In My Kitchen ~ Spring 2019

In My Kitchen… this salad was SO tasty I want to eat it again soon. A new restaurant opened nearby and everybody raved about their food. Of course I had to go see for myself to “read their menu” (aka: I was hungry and ready for someone else to cook for me) but lately my dining out adventures have been limited by my food allergies. (Hold the croutons and cheese, please!)

Imagine my surprise and delight to find a perfectly grilled salmon filet atop a bed of crisp greens, red pepper strips, grape tomatoes, and black beans accompanied by a wonderful lime vinaigrette. The first thing I said after I got home was: “They sure know how to make a vinaigrette!” (So does Chef Mimi — more below.)

In the meantime I was thrilled to find a local eatery that respects my limitations. (More on that below, too.)

In My Kitchen… I’m ready to dive into Spring and yet another salad: Chef Mimi’s “favorite.” Yes, I realize that favorite recipes are subjective and oft relegated to the dubious best-ever category, but her sense of flavor and texture are spot on in my experience. Her recipe also included ingredients I had on hand, except for the red cabbage. I sorted that out of a “coleslaw kit” before I served it to The Man Of Few Words for supper. (Call it hands-on cooking — I’ve resorted to it more times than I can count when our local grocery store was out of a particular ingredient — and two meals out of one ain’t bad.)

FYI, I also substituted brown rice for the barley. Mimi said that was okay — use whatever combination works for you. DO try her vinaigrette though. It was tantalizing! Still enjoying the rest on spinach salads and such.

Click on the link above for her recipe.

In My Kitchen… my cousin Jeanne and her husband Ken (who’ve hosted me on my many treks to Minnesota) arrived for an overnight stay. She presented me with some “bowl cozies” to keep our soup and cereal  warm (or cold) courtesy of her quilting scraps, and a crocheted potholder, too. What a treat to be the recipient of such handmade love! We enjoyed catching up on the deck and munching on appetizers in front of the lake before I served supper. Thank you, xo!

In My Kitchen… is an Irish Apple Cake I’ve made many times. NOTE: the original recipe may have included a lil’ Irish (whisky instead of vanilla) but it’s just as good without the “heritage.” The crunchy top layer is a lovely prelude to the moist, spice-laden cake below and it keeps well and freezes well, too.

Irish Apple Cake (recipe courtesy of my friend, Denise W.)

1/4 c. butter, softened

1 c. sugar

1 egg, beaten

1 tsp. vanilla (or whisky…)

2 c. diced peeled Granny Smith apples

1/4 c. chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg (I used less because mine was freshly grated)

1 c. flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease an 8″ square baking pan. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add egg and vanilla; beat again. Add apples and nuts.

Combine dry ingredients; mix in with a wooden spoon. Mixture will be thick. Spread evenly into prepared pan and bake 45 minutes or until a pick comes out clean.

Remove from oven, cool on a wire rack, and cut into squares.

Serve with whipped cream or ice cream. (TMOFW says it’s “just right” plain. :)

Sherry MacKay of Sherry’s Pickings has more In My Kitchen adventures to connect your global hearts and kitchens ever since she took over from her predecessors — Celia, Maureen, and Liz. I’m grateful to all of them for the FUN and friendship — not to mention helping re-establish my kitchen four years ago — but, having said that…

I’ve finally decided that IMK fits best into my life quarterly rather than monthly. Welcome to the Spring edition! For now I have everything I need. It’s also Autumn “Down Under” (where Sherry hails from, as do many of the participants), but Spring has sprung here — and in my heart. I’ve put off too many writing deadlines during the past five years and hopefully you can see how colorful my life has become now. It’s time to make that leap of faith…

Whether you’re looking for food, flavor inspirations, or the latest kitchen gadgets, IMK is a reliable source. Thank you all! As for me, I’ll be back with more thoughts soon. Maybe in a letter? Meanwhile enjoy this glimpse of my surroundings, xo.

Enjoying salads, writing, and possibilities,

~ Kim

Twice As Nice (Croatian Chicken Paprikash and a Warm Boho Salad)

Two New Favorite Dishes

Since I arrived home, I’ve been vacillating between the life I started to eke out a year and a half ago after the fire (sorry to bring that up again) and “life” — after 3-1/2 months in Minnesota — following Mom’s Parkinson’s diagnosis.

Basically readjusting to my space.

Yes, there actually is (or once was) such a place, but some days I forget what that feels like. Between multiple phone calls to/from the care center, my Mom, the Realtor trying to sell Mom’s house from afar, her doctors, home inspectors… let’s just say I’m workin’ on it… a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do!

Croatian Chicken Paprikash

Thank God for wonderful foodie friends who know me — or at least my love of GOOD foodand who’s recent recipes appealed to my sense of the familiar.

Pictured above is Croatian Chicken Paprikash by Jasmina Brasovic. OH MY! (Be sure to scroll down to her recipe for this on FB.) Even though my grandparents weren’t Croatian (they hailed from nearby Hungary), going back to my “Czech roots” — or at least the flavors that once fed me due to mutual proximity — has been instrumental in grounding me. I sooooo needed that!

Thanks, Jasmina, xo.

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Add to that an unconventional side dish: Maple Bacon Kale & Roasted Potatoes by Ally Phillips — a “warm salad” per my Boho friend, whom I know won’t mind that I subbed spinach (minus the chicken broth) and fried leftover baked potatoes in a pinch — and you have some extraordinarily good eatin’ on your hands (or plate), not to mention hearty Comfort Food by genealogical proximity.

Jasmina and Ally both have Croatia in common — twice as nice — plus exceptionally tasty recipes! My Grandma would have LOVED how these lovely ladies “cook.”

Nourishment is more than just eating — it’s food for the soul.

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Enjoying trying something new while attempting to get back to the “old,”

~ Kim

Grilled Artichoke Heart Salad

Grilled Artichoke Heart Salad I

I’ve been on a salad kick lately. Not intentionally (there’s no such word as *diet* in my dictionary), but sometimes my eating goes in streaks. Ever had that happen? If it can be chopped, torn, scattered on a plate or tossed in a bowl, it’s potential salad.

Everything in the fridge is fair game. The same goes for my pantry.

The other day I was rummaging around in the ol’ larder when I spied a small jar of grilled artichoke hearts. Hmmm… what to make with them? Although they’re perfectly delectable on an antipasto platter or all by their lonesome, this time they ended up as salad…

Grilled Artichoke Heart Salad

Grilled Artichoke Heart Salad

1 (6.7 oz.) jar Mezzetta Grilled Artichoke Hearts, drained

6 to 8 Romaine lettuce leaves, rinsed, drained, & patted dry

4 slices of bacon, sauteed until crisp, drained on paper towels, & crumbled

1 orange, peeled, segmented, & cubed

1/2 c. toasted pecans

1 Tbsp. capers (optional, but I love capers)

Assemble ingredients in an artful way. Drizzle with your choice of vinaigrette.* Serves 2.

(*I made Andrew Zimmern’s Orange-Tarragon Vinaigrette — it’s fabulous!)

On a “bloggy” note, I’m taking two weeks off to work on a few projects (in case you don’t see me around the block) and will be back after the upcoming annual feast.

Quite possibly with a turkey salad…

Wishing you a gracious, gratitude-filled Thanksgiving!

Enjoying following my (grilled artichoke) heart,

~ Kimby

If Desired…

If Desired Salad

A phrase that pops up frequently in recipes is “if desired.”  (Add x, if desired…)  I like that.  I like that a lot.  Not just as a cooking term, but for the myriad possibilities it presents in life.

Generally, I make choices because something needs to be done.

Laundry or dishes?  Vacuum or sweep?  Some days it doesn’t feel like a choice at all!

What if I added “if desired” to life’s lil’ recipe?

Vacuum, if desired…

(That just inspired me to tidy up the house, ha!)

But first, I desire salad…

If Desired Salad

“If Desired” Salad

Assorted greens (add baby spinach, if desired)

Cooked chicken breast, coarsely chopped

Avocado slices, sprinkled with fresh lime juice

Red onions, thinly sliced

Cherry tomatoes, quartered

Bleu cheese, crumbled (or Feta — whatever cheese you desire)

Freshly ground pepper & sea salt

A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

How to… layer ingredients on a plate.  EAT!

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A few other things on my “if desired” list…

Finish my novel (which requires even less time online…)

Write a song that doesn’t repeat the chorus 400 times (lol) and continue to write “symphonic music.”  (Workin’ on it.)  I LOVED what I learned in the recent songwriting class, but sometimes music can’t be expressed in 26 letters of the alphabet. (!)  Notes without words… aaahhh.

Eventually share some of my music here.  (Also workin’ on it!)

Rid myself of “winter weight.”  Aarrggh!  It seems my metabolism has changed (again) and my penchant for pasta and baked goods MUST be curtailed…

Write with a pen and paper more often than I spend time on my computer.  Hoohah, it’s deck season!

I don’t consider it an indulgence to write in front of a scenic vista, because I worked long and hard to get to this point (trucking comes to mind, as do a multitude of other jobs) and I’m grateful for this blessing.  I desire to write here, as often as possible…

“Office hours ala Spring”

Spring at the lake

Most days I don’t mind making decisions, but when I desire to do things, life’s a lot more fun!

How ’bout you?  What would you do, if desired?

Enjoying myriad possibilities,

~ Kimby

Chopped Salad

Today is officially the first day of Summer (woohoo!) and what could be more fitting than a summertime salad filled with veggies?

Unless, of course… you add salami and provolone to produce a cross between a Muffuletta sandwich and an Antipasto platter… in a bowl.

(I love one dish meals.)

My friend, Rachel, at The Fromagette posted this beauty a few months back and I’ve wanted to try it ever since.  In fact, I’ve been trying lots of recipes, which accounts for why I don’t post more often.

If I listed all of the incredible food we’ve enjoyed this past year, it would fill two posts and require untold hours of linking.  (Hmmm… maybe I will someday.)  For now, allow me to say:  Thank you from the bottom of our stomachs!

Getting back to this gem, it inspired a picnic!  It also required The Man Of Few Words’ assistance for the action shots.  (He’s so helpful…xo!)

Chopped Salad  (adapted from the original recipe here)

12 small pimiento stuffed green olives, halved

1/2 c. water-packed roasted red peppers, drained & diced

1/4 c. green onions, chopped

1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered

1/4 c. pepperoncini, drained & sliced into rings

1 small head of Romaine lettuce, chopped

2 oz. provolone cheese, cubed

2 oz. salami, diced

Vinaigrette

1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

1 small garlic clove, finely minced

1/2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

Freshly ground black pepper

1/2 tsp. sugar, or to taste

Combine salad ingredients in a large bowl.

Whisk together vinaigrette; drizzle over salad and toss lightly.

Makes two generous servings.

Paired with a slice of garlic toast, it was the perfect welcome to the Summer months ahead!

Enjoying “friend-ly” food,

~ Kim

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The Royal Treatment (Crab Louis)

Have you ever had a song stuck in your head that replayed over and over?  For some reason, Herman’s Hermits invaded my gray matter recently and decided to take up residence.  I think it’s my brain’s way of dealing with madness from the outside world — you can’t think of much else when you’ve got Herman and the boys wailing, “I’m Henry the VIII, I am, Henry the VIII, I am, I am…”

(For a refresher in English monarchs, click here.)

Maybe it’s a good thing.  Between verses, I thought of another king, this time from France — Louis the XVIth.  (For a refresher in French monarchs, click here.)

For a refesher in Roman numerals, click here. :)

Crab Louis

Dungeness crab meat, steamed, chilled & picked over to remove any trace of shell

Lettuce, chopped (I used Romaine, although iceberg lettuce is traditional)

Hard cooked eggs, quartered

Tomatoes, quartered

Lemon wedges

(Optional:  cucumbers, asparagus, olives)

For the dressing:

According to some sources, this salad may be served with Green Goddess dressing(Second verse, same as the first…)  But for the real deal, click here.  (It’s a “Grandma recipe” — thank you, Wives With Knives!)

To assemble:

Place bed of lettuce on a plate.  (The fancier, the better.)

Spoon a generous serving of crab meat atop lettuce.

Garnish with hard-cooked eggs, tomatoes, lemon wedges, and any other optional goodies you may require.

Serve with dressing on the side.  (‘Tis better to dip than to drench.)

Whatever ancestry you hail from, this salad is truly refreshing.  I had it for Mother’s Day.  Long live the king.

Or Queen. :)

Enjoying the royal treatment,

~ Kim

Go, Green!

Something about this time of year makes me crave Green Goddess Dressing.

The mere thought of it evokes images of Mother Nature, the vernal equinox, and Aphrodite — although she wasn’t green.

I was so enthralled with the idea of making a batch, I completely forgot to put it in the blender!  (It still tasted wonderful — although not quite as green.)

Green Goddess Dressing

(Adapted from the recipe on a bottle of Reese Tarragon Sprig Wine Vinegar)

1/2 c. mayonnaise (regular or low-fat)

1/2 c. sour cream (regular or low-fat)

1/2 c. chopped fresh parsley

1-1/2 Tbsp. tarragon, chopped

3 green onion tops, minced

1 tsp. dried chervil

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 tsp. Kosher salt (or to taste)

1 to 1-1/2 Tbsp. tarragon vinegar

1 to 2 Tbsp. water (use less for a “dip-like” consistency; more for “dressing”)

Combine ingredients in a small bowl; mix well.  Cover and refrigerate until chilled.

Serve on a bed of butter lettuce (which is not as calorie-laden as the name implies!) or use as a dip with fresh vegetables.

Homemade croutons optional.  (Not!) :)

For traditional Green Goddess Dressing, whirl everything in a blender or food processor until smooth.

Enjoying all things green,

~ Kim

(Yes, Gumby, that includes you.)