It’s been awhile . . .

So, I’m really sorry.  Really sorry.  My last post contained Christmas cookies . . . that’s how sorry I am.

I have been busier than I have ever been ever.  I am juggling full-time graduate school, full-time teaching, and what seems to be a full-time job search.  That’s a lot of full-time.  I am also writing my Master’s thesis, so when there are two minutes for me to relax, the last thing I really want to do is more writing.  So sorry.

I had grand aspirations of my first post of 2012 being what I learned in 2011.  Can I still do that?  Am I allowed to discuss what I learned in 2011 when a quarter of 2012 has already passed by?  Well, I’ll keep it to a few points:

  1. I learned that deep-frying doesn’t need to be so scary, but . . . I also learned that it can be a bit tricky.  My first attempt at it occurred over Brandon’s birthday when I deep-fried some of Tom Keller’s delightfully insanely sweet and airy cinnamon-sugar doughnuts.  Later in the year, I tested out his fried chicken recipe and forgot to blog about it . . . sorry, again.  Also, insanely good.  Both recipes were not too hard, but the whole “temperature thing” gets me irritated every time.  Is it just me, or are deep frying thermometers the biggest pain?  I have the hardest time keeping my oil at just the right temperature!
  2. I learned that “healthy” food is not always healthy.  Just because something says “All-Natural” or “Light” it doesn’t always mean that it’s the best option.  Actually, it’s often the contrary.  If something has to say “All Natural,” isn’t that a little strange?  Apples, milk, eggs, and even butter don’t boast “All Natural;” they just are.  “Light” options often have chemicals that make them “lighter.”  Look at the ingredients.  If you see something you don’t recognize, put it down.  Step away from the margarine.  Walk by the whole wheat bread with high-fructose corn syrup.  If a food product contains ingredients you wouldn’t cook with, don’t buy it.  Just don’t.  Your body will thank you.
  3. Iced coffee.  I know this one isn’t very profound, but I discovered cold-brewed iced coffee, and it has changed my summer months.  Every morning, I am giddy to get my hands on my delicious glass of rich, not-bitter icy goodness.  What a difference from my naive days of plunking a few ice cubes into a hot cup of joe.  No longer!

Well, I can’t just babble on forever, and I’m sure you wouldn’t mind a recipe.  To be honest, it is funny I’m choosing today to finally get back to blogging, because today, I started the Blueprint Cleanse . . . and I’m hungry.  Really hungry.  But, I’m leaving Friday for a few days in the sun, so I need a little break from my recent diet of Thai take-out, Italian take-out, Peruvian take-out, Japanese take-out . . . see a pattern here?

Today’s recipe is one we go back to all of the time.  It’s a classic:  Nicoise Salad.  The best part of a Nicoise salad?  No lettuce.  At least, not in mine.  I get tired of lettuce, so this is a terrific alternative:  red potatoes, haricots verts, cherry tomatoes, capers, olives . . . delish.  To top it off, I often just open up a can of good tuna in olive oil, but last weekend, we splurged and seared off some fresh tuna.  If you’re an egg-lover, like my husband, you can also throw in a few of those as well!

Nicoise Salad

Adapted from a recipe by Tyler Florence

Ingredients

Vinaigrette

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup good extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon anchovy paste or finely minced anchovy
Salad
  • 1 pound small red new potatoes, scrubbed and halved
  • 4 large eggs (optional)
  • 1/2 pound haricots verts (green beans), stems trimmed
  • 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup Nicoise olives
  • 3 tablespoons capers
  • 1/2 bunch parsley, chopped
  • 2 cans of good tuna in olive oil, drained, or 2 seared tuna filets
Instructions
  1. Combine all vinaigrette ingredients in a small bowl. Whisk the vinaigrette vigorously to emulsify. Set the dressing aside while preparing the salad so the flavors develop.
  2. Put the potatoes in a large pot, add water to cover and a tablespoon of salt and bring to a boil over medium heat. Simmer the potatoes for 12 minutes, and then add the eggs.
  3. Place a steamer basket or colander on top of the simmering water. Put the green beans in the steamer and cover with a lid. Steam the beans for 3-5 minutes until crisp-tender while continuing to cook the potatoes until fork tender. Drain out the water and put the potatoes, eggs, and green beans in a colander; rinse briefly under cold water. Peel the shells off the eggs and cut them in 1/2 lengthwise.
  4. To assemble the salad arrange the potatoes, green beans, tomatoes, olives, capers, and eggs on a large platter. Top with tuna and sprinkle with parsley.  Drizzle the salad with enough vinaigrette to fully moisten and season with salt and pepper.  Serve with remaining dressing on the side.
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