Three Cucumber Salads

Cucumber Salad

Why three cucumber salads in one post? Because I got 15 pounds of cucumbers from the Food Bank’s Harvest Share program and cucumbers do not keep that well without some vinegar. So, I spent a long time slicing and dicing and mixed up three huge salads. Two of them based on my mom’s delicious old-fashioned cucumber salad.

This is mom’s recipe. Slice your cucumbers no more than 1/4 inch thick. I used a mandoline and easily sliced wafer thin slices. Layer the slices in a container with high sides, lightly salting between layers. I used Glad’s 13 cup family size container which held about 8 -10 large cucumbers, sliced. I put a sheet of wax paper over the container and set my cast iron fry pan on top of the wax paper and then put my tea kettle on top of that so it was weighted down heavily. I left it for a few hours and came back to add the dressing.

After two hours, I dumped the cucumbers into a big colander and let them drain. Rinsing the Glad container to get the saltiness out, I mixed the dressing right in the container while the cukes drained. I used 2 cups of white vinegar, 1/4 cup of sugar, 1 TBSP of dill weed, 1 tsp of garlic salt, and 2 tsp of celery seed.  I squeezed the juice out of the cucumbers, added them back into the container with the dressing and refrigerated overnight so they absorbed back the fluid I had drawn out with salt. Now they are saturated with a fresh dill flavor that has a mild bite. Makes 10 cups of salad.

Cucumber Salad

I only made about 7 cups of this salad because I used oil so it won’t last as long. To make it I cut the cucumbers into 4-6 inch long lengths that I shredded on the mandoline, making threads of cucumber. I also sliced and diced finely two purple onions. I salted and let rest for about an hour. Squeezing out the excess, I grated the zest of two limes over the salad, mixing it in. Then,  squeezed the lime juice into a sauce bowl for the dressing. I added 3/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar, 1/4 cup light olive oil, 2 TBSP of soy sauce, salt, pepper, and 2 tsp of red pepper flakes. I poured on top of the cucumber and onions, shook and let sit to absorb flavors for a few hours. This is a spicy, tangy salad with that delicious earthy tang of limes and the heat of peppers.  It’s delicious on a sandwich with pulled pork. Makes six cups of salad.

Cucumber Salad

These are pepper-salted cucumber slices, also a recipe from my mom. As before, I sliced the cucumbers, layering with salt until I filled the 13 cup container. I added weight on top of them and let them sit for two hours to draw out the liquid. I drained them in a colander, squeezing out all the liquid I could.

In the 13 cup plastic container, I added 2 cups of vinegar, 1/4 cup of sugar, and 1 TBSP of pepper. I mixed together, Added the cucumber and let it soak up the vinegar overnight. This has a fresh vinegary taste with a bit of bite from the pepper, fresh and cool followed by just a bit of heat. Makes 10 cups.

Caraway Carrot Sticks

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Preheat your oven to 350° F.

In a plastic bag, toss 1 TBSP of corn starch, 1 TBSP of olive oil, and 1 tsp of caraway seeds, a pinch of salt and pepper. Add 1 pound of baby carrots. Shake until they are completely covered. Spread on a baking sheet. Bake 40 minutes.

I served on a bed of baby spinach and spring mix lightly dressed with balsamic vinegar. I liked the way the caraway, the little olive oil, the salt worked with the salad. Makes two large servings.

Wow,  caraway and carrot is delicious. The caraway balances the sometimes overwhelming sweetness of roasted carrot perfectly.

I adapted this recipe from Melts by Fern Green, a cookbook I am currently reading. I used baby carrots and olive oil instead of vegetable oil and served on a salad. Otherwise the recipe is the same. She served it as a side with a sandwich melt…but I am out of bread. Otherwise, sounds like a great idea.

Roasted Carrot and Black Bean Soup

Carrot and Black Bean Soup

Preheat oven to 400° F.

Wash and peel 1 pound of fresh, raw carrots. Cut into approximately 2 inch long pieces. Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons of olive oil and some kosher salt. Roast about 30 minutes, turning once so they brown a bit on both sides.

About 15 minutes before the carrots are done, heat 1 TBSP of olive oil in the bottom of a soup kettle. Add 1 cup of chopped yellow onions, 2 bay leaves, salt and pepper and sauté until transparent, about five minutes.

Crush two garlic cloves and toss in to the onions and sauté for a few more minutes.

Add one can of diced tomatoes with green chiles and  4 cups of vegetable broth. Season with salt and pepper.

Bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer.

Remove the carrots from the oven and add to the soup. Cover and let simmer for 20 minutes.

Cool and puree in a blender, Magic Bullet, or with an immersion blender until smooth.

Drain 2 cans of cooked black beans. Strain and rinse the beans with water. Add to the soup and stir in gently. Cook on low heat about five minutes, until beans are done.

Serve. You could top with parsley, if you have it. Cilantro or pumpkin seeds would be delicious, too. Some red pepper flakes would heat it up if you dare. You could also add a dollop of sour cream, but then it would not be vegan. Makes 10 cups of soup.

This is a delicious blend of heat from the tomatoes and chiles and the rich, deep sweetness of the carrots with a bit of smokiness from the roasting. It’s delicious.

Red Chard Salad with Red Onions, Parm & Poached Egg

Red Chard Salad with Poached Egg, Parm & Dressing.

I tossed some red chard with the Mustard Vinaigrette and let it rest, letting the vinaigrette “cook” it for about 15 minutes while I poached an egg. I sliced parmesan on top and laid the poached egg on the top of the salad.

I poach eggs in a a sauce pan with a few inches of simmering water. I add a bit of vinegar to the water. Crack the egg in a small bowl first so you can slip it into the water rather than drop it. You can stir around the outside of the egg to encourage the white to sort of spin together using centrifugal force. Turn off the heat and put a lid on the pan and let rest for 4 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove it from the water without bringing water to ruin your salad.

Break the yolk and stir the yolk into the salad, mixing it with the vinaigrette. It makes a creamy sort of vinaigrette.

Smoky Split Pea Soup

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So, the recipe began with The Minnesota Farmer’s Market Cookbook I am reviewing for my book review blog. I will note the adjustments I made to the recipe.

  • 2 bay leaves
  • 10 coffee beans
  • 2 tsp dried red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 3–4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1⁄2 yellow onion, diced (The cookbook called for red, I don’t have any on hand.)
  • 1⁄4 cup olive oil (This seemed like a lot, but I decided to trust the recipe. It is the right amount.)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1⁄2 cup white wine (The recipe calls for vermouth, but I didn’t want to buy something when I had white wine which worked perfectly well.)
  • 2 cups yellow split peas
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon good balsamic vinegar

Directions:

Heat the olive oil, add the thyme, red chili peppers, and coffee beans. Add chopped yellow onion, salt and pepper, two bay leaves, and smashed garlic. Add salt and pepper. Cook on medium low until onions are tender, but not caramelized.

Add white wine and turn heat to medium. Cook ten minutes or so, until alcohol is cooked off.

Toss in the split peas, salt, pepper and water and turn heat up to a low boil for about an hour to 90 minutes until the peas are tender. Check frequently, stirring so it does not burn or stick to the bottom.

Using a slotted spoon remove the bay leaves and coffee beans and let cool. The book does not mention doing this, but it just makes sense. However, I missed one coffee bean (it must have been a small one) so it got blended up in the blender, hence a few tiny brown flakes in the soup. This was not enough to ruin the soup, but I think blending all the beans into the soup would be a disaster.

Blend in batches in a magic bullet, blender or with immersion blender.

So this soup is magical, rich and creamy with no dairy, smoky and rich in flavor without bacon or ham. Those coffee beans were an intriguing idea and they worked a treat. The splash of balsamic vinegar gives it a fresh and light lift that is what you taste first before it deepens to the smoky umami of the peas and ends on the gentle heat of the peppers.

 

Apricot Pear Sandwich Slaw

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Chop about 1 cup of red cabbage and lightly salt, setting it aside while you make the dressing.

Chop up 5 dried apricots into small pieces. Heat a clean, empty saucepan (no oil, no butter) to med. Add about 5 anise seeds and warm until aromatic. Toss in the dried apricots and an equal amount of water, about 1/4 cup. Cook until the apricots fall apart and are tender, adding more water if necessary. When the water is all soaked into the apricots, add 2 TBSPs of rice vinegar and stir quickly. Toss into cabbage, season with salt and pepper to taste.

With just four ingredients, this achieves a subtle and complex flavor, blending the aromatic pungency of the anise with the sweet tartness of apricots, the bite of the vinegar and the fresh crunch of cabbage. It’s delightful on its own but I made it as a sandwich slaw to use with slice pork roast on bread.

However, before I started to make this, I got a wild idea to make a different kind of sandwich and ended up using it in an amazing sandwich made with Bacon, Eggs, Onions, Pears and Parm. This is plenty for 4 to 6 sandwiches, or a couple small side salads.

Roasted Radishes and Carrots with Lemon Dill Sauce

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I had far too many radishes from the food bank, so I decided to try roasting them. As you can see they are huge radishes so are relatively mild.

I scrubbed them with a wire brush because the dirt was ground in. It took a lot of work to clean them, but it was worth it. I cut them into halves or quarters depending on their size. I wanted to get them all about 1.5 inches or so. I peeled and cut the carrots to the same size.

This is about eight radishes and 4 carrots cleaned and cut to size.

Preheat oven to 450°. I use paella pan for roasting vegetables. You can use a cookie sheet, bar pan, anything that is on the shallow side. I tossed the radishes and carrots in olive oil and sprinkled with kosher salt. I roasted them until they began to caramelize.

To make the sauce, I heated 1 TBSP butter and 1 TBSP of flour in a sauce pan, stirring over medium low heat for about four minutes until the flour is completely cooked, but not browned. I then added 1 cup of milk. I had low fat milk on hand, so that’s what I used. I stirred until smooth, adding the zest and juice from one lemon and a bit of dill weed. I used a bit more dill weed than I intended because the bag slipped. It was still delicious.

The contrast between the piquant radishes and the sweet carrots with the creamy sauce was delicious. This made four servings.

 

 

Pear, Brie, and Hazelnut Yufka

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This was the fruit and cheese course in the six course Christmas dinner yesterday, a collaboration between my best friend and me. We had a lot of pears so it made sense to use them. I remembered this extraordinary Brie she had at Thanksgiving which I thought would make a great accompaniment. Googling for pear and brie recipes brought up lots of for a tart of crostini. With everything else, it made sense to go for something lighter, with less bread, a naan or pita, perhaps. Then I remembered a recipe in the fabulous Soframiz cookbook I reviewed earlier this year for Yufka, a flatbread that is a tiny bit richer than pita, light and delicate, but not a pastry.  It really worked perfectly.

Yufka Dough:

  • 1 2/3 cup of flour
  • 1 tsp of kosher salt
  • 2/3 cup warm water
  • 2 TBSP olive oil

Mix the salt and flour in a bowl, make a well and add the water and olive oil. Mix with your fingers until well blended. Then knead for a good three minutes. I counted to 180 kneading. Lightly brush with olive oil, wrap in plastic wrap and let rest 4 hours or more. I let it rest overnight.

When you’re ready to cook, divide into 2 oz portions. I used a scale. I expected it to come out to 6 pieces, but it came out to 7. Bonus! Roll it out as thin as you can, use plenty of flour to keep it from sticking. It should be thinner than a tortilla and about 8 inches round.

Heat a skillet or griddle to medium high. Do not grease. Cook on one side until it bubbles, then flip and cook on the other. About 2 minutes each side. These are partially cooked yufka that finish cooking whenever you do what you do with them.

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The Pear, Brie, and Hazelnut Yufka

  • Pears
  • Brie
  • Olive oil
  • Dried Thyme
  • Toasted Hazelnuts

Preheat oven to 400°. Slice three pears and 12 oz of brie. Lay the yufka on a baking sheet, lay down the layer of pears, add the brie, drizzle with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle dried thyme over it. Put it in the oven to bake, just until the cheese browns very lightly.

Meanwhile, toast a cup of chopped hazelnuts in a dry pan.

Place each yufka on a plate, sprinkle with the hazelnuts and serve warm.

This was so delicious, rich and flavorful without being overly rich. Makes 6.

 

Scrambled Eggs with Rocket, Peppers and Onions

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This was a delicious breakfast scramble and so easy.

I heated my cast iron skillet to medium, melting about 1 TBSP of butter, tilting the pan to make sure it was all coated with butter. I had a bag of those mini bell peppers in all colors.  I chopped up about 2 TBSP of red onion, added it to the pan and let it cook. Then I chopped up 2 TBSP of red and yellow peppers and added it to the onions. I cooked until tender. I lowered the heat to low, so I could slow scramble.

While they were cooking, I cracked 3 eggs, added 1 TBSP of water, and blended with a fork. I also grabbed about 1/2 of fresh rocket (arugula) and chopped it up.

After the heat was lowered, I added the eggs and began stirring, stirring, stirring, stirring. Slow scrambling makes super creamy eggs, but they do require a lot of stirring. As soon as the eggs started to solidify, I added the rocket. I did not want it to overcook, so it went in last. I kept stirring until the eggs were done. I then added some salt and pepper to taste. Remember, never add salt to scrambled eggs until they are cooked or they will break.

This was a delicious and hearty breakfast. I like the peppery zest of the rocket.

Fry Bread with Apples and Yogurt

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I made these last month when it was too hot to turn on the oven, but wanted to make an apple dessert. I decided to make some fry bread with apples and yogurt.

To make the fry bread. Heat vegetable oil in a deep pan. Use plenty of oil (1 or 2 cups), you can strain it through a cheese cloth and use it again.

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/3 cup water

Mix together and form into four rounds. Drop into the oil, one or two at a time, depending on the size of your pan. You want plenty of space. When one side is done, flip it over and fry on the other side. Remove and rest on paper towels to drain, sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.

So, these are slightly savory apples. I put 1/2 TBSP of butter in a pan with some sliced red onions and a few rosemary leaves. I added two apples, peeled and sectioned, and cooked until tender but not mushy, adding a TBSP of sugar at the end to sweeten the onions a little bit more.

I served  half the apples with two fry bread and a spoonful of yogurt. This made two servings.