Food52 Genius Recipes: “Use a Spoon” Chopped Salad

We were invited to a BBQ over the weekend and they asked us to bring a salad – for months now I’ve been wanting to try the chopped salad from Food52 Genius Recipes (the book the Cookbook Club went through in December) and I thought this would be the perfect opportunity. So off I went in search of all the ingredients and once I found them (it took me 3 different shops thanks to the scarcity at the moment of Savoy cabbage and radicchio) I set Aaron to the task of constructing this gorgeous and colorful salad.

It’s made by quick pickling some vegetables (celery and carrots and red capsicum), then once they’re ready, draining them and combining them with the remaining vegetables (cucumber, radicchio, rocket and cabbage) and apple and making a sauce from some of the leftover vinegar, olive oil and salt and pepper. Then you finish the salad with goat cheese and toasted slivered almonds.

I’m usually opposed to eating radicchio but in this salad the bitter notes balance so well with the other flavours that I actually liked it. Aaron similarly is not a huge fan of rocket but enjoyed it in this salad. It was the perfect salad for the summer night bbq and we will definitely make this again. The only warning I feel is necessary: the vinegar smell wafts through the whole house during the pickling stage. It actually made me worry that the whole salad was just going to taste like vinegar. But it didn’t and the smell passes. And now to devour the leftovers!

Made in India: Vegetarian Curries and Naan

Tonight we feasted! And I really do mean feasted. It’s been a while since I’ve had my hands on Made in India, I checked it out from our local library in October when Cookbook Club was working through it, but haven’t been able to get it back out since. Now that it’s finally come back around to me at the library, it seemed appropriate that I do a bit of cooking from it, and what better way to start than a vegetarian curry feast.

What we made:

Junjaro – this is a kidney bean curry and when I saw how simple it was to make it seemed like a no brainer, especially since my daughter loves chilli con carne, especially because of the kidney beans. But of course she wouldn’t try it…she’s contrary like that…but the rest of us really enjoyed it. You fry an onion with some cumin seed and a cinnamon stick, and some garlic, ginger, chilli and spices, tomato paste, the kidney beans (I used cans) and some water and let it get saucy.

Inda nu shaak – this is a coconut milk egg curry and it was the most complex of the 3 curries we made because we had to hard boil eggs. Yeah, it was really that hard. You fry off some onions, add garlic, tamarind paste and some spices, dilute it with coconut milk and water (I used a 400 mL tin of lite coconut milk rather than 300 mL of coconut milk and 100 mL water) and add the eggs when they’re boiled and peeled and sliced. The sauce in this one was lovely and sweet and was so nice to soak up with a piece of naan or a spoonful of rice.

Chana Masala – chickpea and tomato curry. Similarly you fry off onions, add garlic, ginger and chilli, this time a can of tomatoes and tomato paste, the spices and then the chickpeas (again from cans). This was probably my least favourite of the 3 curries, but I think that’s because it wasn’t very saucy.

Aunty Harsha’s Naan – the naan, oh my goodness, the naan. So when I got home from picking the kids up from school, I mixed the dough which is a basic bread dough in terms of ingredients, but with yogurt and milk in it, and then after it was kneaded I put it in a covered oiled container to rise until doubled. Then we just split it into 12 portions, flattened it with our hands and used our flat electric grill to cook them. I was so shocked that it actually worked and was distinctly naan bread. Aaron asked if we’re planning to make naan everyday when he found out that the prep time before cooking was only about 5 minutes.

We served everything with plain basmati rice and still have plenty of leftovers for Aaron to take to work for lunch over the next few days. I’m so glad we powered through to make this meal, because to be honest today was an exhausting one, but when you look at everything we made, the hands on time was really not that long at all. This book continues to impress me and next time I think I’d really like to try some meat curries and some of the chutneys…oh and did you know there are some really interesting sounding desserts in there, too?!!

The Food Lab: Eggs Florentine

Today’s Meatless Monday post is from my husband Aaron. Just FYI there will be a lot of Throwback recipes this month as it’s the 1 year anniversary of Food52 Cookbook Club.

There is a confession I need to make – I absolutely LOVE The Food Lab, and everything Kenji does, so I am biased. But I’m biased because his recipes (and ideas behind them) make good sense. There are a bunch of videos of his on YouTube for various things, including one that talks all about eggs. Just ask Jen. After watching said video, I spent the next hour or so telling her all about what Kenji had to say about eggs!

Eggs Florentine is basically a poached egg with cooked spinach instead of ham or smoked salmon on an English muffin covered in Hollandaise sauce. Kenji shows you how to ensure your mayonnaise or Hollandaise sauce doesn’t split. It is probably the easiest Hollandaise I’ve made (and one of, if not THE tastiest). And out of the kindness of his own heart, Kenji gives you two methods to make the sauce – one for if you have an immersion blender, and another for the rest of us with standard blenders/food processors. Basically, you blend egg yolks, lemon juice and hot water, then slowly add melted butter to the blender/food processor to mix all the ingredients, and then season with salt and cayenne (optional). So easy and so nice!  The spinach for the Florentine was cooked with garlic and seasoned with salt and pepper – nice and easy, and nice and quick…and again, very tasty.

As an aside, an awesome tip I got from Kenji on poaching eggs is, if you’re having more than a few friends over for brekky, you can poach the eggs the day before (he may have even said up to 5 days before, but I’d check that before trying it!), put them in iced water and keep them in the fridge, then on the following morning, pop them back into the simmering water for about 30 seconds and they will be right to go! Very handy instead of trying to evenly poach a dozen eggs at the same time.

I’d highly recommend The Food Lab’s Eggs Florentine for a very nice brekky, or in our case, for brinner (breakfast for dinner), as it was fairly quick, easy and VERY tasty.

Two Eggs Florentine

 

Creamy Sundried Tomato & Spinach Pasta

This is one of those recipes that I had on Pinterest for ages before I tried it, but after I did, it quickly became part of our regular vegetarian meals since the kids love it and it literally takes 10 minutes to make. Because I have to cook for a big family though, I’ve obviously had to adapt it from the original recipe in order for it to feed us all.

First, on a back burner, prepare 500 grams of wholemeal pasta according to the instructions (I use spirals because they cook in 6 minutes). While that’s happening, in a large skillet, heat up a little olive oil and brown 1 diced onion and 1 teaspoon of crushed garlic.

Then add 1 cup of chopped sundried tomatoes and 1/4 cup of tomato paste.

Add 2 tins of diced tomatoes and stir to combine.

Add 3/4 cup of light sour cream mixed with 3/4 cup of light Greek yogurt and stir to combine.

Add roughly 3 cups of baby spinach (I just guesstimate – 2 big handfuls) and season with salt & pepper.

Leave that to wilt while you drain the pasta and add it to the skillet, then stir everything together and voila! You are ready to dish up dinner.

We like to top ours with grated parmesan (and lots of red chilli flakes for the adults).

Meatless Mexican

I was so excited to see that you can now buy canned pinto beans in Woolworths that I couldn’t wait to have bean burritos for dinner. (We seriously bought 12 cans of them and also 12 cans of black beans because they were super cheap this week!) This is a meal we do quite often that I’ve adapted from several recipes to easily accomodate vegans, but you can also easily add an animal protein for the meat lovers (or if there’s a crowd to feed). But on Mondays, this is often what it looks like.

Mexican corn cake

It started with this recipe, but my method is much simpler, and instead of butter and milk, I use canola oil so vegans can enjoy it too.

Preheat your oven to 180C. Cook 1 1/2 cups frozen corn with 1/4 cup of water in the microwave for 2 minutes. While this is happening, chuck the following ingredients into a small casserole dish: 1/2 cup canola oil, 1/3 cup masa, 1/4 cup polenta, 1/3 cup sugar, 1/2 tspn baking powder and 1/4 tspn salt. Then add the corn and water and use a stick immersion blender to mix it all together and to break up the corn kernels. Bake in a water bath, covered, for about an hour. I use a large ice cream scoop to serve like you’d see in many Mexican restaurants in the US.

Mexican rice

I got the original recipe here, but I’ve changed it so I can make it in my rice cooker.

Place 2 cups long grain white rice, 1 diced onion, 1 diced green chilli, 1 can chopped tomatoes, 2 cups vegetable stock, 1 Tbspn cumin, 1 tspn minced garlic, and 1/2 tspn salt in your rice cooker and stir together. Let it cook and then devour!

(If you have lemon or lime juice on hand, or fresh coriander, throw some of that on before serving. Usually we make guacamole, but alas there were no avocados at the store, so today we served it plain.)

“Refried” beans

I’m not sure where this recipe originated anymore, but basically it’s another throw everything in and give it a stir recipe. Drain and rinse 1 can of pinto beans and 1 can of black beans and place in a small saucepan. Add 2 cups of vegetable stock, 1 small diced onion, 1 tspn garlic, 1 diced green chilli and some salt to taste. Cook on high until the stock has reduced by half (about 20 minutes). Mash with a potato masher or use your stick immersion blender (this helps break up the onion and chilli). If it’s too watery continue to cook until desired consistency.

From here I just set out other staples (chopped tomatoes, shredded lettuce, grated cheese, sour cream, salsa, hot sauce, tortillas, taco shells and corn chips if I have them) on the table and everyone does what they want. I made myself a bean burrito with refried beans, lettuce, tomato, cheese and sour cream in a wholemeal tortilla and then had rice and corn cake on the side (sadly our salsa was moldy and we’re out of hot sauce – clearly I’m in holiday mode still). If we’d had guacamole, I would’ve made a cheese quesadilla and had everything else as sides to dip them in. Aaron and my oldest two like to chuck everything into a tortilla as part of their burritos. Or if we have corn chips they like to make nachos and throw everything on top of corn chips and cheese that they’ve warmed together in the microwave.

The only things that make this meal vegetarian rather than vegan are the dairy products that accompany it (ie sour cream and cheese). If we were to serve this meal to vegans I’d simply make sure to have guacamole as a creamy condiment for them and wouldn’t sprinkle cheese on the refried beans like I did tonight.