May – Wild Rice and Black Bean Salad

May – Wild Rice and Black Bean Salad

Black bean and wild rice salad is a flexible dish, it even doesn’t have to be a salad. You could serve it warm as well. Modify this very versatile recipe for the occasion and your taste. Add some shredded cheddar or crumbled goat cheese and it could be the center of a vegetarian feast. It is a perfect side dish for a BBQ or pot luck. Best of all it can be made a few hours ahead, it doesn’t require any last minute attention other than a sprinkling of chopped cilantro. The flavors will improve by sitting for a few hours. If made ahead, refrigerate the salad and bring it up to cool room temperature, sprinkle with cilantro and serve.

I know that wild rice can be pricy. Modify by using leftover cooked brown rice, it would work as a substitute. When I cook any kind of rice I always prepare more than I will use. Day old rice makes the best fried rice, and cooked rice freezes well in heavy duty freezer bags. Portion as much as you will need for a meal. label it, and pop it in the freezer. When you want to use it, add a few drops of water to the bag and reheat in the microwave.

Wild Rice and Black Bean Salad

INGREDIENTS (serves 4 – 6)

  • 1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained (or 1 1/2 cups of cooked and drained black beans)
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked wild rice (about 1 cup uncooked)
  • 1 bunch of spring onions or scallions, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely minced
  • 1 English or thin skinned cucumber, chopped into cubes (if using a regular cuke, peel and seed it first)
  • 1/2 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 avocado chopped
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp red pepper (depending on desired heat)
  • Salt to taste
  • Lemon and/or lime juice, about 1/4 cup
  • Olive oil, about 1/4-1/2 cup
  • Chopped fresh cilantro or parsley

METHOD

  1. Prepare the wild rice according to package directions, drain and cool.
  2. In a large bowl mix the black beans, onions, garlic, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, red pepper together.
  3. Add the chili powder, cumin, red pepper and salt. Taste and see if it needs any additional seasoning.
  4. Toss with the juice of a lemon or 2 limes, then add the olive oil. I start with the smallest amount and taste, adding more if needed.
  5. Serve, or chill until serving time. Garnish with chopped cilantro or parsley.

    Wild Rice and Black Bean Salad

 

I am taking this salad to Fiesta Friday #171. It will be a perfect balance to the array of dishes brought by other bloggers. Click here to read the posts, please add your own to the party.

 

 

October – Pasta with cauliflower, artichokes and parmesan oil

October – Pasta with cauliflower, artichokes and parmesan oil

Sometimes the best things happen by accident. I’m talking about the inspiration that hit when a bag of frozen artichoke hearts fell out of the freezer, that kind of “ah-ha” moment. You laugh, but cooking to me is an art. It’s one that is unselfish and fleeting (unless it is captured on the pages of a blog), it’s designed to bring pleasure to others but is gone in a few hours. And so, like a good painting, I don’t really have a recipe. This recipe was completely spontaneous; I made it up as I went along. If you always cook from a recipe, try it sometime. It is very freeing. Pasta is one of those dishes that will lend itself to this kind of spontaneity because it is a blank canvas. Of course there are many wonderful classical dishes, but then those last minute “clean out the fridge or freezer” dishes can also be delicious.

So, frozen artichokes in hand, I went searching for what else might be lurking about needing to be added to my work of art. The fridge had half a head of cauliflower, a red pepper, and some Parmigiano Reggiano, the counter a jar of Parmesan oil, and in the cupboard I found half used packages of penne and fusilli. I always have onions and garlic available. Ready to go.

Pasta with Cauliflower, Artichoke Hearts, and Parmesan Oil

  • 1 package frozen artichoke hearts, defrosted and drained well on paper towels
  • 1/2 large head of cauliflower, broken into florets
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons of olive oil – divided
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • About 3/4 pound of pasta of your choice. I had 1/3 box of penne and 1/3 box of fusilli left in the cupboard.
  • Parmesan oil, or good olive oil for finishing

    Parmesan Olive Oil

    Parmesan Olive Oil

  • Freshly grated Parmesan for serving.
  1. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil over high heat for your pasta, start this first since the rest will cook fairly quickly.
  2. When boiling, add your pasta. If they have different cooking times, stagger adding them so they finish at the same time. Turn down the heat if it looks like it will boil over (the starch in the pasta sometimes does that). Cook to al dente. Reserve 1 cup of cooking water before draining, do not rinse.
  3. Meanwhile, warm 2 tablespoons of the olive oil on medium high heat in a very large skillet.
  4. Add the chopped onions and cook until softened and beginning to turn golden, about 10 minutes. Turn down the heat if it is browning too quickly.
  5. Turn the heat down to medium (if you haven’t done this already) and add the garlic, sauté for about a minute, then add the red pepper. When the pepper begins to soften, turn the contents of the skillet into a large heatproof bowl.

    Sauteed onions and garlic

    Sauteed onions and garlic

  6. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the skillet on medium high heat. When shimmering, add the cauliflower. Cook for about 5 minutes or until beginning to caramelize. Add the red pepper and continue to cook for a few minutes until they soften. Turn the cauliflower and red pepper into the bowl with the onions.

    Sauteed cauliflower and red pepper

    Sauteed cauliflower and red pepper

  7. Add the artichoke hearts to the skillet. Move the artichoke hearts down against the bottom of the skillet so they begin to brown. You may need to add a touch more oil at this point. Cook for anther minute or so.

    Sauteed artichoke hearts

    Sautéed artichoke hearts

  8. Add the onions, garlic, cauliflower, and red pepper back to the skillet. Stir.
  9. Add the pasta. Toss again and slowly add some of the reserved cooking water to moisten the mix. You don’t want it swimming but don’t want it to be dry. The starch in the cooking water will help bind things together.
  10. Turn into a warm serving bowl.

    Pasta with Cauliflower. Artichoke Hearts and Parmesan

    Pasta with Cauliflower. Artichoke Hearts and Parmesan

  11. When serving, drizzle with Parmesan oil or good quality olive oil and shred some fresh parmesan on top of each.

    Pasta with Parmesan Olive Oil

    Pasta with Parmesan Olive Oil

Serve with a tossed green salad.

Pasta with Parmesan Oil

Pasta with Parmesan Oil

I’m taking this to share on Fiesta Friday #91. Come join the fun at a virtual blogging party hosted by Angie of The Novice Gardener. The co-hosts this week are Juju @ cookingwithauntjuju and Indira @ I’ll Cook, You Wash.

September in the kitchen – One Pot Thai Turkey and Rice

September in the kitchen – One Pot Thai Turkey and Rice

The title of this post is misleading and boring. I admit it, anyone have better ideas? The title completely downplays the wonders of a dish that is easy, nutritious, inexpensive, seasonal, can be made ahead (even the morning of dinner if you are an early bird), and is even more delicious “left over”. The idea came from Martha Stewart Living, a magazine I sometimes pick up in the airport to calm the stress of air travel. Magazines are my drug of choice when embarking on a long flight.

I made this with dark meat turkey because I think it has more flavor. You could use a mixture, all breast meat, or even ground chicken.

Thai Turkey with Rice and Tomato/Peach salad

Thai Turkey with Rice and Tomato/Peach salad

Thai Turkey with Rice and Tomato/Peach Salad

Dressing

  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice (from about 2 limes)
  • 2-3 tablespoons fish sauce (divided, see instructions below)
  • 2 teaspoons light brown sugar
  • 7 shallots, halved and thinly sliced lengthwise (divided, 1/2 cup to be added to sauce)
  • 1/2 a Serrano chili, seeded and finely chopped (optional)

Thai Turkey with Rice

  • 1 tablespoon neutral vegetable oil
  • 1 lb. ground turkey (ground chicken would also be good)
  • 1 tablespoon minced and peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 1/4 cups jasmine rice (brown or white)
  • Remaining fish sauce from above
  • 1 1/4 cups unsweetened full fat coconut milk
  • 1 1/4 cups of water
  • 2 sweet red peppers, thinly sliced lengthwise
  • Kosher salt
Tomato/Peach Salad with Herbs

Tomato/Peach Salad with Herbs

Tomato/Peach Salad

  • 10 small tomatoes, cut into wedges
  • 3 peaches or nectarines, cut into wedges
  • 1 cup fresh basil, chopped roughly (optional as I didn’t have any on hand, but I would have added it)
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped roughly
  • Kosher salt
  1. Combine the lime juice, 1-2 tablespoons of fish sauce, and brown sugar in a bowl. Stir until the sugar is dissolved, stir in 1/2 cup of shallots and the 1/2 Serrano chili if using.
  2. Heat the oil in a large high sided skillet over med-high heat. Add the turkey, ginger, garlic and remaining shallots. Cook, stirring to break up the turkey, until browned, about 10 minutes. Reduce the heat if things look like they are browning too rapidly.
  3. Add the rice to the pan. Cook, stirring, for about a minute. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of fish sauce and scrape any brown bits from the bottom of the pan.
  4. Add the coconut milk, red peppers, 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt, and 1 1/4 cups of water to the pan. Bring to a simmer, lower the heat, and cover. Cook gently, stirring occasionally, until the rice is tender. This will take 15 to 25 minutes depending on the type of rice used. Add a bit of water if the mix appears too dry.
  5. Toss the tomatoes, peaches, and herbs with some of the dressing in a large bowl, season with salt.
  6. Serve the tomato salad over over the turkey and rice, spooning additional dressing over as desired.

Fix the salad at the last minute for the freshest flavor. The turkey and rice will reheat well and is even more wonderful the following day. I admit that this mix of tomatoes and stone fruit has caught my imagination. I’ve made it many times. A finely chopped green chili (or portion of one depending on your desire for heat) adds a nice punch and is a wonderful contrast to the sweetness of late season tomatoes and peaches.

If tomatoes and/or peaches are out of season, what about cucumbers and unripe mango?

I’m going to submit this one to The Recipe Challenge Contest/Week 2 sponsored by Lin’s Recipes. The week is all about minced meat of some kind (I think turkey qualifies) or shredded soya. You can follow the link to read more.

September in the Kitchen – Mexican Vegetable Salad

September in the Kitchen – Mexican Vegetable Salad

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to create a salad for 50 people as part of a Mexican buffet supper. It should have crunch, be good with tacos and enchiladas, not wilt if it sits for several hours, be flavorful, colorful, and healthy, plus vegetarian with no avocados. The mission was not impossible. I accepted the challenge since after all I did offer; and it was for my good friend’s daughter’s engagement party.

First step, do some research on the internet. Unfortunately it yielded too many salads with avocado (the groom-to-be is allergic), black beans (too heavy with the rest of the menu), lettuce (sure to wilt), or mayonnaise (I don’t want food poisoning to ruin the celebration). No recipe was exactly how I envisioned the salad. What to do?

Cabbage and jicama

Cabbage and jicama

Shredded cabbage and jicama for crispness and sweetness.

Carrots

Carrots

Carrots for color and crunch.

Radishes

Radishes

Radishes and red onion for heat.

Sweet peppers

Sweet peppers

Sweet peppers for color and flavor.

Farmer's Market Corn

Farmer’s Market Corn

And fresh farmer’s market corn for creaminess and starch, to pull things together.

Shredded Vegetable Mexican Salad

Shredded Vegetable Mexican Salad

I don’t have an exact recipe. Cut the proportions by 1/4 for a smaller group. You won’t mind having leftovers!

Mexican Vegetable Salad (50 cups)

  • 2 heads of green cabbage, shredded
  • 10 carrots, shredded
  • 4 red onions, sliced
  • 3 bunches of radishes, sliced
  • 10 sweet peppers, sliced thinly
  • 1 very large jicama, sliced thinly
  • 8 ears of corn, cooked slightly (4 minutes each in the microwave)
  • Chopped fresh cilantro for garnish and flavor at the end, 1-2 bunches

Now on to the dressing, I wanted something tart but with a touch of sweetness and some heat as well. I think the combination of lime juice, olive oil, honey, cumin, cilantro, garlic, and jalapeño will do the job.

Mexican Honey-Lime Dressing (makes 4 1/2 cups)

  • 10 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 jalapeños, minced
  • 6 tablespoons of honey
  • 1 rounded tablespoon of ground cumin
  • 1-2 tablespoons of kosher salt (taste)
  • 2 cups of lime juice (about 12 limes)
  • 2 cups of olive oil
  1. Chop the garlic and jalapenos finely (I used my food processor)
  2. Mix with the honey, add the cumin and salt.
  3. Whisk in the lime juice.
  4. Whisk in the olive oil.
  5. Prepare this several hours ahead and refrigerate to give flavors time to

I did all of the above in the large food processor. Be careful that your own doesn’t overflow (mine did). If you make a large quantity I recommend two batches.

Mexican Vegetable Salad

Mexican Vegetable Salad

And I’m saving the best part till last…this is fantastic as a left over. It keeps well, is wonderfully crunchy for lunches, and makes a wonderful Mexican fried rice.

  • Heat a large skillet on medium-high heat.
  • When hot add a slurry of olive oil, about 3 tablespoons.
  • Cover the bottom of the skillet with leftover rice (brown or white), I made about a 1 inch layer. Add some leftover meat if available on top (I had some sausages from Sunday super).IMG_3514
  • Let the rice brown for several minutes until it turns crusty on the bottom, then stir it up.IMG_3515
  • Add the Mexican vegetable salad, a few good sized handfuls. Saute for a couple of minutes, you want the vegetables to still be crisp.
  • Add some dressing for flavor.IMG_3516
  • You could add a poached or fried egg on top, or grated cheese, or cubes of feta, or avocado, or cilantro. Use what you have in your kitchen and your taste favors that day.

I am going to take this dish to Fiesta Friday sponsored by Angie of the Novice Gardener. This week’s co-hosts are

Fiesta Friday

Fiesta Friday

Please come visit all the yummy food that has been prepared by the talented cooks who are part of the party. Angie from the blog The Novice Gardener is our host. The fiesta is co-hosted by Judi @ cookingwithauntjuju and from Quinn @ Dad Whats 4 Dinner.

September in the Kitchen – Grilled Rib Eye Steaks with Potato Hobo Packs and Pickled Chilis

September in the Kitchen – Grilled Rib Eye Steaks with Potato Hobo Packs and Pickled Chilis

If you are a camper you have probably heard of “hobo packs”. It’s a classic campfire trick of wrapping ingredients in foil and cooking them directly in the coals. In our case we have a gas grill, so the packs were placed directly on the grill. The potatoes were par-cooked for a few minutes, sprinkled with salt, drizzled with sesame oil and finally wrapped with aluminum foil to place on the grate for 15 to 20 minutes until tender.

A few comments on to the subject of steaks on the BBQ: My personal preference is for rib eye (preferably from the center cut) or New York cuts. They are the perfect combination of tenderness and flavor. Look for ones that are uniform and well marbled. Good steaks require little more than salt, but be sure you bring them to room temperature before cooking. For a bit of extra umami I used sea salt flavored with powdered sea weed.

One steak will easily feed two adults, maybe three, if you cut it into slices (once rested so the juices settle). My mother told a favorite story about my English grandmother’s first visit to a steak restaurant in the U.S. Nanny was unfamiliar with the typically generous portions served. When they placed her steak in front of her she protested that she didn’t want to carve for everyone! I won’t get on a soap box here (at least not too much) but I think portions have gotten out of hand in many restaurants. We would all be better off with vegetables taking the center stage and meat the supporting role.

Grilled Rib Eye Steaks with Hobo Potatoes and Pickled Chiles

Grilled Rib Eye Steaks with Hobo Potatoes and Pickled Chiles

Grilled Rib Eye Steaks with Hobo Potatoes and Pickled Chiles

  • For the steaks:
    • 1 – 2 rib eye steaks, 1 to 1 1/2 inch thick
    • Sea salt with dried seaweed (or 1 tablespoon crushed bonito flakes and 1 tablespoon kosher salt). Don’t over worry if you don’t have these on hand. You could also use a minced anchovy or simply leave it out.
    • olive oil
  • For the potatoes
    • 1 pound of scrubbed new potatoes or larger ones cut in chunks
    • kosher salt
    • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
    • optional: 4 shiso leaves cut into chiffanade (or cilantro)
  • For the pickled chiles
    • Juice of 2 limes
    • 2 serrano chiles, stemmed, seeded and minced (or jalapeños for more heat)
    • 1 tablespoon minced red onion
  • For garnish
    • cubed avocado
  1. First season both sides of the steaks with sea salt flavored with sea weed (or the crushed bonito flakes or anchovy). Let them come to room temperature, about 2 hours. Drizzle both sides with olive oil.
  2. Put the potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with water (you can start most things that are in the ground, such as potatoes or carrots, in cold water). Add about a tablespoon of kosher salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, then turn down the temperature to medium. cook until they are firm tender, 10-15 minutes depending on size. Drain.
  3. Cut the potatoes into 1 inch pieces if large. Arrange them in the center of a large rectangle of heavy duty aluminum foil, drizzle with sesame oil. Pull the ends of the foil together and fold over to seal. Crimp the sides to make a package with the potatoes inside.
  4. Make the pickled chiles by combining the lime juice, chiles, and red onion in a small bowl. Mix to combine and add salt to taste. Use them immediately for the most heat and tartness, or cover and refrigerate for a few days. They will become milder with time.
  5. Prepare your charcoal grill or preheat the gas one to 450-500 degrees F. When the fire is ready add the steaks and grill, turning once, for 2 to 3 minutes a side. Cover the grill and continue to cook (turning once) until done to your liking. The time will depend the thickness of the steak. This could take 5 to 15 minutes. The internal temperature for medium rare is 120 degrees F. Transfer the steaks to a cutting board and let rest.
  6. Put the potatoes on the grill or rest them in the coals. Cook until tender and beginning to brown, about 15-20 minutes.
  7. Transfer the potatoes to a large platter and sprinkle with cilantro or shiso or basil. Season with sea salt. Slice the steak into thick slices and arrange on the potatoes. Spoon some of the pickled chiles on top, reserving additional chiles to be added to taste.
  8. Garnish with avocado and more cilantro (or shiso).
  9. Serve.
    Grilled Rib Eye Steaks the Hobo Potato Packs and Pickled Chilies

    Grilled Rib Eye Steaks the Hobo Potato Packs and Pickled Chilies

    This recipe is adapted from one that was published in the San Francisco Chronicle Food section this past July.

    Pour yourself a glass of rose to sip while your meal cooks on the grill. You only need a simple salad to complete things. The “meat and potato” fans in your household will be pleased.

    I’m taking this to share on Fiesta Friday #84 sponsored by Angie from the blog The Novice Gardener co-hosted by Effie at Food Daydreaming and Steffie at Ginger and Bread. It’s my first post on the party site for several weeks (summer vacation is history, here we are September!). Come join the fun and fantasy taste some really amazing dishes.

    Fiesta Friday

    Fiesta Friday