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Salads

Gochujang tuna salad: the story of our love for Korean chili paste!

There’s something brewing in this house: a gochujang obsession! I’ve been a fan of this staple of Korean cuisine ever since I attended The Good Taste Series culinary competition last year, where I tasted gochujang BBQ bison tenderloin – and I’ve been nice enough to pass my obsession over to the other members of my household!

I’m not a big fan of spicy foods. However, when it comes to gochujang, it was simply love at first bite. I find its spiciness so sophisticated and rich, and its color so vibrant. Like a cave of hidden treasures, once you try gochujang-steeped dishes, flavors come to you in quick succession. The first impression is mild, but then you’re taken by surprise by an avalanche of perpetual spiciness, and your mouth tastes old foods reinvented pretty much single-handedly by this miraculous ingredient. I found so much inspiration in gochujang – and I think I have so much to learn. 🙂

The recipe below is the end result of a series of “gochujang experiments” I have conducted lately. I was looking for a way to “rejuvenate” our seafood dishes, and marinating the fish in gochujang was a big hit with my family. Keep Reading

Our carb-laden Super Bowl: It’s time for oyster mushroom pasta salad!

It all started with a question: What to make with king oyster mushrooms? With their superb elongated shapes and meaty appearance, these humongous mushrooms enticed me the moment I saw them on the shelves of the local Korean grocery store. It was an impulse purchase, and a day after I bought them I started regretting it. With no ideas in sight and hardly any time to plan and to execute a recipe, why, oh why had I bought these mushrooms in the first place? Still, I was determined not to let them go to waste, and in the end I decided to make something quick and flavorful – perfect for those long winter evenings when you’re not into cooking something fancy. “Let’s get real,” I said to myself – and pasta salad it was! 🙂

This dish is good for a Super Bowl party because it is carb-satisfying, keeps hunger at bay, and requires very little preparation. Keep Reading

Gourmia spiralizer review: Ring in the New Year with kid-friendly and stylish appetizers!

Can eating veggies be a challenge? Well, sometimes it can be, especially when you have children who need extra convincing to get their “5 a day.” We’ve had our fair share of struggles with our daughter. She seems to go through phases: Some days she can’t get enough of carrots and potatoes, while other days she doesn’t want to eat veggies in any shape or form.

If you’re looking for solutions to make veggies more fun for kids and your food more stylish overall, then a spiralizer is the way to go. Spiralizers are among the hottest kitchen gadgets of the moment, and I was lucky enough to try out several models at the latest edition of the International Housewares Show, back in the spring. Knowing how fashionable they were and how competitive the market had been lately, I was very excited when Gourmia contacted me and asked me to test and review their electric spiralizer. Enter the Gourmia Curly Q spiralizer! 🙂

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Back to sour cream-packed deliciousness: my chicken, celery & bocconcini salad and sandwich

You will have a hard time trying to find sandwiches with mayo on this blog. On the other hand, when it comes to sour cream, you will find lots and lots of options. This is hardly surprising: We are sour cream lovers – are we are loud and proud about it 🙂

My family considered sour cream a delicacy when I was growing up. Hard to imagine, but sour cream was difficult to find in the local grocery stores, and we would form a line to buy it. We would take it home in jars we’d brought with us, and we would eat it on its own with a spoon, or on white bread. For the ultimate family treat, we would serve it with hot polenta – a delicious combo with a  creamy consistency and a wholesome flavor.

These days, I eat sour cream with polenta at least once a week. However, I have also been trying to use sour cream as an ingredient in various salads or sandwich fillings. Keep Reading

My Zucchi extra virgin olive oil blending experience: “a kind of magic” and a search for perfection

Close your eyes and imagine a salad ripe with the flavors of summer, fresh and perfect, and ready to be devoured. Then, try to imagine the extra virgin olive oil that would go with it. You know it has to be light and delicate, yet at the same time it has to be strong enough to assert itself among the other flavors on your plate, and to make your salad taste experience complete. You know the basics, but that’s not all. How can you turn this oil – this figment of your imagination – into something real, something which can be enjoyed by many, something authentic, which represents your values and stands the test of time?

You may think these are way too many questions. After all, extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) is just another kind of oil, right? The makers of Zucchi extra virgin olive oil would definitely disagree with you on this point. I reconsidered my own perception of this oil recently, when I was invited to attend an EVOO Tasting Master Class conducted at Chicago’s Quartino restaurant by Giovanni Zucchi, the blend master behind an Italian company with three centuries of tradition and experience in the field: Oleificio Zucchi.

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Our winter salad: vitamins in a bowl!

What’s quicker to make: toast or salad? When it comes to cooking, this is the kind of thinking I’ve been using lately.

Yep, easy and fast: that’s all I want from recipes these days. Our little baby girl and my job have been taking a lot of my time, and laboring in the kitchen for hours on end just doesn’t seem feasible anymore – for now, anyway. I long for a day when I’ll no longer feel rushed, stressed out and unbelievably tired. Until then, we still have to eat, of course, 🙂 so I’ve been trying to come up with quick, easy and healthy meal solutions. For us, salads have been the way to go these past few months.

The salad below is what I usually call “a winter salad,” and it strongly reminds me of the years I spent in Eastern Europe during communism. Back then, cabbage represented a very popular food option (our choices were limited to begin with), and cabbage on the menu was a clear sign of winter. Years later, I found out my mother-in-law made this salad as well. However, she also used chopped dill in it – a sensible addition, which provides the cabbage & carrot mix with freshness and an extra flavor boost.

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Veggie and smoked fish salad: my “madeleine moment”

It all started with a sample I was offered at a newly opened grocery store in our area. It was a sample of smoked salmon, meaty and delicately smoky, with a vibrant color and an enduring appeal. I tasted the fish and, like in Marcel Proust’s famous madeleine scene, my mind went back in time to my childhood and to a salad my mom used to make a lot: potato and smoked fish salad. Back in those days any meat was considered a delicacy, and my mom was very excited whenever she could get her hands on some smoked fish from the local general store. Usually it was smoked mackerel – tasty, but oh so full of bones! Nevertheless, we never complained: we just had to spend some extra time taking the bones out. It was food – and this was all that mattered. 🙂

With these memories in mind, I decided to buy smoked fish and to remake mom’s salad in an American setting. I found some gorgeous looking smoked rainbow trout and got a piece which weighed a bit over 1lb. In this salad I also wanted to pay tribute to the years I spent in England, so I decided to marry the smoked trout with another very dear ingredient: pickled hot & sweet cherry peppers. Keep Reading