20 Minute Dinner Tuna Salad with Iron Skillet Sourdough-Parmesan Croutons Easy-as-This #29

There are tuna salads and Tuna Salads…and not all are created equal. The common link is usually a can of tuna. High in protein, very common and easy to find, canned tuna is one of my basic pantry staples. Combined with fresh greens, avocado, feta cheese, tomatoes, boiled eggs and a can of tuna makes one of our basic go-to meals….fresh and healthy.

Cans of tuna can vary greatly in quality, taste and how they are packed. I’m a big fan of “Ortiz Bonito Del Norte“. This  tuna is packed in olive oil and is line caught. Large chunks of firm tuna that are not chopped up and mealy with a sublime flavor are the hallmarks of this brand. Where do I find it? World Market where I now do a regular pantry staple grocery store run once a month. Pasta sauces, good spices, olive oils and cans of tuna, sardines and anchovies, not to mention their beer selection and candies. They are not paying me to say this. I don’t even know anyone who works at World Market, but when I find a good thing I like to share.

The can itself is a piece of art. Don’t you agree?

Top salad off with iron skillet Parmesan croutons and you’ve got a meal that takes about 20 minutes from the start to the first bite…it’s as Easy-as-This.

20 Minutes Dinner Salad with Sour Dough-Parmesan Croutons

Ingredients:

  • One can  Ortiz Bonito del Norte Tuna packed in olive oil, lightly drained
  • a handful of arugula or other green
  • one ripe avocado, cut into chunks
  • two cooked eggs, peeled and cut in half
  • 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes cut in half
  • Feta cheese chunks/crumbles to taste
  • a chunk of sour dough bread cut into cubes
  • olive oil
  • Parmesan cheese freshly grated
  • any Mexican spice blend that contains oregano or any other favorite spice blend
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Fresh lemon juice and/or your favorite vinaigrette dressing

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss chunks of sour dough bread with some olive oil to lightly coat and add to an iron skillet. Top with grated Parmesan cheese and spice blend. Stick in the open to crisp up for about 8 minutes. Remove from oven. While croutons are baking make the salads.
  2. Add half of each ingredient to two shallow bowls. Add a grinding of black pepper and shake of sea salt.
  3. Serve salads topped with a squeeze of lemon juice and/or a light drizzle of the dressing. Sprinkle crisp croutons on top. Start to finish 20 minutes!

Teresa Blackburn     www.teresablackburnfoodstyling.com

Rabbits-Love-Rainbow Carrots with Maple-Balsamic-Orange Glaze….Don’t They? E.A.T #28

I think I might be part rabbit…my ears are kinda pointy….I twitch my nose at good and bad smells…I have been accused of hopping around all over the place…not to mention my affinity for carrots. I like them shredded, cut into coins, added to soups and salads, fresh from the ground with a little bit of dirt still clinging to them and roasted lightly glazed with a quick maple syrup, balsamic vinegar and fresh orange juice concoction. Spring carrots tender and sweet lend themselves to such a simple, easy-as-this, recipe. A very appropriate addition to an Easter dinner.

One bag each of large and/or small, easy to find and trendy rainbow carrots sliced down the middle from top to bottom, tossed in olive oil and sprinkled with Flower Pepper from Food Sheriff and flakey Maldon sea salt…..a great finger food or side dish. Roasted, glazed and served garnished with toasted, chopped pecans. It’s as easy-as-this.

Happy Easter, Happy Spring, Happy Life.

Rainbow Carrots with a Maple-Balsamic-Orange Glaze

Ingredients:

  • 1 to 2 bags of rainbow carrots, any size, tops trimmed and peeled, cut in half lengthwise
  • olive oil, a few tablespoons
  • Flower Pepper or any other good freshly ground pepper
  • flakey sea salt such as Maldon
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup real maple syrup
  • the juice from one small orange
  • Garnish – toasted and chopped pecans

Directions:

  1. Turn oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Toss prepped carrots in olive oil and spread out on one or two baking sheets.  Season with pepper and salt to taste.
  3. Roast for 10 minutes.
  4. While carrots are roasting mix together the balsamic vinegar, maple syrup and orange juice.
  5. After 10 minutes remove baking sheet with carrots from the oven and drizzle with half the glaze. Return pan to oven to roast carrots just until “fork-tender”. Remove pan from oven.
  6. Serve carrots with remaining glaze and pecans.

Teresa Blackburn    http://www.teresablackburnfoodstyling.com

 

Food for Thought – Ode to “Mudbound” and Memory

I was going to post about salt this week, but I watched a movie instead. The movie is profoundly moving and made me start thinking about my past and present. “Mudbound” is  the movie I am talking about. Have you seen it?

Personal memory can often seem like a movie script. I think we all  carry images that seem like they are both real and unreal, with a filmy overlay softening what our minds can cope with at any given time. Good memories and troubling ones at the same time. Movies can provide structure and meaning to memories, movies can bring light to those  things kept hidden, movies are coping mechanisms.

These are the things that were remembered while watching “Mudbound”….

Riding to my “whites only” school in my “whites only” school bus in the early morning passing the “blacks only” school. Looking out the window, on my way to a classic American style brick school with new books, a packed library and good hot lunches….at what was basically a shack set up off the ground on brick-o blocks sitting on a flat dirt yard with no trees for shade, no ceiling fans, no new school books, no kitchen for hot lunches. No paint and barely a front door. A few black children playing in the dusty yard. I did not know until much later that the new books we were given at the first of every school year…the social  studies, history, geography books…would be the books used by those children next year. The cast offs, the written in. Our doodles and marks would be passed on.

My best friend’s grandfather owned the Esso station in our small community. It was where, on long summer days and after school we would go to get a Coke and Moon Pie and just hang out a bit listening to gossip and goofing off. It was where the bathroom door marked “Colored” was seldom used.

I had never been inside a black person’s  home until an accident called for it. While  riding in car…a big, old black Ford that still had the scratchy seats,  roll down windows and no car seats….that I accidentally, while the car driven by my uncle was slowly making a curve in the gravel country road, pushed down on the front door handle and fell out! Not completely, as I held on to the dashboard for dear life. My eyes were full of dust and debris from the gravel. Stopping the car he took me to the nearest house. I do not know who the woman was, but her house was like a “Mudbound” shack. She welcomed us in and she washed out my eyes and soothed me. My uncle knew her and she was kind. I had also never really looked at an elderly black person before as we were always told “not to stare”. But this woman’s face is forever etched in my memory. She was white-haired and very dark with lovely soft eyes that were bloodshot. Her house smelled like woody smoke and was dark with few windows, but a front porch and flowers. No electricity nor indoor plumbing. Her light was kerosene lanterns. There were doilies on all the furniture. I have always had a silly and ridiculous affection for the idea of a “shack”.

For me “Mudbound” was personal. For Wouter, who is from Amsterdam, I think more a horrify bit of American history that never ceases to stun him. It is a heartbreaker, it is a historical sore laid open, it is both very beautiful and ugly. It is so worth seeing. It’s Oscar time…watch a movie.

 

 

Goan Coconut Chicken and Vegetables, E.A.T #27

I like to make cozy at-home dinners, but on the other hand, I do not like to spend hours in the kitchen on my weekends. I enjoy making soups and stews, one-pot meals that can be quickly put together using good ingredients that aren’t too fussy. I also feel I have gotten into a culinary rut…always making the same things over and over….I mixed it up a bit with this recipe.

 With one jar of Goan Coconut Indian simmer sauce and a few other ingredients….boneless skinless chicken thighs, a can of unsweet coconut milk, baby Yukon Gold potatoes and carrots……cubed paneer cheese and chapati bread from the International Grocery Store inside the Downtown Nashville Farmer’s Market…all slow cooked together, I recently made what is now one of my favorite “Easy-As-This” meals.

There are many good jarred or canned simmer sauces available in most supermarkets and international markets these days. Maya Kaimal is one of the brands I’ve used. There are many flavors…Korma, Tikka Masala as well as Goan Coconut . All delicious.

 

Goan Coconut Chicken and Vegetables

  • Difficulty: easy-as-this
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Ingredients:

  • 2 to 3 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 3 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 jar Maya Kaimal Goan Coconut simmer sauce, or any other brand
  • 1 can unsweet coconut milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 12 baby Yukon Gold Potatoes, quartered
  • 4 carrots, cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 cup cubed paneer cheese
  • freshly ground black pepper and sea salt to taste
  • Chapati bread or naan

Directions:

  1. Brown chicken thighs in a deep pan in the olive oil, working in batches if necessary. Remove to drain on a paper towel.
  2. To the same pan, pour in the jar of Goan Coconut Simmer Sauce and 1 can unsweet coconut milk. Stir together with 1 cup water until well blended.
  3. Return the chicken thighs to the pan along with the potatoes and carrots.
  4. Season with black pepper and sea salt.
  5. Cook over medium heat, partially covered until carrots and potatoes are “fork-tender” and chicken is falling apart, for about 25 minutes.
  6. Serve in bowls with warmed chapati bread or naan on the side for dipping into the sauce.

teresablackburnfoodstyling.com      foodonfifth.com

Browned-Butter Dark-Chocolate Lava-Flow Brownies – Gluten Free and Lower Sugar

A craving for chocolate and for a good dark chocolate brownie in particular doesn’t come over me often. I can be happy with a little bite of a dark chocolate bar most of the time, but sometimes I get a brownie craving and nothing will sate this but to whip up a batch. The results you see above. This might be an easy recipe to make for someone you love this coming February 14th or just for yourself. I used King Arthur Gluten Free Flour, lots of dark cocoa, dark chocolate chips, espresso powder and only 1 cup of sugar….oh yes and browned butter!

The browned butter adds a layer of unexpected flavor and texture. The doubling of dark cocoa and chocolate chunks make one “lava flow looking” brownie.

I used gluten-free flour just to see how it would work with my recipe and I think the results were delicious, especially if you enjoy a less cake-like brownie. These brownies keep for days in the refrigerator as well.

Happy Valentine’s Day all Year Long.

Browned-Butter Dark-Chocolate Lava-Flow Brownies

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup raw or regular sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon espresso powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup King Arthur Gluten Free Flour
  • 1/2 cup dark or semi-sweet chocolate chunks

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees with rack in lower part of the oven. Grease an 8 x 8 baking pan and line with two crisscrossed sheets of parchment paper long enough to come up the sides of the pan. Grease paper.
  2. To brown the butter, melt the stick of butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook butter, while whisking, until it is a pale golden color with darker brown particulates, for 8-10 minutes. Stir the sugar into the browned butter.
  3. Stir in the cocoa powder, salt, baking powder and espresso powder until well blended. Let mixture cool for a few minutes.
  4. Beat in eggs one at a time with a wooden spoon. The mixture will be thick and shiny.
  5. Stir in the vanilla extract and flour until you do not see any streaks of flour, continuing to beat vigorously for about 50-60 strokes.
  6. Fold in the chocolate chunks.
  7. Spread batter in prepared pan. Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out almost clean. Cool brownies in the pan on a cooling rack.
  8. Remove cooled, uncut brownies from the pan by lifting up the edges of the parchment paper and placing on a cutting board. Cut into 16 squares or smaller into 25 squares.

These brownies keep very well chilled for up to 10 days in the refrigerator. They also make a great gift for your no-gluten friends.

http://www.teresablackburnfoodstyling.com    http://www.foodonfifth.com

 

Brighten Up Your February with a “Maple-Ginger Switchel” Beverage

February is a month of darkness, cold, rain and early sunsets. Some days recently it has seemed like it is dawn or dusk all day long. I have a love-hate thing with February. It should be a time to stay inside, read and be cozy, but work and play call me outside when I really just want to stay at home. February is my time to abstain from some of my Holidays-into-January overindulgence.

Have you ever had a nice glass of “Switchel” over ice with a splash of soda? It has helped me keep my electrolytes in balance, stay hydrated and has definitely replaced a glass or two of wine in the evenings. After a couple of days of drinking Switchel I do think February is feeling better and looking a little bit brighter.

“Switchel” is a word I was unfamiliar with until recently when I ran across it in a novel and did a Google search.  Lo and behold hundreds of articles and recipes for “switchels” were at my fingertips.  The basic old-fashioned recipes, also called “swizzles, ginger-water or haymaker’s punch” and are traditionally cooling summer drinks, have many things I like….apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, fresh ginger,  maple syrup or molasses. These are ingredients that are good for us in so many ways I cannot begin to list them. A bright, refreshing and very thirst quenching beverage to shake up February.

There is a great story about the history of Switchels here at the Smithsonian website. I often drink store-bought Kombucha drinks and after making a batch of Switchel, this is what I’ll be drinking instead! Homemade and less expensive.

Not for everyone….my apologizes to Wouter as he was my Switchel taste tester….watching the “faces” he made while taking a drink my experiments was worth it, but also let me know a few adjustments on my first recipes were needed. More sweetener…real maple syrup…created a more palatable concoction….too sour into just-right sweet. Maybe a bit less fresh ginger juice as it adds a very, very spicy touch. Adjusted and topped with soda water it is a fizzy good beverage.

There is a long history of holistic medicine that includes the benefits of drinking unpasteurized apple cider vinegar and my favorite one is “Braggs”. I have been known to just drink a swig right out of the bottle when I feel a bit sluggish and out-of-sorts. It seems to clear my throat, freshen up my breath and I feel it “clears out the Winter cobwebs” internally.

February Ginger-Maple Switchel

  • Difficulty: very easy
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Ingredients:

  • 1 large hand of fresh ginger, unpeeled and chopped
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cup Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • the juice of one lemon
  • club soda
  • fresh mint leaves if you like

Directions:

  1. Process fresh ginger and 1/3 cup water in a food processor until finely chopped. Strain through a mesh strainer, pressing pulp gently with the back of a spoon to get out all the juice. You should have about 1/2 cup. Pour into a jar or pitcher.
  2. To the pitcher add the apple cider vinegar, maple syrup and lemon juice. Stir to mix well. Cover and chill for 1 hour to let flavors meld before drinking.
  3. Add ice cubes to a glass, fill glass a third of the way with “Switchel” and top with soda or plain water. Stir to mix, and top with some fresh mint leaves if you like.

Notes: You can experiment with flavors. I added 1/2 cup blood orange juice to one batch which was delicious.

This recipe is based on the historical readings about “Switchels” and the hundreds of recipes on the internet with my own twists.

Teresa Blackburn      http://www.teresablackburnfoodstyling.com

 

 

 

 

Slow Roasted Blood Orange Upside-Down Cake

Blood Oranges and I have a long-standing love affair. In years past I have posted recipes for Blood Orange-cello, Blood Orange Meringue Tartlets, and Blood Orange and Bourbon Chipotle BBQ Chicken among others. I am drawn to the mottled red-orange skin and the inner blood-red burst of color as much as to the flavor. They are natural art works, each and every one unique and deliciously stunning.

This is a simple upside down cake with slow-roasted blood oranges which brings out another layer of tastiness. Blood oranges are abundant in supermarkets this time of year so eat them while you can…raw, cooked or juiced.

Full of antioxidants and high in Vitamin C and potassium, Blood Oranges are uniquely colored due to “anthocyanins”. These are flavonoid pigments which exist in red and purple vegetables, most berries and are incredibly healthy.

Thinly sliced and ready for roasting…..

….sprinkled lightly with raw sugar…..

….roasted at 275 degrees for 45 minutes……

….in my favorite Lodge cast iron skillet.   First smeared with butter….

….the bottom covered with roasted rings of oranges and another sprinkle of sugar.

Topped with cake batter and baked…..

…ready to eat. So good with a cup of coffee or tea on a cold winter day.

Slow Roasted Blood Orange Upside-Down Cake

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 4 blood oranges
  • 1 1/4 cups raw or  turbinado sugar, divided
  • 8 tablespoons softened butter, divided
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup yellow cornmeal or polenta
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk or vanilla yogurt

Directions:

  1. To roast blood orange slices:  Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Cut ends off of each orange and then slice thinly, removing any seeds as you work.
  2. Arrange blood orange slices flat on a baking sheet and sprinkle with 1/2 cup of raw sugar. Roast for about 45 minutes or until they are caramelized and softened. Remove pan from oven and let cool for 10 minutes.
  3. Turn oven to 350 degrees. Smear a 10 inch cast iron skillet with 2 tablespoons of the butter to coat bottom and sides. Arrange roasted orange slices, slightly overlapping, in the bottom of the skillet and sprinkle with 1/4 cup of raw sugar.
  4. Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt in a bowl.
  5. Using an electric mixer beat together the remaining 6 tablespoons butter and 1/2 cup raw sugar until fluffy. Add in vanilla and blend.
  6. Mix in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each one.
  7. Add flour mixture and buttermilk, alternately, ending with flour just until well mixed.
  8. Drop batter by spoonfuls over sugared orange slices in skillet and gently spread out evenly.
  9. Bake cake until a tester comes out clean, about 35-45 minutes. Cool cake for 10 minutes in skillet. Run a small knife around edge to loosen if necessary.
  10. Place a plate over the top of the skillet and flip to loosen cake onto plate using oven mitts or kitchen towels so you don’t burn your hands! Scrape out any sugar-juice mixture left in skillet and smear over cake. Serve cake warm or at room temp.

Teresa Blackburn   teresablackburnfoodstyling.com