Salads

Grilled Beets with Micro Greens and Feta

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Gonna slice me up some beets

Beets.  Now who doesn’t like beets?  Actually, I didn’t for the longest time (skip this if you already know this story 🙂 ).  The taste was odd to me — kinda like an earthier carrot.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.  But it just seemed weird.  Maybe it’s because I wasn’t exposed to them as a child.  Actually I don’t think Brooklyn had any beets at the time.  Sure, that’s probably not accurate and my memory is somewhat foggy.  After all, I was only like five years old at the time and that was like 100 years ago.

I admit, I did not dress the greens on this one

But I digress… This I served as a side, but it is easy to turn this into a full vegetarian course.  And again, this is hard for me to quantify because I grilled some beets and served it with a handful of greens and topped it with some feta so ingredients are just a guestimation.  This is easy-peasy lemon-squeezy; here’s kinda what you need:

Just another way of arranging the beets.  I did dress these greens.
  • 1 beet, sliced about 1/4″ thick
  • vegetable oil, for brushing the beets
  • 1 c. micro greens or baby greens (I used daikon and chard)
  • 1/4 c. feta, crumbled
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • salad dressing, to taste

1.  Prepare your grill, as needed (again, I use hardwood charcoal).  Brush the beets with the vegetable oil on both sides.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

2.  Grill the beets until tender over direct heat, about 2-3 minutes a side.  Remove from the heat to cool slightly.  Meanwhile, in a small bowl, lightly dress the greens

3.  Arrange the beets on the plate.  Top with the dressed greens.  Sprinkle with the feta crumbles.  Add salt and pepper if you like.

Yay for beets!

Notes — for the dressing, I just drizzled some olive oil and lemon juice on top of the greens to dress them

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Quick cocktail party appetizers #2 — Cheese and Endive

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This is round #2 of my cocktail party appetizers.  Now I don’t necessarily recommend making all of these at once, especially if it’s just you hosting because there is a lot of assembly involved with everything I made (check out my last post for the full listing).  Even if all the prep work is done, getting things to look right takes time.  But taking these in small steps and you should be alright.  Or you could be better at planning than me even though timing really was a non-issue since everyone was at least an hour late!

Anyhoo, the  quick recipes in this post revolve around goat cheese.  One is a double cheese Napoleon and the other is Endive with Herbed Goat Cheese.  What makes this easy is that the goat cheese filling is the same for both!  So I don’t know if this then actually qualifies for 2 recipes, but I’m going with it.

Endive with goat cheese.

This serving tray seemed like it was designed especially with this dish in mind.

The big step here is making the herbed goat cheese.  Which, again, is also a step for the napoleons, so essentially one step = 2 appetizers.  And it’s not even a big step — you just mix everything in a bowl.  This one I adapted from Martha (again!  but that’s a good thing!).  Here’s what you need:

  • 1 11-oz. pkg. goat cheese
  • 1/2 c. cream
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 1 T. chopped herbs (I used oregano and tarragon)
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 4 heads endive, washed and separated into leaves

1.  In a medium bowl, mix together the cheese, cream, and oil until smooth.  You can use a food processor if you like or even a hand mixer, but I didn’t want to have to wash extra things afterwards.

2.  Gently mix in the herbs, salt, & pepper.  Place a teaspoon on the individual endive spears and serve.

Double Cheese Napoleons.

These definitely look pretty. Tasted pretty good, too!

The two cheeses here are parmesan and goat cheese.  You make tuiles of parmesan and have some herbed goat cheese in between the layers.  I am not really sure how I came up with this one, but i really wanted something with some height.  These look a little rough, but again, I felt pressed for time since I had several things to assemble.  No real specifics here; I just grated some parmesan and kept on making crisps until I ran out.  You can use any extra ones as croutons on salads or in soups.  Or just eat them as is.  Here’s what you need:

  • herbed goat cheese (see above)
  • grated parmesan

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2.  Drop 1 t. grated parmesan onto Silpat lined baking sheets.  Slightly flatten the cheese and bake for about 5 minutes or until nice and golden.

3.  Allow to cool for about a minute and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

4.  Assemble napoleons starting with a parmesan crisp.  Place a small amount of the goat cheese, about 1/2 teaspoon.  Gently press another crisp on top and repeat until you have three layers of each.  You can put a garnish of herbs on top, but I just served them as they are.  If you want to be extra fancy, you can use a pastry bag with a star tip to place the goat cheese.

Tuna Ceviche with Avocado and Watermelon

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It’s still summer (although the weather up here the past couple of days would make you think otherwise) and one of the things that I love on a hot summer’s day / night/ or whatever is Ceviche.  This is a different take than my usual recipe in that it’s a more on the sweet side of things.  I had some nice watermelon in the fridge so I thought it might be nice to incorporate everything together.  And I use some orange juice in the marinade in addition to the lime.  Plus there’s a new take on a traditional ceviche because I hate cilantro.  So I thought that I could maybe get around this by using some whole coriander seed.  Two completely different tastes, but at least they come from the same plant (in case you didn’t know that).  So I can kinda say that there’s cilantro in it, it just hasn’t grown yet.

You can use other kinds of seafood in this one.  Scallops work nice, squid is good too, haven’t used octopus though.  Since it is National Catfish Month, you could totally use that!  Here’s what you need:

  • 1 lb. Ahi Tuna, cut into 1/2 in. pieces
  • 1/2 t. whole coriander
  • 1/4 t. whole fennel
  • 6-8 limes, juiced & zested 4 of them
  • 1 1/2 c. orange juice
  • pepper
  • 2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 roma tomatoes, diced
  • 2 avocados, diced
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 -2 c. diced watermelon
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1 T. sambal oelek (chili paste), or add however much you like
  • 1 T. toasted coconut
  • salt & pepper, to taste

1.  In a container, combine the tuna, coriander, fennel, zest, lime juice, orange juice, and pepper.  Marinate the mixture for about 2-3 hours, turning every half hour with a wooden spoon.

2.  Strain out the fish and transfer to a large serving dish.  Add the tomato, avocado, onion, garlic and olive oil.  Toss to combine and let sit for another 30 minutes.

3.  Spoon out a serving into a dish or martini glass.  Sprinkle with some of the toasted coconut and you’re ready to serve!

Notes — I’d probably replace all the tomato with watermelon next time, but I had to use up those romas quick. . . If you wanted to add some finely diced jalapeno instead of the sambal that would be fine.  You could just omit it completely. . . One thing to try is maybe toasting the coriander and fennel before adding to the marinade. . .  You can chop everything finer if you want to maybe serve this with some tortilla chips.  This recipe is more of a salad.

Caprese Salad with an Herb Vinaigrette

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Here’s something that I had tried to put together.  Originally I had the idea to make a Caprese Pie (which I still want to make), but alas I was fresh out of Pate Brisee.  So instead of trying to reinterpret a Caprese salad, I decided to try to switch it up a little bit.  This is a great summertime dish because prep can be so simple.  And who wants to be bogged down in a hot kitchen during the summer?  Not this guy!  The hardest thing you need to do could be just washing the veg!  Plus tomatoes are so good right now!  And when you can get a bushel of basil from the local farmer’s market for $1, it’s a match made in heaven.

Now after a little bit of research, what everyone knows as a Caprese salad really isn’t the one from Capri.  According to Epicurious, the original salad was served with arugula and dried oregano, both of which grew wild on the island.  Plus, it is served with olive oil only.  The vinegar would be detrimental to the flavor of the dish and overpower some of the more delicate notes.  My take does have an herb vinaigrette and the moscatel vinegar that I used can be a little overwhelming, but I make a nice emulsion with some basil and oregano which does help tame it a bit.  Here’s what you need:

  • 2 fresh tomatoes, cut in half and sliced 1/4 in. thick
  • 2 lbs. fresh mozzarella, sliced 1/4 in. thick half rounds
  • 1/4 c. moscatel vinegar
  • 3/4 c. olive oil
  • 1 c. fresh herbs (I used basil and oregano), coarsely chopped.
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • salt & pepper, to taste

1.  In a small food processor, chop the basil, garlic, salt, and pepper.  Drizzle the olive oil and vinegar over the top and blend well.

2.  While the dressing marries, arrange the tomatoes and mozzarella on the plate.  I made a circular pattern alternating the cheese and tomatoes.  In the center I put a chiffonade of some basil.

3.  Pour some of the dressing on top and you are ready to serve!  Simple!

Notes — If you like you could try using a more neutral vinegar, but I like the tartness of the moscatel. . . I think that you could add a lot of interest to this salad by using some heirloom tomatoes and different kinds of herbs like some purple basil. . . I also did a lazier version where I just coarsely chopped everything and tossed it with the vinaigrette — very rustic!

Shredded Greens with Marinated Glass Noodles and a Garlic-Soy Vinaigrette

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We are waist deep into summer, and for me that means that I need to avoid using my stove / oven at all costs.  Especially this week; it was over 100 degrees F yesterday.  So that means no real baking for the next couple of days / weeks / months.  Oh, how I miss the 2 feet of snow I had in the backyard nigh just a few months ago.  So since cooking and baking slow down, all this heat also means a lot of outdoor grilling and a lot of salads.  And with the farmer’s markets in full swing, why not take advantage of nature’s bounty?

I may have said this before, but I am not a fan of iceberg lettuce.  It’s only real purpose, in my opinion, is to keep my hamburger bun from getting soggy with burger-y juicy goodness.  So this salad will not have any of that stuff.  I use Red and Butter Lettuces here with some sliced onion and radish.  The little twist is that I added some marinated glass noodle.  It adds a nice bit of texture and interest, especially after chilling in the fridge of a couple of minutes or so.  I do also rather like the dressing.  It’s simple and I think you have a nice balance of flavors — you get some sweetness from the honey, some saltiness from the soy sauce, there’s the acid from the vinegar, and the raw garlic adds some heat and bitterness.  And all that flavor is wrapped up in a lovely olive oil.  Here’s what you need:

For the noodle:

  • 1 – 2 “bundles” of glass / cellophane noodles (Chinese vermicelli)
  • 2 c. water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 T. seasoned rice vinegar
  • 1/4 c. soy sauce
  • 1 – 2 t. sesame oil

1.  In a medium saucepan, bring the water to a boil with the bay leaf.  Once boiling, add the vinegar and soy sauce.

2.  Remove from the heat and add the glass noodle.  Let steep for 5 – 7 minutes.

3.  Strain and toss with some sesame oil.  Set aside.

For the vinaigrette:

  • 1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 T. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 T. seasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 T. soy
  • 1-2 T. honey
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped

1.  Whisk together olive oil, vinegars, and soy sauce until well blended.

2.  Add honey and combine.  The honey will help hold the emulsion and add some sweetness.

3.  Add the black pepper and chopped garlic.  Stir to coat and set aside.

Assemble the salad:

  • 1 head of butter lettuce
  • 1 head of red lettuce
  • 3 radishes, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 large white onion, thinly sliced

1.  Separate the leaves of lettuce.  Place them in a water bath to wash them.  Shred the leaves into bite-sized pieces and spin them dry.

2.  Place a bed of the lettuces on a plate.  In the center of the lettuce, place 1/2 the noodle, twisted with a fork to make a “nest”.

3. Drizzle the salad with the dressing.  Whisk the vinaigrette to re-emulsify if it separated whilst assembling the salad.  Repeat the steps to make a second salad or save everything to make a salad tomorrow!

Notes — I did top off the noodles with some left over lo mein.  I figured it would add a little bit of extra flavor, plus help clean out the fridge. . .  Also, I tend to like my dressings on the tart side, so I probably use more vinegar than most.  Usually the ratio of oil to vinegar is around 3:1 depending on the strength of the vinegar.  Try some different things out and see what you prefer.  And use high quality stuff.  You can’t mask sub-par ingredients here because you will definitely taste it. . . You will have plenty of extra greens here.  After shredding them, just place them in a zip top bag with a slightly damp paper towel and they will stay fresh for a while, maybe a week or so.  I can’t really recommend someone go to the market and just peel off a few leaves of lettuce here and there!

Mixed Greens Salad with Fried Goat Cheese and Chive Flowers

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So in honor of National Fresh Fruit and Veggies Month and National Salad Month (which was last month), I thought I’d give a try to make a nice salad.  Now I’ve never been a fan of salad.  Maybe it’s because historically for me, it usually involves some bits of iceberg lettuce and some kind of dressing.  Sometimes a special treat would be a couple of croutons.  Not fun, at least in my opinion.  So whenever I make a salad, I try to make it interesting with a wide range of flavors, different textures, different colors, fun ingredients, seasonal inspiration. . . all that jazz.

Chive flowers were the inspiration for this dish.  I have some chives growing in a couple of pots which I usually take into the house over the winter.  This time, for whatever reason, I left them out to face the winter head-on.  Fast forward to Spring 2011 and there are an abundance of chive flowers.  Not sure if it has anything to do with being exposed to the elements, but that’s beside the point.  Point is, I had at least twice the amount of chive flowers than I’ve had before.  If you’ve never eaten them, they are somewhat milder than chives, but they have a subtle spiciness and bite.

For this salad, the greens that I chose are a mixture of butter lettuce (yum) and some frisee (also yum).  The nice soft sweetness of the butter lettuce is a nice contrast to the bitterness and hardiness of the frisee.   I use about 2 parts frisee to 1 part butter lettuce (which is nice cuz frisee costs a lot less).  Add in the nice, tart, creaminess of the goat cheese and I think it’s a winner.  Here’s what you need to make 2 nice-sized salads:

For the salad:

  • about 3 c. mixed greens (I usually get extra greens, cuz you could have enough for a couple of salads the rest of the week.  For this batch I got 2 heads of frisee and 1 of the butter lettuce.)
  • 8 – 10 chive blossoms, leaving some whole and some divided into florets
  • 4 rounds of goat cheese, 1/2″ thick
  • 5 T. toasted breadcrumbs
  • 2 t. fennel seeds
  • vinaigrette, to taste (I made a raspberry vinaigrette with just a touch of balsamic)
  • salt & pepper, to taste

1.  Place the goat cheese in the freezer for about 15 minutes.  This makes it easier to slice and handle later.  It also helps it not melt too much when it is fried up.

2.  Wash and dry greens.  Cut or tear into bite-sized pieces.  Place on a serving plate or salad bowl.  Wash and dry chive blossoms.  Keep four whole, but separate the other four into the individual florets.  Sprinkle florets over the greens.  Set aside the whole flowers.

3.  Slice rounds from the goat cheese log.  In a small dish, mix together the bread crumbs, fennel seeds, salt, and pepper.  Coat the rounds in the crumb mixture.  Quickly fry the rounds until golden.

4.  Place the warm rounds on top of the greens.  Drizzle with prepared vinaigrette.  Garnish with the whole chive flowers and serve.

For the raspberry vinaigrette:

To make your standard vinaigrette, the ratio of oil to vinegar is somewhere between 3:1 and 2:1.  It all depends on the strength of the vinegar and how tart you like it.  Plus vinegars come in a wide range of flavors, so the ratio needs to adjust to accommodate.   Do what you feel comfortable with!  For this recipe, I used a 2:1 ratio.  There’s no additional emulsifiers here, but if you want something a little bit creamier, you can add maybe 1 T. of honey, or maybe 1 T. of raspberry preserves.  Personally, I don’t really add any emulsifiers unless I need them for the flavor they provide.  Lately I don’t even mix them together; I just drizzle some vinegar and olive oil on the greens and toss it together in my bowl.  Here’s what you need:

  • 1/2 c. olive oil
  • 1/4 c. raspberry vinegar (with a splash of balsamic)
  • 1 t. chopped chives
  • salt &  pepper, to taste

Combine all the ingredients in a container and whisk until combined.  Or you could put all the ingredients in a mason jar and shake to combine.