Archive for the 'spinach salad' Category

07
May
12

Sunday Roast and blue cheese.

After 6 remarkable years of Trader Joe’s, Panini Presses, immersion blenders, and culinary self discovery in NYC, I’ve hopped the pond to experience a new city and its charming ingredients. I’ve relocated to London for the next few years! Bring on the High Teas, Sunday Roasts, and radishes, y’all!

a rare moment of self reflection

But first, a moment of reflection. I moved to NYC knowing little more than how to navigate through a Better Homes and Gardens cookbook, and my prize recipe was a tuna casserole I proudly topped with Baked Lays and a generous serving of honey mustard dressing. Apparently, I went through a Midwestern phase in college? Come to think of it, I was making said casserole when I went through my Vince Vaughn phase, so that all adds up…

Anyways, I’ll forever be grateful for what New York taught me in terms of food. I ate in all the best restaurants, consumed an impressive amount of Food Network on the weekends, and cooked exclusively with Whole Foods and Farmer’s Market ingredients, so it’s safe to say I nearly peaked in terms of culinary ability.

Nearly is the operative word, here.

My next chapter is one filled with porridge, Yorkshire pudding, and shedloads (I’m a Brit now – mind the slang) of tea, and I’m confident I’ll flex more cooking muscles than I knew existed. And, believe me, I’m culinarily ripped.

Since I’ve arrived, I’ve done my best to go lady-balls-deep (see what I did there?) into the native cuisine, so that began with a Sunday Roast. It’s the equivalent of a Sunday brunch here, but more dudes are apt to join since you replace a $20 egg dish with a £15 dish of the meat of your liking (i.e. leg of lamb, roasted chicken, aged beef, pork shoulder, or fish), and it comes with roasted vegetables, roasted new potatoes, gravy and Yorkshire pudding. It looks like this:

Sunday roast

And it’s typically served with anywhere from 1-5 Guinnesses (Guinnei?) No, you say? That’s entirely optional? Well, I don’t care to experience it any other way.

Yorkshire pudding, for those who are unfamiliar, is that giant crusty popover looking thing to the left of my chicken. It’s alright, although I’d prefer if it weren’t such a misnomer. Say “pudding” and I’m bound to want something gooey.

Now let’s switch gears for a minute and discuss the sweaty side before we cover what British-y meals I’ve made so far in my temporary flat. I toured two gyms my first day here, assuming I’d go into London the same way I went into NYC – staking my claim on a treadmill before I had an apartment or job and considering the gym central to my daily mental health and happiness. As I was price comparing the two, though, I realized that the gym and exercise are not one in the same. I decided to hold off on the contract for now, and in turn encourage myself to be creative with my workouts. Maybs that will curb the resentment I occasionally develop towards the gym? We’ll find out.

For now, I bought a jump rope (or “skip” as they say in the UK) and have been jumping every other day or so. I then do some planks for my arms and core and tricep dips if I feel like showing my wings some more love. I’ve already gone to 3 dance classes in the week I’ve been in London, and the one I went to today was a total arse-kicker. I’ll be back. I may start doing yoga also, because with my Skip in my home I can get my cardio on whenever I want and have the freedom to take non-sweaty classes away from home. I’m SO into this idea.

Today, I went to the grocery before the aforementioned arse-kicking hip hop class (which they actually call “hip pop”..adorable), and I stocked up on some English staples. I got some carrots, radishes, an English cucumber, and blue cheese, and got to work chopping for a little salad I threw together:

Ingredients:

English Salad

4 c baby spinach
1/2 English cucumber, sliced
1/4 c radishes, sliced in half lengthwise
1/3 c English carrots, sliced in half lengthwise
1 oz creamy blue cheese
1 tsp honey
1 tbsp grainy mustard
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

I started by slicing the carrots, radishes and cucumbers, and placing on top of the bed of just washed spinach. I then dolloped the blue cheese all over the salad, because I’ve decided to develop a taste for the stuff all “When in Rome”-style, and I love it already. While my bed of veggies was complete, I whisked together the grainy mustard, honey and olive oil for a thick dressing to drizzle on top. I then finished the whole dish with salt and pepper and devoured. Pretty legit.

I also couldn’t get over how adorable my English ingredients looked on my cutting board. Just the cutest little veggies I ever did see.

I still haven’t quite figured out how to work the oven or microwave, and I left my Panini Press with its affinity for American voltage with my friend Ryan in NYC, so I’m pretty limited to the stove top these days. I went with one of my go-tos tonight with a British twist, so I made kale and tofu with blue cheese.

English cutting board

Ingredients:
4 c kale, chopped
1 yellow onion, sliced
1/3 package of tofu
1 oz creamy blue cheese
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 lemon, juiced
salt and pepper, to taste

I started by heating the olive oil on medium heat in my skillet. I sliced the onion and tossed that into the oil. I cooked until it was translucent, and then I chopped and added the tofu to the skillet. I’m still adjusting to an electric stove after cooking with gas for 6 years, and I realized it would take approx a lifetime to get my tofu anywhere near golden. That’s typically how I like my tofu, but I was ravenous so I only cooked them for a few minutes. I then added the rinsed kale, and cooked that with the onions and tofu for about 5 minutes until wilted. I finished the dish with the lemon juice and dollops of melty blue cheese. Highly recommended. See below:

kale, onions and tofu with blue cheese

05
Feb
12

jump rope and sliders.

Can we discuss the jump rope? I just rediscovered it. I was a fan in elementary school, but as soon as double dutch became the norm I decided I was more suited for hopscotch. On my own time, I started making time with the Skip It, the higher tech version of the rope. Nearly 20 years later, I saw one of my co-workers using a jump rope to do cardio at the gym. I took a breath, grabbed a hot pink rope, and started skipping. It’s now become my favorite supplementary cardio! I get my lengthy cardio in on the treadmill, bike or stair stepper, but then I’ll jump for like 3-5 minutes. It’s so damn whimsical.

On the spicy side, I made this delicious brunch for myself last week:

Ingredients:

poached egg over greens

1 egg, poached
1 c brussel sprouts, sliced
1 c spinach
1 shallot, sliced
1 tbsp Parmesan cheese
olive oil cooking spray
salt
pepper

 

It’s nothing revolutionary, and in fact mimics most of my weekend meals, but I thought the picture came out purty so I had to share.

I started by bringing a pot of water to a simmer for my poached egg. Once the water simmered, I dropped the egg in with a splash of vinegar. It takes like 2-3 minutes to form, and after I scooped it out to dry on a paper towel. Meanwhile, I heated cooking spray and the sliced shallots in a skillet. Once the shallots started to brown, I added the sliced brussel sprouts. I cooked those for about 5-7 minutes, and eventually they began to brown up also. I then added the spinach, cooked until wilted, and seasoned with salt and pepper. I added Parmesan to the top, and topped the whole mix with the egg. So. Damn. Good. Highly recommended.

I also made this salad last week of which I was particularly proud

salmon salad

Ingredients:

Wild Coho Salmon fillet, frozen, thawed
1 tbsp cannellini beans
1 c grape tomatoes, sliced
1 pear, diced
2 c mixed greens
1 tsp olive oil, olive oil spray
1 lemon, juiced
1 tsp smoke flavored seasoning
Salt
Pepper

 

I started by seasoning the thawed salmon with lemon juice, smoke seasoning, salt and pepper, and then put it on the Panini press. Although the fillet was relatively thick, the salmon cooked all the way through in about 5-7 minutes. Meanwhile I grilled the diced pears and cannellini beans, since ice-cold beans always terrify me. I assembled all ingredients on a plate, drizzled with olive oil, salt and pepper, and ate.

I ate that all last week. It’s so filling, since the salmon is all fatty and whatnot. And yet the veggies keep it healthy. Delightful.

I’ve been watching the waistline, but it hasn’t stripped me of all creativity. I made these awesome sliders a couple of weeks back that I evolved from an Ina Garten recipe. See below for the ingredients, separated by burger and toppings:

Burger:

Ina Garten

1 lb ground beef, 80% lean
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
¾ tsp herbs de Provence
½ tbsp whole grain mustard
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper

Toppings/sides:
1 vidalia onion
2 c spinach, ¼ c wilted
1 gala apple, sliced
1 tsp Vidalia onion vinagrette with gorgonzola
5 oz polenta, sliced into fries
1 tsp cumin
olive oil cooking spray
whole wheat slider bun

You start by mixing together the burger ingredients in a large bowl. Mix evenly with a fork, taking care not to break up the ingredients. I then formed them into approx 15 golf ball sized patties. Pinch the middle, since the burgers puff up when they grill. I then cooked on the Panini press, which I sprayed down with the cooking spray. I grilled for about 4 minutes on one side, and then flipped to do the equivalent on the other.

Meanwhile, I heated a skillet with cooking spray and began to carmelize the onions. For those of you who have yet to carmelize, it basically just means cook for about half an hour on medium-low heat until the sugar starts to come out. It’s delightful.

While that was happening, I cooked the polenta fries in a skillet in a baby amount of oil. Once they were somewhat crispy, I topped them with the cumin and salt. Perfetto.

I then sautéed ¼ c of spinach in the skillet for the burger, and I left the rest raw for my salad. I assembled the spinach, apples, and onion as a salad, and topped with a little Vidalia onion vinagrette. I then assembled the sliders with onion and spinach on top, and I then drizzled them with the vinagrette also. They came out SO GOOD. Seriously. Consider this horn tooted. How easy is that? Ha! That’s Ina’s catch phrase. See below:

slider topped with carmelized onions and spinach, alongside polenta fries and spinach salad

06
Jul
09

Ahi tuna.

My roommates and I hosted a rooftop bbq yesterday to celebrate 303 years of freedom from the Brits. Good thing we don’t have high tea and all that dry comedy, right? It’s such a relief. We made the most adorable patriotic foods. For instance, we had red cole slaw, blue terra chips, and I made a red and blue mixed berry dessert with homemade whipped cream. It was my first time whipping, and I must say, I whipped it good. It’s really the easiest thing in the world; mix 2 cups of heavy cream with 1/4 cup of sugar and a little vanilla extract, and whip with a hand-held mixer until stiff peaks form. People were pretty into it. I tend to behave like a fat kid at the school dance during dinner parties, so once everyone had their fill, I scooped up the remaining cream onto Baked Lays and really enjoyed myself. Don’t knock it.

True to form, I took not one picture of the event. I’m useless during group things. Due to my sub-par  photojournalism, I’ll have to focus on last week’s meals for the purpose of this entry.

It started with a massive Ahi tuna steak I bought for like $3.30 at Trader Joe’s. The only downside to TJ’s cheapass seafood is that it’s always frozen, so I had to defrost it in the microwave pre-searing. When I went to sear it in olive oil, the insides were pretty much cooked through. The end result was about 85% cooked tuna, 15% raw interior. So not ideal.

On the side, I chopped a couple of cloves of garlic and 1/4 a red onion, and sauteed in some butter. I chopped a bag of brussels sprouts in half, and tossed those into the mix. I was pretty brazen with the butter, so the apartment refrained from reeking of – for lack of a better word – butt, while I sauteed the sprouts. It was impressive. I added in about 1/4 cup of bread crumbs about midway through the sauteeing. About 10 minutes later, I served my tuna and sprouts alongside honey mustard and a slice of ciabatta bread. It looked like this:

tuna and brussels

tuna and brussels

It tasted like love, and also a little like Belgium. Weird.

Although I got up early today to work off my whole “eating with reckless abandon” thing I called the Fourth of July, I was still feeling guilty come dinner time. Actually, I hate to gloss over the morning after.

I woke up at 9ish and made some espresso, and I denied myself the little piece of bread and butter I usually eat to fuel the morning workouts. I headed off to the gym, and proceeded to run two miles, all the while watching Ina make some amazing looking buttermilk cheddar biscuits. I then did every arm and back machine ever, like, including the rowing machine which I kind of loathe. Then, I did CRUNCHES. Lots of them. Gross.

I thought about making risotto for dinner, but I decided that’s a dish best earned with good behavior. And I have basically been the kid who never does her homework and disrupts class, like, daily. No one rewards that kid. Instead, I made a little salad with some of the leftover tuna from the night prior. I started with spinach, and then added the tuna, some marinated artichoke, and white cheddar cheese. I then added balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper, and served with a teeny piece of baguette. It was no risotto, but I was actually pretty impressed with how it turned out. See below:

Ahi tuna salad with artichokes and white cheddar

Ahi tuna salad with artichokes and white cheddar




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