Broccoli Salad

This is a sweet, sour, crunchy, savory and delicious broccoli salad. Blanch the broccoli first for a minute or two in boiling water, it makes a difference - unless you like your broccoli super crunchy. If you don't have dried cherries, you can substitute dried cranberries or other dried fruit.

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Recipe

6 cups broccoli, chopped into bite-size pieces
1/2 lb. bacon, cooked, drained, chopped into 1-inch pieces
1/2 c. mascarpone
1/4 c. mayonnaise
2 T. apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 c. dried cherries
1/2 c. walnuts
1/2 c. gorgonzola cheese, crumbled

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the broccoli and blanch for 2 minutes. Drain immediately and run under cold water to stop the cooking; transfer to a bowl and set aside. Cook the bacon, drain on paper towels, and cut into 1-inch pieces (reserve 2 tsp. of the bacon fat).

In a large bowl mix together the mascarpone, mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar and salt with a whisk until smooth. Add the broccoli, cherries, walnuts, bacon, 2 tsp. of the bacon fat, and gorgonzola. Toss well and serve.

— inspired by Giada De Laurentiis, Food Network

Cioppino

Cioppino is such a versatile dish – you can add any type of seafood that you wish (as long as it's fairly firm, like scallops, salmon, halibut, grouper, haddock – and shellfish). The sauce has a great depth of flavor but doesn't overpower the fish. It's a perfect main course for weekend company. You can make the stew (minus the seafood) up to two days ahead, bring to a simmer and add the fish as noted below. Be sure to use a big pot!

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Recipe

3 T. olive oil
1 large fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1 onion, chopped
3 large shallots, chopped
2 tsp. salt
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp. dried red pepper flakes
2 T. tomato paste
1 tsp. smoked paprika
(1) 28-oz. can diced tomatoes in juice
1-1/2 c. dry white wine
32 oz. fish stock
7 sprigs fresh thyme, tied in a little bundle
1 bay leaf
1 lb. clams, scrubbed
1 lb. mussels, scrubbed, debearded
1 lb. uncooked large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1-1/2 lbs. assorted firm-fleshed fish (I used salmon, scallops and halibut)
1/2 c. chopped fresh parsley
1 lemon (2 tsp. grated zest, the rest cut into wedges)
hearty Italian gluten free bread for dipping

Heat the oil in a large dutch oven over medium heat. Add the fennel, onion, shallots and salt and saute until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and saute 2 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and paprika until everything is coated. Add the tomatoes with their juices, wine, fish stock, bay leaf and thyme. Cover and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium low, cover and simmer about 30 minutes.

Remove the thyme. Add the clams and mussels, cover and cook about 5 minutes, until the clams and mussels begin to open. Add the shrimp and fish. Simmer gently, uncovered, until the fish is just cooked through and the clams are completely open, stirring gently, about 5 minutes longer. Stir in the lemon zest. Season to taste with more salt and red pepper flakes if needed. Ladle into bowls and garnish with parsley and freshly squeezed lemon juice.

Frisée aux Lardons

This beautiful salad pairs perfectly with the Thai Red Curry Mussels recipe. Use frisée if you can find it. It wasn't available yesterday when I was searching, so I used escarole which was delicious. You could also substitute arugula, radicchio, or a combination of any slightly bitter green. Top with a poached egg — slightly runny yolk so it mixes with the dressed salad greens, croutons and chopped bacon. Yummmmmm!

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Recipe

1 large head frisée lettuce (or escarole, radicchio, arugula), washed, dried and cut into 3-inch pieces
8 slices thick cut bacon, cut into 2-inch pieces
Baguette - cut up enough to make about 40 small squares for croutons
4 large eggs

Mustard-Garlic Dressing:
1-1/2 tsp. chopped garlic
1-1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1-1/2 T. sherry vinegar
1/4 c. olive oil

In a bowl large enough to hold the salad, use a whisk to combine all of the mustard-garlic dressing ingredients. Set aside.

Sauté the bacon until crisp, transfer to paper towels to drain. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon drippings in the pan and add the baguette croutons and cook over medium-high heat, stirring and turning over so they brown on all sides. Set aside.

Poach the eggs. I cheat and use an egg poacher, but if you're comfortable doing it in a nonstick skillet with 1-1/2 inches of water and 1 T. red wine vinegar, go for it!

To assemble, add the washed and dried greens to the bowl with the dressing in it; toss well. Divide the salad among four dinner plates, top with the poached egg and sprinkle the bacon bits and croutons over the top. Serve immediately.

— Jacques Pépin, "More Fast Food My Way"

Thai Red Curry Mussels

After a delightful day of wine tasting, the perfect accompaniment to a great bottle of Oregon Pinot Noir is this tasty recipe for fresh mussels. The broth has the perfect amount of spice, not too hot and lots of nuanced flavor. For the second course, consider Jacques Pépin's Frisée aux Lardons, followed by a cheese course with crackers and fruit.

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Recipe

2 T. peanut oil
1 stalk lemongrass, bottom 2/3 of inner bulb smashed and cut into 3 pieces
3 T. Thai red curry paste
1/2 c. white wine
(1) 15-oz. can unsweetened coconut milk
2 T. fish sauce (nam pla)
juice of 2 limes
2-1/2 lbs. mussels, cleaned
4 T. basil leaves, chopped
2 T. chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Rustic Italian bread, or a baguette, sliced, for dipping

In a saucepan, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the lemongrass, curry paste, wine, coconut milk, fish sauce and lime juice. Bring to a simmer, stirring. Add the mussels, cover the pot and let steam until opened — about 8 minutes. During the last minute of cooking, add the chopped basil and cilantro. Remove the lemongrass before serving.

Transfer the mussels to 4 bowls, discarding any that didn't open. Pour the sauce over the mussels, and serve with plenty of bread for dipping.

— Bobby Flay, Food Network

Thai Butternut Squash & Pineapple Curry

I must admit that I have never cooked with Thai red curry paste, so I thought I'd give it a go ... and I'm glad I did! Delicious. I was a bit cautious and added just one tablespoon, but I think I could have safely added 1-1/2 or 2 tablespoons. You could also add some chicken, or experiment with additional veggies (spinach, red pepper, etc.). As you can see below, I had just baked some yummy pumpkin cake donuts, but that story is for another time!

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Recipe

1 T. coconut oil
1 onion, chopped
1-2 T. Thai red curry paste
1 clove garlic, smashed and chopped
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into cubes
1 can coconut milk (I used Trader Joe coconut cream)
3/4 c. vegetable stock
2 c. green beans, trimmed and cut in thirds
8-ounce can pineapple, drained, cut in chunks
1/4 c. chopped coriander + some for garnish (or Italian parsley if cilantro's not your thing)

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and fry the onion for about 5 minutes until softened.  Stir in the red curry paste and garlic to coat the onions and cook for a minute. Add the butternut squash and beans, stir well, then add the coconut milk and stock, stirring to combine. Bring to a bubbling simmer, then turn heat down to a low simmer and cook for 20 minutes until the squash is tender and the sauce has reduced a bit and thickened.

Stir in the pineapple and cilantro and cook for another 5 minutes until the pineapple is warmed through. Serve over rice and sprinkle with some more chopped cilantro. Serves 4. 

Prosciutto Wrapped Halibut with Brussels Sprouts and Kale Couscous

I rarely get the chance to have fresh Alaskan halibut, but tonight was the night! What a great pairing - prosciutto and halibut, seared in a hot pan and finished off in the oven over a bed of perfectly seasoned veg. The zest of a whole lemon is added to the pan just before the brussels sprouts and kale and it makes all the difference, lending a tart depth of flavor along with the garlic and chile flakes. Enjoy!

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Recipe

(4) 4- to 6-oz. halibut fillets
Salt & Pepper
8 slices prosciutto
2 T. olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
Zest of 1 lemon
pinch of chile flakes
3 c. shredded brussels sprouts
2 c. shredded kale
1 c. couscous
1-3/4 c. hot chicken stock
1/3 c. dried currants

Preheat oven to 375-degrees. Sprinkle the halibut with salt and pepper. Lay 2 slices of prosciutto on a flat surface, slightly overlapping. Place a halibut fillet at the end of the slices and roll up. Repeat with remaining fillets.

Heat the oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Sear the halibut to brown the prosciutto for about 1 minute per side - your pan should be nice and hot. Remove to a plate while you cook the veggies. Quickly stir the garlic, lemon zest and chile flakes into the pan, add the brussels sprouts and kale and saute until tender, about 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the couscous, hot stock and currants. Place the fish on top of the mixture and transfer to the oven. Bake for 18-20 minutes until couscous is cooked. Remove fish from the skillet, fluff the couscous with a fork and serve.

– Katie Lee, Food Network's "The Kitchen"