Monday, March 18, 2013

Eat Your Greens Salad

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The inspiration for this latest salad obsession arrived courtesy of a catering delivery to our office that included this dish in all of its green goodness. Crisp tender vegetables (sugar snap peas, broccoli and edmame), vibrant color and lots of flavor - my only complaint was the heavy dose of vinaigrette. The oily slick on the restaurant version makes you feel like you are undoing all the good done by eating your greens. I absolutely think this salad needs some sort of dressing and a bit of fat, but for me, a drizzle of toasted sesame oil and a sprinkling of salt is sufficient to bring out an earthy, delicious flavor.

Whatever you do, do not skip the blanching step. It makes all the difference to get the vegetables just the slightest bit tender and it certainly doesn’t hurt in preserving the vibrant green color. Blanching traditionally includes a quick dunk in a bowl of ice water to arrest the cooking, but here I opt for stirring in the frozen edamame after the vegetables are drained. They help to quickly cool down the other vegetables, while the residual heat from cooking thaws the edamame. If you prefer an ice bath, by all means use the traditional method, but if you, like me, find yourself without an ice maker and vast quantities of ice on hand, stirring in the edamame works well here.

Eat Your Greens
Makes 2 Quarts

1 pound sugar snap peas
12 oz package broccoli florets
6 oz frozen, shelled edamame
2 – 3 T toasted sesame oil
Salt for cooking and to taste (Kosher – I use Diamond Crystal)

Put a large pot of water on the stove and bring to a boil. While the water is heating, prepare the vegetables.

Remove the stem-end of the sugar snap peas and if desired, the string that runs the length of the pea. Cut the peas on the diagonal into 1/4“ to 1/2“ segments. Roughly chop the broccoli florets.

Once the water comes to a boil, add a generous amount of salt (at least 1 tablespoon). Add the sugar snap peas and broccoli to the water and cook for two minutes. Drain the vegetables in a colander and stir for one to two minutes to speed cooling. Add the frozen edamame and stir until the edamame is thawed – an additional one to two minutes.

Transfer the vegetables to a bowl and stir in two tablespoons of the sesame oil and salt generously. Taste the mixture and if the sesame flavor is mild, add more to taste.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Lemon Blueberry Cupcakes

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I stumbled upon these delicious cupcakes while looking for something to bring into the office for my co-workers. No special occasion, just a desire to bake and not increase my waist size at the same time. My secret weapon of weight loss centers around pawning off leftovers on unsuspecting colleagues. They have yet to complain about my mode of moderation.
Make these for your co-workers or your family or yourself. Just make them. But beware their addictive nature if you don't have anyone on which to lovingly bestow (aka pawn off) the leftovers.

Lemon Blueberry Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
Makes 20 Cupcakes
Adapted from the Fine Cooking Blog Roll

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs at room temperature
2 cups + 1 T flour
1/2 t salt
1 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1 cup buttermilk at room temperature
1 1/2 t vanilla
Zest of 3 lemons
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
1 T flour

Preheat oven to 350
Place 20 cupcake liners in two 12-cup muffin pans. Beat the butter, lemon zest and sugar until light and fluffy – about five minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix until combined. Toss the blueberries with 1 T flour.

Sift the remaining flour with the baking powder, salt and baking soda. Add a quarter of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and combine. Then add vanilla and a third of the buttermilk and combine. Repeat until the flour mixture and buttermilk are incorporated. Fold in the blueberries.

Using an ice cream scoop or large spoon, scoop the batter into the prepared muffin pans. Bake 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool pans on a rack for 5 minutes. Turn cakes out and cool completely.

Frost the cupcakes (recipe follows) and top each cupcake with a blueberry and a mint leaf (if desired).


8 oz. softened cream cheese
1 stick softened butter
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
1/4 cup honey
Zest of 1 lemon
1 t vanilla
2 t fresh lemon juice
Large pinch of salt

Beat the ingredients in a stand mixer until completely smooth. If the mixture is too runny, add more confectioner’s sugar until desired consistency is reached.

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