Complementary Colors, Complementary Tastes

With an artist for a mom, we tend to think that the aesthetic presentation is equally as important as the taste. She always taught us that when red and green or purple and yellow or blue and orange are paired together in a work of art, the contrast intensifies the presentation. Like complementary flavors, complementary colors excite a dish.

So here’s a Mothers Day recipe that will impress Mom no both sight and taste levels. White fish is like a blank canvas. It’s delicious but has no range of color. To add dimension to a swordfish dish, we added slivered red onions  (purple) served atop a base of sweet spaghetti squash (yellow). The resulting dinner was both visually enticing and delicious!

Baked Swordfish with Red Onion and Caper Relish over Sauteed Spaghetti Squash

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Who Doesn’t Love Fried, Melty Cheese?

Editor’s Note: Meet our new contributorS, Kara and Marni Powers of Twin Tastes. Born just two minutes apart, Kara and Marni love putting their own twists on classic dishes inspired by their family, travel and surroundings. They blog about recipes created from mixing and matching ingredients in their shared tiny kitchen in the North End of Boston, and we’re stoked to have them as Endless Simmer’s first tag-team bloggers.

Our best meals abroad take place in tiny tavernas, taperias, bistros, hole-in-the-walls, or any kind of no-frills eatery filled with non-English speaking diners where everyone appreciates one thing: good food. In Cyprus tavernas, many locals enjoy meze dinners where friendly waiters bring out plate after plate of traditional Mediterranean dishes. They often start with a thick slice of one of Cyprus’ featured cheeses, halloumi. If you have never tried halloumi, think of the best qualities of feta and mozzarella combined into one delectable cheese. Its mild, salty taste and firm texture makes it ideal for frying or grilling. The Cypriots often enjoy it served simply grilled, drizzled with honey or topped on salad or fruit. When heated, the outside gets nice and golden and the inside is smooth.

Our take on fried halloumi incorporates a citrusy caper vinaigrette. Once the cheese hit the pan, our apartment was filled with a nutty aroma. Who doesn’t love melted fried cheese?

Fried Halloumi Cheese with Lemon and Caper Vinaigrette

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I’ll Take that as a Condiment….

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Salsa! Like any good condiment — ketchup, mustard, soy sauce, sriracha, horseradish, kimchi, hot sauce, chutney, etc… — we’ve all got a jarred version in the cupboard that we turn to when needed to cover up a dish that would otherwise be a mistake. But a good condiment shouldn’t just enhance our food, it should also be good enough to stand alone.

Salsa, of course, just means sauce, and can come in many varieties. At their best, they’re straight-forward to make, but their beauty is in the abundance of fresh local ingredients available this time of year. Here are my four favorite recipes using the season’s great tomatoes, tomatillos, avocados, corn and more…

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Appetizers All Night

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My back hurts. Really hurts. I have no idea how chefs stand for that many hours in a row. I just finished my most recent catering gig. This was with 80P’s mom again. I conducted many, many brainstorming conversations (thanks: Maids, Romeo, El, WestCoast, BS, 80P…) but because I’m so used to Eating Down the Fridge (using up ingredients in my fridge/pantry and not shopping for new food) that I could only fathom working with items already in my possession, or ones I knew I could pick up while working at the farmers market.

Fortunately, I was recently in Philly for work and had some spare time before dinner (ate at Monk’s–mussels, fries and stout–with BroadAndPattison). I found this adorable nut shack: Nuts to You.

I’m not even kidding, I was in that place for 45 minutes browsing the 4 aisle store filled with nuts, dried fruits, grains and candies. I  walked out with, and I’m still not kidding, FIVE pounds of food, which I then had to drag around as I wasted more time checking out Banana Republic, Lacoste, Williams-Sonoma (don’t get me started on their uni-tasker inventory; they have 6 instruments alone to peel and chop garlic) and this weird all-natural soap and lotion place with the perkiest staff of all time. Soap that smells like pine nuts and lavender, no thanks.

I left Nuts To You with: dried dates (pound), dried figs (pound), quinoa (pound), mixed bag of almonds, cashews, peanuts, hazelnuts and walnuts (pound) and cashew butter (pound). Yes, not peanut butter, but cashew butter. And I saw them make it. There was this crazy looking glass machine with some peanut oil in it and the salesperson dumped a pound of cashews into the machine and then out oozed cashew butter. No salt, no preservatives, no corn syrup. Just nuts and oil. A-mazing.

Anyway, with that in the cupboard, here is what I proposed to 80P’s Mom:

  1. Dates and figs (either or both) stuffed with cheese (either ricotta, goat cheese or quark) and herbs. This can be served warm or room temp and can be stuck with a toothpick for serving
  2. Sweet potato disks with cashew butter and chili powder spread  ( Can spread the cashew butter on top of the chips or let people dip it)
  3. On a toothpick: cube of roasted winter squash, cube of feta, cube of squash
  4. Cucumber slice with Greek yogurt, lemon zest and quinoa
  5. Artichoke, olive and caper crostini
  6. Radish, cashew butter and broccoli (Or the broccoli can be cooked)

80P’s Mom selections after the jump.

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