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Lindsay

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Entries in Recipes & how-to's (54)

Wednesday
May162012

An evening with Mindy Fox: Salads that will change your mind...about salads.

This isn't the first cookbook that Mindy Fox has written.  Actually, it's her third.  But, unlike the previous two that she has co-authored, Salads: Beyond the Bowl is unique in that it contains 100 recipes.  All for some variation of a salad...

Does the word "salad" make you yawn?  Scare you, perhaps?  OK, fine, but don't roll your eyes and stop reading this post just yet.  Why?  Because, I think I can change your leaf-hating prerogative.  Look, I'll admit that, up until last night, "salad" frightened me and made me yawn, too.  I mean, it's generally so boring.  So...healthy.  Cold.  Wet.  And it never seems to have the right ratio of dressing to greens.  In fact, just typing out these boring, rainy adjectives is making me yawn... 

However, I figured that, if I was going to attend the cookbook launch for an author who was quoted as saying, "The one food that I would take with me to a desert island would be salad," I knew that I had better start practicing my best "salad poker face."  

When I arrived at the serene loft space for the launch, I was taken aback by the gorgeous, poster-sized photos of Mindy's salads adorning the walls.  A bowl of greens topped with crumbled feta, grilled shrimp, and pickled purple onions - a close-up shot of octopus tentacle "tendrils," set against a black background.  Those were just two of my favorite images.   

As I made my way further in to the space, I came upon a table topped with two different salad samples.  Salads that looked nothing like the generic, leafy, green crap that I so often refrain...and run from. 

Clearly, Mindy and I had not been eating the same salads all of these years...

Blueberries, Feta, and Mint:  How often do you see blueberries and feta cheese together?  Never.  I knew that I had to sample this salad first, because I was so perplexed by its unique ingredients. 

The sweetest, most plump blueberries were topped with salty feta cheese crumbles, torn mint leaves, sea salt crystals, coarsely-ground black pepper, and finished with a heavy drizzle of a strong, rich and peppery olive oil.  It would be safe to say that this is the "salad" that changed the way I think about salads. 

PS:  I bought Mindy's cookbook and will share this recipe with you, further below!

Panzanella di Farro:  Based on looks, alone, I wasn't as eager to sample this salad.  Maybe it was all of those vegetables?  However, after one bite, I was blown away by its electrifying flavor and burst of different textures.

A melange of briny, sliced cucumber, halved cherry tomatoes, corn kernels, and edible flowers were combined with plump barley beads and tossed in a savory, garlic-y dressing that exploded with pep and delight. 

...

Now, in addition to Mindy's mind-blowing salads, a handful of her finest food-and-wine purveyor friends provided accompaniments that perfectly complimented Ms. Fox's recipes:

Bountiful bread baskets from Hot Bread Kitchen

A Grana Padano cheese wheel

*Did you know that Grana Padano cheese is lactose-free?  Now that is some food-for-thought!

A phenomenal olive oil tasting, courtesy of DeMedici Imports

*Did you know that olive oil tastings and wine tastings are almost identical in structure?

In the top picture, orange segments were sprinkled with sea salt and paired with Colonna, a very light, subtle olive oil.  The sample was consumed like a "shot." 

In the bottom picture, a piece of French chocolate was sprinkled with sea salt and paired with Albereto, a heavier, more spicy and peppery olive oil.  This sample was also consumed like a "shot."  

Both samples were delightful, but my preference was the AlberetoThough that *could* be because it was paired with French chocolate!

An exquisite brut, courtesy of Ferrari

...

As if the evening could not get more exciting or delicious, the lovely Gail Simmons arrived!   Moments after my irregular, star-struck heartbeat resumed its regular pace, I walked over to the cookbook-topped table, and began to flip through its glossy pages and intrigue-provoking chapters.  And, that's when it hit me:  Salads don't have to be boring, one-note, restrictive "dieter's lunches."  No, they can be amazingly delicious side dishes or even entrees, incorporating fruits, grains, meat, fish, poultry, cheese, nuts...you name it.  "That's it.  I have to have this cookbook!" I exclaimed to my friend, Helen.

Afer purchasing Salads: Beyond the Bowl, I approached Mindy to congratulate her and confess that, because of this particular evening, I had been transformed in to a "salad optimist."  Oh, and I also asked her to autograph my copy.  :)

Like Mindy says, it's not so much the "health" aspect of salads; for her, it's "...how delicious and show stopping a well-made salad can be."  Because, at the end of the day, shouldn't healthy also taste fabulous?  Salads: Beyond the Bowl certainly makes that possible. 

And, speaking of, I cannot WAIT to whip up Mindy's amazing recipe for "Blueberries, Feta, and Mint," which I plan to make this weekend!  You, should, too! 

RECIPE:  Blueberries, Feta, and Mint

Ingredients - serves 4

  • 3 cups blueberries (about 1.5 pints)
  • 1 cup mint leaves, large leaves torn
  • 5 ounces feta cheese (1 cup), crumbled
  • 4 tablespoons very good extra-virgin olive oil
  • Flaky course sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns, crushed

Divide the blueberries among small shallow serving bowls, then sprinkle with the mint and cheese.  Drizzle 1 tablespoon of the oil over each serving.  Crush several generous pinches of salt over each dish and sprinkle with the pepper

Enjoy!

~~~

Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle

Tuesday
May082012

(Recipe) Table for one: Pan-roasted Monkfish with Mushrooms & melted Scallions

Today marks my 8-year anniversary of living in NYC!  And, because I'm dining out this evening, I decided to celebrate last night by treating myself to a kick ass, home-cooked meal.  I found a lovely recipe for "Pan Roasted Monkfish with Mushrooms & Scallions" in Food and Wine and, with a couple of tweaks, I made this dish my own.   

...

Ingredients, serves 1-2

Recipe adapted from Food and Wine

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 scallions, cut in to 1-inch pieces
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 10 ounces mushrooms, sliced or quartered
  • 1 lb. monkfish OR halibut filet (membranes and dark meat removed), cut in to 2 even pieces
  • 1/4 cup milk (I used whole milk)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Optional:  lemon wedge

Heat oven to 450-degrees.  In an oven-proof pot, heat the oil over moderately high heat.  Add the scallions and the garlic, and sautee until scallions begin to soften - about 4 minutes.  Add the mushrooms and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper.  Continue to sautee until mushrooms start to brown and soften, about 6-8 minutes.

See how the scallions look "melted?"Sprinkle fish filets with salt and pepper.  Place fish on top of mushroom/scallion mixture, and transfer the pot to the oven.  Roast until the fish is just done, about 12-minutes for 3/4-inch thick filets.  *Note that the cook time could take up to 14 minutes.  Eye carefully.  Fish should be white and firm to the touch.

Remove fish from the pot.  Put the pot on top of the stove.  Add milk.  Bring to a simmer and continue simmering until sauce starts to thicken and is no longer runny. 

The mixture should look similar to the photo, above, with no runny liquid.Serve fish atop or under the mushroom/scallion mixture.  Squeeze top with lemon wedge (optional).

Et voila! Bon appetit.~~~

Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle

Friday
May042012

Get your 'Derby hats on and your (margarita glass) bottoms up!

Dear readers,

Happy Friday to you all!  Tomorrow, May 5th, marks my most favorite holiday of the calendar year:  Cinco de Mayo!  And, while I'm not quite up to snuff on its significance or history, I will say that, in honor of whatever Cinco de Mayo represents, you can bet your ass that I will be partying - and eating - like a rock star.  And, speaking of partying, did you know that the Kentucky Derby *also* takes place tomorrow?  Whew, this is going to be one sloppy weekend!

Still trying to figure out your May 5th game plan?  Don't fret, because good ol' Grub Street came up with a list of awesome places to get your party on.  To 'Derby or to Cinco'?  Or to both?  That, my friends, is the million dollar question.

~

The Kentucky Derby is cool and all, but Cinco de Mayo is my thing.  So, if you find yourself in need of some delicious Mexican-centric recipe ideas, then check out some of my personal favorites, below:

  • The WORLD'S most delicious - and easy-to-make - margarita:  Trust me when I say that this is the LAST margarita recipe that you will ever need.  Aside from the fact that it is seamless to make, it tastes fresh, tart, and goes down as smooth as water.  I warned you! 
  • Chile con queso (Tex-Mex cheese dip):  I can guarantee you that there will not be a single drop left of this delicious, Tex-Mex cheese dip.  It is an overwhelming crowd pleaser and always wins the contest for most popular appetizer (...or, in my case, meal).
  • Calabacitas:  This is, without a doubt, my favorite vegetable side dish.  It incorporates sauteed zucchini, onions, chile, and tomatoes; proving to be the ultimate savory, zesty accompaniment to any Mexican entree.
  • Fideo (Mexican spaghetti):  “Fideo” is a Mexican version of spaghetti with tomato sauce, which we typically eat as a side dish.  Warm, garlicky, and robust, everyone will fall in love with this unique twist on traditional pasta.

So get your 'Derby hats on and your margarita glass bottoms up!

~~~

Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle

Monday
Apr302012

Recipe: Ch-ch-ch-chia Seed Pudding!

If you're anything like me, then you just did a triple take when you saw the word "chia."  Why?  Because you're a child of the 90's.  Go ahead and re-familiarize yourself with the clip, below:

So, clearly, when I came upon a recipe for "Chia-Seed Pudding," I knew that I had to find out what my favorite decorative plant tasted like!  The seeds of my favorite decorative plant, that is

What's the deal with chia-seeds, you ask?  Well, they're packed with nutrients (in amounts comparable to other edible seeds such as flax), fiber, and protein.  And, when soaked, they create a tapioca-like pudding.

...

Ch-ch-ch-chia Seed Pudding, recipe adapted from Food & Wine

**Note:  This is the second time that I've made this pudding.  The first time, I followed Food & Wine's recipe to a T.  This go-around, however, I tweaked the ingredients to my personal liking and was very pleased with the results!

I make this pudding on Sunday night and bring it to work for a healthy, delicious breakfast. 


Ingredients (makes 2 servings)

  • 1 1/4 cups almond milk (I use the kind w/o any additional flavoring.)
  • 2 tablespoons agave nectar  (I used light agave nectar.  Honey could also be substituted.)
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds (you can buy chia seeds at your local GNC)
  • Cinnamon

In a 1-quart jar (I used a tupperware with lid), combine the almond milk with the agave nectar.  Close the jar/tupperware and shake to combine.  Add the chia seeds to the jar/tupperware and a dash, or two, of cinnamon; close and shake well.  Refrigerate until very thick and pudding-like, at least 4 hours or overnight, shaking or stirring occasionally.

To serve:  Top with raspberries (I prefer Driscoll's) - fruit of your choosing - or with your own creative addition!  It's perfectly great on its own, too!

~~~

Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle

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