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Friday, June 24, 2011

Mozzarella, Tomato, and Strawberry Salad

I've made, and eaten, many salads with tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and basil, but this is the first time I've added strawberries to the mix. The addition of the berries is a fine idea, or a bonne idee, in Dorie's words.

Once you have the ingredients out on the counter, the preparation couldn't be easier.

Slice a half-pound ball of fresh mozzarella cheese in eight slices. Dorie says that buffalo mozzarella is the best, but it wasn't at my grocery store and I didn't feel like trekking around town to locate it.

Cut strawberries and tomatoes (I used cherry) into more or less equal pieces, and mix with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper. Since I didn't have the suggested pink peppercorns, I used Hawaiian pink sea salt to give a little additional color.

Add some basil (now that it's summer, I can just pick some from the pots outside my back door), and there you have it.

I served this salad with salmon patties, made from a recipe in the latest Cook's Illustrated. This is also a simple recipe: put fresh salmon, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, panko breadcrumbs, lemon juice, parsley, salt, pepper, and a bit of cayenne in a food processor. Pulse a few times; shape into patties; dip both sides into more panko crumbs, and pan fry a few minutes on both sides.

I like trying new recipes so much that I usually don't get around to repeating them, even the successful ones. But this is a menu I could happily eat once a week forever.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Warm Weather Pot au Feu

Because I missed the cardamom rice pilaf (and maybe another recipe that I don't even remember), this is the second post in a row where a soft-boiled or poached egg adds protein and heft to what might otherwise seem a slim offering. In fact, this pot au feu, so abundant in vegetables, made me fear that this would be a dinner Jim would eat with a long-suffering expression on his face. "Where's the meat?" his long face would clearly say. Then he'd finish dinner, and go munch down a few pitiful saltine crackers.

When he came out to the kitchen to take some photographs, all he saw was piles of vegetables. He thinks vegetables are photogenic, so he didn't mind, but I saw him glancing at the ingredients, and then at the recipe. I'm sure he grumbled, "looks like healthy gruel," under his breath, but he soldiered on, taking pictures of the basil, tarragon, and parsley coulis, but still looking for evidence of meat or carbs.

He gave up hope when I added the spinach and told him I was done, except for ladling it in bowls. But then he spied the eggs in simmering water, and asked if I was going to add soft-boiled eggs again. (Again! Twice in 44 years, and he's talking like it's an everyday occurrence).

As it turned out, he was crazy about this dish. (As was I, but that wasn't much of a surprise--I like vegetables more than he does, and don't object to meals without meat). He said he really liked too the flavors, and that all the vegetables were cooked perfectly--not soggy, but not underdone either. He especially liked the dollops of herb coulis that I added along with the egg. And he's now a big fan of eggs in unexpected places.

Speaking of unexpected, I was recently given an "Awards Galore" blogging award by Allison, from French Whisk ("Vancouver Living and Dreaming of Paris"). I love her blog--Vancouver and Paris are two of my favorite cities. Thanks, Allison.

I'll pass the award on to a couple of my favorite bloggers:

Evil Cake Lady, AKA the more mundane Jennifer, who also lives in Vancouver,
Pink Nest (whose blogging adventures I've been following for years),
My cake-baking buddy HanaĆ¢, and
Jenn, who can do anything.