Summer Salad

Apparently I have a “Summer Salad”. I made that up yesterday. But it’s divine and delicious and now I’ll have to invent a “Winter Salad”. I’ve never been a sweet and savory kinda gal, but this salad is just perfection to my taste buds.

Lex’s Summer Salad:
- a hefty helping of watermelon, cut into large cubes. I use two or four small melons for about 10 people.
- fresh mint. To taste. It really depends if you like things minty or not. I like my mint to be subtle…and I don’t like to chop it too fine either. I think “torn” leaves is better.
- feta cheese
- balsamic

Cube the watermelon. Eat lots while you do it. Toss in the mint and sprinkle with feta. I try not to be too heavy handed with the feta, it’s amazing how just a little goes a long way for flavor. Lightly douse with balsamic, again to taste. Hello, summer!

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Just peachy

A quick dessert idea turned into something quite delicious and indulgent tonight: Greek yoghurt mixed with Cool Whip (yup, Cool Whip!) to taste, with white chocolate chips folded in. I then mixed in ribbons of fresh mint from my garden. To top it off, peaches soaked in a homemade Marsala syrup (boil sugar, lemon rind, vanilla bean and Marsala wine), and…mmmmmm! We served the kids without the peaches and indolged in the rest ourselves!

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Adam and Eve

Please someone out there tell me that you have a slow cooker recipe for something like the divine beef ribs at Cherry Creek Grill, also knows as Bandera in some cities. I was planning on only eating half but this was far too heavenly. Not too BBQ flavored, but sticky and delicious! I hope my friend Courney wasn’t offended by me gnawing at the bones.

BTW – my very favorite thing about this restaurant, which has kept me coming back for 13 years, is that the service is exceptional, every time, bar none.

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The Quinoa Queen

For the past few months I’ve been learning more about eating clean. That is removing as much of the chemical junk from our diets as possible. There are several strong proponent of this movement, like Tosca Reno, and several great publications like Clean Eating which offer easily manageable ideas and concepts to implement. And I have to say that its becoming easier and easier to do.
One of the things I’ve been enjoying experimenting with is grains. Bored of brown rice night after night, I’ve discovered just how easy it is to cook things that I had previously though way too tricky, like Quinoa. I’m not a big fan of having to soak things overnight, and the less prep involved the more likely it’s going to become and menu staple in our house. Part of my weekly grocery shop is a few bags of Quinoa. If I have extra time I’ll toast it or give it a quick browning in a pan before I cook it, but it’s quite delicious plan after a quick rinse. 2 parts liquid to one cup of Quinoa, and I generally make that liquid a vegetable or chicken broth. Bring it all to a boil, 15 minutes more at a simmer and you’re done. I often prepare all sorts of goodies to throw into our adult portions, like tomato, pine nuts, parsley, celery and onion (not all together!) and I leave the kids’ plain. I’ve even done a version with golden raisins and apricots. I often think that it needs a dash of sea salt before I serve it, depending on what’s inside. My boys love the Quinoa, Mia has to be bribed, and sometimes does her gagging act at the table. But she does the same thing with brown rice, so maybe it’s just a grains thing…

PS: My friend Pam Mathews just shared this delicious lookin’ recipe from the New York Times with me. The possibilities are endless!

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On the straight and Farro

Since I’ve been on a grain discovery, my latest find is Farro. I bet you’ll see it popping up all over the place soon, but it’s becoming more common on the Whole Foods’ shelves where you can find it in the dry bulk bins and also packaged on the shelf, where it is sometimes cheaper per pound. Be aware that some Whole Foods’ get it a little wrong and shelve it with the pastas. No idea why. It’s clearly a grain.
Farro has a wholesome taste and is much less earthy than it looks. If you cook it more on the al dente side (can grains be al dente?), it is chewy, but not in a bad way! Cook it longer and it resembles the consistency of a hearty brown rice. It’s very flavorful and I’m creating all sort of recipes to accompany dishes I’m making. For example, the other day I made a Greek chicken casserole, and used Farro with sun dried tomato paste, flat leaf parsley and feta cheese. A perfect replacement for a salad, and it was wonderful cold the next day for lunch too!

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Jerusalem Artichoke Chicken

 

Since I’m on a big roast chicken blitz lately, I wanted to share a recipe from my high school friend Mor Getz who now lives in Israel. I haven’t made this dish, but it sounds delish!
- Massage the whole chicken with honey on the oven dish
- Put paprika and yeminite spices or other on both sides of the chicken
- Add rice directly on top of the oven tray
- Add bay leaves
- Wrap the sweet potato in aluminium foil
- Lay down the Jerusalem Artichoke next to the chicken (unwrapped)
- Add one glass of water onto the oven dish (you’ll need to add another in about 20 minutes when you turn the chicken)
- After turning the chicken leave for 20 minutes and cover with aluminium foil
- 20 minutes later add 1 more glass of water and turn the temperature from 200-180 so the sweet potato can bake and the chicken will not burn
- The time this takes to bake is well worth it.
TIP: Not for the faint hearted- this is the actual SECRET to the recipe – I layed down 3 complete pieces of anchovies (yes yes) on the top side of the chicken – you will barely feel it and nobody will notice, but it is a must. Before I closed the oven I dropped the anchovy oil all around.
When I make this recipe, I’m going to go easy on the paprika to serve the little one’s taste buds, and I love that the artichoke is separate as a yummy grown-up accompaniment. Sounds delish!
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Matzos Memories

Chag Sameach to all my tribespeople. Let the Matzos eating begin. Really, there isn’t another time of year that I enjoy dried crackers as much.

I remember when I was a wee girl (ok, I was never really “wee”), staying over at my friend Chemdat’s bungalow in Clifton. They were Israeli. And close to the beach. And she had a older sister. And a younger one. All of which was really fun. And we played phone pranks. And Chemdat knew how to make this most delicious matzos, egg and if I remember correctly, apricot jam dish that I have a craving for every year. And a beach bungalow, but that’s another issue all together.

Holidays are the stuff of memories, and if you have one, and an accompanying recipe, please share it here with us this week.

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