Surf and Turf with refreshing Gin and Tonics

With a whole 5 more days off work, we settled in to our grilling mode in the courtyard at home.  The sunshine and warm weather has been a real treat, but to celebrate our enormous accomplishment of riding our bikes to Fulton Market for fresh fish and meat, we grilled some really amazing surf and turf.  With all this heat, gin and tonics are the way to go.  The shrimp and lobster were purchased from Isaacson’s, best spot for fresh fish in town folks, and our favorite butcher, Olympia Meats, hooked us up with the perfect New York strip steaks.  Getting the freshest meat is the hardest part of this meal, make sure it’s fresh and cook it the same day you buy it.
For the steak:
kosher salt
pepper
2 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2T Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper the steaks, then in a small sealable container shake to emulsify the Evoo and sauce.  Drizzle over seasoned steaks and let marinate for at least 30 minutes.  Blot the steak with paper towels to avoid flare ups on the grill.  Cook over direct high heat on you grill for 2 minutes per side and then let cook an additional 4-6 minutes over in direct heat until desired doness is achieved.  Tent with foil and allow steaks to rest before serving.
For the Shrimp:
Peel and devien shrimp leaving the tails on.  In a bowl toss the shrimp with a drizzle of Evoo and salt and pepper.  Skewer the shrimp on metal skewers.  Cook over direct heat for 2-3 minutes per side.  Meanwhile,  In a small bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup chopped capers, 1/8 cup Evoo, the juice and zest of 1 lemon, salt and pepper, and 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano.  Toss in the grilled shrimp to coat.  Serve hot.
For the Lobster
With kitchen shears, cut the top back shell of each tail down the middle, then skewer the tail from the under belly between the meat and shell.  Season with salt and pepper.  In a small dish melt 3 tablespoons butter, salt and pepper, 1 T lemon juice, and 1 T parsley- chopped.  Cook the tails cut side down for 7-8 minutes between the direct and indirect heat of the grill.  Then flip them over moving the tails closer to the direct heat.  Using tongs spread the cut sides apart and baste the butter sauce inside the tails liberally, cook an additional 2-3 minutes checking often until the meat is cooked through, opaque.  Serve with additional butter and remove skewer before eating!  Yum 🙂
Gin and Tonic
(makes 5 cocktails)
5 ounces Gin
5 limes, juiced
1 liter Tonic
ice to serve
Combine all ingredients in a large pitcher, leaving the lime rinds in the pitcher.  Fill  glasses with ice and pour the mixture in, place a lime half in glass to garnish.  Enjoy cold.
Now we are ready to enjoy some kayaking down the river… and see some fireworks! 
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LOVE eggs and toast

Happy 7 years to US at Urban Kitchen.  We started the day with some themed breakfast, and how sweet does that look?  With a simple heart shaped cookie cutter you can make anything “lovable”.  Simple eggs, toast and Farmer’s Market tomatoes with salty cheese= perfect way to start the special day.
Serving for TWO
Brush olive oil on both side of two pieces of bread ( we used a dark rye), using a heart shaped cookie cutter, remove and reserve the center.  Heat a non stick pan over medium heat and place the bread and heart centers in the pan, crack and egg in to the cut outs and cook for 2 minutes before flipping, cook an additional minute until desired egg doneness, we like over easy.  Then serve the toasts with sliced tomato and a salty hard cheese such as Pecorino, Parmesan etc.  Enjoy and feel the love!

Brunch at Simmone’s

Breakfast burger, perfectly cooked beef ( burgers are good here), fried egg on top intensifies the richness.  Ate the bacon separate from the burger…

Caramelized red onion, mozzarella and bacon omelet topped with avocado and served with hash browns- sounded perfect… unfortunately, it’s hard to find a good cooked omelet out- as you can see it’s a golden brown crust- yuck.  The onions were sauteed in a gallon of oil at best- not caramelized… and in a pool of grease you could see glistening fried hash browns.  The bacon was not crisp, rather a little on the rubbery side…. The toast- very good! 
Overall for Simone’s BRUNCH: The service,- fantastic, the outdoor patio- heavenly, but stick with drinks at and lunch/ dinner for this spot because brunch was heavy on the grease, low on the freshness and no good.

Spiced Chicken with Black-Eyed Peas and Rice

This is another classic ‘use everything you’ve got in your pantry/freezer/fridge’ recipe.  We had some chicken breasts in the freezer along with a bag of frozen black eyed peas, plus lots of brown rice in the panrty… this made a great start to a spicy “jerk” chicken inspired meal.  It’s got a nice kick, tons of flavors and fresh notes from the bright green garnishes… plus it is a very hearty meal in a bowl deal- which means it works great as a leftover packed lunch!  If you don’t have Old Bay ( like most people in the midwest that aren’t lucky enough to get fresh crab straight from the ocean…) you can make your own version.  We threw a bunch of suggested spices together based on what was on hand in the pantry- below is the estimated concoction of spices, add or remove the different hot ones to suite your taste buds. 

Ingredients (Makes 4 servings)

1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon homemade Old Bay seasoning
( 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes, dash cayenne, dash ground clove, dash nutmeg, 1/8 teaspoon garlic, 1/8 teaspoon thyme, 1/8 teaspoon oregano, 1/4 teaspoon dried mustard, 1/4 teaspoon celery seed, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper)
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
16 ounces skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1 cup chopped red onion
2 cloves minced garlic
1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice
1 teaspoon hot sauce
16 ounces black-eyed peas
1/2 cup sliced green onions
1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Directions

Preheat oven to 350º.

Heat 2 teaspoons of oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Combine paprika, seasoning, sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt; rub all over chicken. Add chicken to pan; cook 2 minutes on each side, then place pan in oven. Bake at 350º for 6 minutes or until chicken is done. Cover and keep warm.

Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; sauté 3 minutes. Stir in rice, 1/4 teaspoon salt, hot sauce, and black-eyed peas; cook 3 minutes or until thoroughly heated, stirring frequently. Spoon about 3/4 cup rice mixture into each of 4 bowls; top each serving with 1 chicken breast half. Sprinkle each serving with 1 tablespoon green onions and cilantro.

Quick Mini Chocolate Cheesecakes

Graham crackers are awesome- if you have these on hand you can make a variety of mini treats….  top them with strawberry preserves and sliced banana with a drizzle of chocolate for a “Banana Split” or spread with Almond butter, drizzle of melted chocolate and sliced bananas or spread some lemon curd on top with a dallop of whipped cream- imagine all the lovely variations of mini “pies”… Dessert in our house happens almost every night so being able to do quick, small portioned, and healthier versions is really important.  A new favorite grocery staple is ricotta cheese, not only is it creamy and yummy enough to eat with your grapes or spread on toast with a drizzle of honey… but it also make a great base for our mini “cheesecakes” and it has a host of health benefits:  it’s high in protein, calcium, and it’s is a great source of phosphorus (20%), zinc (10%) and selenium (26%) and a good source of Vitamin A, Riboflavin and Vitamin B1…  Plus it is rich in Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids ( Known to help prevent heart disease and cancer, and are healthy for the body)  Mix it in with some antioxidant rich dark chocolate, and top with with fresh berries all on a bed of whole grain graham cracker for a crust… and feel good that you are eating such a healthy treat!
(Makes 4 servings, or 8 Cheesecake Crackers)

1/4 cup dark chocolate chips, melted
1/2 cup low fat Ricotta Cheese
4 sheets of Graham Crackers, Honey Low Fat
1 small package of fresh raspberries

Directions

Combine melted chocolate and ricotta in a small bowl.

Spoon 2 tablespoons of the mixture on each graham cracker

Top with fresh raspberries

Quinoa with Pine Nuts and Parsley

Quinoa is an incredible grain ( well technically it’s a seed), there’s a theme this month!  Like our Amaranth grain from last week, quinoa is very high in protein- the complete kind ( meaning that it includes all nine essential amino acids) and is especially high in the amino acid lysine ( essential for tissue growth and repair)  Along with it’s protein power, quinoa is a very high in manganese an is a good source of magnesium, iron, copper and phosphorus, which can be very good for you if you suffer migraine headaches, diabetes and atherosclerosis. source

Grains keep really well so they make great pantry staples.  They can really add volume and nutrients to any meal in a pinch.  This weekend was SO busy that we didn’t even grocery shop, so it was time to get creative with stuff we already had- Extra pine nuts from the Homemade Pesto, parsley from the Shrimp Succotash, and green onions ( that were almost out the door!) and chicken broth from our Asian Noodle Bowl.   With quinoa on hand it was a cinch to toss this side dish together.  We served it steaming hot with broiler buttermilk ( always left over from Muffins!) marinated chicken breasts and a quick fennel salad. 
 

Ingredients (Makes 4 servings)
adapted from Ellie Krieger So Easy
2 cups Reduced Sodium Chicken Broth
1 cup quinoa
1/4 cup pine nuts, dry roasted
1 bunch of scallions, chopped
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2teaspoon pepper

Directions

Place broth and quinoa in a sauce pan, stir, bring to boil, reduce heat to simmer, cook covered for 15 minutes.

Heat a pan over medium high heat, add the pine nuts and roast till slightly golden brown, tossing often.  Set aside in a bowl.

Add oil to the same pan and warm up over medium heat, add scallions and cook for 1 minute, add garlic, stir and remove from heat.

Fluff cooked quinoa, then add scallion mixture, pine nuts, parsley and season with salt/ pepper to taste. 

Serve hot!