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My Recipes-of-the-Week are featured here on my Home page. You can find 1000+ of my kitchen-tested recipes using the Recipes tab, watch nearly 100 Kitchen Encounters/WHVL-TV segments using the TV Videos tab, join the discussion about all of my creations using the Facebook tab, or Email your questions and comments directly to me--none go unanswered. "We are all in this food world together." ~Melanie

06/20/2019

~ Amazingly-Lemony and Perfectly-Grilled Asparagus ~

IMG_2221Asparagus, served hot off the grill grids, drizzled with a bit of lemon-infused EVOO and white balsamic vinaigrette, is one of my favorite Summer side-dishes.  Name it -- grilled steak, chicken or seafood, it plays well with them all.  Interestingly, I sometimes serve it as an hors d'oeuvre too -- it pairs perfectly with melon wrapped in prosciutto.  There's just something downright delightful about picking up a medium-to-fat, crunch-tender asparagus spear in my fingertips, politely swishing it a pucker-up, creamy, lemon sauce and savoring the lightly-charred flavor. 

Just eat.  It's too simple for words, hence this short post.

IMG_2243Grilling asparagus is so simple, it barely requires writing a recipe.  Just toss the trimmed stalks in some lemon-infused extra-virgin olive oil (just enough to lightly-coat), season the spears with some freshly-ground sea salt and a nice peppercorn blend, then, place them directly on the hottest part of the grill grids for a couple very short minutes -- about 3-4 minutes for medium-thick asparagus, 5-6 minutes for thicker ones.  No fuss, no muss, no prep.  Just grill and eat.

IMG_2196For two appetizer servings:

4  ounces, trimmed, medium-thick asparagus spears (12 spears)

1  tablespoon lemon-infused extra-virgin olive oil, high-quality store-bought or made from scratch in the home kitchen

15 grinds sea salt

15 grinds peppercorn blend

IMG_2207 IMG_2207~ Step 1 (optional but highly recommended by me).  To make 1/4 cup of my favorite creamy, lemon sauce, mix together 4 tablespoons mayonnaise and 1 tablespoon lemon-infused EVOO & white-balsamic vinaigrette.  Set aside.

IMG_2185 IMG_2185 IMG_2185 IMG_2185 IMG_2185~Step 2.  After trimming the asparagus (see Cook's Note below), line them up, side-by-side, in a single layer on a plate.  Slowly drizzle the lemon-infused extra-virgin olive oil over the surface.  Using a pastry brush, paint the asparagus with the EVOO to coat.  Sprinkle a generous grinding of sea salt and peppercorn blend over the surface.  Set aside.

IMG_2184 IMG_2184 IMG_2184 IMG_2184~Step 3.  Heat an outdoor gas grill over high setting, or, place a grill pan that's been sprayed with no-stick cooking spray over high heat on stovetop.  Place asparagus, side-by-side, slightly apart, in a single layer across the hot grill grids.  Grill, using tongs to turn only once, until asparagus is lightly charred and cooked to desired degree of doneness, about 1 1/2-2 minutes per side (or until desired degree of doneness is reached).  Remove from heat and serve ASAP.

Remove from grill or grill pan & serve ASAP:

IMG_2230Amazingly-Lemony and Perfectly-Grilled Asparagus:  Recipe yields instructions to grill medium-thick fresh asparagus spears.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; chef's knife; pastry brush; outdoor gas grill or indoor stovetop grill pan; tongs

IMG_1895Cook's Note: When it comes to cooking asparagus via any method, freshness always matters more than thickness, and, even the best asparagus recipes are subject to failure if this delicate vegetable isn't treated with care. ~ Choosing, Prepping and Storing Amazing Asparagus ~ is a must read for anyone who's looking to get acquainted with this seasonal but very versatile vegetable.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2019)

06/18/2019

~ Making Lemon-Infused EVOO in the Home Kitchen ~

IMG_2176Let me start by saying, I purchase my lemon-infused olive oil.  It's a small investment for a product that, in honesty, because of the process involved, can't be 100% duplicated in the home kitchen. Manufacturers of high-quality lemon-infused olive oil include lemon in with the olives when the oil gets cold pressed.  Home cooks simply do not have that option, so, if you are one of those who is inclined to make it at home, the only alternative is what's known as the "heat-and-soak" process.

IMG_2098Lemon-infused olive oil is one of my favorite pantry staples -- a bit of it in a skillet adds marvelous flavor to a sautéing chicken paillard or delicate fillet of white fish.  When mixed with some tangy white-balsamic vinegar, a pinch of sugar, a few herbes de Provence, plus, a tad of Dijon mustard, lemon-infused EVOO & white balsamic vinaigrette is born. It's hard to name a salad that doesn't benefit from a lemony vinaigrette, and because the lemon flavor is infused right in the oil, as opposed to just a fresh squirt of lemon juice, every bite gets enrobed in the lemon-luscious flavor.

Two ingredients plus a bit of patience is all it takes.

IMG_21501  cup high-quality extra-virgin olive oil, the best available and/or your favorite brand

2  large, ripe lemons, preferably organic

Scrub & dry the lemons.

IMG_2142~ Step 1.  Scrub the lemons clean.  Do not skip this step.  Use a stiff vegetable brush, some mild dish detergent and warm tap water.  When finished, pat the lemons dry in some paper towels.

Shave the lemon zest off in long strips.

IMG_2153~ Step 2.  Use a vegetable peeler or a sharp paring knife to carefully shave the yellow zest from the lemons in long, thin strips, avoiding the bitter white pith layer that lies beneath yellow zest.

Place the EVOO & zest in a shallow, 8" skillet.

IMG_2159~ Step 3.  Place the olive oil and lemon zest strips in an 8" skillet over medium heat.  Do not allow to simmer, and that includes little bubbles that form around the sides of the saucepan.

Heat to warm & carefully regulate temp for 15 minutes. 

IMG_2164 2~ Step 4.  Keep the oil on the stovetop at this warm temperature, regulating the heat up and down as necessary, for 15 minutes.  Remove from heat and cool, uncovered, to room temperature.

Cool to room temperature, strain & store.

IMG_2170~ Step 5.  Using a fine mesh strainer, strain the oil into a clean bottle, jar or other type of food storage container.  Discard the lemon zest.  Store in a cool, dark place or in the refrigerator.

Don't be inclined to store the oil w/the zest in it.

IMG_2180Note:  While it's inviting to look at a piece or two of zest floating around in a bottle or jar of oil, (and it is common practice for some manufacturers of cold-pressed infused oil to allow a strand or two to remain), in the home kitchen, the oil has a longer shelf life if it is removed.  Also, once the oil has been cooled to room temperature, it is not going to take on any more flavor from the zest.

Lemon-infused EVOO -- a light, bright versatile pantry staple:

IMG_2173Making Lemon-Infused EVOO in the Home Kitchen:  Recipe yields 1 cup.

Special Equipment List: vegetable brush; paper towels; vegetable peeler or sharp paring knife; 8" skillet; fine mesh strainer

IMG_2061 2Cook's Note:  During asparagus season, May through the end of June here in the Northeast, I am never without a bottle of lemon-infused olive oil.  Asparagus is the perfect foil for lemon, salt and pepper, and, ~ Perfectly Shallow-Poached Fresh Asparagus Spears ~ is one of favorite ways to serve this delectable vegetable.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2019)

06/15/2019

~Lemon-Infused EVOO & White Balsamic Vinaigrette~

IMG_2098Lemon-infused olive oil is one of my favorite pantry staples -- a bit of it in a skillet adds marvelous flavor to a sautéing chicken paillard or delicate fillet of white fish.  When mixed with some tangy white-balsamic vinegar, a pinch of sugar, a few herbes de Provence, and, a tad of Dijon mustard, an amazing vinaigrette is born.  It's hard to name a salad that doesn't benefit from a lemony vinaigrette, and, in the case of this one, because the lemon flavor is infused in the oil, as opposed to a fresh squirt of lemon juice, every bite gets enrobed in its light, bright flavor.  There's more:  It is indisputably the best marinade for vegetables, poultry, fish or seafood I have ever encountered. Yes indeed, the investment in a bottle of lemon-infused EVOO is a small but mighty-wise one.

IMG_2081For the lemon-infused, white balsamic vinaigrette:

1/2  cup white balsamic vinegar

1/4  cup lemon-infused olive oil

2  tablespoons sugar

1  tablespoon Dijon mustard

1  teaspoon dried herbes de Provence

Step 1.  In a 1-cup container with a tight-fitting lid and pourer top, place all ingredients. Vigorously shake until well-combined.  Use as a marinade and/or dress salad and store leftovers in refrigerator.

Try it on my poached asparagus, grape tomato & mozzarella salad

IMG_2107Lemon-Infused EVOO & White Balsamic Vinaigrette:  Recipe yields 3/4 cup vinaigrette.

Special Equipment List:  1-cup measuring container w/tight-fitting lid and pourer top.

IMG_2061Cook's Note: Technically known as shallow poaching and sometimes referred to as skillet poaching, this is the easiest way to cook fresh asparagus spears.  As it turns out, a small amount of gently or barely simmering salted water in a wide-bottomed skillet is a great way to quickly control the heat of the water, which, in turn, makes it very easy to efficiently yield vibrant green asparagus spears of any thickness that are cooked to your liking: crunch-tender blanched to fully-cooked fork-tender.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2019)