March 08, 2013
March (Miami) Madness

Hey guys! Hope you are soaking up the last crisp days of winter... because I just got back from Miami a bit ago and I caught a glimpse of Spring right around the corner!

I love Miami for the beautiful weather, soft white beaches, and most of all, the light-hearted characters that fill its streets. Multiply that with the throngs that come out for SOBE Wine and Food Festival and you've got yourself a party!! Todd and I had such a blast dancing into the night, trying out a few deliciously inspired new restaurants (my team LOVED PubBelly and won't stop about the dumplings).

My most favorite moments were when I actually got to do my thing and cook some food! I hosted (and cooked!) a dinner at the exquisite Casa Tua for about 75 guests and it was so much fun. Preparing to serve dinner to that many people at once takes a LOT of prep work (and a LOT of gnocchi) but it is so rewarding watching the plates going back into the kitchen empty! It truly was a memorable evening and I was so happy to share it with the lovely staff at Casa Tua. They know how to make me feel right at home in their kitchen!

Another memorable highlight was my cooking demo at Jungle Island. If you have not been to this magical place, you must go the next time you are in the area... It is an "up close and personal" zoo where you really get to connect with the animals instead of stare at them from afar. I loved "connecting" with this little oinker- my co-host for the demo, Ace!

    

This place was so cool and I cannot wait to take Jade back to experience it for herself!! The kids were so adorable in their little chef hats and aprons and were so attentive and eager to help out! We made Mini Pizza Muffins (airing soon on a new G@H) and Strawberry Honey Pies. Both were hits... especially with Ace! The kids had some great questions for me as well... My favorite "Can you make a bean burrito?" It was a great time at SOBE, and I can't wait to go back.

But, for now, I am back in my own kitchen getting ready for the next season of Giada at Home! This is truly my favorite part of the whole process, because this is when I write and test all the recipes that will appear on the show. I have a little culinary army that helps me accomplish all the cooking that has to take place in a short amount of time and I thought it would be fun if we added you guys to the team! The basic process is this: I come up with ideas for dishes that I think would be tasty or "reinvent" dishes I already love. I write a draft of the recipes, before giving them a test run myself, filling in the blanks where question marks were. Then I have other people test them as well, to make sure I am explaining properly and am on point with the flavors, proportions, etc.

Wanna join my little army? You would just have to test one I am working on and tell me what you think! I would love photos of your process as well! You can email me your results and photos to tester@giadadelaurentiis.com. You never know, you just might see your photo pop up on the site, or if you are super creative, your version of the recipe might end up on the show! Isn't cooking fun???!!!

Grilled Salmon and Pineapple with Avocado Dressing

Serves 4

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh basil leaves, plus some sprigs for garnish
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh chives
1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon leaves, plus some sprigs for garnish
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 (4-ounce) salmon fillets with skin, each about 1- inch thick
4 (1/2-inch-thick) round slices of pineapple, preferably fresh (see Cook's Note)
Avocado Dressing (recipe follows)

Place a grill pan over medium-high heat or preheat a gas or charcoal grill.

Whisk the oil, chopped basil, chives, chopped tarragon, salt, and pepper in a small bowl to blend. Brush the salmon and the pineapple slices with the herb mixture.

Put the salmon and the pineapple on the grill. Cook the salmon until barely cooked through and still pink inside, about 4 minutes per side. Cook the pineapple until slightly charred, 3 to 4 minutes per side.

Transfer 1 pineapple slice to each plate and arrange a piece of salmon slightly overlapping it. Spoon 2 tablespoons of the avocado dressing over each piece of fish. Garnish with fresh herb sprigs and serve.

Cook's Note
If using canned pineapple, make sure to blot it dry very well before grilling it.

Avocado Dressing
Makes 1/2 cup

1/2 avocado, diced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh chives
1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh tarragon leaves
1 small garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon anchovy paste (optional)
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Combine all of the ingredients in a food processor. Add 2 tablespoons of water and process until smooth. Cover the dressing and let stand for at least 15 minutes and up to 1 hour for the flavors to blend.

Xoxo - Giada

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