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Posts Tagged ‘salad dressing’

Spring Salad

May 19, 2012 2 comments

We are novice organic gardeners. We buy organic seeds and plants when we can and we don’t use pesticides. Instead, we use cayenne pepper, Dr. Bronner’s peppermint soap, garlic, and diatomaceous earth. We also plant marigolds, mint, onions, and nasturtiums for bug control. We still have more bugs than we’d care to have, but the birds don’t seem to mind. There are lots of baby birds at the Smith-Jordan house and we’re enjoying bird watching. This photo includes our blue jay, chickadee, and woodpecker babies. The baby titmouse and cardinal are too elusive to capture on film.

We’ve been in our house for 2½ years. Since it was a new home, with a cleared lot, we have lots of sunshine and a blank canvas. We are slowly transforming the back yard into an edible landscape. So far, we have five raised vegetable beds (yay Matt!), one herb bed, one sweet potato straw “cage” (my summer experiment), two fig trees, and two containers of tomatoes. We are currently transitioning from our spring garden to our summer garden. We still have sugar snap peas, several varieties of lettuce, radishes, and purple mustard greens. The carrots are coming in slowly. Soon, we’ll harvest tomatoes, peppers, onions, leeks, cucumbers, and patty pan squashes. We’ll have to wait until the end of summer for the sweet potatoes and butternut squash.

We are enjoying lots of fresh salads. This week, we went to a birthday party for a friend. We brought a spring salad with a strawberry habanero balsamic vinaigrette. It was tasty with an interesting combination of flavors – sweet, bitter, and spicy. We picked the carrots, radishes, peas, and greens from our garden and bought the strawberries at the Madison Farmer’s Market. It doesn’t get much fresher than that!

The strawberry balsamic vinaigrette recipe is originally from Rachael Ray (http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/rachael-ray/green-salad-with-strawberry-balsamic-vinaigrette-recipe/index.html). I used the strawberry jam and strawberry habanero jam I made a few weeks ago in the dressing. I also made a few more changes to the original recipe to suit our tastes. This recipe is scalable, you can make it for two or twelve people, just adjust the quantities in the original recipe which serves 6-8. Be flexible with the fruit and vegetables that you add to the greens, use whatever you like, that is in season. Hope you enjoy experimenting with different flavor combinations…

Spring Salad

2 tablespoons strawberry habanero jam*

3 tablespoons (1.5 ounces) balsamic vinegar

½ cup oil**

2 teaspoons water

Salt and pepper, to taste

8 cups mixed greens

½ cup pea pods, strings removed

½ cup carrots, sliced thinly

½ cup radishes, sliced thinly

1 cup strawberries, sliced thinly

Place jam in a measuring cup or in a small bowl. Whisk in the balsamic vinegar. Then add the oil and water. Whisk until you get a nice thick dressing (you might need to add a bit more water if it is too thick). Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour over the greens and veggies in a large salad bowl. Toss. Add the strawberries at the end to prevent them from breaking into pieces. Serve. Makes 6-8 servings.

Notes and Variations:

*Jam:  If you only have strawberry jam, that is fine. The habanero just adds a little extra kick. Raspberry preserves, orange marmalade, or blueberry jam would also work.

**Oil: You can use extra virgin olive oil or a combination of olive oil, sunflower oil, canola oil, or vegetable oil. Whatever you prefer is fine.

Possible variations: Add toasted pecans, slivered almonds, walnuts, dried cherries, or dried cranberries (especially if fresh strawberries are not in season).

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Excuses, Excuses…

August 26, 2011 12 comments

Ok, it has been a while since my last post (actually, my first and only post).  There are tons of reasons:  1) health issues, 2) honeymoon trip planning (much more fun than #1), 3) writer’s block, and 4) a lack of confidence.  This last one is the biggie.

Health issues are improving and I am feeling better!  All of the flights and rooms are booked so the trip planning is going well.  Just have the little details of what to see, what to do, how to get there, left to plan.  Writer’s block has plagued me for years; I should be used to it by now.  I just gotta write something, anything, to get me started.  This post is my attempt to get over this latest block.

This leads me to “lack of confidence.”  I have many recipes to share, but I am worried that the recipes might not be foolproof enough to post.  Case in point – recently, I made cornbread when my in-laws were visiting.  I got a little too confident and didn’t measure everything.  Big mistake!  Thought I was running out of the corn meal mix, so I just poured all of it into the mixing bowl.  Figured I would get the ratio correct when I added the buttermilk.  Not so much.  Fail!  It tasted fine, but the texture was crumbly.  Having a fail from my own recipe, didn’t exactly boost my confidence.

I’ve also been concerned that my photography is not good enough.  So, I’ve used this as another rationalization not to post.  Well, we just got a new camera for our trip to Italy and I am optimistic that this excuse will not be an issue for very long.  Now, if I can just learn how to use the camera, I’ll be set! In the meantime, I will post what I can (with or without photographs).  I can always update posts after the fact.

Following are three recipes to make up for my lack of recent posts.  The first is my homage to summer – a “Magic” Blueberry Cobbler.  This recipe, originally from Good Morning America,  is also delicious with peaches (or blackberries, or even a combo of the three).  Berry season is over but if last night’s farmers market is any indication, peaches are still going strong here in Alabama.  The other two are my welcome to fall recipes (one can dream that fall will be here eventually) – Egyptian Style Red Lentil Soup and an Egyptian Style Salad Dressing.  Last week’s cooler weather made me think about soup.  This is an excellent and versatile soup; it can be vegetarian, vegan, or made with stock.  In addition, it is relatively quick to make since it does not need to simmer all day. It is great for not heating up the kitchen while we are waiting patiently for fall!  The salad dressing makes a nice accompaniment, perfect on a simple green salad.

Magic Blueberry Cobbler:
5 cups fresh blueberries (works with frozen berries too, you can also substitute peaches or blackberries for half of the blueberries)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (I probably used a little more)
¼ teaspoon ground mace (optional, I used cinnamon)
3 cups sugar (I used less sugar)
1 cup whole milk (I have used ½ & ½ with a little water)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
½ teaspoon vanilla extract (or a little more)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1½ cups boiling water

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Spread the blueberries in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.  Drizzle the lemon juice over the berries and set this aside.  In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, ½ teaspoon of the salt, the nutmeg, mace (or cinnamon), 1½ cups of the sugar, the milk, butter, and vanilla.  Spoon over the berries and spread in an even layer.

In a small bowl, combine the remaining 1½ cups sugar, the remaining ½ teaspoon salt, and the cornstarch.  Sprinkle this mixture over the batter.  Pour the boiling water evenly over the top of the cobbler.  Poke a few holes down in the batter with the handle of a wooden spoon.  Bake for 1 hour or until bubbly, golden brown and shiny.  Serve warm or at room temperature (I like it cold for breakfast!).

Egyptian Style Red Lentil Soup:
2 cups chopped onions
10 cloves garlic, peeled, roughly chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 carrots, chopped
1-1½ cups chopped potatoes (about 1 large potato)
5 cups water (or vegetable broth or chicken stock)
1 cup dried red lentils
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 teaspoons ground cumin
½ teaspoon turmeric
¼ teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon salt
Pinch of hot chili flakes, cayenne, or Aleppo pepper (optional)
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper

In a large pot or Dutch oven, sauté the onions, celery, and garlic in oil.  Add the carrots, potatoes, lentils, and water. Cover and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat and simmer 15-20 minutes or until the lentils and vegetables are tender. Take pot off the heat or turn it to very low.

In a separate, small saucepan, add the canola oil and warm over low heat until the oil is hot but not smoking.  Add the cumin, turmeric, coriander, salt, and chili flakes; cook and stir constantly for 2-3 minutes or until the spices have released their fragrance (be careful not to burn the spices).  Set spice mixture aside for a few minutes to cool.

Stir spice mixture into the lentil mixture and then add the cilantro.  You can purée the soup, in batches, in a blender or you can use an immersion blender and blend to a desired texture (I like to leave it a little chunky).  Add the fresh lemon juice and stir to combine.  Re-warm soup and season with more salt/pepper, if you want.  Serve with lemon wedges and Greek low-fat yogurt.

Egyptian Style Salad Dressing:
¼ cup oil (canola, sunflower, olive oil, or your choice of oils)
¼ cup lemon juice (can also substitute lime if that’s what you have)
1 tablespoon vinegar (white or apple cider or a combination)
4-5 garlic cloves, crushed
¼ teaspoon salt (or to taste)
¼ teaspoon black pepper (or to taste)
Pinch of cumin
Pinch of hot chili flakes, cayenne, or Aleppo pepper (optional)

Mix ingredients.  Serve over a green salad or tomato/cucumber/onion/parsley chopped salad.