The Secret Recipe Club may be over, but the Fantastical Food Fight is just beginning! Instead of being assigned a blog, secret Santa style, we are given a theme (similar to the Improv Cooking Challenge that I also participate in). For our first month, the theme was deviled eggs - yum!
I knew that I wanted to do a fun take, and while I looked at Caesar Salad, Curry, Mexican Street Corn, and Crab Rangoon variations, I was really drawn to a Smoked Salmon idea. Filled with the flavors of a traditional Lox bagel, this twist is as delicious as it is pretty.
When I was assigned Melissa's blog last month for SRC, I was reminded of all the recipes of hers that I had been wanting to make. And I couldn't get my mind off of this warm potato salad with roasted broccoli and an egg vinaigrette. That vinaigrette is called "sauce gribiche", which I had never heard of before. Melissa says, "It’s an eggy French vinaigrette, apparently friends with mayonnaise, that is made from hardboiled eggs, oil, vinegar, capers, and fresh herbs." Sign me up!
First step - roast the potatoes and the broccoli. Why do I only have a photo of the potatoes? I don't know. Melissa used purple potatoes, which looked gorgeous. I couldn't find any, though, so I used red.
Meanwhile, boil the eggs. Hello, lovelies!
These started off as peanut butter and jelly, I'm not even kidding. Melissa (Smells Like Brownies) and I had been having a bit of a rough week and hadn't planned anything for our weekly get together. So that morning we just wanted to keep things simple and focus on getting our cats to be friends (long story). We were thinking - let's just make PB&J or store-bought ravioli.
But then - she said she was craving salmon, and I said smoked salmon and goat cheese with crackers was easy and good, she said what about nice bread and an egg. Then there were herbs and kale and shallot and good lord we can't keep it simple! And I wouldn't have it any other way. Fresh, gorgeous ingredients (including some from Mel's garden) turned into a lovely lunch for us, even while wrangling a baby, a toddler, and 2 kitties in an un-childproofed house (mine).
For this month's Secret Recipe Club, I was assigned Oh! You Cook! (Which is such a cute name.) In addition to writing the blog, Dena has also authored The Everything Kosher Slow Cooker Cookbook - how cool is that?! As you can imagine, her recipes are kosher, but that doesn't mean that you have to be in order to enjoy them!
I was, of course, very interested in the Challah Bread Pudding, and a couple of other desserts including Blueberry Pudding Pie, Raspberry Custard Pie, and Almond Rice Pudding. But I really wanted to make something savory. I loved that she had several recipes that used pomegranate molasses, and ingredient that I love and am always looking for uses for. And the Picadillo Meat Loaf and Honey Mustard Chicken looked very weeknight friendly.
But in the end, I chose the Orecchiette with Veal, Capers, and White Wine. It looked so good (and easy) that I couldn't pass it up.
Start by sauteing onion and garlic, browning the veal, then adding the white wine and allowing it to cook out.
Everyone knows that crab legs go perfectly with drawn (melted) butter, especially if it had lemon and garlic in it. But what do you do if you are craving that combo in a lighter dish? Melissa and I decided to make a quinoa salad incorporating those flavors, along with fresh avocado, to keep things nice and light. Yum.
Step 1 - acquire crab legs. I got a pretty good deal on pre-cooked king crab legs at Costco.
Step 2 - remove crab meat. This was both thrilling and frustrating. I felt compelled to extract every last shred of meat from those suckers - not an easy task, but very rewarding. This will take a while, so start cooking your quinoa in the meantime (Step 1.5? 2.5? I give up). We used a 3:1 mixture of white and black quinoa because we thought it would look pretty (we were right), you can use whatever you like.
Now that I am settling into my new place, and Melissa has welcomed her baby daughter to the world, we are getting back into our lunch schedule. We started with this gorgeous Spring inspired egg salad. This is really customizeable, and you can add whatever you find fresh in your area.
We started by finely dicing some celery, scallions, chives, parsley, and dill while we boiled some eggs. You can use whatever combination of herbs you prefer. We also separated the greens from a bunch of radishes.
To that, we added chopped eggs and avocado, caper, garlic, lemon zest, mayonnaise, and dijon mustard.
It's been a while since I've posted a Smells Like Brownies & Well Dined vegetarian lunch team-up recipe, what with holidays and traveling and all. Now I return to you with this delicious flatbread made with hearty whole-wheat dough, tender brussels sprouts sauteed in brown butter, creamy goat cheese, and salty Parmesan and capers. So good.
We called it a flatbread instead of a pizza simply because the toppings seemed more along those lines, and they were a bit loose and not glued down by cheese. But it doesn't really matter what it is called.
I think brussels sprouts got a bad rap in the 80's when everybody was boiling them to death, gross. But when they are roasted until they caramelize or shaved thin and served raw - yum. Here we saute them quickly in some brown butter and toss them with goat cheese and capers - double yum.
Lots of freshly grated Parmesan goes on top (plus more when it comes out of the oven). It's just beautiful.
Here's an idea for you for a quick meal or party food - smoked salmon, creme fraiche, capers, and chives on naan bread. Fast, easy, delicious, fun, but still elegant.
I actually made this two ways as sort of an experiment - one by heating the naan (on a pizza stone), then adding the toppings.
The second one I made by putting the ingredients (except for the chives) on first, then toasting it on the pizza stone. I was surprised to find that I liked this version better! I had never heated smoked salmon before, so I wasn't sure how it would turn out. But the flavor became rich and buttery and all the ingredients melded together.
I like the idea of naan as a topping conveyor. Small enough to be individually sized and already cooked, all you need to do is add toppings and heat. I bet it would be super fun to set up a make-your-own-pizza night this way, and kids would love it!
The other day, I was perusing Red Apron Butchery and saw that they had marrow bones. I LOVE marrow, but I had never made it at home before. It was time to fix that! You might be interested to know that while marrow is made up of fat, it is largely unsaturated; plus it has lots of vitamins and minerals like iron and Vitamin A, and it has been shown to boost the immune system!
Now you actually want to soak these bad boys in salt water overnight to draw out the blood. It's not going to kill you or anything if you don't, but it won't taste as good.
Then you just pop them into a hot oven and roast for 20 minutes. You could just sprinkle it with coarse salt and eat it with a spoon, I wouldn't blame you. But if you want the full experience, spread it onto some toasted challah bread and top with a tangy parsley salad to balance out the rich fattiness. Prairie butter, poor man's foie gras, pure heaven - whatever you want to call it, this stuff is delicious decadence.
Roasted Bone Marrow
8 3'-4'-long pieces beef or veal marrow bones (cut lengthwise or crosswise, doesn't matter)
1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
2 small shallots, thinly sliced (about 1/3 cup)
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp drained capers
Coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 1/2-inch thick slices challah or rustic white bread, toasted
To remove the blood from the marrow, place the bones in a bowl of ice water with 1 tsp coarse sea salt per 1 cup water. Refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours, changing the water every 4 hours and replacing the salt each time. Drain and refrigerate until you are ready to cook the marrow. Be sure to use it within 24 hours or freeze the drained bones for up to 3 months.
Preheat the oven to 450°. Place bones in an ovenproof skillet or roasting pan - wider cut side down for crosswise, cut side up for lengthwise. Roast bones until marrow is soft and begins to separate from bone but before it begins to melt, 15-20 minutes, depending on thickness of bones. Sprinkle with sea salt.
Meanwhile, toss parsley, shallots, oil, lemon juice, and capers in a medium bowl to coat. Season salad to taste with sea salt and pepper.
Serve bones with toast and parsley salad. Use a long, thin spoon or knife to scoop marrow onto toast and top with salad.