Easy Cucumber Salad

Ingredients:

  • 4 cucumbers
  • 1/2 or 1 whole white or sweet onion
  • 1.5 cups white vinegar
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon dried dill (or more, to taste)
  • kosher salt

1. Prep the cucumbers and onion: Wash and peel the cucumbers (I like to be lazy and leave strips of cucumber skin, also because I think it’s prettier at the end). Slice thinly, using a mandolin if you want to be a perfectionist about it (just watch your fingers!). Ditto the onion. Set the cucumbers and onion in a colander, sprinkle liberally with salt, toss, add more salt, toss, etc. Put the colander in a bowl and set that in the fridge for about an hour to take some of the water out of the cucumbers and reduce the bite of the onion.

Wait one hour.

2. Prep the pickling. In a pot on the stove, combine the white vinegar, water, and sugar. Bring to a bowl and stir to ensure all the sugar has dissolved. Dump the cucumber and onions into a pyrex bowl (or similar — I like to discard the cucumber water run off and just use that same bowl for this next step) and pour the boiling pickling mixture on top of it. Add dill and stir to combine.

3. Let sit at least 3 (and up to 24 hours). Serve.

In summary: Easy, plus very refreshing and light — a nice thing to bring to a potluck or party where there will be a lot of heavy food. Theoretically you could even quarter the cucumber slices to make it even easier to eat, but that doesn’t bother me!

Advertisements

Thanksgiving Leftovers Salad

I couldn’t eat another plate of leftovers, but when I transformed the leftovers into a salad, I suddenly had my appetite back. Mixed one of my standard salad dressing bases of lemon juice, olive oil, and salt & pepper with a hefty dose of cranberry sauce. (If I hadn’t been lazy/anti-making more dishes, I would’ve added garlic, too.)

Then added several generous handfuls of arugula, topped with shredded turkey meat and some delicious stuffing (heated up first). Made for a fantastic salad! I served it to myself with a glass of apple cider mixed with seltzer.
Yum!

Tuna & Cannellini Bean Spread/Salad/Dip

A long time ago, I sat down at a Le Pain Quotidien in NYC with my good friend Tanya and had an incredible tuna and white bean tartine (open-faced sandwich). It was filling, tasty, and seemed so simple. I’ve tried a couple of times to replicate it and I think I finally found a recipe that I like. It’s easy and cheap, took under five minutes to make, and is also pretty darn healthy.

Note: It does call for blending the beans into a paste (kind of like the consistency of hummus). I’m sure you could not do this and just toss or mush the beans so it is more of a salad, but I really love the blended consistency, so I would give it a try at least the first time you make it.

Tuna & Cannellini Bean Mix

In a food processor (or using a hand-held mixer with chopping/blending attachment), add two tablespoons of olive oil, the juice of half a lemon, teaspoon of salt, several hearty grinds of freshly ground pepper, and garlic (one clove if you aren’t a huge garlic fan, two if you think it’s nifty, and three if you’re “a garlic person”). Blend, then add one can of drained cannellini beans. Taste and adjust seasonings. If you have fresh parsley or tarragon, that could be delicious here.

Mix in one can of drained tuna and then you can do several things: Spread it on bread (or matzah, if you’re like me and observing Passover), serve it as a dip (which I suppose you could also do without the tuna), or put it over spring greens and serve it as a tasty and filling salad.

Vegan Banana Peanut Butter Ice Cream

For when you want to eat an entire giant bowl of ice cream in one sitting but aren’t looking for that “oh crap, I just ate an entire giant bowl of ice cream in one sitting” feeling.

(For the record: No, it doesn’t taste like ice cream. It tastes like banana. But it also tastes frozen and creamy and sweet, so it kind of does taste like ice cream.)

Ingredients:

  • Multiple frozen bananas (and one un-frozen one too, if you have it)
  • Soy milk (optional)
  • Peanut butter or honey

With an immersion blender chopper thingie or a food processor, cream a frozen banana or two. For added creaminess, add an un-frozen banana or a few splashes of soy milk. For added yumminess, add a tablespoon or so of peanut butter and honey. Blend until it looks like soft serve. Put into bowl. Add random toppings if you want, or just proceed to television, turn on sappy movie, and indulge.

No-fry Latkes (Oven-Baked Latkes)

Thanks for the responses to the previous post about no-fry latkes. I wound up going with a recipe that my friend Michelle recommended from Kveller, by Zoe Singer. I liked the taste of the latkes, but her method of using aluminum foil had me cursing in front of the stove whenever I tried to flip the latkes.

So I definitely recommend her proportions of onion/egg/potato, etc. But next year, here’s what I’ll be doing to make it easier on myself:

  • Ensure that you have clean oven mitts on hand that cover your entire hand. Because you will be going in and out of the oven a lot, and this will increase the probability that you get burned.
  • Don’t use aluminum foil. Sturdy cookie sheets with rims worked great. (Just make sure they aren’t warped, because otherwise the oil will collect on one side of the pan.)
  • Use the recommended half-cup of oil per cookie sheet. It seems disgusting, but these are latkes, they really do need oil. Hey, it’s Channukah!
  • Make each latke smaller than you think. Each one should be about 1/4 cup of batter.
  • Turn the oven up to 450. I swear that my oven is pretty decent, but the batches I was doing took forever until I turned the oven up a bit.
  • If you’re making more than one batch of the recipe, designate a second in command to help you with checking the latkes. Because you will get sick of it.

German Ragout for Pastetchen

I wasn’t lucky enough to grow up knowing most of my grandparents. By the time I was old enough to remember, there was only my father’s mother, my Oma. And unlike other kids whose grandparents were a car ride away, mine was a plane ride away — all the way across the Atlantic Ocean in Germany. My memories of her are limited; as I got older, so did she, and it wasn’t long before our relationship was limited to what remained in her long-term memory.

One of the memories I wish I’d gotten to have was cooking beside her. She was a solid German cook, making simple, hearty food that had little fuss. On the day we flew in, there was always a tasty broth-based soup waiting for us as lunch. (I still crave broth-based soups after a long plane ride). She also made delicious Christmas cookies, inventing recipes that my cousin Tina has passed down to me.

The other Christmas tradition that she did was make Pastetchen — pastry shells filled with a meat stew. It looks fancy, but it’s really peasant food. Tasty and very filling, my family still has it every year on Christmas Eve. Her recipe, written out in German, is above, written with her signature blue fountain pen. Below is my translation.

Quality Ragout for Pastry Shells.

Good-quality veal! (and neck when it’s not fatty) Let the butcher cut it into small pieces (smaller than for goulash). Brown it in half butter and half margarine with chopped onions. Dust with flour and lightly roast. Deglaze with white wine (cooking wine). Salt and some pepper, lemon juice, Worchester sauce [she means Worchestershire sauce]. Season to taste, and if it isn’t done yet, let it cook lightly a bit more.

Separately, prepare mushrooms in butter with onions (cut small), some parsley (chopped) as well and either mix it with the ragout and pour into the hot pastry shells, or serve on the plate next to the pastry shells (with the ragout). I find the latter better, as it looks better arranged on the plate. (A raw salad is good with this.)

——————

We make a few changes (beef instead of veal, and adding in peas and carrots), but for the most part, that’s the recipe we still use. And we do serve it with a big green salad!

Merry Christmas!

Delicious Summer Chicken Curry Salad

Summer Chicken Curry Salad

Shred up the rest of that rotisserie chicken that you bought as a lazy weeknight dinner. Throw in a couple of globs of mayonnaise and stir to coat evenly. Add in a couple of teaspoons of sweet curry powder. Stir again. Add in about a half a cup to a cup each of golden raisins and chopped pecans. Mince one apple and add. Mix. Add about a tablespoon or so of honey (or to taste). Mix again. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve on bread or spinach leaves (or both).

So tasty! The sweetness was exactly what was called for on a hot summer day.