Weekly Main Course Recipes:  August 16, 2013

One:  Grilled Salmon with Tomato/Tarragon Sauce                            Time: 25 minutes
We lightly smoked the salmon, directions are below...  If you prefer, it can simply be grilled or roasted in the oven. The salt is scraped off before serving.

2 salmon fillets, 12oz (360gr) total weight  
2 tsp dill weed
1 tsp coarse salt
1 tsp olive oil
wood chips for smoking - apple is nice See Barbecue Grills for more info   optional

Rub salmon lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle with dill weed, then salt.  
Grilling without smoking:  Put salmon in a grill basket if using barbecue grill or use a mesh grill pan or grill mat.  Cook over indirect heat for 10 - 15 minutes depending on thickness.  You might need to cover the grill for 5 minutes or so. 
Oven:  Put on baking sheet and roast in 400F (200C) oven for 15 - 20 minutes, depending on thickness. 
Smoking:  Soak a small handful of wood chips in water for at least 15 minutes.
Charcoal: Put some charcoal in the barbecue, off to one side and light it.  When the coals are glowing, add the salmon, either in a basket or on a grill mat, to the other side - in other words, not over the coals.  Throw some wood chips on the coals and cover.  Cook for 10 - 15 minutes
Gas grill:   Only light one side of the grill.  Wrap the soaked wood chips loosely in foil.  Poke a few holes in the foil and place on the grill.  Keep the fish off of direct heat and the grill cover closed and vented or propped open an inch or so. Cook for 12 - 18 minutes.
To serve: Gently scrape off the excess salt using a table knife or fork.  Serve with Tomato Tarragon Sauce on the side.  Salmon should flake easily but not be dry; remove from heat when just barely done.

Tomato Tarragon Sauce

1 small - medium ripe tomato, chopped   about 1/2 cup
1 tbs fresh tarragon, snipped   substitute 2 tsp dried
1 tbs fresh parsley, snipped    substitute 2 tsp dried
2 tbs mayonnaise

Chop tomato.  Snip herbs: hold leaves in one hand and snip with a scissors.
Put into a small bowl and add mayonnaise.  Mix well and serve.

Two:   Grilled Turkey Pesto Rolls                         Preparation and cooking time:  35 minutes
  These are a bit fussy because each roll has to be tied separately, but they are well worth the extra time.  If doing for a larger group, assemble ahead. 

3 thin turkey cutlets, 10oz (300gr), mine were 9" by 5" by 1/8" (23cm by 13cm by 1/3cm)
3 tsp pesto sauce
3 thin slices prosciutto
6 large basil leaves
kitchen string

Lay the turkey cutlets flat.  Spread each cutlet with 1 tsp pesto sauce.  Top with 1 slice of Prosciutto and 2 basil leaves.  Starting from the short end, roll up.  Cut into thirds.  Tie each slice of roll with string to keep from unfurling as it cooks. Place the rolls in an oiled grill basket, cover securely and  cook over direct heat for 6 - 8 minutes per side.  Or your could use a grill pan or place directly on grill.  The basket just makes it easier.
When done, snip and remove string.  

Note:  If you can't get turkey cutlets, use 2 chicken breasts: cut almost through, starting on the 'straight' edge of the breast, giving you a pocket the shape of the breast with 1/2 inch of 'uncut' chicken around 3 sides. Fill the 'pocket with pesto, Prosciutto and basil, tie and grill.

Tomato, Avocado, Basil Sauce

1 small avocado
1 garden-ripe tomato
1 big bunch of basil
1 tbs pesto
1 tbs salad olive oil
1 tbs white balsamic vinegar

Roughly chop the tomato and avocado. Tear large basil leaves, leaving small leaves whole. Put into a bowl and add the vinegar, oil and pesto. Stir gently until combined.

Three:   Caprese Risotto with Ham                      Preparation and cooking time:  25 minutes
   The Condimenti in this risotto is added at the last minute and not heated through.  We want to keep both the mozzarella balls and the tomatoes intact, and the basil leaves crisp and green.

2/3 cup Arborio rice (or other rice specifically for risotto - Carnaroli or Vialone Nano)
1/2 cup (4oz, 120ml) dry, white wine
2 1/4 cups (18oz, 540ml) chicken stock
1 small onion
1 tbs butter
1/3 cup (1.5oz, 45gr) Parmesan cheese - freshly grated
10 cherry tomatoes
14 small balls fresh mozzarella
6oz (180gr) ham
handful fresh basil leaves

Heat chicken stock and keep hot over low heat.
Chop onion. In medium sauce pan heat butter; add onion and sauté until tender.  Add rice and sauté, stirring, for 2 - 3 minutes until rice has white center. Add white wine and stir.
Prepare Condimenti: Cut cherry tomatoes in half.  Cut ham into small pieces.  Tear large basil leaves. 
When wine is almost absorbed add a 1/3 cup of stock  and stir. (No need to stir constantly but do stir from time to time.) When stock is almost absorbed add another 1/3 cup and continue adding 1/3 cup at a time and stirring.
Before the last 1/3 cup is added taste a few kernels of rice. They should be just 'al dente' - slightly resistant to the tooth but fully cooked. If more stock is needed add it a tbs at a time and waiting until almost completely absorbed. At this point risotto will be thick but not stiff - there will still be visible liquid and it will not hold it's shape on a plate. 
Add the condimenti, Parmesan, pour into a bowl or risotto platter and serve immediately.
It will continue to absorb liquid and the leftovers (if any) will be quite stiff. The risottos that we have eaten in northern Italy have all been served in soup plates (flattish bowls) and eaten with a spoon - not a fork.

Four:  Simple Grilled Burgers                               Preparation and cooking time:    30 minutes
   I used beef but these would be equally good with ground turkey or chicken.  If using poultry I would use white wine.  The crumbs, wine, etc. add a bit of moistness and a whole lot of flavor!

12oz (360gr) ground beef ( mince)
2 tbs bread crumbs
1 tbs red wine  or stock
1 1/2 tbs ketchup
2 tsp Dijon-style mustard
1 tsp garlic powder

Put all ingredients into a large bowl and mix well.  Shape into 3 or 4 patties.  Oil hinged basket.  Place patties in basket and cook on barbecue grill over direct heat for 4 - 5 minutes per side. 
Or cook directly on barbecue grill. 
Or sauté in nonstick skillet for same amount of time. 
Remove and serve.

Five:  Grilled Chili Chops                                             Preparation and cooking time:  30 minutes
    In the U.S. I would normally do 2 boneless chops, here I usually do 3, thinner, bone-in chops.  It all depends on your appetite.  The marinade adds a zesty flavor to the pork and helps keep them tender as they cook.  Remember, slightly pink is okay, too done dries them out, and makes them rather tough.

2 - 3 pork chops, 12oz total (360gr) 
1 clove garlic minced or crushed
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp chili powder  or more
1/4 cup ketchup
1 tbs soy sauce
1 tbs olive oil

Mince garlic.  Mix garlic, oregano, chili powder, ketchup, soy sauce and oil.  Spoon over chops and let marinate for 10 - 20 minutes.  Cook on barbecue for 5 - 8 minutes per side or until done.  Should be slightly pink near bone when done - take a peak (techniques). 
Or fry in nonstick skillet over medium-high heat the same amount of time.  Baste both sides of chops with marinade once when turning.

Six:   Pasta with Grilled Chicken, Tapenade        Preparation, cooking time: 25 minutes
    By cooking the pasta and green beans together we save on cleanup and add a bit of flavor to the pasta. This is not really a salad but is served at room temperature to bring out the best of the flavors.

1 1/4 cup pasta, bite-size, penne, rigatoni
2 chicken breasts, boneless, skinless
Marinade for chicken
1 tbs red wine vinegar
1 tbs Worcestershire sauce
1 tbs olive oil
1 tsp oregano
The rest
6oz (180gr) green beans
8oz (240gr) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup (3oz, 90gr) cherry tomatoes
3 tbs basil leaves
1/4 cup (1oz, 30gr) shredded cheese
3 - 4 tbs tapenade, black or green  to taste    
1 tbs salad olive oil

Cook pasta according to package directions.  Note cooking time and add beans to water during last 4 minutes.
For chicken: Mix vinegar, Worcestershire, oil and oregano.  Pour over chicken and allow to marinate for 10 - 15 minutes.  Cook on barbecue grill or in a nonstick skillet, 12 - 15 minutes, turning once.
For the rest: Top and tail beans.  Cut into 1 inch (2.5cm) pieces.  Add to boiling pasta water during last 4 minutes of pasta cooking time.
Cut cherry tomatoes in half.  Tear basil leaves if large. Put tomatoes, chickpeas, tapenade and olive oil in large bowl, mix gently.
To finish: When pasta / beans are done, drain and rinse with cool water. Add to bowl and toss gently with tongs to combine. When chicken is done, remove, slice and add to pasta.  Sprinkle with basil leaves, cheese and serve.

Suggested menus:

One:  Baked Tomatoes Stuffed / Prosciutto and Basil
Grilled Salmon with Tarragon Tomato Sauce
Creamy Barley and Chard Gratin
  Zucchini (Courgette) Sundaes
Pesto Turkey Rolls
Grilled Potatoes Allioli
Green Beans Parmesan
Three:  Caprese Risotto
Peach and Berry Salad
Four:   Simple Grilled Burgers
Grilled Potatoes with White Balsamic Glaze
Sweet Corn
Five:  Grilled Chili Pork Chops
Basmati Rice Avocado Pilaf
Courgette (Zucchini) Patties
Six:  Pasta with Grilled Chicken and Tapenade

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