Monday, March 25, 2013

Sunday Meals: Ode to Egg Salad

If you read my two taco posts last week (here and on Latin Twist) then you know I’m going through a rediscovery phase. Well, this weekend I “rediscovered” an old favorite: egg salad.

Now, before you disclaimers of this salad start thinking “oh no, it’s just too mayonaisey!” give me a moment! Think—instead—of less mayonnaise, bigger chunks, and, well, the salad bit, being more salad-ish!

Let me explain:
Egg salad has long been in my life. In fact, if you’re a Flat Stanley fan (have you read that 1960-something classic about the kid who was flattened by a bulletin board and then—due to his  1/2-inch thick width, was able to be mailed in envelope, WITH, yes, an egg salad sandwich, to various destinations?) then maybe, like me, you have a nostalgic association.

But, despite my love of Flat Stanley and the role that egg salad sandwiches played in his life, at some point in my life, I got tired of egg salad, and stopped eating it.

Well, my friends, it’s back…as of, well, yesterday!

Yesterday I made a birthday brunch for my mom. Here are a couple of the scenes: 

Mom clapping & Dad singing! 
I'm dressed to match the mariachis! 

The youngest guest...beautiful Shea....

And back to the food of the day
We had some of my mom's brunch favorites: Bagels, cream cheese, white fish salad, nova…and, well, egg salad! We ate (okay—over 2 pounds of egg salad and about 40 people?!) but this little bit (dill-less, in the dish!) was saved…and was perfect for my breakfast! Oh—you can also incorporate grainy mustard, or capers…and I’m sure the list goes on!

Simple Chunky Egg Salad

Makes about 4 cups
1 dozen eggs
3 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 medium red onion (or according to taste!), finely chopped
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
2 teaspoons coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Place the eggs in a large saucepan, with a tight-fitting lid, and cover them with cold water by about an inch. Bring the water to a boil and immediately turn off the heat. Let the eggs sit in the pan for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the celery, red onion, and mayonnaise and mix well. Add the fresh dill.

Drain the water from the pan and cool the eggs in under cold running water. Peel the eggs and cut them into sixths.

Add the eggs to the mayonnaise mixture and gently mix them together. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate (and use within 3 days) or use immediately.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Midweek Food Musings: From Salmon Ceviche to Salmon Taco!

Ceviche and tacos de pescado (fish tacos) are two of my favorite things... so why not combine them?

Let me explain! Since I made salmon ceviche yesterday but, as sometimes happens, I couldn't finish all of it. What did I do? Well, since I also made mango salsa yesterday, and had  my favorite, locally-made corn tortillas on hand, and since I was craving something warm and toasty on the outside...smooth and tasty on the inside, I took the logical next step: I toasted my tortilla and made my ceviche into a taco filling! ( the way!)

And this reminded me. I've written about leftover food before, but sometimes we all need a reminder. Leftovers can be so cleverly reinvented...and "new" the second time around. Adding fresh vegetables, herbs, and condiments in one form or another can make all the difference.

Several years ago, I had the privilege of working on a Katharine Hepburn project. One of her rules, as far as leftovers, was that they had to be reinvented (she was a very thrifty woman and didn't want to toss remaining food...but didn't want to be bored, either!). So, I guess you could say I like living the Katharine Hepburn credo!

This idea, recreating something in a different way, is a great way of not only not wasting food (which, unfortunately many of us do all too often) but also being creative. In fact, they present a kind of fun challenge.  In fact, right now I've got the following in my fridge: sliced pork chops, gallo pinto, mango salsa. I will be combining them for my parents' dinner tonight. I'll let you know how it goes...and would love to hear about your reinventions!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Sunday Dinners: Spinach and Tomato Sauce

Yesterday I decided (with help!) to do the dinner as opposed to the brunch thing. (Well, next Sunday I'm making a big brunch for my mom's 80th birthday, and needed yesterday daytime to get some work done...and, okay, work out and more!)

One of the things that came up on Friday morning (ah--I was making mojitos at dawn at Telemundo, which I hope you'll check out and try! Here's the recipe in English!) and on Friday afternoon (where I was giving a conference to teachers on the subject of teaching reluctant writers to write!), was that many people feel that they CAN'T cook. My usual line is: Can you read? Then you can cook!
But I do get that just as in the case of writing, people feel intimidated by the process. My message is this: you can make simple and fabulous dishes to start, and then build from there (IF you want to!).
So, my friends, here I share with you a simple yet fabulous concoction!

How did I come up with Sunday's menu? Well, I knew that my parents had eaten steak the night before (my dad is a huge steak fan!) and so I wanted to do something a bit lighter. I was thinking chicken...using some of my oranges and maybe my gorgeous blood orange marmalade, and then maybe some pasta and more.

So, after inventory, I found that I had a lovely bunch of tomatoes and some baby spinach that needed to be used right away, and so began my inspiration for this sauce! (The recipe is below, after our hat shots!)

Here was the menu:

Green leafy Salad with Kumkwats and a Light Orange-Balsamic Vinaigrette
Snow Peas, Tomatoes, Onions and Pancetta
Broccoli Sautéed in Olive Oil and Garlic
Pasta with a Tomato-Spinach Sauce
Baked Chicken with a Light White Wine, Blood Orange Marmalade, and Blood Orange-Sauce

As you can see, it was a colorful meal and, well, lots of green (to celebrate Saint Patrick's Day!) as always...

Susan--the giver of the hats--and Norrie, dressed in their finest St. Patrick's greenery!
And after eating, we celebrated by donning our new hats, thanks to Susan!
Norrie and Mom! 

Two Grandpas in Berets! 

With Mom and Dad--Showing of our Berets!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Sunday Meals: Coconut Pancakes, Lemon-Ginger Champagne Cocktails, and more!

Well, the Sunday bunch thing is working well! It gets my parents out of the house (!), and it gets me thinking about fun foods to serve (such a different "mood" than dinner) and playing with what will be my restaurant brunch menu!

Sunday's brunch was no exception! This week I made coconut pancakes (made with coconut flour, coconut milk, and toasted coconut!), scrambled eggs with corn, tomatoes, and cilantro, fresh strawberries and blueberries (with and without whipped cream), banana bread, and lemon-ginger champagne cocktails! The result? Happy people all around!

Brunch Plated! 
So my friends, first I apologize for only one post last week on this blog! I may be leaning that way--as the restaurant plans get bigger (closer! yay!) and time gets sucked away. Still, please know that I post every Friday on my LoHud blog, Latin Twist.

Okay, so here I'm sharing my scrambled egg secrets! If you're a purist, this may not be for you...though I do encourage you to try playing around with your eggs (YES! Play with your food!); the sky's the limit! I use butter here (I love butter...), but you could use an alternate oil. Also, I've been heating my plates. Because I'm serving everyone (thanks, to all my lovely friends/family and especially to YOU Miss Norrie for help with this!), I don't want the food to cool off too the plates are warm, but not crazy hot (to burn or heat up the fruit!). 

Scrambled Eggs with Onion, Tomato, Roasted Corn, and Cilantro

Serves 12 to 15

1 bag frozen organic corn kernels (16 ounces) 
1 red onion, diced 
1 1/2 cup of or your favorite small red tomatoes, diced 
2 dozen eggs
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cilantro (or flat-leaf parsley) to taste

Heat butter in a sauté pan and sauté the corn, letting it brown before stirring, until nicely golden. Add the onions let soften, stirring frequently (a couple of minutes). Add the tomatoes and cook until well blended, about 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. 

Mix the eggs in a large bowl until frothy. Add the vegetable mixture to the egg mixture. Heat a large sauté pan (or two smaller pans) and add some butter or oil. Once hot, add the eggs. Cook, stirring frequently (burnt eggs are the worst!) until done (I like them not too dry, but not too loose, either!). Add salt and pepper, your cilantro or parsley, stir well, and serve. 

Monday, March 4, 2013

Sunday Meals: Southwestern-Style Brunch!

When I started writing this blog last year, Sunday dinners were my "big" family meal. Lately I've moved to brunch; it's easier for my almost 80 and almost 90 year-old parents, and, well, it's kind of nice to focus on a different meal. Like dinner, the possibilities are endless!

So this Sunday I went for a Southwestern theme: chili con carne (with fresh sour cream, cheese, and cilantro toppings), fresh-roasted tortillas, guacamole, scrambled eggs, toasted Italian bread slices, cheese (Dubliners and a very interesting gouda with pesto), jams (blood orange and mango-key lime), mixed grapes, and a salad (mixed greens, clementines and fresh tomatoes) with orange balsamic vinegar and basil oil. And to finish, dessert:  fresh blueberries, strawberries and blackberries—and brownies! The fans liked it! (Now I did make another dessert last week which would have been lovely with this meal: Peruvian-style Flan (crema volteada), which I wrote about on Friday in my Latin Twist Column!) 

Scrambled Eggs & Chili + Toppings 
Brownies, Fresh Fruit Medley, Clementines and a Pineapple

The recipe I'm going to share with you today is for the chili. This was a super-fast one. I had 2 pounds of chopped beef, and 2 cans of white kidney, well, I put 'em together! 

White bean and Beef Chili 

Serves 6 to 8 

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium-size red onion
Red wine
2 pounds ground beef 
1 small can tomato paste
1 teaspoon chile powder 
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (optional) 
Salt and pepper 
2 cans (15 ounces each) white kidney (or your favorite!) beans (Of course if  you have the time to soak and cook dried beans, that's always best!) 
1 jalapeño, seeded and minced (optional...I didn't add this because my parents would have liked it!) Fresh cilantro leaves, chopped 
Shredded cheeses (cheddar, Monterey Jack, or a combination!) 
Sour cream 

In a large sauté pan (or stock pot), heat the olive oil. Add the onion and sauté, stirring frequently, for about 2 minutes or until transparent. Add a splash or two of red wine and let it absorb into the onions. Then add the ground beef, tomato paste, and cook, stirring frequently. Add the spices. Once the meat is cooked, add the white beans (and jalapeño, if using). Simmer for about 15 minutes. Taste and correct seasoning.  Garnish with cilantro, and serve with additional bowls (for self serving!) of cilantro, shredded cheese, and sour cream. (People seemed to prefer putting the chili in the tortillas!)