Light, Bright Tuna Salad

Light Bright Tuna Salad

This light, bright tuna salad makes a great weeknight meal. Bold and flavorful – you won’t miss the calories.

2 packets tuna in water
2 Tbsp. beet horseradish
2 Tbsp. dill, chopped
1/4 cup red onion, diced
2 tsp. red wine vinegar
1 medium red bell pepper, diced
1 Tbsp. capers
1 can garbanzo beans, washed & drained
2 ribs celery, diced
1/4 preserved lemon, diced
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. dried ground chipotle
Salt & pepper to taste

Prep all ingredients. Toss all ingredients together in a large bowl. Taste. Salt & pepper to your liking.

Serves 2 + 1 for a light dinner & lunch. You can beef this salad up with some crusty bread or crackers, but it is perfectly satisfying without.

The ‘I Need Healthy In My Life’ Grain Salad

This light & cleansing dish will set you back on track

The ‘I Need Healthy In My Life’ Grain Salad

This is a great good-for-what-ails-you one bowl dinner, perfect to get yourself back on track after a weekend of decadence.

Adapted from Radish and Pecan Grain Salad from Food 52

2c. mixed cooked farro, pearl barley and brown rice
1c. arugula
1c. parsley
1/2 c. fresh tarragon
1/2 lb. pecans, toasted and chopped
1/4 c. walnut oil
1/4 c. tarragon vinegar
1 c. radishes, sliced wafer thin
1/4 c. shallot, minced
1/4 c. olive oil

Set a large pot of salted water on to boil while you prepare the salad.

While the water is coming up to a boil or while the grains are cooking, mince the parsley, tarragon and shallot. Slice your radishes wafer thin.

When the water has come up to a boil, add the farro, pearl barley and brown rice. Cook until tender, 30 – 45 mins. If you’re worried about everything not cooking at the same time, cook big batches of each separately and freeze the leftovers in zipper bags for a quick weeknight meal base.

When the grains are done to your liking, drain into a colander and set aside to cool.

While the grains are cooling a bit, place your pecans into a dry pan over medium-high heat. Toast until fragrant and beginning to color. Remove from the heat and chop.

Add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl of grains, toss, season to taste with salt & pepper and serve.

Serves 2 for dinner with enough leftover for lunch.

Israeli Lentil, Leek and Onion Salad with Spice Spiked Yogurt

There’s something magical about the combination of lentils, leeks, butter and sweet nutty maillard that’s intoxicating in this dish

This dish makes a wholly satisfying weeknight meal with tons of flavor and texture. Don’t skimp on the yogurt sauce when making this meal. The buttery, nutty lentil salad is intoxicating on its own, but the yogurt adds a nice little spicy counterpoint to the rich butteryness and should not be missed.

Israeli Lentil, Leek and Onion Salad with Spice Spiked Yogurt
Adapted from Mujaddara with Spiced Yogurt from Food 52


3/4 c. green lentils
1 c. long grain white rice
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 leek, washed, halved and thinly sliced

Yogurt Sauce

1/2 c. plain fat free Greek yogurt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. spicy Hungarian paprika
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh mint
Juice and zest of half a lemon

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.

While the oven is going, start your lentils. Combine lentils, big pinch salt and 4 cups water in a medium pot. Bring to a boil. Once your pot is up to the boil, kick the heat back and simmer the lentils until they are cooked but not mushy, about 20 minutes. Drain and add to a large bowl.

While your lentils are going, combine the rice, another big pinch of salt and 1 1/2 cups water in an oven-safe pot on medium heat.  Bring up to a boil. Once the water reaches a boil, cover and transfer the whole pot to the oven. Cook for 17 minutes until the rice is cooked. Remove from the oven, uncover and fluff with a fork. I didn’t think this cooking method would work either, but the geniuses at Food 52 were right and it went off without a hitch. Add the rice to the lentil bowl.

While all this is cooking, set your largest sautee pan over medium low heat. Add the butter and 2 Tbsp. olive oil. When that has melted down, add the leeks and onions and toss to coat. Cook gently for 5 minutes or until the mixture has softened slightly and begun to release its liquid. Kick the heat up to medium and cook, stirring occasionally and adding dashes of water if things start to stick, until the onions and leeks are well browned. This will take you 12-20 minutes, depending upon your pan and the day. You’re not looking for burnt here, just a nice deep brown nuttiness. Once the mixture is looking good, add the last Tbsp. olive oil and crank the heat to high. Cook 3-4 minutes until the bottom layer gets a little char. Still not burnt, but crispy.

Add to the lentil & rice bowl and let sit 15 minutes to allow the flavors a chance to get to know each other.

While the ingredients are mingling, combine all yogurt ingredients together and stir.

To serve, scoop servings of lentils into a bowl and top with a dollop of yogurt.

This recipe makes enough for 2 for dinner and lunch the next day (and its perhaps even better the next day, too).

Bratwurst: “Brat” Is Right!–Charcutepalooza Challenge #7

Let me start this post by saying that despite all the drama in its creation, we ended up with perfectly wonderful bratwurst in the end.

The Procurement Process

This recipe calls for something called “Soy Protein Concentrate.” Upon reading that ingredient, I thought no problem, Whole Foods will have it or maybe GNC. Publix may even have it. Think of it no more. And then I got to Publix, and Soy Protein Concentrate is not what I thought it was–some kind of fake milk or maybe a supplement. Instead of doing the smart thing then and there and ordering it online, I went to GNC. No luck. And Whole Foods, where after half an hour of increasing frustration and two stock guys help, I Googled what I needed the soy for. Hmmm… well, that’s interesting. Turns out Soy Protein Concentrate may or may not be this stuff called TVP or Textured Vegetable Protein. Or, it may be a powder in a big bottle that looks like the Creatine bottle. Or it could be neither. I left Whole Foods with a dubious bag of Textured Soy Protein that kind of looked like a bag of off-color lava rocks, but no real idea if this is what I was supposed to get, or if I felt good about putting weird rock things in my sausage at all.

The meat, thankfully, was no problem to source. Our butcher at Laurenzo’s Italian Market had the veal, pork shoulder and fat back we needed on hand and also offered to grind the meat for us and had hog casings in stock if we needed them as well. We opted to grind the meat ourselves, but the offer was appreciated. We didn’t happen to need casings this trip, having some left over from last month’s Italian sausage, but we will definitely order casings from them vs. online next time.

I know I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: if you are lucky enough to have a butcher in your vicinity, visit them. Visit them often. Butchers not only often have better prices on meat than big supermarket chains, they have better quality. Butchers, by and large, are also a passionate bunch about what they are doing and are more than willing to discuss the merits of a certain cut of meat for a particular preparation and will also make sure you are getting the best product for your money. Our butcher is great, and always more than willing to help with any questions I may have. He also does special orders, and can get most anything I could want in a reasonable amount of time. Special fancy buzzword-laden meat is great and all, but I will pick the meat my local business procures 9 times out of 10 for its freshness, quality, and to support my community.

Mmmmmm…. tubed meat….

The Sausage Making Process

The sausage making process started off great. We decided to forego the weird nubbly protein, and my DH (Darling Husband) chopped the meat smaller than last time (ending up with approximately 3/4 inch cubes), and we chilled the meat to almost frozen before starting. Working in small batches with the balance of the meat in the freezer, we processed the chunks through the die in the initial grind. This went much faster than last time and we were very pleased with the results.

We added the cream & eggs–wait, what? Cream and eggs in a sausage? Were you supposed to do that? It turns out that what makes this sausage emulsify is the addition of heavy cream and eggs. And here I thought it was white because of the veal (and didn’t even know it was an emulsification).

Ok, so the blending went well, as did the resting. And then we hit a snag. A big snag that led to a meltdown at Casa Cochran. Now, so far for us at least, sausage making has not been the most relaxing activity ever. Heavy machinery is used, so that’s a plus, but we have no idea what we are doing outside of the (detailed) instructions provided by Ruhlman in the book. We are sausage novices. When trying to pass the emulsified sausage meat through the Kitchenaid sausage attachment and into the casings, all hell broke loose. Only a few anemic wisps of meat would go through the feed tube into the casing, no matter how many times there was freaking out, yelling and re-assembly of the mechanism. So, after much arguing, a meltdown and one of us being banished from the kitchen, the sausages were hand stuffed. How, I’m not sure, since I was the one banished. But, my DH did manage (somehow) to bring out a big plate of beautiful coiled sausage in the end, so however he did it was perfect.

This go ’round we also tried two different way of making links: the way we thought made sense (while stuffing the sausage) and the way the literature says to do it (after the sausage has been stuffed). Method #2 sucks, though I probably did something wrong to anger the sausage gods, and I think we will stick with method #1, even if it means my nursing back pain self has to stand in the kitchen for an hour. Method #2 resulted in broken casings and meat loss. Not good, especially after the previous maelstrom.

The perfect way to celebrate America Day

And Finally, The Eating

We celebrated the Fourth of July with our fresh brats (simmered in Shiner Redbird Summer Ale), fresh Florida sweet corn on the cob, and a slight variation of Bon Appetit’s Fingerling Potato Salad

We also took our new ice cream maker attachment for its first whirl, making Custardy Almond Milk & Cream Ice Cream with Honey and Cookie Dough

Potato and Leek Salad
For original recipe, visit Bon Appetit

This recipe isn’t half bad. A bit leaning-towards-greasy, but not too bad for a summer evening. I think I’ll play with the oil amount and addition of even more spices next time. I’m thinking a hybrid frankenstein between this salad and my DH’s favorite potato salad from Bobby Flay.

1 1/2 lb. small creamer potatoes (white or red), cut small
Big pinch Kosher salt
6 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. brown mustard seeds
2 leeks, white and pale green parts only, halved and cut into 1/4″ half rounds
Cap full white vinegar
2 tsp. dijon mustard
Palm full of red pepper flakes
Black pepper to taste

Place cut potatoes in a large pot and cover with plenty of cold water. Throw in a big pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 8 minutes. Drain and cool on a baking sheet.

Meanwhile, heat 1 Tbsp. oil over medium-high. Add mustard seeds and cook until they start to pop, roughly 2 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.

In your largest skillet, heat another 2 Tbsp. oil over medium heat. Add the leeks and cooks, stirring occasionally, until tender and beginning to crisp at the edges, approximately 12-15 minutes. Season with salt to taste.

While you’re waiting for your leeks to cook and potatoes to cool, add 2 Tbsp. oil, vinegar, dijon and red pepper flakes to the mustard seed oil. Whisk to combine. When the leeks are done, add them along with the potatoes and toss to coat. Season with salt & pepper to taste.

Bratwurst: “Brat” Is Right!-Charcutepalooza 7 on Punk Domestics