Late Summer Peach and Mint Bulgur Salad

We still have peaches filling the produce section of our grocery store with juicy, sweet smelling nectar.  I found this summer that I am definitely a peach person.  They just translate so well with other foods.  I love them with desserts and savory dishes, herbs, wines, fish, pork, chicken, vegetables, grilled, poached, raw, sautéed, flambéed.   It’s hard for a peach not to make anything better.

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Quick and easy, fresh and tasty.  All words that matter when we think about school kicking back in.   With peaches still hanging on to the season, I saw this salad and knew it would make a perfect cookout side, a last day of summer picnic lunch, or even an on the go salad.

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Thanks to Cooking Light

Ingredients

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup uncooked bulgur
  • 2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 cup diced fresh peaches
  • ½ cup chopped hazelnuts, toasted
  • ¼ cup small fresh mint leaves

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Preparation

In a small sauce pot bring 2 cups water and bulgur to a boil. Place cover on the pot, reduce heat to medium, and cook about 10-12 minutes until tender.

While bulgur is cooking combine vinegar, oil, sugar, salt and pepper in a large bowl.

Drain the bulgur from the sauce pot and give a quick rinse of cold water.  Add warm bulgur to the vinegar and oil mix and toss.  Allow to cool to room temperature and add the peaches and mint to the salad.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Serves 4-6

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Hold on tight to these last moments of summer; enjoy the longer days, the warm evening sunsets, and the family time.  Also- hold on to the peaches, as the perfect fruit will be gone soon.

Blue Cheese and Walnut Vegetable Slaw

Blue cheese and walnuts, what a wonderful combination!  We have been eating a lot of salads lately and try to keep from getting tired of the waste shrinking meals.  Cheeses, nuts, fruits, crunchy things keep the variety coming to the table.  I steered away salad greens last week and dove into slaws, which can go much further than the standard sweet cream Cole slaw.

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I took this dish from a long time favorite restaurant in Charleston, SC, Vickery’s lead and added in blue cheese to traditional Cole slaw, and then because I think nuts are supreme, but some of them in too.

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Dirty minds….

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoon reduce fat mayonnaise, or regular, or nonfat, which ever your preference
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon granulated sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 12 ounces julienned vegetables, cabbage, broccoli, ect, pre bought or cut yourself
  • 4 tablespoon reduce fat blue cheese, or regular
  • 4 tablespoon toasted walnut pieces

In a mixing bowl add the first five ingredients and whisk well until combined.  Add in the vegetables and toss well until lightly coated.  Sprinkle the cheese and the walnuts and fold evenly.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

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The longer the slaw sits, the more water leaches out of the vegetables.  If you make the day before, reserve the blue cheese until you are ready to serve and give the slaw another toss so the dressing gets mixed again.

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I know most people would say that I missed a very important ingredient…. Add the chopped bacon if you want, I know it is calling for a couple of tablespoons.  Or maybe on a pork belly slider…

Marcona Almond and Duck Fat Brittle

I’ve been wanting to make this brittle for quite a long time, but for one reason or another it only made it as far as the back burner.  We all have those ideas/projects right?  But I thought about it being a perfect special touch to add to a salad for a special meal- maybe even a brunch! 🙂

I adore Marcona almonds, known as the “Queen of Almonds,” which are imported from Spain. They are shorter, rounder, softer, and sweeter than the domestic variety. When I was in Barcelona they became a staple while walking the streets of the city. I picked up the best I’ve had at the market, Las Ramblas- and have been searching for their match ever since. I may just have to return to the scene of the crime to get them again- CC: Sir Wes.

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Last fall a tub landed in our offices at work, and slowly shrank into crumbs. These Queens inspired a conversation regarding unique cookies with myself and the pastry chef, whom thought using duck fat in lieu of butter would make an interesting brittle. I couldn’t agree more as I thought of the Spain/Catalan influence with the duck and Spanish almonds.

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Ingredients 

  • 3 tablespoons + ½ teaspoon duck fat
  • 1 1/4 cups whole Marcona almonds
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Method

  • Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with aluminum foil, spread the ½ teaspoon of duck fat evenly over the foil and set aside
  • In a small sauté pan melt the duck fat over medium heat. Add the almonds and stir constantly, toasting them for 2 minutes, Remove pan from heat.

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  • In a heavy saucepan, over medium high heat, combine the sugar and water. Stir constantly until it comes to a boil. Use a damp pastry brush or a moist paper towel to remove any sugar particles from the sides of the saucepan. Without stirring allow to boil until the temperature reaches the hard crack stage, 310°, about 10 minutes
  • Remove saucepan from heat, and stir in almond mixture and baking soda.
  • Immediately pour the mixture onto prepared baking sheet, spreading the brittle quickly into a ¼ inch layer with a metal spatula. Let set for 30 minutes or until hardened. Break into pieces.

Makes about a pound of brittle.

The brittle came out super light from the baking soda which makes it very easy to eat. Not at all the kind of brittle that breaks teeth.  The flavor with the richness of the duck fat and sweet nuttiness of the Marcona almonds is balanced and perfectly decadent.

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This has been on my mind ever since our inspired collaboration and thought they would be make a great addition to a salad on a brunch. I added tuna, plums and goat cheese crumbles but would also be lovely with simple greens and raspberries. You can also serve the brittle alone in a nut or candy dish.

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While this brittle  isn’t the same as the treasured bag of almonds from the Barcelona Market, it is quite inspired by them and the search for the Barcelonan Almonds led me to that cookie discussion with the pastry chef.   Anyone ever been “biten” by the search for that perfect bite again?

#BrunchWeek has been filled with so many great ideas and tasty looking items- Special thanks to Terri at Love and Confections and Christine at Cook the Story, who have spent so much time putting the event together!  And thanks to our sponsors who made #BrunchWeek so much better!  California WalnutsLodge Cast Iron, Vidalia Onions-The Flavors of Summer, Black Gold Farms, the Food and Wine Conference and Sunday Supper, Bob’s Red Mill, Whole Foods Market -Orlando, and Stonyfield Organic

There are still a lot of incredible prizes to win- click on this link and sign up- very simple and safe too! . a Rafflecopter giveaway

This list looks amazing- I can’t wait to see everyone’s posts!!

Brunch Beverage Recipes

Irish Cream Coffee by Sweet Remedy
{Grown-Up} Lemonade by {i love} my disorganized live

Brunch Egg Recipes

An Easy Italian Egg Recipe by Cook the Story
Asparagus Tomato Frittata by Big Bear’s Wife
Sausage and Egg Muffins by Small Wallet Big Appetite
Mennonite Gold Hash & Eggs by The Vintage Cook
Eggs Over Wilted Spinach by The Vintage Cook
Brie and Herb Omelette by Noshing With The Nolands
Hangover Breakfast Burrito by Cooking In Stilettos

Brunch Recipes for Breads, Grains, Cereals and Pancake-Type Yums

Almond Croissants by Love and Confections
Granola Pancakes by Jane’s Adventures in Dinner
Blueberry Scones with Lemon Glaze by Katie’s Cucina
Strawberry Scones by Real Housemoms
Blueberry Vanilla Muffins by Take a Bit Out of Boca

Brunch Dessert Recipes

Marcona Almond and Duck Fat Brittle by Vanilla Lemonade
Kiwi and Rose Cream Trifle by Culinary Adventures with Camilla
Banana “Ice Cream” by Amanda’s Apron
Chocolate Coated Mini Donuts by Kokocooks

Texas Caviar

Not too long ago we had a town hall at work in which the team, or if you work at Walt Disney World, the Cast put together a menu based on their background and heritage.  With over 60 cooks participating, you can imagine how extravagant and flavorful this lunch was.  I took away a ton of idea’s and a full belly, not to mention a recipe or two.

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The recipe for Texas Caviar came from another part of the kitchen team, one of the most important parts- the receiving/ordering team.  They are not chefs, but let me tell you they have more food knowledge then many cooks, form cuts of meat, vegetables in season and which fish are swimming when and where.  Just a reminder to never judge a book by its cover, that everyone you encounter has something to offer.

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As all things in Texas, this “caviar’ offers big texture with big flavor.

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Ingredients

  • 1 each 15.25 ounce can reduced sodium black beans
  • 1 each 16 ounce can reduced sodium pinto beans
  • 7 ounce white corn kernels
  • 2 ounce chopped green chilies
  • 1 fresh jalapeño pepper, chopped
  • ½ each red and green bell pepper, small diced
  • ½ bunch cilantro, chopped
  • ¼ cup rice wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

Method

  • Drain and rinse beans and corn if using canned.  Combine the beans, corn and peppers in a mixing bowl.
  • Make the dressing by putting the vinegar, oil, sugar, garlic powder and salt in a small sauce pot and bring to a boil.   Immediately pour over the bean mixture and stir well.  Add the chopped cilantro and refrigerate until cool.  Serve with fresh cut veggies, tortilla chips, or over a bed of greens.

The flavors grow with time, mixing and mingling and become perfectly balanced between salty and sweet.

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This has moved to the top of my list for healthy reception dips/salsas.

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Kitchen talk has a wide range, from personal family stories, to tales of out of work shenanigans, to light to heavy teasing of one another, and of course food.  A team of over 60 can bring a lot of ideas and a ton of knowledge, and especially a lot of passion.  It’s easy to forget what a great resource is around you with all the beautiful cookbooks on the shelves and the ease of the internet in our hands or pockets.  More often than not the answers or ideas your search for is under your nose, or paperwork and order sheets in this case.

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

Summer vacation has caught up with us, which is evident in the tightness of our pants.  Time to lighten up and hopefully we can knock these extra pounds off before football season starts.  With this goal, we really try to kick up the flavors in our dishes, which helps to satisfy the rumbles in the tummy that a diet brings. 

Lemon, Feta, Tomatoes, Basil…perfect blend of flavors!

For some people quinoa sounds a bit intimidating, even exotic, which may make it seem unapproachable.  The good news is that it is very simple to cook, almost as easy as rice.  It also is very versatile, and can be used in place of pasta or rice in many dishes; but gives you much more nutrients.   Read more about Quinoa here.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup raw quinoa
  • ½ teaspoon finely chopped rosemary
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
  • ½ tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon diced onion
  • 10 grape tomatoes, split in half
  • 1 tablespoon chiffonade, sliced basil
  • 2 tablespoon crumbled feta
  • 4 cups arugula or preferred greens

Method

Cook the quinoa according to the packaging.  While the grains are cooking prepare the vinaigrette.  Combine the lemon zest, juice, vinegar and mustard in a mixing bowl.  Whisk aggressively while slowly adding in the oil.  After the quinoa is cooked, transfer it to a shallow container and pour ½ of the vinaigrette over the grains, mixing well.  Adding the vinaigrette to the quinoa while it is still hot will help the flavor steep into the grains.  Add in the onions, tomatoes, basil and feta as well, giving the chance for all the flavors to mingle and blossom.   Cool the salad until ready to serve. 

When ready to serve, toss the greens with remaining vinaigrette and assemble the plate by putting the greens on the plate, followed by the quinoa salad.

Serves 2-4, depending how hungry everyone is!

Healthy and tasty summer dish!

My mom, Queenie, was the one that taught me to put vinaigrette onto the grains (potatoes, pasta, ect) when they came out of the pot.  This trick, in my opinion is the secret to any great cooked salad. (Queenie, thank you)

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

Cheers to the fast approaching end of summer!  Enjoy!!

Curry Raisin Tuna Salad with Easy Chapati Bread

Summer nights are here and quick dinners are the on the menu!  I made a tuna salad last weekend and we had it over the week with a quick bread. 

Perfect Summer Dinner

I love tuna salad, but like many dishes I tire of the same traditional recipe.  My Mom, Queenie, convinced me on this recipe years ago.  The curry is a surprising twist and completely unique from its more traditional counterpart. 

Curry and Raisin Tuna Salad

  • 2 4.5 oz cans of light tuna, drained
  • 2 tablespoons chopped onion
  • 3 tablespoons chopped celery
  • 3 tablespoons light mayonnaise (fat-free works great, as the curry enhances the flavor)
  • 2 tablespoons ranch dressing (again, fat-free works great)
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 2 tablespoons raisins
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper

Mix drained tuna, onion, celery together with mayonnaise and ranch dressing.  Sprinkle the curry evenly over the salad and mix well.  Add raisins and the season with salt and pepper to taste.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Serves 4  

Curry Raisin Tuna Salad

Add a fresh-baked Chapati, and I am now in heaven.  Chapati is a simple flatbread, no yeast, no proofing, and hardly any prep-simple, simple, simple.  It originates from in South Asia, and is basically the same thing as Roti, also an unleavened flatbread, which is made with all purpose flour rather than whole wheat, as Chapati is.  The best part, is how user-friendly and quickly it can be thrown together, I am sure you can agree, fresh-baked bread is quite impressive, and so tasty.

Chapati

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour (substituting all-purpose flour is no problem)
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup warm water
  • 1 & ½ tablespoon vegetable oil

Place flour and salt in large bowl and mix well.  Slowly add ½ teaspoon of vegetable oil and warm water to make smooth dough, elastic, but not sticky.  Knead dough on floured surface until well-rounded and smooth.  Divide the ball into 6-8 smaller balls.  Let the balls sit a few minutes before rolling them into a circle with the thickness of a thin tortilla.  Heat a skillet over medium heat, greasing with the remaining vegetable oil.  Place rolled Chapati in hot pan and allow it to cook for a minute or two, and then flip.  Cook for another minute, there will be brown spots and air pockets in the bread. 

Serve immediately. 

Fresh Cooked Chapati Bread

I love this bread because it is so quick, but provides a fresh made bread- and that is always a good thing!

Love it!

Cheers to quick summer dinners!