Recipes and memories from my trip to Hilton Head Island, SC.
How do you know when it's summer?
I grew up in the 60's near the Pacific Ocean in sunny SoCal. I loved the pungent aroma of orange blossoms, and the smell of the pepper trees after it rained. It was especially fragrant in mid June when the parched hillsides were beginning to peak with brown grasses. That's when my sisters and I, as little girls, were most restless.
When my parents could no longer tolerate the desert heat, they would put us in the back seat, load the station wagon with food and towels, and head out on the I-10 freeway towards the continent’s edge. California beaches, here we come!
It was a beautiful sight. Purple and blue hues stretched out to the horizon as the cool water spun seaweed into knotted piles. We made sand castles, followed crabs, and chased the tide and foam all day long... until the sun dipped too low to cast a shadow. And then we went home.
I remember how much sand we took home with us as well. I could always feel it in the lining of my bathing suit no matter how much I moved to get comfortable. I remember seeing it spill out onto the bathroom floor from our suits as our mother prepared us for our evening bath. And, I loved to save some of the granules, and place it in a bag next to my bed.
That’s when I knew it was truly summer.
These days, now that I live close to the eastern shores -- with Hilton Head Island being one of my favorite destinations -- my cue that summer has arrived is now heralded by the drone of the cicadas and the shriek of the tree frogs after sunset.
All of this points to the fact that SUMMER is the best times to cook amazing food. The access to local produce, and the long, sunny days just inspire me to create fresh and easy meals. I love food seasoned generously, food with color and textures that excite, and food I can serve outside while I take in the vibrant colors of the hibiscus flowers, the honeysuckle and gardenias. One could get lost in the epic scale of a magnolia flower. But since they fade in a day or two, I will take my chances and dive right in.
I don't ride in the back of a station wagon any more. And I miss giggling with my sisters. And while I'm not fond of sand in my git-a-long, I will still gather some of the white stuff and sift it through my fingers, always saving some for another day.
RECIPE: Baked Halibut with Bing Cherry Shallot Sauce,
Few places have the kind of natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest, my home for almost 8 years in the 90's and my destination for the next week. I am visiting old friends at their beach house in Stanwood, WA, taking in the view of the ever changing Sound, sipping coffee while watching purple sunrises, and being appropriately soothed by the casual passing of a bevy of swans.
It has been nearly a decade since gathering. And even though Facebook keeps us in touch, We are indeed way overdue for an evening of laughter, cooking and good wine.
Okay, I'm game.
So we really did mean to make this with turkey sausage. Honestly, we did. Even after the beautiful aroma of sage and spice filled the kitchen, and the silky fat began to caramelize and pool in the pan, we continued our charade, boasting about our healthy choice for dinner. It wasn’t until later that we, two blissfully demented cooks, saw the turkey in the fridge, and had to admit we had opened regular sausage instead.
GO figure. Guess we were just drawn to the good stuff! The fact of the matter is you can use any meat, turkey or pork. Even hamburger meat. Also, feel free to use any leftover roasted vegetable on hand. But if you want to duplicate our level of mistaken yumminess, follow this as closely as you can!
RECIPE: Leftover Roast Vegetable and Sausage Bake
with a Creamy and Spicy Cheese Sauce
1 medium yellow onion diced
1 bulb Celeriac
1 – 2 large cloves of garlic minced
½ large green pepper diced
1 medium bulb fennel thinly sliced
3 C cooked sliced butternut squash
About 2 C roasted Brussel sprouts
1 pint of fresh spinach leaves
½ C craisins
Salt and pepper
4 T butter
1 T oil
To assemble, butter a large 9 by 13 inch heavy casserole dish. Put the uncooked celeriac on the bottom, cover with the cooked sausage mixture, then layer with the cooked squash, then the fennel, then the Brussel sprouts, then put the spinach all over the top, sprinkle with craisins and then pour the finished sauce all over the casserole. Dot with the 4 T butter and another flourish of sea salt, then cook in a 375 degree F oven for about 25 – 30 minutes, or until bubbling and browned a little on the edges.
2 C sharp cheddar cheese grated
1/3 C heavy cream
1 ½ C chicken stock
2 T butter
2 T flour
¼ t of dried oregano
¼ t dried thyme
½ good quality or artisan garam masala
Salt and pepper
That said, I was in Sam's Club yesterday. And I just don't know what to say. I used to be turned off by 5 pound jars of mayonnaise even when everyone around me was singing the praises of LARGE equals GOOD. Now I'm just turned off altogether. Is this bashing? No. Is this an honest opinion by someone who, over the course of refining my cooking techniques over the last few years has reached a point where I am almost sickened by what we pass off as food?
Why? Because someone is fooling you into thinking your lives are complete WITHOUT it. By relegating nourishment to the basement of your priority list, you're depriving yourself of something so wonderful.
You have five senses. So do I. Some folks have perhaps lost the use of theirs, which is not the case for most of us. We just choose not to use them. It's like we are all morphing into creatures who can only taste salty and sweet. I'm just wondering why TASTE and QUALITY got trampled along with bell bottoms and rotary phones back in the 70's? We have all seen the charts. We spend less of our earned living on food today than 50 years ago. And in America, where food is plentiful, we still go for big, puffed up, sugary fillers instead of choosing to explore the most rewarding adventure of all: REAL FOOD.
I get it. We turned the tide on civilization when food became easy to grow, distribute and buy. We saved countless people from starvation and helped entire countries create economies that allowed them access to better education, healthcare and the opportunity for peaceful lives. But somewhere along the way we started caring more about the quality of gas for our cars as opposed to the quality of food that goes into our bodies. We started feeling like if we could get dinner for $1, why on earth should we pay $20? And while there is certainly an argument to be made that expensive is not always good, why not use a different benchmark, if you can, to calculate what your own body is worth?
Hmmm. Let me just show you with pictures. Which of course come with recipes. Because that's what I do. And to get them you have to read a little editorial. But I will make sure I give you some tips along with the raving and ranting. Deal? And you? You will promise to try something new and give those two senses, SMELL and TASTE a little more excitement and reward than usual?
Excellent. I feel MUUUUCH better now.
So enjoy these four main dish recipes from someone who wishes I was COOKING THEM FOR YOU!
RECIPE: Easy Roasted Chicken with Herbs
1/2 white onion
1 lemon, quartered
4 T olive oil
salt and pepper
sprigs of thyme and rosemary
1 head of garlic, top trimmed and extra layers discarded
4 C good chicken stock. Use your own if you have it! SO MUCH BETTER!
You can use 1 C of white wine and 3 C water as well.
Rub external skin with the olive oil and salt and pepper. One word, here: GENEROUSLY. Including a little salt and pepper inside, too. Then cut the onion into small chunks and stuff into the cavity of the bird along with the onion, garlic, lemon and herbs.
Put in a large dutch oven, with a tight fitting lid. Roast at 300 degrees F for 4 hours. When done simply watch the meat fall off the bone!
1. Cook 1 C of white jasmine rice according to package directions using chicken stock. Add 1/4 T tumeric, 1/4 t coriander, 1/8 C sliced white onion. Salt and pepper to taste.
2. Cut up 4 C broccoli, 1/2 red pepper, 1/3 C craisins, and 1/4 C yellow onion. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper, a pinch of allspice, a pinch of curry powder, zest from one orange. Roast until perfectly irresistible.
RECIPE: Classic Chinese Chicken Salad
1 large red pepper, chopped into small chunks
1/3 C slivered almonds
2 green onions, chopped
¾ C fresh cilantro chopped
1 ½ C chicken, chopped (I used left over roasted chicken. It’s the only way to go!)
¼ C rice wine vinegar
1/8 C soy sauce
Just slightly less than ¼ C mild oil, like canola
½ t sesame oil
Salt and pepper
1 T sugar
Mix dressing and set aside, combine all other ingredients, toss with dressing, serve.
RECIPE: Bacon Glazed Salmon with Roasted Brussel Sprouts and Mashed New Potatoes.
Roasted Brussel Sprouts
6 medium new potatoes, cut into 1 inch chunks.
1 head of garlic
4 T olive oil
1/4 C heavy cream
3 T butter
salt and pepper
4 C Brussel Sprouts, bottoms trimmed off and cut in half
1 large Fuji apple, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
1/4 C red onion, sliced thinly
2 T honey
Flat leaf parsley to garnish
RECIPE: Italian Stuffed Peppers with Tomatoes and Rice.
1 lb ground mild Italian sausage
1 lb 92% lean ground beef
Handful of fresh oregano
3 T of fresh oregano
1 T of fresh rosemary, chopped
¼ C heavy cream
¼ C plain bread crumbs
1/3 C sweet white onion, chopped
½ C grated parmesan cheese
Zest from one lemon
Kosher Salt and pepper
½ lb mozzarella cheese grated
3 T olive oil
1 t paprika
1 T butter for greasing baking dish
2 15 ounce (or that appx size) cans of basil and oregano flavored diced tomatoes
1/3 C tomato sauce
1 T fresh oregano
Grate the cheese and set aside. Put the two cans of tomatoes and the tomato sauce in a saucepan along with the 1 T fresh oregano. Bring to simmer and cook for 10 minutes, cover and keep warm.
In another large bowl combine the sausage all the way through the salt and pepper. Blend with hands, divide and fill each of the peppers with the meat mixture all the way to the top. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle paprika on top. Cook in a 400 degree F oven for about 40 minutes. Top each with about 1/3 C mozzarella cheese and return to oven with broiler on. Cook until the cheese is melted and begins to bubble. Serve over rice, and ladle the tomato mixture on top.
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Meet the Cook...
My name is Camine Pappas and I love to create beautiful and delicious food that anyone can make. My signature style centers around a love for combining things in a way you might not expect as I work to find a hidden combination of colors, textures and flavors from the things that are in my pantry and/or easy to obtain.
Want to get spontaneous with me? It's pretty exciting. Let's all find out what happens when, "I Feel Like Cooking."
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