Friday, May 23, 2014

Romaine - Nectarine - Havarti Salad

When I lived in Ann Arbor, I loved the local supermarket chain, Busch's. From time to time their recipe creator would come by the store near my house with one of her latest creations. One summer featured this salad. I fell in love with it. I made it so often that summer that I became tired of it. Now I know that if I limit it to once or twice a season, it is always a big hit.
1 head romaine, sliced into narrow strips.
I cut the big leaves vertically into thirds, then slice them to make strips about 2" x 1/8". I usually use less than the whole head or else the result has too much lettuce.
3-4 nectarines, diced ~1/4".
I leave the skin on. If they're big, 3 is enough. When I can't find nice nectarines, I use red grapes (half a pound? a whole pound? I'll have to check next time), sliced in half, or ~2 big oranges, peeled and diced. Peaches are fine, too. I peel the peaches but I don't peel the nectarines.
1/2 lb havarti, diced ~1/4"
Busch's said "lite" but my view is that 1. when they reduce the fat (and the sugar, when there's sugar, not relevant for cheese, of course): A. the result is less favorful, and B. they add things that may be worse than fat or sugar, and 2. if you don't want to eat any fat or sugar, eat celery. Plus it is my understanding that you need some fat to digest and to extract the nutrients from raw greens. The dressing for this salad does not use much fat so you get it from the cheese.
1/3 medium red onion, diced 1/4 "
Busch's said 1/2 Vidalia onion, sliced, but I like the red color and I think matching the size of the cheese and nectarines looks nicer.
  Amounts in original:
1/4 c. apricot fruit spread (I use Smucker's)
3 T cider vinegar
2 tsp walnut oil
1 tsp Tabasco
salt and pepper (utterly unnecesary with the Tabasco)
  My daughter says that this is not enough dressing so I ~double it:
     1/2 c. jam
     ~1/3 c. cider vinegar
     4 tsps walnut oil
     2 tsp Tabasco

Whisk together the dressing ingredients. Or forget the whisk and put them all in a jar, cover it, and shake to blend. Add to completed salad or serve on the side.
Put the lettuce in the bowl. Sprinkle on the nectarine, cheese and onion. I do them in sort-of layers. They won't cover the surface so they're always be places where you see all three. WARNING: DO NOT TOSS. If you do, the havarti, which is heavy, ends up on the bottom. Instead, convince the diners to dig down with those salad tongs. I suppose the best thing would be to serve the salad in individual bowls and pass the dressing. Maybe next time for company, I'll do that.
rjm 2003? original lost, re-typed 5/22/06, rev 5/5,23/14

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Baked Chicken


I found this recipe in a newspaper in around 1970. It was called 'Chicken Venetian' but I don't know what is Venetian about soy sauce.

2 - 4 lb chicken pieces, with skin and bone, of course.
        I usually use either a whole cut-up fryer or just thighs.
1/4 c soy
2 T vinegar
2 T oil, divided
1 clove garlic or 1/8 tsp minced garlic or equiv powder
1/4 tsp oregano

Choose a baking dish that will let the pieces fit cozily without overlapping. I use pyrex or vintage Corningware. Pour ~1 T of the oil in the dish and put into the oil puddle each piece of chicken skin side DOWN. Move the chicken pieces around in the oil so that the skin is well coated. Leave the chicken with skin DOWN.

Mix together SOY SAUCE, VINEGAR and the remaining 1 T of the OIL along with fresh or jar GARLIC (but not the powder) and pour over the chicken. You can also just pour the liquids directly on the chicken one at a time. Then sprinkle with OREGANO and, if you use garlic in powder form, the GARLIC. I never measure the oregano or garlic, just sprinkle with neither a heavy nor light hand.

Cover the dish with aluminum foil. Bake at time/temp indicated, removing foil and turning to skin side up after 3/4 of the time has passed and basting. Baste again once after that if you think of it.

TEMP/TIMES: 400 [375] total time 60 [80] minutes:
45 [60] min (skin side down, covered with foil)
then 15 [20] min (foil removed, skin side up,
basting if you think of it after 7 [10] minutes)
Always yummy.

1. The original recipe specified 400 degrees. I think chicken cooks better at a lower temperature for a longer time so I experimented with lowering the temperature and extending the time. I am sure that other temp/times would work OK, too, just keep the proportion of 3:1 for the times for [skin side down and dish covered] : [skin side up and dish uncovered].

2. For years my handwritten version of the recipe (a) did not specify greasing the dish but I always did, and (b) said 2T vinegar and 1T oil. When I gave my aunt the recipe back in the late 70s she wondered about that ratio. A few years ago I found the newspaper clipping, and sure enough it said 1T vinegar and 2T oil, just like in salad dressing. I was right, however, that it was silent about greasing the dish. I like vinegar, though, so I still use 2T of vinegar, and only about 1 T of oil for the sauce.
rjm, first typed up 3/3/03; rev 11/17/13, 5/10/14

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Three Cans (fast, easy, vegan, parve, cheap, tasty, low cal, packable lunch)


R3A2 Three Cans
(makes 1 to 3 servings, depending on how ravenous you are)
If you just eat a third of the mixture of the three cans, then
Preparation time:1 minute and
Calories: 175
1. Drain a ~one pound* can of each of the following:
     Green Beans
*These days typical cans are 14.5 to 15.5 oz but sometimes you can still find a 16 oz. can.

2. Mix together in a bowl, one you can cover and refrigerate if you have leftovers. I use an 8" vintage Corningware with a glass cover. Eat!

Lasts in the fridge for a week, maybe more.

A. If you want to get fancy, add one of these:
     a dash of Tabasco
     juice from a slice of lemon, Meyer lemon, or orange
     1-2 Tb oil and vinegar dressing

B. If you want more protein:
     Vegan: sunflower seeds (the roasted and salted kind are least likely to taste rancid)
     Vegetarian: Cheese - I favor pre-shredded asiago, or I cut up an ounce or so of extra sharp cheddar
     Pescatarian: Tuna - another can (3-7 oz) or a 2.5 oz bag to avoid having to drain

C. For more greenery, to improve presentation, or just for a change:
     * Serve THREE CANS on top of torn lettuce or arugula or a handful of salad-in-a-box
     * Pull off the leaves from a sprig or two of dill or parsley or both and stir in
     * Dice and toss in some carrot, maybe one baby-cut carrot per serving or an equivalent amount of regular carrots
     * Use leftover THREE CANS in an omelette

Notes on cans
GREEN BEANS: I prefer cut rather than French style, and I never get the low salt version because it tastes like the can to me. If you need to watch your salt, THREE CANS may not be for you.
TOMATOES: I usually use diced or petite diced. Spicy foods help me eat less volume and less fat, I think. My favorite these days is Del Monte Petite Diced with Zesty Jalapenos.
BEANS (not the green ones): Most of the time I use pintos, red or white kidney beans, northern beans or chick peas aka garbanzos. Except for chick peas, the taste is pretty much the same so my preference is really just a matter of appearance: color and size. Black beans and black-eyed peas are also fine, and they do have different tastes. My favorite brand of beans is Bush's. They still sell 16 oz. cans and their quality control is excellent. I have never used canned lima beans although maybe I will try them one of these days. Sometimes when I use plain tomatoes I mix them with spicy beans: S&W Pinquitos are delicious.

THREE CANS can be made in a hotel room if you can get to a supermarket. It can be made in advance and taken on a trip. With all the variations, you can probably lunch on THREE CANS several times a week for months and not get too tired of it. Or anyway, I can.

How I Came to Invent Three Cans: I once signed up for a web-based diet called Fat Loss for Idiots. It let you eat all you wanted of a few specified foods, 4 meals a day for 11 days. To start the program, you went through a list of foods and checked the ones you liked.* Then the software whirred and out came your personal meal plan.

For one meal I could eat all I wanted of certain vegetables. That day I was feeling too lazy to cook or chop. I did not want to use any extra bowls or knives. I looked in the pantry and selected THREE CANS. The rest is, well, both history and this recipe: a low calorie, tasty, vegan, parve dish you can make in almost no time. You can also take it with you on a trip, eat it at your desk, and dress it up when you need variety and are willing to dirty a knife and cutting board.
* The Fat Loss Program: If you checked off meats on their list, then your meal plan included "slices" of that meat: chicken, ham, turkey, beef. Did that mean I would have to buy those salty processed sliced meats in packages, or did the diet creators just assume that Americans can't cook? Maybe the word "slices" was used as shorthand for trimmed of excess fats and skin? But the diet had other oddities: "shrimp" was always listed as "Delicious Shrimp." No other food came with a sales pitch.
rjm 5/1/2014, rev 5/11/14