Caprese Salad

I made the most amazing salad for dinner the other night.  I know, I know, everyone knows how to make a caprese salad, but wait.  Look at this beauty.  I used small mozzarella balls, grape tomatoes that I halved, micro greens for garnish and to top it all off, balsamic reduction.  OMG!!!

You’re thinking, Lynn, get a grip, but I want you to realize how wonderful a plate of veggies can be.  Sometime you just want something light and refreshing.  I’m not a good meat eater, so after a day or 2 of having meat, I want something light.  G had this with a pork chop, but this is all I had for dinner and I was totally full and happy.

I bought individually wrapped mozzarella balls at Costco.  They are so cute.  They actually come 3 mini balls in each package.  The only problem I have sourcing ingredients is the micro greens.  I currently pick them up at Trader Joe’s, but I don’t know how long that will be an option for me.  Unfortunately, I’m currently housebound.  I’ve had some absolutely incredibly loving helpers, but it’s hard to expect them to go to TJ’s for micro greens.  If anyone knows of any here on my Island, please let me know.

Balsamic Reduction:

2 cups balsamic vinegar

1 cup Ruby Port (it must be Ruby, not Tawny)

1 large tablespoon brown sugar

Combine all in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and continue cooking until sauce has reduced to 1 cup.  This should take about 45 minutes to an hour.  You will want to use it on just about everything.  I keep it it a squirt bottle.  It will last quite awhile, unless you are like us and use it on everything.

*  From the Recipe Box:

I originally included this reduction recipe in Sept. 2018, but it deserves to be included twice.  Trader Joe’s and Costco each sell a good reduction as well.

and remember:  The Dalai Lama said it best:  Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries.  Without them, humanity cannot survive.  Big kiss, Lynn  ( I thought of this quote after reading about the woman who was making brown bag lunches and leaving them out for people who needed them.  About the teacher who drove by each of her student’s houses and held up a sign that said “I miss you”.  About the hot meals at rest stops being made for the truckers.  Ultimately, it’s about the people on the front lines:  the doctors, nurses, EMT’s, grocery workers, your help at the drive up window, truck drivers.  A huge thank you one and all and a major big kiss!!!!!!)

Spinach Salad

The sis-in-law (hereafter known as S-I-L or L) made the most wonderful salad for Thanksgiving.  It was something C the MP requested.  She used to make it all the time.  Remember how I was telling you recipes fall out of the rotation, well this one did for no particular reason.   We all loved this salad, but did I get pictures or the recipe then?  Of course not, I was much too busy having a good time.  Fortunately, the S-I-L took pity on me and made it again.

I think I mentioned how we have been having a Harry Potter marathon.  I lead a very exciting life filled with a variety of fun events.  Don’t judge me.  P and L and G and I get together every couple of weeks and watch 2 more of the movies.  We take an intermission after the first movie and have lunch.  This week it was P’s birthday so I made scalloped oysters and L made spinach salad and coconut shrimp.  Since it was a special day, we all had a feast.

So, what is it about this salad that is so satisfying?  The components are simple:  fresh spinach, hard cooked eggs, crisply fried bacon, miniature corn on the cob, sliced red onion, fresh shrimp and a wonderful honey vinaigrette.  I like having plenty of dressing, so I’ve enlarged the ingredients in the parenthesis.

1/4 cup mayonnaise (1 cup)

2 tablespoon vinegar (1/2 cup)

2 tablespoons honey (1/2 cup)

1 teaspoon prepared mustard (1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon)

Mix all ingredients.  Place in refrigerator for several hours to let ingredients blend.

The leftovers

*  From the Recipe Box:

This is a lovely salad that never feels heavy.  I could eat it every day.

I like the canned corns cut into 1 to 1 1/2 inch lengths before I combine everything in the salad bowl.  They roll around if you try and cut them when it’s time to eat.

and remember:  And then I decided that being sad was just a huge waste of precious time.  Big kiss, Lynn

 

 

Salsa?

I love Ted Kennedy Watson.  I love his blog, his Instagram, his stores, his recipes; I’m a fan.  I could go on and on and tell you all the amazing things about him, but this is really about a recipe on his blog a couple of weeks ago.

There is one problem, he calls it a summertime salad, but I called it a bean salsa.  It is similar to my mom’s bean salad, but it just leans towards salsa to me.  I did break my rule of always following the recipe as written the first time you make it, but sometimes you just can’t wait.

Start by mincing one half cup red onion, cover with your favorite vinegar, and pickle to mellow the onion for a few hours.

Lightly cook 5 ears of corn and cut off the kernels.

Remove the seed and juice and medium chop about 2 cups of tomatoes.

Remove the seed and medium chop 1 large cucumber.

Julienne 1/2 cup cilantro

Drain 2 cans of black beans.

Add everything together in a bowl, pour over some extra virgin olive oil and mix lightly.  This is great both cold or room temperature.

Ok, you know me. Gluten-free girl was up the day I was making this.  She’s quite a cook in her own right.  She had some excellent suggestions.  It almost becomes a game.  First, we forgot to pickle the onion, so I don’t know if that makes a huge difference.  I was too lazy to cook corn, you now me.  If you use frozen corn, 1 to 1 1/4 cups corn equals approximately 5 ears.  I misread the recipe and thought it called for 2 cups canned tomatoes.  That worked out just fine.  We drained the beans, but next time I would rinse them as well.  We added S & P and some taco seasoning.  We like things a little spicy.  We let it sit for a while and then tried it with corn chips.  Nummy.

I’ve tried quite a few of his recipes; I’ll remember to share them soon.  They’ve all been good.  Thanks, Ted.

and remember:  Promises mean everything, but after they are broken, sorry means nothing.  Big kiss, Lynn

Caesar Salad Handheld

We went to lunch at T and B’s last week.  I’ve mentioned her before; I steal get some of my best ideas from her.  This meal was no exception.  She served grilled flank steak, baked potatoes and, wonder of wonders, handheld Caesar salad.  I know what you’re thinking, messy messy.  But, no.  I’m going to share her recipe and then I’m going to tell you how I’ve already changed it up.  I can’t help myself.

The Hunka-hunka and I had a delightful day.  We took the ferry early and headed to Ikea.  Is that not the most amazing store ever?  Ours was recently remodeled and I was totally lost.  G managed to find the bookcases he wanted for his office though.  By the time we made it to T and B’s, I was pooped.  A couple of shots of Rye from my host fixed me right up and prepared me for a nummy late lunch.

While everything was scrumptious as always, the salads were extra special.  I’d never had anything like this before so it made it noteworthy for me.

This recipe is for 6.

3 hearts of Romaine lettuce

6 strips cooked bacon

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

6 tablespoons Caesar dressing

fresh black pepper

lemon wedges

Slice the Romaine hearts in half lengthwise.  Arrange Romaine on a platter and top each with 1/2 of the dressing.  Add 1 bacon slice to the top of each of the six wedges and sprinkle with Parmesan.

Just before serving, drizzle with the remaining Caesar dressing and a sprinkling of fresh black pepper.  Top with more cheese.

Serve immediately, with lemon wedges.

While it was only a week ago, I’ve already made it a time or 2.  The changes I’ve made include chopping the bacon so it’s easier to cut.  G and I like Blue Cheese dressing a lot, so I made it with that.  I put my dressing in a small bowl so you could either dip or pour.   I buy miniature Romaine heads that are only about 6 inches long and they are cute and chubby.  One head will serve 3 to 4 as a salad course.  While the recipe was called “handheld”, don’t feel like you must.  I eat it with fork and knife, but it is fun to have the option.  Thanks for another great recipe Barbara.

and remember:  Suck it up, Buttercup.  Big kiss, Lynn

Soy Eggs via Momofuku

I love eggs.  As much as I love my watermelon and asparagus, if I could only have one food the rest of my life, it would be eggs.  As a result, I’m constantly looking for ways to expand my egg repertoire.  So imagine my excitement when I was reading Christina Tosi’s book Milk Bar Life and spotted this super simple take on an Asian egg from Momofuku Noodle Bar.

These eggs are fabulously versatile.  Use them in salads, put them in your Top Ramen (why yes, this will totally elevate that poor college student staple), eat them with salt and pepper.  The egg white soaks up the sauce flavor and the yolks are a smidgy bit soft.  People bite into them and are mildly surprised at the flavor.

Whisk together the first four ingredients and set aside:

6 tablespoons warm water

1 tablespoon sugar

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

3/4 cup soy sauce

6 large eggs

Maldon or other flaky sea salt (I like Jacobson since it’s harvested in Oregon)

black pepper

Bring a pot of water to a boil and carefully add the eggs.  Cook for exactly 6 minutes and 50 seconds, stirring slowly the the first 1 1/2 minutes.  When the timer goes off, transfer eggs to an ice bath.  Peel the eggs in the ice water.  Transfer the eggs to the soy sauce mixture and marinate in the refrigerator for up to 6 hours, making sure they are completely submerged; if necessary top the eggs with a small plate to ensure submersion.  Mine usually end up freckled because I forget to stir them.  If the eggs touch, they don’t absorb the soy mixture on that spot.  (These do not look diseased no matter what the Hunka-hunka says.)

Remove the eggs from the soy mixture (you can save it in the refrigerator and do another batch next week).  The eggs will keep in the fridge for a month.   To serve, cut them in half, sprinkle with the flaky sea salt, a few sliced green onions and sesame seeds.  I actually like the marinade a little sweeter.  Try adding a tablespoon more sugar or a little Hoisin Sauce.  Num.

BTW, take a moment to read Christina Tosi’s 3 books.  She went from bakery helper to David Chang’s partner.  Fascinating story and great recipes.

and remember what Albert Einstein said:  Never give up on what you really want to do.  The person with the big dreams is more powerful than one with all the facts.  Big kiss, Lynn

Pea Salad

Yes, we heated up the bar-be-que this weekend.  It’s definitely that time of the year here in Washington state.  We never get the blazing hot temperatures other parts of the country receive.  I find a 75 degree day absolutely perfect to be out and about, making it time to grill.

I really don’t care about the protein element however, I’m all about the side dishes and this one is a perfect side year round.  The bright color of the peas draws your eyes to the bowl.  The Smokehouse almonds and crispy bacon add a nice color contrast.  I usually use a cheddar-Monterrey Jack cheese combo, so there’s another colorful element.  I shouldn’t forget the red onion, even though I’ve never seen a red onion that wasn’t purple.  Whatever!

The combination of the mayonnaise and sour cream is perfect with the other elements.  I often use this combination for chicken salad or apple salad.  It tastes super creamy without being heavy.  This makes a lot of dressing, but not too much if you like a moist salad.

Some salads get dangerous on the buffet table after an hour or 2, and anything with mayonnaise is high on that list.  As my mom used to say, they are breeding grounds for Sam and Ella to visit.  Mom lived in total fear of making someone sick and salmonella was number one on her list, so be sure and take precautions if you are serving this on a warm day.  My favorite safety tip is freezing discs of ice to set the bowl on.  I make up several and just keep them handy in the freezer.  You would make mom happy if you were being proactive as well.

Combine:

4 pounds frozen peas

1 red onion, diced

2 cups grated cheddar cheese

1 pound bacon, fried hard and crumbled

1 to 2 cans Smokehouse almonds

For dressing combine:

Equal amounts mayonnaise and sour cream, 1 to 1

Make early and let the flavors marry.

* From the Recipe Box:

For four pounds of peas, use approximately 2 cups each mayonnaise and sour cream

I don’t add the bacon or almonds until ready to serve.  They soften quickly.

Everyone loves this.  This might be my most requested recipe.  It originally called for water chestnuts as well, but that was not a popular addition.

Excellent buffet salad; stays fresh a long time.  Not that the salad will last a long time.

and remember:  Listen earnestly to anything your children want to tell you, no matter what.  If you can’t listen eagerly to the little stuff when they are little, they won’t tell you the big stuff when they are big, because to them all of it has always been big stuff.   Big kiss, Lynn

 

Watermelon and Feta Salad

If I were a poet, I would write sonnets to watermelon.  I love, love, love watermelon.  This beauty is my first of the year.  It’s stupid to buy it until at least June or it will be totally blah.  June is probably a little early as well, but I saw these at Costco a couple of days ago and my heart started to beat extra fast in anticipation.

Once I have my watermelon, I make it into a salad with feta cheese and basil.  I would eat this salad every day, all summer long.  Wait a minute, I do eat this salad every day, all summer long.  When I was a kid this was my favorite food in the world.  As I matured a bit, asparagus and watermelon were in a fierce competition.  While asparagus is more versatile, watermelon is the bomb-diggity.  It’s a treat, it’s like candy, it’s something I look forward to all winter.  You get the point.

 

This salad could not be any easier.  Start by wedging up several watermelon slices.  I like an approximately 1 inch cube.  Depending upon the sweetness of the watermelon, I might add a pinch or 2 of salt.  Next, I sprinkle on the Feta cheese.  Normally I like a brick of Feta, but crumbled is what they had and crumbled is what I bought.  Usually I add a chiffonade of basil.  (Chiffonade is a slicing technique in which leafy green vegetables such as spinach, sorrel, or Swiss chard, or a flat-leaved herb like basil, are cut into long, thin strips. This is accomplished by stacking leaves, rolling them tightly, then slicing the leaves perpendicular to the roll.  Feel free to thank Wikipedia for this definition.)  As you can see, I did not use basil.  Why, you might ask?  I don’t believe in running to the store for one item, so I thought I’d try parsley.  It didn’t suck, but I prefer basil.

This salad is a hot weather favorite.  Plus, it looks ever so festive.  The sweetness of the watermelon against the salty brine of the Feta simply works.  You are going to make this again and again.  Maybe you’ll even be like me and make it every day of watermelon season.

and remember what Mark Twain said:  Having tasted watermelon, I now know what angels eat.  Big kiss, Lynn