Tag Archives: vinaigrette

SHIRO DASHI TUNA AND EGG SALAD

I have been away from my blog for a long time. We have been doing a lot of traveling, grandchild visiting and not much cooking, but frankly, I had run out  of new things to write about – especially recipes. However, on our most recent visit, Sarah introduced us to a condiment that I had never knowingly tried. It is a secret ingredient at Rich Table and RT Rotisserie, although it appears in the Rich Table cookbook. Sarah calls it shiro dashi vinaigrette, and she makes enough at one time to keep in the refrigerator to season salads, noodles, and whatever needs some added flavor. Shiro dashi adds the umami that the Japanese are so good at incorporating into their foods. Shiro dashi is actually a concentrated soup and sauce base. It may be available in your local large grocery stores, especially those with a section for Asian foods. In our vicinity we are fortunate to have Asian, Japanese, Korean, Thai, Persian, Chinese, etc. supermarkets, so it is easy to find unusual ingredients. I found a bottle at the Korean market. The recipe for the vinaigrette is simple, so I have followed Sarah’s lead and keep a jar made up and in the refrigerator.

Now, on to tuna and egg salad. Who needs a recipe for that? I have made it for years beginning when I was a teenage short-order cook. The version at that café was homogenized so finely that it looked like – well, let’s just say it was not appetizing. BUT it kept well for a week on the shelf in the walk-in. To my way of thinking, in a well-prepared tuna salad the canned tuna should be in identifiable chunks as should the egg. (Fresh tuna salad is another story with its own guidelines for preparation.) There also must be chopped celery and scallions – again, identifiable. Then there needs to be something sour. I like chopped salad olives because the pimentos add color, but chopped dill pickles or capers also work. If you have other favorites, add them. Some folks add chopped nuts and/or apples. I am not a fan of those, but if you like them, add them, or whatever else pleases your taste.

Finally, there is the choice of dressing. The standard is bottled mayonnaise, but usually there is way too much, and before long it turns soupy. Homemade mayonnaise is delicious, but too much trouble for the little amount that you use. I prefer just enough French vinaigrette to moisten the mix. It brings great flavor and is light. That made it easy to take the next step and give shiro dashi vinaigrette a try. I am glad. In the future, I won’t use anything else.

You can complete things with a sandwich: your best bread, a leaf of crisp lettuce, a slice or two of fresh tomato, and some avocado. If you decide to go full steam, moisten the bread with shiro dashi vinaigrette instead of butter or mayonnaise. The perfect lunch.

RECIPES

Shiro Dashi Vinaigrette

Ingredients

  •  ½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 large lemons should work)
  •  1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1½ tablespoons shiro dashi
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot
  • salt to taste

Method

  1. Put all the ingredients in a quart Mason jar. Cover tightly and shake vigorously until will mixed.
  2. Use as you would vinaigrette. Refrigerate leftovers for up to 1 week. Use on any dish that would benefit from some flavor – salads, soups, cooked vegetables, etc.

Shiro Dashi Tuna and Egg Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 can tuna (7 ounces), well drained
  • 3 hard-boiled eggs, chopped coarsely
  • 3 scallions, green part included, sliced finely
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped into 1/8-1/4 inch pieces
  • 3 small dilll pickles, chopped
  • 3 to 6 generous tablespoons shiro dashi vinaigrette, according to taste
  • salt and pepper

Method

  1. In a medium bowl, mash together the tuna and eggs, using a table fork, until they are well broken up but still recognizable. Gently stir in the sliced scallions, chopped celery, and chopped pickles.
  2. Add shiro dashi just to moisten the mixture and according to your taste.
  3. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

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OLIVE OIL POACHED TUNA SALAD WITH FENNEL

Our local wine shop hosts weekly wine tastings as well as periodic wine classes that emphasize wine and food pairings. So, of course, with the wine classes there is food. One of the featured dishes at the most recent class was oil-poached tuna salad. It was delicious and refreshing. I thought I would try to copy it. I found that there were lots of recipes for oil-poached fish to be found on the internet. They all sounded good although there was a lot of variation in the instructions on how to cook the fish. There were also ingredients that didn’t appeal to me. The wine class version included cooked fennel. I thought I would opt for the refreshing crunch of raw fennel.  Otherwise, I decided to wing it with my own recipe. In any event, I was determined not to replicate the tuna salad of sandwich fame that is made with canned tuna. Probably everyone has had one of those in a brown bag lunch. There is no worry: olive oil poached tuna tastes nothing like the canned variety.

RECIPE

Olive Oil Poached Tuna Salad with Fennel

Ingredients

  • fennel bulb with stems and fronds still attached
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled but left whole
  • about 3 cups olive oil (no need to use extra virgin)
  • 10 ounces ahi tuna
  • 4 tablespoons champagne vinegar, divided
  • 6 small cremini mushrooms, quartered
  • ½ teaspoon dry mustard
  • 2 ribs celery, sliced thinly
  • 5 scallions including green tops, sliced thinly on the bias
  • 1 tablespoon chopped pimento
  • ½ cup small pitted black olives drained and cut in half
  • 1 ripe avocado, ½ inch dice
  • salt and pepper
  • Romaine lettuce leaves

Method

  1. Trim the stems and fronds from the fennel bulb. Cut the stems into 1-3 inch pieces. Chop 3 tablespoons of the fronds and set aside to add to the finished salad. Slice the fennel bulb horizontally using a mandoline. Set aside the sliced fennel bulb.
  2. In a saucepan that is just large enough to hold the tuna in a single layer, combine the chopped fennel stems and fronds, garlic, and olive oil. Bring to the boil for about 5 minutes, reduce the heat to low, and add the tuna. The hot oil should cover the tuna. Turn off the heat and poach the tuna, uncovered, basting from time to time with the hot oil and turning once during the poaching. Poach for 20 minutes. Remove the tuna to a plate. Strain the oil into a small bowl.
  3. Place the quartered mushrooms in a small container that can be firmly sealed. Add 2 tablespoons of the vinegar and 6 tablespoons of the poaching oil. Cover tightly, and turn from time to time to make sure the mushrooms are well-marinated.
  4. Prepare a vinaigrette by combining the remaining vinegar and dry mustard in a small bowl or measuring cup. Slowly whisk in by drizzles 7 tablespoons of the poaching oil. Set aside for final assembly of the salad.
  5. With a sharp knife. cut the tuna into bite-sized pieces. Place in a large bowl. Add the marinated mushrooms, celery, scallions, pimento,  olives, avocado, and reserved chopped fennel fronds. Gently stir in the vinaigrette, making sure that the salad is well mixed.  Serve on Romaine lettuce leaves.

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SHAVED FENNEL AND HARICOT VERT VINAIGRETTE

Fennel is beginning to appear at the farmers market. It is unlike  that in the supermarkets. The bulbs are big, and the tops are left on so that you may have four feet of vegetable, including the fronds.

I think fennel is beautiful. The fronds are lacy and brilliant green. The bulbs have the interlocked leaf bases that remind me of a nautilus shell. The perfume is that exotic, unforgettable odor, not quite of licorice or anise, but wonderful. And it’s all edible.

When I bought my farmers market fennel, the woman behind me wondered aloud what you can do with it. The vendor said that she puts it in salads. I said, “Braise it’,” thinking of quartered bulb braised with a juicy pork chop. But you can turn both bulb and fronds into soup, a boiled vegetable, and even a desert.

The large-bulbed (not actually a bulb but the thickened ends of the stems of the fronds) variety is sometimes called Florence fennel or finocchio to distinguish it from common fennel that has no bulb and grows wild in abundance in Northern California. In the past, I’ve written about using the “pollen” from wild fennel to flavor bread, as they do at Rich Table, or to add to soups and custards.

I also bought some haricots verts from one of my favorite vendors at the market. I like his products because he has fingerling potatoes in several colors, squash blossoms, petit pan squash, and heirloom tomatoes that are not as popular with other vendors. That made me think that a fresh salad of fennel and haricot vert would be a perfect summer accompaniment to seared ahi tuna.

RECIPE

Shaved Fennel and Haricot Vert Vinaigrette

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (Use your best stuff)
  • ½ teaspoon Pernod
  • salt and pepper
  • good pinch of sugar
  • 1 good-sized fennel bulb, trimmed and washed
  • haricots verts (about two good handfuls), trimmed and cut into 2 inch pieces
  • lettuce leaves

Method

  1. Using a dinner fork or small whisk, combine the lemon juice and mustard in a two-cup glass measuring cup
  2. Beating vigorously, gradually add the olive oil, one tablespoonful at a time, making sure it is completely incorporated.
  3. Beat in the Pernod, salt and pepper to taste, and sugar. Set aside.
  4. Using a mandolin, slice the fennel bulb into paper-thin slices.
  5. Bring a medium pot of well-salted water to the boil. Stir in the trimmed green beans and return to the boil. Boil for 3 minutes after the pot has returned to the boil. Drain and plunge the cooked beans into a bowl of ice and water that you have prepared ahead.
  6. When the beans have cooled, drain and combine with the shaved fennel. Dress with the vinaigrette, toss, and cover with plastic wrap. Reserve any remaining vinaigrette for another use.  Refrigerate for 2 hours until ready to serve on lettuce leaves.

 

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SALADE NIÇOISE: HIGH PROTEIN/LOW CARB DIETS

This is a great time of the year. Our grandchildren are out of school, and their parents are looking for a little relaxing time. That means we get to have them in Santa Fe for a few days. Our youngest, Sarah, is here now with her two toddlers. That is exciting for Grandma and Grandpa, but it also is a reminder why young people are parents and old people are grandparents.

Sarah and her husband, Evan, are chefs. They have fallen into the occupational hazard of those who cook for a living: they taste – and taste – and taste. Over the years they have added a few pounds along with – for Sarah – the weight gain of motherhood. As a result, they have gone on a very strict diet and exercise regimen prescribed by a no-nonsense personal trainer.

Before her arrival, Sarah announce that there would not be the usual eating out that seems to be part of the visiting tradition. I was disappointed about that, because there are several new restaurants in town worthy of a visit. The other restriction was that home meals should be high protein/low carbohydrate. How to deal with that? No pasta; no red and green chile enchiladas; no pies or cakes. I decided that a simple resolution, at least for the meal the evening of their arrival, was salade Niçoise. I know – what about the potato salad? No problem. That becomes a personal option.

Sarah signed off on the suggestion, and so that’s what we had. I bought some beautiful raw ahi tuna at the store which I seared to keep the lovely pink inside. There were haricots verts at the farmers market and Kalamata olives from the Cheesemongers of Santa Fe. Everything else I found in the pantry or refrigerator, so it was just a matter of cooking and blanching the beans, hard boiling the eggs, and assembling everything right before we ate. Salade Niçoise [2]-1 That gave us time to enjoy the beautiful sunset. A good ending to a tiring day for Sarah shepherding two toddlers on a flight that wound up sitting on the tarmac for thirty minutes after arrival, waiting for a gate to open. Salade Niçoise [2]-2

RECIPE

Salade Niçoise

Ingredients

  • butter lettuce, washed and spun dry
  • potato salad – your favorite recipe
  • ahi tuna, sautéed and sliced thinly across the grain
  • anchovies packed in oil, drained
  • haricots verts, boiled and blanched
  • hard-boiled eggs, peeled and quartered
  • tomatoes, quartered
  • kalamata olives
  • vinaigrette

Method

  1. Arrange the lettuce leaves around the edge of a large serving bowl
  2. Heap the potato salad in the middle
  3. Arrange the other ingredients on top of the potato salad
  4. Dress with vinaigrette and serve.

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BLACK HARICOTS VERTS TURNED GREEN

Just as with everything else, there are trends and fashions at the farmers market. Year before last it was cardoons. Last year it was kohlrabis. Now those are old hat. This year one of the new items is black haricots verts. Actually they’re not black but a very deep shade of purple that looks black. The beans are very distinctive, heaped up in baskets next to the regular green pole beans. It’s very hard to resist buying some if you are looking for something a little different to try out.

Many of you experienced cooks probably already know this, but I was surprised and more than a little disappointed when I dropped the beans into boiling water to blanch them, and the purple/black color disappeared. Suddenly my haricots verts were, indeed, green.

Curious to know why that happened, I turned to the most reliable expert on kitchen science that I know, Harold McGee, author of a regular column in the New York Times and numerous books including On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen (Second edition, Scribner, New York, 2004). Sure enough, there he had a short scholarly discussion of anthocyanins (pp. 267-268, 281-281) It turns out that the red and purple colors of most flowers and vegetables are due to a group of about 300 related chemicals known as anthocyanins. They are very sensitive to alkalinity and acidity as well as some metals, which help to determine the color that the chemical gives to a flower or vegetable. They are also highly water-soluble, so when the spaces where they are stored break open during the cooking process, the coloration is rapidly diluted and dissipates. Hence, the beautiful black beans turn a beautiful chlorophyll-green. And that’s ok, too, because the blanched haricots verts can be used for whatever might be one of your favorite dishes.

I decided to use them in a chilled salad with scallions and dill, topped with a balsamic vinaigrette. The bright green chlorophyll color was terrific.

RECIPE

Haricots Verts Vinaigrette with Scallions and Dill

Ingredients

  • 1 pound fresh haricots verts, washed and trimmed
  • 4 scallions cut in ½ inch slices, whites and greens included
  • ¼ cup fresh dill fronds, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (not the expensive stuff)
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper
  • pinch of sugar
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (the good stuff)

Method

  1. In a large pot, bring 2 quarts of salted water to a rolling boil
  2. Add the green beans in a single batch and return the water to the boil
  3. Boil the beans for no more than 4 minutes so that they remain crisp. Drain and immediately plunge into a prepared large bowl of ice and chilled water.
  4. When the beans have cooled, drain and transfer them to the refrigerator until they are ready to use. (Remove any remaining pieces of ice)
  5. Prepare the scallions and dill. Set aside.
  6. Using a whisk and a small bowl, combine the vinegar, minced garlic, mustard, salt, pepper, and sugar.
  7. Whisking continuously, slowly stir in the olive oil to make a vinaigrette. Correct the seasoning.
  8. In a large bowl, combine the haricots verts, scallions, and dill. Dress with the vinaigrette to suit your taste.  Adjust the seasoning. Chill, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for an hour to let the flavors blend.
  9. Serve alone or on lettuce leaves.

 

 

 

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QUINOA, MUSHROOM, CORN AND THREE-BEAN SALAD

In my last post, I mentioned that I had been charged with salad for a dinner party. The main course was going to be barbecued ribs. Potato salad seemed out as too heavy. Besides I wasn’t sure if someone else would bring that. It’s also no longer the season for pasta salad, so I thought about one of my old favorites, three-bean salad. Someone reminded me that it seemed sort of old-fashioned, but it still sounded good to me. Then I thought about quinoa. Light, refreshing, and a little bit unusual. I usually make it with gandules or pigeon peas, but they were nowhere to be found in the local markets, so I reconsidered the three-bean salad and decided to combine my two top options.

If you have never cooked with quinoa, you will find it to be an amazing ingredient. It is a seed that comes from plants originally grown in South America but now cultivated throughout the world. It is used like a grain, but it is not a grain so it does not have the gluten that so many people worry about these days. It is rich in protein and reportedly has all of the essential amino acids, so it certainly sounds healthy. You do need to be aware that it is also loaded with saponins. These are naturally occurring detergents that make the quinoa taste soapy if you don’t wash them off. Many pre-packaged quinoa products have had the saponin removed, but the detergent may still be present in bulk quinoa. In either case, it is probably a good idea to rinse the quinoa before you cook it. You can do this easily by placing the amount you plan to use in a fine-mesh strainer and rinse it under a spray of cold water until all of the foam subsides – maybe a minute or so. Drain it well and get ready to cook it.  Besides being tasty, cooked quinoa is also beautiful. The seeds burst open and reveal a delicate little curl. My wife, the botanist, is not sure but thinks the curl is probably the endosperm.

Except for cooking the quinoa and preparing pickled mushrooms (as I described in my last post) this is pretty much a chop and dump recipe, so it is very easy to prepare.

 

RECIPES

Quinoa, Mushroom, Corn and Three-Bean Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 cup washed quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • salt and white pepper
  • 1 batch pickled mushrooms (see recipe in previous post)
  • ½ red onion, diced
  • ¼ cup each, green, red, yellow, and orange bell peppers, diced
  • ½ cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen, cooked and drained
  • 14.5 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 14.5 ounce can red or pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 14.5 ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • vinaigrette (recipe below)

Method

  1. In a small saucepan, bring the water to a boil and stir in the quinoa. Return to the boil, cover, and reduce heat to the simmer. Simmer for 15 minutes. The seeds should have absorbed all of the water, burst open, and tender. If they are not cooked, remove the lid and boil gently until all of the water is absorbed. Season with salt and white pepper, drain, cool, and place in a large bowl.
  2. Stir in the mushrooms, red onion, diced bell peppers,  canned beans, corn, and cherry tomatoes.
  3. Dress the salad to taste with 4 to 6 tablespoons of vinaigrette. Chill until ready to serve.

Vinaigrette

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon dry mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • salt and pepper
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Method

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, mustard, garlic powder, and salt and pepper
  2. Very slowly, a few drops at a time, whisk in the olive oil to form an emulsion.
  3. If the sauce separates, whisk it together again before dressing the salad.

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COLE SLAW – MY CONTRIBUTION TO THE CRAWFISH BOIL

A week or so ago my post provided the details of a crawfish boil in Silicon Valley. For that great event, my daughter-in-law asked me to make coleslaw. I call her the “Salad Queen” because she whips up the most delicious salads on a moment’s notice, but she claimed that coleslaw was not something she liked to make. I confess that I’m not a big fan of most coleslaw, either. That’s because they often contain the core of the cabbage head, the cabbage is in big chunks with the heavy taste of cabbage, and the salad is swimming in runny mayonnaise.

Years ago I learned the first important lesson for coleslaw from my younger daughter when she was only about ten years old. She was assigned to do the cabbage chopping for a family gathering. We thought she would be finished in just a few minutes, but a half hour later she was still chopping and the cabbage was as fine as I had ever seen it. She had also removed the core of the cabbage before she started the project. Everyone loved one of her first cooking projects.

The second lesson comes from a consideration of the origins of the word, coleslaw. It is derived from the Danish word, koolsla, meaning cabbage (cole) salad ( sla, a contraction of salade). The point of all that is you can use any kind of cabbage or even cabbage relatives you want (especially shredded Brussels sprouts, but also broccoli, rabe, or cauliflower) , and you can put anything else that catches your fancy in the salad.  Apples, carrots, celery, and chopped nuts are among the most common additives.

The third lesson for me is that a little mayonnaise goes a long way – much farther than you think. In recent times, I always add less mayonnaise than I think the dish needs. That includes tuna salad, sandwiches, and coleslaw In every instance what I have learned is that less is better, and you can always add more. Of course, homemade mayonnaise is better than bottled, and it doesn’t take too much extra time to make. Another option is not to use mayonnaise at all; freshly made vinaigrette is a refreshing substitute.

For the crawfish boil, I decided to use napa (Chinese) cabbage and red cabbage along with red onion, carrot, bell pepper, and celery for the basic salad. I used vinaigrette with a shot of sesame oil for the dressing. Here is the recipe.

RECIPE

Coleslaw

Ingredients

  •  1 large head, napa cabbage, cored, sliced and chopped very finely
  • 1 small head red cabbage, cored, sliced and chopped very finely
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 1 large carrot, peeled, grated, and chopped finely
  • 1 bell pepper, seeded, ribs removed, and diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 teaspoons celery seed
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients

Vinaigrette

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon prepared mustard, preferably Dijon
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon sesame oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. In a small bowl, combine the lemon juice, mustard, garlic powder, and sugar.
  2. While whisking continuously, drizzle in the olive oil until completely incorporated.
  3. Stir in the sesame oil, and correct seasonings with salt and pepper

Dressing the Salad

  1. Pour only about half of the vinaigrette onto the coleslaw and gently stir in until the salad is completely dressed
  2. Add more dressing as needed, being especially careful not to use too much. The coleslaw should be moistened but not damp with dressing
  3. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Napa cabbage

Napa cabbage

Red cabbage

Red cabbage

Red onion

Red onion

Carrots

Carrots

Celery

Celery

Green bell pepper

Green bell pepper

Chopped vegetables

Chopped vegetables

Finished coleslaw

Finished coleslaw

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