Last week was one long week. The roofers showed up Monday for the new roof, I started a new job, and allergy season hit like Mohammad Ali. By Friday night I was all in. Good news showed up in my inbox from Denison Farm though, strawberry season has started! They’re a few weeks early, but I’ll take it! The first strawberries of the season were enough to draw my itchy, watery, exhausted rear out the door and down to the farmer’s market. I had planned on getting at least a half flat, but since they only had about a flat left by the time I made it down there. There was a line behind me, so I settled for a couple of pints. There will be more strawberries to come.
The first strawberries call for something simple, I’ve waited all year to taste fresh strawberries, I want to taste the strawberry. So I settled for a classic, which is all I could handle through allergy fog anyway. I used raw almonds, if you use salted almonds I would leave the salt out.
Strawberry & Spinach Salad
2 handfuls spinach
7-8 strawberries, halved
7-8 almonds, rough chopped
Thin drizzle olive oil
Thin drizzle balsamic vinegar
Sprinkle coarse salt
Sprinkle course pepper
Layer each ingredient onto a plate, enjoy!
Raw broccoli isn’t high on my list of favorites. To be totally honest, it’s not on my list of favorites, it’s in the okay section. It’s just so…fibrous. It takes forever to chew and takes over the taste of everything else. So for this salad I do one of the following: defrost a bag of frozen broccoli and chop it, steam chopped fresh broccoli, or shred the broccoli. Shredded broccoli is my favorite but it takes the most work and clean up (drag out the mandolin, try not to maim myself using it, then clean the mandolin trying to get all the little bits of broccoli off of it). The picture is of defrosted and chopped broccoli.
This salad is supper yummy and filling. It has tons of crunch and the cranberries give it just the right amount of sweet. Poppy seed dressing (at least Annie’s brand) is pretty sweet as well. This is the only salad I use it with so far. The broccoli can take all that sweetness in stride and still be tasty broccoli. Continue reading →
When my grandmother was in her late eighties I lived with her awhile. It ended up being a fairly short time as she was in need of 24 hour company and I could not provide that. She was more than willing to give up cooking duty and I was happy to take it over. At some point she had lost interest in food and after 80 years of cooking (she started as a child helping to prepare meals) she was ready to give it up. Don’t get me wrong, she complained bitterly if I baked pie or cake or some other goodie and didn’t leave her any. She just wasn’t hungry for most meals. She had also become quite picky.
Chicken ‘n Pea Salad was one of the things I could routinely serve that she would eat. It’s also something that you can whip up quick after working all day. You can use up leftover chicken or defrost and grill up some (breaded tenders would be quite tasty). There always seems to be a bag of peas in the freezer (it feels empty without them) and some pasta sitting in the cupboard waiting to be used up. I’m not sure it’s allowed not to have ranch dressing in the fridge, at least not with my family. You can make it as basic or fancy as your audiences taste buds will allow, throw in some diced onion or shredded carrots. I normally use shell shaped pasta but I didn’t have any, the macaroni works just as well. Continue reading →
I was looking for ways to use hard boiled eggs when I came across a recipe for pan bagnat. According to Wikipedia it’s a sandwich from Nice, France. In the local dialect, the name translates as wet bread. You stack the ingredients on the bread, after removing enough to make a trench, then pour the dressing over it, and set it aside for some time.
French dips, hot roast beef with gravy, even some people’s French toast, are just not my style. I’m not much for soggy bread but the sandwich sounded really good otherwise! That’s when I realized I could turn it into a salad. I thought about leaving the bread completely out and calling it something else. But while this recipe was percolating in the back of my mind, I started thinking more about bread. Most recipes that combine liquid with bread are an effort to revive stale bread. Until fairly recently most bread was much thicker and coarser than what we normally eat. The bread normally used for the sandwich is a crusty wheat bread; this was starting to make sense. I decided to give it a try. I still don’t know if I would like the sandwich but the salad was right tasty! The bread absorbed just enough dressing that it was damp but not soggy.
Market of Choice carries a demi baguette that I adore (just big enough for two servings). However, I didn’t use it right away and it became stale. I won’t say I could’ve drove nails with it, but it was close. If you use stale bread, please be careful cutting it! Continue reading →
As a kid you don’t really question the names of things, but as we grow older we may notice the inconsistencies of our language. Salad is one such inconsistency. As a child I never once pondered why a fruit dish heaped in whipped cream would be called salad and served with the main meal. Even as I learned to make whipped cream for said fruit dish, I never once questioned why it was called salad. It was what it was and I did not question it (I’m sure there is some existential story in here if I really dug for it). Perhaps it’s because my family didn’t eat many salads made from greens, they were too expensive. But at some point I asked, why do we call this salad?
This question grew when I first started visiting buffets and was baffled to find mousse and whipped cream at the salad bar. Aren’t they supposed to be on the dessert bar? Why do we call it chicken salad? Why do we call it egg salad? While you can argue the token celery and green onion in chicken salad, there were no vegetables in our egg salad.
The fruit salad my mom made was a monument to the 60s and 70s. The ingredients were easy: canned fruit salad (canned grapes are really, really sad), an apple, a banana, and as many maraschino cherries as you thought you could afford to include dressed with whipped cream. As whipped topping came down in price the whipped cream was replaced with whipped topping. Fruit salad was served at holiday dinners as part of the meal, not to be confused with the pie that we would have for dessert. By the next day it was a sad dish as the cream would have started to separate, the bananas turn brown and mushy, and you could see the poor canned grapes. All the maraschino cherries would have been dug out by then of course.
So this is not my mom’s fruit salad. I’m sure her original recipe would have called for coconut; however, since she did not like coconut ours never had it. Tropical fruit would have cost way too much when I was growing up and nobody but health nuts eat yogurt. This salad will last a couple days in the fridge without separating looking sad. I kept the maraschino cherries though, but you might want to wear gloves when you cut them in half. They can stain your nails. Continue reading →
Have you had those days in the kitchen? I had one of those days in the kitchen. I had exactly what I was going to make all planned out. I cut up all the costarring ingredients only to find out my star ingredient had gone bad. Guess it’s been a few days longer than I thought.
So then I decided to make this dressing. Curry is one of my favorite flavors and it’s something I always have in the house, only, I couldn’t find it. I took most of the stuff off my seasoning shelf and no curry. Seriously? I was tired, I was grumpy, my food wasn’t turning out right after lots of work and cleaning out the fridge to see what was actually still edible. There HAD to be curry. Of course there was, I just had to get a stool and nearly empty the cupboard before I could find it. Success! And tasty success it is!
Warning! This is a fiery dressing. Know how kitchen advice from professionals always tell you to wear gloves to cut up hot peppers? Ya, I never do that. It’s never been a problem, still isn’t. The advice that you should wash your hands immediately after handling them? That one I usually follow. Usually. Apparently not today. This information over at Livestrong is good stuff and what I ended up doing after touching the really sensitive skin around my eye (but thankfully not my eye!). Make sure you use a good quantity of soap and the aloe really does help. Somedays being in the kitchen isn’t for the faint of heart. Continue reading →
I adore fresh pineapple. I like cucumber as well. Adding something spicy to these basic ingredients seemed like a good idea. I generally like foods from South East Asia, well, all of Asia really. And although I hadn’t cooked with it, shrimp paste seemed like it should be somewhat like fish sauce which I know I’ve had.
I tracked some dried shrimp paste down at the store and noticed that it seemed to have a pungent scent. I brought it home and put it in the cupboard until I bought the other ingredients. The next few times I opened the cupboard, I noticed it had a VERY pungent scent and I hoped it wasn’t causing trouble with the other food. It was all I could smell every time I opened those doors. It wasn’t particularly a bad smell, sort of like fish bouillon.
So I got all my ingredients together and opened the shrimp paste. This was when real concern started. It was wrapped in four layers of paper and plastic. The two plastic layers were sealed. I began to ponder something that could that strongly through so much wrapping but carried on, there was salad to be made! I mixed the dressing together and set it aside and then processed the other ingredients. Not wanting to waste a whole pineapple on something I might not like I tried the dressing before adding it. Hmm, it seemed okay. It seemed like something I would eat so I poured it over the salad and set it to chill.
I didn’t actually eat the salad that night; I had made too much other food. But I noticed that my fridge smelled fishy the rest of the night. The next morning I opened the fridge and about chocked, it smelled like rotten fish. I quickly got what I was after and shut it. A little later and much less bleary eyed, I checked on the salad again. It stunk. It smelled like rotten fish. I put a little in a bowl, determined to see if the pineapple could be saved. Now, I’m a fan of food and I and most of my friends consider my palate to be pretty wide. I like frog legs, I’m a fan of haggis, I’ll try anything at least once and probably twice just to make sure I don’t like. I tried one piece of pineapple but when I gagged on the second piece I decided I had tried enough and threw the whole stinking thing out. It tasted exactly like it smelled, like rotten fish.
Anyone familiar with shrimp paste? Did I do something wrong here? I have a whole block of it left and I hate to throw food out so I would gladly take suggestions! Continue reading →
The dressing goes together relatively fast. Once the bacon is cooked it just takes minutes to finish up.
This salad really doesn’t keep well, most dressed salads don’t. I did have leftovers though and trying to be frugal I drained the salad really well, moved it to a sealable container, and decided to see what it was like the next day. It was okay. The flavor was still really good but the texture and looks were, well, very wilted. It’s also pretty salty the next day. Rather than eat it cold, as I did, you could try heating it and have cooked spinach instead of salad. All the ingredients would stand up to a sauté, as long as it was quick. Continue reading →
I love store bought drinks that come in glass bottles. Coffees, teas, juices, their bottles all get reused at my house, usually for dressing, smoothies, or water. Since they’re glass they’re dishwasher safe (always a must for me). I like em because if something happens to them I get to splurge by picking up another full one. If they get to used looking, I just recycle them. Continue reading →
Deep fried what? When I found these once before, that was what everybody asked. A local store had them in their display of dried foods from a local vendor. They were okay, a bit hard but tasty and a refreshing change.
I had a chance to visit The Oregon Zoo last week and so made a detour to one of my favorite stores, Uwajimaya. I hadn’t been there in years and my friend was up for the further adventure. Continue reading →