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Raw Mushroom Salad with Celery


What type of mushrooms will you use?

In Italy, the best dishes uses the finest ingredients in simple ways that show off just how good they are. That’s the secret behind this mushroom salad, which features only celery and parsley in addition to the mushrooms. Salt, pepper, oil and lemon juice dress it, and you’re set.

The best mushrooms, according to Jacob Kenedy in “Bocca Cookbook” (Bloomsbury, $45), would be seasonal favorites you find in Italian markets during the spring and fall, but the success of the recipe is not dependent on that.

“Ovoli mushrooms, Amanita caesarea, have a delicate taste and are wonderful,” he writes. “Picked young, as the bright orange cap emerges from its white sarcophagus, they look just like hatching eggs. To say they are hard to find would be a gross understatement, but other mushrooms can make this salad just as good. In particular, porchini (also known as ceps), if young and firm, are delicious raw; even the humble cremini mushroom would make this a pleasaing dish.”

Raw Mushroom Salad with Celery

1/2 pound ovoli, porcini or cremini mushrooms, no more than 2 1/2 inches long
4 ribs celery
Leaves from 3 to 4 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice, or a little more to taste

Clean any dirt from the bases of the mushrooms with a pairing knife, and wipe the caps gently with a damp cloth, if necessary — don’t wash them. Slice them finely, around 1/8-inch thick, and also slice the celery ribs on the bias to around the same thickness.

Spread the celery and mushrooms thinly on a plate, scatter with the parsley leaves, salt and pepper to taste, then drizzle with the olive oil and lemon. Serve quickly, before the salt draws the juices from the vegetables and leaves the salad wet and limp.

Makes 4 starter servings or 2 main course servings.

From “Bocca Cookbook” by Jacob Kenedy

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Romaine, Apple and Cranberry Salad


Use a sweet-tart apple in this salad.

Fresh, fall apples have begun to appear at the market, making this the perfect time to try this recipe from Lori Lyn Narlock’s “Small Plates, Perfect Wines” (Andrews McMeel Publishing LLC, $16.95). It’s simple and it uses another seasonal favorite, cranberries, though the recipe calls for the dried version.

Romaine, Apple and Cranberry Salad

2 sweet-tart apples, such as Pink Lady or Gravenstein, peeled, cored and cut into fine julienne
4 cups (4 ounces) thinly sliced romaine lettuce hearts, plus 6 whole larger heart leaves
1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
Kosher salt, to taste
1/4 cup pecans, toasted and chopped

In a large bowl, combine the apple, slice romaine hearts and cranberries.

In a small bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, vinegar and chives. Pour over the apple mixture and stir gently to coat. Season with salt to taste. Arrange the whole lettuce leaves on a large platter or divide among 6 salad plates. Arrange an equal amount of the apple mixture on top of each lettuce leaf and top each with an equal amount of the pecans.

Wine pairing: Chardonnay

Makes 6 servings.

From “Small Plates, Perfect Wines” by Lori Lyn Narlock

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Smoked Trout Pâté Comes Together Quickly


Smoked Trout Pâté

If you want an easy appetizer or a light summertime salad topper, try this Smoked Trout Pâté, which goes together easily. But don’t get too hung up on the type of fish you use.

“You can make this pâté with any smoked oily fish,” Kate McDonough writes in “The City Cook” (Simon and Schuster, $20). “Trout is usually the easiest to find, but if you can find smoked bluefish, use that instead of the trout because its strong flavor combines well with the other ingredients. For those not familiar with prepared horseradish, it’s sold in refrigerated jars, often near a grocer’s dairy case; if you have a choice between red horseradish, which is tinted with beet juice, or plain white, choose the white.” Also, look for prepared horseradish without sugar. Sweetness is not what this dish is about.

“This spread is nice on small squares of toasted bread, crackers, croutons or thin slices of seedless English cucumber,” McDonough writes.

Smoked Trout Pâté

8 ounces smoked trout or bluefish, skin removed and discarded
1 (8-ounce) package regular or reduced-fat cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons prepared white horseradish
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 to 4 drops Tabasco or other hot sauce (optional)
2 tablespoons tiny capers, drained

Break up the fish into pieces and place in a food processor equipped with a steel blade. Add the cream cheese and pulse until the fish and cream cheese are combined. Add the horseradish and lemon juice, and pulse to combine. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more lemon juice or horseradish if necessary. Add the Tabasco, if desired. Add the capers and pulse a few more times until they are mixed throughout.

Spread on crackers, pieces of toasted bread, or thin slices of seedless English cucumbers or use as a dip with crudités. The pâté can be made a day in advance and stored covered in the refrigerator. Just bring it to room temperature when you’re ready to serve so that it’s easy to spread.

Makes 2 cups or enough for about 40 cucumber rounds.

From “The City Cook” by Kate McDonough

 

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Ask a Foodie: Low-carb Salmon Ideas?


Enjoy two low-carbohydrate ways to prepare salmon fillets.

Q. The doctor just put me on a strict low-carb diet, and he told me to eat more fish. Any ideas? I like salmon.

— William G.

A. It’s easy to cut carbohydrates down in many savory dishes without losing flavor (desserts are another matter).  One place to look for low-carb ideas is cookbooks that cater to diabetics. That’s where the two salmon recipes below originated. They are from the new “The Diabetes Seafood Cookbook” by Barbara Seelig-Brown (American Diabetes Association, $18.95). But beware: Not all of the recipes are low-carb, so read the nutritional analysis before cooking.

The two recipes were chosen from an entire chapter on salmon because they are made in two different ways. One is grilled, the other is poached. That way, you can vary your method and still keep your carb count low.

Grilled Salmon and Asparagus

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
Juice of 2 lemons
1 pound thick salmon fillet, skinless, cut into 4 portions
2 teaspoons salt-free lemon pepper seasoning
2 pounds thin asparagus, ends broken off and placed in a bowl of water

Place olive oil in a small sauté pan. Add garlic and heat until garlic becomes fragrant, about 2 mintues. Add basil and turn heat off. Whisk in lemon juice. Set aside.

Sprinkle salmon with lemon pepper seasoning. Set aside.

Preheat grill pan for a few minutes. Drain asparagus and place on grill pan. Cover and roast asparagus for 3 minutes, shaking occasionally. Remove cover. Brush salmon with lemon garlic bath. Place ont he grill pan. cook first side until a nice crust forms. Turn and cook second side. if you want your salmon well done, the lid can be placed on the grill pan.

Place asparagus on a serving plate. Top with salmon. Drizzle with lemon garlic bath. Additional lemon garlic bath can be stored for future use.

Makes 4 servings.

Approximate nutritional value per serving: 300 calories, 17 g fat, 75 mg cholesterol, 80 mg sodium, 9 g carbohydrate, 3 g dietary fiber, 3 g sugars, 29 g protein.

From “The Diabetes Seafood Cookbook” by Barbara Seelig-Brown

Lemony Poached Salmon with a Fennel, Onion and Olive Salad

1 pound salmon fillet, skin removed, cut into 4 portions
Juice of 1 lemon
Water to cover salmon

Salad:
1/2 cup thinly sliced fennel tops
1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup pitted olives
1/2 cup sliced cucumber
4 cups red leaf lettuce, washed, dried and torn into bite-sized pieces
1 lemon, sliced for garnish

Dressing:
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon capers

Prepare pan for poaching. Place salmon in pan. Add lemon juice and enough water to cover. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 5-7 minutes or until it flakes with a fork.

Place fennel tops, onion, olives, cucumber and lettuce in a large bowl.

Whisk together lemon juice, oil, salt and pepper. Add capers. pour half of the dressing over the salad greens. Toss. Save the rest of the dressing to use with another salad.

Place salad on plate and top with salmon. Garnish with lemon slices.

Makes 4 servings.

Approximate nutritional value per serving: 230 calories, 12 g fat, 50 mg cholesterol, 310 mg sodium, 6 g carbohydrate, 2 g dietary fiber, 2 g sugar, 25 protein.

From “The Diabetes Seafood Cookbook” by Barbara Seelig-Brown

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Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with Jalapeño-Lime Marinated Shrimp


Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with a spicy shrimp dish.

For many, firm, sweet shrimp is a cause for celebration. Then what better way to honor Cinco de Mayo than with an easy shrimp dish, such as Matt Martinez’s Jalapeño-Lime Marinated Shrimp. Serve this colorful dish as an appetizer or as a salad on lettuce leaves.

Jalapeño-Lime Marinated Shrimp

1 pound shrimp, shelled and deveined
1 cup chopped or julienned red bell pepper
1 cup coarsely chopped white onion
1/2 cup lime juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 jalapeño, thinly sliced
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon sugar, or less, to taste
1/4 teaspoon crushed leafy oregano (Mexican oregano works best)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Grill or broil the shrimp and let them cool.

In a bowl, mix the bell pepper, onion, lime juice, olive oil, cilantro, garlic, jalapeño, salt, sugar, oregano and black pepper, and taste for seasoning. Add the shrimp and toss. Cover and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours before serving.

Makes 4 servings.

From “MexTex” by Matt Martinez

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Texas Pecan and Avocado Salad Mixes Two Favorites


Avocados go great with pecans in this salad.

Texans love pecans and avocados. So, why not use the two together? That’s the secret of this simple salad, which can be made any time of year, yet it has an appealing array of spring colors. It comes from Southern Living’s latest cookbook, “1001 Ways to Cook Southern” (Oxmoor House, $34.95).

Texas Pecan and Avocado Salad

1 head Bibb lettuce
2 avocados, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans
Tangy Dijon Dressing (recipe follows)

Arrange lettuce leaves on a serving platter. Top evenly with avocados and bell pepper slices; sprinkle with pecans. Drizzle with desired amount of dressing.

Makes 8 servings.

Tangy Dijon Dressing

1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon sugar, or to taste
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, 2 tablespoons water, sugar, mustard, salt and pepper. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Makes about 2/3 cup dressing.

From Southern Living’s “1001 Ways to Cook Southern”

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Warm Eggplant (Aubergine) and Anchovy Salad (Ensalada Templada de Berenjenas y Anchoas)


Use small egplants in this warm tapas recipe.

Look for small eggplants to use in this recipe, not the ones generally used in eggplant Parmesan.

Warm Eggplant (Aubergine) and Anchovy Salad (Ensalada Templada de Berenjenas y Anchoas)

3 eggplants (see note)
1 cup olive oil
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
3 anchovy fillets in oil, drained and crush
Juice of 1 lemon, strained
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

Peel the eggplants – although this dish is delicious if they are not peeled – then cut them into slices about ¾ inch thick, sprinkle with salt and place in a colander. Leave for 1 hour to draw out the juices, the rinse off the salt and pat dry.

Heat the oil in 1 or 2 skillets or frying pans over low heat and arrange the eggplant slices in a single layer so they have plenty of room. Cover and cook, turning once, for 20 minutes, or until the eggplants are tender and softened. Drain off nearly all the oil, leaving just enough to prevent the slices from sticking. Sprinkle the garlic, parsley and salt over them.

Mix the anchovies with the lemon juice and season with a little pepper. Pour this over the eggplants, covering them evenly, and serve.

Note: Don’t look for the large eggplants often used in eggplant Parmesan. Look for smaller eggplants, about 8 inches in length and 3-4 inches in diameter.

Makes 4-6 servings.

From “The Book of Tapas” by Simone and Inés Ortega

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Mango, Tomato, Avocado Chop Bowl


Mango, Tomato, Avocado Chop Bowl

Nomi Shannon, aka the Raw Gourmet, created this easy yet bold salad using ingredients you’re like to have around your kitchen. Don’t have something? Try a variation. As Shannon says, “This is just wicked simple — and there’s pretty much endless variations of the chop bowl.”

You could add celery or any color bell pepper for crunch. Use peaches or nectarines instead of mango. Spritz some lime juice on instead of the vinegar. Add serrano pepper for heat.

Mango, Tomato, Avocado Chop Bowl

1 medium ripe tomato, chopped into ½-inch cubes
1 medium Ataulfo mango, chopped into ½-inch cubes
1 medium avocado, chopped into ½-inch cubes
6-10 fresh mint leaves, torn up
Pinch of sea salt
¼- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon balsamic vinegar, optional

Gently stir together tomato, mango, avocado, mint, salt, cinnamon and vinegar, if using. Allow flavors to mingle for 15-30 minutes.

Makes 4 side dish servings or 1 main course serving.

From Nomi Shannon, the Raw Gourmet

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Chefs’ Corner: Grape-Gorgonzola Salad at Texas de Brazil


Grape Salad with Roasted Apples and Gorgonzola Cheese

Looking for a colorful salad that’s easy to make yet filled with layers of flavor? Texas de Brazil, the steakhouse at 313 E. Houston St., has a winner in its Grape Salad with Roasted Apples and Gorgonzola Cheese.

“This salad is especially great if accompanying roasted pork loin or leg of lamb,” says chef Evandro Caregnato, who created this recipe because he wanted a salad that pairs well with wine. (With wine in mind, use only a sprinkling of sugar on the apples and try to use a sugar-free mayonnaise, such as Duke’s, if you are not making your own.)

This salad would be a refreshing addition to your Fiesta parties and get-togethers any time of year.

Texas de Brazil’s Grape Salad with Roasted Apples and Gorgonzola Cheese

2 golden delicious apples, peeled and cored
Sugar, to taste
1 1/2 cups seedless red grapes
1 1/2 cups seedless green grapes
1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3/4 cup crumbled gorgonzola cheese

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut the apples into 1-inch cubes and dust with a little sugar. Place the apples in a single layer in a greased pan. Roast for about 20 minutes or until lightly golden. Let cool.

Combine 1-1/2 cups roasted apples with grapes, mayonnaise, lemon juice and cheese in a large bowl. Mix well and chill before serving.

Makes 10 side-dish servings.

From Evandro Caregnato/Texas de Brazil

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Oranges and Olives Combine to Make a Memorable Salad


Orange and Olive Salad

Olives have been on my mind lately, thanks in part to the recent Olives Olé. And one of the ways I like to serve them is in a salad with oranges, so the sweet and salty have a chance to blend. This is a Mediterranean classic, and Dorie Greenspan has a great variation in her new cookbook, “Around My French Table: More than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours” (Houghton Mifflin, $40).

“This is an exceedingly simple first-course salad or chaser when the main event is a tagine or rich stew,” she writes. “Here, slices of orange are drizzled with olive oil and strewn with onion rings and small black olives.”

Play around with the ingredients. I used blood oranges, simply because they were all I had in the house. The color wasn’t as vibrant, but the juice was abundant and flavorful. That forced me to add a touch of cilantro, which worked nicely in the mix.

Orange and Olive Salad

1 small onion, red or yellow
4 navel, Temple or other “meaty” oranges
About 2 tablespoons olive oil
Niçoise or other small black olives, pitted or not
Salt, preferably fleur de sel, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

You can leave the onion whole or cut it in half. thinly slice it, and separate the slices into rings or half rings. rinse the slices and drop them into a bowl of ice water. If you’ve got the time, let them sit in their water bath for about 20 minutes — the rinse will wash away some of their bitterness, and the bath will make them crisp.

You may want to remove the zest and save it before peeling the oranges. You can remove it in wide strips, cut away the white pith on the underside, and freeze the strips; you can sliver or chop the zest or you can grate it. (Slivered or grated zest won’t freeze as well.)

Remove a thin slice from the top and bottom of each orange to give yourself flat surfaces, stand the orange up, and, working your knife around the contours of the orange, cut away the peel, the pith and the tiniest bit of flesh. Once they are peeled, cut the oranges into rounds 1/3 to 1/2 inch thick, and arrange attractively on a large serving platter. If you’d like, you can cover the oranges and chill them before you finish and serve the salad.

Drain the onions and pat them dry. Drizzle the olive oil over the oranges, scatter over the onions, top with the olives and season with salt and pepper.

Makes 4 servings.

From “Around My French Table” by Dorie Greenspan

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