Virtually Veggie: Cajun Corn & Kale Salad

This week we feature two of my favorite vegetables, in a delicious salad. Anyone who knows me knows that corn is hands down in my mind the best vegetable ever grown. That being said, despite the large corn fields spreading across the Americas, more corn is produced to feed cattle than to consume by humans and of the human consumed corn most of it is in the form of corn syrups and not farm fresh! I hope this recipe will help incorporate more corn in it’s natural form into your diet and remind you of the cool summer nights.

Its fresh and light and flavorful, plus it takes maybe 15 minutes to make!

Things you need:

  • water
  • 4 ears of sweet corn (or whatever you have available)
  • 1 pound of kale (typically one large bunch)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 large red bell pepper (diced)
  • 1 green bell pepper (diced)
  • 1 large tomato (diced)
  • 1 small sweet onion (minced)
  • 1 clove of garlic (minced)
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 ½ teaspoons of cajun spice seasoning (see the end  of the recipe if you don’t have this available)
  • a bowl
  • a large pot

kaleandcornsalad Virtually Veggie: Cajun Corn & Kale Salad

Bring about 2 quarts of water to boil in a large pot. Once its boiling add in the ears of corn (husks removed). Turn off the heat and let the corn cook in the water for about 5-6 minutes. Remove the corn but keep the water. Once the corn is cooled slice the kernels from the cob and place in a large bowl with the diced peppers, onion and tomatoes.

Re boil the water from the corn and add in the kale and salt and cook until the kale is tender and bright green (about 5 minutes or so). Transfer the kale to a colander to drain and cool. When the kale is cool enough to handle (usually 5 min later) squeeze out the excess water and chop the kale.

Toss the kale with the vegetable mixture and add in the olive oil, lemon juice, seasoning, and garlic. Salt to taste (I typically add in a little less than a teaspoon).

This is excellent served with tortilla chips, potatoes, or quinoa.

Make your own cajun seasoning: 1/4 teaspoon salt and a large pinch of the following other spices: cayenne pepper (I like a lot), ground black pepper, dry mustard, crushed fennel seeds, and dried thyme.

Virtually Veggie – New Series

Welcome to Virtually Veggie, this new series on IShouldLogOff will feature easy vegetarian recipes that are both yummy and filling! Each recipe featured will be one of my favorites from a variety of sources, cookbooks, friends, family, farmers from my market, etc. You should know that I in no way am a chef or even have ever worked in a restaurant, I just love veggies and easy yummy recipes. My motto is if it takes more than 45 minutes to prepare, start to finish, I am probably not ever going to make it, so the majority of what will be featured fit that description. I hope you enjoy! And of course feel free to request a specific veggie to be featured in future weeks.

Featured Veggie: Eggplant

This week we start with a seasonal favorite of mine, the eggplant. The eggplant is used almost worldwide in the variety of dishes and can be very easy to prepare. A note: the best time to use an eggplant is fresh from the farm, they don’t keep well in refrigerators or on countertops.

Roasted Eggplant and Tomato with Almonds in a Mustard-Balsamic Vinaigrette

What you will needed:ingredients Virtually Veggie – New Series

  • ¼ cup slivered almonds (or pine nuts depending on your mood)
  • 1 pound of eggplant (about one medium eggplant)
  • 2 small or one large tomato (diced)
  • ½ cup apple juice
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons grainy mustard
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice (or lime)
  • 2 cloves of garlic (minced or pressed)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • a skillet
  • a baking sheet
  • a bowl
  • a whisk (or fork)

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees (F). In a dry skillet toast the almonds over high heat until they are brown and smell fragrant (give or take 45 seconds to a minute depending on heat). Remove the almonds from the skillet and set aside.

On a large baking sheet use a little olive oil to coat the sheet so the eggplant and tomatoes don’t stick. Slice the eggplant into lengthwise slices (about ½ inch think). Arrange the eggplant on the baking sheet.

Remove the stem and seeds from the tomatoes and dice. Arrange around (not on top of) the eggplant on
the baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the oven and allow it to roast until the eggplant is soft (about
30 minutes or so).

In a bowl whisk together the apple and lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, parsley, mustard, garlic, and salt.

Slowly pour in the olive oil while continually whisking. Keep whisking until the dressing no longer separates.

Once the eggplant is soft, remove the baking sheet and flip over the eggplant slices. Spoon about 2/3 of the dressing over the eggplant and set aside for to cool. Once the eggplant is room temperature its ready to serve! Place slices on a plate and spoon over some of the roasted tomatoes and the remaining dressing, and finish it off with a sprinkling of the toasted almonds. I like to complete the dish with fresh ground black pepper and salt.

eggplantplate Virtually Veggie – New Series

This recipe makes about 4 servings. A special note: It doesn’t keep well, so make sure you will finish the whole dish in one sitting.

Enjoy!

Mex-Indian kitchen adventures

You’ve probably noticed that we love global cuisine. Sure, we were a bit adventurous in Oaxaca, Mexico with the grasshoppers and that home cookin’ in Laos, but otherwise I’m rarely disappointed when it comes to global cuisine. It’s easy to pick up delicious street food on the road, but now that we’re home I’m determined to make it at home. I’ll admit I’m baffled by the food labeling here in the U.S., my method is to buy things that have ingredients I can pronounce. Even if it’s in a different language.

But then there I was in an Indian Grocery Store staring at packages labeled all sort of things. I’ll be honest we didn’t know what we were eating most of the time in India. Our strategy was just to order the thali platter. Every time we did we literally licked the platter clean. Not so difficult now is it?

5708898338 abc19634cc Mex Indian kitchen adventures

So there I stood in the Indian grocery store. My plan was to buy the spice packets, try the dishes out and then buy the appropriate spices to make my own mixes for the dishes we liked. The only thing was I was baffled by the vocabulary on the packets. Sure I knew common ingredients like daal, paneer and aloo, but beyond that I was clueless. Standing looking utterly clueless, I decide to wait for someone to walk up. A fool proof strategy for sure as a woman took pity on me and pointed out her favorites and things she thought I would like. With my basket full of various spice mixes and the biggest bag of dried chickpeas I had ever seen (2lbs, almost 1kg!) I checked out and headed home.

5708332631 ebd545c38c Mex Indian kitchen adventures

Honestly it took me a few days to work up the courage to tackle Indian food, despite the fact that I had “easy” spicy packets. It’s intimidating and oh, did I forget to mention that the Indian grocer was out of paneer and had suggested I buy “grilling cheese” from my local grocery store.

Yup, grilling cheese.

Sometimes you just have to go for it, so I went to my local supermarket and asked for “grilling cheese.”

They knew exactly what I wanted. Thank god because I didn’t.

I’ve never even heard of grilling cheese…in English. In Spanish it’s called queso blanco (white cheese) and it’s a perfect substitute for paneer because it becomes soft and creamy, but doesn’t completely melt. So hurray for the melting pot that is South Florida, where Mexican cheese can substitute for paneer. (This is apparently widely known, if you check out the wikipedia page for paneer it’s listed there as a substitute).

5708899564 e997184619 Mex Indian kitchen adventures

So my Mexi-Indian adventures in the kitchen began. And you know what? It was good. Like really, really good. Like finger licking nothing in the bowl left good. Well nothing left on the plate. As is typical, the recipes made enough for a family of five, and there being only two of us we had some yummy leftovers the next morning. The leftover matter paneer didn’t last until dinner the next day though. That darn food mouse…

Want to know more about the food we ate traveling around the world?  Check out the archives of our Foodie Friday feature!

Foodie Friday: Thai Cooking Class

5248567619 24a01a4b08 Foodie Friday: Thai Cooking ClassA guy we met in Turkey asked me what my international food personality was.  Without a single missed beat I responded Asian, specifically Thai.  I absolutely adore Thai food, in fact it was a Thai restaurant that Danny took me to on our first date.  So it’s been a long history between Thai food and I and no surprise that I wanted to take a cooking class in Thailand.  So we signed up for a full day cooking course, six courses including dessert.   A full day of deliciousness thanks to the Thai Kitchen Cookery Centre.

The class started with a trip to the local market, which although we’ve been in hundreds of markets, was interesting to have a little discussion on the varieties of chilis and things and what they could be used for.  Most interesting perhaps was the presence of Chinese snakehead fish, a significant threat to out waterways in the Mid-Atlantic area of the US.  After a trip down market lane, we returned to the cooking center and started on our first dish.  Fortunately mine was an easy Pad See Eew with chicken and a few minutes later I sauteed up rice noodles, chicken, garlic and some veggies.  Although the texture of raw rice noodle is a little weird, a few minutes in the wok and everything was delicious.

5249181060 8cf03c3e07 Foodie Friday: Thai Cooking Class

Here’s the menu I made:

  • Pad See Eew with chicken
  • Green Curry (including my own paste from scratch!)
  • Chicken with basil
  • Spicy Papaya Salad
  • Chicken in coconut milk soup
  • Black sticky rice with coconut cream

Actually Thai food was really easy to make, surprisingly easy in fact that it was sort of a disappointment to have taken a whole class.  Almost every dish involved some sort of stir fry technique, and the most challenging was trying to figure out the specific types of ginger and other spices in English.  Nearly every type of special herb or vegetable the instructor told us wasn’t easily available in the West.  Doubtful, there are enough ethnic grocery stores in America.  Then again it is hard to even find quinoa in a regular store…hmm.
5248564201 9b99b40804 Foodie Friday: Thai Cooking Class

Of course the best part of the day was the eating.  After each dish we were able to sit down and enjoy it, delicious!  Becka and Danny made their own menus (we had three options in each category to choose from).  The overall favorite of course was the banana’s and ice cream at the end, closely followed by the noodles, curries,  oh well practically everything!

Foodie Friday: Spring Rolls

5207943341 4e45649b17 Foodie Friday: Spring RollsYou’re probably thinking it’s taken us way too long to post about spring rolls.  Maybe you’re right.  Although we didn’t have a single egg roll or spring roll in all of China, we’ve been eating them pretty regularly since Vietnam. Last week, as part of a full-day cooking class, Danny made spring rolls for the first time.  I must say he did a pretty good job, even if they did lack mushrooms.

So, in case you were wondering, here’s his secret recipe (thanks to the Thai Kitchen Cookery Center in Chang Mai) to making your own Thai-style spring rolls and sweet chili dipping sauce. You can also add meat or different vegetables depending on your taste and what’s available in your local store.

Spring Rolls

Ingredients for Filling:

  • 2 tbs soy bean oil
  • 4 cloves crushed garlic (with skin)
  • 30grams diced carrots
  • 5 pre-soaked mushrooms, diced
  • 20 grams dried cabbage
  • 1/4 c bean sprouts
  • 3/4 cup diced tofu
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup glass noodles (pre-soaked and cut)
  • 1 tbs light soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper
  • 1/2 tsp white sugar

Fry garlic.  Add other ingredients in order of hardness (ie carrots, mushrooms, cabbage….) Add liquids and spices last.  Simmer and remove from heat.

Place one tablespoon of the filling on a spring roll wrapper.  Fold the sheet in half,a turn over the filling.  Fold in ends, and smear edge with egg to seal the wrapper.  Deep fry until crispy and brown.  Serve with sweet chili sauce and enjoy!

Ingredients for Sauce:

  • 1 cup water
  • 3-5 tbs white sugar
  • 3 tbs rice vinegar or tamarind paste
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp dried chili powder
  • 4-5 tbs ground peanuts
  • 1 tsp chopped coriander leaves

Mix the ingredients together and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes and remove from heat.