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Posts Tagged ‘butter’

I was hungry. Really hungry. And I wanted something familiar, homey. And I felt brazen. So I made a fried egg salad. It sounded yummy. Comfortable and weird. What the heck, food is food.

I grabbed greens, eggs, all the random veggies I had that made sense, and ingredients for a yummy honey mustard vinaigrette. I wanted tang and sweet — sharp cheddar, salty egg, delicious greens. It all sounded good. So I slapped it all together.

Recipe for Salad with Honey Mustard Vinaigrette and Fried Egg

Basic ingredients, ready for action. Egg and butter not depicted.

Ingredients:
(Lunch salad, serves one.)
4 cups of mixed baby greens.
15 baby carrots, cut into thirds.
1 tomato, chopped.
1 fistful of fresh italian parsley, chopped.
1 fistful of fresh chives, chopped.
2 T grated extra sharp cheddar.
2 large eggs.
1 tsp butter.
Freshly cracked pepper, to taste.

Vinaigrette or Citronette:
(Use only what you need. Refrigerate extra for a couple of days.)
3 T extra virgin olive oil.
1 T red wine vinegar.
1 tsp mustard.
1 tsp honey.
Pinch of salt, to taste.

I made my bed of greens, and I chopped the carrots and tomatoes that would lie in it. I added my herbs. I mixed up my vinaigrette. And I put the butter in my ancient cast iron pan, and fried my egg, over medium, just like I like it. Cook the whites, leave the yolk super juicy. I tossed the egg on top of the salad, drizzled the dressing over it all, mixed it up with my fork, and gobbled it up.

Salad with Honey Mustard Vinaigrette with Fried Egg

Here it is, dressing drizzled over the egg, all juicy and delicious and ready to be busted open.


The Verdict:
I loved this. So much. So much, it’s been hard to think of anything interesting enough to follow it up with. The cheese got a little melty with the hot egg. The chives added that delicious hint of oniony heaven. The egg… The juicy, delicious, amazing egg. The yolk mixed with the dressing and coated the leaves. The crispy edges of the egg whites added this beguiling crunch. The carrots helped crunchify it even more, while the tomato juices blended with the egg yolk and the honey mustard vinaigrette perfectly.

Salad with Honey Mustard Vinaigrette and Fried Egg, Ready to Eat

Time to devour it!

This salad? This is exactly why I play in the kitchen. When it works, it works. And I don’t just mean that the recipe is perfect, I mean that what you really want, what you crave, is exactly what you create, and you get to eat it, and it is just, well, right. It was just right. This salad, it was exactly what my weird brain craved, and my mouth was happy, and my tummy was full, and it was perfect.

Make it a Meal:
Done.

Pack it to Go:
Not going to happen. Sorry, but unless it’s easy for you to pack a raw egg and fry it at work (or wherever you eat your packed lunch) this one isn’t going to go anywhere. Eat it at home, where you have your fully functioning kitchen, and enjoy it.

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We’d all had a big lunch, so I wanted a simple dinner. The kids were happy with sandwiches and fruit, but I craved vegetables. I decided to make a slightly elegant salad — less is more — drenched in a good balsamic vinaigrette.

Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette, Red Bell Pepper, Basil, and Chicken

The red bell pepper and basil are ready -- time to chop.

Ingredients:
(Serves one as a meal.)
3-4 cups mache and mixed greens.
1/2 red bell pepper, sliced.
1/2 fistful of basil, chopped.
Freshly ground pepper, to taste.
2 small chicken tenderloins (fresh or frozen).
1T butter for cooking the chicken.
Garlic powder for the chicken, to taste.
Pinch of salt for the chicken, to taste.

Balsamic vinaigrette:
(Use only what you need, refrigerate extra for several days.)
1 T balsamic vinegar.
3 T extra virgin olive oil.
1/2 tsp maple syrup.
1 small clove garlic, smashed and minced.
1 pinch of salt, to taste.

I doubled all of the ingredients listed above and made two salads. First I mixed up the vinaigrette, giving the garlic time to mellow and infuse the salad dressing with flavor.

Then I cooked the chicken. I keep a bag of the Trader Joe’s frozen chicken breast tenderloins in the freezer, and I use the following method when I don’t have time to bother with defrosting the chicken. I melted the butter in a stainless steel frying pan over medium heat, and added the frozen chicken just as the butter began bubbling. I sprinkled salt and garlic powder over the chicken tenderloins, and let them cook while I chopped the bell pepper.

When the chicken was nice and brown on the bottom, I flipped the tenderloins over and lightly seasoned the other side. I chopped up the basil and cleaned up my salad prep area, and then I checked on the chicken. Once it had browned on the other side, I used a pair of kitchen shears to snip it into bite-sized pieces. My chicken was still raw in the center, so I stirred it around a bit, turned the heat to low, and covered it. If you use fresh chicken instead of frozen, you can probably skip that last step. After a few minutes on low, I took off the lid and turned off the heat. I added the vinaigrette, a dusting of freshly cracked black pepper, and the hot, juicy chicken to the salads, and served them right away.

Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette, Red Bell Pepper, Basil, and Chicken

Time to eat!


The Verdict:
Yum!

There is nothing like homemade balsamic vinaigrette. It was my gateway salad dressing — the one I absolutely had to learn how to make, and the one I spent years playing with and refining. It’s friendly, and works well with all kinds of fruits, vegetables and flavor palettes, but sometimes, I have to make a salad where the balsamic vinaigrette is the star. This was one of those salads. It all worked very well together. The juicy chicken soaked up just enough dressing to really sparkle. The tender mache paired nicely with the crispy red bell peppers, and the basil brought all the flavors together.

If the ingredients in my fridge ever align just right, I will happily make this salad again.

Make it a Meal:
Done. For a vegetarian version, replace the chicken with either kidney beans, goat cheese, or feta cheese.

Pack it to Go:
This would be very easy to pack to go. The chicken will be cold, but it will still taste delicious. Just keep the vinaigrette and the salad in separate containers until ready to serve (I recommend making the dressing in a small glass jar, and preparing the salad in a large glass or stainless steel container with a tupperware-style lid.) Use only as much vinaigrette as you need, fork toss or pop the salad container lid back on and give it a few good shakes, then eat and enjoy.

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Once upon a time, my husband and I would spend hours hiking through wet forests in search of elusive, fragrant, delicious fungi.

I love wild mushrooms. These days, our hikes don’t take us very far, even when they last for hours, because we walk with people who have short legs and even shorter attention spans. We still try, and our kids are beginning to get as excited as we are about foraging for wild food. I wish I’d made this salad entirely with chanterelles that I’d found in the woods. Someday, I will. This time? I couldn’t resist the chanterelles at the Berkeley Bowl. They weren’t as big and beautiful as those we’ve discovered on our own, but they were right there in front of me, and I went for it. I couldn’t bring myself to buy as many chanterelles as I wanted (it’s so hard to pay a lot for something when you know you could find better for free), so I cheated and added in some button mushrooms.

The kids were having pasta, so this was a side salad for my husband and I, but my plan was for it to be the main dish. The pasta was the real side for the adults enjoying this meal.

Chanterelle Mushrooms with Romaine, Ingredients

Delicious mushrooms, ready for chopping!

Ingredients:
1 large romaine heart, chopped.
1/2 head garlic, coarsely chopped.
4-6 cups of chanterelles and button mushrooms, coarsely chopped.
2 T extra virgin olive oil.
1/2 stick of butter.
3/4 large shallot, finely diced.
Pinch of salt, to taste.
Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, freshly grated over the salad.

Chanterelle Mushrooms with Romaine, Shallots

Chopped shallots, about to be added to the pan with the mushrooms.

Vinaigrette:
(Use only what you need. Refrigerate the remainder for several days.)
1 T red wine vinegar.
2 T extra virgin olive oil.
1/4 large shallot, finely diced.
Pinch of salt, to taste.

I started by chopping my mountain of mushrooms and smashing the garlic. I put the oil and butter in a wide, heavy bottomed skillet over medium heat. I added the garlic, stirred until it was just golden, then added all the mushrooms. While the mushrooms cooked, I chopped the shallot and mixed up my vinaigrette. Once the mushrooms softened and smelled amazing, I added salt and tasted for tenderness. When the texture was just right, I tossed the shallots in and sauteed them until they were translucent. I removed the pan from the heat, and set it aside.

I coated the greens with dressing (very lightly!!!) and served the salad with a mound of mushrooms nestled in the greens, and a dusting of parmigiano reggiano. This dressing has less oil because the greens end up coated with the rich, buttery, sauce from the delicious mushrooms.

Chanterelle Mushrooms with Romaine, Plated

Our mushroom salad, with a side of pasta.

The Verdict:
Yummy. I think I would’ve appreciated more diverse greens — some peppery arugula, a little radicchio, frisee, baby beet greens… You know what I mean. I did like the crunch of the romaine, I just wanted a little more flavor from the greens. I recommend replacing some of the romaine with mixed greens.

Make it a Meal:
I like red meat and wild salmon with chanterelles. It would’ve worked to lay a grilled salmon fillet over the mushrooms, or slice some steak on top. Of course, the mushrooms are rich and buttery enough to be very, very filling all on their own.

Pack it to Go:
The only way I can see that working is if you’ve got your greens in one container, your dressing in a small jar, and your cooked mushrooms in a glass container that you can heat up before tossing it all together. The mushrooms need to be warm, and you’ll destroy the greens if you heat them up. But if you keep it all separate, and combine it when you’re ready to eat, it should work out fine.

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