Sorry about another double Thursday post. My original game plan when I joined these groups was to post CEiMB recipes on the Barefoot Bloggers off weeks, but somehow it doesn't ever seem to work out that way.
The Barefoot Bloggers recipe this week is Chinese Chicken Salad, which was chosen by McKenzie of Kenzie's Kitchen. This one was pretty straightforward. Bake bone-in chicken breasts for 40 minutes, and then shred the meat and mix it up with asparagus (I was thrilled to see really beautiful asparagus in the grocery store - spring must be here!), sliced red bell peppers, and scallions.
Of course, it's the dressing that makes this a "Chinese chicken salad." Ina's recipes often specify to use not just olive oil, vinegar, etc., but "good" olive oil or "good" vinegar. I am never 100% sure what she means by "good," but I have a feeling that she means "not the stuff they sell you in Publix." In this recipe, the dressing calls for "good apple cider vinegar." I did have apple cider vinegar in my pantry, but I'm afraid Ina would probably think of my vinegar as:
Heinz: The Apple Cider Vinegar of the Unwashed Masses
I am pretty sure that Ina would not consider this to be "good" apple cider vinegar. If you read the label closely, however, it says that it is "ideal for food." I figured I could build on that. So I made the dressing by whisking together my "ideal for food" apple cider vinegar with vegetable oil, sesame oil, soy sauce, honey, ginger, garlic, peanut butter, salt, pepper and toasted sesame seeds. Add the dressing to the meat and vegetables, and voila! you've just made Chinese chicken salad!
I once worked with a guy whose mantra was "no old food, no cold food," by which he meant that he does not like leftovers, or the cold presentation of food that is traditionally served warm (e.g., pasta salad). This friend also once yelled "Hey, Kool-Aid!" down the hallway after our very pregnant friend who happened to be wearing an orange dress, so we tend to discount what he thinks about things.
But still, I have to admit that I have had a little bit of that "no cold food" bias against salads with Asian flavors; I love Asian food, but I tend to prefer those flavors warm. But I really did enjoy this salad. The dressing is delicious, and it makes for an intensely flavorful, vibrant salad. I brought the salad to a picnic in the park on Saturday with David's family, and everybody seemed to really enjoy it.
This salad couldn't really give me that self-satisfied "I'm eating a light & healthy salad!" feeling, though, because the dressing contains 1 cup (plus 3 tablespoons) of oil, plus 1/2 cup of peanut butter. I will be paying close attention to see if any of the BBs lightened this up. Since I tend to like to get my fat from foods that just can't help being full of fat, like banana cream pie, it is unlikely that I will make this salad very often, at least not in strict accordance with the recipe. But I really enjoyed it and I'm glad that I made it. It definitely helped me get over my "no cold (Asian) food" bias.
The recipe for CEiMB this week is Salmon with Sweet & Spicy Rub, chosen by Pam of Lobsters & Fishsticks. I should disclose upfront: I am one of those people who, when considering whether to order an unfamiliar fish in a restaurant, will grill the waiter about whether that fish is "fishy" (other than that one thing, though, I try really hard not to be annoying in restaurants). I like white, flaky, unfishy fish like grouper, tilapia, halibut. I generally lump salmon in the "fishy" category and therefore never order it. That said, it's been a while since I've tried salmon, and this recipe really sounded delicious, and it was undeniably simple -- busy weeknight simple for sure. I figured I'd give it a try.
The rub is super easy: a couple of tablespoons of brown sugar, a tablespoon of chili powder, a teaspoon of cumin and a little salt and pepper. Cover the salmon with the rub, and grill 4-6 minutes per side. That's it! I served the salmon with grilled zucchini rollups, also from Ellie's cookbook.
We really enjoyed this. Salmon is never going to be my favorite fish (or my husband's, for that matter), but this is a really great way to prepare it. The sugar caramelizes when grilled, and the crispy exterior is really delicious. I liked the rub so much that I'm tempted to try it on different fish --but this recipe was good enough, and quick enough, that I'm likely to make this again even with salmon.
Thanks for the great picks, McKenzie and Pam!
2 weeks ago