Apr 7, 2014

Spinach salad with strawberries

This is my second-favorite salad of all time, a close second to quinoa and spinach salad -- and no surprise there, since they contain many of the same ingredients.

I think a big part of what keeps this one at the top of my list over other green salads is that I only buy strawberries when they're in season. (My test for whether they're good and ripe? If there's a box of them at table height and I can smell them when standing over them, they're good!) And since here in Kansas, good strawberries are only available April through June, this salad is a rare treat.

(SO jealous of my niece who lives in California, and can get amazing ripened-in-the-field strawberries year-round!)

It's good with or without chicken, and all ingredients can be adjusted to your taste.

Recipe: Spinach salad with strawberries

For each individual salad:
2.5 oz. baby spinach (or thereabouts)
sliced fresh strawberries, to your taste (maybe 1/2 a cup?)
1 - 3 T. feta cheese, seasoned or plain
red onion, sliced thin; amount to taste
1.4 c. pecan halves (or to taste)
half of a seasoned, cooked chicken breast (about 3 oz.) - optional
balsamic vinaigrette or onion poppyseed dressing, to taste

Combine all ingredients; toss; enjoy!
Nutrition info, according to myfitnesspal.com:
Calories: 444
Carbs: 17
Fat: 32
Protein: 24
Sodium:  780
Sugar: 9

Mar 27, 2014

Braised pork tostadas - A. MAZ. ING!

Just had to break my self-imposed blogging sabbatical to post about this amazing dish we had recently on vacation in the San Diego area. We just needed a 3 pm snack to tide us over to dinner, and stopped at Iris Food & Spirits in Del Mar. On the recommendation of a local, we ordered the braised pork tostadas. It may not be the most photogenic thing...

...but MORE than made up for it in deliciousness! 

Those mini-tostadas are no chips out of a plastic bag: these babies were clearly just-fried, perfectly crisp with just-enough oil. The toppings are simple but perfect: tender, slightly smokey kalua pork, topped with sweet, sweet carmelized onion (with just a hint of wine, maybe), fresh cilantro, and -- according to the menu -- "buttermilk sauce." Which I'm guessing had some adobo sauce. 

Lovely contrast in textures and flavors: crisp/shattering of the tostada; candy-sweet onions playing a perfect counternote to the smoky, meatiness of the pork; just a hint of heat in the flavorfull sauce.

This was one of those meals where discussion came to a sudden halt after the first bite. "Wow," was about all we could manage to mutter. And after the food was gone, we immediately began plotting how to replicate this delicious dish at home.

Jan 2, 2014

How to correct too-tart tomato sauce without adding sugar or sweetener

"Unless you are using sweet, height-of-summer tomatoes, chances are your tomato sauce will taste more tart than you might like. Many recipes call for adding a pince of sugar... but sugar doesn't eliminate the tartness; it just makes the sauce sweeter. Nevertheless, I did that for years until my scientist husband reminded me that the way to neutralize an acid is with a base. He suggested adding a pinch of baking soda to overly tart tomato sauce.

"It works like a charm. You don't need much baking soda to have an impact, so start with a pinch. The sauce will foam briefly as you stir it in. Let the sauce simmer for a minute or so, then taste again. Add a little more baking soda if necessary. Be careful not to add too much or your sauce will taste soapy."

From the cookbook Four Seasons Pasta, by Janet Fletcher, p. 26.

Image source: Wikimedia

Dec 23, 2013

Please, sir: May I have some more pudding?

Because it's the day before Christmas, and I still have TONS to do, I'm going to make this post short.

My daughter and my BFF and I got together yesterday and made some yummy, yummy recipes. First time we'd ever made these, and they both get three enthusiastic, sugar-high thumbs up!

Warm Lemon Pudding Cakes, via Seasons & Suppers. As the three of us tasted our first bites, we were all rendered speechless, except for satisfied, "mmmm's, all around. As it bakes, the mixture separates into two layers: a creamy layer on the bottom that's similar in taste and texture to a very tart lemon curd, topped by a thin layer of super-light fluffy cake.
We made these in 4 oz. Mason jars. (Everything's better in a jar!) Super cute, and -- PLEASE NOTE: in these small jars, they only take about 15 minutes to bake. We still used the hot water bath method called for in the recipe.

Bread Pudding Cupcakes, by Sugar Derby. We left out the raisins, subbed pecans, and didn't bother with the cream cheese frosting. Either plain, or topped with a bit of the neighbor's homemade salted caramel sauce, they were fabulous!

These will both definitely be part of our best desserts list now. Should be in yours, too.

Merry Christmas to all!