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.

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

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.

Labor Day Barbecue Look-Back

I’m not able to post a new recipe over this Labor Day long weekend, so I thought I’d share links to a few of my favorites from the grill that seem oh-so-appropos for the holiday.  Click the titles below for the recipes.

Best Smoked Brisket for a Long Weekend

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Let the cooked brisket set so the juices can settle

Summer Pork Tenderloin

Summer Pork Tenderloin
Garnish with Pico de Gallo and a little Sriracha for more of a kick

Fiesta Grilled Shrimp Dip

Fiesta Grilled Shrimp Dip
This creamy, spicy shrimp dip is perfect on a hot summer afternoon

 

Found Recipe: (Marvelous) Planked Salmon with (Marvelous) Spice Rub

Salmon in the Grill
I add a few sliced red onions and poblano peppers if there is room left on the cedar plank.

 

Tom’s Smoked Salmon

Tom's Smoked Salmon
This salmon makes a welcome appearance for parties and holiday meals at Glover Gardens.

Lemony and Super-Quick Avocado, Tomato and Cucumber Salad

 

Sometimes, you just need a quick salad, something that’s bright and fresh but still lets the main course be the star of the meal.

This happens a lot on Sandwich Wednesday, the night when the Glover Gardens Grill-Meister becomes the Panini-Maker.  I highly recommend Sandwich Wednesday for every household; it makes the mid-week dinner something to look forward to.  Read all about our Sandwich Wednesday, including the appliance and cookbooks that power it.

I was motivated to make this salad because when I arrived home on a recent Wednesday, the Grill-Meister had all of the ingredients ready for a wonderful Steak and Bacon Panini (recipe later, I promise) and I was in the mood to play a supporting role in the kitchen.  Thus, the super-quick, lemony goodness that follows.  The recipe serves 8, and I usually half it because we are a small household – and getting smaller with the youngest heading to college next month.

Ingredients

Salad

  • 1 medium cucumber, sliced (peel a few strips with a peeler to make it pretty if you like)
  • 1 medium ripe tomato, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup red onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 large ripe avocado or two small ones, roughly chopped

Dressing

  • Juice of two small lemons (about 1/4 cup)
  • 2 tbsp good quality olive oil
  • 1 tbsp chopped basil or other fresh herb of your choice (oregano, mint, parsley, cilantro), or 1 tsp. dried basil or other herb
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Cooking Instructions

Combine all of the salad ingredients in a medium bowl.  In a small bowl, combine the dressing ingredients and whisk with a fork.  Pour over the salad and stir gently, being careful not to mash the avocado.  Transfer to a serving bowl and serve immediately.


The Grill-Meister was very complimentary about this salad.  “There’s something about the rich combination of the avocado and the olive oil, balanced by the tartness of the lemon…”  And I agree with him, there’s definitely something about this combination.  It’s really important to use high-quality olive oil for any fresh salad dressing – it has a huge impact on the flavor.  I like to buy local and get my artisan olive oil for all our favorite dishes from Olivero Farms at our local farmer’s market.  

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The salad before the dressing is poured on; this is a half recipe for our small household
Avocado Salad
It looks beautiful in a white serving dish
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The perfect poolside accompaniment to the Grill-Meister’s Steak and Bacon Paninis

Blackberry Mint Iced Tea Lemonade – This Might Be on the Menu in Heaven

Source: Blackberry Mint Iced Tea Lemonade – Cooking with a Wallflower

I subscribe to lots of wonderful blogs written by people who are smarter than me.  They’re all different, but they have some things in common:  they either write beautifully, are super-artistic, have wonderful, creative ideas for food, or sport the kind of wisdom and spirituality that I can only aspire to.  And sometimes, I just have to share their smarts.

This is one of those times.  Doesn’t this drink look perfect for the long, hot days of summer?  How can it go wrong, with mint, tea, lemon and blackberries?  I think it might be on the menu in heaven, and it’s definitely on my list for the weekend.  I think Blackberry Mint Iced Tea Lemonade would pair beautifully with Crab Quesadillas or Turkey Cevap on a Pita.  And if you just had to have that extra kick from alcohol, Tito’s Vodka would be just the thing.  Wouldn’t it?

Click the picture; you’ll see the recipe, and understand.  Happy times getting through the heat of the summer, from one who understands in sunny, hot, muggy and yet still wonderful Southeast Texas.