Tag Archives: salad

green bean, corn, tomato and farro salad

28 Jul

green_bean_saladHow’s your summer going? Mine was seeming rather BLAH until a new farmer’s market set up shop on the blustery blocks of my hood. What can I say, it just makes me feel super San Franciscan to traipse over with my reusable shopping bags and Square purchase seasonal organic veggies and free range meats from my local farmers, and see photos of the goats whom I am to thank for my afternoon cheese snack. And, so what if I want to wash it all down with a mason jar of fresh El Diablo juice?!

I was summoned for a baby dinner and offered to bring a salad. Here was the scene:

baby_hi_five

You know, babies just hanging out. Giving toe-fives and sucking breast. Even the bundt cakes were for babies or something:

mini_bundt_cakesAs it happened, I had nabbed a bag of crisp green beans and a few ears of corn from the farmers market, which inspired a toothsome salad packed with the flavors of the season.

green bean, corn, tomato and farro salad
summer haul done right

2 lbs of green beans, trimmed and cut into the bite sizes
3 ears of corn, cut from the cob
2 large tomatoes or a few small ones
1 cup of farro
handful of cilantro
handful of basil
2 cloves of garlic
1/4 c. champagne vinegar
1/3 c. good olive oil
1 tsp. dijon mustard

Cook the farro and cool. Blanch the green beans for a couple minutes and plunge into an ice bath; drain. Blanch the corn for a minute and plunge into an ice bath; drain.

Toss green beans, corn and farro together in large bowl. Chop the tomatoes into bite-sized pieces and add to bowl. Chop the cilantro and basil roughly, then add to the bowl.

To make the dressing, smash garlic cloves and place into a small mixing bowl. Add vinegar, olive oil, mustard, lots of salt and pepper and whisk until emulsified.

30 minutes prior to serving, pour the dressing over salad and mix well. Serves 8.

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kale salad with apples and pecorino

24 Jul

20111227-100214.jpg

Yikes! Just found this draft on my iPad WordPress app from a year ago! Still seems legit, so enjoy…

My grandma is really into wearing “batwing” sweaters, which are immensely popular right now (she’s been wearing them since the 80’s when they were last trendy). Like fashion, what’s old is always new again in gastronomy. Brussels sprouts are on every menu, anchovies are back on pizzas, and kale salad is the new arugula salad.

I was turned on to this particular recipe around Memorial Day, when my friend B, a New Yorker, prepared this on our annual girls weekend in Big Sur. We had procured beautiful salmon steaks, sweet summer corn, artichokes, and bunches of kale from a farmer’s stand. B had been obsessively making this Kale Salad recipe on Food52 for several months and was convinced we’d love it, too.

We hated it! I may have likened eating her raw kale leaf concoction to chewing leathery cardboard. Raw kale…seriously?!

It wasn’t until September that I noticed a pre-packaged, pre-dressed kale salad being sold at Berkeley Bowl and decided to give my leathery friend another taste. Dressed like an Asian slaw with red cabbage, carrots, sesame seeds and a rice vinaigrette, this kale salad was far less intimidating and absolutely delicious.

The difference? This salad had been sitting on the shelf fully dressed for several hours and the acid in the dressing had broken down the tough kale leaves into a palatable texture similar to a thin cabbage leaf — crispy and fresh, yet perfectly infused with dressing.

Inspired by my discovery, I retried B’s salad and let it sit for several hours before nibbling. One bite, and my prejudice against raw kale changed forever. The salad was even great the next day!

kale salad with apples and pecorino
warning: this WILL leave you with suboptimal breath

* 5 cups curly kale, torn into small pieces, thick stems removed
* 2 green onions, trimmed and thinly sliced on the bias
* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
* juice of 1/2 of a lemon
* salt & pepper
* 1 apple
* 1/4 cup hazelnuts, chopped and toasted (I left these out)
* 1/4 cup pecorino romano or parmesan, shaved

In a large bowl, combine the kale, onions, olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Mix with your hands to really blend the dressing and rub it into the greens. Let the salad sit while you prepare the rest.

Core the apple. Thinly slice from stem to end. Add the apples to the salad and gently fold together so they don’t break in half. Taste and adjust seasonings. Sprinkle with the hazelnuts and cheese shavings.

momofuku’s tomato tofu caprese salad

16 Jul

I love eating garnishes. Growing up, we often ate dinner at Zippy’s—a popular diner chain in Hawaii. Typically, I’d order the “Broasted Chicken” kid’s plate (don’t ask my why they call it ‘Broasted,’ it’s just fried) and my grandparents would order spaghetti or a mushroom burger upgraded to the “complete meal,” which included a drink and Jello or pudding.

I coveted the adult “complete meal,” especially for its grown-up adornments – a dark green curly-leafed parsley bush accenting each plate or pickle spear and black olive duo tossed wayside a burger. In my most annoying kid voice, I’d shriek, “can I have that?!”

As an adult dining at high-end sushi joints, I adore sashimi of mild, white fish nestled on a delicate shiso leaf. Unlike the plastic grass comb in a cheap bento box, shiso leaves are a prized garnish – thin like tissue, but intense in flavor. This bright green leaf with a jagged edge is sold for upwards of $0.50 per leaf at specialty grocery stores like Berkeley Bowl. The Japanese use it namely to garnish sashimi and sushi, though also pickled with ume. Shiso’s tomato-meets-mint flavor is uniquely pungent, and somewhat of an acquired taste.

Recently, I went to see Momofuku’s David Chang at the launch party of his new food magazine published by the McSweeney’s gang. Lucky Peach is a wonderful ode to literarily inclined rebel chefs turned author/tv personalities. In a transcribed conversation between Chang, Anthony Bourdain, and Wiley Du Fray, the three ridicule the non-talent of simplistic, local-ingredient focused menus—an assertation they can back up with their own cuisine successes.

For example, Momofuku’s Tofu, Tomato, and Shiso Salad—an Asian twist on Capri’s famed tomato, mozzarella and Basil combination. Brilliant! I don’t need much of a reason to go buy shiso in the first place, so this recipe was the perfect excuse. Instead of cherry tomatoes, I used sweet heirlooms and the very best locally-made medium-firm tofu. The result? An airy salad, sweet, salty and acidic with the soy vinaigrette. Perfect for a summer meal.

momofuku’s tomato tofu caprese salad
a salad that meets my high garnishing standards

One 12-ounce block silken tofu, drained
2 pints (1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds) mixed cherry tomatoes (I opted for normal heirlooms)
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon usukuchi (light soy sauce – I used regular)
1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
1/2 cup grapeseed oil or other neutral oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
6 shiso leaves, stacked atop one another, rolled into a tight cigar, and thinly sliced crosswise

I didn’t bother to cut the tofu nicely, but if you want to:
With your knife blade parallel to the cutting board, cut the block of tofu in half. Using a 2- to 2 1/2-inch ring mold (or a narrow straight-sided glass), cut cylinders of tofu out of each slab. Carefully turn each cylinder on its side and slice in half, yielding 8 rounds of tofu. Save the tofu scraps for another use.

I also skipped skinning the tomatoes, but if you want to:
Bring a large saucepan of salted water into a boil. Prepare an ice batch in a large mixing bowl. Cut a tiny X or slash into the bottom of about two-thirds of the tomatoes. Drop them, in batches, into the boiling water, and after 10 seconds, remove them with a slotted spoon and transfer them to the ice bath to cool. Slip the skin off the blanched tomatoes, put them in a bowl, and refrigerate for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut the remaining cherry tomatoes in half.

Stir together the vinegar, soy sauce and sesame and grapeseed oils in a large mixing bowl. Add all the tomatoes and toss to coat.

To serve, place 2 slices of tofu in each of four shallow serving bowls, and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Top each portion with about a cup of dressed tomatoes, season with a pinch of salt and a few turns of freshly ground black pepper, and garnish, generously with the shiso chiffonade. I went the stacked route (see pic). Serves 4.

whole foods tofu caesar dressing

4 Apr

Lowfat creamy dressings rarely taste delicious, especially when they’re made with corn syrup and wacky gums. When blended, soft or silken tofu makes for an excellent non-dairy, lowfat ingredient that adds creaminess to any dressing or even a fruit smoothie.

The only problem is most packaged tofu you find in the grocery store tastes like bland sponge. If you’re lucky enough to live in the SF Bay Area, however, you can get your hands on the quality stuff — specifically, Hodo Soy Beanery’s Nama Yuba, a creamy, burrata-like soy cheese made from the fat and proteins that rise to the top of heated soy bean milk.

I was browsing through the Whole Foods iPhone app recently, and noticed a recipe for lowfat Caesar dressing made with tofu. After giving it a whirl, I have to say it does NOT taste like Caesar — more like a tangy garlic dressing, which was still yummy. With the addition of a couple anchovies, I think this could be a dressing Julius would be proud of.

tofu caesar dressing
et tu tofu?

2/3 cup (about 5 ounces) firm silken tofu (or the good stuff, if you’ve got it!)
2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons light soy or chickpea miso (I used white miso and cut down to 1 tablespoon)
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 clove of garlic
2 anchovies (packed in oil)
Ground black pepper, to taste

Put all ingredients into a blender and purée until smooth. Makes about 1 cup.

thanksgiving digest

1 Dec

Why does it take until December to finish digesting Thanksgiving? Not unlike past years, our cornucopia overfloweth with meat and starch treats in volumes and combinations that would horrify any pilgrim. Case and point, the Thanksgiving fat bastard himself: turkey cake. Two loaves of turkey meatloaf separated by a layer of cranberry sauce, frosted with mashed potatoes and topped with yams and marshmallows.

Yes, I ate it. Along with the deconstructed version the night before. My chef friend C made possibly the most gorgeous bird I have ever seen stuffed with a homemade cornbread and sausage stuffing.

Parsnip and potato puree, yams, cranberry sauce, creamed leeks, braised carrots, salad and amazing caramelized brussel sprouts rounded out our festive meal, which we nested among the gold leaf centerpieces I had crafted.

Post an Old Fashioned-induced dance party, I geared up for the night after Thanksgiving. Another evening of big eating. M’s turkey cake stole the spotlight, an impressive feat considering the presence of an Asian-themed banquet: two roasted ducks, scallop and sausage sticky rice, soy sauce ribs, homemade spring rolls, chinese chicken salad — plus candied yams and my favorite Roasted Bagna Cauda Broccoli.

Even sans cleaver, N made swift work of carving beautiful Golden Gate Meats ducks.

N’s sticky rice, a recipe of his mother’s, glistened with chewy goodness — studded with slivers of red lap cheong, dried scallop, mushrooms and water chestnuts.

K’s “old school Chinese” expertise showed through in a magnificent platter of golden spring rolls — each perfectly crunchy with an ideal portion of savory meat and vegetable filling. R’s soy sauce pork ribs melted off the bone in spectacular fashion, like a harlot proudly disrobing.

My contribution to the evening was a Chinese Chicken Salad minus the chicken because I have a weird chicken phobia. Really, it was just a butter lettuce and raddiccio salad adorned with crispy prosciutto, won ton chips and homemade garlic roasted peanuts. The secret is the dressing, which I’ll rudely refuse to share. I will, however, recommend you make these amazing garlic roasted peanuts to snack on by the handful or dress salads.

Garlic Roasted Peanuts
smelly and addictive… a treacherous combo

* 1 lb raw peanuts
* 5-6 garlic cloves, chopped roughly
* 2 tablespoon oil, peanut oil preferably
* 4 tablespoon soy sauce
* 1 tablespoon fish sauce
* 1/2 tablespoon sugar
* salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 325° F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper, then put peanuts on sheetpan. Dry roast for 15 minutes.

While the peanuts begin to roast, mix everything else except for the salt and pepper in a medium bowl. After first 15 minutes remove roasted peanuts from oven, mix the peanuts with the marinade, pour back onto sheet pan, then return to oven.

Continue to roast for 10-15 move minutes or until the peanuts are a light golden brown color. Take them out a little before you think they are perfect, because they will continue to cook on their own a little more after being removed from oven.

Allow to cool, then season with salt and pepper. Store airtight at room temperature for 1-2 weeks.

Don’t think I forgot about dessert! There were many notables including C’s fruit crostatas and P’s moist and tender rum cake. My T-day contribution: a silky dark chocolate tart with buttery cookie crust and the interior texture of a ganache. It’s ridiculously easy and impressive….excellent baking ROI.

Dark Chocolate Tart with Gingersnap Crust
adapted from Bon Appétit

Crust:
* 12 ounces gingersnap cookies (Trader Joe’s Triple Gingersnaps are best)
* 3/4 stick salted butter, melted

Filling:
* 12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
* 1 cup heavy whipping cream
* 2 large egg yolks
* 1 large egg
* 1/4 cup sugar
* 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
* Pinch of salt
* 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped crystallized ginger

For crust:
Preheat oven to 325°F. Finely grind gingersnap cookies in processor (yielding around 1 2/3 cups). Add melted butter; process until moistened. Press crumb mixture firmly onto bottom and up sides of 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom. Place pan on rimmed baking sheet.

For filling:
Combine finely chopped bittersweet chocolate and heavy whipping cream in heavy medium saucepan. Whisk over low heat until chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove saucepan from heat. Whisk egg yolks, egg, sugar, flour, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Very gradually whisk chocolate mixture into egg mixture until smooth and blended. Pour chocolate filling into crust.

Bake chocolate tart until filling puffs slightly at edges and center is softly set, about 30 minutes. Transfer to rack. Sprinkle chopped crystallized ginger over top. Cool tart in pan 20 minutes. Gently remove tart pan sides and cool tart completely. DO AHEAD: Chocolate tart can be made 1 day ahead. Cover tart and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Cut tart into thin wedges and serve.

roasted red pepper, eggplant & feta salad

3 Aug

On special occasions, I like to blow a small fortune on cheeses for a fabulous spread… who doesn’t? For everyday cheese eating, I love venturing for a slice of fresh feta from the Mediterranean grocery near my house. Unlike the plastic container of crumbles you normally get, this feta is sold by the pound — delicately sliced to order from a giant brick soaking in brine. It’s perfectly creamy, mild, and not too tart…. perfect to nibble or toss into a salad.

Speaking of cheese, Monday night marked the Bachelorette season finale and we couldn’t have been more excited for “the most dramatic rose ceremony ever.”

The gals and I got together to scream obscenities at the TV and enjoy an equally colorful spread of bites — a leafy salad studded with ripe peaches, point reyes blue cheese and homemade candied walnuts, a DIY platter of grilled bread, steak, onions, fennel and homegrown (!) yellow squash, plus an eggplant and roasted red pepper salad made with my favorite fresh feta. We were bored by the bachelorette’s predictable choice of Latin lover, Roberto, but not disappointed by our fab feast!

Roasted Red Pepper, Eggplant and Feta Salad
adapted from Small Bites

* 2 red peppers, quartered, seeds and stems removed
* 3-4 small eggplants, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
* 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
* salt and freshly ground pepper
* 1 small red onion, sliced into half moons
* 6 oz feta cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
* 1 tsp cumin seeds
* small bunch of mint lives, roughly torn

dressing
* 1 small garlic clove, crushed
* juice of 1 lemon
* 3 tsp pomegranate molasses
* 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
* 1 tsp each salt and pepper

Preheat the broiler to high. Place the peppers skin side up on a nonstick baking sheet. Place under the broiler, cook until blackened, then transfer to plastic bag, seal, and allow to steam 5 minutes. When cooled, peel off the skins and discard.

Toast the cumin seeds in a dry pan, set aside.

Brush the eggplant with the oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Cook under broiler until crispy on both sides.

To make the dressing, place all of the ingredients in a jar and share to combine.

Arrange the eggplant and pepper, sprinkle with onions, feta and cumin seeds. Spoon on the dressing and garnish with mint. Serves 4 as a salad course.

shuck it

4 Jul

Over the years, the Fourth of July has undergone a transformation from National Independence Day to National Hot Dog Day. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t take issue with this. As I see it, there’s nothing more patriotic than dousing coals in lighter fluid, cracking open a can of Bud and getting sunburnt.

But such is not the way we do in NorCal. Armed with kobe burgers, flank steak, sapporo and bottles of chilled muscat, we arrived to Tomales Bay Oyster Farm ready to barbecue. 80-degrees and mercury rising… large groups of Asians marking down their picnic tables… brine in the air.

Once Michael carefully stoked the fire (sans lighter fluid, thank you very much), he began on the kobe burgers… “how would you like yours done?” A question far too rarely asked at outdoor cookouts (pun intended). As the premature noonday sun scorched just the tops of our shoulders, we leisurely took to shucking sacks of pacific oysters, squeezing lemons, applying squirts of shiracha and sipping on muscat from red plastic cups.

To follow, two well-seasoned pieces of flank placed low to ashy coals then raised so cobs of sweet summer corn could rest on direct heat. Next course: live mussels beard and all tossed on the grill…. decidedly the “winner” of the day. Briney and as buttery as their golden shade.

Besides corn on the cob, we rounded off the meal with a fresh, citrus coleslaw. Orange juice-based vinaigrette dressing keeps this dish light, sun-retardant, and complimentary to seafood. Cilantro and green onions add signature NorCal Asian flair.

Cabbage and Corn Slaw with Cilantro and Orange Dressing
Adapted from Epicurious

*  1/3 cup frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
* 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
* 1/3 cup canola oil or vegetable oil
* zest and juice of 1 lime
* 1 head of cabbage (3 lbs)
* 4 ears of fresh corn, shucked, kernels cut from cob
* 2 medium carrots, peeled, coarsely grated
* 1 medium red bell pepper, stemmed, cored, cut into thin strips
* 6 medium green onions, thinly sliced
* 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
* 2 large jalapenos, minced

Whisk orange juice concentrate, vinegar, lime zest and juice, and canola oil in small bowl. Season with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD Dressing can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.

Combine slaw mix, corn kernels, carrots, red bell pepper strips, sliced green onions, chopped cilantro, and jalapenos in large bowl. Toss with enough dressing to coat. Season slaw to taste with salt and pepper. Let stand 15 minutes for flavors to blend. Toss again and serve.