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postcard from home

 
 
Dear Emm,

I know you hate walnuts (well you've explained this to me, you just hate walnuts in yogurt), but I happen to love the combination and tonight's dinner was a light one, since mom and I ate rather late.   But, as we know, there is no better yogurt than Fage. My life completely changed when Fage began selling it's yogurt in American supermarkets.  I remember spending my last night of my summer vacation in Greece, eating a Fage yogurt with honey and savoring every last mouthful, because I knew it would be at least a year or two before I had a chance to enjoy a bowl again. 

Oh, and just so you know, I think one of these days I'll have to make a tzatziki, and it's going to blow yours out of the water ;)

Ingredients.
Fage Greek yogurt (the imitation brands are just not the same)
Walnuts
Blueberries
Honey (I used a honey brought back from Greece) 

I used the 2% yogurt, since I find the full fat one a bit too heavy & rich sometimes.  Plus, I'm trying to lose some weight as beach season has tendency to just come creeping out of no where, hence the lack of carbs in my dinners thus far.  As much as I would like to try some of my dessert recipes (since desserts are also my favorite to make), desserts will have to wait.  Speaking of desserts, I came across this amazing carrot cake recipe today from one of my favorite food bloggers, Cafe Fernando and I can't wait to try making it (one day).  The shredded coconut is genius! 
 
Filakia,
Meli

Ps. I played around with the settings today on my camera, and I think I finally figured out how to make close up shots! I'm still not where I want to be with these photos, but I think it's an improvement. 
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Dear Emm,

Tonight I made a lentil salad with whatever was left in the fridge and it actually came out really well. Mom's reaction: "Mmmmm. This is delicious. I love all the flavors!" She ate it up and had seconds and thirds and I had to stop her from digging in again! 

Ingredients.
2 cups of lentils (soak overnight)
5 leaves of bok choy
4 leaves of purple cabbage
12 stems of cilantro
1 head of broccoli
  2 large carrots
1/2 medium cucumber
1 yellow tomato
1 sprig of celery
1 shallot
1 handful of walnuts
1 handful of crumbled feta 
1 boiled egg (I boiled it really soft and the runny yolk covered the salad nicely)
1 clove of garlic
olive oil 

Dressing.
1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard 
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove of garlic
1 inch piece of ginger (size of my thumb)
1/5 of an avocado
dried oregano
salt & pepper
 
Since I soaked the lentils overnight I only cooked them for about 10 minutes, and I could have actually cooked them for less.  Into the cooking pot with lentils I added about 4 cups of water, some olive oil and some salt.  Next, I cut up the broccoli into small pieces and sauteed them in a warm pan coated with olive oil and some garlic for less than 5 minutes (I still wanted them crunchy). At the same time, I also boiled an egg on the stove.   

While cooking the lentils I diced up the bok choy, cabbage, cilantro, carrots, cucumber, tomato, celery and shallot and placed the cut pieces in a large bowl.  Then of course, I used your technique of cutting the pieces even more with scissors.    

Once the lentils (drain the water of course), broccoli and egg were cooked, I added these to my salad mix.

Then, to make the dressing I mashed the garlic and ginger into a paste in a small bowl, added the remaining ingredients and mixed it all together.  Finally, I added the walnuts and feta, mixed in the salad dressing and voila, bon appetit!

Oh, and ps. I know you don't like celery, but I promise you can't even taste it :)

Filakia,
Meli
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Dear Emm,

Last night my mother and I were talking about what should be on tonight's menu for dinner, and we decided some kind of grilled fish with a nice big salad.  I went to the grocery store today to see what fish looked good, and I decided on some wild caught Salmon (unfortunately it wasn't fresh, but previously frozen).  

I came home and tried to think up some inspiration for the salmon.  My first thought was to just grill it with some dill like we did at your house the last time I was there, but then I got a bit fancy. The marinade I came up with wasn't as flavorful as I thought it would be, but I think it's because I overcooked the salmon and I didn't let the marinade sit long enough on the salmon. And of course, I couldn't get away from the Harissa paste once again tonight! 

On the other hand, my mother and I really loved the dressing on the asparagus and the salad, so that made up for it I guess!

Best part was, mommy did the clean-up while I sat and wrote this entry.   

Grilled salmon with  garlic-ginger avocado marinade

Ingredients.
1 lb of salmon
Fresh (or dried) dill
2 cloves of garlic
1 inch (size of my thumb) of ginger
3 slices of avocado
1/2 large lemon (you'll use the other half for the salad dressing)
Sea salt and pepper

Cover salmon with dill and sprinkle salt and pepper.  Next, mash garlic and ginger into a paste. I used a wooden pestle again.  Combine the avocado and lemon into same bowl. Cover the salmon on both sides with marinade and place on hot grill and let cook for about 8 minutes (4 minutes each side). 

Pan fried asparagus
1 bunch of asparagus
Sprinkle of feta cheese 
1 shallot, diced (1/2 for dressing and 1/2 to sprinkle on top at the end)
2 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
3 teaspoons of olive oil
1/2 teaspoon of oregano 
1/2 large lemon
Salt and pepper

Combine ingredients into a bowl (mustard, olive oil, oregano, lemon, s & p) and beat with fork until even consistency.  Pan fry the asparagus for about 5 minutes (I like my asparagus a bit crunchy still instead of wilted).  Also, before frying, remember to cut the bottoms of the asparagus.  I used a trick my mom taught me. Instead of cutting them simple snap them towards the bottom where they 'naturally' snap. It will make sense if you try it a few times. 

Before pouring the dressing on top, set aside to asparagus spears for the salad.  I combined the dressing with what had remained of the avocado marinade for the salmon).  Don't forget to save about half the dressing for the salad!  Final touch,  sprinkle some feta cheese and the remaining shallot at the end. 


Mixed greens salad
Mixed green mix (I used Olivia's Asian salad mix and it was delicious!)
1 red and 1 yellow tomato
Kalamata olives (I used 4)
2 asparagus spears (left over from above) 
 Sprinkle of feta
Dressing from pan fried asparagus 

Combine ingredients in a bowl, add dressing and mix!  I find salads so fun to make.  They're easy, I love combining different colors and combinations of vegetables together and a light dressing can make all the difference!

I can see I still have plenty of progress to make learning how to take food pictures and also on the presentation :) 

Filakia,
M
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Dear Emm,

To innaguarate my mother's first night back last night and our first night together in the house in over a year, I decided to really venture into unknown territory.  I've never cooked with tumeric before and I had been eyeying this Vietnamese salad recipe from GOOP for quite a while. I usually just  use recipes as inspiration to come up with my own, usually making just a few changes to make the recipe just how I want. 

Making this turned out to be really fun, although a bit time consuming.  I'm loving taking my time in the kitchen and really mindfully cooking, a bit of a lost art I would say these days.

Mom's reaction: 'I love all the colors in the salad, and the chicken is really juicy and flavorful."

I'm still learning how to take better looking food pictures, so please forgive the amateur photos :)
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And now, the recipe!  This is enough for two people. 

Vietnamese Salad (adapted from Goop)

Ingredients.
1 large carrots
4 leaves of bok choy
4 leaves of purple cabbage
1/2 medium cucumber
8 stems of cilantro (coriander) 
8 stems of mint
a few slices of avocado
toasted sesame seeds

Dressing.
2 Tbs sesame oil
2 Tbs rice vinegar
1 small lime 
2 cloves of garlic
1 sq inch of ginger (half the size of my thumb)
1 shallot, diced
2 drops of Harissa paste (see bottom of post)
1 drop of Agave nectar  (optional)
a sprinkle of sea salt

Cut bok choy, cabbage, cucumber, cilantro, and mint into as tiny slices as you'd like.  I used Emm's approach of using scissors towards the end.  I find this to be the easiest and most effective way to cut your salad up and it looks quite professional.  Add to bowl with few slices of avocado. 

Next, comes the dressing! Combine sesame oil, rice vinegar, harissa paste, Agave nectar and diced shallot into a small bowl.  Squeeze the juice of one lime.  With the garlic and ginger, turn into a paste  (I used a mortar and pestle) and add to  bowl.  Add a sprinkle of sea salt (of course you can use more if you'd like).  

Add dressing to salad and mix.  Finally sprinkle some toasted sesame seeds and voila!


Tumeric Chicken

Ingredients.
2 chicken breasts (you can use thighs as well)
1/2 teaspoon of coconut butter (i like to cook with this, but you can use whatever oil suites you)
1/3 of large onion, sliced
Gomasio (will be used to sprinkle on chicken at the end)

For paste/marinade. 
2 garlic cloves (i love of garlic!), cut into small pieces
2 sq inches of ginger (its about the size of my thumb), cut into small pieces
1 teaspoon of tumeric (could have used more actually, can also use fresh tumeric which would probably make this recipe even tastier)
1/2 lemon
2 drops of Harissa 
1 shallot, diced
3-4 stems of cilantro
 
Combine all ingredients of paste into a blender, except cilantro and tumeric.  Blend it all up! Pour paste into a plastic bag (I used a Ziploc sandwich bag).  Dice cilantro into small pieces and add to bag.  Add tumeric. 

Now, add your chicken into the plastic bag and use your fingers to rub into the chicken.  I did this for about a minute, but if I had more time, I think this would have been a great marinade to let the chicken sit in for a few hours at least. 

Grab a medium pan and place on low heat.  I added my coconut butter and next I added my sliced onions.  I let simmer for a few minutes before adding the chicken.   Cook each side for about 4 minutes.  I like my chicken juicy, rather than overcooked so I prefer to stick to 4 minutes a side.  My chicken breasts were really thin however (about 1/2 the size of a normal chicken breast). 

And there you have it!  Wish you could have been here to enjoy over a glass of red wine!

Filakia,
Meli 
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Vietnamese Salad Dressing
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Vietnamese Salad
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Tumeric Paste
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Tumeric Chicken Cooking
Emm bought me this Harissa paste during my last trip in Brussels.  Harissa is a staple in North African cuisine and I have to say it's become one of my favorite condiments lately.  I was able to find it online here, but I was also able to find a good recipe to make your own, and that's exactly what I'm planning on doing once I run out of my two tubes of Harissa!
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    Abt

     I have been collecting recipes ever since I can remember from magazines, cookbooks, friends, my family and my travels. 

    Now I finally have the space, both physically and mentally, to experiment in the kitchen and chronicle what happens. 

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