Category Archives: Salads

Fall Menu Ideas featuring Field Roast Stuffing

Fall has arrived in Seattle as though a curtain has dropped, ending the summer act and beginning the autumn intermission. The days are slow to start, and quick to end, with raindrops battering against windows as we all feverishly try to hold onto the glorious sunny days we’ve just left behind.

Seattle Skyline

Seattle in the Fall…what a beautiful place to be.

With this transition comes the inevitable shift in behavior. Days on the lake are replaced with afternoons spent reading on the couch, the soft snore of a puppy interrupting thoughts and inspiring a refill to a glass of wine or bowl of truffle popcorn. Evening BBQs and bonfires quickly turn into game nights, where a crackling fire provides the backdrop to the hoots and howls that come from confessions of Cards Against Humanity, or the poorly hummed tunes of Cranium.

Fall Menu Ideas

With a dinner this grand, appetizers can be modest.

Of course the blissful suppers of Capreses and Cava no longer seem quite right, but what replaces them is something while perhaps less glamorous, no less delicious. This Fall Sunday Supper, is relatively easy to put together and a perfect feast to begin or end your weekend. The Field Roast stuffing is the dark horse, making a table even sans Turkey a worthy destination.

What are your favorite Fall traditions?

Fall Menu Ideas: Roasted Acorn Squash with Nutmeg and Cinnamon

Fall Sunday Supper

  • Olives, Hummus topped with Chili Sauce, Crackers, and Cheese
  • Spinach Salad with Toasted Almonds, Blue Cheese, Dried Cranberries in a Anchovy Infused Balsamic Dressing
  • Roast Chicken
  • Field Roast Stuffing
  • Roasted Acorn Squash with Cinnamon and Nutmeg
  • Malarkey’s Best Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Field Roast Stuffing

Fall Menu Ideas: Field Roast Stuffing

With this hearty yet sophisticated Field Roast Stuffing you don’t even need a Roast Chicken or Turkey

  • 5 cups stale bread, cubed
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 4 Field Roast links, diced
  • 4 TB Butter
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 cup vegetable or chicken broth
  1. In a 400 degree oven, toast the cubed bread on a cookie sheet until golden brown about 5 – 8 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, saute the shallot and field roast in the butter until beginning to slightly brown, 5 – 8 minutes. Add seasonings and salt and pepper to taste.
  3. In a large bowl combine the bread with the shallot/field roast mix and stir well to combine.
  4. Slowly adding the broth a few tablespoons at a time, mix until slightly moistened. Pending on how stale your bread is this will take anywhere from 1/2 – 1 cup of broth.
  5. Add to a 9×9 glass baking dish and bake at 400 degrees until warmed through, about 20 minutes.

Fall Menu Ideas_RoastChickenFall Menu Ideas: Spinach Salad



Filed under Comfort Foods, Entertaining, Salads, Uncategorized, Vegetarian

True Confessions: Kale Salad with Caesar Dressing and New Potatoes

The conversation went something like this. In fact, it went exactly like this.

“BTW, apropos of nothing, deep down I find it hard to believe anyone actually likes kale. Kale sucks. At best it is edible. At worst it taste like kale. F*ck kale.”

So went the text message tirade from a friend of mine, furious at having received yet another bundle of kale in his CSA box. Up until last week I would have felt exactly the same way. Actually, I did feel the same way. Every time my CSA box would arrive there the kale would sit…staring at me in its infinite leafiness, daring me to try to think of something to do with it before, upon being neglected, it would wilt pitifully away until in a fit of rage and guilt I would toss it in the compost and vow…next time…next time…I’m going to use up everything in my CSA box…everything!

Look who came to visit this weekend! Deacon Dog, formerly known as Scuba Steve…an 11th hour rescue by Georgia Peaches who saved him from being put to sleep.

Not anymore though…for thanks to reading two of my favorite blogs, Katherine Martinelli and Natalie’s Daily Crave I came up with the ultimate hybrid…a delicious potato salad tossed with a Caesar inspired dressing, and bulked out with beautiful, dark leafy kale. Even the most avid of kale haters will like this salad, finding themselves deeply conflicted as they cherry pick out the kale, not to avoid it, but to get more than their fair share.

Admittedly, the kale is somewhat buoyed by serving as a Caesar dressing delivery system, but does provide an undeniably lovely contrast to the new potatoes, and thanks to its robust stature holds up beautifully until the next day, making it a perfect make-ahead salad for a dog days of summer picnic, or BBQ side.

What’s your least favorite vegetable you get in your CSA box?

Kale Salad with Caesar Dressing and New Potatoes
Inspired by Katherine Martinelli and Natalie’s Daily Crave

Kale Salad with Caesar Dressing and New Potatoes

I guarantee, even the most vehement kale haters will enjoy this.

8 cups new potatoes, washed, bad spots removed, and halved
2 egg yolks
1-2 anchovies
Juice of 1 lemon
2 garlic cloves, minced fine
1 tbs Dijon mustard
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup Parmesan grated + more for topping
Salt and Pepper
1 large bunch dinosaur kale, washed, and coarsely chopped

  1. In a large pot, cover the potatoes completely with water and add lid. Bring the potatoes to a boil, then reduce heat to a medium-low and cook until fork tender, about 5-7 minutes, pending on size. Do not overcook. As soon as they are done strain and rinse with cool water to prevent cooking.
  2. Meanwhile, in a blender combine the egg yolks, anchovies, lemon, garlic, and Dijon. Pulse until well-combined. Adding in a slow stream with blender running combine the oils until dressing is emulsified. Add in the Parmesan and pulse just until combined.
  3. Toss potatoes with the dressing, add in the kale, and season with salt and pepper. Delicious warm, chilled, or even the next day.


Filed under 15-Minute-Meals, Cheap Eats, Entertaining, Make ahead, Salads, Uncategorized, Vegetarian

Back to Reality: Arugula Salad with Grilled Shrimp, Pomegranate, and Goat Cheese

Thank you all for the birthday wishes. It was a grand day indeed complete with soaking up sunshine, ice cubes clinking against margarita filled glasses, and a seemingly never-ending stream of great friends, great food, and great fun.


The ever addictive Truffle Popcorn.

Fresh Spring Rolls, Sesame Noodle Boxes, and Goat Cheese Crostini.

Fresh Spring Rolls, Sesame Noodle Boxes, and Goat Cheese Crostini.

As an “adult” (whatever that means) I think I am supposed to have reached a state of general maturity and evolution so as to not feel disappointed when my birthday is over. But alas, between you and me, I’m not there yet. I love the anticipation and the excitement and the planning. And then I love the day…and then it is over, with simply a mysterious bruise or two and a full recycle bin as evidence.

Agave Margarita Bar

CJ’s Agave Margarita Bar.

Never one to pout and pity party for (too) long, I inevitably find myself back in the kitchen, slowly stirring, and chopping, and whisking the lurking gray clouds away.

This salad screams Summer! And Fun! And Self-Righteously-Healthy! It is literally impossible to be grumpy while eating this salad, as the spicy arugula is paired with the burst in your mouth pomegranate seeds, countered by the smooth taste of goat cheese, and punctuated with a bite of a pine nut. Make this when reality has returned, but you’re not quite willing to give into it yet.

GIVEAWAY WINNER: Many thanks to all who shared the Eggplant Carpacio recipe. Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and more were buzzing…but despite my wish that everyone win a bottle of Olive Oil, there could only be one winner. And that winner is…Bonnie K who shared via Twitter!

Arugula Salad with Grilled Shrimp, Pomegranate, Pine Nuts, and Goat Cheese
Serves 2

Arugula Salad topped with Grilled Shrimp, Pomegranate, Goat Cheese, and Pine Nuts

Arugula Salad topped with Grilled Shrimp, Pomegranate, Goat Cheese, and Pine Nuts

  • 12 jumbo shrimp, tail on, shell off, thawed
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil + 2 TB
  • 1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 5 cups baby arugula, loosely packed
  • 1/3 cup Pomegranate seeds (Trader Joes sells them ready to go if you like)
  • 1/4 cup Pine Nuts, toasted
  • 1/4 cup goat cheese, crumbled
  1. Preheat grill until 500 degrees
  2. In a small bowl combine the shrimp, 3 of the cloves of garlic, and 2 TB of olive oil. Let marinade at least 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, to make the dressing combine the remaining olive oil, garlic, balsamic, honey, and egg yolk. With a whisk or immersion blender, blend until well combined and slightly emulsified.
  4. Reduce grill to half heat, and cook until pink, approximately 2-3 minutes per side. Note: Most people over cook their shrimp…it takes hardly any time and you want then to stay juicy.
  5. To serve, plate the arugula, pomegranate seeds, pine nuts, and goat cheese. Top with shrimp and drizzle with dressing.

Plating the Salad…so pretty.


Filed under 15-Minute-Meals, Giveaways, Health Conscious, Salads, Seafood, Uncategorized

Patio Parties & Summer Sleepovers: Arugula and Pear Salad with White Truffle Vinaigrette

Do you remember the last time you really laughed? Not the everyday laugh you give the barista and her joke about the rain, but the kind that begins in your belly and ends with tears in your eyes and sore sides from mirth. The kind that makes you feel like a child again, like all is right with the world, like you can do anything.

This past weekend my Wine Book Club took our annual trip to Walla Walla where we enjoyed days of delicious tastings, nights of ridiculous dancing, and slow to start mornings shared over coffee and Pringles. Amidst the sultry readings of wine tasting notes (“What do you mean you can’t taste the leather and wet rocks?!”) and epic meals, we all became kids again, if only for a moment.

A brief moment of calm on the bikes.

Perhaps no moment of the trip felt more carefree than our Saturday evening tandem biking adventure to the Safeway, to get mixers for our cocktails, our palettes tired of wine, albeit briefly. The heat of the day was waning, and buoyed by the freedom of our weekend escape, we tied up our sundresses, and loaded ourselves onto the rickety, double-bikes. We shouted and shrieked (okay, mostly that was me), Nadia the personal trainer called out instructions, and the locals looked at us for the fools that we were. Careening around corners and filled with a mix of fear and joy, I found myself laughing harder than I have in months.

My new favorite breakfast spot in Walla Walla. Try the Migas or the Benedict.

Of course, no trip to Walla Walla would be complete without ridiculously good meals. A new addition to the food scene there is a brilliant breakfast spot, aptly named Bacon & Eggs. Everything we had was exceptional, from the Migas to the Heirloom Tomato Benedict, set amongst a decor that is both witty and whimsical, finding a perfect balance of each.

The welcoming committee upon arriving home.

Dinner at T.Maccarones is a must, and while it’s hard to say what was the best, this salad was the only thing we ordered two of so perhaps it deserves the prize. The girl’s were adamant that I figure out how to recreate the addictively pleasing combination of the salty arugula, bitter frisee, juicy pear, and finger licking white truffle vinaigrette. The good news is that this is pretty damn close. The bad news is, you might never want to eat anything else ever again.

Arugula and Pear Salad with White Truffle Vinaigrette
Serves 4
Inspired by T.Maccarones in Walla Walla

Seriously so addicting and so good.

1 bag arugula, washed and dried
1 cup frissee, washed and dried
1 very ripe pear, cut julienne style
1/2 cup pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped
Hunk good parmesan
1 egg yolk
2 TB shallots, coarsely chopped
2 TB champagne vinegar
1/2 cup good quality olive oil
1/2 TB honey, or to taste
2 TB Truffle Oil, or to taste
Salt and Pepper

  1. Using an immersion blender or food processor, combine the shallot, vinegar, and egg yolk for about 10 seconds. Let sit for 5 minutes.
  2. Adding in a very slow stream, combine the olive oil, allowing the dressing to thicken and emulsify.
  3. Add the honey and truffle oil, using more or less pending on how “truffle-y” you like it to be. Add a shake salt and pepper.
  4. In a large bowl place the arugula, frissee, pear, and pecans. Toss well with the dressing, and finish with parmesan shavings.
  5. Prepare to become obsessed with this salad.


Filed under 15-Minute-Meals, Entertaining, Salads, Uncategorized, Vegetarian

New Potatoes in a Mustard Vinaigrette and Free Tickets to Best Of Seattle Party

Well, it’s back to reality for me. Back to high heels and pencil skirts, meetings, and a never-ending inbox. But it’s also back to very fun things like whipping up meals in my own kitchen, summer in Seattle, afternoons spent on the lake, and my puppies, of course.

Ms. Lou…and yes….we’re keeping her.

Having arrived back in Seattle on Sunday, and preparing for the reality that awaited (flip-flops and bathing suits no longer being acceptable attire, a seemingly absurd requirement by The Man that I brush my hair before leaving the house, and a general disapproval for drinking Gin & Tonics with my lunch), I of course took the obvious path which was to procrastinate about everything I should be doing. Instead, I enjoyed fixing some delicious make-ahead meals to get us set for the week, and in front of our CSA veggie supply.

These tossed new potatoes with a mustard dressing and fresh snap peas were delicious served warm with a few deviled eggs on the side, and provided a lovely Monday lunch as well, tragically enjoyed at my desk, with nary a G&T in sight. There is a fair amount of lemon and mustard in the dressing, but don’t let that scare you. It results in a light, tangy taste, perfect for the summer heat.

Make this when reality is looming, but you aren’t quite yet willing to give up the ghost of summer days of wonder and indulgence.

GIVEAWAY: I’m excited to share that for those local readers, or those willing to get on a plane, train, or automobile Shut Up & Cook has gotten our hot little hands on two tickets to Seattle Weekly’s Best Of Seattle Party on Wednesday, August 1st at Pier 66, Elliot Hall.  This blow-out party showcases Seattle’s best food, drinks and entertainment on the waterfront with unlimited bites, craft cocktails, live music, and installation art.

HOW TO ENTER: Comment below by Friday, July 13th at Midnight PST with either A) the name and link of another favorite food blog or B) a recipe you’d like to see done on Shut Up & Cook. The winner will be randomly chosen on Saturday, and will be the lucky recipient of two tickets!

Summer New Potatoes in a Mustard Vinaigrette
Serves 4 – 6

Summer New Potatoes in a Mustard Vinaigrette

1 lb new potatoes, washed, and trimmed of any bad spots

1/2 cup Dijon mustard

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon capers, minced, plus 1 teaspoon of brine from the jar

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/3 cup canola oil

1 cup snap peas, quickly blanched

1/4 cup fresh dill, finely chopped

Salt and Pepper

  1.  In a large pot, cover the potatoes with water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook just 15 minutes. Drain and rinse with cool water to stop cooking. Pour into bowl.
  2. Meanwhile, to make the dressing, add remaining ingredients, except for the snap peas and dill, into a jar and shake until well blended.
  3. Pour about a third to half the dressing over the potatoes and toss to coat. You may add more or less pending on your preference. Note: Remaining dressing is delicious as a marinade or salad dressing.
  4. Toss with snap peas and fresh dill and serve warm or chilled.


Filed under 15-Minute-Meals, Cheap Eats, Health Conscious, Lactose Free, Make ahead, Salads, Seasonal Cooking, Uncategorized, Vegetarian

Ah, Nepotism: Blackened Chicken Caesar Salad Sandwiches

Could life get any better than this?

When I was young my father would sometimes bring me and my brother Ben with him to work. I don’t really remember why this was the case, as we were a massive pain in the ass (insisting on photocopying our hands and making the warehouse guys give us rides on the forklift…thank you Peggy and Mark for your unending patience), but he did.

As I got older and entered middle school the occasional trips into the office continued. Here my delightful behavior progressed to printing “Remember! Recycle! (Please)!” signs and posting them on all the trash cans, complete with a Microsoft Word generated smiley face. Again…thank you Peggy and Mark for your unending patience and for leaving the signs up so I could gleefully and triumphantly see them “working” on my next visit.

Into high school and college I would sometimes work there  in the summers, often bringing a friend, and finally providing some value (albeit minimal I’m sure) as I counted inventory, organized the “Literature Room” (a closet holding vendor collateral), and perkily answering the phone, “Good! Morning! This! Is! Capco! Energy! Supply! How! May! I! Help! You!” (I was very eager then….everything was said in a massively obnoxious and bubbly manner…though I’m not sure I’m much better now.) I am forced here, yet again, to say thank you Peggy and Mark for letting me race you to the phones only to urgently declare, “Mark! It’s for You!” Line One!”

Being the boss’s daughter definitely had its perks, including a 10a trip to Starbucks where I would order a giant Frappucino with Whip (remember the days when you could do that and still be oh-so-skinny?….damn prepubescent bodies) and a 1p trip to Papa Razzi for lunch. My father and I have a similar love of food and an eerily similar palette, so each time we would both order the Chicken Caesar Salad Sandwiches….extra dressing on the side, bien sur. Off we would go to pick them up…he would double park, having driven there with his giant knees and likely on the phone the whole time while barking orders at Bob Iacopucci (that’s really his last name….pronounced Yack-Oh-P00-Chee) or some other guy, he’d shove the corporate card into my hands, and in I would trot grabbing a handful of the weird mints they served and flipping my hair while proudly displaying my American Express Gold card that said Tim Malarkey on it and working on the story I would give if ever they questioned my identity…which very disappointingly they never did…since I had so many witty replies ready (none of which included the truth).

I hadn’t actually thought about these sandwiches for years until this afternoon when talking to my Dad. I’m not sure why I suddenly had such a craving, perhaps it was the unexpectedly nice day we had in Seattle, or just missing my Daddy, but suddenly I had to have ’em.

And oh man, were these good. They aren’t *quite* as good as Papa Razzi’s…but they were damn close. Make them on a lazy Sunday afternoon when you want something delicious, easy, and utterly satisfying.

Blackened Chicken Caesar Salad Sandwiches

Oh! So! Good!

Inspired by Papa Razzi in Burlington, MA

Serves 4

4 ciabatta buns

4 cloves garlic, minced in garlic press

Olive oil

Good Parmesan cheese, shaved with a vegetable peeler

lemon pepper seasoning

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts

Romaine, thinly chopped

Caesar Dressing, see below

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut the ciabatta in half and brush with olive oil. Evenly spread the minced garlic on the 8 halves. Toast about 10 minutes or until bread is slightly brown. Be careful not to burn the garlic.

    You're basically making giant croutons here, so don't hold back.

  2. Toss the chicken in a little olive oil and lemon pepper seasoning and grill until almost cooked through. Finish by turning up the heat slightly and blackening right at the end.
  3. Toss the romaine with enough dressing to generously coat and set aside.
  4. To assemble, slather (yes, you must) the tops and bottom with the dressing, layer on some dressed lettuce, Parmesan shavings, and the chicken.

    Assembling the goodness.

  5. Enjoy with a crisp Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay.

Caesar Dressing

2 egg yolks (coddled if you care about that kind of thing although generally not necessary if you get really good, fresh eggs)
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 TB garlic cloves (more or less pending on your affinity for garlic)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard
1/2 teaspoon anchovy paste or mashed anchovy
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Dash Tabasco® or other hot sauce
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3/4 cup good quality olive oil

In a food processor pulse all the ingredients, save the oil, for about 20 seconds or until well blended. Add the oil in a slow stream and blend until emulsified and creamy, about 30-40 seconds.


Filed under Lactose Free, Salads, Uncategorized

The Attainable Gourmet: Salmon Nicoise

Salmon Nicoise

My dear friend Madeline is a tremendous writer. Tremendous. She truly is one of the greats, and while the world perhaps hasn’t realized it yet, they will, and sooner rather than later I suspect. Mark my words.

(Madeline, when you became oh-so-rich and oh-so-famous you remember who gave you your first food blog shout out. That’s right.)

She lives in Brooklyn now (because where else do tremendous writers live) and is a total night owl which is dreamy for me when driving home from the barn because it means she’s one of the few East Coasters who will answer my calls. One night a few months ago we were talking and she indicated the slightest possibility that she might be able to come for a visit. Being the unrelenting honey badger that I am I immediately began a harassing campaign of emails, text messages, and phone calls to convince her that she must come visit. And it worked!

Madeline arrived with her infectious laugh and unbelievable stories (except they are totally true) for this past President’s weekend. What immediately commenced was four days of hooting and howling, dirty childish jokes, long walks on the beach, great meals, and the contagious dreaming of “what if”. We sat by the fire at my Aunt Jean and Uncle Ryan’s beach house in Cape Meares, warming our feet by the fire,  snuggling with a very happy Duke, and imagining “what if” we became famous writers and food bloggers….what if we traveled the world together…what if that good fortune that seems to strike others, struck us.

Duke never tires of chasing the ChuckIt

And so over lots of bubbly, and buoyed by each other, we made big plans.

In talking about Shut Up & Cook, Madeline was an unfailing supporter. On and on she went with things about my writing she’d liked, recipes she was “obsessed with” (Madeline tends to fall massively in and out of love with certain food types), and ways to build up traffic. At one moment she blurted out, “I know why I like reading your blog….you’re real. You’re not a chef. You’re not professionally trained. You’re not perfect. You’re the every woman. You’re the Attainable Gourmet.”

Oh So Happy Puppy Paw Prints in the Sand

This Salmon Nicoise is almost too good to be true, very healthy, beautiful to present, and pretty easy to make. It’s an Ina Garten staple and I wouldn’t change too much because it’s just so yum. Perfect served on a winter’s night, listening to the waves crash against the shore, and the dreams grow in our heads and hearts.

Roasted Salmon Nicoise Platter

Adapted from Ina Garten with just a few tweaks

Serves 12


4 lemons, zested and juiced (lemon juice from a bottle is just fine)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
4 garlic cloves, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 pounds skin-on fresh salmon fillets
3 pounds small red bliss potatoes
1 1/2 pounds haricots verts, stems removed
3 pounds ripe cherry tomatoes
12 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and cut in 1/2
1 bunch arugula
1/2 pound large green olives, pitted
1/2 pound artichoke hearts, quartered
1 can anchovies, optional

Vinaigrette: (I’ve doubled hers in below because it’s so good and I didn’t think it made enough)

1/2 cup champagne vinegar (red wine vinegar was fine)
2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1  cup good olive oil


Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.

For the marinade, whisk together the lemon juice, lemon zest, olive oil, mustard, garlic, 1 1/2 tablespoons salt and 1/2 tablespoon pepper in a small bowl and set aside.

Place the salmon on a sheet pan that has been covered in aluminum foil, and drizzle the marinade over the salmon. Allow the salmon to sit for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the potatoes and 2 tablespoons salt in a large pot of water. Bring the water to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until the potatoes are barely tender when pierced with a knife. Drain the potatoes in a colander, then place the colander with the potatoes over the empty pot off the heat and cover with a clean, dry kitchen towel. Leave the potatoes to steam for 15 to 20 minutes, until tender but firm. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, slice them in thick slices and set aside.

Place the salmon in the oven and cook for 12 to 15 minutes, or until it is almost cooked through. Remove to a plate and allow it to rest for 15 minutes. Remove the skin and break into large pieces.

Blanch the haricots verts in a large pot of boiling salted water for 1 1/2 minutes only. Drain immediately and immerse in a bowl of ice water. Drain again and set aside.

For the vinaigrette, combine the vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper. Slowly whisk in the olive oil to make an emulsion. Set aside.

Arrange the salmon, potatoes, haricots verts, tomatoes, eggs, watercress, olives and anchovies, if used, on a large flat platter. Drizzle some vinaigrette over the fish and vegetables and serve the rest in a pitcher on the side.


Filed under Entertaining, Health Conscious, Lactose Free, Make ahead, Personal Work, Salads, Seafood, Uncategorized

Fit for a King: Summer Caprese Salad

You’ve probably noticed that things have been a little quiet at Shut Up & Cook this past month. But I have a good excuse…I’ve had royalty in town. And I’m not talking Will and Kate.

No…I’m talking about His Royal Highness…the Duke of Tacoma. Or just Duke for short.

His Royal Highness...the Duke of Tacoma

His Royal Highness...the Duke of Tacoma

Last September, we had to put our best friend Lucky the Dog down. He left a hole in our lives that Matt and I did our best to ignore with over-rationalizing and good ‘ol fashioned New England denial, but the truth was our little family was missing something. So this Spring we (okay I) started to make lists. “Pros and Cons of Getting a Puppy”. The cons list is long and easy…the pros list is longer and easier. Enter Mr. Duke. He was abandoned on the streets outside Tacoma, near death with parvo and severely stunted by rickets. Turned into the Tacoma Humane Society, they got him healthier and then given his breed (the ferocious Pit bull) gave him a short sentence to euthanasia unless someone adopted him. Enter, The Pit Stop, a terrific small rescue group that was started to be a voice and a safe haven for the very misunderstood, neglected and abused American Pit Bull dog breed.

Duke was a lucky one. He was picked up by a great rescue group and then placed in an amazing foster home that understands the breed and delivered to us a 4 1/2 month old dog that was already more trained than most people’s children.

The last month has been one of such fun and discovery. Onca is a brilliant older sister and I am an undeniably overly proud (read bragging and obnoxious) Mom. Duke has proven to be a sterling representation of the breed: friendly, smart, funny, inquisitive, utterly devoted, and goofy. We do have to deal with some people picking up their little dogs to walk by us at the park due to their ignorance, but it’s a small price to pay. I wouldn’t want a chihuahua anyway.

And such is my long-winded excuse of why I haven’t been cooking. I’ve been too busy gushing about Duke to anyone who will listen. But this sunny Fourth of July weekend I decided to get back into it. First step…the ultimate summer salad: Mozzarella, Basil, Tomato with Olive Oil and Balsamic. This is so easy it hardly requires a recipe, but it’s guaranteed to impress.

Serve it when you’ve got His Royal Highness in town…just don’t let him beg.

Summer Caprese Salad

Caprese Salad

Caprese Salad

Serves 4-6 as a side dish.  Extra yummy paired with grilled crostini and Prosecco.

2 vine-ripened tomatoes

8 oz fresh mozzarella

1 bundle fresh basil

2 TB Good Olive Oil (the best you can afford)

1 TB Balsamic

Coarse Salt and Pepper to taste

  1. Slice the tomatoes and set aside.
  2. Slice the mozzarella in circles and then cut in half so that they resemble half moons
  3. Thinly slice the basil.
  4. Alternating back and forth, put the tomatoes and mozzarella in a round on a plate.
  5. Sprinkle with the fine basil and then coarsely grate salt and pepper.
  6. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with balsamic.
  7. Allow to come to room temperature before serving so the flavors are really bright and fresh.


Filed under 15-Minute-Meals, Entertaining, Make ahead, Salads, Uncategorized, Vegetarian

Googling for Dinner: Shaved Fennel Salad with Criminis and Parmesan

Shaved Fennel Salad with Criminis and Parmesan

Shaved Fennel Salad with Criminis and Parmesan

There are many reasons to love the Internet:

  • Surfing for a puppy that I should definitely not get
  • Online shopping at for shoes I definitely don’t need
  • Reading the NYTimes about current events I absolutely ought to know more about

But without fail…another reason for loving the good ‘ol World Wide Web is that after a weekend of a tad too much partying (thinking dancing until 3a with my lovely friend and neighbor, Ila) and not enough productivity I’m able to look in my fridge, see that for dinner we’ve got an old fennel bulb, some crimini mushrooms, and a hunk of Parmesan and immediately be offered a plethora of dining ideas.

I ended up going with the Shaved Fennel Salad from the oh-so-lovely Orangette blog by Seattle’s Molly Wizenberg. If you don’t read her…you definitely should. Just don’t compare me to her…that would be too sad.

This salad is surprisingly good and a wonderful compliment to the other things I had in my fridge and cupboard; grilled chicken breast marinated in a coconut dressing and toasted quinoa.

Make it on a Monday night when you’re wishing you had a weekend to recover from your weekend.

Shaved Fennel Salad with Criminis and Parmesan
Adapted from Orangette
Serves two with just enough left over for lunch

1 medium fennel bulb
3 or 4 small crimini mushrooms
2-3 TB good-quality olive oil
2 tsp lemon juice
Coarse sea salt
A hunk of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
Freshly ground black pepper

  1. Prepare the fennel by chopping off its feathery fronds (I always feel sad throwing away such a beautiful part of the vegetable, but c’est la vie). Give it a rinse under cool water and dry completely. Carefully trim off any brown or tired spots, then thinly, thinly slice, preferably with a mandolin. Arrange on a large platter and top with olive oil.
  2. Wipe off the mushrooms with a damp paper towel and trim the bottom of the stems. Thinly, thinly slice (probably with a knife this time) and arrange on top of the fennel and top with the lemon juice.
  3. Coarsely grate the sea salt over and then coarsely grate the Parmesan. Top with cracked black pepper and enjoy!

1 Comment

Filed under Health Conscious, Salads, Vegetarian

Puerto Rico Primas: Mango Cucumber Salad

Jumping for joy in Culebra

“How do you all know each other again?”

“We’re COUSINS!!”

“Oh…huh. Really? Okay. Well, you ladies want a beer?”

So went many conversations during our week adventure in Puerto Rico. Perfectly normal to us that four cousins would fly across the country, pile into a pimped out Honda Accord with a decidedly loud muffler, and explore all over the island, turns out that’s not most folk’s M.O. But it is ours….and it was fun.

The last to arrive in San Juan, I was greeted curbside at midnight by three beauties hanging out of the car with the tunes blasting. From there we would spend a week sunning, laughing, dancing, snorkeling, kayaking, horseback riding, and naturally, eating.

They say that Puerto Rico isn’t know for its food, and I would be tempted to agree. There is an abundance of slightly tired, deep-fried “things” (sorry, can’t think of what else to call them), but the real culinary beauty of PR comes in the incredible fruits and vegetables that one can buy for next to nothing from little stands on the side of the road.

This Mang0-Cucumber salad was the perfect accompaniment to the Citrus Shrimp (recipe coming) and Pilaf we enjoyed our first night at the Culebra Beach Villas.* Exceedingly simple and fast to prepare, it is also very refreshing. We were out of avocados, but you could definitely toss some of that in as well. Serve when looking out at the ocean from your private villa, feet covered in sand, cheeks kissed with sun, and surrounded by the laughter and love of dear family.

Mango Cucumber Salad

Mango Cucumber Salad

Mango Cucumber Salad

2 large cucumbers, peeled and diced

2 large mangoes, peeled and diced

1 lime

Salt and Pepper

Mix the cucumbers and mangoes in a large bowl. Cut the lime in half and squeeze the juice over it. Add salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!

*For the record, these villas are outstanding. We stayed in 2B, and it literally was steps from the beach, with grand vistas out to the ocean and surrounding cliffs. Culebra itself is a small island approximately 17 miles off of Puerto Rico. Accessible via ferry it offers the perfect respite from the bustling, and at times overwhelming, San Juan. The people are lovely, the pace relaxed, and the beaches breath-taking.


Erina, Kate, Margaret, and Annie-Laurie


**All photos by my lovely cousin Annie Laurie Malarkey.**


Filed under Health Conscious, Month of Exploration, Salads, Uncategorized, Vegetarian