Sunday, March 1, 2015

Very Light Napa Cabbage Salad

Today a very light and easy salad.

I used to buy Napa (also called Chinese) cabbage very often and made many salads with it. However, somehow drawn to different types of lettuce available those days I forgot about Napa cabbage for a while.

I made this salad this winter and tested it on my vegetarian friends over Christmas. They enthusiastically approved this recipe for sharing. Yesterday, I served it again and a young friend asked me for the recipe.

This salad has some exotic flavors thanks to mango and jicama. Both are those days widely available in all grocery stores. Jicama, which has a very delicate taste, gives mostly crunchiness and mango brings about the sweet taste to the salad.

This salad can be served alone but it goes even better with all kinds of meats, especially grilled.

Napa Cabbage Salad

1 medium Napa cabbage (about 2 pounds),
1 small jicama peeled and sliced julienne,
2 mangoes peeled,
1/2 red onion sliced,
2 tbsp roasted pumpkin seeds,

For the dressing:
Juice from 2 limes,
2 tbsp running honey,
1 tbsp Sherry vinegar,
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil,
salt and pepper to taste.

1. Cut the cabbage in half and slice thinly. Place it in a medium bowl.
2. Add sliced onion and jicama.
3. Cut out large slices of mango avoiding the hard parts around the seed and slice them more thinly. Add to the cabbage.

4. To make a dressing mix, in a small bowl mix lime juice, honey, vinegar, olive oil, and add a bit of salt and pepper.
5. Pour the dressing over the cabbage. Toss gently and let it infuse for 10 minutes.
6. Sprinkle with pumpkin seeds and serve.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Upside Down Apple Cake

This cake is a prefect dessert for today's weather as it tastes best when it is warm. And it is also very easy to make. It is neither a typical tart Tatin nor a true upside down cake. It is rather a combination of both. The crust of this cake is soft like in upside down cakes but it is much thinner, more like in tart Tatin, and a little bit similar to muffins in texture.

My son, who is a lover of all simple apple cakes, praised it very much and had half of it before it cooled down. You can serve it with a dollop of crême fraîche, sour cream , or whipped cream, which will melt slightly on the warm soft apples and taste great.

Upside Down Apple Cake

3 Golden Delicious or Granny Smith apples peeled, cored, and sliced in thin half moons,
3 tbsp unsalted butter,
1/2 cup light brown sugar,
1 cup all purpose flour,
1/4 cup granulated sugar,
1 tsp baking powder,
1/2 tsp baking soda,
1/2 tsp salt,
5 tbsp cold unsalted butter cut in cubes,
1/2 cup butter milk.

1. Preheat oven to 425F.
2. Heat the butter on a heavy duty frying pan until foam forms. Add sugar, mix, and spread the mixture on the bottom of a 10-inch baking pan.
3. Arrange the apples on top of the mixture.

4. Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and soda in a food processor. Add butter and pulse until it turns into crumbles. Add buttermilk and pulse until the dough is all moist.
5. Drop the dough on top of the apples and spread, leaving an inch-wide space around it.

6. Bake for about 30 minutes until top is dark gold. Cool the cake slightly and turn upside down on a serving plate.

Serve warm.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Lemon Grass and Chicken Thai Soup

In the past couple of months I have been exploring the secrets of Thai cuisine. One of my friends from our yoga class is Thai. Sometimes we talk about food before classes so I asked her if she was willing to teach me a couple of Thai dishes. She said she was not a pro or chef but would be happy to teach me home made Thai food that she learned from her mother and grandmother. That was exactly what I dreamed of.

My friend turned out to be a great, very meticulous teacher. During our three meetings she taught me several basic Thai dishes that became already my family's favorites. I have learned that Thai cuisine is easy, simple, and very fresh. Even coconut milk curries are light, and the vegetables used in them still crispy. And you can have the most delicious dish with just three ingredients.

Last Thursday, she showed me how to make one of classic Thai soups--lemon grass and chicken soup. In no more than ten minutes a bowl of light and fragrant soup was on the table.

Lemon Grass and Chicken Soup
(Serves four)

1 organic, chicken breast fillet, thinly sliced,
2-3 heaping tbsp. of Tom Yum paste (available at Asian food stores),
8 white mushrooms, washed and sliced,
4 sweet lime leaves,
1 stalk lemon grass,
3 branches of fresh coriander (leaves only),

1. In a medium pot bring to boil 6 cups of water.
2. Cut out green parts from lemon grass and cut the white parts into diagonal slices. Add them to the boiling water.
3. Add tom yum paste and teared lime leaves. Let it all cook for about 3 minutes to release the flavors.
4. Add sliced chicken breast and cook for about 2 minutes (if you cook it for too long the breasts become hard)
5. Finally, add sliced mushrooms. Let them cook for one more minute and turn off the the heat.
6. Add cilantro leaves and serve the soup hot.