Kitchen Basics – Vinaigrette Salad Dressing

Vinaigrette 1

It’s almost the end of January. How is everyone doing on those resolutions? I actually decided to do something different this year and just not make any. Bring on the cookies! Actually, I decided that rather than set specific goals, I would just try to live each day in as healthy a manner as possible. I know… all those diet gurus with their intentions and affirmations would totally disagree, and I’m sure writing down goals works for some, just not for me. And, you know, my definition of “healthy” differs from day-to-day depending on what is going on in my life. Lately it’s been a lot of intense, all-day snow shoveling resulting in ravenous hunger. In that case I think it’s okay for a treat or two. Other days, rather than tackling that plank workout, some restorative yoga may be a better choice.

One thing we don’t neglect, however, is our commitment to what we consider a healthy diet. For us that means pretty much no processed food, as much as possible prepared from scratch, and a LOT of vegetables. I’m here to tell you that’s not easy sometimes, especially after a long day at work. I spend a lot of time in the kitchen, and there are days that I just can’t face it. I cook extra so there is always something in the freezer, but sometimes even that is not enough. That’s when we say “oh well,” and pull out the Chinese take out menu or order wings or pizza. The tomatoes in the pizza sauce count as a vegetable, right?

Vinaigrette 2

Actually, I’m okay with ordering out on occasion, especially if I’ve had my usual huge salad for lunch. One thing that is super easy to make and keep on hand and takes your salad to a whole new level is homemade salad dressing. I use bottled dressing too, but much prefer to make my own, when I remember to do so. I usually have a vinaigrette of some type in the fridge as well as a creamy mayonnaise and buttermilk based one.

I’ve decided to start doing a section on Jeannine’s Cuisine called Kitchen Basics. These will be recipes that everyone should have in their hip pocket. These are foods that are the building blocks of how I cook. Vinaigrette seemed like the ideal choice for the first one.

The proper ratio for a vinaigrette is three parts oil to one part acid. For one cup that means 3/4 cup of oil to 1/4 cup of vinegar, lemon juice, etc. I have seen countless salad dressing recipes that call for half oil and half acid. In some cases, when someone is trying to produce a low fat salad dressing, the ratio is even switched – pucker up! Just don’t go there. I almost always add a teaspoon of Dijon mustard for flavor and to help with emulsifying, and then I add herbs and other extra flavors. For this recipe I decided to go with strictly dried herbs. That might have something to do with the fact that my fresh herb garden is currently buried under about 3 feet of snow, but I also wanted to see how it would taste. I was pleasantly surprised, and I think you will be too.

Vinaigrette 3

Vinaigrette Salad Dressing

1 to 1 1/2 Cups Dressing

The amount of dressing will depend on if you use dried or fresh herbs, or even a combination. I generally allow one teaspoon of dried herbs for a tablespoon of freshly chopped herbs. The red pepper flakes add a bit of a bite and some nice color to this dressing. Feel free to decrease the amount or leave them out.

3/4 cup olive oil

Juice from 1 lemon (approx. 2 tablespoons)

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or 4 teaspoons dried

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or 2 teaspoons dried

1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried

1/2 to 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon salt

freshly ground black pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a 1 1/2-2 cup mason jar and screw on the lid tightly. Shake the jar vigorously to blend the ingredients. If using dried herbs allow the dressing to sit for 15 minutes and shake again.

Note: You will have to shake the dressing to blend it each time you want to use it. Alternatively you can place the acids and the mustard in a bowl and whisk in the olive oil a bit at a time before adding the remaining ingredients. This will better emulsify the dressing and prevent it from separating as quickly; however, it does take more time.

Adapted from The Homemade Pantry:  101 Foods You Can Stop Buying and Start Making by Alana Chernila

 

Arugula Salad with Persimmon and Stilton

Persimmon Salad 1

Can you believe Thanksgiving is here already? I shudder to think of how little time remains before Christmas. I tend to get so overwhelmed with stuff to do I end up not doing anything. Or, I jump from task to task and never finish anything. Not a great way to get things done. So, I’m trying the “three big rocks” method of time management…pick three things and don’t do anything else until you get those three things done. It sounds great on paper, doesn’t it?

Persimmons top down 1

The problem is, although I can stay laser focused at work, at home I am easily distracted. And there are a lot of distractions – the dog, the cats, a stack of cooking magazines to go through, cook books to rearrange, a birthday present for my husband to buy…

Salad closeup 2

This is the time of year that I really want to take the time to enjoy. I want to sit in front of that fire and read a book, or get outside and enjoy the fall crispness in the air. Experiment with some ingredients I don’t always cook with.

persimmons 2

Persimmons are one of those beautiful fall fruits that I’m always telling myself I should play around with, but never seem to get around to. I’m not a fan of eating them by themselves, but when I saw this recipe I had to try it. I had a bag of Meyer lemons in the fridge and loved the idea of a side salad that was more than our usual Romaine lettuce and vinaigrette.

persimmon salad 3

For those of you still looking to add one more side dish to the Thanksgiving table, this salad is it. Healthy, but definitely not boring – slightly bitter greens are paired with sweet persimmons, zinged with some Meyer lemon, and finally given a note of decadence with some creamy Stilton cheese. The variety of flavors in this salad will go with any fall meal. And it’s incredibly easy and fast to make. That’s a win win for the busy holiday season.

persimmon salad recipe 4

Arugula Salad with Persimmons and Stilton

Serves 4

If you can’t find Meyer lemons, regular lemons will work just fine. Meyer lemons are sweeter, so if you use regular lemons add an additional half a tablespoon or so of honey to the dressing. This salad is best served right after making it. But if you want to prepare it ahead, make the dressing separately and dress the salad right before serving.

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 Meyer lemon finely diced with peel

2 teaspoons Meyer lemon juice (from 1 Meyer lemon)

1 1/2 cups thinly sliced radicchio (1 large head or 2 small)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground pepper

2 quarts baby arugula

2 ripe Fuyu persimmons, top removed, halved and sliced into half-rounds

1/2 cup crumbled Stilton or other blue cheese (2 ounces)

Whisk the olive oil, diced lemon, honey, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a large bowl you intend to serve the salad in.

Add the radicchio, arugula, and persimmons and toss with the dressing.

Divide the salad among four plates and top with the Stilton.

Adapted from Sunset Magazine, November 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Summer Salad – Coleslaw with Pineapple and Jalapeño

Coleslaw !

Now that Memorial Day is a couple of weeks behind us, it’s “officially” summer, even if the solstice is still 2 weeks away. I know this because I just popped the first bright yellow cherry tomato off one of the tomato plants and ate it right there in the garden with the sun beating down. Mmmmm! I love taking a bowl of them to work to have with my lunch. Such a nice change from our usual green salad.

Eating that cherry tomato is actually how I discovered that I accidentally bought two cherry tomato plants rather than a cherry and a big tomato plant, as I had intended. Ooops! That’s okay. It was an excuse to go buy another tomato plant and a few corn plants as well. Now I have an even bigger “farm” than I did before and, more important, even more tomatoes this summer.

Coleslaw 2

So I go a little nuts with the summer veggies. My next-door neighbor saw me as I was carrying the box of plants to the garden and exclaimed…”more plants, Jeannine? Is that CORN? Big corn or little corn?” Truth be told, I didn’t know there was a difference. I guess I’ll find out. And I’m still laughing about the incredulous look on his face. Hmmm, I guess it’s like the cookbook thing. I may have a veggie problem.

This salad is ideal for the warm, humid days of summer. Other than a few items during the holidays, I don’t have a lot of go-to recipes that I make all the time. My husband often jokes about my “5-year rotation” on recipes. This salad is the exception. I first prepared it many years ago while living in Athens, Greece. I served it at a Memorial Day picnic I had at my house and it was a huge hit. Sour cream was totally unavailable in Athens, but Greek yogurt made a great substitute, and I’ve used it ever since.

Coleslaw 3

Coleslaw with Pineapple and Jalapeño

8 Servings

The jalapeño in this recipe does not make this salad fiery hot, rather it adds a nice spiciness. Feel free to adjust up if you like a little more heat, or even leave it out. The salad can be made 1 day ahead.

1 cup mayonnaise

1 cup Greek yogurt (or sour cream)

3 tablespoons Dijon mustard

3 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup chopped pickled jalapeños

1/2 pound cabbage, cored and sliced (approx. 8 cups)

1/2 fresh pineapple, cored and trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (approx. 2 cups)

3 green onions, sliced

Whisk the mayonnaise, yogurt, mustard, sugar, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Stir in the chiles, then add the cabbage and pineapple and toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Right before serving, stir in the green onions and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

Adapted from The El Paso Chile Company’s Texas Border Cookbook by Park and Norma Kerr 

Tomato Salad with Grilled Blue Cheese Onions and Barbecue Vinaigrette

Tomato Salad 1

This post is a continuation of foods inspired by my trip to Asheville, NC, for the Food Blog Forum conference. The second day of the conference was hosted by Explore Asheville Foodtopia. The day began with a visit to a local brewery, the Highland Brewing Company.

Highland

I had no idea that Asheville is home to more artisan breweries than any other place in the U.S. We were given the opportunity to tour the actual brewery and watch the beer making and bottling activities in action.  The tour was nice, but what really floored me was the reception that was waiting for us when we arrived. Many of the local restaurants and food purveyors had stations set up with samples of their specialties matched with various Highland Brews. Ribs and beer for breakfast? It was tough, but somehow I managed.

Ribs

There were representatives from the local honey purveyors, ice cream makers, and even a professional forager, who had brought a sample of the most beautiful mushrooms I’ve ever seen.

Mushrooms

The Foodtopia group also gave us a very nice bag full of some of the local goodies, to include a bottle of Smokin J’s barbecue sauce.

BBQ Sauce

Early this past summer, I decided I needed to improve my grilling skills. Actually, I decided to become a “grill goddess,” and purchased a couple of grilling cookbooks to assist me, including a copy of Gastro Grilling by Ted Reader. I really like this book because it goes well beyond the throw-a-steak-on-the-grill version of outdoor cooking. I spotted this salad recipe early on, and decided it would make a great side with grilled meats. The barbecue vinaigrette reminds me of french dressing, only better. It’s great on a simple green salad as well. If you live in a climate warm enough to still be enjoying some early fall tomatoes, and you’re crazy like us and grill outside year ‘round, this salad is for you. Even if you live somewhere that you have already experienced your first snowfall, there is always next year.

Salad 2

Tomato Salad with Grilled Blue Cheese Onions and Barbecue Vinaigrette

Serves 6-8

I used Penzey’s Barbecue spice for the salad dressing. If you don’t have access to Penzey’s feel free to substitute your favorite barbecue rub combined with a pinch of sugar. This salad is great with a mixture of different heirloom tomatoes of different colors, but use whatever you can find. If you prefer to use only one type of onion, all red, for example, that’s okay too. To chiffonade basil, tightly roll the leaves lengthwise and slice thinly.  

1 16-ounce can plum tomatoes, drained

1 anchovy filet

1/2 cup your favorite barbecue sauce

1 1/2 tablespoons prepared horseradish

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

1/2 tablespoon chopped garlic

1 teaspoon Penzey’s Barbecue spice or other

1/4 cup olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

8 medium size tomatoes

1 medium red onion

1 medium white onion

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 cup blue cheese crumbles

1/2 cup basil leaves, chiffonade

Dressing

Prepare the vinaigrette: place the first eight ingredients (through the barbecue spice) in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Turn on the food processor and slowly add the olive oil through the feed tube, stopping the machine when the vinaigrette is smooth and completely emulsified. Transfer to a bowl, season to taste with salt and pepper, and set aside.

Preheat the grill on high. Thickly slice the tomatoes and arrange on a serving platter.

Slice the onions into 1/2-inch thick slices. Brush both sides with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill the onions on one side for 6 minutes, then turn them over and grill for another 5 minutes. They should be fairly tender and slightly charred. Sprinkle some of the blue cheese on each onion slice and close the lid for about a minute to melt the cheese.

Onions

Carefully remove the onions from the grill and allow to cool for a couple of minutes. Cut the onions into quarters and arrange on top of the tomatoes. Drizzle the salad with some of the dressing and serve the remainder on the side. Top the salad with the basil and serve.

Adapted from Gastro Grilling by Ted Reader

Tomato and Mozzarella Salad with Pistou

Tom Mozz

It could have been worse. I could have broken my right arm in three places (I’m right handed), rather than the left. I could have knocked my teeth out or broken my jaw when I landed face down in the street, yet somehow I managed to keep my badly scraped up face intact. I was very lucky that my shoulder stayed in place and will not require surgery and that I should regain full use of my arm, even though it will take at least 6 months. There have been some important lessons learned during this ordeal.

Tom Mozz 2

I am one of those people who are busy, busy, busy, no matter what. When I am not trying to juggle doing several things at once, I’m preoccupied with what’s next. I never seem to be able to “stop and smell the roses” and quite honestly, I think I’m beginning to understand that is no way to live my life. A month ago when I fell while walking the dog, I was totally preoccupied with worrying about something I shouldn’t have been concerned about and wondering how I was going to be able to squeeze one more “to do” into an already packed schedule.

My accident has forced me to finally slow down. It’s a little difficult to rush through life with only one functioning arm, and it’s given me the opportunity to really think about what I want out of life. I still don’t have all the answers, but I’ve been able to narrow it down a bit. It’s time to ease back on the throttle and focus on the things I really enjoy, like this blog, and accept that other things might have to fall by the wayside.

Tom Mozz 3

Speaking of this blog, I was just dying to pick up my camera again and get back to it; hence this post. But, I had to question my sanity as I was crawling around on the dining room floor trying to get the perfect shot while using my tripod as a second arm. Maybe I should continue slowing down, i.e., resting and healing a little longer?

Slowing down while healing also meant turning over the kitchen duties to my husband, who has done a wonderful job of keeping food on the table. I’m back in the kitchen now, albeit one-handed, and the food I’m able to cook is limited, which might not be a bad thing. Simple dishes that let the ingredients speak for themselves sound really good to me right now.

Tom Mozz 4

During the summer I am always more inclined to simplify my cooking anyway. There is so much great produce out there. This year we joined a CSA for the first time. The season just started, and the jury is still out – garlic scapes and kohlrabi anyone? But this week we did receive a huge bundle of basil in our weekly selection. I was originally just going to make a Caprese salad but decided to go one step further by making a Pistou to drizzle over sliced tomatoes and fresh mozzarella. Provençal Pistou is very similar to its Italian cousin, Pesto, with the difference that Pistou does not contain pine nuts. I was looking for a more pure basil flavor for this sauce. Pistou is one of those sauces that have so much versatility. Try it stirred into vegetable or legume soups or over any kind of grilled meat or fish.

 Tom Mozz 5

Tomato and Mozzarella Salad with Pistou

4 Servings

The number of servings for this salad can vary depending on how many tomatoes and how much mozzarella you have on hand. The recipe makes enough Pistou to double the amount of servings. I used two really large heirloom tomatoes for four servings, which would also equate to two nice lunch servings.

 Pistou

1 clove garlic

2 cups packed basil leaves

1/3 cup grated Parmesan

7 tablespoons olive oil

Salt

Pepper

Salad

4 medium or 2 very large tomatoes

1/2 pound fresh mozzarella

Make the Pistou. Peel and halve the garlic clove length wise and remove the germ in the center of the clove. Note: This isn’t so important when you are cooking garlic, but the germ can be somewhat bitter when garlic is not cooked. Place the garlic, basil, and Parmesan in the mini-bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the ingredients are finely chopped. With the machine running, add the olive oil in a steady stream. Add salt and pepper to taste and pulse to blend.

Assemble the salad. Slice the tomatoes and the mozzarella. I like slices that are a little under half an inch, but not as thin as a quarter of an inch. Arrange the tomato slices on individual plates or a serving platter. Top each tomato slice with a slice of mozzarella. Drizzle with the Pistou and serve.

 

 

 

A Mexican-Inspired Salad with Bacon Vinaigrette

salad 1

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the direction I want to take this blog. Is it all about the photography? Food styling? Or is it about developing original recipes? I started the blog not only as a way to reach out to friends and family when they requested a recipe, but also as a way to work on my food photography, with the possibility of turning it into something more professional in the future. I didn’t realize just how much time it takes to post a decent blog post, but I’m not willing to cut corners. Don’t worry, Jeannine’s Cuisine is not going anywhere — not after all the work I’ve put into it. But I’ve finally accepted that, as a full-time Government employee with up to 2 hours of commuting each day, sometimes I’m just not going to be able to post as often as I would like. I read about other bloggers who also work fulltime and have been doing this for years. How can they be so prolific? Where do they find the time? As for me, I’m still working out my “blogging routine.” I guess I’ll get it down eventually, but in the meantime, I will continue to post as time allows.

Salad 2

I’ve also thought a lot about my food message. Is it gluten free? Paleo? Desserts? Quick and easy? Original recipes or adapted from other sources? I think I made the right decision when I decided to name this blog Jeannine’s Cuisine, because the food style in my blog is about all of those things. It’s the way I like to cook. Sometimes the food is healthier and at other times the food I cook is better suited to a special occasion, or when I have all kinds of time to cook. What you won’t find here is any processed food or anything labeled “fat free.” I generally change pretty much every recipe I get my hands on to some degree, and occasionally I even get an original idea and just roll with it. But I also use my ever-expanding cookbook collection for inspiration quite a bit. My goal for the future is to expand the collection of recipes on the blog, both original and adapted, to offer something for everyone. Because that’s the way I cook.

Salad 3

Yesterday was Cinco de Mayo, and food bloggers everywhere were hard at work, coming up with all kinds of delectable Mexican-style appetizers, entrees, and desserts. I would usually have done the same, but this year, after returning from non-stop gorging on Mexican food during a week-long trip to Arizona, Yum! I decided something a little healthier was probably in order.

Salad 4

I take a salad to work for lunch most days of the week, and it’s normally a bowl of lettuce with some salad dressing. I’m starting to get pretty bored with that and have been experimenting with making the lunchtime salads a whole lot more interesting. This salad is the answer. A delicious bacon vinaigrette (who doesn’t love bacon?) goes over a mixture of salad greens, tomato, avocado, bacon “chips” and toasted pumpkin seeds. I was trying to come up with something for Cinco de Mayo – this salad contains avocado and pepitas that are sort of Mexican ingredients, right? Don’t limit yourself to May for this salad. This is good anytime of the year.

Salad 5

A Mexican-Inspired Salad with Bacon Vinaigrette

Serves 4

This recipe makes more salad dressing than you will need for the salad. Store leftovers in the refrigerator and warm to room temperature before serving.

1/4 sweet onion, finely chopped

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

4 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 pound bacon, cut crosswise into inch-wide pieces

4 large handfuls Romaine lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces

1 large tomato, cut into wedges then cut crosswise

1 avocado, halved, peeled, cut into wedges, then cut crosswise into chunks

1/4 cup shelled pumpkin seeds, toasted and salted

Place the onion, mustard, and vinegar in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Slowly add the olive oil a small bit at a time, whisking with each addition. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Place the bacon in a cold sauté pan and turn the heat on medium. Cook the bacon until crispy then turn it out onto a paper towel-lined plate. Set the pan with the bacon grease aside while you prepare the salad.

Combine the lettuce, tomato and avocado in a serving bowl. Add the vinaigrette mixture to the bacon fat in the sauté pan and whisk well to combine. The mixture may splatter if the bacon fat is still hot. Dress the salad with as much dressing as desired, top with the cooked bacon pieces, sprinkle with the pumpkin seeds, and serve immediately.

Salad dressing adapted from The New Basics Cookbook by Julee Rosso & Sheila Lukins

 

Warm Goat Cheese Salad with Pomegranate Vinaigrette

Goat Cheese 1

Snow day!  We don’t get too much snow here in Northern Virginia, so, when it does snow, it’s an event.  It started late yesterday afternoon, and, okay, it’s only an inch or so, but it’s snow!  When I got up at 4 a.m. to go to work, it was still snowing, the roads looked horrible, and I knew there was no way I was going to drive in this stuff.  Never mind that I used to drive in much worse in Germany.  Ahh, what good pair of snow tires will do for your car.  Anyway, I had two choices, ride to work with my husband or take the day off.  Hmmm, what to do?

untitled

I grabbed my camera, went outside and started taking pictures.  The sun was just starting to come up, and the light was beautiful.  I stay pretty busy, and don’t often just stop and look at the beauty around me.  I did that this morning and realized I need to do a lot more of it.

Goat Cheese 2

Snow on the ground signifies that I can continue the Christmas season just a little longer.  The recipe I’m sharing today is a beautiful salad I made for Christmas Eve.  I loved it so much I made it again for New Year’s.  The colors, red pomegranate, green arugula, and white goat cheese, make it perfect for Christmas, but don’t limit yourself to just making it for Christmas.

Winter 2

Goat cheese salad, a French favorite of mine, is great any time.  And you could easily mix it up by adding or substituting ingredients, such as using frisee with a Dijon vinaigrette.  However, don’t skip the goat cheese.  Breaking into the crispy exterior of the cheese to the soft melty interior is what makes this salad.

Goat Cheese 3

Warm Goat Cheese Salad with Pomegranate Vinaigrette

4 Servings

This recipe can easily be doubled.  It can be made gluten free by using gluten-free flour and panko.  The best way I have found to cut goat cheese into smooth slices is to use dental floss.  If you don’t have any on hand, a knife dipped in hot water is also helpful.  Leftover vinaigrette would be delicious on a spinach salad with bacon.  You will need to allow the vinaigrette to warm up to room temperature before using.   

Pomegranate Vinaigrette

1 1/2 cups pomegranate juice

1/3 cup olive oil

5 teaspoons honey

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

salt and pepper to taste

Salad

1/4 cup arils (seeds) from half a pomegranate

2 4-ounce logs goat cheese

1/2 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon pepper

2 egg whites

1 cup panko

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 5-ounce container baby arugula

2 navel oranges, peeled and sectioned

Prepare the vinaigrette.  Bring the pomegranate juice to a boil in a medium saucepan.  Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the juice is reduced to about 1/4 cup, about 15 minutes.  Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool, about 30 minutes.  Whisk in remaining vinaigrette ingredients and set aside.

If using a whole pomegranate, remove the seeds.  I have found the best way to do this is to cut the fruit into chunks and use my fingers to remove the seeds in a bowl of water.  The seeds float to the top and the fibrous fruit chunks sink.  Place the seeds in a bowl and set aside.

Slice each log of goat cheese into 6 slices.  Set up a 3–station breading area by place flour and pepper in a shallow dish, the egg whites and 2 tablespoons water in a second dish, and the panko in a third dish.  Dredge the goat cheese rounds in the flour, thoroughly wet them by dipping in the egg white mixture then thoroughly dredge them in the panko. Arrange on an aluminum foil–covered plate or pan, cover, and chill for at least 30 minutes.  Heat the olive oil in a non-stick skillet and fry the cheese rounds 2 minutes per side or until lightly browned.  Drain on paper towels.

Assemble the salad by dividing the arugula and orange sections between four plates.  Drizzle with the pomegranate vinaigrette.  Sprinkle each salad with some of the pomegranate seeds, then top each with three cheese rounds.  Serve immediately.

Adapted from Southern Living A Very Special Christmas, December 2012