May – Puff Pastry Pizza

May – Puff Pastry Pizza

I have been wanting to make this for weeks but it kept getting pushed to the back of the menu.

Imagine it…crisp puff pastry that flakes and crackles when you bite in, creamy melty cheese, and some interesting additions. It’s like a pizza croissant. Oh my! This was amazing. It’s perfect for a summer snack out on the deck or patio with friends, I’d add a glass of rose or white wine to round out the celebration. Cut it into small strips or slabs, larger ones for a whole meal. Use whatever ingredients you have on hand. In my book almost anything is possible and allowable on a pizza. It’s the perfect food.

Puff Pastry Pizza with Caramelized Onions and Sliced Zucchini Flowers and Blue Cheese

Puff Pastry Pizza with Caramelized Onions, Chives and Blue Cheese

Puff Pastry Pizza with Mozzarella, Cherry Tomatoes, Basil and Balsamic Drizzle

Puff Pastry Pizza with Mozzarella, Cherry Tomatoes, Sliced Zucchini Flowers, Basil and Balsamic Drizzle

I don’t have an actual recipe, fly by the seat of your pants and your own families preferences. You will need a frozen package of puff pastry. Defrost it in the fridge for a few hours or on the counter for 40 minutes.

While your oven is preheating to 410 degrees F, unfold the pastry (there will be 2 sheets) onto separate parchment lined baking sheets. Crimp the folds together if necessary, then use a small sharp knife to make a shallow cut about 1/2 an inch from each edge. Try not to cut all the way through to the bottom.

Once your oven has reached full temperature, bake the unfilled pastry sheets for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and add your desired filling. I recommend you not make it too runny, you want the bottom crust under the filling to remain crisp.

Here are a couple of ideas:

  1. Spread caramelized onions in the center on one sheet, top with thinly sliced fresh chives and blue cheese crumbles. Garnish with chives, add a few chive flowers before serving.
  2. Thinly slice fresh mozzarella to the center, add halved cherry tomatoes, thinly sliced zucchini flowers and basil. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar before serving.

Once you have added your topping, bake for an additional 10-12 minutes until hot, melted and browned.

This is fancy stuff without fancy time on your part.

Serve it for lunch or dinner with a green salad. To me this is perfect alfresco dining.

Puff Pastry Pizza with Mozzarella, Cherry Tomatoes, Basil and Balsamic Drizzle

Puff Pastry Pizza with Mozzarella, Sliced Zucchini Flowers, Cherry Tomatoes, Basil and Balsamic Drizzle

 

Puff Pastry Pizza with Caramelized Onions, Chives and Blue Cheese

Puff Pastry Pizza with Caramelized Onions, Chives and Blue Cheese

 

May – Slow Baked Salmon with Charred Broccoli Pesto

May – Slow Baked Salmon with Charred Broccoli Pesto

I must admit that I have been reluctant to try all the various forms and recipes for pesto out there that aren’t ‘traditional’. I have a great love for pesto made with fresh from the garden basil. But, on the www you can find pesto made from almost anything. The greens include basil, mint, spinach, cilantro, seaweed, arugula, chard, kale and Italian parsley. The nuts can include pine nuts, pecans, walnuts, pumpkin seeds and almonds. Whew! The term pesto has stretched to include almost any green and nut whirled to a chunky paste with olive oil (although even that is not used exclusively).

But now is a different time, we are all pushed to use ingredients and our pantry in ways that would have been unimaginable a few months ago. During the past few months I have seen many creative and interesting recipes out there. Waste is not an option when you are trying to make your grocery shopping trip last as long as possible. A forgotten head of broccoli was looking a little sad in the back of the produce drawer. A few months ago I might have thrown it into the worm bin. Not now. The salmon from the back of the freezer also needed cooking. Combining the two together was a delicious surprise. This version of charred broccoli pesto doesn’t contain any nuts or basil. But it tastes delicious and you won’t miss them. The charring adds a lot of umami flavor and makes up for any lack of nuts or basil. There are only 4 ingredients; roast charred broccoli florets, garlic, parmesan and olive oil (plus salt). Whiz them all in your food processor for a few seconds and voila! It certainly perked up the salmon.

Slow Baked Salmon with Charred Broccoli Pesto

Slow Baked Salmon with Charred Broccoli Pesto

Charred Broccoli Pesto

Charred Broccoli Pesto

Charred Broccoli Pesto

Ingredients:

  • 4 large cloves of garlic, peeled but left whole
  • 1 large head of broccoli, florets broken into smaller pieces (save the bigger stems for another dish)
  • 1/2 to 1 cup of parmesan cheese, either grated or broken into chunks
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • salt to taste

Put any unused pesto into a small jar and top with olive oil. It will keep for at least a week.

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Cut and wash the broccoli into small florets, place them on the baking sheet and coat with the 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Reserve the stems, they are delicious when peeled tough skin and stir fried.
  4. Roast until the edges of the florets begin to crisp and brown, and the broccoli is tender. This will take about 30 minutes.
  5. In a food processor pulse the broccoli, parmesan, and garlic cloves. In a slow stream add the additional 1/4 cup of olive oil.
  6. Taste and add salt if necessary.
Charred Broccoli Pesto

Charred Broccoli Pesto

The miracle idea of slow roasting is that it is difficult to overcook the fish. The end result is velvety soft, moist and cooked all the way through. This method has become my preferred way of cooking salmon. Although the salmon had been in my freezer for a few months, you would have thought it was caught that morning.

This was a smaller piece of salmon, just right for 3. If you have a larger piece you will need to either increase the cooking time, or cut it into individual portions before cooking.

The slow cooked salmon was one of the methods reviewed in an exhaustive testing by Food 52 where they did a comparison of salmon cooked 12 ways.

It was one of their favorites.

Slow Roasted Salmon

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 lb salmon filet
  • 1/2 cup of charred broccoli pesto

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil
  3. Place the salmon, skin side down, on the baking sheet and coat with the pesto
  4. Bake for 30 minutes.
Slow Baked Salmon with Charred Broccoli Pesto

Slow Baked Salmon with Charred Broccoli Pesto

 

The inspiration for the charred broccoli pesto came from the blog The Modern Proper. They added basil but alas it was not to be had by me. I didn’t miss it and don’t think it is necessary.

 

Slow Baked Salmon with Charred Broccoli Pesto

Slow Baked Salmon with Charred Broccoli Pesto

Served with a stir fry of red Chinese cabbage, onion, and broccoli stems.

I am taking this dish to share with the folks at Fiesta Friday, this week it’s #329. I am a cohost along with Diann @ Of Goats and Greens

Make your way over to Angie’s, the host of Fiesta Friday, to read all the amazing posts about food and crafts. It’s a amazing variety of bloggers. And, thank you for visiting me. I would love to hear from you.

May – Pasta with Anchovies, Tomatoes, and Mint

Here is the good news…there is no reason to wait until July for this delicious simple pasta sauce. You can make it with sub-par tomatoes (cherry or hot house) before we enjoy tomatoes in their full summer glory, it will still be delicious. No mint? No problem. Use some basil or all parsley instead. Or use a tablespoon of pesto sauce. Don’t let a lack of ingredients stop you from making this recipe. All you need is a green salad to accompany it for a full satisfying meal.

It could also easily be a pantry meal with oil packed sun-dried tomatoes, canned anchovies, and a bit of pesto sauce. Voila! Instant dinner.

Pasta with Anchovies, Tomatoes, and Mint

Pasta with Anchovies, Tomatoes, and Mint

Ingredients:

  • 12 oil-packed anchovy fillets
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves, plus more for serving (preferably flat leaf Italian)
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh basil or mint leaves, plus more for serving
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped fresh plum tomatoes-chopped, or all cherry tomatoes halved or quartered
  • 12 oz pasta of any sort
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
Pasta with Anchovies, Tomatoes, and Mint

Pasta with Anchovies, Tomatoes, and Mint

Method:

  1. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil.
  2. While the water is coming to a boil, chop the anchovies, garlic, parsley, mint (or basil or more parsley), and red pepper flakes together on a cutting board.
  3. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat, cook the anchovy mixture until the garlic starts to turn golden, about 5 minutes.
  4. Stir the tomatoes into the skillet, cover, and cook until they are soft and release their liquid, stirring occasionally, 7-10 minutes. Uncover and cook for about 3 minutes longer to concentrate the juices slightly.
  5. While the sauce is cooking, add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until it is just al dente…maybe a minute or two less than the package suggests. Drain the pasta reserving 1 cup of the cooking water.
  6. Add the pasta, butter, and lemon zest to the skillet and toss to mix well. Stir in a little of the reserved pasta water if it seems dry. The pasta will absorb all that delicious sauce, become infused with flavor.
  7. Serve immediately, sprinkled with chopped parsley and mint and drizzled with olive oil. I added just a touch more lemon zest just before serving.
Mint

Mint – in a container so it doesn’t grow out of control

Recipe is from Dinner in French by Melissa Clark. She uses basil and parsley as herbs, I substituted mint since my basil is only 1/8 inch high at the moment. You could stir in a generous tablespoon of pesto in step 2.

Pasta with Anchovies, Tomatoes, and Mint

Pasta with Anchovies, Tomatoes, and Mint

I am taking this to Fiesta Friday #328 hosted by Angie and cohosted this week by Laurena @ Life Diet Health

Pasta with Anchovies, Tomatoes, and Mint

Pasta with Anchovies, Tomatoes, and Mint

May – Mustardy Chicken Thighs

May – Mustardy Chicken Thighs

For me?

This couldn’t be easier, faster or more delicious. Juicy mustardy flavored dark meat chicken with a crisp skin. Of course you could also do this with breasts as well if that is what you have. The secret is a simple paste you put both under the skin and over it. You can either cook this in the oven or on the BBQ.

Mustardy Chicken

Mustardy Chicken

In a small bowl combine:

  • 6 green onions – finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 large clove garlic – pressed
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 6 large chicken thighs – bone in/skin on and trimmed of excess fat
  • olive oil for oiling the BBQ grate if cooking that way

Method: 

  1. Whisk onion, mustard, lemon juice and garlic together in a medium bowl. Using hands, loosen chicken skin on each thigh, making sure to leave 1 side attached. Spoon about a teaspoon of the mustard mixture under the skin of each thigh covering the meat evenly as possible and dividing equally among thighs (use about half the mustard mixture). Fold skin flap over to enclose mixture.
  2. Sprinkle thighs with salt and pepper on both sides of the thighs. Spread remaining mixture atop the thighs, spreading evenly. (Chicken can also be prepared up to 6 hours in advance, and stored covered in the fridge.)
  3. Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat)  Brush grill rack generously with olive oil. Grill chicken until golden brown and cooked through, turning chicken occasionally and moving to cooler spot on grill if browning too quickly – about 40 minutes.
  4. Or, preheat your oven to 450 degrees F and line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Bake for about 30-40 minutes or until firm to the touch and the skin is browned.
  5. Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before serving.
Mustardy Chicken

Mustardy Chicken Thighs

I served these with spicy toasted potatoes and a green salad. The potatoes and chicken both cook at 450 degrees F so it was very convenient.

I am going to take a bunch of these over to Angie’s place to celebrate Fiesta Friday #327. Check out the posts from bloggers around the globe. You will find great recipes, craft ideas, and other tips. Please vote for your favorite 5.
In My Garden – May 2020

In My Garden – May 2020

May has to be the best and most beautiful Northern California gardening month. Everything is starting to bloom, there is color everywhere. It’s lovely to sit in the evening with a glass of wine and soak in the view of the back garden.

I find my mood changes depending on the weather and if the sun is shining. Blue skies bring optimism and quiet joy, grey ones bring lethargy and sadness. The exuberance of the spring garden ignores all those effervescent and shifting moods. The flowers bloom without knowledge of the crisis in the world. The bright colors make it seem aflame, a riot of orange poppies, tangerine geum, marmalade heuchera, and yellow lupines.

I can sit quietly, listening to the buzz of bees and the songs of sparrows. In the distance I hear the sounds of breaking surf on the beach. I let the peace of the garden wash over me, a private timeless world…no schedules, no appointments. The world is on pause and I sit in the middle, quiet and serene for the moment.

Exuberance

Exuberance of colors and textures

The bees are especially active in the pollinator garden. This is the second year and survival of the fittest is definitely taking place.

Pollinator Garden May 2019

Pollinator Meadow May 2019

Last year we had a lot more rain.

The bearded irises and Spanish lavender plants edging the driveway are in bloom.

Spanish lavender and Bearded Iris

Spanish lavender and Bearded Iris

In the vegetable garden I have planted summer squash, cucumbers, winter squash, basil and determinate tomatoes this month. My husband (and partner in any hardscaping project) helped construct supports to make mini hoop houses. The microclimate of the property has not been kind to tomatoes in the past and I hope, by warming the beds, I will have better luck.

Raised Bed Veggie Garden

Raised Bed Veggie Garden – May 2020

A peak under the plastic

A peak under the plastic – tomatoes, basil and summer squash

 

Last year’s pole beans are coming back, they are about an inch high. I will plant bush beans later this week in a newly prepared bed.

Ready for Bush Beans

Ready for Bush Beans

The snap peas and sweet pea flowers are finally taking off. It was a challenge to keep the sparrows from eating the new shoots. I finally unearthed some old netting from the depths of the garage and that has helped a lot.

Snap Peas and Sweet Pea Flowers

Snap Peas and Sweet Pea Flowers

I have company in the garden, if not helpers.

Quinn

Quinn – “Mom, I will just watch you working while I relax here in the sun”

 

Casey

Casey – “Sunny days are made for napping unless you see a squirrel.”

Be well everyone, be safe. And happy gardening.