Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Chicken Piccata (or at least, my delicious version of it)

My blog is not named "squeeze of lime" for nothing, I love anything citrus and chicken piccata is one of my favorite savory dishes with a kick of lemon.  Everyone here also loves capers.  I'm pretty sure most recipes call for a tablespoon or two and not a quarter cup.  As always, make it to suit you and your family.  Start with nice fresh boneless, skinless chicken breasts.  We eat chicken almost every night for dinner so we buy very nice pampered organic free-range local (as much as possible) from Whole Foods or the local butcher shop.  If you have frozen chicken breasts and there are any ice crystals remaining after thawing, the chicken is likely to tear.  Not a big deal, you just have some smaller pieces for serving.  Pounding chicken breasts to an even thickness will require some kind of meat mallet and waxed paper.  

The pounded chicken breasts obviously cook much faster than a nice plump intact chicken breast.  That's a good thing, but get the rest of the meal prepped before you start on the chicken so your chicken isn't left simmering too long on the stove.  The flour mixture you dredge the chicken in before it browns in the pan becomes the thickening agent for your piccata "sauce".  

If you are ever experimenting in the kitchen, remember a little dredging of the protein is key if you want a little substance to a wine or broth based sauce.   Deglazing your pan with wine is a lovely steamy warm step in the process.  The browned bits in the nonstick pan will easily stir in, but if you use a porcelain coated cast iron pan (like my LeCreuset pans) you may need to employ a flat whisk to loosen the good stuff.  

In a perfect world I would whip up a nice risotto like the one from my very first blog post from last April.  This was a post-lacrosse practice dinner this past week so instead I roasted some asparagus and warmed some fabulous Seeduction bread from Whole Foods and served a salad along with the chicken piccata.  

ingredients posing for my old camera :(
Chicken Piccata
2-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts 
flour, salt, pepper
olive oil
dry white wine

Do you like how specific that is?  Sorry.  Not rocket science or the food world's rocket science:  baking.  Wing it!

Place about 1/2 C of flour in a shallow bowl or dish (always use a pie dish, old school) and stir in a little salt and pepper (maybe 1/2 tsp kosher salt and 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper). 

Rinse and pat dry the chicken breasts.  Place one breast between two sheets of waxed paper.  Pound to an even thickness starting in the plump middle and working your way out to the edges.  

Dredge the chicken in the flour, coating both sides.

Heat 2 T of olive oil in a saute or fry pan over medium-high heat.  Carefully place two or more pounded breasts into the heated pan (whatever you can fit in and still have room to turn the chicken).  Brown over medium to medium high heat (about 5-8 minutes on each side).  

Raise heat to medium-high to mostly high (never all the way unless you are boiling water) and pour in 1/2 C or so of the wine to deglaze the pan.  Use a flat whisk or wooden spoon to scrape up browned bits from the bottom of the pan.  

Lower heat a bit and reduce the wine until your sauce is the desired "weight".  Add the capers by spooning them out of the jar and draining the liquid (some people like to rinse them in addition, feel free) starting with about 2 T of capers.  Squeeze in at least one-half lemon if not a nice big whole one.  That's it.  Give it a try!

pounding the chicken breasts

nicely pounded to fairly even thickness

a little flour, salt and pepper

cooking in the pan (note to self:  should have used LeCreuset for better browning)

de-glazing with white wine

added capers (abundantly) and adding lemon juice

ta-da, dinner!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Strawberry Rhubarb Galette

Finally it's Spring!  Well, it felt more like Spring a few days ago when it was breezy and warm but today's chance of flurries and drizzle is Spring-like too, just not as fun.  Somewhere it is warm enough to grow rhubarb and I've been buying the jewel-toned stalks for a couple of weeks now.  Earlier I made a rhubarb crisp from a recipe that mysteriously did not call for a thickener.  Hmmm...  doesn't really work well that way and I didn't catch it during prep so we ate it in bowls but did not post it.  Last weekend the strawberries looked fabulous along with the rhubarb so I threw together galette.  The rustic one-crust pie is just faster from start to finish than a double crust or streusel-topped pie so that's the direction I chose.  Delicious.  And you don't feel so guilty eating it for a mid-morning snack because a nice little slice resembles a pastry.  Not that either choice would be free of guilt for most people, but I just can't get that worked up over treating myself to something so delicious.  That's why I go to yoga, jump on the stair-master, lift weights, break out the TRX and all that other good stuff.  I would look amazing if I didn't have dessert, but at the moment I don't feel the need for amazing.  I'll go with fit.

I love rhubarb in all it's tart-y splendor, but marrying it with the sweet goodness of strawberries is just that much more wonderful.  I adapted this recipe from Fine Cooking's raspberry-rhubarb galette.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Crostata

2 1/4 C all-purpose flour
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
12 T cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces or dice
1/2 C ice water

1 1/2 pounds rhubarb, trimmed and cut in 1/2 inch slices (3-4 C when prepped)
2 C strawberries, stemmed and sliced
3 T flour
1 1/4 C sugar
melted butter or egg white for brushing on the pastry
coarse or sparkling coarse sugar for topping

In a medium bowl by hand or in a food processor, combine the flour, sugar and salt and either cut in the butter or pulse in the butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Add the ice water and toss just until it comes together (be especially careful in a food processor) or you will have tough pastry.  Press the dough together into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator at least 30 minutes.

While the dough chills make the filling.  Trim the ends of the rhubarb stalks and cut into 1/2-1-inch thick slices.  In a large bowl toss the rhubarb with the strawberries, flour and sugar.  Let stand 10-15 minutes for the juices to release.  

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  On a lightly floured surface, roll out the chilled dough into a 14-inch circle about 1/8-inch thick.  Transfer the dough to the prepared sheet.  

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Spread fruit mixture in the center of the dough leaving a 2 to 3-inch edge to fold over.  Carefully fold the edges of the dough over the fruit, pleating as you go.  Brush dough with melted butter or an egg white wash (one egg white and 2 T water, beaten).  Sprinkle with coarse sugar.  If you can, place foil or another baking sheet on a rack below your galette.  My filling was extra juicy and escaped onto my oven floor and that's never fun to clean up.  Bake for 45 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown and the fruit is soft and bubbling.

rolled dough

topped with fruit mixture
pleating sides


brushed with melted butter and sprinkled with demerara sugar

see the weak spot in my pastry, the collapse and the beautiful mess?
still tasty, just a little extra oven clean-up

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Seasons 52 Preview Review

My daughter, Kelly, is a Rhetorical Advocacy major (aka PR) finishing her junior year and in the thick of Purdue's practical learning experience.  So Kelly blogs and tweets like none other and one of her followers on Twitter works for an Indianapolis PR firm, Y & L PR.  She tweets Kelly and asks who her favorite Indy food blogger might be and of course Kelly replies, "My mom".  Good girl!  Long story short, I am one of twenty two guests seated around a gorgeous table for a Preview Dinner on my birthday.  My sister-in-law, Karen, arrived from Chagrin Falls just in time to join me for the festivities.

Seasons 52 now has 16 restaurants with the Indianapolis location at the Fashion Mall now officially open and taking reservations.  The Seasons 52 concept involves seasonal menu rotations, all dishes served in portions of 475 calories or less, an open kitchen with a wood-fired oven, grills (heavily employing wood chips evident the minute you walk in the door) and induction burners to limit emissions and help with their carbon footprint.  There is not a fryer in sight so one dish I really want to go back and try is their chile rellenos of charred poblanos stuffed with goat cheese and topped with Monterey Jack cheese.  Organic ingredients are used "where it makes sense" which is pretty similar to my own kitchen.

We were greeted at the door with champagne flutes to carry on our tour of the dining rooms, kitchen (where the flatbreads were just coming out of the wood-fired ovens), private/meeting rooms and the bar. The bar is gorgeous and 7 nights a week you can enjoy live piano music.  The dashing Seasons 52 Master Sommelier, George Miliotes was on hand to guide us through a wide ranging tour of wines with our meal.  One hundred bottles are offered and sixty-two wines are available by the glass.

chef's table
spices under glass down the center of the chef's table
chipotle shrimp with roasted poblanos, grilled pineapple and feta cheese flatbread
roasted lemons in the kitchen
artichoke & goat cheese with leaf spinach, balsamic onions and roasted peppers flatbread
We were seated at an impressive table for 22 and the feasting began.  Our first course was the "Amuse" course, or a little bit of something spontaneously created by the chef.  The night's amuse:   Japanese-type noodles spoon filled with Haas avocado and lump crab meat.  Yummy.  The wine:  Aveleda Vinho Verde, Portugal 2009.  A very light and crisp fruit forward wine I've actually served on my front porch in the summertime.  

our tables, that's a lot of glasses (we sampled 8 wines :) 
George, Master Sommelier
my birthday card, place card and dinner card
As with every course, Senior Culinary Director, Cliff Pleau in his chef whites gave a charming narrative of the food (including buying, prep and recipe tips) and Master Sommelier, George introduced us the wine.  The next course:  Shetland Island organic salmon and lemongrass sea scallop roasted on a cedar plank with Mer Soleil Chardonnay, Central Coast 2008.  I'm going to have to start on the amazing wine this time.  Good Lord, the loveliest Chardonnay I have ever tasted.  Produced from a Monterey vineyard (sister vineyard of Camus wines) with gorgeous layers of flavor and a buttery finish.  I did not think I enjoyed the oak barrel flavor, but this beauty made me reconsider.  Karen looked it up online.  If you need a nice $25-$30 white, try it.  Back to the food, I did not think I enjoyed salmon either, and again Seasons 52 has forced a re-evaluation.  Delicious with grilled carrots, asparagus and green pepper.  Who knew?  Well, almost everyone but me!  The secret to plank grilling is to brush the plank with olive or hazelnut oil (or any oil you favor, I would imagine) so the wood does not soak the juices out of the salmon.  The scallop skewered on lemongrass?  Also delicious.  

organic salmon and lemongrass sea scallop roasted on a cedar plank
Salad course next:  Earthbound Farm organic greens with oak-grilled mushrooms, toasted pistachios and truffle dressing.  Had I known just what this presentation involved, I would have fired my camera earlier because the salads were plated in a clear cylinder (like a candle hurricane) and the servers then twisted the cylinder and lifted it effectively mixing the salad and plating it as pictured.  Clever.  And delicious.  The truffle dressing:  truffle oil, lemon juice and soy sauce.  You will also note a little shaved Parmesan.  The wine:  Sinskey Pinot Noir, Carneros 2007.  Red wine with salad?  Worked.  Nice red with a note of butterscotch.  Robert Sinskey has been making organic wine since 1986.  Honig has also produced organic wines for 25 plus years.  Sommelier George would know.  

organic greens with oak-grilled mushrooms, toasted pistachios and truffle dressing
wine much?
Cliff Pleau, Senior Culinary Director and dinner guests
And this brings us to my favorite course (and if you have been married to me for almost 27 years you would guess this) Sonoma goat cheese ravioli with roasted garlic, basil and a light tomato broth.   Goodness in a shallow bowl.  Season's 52 employs Laura Chenel's goat cheese (they need to try Capriole goat cheese from southern Indiana, local and fabulous).  I believe the only thing tomato-y about the broth was that there were halved cherry tomatoes in it.  Possibly the home cook could use chicken or vegetable broth for similar results.  I will try to recreate this in my kitchen and share a post with you before it's too hot to cook pasta.  (It was 74 degrees yesterday and 42 degrees today so we're safe here for a while).  Wine:  Sierra Cantabria, Rioja 2006.  A beautiful smokey Spanish red.   I am not your best reviewer of red wines, but my lovely sister-in-law did find it very nice.

Sonoma goat cheese ravioli with roasted garlic, basil and light tomato broth 
Somehow I do not have an image of our final dinner course before dessert:  mesquite-grilled lamb T-bone chop and Manchester Farms quail breast, mashed sweet potatoes and bourbon-chili glaze.  The lamb chop was glazed with an unusual, but tasty black pepper, lavender and sugar glaze.  The quail breat with the bourbon chili glaze competed a bit with the sweet potatoes.   I probably could have enjoyed it more if they were not plated in a stack.  Or possibly I was just getting full!  The wines (yes, two this time showcasing two styles of red):  the new fruity and powerful (alcohol content) Markham Petite Sirah, Napa 2004 and the old world De Toren Fusion V, Stellenbosch 2007 (blend of Cab, Malbec, Petit Syrah and Merlot).  Wine Spectator and Robert Parker have both named the Fusion a World Class wine.   My red wine loving dining partner liked the Napa better.  

mini indulgences celebration tower with birthday candle lit atop
Of course you must have dessert.  We were all instructed to go through a Facebook survey to determine which Mini Indulgence dessert we "were".  One of those quizzes where you totally know how it will turn out so you throw a few answers so you don't end up as "Fruit Cup" (not a valid dessert choice away from home).  So I was "Carrot Cake" but really wanted Meyer Lemon Pound Cake so since it was my birthday that's exactly where I started.  Love Meyer Lemons.  Loved this dessert.  I did mention to my hosts that I'm really the kind of girl that if she is having dessert (and I do on at least an every other day basis) she wants the whole piece of pie or cake.  They reminded me that their Indulgences stay within their caloric cap and besides you can always have two.  Great idea.  I tried the Mango Cheesecake and found it pretty ordinary.  Bummer.  I could have gone back in for Tiramisu, Peanut Butter Chocolate, or even the Carrot Cake.  That would have just been greedy.  I do believe they always bring you the entire flight, so try whatever moves you.  

Well, that took me just shy of a month to post and I apologize for the delay.  When I know a lot of writing is required I really need to be in "the mood".  And I need to have the time.  Big chunks of productive time have eluded me recently.   Chunks of unproductive time have been more abundant.  Just a little out of the flow, but working my way back into it.  Now if only my camera would join me.  

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Ghirardelli Brownies

I have a couple of writing-heavy posts in the edit stage, but it's been sooooo long since I posted anything I thought I better whip something together this evening.  It's lacrosse season again, the senior season, the last hurrah and the last year there is the realization that tomorrow is a game day and Sara's secret buddy needs something.  First game (solid victory, first goal by Sara followed by 15 more by her team mates) was this evening so last night about this time was that moment of:  make something or (ugh) run to the store.  There was a little serendipity in the air as Greg had mentioned earlier that day that brownies sounded good and Sara's secret pal also had them on her wish list.  Boxed mix brownies have their charms, but for about five more minutes of prep time you can  make really yummy home-made brownies to your whim.  I'm pretty sure licking the spatula and the bowl is the main reason I bake brownies.  Almost instant gratification.

Here is my favorite scratch brownie recipe straight from the can of Ghirardelli Sweet Ground Chocolate and Cocoa.  Super easy.  Always good and if you buy the can, you will almost always have on hand what you need to bake a warm and chewy pan of delightful brownies.  I'm not even a "chocolate girl" and I love these.  I do not usually add chocolate chips or nuts.  I do often add 2 or 3 teaspoons of espresso powder.  I've also been known to sprinkle a tiny bit of sea salt on top of the batter in the pan before baking.  Even if a baked goods recipe does not call for salt, just a pinch can draw out the flavors and improve your results.  Just a little hint there.  I have high blood pressure (who knows why, I certainly work hard not to fit the profile) so the additional salt is usually as lightly applied as possible.  You could even swirl in a little caramel sauce.  Go crazy, or just bake a nice simple straight up delicious pan of goodness.  Love in a little pan.

Ghirardelli Brownies

1/2 C unsalted butter, melted
2 eggs
3/4 C sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 C Ghirardelli Sweet Ground Chocolate and Cocoa
2/3 C flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 C walnuts, chopped (optional)
1 C chocolate chips (optional)
2 tsp espresso powder (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.   Spray an 8x8x2 baking dish or pan with non-stick cooking spray.
Melt butter and cool for few minutes.  Meanwhile, in a medium bowl whisk together the cocoa, flour, baking powder and salt.  Return to the butter and add the eggs, sugar and vanilla and whisk until well-combined.  Pour butter/egg mixture into flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula until well-blended.  Stir in any additional nuts, chips or flavoring as desired.  Spread batter in prepared pan.    Bake for 20-24 minutes or until the brownies pull away from the sides and a tester comes out mostly clean.   If you like your brownies less chewy and more like a cake, bake in a 9x9x2 pan and bake a little longer, about 25-30 minutes.  Cut into 16 squares and serve warm or cool.  Usually half my batch is gone before cooling has an opportunity to occur.

ingredients and batter (lacrosse captain band in the background)

batter ready for the oven (the amount I left in the batter bowl was generous)

My favorite camera inexplicably and unpredictably would refuse to take pictures from the day I bought a nice new lens with my birthday money all throughout my trip to California.  It's under warranty and in for repair.  I have yet to really work on settings for an older camera to photograph all my kitchen endeavors.  This is part of the problem with why I haven't posted in so long.  The other issues mostly involve watching way too much NCAA basketball all to have it end in a pathetic effort by my beloved Boilermakers.   Good news for you is I will have more time to write this week.  Bad news for me is that I  am forced to root for all the Big Ten teams that are left, but I'm sorry I just can't cheer for the Badgers.  The Butler coach and his cute little family attend our church and he's such a great guy I'll be pulling for the Bulldogs.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

From the Net Post

Just a quick post to say I have not forsaken you. Quite the contrary, ask Susan my traveling friend about my electronic connectedness on our fabulous trip to sunny Indian Wells, California. Enjoying amazing tennis at the BNP Paribas Open, the JW Marriott's Spa (thank you to my wonderful traveling husband who stays in all manner of Marriotts so we can vacation this way) and soaking in the sun and desert heat. Ahhhhhh.... Now if only my Olympus Pen would have not decided to randomly refuse to take pictures and would show me something other than a black screen. So sad. Anyway, hope you are having a good week too. I will post away hopefully on Thursday!

Corona beer and margarita tent at the BNP Paribas Open...ahhhhh

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Birthday Coconut Cake

coconut cake

My birthday passed without a birthday cake to celebrate it and that is not an acceptable situation for someone like me who truly loves a good cake.  Kelly was passing through on Saturday so I baked my own birthday cake Friday night (just a week late) intending to send a majority of it back to Purdue with her for her Theta sisters to enjoy.  Unfortunately for the Thetas the cake was so delicious Greg vetoed that idea.  Don't worry, he did let Kelly have a piece or two.  Fortunately for my waistline, Greg has been working from home (and nibbling on cake) and Sara's Quinn had a couple of pieces too.   This recipe is adapted from King Arthur Flour with the biggest changes being I made mine in a 9x13x2 sheet pan so I could easily share and store it and I frosted my cake with buttercream icing and organic unsweetened coconut.  

If you've been following me for a while you know that I am a big fan of King Arthur Flour.  Peruse one of their catalogs and I guarantee you will want to bake something, anything, right now....  I regularly order from them:  SAF instant yeast, perfect pizza flour blend, pizza dough flavor, baker's special powdered milk, cake enhancer, pie filling enhancer and Vietnamese cinnamon.  To meet a minimum amount for free shipping I've thrown in some pretty wild things and one of those was powdered coconut milk.  Good thing, because this is a key ingredient for this cake.  You can order it online from King Arthur Flour or it's possibly available at a natural foods store or Asian market near you (think Thai and curry).  The KAF bakers added it to this recipe to replace a little of the fat and to make an "incredibly tender and moist crumb".  Indeed.  The texture of this coconut cake was divine.  

An Easter tradition at my Grandma Bayer's that I carried on was the "lamb cake".  A little vanilla cake lamb with buttercream icing and a furry coconut coat laying on a bed of icing with green food coloring enhanced coconut.  As soon as I had kids I bought the Wilton mold and have made the cake almost every Easter.  Some years I go super "fancy" and use my decorating tips for the entire lamb-scape, but most often I make a buttercream icing and pile on the coconut for the coat and add jelly beans for the nose and eyes.  Some memorable Easter lambs include the ones where I went all Martha Stewart and made the cake from scratch.  After at least two lambs needing wooden skewers to hold up their little heads and one falling flat on his little face, I concluded that the box mix was more consistent and honestly, a jacked up lamb isn't pretty.  Funny, but not pretty.  The point of the lamb cake story, is that this is where my love of coconut, buttercream and cake began.  And truly, the memories are fun to evoke and to share.  
lamb cake circa 1991(the cows, pottery and geese should give that vintage away)

My Grandma Bayer also bought an angel food cake and served it with whipping cream with thawed frozen sweetened strawberries folded in for every one of my birthdays as a child.  Chilly pink goodness.  I am closing my eyes, smelling the gas stove smell of her kitchen and seeing her serving the cake on her pretty dining room table and hearing everyone sing "Happy Birthday".  Grandma and Grandpa made it to 91 and 94, but I miss them still.  

Okay, you've made it this far so here's the cake I made for myself because my baker child is in college, my husband never thinks of cake and everyone surely thought the two desserts I had on my birthday at the Seasons 52 preview dinner would suffice.  Ha!

Coconut Cake

3 C cake flour
2/3 C coconut milk powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 tsp baking powder
10 T unsalted butter (one stick plus 2 T)
1 1/2 C sugar
5 egg whites
1 1/2 C milk, at room temperature (I used 2 %, but the original recipe calls for whole milk)
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
4 drops coconut flavoring (oops, forgot to mention that KAF purchase)

vanilla buttercream icing (I actually used the KAF mix, made half the bag never cheated like that before, but it was yummy)

1 to 1 1/2 C  coconut (I used organic unsweetened and it was perfect since the icing is super sweet, but you can use sweetened coconut and I bet toasted coconut would be lovely too)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9x13x2 baking pan with cooking spray and dust with flour shaking off excess.  You can make this in two 8-inch round pans, but I like to cover my cake pan and keep the cake at room temperature or chilled and it's so easy to just make a single layer).

Whisk together the cake flour, coconut milk powder, salt and baking powder.

In your mixing bowl of your stand mixer (or in your mixing bowl with a hand mixer), cream together the butter and sugar until the mixture if very light and fluffy, scraping down the sides and the bottom of your bowl after about 2 minutes and then beating at least 3 minutes more.  Do not sample all of the butter and sugar (have I ever told you my babysitter when I was very small made me butter and sugar sandwiches on white bread for a snack?). 

Combine the egg whites, milk and flavorings.  Alternate adding the flour mixture and the milk mixture ending with the flour mixture and beating until everything is incorporated nicely.  Scrape the sides and the bottom of the bowl one last time and beat for another minute.  

Either pour the entire mixture into your prepared 9x13x2 pan or divide it equally between two 8-inch round pans.   Bake the large pan for 35-40 minutes and the round pans for 30-35 minutes, or until the cake springs back when touched in the center and the edges are just pulling away from the sides of the pan.  I always use a cake tester too because more than once I've had to discard the center of a cake and that always makes me sad.  

Cool the cake in the large pan on a wire rack until completely cool or if using rounds, cool in the pans on a wire rack for 20 minutes and then flip the cake rounds onto the wire rack to finish cooling completely.  

Frost with icing and generously top with coconut.

coconut cake ingredients

butter and cream all light and fluffy

alternating additions of flour mixture and milk/egg/flavoring mixture

prepared pan (cooking spray and dusting of flour)

batter in baking pan

cooling cake

frosting cake

unsweetened organic coconut finishing touch

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Friday date night dinner: Kristin's Green Goddess Dressing and Baked Sole and Asparagus Bundles with Dill and Lemon

Friday night dinner for two at home usually involves something Sara does not like, so this week it was fish.  Next week begins meatless Fridays for Lent if that's your orientation.  We belong to a church that does not practice dietary restrictions of any kind, but if you are gearing up for fish on Fridays here is a new recipe you might enjoy.  Mainly I served sole because it was on sale at Whole Foods and looked so fresh and delightful.  I asked the helpful fish "monger" or whatever the fish equivalent of butcher might be how he would fix the sole and gave it my little twist.

Fridays usually mean a massive errand running extravaganza and this week was no exception.  It was an extra fun outing with whipping winds and rain.  Thank goodness for my cute LandsEnd slicker.  One stop is always Costco, because I love that place but do not love it on Saturdays and Sundays.  Since I do not work outside of the kitchen, errands are rarely run on Saturdays and Sundays.  Why add to the crowds?  Back to dinner, I decided on the "living lettuce" (2 heads of butter lettuce with roots attached) because Greg is quite fond of it.  I'm quite fond of Green Goddess dressing at the Glass Chimney (yes, I know it has the dreaded mayonnaise in it, I somehow find a way to dip my fork tines in it before I spear some lettuce).  After perusing some unsatisfactory recipes (i.e. mayonnaise based or full of ingredients that I somehow don't have in my kitchen) I decided to wing it and go with what I had on hand.  I always have a good supply of nonfat plain Greek yogurt and that would be my base along with some lowfat sour cream for taste.  I am finishing a big Costco box of baby spinach and a medium box of basil.  I bought fresh dill for the fish so, ta-da, green dressing.  So everything is ready to go in my nice KitchenAid blender and I hit the power and puree buttons and BAM sparks fly somewhere around the base and the motor whines as the blades are locked in place.  Uh-oh.  Still trying to figure out why the blades did not engage in the base and instead sheared off the tabs in the base rendering the whole thing useless.  I'll be calling KitchenAid on Monday.  So everything went instead into my workhorse Cuisinart food processor without a care.  I could live without a blender if I never made "fluffy" drinks in the summer, but I do and I'll post some when it warms up.

My little experiment turned out amazingly well.  We both had two servings of salad and used a little dressing as a sauce on the fish.  Yummmm.....

(Kristin is a) Green Goddess Dressing

3 C loose baby spinach leaves
2 bunches fresh basil
6 sprigs fresh dill
3/4 C nonfat Greek yogurt
1/2 C lowfat sour cream
3 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1-2 T olive oil
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
3 dashes hot sauce
1/4 C water to thin

Combine all ingredients except water in a blender or a food processor.  Puree or blend until smooth.  Add water to thin as desired.  Serve on butter lettuce, bib lettuce or spring mix.  Also makes a great dip for crudites and was delicious on the baked sole.

Baked Sole and Asparagus Bundles with Dill and Lemon

pan brushed with olive oil, sprinkled with freshly ground
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
4 sole filets
1/2 pound asparagus, tough ends trimmed and long stalks cut in half
juice of 1/2 a lemon
4 thin lemon slices, seeded

Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Prepare baking sheet by brushing with 1-2 T of olive oil and grinding sea salt and pepper over the oil.  Lay the sole filets on the prepared sheet and brush them with some of the olive oil (maybe you have enough already on the sheet to share with the fish).  Lightly salt and pepper the filets and squeeze the lemon to dress them.  Lay 3-4 asparagus spears across the middle perpendicular to the length of the filet.  Wrap up the sides of the filet tucking under the loose end.  Place a couple of sprigs of dill on each bundle and top with a lemon slice.  Bake until flaky, maybe 10-15 minutes.

Green Goddess dressing ingredients
all processed

sole filets with olive oil, salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon

line up the asparagus

roll up the filets, top with fresh dill and lemon slice

all done in the oven

my dinner plate (note the fork-flaking test' s destruction of the filet)