Archive | April, 2013

VeganFEAST: Black Bean and Bulgur Burgers with Brussels Slaw and Hearts of Palm/Avocado Chop Chop Salad

26 Apr

Vegan!? I know, I can’t believe it either. But when I read fellow blogger Small World Supper Club‘s post from April 22, I knew I had to make this immediately. I also came across this salad from Big Girls Small Kitchen around the same time, and didn’t even realize it was also vegan (chicken-omitting, of course)

Bulgur Bean Burgers + Brussels Slaw – Small World Supper Club }

Chicken, Hearts of Palm and Avocado Chop Chop Salad – Big Girls Small Kitchen }

BurgerFinal2

I am a big fan of black bean burgers, but have never made one successfully at home. It’s a delicate apparatus, my friends. There is a certain art to putting together a black bean burger because it is WAY too easy to make it into a big pile of (delicious and protein-packed) mush. You think it’s awkward trying to cook a big pile of mush in a pan? Try to take a bite without it spilling out over the sides in a stream of black bean failure. But I digress…

What’s nice about this whole meal is the only “cooking” that takes place is the bulgur that’s in the patty, and the pan-frying of the actual patties. The rest is fancy knife work, risky emulsifying, and good old fashioned elbow grease. But what is Bulgur anyways? It’s a ground-wheat (recognized as whole wheat by the USDA) that is often found in Mediterranean foods and my pantry (I have a surplus of bulgur because a while ago I made a mushroom-bulgur dish that I loved, and then decided to buy another pound when I wanted to make it again because I forgot I already some. Bulgur Surplus).

So once our bulgur (terrible, terrible name, right guys?) is cooked and ready, we want to make the burger patties. In a food processor, combine the majority of a can of (rinsed) black beans, shredded carrot, cumin, fennel, coriander, pinch of cayenne, salt, cilantro, and juice of 1/2 a lime. Remember that chili paste I was blathering on about last week? Well let’s toss about a tablespoon in there too.

FoodProcessorGive it a few good pulses just to mix, and add in 1/2 the bulgur. Pulse again (DON’T OVER PULSE THIS IS WHERE THE MUSH COMES FROM). Now add the rest of the black beans for a few final pulses. Scrape into a bowl and mix in the rest of the bulgur.

BurgerPasteNot great…but not bad either (texture wise). Just to be safe, let’s form these into patties and pop them in the freezer for a tic to form up before the pan-frying.

PattiesMeanwhile, let’s start our brussels  slaw. Thinly slice some cute little brussels and grate some carrots (I always have baby carrots on hand, so naturally my hands were a little cut up after this because have you ever grated baby carrots? It always ends in grated fingers)

SlawAnd the only thing that goes into this is now the vinaigrette…which uses apple cider vinegar…that I don’t have. Crap. After some frantic internetting  (because I hate driving to get something when I don’t need to, and not in a “I’m afraid of driving” kind of way, but in a “what a waste” kind of way), I pieced some different things together to come up with the following: white vinegar is too strong of a flavor, and adds nothing, and sherry cooking wine is super sweet. Blend them half and half, and throw in a pinch of sugar, and you’ve got yourself a suitable substitute. Now, with your franken-vinegar, mix some prepared mustard, salt, cumin and cayenne. Slowly drizzle in some olive oil while whisking birskly to create a nice emulsification (which is a mixture of liquids that normally wouldn’t blend but since you’re whisking your ass off they come together in perfect harmony).

VinaigretteI think our burgers are ready now. Pull them out, and coat both sides in  bread crumbs (I opted for panko)

BurgerDipNow pan fry those mothers

BurgerFlipSince I am just the queen of multi-tasking, I decided to start and finish my Chop Chop salad while these bad boys were getting a nice crust to them. I’d also like to take this opportunity to talk about Hearts of Palm.

HeartsofPalmIf these weren’t so expensive I would probably have a can-a-day addiction, and it’s exactly what it sounds like: it’s a vegetable that is harvested from inside the core of a Palm Tree…one might even say the “heart” of the Palm…. They have just a hint of sourness, and look really gross. These bad boys are usually $4 a pop (a can that has about 6-7 pieces, which has approx. 20 calories a “stick”) and are just the best.

Anyhoo, cut these up, add some corn (thawed frozen is fine), a diced avocado, some chopped cilantro, and a roasted red pepper. I opted to make my own since I learned how easy it is

  • place your fresh pepper directly on the flame of a gas burner or right under your broiler
  • let sit, then rotate, then sit, then rotate, and do this until it’s black and charred all over
  • place in a sealed plastic baggie for 30 min to “sweat”
  • peel off charred skin under running water

Now this salad has it’s own dressing, but it’s so similar to the vinaigrette used for the brussels slaw I decided to just use whatever extra there was from the slaw. I also added the juice from 1/2 a lime (because dun-dun-dun that’s what I had) and some more cilantro. I made the mistake of not really documenting this salad, but jesus christ this is one of the best things I’ve ever made. If I can find cases of Hearts of Palm on sale I’m going to go hog wild and make this daily.

Black Bean Burgers, Assemble!

Burger

There was a cilantro mayo that was omitted from the original SWSC (Small World Supper Club) post, which my first thought was “are you CRAZY!? Cilantro Mayo sounds like maybe the best thing I’ve ever heard of” but once I had everything ready, the components were really deep and flavorful, so I thought they’d be able to stand on their own, and hey, it’s vegan, bonus. Now add your salad on the side, and you’ve got yourself quite the ” I can’t believe it’s Vegan” Vegan meal.

BurgerFinalNotes from the next day: not sure how to pack the leftovers up for the fridge, I combined the slaw and the salad since it all had the same dressing, and wow, it made it even better. I had a burger patty with a big heap of slaw-salad for both breakfast and lunch and can’t wait to do the same for dinner (providing John doesn’t finish the last of it before I get home)

Adapted from { Bulgur Bean Burgers + Brussels Slaw – Small World Supper Club }

Brussels Slaw

  • 1/4 cup “home made” sherry vinegar (1/8 C sherry wine + 1/8 C white vinegar + pinch of sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • pinch of ground cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon prepared mustard
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • about a pound of Brussels sprouts, rinsed and trimmed
  • 1 carrot (or a handful of babies)
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar, salt, cumin, cayenne, and mustard. Gradually whisk in the oil to emulsify. Adjust seasoning to taste. I added a splash of lemon juice at this point.
  2. Slice the sprouts longways, creating long skinny shreds. Or, if you’re feeling lazy (like me), just throw them in the food processor and shred. If the core seems overly hard, discard it (preferably in your compost bin). Add the Brussels sprouts to the dressing.
  3. Peel the carrot and use the vegetable peeler to shave off long slices and then slice them into thin shreds. (Or process in the food processor.) Add to the sprouts and dressing and toss well. Keep covered, refrigerated, until needed.

Black Bean and Bulgur Burgers

  • 1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 large carrot, grated
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 tsp sambal/harissa/chili paste
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked fine- or medium-grind  bulgur, cooled
  • 2/3 cup panko
  • buns, toasted
  1. In a small food processor, combine 2/3 of the beans, carrot, cilantro, lime juice, olive oil, salt, and spices, and process until combined. Be careful not to over do it; you’re making burgers, not hummus!
  2. Add half of the bulgur and pulse a few times to combine. Then add the rest of the beans for a few FEW pulses. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and stir in the remaining bulgur.
  3. Shape into 6 patties a little less than 1/2 inch thick. Place on baking sheet and pop in the freezer for 10-15 min to firm up. Spread the panko on a plate and coat both sides of each patty with crumbs.
  4. Spray or coat a large sauté pan with oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add the patties and cook until well browned an heated through (I found that it took about 4 minutes on each side).
  5. Serve the burgers, topped with slaw, on the toasted buns.

Adapted from { Chicken, Hearts of Palm and Avocado Chop Chop Salad – Big Girls Small Kitchen }

Salad

  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • One 14-ounce can hearts of palm, cut into chunks (about 1 1/3 cups)
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed under running water and drained
  • 1 fresh red pepper (or jar of roasted red peppers)
  • 1 ripe avocados, cut in half, pit removed, cut in a cross hatch then scooped out
  • Cilantro for garnish
  • Juice from 1/2 lime
  1. Place pepper on direct flame of gas stove or under broiler. Rotate and let sit until charred all over. Place in plastic bag to sweat for 30 min. Remove skin and seeds, and chop (if using prepared roasted red peppers, drain oil and chop)
  2. Combine all ingredients in bowl, and drizzle whatever leftover dressing from the brussels sprouts you have over everything. Top with juice of half a lime, more cilantro, and some olive oil.

Lemon-Rosemary Scented Scones

25 Apr

 

 

There is nothing better than a good scone, emirite? I explored this topic a bit back in September and voiced my concerns regarding the baked and fluffy arts (over/under mixing). The trick to a good scone or biscuit is not over mixing the butter and flour mixture because it’s those bigger chunks of butter spread throughout the dough that creates the delicious layered fluffy goodness that you want in said pastry. Well, unfortunately I have not mastered the proper mixing consistency, however I am starting to get more confident.

With that said, not only do I like a good scone, I LOVE a good savory scone. Cheddar dill? Yes please! Keeping this in mind, I came across the following recipe and knew I had to have it inside of me:

{ Lemon-Rosemary scented Scones from Ancient Grains for Modern Meals by Maria Speck } which I know I’ve talked about before, and it really is one of my most cherished cook books (go buy it!)

Yes, it’s not necessarily a savory recipe, per se, but the incorporation of the rosemary I thought would lend the perfect amount of “not-too sweet” to this (hopefully) fluffy treat. I also had all the ingredients readily available, so I knew it was the baking gods way of saying “yup, this is how you’re spending your afternoon”

Scones

So I thought “oh man, lemon and rosemary! What a great photo op” but I neglected to notice that I only had 1/2 of a sad lemon at my disposal. So I apologize for whatever this is:

LemonRosemary

 

Anyhoo, this recipe is super easy (and uses wheat flour, huzzah), even when you’re over-mixing your flour and butter. You also get to create a delicious mixture of sour cream, lemon zest, and chopped fresh rosemary for the dough.

SourCreamSo once you’ve added your sour cream mixture and overworked your dough, roll it out (read: gingerly smash down with your palms) into a circle, and cut into 1/8ths.

SconeDoughBrush buttermilk over the top of the scones and sprinkle a HEALTHY dose of sugar over each piece.

SconeSheetBake, take out, try to let cool, enjoy.

SconesAs I had feared, I completely overworked the dough, so I didn’t get my fluffy scone texture, however they were REALLY tasty. The lemon and the rosemary weren’t overpowering, and completely earned their “scented” title from the name of the recipe.

I’d say the thing I enjoyed the most was waking up the next morning to see a pile of these bad boys on the counter and thinking “holy crap, I forgot I made those! Happy Breakfast to us all!”

 

 

Homemade Mushroom Ravioli in a Butter-Smoked Paprika-Harissa Sauce

22 Apr

Have you ever heard the saying “bodies in motion want to stay in motion”? I believe the first time I heard that statement was at a corporate wellness talk (people in the restaurant industry aren’t the healthiest bunch, who knew?) which I wanted to nod my head and look around the room with serious eyes saying “it’s true, you guys” because I enjoy working out and running, and until you do your active thing of the day, you have this nagging feeling that can only be quenched with some good old fashioned sweat. Well I have been all sorts of lazy as of late. I was sick twice in the span of 10 days, and I have the immune system of a fly (they have bad immune systems, right?) so it took me an additional week to get over, and then it hasn’t stopped raining or snowing for the past 2 weeks. So I’d say the month of April has been a waste physically for me. I don’t even have that nagging feeling anymore. I am embodying the age old “bodies on the couch want to watch the rest of this season” [tv joke]. Needless to say, I was ready to get my ass in gear this weekend, because not only has my lazy/lethargic presence kept me from running, but it’s kept me from being productive, and most importantly, doin’ my thang in the kitchen.

I woke up on Sunday and made a little stack of cookbooks, and began to make my grocery list. I came across this and knew what the culmination of my “productive” Sunday would be: { Anatolian Mushroom Ravioli tossed in a smoked paprika lemon butter sauce with mint yogurt sauce and fried chickpeasSusan Feniger’s Street Food } What a mouthful (and mouthful it was) 

I finally made my way to a grocery store I’ve heard a lot about, but have never made the pilgrimage to: Arbor Farms Market. I think of it as a mix of Whole Foods and the Food Co-Op, with a splash of Trader Joe’s. And there was coffee at the front just begging to be sampled. What a delight. The only downfall was while checking my grocery list in the parking lot I dropped my (i)phone, and  I’m one of those idiots that doesn’t use a case so I now have a distinctive spiderweb of broken glass on the bottom right corner. However, we can’t blame Arbor Farms for my butterfingers.

So the main event in this dish is obviously the mushroom ravioli, and making the filling couldn’t have been easier (or healthier..ish). Sauté 1 finely chopped onion in a few Tbs of olive oil, and add 1 lb of finely chopped mushrooms and a tsp of smoked paprika. Now set aside to cool. That’s it! And you wouldn’t believe how much flavor came from this combo.

Mushroomss

 

Now we ravioli. It’s a little cheat-y because the dough is just prepared wonton wrappers, but I’ve never made homemade pasta dough and I’m not going to start during a lazy time in my life. Also I’ve never made ravioli at home, so even though it’s prepared dough it’s still new territory for me.

Making the raviolis wasn’t hard, just TIME CONSUMING. Take a sheet of dough, brush with a beaten egg, place filling in the middle, and pinch the sides into an X.

Ravioli

 

Easy right? It was one of those things like painting a room or stripping wallpaper that seems so fun and cool, and it is for the first couple of minutes, then it just turns into “keep your head down, power through” as you wipe sweat from your brow with the back of your forearm in a “hrumph”. I even solicited help from John and Max, who had the same “awesome, I want to try” attitude, and then had the luxury of walking away after a few pinches (in their defense Max was making a Pizza, and John was making Black Bread for the evening’s Game of Thrones viewing…we’re just a regular old culinary compound).

Ravioli

I like how the really crappy one is right in the front of the picture. Since the filling is cooked and the dough is so thin, you just need to pop these in salted boiling water for about 3 minutes (they’ll even rise to the top to tell you “I’m done”). Take it from me: don’t just pile all the cooked ravioli’s on top of each other in a colander because guess what? They all stick together and the wrapper gets ripped when you try to separate them and then certain people (me) get upset because it’s not perfect and maybe I’m just still upset that I spider-webbed my phone this morning, okay?

Now on to the sauce. Melt about a stick of butter (I always use less when I can) with 2 tsp of smoked paprika, some salt, and 2 heaping Tbs of Harissa. I could not find Harissa, so I picked up a garlic chili paste from the international aisle, and I’m sure it worked just fine because wowza was it good.

Sidenote: Over the past few months I have been making dishes that call for Harissa or Sambal, which are both a type of chili paste with an Asian or Mediterranean influence. Almost none of the dishes seem to fit that specific flavor profile (see Thanksgiving’s Green Bean Salad or “Greek” Salad) but the addition of this spicy/flavorful condiment really makes the dish. I feel like I am now the owner of this amazing culinary knowledge to create wonderful and complex palates–similar to when I had the realization that the addition of honey or sugar to *gasp* savory items deepens the flavor. Sweet, Salty, Bitter, Spicy, the more you can combine the more depth you’ll experience (have you ever had a salted caramel anything? yeah, that’s what I’m talking about)

Once you have your butter amazingness, throw in a rinsed can of chickpeas and allow then to get some color and crispness.

Chickpeas

Now GENTLY toss in your ravioli (even if they’re ripped) and stir to coat. Meanwhile enlist a friend (fiancé, roommate, whatever) to stir together some greek yogurt, mint, and salt.

Place the chickpea/ravioli mixture on a plate, and top with a dollop of yogurt sauce. Squeeze fresh lemon juice over the top (if you have it that is, apparently I overlooked it during my grocery outting).

Pasta

I came across a blog that features the actual Mushroom Ravioli from Susan Feniger’s brick and mortar, Street. The picture isn’t terribly different form my plate, huzzah! Now, who wants to plan a trip to Los Angeles with me..?…

While I love everything about this dish, if I was in a pinch I wouldn’t mind making the filling and adding it to the butter sauce, and tossing everything with a non-ravioli pasta. However, it feels pretty damn cool to say I made homemade ravioli.

And to answer your question, I did get a 5.5 mile run in, so things may just start to take a turn for the more productive my friends…

In Memoriam: Even The Most Attractive/Smart Home Chefs Must Admit Defeat

18 Apr

In honor of my 50th post, I wanted to do something special. And by special, I mean let you peek behind the curtain…

So…I’m not proud to admit this, but I’ve been putting off this post for QUITE some time. While I have had some amazing highs in the kitchen, I’ve also had some crushing defeats. I began this blog to show full transparency in the kitchen and be as truthful (and self-depricating) as possible in order to show that hey, anyone can cook, don’t be intimated because we all are. However, over the months I became drunk on my own power. Each time I had a dish that didn’t turn out I always had another GREAT dish just aching to be posted, and so I just kept pushing these duds off. Well push off no more my friends. I have a nice collection of failures…er…non-winning dishes that I have accumulated over the past few months that I’d like to share with you.

Is what I’m doing heroic? Maybe. Noble? Indeed. Attractive and down-to-earth? You bet your ass it is.

 

Tarragon and Corn Bites – Simply Organic, Jesse Ziff Cool (what a name!)

CornSpread

I made this during my first month of blogging. The day after I made these I had a phone interview for an AWESOME job and they brought up this blog. We all had a good laugh about using salt instead of sugar while baking and agreed that being approachable and admitting mistakes in your writing/advertising is the best way to market and I left the interview flying high, ready to accept whatever offer that had for me. I didn’t get the job. So to get back at them I didn’t post this. Who’s got the last laugh now?

When I saw this recipe I was hoping they would turn out like one of my favorite items from Epic Bistro (they make these heavenly corn cakes, it’s worth a trip to Kalamazoo just to have some). I made these with the perfect specifications of the recipe, and they turned out ALL SORTS of mushy. For the second batch I added a bunch of flour to the mix to try to “solid” them up, and they still didn’t come together. I also realized I don’t like Tarragon.

 

Miso Glazed Salmon – Happy Good Time Blog

SalmonSpread

I had some miso paste left over, so naturally I thought of something in the Salmon arts. Boy was I in for a rude awakening. I got some nice FROZEN filets from Trader Joes, and apparently didn’t thaw them correctly, because not only was the whole thing was overly sweet from the (apparently incorrect amount of) maple syrup, but it had the strangest mushy, watery and all around non-appetizing texture. Needless to say, even the rice and zucchini sides weren’t enough to save this disaster from the sea.

 

Vegan Lentil Shepherd’s Pie with Parsnip and Potato Mash – Food52

ShepardsPie

Now this one wasn’t a total disaster, the “filling” of mushrooms, lentils, veggies and spices was just delightful. The Parsnip topping however…. Now only was it bland and over bearing, but apparently I also don’t’ like Parsnips (at least by themselves). I made this during my semi-vegan week and I ended up leaving it out of the official week since we ended up throwing away most of it. Also, the photos just aren’t that great.

 

Herbed Turkey Meatloaf with Caramelized Onions

MeatloafSpread

This one wasn’t a disaster at all. The meatloaf itself was really good (I mean it’s topped with tons of caramelized onions and has milk-soaked bread, whaaaat), but I tried to be a hero and put it in a big pan and add some potatoes and whatnot to the edges. Everything dried way the F out. And of course I had someone come over for dinner who had never eaten my food before. There is nothing worse than being “that guy” who talks about food all the time (and has a food blog) and then serving something less than mediocre. “I can make tasty things, you guys. I swear.” And we ran out of ketchup, the only lubricating condiment I had to offer. I will be attempting this again, mark my words!

 

Now I’d like to say “yep, since September {or whenever it was I started this dang old blog} these are the only items that haven’t turned out well” however we all know that simply isn’t the case. These are the lucky few that I actually documented.

And now, a moment of silence, please

Eastern European Salad with Homemade Focaccia (and Goat Cheese Spread)

15 Apr

Mmm, Eastern European food, doesn’t it just make your mouth water…or does it make you think of old women with scarfs tied around their heads huddled around a big trash can full of fire, playing violins?

I’m still traveling on my tour de new cookbook so I’ve selected two new recipes to try out:  Focaccia with Goat Cheese and Roasted Red Pepper Spread from Home Made, and Scandinavian Mixed Greens and Apples with Juniper Vinaigrette (or as I like to think of it, Eastern European Salad) from Susan Feniger’s Street Food

SaladSpread2

Full disclosure: I love focaccia. When we were younger we would  go to the Kalamazoo Farmer’s Market every Saturday morning, and then follow up the trip with a stop at MacKenzie’s Bakery. It was here I first tasted the fluffy and delightful flat bread (although I assume my love for it blossomed from the fact that it’s basically a pizza, and I was allowed to eat it for breakfast). For the first few years of this tradition I had no idea I was pronouncing it wrong. Fo-Kot-See-Ah rather than Fo-Caach-Yah. How dare no one tell 8-year-old Erica she was making a mockery of the slow-risen dough arts? So naturally when I came across the Mini Focaccia recipe in Homemade, I simply HAD to make it.

DoughAnd if you have errands to run, starting bread is the prefect activity to start before you leave the house because it’ll proof (rise) for as long or longer than you need it to, and since you’ve been busy trying to drive in this town without hitting some of THOSE DAMN JAYWALKING STUDENTS you’ll forget you even started it, and have a pleasant surprise waiting for you when you get home. And nothing calms you down from said driving more than gently pressing oiled dough onto a baking sheet and carefully distributing dimples throughout.

And what pairs with this bread? A roasted red pepper and goat cheese spread of course! This is the first time I’ve tried to roast my own peppers at home since I don’t have a grill (I know, I’ll be lamenting this all Summer long…everything EVERYTHING tastes better on a grill), and the process comes from placing a fresh pepper directly on the flame of a gas stove burner.

PepperBurnsWell, it worked with flying colors, and I felt like a badass doing it (although everyone in my house kept saying “is someone smoking? it smells like smoke” or “Erica are you serious with this, you’re going to burn this mother down”). Once the pepper is nice and roasted/burned/chared/whatever you want to call it, place in a plastic bag for 30 minutes to give it a nice sweat. Once nice and sweaty, remove the outer charred skin (since it’s bitter) and prepare for goat cheese-ification.

FoodProcessorA few changes I made: the recipe calls for mint, but I had cilantro readily available, so I made the switch to give a little “authentico” feel (#ifyaknowwhatimean), and for some reason the grocery store didn’t have jalapeños (que?) so I used pablanos. And as I’m about to add the Goat Cheese, I realize I didn’t read the recipe fully, and it calls for FOUR CUPS of Goat Cheese. Do you know how much money that would cost? I only found 2 pennies on the ground during my runs this week, I can’t afford that much creamed gold. And I don’t think any amount of homemade Focaccia can handle 4 cups worth of goat cheese spread. So I used 2oz. Needless to say, the “spread” was more of a soupy dip since the “juiciness” of the peppers comprised most of the raw materials. However, it was still delicious.

And speaking of Authentico…

ModeloBecause hey why not!

Now on to our Eastern European-inspired salad. The “exotic” ingredient in the dressing is ground Juniper Berries, and I winced thinking about how much a little vile of it would be when I only needed 2 tsp, but low and behold, I live less than 1/2 mile from Spice Merchants, a lovely shop full of (wait for it) spices! I got to park for free since it was Sunday, and when I walked in the Juniper Berries were literally in front of the main entrance at eye level (things were coming up Vitkin!).

Juniper

 

This gets added to a dynamite mixture of lemon juice, olive oil, and honey (which is the basis for any great dressing, seriously, you never need to buy a vinaigrette again, just use that base and go crazy with other additions like mustard, spices, fresh herbs, blended roasted veggies, etc). Sidenote: I just found this about Juniper Berries, so naturally I’m freaking out “If you have been using juniper berry tea for several weeks and you urine smells like violets, you have been using the herb too long. Continued overdose can cause renal irritation and blood in the urine, so only use in moderation” [horrifying Juniper Berry information source]

So what does this violet pee-inducing vinaigrette go on top of? A salad of sliced apples, shredded gouda, fresh greens, watercress, and toasted almonds. Like I said, soooooo Eastern European…

AppleAlmonds

SaladAnd what perfect timing, as the dressing goes on, the bread is hot fresh and ready from the oven!

SaladCounterThe Focaccia turned out well, but it was very dry. Something I love and hate about a great focaccia is that it leaves you with big grease stains on the sides of your pants because who has time for a napkin. This one left my pants in pristine condition, so making this again I would definitely up the olive oil in both the dough, and the pre-baking prep.

SaladSpread

As I start to go for round 2 of this salad, I can’t help but worry about the future of my urine…

SaladSpread1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image

“Greek” Salad with Garlic Butter Croutons

10 Apr

Before I start this post I need to share something that happened to me yesterday: I had the most Jewish experience of my life, ever. I decided to go shopping at a new grocery store, and you know what? It’s time-consuming and stressful. You don’t the layout, the nuances of item placement, or when the good deals are. So after re-circling the store at least 4 times because where the hell is the peanut butter aisle, I came across a few carts roped together full of discounted merchandise. Nothing new right? Usually there are old boxes of random foreign children’s candy that they thought would make it in the US (keep dreamin’ Yorkie) and some strange plastic cookware. However, today was different, it was full of discounted PASSOVER stuff. I’m talkin Matzoh Ball Soup, Brownie Mix (kosher passover brownies are a thing?), Passover Crackers, Matzoh, and more, all from the tried and true Manischewitz. As I stood there, elbow deep in savings, hands moving with quick and calculated movements, jaw slacked, and eyes burning with a savings intensity normally reserved for those featured on Extreme Couponing, it hit me: This is the most Jewish Moment of My Life.

Salad1But enough about my EXTREME frugality, let’s dive into an amazing salad, shall we?

I have recently come into 3 really great cookbooks

So of course after your initial “oh my god I’m going to make everything because it’s all amazing” reality hits and you think “ok, I have 45 minutes on Tuesday night I can devote to cooking, what I can make that doesn’t involve buying 100000 new items I don’t already have in my kitchen.” So I settled on a tasty-looking salad from Susan Feniger’s book that involves Sun Chokes. I’ve never had Sun Chokes! I was actually insulted by someone making reference to Sun Chokes a few years ago…but that’s a story for another time.

I went to two, count them, two different grocery stores to gather ingredients and guess what, none of them had sun chokes. Granted, I didn’t ask anyone at the store for help, but you know what? I had just been through a store that was foreign to me (see above) and I had just spend 1.5 hours outside in the rain couching Girls on the Run (“Keep going girls! The rain never hurt anyone!” as soon as they’re out of earshot “ehhhhh I hate the rain, I wish we were inside”), so I was tired, cold, confused, and ready to go home and drink some 3 Floyd’s Zombie Dust (I just procured a case on Sunday and I’m exercising every restraint I have not to drink it all). Sun Chokes sound like artichokes, so that’s a good substitute, right? Oh, chick peas would have been the better option? Well, time to tweak the recipe to fit MY needs (and MY artichoke purchase), and simply take “inspiration” from the book.

Once home, I started the only part of the salad that has any effort (I love recipes like that): garlic-butter croutons. Oooooh yeahhhh.

ButterGarlicWant to impress anyone that comes into your house in the next 24 hours? Melt 3 Tbs of butter and 2 cloves of chopped garlic on the stove and let simmer for a good 6 minutes and wait for your house to fill with the most indulgent smell you can imagine (well, maybe 2nd to cinnamon buns, I mean, you can’t compete with that). Once it’s melted, pour it over some bite-size torn up pieces of fresh bread, pop in oven for 12 minutes, and wait for the bread to get cripsy on the outside and soft and amazing on the inside

CroutonsPlease, this picture doesn’t IN ANY WAY do these croutons justice. I wish you could small through your screen because wowza. Anyways, on to the other part of the salad: chop stuff up and put in bowl (or a pot because it has a lid and you’re thinking ahead for potential leftovers):

SaladLettuce, Parsley, Cucumbers, Kalamata Olives, Tomatoes, Red Onion, Artichoke (not Sun Chokes), and any other items you think would be fitting for a salad with a “greek” title. What next? The dressing!

Again, I took most of my inspiration from Susan Feniger’s recipe, which had a surprising ingredient: Harissa. Harissa is a Tunisian chili paste with garlic and spices (yeah, it sounds amazing), which I would never have thought to add to a salad dressing like this. I had about 1 tsp of Sambal (a chili-based sauce popular in lots of Asian cuisine) left in my fridge from who knows what, so I substituted that. Wow, I can’t even tell you what an amazing addition it was. It was not enough to add too much heat, however it was enough to add some amazing flavor complexity.

DressingAlso in the dressing: cumin, sumac, turmeric, lemon juice, and olive oil.

Now top dressed salad with some feta, a softish boiled egg (drop egg in boiling water for 7 minutes), and the super duper butter and garlic croutons.

SaladUpNow, it seems like an insanely simple salad, and I feel like I’ve made at least 1000 different versions of this, but wow, with the egg, the croutons, and that extra little zip of the sambal in the dressing, this was hands down the best medeterranean-influanced salad I’ve ever had, homemade or at a restaurant. Seriously. Who even needs Sun Chokes? (gahhhh I’m still dying to try them!! Does anyone have a lead or Sun Choke guy? I’ll go back alley, no prob)

Dressing

  • 1 tsp toasted and ground Cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp Sumac
  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric
  • 1 tsp Sambal/Chili Paste/Sriracha/Harissa
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2-3 Tbs Olive oil

Mix

“Greek” Salad

  • 1/2 head of Lettuce
  • 1/2 C Parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 Cucumber, cut into quarters length-wise and then sliced
  • 1 large Tomato, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 C Kalamata Olives
  • 1/3 C thinly sliced Red Onion
  • 1 C Artichoke heart quarters

Cut everything up. Mix

Garlic Butter Croutons

  • 3 Tbs Butter
  • 2 clove2 Garlic minced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 sliced-worth of Bread, torn into  small bite size pieces (you know, crouton-sized)

Preheat oven to 350. Put butter, garlic, and salt together in a saucepan over low heat and let melt together and get a little foamy, about 6 minutes. Put bread pieces in a bowl and cover with butter mixture. Stir to combine and spread out on baking sheet. Bake for 8-12 minutes (or until outside is nice a crispy, but the inside is still nice and soft). Let cool.

Salad

 

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