Kale, Mandarin and Avocado Salad

Kale, Mandarine and Avocado Salad

Kale, Mandarin and Avocado Salad

I have over-indulged!  Way over.  I imagine there are any number of people saying the same thing about now.  Don’t we ALWAYS over-indulge during the holidays?  And we’ve got only the first one behind us.

I’ve eaten too much sweet potato casserole, stuffed myself with stuffing, picked at one too many pieces of pecan pie. I’ve done the peppermint stick ice-cream.   It was delicious, but it’s over.

Stomach, I’m going to be nicer to you,  because you deserve a break.   Before I start making cookies, I’m making a salad.  This is going to be so good, you’ll be thanking me all over the place.  So, hang on to your hat.

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A salad  begins with greens, right?   And what’s the most popular green in town?  Kale!   Yes, kale, chopped up nice and fine, raw and crunchy.  Next we add some romaine, also chopped up nice and fine, also crunchy.

Cut up the greens nice and fine.

Cut up the greens nice and fine.

To sweeten up this deal we’re adding clementine or tangerine.  Grab and peel those babies.

Avocados go in next;  for color, for fat nutrients, for creaminess…..oh heck, just put them in because we love them, and they love to hang out with citrus.  Bright and juicy meets soft and creamy.

Avocado + Citrus = True Love

Avocado + Citrus = True Love

Last, we sprinkle in some toasted sesame seeds because we need something to get stuck in our teeth to embarrass us later. If you want to leave them out that’s okay,  you can still go ahead and walk around with kale stuck in your teeth.

To soften the kale, you can rub it with a bit of olive oil and salt….that’s called a kale massage….a totally normal thing to do.  If you find baby kale you can skip this step.  My supermarket is now carrying baby kale.

Once the kale is massaged, make the dressing.  The dressing ingredients go into a small jar.  They consist of rice vinegar, sesame oil, honey, soy sauce and pepper.  Add in a tiny bit of minced garlic if you’d like.

 

These become the dressing.

These become the dressing.

Now tighten the lid, and start shaking.   Shake, shake, shake like mad.  That’s it.  Done.

Toss dressing with salad.

Toss dressing with salad.

Toss some with the salad, and as it gets tossed together the orange segments may split open and the avocado may mash a bit making these two elements a lovely addition to the sesame dressing.   Adjust seasoning with additional salt and pepper as needed.

Now’s the time to grab a fork and dig in.  Your stomach will thank you.

Do yourself a favor, take a break today with a salad this good.

Do yourself a favor, take a break today with a salad this good.

KALE, MANDARIN AND AVOCADO SALAD

Yield:   Serves 4 as a side salad

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups clean and well-chopped kale
  • 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 cups clean and well-chopped romaine lettuce
  • 2 tangerines or clementines, peeled and divided into segments
  • 1 ripe avocado, sliced
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. sesame seeds
  • 3 Tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • fresh pepper and coarse salt to taste

Instructions:

1.  Place kale in a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil and a pinch of salt.  Massage the oil and salt into the kale.

2.  Add the romaine, tangerines, and avocado to the bowl.

3.  Sprinkle with the sesame seeds.

4.  In a small jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine the vinegar, sesame oil, soy sauce, honey, and pepper.  Place the lid on the jar and shake vigorously until emulsified.  If you don’t have a jar, whisk the ingredients together in a small bowl until well combined.

5.  Drizzle the dressing over the salad.  Toss to combine.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and enjoy!

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SOURCE:   adapted from The Joy of Baking

Grilled Hoisin-Glazed Steak with Vegetables

Hoisin-Glazed steak with grilled vegetables and salad.

Hoisin-Glazed steak with grilled vegetables and salad.

I imagine many families will be gathering around the outdoor grill this weekend to celebrate Father’s Day.  Whether Dad is the one doing the grilling or you’re the one grilling a meal for him, this quick and easy way of cooking steak results in a piece of meat that is tender, juicy and full of flavor.  Along side it on the grill lay some of your, or his, favorite vegetables and you will have most of the meal at your fingertips.  While the grilling is taking place, have someone on kitchen duty making a salad to go with it, and before you know it everyone will be sitting down together to celebrate Dad in the best possible way.

The glaze on the steak calls for hoisin sauce, ginger, and fish sauce, giving it an Asian flair, so I kept that theme going in the meal I prepared by using green and yellow squash, brushed with a little sesame salad dressing as they cooked.  For a salad I made cucumbers and radishes dressed with rice vinegar, sesame oil, and soy sauce.  The recipes for making this complete meal are given below.Whether you make all of it or only part of it, I think you will enjoy it as much as we did.

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HOISIN-GLAZED STEAK 

Yield:   Serves 4

For the steak:

  • 3 Tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon grated, fresh peeled ginger
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce  (This adds a rich, savory flavor to the glaze, but it’s OK to omit it if you don’t have it on hand.)
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1  (1-pound) flank steak, trimmed; or any other tender cut of steak  (I used boneless rib eye steaks)

1.  Preheat the grill to high heat.

2.  Combine hoisin and remaning ingredients ( except steak) in a small bowl.  Brush half this mixture on one side of the steak(s).  Place steak glaze-side down on the hot grill rack and grill about 5-7 minutes.

Lay steak on the grill glazed-side down.

Lay steak on the grill glazed-side down.

Brush top side of steak with remaining glaze mixture and turn steak over.  Grill another 5 -7 minutes or until desired degree of doneness.

Brush top side of steak(s) and turn over.

Brush top side of steak(s) and turn over.

For the Vegetables:

  • 1 medium size zucchini squash
  • 1 medium size yellow squash
  • 1 bottle commercially made sesame salad dressing

1.  Slice the squash lengthwise into 1/4-inch thick slices.  Brush both sides of the squash with the salad dressing.

Squash slices on the grill.

Squash slices on the grill.

2.  Place squash slices directly on hot grill rack or use a fine mesh cooking screen if squash is in danger of falling through the grates.  Cook squash, turning over several times, until nicely marked and just fork tender.

Squash cooked on the grill gets lovely grill marks on it.

Squash cooked on the grill gets lovely grill marks on it.

For the Salad:

  • 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon lower-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 cup cucumber, sliced finely on the diagonal
  • 1 cup finely sliced radishes
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley, or cilantro leaves
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

1.  Combine vinegar, sesame oil, and soy sauce in a medium bowl;  add cucumber and radishes.  Sprinkle with parsley or cilantro and salt.  Toss gently to coat.

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SOURCE:  Adapted from  Weeknight Grilling with the BBQ Queens

Kohala Tuna Steaks

Vacations are long anticipated, and over too quickly.  We are now home again refreshed, renewed and ready to pick up where we left off. I had so made food-related adventures that I’m anxious to tell you about, that I don’t know where to start.  I guess the logical place is at the beginning.

Our destination was the eastern shore of North Carolina, where I have family.  On the day of our arrival our host was out deep-sea fishing with friends.  When he came home he brought a selection of fish he and the guys had caught, one of which was tuna.  The next day we cooked it, grilling it in a smoker.       This was my first experience with cooking in a smoker.   We searched through several books on smoker cooking and decided to try this recipe for a mildly flavored marinade so as not to overwhelm the tuna.  It was a good choice.  The butter and sesame oil kept the fish moist and buttery and the acidic flavors of lemon and  rice vinegar and the bite of ginger kept it all in balance.  The flavor of the fish was incredible;  slightly smoky, and falling apart tender.

KOHALA TUNA STEAKS

YIELD:  4 servings

KOHALA MARINADE

  • 6 Tablespoons butter, preferably unsalted, melted
  • 6 Tablespoons Asian-style sesame oil
  • 6 Tablespoons rice vinegar
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons peeled, minced fresh gingeer
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 1 crushed tiny hot red chile (optional)

4 tuna steaks, each about 1 inch thick

1/4 teaspoons coarse salt, either kosher or sea salt

soy sauce for serving

DIRECTIONS

1.   Soak wood chips of your choice for about an hour prior to smoking.   We used apple wood chips.

2.  Prepare smoker for barbecuing, bringing temperature to 180 to 200 degrees.

3.  In a shallow pan or baking dish, mix the marinade ingredients.

Place the tuna steaks in the dish and turn to coat both sides with the marinade.  Allow to sit at room temperature for 20 -30 minutes, turning the steaks several times.

4.  Heat a skillet over high heat and sprinkle in the salt.  Drain the tuna steaks.  Sear the steaks quickly on both sides.  Before you smoke meaty fish steaks, such as tuna or swordfish, it helps to sear them quickly over high heat to seal in their juices and add a light crust.

5.  Transfer the steaks to the smoker.  Cook the tuna to desired doneness, 20 – 25 minutes for medium-rare.  Avoid over cooking the tuna. Serve hot with soy sauce.

Suggested go withs:  Mix up a salad of thinly sliced snow peas, carrots, water chestnuts, and napa cabbage or bok choy tossed with a vinaigrette made with Asian-style sesame oil and rice vinegar;  we served this with twice-baked potatoes also.  Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post.

Wine go-withs include pinot gris, chenin blanc, sauvignon blanc, crisp whites or a fruity reisling.

SOURCE:    Smoke and Spice,   by Cheryl and Bill Jamison

Maple-Soy Chicken Thighs

I don’t know of a food more universally well-liked or commonly eaten than chicken.  We certainly eat it quite often.  For that reason I feel the need to have a large variety of recipes featuring chicken.  Whenever a new one comes along that looks interesting I try it out.  The recipe in todays’s post is a new one for me that I took for a walk around the kitchen this weekend.  It turned out quite well, and was tender and tasty.

Maple-Soy Chicken Thighs

The preparation of this dish is simple:  mix up the marinade ingredients in a plastic zip-lock bag,  add in the chicken pieces,  marinate for at least an hour, then oven bake or cook on the grill. The marinade provides a nice flavor of maple mixed with the typical asian ingredients of  soy sauce,  fresh ginger, and sesame oil. A little crushed red pepper flakes gives it some “punch”.  This recipe will be a keeper in my file for chicken dishes.

MAPLE-SOY CHICKEN THIGHS

SERVINGS:   4

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2  cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 2 Tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon peeled, grated, fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 bone-in chicken thighs ( I had a package of mixed drumsticks and thighs )
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons sliced green onions

1.  Combine first   7 ingredients in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk.  Place in a large zip-top plastic bag.  Add chicken thighs to the bag and seal.  Marinate in refrigerator  at least 1 hour.

2.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees or prepare grill.

3.  Remove chicken from bag, reserving marinade.  Place marinade in  a small sauce pan over medium heat;  Bring to a boil.  Cook until marinade reduces to 1/4 cup (about 5 minutes).  Arrange chicken in a single layer on a foil-lined  baking sheet,  or place on grill.  Baste with the maple mixture,  sprinkle evenly with salt.  Bake chicken at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.  Turn pieces over, baste again and continue cooking for another 15 minutes or until chicken is done.  Same procedure for cooking on a grill.  Before serving, sprinkle with green onions.

To complete this meal I served fresh green beans and couscous, adding some orange sections and sliced almonds to the couscous.   This, along with a glass of our favorite chardonnay, was a most enjoyable dinner in deed.  To finish it off in grand style we had home-made peach ice-cream.   Dee-lish!  I’ll be telling you about that tomorrow.

SOURCE:  Eating Well

Glazed Chicken and Szechuan Noodle Salad

Would you believe I have spent all summer (until now) without a gas grill?  How is that possible you might ask?  Ours simply refused to light when we took it out of storage in the Spring.  My husband took it all apart, cleaned all the parts, refurbished the burner with new parts, put it back together and it still wouldn’t work.  Dang!   So while everyone else was having their cookouts, or talking about the great foods they cooked on their grills I was feeling totally left out, not having anything to contribute to that conversation.

Last weekend we finally got a new grill, all in pieces, in a HUGE box.  The nice guys at the big orange store brought it out and put it in my car for me, but I was dreading the task of helping to put it together.  But surprise! it was so simple.  The directions were clear, made perfect sense. and all the screws were even pre-installed so we didn’t end up with any extra parts.  This grill is just like having a gas stove on my back deck instead of in my kitchen.   We celebrated the new grill and how smart we were to put it together by grilling a steak for dinner that evening.  It was a very good steak but not especially blog-worthy.  (I like that word.)

My post today is about my first real effort to cook something a little jazzier on the grill; Glazed Chicken Thighs.  Since the recipe for the chicken contained some ingredients found in Asian cuisines, I paired it with another recipe I had for Szechuan Noodle Salad, and also included Sesame Broccoli.  This, then, is my complete menu.  It can be prepared in about 30 minutes.  While the grill is heating coat the chicken in the glaze mixture.  Grill the chicken.  Keep the chicken warm in a low oven, and cook the noodles and steam the broccoli. Season the noodles and broccoli and serve.

GLAZED CHICKEN and SZECHUAN NOODLE SALAD with SESAME BROCCOLI

SERVINGS:    4

INGREDIENTS–CHICKEN

  • 1 Tablespoon grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 3 Tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon lower-sodium soy sauce
  • 8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • cooking spray

INGREDIENTS–NOODLES

  • 6 ounces uncooked udon noodles (thick, fresh Japanese wheat noodles), or whole-wheat linguine
  • 1/4 cup bottled Szechuan sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon creamy peanut butter
  • 2 teaspoons lower-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 cup matchstick-cut carrots
  • 1/2 cup matchstick-cut green onions

INGREDIENTS–BROCCOLI

  • About 1 pound broccoli, trimmed and cut into florets
  • 1 Tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 1 Tablespoon dark sesame oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

PREPARATION

1.  Preheat grill to medium-high heat.

2.  Combine fresh ginger, hoisin sauce, lime juice and olive oil in a large bowl.  Add chicken, toss to coat.

3.   Place chicken on grill rack coated with cooking spray.  Grill, about  4 minutes/side or until done.  Remove from grill, cover and keep warm.

The chicken could also be cooked indoors on an electric grill, or on the stove-top in a grill-pan.

4.  Cook noodles according to package directions.  Drain well.  Combine Szechuan sauce, peanut butter, soy sauce, and lime juice in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk.  Add noodles, carrots, and green onions; toss and serve with chicken.

5.  For the broccoli:  Add water to a saucepan to a depth to 1-inch.  Add broccoli florets, bring to a boil and simmer for 4-5 minutes until crisp-tender.  Place broccoli in a medium bowl.  Add the sesame oil and sesame seeds,  kosher salt and  black pepper. Toss well.

SOURCE:   Cooking Light   for both Glazed chicken thighs and Szechuan noodles.