This may seem like a weird topic, but it’s been on my mind all week. I recently learned that I have no idea what’s what when it comes to cooking with onion. In a recent conversation with a neighbor, she mentioned needing to run out for an onion because the red onion she had at home wasn’t right for what she was cooking. I said, “What are you making?” She said, “Soup.” I said, “Why not just use the red onion?” She said, “Well it’s soup; a red onion doesn’t work for soup.”
It doesn’t! I would have used the red onion without a second thought, but then I realized I’ve never really considered my choice of onion in all the years I’ve been cooking. If a recipe calls for onion, I just throw in whatever I have on hand; which is usually a red onion (because I think they are pretty) and sometimes yellow because, somehow, I am aware that a yellow onion is pretty multi-purpose. Truthfully, if I had scallions in, I’d toss those in there too.
I give no thought whatsoever to which kind of onion would be better for a dish. Well, my neighbor was indeed correct and she piqued my curiosity.
I did a quick google search for “what onions are best…” and wouldn’t you know; all sorts of results popped up. Here’s what I learned:
At the start of 2016, I committed to getting out more, saying yes to things I would normally say no to and trying new things. Things are going pretty well. I’ve started my first book club, I tried couples golf and, just Saturday night, Tony and I took the girls to a comedy show in Boston. I’m not going to lie; it was rainy, I was tired and a part of me didn’t feel like going. But I rallied and we all had a lot of laughs.
Taste Buds Kitchen-Cooking Class
I also just recently tried a cooking class at Taste Buds Kitchen in North Andover. It was a blast. When owner, Laurel Holmes, opened Taste Buds back in May 2016, I thought it might just be for kids. I also thought it was an independent business. Turns out, I was wrong on both counts. The North Andover location is one of several franchises from Montana to New York. The company is based in New York City and offers all types of classes, camps and parties for people of all ages.
The Adult BYOB cooking class drew in the fun group of women I joined. BYOB – enough said! There were many dates and menus options to choose from; Steakhouse, New York Pizza, Tasty Thai and Handmade Pasta are just a few of the foods we could learn to cook. We decided on Tapas Espanolas. I was excited about this choice because I love small plates and I’ve never tried my hand at Spanish cooking.
Upon arriving I was immediately taken with the open floor plan and vibrant green/orange color scheme. I adored the industrial chic ambiance inside the West Mill space on High St. I’m a huge fan of the brick, wood, stainless steel vibe.
My party occupied about half of the cooking stations. The remainder of the cooking class was full of other students ready to whisk, mix and roll right along with us. In the course of two, fun-filled hours we prepared three delicious tapas; Butternut Squash Empanadas, Patatas Bravas (diced potatoes with spicy sauce) and Albondingas (turkey meatballs). My favorite dish was the Patatas.
Before the night ended, we sat together to enjoy the fruits of our labor. Leftovers were nicely packaged for us to take home and we were each given the recipes for what we prepared in our cooking class.
It was a great night and I would be happy go back . In fact, Karla, Sue and Susan; how about a cooking class for our next GNO?
Before summer comes to an official close, I thought I’d share one of my favorite summer recipes. Typically prepared on the grill, I have brought this version inside to cook up on my new stir-fry pan, which I’m obsessed with by the way (thank you Mom).
With a few minor adaptations, this May to September swordfish recipe is something I’d be happy to whip up when the weather is cooler, but I’m still in the mood for something light and refreshing.
Summer, winter, spring or fall; this swordfish recipe with mango avocado salsa is super easy and really tasty. Guests love it and it always makes a great impression when served.
When I’ve prepared this on the grill, I marinate the fish in oil, lime, juice, salt, pepper and even a splash of tequila. However, in the stir-fry pan I prefer to keep the fish dry so it can brown nicely – so just salt and pepper for today’s version.
1 pound swordfish, cut into cubes
Salt and pepper to taste
1 large avocado, cubed
1/2 cup red onion, diced
1 1/2 cup mango (in summer I use fresh, but this time I used precut, frozen and it was delish)
¼ cup chopped Italian parsley (original recipe calls for cilantro – I had parsley in)
Juice of 1 lime, more if you like
Salt and pepper to taste
A dash of red pepper flake for a kick
First prepare the salsa by combining the avocado, mango, onion, parsley, lime, salt, pepper and pepper flake in a bowl. Mix gently so not to break the mango or avocado. The frozen mango held up so beautifully, I may actually prefer it.
Heat stir-fry pan on stove top and lightly oil. Sprinkle swordfish with salt and pepper and toss in the pan. It cooks through and browns so quickly, you’re done before you know it!
Serve over a bed of rice and you’ve got an amazing meal for every season.
I hope you enjoy this swordfish recipe with yummy avocado mango salsa!
Lately, I find myself telling the story of how this blog got its name. I haven’t always been a martini drinker. There was that one time in my early twenties when I first experienced the thrill of a good martini. I enjoyed the taste so much, I somehow managed to drink five in one night (such an amateur). This little feat earned me the nickname of “Martina” for at least a year. My overindulgence also managed to turn me off from the sophisticated cocktail for twenty-five years.
I slowly reintroduced martinis to my repertoire about three years ago. As I slowed down, I began favoring the slow sip that a perfect martini encourages. I also enjoyed the soothing state of mind it delivered – I find myself very relaxed at the first sip of a good martini. I don’t really need more than one, but I often have two. Depending on the type I order, they can satisfy a sweet or savory craving.
While Cosmopolitans and Appletinis are nice, they are a rare choice for my palate. I most often gravitate to a classic martini. Upon ordering, typical questions follow:
Gin or Vodka? Vodka please!
Shaken or stirred? Shaken and very, very cold.
Olives or a twist? And here’s where I’d always pause.
Can’t I have both? I love olives, but I also love the crisp, freshness of lemon. And so my order became – a Grey Goose martini with three olives and a twist of lemon – emphasis on the “and.” I’d often get quizzical looks from the server followed by, “You want both olives AND lemon?” “Yup, that’s right – oh and can you be sure it’s 3 olives – I just like it that way.”
While this became my standard order, it was not until Mike Moffet, of North Andover Country Club, made my signature drink, did I know this should be my blog name. How he does his perfect 3 olives and a twist martini differently, I do not know for sure. But, I always know when Mike has made my cocktail it is smoother, colder and crisp with just the hint of lemon that I like.
My blog was intended to be a place where I write about things that I like and make me happy. That’s exactly how I’d describe Mike’s Magnificent Martini.
There you have it – a 3 Olives and a Twist Martini. I hope you enjoy it here as much as I do in a glass.
What’s your favorite martini and who makes it best? Share in the comments below!
When I search for a recipe online, it drives me nuts when it’s hidden among paragraphs of narrative. With that in mind, I’ll keep this intro short. I’m often asked for my stuffed grape leaves recipe or, as my family calls them in Greek, dolmades. I find them easy to make and they are gluten, dairy and egg free. Over the years, I’ve made a few adjustments to the original recipe to make life easier and a little healthier. Traditionally served with an egg lemon sauce, avgolemno, I’ve eliminated that in favor of lots of fresh lemon juice.
Stuffed Grape Leaves Recipe
1 jar grape leaves (I use Peloponnese). Blanch to tenderize and reduce bitterness.
1lb ground beef, lamb, turkey or any combination of the three (I use turkey for “light days.”)
1/2 cup white or brown rice, uncooked
1 large onion, chopped (yellow, red or whatever you have in)
½ cup fresh parsley plus ½ cup fresh mint, chopped (original recipe called for less, but I like more.)
2 tsp salt
Pepper to taste
Lemon pepper seasoning to taste (I’ve added this and like the extra punch it offers)
2-3 fresh lemons (I like lots of lemon)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees (original recipe cooks the stuffed leaves on the stovetop using plates to prevent the leaves from floating– I prefer oven baking). Gently remove grape leaves from jar. They are tightly packed, but take care not to tear them. Boil for 5-10 minutes, then rinse under cold water. Set aside until ready to stuff.
In a bowl, mix the ground meat, onion, rice and chopped mint/parsley mixture. Add salt and pepper.
Lay out grape leaves and be sure to cut off stems. Add about 1-2 teaspoon of the meat mixture to each. Do not over stuff or the leaves will break. Use any broken leaves to patch tears. Like a burrito, fold up from the bottom then in from each side and roll tightly. Place rolled leaves in 9 x 13 baking dish or roasting pan, as shown, for a double batch.
Add water to about half to three quarters the height of the grape leaves. Salt the water and add the juice of 1-2 lemons. Leave the rinds in the pan to infuse even more lemon flavor. Cover with foil.
Bake for 30-40 minutes.
When done, drain water and immediately drizzle with olive oil and more lemon juice. The hot grape leaves will absorb the added lemon. Add salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle with lemon pepper seasoning. Serve hot or cold – yummy either way. If you’re not devouring these immediately, I like to add more oil, lemon juice and seasoning again just before serving.
I hope you enjoy this stuffed grape leaves recipe!