Category Archives: salad dressings

Thai Cucumber Salad and Generous Friends

thai cucumber salad
It’s probably been five weeks since I posted here. I’ve been cooking plenty, but it’s been of the utilitarian type–meals my friends would (and sometimes are) still delighted to join in on, but that I’ve either posted before, or that I didn’t plate well, or that we were in a hurry to eat. That’s the true life behind a food blog–very little of what is produced makes it on here.

I’ve made Tutto Mare (for my man’s parents while they visited for three weeks in my house–another reason I’ve been absent), eggplant parmasean (without frying the eggplant but with a stick of butter in the sauce), flank steak with chimichurri sauce (for which I already owe you a recipe–noted!), cookies, Chinese desserts involving potatoes and ginger, pesto, and a million other things. Between the house guests and my day job and my latest quest to drink only disgusting green purees of things, there’s not much time to write or much worth writing about.

Now about generous friends. Usually when I post to Red Blossom Tea I’m talking about P. This time I’m talking about his sister Alice–I owe her big time. Every time I drop into the shop she seems to have some treat to share with me, we talk cheese, we talk travel, we talk food and wine. I took the visiting pseudo-in-laws to the shop and came home with a gigantic bag of washed, ready to use, beautiful mature arugula which I’ve put to several uses over the last two weeks–yes, it’s lasted two weeks and still looks gorgeous!

I’ve made arugula pesto, added it to one of my disgusting green smoothies, mixed it into bruschetta, blanched it and served it with eggs poached in tomato sauce, and even used it in this thai cucumber salad recipe. Thanks Alice!

mature arugula grown in bay area garden

raw green smoothie

This is why I haven’t been posting. While writing this enry, I drank this green smoothie of apples, carrots, spinach and a dash of whole lemon and tried really hard to pretend it was baked french toast with mascarpone cream.

Thai Cucumber Salad
Serves 4-6 with possible leftovers as a side

2 medium cucumbers, preferably unwaxed persians
1/4 red onion
1 large watermelon radish or other radish totaling the size of a small peach
1/2 C arugula, chopped
2 tsp sesame seeds, toasted
1/4 C seasoned rice vinegar
1 T sugar
1 tsp salt

Mix the vinegar, sugar, and salt and microwave for 30 seconds, stir to combine. Set aside.

Prepare your cucumber- if waxed/thick skinned, trim the ends, and peel most of the skin off leaving bright green behind, cut in half and remove the seeds with a spoon from each side. If using edible peel, simply remove ends and cut in half, removing seeds.  Using a mandolin or a very patient hand, slice into 1/8th inch thick slices. Place in a serving bowl. Next, slice 1/8th or thinner slices of red onion using the mandolin. Peel off any tough outer layers before doing so. Add to cucumber bowl. Peel the watermelon radish (no need to peel other types), cut in half, and slice thinly with the mandolin.

Toss everything with the vinegar mixture, add sesame seeds and arugula at the end. Serve immediately or refrigerate up to two weeks, so long as everything is coated in vinegar. Makes a quick refrigerator pickle that is tasty right away or later on. You can also store in jars with more vinegar up to a couple months if refrigerated.

A fine weeknight dinner for two – endive salad & filet mignon with marsala mushroom sauce


filet mignon with creamy marsala mushroom sauce

Sometimes you just feel like a good meal, and if you can cook, you know you can either make a much nicer one for less money at home, or something better than what you could eat out. So, when my gentleman asked me what I’d like to do that evening, I said, “cook.”

For the Steak
2 filet mignons of a size appropriate to you
1/2 lb crimini or other meaty mushrooms, diced
1/2 leek, sliced finely and sauteed in butter, set aside
dry sherry
leftover bechamel sauce or some cream if you’re desperate (or make a roux and add some milk and salt)

Heat the oven to 375. Using a metal skillet (not non stick) big enough for both steaks, heat enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan and add 1-2 T butter, melting at high heat. Salt & pepper the raw steaks. Add to the pan, cooking on one side until browned (about 2 minutes). Flip the steaks, cook 2 more minutes and then without moving the steaks, put the whole pan in the oven. For medium/medium rare, it should take about as long as it takes to make the sauce (5-8 minutes).

In a sautee pan of your choosing, heat 1-2 T butter until melted. Add the chopped mushrooms, cooking at medium heat until slightly shriveled and browned. Raise heat slightly and add 1/2 C sherry, cooking until mostly reduced. Add the bechamel sauce, warming and combining. Add salt & pepper to taste, keep warm.

I served this with wilted spinach (zest of 1 small lemon, juice of same lemon, into a big, hot pan), and couscous (cooked in vegetable stock).

endive salad with bleu cheese, bosc pear, candied lime walnuts

For the salad
2 endives, cleaned and trimmed into seperate leaves
1/3 C candied walnuts (or plain ones, but why bother with going halfway?)
1 bosc pear (or apple, etc), sliced thinly
Blue cheese
Juice of 1 lemon
1-2 tsp walnut oil

Whisk lemon juice and blue cheese together. Use a bit of heat if necessary, the dressing should be fairly thick. Add oil and salt & pepper. Taste and adjust. Dress the endive leaves and assemble on plates, alternating with pear slices. Add more blue cheese crumbles on top and place the walnuts into the salad.

Salmon Cream Cheese Wontons & Spicy Persimmon Slaw

home made salmon cream cheese wontons

spicy persimmon cabbage salad

Inspired by Wild Ginger in Cambria, CA, these wontons are tasty, filling finger food; the slaw helps to cut the fat and is a nice fall accompaniment. They’re also a really convenient way to use up any leftover wonton skins and leftover salmon.

For 12-16 wontons

Square wonton skins
1/3 lb salmon, cooked (grilled, broiled, whatever)
1/4 C cream cheese (I prefer Gina Marie from Sierra Nevada Cheese Co)
1-2 tsp brown rice vinegar
1/8 tsp five spice powder
lots of safflower/sunflower/other high eat oil for frying

Shred the salmon and mix with room temperature cream cheese. Add rice vinegar, five spice powder, and a pinch of salt to taste. Set aside for up to 2 hours or refrigerate up to 2 days ahead. Use 1T per wonton wrapper and moisten wrapper with spray bottle. Fold diagonally and seal, then bring end points together and seal. Fry at medium high heat, testing a piece of wonton skin first, until evenly golden.

Spicy Persimmon Cabbage Slaw

1/2 head cabbage, chopped somewhat finely
1 persimmon, sliced thinly
2 tsp gochujang or other chili paste such as harissa
juice of 1 lime
1/4 tsp ground cumin

Whisk gochujang, lime juice, cumin and salt; toss cabbage and persimmon in mixture and let set 10 minutes before serving, or up to 1 hour.

Oven baked babyback ribs to fall off the bone all year long + mango slaw

Oven baked babyback ribs

Rack of ribs cooked in oven babyback

I know it’s barbecue season and all, but the nice little disc that distributes the heat on my gas grill pretty much withered away to dust all of the sudden, and I’m grill-less unless I want to bother with the whole charcoal thing, which most of the time just takes way too much planning.

And so, after my latest grocery impulse buy–a rack of ribs–I had to come up with somethin’ new.

Oven Baked Ribs

1 rack (or more! hey! who’s to stop you) babyback pork ribs

For the spice rub:
1/4 C brown sugar
1 T paprika
2 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp berbere mix if you can get your hands on some

Mix it up and rub it on the ribs generously. Let sit overnight in the fridge with it on or at room temp at least 30 minutes.

Make a loose foil packet for the ribs and bake at 300 degrees for 2 1/2 hours.

When rib meat is pulled away from bone, dress top in bbq sauce (store bought in my case) and stick under the broiler meaty side up for a few minutes until bubbly and caramelized.

Mango Slaw

Mango Slaw

1/2 cucumber,seeded and sliced thinly
1/4 mango, julienned
1/4 jicama tuber, julienned
1/8th head red cabbage, sliced thinly
1/4 carrot, sliced thinly in wafers
2 radishes, quartered and sliced thinly
juice of 1/2 lime
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp walnut oil
1 tsp sushi vinegar or other vinegar
pinch salt

Whisk together last 5 ingredients and add all other ingredients. This’ll be fine the next day too but I prefer it immediately.

5 spice salmon & asian mixed vegetable salad

five spice salmon

asian salad with fennel and broccoli stems

Thanks to P for the inspiration.

This dish is extremely quick to prepare if you have the right equipment (a mandolin or julienne tool) and 100% doable on a weekday. Took me about 15 minutes, healthy, tasty, and very presentable.

For the Salmon

1/3 lb salmon per person, fillet, non farmed
5 spice powder
berbere spice mixture or a bit of cayenne

Salt the salmon, let sit for a couple of minutes. Dust the fleshiest side of the salmon in five spice powder and then top with 1/3 as much berbere or cayenne or other similar mixture.

For the Asian Mixed Vegetable Salad

2 broccoli stalks, trimmed and peeled w/ veg peeler
2 radishes, quartered and sliced thinly
1/4 bulb fennel, shaved on mandolin
1/2 cucumber, peeled, cored and sliced thinly
4 leaves butter lettuce, roughly ripped into 1-2 inch squares or so
1 pink pluot, in 1/2 inch cubes
1 dark plumb, in 1/2 inch cubes
2T seasoned rice vinegar
1T walnut oil or other fragrant nut oil
1T sesame seeds or gomashi
salt to taste

Julienne broccoli stems (hopefully you have a mandolin type contraption to do this) and mix all ingredients together!