Nicoise Salad

nicoise salad

I’m not a salad kind of guy (way to start off a salad post). I’m more of a bacon, mayo, sunny eggs, rare steaks and anchovies kinda guy but it’s spring time, basically salad season. I don’t hate them either, I just don’t think they’re as exciting to prep as so many other things but they happen to be fun and quick and deliver lots of flavour and satisfaction. Nicoise Salad is no exception. It contains 2 of the main building blocks of my food addiction. Two important ones too.  

Nicoise Salad

If it has eggs, there’s potential. If it also contains anchovies then done deal.  That’s how I feel about this salad and a few other things in life. Now if f I actually had it my way (which I totally could, there’s a jar in the fridge) I’d smother this damn thing in mayo. But not tonight. Tonight I’ll stick to the standard presentation. At least the one I know. The one I grew up with I guess.  

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Super Easy Beets, Eggs, Corn and Cole Slaw Salad

After a well deserved 2 week vacation, some budget cooking was in order. I love budget cooking, batch cooking, storing, freezing, pickling, canning, etc. I remember years ago when I first started blogging about food, budget cooking was the reason for ever getting into this cooking world. I didn’t post as much then, actually, I kept my blog private for many months while I cooked away soups and roasted whole chickens, cured bacon, etc, in a effort to replace the expensive lunch/dinner breaks at work.

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I ate at my desk my home cooked meals and it paid off I wanna think. I managed to offset my spending quite a bit actually. What I didn’t expect happening was what probably many of you have experienced…. falling hard into this cooking obsession thing. All the money I saved with budget cooking I spent on kitchen gadgets and cook books later, not to mention the photography gear I’ve piled up over the last few years. I really want to think I broke even in the end which is probably not true, but if I didn’t, this new wave of batch cooking should definitely help 🙂 I’ll be posting a couple of budget soup recipes after today’s recipe.

Cole Slaw salads are awesome. KFC ones? come on! that’s memorable stuff. Making them at home is the easiest thing in the world, the easiest and they turn out better than any KFC joint will ever offer. We’re talking about 10 minutes in the making and done and it costs less than 3 dollars per serving. A total of 4-6 servings, that’s not bad. Not bad at all. It’s doesn’t provide enough calories to qualify as a full meal, but it definitely makes a kickass side dish or in my case, a quick breakfast before I go to work, specially when paired with some amazing store bought orange juice! how crazy is that. Too crazy, I know.

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Ingredients: (4-6 servings)

6 whole eggs.
4-6 beets.
2 corncobs? (I’ve no idea if this is the correct term)
1 bag of cole slaw mix or….
1/2 green cabbage.
1/2 purple cabbage.
1 carrot.
Mayo and kosher salt to taste! Add pepper and dill for extra bonus points.

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The beets. Boil in water for about 15 mins or until soft or if you have time, roast in the oven wrapped in foil for about 30 mins at 350F. Once cooked, peel the skins off with the help of a paring knife. Dice and reserve.

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The eggs. Hopefully they’re at room temperature when you boil them but if not, add about a minute and a half extra boiling time. Boil in water for 7 mins. Chuck in cold water and remove the shells. Dice. Reserve.

The corncobs? This can go 2 ways. You can cook the corncob whole or you can cut off the kernels and cook those instead, up to you. I cut them off and then cooked them in a small pan with some water just enough to allow for some steam, covered with a lid for about 5 mins. Corn kernels cook really fast.

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Cole Slaw. If you didn’t get the store bought stuff then shred the cabbages and the carrot. I would use a mandolin and a peeler here. Mix it all. Reserve.

Putting it all together. Bring all the components into a bowl and add enough mayo to your liking. I like tons of mayo. Sprinkling some salt and mix using whatever utensil you deem worthy. I’d use my hands but I’m taking photos as I go so I used my stainless steel tongs. A wooden spoon performs wonderfully. here

Extra bonus points.  This recipe so far is extremely simple. I suggest going a little crazier and adding some freshly ground pepper and dill. Super crazy. And if you’re feeling adventurous, add some salted anchovies….whaaat? yeah! I love them and I’m not gonna apologize. They rule my world. See yah soon!

 

 

 

 

The Things We Cook : Pineapple and Cucumber Salad

 

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The Things We Cook. This is the title of the book I’m writing about today on my blog. The things We Cook is a beautiful book about food, about life in the kitchen, family and friends, it’s about cooking with the freshest ingredients, it’s all about farm to table, sustainability and it’s also about the experience of being a farmer. Green Hope Farm. A family owned farm in the state of New Hampshire. In its kitchen, Molly Sheehan, the cook, the author and the farm owner, has concocted countless recipes and this book is a compilation of all that hard work and a recount of the wonderful memories . 

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I met Sarah Porter on Instagram. She is a member of the TheThingsWeCook team and the one that suggested if I’d be interested in writing about the book on my blog and take a few photos to go with the post. A few emails later and after having read a portion of the book I was hooked and wanted to put together a small photo essay and feature it here. We both got pretty excited, and here we are. It’s funny how it works sometimes.

But back to the main story now. New Hampshire offers some of the best farming grounds in the country (I googled it, I’ll admit it)  I don’t know much about farming, actually I know nothing about farming but I’m pretty sure that without the hard work and dedication of the people, a farm just couldn’t be successful. This love a dedication to farming and cooking shows transparently on the pages of this beautiful book. The book is entirely handwritten and beautifully hand illustrated by Alli Howe. It’s definitely one of a kind.

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The recipe I chose it’s simple and beautiful in its simplicity. A sweet and refreshing summer salad featuring cucumber and pineapple. Simple. Good ingredients require little preparation, little manipulation and that’s the case for many other recipes in the book. I love it. Finding good ingredients where I currently live is actually relatively easy. Although I don’t live on a farm …  I daydream about this everyday… I’m really lucky to be able to find fresh organically grown produce where in many markets around the city, and the local butchers and fishmongers in the area are simply great. I’m referring to Vancouver by the way.

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Pineapple and Cucumber Salad. It would have never crossed my mind to put the 2 together. It works great and I will be trying a few thing in the future using this pairing… pork comes to mind!,  so thanks Molly! Below I have added the original page form the book with the recipe to give you an idea of the style and presentation.

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Thanks Sarah, Molly and Alli for sharing your book and your ideas with me and with that other cooking blog as well.  Sleep tight people!  Good night and have a wonderful weekend!

 

 

 

Chicken and Potato Salad : Tomatoes : Pickles and Carrots : Chinese Cabbage

 

 

 

First salad of the summer! I’m still busy working on that photo and food styling post but figured I’d take a break (not really) and get some cooking done and blogged. On the photo and styling post I want to go over some basic lighting and composition, and also some color stuff and photo editing. I also want to cover my photography gear but more of that later. With summer officially kicked off on this hemisphere and the women’s soccer world cup taking over every bar and restaurant in the city, I thought a healthy and colourful salad, the brunchy type, would be the perfect thing to make.

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I did a couple of things here that I would normally not do. I cooked the eggs, the chicken and the potatoes sous vide. The chicken was leftover from dinner the night before and the motivation for making this salad really. I also shot it overexposed on purpose. I like that kind of lighting for a crisp and sunny morning, the bloody mary type of morning. Anyways, this is a super simple salad to make, and the sous vide step is not a requirement,  the ingredient list is super flexible too so use it as a reference or not. Ok, here we go:

Ingredients (serves 2):

4 chinese cabbage leafs or any crunchy lettuce

4 eggs, hard boiled

6-8 fingerling potatoes

1 medium carrot, julienned

6 pickle slices

2 Tbsp Mayo (see how to make your own here!)

2 chicken breasts, no bone.

Salt and Pepper to taste.

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The chicken. Salt it generously and let it rest for about 20 mins or less salt but let it cure overnight in the fridge. To cook it, easy, you can poach it, grill it, sauté it. As long as the inner temperature reaches 62C degrees, you should be good. If you are cooking it sous vide. 40 mins at 62C should get you there. Allow the chicken to come to room temperature or colder. I like it cold from the fridge. Cut it into slices.

The eggs. Hard boil them. If they’re at room temperature. Boil in water for 7 mins. If they’re cold from the fridge, then allow a bit longer more like 10. You’d end with a better finish if the egg is at room temperature. If cooking sous vide… we can spend an entire day talking about this here but since I simply wanted a hard boiled egg, I cooked them with the potatoes in the same bath. 90C for 10 mins. Under cold running water, remove the shells. Reserve in the fridge until cold. Slice them into wedges.

The potatoes. Cooking in simmering water until tender. About 30 mins. I leave the skins on and I don’t slice the potatoes either. If cooking sous vide, then 90C for 45 mins. Reserve in the fridge until cold. Then slice them into wedges.

Mixing the salad. In a big bowl, add the pickle slices, the tomato wedges, the potato wedges, the julienned carrot. Add the mayo and season with salt and pepper to your liking. Using your hands, mix carefully and set aside.

For plating. Place the extra pickle slices and whole cabbage leaves on your plate. Again, using your hands, carefully scoop a serving of salad and  place it in the centre each dish. I added the eggs last, but obviously that can be incorporated into the mixing step as well. Happy Sunday!

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Ribeye Steak Autumn Vegetable Salad : Beets, Brussel Sprouts, Green Beans and Pearl Onions

Pearl onions are more of a summer treat, but I love them and I thought they’d go well with this dish. Brussels sprouts are beautiful and iconic around this time of the year and so are golden beets, they are simply delicious and beautiful, they are a little more delicate in flavor than their red counterparts. And who doesn’t love green beans. They can deliver a lot of flavor when cooked right… and that means, when cooked simply in my opinion. Actually, vegetables in general require manipulation to deliver what they have to offer. And when it comes to vegetables, I prefer to cook them quickly, little seasoning, maybe some salt, butter, maybe some vinegar and olive oil. Vegetables are gentle and overcook easily. Treat them with respect and a bit of crunch is always preferable to a mushy texture.

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This simple salad is so easy to make and super fun to eat. Takes about an hour to get everything ready if you’re cooking without help. You can roast the beets in advance, but I’d recommend roasting them right before you assemble the dish. Nice and light, this salad is a wonderful offset to the highly caloric diet we all indulge in around this time of the year 🙂 Here’s how to make it!: 

Ingredients (serves 2):

12 pearl onions.
12 brussels sprouts.
12 green beans
2 golden beets
1 lb ribeye steak
Some parsley olive oil vinagrete (see below)
Salt and Pepper to taste
Butter as needed… sorry, I don’t measure this, sue me.

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For the beets. Cut off the green stalks with a knife, discard. Wrap the beets in tin foil tightly. I didn’t even bother to season them or add olive oil. They really need no help. Place them in a oven at 400F for about 40 minutes. Pierce the pouches with a skewer to feel how tender they are. If tender, remove from the oven and let alone until they are cooler so you can handle them, about 10 minutes. Remove the tin foil, remove the skin with your fingers, it should just peel off. Dice to your liking and set aside.

The pearl onions. Peel them by cutting off the root end, halving them and then with your fingers remove the outer dry peel layer. Add some butter to a non stick skillet on medium low heat. Melt. Place the onions flat face down first. Brown for a few minutes. Then toss around and get a little more browning. They should sort of fall apart in the skillet, don’t worry, it’s not rocket science and exactness isn’t what we’re after here. Once nice with hints of golden browning, remove from the heat. Place on a bowl.

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To prepare the Brussels sprouts. Select a few that are nice and vibrantly green. Remove the few greener leaves, about 3 per sprout and reserve them. Cut the sprouts in half and reserve.

To prepare the green beans. Cut them in any shape you prefer. I cut them into 1 inch pieces. Remove the tough stem bit.

To blanch the green beans and brussels sprouts leaves. Ready a pot full of water (add a good pinch or two of salt, the water should be pleasently salty ) over high heat, and bring to a boil. While the water is heating up, prepare an ice bath. A bowl with water and ice, that’s all it is. Once the water is boiling, add the green beans and the brussels sprout leaves. Boil for a couple of minutes. The green color will intensify (I love this part). Fish out a piece of the green beans and taste. They should be a bit crunchy but cooked, and slightly seasoned, but their flavor should prevail. With a slotted spoon or a small strainer, transfer the beans and sprout leaves into the ice water bath. The color will be set and they can be transfer to a bowl until needed for the next step. I leave them in the ice bath. No rush.

To braise the brussels sprouts. Similarly to what was done to the onions. Place some butter on a non stick pan. Melt over medium heat. Place the sprout halves flat face down over the bottom of the pan. Allow to caramelize. This will take about 3-4 minutes. Now, this is my favorite part. Add enough water to the pan to come up half way the height of the sprout halves, yes.. its just a little water. You can add a pinch of salt, and bring to a simmer. Reduce the water until only a glaze is left at the bottom of the pan. Remove from the heat. The sprouts should be cooked throughly, and beautifully glazed in their own caramelized butter sauce.

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To dress the green beans and brussels sprout leaves. Add a little butter to a pan over medium low heat. Add a little bit of champagne vinegar. A few drops should be enough. Add a pinch of salt. Add the green beans and sprout leaves. Toss about for a bit, until everything is glazed and warm. We’re not cooking them here, just dressing them and warming them up so they can go on the final dish. I add the onions to the pan as well, to heat them up.

To sear the steak. Ok, this steak wasn’t as thick as I would have liked. Cooking thin steaks is tricky. They overcook really easily, and I have to admit, mine overcooked a bit closer to medium and not medium rare which is where I would have liked it. But for a steak salad, this is probably ok (here’s me trying to find an excuse) anyways, aside from the technicalities.. Season the steak with plenty of salt at least 20 minutes before searing, trust me. Heat up some clarified butter or a good high smoke point oil, like vegetable oil or grape seed oil. On high heat, when the oil is shimmering… pat the meat with a paper towel, and add the steak carefully on the pan. It is going to splatter. Don’t worry, that’s just how it goes. Use tongs if you aren’t used to using your hands. Let sear for about 2-3 minutes on one side.  Turn over, sear for about 1 minute. Turn off the heat. Let the steak sear for another minute and remove from the pan.  Place on a cutting board and allow to rest for 10 minutes. This is crucial unless you want steak blood all over your dish… which is not a bad thing really. I love that stuff, but for presentation purposes I decided to serve a less messy steak.

To make the parsley vinagrete. Simply select some nice and green parsley leaves, about 15-20, place them in a blender. Add about a half a cup of extra virgin oil. I added a bit of Pedro Ximenez vinegar and a little tiny bit of dijon mustard, along with a pinch of kosher salt. Blend for a few minutes, transfer to a squeeze bottle.

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When you’re ready to plate. As you by now have noticed. Yes, although a simple dish, to get every component onto the plate warm, takes some logistics and only practice in the kitchen can help that. Warming the plates in the oven prior to serving helps a lot. Something I didn’t do, but I can totally see the benefit of doing . A little planning ahead helps. Have your components ready and warm. Sprinkle them over the plate leaving space in the center of the plate to place the steak. Slice the steak against the grain. Place the steak slices over a bed of golden beet round. Dress with some parley oil. Eat immediately. Seriously.  Enjoy!

Octopus Galician Style : Pulpo a la Gallega : The Tenderness of a Stubborn Cephalopod

Octopus Galician Style : Pulpo a la Gallega

Another change of plans. Muffins were on the list last night. Why? Because I love baking and my blogger friend Phuong from My Kitchen of Love added this great post on savory muffins which I found inspiring. I have never baked muffins in my life so I figured these would be a great first but the weather is still incredibly hot in Los Angeles, nearing 80F even at night. Just firing the stove raises the temperature enough to put my stubbornness to test. I broke. I will get back to these awesome savory muffins! They shall be baked in a few months!

Octopus Galician Style : Pulpo a la Gallega

Octopus Galician Style : Pulpo a la Gallega

Let’s talk about Pulpo a la Gallega. This is one of those dishes that although surprisingly simple, just 4 ingredients, can blow your mind. This galician dish is extremely popular everywhere in Spain, and I’ve had it there almost every time I’ve gone to visit. Its popularity has found its way to other countries, and reached this town of LA. I’ve spotted it at a really nice spanish tapas place in Santa Monica, the name: Bar Pntixo. I love that place.  The staff is amazing and the food is really delicious and authentic. 

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Spinach-Radish-Hearts of Palm-Avocado Salad with Lime Vinaigrette

Spinach-Radish-Hearts of Palm-Avocado Salad with Lime Vinaigrette

I’m definitely not a salad person, eating them at restaurants has exposed  me to  3 things which don’t help my aversion, you can get them smothered in cheese (usually parmesan, gorgonzola or feta), smothered in weird and bland or extremely rich dressings, or perhaps get neither, the most boring pile of green anyone has seen. I’m talking about salads found at some of the usual places people go to for lunch breaks. End of rant.

Anyways, yeah, so not so much into salads… although not entirely true, I love the russian potato salad my grandma used to make and my mom still makes during christmas time and seafood salads are the best. Lately, work life has taken over everything and overtime catered food sucks, so I’ve been craving simpler food, light and fresh, tasty and clean. Anyways, here’s a quick recipe for a spinach salad, I’m sure there are tons of recipes like this, nothing here will make cuisine history, but I just grabbed a few things at the store and made this about 10 minutes and really loved it so documented it:

Gear:

Cutting board
Knife of course
Can opener
Mixing bowl

Spinach-Radish-Hearts of Palm-Avocado Salad

Ingredients:
(serves 1 or 2 people of similar normal eating capacity)
(use the force to come up with quantities if you want precision)

Some radishes, crispy firm and spicy
2-3 fists full of Spinach
A few hearts of palms canned
Half an avocado, sliced a few times, sprayed with lime.
Some parmesan shavings
A pinch or two of maldon salt
Some lime juice
Some extra virgin olive oil to dress greens
A few bacon crispy bits

Spinach-Radish-Hearts of Palm-Avocado Salad

Method:

01: slice radishes in rounds about 1/4 inch thick.
02: slice hearts in 1/2 inch batons, or whatever size you prefer.
03: Mix using hands: spinach with some olive oil, salt and lime juice.
04: you can add some parmesan shavings as well and keep mixing.
05: add the hearts, and the radishes to the bowl and mix as well.
06: Add the avocado slices.
07: Add bacon bits.
08: plate, drizzle some olive oil over it. Add parmesan shavings.
09: Add some salt.

done.