SmartCooks here. March is easing on down the road, and none too soon. In honour of spring ... mega-hint here Mother Nature ... I searched out a recipe I made a few times last summer and was great for entertaining: Asian Salad with Arugula, Enoki Mushrooms and Hazelnuts. Easy, presents well, fresh taste ... a winner.
For most of the winter, I've been flattened with a combo of flu, cold, cough, cough, cough. I was supposed to take a week off but cancelled it when it became clear it would be an 'off' week, not a week 'off'.
I will try some R & R again in April. The bathroom renovations are over and both bathrooms now look fabulous, clean, bright, modern, professional, all good. One more to go. Next time someone asks me where our money goes, I can honestly say 'down the drain'.
I can't wait for spring. It's been the coldest winter in 20 years here in Ottawa and it felt like it was. Snowmageddons of snow, freezing rain/heavy rain and flash freezes, as the 'stock' photo at left shows. Charlottetown office has been closed due to weather many times, and I've cancelled travel to the Island many times. I got the last seat on the last plane off the Island tis week just in advance of WhiteJuan2, which saw 53cm of snow in downtown Charlottetown and 100plus Kmh winds. No fun... We'll see what spring brings.
Even Washington, where I hoped to walk amongst the famous cherry blossoms, was knee-deep in snow and slush. I got to see "How Washington Really Works" but missed most of Day 3 when my workplace melted down in a political crisis and I flew fast from one capital to another.
And I WILL go back to Washington soon ... Newseum here I come. It was torture sitting in the Canadian Embassy boardroom with the lovely Inuit sculptures outside the window and knowing this treat was just next door. Next time!
Since Valentine's Day, we've added in a nightly episode of House of Cards and I would like to report that Season 2 gives me the same chills/creeps as Season 1. But, between Netflix and the Olympics, I managed to keep life in perspective.
Now we're onto Series 5 of Nurse Jackie. She's sober this season but dealing with the aftermath of long-term drug addiction, loss of marriage, friends and now looks like one of her kids. We'll see how that goes.
On that note, in honour of spring, I've perked up lunches once a week with spring type salad. This one -- Asian Salad, with Arugula, Enoki Mushrooms and Hazelnuts -- is fresh and offers endless variations. Don't have arugula, then just substitute your favourite greens.
Enoki mushrooms, also known as the velvet foot, are one of the delights I've found since Herb and Spice started getting regular supplies of every type of mushroom imaginable from Le Coprin. Enoki mushrooms are have a mild, delicate flavour and a slight crunch. They can be used in Asian cooking but are also the right touch in salads, sandwiches, miso soups and pasta sauces.
The ones I buy are collected from the wild in northern Quebec. They are often the last mushroom to linger in late fall and the first to appear in the spring. Enjoy!
Hazelnuts or Macadamia Nuts
Either way... this salad works fabulously. Switch it up and enjoy!
At this time of year, it's most arugula; as spring progresses, there will be a wider selection of greens, including mesclun, spicy flavours of red mustard, tatsoi, mizuna, spinach etc.
Asian Salad with Arugula, Enoki Mushrooms and Hazelnuts
(Food and Wine inspired)
2T mayonnaise (I used light mayo)
1 T rice vinegar1 T white wine vinegar
1 T low-sodium soy sauce
2 tsp honey
1 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
1 tsp Asian sesame oil
1 minced large garlilc clove
1/2 tsp Sriracha chili sauce or other hot chili sauce
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup (3 ounces) hazelnut or macadamia nuts
1 T sesame seeds
3/4 pound (18 cups) baby arugula, Asian greens or mesclu
1 3-ounce package Enoki mushrooms, trimmed and separated
In a blender, combine the mayonnaise, rice and white wine vinegars, soy sauce, honey, ginger, sesame oil, garlic and chili sauce and process to mix. With the machine on, blend in the vegetable oil in a thin stream. Scrape the dressing into a small bowl and season with salt and pepper.
In a medium skillet, toast the macadamia nuts over moderately low heat, shaking the skillet, until the nuts are a deep golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer the nuts to a plate to cool. Add the sesame seeds to the skillet and toast until a deep golden brown, about 3 minutes.
Transfer the sesame seeds to a plate to cool. Coarsely chop the macadamia nuts (I put them in a plastic bag and lightly pounded them with a mallet).
In a very large bowl, toss the baby Asian greens with the enoki mushrooms. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss well. Scatter the toasted macadamia nuts and sesame seeds all over the salad and toss briefly once more. Serve the salad at once.
Assemble ahead: Take the salad to the event and add dressing at last minute for best results!