Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Asparagus, Green Onion, Cucumber, and Herb Salad

With this past heat wave in California I decided it was time to break out the salads again. Of course, by the time I actually get around to writing this up, I'm back to wearing sweatshirts to school.
When I found this recipe on Epicurious, a pretty reliable site for recipes, I knew I needed to try it. I love asparagus, cucumber, and green onions. I followed the advice of many reviewers and decreased the oil by a factor of three. The recipe originally asked for 3/4 cup! I used a 1/4 cup instead. Strongly flavored vegetables don't need as much flavoring, and pools of oil are quite unappetizing.
I wanted my salad to be fresh, so I increased the herds for a couple meager tablespoons of many different herbs (which leaves a lot of waste) to a whopping 1 1/2 cups of just 3 kinds. I served the whole cold rather than at room temperature.
The original recipe also included complicated steps to cook the green onions in the asparagus water. I just left the green onions raw.

Recipe: A slight variation on Epicurious' Asparagus, Green Onion, Cucumber, and Herb Salad (Serves 10)


  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about a half lemon)
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt (1/2 tsp regular)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • 3 pounds medium asparagus, trimmed
  • 4 cups thinly sliced green onions
  • 2 large hothouse cucumbers
  • 1/2 cup parsley
  • 1/2 cup mint
  • 1/2 cup chives/chervil/more parsley or mint/whatever you like


For dressing:
Whisk first 5 ingredients in small bowl. Gradually whisk in oil.

DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature and rewhisk beforeusing.

For salad:
Fill large bowl with lightly salted ice water; stir until salt dissolves. Cook asparagus in large pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. (or steam 3 minutes) Transfer asparagus to bowl of salted ice water to cool. DO AHEAD: Asparagus can be made 1 day ahead. Wrap separately in several layers of paper towels, then enclose in resealable plastic bags and refrigerate.

Combine green onions, cucumbers, and herbs in mixing bowl. Add dressing; toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper.

Arrange asparagus on platter. Spoon cucumber mixture over and serve.

**I have not tried it yet, but it might be beneficial to just mix the asparagus in the dressing with the cucumbers and onions instead of spooning the dressed cucumbers on top of them**

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Poll Results! What is your favorite type of cookie??

Chocolate Chip
7 (53%)
2 (15%)
0 (0%)
Peanut Butter
2 (15%)
Chocolate (not just chips)
1 (7%)
Ginger Snaps
1 (7%)
0 (0%)

Votes so far: 13

Yes, I am finally writing about this poll (I think I started it in December.) I must confess, I can't remember what I voted for, but I know that I like chocolate cookies, oatmeal cookies, and chocolate chip cookies. Peanut butter, not so much.
I also tend to really like creative cookies, like these maple-pecan-oatmeal cookies, or my own cranberry-pistachio biscotti.

To me, cookies are just a blank canvas to be painted with whatever flavor is desired. Unfortunately, I never really manage to pull them off the way I would like. I've tried several times to make chewy cookies, using melted butter or other techniques, but they still always end up soft and cakey. (just as tasty though!)

So, do any of you have a favorite cookie recipe you'd like to share?
And don't forget to vote on the new poll!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Naan (Indian Flatbread)

I don't know if I've told you this already, but I eat a vegetarian dinner once a week (I also eat vegetarian lunches almost every day). So, during spring break, I decided to make an Indian meal with vegetable curry and homemade naan.
Naan is a type of Indian flatbread that is traditionally baked in a tandoor, a beehive-shaped oven that can reach scorchingly high temperatures. Since I, like most people, do not own a tandoor, I decided to look for a recipe adapted to the typical American kitchen. I found one in the newest Spring Entertaining, by Cook's Illustrated magazine.

The recipe was not to complicated, and made naan thattasted just like the ones I get from Indian restaurants. Rather than baking them in the oven like most American adaptations, it called for cooking the naan in a cast-iron skillets on the stove to simulate the one-sided high-heat of tandoor. The disadvantage of this was that I had to cook each loaf one at a time, but according to the magazine, using the oven resulted in dry and tough bread. It also instructed to brush the finished naan with melted butter or ghee, but I decided not to.

Naan (from Cook's Illustrated, makes 8 6"-7" naan)
  • 13 1/2 oz (2 1/2 cup) bread flour
  • 1 1/2 oz whole wheat flour
  • 1 package instant/rapid-rise yeast
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup water (I used more)
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 tbps olive oil + extra for bowl
  • 3 tbsp sesame seeds (opt)
  • 4 tbsp butter, melted (I didn't)
  1. Combine flours, yeast, sugar, and salt in bowl of stand mixer and mix with paddle attachment until blended.
  2. Add water, yogurt, and oil and mix on low speed until shaggy dough forms, about 30 sec, adding more water in 1 tbsp increments if necessary.
  3. Replace paddle with dough hook and knead on medium speed until smooth and glossy, about 8 minutes, adding more flour if necessary (one tbsp at a time), to allow dough to clear sides of bowl but stick to very bottom.
  4. Transfer dough to clean work surface and knead by hand 1 minute.
  5. Shape dough into ball, transfer to lightly oiled large bowl, cover w/ plastic wrap, and place in draft-free spot. Let rise 45 minutes to 1 hour (Until dough has doubled in size)
  6. Transfer dough to unfloured work surface, cut into 8 equal portions, and roll each into a ball using a cupped palm and the friction of the work surface.
  7. Let balls rest 5-10 minutes.
  8. Using a floured rolling pin, roll each ball into 6-inch circles (add sesame seeds on top if using.)
  • Heat a heavy skillet (I used an iron tortilla pan) over med-high heat until hot, about 5 minutes (no oil).
  • Working with 1 piece of dough at time, left dough and gently stretch about 1 inch larger, and lay in skillet.
  • Cook until dough starts forming bubbles under the surface (about 30 sec), then flip (tongs are good) and cook until bottom is speckled brown/black (2 minutes)
  • Flip again until other side is also brown (1-2 minutes)
  • Transfer bread to wire rack and brush lightly with melted butter. (if you want to)
  • Serve immediately, store uneaten portions in a plastic bag or aluminum foil at room temperature.
My vegetable curry with cauliflower, sweet potatoes, peas, chickpeas, and tomatoes