Thursday, May 29, 2014

Patio Weather

When I moved to Ohio, some friends told me that I had just missed "patio weather" and that I would not find anything better in this new state.  I nodded and smiled politely, all the while thinking how sitting on my patio sounded like a true bore.  Well, I don't think I've ever eaten my words (or thoughts) any faster than when patio weather did come around again.  It is now absolutely my favorite part of Ohio's spring and summers.  There's something so peaceful and satisfying about being outside on a beautiful patio eating good food, drinking cool drinks and enjoying the company of close friends.  The following recipes are inspired by good friends and fabulous patio weather.

Grilled Crostini with Dara's Hip Hoppin' Morockin' Carrot Dip  

My friend Dara Schwartz recently launched a line of all-natural dips made from local Ohio ingredients that are unbelievably flavorful and healthy.  My favorite is the Hip-Hoppin' Morockin' Carrot - Moroccan Carrot Dip.  It's spicy and exotic with a hint of raw honey.  Dara shared this appetizer recipe with me to enjoy the dip.  Try it tonight - you'll be blown away by the rocking' combo of flavors and textures.  

Hip Hoppin' Morockin' Carrot - Moroccan Carrot Dip
White cheddar cheese, in thin slices

Preheat your grill to medium high.  Thinly slice your baguette on a bias (diagonal).  Grill them to your desired level of crunch.  I like mine burned and crispy.  In the last 2 minutes of crisping, add a slice of cheese and let it melt a bit.  Remove from the heat and top with a spoonful of carrot dip.  Garnish with something green and enjoy.  

Check out Dara's site @

Grilled Salmon with Dijon Maple Hollandaise and Pistachios

I've been on a huge salmon kick lately.  I love the crispy skin and the rich flavor packed into this hearty, but light, pink fish.  I've been experimenting with some different flavor profiles and this is one of the winners.  The salmon is grilled simply but adorned with some delicious, well-balanced accoutrements.  

Salmon fillets, skin on
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper
1 Packet Hollandaise Sauce Mix
1 C. Milk
1/2 Stick of butter, melted
2 T. Dijon mustard
2 T. Maple syrup
Pistachios, roughly chopped

Preheat your well-cleaned grill to medium high.  Drizzle your salmon with olive oil and sprinkle with salt & pepper.  Let sit for 5 minutes at room temperature.  

In a small grill-safe saucepan, whisk together the Hollandaise mix, milk, butter, mustard and syrup.  Set the saucepan on the grill and stirring constantly, bring the mixture to a boil.  Move the saucepan to the corner of your grill, so it's not over the highest heat.  Keep and eye on it and stir frequently.  

Carefully place your salmon on the grill, skin side down.  If you're worried about it sticking, place a piece of aluminum foil on the rack and place the salmon on top.  Close the grill and let the salmon cook for about 5-6 minutes.  Don't touch it - you want the skin to be nice and browned.  When the skin is looking crispy, carefully flip it and brown the other side for another 4-5 minutes.  Technically, salmon is supposed to be cooked to an internal temperature of 145.  I take mine off a few minutes before this and cover it with foil because it will continue cooking for a short while once off the grill.  

To plate, spoon the Dijon Maple Hollandaise onto the plate in a swirl.  Add the grilled salmon on top and sprinkle with chopped pistachios.  

Happy Patio Weather!