Sunday, August 31, 2014

Grilled Peach Salad

Peaches for you, peaches for me.  Truly, at this time of year the farmers' markets are overrun with tomatoes and peaches. I am a big fan of incorporating fruit in a salad. It pairs well with a variety of soft cheeses as well, so I've often used pears or peaches stuffed with goat cheese and then wrapped in prosciutto as an appetizer. But this will be a salad version which incorporates a nice, honey, sticky balsamic to top it off.

While softer peaches are a bit more prevalent at this time, you'll want to try and find a firmer peach for the grill (or in my case, grill pan.)

Grilled Peach Salad (serves 4)


  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar 
  • 2 TB honey
  • 3 peaches, pitted and each cut into 6 wedges
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 TB extravirgin olive oil
  • 1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • Dash of kosher salt
  • 10 cups trimmed arugula
  • 2 oz thinly sliced prosciutto, cut into 1/4-inch strips
  • 2 TB crumbled goat cheese

  • Directions:

    Bring vinegar to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce heat, and simmer until vinegar is reduced to 2 tablespoons (about 2 minutes). Remove from heat; stir in honey. Cool to room temperature.

    Prepare grill to high heat. I used a grill pan because sadly (tear) I have no grill. Place peach wedges on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 30 seconds on each side or until grill marks appear but peaches are still firm. Remove from grill; set aside.

    Combine oil, pepper, and salt in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add arugula, tossing gently to coat. Arrange arugula mixture on a platter. Top with peach wedges and prosciutto. Drizzle with balsamic glaze; sprinkle with cheese. 

    Saturday, August 23, 2014

    When Farmers' Markets' Give you Tomatoes...You Make Jam!

    There are a few cooking principles that I try to live by.

    1) Buy and eat produce when it's in season. It's far better, often cheaper, and that's how it really should be done.

    2) If you took the time to make something once, and it was so good it was worth repeating, you should do that.

    3) And when you make something in a large quantity, you should share the wealth. And freeze what's left.

    This rainy Saturday, I decided to do just that. Tomatoes are in abundance right now and not only do I have a few dinner events this week to look forward to, but I also wanted to plan ahead and make something that I could freeze for a party I'm throwing in September.

    So I decided to resurrect my tomato jam recipe that I'd been waiting for the right weekend to make. You can find my original post with the recipe here. It's time intensive, but the end result is worth it. I will be serving on melba toast with chevre cheese for today's BBQ and other upcoming festivities. So if you have the time and a ton of tomatoes, make this soon! And if you have canning equipment...I'm jealous. But use it. This would be a great jam to have on hand for the holiday season.

    So that's my jam. My sloooooooow jam. :)

    Monday, August 18, 2014

    Cheering on Nick Evans...and his Apricot Habanero Wings!

    Last week, my friend Nick of fame competed on NBC's Food Fighters. A group of us who all knew Nick when he was in DC got together to cheer him on. Each of us made one of his recipes to share. I made the brown butter oatmeal dark chocolate chip cookies that I make on the regular for my officemates. And anyone who is so lucky to snag one. We also did a beer tasting of a dozen New Belgium beers. The tasting aspect was done in fairly quick succession during commercial breaks.

    And to keep things interesting, Nick wasn't the only one competing for a little dough. We set up bets on various rounds as to the outcome...and I lost horribly. But Nick was truly the big winner in our book. Despite losing the first two rounds (he was robbed!) he walked away with $70,000. He beat some of the top chefs out there and we couldn't be more proud. It was really cool to see how far he's come in doing something he truly enjoys. And not everyone can say they've had a "Little Nicky"-style devil graphic made of them.

    Our amazing host, Scott, made two of the dishes that Nick competed with on the show. Interestingly enough these were the two dishes that he didn't win money on: the chorizo and sweet potato tacos and the apricot habanero wings. In tonight's post, I'm sharing that wing recipe. Just in time for football season. If you're a fan of sweet paired with a bit of spice, or orange chicken, this may be the wing for you!

    Apricot Habanero Wings


    • 2 pounds chicken wings
    • 1/2 onion, grated
    • 2 TB unsalted butter                  
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 3-4 habanero peppers, seeded and minced
    • 2 TB soy sauce                  
    • 1 tsp. paprika
    • 1/2 cup apricot jam
    • 1/4 cup water
    • Salt and pepper
    • Blue cheese
    • Scallions, chopped


    Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly oil a large baking pan and place wings, skin-side up on the oiled pan. Season well with salt and pepper.

    Bake wings for 25 minutes at 400 degrees. Turn pan 180 degrees and bake for another 20 minutes. Keep wings skin-side up the entire time for baking.

    While wings bake, add butter to a saucepan over medium heat. Once melted, add grated onion and minced garlic with a pinch of salt. Cook until veggies are soft, about 4 minutes.

    Remove stems and seeds from habaneros. Wear plastic gloves to avoid disaster...because these bad boys are hot! Mince habaneros very finely. If you don’t use gloves, wash your hands well immediately after handling the peppers.

    Add habaneros to saucepan along with apricot filling, soy sauce, water, and paprika. Bring sauce to a simmer and cook over low heat for 5 minutes. Keep sauce warm, but if it’s done way before your wings, take it off the heat and then reheat before you serve so the sauce doesn’t get too thick.

    When wings are done, remove them from pan and add them to a large bowl. Toss with apricot sauce.

    Serve wings immediately garnished with lots of fresh scallion greens and blue cheese dressing.

    Sunday, August 10, 2014

    Food Porn: Chicken and Waffles

    Up until a few years ago, I had never heard of the concept of eating fried chicken with waffles for breakfast. These two very different food items didn't make all that much sense together. Fried chicken for dinner? Sure! Pair it with some biscuits and mashed potatoes? Even better. But paired with waffles for breakfast? That just seemed downright odd. But was someone who often struggles on what to order at brunch, this dish is the best of both worlds. I like a little sweet with my salt, and this combination hits it dead on.

    There are a bunch of places that serve this dish on their menu, but I recently tried out the Spit Chicken with Waffles at Kapnos for a friend's birthday brunch. Instead of deep frying the chicken, it was cooked on a spit giving it a crispy, flavorful skin but without all the breading that typically comes with this dish. The smoky maple syrup over the waffles topped this off and definitely gave the dish the right mix of sugar and spice and everything nice. If you want to try this flavor profile without all the fried-goodness, this is a great option for you? Otherwise, check out the chicken waffles at Founding Farmers or Birch and Barley. Or any of the awesome Soul Food restaurants in the DC area. Florida Avenue Grill anyone?

    Tuesday, August 5, 2014

    Orzo with Chickpea Salad

    Summertime in DC means countless of opportunities to picnic outdoors. From the Sunday drum circles in the park near my condo to the outdoor movie nights throughout the city, I regularly have picnic food on the brain. A few weeks back I went to the first Screen on the Green of the season. This annual tradition features four weeks of free movie classics on the National Mall. This year's offering included The Karate Kid, so it was a no brainer that I would attend for some Wax On/Wax Off action.

    We had beautiful weather for it and I decided to make one of my favorite picnic side salads, an orzo with chickpea dish. I've posted about this dish before when I first started this blog, but it's so nice I'll post twice. This holds up really well in the heat and makes for a great lunch for work as well. So the next time you are asked to bring a side for a picnic outdoors, consider making this!

    Orzo with Chickpea Salad (serves 4)

    • 1 cup uncooked orzo (rice-shaped pasta)
    • 1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
    • 1/2 cup (2 oz) crumbled feta cheese
    • 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
    • 1 (19-ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained
    • 3 TB fresh lemon juice
    • 1 1/2 TB extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1 TB cold water
    • 1/2 tsp. salt
    • 1/2 tsp. bottled minced garlic 

    Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain and rinse with cold water.

    Combine pasta, onions, cheese, dill, and chickpeas in a large bowl, tossing gently to combine.

    Combine juice and remaining ingredients in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Drizzle over pasta mixture; toss gently to coat.

    Friday, August 1, 2014

    Snap Pea and Pork Stir-Fry

    Over the past few posts, I've walked you through several pulled pork recipes from my friend Nick's cookbook: Love Your Leftovers. You can find the core pulled pork recipe in my post from last week.

    I had frozen about a half pound of the pulled pork when I initially cooked it a few weeks back. I decided it was time to make one more dish with the leftovers and I must say this was my favorite of the dishes I've made from the book so far. Perhaps it's because I love a good stir fry, or because it was the first time I utilized pork in this way in a stir fry, but this was awesome. I cut the recipe in half and got three meals out of it, but I'm including the recipe for four below.

    I enjoyed this while sitting on my roof deck and skimming through some issues of Cooking Light that have been piling up during my busy summer. I'll be back to cooking dishes from other sources next week, but you better believe I'll be revisiting Nick's book and blog again soon. Because I just can't quit you, Nick Evans.

    Snap Pea and Pork Stir-Fry (serves 4)

    • 1 bunch of thin asparagus
    • 1 3-inch piece fresh ginger
    • 2 large shallots
    • 2 cloves garlic
    • 1 lb. (about 3 cups) chopped pulled pork
    • Kosher salt
    • 2 cups sugar snap peas
    • 3 TB vegetable oil
    • 1 red bell pepper, diced
    • Cooked rice for serving
    Stir-Fry Sauce:
    • 1/4 cup soy sauce
    • 1/4 cup water
    • 2 TB rice wine vinegar
    • 2 TB fish sauce
    • 1 TB brown sugar
    • 1 tsp. cornstarch
    • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes


    Whisk together all the ingredients for the sauce and set aside for later.

    Cut off hard ends from asparagus and chop into 1-inch long pieces.

    Mince the garlic, shallots and garlic finely and set aside.

    If there is liquid in the pulled pork (if you cooked this fresh), drain off as much as possible. You'll want the pork to be relatively dry to start. For the recently thawed pork that I used, this was not an issue.

    Bring a large pot of water to boil and season well with kosher salt. Once boiling, add the asparagus and snap peas and cook for 1 minute. Drain and rinse vegetables under cold water to stop the cooking.

    Heat a large wok over high heat. Once hot, add oil followed by pork. Cook pork over high heat until it starts to turn crispy, about 5 minutes.

    Add diced red peppers and continue to cook for another 2-3 minutes.

    Add garlic, shallot, and ginger to wok and cook for another minute, stirring constantly to ensure ingredients don't burn.

    Add the sauce to the pan and toss to combine. Let sauce reduce for about 30 seconds.

    Finally add blanched vegetables and toss to combine. Serve stir-fry immediately over rice.