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Entries in salad (9)

Friday
Oct292010

Spicy Thai Filet Mignon Salad with Ginger-Lime Dressing

Now that I am focusing on where my meat comes from, I have the pleasure of really great building blocks for meals.  Grass-fed beef is good. In the past, when I've been lucky enough to have a special piece of meat, I've done as little to it as possible to highlight and honor the amazing natural flavor.

With that philosophy, however, I start to miss out on all of the other flavors that have been used for centuries to make some of my favorite meat dishes.For this meal, I abandoned all reverence and marinated a beautiful piece of grass-fed filet mignon in lime juice, soy sauce and chili paste. Rather than mask the flavor, this marinade elevated the whole meal and made the experience better.

The main use for this meat was in a salad, a bit of a twist on a Thai beef salad with great mixed greens and tomatoes from Vermont and basil and chili peppers from our own garden. The meat also made delicious sandwiches over the rest of the week. This recipe will definitely go into the rotation as both a show-stopper on its own and a good staple for lunches.

Now that I am focusing on where my meat comes from, I have the pleasure of really great building blocks for meals.  Grass-fed beef is good. In the past, when I've been lucky enough to have a special piece of meat, I've done as little to it as possible to highlight and honor the amazing natural flavor.
With that philosophy, however, I start to miss out on all of the other flavors that have been used for centuries to make some of my favorite meat dishes.For this meal, I abandoned all reverence and marinated a beautiful piece of grass-fed filet mignon in lime juice, soy sauce and chili paste. Rather than mask the flavor, this marinade elevated the whole meal and made the experience better.

The main use for this meat was in a salad, a bit of a twist on a Thai beef salad with great mixed greens and tomatoes from Vermont and basil and chili peppers from our own garden. The meat also made delicious sandwiches over the rest of the week. This recipe will definitely go into the rotation as both a show-stopper on its own and a good staple for lunches.

Spicy Thai Filet Mignon Salad with Ginger-Lime Dressing (adapted from Bobby Flay)

  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon chili paste with garlic (I used sambal olek)
  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil
  • 2 (12-ounce) filet mignons, sliced thinly
  • Freshly ground pepper

Ingredients for Salad

  • 1 head Bibb lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
  • 3 cups mizuna leaves, torn into bite-size pieces
  • 1/4 cup chiffonade Thai basil or regular basil, optional
  • 1/2 English cucumber, halved and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch thick slices
  • 2 carrots, julienned
  • 5 radishes, thinly sliced
  • 8 each yellow and red cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Salt and ground black pepper

Ingredients for Dressing

  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon finely diced shallot
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  1. Whisk soy sauce, lime juice, chile paste, and peanut oil together in a small dish. Add the steaks, turn to coat, cover, and marinate for 30 minutes in the refrigerator. 
  2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet.  Saute meat until desired temperature (about 3-5 minutes for medium rare). Remove from heat and let rest. 
  3. Whisk ingredients from lime juice to salt & pepper together in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Let sit 10 minutes before using.
  4. While steak is resting, combine all salad ingredients(lettuce through salt and pepper) in a large bowl. Toss with half of the dressing and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a platter, top with the steak, and drizzle the remaining dressing over the top.

 


Monday
Oct042010

Late Summer BLT Salad

No, I didn't miss the freezing wind and rain outside.  But in my radio silence, I hopped up to Vermont this weekend and came back laden with heirloom tomatoes fresh from the garden, mass quantities of mixed greens and great sourdough and whole wheat rolls from Amy's Bakery in Brattleboro.  

 In my travels through online recipes and cooking magazines galore, I know I have come across more than one BLT Salad or BLT Panzanella.  I had to actually stop collecting them after awhile because the variations are few and the storage space is scarce.  Still, when I wanted to find one of these recipes, I couldn't quite find the ones I was looking for.  

I took a page from Alton Brown's book, but, as usual, did it my way. I don't subscribe to the "only one way" theory of cooking, so I usually avoid Mr. Brown on principle.  His croutons, however, swayed me to at least start with him.  He dries bread overnight and tosses them in bacon drippings.  What's wrong with that? Well, time, of course.  I wanted bacon posthaste. 

To speed up the crouton process, I cubed my fresh rolls and toasted them lightly (about medium on my toaster oven setting) to simulate day-old bread.  A crime for such lovely rolls? Maybe, but also great croutons come at a great price.  

And I have to give to my buddy Alton, the rest of the recipe pretty much made it through unscathed.  Starting with garden fresh tomatoes and greens and throwing in organic sunday bacon means that very little variation is needed.  

Late Summer BLT Salad (adapted from Alton Brown)

  • 2 cups cubed bread (whole wheat, sourdough or a mix would be great)
  • 6 slices uncured organic bacon, crumbled, drippings reserved
  • 2 large heirloom tomatoes (try to mix your colors for maximum eye appeal)
  • 4 cups organic mixed greens
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
  • two handfuls roughly chopped garden herbs, basil and mint
  1. Place bread in toaster and toast lightly on medium until dry.
  2. Meanwhile, cook bacon until crispy.  Reserve 1-2 tablespoons drippings. 
  3. Chop tomatoes and set aside. 
  4. When drippings are ready, toss bread in warm drippings until lightly coated (a little goes a long way and of course, is way better for you). 
  5. Mix together last four ingredients.  
  6. In a bowl, combine greens, tomatoes, bacon and croutons.  Drizzle with herb dressing.  Enjoy!

 

Wednesday
Jul142010

July Daring Cooks Challenge: Cooking with Nut Butters

The July 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by Margie of More Please and Natashya of Living in the Kitchen with Puppies. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make their own nut butter from scratch, and use the nut butter in a recipe. Their sources include Better with Nut Butter by Cooking Light Magazine, Asian Noodles by Nina Simonds, and Food Network online.

You really can't go wrong with nut butters and I've definitely wanted to explore a bit beyond my usual peanut butter, so this challenge was very exciting.  Exciting until I remembered that my food processor isn't being cooperative.  Luckily, our fearless hosts allowed some flexibility and so I got to play with peanut butter and will definitely make the rest of the recipes offered up in this challenge in coming months to try them all out. 

The upside to being a little less adventurous with this challenge is that I found a recipe that actually was really easy to prep the night before and will make an interesting, tasty and fairly healthy lunch for work.  I don't usually get that out of these challenges. 

The recipe I went with was the Asian Noodles with Cashew Dressing.  I hoped upon hope that Trader Joe's would have cashew butter for me to test out, but as they didn't, I went for peanut butter with flax seeds.  Still a bit of an experiment, if not a challenge. 

Food processing the old fashioned way!I made the dressing the night before with peanut butter, soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, garlic and ginger (and, of course, sriracha for heat).  The recipe calls for 3 tablespoons of sugar and while I decided to go with 2 instead, I completely forgot about substituting with another sweetener - definitely go for it. Of course the recipe also called for a food processor here, but I used some elbow grease and a whisk since bits of garlic and ginger never worried anyone around here. 

Next, I sliced up some cucumbers, carrots and fresh green beans and mixed them together with cashew pieces and chopped Thai basil (from the garden!) and let that hang out in the fridge.  Then...I rested. 

Before work I quickly cooked up some rice noodles to finish off the salad and assembled in the morning.  Success! A light, crunchy, nutty salad that is easy to assemble in the morning and bring on the road - think work, picnics, car travel...

Stay tuned for further installments of my nut butter adventures wherein I actually make my own and play with things like cashews and pecans. 

Asian Noodle Salad with Cashew (or Peanut) Dressing (adapted from Daring Cooks Challenge)
Yield: 4 servings

Recipe notes: Customize the salad by adding or substituting your favorite vegetables. Shredded cabbage, bean sprouts, and slivered carrots would make nice additions. Obviously, you can omit the shrimp, or substitute chicken or tofu or the protein of your choice. The dressing is equally as good with peanut butter rather than cashew butter. We tested the dressing with nut butters made from salted cashews & peanuts with good results.

Ingredients:

Cashew Butter:
1 cup (240 ml) cashews*

Cashew Dressing:
½ inch (1 cm) slice of fresh ginger, chopped
8 cloves garlic, more or less to taste, chopped
½ cup (120 ml) cashew butter
¼ cup (60 ml) soy sauce
3 Tablespoons (45 ml) sugar
3 Tablespoons (45 ml) vinegar
3 Tablespoons (45 ml) toasted sesame oil
¼ cup plus 1 Tablespoon (75 ml) water
Hot sauce to taste (optional)

Noodle Salad:
1/2 pound (225 g) linguine or thin rice noodles
1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil
1/2 pound (225 g) small or medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 large red bell pepper, cored and seeded, cut into thin strips
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, sliced
1/4 cup (60 ml) sliced green onions
1/4 cup (60 ml) chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon (15 ml) chopped cashews (optional garnish)
Lime wedges (optional)

Directions:

  1. Make cashew butter: Grind cashews in food processor for about 2 minutes until smooth. (*Or start with ½ cup (120 ml) prepared cashew butter.)
  2. Prepare cashew dressing: Combine ginger, garlic, cashew butter, soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, sesame oil, and water in food processor or blender. Process/blend until smooth. Be sure to process long enough to puree the ginger and garlic. The dressing should be pourable, about the same thickness as cream. Adjust consistency – thinner or thicker -- to your liking by adding more water or cashew butter. Taste and add your favorite hot sauce if desired. (If the cashew butter was unsalted, you may want to add salt to taste.) Makes about 1 ½ cups (360 ml) dressing. Store any leftover dressing in the refrigerator.
  3. Prepare noodles according to package instructions in salted water. Rinse and drain noodles. Set aside.
  4. Heat oil in large non-stick pan over medium heat. Add shrimp to the pan and sauté for about 3 to 4 minutes or until opaque throughout. Alternately, cook shrimp in boiling water for about 2 to 3 minutes or until done.
  5. Slice basil into thin ribbons. Combine noodles, bell pepper, cucumber, onions, and basil in a large bowl. Add about ½ cup (120 ml) cashew dressing; toss gently to coat. Add more cashew dressing as desired, using as much or as little as you’d like. Scatter shrimp on top. Squeeze fresh lime juice over salad or serve with lime wedges. Sprinkle with chopped cashews if desired.
Wednesday
May122010

Roasted Sea Salt Shrimp and Toasted Israeli Couscous with Feta and Mint

I started out my enjoyment of cheese in a very limited fashion - all Cracker Barrel Cheddar, all the time.  While there are still some cheeses that I'm not rushing out to try, I have expanded my tastes greatly over time.  For my new love of feta, I credit my husband.  A friend showed me that feta really isn't all that strong and really is good, but his insistence on Greek salads for much of the last year at a local pizza joint made me actually start craving feta on my own. 

This salad came about because of one of those cravings.  I have had a box of Trader Joe's Israeli couscous on my shelf for awhile and wanted to use it.  I also have relatively unfettered access to mint from our herb garden (I've been instructed to let the other herbs have a chance to grow before I dive in).  With these three ingredients, I found myself with an interesting couscous salad and a new way to make shrimp.  By combining these two recipes, a regular dish in our household was born. 

I served this with an interesting value wine that I picked up on the $12 and under table at Brooklyn Wine Exchange.  I've found myself looking for white wines as the weather turns bright, but I'm over a lot of the oaky buttery chardonnays that I used to enjoy.  Enter the 2008 Ermita de Nieve Verdejo, a Spanish white with a lot of floral perfume and some pineapple notes that made it crisp enough and bold enough to be very enjoyable with food.  It is touted as a great alternative to sauvignon blanc.  I recommend checking it out if the weather ever heats up again!

Roasted Sea Salt Shrimp (adapted from The Barefoot Contessa, see above)

 

  • 12 jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • olive oil
  • sea salt
  • fresh cracked black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed

 

 

  1. Preheat oven to 400F. (If you have a convection or toaster oven, think about that since it heats up the kitchen way less!)
  2. Toss shrimp with olive oil, garlic, sea salt and pepper to taste.  Spread evenly in foil-covered baking dish. 
  3. Roast for 5-6 minutes.  (Watch closely.  It's easy to go just a touch over the edge and end up with dry shrimp). 

 

Toasted Israeli Couscous with Feta and Mint (adapted from Fine Cooking, see above)

Serves 4

 

  • 1 1/3 cup Israeli couscous (one Trader Joe's package)
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped mint (spearmint, peppermint or pineapple mint work well)
  • 1/2 English cucumber or regular cucumber, peeled, seeded (if necessary) and diced
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, sliced in halves or thirds depending on size
  • pickled red onions or sliced red onions
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp pickling liquid from onions or red vinegar
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup finely diced or crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest, optional

 

 

  1. Add two tablespoons olive oil to heavy saucepan (or large skillet if you want to dirty two pans).  Add couscous and saute gently until golden brown. 
  2. Add water or broth as directed by couscous package, roughly 10 minutes. (See original recipe for suggestions if needed.)  Drain and rinse under cool water.  Add couscous to large bowl and toss with cucumber, tomato, onions and mint. 
  3. In a small bowl, mix 1/4 cup olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar and black pepper.  (Add zest if using.)  Add feta to dressing.  Toss dressing with couscous. 
  4. Add roasted shrimp or another protein.  Consider grilled chicken, seasoned tofu, pine nuts or other options as well. 
  5. NOTE: We ate two servings on the first night and the leftovers one day later.  The dish still tasted fresh and maybe even a bit better as the flavors melded. 

 

 

 

 

Thursday
Mar042010

More Mezze: Moroccan Preserved Lemons and What to Do with Them

The final mezze project that I attempted was preserved lemons.  I absolutely love Meyer lemons and they were actually in season and available at Trader Joe's, so I went for it.  I found a variety of preserved lemons throughout the internet and decided to stay close to home, once again using From Tapas to Meze (this book obviously earned its spot on the shelf after this past project) to keep things simple.

The recipe calls for juicing the lemons and placing the rinds and flesh into a jar with bay leaves, cinnamon and loads of salt.  The juice is poured over the lemons to cover and like magic, in a couple of weeks, you have preserved lemons! It really can't be easier.

What isn't so easy, however, is finding a way to use them.  Every recipe I found said that they tasted great in all manner of salads, dressings and other dishes.  Without really giving me a road map to what those other dishes might be.  Luckily, my Mediterranean handbook had a recipe for a Preserved Lemon, Tomato and Red Onion Salad. 

The salad seemed like something that would be beautiful in the summer and not so much in the winter.  In order to capture the best flavors, I hunted down some heirloom greenhouse baby tomatoes in a variety of colors to maximize flavor and visual appeal.  I tweaked the dressing a bit because of available ingredients in the rest of my kitchen and in the end really liked the result.

I have to admit that I tasted the preserved lemon on its own and a sweet lemon is turned into something more caustic with the salt and bay, but as an ingredient, it added a special layer to the salad dressing.  I do have another recipe coming using these preserved lemons, so we'll see if I can develop more ways to use these beautiful fruits.

Moroccan Preserved Lemons (adapted from From Tapas to Meze)

  • 8 Meyer lemons (these are available from Jan. - Mar.)
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 bay leaves
  • Additional freshly squeezed lemon juice, if needed
  1. Cut lemons in quarters, keeping the sections attached at the stalk end (do not cut all the way through.  Squeeze the juice from the lemons and set aside.
  2. Cover lemon quarters with good sprinkling of salt. 
  3. Place 1 tablespoon salt in the bottom of a canning jar.  Pack in the lemon quarters, pushing them down and adding tablespoons of salt, cinnamon sticks and bay leaves between the lemons. 
  4. Cover lemons with juice.  Add more if needed to cover lemons, leaving a bit of headspace in the jar.
  5. Place lid on jar and let lemons sit in a warm place for about 3 weeks, turning the jar upside down periodically to distribute salt and juices (do not store upside down, simply turn and replace).
  6. When using lemons, remove from the brine with a clean utensil.  Remove pulp (it will peel easily off), wash peel and use as directed.
  7. Will keep for up to 1 year.

Tomato, Red Onion and Preserved Lemon Salad (adapted from From Tapas to Meze)

  • 2 pints heirloom cherry tomatoes, diced (the more colors the better)
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1 1/2 preserved lemon, diced
  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint (cilantro would also be great)
  • 3/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Combine tomatoes, onions and preserved lemons in a bowl.  Set aside. 
  2. Whisk together remaining ingredients.  Season with salt and pepper to taste. 
  3. Toss vinaigrette with tomato mixture and marinate at least 30 minutes (not more than 1 hour) at room temperature.
  4. Serve and enjoy!