a refreshing and hearty salad: savoy cabbage, organic chicken with satsumas & sesame-ginger dressing {aka chinese chicken salad}!

how to make a good quality delicious chinese chicken salad at home in less than 30 minutes:

minette's chinese chicken saladthe night before super bowl sunday my daughter decided to have her friends over to watch the game. she asked me if i could make some fun stuff to eat for the gathering, and before i could open my mouth in response (my mind was already going a million miles a minute with great ideas) she reminded me this was a group of teenagers, and they’d want at least some foods you’d typically expect to eat while watching the big game. okayyyyy. such as, I asked? “can

photo 5

you make chicken wings”? she says- – hmnnnnn. not really? she decides she needs to make some calls for feedback, and i decide that no matter what, we’ll need to have a {semi-healthy} salad on the menu. i’ve been craving a good home made “chinese chicken salad” for a while, so it’s first on the list without hesitation. the rest of the  choices eventually comes together like this: chips and home made salsa, amazingly delicious home made ribs courtesy kristen’s dad (wow wow wow), chicken wings (thanks to the frozen section at whole foods) with organic cut celery and ranch dressing, ken’s delicious home made onion dip (must ask for the recipe) with chips, (did i mention my huge bowl of crunchy yumminess of a chicken salad?), a selection of cheeses with sliced baguettes,

superbowl party

getting ready…

chocolate and vanilla cupcakes, mini brownies, homemade cookies, macaroons….i’m almost embarrassed to go on….we were feeding a group of hungry teenagers-what can i say? i had so little time to put it all together that i took a few shortcuts with my salad-it was so easy to prepare and a big hit!

baked sesame ginger chicken breasts

baked sesame ginger chicken breasts

  • 1 small savoy (or nappa) cabbage, very finely sliced
  • 1 romaine or iceberg lettuce, thinly sliced
  • a bunch of organic green onions, thinly sliced
  • a good sized bunch of fresh organic cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 whole organic roasted chicken, meat (mostly the white meat) removed and finely sliced-or, use this recipe to make the sesame ginger chicken breasts at home, then slice them up
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • 3-4 mandarin oranges (satsumas), peeled and sliced, then separated
  • fried wontons (you can buy these or fry them at home rather easily)
  • toasted sesame seedsphoto 1

for the sesame-ginger dressing:

  • 3 tbs vegetable oil (i used avocado)
  • 2-3 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1-2 tbs seasoned rice vinegar (adjust amount if necessary)
  • 1 tsp lime juice (freshly squeezed)
  • 1-2 tbs soy sauce or liquid aminos
  • a good chunk of grated ginger (use microplane)
  • toasted sesame seeds
  • 1/2-1 tsp cayenne pepper (for spicy)
  • a pinch of sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • if you like it on the sweeter side, add 2-3 tsp raw honey

whisk all the ingredients together, taste and adjust quantities, then add to salad and toss just before serving. crunch.

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a fresh look at barley: a deliciously grainy salad with mint & feta cheese

cooking minette's barley salad with mint and feta cheese

i’ve always thought of barley in terms of a soup ingredient, as in the thick and creamy barley soups my grandma used to make on cold winter nights. she cooked the barley for so long it almost melted into the soup before folding in freshly chopped chives and a squeeze of lemon juice (or a small spoon of red wine vinegar). once in a while, just to make it extra delicious, she would also add a dollop of cream or a small chunk of sweet butter (come to think of it, i’ll have to make barley soup to share here soon). the other day i was exploring one of our local korean markets, walking down the aisles like a kid in the candy store when i came upon the huge selection of grains and beans: many varieties of rice (including a sweet brown rice i’ll be exploring soon), mung beans, red beans, and to my surprise,  a lot of barley in small & large packages, whole, rolled, organic, and not. the package i finally settled on has a lovely picture of fluffy barley in a bowl served like rice. last night I finally had the opportunity to make the salad i’ve been imagining since i brought home my bag of barley. i cooked it until it was just tender with a nice bite to it, and the rest of the salad came together easily based around ingredients i had on hand. it tasted just as I had imagined it would: chewy, grainy, fresh, and super satisfying-go ahead, try it-you won’t be disappointed!

ingredients for  4-6 servings of barley lentil salad:

cooking minette's barley rice salad

  • 1/2 cup small lentils
  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • 1 small shallot (or about 1 tbs finely minced)
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint (set aside a few smaller leaves)
  • 1-2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp turkish red chili (pul biber) or red pepper flakes
  • sea salt & freshly ground pepper
  • 3-4 tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice (or sherry vinegar)
  • 3-4 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large ripe tomato, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup french feta cheese (crumbled)

rinse the barley in cold water, then cook (simmer) in a medium saucepan with plenty of water for about 30 minutes until tender (but still with a bite to it). cook lentils the same way, until tender and fully cooked. drain both grains and add to a bowl while still hot. add oil, shallots, lemon juice, sea salt, black pepper, and cumin. stir well, and allow it to cool off. when cool, add fresh herbs, red pepper flakes, and tomatoes, stir, then add feta cheese and stir again. taste and adjust seasoning to your taste, sprinkle with fresh mint leaves, then serve.

barley and lentil salad

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cooking minette’s italian wedding soup

how to make a delicious gluten free italian wedding soup {sort of} with lots of yummy meatballs and baby kale:

gluten free italian meatball soup with organic meatballs & baby kale

what do you do when you find yourself with a huge bag of beautiful organic baby kale you couldn’t resist buying at the store? you think about all sorts of ways you might use said kale in foods and salads before it goes bad (we’re talking a HUGE bag). if you’re me, for some odd reason, you think about a steaming hot bowl of italian wedding soup loaded with luscious meatballs. and then you go from there-starting the meatballs by combining a few simple ingredients in a bowl: organic (grass fed) ground beef, thinly sliced scallions, chopped italian parsley, sea salt, pepper, a touch of smoked paprika (just because), and just a hit of chick pea flour (or corn flour). once you’ve rolled the little meatballs and added them to a pot of sizzling minced onions in olive oil, you are almost there. it’s been cold out there this winter (in most areas of the world)-take heart: this soup truly warms you inside and out. better start rolling those meatballs!

ingredients for 4 servings of minette’s italian wedding soup:

  • cooking minette's meatballs for soup1 pound organic ground beef (or turkey)-preferably 7% fat only
  • 1 medium to large onion, finely chopped
  • a bunch of scallions (green onions) finely sliced (6-8)
  • a small bunch of flat leaf parsley, finely minced (about 1/2 cup)
  • sea salt & pepper to taste (for salt, per bon appetit: as a rule, about 1 tsp per pound will make for perfectly salted meatballs)
  • 2-3 tsp chickpea flour (or corn flour)-some might add breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika (optional) or cayenne pepper for spicy
  • 2 medium ripe tomatoes (roma tomatoes are good) finely cubed
  • 1 lemon, freshly squeezed
  • 1.5-2 cups of organic baby kale (adjust amount to taste, or substitute with spinach if you prefer)
  • 1/2-1 cup italian gluten fee (or your choice) orzo
  • 3 cups preferably homemade beef or chicken broth
  • 1-2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • good freshly grated parmesan cheese
  1. cooking minette's gluten free italian wedding soupmake the meatballs by combining meat, scallions, 2/3rds of the parsley, sea salt & freshly ground pepper, smoked paprika, and chick pea flour in a bowl and mixing by hand (use gloves)-the light touch of your hands incorporates all the ingredients without crushing the meat. don’t over-mix into a paste–full pieces of ground meat should still be visible. add a few teaspoons of water if necessary. gluten free orzo for souproll little balls (bite size is best for soup) out of the mixture and set aside on a plate.
  2. heat the oil in a dutch oven, add onions and fry on medium high heat for 2-3 minutes before adding the meatballs carefully and allowing them to brown on one side (medium heat) before turning them carefully to brown the other.baby kale in soup
  3. when the meatballs and onions are browned, add 3-4 cups of water and three cups of broth, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and allow the meatballs to cook for about 15-20 minutes.
  4. add cubed tomatoes (or stewed tomatoes from a jar) and simmer for another 15 minutes.
  5. add the orzo and allow it to cook until they plump up and become tender, then add the remaining parsley and the kale. add a little more broth to the pot if necessary, then cook for another 15 minutes. add the lemon juice (to taste) before serving. taste and adjust seasoning.
  6. sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan cheese.
  7. buon appetito!cooking minette's italian wedding soup

 

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my noosi’s dill herbed rice {شوید پلو} with black-eyed peas {loobia cheshm bolboli}: shevid polow

 

persian style dill herbed rice with blackened peasas soon as i saw the beautifully green bunches of fresh dill at the market i knew what i wanted (or almost had) to make with them. dill-herbed rice, or shevid-polow as we call it in farsi. dill is one of my absolute favorite herbs i can never resist buying when it is in season looking all fresh and darkish green and beautiful. i love the scent it creates and leaves in my kitchen as i chop it, and the slightly different aroma that surrounds me as it steams away with the basmati rice. [talking

black eyed peas and rice

about scents and aromas reminds me of a side note: this post on the lovely perfume blog kafkaesque references mine on baghali polow, another dish loaded with fresh dill]. as with most my food obsessions, i first fell in love with dill in my grandmother’s kitchen in Tehran-it seems to me she was always chopping herbs-or maybe i was so often around when she did, because i loved watching (and smelling) her doing it so much. it was the way she bunched them tightly together with one hand while gracefully slicing them ever so thinly with the other. she was a true expert with the knife. and so many other things. thinking back on it, hers was not a sophisticated kitchen with many fancy gadgets-but trust me when i tell you some serious magic happened there. and boy was i lucky to be a small part of it as taster/assistant/taster/observer/taster in chief.

finely chopped dill even though i didn’t fully realize it then, she was constantly, indirectly, and deliberately teaching me things every time i was with her.  i can hear her voice in my head: sharing, reminding, cautioning, praising, cautioning some more. one of the dishes she taught me was shevid polow layered with her favorite beans: black-eyed peas, or “cheshm bolboli” (translates to parrot eyes for obvious reasons). It is the type of absolutely delicious nourishing dish that reminds you of all good things and fills you with pure (stomach) contentment. well worth the work and the wait.

how to make shevid polow  {for 4-6}:

  • making persian rice with herbs2-2.5 cups finely chopped fresh dill (remove the thicker stalks, wash, allow dill to dry, then chop)
  • 2-3 cups basmati rice, washed several times in water until it runs clear
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1-2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1-2 tsp toasted cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp dry rose petals (optional)
  • 1 tsp ground saffron
  • 1-1.5  cups black-eyed peas, cooked (soak overnight and cook until just tender)
  • sea salt to taste (and for boiling the rice)

persian steamed rice with herbs

    1. bring a big pot (non stick) of salted water to boil (about 6-8 cups). add washed and drained basmati rice. allow it to come to a rolling boil and  keep the heat on high for about 7-9 minutes. turn off the heat and drain the rice in a mesh colander. wash with cold water and allow it to drain. also see this recipe for inspiration.
    2. add about 3-4 tbs of vegetable oil, 2-3 tsp of water and 1/2 of the ground saffron (or 4-6 saffron strands seeped in hot water) to the nonstick pan. heat together for 1-2 minutes on high. remove from heat and add a thin layer of rice, followed by a generous layer of dill and black-eyed peas (see pictures above). sprinkle evenly and lightly with cumin seeds, sea salt to taste, and cinnamon. (with your hands or a spatula) carefully combine everything together as you go.
    3. repeat this process until your ingredients are used and you have created a “dome” or pyramid of layers. top with remaining saffron and a generous sprinkle of cinnamon, cumin seeds, and rose petals. drizzle with another 3-4 tbs of oil (using a slotted spatula to evenly distribute) and about 1/4 cup of water.
    4. cover the pot first with a paper towel or clean dishtowel and then tightly with the lid. Heat the pot on high for about 8-10 minutes (stay close to the pot)-this will help create the favorite crispy rice (tag-deeg) at the bottom of the pot. reduce the heat after 10 minutes (at most) to med/low and allow the rice to steam for another 45 minutes to an hour. serve with saffron braised chicken, veal or lamb shanks and a shirazi salad (tomatoes, persian cucumbers, green onions, mint, lime juice, olive oil, sea salt & pepper).

shevid polow tahdeeg

 

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