Sunday, July 29, 2012

Skimboard Boy

I'm back from a two week beach vacation with no internet...and I survived.  I'm rested and took a ton of  pictures on our daily two hour hikes around the island.  Thought I would get more painting done, but the first week we shared the island with 20 family members.  The second week my husband and I enjoyed the quiet doing what we both love, hiking, beach, lovely dinners and sunsets.  This is an 8X8 oil on Gessobord.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Shrimp with Grits

Listening to the radio driving home from the shore this weekend someone mentioned Shrimp and Grits.  Well that was all it took to start my hankering.  Hate to admit it, but I can have an obsessive personality. As the week began, I started gathering my ingredients.  This is my low fat version of Shrimp and Grits. If you don't care for grits, polenta would also work.  By the way, it was everything I dreamed about - creamy goodness with the perfect heat.

Shrimp with Grits
1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tsp of olive oil
1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1 14 oz can of petit chopped tomatoes
3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup fat-free half and half
1 link spicy turkey sausage, casing removed
1 tablespoons of hot sauce (or to taste)
1/2 cup Grits - quick cooking
1 1/2 cups of salted water
1 tbs. of fresh chopped chives
Salt & Pepper to taste

Spray a non-stick pan with cooking spray, over medium heat sauté crumbled sausage until no longer pink, removed from pan.  Add 2 tsp. of olive oil, chopped onion, and chopped pepper, sauté for 10 minutes over low heat.  Move vegetables to one side of the pan and add shrimp and garlic.  Saute shrimp until just cooked (pink) over medium heat.  Remove shrimp and add tomatoes, wine, and hot sauce to vegetables.  Cook over medium heat until thickened - 3-4 minutes.  Add shrimp and sausage back to pan with vegetables, add fat-free half and half, and combine.  Grits:  In a micro-wave bowl, add 1/2 cups of water and salt.  Microwave covered for 3 minutes.  Stir and let sit for 2 minutes.  Serve shrimp and vegetables over grits garnish with chives.  Serves 4.

Adapted from Bobby Deen Lighten it Up

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Walking with Nonna

5X7 Oil on Gessobord.  This was painted from one of my favorite photographs from my trip to Italy.  Walking with Nonna was taken in Positano, Italy on the narrow road walking back to our hotel. As I walked behind this woman and child, I knew I would someday paint this picture. The roads are painted with striped walkways because cars fly by inches from pedestrians. The road was shaded by a wall that looked over the ocean. Loved Nonna's height and brightly colored orange housedress. 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Tuna Nicoise - My Go to Summer Entertaining Dinner

During the summer months, my style of entertaining is easy and laid back.  Choosing a menu that can be prepared ahead of time is the key.  Tuna Nicoise is just that type of one serving platter meal that can be served chilled or at room temp.  The ingredients are very simple, but elegant. The presentation is absolutely splendid.

This was a weeknight entertaining dinner that I prepared a few things the day before, picked up the tuna during my lunch hour day of, and finish prep after work.   If you have a garden, most of the vegetables and herbs can be fresh picked, and the traditional vinaigrette can be used on all the vegetables.  Since I’m a Sushi lover, I like to use fresh tuna steaks (Sushi Grade) seared at a high temperature in a cast iron skillet and then sliced ¼ inch.  

The platter I used is one of my Williams Sonoma favorites, it makes food look amazing and numerous dinners have been planned around using it.  Add a simple appetizer, crunchy bread, a green salad with shaved parmesan, and a store-bought dessert or fresh fruit and you’re done.   

So this is the plan:

Day before:  

  • Hunt and gather.  
  • Cook hardboiled eggs and chill
  • Boil beets, peel and chill
  • Make vinaigrette
Day of:
  • Buy fresh tuna steaks
  • Blanch string beans, shock in ice water, dress with vinaigrette
  • Cook potatoes, dress with vinaigrette, and chill.
  • Sear tuna steak and slice.
  • Assemble platter.

1 lemon – juiced
1 tbs. – Champagne Vinegar
8 tbs. – Olive Oil
1 tps. – Mustard – Grey Poupon
1 tsp. – fresh chives – finely chopped
1 tsp. – fresh basil – julienned
1 clove of garlic minced

Whisk all ingredients together in a bowl and chill overnight.  Re-whisk before using.    

Tuna Nicoise Platter
2 hardboiled eggs – quartered
1 large beet boiled, peeled, cut into 1 inch chunks
2 tomatoes – quartered
1 red onion – thinly sliced
1 jar or tin of good quality anchovies – rinsed and dried
Olives – Nicoise or Kalamata  - ½ cup
1 lb.  thin string beans
1 lb. baby new red-skinned potatoes
1 bunch of arugula
Salt & Pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Add beans and cook for 3-4 mins - they should have a crunch. Remove beans and place in a bowl of ice water, drain and toss with 1 tbs. Vinaigrette dressing and 1 tbs. of sliced red onions.   

Meanwhile add potatoes to the pot and simmer for 15-20 minutes; drain in colander and cover with a dish towel for 10 minutes.  Slice the potatoes while still hot and toss in a bowl with 2 tbs. of vinaigrette and chives and basil.  S&P to taste.  

Preheat a cast iron pan. Brush tuna liberally with olive oil and season well on both sides with salt & pepper. Cook in a very hot cast iron skillet for 1-3 minutes each side or until cooked to your liking. I like to have the outside charred, but the middle still very pink and rare (1.5 minutes) on each side.  

To assemble platter, arrange vegetables, anchovies, hardboiled eggs, olives in separate groups with the tuna in the middle.  Tuck in several bunches of arugula as a garnish.  Pour the rest of the vinaigrette over the platter and sprinkle with capers.  
Serves 4