Creamy Cucumber Herb Salad Dressing

Creamy Cucumber dressing 2

Smooth, creamy and absolutely delicious – this will make you crave a salad.

We used to love going to a small restaurant in Mexico City, no name on the building and just a few wooden chairs and tables on the sidewalk … but oh … the food!  For 99 pesos we received an amazing set menu with four courses and it was always fantastic.  The chef moved on … (we spotted him at another place finally).  If I could remember the name of his new spot I’d definitely give you a recommendation to try it!  Anyhow … what was I saying … oh of course … this is a salad dressing recipe.  He made this incredible creamy cucumber salad dressing that was divine.  I asked him the recipe and he gave me the basic idea but claimed the key was the sea salt he used.  We walked miles looking for the store he told us to go to, without success.  Eventually, on another trip we found the salt  (from Cuyutlan), and have continued to pick it up every time we go to Mexico City!  I’ve finally hit the right ingredients here and this is delicious.

  • 1 cup chopped cucumber
  • 3/4 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • handful of fresh herbs (I used basil, parsley and oregano)
  • 1 garlic scape
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper

Roughly chop the herbs and cucumber and place in blender, then add the rest of the ingredients.  Give it a really good whiz until smooth and creamy.  Depending on how juicy your cucumber is, if needed you can thin it out a bit with milk or buttermilk.

Creamy Cucumber dressing 3

My trusty little bullet whipped this up in no time.

Creamy cucumber dressing 4

My herbs are so happy this year!

Creamy cucumber dressing 5

Here it is, the infamous salt I had Grant, Wilson and Vivian trekking all over                              Mexico City looking for.  Was it worth the effort?  You bet.

 

 

 

 

 

Zucchini Ricotta Galette or Tomato Galette

Got a plethora of zucchini in your garden?  Here you go, you are very welcome.  Even if you don’t, head to the grocer or market and buy some because this galette is just that good.

Galette 8

This photo is gorgeous …. but even that doesn’t do it justice.  Oh, the crispy puffy pastry, the creamy rich base …the fresh from the garden (or market) zucchini …. and the aroma as it bakes. This is a sure winner, and certain to be on repeat.

Veg Galette 3

Incredibly delicious as a tomato galette also.

Serve this with a salad for a great vegetarian meal or cut into small pieces for an appetizer, either way it’s fantastic!

For the pastry:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, chilled in the freezer for 30 minutes
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces and chill again
1/4 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup ice water

Filling:
1 large or 2 small zucchinis, sliced into 1/4 inch thick rounds
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
1 medium garlic clove, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup (about 1 ounce) grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup (1 ounce) shredded mozzarella
1 tablespoon slivered basil leaves

Glaze:
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 teaspoon water

Veg Galette 2

Glazed and ready for the oven – they already look and smell fantastic.

 

Make dough: Whisk together the flour and salt in a large bowl. Sprinkle bits of butter over dough and using a pastry blender, cut it in until the mixture resembles coarse meal, with the biggest pieces of butter the size of tiny peas. In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, lemon juice and water and add this to the butter-flour mixture. With your fingertips or a wooden spoon, mix in the liquid until large lumps form. Pat the lumps into a ball; do not overwork the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Make filling: Spread the zucchini out over several layers of paper towels. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and let drain for 30 minutes; gently blot the tops of the zucchini dry with paper towels before using. In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil and the garlic together; set aside. In a separate bowl, mix the ricotta, Parmesan, mozzarella, and 1 teaspoon of the garlicky olive oil together and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Prepare galette: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a floured work surface, roll the dough out into a 12-inch round. Transfer to an ungreased baking sheet (though if you line it with parchment paper, it will be easier to transfer it to a plate later). Spread the ricotta mixture evenly over the bottom of the galette dough, leaving a 2-inch border. Shingle the zucchini attractively on top of the ricotta in concentric circles, starting at the outside edge. Drizzle the remaining tablespoon of the garlic and olive oil mixture evenly over the zucchini. Fold the border over the filling, pleating the edge to make it fit. The center will be open. Brush crust with egg yolk glaze.

Bake the galette until the cheese is puffed, the zucchini is slightly wilted and the galette is golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with basil, let stand for 5 minutes, then slide the galette onto a serving plate. Cut into wedges and serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

Galette 2

See …. not quite enough cutting in yet, those butter cubes are too big.

Galette 3

Small, pea sized bits now and the liquid added.

Galette 4

Do not over mix, just get it together and wrap it to put in fridge for at least 30 minutes).

Galette 7

Salt, and allow to sit for a bit in order to draw the liquid out.

Galette 5

As you can see …. I’m not the best at an exact “12 inch” circle …. but I’m working on that!

Galette 6

Mix all your cheeses with the olive oil & garlic blend … adjust to taste with salt and pepper.

Galette 1

WHAT??  Already I’m crazy about this and it hasn’t even hit the oven yet.  Yes, I need to work on my even edges … ha ha

Veg Galette

Tonight we had enough people celebrating Stella turning 6 that I needed to make 2 …. so I did a tomato galette as well as zucchini.  Both were delicious.

Be as inventive as you like with the cheeses, using the amounts as your guidelines.  With the tomato galette I used aged gouda as well as the ricotta and parmesan.  With the zucchini, tonight I had old white cheddar on hand ….  What won’t change is how amazing your house smells!  Go ahead, invite the neighbours in …..

 

Absolutely full credit (as well as the copy/paste feature) for this recipe – IN TOTAL – goes to Deb Perelman at http://www.smitten kitchen.com  – one of the very rare recipes I didn’t play around with at all …. okay except I used a couple of patty pan squash because I had them….

 

Cheesy Zucchini Herb Loaf

I love the way the herbs stay fresh and green, and the cheesy tender dough is delicious.

Cheesy zucchini herb loaf 6

Cheesy, crispy on the crust and so tender inside.  You are going to want to try this one out!

  • 1 1/2 cups grated zucchini
  • 4 cups flour
  • 6 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp white sugar
  • 3/4 cup cubed cheddar cheese
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup herbs, chopped finely (today I used parsley, chives, oregano and basil)
  • 1 tsp salt

Toss together, and set aside.

  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 3 beaten eggs
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh herbs
  • 2 cups milk

Whisk together.

Pour wet ingredients into flour/zucchini mixture and mix together lightly.  DO NOT OVERMIX.  That leads to tougher dough.

Pour into parchment lined loaf pans.

Sprinkle a little flake salt over top.

Bake at 350 for 45 – 60 minutes.  Start testing at 45, and as soon as the tester comes out clean remove from the oven.

Cheesy zucchini herb loaf 1

The herbs are vibrant, the eggs are free run and the flavour is out of the park!

Cheesy zucchini herb loaf 2

Once you have everything ready, the final assembly is pretty quick!

Cheesy zucchini herb loaf 3

Using parchment means it is easy to lift out, and helps to get such a crispy exterior.                         This recipe makes two loaves.

Cheesy zucchini herb loaf 4

Cheesy zucchini herb loaf 5

Golden crust, with craggy cheesy bits and Maldon sea salt adding a bit of crunch on the top.

 

Roasted Potato Fennel Soup

During the cold of winter these vegetables are always available, and make the most comforting winter dinner.  When summer vegetables arrive however, with fresh new potatoes, leeks and fennel from your own garden or farmers market, this soup is the perfect meal on a cool, rainy spring – early summer night.

Roasted potato Fennel Soup 10

I love rich, creamy soups, but what I really love …. is the toppings.  Every pureed soup needs something to create texture and bacon with fresh herbs does the job.

  • 4 pounds red potatoes, quartered
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp  freshly ground pepper
  • 3 cups chopped yellow onion
  • 1 cup sliced leek
  • 3 cups sliced fennel bulb
  • 3 quarts chicken broth (or vegetable broth for a vegetarian option)
  • 1 cup cream (omit if you want it to be vegan)

GARNISH

  • fresh chopped chives, parsley, basil and fennel fronds
  • crispy bacon bits

Preheat oven to 400

In large bowl toss the potatoes with olive, garlic, salt and pepper.

Roasted Potato Fennel Soup 1

New potatoes, tossed with olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper.  Yum whatever you do wth them!

Spread on baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes, until cooked through.  (use 2 sheets if necessary, you don’t want them crowded)

Saute onions, fennel and leek with 2 tbsp olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat until translucent. (I like to cook my bacon in the pot first in order to use the fat …. but for vegan or vegetarian options just omit the bacon and it’s fat).

Roasted Potato Fennel Soup 3

Season every step of the way!

Add chicken or vegetable stock to onion mixture and bring it to a boil. Add roasted potatoes, turn to a gentle simmer and cook until all vegetables are soft.

Roasted Potato Fennel Soup 5

Puree until all vegetables are creamy … this is the point to add fresh minced herbs and the cream, if using.

Roasted Potato Fennel Soup 7

Taste, and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper.

Roasted Potato Fennel Soup 6

Mince up a handful of fresh herbs …. 

Roasted Potato Fennel Soup 9

Toss the herbs in and stir well with the blended soup.

Roasted Potato Fennel Soup 2

Prep your garnish … today I liked the idea of crunchy bacon (well honestly most soups love crunchy bacon) … as well as chives, basil and fennel fronds.

 

Leafy Green Fritters

 

Green Fritters 7

I love the way the feta crisps up and gets golden brown ….. this is a fantastic way of using up a fridge full of greens!  Today these were beet tops, spinach and a bit of zucchini grated in.

INGREDIENTS

  • 14 ounces Swiss chard, kale, mustard, turnip or radish greens, etc, stems removed
  • ½ cup chopped Italian parsley
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • ¼ cup chopped dill
  • 1½ teaspoons grated nutmeg (I didn’t measure; just grated a lot directly into the processor)
  • ½ teaspoon granulated sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • freshly cracked pepper
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 ounces crumbled feta cheese (1/2 cup)
  • Olive oil or grapeseed oil for frying
  • Lemon wedges, for serving (optional)
  • Aioli, for serving (again, optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Steam greens, or briefly drop in boiling water for a few minutes. Remove from pot and drain well, patting leaves dry with a paper or kitchen towel.
  2. Place chard in food processor with herbs, nutmeg, sugar, salt, pepper, flour, garlic and eggs. Pulse until well blended. Fold in feta by hand.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, spoon in 1 heaping tablespoon of mixture for each fritter (you should be able to fit three fritters per batch).  Stick to cooking three or four at a time. I find these fritters a little tricky to flip, and the key is to make sure that you have space to flip but also to make sure the fritters are golden and crisp before flipping. Press down gently on fritter to flatten. Cook 1 to 2 minutes per side, until golden brown. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with paper towels. Add another tablespoon oil to pan and repeat. Serve warm, with lemon wedges (optional). Another serving idea is to prepare a creamy aioli and serve with that alongside …. you won’t be sorry!

Lucky me ….. I had a bunch of beet greens to use up and found this recipe on alexandracooks.com

Green Fritters 1

I minced up a generous handful of herbs.

Green Fritters 2

Crumble the feta by hand, and then just stir everything together with your cooled greens.

Green Fritters 3

Stir it all together (those little red bits are the beet tops), and you are ready to fry.

Green Fritters 4

Don’t overcrowd the pan!  3 or 4 only depending on the size of your pan.  Not only will it prevent them from browning nicely, it will be difficult to flip them.

Green fritters 5

green-fritters-6-e1560439446573.jpg

 

Beautiful Bowl

Beautiful bowl 7

This bright and beautiful bowl is packed with intense flavour and crunchy bits along with the chewy barley combined alongside pickled radish & ginger.

Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup miso paste
  • 4 tsp honey
  • 3 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tsp wasabi paste
  • 2 tsp fresh lime juice
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup minced cilantro (use the stems!)

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and give it a good whiz until it is bright and creamy.

Beautiful bowl 1

Gather all the dressing ingredients together and it will take just a few minutes to combine.

Beautiful bowl 2

Use the stems of the cilantro, that is where the most flavour is – mince it first before blending.

Beautiful bowl 3

Bright, fresh, green – this dressing is a flavour packed bomb.  I’m sure it would be great on anything as well as this bowl …. I’m going to put it to use in whatever way I can find.

Pickled Radish:

  • 6-8 radishes, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Slice radishes, and sprinkle with salt and sugar, then pour the rice vinegar over.  Allow the radishes to sit for at least 10 minutes.

Beautiful bowl 4

Barley:

  • 4 cups water
  • 1 tsp chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp miso paste
  • 1 1/2 cups pearl barley

Bring water, miso and stock to a boil, then add the barley.  Bring to a slow gentle boil and allow barley to cook until just tender – about 25-30 minutes.  Rinse under cool water and allow to drain.

This recipe was inspired by Whitewater Cooks, and her Beautiful BC Bowl with salmon ….but you can do whatever you like with it.

YOUR BOWL:

If you are cooking a protein, marinade in some of the dressing, and then grill until cooked.  Grilling is by far the best – the honey will stick to any fry pan you use!

Beautiful bowl 6

This is as customizable as your fridge!  Use what you’ve got – tonight we had leftover flank steak so that made our protein, but honestly without a protein you will enjoy this just as much.

Assemble bowl with the barley, protein of choice and an assortment of toppings.  Tonight we used:

  • roasted peanuts
  • roasted sesame seeds
  • avocado
  • sliced snow peas
  • halved cucumber slices
  • slivered green onions
  • sautéed mushrooms
  • sautéed red onions & sweet peppers
  • cilantro, roughly chopped
  • nori sheets – roasted lightly and slivered

Everything about this bowl is a delight!  Customize it to your tastes.

 

Bright Crunchy Thai salad with Peanut Lime Dressing

Brighter skies, longer days, and warm temperatures mean I’m looking for meals that are lighter and feel so good to eat!  The flavours of this dressing are so good you are going to want a big batch to keep in the fridge – use it to dip any fresh vegetables in.

Sesame chli lime cashews 3

Served tonight with some lightly garlic buttered prawns …. a perfect meal.

Dressing

  • juice of 2 limes
  • zest of 1 lime
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp Ponzu sauce
  • 3 tbsp sweet chili sauce
  • 1 – 2 tsp grated or minced garlic (to your taste)
  •  1 tbsp grated or minced ginger
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup cilantro (the stems are perfect for this, they pack so much flavour – just mince a bit before putting in the blender
  • 1/3 cup roasted peanuts

Combine all ingredients in blender and whiz up until smooth and creamy.

Gather up all the vegetables that scream fresh to you and make an awesome crunchy salad.

Lightly seasoned cashews make a fantastic crunchy topping!

In a frypan combine:

  • 1 1/3 cups cashews
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil

Sesame Chili Lime cashews

Toss and heat until cashews are lightly browned and then cook for a further minute with:

  • 1 tbsp honey
  • zest of 1 lime
  • 2 tbsp black sesame seeds (lightly toasted)

Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Sesame chli lime cashews 2

This dressing makes more than you will need.  If you want to make a complete meal out of this, then scoop out about 1/2 cup and marinate a protein for grilling.  It works equally well with flank steak or chicken.  I haven’t tried it with tofu, but I’m sure it would be great.  Grill steak or chicken and allow to rest at least 15 minutes before slicing.  Cool before serving with the salad.