Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Orange & Dill Vinaigrette w/ Tomatoes & Mozzarella

         Using April's featured ingredient, dill, this vinaigrette is perfect for any type of spring time salad.  Serve these marinated tomatoes over a bed of fresh baby spinach, al dente cooked penne pasta, or simply eat alone as a healthy snack choice.

        For mozzarella, I find that the individual sized cheese sticks are great for cutting bite-size circles.  However, you may decide to use fresh miniature mozzarella balls, or cut the block mozzarella in tiny squares.  If you arrange a plate of salad, as seen in the picture, you will notice the round pieces of mozzarella arranged in between the halved cherry tomatoes. 

        In the photograph's, there are two types of serving ideas.  One is the more traditional salad plate, and the second is in a medium sorbet cup.  This would also present nice in a regular size martini glass.

Click on "Read More" for Recipe.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

April's Featured Ingredient: Dill

         Dill, known as Anethum graveolens, is most often remembered as the flavor that brings those crunchy summer pickles to life!  The flavor of dill is often underestimated, and if used correctly, can bring a new dimension into the home cook's repertoire of herbs and spices.

        Dill is native to the Eastern regions of the Mediterranean, and parts of Russia.  Dill is named after the Old Norse term dilla; meaning to calm or soothe.  Historically, Old Norse is a North Germanic language that was used between 800 A.D. - 1300 A.D.  The Romans and Greeks viewed dill as a sign of luck and wealth, often believing it had the power to protect against witchcraft.  The use of dill could be seen hung over a doorway, or a child's cradle to protect them and keep evil spirits at bay.

        In cooking, dill can be used as an herb or a spice.  It's fern like leaves are often confused with that of fennel/anise leaves.  The infamous dill weed is a popular herb that can be added to enhance flavors similar to fennel and caraway.  As a spice, dill seed can be used, and has a similar flavor profile to that of the dill weed; this is the popular use of dill in Scandinavian and German cuisine.  Going beyond the traditional pickle, dill is often used to flavor cured Salmon, borscht, and other Eastern European soups.

Borscht w/ Sour Cream & Dill
         When using dill weed/seed in cooking, fresh is preferred over dried, as the oils can dissipate weakening the potent flavor of the original fresh weed.  When purchasing dill, look for even green coloration with feathery leaves.  There should be no yellow or brown leaves, and never be slimy.  Select leaves that are soft to the touch, and are securely fastened to the plant.  Fresh dill should have the appearance as if it was just picked from the garden.  Because dill is widely available in stores, one should not settle on quality upon selection.


         Incorporating dill into a regular diet can be an essential part of healthy living.  Dill weed is high in calcium, magnesium and iron.  It is also attributed to soothing upset stomachs and helping maintain a healthy digestive track.

Keep checking Smacznego: A Blog throughout the month of April for recipes containing Dill...


Saturday, April 9, 2011

New England Peak Seasons

This chart is sponsored by www.CT.gov's Grown in Connecticut campaign.  Though this list is specific to Connecticut, it is generally unchanged throughout New England and many other Northern American states.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Must Have Ingredient Substitution List

Have you ever been in the middle of baking your favorite cookies, only to discover, OOPS you ran out of baking powder!  Here is the “must have” list of substitutions for any kitchen.
Click On "Read More" Below For Substitution List

Monday, April 4, 2011

Mint Scented Lemonade with Honey & Sea Salt

A twist on a classic beverage, this lemonade is meant for breezy spring afternoons rather than the hot dog days of summer.  This drink is perfectly paired with Arugula Salad with Walnuts tossed in Raspberry White Balsamic Dressing.

The trick behind this lemonade is the addition of sea salt.  Adding salt to drinks allows maximum flavor potential, as our taste buds detect sweet, sour, bitter, AND salty.  Typical lemonade provides sweet, sour, and bitter, but without the addition of salt, lacks in providing full potential.  The use of Mint provides something called umami, which is detected by nerve endings in the tongue and mouth.  This is the same sensation that is provided when eating something that is described as texture, i.e. hot, spicy, velvety, thin, crunchy, smooth, gritty, wet, or dry.  All these mouth sensations are felt by the presence of umami.

Then to tie it all together, distilled water is used to preserve the fresh taste of the fresh squeezed citrus, as it flirts with the honey and sea salt.   ~ Smacznego! ~