Salads are a traditional dish often served at the beginning of a meal. But there are so many different kinds of salads that they really can fit in anywhere.
This particular Carrot Avocado Salad will go nicely as a side dish. Carrots are a wonderful vegetable with their distinctive color and lovely sweet, crunchy flavor.
Carrots originated in Holland and, it is said, up until about 500 years ago were always purple. Has anyone seen a purple carrot in their lifetime? Carrots are quite nutritious containing large amounts vitamin A and decent amounts of B3, C and E. If you eat them raw they also contain potassium, calcium, iron and zinc; but these are partially destroyed when cooked.
So be sure to add raw carrots to your salads.
When buying carrots organic is particularly important as they will have a much finer flavor than non-organic. Also, look for very thin carrots with the top greens still attached. They will keep in your refrigerators vegetable drawer for several days.
Valuable nutrients lie just below the skin in carrots. So when preparing for cooking or eating raw follow these guidelines. If they are young and pencil thin just scrub them. Older bigger carrots can be scraped with a knife or peeled. Don’t forget to nip off each end.
To boil carrots cut them into the shape you want, such 1/8” to 1/4” slices cut on the bias, (at an angle). Boil a pot of water with a little salt and a touch of sugar. Drop in your carrots being careful not to splash yourself. Cook them for the time it takes to be aldente, still slightly crunchy. Remove to a colander to drain. For this recipe stop the cooking process by placing them in an ice water bath for just a few minutes. Then drain them again.
Carrot Avocado Salad
2 limes, zested then juiced
3 Tbl extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbl agave nectar, (or honey)
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1 1/4 lb carrots
1avocado, small diced
3 green onions, cleaned and chopped
Salt to taste
Fresh ground pepper to taste
Lightly toss the avocado dice with 1/2 of the lime juice.
Place the rest of the lime juice in a small pot with the extra virgin olive oil, agave nectar, lime zest, red pepper and dry mustard. Heat until hot, remove from heat and let stand.
Cook carrots according to the paragraph above. When cooled pat dry and add them to a large mixing bowl. Toss carrots with the warm dressing; add salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste. Lightly toss with the avocado and place in a serving bowl. Garnish with the chopped green onion.
It’s all about flavor. Today we are going to concern ourselves with Asian flavors.
In considering Asian flavors we have many starting points, Chinese and Japanese will be the two largest cuisines along with Vietnamese, Thai or Cambodian. We could even think about Mongolian.
How many of you have ever had a Mongolian Fire Pot dinner? I was fortunate enough to partake of this international culinary delight in the middle of February up in the Boundary Waters Wilderness Area of Northern Minnesota. We were in Yurts, round canvas tents usually with a wood floor. It was cold outside, definitely below zero, and we had to go down to the lake and chop a hole in the ice to get water. The closest thing to a Mongolian Fire Pot Dinner, (aka Chinese Hot Pot), would be hot oil fondue.
One of the truly amazing delights about this meal were the sauces. Like fondue, all of the meats and vegetables were cut into bite sized pieces. To cook the food there is a circular trough, (filled with chicken or vegetable broth), about 3 to 4 inches deep that sits about half way up a 14 inch inverted cone. Hot coals from the fire are placed in the bottom of the inverted cone and this heats up the broth to a simmer. Each lucky diner places some meat and/or vegetable into the broth to cook, (poach).
Besides the plated raw foods the table will be host to at least a dozen different sauces. From hot to mild, from heavy dark concoctions to light and fruity. The whole experience is an absolute treat and the sauces are the proverbial icing on the cake. Electric versions of the hot pot are available for home use. Though it may lack some of the ambience of the wilderness, but should contain all of the flavor.
I am a firm believer in making your own sauces and this column has published many sauce recipes. Stores want to sell you bottled sauces that were made at the food factory, but you cannot bottle the great flavors that are achievable in making your own. Here’s a recipe for Teriyaki Sauce. This can be used as a sauce, a marinade or a glaze. As always, be sure to use the best quality ingredients you can get, you are worth it.
1/2 cup lower sodium soy sauce
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup sweet rice wine, (Mirin)
3 Tbl brown sugar
3 Tbl white sugar
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 1/2 tsp grated fresh ginger
1/2 Tbl corn starch
1 Tbl water
Combine all sauce ingredients in a small sauce pan. Bring to a simmer for about 5 minutes.
To thicken, combine water and cornstarch, whisk into simmering sauce, should thicken within a minute. Remove from heat to cool.
Optional ingredients: wasabi, toasted sesame oil, toasted sesame seeds, molasses, sherry, crushed red pepper flakes or honey.
Make your own signature sauce, enjoy!
Studies indicate that the average family cycles through 12 different dinner selections, week after week, throughout the year. You add to that a few holiday specials with “dish to pass” favorites and it still leaves us without much variety.
One of the purposes of this column is to spark the readers imagination, to try new recipes and learn new techniques. There will still be the family comfort foods, but the number of these can go up.
Today we are looking at crepes, and not just any crepes, these are wheat free/gluten free. Filled with baked salmon and coupled with a Mustard Dill Sauce we will be in culinary heaven.
Mustard Dill Sauce
Makes 1 1/2 cups
1/2 cup coarse grained mustard
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 tsp sugar
Pinch of salt
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
In a mixing bowl whisk all ingredients thoroughly. If not using soon, refrigerate up to 2 days. Allow sauce to come to room temperature before using.
Crepes, Wheat Free/Gluten Free
1 1/2 cups brown rice flour
4 eggs, beaten
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbl fresh thyme
1/2 cup water
3 Tbl melted, unsalted butter, cooled
Whisk all ingredients thoroughly. Lightly grease and preheat your crepe pan. Don’t have a crepe pan? Then a 10 inch non stick skillet will do. Place a short 1/4 cup of batter in the pan. It should be thin enough to spread out quickly into an even circle. If too thick thin it out with a little more water. Cook each side to a light golden brown.
36 oz skinless salmon filets
Your favorite seafood rub from my previous columns
2 Tbl extra virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 400.
Rinse and pat dry filets. Place them on a foiled baking sheet that has been treated with non stick cooking spray. Combine the olive oil with the dry rub and gently rub into the top and sides of the filets.
Bake at 400 only 10 minutes per inch of thickness. Most filets of this type are about 1 inch thick. If smaller reduce baking time accordingly.
When salmon has baked, place filets in a bowl and break up into large chunks. Fold in some of the Mustard Dill Sauce and divide between all of the crepes. Roll up the crepes and place on plates seam side down. Top each with a dollop of sauce and a small sprig of fresh dill. Enjoy!
As an option you may steam up some asparagus and include in the filling or place a few spears on top.
Healthy snacks for ourselves, our kids and our guests can seem daunting especially when store shelves are filled with factory made convenience foods. But, if you’re looking to avoid the convenience trap, try this take on roasted nuts.
All foods have several different flavor profiles. Certainly raw would be first. But one of the next is roasting. Roasting alters the flavor and is immensely appealing to our taste buds. The roasting option can be enhanced by adding other flavors.
With this simple recipe for Herb Roasted Nuts you can easily see how the flavor profile can be broadened with other ingredients.
Herb Roasted Nuts
3 cups whole, unbalanced raw almonds
1 1/2 cups whole walnuts, or pecans (oh heck, or both)
1 1/2 Tbl chopped fresh thyme, or other herb
1 Tbl brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1 Tbl unsalted butter, melted
Optional - pinches of cayenne pepper
Preheat oven to 375
Line your largest baking sheet with foil. Add nuts and roast for 10 to 12 minutes stirring once halfway through.
While these are roasting blend all other ingredients in a large bowl. When nuts are done pour out into bowl and toss with the other ingredients. Allow to cool, serve!
When sautéing or grilling chicken breasts the difficulty lies in the proper amount of time to apply heat. One end of the breast is rather thicker than the other. So the thinner end over cooks while the thicker end is still a little underdone. The simple solution is to bring the overall thickness into harmony.
Place your boneless, skinless chicken breast between two pieces of plastic wrap, or simply put it into a plastic bag. Take your mallet and pound the thicker end down to about one half inch thickness. Repeat with the rest of your chicken breasts. Now they will cook evenly without half of it drying out.
At this point some recipes call for a marinade. Any flavor packed liquid to soak the meat for about one hour. Asian marinades are quite popular when grilling. Mix together some teriyaki sauce, soy sauce, crushed garlic, grated ginger, brown sugar, hot sauce, lime juice, 5 spice powder and anything else you feel might please the family.
Place the marinade in a plastic bag with the chicken breasts and as you close the bag squeeze out as much of the air as you can. Massage the sauce into the breasts. Allow to marinade for no more than one hour.
Pre heat your grill and be sure to oil the grate so the meat won’t stick. Remove meat from the bag and grill over medium heat for about 4 minutes per side. When grilling the first side turn the breast 90 degrees halfway through the grilling to give you that nice diamond grill marking. After you remove the breasts from the marinade you may want to bring the liquid to a boil and then brush it on the meat after the first turn.
Serve with a garnish chopped green onion and a side of rice. Enjoy!
American Culinary Federation
Growing up in a family of talented cooks, Chef Darrel was introduced to the wonders of the kitchen as a child. Going on to earn a degree in culinary arts, he studied in the U.S. and Italy. He is a member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists and the American Culinary Federation.