Going away last weekend for Memorial Day really got me into the mood for my favorite summer foods. When I go to barbecues, I love when there's a light refreshing salad to go along with the heavy steaks and burgers. This salad is a bit of everything perfect in this world: decadent marinated mozzarella, juicy tomatoes, sweet roasted corn, crunchy homemade croutons, and a bit of acidic balsamic vinegar. Alex and I thoroughly enjoyed eating this last night as our first course for dinner. We had made roasted corn on the cob the night before, so we reserved a bit of it for this delicious salad.
Marinated Mozzarella Salad
8 oz mozzarella
2 tbsp parsley, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tbsp lemon juice
1 slice of day old bread
1 large tomato
1/2 corn on the cob, kernels only (cooked)
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Start by combining the chopped parsley, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, lemon juice, as well as a bit of salt and pepper in a small bowl. Slice the mozzarella into 4-5 thick slices and brush each slice with the marinade. Set this aside while you're preparing the rest of the dish.
To make the croutons, place a small pan over medium heat and add the other tablespoon of olive oil. Roughly tear the slice of day old bread and add it to the hot oil. Allow it to cook for a few minutes until it's golden brown then remove it and sprinkle it with a bit of salt.
Slice the tomato into slices as thick as those of the mozzarella, sprinkle them with a bit of salt and pepper. Now layer the tomatoes and mozzarella, one after another on a platter. Drizzle the top with the balsamic, and sprinkle it with the corn and the homemade croutons. Enjoy!
Memorial Day weekend is one of my favorite holidays, it's a time for everyone to celebrate their favorite American traditions (not to mention that it's the official start of beach season). There's a running joke in the Falk family that you have to learn to become a beach bum. Well I've officially fully embraced the concept. We started our weekend with lobster and cocktails at our favorite Bradley Beach spot, Columns, and we ended the weekend with lunch on the beach before heading back to Philly.
This weekend was extra special, because David (Alex's brother) and his wonderful fiancée Sarah finally got married! They're absolutely meant for one another, and they had the most fabulous wedding to kick off their life together. The rehearsal dinner was held on Saturday night at Oyster Point, and the wedding on Sunday at the gorgeous Shadowbrook.
I'll have plenty of recipes to come later in the week! Until then, enjoy the start of summer with some classic American barbecue.
Paella has always been one of those dishes that I've been hesitant to make. Any time that I order it from a restaurant, they warn me of the 45 minute cook time, and I lose the illusion that I could possibly make it at home.
Last week as I was grabbing some produce from Reading Terminal Market (oh how I'll miss that place when I move to NYC), I passed the seafood counter and saw all of this wonderful seafood and the thought struck me, I'm finally going to make paella! So I grabbed some beautiful baby octopi, shrimp, calamari, and bay scallops as my seafood base.
Then I stopped by Iovine's for lemons, a red bell pepper, a big tomato, parsley, spanish onion and garlic which I would use as the vegetable base.
When I got home, I started prepping all of my ingredients and watched a Tyler Florence video on how to make paella (he's my go-to whenever I need instructions on a complicated dish).
So I started with an intense prep- as you can see with my meticulously chopped vegetables and seasoned seafood. Then I made the soffrito with the onion, garlic, paprika, parsley, tomatoes, and red pepper- easy enough. Then I added the rice and toasted it for a couple of minutes before adding the water. The idea of not being able to stir the rice was probably the hardest concept to get over, but the idea that you were supposed to crisp the rice on the bottom relieved me of my fear of burning the entire dish. Then I tucked the seafood into the rice in the order of cook-time that was needed for each.
Overall, this dish was actually a joy to make and intensely delicious! This easy seafood paella just might take the place of risotto at the top of the list of my favorite foods to cook.
Yield: 4 Servings
1 lb mix of seafood (shrimp, scallops, calamari, octopus)
1 spanish onion
2 cloves garlic
3 tbsp flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 red bell pepper
1 large tomato
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp kosher salt
1 cup jasmine rice
2 cups water
1 lemon, cut into wedges
Start by prepping your seafood (removing shells, slicing the calamari into rings, etc.) Also, finely dice your onion, garlic, red pepper and tomato.
In a large pan over medium heat, place your olive oil. Now add the onion and garlic to the oil and allow it to cook for a couple of minutes before adding the diced tomatoes, red pepper, 2 tablespoons of the chopped parsley and 1 teaspoon of the paprika. This mixture will continue to cook for another 8 minutes.
Next, stir the rice into your vegetable mixture, along with the last teaspoon of paprika and the teaspoon of kosher salt; allow this to toast for a couple of minutes while stirring it. Now add the water, being conscious of the fact that it will take the rice about fifteen minutes to cook and also of the fact that you can not stir the rice. After about five minutes have passed, begin adding your seafood- shrimp and octopus first, gently tuck them into the rice. After another few minutes, add the scallops and the calamari, again gently tucking them into the rice.
Once the rice looks cooked (about 15 minutes in) turn the heat up to high for 1 minute to toast the rice on the bottom. Finally, turn off the heat and garnish the top of the paella with the remaining tablespoon of parsley as well as the lemon wedges. Enjoy!
Let's face it, everyone loves bacon. It goes well with just about anything, and can be served at any time of the day. However, I had grown a little tired of making plain bacon to go along with breakfast, so I decided to kick it up a notch. Bacon's already incredibly salty, so I added some smoky-sweet dark brown sugar and a few dashes of cinnamon. The finished product was to die for, the perfect combination of sweet and salty.
Cinnamon Brown Sugar Bacon
8 slices of bacon
1 tbsp dark brown sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. On a baking sheet, lay out the slices of bacon horizontally. Sprinkle them with the brown sugar and the cinnamon. Place the baking sheet into the oven and allow the bacon to cook for 15-20 minutes (depending on how crispy you'd like them to be). Voila! The perfect bacon.
This cake has been a favorite of mine for... I can't even tell you how long. When I received my wonderful Kitchen Aid stand mixer, it was the first thing I made. It was also the first thing I ever baked for Alex's family, the first summer that we were together I brought it down to their shore house and everyone ate it up (even their Mini Pinscher, Tippy who managed to find leftovers and devour them)! So I knew that this recipe would be a winner for my perfect brunch this past weekend. The cake stays moist with the blueberries and a hint of lemon zest, but the streusel topping is crunchy with a hint of citrus with the lemon glaze.
Blueberry & Lemon Crumb Cake
6 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1/2 cup vanilla yogurt
1 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup blueberries
8 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 cup flour
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In the bowl of your stand mixer (or with a hand mixer), combine the 6 tbsp of butter along with the 1/2 cup white sugar and 1/4 cup brown sugar, mix them together for 4 minutes. Then add the eggs, vanilla, lemon zest and yogurt and mix them for an additional 2 minutes. In a small bowl, combine the 1 1/4 cups flour, baking powder, baking soda and kosher salt. With your mixer on low, add the dry flour mixture to the wet mixture slowly until they're combined. Finally, fold the blueberries into the batter with a rubber spatula. Pour this completed batter into a buttered loaf pan.
In a separate bowl, combine the 8 tbsp of butter, 1/2 cup white and brown sugar, the cinnamon, 1/4 tsp kosher salt and 1 cup of flour. Mix them together with a fork until they're perfectly combined. Crumble this mixture over the batter that's in the loaf pan.
Place the loaf pan into the oven for 60-90 minutes or until you place a cake tester/fork into the center and it comes out clean. Combine the powdered sugar and lemon juice in a small bowl. When the cake is cooled, drizzle this over it with a fork. Enjoy!
What's better than having a few friends over for a mid-morning buffet of breakfast treats? Nothing that I can think of. On Saturday, Alex and I had our favorite couple over for a spread of our favorite things: Blueberry & Lemon Crumb Cake, Parmesan Frittata, Cinnamon Brown Sugar Bacon and Crispy Breakfast Potatoes. The menu may sound complicated, but truth be told I woke up at 8:30 and had everything hot and on the table by 9:15. The guys had a golf game to get to, so I was on a tight schedule.
I started by making the Blueberry & Lemon Crumb Cake the day before, which was perfectly convenient. I even made a couple of muffins from the batter for Alex and my roommate Amanda to snack on. The morning of, I started by making the additions for the frittata (caramelized onions and garlic). Then, I put the caramelized onions and garlic into my egg mixture along with some grated parm and chopped parsley, and poured that into an oven-proof pan and placed it into the oven. I then prepped the bacon with its sweet topping and threw it into the oven to bake away along with the frittata. Finally, I cooked the potatoes on the stove top while my other treats were baking. Just make sure you put some coffee into your coffee pot somewhere along the line, and you've got a recipe for the most fabulous brunch ever. Stay tuned for all of the recipes, I'll be posting them throughout the week.
I'm always on a mission to indulge Alex's sweet tooth, while also appeasing my savory craving self. I am a huge fan of salsa and guacamole, but recently I've been making a lot of fruit salsa with pineapple, strawberries and mango. I thought that combining this idea with my favorite avocado salsa would taste amazing, and I was right!
I started by marinating some finely diced red onion in orange juice and red wine vinegar. This pulls the intense flavor from the onion and adds a bit of a citrusy bite. I also added some creamy avocado, fresh cilantro, sweet mango and a bit of lime juice. I combined this delicious salsa with homemade whole wheat tortilla chips, they turned out to be a match made in heaven.
Mango Avocado Salsa
1/4 red onion, finely diced
2 tbsp orange juice
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp cilantro, minced
1 mango, diced
1 avocado, diced
Start by placing the finely diced red onion into a small bowl along with the orange juice and red wine vinegar. Allow them to marinate for 30 minutes.
In another small bowl, combine the marinated red onion, the cilantro, the diced mango, and the diced avocado along with a bit of kosher salt. Carefully toss the ingredients with a spoon until the mixture is uniform.
Wheat Tortilla Chips
4 wheat tortilla shells
1/2 cup olive oil
In a large saute pan over medium heat, place the olive oil and allow it to heat for a few minutes. Meanwhile, slice the tortilla shells into eighths. Place the triangles into the hot oil a few at a time, turning them after a minute and allowing them to cook for another minute on the other side until they're golden. Place the cooked chips onto a paper towel and sprinkle them with a bit of salt.