Monday, June 24, 2013

Watermelon Feta Salad

We noshed on this all weekend: watermelon feta salad. Together, watermelon and feta are a classic combination - sweet, crisp, soft, and salty - and can be eaten as a snack or side salad. While this recipe does not include a vinaigrette, you can easily add your own mixture of balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

Watermelon Feta Salad
Serves about 4

5 to 6 cups of  cubed, seedless watermelon
1 1/2 cups feta, cubed or crumbled
1/4 cup kalamata olives, sliced
fresh mint leaves

Combine all of the ingredients. Chill until ready to serve.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Watermelon Gazpacho

Gazpacho is the ultimate summer soup. I learned this recipe from a cooking class we took while in Barcelona last year. I would advise anyone who enjoys travel and food to sign up for a cooking class at your next destination, if possible. While they are informal, these classes are a good way to learn about about the history of the food in that region, to try new dishes and it's a souvenir unlike any other - something that you will always remember and would have most certainly enhanced your travel experience.

I've made this gazpacho periodically since that trip. I usually use my immersion blender simply because I prefer a more chunky texture. And while it can be served straight out of the blender, topping it with feta, and olives, or even boiled eggs, is not a bad idea. Enjoy this recipe! And if you are ever interested in a good cooking class in Barcelona, try Espai Boisa.

Watermelon Gazpacho
Serves 4 to 5

8 to 10 cups diced watermelon
4 very ripe tomatoes, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 small onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
1/4 cup chopped parsley
Salt and pepper

Place all of the ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Season to your taste with salt and pepper, and chill before serving. Serve topped with feta, black olives and a drizzle of olive oil.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Rhubarb Compote

A compote is  a stewed mixture of fruit, typically served as a dessert. Sometimes, it can function as a relish and served on the savory side. For this rhubarb compote, I added a bit of ground pepper since I chose the savory route. However, by simply omitting the pepper, you can use this recipe to make a sweet topping for vanilla ice cream. 

Rhubarb Compote
Makes about 2 cups

3 cups of fresh, diced rhubarb
zest and juice of 1 orange
1 cinnamon stick 
1/2 cup of sugar
1/2 tsp ground pepper

Combine all of the ingredients in a large pot. Cook over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Reduce the heat, and continue cooking until the rhubarb has softened, about 5 more minutes. Discard the cinnamon stick. Serve warm over grilled meat. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Rhubarb Oatmeal Crisp

Last Friday, a friend asked me if I had any recipes with rhubarb. And I did not! Somehow I had managed to ignore this wonderful spring vegetable (or fruit, as it is sometimes considered due to its primary use in desserts). And I think it is because a couple years ago, my first attempt at rhubarb crisp failed miserably. Not only was the dessert under-sweetened, the rhubarb base itself was a bit too runny. It took me two years get over that nightmare.

But here is, and if I may say so myself, an easy and very delicious recipe for rhubarb oatmeal crisp. This time, to circumvent any issue with the base being too watery, I have added a bit of corn starch to thicken it. Also a personal touch, which is totally optional, is the use of chia seeds in the topping (in the photo above, they are the fine, black specks seen throughout the topping.) Chia seeds, in my opinion, really have no significant taste, but they are full of omega-3 fatty acids which I think is good for my health. Happy baking!

Rhubarb Oatmeal Crisp
Serves 4 to 6

1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup oats (quick-cooking or old fashioned)
1 cup sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
5 tbsp cold butter, cut into small cubes
3 cups sliced, fresh rhubarb
1 tsp corn starch

1. Set the oven to 375 °F. Spray an 8" x 8" baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside. 
2. Combine the flour, oats, 1/4 cup of the sugar, and 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon. Next, work the butter into the mixture, until it turns into a crumb-like mixture.
3. In another mixing bowl, combine the rhubarb, the remaining 3/4 cup of sugar, the remaining 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, and the cornstarch.
4. Evenly spread the rhubarb mixture on the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Top with the oatmeal mixture, again spreading it out into an even layer. Bake at 375 °F for 45 to 50 minutes. Cool before serving or serve warm with ice cream.