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My Recipes-of-the-Week are featured here on my Home page. You can find 1000+ of my kitchen-tested recipes using the Recipes tab, watch nearly 100 Kitchen Encounters/WHVL-TV segments using the TV Videos tab, join the discussion about all of my creations using the Facebook tab, or Email your questions and comments directly to me--none go unanswered. "We are all in this food world together." ~Melanie

06/15/2019

~Lemon-Infused EVOO & White Balsamic Vinaigrette~

IMG_2098Lemon-infused olive oil is one of my favorite pantry staples -- a bit of it in a skillet adds marvelous flavor to a sautéing chicken paillard or delicate fillet of white fish.  When mixed with some tangy white-balsamic vinegar, a pinch of sugar, a few herbes de Provence, and, a tad of Dijon mustard, an amazing vinaigrette is born.  It's hard to name a salad that doesn't benefit from a lemony vinaigrette, and, in the case of this one, because the lemon flavor is infused in the oil, as opposed to a fresh squirt of lemon juice, every bite gets enrobed in its light, bright flavor.  There's more:  It is indisputably the best marinade for vegetables, poultry, fish or seafood I have ever encountered. Yes indeed, the investment in a bottle of lemon-infused EVOO is a small but mighty-wise one.

IMG_2081For the lemon-infused, white balsamic vinaigrette:

1/2  cup white balsamic vinegar

1/4  cup lemon-infused olive oil

2  tablespoons sugar

1  tablespoon Dijon mustard

1  teaspoon dried herbes de Provence

Step 1.  In a 1-cup container with a tight-fitting lid and pourer top, place all ingredients. Vigorously shake until well-combined.  Use as a marinade and/or dress salad and store leftovers in refrigerator.

Try it on my poached asparagus, grape tomato & mozzarella salad

IMG_2107Lemon-Infused EVOO & White Balsamic Vinaigrette:  Recipe yields 3/4 cup vinaigrette.

Special Equipment List:  1-cup measuring container w/tight-fitting lid and pourer top.

IMG_2061Cook's Note: Technically known as shallow poaching and sometimes referred to as skillet poaching, this is the easiest way to cook fresh asparagus spears.  As it turns out, a small amount of gently or barely simmering salted water in a wide-bottomed skillet is a great way to quickly control the heat of the water, which, in turn, makes it very easy to efficiently yield vibrant green asparagus spears of any thickness that are cooked to your liking: crunch-tender blanched to fully-cooked fork-tender.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2019)

06/13/2019

~ Asparagus Salad with Lemon-Balsamic Vinaigrette ~

IMG_2107A salad without lettuce?  There's no law against it, and, in the case of this salad, lettuce is just in the way.  The combination of tender blanched asparagus, a few halved cherry or grape tomatoes, and, small, creamy, fresh mozzarella balls drizzled with a lemon-balsamic vinaigrette is to-die-for. The only item I do add to it on occasion is: a handful of crunchy croutons.  Nothing more, nothing less.  No other embellishments need apply.  The dressing, loaded with lemon flavor and laced with subtle herbs de Provence, is the star of this salad show, so, don't stray from this flavor profile.

Nothing more, nothing less.  No other embellishments need apply.

IMG_2081For the lemon-infused, white balsamic vinaigrette:

1/2  cup white balsamic vinegar

1/4  cup lemon-infused olive oil

2  tablespoons sugar

1  tablespoon Dijon mustard

1  teaspoon dried herbes de Provence

Step 1.  In a 1-cup food storage container with a tight-fitting lid and pourer top, place all ingredients. Vigorously shake until thoroughly combined.  Set aside and prepare salad as directed below:

IMG_2085For the asparagus salad:

12 ounces medium-thick asparagus, trimmed of woody stalk ends, about 24 spears after trimming, shallow-poached until crunch tender, about 3 minutes & shocked in cold water to halt the cooking process

6  ounces grape or cherry tomatoes, sliced in half*

6  ounces small, fresh mozzarella balls, sliced in half ("ciligegine" = "cherry-sized")

* Note:  In season strawberries are a fine substitution for grape or cherry tomatoes in this recipe.

IMG_2039 IMG_2039 IMG_2039 IMG_2039 IMG_2039~Step 1.  In  3 1/2-quart chef's pan or deep skillet place 3/4"-1" of water. Add 2 teaspoons sea salt and bring to a boil over high heat.  Adjust heat to the gentlest simmer you can.  Add the asparagus to the pan and cover. Cook asparagus to crunch tender, about 2 minutes.  Drain into a colander and immediately rinse with cold water to halt the cooking process.

IMG_2090 2 IMG_2090 2 IMG_2103~ Step 2.  Lay asparagus flat on a few paper towels to absorb all excess moisture, then, slice  into 1 1/2"-2" lengths.  Transfer to a medium bowl.  Slice and add the grape or cherry tomatoes and mozzarella balls.  Add about half the vinaigrette.  Using a rubber spatula, gently toss until ingredients are evenly coated. Cover and refrigerate about 30-60 minutes, to allow flavors time to marry, prior to serving.

This is one lemony & luscious lettuce-less side-dish salad.

IMG_2124Every succulent bite is a reason to celebrate Summer:

IMG_2129Asparagus Salad with Lemon-Balsamic Vinaigrette:  Recipe yields 4, marinated starter-course salads or side-salads.

Special Equipment List: 1-cup food storage container with a tight-fitting lid and pourer top; 3 1/2-quart chef's pan w/straight, deep sides & (glass) lid; colander; paper towels; rubber spatula

IMG_1895Cook's Note:  When it comes to cooking asparagus via any method, freshness always matters more than thickness, and, even the best asparagus recipes are subject to failure if this delicate vegetable isn't treated with care. ~ Choosing, Prepping and Storing Amazing Asparagus ~ is a must read for anyone who's looking to get acquainted with this seasonal but very versatile vegetable.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2019)

06/10/2019

~ Perfect Shallow-Poached Fresh Asparagus Spears ~

IMG_2061Technically known as shallow poaching and sometimes referred to as skillet poaching, this is the easiest way to cook fresh asparagus spears.  As it turns out, a small amount of gently or barely simmering salted water in a wide-bottomed skillet is a great way to quickly control the heat of the water, which, in turn, makes it very easy to efficiently yield vibrant green asparagus spears of any thickness that are cooked to your liking:  crunch-tender blanched to fully-cooked fork-tender.

IMG_1940I won't lie, my recipe for ~ Amazingly-Lemony & Perfectly-Roasted Asparagus ~ is, generally speaking, my favorite way to serve asparagus.  There's just something about the high, dry heat of the oven that elevates its flavor and texture. That said, when gently poached on the stovetop, crunch-tender or fully-cooked asparagus has its place in my food world too.   When it's blanched then shocked in cold water, crunch tender asparagus is perfect to add to salad and dressed with a lemony vinaigrette.  When it's fully-cooked and fork-tender, it's marvelous drizzled with an easy-to-make blender hollandaise or blender béarnaise sauce.  Whether you choose to oven-roast or stovetop poach this versatile veggie, it is always ready to eat in ten or less minutes.

1 skillet w/a (glass) lid + 3/4"-1" water + 2 teaspoons salt. 

IMG_2037The most important thing to know about this process is:  do not overcrowd the skillet with asparagus and do your best to add spears of realtively-even thickness to the simmering water -- common sense says that skinny spears cook faster than fat spears.  Typically, depending on the desired degree of doneness, thin asparagus bathe in the water for 1-2 minutes, average asparagus take 3-4 minutes, and the fatsos take 5-6 minutes.  Past 3, 4, or 6 minutes respectively, be forewarned that asparagus will go IMG_2073from fully-cooked and vibrant green to overcooked and dull green very quickly.   Covering the skillet with a lid during the poaching process is highly recommended, as it bathes the stalks in steam as well as water, and, you have a glass lid that fits your skillet, use it, as it allows you to keep an eye on the entire process. Prior to cooking medium or thick asparagus, for a prettier presentation, use a vegetable peeler to quickly peel the skin from the lower 2"-3" of each spear.

Skinny = 1-2 minutes.  Average = 3-4 minutes.  Fat = 5-6 minutes.

IMG_203612-16 ounces asparagus, trimmed of woody stalk ends, about 24-32 spears after trimming trimmed of woody stalk ends, peeled or unpeeled

4-6  cups water

2  teaspoons sea salt

4  tablespoons salted butter

2  tablespoons lemon-infused olive oil

freshly ground sea salt and peppercorn blend

blender hollandaise or blender béarnaise sauce (optional)

~ IMG_2034 IMG_2034 IMG_2034 IMG_2034 IMG_2034 IMG_2034 IMG_2034 IMG_2034Step 1.  In  3 1/2-quart chef's pan or deep skillet place 3/4"-1" of water.  Add 2 teaspoons sea salt and bring to a boil over high heat.  Adjust heat to the gentlest simmer you can.  Add the asparagus to the pan and cover.  Cook the asparagus to desired degree of doneness:  1-2 minutes for skinny asparagus, 3-4 minutes for average asparagus, or 5-6 minutes for fat asparagus.  Remove from heat and drain water from pan and return pan of asparagus to still hot stovetop.  Add the salted butter, lemon-infused olive oil, and, a generous grinding of sea salt and peppercorn blend (about 10-15 grinds each).  Serve immediately.

Serve ASAP drizzled w/optional hollandaise or béarnaise sauce:

IMG_2064How to Shallow-Poach Asparagus Spears Perfectly:  Recipe yields instructions to perfectly poach fresh asparagus spears of any thickness to the desired degree of doneness. 

Special Equipment List: cutting board; chef's knife; vegetable peeler (0ptional); 3 1/2-quart chef's pan w/straight deep sides & (glass) lid or deep skillet w/(glass) lid

IMG_1895Cook's Note:  When it comes to cooking asparagus via any method, freshness always matters more than thickness, and, even the best asparagus recipes are subject to failure if this delicate vegetable isn't treated with care. ~ Choosing, Prepping and Storing Amazing Asparagus ~ is a must read for anyone who's looking to get acquainted with this seasonal but very versatile vegetable.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2019)