Fennel, Celery and Avocado Salad with a Lemon Dressing

Fennel, Celery and Avocado Salad with a Lemon Dressing (serves 4)

This a crisp salad with a light lemon dressing and one of my very favorite salads. Whenever I have made it, it is a big success. If people are a bit reluctant – fennel, in a salad, dont’ know if I will like it – I urge them to try a tiny bit and then they are hooked.  It’s unusual enough that people won’t have had it before and simple enough that they can go home and make it. Give it a try

1 large fennel bulb – topped, tailed and sliced

3 large sticks of celery – cut into little strips

1 medium size avocado – diced

1 1/2 tbsp. olive oil

Juice or half a lemon

salt and freshly ground pepper

 

Slice fennel and then chop into pieces (not too small)

Cut each celery stick into 3 and then slice each third of the celery stick into match sticks.

Dice avocado

Place fennel, celery and avocado into a large bowl and add oil, lemon juice and seasoning, then toss.

Taste to see whether dressing needs more oil/lemon juice according to your taste.

Leave out for a couple of hours before serving so the dressing can flavor the vegetables.

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Muffin Mushroom Frittata’s

Muffin Mushroom Frittata’s (makes 12 muffins)

So excited today – received my silicone muffin tray in the mail. Had to try it out immediately and it worked a treat – the mushroom frittata’s popped right out. Recipe is basically an omelet shared out into 12 muffins. The muffin frittata’s are great with a salad or you can quarter them and serve as an hors d’oeuvres. Also you can vary the mixture – onion, garlic, tomato, spinach or maybe make Spanish omelett

 

2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

salt and freshly ground pepper

1 medium onion – finely chopped

1 large clove garlic – minced

12 oz. mushrooms – a variety of mushrooms and sliced

6 eggs – beaten

 

Put oil, salt and pepper in a large skillet.

When sizzling add onion and garlic.

When soft add mushrooms and cook till mushrooms are slightly browned and ready to eat.

Crack 6 eggs and whisk till smooth.

Distribute mushrooms evenly between the 12 muffin moulds (avoid any mushroom juices).

Distribute egg mixture evenly between the 12 muffin moulds.

Cook for 15 minutes or so at 350 degrees until egg mixture is firm.

 

Tomato and Roasted Red Pepper Salad with Grilled Chicken

Tomato and Roasted Red Pepper Salad with Grilled Chicken (serves 4)

Am excited about this recipe. I ate something similar in a restaurant and rushed home to recreate and hopefully improve on it. The restaurant version included mozzarella so I asked to have it without the cheese and chose to have grilled chicken breast on top.  The dressing was a tomato vinaigrette. It was all such a delicious blend of ingredients. This recipe is very versatile. I might add avocado, arugula, French greens or I might choose to top the salad with grilled shrimp or filet of beef  or I might leave meat out altogether and then it is vegetarian.   The best version of this is to make sure the tomatoes are really ripe (tomatoes and strawberries out of season taste of  nothing).  Cheat’s version uses roasted red peppers in glass jars chopped into fine slices or you can roast your own. I poached the chicken breasts in chicken broth and then sliced them and laid them on top of the tomatoes and peppers.  Fresh, simple and delicious.

2 chicken breasts – poached

Chicken broth – enough to cover chicken breasts

8 oz grape tomatoes – sliced in two (Heavenly Villaggio Mancinci brand works for me as tomatoes have real taste – available at Publix supermarket)

6 oz roasted red peppers – sliced into small slices (Mancini Sweet Roasted Peppers is the best brand I could find – it only had citric acid in it)

Poach chicken in chicken broth for 20 – 30 minutes (depending on size, weight, etc.)

Slice tomatoes in 2 and place in dish.

Slice peppers into small slices and place in dish with tomatoes. Toss with the tomato vinaigrette and place sliced chicken on top.

Vinaigrette

1 medium tomato

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 clove garlic – minced

1 1/2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1/2 tbsp. red wine vinegar

1 teasp. Dijon mustard (Publix brand is a good brand)

Place all ingredients in food processor, then pour over the tomatoes and peppers and toss and place chicken on top.

Chili

Chili (serves 6 – 8_

You can just make the chili and serve with a salad or on top of a baked potato or do as I sometimes do, which is to alter a recipe I used to make back in the day of no intolerances. An American friend of mine served chili in a bowl. The chili rested in the center of a bed of lettuce, grated cheese and diced red onion was sprinkled on the chili,  around the edge of the chili was some guacamole and some salsa and the final edge was corn chips. So, eliminate cheese and corn chips and you still have a nice mixture, especially if you make your own guacamole and salsa. I thicken the sauce by putting 2 cups of the kidney beans in the food processor along with the sundried tomatoes. I made this the other day for  guests and my sons and there was as in known is my family ‘an ample sufficiency’. Seconds were had and then just before bed I found my guest dipping in again (which was a great compliment). In the end – no leftovers!

 

 

1 tbsp. olive oil

salt and freshly ground pepper

1 large onion – finely chopped

2 garlic cloves – minced

2 pounds ground beef

2 tsp. chili  powder

1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

2 pinches red pepper flakes

2 x 14 0z cans kidney beans – rinsed and drained

1 cup tomato puree (I use Pomi variety)

3 sundried tomatoes

2 cups beef stock

A few drop of Worcestershire sauce

A few drops of Tabasco sauce

 

Heat the oil, salt and freshly ground pepper in a cast iron casserole dish.

When sizzling add onion and garlic and cook until onion is soft and slightly browned.

Then add chili powder, cayenne pepper and red pepper flakes. Stir and cook for a couple of minutes.

Meanwhile process 2 cups of drained kidney beans and the sundried tomatoes in a food processor.

Add ground beef and cook until browned.

Then add kidney beans, processed kidney beans and sundried tomatoes, tomato sauce and stock to casserole dish along with Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco sauce.

Bring to boiling then turn heat down and simmer for 20 minutes.

 

Garnish – chopped lettuce, chopped red onion, guacamole and salsa (will post homemade guacamole and salsa recipes later)

 

 

Cayenne Kale Chips

Cayenne Kale Chips

I serve these a nibbles and they are very ‘moreish’. I was talking about kale chips over lunch with friends (as one does!) and the waitress overheard and said she added cayenne pepper to hers. So I thought it worth a try in addition to the oil, salt and pepper I normally use and it pepped the kale up nicely.

 

6 oz chopped kale (I buy it pre-chopped and try to avoid the tough stalks)

2 tbsp. olive oil

salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

 

Wash the kale and dry it very well (else it will not cook properly)

Put the rest of the ingredients in a bowl and mix together.

Add the kale to the bowl and toss it in the oil mixture.

Transfer kale to a metal baking tray and place in oven at 350 degrees for 15 minutes, then turn kale to make sure all parts are cooked and place in oven for a further five minutes (if not cooked and crispy by then, keep adding 5 minutes to the cooking time).

Deconstructed Salad Nicoise

Deconstructed Salad Nicoise (serves 4)

Salad Nicoise is a manly salad as it has enough bulk to it that men won’t go hungry and there is no lettuce in my recipe. All the ingredients are fresh with the exception of the tuna. I use the brand ‘Ortiz’ which is yellowfin tuna from Spain and it comes in large pieces which are conserved in extra virgin olive oil. You can find it at Sur La Table or something similar at good deli’s. For the hard-boiled eggs I use quail’s eggs – only because it makes the salad more unusual. I serve my lemon dressing on the side (search for it in the search bar on my blog).

 

1 x 7 oz. jar of tuna – drained

8 oz. French green beans – topped and tailed

10 quail’s eggs – hardboiled and cut in half

14 grape tomatoes –  cut in half

12 baby new potatoes – cut in half

Handful of pitted black olives

Anchovies – enough to arrange across the platter

 

Place the tuna in the middle of a platter in a line then line up the other ingredients on both sides of the tuna. Arrange anchovies in a line across all the ingredients cross wise.