Dijon

Fifty Shades of Salad #2: Scallion White Wine Vinaigrette

Maybe I’m not the biggest White Wine Vinegar fan? Maybe I’m craving whole grain mustard instead of a singular texture? I’ll try again with my work salad today. Regardless of my “meh” feeling, this one got the seal of approval from various gentlemen visiting our apartment – all claiming willingness to have this dressing again.

While I’m thinking of it: what are your opinions on bottling homemade salad dressings for Christmas gifts? I’m not trying to start a holiday panic; I’m trying to think ahead. I always see the most interesting glass bottles and other eclectic craftsy things on sale during the summer. Is it because people are too busy flocking to beaches and vacation destinations to craft things? People who are talented at this sort of thing (crafting), please fill me in….

The original version of this recipe in my notes called for one raw shallot, but multiple years of avoiding green onions in my stereotypically-Japanese-American favorite childhood snack of miso soup has made me use them in en masse.

P.S. If you chop an onion while it’s submerged in water, your eyes won’t tear up. Stay happy! Cooking is fun!

Scallion White Wine Vinaigrette

Whisk together 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar + 2 teaspoons Dijon + 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt + pepper to taste + 3 green onions, tips cut off, thinly sliced + 1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

That Week I Obsessed Over Whole Grain Mustard and Thyme Led to Fun with Chicken and a Healthy Potato Salad

The problem with going to the market immediately after work without a plan is bringing home the most random combinations of ingredients. This should technically push me to try cooking new things. I understand it is important to grow as a person and home cook, but one of my biggest annoyances is coming home with multiple bags of groceries and discovering I need to go back to the store for something else.

This happens much more often than it should.

I call people from the grocery store if I’m not with Mr. Right. There’s something comforting in moseying through the aisles while catching up with someone I want to see much more often than I actually get to. Wait….maybe this is the reason I come home with such random things….

This week, I was on the phone with my mother. I found myself pausing in my usual haunts – cheese counter (for black olive Mediterranean goat cheese), meat counter (damn, scallops were expensive this week, but Santa Monica Seafood is so far away during 5:00 PM traffic). Somehow, I ended up examining condiments.

I love condiments. I carry sea salt, Tapatio, and Sriracha in my purse. That’s how much I love them. Maybe I’d seen Grey Poupon being passed out of a car window too many times, but I found myself fascinated by the multitude of mustards in front of me.

I could have been reminiscing about the time I stumbled through West Hollywood from street hot dog vendor to street hot dog vendor in search of “regular yellow mustard, not Dijon mustard.” (A wasted – in slang terms and psychologically – two hours of my life.)

I ended up purchasing a jar of Whole Grain Garlic Mustard. I also accidentally bought fresh thyme when it was already in my fridge. Whoops.

Baked Chicken Breasts with Parmesan Crust
Shout out to “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” Alum Ted Allen for the recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • salt
  • cayenne
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves – sliced lengthwise
  • 3/4 cup grated parmigiano reggiano cheese
  • 3/4 cup panko bread crumbs

Pre-heat your oven to 450 and cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Combine the mustard, chopped fresh thyme, and salt to taste in one bowl. Combine the cheese and bread crumbs in another bowl.

Coat the chicken breast halves in the mustard/thyme mixture first, then the cheese/bread crumb combination. Place on the foil-covered baking sheet and sprinkle with cayenne to taste.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden and cooked through.

Thanks, crappy fluorescent kitchen lights for making my chicken look a strange shade of orange. It still looks pretty damn good though, no?

Nicoise Potato Salad
For once, Martha Stewart sent me to the races with a good idea. ALSO, the dressing in this recipe is good on any salad, not just this one.

Ingredients:

  • Bag of new/small/baby/nugget/snack-size potatoes – try to find one with purple potatoes, if you can. They’re ridiculously pretty once they’re cooked
  • Green Beans
  • 1/2 Red Onion – finely diced
  • 1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 4 teaspoons whole grain mustard (my nemesis at this point)
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, and prepare a bowl of ice water. (BTW: what you’re about to do is blanch, for those of you who like the sound of chefly verbs.)

Prepare the green beans by rinsing them with water and snapping off the ends (they’re like asparagus, they’ll tell you where they want to be snapped off magically.) Immerse them in the boiling water and let them hang out there until they’re bright green (7-10 minutes.)

Remove the beans from the boiling water with a slotted spoon and dunk in the bowl of ice water. (This is blanching. It preserves the pretty color and stops the cooking process.)

Now add the potatoes to the boiling water. Cook until they’re soft enough to pierce very easily with a fork (10-15 minutes.)

While the potatoes are boiling, dice up the red onion and slice the green beans in half. Then, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, and thyme in the bottom of whatever large bowl you’ll be tossing your salad in.

Drain the potatoes and toss together with the onion, green beans, and dressing in the large bowl.

I brought this salad to work and someone in the museum clique stole it. At least that meant it was good? Beware the lunch thieves, people!