7 Layer Cauliflower Salad

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With summer entertaining upon us, this is a great make-ahead salad that holds up well on the buffet table.  I first tasted it at a potluck where it was served to rave reviews and the recipe shared with me.  It has great texture, flavor and crunch. I mean, crisp bacon, cheese and cauliflower  all in one bowl.  What’s not to love?  I added cherry tomatoes and substituted blue cheese dressing for mayonnaise in my version and reduced the sugar in half.  Crowd pleaser in a bowl!

7 Layer Cauliflower Salad

  • 1 head of iceberg lettuce, torn into bite sized pieces
  • 1 head of cauliflower, cored, leaves removed, cut into bite-sized florets
  • 2 cups mayonnaise or blue cheese dressing
  • 4 cups of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 pound of bacon, cooked crisp, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup of sugar
  1. In a large bowl, layer the ingredients in the order listed, starting with the lettuce on the bottom. Cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.  Toss well before serving.

Bottom 2 layers: torn iceberg and cauliflower florets

Dressing and tomatoes added on top of the cauliflower.

Ready to chill.

Thank you Renate for this delicious recipe!

Lemony Rustic Summer Berry Galette

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“All in all, it was a never to be forgotten summer — one of those summers which come seldom into any life, but leave a rich heritage of beautiful memories in their going — one of those summers which, in a fortunate combination of delightful weather, delightful friends and delightful doing, come as near to perfection as anything can come in this world.”

—L.M. Montgomery, Anne’s House of Dreams

Galettes, also called crostatas, are simple free-form tarts. I love their rustic quality and how no 2 galettes are the same. They hold such artisanal appeal for me and offer a more relaxed approach to dessert.  This berry version gets a triple burst of lemony flavor from a fragrant lemon balm* studded crust and berries tossed in lemon zest and lemon juice.  Any lemon herb could be substituted for the lemon balm. Roll the crust of your choice out on parchment paper so it is easier to transfer it to a baking sheet holding onto the parchment paper edges. The galette will be baked on the same parchment paper.  For the best success, add the berry mixture once the crust has been transferred to a rimmed baking sheet.   Serve warm with vanilla ice cream for a lovely summer dessert.  One of my edges was not quite folded over enough and some of the fruit juices ran.  It was still delicious!  Bake up this simple tart and savor a slice of summer.

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Citrus-Ginger Barbecued Salmon

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This is the recipe to make even non-salmon lovers fall in love.  Salmon fillets are marinated in soy, citrus and ginger then grilled.  The marinade is brought to a boil to thicken and glaze the grilled fish.  Extra glaze can be served on the side.    Add some steamed rice, a vegetable and some sliced scallions and watch those non-salmon lovers gobble this dish right up.  For salmon lovers like myself, it’s just one more delicious way to enjoy a favorite fish.

A whole salmon fillet, grilled on a cedar plank, was glazed with the marinade. Delicious!

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Papaya-Berry Boats

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“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?”

“What’s for breakfast?” said Pooh. “What do you say, Piglet?”

“I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?” said Piglet.

Pooh nodded thoughtfully. “It’s the same thing,” he said.”   A.A. Milne

These papaya-berry boats are one of my favorite summer breakfasts and they could not be easier to make. Simply cut a ripe papaya in half and scoop out its seeds.  Fill the center with your choice of berries.  Sprinkle with lime zest, finely cut on a microplane.  Finish with a squeeze of lime juice and a chiffonade of fresh mint.  I serve them with serrated grapefruit spoons to scoop out the papaya flesh,  right out of the papaya.  You could drizzle with a bit of honey or maple syrup for extra sweetness but I usually enjoy them without.  A dollop of yogurt adds protein.  Yum! Continue reading

Dijon-Tarragon Chicken Zoodles

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Vegetable zoodles are the answer to lower carb diets who still crave  “pasta”.  I find their texture remains a bit too wet in hot dishes and prefer the zoodles in cold salads.  To make a linguine substitute with zucchini noodles, I let the noodles drain in a colander for a half hour to try to get as much moisture out.  Then I flash fried them in a bit of hot olive oil and butter seasoned with garlic, to barely cook them but give them some body and flavor. The Dijon-tarragon chicken in a cream sauce was a delicious topping for a quick week night dinner.

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Mexican Cuisine Recipe Round Up

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Food is the language we all speak. I remember very distinctlly the first time I tasted pizza.  I was 9 years old and visiting Expo 67 in Montréal.  My dad ordered a cheese pizza for me and I thought it was the best thing I had ever tasted in my life.  Today’s popular pie was considered exotic cuisine back then.  Now, pizza is widely enjoyed  around the world and most of us don’t give a thought to how it became part of out diets.  Funny how that happens!  Our palates evolve and are  enriched by travel and the wonderful contributions made by immigrants into our communities.  And thank goodness!

I came to Mexican cuisine much later in life.  Moving to the USA 26 years ago certainly exposed me to this popular cuisine, especially that my apartment was across the street from a Mexican restaurant.   But until more recently, my Mexican cooking repertoire was limited to taco night for my family and the occasional guacamole.  When I made my first enchiladas for Cinco de Mayo recently, I didn’t think I had been very adventurous as far as Mexican dishes were concerned.  Searching the blog archives, I was surprised to find several recipes I had made and they had all been reader favorites.  I’ve compiled a collection of these recipes all in one place to help you find them more easily.  Most are super easy to make and certainly are “Americanized” versions of Mexican cuisine.   Click on the highlighted title to access the recipes.   As I prepare to travel to Morocco, I am dreaming of the exotic new culinary adventures I will discover and bring back to share on the blog.  This is my 400th post.  Can it really be true?  Thank you for reading me over the years.   Enjoy!

Chilled Mexican Corn and Avocado Soup

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Salsa Verde-Chicken Enchiladas with Black Bean-Pinapple Salsa

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This was my first enchilada dish and I have to admit they were a huge hit.   I have often been turned off enchiladas because they are often too mushy, drowning in sour cream and excessive cheese.  This combination was just right and lightened up without sour cream.  Instead I served Greek yogurt on the side.  Using bottled salsa verde whizzed up with tons of fresh cilantro in the blender made an easy and quick delicious sauce.  Spicing up the meat from a whole rottiserie chicken with cumin, smoked paprika, garlic, chili powder, lime juice and fresh jalapeno made for a light flavorful filing without a lot of work. The fresh pineapple salsa with black beans was a fantastic side.  I pickled the red onion for a half hour while I prepared the rest of the dish to soften their bite.  Although you could use raw onion and skip this step, the pickling turns the onions a pretty pink color and adds some bright notes to the salsa.  This meal was a test drive for Cinco de Mayo and made me wonder how I could have deprived my family from such delicious enchiladas for so long.  It’s destined to become a favorite.  Happy Cinco de Mayo!

For the filling:

  • 8 large soft tortillas(10-12 inch diameter)
  • 1 large rotisserie chicken, skinned, deboned, meat shredded
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons of ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons of chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
  • 1 large jalapeno pepper, cored, seeds and membranes removed, diced
  • 1 cup of shredded Mexican-blend cheese

Toss the shredded chicken with all the ingredients and set aside.

For the sauce:

  • 1 16-once jar of medium heat salsa verde
  • 1 cup of chopped fresh cilantro, packed tight

In a blender, mix the cilantro and the salsa verde until blended into a smooth sauce.

For the topping:

  • 2 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Assembly:

  1. Preheat oven to 425F.
  2. Spread a layer of sauce  in the bottom of a 9″ X 13″ oven proof dish.
  3. Warm the tortillas as you usually do.   I microwaved each one for 20 seconds.  Spread about 1/3 of a cup of the chicken filling across the lower  third of the tortilla.  Roll up and set seam side down on top of the sauce. Repeat until all the tortillas are filled.  Spread the rest of the sauce over the enciladas, leaving about an inch of the tortilla uncovered on each edge. Sprinkle with the cheese.
  4. Bake 20 minutes uncovered in center of oven until cheese is bubbly.  Sprinkle with chopped cilantro and serve with the black bean-pineapple salsa, cubed avocado, extra lime wedges, Greek yogurt or sour cream.

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Black Bean-Pineapple Salsa

  • 1 14-oz can of black beans, drained
  • 2 cups of fresh pineapple, chopped in bite sized pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 large jalapeno, cored, seeded, membranes removed, diced fine
  • 1/2 cup of diced pickled red onion*
  • 1/4 cup of chopped fresh cilantro
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  1. Mix all ingredients in a serving bowl.  Let the flavors blend together at least a half hour.  Can be made up to 3 days in advance.

*To pickle the red onion, in an unreactive bowl, mix together 1/2 cup of water, 1/2 cup of white distilled vinegar, a teaspoon of white sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.  Mix well and add the diced red onion.  Leave to cure about a half hour before adding to the salsa.