Tag Archives: Fresh Herbs

Fresh Salsa

Summer and roadside produce stands seems to hand in hand. Local farmers have plentiful bounties and are always willing to sell straight to the customer ! We all love the idea of a bargain, but when I read the sign ” all local organic produce” , “fresh herbs”  and “plum tomatoes” I had to stop!

For days  I’d been thinking on how to vamp up the flavor of our grilled chicken breast  without the use of a grilling sauce  and there it was: fresh tomatoes, herbs, fresh peppers  and spring (green onions). Mix up, serve as a dipping side and yum, yum, yum!

The man had harvested the goods that same morning. Oh what a treat it was… the freshest, truest flavor of salsa I’ve ever had. It’s simple, has 4 ingredients and is chock full of flavor. Careful handling the Jalapeno  , it could irritate sensitive skins! The actual heat of the pepper is concentrated in the seeds and  white stuffs inside the pepper, so discard if you like less heat, or leave it all in for a fiesta in your mouth. Enjoy!


4 red plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped
4 green onions, finely chopped
1 medium jalapeno pepper, finely chopped ( leave seeds and white out for less heat)
2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
Salt to taste

Mix the tomatoes and shallots in a bowl, toss in the cilantro and salt. Mix in jalapeno to taste. Serve immediately. This salsa can be kept refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Lamb Rib Roast With Cabernet-Shiraz Sauce

Do you have guests for dinner and are not really in the mood to cook for hours in the kitchen? Do what I did: LAMB! It started a Saturday Morning …

It’s Saturday morning, I have guests for dinner and not really in the mood for hours in the kitchen. These are not the kinds of guests to serve pizza and chicken wings… What to do?Light bulb goes on, and I trek to the grocery store for some readily available New Zealand LAMB! Just ask the butcher to ‘French’ your rack of lamb, this is to strip the extras off the bone for a stunning presentation (as you can see in the photo). If you call ahead, and make the request, the butcher will sure appreciate it. Also pick up FRESH herbs like rosemary and thyme. It will make the food flavors “shine”

 This dish screams to be enjoyed with a cabernet-shiraz blend, a green salad, and potatoes.

Get it all together and …voila! And elegant dinner is born!


Ingredients (for 4 servings):

1 rack of lamb ribs (about 5 lbs)
3 springs of fresh thyme, chopped
1 spring fresh rosemary chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
3 Tbls olive oil
1 tsp apple cider vinegar

For the sauce:
pan drippings
1 Cup cabernet-shiraz or some other red wine
1 Tbls butter
white pepper to taste

Ask your butcher to ‘French’ your rack of lamb, this is to strip the extras off the bone for a stunning presentation. Preheat you oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl mix the oil with the chopped herbs, the vinegar, the salt and the pepper. Rub the ribs with the mixture then place on a baking. Cook in the oven for approx 30 minutes, meat side down then turn once, let cook till the internal temperature reaches 155 degrees. Remove and let rest
Meanwhile gather the pan drippings and remove all grease except 2 Tbls. Place in a sauté pan with the wine and the butter over medium high heat. Cook stirring continuously till the sauce has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon. Arrange the lamb on a dish and pour the sauce on top. Serve immediately.

Grape Tomato & Mozzarella With Shallot-Citrus Vinaigrette

Sweet grape tomatoes complement the  tangy citrus for an unexpected burst of flavor.  Serve as a side salad or make a batch to serve as tapas. Top with fresh basil, cilantro or mint and dig in!

Ingredients for the vinaigrette:

4 Tbls pink grapefruit juice
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
fresh ground black pepper to taste

1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes cut in half
1 lb fresh mozzarella cut into small cubes
1 Tbls fresh Thai basil (or Italian basil chopped)

To prepare the vinaigrette: marinate the chopped shallot in the juice for 30 minutes. Mix in the oil and the pepper.

Mix the tomatoes with the mozzarella in a bowl, toss well with the vinaigrette. Assemble the salad on serving dishes and sprinkle with the basil leaves. Enjoy with a light Pinot Grigio.

*The fresh herbs and citrus used in this recipe were harvested by “Farmer RoD”.

RoD THANK YOU so much, we love your organic herbs.

Marinated Olives

This is a wonderful tapas that can be enjoyed with blue cheese, sopressata, and a glass of Fernet Branca. It is easy to make and elevates ordinary olives to a whole new place. Best of all, they can be made ahead of time and keep well for a week.

Ingredients: (makes 2 cups)

1 and 1/2 cup queen olives
3 fresh roma tomatoes, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp vinegar
1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs of your choice
salt & pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a small skillet and turn off the heat. Add the tomatoes, garlic and herbs. In a large bowl, mix the oil  and the vinegar till they form an emulsion,then add the olives and mix well.

Let rest for 4 hours or overnight for best results.
Enjoy with blue cheese, sopressata, and a glass of Fernet Branca

How To Make A Great Salad

What makes a salad great?

The ingredients of course! Choose the freshest vegetables possible, if you can buy from the local Farmer’s Market and use within two or three days. The freshness will reflect through textures and flavors of the salad.

Greens should be crisp, washed and rinsed, its just awful to eat a “watery” salad. The pre-washed pre-cut are great time savers but they just do not taste the same. An exception are the “mixed greens” because the leaves are left intact.

Tomato cutting is also an issue. Tomato slices are great for layering on bread or mozzarella and onions but they become pulp in a salad with greens. Quarter in sections instead, that way the tomato will retain texture and flavor.

Use fresh herbs, they are aromatic and delicious. Its very easy to grow your own even if you live in a small apartment! All you need is a sunny window. Basil especially is easy to grow and, oh how fragrant and delicious it is fresh cut from the plant!

Make your own dressings. They can be as simple as a vinaigrette or as fancy as a “green goddess type”. The bottled stuff, although convenient, is expensive for what you are given; many contain additives and preservatives that contribute to an artificial taste and gummy consistency. Many use partially-hydrogenated oils which will ultimately turn into ‘bad-fat”.
Remember also to mix your salad well so the flavors blend, but don’t leave it to macerate! The greens will wilt when in contact with acids such as vinegars and lemon or lime juice.

Remember to contrast and compliment your flavors: a tangy mix of greens will pair with sweet flavorful tomatoes, ripe cheese and a freshly made vinaigrette. Crispy lettuce and juicy tomato tidbits.

A little detail: the pepper, pre-ground pepper does not taste or smell like fresh ground. Pre packaged ground is “ashy” and pungent, while fresh ground is aromatic and fruity. There are many types and blends to with which experiment.

Follow these suggestions and your salad will become a delectable item on your menu instead of forgettable side dish.