white bean dip with rosemary and sage

Well, hello there,  2014!!!  By my calculations, I’m only about two weeks late to the party, but, hey…life has a way of being lived sometimes and I have to admit there’s been little time for cooking AND photographing.  Just cooking, lately, and Brownie meetings to supervise, and piano lessons to patiently sit through, and puppy obedience classes to attend.  Also, believe it or not, it gets dark really early this time of year in the desert.  By 5:30, if I haven’t cooked, plated, and photographed, there’s just not enough natural light.

Ahhh, excuses, excuses, excuses.  Enough of that, on to the bean dip.

I made this for the first time on New Year’s Eve 2012.  It was a huge hit with our guests and, even though it was just going to be the three of us this year (one of whom wouldn’t touch the stuff with a ten foot pole), I decided to do it again for our New Year’s Day feast.  We already had too much food, but this dip is so good (and gets better with each passing day), I was happy to have the leftovers for some post-celebration snacking.  It’s low in fat, high in flavor (lots of garlic goodness), and a good source of protein and fiber from the beans.  It’s also really fast and easy to assemble.  Put it together the day before you plan to serve it for maximum flavor mingling!  (I hear there’s a big football game in the not-too-distant future).  Serve with the crackers or crudités of your choice.  Enjoy!!

White Bean Dip with Rosemary and Sage (recipe courtesy Cooking Light, Aug 2007)

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh sage
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 (19-ounce) can cannellini beans or other white beans, rinsed and drained
  • Fresh sage sprig (optional)

Directions:

  1. Combine first 7 ingredients in a food processor; process until smooth. Serve with pita wedges crackers, fresh veggies. Garnish with sage sprig, if desired.

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grilled cod with lemon, mint, and basil

If I’m going to be committed to tracking and sharing the recipes I thought were great…or, even good, a couple recent efforts left me with the niggling idea I should also track and share recipes I thought had potential…even if they didn’t live up to my expectations when I made them.  After all, cooking and photographing takes a bit of effort.  It’s time I sometimes don’t even have (ask my husband, who has sat patiently waiting to eat while I shoot one, last picture of the plated meal before the light gets bad).

In the current case, I didn’t shoot any prep shots because it was one of those days we were running behind and I just really needed to get dinner moving.  But I had time to plate and shoot.  Then came the eating and the point at which I thought, thank goodness I didn’t spend a bunch of time shooting the prep for this average recipe.

Because that’s what I thought it was:  average.  Not because I don’t like fish.  I do.  And, not because I don’t like lemon and basil and olive oil.  I do, I do, I do.  What I discovered upon eating this dish is how much I dislike mint.  Or, at the very least, how much I dislike mint in this quantity.

That’s where I started thinking I should share it with this caveat:   Too.  Much.  Dang.  Mint!   Three tablespoons of mint was simply overpowering.  Granted, cod is a relatively bland, yet buttery-textured fish.  It has great potential for any preparation, whether grilled, poached, or pan-seared.  And this recipe could have been great had it not been for the mint.

With that said, this is what I’d do differently next time:  leave out the mint entirely and substitute chives, for instance, or flip-flop the proportions by using three tablespoons of basil, which I adore, and only one tablespoon of mint.  Either way, the overwhelming taste and smell of mint needs to be eliminated.  Unless, of course, you love mint, which might find you preparing this fish exactly as the recipe suggests.  It’s a blank canvas.  Have at it and enjoy!

Grilled Cod with Lemon, Mint, and Basil (recipe courtesy Healthy 100 @ Florida Hospital)

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 3 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp. chopped fresh mint
  • 1 tbsp. chopped fresh basil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 4 (4-oz.) cod fillets

Directions:

1. Preheat grill to medium.  In a small bowl whisk together oil, lemon juice, mint, basil and garlic, reserving half for sauce.  Brush one side of each fillet with lemon and herb mixture.

2. Place fillets on grill. Grill 4 minutes per side or until fish flakes easily with a fork. Transfer fillets to a serving platter, drizzle with remaining lemon and herb sauce, and serve.

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herb-roasted pork shoulder

I love how the perfect weekend recipe always seems to appear in my in-box around Friday afternoon.  Generally, my other half cooks on Saturday night, giving me a much-needed break from six previous nights of cooking.  But by Sunday I’m geared up and ready to go at it again.  And Sunday cooking is more a labor of love.  Weeknight dinners are usually selected for ease of prep and timeliness.   On Sunday, there isn’t that same chaotic, mad rush.  Sunday meals are slower.  Sunday meals are more laid back.  It’s probably my favorite night of the week to cook.  There’s a certain satisfaction in chopping garlic and fresh herbs when you know it’s not a race to the finish.

And this is just the epitome of a Sunday Supper: roasted, aromatic, savory, slower, laid back, and delicious!  The herb rub is heady and flavorful.   The crispy pork skin??  Well, I don’t eat such things but I’m pretty sure my husband buckled at the knees.  The pork shoulder is a fattier cut of meat than I normally choose, but a little fat sure goes a long way; the roast was tender and juicy.  We used the digital meat thermometer and cooked to an internal temp of about 160°.

Enjoy!

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Herb-Roasted Pork Shoulder

Ingredients

  • 1 5-to-6 pound boneless, skin-on pork shoulder (mine was about 3 lbs)
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1  Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1  Tbsp chopped fresh sage
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 3/4 tsp black pepper

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 400° F with a rack in the middle position. Score the skin of the pork in a criss-cross diamond pattern every 1½ inches. Turn the pork skin-side down and rub with the garlic, rosemary, sage, 2 teaspoons salt, and ¾ teaspoon pepper. Roll up the pork with the skin on the outside and tie every 2 inches with kitchen twine. Place on a rimmed baking sheet.
  2. Roast the pork for 1 hour. Reduce heat to 350° F and continue to roast until the skin is very crispy and pulls away from the meat easily, 2 to 2½ hours more. Transfer to a cutting board, tent loosely with foil, and let rest for 15 minutes before slicing.

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