Beat the Heat with Summer Salads!

Okay, it’s summer…and it’s hot. 

I don’t like hot…I tend to lose my cherub-like demeanor when it’s hot. 😉 

This time of year, we (at the TeamPerk Clubhouse) tend to live on a lot of no-cook dishes and salads. This morning, I get to share some of my favorites on AM Northwest.

Strawberry VinegretteSimple Strawberry Vinaigrette

  • 1 C strawberries, stemmed and chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • 3 Tbsp. apple cider, or balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper

Combine the strawberries, honey, oil, salt, and pepper in a food processor and puree* until very smooth, about 2 minutes.

Serve immediately or store (refrigerated) up to 48 hours.

*For a “chunkier” dressing combine the chopped strawberries with the remaining ingredients and let it rest for an hour or so (do not puree.) This process is called “macerating” (marinating fruit with vinegar).

Summer Salads AMNW

Balance

An interesting dish has a balance of flavors and textures. If there’s a sweet (fruit – fresh or dried), add a salt like nuts, olives, anchovies, etc. Soft textures like tomatoes, or cheese, pair nicely with the crunch of celery, radishes, croutons, chopped apple…you get the idea.

This is one of the reasons I love this recipe, as it hits all the right notes:

  • Sweet: Strawberries & Honey
  • Savory/Fat: Olive Oil
  • Salty: Salt
  • Tangy: Vinegar

Chef’s Note: PLEASE don’t drown the beautiful flavors of your fresh, seasonal ingredients with a heavy, fatty sauce. Dressing should be used with a light hand to enhance the flavor of vegetables, not to cover them up.

Sometimes just a splash of olive oil and balsamic vinegar with your tomatoes, cucumbers, and maybe a little feta, really hits the spot.

Here are a few more of my summer favorites:

shrimpacado

Shrimp-A-Cado Salad

I found the original recipe in my father’s copy of A Chef’s Companion, and substituted the prawns for crab (it was cheaper, and I love prawns!) Dad used to make the original recipe when he’d ticked Mom off, and was tryin’ to make good.

So, we had it… a LOT. 😉

 

downloadBow Tie Pasta with Zucchini Sauce
Serves 4

2 cup bow-tie pasta
2 cloves garlic
2 medium zucchini
1 medium shallot, or small yellow onion.
1 Tablespoon grape-seed oil
½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tsp. Better Than Bullion chicken base
1 tsp. ground black pepper

Cook pasta in salted water, according to package instructions. Prepare zucchini sauce while pasta cooks.

Peel and mince garlic, dice the shallot (or onion).

Rinse and grate zucchini.

In a large skillet over medium heat, heat oil. Add onion and minced garlic, with a dash of salt, and saute until the onion are translucent. Add zucchini, and cook until mixture softens and zucchini yields some liquid, about 5 minutes.

Drain pasta, reserving ½ cup cooking liquid, and mix in chicken base (with the liquid) to create broth.

Add 1-2 teaspoons of the broth at a time to zucchini mixture. Add drained pasta. Stir, coating pasta evenly with sauce. Add more broth as needed (I used the whole 1/2 cup).

Transfer pasta to large bowl for serving. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper. Toss to combine.

California Roll

Deconstructed California Roll Salad

First appearing in Los Angeles in the 1960s, the California Roll is a maki-zushi, a kind of sushi roll, usually made inside-out, containing cucumber, crab meat or imitation crab, and avocado.

Though there are many variations of additional ingredients, these are the “mainstay” of the California roll.

As one of the most popular styles of sushi in the US market, the California Roll has been influential in sushi’s global popularityIchiro Mashita, a sushi chef, first substituted avocado for toro (fatty tuna) in hope that removing the raw fish would make it more palatable to Western customers, and realized the oily texture of avocado was a perfect substitute for toro. He also made the roll “inside-out” (with the rice on the outside), because Americans didn’t like seeing and chewing the nori on the outside of the roll.

By the 1980s, the California Roll was the single most popular item in the sushi craze that was sweeping across the United States.

This recipe allows for the same flavors and textures of the traditional California roll, without requiring the skills or equipment necessary to create the more familiar rolled presentation, with Furikake seasoning replacing the traditional nori (seaweed sheets).

Furikake seasoning can be found in Asian grocery stores, or can be ordered from our Amazon.com store.

  • 1 batch sushi rice (recipe below), room temp.
  • 2 Tbsp. Furikaki seasoning
  • 1/3 cup sesame seeds
  • 1 small cucumber
  • 8 oz. imitation crab or lobster
  • 1 medium avocado, peeled, pitted, and sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • Pickled ginger, wasabi, and soy sauce for serving (opt)

Mise en Place

Prepare the rice (recipe below). Peel, seed, and cut cucumber into half-rounds. Break imitation crab into bite-sized portions. Peeled and pit the avocado, and slice 1/4-inch thick.

Prepare the Dish

Divide the cooled rice between two plates, and sprinkle with 1/2 of the Furikaki seasoning and 1/2 of the toasted sesame seeds. Top with crab, cucumber, and avocado, the sprinkle with remaining Furikaki seasoning and sesame seeds.

Serve immediately with pickled ginger, wasabi, and soy sauce (all optional).

Sushi Rice

  • 1 cup sushi or short grain rice
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup mirin (sweet rice wine)
  • 1 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1/2 Tbsp. kosher salt

Rinse rice in a mixing bowl 2 to 3 times, or until the water is clear.

Place the rice and 1 cup of water into a medium saucepan and place over high heat. Bring to a boil, uncovered. Once it begins to boil, reduce the heat to the lowest setting and cover. Cook for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand, covered, for 10 minutes.

Combine the rice vinegar, mirin, sugar and salt in a small bowl and heat in the microwave on high for 30 to 45 seconds. Transfer the rice into a large wooden or glass mixing bowl and add the vinegar mixture. Fold thoroughly to combine and coat each grain of rice with the mixture.

Allow to cool to room temperature before using to make sushi or sashimi.

Makes 2 cups

Morrocan Carrot Salad.jpg

Moroccan Carrot Salad with Paprika and Cumin

I love Moroccan food, especially the numerous “small dishes” that lead up to the entree. The cold carrot salad is one of my favorites, and this is my favorite recipe for that dish

  • 1 lb. fresh carrots
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, partially crushed
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

Slice carrots into 1/2 inch thick rounds, and boil in salted water until tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Drain and immediately cover the carrots with cold water to stop further cooking. Once cold, drain again.

In a medium pot or skillet, gently sauté the garlic cloves in the olive oil for two or three minutes over low heat. Discard the garlic, and add the carrots, lemon juice, cilantro, mint, and spices.

Sauté over low heat for another two minutes, and remove from the heat.

Serve either warm or chilled (I prefer chilled).

Marinated-Asian-Cucumber-Salad

Asian Cucumber Salad

  • 2 cucumbers, thinly sliced
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3/4 cup fine sugar
  • 2 Tbs toasted sesame seeds

Toss together the cucumbers and onion in a large bowl. Combine the vinegar, water and sugar in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, and pour over the cucumber and onions.

Cover and refrigerate until cold. Stir in sesame seeds, and serve.

This can also be eaten at room temperature, but be sure to allow the cucumbers to marinate for at least 1 hour.


 

Cover in frameThe Home Chef: Transforming the American Kitchen

Something amazing has begun to happen in the last two decades, something that has never before happened in the history of cooking…instead of growing wider, the gap between the home cook and the professional chef has actually begun to narrow, and continues to narrow exponentially with each passing year.

The time when these specialized skills were limited to those who could afford the cost and time required for culinary school are quickly passing into history.

The time when the sole requirement to elevate your cooking skills to this level…passion…is emerging.

It’s an amazing time to become a Home Chef…and if you have that passion, I’ll show you how.

Welcome!

Chef Perry P. Perkins

amazon

The Best Holiday Turkey in 90 Minutes!

Fast Roast Turkey

Just in time for Thanksgiving…perfect roasted whole turkey in just 90 minutes!

Every year I cook up a bunch of turkeys (11 this year, a new record!) and take them to a local homeless shelter for their annual Thanksgiving dinner. Even with some amazing volunteer’s help, that’s a lot of turkeys!

Spatchcocking* not only allows me to roast a turkey in (less than) half the time, it also results in more even roasting (ie: a juicy turkey breast), and more flavor by browning all of the skin, not just the skin on top.

Here’s a video I put together of the whole process, from roasting to slicing…

*Spatchcocking involves removing the backbone from tail to neck so that the bird can be opened out flat (also referred to as butterflying). This method results in a much shorter cooking time. It also allows for easier access to the cavity and exterior of the chicken for seasoning purposes.

This method works just as well for all types of poultry, roasting an average-sized chicken in just 30 minutes!

The Highlights

  • 12-14lb turkey, spatchcocked
  • Preheat oven to 450F
  • Roast 90 minutes, rest 20 minutes

Oh, and if you really want to amp up the flavor and juiciness of your bird, brine it! You can check our our post My Best Brined Turkey Recipe, over at our youth outreach site, MY KITCHEN Outreach Program.

Happy Thanksgiving!

~Chef Perry

(By the way, if you’re enjoying this article, you may want to subscribe to our free newsletter; and get even more Chef’s tips, tricks, and techniques. Plus, you’ll be helping us teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk teens!)


Looking for more great holiday recipes? Check out the new guidebook, “Holiday Cooking: A Home Chef’s Guide.” NOW AVAILABLE ON AMAZON!


Holiday Cooking: A Home Chef's Guide

Healthy School Lunches your Kids will Eat!

healthy homemade school lunches

A healthy breakfast & lunch are vital for attention and learning, and help keep kids focused and alert all day. I’ve taught hundreds of kids to plan and cook for themselves, and the vast majority of them, given the opportunity, will choose healthy, nutritious foods if they taste good, are offered in variety, and if they feel like they are allowed to choose for themselves.

Healthy school lunch ideas
Click the image to watch this morning’s segment on the AM Northwest webpage!

Ham and cheese wraps in lunch boxVariety

Kids get bored with the same old, same old…and a variety of foods helps ensure more balanced nutrition.

  • Wraps are sturdier and less messy to eat. Who wants to eat a smooshed sandwich?
  • Quesadillas are quick and easy to make. Ham & Cheese, Pizza, Turkey and cheddar
  • Vary hot and cold lunches. A thermos of their favorite soup or stew is a nice break from cold lunch, especially in winter.
  • A hot sandwich, wrapped in foil, will stay warm in a thermos, all day!
  • Pita Pockets are easy to eat, less messy, and because pita it denser than sandwich bread, you can assemble them the night before, and they won’t get soggy.

Tip: Small rewards for bringing home rinsed dishes and thermos’ are totally worth it!

yumbox-lunchboxLeftovers of favorite dinners make GREAT lunches

  • Slightly under-cook veggies, so they don’t turn to mush when re-heated.
  • If you struggle to get them to eat it at home, don’t bother packing it for lunch.
  • Let you kid’s help make the meal. Kid’s LOVE to bring and brag, and are twice as likely to eat something they helped make.
  • No kid worth their My Little Pony back-pack doesn’t like cold pizza!

Lunchable

Homemade “Lunchables”

Kids love stuff they can assemble!

  • Deli meat: slice it into cracker-size squares, and put it right back in the bag!
  • Cheese slices: Ditto
  • Crackers, whole wheat pita pockets, small flour tortillas
  • Raw veggies (carrots, celery, bell peppers, cucumbers, etc.)
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Pickles
  • Trail mix
  • Treat (cookie, pudding, yogurt, etc.)
  • A 011316.f.ff.LostItalianwhole rotisserie chicken can make a week’s worth of protein for one hungry teen-ager or a couple of littles! Chicken legs, chicken with rice (use your rice-cooker), chicken salad wraps, sliced chicken-breast pitas…the list is endless!
  • Check out the bulk food section, it’s not just rice and beans anymore. Buying staple lunch items in bulk can save a ton of money over the same items in pretty bags.
  • Want to add a little more variety, without buying the whole produce section? Check out my post, “Shopping the Salad Bar!” over on our outreach page!

Make a master list of healthy lunch ingredients, and let your kids take turns choosing items from each food group the next time you go shopping. It works, it really does.

Save yourself some time!

Does it really need to be sliced on a perfect bias? Does every sandwich need to be cut into cute shapes and adorned with smiley faces? We’re not Martha Stewart, people, and nobody’s giving out Michelin Stars for the contents of our kid’s lunch bags. 😉

CARROTSTICKSFresh fruits and veggies begin to lose their flavor and texture as soon as they’re cut. My daughter is just as happy gnawing on a 4 inch hunk of cucumber, or popping whole grape tomatoes. Slice you veggies into manageable pieces in advance, and store in a large, sealed container of cold water for the week.

Spend those precious minutes assembling fresh, quality foods that your kids will eat. Flavor will trump fancy every time!

Chef or Cob salads are quick and easy to assemble. Send with a small reuseable container of their favorite dressing, and a baggie of croutons.

What to Skip

Bananas do NOT travel well, and nobody want to eat a brown, mushy banana. Save the bananas for breakfast! Always wrap the stems in foil.

Prepackaged “lunchables”. Sure they’re convenient, but you’re paying double, sometimes triple, for something you can easily assemble (with fresh fruit and veggies!) yourself.

16236AProbably the biggest rip-off in home-packed lunches are juice boxes.

Non-recyclable containers filled with a few swallow of sugar-laden “fruit” juice, and a grossly inflated price…ugh! Invest in a few reusable drink bottles, and fill them with pure, no-sugar-added juices at a fraction of the cost.

This goes for just about any “individual serving size” items (chips, cookies, fruits & veggies, trail-mix, etc.,)

All of these can be purchased in family-size portions, and added to a sandwich baggie for pennies on the dollar.

Assemble

Make it a team effort!

Make a (supervised) lunch “assembly line” in the morning. Kids can pick and choose what they want from a selection of meats, cheeses, fruits and veggies. All YOU need to do is pop a treat in the bag at the end of the line!

Stop over-paying for greasy burgers, spongy pizza, and chemical-laden processed “convenience” foods, and give your kids a leg up on learning with fresh, healthy, money-saving lunches.

They deserve it (and so do you!)

~Chef Perry

PS – Be sure to subscribe to my blog, and get many more healthy, delicious, budget-friendly tips, techniques, and recipes!


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