Beef Carpaccio

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Ingredients

  • 1 pound very fresh beef top sirloin, top round or strip steak, cut into 18-inch-thick slices (ask your butcher to do this for you)
  • 12 cup arugula leaves
  • 6 cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 12 pitted black olives, halved
  • 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts, toasted
  • 14 cup freshly shaved parmesan cheese
  • 14 cup fruity olive oil or favorite balsamic vinaigrette
  • Coarsely ground black pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Pound the beef between two sheets of waxed paper or plastic wrap until the beef is paper thin, being careful not to tear the meat. Cut into pieces that can be draped over one another.
  2. Carefully transfer 2 large pieces of meat to each of 6 individual serving plates.
  3. Evenly sprinkle arugula in the middle of each plate. Garnish the arugula evenly with the tomatoes, olives, walnuts and parmesan cheese.
  4. Drizzle the olive oil or vinaigrette over the arugula and beef, sprinkle pepper on top and serve immediately.

Makes 6 servings.

Apricot Plum Sauce with Lime and Ginger

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Ingredients

  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 14 cup coarsely chopped ginger root
  • 2 limes, thinly sliced
  • 1 pound apricots, pitted and coarsely chopped
  • 1 pound plums, pitted and coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 12 cup tawny port
  • 2 cups firmly packed dark-brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 12 teaspoon cayenne pepper or crushed red pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 14 cup finely chopped cilantro

Instructions

  1. In a food processor fitted with a steel blade, process the onion, garlic, ginger root, limes, apricots and plums until pureed.
  2. In a medium non aluminum Dutch oven or heavy pot, combine the pureed ingredients and all the remaining ingredients except the cilantro and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat.
  3. Lower the heat and simmer until slightly thickened, for about 45 minutes. Stir frequently to avoid burning. Remove the pot from the heat, and let it cool. Add the cilantro and taste for seasoning. Pour the sauce into hot canning containers, screw on the lids, cool and refrigerate.
  4. This sauce may be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 months.

Tips

  1. There are many apricot and plum varieties. If you can find Blenheim apricots, that is my pick for this sauce, but any ripe apricot will do. I usually go with the dark-skinned Santa Rosa plums ­— but, again, whatever is in season will work fine. Fresh lime and ginger root add a complementary and spicy zing to the pure summer fruitiness.
  2. I always season to taste with salt, cayenne pepper and black pepper after it’s been refrigerated for best flavor.
  3. Apricot-Plum Sauce is particularly good with pork, chicken, quail and game hens. Dilute it with wine or nectar to use it as a marinade. So far this summer, I have enjoyed it with baby back ribs, chicken thighs and pork tenderloin.

Makes about 4 to 5 cups (3 pint-size canning jars).

Light Summer Pasta with Tomatoes and Corn

SIMPLE

Ingredients

  • 2 ears corn, kernels cut from cob
  • 2 pounds ripe Roma, heirloom or beefsteak tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped basil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped Italian parsley
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 pound fresh Mozzarella cheese, diced into 1/2-inch pieces, or perline size mozzarella balls
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Salt
  • 1 pound spaghetti or linguini
  • Extra whole basil leaves, for garnish
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

Instructions

  1. To cut the corn kernels from the cob, hold the husked corn on the vertical on a cutting board and slide a chef’s knife down the sides releasing the corn kernels. Transfer the corn to a medium pasta serving bowl.
  2. Combine all remaining sauce ingredients in the bowl and mix to combine.
  3. Add salt to a large pot of boiling water. Add pasta and cook over high heat until al dente. Drain well. Arrange pasta over sauce and mix to combine. Taste for seasoning. Garnish with basil leaves and pass remaining Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.

Tips

  • Select ripe heirloom, beefsteak or Roma tomatoes
  • Use a serrated peeler to peel the tomatoes
  • Use Parmigiano-Reggiano for best flavor
  • Use a good fruity extra virgin olive oil
  • Make sure to toss the hot pasta with the cold sauce so that the flavors meld together
  • To vary this, add some olives or olive paste (tapenade) to the sauce

 

Soft-Shell Crab with Lemon Butter

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Ingredients

  • 4 jumbo soft-shell crabs (4 ounces each)

For the buttermilk wash:

  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg

For the coating:

  • 13 cup flour
  • Pinch freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch salt
  • 18 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 18 teaspoon paprika

For the crabs:

  • 14 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 medium shallots, finely chopped
  • 14 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the garnish:

  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • Parsley sprigs

 Instructions

  1. If the crabs are not cleaned, remove the feelers underneath the shells on both sides. Wash the crabs and dry carefully.
  2. Combine the buttermilk and egg in a shallow container and whisk to combine.
  3. Combine the flour, pepper, salt, cayenne and paprika in a shallow medium dish; mix well.
  4. Place the vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet on medium-high heat.
  5. Dip each crab into the buttermilk wash and then dredge in the flour mixture until well-coated.
  6. Place the crabs in the skillet, top side down, and saute for about 3 minutes per side, turning once. When they have finished cooking and are pink in color, remove to a side platter and loosely cover with foil.
  7. Heat the butter in the skillet over medium heat. Saute the shallots for about 1 minute or until slightly softened. Add the lemon juice, parsley, salt and pepper, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Taste for seasoning. Arrange the crabs on serving plates, drizzle over the sauce (or serve on the side) and garnish with lemon and parsley. Serve immediately.

Makes 2 servings as a main course or 4 as a first course.

 

E-Cookbook Sale!

For this month only, Chronicle Books is having a sale on Diane’s book, “Seriously Simple Parties.” You can get a copy of the E-Book for only 2 dollars! Be sure to check it out, as it contains a ton of great recipes for all of your summer get-togethers! http://www.chroniclebooks.com/ebook-deals/

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Here are some of the details on the book:

From the author of Seriously Simple (more than 70,000 sold) comes another collection of enticing recipes and useful tips that will help make throwing a party just as much fun as attending one. Using straightforward ingredients, minimized prep time, and streamlined cooking techniques, hosts can serve festive meals with ease. Sample menus—organized seasonally for a variety of groups and occasions—and mix-and-match recipes for every course allow cooks of every skill level to make merry year-round. With great advice on everything from stocking a party pantry to setting an elegant table, plus vivid photos that will entice party planners into the kitchen, this book gives everyone a reason to celebrate.

Here’s what people have to say about this book:

“The PARTIES book is absolutely one of her best.  I’ve made nearly every one of the recipes, and as always, the ingredients are “seriously simple,” fresh and totally enticing, but more importantly for busy people, her instructions are clear, concise, and easy to follow.” –C.W.

“This book had so many great but easy recipes. Guest went crazy over food prepared for the brunch and wanted the recipes. This is a great book to give you easy but fancy and delicious meals. Highly recommend this book for those that like to entertain.”–J.N.

 

Whole Slow-Roasted Salmon with Sweet Mustard-Dill Aioli

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Ingredients

For aioli:

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup honey mustard
  • 1 tablespoon good-quality white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill weed
  • Salt and freshly ground white pepper

For fish:

  • One 3-pound salmon fillet, skin removed
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Fresh parsley sprigs for garnish
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced, for garnish

Instructions

  1. To make the aioli, combine all ingredients in a small serving bowl and mix to blend. Taste for seasoning and chill until serving.
  2. Preheat the oven to 275 F. Rub both sides of the salmon with the seasoning and olive oil, and sprinkle with the lemon juice.
  3. Place the salmon, skin-side down, on a nonstick or foil-lined baking sheet. Roast for 26 to 32 minutes, depending upon the thickness, until flaky and just cooked through. The salmon will appear very moist. If serving cold, let the salmon cool in the pan.
  4. Transfer the salmon in one piece to a serving platter using spatulas. Or cut the salmon into serving pieces and arrange on a platter. Either way, garnish with parsley and lemon slices.

Advance Preperation

The salmon can be cooked and refrigerated up to 1 day before serving. The sauce can be prepared, covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days before serving.

Tips

The clever cook could:

  • Add 1/2 cup of chopped European cucumber to the aioli.
  • Replace the mayonnaise in the aioli with 1/2 cup of light mayonnaise and 1/2 cup of yogurt to lighten it up.
  • Use the salmon to top mixed greens and cherry tomatoes for a salmon salad.
  • Accompany the salmon with a fresh summer salsa made with sauteed fresh corn kernels and shallots, basil and raw chopped tomato.
  • Double the recipe for a large party and serve the fish fillets one at a time. When the first platter starts to look messy, switch it out for the new one.

Serves 6 as a main course and up to 12 for a large buffet with other dishes.