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vinegar-free vinaigrette

Last week, Chef Kevin Binkley of Binkley’s, Café Bink, Bink’s Midtown, and Bink’s Scottsdale, was the guest teacher at Les Gourmettes. Kevin is once again up for the James Beard Award for the Best Chef: Southwest. Fingers are crossed!

Everything he made was, of course, amazing! The thing that I really enjoyed though was a simple, thick, tangy, creamy vinaigrette made without any vinegar. Strange but true and truly delicious.

strawberry arugula salad

Kevin served the vinaigrette over a salad of arugula, strawberry slices, goat cheese and pistachios. I’ll be serving the same salad for our Easter dinner on Sunday.

Speaking of Easter Sunday, if you haven’t colored your eggs yet, hold off one more day because tomorrow I’m posting a new way to decorate eggs and a bunch of Easter Menu ideas.

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April 16, 2014   1 Comment

rainbow summer salad

This salad is so beautiful, full of color and healthy goodness. The glistening arils from pomegranates, the red chewy dried cranberry, the creamy richness of avocado, the crunch and spicy bite of the pepitas – oh my!

Salad with Crasins, Avocado, Candied Spiced Pepitas and Sweet Balsamic Vinaigrette

I use the one-pound box of greens from Costco, their “half and half” mix, half baby spinach and half colorful spring mix.

costoc greens

Any lettuce or combination of greens you prefer work just fine. Be sure to use a full pound though, this is a “big” salad! Once the dressing is added to the greens, the salad won’t keep for long, so be sure to wait until the last minute to put it all together.

I use my Candied Spiced Pepitas. These Candied Almonds would be wonderful too.

Quick Tip: This vinaigrette uses sesame seeds. Store sesame seeds in the refrigerator. Those little things go rancid in a hurry if they are stored at room temperature.

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September 3, 2013   4 Comments

poach, blanch, roast


I’m using three different cooking methods to make a simple salad. This will infuse as much flavor as possible into each ingredient without adding fat. This is achieved by;

  • Roasting cherry tomatoes
  • Poaching chicken breast
  • Blanching asparagus

As an added bonus, the poaching/blanching broth may be saved and added to soup on another day.

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March 14, 2013   2 Comments

end of week two – finally!

All I’m thinking about today, is getting it over with, food-wise, that is.

banana-oat pancakes

If I was to do this “Detox Cuisine” Cleanse all over again, and believe me, I have no intention of doing so, I’d skip Week Two and go straight to Week Three.

I’ve been making my shopping list for the next week, and the food sounds so much better; frittata, muesli, and muffins for breakfast and tacos, halibut, and poached eggs for lunch and dinner. So. Much. Better.

The only things I’d make again from this past week are the Kale Salad and the Pancakes. As for the rest of it – no thanks.

Thankfully, those two items are on the menu this final and Seventh Day of Week Two.

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February 17, 2013   1 Comment

wheat berries from the farm

Another weekly haul from my CSA – another recipe to go with it. In case you forgot, CSA is a Community Supported Agriculture group who comes together to purchase fresh farm produce and products from local farms. The CSA I belong to gets its items from Crooked Sky Farms and this week, one of the items in my basket was a bag of fresh wheat berries.

What is a wheat berry?  A wheat berry is the entire wheat kernel, minus the hull, composed of the bran, germ, and endosperm. Wheat berries have a tan to reddish color. They are often added to salads or baked into bread to add a crunchy texture. When wheat berries are milled, whole-wheat flour is what you end up with.

Have you had wheat berries before? Have you cooked with them? I’d previously eaten wheat berries but I hadn’t used them in my kitchen yet. Now I have, with delicious results. Enjoy!

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September 24, 2012   1 Comment

wash away that bad cholesterol

Earlier this year I heard Dr. Oz say that pistachios are good for you. They are rich in phytosterols, antioxidants, unsaturated fat, carotenoids, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Additionally, they are lower in calories than other tree nuts. As a result, for the past several months we’ve kept a bowl of pistachios on the island to snack on.

Last week on the Today show, I saw an interview with nutritionist, Joy Bauer.  She spoke about the health benefits of lentils and pistachio nuts:

Lentils are and excellent source of protein and are high in soluble fiber which acts as a magnet to escort bad cholesterol out of the body. Lentils will drive down bad LDL cholesterol. It is advised to eat lentils twice a week.

Pistachio nuts contain a plant compound that blocks cholesterol. It is recommend to eat 1 to 2 handfuls of pistachio nuts per day. (that’s between 15 to 20 nuts)

All of that inspired me to create this truly delicious and easy-breezy recipe. Dave said he’d eat it at least 3 times a week if I’d make it that often. Yeah, it is that good!

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September 12, 2012   3 Comments

Caesar Rules!

If my husband, Dave, sees the word “Caesar” on a menu, he is immediately drawn to that dish and will most likely order it. It is nearly impossible for him to NOT order Caesar Salad at any new restaurant we visit. He won’t pass up the opportunity to see if THIS is the best Caesar Salad ever. More often than not, he is disappointed. The one thing that will make him happy, even if the salad is lacking? If there are anchovies laying there in plain sight on top of the salad. My man loves his anchovies!

I didn’t go so far as to lay anchovies over these Caesar green beans, but I did sneak a bit of anchovy paste into the dressing… leave it out if you would like… it is not essential in this particular recipe.

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September 9, 2012   1 Comment

spa vinaigrette

As celebration for another great year at Les Gourmettes Cooking School, Barb treated me and Kim to a spa day. It was scheduled for early June, but I got food poisoning the night before and could not go with them. Barb, sweetly scheduled another date for after my summer classes at Les Petites Gourmettes, and she and I had a great time a week ago at the Willow Springs Spa at the Scottsdale Princess. After our treatments, we enjoyed a delicious lunch. We each ordered the Grilled Chicken Cobb Salad. It was your basic Cobb, with the exception of the the herb vinaigrette… which was outstanding.  I asked the waiter if the chef might be willing to share the recipe. I gave him my email, and sure enough, within an hour of arriving home, it popped into my inbox.

I cut the recipe he sent in half. You may want to cut in half again, it still makes over 3 cups, and although that is a lot, it is delicious on more than just salads. I drizzled it on hot fresh corn on the cob and as the dressing for a tomato-mozzarella salad. Both were fabulous.

You can wing it with the herb quantities if you don’t have a scale or just don’t feel like weighing everything, nothing has to be exact. Look at the photo I posted of all the herbs and it will give you a good idea of the amounts needed of each. I can tell you that 1.25-ounces of chives is two of those little herb boxes you get in the produce section. You can take it from there.

Thank you, Barb, for a relaxing and luxurious day – what a generous gift and treat! xoxo

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July 30, 2012   5 Comments

bonus salad and bonus pics

I am naming this “bonus salad” because while creating it, my intention was to include it in the “Take your Lunch to Work Week” that I just wrapped up for my sweet Marissa. But once I got into it, I slowly came to the realization that this takes far too much time and effort than required for an easy lunch to brown bag… that is unless you use it as leftovers… from dinner the night before. In that case, it’s perfect!

I made this a week ago Sunday and, as with most Sundays, we had my dad over for dinner. Dave and Dad devoured this thing. They loved it so much that they each had not only seconds, but thirds!

If you are lucky enough to have leftovers and want to brown bag it the next day – here is what you do: Pack the greens and the feta together in one container or zip-lock. Pack the mushroom-asparagus-rice mixture in a micro-wave safe container. Nuke the mushroom mixture to just warm it through. Place your greens and feta on a plate and top it with warm stuff. Yum… makes me wish I would have leftover of my own last Monday. :-(

The “bonus pics” in the title refers to some iPhone pictures of a few of the beyond delicious courses we had at Binkley’s last night. How I love that place! You’ll find them below the recipe.

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May 5, 2012   3 Comments

“Take your lunch to work” Week

I recently received a blog request from one of my loyal followers… OK, it was from my daughter, Marissa. But she counts as my most loyal follower. No one has commented more, in the nearly 3 year life of this site, than my sweet girl. And I thank her profusely for that and for her constant support and encouragement. To that end, naturally I will be fulfilling her request.

She asked if I could post some brown-bag recipes. New ideas for yummy stuff she could take into the office for lunch. Marissa has a varied and sophisticated palate. She was a vegetarian back in middle school and still doesn’t eat much meat, although she, like most intelligent individuals, loves bacon.

All week I will be creating recipes and giving specific instructions for brown-bagging. Each of these recipes will not only make for a perfect lunch, but a lovely light supper too.

In most cases, everything listed in each recipe can be easily found at Trader Joe’s. (Which is, of course, this mother and daughter’s favorite place to grocery shop.) Take the hearts of palm in this recipe for example. Sure you may find them in a regular grocery store… eventually. But you’ll probably need to search high and low and until you finally give up and ask for help. But at TJ’s they will be on the one and only aisle of canned and jarred goods… right along side the peperoncini peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, Kalamata olives, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar you will also need to purchase, if you don’t already have them on hand. And there is no better place to buy cheese, it’s always fresh at TJ’s because of the high turn around … and the price is hard to beat. As for the produce – unless the grocery store is running the specific items on ad that week, the price is about the same. Well, except for the basil. No grocery store can touch the super low price of basil at TJ’s!

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April 30, 2012   4 Comments