It’s All About The Dip, No Lettuce!

Last week walking into my kitchen I was greeted by a strange sight. Liam was standing on a chair inside the refrigerator rifling through the top shelves. When I asked what he was trying to reach he said he wanted ingredients to cook his favorite salad dressing. How proud was I? Earlier in the week I had taught Liam a recipe for “Russian dressing” that my mother had passed down to me. Simply mix mayo and ketchup and voila! Two things every child loves combined to create a pink dipping sauce.

Clearly, our dressing is a loose interpretation of the real thing but it works for us. As for a real salad I’ve tried to introduce all sorts of lettuce with little success. So I’ve lowered my expectations and we now include any cut up vegetable with a dressing as a “salad.”

At our house, it’s not about the vegetable, it’s all about the dip. Even though Liam probably ate an obscene amount of mayonnaise that morning he also at two whole cucumbers in the process. A small victory for me and some green for him!

Sorta Salad

A salad that combines fruit, veg, healthy fat and some protein!

Ingredients

1 cup cucumber, diced

1 cup apple, diced (we prefer Fuji, Gala, or Honeycrisp for crunch!)

¼ cup shaved parmesan cheese

Dressing

Juice of one lemon

1 Tbsp maple syrup

1 tsp honey mustard

¼ cup olive oil

Salt & Pepper to taste

Method

Toss the cucumbers, apples and parmesan together in a mixing bowl and set aside.

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Whisk together the lemon juice, maple syrup, honey mustard and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle 2 Tbsp of the dressing over the cucumber/apple mixture and toss to combine.

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Refrigerate the remainder of the salad dressing in an airtight container. The dressing will keep for two weeks, just shake well before serving.

And the VERDICT is:

Matthew (age 8): “Yeah, I like it”

Liam (age 6): “Tastes like fruit”

Dylan (age 6): “It is just okay”

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Boomerang Generation

I flew the coop over 20 years ago. At the time my parents lived on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. My new apartment was a walk-up in a tenement across the park on the Upper East. It was far from fancy but it was all mine. I was finally independent, but if I ever needed anything they were just a crosstown bus away. Close but not too close. Fast forward to marriage and three children, and the coop is now coming back to me. Mom and Dad are moving to the burbs!

My kids could not be more thrilled to have Grandma and Grandpa as their new neighbors. For me, it will be an adjustment running into my parents at the local Starbucks, but it’s great to have a babysitter moving practically next door. Don’t worry Mom, we only need you to watch the boys every other weekend – 🙂

To celebrate their “return to the nest” we’re roasting a chicken this week. I’ve never roasted a whole bird before and it was surprisingly easy. This method was suggested by my local butcher. She said once I’ve got this mastered she’ll give me the secret to the perfect pork roast…

Citrus Roast Chicken

Ingredients

1 3/12-4 lb. whole roasting chicken, organic if possible

1-1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature

Coarse sea salt

Black pepper

½ orange, cut into wedges

1 lemon, cut into wedges

2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed

3-4 carrots, peeled, cut into 1” chunks

3 medium potatoes, cut into large chunks

1 Tbsp olive oil

Method

Preheat oven to 475 degrees.

Before cooking the chicken rinse in cold water. Then scrub the chicken inside and out with coarse salt. Then rinse again and pat dry. Make sure the chicken is completely dry, this will result in a crispy skin.

Rub the butter all over the chicken. And if you are feeling brave, gently loosen the skin on the breast side and add some butter underneath. It’s a little messy but I was told not to skip this step.

Once the butter is rubbed all over, liberally season with salt and pepper. Fill the cavity of the chicken with the orange, lemon and garlic. Place in roasting pan.

Toss the carrots and potatoes with the olive oil and some salt. Scatter around the chicken. Place in oven for 20 minutes. Then add about ½ cup of water to the pan and roast for another 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours, depending on size of chicken, basting once or twice. Add more liquid to pan if needed.

Chicken is ready when the juices run clear. Use an instant read thermometer to make sure internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. (Insert into thickest part of thigh)

Let rest for 5-10 minutes and serve.

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House of Bedlam Citrus Chicken

House of Bedlam Citrus Chicken

And the VERDICT is:             

Matthew (age 7): “Good chicken”

Liam (age 5): “Can I eat that lemon?”

Dylan (age 5): “Why is that lemon in there?”

Although not nearly as convenient, this was even better tasting than a rotisserie.

Mom & Dad, welcome to the neighborhood!

 

For my local readers:

Fairway Market presents Funny Food Art Workshop!

When: Sunday, September 21, 2014 from 1pm – 3pm

Where: Fairway Market in Pelham Manor, 847 Pelham Parkway, 914 633 6550

Fairway invites friends and families to come and have fun with their food as Bill Wurtzel, author of “Funny Food 365 Fun, Healthy, Silly, Creative Breakfast” teaches families how to create funny food art. Fairway will supply all healthy ingredients, including waffles, strawberries, raisins, pita, bananas and much more, as well as entertainment from the author, who is a jazz musician. Signed copies of the book will be available for purchase. Cost per participant is $1. Register at customer service or online at www.fairwaymarket.com.

This promises to be a fun event – hope to see you there!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Globe Trotting

This year for his 6th birthday Matthew asked for a spinning world thingie. Translation: a globe. It has been a lot of fun pointing out all the exotic places he has traveled. So far, about five in total; New Jersey being one of them. The world has really opened up for him and it is exciting to watch. He now has ambitions to travel to the North Pole and his second favorite continent, besides North America, is Australia. Maybe because it is so large, his little finger always ends up on that one.

He can now see where his Daddy is traveling to when he goes away for work. And he can pinpoint Israel, where his Aunt Lisa, lives. It is a destination we point to several times a week. He wants to know when we will visit and I explain to him that even the THOUGHT of traveling 5500 miles on an airplane with him and his brothers is enough to have me committed. Well, not in those exact words…

Good thing she comes to visit us twice a year – Because I am not sure I would survive the 12-hour flight just yet, but SOON we will brave it (I promise, sis!) In the meantime I can bring him a little of the local culture by way of food. If I had my way we’d make a layover in Italy on the way there, so I am combining the two.

Israeli Cous Cous  – Italian Style

Ingredients:

2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes (you will have xtra for another dish)

1/4-cup olive oil, plus 2 Tbsp

1 cup Israeli cous cous

1 lemon, juice of

1 Tbsp capers, with some of the brine

2 scallions, sliced, reserve some for garnish

1 jar or can of Tonno tuna with oil, drained and flaked

Salt & Pepper

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss the tomatoes with 2 Tbsp of the olive oil and spread in one layer on baking sheet, season with salt.

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Roast for approximately 25-30 minutes until charred in spots and tomatoes are ready to burst. Shake the pan about halfway through. (Note: this step can be done in advance, refrigerate tomatoes in airtight container)

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Meanwhile, cook the cous cous according to package directions. While the cous cous is cooking combine the rest of the olive oil, lemon juice, capers, scallions, tuna, and tomatoes in a large bowl.

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Let cous cous cool slightly and then add to tuna mixture. Gently combine, and add salt and pepper to taste.  Add remaining scallions to garnish.

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And the VERDICT is:

Matthew (age 6): “Nope, do NOT like it”

Liam (age 4): “I DO like it”

Dylan (age 4): “I only like the white ball parts”

Since Liam only had two bites, I am suspicious he was just trying to butter me up for the ice cream bars he had spotted in the freezer… And ironically Matthew ate the most of anyone even though he didn’t like it, he must have been hungry.

Mah Jongg

When I was a little girl my mother used to play Mah Jongg with a group of women from the neighborhood. I remember loving the nights when my mother hosted and the “ladies” (as my sister and I referred to them) would descend upon our house to smack down tiles, smoke cigarettes and gossip in loud raspy voices. We would get to stay up extra late and sneak bites of whatever treats my mother had in bowls around the card table.

Now that I have children of my own, I realize what a great idea my mom had to organize game nights. After a long day with three kids, adult company is a much-needed respite. Upon moving to the suburbs, I was lucky to connect with a great group of “ladies” who also love to play. We all learned Mah Jongg together and have been laughing, gossiping, eating, and drinking going on three years now. The only thing missing from the scene of my childhood are the cigarettes and those bright orange cheese doodles my mom always placed out.

Most of the girls in our group like to cook and we all love to eat. So when it is my week to host it is always fun to try a new recipe and see how the “ladies” like it. This week I am trying baba ghanoush.

BABA GHANOUSH

Ingredients:

2 Large Eggplant

2 cloves garlic, minced (or 4 cloves roasted)

1 tsp Kosher salt

3 Tbsp Tahini

3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice (about 1 small lemon)

3 Tbsp olive oil

2 Tbsp flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped, plus more for garnish

(we only had dried parsley flakes which worked fine, just use less)

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Prick eggplant with a fork and place on a baking sheet.

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Bake the eggplant until it is soft inside, and outside is black and wrinkled, about 45 minutes.

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Let the eggplant cool. Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise, scoop the pulp into a colander and let liquid drain. Transfer eggplant to mixing bowl and mash with a fork.

On a cutting board, work garlic and 1/2 teaspoon salt together with the flat side of a knife, until it forms a paste. Add the garlic-salt mixture to the eggplant. Stir in the tahini, lemon juice, olive oil and parsley.

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Season with more salt, to taste. Garnish with additional parsley.

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And the VERDICT is:

(the names have been changed to protect the innocent)

Dorothy: I like it because it is not too spicy, pretty good

Blanche: I have an eggplant in my fridge, maybe I will try this

Rose: I am on a diet….

The Boys: It was unanimous – “Mommy, it looks like POOP!”