7-Layer Salad

This salad positively screams the 60’s.  I have a copy in my recipe box, there’s a copy in mom’s.  It was at every holiday meal and everyone would have been disappointed if it wasn’t.  You could change it up with crab or shrimp.  You could turn it into a Chef’s salad.  My favorite part was having the dressing on top when you were ready to go.

How do some recipes become such a ubiquitous part of an era?  And then, where do they go?  When was the last time you saw a 7-layer salad?  Well, I’m going to change that at our house.  Ever since I spotted the recipe cards, I’ve been possessed to make one.   I’m pretty sure it’s going to be part of my summer rotation especially adding a layer of crab.  Num!

The other thing that makes this special is the bowl.  Yes, I’m a bowlaholic, but there aren’t any meetings to help with this and I wouldn’t go if there were.  I love bowls big and small.  (Don’t even start me on my drinking glass selection.)  Back when this salad was first popular, I remember it was served in a 9 x 13 inch pan.  Awkward.  The first serving was always a mess waiting to happen.  Now I’ve found the perfect straight sided bowl making it possible to see all the layers plus have some room to mix in the dressing.

In a 9 x 13 inch baking dish or a straight sided bowl layer:

½ head iceberg lettuce, shredded

1 cup frozen peas, thawed

½ red onion, sliced and separated

½ pound ham, sliced or cubed

1 cup corn kernels

½ pound bacon, cooked and crumbled

1 to 2 cups grated cheddar cheese

Dressing:

1 cup mayonnaise

Juice of 1 lemon

2 teaspoons salt

½ teaspoon pepper

Combine dressing ingredients and spread on salad.  Keep chilled until ready to serve.  It will stay fairly crisp for a goodly amount of time on a buffet table.

* From the Recipe Box:

Crab or shrimp makes a good layer instead of the ham.

I like romaine and shredded cabbage as the first layer as well.

and remember:  Everything becomes funnier when you aren’t allowed to laugh.  Big kiss, Lynn 

Broccoli Salad

Bear with me, I’m on a salad kick.  I love salads.  They follow soup as my favorite thing to eat.  Eating one forkful of sameness bores me.  I want to see how many flavors I can get onto each fork and that’s what salad provides.  Plus, summer is salad season and the sun is shining here and I’m ready for picnics and parties.

When I’m standing at a buffet table, I stop and scope it out before I make any snap decisions.  I look for old favorites.  Next, I look for something unique with ingredients I like.  That’s how some of my recipes evolve.  I’ve been making this salad for 20 years.  And then, one day, I was at a bridal shower and some genius included red grape halves in their recipe.  I immediately pulled out my notebook (yes, I always carry a notebook), and wrote that incredible idea down.  I’ve not made broccoli salad since then without including grapes.  They add just the right touch of sweetness.  Yes, the craisins add sweet, but they add tart as well.  The grape addition is mellow.

I know I’m getting a little too gung ho about salads, but be open to changing your recipes.  Keep an open mind about additions or subtractions to what you’re making.  You might find just the thing to take your creation over the top.  And remember, broccoli is a super food, so eat lots!

Combine for salad:

4 to 5 cups broccoli flowerets

1 cup raisins or craisins

1 cup red grapes, halved

1 cup salted sunflower seeds or sliced almonds

10 slices bacon, fried hard and crumbled

Combine for dressing:

½ cup mayonnaise

3 to 4 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Mix and add right before serving.

* From the Recipe Box:

I double or triple the dressing amounts.  Everyone prefers the salad moist.

Craisins add a nice color contrast.

I like diced red onion in it as well, but I’m in the minority so I only occasionally add it, but you should.

Sits on a buffet a long time without getting icky.

and remember:  There is a super hero inside all of us; we just need the courage to put on the cape.  Big kiss, Lynn

Marinated Asparagus

For years and years, I had 2 favorite foods:  watermelon and asparagus.  I have a watermelon recipe that I’ll share with you during that season, but for now we’ve got to focus on asparagus.  After all, it’s spring!  I’m not especially fond of the asparagus spears the size of a pencil.  I want robust stalks, up to a 1/2 inch in diameter.  They have the most flavor.  I roast them in the oven, I’ll fry them in a fry pan, I add them to omelets, I love them in stir-fry.

I know the Spanish invented Tapas, but I think with our family’s love of hors d’ouerves, we probably just missed the opportunity of copyrighting them and beating them to the punch.  Whether you call them hors d’ouerves, appetizers, or nibbles, I love a spread of options.  I want to go down the buffet table and take one or two small bites of everything that looks even marginally nummy.  Then I’ll go back and take a few more of what really appealed to me.   I don’t want to be caught throwing something away and perhaps hurting someone’s feelings.  I have advanced Norwegian guilt, thank you very much.

This is another treat from mom’s recipe box.  She made this frequently.  Now don’t laugh, but I love these in my breakfast omelets with a few grape tomatoes halved.  So, you don’t have to worry about leftovers.  They are great in green salads.  The blanching you give them keeps the asparagus fiercely green.  Next time I may try this with black sesame seeds.  I bet it would give it a totally different look, maybe a little on the exotic side.  I think it’s time to start planning my next cocktail party.

3 Tablespoons vegetable oil

2 tablespoons white sesame seeds

3 tablespoons vinegar:  apple cider, white or rice wine

3 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoons soy sauce

Salt to taste

1 to 1 ½ pounds asparagus, cut into 1 ½ inch lengths.

Heat oil and sesame seeds together until light brown.  Add vinegar, sugar, soy sauce and salt, mix together.

Blanch asparagus until just tender yet still crisp.  Pour sauce over asparagus, mix and refrigerate.

* From the Recipe Box:

This is a light and springy appetizer that mom made as long as she was able to get fresh asparagus.

Silver bowls with asparagus, Hazel nuts and dried cherries are the perfect nibble.

and remember what Mark Twain said:  20 years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do then by the ones you did do.  So, throw off the bowlines.  Sail away from the safe harbor.  Catch the trade winds in your sails.  Explore.  Dream.  Discover.  Big kiss, Lynn

Side Dishes are Faboosh

I want my plate to be balanced.  I don’t really care about my protein, vegetables and carbs being in balance, even though I know I should.   But, I do care about color and making sure everything on the plate stands out.  This is why side dishes become so important.  Here’s a good example.  I started stir frying pea pods and grape tomatoes a couple of years ago.  Why?  Why not.  I had extra tomatoes that were right on the edge of wrinkled.  I cut the tomatoes in half to help release the juices, and if the pods were too big, I chopped them as well.  A little olive oil and some S & P  in a pan and there you go.  This has turned out to be one of my favorite sides and probably my easiest.  And look at that color.

And then there’s my favorite green, arugula.  I love laying a bed of greens down on a plate before I put the main protein component down.  I’ll put a couple of handfuls of arugula in a bowl and toss it with olive oil and S & P.  If I’m serving pasta, I’ll put some on one side of a pasta bowl and then add the pasta.  It makes the pasta pop.  Or, it will be the bed for something ultra special like my crab cakes.  I’ve included this picture before, but it’s such a good example.  Would the crab cakes stand out without the green curly arugula leaves?  I don’t think so.  Sliced rotisserie chicken looks much more special if you have arugula and balsamic reduction on the plate first.

Greg has always disliked coleslaw.  He thinks it’s the cabbage.  I think he’s wrong; he just never had the right dressing.  When we started making pulled pork a few years back, I wanted coleslaw to go with it.  I found the perfect ingredient to make the dressing sing…sweet chili sauce.  I know what you’re thinking, “Isn’t that for Asian food?”  My answer to that is why limit yourself.  Depending on how much slaw I’m making decides how much mayonnaise I need.  I use the sweet chili sauce to thin the mayo.  Adjust the amount to your taste buds.  I like it spicy, you might not.  Give it a try, it’s really a refreshing dressing for coleslaw.

Bottom line, I love color on my plate and I bet you will too.

and remember:  Trying to understand the behavior of some people is like trying to smell the color 9 or the number blue.  Big kiss, Lynn

Grandma’s Carrot Salad

Do you like carrot salad?  I grew up with it on the dinner table.  We either had it or a bowl of sliced cucumbers and onions in vinegar.  I’ve always had a fondness for both.  I found a note in my grandma’s recipe box about carrot salad and whether it was better to grate or chop the apple.  She decided chop.

I’ve tried to modernize the ingredients a little bit.  She called for field carrots, a handful of raisins and a chopped apple.  I know the average person thinking about carrot salad does not visualize an apple, but it provides the sweetness of the pineapple you’re probably used to and pineapple was not readily available for a Minnesota farm wife.  I’m assuming field carrots are just the average garden variety carrot.  I was lucky enough to find this huge bag of multi-colored carrots at Costco.  I’m a sucker for any vegetable that’s out of the ordinary color-wise.  These also looked cool on my veggie tray last weekend.  Oops, I got distracted again.

When I grated the carrots, I decided to do them individually to keep the colors from getting muddled.  If you love carrots like I love carrots, you are going to be mass impressed by how they look.  The combination of different colors really makes the salad much more festive.

I didn’t make a whole bunch since it was just the Hunka-hunka and I and he hates carrots.  But, then the unthinkable happened.  He said, “you’d better let me taste it”, and I just about dropped the whole bowl of salad with shock.  But, then the unthinkable happened again.  He said, ” this is good!”.  My heart is not strong enough for this kind of shock.  He’s been such a good sport about trying recipes for the cookbook, I really don’t expect him to try things he doesn’t like.  This must prove how fabulous Grandma’s carrot salad is.  The secret is the apple!

1/2 pound carrots, shredded

1/3 cup golden raisins or craisins

½ cup chopped apple

1/3 cup mayonnaise

2 or 3 tablespoons sugar

Combine the carrots, raisins, mayonnaise, and sugar in a small bowl. Chill for several hours or overnight

As always, the amounts are only approximate.  I’m an ooey-gooey mayonnaise user and you might like it a bit more dry.

*     From the Recipe Box:

I combine the Mayonnaise, sugar and raisins or craisins together and let them sweeten up a little before adding it to the carrots.

I’m having trouble photographing dark reds for some reason.   Remember the ligonberry jam?  Those are craisins in the mayo, not small pebbles.

and remember:  You always have the right to change your mind.  Big kiss, Lynn

Roasted Veggies are Divine

I love vegetables, all vegetables, but roasted veggies are the absolutely mostest fabulous!  Roasting makes all the vegetables sweeter, more decadent.  Hand me a peeled raw carrot and I’m a happy girl.  Hand me a plate of roasted sliced carrots liberally salted and peppered with a large pat of butter on top and I could sing several choruses of “I’m in Heaven”.  For those of you not as fond of veggies as I, yes, like the Hunka-hunka, I feel for you and can only hope you will eventually learn and grow.

 

Ah, potatoes.  Lately, I’m able to find miniature potatoes at the store.  Typically they are approximately 1 to 2 inches in diameter.  Cute, cute, cute.  I don’t even cut them.  During the summer, I go through pounds and pounds of Russet or red potatoes in the search for the perfect oven fry.  Everyone loves them.

     

And, squash.  This has been my go-to baked veggie since I was a little girl.  My mom would bring a huge Hubbard squash home and we would eat on it for a week or so.  They have such a tough skin, she would often need to use an ax to separate it into pieces.  I never bake it with brown sugar or into pie.  I love the clean taste of the squash, as long as I get my salt, pepper and butter.

    

This holds true for all the vegetables I cook.  I pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees.  The veggies are cut into the correct size for whatever I’m serving.  They go onto the pan followed by a liberal drizzle of olive oil and a heavy sprinkling of salt and pepper.  Give them a good mix.  Baking times range mightily.  Squash may take 15 minutes if you cut it into 1 inch cubes.  A large Russet potato cut into 8 sections could easily take 45 minutes.  You will have to learn your vegetables.  The amount of surface is key.  Plus, you don’t want to overcrowd your pan or they won’t crisp, they will simmer.

Give these old root vegetables a try; you might find yourself turning into a veggie appreciator as well.  And I haven’t even begun to mention how good they can be in soup!

and remember:  Too bad you don’t live closer, because there are evil plots to be hatched and twisted deeds to be done.  Big kiss, Lynn

All-You-Can-Eat Veggie Soup

 

I’m still loving soup this week.  That’s not true, I love soup every week except for maybe August in the Pacific NW when soup is a bit much.

When I was working, everyone was always looking for the perfect diet fix.  You were supposed to eat this soup when you were hungry and it would fill you up and then you would eat a light meal.  You know that’s not why I eat this soup.  I eat it because it’s good.

This reminds me of my mom’s vegetable beef soup recipe.  You could go that route with beef broth and shredded beef if you choose.  I like this for the broth.  I really enjoy the clean fresh flavor of having only vegetables.  If you like vegetarian Pho, it has a similar subtlety without the complexity inherent in a meaty Pho broth.  While I’m not a vegetarian, I never miss meat, not when I have quick and easy vegetable soup to slurp up.

I usually leave out the parsnips.  They are just a little too woody for me and there’s not enough flavor to make them worth my time.  I also throw in a handful or 2 of small cherry tomatoes because I think they look cute.  That’s reason enough in my opinion.  Give vegetable soup a try and let me know what you think.

 

 

5 medium carrots, peeled and sliced

3 medium celery stalks, sliced

3 large onion, chopped

1 large garlic clove, minced

2 cans (28 ounces each) tomatoes in juice

1 head savoy cabbage (about 1 ½ pounds) thinly sliced

2 parsnips, peeled and sliced

10 ounces fresh baby spinach leaves

1 bunch chopped fresh parsley

2 chicken bouillon cubes

12 cups water

S & P to taste

Coat a large stockpot with 2 tablespoons oil.  Over medium-high heat, add carrots, celery, onions and garlic and cook for 5 minutes.

Stir in tomatoes and their liquid, breaking up the tomatoes.  Add cabbage, remaining ingredients and 12 cups water.  Heat to boiling over high heat, stirring occasionally.

Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes or until vegetables become tender.  Add more S&P if needed.

*..From the Recipe Box: 

Good Housekeeping Magazine printed this in February 2001 as a diet aid.  Pshaw!  It’s just good.

I freeze it in 4-cup containers for handy dinners; it makes lots.

And remember:  I may not be perfect, but parts of me are pretty awesome.  Big kiss, Lynn

Canlis’ Caesar Salad

 

If you live in Seattle, you have heard of Canlis.  In full disclosure, I have never been to Canlis.  Maybe when I grow up.  But the folks went many times and no matter what entrée mom had, she always came home talking about the Caesar Salad, and the decor and the view and who you might see and the incredible service.  You get the drift.  And then, for joy, for joy, the Seattle Times printed the salad recipe in the paper.  Mom could now make Caesar Salad whenever she wanted.  She was in heaven.

This was also the era of the dinner party and the folks had several each year.  I remember them well; I had to polish the sterling and iron the napkins.  Mom believed in courses and a proper salad course was the Canlis Caesar.  I doubt if a month went by without her serving this salad either formally or informally.

True, this is a great Caesar, but it can’t merely be due to its origins, at the one time most expensive restaurant in town.  There must be more.  I think it’s the dressing.  This is the only recipe I know of that calls for a coddled egg.  If you are worried about the effect of raw egg, I wouldn’t make this salad.  I have no substitute.  A coddled egg is a 1 minute immersion into boiling water and that’s it.  When you crack it open, it looks only mildly milky, just enough to emulsify nicely with the oil.  I’m offering no guarantees only a really good Caesar that Marjorie loved.

 

Salad

2 heads Romaine lettuce, torn (I now use Baby Romaine, they are so tender)

Tomatoes, I prefer cherry or sungold

Onion slices, Walla Walla Sweet if available

1 cup croutons (I usually make my own, squares of bread fried in olive oil, with S & P)

1 pound bacon, sliced and fried hard

1/3 cup grated Parmesan

Dressing

¾ cup oil, neutral flavor like Canola

2 cloves minced garlic

Juice of 1 lemon

1 coddled egg (pour boiling water over egg and let sit 1 minute before cracking open)

Mix dressing and pour over salad ingredients.  Serve immediately or keep everything separate until you are ready to eat.

 

* from the Recipe Box:

This was mom’s go to fancy green salad.  This became quite the family favorite, especially to Paul.

and remember what Prince sang:  Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to get through this thing called Life!   Big kiss, Lynn