Celebrate Democracy & Vietnamese Salad

This Fourth of July, let’s embrace and celebrate our democratic republic – the Great American Experiment. Back on July the 4th 1776, the founding fathers declared independence from a tyrannical, and some say mad, King George. At the time, they could only hope that the experiment would last. From day one, it’s been far from perfect and always evolving. Sometimes the nation takes a step forward. Take for instance, Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. Sometimes, it takes a step backwards. Consider McCarthyism and the Red Scare in the 1950s.

In spite of the ups and downs, our democracy has held. Our deep belief in equality, that all people are created equal has been central to our success. We cherish the fundamental rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. These beliefs are at the very core of our national identity. It is what continues to make us patriots 242 years after the founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence.

The United States was founded by immigrants. From the pilgrims at Plymouth Rock, to the laborers who built the railroads and programmers who created Silicon Valley, the United States has always been a proud melting pot of diversity. Eight of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were not born in the United States. They were farmers, lawyers and doctors who crossed an ocean in search of a new life. We are a nation that has grown and prospered with each new generation of immigrants. Some came for adventure but most were in pursuit of a better, safer life.

I lived in Switzerland for seventeen years. It was an interesting experience for many reasons. For one, I was an immigrant, a foreigner, a legal alien coming from a nation of immigrants. With dozens of United Nations agencies and just as many multinational companies, Geneva is a wonderfully diverse city. At work and at play, people from vastly different cultures come together. On street corners, in restaurants, in the supermarket, people of every nationality and race speak a multitude of languages. Like communities across the U.S., this cultural melting pot made the town all the richer.

One summer, I was the assistant coach for a tee-ball team of five-year-olds. A few were Swiss but the vast majority were immigrants, just like their coaches. Many, but not all, were Americans. I’m guessing their parents signed them up to maintain a link back to their homeland. For the others, it was a chance to try something new. Overall, they were just a jumble of kids who wanted to have fun. While I have no proof or statistics, I’d hazard to guess that their talent was as varied as any tee-ball team you’d find in the U.S. Given the superb (?!?) coaching they received, I’m sure they had more fun than the average U.S. tee-ball team.

I joke about superb coaching because I was one of the worst softball players to darken the doors of my middle and high schools. However, I figured out one thing and passed it on to my five-year-old charges. Keep your eye on the ball, hold the bat tight and swing. Ignore the noise from the crowd. Don’t worry if that cute little Belgian girl likes you. Stop thinking about ice cream after the game. Keep your eye on the ball and you will hit it every time. Like magic, they did.

This 4th of July and every day, keep your eye on our shared American values. Hold tight to the belief in equality for all people. Don’t allow the country’s high standards for liberty, justice and opportunity falter. These beliefs are at the very core of our national identity.

Have a wonderful Independence Day and summer. Bon appétit!

Vietnamese Salad
A refreshing salad is perfect on a hot summer night. Serve this one with your favorite grilled fish or chicken. Enjoy!
Serves 8

4 heads baby bok choy, sliced thin on the diagonal
1 head romaine lettuce, roughly chopped
About 5 ounces arugula
3-6 radishes, finely chopped
1/2 European cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 carrot, cut into curls (use a vegetable peeler)
2-3 scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 red or yellow bell pepper, finely chopped
1 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves, cut in julienne
Garnish: 1/2 cup roasted, salted peanuts, roughly chopped

Put the vegetables and herbs in a large bowl and toss to combine.

To serve: toss the salad with just enough Vietnamese Vinaigrette to lightly coat. Transfer the salad to a large, deep serving platter or individual plates and sprinkle with chopped peanuts.

Vietnamese Vinaigrette
Makes 1 cup

Grated zest and juice of 2 limes
2 cloves garlic
1-inch piece fresh ginger
1-inch chunk red onion
1-2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon or to taste chili sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1-2 tablespoons soy sauce
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup or to taste extra virgin olive
2 teaspoons sesame oil

Put the lime zest and juice in a blender or small food processor, add the garlic, ginger, onion, honey and chili sauce, season with salt and pepper and process to chop the vegetables and combine. Add the vinegar, fish sauce and soy sauce and process until smooth.

Add the olive and sesame oils and process until well-combined. Transfer to a clean, glass jar. Let the vinaigrette sit for 30 minutes at room temperature or longer in the refrigerator to combine the flavors. Give the vinaigrette a good shake before using.

Store extra vinaigrette in the refrigerator.

Print-friendly version of this post.

One Year Ago – Tomato & Burrata Salad with Grilled Bread
Two Years Ago – Grilled Shrimp & Vegetable Salad
Three Years Ago – Fresh Berries with Creamy Lime Custard
Four Years Ago – Grilled Tomato Crostini
Five Years Ago – Strawberries with Yogurt Cream
Six Years Ago – Watermelon & Feta Salad
Seven Years Ago – Grilled Salmon with Lemon-Basil Aioli
Eight Years Ago – Mediterranean Shrimp
Nine Years Ago – Grilled Hoisin Pork

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

What’s your summer travel story? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2018

Advertisements

Is It the Holiday Weekend Yet Special?

The Fourth of July falls on Wednesday this year. A midweek holiday is a bit awkward. Do the celebrations start the weekend before or continue through the weekend after? Better you celebrate both!

This weekend and next, invite friends over for a happy holiday cookout. Fly a flag, roll out the grill and have a delicious weekend. Need some help with your menu? Not to worry, I have a few suggestions …

For a light and bright appetizer, you can’t beat my favorite Shrimp & Cucumber Bites or Crostini with Cucumber, Radish & Feta.Want something more exotic? How about Baba Ganoush with pita chips and fresh veggies.

Now for the main course … get the grill going and enjoy my Grilled Vietnamese Beef or A Hint of Asia Barbecued Chicken or Hoisin Pork Ribs. Complete your main course with my fabulous Asian Noodle Salad with Spicy Peanut Sauce and Asian Slaw.

As for dessert, it’s strawberry season. What could be better? For easy, you must try my Strawberries in Cointreau. If you want to get a little fancy try my Creamy Yogurt Tart with Fresh Strawberries.

Have a wonderful summer and holiday. Bon appétit!

For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!!

What’s up with you this weekend? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! © Susan W. Nye, 2018

Another Memorial Day Weekend Special

In my neighborhood, Memorial Day Weekend is a busy few days. A lot of the houses up and down my street belong to summer people. They bide their time. They are only here when days are warm and the sun shines. A few come up to ski in winter but they are still summer people.

This weekend they will all be around to sweep the cottage, put the boat in the water and maybe, just maybe, take a swim in the ice cold lake.

Mixed with all the hustle and bustle will be a ton of good cheer. Who doesn’t love to be in New Hampshire? … even if the black flies are as thick as thieves. Anyway, if you play your cards right you may get invited to a cookout. So, get out your favorite recipes, make a list, head to the supermarket and be ready for fun.

Here are a few dishes you can bring along to that neighborhood potluck this holiday weekend:

How about a tasty appetizer?
For something a little different, may I suggest … Chickpea Salsa or Crostini with Cucumber, Radish & Feta or Lettuce Cups with Stir-fried Chicken & Vegetables?

Maybe you’d rather bring a salad or a side dish … with asparagus of course.
You can’t lose with my Grilled Asparagus with Lemony Tarragon Butter Sauce (it’s delicious at room temperature) or Mixed Greens with Grilled Asparagus, Cucumber & Avocado or Asparagus Salad with Reduced Balsamic Vinaigrette.

No, then, I guess you’d rather bring a sweet treat:
Rhubarb is in season, so, why not try my Ginger Shortcakes with Rhubarb Compote or Rhubarb Crumb Cake? Want something patriotic for Memorial Day … how about Berry Flag Cake? When all else underwhelms you, bring a batch of the world’s best brownies … Espresso Brownies.

Have a great weekend and bon appétit!

For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!!

What’s up with you this weekend? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! © Susan W. Nye, 2018

Easter Dinner Special

Get out your bonnet – the one with all the frills! In case you haven’t been paying attention, Easter is this Sunday. Invite friends and family to gather around your table for a festive feast.

Let’s start with a tasty dip or two. Try one or more of my favorites – Baba Ganoush, Feta-Walnut Spread and/or Artichoke Pesto. Serve the dips with fresh vegetables and pita chips. Add a bowl of Roasted Almonds and another of Spicy Olives. Relax with a glass of wine and let everyone help themselves.

When you’re ready, gather at the table for a colorful salad. Can I suggest – Radicchio, Fennel, and Arugula Salad or Confetti Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette?

For the main course, at my house, it has to be lamb. While ham is a popular choice in the US, lamb is the favorite Easter dish in France, Greece and Italy. For a taste of the Mediterranean try my Grilled Lamb with Fresh Mint or Grilled Lamb Chops with Lemon-Mint Yogurt Sauce. Enjoy the lamb with Roasted Moroccan Carrots and Israeli Couscous. If you’d prefer a cozy stew, try my Braised Lamb with Artichokes and Mushrooms & Creamy Polenta.

Now for a few of my favorite spring desserts … There is nothing like lemon at Easter. My Lemon Tart is both easy and fabulous. If you’d like to get fancy, try my beautiful and delicious White Chocolate Mousse with Raspberry Coulis & Fresh Raspberries.

If you’re more of an Easter Brunch type … Stay tuned for a brunch menu … it’s coming tomorrow!

Have a lovely Easter and bon appétit!

For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!!

What’s up with you this weekend? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! © Susan W. Nye, 2018

Two Kinds of Easter & Roasted Moroccan Carrots

While there could be more, it seems to me that there are two kinds of Easters. The first is the Madison Avenue Easter. To see this one, all you need do is open a glossy magazine. Almost any one will do. If you don’t subscribe or have a dentist appointment in the next week, go to the glossy magazines’ websites. A bevy of beautiful photographs awaits you.

A veritable rainbow of pastels adorns every page. Cherry blossoms and forsythia, tulips and daffodils remind us that Easter is synonymous with spring. Adorable children dressed in pink and yellow, white and pale blue hold hands and search for eggs on smooth green lawns. Turn the page and these same cherubs are petting sweet baby lambs, pink-nosed bunnies and fluffy yellow chicks. There are no tears and not a single grass stain. We can only ask, “Who are these children?”

Turn the page again for the Easter feast. A mile long table is set to welcome a crowd of all ages in a beautiful garden. Grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins by the dozens admire the gorgeous spread. Overflowing platters are strategically placed up and down the table. Beautifully coifed women in sleeveless dresses, pastel of course, make last minute adjustments. Men in bright polo shirts stand around looking handsome. The children never cry and never spill juice on their sparkling outfits.

The second, the one I know very well, is the New Hampshire Easter. It is just as nice but nowhere near as gracious. The forsythia buds are closed up tight. Daffodils and tulips are buried under a foot or more of snow. The calendar may have proclaimed spring but a glance outside confirms that it’s winter in transition to mud season. The skiing has never been better.

Beautifully manicured or not, lawns are still covered with snow. Unless you don’t mind wallowing waist deep in it, you’ll need a pair of snowshoes to hide or find eggs. As for those pretty, pastel dresses and polo shirts, they’ll stay well hidden under parkas and snow pants. There will be no grass stains, but I don’t know about tears. There’s nothing like getting stuck in a snowbank to open the floodgates.

As for a petting zoo, wildlife abounds. There have been several bear sightings in the last few weeks. I saw a fisher-cat the other day. At least, I think it was a fisher-cat and not my neighbor’s barn cat. Raccoons are around but they only come out at night. On the other hand, squirrels are everywhere all the time. However, petting is not advised with any of these animals.

Now, what about a sumptuous picnic brunch or lunch in the garden? A long leisurely midday meal on the deck of a slope side café is a spring skiing classic and wonderful treat. That said; I’m not altogether convinced that lunch in a snowy backyard is a good idea. What with all that stamping down snow and dragging out the tables and chairs … hmmm. Maybe we should leave that photo opportunity to Madison Avenue.

Instead, how about we have dinner inside … after skiing, of course. If it’s not too cold, I have a well-weathered green fleece I can wear on the slopes. It’s faded enough to qualify as pastel.

Happy Easter and bon appétit!

Roasted Moroccan Carrots
Whether you serve your Easter dinner in the backyard or inside, these carrots are a great side dish for grilled or roast lamb. Enjoy!
Serves 8
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon cloves
3 pounds carrots, peeled and sliced on the diagonal
1/2-1 sweet onion, cut in half and then in thin wedges
Olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
4 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Put the spices in a small bowl and whisk to combine.

Put the carrots and onion in a large bowl, drizzle with enough olive oil to lightly coat and toss to coat. Sprinkle with the spice mix and toss again. Arrange the vegetables in a single layer on baking sheets and roast uncovered at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.

Remove from the oven, sprinkle with garlic and toss to combine. Return to the oven for another 3-5 minutes.

While the vegetables roast, combine the lemon zest and fresh herbs.

Transfer the vegetables to a serving bowl, drizzle with lemon juice and toss to coat. Sprinkle with the herbs and lemon zest and serve.

Printer-friendly version of this post.

One Year Ago – Maple Crème Brûlée
Two Years Ago – Mini Chocolate-Peanut Butter Whoopie Pies
Three Years Ago – Tiramisu
Four Years Ago – Grilled Lamb Chops with Lemon-Mint Yogurt Sauce
Five Years Ago – Confetti Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette
Six Years Ago – Magret de Canard Provencal
Seven Years Ago – Strawberry & White Chocolate Fool Parfaits
Eight Years Ago – Grilled Lamb & Lemon Roasted Potatoes
Nine Years Ago – Spicy Olives

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

Do you love the snow or are you so over it? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2018

Saint Patrick’s Day Weekend Celebration Special

Éirinn go Brách – it’s time to celebrate. Saturday is Saint Patrick’s Day. With all this beautiful new snow –  you’ve gotta love it – a parade is not the answer. Throw on a green turtleneck and cap and head to the mountain. After a day on the slopes, relax and enjoy a cozy dinner with friends. 

Let’s start with a tasty appetizer. The Irish are justifiably proud of their smoked salmon. I can’t think of a better start to your dinner. Enjoy thinly sliced smoked salmon or Smoked Salmon Mousse on Irish Soda Bread.

Gather at the table for a lovely salad. Can I suggest – Roasted Carrot Salad. While not particularly Irish, it is delicious and sports the colors of the Irish flag.

Now, for the main course. Forget corned beef and cabbage. For a truly delicious Saint Paddy’s Day try my Guinness Lamb Shanks with a hunk of Irish Soda Bread or my Not-Really-Irish and Not-Really-French Potato Gratin. Unless you have a large crowd coming … then a big pot of stew might make more sense. If that’s the case, my Irish Lamb Stew is the answer.

Unless you’d prefer a simpler après ski supper. If that’s the case, stir up a pot of potato soup. (After all, the potato famine  sent our Irish ancestors to America in the first place.) Try my Potato & Cheddar Soup, Sausage, Kale & Potato Soup or Cheddar Ale Soup.

Ready for dessert? Dig into my warm and homey Apple Bread Pudding with Bourbon-Caramel Crème Anglaise – please feel free to switch out the Bourbon for Irish Whiskey. And finally, top off the evening with an Irish Coffee.

Have a great weekend and sláinte!

For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!!

What’s up with you this weekend? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! © Susan W. Nye, 2018

Saints, Sinners, Songsters & Scholars & Roasted Carrot Salad

Ireland has a long history of saints and sinners, songsters and scholars. Hundreds of impressive artistic, scientific, political and religious figures hail from the Emerald Isle. And yes, there have been a few scamps and scalawags. The roll call of luminaries is all the more impressive when you consider Ireland’s tiny population. Although it has had its ups and downs, less than five million people call Ireland home. By the way, close to thirty-five million Americans claim Irish roots.

Saint Patrick’s Day is this coming Saturday. In celebration, let’s name a few of the Ireland’s notable sons and daughters:

Established in 1662, students still memorize Robert Boyle’s Law (PV=K). In simple terms, Boyles’ Law shows that the relationship between volume and pressure is inversely proportionate. In other words, increase pressure and volume will shrink.

William Butler Yeats is remembered as one of the 20th century’s leading poets and playwrights. He received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1923. I think my dad in particular would appreciate a favorite Yeats’ quote … There are no strangers here; Only friends you haven’t yet met.

Add James Joyce to that list of influential authors. His masterpiece Ulysses is almost always on the list of top ten English language novels and frequently steals the number one slot. It may also have the dubious honor of being the most unread book of all time. Countless confessions suggest that while it can be found on millions of bookshelves, it is on almost as many to-read lists.

The Most Dangerous Woman in America, Mother Jones, was born in Ireland. After her husband and children died from yellow fever, she joined the labor movement. The passionate revolutionary coordinated strikes and helped found the Social Democratic Party and Industrial Workers of the World.

The original Typhoid Mary, Mary Mallon was fifteen years old when she left Ireland to cook for wealthy families in and around Manhattan. An asymptomatic carrier, Mary was the picture of health but infected scores of New Yorkers, a few of whom died. With no cure for typhoid, the health department quarantined Mary for more than twenty years. She died alone on North Brother Island.

In the tradition epic poets, Bono writes and sings tales of social injustice, poverty and politics. His band U2 has sold close to 160 million albums and won twenty-two Grammys plus a bunch of other awards. A noted humanitarian, he has met with princes and presidents and uses his celebrity to fight extreme poverty and disease.

And finally, the patron saint of Ireland, Saint Patrick was not actually Irish. A devote missionary from Britain, he traveled all over Ireland doing good works. Throughout his journey, he talked countless Irish into converting to Christianity. One other detail, he might not actually be a saint. Then again, maybe someone lost his paperwork. After all, it was a long time ago, the fifth century.

Now, to close – a toast for Saint Patrick and all the Irish –

To all the days here and after,
May they be filled with fond memories, happiness, and laughter.

Roasted Carrot Salad
Inspired by the colors of the Irish flag, sweet roasted carrots, peppery arugula and creamy goat cheese are a delicious combination. Enjoy!
Serves 8

4 large carrots, peeled and sliced on the diagonal
1 sweet onion, cut in half and then in thin wedges
Olive oil
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary
2-3 teaspoons sherry vinegar
12 ounces arugula
4-6 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Put the carrots and onion on a baking sheet, drizzle with enough olive oil to lightly coat, sprinkle with smoked paprika and season with salt and pepper. Toss to combine and spread the vegetables in a single layer. Roast uncovered at 400 degrees, stirring once or twice, for 15 minutes or until the vegetables are tender-crisp and lightly caramelized.

Transfer the vegetables to a bowl, sprinkle with garlic and rosemary, drizzle with sherry vinegar and toss to combine. Tossing a few times, let sit for 10-15 minutes.

Can be prepared ahead. The carrots and onion should be served warm or at room temperature.

To serve toss the arugula with enough Sherry Vinaigrette to lightly coat. Arrange the greens on a platter or individual plates, top with carrots and onion and sprinkle with goat cheese and walnuts.

Sherry Vinaigrette 1/4 cup sherry vinegar
1-2 cloves garlic
1 chunk (about 1×1 inch) red onion
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon anchovy paste
Dash hot sauce
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup or to taste extra virgin olive oil

Put the vinegar, garlic, onion, mustard, anchovy paste and hot sauce in a blender or small food processor, season with salt and pepper and process until very smooth.

With the motor running, slowly add olive oil to taste and continue processing until well combined.

Transfer the vinaigrette to a clean glass jar and let sit for 30 minutes. Give the vinaigrette a good shake before serving.

 

Store extra vinaigrette in the refrigerator.

Print-friendly version  of this post.

One Year Ago – Irish Lamb Stew
One Year Ago – Roasted Parsnips with Rosemary
Two Years Ago – Not-Really-Irish and Not-Really-French Potato Gratin
Three Years Ago – Zucchini Pancakes
Four Years Ago – Traditional Irish Soda Bread
Five Three Years Ago – Moroccan Chicken with Preserved Lemons
Six Years Ago – Grilled Strip Steak with Gorgonzola Sauce
Seven Years Ago – Linguine with Sundried Tomato Pesto & Roasted Eggplant
Eight Years Ago – Fettuccine with Classic Bolognese Sauce

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

How will you celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2018