Foodie Tuesday: Freshness, with a Hint of Asia

For cold-weather refreshment, try a composed salad of roasted beets, fresh pears and sugar snap peas, dried apricots, ginger, rice vinegar, macadamia or avocado oil, elderflower syrup, chopped roasted salted peanuts or almonds, mint, and black pepper.

Served over Pad Thai noodles seasoned with a little tamari, it becomes a more filling meal. When you add a lovely piece of grilled or poached salmon (how about poaching it in—mmm—coconut milk?) or a succulent roasted duck breast to the plate, it becomes more elegant and yet more satisfying to a hungry guest.

Sake on the side might be a dandy tipple, or perhaps some apple cider (still, sparkling, unfermented or hard) is more to your taste.

Photo: A Hint of AsiaAnother version:

Salad of carrot-shred “noodles” dressed simply with lime juice, ginger syrup and a little avocado oil and sprinkled with plain sesame seeds.

A half-and-half mixture of Pad Thai rice noodles and bean threads, cooked in broth (my homemade chicken broth, in this instance) and dressed with a sauce of blended peanut butter (no additives but salt, please), fresh mint, Thai basil, and cilantro leaves, minced fresh ginger and a sparking of red chile pepper flakes. A little fresh lime juice squeezed over the top, and there you have it, a meal ready to eat that’s a fair sight fresher and zestier than, say, the MRE goodness our military friends get served. This combination works fine on its own as a light meal, or can have quickly cooked prawns or roasted chicken or fried tofu added for a boost in flavor, texture and protein as well.Photo: Fried Rice & Wasabi Eggs

Of course, there’s the old standby as well: fried rice is always easy and tasty. In the photo above, it had toasted almond slices and (barely visible) tiny shrimp, along with soy sauce and sliced water chestnuts, honey and shallots, and peas as tiny as the shrimps. It might be accompanied by something unique each time just to shake things up a tad and keep that sense of freshness humming. Wasabi-deviled eggs are a simple and welcome textural and flavoring pizzazz, along with the ubiquitous garnish we love, sushi ginger. As always, the ingredients I keep on hand may not vary widely, since we have our household favorites and limitations just like anyone else does, but it’s amazing how many variations can be made from different groupings and proportions of them and techniques for the dishes’ and meals’ preparations. Some things never really change!

Foodie Tuesday: Pears, Greens & Coolness

When the heat of late summer is dogging my heels and dragging me into doldrums, what I want to eat is something that can relieve that spiritual weight. Even a vegetarian delight can seem overly demanding of my metabolism and moods at such times, but that doesn’t stop me from being hungry. So, what to do that will be more satisfying nutritionally than eating an entire package of Popsicles? Create some inner relief with a light and juicy salad.Photo: Fresh Greens

My standard starting point for salad is generally some fresh green stuff. For a light and summery version, I love the sweet and fragile kinds of greens, perhaps some Bibb or butter or leaf lettuce, and even of those slightly meatier leaves that will give a bit of textural contrast and substance to the salad, I like the mild ones like mâche (lamb’s lettuce), chard (silverbeet), and beet greens. Some nice blend of several of those is refreshing and nutritious enough to make me feel virtuous but not overstuffed.Photo: Pretty Pears

I like to give the meal a little zip with some other green goodness, say some fresh mint and thinly sliced fennel bulb, sweet basil and chopped sugar snap peas. But I wouldn’t want to limit myself to entirely green things. I’d use some diced or sliced ripe, juicy pear as the starring feature of the dish, because that’s a favorite treat almost any time, any way. What goes nicely with a pear-green-refreshing salad? So many possible things. This time, I think, a melange of toasted pistachios, a chiffonade of garden-fresh pink rose petals (or day lilies  or a sprinkling of violets, borage, or lilac blossoms), and some finely shredded mildly nutty Jarlsberg cheese. Keeping in mind that the flowers must be chemical-free, of course. I’d dress this beauty up with a blend of avocado oil, sparkling Elderflower Pressé (I’m fond of Belvoir Fruit Farms‘ excellent elixir), lime juice, vanilla, a pinch of salt, and a dusting of cayenne pepper.

And then I’d stop sitting around, merely talking about it, and eat that salad. Appetite for light things or not, I get hungry.

Foodie Tuesday: The Journey of a Thousand Meals begins with a Single Spoonful

It is my intention to have a far, far happier thousandth day than that poor Anne Boleyn apparently did, and since my thousandth post occurs on this, a Tuesday, I will enhance my happiness by thinking and writing about food. It’s such a reliable way to fill myself with good cheer, filling myself with good food, that—well, you all know by now that I can’t resist thinking and writing about it here at least once a week as well.

Am I insatiable? Perhaps. I am certainly mad for good food and drink. I’m kind of crazy for messing about with cookery trickery myself, and most certainly that feeds (both literally and metaphorically) my cravings. And you know that I’m happy to indulge at every turn in talking and/or writing about food and drink, making photos and artworks about them, and dreaming up ever more new ways to get ever more treats into my hands, my glass, my spoon and my stomach. That’s how I operate.

Naturally, the right thing to do in celebration of a thousand-day-versary would be to make some party treats. I have company coming over shortly, so I thought I really ought to make those dinner and lunch engagements into occasions for those goodies. Any excuse will do. The excuse of friends’ visits? Irresistible.

Dinner first, with a couple of friends on Monday. Starter: an appetizer of crackers topped with a nice Dutch gouda or brie, or spread with some homemade brandied beef pate and a little bit of fig jam. Roast beef, a nice chuck shoulder roast cooked simply sous vide with butter, salt and pepper, as the centerpiece. Mashed potatoes sauced with a bit of beurre rouge and pan juices. Tiny peas with mint butter. Sweet corn with crispy bacon. Some quick beet pickles. Chocolate mousse with apricot coulis spiked with homemade orange liqueur and topped with chopped dark chocolate bits for dessert.photoLunch on Thursday with another couple. Mint-apple-honeydew cooler to drink. Shrimp toasts as a starter: butter-fried slices of chewy French bread with spicy lime avocado spread and tiny sweet shrimp on top. Pasta with smoked salmon and langoustines in lemon cream for the entrée. Carrots and celery in cooked in white wine with snippets of dill. Ginger coleslaw with Bosc pears and toasted sliced almonds. Fresh strawberries and cardamom shortbread with salted caramel icing for the big finish.

I always hope that everyone lunching or dining with me will enjoy everything I’m feeding them, but I have to admit that it’s kind of a big deal that I like it all, too! How else will I get fat and sassy in my old age? I may be ahead of the curve on the Sassy part, but I’m still hoping to be somewhat moderate or at least slow about the fattening-up part. Not that you could tell by my eating meals like this whenever I can get my gnashers on ’em. But here we are and I haven’t ballooned out of existence quite yet, so no doubt I shall continue my food adoration for at the very least another thousand days. Or whatever…come back and ask me later; I’m heading to the kitchen. Recipes will undoubtedly follow….photo