Cooking and Chef Recipes

Divas of Dish: Spring Greens with Strawberries, Toasted Almonds, and Farmstead Stilton

Divas strawberriesPhoto by Matt Stroshane

If you’re looking for a lovely salad for Easter brunch, this is it – a modern riff on that classic strawberry-spinach salad with overly sweet poppy seed dressing that we all grew up eating. This lively salad is the essence of springtime in Florida, a special treat we found at the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival.  

It’s super easy to toss together, and you can still find Florida strawberries in their glory. Or  take the day and head to the Epcot festival at Disney World, open daily through May 18, and try it at the Buttercup Cottage Outdoor Kitchen in the United Kingdom in World Showcase, one of 11 spots for a delicious bite set among millions of beautiful blooms. You’ll find everything from barbecue to tacos and sushi, each with a gorgeous garden showcasing something you can taste.

Show Us the Shakshuka

shakshuka

Eggs, those humble orbs of life-sustaining protein, omega 3s and just plain comfort, can hold their own during any mealtime. We couldn't help but swoon for this spicy tomato stew bejeweled with delicately poached eggs. 

Originating in Jerusalem, shakshuka is a popular dish devoured hungrily from marketplace food stalls. Our somewhat loose interpretation of this healthful, low-carb beauty positively bursts with flavor and flavanoids, coming together in a single, satisfying skillet. Serve as brunch with warm pita and pomegranate mimosas, or a quick and yummy supper with a chopped veggie salad. 

Show-off Shrimp and Penne

Divas of Dish

Diva shrimp and pasta

For some, March Madness might refer to college basketball – for the divas, it’s a time of year when we’re pulled in a dozen directions. And when there’s not even time to dash through the grocery’s express lane, here’s a quick one-dish dinner you toss together with staples every diva should have on hand. (A well-stocked pantry beats the drive-through any afternoon.) 

Stock up on dry pasta, canned tomatoes, olive oil and fresh garlic. Keep a stash of kalamata olives, feta cheese and decent bottle of white wine in the fridge. In a pinch you could forego the frozen shrimp, but they elevate this dish to star status. The only ingredient you need to grab fresh is parsley or basil, which easily grows in a back-porch pot.  

This is a breezy recipe to double if you need to cook for a crowd.  You may want to add a few tablespoons of your best-quality olive oil just before serving, or some extra feta cheese.

Divas of Dish Pucker Up to Kiss February Goodbye with Simple Lemon Curd

simple-lemon-curd copy

Pucker up, it’s Valentine’s Month. For the divas, February is a month for romance – not just one day, but all 28. 

And while we shared a hot chocolate with tequila for Valentine’s Day, this sweet ending hits the other end of the dessert spectrum with tart Florida lemons to wow your love’s taste buds (and cause a little pucker).    

This recipe comes from “Field to Feast, Recipes Celebrating Florida’s Farmers, Chefs, and Artisans,” shared by Central Florida farmer Dale Volkert from Lake Meadow Naturals. His farm-fresh eggs are the base for this simple lemon curd. You can add more sugar if you prefer a sweeter taste, but we like the tang. Use any leftover lemon curd the next day on your morning toast.

Sexy-Mexi Haute Chocolate with Tequila

Sexy Mexi

Originality is always a challenge for Valentine's Day. Those 24 hours to express our love, libido and a weakness for chocolate. No one could say no to Champagne and two dozen long stems, but kudos go to the guy (or gal) who can think outside the heart-shaped  box.

Consider a hot and sexy cocktail to wow the current love of your life. Mexican hot chocolate, spiked with cayenne, cinnamon and tequila is sure to breathe fire into any Valentine's Day rendezvous. This steamy, adults-only version of haute cocoa creates the ultimate mini-picnic idea. Pack a thermos and take a dreamy stroll along the shoreline. Or cuddle up at home and let passions burn before a roaring fire. To amor!

Moroccan Harira from Divas of Dish

Divas Harira

It wouldn't be January without a healthy recipe to celebrate the new you in a new year. A trendy fusion of all things super-food, perhaps from an exotic place redolent with warm, earthy spices served up in a warm, earthen bowl. 

Crafted to feed the hungry souls after the day-long fasts of Ramadan, Harira is a satisfying Moroccan soup of colorful red lentils and chick peas. This flavorful, fiber-rich version, retro fitted to suit ingredients available here at home, comes together in about an hour. Its lemony, tomato broth is spiked with fresh cilantro and parsley, as well as vermicelli to add a bit of bulk. Ground cumin, golden turmeric, cinnamon and ginger lend complex flavors with a simple teaspoon or two, as well as life-affirming antioxidants. Pass with a basket of warmed wholegrain pita. 

Divas Get Mean, Green to Fight Fudge Pudge

Diva Smoothie

Post-holiday pudge is part of the New Year for the divas, but we’ve got a powerful weapon to fight back in a ladylike manner: our kitchen blender. 

Don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried sipping a meal instead of using a fork or spoon. A blender packs a mighty punch when it’s full of vitamins, minerals and live enzymes from fresh fruits and veggies. Each day we substitute a meal on a plate, usually breakfast or lunch, with a meal in a glass and feel surprisingly satisfied (and a tad slimmer).

And don’t let the green scare you – this drink packs a punch with kale, but the apple, orange and lemon juice give it a sweet sparkle. 

Here’s an easy start to 2014. 

Creamy Dreamy Broccoli Crowns

broccoli mustard sauce2 copy

We could go and on and on about holiday side dishes. How they accessorize and complement a big juicy bird, or succulent, smoky ham, provide the excitement and wonder of presenting something deliciously unexpected – or dress an old holiday fave in some new and fabulous way. 

This easy dish calls for super food broccoli, lightly steamed to retain a bit of crunch and glorious green hue, then anointed with a reduction of heavy cream and Dijon mustard. Just two everyday ingredients turn your thoughts on broccoli upside-down. We’re topping it off with caramelized garlic and a squeeze of Meyer lemon. Serve it up on a large platter with room for several second helpings: a new buffet beauty queen has been crowned.

Peanut Butter Cups from the Divas of Dish

Divas Peanut butter cups

‘Tis the season of sugar and spice, and the divas, who behave most of the year, can’t resist making (and tasting) sweets for holiday gift giving. However, that doesn’t mean the oven needs to be turned on, or hours need to be spent creating delicate iced cookies. 

We prefer a little dark chocolate, and nothing marries better with chocolate than salty peanut butter. And these little beauties are just the right size for a bite or two – no over indulging unless you can’t eat just one. 

Happy holidays and best wishes for a happy, healthy 2014 from the divas!    

Heirloom Tomatoes and Bread Salad

Tomato salad

With the change of the seasons, Floridians get one of the best gifts from the garden: beautiful, juicy tomatoes with a taste of sunshine in each delicious bite. 

If anyone tells you that good tomatoes don’t grow in Florida, prove them wrong with this easy salad that the divas make weekly in the winter after we visit Swank Specialty Produce at the Palm Beach Greenmarket. Swank heirloom tomatoes are grown hydroponically, a rainbow of beautiful colors with tender skin and a rich burst of flavor and a touch of sweetness.  

Just say no to anything but Florida-grown for the winter months.