Category Archives: small bites

mixing it up

I love munching, especially on sweet and salty things. I am American after all. My sister-in-law and I, as she substitute taught for me recently, exchanged the following text messages:

Maggie: Found dried fruit in your desk drawer. Can I have some?

Me: Please! Help yourself!

Maggie: I see there is only fruit left in the peanut butter cup trail mix… nice Lindsey.

But let’s cut to the chase: since I saw my friend Claire make this superb snack, I’ve been desperate to eat whip it up myself. A sedentary grad student (points to self) hardly burns sufficient calories reading, typing, blogging, thinking. Did this hinder my eating a quarter of the batch?? No.

When the hubs, along with The Woodsboys, embarked on a 35-mile hike, I had fun making little portions for each of the guys. That is, what was left at this point. With enthusiastic man-approval, the WoodsBoys’ declared this recipe their top-pick.

Oh, did I forget to mention it’s no-skill, 20-minutes, 5-ingredient trail mix??

And it’s pretty.

Pumpkin Seed Dried Cherry Trail Mix

from Claire Robinson, makes about 6 cups

2 cups pumpkin seeds (also called pepitas)

1 cup slivered almonds

3/4 cup raw sunflower seeds

6 tbsp. pure Grade B maple syrup

1 cup dried cranberries or cherries

(plus coarse salt)

Note: Purchasing the nuts and seeds in bulk (at Whole Foods or another grocer) makes this snack very affordable.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

In a large bowl, toss the pumpkin seeds, almonds, and sunflower seeds and the syrup until evenly coated. Spread the nuts and seeds out, in an even single layer, on the lined baking sheets and season with salt to taste.  Bake the nuts, stirring several times with spatula or wooden spoon, until just golden, about 20 minutes.

Cool the nuts completely on the pan, then add the cherries and toss to combine. Store cooled trail mix in an airtight container at room temperature. Or put in cute baggies to send off with those nuts who like sleeping in the rain with the bugs…

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earning your [favorite dessert here]

A family friend recently asked (regarding my veggie-loving, meat-free diet), “Lindsey, I just don’t understand what you order when you go out for fast food” to which I could only respond, “Well, I don’t eat fast food.” I realize this is a lifestyle choice, and the next few thoughts explore why it’s mine.

Now I think dinner in 20 minutes does count as (pretty-darn) fast food, but, yes, it requires planning ahead—precisely why I write this handy blog for you! The following grilled treat is healthy and creamy-wonderful; I simply do not believe there has to be a trade-off between enjoying food and treating your body well. Lately I’ve been considering whether this perspective is an adoptee thing?

It feels like people around me are always yapping about their genes, “A strong heart runs in the family, I just eat what I want…” Or persistent co-worker: “We’ve always had good cholesterol on Dad’s side, I don’t need to worry about sodium”. Maybe two decades of checking the not applicable box on those medical history forms has led me to the silly assumption I’ve got take things into my own hands mouth and eat foods that will best provide my body with nutritious fuel. Adoptees often don’t know of historical health on which they can rely, not that this makes all of us vegetarians…

I love to eat, I live for cheese; I cook at home so my food can be delicious and controlled in salt and fat (motive: so I can live a long time traveling the world with Andrew, who has enviable genes). Call me nuts for considering this concoction a complete meal, but it was divine and followed by a well-earned a gelato date with the hubs. Andrew my Chicken-Loving Man loved this, called it restaurant material. Gene-ius 😉

Grilled Corn and Feta Bruschetta

based on a June 2011 recipe from Bon Appetit

2 ears corn, shucked

1 tbsp. vegetable oil

1/2 loaf fresh ciabatta bread

1/2 garlic clove

1/4 cup sour cream (or crema mexicana)

3 tbsp. crumbled feta

1 large tomato, chopped

1 lime

fresh herbs (cilantro, basil, or chives)

chili powder

kosher salt

fresh black pepper

Grill the corn

If you want to speed along the corn cooking (and avoid charred, raw kernels), consider partially cooking the cobs in the microwave. When ready to grill, rub the corn with vegetable oil and season with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper. Grill over medium heat until lightly charred and tender. Slice corn off the cob in wide strips.

Season the Bread

Cut the loaf into one-inch slices; stack the slices and cut them in half (I found grilling smaller pieces the second night—not pictured—made for easier eating). Lightly brush the bread slices with olive oil and grill on each side until slightly charred (just 3 or so minutes on each side, keep on eye on ’em). Immediately rub the top of each slice with the cut side of the garlic—a rustic Italian technique you will love.

Assemble the bruschetta

Mix the sour cream with feta (I used fat-free sour cream).

Smear the toasts with the cheese mixture and top with the grilled corn and chopped tomatoes. Squeeze a generous amount of lime juice over each and garnish with your favorite herb (a must). Top with chili powder (also essential; I use a completely mild chili powder and it adds lovely smokey flavor to the corn and lime).

Without a Grill?

If you find this recipe as alluring as I did on paper, you can replicate it without a grill by cooking the corn (either in the oven with this fabulous method, or cutting off the cob and then sautéing in olive oil until tender). Brush the bread slices with olive oil and toast on a baking sheet in a 400F oven until lightly brown, rubbing the garlic on the bread as soon as it’s out of the oven.

Pepita and Spinach Salad

inspired by an April 2011 taco recipe from Epicurious

1 large tomato, chopped

1/4 cup roasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

1/3 cup canned chickpeas

1/2 lime

3/4 cup packed spinach leaves, stacked, rolled, and thinly sliced

kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1/2 avocado, peeled, seeded, cut into chunks

1 oz. feta cheese, crumbled

olive oil

If the pumpkin seeds are raw, toast them until fragrant in a dry, medium-hot skillet. Toast the chickpeas in a large skillet with a drizzle of olive oil and stir until brown and crisp.

Combine the sliced spinach and tomatoes with a generous squeeze of fresh lime and small drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper. Add the feta, avocado, chickpeas, and seeds just before serving.

More about my most adored indoor grill here. And have you checked out the updated About Lindsey tab??

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fit for family: part two (or getting your frico on)

As I was writing in the last post, it’s simple to make an elegant meal with few, fresh ingredients. When you’re lucky enough to access fresh veggies and cheeses from the farmer’s market, there is something extra special about your meal. Of course, the best part, whether a mother’s day meal or Friday night with friends, is your own presentation. I can’t say hard work and sweat because this is really a basics kind of meal (though you will call me a phony when you see the Strawberry Chips below…)

To accompany my original Springtime Casareccia with Basil & Fresh Ricotta, a basic but thrilling little salad:

Leaf-Lettuce Salad with Parmesan Crisps

from Great Food Fast, serves 6

1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (2 ounces)

3/4 lb. red or green leaf lettuce

1 fresh lemon, zested and juiced

1 tsp. Dijon mustard

1/2 small garlic clove

1/4 cup fresh herbs (basil, parsley, chives, or a mix)

3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

coarse salt and fresh ground pepper

You will need parchment paper, or a silicone baking mat

Bake the Frico

Frico (freek-o) is a delicate parmesan wafer that adds a spectacular dash of Unexpected to a very simple salad. Even if you overbake the batch by a minute or two—points to self—they remain impressively cheesey and elegant.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Divide the cheese into four mounds on a parchment-lined baking sheet, at least four-inches apart. With the back of a spoon, spread each mound into an even 4-inch round.

Frico stores well as room temperature for a few days. I stacked the wafers between parchment paper for safe travel.

Bake until melted and golden brown, about 10 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through. With a thin metal spatula, transfer the crisps to a wire rack and let cool.

Tear the lettuce leaves into bite-size pieces.

Mix the dressing

In a blender (or small food processor), combine 2 tbsp. lemon juice, zest, mustard, garlic, and herbs (I used chives and basil). With the motor running, add the olive oil in a steady stream.

(This can also be whisked together by hand; chop the herbs and garlic fine). Salt and pepper the dressing, taste to balance the acid adding more oil if necessary.

Just before serving, add the dressing to the lettuce along with salt and pepper. Serve the salad with frico atop.

Speaking of the unexpected, strawberry chips are one of those Special Occasion accessories for a simple dessert. My sister-in-law (doing her part, and also saving my can’t-bake-worth-squat butt) provided homemade brownies and vanilla ice cream. This little garnish was so intriguing on paper, I was thrilled to have a holiday to try them out.

Strawberry Chips

scribbled down from my working days at Azafran

1/4 lb. strawberries

3/4 cup sugar

you will also need: pastry brush, parchment paper

Preheat the oven to 225F (or 200 for a convection oven).

Boil the sugar syrup

In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and 3/4 cup water and bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes or until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

Slice the strawberries

Slice the stems off the strawberries so that the berries have a flat end. Slice the strawberries on a mandolin or line up the berries and thinly slice with a sharp knife.

Bake the strawberry slices

help from the hubs!

Lay out the strawberry slices on the baking pans (lined with parchment baking or silicone mats). With a pastry brush, paint a thin layer of sugar syrup over each strawberry. Bake (convection: 30 to 45 minutes; regular oven: 40 to 50 minutes), rotating the pans halfway through baking.

To test if the chips are done, remove one from the oven and allow it to cool on the counter.  If it is crispy once it has cooled, then it’s done. If the slices are browning, take them out of the oven. Remove the slices from the pan while they are hot, and cool on a clean, dry countertop.

These chips are a crunchy note on any creamy dessert, or a remarkable sweet snack. The original recipe calls for 1 lb. of strawberries for 60 strawberry chips; they keep well in a sealed container for 2 weeks. Keep them in a cool place. Or impress your mother-in-law 🙂

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charleston chickpeas

No, these garbanzos are not native to our vacation locale. My Alice-in-law asked what we might bring for kitchen basics, and I couldn’t help but grab several cans of chickpeas from our well-stocked cabinet.

For a week of cooking at the beach, I needed to pack my essentials: kitchen scissors, citrus zester, mini food processor, chef’s knife, mini whisk. Three spices: cinnamon, red chile pepper, and my new favorite smoked paprika. Along with olive oil, salt and pepper, these really cover the bases!

I’m a funny little vegetarian (in more ways than you can imagine); I really don’t like beans—and wouldn’t it be helpful if I did? Like my distaste for meat, it’s all a texture thing. My one exception is chickpeas, and preferably when they’re crunchy. What a fabulous, fiber-filled snack. It’s like healthy bar food.

Paprika is a subtle, mild spice of dried, ground sweet peppers. While it is often used for color alone, smoked paprika adds such a smokey essence it almost has a bacon flavor. Far from my vegetarian tastebuds, but so fabulous I’m in love.

Crunchy Paprika Chickpeas

makes 2 cups, adapted from Fresh Flavors Fast

2 cans (15.5 ounces each) chickpeas

3 tbsp. olive oil

1.5 tsp. coarse salt

1.5 tsp. smoked paprika

Be wary of extra-virgin olive oil here. It has such a low burning point, it will smoke and pop under the high heat. I nearly set our oven on fire and scarcely avoided spattering oil burns. Pure olive oil, or another oil with a high smoking point (grapeseed or canola) is safest when crisping these beans in the oven.

Preheat the oven to 450F. Drain and rinse chickpeas, patting dry with a paper towel. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet, and drizzle with oil; toss to coat evenly. Spread in a single layer and roast until deep brown and crispy, tossing occasionally, 35-40 minutes.

Remove from the oven, sprinkle with salt and paprika; roast until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes more. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and let cool completed. Chickpeas can be stored up to 2 days at room temperature in an airtight container.

A faster, stovetop method I use most days after work:

Add the drained chickpeas to a very large skillet (I prefer a 12″ nonstick) with olive oil over medium heat. Stir occasionally until crisp, then stir in smoked paprika. This is a great time for a splatter screen if you’ve got one; my itty IKEA investment has been well worth it—far less oil on our stove!

Upside to the stovetop method: the chickpeas crisp in about 10 minutes… and you can snack while you cook.

Upside to the oven method: you can leave the chickpeas alone for 40 minutes, and they develop the deep crunch of an almond under such heat.

I made these smoked paprika chickpeas for a party recently, and thought it would be a fun beach snack for our vacation. Such a hit among the in-laws!

Nonetheless, I don’t know if even these crunchy delights can compare with my super super favorite snack of the trip: this fresh-grilled Everything pretzel from the Charleston farmer’s market. Accompanied, sweetly, by luscious lemonade squeezed just moments earlier…

Gets me so darn excited for summer! Which summer treat excites you most??

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quesapizza!

Thin-crust pizza in 20 yummy minutes

Here in our little apartment, Andrew and I are onto the Official Spring Break countdown (and getting a little hyper). With vacation now barely three days away, we’re getting creative with fridge findings. This is the first of a few posts on deliciously do-able weeknight eatings (with uncomplicated ingredients)…

inspired by Fresh Flavor Fast

For thin, crispy and remotely healthy pizza, all you need:

  • whole-wheat tortilla or sandwich wraps
  • olive oil
  • ricotta cheese (low-fat scores you extra points)
  • veggie or meat tidbits

Preheat the oven to 450F. Brush a thin layer of olive oil on both sides of the tortilla and place on a baking sheet (lined with parchment paper for a no-mess ending to your night). Sprinkle a very light layer of shredded or grated cheese–mozzarella, parmesan, asiago, your favorite. Spoon a few small dollops of ricotta spaced across the pizza.

Simply top with just a few pieces of your on-hand toppings: very thin slices of onions, veggies, or meat. For the veggies to soften and brown, I brushed on a little olive oil.

Bake for about 15-20 minutes, until the cheese begins to brown. Don’t be too alarmed about the crust darkening, the whole pizza needs time to develop fabulous crunch. Cool for about two minutes and cut into quarters with a large chef’s knife.

It’s hard to imagine the true transformation of this floppy wrap into a crispy flavor-packed pizzeria treat. The whole-wheat may sound unappealing or maybe overpowering, but its heartiness brings something truly special.

A little salad? A little wine? One large [quesa]pizza is a perfect serving size, and surprisingly substantial with whole grains. The ricotta spreads across the crust in creamy guilt-free decadence. A cheesy treat that’s a healthy, quick alternative to frozen pizza on those tiring nights.

Topped with ricotta and mushrooms: 305 calories,  14 g of fat, 15 g protein, 33  g carbs, 4 g fiber. Take those little stats to the freezer aisle and delight in your homemade wonder!

If you’re enamoured with the speedy simplicity of this pizza, but seek something more crowd-friendly, check out my lavash pizza here!

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whip it!

While this seems like an apt opening to a post on homemade mayo or vanilla-scented whipped cream, I wanted to write briefly about gorgeous not-so-challenging food you can whip together for all the company headed your way this season.

my blog made quite an apPEARance

It seems I’ve been cooking for crowds quite a bit this month, and while the food has been blessedly beautiful and delicious, these are really things you can whip together with ease. Oh yes, I was referring, specifically, to you.

Thanks to all who joined in the celebration of Statements on the Water’s grand opening. (I even ran into the music teacher from my school, who was quite surprised to find me in attendance as a vendor)!

I made a gazillion-and-one herbed tarts with caramelized onion, roasted pears, gorgonzola cheese, creme fraiche, sun-dried cranberries, and fresh chives. But darn if they don’t look worth it, eh?

Click here for a previous post on my very simple tart shells, which freeze wonderfully and stay fresh in the fridge for several days. With these fellas prepared, it’s simple to fill them with a variety of fillings–even premade if you find something bold and flavorful.

While caramelizing onions on the stove (sliced thin and resting in butter on low heat about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally until deep amber), I roasted pears in the oven: unpeeled, quartered and cored, placed on parchment paper in a 400F oven until brown. Once cooled, pulse the roasted pears briefly in a food processor, or chop finely and combine the mixture.

Simply heap your onion-pear filling–which should resemble the consistency of very chunky applesauce–into the shells with a teaspoon measure. Next, top with blue cheese crumbles, dried cranberries, chopped chives, and a dollop of creme fraiche (or sour cream).

Here’s the kicker: you can omit any of these ingredients and they will still be delicious. I started out making them with onions alone and add a new ingredient each time around. They’re so versatile. Remember when I filled them with rosemary ricotta and my rich slow-roasted tomatoes?

Next up, I have some easy-peasy sandwiches I recently served at a co-worker’s bridal shower. Fresh ciabatta, arugula pesto, roasted red peppers, and of course caramelized onions. Plus, turkey and avocado sandwiches to accompany my favorite Greek feta dip. But for now, friends, back to homework!

A warm welcome to all the many new readers & eaters I had the pleasure of meeting at yesterday’s event. Come back soon 😀

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small summer bites

My dear readers, I cannot keep you in the dark a moment longer about this mind taste-bud-blowing corn pesto I made over the weekend. As you read most recently, I bought an abundance of fresh goodies at Saturday’s farmer’s market, which have supplied extra deliciousness to this week’s meals.

I agree seven ears of corn is potentially overwhelming for a family of two, but Bon Appetit inspired my own version of Corn Pesto that is not to be missed. And, yep, you’ll need a lot of corn.

I do not consider myself a food / recipe visionary, but… After spotting these precious peppers, I imagined them sliced in half, roasted, and filled with ribbons of basil and corn pesto. (Let’s hope the inspiration continues!) Bon Appetit featured a corn pesto sautéed in bacon fat and served over pasta, but it sounded too heavy and starchy for the light meals this weather encourages. The idea of corn pesto, however, was too intriguing to pass up my own rendition…

Because I wanted to start with a strong flavor base (in lieu of bacon grease), I must first tell you about the other hors d’oeuvre I made to accompany my stuffed peppers:

Lindsey’s Herbed Tarts with Feta and Caramelized Onion

Is it apparent by now how I so enjoy any excuse for caramelized onions?? For cousin Kelly’s sweet 16, I volunteered to bring hors d’oeuvre (one of my favorite things to make), and what’s a great appetizer without sweet, succulent onions?

Click here for details of how I make my (shortcut) tartlettes. My experimental variation this time around includes pressing fresh chopped herbs (parsley here) into refrigerated pie crust. I would prefer chives or basil, but parsley had to make due and indeed it worked!

I unrolled a store-bought pie crust, sprinkled herbs over top, and rolled very thin. I was cautious here on using too much parsley (which I pressed into both sides of the dough), as I didn’t want its peppery flavor to be overwhelming. To my delight, I found the flavor almost completely muted once cooked, and the herbs contributed only a dainty greenery to my tarts. Just what I wanted! As I will try chives or basil next time, I will be more generous with the amounts.

I’m telling you, this is really as simple as can be. After a mere two minutes of rolling the dough, cutting out circles with the lip of a drinking glass, the dough pressed right into an ungreased mini muffin tin. (Poke plenty of toothpick holes to prevent puffing). 10 minutes later are these impressive, elegant, and tasty tarts. Could it be any easier??

With the tarts complete, I simply filled each with caramelized onions (click here for my method) and a nice cube of feta.

I don’t doubt these are delicious under the broiler for two minutes, the feta just golden and melting into the onions. Unfortunately, the severe power outages over the weekend (and into the week) prevented me from heating the tarts before serving. But, thankfully for me and your future guests, these serve beautifully at room temperature, and are guaranteed to be gobbled regardless.

Hopefully your host (or aunt-in-law) will have a lovely plate for their display. But I can’t make any promises, blink and they’re gone.

There was only the peeking sun (post-storm) offering light for this photo, but hopefully you enjoy a glimpse of the finished product.

Now onto the main (and more versatile) dish…

Lindsey’s Roasted Baby Peppers Stuffed with Corn Pesto & Purple Basil

Perhaps you’re not making both of these appetizers, but I must let you know I saved the pan with browned onion bits as key flavor for my corn pesto. A few chunks of caramelized onion intentionally joined the corn saute, so consider searing, say, 1/8 of an onion before adding your corn…

(As with most pestos, you will need a food processor.)

adapted from Bon Appetit

  • 4 cups fresh corn kernels (cut from about 6 large ears)
  • 1-2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • Slicing the kernels from 6 ears of corn sounds disastrous, but was not so messy (and scattered) as you may fear. I sliced off both ends of each cob and sliced straight down with a sharp knife in a gentle sawing motion. Completing this prep work over an 8-cup measuring bowl sure makes things a little easier…

    Heat one and a half tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. After the oil is hot, add corn, coarse salt, and pepper.

    Sauté over medium-high heat until corn is just tender but not brown, about 4 minutes. Add the minced garlic during the last minute of cooking, stirring well. Reserve 1/4 cup of the corn kernels in a small bowl, scraping the rest of the corn mixture into the food processor.

    While the corn is cooking, toast your pine nuts in a dry skillet over medium-low heat—keep an eye on them! You want them beautifully golden, but they can burn in a blink.

    Into the food processor with the piping hot corn, add 1/2 cup Parmesan (get the good stuff, though it doesn’t have to be Parmigiano) and the toasted pine nuts.

    Like most pesto, the processor does all the work for you, and the dish is practically done from here. With the machine running, add olive oil through the feed tube and blend until pesto is also smooth. You’re done!

    Now what to do with this amazing, amazing buttery batch? Here’s one of many inspirations…

    I sliced a handful of sweet mini peppers in half (stem on for extra dose of adorable) and brushed the cut sides with olive oil to help the edges char.
    On a rimmed baking sheet (parchment paper beneath to prevent sticking), these peppers were cooked to perfection after about 8 minutes at 400F. You want to see the edges brown, but don’t cook them so long they soften and lose shape. That is, if you want little cups for your corn pesto! (P.S. Vegetables as containers for other ingredients seriously makes me smile. At our wedding, we had this sautéed mushroom medley in halved acorn squash… just gorgeous).

    You can see here that the peppers are glistening with oil and charred slightly on the inside. Like the corn pesto and the onion tarts, these store wonderfully at room temperature, should your serving conditions lack, say, electricity.

    For easier filling, I transferred some corn pesto into a plastic bag with a cut corner. From here, it’s super fast to pipe the pesto into the peppers (say that five times fast) and top with ribbons of purple (okay, or green) basil. You recall I didn’t have much lighting to work with for a good photo, but you get the idea…

    If you like, sprinkle the filled peppers with the reserved corn kernels. Or, you can serve this thick, chunky mixture as a delicious dip for pita chips or multigrain crackers—it’s just as enjoyable this way, too. 

    Do write about how you use your corn pesto! I hope this also becomes a summer favorite in your kitchen 🙂

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    summer surprises

    Let’s celebrate: A Pear to Remember is approaching 3,000 viewers! I have a special thank you I know you will so enjoy… (read on)

    I have this feeling that half the folks reading today’s recipe will think, “What an unusual combination. I can’t believe that’s really as fantastic as Lindsey claims.” And the rest of you might think, “You’re just now trying that recipe? Hello, it’s unbelievable.”

    Watermelon Salad with Feta and Mint

    The allure of watermelon and feta has fascinated me for some time, and I finally, finally got around to enjoying these two ingredients in the same forkful. It’s intense (and that’s being subtle). Really salty, sweet, and juicy—plus the salt and pepper, luscious olive oil and fresh mint. Hold the phone.

    Before I continue telling you about this salad to rock your tomato-basil / peanut-butter and jelly world—and I know you’re going to be awed by this exotic combination—I have to preface: gourmet doesn’t always mean hours of work. Isn’t that what this blog is all about? I made this in 10 minutes. (You can, too.) Between a busy afternoon and running out for a we’ve-got-to-be-out-the-door-by-7-o-clock evening, this intriguing salad came together in a snap. With even enough time to take a picture for you.

    If you’re not starting with a whole watermelon, this is not time-consuming. Convinced?

    from this month’s issue of Vegetarian Times, for four:

    2 cups diced watermelon (1-inch dice)

    1/2 cup crumbled feta (though I thought it was prettier diced as well)

    1/4 cup chopped green onions

    1/4 cup mint leaves, chiffonade (rolled & sliced into thin ribbons)

    1 tablespoon lime juice

    1 tablespoon delicious olive oil

    Ready for all the crazy steps to make THIS?

    Gently toss together all the ingredients in a large bowl (or, as I prefer, on a large plate). Be careful not to crush the fruit or cheese.

    That’s it.

    But, of course, a note: season with coarse salt and fresh pepper. Not to be ingredient-snobby, but if it’s not coarse or fresh in the case of this gourmet dish, don’t season the salad beyond the lime and mint. I drizzled the olive oil last, because it’s so darn elegant.

    Does this look/smell/taste like summertime or what? Personally, I found this salad so bold, I prefer it in smaller portions. A nice appetizer or small salad before dessert? As dessert, even??? (Okay, it is missing chocolate).

    Something easier than easy—and I would make it for you myself in gratitude for your frequent visits here, but I hope you take much pleasure creating it in your own kitchen, serving it to others with love and smiles.

    Thank you for reading A Pear To Remember!

    always,

    Lindsey

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    simple summer

    Often, simple is best.

     

    Grilled corn on the cob. grill corn with husks on—but loosened and soaked in cold water for 10 minutes—then peel husks back for the last few minutes until the kernels are charred. then, if you want a little extra summer fun, brush the hot corn with a mixture of: two tablespoons warm butter, juice and zest of one lime, 1/2 tsp. chili powder and 1/4 tsp. paprika. serve with extra lime wedges.

    Grilled farmer’s veggies. slice zucchini, eggplant, mushrooms (or other on-hand veggies) into equal widths—not too thin. toss with just enough olive oil to moisten all the veggies, a few glug glugs of balsamic vinegar, and plenty of salt with a little pepper. grill, flipping frequently, until charred.

     

     

    And, as often as I love new, creative combinations, sometimes a farmstand tomato, fresh-made mozzarella, and windowsill basil salad is just right.

     

     

    happy summertime!

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    the Indian spice cabinet

    Until this evening, Andrew didn’t realize we had an Indian spice cabinet. This is ironic, as it is the most violent of our cupboards. All our boring, twice-a-year spices (nutmeg, thyme, italian seasoning), reside above the drinking cups, aligned in an intricate Tetris fashion. My special Indian spices, on the other hand, have a designated tiered rack above the kitchen sink. And almost every time we open this cabinet, the coriander seeds or ground cumin jars nose-dive into the sink, shattering glass all over the kitchen. We’ve mourned many ethnic spices in recent months.

    Tonight was one to carefully retrieve the exotic spices from this special location, in a first-time attempt to make Indian vegetable fritters. With curry-lime sauce. Yep.  

    Since drooling over this recipe on Smitten Kitchen (the most inspiring food blog ever), I’ve vowed for months I would make them and gobble them up. Mine are not as pretty as Deb’s, but they were amazing. And let me tell you, anything that has Andrew knowingly DEVOURING vegetables (zucchini! sweet potato! carrot!) speaks to its flavorful brilliance.  

    I had this idiotic idea (like I so often do creating in the kitchen) that I would grate the veggies (that’s russest potato, sweet potato, carrots, onion, zucchini) by hand. On a box grater. Well, the words “hand” and “box grater” explain the bloody bandage on my right thumb…  

     

    I read that hand grating (vs. utilizing my beloved food processor)  produces coarser vegetables that stick together. After grating both potatoes, attempting the onion, and stopping the bleeding from my right hand, I surrendered.  

    Not that I don’t love my food processor.  

    While I mixed the eggs and flour, I drained the shredded veggies in a colander lined with cheesecloth. The cheesecloth made it easier to squeeze the water from the veggies.  

    love my spices

     

      

    Though the recipe called for four eggs, I don’t enjoy egg-y foods—and I wanted to cut down on the fat just a tad. I used two whole eggs and two egg whites, and the consistency worked just fine. I whisked in flour, coriander, turmeric, and cumin. Smells unbelievable.  

    On the side, I cooked basmati and wild rice with cumin seeds. For fluffy, authentic basmati, visit a previous post on the very topic 

    I skipped out on the ginger and peas (not a fan of the latter), but loved the cilantro in these fritters. The flavor and color were just—oh gracious.  

    This is not the time to skimp on fresh herbs. If you like (no, love) cilantro like me, the full two tablespoons of minced cilantro is essential.  

    cilantro

     

      

    This thick, rich egg mixture is a fantastic glue for all the shredded veggies. While my rice was cooking, I heated my 12″ nonstick skillet. As you may recall from the last time I made potato cakes,  I liked the browning better with my regular skillets, but nonstick was preferable here to avoid using an entire bottle of oil.  

    fragrant and beautiful

     

      

    By this point, the carrots and sweet potato have dyed the other pieces to unattractive colors… no matter.  

    I was surprised to see the instructions to salt and pepper the veggies at this point, and also immediately after frying. I used kosher salt to lessen the sodium amount, but did find that salting is really crucial, even with all the fragrant spices. The salt enhances the complexity of these fantastic fritters.  

    A warning about tumeric if you haven’t used it before: the yellow stains absolutely everything—which is why I have a special plastic spatula (circa 1992) I reserve exclusively for my Indian cooking endeavors.  

    Because Deb explains it all so well, I’m going to send you to her site for ingredient amounts and directions. I must tell you that these are a great introduction to either Indian food or Indian cooking, if your taste buds have not yet ventured that far East. Also, this curry-lime sauce is so remarkably simple and divine (really, a four-year-old could make it), I intend to make it frequently for a dipping-sauce staple. Additional support for the wonderful versatility of plain yogurt.  

    These are a great appetizer idea that would reheat well in the oven. Though I cooled my fritters between paper towels, as directed, I would strongly encourage placing the fritters on a (cookie) cooling rack directly from the skillet. The fritters were delicious, but weren’t as crispy sitting between damp paper towels—I’ve read that a cooling rack is the solution, but forgot about it this time around…  

    This post is a bit jumpy, but there’s so much to say about Indian food!! I promise to share other favorite homemade Indian recipes in future posts. These spiced fritters speak to the simplicity of most Indian cooking—this cuisine always tastes complex, but rarely requires intricate cooking technique.  

    Click here to head over to Smitten Kitchen and check out fritter-making in further detail 😀  

      

    Now the great debate over who gets these leftovers for lunch…

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