Saturday, May 31, 2014

Radishes, Scallions and Endive Sautéed

I offer a pure and simple side alternative to a green salad alongside grilled foods this summer.  Garden ingredients with a bite mellow out under the influence of olive oil and a quick sauté.

On their own, radishes can be cooked until they almost brown and will remind you of small red new potatoes, with a little extra spin.  Root around in your vegetable draw to see what else you can mix in or serve the radishes alone.  

Scallions add a sweet onion flavor when sautéed.  The small hearts of endives were added to the pan last since they only needed a quick bronzing.  Pick small vegetables and cut them into halves and fourths so they retain as much of their crudité look as possible.
Extra sautéed radishes can lead in a wilted kale salad the next day.  Here, sliced apples and leftover, cooked sliced potatoes were tossed together in a sauté pan with a generous amount of olive oil over medium-high heat.  They were cooked until the apples were softened and the potatoes began to crisp.  Leftover sautéed radishes joined the pan followed by a big mound of raw chopped kale.  Toss the kale to coat it with the olive oil in the pan then add apple cider vinegar, maple syrup or honey and salt and pepper.  The sweet sour dressing is a good foil to hearty kale but does not overwhelm. 

Proportions for
Apple-Radish-Potato Kale Salad
Serves 2
2/3 cup sautéed radish halves and quarters
2 small potatoes, sliced, cooked
1 apple, sliced (peeled or unpeeled)
8-10 cups chopped raw kale, torn in bite-sized pieces
3 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoon maple syrup or honey
salt and pepper
optional: 2 tablespoons raisins or other small, dried fruit

Saturday, May 24, 2014

White Bean Artichoke Salad

No matter the weather, Memorial Day kicks off summer and many of us mark the weekend by grilling outside.   White Bean Artichoke Salad is a quick side dish that compliments grilled foods, especially chicken and fish.  

If you are ready to add a new dish to your cole slaw and potato salad spread, try this salad.  You can vary the herbs to match the main course (or what is in your fridge today).  Make it ahead and spend some quality time on the deck while others tend the fire.  Don't be shy with your fresh herbs.  They impart bright flavor and contrasting texture to the bean base.  They are a sure sign that summer is finally coming. 

White Bean Artichoke Salad
8-10 portions

2 14-oz cans white beans, drained (about 4 cups cooked)
1 14-oz can quartered artichoke hearts, drained
zest of ½ lemon
juice of ½ lemon
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ cup loosely packed fresh, chopped herbs: dill, parsley, basil, etc
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Pour drained beans into a medium-large bowl.  
  2. Chop the quartered artichokes so that they are closed in size to the beans so they are easy to scoop up and eat with a fork.  In the photo, they’ve been cut into one-third chunks.  
  3. Add the artichokes to the beans.  
  4. Zest half a lemon over bean mixture, then add the juice of the halved lemon and olive oil.  Stir mixture together, using a light touch so that beans do not get mashed.  
  5. Next add the fresh herbs, salt and pepper.  Mix everything together.  Cover and store in the refrigerator for at least one hour or overnight. 
Bonus Round
Leftover White Bean Artichoke Salad is delicious stuffed into a tortilla wrap with a little lettuce for a quick lunch or snack.  You can also puree the marinated bean salad with some added olive oil or broth for a quick bean dip. 

Saturday, May 10, 2014

How to Make Real Pink Lemonade for Mom

What’s in pink lemonade?  Could be anything but most recipes just add red food coloring.  What’s  in red food coloring? You can do better for Mom. 

We put an ounce or two of ruby red cranberry juice in our lemonade to make it blush.  Pomegranate or cherry juice will work too.  It’s a small amount so the flavor is not affected.

You can do this with any good store bought lemonade made with real- not artificial- sweeteners.  There are more brands available that have purer natural ingredients like actual sugar.  Or, because it’s Mother’s Day, you could make lemonade from scratch. It is very easy. 

First you make simple syrup, which is sugar dissolved in boiling water.  Make it about an hour ahead of time or replace some of the water in the lemonade recipe with ice to cool your drink down quickly.   Then you squeeze some lemons and mix in cold water with the simple syrup.  Spike with cranberry juice to make it pink.

Pure Lemonade
Makes about 32 ounces
½ cup fresh lemon juice (about 4 lemons)
3-4 cups cold water
3-6 ounces simple syrup (more if your like your lemonade a little sweeter)

Squeeze lemons to make ½ cup juice.  Pour juice into a pitcher.  Add 3 cups of water and 3 ounces simple syrup.  Taste.   Add more water or syrup to suit your palate.  We like ours lemony and not too sweet.  We use 3/12 cups of water and 3 ounces of simple syrup for every 1/2 cup of lemon juice. 

Make it Pink!
Add 2-4 ounces cranberry or pomegranate juice

Simple Syrup
Makes about 6 ounces
½ cup sugar
½ cup water

Combine water and sugar in a heavy bottomed pan.  Mix to combine and bring to a boil.  Lower heat to simmer and stir to dissolve sugar.  Remove from heat as soon as liquid is no longer cloudy.  Allow to cool before using.  Caution the mixture is very hot.

Simple Syrup will keep.  Store it, covered, in the refrigerator.
You can add flavor to simple syrup while it is still hot.  Try one of these to get pure natural flavors: slices of ginger, a vanilla bean pod, sprigs of fresh mint or citrus rind (no pith).  Remove the flavoring ingredients before adding to lemonades, seltzer or mixed drinks. 

Post Script
Recently I’ve heard from a few friends and colleagues who tell me they are finally getting off artificial sweeteners  I am so proud of everyone who is making this effort and I know it is hard.  If you medically able to enjoy real sugar you will find that you are more satisfied and, over time, you will use less and less sugar. 

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Basil Mayo, Bacon and Tomato on Potato Chips

The title of this post is pretty much the recipe.  Basil Mayo, Bacon and Tomato on Potato Chips.  A simple twist on the classic BLT and sharable. 

The basil mayonnaise takes under a minute to make, starting with a good quality store-bought mayonnaise, some fresh basil leaves and a little lemon juice.  Per person, figure on about 2 strips of cooked bacon and ½ cup of grape tomatoes.  We used kettle chips but any thick chip you like will work.

It’s fun to let everyone assemble these mini hors d’ouevres themselves.  We liked the full set up best—a thick potato chip dipped in spring-green mayonnaise and topped with some bacon and half a grape tomato.  The mayonnaise helps the other ingredients hang onto the chip.  We did a taste test with our friend, Heidi, who created a simple variation with a grape tomato half smeared with basil mayonnaise.  Basil loves tomato and tomato loves basil back. 

Once you make these, you’ll start to think about adding flavored mayonnaise to rev up regular sandwiches.  This basil version goes well in a regular BLT and compliments any sandwich with lots of veggies or sliced chicken.  You could even mix basil mayonnaise into egg or tuna salad. 

Green Basil Mayonnaise
Makes a little over 1 cup

1 cup fresh basil leaves (tightly packed)
3/4 cup mayonnaise
¼ cup plain whole yogurt
juice of ½ lemon
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

  1. In a small food processor (or my hand) finely chop basil leaves.
  2. Add mayonnaise and yogurt and blend well.  
  3. Add lemon juice and olive oil. Blend together and taste.  
  4. Add a pinch of salt and taste again. Add pepper if desired. 
Place a small bowl of basil Mayonnaise on a platter and surround with dippers.   Bacon and  sliced grape tomatoes. with chips or sturdy baby romaine lettuce leaves.   Refrigerate leftover dip and use within 2 days.

Many thanks to Heidi, our hand model for this post.  In real life Heidi protects us, the land and its creatures as a Law Enforcement Ranger with the National Park Service.