Monday, April 29, 2013

Grilled Chicken Salad

Well, what do you know - May 1 is National Salad Day. Not sure who decided that it is, in fact, a national "day," but hey, our nation could only benefit from supporting all things healthy. I learned about it from the great folks at Tastespotting who have joined forces with DOLE Salads to promote the event.

My love for salads comes and goes. Sometimes I think I cannot face another green leaf on my plate, and sometimes I crave the tart fresh crunch of green salad dressed in vinaigrette. With the warmth and the sun of springtime it is definitely time for salad.

This salad was heavily influenced by Nicoise - boiled eggs and potatoes, olives, vinaigrette - but instead of green beans I have a very Russian vegetable, radishes. And grilled chicken instead of the tuna.

Grilled Chicken Salad

Will probably serve 2 slender girls for lunch :)

1 grilled chicken breast, sliced
2 hard boiled eggs, peeled and sliced
2 small thin-skinned potatoes, scrubbed, boiled and quartered
4 handfuls spring salad mix
12 Kalamata olives
4 radishes, sliced

For vinaigrette
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
freshly ground black pepper

Divide salad mix between two plates, place the rest of the ingredients on top. Whisk vinaigrette components with a fork until emulsified, dress the salad.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Butter Cookies with Dried Cherries, Chocolate and Nuts

First things first: my recipe for the Tres Leches Cake has been featured on NoshOn.It - "a free daily cooking newsletter that helps bring new ideas to your kitchen." How exciting! NoshOn.It is a pretty cool website with an impressive cadre of contributors. Every time I visit it I linger, following the links to various fascinating food blogs.

And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming. And what we had scheduled are these butter cookies covered with a layer of chocolate and sprinkled with nuts. I got the recipe for the cookie dough from Cook's Illustrated. The cookie is tasty and versatile: for example, it beautifully pairs with one of my favorites, dulce de leche, by sandwiching it between plain cookies.

While it is best to follow the recipe closely when baking the cookies, the topping is more forgiving. You can use any chocolate you fancy, as long as it melts nicely. Severe chocoholics among us can use more chocolate than the recipe calls for. You will be all the happier for it.

I had an assortment of nuts still in their shells sitting in a bowl on the counter top. While beautiful to look at, these nuts had to be eaten eventually. Food intended for purely decorative purposes is sad, I believe, like those fondant roses that look beautiful but taste gross. So that's where these nuts went - onto the cookies! The kids had a blast cracking these babies open with a rock on the back yard, just like I did as kid.

Like with the chocolate, you can use whatever nuts you prefer.

Shortbread Cookies with Dried Cherries, Chocolate and Nuts

2 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
16 tablespoons butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
1 cup dried cherries

9 oz chocolate, chopped, or 1 1/2 cup chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 375F. Line 12X18 inch baking sheet with parchment.

Using electric mixer, mix together flour, sugar and salt. Add butter 1 tablespoon at a time mixing until dough begins to form. Add vanilla and cream cheese, mix well. Mix in dried cherries.

Press dough evenly onto baking sheet. Bake until golden, about 20 min.

In the meantime, melt chocolate in microwave (stop and stir frequently to ensure even melting). Spread chocolate over warm cookie layer. Sprinkle with nuts. Let cool and cut into bars.

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