Tasty Cucumber Salad

This Dill~Cucumber Salad recipe is so easy and simple to make with just a few ingredients.  It is very refreshing and delicious in summer and equally as good during the winter months.

chilly-dilly

Chilly Dilly Cucumber

An excellent salad  to accompany those tasty Finnish meatballs, meatloaf, smoked salmon and as a side dish for any meal.  I brought the cucumber salad to my neighbour’s place.  We had this salad with smoked salmon, capers, lemon, cream cheese and rye crackers.  The cool cucumber salad cuts the richness of the smoked salmon in a most pleasant way.  Since we are all of different nationalities, we discussed and critiqued other country’s versions of  cucumber salad. The election was over after we counted the votes. My Dill~Cucumber Salad won!
Chilly Dilly cucumber will not be making any speeches. However, his winning secret is in the dill ~ a subtle, delicious flavour that really enhances the cucumber.

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INGREDIENTS
1 medium cucumber thinly sliced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons sugar substitute
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons  avocado or salad oil
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INSTRUCTIONS
1.  Mix the vinegar, water, sugar substitute, salt and oil together and stir to dissolve the salt and sugar substitute
2.  Add the dill and cucumber slices.
3.  Refrigerate for several hours to let the flavours meld.
IMG_1526didyouknow TOP SEVEN ALKALINE FOODS: The cucumber is one of the most alkaline foods  (#3) that you can eat.  Combined with the  effect of the apple cider vinegar, it will help to make you body alkaline or at least closer to a neutral pH when you are eating acidic proteins.  Both meat and even fish and chicken are acidic.  Your body wants to stay alkaline or at least closer to a neutral pH to stay healthy along with fighting off and prevent disease.  Eat your veggies!

BONUS: This is a very tasty cucumber salad recipe!  Until you make this cucumber recipe perhaps for the first time, you will know what you have been missing!  My taste testers (friends) tell me all the time.  You will make this salad again and again!
HEALTHY OIL
This salad contains 2 tablespoons of healthy oil, which is my variation to the traditional Finnish cucumber salad. Not only does it prevents the cucumber slices from sticking together it is so good and healthy for you. If you recall the  true story about Lorenzo’s oil. (actually containing two specific long chain fatty acids, isolated from rapeseed oil and olive oil)  will know the miracle of oils.  We don’t know everything about food/medicine. Some people have a shot of oil in the morning to start their day!

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CUCUMBER TIPS and benefits!

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Oven-dried Tomatos

These are so easy to make and freeze to enjoy throughout the year.  Great on salads, sandwiched, pasta. pizza.  The flavour is concentrated.

Recipe                                                                                                                                                                                      6 to 8                        tomatoes, slices about 1/2 inch thick                                                                                    1/2 teaspoon        salt                                                                                                                                                      1/2 teaspoon        freshly ground pepper                                                                                                                   1 tablespoon        fresh thyme, fresh oregano, fresh basil, whatever you have.                                          1 tablespoon        olive oil                                                                                                                                                Directions                                                                                                                                                                               1.  Preheat oven to 250 F or 120 C                                                                                                                                 2.  Place sliced tomatoes on a baking sheet  on a piece of parchment or silpat sheet.

Sliced fresh tomatoes with salt, pepper, herbs, olive oil

Sliced fresh tomatoes with salt, pepper, herbs, olive oil

3.  Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt pepper and fresh herbs.                                                                4.  Bake for one to two hours checking every half hour until pieces have shrunk slightly, edges are shriveled and juices no longer run.  They are not completely dried but are still juicy.

tomatoes that have been backed and out of the oven

tomatoes that have been baked and out of the oven

5.  Cool slightly and put into glass jars covered by olive oil.  Leave about 1/2 inch of head room and freeze if you will not use them up in the next week or two.  Yummy!

Oven-dried tomatoes in glass jar with olive oil and thyme

Oven-dried tomatoes in glass jar with olive oil and thyme

Sotto Una Buona Stella – Under a Lucky Star

BUCA Restaurant in Yorkville
And it was a lucky star tonight for those who gathered at Buca Restaurant in Yorkville to enjoy having Michelin star Andrea Berton from Milan present a dinner with resident Chef Rob Gentile, Buca restaurant.  It was a full house for a magnificent meal. It was our great pleasure to enjoy an evening with such fine chefs and staff to assist them.  The spectacular dish of the evening was Chef Burton’s Uovo (Egg). A white chocolate shell which had a somewhat rough texture and appeared to be sprayed on a very lightly texture yogurt mouse    and exposed a brightly coloured mango yolk when you broke into it. It was not too sweet, had a lot of flavour and perfect texture. The yogurt mouse was almost ethereal in its lightness and texture.
egg-surprise
Enchantment by the SEA
The second runner up was Chef Andreas’ black cod with russet potato, sweet pea, brodo di prosciutto.  Honourable mention must be given to the raw B.C. spot prawn crudo by Chef Gentile. This event benefited Community Food Centres Canada for low income communities.  A wonderful evening was had by all and for a good cause.

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Sun Dried Tomato Dip

HEALTHY  ‘TASTY’ DIP
sun-sdried-tomato_dipNow that you have made your decorated goat cheese, you can make a tasty and healthy dip to serve with it. The dip is very versatile.This dip is great with crudités or crackers, on sandwiches, or with cold meats. It can be made a day or two in advance and served at your chalet, lake house, sailboat or right at home. People always enjoy this combination goat cheese /sun dried tomato spread. This pairing pops with flavour and is a big hit with my friends.  I am often asked where I bought it!  Instead of crackers or I prefer sourdough baguette slices. Crisp and tasty. Although crackers have evolved to gluten free and no preservatives which you can buy at your local supermarket. I find that most of these healthy crackers are very flavourful and will change the taste of my goat cheese / sun dried tomato dip.  Over my years of reading about healthy foods, I would always come across the information that with respect to bread, we should eat rye bread or sour dough. I was puzzled by the sour dough as it was white bread after all. Then one day I came across some information that explained it.

RECIPE
Ingredients
1 package (3 1/2 oz) sun dried tomatoes
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup loosely packed basil leaves
1/4 cup loosely packed flat leaf parsley
2 garlic cloves peeled
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar substitute (optional)
1 green onion coarsely chopped including green tops

Directions                                                                                                                                                                   

sun-dried-tomatoesCombine all ingredients in a food processor.  Use the pulse feature until everything is chopped to a coarse consistency not liquid.  Refrigerate until needed.  The flavour is even better the next day.  Serve at room temperature over goat cheese with toasts or crackers.

This is a tasty dip and will keep in your fridge for 7 to 10 days, limited only by the freshness of the herbs.  You can then make this in advance or use up the left overs as a salad dressing, to toss your vegetables and some more olive before roasting or add to a soup for more flavour.  The addition of mayonnaise or buttermilk will transform any leftover dips into sauces or salad dressings.

EVENING OUT:  I just brought the sun dried dip to a birthday party last night.  I paired it with a goat cheese log rolled in herbs.  There were herb crackers and whole wheat sourdough croutes.  This was a big hit!  People kept going back again and again for more.  They were addictive.  This was more popular than the smoked salmon platter!

didyouknowFOOD FACT: The acid in the sourdough slows down the absorption of the bread. That is how the San Francisco gold miners were able to sustain themselves all day long with just a loaf of sourdough bread. Hence the San Francisco sour dough loafs. The flour/simple carbohydrate  is broken down into sugar which starts even in the mouth with salivary amylase and eating a slice of white bread is not so different than having a piece of pound cake as far as your body is concerned.

Do you want a piece of white bread? Then…eat sour dough bread. It is healthier!

Beet Salad with Pecans and Feta

It All Starts From A Seed
I already have my beet seeds ready for spring planting in early April (in Toronto, Ontario, CANADA). It’s been a chilly March which may force me to plant my seeds in late April this year. I really enjoy beet salad, especially when paired with goat cheese. Soft goat cheese or feta cheese both work well in this salad. I was inspired after I made Wolfgang Puck’s Goat Cheese Napoleons for the first time. Amazing! I love beets so much that I now grow them in the garden at the lake house. Last year, as most years, they were left unattended ..and Mother Nature watered my beets.  I liked to pick my baIMG_0003by beets when they are about 1″ in size. When I served my beet appetizer to Chef Jamie, a weekend guest, his eyes immediately opened wide. He couldn’t believe the flavour. I bought the same type of seeds this year; golden and ruby beets. My favorite golden beets are sweeter than their deep red sibling. Even the greens from the golden beets are sweeter.
This year, I decided to grow beets in my balcony pots in Toronto. I will still faithfully plant them in the north country by the lake. I fear the Toronto smog may take its toll on my city beets. It will be interesting to see how they both turn out; the country beets and city beets.

MY FAVORITE BEET SALAD
Ingredients
6 medium beets
1/2 cup feta cheese, cubed
3 cups baby arugula or other tender greens(like watercress, baby spinach, etc.)
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon pomegranate syrup
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
freshly ground pepper
salt to taste, if you wish
Optional: 1/2 cup toasted pecans
Serves 4 people.
Single Servings: refrigerate what you don’t plan on eating. It will be hard to resist not having this salad the next day for lunch or dinner.

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Rinse the beets and cut off the greens, saving them for another use. Hint: chop and freeze the greens if you are not using soon.
3. Bake beets in the oven for 45 to 60 minutes until tender. I am using my glass baking containers for this instead of the classic foil.
4. Let them cool and then slip the skin off using gloves or paper towels to protect your hands from colouring. Cut into edible sized pieces.
Optional: You can toast your pecans in the oven for about 10 minutes, leave them untoasted (healthier but not as tasty) or candy them (not as healthy but yummy!)
5. Combine ingredients for the salad dressing. I do not use any salt in this dressing. I find that I do not miss it. The feta is salty enough.
6. Toss the greens in the dressing reserving some to drizzle on top of the salad. Place the greens in the serving bowl. The beets and pomegranate seeds are scattered on top. Then I layer on the feta and pecans but do not toss them. The feta will just stain from the beets. Drizzle more dressing on top and serve.

WHEELSVARATIONS: Finely chop some of your beets. Toss the beets and pomegranate seeds in the dressing and place this mixture on the ends of  endive leaves.
When making my salad I substituted 1 tablespoon of brain octane oil for one of the tablespoons of olive oil.
Candied PECANS
For candied pecans, add a pinch of cayenne pepper to 1/4 cup of maple syrup. Toss the 1/2 cup of pecans in the syrup and roast in the oven on a parchment lined baking sheet at 325F for 10 minutes. Yummy! If you have guests, you need to make sure to make extra candied pecans. While the pecans are cooling, you will inevitably find those taste testers in the kitchen. Some pecans will magically disappear.
Sprinkle finely chopped feta cheese on top of the minced beets that are on the endives and serve as an hors d’ourve or appetizer for your guests.
endive-appetiser_feta
WHAT’S NEXT. . .
You can freeze your beet greens or leave them in the refrigerator. NEXT…I will provide a new and unique recipe on how to use your beet greens. I am tired of just steaming, sauteing, or putting them in soups. Something new coming up on my next blog. A healthy, tasty recipe you may have never thought you would dream of making.