Simple Pleasures: Fruit by the Pool

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Summer stayed with us well into September this year, releasing its stranglehold just this last week and enabling an enjoyable evening of wine and fruit by the pool here at Glover Gardens.  The hibiscus and roses are still blooming, but the leaves have begun to fall.  The hummingbirds are still darting about, buzzing the feeder for that last bit of fuel before their long journey across the Gulf.  There’s a sense of the changing season in the air as we welcome our first cool night tonight.

Simple pleasures.

Zucchini Salad

Well gee, I didn’t know this was a thing.  Zucchini ribbons tossed with olive oil and other goodies, in a salad.  La Traviata in Austin, you taught me something.

As described on the menu: “Zucchini ribbons, green olives, fresh mint, parsley and shaved Pecorino Toscana”.  I was intrigued.

Well gee, it was delightful!  The soft and mild zucchini with its unctuous coating of  olive oil was offset by the tartness of the green olives and fresh and bright flavors of the mint and parsley.  The pecorino cheese provided a salty textural balance.  It was a perfect dish.

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I will be experimenting with zucchini ribbons soon.  Expect a few recipes in the near future.

 

Copyright 2016, Glover Gardens Cookbook

Haiku: Departure

Silvery bird flies
Through azure and cotton skies
Adventure starts now

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I wrote this haiku a few years ago, after sitting on a plane and waiting waiting waiting waiting, for a vacation that we had long been anticipating.  At lift-off, euphoria and haiku hit me.

I’m publishing it now concurrent with a business trip, having scheduled it ahead of time to go live when my flight takes off (it just seems apropos).  I love my job and I’m headed off to a peer group meeting, so it will definitely be a lively and invigorating couple of days.  Adventure starts now…!

For more Glover Gardens haiku, click here.

Steak Dinner Out

Sometimes, you have to splurge.

Like when your in-laws insist on taking you to a fancy steak place for your birthday.

I mean, who’s going to argue about that?

The splurge was steaks and potatoes and rose petals on the table – and wine and mushrooms and flaming desserts.  Yum!  But once a year is quite enough.

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Grilled Tuna Burgers for Two

images-25We’re empty-nesters here at Glover Gardens now that the last millennial has gone off to college, so I’m trying to pare down the amounts when I cook.  It’s easier with some recipes than others.  These delicious tuna burgers are simple to make for two, or four, or more.  Just increase the recipe.

The tuna burgers benefit from what we call “Salad on a Sandwich”.  It’s a quick toss of baby spinach or other greens, red onion and tomato with a tiny bit of olive oil and a healthy splash of balsamic vinegar.  Salad on a Sandwich brightens up a variety of sandwiches and makes the everyday sandwich feel like a gourmet treat.  And it looks really beautiful.

Ingredients

  • Two 6+ ounce tuna steaks, about an inch thick
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne or ground ancho or chipotle chiles
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 large bell pepper or several small sweet peppers, sliced into 1-inch wide strips, seeds, ribs and stems discarded
  • Olive oil
  • Grill spray
  • Two buns (we like onion rolls)
  • Purchased or prepared remoulade (click here for a killer and super-easy recipe)
  • Salad on a Sandwich
    • 2 cups baby spinach or your other favorite greens
    • 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
    • 1 very ripe medium tomato, thinly sliced, or 6-8 grape tomatoes, halved longways
    • 1 tsp olive oil or a few sprays from an olive oil mister
    • 2 tsp good-quality balsamic vinegar
    • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Cooking Instructions

Sprinkle tuna all over with salt, pepper and cayenne or ground chile. Toss peppers with a small amount of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Assemble Salad on a Sandwich by combining and tossing all ingredients in a medium bowl.  Set aside.  Prepare remoulade, if making your own.

Preheat gas or charcoal grill for cooking over high heat.

Wrap buns in foil.  Grill tuna and peppers on lightly oiled grill rack, turning over once, until tuna is pink only in center and peppers are just tender, 4 to 6 minutes total (peppers may take longer than tuna). In the last few minutes of cooking, put the buns in foil on the grill to heat them up.  Transfer tuna and peppers once they are cooked to a serving plate.

To serve, spread remoulade on buns (top and bottom), put a layer of grilled peppers on the bottom of each bun, and then top with a tuna steak.  Add a generous helping of Salad on a Sandwich, then cap the tuna burger with the top bun.  Enjoy!

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The Salad on a Sandwich and remoulade are ready, and the tuna has been seasoned in readiness for grilling.  Yum!
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Grill the peppers at the same time as the tuna; the buns can be warmed on the top shelf.
Grilled Tuna and Peppers
The tuna and peppers have been grilled and are ready for the sandwich.
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The remoulade and Salad on a Sandwich combine with the tuna and peppers to make a great burger with a variety of tastes, colors and textures.

This recipe works really well without the bun, too.  Just flip it – position the tuna steak atop the Salad (Not) on a Sandwich, then arrange the grilled peppers on the tuna and dress with the remoulade or serve it on the side.  It’s beautiful, healthy and low-cal.

Our other favorite seafood in a burger is salmon – click here for the recipe.

 

Copyright 2016, Glover Gardens Cookbook

Birthday Haiku

I love haiku.  I’ve blogged about that before.  And I’ve noticed that haiku can beget more haiku – post a haiku or two on Facebook, and a couple of friends may respond in haiku.  It’s magic!  On my birthday in 2011, I was awakened by a super-bright full moon, and posted this haiku on Facebook, which I called Full Moon on My Birthday.

Glowing silver orb
Says “All things are possible.”
Birthday card from God?

One of my friends, an English teacher, responded with a lovely haiku of her own.

a full moon bodes well.
reminds you that the sky’s not
empty after all.

Magic!  This year, another of my friends, also an English teacher, gifted me with a very meaningful and nuanced birthday haiku on Facebook.

Birds call out to you
The garden roots again now
Season of good change.

Magic!

For more Glover Gardens haiku, click here.

 

Copyright Glover Gardens 2016.

 

Haiku: Christie’s Sour Cream Pound Cake

My neighbor is a smart and funny Southern woman, a successful writer of romantic and teen fiction, a devoted wife, mother and friend, and a wonderful hostess.  She also makes the best pound cake I’ve ever eaten.

Christie recently served her homemade sour cream pound cake at the end of a lively dinner party, and I fell in love.  I was transported back in time to long, lazy summer days when the sun lingers until the first fireflies light up and kids sneak second and third portions of rich, lovingly made desserts while the grownups sit around and solve all the world’s problems.  That pound cake was the past on a plate, a happy history of pure, rich flavors that make you feel like all is right with the world.

So of course I had to write a haiku about it.

Christie’s Sour Cream Pound Cake

Old-fashioned goodness
tastes of porches and stories.
Southern comfort food.

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For more Glover Gardens haiku, click here.

 

Copyright Glover Gardens Cookbook, 2016.

Easiest Salmon Burgers Ever

Ever since I got out of the hospital and put that horrible food behind me (click here to read about it), I’ve been craving all of the healthiest foods in my comfort food category.  The Grill-Meister has been a great partner in this Healthy Comfort Food Quest.  He made his oh-so-wonderful Tom’s Smoked Salmon for me on Monday, the Labor Day holiday, and bought extra salmon for us to have salmon burgers.  Yum.

These salmon burgers are so easy they should be on the table at least once a month.  And they’re good, really good.

Made with fresh salmon, they’re so good that you might be able to convince an innocent child that they’re actually chicken burgers…that little white lie is between you and your conscience.  But hey – how is it different than Santa Claus?

Ingredients (Makes 6 Burgers)

  • 1 1/2 pounds (24 oz.) fresh (never frozen) salmon filets, skin removed
  • 1/8 cup minced red onion
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1/8 cup capers, drained
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • Six buns
  • Red onions slices
  • Sliced very ripe tomatoes
  • Baby spinach or arugula
  • Condiments:  mayonnaise, fancy mustards, or (my favorite) remoulade (click here)

Cooking Instructions

Cut the salmon in big chunks and add to the food processor.  Pulse until it is ground, but still a little chunky.  Transfer to a large bowl and add the rest of the ingredients.

Mix first with a spoon, and then with your hands.  Divide the salmon mixture into six parts and form burgers with your hands, first by making a ball, then by pressing it flat onto a plate or cookie sheet.  Be careful not to overwork the patty, which will make it tough.  Put a dimple in the middle of each patty with your thumb, which will help it keep its shape.  Add another quick grinding of fresh pepper and salt.

Spray the gas or charcoal grill with grill spray, and heat it to high.  Grill the salmon for about 5 minutes on each side, or to your desired degree of doneness.  While the salmon is cooking, place the buns on a less hot part of the grill in foil to heat them up.

Serve the patties with the buns, tomato, onion, baby spinach or arugula and your desired condiments.

Variations

You can serve these patties without buns atop the greens with the fresh veggies and condiments.

If you’d like to sauté rather than grill them, measure one more cup of Panko after making the patties, add a 1/4 tsp each of salt and pepper to the Panko and mix well, then dredge each patty in the Panko mixture.  Add a small amount of olive oil to a skillet and sauté the patties over med-high heat, a few minutes per side, until they are done.

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Pulse the salmon in the food processor until it is ground but still a little chunky – this amount of salmon is for a half recipe, since we are empty-nesters here at Glover Gardens
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The ingredients for a half recipe (3 patties)
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Put all ingredients in the bowl, then mix with a spoon, and finally, your hands
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The patties (half recipe) ready to grill
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We also had our grilled asparagus that night; click here for the recipe
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The salmon burgers are lovely as an outside meal in late summer / early fall

Copyright Glover Gardens Cookbook, 2016.