Monday, July 30, 2012

Tea Sandwiches with Darjeeling Cashew Cream Cheese and Lemony Darjeeling Granita for Cook the Books: "Death By Darjeeling" by Laura Childs

As a child, I wanted to be a detective. A girl detective like Nancy Drew or my favorite, a little more obscure, Trixie Belden, solving mysteries with my friends. As an adult, my dream job is to have a little cafe/tea shop/bookstore of my own. I spent years in the coffee business, but tea is my drink of choice and my passion. I took a six-week tea class a few years ago and loved learning about the different teas, their origins, processing, brewing and tasting. So, I was more than a little jealous of Theodosia Browning, proprietress of the Indigo Tea Shop and budding sleuth, the heroine of "Death By Darjeeling: A Tea Shop Mystery" by Laura Childs. Talk about the perfect combination of my childhood and adult fantasy careers!

"Death By Darjeeling" is the current selection for Cook the Books, the bi-monthly virtual foodie book club hosted by Rachel The Crispy Cook (our host this go-round), Jo of Food Junkie Not Junk Food, and yours truly. I am a fan of the foodie mystery, they are usually a quick read and generally gratify my mystery-solving urges as the perps (good detective word) are usually easily determined. "Death By Darjeeling" is no exception--it is a warm and cozy little mystery about a poisoning (perhaps by the Indigo Tea Shop's tea?), with no big surprises or plot twists, but it pulled me in with the vivid descriptions of the setting, tea, food and characters. Set in Charleston, South Carolina, it managed to transport me there, even though I have never visited--the city is almost its own character in the story. In addition to spunky Thoedosia, we are introduced to her staff and friends, Earl Grey the Dalbrador, and a neighborhood full of quirky characters--even a potential love interest for our heroine. My only complaint--I really didn't need to get attached to yet another book series when my "to-read" stacks are groaning, but I had to get the next book to spend a little more time "steeping" ;-) in the charm of Theodosia's world.

So many things to make between the baked goods and sweets from the tea shop and the savory dishes mentioned. I wanted to cook with tea--specifically the Darjeeling in the title and I picked up a couple of different first flush Darjeelings (Flush refers to the growing season of the tea--for darjeeling it is usually mid-March to May. First Flush Darjeelings are usually lighter in color and more fruity, floral and lively), and some honey made with first flush Darjeeling.

I made two things--the first was good in flavor just not so much in appearance, and the second worked really well in all aspects. My favorite part of an afternoon tea hands down are the little sandwiches. I love the soft, crustless bread, the soft creamy spreads and the delicious fillings. Since I have reduced the bulk of my dairy, I have been playing around with cashew cream--thick, non-dairy cream that can serve in a variety of ways. I thought it would be fun to make a thicker, cream-cheese version, flavor it with some of the Darjeeling and lemon, and use it for some tea sandwiches of salmon and cucumber and cucumber and arugula.

For my second dish, one of the places I like to partake of afternoon tea, serves a small glass of homemade granita or sorbet at the end of the tea service. I decided to make a Darjeeling-flavored granita, spiked with some lemon to contrast with the floral notes.

Together with some (purchased) lemony-coconut cookies and a fresh pot of Darjeeling, it made for a mini afternoon tea,

Darjeeling Cashew Cream Cheese
(Makes about 2 Cups)

4 Tbsp loose Darjeeling tea
2 cups whole raw cashews, rinsed well under cold water
1 Tbsp lemon juice 

Using 4 tablespoons of the loose tea, brew about 6 cups worth and cool down completely. Put the cashews in a large bowl bowl and add half of the cooled tea to cover them. Cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight.

Drain the cashews and rinse under cold water. Place them in a blender with enough of the remaining tea to just cover them. Add lemon juice and blend on high for several minutes until very smooth. (If you’re not using a professional high-speed blender such as a Vita-Mix, which creates an ultra-smooth cream, strain the cashew cream through a fine-mesh sieve.)

Place cashew cream cheese in a yogurt strainer or fine mesh sieve, cover surface with saran wrap and refrigerate for 6 to 8 hours until drained and thickened. Use in place of cream cheese. 


Lemony Darjeeling Granita
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes 1 Quart)
4 cups water
1/4 cup loose Darjeeling
2 Tbsp fine sugar
1 Tbsp honey, or to taste (I used Darjeeling honey)
1 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice

Bring water to just about a boil, remove from heat, add tea, cover and steep about 3 minutes. Add the sugar, honey and lemon juice. Pour mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a container and refrigerate until completely chilled. Put chilled mixture into an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer's instructions.* Remove mixture from ice cream maker and freeze several hours until very firm. 

*Note: If you don't have an ice cream machine or prefer, you can make granita placing the tea mixture into a baking pan and freezing until nearly firm (about 5-6 hours). Remove pan from freezer, put granita into a cold mixing bowl and break up the mixture by beating it with an electric mixer on medium until the granita is broken up and slightly "fluffy". Return granita to pan and spread it out evenly. Re-freeze until solid.

Notes/Results: We'll start with what worked in the Darjeeling Cashew Cream--the bright flavor of the tea and the lemon made this creamy spread perfectly compliment the sandwich fillings. Placing the already thick cream in my yogurt strainer made it the right consistency for a mock cream cheese and it spread well on the bread and was not overpowering in flavor. The downside--it ain't pretty! I wasn't thinking about the color the tea would add. Cashew cream leans to an ever-so-faintly grey color on it's own--coupled with the tea it made for a sickly tan color which was not so appealing. I covered it with salmon and arugula leaves in the two sandwiches so you can't see it in the pictures. I will have to rethink it for future experiments. The Lemony Darjeeling Granita was excellent--again the lemon brightened it and the Darjeeling flavor really came through with brewed tea and flavored honey. Refreshing and good. I chilled some of the leftover tea and made a granita float with it and some mint. Yum! 

Many thanks to Rachel for switching us up with our first foodie mystery for Cook the Books! I am coming in right under the deadline today, so if you have not already posted, you have missed this round, but if you like reading foodie books and cooking from them, join us for August-September. I am hosting and I have picked a personal favorite book of foodie essays, "Home Cooking" by Laurie Colwin. Hope to see you there!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Summery Cucumber & Dill Soup: Cold and Tangy for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

Know that when I tell you that this Summery Cucumber and Dill Soup tastes a bit like dill pickles, I mean that in the best possible way. It's cool, creamy and slightly tangy but not overpowering. Perfect for a humid day.

This one comes from The Compassionate Cook or "Please Don't Eat the Animals" --A Vegan Cookbook by PETA, but I did change things up quite a bit--noted in red below.

The Compassionate Cook says, "For those days when the mercury creeps up into the 90s and you're looking for a lighter meal."

Summery Cucumber and Dill Soup
Adapted from Summery Cuke Soup, "The Compassionate Cook" by PETA
(Serves 4-6)

2 tsp vegetable oil (used coconut oil)
5 cucumbers, peeled, seeded, chopped (used 3 locally-grown English cucumbers)
3 cloves garlic (used 2 cloves)
2 medium onions, chopped (used one onion)
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth (used 1 cup veg broth, 1 cup water)
1/4 cup fresh dill (separated--see notes below)
sea salt and black pepper to taste
1 cup soy milk (used coconut milk)

In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat and saute the cucumbers, garlic and onions until onions are transparent, about 6 minutes. Add the broth and simmer until the cucumber is soft, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove the soup from the heat (scoop out cucumbers, onion and garlic and discard liquid), and transfer to a blender or food processor (add 1/2 of the dill) and blend until smooth. While the mixture is still warm, stir in the (remaining) dill and season with salt and pepper to taste. Chill. Stir in the soy (coconut) milk just before serving.

Notes/Results: I really liked the way this soup turned out--it's different and very refreshing and I am a big cucumber and dill fan. As noted above, I did reduce the garlic and onion so as not to overpower the cucumber. I also added part of the dill to the blender before blending to maximize the flavor. Coconut milk is what I had on hand, but any alternative milk will do. I would make this again.

Let's take a look into the Souper Sundays kitchen this week:

Carol of There's Always Thyme to Cook... brought a creamy Gazpacho and says, "It turns out the family is not so keen on cold soup. My husband thought it tasted like a creamy salad dressing. The kids and their friends gave it an "okay" but I really loved it. Loved. And it's easy enough to make some just for myself. The flavor was so good. I think my family just assumes that soup should be hot. I'm always in a rush when I serve so you'd think they'd be used to cold soup. Or maybe the fact that this was intentionally cold soup. They'd have been happier with the usual lukewarm. ah well, more for me.

Help me welcome Becky from Veghotpot, a Brit making her first appearance at Souper Sundays this week with a Tomato Soup with Basil Gnocchi Dumplings. She says, "In this case I decided to combine a classic basil and tomato flavour, but with a twist – the basil is in the gnocchi!I adapted the original gnocchi recipe I made from Gino D’Acampo’s cookbook because it has been perfect everytime I’ve made it, but I have changed a few things in his method just to fit better with how I like to do things. The tomato soup is my own recipe and I actually much prefer it to my previous tomato soup offering."

Johanna of Green Gourmet Giraffe Blog stopped back by with a Celery and Blue Cheese Soup. She says, "Today I have a celery and blue cheese soup to share with you.  It was good.  Very good.  But I don't have much to say about it, other than try it.  The blue cheese didn't overwhelm.  The amounts of celery and potato seemed flexible according to recipes I found on the web.  Even E was pleasantly surprised.  I ate mine with salad and E ate his with toast. "

Simona of briciole has a Bean, Chicken and Egg Pasta Soup (Minestra di Fagioli, Pollo e Pasta All'uovo) to share and says, "There is no wrong that a good homemade chicken soup can't right. And even without a wrong to make right, a steaming bowl of chicken soup brings a smile to the steamed face.This soup has three elements--chicken stock/broth, the making of which gives you also some boiled chicken, beans and pasta all'uovo (egg pasta) cut into short tagliatelle. And the three elements can be made at different times and then brought together. Once they are available, putting together the soup requires a short amount of time."

Tigerfish of Teczcape-An Escape to Food made Parboiled Rice Salad this week and says, "Another misconception I have cleared up recently - is that parboiled rice is not nutritious. In fact, if you really prefer white rice to brown rice, parboiled rice might be another choice as the way of processing parboiled rice (where the hulled rice is hydrated and steamed) - gets the nutrients from the bran to the grain, making parboiled white rice 80% nutritionally similar to brown rice."

Janet of The Taste Space tried this Lemon Mediterranean Lentil Salad and says, "The glory of this salad comes from the simmering finale of the herbs and tomatoes with the cooked lentils. The olives, capers and lemon zest add a delicious mix of flavours that permeate the lentils in a great way. Except, because I had omitted the lemon juice and toasting, they kept cooking. They became mushy. Still uber delicious, but not as firm as I prefer for my lentil salads. Not as photogenic as I would like, but this recipe was too delicious not to share pronto."

Pam of Sidewalk Shoes says, "Specialty cooking magazines lure me in every time.  My recent acquisition was Fine Cooking Grilling 2012 I flipped through the appetizer section (unfortunately, I rarely get my act together enough to prepare appetizers AND a meal), and ended up at salads.  I found the Grilled Chicken and Arugula Caesar Salad with Grilled Croutons. This was so good and easy!  It was perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoon, and even easy enough for a weeknight dinner.   

Finally, Debbie of Easy Natural Food made this wholesome grain salad and says, " only experience with millet has been fermenting and cooking it as a breakfast cereal. But I hopped online and did a quick search, and almost immediately came across this recipe for Warm Millet and Broccoli Salad by Eden Kitchen which sounds delicious. It was the pesto that sold me…..and the pesto did not disappoint…I’m still licking my lips."

Great soups and salad this week--mahalo to everyone who joined in. If you have a soup, salad or sandwich that you would like to share, just click on the Souper Sundays logo on the sidebar for all of the details.

Have a happy, healthy week!

Friday, July 27, 2012

(Canary) Melon Cooler Paletas: Sweet and Refreshing Ice Pops

Nothing says summer like a cold and refreshing ice pop or paleta. One of my very favorite summer flavor combinations is mint and melon so when I saw some different melon variations at Whole Foods this week, I had to give a less-familiar melon a try. I went with the Canary Melon, said (by Wikipedia), to have a "distinctively sweet flavor that is slightly tangier than a honeydew melon. The flesh looks like that of a pear but is softer and tastes a little like a cantaloupe.

Although Rick Bayless has several fresh fruit paleta recipes, the recipe I actually looked at first and consider my starting point was his Fresh Melon Cooler. I just omitted the water and sugar and put in some mint. My changes are in red below.

Canary Melon Paletas
Adapted from Fresh Melon Cooler Agua de Melon,
(Makes about 1 quart( (As adapted makes about 6 Paletas)

4 cups (packed) fresh melon (such as cantaloupe, honeydew melon, watermelon—peeled, and seeded, as appropriate) (used 2 cups canary melon)
1/2 cup water, plus more if necessary (omitted)
1/4 cup sugar, plus more if desired (omitted)
about 2 tablespoons lime juice, plus more if desired (used 1 Tbsp)
(added about 6 large mint leaves)

Scoop the fruit into a blender, then add the water, sugar and lime. Blend until smooth. Add more water, if necessary, to achieve a light, easy-to-drink consistency. Taste and season with more sugar and lime if you think necessary.  Refrigerate to chill or serve over ice. (I blended the melon, lime juice and mint in blender until smooth, poured into molds and froze overnight.)

*Rick says, "You can add extra flavorings (mint to honeydew, orange juice to cantaloupe, and blended raspberries to watermelon) if you like". 

Notes/Results: This was my first time eating canary melon. I was hoping the flesh would be bright yellow like the exterior but it is a pale white-yellow-greenish hue. The taste is like a slightly sweeter cantaloupe, very tasty and in absolutely no need of any added sugar. In this pop, the lime and mint off-set the sweetness making it bright and fresh tasting--perfect for cooling down on a warm afternoon. I will make these again.

We are celebrating "Nieves"--frozen desserts and icy treats over at I Heart Cooking Clubs this week and my good pal and co-host Heather is celebrating "The Summer of the Popsicle" over at girlichef. These tasty pops are headed to both events.

Happy Aloha Friday!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Cheezy Tomato Pasta Bake: My (Vegan) Version of a Classic Hamburger Casserole for Food 'n Flix July: "Because I Said So"

Some degree of meddling is a given with mothers, but in Because I Said So, our Food 'n Flix July movie pick, Daphne Wilder (Dianne Keaton), makes it an art form. Unlucky in love herself, Daphne wants her three daughters happy and settled and for her youngest daughter Milly (Mandy Moore), that is turning out to be quite a problem.

Milly, a catering manger (the foodie part of the flick), has just broken up with her boyfriend and Daphne, convinced she won't find someone, places a personal ad for Milly and interviews and rejects potential candidates without Milly knowing. She finds an excellent catch in Jason (Tom Everett Scott) a well-bred architect. Rejected applicant musician Johnny (Gabriel Macht) goes around Daphne to meet Milly and Milly starts dating both of them. 

Does mother really know best?  

Because I Said So is a cute, chick-flick with some delicious looking food--chocolate souffles, quirky cakes, delicious dinners, tuna pasta salad in Milly's seniors' cooking class. The cast is and pretty to look at and mostly likable. Dianne Keaton manages to keep her overbearing mama character, although definitely very often exasperating, still appealing. Mandy more is cute/sweet/funny and of course Gabriel Macht and Tom Everett Scott are there for some good eye candy. It's fluffy, fun and light--perfect for July. Although I don't own this movie, I catch up with it whenever it is on and DVR'd it in June to watch it again this month. 
With all that food, especially the plethora of desserts, my choice of a dish may seem a little pedestrian. But this movie makes me think mostly of the mother-daughter relationship and makes me thankful that although my mom worries, nags, and more than freely offers advice in a variety of subjects--she recognizes that fact and it is nowhere near the level of Daphne. My mom has long since given up on being concerned by my love life and now focuses on the more mundane things to worry about. My health, finances, and especially since I stopped eating meat, poultry and dairy--my protein levels. "Do you think you are eating enough protein?" is a frequent question on our phone chats--if I dare to say I am tired, or stuffy, or angry, or have a headache, or didn't sleep well, or had a long day at work, or for that matter, any mention of any dish or meal I have cooked or eaten.  

I decided to pick a typical childhood dish and revamp it to make it fit into the way I eat today. Hamburger Noodle Casserole was on the menu fairly regularly when I was growing up--it was cheap, tasted good and everyone liked it. Think Hamburger Helper without the box--hamburger, tomato sauce, noodles, cheese all baked together. It's not glamorous, it's not pretty but it is comfort food and there is nothing wrong with that. ;-)

This is my vegan version--soy crumbles instead of meat and instead of a gooey cheese topping, my favorite cheeze sauce stirred into the tomato sauce and pasta and then a topping of crispy seasoned panko breadcrumbs. Reminiscent of home and childhood in taste and texture but much less saturated fat and cholesterol. You can have an extra large helping and not feel guilty and with the soy crumbles, quinoa pasta and almond milk--it has plenty of protein mom. Sometimes daughters know best! ;-)
Cheezy Tomato Pasta Bake (A Vegan Hamburger Casserole)
by Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Serves 6)

1-2 Tbsp olive oil 
1 pound package soy crumbles/ground-meat alternative 
1 medium onion, chopped, 1 cup 
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp Italian salt-free, herb seasoning  
2 (14 oz) cans diced tomatoes 
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp tamari sauce or Bragg's 
1 (8 oz) package dried pasta of choice 
2 cups cheeze sauce (recipe below)
salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup seasoned (panko preferably) bread crumbs

Cook pasta according to package directions, drain and set aside. Make cheese sauce (recipe below), and allow it to thicken.

In a large saucepan brown ground meat alternative in 1 Tbsp olive oil. Remove meat with slotted spoon and set aside. Adding a bit more oil if needed, add onion to pan and sauté until tender and lightly caramelized. Add garlic and Italian seasoning and cook a few minutes more. Add the canned diced tomatoes, tomato paste and tamari sauce, along with the cooked soy crumbles. Cover and simmer about 20 minutes. Cook pasta following package directions, drain and rinse lightly with hot water and make cheeze sauce (recipe below). 

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil a 9"x13" baking dish.

Mix cheeze sauce into tomato sauce mixture, add cooked pasta and mix it together carefully but thoroughly. Pour into oiled pan and top with seasoned panko. Bake about 35 minutes or until casserole is bubbly and breadcrumbs are lightly toasted.


Vegan Cheeze Sauce
Adapted from Chloe's Kitchen by Chloe Coscarelli
(Makes about 2 cups
 2 Tbsp vegan margarine
1/3 cup all-purpose flour (or gluten-free all-purpose flour)
2 cups soy, almond, or rice milk
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 teaspoons sea salt
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 Tsp agave
In a medium saucepan, whisking margarine and flour over medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes to make a roux. Add the nondairy milk, nutritional yeast, tomato paste, salt, smoked paprika and garlic powder to the pan and whisking briskly, bring to a slow boil. Reduce the heat to low and let simmer until the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and agave and adjust salt and seasonings to taste.

Notes/Results:  Tasty, filling and hard to tell it isn't cheese and meat-laden. I used a quinoa pasta rotini--the next time I might choose a smaller sized pasta cut--just to make it "prettier." Easily adaptable to other ingredients, making it gluten-free, etc. A good way to relive a childhood favorite. I would make this again.

Thanks to Heather of girlichef, founder of the Food 'n Flix event and host for this month. If you want to join in, you have until the 30th, or join us next month for The Help. 

I am also sending this noodle casserole to Presto Pasta Nights, hosted this week by its founder Ruth of Once Upon A Feast.


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Curried Zucchini Cucumber Soup (Is it a Soup? Is it a Smoothie? ): Cool & Refreshing for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

Is it a soup? Is it a smoothie? This Curried Zucchini Cucumber Soup is a little bit of each. It's from Ani's 15-Day Fat Blast by Ani Phyo. Ani Phyo is one of my favorite raw chefs and I have all her books so I had to pick up her latest book due mostly to the seventeen soup recipes it contained. Cooling, refreshing no-effort summer "cooking" makes me happy and is the way I like to eat when the temperature and humidity rises. Sure, you can just as easily serve this cold soup in a bowl but a glass and straw make for a fun change. 

Ani says, "I like to think of blended soups as savory shakes. I love this soup because the zucchini blended with the miso gives it a creamy base, while the lemon add a touch of acidity and brightness."

Curried Zucchini Cucumber Soup
From Ani's 15-Day Fat Blast by Ani Phyo
(Makes 2 Cups, 1 Serving)

1/2 cup zucchini, chopped, about 1 small whole
1/2 cucumber, chopped, about 1/2 whole
1/2 cup celery, chopped, about 1 rib
1 Tbsp lemon juice, from about 1/4 whole
1 Tbsp miso, unpasteurized, any color
1/4 tsp curry powder, to taste
1 cup filtered water, as desired
Thermo Charger: pinch cayenne powder, to taste and/or 
1/2 tsp garlic, about 1 clove  

Place all ingredients, including cayenne and garlic, if using, into your high-speed blender. Blend until smooth. Enjoy immediately.

Will keep for one day in fridge stored in sealed container.  

Notes/Results: This soup should be called "I have been indulging way too much lately and really need something green in me soup." It is cooling, nourishing and tastes really good. There is just enough curry and a tiny kick from the cayenne to make this creamy soup pop with flavor. Pulling all of the veggies and the distilled water straight out of the fridge keeps it nice and cold and make it refreshing slurped down for a light lunch. If you are in a soup rut--this one is for you. ;-) I will happily make it again as well as try more of the soup and other recipes in the book.

Let's see who joins us this week in the Souper Sundays kitchen:

Borscht with Beans is on the menu over at Green Gourmet Giraffe where Johanna says, "I made borscht years ago.  I liked it.  I wasn't in the mood to love it.  Recently I tried again, inspired by Lorraine's idea of blending most of the vegetables but keeping some aside until after blending.  I also liked Kari's idea of adding a can of beans to her barley soup.  I am pleased to say that I enjoyed it far more than my previous attempt."

Foodycat has what she calls an "unphotogenic but delicious" Sopa de Ajo (Garlic Soup). She says, "This is not an attractive plate of food. It's nourishing, comforting, quick to make, economical and absolutely delicious. But it sure isn't pretty. For such simple ingredients, pretty bland in themselves, it has an extraordinary depth of flavour and packs a very comforting punch."

Tina of Squirrel Head Manor braved the heat for a bowl of this delectable Fish Chowder. She says, "It’s so brutally hot in Florida you wouldn’t think we would want a bowl of hot soup. Or stew. Most times that is true……….but no matter what the weather, I always come back to soup as a natural go-to lunch or starter. Awhile back we tried the Wahoo fish. This is such a meaty type fish that we ended up with leftovers. A stew seemed in order for the grilled chunks remaining and that’s just what we made."

Janet of The Taste Space and I were channeling each other with raw green soups this week and she made a Raw Sea and Sprouts Soup or Salad (Sunflower Sprout, Apple and Dulse Soup) that can be enjoyed in a glass or left unblended to eat as a salad. Janet says, "Even though I drank it in a glass, this wasn’t a juice. It was a creamy pureed soup. The soup was only warmed by the blender, a welcome change during the recent heat wave and the biggest difference from traditional soups."

You definitely don't want to blend up Janet's second dish this week, this pretty Strawberry Avocado and Mint Salad with a Chocolate Balsamic Vinaigrette. She says, "... I tried yet another dressing. This time, though, I made less. This is a simple dressing to put together, so I can easily whip it up again. And I will because it was glorious. Roasted hazelnut oil. Balsamic Vinegar. Chocolate. Need I explain more?Oh wait, please, let me tell what I paired the decadent chocolate balsamic vinaigrette with: Strawberries. Avocado. Mint. Toasted Almonds. Raw Cacao Nibs…… oh, and lettuce, too."

Carol from There's Always Thyme to Cook... re-posted a favorite salad this week and says, "My daughter had to bring in a recipe for her final grade in her High School cooking class this past year and didn't know what to make. She went through all the recipes on my blog and ended up making this recipe for Apple, Cherry and Walnut Salad with Maple Dressing and received an A+! It was one of the favorites of the class. And ours. She hasn't made a thing since but at least I know she can :)"

Debbie of Easy Natural Food tried something a bit different for her this week, this colorful Kohlrabi and Mango Salad. Debbie says, "I’ve been hearing a lot about kohlrabi lately. I’ve never bought kohlrabi, never eaten it (to the best of my knowledge), and have certainly never cooked with it before. But I’m always into trying new vegetables, and in fact sometimes I buy something that I have absolutely no idea how to cook on purpose, to force myself to try it! ... Mango, cilantro and lime are combined with the kohlrabi to make this tasty, refreshing side salad which is incredibly simple to throw together, but looks really cool!"

Joanne of Eats Well With Others has a salad and a soup and sandwich combo to share. First, this Corn-Avocado Salad with Black Beans and Barley. Joanne says, "...I'll be hitting the gym and eating totally normally except that whenever I get the strong and unnerving desire to stick a spoon into a jar of peanut butter and go to town...I'm gonna stick it into this bowl of salad instead. And given how each bite of this mix of corn, avocado, red bell peppers, tomatoes and black beans is just about bursting with flavor...I'd say that's not much of a sacrifice. Nope, not at all."  

Joanne also joins in on the green soup party this week and says, "You might think I'm crazy for even so much as suggesting soup as a viable dinner option right now, but this Green Goddess Soup is worth the mere fifteen minutes of time it takes to make it! And it pairs perfect with this Pesto Mozzarella Grilled Cheese Sandwich."

Some truly unique and wonderful dishes this week--thanks to everyone who joined in. If you have a soup, salad, sandwich or combination of any of the three that you would like to share, just click on the Souper Sunday logo on the sidebar for all of the details.

Have a happy, healthy week!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Seared Rare Tuna Salad with Chayote Slaw and Roasted Garlic-Green Chile Dressing

The Seared Rare Tuna Salad with Chayote Slaw from Everyday Mexican by Rick Bayless makes an easy and tasty summer dinner.  The recipe actually has a Guajillo Chile Dressing with it but Bayless mentions it also goes well with his Roasted Garlic Dressing with Green Chile, so that's the one I used.

Rick Bayless says, "Okay, I know this sounds like something off of a fusion restaurant menu, but some fusion dishes lay the foundation for new classics. You'll love the wonderful play of robust flavors and textures--a quick way to feel as if you've gone out to that cool new restaurant."

Seared Rare Tuna Salad with Chayote Slaw and Roasted Garlic-Green Chile Dressing 
Adapted From Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless
(Serves 4)

4 (about 1 1/4 lbs total) tuna steaks, nit less than 3/4 inch thick
2 chayotes
about 4 cups (loosely packed) arugula or thickly sliced romaine
a little chopped cilantro to finish the salad
Roasted Garlic Dressing with Green Chile (recipe below)
pumpkin seeds to garnish (optional)

Lightly brush skillet or grill pan with oil and heat on medium-high. Sprinkle both sides of the tuna with salt. Lay the tuna in the heated pan. When brown, no more than 1 minute, flip and sear the other side. (The higher the heat, the more golden the crust--without overcooking.) Remove the skillet from the heat. Thoroughly shake the dressing, then carefully drizzle on about 3 tablespoons dressing (it may spatter a bit when it hits the hot fan). Turn the tuna in the dressing from time to time as it cools.

Peel the chayotes, if you wish (the skin is so tender that peeling is optional). Cut them in half lengthwise; pry out the pits. Shred through the coarse holes od a large grater or with a mandoline (Finely shredded chayote looks sadly matted). Scoop into a bowl. Shake the dressing well, then toss the chayote with about 3 tablespoons dressing. Taste and season with salt.

Divide the greens among four plates, forming them into wide nests. Slice the pieces of tuna and nestle the pieces in the center of the greens. Top each plate with a portionof the chayote salad. Drizzle the tuna and greens with a little dressing. Sprinkle everything with cilantro (and some pepitas), and dinner is ready 


Roasted Garlic Dressing with Green Chile
From Mexican Everyday, Rick Bayless
(Makes about 1 cup)
4 garlic cloves, unpeeled
Fresh hot green chiles to taste
3/4 cup olive oil or other oil, or mix
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

Set a small dry skillet over medium heat. Lay in the unpeeled garlic cloves and the chiles. Roast, turning frequently, until soft and blotchy brown in spots, about 10 minutes for the chiles, 15 minutes for the garlic. Cool until able to handle, then slip the skins off the garlic and roughly chop the chiles (no need to remove the seeds).

Combine the garlic, chiles, oil, vinegar and a scant teaspoon of salt into a blender jar or food processor. Process until smooth. Taste and season highly with additional salt if necessary. Pour into a jar and secure the lid. Refrigerate until ready to use. Shake well immediately before pouring out.

Notes/Results: I was really happy with the different flavors and textures of this salad. The dressing has a creamy feel and a good kick from the roasted serrano chiles. The chayotes are crisp and refreshing bt if you don't have them in your area you could substitute with jicama or even green apple. For a little crunch, I topped my salad with a sprinkle of pumpkin seeds--which I liked very much. My tuna slicing  won't win any awards--I was in a hurry and didn't pick the best knife but it definitely tastes much better than it looks! ;-) I would make both the salad and the dressing again.

It's Potluck week at I Heart Cooking Clubs and you can see what Rick Bayless dishes everyone chose this week by going to the post and clicking on the links.

I am also sending this salad over to Easy Natural Food where Debbie hosts Summer Salad Sundays--a weekly seasonal event full of tasty salad inspirations.

Happy Weekend!