Vietnamese Steak Marinade

Vietnamese Steak MarinadeLighten up, Francis
It’s week two of the let’s lighten up menu. I’m not saying I have been totally good about it but I will say I have been doing better than usual. There may have been pizza for dinner one night ‘cause we had to do some laundry and straighten up the house as things had gotten way out of hand. There may also have been a hot dog at the softball game because I was hangry. (Youth sports is no place for hanger.) For the most part, we’ve been eating better.

Saturday’s fantastic weather prompted me to head outside and do some grilling. Per usual, we had a packed schedule. Thankfully, I was able to make a marinade out of stuff I had on hand. I poured it over some flat iron steaks that needed to be used, tossed them back in the fridge, and left for the afternoon. I threw the steaks on the grill when we returned for a quick dinner with some steamed rice and broccoli.

As it turned out, there were a lot of leftovers—which was a good thing if not unusual. For lunch on Monday I was able to slice up some of the meat and put it on a salad I tossed together with some spring mix, peppers, sliced red onions and whatever else I found in the crisper. What a light and tasty meal! Salad is not usually my first lunch choice but topped with the sliced meat it was the perfect meal.

Vietnamese Steak Marinade
Adapted from NY Times Cooking

This marinated and grilled Vietnamese flank steak is fantastic over a simple salad or steamed rice bowl with broccoli. It also is delicious with our recipe for Vietnamese Cucumber SaladRead more…

Amy’s White Chicken Chili

Amy's White Chicken ChiliBack to Reality
It happens every time we go on vacation. Usually, the day before we are supposed to head home, my husband starts professing our need to eat better when we return to undo any of the caloric damage we have done while sipping Mai Tais and eating hula pie. Of course, this same conversation occurs after the holidays as well. It’s kind of a running theme. (But, I digress.)

Since returning from vacation, I have been trying hard to lighten up our meals–which has been more challenging than normal due to crazy sports schedules and the recent addition of braces for one of my sons. While he would love it, the last thing the dude wants to chew right now is a steak. Pasta is an obvious choice but my beloved and I are trying to cut back the carbs. Finding common ground ain’t easy. Plus, it’s still raining and grilling in the rain is not my idea of fun…

Last Friday I roasted two chickens ‘cause chicken is a good, lighter choice. (Full disclosure, I did make mashed potatoes for the boys. I may have had a bite.). Since my husband and daughter were away at a volleyball tournament, the boys and I were only able to get through one of the chickens which meant I needed to do something with the other. I chose to make this White Chicken Chili.

It’s surprisingly not bad for you! And, since April has been noticeably chilly, a nice and warming bowl after a day of work is a good thing. Bonus, using the pre-cooked chicken means it’s pretty easy to eat for the metal mouths….

Amy’s White Chicken Chili
Yields 6 to 8 servings

This is easy enough to prepare on a weeknight if you are starting with pre-cooked chicken.  I like to serve it up in individual bowls with a choice of toppings for everyone to choose from. Feel free to experiment with your own ideas. Read more…

Hawaiian Tuna Poke Bowl (Raw Tuna Salad)

Hawaiian Tuna Poke BowlBeach Bum
Because the world is a wonder-full place, I am not in the office this week. So it’s time play the game of Where’s Amy? (Red and white striped shirt and round glasses optional.)

I’ll give you a hint, here there is sand…there is water….and, thankfully, there are cocktails with umbrellas and fruit.

Your second hint is what there is not. There is no school. There are no practices. No commute. No meetings. No emails. No laundry.

Finally, there is no cooking, or at least there is no cooking for me, which leads me to your last clue…the recipe below.

Happy Spring Break!

Hawaiian Tuna Poke Bowl  (Raw Tuna Salad)
Poke (pronounced poh-keh), a raw-fish salad that is ubiquitous at family gatherings, parties, tailgates, and supermarket delis across the islands. It is extremely simple to make—like tossing a salad—and uses few ingredients. Read more…

Marinated and Grilled Mediterranean Leg of Lamb

Marinated and Grilled Mediterranean Leg of Lamb On the Lamb
Growing up we didn’t do Easter Brunch. We ate Easter dinner at my Grandmother’s and there were strict rules that had to be followed. Along with the purple water glasses, it wouldn’t have been Easter without some asparagus, scalloped potatoes, and a leg of lamb.

My Grandmother took the traditional approach to preparing her leg of lamb which included stuffing whole cloves of garlic in small cuts all over the leg before roasting and serving it alongside some mint jelly. (Heaven forbid, we not have the mint jelly.)

As the rebel of the family, I like to buck tradition and butterfly my leg of lamb before I throw it on the grill.

Grilling a butterflied leg of lamb is super easy and you can play around with different flavors with the marinades or dry rubs. You could go Greek, Moroccan, Tejano, or whatever floats your boat. Of course, everything depends on the crowd. Not everyone wants to be transported to the markets of Marrakech for their Easter dinner—even if a grilled leg of lamb would be very tasty with couscous and grilled veggies. (Sign me up though…)

For Easter, I like to tone it down a bit and go with more Mediterranean flavors like this recipe for Marinated and Grilled Mediterranean Leg of Lamb — if you are able, try to marinate the lamb overnight. It is a simple yet flavorful marinade that will produce a tasty meal when served with grilled veggies, some roasted new potatoes, and a bit of a chocolate bunny for dessert.

Marinated and Grilled Mediterranean Leg of Lamb
Adapted from Epicurious
Yields 8 servings

Our butchers will be happy to butterfly and trim the fat from the leg of lamb for you.

The uniform thickness of a butterflied boneless leg of lamb makes it easy to grill and serve. If you don’t have access or inclination to grill outdoors, the lamb can be cooked on a hot, lightly-oiled and well-seasoned, 2-burner, ridged, grill pan. Cook it uncovered, turning over once (about 12 to 14 minutes per side).

We recommend marinating the lamb overnight and up to 24 hours. Read more…

Gravlax

GravlaxHomeland
Not too long ago I watched an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown that was filmed in Copenhagen and I found myself glued to the seat fascinated by what I was watching on the screen. My mother’s side of the family is Danish — and I don’t mean mostly Danish with a little bit of “other” thrown in. I mean, “one hundred percent my ancestors wore breastplates and rode in boats to raid your shores” Danish.

Copenhagen, and Denmark in general, have always been on my bucket list of places to visit, mainly because I want to know more about where my family is from. It never occurred to me to go because of the food. But, as I sat there watching this show, it was a revelation. Because, more often than not, when I think of Scandinavian food I am transported back to the nights my grandmother would make red cabbage. (The smell when we entered the house was horrendous. But, Gam and Mom loved it.) Other times it makes me think of the herring in cream sauce we sell here at the store. Apparently, it’s delicious. I…just…can’t…even. I’ll sell it but I don’t have to eat it.

What I was seeing on the tv screen, however, was something completely different. And, it made me hungry. To be fair, Smørrebrød is not new and, in fact, it makes a perfect lunch. But, watching the chef create classic Scandinavian dishes in a way that made the old ways new again was energizing. His emphasis on ingredients that could be grown and used sustainably was icing on the cake. Now, he did use moss that he gathered off the trees in his backyard.(Foraging is big in Denmark.) Not sure I’m ready to go there yet. But, it did get me fired up about my garden again.

If you look really closely, on the menus of the nicer restaurants around us you will notice more and more chefs creating dishes with Scandinavian influences. (Akvavit comes to mind.) I started noticing it before my virtual trip to Copenhagen and even more so since. If those sixty minutes have done anything they have made me seek those places and recipes out.

In the meantime, as I thumb through some recent cookbook purchases, I am content to make myself a little bit of Smørrebrød for snacking. And, if it includes a little homemade Gravlax, so much the better….

Gravlax
Adapted from The Spruce
Gravlax is salmon that has been cold-cured with sugar, salt, and fresh dill. Modern gravlax has a fresh, delicate flavor and is delicious served either as an elegant appetizer or as a topping for smørrebrød (open-faced sandwiches). Read more…