Simple Cucumber Salad

Simple Cucumber Salad with Fresh Dill (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Simple Cucumber Salad with Fresh Dill (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

It’s that time of year when your garden may be overflowing with produce. My Simple Cucumber Salad is cool and refreshing, and a great way to use those extra cucumbers!

Fresh cucumbers from my neighbor's garden!  (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Fresh cucumbers from my neighbor’s garden! (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

My usual cucumber salad is made with Greek yogurt and sour cream. This recipe is different: I use lemon juice and a bit of dill vinegar to make a clear simple dressing. Then, I add some chopped dill from my garden, some sugar or honey to balance out the tartness, a bit of salt and pepper, and thinly sliced peeled cucumbers for a cool fresh salad.

Fresh dill from my garden (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Fresh dill from my garden (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

There’s one added step to let the cucumbers soften. After peeling and slicing the cucumbers, just place the slices in a colander and sprinkle with some salt. They will lose some of their “juice.” Then you can pour off the juice and add the dressing.

Simple Cucumber Salad pairs well with my Grilled Lamb Meatballs (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Simple Cucumber Salad pairs well with my Grilled Lamb Meatballs (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Enjoy!

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From the kitchen of A Food Lover’s Delight….

Simple Cucumber Salad

Ingredients:

2 large cucumbers
2 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 t dill vinegar or white wine vinegar
1 T freshly chopped dill
1 t sugar or honey
salt and pepper

Method:

1. Peel and thinly slice the cucumbers.
2. Place the cucumber slices in a colander over a bowl. Sprinkle the cucumbers with a little bit of salt, stir, and set aside for about 30 minutes. This step will remove some of the liquid from the cucumbers, making them soft and silky.
3. Remove the cucumber liquid and discard or set aside for another use.
4. In a non-metallic bowl, combine the cucumbers, lemon juice, vinegar, dill, and sugar or honey. Stir lightly until cucumbers are coated with the dressing.
5. Season with salt and pepper.
6. Serve immediately.

Serves 4 as a salad side dish. Offer with my Grilled Lamb Meatballs and some warm pita, or alongside The Best Burger instead of fries.

Variations: Peel and slice some zucchini and add to the cucumbers. Add some finely chopped shallots or minced garlic for a different flavor. Skip the colander step if you prefer crispier cucumbers. Try fresh chopped basil or chives instead of dill.

Lemony Dill Cucumber Salad is a cool and refreshing side dish (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Lemony Dill Cucumber Salad is a cool and refreshing side dish (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

www.afoodloversdelight.com (Copyright Adroit Ideals 2014)

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Grilled Lamb Meatballs

A few years ago, my husband and I met a nice couple who were originally from Turkey. The couple was in the restaurant business, and owned one of our favorite French restaurants. Many times, we were invited to their home for casual family meals and elegant dinner parties. The grilled meat patties, also known as kofta, along with other traditional Turkish foods, were highlights of the casual menus. My Grilled Lamb Meatballs are my attempt to recreate some of that flavor!

Grilled Lamb Meatball Patties with Greek yogurt dipping sauce (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Grilled Lamb Meatball Patties with Greek yogurt dipping sauce (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

My husband makes an amazing rack of lamb. Garlicky and herby, it’s a favorite dish in the cooler months. We also enjoy other lamb dishes such as Monica Bhide’s Lamb Chili and my Grilled Lamb Burgers over Lentils with Minty Yogurt Sauce. Since my local Whole Foods Market has ground lamb in the meat case, I like to buy it in bulk when on sale, and freeze it to use at a later date.

My lamb meatball patties recipe uses cooked couscous as a binder. You could substitute breadcrumbs if you wish. These “meatballs” are really oval-shaped meat patties. Mix together ground lamb, egg, some couscous, onion, garlic, parsley, mint, cumin, paprika, and cinnamon. Add some salt and pepper. Form into oval-shaped patties, place on skewers, chill for 30 minutes.

Form the lamb meatball patties in an oval shape and place on skewers (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Form the lamb meatball patties in an oval shape and place on skewers (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

And grill to perfection!

Crusty Lamb Meatball Patties, hot off the grill!  (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Crusty Lamb Meatball Patties, hot off the grill! (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

For the Greek yogurt sauce, stir together plain Greek yogurt, minced cucumber, lemon juice, chopped parsley and chopped mint. Season with a pinch of salt and some cumin.

Serve the grilled lamb meatball patties with a cucumber Greek yogurt sauce and a cool lemony cucumber dill salad. (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Serve the grilled lamb meatball patties with a cucumber Greek yogurt sauce and a cool lemony cucumber dill salad. (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

And enjoy!

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From the kitchen of A Food Lover’s Delight….

Grilled Lamb Meatballs with Greek Yogurt Sauce

Ingredients:

12 oz ground lamb
1 egg
1/2 c cooked couscous (follow package directions)
1/2 c sweet onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 T finely chopped fresh parsley
1 T finely chopped fresh mint
2 t salt
2 t freshly ground black pepper
2 t ground cumin
2 t ground paprika
1 t ground cinnamon

Method:

1. Combine all ingredients.
2. Form into four oval-shaped meatball patties.
3. Slide the meatball patties onto double skewers.
4. Chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes.
5. Heat grill on high while patties are chilling in refrigerator.
6. Remove the meatball patties from the refrigerator and place on grill.
7. Brush with some canola or olive oil (optional) and grill over hot coals/flame for about 4 – 5 minutes on each side.
8. Use a spatula to turn the meatballs to their other side. Be careful that the meatballs don’t fall apart when turning them on the grill, and remember the skewers are hot!
9. When the meatballs are browned and slightly crusty on the outside, remove them carefully from the hot skewers, and serve!

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Greek Yogurt Sauce:

1 c plain Greek yogurt
1/2 c finely chopped cucumber
1 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 t ground cumin
1 T finely chopped parsley
1 T finely chopped mint
1 t salt

Mix together all ingredients and set aside or chill until ready to use. Makes about 1.5 cups.

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Makes 4 meatball patties. Serves 2 as a main course, 4 as a side to a salad. Offer with my herby Greek yogurt sauce and some warmed flatbread.

Variations: Use your favorite spice combinations. Add some ground chicken or turkey to the ground lamb. Make smaller round meatballs for grilling on skewers instead of the flat oval meatball patties (shorten grilling time to 2 – 3 minutes each side). You could also broil the meatball patties in the oven. Serve on a bun and eat as a sandwich with the Greek yogurt sauce as a topping to the meat.

Grilled Lamb Meatball Patties with a side of Greek yogurt sauce (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Grilled Lamb Meatball Patties with a side of Greek yogurt sauce (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

www.afoodloversdelight.com (Copyright Adroit Ideals 2014)

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Summer Ratatouille

If your vegetable garden is overflowing with zucchini, tomatoes, and peppers, you can make a wonderful Summer Ratatouille! There are several ways to make ratatouille. Mine is more like a veggie “stew” with zucchini, tomatoes, bell peppers, garlic, and herbs! The traditional version calls for eggplant. You can certainly add eggplant, but I didn’t have any on hand!

Zucchini, Tomato and Red Bell Pepper Ratatouille (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Zucchini, Tomato and Red Bell Pepper Ratatouille (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

The best version of this dish that I ever ate was in Tampa, Florida. The restaurant was an old-style Italian restaurant with very high-end Italian food. Their slightly smoky ratatouille was served as a side dish. The waiter seemed to be surprised at how much I liked it. Never did find out their secret to the smokiness, although I suspect they grilled or roasted the vegetables in the dish before sauteing them together.

This is a simple recipe that just requires a little time to cook to perfection. Don’t overcook the vegetables or they will be a mushy mess.

Use that overabundance of zucchini that you’re harvesting in your garden. Or find a nice specimen at your local farmers’ market or grocery store produce section. Slice the zucchini into about 1/4 inch thick rounds.

Local Virginia-grown zucchini squash from Lois' Produce at Whole Foods Markets (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Local Virginia-grown zucchini squash from Lois’ Produce at Whole Foods Markets (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Find some tasty ripe tomatoes. Core the tomatoes, and then dice them into cubes.

Tomatoes from my garden!  (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Tomatoes from my garden! (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Find a nice bell pepper. Pick whatever color you like, or use a mixture of colors. Remove the core and seeds from the pepper, and slice it thinly.

Whole Foods Market's colorful bell pepper selection (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Whole Foods Market’s colorful bell pepper selection (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Start with some olive oil and butter. Melt them together in a pan. Then peel and slice a small yellow onion and saute in the oil and butter until the onion is translucent. Add two minced garlic cloves and the thinly sliced bell pepper. Cook until the pepper has softened slightly. Add the diced fresh tomatoes and thinly sliced zucchini zucchini. Cook until the zucchini has slightly softened. Then add some dried basil and oregano, some dry white wine, and some vegetable stock. Let that simmer slowly for about 15 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated. Season with salt and pepper and serve!

You can certainly add eggplant, as I’d mentioned, and some sliced mushrooms. Yellow squash works well in this dish.

Summery Zucchini Tomato Pepper Ratatouille alongside Creamy Basil Arugula Pesto Tortellini (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Summery Zucchini Tomato Pepper Ratatouille alongside Creamy Basil Arugula Pesto Tortellini (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Super simple and flavorful, it’s a superb vegetable side dish to a serving of pasta!

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From the kitchen of A Food Lover’s Delight….

Zucchini Tomato Pepper Ratatouille

Ingredients:

1 T olive oil
1 T butter
1 small yellow onion, cut in half lengthwise, and then thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 red or green bell pepper, sliced into 1/4 inch thin matchsticks (or use half green and half red, or a different combination of pepper colors)
2 tomatoes, diced
1 zucchini, cut into 1/4 inch thin rounds
2 t dried basil
2 t dried oregano
1/2 c dry white wine
1/2 c vegetable stock
salt and pepper, to taste

Method:

1. Warm the olive oil, and melt the butter with it, over medium-low heat in a skillet.
2. Add the onion and saute until translucent.
3. Add the garlic and cook a few minutes.
4. Add the bell pepper and cook until the pepper has softened slightly.
5. Add the tomatoes and zucchini and cook until the zucchini has softened.
6. Add the basil, oregano, white wine, and vegetable stock. Simmer for about 10 minutes over medium-low heat until most of the liquid has evaporated yet the vegetables are not mushy.
7. Season with salt and pepper.
8. Serve!

Serves 4 as a side dish. Offer with a plate of The Best Spaghetti with Meat Sauce and a Caesar Salad. Another option is to serve alongside my Creamy Basil Arugula Pesto Tortellini.

Variations: Use whatever vegetables you have in your garden. Eggplant, mushrooms, and yellow squash are nice additions to this dish. Substitute thyme, parsley, tarragon or your favorite herbs for the basil and oregano. You can lighten this dish by omitting the oil and butter and using a non-stick skillet.

www.afoodloversdelight.com (Copyright Adroit Ideals 2014)

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Open Face Smoked Salmon Sandwich

On these hot summer days, I just don’t feel like cooking. An open face sandwich and a side salad usually make a great lunch or dinner. No stove required! My cool and refreshing Open Face Smoked Salmon Sandwich hits the spot on a hot day, and won’t heat up your kitchen. And it’s a great opportunity to use some fresh dill from your garden or your local farmer’s market!

Open Face Smoked Salmon Sandwiches served with a Tomato Arugula Salad with Tarragon Balsamic Dressing (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Open Face Smoked Salmon Sandwiches served with a Tomato Arugula Salad with Tarragon Balsamic Dressing (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

This sandwich is so easy and elegant that your dinner guests will think you’ve slaved all day in the kitchen. And along the “elegant” theme, I like to use creme fraiche to lighten up an otherwise heavy cream cheese spread. You can find creme fraiche at your local grocery store, usually in the dairy section, and sometimes in the specialty cheese section.

Creme Fraiche is a French-style cultured cream (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Creme Fraiche is a French-style cultured cream (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Softened cream cheese and creme fraiche are whisked together with freshly squeezed lemon juice, finely chopped fresh dill and minced shallots. The cream cheese mixture is slathered over thick slices of soft pumpernickel bread. Whole Foods Market carries a large round loaf of pumpernickel in the bakery section. If you don’t see any fresh pumpernickel loaves, be sure to ask at the bakery counter. They’re spectacular. You could also use a thinner sliced and more dense version of pumpernickel bread with a similar result.

Spread the herbed cream cheese mixture on the pumpernickel slices (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Spread the herbed cream cheese mixture on the pumpernickel slices (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

And finally, the crowing glory: Smoked salmon slices. Layer some smoked salmon slices over the herbed cream cheese mixture. Top with a few sprigs of fresh dill and a few minced shallots.

Layer the smoked salmon slices over the herbed cream cheese (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Layer the smoked salmon slices over the herbed cream cheese (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Serve these open face sandwiches alongside a ripe tomato, arugula, and tarragon salad with my Tarragon Balsamic Dressing.

No-Cook Meal of Smoked Salmon over Herbed Cream Cheese on Pumpernickel with a Tomato Salad (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

No-Cook Meal of Smoked Salmon over Herbed Cream Cheese on Pumpernickel with a Tomato Salad (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

It’s a no-cook summer lunch or dinner! Enjoy!

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From the kitchen of A Food Lover’s Delight….

Open Face Smoked Salmon Sandwich

Ingredients:

6 oz cream cheese, softened, cut into 1 inch cubes
1/2 c creme fraiche
2 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 T finely chopped fresh dill
1/4 c minced shallot, 1 T reserved for garnish
salt and pepper, to taste
4 large slices pumpernickel bread, sliced 1 inch thick
8 oz smoked wild salmon
fresh dill sprigs

Method:

1. Whisk together the softened cream cheese and creme fraiche.
2. Stir in the lemon juice, chopped fresh dill, and most of the minced shallot.
3. Season the cream cheese mixture with salt and pepper. The mixture should be creamy but not stiff or runny.
4. Divide the cream cheese mixture amongst the four slices of pumpernickel bread. Spread the cream cheese mixture evenly over the bread slices.
5. Divide the smoked salmon amongst the four slices of bread.
6. Garnish the smoked salmon sandwiches with the dill sprigs and a sprinkling of minced shallot.
7. Serve!

Serves 4. Offer with a side salad of ripe tomatoes and peppery arugula with my Tarragon Balsamic Dressing. Assembled sandwiches can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours, unstacked, in a tightly sealed container.

Variations: Use fat free cream cheese. Substitute sour cream if you can’t find creme fraiche. Use parsley or tarragon instead of dill. Use your favorite bread instead of pumpernickel. And you can substitute thinly sliced ham, turkey, or other cold cut for the smoked salmon.

www.afoodloversdelight.com (Copyright Adroit Ideals 2014)

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Summer Picnic Menu

Summer is upon us. It’s time for weekend barbecues, block parties, and pool events. What about an old-fashioned summer picnic? Pack up a picnic basket for two or for twenty.

A picnic on the lake (Photo Credit: Flickr.com)

A picnic on the lake (Photo Credit: Flickr.com)

Be sure to take along a picnic blanket and some citronella spray or candles to keep the insects away from your feast.

Take a look at some scrumptious suggestions for my Summer Picnic Menu. Offer with my Simple Iced Tea, or take along a bottle of wine or champagne, and some chilled beer and sodas.

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From the kitchen of A Food Lover’s Delight….

Summer Picnic Menu

What’s a picnic without deviled eggs? Try my Deviled Eggs Mom-Style. These are the deviled eggs that I grew up on.

Deviled Eggs Mom-Style (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Deviled Eggs Mom-Style (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

And everyone loves My Favorite Guacamole. Make a large batch of guacamole and serve with tortilla chips or a veggie tray.

My favorite creamy Guacamole served with crispy Tortilla Chips (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

My favorite creamy Guacamole served with crispy Tortilla Chips (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

My Bleu Cheese Dressing makes a fabulous thick dip for garden vegetables.

Serve Bleu Cheese Dressing as a dip along with a plate of garden vegetables (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Serve Bleu Cheese Dressing as a dip along with a plate of garden vegetables (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Since it’s summer, there’s nothing more refreshing than a chilled soup. My Tomato Basil Soup takes advantage of summer tomatoes and fresh basil. Serve it chilled in a cup for sipping.

Sippable Tomato Basil Soup for a Party!  (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Sippable Tomato Basil Soup for a Party! (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

My healthy Colorful Chopped Salad is a great choice that travels well. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Colorful Chopped Salad with kale, tomatoes, roasted corn, carrots, celery, herbs, and more (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Colorful Chopped Salad with kale, tomatoes, roasted corn, carrots, celery, herbs, and more (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

The most popular recipe on A Food Lover’s Delight is my Dill Potato Salad with Greek Yogurt Dressing. Use fresh dill from your garden or the farmers’ market.

Dill Potato Salad with Greek Yogurt Dressing! (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Dill Potato Salad with Greek Yogurt Dressing! (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Another salad that travels well is my Citrus Shrimp Couscous Salad. Make this salad the night before so the flavors can meld and enhance. Serve chilled. You could make little individual salads in glass Mason jars for easy serving.

Chilled Citrus Shrimp Salad topped with Toasted Pine Nuts is a tasty summer dish  (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Chilled Citrus Shrimp Salad topped with Toasted Pine Nuts is a tasty summer dish (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Sockeye Salmon Burgers: Easy sandwiches that you can make ahead and serve chilled with lettuce and tomato.

Salmon burger served with lettuce, tomato, and mayo.  Onion rings on the side.  (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Salmon burger served with lettuce, tomato, and mayo. Onion rings on the side. (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Offer the chilled Sockeye Salmon Burgers with The Best Tartar Sauce or a garlic aioli or another of my Flavored Mayonnaises.

Flavored Mayonnaises - Honey Mustard, Roasted Red Pepper, and Truffle.  (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Flavored Mayonnaises – Honey Mustard, Roasted Red Pepper, and Truffle. (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

A quesadilla that’s far tastier the next day is my Smoked Pork Quesadilla with Green Chiles. Make several the day before and chill them. Offer some jarred chipotle salsa or my fresh Tomato Salsa for dipping.

Smoked Pork and Green Chile Quesadilla served with Chipotle Salsa (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Smoked Pork and Green Chile Quesadilla served with Chipotle Salsa (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Tomato Salsa (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Tomato Salsa (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

For dessert, try my fabulous Chocolate Chip Brownies! Use your favorite chocolate chips and feel free to double the amount. Slather with Nutella for extra decadence.

Chocolate Chip Brownies made more decadent by a slathering of Nutella (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Chocolate Chip Brownies made more decadent by a slathering of Nutella (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

And to drink — I like a Simple Iced Tea — Made with Sunshine! Use your favorite tea bags and drink it sweetened or unsweetened.

It's easy to make sun-brewed iced tea!  (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

It’s easy to make sun-brewed iced tea! (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Order a lovely picnic basket from Amazon.com with upscale service for four and a picnic blanket!

www.afoodloversdelight.com (Copyright Adroit Ideals 2014)

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