Friday, April 15, 2011

A Tale of Two Salads

I'm not a salad gal myself, I generally don't order them at restaurants, and I rarely make them at home. However, on Wednesday, lulled by the Farmer's market I decided to buy fresh ingredients and have salads for the remainder of the week. The thing is, even though it is spring, I am often stumped at the market about what to buy. I didn't want asparagus, I didn't know what to do with fava beans, I could buy peas...and then there are a bunch of greens like swiss chard that I don't really know how to use either.

So I left the market with a basket of strawberries, a bunch of spinach, a bunch of arugula, sugar snap peas and a couple of oranges. Not really salad material...I went to the store after work and picked up a couple of fillers--a cucumber, goat cheese, marinated artichokes, kalamata olives and a balsamic vinegrette.

My first salad was sub-par. I threw all the ingredients I purchased together with far too many greens. I added some sprigs of cilantro, a few sliced boiled multi-colored potatoes and some slices of steak. Parts of the salad tasted like fresh mowed grass, other parts tasted fart too acidic. The salad was edible but it just wasn't delicious.

Learning from my mistakes and building on my heaviest ingredient, my second salad was warmed and a delicious blend of surprising flavors. This, my friends is a salad I will make again, and I encourage you to do the same and to serve it as a main course with a side of fruit.

Wilted Arugula Steak & Potato Salad (for 2 as a main dish)
1/4 lb grilled steak, thinly sliced
1/2 lb mixed thin-skinned potatoes (I used red, purple and yellow), boiled until just soft, about 10 minutes
1 small bunch arugula, washed and stems removed, ripped into bite sized pieces
pitted kalamata olives to taste
1-3 T olive oil, to desired moistness
salt, to taste
4 T mixed fresh herbs such as sage, rosemary & thyme
2 T goat cheese, crumbled

1. Finely chop herbs and set aside.
2. Toss all ingredients except cheese and olives in a microwave safe bowl
3. Microwave on high 45 seconds or until steak and potatoes are warm and arugula is wilted
4. Toss salad with cheese and olives and serve with fruit

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Lemon Yogurt Muffins

Recently I have come to love the flavor of lemon. I always liked the lemon jelly beans and lemon lime soda but if I had to choose between a lemon bar and a brownie, I would always go with the brownie. Now, however, the choice would be difficult. I also love the complexity of lemon and chocolate together--although not all the time, just in certain situations. I won't pass up a scoop of lemon custard and a drizzle of hot fudge but a lemon bar with chocolate topping might be a little strange.

When I came across these Lemon Yogurt Muffins on a blot I was reading, I thought this was perfect. We currently have at least ten lemons and a bunch of leftover yogurt so I didn't even have to shop for this recipe.

I'm a dough taster, and if the batter is good I'm confident the final product will be. I don't want to hear it about the raw eggs, I know, I know but so be it. I tasted this batter after it came together and didn't notice the lemon at all. It was very faint and so it tasted kinda like plain batter. So, I added a dash of almond extract...still nothing. So I added a bit more sugar and zest of one more lemon. Still nothing...but I decided to go with it.

The final product is as bland as the batter. The texture is also a little strange with these muffins--somewhere between angel food cake and crumpets...complete with lots of nooks and crannys, especially on the bottom. I don't think I'll make these again--they were ok with the added honey on them and they'd probably be good with jam and butter but they are not the spurt of lemony freshness I envisioned for a quick grab and go breakfast.

The recipe at Macheesmo.

Monday, April 11, 2011

New Product - Dark Chocolate Goji

I am a sucker for new interesting products with nice packaging. Seriously, I notice the packaging sometimes before the product itself. I was browsing the produce section at Ralphs the other day and came across this stand of Brookside chocolate covered fruit. Intrigued! Look at this beautiful packaging!!

I had never before heard of Goji fruit. Interesting...but it's $3. Brookside also makes chocolate covered pomegranate seeds and chocolate covered acai berries. The thing is, looking at this packaging, you totally expect a piece of juicy goji fruit to squirt out at you, or if not at least the dried variety. Unfortunately, these chocolate covered berries are not so much chocolate covered as chocolate flavored. Don't get me wrong, the flavor is good, it's just not as good for you as it seems it should be parading around the produce section in grandmother's pajamas.

These candies have the texture of chocolate covered raisins with a nice dark chocolate bitterness and then the tang of goji fruit. I find these totally addicting and only wish they were healthier--should've just gone with the strawberries.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Baked French "Fries"

A few weeks ago, I was browsing some blogs and I came across this recipe for baked French Fries. I knew I had to try it--just needed to have the right potatoes and the time. Today was just the day for it.

The prep for this recipe is easy and fast--it takes less than the time to heat the oven. The hard part of this recipe is making sure not to overcook your potatoes--I had a few pieces that weren't as uniform as the others that burned--and mine were probably mostly ready after exactly 45 minutes.

I also recommend reducing the salt. I used the 2t the recipe called for and we all agreed less salt would've been better, you can always add more later.

Recipe and better pictures here.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Lemon Tart

If Joey & I are assigned to bring dessert somewhere, we often try it out ahead of time and then Joey's work gets a treat.

This time, we tested out some lemon tart early as a test for Easter. This tart took a long time to make and created too many dishes. We don't think it's a winner for Easter but it is delicious and I would eat it if served to me.

Joey was disappointed by the hard to use crust that was too wet to really roll out. I thought that the candied lemon peel--while a fancy touch took entirely too long and didn't look as beautiful as we wished it had. Our panel of tasters thought that the tart was a little too tart and could use a little more sugar. Also, several people removed the candied peels assuming they weren't edible. So much for garnish! If you make this, serve it with whipped cream and maybe candy whole slices of lemons for better effect.

Recipe and more pictures here.