It's Secret Recipe Club time again! This month, I was assigned A Spoonful of Thyme. I enjoyed the story she tells about her grandmother and the pies, and how she talks about mealtime being an important bonding time. I can tell that family is very important to her!
I went in this month with a mission, because I was hosting a game night and needed an appetizer or snack. I considered this Zahtar Flatbread and these Bar Eggs, and was even distracted by a couple of desserts - Coconut Cream Bars and Poached Figs. But in the end it could only be the recipe that hooked me immediately - Cheesy Pull-Apart Bread. I'd seen this floating around the internet and hadn't tried it yet; this was the perfect opportunity!
I ended up going shopping at 1:00 AM (long story) and there was no working the bread counter. So when I saw that all of the crusty breads were pre-sliced, I ended up having to go with a baguette. It worked out okay, but I would have preferred a regular loaf. Anyway, cut the bread in a crisscross pattern (but not all the way through the bottom) and stuff with cheese slices. This is a bit of a process, but I found it relaxing - kind of like meditation.
Today is Secret Recipe Club reveal day! I was assigned Searching for Spice, written by Corina - a mother of two (I love the nicknames she gives her kids: Little Miss Spice and Master Spice). She loves international cuisine, making food from India, Mexico, North Africa, Thailand, and China. She prefers to stick to recipes that aren't terribly time consuming - like this Italian Chicken and Lemon dish, this Lamb Meatball dish, and this Chicken Pie. But sometimes, she will go for a more complicated recipe, too - like this Chicken Biryani and this Cassoulet with Confit Duck.
I ended up choosing this Korean Bulgogi recipe, because I just recently discovered Korean BBQ, and it is awesome! Bulgogi is definitely my favorite thing to order, so I loved that Corina had a recipe I could try. She served it with rice and lettuce to make wraps, I decided (inspired by my Spam dish) to make it a rice bowl, topped with a fried egg. It turned out great!
I had always thought that spam was super gross and never had any interest. But as I became more aware of the different cuisines of the world, I noticed that there were a few that really (REALLY) love spam. So when I saw spam musubi on the menu at my favorite local cafe, Megabytes, I decided to try it. You guys - spam is delicious! It's like ham plus bacon plus sausage all in one. I'm kind of obsessed now, like bought-a-case-at-Costco obsessed. No, processed meat is not good for you; but as a special treat in the place of bacon or sausage, it's not going to kill you (probably). Especially if you buy the low sodium kind, which I prefer.
Anyway, pressing musubi seems like a lot of work, and I am more of a freeform girl; so I decided to make a rice bowl for my first spam experiment. I cooked short grain rice and topped it with furikake seasoning, then seared spam, fried eggs, seaweed, scallions, and toasted sesame seeds. It. Was. Awesome. I wasn't sure that Jasper would be into it, but he loved it, too, and wants me to make it all the time!
Spam and Rice Bowl
1 1/2 cups dry short grain rice (I use Botan)
2 cups water
1/4 cup furikake seasoning (check your labels, not all furikake is gluten free)
1 can low sodium spam, sliced into 8 slices
salt and pepper
scallion greens, sliced
toasted sesame seeds
Combine the rice and water and cook according to directions, usually simmer covered for 20 minutes, then let stand for 10 (I use a rice cooker). Fluff with a fork and add the furikake seasoning, you can start with less and more to taste, if you wish. Set aside.
Meanwhile, sear the sliced spam on each side in a nonstick pan over medium-high heat. You won't need any extra fat, and you may have to work in batches. Set aside.
Pour out most of the fat from the pan, then return to medium heat and fry the eggs you your liking. I prefer sunny side up. Season the eggs with salt and pepper.
To assemble divide the rice among the desired number of bowls, top with the spam, then the eggs. Sprinkle nori, scallions, and sesame over the top. Enjoy!
One Year Ago - Lentil Salad with Walnuts and Herbs
Two Years Ago - S'mores Treats
Three Years Ago - Turkey and Sweet Potato Shepherd's Pie
Four Years Ago - Beef, Sweet Potato, Spinach, and Cheddar Turnovers
Five Years Ago - Couscous Dinners
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.
A friend of mine asked if I could put together a week of meals that are healthy, easy, and cost effective for a single working mother. I thought that sounded like a great idea! But I definitely underestimated how much work it would be. It's hard to make food for just two people without having a ton of leftovers - so to get a different meal in each night, I had to figure out how to use ingredients in multiple dishes. And I wanted to make sure that they were healthy, had a bit of variety, and took 30 minutes or less to put together. It's a tall order, but I think I managed. Each recipe is sized for two adults, and there is a shopping list included at the bottom of the post.
First up - Broiled Salmon with Mustard Butter and Boiled Potatoes and Green Beans. This meal is healthy, easy, and comes together in under 30 minutes. I am so in love with this mustard butter (that I discovered making this recipe), I make it all the time now. There are no grains in this dinner, and as far as starchy potatoes go, baby red-skinned are relatively low on the glycemic index. Plus - by cooking more salmon and vegetables than you need, you will already have the ingredients you need for dinner the next night. This meal comes first because fish needs to be cooked the same night that it is purchased for best quality.
The salmon is going to be one of the more expensive proteins for the week, but it is worth it because it is so good for you (not to mention delicious). Gotta get those Omega-3's! However, I do not recommend buying farm-raised Atlantic salmon as it is full of chemicals and pollutants. Instead, I recommend buying wild Alaskan or farmed Norwegian. The Norwegian salmon is pretty great and I can get it here in NoVA for around $15/lb, and coho goes for $13/lb (versus $29/lb for king salmon, yikes!). If you absolutely cannot swing Alaskan or Norwegian salmon, buy another type of fish instead (cod, halibut, or tilapia would be good).
For our second dinner, we use the extra ingredients from the previous night, plus a few more, to make Salmon Nicoise Salad. The only thing you have to cook for this dinner is hard boiled eggs, and you can do those in advance if you like. Boil more than you need, because we will use some in another dish. Like the previous night, this meal is grain-free and loaded with healthy fats. You can see how big one serving is in this photo - I ate the whole thing, Jasper only ate half of his. So if this is too much food for you, plan to set aside half of it for lunch the next day. It should travel well, just keep the dressing separate.
This is actually the most expensive meal of the week (if it is making 2 servings, and not 4), so the kind of greens you use will matter. I used mache or lamb's lettuce, which I think is really delicious. But there are definitely cheaper lettuces/greens out there. A note on olives - nicoise olives are traditional, but expensive, so feel free to sub kalamatas, which taste very similar. You could even buy jarred kalamatas to save even more.
Hello, Spring! I am so glad that you have finally come to stay! I'd like to welcome you with this lovely little tart made with fresh peas, creamy homemade ricotta, scallions, herbs, and lemon. Please stick around for a bit.
Well, Spring, I know that fresh English peas are kind of your thing, so I used them two ways just for you! I pureed some peas and ricotta together with lemon juice, mint, and basil to make a creamy spread. Then I mixed some whole peas with scallions, more mint and basil, and lemon zest.
I baked some puff pastry until golden, puffed, and crispy; then I spread the creamy ricotta mixture over the top; and sprinkled the whole pea mixture over that. Look at all that green!
It's time for another vegetarian lunch with Melissa! This time we made a warm and creamy grain salad with veggies (kind of our favorite thing). This salad has farro, arugula, scallions, split peas, English peas, goat cheese, and chives in a citrusy dressing with orange, shallot, and Parmesan. So basically every delicious ingredient there is.
We made things easy by precooking the farro and split peas (you can do this a day in advance) and using frozen peas.
We tossed the farro mixture with a citrusy dressing, then folded in arugula and charred scallions, and topped with goat cheese and chives. Let me tell you about charred scallions - they are awesome. Super awesome. We were worried that the onion flavor would be overwhelming, but charring them takes a lot of that sharpness out and replaces it with sweetness.
My friend Melissa (at Smells Like Brownies) and I are trying to make our lunch date a weekly thing, so hopefully these posts will become more frequent. The last two times we made quinoa dishes, so we wanted to stay away from that this time. I saw this recipe for a broccolini and feta galette that looked yummy, but thought it might be even better on puff pastry like this broccoli rabe tart. I suggested this to Melissa, who agreed it sounded delish, and she decided to attempt making the puff pastry herself!
I was super impressed that she was willing to take that on - brave woman! But she said that it wasn't as difficult as she thought it was going to be, so I may have to try it myself. I mean, it was pretty freaking delicious. I believe she used this recipe, and I will add a link to her blog when she posts about it.
So, we pressed the beautiful dough into a pan (through we probably should have used a bigger one, as the crust ended up being pretty thick), and layered it with blanched broccolini, feta, garlic, scallions, and pine nuts. Then we baked it at 350 until the crust was golden, adding some Parmesan towards the end. This took a while because the dough was a bit thick, but it was so worth it!
This is a super quick and easy weeknight meal that works any time of year. Orange zest and juice tie the kebabs and pasta together and the sweet and tangy sauce for the chicken is delicious. Couscous cooks ridiculously fast, but you could use quinoa instead if you have more time to cook. You could also add whatever vegetables you like to it to change it up.
I always see these beautiful steak pinwheels at the grocery store and was wondering if I could make them myself. It turns out that it isn't that easy - but stuffed with boursin cheese, spinach, and artichokes these sure are tasty! I paired them with a pasta using up the last of a big batch of homemade ricotta, spinach, and golden raisins.