Beet and Orange Salad

This salad is simple and unexpected. Perfect in beauty, flavor, and nutrition. The acidic fruit balances nicely with the distinctly sweet beet flavor. A little red wine vinegar, olive oil, fresh mint, and orange zest bring it all together.

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Sangria

I’m really big on customer service. I don’t mean that I need people surrounding me all the time, filling my glass of water after every sip, and folding my napkin across my lab when I return from the bathroom. I find that awkward actually. But its nice when you really enjoy a place not only for the food but also for the staff.

We once were patrons of Romano’s pizza, but they ruined a trust we had spent over a year building. We went almost every Thursday. When we would enter the restaurant there would be a bottle of our favorite wine waiting for us at our regular table. One night last summer, after ordering our usual, Elmer brings us the check. The price of the bottle had increased almost doubled, yet we were not informed. We expressed our disappointment that he didn’t at least inform us of the change before opening the bottle. We haven’t returned since. (We’re good at grudges).

La Boqueria de Barcelona Viva has in some ways replaced Romanos. While we can’t afford to go there as frequently, it holds a special spot in our heart, mainly because of Oscar, our waiter. We went to La Boqueria for the first time last year for my birthday. Actually the day after my birthday, because on my actual birthday I had to work. (And it was a Saturday. Yes I’m still bitter.) So Hec took me out the next day. Oscar waited on us, bringing us complementary pan tumaca, made some recommendations on his favorite menu items, and didn’t bother us every second asking if we wanted to order something else when we just came for the sangria and marinated mushrooms. Since this first wonderful expereince, we continued to come back. Usually just for the sangria and pan tumaca, although on special occasions we’ll order the lechón, paté (for Héc, not me!), or one of their unique desserts such as pears in cognac. But even though we don’t always spend $50 (usually its well under $20), Oscar greets us with a huge smile, is glad to see us, and even gives away little cooking tips. He told us what was in the sangria, and also how to prepare pan tumaca. At another Spanish restaurant we visited (thinking it was the same everywhere) we asked the waiter how they prepare the sangria (we didn’t want to pay a lot for wine-flavored juice). “Sorry,” he told us, “it’s a secret of the house”. Which to us meant it was boxed cooking wine with grape juice and sliced up apples and oranges. And thats certainly what it tasted like. We had to order another cup of wine to mix in to the pitcher to take the edge off the sweetness.

When we asked Oscar if the sangria was sweet, he basically recited the recipe, verifying for us that it was not just grape juice. He told us the liquors used, approximate amounts, and the fruit juices. I was surprised, to be honest. We went home immediately and experimented. While it is never the same as at La Boqueria, it is always good…sometimes even better that at the restaurant.

Now Sangria is not an exact science, although I would say it can be an art. (Asá). Use the things you like, and it will turn out delicious. Thats all we do. If you want it light, use less alcohol, add some sparkling water. If you want it heavy, up the brandy and gin. Go white, go red. If you just have rum and nothing else, go for that too. This is what Oscar told us, and this is generally how we base our recipe:

Oscar’s Sangria

Ingredients:
1 bottle wine (we just use a cheap drinkable something red).
2 oz brandy
2 oz gin
1/2 to 1 cup juice (orange or pear are yummy)
1 cup diced fruit (citruses are great, ripe pears, berries, ect)
1/2 lime, sliced

Directions:
Mix all together and let sit at least over night. Sometimes we let it sit a couple days. The fruit really absorbs the wine, and makes a nice snack at the end of the pitcher.

Baked Goat Cheese

Baked Goat Cheese - Breaded

Goat cheese always reminds me of my friend Peggy. It would be her way of treating herself after a great accomplishment, or perhaps just a long hard week. She would bake it in the oven in a bed of marinara sauce, and sco0p it up with fresh bread from a local bakery. I was always impressed with how decadent it appeared, yet how simple it was to prepare. It’s been a year or so since I’ve watch her make her creation, yet I’d never made it myself. But what better way to unwind with something rich and indulgent (yet surprisingly healthy) and so simple to prepare?

Baked Goat Cheese - EnteroBakes Goat Cheese - SlicedBaked Goat Cheese - MarinatingBaked Goat Cheese - On Cracker

When I saw this recipe I was reminded of my friend — and so, nostalgic, we went to the store and bought some to prepare. It was simple, yet you can make it more involved if you like. I chose to marinated it, as David recommended, in a little olive oil and herbs. When we were ready to eat I quickly dredged the slices in some homemade breadcrumbs (although store-bought pre-seasoned works just as well if you’re in a rush) and stuck it in the oven for a matter of minutes. Served with a warm tomato sauce and on some nice toasty bread or homemade crackers, a delicate bed of greens — it is a simple, decadent meal on its own, or it can be an appetizer or accompaniment to your main course. Now that I’m working and much too busy to spend hours on recipes, this will become a semi-frequent staple for those nights we want something special.

Baked Goat Cheese

Ingredients:
6 oz Soft Fresh Goat Cheese

Marinade (optional):
2 teaspoons fresh chopped rosemary
2 teaspoons fresh chopped sage
Fresh ground pepper
Dash of Salt

Bread Crumbs:
2 slices day old bread, crumbled (should make 1/2 cup)
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary (minced)
1 teaspoon fresh sage (minced)

Directions:
1. Prepare the marinade. Mix salt, pepper, rosemary, sage, and olive oil in a dish to marinate. Slice goat cheese in 1/2 thick disks and place in the marinade. Cover and refrigerate up to 2 days.

2. Toast bread crumbs. Crumble the bread finely. Mix with 1 teaspoon olive oil until just coated. Season with salt and pepper. Toast in oven at 400ºF for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Mix with chopped herbs.

3. Bake. Preheat oven to 450ºF. Remove cheese from marinade, allowing excess oil to drip off. Dredge in bread crumbs and place in oiled baking dish. Bake for 10 minutes, or until cheese starts to ooze out a bit. Serve on fresh toasted bread or crackers.

Ginger-Spiked Yogurt Tart with Coconut-Sesamee Seed Crust

Ginger Tart - Baked with Toppings

I love ginger. It has been sitting at the top of my favorite things list for quite some time. My favorite tea which I drink nearly every night before bed, is ginger. And I love when I find recipes that allow me to use ginger in a new way. Growing up I have had ginger cake, ginger snaps, and ginger bread men – all utilizing dried and ground ginger. But the flavor of fresh ginger, and the extra zing it delivers, I find more satisfying than the dried spice. This light, delicate, yet simple tart really features the fresh flavor of the ginger root. Of course you can leave out the ginger and use berries or orange zest, but when you can get the health benefits of ginger in dessert that tastes like this, why would you?

Ginger Tart - Ginger WholeGinger Tart - Pressing Ginger

Ginger Tart - CrustGinger Tart - Baked Crust

And this tart is really simple. As simple as making chocolate chip cookies – and perhaps even simpler beacuase you only need to make one batch (or you can do a few tiny tartletts if you have the cute little scalloped-rim dishes. That would be adorable). Its as simple as smushing together the crust, whisking together the filling, and baking for a half hour or so. And you’ll know its done because the filling won’t jiggle. It’s as simple as that. I believe the mystery to those fancy desserts has been solved: they’re not really that tricky after all. At least not this one.

The filling is sweet, tangy, and spicy all at the same time, accompanied by a crisp and buttery coconut-sesame crust: I have to say the combination is divine. This recipe is easy to cut in half, so if you wanna do a trial run before you commit yourself to a giant pie, go for it.

Ginger Tart

Crust:
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup toasted rolled oats
1/2 cup shredded coconut, toasted
3 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
2 tablespoons honey
1 stick butter, chilled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
pinch of salt

Directions:
Grease tart pan or pie pan. Pre-heat oven to 350ºF. Toast oats, sesame seeds, and coconut until golden, just about 3 minutes on high heat. Combine first all the dry ingredients. Combine the honey using a fork, and then add the butter, mashing with a fork until evenly combined. Press evenly into tart pan, making a 3/4 inch-high edge. Poke shallow holes into crust bottom. Bake for 5 minutes, and remove.

Filling:
1 cup natural plain yogurt, strained through cheese cloth so thick
2 large eggs
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon lemon/lime/orange/grapefruit juice
1 tablespoon zest of lime or orange
1/4 cup ginger juice
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (optional, for stronger taste)

Directions.
To make ginger juice, simply peed a piece of fresh ginger. Grate it on your box grated on the small side. Place the grated ginger in a lime juicer to squeeze as much of the juice out as possible.

Whisk together all the ingredients until smooth. Fill into partially baked pie crust. Bake for about 35-40 minutes at 350ºF, or until center is set.

Carrot, Apple, Ginger Slaw with Balsamic Marinated Peach

Apple, Carrot, Ginger Salad

Grated carrots and apples (i like more apple than carrot), tossed with freshly slivered ginger (about 1 tablespoon fresh) and a few slices of marinated peaches (one peach slivered thinly with 2 – 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar and 1 teaspoon sugar, overnight). Drizzle with a bit more balsamic vinegar (not too much), olive oil, a drop of sesame oil, and some toasted walnuts or slivered almonds on top. If you have the forethought to make this, really try the marinated peaches — they are glorious. The freshly grated ginger (yes, raw) is a must for this salad.

Curried Egg Salad

Curried Egg Salad - Sandwhich

I never liked egg salad. Remember Mom? I loved loved loved coloring hard-boiled eggs for Easter. When I was tiny it was the highlight of my spring, except for my brithday of course. The Easter Bunny would hide them, we would search around the yard, and Jon would always win. Always… I had fun anyway though. But unfortunately this happy even was the next day followed by <<ugg>> the egg salad sandwich on toasted english muffins. They would always ask me to try it, but it made me gag. It was the yokes. Maybe I would have liked it if it didn’t have yoke…or mayonnaise because I didn’t like that either. To think of it I liked none of those salads with mayo: tuna, chicken, egg.

Now I’ve grown up. But believe it or not, before this very day I had never eaten an egg salad sandwich. I can’t believe it either. Going through the archives of my favorite recipe blogs I caught the eye of this curried egg salad sandwich. Remembering that I now love deviled eggs (love love love), I figured, how could I not like egg salad? It’s essentially a bunch of deviled eggs mashed together and served on toast. Only reheating leftovers could have been simpler (and if we had them that might have been served…but we didn’t). It was a lazy day. (Yesterday we bought 3 pounds of squid and 5 pounds of tilapia, and in order to fit it in our freezer — which was overgrown with ice –I had to chisel it clean. And then I broke the freezer.) needless to say, I barely felt like dicing veggies. This was uninvolved but flavorful and satisfying.

Curried Egg Salad

Ingredients:
6 hard boiled eggs
1 small apple, diced
1/2 cup toasted walnuts
1/3 cup greek style plain yogurt
1/2 large red onion, sliced transparently thin
1.5 – 2 teaspoons curry (to taste)
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Fresh cilantro, torn — a few tablespoons, to your taste (parsley is fine too)

Directions:
Chop the eggs into 1/4 inch cubes and finely dice the apple and slice the onion. Toast your walnuts for about 3-5 minutes, and let cool. Roughly chop, but I like to leave the chunks rather large. Mix egg, apple, and walnuts together in a mixing bowl. Separately whisk together the yogurt, curry, and salt. Pour yogurt mixture over dry ingredients and stir using a fork. Slightly mash everything together, but not too much so the eggs provide some texture. Lastly stir in the cilantro. Serve on freshly toasted bread.

Good Things Happen When You Buy Too Many Beets: Beet Slaw Three Ways

There different versions with the same base: grated raw beets and carrots. The raw beets maintain more of there superpower nutrients than boiled or even roasted beets. And they are fresh and delicious. Besides how they stain my hands, I love how they make everything they touch fuchsia. People, give beets a try!

Beet Salads - Mint

1. Beets, carrrots, apples, grated. Red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper, freshly torn mint leaves- quite a bit of it.

Beet Salads - Cilantro Dressing

2. Beets and carrots grated. Cilantro-lime yogurt dressing (1/2 cup plain yogurt, juice of 1/2 a lime, 1/4 cup cilantro pureed). Salt and pepper to taste.

Beet Salads - Pepitoria and Queso Seco

3. Beets and Carrots grated. One tablespoon pepitoria (ground, toasted pumpkin seeds. Try sesamee seeds or sunflower seeds as an alternative, toasted and crushed a bit in a coffee grinder). One tablespoon queso seco (use finely grated parmesan or roman as an alternative). Juice of one lime. Toss to combine.