Seduction Meals is about food + romance and the premise that everyone should learn to master one dish that is their signature dish—a Seduction Meal, to enchant and captivate that special someone in your life...
In the spirit of Meatless Mondays why not explore the beauty of bell peppers. Bell Peppers, also known as sweet peppers, come in different shapes and the colors. The interesting thing about bell peppers is their lack of capsaicin, which is what gives spicy hot peppers their heat. The colors vary
based on when the pepper is picked; the green color is the first stage
of a pepper's life and yields the sharpest flavor. Red, yellow and
orange peppers are picked a few days or weeks later and give way to a
more mellow flavor.
(source Wikipedia): Pepper seeds were later carried to Spain in 1493 and from there spread to other European, African and Asian countries. The misleading name "pepper" (pimiento in Spanish) was given by Christopher Columbus upon bringing the plant back to Europe. At that time peppercorns, the fruit of Piper nigrum, an unrelated plant originating from India, were a highly prized condiment; the name "pepper" was at that time applied in Europe to all known spices with a hot and pungent taste and so naturally extended to the newly discovered Capsicum genus. The most commonly used alternative name of the plant family, "chili", is of Central American origin. Bell peppers are botanically fruits, but are generally considered in culinary contexts to be vegetables. Today, China is the world's largest pepper producer, followed by Mexico.
Nutritional Value: Compared to green peppers, red peppers have more vitamins and nutrients and contain the antioxidant lycopene. The level of carotene, like lycopene, is nine times higher in red peppers. Red peppers have twice the vitamin C content of green peppers. Also, one large red bell pepper contains 209 mg of vitamin C, which is three times the 70 mg of an average orange.
This dish is one of my new favorites. I love the fact that it only took minutes to prepare, was an easy recipe to follow, and the macadamia sauce is out of this world delicious. Crispy trout with sorrel and macadamia sauce is a recipe created by Chef/Owner John Novi of the DePuy Canal House in High Falls NY. I discovered this recipe while reading The Valley Table magazine. In Issue 45, there is an article on page 73 titled Eating by the Trout Season which features two enticing recipes--the one featured in this post as well as another which will follow shortly--Whitecliff Winery Rainbow Trout Fish Tacos.
As stated in the article, April though June is the season for ramps, morels, and trout. With its sweet., lean meat, the brook trout, New York's official state fish, is smaller than brown or rainbow trout. While this versatile fish can be used in everything from salads to tacos to pastas--by far, most chefs prefer to simply grill or saute it, with little fuss. One of the best resources for local fresh trout is Eden Brook Fish Company in Monticello New York. And good news... you can order online..
Crispy trout with sorrel and Macadamia nut sauce Recipe by John Novi, DePuy Canal House
4 trout fillets (skin on)
1 cup macadamia nut (walnuts may be substituted)
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup minced onion
3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped sorrel (basil, mint or cilantro can be substituted)
salt and cayenne to taste
fish stock sufficient to produce desired consistency
flour for dredging
Method: Sauce 1. Pound nuts with the garlic, salt and cayenne to a paste consistency. 2. Blend in the onion, vinegar, sorrel and fish broth until thick and creamy.
Method: Trout 1. Dredge each fillet in a small amount of salted flour. 2. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil to a large saute pan, turn heat high and place the prepared fillets skin-side down onto the hot pan. Saute for 3 to 4 minutes on first side. 3. When the color is rich and golden, flip the fillets to the second side. Cook about 1 additional minute, then remove to a plate lined with paper towel to absorb excess oil.
To plate/serve: 1. Place fish skin-side down onto plate. 2. Spoon the sauce down the middle of each fillet. Garnish with fresh sorrel.
As we welcome the warm weather, sunny skies and Spring flowers, we begin to favor lighter meals made with fresh ingredients. Here is an intriguing recipe: Strawberry gazpacho served over a mound of jicama salad, topped with goat cheese and a sprig of thyme.. The picture below says it all. Enjoy! Strawberry Gazpacho Serves 24
6 lbs. Fresh California strawberries, stemmed and chopped
2 1/4 pounds plum tomatoes, chopped
1 1/2 pounds English cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
9 cloves garlic
3 jalapeño peppers
1 1/2 cups Sherry vinegar
Salt and black pepper as needed.
8 cups Jicama, peeled and julienned
2 bunches chives, cut in 1 1/2-inch length
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
Salt and pepper as needed.
1 1/2 pounds fresh goat cheese
Directions To make Strawberry Gazpacho, in blender, purée strawberries, tomatoes, cucumbers, garlic, jalapeños and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. yield: 24 cups
To make Jicama Salad, combine jicama, chives, oil and thyme; season with salt and pepper. yield: 8 cups
Plating the Dish Mound 1/3 cup Jicama Salad in center of soup plate. Carefully ladle 1 cup Strawberry Gazpacho around salad; top with 1 ounce goat cheese, formed into a ball and garnish with a small sprig of thyme
Recipe courtesy of the California Strawberry Commission.
What's Fresh in Early September: Eggplant, Asian Pears and Cucumbers by Erin Harris Seduction Meal suggestions by Terry Dagrosa
Let the flavors of sun-ripened fruits and vegetables linger on your taste buds as you prepare for autumn's chill. Keep your meals fresh and your heart healthy by incorporating eggplant, Asian pears, and cucumbers into your diet. All three are at peak ripeness right now, so fill your fridge before pumpkins and gourds take over the market stands.
Eggplant Awkwardly shaped, curvy eggplant can be a wonderful treat if prepared correctly. Choose ones with deep, glossy skin; sprinkle with salt before cooking to prevent the absorption of too much oil. Eggplant comes in a range of hues, from shades of ivory to the deep purple of Japanese or globe eggplant. Christina Nunez of NPR says that most varieties share the same flavor regardless of color, but notes that the more seeds an eggplant contains, the more bitter its taste.
Asian Pears What makes a pear Asian? Well for one thing, it lacks the tapered shape of European varieties, such as Anjou or Bosc, and is typically much juicier and sweeter. Like an apple, it ripens on the tree and bears crisp, white flesh. You've probably seen the 20th Century (aka Nijisseki) Asian pear, characterized by smooth, golden skin, at your local market.
Looking for a warm dish to tuck into when the cool weather rolls in? Try this recipe from the San Francisco Chronicle. Warm flatbread is topped with sliced Asian pears, caramelized onions, blue cheese and soy-glazed pecans. The perfect balance of tangy, pungent and sweet, this flatbread would serve as a great appetizer for a group or as a delicious meal for one. The melon undertones of Asian pears echo the sweet flavors of summer as they seep into this robust, early autumn dish.
Cucumbers Markets overflow with piles of cucumbers this time of year and you may want some help determining the uses of tiny gherkins or long Japanese cucumbers. Cook's Thesaurus provides images and information about each variety, from mild English cucumbers to bumpy, suitable-for-pickling Kirby cucumbers.
When it comes to baking, this is a simple, yet completely satisfying sweet treat--a peach blueberry galette. To many, this is less complicated, and less time than baking a pie. Galette is a general French term used to designate different types of round and flat crusty cakes. Its more of a free form pastry. You can use any fruit combo you wish--plums, raspberries, cherries whatever you like. Go for what's in season--buying fresh, ripe fruit will make all the difference imparting a more intense flavor. Serve this warm with a dollop of creme fraiche or whipped cream, and your favorite tea or coffee to give you energy for the next course.Yummy!
peach blueberry galette
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour 3 tsp sugar 3/4 tsp salt 6 tbsp unsalted butter, chilled, cut into small pieces 6 tbsp vegetable shortening, chilled 3 tbsp ice water
3 peaches, cut in 1/4 inch wedges about 1/4 cup sugar--use more or less depending on how sweet the fruit is 1/2 pint of blueberries 1 egg yolk 2 tsp heavy cream sliced almonds
In a food processor, pulse flour, sugar, and salt. Add butter and pulse just to coat pieces with flour. Add shortening and do the same, pulsing to cover with flour - you will wind up with "pea-size" pieces of shortening. Transfer dough to a bowl. Gradually add ice cold water, tossing with a fork to moisten. Briefly and gentely knead dough to form a ball. Set aside
Place sliced peaches in a bowl and add 2 tbsp of sugar and toss. In a separate bowl, add blueberries and 1 tbsp of sugar.
Preheat oven to 425 F. On a lightly floured surface roll out dough to a 12" circle about 1/8" thick. Gently lift and place this onto a cookie sheet covered with parchment.
Starting about 1 1/2 inches from the edge, place peach slices in two circles. Add blueberries to the center and add a few over the galette decoratively.
Fold over the edge of the dough, overlapping the fruit. Sprinkle a small handful of sliced almonds over the fruit. You can also use glazed pecans. Next, whisk together the egg yolk and cream and brush this mixture over the rim of the galette. Sprinkle the remaining sugar over the galette and the rim.
Bake until browned, about 20 - 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for about 10 minutes. Loosen the edges and center with a spatula. Lift the parchment to a cooling rack and carefully slide off onto the cooling rack or platter. Serve warm with a dollop of cream.
For those who love mushrooms and want to experiment with more recipes here's a slide show of different mushroom varieties and a quick description of each. When you are ready to cook your romantic meal for two, here arelinks to some of our favorite mushroom recipes:
White button. The most popular mushroom, white buttons represent about 90 percent of mushrooms consumed in the United States.They have a fairly mild taste and blend well with almost anything. Their flavor intensifies when cooked.
Crimini. Also known as baby 'bellas or browns, criminis are similar in appearance to whites, but have a light-tan to rich-brown cap and a firmer texture. Criminis have a deeper, earthier flavor than whites.
Portabella. A larger relative of criminis, Portabellas have tan or brown caps and measure up to 6 inches in diameter. They have a deep, meat-like texture and flavor.
Shiitake. Shiitakes are tan to dark brown and have broad, umbrella-shaped caps, wide open veils, tan gills and curved stems that should be removed.They have a meaty texture and are rich and woodsy when cooked.
Enoki. Enoki have tiny, button-shaped caps and long, spindly stems.They are mild tasting and crunchy.
Maitake. Maitake appear rippling and fan-shaped, without caps. They are also called "Hen of the Woods."Maitake have a distinctive aroma and a rich, woodsy taste.
Oyster. Oysters can be gray, pale yellow or even blue, with a velvety texture.Oysters have a very delicate flavor.
Beech. Beech mushrooms are petite with either all-white or light-brown caps. Beeches have a crunchy texture offering a delicately mild flavor that is sweet and deliciously nutty
Truffles. While nothing to look at truffles are a highly praised culinary ingredient. It has a smell similar to deep fried sundflower seeds or walnuts. Brillat Savarin called the truffle "the diamond of the kitchen" and praised its aphrodisiacal powers.
Wild Mushrooms. Some mushroom lovers enjoy searching the woods for prized wild varieties of mushrooms, such as morels, truffles and chanterelles. Because there are thousands of varieties of inedible and poisonous mushrooms, it's important to never eat wild mushrooms without the guidance of a trained mycologist, or mushroom expert. Poisonous mushrooms often resemble non-poisonous mushrooms, so it's best to purchase commercially grown mushrooms. If you want to try wild varieties, be sure you only eat those purchased from a trusted retailer or served in a restaurant.
How to Clean Mushrooms:
Brush off any dirt with a damp paper towel or fingers.
Rinse fresh mushrooms only briefly under running water and pat dry with a paper towel. Never soak them, as they absorb moisture.
Whenever you can--always buy FRESH. August and September are THE months to experience the true flavor of tomatoes and this salad is the perfect end-of-the summer treat. I am a big fan of Bon Appetit Magazine. A few years ago I discovered this recipe in the magazine and have been serving it up ever since--never without praise. I make it with or without the garlic toasted bread and I typically serve it with a grilled rib eye steak. (See next week's Grilled Rib Eye Recipe). You can find the original tomato salad recipe at Epicurous.com).
Tomato Blue Cheese Salad 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil 1 cup grape tomatoes or halved cherry or pear tomatoes 1/2 cup chopped green onions
10 medium heirloom tomatoes of assorted colors, cored, thinly sliced 1 small red onion, sliced paper-thin 3 celery stalks, sliced thin on diagonal 1 1/2 cups coarsely crumbled blue cheese
Combine 1/3 cup oil, cherry or grape tomatoes, and green onions in medium bowl; toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Overlap tomato slices in concentric circles on platter, alternating colors. Scatter onion and celery slices over tomatoes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spoon tomato and green onion mixture over. Sprinkle with crumbled cheese.