a great haul for $35…

vegetables & fruit from the farmer's market

$35 for that haul

I love going to the farmer’s market. You never know what treasures you may find. And it’s great to know that you’re supporting local farmers and that you’re actually buying that what’s in season. Plus, you can’t beat the price. I got all that for $35. Yup, you read that right. That would be: a bunch of beets, one fennel bulb, one Kohlrabi bulb, 3 Cara Cara oranges, 2 red onions, 4 avocados, 2 baskets of strawberries, a bunch of asparagus, 5 Asian lemons, 2lbs of fava beans, fresh peas, a bunch of Cilantro, a bunch of purple basil and red walnuts. Just awesome!

I used to hate Kohlrabi as a kid, but I decided to give it another shot and try it in a salad. The inspiration was this winter salad I found via Epicurious, and since I like adventurous salads I thought I should see if I will change my opinion. The beets will be pickled, the fava beans might just become a fava bean spread, peas for a fresh pea risotto, fennel for salad, the strawberries are so good that they’re not going to make it through the weekend, same with the Cara Cara oranges, and the rest I’ll figure out as inspiration hits.

I know I’ll be going to this farmer’s market again!

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M is for millet

millet salad

I’ve been trying out other grains since I’m trying to go gluten-free as part of a detox. I was looking for a millet salad recipe, and I found this one. Genius! A yoghurt-lime-avocado-dressing, millet (I substituted it for quinoa), grilled zucchini and crunchy pine nuts, plus hardboiled eggs makes for a tasty and satisfying meal. And it hits all three groups: protein, fat and (complex) carbohydrates, plus lots of good for you vitamins.

I’m all for experimenting with new salads, so recipes like this one help you think outside of the box. And a delicious dressing – homemade dressings are just so much better than dressings from the bottle. And its really easy to make –  you can whip it up pretty darn fast. Try it for yourself.

 

{this moment}

via Soulemama

{this moment} – A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Spring salad with deconstructed salad dressing

Spring salad with deconstructed salad dressing

Normally I let the this moment photographs stand on their own, but since next week will be mostly about knitting and crafting, I thought I should sneak in a food post beforehand. This was a quick salad I whipped up – good ingredients and a tasty – deconstructed – salad dressing = lunch of champions. The salad has little heirloom tomatoes, watermelon radish, avocado, feta, plenty of mint, and said dressing.

If you’re wondering what kind of dressing that deconstructed salad dressing is, well, I decided against making a proper dressing, with whisk and all that. Instead, I broke down the individual components and drizzled the ingredients onto the salad. That worked especially well since I used balsamico crema instead of regular balsamico. I bought some (took me a while to find it in a store), but you can easily make your own. Anyway, the dressing is made up of a bit of olive oil in it, a bit of balsamico crema (yum), a bit of honey – very little, but a lot of my dressings have some to balance out the acidity and or spice, kosher salt and a bit of Sriracha. Yup, you read that right. I normally don’t use Sriracha in my dressings since it can so easily overpower other flavors and change the balance of flavors, but I got the idea from this awesomely delicious Ottolenghi salad. Their dressing suggests using chili sauce and caster sugar – I used Sriracha and honey instead.

watermelon radish

watermelon radish – isn’t it pretty?

You can see droplets of the various dressing components in the picture – especially the crema and the Sriracha. The dressing components all mix when you toss the salad. Make sure you toss it well, though, otherwise you’ll taste blobs of, well, dressing components. But I can tell you, that dressing and the finished salad were so tasty. I’ll definitely be making this one again. Plus it was so fast to make! Perfect if you haven’t figured out what you’ll cook beforehand, and you’re trying to put something together last-minute.

Btw, watermelon radishes are among the prettiest foods out there – and they’re so tasty, too! I wasn’t a fan of radishes growing up – but I really like them if you slice them thin. They add crunch and a bit of sharpness, although the watermelon radish is more mellow. And for me, who is not a big raw celery fan, radishes are a great crunch alternative. Watermelon radishes are bigger than regular radishes – they look more like turnips except that they are green and white on the outside. Their degree of pinkness inside may vary – and unfortunately you can’t tell from the outside how pink they’ll be inside. But give them a try the next time you see them at your grocery store or at a farmer’s market – you’ll really like them. They’re also great for breakfast, e.g. sliced thinly onto a piece of Knäckebrod (e.g. Wasa) or Pumpernickel with a bit cream cheese (yeah, that’s the German in me coming through). Yum!

pears in my salad

Pear Salad with Feta, Bacon & Hazelnuts. I’m just going to let the images speak for themselves.

salad with pears, feta, bacon & hazelnuts

The perfect winter salad.

pear salad ingredients

pears, hazelnuts, shallots, bacon and endive – substituting endive for watercress and Belgian endive

 

Wavin’ Flag

Remember how I talked about soccer fever? That it was Euro 2012 time? And that it was time to celebrate the beginning of Euro 2012, and to cheer on Germany? Well, I didn’t quite manage to create a German food menu, instead I made carrot pancakes, a spring potato salad and a cherry, corn and fennel salad. But now, with the Olympics, I have another chance to create a ‘German fan menu.’

One option is to come up with food inspired by the German flag. The German flag is composed of stripes in yellow, red and black. Or I could do the completely lazy version and make Bratwurst and Sauerkraut. I could also make some kind of classic German cake like a Black Forest cake. There are also delicious fruit cakes in Germany, but I’d rather challenge myself. Btw, did you know that the German chocolate cake is actually German’s chocolate cake – named after the chocolate brand German’s? If you ask a German for a German chocolate cake, they’ll probably look confused and ask you what kind of chocolate cake you’d like.

three layer cake: yellow cake, red velvet cake, chocolate cake

A three layer cake: yellow cake, red velvet cake and chocolate cake

I’m not the first person to think of making a flag cake. Petite Kitchenesse made a beautiful version, with layers of yellow cake, red velvet cake and chocolate cake. I think that’s the way to go. The black flag will just have to be made of chocolate. I’m so not making a black cake, nor will I use food coloring to turn it black. Who would want to eat that? It’ll just look like a burnt cake. And the actual “black cake” which is a dark fruit cake derived from the British plum pudding – yeah, no. I was never a fan of fruit cake, so that one is a no go (I want to eat it too!).

I love all these cakes separately, but I’m not quite sure how the flavors will all go together. I mean, will the flavors meld, or will they clash???? I could also go a different direction and make a German Beer Coffee Cake. It looks interesting, but also strange. And it again has hints of fruit cake. Sigh.

The post title is inspired by K’Naan’s song “Wavin’ Flag” which is awesomely soccer themed. It’s also the song Coke used for its FIFA World Cup 2010 commercials. Don’t be turned off by that – all the big sponsors release pretty great soccer themed commercials for the big soccer tournament.

Wavin Flag Coca Cola Celebration Mix

Would you like some whine with your cheese?

Recent conversation:

“Why are you buying this pomegranate? What are you going to do with it?”
Me: “I’m planning to make this salad with it. You’ll see, it’s really good, I’ve made it before. You’ll like it.”

Next day:

“Why is this pomegranate still there? You need to use it up asap.”
Me: “Patience young grasshopper. (Okay I didn’t say that. Wish I’d thought of that at the time though). Don’t worry, I have a plan, we’re just eating something else today. I’ll make that salad soon.”

Next day:

“You need to use up this pomegranate.”
Me: “I eat to enjoy, not to finish up. You sound like __ uncle. Plus, I need prosciutto. Don’t worry!”
“Why don’t you use the ham we have?”
Me: “Because it’s cooked! It won’t work. At least not in this recipe.”
“You need to make a plan of what you plan to cook every day and buy the groceries accordingly.”
Me: “I don’t function that way, I like to improvise – but feel free to plan accordingly and take over the cooking of the meals for the next few days.”

That was the end of that conversation – at least for the next day. But conversation(s) aside, this was what I had in mind: this lovely fennel, prosciutto and pomegranate salad. OMG it’s so good. If you’re even remotely intrigued by this salad, run, don’t walk to your grocery store and get your ingredients. Btw, really good, really thinly sliced prosciutto makes a world of a difference – I know, because my prosciutto this time around was just so much better. Oh, and I omitted the spring onions because I didn’t have them, but I definitely wouldn’t stint on the mint (oooh, a rhyme!). It helps bring all the flavors together. I love it, and will be making it again asap. I just need to by a pomegranate first.

Salad

Ha(i)rissa

You come across all kinds of weird things when googling. I made a typo while googling harissa, and I go this result: Hair Frizz forecast for Harissa, Lebanon. I’m not kidding. Check out that link.

You know I just had to find out if Harissa is named after Harissa in Lebanon. Well, it seems that Harissa originated in Tunisia. Harissa includes chilis, which weren’t indigenous to the region and were brought back from the Americas by the Spanish. Harissa itself is derived from the Arabic and Hebrew word harasa, which means to pound. The name for the other Harissa, in Lebanon, seems to drive from the word haras which means sharp edge, knife, but also sheer edge. Which seems to correspond with the location of the mountain village. Huh. The things you learn.

North African foods and spices are pretty unfamiliar to me. I mean, there are parallels to Indian cooking, with cumin, chilis and so on, and that part I get, but I haven’t experimented with the flavor profile. I also haven’t been to North Africa which, I’m sure, would have given me a great appreciation for the food of that region. Preserved lemons, ras el hanout, Za’atar, and argan oil are all new-to-me ingredients. Especially argan oil, which is supposed to be a great ingredient.

Argan oil is one of those North African ingredients that seems to be ubiquitous these days. You can find it almost anywhere, in the oil section of your grocery store, in health food stores, but also in all kinds of body lotions and so on. It’s supposed to be great for you since it contains Vitamin E, essential fatty acids, carotenes and squalene; plus it’s supposed to be good for your skin and hair. (Please, this is not medical advice – inform yourself!)

Did you know that goats used to climb around the argan trees and eat the argan fruit? The berber people would then collect undigested pits from the droppings of their goats, thus saving the step of cracking the very very hard fruit themselves. Nowadays the oil is gained through press extraction or solvent extraction. The argan trees are endangered and protected by the UNESCO, and the argan oil is produced through women cooperatives, affecting their socio-economic positions.

Anyway, it seems like you could get a whole variety of uses from Harissa. I’m sure you could use it as a substitute to other chili sauces – how about harissa in Mexican food? It would also be an interesting condiment in Asian cooking. I bet harissa would be an interesting pesto substitute, depending on the spice level of course. 101 cookbooks has this really interesting pasta recipe with harissa, kale, and olives. I bet the harissa is a great complement to the stronger flavors of the kale and olives. Smitten Kitchen uses it in a carrot salad with feta and mint. And you know how I love my salads.

I’d love to hear if you’ve used Harissa before, and how you liked it. Do you have any favorite recipes that you use Harissa for? I’m still a bit scared of getting a whole thing of Harissa and finding that I don’t like it, or that I don’t know what to do with it and the Harissa ends up living in my fridge forever and ever. Help a girl out!