Entries Tagged as 'Sides'

How To Grill Corn

4

03.7.13

Now that I live in the great oven that is called Phoenix, I no longer look forward to summer for its pleasurable weather.

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Turns out triple digit weather just plain sucks — even if it’s a “dry” heat. So instead of imagining myself poolside with a margarita, I patiently look forward to the edible bounty summer brings. Sweet seasonal treats like juicy berries, succulent watermelon and fresh corn on the cob are about the only things that I anticipate during this season I now loathe.

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While I can agree that there is nothing better than biting into the first juicy berry of the season, I still feel partial to popping the first kernel off a bright yellow cob. The starchy vegetable has a special place in my heart. Not only did I enjoy it often growing up, I lived amongst fields of it (although it was the kind we only consume eventually).

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Getting the best sweet corn of the season was a special summer ritual.  Every August, we’d frequent the same intersection of local gas stations to get a dozen or so of our favorite farmer’s crop. There is one woman I still remember vividly. She would sit stoically in a lawn chair next to a pick up bed filled with cobs of corn and enormous watermelons. I can still imagine her weathered hands exchanging cash for a plastic bag of the good stuff.  howtogrillcorn.3

Once home, my father and I would gather on the front porch to tackle the job of husking together. After laboriously working (corn husking a big batch of corn is no easy task), we’d return to my mom with naked ears. My parent’s favorite method is to simply boil the corn in a giant pot of water, butter with a bread heel and finish with a little bit of salt. It’s genius in its simplicity.

Today, Jordan and I prefer grilling as our cooking method of choice. Partially because we’re addicted to anything charred, but also because we like to keep the oven off when it already feels like hell outside. You could also put the cobs in foil or even wrap them back up in their husks. For me, both these methods are too time intensive  That’s why we choose to just chuck the husk and put the corn directly on the grates. The result is slightly smoky, slightly chewy sweet ears of corn. Pair with a fresh green salad and don’t forget to garnish with berries to celebrate summer!

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Print this How to

How to Grill Corn

serves 4

4 ears of corn, husk and silk threads removed
olive oil
kosher salt

  1. Preheat the grill to medium high heat.

  2. Slowly pour or spray oil over cobs of corn while using clean hands to spread the oil evenly.

  3. Season liberally by spinning the cobs while sprinkling over small pinches of kosher salt.

  4. Place the ears directly on grill, either between the grates or across.

  5. Rotate the corn using kitchen tongs after 3-5 minutes. Continue to cook, rotating every few minutes until every side has been slightly charred. (On average, medium to large cobs should take about 20 minutes)

  6. Remove from grill.

  7. Enjoy as is or dress up the corn with things like butter or cotija cheese.

Notes: If you have leftovers, remove kernels from the cob by holding the ear vertically over a cutting board and carefully slide your knife down the bottom of the kernels. Great for rice or quinoa vegetable salads, in frittatas, and over greens. Sometime I buy extra cobs, just to have leftovers. Keep chilled in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a week.

How To – Quinoa

4

21.5.13

Since embarking on my journey to eat more nutrient-dense food, there has been one discovery that has really impacted my life.

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It’s called quinoa, and without it I feel as if my life would be empty. That’s a bit exaggerative; but basically, I’m trying to say I’m obsessed with the stuff. Not only is it simple to make, it’s easy on  your digestion (it’s a gluten-free pseudo-cereal or seed), full of fiber and one of the most complete proteins on this earth. Because of that fact, I like to sub quinoa and beans for a meat free dinner.

Once cooked, the seeds taste slightly nutty and can have a texture that ranges from mushy to chewy. It all depends on preference. I’m partial to something in the middle. So, if you follow this recipe, your finished product will be tender, fluffy and slightly chewy. I have made an incredible amount of quinoa since purchasing my first bag at Sam’s Club almost three years ago (which feels like yesterday; time is a crazy thing).  Thus far, this is my favorite way to prepare it. The recipe calls for a simple saute and quick boil to cook through the quinoa through. Start to finish, this dish takes a mere 25-30 minutes which makes it perfect for weeknight meals. There are a variety of ways to enjoy this recipe:

  • Enjoy the recipe  as is for  a simple starch side at dinner. It pairs well with a lean protein like grilled chicken and some sort of roasted vegetable.
  • Prepare the recipe to add to other dishes like tossed salads, casseroles or stir-fry’s.
  • Use the leftovers to serve (cold, room temperature or warmed) over a green salad dressed in a vinaigrette.
  • Use as a substitute for noodles in macaroni and cheese.

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The foundation for this recipe is using the right sized pot. I recommend a medium size sauce pan with a tight fitting lid. To start, place the sauce pan over medium, teaterting to high heat. Add a splash of your favorite cooking grease. I’ve used every kind of fat for this recipe, and believe me you really can’t go wrong. Coconut oil adds a trace of sweetness while a combination of butter and olive oil imparts more savory elements.

Once the oil is heated (when the oil sizzles with contact of ingredient), add finely chopped onions and stir to coat. Season with a bit of salt and continue to stir the onions every few minutes to brown evenly. Cook until the sides appear translucent. As the onions soften, they become much sweeter and more palatable than compared to raw.

Next, I like to toast the quinoa to help develop  a layer of nuttiness. Simply add rinsed, uncooked quinoa to the pan with sautéed onions and stir until well coated in oil. Cook over medium heat until it becomes fragrant. Deglaze the pan with your stock and quickly scrape to release the brown flavor bits on the bottom of the pan.

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Give it one more good stir and cover the pan with a tight fitting lid and nudge the heat toward medium-high. Watch closely as you continue to prepare the rest of your meal or whatever else you have to get done in that moment. Once you see the stock has come to a rolling boiling, turn the dial to low heat, near a one or two. Let the quinoa steam until the seeds completely absorb the liquids. This is where patience is well awarded — in order to get fluffy, light quinoa you must wait a few minutes after removing the quinoa from the heat to remove the lid. Once ready, remove lid and gently fluff with a fork before serving or using for another recipe.

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This recipe makes enough quinoa for two people. You can easily double the recipe to make as many servings as you need. Store leftover quinoa in an airtight container and chill in the fridge for up to a week. For this recipe I used a multi-color quinoa, but you could also sub white, red or black quinoa. I like to get my quinoa from the bulk bins to save money and wasteful packaging, but you could also find it in the rice aisle or gluten-free section.

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How To: Quinoa

makes 2 servings, easily doubles

1/2 cup organic uncooked quinoa

1/2 tablespoon oil or butter

1/4 onion or 1/2 shallot, chopped finely

1 cup vegetable, chicken or beef stock

salt to taste

  1. Place a small or medium size saucepan over medium heat. Add butter or oil.
  2. Once heated (onion pieces should sizzle when hitting the pan), add chopped onion or shallots and season with a little salt. Stir until onions are coated in fat and evenly dispersed. Stir the onions every few minutes to ensure even caramelization. Cook until translucent and soft, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add quinoa and stir until evenly coated in fat. Toast for an additional 5 minutes or until the quinoa becomes fragrant (it will smell nutty).
  4. Add broth to pan and begin scraping the bottom to release brown bits for flavor. Give it one more stir and cover with a tight lid.
  5. Once boiling, lower the heat (my dial goes between 1 and 2). Set a timer for 15 minutes and walk away.
  6. After 15 minutes, check that the quinoa has soaked up the liquids (this is where a clear lid comes in handy). If the quinoa appears soupy, let it steam for another 2-3 minutes. If the quinoa appears firm, remove from heat and let rest for an additional 5 minutes.
  7. Remove lid and gently fluff with a fork to serve.

Massaged Kale Salad with Dried Cherries and Macadamia Nuts

5

14.5.13

Here I am with another recipe for kale. I just love the stuff — as a pesto, in my smoothies, and lately raw in my salads. It wasn’t before I discovered a technique called massaging that I actually considered tossing the bitter greens into my salad rotation. I was reading one of my favorite blogs, Kath Eats Real Food, when I learned that you could actually “rub” your kale to tenderize it. It’s the bitterness that actually makes kale unpalatable, but with a little tender and care, eating it raw is actually quite delicious.  My first attempt was a simple combination of  olive oli, lemon juice, honey, kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper. After massaging the kale between my fingers for at least five minutes, I could see that its volume had decreased at least by half. I took a bite and was surprised by the absence of bitterness. It does have a bit of a bite, but only equivalent to the tang of the lemon juice. The balance of each flavor and texture was delivered in one perfect bite: rich, earthy, sweet, salty, sour and chewy.

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If you can’t tell by now, this is my most recent obsession. I decided to experiment the other night for dinner by incorporating different textures into the salad. But I could only use the ingredients I had on hand. I saw a small bag of dried cherries I purchased weeks ago, begging to be used up. I emptied the thin plastic bag to find the cherries had definitely dried up a bit. To make sure they didn’t stick to our fillings (the dentist loves us), I decided to soak them in a little water with a splash of Cointreau (any other orange liqueur would do). It’s not really necessary to booze them up, but I love the extra pop of flavor it provides.

Side note: For recipes that require a quality alcohol, I buy the airport size bottles. That way I don’t have to spend an absurd amount of money of booze. Fruit liqueurs and bourbon are my most frequented spirits.

My most recent work desk snack (I enjoy a small snack between breakfast and lunch, so I like to have healthy options right at my fingertips), has been macadamia nuts. They are great for digestion and contain antioxidants that help protect the body against certain types of cancer. I found some leftover in the pantry that didn’t make it to my desk jar. After roasting them to nutty perfection, I had the perfect crunch component my salad needed.

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The dressing is an apple cider and olive oil based vinaigrette with tart mustard and sweet honey. Its tangy sweetness plays perfectly with the sour dried cherries and salty roasted nuts. Once tossed and chilled, the boyfriend and I agreed this was salad was surprisingly addictive. In fact, we picked every piece out of the bowl until it was stark empty. Since, we’ve enjoyed this exact same salad three times as a side for a dinner. Its pairs perfectly with grilled meats and vegetables, pasta and pizza. It’s incredibly satisfying, but not a bit heavy on your stomach. In fact, you’ll feel better after consuming a bowl of this salad – energized, satisfied and nourished.

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Print this Recipe

Massaged Kale Salad with Dried Cherries and Macadamia Nuts

serves 2-3, easily doubles

4 heaping cups kale, torn into bite size pieces (1/2 -3/4  bunch of kale)

2 tablespoons dried cherries

¼ cup raw, unsalted macadamia nuts

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

½ teaspoon dijon mustard

¼ teaspoon honey

salt and fresh cracked pepper

¼ cup grated parmesan cheese

  1. Remove rib from kale and tear the part into bite size pieces. Add to a sieve for rinsing. Run under cold water until all dirt is removed. Add kale pieces to a salad a spinner and spin until dry. Set aside.

  2. Add cold water (optional: a splash of liqueur) to a small bowl and add cherries to soak for at least 20 minutes. Remove from liquids and chop into smaller pieces. Set aside

  3. Place a dry skillet over medium heat. Add whole macadamia nuts and toss occasionally until toasted on all sides, about 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat. Once slightly cooled, add to a plastic baggie. Using a heavy bottomed skillet, smack the bagged nuts until broken into smaller pieces. Set aside

  4. In a medium size bowl, add apple cider vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, dijon mustard, honey, salt and fresh cracked pepper. Whisk vigorously until the vinaigrette comes together, the color will be a light hue of gold.

  5. Add torn pieces of kale to dressing bowl, and begin massaging. Move the kale through the dressing until it coats the kale evenly. Using your fingertips, gently rub the kale pieces until slightly wilted, about 5 minutes. Taste for bitterness. If there is still a bite, continue massaging.

  6. Add the dried cherry pieces, macadamia pieces and parmesan cheese. Toss gently until ingredients are equally distributed. Serve immediately or chill in the fridge until ready to eat (the kale will continue to tenderize if you chill it).

Garlic Herb Oven Fries

0

14.1.13

I have been in search of the perfect oven fry for quite some time now. Because I really adore crispy, oil fried french fries, I have a hard time feeling satisfied with their limp cousin. And since I see very little chance of ever getting a mini fry daddy for my kitchen, I’ve been on the constant search for preparing a satisfying baked version. I’ve tried boiling them first, placing them on a baking rack, and using an oiled preheated pan, and each time the results left me disappointed.

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So when I stumbled upon a new technique that involved “giving the spuds a hot bath,”  I was eager to give it a try. I discovered Katie’s blog while thumbing through my recent feed on Foodgawker in the wee hours of the morning. As soon as I saw her picture perfect fries, I was excited for lunch. I had a good feeling the result of the “bathing” technique would be the perfectly crisp shoestring I had been waiting so long for.

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The idea to is to quickly raise the temperature of the raw fries and also “wash” off the starch that usually sticks to the roasting pan.  The hot sheet sears the sides of the fries to make a perfectly golden crust while keeping the insides tender and moist. My added touch of garlic granules added bite while the herbs added a savory note that pulls you back in for “just one more fry.” I guarantee it’s impossible to eat just one.

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Ingredients
  • 2 large russet potatoes, about 1½ lbs
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • freshly cracked pepper
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon dried basil
  • pecorino romano for grating

Instructions
  1. Place rack in the bottom quarter of the oven.
  2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  3. Put a large pot of water over high heat. Bring to a boil.
  4. Line a large baking sheet with paper towels.
  5. Slice potatoes into ½ inch matchsticks, leaving skins on. Add to a large a bowl. Once the water is boiling, pour over potato matchsticks and let sit for 3 minutes. Drain and transfer to paper towel lined baking sheet. Use more paper towels to blot the fries.
  6. Dry the large bowl and add olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, oregano and basil. Whisk together. Add potato matchsticks to bowl and toss with clean hands until evenly coated in the herb mixture. Spray baking sheet with olive oil or cooking spray. Evenly spread fries over pan.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes, remove and flip with a spatula. Continue cooking for 15-18 minutes or until fries are crispy and browned. Garnish with grated pecorino if desired. Serve immediately.

Sweet Potato Cranberry Quinoa Salad

5

03.12.12

I try to put a lot of thought and (usually) effort into my daily meals. I hate to look back after filling my face only to realize I could have probably enjoyed something better. It’s a wasted moment of enjoyment and dare I say calories.

Lunch seems to be the hardest for me to really nurture when it comes to planning. I usually find myself staring into the fridge with only minutes to act before leaving for work. And sadly, this scenario has led to a few less-than-enjoyable lunches.

So in order to be proactive, I decided to take advantage of some free time this Sunday to prepare a fabulous lunch. That meant it had to be easy to store, easy to travel and full of nutrion.

I started with a base of toasted quinoa cooked in onions and garlic. Quinoa, if you’re not familiar, is a grain-like ingredient that’s actually high in protein. You can find quinoa in an array of colors from beige to red. It’s great for salads just like this because it cooks up quickly and keeps for days in your fridge.

Next, roasted sweet potatoes and toasted almonds add fun texture while fresh cilantro and dried cranberries give the dish bright pops of flavor. I love the variety of colors in this salad. It calls out “I’m good for you!”

Dressed with an easy lime-honey vinaigrette, this dish came together deliciously. I really enjoyed how the sweetness from the potatoes and dried cranberry cut the tanginess of the dressing. The almonds bring out the nuttiness of quinoa while adding a great bite of crunch. This is definitely not a dish you will regret enjoying.

Sweet Potato Cranberry Quinoa Salad
 
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Nutty quinoa cooked in onions and garlic tossed with sweet potatoes, almonds and dried cranberries.
Author:
Recipe type: Salad
Serves: 4

Ingredients
  • 1 cup cubed sweet potato (about 1 large potato)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • pinch of cumin
  • pinch of smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons butter, divided
  • ¼ cup chopped red onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 cup dry quinoa, rinsed
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • zest of 2 limes
  • juice of 2 limes
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin
  • salt and pepper
  • ¼ cup almond slivers
  • ¼ cup dried cranberry, roughly chopped
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Cover a large roasting pan with tin foil. Spread sweet potato cubes evenly onto pan. Season potatoes with olive oil, salt, pepper, cumin and paprika. Toss together with clean hands. Spread into one even layer. Roast for 20 minutes, stirring half way.
  3. While the potatoes roast, add 1 tablespoon butter to a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Once hot, add chopped onion and a pinch of salt. Cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for one minute. Add quinoa and another tablespoon of butter to the pan. Continue stiring and toast until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add vegetable stock, stir and bring to a boil. Once boiling, cover and lower heat. Cook for 15 minutes.
  4. While quinoa cooks, whisk together zest of limes, juice of limes, olive oil, honey, and cumin in a small bowl. Season to taste. Set aside. Place a small, dry saute pan over medium heat. Add almond slivers and toast for 5-10 minutes or until fragrant and slightly browned. Set aside.
  5. Once quinoa is cooked, fluff with a fork and add to a large bowl. Top with sweet potatoes, almonds, cranberries and fresh cilantro. Gently toss. Pour over dressing and toss again. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper. Serve.

 

 

 

 

My Imaginary Thanksgiving

4

14.11.12

While Jordan and I have decided to go on a quick rendezvous in place of cooking a turkey dinner, I can’t help but dream up a menu that I would love to serve. Especially when the blog world is filled with so many delicious fall-themed dishes. To indulge, I decided to put together an entire menu inspired by my fellow bloggers. I hope you all can take some inspiration from this list and decide to try new things. It’s fun to shake things up!

So without further ado, let’s have fun planning my imaginary Thanksgiving.

Having everything timed correctly can be tricky. Plan on taking longer than usual and make sure to have some booze on hand. It helps keep guests relaxed and happy. I love Jessica’s take on fall-themed apple cider margaritas.

The star of the meal is obviously the turkey. Usually I love a classic rub. One based with butter and filled with lots of fresh herbs. But, for some reason Melissa Clark’s hot chile butter-rubbed bird is calling my name. I can’t even imagine how awesome the gravy would be.

Personally, I look forward to a plethora of sides. If there is one classic dish that must make an appearance, it has to go to green bean casserole. This version by Cindy from Hungry Girl por Vida will make you regret ever buying a can of cream of mushroom soup.

I hate to plug myself, but this potato and turnip gratin is seriously one of the greatest discoveries I’ve made in 2012. It feels a little more gourmet than mashed potatoes but is just as easy to throw together.

I really look forward to buttery roasted carrots each year, so those would definitely have to make an imaginary appearance. Evan from The Wannabe Chef has a modern take on baked carrots. I can’t imagine what vanilla and rosemary would taste like together, but I can’t imagine I wouldn’t love it.

We can’t forget the bread category! Turkey day is not complete without the presence of doughy, buttery dinner rolls. Averie from Averie Cooks seriously had me drooling when I saw this recipe. I don’t even need the upcoming holiday as an excuse to bake these up. They are officially on my to-make ASAP list.

And the part we all look forward to–dessert. I was in awe of Emilie’s pumpkin pecan pie bars with bourbon vanilla whipped cream when I discovered them. They look incredibly rich and chewy. My kind of sweet ending. And bourbon-flavored anything? Yes, please.

Now, let’s give thanks.

 

Potato and Parsnip Gratin

5

05.11.12

I feel like I have finally come to a point in my life when one of my main concerns is happiness.

It seems like this self-awareness manifested only weeks after starting my first post-college job. Before then, life was so easy. I had always loved learning, so the school work never bothered me.  And when I wasn’t doing schoolwork, my time was very fluid. I could skip a class here or there if I felt like it. It was easy to be happy then. You really didn’t have to pay much attention to it.

But having a job is totally different. Especially when you’re working for someone else. Suddenly, your actions are affecting a bigger whole. You’re no longer just responsible for yourself.

Having that kind of pressure can easily distract yourself from creating happiness.

You can easily get caught up in concentrating on the future, instead of focusing on the present.

So in honor of this thankful month, we should take some time to think about what makes us happy today.

Because happiness is not something we discover. Rather, it is something we create.

There are many things I’m thankful for.

My supportive family; a sincere, compassionate partner; an outlet for my passion; and a job I feel so lucky to enjoy.

And of course, comfort food.

This dish is the epitome of cooling temperatures and early sunsets.

Potatoes are the base of the dish making it a stick to your ribs kind of meal. The addition of parsnips lend a hint of sweetness and woodsy essence. But, the star is the gruyere cheese. Yes, it is a little pricey but I would never leave you astray. And when mixed with lemony thyme, it is something like velvet on your palate. It is perfection.

So please, don’t waste another moment.

Pour yourself a cup of tea, stream your favorite tunes and indulge yourself to some potatoes baked in cream and cheese.

Oh, and reminisce about your happiness.

Adapted form Feasting at Home

4.0 from 1 reviews

Potato and Parsnip Gratin
 
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Thinly sliced potatoes and turnip slowly baked in a gruyere cream sauce and thyme.
Author:
Recipe type: Side
Serves: 4

Ingredients
  • ½ lb golden potatoes
  • ½ lb parsnips
  • ½ large white onion
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, divided
  • butter for greasing pan
  • 1 cup heaving cream
  • ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg (freshly grated is better)
  • ⅛ teaspoon white pepper
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ tablespoon flour
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced or put through a garlic press
  • ¾ cup freshly grated gruyere cheese

Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Thinly slice potatoes, parsnips and onions using a mandolin. If you don’t have one, slice into ¼ inch slices (the thinner the better).
  3. Butter a gratin dish or an 8×8 casserole dish. Layer ½ of the potatoes over the bottom of the pan. Cover with ½ of the onions. Sprinkle a pinch a thyme and 2 tablespoons of gruyere cheese. Cover with ½ the parsnip slices (reserving the nice ones for the top), a sprinkle of thyme and 2 tablespoons of gruyere cheese. Repeat. Use an extra ¼ cup of gruyere cheese on top Press down firmly.
  4. In a small saucepan, add cream, nutmeg, white pepper, salt, flour and garlic. Whisk over medium heat until it just comes to a simmer. Add ¼ cup of the gruyere cheese. Whisk until melted. Remove from heat.
  5. Pour over potatoes and parsnips, making sure to get ever nook and cranny.
  6. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 50 minutes. Uncover and continue baking for 15-20 minutes or until top is browned and bubbly. Let set for 15 minutes before cutting.
  7. Serve with a green salad for a light dinner or pair with a beautifully broiled steak.

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