Watercress Composed Salad with Citrus Dressing ~ March Daring Cooks


I haven’t been living in one place for a long enough period of to really concentrate on joining any cook-alongs. It’s been over 6 months with this back and forth stuff! I’m so excited t his month to not join one of The Daring Kitchen’s challenges, but TWO!

For March’s Daring Cooks’ Challenge, Ruth, Shelley and Sawsan asked us to totally veg out! We made salads and dressings, letting the sky be the limit as we created new flavors and combinations that reflect our own unique tastes.

I’ve always made my own dressing. Probably because my mother always made her own dressing and my grandmother always made her own dressing. I will occasionally buy a dressing in a bottle, if I want a quick marinade for something, but otherwise I just find them … hmmm, ICKY! Thick and gloppy and off-tasting.

This challenge was right up my alley!

Many, many moons ago, Erie and I went to a Spanish restaurant in Queens (the name escapes me at the moment and perhaps she will chime in and let us know). We had the most wonderful composed salad – and I was surprised as I’m not usually a fan of composed salads.

Since then, this is my go to company is coming, steak themed dinner, salad. It’s simple with lots of great ingredients.

  • 1 bunch watercress
  • 2 hard boiled eggs
  • 2 plum tomatoes
  • 1 can hearts of palm
  • 1 shallot
  • juice from 1/2 an orange, lime and lemon
  • 3 t extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 t oregano
  • s&p

NOTE: I used plum tomatoes, use whatever tomatoes make you happy.


Wash watercress thoroughly and cut off stems. Place watercress on a platter

Quarter hard boiled eggs into wedges.  Scatter over watercress.

If using Roma tomatoes, cut into wedges. If using other tomatoes, cut into chunks. Scatter over watercress.

Slice hearts of palm into 1/4″ rings. Again, scatter over watercress.

Thinly slice shallot into rings. Scatter over salad.

Dressing salad

In a bowl, whisk together citrus juices, oregano and s&p to taste. While whisking, stream in olive oil. When ready to serve salad, drizzle dressing over the top.

Tuscan Potato Salad

I LOVE POTATO SALAD. I LOVE MAYONNAISE. I don’t like the 2 in the same dish.

I am not a fan of hard boiled eggs in my potato salad, or macaroni salad for that matter. I don’t like mayo in my potato salad. I do like mayo on my french fries, though. Yes, I know, picky, picky, picky!

I like a salad that is room temperature friendly and is not likely to spoil or taste funny if it’s too hot outside.

I love this recipe. It started out as a Paula Deen recipe. It was the first non-mayo based potato salad I had seen that I found intriguing. It has changed now – through tweaking and tweaking – to be my recipe.

I was thrilled to see potato salad as this months’ challenge at the Daring Kitchen! I have decided that with my changes that this is a Tuscan-style potato salad.

It’s really quite simple and can easily be doubled or halved.

  • 14 or 15 large red potatoes (about 5 pounds)
  • s&p
  • 1/2 C chopped basil
  • 1/4 C chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 C chopped scallions
  • 3 cloves garlic finely minced
  • 1 t salt
  • 1/2 t dry mustard
  • 1 T sugar
  • 1 T Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 C extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 C white wine vinegar
  • 1 T marjoram

I switch this around quite a bit. Sometimes I substitute tarragon or thyme for the marjoram; or basil for the parsley; or simply add basil in with the parsley.

Give potatoes a good scrub. Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with water. Bring water to a boil. Once boiling, generously salt the water and boil until potatoes easily pierce with a knife and are tender – about 30 to 40 minutes.

Once done cooking, drain potatoes and let sit until cool enough to handle. At this point, you can peel the potatoes if you want.  Cut potatoes into bite sized chunks.

Place cut potatoes in a bowl and sprinkle the parsley (or basil) and scallions over the top.

In a separate bowl, mix together the remaining ingredients. Pour over the warm potatoes. Mix. Let stand at room temperature for at least 4 hours or all day, mixing every hour. Do not refrigerate before serving. This is best served at room temperature.

Edible Containers – Daring Cooks

Really intriguing thought, don’t ya think? That’s what I thought when I saw this as a challenge over at Daring Cooks. Such a good idea that it’s a joint Daring Cooks/Daring Bakers challenge.

Perhaps it’s the thought of not washing a dish that intrigues me. But, wait, that can’t be so. The edible container still has to sit on something, doesn’t it?

So goes that theory.

The question became … sweet … savory … sweet … savory?

I thought perhaps a spun sugar bowl with beautiful strawberries … (stop laughing) … okay, I am laughing too. Who am I kidding?

Savory? Looking through the mountainous recipes next to my bed I came across frico – crispy discs of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese – which can be molded into shapes. I found my solution.

I used Giada’s frico cup method –

1 1/2 cups of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

I didn’t use the smallest holes on my box grater. I didn’t use the largest. I used the ones in between. If I had any sense I would have taken a photos of the grater to show you, sense wasn’t something I was necessarily born with!

Sadly, I wasn’t really holding out hope for this working.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Definitely use a silpat or parchment paper. Use 1/4 cup for each cup, flattening it out to a diameter of 4 1/2 to 5 inches.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes.

NOTE: My second batch I baked for less time, about 6 1/2 minutes, and had a better result.

Working quickly and using a thin spatula, transfer the frico to a muffin tin and put a glass inside to shape.

NOTE: ARE YOU FREAKIN’ KIDDING ME HERE OR WHAT? Totally didn’t work. I tried using the bottom of the muffin tin, but the muffin cups were not deep enough. I tried a juice glass. NOPE. The bottom of my cordial glasses were the perfect size.

If you don’t have the frico molded before they start to stiffen, pop them back into the oven for 20 seconds or so – they become pliable again.

Now that I had the edible container part sorted out, what to put in them?

I was roasting a cut up chicken (surprise, surprise) for dinner with Mediterranean spices and thought I would serve a tomato, cucumber and parsley salad to go along. Usually I toasted pita bread and break it into shards to sprinkle over the top, but the penny dropped and I thought what a great way to use the salad AND my beautiful frico cups.

I removed the seeds and pulp and then diced a couple of tomatoes. Then I peeled, removed the seeds from and diced a cucumber.  Chopped some parsley. A simple dressing of olive oil, red wine vinegar and oregano and we were all set!

The frico are terrific. A little bite of crispy cheese, some yummy salad. A lot of oooohing and aaahing and a lotta gone! Isn’t that the end result we all want?

Tackling something I found a little intimidating is so empowering!

Lemon Risotto

Lemon Risotto is one of my all time comfort dishes. There is something about the creaminess of the risotto that just makes you feel warm and comforted. I have tried many different recipes for lemon risotto, and my all time favorite is from Patricia Wells’  Trattoria.

But no good risotto should be made without fresh stock so that’s where I started.  I always put the chicken carcass in a ziploc and into the freezer. Similarly, when cutting up vegetables, I put the extras and ends into a ziploc and into the freezer. This way when I run out of homemade stock I have ingredients ready to go.  

Vegetables, aromatics and carcass into a stock pot, cover with water and bubble away. Skim the foam from the top. I simmer mine until reduced quite a bit, strain and then freeze in cup increments so I can use it for whatever I need.

Okay. Stock done. Time to make the risotto. Rice used for risotto is very absorbent. This particular rice is broken into three types, semifino, fino, and superfino. There are generally three types used; (A) Aborio, which is superfino. It has a lot of serface starch which makes it give out more starch than it absorbs. It makes the rice dense and sticky and the grains can lose their shape while cooking. (B) Vialone Nano, which is semifino. This is the shortest in grain. This has a lot of internal starch which allows it to absorb a lot of liquid. This grain retains its shape – perhaps except the tips, and is a good choice if you are going to add chunky ingredients in. And, (C), Carnaroli – my personal favorite – which is also semifino. This is slightly longer and more delicate than the other two. It holds its shape. It has a balance of inner and surface starch, and absorbs a lot of liquid, which makes for a very creamy risotto.

Lecture over!

  • About 5 Cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • Sprig of fresh mint
  • Sprig of fresh rosemary
  • Sprig of fresh sage
  • Grated zest (yellow peel) of 1 lemon
  • 4 T (2 oz) unsalted butter
  • 1 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • Sea salt to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups Aborio, Vialone Nano or Carnaroli
  • 3 Tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup (2 oz) freshly grated Italian Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus additional for table

NOTE: I use carnaroli. I have tried all three many times and keep going back to the carnaroli.

In a large saucepan, heat the stock and keep it simmering, at barely a whisper, while you prepare the risotto.

Stem the fresh herbs. Combine the leaves with the lemon zest and, with a large chef’s knife, chop finely. Set aside.

NOTE:  I can go with or without the herbs and you can easily change them around to suit your taste. I used a bit of thyme this time around.

In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine 2 Ts of the butter, the oil, shallots, and salt over moderate heat. Cook, stirring, until the shallots are soft and translucent, about 3 minutes. (Do not let the shallots brown.)

Add the rice, and stir until the rice is well coated with the fats, glistening and semi-translucent, 1 to 2 minutes. (This step is important for good risotto: The heat and fat will help separate the grains of rice, ensuring a creamy consistency in the end.)

When the rice becomes shiny and partly translucent, add a ladleful of the stock. Cook, stirring constantly, until the rice has absorbed most of the stock, 1 to 2 minutes. Add another ladleful of the simmering stock, and stir regularly until all of the broth is absorbed. Adjust the heat as necessary to maintain a gentle simmer. The rice should cook slowly and should always be covered with a veil of stock. Continue adding ladlefuls of stock, stirring frequently and tasting regularly, until the rice is almost tender but firm to the bite, about 17 minutes total.

The risotto should have a creamy, porridge-like consistency.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the remaining 2 Ts butter, the lemon zest and herbs, lemon juice and the Parmesan. Cover and let stand off the heat for 2 minutes, to allow the flavors to blend. Taste for seasoning. Transfer to warmed shallow soup bowls, and serve immediately, passing additional cheese. Risotto waits for no one.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings. Continue reading

Chicken Satay

A number of years ago I received 1000 Recipes by Martha Day from a friend in the UK, and it sat on my shelf for years and years. This recipe turns out to be a double bonus. First, it keeps with my wanting to cook from different cookbooks in my collection and, second, fits in with this month’s recipe from Daring Cooks.

The recipe posted was for Pork Satay, but chicken satay is a favorite here, so I went with chicken instead.

Satay Marinade

  • 2  T vegetable oil (or peanut or olive oil)
  • 2 T lemon juice
  • 1 T soy sauce
  • 1 tsp ginger powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper

Mix all marinade ingredients well. Cut chicken into 1 inch thick strips , any length. Cover chicken with marinade. Put chicken and marinade into a zip-loc bag, seal and chill.

NOTE: I used a package of chicken tenderloins. Work done for you. I think next time it may need more lemon, or perhaps lime instead.

If you are using wooden or bamboo skewers, soak your skewers in warm water for at least 20 minutes before putting chicken on skewers.

Gently and slowly slide meat strips onto skewers. Discard leftover marinade.

NOTE: If you’re grilling or broiling, you should definitely brush once with extra marinade when you flip the skewers, and then discard the marinade.

Broil or grill (or pan fry on medium-high) for 8-10 minutes or until the edges just start to char. Flip and cook another 8-10 minutes.

NOTE: I used a stove top grill pan, which filled my house with smoke! Said grill pan is no out of my house! I knew a cheap grill pan would cause me heartache!

Peanut Sauce

  • 3/4 cup coconut milk
  • 4 Tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1-2 dried red chilies, chopped (keep the seeds for heat)

Mix dry ingredients in a small bowl. Add soy sauce and lemon, mix well.  Over low heat, combine coconut milk, peanut butter and the mixture from the small bowl. Mix well, stirring often.

NOTE: All you’re doing here is melting the peanut butter, so make your peanut sauce after you’ve flipped the satay, or make ahead of time and reheat. I added crushed peanuts to the top of the sauce for some texture.


NOTE: The chicken has a kick of heat from the cayenne, but as you kept eating it just went away.  Makes WAY more sauce than chicken! Next time I will not put the entire bowl on the table for dipping, this way I can keep it in the fridge for something else during the week.

This must have been good. This is all that was left!