Simple Caesar Dressing

 

 

Spring has finally sprung in Vermont!

Spring has finally sprung in Vermont!

I’m back! Did you miss your Wednesday dose of Vermont recipes? In the last two weeks I’ve traveled to two states with my best friends and let someone else do the cooking for a change. It was a treat to not have to think about what was for dinner and having to do clean-up duty, but I admit it is nice to be back home in the comfort of my kitchen. The first night back, guess what was on the menu? My comfort standby, roast chicken, my favorite melted green beans, and Caesar salad.

I admit I am a Caesar salad snob. If it is on a menu in a restaurant, I will almost always try it—and am almost always disappointed. For me, Caesar salad dressing needs to be a perfect combination of lemon, fish, and cheese and I find most are not that way. But now I’ve found a perfect recipe that I can make at home that fits my criteria!

Remember around the end of March when I gave you this recipe for Brussels sprouts that used a little bit of fish sauce? If you bought a bottle at that time and wonder what else you can make with it, don’t worry, you’ll be making this recipe once a week from now on! I admit it is a bit more tedious than I like in the kitchen with all the measuring, but in the end it is well worth it! I’ve used it as dressing for other salads and it’s just a good!

I’m not one for croutons on my salad, although I do love the crunch. I’ve been known to add some radishes, but just some fresh romaine lettuce, dressing, topped with a little bit more black pepper and grated cheese, and I’m in heaven!

caesar dressing
Simple Caesar Dressing

This recipe originally appeared in the April 2015 issue of Cooking Light.

2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 Tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
1 ½ teaspoons fish sauce
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1 crushed garlic clove
1 large pasteurized egg yolk

1. Combine the ingredients in a mini food processor; pulse until combined.

2. With the processor running, slowly pour 3 Tablespoons canola oil, 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, and 2 Tablespoons water into egg yolk mixture. Process until just blended and smooth.

MVK’s Endorsement of the Week: Inedible Food Jewelry!

pancakesAren’t these the cutest earrings ever? I friend pointed me in the direction of an Etsy site, where you can buy earrings and necklaces with all things food! Doughnuts, pizza, cookies, pies, pickles, olives, fruits and veggies, it’s all here! Even an everything bagel and a Chicago hot dog! It will take me forever to choose, they are all wonderful!

You can check all the offerings by clicking here.

Roasted Salmon with Dill, Capers, and Horseradish

Buying fish is so hard these days; you’re bombarded with talk in the news of mercury, farm raised versus wild, frozen versus fresh, I usually leave the fish counter confused and not buying anything. But sometimes I get a craving for salmon. I love it and it’s good for you, lots of Omega 3s. So I’ll throw out all the talk and get a nice piece of fish for dinner.

If you are looking for something to make for a special springtime meal, this is it. ­And it’s perfect for a dinner party, because you do all the prep the day before—or in my case, the morning before. Dinner was going to be late, so I prepped the salmon while my coffee was brewing thus it had a solid ten-plus hours in the fridge. The homemade crème fraîche was easy to mix up the night before, add the dill in the morning, and refrigerate all day.

I think I’ve seen fresh horseradish in the produce section, but I decided to cheat and use jarred horseradish sauce that was minimally processed. And my piece of salmon was just over a pound and I made it for two, so I have sauce left over for another meal. I served this for Easter dinner with last week’s springtime salad and potato salad. Delicious!

salmon
Roasted Salmon with Dill, Capers, and Horseradish
This recipe originally appeared in the April 2015 issue of Cooking Light magazine.

We couldn’t get over how delicious and silky-rich this salmon is, or how foolproof the recipe is. Don’t be thrown off by the total time it requires: Think of it instead as a great make-ahead dish, where all you have to do the night of the gathering is pop the fish in the oven for a short time. What you’re doing in step 1 is making homemade crème fraîche. It’s easy to do; it just takes some time. We love the creamy texture and luscious tang of homemade, but you can substitute purchased crème fraîche or full-fat sour cream. Look for a 3-pound side of salmon with even thickness. Avoid the thin tail end and buy two thicker (1 1/2-pound) pieces if you need to. The dill sauce will keep in the fridge for up to one week.

Yield: Serves 8 (serving size: about 4 ounces salmon and about 2 teaspoons sauce)

1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 teaspoons buttermilk
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1 1/8 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1 1/8 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, divided
1/4 cup finely grated fresh horseradish
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
3 tablespoons capers, drained and chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil 1 (3-pound) salmon fillet

1. Combine cream, buttermilk, and vinegar in a small bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and let stand at room temperature for 8 hours. Stir in dill, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

2. Meanwhile, combine remaining 1 teaspoon salt, remaining 1 teaspoon pepper, horseradish, and next 4 ingredients (through oil) in a small bowl. Spread horseradish mixture evenly over salmon. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

3. Preheat oven to 450°.

4. Place fish, skin side down, on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake at 450° for 13 minutes. Remove from oven.

5. Preheat broiler to high.

6. Broil fish 5 minutes or until desired degree of doneness. Cut fish into 8 equal portions; top fish with dill sauce.

MVK’s Endorsement of the Week: Speaking of Salmon…

salmon nytCookbook author and New York Times contributor, Melissa Clark, is one of my favorite food writers. Her two cookbooks, Cook This Now and In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite are fantastic if you’re ever in need of a new cookbook. Similar to Mark Bittman, she can make a simple dish seem elegant. I came across this video for Salmon with Anchovy Butter the other day. It looks so good! Another salmon recipe to try!  

Forcing the Season: Quinoa and Vegetable Salad

I’m not sure what it’s been like in your neck of the woods weather-wise, but here in Vermont it was an exceptionally chilly March. Temps this past weekend were more like the middle of the month more than the end of the month. Teens during the day, below zero at night, the only saving grace is it has been really sunny during the day. Wanting to shed my usual winter fare of heavy chilis, soups, and dinners, I decided to create a springtime salad dish one evening in an effort to force the season. And when I heard the forecast of a winter storm approaching, I decided there was no time like the present!

Cucumbers, tomatoes, and chick peas are my usual fare for grain salads, but I thought I would put a tabbouleh slant to things by adding some sad-looking parsley in the vegetable bin, plus some chives. Chives are my favorite alliums, and since my own chives are hidden under a pile of snow, it will be a few weeks before I can snip some. The parsley is optional; if you don’t have it on hand, leaving it out won’t ruin the recipe. Fresh mint would be delightful substitute, but only if you have it on hand.

I decided to buy red quinoa instead of the “regular” (what color would you call that, beige?) and either can be used in this recipe. I like it when I cook it in chicken broth, as it adds a lot of flavor, but since I didn’t have any on hand, I used water.

Perhaps the recipe worked; the winter storm that was to arrive ended up being just rain and the snow is slowly melting. I’ve heard the chirp of the red-winged blackbird and I can see grass outside my window—it’s not yet green, but it will be very soon!

quinoa salad

Quinoa and Vegetable Salad
Try your own version with different salad vegetables. Cooked chicken could be a wonderful substitute for the chickpeas—or an addition! For a little extra zing, top with some more fresh lemon!

2 cups of water
1 cup of quinoa
1 cucumber, peeled, sliced horizontal, seeded and chopped into half moons
1 cup grape tomatoes, sliced in half
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
¼ cup parsley, chopped (optional)
The juice from one lemon (or more)
¼ cup chopped chives
¼ cup feta cheese
Salt and pepper

1. In a saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Add the quinoa and reduce heat. Cook until the quinoa is done cooking (30 minutes, give or take) and all the liquid is dissolved. Let it cool.

2. Add the cooled quinoa to a mixing bowl, add the cucumbers, tomatoes, chickpeas, and parsley, if using. Mix well. Add the lemon juice, chives, and feta. Top with additional lemon juice if desired. Serve over a bed of lettuce or on its own!

Eat Even More Kale! Kale Salad

It doesn't get more beautiful than this at dusk these days.

It doesn’t get more beautiful than this at dusk these days.

So I’ve brought you a couple of kale recipes through the years, sautéed kale and kale chips. This is the latest recipe that I’ve been making almost nightly for supper, Kale Salad. When the eater of the house wants more than one helping of salad, or make that kale in general, you just know it’s good!

A couple of weeks ago after a long walk with friends, I was asked if we wanted some kale from her garden. Never one to say no to fresh veggies, I accepted a large bag, even though I had just bought a bunch at the coop the day before. While I figured I’d make a big batch of kale chips, I remembered a salad recipe that I make every fall.

Kale is a hardy enough vegetable that it can withstand the first few frosts here in Vermont, and I’ve always found it to be sweeter in the fall than it is in the summertime. Which is why it makes for a delicious salad.

Because kale is tougher and less delicate than normal salad greens, the first step to take is to do something to make it a bit softer and a little more palatable to taste, which means massaging it with a little bit of olive oil. Many recipes I’ve seen have you massaging the kale for several minutes; I don’t think that’s necessary, one minute or so is fine unless your kale is extremely dry And while I feel silly literally giving my salad greens a massage (when I’m the one who needs it!), I tell myself I’m moisturizing my hands and fingernails!

This recipe is loosely based on one I used many years ago from a Food Network show. Gone is the original, but this is my rendition.

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Autumn Kale Salad
Apologies, I didn’t give you this recipe last Wednesday, because I found out October 2nd was National Kale Day

4-5 stems of kale, removed from the stem, rinsed, and torn into bite-sized pieces
Olive oil
Almonds
Raisins
Salt

Salad dressing
The juice of half a lemon and honey. Depending on how old your lemons are will depend on how much juice it makes. Add the honey one teaspoon at a time to get the right balance of sweet and sour.

1. In a large mixing bowl, tear the kale leaves into bite-sized pieces. Add a couple teaspoons of olive oil, and “massage” the oil into the leaves for about a minute.

2. Add some almonds cut in half horizontally, and a small handful of raisins.

3. Add a little bit of salad dressing and mix. Add salt to taste.

In the Media
One of my favorite podcasts I listen to is “America’s Test Kitchen.” A combination of recipes, advice, and food observations, the one I recently listened to included an interview with food writer, Michael Pollan. I always wonder why so many children–and even adults–have food allergies these days. I can’t walk into a room without someone having a gluten, dairy, or nut allergy these days. Pollan makes the observation that given our hyper-awareness for germs in this day in age that perhaps we humans are not exposed to the germs our parents and grandparents were, and thusly that lack of exposure has allowed our guts to not get the good bacteria we actually need. This theory made a lot of sense and is one I’d never thought of before.

You can listen to the episode here,  America’s Test Kitchen Podcast.

Week Night Dinner Series: Shrimp and Bean Salad

DSCN0419This is one of those delicious dinners that doesn’t take a lot of time to make and is what my nutritionist would call a “balanced” meal: a good protein, good fat, and good carbs.

I had been thinking for some time of creating a salad including the shrimp I had in the freezer and a can of beans I had in the cupboard. So one lazy Friday night when I didn’t feel like cooking, this came together nicely and actually fits into the “Speedy Gonzales” category of last week’s blog and the Work Night Dinner series I began in the spring!

Don’t worry if you have frozen shrimp; when I got home from work, I pulled some out and put them in a bowl of cold water and went about doing stuff around the house. When it was time to make dinner, they were defrosted. Of course, you can buy fresh or frozen cooked shrimp, and that would make it even easier and quicker! This recipe is a cut, chop, throw everything into a bowl, and stir. Dishes like these are the best because they’re so easy!

Helpful Kitchen Tip: I always buy my frozen shrimp raw, because I think the frozen, cooked shrimp can sometimes be tough, even though for convenience sake they’re great. But if you have raw shrimp, they are super simple to cook. Warm a little bit of olive oil in a skillet, add the shrimp, and any seasonings you’d like (wine, garlic, onion) or nothing at all, and let it simmer for about three minutes. When they turn pink, they are done!

This is a perfect summertime dish to share with friends, so make it soon before the coolness of fall is upon us!

Shrimp and Bean Salad
A lot of this recipe is based on how you would like the dish; if you want more beans, more shrimp, more lime juice, let your own creative dishes flow with this! My recipe is just a baseline, go crazy and add other veggies or spices to this!

2-3 cups cooked shrimp
1 can Great Northern or cannellini beans (or another white bean), drained and rinsed
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
About one cup grape tomatoes, sliced in half
About ½ avocado, diced
Some scallions, to taste
½ jalapeno pepper chopped, if desired
A little bit of cilantro, if desired
The juice of about ½ lime, or to taste

In a large mixing bowl, add the shrimp, beans, cucumber, tomatoes, avocado, scallions, pepper and cilantro, if using, and stir gently. Add the lime juice. Serve!

The Bounty is Here!

After months of waiting, August is finally here, and the veggies are at their best! Gone are the early days of June, with just a few sad-looking root vegetables sitting in the bins the farmers’ market; now it’s bursting at the seams and overflowing with everything fresh and beautiful! So prepare yourself, it’s going to be a vegetarian month!

I adore cucumbers, they always taste fresh and have virtually no calories! (I presume there are no calories in a cucumber, but I didn’t want to give false advertising!). Nothing is better to me than a fresh cucumber, thinly sliced with  just a little bit of salt.

This side salad is a mish-mosh of a couple different dishes I make: a raita I make to accompany fish and a green bean salad that my grandmother makes. It’s so good, I’ve been known to eat a big bowl of it for lunch! It’s easy and was a nice cool complement to a dinner of chicken and some sautéed Swiss chard. If you want a little heat, add a dash (or two) of cayenne or crushed red pepper. And if you don’t eat dairy, you can leave out the sour cream;  it’s just as delicious.

Helpful Kitchen Tip: 
Placing the cucumbers in a colander in the sink and sprinkling with a little salt allows much of the water to drain. This is a great suggestion for any dish that calls for cucumbers. Do this about 30 minutes before you’re ready to make your dish. I don’t rinse off the salt since I only use only a little, but I tend not to salt the dish when it’s finished.

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Cucumber Dill Salad

Using fresh dill with this recipe is the best, but if you only have dried on hand (like I had), it is still terrific. 

• 2 cucumbers, peeled, sliced in half horizontally, seeded and sliced like half moons
• ¼ cup diced onion
• 2 Tablespoons cider vinegar (if you want a little more zing, add a couple of teaspoons more)
• ¼ cup sour cream or plain yogurt
• Dill weed, as much or as little as you’d like, or none at all
• Freshly ground pepper
• Salt to taste, if needed

1. Take the seeded and cut cucumbers and place them in a colander in the sink. Sprinkle with a little bit of salt and let them sit for about 30 minutes, or until you’re ready to make the salad. Don’t rinse.

2. In a mixing bowl, add the drained cucumbers, onion, and vinegar. Stir in the sour cream or yogurt and mix well. Add as much dill weed as you’d like, and some pepper. Serve.

Week Night Dinner Series: Late-Night Supper Salad

This is an occasional series on healthy, quick-to-make, late-night dinners.

I usually get home from work anywhere from 5:30 to 6 p.m. If I go to the gym or for a walk, dinner gets started after 7 and we eat after 8. So I know all about late-night dinners. I came up with this recipe (a word I use very loosely) on a late Saturday night when we were on our way home, tired and hungry. It is so easy, and with just a few ingredients, it literally takes minutes. So quickly in fact that the eater of the house had just barely settled down with some chips and salsa to tide him over until we ate when I said dinner was ready!

This dish  has the perfect combination of what nutritionists say you need in each meal–protein, carbohydrates, and good fat–and it’s all wrapped up on one salad plate. Flavorful greens, some sweet grape tomatoes, heart-healthy olive oil, and protein from steak (or another kind of meat if you prefer). And it’s a perfect meal if you are running late and not sure what to make; you can grab the ingredients at the supermarket on the way home.

I don’t usually go for ready-made ingredients, but sometimes I splurge on crumbled cheese. It’s a great addition to the salad, I love gorgonzola, but you can substitute feta, goat, parmesan, or leave it out if you prefer. For the meat, you can broil it, grill it, or pan sear it. Vegetarians can use beans in place of the meat; I’ve done that too. You can add extra veggies if you like, and if you want some zing, add a splash or two of lemon juice or a tangy vinegar!

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Late-Night Supper Salad

1 salad bowl or plate of greens (baby spinach, spring mix, et. al)
A few grape tomatoes, halved
About 4 ounces of cooked protein (steak, chicken, fish, pork)
Extra virgin olive oil
A couple teaspoons of crumbled cheese (gorgonzola, goat, feta, parmesan, etc.) (optional)

Take a salad plate or bowl and add the greens and tomatoes. Add the meat, and top with the olive oil and cheese, if using.