May 28, 2006

Grilled Southwestern Salad with Shrimp

For Memorial Day weekend, my friends and I spent one evening grillin’. Speaking of grilling, let me use this opportunity to make a very important note—grilling is not the same as bar-b-queing.

Ever since I moved up North, I have noticed that these northern people think throwing some hamburgers on the grill is bar-b-queing. Obviously they have never been to the South where we know what true bar-b-queing is! Contrary to grilling, bar-b-queing generally requires pork ribs (or beef, when in Texas) that have been slowly cooked over a grill allowing the smoke to gradually seep into the meat. Anything else is just grillin’.

Now that we have that cleared up, let’s move onto what we grilled up. Most of our friends grilled hamburgers. Carrie prepared the hamburgers by mixing the meat with finely chopped onions, worcestershire sauce (can any of you pronounce this sauce?), and salt. They looked great!

Alison and I opted for a grilled southwestern salad with shrimp. Aside from having to spend some time chopping, this is a very simple dish and a nice deviation from the normal grilling food. Bobby Flay would be proud.

Before I share the recipe, I should point out that when grilling shrimp, you need to place the shrimp on kebab sticks. Otherwise, the shrimp would just fall through the grill. If the kebab sticks you are using are made of wood, make sure you first soak the sticks in water to prevent them from burning—or worse, catching on fire. That would be a bummer.

Okay, here is how I made this meal (for about 4 servings):

Grilled Southwestern Salad
  • 2 large tomatoes, diced
  • ½ large red onion, diced
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Juice and zest from 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 4 ears of corn
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Mix first five ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. Grill corn until grill marks appear. Cut corn kernels off the cob and add to the bowl. Note that the cobs will be very hot. I used a napkin when holding the top of the cob to cut the kernels off.
  3. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Grilled Shrimp
  • 1 ½ lb shrimp, peeled
  • Cumin (you can also use cayenne pepper or paprika)
  • Pepper
  1. Place shrimp onto kebabs.
  2. Sprinkle a little cumin and pepper over shrimp on both sides.
  3. Place shrimp kabobs on grill and cook through. Remember to not over cook or the shrimp will become tough.
Very easy and very good. Enjoy your Memorial Day weekend!

Labels: , , , , ,

May 23, 2006

Daily Chocolate - Vergennes, VT

You know it is time to post when a reader emails you wondering if you are deathly ill since it has been so long since the last post! Okay, okay, I get the idea!

Things in “Kristin world” have been quite hectic with work and summer activities. For instance, this past weekend a couple friends and I drove up to Vermont for a college friend’s wedding (it is the start of that time of year, after all). Our friend, Gus, married such a cute, nice woman at the Basin Harbor Club in the little town of Vergennes.

For those of you not familiar with Vermont, it is just a fabulous state that is hardly touched by the complications and ugliness of city life. And get this New Yorkers—there are stars in Vermont! No, no, not the movie kind—the kind you find in the sky! Oh, and you know how us New Yorkers buy candles to make our apartment smell like fresh air? Get this—in Vermont the fresh air smell comes just by opening the window! (And speaking of windows, here is a picture of the view we had from out lodge’s deck. Beautiful, right?)

Anyway, as you can see I love Vermont. I have been many times before but not in the area we were in this past weekend. Vergennes is located in northern Vermont on Lake Champlain, which is along the Upstate New York boundary (ideally about a 5 hour drive from Manhattan, but realistically with traffic a 7 hour drive).

Before the wedding on Saturday, O’Hara, Christina and I headed into the town to explore Vergennes. As we were walking around, we veered off of Main Street onto Green Street and spotted a darling chocolate shop. Christina exclaimed, “Chocolate!” Needless to say, we stopped by.

Evidently this is a relatively new shop in the town, which opened sometime in the past year. Like many of the trendy chocolate shops in Manhattan, Daily Shop has a unique selection of high-end chocolates. Choices included Black Rum Caramel with Grey Salt, Maple-Chipotle Pecan Cluster, Raspberry Fig Chocolate Pate’, and Lemon-Lavender-Almond White Chocolate. Don’t these all sounds fabulous? Well, they were! (Yes, we ordered all of these.)

Should you be in the Vergennes area, I recommend that you pay Daily Chocolate a visit. The people there are very friendly, and the selection is fabulous. What a nice treat to nimble on as you walk around the little town...

Unfortunately I was unable to find a website for them, but their address is as follows:

Daily Chocolate, 7 Green Street, Vergennes, VT 05491, Phone: (802) 877-0087.

Update: Daily Chocolate now has a website! It is

Labels: , ,

May 13, 2006

Strawberries with Rosemary Balsamic Reduction

Do you have leftover sauce after making my Scallops with Rosemary Balsamic Reduction? Why don’t you serve it with some strawberries for a quick and yummy dessert?

This sweet yet bold reduction goes well with not only scallops, but is also a great partner with fruit.

All you do is serve some strawberries and drizzle the balsamic reduction over them. This desert will taste as great as it looks!

As a reminder, here is how you can make the reduction (for about 2 servings):
  • ½ cup Balsamic vinegar
  • 1 sprig of Fresh rosemary (about 5-6 inches)
  1. In a small saucepan add balsamic vinegar and bring to a simmer. Once it simmers, turn heat down to low so that the vinegar is just barely simmering. Once the vinegar has reduced by half, it is ready to remove from the stove. Be sure to discard the rosemary sprig.
  2. Let reduction cool, then serve with fruit.
Keep in mind that the slower the vinegar cooks down, the more time the rosemary can release its oils into the reduction. You also want to pick the smallest saucepan you have because the less surface area there is, the slower it will reduce. Furthermore, you need some depth in the vinegar in the pan so that the rosemary can float freely and not burn.


Labels: , ,

May 09, 2006

Scallops with Rosemary Balsamic Reduction

Sunday evening I was looking for a simple, healthy meal that had some pizzazz, so I decided upon scallops with this balsamic reduction. It was an easy meal to make, yet an elegant treat to end off my weekend properly.

Balsamic vinegar comes from grapes and, when concentrated, is actually quite sweet with a robust flavor. It is a refreshing taste and goes well with seafood. Although I served my balsamic reduction with scallops, you can certainly serve it with just about any other fish. I also added a fresh rosemary sprig to my balsamic vinegar as it was reducing, and this added a wonderful well-rounded flavor to the sauce.

Here is how I made it (for 2 servings—See Note 1):
  • ½ cup Balsamic vinegar
  • 1 sprig of Fresh rosemary (about 5-6 inches)
  • 2 tbsp Olive oil
  • 1 lb of Sea scallops
  • Parsley to garnish
  1. In a small saucepan add balsamic vinegar and bring to a simmer. Once it simmers, turn heat down to low so that the vinegar is just barely simmering. (See Note 2) Once the vinegar has reduced by half, it is ready. Remove and discard the rosemary sprig.
  2. As the vinegar is reducing, add olive oil in a separate pan over medium heat and let heat for a minute or two.
  3. Add the scallops flat-face down. Cook equally on each side until the scallops are opaque. This should take about 5-8 minutes.
  4. Serve the scallops on serving dishes and drizzle the balsamic reduction over them. Sprinkle the parsley over the scallops to garnish.

  1. If you make this for 1 serving, do not half the balsamic reduction recipe. If you do, there will not be enough liquid for the rosemary. Just save your leftover reduction and use it on another dish.
  2. Keep in mind that the slower the vinegar cooks down, the more time the rosemary can release its oils into the reduction. You also want to pick the smallest saucepan you have because the less surface area there is, the slower it will reduce. Furthermore, you need some depth in the vinegar in the pan so that the rosemary can float freely and not burn.

Labels: ,

May 06, 2006

Lemon Pasta with Ham

This is an incredibly easy recipe that has a nice, unique flavor. This recipe of mine emerged from a recipe I saw in Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food. Her recipe, Herbed Spaghetti with Pasta, caught my eye because it called for wheat pasta. I have some leftover wheat pasta from when I made my Pancetta and Sage with Linguini Pasta so I figured this would be a great way to use the rest of it.

Martha’s recipe utilizes butter, but in my attempt to be healthier (i.e., look good for the summer!) I substituted it for olive oil. I also really wanted to emphasis the fresh lemon flavor so I used a lot more lemon zest and juice than what her recipe calls for. Lastly, I included a little thinly sliced ham (apple smoked ham--yum!) to add a nice warm flavor to the dish and provide an extra dimension.

Here is the recipe I used (for four people). If you make this, don’t worry too much about measurements—just go with what tastes right for you:
  • 4 Servings of wheat spaghetti or linguini (about 8 oz, or 4 cups cooked)
  • 1-2 tbsp Olive oil
  • 4 oz Ham, thinly sliced
  • 2 Lemons, zested and juiced
  • 1 ½ cups Parsley, chopped
  • Salt & pepper
  1. Over high heat, bring a large pot of water to boiling. Add a generous amount of salt to the water and add pasta. Cook until pasta is al dente.
  2. While waiting for water to boil and pasta to cook in step one, add olive oil and ham to a pan over medium heat. Let cook until ham is thoroughly warmed and begins to brown. Set aside.
  3. Once pasta is ready, drain and place pasta back into the pot. Do not rinse! You need the starch to help the lemon juice stick to the pasta.
  4. Mix in the zest and juice from the two lemons, as well as, the parsley.
  5. Add salt & pepper to taste.
  6. Place pasta in serving dishes and sprinkle ham on top. You may also want to add a little parsley on top to garnish.

Labels: ,

May 01, 2006

Fiery Thai Beef Salad

My friend Shirley hosted a brunch at her place this past Sunday. I was expecting something pretty low key but Shirley went all out—we even ate off her china! Each of us were responsible for an item, but Shirley nonetheless still made several dishes as well. One of them was a Thai styled beef salad.

Shirley had clipped this recipe from an old Cooking Light magazine—July 1999, to be exact! All these years she kept the recipe and finally used it this past weekend. Shirley noted that she omitted the fresh lemongrass because she couldn't find it and thought it would be too fibrous in the salad. However, she was able to find all the other ingredients very easily.

The outcome? I loved this and will definitely make it myself too. It was very tasty and the cilantro and mint provided with a great, unique flavor.

The recipe, from Cooking Light, is as follows (for 4 servings):


  • 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 tablespoon Thai fish sauce
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Thai, hot red, or serrano chiles, seeded and minced

  • 1 (1-pound) flank steak
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • Cooking spray
  • 6 cups torn romaine lettuce
  • 1 3/4 cups quartered cherry tomatoes
  • 1 cup thinly sliced red onion, separated into rings
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint
  • 2 tablespoons sliced peeled fresh lemon grass
  1. To prepare dressing, combine first 7 ingredients in a bowl; stir well with a whisk.
  2. Prepare grill or broiler.
  3. Sprinkle both sides of steak with salt and pepper. Place steak on a grill rack or broiler pan coated with cooking spray, and cook 6 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Let stand 10 minutes. Cut steak diagonally across grain into thin slices; cut each slice into 2-inch pieces.
  4. Combine steak, lettuce, and remaining ingredients in a large bowl; add dressing, tossing to coat.

Labels: , ,