Summer Mexican Cobb Salad

Mexican Cobb Salad

Chipotle Chicken and Cilantro Vinaigrette give this one dish dinner a real taste of Mexico.

Combine the taste of cilantro dressing with fresh and lively salad crunch, and top it with grilled spicy chipotle chicken – you’ll have the best summer salad … this one will be on repeat.

CHIPOTLE CHICKEN MARINADE

  • 3-4 chicken breasts, or 8 boneless, skinless thighs
  • 2 chipotles in adobo sauce, minced
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp Mexican oregano
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice

Blend all ingredients until smooth, and pour over chicken.  Marinate for at least 1 hour, and up to overnight.

Grill until cooked through, and set aside.  Do not slice until chicken has rested at least 15 minutes.

CILANTRO VINAIGRETTE

  • 1 huge bunch cilantro – chopped up
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 loved garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard

Put all ingredients in blender and process until smooth.

This vinaigrette is delicious!  Use it on a salad, or as a topping for your steak ….. dip your prawns into it …. the list is endless.

SALAD

Summer Salad

include any number of ingredients to create texture, bright, crispy crunchy fresh vegetables as well as creamy avocado, tasty fruit and toasted nuts

 

  • salad greens
  • spinach
  • cucumber
  • sweet peppers
  • snap peas
  • corn, grilled and sliced off the cobb
  • avocado
  • sliced strawberries
  • cooked bacon
  • toasted nuts

Toss salad ingredients together, and drizzle with cilantro vinaigrette.

Top with sliced chicken and drizzle a little more vinaigrette over the chicken.

 

Korean Bibimbap

Quick disclaimer here …. this is unapologetically inauthentic!  At Fat Boy Moves in Mexico City we ate Bibimbap a couple of times and this is my version of trying to replicate that in my own kitchen, minus of course the stone bowl to serve it in….

Bibimbap

What’s missing you say?  Any authentic Bibimbap will have a soft egg on top!

In terms of recipes, this is more of a guideline.  I’m sure you can find lots of real, true Korean Bibimbap recipes out there, but for my own preferences, in my kitchen, this was pretty delicious.  I think it is key to have either a cast iron frying pan or a stainless steel pan to get the rice nice and crusty.

First, make a sauce:

  • 1/4 cup soya sauce
  • 2 tbsp roasted sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp chile garlic sauce
  • 1 tbsp gojuchang

Taste the sauce, I can’t say that enough, make sure it is delicious …. each of those components will be slightly different by brand so hit a balance you like.

Second, make pickled cucumbers:

  • cut about a 4 inch piece of cucumber in half, lengthwise
  • scoops out seeds and slice very thinly

Put cucumbers in a bowl, and sprinkle with 1/2 tsp each of salt and sugar.  Sprinkle with 2 tbsp rice vinegar and mix well.  Set aside.

To assemble you will need:

  • cooked rice
  • protein (if you like, easy to just make it vegetarian also)
  • stir fried veg
  • pickled cucumbers
  • sesame seeds
  • cilantro
  • slivered chives

Thinly sliver nori sheet and toast until crispy

If you are using a protein, cover your steak, chicken or prawns with a light bit of gojuchang and allow to marinade for an hour.  Grill, and once rested, slice into bite size pieces.

Prepare the vegetables you are going to use, today I used coloured sweet peppers, onions, snow peas, bok choy and cabbage.

Heat fry pan until very hot, add neutral oil and sauce some ginger and garlic.  Add in vegetables and stir fry just until tender.  Set aside.

Reheat the pan, barely cover the bottom with sesame oil and then cover the bottom with the rice.  Allow to sit undisturbed until the rice is heated through and the bottom develops a nice golden brown crust.

Centre your cooked vegetables on the rice, scatter the protein around the edge and garnish with the pickled cucumber, toasted nori and sesame seeds.  Drizzle over the prepared sauce and enjoy!

 

Peanut Sesame Noodles

PLAY WITH YOUR FOOD, you won’t be sorry!

YES, I mean it, get in there … play with this noodle dish.  Experiment with textures and colours, and then when its time to mix with the dressing your hands are the best tools in your kitchen, a great time to get the kids to help ….. (after they’ve washed up).

  • 1/4 cup peanut oil
  • 1/2 cup raw peanuts
  • 1 small jalapeño, minced
  • 1 small garlic clove, halved
  • One 1/4-inch slice of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2  cup thinly sliced scallions
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon chili garlic sauce
  • 1 tablespoon black bean sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil

 

Heat peanut oil in sauce pan, and add peanuts.  Heat until golden brown and allow to cool slightly.

Grind garlic, jalapeno and ginger with a 1/2 tsp of sea salt with mortar and pestle.  (Yes, you can use a food processor if you have one and would rather!)  Add sliced scallions.  Pour warm peanuts (with oil) over top.  The warmth allows the flavours to bloom.  Add the rest of the ingredients and blend well.  I can’t say this strongly enough but taste it!  Taste, taste, taste.  Everybody has a different brand of each ingredient, and that will make the overall taste slightly unique in every household.  Get a balance that you like, in other words, when you realize you are still tasting just to eat it ……

Soften rice noodles according to package instructions.

Thinly slice coloured sweet peppers, celery and any other vegetables you are inclined to add – this is so forgiving and just allows you to express yourself.

Asian noodles

Toss everything together until well blended.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

This noodle dish is easy to turn into a main dish, or one dish meal by adding chicken or seafood.  Keep it the way it is for a vegetarian meal or add some cubed, fried tofu.

KFC – Korean Fried Cauliflower

KFC

Slightly spicy, slightly sticky and a world of deliciousness.  Welcome to KFC.

I can tell you right now, this is worthy of the time investment.  Hayley had mentioned this dish to me years ago, when she and Andrea had it in Vancouver.  I was intrigued at that point, and tried it in a few restaurants, without feeling the love.  (at least not the love Andrea and Hayley expressed)   We finally did experience that, in Mexico City of all places!  Fat Boy Moves is the name of a Korean restaurant there, and it had such amazing reviews we had to try it out.  We went twice.  This cauliflower is the one item that makes Grant say he could be vegetarian … me too.  Once we got home I went on the search.  There are lots of recipes out there, but none of them had the steps or the ingredients I thought it would take to get that taste experience you just can’t get enough of.  Finally, with a recipe sourced out of “Carbon Bar” (restaurant in Toronto) I think I’ve nailed it.  The sauce makes more than you will need, so just enjoy that, and use it on whatever you feel like.

(sidebar here …. I have no idea if this is authentically Korean, but we had it in a Korean restaurant, so I’m calling it Korean!)

1 head cauliflower

green onions (for garnish)

Cauliflower

BUTTERMILK MIXTURE

  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2 sprigs finely chopped fresh thyme leaves

FLOUR MIXTURE

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tbsp baking powder

KFC SAUCE

  • 1 cup gochujang (Korean fermented chili paste)
  • 3/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce (I use reduced sodium)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup mirin (Japanese cooking wine)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder

 

Bring a pot of water to a boil, salt it and add cauliflower florets.  Cook for only 1 minute, then shock in ice water bath and allow to drain completely.

To make the KFC sauce, combine all ingredients in heavy bottom saucepan and stir until it comes to a boil.  Reduce heat and continue to stir occasionally until it reduces slightly and becomes somewhat like a syrup.  (Should take about 15 min) Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.  This keeps well in the fridge for 10-14 days in a covered container.

KFC Sauce

Whisk buttermilk with cayenne pepper, nutmeg and thyme.  Refrigerate for at least an hour or up to 4 days to allow seasonings to permeate buttermilk.

Whisk flour and dry ingredients together.

If you have a deep fryer, set it to 350, if not use a heavy bottom, deep saucepan and about 8 cups of vegetable oil for frying.  If you don’t have a thermometer, stick a chopstick into the oil … if little bubbles form around the chopstick you are ready to go!

Put your buttermilk mixture, and your flour mixture into separate large bowls.

Toss handfuls of florets into flour mixture and shake off excess flour.  Using a slotted spoon, dip cauliflower into buttermilk and again, let excess drip off.  Roll wet cauliflower back in flour mixture again, to coat.  Place on plate.  Repeat until all florets have been coated.

In small batches, carefully place florets in hot oil.  Do not overcrowd your pot or the temperature will drop and the florets will stick together.  You don’t want either to happen!  Fry until golden brown, about 3-4 minutes.  Remove with slotted spoon to a paper towel line plate.

In large bowl toss fried cauliflower with about 3/4 cup of the KFC sauce until each is covered lightly and evenly.  Garnish with the green onions and serve immediately.

Prepare to be licking your fingers, looking for more, and already planning the next time you’ll make it.

Messy kitchen

Sadly, this is what my kitchen looked like by the time I finished. Was it worth it?  You bet, a thousand times yes, and I’ll be doing it again soon.  (and, I have no idea why the reflection out the window looks more like an apartment building and not like the tomato field it is …..)

Pickled Mexican Vegetables

Pickled Veg

I don’t know if any dinner featuring the tastes of Mexico would be complete without this dish … in Mexico it is often found sitting on tables just waiting for you to nibble.

This keeps for weeks in your fridge and is a great accompaniment to sandwiches or burgers and always perfect for tacos.

Like many pickled recipes, this is just a guide.  Use whatever vegetables are fresh and ready at hand.  Today’s version included garden fresh cauliflower, zucchini, green & yellow beans, carrots and sweet Walla Walla onions.  Prepare vegetables in bite size portions, i.e., cauliflower florets, wedges of zucchini, carrots sliced on diagonal … you get the idea.  I like to prepare everything ahead of time, and have them ready on the cutting board so I can see the colours and shapes together to make sure it is a pretty picture.  (yep, I’m that weirdo)  If you like a bit of spicy kick, slice up a jalapeño or two as well.

Start by heating up some good olive oil, (a generous portion – more than you would normally use to sauce) sauté onions until soft.  Add garlic, carrot, and any veg you think might take a while to soften.  You are only looking for crisp tender as your finished product, not soft and overcooked veg.

Add:

2 1/2 cups white vinegar

1 tbsp salt

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp peppercorns

1 tbsp dried mexican oregano

4 bay leaves

Simmer just until heated through and remove from heat.  Store in glass jar (or non reactive container) in the fridge for weeks!

 

 

 

 

Basil Chive Vinaigrette

Nothing smells like fresh basil – definitely my favourite herb.  Summer is the only time of year I make this vinaigrette, when the basil is plentiful and salads grace every meal.

Basil Vinaigrette 1

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 oz (45 g) fresh basil leaves (about 2 cups leaves)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 cup really good quality extra virgin olive oil

Blend all ingredients, except for the olive oil.  Give it a good whiz, until all the herbs are bright flecks of green, then slowly drizzle in the olive oil until creamy and smooth.

Basil Vinaigrette 2

I really think this needs either an immersion blender or food processor to get the consistency.  If you don’t have either, chop herbs very fine and whisk it all up.

This will yield about 1 pint jar, and I’d suggest trying it in a variety of ways …

Basil Vinaigrette 3

salad dressing   ~   vegetable dip   ~   blend with cream cheese for a spreadable bread topping   ~   toss with zucchini ribbons   ~   brush over grilled chicken or seafood

 

Red Wine Vinaigrette

 

Making your own salad dressings is so easy that it never makes sense to buy them!  Forget the packaged dressings and give it a try.  I made enough of this for our Family Reunion this year and it was a hit.  Remember to taste as you go ….. I ended up eating a lot of lettuce before I got the balance right – hard to do with such a large quantity.

P1110070

  • 1/4 cup red-wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste

Blend well, stirring until sugar has dissolved.

  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Slowly whisk in the olive oil until it is emulsified.

Variations:  This is my basic “house” vinaigrette …. and you can switch it up any way you like, during the summer I like to add in fresh herbs.