Rocky Ford melons have been grown and sold in Colorado since 1887 — that’s 110 years of sweet summer goodness. The herbs on my deck are flavorful too right now. Here’s an embarrassingly easy, satisfyingly flexible recipe that captures these flavors of the season.
Cantaloupe and Herb Salad
1 large cantaloupe, cut into approx. 3/4-inch chunks
1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice (juice from 1/2 lime)
Chopped mint and cilantro, totaling approx. 1/3 cup
Sugar to taste (I used about 2 Tbsp.)
I have always liked blue corn chips, and I first tasted blue corn pancakes at the historic and funky El Rancho Hotel in Gallup, NM, on a long-ago road trip. I’ve been unsuccessfully looking for them on menus ever since. Fast-forward to this past week, when my husband bought two pounds of Gold Mine Organic blue masa harina. It would take more years than I have left to use it all in tamales, so I decided to adapt a pancake recipe. I used as a base a Food.com recipe for Masa Harina Pancakes, conveniently portioned for two. Here’s what resulted,
Blue Corn Pancakes
1⁄2 cup masa harina
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 egg 1⁄2 cup milk
1 tablespoon canola oil
Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl.
Mix wet ingredients in a small bowl. Combine with dry ingredients and mix until smooth (masa harina will not be lumpy as wheat flour would be).
Heat griddle on medium with a little oil . When it is hot, ladle on about 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake. Cook until nicely browned and firm, about two minutes each side.
These pancakes are very light and have a little crunch to them. I served them with a little fruit on the plate and bacon and maple syrup on the side, I still have a lot of blue corn masa left, so I imagine I’ll be making them again.
Sometimes I follow recipes — faithfully or loosely. Sometimes, I just freelance a dish. That’s what I did when I wanted pasta sometime, had just bought organic baby spinach and rooted around for ingredients that I thought would go well. I used no recipe, and didn’t even measure what I used. So here is a very rough guide to making a quick, tasty dish. The pattern is simple, so it can be made with different kinds of pasta, with other leafy vegetables, with fresh or rehydrated sun-dried tomatoes, etc., etc.
Bring salted water to a boil. Add about 3 ounces of mini-penne. Coarsely chop about 3 tablespoons of sun-dried tomatoes in oil. Peel and mince one clove of fresh garlic, and sauté in about 1 tablespoon olive oil for a minute or two. Add crushed red pepper flakes. Rinse about 5 ounces fresh baby spinach and add to garlic/pepper. Add sun-dried tomatoes and continue cooking for about 2 minutes, adding a little water to cook the spinach. When pasta is al dente, drain. Put into a serving bowl, top with spinach/tomato mixture. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan.
Cold soup that’s simple to make and pretty (green) to serve.
Just Spices, a new California company that makes organic spice blends, has shared its simple recipe for Cucumber Gazpacho that comes out shamrock green. Note that the soup is shamrock green, not Kelly green.
The brand is only available by on-line order, and since there’s no time to order for a March 17 delivery, make it in summer, which is peak gazpacho season anyway. Or freelance making your own from your spice rack. The company says its vegetable broth blend “includes fresh herbs like lovage leaves, chopped parsley, crispy onions, exotic nutmeg, soft celery seeds, crushed sea salt, and wild garlic. For extra flavor we threw in a blend of some tasty tomatoes and ripe carrots. Lastly, the Tellicherry pepper and brown cane sugar contrast each other nicely, balancing a sharp taste with some cool sweetness.”
1 avocado, peeled
2 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 cup water
2 teaspoons Just Spices Vegetable Broth Seasoning
Cut vegetables into small pieces. Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend until the mixture is smooth. Garnish with thin cucumber slices or chopped chile.
The recipe did not mention this, but I would suggest tasting a small bit of the cucumber peel before committing two whole cucumbers to the soup, as peels are sometimes bitter. If so, remove the entire peel, of course. Also, seedless English cucumbers would be suitable.
I’m one who thinks of Valentine’s Day as a “Hallmark holiday,” so we usually eat at home. We set a nice table with flowery dishes with hearts as part of the rim pattern, cloth napkins, a split of good champagne and something really good to eat — and roses.
Sprouts was selling gorgeous and sustainable jumbo shrimp, so I adapted a Crab Louie recipe from Food & Wine and came up with this spin on an old-school classic:
1 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon sweet pickle relish
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon Tabasco
1/4 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3/4 pound asparagus
1 head Romaine hearts, cut crosswise 1/2-inch thick
2 medium tomatoes, cut into wedges
2 hard-cooked eggs, cut into wedges
1/2 pound jump shrimp, steamed and peeled
In a bowl, whisk the mayonnaise with the ketchup, relish, lemon juice, garlic, Tabasco, paprika, chili powder and salt and pepper. Let stand at room while preparing the other ingredients.
Steam asparagus until just tender, 3 minutes or so. Drain and cool.
Arrange the romaine, tomatoes, eggs and asparagus on a platter. Top with shrimp and serve, with the dressing on the side.
We’ve just gotten over Valentine’s Day, when up comes National Love Your Pet Day on February 20. I don’t know what marketing mind made this up, but Carrington Farms, purveyor of coconut oil and other healthy products developed a recipe for dog treats using coconut oil.
Here’s the company’s recipe for baking dog treats for your pooch or even to try yourself. After all, there’s nothing in it that’s not fit for human consumption:
Peanut Butter Bones
1/2 cup of creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon of Carrington Farm’s Virgin Coconut Oil
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Whisk together peanut butter, honey, oil and chicken broth. In a separate bowl, combine flours and oatmeal. Mix dry ingredients into wet ingredients.
Place dough on flour-dusted surface. Roll or press dough out to about ¼ inch thick. Use a small bone-shaped cookie cutter to cut out cookies — or any other shape; the dog won’t care. The size is up to you, depending on the size of your dog. Roll out leftover scraps and cut out as many as possible.
Line a cook sheet with parchment paper. Place cut-out cookies on the baking sheet. Bake for 14 to 16 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack. Store at room temp in an airtight container for about a week, or longer if you store in the refrigerator.
Roasted Cranberry & Grapes perfect side dish at a turkey dinner.
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It was the first I took over from my mother decades ago. I love to prepare and eat the food, and friends always ask, “What can I bring?” I usually reply, “an appetizer, a side dish or a dessert.” My husband likes to make a mountain of mashed potatoes, and I select different versions of other classic dishes every year — soup, turkey (including stuffing and gravy) and cranberries.
I make two cranberry dishes every year — one the simple recipe from the back of the Ocean Spray package and one other. Below is this year’s cranberry “other,” an unusual and tasty side dish:
Roasted Cranberries & Grapes
1 12-oz. bag or fresh cranberries
12 oz. black seedless grapes ( I used Moon Drops, which resemble plum tomatoes in size and shape)
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
2 fresh rosemary sprigs
Combine all ingredients on a jelly roll pan. Toss to coat cranberries and grapes, and press the rosemary springs into the fruit mixture. Broil 6 minutes until fruit browns slightly and softens.
And guess who neglected to take a picture when the dish came out of the broiler?. Sorry.
Claire Walter's Colorado-oriented but not Colorado-exclusive blog about restaurants, food and wine events, recipes and related news. For address of any restaurant, click on the Zomato icon at the end of the post.