Thursday, January 24, 2013

Potato-Quinoa Cake, Poached Egg & Salmon

Poached eggs seem to be all the rage right now... in that what's-old-is-new-again sort of way. Whether online or out to dine, these perky little pockets of yolky perfection appear to be quite popular and versatile... draped over crisp little toasts, or propped atop a soup, salad or pasta. While their presentation is less than subtle... bold and starkly devoid of hue except for the bright promise of what lies within... their mild flavor and ability to meld and mingle without stealing the show makes them a perfect complement for a range of platings.

Recently I tasted a lovely little brunch dish* that delivered a nicely poached egg perched atop a potato and quinoa cake with bits of salmon nestled alongside. All the components worked so well together and, certainly, the egg got my attention. However, it was the addition of quinoa in the cake that sold me on the need to try these at home... particularly since my taste was but one bite. The opportunity to meld some added goodness into a fairly standard fixing is always a plus in my book. Relatively high in calcium and a good little source of protein, quinoa is gaining popularity in vegan dishes and among those who are lactose intolerant. Having removed dairy from my own diet, quinoa is a great little additive... especially when utilized as a bit player, where it adds value but isn't required to take center stage and carry the whole flavor tune. A good little mincing of green onion and Italian parsley adds a nice pop of brightness to the cakes and a light "crumb" coat delivers a touch of crunch when fried. It's a good little patty to plate with salmon... whether sautéed on the spot or warmed up from leftovers.

And... of course, there's the yummy goodness of that egg... just begging to be pierced.

Friday, January 18, 2013

A Winter Salad with Lemon-Orange Vinaigrette {Arugula, Farro, Radish, Citrus & More}

While some folks may take salads out of their winter repertoire of meals, uncertain as to what to toss with their greens lest there be a sun-ripened tomato to turn to... I welcome the variety of produce that winter hardily delivers, and the opportunity for new pairings and introductions. Tomatoes certainly aren't necessary for a great salad, and leafy greens don't have to take the lead.

Most of our salads this time of year are simply a toss together of whatever is looking best... broccoli, beets, turnips, cauliflower, kale, mushrooms, squash, etc. Really no different than the salads you'd pull together in the peak of summer. It's just a slightly different cast of characters.

With a thoughtful selection of beautiful produce, complementary pairings (fresh and/or dried fruits, nuts, grains, legumes, etc.), and a tasty dressing or simple squeeze of fresh lemon... the possibilities are numerous.

I think salads are the "raw" version of my penchant for soups. There's really no "golden rule" to follow in making either. And they both allow a good deal of creativity. A quick chop of this or that and, voilá, you have dinner. They're both quick and easy go-tos that only get better the more variety you introduce. Kind of like a great party.

The first time I threw this salad together I had just a touch of arugula and a whole heap of cauliflower... so that's what was used. This time around I had an abundance of arugula and absolutely no cauliflower. A bit more radish, celery, chopped roasted almonds, fresh green onion, and bits of citrus took its place, marrying beautifully with the peppery greens and nutty grain. Though chopped cauliflower is a welcome addition, it was yummy nonetheless.

Lately, as a result of a project I'm working on for Stemilt Fruit Growers and Sunkist, I've been tossing a good bit of fruit (apples, pears and citrus) into our everyday meals... especially salads! While the bulk of the project I'm working on is kid-focused, recipes using Lil Snapper fruits, I'm happy to take the day's leftovers and rework them into whatever we have going for dinner... like this salad.

The day's creations are pretty good too... particularly for little tykes... and moms looking to get fresh fruit into kids' hands... and bellies. It's exciting to see what Stemilt and Sunkist are doing to promote healthy eating among kids. As a mom that raised her own daughters on a bounty of fruits and vegetables... rarely even opening a jar of baby food... I can't think of a better project to get behind. There's truly nothing better than the sweet nectar of nature.

While I am being compensated for my work with Stemilt Fruit Growers and Sunkist, the opinions expressed herein are solely my own.