Tag Archives: Side Dish

Romanesco Mediterranean Salad – Foodie Fun

Romanesco Salad 3Wow, now where did October go, friends?  Is it really November?  I can’t believe that I’ve been at the new job for a month already, or that I just finished my first graduate school mid-terms, or that my birthday twin is about to turn one year old (That would be my niece, Izzy-bear.  Yes, she was born on my birthday!).  What a packed year and how quickly its end approaches.  Alas, that also means the end to my local Farmer’s Market, which is about to shutdown for the winter.

I hate to admit that I ended up throwing away most of the produce I’d pick up each Sunday at the market (Told you it was a packed year!).  With mid-terms overRomanesco Head Close Up and finals not quite here yet, however, I now have a weekend or two to have some foodie fun and get my kitchen creativity on.  Yay!  Of course, as the weather is cooling down so are the in-season selections, but it also means those spring-time cool weather crops that I missed are making their second appearance like this little, difficult to find beauty: Romanesco.

I can’t believe I actually came across this lovely piece of natural art, but there it was: a bright green mound of fractal florets surrounded by colorful orange and purple cauliflower.  How could I resist?  It was like when I found those fiddle-head ferns.  I couldn’t wait to have some fun thinking up something fun and new.

Romanesco Head Close Up 2The first step, of course, was to taste the Romanesco.  From what I had read, I knew to expect some sort of cauliflower/broccoli blend.  Considering that it is also more often called Romanesco Broccoli than Romanesco Cauliflower, I was prepared for my taste buds to meet something along the metallic flavor I tend to get from broccoli.  To my surprise, I found Romanseco to have the sweeter profile of cauliflower, only nuttier, but still with the slight bite of broccoli.  If you are a cruciferous fan, I definitely recommend this veggie!

So what to do with the two heads of Romanesco I had purchased?  Since part of Romanesco Salad 2this vegetable’s appeal is it’s exotic appearance, I knew I wanted to maintain whole florets.  However, I didn’t want to just steam the Romanesco.  I mean, I was supposed to be having FUN.  So of course I turned to Emilie’s and my favorite cooking resource:  the Flavor Bible.

Now Romanesco is a bit too exotic to have its own entry in this tome, however now that I knew what it tasted like I flipped to the cauliflower entry and perused the suggested pairings…and at the top of the list, in bold type nonetheless, was…anchovies.

Huh.

Heck, why not? Time to stretch my kitchen skills after such a long hiatus, right? Right!

Romanesco Salad 1Continuing down the list, I determined  a simple, Mediterranean style dressing would be the perfect solution to show off these pretty florets both visually and flavor-wise.  And if I do say so myself,  this Romanesco salad turned out to be quite versatile. I ate it fresh (well, post photo-op) while it was warm, but throughout the week I found myself nibbling on the refrigerated leftovers.  This recipe is readily a main dish, a side dish, and a tapas and can be served warm, room-temperature, or cold. Not a bad deal, I say.

And it was definitely fun.

Mission accomplished!

Romanesco Mediterranean Salad

Ingredients

Romanesco Salad Ready for Assembly

  • 2 heads Romanesco Broccoli/Cauliflower
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, about 1/2 a lemon
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon anchovy paste
  • 2 tablespoons small capers
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs
  • cooking spray
Directions
  1. In a small bowl, combine olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and anchovy paste, whisking together until emulsified.  Set aside.Romanesco Salad Dressing
  2. Fill a saucepan with 3/4 to 1 inch of water and insert steamer basket and bring to a boil.  While waiting for the water to boil, prepare the Romanesco.
  3. With a paring knife, carefully cut florets from the Romanesco to preserve their unique fractal shape.
  4. Once the water comes to a boil, place the Romanesco florets into the steamer basket and cover.  Steam 3-5 minutes depending on desired tenderness. When finished transfer florets to a large bowl filled with cool water to stop the cooking process.  Drain and set aside.Romanesco Salad Steaming
  5. While Romanesco is steaming, spray a pan with cooking spray and heat over medium. Once pan is heated, toast breadcrumbs for about 2-3 minutes until golden. Remove from heat.
  6. In a large bowl, combine steamed florets, capers, and redpepper flakes.  Pour in the anchovy dressing and toss ingredients to coat.  Add toasted breadcrumbs and toss one more time to combine ingredients.Romanesco Salad Dressing Salad
  7. Serve at room temperature as tapas or a side dish.

Romanesco Salad 5

Lets Get Saucy: Roasted Veggies with Horseradish Buerre Blanc

I am tired of being cold. There I said it. Yesterday was the first day of spring, yet last Sunday saw 4 inches of snow dumped on DC and we are expecting another winter event next week. I think what bothers me the most is the teasing – just days before the last snow storm it was in the 70s here and I was walking to the bus stop in the morning wearing a dress and cardigan. Mother nature, YOU ARE DRUNK, go home!!!!

Despite all the snow and horrible wind-chills, there is one sure sign that spring may really be on its way. Weekly asparagus sales at grocery store. It doesn’t matter if its fat or thin, if its on sale, I’m buying it – and probably devouring it within a couple of days. Although, the way I devour it will differ depending on the girth of the stalks. Thin, spindly stalks are great for stir-fry, quiches, and risotto because it cooks quickly; while the thicker stalks stand up better to roasting and grilling.

The asparagus season coincided with me finally perfecting burre blanc sauce. A deceptively simple mix of white wine, an acid (vinegar or lemon), and butter, it can go from perfect creaminess to a mess in a matter of seconds. After lots of practice though (and maybe a bit of wasted butter), I can whip up a simple buerre blanc without thinking about it. It does have to be used all at once, as reheating it leaves with an oily separated liquid, so I still only pull it out for full meals and dinner parties, and not for many meals for one. I like to whisk in a bit of horseradish at the end, giving the sauce a fresh bite at the end.

Roasted Veggies with Horseradish Buerre Blanc

Roasted Veggies with Buerre Blanc 1

1 bunch “fat” asparagus
1 bag frozen artichoke heart quarters
8 ounces baby bella mushrooms
olive oil
salt & pepper

Horseradish Buerre Blanc
¼ cup dry white wine
3 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 large clove garlic, finely minced
½ cup butter, cubed and chilled
1 tbsp prepared horseradish

1)     Pre-heat oven to 375ºF. Place frozen artichokes in a bowl of warm (not hot) water) to defrost. Once they have mostly defrosted, drain well, squeezing very gently to remove some extra water.

2)     Wash mushrooms and cut into quarter (for medium mushrooms) or sixths (for larger mushrooms). Place in a large bowl. Trim asparagus and cut into 1 inch pieces and add to the bowl with the mushrooms. Give your artichokes one last shake to remove water and toss with the asparagus and mushrooms.

Roasted Veggies with Buerre Blanc - prepped veggies

Veggies before I defrosted the artichokes…

3)     Drizzle vegetables with a tablespoon to 2 tablespoons of olive oil and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Pour into a 9×13-inch casserole pan. Roast for about 30-40 minutes, until the leaves of the artichoke start to crisp.

4)     While the vegetables roast: In a small sauce pan, combine white wine, vinegar, and garlic. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook until the liquid has reduced by a little more than half (about 2-3 tablespoons of liquid remaining).

Roasted Veggies with Buerre Blanc - simmer wine and garlic

5)     Reduce the heat to low and begin whisking in the chilled cubed butter a piece or two at a time. In order to create a perfect creamy beurre blanc, the butter must melt slowly into the sauce. Generally, the constant addition of cold butter should keep the sauce from heating too quickly; if the butter does appear to be melting too fast, remove the pan from the heat source for a few moments while continuing to whisk vigorously.

Roasted Veggies with Buerre Blanc - finished buerre blanc

6)     Whisk in 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish and serve immediately.

Cayenne and Lime Watermelon Wedges, a Recipe from The Kitchn

CLM 5 So what do you get when you put a Political Science major and an International Affairs major in the same room on Independence Day? Lots of fireworks…figuratively and literally! I’m telling you, it gets quite interesting discussing the latest headlines when you add in our sprinklings of Psychology, Sociology, Privacy, Jane Austen, and the wisdom of bartenders. Our conversation about Chick-Fil-A was definitely worth being a fly on the wall for.

Anyway, with all that has been going on, Emilie made it perfectly clear that I would not be permitted to sequester myself for the holiday. I had to agree with her. If Pat Summit (see my last post) can keep on living her life to the fullest despite the Alzheimers, I have no excuses not to do the same. So rather than spend Independence Day having left over pancakes with Death, I chose to fill the holiday weekend with joy, friendship, delicious food and drinks, the laughter of children, minions (eeeeeep!), and of course amazing fireworks.

“It is what it is, but it becomes what you make it.” I chose to make it scrumptious!

For our pre-fireworks cookout, I was assigned fruit duty…more specifically CLM 4watermelon duty. Now you all know me, I couldn’t bring just watermelon. No, no, no that would not do at all. Okay, so how to make something already completely delectable on its own even more yummy? Enter The Kitchn’s Twitter feed and this seriously refreshing and mouth watering recipe posted by Emily Ho. I quickly shot Emilie a text. The decision was unanimous and this delightful dish found itself on our July 4th menu.

You must try this dish the next time you bring home a watermelon! The combination of spicy cayenne and zesty lime with the cool and sweet watermelon is amazing. You will not lose the flavor of the watermelon at all . Instead the salt, lime, and and itty bitty kick of spice accentuates the refreshing nature of the watermelon. Trust me on this one. It’s sure to become a staple in your summer cookout repertoire.

Cayenne and Lime Watermelon Wedges

based on a recipe from: The Kitchn

Ingredients

CLM Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon coarse salt, such as kosher or sea salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cayenne
  • 1 lime, zested and juiced
  • 1 tablespoon honey mint julep syrup*
  • chopped mint for garnish (optional
  • 1 (10-pound) watermelon, cut into wedges
*Remember to leave out the bourbon and ice!
Directions
  1. Combine the salt, cayenne pepper, and lime zest in a mortar and pestle. Grind together until combined into a nice powder. (Trick: pour into an empty spice jar for easy sprinkling.)CLM mortar pestle
  2. In a small bowl or jar, combine lemon juice with the honey mint julep syrup.CLM lime and honey
  3. Arrange the watermelon wedges on a serving platter. Drizzle with the sweetened lime juice then sprinkle a light dusting of the cayenne mixture on top.CLM lime and honey juiceCLM sprikles
  4. Serve with a garnish of chopped mint leaves if desired.CLM 1

Note: You can serve immediately…but chilling it overnight brings a whole new dimension with a sneakier kick from the cayenne. Emilie and I discovered this munching on leftovers after our Independence Day cookout. Although both ways are delicious and refreshing, I prefer the “leftovers” version myself.

Fiddlehead Ferns for a Fun Foodie Friday

Fiddlehead Fern Fun 3You’re probably wondering how the GRE went. Weeeell, not so great. My scores were okay, but when you’re competing with a lot of very talented people for a slot in a top school (or schools in my case) you need to present your best… Those scores were not my best. Before allowing the GRE and grad school applications to consume me for a second round, however, I had to drown my disappointment in something. Emilie and Tom helped with the liquid refreshment stage. The shoe stage did not go to well, but the foodie stage, on the other hand, went amazing! After all those weeks of not being able to enjoy cooking, I was so ready to do something fun. Wegman’s was more than happy to oblige with a surprise stock of…fiddleheads!

I had never seen a fiddlehead in person before, but I have stared in wonderment at them over many a glossy food magazine. Kind of weird looking, aren’t they? They remind me ofFresh Fiddlehead Ferns snail shells, but most prefer to describe them after their namesake: the curled head of a violin (or fiddle!). These suckers are pretty pricey, too! $9.99 a pound down this way. Since I had never had them before, I decided to be safe and bought half a pound. Who wants to spend $10 for a pound of something you’re not even sure you’ll like, right?

It’s a good thing I picked them up when I did. Fiddleheads, it turns out, have a Rinsing Fiddleheadsshort window of opportunity. If you did not know already, these little guys are basically baby ferns. A fiddlehead harvester has to catch them before they unfurl into mature , bitter adults. From what I read online, the season starts in April. By June, any unharvested ferns are all grown up and no longer fun to eat. That means by the time my FAFSA paperwork is due, they’ll likely be gone until next year!

So what to do if you happen to come across some fiddleheads? Number one, you do NOT eat them raw.  According to The Kitchn, deer are the only mammals that Fiddleheads Peparing Steamercan eat raw fiddleheads. The rest of us would experience some tummy troubles. No worries, a simple trip into a steamer knocks those toxins out of the danger zone. You’ll want to give them a good rinsing first, though, and trim off any browned ends. The fiddleheads I had were already chaff free, but if you find some that have a brown, papery fuzz be sure to remove it before cooking as well.

Dressing FiddleheadsWhen you take the lid off of the steamer, the fiddleheads smells like a forest after a summer rain. Very earthy and very grassy. It was oddly a rather relaxing smell.  Rather than bury the greens in a dish with complex flavors (apparently they are popular in Asian curries), I decided to go the simple route. A little bit of butter, a squeeze of lemon, and a pinch of salt.

When it came to take the first bite, I did hesitate a little. They look funny, remember? I overcame that quickly and had quite the delightful experience. You know how veggies like broccoli, asparagus, green beans, snow peas, and sometimes even lettuce can have a slight metallic flavor ?( Or at least, they do for me) . Well, the fiddleheads tasted a lot like those green vegetables, but a far more delicate version of any of them.  They are usually described as having an asparagus like flavor, but I found it more to have the texture of an al dente hericot vert and the flavor of broccoli (sans the metallic part).

So, if you are looking to indulge in a side dish for a special dinner, or just to treat yourself, I highly recommend giving fiddleheads a try! They are definitely a fun food.

Fiddlehead Fern Fun 2

Radish and Apple Slaw

Early May marks the beginning of real variety at local farmers’ markets in the mid-Atlantic region, including crunchy radishes which I recently picked up while wandering through Eastern Market on a recent Sunday. It was a big bunch of bright red radishes with their leaf greens already removed, which was too bad since I’m a big fan of trying to find the best way to prepare and serve random greens like radish and carrot greens. As I walked home I bit into one of the spicy crunchy delicacies, savoring this underrated taste of sprin.

Radish APple Slaw 2

One of my favorite ways to eat radishes is raw and undressed, either as a snack with lunch or dinner or sliced into a simple green salad. However, raw and undressed radishes, with their peppery bite, are not for everyone so I set about researching delicious ways to use radishes that would compliment the spicy taste without letting it overpower folks’ taste-buds. The first thing I tried was peas with red onions and sauteed radishes, which cut the bite of the radishes and made them a bit sweeter, but also made them soft and almost mushy which is not how a radish should be eaten. After some more research, including finding a Rachel Ray recipe for an apple and radish salad, I decided to do a radish and apple coleslaw recipe with a creamy dressing.

To complete this recipe you will need either a very steady hand and a sharp knife or a mandolin slicer with julienne capability (I received this one a few years ago from my step-sister Lindsey and am in love with it) to create the small matchstick-like pieces of radish and granny smith apple that make the recipe a coleslaw.

Radish & Apple Slaw with Cream Dill-Lemon Dressing
Serves 4

1 large granny smith apple
10 medium/large radishes
half a medium red onion
1 cup light sour cream
juice of 1 medium lemon, about ¼ cup
2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
salt & pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon poppyseeds, optional

1)      Using a mandolin or a sharp knife, cut the apple and radishes into equally sized small matchstick shaped pieces. Drizzle with about a tablespoon of the lemon juice to prevent apples from turning brown.

2)    Cut the onion in half so you have 2 quarters of the onion and slice those thinly, so the sliced layers of the onion are similar in size and shape to the julienne apples and radishes. Add to bowl and toss to evenly incorporate.

3)     Whisk together sour cream,  remaining lemon juice, dill, salt & pepper. Add to apple, radish, and onion mixture.

slaw and dressing

4)     Toss the fruit and veggies well to coat with the dressing.

Coat the veggies with the dressing

5)     Dish can be served immediately or stored in the fridge for several days. Do not be surprised in the dressing turns a slightly garish pink color, as the red skin of the radish does have that effect on the sour cream dressing.

Radish Apple Slaw 1

Purple Cauliflower and Potato Gratin – Cheesy Goodness On A Snowed In Day

Purple Cauliflower Potato Gratin 3I am debating whether to change the title of this post to Purple Cauliflower and Potato Gratin – Deliciously Cheesy But Not Quite Worth My Finger.  Or maybe I should post about sharp blade based kitchen accidents instead? Yikes! You see, this past Wednesday, our area was hit by the “snowquester”, the last (only?) big snow of the season.  It was predicted to be as big as “snowmageddon” that hit back in 2010 (now that was a snow storm!). Not even close, but still enough to keep me in for the day.  What a day to make something super creamy and cheesy, right? I decided I wanted a potato gratin and (inspired by my soon to come furlough notice)  decided I would toss in some not quite fresh but not yet spoiled purple cauliflower.  What a pretty color contrast!

Unfortunately another color almost got mixed in: red.  Even with caution, Purple Cauliflower Potato Gratin 6kitchen accidents happen.  Mandolin slicers are perfect for getting uniform potato slices. They are also quite wicked when they come in contact with your finger(s)! Ow, is an understatement to say the least.  Luckily I only lost a little chunk off the tip of my index finger.  After a few hours of applied pressure, though, I was able to finish my giant dish of cheesy, creamy comfort food for dinner.

Like I said, this dish is pretty darn delicious…but it’s not worth your finger! Have a care, my friends!

Purple Cauliflower and Potato Gratin

Serves 6-8
Ingredients

Purple Cauliflower Potato Gratin Ingredients

  • 1 head  purple cauliflower cut into florets, appx 1 pound
  • 2 large potatoes, peeled and sliced into thin rounds, appx 2 pounds
  • 1 shallot, diced or minced finely
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups divided shredded cheese, such as extra-sharp Cheddar, Parmesan, or Gruyere
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus additional for greasing dish
  • kosher salt and black pepper
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 375° Fahrenheit.  Grease baking dish with olive oil and set aside.
  2. Melt 2 tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large pan over medium high heat.  Sauté shallot and garlic until fragrant.Purple Cauliflower Potato Gratin Garlic and Shallots
  3. Add potatoes.  Cook potatoes for about 3-4 minutes, then flip and cook another 3-4 minutes.  This step helps get the potatoes cooking and infuses them with flavor. Remove from pan and set aside.Purple Cauliflower Potato Gratin Cooking Potatoes
  4. If needed, add additional butter to the pan. When melted, add cauliflower florets and cook until begin to brown. Remove from pan and set aside.Purple Cauliflower Potato Gratin Adding Cauliflower
  5.  Melt 4 tablespoons of butter over medium heat then whisk in flour.  Cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes. Purple Cauliflower Potato Gratin Making Roux
  6. Slowly whisk milk with the roux. Bring to a low boil then reduce heat. Allow to sauce to simmer and thicken, about 8 minutes. Purple Cauliflower Potato Gratin Adding Milk to Roux
  7. When sauce has thickened, season with nutmeg, salt, and pepper.  Begin to whisk in 1 ½ cups grated cheese, continuing until cheese is melted. Remove from heat.
  8. Purple Cauliflower Potato Gratin Cheese Sauce Cover bottom of baking dish with some of the cheese sauce.  Layer potatoes, followed by cauliflower, and  grated cheese. Repeat until all ingredients have been utilized.  
    Purple Cauliflower Potato Gratin Adding Cheese Sauce to Dish  Purple Cauliflower Potato Gratin Layering Gratin
  9. In a small bowl, mix bread crumbs with parsley, 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Season the  breadcrumb topping with salt and pepper. Sprinkle over the cauliflower and potatoes and bake until golden brown and bubbling, 25-30 minutes.Purple Cauliflower Potato Gratin Cheesy Melty Dish

Bursting With Mediterranean Flavors – Roasted Vegetable and Chickpea Salad

Roasted Vegetable Chickpea Salad 6

I  am hands down a carnivorous omnivore.  Maybe it is a result of how I was raised, but a meal other than dessert feels incomplete without some form of animal protein on my plate.  As you can imagine, this makes Fridays during Lent my not so favorite day of the week. After so many fish fiascos last Lent (mahi mahi poached in gin…not such a great idea lol), I decided to say a prayer (or two) and give vegetarian dishes a go. Enter this uber satisfying and full flavor pasta salad!

There is nothing like a full flavored dish with layers of texture to distract you from what you might be missing, like, say, some grilled chicken.  Toothsome Roasted Vegetable Chickpea Salad 2pasta, creamy eggplant and goat cheese, and crunchy chickpeas all keep your mouth guessing what might come next. However, the flavor and aroma are truly the stars here.  As I was building the salad and the warm ingredients hit the raw ingredients I  thought, “Oh wow, this is going to be awesome!!!” I was right! I loved how intense the roasted vegetables and raw garlic tasted and how the melted goat cheese melded all the flavors together.  However, it ultimately boiled down to whether this vegetarian dish could overcome my desire for a big ol’ juicy burger.  Verdict? Oh, definitely!

Roasted Vegetable Chickpea Salad 5

Roasted Vegetable and Chickpea Salad

serves 4 as  main course, 6-8 as an appetizer course
Ingredients
  • 2 baby eggplants
  • 1/2 cup diced roasted red bell pepper
  • 1/2 15.5 ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed clean
  • 1 small shallot, finely diced
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 ounces uncooked mini farfalle
  • 1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves torn
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (use the good stuff for this recipe!)
  • kosher salt and pepper
Directions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 400° Fahrenheit.
  2. Slice off tops from cleaned eggplants and slice eggplants in half lengthwise.
  3. Score each eggplant half by cutting shallow diagonal lines about an inch apart. Turn each piece around and cut again to create a diamond pattern.Eggplant Scored Criss Cross for Roasting
  4. Brush each egg plant half with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Lay each half face down on a baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes.Roasted Vegetable Chickpea Salad Roasting Eggplants
  5. When finished roasting, dice eggplant into bite size chunks.Roasted Vegetable Chickpea Salad Dicing Roasted Eggplant
  6. While eggplant is roasting, prepare pasta according to package directions.  You will want to have both the eggplant and pasta warm (preferably hot) for when you build the salad.
  7. To build salad, take a large bowl and add chickpeas, diced bell pepper, shallots, garlic, lemon zest, and goat cheese. Toss to combine.Roasted Vegetable Chickpea Combining Non Warm Ingredients in Bowl
  8. Now add warm egg plant and pasta to bowl.  Toss salad again. Goat cheese should begin melting and coating all the ingredients.
  9. For the finishing touches, pour lemon vinaigrette over salad along with the hand torn basil leaves. Season with kosher salt and pepper and give salad one final toss.Roasted Vegetable Chickpea Salad Tossing In Cooked Ingredients
  10. Serve garnished with fresh basil leaves.

Note: I prefer this dish warm, but it can be served cold as well.

Endive and Shaved Asparagus Salad

I recently decided that I need to pay as much attention to creating awesome side dishes as I do to creating great main dish and single dish recipes. While there is definitely something wonderful about a side of spring greens simply dressed in balsamic vinegar and oil or steamed fresh broccoli seasoned with salt and pepper,  a little creativity can help elevate the entire meal by pairing something unique with that already tasty main dish. Take, for example, the crab souffle Ruth and I made  a few weeks ago. Sure a quick spring green salad with shallots and balsamic vinegar would have been nice with the dish. But, Ruth and I aren’t the type of people who just want nice; especially  not when we are actually trying our first souffle – no we want spectacular.** So we tried our hand at endive and shaved asparagus salad with a homemade grapefruit dressing. The light tangy salad was the perfect compliment to the richness of a crab souffle and would also be a nice alternative to traditional coleslaw during the spring and summer barbecuing season.

asparagus and endive salad up close

** Even our dessert that evening was a little more special than usual, since Ruth made homemade lava cakes. Yea, we ate like queens that night.

Endive & Shaved Asparagus Salad
Serves 2 as a side

1 head of endive
12 medium/large stalks of asparagus (approximate)
1 large shallot
1 large white grapefruit
¼ -½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 ½ tablespoons Dijon mustard
salt & pepper

1)    Cut endive in quarters and then thinly slice it so the ribbons of endive are between ¼ -½ in width.

Thinly sliced endive

2)     Remove the tough bottoms and tasty tops from the asparagus stalks, reserving the tops for another dish, such as an omelet. Using a vegetable peeler, create ribbons of asparagus. You will want enough asparagus so that the salad is roughly half endive and half asparagus. Place in a medium sized bowl with a lid with the endive.

use a veggie peeler to prep asparagus

3)     Thinly slice and separate the rings of the shallot. Toss with the asparagus and endive.

4)     In a medium to large measuring cup squeeze the grapefruit so you have about 1 ½ cups of juice. Whisk in Dijon mustard, olive oil, and salt & pepper. Pour dressing over vegetables and toss to coat.

juice a grapfruit

5)     Place covered bowl in the refrigerator for at least one hour, stirring once or twice to make sure all of the vegetables get a chance to marinate in the dressing.

6)     Serve as a light, tasty side dish at a party or with a rich dish like the souffle.

dish side salad

Creamed Bok Choy an Asian Twist to a Holiday Dish

Creamed Bok Choy 5I hope everyone had a lovely holiday.  I’m sure everyone was extra nice and got some nice goodies instead of lumps of coal. Right? Hehehe! Who’s ready for the new year?

So, I’ve had a few requests to share the holiday dishes I was able to give a little Asian spin.   Today, I will be sharing my twist on creamed spinach: creamed baby bok choy.  You know how I love my bok choy! It’s one of Creamed Bok Choy 4my favorite veggies. Unfortunately,  I was unable to actually get this dish on our Christmas table due to time constraints, what with the boys having to get on the road and all, but I did make it to go with all the leftovers I’m making my way through this week.  Oh my, so so sooooo good, better than creamed spinach in my opinion with the more delicate flavor of the baby bok choy versus the more intense flavor of spinach. I went ahead and used heavy cream, but I definitely want to try this with coconut milk or almond milk   What do you guys think?

If you give this creamed baby bok choy a go, let me know how you liked it! I’ll give you the run down on the rest of my family’s Asian fusion Christmas dinner soon.

Creamed Bok Choy 7

Creamed Baby Bok Choy

serves 4
Ingredients

Creamed Bok Choy Ingredients

  • 1 pound baby “shang hai” bok choy, trimmed and sliced
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic, about 2 large cloves of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon scallions, thinly sliced whites only, about 3 small or 2 large scallions
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  •  ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Directions
  1. Heat oil in a large pan. Add garlic and scallions and cook until fragrant.
  2. Add sliced bok choy and stir fry for about a minute or two. Creamed Bok Choy Cooking GreensYou may need to add the bok choy in batches, adding more bok choy as earlier batches begin to wilt and create more room in the pan.
  3. Add chicken stock to skillet and bring to a low boil. Reduce Creamed Bok Choy Adding Brothheat to medium and cover, simmering until bok choy is tender, approximately 3-4 minutes.
  4. Once bok choy is tender, slowly whisk in heavy cream. Season with salt and pepper (I used my vanilla salt.) and bring to a gentle boil.  Reduce heat and cover. Simmer for another 2-3 minutes.
  5. Remove lid and sprinkle flour into the creamed bok choy. Creamed Bok Choy Checking CreaminessWhisk until incorporated.  Re-cover pan and continue to simmer until mixture is creamy about another 2-3 minutes.
  6. Remove from heat. Season with additional salt and pepper before serving  if needed.

Creamed Bok Choy 6

Marinated Antipasti Vegetables

I’m a fan of hosting parties at my place, especially now that I have an apartment that is all my own. Sure its a bit stressful making sure the house is clean, you have enough ice, and planning the menu; but the final product is completely worth it. A night in with good friends is hands down one of the best ways to spend your time. You aren’t yelling over bad music to be heard, fighting for the attention of the bartender, or  paying an arm and a leg for over-priced, watered-down drinks. Instead, you get plush chairs, great company, and the option to choose the best entertainment for your group, whether that’s lots of talking, a few board games, or an impromptu dance party.

So it was with a bit of fanfare a few weeks ago that I hosted some friends for an evening of wine, food, and conversation.  I decided on an antipasto menu with cheese, cured meats, bread, olives, and veggies. Most of the spread was easily purchased at Trader Joe’s, thanks to their amazing and inexpensive cheese selection. I also picked up a few jars of olives, a tapenade, and some meats.  While it would have been just as easy to pick up a few jars of pickled veggies to go with everything, I wanted to make sure that there was something homemade on the table. I chose to marinate  artichokes and mushrooms  in place of the traditional giardiniera selection of pickled cauliflower and carrots. If you aren’t a fan of mushrooms, or finding frozen artichokes is proving a bit difficult,  I think this would work with blanched asparagus, roasted red peppers, or halved cherry tomatoes.

Lemon-Thyme Marinated Artichokes

1 12 ounce bag frozen artichokes
¼ cup quality olive oil
¼ cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons dried thyme
salt & pepper

1)     Defrost artichokes in a colander and drain well. Pat dry and put in a Tupperware container.

2)      In a small mixing bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, shallots, thyme, salt, and pepper.

3)      Pour over artichokes, stir to coat. Cover tightly and refrigerate for 24 hours, or longer to develop more flavor.

Mustard-Balsamic Mushrooms

1 package baby bella mushrooms
¼ cup olive oil, plus more for sauteing
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
1½ tablespoons dijon mustard
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
salt & pepper

1)     Wash and quarter mushrooms.

2)     Heat about a tablespoon of oil over medium heat and saute mushrooms in small batches for about 5 minutes each. Place in a Tupperware container as you finish sauteing them.

3)     Whisk together olive oil, balsamic vinegar, mustard, garlic, rosemary, salt, and pepper. Pour over mushrooms and cover tightly.

4)    Refrigerate for at least 24 hours, or longer for more developed flavor.