Posts Tagged ‘salad’

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Lunching. (IN PRAISE OF BENTO)

October 21, 2013

ucc_bento
 
 
Healthy lunches can be elaborate or simple and sometimes both! Using ingredients that might be readily available in the pantry (or leftovers from another meal) make the daily process of producing balanced meals-to-go a little bit easier.

 
Lately I have been seeing some great bento-style lunchboxes for sale. The cool thing about bento boxes is that each ingredient has its own separate compartment so you can really be creative and vary the things that go in. From a bean dip surrounded by fresh veggies, fruit and crackers to cold buckwheat noodles and shredded chicken with colorful roasted veggies (from last night’s dinner), lunch-makers can be endlessly creative and diverse with their lunch packing, staving off boredom all year long. Lunch-eaters can assemble and eat the meal in a variety of ways and really make it ‘their own’. It’s the same concept that launched Lunchables into the success stratosphere, but this version is 100% wholesome and homemade.
 
Use one compartment for a green salad, the lidded part for dressing/dipping sauce and cut a sandwich to perfectly fit into remaining sections. Don’t forget to add a sweet treat and, just a reminder, that nature provides us with many a nutritious dessert. Remove the pit from a date and stuff it with your favorite nut or seed butter and a drizzle of honey for an instant energy boosting (candy-like!) snack. 
 
Find some cool bentos here:
 
black and blum at west elm (pictured below)
 
 
 
ucc_bento1
 
 
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KALE COOKS UNITE! (THE KALE PROJECT)

December 19, 2012

I recently contributed to The Kale Project, a website from Paris that supports one girl’s mission to bring kale to la France. And you thought they had it all! Me too!

kale_project

Apparently kale is completely out of style over there and needs a little bit of coaxing in the marketplace. Kristen is so very dedicated she is finding farmers who will raise up the kale seeds and then recruits merchants willing to sell it. Santé!

Here is an interview on her site in which I pledge my undying love for kale.

And the accompanying recipe.

It reminds me (but not really) of the story of Antoine-Augustin Parmentier (1737-1813). In his time potatoes were considered animal feed or low down dirty peasant food in France. But Parmentier was like, ‘no way! They’re healthy and cheap… you guys are loco!’ But it was really hard to break the stereotype and get people on the potato boat. So, it is said that he planted them in gardens that were heavily guarded to make them seem mysterious and desirable. The guards were instructed to turn a blind eye on anyone trying to pilfer the potatoes and to freely except bribes to get into the garden and steal. Soon the potato craze was on and Mr. P got a dish named after himself. Good old rib hugging French shepherd’s pie: hachis parmentier.

Let’s put some electric fences around those kale patches! Here is a flic of a dish mentioned in the interview, creamed kale. I think it would be a hit in France.

kale_creamed

This would probably go great with roasted potatoes too. Thx everyone…Kristen, Antoine, the peoples of France, etc.

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WAYS TO START. (PEA SHOOTS)

April 19, 2012

Eat them now or  forever wait til next year. Healthy, fascinating pea shoots are the young leaves and tendrils of a pea plant. Though available all over the place in spring/early summer, they are supposedly dead simple to grow, as in, buy a box of dried peas from the store and put them in some good dirt. Water them, give sun and you’re grazing! They do well in pots and the dirt doesn’t have to be deep. Easy things. And because they are so tasty, nutritious and versatile, I just might put number one green thumb, MG, on the task of home production.

Give a little green love to whatever dish you come up with, raw or cooked. Here are some ideas.

BELUGA LENTILS WITH WILTED PEA SHOOTS

(serves 4-5)

1 cup small lentils, rinsed

1 tablespoon oil

1 carrot, small dice

2 celery ribs, small dice

1/2 onion, small dice

2 cloves garlic minced + 2 whole

pinch red pepper flakes

1 jalapeno, halved

1 lemon, juiced

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons vinegar (any one will do)

2 handfuls of pea shoots

salt and pepper

  • Heat the oil in a medium sized pot. Saute the carrot, celery and onion over high heat until lightly browned.
  • Stir in the minced garlic, red pepper flakes, some salt and pepper. Remove from pan and set aside.
  • Delgaze the pan with 2 1/2 cups water and add lentils, two whole garlic cloves (smash them!) and 1/2 of the jalapeno. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until lentils are tender, about 25 minutes but timing could vary.
  • Once tender, drain the lentils and discard the garlic and jalapeno. Return to pot.
  • While the lentils are still hot, stir in the sauteed vegetables, lemon juice, evoo, vinegar, and season generously with salt and pepper. Next, stir in the pea shoots and let the residual heat of the lentils wilt the leaves.
  • Chop up remaining 1/2 of jalapeno to garnish, if desired.

TANGLED PEA SHOOTS IN BROWN GARLIC BUTTER

(serves 2 as an accompaniment)

1 tablespoon butter

1 clove garlic, sliced thin

1 large handful pea shoots

salt and pepper

  • Drop butter into a hot skillet (especially one that has just cooked two steaks).
  • Add garlic slices and cook until butter and garlic are both brown.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Add shoots and stir constantly until wilted and coated in sauce. Transfer to plate.

PEA SHOOT SALAD WITH ENDIVE, SCALLION, SHAVED APPLE AND GROUND ALMONDS

2 handfuls pea shoots

1 head endive, core removed, sliced lengthwise

3 scallions, chopped

1/2 apple, shaved into curls with a vegetable peeler

1/4 cup almonds, ground

cider vinaigrette (recipe follows)

  • Layer vegetables together and drizzle with vinaigrette. Toss gently. Top with almonds.

QUICK CIDER VINAIGRETTE

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1 scant tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon dijon vinegar

6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper

  • Add all ingredients to a bowl and whisk together until combined. Or place ingredients into a lidded container and shake to combine. Check for seasoning. Adjust.
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DRESSING UP. (SOY GARLIC OR PEANUT NOODLES)

March 31, 2012

As the weather warms it is natural to lighten up one’s cooking style. Cravings change and colors make a comeback as the Earth wakes from her dark slumber. One of the things that helps me bang out dinners that are quick (and acceptable for pre-bikini season eating) is having a few jars of salad dressing type things waiting for me in the fridge.

A good dressing is easy to whip up and can make proud almost any flavor profile. Perfect when tossed with leafy lettuces, these concoctions get even more use in my kitchen over grains, noodles, beans, grilled meats/veg and steamed tofu. From a spicy smooth peanut sauce to a chunky sundried tomato and fresh herb dressing, they are an indispensable part of the hustling spring/summer repertoire.

Pictured above is a throw-together dinner that was good! Glass noodles were tossed with fresh herbs and sliced jalapeños and topped with some leftover roasted fish and carrot-daikon pickles made using the basic brine in the last post. A drizzle of this powerfully savory Soy Garlic dressing ties all the stuff together. The recipe which is listed below is versatile, it works as a dressing, dipping sauce or marinade. It would also be super-duper for seasoning the broth of a gingered chicken soup or a kale soup or something similar which would be delicious right now as, even though spring keeps trying to rise, lady Earth just kinda wants to sleep in like a hungover teenager.

SOY GARLIC DRESSING

(makes about 1 cup)

2 tablespoons sugar

1-2 small red chiles, minced

3 cloves garlic, minced

3 tablespoons rice vinegar

3 tablespoons lime juice

6 tablespoons soy sauce

1/4 cup oil

drizzle of sesame oil (optional)

black pepper

• Place all ingredients a lidded jar or container, stir to dissolve the sugar.

• Replace lid and shake vigorously to combine.

• Check for seasoning. Adjust.

Here is the world’s quickest peanut sauce since I mentioned it… Good for everything.

PEANUT SAUCE

(makes about 2 cups)

1/2 cup coconut milk

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1/2 cup peanut butter

1/4 cup hoisin sauce

1 tablespoon sugar

2 limes, juiced or more to taste

1 clove garlic, grated

1 tablespoon vinegar

1 drizzle toasted sesame oil

cayenne pepper and/or hot sauce to taste, don’t be shy

  • Measure all ingredients into a mixing bowl. 
  • Whisk until thoroughly combined and season to taste. 
  • Thin with water if needed.     
I love it when a meal comes together.
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Useful as hell. (VEGETABLE GRILL PAN)

July 8, 2011

Grilling is the carnivore’s dream. Firing up the backyard bbq is a perfectly acceptable reason to cook up two, three, even four animals at a time. And I am totally down with that. But this post is to champion the underdog: vegetables. In support of vegetables everywhere, it could not be easier to add them to your grilling repertoire than with a good old vegetable grilling pan. Just prep your veggie (or fruit!) selection, drop it into the pan and place over the flame. You can shake it around, you can keep it still, but don’t take it off until charred to your preferred shade of black. I am not one for extraneous gadgets and all-around extra ‘stuff’ but the vegetable grill pan is a real summertime pal.

Zucchini, pineapple, jalapeno and shallots. Just chop into bite sized pieces and toss into the grill pan. When done add basil and lime, s + p.

Blackened Brussels with orange zest vinaigrette.

Experimenting es bueno.

 

 

 

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Breakfast love. (DAMASCUS BAKERY)

March 15, 2011

I am tempted to post this photo with no words at all. But that would be depriving the reader of some really great info. First of all, this is a breakfast spread put together by my sweetheart with some stuff he whipped up and some other items from Brooklyn’s incredible Damascus Bakery. The bakery is well known for fresh pitas, lavash and a selection of breads, which are also available in other locations. Onsite they turn out an enormous variety of pastries and sweets as well as some mind-blowing prepared dips and salads. Pictured above are tabouleh, muhammara and olive tapenade with a spice crusted flatbread (zataar bread, far left). There are also MG’s flourishes of perfectly cooked eggs, dried fruit, grapes, buttered toast and some homemade ricotta with honey and pine nuts. I feel royal.

It is a little sad because Damascus Bakery is located on Atlantic Avenue right next to the extremely well known Sahadi’s and might therefore live in its shadow. And while Sahadi’s is a great spot, full of bustle and bulk, Damascus has a more homey style with hand-made goods, a friendly feeling and quite possibly the world’s best halva. Both are worthy of a Cobble Hill field trip.

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More simple pleasures. (STRAWBERRIES AND WINE)

June 29, 2010

Because of extreme good luck, this spring I was in Paris. The weather was still in it’s ‘ghastly’ phase and days were partly cold and gray. That did not stop me from having a spectacular time. Each rough morning on rue de la Roquette was met with a different delightful breakfast that especially the French know how to throw down. A bag of warm croissants and pastries, super thin ham and to-die-for butter on baguette, soft, soft, soft-boiled eggs, pain perdue (a.k.a French toast) or this little number, strawberries macerated in red wine, that deserves honorable mention for its deliciousness, its ingenuity and most of all its simplicity.

If my foggy morning memory serves me correctly, it is the recipe of my friend’s dad who lives on the island of Corse (Corsica). Though I have never been there, as a lover of food, I know it is an incredible place. I have been present in Paris when contraband care packages of jurassic Corsican cheeses, pink garlic, honey, olive oil and endless night-sticks of saucisson were cracked open and devoured.

Another great export, the sweet/tart combo of strawberries and wine has a great balance and richness to it. The slight amount of pectin in the berries and the bit of sugar help to thicken the liquid and create a very complimentary sauce, not overtly wine-y at all. A perfect morning dish, gets everyone off on the right foot, as well as an excellent desert served with cream or over cake or all by itself.

STRAWBERRIES IN WINE

1 pint of strawberries, hulled and quartered lengthwise

2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 cup red wine

  • Place sliced strawberries in a bowl and sprinkle with sugar. Toss to combine.
  • Add wine and stir well.
  • Let sit for 15-20 minutes. Stir again and adjust sugar for desired sweetness.