5 Easy Summer Recipes

Memorial Day Weekend is the official opening of the summer grilling season. If you still haven't taken out the grill from the storage, it's time to do it. I have five sizzling delicious recipes for summer cooking decadence, that will make your neighbors either jealous or your new best friends.

I love everything about grilling —  the air is layered with sunny summer aromas, the fresh herbs explode like fireworks, sipping chilled white wine while cooking. The great vibe is contagious — friends are chatting, relaxed and smiling, occasianaly glancing at the grill in anticipation of the feast.

1. Grilled Lobster

Easy, juicy and delicious.

Yield 3 servings

Time 20 minutes

Ingredients

3 whole lobsters
Juice of 2 freshly squeezed lemons
1/3 cup dry wine
4 garlic cloves, finely diced
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely diced

Method

Heat the grill.

Boil the lobster for five minutes. Cut the body in half and discard the sand sac from the head and the long sac of dark green roe.

Mix the lemon juice, wine, garlic, and parsley.

Grill the lobster, cut side up. Season it with the lemon juice mixture and cook it for five more minutes.

2. Steamed Veggie Salad With Anchovy Vinaigrette

The vegetables are lightly cooked and the anchovy-garlic dip adds a pleasant country side flavor to the dish.

Ingredients

1 pound baby carrots
1 pound baby mixed potatoes
½ pound asparagus
½ pound roasted baby beets, yellow and red
1 fennel bulb

FOR VINAIGRETTE
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
3-4 anchovies marinated in oil
¼ cup fresh parsleyS
alt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Method

Preheat the oven to 400F.

Individually wrap the beets in parchment paper. Place them in a roasting pan and bake in the oven for 25 minutes.

While still hot but cool enough to handle, peel off the skin very carefully with dry bounty paper.

In the meantime, boil the baby potatoes. Steam the carrots and the asparagus. Cut the fennel bulb to crescents.

To make the vinaigrette: In a Vitamix Blender, add the quarter-cup extra virgin olive oil, half-cup shredded Parmesan cheese, three or four anchovies, quarter-up fresh parsley salt, and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Secure the lid. Turn machine on high, 4/10 speed for four seconds and stop.

Arrange the vegetables in a serving plate. The vinaigrette can be drizzled on top or used as a dip.

3. Grilled Eggplant Dip

Eggplant dip cooked to perfection. This recipe is my innocent summer addiction that knows no boundaries.

Servings – 2 jars

Ingredients

1 medium size eggplant
1 plum tomato
2 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Method

Preheat oven to 400F.

Place the eggplant, tomato, and the two garlic cloves into a baking pan and bake for 40 minutes, until soft.

Once cooked, cut the eggplant lengthwise in half and scoop out the inside. Pill the skin off of the
tomatoes and the garlic cloves. Shred the tomato through a metal grater. In a mortar, mix the pilled
garlic with salt and black pepper. Mix well until it gets a pasty texture.

To make the eggplant dip place all the ingredients — eggplant, tomatoes and garlic paste — in a medium size bowl and start stirring until it gets smooth and homogenous in texture, about 10 minutes.

Season with finely chopped parsley and served with toasted bread.

Tip: When you're buying an eggplant, try to choose based on the shiny color. Your eggplant should have no dark spots, and it should not be too firm in touch, or too soft. Touch the meat of the eggplant to determine whether it's ripe and ready to be cooked.

4. Country-Style Mussels

Once the mussels open, infuse them with aromatic herbs and lightly season with red paprika.

Ingredients

2 pounds mussels, cleaned
1/2 medium onion, diced
2 sprigs oregano
1 bay leave
1 garlic clove, diced
¼ cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon red paprika
1 tablespoon butter

Method

In a medium-size stir-fry pan, heat one tablespoon butter. Add finely diced garlic, onion, and herbs. Cook over medium heat for about a minute. Add the mussels and mix well. Cook for three minutes while stirring all the time.

Mix with the quarter-cup white wine and the red paprika. Mix well, cover the pot, and cook until all mussels open.

5. Grilled Vegetarian Plate

This recipe is a simple take on my obsession with grilled vegetables. The smoky taste in combination with freshness of the veggies brings the summer to life.

Ingredients

6 brussel sprouts, cut in half
1 fennel bulb, cut to ¼”-thick slices
6 cauliflower florets
1 red bell pepper
6 small carrots
10 cipollini onions, trimmed and peeled
2 green zucchini
10 baby yellow squash
1 small size Italian eggplant
3 plum tomatoes
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Method

Put the cipollini onions into boiling water. Remove them after 30 seconds and place them in a plate. Once the onions are cool enough to handle easily, remove the outside peel.

Trim the top of eggplant and cut lengthwise into half-inch slices.

Put all vegetables in a large plastic zip bag, add already mixed olive oil with salt and black pepper, and toss to coat well. Marinate for 15 minutes at room temperature.

Heat the grill.

Place the vegetables flat, leaving an inch distance between them and then grill them for 7-10 minutes on each side.

When done, transfer the peppers and tomatoes to a pot, leaving the lid on until they are cool enough to peel the skin off.

Arrange the veggies on a platter and just before serving, pour some aged balsamic vinegar mixed with fresh basil and parsley.

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Natalia Todorova

Natalia Todorova is a Senior Interior Designer at GKA. She is a graduate from Parson School of Design. Prior working at GKA Natalia worked as a leading interior designer in a top NY Interior Design firm and has an extensive experience of incorporating brand standards in hotels projects. She was the leading designer for TRYP NYC Hotel, Hilton Garden Inn with HIGHGATE HOTELS, Hampton Inn with HERSHA Hotel Group. Natalia also has a very extensive restaurant design background. She designed ROMERA Restaurant at the new Dream Hotel Downtown for chef Miguel Sanchez Romera , a model kitchen for Daniel Boulud, a proposal for Central Park Café with John Fraser and worked on a Café Gray renovation for Gray Kunz .Her sophisticated and creative restaurant portfolio includes restaurants like Havana Central in NYC, 57 Bar and Lounge in Roppongi , Tokyo, RARE Bar & Grill and the luxury art-deco inspired event space Edison Ballroom in NYC. In 2011 Natalia Todorova and Martin Mateev created MAZA Cooking Journals, a monthly iPad cooking magazine for urban foodies. Each MAZA issue delivers beautiful food photography and 9 delicious recipes for appetizers, soups, vegetarian dishes and entrees. See more at www.mazamag.com

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