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Here are the tastingspoons players. I’m in the middle (Carolyn). Daughter Sara on the right, and daughter-in-law Karen on the left. I started the blog in 2007, as a way to share recipes with my family. Now in 2023, I’m still doing 99% of the blogging and holding out hope that these two lovely and excellent cooks will participate. They both lead very busy lives, so we’ll see.

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BOOK READING (from Carolyn):

Once in awhile I’m ready to read another Louise Penny mystery. This time it was World of Curiosities. Usually I’d write something wonderful regarding “another tome about Three Pines.” Not going to say it this time. Three Pines becomes a sinister place. Murders (many).  Of course. Some bad folk out there, far too close to home. I had to put it down a couple of times because it was so frightening. But Inspector Gamache prevails. Of course he does! A piece of very complicated art is involved (I think it may be a real painting). Louise wrote a nice epilogue about how she devised the whole idea. Very interesting read.

Over the years I’ve read many of Jodi Picoult’s books. This, her newest, or very new, is called Mad Honey. Oh, my. This book is beyond Picoult’s usual borders, but then she always writes edgy books. That’s her genre. This one is written with a co-author, a woman who is gay (I think) and also a trans-gender. There is a lot of learn in this book, and might be very difficult or hard for some to read. Very engrossing story, though, as always.

Philippa Gregory is one of my fav authors. Just finished her 3rd (and last, I think) in the Fairmile series called Dawnlands. If you scroll down below you’ll find the 2nd book in the series, Tidelands. Very interesting about English history, but about the same families from the first book in the group. Loved it, as I loved all of them.

Am currently reading Rutherfurd’s long, long book, Paris. I love these involved historical novels about a place (he’s written many about specific places in the world). It’s a saga that goes back and forth in time, following the travails of various people and families, through thick and thin. Some of it during the era of the King Louis’ (plural, should I say Louies?). Very interesting about some of the city’s history and royalty.

Although this book says A Christmas Memory, by Richard Paul Evans, it’s not just about Christmas. A young boy is the hero here, but really an older widower man who lives next door plays a pivotal part of this book. It’s poignant, heart-rending and sweet. It delves deep into childhood memories to take readers back to an age when a world felt like it was falling apart, reminding us that even in the darkest of times, the light of hope can still shine. A beautiful read.

Wish You Were Here, by Jodi Picoult. Another page-turner. I loved this book. A thirty-something woman, about to take a trip with her boyfriend, when Covid breaks out. Covid plays a major role in this book, beginning to end. She decides to go anyway as her boyfriend is a doctor and cannot leave. She ends up on a remote Galapagos island, and you go along with her – with people she meets, the life she leads, the isolation she experiences, the loneliness she feels, but the joy of nature is a sustaining aspect. She’s stuck there because of Covid. Not boats, no airport, no nothing. Barely enough food. But yet, she survives. I could NOT put down this book. It had me riveted. You know, Covid is going to play a major role in a lot of books in our future – it has to. It was such a pivotal moment in this century!

Not everyone wants to read food memoirs. When I saw Sally Schmitt had written a memoir, titled Six California Kitchens, I knew I wanted to read it. I met Sally a few times over the years when I visited Napa Valley, and bought some of her famous pickled items, chutneys, jams, etc. She was the original chef at The French Laundry, before it became truly famous by Thomas Keller. Sally shares her food story, how she came to become a chef and entrepreneur. It’s a charming book and there are a few recipes (I think one at the end of every chapter). Enjoyed reading it. If you ever visited Napa Valley in the early days (the 1960s through 80s) you will enjoy reading how “California cuisine” kind of came into being.

Being a fan of Vivian Howard (from her TV show), when I saw she’d written another book, I knew I should buy it. This Will Make It Taste Good is such an unusual name for a cookbook, but once you get into the groove of the book, you’ll understand. She’s now divorced, but still running two restaurants and raising twins (part-time, I’m guessing as I assume her ex is involved some). I don’t know how she had time to write another book. She’s hysterically funny. I mean it. Over the years (and I’m guessing most of this came from her North Carolina roots and the mayhem she encountered opening a restaurant in her tiny, rural town, to great fame) she developed a group of tasty “things,” to complement her food. It’s hard to pinpoint what these are – they’re recipes for some “kitchen heroes” she calls them. They’re condiments. They’re food additions, they’re flavor enhancers. If I make some of them (I hope to) I’ll post them on my blog. They have umami flavors, and she says it’s how she survives and makes everything taste good. She includes the recipe for each of these kitchen heroes (and each title is laugh-out-loud funny in and of themselves) and a few uses of them. Recently she wrote a column in Garden & Gun (magazine) about online dating, and about how she filled out her profile and of some of the not-so-happy first dates. I laughed and laughed over that. I hope you click on that link and read it.

As soon as it came out, I ordered Spare, by Prince Harry. I’ve always been interested in the Royal Family. And I’m old enough to remember when Queen Elizabeth was crowned – my mother and I watched it on tv, in those early days of television. I admired her throughout her long life. What you learn in this book is how abominably Harry and Meghan have been treated. We all know the Royal Family has a company of people who “handle” them, called “the firm.” These people control what everyone in the R.F. does, when, who is present, who can take a vacation where, and some of them give permission for journalists to photograph, in somewhat private spaces, in return for leaving them alone for awhile. The paparazzi, and the photojournalists are ruthless. Absolutely ruthless and relentless. I cannot imagine having to live with that kind of low-life awaiting  your every move. It could break anyone, as it did Diana. I’ve never been a fan of Charles, and this book doesn’t endear him to me. I’ve never been a fan of Camilla, either. There’s a lot of verbiage given over to outing many people in the R.F. Betrayals on many levels. I devoured it, but then I’m an Anglophile of the first order.

Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri. Usually I don’t seek out short stories. I might have purchased this book without realizing it was. There aren’t that many stories – each one gets you very ingrained in the characters. I love her writing, and would think each story in this book could be made into a full-fledged novel. I was quite taken with the main characters in each and every one of them. Since each story is different, I can’t describe one, without describing all of them; no space for that. With each story I was very sad when I realized it was the end, leaving you hanging. I wondered if these were stories Lahiri wrote hoping they would transcend into a full length novel, but she grew bored, or couldn’t quite flesh out more. But I always felt there could/would be more. I wanted there to be more.

A Lantern in Her Hand, by Beth Streeter Aldrich. A very interesting and harrowing story of early pioneer days in the Midwest (Nebraska I think); covered wagon time up to about 80 years later as the heroine, Abbie Deal, and her husband start a family in a small town. On land that isn’t lush or reliable. Many years of drought, winds, grasshoppers. The story is a novelized one of Aldrich’s own family roots. It’s full of good old-fashioned family values and is a record of some difficult Midwest pioneering history.

The Messy Lives of Book People, by Phaedra Patrick. From amazon’s page: Mother of two Liv Green barely scrapes by as a maid to make ends meet, often finding escape in a good book while daydreaming of becoming a writer herself. So she can’t believe her luck when she lands a job housekeeping for her personal hero, mega-bestselling author Essie Starling, a mysterious and intimidating recluse. The last thing Liv expected was to be the only person Essie talks to, which leads to a tenuous friendship. When Essie passes away suddenly, Liv is astonished to learn that her dying wish was for Liv to complete her final novel. But to do so Liv will have to step into Essie’s shoes. As Liv begins to write, she uncovers secrets from the past that reveal a surprising connection between the two women—one that will change Liv’s own story forever.

Four Seasons in Rome by Anthony Doerr. I’m a fan of this author and relished reading his book about a year in his personal life, with his wife and very new, newborn twins. Doerr was given an auspicious award – a year of study in Rome, with apartment and a stipend. There are four chapters, by season. You will laugh and cry with him/them, as they have to work very hard to survive days and nights with crying babies that will not settle down. As he escapes to his study lair, if only to get away from the babies, sometimes to nap because he was up all night. Those of us who have had fussy babies know what this feels like. He suffers greatly because the “great American novel” isn’t coming to him. He feels the year wasting away from the standpoint of the award. The time in Rome was wonderful, and he and his family enjoy many wonderful visits to city high points, to stand in awe at old relics. I loved every bit of this book – so well written. If you’ve ever been to Rome you’ll enjoy it all the more.

Kristin Hannah’s Distant Shores is quite a read. Some described it as like a soap opera. Not me. Interesting character development of a couple who married young. She put her own career/wants/desires aside to raise their children. He forged ahead with his life dreams. The children grow up and move on. Then he’s offered a huge promotion across the country. She’s torn – she doesn’t want to be in New York, but nothing would get in the way of his career. They try to make the marriage work from separate coasts. The wife begins to find herself again, re-igniting her own passions. Lots of family dynamics.

Oh, William! by Elizabeth Strout. Lucy Barton is divorced. But she’s still sort of friendly with her ex. It’s complicated. Out of the blue he asks her to go on a trip with him to discover something about his roots. They go. And of course, they’re taken for a married couple most of the time. Lucy laments the things she loved about her ex, William. Hence she says “Oh, William” more than once. They encounter some very funny circumstances, and she guides him along, lamenting again, “Oh, William,” again. I don’t think she ever says it TO him, however. Very funny book. Sweet. Elizabeth Strout is a gifted writer.

Tidelands,  by Philippa Gregory. It tells the tale of a peasant woman, Alinor (an herbalist and midwife), who lives barely above the poverty level, trying to raise two children, during the time of great turmoil in England, the rancorous civil war about Charles 1. Her husband has disappeared. The feudal system at the time isn’t any friend to Alinor. In comes a man (of course) who is a priest, but to the Catholic king, not the Protestant people, and everything Catholic is abhorred and suspect. A fascinating read, loved every chapter.

Read Reminders of Him, by Colleen Hoover. A page turner of a story. A young woman is convicted of a crime (young and foolish type). Once released her sole purpose is to be a part of her daughter’s life. Hoover has such a gift of story-telling and keeping you hanging on a cliff.

The Last Anniversary by Liane Moriarty. Oh my goodness. The wicked webs we weave. How in the world did the author even come UP with this wild story, but she did, and it kept me glued. Sophie walked away from her wedding day, and always wondered if she made the wrong decision. Then she inherits his aunt’s house, back in her home town, where the quizzical Munro baby disappearance provides a living for many of his family. Sophie moves there, only to have to unearth all the bad stuff that happened before. Quite a story.

Very funny and poignant story, Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont, by Elizabeth Taylor (no, not that one). Mrs. Palfrey, a woman of a certain age, moves into an old folks’ home in London. It’s a sort of hotel, but has full time elderly quirky residents. You get to know them all, and Mrs. Palfrey’s subterfuge effort to show off her “grandson.” I might not have ever picked up this book, but one of my book clubs had us read it, and I’m ever so glad I did.

For one of my book clubs we read Lessons in Chemistry, by Bonnie Garmus. This book is so hard to describe. Elizabeth is a wizard at chemistry and struggles to be recognized for her intelligence and research. She meets a man at her company who is brilliant too. They make quite a pair. They have a child, then he suddenly dies. Her work isn’t taken seriously, so she leaves her employment and becomes an overnight phenom on a cooking show where she uses the chemical names for things like sodium chloride, etc. You go alongside her struggles, and her raising of her daughter. LOTS of humor, lots to discuss for a book club.

Horse. Oh my, is it a page turner. Loved it from the first page to the last. Sad when it ended. It’s a fictional creation but based on a real racehorse owned by a black man, back in the 1850s. Technically, the story is about a painting of the horse but there are many twists and turns. If you’ve ever enjoyed Brooks’ books in the past, this one won’t disappoint.

The Book of Lost Names, by Kristin Harmel (no, not Hannah). Certainly a little-known chunk of history about a woman who becomes a master forger during WWII to help get Jewish children out of France. Not easy to read, meaning the difficulty of anyone finding the means and place to DO the forgery and right under the noses of the Nazis. Really good read.

Liane Moriarty’s first novel, Three Wishes, follows the travails of adult triplets, so different, yet similar in many ways. Two are identical, the third is not. So alike, and so not. It takes you through a series of heart-wrenching events, seemingly unrelated, but ones that could bring a family to its breaking point and test the bonds of love and strength.

Recently I’ve read both of Erin French’s books, her cookbook, The Lost Kitchen, and since then her memoir, Finding Freedom. About her life growing up (difficult) about her coming of age mostly working in the family diner, flipper burgers and fries (and learning how much she liked to cook). Now she’s a very successful restaurant entrepreneur (The Lost Kitchen is also the name of her restaurant) in the minuscule town of Freedom, Maine. She’s not a classically trained chef, but she’s terrifically creative. See her TV series on Discover+ if you subscribe.

Jo Jo Moyes has a bunch of books to her credit. And she writes well, with riveting stories. Everything I’ve read of hers has been good. This book, The Girl You Left Behind, is so different, so intriguing, so controversial and a fascinating historical story. There are two timelines here, one during WWI, in France, when a relatively unknown painter (in the style of Matisse) paints a picture of his wife. The war intervenes for both the husband and the wife.

Eli Shafak’s Island of Missing Trees. This book was just a page turner. If you’ve never read anything about the conflict in Cyprus (the island) between the Turks and the Greeks, you’re in for a big history lesson here. But, the entire story centers around a fig tree. You get into the head/brain/feelings of this big fig tree which plays a very central part of the story. You’ll learn a lot about animals, insects (ants, mosquitos, butterflies) and other flora and fauna of Cyprus.

Also read Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty. Ohhh my, such a good book. I couldn’t put it down. Whatever you do, do not read the ending before you start the book. I’ve never understood people who do this. The book chronicles the day a mom just ups and disappears. The grown children come back home, in panic. The dad isn’t much help, and he becomes the prime suspect of foul play. There is no body, however.

If you’d like a mystery read, try Dete Meserve’s The Space Between. It’s just the kind of page-turner I enjoy – a wife returns to her home after being away on business for a few days, to find her husband missing and what he’s left for her is an unexplained bank deposit of a million dollars, a loaded Glock in the nightstand, and a video security system that’s been wiped clean.

Read Alyson Richman’s historical novel called The Velvet Hours. Most of the book takes place in Paris, with a young woman and her grandmother, a very wealthy (but aging) woman who led a life of a semi-courtesan. Or at least a kept woman. But this grandmother was very astute and found ways to invest her money, to grow her money, and to buy very expensive goods. Then WWII intervenes, and the granddaughter has to close up her grandmother’s apartment, leaving it much the way it had been throughout her grandmother’s life, to escape the Nazis. Years go by, and finally answers are sought and found. An intriguing book, based on the author’s experience with an apartment that had been locked up similarly for decades, also in Paris.

Susan Meissner is one of my favorite authors. This book, The Nature of Fragile Things tells a very unusual story. About a young Irish immigrant, desperate to find a way out of poverty, answers an ad for a mail order bride.

Also read Rachel Hauck’s The Writing Desk. You could call this a romance. A young professional, a writer of one successful book, has writer’s block. Then she’s asked to go to Florida to help her mother (from whom she’s mostly estranged) through chemo. She goes, hoping she can find new inspiration.

Also recently finished The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish. The book goes backwards and forwards in time, from the 1600s in London with the day-to-day lives of a group of Jews (who had to be very careful about how they worshiped) to current day as an old house is discovered to hold a treasure-trove of historical papers.

Colleen Hoover has written quite a book, It Ends with Us: A Novel, with a love story being the central theme, but again, this book is not for everyone – it can be an awakening for any reader not acquainted with domestic violence and how such injury can emerge as innocent (sort of) but then becomes something else. There is graphic detail here.

Nicolas Barreau’s novel Love Letters from Montmartre: A Novel  is very poignant, very sweet book. Seems like I’ve read several books lately about grieving; this one has a charming ending, but as anyone who has gone through a grave loss of someone dear knows, you can’t predict day to day, week to week. “Snap out of it,” people say, thinking they’re helping.

Another very quirky book, that happens to contain a lot of historical truth is The Phone Booth at the Edge of the World: A Novel by Harry N. Abrams. Set in Japan just after the tsunami 10 years ago when 18,000 people died. At a private park miles away, some very special people installed a phone booth, with a phone (that didn’t work) at the edge of the park, and the survivors of the tsunami began wending their way there to “talk” to their deceased loved ones. Very poignant story.

No question, the most quirky book I’ve read of late, a recommendation from my friend Karen, West with Giraffes: A Novel by Lynda Rutledge. Back in the 1930s a small group of giraffes were brought across the Atlantic from Africa to New York, destined for the then-growing San Diego Zoo. The story is of their journey across the United States in the care of two oh-so-different people, both with a mission.

Could hardly put down Krueger’s book, This Tender Land: A Novel. Tells the harrowing story of a young boy, Odie, (and his brother Albert) who became orphans back in the 30s. At first there is a boarding school, part of an Indian (Native American) agreement, though they are not Indian. They escape, and they are “on the run.”

Just finished Kristin Hannah’s latest book, The Four Winds: A Novel. What a story. One I’ve never read about, although I certainly have heard about the “dust bowl” years when there was a steady migration of down-and-out farmers from the Midwest, to California, for what they hoped to be the American Dream. It tells the story of one particular family, the Martinellis, the grandparents, their son, his wife, and their two children.

Also finished reading Sue Monk Kidd’s recent book, The Book of Longings: A Novel. It is a book that might challenge some Christian readers, as it tells the tale of Jesus marrying a woman named Mary. I loved the book from the first word to the last one. The book is believable to me, even though the Bible never says one way or the other that Jesus ever married. It’s been presumed he never did. But maybe he did?

Jeanine Cummins has written an eye-opener, American Dirt. A must read. Oh my goodness. I will never, ever, ever look at Mexican (and further southern) migrants, particularly those who are victims of the vicious cartels, without sympathy. It tells the story of a woman and her young son, who were lucky enough to hide when the cartel murdered every member of her family – her husband, her mother, and many others. It’s about her journey and escape to America.

Also read JoJo Moyes’ book, The Giver of Stars. Oh gosh, what a GREAT book. Alice joins the Horseback Librarians in the rural south.

Frances Liardet has written a blockbuster tale, We Must Be Brave. I can’t recommend this book highly enough. Although the scene is WWII England, this book is not really about the war. It’s about the people at home, waiting it out, struggling with enough food, clothing and enough heat.

William Kent Krueger wrote Ordinary Grace. From amazon: a brilliantly moving account of a boy standing at the door of his young manhood, trying to understand a world that seems to be falling apart around him. It is an unforgettable novel about discovering the terrible price of wisdom and the enduring grace of God. It’s a coming of age story.

A Column of Fire: A Novel by Ken Follett. It takes place in the 1500s, in England, and has everything to do with the war between the Catholics and the Protestants, that raged throughout Europe during that time, culminating in the Spanish Inquisition.

My Name Is Resolute by Nancy Turner. She’s the author of another book of some renown, These is my Words:

The Shepherd’s Life: Modern Dispatches from an Ancient Landscape by James Rebanks. This is a memoir, so a true story, of a young man growing up in the Lake District of Northern England, who becomes a shepherd. Not just any-old shepherd – actually a well educated one. He knows how to weave a story.

 

Tasting Spoons

My blog's namesake - small, old and some very dented engraved silver plated tea spoons that belonged to my mother-in-law, and I use them to taste my food as I'm cooking.

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Posted in Salad Dressings, Salads, on September 13th, 2021.

What a beautiful summer bounty. 

A post from Carolyn. Following Ree Drummond’s recipe for this wasn’t quite going to work for me – – as I needed to change in/out a few things. Believe it or not, I couldn’t find green beans that day. Really? So asparagus had to work. Salmon I bought at Costco, multi-colored cherry tomatoes I had; hard boiled eggs are always in my frig as well as Kalamata olives. And Romaine too. All I did was change the salad dressing from Ree’s bottled dressing with a few add-ins, to one of my favorite Caesar dressings, the Caesar Caper Parmesan that uses mayo as the base. That recipe came from Phillis Carey, many, many years ago. Only thing I did this time was add a tetch of anchovy paste, which amped-up the full-bodied garlicky flavor of the dressing.

What fun I had making this. I’d invited four women who used to work for me, decades ago, at the ad agency I co-owned. I’d been part of the hiring of each of them, and one of my jobs, always, was training new hires. We also FaceTime(d) with another one who currently lives in Arizona, and it had been about 20 years since I’d been in touch with her. We told so many stories, shared so many laughs. It was a warm day and serving a salad was a given. I’d watched Pioneer Woman make a similar one. So I used her base recipe as the start.

For me, I prepped most of the ingredients the day before – the asparagus, the hard boiled eggs, the tomatoes, even the Romaine lettuce that I carefully cut into 1/3-cut wedges. I made the dressing, cooked the potatoes (although you’ll notice, I forgot to put them on the platter – geez!), chopped the Italian parsley. The day of – an hour or so before – I roasted the salmon. It’s put onto a baking sheet lined with foil, sprayed with EVOO, salt and pepper and baked for a mere 10 minutes at 425°F. Once cooled, I forked it into small to mid-sized flakes.

Digging out the largest platter I own (it’s really big, usually used for Thanksgiving turkey) I began composing the salad. I placed the Romaine down first, then began adding the colorful parts around the sides, with salmon at one end and eggs at the other. Then I plopped globs of dressing down the center of the Romaine and sprinkled it all with Italian parsley. Done. What this salad isn’t is a true Nicoise, which must contain green beans, and usually uses canned tuna (you can order Nicoise at most French cafes any day of the week). And potatoes are included, plus some kind of Mediterranean olive, usually Kalamata, but could be other types too. And it’s usually done with a vinaigrette of some kind. Not Caesar.

Same salad, this time with ahi tuna, seared quickly, green beans, asparagus, hard boiled eggs, more tomatoes plus  avocadoes. 

This salad was a real winner. For sure. The picture above is the same meal, but made with  ahi tuna – very quickly seared with just a little rub of EVOO, salt and pepper. Since this was a dinner, I used halved Romaine hearts (for a bit more lettuce on each serving). This time I did have green beans, and I had sufficient salad dressing left over to serve it. No potatoes since I try to do less carbs. It made for another lovely, colorful platter of food which was almost all polished off in one sitting. The tiny bit of leftovers I had for lunch the next day. Yum. I bought one pound of fresh ahi, seared it in my stovetop grill pan for about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes per side, then sliced thinly with a very sharp straight-edged knife.

What’s GOOD: everything about this was good, in my book. The dressing was perfect for the lively flavors (salmon or ahi, tomatoes, Kalamata olives, even asparagus). Loved how beautiful the platter came out – it’s a stunner! Most everything can be done the day before which makes for easy plating.

What’s NOT: does require a moderate amount of prep work (cooking green beans or asparagus, potatoes, hard boiled eggs, even the salmon (the ahi was extra-simple to do), also cutting the tomatoes, pitting olives if you need to do that – I buy pitted ones – and carefully cutting the Romaine into 1/3 wedges), packaging everything up until the right moment to plate and serve. But worth the trouble. Everything except the salmon (or ahi) and cutting avocadoes can be done the day ahead.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook file (click link to open recipe)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Salmon Nicoise Caesar

Recipe By: Adapted from Ree Drummond, Pioneer Woman
Serving Size: 4

12 ounces Yukon gold potatoes — baby sized, traditional, but optional
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 ounces green beans — or asparagus
1 pound salmon fillet — skinned (can also be made with seared ahi tuna)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 lemon — zested and juiced
3/4 cup Caesar Caper Parmesan Dressing (below)
2 hearts Romaine lettuce — whole, cut in third/wedges and cored
4 hard-boiled eggs — cooled, peeled and halved
2 cups cherry tomatoes — halved lengthways
1/4 cup Kalamata olives — or other Mediterranean olive of your choice
1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese — grated, for garnish
parsley leaves — for garnish
CAESAR CAPER PARM DRESSING:
4 whole garlic cloves
1 cup mayonnaise — Best Foods
2 1/2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon capers — heaping, drained
1/4 teaspoon anchovy paste — or more if you like the flavor
2 1/2 tablespoons EVOO
1 1/4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/4 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 1/4 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1. Boil the potatoes in a pot of salted water until tender, about 10 minutes, then halve and set aside to cool.
2, Cook the green beans or asparagus in a small pot of boiling salted water for 2-4 minutes, then remove and plunge into ice water. Drain and pat dry. Set aside.
3. Preheat the oven to 425°F and line a baking sheet with foil. Put the salmon on the prepared baking sheet, skin-side down. Brush with the olive oil and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Bake until cooked through, about 10 minutes. Squeeze the juice of the lemon over the salmon and set aside to cool slightly, then flake into large chunks with a fork.
4. Make the dressing: Combine all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl – start with the anchovy paste to make sure it is dispersed, then mix well.
6. Arrange the Romaine wedges in the middle of a very large platter. Group the green beans, eggs, potatoes, tomatoes, olives and salmon on top and around the lettuces. Spoon globs of the dressing on the Romaine wedges. Garnish with Parmesan and parsley leaves. Serve with more dressing at the table.
Per Serving (assumes you use all the dressing): 704 Calories; 38g Fat (47.0% calories from fat); 42g Protein; 55g Carbohydrate; 17g Dietary Fiber; 284mg Cholesterol; 776mg Sodium; 18g Total Sugars; 1mcg Vitamin D; 319mg Calcium; 10mg Iron; 2444mg Potassium; 667mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Salads, on May 8th, 2021.

A lovely, very curry-centric green salad with chicken, fat glossy grapes, fresh asparagus and toasted pine nuts

To digress just a little bit – the blog has now been “migrated,” they call it, to a different platform, and I won’t be getting any of those overage charges. Whew. I’ve lost sleep over this whole thing. So stressful. Mostly the hard work is done now, although I still need to figure out the email subscriptions and some other things. I was shocked to discover that 487 of you have subscribed to the blog. Wow. Thank you, friends and readers! The subscription function doesn’t work the same on this platform, so soon I’ll be adding email subscriptions (in the background) and you may get some kind of email asking you to authorize it. Don’t know about that, as I haven’t delved into it deeply enough yet. And the window where readers input an email address (on the home page) doesn’t function correctly, so I’ve got to figure this out. There are several other things I’m not able to access or accomplish, but hopefully I’ll get it figured out eventually. Need to understand it well enough so I can teach Karen and Sara how to do it too.

So, on to salads. Last weekend I went out to the condo in the desert (Palm Desert) to spend the weekend with daughter Sara and her husband John, and son Powell, his wife Karen and their son, Vaughan. We had a busy weekend, with them visiting an air museum in Palm Springs, and another day all of them going out into the deep desert to go shooting at targets. Not my thing, so I stayed home and did some cooking. We went out to a nice restaurant one night, cooked burgers another (with birthday cake for two family members). It was beastly hot, unfortunately (unseasonably), but we still enjoyed being together as a family. Do note, the new photo on the sidebar of the blog. New picture of the three of us.

When Karen and family arrived it was 106° outside. It was nice and cool inside, thank goodness, so I’d made this salad. Originally, the recipe came from Kalyn’s Kitchen, but I did a lot of tweaking of the recipe itself, adding other ingredients to both the salad and the dressing.

First off, I had really huge chicken breasts, so I poached them – really I steeped them. I mixed orange juice and water, with some salt and pepper, brought it to a boil, slid in the chicken, brought it back up to a simmer, covered it, turned off the heat and let it steep (like tea) for an hour. The chicken was fully cooked, and so very tender and juicy. Once cooled, I cut the chicken into cubes and bite-sized pieces. The dressing I’d made ahead, but I’d added some vinegar (my Meyer lemons were too sweet, so thought the dressing needed a bit more acid), some EVOO too. I tossed the salad with the grape halves, arugula, Romaine and also the asparagus I’d cooked earlier and chilled. The toasted pine nuts sprinkled on the top made for nice texture too. The picture above doesn’t do it justice, really. The family thought the salad was well worth blogging about.

What’s GOOD: lovely for a warm summer’s evening, tender juicy chicken, powerful curry dressing (if you aren’t enamored with curry, either eliminate it or reduce the quantity of curry powder), and the texture from the asparagus, grapes and pine nuts.

What’s NOT: only that there are several steps (steeping the chicken, cooking the asparagus and the other general prep).

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Curried Chicken Salad with Asparagus, Red Grapes and Pine Nuts

Recipe By: My adaptation of a Kalyn’s Kitchen recipe
Servings: 6

1 pound asparagus spears — trimmed and cut into diagonal 2 inch pieces
1 whole lemon — (zest the skin and squeeze the juice)
3 large chicken breasts without skin — to yield about 4 cups
1 cup orange juice — mixed with 2 cups water
1 cup green onion — sliced
1/2 cup pine nuts — toasted
1 cup red grapes — halved
salt and fresh-ground black pepper to taste
2 cups arugula — or more if needed
3 cups romaine lettuce — chopped or torn, or more if needed
DRESSING:
5 tablespoons Greek yogurt, full-fat — may substitute sour cream or buttermilk
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons EVOO
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice — or more if desired
1 tablespoon curry powder
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons white vinegar — or more lemon juice
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1.  Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.  Cut off woody ends of asparagus.  Cut asparagus on the diagonal into pieces and then cook in salted water for 3 minutes.  Do not overcook – you want the asparagus to be tender-crisp.
2.  Zest the lemon then cut lemon in half and squeeze the juice.  Set aside.
3.  In another saucepan, combine the orange juice and water.  Season liquid with a sprinkling of salt and pepper.  Bring to a simmer.  Gently slide the chicken breasts into the water.  Cover, bring the water back to a simmer, and remove from the heat.  Set pan aside for about 45 minutes to 1 hour.  The chicken will have poached/cooked during that time.  Remove chicken, drain, allow to cool.  Discard the cooking water.  Cut chicken into small bite-sized pieces.  You may also use any leftover chicken or rotisserie chicken for this salad.
4.  Whisk together yogurt, mayo, lemon juice, curry powder, Dijon mustard, EVOO, vinegar (or more lemon juice) lemon zest and sea salt to make the curry dressing.  Taste for seasoning.
5.  Drain asparagus into a colander.  Then lay out a paper towel on the counter and spread out the asparagus on the towel.  Cover with another paper towel and gently blot away as much water as possible.
6.  Slice green onions on the diagonal and toast the pine nuts.
7.  Combine diced chicken, asparagus, green onions, grapes, arugula and Romaine with desired amount of dressing; you may not need all the dressing if you prefer your salads to be fairly dry.  Gently stir in the green onion and grapes.  Season the finished salad to taste with salt and fresh-ground black pepper, and serve, sprinkling the toasted pine nuts all over the top of the salad.  If you have any extra dressing you might want to add a bit more right when you serve the salad.  If you prefer, you can leave the asparagus whole, and serve the spears on top of the salad – with the toasted pine nuts – for a pretty appearance.
Per Serving: 411 Calories; 20g Fat (43.5% calories from fat); 37g Protein; 23g Carbohydrate; 6g Dietary Fiber; 107mg Cholesterol; 285mg Sodium; 13g Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 103mg Calcium; 5mg Iron; 1183mg Potassium; 458mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Salads, Veggies/sides, on March 12th, 2021.

jamie_deens_green_bean_salad

Just lovely. So tasty.

Make this. It’s not that hard – although you do have to cut up tomatoes, toast the almonds, and shake together a very simple vinegar/oil combo, mince some fresh basil, red onion, and mince a clove of garlic. But that’s all. Get everything ready ahead of time – then cook the green beans in salted water. Drain them, dry them a bit, then toss them with the dressing.

The recipe comes from Jamie Deen, Paula’s son. Since I had green beans in my frig, and I had red onion – well, I had all the ingredients. The almonds toasted in my toaster oven for about 5 minutes. I went out into my garden and grabbed a nice little sprig of basil, I shook up the red wine vinegar, EVOO and garlic in a jar and let it sit for about 10 minutes. The beans were drained, I rinsed them well under cold water, then to cool to room temp (within about 10 minutes). I put the green beans in the little dish (pictured above) and added the vinaigrette and used my hands to mix it well. A little salt and pepper were added, then I piled on the tomatoes, goat cheese (his recipe called for feta, but I’m in a rut with crumbled goat cheese). Nuts sprinkled on top, the basil and it was ready to eat.

green_bean_salad_jamie_deenTruly, I could have eaten that whole dish full of them, they were that good. But I didn’t. I started with about 1/2 pound of beans, so I have enough for another day. If you’re not going to eat them all in one sitting, don’t put the dressing on the beans as the acid in the vinegar turns the beans kind of gray-ish. Not very pleasing to look at, although the taste isn’t impaired at all. This would make a lovely company side dish – it could easily go on a picnic, and can be assembled at the last minute at someone else’s home. Versatile. Just package everything separately.

What’s GOOD: everything about these were so tasty. Loved the vinaigrette. None of the flavors overwhelmed – just enough of everything. And did I mention how pretty the finished dish is? Gorgeous. Make more than you need so you can have leftovers  – although as I mentioned above, keep everything separate until ready to toss and serve.

What’s NOT: nothing, other than needing to do some prep work.

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Green Bean Salad – Jamie Deen

Recipe By: Food Network – Jamie Deen
Serving Size: 5

salt to season the water
1 pound green beans — use slender ones, if available, ends trimmed
1 cup goat cheese — crumbled, or feta
1 cup cherry tomatoes — sliced in half
2 tablespoons red onion — minced
1/2 cup slivered almonds — toasted
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 large clove garlic — minced
Freshly ground black pepper

1. Boil a large pot of water with a generous amount of salt added. Add the green beans and cook until tender crisp, 1 to 4 minutes. Drain and remove to a bowl of ice water. Or rinse well under cold tap water.
2. Allow to rest for about 10 minutes, pat dry and place the beans in a large bowl.
3. In small jar combine red wine vinegar and oil, then add garlic. Shake. Set aside.
3. Pour the dressing over the green beans and toss well. Sprinkle with the toasted almonds. Add the goat or feta cheese, tomatoes and red onions. Garnish with slivered fresh basil.
Per Serving: 344 Calories; 28g Fat (71.4% calories from fat); 15g Protein; 11g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 37mg Cholesterol; 205mg Sodium; 5g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 211mg Calcium; 2mg Iron; 431mg Potassium; 275mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Salads, on February 2nd, 2021.

mixed_lettuce_snap_pea_salad

Nice, refreshing salad with Meyer lemons.

We had a gathering at my house a week or so ago, finally celebrating Christmas with my two families who live here in Southern California. All done outside except for some food prep. My son Powell brought a beautiful, big smoked ham he’d done in his fancy barbecue. I made Ina Garten’s zucchini gratin, a favorite of mine. We had a casserole of smashed sweet potatoes, and then I made this salad. Karen brought some fresh strawberries that could be dipped in crème fraiche and brown sugar, and I’d put out a big cheese platter ahead of time.

meyer_lemon_cream_dressingAn entire package of sugar snap peas is in that salad, above, but I don’t think you can see a single one of them in the picture . . . but they’re there. And there are more lemons than I thought, but each serving maybe had two slices of them (halved). I used a combination of Romaine lettuce and baby spinach. Then tons of radishes (an entire bunch) were added too. But the crown of the recipe is the lemon cream dressing. It starts with a minced shallot, then Meyer lemon juice, EVOO, salt, pepper, and lastly, a big glug of heavy cream. The dressing made enough to dress two big salads, so I used it on my dinner salad for a few days. Taste the dressing with a leaf of lettuce – if you think it’s too tart, add another little jot of EVOO. The recipe came from Sunset Magazine some years ago.0

All of the salad could be made ahead and tossed at the last minute. And it could easily be taken to someone else’s home and assembled there.

What’s GOOD: the lemony flavored tart dressing. I actually enjoyed eating the little thin wedges of lemon too. It made a very pretty salad with lots of crunch (from the sugar snaps and radishes) and the dressing was just lovely. Definitely I’d make this again. Loved the mint in the salad too. Such a nice addition to salads.

What’s NOT: nothing, really. I might put in even more radishes and sugar snaps next time.

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Lettuce Snap Pea Salad with Meyer Lemon Cream

Recipe By: Sunset 1/15
Serving Size: 6

1 whole Meyer lemon
1 1/4 pounds lettuce — mixed types, ends trimmed; or use 10 oz. salad mix
1 cup sugar snap peas — thinly sliced on a diagonal
3/4 cup radishes — thinly sliced
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves — torn into small pieces
DRESSING:
2 tablespoons shallot — finely minced
1/4 cup Meyer lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt — divided
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil — plus 2 tbsp.
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream

1. Very thinly slice lemon crosswise, using a handheld slicer and removing seeds with a knife tip as you go. Discard ends. If the lemon is large, you may only use half the lemon. Cut lemon slices in half.
2. Toss lettuces in a large bowl with about 1/2 cup dressing. Add snap peas, radishes, and a little more dressing and toss again. Arrange salad on chilled plates and tuck in lemon slices and mint. Serve with more dressing if you like.
3. DRESSING: To a jar add shallot, lemon juice, and 1/4 tsp. salt and let stand 5 minutes. Add oil, then cover and shake well. Add in 1/2 tsp. more salt, 1/8 tsp. pepper, and the cream. Taste and add more salt, pepper or EVOO (if it tastes too tart) if you like. Shake before using. Make ahead: up to 3 days, chilled.
Per Serving (you don’t use all the dressing on this salad above, so calorie count is way too high): 236 Calories; 23g Fat (84.3% calories from fat); 3g Protein; 7g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 15mg Cholesterol; 334mg Sodium; 3g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 74mg Calcium; 2mg Iron; 346mg Potassium; 55mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Salad Dressings, Salads, on November 3rd, 2020.

spinach_cabbage_herb_slaw

What a super salad! Perfect for a barbecue. It’s kind of a mixture between a green (spinach) salad and a cabbage (slaw) salad. Note the cashews, halved red grapes and the grilled pineapple on top?

A couple of weeks ago my son and his wife invited me to their house for a Saturday dinner. Powell was smoking a whole beef brisket. I didn’t want to miss out on that. The last time he prepared a smoked brisket, Karen sent me home with a big chunk of the brisket and I made a recipe that’s a favorite in her family (and now for me, too) for Smoked Brisket Chili. Oh my goodness was that something special. So I made this salad to go along with the meal.

The recipe came from a cooking class more than 2 years ago with Phillis Carey. I don’t know why I hadn’t posted it before – for whatever reason I didn’t have a picture of this salad from back then. I’ve modified the recipe just a tad – I didn’t have bean sprouts (none at the market when I shopped), didn’t have green onions, either, because I forgot to buy them. Everything else I had – and since I’d purchased a big, beautiful fresh pineapple, I grilled it (stovetop) and chopped up some of it in the salad, and most of it we had as dessert.

I made the dressing the night before (it’s easy as long as you have the oranges – – I used OJ concentrate, diluted correctly — and fresh limes). I used EVOO in the dressing, so it needs to sit out at room temp to warm up and homogenize correctly – otherwise the oil sits on top. Be sure to mix it well before pouring over the salad. I was a bit startled at how much the cashews cost – I think I bought about a cup of them from a bin-type dispenser, and they were nearly $4.00. Wow. Really? You could easily use almonds in this, or even peanuts. I expect they’d be cheaper than these dear cashews! The herbs are fresh mint and cilantro. Lots of both. And of course, the fresh spinach. I ended up adding a little bit more cabbage to this salad, so the recipe has been altered to change the little things I did differently. Everything can be prepared ahead of time, except for tossing it.

You don’t want to let this sit – the citrus juices will wilt the spinach and herbs – so if you happen to make a big portion of this – only put out in the salad bowl what you think you’ll eat, no left overs. The dressing amount makes more than you’ll need – but I’m happy to have some leftover dressing for a salad on another day. I won’t have any cashews or grilled pineapple, but everything else I do have on hand now.

What’s GOOD: everything about this salad was wonderful. My son said this was, by far, his most favorite slaw he’s ever had. Nearly everyone at the table had seconds, so I’m glad I made salad for 8 people (there were 6 of us). We ate it all.

What’s NOT: only that you might not have everything on hand to make this. You can eliminate the pineapple (it wasn’t in the original) but I really liked that addition.

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Spinach, Cabbage and Fresh Herb Slaw with Spicy Ginger-Citrus Dressing

Recipe By: Adapted from Phillis Carey
Serving Size: 6

DRESSING: (makes about twice what is needed for the salad)
1 cup fresh orange juice
1 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup avocado oil — or grapeseed oil
2 tablespoons serrano chile — minced
4 teaspoons fresh ginger — minced
SLAW:
4 cups fresh spinach — shredded
4 cups cabbage — green type, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups red grapes — halved
1 1/2 cups bean sprouts — optional
1 cup sugar snap peas — julienned or snow peas
1 cup red onion — thinly sliced, acidulated
1/2 cup green onions — julienned
3 cups fresh pineapple — grilled, chopped (optional)
6 tablespoons fresh mint — chopped
6 tablespoons fresh cilantro — chopped
2/3 cup cashews — salted, toasted, for garnish

Note: How to acidulate onions: Soak red onion in cold water to cover with about a tablespoon of vinegar – soak for 10 minutes to take away the sharp, raw taste.
1. DRESSING: Whisk together orange juice, lime juice, brown sugar, soy sauce and salt in a medium bowl until sugar dissolves. Whisk in oil or shake all in a jar. Stir in serrano chile and ginger. Cover and refrigerate up to 24 hours.
2. SALAD: Mix all vegetables, grapes, pineapple and herbs in a large bowl. Toss with dressing and serve with cashews sprinkled on top. Serve immediately. This slaw won’t keep, so dress only the amount of salad you’ll eat at that meal.
Per Serving: 517 Calories; 30g Fat (49.1% calories from fat); 9g Protein; 61g Carbohydrate; 7g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 142mg Sodium; 41g Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 126mg Calcium; 5mg Iron; 905mg Potassium; 252mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Salads, Veggies/sides, on October 1st, 2020.

shaved_carrot_salad_poppy_seeds

An easy something-different, colorful side salad.

You may remember at least a month ago I mentioned that on September 1st, I was going to dig into my big plastic storage bin and bring out my fall décor, no matter that the temperatures here in SoCal are still hovering around 90 nearly every day and our state is being ravaged by wildfires. And I did get out the plates and décor. So the plate the carrots are resting upon are my fall/pumpkin plates that I’ve been using all month. I simply love this set of plates I bought at Williams-Sonoma last fall. They were on sale, so they weren’t as “dear” as they could have been. I’ll use them through Thanksgiving, then they’ll get put away and I’ll bring out my old Christmas set. Albeit I may be spending the holidays alone. Hope not, but all depends on Covid.

Anyway, when I had read the recipe for this carrot salad it just sounded different and relatively easy. I don’t buy big, honkin’ carrots anymore, but I get the smaller ones, so my “ribbons” weren’t quite as big as they might have been. But that makes no difference in the taste or texture. The carrot strips are tossed with salt and microwaved briefly – just until crisp-tender. Do NOT overcook them or you’ll lose the whole point of making this salad. Poppy seeds are toasted – let me just say that it’s kind of hard to determine that poppy seeds are toasted, unless there happen to be some white ones in the mix – and even then it was difficult. You’re not toasting them for color, merely for the toasted flavor. I don’t think I’ve ever in my cooking life toasted poppy seeds. Have you?

The dressing is made in the same saucepan you used for the poppy seeds, then that’s poured over the carrots and tossed. Once cool, you add the poppy seeds and parsley. Done. There is no reason this couldn’t be made hours ahead. I made a smaller batch and had enough for two servings, and it was fine the 2nd day.

What’s GOOD: loved the colorful quality, and enjoyed the just barely crisp tender texture. The lemon juice and EVOO dressing was lovely with the moderate hint of garlic. I couldn’t really taste the star anise. It was delicious altogether. Nice for guests, or a picnic too.

What’s NOT: only that  you do have to prep the carrots – not difficult. Even children who are safe with a vegetable peeler could do that part. You need to use a Y-shape peeler for this, in order to get the wide ribbons.

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Shaved Carrot Salad with Poppy Seeds and Parsley

Recipe By: Milk St. Magazine
Serving Size: 5

1 1/2 pounds carrots — peeled (about 4-5 large)
3/4 teaspoon salt — or more if needed
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1/4 cup EVOO
2 medium garlic cloves — peeled, smashed
2 whole star anise
1/4 cup lemon juice — or more as needed
1 teaspoon sugar — or substitute
1/2 cup flat leaf parsley — chopped

1. Using Y-style vegetable peeler or mandoline, shave carrots from top to bottom into long, wide ribbons, rotating carrot as you go. If using smaller carrots it may be easier to go from bottom to top. Discard cores. Place ribbons in a large microwave-safe bowl and toss with 3/4 tsp salt. Cover and microwave on high until crisp-tender. Depending on the thickness of the carrots, this may be 1 1/2 to 3 or up to 5 minutes total. Stir once during cooking time and taste – don’t overcook. Set aside, uncovered, leaving any juices in the bowl.
2. In a small saucepan over medium heat, toast poppy seeds until they are darkened just slightly, about 2 minutes. Transfer to small bowl and set aside. In the same saucepan over medium heat add oil, garlic, and star anise, stirring occasionally, until the garlic begins to brown on the edges, 1-2 minutes. Reduce heat to low, add lemon juice and sugar, then whisk occasionally until sugar dissolves. Cook for about 3 minutes. Remove and discard (spoon out) the garlic and star anise.
3. Pour warm dressing over the carrots and toss. Let stand for 15 minutes. Add poppy seeds and parsley, then toss again. Taste and season with salt, sugar or more lemon juice as needed. Transfer to serving bowl and add more parsley as garnish.
Per Serving: 173 Calories; 12g Fat (59.5% calories from fat); 2g Protein; 16g Carbohydrate; 5g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 446mg Sodium; 8g Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 86mg Calcium; 1mg Iron; 511mg Potassium; 72mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Chicken, Salads, on September 25th, 2020.

chicken_salad_grapes_dill

Maybe I’m bored with my own cooking of late. Decided to do something outside the box.

As I’ve mentioned many times here, most days I have soup (laden with lots of veggies) for lunch. But you probably heard earlier this month here in SoCal, the temps were in the 100s. One day it was 108 here at my house. Even though I have AC in my house (thank you, Lord!) I could still feel hot around the edges. I didn’t want hot soup, and the soup I had in the frig wasn’t one that could be eaten cold. So I decided to fix myself an open faced sandwich. I didn’t even have leftover chicken – so I used canned chicken. I do that sometimes when I’m not wanting to cook a chicken breast. Costco’s canned chicken is very good, if you’ve never tried it.

These days, with the pandemic still keeping me at home (oh, I’m so very tired of it), I don’t always have food items I need to make something new. So I used what I had and created a chicken salad and served it atop a nice wheat type thin slice of toast, some sliced avocado (hidden under the greenery) and with arugula. So, I thought about what I could do to make this salad different. Well, I had dill. Good, that would work. I had almonds in the freezer, so that was easy, although I didn’t toast them (it was just too hot even to turn on the toaster oven). I combined the chicken, Best Foods mayo, some minutely diced celery, lemon juice, a minced up green onion, some red grapes that I diced up (optional) and then I threw in a heaping tablespoon of mango chutney. That chutney was just the ticket. It added that slight bit of sweetness and flavor variation that I was seeking. I had enough to make this sandwich three times, although only the first time did I use the toast and avocados.

It took me very few minutes to make the salad, toast the bread, slice the avocado, chop up the arugula, mince the dill, and it was done. Don’t add salt until after you’ve tasted it – the mayo has some already – so I didn’t add any, though I did grind in some pepper.

What’s GOOD: very easy and quick to make. The mango chutney was the surprise flavor here, and I really liked it. The dill was another flavor profile I enjoyed. I don’t suppose this recipe will win any county fair prizes, but it was just the answer to my wish for something easy and different.

What’s NOT: well, during a pandemic, you might not have all the ingredients. I always keep Major Gray’s mango chutney in my refrigerator – it virtually keeps forever, and the other ingredients were all staples, except for the dill. I wish I could grow dill at my house, but it’s always too hot. This sandwich isn’t low calorie – I was kind of surprised when I looked at the nutrition count. Must be the mayonnaise!

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Chicken Salad – for open faced sandwich

Recipe By: My own combo, 2020
Serving Size: 3

CHICKEN MIXTURE:
1 1/4 cups cooked chicken — chopped
1/3 cup mayonnaise — Best Foods
1 tablespoon lemon juice — or more to taste
2 tablespoons red grapes — chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons mango chutney
1/4 cup celery — minced
1 tablespoon fresh dill — chopped
1 whole green onion — diced
freshly ground pepper to taste
2 tablespoons sliced almonds
SANDWICH:
3 slices whole grain bread — toasted
1 avocado — thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups arugula — chopped
3 sprigs fresh dill — for garnish
2 tablespoons sliced almonds — for garnish

1. In a bowl combine all the chicken salad ingredients, reserving some of the almonds. Taste for seasoning. It may not need salt, but pepper for sure.
2. Place toast on individual plates, add avocado slices, mound arugula next, then spoon the chicken salad on top. Garnish with additional almond slices, and a sprig of dill.
Per Serving: 490 Calories; 24g Fat (43.5% calories from fat); 38g Protein; 32g Carbohydrate; 8g Dietary Fiber; 89mg Cholesterol; 406mg Sodium; 6g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 120mg Calcium; 3mg Iron; 817mg Potassium; 378mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Salad Dressings, Salads, on May 27th, 2020.

crunchy_asian_cabbage_salad_chicken

A great way to get a Chinese chicken salad but without the carbs.

Before Mother’s Day, my daughter Sara drove to my house, and we visited. Albeit, shelter-in-place style. We sat outside (without masks, but 6 feet apart). I made lattes for each of us and we just visited. SO nice. SO fun. So needed. I was just sorry I couldn’t hug her!

I made a salad for us to enjoy outside for lunch (it was a lovely day). I started with a recipe from Kalyn’s Kitchen. But I veered off a little bit from her recipe – I wanted chicken, and I added a few other ingredients, and used some different proportions of things also. Technically, it’s not a “pure” Chinese chicken salad. It’s got asparagus in it and arugula. But during this shelter-in-place, we use what we have, right?

crunchy_asian_salad_chicken_dressingThe dressing starts with mayo – but then you add in a little sugar or sweetener, white wine vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, freshly grated ginger, mashed-up garlic and a bit of Sriracha. Oh, that dressing is wonderful. I’m sorry I didn’t make more! I recommend you make DOUBLE of it, use what you need for this salad, and keep the rest for another day.

Taste the salad as you add the dressing – it might need a bit more. Then serve on plates and sprinkle the top with sliced almonds (I should have toasted them – forgot). And don’t forget the cilantro garnish too – to me that’s an essential ingredient in any semblance of a Chinese chicken salad. It’s in the salad itself, but you can add more as a garnish also.

What’s GOOD: loved everything about it – the crunchiness of the cabbage, all the different textures. And loved-loved the dressing. As I mentioned – make double so you can use it on another salad a day or two later. No crunchy won ton strips on this, unfortunately, but I didn’t miss them. There’s very little sesame oil in this, but it adds a lovely flavor.

What’s NOT: nothing at all.

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Crunchy Cabbage Asian Slaw with Chicken

Recipe By: Adapted from Kalyn’s Kitchen
Serving Size: 4

4 cups Napa cabbage — thinly sliced then coarsely chopped
1 cup sugar snap peas — ends trimmed, sliced
1/2 cup radishes — sliced into half-moon shapes
1/3 cup green onion — sliced
1/2 cup cilantro — chopped
2 cups cooked chicken — cubed
1 cup fresh asparagus — steamed and cooled
3 cups arugula — chopped
1/2 cup sliced almonds — toasted, for garnish
1/4 cup cilantro — for garnish
ASIAN MAYO DRESSING:
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Monkfruit sweetener — or sugar or honey
2 teaspoons soy sauce — low sodium if possible
1 teaspoon garlic — smashed and minced
1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon grated ginger root
1/2 teaspoon Sriracha sauce
1/3 cup mayonnaise
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. Thinly slice Napa cabbage, then coarsely chop. Add to a large bowl.
2. Add sugar snap peas, radishes, green onion, cilantro, asparagus, chicken and arugula.
3. DRESSING: In a bowl or glass measuring cup stir together the white wine vinegar, sweetener, soy sauce, garlic, sesame oil, ginger puree, and Sriracha sauce. Whisk in the mayo until ingredients are well combined.
4. Toss salad ingredients, add enough dressing to coat ingredients, and toss again. Add salt and pepper to taste.
10. Toast the sliced almonds in a dry pan over high heat for 1-2 minutes (just until the nuts are fragrant). Add almonds as a garnish to the salad. Add more cilantro on top if desired.
Per Serving: 432 Calories; 30g Fat (59.1% calories from fat); 30g Protein; 17g Carbohydrate; 5g Dietary Fiber; 66mg Cholesterol; 370mg Sodium.

Posted in Salads, Vegetarian, on March 25th, 2020.

veg_sheetpan_bowl_arugula_wh_beans

A great combo of flavors – all tasty by themselves, but tossed with a light balsamic dressing, it takes it to a tastier level.

When this veggie bowl was served to me I was certain I wasn’t going to care for it. I was at a cooking class, and often this instructor includes a vegetarian entrée at her classes. Then I took a bite, and decided it was really quite wonderful. I don’t eat very many beans (carbs) and I definitely don’t eat hardly any potatoes, either (more carbs) so I ate a bite or two of those things and devoured the rest of the bowl. It’s the dressing that pulls it all together.

Truly, I love sheetpan dinners – and this one is very easy – it’s just done in stages – pine nuts first (and removed), then potatoes and garlic, and zucchini last. Meanwhile, you make up the dressing – adding the roasted garlic to it once you take the sheetpan out of the oven. The arugula adds a lovely texture to this – making it equally a salad rather than just roasted vegetables, and as I mentioned, the dressing just enhances it all. When I make it myself, I’ll probably use sweet potatoes since they are healthier for me.

I’ve adjusted the recipe to use fewer potatoes (and added the sweet potato option). Do chop up the arugula – if it’s mature arugula it can be quite unruly to eat – easier to eat if chopped. The cold halved tomatoes also add a nice textural contrast. Making it for myself I’d add more zucchini and fewer beans, but that’s totally up to you. I don’t think you can buy half cans of cannellini beans!

What’s GOOD: for me the dressing brought all the various ingredients together and made it more of a salad than a sheetpan dinner, exactly. Loved the dressing element. Liked the contrast using chopped arugula and fresh tomatoes.

What’s NOT: only that it helps to have everything out and ready when you start – you make this in stages, but still, all on one pan. Yeah!

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 file (click link to open recipe)

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Sheetpan Veggie Bowl with Cannellini Beans and Arugula

Recipe By: Cooking class with Susan V, 2/2020
Serving Size: 4

1/4 cup pine nuts
1 1/4 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes — cut into 1-inch cubes (or substitute sweet potatoes)
4 cloves garlic — unpeeled
1/4 cup olive oil — divided
3/4 teaspoon salt — divided
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper — divided
2 zucchini — quartered and cut into 1-inch slices
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
15 ounces canned cannellini beans — drained and rinsed
3 cups baby arugula — chopped
1 cup grape tomatoes — halved

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200 degrees C).
2. Spread pine nuts on a sheetpan; roast until golden and fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool.
3. Place potatoes and garlic on the sheetpan. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Bake 20 minutes. Add zucchini and rosemary, toss, then continue roasting until vegetables are tender and browned, about 20 minutes. Let cool about 5-10 minutes.
4. Squeeze roasted garlic out of its skin into a small bowl, mashing it slightly with a fork. Add remaining 2 tablespoons oil, balsamic vinegar, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper; whisk to combine.
5. Toss roasted potatoes and zucchini in a large bowl with beans, chopped arugula, tomatoes, and dressing. Serve in bowls sprinkled with toasted pine nuts.
Per Serving: 670 Calories; 19g Fat (25.0% calories from fat); 32g Protein; 97g Carbohydrate; 20g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 436mg Sodium.

Posted in Salads, on December 27th, 2019.

cabbage_kale_radishes_buttermilk_dressing

Such a refreshing salad, and so low calorie it hardly counts. Yet it’s got great taste.

This is a salad that’s already in my repertoire, and was posted years ago – I looked it up, in 2012. I altered it a little bit, added a tiny bit more mayo to the dressing, and here it is. The kale is an addition to the original – it was is just a Napa cabbage salad. No darker greens in it except some chives. But this new revision is so much better. It’s a very light salad. Refreshing. Would be wonderful for a summer barbecue. I loved the look of the radishes, that I painstakingly julienned. I tried using my mandoline and it was just impossible to work for radishes. I don’t know why. Took about 10 minutes to do the radishes. The kale was already pre-washed (Trader Joe’s) so I merely chopped it up more finely. Added the celery, made the buttermilk dressing that has no added oil (just the mayo which provides a little bit) and as I mentioned, put in a tad more mayo to it this time. I tossed it just before serving, although those kinds of greens can stand well. There is about a cup of leftovers which I’ll enjoy for my dinner one night soon. I expect it will still be fine.

What’s GOOD: the lightness of it – easy to make, and delicious. I doubled the recipe and I saw several people take seconds. I like this salad a LOT.

What’s NOT: well, maybe just the julienne-ing (is that even a word?) of the radishes, but you don’t have to do that part – just chop them any way you want. I merely wanted the finished dish to be more attractive.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 file (click link to open recipe)

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Cabbage Kale Salad with Buttermilk Dressing

Recipe By: adapted from Gourmet Mag, 2017
Serving Size: 6

1/2 cup buttermilk — well-shaken
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons minced shallot
1 tablespoon sugar — or use artificial sweetener
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons chives — finely chopped
1 pound Napa cabbage — cored and thinly sliced crosswise or Savoy cabbage
3 cups baby kale — finely chopped
6 whole radishes — cut in tiny matchsticks
2 whole celery ribs — thinly sliced diagonally

1. Whisk together buttermilk, mayonnaise, vinegar, shallot, sugar, salt, and pepper in a bowl until sugar has dissolved, then whisk in chives.
2. Toss cabbage, radishes, and celery with dressing. It’s perhaps more attractive if the radishes are dressed separately and sprinkled on top.
Per Serving: 103 Calories; 6g Fat (50.9% calories from fat); 3g Protein; 11g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 3mg Cholesterol; 266mg Sodium.

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