You know, it’s getting to the point where if Rick Bayless gave me a recipe for stewed monkey brains with rabbit feces, toilet paper and chalk, I’d probably make it…and it would be delicious. I’m not sure how we hadn’t made today’s recipe thus far, but it’s fantastic. It’s almost like a chunky chicken and potato salad hybrid, infused with oregano, vinegar, spicy chipotles, crunchy Romaine, and sweet and creamy avocado. Rick’s original recipe calls for the chipotles to be seeded, but we kept the seeds and added a little honey to offset the spiciness a bit. We used a rotisserie chicken, but any leftover chicken you have would be fine. It’s a one-dish meal, perfect for warm summer days. Enjoy!
Chipotle Chicken Salad Tacos with Avocado, Red-Skin Potatoes and Romaine
1 large red-skin potato or Yukon Gold, sliced about ¼ inch thick 1 tbsp. salt 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar 1 teaspoon dried oregano 2 canned chipotle chiles en adobo, chopped
1 tsp. honey ¼ small white onion, finely chopped 6 ounces (about 1 1/2 cups) coarsely shredded cooked chicken breast 2 cups sliced romaine leaves – slice them about ¼ inch across 1 ripe avocado, cut into ¼ inch cubes 2 tablespoons olive oil 12 warm corn tortillas
Place the sliced potatoes into a large microwavable bowl, pour in ¼ cup of water and sprinkle generously with salt. Cover and microwave on high for about 4 minutes. Remove potatoes with a slotted spoon to a cutting board and let cool, reserving cooking liquid. Add the vinegar, oregano, chipotles, honey, and onion to the bowl with the potato water to make the dressing. Mix and then add salt. Use a fork to break up the potatoes into ½ inch pieces, then place them in a large bowl. Add the chicken and the dressing, and toss to combine. Refrigerate it for 30 minutes to allow the flavors to blend. Just before serving, add the lettuce and avocado, and drizzle with olive oil and toss gently to combine. Serve with warm tortillas. Eat!
There is some controversy regarding the history of the Cobb salad. Some report that the owner of L.A.’s famous Brown Derby restaurant, Robert Cobb, created it himself in the late 20’s or early 30’s; others say it was his head chef that created it, and still others say the chef created it and named it for the owner. (Those of you who watch the show “Curb Your Enthusiasm” may recall an episode where the origin of the salad is questioned.) Our theory is that “Cobb” is actually short for “cobble,” in that this salad was simply cobbled together with various ingredients. Regardless of its past, it’s a tasty salad that, when done the right way, bursts with flavors and can be relatively healthy. This recipe features most of the usual Cobb salad ingredients, with a nice shallot-infused vinaigrette with a hint of mustard. The real key to a good Cobb is the freshness of the turkey or chicken. We bought a rotisserie-cooked turkey breast at the market and chopped it up; it really elevated the salad to a new level. The bacon and blue cheese add some saltiness and tang, the tomatoes give it sweetness and some acidity, and the buttery avocado adds some creaminess that really ties it all together. Plus the dressing really brings out the flavors well. It’s a simple version of a simple dish – but when the simple things are done right, it’s always delicious. Enjoy!
The MHK’s Cobb-led Together Salad
1 shallot, minced
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. spicy/Dijon mustard
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
¼ cup olive oil
1 head leaf lettuce (Boston, butter, green), chopped
2 cups cooked turkey or chicken breast, chopped
4 slices bacon, cooked and chopped
1 Roma tomato, diced
2 oz. blue cheese crumbles
1 ripe avocado, sliced
Mix the first five ingredients together in a small bowl. Whisk in the olive oil. Arrange lettuce on plates. Top with turkey, bacon, tomato, cheese, and avocado. Drizzle dressing over each salad. Eat!
We’ve espoused enough about our love for Thai food on this blog, so I’ll save the back story and get straight into the food. Som tum, the fantastically fresh and spicy papaya salad from Northern Thailand, is something we’ve wanted to make for a while but for some reason never got around to it…until now. We based this recipe on one from www.thaitable.com; as far as the flavors go, it was a complete success. As far as the texture goes, it was not up to our standards. The problem was with the papaya – it’s a very juicy, moist fruit, and if you don’t get that moisture out of there, it turns very soggy; sweet and delicious, but soggy. That was the failing of the dish – somehow we will extract the moisture better next time. But the sweet tomatoes, the crunchy bean sprouts, the hot and spicy chili peppers, the salty fish sauce (which can be substituted with soy sauce to go vegetarian), the tangy lime juice, and the cilantro and peanuts create a vibrant ménage of flavors that is very refreshing. You can certainly remove the seeds and veins from the peppers if you don’t like it spicy, but it’s the spiciness that really brings the dish together (otherwise it’s a lot of just sweet and salty). We even used spicy peanuts, but we are kind of insane about spicy food. We used Fresno chili peppers – if you can find Thai chilis that would be ideal, but serranos would work just as well (get an extra one or two though since they are small). We served this with a quick and delicious Thai omelet (traditional Thai street food made with fish sauce and black pepper in the eggs, with cilantro and Sriracha on top – really tasty!). It was like Bangkok in our kitchen; almost as humid too, but with no underage prostitutes…that we know of. Enjoy!
Som Tum (Thai Papaya Salad)
2 tomatoes, diced
1 cup bean sprouts
2 red chili peppers, stemmed and chopped
1 ½ tablespoons fish sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
2 scallions, coarsely chopped
2 cups shredded green papaya
1 ½ tablespoons sugar
¼ cup cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped peanuts
Combine the garlic, tomatoes, chili peppers, and bean sprouts in a large bowl; add fish sauce, lime juice and sugar. Add the papaya and mix well. Add the scallions and 1 tbsp. of the peanuts; stir to combine. Top the salad with the remaining peanuts and the cilantro. Eat!
We at the MHK experienced a revelation a few weeks ago when we discovered that, at the right time of year, you can eat raw corn, straight off the cob. And it’s sweet and juicy and delicious. Who knew? Nobody from CA I’ll wager. It has to be fresh, and luckily we are surrounded by farms here in Upstate NY, so the markets get the good stuff for a few months in the summer. This recipe showcases the corn’s natural sweetness, by complimenting it with tomatoes and basil, and contrasting it with salty salami, tangy quick-pickled onions, nutty parmesan, and spicy red pepper flakes. We based it on a recipe from here; it’s a tasty salad perfect for picnics and backyard cookouts. Enjoy!
Raw Corn Salad
½ cup thinly sliced red onions
2 tbsp. white vinegar
1 ½ tbsp. salt
4 medium ears of corn, husked, silks removed
2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
2 tbsp. olive oil
¼ tsp. black pepper
10 thin slices sopressata salami (or other salami), coarsely chopped
¼ cup shredded parmesan
Put the onion slices in a bowl with the vinegar and salt. Let stand for 10 to 12 minutes. Cut the kernels off the corn cobs. Add the corn to the bowl and mix well. Add the tomatoes, pepper flakes, basil, olive oil, and soppressata. Mix lightly to combine. Sprinkle cheese on top. Serve and eat!
An Italian summer salad really hits the spot on a muggy evening; particularly this one, based on a recipe from foxnews.com. The freshness of the ingredients is key – tomatoes that are just ripe, a quality mozzarella, and prosciutto makes everything awesome, right? We used jarred hot banana peppers, but mild ones would be fine, if you are opposed to the spicy. You get sweet from the tomatoes and cukes, salt from the prosciutto, great texture from the cheese, a little bite from the peppers…it’s a tasty summer meal. Enjoy!
Italian Summer Salad
2/3 cup fresh unsalted mozzarella chunks Kosher salt 1 minced garlic clove, pressed to a paste with a little salt on a cutting board 1 Tbsp chopped banana peppers 1 1/2 Tbsp white vinegar 1 cup chopped cucumber 1 tsp red-wine vinegar 2 Roma tomatoes, roughly chopped 3 Tbsp olive oil 8 slices prosciutto, roughly torn
In a mixing bowl, lightly salt the mozzarella. In another bowl, combine the garlic paste, peppers, and white vinegar. Mix well and let everything sit for 5 minutes. Add the cucumber, wine vinegar, and tomato to a third bowl. Add the pepper mixture, olive oil, prosciutto, and mozzarella. Mix well. Eat!
Another heat wave is set to bake the Northeast this weekend, and here’s what we’ll be making for dinner. Nothing cuts through that summer heat like a fresh, flavorful salad. Grilled peaches are a marvelous thing – their sweetness becomes enhanced by the warmth from the grill, slightly caramelizing the sides of the peach wedges. This salad, from Working Mother Magazine, utilizes the grilled peach slices to balance the peppery arugula, and the creamy goat cheese binds it all together. The addition of the brown sugar on the peaches helps with the caramelization – make sure you use ripe peaches, but not so ripe that they are soft. They need some firmness to maintain their integrity on the grill. And if you have some extra peaches, grill them and save them for dessert – top vanilla ice cream with them and your tongue will thank you. Enjoy!
Peach, Arugula and Goat Cheese Salad
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar 2 firm, ripe peaches 2 tablespoons firmly packed light brown sugar 2 bunches arugula (about 2 cups), tough stems removed 2 tablespoons olive oil Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste 4 ounces fresh goat cheese, crumbled
In a saucepan over medium-high heat, bring ½ cup of the vinegar to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool. Cut peaches in half lengthwise; remove and discard the pits. Cut each half into 6 wedges. Place in a shallow dish, sprinkle with brown sugar, and drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons vinegar. Prepare a charcoal or gas grill. Brush and oil the grill grate or a vegetable-grilling basket. Arrange peaches on the grate or in the basket directly over medium-high heat. Grill, turning once, until grill marks appear, about 1 minute per side. In a large serving bowl, combine arugula and oil; toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Arrange peaches on top and drizzle with the balsamic reduction. Top with cheese to serve. Eat!
During our sojourn on the west coast, I took it upon myself to help with Christmas dinner, in the form of making a salad dressing (big task, I know). My first instinct was to make a simple vinaigrette, but as I began rummaging through the MHK-in-law’s pantry, I just began throwing things into the food processor, tasting and adjusting as needed, until I was happy with the results. The most unusual ingredient? Bacon fat. Not much, just a little, but I think it worked – I had cooked some bacon to crumble into the salad anyway, so it’s not like I went out of my way to procure bacon fat. It added some salty, smoky flavor to the dressing, and it seemed to go over well. Enjoy!
The MHK’s Pantry Raid Salad Dressing
(makes approx. 1/2 cup)
1 tbsp. bacon fat (somewhat cooled from the pan)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp. white vinegar
1/2 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. Cajun seasoning
1 tbsp. grated parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 tsp. lemon juice
3 tbsp. olive oil
Add all ingredients except the oil to a food processor. Pulse to combine. Slowly add the oil while processor is running. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Eat! (On a salad).