Sunday, August 28, 2011

Grilled Mushroom Sliders with Spicy Cilantro Almond Pesto

Isn't your mouth just watering looking at this slider??  I never fail to be amazed by the inspired recipes Dara of Cookin Canuck dreams up, and this is definitely a fantastic one.  This guest post from Cookin Canuck is for Grilled Mushroom Sliders, topped with Zucchini, Tomato, and a Spicy Cilantro Almond Pesto.  I am especially excited by the spicy cilantro pesto (for obvious reasons) but I also can't stop thinking about the grilled mushroom!  Oh yeah, you know what I am talking about - a thick, juicy, seasoned and grilled mushroom is a little bite of tender heaven.  I think these sliders would be the perfect vegetarian option for your Labor Day parties... but I bet meat-eaters wouldn't be able to resist them either.  And since they are miniature, you can feel free to eat more than one (or two).  

I hope you enjoy this guest post, and if you love 'mini' foods as much as we do, be sure to stop by Cookin Canuck and check out her other small dishes like Mini Grilled Pizzas with Shrimp and Red Pepper Pesto, Mini Frittatas with Parmesan and Bacon, and Mini Pepper Biscuits.  Or, just stop by to get a little dose of sunshine from her happy personality.  Thanks Dara! 
To start, I am sending a sincere “thank you” to Amanda for asking me to share this post with you.  I can never resist stopping by her blog to see what recipes she cooked up and to gawk at her gorgeous photos.  And, by the way, she is just as sweet and bright in person as she appears on her blog.  If you didn’t catch the informative and downright jaw-dropping post she wrote and photographed for my blog - Orange Cantaloupe Sorbet –  be sure to check it out.  As Amanda is toiling over her computer, hammering out her Ph.D. dissertation (yes, I’m officially in awe), I am happy to give her a little blogging relief.  So, let’s move on to these tasty mushroom sliders, paired with a spicy cilantro pesto.

I don’t know what it is about things in miniature, but they have the effect of turning me into a weepy-eyed, cootchie-cooing fool.  Kittens, puppies, babies – you name it, I’m a sucker for it.  One would hope that these behaviors would be relegated strictly to the “baby animal/people” category but, sadly, they also cross over to food.  Cocktail parties and tapas restaurants are my preferred playgrounds as I prefer small tastes of multiple flavors rather than one large dish.  Sliders, typically about half the size of a regular burger, fit my idea of  “miniature” perfectly.

One of our favorite sliders recipes is Smoky Beef Sliders with Grilled Pineapple and Chipotle Mayonnaise.  When you’re in the mood for beef, this one is bound to satisfy your craving.  However, if you prefer something a little lighter or on the vegetarian side of the scale, turn to grilled mushrooms.  Portobello mushrooms are typically the mushroom of choice for grilling.  However, they are a little too big for sliders, unless you buy the baby bellas, which would work well for this recipe.  While at the market, I stumbled upon some very large crimini mushrooms, which were just the right size to fit inside some whole wheat dinner rolls.  If you are unable to find large crimini mushrooms, fill each slider with two small ones instead.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Thai Crab and Watermelon Salad

Wow, is it almost the end of August already?  This month has flown by for me, and it is hard for me to imagine that summer is almost over.  But not yet!  Case in point, this beautiful guest post today from Joy of Joylicious features an Easy Thai Crab and Watermelon Salad with gorgeous multi-colored melons, light and and healthy crab, fresh herbs, and a tangy dressing.  If you ask me, it is the perfect way to savor the last days of summer.  Plus, isn't it beautiful?  Although that is to be expected, since it came from Joy's kitchen.  Behind the lens, Joy works magic, and all her posts featuring stunning photography plus amazing recipes and experiences.  I also adore how she artfully integrates text into her photos.  Genius.  And of course, I love that she is just an all around happy gal.  Enjoy the post and be sure to stop by and check out Joylicious! 

Amanda has been one of my great blogger friends since the beginning.  I rooted for her during Project Food Blog and continue to be mesmerized time and time again with her beautiful pictures, recipes and words. While she’s slaving away in graduate school, she’s asked a few of her friends to hold the fort during her dissertation.  So I am so honored to be the guest blogger at The Cilantropist today, thank you Amanda for having me!

One of my favorite parts about summers in Texas are the family get togethers we have on the weekends around the pool.  Every Sunday the family gets together to enjoy a little beer, plenty of grilling and of course lots of eating.  I found this recipe through Food and Wine – they originally had grilled chicken which I’ve replaced with crab.  I love the addition of the watermelon with the bold yet light vinaigrette.  It’s a great appetizer for the summer as it’s easy to prepare and would wow any crowd. 

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Fresh Spring Rolls with Spicy Carrot Sauce

I have another guest post for you today, and I can't even begin to tell you how much I love this one!  This cool and refreshing recipe comes from Liren of Kitchen Confidante - her and I go waaaaay back, all the way to when we first started our blogs.  Even from the beginning, I knew I liked her warm heart and friendly spirit, and her blog is a place where she shares inspiring recipes with gorgeous photos.  I also really love her writing, she has a voice that is calm and real, and I always find her posts informative

With this recipe for Fresh Spring Rolls with Spicy Carrot Sauce, Liren has touched on so many things that I adore: first, you know how I can't resist fresh and seasonal veggies, and in this recipe, they are the star.  Liren was even lucky enough to find some pea shoots at the farmers market, which make these spring rolls extra special.  Second, she elevated standard spring rolls to greatness by pairing them with an intriguing Spicy Carrot Sauce (I can't wait to try it myself!).  And last, but certainly not least, Liren encourages us to share these rolls with friends and family - a concept that is near and dear to my heart, since I learned to make these rolls from a good friend, and have shared them with family ever since.  

I know you will just love this recipe from Liren, and be sure to stop by Kitchen Confidante and check out all her other recipes - I have still been thinking about her post from last year on making beer bratwurst, if you are into homemade foods and DIY projects, this one is for you.  Enjoy!

I am so honored to share a post today on The Cilantropist. Amanda and I both started our sites at about the same time, and it has been a delight getting to know one another better through our kitchens and the world of food. I have also had the joy of meeting Amanda in person, and I have to tell all of you - she is as sweet and kind and as passionate about food in person as you can imagine. Having once been in her grad school shoes, I well know the stress of that world - dissertation drafts, defenses, meeting upon meeting...I honestly don't know how she does it all whilst cooking, photographing, writing and sharing it here -- and beautifully so -- for all of us. So I am more than happy to share something with Amanda's readers, while she gets all that hard work done.

It's been a sweltering summer for much of the country, and while it's been unusually mild here in the Bay Area, I am often chatting with family and friends that are melting in heat and humidity. I have the utmost empathy for them; I well remember the oppressive heat, when your excursions outdoors are greeted by hot sidewalks, heat permeating from every inorganic material - I've crossed many a taxi filled street in NYC to know. All you want to do is find air conditioning, all you want to eat is something light and refreshing.

Like Amanda, I am a fan of cilantro, so for today's post, I thought I would serve up something cool and refreshing, that highlights vibrant herbs and vegetables. Perfect for these hot summers, you will find these Vietnamese-style Fresh Spring Rolls with Spicy Carrot Sauce satisfying with the crunch of carrots and cucumber, the coolness of slippery bean threads (rice vermicelli), succulent seafood, and peppy herbs such as mint, cilantro and basil. And if that isn't enough, sweet carrots were used to create a Spicy Carrot Sauce in which to dip your bundles of coolness.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Herb Roasted Fingerling Potatoes

I don't really care that it is summer and it is hot, because these days I have been wanting to roast everything.  My abundance of summer squash goes into the oven, I have been making Spice Roasted Carrots like crazy, and I just made another batch of Roasted Eggplant and Red Pepper Dip this weekend.  Call me crazy, but doesn't roasting make everything taste better?

Isn't this bag of little potatoes just the cutest?

Roasting also saves me time - which I don't need to remind you, is in short supply these days.  So naturally, when I picked up some beautiful fingerling potatoes from Weiser Farms at the Little Italy Farmers Market, I made big plans to toss them into the oven with some olive oil, and little salt, and some fresh herbs. 

Beautiful different colors of fingerling potatoes.
I love roasting sliced potatoes with some onions, red peppers, and rosemary, but for these whole fingerling potatoes I wanted something a little more rustic, so I turned to sage.  I adore the soft texture of fresh sage, it just draws me in like a delicate feather.  The earthy and sweet fragrance is so different from other herbs, and it pairs perfectly with fresh-from-the-ground fingerling potatoes. 

Monday, August 8, 2011

Grilled Thai Coriander Chicken

I am really excited to share another guest post with you today - this one is from my good friend and co-worker, Steve.  Steve is not a blogger, but he is a true food connoisseur at heart.  His skills in the kitchen are undeniable, and he is always making really amazing Thai foods and other Asian dishes.  He and I talk about food ALL the time (he says this below, but I thought I would repeat it for emphasis), so many of the recipes you see here on The Cilantropist have been discussed with Steve over a cup of coffee before we start the workday.  He has given me invaluable advice on most, if not all, of the Asian dishes I have featured here, including my recipe for Tom Yum Goong (Hot and Sour Soup with Prawns) and Turkey Larb.  In fact, sometimes he even brings me fresh kaffir lime leaves, limes, or lemongrass from his parent's garden up in LA.   

All of Steve's cooking is fantastic, but I know he is an expert grill master, so I asked him to share one of his summer recipes with you today.  This Grilled Thai Coriander Chicken is perfect for an end-of-summer backyard barbecue, or to make for the upcoming Labor Day weekend, or just to make on a weekday for dinner.  The chicken doesn't need to marinate for very long, and is extremely easy to make. And as a bonus, Steve also shared his recipe for a Green Salad with Thai-inspired Lime Dressing!  Together with some extra grilled veggies, this is basically the perfect family summer meal. 

This is Steve's first time posting here or ever, and this a fantastic post so let's show him some love!  I am sure you will enjoy this recipe and I hope he will share more in the future. 

Since Amanda is toiling away everyday working on her PhD thesis, I have observed firsthand the craziness of finishing up and graduating.  I am actually her friend and neighbor in the lab (our desks are next to each other), and I love food.  We both talk about it ALL the time and share each recipes and experiences in cooking with each other.  I have to say, I am pretty lucky to be able to taste The Cilantropist’s food.  So when she asked me to do the guest post, I was both honored and apprehensive, since this is the first time I have ever written a food post.  I really like to cook and try new things, but taking pictures and cooking at the same time is definitely hard and I give props to everyone that does this.  

Now, onto the food!

Many times you have guests come over unexpectedly, or a lot of visitors, and you want to make them something good, but that is still simple enough to manage.  I came from a very big Chinese-Thai family and we often had family gatherings (either random or planned) at my Grandma’s house.  My dad has 7 brothers and sisters, so I have lots of cousins and we all gathered at Grandma’s house.  When I was a kid, I remember running around the house playing hide and seek, climbing trees, playing video games with my cousins, BUT in the background I could see that the kitchen and backyard was also active with my relatives cooking.  In particular, the grill was definitely being utilized and the smell of grilled meat and charcoal sticks to my mind whenever I think of Grandma’s house.  We aren’t unaccustomed to non-Asian foods or food snobs, but we just didn’t make your usual fare of burgers and hotdogs at our gatherings.  We all love to eat good food, and in particular, good Thai food.  

Being that we all lived and grew up in southern California, BBQ was definitely something we did a lot in the backyard during the cool summer evenings.  So this marinade for Grilled Thai Coriander Chicken that I rediscovered from my parents brings back many memories.  Not only is it very easy to prepare at short notice, but very versatile for grilling different kinds of meats.  I have never tried it with tofu, but maybe that would work as well.

For the chicken, the coriander-cilantro marinade is a very simple recipe and requires few ingredients, but the secret to making this marinade is in the preparation of some of the ingredients.  Coriander is just the seed of cilantro, so in this recipe you get double cilantro (which is, coincidentally, part of The Cilantropist’s namesake).  The seeds are dried and you can get it at any Mexican or Asian market, even many larger supermarkets such as Whole foods should have it.  The first thing you want to do is dry toast the seeds in a heavy pan for 5 minutes until you can smell the fragrant coriander, but NOT burned.  You need to shake the pan every once in awhile so that the coriander seeds are evenly toasted on all sides. 

Monday, August 1, 2011

Orange Cantaloupe Sorbet

I am really excited to tell you that I am guest posting over at Cookin Canuck today!  

I know, you are probably confused because I just told you that I am so busy these days that I barely have time to post here, but I committed to posting for Dara before I realized how busy I would be - and you know what? - I am so glad that I did, because Cookin Canuck is one of my favorite blogs, and Dara is a genuine person with a kind heart.  I love her food because she always has recipe ideas that are exciting and fresh, great how-to tips, and photos that are lovely.  

So when she asked me to share a recipe with her readers, I knew I wanted to make something using seasonal ingredients that was different than something I had made before.  Last summer, I had seen a lot of recipes for watermelon granitas and some melon sorbets, but I had never tried it myself.  Since melons are at peak season right now, I thought it would be perfect to blend sweet summer citrus with ripe and juicy cantaloupe to make a sorbet that was bursting with flavor.  

After I made it and took one refreshing bite, I was completely in love with the taste - it was sweet, but in such a complex way because of the natural flavor of the cantaloupe and fresh orange, plus some added sugar... and a little Cointreau. (You know me, I can't resist adding a little liqueur to my sorbet.) 

Be sure to head over to Cookin Canuck to get this easy recipe, to see lots of step-by-step photos, and to get my 'how-to' tips for picking the best cantaloupe!

And last but not least, don't miss out on my Urban Cheesecraft DIY cheese-making kit giveaway!  Urban Cheesecraft takes the guess-work out of making cheese by providing everything you need.  

Enjoy the week, and stay cool!