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Monday, June 26, 2017

Tried & True - Summer Menu Inspiration

I say it every year. Summer is my favorite time to cook. From simple yet elegant meals driven by the best seasonal ingredients (basically my goal all year), to desserts that practically make themselves, no time of year inspires me more. 


Neurotic Kitchen Summer Favorites 


As you think about your own cooking goals this summer, whether they include big parties or intimate entertaining, I thought it might be helpful to compile a list of just some of my tried and true summer dishes. You can rest assured that all of them have been made multiple times and, better yet, you can prep or make almost all in advance. This means you'll have more time to enjoy your parties, which is as it should be. I hope you enjoy and I wish you a season you can savor in more ways than one.  

Neurotic Kitchen's Summer Menu Ideas

"Surf" Mains/Starters/Sides
Turn any dish into a Surf & Turf with one of these

Grilled Marinated Calamari Salad - serve alongside Steak for an easy Surf & Turf, salad included, or as a great starter
Tuna Crudo with Peach & Jalapeno
Skewered Shrimp - Season the marinate large shrimp in flavors to your liking. Stack one serving (3-4 shrimp) and skewer them in two places for easy flipping. Grill on a piastra, pizza stone or grill basket
Clams in Cartoccio - these grillable hobo packs makes any main a Surf & Turf
Cooked Shrimp Ceviche
Fluke Ceviche
Rose Mignonette for Oysters
Margarita Oysters Verde (Salsa Verde, Lime & a splash of Tequila) 
Grilled Scallop Salsa Cruda


Pastas/Pizzas - App, First Course or Main

Lemon Pizza in Grill or Oven 
Scallop & Sungold Tomato Pasta

Menus:
Latin Inspired Menu

Mojo Marinated Skirt Steak
Yellow Rice
Watermelon Arugula Salad 
Or
Grilled Pineapple, Basil & Cucumber Salad
Corn with Jalapeno Lime Butter 

Florentine Inspired Menu

Prosciutto & Melon
Bistecca Florentina - T-bone Steak Marinated in Herbs on the Grill, 
Italian Corn
Summer Stone Fruit Panzanella Salad (use any seasonal stone fruit)
Assorted Gelati  

Classy American BBQ Menu
Israeli Couscous with Seasonal Additions  (ideas here, here or here
Tomato and White Onion Salad, Red Wine/Olive Oil/Oregano Dressing 
Corn on the Grill - just remove the silk, soak the corn a long while and grill in the husks
Ribeyes Marinated in Caper Vinaigrette then grilled 
Strawberry Pretzel & Gelato Sundae

Greek Inspired Menu

Shepherd's Salad (Any variation like Cucumber, Tomato, Scallion etc)
New Potatoes & Green Bean Salad with Vinaigrette
Leg of Lamb Marinated in Mint and Yogurt - Grilled
Assorted Sorbets (Mint, Lemon, etc) 

Other Easy Sides/Starters:

Sweet & Savory Watermelon Wedges 
Tomato Carpaccio
Grilled Peaches with Goat Cheese
Crab Salad served on or with Cucumber Chips
Grilled Asparagus on a Grill Basket or in Foil Packets 

Ready to Serve - Products We Love
Xotchitl Tortilla Chips 
Xotchitl Salsa
Tate's Chocolate Chip Cookies
Il Laboratorio del Gelato - all flavors (especially the mascarpone used in our Pretzel Strawberry Sundae)
Talenti Gelato - Particularly Sicilian Pistachio
Spoonable Salted Caramel - Makes any Ice Cream special 
Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers - add to Ice Cream, serve with coffee, etc

Your favorite Pie a la Mode -- we like Briermere Farms Peach Cherry 


Monday, June 19, 2017

Ingredient Spotlight - Mint Simple Syrup

The summer heat is on full blast and you are, no doubt, in need of some refreshment. At least that's how I felt when I decided to use the overflowing bounty of my herb garden to jazz up a cold glass of Iced Tea - one of the many simple pleasures of the season, I am sure you'll agree. 

If you've ever included Mint to your garden, you know that it is prolific, growing and spreading like a weed as it takes over everything in its immediate proximity. Looking for a practical way to capitalize on this abundance, I decided to find a Mint Simple Syrup Recipe. The process took just about 15 minutes (including washing and chopping the Mint) and the results were delicious - Simple Syrup can be used in Cocktails (the possibilities are really endless) and Mocktails and as you've probably guessed, it was an awesome way to add extra flavor and sweetness to home-brewed Iced Tea. 

Mint Simple Syrup, Photo: NK 
 RECIPE from Epicurious

Bottom's up and enjoy!