Friday, July 24, 2015

Cowgirl Cuisine - Caprese Salad

There's no easier way to use up that gorgeous produce you brought home from the farmers market than by creating a delicious salad. 

I love the bold flavors in Caprese salad, which is traditionally made with fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and basil. 

Sadly my husband won't even touch fresh tomatoes (he doesn't know what he's missing), so I add some extras like sweet Vidalia onions and spring lettuces so we both can enjoy's all about the cheese anyway, right?

Servings: 4
4 cups spring lettuces, loosely packed
¼ cup Vidalia onion, sliced
2 large tomatoes, thickly sliced
8-ounce ball of fresh mozzarella, thickly sliced
8-10 fresh basil leaves, sliced in thin strips
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar for drizzling

On a large platter, spread lettuces and onions.  Arrange the tomato and mozzarella slices over the top. Sprinkle with basil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Have a great weekend!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Now We're Really Cooking

Grilling it up at the Santa Fe School of Cooking

Back to earn our Master’s (meaning we’ve taken a class there before) at the Santa Fe School of Cooking in New Mexico and this time we grilled up a storm with Chef Patrick and 10 other culinary adventuresome folks from around the country.

Me, chopping apples for the apple, green chile and raisin chutney.

One of the things I love about traveling is the opportunity to experience regional cuisine and learn about foods that are indigenous to the area. 

An easy way to accomplish this is obviously by eating; however, for those who wish to delve further into local culinary customs and traditions, cooking classes are a fun and entertaining way to do so.

Chef Patrick Mares shares tips and techniques for the meal we are about to prepare.

During our first visit to the school a year or so ago, we learned to make tacos and tortillas – we’re not talking Taco Bell (no offense) - but these were the real deal filled with tangy pork; Chicken Al Carbon; hot and smoky shrimp; and potatoes, poblanos and spinach. 

Handmade flour and corn tortillas cradled the mixtures which we topped with fresh tomatillo and avocado salsa. 

My husband roasts the fresh green chiles.

This time around we opted for the Summer in the Southwest grilling class. 

On the menu was red lettuce with pears, walnuts and honey-sherry vinaigrette for starters; a main course of masa encrusted pork chops topped with green chile, apple and raisin chutney; and apple empanadas (think hand-held apple pies) for the finale.

Apples empanadas drizzled with prickly pear sauce.

The class began with an introduction by Chef Patrick who gave us an overview of the recipes, taught us about the ingredients we’d be using - particularly the local ones like New Mexico red and green chiles – and showed us techniques for pulling the meal together.

Fellow classmates coat the pork chops in the masa and red chile mixture.

We also had the opportunity to choose which dish we wanted to make. Since my husband and I really wanted to learn how to roast green chiles, we picked the chutney. 

And with only 12 students in the class, we were able to assist in the preparations of the other dishes too.

Grilled salad with pears, toasted walnuts and honey-sherry vinaigrette.

During the three-hour class, we chopped, diced, sliced, roasted, toasted and grilled; got to know 10 interesting folks from all over the country; sipped some local wines and beers; and shared a magnificent meal that we created together.

Great fun with cooking school friends!
Have a great week!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Stars and Stripes for the Fourth

Happy Independence Day! 

O beautiful for spacious skies,

For amber waves of grain,

For purple mountain majesties

Above the fruited plain!

America! America! God shed His grace on thee,

And crown thy good with brotherhood

From sea to shining sea!

America, The Beautiful by Katharine Lee Bates – 1913