Tag Archive: salad


Kale Ceasar Salad

salad-carol-scottSo it seems we find ourselves in the New Year (yay!) and yet in the depths of Winter…still. Oh but it’s not so bad, right? And there’s of course more than comfort food around to lift our spirits 🙂 I am happy to remember all those winter foods that weren’t in season and weren’t around, even a couple months ago. And somehow, I’m now hungrier – all the time! 😦 Mostly, I just end up wanting to make soup, but it’s good to diversify. And this brings me to my post.

So, is salad in season? No. But Kale is. I know what you’re thinking. Salad. Bor-ing. Ceasar, bleh – but no, I promise you this is worth the effort. Because, let’s just be honest here – caesar is awesome – emperor actually, and I’ll be the first to admit I don’t care for anchovies BUT then there’s CAESAR (I am trying to make my point, although I may just end up being redundant, but seriously) there are other perks to the wintertime salad. First, you cancaesar_salad scratch most fruit off that list because, darn, it’s just not ripe or even available and the first rule of any caesar is that it’s all about salty. In the absence of sweeter fillers, it’s good to add a go-to-protein or two to the salad that’ll contribute some texture and quantity. My choice: cubed cheddar cheese (instead of Parmesan) and ham, but the recipe I used suggested roasted chicken too. Remember, science (as reported by the Business Insider) just debunked 5 of the silly myths about meat that are out there so now we know that it is healthy, a great source of protein, our bodies can (and do) digest it well, and that it does not cause disease, or make you fat. Thank you, science.

Julius_Caesar_Coustou_LouvreThe secret ingredient here? Brown rice. I know I hate rice too, hate it. It’s the absence of something, I think, what’s it called? Oh yeah: flavor. But what’s the second rule about making a caesar salad? (I’m totally making this up, but still) It must have carbs. CARBS, say what, how can that be a rule?! Ask the Romans, they invented this. I’m only kidding, this dish is very American so I think it’s safe to assume that for it to be a caesar salad, there must be some carbohydrates in it. So the typical caesar has croutons and I try to avoid these tasty little treats full of empty calories (darn!) You know what packs a ton of (not empty) wholesome calories and can count itself as a good carb? That’s right, rice. Brown rice happens to be holier than thou when it comes to getting whole grains. Well thank god it’s good for something. I first came across this recipe in last September’s Cooking Light. Granted it called for quinoa, but brown rice is just as good.dressing

The labor intensive part of any salad is in the processing or chopping of all the raw veggies. The bad news? Caesar dressing from the store is over-rated and has waaaay too much sodium in it. The good news? You can make your own in about 24 seconds if you have handy some of the classic ingredients like a couple anchovies (yes, those slippery little suckers), olive oil, light milk or creme fraiche, and lemon. For me, the key to saving time in making this recipe lies in using a blender to puree everything – but this can just as easily be hand-chopped and mixed well.

I’ve included a quick & easy infographic from Women’s Health that breaks down all kinds of salad dressings you can make in 3 minutes, like a boss. Talk about easy, so you aren’t required to make creamy, salty dressing if you don’t want to; Greek, Honey Mustard, and Asian Dressing would all go just as well here 🙂

salad dressings

Kale Caesar Salad with Brown Rice, Bell Peppers, and Ham

Ingredients

(for the salad)Brown-Rice

4.7 dl (about 2 cups) brown rice

1 bunch of kale (any color)

1 block of sharp cheddar, cubed

3 bell peppers, seeded & sliced

2 red onions, thinly slicedkale

500g (or 2 cups) cubed ham

5 tomatoes, coarsely chopped

(for the dressing)

2 anchovies, packed in oil

2 Tbs. hot water

1 lemon, juiced

1 dl (1/2 cup) creme fraiche or light milk

1/2 dl (or 1/4 cup) olive oil

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 Tbs. English (or Worcestershire) sauce

sea salt & cracked pepper

(1) Cook the brown rice according to package instructions and let cool completely. (2) Wash the kale and remove the stems, chopping the leaves and putting all greens into a large salad bowl. (3) Add all the other chopped salad ingredients including the brown rice, cheddar cheese, onions, peppers, ham, and tomatoes. (4) To make the dressing, combine the anchovies, hot water, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, creme fraiche, and Worcestershire sauce in a blender. Pulse until the dressing is creamy and smooth. Season to taste with plenty of salt & cracked pepper (5) When ready to serve, toss the salad with the dressing and heap into bowls, no bread needed, garnished with more cracked pepper and a wedge of lemon. 🙂

Serves 4

cheeseYou’d be amazed just how much I made of this and just how fast it all “disappeared.” I really planned for leftovers but caesar is another one of those things that gets really good by just chillin’ in the fridge. Amazing.

My challenge for the new year: go-to-snacks that I can assemble in less than 10 minutes. Got any ideas for me? Please share! I guess healthy is a priority but emphasis on the easy/quick to assemble part.

Question for this post & its readers: what is your favorite salad dressing ever?!

1.6.2015

Advertisements

Seaweed Saladizzle

mermaid_seaweedI was going to do a post on chestnuts since I’d ‘forraged’ some (a lot, actually) from the urban wilderness. I’m not even going to talk about how THAT turned out, other than to say don’t bother trying it and save yourself some energy. Instead, I am going to talk about one awesome salad that doesn’t get enough credence in the buzz and hubbub of the salad world. It’s called wakame, sound familiar? Mmhmm, seaweed salad. Introducing the first delicate pile of greens that won’t wilt or get soggy, even after chilling for a couple days in the fridge – is it real? YES. I buy seaweed salad frozen and defrost, then add my own ingredients. Below are two versions of seaweed salad I think are worth trying – it’s not as slimy as you think! 😉

The first recipe here is from Food & Wine and was the inspiration for me making my own seaweed salad in the first place. It just looks so… good… and I love the stuff but have never seaweed_saladseen it in stores to make it myself. Way back in the day, I came across this honey-miso version, and I filed it away for one day… That day came. Seaweed salad, including the first version I made of this amazing dish, is especially flavorful (and healthy!), with or without the honey. Last week, I made seaweed salad again, only this time it was “my version,” with a little more vinegar, onions, and other smelly herbaceous stuff 😀 ‘Twas de-licious.

My star ingredient? Miso. What even is this stuff?! Fermented… what… now it kinda sounds gross. Not gross, SUPER healthy. Also super salty, what could be better? The miso I got is black as sh%$ , I mean night, and it looks like sticky dirt. Does NOT taste like dirt though. I’ll admit, I find myself sampling a small spoonful nmiso-paste_chartow and again with toast or cheese. That’s breakfast, right? I don’t like adding salt to anything I cook, so to have the super smooth saltiness of miso to use comes in handy in my kitchen. I think it’s going to take a lot more dishes like these to get me through this whole packet of miso though, I’ve got oodles 🙂

Seaweed Salad with Honey, Miso, & Lime

Ingredients

1 package frozen seaweed, or wakameseaweed-salad

1 cucumber, thinly sliced

1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced

1 Tbs. rice vinegar

1 Tbs. sesame seeds

1 Tbs. miso paste (any)

1 Tbs. honey

1 Tbs. fresh ginger, peeled & sliced

1 tsp. roasted sesame oil

1/2 a lime, juiced

(1) Defrost the seaweed overnight in the fridge or 2 hours at room temperature. In a small bowl, mix together rice vinegar through lime juice, stirring until well blended. (2) Drain any excess liquid from the seaweed before putting in a bowl. Combine the seaweed and vinaigrette and toss. Chill until ready to serve. Goes great with pork or poached eggs 🙂

Serves 4

Spicy Seaweed Salad with Red Onion, Cucumber, & Kimchi

Ingredientssliced-red-onions

1 package frozen seaweed, or wakame

1 cucumber, thinly sliced

2 red onions, peeled & thinly sliced

2 Tbs. rice vinegar

1/2 Tbs. chili flakes

2 Tbs. sesame seeds

2 Tbs. lager beer

1 tsp. roasted sesame oilkimchi

1 Tbs. miso paste (any)

1 can fermented veggies (like ginger, water chesnuts, or carrots), drained & chopped

1 can kimchi, drained & chopped (spicy Korean fermented cabbage)

(1) Defrost the seaweed overnight in the fridge or 2 hours at room temperature. In a small bowl, mix together rice vinegar through kimchi, mixing until blended. (2) Drain any excess liquid from seaweed before putting into a bowl. Combine the seaweed and vinaigrette, tossing, and chill until ready to serve. Goes great with chicken (I served it with shitake-crusted chicken breasts), or fried eggs.

Serves 4Dong_Yuan_Mountain_Hall

Well, no matter how long the intervals between my posts, I am still here and cookin’ up a storm in the hours my day usually allows me 😉 I will try to post more material these days about my culinary musings (maybe even something on chestnuts too, sigh…). I’m doing a lot of my shopping at the Asian markets these days, so expect more spicy-themed dishes with fermented goodness and powerful flavors.

My question: When you go out to eat at a Asian place, what is your favorite dish to order?

…Maybe this is something you wouldn’t think of cooking up on your own? I’d love some ideas!

10.14.2013

Herbivorous Høstfest

In Danish, høstfest literally means “harvest party” which is the perfect word for this season with Fall having made an entrance and the air already a bit chillier. As a species that was probably once accustomed to hibernation :D, like most mammals, I suppose an increased appetite can be expected. As for me, the sooner it gets colder I’m craving more filling meals. I’ve always loved eating meat, probably because I am a carnivore by nature 🙂 but after some reflection, I’ve noticed that most of my posts have meat in them. Having noticed this perhaps natural popularity of meat dishes, it’s true that vegetarian food is just as good and often healthier, so I decided to devote this post to vegetarian food everywhere. Here are three of my latest recipes that happen to be completely meat-free.

The melon-cucumber salad is a recipe idea of mine, including the honey mustard vinaigrette, which turned out to be the best part 🙂 The roasted tomato and pepper soup recipe is from the legendary Soup Bible (which can be found on Amazon) and is full of brilliant, if not slightly time-consuming, soup ideas 😉 The bulgur recipe is also a creation of mine and makes use of pretty much exactly what was left in our fridge and cupboards after a week or so of kitchen chaos. The fruity/peppery and honey/salty combinations of flavors seemed to get better after every bite, or maybe that was just me 🙂

The star ingredient in all of these recipes is the miso, which I was finally able to procure at the Chinese grocer. Miso is basically fermented soybeans and as unappetizing as that may sound, it comes in a few different colors and has a pleasant salty taste. It’s a Japanese staple that is full of protein and high in vitamins and minerals. I was able to do some experimentation with the saltish stuff, which helps when you have a chunk since they only sell it in bulk 😀 I think it adds a rich and almost roasted flavor to all sorts of things, including dressings. If you can’t find miso, no worries there, just season as wisely as you wish with salt.

Roasted Pepper & Tomato Soup with Tortellini

Ingredients

8 – 10 tomatoes, on the vine

3 bell peppers, any color

3 sweet peppers, any color

1 Thai chili

3 yellow onions

4 cups vegetable broth

1 box of dried tortellini (with cheese and/or veggie filling)

1 tsp. sugar

1 Tbs. garlic powder

1 Tbs. red or yellow miso (optional)

sea salt & cracked pepper

sunflower oil

(1) Preheat the oven to 230 degrees Celsius (or 450 Fahrenheit). Line a large oven pan with baking paper. Half the onions, tomatoes, and all of the peppers, removing the seeds from the peppers (but not the tomatoes!) (2) Add 2 Tbs. of oil to the pan and then all of the halved veggies, stirring to coat. (3) When the oven is preheated, put the pan on the top rack and let roast until the skins of the peppers have browned and are beginning to peel, about 40-50 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. (4) In a large pot, stir together the sugar, miso, garlic powder, and broth, warming over medium heat. (5) Remove the peels from the onions and the browned skins from the peppers (it’s okay to leave the tomato skins on). Using a blender, puree the roasted vegetables before adding to the soup pot. (6) Bring the soup to a boil and add tortellini, cooking until pasta is al dente, 10-15 minutes. Serve topped with a dollop of creme fraiche, dried herbs, or scrambled eggs 🙂

Serves 6

Spiced Bulgur with Mango, Miso & Pickled  Ginger

Ingredients

(for bulgur)

2 cups bulgur wheat (coarse or finely ground)

4 cups onion (or vegetable) broth

1/2 cup pickled ginger, chopped

1/2 cucumber, peeled & chopped

1 bunch green onions, finely chopped

1/2 cup dried green mango, chopped

1 green bell pepper, seeded & sliced

1 red bell pepper, seeded & sliced

(for dressing)

3 Tbs. yellow miso

2 Tbs. rice vinegar

2 Tbs. olive oil

2 Tbs. apricot jam (or other jam)

3 Tbs. lemon juice

2 – 3 dried chilies (like Pequin or African Bird’s Eye), crushed

1 Tbs. brown sugar

1 Tbs. soy sauce

1 tsp. garlic powder

salt & cracked pepper

(1) Cook bulgur uncovered in salted broth according to package instructions; this usually involves 1 part bulgur to 2 parts broth, for 10-14 minutes or until all liquid has been absorbed. Fluff with fork. (2) In a small bowl, mix together all the ingredients for the dressing, miso through garlic powder and stir well; set aside. (3) Next add all of the peppers, green onions, mango, cucumber, and ginger to the bulgur and mix. (4) When ready to serve, add the dressing and stir until blended. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Can be served warm or cold.

Serves 4

Melon-Cucumber Salad  with Honey Mustard Vinaigrette

Ingredients

(for salad)

1 small honeydew melon, skinned, seeded & cut into chunks

1 cucumber, cut into chunks

6 cups mixed greens (like baby spinach, arugula, & red-leaf)

4 sweet peppers, seeded & thinly sliced

1 red onion, peeled & thinly sliced

(for vinaigrette)

1/4 cup white wine

1/4 cup olive oil

1 garlic clove, minced

1 Tbs. paprika

1 Tbs. yellow miso

3 Tbs. honey

3 Tbs. Dijon mustard

2 Tbs. milk (or cream)

1/2 Tbs. mustard seeds

1/2 Tbs. onion powder

1/2 Tbs. ground black pepper

1 lemon, juiced

(1) Make sure all the greens are washed and dried before tossing with the peppers, onion, melon, and cucumber. Cover and chill until ready to serve. (2) To make the honey mustard, combine all of the ingredients – white wine through lemon juice- in a sealable jar or tupperware and shake until blended. Can be kept chilled in the fridge for up to 2 months 🙂 (3) When ready to eat, toss the salad again with the dressing and serve immediately.

Serves 4

So those are my offerings to the harvest gods and vegetarians everywhere 🙂

It’s amazing how the earth just grows all sorts of differently delicious plants and countless other things for us to eat. I think being human has never been better 😛

My question:

What is your favorite vegetarian dish to eat?

10.8.12

The Best of the Season

Now that we’re in the full swing of Summer, there’s plenty of tasty things in season – apples, apricots, avocados, basil, bell peppers, berries, melon, carrots, cherries, chilies, cilantro, eggplant, fennel, figs, grapes, garlic, green beans, green onions, lettuce, limes – veggies that are relatively inexpensive and arriving at the local markets in abundance. The last two weeks I’ve had my best friend here from the U.S. I cooked up a storm, really couldn’t help myself and we probably ate 90% of what’s on that in-season list. Granted we drank a lot of Sangria too, so I think it’s all a balance 🙂

In this post I’ve sketched out a complete day’s menu. I tried to make it a colorful, tasty spread with a good mix of both rich and fresh, spicy and sweet flavors. The menu is divided into the day’s meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert. If I had to categorize it, I’d call the breakfast Danish, the lunch Hawaiian, and the dinner just plain European…I’d be lying if I said the dessert wasn’t Italian 😀

Probably one of this menu’s more bombastic contributions, the breakfast pâté I found in last month’s Bon Appétit. I just happened to have frozen pâté in my freezer, made in the last month of my pregnancy. A container of frozen pâté is one of the best things I’ve ‘lost’ and found again in my freezer. The steak, carrot, and chicken salad recipes I read in Cooking Light a couple years ago (and pineapple dressing for salad – genius!) The dessert is from Cucina La Italiana, still one of my favorite cooking magazines 😀 (nope..no endorsement yet, but a girl can dream).

On a random side note, I have switched from using olive oil to sunflower oil in all of my recipes that involve cooking at high temperatures. I recently read in an email sent from a very helpful friend of mine that when you cook certain oils (most oils, actually) to a certain high temperature, they burn and consequently go rancid. Rancid oils are carcinogenic, which are bad no matter what form they come in. So – as delicious as olive oil is – I guess it’s best to be served with dishes that aren’t cooked. Perhaps I should have known this but hey, I thought olive oil was delicious in any form I used it.

The star ingredient in this menu is citrus, I used mostly oranges but lemons and limes too. I’ve made the case for this fruit time and time again and I never seem to tire of it. I have a tupperware full of citrus slices sitting in the fridge for my water, juice, wine, etc. and I throw orange peels into stir-fries, zest copious amounts of lemons for batches of strawberry lemonade, and am making lime simple syrup for what I think might be the perfect mohito. This family of fruits can sit in the fruit bowl on the counter long after all other fruits there have molded and bruised, all the while giving off verbena aromas in the kitchen. I put unripe fruit in a bag with oranges or other citrus for a day to make them soft and ready to eat. Since I get a lot of my citrus from Spain, I’ve now gotten into the habit of scrubbing the outer rinds with soap and warm water before I zest or peel for cooking. At first what I thought was a pregnancy craving, turns out to be a lifelong addiction to Vitamin C, perhaps? Or maybe I’m just wanting some extra energy 😉 Either way, there’s something wonderfully refreshing about these sweet and sour fruits. If I had to pick a favorite – and it would be hard – I would have to say lemons. When life gives you lemons, you can make just about a million things to eat..

Breakfast

Liver Pâté Crostini with Savory Berry Salad

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups chilled liver pâté (can be chicken, duck, or beef)

1 baguette, sliced

(for the salad)

1 container of fresh blackberries

1 container of fresh blueberries

1 Tbs. olive oil

2 Tbs. fresh chives, minced

2 Tbs. fresh Parsley, minced

1 lemon, juiced

salt & cracked pepper

(1) To make the salad, combine all ingredients – blackberries through lemon juice – in a sealable container. Season with salt & pepper and chill until ready to serve. Turn the oven on to a low broil. (2) In a large metal or glass oven pan, lay out the baguette slices and season both sides lightly with olive oil and pepper. (3) Put pan into the oven about 10 cm from the top and broil, turning once, until both sides are browned, 3-4 minutes total. (4) Serve each of the toasted bread slices with a layer of chilled pâté and a spoonful of the berry salad on individual plates, or set it all in the center of the table and let everyone make their own.

Serves 4

Lunch

Blackened Chicken Spinach Salad with Spicy Pineapple Dressing

Ingredients

(for the chicken)

1 lb. (or 1/2 kg) chicken breasts

1 Tbs. ground coriander

1 tsp. chili flakes

1 Tbs. garam masala

1/2 Tbs. curry powder

1 /2 Tbs. ground black pepper

1 Tbs. cajun seasoning

1 Tbs. paprika

sunflower oil

(for the salad)

1 bag of baby spinach, washed & stemmed

1 package of baby bean sprouts, washed

1 red bell pepper, seeded & thinly sliced

1 yellow bell pepper, seeded & thinly sliced

2 red onions, peeled & thinly sliced

3 carrots, peeled & cut into matchsticks

1/2 of a ripe pineapple, peeled & cubed

(for the vinaigrette)

1/4 cup beer

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 cup cubed pineapple

2 Thai chilies, coarsely chopped

1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, stemmed & chopped

1/2 bunch of fresh chives, chopped

2 oranges, juiced

3 Tbs. honey

3 Tbs. yogurt

1 Tbs. rice vinegar

3 garlic cloves, chopped

(1) First, make the vinaigrette: combine all ingredients (beer through garlic) in a blender and puree until smooth. Season to taste with honey and cracked pepper, cover, and chill in the fridge. (2) Second, for the salad, make sure all veggies are washed and the greens are dry. In a large bowl, toss all veggies for the salad together, spinach through pineapple pieces. Cover with a damp paper towel and refrigerate until ready to eat. (3) Third, make the chicken: combine all spices for the chicken- coriander through paprika – in a small bowl. Wash and trim chicken breasts, dry, and then rub with 1 Tbs. sunflower oil. Rub the spice mix on both sides of chicken. (4) Heat 2 Tbs. of sunflower oil over medium-high heat in a skillet. When hot, add the chicken and cook, turning once until both sides are browned and the meat is cooked through, 10-12 minutes. Transfer chicken to a cutting board and cover with foil; let rest 5 minutes. (5) When ready to serve, lightly toss salad with the chilled vinaigrette. Slice blackened chicken lengthwise and top each salad bowl with 4-5 pieces. To make the salad as a weekly snack, keep vinaigrette on the side and separate salad into sealable containers, covering with damp paper towels; close and seal the containers and refrigerate until needed, adding the vinaigrette just before eating. Salad goes well with garlic bread or toasted pita triangles 🙂

Serves 4

Dinner

Beef Tenderloin Steaks with Pomegranate-Pinot Noir Sauce

Ingredients

4 beef tenderloin steaks

1 1/2 cups Pinot Noir (or Cabernet-Merlot blend)

4 shallots, peeled & minced

2 oranges, juiced

2 pomegranates, seeded

1 cup of beef broth

2 Tbs. butter

sunflower oil

sea salt & cracked pepper

(1) Season both sides of steak with salt and pepper. Let meat stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before cooking. (2) Heat 2 Tbs. of oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the steaks and cook 3 minutes per side, until  seared on the outside and medium-rare when cut into. Remove steaks from the skillet and cover with foil. (3) Pour 1 Tbs. of oil into the skillet, add shallots and cook about 3 minutes until slightly golden. Add all of the red wine, beef broth, and orange juice next, bringing the sauce to a boil. (4) Stirring occasionally, cook until the liquid has been reduced by half. Lower heat and stir in the butter; season to taste with salt & pepper. (5) Serve the steaks with a generous spoonful of red wine sauce and 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds per plate, cracking black pepper across the top.

Serves 4

Steamed Carrots with Garlic-Ginger Butter

Ingredients

1 lb. (or 1/2 kg) carrots, peeled & quartered

4 cloves of garlic

5 Tbs. fresh grated ginger

3 Tbs. butter

5 limes, zested & juiced

sunflower oil

Sea salt & cracked pepper

(1) Mince all of the garlic and mix with the fresh ginger and lime zest; set aside. Fill the bottom of a large pot with 3 cm of salted water; cover and bring to a boil over high heat. (2) Put the carrots in a colander and then into the pot; cover and steam veggies until tender and easily pierced with a fork, 10-15 minutes. (3) In a large skillet, heat 2 Tbs. sunflower oil and add the garlic-ginger mixture, cooking 1 minute or until fragrant. (4) Lower the heat to medium and add carrots and lime juice, mixing well. Cover the skillet and cook, stirring often, until carrots have absorbed liquid, about 4-5 minutes. (5) Stir in the butter until melted and serve immediately with cracked pepper.
Serves 4

and Dessert..

Honey-Citrus Gelatin with Cream & Cracked Pepper

Ingredients

1 packet unflavored gelatin

3 oranges

1 lemon

4 Tbs. honey

2 Tbs. brown sugar

1/2 cup cream

cracked pepper

(1) Zest and juice all 3 oranges. In a medium saucepan, add orange juice, zest, honey, and brown sugar; bring to a boil over medium heat and simmer until thickened and reduced by half. (2) Juice the lemon and add to saucepan, add the gelatin powder and cook for 1 minute more. (3) Remove from heat and cover, letting stand a minimum of 30 minutes. Once cool, put in the fridge (keeps 3 weeks chilled). (4) When ready to serve, put spoonfuls of the warm (or chilled) gelatin into small bowls and pour cream over the top, garnishing with 1/2 tsp. cracked pepper.

Serves 4

So, my Summer menu has turned out to be both long and filling. Det er både lang og godt fyldende 🙂

My question: What is the best sauce to serve with a steak?

Red wine sauce is still one of my reigning favorites…

8.1.12

A Mother of a Salad

Ahh, with Summer weather on the way, it keeps getting lovelier by the day 🙂 And looking at all these flowers and budding greenery has only increased my appetite for fresh dishes (what a surprise, right?) These days it’s easier to create colorfully crisp meals because so many vegetables and fruits are now in season and I find myself making excuses to go to the market to get more 😉

I based this dish off a recipe from Cooking Light that had an aromatic herb salad, and while my version is not nearly as ‘aromatic’, it has lots of other tasty points, and both salty and sweet elements to balance off the already capacious list of ingredients. In making this I was trying to create a dish that had it all — greens, fresh veggies, cheese, protein — the works basically, with a sweet summery dressing to top it all off. What I ended up concocting was a massively fresh and filling salad worth devoting a post to based on the fact that it’s probably one of the most delicious salads I’ve had to eat in a looong time.

Making a salad is easy – just incorporate the elements; the greens and the vegetables are the things you buy fresh, the dressing can be made from what is already in your cupboards. When putting together a salad, just combine ingredients that make sense to you, and ones you already like to eat on their own: peppers, onions, some sort of cheese, tomato, dried fruit, etc. and pick whatever greens look the crispest at the market. The good thing about salads (or at least one of the good things..) is that they’re easy to assemble and you can always feel good about eating them, providing one doesn’t overdo it on the dressing :/ And even though it gets just a tad bit soggy, I always save the leftover salad for snacking the next morning because there’s something refreshing about cold greens for breakfast!

The star ingredient in this recipe is hard-boiled eggs because they add some class to the dish (in addition to fat and protein) and look pretty awesome atop the stack of greens when serving. Eggs also add a creaminess to everything that upgrades this from a side dish to more of a meal. I prefer my eggs boiled until barely set so the yoke tastes buttery. As for the dressing, anything would work with this; I chose to make a sweeter version because I still had plenty of jam (from my last post) at my disposal, but a salty vinaigrette would work just as well, or simply oil & vinegar. In honor of the season and the simplicity of the meal, I’ve shared my recipe for this salad in hopes of inspiring others to come up with some amazingly creative tasty salad dishes too 😀

Baby Spinach, Red Cabbage, & Mint Salad with White Beans, Hard-Boiled Eggs, and Dried Apricots

Ingredients

(for salad)

1 bag of baby spinach

1/2 head of red cabbage

1 bunch of fresh mint

1/2 block Gorgonzola cheese, cubed

1 red onion, thinly sliced

1 can of white beans, drained & rinsed

1/2 cup dried apricots, halved

1/4 cup shelled pumpkin seeds

4 hard-boiled eggs

(for vinaigrette)

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup sherry vinegar

3 Tbs. strawberry jam

1 tsp. mustard

1/4 tsp. vanilla powder

Juice of 1 lemon

salt & cracked pepper

(1) Rinse and dry all the greens; stem the red cabbage and slice into ribbons. Toss the baby spinach, cabbage, and mint leaves together in a large bowl. (2) To make the vinaigrette, combine all ingredients – olive oil through lemon juice – and stir until well blended. Season to taste with salt & cracked pepper. Can be refrigerated up to a week ahead of time. (3) Add the dried apricots, white beans, red onion, pumpkin seeds, and Gorgonzola cheese to the salad and mix. (4) When ready to serve, toss salad with the vinaigrette and slice hard-boiled eggs lengthwise. Serve the salad in bowls, topped with egg slices and cracked pepper.

Serves 4

I can’t believe there was a time in my life when I hated salad, really – I hated it – it had something to do with lettuce, which just seemed like bunny food to me 😉 Well not anymore, now I want a salad with every meal! I believe it’s a wonderfully fresh way to eat all these daily servings of veggies we’re supposed to be consuming, and salads just have a touch of class to them, I’m not sure why…

My question: What is one unusual secret ingredient to make a great salad?

It’s amazing how almost anything can go in a salad, fruits, vegetables, nuts, cheese, meat, legumes…so many choices 🙂

6.10.12

Menu for a Spring Celebration

Last Sunday, I had the pleasure of throwing a baby shower at our little apartment. This post comprises the menu. Everyone brought plenty of soda and juice, and one of my friends even made some delicious Spanish food, which disappeared mighty quick. It was a beautiful day, with wonderful company, good food (if I might say so myself), and turned out to be one lively celebration. I thought it only best to share some of the delectable deliciousness that accompanied everything 🙂

The menu is organized in basically the order in which it was served, with the first course or starter being homemade jam (I mean, marmalade), then the main course, ending with a very simple dessert. I first read this jam recipe in Bon Appetit but after glancing at the picture (bleh..) I decided to make my own version and ended up winging it with the rest of the recipe. My other friend, a very talented individual in ways of baking, was nice enough to make fresh rolls with raisins for the shower and her boyfriend brought along a tasty loaf of bread so the jam ended up being a good way to start off everything. I served both the bread and the jam alongside a soft cheese (something crème), but butter would work just as well..

The antipasti dish I also found in Bon Appetit, accompanied by much better picture this time so I added a couple of things I thought it needed to make the main course dish. Namely, I served the salad with a strip of peppered ham, more slices of mozzarella, baby tomatoes (because it’s a baby shower:-) and plenty of garlic in the raw form, because the store-bought pesto just wasn’t cutting it. Olives I marinated in a spicy-salty brine from the week before I added to the plates as a finishing touch, which turned out to be some of the more flavorful aspects of the meal. It is by request(s) that I include the olive recipe below because frankly, it’s easy to make and the olives turn out so much tastier than they’d normally be just sitting in your fridge. I really hope someone makes their own version of these marinated olives and let me know how it tastes!

The dessert proved to be the simplest dish to prepare out of this menu, which is always good at the end of any event and it included the essentials — fruit, nuts, cheese (yes, again) and honey. I got the idea from last April’s Cooking Network magazine but the nuts were a welcome inspiration on my part. I think the key thing here is to get quality fresh fruit, because pears can be pretty disappointing if unripe. Blue cheese may be a reluctant choice to some but say just yes to the moldy dairy because everything is delicious when sprinkled with honey 😀

The star ingredient in this menu is: cheese! I included cheese in every course (because I can, and so I will) and all different kinds of it too, mild and fluffy with the main course (god bless the mozzarella), light and creamy with the starter, and mottled with flavor for the dessert. Remember, cheese is pure protein (okay, and a little fat) but I maintain the believe it more flavor than calories, so no restraint should be necessary 😉 The Danes love cheese just as much as I do so I didn’t really need an excuse. By the end of the day, we were all so full I feel I may have overdone it just a little. Oh well!

Fig-Thyme Jam

Ingredients

1/2 kilo ( or just over 1 lb.) dried figs

1/2 cup of sugar

1 bunch of fresh Thyme

1 lemon

3 Tbs. honey

(1) Boil a kettle of water. In a bowl, place the dried figs and cover with the boiling hot water. Let soften 10 minutes, then drain, stem, and coarsely chop all of the figs. (2) In a medium saucepan, put the figs and sugar, adding enough water to just cover all contents in the pot. Make sure the thyme is washed thoroughly and secured in a bunch with string then put into the saucepan as everything heats up. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. (3) Meanwhile, zest and juice the lemon and set aside. When the jam mixture is bubbling, lower the heat to medium. (4) Stirring often, cook until all of the liquid evaporates and jam starts to stick to the bottom of the saucepan, 20-30 minutes. (5) Mix in the lemon zest and juice and cook everything a minute more. Remove from heat, discard the thyme bunch, and let the jam cool. (6) Stir in the honey and remove any visible thyme stems (but not the little leaves:-) Chill jam in the fridge 1 hour before serving (keeps chilled up to 3 weeks). Serve with bread or toast and butter or a mild cheese.

Serves 6

Citrus, Coriander, and Chili Marinated Olives

Ingredients

2 cups mixed olives (like green, black, or kalamata)

1 lemon, seeded & sliced

1/2 cup of olive oil

4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

2 fresh Thai chiles, halved (or 4 dried)

1 Tbs. crushed Coriander seeds

1 tsp. crushed fennel seeds

1 tsp. crushed black peppercorns

1 Tbs. sherry vinegar

3 bay leaves

sea salt

(1) In a medium tight-sealing container, mix the olives and lemon pieces. (2) In a saucepan, bring the olive oil, sliced garlic, chilies, and all of the spices slowly up to a simmer over low heat. Let bubble until fragrant and the garlic begins to brown, 20-30 minutes. (3) Remove the pan from heat and add vinegar. Cover and let the brine steep for 1 hour. (4) When cool, pour the oil mixture over the olives and mix well, letting everything marinate at room temperature for up to 2 hours (can be stored in the fridge for 2-3 weeks). Serve the olives at room temperature.

Serves 6

Pesto Antipasti with blanched Beans, Baby Tomatoes, and fresh Mozzarella

Ingredients

1/4 kilo fresh green beans (0r 1/2 lb)

1/4 kilo fresh flat beans (or wax beans)

1 bunch baby tomatoes, stemmed & halved

1 can white beans, drained

1 bunch green onions, coarsely chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 lemon, juiced

1/4 cup store-bought (or homemade) basil pesto

300 g fresh buffalo mozzarella (or just over 10 oz), thickly sliced

1 cup mixed olives (from the marinated olive recipe above)

1 packet thinly sliced meat, for serving (like ham or prosciutto)

2 Tbs. olive oil

salt & cracked pepper

(1) Top and tail all of the fresh beans, cutting into 2-cm pieces. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Once at a rolling boil, throw in all of the fresh beans and blanch for about 1 minute until bright green. Drain the beans and immediately rinse with ice cold water. (2) In a large mixing bowl, combine the white beans, baby tomatoes, green onions, minced garlic, and all of freshly blanched beans. Add pesto, 2 Tablespoons of olive oil, and lemon juice, mixing well. Season the salad to taste with salt & pepper (or more minced garlic:-) (3) When ready to serve, arrange 3 slices of the fresh mozzarella, 1 piece of meat, and a generous cup of the salad on each small plate. Add 3 or 4 marinated olives on the side.

Serves 6

Pear Slices with Blue Cheese, Walnuts, & Honey

Ingredients

3 ripe yellow pears, cored & sliced

1 wedge of soft blue cheese

1/2 cup of walnuts, shelled

3-5 Tbs. honey

On small dessert plates, arrange 3-4 pear slices alongside 3 walnuts. Spread a thin (but not too thin:P) layer of blue cheese over the pear slices and drizzle the plates with honey. Serve immediately.

Serves 6

Well, that was my baby shower menu. I’m so happy everyone came, had a good time, and left with full bellies. I enjoyed everything about that day and have so many baby things now, I dare say the little guy is taking over my closet 😉 Hopefully one day he’ll like cheese as much as I do!

My question: What is the best cheese to serve as or with dessert? I’d love some new ideas..

3.3.2012

Homemade Barbecued Pork Ribs

The last meal I made with my family over the holidays was barbecued pork ribs 😀 Personally, I may have missed the spicy-sugary taste of barbecue sauce but I was definitely missing the whole eat-off-the-bone experience. With ribs it seems, the more time you put into them, the more taste you get out of them (I made that up myself..) and can prove to be an all-intensive process. I reduced marinade, let the ribs soak in it overnight, grilled and basted them over slow heat, and made my own barbecue sauce. I’m thinking I may have gone a bit overboard on the whole DIY concept but hey, you don’t get to make ribs from scratch every day! (At least I couldn’t;-)

The rib recipe I refer to here is from December’s Food & Wine and originally involved Root Beer. After perusing through a couple of cooking magazines with my brother, we quickly established that any meat you serve marinated in and covered with sauces made from Coca-Cola will be tasty, at the very least 🙂 The spiciness in this barbecue comes from ground black peppercorns, a simple combination since there’s so many different and more colorful chilies and spices to choose from out there but black pepper pairs wonderfully with vanilla bean (and just when you thought vanilla couldn’t get any better!) My advice to spice enthusiasts, add 1/2-1 Tablespoon extra ground black pepper to your barbecue sauce if you want it really spicy.

Perhaps needless to say at this point, the star ingredient in the ribs recipe is Coca-Cola. And why not?! I initially thought that the taste might be overshadowed by some of the other flavorful ingredients but that wasn’t the case. Apparently boiling something down over time only contributes to the flavor :] This is making me think that you could probably boil any soda down to its sauce form, like Dr. Pepper steak sauce or chicken cutlets with Fanta reduction. I should start considering soda an ingredient (is it that bad? Doesn’t cooking making it any better? I hope so…)

Slightly inspired by the whole farewell ‘grilling theme’, I made another recipe, this one from last June’s Food & Wine, which is a salad with grilled oyster mushrooms and green grapes, chilled celery and butter lettuce. Salad and barbecue just sound like the perfect combination.. I have included both recipes in this post, let’s call it le grill menu. The two go awfully well together and the ribs were so delicious I was eating them with my fingers a quarter of the way through, probably covered with a little barbecue sauce too. I was not the only one though 🙂

Grilled Pork Ribs with Coca-Cola Lime Barbecue Sauce

Ingredients

(for the marinade)

2 cans of Coca-Cola

3 shallots, sliced

1/2 cup fish sauce

1 head of garlic, peeled & crushed

1/4 cup whole black peppercorns

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil

1 cup cold water

2 racks of pork ribs (about 5 lbs. or 2.3 kilos)

(for barbecue sauce)

3 cans of Coca-Cola

1/4 cup lime juice

1 Tbs. ground black pepper

1 Tbs. garlic powder

1 Tbs. chili powder

1 ts. salt

2 vanilla beans, split & scraped for seeds (or 2 Tbs. vanilla extract)

cooking/grilling spray

(1) To make the marinade, boil Coca-Cola, fish sauce, garlic, black peppercorns, shallots, and vinegar for 1 minute over high heat. Cover, remove from heat, and let steep for 30 minutes; uncover and let cool. Add the olive oil and cold water, stir, and transfer to a ziploc bag or large dish before adding the pork ribs. Cover/seal and marinate meat overnight in the fridge. (2) While cleaning and preheating the grill (on medium), let ribs come to room temperature, uncovered 20-45 minutes. (3) In a medium saucepan, mix the vanilla bean, black pepper, and 3 cans of coke. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and reduce to about 1/2 cup, stirring occasionally, 25-35 minutes. Add the lime juice and salt, simmering over low heat for 2 minutes. Strain and discard the vanilla bean and remove pan from heat. (4) When cooled, stir in the garlic and chili powder, seasoning barbecue sauce to taste with salt and pepper. (5) Once grill has preheated, drain the marinade from ribs, reserving about 1 cup for basting. Spray ribs with cooking spray and grill over medium-high heat, turning once, to sear each side, about 10 minutes total. (6) Put heat to low and continue grilling the ribs, turning often, and basting every 5-7 minutes until cooked (edges of the meat will begin to pull away from the bone), about 35-45 minutes. Remove ribs from the grill, slather in barbecue sauce, and cover with foil, letting rest for 10 minutes. (7) Before eating, cut between each rib with a sharp knife. Serve pork ribs with lime wedges and a side of barbecue sauce.

Serves 4

Grilled Grape & Mushroom Butter Leaf Salad with Mustard-Celery Seed Vinaigrette

Ingredients

(for the vinaigrette)

3 Tbs. walnut oil

1 Tbs. Dijon mustard

1/4 cup champagne vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil

1 Tbs. celery seeds

1 lemon, juiced

2 Tbs. fresh Parsley, minced

3 green onions, minced

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 Tbs. white wine

salt & cracked pepper

(for the salad)

1 head of butter lettuce, stemmed & torn

1 cup fresh sprouts

1 cup green grapes

1/2 cup fresh celery, thinly sliced

1/4 cup celery leaves

1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves

2 cups fresh oyster mushrooms

1/4 cup roasted & salted whole almonds

(1) To make vinaigrette, whisk together all the ingredients, walnut oil through white wine above, in a medium bowl and season to taste with salt & pepper (adding more champagne vinegar, if needed:-) Cover and chill until ready to serve. (2) Wash and dry salad greens, combining the celery leaves, parsley leaves, butter lettuce, and sprouts in a salad bowl. Refrigerate. (3) Preheat the grill to medium-high heat and clean racks with lemon halves. When hot, grill the oyster mushrooms, turning once, until browned, about 3-4 minutes. Also grill the green grapes on a strip of foil until slightly browned, 2-3 minutes. Remove both from grill and let cool about 2 minutes. (4) Next, add sliced celery and roasted almonds to the salad greens. When ready to serve, toss salad with grilled mushrooms and grapes and 5 Tbs. of the salad vinaigrette. Serve immediately 🙂

Serves 4

So, at last my desire for grilled food has been satisfied }:-) for now…I will see what new inspirations come with visiting wonderfully flavorful Espania! I already miss cooking with my family, but at least I’ll be coming up with some more meaty meals since my little brother will be here and cooking with me by the end of the week, in my uber tiny European kitchen too 😀

My question: What is your favorite style of barbecue sauce?

It seems like every city has one. There’s Memphis (sweet and salty), Kansas City (tomato-based), and St. Lious (tangy) barbecue and the list goes on and on..

1.13.12

Cajun-Style Burgers, minus the Grill

In my never-ending quest for meal variation, I decided this week to make good ol’ burgers for dinner alongside a different version of chilled pasta salad. Not only am I (and baby:-) craving red meat, but I was also finally able to lay my hands on some ground beef and jumped at the chance to cook something that would at least give me the illusion of summertime, cheesy grilled burgers, without the grill :/ And how does one accomplish that? I got two words for you: high heat. That’s basically what a grill does, cooking food over conditions of high heat but the flames are direct so when using a (slightly lamer) frying pan, one has to try a little harder to ‘recreate’ grill conditions. Trust me, it’s possible.

Cajun seasoning does wonders for any plain hunk of meat so I highly recommend it for making burgers; the paprika made the patties taste a little sweet while the cayenne gave it spiciness, a very interesting flavor combination if I may add. Frying thick slices of tomatoes adds a bit of excitement to the burger presentation (not to mention taste) but just make sure to brown both sides of the tomato slices and then promptly remove them from the frying pan before they get uselessly mushy, because nobody likes that.

This colorful version of pasta salad is based on a recipe from Cooking Light and involves roasted red peppers, fresh mint, and Brazil nuts. With access to copious amounts of fresh mint, it seemed like a no-brainer to me but if you aren’t a huge fan of mint then I’d recommend some other fresh herbs, or just more basil :] I decided to include the burger and pasta salad recipes separately for the sake of simplicity. As for the star ingredient, I’d have to say it’s the fried tomatoes because they’re just wonderful–easy to make, greater to taste–it seems flavor only increases in vegetables you take the time to roast (or fry!!)

Baby Bowtie Pasta Salad with Fresh Mint, Roasted Red Peppers, and Brazil Nuts

Ingredients

(for the salad)

1 lb. baby bowtie pasta

1 jar roasted red peppers, seeded & chopped

1 bunch green onions, finely chopped

1/2 cup Brazil nuts, chopped

1/4 cup golden raisins, softened

(for the vinaigrette)

1 bunch fresh mint, minced

1 bunch fresh basil, minced

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 Tbs. rice vinegar

3 Tbs. olive oil

2 Tbs. milk

2 Tbs. lime juice

salt & cracked pepper

(1) Cook the pasta in boiling salted water according to package instructions until al dente, drain, and then rinse thoroughly with cold water. (2) Combine all ingredients for the vinaigrette (minced mint through lime juice) in a small bowl, whisking well with a fork; season to taste with salt & pepper. (3) To assemble the salad, mix the cooked pasta in a large bowl with all remaining ingredients, including the vinaigrette. Stir everything together very well, adding more lime juice for moisture if needed. Refrigerate salad until ready to serve.

Serves 4

Cajun-Spiced Burgers with Fried Tomatoes, Red Onion, and Swiss Cheese

Ingredients

1 lb. ground beef

3 eggs, beaten

8 slices of Swiss cheese

4 large burger buns

1 red onion, thinly sliced

2 tomatoes, thickly sliced

2 Tbs. soy sauce

salt & cracked pepper

1 packet Cajun spice blend (or make blend: 3 Tbs. ground cumin, 3 Tbs. dried oregano, 2 Tbs. garlic powder, 3 Tbs. sweet paprika, 2 tsp. salt, 1 Tbs. cracked pepper, 2 Tbs. chili powder, 1 Tbs. onion powder, 1 tsp. cayenne pepper)

(1) In a large bowl, mix together the ground beef, Cajun seasoning, and beaten eggs; refrigerate for about 30 minutes. (2) Heat 1 Tbs. of olive oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat and fry the tomato slices, browning both sides before putting on a separate plate; keep covered until ready to serve burgers (3) Form the meat mixture into 4 thick burger patties and reheat the pan with another tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. When hot, add burger patties and cook 8-10 minutes total, flipping when the sides have browned before adding two slices of Swiss cheese on each patty; burgers will be medium to medium-well when done and cheese should be melted. Let sit covered with foil for at least 3 minutes before serving. (4) To assemble burgers, toast the buns beforehand and add a patty to each, topping with warm slices of fried tomatoes, red onion, and ketchup, if desired.

Serves 4

So at last I satisfy my burger cravings and only managed to destroy half the kitchen in the process (okay, so I destroyed all of it }:-) My next endeavor will have to be something just as simple, another old-school meal reminiscent of the American food I’m missing out on over here, something with melted cheese too…

My question(s): what are your favorite burger toppings? And what’s the best cheese to melt on burgers?

I’m thinking anything classically delicious 🙂

11.16.11

Simply Lamb

Well, having access to the large and bustling foreign supermarket (it’s called the bazaar, now that’s cool…) has inspired me to make this meal and includes the one ingredient I’ve been craving for weeks–lamb!! This post comprises the menu I served for dinner, two very simple recipes of a salad and meat entrée. The tabbouleh is a pretty standard dish in Middle Eastern cuisine and is often served in or alongside pita bread (it works real good for lunch, too). I had to do a little bit of research on how to cook lamb properly on the stove but I must emphasize that this turned out to be a very simple, incredibly easy, and amazingly delicious operation. I would recommend searing lamb to anyone, it’s far faster than having to watch it roast for hours on end and it still fills the house (ahem, apartment) with the mouth-watering aroma of this preciously delectable meat 🙂

The tabbouleh recipe is very green with plenty of fresh parsley and mint to call it “herbed”. I supplemented the salad with chickpeas, another one of my favorites, and petit peas (you know, because it wasn’t green enough) to ante up on the protein. My version includes using tomato juice to moisten the salad, but more olive oil, vinegar, or lemon juice would work just as well. For the grain, I used coarse bulgur which is just another form of wheat and the cheapest I found at the market; this dish is very versatile and grains are simple enough that you can easily substitute bulgur with quinoa, couscous, or brown rice. Tabbouleh salad is so popular for a reason, it lasts long, it’s healthy, and can come in various forms so I encourage anyone replicating this to have fun and substitute where you like at will, it’s hard to mess up with simple herbs, vegetables, and grains!

As for the lamb, I procured two fillets at the butchers, not your usual cut but thick and lean enough to satisfy me in all respects. Fillets also prove to be very juicy when cooked, which is where the whole process of “searing” really comes in handy because it seals in all the moisture, allowing for maximum flavor (heh, don’t I sound like a chef…) The star ingredient, simply speaking, is none other than the lamb. I was impressed with just how well this turned out and how easy! Lamb has this amazing effect of turning any dish into something special and it’s simple to prepare, especially when your using only four ingredients to cook it, two of them being salt and pepper :] As far as searing goes, my recommendations would be to use plenty of butter to avoid sticking and don’t be surprised at how quickly the meat cooks, the stove top gets dinner done.

Seared Lamb Fillet and Chilled Tabbouleh with Mint, Cucumber, and Chickpeas

Ingredients

(for the lamb)

1 lb. lamb fillet

1 Tbs. dried oregano

sea salt & cracked pepper

1 Tbs. butter

(for the salad)

1 lb. coarse bulgur (sub quinoa, couscous)

1 medium cucumber, chopped

1 bunch fresh mint, minced

1 bunch fresh Parsley, minced

2 tomatoes, chopped

1 bunch green onions, chopped

1 large can chickpeas, drained

2 cups petit peas

5 cloves of garlic, minced

3 Tbs. olive oil

3 Tbs. lemon juice

3 Tbs. red wine vinegar

3 Tbs. tomato juice

2 chicken bouillon cubes

butter

sea salt & cracked pepper

(1) Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a pot over medium-high heat. When melted, add the bulgur and stir for about 3 minutes until grains are lightly toasted. Next, add the required amount of water, usually about 1 1/2 liters (if using chicken broth, it’s probably about 6 cups) along with the two chicken bouillon cubes. Let everything come to a boil and then immediately lower the heat, cover, and let simmer until the bulgur is soft, about 20 minutes, adding more liquid if necessary along the way. *Bulgur should cool on the side for twenty minutes and then chill in the fridge for an hour before assembling the salad. (2) In a large bowl, combine all the chopped vegetables and herbs, everything from cucumber through garlic along with the cooked bulgur. Moisten the salad with olive oil, vinegar, lemon and tomato juice, stirring well. Let the salad chill in the fridge until ready to eat. (3) Allow the lamb to come to room temperature before searing, halving the fillets for easier cooking. Sprinkle all sides generously with sea salt, cracked pepper, and dried oregano. In a large skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of butter over medium-high heat until hot and add the lamb pieces. Sear both sides of the fillets for 3 minutes until browned and medium-rare. Let the lamb rest, covered, for another 3 minutes before slicing. (4) Serve each plate with one heaping spoonful of the tabbouleh and a warm lamb piece, garnishing with mint sprigs or dollops of mango chutney if desired.

Serves 4

As I often reflect after cooking lamb, the effort’s always worth it and there is something supremely satisfying about the way lamb tastes 🙂 Don’t get me wrong, the salad’s tasty too, and it definitely lasts longer! As the cold, foggy weather sets in here I’ll have to come up with other hot food recipes to bolster my spirit 😉 Not that I’m complaining though, I know it’s not getting any better outside and I’m starting to like being fixed to this new kitchen of mine…

My question: What is your favorite cut of lamb?

I’m looking for ideas (shoulder chops? maybe shanks?) and even some simple recipes too…

10.5.11

Honey, Vinegar, and Pepper…

And what do these three make? One wonderfully sweet and tangy dressing for yet another salad recipe of mine. I have thought of a new motto and it runs something like: “Salad, not just for bunnies” (ha, well I thought it was funny;-) This recipe is a creation all my own; I made it up after amassing an array of rather unusual ingredients and I’m particularly proud of the results. I’m sure there may be some wondering out there as to why I’m so concerned with eating such quantities of healthy food (other than the more obvious, long-term benefits) so I might as well just say it: I’m actually eating for two these days 🙂 so my diet has renewed significance and I really need to be bulking up on all these veggies!!

Now that I’ve gotten a little off-topic (but seriously, AHHH! Okay, I’m calm) let’s get back to the recipe. This vinaigrette may be one of my all-time favorites (especially now that I’ve invented it}:-) and I believe it involves a lot of the taste components that make up a good salad dressing including salty, sweet, sour, and savory (it’s all about the coalescence). The ingredients, unusual as they may be, go surprisingly well together in this vinaigrette–tomato juice, oregano, whole-grain mustard, milk, honey, garlic and crushed fennel seeds–all mingle in a tasty combination that is worth a try and absolutely worth a taste. I bought the tomato juice thinking it was the ideal thing to be drinking with my lunch but turns out it’s not as satisfying on its own; or maybe I’ve just developed a preference for sweeter juices with similar amounts of nutrients (I will never, ever be getting sick of the cheap, super-sweet Guava juice they sell over here, ahhh…) Either way, tomato juice is the perfect liquid base to make a vinaigrette from as it seems to me that just everything goes well with tomatoes, juice included.

The star ingredient in this recipe would have to be the dried figs; they’re not too sweet, not too chewy, and look kinda cool when quartered over greens. In mythology, figs denote fertility (yeah, too late) and are packed with nutrition. I haven’t had access to these yummy little snacks before but my new apartment is conveniently located right next to the foreign ‘supermarked’ as they call it over here, so now I can get loads of them inexpensively. Figs, fresh or dried, have fiber, protein, and vitamin C–at least some of the servings I’m gonna need to consume on a daily basis anyway…oh boy 😉

Sweet & Smoky Italian Green Salad with Garlicky Tomato-Mustard Vinaigrette

Ingredients

(for the vinaigrette)

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup white wine vinegar

1/2 cup tomato juice

3 Tbs. whole-grain mustard

2. Tbs. dried (or fresh) Oregano

2 Tbs. cracked pepper

2 Tbs. honey

1 tsp. salt

1 Tbs. fennel seeds, crushed

2 Tbs. milk

3 garlic cloves, minced

(for the salad)

1/2 head of cabbage, thinly chopped

3 small heads of romaine lettuce, coarsely chopped

1 tomato, halved & sliced

1 red onion, thinly sliced

1/2 cup soft cow’s milk cheese

1/2 lb. baby 🙂 red potatoes

1 can navy beans, drained

1/4 cup salted pumpkin seeds

1 cup dried figs

1/2 lb. smoked turkey breast, cubed or sliced

(1) Mix all of the ingredients under vinaigrette (olive oil through garlic) together in a seal-able Tupperware; put on the lid and shake until vinaigrette is well blended. Let chill in the fridge until ready to serve salad. (2) In a large bowl, toss together the sliced cabbage, smoked turkey, romaine lettuce, navy beans, tomatoes, and red onions; cover and refrigerate while assembling the rest of the salad (3) Cut the stems off the dried figs and quarter them, setting aside. Also cut the cow’s milk cheese into reasonably sized pieces (but since it’s soft, don’t worry so much about symmetry;-) (4) Wash the baby potatoes and remove any outside growth or bruised spots (leave the peels on). Heat a medium pot of salted water over high heat until boiling and cook the potatoes until easily pierced with a fork, 7-9 minutes. Drain the pot, halve the potatoes, cover, and set aside. (5) When ready to serve, divide the tossed greens evenly among 4 plates, placing the halved potatoes along one side of the edge of each plate. Scatter the soft cheese, dried figs, and pumpkin seeds generously over the top. Vinaigrette can be on the side or sprinkled directly onto the salad (2-4 tablespoons per plate). Serve the assembled salad with toasted bread & butter if desired and enjoy!

Serves 4

So that massive cacophony of foods made up my salad, which takes surprisingly little time to put together once you’ve got everything chopped into manageable pieces. I think the best part is how the dish is both a little hot and a little cold; boiled potatoes and a chilled vinaigrette, it’s kinda cool. Now if only I can come up with a salad that travels well and stays fresh so I can take it with me to school. Hmmm…

My question: What is your favorite salad?

It can be a classic recipe with your own twist or something completely unique…

10.25.11