Spinach Pear Salad with Hazelnuts

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My best friend came over for dinner last night, so I whipped up a lovely salad. Those pears I got from the Food Bank last week are ripe and I need to be using them up quickly, so I decided on a salad with pears.

First I sliced 1/2 of a yellow onion on the mandolin so I could get super thin slices. Then I cut up 5 of those mini peppers. (A 4 pound package of mini peppers costs less than 3 regular red peppers.) into thin strips, removing the seeds. I also corned and sliced three Bosc Pears. I put all of this in a plastic container with a lid. I added 1/3 cup rice vinegar, salt, pepper and 1/2 tsp of dry mustard powder.I put the lid on and shook it all as much as I could to mix it together. Then I added about 6 cups of baby spinach. Put the lid back on, shook some more and put it in the fridge for about an hour.

I toasted some hazelnuts (about 1/4 cup) with tajín (a spice mix of lime and chilis) in a dry pan.

To serve, I put the salad mix on the plate, added some hazelnuts and slice some asiago cheese on top.

The flavor is a wonderful blend of sweet, sour and a bit of heat. The hazelnuts are a great crunch and it was one of the best salads I have come up with this year. Service two.

Zucchini Melt

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A fast and easy lunch made with just a few ingredients.

In a sauté pan, I heated 1 TBSP of olive oil and added a pinch of anise seeds to it. When the aroma filled the air, I added 1/2 of a yellow onion, sliced thin along with 3 small peppers (the mini red peppers. I actually used a red, orange and yellow) or 1 large red pepper, cut into stripes. Add salt and pepper and let cook until tender.

I sliced two small zucchinis into little rounds and added them to on top of the onions and peppers. Then I cut about a 10 cherry tomatoes in half and tossed them on top with some salt and pepper. I let them cook for a while until tender.

Lastly I grated a bit of parmesan on top and let it melt. This made one large serving for a lovely, flavorful lunch. Anise is usually used in cookies and candies, but it is amazing with vegetables. It does not add a sweet flavor, it adds a subtle bite, sharper than you might imagine, but so delicious.

Ground Turkey Fennel Cutlets Sandwich

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It’s fun to experiment and this was a good one. I had some ground turkey that the store had overground, it was closer to meal than meat so the only thing it was suited for is meat balls or cutlets. So, that’s what I went for.

Prepare the vegetables in advance.

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Chop the vegetables in advance, mushrooms, onions, red pepper, fennel bulb and garlic

In a small pan, melt 1 tsp of butter and sauté on medium heat until tender the following veggies. Add salt and pepper.

  • 1/4 cup diced onions
  • 1/4 cup red pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh fennel
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced.

There won’t be any butter to drain. Just toss into a bowl with the following ingredients and form into small cutlets. The flax seed doesn’t add any flavor or anything. They are just a good source of antioxidants and other health benefits. Cooking releases their optimum benefits.

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Mix cooked veggies to ground turkey and saltines.

  • 12 oz ground turkey
  • 12 saltine crackers
  • 1 TBSP of flax seed
  • Salt and Pepper

Heat a skillet to medium heat with just enough olive oil to lightly coat the bottom. Add the cutlets to the pan and cook, turning when browned on one side. Cook until browned on both sides and then put a lid on it, setting it aside on a low heat burner while you toast the bun.

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Flip turkey cutlets after one side has browned, brown the other and then cook on low with a lid on it to cook the meat thoroughly.

1 baguette sandwich bun, sliced and toasted on a griddle.

For the mushroom sauce, use the small pan you cooked the veggies in. Melt 1 TBSP of butter. Add garlic cloves, then the mushrooms, paprika, salt and pepper. Sauté until tender and add white wine, cook it down and add sour cream.

  • 4 mushrooms sliced thin
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 TBSP white wine
  • 2 TBSP of sour cream
  • salt and pepper

Meanwhile, chop some fresh cilantro to top the sandwich. This makes two sandwiches.  There is plenty of sauce from the mushrooms that you don’t need butter or mayonnaise on the bread.

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Oops, part of a cutlet broke off Add mushrooms and cilantro on one side, cutlets on the other. No mayo or butter needed because the mushroom sauce has plenty of moisture.The sandwich is so delicious, that little bit of fennel is everything. 

Spicy Black Bean and Bulgur Salad

Black Bean Bulgur Spicy Corn Salsa Salad

This was another easy to prepare and flavorful salad I made ahead for some company coming over for brunch.

In the morning, I added 1 cup of boiling water to 2/3 cup of bulgur in a one quart plastic bowl with a lid. I sealed the lid and left for later. In a few minutes the wheat absorbed all the water and it was ready. I stuck it in the fridge for later when I would mix up the salad.

I drained a 15 oz can of black beans, rinsing all the liquid off and let them drain in a strainer while I chopped up the veggies.

I chopped 3 green onions, 1/2 of a red pepper and a bunch of cilantro. I also quartered 8 cherry tomatoes. I mixed them all in with the bulgur, added the beans and 1 cup of corn salsa. I squeeze 2 fresh limes, added a dash of salt and pepper and 1/2 tsp of cumin and it was ready for prime time.

It’s a flavor fiesta – spicy, sweet, crunchy and toothsome. The corn salsa adds just the right amount of heat. This made one quart of salad – all in the original container – so it also meant very little cleanup – a strainer and a knife.

Warm Mushroom and Kale Salad

Warm Kale Mushroom Salad

This was a fast and easy salad that I decided to have as an entree instead. It makes a single serving entree or two sides. The key to success is not overcooking the kale, letting it darken in color but not cooking until it wilts. That makes the rest seem more like a dressing for the kale and keeps it fresh in taste, texture and appearance.

Warm 1 TBSP of olive oil, add 1/4 cup of diced onions, 1/4 chopped red peppers and sauté until tender. Add salt and pepper. Meanwhile clean and slice 9 small mushrooms or whatever amount you need to make 1 cup of sliced mushrooms. Also mince one clove of garlic. Add the garlic and mushrooms and let cook until tender. Add a bit of salt and pepper. Finally, add 2 cups of chopped, cleaned kale and 1.5 tBSP of Balsamic Vinegar and stir. Keep stirring quickly so the kale heats evenly and quickly without steaming and wilting. Add salt and pepper to taste.

It might sound crazy to add salt and pepper three times, but the secret of good seasoning is to season at each stage of cooking for the amount that you have in your pan. This will make your seasoning more effective and actually end up using less salt and pepper.

This is earthy with a bit of tanginess from the balsamic vinegar. The flavors blended beautifully and would make a great side dish for something like a pork chop or beef steak, but is capable of standing on its own.

Migas

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I bought a big stack of corn tortillas and was wondering what might be a good way to use them for breakfast. I decided to make migas – a popular dish across the Spanish-speaking world, though not always made with tortillas. In Spain they will uses bread and potatoes and lima beans while in Mexico, you are more likely to get migas with tortilla strips and a lot more heat. I have seen them made with the tortillas cooked with the eggs and with the tortillas cooked in advance and added to the eggs at the end. I decided to make it both ways, cooking them with the eggs yesterday and separately today. While they both tasted good, the second was by far the best – so that’s what I will show here.

So first I took 2 corn tortillas and sliced them into 1 inch strips and then cut those long strips in half. In a skillet, I melted 1 TBSP of butter and pan-fried the strips until browned and crisped. I removed them from the butter and set them aside.

I added 2 tbsp of chopped onion and one minced small clove of garlic and let them sauté in the butter. I chopped up 2 TBSP of bell peppers (red, yellow and green) and 1 thick slice of tomato (about 2 TBSP) and added them to the softening onions. I let them cook. Meanwhile I cracked two eggs in a bowl and stirred them for scrambled eggs. When scrambling eggs, I mix them just enough to mix the whites and yolks but do not beat them. I prefer creamy eggs and over-mixing them will make them dryer. Note I also add no salt while cooking. Salt will make the egg mixture separate and the eggs will not be as creamy and tender.

I added the eggs and let them cook, stirring frequently. When the eggs are just about done, toss in a small handful of grated cheese. Adding the cheese to early will make the eggs runny. I used Pepper Jack for a tiny bit of heat. Just before serving, I added salt and pepper and stirred in the tortillas I set aside.

Cooked this way, the tortillas are crispier and are more evenly browned. There’s not the slightest hint of sogginess. The eggs are rich and creamy and the flavors blend beautifully. Makes 1 serving.

Dragon’s Breath Sweet & Sour Pork

S&S Pork

 

This is significantly tastier than dragon’s breath, but it will add a touch of fire to your day. I was hankering for some sweet and sour pork, but I also had some parboiled rutabaga left over from salad fixings and some pitted cherries left from a chutney I had made and it occurred to me that they could work in a sweet and sour pork. They would add compatible flavors, at least. However, there was nothing at least about this dish. It was by far the most delicious sweet and sour pork I have ever made.

So, to start it off. I chopped half an onion and minced an inch of ginger and 1 serrano chile. I sautéed them in olive oil on a medium low heat with some salt and pepper. Meanwhile I chopped up 1/2 a red pepper. I had cleaned and cut up the pineapple yesterday, so it was in a container in the fridge. I parboiled rutabagas for salad 2 days ago and they were also in the fridge in a container. I added a pork loin chop (about 6 ounces) and let it cook with the onions, ginger and chile and added some salt and pepper. When it was browned on one side, I added the red pepper. I let cook for about 5 minutes and added 1/4 cup cherries and 1/4 cup of pineapple chunks and 1/4 cup of rutabaga and season with salt and pepper. I let them cook until warm. Then I added 2 tsp of soy sauce and 1 tbsp of white vinegar and stirred. Added salt and pepper to taste.

Please note that when you add salt and pepper at ever step of cooking, you are adding much less at one time. Seasoning step by step means you will avoid over or under seasoning.

I served over plain rice. This had all that sweet and sour pungency of the traditional dish, but the rutabaga and cherries added an earthiness and umami that made it simply out of this world. Frankly, it would taste delicious without the pork for a vegetarian entree.

 

Kale, Red Peppers and Onions with Bacon and Cream Cheese on an Everything Bagel

Kale, Bacon and Red Pepper with Cream Cheese on a Bagel

For a fulfilling, but easy, breakfast bagel, I fried one slice of bacon. When it was nicely crisped, I removed it and let it rest. While it cooked, I chopped 2 tbsp of yellow onion, 2 tbsp of fresh red pepper and 2 stalks of fresh kale. I chopped everything to about 1.4 inch size. After I removed the bacon slice, I tossed the onions in the bacon fat along with a pinch of anise seed. I let the onions get tender and added the red pepper. When the red peppers softened just a bit, I tossed in the kale.

As soon as I added the kale, I put an Everything bagel in the toaster to toast. When it popped up, I spread some cream cheese on each half. I then spread the kale and red peppers on top of the cream cheese. I sliced the bacon into 4 pieces and put two pieces on bagel half. This made two servings, or two half bagels.

You could make a vegetarian version without the bacon because the kale was delicious with the cream cheese and bagel on its own.

Bushi’s Bacon, Brussels Sprouts & Red Pepper Omelet

Bacon, Brussels Sprouts & Red Pepper Omelet

I was DJ’ing at The Velvet this morning and wondering what to fix for breakfast. I asked for ideas and Bushido Fretwork suggested caramelizing onions and brussels sprouts with some bacon. Well, everything goes better with bacon, so I decided to try it.

I fried two slices of bacon, removed from the pan to a paper towel. While the bacon was cooking, I chopped up 2 TBSP of yellow onion, 2 TBSP of red pepper and 5 brussels sprouts. I added 1/2 tsp of dry oregano and the onions and let them start to caramelize before adding the red peppers and brussels sprouts.

While the veggies cooked, I mixed 3 eggs with 1 TBSP of flour, salt, pepper and 2 tBSP of water. I spread thinly on a large griddle set to 250° F. I then cut the bacon into long strips and chopped them into pieces about 1/4 inch or so, the same size as the onions and red pepper. I mixed with the vegetables and set aside.

I also mixed 2 TBSP of sour cream with 1 tsp of dry dill weed, 1/2 tsp of garlic powder and some salt and pepper.

I let the omelet cook until the top was close to done, then spread the sour cream across the inner circle of it and then I spread the bacon and veggie mixture and turned the four sides over, enveloping the veggies, before rolling the omelet.

It was delicious and the freshness of the sour cream was a perfect accompaniment.

 

 

 

Dinner Salad with Chicken Tenderloin

Dinner Salad with Chicken

This is a simple salad that you can chop and mix up while frying a chicken tenderloin to cut up and add on top of the salad. Now, to make breading, normally you use an egg with a bit of water and beat it. However, that makes enough breading for a a dozen tenderloins, not just one. If I were making a big batch, I would probably use an egg, but I am not, so I used a teaspoon of plain yogurt that a rubbed onto the tenderloin before dredging it in a mix of 1 TBSP bread crumbs, 1/2 TBSP of grated parmesan cheese, salt, pepper and paprika. I used a small skillet with just enough olive oil to cover the bottom and sauteed at medium high for about 3 minutes on each side. You will still get a nice, flavorful crust, though it won’t be as thick as one made with eggs.

While the chicken sauteed, I cut up 5 leaves from the heart of the romaine. I chopped up 1 small pink lady apple and 1/4 of a red bell pepper. In a bowl, I mixed the lettuce, the apple and bell pepper and added a small handful of sliced black olives. I sprinkled about 1 TSBP of balsamic vinegar and 1 TBSP of olive oil on top and tossed lightly to mix the dressing oil and vinegar with the salad ingredients. Then I added some salt and pepper and laid the salad on a plate.

By then the chicken tenderloin was finished, so I sliced it into about 8 or 9 slices and spread them on top. I really like the fresh hot chicken with the cold salad, the contrast in texture and heat is lovely. The chicken adds a nice crispiness that’s a different quality than the crispy apples and red peppers. The apples and vinegar add brightness and the olives add depth while the chicken gives it that substance that makes a salad into a meal.