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I absolutely adore sitting on my patio, nibbling on a delicious nosh, and sipping a cool, refreshing beverage. A couple of my friends introduced me to two of my new favorites for this year: a gin and tonic spiked with ginger beer and fresh ginger, plus a mouth-watering fruit and goat cheese nibble. I’d love to share them with you — come on over!

nectarine & goat cheese crostini
  • 2 tablespoons good quality balsamic vinegar
  • 2 ciabatta rolls, thinly sliced, about 16 slices total
  • olive oil, to brush
  • 5 ounces soft goat cheese
  • one ripe nectarine, pitted and thinly sliced
  • 3 or 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 16 sweet hot pecans
  • freshly ground black pepper

In a small saucepan over medium heat, reduce the vinegar by a third, until it becomes slightly thick. Set aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 425°F. To make the crostini, arrange the ciabatta slices on a sheet pan; brush or spray with olive oil. Bake in hot oven until golden brown, about 4 to 6 minutes. Let cool. Top with a slice of nectarine; drizzle with the balsamic vinegar reduction. Sprinkle with thyme and press a pecan on top. A quick sprinkle of freshly ground black pepper finishes them off. Serve immediately.

Makes 16 crostini.

I think this would be great with peaches, pears, apples, plums … well, the possibilities just might be endless!

GINger & tonic

I am not a gin & tonic fan, but this is so great — I was very pleasantly surprised … and refreshed!

 

 Mix one part each:

  • gin
  • tonic water
  • ginger beer

Add a spritz of lime juice. Pour into tall glass over lots of ice. Garnish with a spear of fresh ginger or ginger coins on a skewer. Serve immediately. AHHhhhhh!!!

 

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The evenings are still quite cool here in June, so a warm dinner is just what I need. Having just made a trip to the farmers market, I had loads of early summer vegetables on hand, so, I turned to a warm, staple favorite, risotto! To round out the plate, I also served grilled patty pan squash and white carrots! Happy summer, even if it’s too cold to eat outside!

Here’s how to make Roasted Tomatoes.

Spring Pea Risotto

  • 2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 ⁄4 cup finely chopped onion or shallot
  • 1 ⁄2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup Arborio rice *
  • 1 ⁄2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
  • 2 cups assorted fresh vegetables:
  • Cauliflower (broccoli, peas, corn)
  • freshly ground pepper (to taste)
  • 1 ⁄4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • roasted tomatoes
  • chives
  1. In small saucepan, heat stock just to simmer; cover and keep hot.
  2. In medium saucepan over medium-high heat, melt butter. Add onion and salt, sauté just until onion is translucent, about 3 minutes. While stirring, add rice, pouring it in “like rain,” so that each grain is separate. Continue sautéing and stirring about 4 minutes more. Rice will become slightly more opaque.
  3. Add wine and thyme, stirring. As you stir, drag the spoon across the bottom of the pan; when you can see the dry pan at the bottom as you drag the spoon across, add about 1⁄4 cup of the hot stock. It is important not to let the rice dry out at this point. Continue cooking and stirring. Each time you see the dry pan add about 1⁄4 cup of stock until all of the stock has been added. In about 10 minutes, when half of the stock has been added, stir in the cauliflower. Continue cooking and adding stock, for 5 minutes more, then add the broccoli. Cook until the broccoli begins to soften and turn bright green.
  4. Taste for doneness. The risotto should be slightly chewy in the center, or “al dente” as the Italians call it. Stir in the peas and Parmesan cheese. Correct the seasonings if necessary. Serve immediately if at all possible. If you must prepare this dish a few minutes in advance, keep warm, and stir in about 3 tablespoons of stock to restore the consistency before serving.
  5. Garnish with roasted tomatoes, chives and thyme.

Makes 4 main dish servings. *Arborio and Tesori rices are imported from Italy and found in Italian deli markets or large supermarkets. You may also use American risotto rice, available in some supermarkets. All have the fat, roundish grain, which will absorb a large quantity of liquid without becoming mushy.

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Sizzleworks Blog by Carol Dearth - 2w ago

Ahhh, an ice cold drink, not too sweet, with a bit of zip — that’ ginger ale! And the homemade stuff is truly awesome! And, since it’s your own, you may make it as sweet as you like.

If you have a soda stream machine, you can use that to make the sparkling water, or use club soda. Here’s how to do it:

Almost Instant Ginger Ale

  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons simple syrup
  • Ice cold sparkling water
  1. Place ginger in the bottom of a tall glass. Top off with simple syrup and ice, then SLOWLY add the sparkling water, as it will fizz up.

Makes one serving.

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Sizzleworks Blog by Randy Dearth - 1M ago

I’m just back from 3 1/2 weeks in Europe.  I have traveled a lot, especially in Europe, and I always find the people, cultures and food to be a source of inspiration and joy.  Since I frequently find myself in Italy or Spain, most of my food inspiration is based on wonderfully fresh ingredients, prepared simply, allowing the food to be the star of the meal; this trip was no different.  

The Chicken Heads & Necks, a Florence delicacy, wasn’t my favorite, but exploration is always fun!  There hasn’t been time since my return to develop recipes, but just one hint, when you’re thinking of a cheese-layered tomato, think goat cheese with a balsamic vinegar reduction!

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Sizzleworks Blog by Carol Dearth - 2M ago

Yes, it’s the great American holiday celebrating our neighbors to the south — any excuse for a party, right??!! Need menu inspiration? From casual to divine, these are my faves!

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Sizzleworks Blog by Carol Dearth - 2M ago

Friends, family, fun… a Mexican menu is most definitely in order! Beef Barbacoa is an absolute favorite, quick to put together and get into the oven to finish. It is so very flavorful and moist. A little bit of fiesta, whether you choose to put it over fresh corn polenta, in a taco, a burrito, an enchilada, on a rice bowl or in a salad, your taste buds will say “¡OLE!”

Beef Barbacoa

  • 3 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
  • 3 pound tri-tip or chuck roast (some fat trimmed off (leave some for flavor);)
  • cut into about 4 or 5 large pieces
  • 1/2 a yellow onion quartered
  • 2 large garlic cloves cut in quarters
  • 1 jalapeno (chopped (stem and seeds removed if you don’t want too spicy))
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • salt to taste (I add about 1 1/2 teaspoon salt)
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 -2 cups of water
  1. Preheat the oven to 300°F. In a Dutch oven or large shallow pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium-high heat. Working in batches, brown meat on two sides, adding oil as necessary. Remove meat from the pan; add onion, garlic, jalapeno and seasonings. Cook 2 minutes more. Return meat to the pan; add the vinegar and enough water to come about 2/3 up the beef. Cover tightly and place in oven. Cook 4/5 hours until very moist and shreds easily. There should be enough liquid to keep it moist.

Enjoy.

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Sizzleworks Blog by Randy Dearth - 3M ago

Mom deserves something truly special and memorable for the single day in the year where the family dotes on her and she is the star.  She will appreciate your time and effort as this pancake recipe takes a little additional time to prepare, but is well worth the investment.  The pancakes are light and extremely flavorful, especially when paired with homemade raspberry butter, which is so easily made a day or two in advance!  Add some roasted potatoes and home-made lemon curd for your croissants and/or English muffins, a little crispy bacon and you have a Mother’s Day Brunch she’ll talk about for years.

Lemon Cloud Pancakes with Raspberry Butter

These airy, light and delicious pancakes will be the star of any special brunch.  When paired with raspberry butter, they will shine and delight!

For pancakes:
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup 1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 3 eggs (separated)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon generous grated lemon peel
  • generous pinch of salt
  • butter
  • raspberry butter (see recipe below)
  • warm maple syrup
For Raspberry Butter:
  • 1/2 cup fresh raspberries or frozen (unsweetened)
  • 1 tablespoon water (optional, see directions)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon raspberry or blackberry liqueur (optional)
  • fresh lemon juice
For Pancakes:
  1. Using the metal blade in your food processor: Place ricotta cheese, butter, flour, egg yolks, sugar, lemon peel and salt into work bowl. Process to blend well, scraping down work bowl once, about 30 seconds. Transfer contents of work bowl to large bowl. Beat egg whites in medium bowl to medium peaks. Fold egg whites into cheese mixture in two steps, the first step being about 1/3 of the egg whites to “lighten” the cheese mixture and then fold in the remainder.
  2. Heat griddle over medium heat. Add butter and cook until sizzling. Drop batter by heaping tablespoon, or use medium scoop, onto hot griddle. Cook pancakes until bottoms are brown, about 2 minutes. Turn and cook until second sides are brown, about 1 minute. Transfer pancakes to baking sheet and keep warm in pre-heated oven. Repeat with remaining pancake batter, buttering griddle as necessary. Serve pancakes with Raspberry Butter and warm maple syrup.
For Raspberry Butter:
  1. Boil raspberries, water and 1 tablespoon sugar in heavy small saucepan over medium heat until syrupy, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. (Or to microwave: Cook raspberries and sugar, omitting water, in 1-quart microwave-safe uncovered bowl on high, until syrupy, about 4 minutes.) Strain berry mixture through sieve, pressing with back of spoon to remove seeds. Cool.
  2. Using your food processor with a metal blade process raspberry mixture, butter, powdered sugar and liqueur until smooth, scraping down sides of work bowl as needed. Add lemon juice to taste. Transfer Raspberry butter to small ramekin. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before using.)
  3. Makes about 2/3 cup.

Makes about 18 3-inch pancakes.

Here are some handy videos that will help with the techniques necessary to produce light and delicate pancakes as well as delicious roasted potatoes and lemon curd for toast/English Muffins.

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Sizzleworks Blog by Carol Dearth - 4M ago

Ahhhh, salmon! The most popular eating fish in America! In the Northwest, we are blessed with an abundance of salmon, and since it is so readily available, let’s get a bit more comfortable with the choice and preparation for our tables.

Choosing Salmon

Fresh fish smell like the sea — NO FISHY ODOR! A good fish market has quick turnover and, like good fish itself, shouldn’t smell fishy either. Lots of clean white ice. And the fish should glisten, giving you the “Take me home, I’m delicious” look.

When purchasing fresh whole fish, look for bright, bulgy, transparent eyes. Gills should be dark pink inside, never brown or blue; flesh should be firm and resist pressure. The tail should be moist, not dried out or curled up at the end.

When choosing fillets, the flesh should have a moist sheen, but not look filmy or slimy. And it should look slightly translucent – if it looks opaque it may have been frozen. Ask the fish monger if you may touch the fillet – it should spring back and be firm to the touch.

“Fresh” is not always an indicator of quality.  “Fresh” simply means is that the fish has never been frozen, and must be less than 9 days old. I would recommend some varieties of frozen fish over questionable ‘fresh’ fish. Don’t hesitate to ask your fish monger when the fish was harvested.

Species of salmon

Chinook is the largest of the Pacific salmon, often called King. The meat is excellent, firm and dark pink, rich in oil, flaking into large chunks. They run from February through November. With the highest oil content, the spring Copper and Yukon River Chinooks are the most expensive.

Coho salmon, commonly known as Silvers or Silversides are smaller, averaging 8 to 10 pounds. Cohoes are tasty and firm-fleshed, lighter in color, but excellent texture, flaking into large chunks. They run from late September through early November.

Pink salmon, commonly known as Humpback, range from 5 to 6 pounds. With a delicate pink color, they tend to break into smaller pieces, and contain less oil than sockeye or Chinook. They are caught almost exclusively in odd numbered years, running from late July through mid-September.

Chum salmon are known locally as dog salmon or fall salmon, ranging 10 to 12 pounds at maturity. With pale white to pink flesh, these separate into large chunks with a low oil content. The taste of the meat is considered slightly inferior to the Chinook or Coho. They run from July through October. Chum and Pink salmon are lower in oil and therefore more mildly flavored. These are good choices for pan-frying, baking in flavorful sauces, or in salads with light dressing. 

Sockeye is the most prized of all salmon. Its rich, red, firm-textured flesh with a high oil content is excellent for canning. Mature sockeye ranges from 5 to 7 pounds. 

Atlantics are almost as large as Chinooks. Their orange flesh has a high fat content and great flavor. They are the easiest to farm-raise, accounting for 80% of farmed salmon. Atlantic salmon is not commonly found in the Pacific, except in a farmed environment. Atlantic salmon is the most sustainable variety.

Handling

Store your fish in the coldest part of your refrigerator, usually the bottom shelf, and use within a day for best quality and flavor.

Don’t cross contaminate. Handle raw and cooked salmon separately; keep your work space clean; keep raw and cooked seafoods from coming in contact with each other. This includes cleaning the knives, containers and cutting boards used in preparation.

To find tiny bones in fillets, run your fingers along the surface. Pull bones out with a tweezer or needle nose pliers.

Cook your salmon thoroughly. Fish is cooked when it begins to flake and reaches an internal temperature of 145°F.

Cooking

When cooking fish, because of its lean, delicate quality, you will most often get the best result by using a bit lower temperature than with most other proteins. And, bear in mind that these qualities make fish cook quickly. Mind it carefully to prevent overcooking.

For grilling, broiling or smoking, choose species with higher fat content; Chinook, Coho, Sockeye, or Atlantic.

Cook salmon with the skin on. It is easy to remove it after cooking, and helps to hold the delicate fish together while turning. To prevent fish from sticking, preheat the grill or pan thoroughly, oil lightly, then set the fish down and do not move it until ready to turn. When the fish has seared it will release from the pan or grill easily.

To prevent overcooking of thinner tail sections of fillets, fold the tail end under itself, creating a thickness equal to the rest of the fillet. No matter the cooking method, fish should always be served on a heated plate, as it cools very quickly.

Doneness

How to tell if your fish is done? I like mine at an internal temperature of 145-150°F. Besides internal temperature, there are some visual signs of doneness:

  1. Flesh no longer looks translucent, but is opaque.
  2. Flesh begins to flake. Don’t take it too far here, or your fish will be overdone.
  3. Collagen may appear on the flesh (that’s the whitish substance that comes to the surface).

When cooking large pieces of fish, remember to allow for ‘carry-over’ cooking, and a rise in internal temperature of about 5°F. For smaller pieces of fish, carry-over cooking is not an issue, as fish cools very quickly. Be prepared to serve it right away.

My favorite, quick way to prepare salmon begins with a brine, and then sear-roasting, to achieve perfect salmon every time. If you are short on time, you may eliminate the brining step.

I am captivated by the effects of brining on protein-rich foods. The salt in the brine solution causes the proteins in the meat to unwind a bit, or denature, trapping extra water and flavors from the brine. The result — juicy, succulent, flavorful fish.  And, SO easy!

Quick & easy ideas for salmon fillets & steaks
  • In paper — Top fish with shredded fresh root ginger and lemon zest, julienned vegetables, a small pat of butter and chopped fresh parsley or coriander. Wrap inparchment paper or foil and bake in the oven, 450°F, 10 minutes.
  • Quick poached — In shallow pan, add 2 cups water, 1 cup dry white wine, 1 sliced onion, 1 tablespoon salt, ¼ teaspoon white pepper, a bay leaf and a parsley sprig. Bring to a boil. Add tow or three 4 to 5 ounce fish fillets or steaks. Cover and return to boil. Immediately turn off heat. Allow to stand 10-15 minutes, until fish is opaque.
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Sizzleworks Blog by Carol Dearth - 4M ago

My favorite, quick way to prepare salmon begins with a brine, and then pan-roasting, to achieve perfect salmon every time. If you are short on time, you may eliminate the brining step.

I am captivated by the effects of brining on protein-rich foods. The salt in the brine solution causes the proteins in the meat to unwind a bit, or denature, trapping extra water and flavors from the brine. The result — juicy, succulent, flavorful fish.  And, SO easy!

Pan-Seared Oven Roasted Salmon

This is my primary go-to way to prepare salmon as it is always delicious, moist and flavorful, with a crispy outside and tender, flaky inside.

for brine:
  • 3 tablespoons Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
One 1 – 11⁄4 pound salmon fillet, skinned, or
  • salmon steaks (skin and bones removed)
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
Lemon Ginger Butter (see recipe in separat blog article)
  1. Dissolve salt and sugar in 1/2 cup hot water, then add 1-1/2 cups cold water. Pour into large resealable plastic bag or shallow dish. Divide fillet into 4 serving portions if necessary. Place fish fillets in brine, seal. Refrigerate for 1/2 hour. Remove fish from brine, pat dry. Allow salmon to come to room temperature, about 15 minutes. Preheat oven and baking sheet to 425°F.
  2. Heat butter and olive oil in large heavy skillet over high heat. Place fillets in heated pan, cook 2 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Remove to heated baking sheet; season with salt and pepper to taste. Place in preheated oven; cook 5 to 10 minutes, until internal temperature of salmon reaches 135°F. Remove from oven, tent with foil. Let stand 2 to 4 minutes, until internal temperature reaches 145°F. Serve immediately, topped with 1 to 2 teaspoons Lemon Ginger Butter per serving.

Serves 4.

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Sizzleworks Blog by Carol Dearth - 4M ago

A great little topping for sear-roasted salmon! This butter freezes well, so no worries if you have a bit left over.

Lemon Ginger Butter

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
  • 2 tablespoons minced chives
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  1. Soften the butter, then stir in remaining ingredients. Refrigerate until firm. Compound butter can be kept refrigerated for several days or frozen for up to a month.

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