……………………………………………………. Baking our mark

Asparagus, pea and radish salad June 27, 2012

For the first time ever, I’m growing radishes in my yard. They’re terribly exciting because the red starts to show through the soil very early – and the greens grow to be enormous rather quickly.

As a result, I’m been looking for radish recipes – and something along these lines seems to be quite the thing this summer. It’s quick, easy and really delicious.

Note that it’s important to eat this right when it’s done. While it’s still edible, refrigeration does nothing good to the dish.

Asparagus, Pea and Radish Salad– adapted from a bunch of sources; everyone seems to like some combination of radishes and peas as a summer salad

2 tsp. cumin
2 Tbs. fresh lime juice
2 tsp. honey
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 Tbs. chopped fresh dill

1.5 lbs. asparagus, tough ends discarded
5 oz. frozen peas, thawed
8 or so radishes, greens discarded, thinly sliced
1 Tbs. butter

In a small bowl, whisk together cumin, lime juice and honey. Slowly add oil, then stir in dill. Set dressing aside (or refrigerate if you’re making ahead of time).

Steam asparagus until crisp-tender (less than you normally would), then immediately transfer to an ice bath. Let it cool completely, then pat dry. At this point, you can refrigerate the asparagus for up to a day.

In a large pot, heat butter over medium. Add asparagus and heat until it begins to get warm. Then add peas and cook until vegetables are warm, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, transfer to a bowl, and stir in radishes.

Pour dressing over and stir to coat. Serve immediately.


End of Summer Rice September 12, 2011

Here in Philadelphia, it does not feel like summer has ended. It is muggy and hot and humid and muggy and humid. Yuck.

But on the bright side, my squash plant is finally showing signs of dying, so I’m delighting in what I finally know are the last squashes of summer. To celebrate, I’ve thrown together a nice rice dish that I served with sausage.

[Sorry, no photo. I packed it all up into little containers for my lunch this week before I snapped its picture.]

End of Summer Rice adapted from B.A. 

1 bell pepper, diced
2 small-medium squashes, diced
1 onion, diced
Olive oil
1 1/2 cups long-grain rice
3 cups broth – or 1/4 cup lemon juice and 2 3/4 cups water, if you’re, say, out of broth
Cayenne pepper to taste

Cook the diced veggies in olive oil, stirring frequently, until onions begin to become translucent and all have softened. Then, add rice and continue to cook for 1 to 2 minutes more. Dump in your liquid and spices, cover, and cook for about 20 minutes, or until water has been absorbed.

Healthy, simple, and delicious with some nice spicy Italian sausage on top.


Cold Black Bean & Corn Salad July 25, 2011

Filed under: Dinner,Lunch,Salad,Side dish,Vegetarian — Michelle Jackson @ 2:00 pm
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Emphasis here is on the cold part of this salad.  I’ve been having a really hard time with cooking lately… my bedroom thankfully has a/c, but the rest of our house does not, so anything requiring even so much as a microwave heat-up has been painful. But, all of K’s beautiful no-heat-necessary recipes of late have inspired me to get my butt back into gear, and actually make something beyond sliced watermelon for dinner. The result is a really versatile salad with lots of options to include protein and spiciness. Eat with tofu (like I did), with salad greens and toasted flatbread, or just by itself. Please excuse the terrible photo… that’s a heat glare.

1 can black beans

2 cans chickpeas

1 can sweet corn

1 can black olives

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 tablespoon spicy brown mustard

1/8 cup olive oil

1/8 cup balsamic vinegar

Black pepper, garlic powder, cumin, paprika, hot sauce to taste.

Combine the drained beans, corn, and olives in a large bowl, and toss with mustard/oil/vinegar and spices. Eat with lightly pan-fried tofu (pictured) or with a cup of fresh spinach. Couscous or rice would also be tasty. This makes quite a bit, so refrigerate the leftovers overnight to get a stronger marinated flavor.


Shaved Squash Salad June 22, 2011

At my [rented] house in Philadelphia, I have a vast, spacious yard tiny patio with a large[ish] planter box. It is just perfect for growing squash. My squash plants have become, since I first planted them in April, crazy giant monster plants. So, now, I have an incredible amount of squash. [The boyfriend is quite pleased that it’s a mild yellow squash – he was worried he was going to get saddled with pounds of butternut squash when I told him what I planted.]  So, when I saw a recipe on B.A. for a squash salad that involves no cooking but lots of garlic, I knew I had to try it. And, it’s great. Went quite nicely with the other things I served at my recent mini-dinner party.

Shaved Squash Salad 

3 Tbs. almonds, roasted, then coarsely chopped
1 lb. summer squash [I used 2 yellow squashes and 1 zucchini]
3 to 4 handfuls of baby arugula

Dressing [I doubled this part of the recipe since I like the flavor of garlic better than the flavor of squash]
2.5 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbs. lemon juice
1 minced garlic clove
Salt and pepper

Trim the ends off summer squash. Using a vegetable peeler, thinly slice the squash lengthwise into strips and transfer to a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the dressing, then pour over squash shavings. “Toss” (as much as you can toss squash shavings) to coat, and let rest for a few minutes. Then, add some handfuls of baby arugula to the mix.

Garnish with the almonds. [Yes, it’s worth it to buy almonds – without the texture differential in there, the salad doesn’t seem as exciting.]


Goodbye Spring Dinner: Chocolate Cupcakes with Fresh Berries June 21, 2011

I know everyone else wants June 21 to be the first days of summer…but I think of it as a farewell to spring. Not that I love spring or anything, but I just really don’t like summer. (For everyone with a vision of beaches dancing in their heads, I now want you to think about walking 3 miles in business attire every day. I also want you to think about how you didn’t actually do all the pushups you intended to do, so you don’t look any better in your summer outfits this summer than you did last summer.)

Anyways – to say farewell to the cool(er) days of spring (and to accommodate the busy schedules of our socializing compatriots), I had a little weekday dinner with some lovely friends who were brave enough to try whatever the heck I wanted to serve and nice enough to bring some really delicious beer.

Goodbye Spring Dinner Menu

Burrata, Strawberry and Basil Salad  [in case you haven’t heard, burrata is quite the “in” thing right now–this was my excuse to serve one]

Squash Salad

Apricot Chicken over Ginger Rice

-Summer cupcakes: Chocolate cupcakes with fresh berries

Summer cupcakes

Starting with your favorite chocolate cake base (homemade or from a box, whatever suits you), whip up a batch of mini-cupcakes. Mini-cupcakes are best since it allows you to stack more berries on top…without making the desserts so large that no one can bite them. Plus, as I’ve pointed out before, where a girl won’t eat a full cupcake, she’ll eat a mini-cupcake or two since they’re small.

1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup confectioners sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 pint fresh berries of your choice (Raspberries and blackberries are lovely)
And if you’re feeling fancy:
3 oz. chocolate
1/2 Tbs. butter

If you’re doing the fancy version, first melt the chocolate and butter, blending well and being careful not to burn or otherwise destroy the chocolate. Spread this nice, shiny mixture on top of each cupcake and let it cool. It doesn’t need to be pretty, since you’re just going to cover it up with whipped cream.

In a large bowl using a handmixer, or in the bowl of your large mixer using the whisk attachment, combine whipping cream, sugar, and vanilla. Whip the cream until it becomes fluffy. Be careful not to over-blend, or you’ll make butter. The amount of time needed will vary largely based on the tool you’re using.

Scoop the whipped cream into a large ziploc bag, close the top, then cut off one corner of the bag to make a handy piping bag. (If you have a piping bag, go ahead and use that.) Pipe the whipped cream onto each cupcake, putting enough on to allow the berries to stick to something.

Top with as many berries as will fit on the top of each cupcake.

[Ok, ok, it’s not really a recipe – you know how to do all this stuff already – but maybe you just needed a new idea for an easy summer dessert that looks much more elegant than the effort warrants.]


Curried Mango Quinoa Salad June 16, 2011

M and I, though we haven’t lived in the same apartment for 3 years now–and we never cooked them together when we did share an abode, both love quinoa salads. I’d say that they’re just perfect for warm weather, as M also recently made a delicious berry quinoa salad.  But, they’re also nice in the fall and winter, as evidenced by our fall vegetable quinoa hash and pomegranate quinoa dish. Basically, we eat them year-round. I just happened to make a summery one.

I made this one to take to a fancy shmancy barbecue that, sadly, we weren’t able to attend since the boyfriend didn’t feel well. So, I’ve been eating what I intended to leave there (yes, for you, my vegetarian friend who’s eaten on the road too much lately) and thoroughly enjoying it. It goes quite well with the kale-mushroom quiche I made this week.

Curried Mango Quinoa Salad from Bon Appetit

1 cup quinoa, cooked according to package directions, then cooled
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 Tbs. cider or white wine vinegar
1 Tbs. mango chutney [preserves also work if you don’t have chutney]
1 1/2 tsp. curry powder
1/4 tsp. dry mustard
1 cup chopped, peeled mango, plus mango spears for garnish
1 cup chopped cucumber
4 Tbs. chopped green onion, plus 1 Tbs. for garnish
Baby spinach

In a small bowl, mix together oil, vinegar, chutney, and spices, whisking well to blend.

In a larger bowl, combine cooled quinoa, mango, cucumber, and green onion, mixing to combine. Then add about 3/4 of the dressing, tossing all to coat.

To serve, place a bed of baby spinach on a plate, then spoon quinoa mixture on top of greens. Add more dressing as desired. Garnish with the mango spears and reserved green onions.

Also, in case you’re not an expert mango chopper, here’s B.A.’s tip:

Cut mango in half lengthwise, slicing around the pit. Cut a half-inch grid into flesh of each half. Using your thumbs, push up skin side so cubes stick out. Slice off cubes at base.

Cooking Together: Summer Berry Quinoa Salad May 30, 2011

This weekend, we actually got together to cook, instead of just prepping meals from our kitchens in separate states. The results were lovely  – and we did a typically excellent job of combining ceaseless conversation with red wine, good food, and packaged cookies.

Since it was incredibly hot, we opted for some low-cooking dishes that didn’t require too much attention to the stove. (Yes, K decided that throwing a frozen pizza in the oven counted as dinner, and yes it was M who made the healthy salad.)

Summer Berry Quinoa Salad

For the salad:

4 cups cooked quinoa (2 cups dry quinoa + 4 cups water)

1 pint strawberries, washed/trimmed and cut into small pieces

2-3 bunches scallions, diced

1-2 cucumbers, diced

For the marinade:

balsamic vinegar

olive oil

lime juice

garlic powder

black pepper


Cook the quinoa according to directions on your package (for us, that meant combining the water and quinoa in a sauce pan, bring that to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes until the water is evaporated.)  Set that aside and prepare the strawberries, cucumber(s), and scallions.

Now, start the marinade. Here’s the thing about my marinades: I don’t measure at all. So if we’re ballparking things, here’s what you do (obviously to taste): in a small bowl mix together equal parts balsamic and oil (start off with 2 tablespoons each if you feel the need to measure this) and then spice to taste. Mix in about 2 tablespoons lime juice, and then pour the mixture over the strawberries, cucumbers, and scallions. If you need more marinade, repeat the above. If not, combine the berry mixture with the quinoa and refrigerate for about 15-20 minutes (or until the quinoa is cool… you want this to be a cold salad).  This can be made the day before if you like– the marinade probably will taste better the next day too.