Archive for the 'Salads' Category

Sesame Kale Chips

Here is my first post from China, and I am sorry that it is a recipe you can come across very easily nowadays and that it is not even remotly related to Chinese food. I made it just before leaving Massachusetts and probably won’t make it until we go back for our next holiday. Kale, or at least the types of kale we’re used to, isn’t available here or perhaps I haven’t found it yet. I did however find some local organic farms, which I will visit next week. Very exciting, especially in the dead of winter.

Our luggage full of food got through customs without so much as a glance – a huge relief, as it was loaded with plenty of treasures from Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. Now we just need to be as lucky with our Australian biodynamic olive oil, spices and bottles of wine hidden deep inside our moving boxes in our container, still out at sea.

In the few days we have been here, we had amazing Peking Duck at the very famous “Dadong” restaurant and very mediocre noodles. The kids had a great time spotting “unusual” ingredients on the menus, such as sea cucumber intestines, bullfrog, turtle, donkey, innards of every kind, soya pigeon, etc. I am planning to take my camera along to future restaurant and market visits and let you know what I found. I started checking out grocery stores and supermarkets that sell everything from electronics, to underwear to milk all the way from Germany. I found a few very sad looking organic vegetables, which were harvested long before Chinese New Year, and organic chicken and pork. The chicken still has its head and feet attached, which will be interesting when it comes to preparing dinner tonight. I had the choice between spring chicken, hen and rooster. I went for the hen, but it felt almost a bit too real. No doubt we will be well fed during this adventure here, hopefully without too much dog or donkey meat thrown into the mix.

Go make some kale chips now! It’s so easy and quick and a delicious snack which is loved by all. I am jealous already…

Ingredients

1 bunch of kale (any other than cavolo nero, also known as tuscan or lacinato kale, will be good)

1/4 cup sesame seeds

3 tablespoons olive oil

sprinkle of salt

Method

Preheat oven to 200F (100C) convection heat, or 225 regular heat.

Wash and dry kale. Take a leaf into one hand and use the other hand to tear off the leafy part, starting at the thick end of the stem and moving all the way to the top of the leaf. Tear the stemless leaves into roughly 2×2 inch size pieces and put in a large bowl. Repeat with other leaves.

Drizzle kale with olive oil, sprinkle with sesame seeds and salt. Mix well.

Place kale in single layer on parchment lined baking tray and bake for 25 minutes, turning kale over half way through. If some of the kale hasn’t turned crispy after 25 minutes, bake for a few more minutes.

Eat straight away, or store in air tight container for a 2-3 days.

 

Watercress with Orange, Grapefruit, Persimmon, Pomegranate, Hazelnuts and fresh Goats Cheese

Last December, the day after a gigantic blizzard blanketed most of the north eastern United States with tons of snow and caused major traffic and air travel delays, I was scheduled to attend a cooking class at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City. With a maximum speed of 30 mph, I drove myself into the city, braving slippery roads, gusty winds and minimal visibility. The drive that normally takes two and a half hours took almost twice as long. My family thought I was crazy, but I had my mind set to it and the thought of a few days in the city all by myself was just too tempting. I had bought myself a last minute Broadway ticket to make the most of my evening, parked the car right outside the theater, knowing policemen had other things on their mind, and enjoyed the show. Arriving at my hotel, with a lobby full of tourists desperate for a place to stay, I soon found out that the cooking class for the next morning was canceled.

What is a girl to do in New York City with all this free time? Well the holiday sales were in full swing and I dove right in. I needed a new pair of skinny jeans, not an easy feat right after a week of gluttony. I must have tried on every single pair and finally out of shear desperation, bought one that was promptly returned when upon inspection a few days later, both my husband and oldest son made comments that included hips and shapely behind.

Like every year, the highlight was the Crate & Barel post holiday sale, were I filled my bags with all things Christmas. For the rest of the day, I wandered around, marveling at my favorite city completely covered in snow and looking forward to my dinner at COOKSHOP

I had the most lovely evening at this beautiful “farm-to table” restaurant in Chelsea. Not surprisingly it wasn’t busy and I had a quiet table with just enough candle light to decipher the articles in my magazine. I ordered a salad of watercress, oranges, tangerines, grapefruit, persimmon, pomegranate and buffalo ricotta for starters and duck crepes for mains. Both were delicious, but the salad was truly spectacular and I have dreamed of making it ever since. A few days ago, with all the right ingredients finally in season here in Australia, I recreated it to the best of my memory and it was just like I remembered it. Beautiful, unusual and delicious!

I hope you’ll enjoy it just as much as I did.

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Kale Salad with Baked Beets, Walnuts, Sprouts and Creamy Goat’s Cheese

I love kale in all forms and shapes and to my credit I did so even before it became fashionable. It is one of my favorite vegetables to grow during our mild Australian winters, because it is so prolific and doesn’t require a lot of attention. We had so much of it last year, I could have sold it at the market. To me, Cavolo Nero is the king of kale, but I also like the curly, rougher kind. As it’s still summer here, although not according to the calendar, I don’t have any left in my garden, but thankfully others do. So far I have mainly cooked with it, except for the baby leaves which I add to mixed green salads. On a recent stay in Los Angeles however, I discovered marinated kale in a salad at the fabulous small chain restaurant “The Veggie Grill“. I tried it out at home and discovered that if I dress the tough and chewy curly kale with balsamic dressing and let it sit for an hour or longer, it turns into a lovely and not at all tough or chewy salad. I have made it almost every day for nearly 2 weeks now and everybody who was lucky enough to taste some agreed with me. It’s divine and a welcome alternative to the good old green salad. I like to dress it up with roasted beets, toasted nuts and a little creamy fresh goat’s cheese. I also had some mung bean and broccoli sprouts which were a great addition. Give rocket and spinach a little break and try this. It makes the loveliest, most satisfying and super healthy lunch or is delicious as a side dish at the dinner table. Best of all, it doesn’t wilt like most green salads do which makes it perfect for the buffet table.

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Super Summer Salad

 

I made this salad for a dinner party last weekend assuming we’d have a typical BBQ dinner. We didn’t, we actually ate wonderful Paella, not exactly a good match to my salad. Nobody seamed to mind however and everybody dug in, young and old. We had a wonderful time sitting outside, eating this wonderful food, drinking sparkling Shiraz and enjoying good company. It really made me appreciate everything summer has to offer and even I didn’t want it to end – at least not on that night.

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Herby, Garlicky Potato Salad

Royal Blue Potatoes are in season at the moment and I love them in potato salads. They are firm and waxy and pretty with their blue skin. Of course, Kipfler potatoes and the French “La Rat” would be as delicious or even more so, but one really has to be lucky to find organic ones here in Australia. So I stick with the more readily available blue potatoes in the meantime. I like to steam them for this salad. It cooks them a little slower and I am in less danger of turning them into mush. Never a good thing, when married to an Englishman, who has the potato cooking thing pretty much in his genes.

I love to use a variety of herbs in this salad, but if I don’t have it, I just use the standards, parsley, red onion and garlic. Other herbs that work really well are tarragon, chives, mint and basil. Tarragon has a strong flavor, so better not use more than a tablespoon or two. Spring onions, thinly sliced are a great alternative to red onions, and garlic is a must. I use 3-5 small cloves, which might be too much for some of you, just start small and work yourself up to it. Good quality white wine or champagne vinegar, extra virgin olive oil and sea salt enhance the quality of this salad, so don’t skimp.

It is important to make the vinaigrette in advance. Picking, washing and chopping herbs sometimes takes longer than you think and you want it all to be ready when the potatoes are done. The warm potatoes go straight into the bowl with the vinaigrette. This way the potatoes soak in all the delicious flavors. Let the salad sit for up to an hour on room temperature, or put it in the fridge and return it to room temperature if you need it later in the day.

 

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Three Color Coleslaw with Apple and Sunflower Seeds

We’re now in the midst of summer here in Australia, a season very much reflected in what’s on the dinner table. The higher the temperature, the colder the food. Except for a bit of BBQ, which has it’s busiest time right around now. I make a lot of salads, with a few favorites being quinoa salads, Greek salad, pasta salad, tabbouleh, potato salad, etc. The one I go back to, if I don’t have a lot of time, is a refreshing coleslaw paired with barbecued salmon or nitrate free sausages. It takes no more than 30 minutes to make, which rarely happens in my kitchen, and yet I don’t feel like I made a nutritional compromise. My favorites cabbage is the red one. I used to eat bowls full of red cabbage slaw in my Grandma’s restaurant when I was a kid. However for coleslaw, I prefer an equal amount of red cabbage, Savoy cabbage and grated carrot. I use lemon juice for a bit of tanginess and olive oil instead of mayonnaise; an apple or two and some pre-soaked sunflower seeds. Soaking sunflower seeds for 2 hours or more, will ‘disarm’ their enzyme inhibitors, facilitating digestion and nutrient absorption. I also think they taste better.

Once I have dressed the coleslaw, I let it sit for 10 minutes or more to soften the cabbage slightly.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 red cabbage, cored and finely shredded
  • 1/4 Savoy cabbage, cored and finely shredded
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and grated
  • 1 large apple, cored and chopped
  • 1/3 cup sunflower seeds, soaked in filtered water for 2 hours
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon light agave syrup
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • freshly ground pepper

Method

Mix vegetables, apple, sunflower and caraway seeds in salad bowl.

Whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, agave syrup, salt and pepper. Taste dressing and adjust seasoning if so desired. Pour dressing over salad, mix well and let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Tex-Mex-inspired Salad

I have to admit, my vacation in Mexico was a long time ago. 15 years in fact. I had just started a research semester at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, and feeling rather lost and confused in the very different world of Texas, my best friend from Germany came to see me and whisked me off to Mexico. I don’t remember the food at all, as I was either ill or heart-broken on that trip. It turns out my boyfriend back home in Germany broke up with me on the phone while were staying on the beach in Playa del Carmen. After that it was mostly a liquid diet of margaritas and such. Shame that, as we missed out on all that lovely food. Well thankfully, my next boyfriend and now husband, who I met not much later back in Houston, is a big fan of Mexican and Tex-Mex food and he took me to some great restaurants in Austin and Houston, to make up for what I missed on holiday. Funnily enough, he also cooked for me occasionally back then. The first dinner he made was a very greasy casserole, filled with beef, beans, cheese, chilies, tortillas, tomatoes and who knows what. I had just given up vegetarianism and was smitten! The second dinner at his place was fajitas and I remember him being quite grumpy because I got talked into a beer with a friend first and arrived a bit late for dinner. I think that was the last time he cooked a whole dinner for me from start to finish. Hmmm.

Anyway, now you know all about my link to Mexican or probably more correctly, Tex-Mex food. What I call Mexican food these days in my own kitchen is probably not exactly what you can get in Mexico, but it’s close enough to Tex-Mex food, with a little less cheese in it may be. We love tacos with any filling, fajitas, burritos, salsas in all consistencies and colors and definitely quesadillas. I used to bring a stack of packages with Whole Foods whole wheat tortillas back from the States and stuck them straight into my freezer. They lasted for about 6 months, and everybody was envious of my tightly managed supply. Now of course I learned how to make my own corn tortillas but still, I am sure I’ll get some more the next time we go back. It’s such a great thing to have ready in the freezer for a quick dinner. That and Amy’s pizza… sigh.

Last night I made this salad, which I have made for years now. It’s a variation of a salad/salsa I came across so frequently back in Houston, and it’s so healthy and lovely in the summer time. Whenever I can get the first organic corn, peppers and tomatoes, it’s time for this salad. It goes really well with any fish or meat and makes a great taco filling. 

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‘Spring Cleaning’ Recipes

Now that you know all about my recent detox adventure, I am excited to share some of the truly amazing meals I have eaten during that time. They were a fantatsic success in my recent ‘Spring Cleaning’ cooking class and are totally suitable for all those of you who don’t have the slightest interest in doing a detox. The recipes below are inspired by the ones in the book ‘Clean‘. I used different ideas and combined them in the Quinoa Salad recipe, but the Stir-Fry recipe is almost identical to the one in the book.

Quinoa Salad with Ginger-Miso Dressing

 

serves 4

Ingredients

for the salad

  • 1/2 cup white quinoa, rinsed and drained or a mixture of white and black or red quinoa
  • 4 spring onions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped mint
  • 1 tablespoon chopped coriander
  • 1 stick celery, chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 1 small zucchini or cucumber, chopped
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds, soaked in water for 2 hours, drained
  • 2 cups of mixed greens, washed and picked

for the dressing

  • 1-inch (2.5 cm) piece of fresh ginger, peeled
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • 1/4 cup white sweet miso, also called young ‘shiro’ rice miso
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • sea salt and fresh pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon light agave nectar (optional)

Method

Place rinsed quinoa in a small saucepan with 3/4 cup of water. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer with lid on for 12-15 minutes or until germ ring is visible and quinoa has softened. Remove from stove, fluff quinoa with a fork and let cool.

To make dressing; in a food processor, blend ginger, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and miso. Season with salt and pepper to taste. If it’s too sour, add one teaspoon of light agave nectar and give it another whiz. Add 1 tablespoon of water if you prefer a runnier dressing.

Mix quinoa with chopped herbs, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Stir in dressing. Serve on top of greens on large platter.

Stir-Fried Vegetables with Chicken and Buckwheat Soba Noodles

 

serves 4

Ingredients

  • 250 g 100% Buckwheat Soba
  • 2 carrots, sliced thinly
  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • 1 cup sugar snap peas
  • 1 cup zucchini, sliced thinly
  • 1 baby bok choi, sliced length wise
  • 3 spring onions
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh coriander, chopped
  • olive or natural (not toasted) sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon wheat free tamari or nama shoyu
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • freshly ground pepper

for the cooked chicken breasts

  • 2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper

Directions

To make marinade, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Add chicken breasts to marinade and coat evenly. Cover and put in fridge for a minimum of 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C).

Place marinated chicken breasts with marinade in oven proof dish, cover with aluminium foil and bake for 20 minutes or until cooked through. Let cool slightly before cutting into thin slices.

In the meantime, bring 2 quarts (2 liters) water to boil in a large pot. Add noodles, stir and cook according to package instructions.

When the noodles are done, place in colander and rinse with cold water. This will prevent them from turning into a sticky mess. Place drained noodles in a large bowl. Toss with toasted sesame oil and set aside..

For the stir-fry, heat wok or heavy pan on high heat and add 1 tablespoon of natural sesame or olive oil. Add ginger and garlic and fry for one minute, stirring constantly. Add vegetables, except for spring onions and coriander, stirring and tossing for about 5 minutes. Vegetables should retain their colour and a nice crunch.

Add tamari or nama shoyu, lime juice, spring onions, salt and pepper to wok. Stir once more and turn heat off. Sprinkle with coriander.

Toss in a bowl with soba noodles. Serve with sliced chicken breast on the side.

Roast Pumpkin and Chickpea Salad with Sun Dried Tomato Dressing

 

A friend brought this salad to a party many years ago and I totally fell in love with it. I asked her for the recipe and made it ever since. The ladies at my cooking classes went completely gaga about it as did every woman I have ever made it for. What can I say; it’s a great salad for the ladies.

Ingredients

Serves 4

  • 1 medium Butternut Squash, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 2 tablespoons chopped basil, coriander (cilantro) or mint
  • Olive oil for roasting 

Dressing

  • 1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 F (190 C). Toss pumpkin in a little olive oil and spread out evenly on paper lined baking tray. Roast for 30 minutes or until tender, turning halfway through. Allow to cool.
  2. To make dressing: heat both vinegars and sun dried tomatoes in small sauce pan on low heat until tomatoes have softened. Place softened tomatoes with vinegar, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper in food processor and pulse until ingredients are combined and dressing is still a little chunky. Check and adjust seasoning to taste.
  3. Toss pumpkin and chickpeas in dressing, place in serving bowl and sprinkle with herbs.

Warm Lentil Salad with Rocket and Goats Cheese

This recipe is an adaptation from Martha Stewart’s recipe. I have made it so many times, and depending on my garden used rocket, spinach or Swiss chard with it. With some crusty bread, it is delicious for lunch or on a buffet table. You can find Puy lentils at any good grocery store. They are dark green and have a nutty texture, which is perfect for this salad.

Ingredients

Serves 4

  • 3/4 cup green (Puy) lentils (4.75 ounces)
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 shallots, thinly sliced crosswise and separated into rings
  • 1 carrot, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1 stalk celery, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1 red bell pepper, ribs and seeds removed, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 2 teaspoons coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2-3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 cups rocket or spinach, stemmed and coarsely chopped
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 ounces fresh goat cheese

Directions

  1. Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Add lentils, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Add shallots, and cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften, about 2 minutes. Add carrot, celery, and bell pepper; continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes more. Stir in parsley, vinegar, and remaining tablespoon oil.
  3. Drain lentils, and add to vegetables. Stir in rocket or spinach, and season generously with salt and black pepper. Crumble goat cheese on top and toss gently to combine.