- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
- 1 tablespoon minced shallot
- 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh oregano
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 5-ounce packages mixed baby greens
- 1 medium fennel bulb, trimmed, very thinly sliced crosswise
- 1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 bunch red radishes, trimmed, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Whisk first 5 ingredients in a small bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in oil. Stir in oregano. Season to taste with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Return to room temperature before using.
Toss greens, fennel, onion, and radishes in a large bowl. Drizzle dressing over; toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Skip the Oil and the Sodium With These Easy Air Fryer Chicken Recipes
Our bet is that chicken is a weeknight staple at your house. And if that's true, then it's also likely that you (and your kids!) sometimes find that this go-to protein can become tiresome if it's served too frequently. The trick, then, is to rely on vastly different seasonings and sources of heat to change things up — and we've got you covered there. This collection of healthy chicken dinners can get you through two whole months without anyone feeling bored.
Transform this versatile diet staple into flavorful entrées fit for the whole family with the help of delicious seasonings, salsas, and sides. Whether you're looking for an easy sheet pan dinner or set-it-and-forget-it slow cooker recipes, we've got ideas for every appetite. And so many of these include heart-healthy veggies, beans, and whole grains for a well-rounded meal.
Skinless, boneless chicken can form the basis of any healthy eating plan, as it's an excellent source of protein that's low in saturated fat and high in the essential nutrient choline. Grilled or rotisserie chicken will contain less calories and fat than breaded or fried versions — not to mention other processed, red meats. Feel free to switch it up between chicken breasts, which have slightly more protein, and chicken thighs, which contain more iron. Both nutritionally dense choices belong in the rotation, no matter which type of diet you ascribe to. Ready for some menu ideas? Check out these must-try healthy chicken dinner recipes to revamp your weeknight meals, stat.
Spices, Scotland, Shiloh… and cheese. February 22, 2010
Silence Dogood here. For Valentine’s Day, our friend Ben surprised me with (surprise!) cookbooks. If, like me, you love cooking, I thought you’d enjoy hearing about them.
But first, a brief digression about the other thing OFB produced as a Valentine’s Day present: A bottle of my favorite liqueur, Drambuie. Drambuie is a Scottish liqueur that was apparently developed in 1745 for Bonnie Prince Charlie and which has been enjoyed by countless lesser beings, such as yours truly, ever since. (Their classic motto is “The spirit lives on.”) But when our friend Ben triumphantly produced the bottle, I thought he’d bought a knock-off by mistake. That was definitely not the classic Drambuie bottle, brown glass with a shape as ancient and dramatic as its origins. This was a plain old clear liquor bottle that could have held vodka or rum. Worse, until I picked it up, I thought it was, gasp, plastic. How the mighty had fallen! Tragically, it proved to be the real thing. The bottle had been redesigned, so the company claimed, to “reveal the unique golden liqueur” inside. Ha! How about, the bottle has been redesigned so it’s cheaper to produce and more of them will fit onto a store shelf. Give me back my brown bottle.
While I’m already off-topic, let me explain how our beloved black German shepherd Shiloh fits in to all this. (Fortunately, Drambuie has nothing to do with it.) Our friend Ben had somehow managed to find a Valentine’s Day card with a photo of a black German shepherd on it. At first I thought that, despite his true Luddite incapacity around anything technological, including cameras, OFB had somehow managed to Photoshop it. I mean, how likely is it that a greeting card company would decide that any sort of German shepherd was a good subject for a Valentine, much less a black German shepherd? But checking it out, it was a real honest-to-God Valentine from Shoebox/Hallmark. Kudos to OFB for pulling that off!
Now, back to the books. Back in the fall, I’d read a review of a new cookbook called Modern Spice: Inspired Indian Flavors for the Contemporary Kitchen by Monica Bhide (Simon & Schuster, 2009). It sounded like a must-get. Having long since abandoned any pretense of subtlety where our friend Ben is concerned, I clipped the review, handed it to him, and said “Next time you’re stumped for a present for me, I’d really like this.” At the time, I was hoping it might make an appearance for my birthday or Christmas, but it didn’t, and I eventually forgot about it. Meanwhile, poor OFB was carting the review around in his book bag all this time. And for Valentine’s Day, he not only got me Modern Spice, but Ms. Bhide’s earlier book The Everything Indian Cookbook (Adams Publishing, 2004). And, for something completely different, The New American Cheese: Profiles of America’s Great Cheesemakers and Recipes for Cooking with Cheese (Laura Werlin, Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2000).
The Everything Indian Cookbook is aimed at the beginner who’s just sticking a toe into the enticing, exotic ocean of Indian cuisine. It features 300 recipes, including (to quote from the front cover) Minty Potatoes in Yogurt Sauce, Malabari Coconut Rice, Spinach Lamb Curry, Sizzling Tandoori Chicken, and Almond-Coated Naan Bread.
But what I found most valuable about it were the pointers throughout the book to help the novice feel at ease with Indian cooking, from chapters on “Basics of Indian Cooking” (including techniques and a basic Indian spice pantry) and “Basic Recipes,” including the classic spice mixtures garam masala, tandoori masala, and chaat masala, plus homemade ghee (clarified butter) and paneer (Indian cheese), to tips and definitions scattered throughout. Tips include everything from “Deep-Frying Made Easy” to how to find and use dried fenugreek leaves and the proper techniques for cooking with cumin seeds. (“Cumin is never used raw.”)
The Everything Indian Cookbook is, admittedly, not something it would have occurred to me to buy. But I’ve really been enjoying paging through it. It has no photos and is not vegetarian—two drawbacks in my book—but it has tons of veggie-friendly recipes and others that can easily be adapted, and I’ve already learned plenty of things I hadn’t picked up from more beautiful and sophisticated Indian cookbooks. (My friend Huma, for instance, has told me a hundred times that the Indian dish I make with spinach and paneer is not saag paneer, but it wasn’t until I got this book that I saw that the dish with spinach is called paalak paneer, and that saag paneer uses mustard greens instead of spinach.) Highly recommended if you’d like to expand your culinary horizons.
Modern Spice is a whole different animal. To quote Ms. Bhide: “This book takes Indian cooking and translates it for our generation—this book embraces the intense, spicy Indian flavors but is not stuck on an artificial standard of authenticity that no longer exists even in India.”
As an intuitive cook, I completely approve of this approach, as long as it’s plainly stated upfront. To say that India, with all its diversity, has a “standard” cuisine is like saying that there is one style of cooking that characterizes my native South. Anyone who’s tasted the signature dishes of, just skimming, South Carolina, the Florida Keys, my home state of Tennessee, Louisiana, and South Texas will find little similarity between them, and little do they know how many variations play out in every region. Think about the endless variations of a single food such as barbecue or chili or even coleslaw (that’s just “slaw” to us Southerners) and you’ve said it all. Ms. Bhide’s point is well taken.
Modern Spice is full of useful advice, instructions, and tips, many gleaned from Ms. Bhide’s years teaching cooking classes and coming to understand what American amateur cooks need to learn. But it has a sophistication and range that picks up where a basic Indian cookbook leaves off. You won’t, as Ms. Bhide notes, find a recipe for mango lassi here. Nor will you find saag paneer or even paalak paneer. Paneer, yes, used in recipes such as Paneer and Wild Mushroom Pilaf, Paneer and Fig Pizza, Anaheim Peppers with Mint-Cilantro Chutney and Paneer, Papad Stuffed with Crab and Paneer. (As you can see, this book isn’t vegetarian, either, but again, has many veggie-friendly recipes.) I was deeply disappointed by the lack of photos—the book has only eight, stuffed awkwardly in the middle—but was charmed by the author’s essays, interspersed throughout, about her upbringing and food adventures. If you already know and love “classical” Indian cuisine in its many variations, Modern Spice is a must-buy.
Now let’s leave the world of spices and talk about cheese. As an avid cheese-eater, I have many books on cheese and cheese-making. I fantasize about learning to make my own cheeses. I also avidly read articles about American cheesemakers and fantasize about eating their luscious boutique creations. (Our friend Ben and I will very occasionally splurge on a handmade cheese by a local artisan, but normally fine cheeses are, like fine wines, alas, far beyond our budget.)
So The New American Cheese was the ultimate fantasy. This book won one of The IACP Cookbook Awards, and it’s easy to see why. It is photo-rich and breathtakingly beautiful. It tells the story of the evolution of cheese in this country and profiles 80 of the foremost American artisanal cheesemakers at the time of its publication.
And the recipes are to die for: Bruschetta with Fig Puree and Blue Cheese Teleme, Squash, and Onion Galette Mozzarella and Roasted Mushroom Panini Mixed Beet and Crottin Salad with Walnut Oil and Lemon Dill-Lemon Greek Salad Blood Orange, Fennel, and Feta Salad Pistachio-Coated Goat Cheese Rounds on Mixed Greens with Nut Oil Vinaigrette Pizza with Blue Cheese, Butternut Squash, and Fried Sage Leaves Polenta with Wild Mushrooms, Fontina, and Aged Cheese Green Garlic Risotto with Cauliflower, Pancetta, and Fromage Blanc Lemon Parmesan Risotto with Asparagus and Cheese Enchiladas with Lime-Tomatillo Sauce. There are also tantalizing meat-based main courses, like Grilled Pork Chops with Cheddar-Corn Spoonbread and Apple-Sage Chutney sides like Fennel, Apple, and Celery Root Gratin and Lemony Artichokes with Feta and Oregano and dessert classics like (of course) cheesecake and apple-Cheddar pie, as well as more innovative desserts.
One thing (among many) that charmed me about The New American Cheese was a delightful chapter devoted to upgrades on classic American comfort foods, from French onion soup, mac’n’cheese, Cobb salad, and fondue to Welsh rarebit, grilled cheese, cheeseburgers, classic Iceberg lettuce with Maytag blue cheese dressing, and shepherd’s pie. This cookbook is a must-have for anyone’s shelf, for the recipes alone but especially if you want to really learn about cheese and cheesemaking.
In case you’re wondering why I’m torturing you with the concept of all these recipes and not giving you any, every one of these books threatens dire consequences if any of their content is reproduced in any way. Sob! You’re on your own, I’m afraid. I can’t afford artisanal cheeses now, and would really rather not contemplate the prospect of eating “Government Cheese” behind bars. (Just ask Martha.) But perhaps I’ll write a post soon that provides you with my own distinctive recipe for saag—I mean, paalak—paneer…
Sunday, November 20, 2011
Or when I find a way to serve cauliflower that my children like.
Cauliflower has been a hitherto spurned vegetable in our house. I use it only every now and then, aiming for a very gradual sixteen presentations or however long it takes kids to like a vegetable. A year or so ago I did this with broccoli over the course of two weeks, but now I'm slower at these things.
I first made this cauliflower salad a month or so ago, much to my children's disgust. Yet my eight year old has learned that it is easier to eat the small portion required of her than to have a big argument and be made to eat the food anyway, so she looked at the cauliflower, sighed, picked up her fork, and et it – then looked up surprised and had a little more.
But her five year old sister has not yet learned that resistance is futile. As her father placed a small portion of cauliflower on her plate she, as usual, let out a big wail. It sounded like someone had just deliberately dropped an anvil on her foot – there was a clear note of betrayal amongst all the pain and anguish.
We offered our usual measured response ('hush now, just have a bite'), to which she responded with further wails at which point I, lovely mother that I am, snapped 'just eat the damn thing'. She gave one last sob, then took a tiny nibble, looked surprised, and et the lot. 'Delicious,' she said, serving herself some more then she leapt from the table, ran to the kitchen, grabbed a small container and packed extra for her school lunch the next day while we all looked on speechless. Then she yelled at someone else for polishing the rest of the salad off.
At such a moment I am torn between exasperation and triumph. Why, I wonder, does she need to shriek like a steam train? – especially when it turns out she likes the food!
Anyway, I've made this cauliflower salad once or twice since then, just to consolidate, and each time it has been demolished at dinner, and extras taken for school lunch. It's the sort of salad that sits quite well in the fridge for a few days. You can always add a few more olives and capers, or a dash more vinegar, to sharpen the flavours.
While it's a bit late for cauliflower in Melbourne, there are still a few local ones floating around. See what you can find.
- 1 medium sized cauliflower
- 1 decent sized carrot
- 3 anchovies
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 tbs red wine vinegar or to taste
- 1 tbs capers, drained and rinsed
- 1 handful kalamata olives (about 20)
- 5 or so stems continental parsley
Put the kettle on to boil.
Peel the carrot and slice it into rounds about the thickness of an English pound coin, that is about ⅓ cm thick. Break or chop the cauliflower into roughly even sized florets, whatever size feels natural.
Pour the boiling water into a saucepan fitted with a steamer. Drop in the cauliflower and the carrot and steam for 6 minutes. Check to see whether they are done: you should be able to slip a knife into the thick part of the vegetable. If not, give them another minute or two. Remove them from the heat.
While the vegetables are cooking, chop the anchovies very finely. Now, using the flat of your knife, smoosh those finely chopped anchovies against the board until they are paste. Scrape up the paste and put it into a bowl. Add the olive oil, vinegar and a pinch of salt and mix very well I use a small whisk.
Using the base of an espresso cup, press against each olive until it splits, then slip out the pit. Tear the olive into one or two pieces.
Scrape the dressing into a shallow platter. Tumble the cauliflower and carrots on top of the dressing along with the olives, capers and parsley. Mix with your hands until the dressing has been well distributed and all is glistening.
(Local: cauliflower, parsley, olive oil. Not so local: carrot, olives, capers, anchovies, red wine vinegar, salt.)
ONE OF MY favorite spaces in the world was our 3-by-10-foot vegetable garden in the backyard of our house in Amritsar, planted and nurtured by my grandmother and me. Aromatic Holy basil, mint, squashes, cilantro, vibrant juicy tomatoes, tangy lemons. I took real pride in my hand-grown herbs and vegetables that I so lovingly tended to each morning and every afternoon when I came back from school. The thrill of rushing home, sometimes with a stolen seedling root pulled out secretly from a neighbor’s unattended garden to be replanted in my tiny garden—my own, my very own corner of paradise, which I called the Temple of Pearls.
I would sit there and see the most beautiful transformations happening every moment. When I would shell a pea, it contained green gems when I would cut an okra, white rubies would fall on my palm. Sometimes when I saw a squash that had grown high on the rooftop and we had not noticed it was drying, beautiful pearls of life for the next season would be contained within. During winter, wherever I saw mustard growing, I would immediately support it by tying it with a thread to the stick I dug into the ground next to it. The mustard flowers would shine with the reflection of the winter sun. I even grew fenugreek once, and after four months or so it had diamond-shaped yellow seeds sprouting slowly. Nature has its own way of expressing its glory.
The whole process of waiting and watching the seedling slowly break out through the soil, and then the eagerness to finally see its little flowers and fruits, was a delight in itself. One summer morning, years ago, I was woken up by my sister Radhika whose face was glowing. It’s here! she said with a twinkle in her eyes. In a flash, I was out of bed and both of us ran out to the garden. Panting, we stopped right in front of the tomato plant and there it was—a small, tiny, perfectly round green tomato. For us, it was the best day of the year and the smiles didn’t leave our faces all day.
Crowning moments were when freshly plucked mint or perfect ripe tomatoes from my garden made their way to our family table. My chest would overflow with emotion as I oversaw the dinner service with my Biji. handing out second helpings, proudly reminding everyone that the potato curry tasted extra special that night as the cilantro garnish was from my vegetable garden. At the same time, though, when I sat down to eat, the spoon never seemed to reach my mouth. Just the thought that I was about to consume something I had so lovingly grown and nurtured with my own hands made me sad. Thus, the best days of the year were always followed by the worst days and then the plants would bear fruit and the world would be a happy place again.
Every Sunday, I would make my way to the markets shopping for home or for my Banquets—Lawrence Gardens, where the farmers of Punjab would gather, bringing with them an abundance of freshly harvested fruits and vegetables. Those were the days when we would still cook and eat as per the season. Today, in a seasonless world of vegetables and fruits, I sometimes miss the anticipation of choices gifted by the seasons. There is a certain pleasure in eating the vegetables in season—the glistening, firm, and juicy produce gives an extra boost of flavor and color to the recipes we cook.
I suppose it was my small vegetable patch while growing up that gently established my deep connection with Mother Earth—it asks so little of us and in return showers us with its gifts and promises. It inspired me to cook wonderful feasts, to bring natural and combined flavors together with elegant ingredients, give them center stage and design a recipe. As I mix and match the familiar with the unfamiliar, at times I conjure up new taste combinations, a flavorful twist. Other times I simply rely on the tried and tested recipes and techniques handed down over generations.
In present times, all fruits and vegetables are available all year round in many parts of the world, thanks to the technological advances in cultivation and preserving techniques. There is only a handful of produce that can really be called seasonal. This does lead to a greater choice in ingredients at any given time.
Vegetarianism has always been an integral part of the Indian culture, and nowadays is becoming the preferred choice of health-conscious diners. People everywhere are looking to incorporate more vegetables in their meals. In addition to the repertoire of traditional classic vegetarian recipes, there will always remain a need for a taste of something new, something different.
While I was growing up, vegetables were the center point of dining and buying vegetables was a big social event. The vegetables vendor—a small, thin fellow with a booming voice that didn’t match his appearance—would come calling out to the Aunty ji to come sample his latest produce.