Thursday 28 March 2013

Tangy Radish Salad Dressing

"We decided to join a local CSA and even though we opted for the smaller box, I'm already overrun with vegetables by the second week! Today I'm going to eat veggies for every meal and make some plans to get through the remainder before our next pickup! I currently have more radishes in my fridge than I have ever had before..." - Pinch My Salt on Facebook

I literally laughed out loud when I read this Facebook post this morning. I know just how she feels! 

We tried the CSA thing a couple of years ago, and it just didn't work for us. It was frustrating to me to have no control over the quantity of vegetables we received and no control over what our CSA baskets contained. We were so swamped with some vegetables that we got heartily sick of them.

One thing I did learn from our season of CSA baskets was how to improvise. I deplore kitchen waste and it became a personal challenge to use up all the vegetables we received. 

This salad dressing would be an excellent way to use up at least a few of those extra radishes in Pinch My Salt's refrigerator: Its pale pink colour and creamy texture seem to lull folks into an expectation that it will be bland and somewhat sweet but, instead, it's little bit peppery and has distinct tang. I'm often greeted with an expression of surprise when people take their first bite, but they always go back for more.

To make Tangy Radish Salad Dressing, you'll need:

  • 5 (or more) red radishes, washed and trimmed
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 Tablespoon water, or more

Place all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and process them until they're smooth.

If the salad dressing is too thick, add a little more water. I used homemade mayonnaise and homemade Greek yogurt, both of which were quite thick. so I ended up using a full Tablespoon of water this time.

Taste the salad dressing. If it's not radish-y enough (some radishes are milder than others), add in more radishes and process again. I added two extra radishes, for a total of seven, to make this batch.

Refrigerate any unused salad dressing in a sealer jar or airtight container. It'll keep in the fridge for about a week.

Author's note:
I've been making tangy radish salad dressing for more than twenty years, from a recipe I copied out onto a piece of scrap  paper.  It's titled "Rosemount Inn Tangy Salad Dressing" and I'm assuming that I found it in a magazine.  I couldn't begin to tell you which one.  If you happen to know where it was published, please let me know so I can attribute the source.  Thanks.
This recipe is linked to Hearth and Soul blog hop hosted by The 21st Century Housewife, Premeditated Leftovers, Savoring Today, and Zesty South Indian Kitchen.

Hearth & Soul Hop

Tuesday 26 March 2013

What We Spent, March 11 - March 24

We've spent a lot of money in the past couple of weeks (at least for us). 

I usually dislike these "spendy periods" because they so often involve budget juggling to make ends meet, but this time much of the extra spending was actually in the form of planned expenditures.  

I had some extra earnings and, because we've been eating from the pantry and freezer quite a bit, I decided to use the extra money to stock up on meat.  Meat is always a big ticket item, but we got fairly good pricing on what we bought and were able to redeem some coupons towards our purchases.  I'm content with what we got.

We bought a lot of produce, much of which was chosen because it will keep for quite some time.  We made our choices with my longer work days in mind.  I don't want to have to stop and pick up produce on the way home.

We also stocked up on some dried fruit, and splurged on a package of pre-made, uncooked tortillas.  

Pre-made tortillas are certainly more expensive than homemade, but making tortillas is one of the few kitchen tasks I actively dislike. The fresh flour tortillas from Costco have good flavour, no added preservatives, and they're convenient.  

Circumstances had us driving more than usual during this time period and we used about twice the amount of gas we usually do. This extra driving may well continue over the next few months so I've been putting some money aside to cover the increased expense.  It certainly came in handy this time 'round!

Here's what we spent:

Mar 11/13

.62 kg/1.37 lb asparagus

.84 kg/1.85 lb tomatoes

900 g/1.98 lb fish stick

4 liters skim milk
Mar 13/13
6 onion buns
Mar 15/13
Dessert at Dairy Queen
Mar 16/13
Mar 17/13

4 liters whole milk

1.45 kg/3.2 lb red onions

.89 kg/1.96 lb celery
Mar 20/13
Salad in a bag
Mar 21/13
.6 kg/1.32 lb rib steak

.38 kg/.83 lb broccoli

4 liters skim milk
Mar 23/13
4.11 kg/9.06 lb pork side ribs

3.41 kg/7.53 lb pork loin

3.85 kg/8.48 lb sirloin tip roast

2 kg/4.4 lb Sun Maid raisins

2 kg/4.4 lb prunes

36 flour tortillas, premade, uncooked

Mar 24/13
Family combo (10 lb potatoes, 5 lb carrots, 3 lb onions

.8 kg/1.736 lb zucchini

1 head cauliflower

2.14 kg/4.72 lbs butternut squash

.625 kg/1.38 lb tomatoes

Personal care items

Total Coupons Redeemed


What We Ate March 11 - March 24

There's been a lot going on in my world the past couple of weeks.  Without boring you with all the details, suffice it to say that it's been a time of personal challenges.  Cooking has often taken a back seat to other things, both because of my work schedule and because of the other stuff going on in my life.  Our menus reflect this:  They're all over the place this time.   There's some scratch cooking, some junk food, some healthy choices, some not-so-healthy.  

I did some of the cooking during this time but my husband cooked too.  Increasingly, my work schedule is requiring that he take up some of the slack in the kitchen.  He's a competent cook but he tends to cook a lot more animal protein than I do. We're having to adjust our shopping and our budget to accommodate the change.

Still, despite all the challenges, and despite having two different cooks in the kitchen, I think we managed reasonably well.

Here's what we've been eating:

Monday, March 11:

  • Breakfast - Homemade yogurt and home canned pears
  • Supper - Rajma (north Indian kidney bean stew), cauliflower pakoras, chapatis.  Homemade orange sorbet for dessert.

Tuesday, March 12:

  • Breakfast - Homemade granola and homemade yogurt
  • Supper - Basa fillets breaded with focaccia crumbs and parmesan and pan fried in a mixture of olive oil and butter, roasted potatoes and beets, steamed peas.  Pumpkin pudding with oatmeal struesel.

Wednesday, March 13:

  • Breakfast - Toasted whole wheat English muffins topped with shredded Edam cheese melted under the broiler, apples
  • Supper - Cream of asparagus soup, onion bun sandwiches filled with fried eggs, broiled tomato slices, pea shoots (grown on our windowsill), and homemade mayonnaise.  Coffee house cake for dessert.

Thursday, March 14:

Friday, March 15:

  • Breakfast - Oatmeal and applesauce
  • Supper - Fish sticks and Kraft dinner (My husband's request.  It's his very favourite meal.), red cabbage and carrot slaw, DQ for dessert

Saturday, March 16:

  • Breakfast - Boiled eggs, whole wheat toast, apples
  • Supper - Vegetarian black bean chili over brown rice, oranges

Sunday, March 17:

  • Breakfast - Farmstead waffles topped with homemade cherry pie filling and a dollop of homemade yogurt
  • Supper - Veggie burgers with patties made from Saturday's leftover black bean chili and rice garnished with red onion and sliced tomato, served on home baked multigrain buns, a salad of roasted tomato, basil (grown on my windowsill), and red onion, dressed with a red wine vinaigrette, mocha cupcakes.

Monday, March 18:

  • Breakfast - Poached eggs on whole wheat English muffins
  • Supper - (Brown bagging it at work) Home canned vegetable soup, cheese and chutney sandwiches (sharp cheddar, homemade apple and cranberry chutney, whole wheat bread), applesauce cookies

Tuesday, March 19: 

  • Breakfast - Oatmeal and applesauce
  • Supper - (Brown bagging it at work) Egg salad sandwiches made with guacamole (made with avocados from my freezer) instead of mayonnaise, garnished with pea shoots, on homemade whole wheat buns, a tomato, roasted pepper, and onion salad with a vinaigrette made from basil and garlic infused red wine vinegar, homemade vanilla frozen yogurt.

Wednesday, March 20:

  • Breakfast - Peanut butter, marmalade, and raisin sandwiches on toasted multigrain bread
  • Supper - Turkey and eggplant parmagiana casseroles (from the freezer), cracked black pepper focaccia (from the freezer), Salad of mixed spring greens and spinach, pea shoots, and red onion, lemon infused extra virgin olive oil and fig infused balsamic vinegar for dipping the bread and dressing the salad.  Home canned cherries for dessert.

Thursday, March 21:

Friday, March 22:

  • Breakfast - Home canned pears, toasted whole wheat English muffins (from the freezer) 
  • Supper - (Brown bagging it at work) Savoury bread pudding with croissants and andouille, celery salad, canned peaches  and homemade yogurt (for me) and leftover date and nut pudding cake (for my fella).

Saturday, March 23:  

  • Breakfast - Homemade granola, apples
  • Supper - Slow cooker pork ribs in thick teryaki sauce, vegetable fried rice, a stir fry of carrots, onions and peppers in a sauce made with homemade pork stock and garlic black bean sauce.  Canned peaches for dessert.

Sunday, March 24:

  • Breakfast - Nothing for me (I was not feeling well), almost whole wheat pancakes from the freezer for my fella, with honey (A gift from Tomatoes on the Vine.  Thank you Velva!) 
  • Supper - Meat pulled from Saturday's leftover teryaki pork ribs, finely minced and mixed with some of the pan juices from cooking the ribs, steamed shredded cabbage and carrots, and chopped chives, all wrapped in won ton wrappers to make dumplings and steamed, plum sauce for dipping, leftover stir fry from Saturday mixed with rice noodles seasoned with soy sauce, sesame oil, and freshly cracked black pepper.  (My fella cooked this meal while I slept.  I'm very proud of him for being so creative.) 

Friday 15 March 2013

Blushing Beet Salad Dressing

This is another "pickle juice" salad dressing.  It derives its flavour and colour from pickled beet brine.  

I originally made this dressing for coleslaw, thinking that the earthy flavour of the beets and the bright flavour of the vinegar in the brine would pair well with the cabbage and carrots in the salad.  It was a great match.  We liked it so well, in fact, that we now use this dressing on all sorts of salads.  It makes a great garnish for a sandwich too.

To make blushing beet salad dressing, you'll need:

  • 1 Tablespoon of brine from a jar of pickled beets
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • honey to taste (I use about 1-1/2 teaspoons but you can add more or less, as you prefer)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground pepper to taste

Simply place all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk them together until well combined.  

As soon as it's mixed, your blushing beet salad dressing is ready to serve.

As with all dressings that contain mayonnaise, this one should be kept cold.  Store it in the refrigerator. Don't leave it out on the counter or table for any length of time. (It should not rise above 40F.)  Use it up within a week of making it.

Thursday 14 March 2013

Homemade Mayonnaise

"THAT'S mayonnaise?!" my husband exclaimed.  "What's with the colour?  It sure doesn't look like the stuff in the Hellman's jar!"

And he's right.  

My mayo is a gorgeous yellow colour because the egg yolks I use to make it come from happy chickens.  Those happy hens live on a small local farm and spend their days outdoors, eating grass and bugs.  

It shows.

Their eggs have sturdy shells and beautiful, dark yellow-orange yolks.

Good quality, really fresh eggs are important when making mayonnaise.  There are few ingredients involved so each and every one becomes important.

The process of making mayonnaise is as simple as the ingredient list is short.  

Although mayonnaise is often made in a blender or a food processor, neither are really necessary.  I make mine with just a mixing bowl and a whisk, and it turns out perfectly every single time.  

I'm notoriously uncoordinated so I'm quite sure that if I can make mayonnaise by hand, you can easily do it too.

Use your homemade mayonnaise just as you would the stuff from the store but be prepared to enjoy a much better flavour.  

To make homemade mayonnaise, you'll need:

  • 1 egg yolk 
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard or dijon mustard (I prefer the flavour of dry mustard.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice (You can use vinegar if you don't have lemon juice.)
  • approximately 3/4 cup oil (I use sunflower oil because I prefer its neutral flavour.  I find olive oil too acidic. You, of course, can use whatever oil you prefer.)

Place the egg yolk in a mixing bowl. 

Add in the dry mustard, salt, and lemon juice.  

Whisk them together to make a paste.

Measure the oil into a cup from which it can easily be poured. 

Gradually, in a slow stream, pour the oil into the egg yolk paste while whisking constantly.  

If you are not able to whisk and pour at the same time (and often I am not), add the oil a little at a time, whisking to incorporate it after each addition. 

Continue adding oil until the mayonnaise reaches the consistency and flavour you prefer.    

Cook's safety tips:
  • Keep your mayonnaise cold.  Don't leave it out on the counter or table.  (Its temperature should never rise above 40F.) Store your homemade mayonnaise in the fridge when you're not using it.
  • You can easily double or triple this recipe but I don't recommend it.  It's always best to make mayonnaise in small batches, and use to it up quickly.

Wednesday 13 March 2013

Pickle Juice Vinaigrette

It has always bugged me that when you've eaten all the pickles in the jar, you're left with a great quantity of "pickle juice."  That leftover brine is chock full of flavour and often has lots of yummy herbs and spices floating around in it.  What a waste to pour something so tasty down the drain!

I use my pickle juice for all sorts of things:  It makes a great base for a marinade. It can be incorporated into sauces.  I use it to make pickled eggs.  It often finds its way into my salad dressings.

A basic vinaigrette is infinitely variable.  Once you learn the proportions, you can change the flavour profile drastically by varying the ingredients.  Using pickle juice instead of regular vinegar is a quick and easy way to change things up.

At any given time, we have several different kinds of pickles in our fridge.  Each one has a distinct set of flavours all its own. Lots of variety there for the taking and, even when we haven't used up the whole jar of pickles, there's usually enough extra brine in the jar to make a batch of salad dressing.  It's a simple way to change things up.

Next time you find yourself wanting something new on the plate, you might want to look to that jar of pickles at the back of the fridge too.  Who knows what salad greatness you might find there!

To make Pickle Juice Vinaigrette, you'll need:

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 2 Tablespoons of pickle brine (I used the brine from my tomato, jalapeno, and lime pickles this time)
  • 1/2 cup oil (I used olive oil.  You can use whatever oil you think will work well with the flavours in your dressing.)

Salt will not dissolve in oil, so you'll need to begin by mixing the seasonings into the pickle juice. I do this by putting them all in a sealer jar and giving them a vigourous shake.

When the salt has dissolved, add the oil into the jar, reseal it and shake it again until the ingredients are well combined and the vinegar emulsified.  

Taste the dressing at this point and adjust the seasonings.  You may find that you want to add in a little honey or some fresh herbs.  This would be the time to do that.

If you're not going to use it right away, your pickle juice vinaigrette can be stored in the fridge for a few days.  The oil and vinegar in the dressing will probably separate after a while.  If they do, simply give the vinaigrette another good shake before serving it.