Main course

Grilled Veal Rib Chop with Caponata

This is one of my go-to veal recipes that I whip out at least once a month for my clients. Veal is not cheap, but it’s so tender and full of flavor. I love cooking the veal chops on the grill on the highest possible heat, and getting those outer fatty edges nice ‘n crispy. The rub that I use adds such a beautiful flavor, and goes really well with the roasted eggplant and red pepper caponata that doubles as a vegetable side and a sauce.

Best of all, the caponata tastes even better the next day, over pasta or as I did, on a sourdough crostini with melted gruyere cheese… mmm!

Here we go…

Start by making the rub for the veal chop. You could even do this the day before and let it marinate overnight.

spice rub

Crush all the ingredients with your pestle (or you can blend it in the food processor) until it forms a rough paste, and drizzle in the olive oil. Slather it all over your veal chops.

Ok, 2 ingredients that I needed for this rub mysteriously disappeared from my grocery bags when I got home. I swear it wasn’t forgetfulness, I put them in my cart! I just must of not taken them out of my cart. Either way, you’ll need them for this rub. Anchovies and thyme.

Anchovies. I know that sounds strange in a rub. But trust me, they add a depth of flavor that you’ll appreciate, and yet won’t totally understand. Because whether you’re an anchovy hater or lover, it won’t resemble any anchovy flavor you’ve tasted in the past once the flame of the grill has hit it. Its subtle and yet adds something salty and delicious to a rub. Try it just once… for me… please…

veal chop slathered with rub

Now place it in a ziploc bag, or just wrap it back up in butcher paper and refrigerate.

On to the Caponata…

(Here is me making my lunch with the scrumptious leftover caponata)

start by preheat your oven at 425 degrees F

sliced eggplant

Slice one whole eggplant, then chop into roughly 1 inch or so cubes.

Now put the eggplant in a collander and toss with 1 tablespoon kosher salt. This will pull out some of the moisture in the eggplant and help it caramelize in the oven. You could also just spread it out in a single layer on a paper towel. Give it about 20 minutes, then use a paper towel to dab away any excess moisture on the eggplant.

Now roughly chop the rest of your vegetables: onion + red bell pepper. Try and keep them the same size as your eggplant. Slice the garlic in half and toss the whole vegetable medley with olive oil, another teaspoon kosher salt, and a 1/2 teaspon black pepper. Sprinkle with fresh thyme leaves, dried are fine here too. I like to add two small pinches of red chili flakes to give it the tiniest bit of heat and some extra flavor.

Place it in a single layer on a rimmed metal baking sheet, and get it into that hot 425 degree oven (400 convection).


(after 20 min)
Roast for 20 minutes and then give it all a toss. Add the can of diced tomatoes, including all the juices. Roast for another 15-20 minutes, until most of the tomato juices have disappeared and the eggplant is nice and tender. The vegetables will cook faster if you’ve chopped them smaller.

Once its done, add capers and 1 1/2 tablespoons sherry or red wine vinegar. The vinegar will cook down right there on the hot baking sheet. You could also add lemon juice instead, if thats your preference. I like this step because the acidity of the vinegar tastes so wonderful with a meat dish like veal or even a NY steak. Add more salt and pepper to taste.

On to the Veal Chop!

When you’re ready to grill, make sure your veal chop has been out of the fridge for at least 30 minutes, so that it cooks more evenly. Over the highest flame, and on a grill that’s had at least 20 minutes to preheat, place your veal chops. Grill about 4-8 minutes per side (depending on your chop’s thickness), and make sure to turn the chop on its edges to get the fatty sides nice and charred. For my 1 3/4 inch extra thick chop it tool me a total of 15 minutes to get it to a nice medium rare. Use a digital instant read thermometer in the center of the your chop to check when its ready, roughly 120 degrees for medium rare. Remember it will keep cooking once its off the heat. Veal is a pretty lean meat and tastes dry above medium. Allow it to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Oh, did I tell you yet that this whole recipe could also be used on a good ol’ traditional grilled steak? Well, it could…

Yummy tip: Once its off the grill and resting on a plate, put 1 tablespoon butter and a few drops of lemon juice on top of the steak/chop. As it melts, it will mix with the chop/steak’s smokey juices and create a delicious sauce. Try this with any steak or grilled meat!

On to this Caponata Crostini thing I made the next day…

Simple. Just top your favorite piece of bread (I used sourdough) with a heaping spoonful of the caponata, and slices of a good meltable cheese, like provolone or mozzarella (can you tell I have an Italian theme to uphold here…). Gruyere was just what I had in my fridge at the time, and it was also very nice. You could also top it with fresh ricotta or fresh buffalo mozzarella… for a cool summer version.

Preheat your broiler, and using an oven proof skillet, fry the toasts on medium heat in a little olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Be sure to wait until the olive oil is nice and hot before adding your toasts. After about 1-2 minutes, peek under the toast, the bread should be nice and brown on the edges, and golden in the center. Place directly under the broiler as close as you can get it. Watch it closely, until the cheese melts.

And now you’re a happy happy person, eating that cheesy, sweet, and somewhat healthy red pepper and eggplant goodness!

Veal Rib chop and Rub recipe:

for 2 thick 1 3/4 inch veal rib chops

1.5 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp black pepper
2 tsp fresh rosemary
1 Tbsp fresh thyme
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 large garlic clove
1 anchovy fillet
1/4 tsp red chili flakes (optional)
2 Tbsp olive oil

Kosher Salt

Instructions:

Combine first 8 ingredients and with a mortar and pestle, mash into a paste, add olive oil in a slow drizzle to incorporate. Likewise you can use a food processor. Slather all over veal chops and refrigerate 1 hour, or up to 2 days.

Preheat your grill on high for at least 20 minutes or up to 40 minutes, or make sure your charcoal bbq is nice and hot, coals broken down and glowing. Season your chops with kosher salt.

Grill the Veal chops for about 7 minutes on each side, for an extra thick chop like the one I used in this recipe. Make sure to move them around every 2 minutes, so that the grill marks get imprinted all over the chops. If your chop is thinner, reduce the overall time. Also make sure to let the chops sear on their sides so that the fatty edges get nice and crispy. To know when its done, using an instant read digital thermometer is always your best bet. It should read between 120-125 degrees F at the center of your steak, for medium rare. Also, the center of the steak will always be cooked less than the edges, so rest assured even if the center of your steak is a low 120 degrees, the edges will be higher. I always take my steaks off a little under their desired temperature range because they continue to cook even after they’re off the grill. Let it rest on a plate for about 5 minutes. Top them off with a small slather of butter and a little squeeze of lemon juice, and presto you’ve got even more flavor!

Warning: veal is lean and tastes dry when cooked to well done. Ideally, its final target temperature is 125-135 degrees. Only eat this type of chop if you can handle the pink!

Caponata recipe

4 servings

1 large eggplant, roughly chopped 1 inch pieces
1 large red bell pepper, roughly chopped 1 inch pieces
1 medium sweet onion, thickly sliced
4 large cloves garlic, sliced in half
2 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves
1 Tbsp kosher salt, additional to taste
1 tsp black pepper
1 14oz can diced tomatoes, or canned cherry tomatoes if you can find them
1/3 cup olive oil, more for drizzling if desired
1 1/2 Tbsp sherry or red wine vinegar, or lemon juice
1 Tbsp rinsed capers
1/2 cup torn basil leaves, more for garnish

Instructions:

Add the chopped eggplant to a colander with 1 Tbsp kosher salt. Let sit at least 20 minutes, then pat dry with paper towels. Toss with bell pepper, onion, garlic, fresh thyme, a little more salt, black pepper and the olive oil. Spread in one layer on a metal baking sheet. Roast for 20 minutes, toss the vegetables and add the tomatoes including their juices, toss again. Roast for another 20 minutes until juices have evaporated and eggplant is tender. Time may be more or less depending on how large or small you chopped the eggplant. Once out of the oven, immediately add the vinegar or lemon juice and capers. Add the fresh basil and toss before serving.

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Breads, Dessert

South African Buttermilk Rusks

I’m a South African by marriage.

Well, sort-of.

To clarify, I don’t actually have citizenship, and in total honesty, I’ve still yet to visit. However, in my semi-qualified opinion (hey, I’ve lived with a South African for 10 years now) there are 2 staples of a South African household: Rusks and Rooibos tea. Rooibos tea, or red bush tea, is extremely healthy, and has similar health benefits to green tea. But unlike green tea, it tastes wonderful (does anyone really like the taste of green tea? If you’re out there, please help me understand..). Add a little milk and a bit of honey and I’m in rooibos HEAVEN.

I love me some tea.

Why am I writing about tea, rooibos tea specifically, when my post is about rusks?
Well that’s because a rusk without rooibos tea, is like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich without jelly. A bit bland and not so enjoyable. But together they’re perfect partners. They bring out the best in each other!

Rusks are similar to biscotti except they aren’t as sweet, so you could almost describe them as bland. I know that’s a horrible way to describe something that I actually really enjoy, and that I’m taking the time to share with you, but its the truth. NEVER eat a rusk by itself! They’re made to be dunked. They transform into something magically addictive when dunked in honey-sweetend rooibos tea.

If you’re looking for a sweet dessert treat, this isn’t it. Rather go for a biscotti then. These would qualify more as a snack in my book, because they don’t have that sugary sweetness that most american treats have.

Here’s the recipe that we use in my house. Unfortunately, I can’t make them too regularly because my husband and I have so little self control when these little crunchy suckers are around the house. They become so hard to resist!

Here goes…

flour collage
Measure out your flours and add the baking soda, baking powder and cream of tartar.

Originally this recipe asks you to sift these dry ingredients together. But I have a mental block towards sifting, I don’t have the patience for it. This is my poker TELL, if you will, that I’m really not a baker at heart. I love to find shortcuts and skip steps, but in baking that can get you into real trouble. I’ve never had a baking catastrophe from not sifting though, and until I do, I’ll probably continue to be lazy and not sift.

I just take a wisk, or my fingers in this case, and just stir the dry ingredients around so they’re mixed together.
But if sifting is your thing, then sift the dry ingredients together so they’re evenly dispersed.

butter flour blend collage

Next cut up your cold butter, and add to your dry ingredients. Using your fingers, break up the butter with the flour. Then rubbing your hands back and fourth, break them up some more until its kinda sandy, its ok if there are still some pea size pieces of butter. You could also pulse this in the food processor until it reached that same sandy consistency. I just hate doing more dishes, and actually really enjoy the feeling of the flour in my hands.

Add to the dry ingredients whatever flavorings you like. I added sunflower seeds, raisins and currants (the sweetness of the raisins or currants is a must in my book) and some shredded sweetened coconut. Next time I think I’m going to try almonds and almond extract.

mixer with liquid
In a separate bowl, add all the liquid ingredients -buttermilk, oil, eggs, vanilla- to the brown sugar. Beat for a minute until well combined


Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until combined. Then knead for 3 or 4 minutes until nice and firm.


Press in an ungreased 9×13 baking dish and bake for 45 minutes in a 375 degree oven.


Let it cool for 10 minutes and then invert onto a cooling rack, remove pan.

After another 30 minutes or so, cut in 1 inch thick slices. Then cut slice into fourths. My crude drawing should give you an idea…


Now lay them out on 2 baking sheets and dry them out in a 200f oven for 5 hours.

Happy dunking!

Buttermilk Rusks
2 lbs 12oz. flour, or about 9 3/4 cups unsifted flour, or 1.240kg
splitting the flour between whole wheat and white flour, aprox. 75% whole wheat, 25% white.
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
2 teaspoons salt
9oz or 250g unsalted butter, or 1 cup + 2 tablespoons
1/2 to 3/4 cup raisins or currants
1/3 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup shredded or flaked sweetened coconut
2 eggs
1 1/2 cup brown sugar
2 cups buttermilk
1 cup oil

1. Measure out the flours, add the baking soda, baking powder, cream of tartar and salt. Stir or sift to evenly incorporate. Cut in the cool unsalted butter until mixture is sandy in texture, pea sized pieces of butter are fine.

2. Add the raisins, sunflower seeds, and coconut

3. In a separate bowl, wisk together the liquid ingredients and the brown sugar until well blended.

4. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients, stir until blended, then knead a few minutes until firm.

5. Spread into a 9×13 baking pan. Bake in 375F or 190C degree oven for 45-50 minutes.

6. Cool for 10 minutes, then invert onto a cooling rack.

7. cut into 1 inch slices, then again into fourths. Lay out on a baking sheet and dry in a 200f or 100c degree oven for 5 hours.
Can last months in an airtight container.

Possible add-ons or variations: dried cranberries + pecans, dried apricots + golden raisins + almonds + almond extract. If you’ve made any other varieties, do tell!

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Breakfast

Pancetta and Heirloom Tomato Breakfast Panini

final sandwich on cutting board

I don’t eat out often, so when I do, I try to make it really worthwhile and eat at locales where the menus seem inspired and creative. Recently I came upon this little cafe in manhattan beach with just that sort of menu, and I ordered this breakfast sandwich. It was so lovely. A little bit of italy for breakfast, just my sort of thing. The sweet acidity of the tomatoes, the saltiness of the pancetta, and the richness of the scrambled egg with a bit of melted mozzarella. So good. A recipe is almost not needed; just look at the pictures and you’ll get the idea.

collage
Chop up some ripe tomatoes, add a tablespoon or so of olive oil, and balsamic vinegar, a little salt and pepper, some torn basil leaves, and some minced garlic (optional).

pancetta
Saute the pancetta in a little olive oil until crisp

bread and egg
Toast your baguette, and wisk 2 eggs with a little salt and pepper and the cheese slices, if you like. You can add the cheese slices at any time, this is just my lazy way of doing it.


Scramble your eggs, however you like. I use some of the leftover oil from frying the pancetta and heat the pan at medium-low heat. When it foams, add the egg mixture. I use a rubber spatula to gently turn the eggs over, every 20 seconds or so. Too much movement and they loose that tender fluffiness.

build your sandwich
Now its time to build your sandwich. Spread a tablespoon or two of store bought basil pesto on your toasted baguette (I say store bought because I’m trying to not overwhelm you with steps, just take a deep breath and enjoy not having to make your own pesto :-))
Top with the pancetta, tomato-basil mixture, and finally the scrambled eggs. Press the other baguette slice on top, and cut in two. Share the other half with whoever has been particularly nice to you today, at least that’s what I do.

Bon Apetit!

Pancetta and Heirloom Tomato Breakfast Panini
3 slices Pancetta, or Bacon
1 small baguette, soft and light on the inside, a bit crusty on the outside
1 medium sized tomato, or 1/2 cup grape tomatoes, chopped
4 or so torn basil leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 Teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 clove garlic
2 tablespoons basil pesto
2 eggs
2 slices mozzarella cheese
Salt and Pepper

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

1. Chop tomatoes, mix with torn basil leaves, 1 tablespoon olive oil and 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar. Add a little minced garlic if you like, and season with salt and pepper

2. Saute Pancetta on medium heat in a little of olive oil, until crispy.

3. In a small bowl, whisk eggs with a little salt and pepper, add cheese slices.

4. Heat pan used to fry pancetta on medium low heat. You can use the leftover oil from the pancetta to coat the pan and give the eggs a nice flavor. Add egg mixture and gently scrap pan and turn over eggs every 20-30 seconds. It should take about 2-3 minutes until they’re firm. In the meantime, toast your baguette in the oven for a few minutes.

5. Build your sandwich: Spread the pesto on both bread slices. Add the pancetta, tomato mixture, and finally the scrambled eggs. Top with the other slice of bread and cut in two. Enjoy!

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Appetizers, Salads

Lobster and Mango Salad

Winter in California this year has been a joke. A beautiful, sun-filled, lets-go-to-the-beach-today joke. For those of you who don’t live or haven’t traveled to Cali, yes we generally do have some form of a winter. Its probably chicago or NY’s version of an early fall, but hey, to us natives, its all we have to gripe about weather-wise.

But this winter has been such a surprise, we’ve probably only had four or five days of rain period, and more warm, sunny days than I can count. I just hope this doesn’t bite us in the ass come summer, with some kind of weird reverse winter in summer effect…

But for now, this is what we’re enjoying

These are the days that I’m truly thankful to live close to the beach. And so are my kids as you can see. We love to go regularly at sunset, and take a walk, collect some seashells, dig a few holes, you get the idea. Its our family time.

So I’ve been in the mood for a little sunshine in a salad, and I think that this next Lobster and Mango combo delivers that. Its actually really elegant, and perfect for an appetizer at a dinner party or a romantic date. Serve it in a martini glass if you really want to make a statement. Best of all, its super easy to throw together, and the lobster salad could be made a day ahead too.




The idea is equal parts mango and lobster.

Chop the fennel bulb in half lengthwise and remove the inner root, then cut long slices keeping the root end intact.

fennel, chive mayo
Add fennel, chopped chives, mayonnaise, and a squeeze of lime. A teaspoon or two of heavy cream is also really nice.

After you’ve seasoned the lobster salad with lime juice salt and pepper, go ahead and make the vinaigrette that dresses the butter lettuce.

Enjoy!

Lobster Salad: (2 appetizer portions)
Stock up on a few frozen lobster tails next time they go on sale at your local grocery store.
1 ripe mango, about 1 cup chopped
2 3oz lobster tails, also about 1 cup
2 Tablespoons good quality mayonnaise
1-2 teaspoons heavy cream
1-2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro (optional)
2 Tablespoons thinly sliced fennel bulb (or substitute celery)
a few drops of lemon or lime juice
1 teaspoon chopped chives, plus a few stems left for garnish
sprinkle of salt and white pepper

Fill a medium sized pot half full with water and bring to a boil. Add 2 Tablespoons salt and boil lobster tails for 8 minutes on medium heat with the lid on. Once cooked and cool enough to handle, use a pair of kitchen shears to cut through shell and pull out tail meat, break into medium size chunks. Add to a bowl with an equal amount of cubed mango, thinly diced fennel, chopped chives, mayo, and cream. Finish with lime juice, salt and pepper for balance of seasoning. Adding chopped cilantro is nice too, but its not absolutely necessary. Place on a bed of butter lettuce dressed with the following vinaigrette.

Dressing for lettuce:
1 teaspoon lemon or lime
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon minced cilantro (optional)
1/2 tsp honey
1/4 tsp salt and pepper to taste

7-8 butter lettuce leaves

Whisk all the ingredients together, and toss with the lettuce. Spoon some of the lobster salad on top, and sprinkle with a little more chives or cilantro for a pretty finish. For a special occasion try using some wide stemware glasses to hole this salad, or even a little turine, as I did above.

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Dessert

Fabulous Chocolate Cake


Photo by Isabel Sanchez

I’ve always had the conviction that a great chocolate cake should either have a bunch of layers (to house more chocolate frosting) or be extremely dense and near flourless, to emphasize that deep rich chocolate flavor.

This cake changed my mind.

And I’m still not quite sure how it did, except that it did.

(I have to give props to my little sis for convincing me to try it. Thanks Nic)!

The most surprising thing is that there’s not even that much chocolate used. Cocoa powder for the layers and unsweetened chocolate make up the frosting.  If I had to guess, its the brewed coffee thats in both the cake and the glaze that brings out the chocolate flavor (you can’t taste the coffee at all), and the tangy buttermilk that moistens and flavors the batter.

ahhhhh, and then there’s the orange zest.  I’ve made this cake twice now and this past time I added orange zest as a garnish on top of the cake. Wow, was it delicious! Just a hint of orange, on a bite or two of cake, and it was such a wonderful bright contrast to the richness of the chocolate. I think a teaspoon of grated orange zest in the glaze would also be wonderful, if you want to fully commit to the orange flavor.  Do try!!

Chocolate Bundt Cake (from the Big Sur Bakery Cookbook via my sister Nicola)

Originally meant for a bundt cake pan, but I used two 8 inch cake pans.

For the Cake:

1 1/4 cups plus 1 Tablespoon brewed coffee
3/4 cup Dutch process cocoa powder
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 whole eggs
1 egg yolk
1 1/4 cups plus 1 Tablespoon buttermilk
1 cup plus 2 Tablespoon canola oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups, plus 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour, sifted

For the Glaze (You’ll have some left over with this recipe)

6 ounces unsweetened chocolate
3/4 cup unsalted butter
3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature
1/4 cup brewed coffee, cooled
optional: 1 tsp grated orange zest

Place an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.

Grease and flour a 10-inch Bundt pan or two 8 inch cake pans.

Put brewed coffee and cocoa powder in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, whisking frequently.  Remove from the heat and let come to room temperature.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fit with a whisk attachment, mix together sugar, salt, baking soda, eggs and egg yolk on low speed for about 1 minute.  Add the buttermilk, oil and vanilla extract and mix on low again for another minute.

Add the flour and mix on medium speed for 2 minutes.  Add the cooled cocoa mixture and mix on medium speed for 3 minutes.  The batter will be very loose.  Pour into the prepared cake pan and bake for 1 hour, or until a cake tester inserted in the cake comes out clean. (if using two cake pans, decrease baking time by 10-15 minutes)

Let the cake cool completely in the pan and then invert onto a cooling rack.

To make the icing:  Chop the chocolate into small pieces, put them in a heatproof bowl (or a double boiler), and set the bowl over a pot of barely simmering water.  Be sure that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the boiling water.  Remove the bowl from the heat when all of the chocolate bits have melted.

Melt the butter in a separate pan or in the microwave.  Whisk the melted butter into the melted chocolate until thoroughly incorporated.  Sift in half of the powdered sugar.  Add the sour cream and whisk to combine.  Sift in the remaining powdered sugar and whisk until smooth.  The glaze should be thick and shiny.  Lastly, add the coffee and whisk to create a glossy glaze.

Pour the glaze over the Bundt cake, covering it completely. Or pour a generous amount of glaze in the center of the first layer, letting it drip down the sides and repeat with the top layer.  Leave at room temperature until ready to serve

OPTIONAL: add 1 tsp grated orange zest to the melted chocolate for the glaze OR cut long thin strips of orange zest and slice really thinly into 2 inch strips. Use as a decoration on top of the cake.

*Photos by my beautiful friend Isabel Sanchez
chocolate cake

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Salads

Tuna and Fuji Apple Salad with a lowfat yogurt vinaigrette

tuna salad

I’ve had a lifelong love affair with salad.

So I consider myself a bit of a salad aficionado.

And between all the dieting done here in Los Angeles, and the year round supply of fresh Californian produce, its no wonder.

But in defense of salad-lovin, I’ve been known to convert quite a few salad despising folk over to my camp.  That’s probably not you, because lets face it, you’re taking the time to read this salad themed post. But to the one or two of you that are still here, and have you’re doubts, I’m coming after you! It’s just a matter of time…. lol.

So if the Food Network ever created a salad making competition….

…oh its on like Donkey Kong baby!!

No but seriously, as a teen I was the go-to salad maker for family gatherings, and I think it was a great introduction to cooking in that its an experimention with different flavors and textures. So if you’re new to cooking, salad making is a great way to kick start your cooking education. I admit, you’re not technically cooking anything. But, when you make a salad, you’re essentially learning different flavor combinations, how to season properly, and in the end, hopefully how to cook without a recipe; all while eliminating the possibility of burning anything (which takes the pressure off. Nice).

In my many years of back breaking salad research, I developed this simple formula that all my salads follow:

something creamy + something crunchy + something sweet = salad nirvana.


Fresh Fig, Grilled Radicchio and Beemster Goat Gouda Salad

The creaminess adds a decadence to the salad that everyone loves. It could be fresh goat cheese, feta, brie, a creamy dressing, or even sliced avocado. The crunch factor could be crisp lettuce, toasted nuts, or croutons. And the sweet could be dried or fresh fruit, or a little honey in the vinaigrette to balance out the acidity of the dressing.

Of course you have to figure out which combinations of those ingredients taste the best to you, but thats where all the fun recipe experimentation begins!

Today I’m sharing a salad with you that I’ve been making for years. Its a tuna salad thats a favorite of mine. Here’s how it fits in my little formula:

creamy low-fat yogurt vinaigrette/ mayonnaise for the tuna + sweet apple and currants + crunchy celery and apple.
Its a very loose formula, but it works as a basic guideline to any salad that I make.

celery
Start by dicing the celery. Thinly sliced fennel would have been really nice here as well, since fennel and apple is a wonderful flavor combination… but I had celery hanging around so in it went.

tuna and apple
add the celery to some finely chopped apple, and tuna

add currants
add the currants (raisins are fine too) and thinly sliced green onions and diced pickle. Today, I didn’t have pickles. So to add that important bit of acidity that pickles bring to the mix, I added a few drops of vinegar. You could substitute with a tiny bit of lemon juice here as well.

mayonnaise
mix in the mayonnaise and dijon mustard. Season with a little salt and pepper.



For the creamy vinaigrette, combine the olive oil, greek yogurt, red wine vinegar, sugar (or honey), dried oregano, minced shallot, salt and pepper. Whisk until emulsified. If you like your dressing a bit on the sweeter side, add extra sugar or honey

Arrange your large butter lettuce leaves artfully around the place, place some thinly sliced apple around the center, and add the tuna mixture. I also cut up some ripe tomatoes – avocado would be really lovely as well. Drizzle with the creamy vinaigrette and devour.

Tuna and Fuji Apple Salad with a creamy yogurt vinaigrette (serves 2)
with extra Tuna-Apple salad for a sandwich or two

For the Tuna Salad mixture
16 oz canned Tuna in spring water, drained
1 medium sized fuji apple, diced
2 small celery stalks, diced
1/3 cup currants or raisins
3 green onion stalks, thinly sliced, green parts only
1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
1/4 cup minced sweet bread and butter pickle, or your favorite variety
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
3/4 cup good quality mayonnaise
salt and pepper to taste (salt might not be needed)

Yogurt Vinaigrette
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons non-fat greek yogurt
1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
2 teaspoons sugar or honey, more or less depending on how sweet you like it
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano or thyme
1 tablespoon minced shallot, or red onion
1/2 – 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Assembling the Salad:
1 medium fuji apple, thinly sliced
1 pint small cherry tomatoes
1 head butter lettuce, rinsed

Directions are pretty simple… just combine all the ingredients for the tuna-apple-celery mixture. Then combine all the ingredients for the vinaigrette, whisk until emulsified and creamy. Assemble the salad on the plate, drizzling with 2 Tablespoons or so of the vinaigrette, serve.

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Breakfast

Easy Eggs Benedict

Why, hello.

I had no intentions of photographing and posting our breakfast this morning. It was just supposed to be a simple throw-together of ingredients I had in my fridge. But it ending up tasting so good, and with such minimal effort.

I thought I should share.

(Plus, I got a new lens for my Nikon camera and wanted to tinker around with it a bit.)


(I only had yellow mustard in my fridge, hence the yellow coloring)

Its a Whats-In-Your-Fridge Eggs Benedict

turkey lunch meat… check
butter, and more butter… check, check
run of the mill sandwich bread… check
lemon… check
eggs… check

Sure you can upgrade any of these ingredients if you like. English muffins or biscuits would be killer as a base for this notorious dish, but our family’s standard whole wheat sandwich bread was still tasty. The biggest surprise for me and everyone else was how good the Honey Smoked Oscar Meyer Turkey cold cuts were when I browned them in a skillet. The honey caramelized a bit and really brought out the smokey flavor in the turkey. Normally, if I planned out an eggs benedict recipe for a post, I’d probably buy some Serrano ham or extra thick bacon, and make some homemade biscuits. All of which would cost me a pretty penny and take up a bunch of my time, and also your time, if you decided to make it. But the fun of this recipe is we can all make something super delicious and quick with ingredients we have in our fridge already.


So here is the quick-y recipe

Oh, and I make my Hollandaise sauce with a blender, so its super easy.

Easy Eggs Benedict ~ serves 4
12 thin slices of Honey Smoked Turkey Breast, or favorite smoked sandwich meat (the smoked part is important)
4 slices sandwich bread

Hollandaise Sauce:
3 egg yolks
1 1/4 sticks of butter
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon lemon juice
lemon zest from 1/4 to a half a lemon
1/4 tsp dijon mustard
1 small clove of garlic, crushed to a paste or grated finely
1/2 teaspoon salt and white pepper to taste (black is fine too)
1 tablespoon water to thin out a tiny bit
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 Tablespoons chopped chives or scallions

1. Add your egg yolks, lemon juice, dijon mustard, smoked paprika, lemon zest and crushed garlic to the blender. Blend for 1 minute.
2. In a small pan, melt your butter until it comes to a gentle simmer.
3. With your blender on high, slowly stream in the hot melted butter, blend for an extra 10 seconds or so, until its a creamy consistency.
4. Add salt and pepper to taste. (1/2 tsp salt might be too salty for some, so work your way up to that if you like)
5. Thin out the sauce with 1 Tablespoon water, blend.

if you want to keep the sauce warm, place the blender-pitcher in a bowl or pot of warm water until ready to use.

Poaching the eggs
4 eggs
2 Tablespoon vinegar
8 cups of water

1. In a medium/large sized pot, fill with water. (Enough to cover the eggs completely once in the pot)
2. Add vinegar (vinegar helps the poached egg keep a nice shape in the boiling water)
3. bring to a low boil, gently crack eggs over the water, dropping them in as close to the water as possible, one at a time.

4. Turn heat to low, so the water is simmering.
5. Cook 2 minutes for a runny yolk, 3-3 1/2 minutes for a gently set yolk.

Assembling the Eggs Benedict

1. Heat a non-stick skillet on high for 1 minute. Fry smoked turkey breast slices in 2 or three batches, so as not to overlap and overcrowd pan. About 2 minutes per side.
2. Toast your bread, no need to butter it since there is so much butter in the sauce already.
3. Layer your toast with the fried turkey slices, poached egg, and hollandaise sauce. Sprinkle with a little extra salt, some smoked paprika and chopped chives.

Bon appétit!

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