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Archive for the ‘Salads’ Category

Grilling out is a sign of independence. Humans. Fire. Meat. Electricity optional. Maybe that’s why it’s so popular to have a cookout on the 4th of July. Maybe it’s because this style of cooking was very popular during the early years of the USA, as it’s easy to feed a large crowd. Whatever the reason, it’s a great idea. And since I’m still in the honeymoon period with my Big Green Egg, I’ve been giving it a workout this holiday weekend.

Today’s meal was the epitome of simplicity and was heavenly delicious. I formed burger patties (no filling or binder) out of some dry aged beef I picked up from my local farmer last month and used the rub from Sarah Fragoso’s Everyday Paleo
(a great cookbook and her website is also great, btw). I cut some red onions, rubbed them with olive oil and salt and pepper and skewered them on metal skewers (no more charred wooden skewers for me). Finally, I made a simple tomato salad (recipe below).

Everyday Paleo burger, KKF tomato salad, grilled red onions and a few of Bubbie's pickles for good measure!

The burgers were unbelievably delicious and moist. I’m going to do them this way from now on, whether it’s with Sarah’s rub or with another seasoning. I always thought hamburger mix had to have egg and/or breadcrumbs…forget about it. Oil your gril (I used spray coconut oil), rub on your rub and slap them on the grill. I cranked up the Egg to about 650, put on the burgers and closed the lid. After two minutes, I opened, flipped, closed and left it another two minutes. Burgers were perfect. Oh, and I was doing all this in a FRIGGIN RAIN STORM. Yes, about three minutes before my grill got to temperature it started pouring.

Luckily the Egg works just fine in the rain. Test subject Bill was an excellent umbrella holder as I brought out meat and flipped and swapped. I think the struggle made my rain burgers taste even better.

KKF Too Easy Tomato Salad

1 pint farmer’s market fresh cherry tomatoes, halved

1/2 small red onion, chopped

small bunch fresh basil, cut into thin strips

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

Mix everything together and let it marinate at room temperature while you’re preparing the rest of your meal. Deee-licious.

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Happy Salad

Just in time for your holiday weekend (if you’re in the US) a quick and delicious salad to accompany your burgers, steaks, etc. This is a great way to use leftover roast chicken and/or another use for that package of bacon you’re opening for bacon cheeseburgers this weekend. If your spouse permits, adding shallots, onions, or green onions would probably be a tasty addition to this salad. Everyone have a fun, safe and delicious weekend!

KKF Memorial Day Chicken Bacon Salad

4 oz cooked chicken

5 slices bacon (home made recommended)

1 avocado, cut into chunks

1/2 cup chopped fresh broccoli

6-8 lettuce leaves (romaine or other leafy lettuce – not iceberg), cut into bite-size pieces

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

1/3 cup mayonnaise (home made if you got it!)

1/2 tablespoon red wine vinegar

salt and pepper to taste

Cut your bacon up into little chunks and fry until crisp. Whisk together the mayo and the red wine vinegar to make the dressing. Combine chicken, bacon, avocado, broccoli, lettuce and garlic and pour dressing over mixture. Mix thoroughly and salt and pepper to taste.

Makes two large or four small servings.

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Viking Cooking School

Now that I’m done with school, the first thing I do is…sign up for more classes. Except this time I’m leaving finance far behind and indulging in some cooking classes offered by Whole Foods and Viking Cooking School. This past Sunday I got schooled in Moroccan cuisine!

Here’s the menu we prepared:
Orange Salad with Dates
Couscous with Beef & Vegetables
Layered Phyllo Chicken Pie
Moroccan Lamb Tagine

Presumably since it was Super Bowl Sunday there were only three students in the class. Excellent! We all got to ask as many questions as we wanted and get our hands into everything. Our instructor was Chef Lana, owner of Call Me Your Chef and you can find her blog here. I also met a fellow food blogger, Jacqueline, who was one of the students.

It was really a great time and I feel like I learned a lot. One thing we learned about was supreming oranges. I found a good YouTube video on this here. The guy in that video sounds similar to the guy from the Engineer’s Guide to Cats. Anyway, I digress…

Moroccan Orange Salad with Dates

The aromas from all the spices were UHmazing. I had to smell everything repeatedly. And despite all the great meat dishes we made, I have to say…my favorite thing we made was the salad with oranges and dates. The orange was quite dark and it reminded me of a valencia orange I recently had but Chef Lana said it was just a navel orange. Wonder where it came from…anyway,  I think it’s ok for me to post the recipe here. If not, I guess they can sue me:

Orange Salad with Dates

2 oranges, peeled and segmented
1 cup dates, chopped
2 T frehly squeezed lemon juice
2 T freshly squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup honey
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 cup sliced almonds, toasted
fresh mint sprigs

Stir everything together and enjoy! I would actually cut back on the honey a bit. I ate this as dessert, it was awesome.

Chicken phyllo pie (left) and Lamb Tagine (right)

I was really looking forward to cooking in the tagine. We used the Le Creuset Enameled Cast-Iron 2-Quart Moroccan Tagine, Cherry
that I dreamed about all night one night last week that I’ve happened to see online from time to time and it might happen to be on my wish list. In a tagine you cook…well…a tagine which is just a really thick stew-like dish. We made ours with lamb and it was delicious.

We used a number of ingredients a lot, such as saffron (which I adore) but we also used a lot of smen which is similar to clarified butter. I learned that saffron should be crushed before using. I’m kind of ashamed that I didn’t know this sooner. Anyway, now I have another use for my mortar and pestle.

Phyllo pie, side view

So…we cooked with phyllo/fillo dough. As you will recall from my tissue paper burritos, my last attempt was a failure. The good news about the chicken phyllo pie we made is that it was great. First, you should use phyllo in a recipe that actually calls for phyllo. Second, we smeared the smen in between each layer which kept it from caking together and becoming concrete. The pie was a lot of work even split between all of us, of course we did learn that it’s generally a special occasion dish. I can see why.

At the end of the evening, I’d tried four great new dishes, learned some new skills and made three new friends. What more can you ask for from a simple cooking class?

Beef stew and couscous

The Feast!

The best part: we don't have to clean up!

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On January 8, 2011 I graduated summa cum laude from Georgia Gwinnett College with a degree in Business Administration, Finance concentration. To celebrate the event, I catered my own graduation party last Saturday night. As much as possible, I used local and/or organic food. It was a lot of work, but at the end of it all my exhausted foodie spirit was satisfied! Various food porn photos from the event are below! Click on the pics for the larger version.

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All Choked Up

Bag o' chokes

I love to try new foods. Even better I love to try new foods that my local farmers have grown. When the Garden Lady (Diann Dirks) announced via email that she was going to have Jerusalem Artichokes (aka sunchokes) at the Rancho Alegra farmer’s market, I was intrigued. I’d never had a sunchoke. I didn’t even know what it looked like.

So I showed up at the farmer’s market on a chilly Saturday morning, got the last bags of fresh salad greens before the bitter cold moved in and killed them all off and picked myself up some sunchokes.

Cleaned up choke

They looked a lot like fresh ginger to me. Once I washed them up some more and gave them a brushing with my mushroom brush they turned from golden to a more subdued peach color. (Still looked like ginger, though.)

Since I’d never eaten one, much less prepared one, I was grateful to The Garden Lady for an informational handout including several recipes. I decided to make the Jerusalem Artichoke Soup, a pureed soup which would go well with my greens:

1 onion

1 carrot

2-3 cloves garlic

1 celery stalk

1 1/2 pounds jerusalem artichokes, scrubbed and chopped

1 cup milk

salt and lots of pepper

Pretty much, you chop and saute the veggies for a while, add water and boil for about 15 minutes, put everything in a food processor and puree. Then you add the milk and heat it back up until warm. Season to taste. I ended up adding some thyme because it seemed bland to me, but after I added some more pepper it really started popping. I don’t even think I needed the thyme. It was mellow and soothing. Even test subject Bill had positive comments, which was a suprise.

Sunchoke soup n salad

I served the soup with a salad made from those great greens from Stokes Family Farm with the few fresh radishes I had left from my last CSA delivery for the year. (As an aside, there were a few broccoli leaves and snips of broccoli in with the greens. I will never throw away broccoli leaves again. Please add them to your salads – yum!)

Sunchokes are rich in potassium, iron, thiamine, Vitamin C and fiber. Good stuff. But like lots of good stuff…um…gas. The first time I ate the soup I had no problems. However, the second time (and granted I did eat a lot of it) I could have tooted Jingle Bells. So I would say it’s a great thing in moderation! Don’t eat two big bowls of it unless you’re going to be alone for the rest of the day.

I bought some more sunchokes this past Saturday. I’m contemplating the sunchoke gratin…mmm, cheese 🙂

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Last week I had a produce panic attack.

There are loads of goodness coming in from the local farms, and I think half of it ended up in my kitchen. Between my CSA box and my inability to stay away from the Suwanee farmer’s market on Saturday mornings, my fridge and counter tops were bursting with produce. It was time to freak out.

What do I do with all this bounty??

So I got to work. I froze a ton of green beans and some raspberries (I can get a few raspberries down here and they are great, but they are just not the powerhouses like the ones I got back on the farm in Iowa). I felt better after that, but still…all that squash…

Zucchini bread and squash muffins

Zucchini bread and squash muffins

So I got to work making squash muffins courtesy of a recipe from my CSA newsletter. Sounds weird, but they really do taste good. (Especially with butter and a little honey!) I made two dozen of those, put some in the freezer and some in bags to give to friends. Then I made a loaf of zucchini bread from my How to Cook Everything book. I’ll have to tell you how that tastes later because it’s in my freezer right now, which is just about to explode.

Last night I made a tomato and cucumber salad with Vidalia onions, with just a little salt and pepper, fresh parsley and a drizzle

Tomato and cucumber salad

Tomato and cucumber salad

of olive oil. Super yum.

I also found a recipe for squash fritters so I thought I would give that a try for a little appetizer. You grate the squash, strain and squeeze out the moisture, then combine with flour (recipe calls for almond flour but I had none, so I used arrowroot flour…anyone know if that makes a big difference?), seasonings, and egg. They ended up looking grate and tasting good (test subject Bill had four or five of them) but they were a bit soggy. I think I wasn’t aggressive enough in

Squash Fritters

Squash Fritters

squeezing out the liquid. Next time those squash won’t know what hit them. They were fun to make, though, and it was actually my first time using coconut oil. Tasty stuff!

For a main course I made a beef and eggplant stir fry with red bell pepper, green bell pepper, misc hot peppers and those light green not-hot peppers that grow around here that I have no idea what they’re called. For the seasoning, I coated the beef strips in this Chinese 10-spice I got at the farmer’s market, then made a

Scratch and sniff

Scratch and sniff

sauce with a little water and cornstarch to thicken it up. The beef was a sirloin steak from Nature’s Harmony Farm. I used the leftover coconut oil from the fritters to do the frying.

It was SO GOOD. The beef was tender, the veggies were slightly crunchy, the sauce was phenomenal. Truely, I wish this was a scratch and sniff blog with a taster option because I can’t even explain how great this smelled and tasted. And all I really did was throw stuff together. A smart cook uses good ingredients so they don’t have to work as hard 🙂 Test subject Bill went back for seconds.

Wheaties, hit the road.

Wheaties, hit the road.

When I woke up this morning there was still work left to do on the produce barrel. I stirred some of the sweet and hot peppers into my morning eggs, tossed in some chopped tomato and topped it with a dallop of sour cream for a southwestern southeastern egg dish. I cut up a baby cantelopue (those things are so darn cute) and used the raspberries I didn’t freeze to make a dessert for my breakfast. (Who says breakfast can’t have dessert?) Add some toast made from Ezekiel bread from the farmer’s market, a cup of tea and a glass of real milk and that’s what I call the breakfast of champions. Wheaties is for chumps.

My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard.

My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard.

Finally, and this has nothing to do with produce, but after all that effort I needed a sweet treat. A couple eons ago I had this Care Bear cookbook. It was filled with ridiculously sweet treats for kids to make, but the one thing I made over and over again was the Nutty Shake. It has been probably 20 years since I made one. I was due.

I used some of my homemade vanilla ice cream, some organic peanut butter, milk and replaced the white sugar that the original recipe called for with honey and let it rip in the blender. I think I used a tad too much milk because it didn’t come out as thick as I wanted, but it didn’t matter. I sucked it down and was grateful.

I know this all sounds like a ton of work, but I am so relaxed right now. We ate well and there’s more in the freezer for later. There’s just something about real food that makes me smile.

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Georgia Harvest

I’ve been going hog wild this summer, between the farmer’s market and my CSAs, I am completely out of control. Test subject Bill agrees, but he’s not complaining too much 🙂

Lettuce, melon, blueberries, tomatoes, sweet corn, cucumbers...mmmm

Lettuce, melon, blueberries, tomatoes, sweet corn, cucumbers...mmmm

Here’s an example of some of the fine produce I’ve pulled in recently. It’s hard work opening my CSA box and getting to the farmer’s market early enough to hog all the good stuff for myself, but it’s worth it. (This past Saturday I was there at the crack of dawn because I heard a vendor was going to have raspberries. DUDE. I was there before they were.)

And from this fine haul I had an exceptional dinner – a BLT (using my own homemade bacon from pastured Georgia hogs, tomatoes and lettuce from my CSA), sweet corn from the farmers market (got

You can't see the bacon too well in the BLT, but trust me. It's in there. Hehe.

You can't see the bacon too well in the BLT, but trust me. It's in there. Hehe.

some in the CSA box too but that got blanched and frozen), a little salad and cantaloupe and blueberries for dessert. I just have to say…that CSA canteloupe was the bomb diggity. Usually I’m kind of meh when it comes to this particular melon, but this was so fresh and sweet I ate every last morsel. It was better than dessert.

And it’s only the beginning of August now. It’s not over yet. I love living in Georgia.

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