Grilled Ribeye Steak with Chimichurri Sauce
Serves 2

Ingredients:

1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil, more for the grill
1 16-18 ounce ribeye steak
kosher salt
black pepper
1/4 cup (or more) chimichurri sauce, to taste

Rub the oil over the the steak. Heavily season with kosher salt and black pepper.

Heat a grill (gas or charcoal) to medium-high heat. Brush the grates of the grill with additional oil.

Grill the first side of the steak directly over the heat for 4-5 minutes. Flip to the other side and continue to grill for about 3-4 minutes–or until desired doneness.  Once grilled and golden, remove the steak and allow to rest for 10 minutes.

Slice the steak against the grain and plate. Top with spoonfuls of the chimichurri sauce and serve.

 

Seester’s Beef Panang Curry

Beef Panang Curry

Since I posted the round up we did for our Thai themed Sunday Family Dinner a few months ago, I’ve been getting TONS of requests for my seester’s recipe for Beef Panang Curry. And today is your lucky day because here it is!

The original recipe came from a Thai cooking class my seester took many moons ago. I’ve adapted it just a slight bit but the method is still quick and easy.

Beef Panang Curry

This recipe makes a lot curry but it tastes even better over time.  I used some leftover Beef Panang Curry to make the Beef Panang Naan Pizza below. Store bought garlic naan slathered with hummus, topped with beef curry and topped with grape tomatoes and cilantro. What had started off as throwing refrigerator leftovers together turned out to be a delicious re-made meal.

Beef Panang Curry

However you end up serving it, my seester’s Beef Panang Curry is a tasty-under 20 minute meal.

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Seester’s Beef Panang Curry

Ingredients:

2 pounds beef (ribeye, loin steak, tenderloin), sliced thin into bite sized strips
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 can (typically 13.5 ounces) unsweetened coconut milk
2 heaping tablespoons Panang curry paste or red curry paste
4-5 fresh kaffir lime leaves, finely minced
3-4 Thai chilies (jalapeno or serrano can be substituted), minced
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
2 cups sliced mushrooms (shiitake, baby portabello, etc.)
2 tablespoons fish sauce, more to taste
2 scallions, cut into ½ inch pieces
2 cups torn fresh Thai basil leaves, about 1 bunch
1 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro leaves, more to garnish

Season the beef with the pepper and salt. Set aside.

Set a large dutch oven or heavy bottom pot over high heat and pour in the coconut milk. Stir and cook until the milk begins to separate – about 5 minutes.

Lower the heat to medium and whisk in the curry paste, kaffir lime leaves, chilies and cook for an additional minute.

Stir in the bell pepper, mushrooms and simmer for 2 minutes.
Add the beef and stir around the pot for 1-2 minutes until the meat is no longer pink. Add in the fish sauce, scallions, basil and cilantro. Cook the beef for another 1-2 minutes. Taste and add more fish sauce as needed.

Serve hot over rice. Garnish with additional cilantro leaves.

(Isaan) Pork Larb Gai – Thai Minced Pork Salad

Pork Larb Gai

Larb (also often spelled as laap or laab) has been one of my favorite Thai dishes for a long time. It essentially translates to “minced meat salad” and can be made from a variety of different proteins – pork, beef, chicken, fish, duck, etc.

The word larb means “to chop up” in Thai. That’s right folks–authentic larb aficionados use a cleaver to chop/mince their proteins until they reach the perfect consistency. But truthfully, I’m a tad lazy and use pre-ground pork/chicken/turkey.

Andy Ricker, chef and author of Pok Pok does a beautiful job narrating his adventures of Thai cuisine and does an infinitely superior job of explaining the nuances of larb than I ever could. In a nutshell, there are two different schools of larb — the Northern Thai version and Northeastern Thai (Isaan) version. I gravitate towards the Isaan style that is heavily laden with citrus and toasted rice powder. The Northern style also uses various proteins and herbs but often includes pork/beef blood.

Pork Larb

I’m obsessed with Isaan-style larb because it’s truly a flavor explosion (I’m so cheesy). It’s incredibly savory with the garlic, shallots, fish sauce……bright and aromatic from the tons of citrus & fresh herbs…..and rather “earthy” from the toasted rice powder. Whether you eat it with sticky rice or as lettuce wraps, larb has multiple layers of texture, especially when you take intermittent bites of fresh cucumber slices, cabbage or fresh chiles.

My version isn’t totally authentic but it definitely is my homage to the original and can be whipped up in about 20 minutes. Not bad at all when you need a quick bite and its lightness is perfect for a warm summer meal.

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(Isaan) Pork Larb Gai – Thai Minced Pork Salad

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon warm water
4 tablespoons fresh lime juice, divided
3 tablespoons fish sauce, divided
1 tablespoon minced Thai chiles, divided
3 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/4 cup minced shallots
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
1 pound ground pork
2 scallions, chopped
1 heaping tablespoon toasted rice powder*
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 cup fresh mint leaves, roughly torn
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, roughly torn
1 cup fresh Thai basil leaves, roughly torn
accoutrements: extra fresh herbs, lime wedges, cabbage, lettuce leaves, cucumber slices, steamed rice

In a bowl, create the sauce by whisking together the sugar and warm water until dissolved. Add in 2 tablespoons lime juice, 2 tablespoons fish sauce and 1/2 teaspoon minced chiles (more to taste). Set the sauce aside.

Heat the vegetable oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the shallots, garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add 1/4 teaspoon minced chiles (more to taste), red chili flakes and cook for an additional 30 seconds. Increase the heat to medium-high and add in the pork.

Using a wooden spoon, stir the pork around the wok/skillet while breaking it apart to a crumbled consistency. Cook the pork until it is no longer pink, approximately 3-4 minutes. Stir in the remaining fish sauce and scallions.

Remove the wok/skillet from the heat. Toss in the rice powder, remaining lime juice, red onions, mint, cilantro, and basil. Stir in a few spoonfuls of the sauce to taste. Plate the larb with extra fresh herbs, whole chiles, lime wedges, sliced cucumbers, lettuce and cabbage. Serve with either steamed rice or whole lettuce leaves for wraps. The remaining sauce can be served alongside as a dipping sauce.

*If you cannot find pre-ground toasted rice powder, you can easily make your own. Toast uncooked jasmine rice in a skillet over low heat until golden brown. Once cooled, transfer the toasted rice into a spice grinder and grind until you get a fine powder.