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Ensalada Rusa

Ensalada Rusa

 

Ensalada Rusa, or Russian Salad, is a Peruvian side dish my family always makes for holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas. This fuchsia-forward salad is comprised of finely-cut jewels– potatoes, green beans, hard-boiled eggs, carrots and celery; but the main gem here is the beet.

Earthy and slightly sweet, beets bring life (and extreme color) to this salad. Composing all parts together in a bowl is nothing short of delightful, watching the purple stain grow from a whisper to a shout, bleeding dominance.

Ensalada Rusa is fairly straight-forward to make but it can take some time to prepare the vegetables. You can hunker down and do them all in one fell swoop or carry the load out over the course of a couple days, which is what I did. Either way will produce a wonderfully tasting salad that will feast your eyes and hunger.

 

Ensalada Rusa

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Yield: 6-8

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 pounds beets, washed and trimmed
  • 1 1/4 pounds red potatoes, peeled, diced
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 pound green beans, washed, trimmed, and blanched; chopped small
  • 3 small carrots, peeled and diced, about 1 cup
  • 3 stalks celery, diced, about 1 cup
  • 2 cups mayonnaise, preferably homemade
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Wrap beets tightly into a pouch of aluminum foil and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick easily pierces the middle of the fattest beet. Unwrap from aluminum foil and let cool for 30 minutes. Peel skin under running cool water, and cut into small dice. Put in a large bowl.
  3. Add 2 quarts of cool water into a large pot with 2 tablespoons of salt, sugar, and white or rice wine vinegar. Add the diced potatoes, and bring water to a boil. Let boil for 10 minutes or until a toothpick easily pierces the middle of the potatoes. Drain, and spread out on baking sheet to cool. Add to large bowl with beets.
  4. Add 3 quarts of cool water into a large pot and bring to a boil. With a slotted spoon, carefully submerge the eggs. Let them boil for 30 seconds, then turn the heat down to a simmer and cover with lid. Cook for 11 minutes. Shock in ice water for 15 minutes before peeling under cool, running water. Chop.
  5. Add the blanched green beans, carrots, celery, mayonnaise, salt, and pepper to large bowl and combine. Add chopped eggs and combine gently.

 

// More Peruvian salads and things: 

 

 

 

Kit Lang - Looks delicious! I’m going to try this soon. 🙂

Spaghetti Squash and Sweet Potato Gratin with Brie

Spaghetti Squash and Sweet Potato Gratin with Brie

 

I’ve been thinking long and hard about spaghetti squash lately. Long strands of amber, delicately tangled; the soft chew before it melts in my mouth. This daydream was all-consuming.

Soon thereafter, I began formulating the plan for turning my spaghetti squash fantasy into reality. I wanted to preserve its’ natural earthy flavor but also pair it with something mildly sweet, like red garnet potatoes. And, without argument, it would all bathe in a luscious, ambrosial liquid of cream and cheese. What I wanted, what I really wanted, was a gratin.

 

Spaghetti Squash and Sweet Potato Gratin with Brie

 

When everything was said and done I took a bite.

It was. Incredible.

The spaghetti squash was tender, yielding effortlessly beneath the weight of my spoon. Deeper still were the soft layers of potato– a duo of red and sweet, submerged in an herby cream sauce, a luxurious layer of sliced triple cream brie separating the two. I’m going to say this at the risk of sounding very clichĂ©, but…it was an orchestra of flavors. I think I cried.

 

Spaghetti Squash and Sweet Potato Gratin with Brie

 

 

Spaghetti Squash and Sweet Potato Gratin with Brie

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes

Yield: 6 sides

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 pound spaghetti squash (about 4 cups spaghetti squash strands)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1/4 cup freshly chopped parsley
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3/4 pound red garnet sweet potato, peeled
  • 3/4 pound red potato, peeled
  • 8 ounces triple cream Brie cheese, rind removed, sliced

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  2. Pierce the spaghetti squash all over and put on the baking sheet; bake for about 60-80 minutes or until fork tender. Let cool before cutting in half lengthwise and scooping out the seeds. Shred flesh with a fork to make strands.
  3. Butter a 9x13 baking dish.
  4. In a medium-sized saucepot set over medium-low heat, pour in the heavy cream, evaporated milk, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, parsley, garlic, butter, salt, and pepper.
  5. Using a mandolin set to 1/8" thickness or a knife, slice the potatoes thin and place into the saucepot with the cream. Let this come to a slight bubble; approximately 5-7 minutes.
  6. Layer the bottom of the baking dish with the sweet potatoes. Add half of the spaghetti squash. Scatter Brie slices all over. Add a layer of red potatoes, and then finish with last of spaghetti squash. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese.
  7. Bake in the oven for about 60-80 minutes, until sauce is bubbly, top is golden brown, and potatoes are super fork tender.
  8. Let stand about 5 minutes before serving. Add additional parsley, if desired.

Notes

Recipe adapted from Food Network and New York Times Cooking

If you choose, you can omit the evaporated milk and use all heavy cream or vice versa.

 

// More gratins, quiches, and tarts: 

 

 

 

Esquites (Mexican Corn Salad)

Esquites (Mexican Corn Salad)

 

I am fully prepared to receive any contempt for writing a recipe featuring corn in the dead of winter. And not just ordinary corn, but frozen corn. Am I digging myself into a deeper grave? *pauses shoveling*

Please hear me out.

I realize we are about 5 months beyond the pinnacle of fresh corn bounty, with its plump, sticky sweet kernels and messy strands of silk that we find irresistibly difficult to not throw into everything we eat in late summer. But.

I’m human. I have needs and desires. And sometimes, just sometimes, I bear a yearning for something that isn’t in season. That’s when I turn to frozen vegetables.

If you can find an excellent quality of frozen vegetable (hell, if you managed to freeze your own from summer’s harvest even better), and the recipe adapts to it, trust when I say the dish will turn out pretty fantastic regardless. Esquites, this Mexican corn salad, is a beautiful example.

Sometime last year I discovered that you can buy bags of frozen, fire-roasted corn at the grocery store. Since then, I’ve been buying them in bulk to stash in the freezer because they are absolutely terrific to toss in at a moment’s notice. They work wondrously for esquites– sweet and juicy with a definite bold, charred flavor.

I go crazy for elotes, Mexican corn on the cob slathered with garlicky, lime mayonnaise and rolled in Cotija cheese and chile powder. Esquites is basically that in salad, bowl form; it is less messy for sure (a good alternative for first dates because who really wants to exchange likes and dislikes with mayonnaise and corn kernels plastered on face…?) but no less delicious. The flavors in this thing are jolting in a great way.

The corn is tossed in a pungent garlic and lime laced mayonnaise sauce and then anchored together with the herby, bright flavors of cilantro and scallions. The morsels of queso fresco distributed throughout provide a welcoming delicate quality to the esquites that softens the bite some.

The flavors in this Mexican corn salad deepen and enhance the more it sits at room temperature, so restrain yourself from eating it for at least 30 minutes after preparing, difficult as it may be; the experience of tasting this will be worthwhile I promise you.

 

Esquites (Mexican Corn Salad)

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 4 as a side, 2 as a meal

Ingredients

  • 1 - 1 pound bag frozen fire-roasted corn kernels, thawed
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons mayonnaise, preferable homemade
  • 2 medium garlic cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons minced seeded and deveined serrano chile
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced scallions
  • 1/3 cup chopped cilantro leaves
  • Zest of 1/2 lime
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon New Mexico chile powder
  • 3 ounces queso fresco, crumbled

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, add the corn and mayonnaise. Mince the garlic with 1/4 teaspoon salt and crush with side of knife to make a garlicky paste. Add garlic paste, serrano chile, scallions, cilantro, lime zest and juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and chile powder to bowl; mix. Lastly, add queso fresco and combine gently. Let this sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes if you can help it as this helps develop the flavors even more.

Notes

Adapted from Serious Eats

When corn is in season, I'd use fresh, local corn and roast them myself on the grill. For this method, bank on using about 4 ears of corn.

 

// Other corny things:

 

 

 

Karly - Oh Mexican Corn, how I love thee. This has me drooling and daydreaming of summertime, and I’m loving every bit of it!

A Healthy You in 2017 + Tropical Smoothie Cafe Giveaway

Tropical Smoothie Cafe Detoxing Smoothie

 

Well, it’s that time again my friends. With all the festivities, cookies, champagne, hangovers, crazy weird uncles, and pie behind us (well, for a short while at least), many of us are looking to make some serious adjustments to our diet as we kickstart 2017. I, for one am pledging to drink a little less and exercise a lot more.

Also, drink more smoothies.

I just scored a shiny new Vitamix blender for Christmas so when Tropical Smoothie Cafe was nice enough to share a special recipe for their Detoxing Smoothie with me, I couldn’t be more delighted.

I’ll be upfront with you. When I looked at some of the ingredients for their Detoxing Smoothie, I was hesitant. Kale. Avocado. Ginger. Celery?

But you know what? It was delicious. The sweetness of the green apple, the brightness of the lemon, and the butteriness of the avocado really balance everything together. It’s so surprisingly good and was pleasurable to drink. And I felt like I nourished my body with some pretty awesome things, too.

2017 will be only as good as we make it. Let’s focus on how we can make impacts– with other people, with ourselves. Health and fitness have played an important role in my life over the past several years, much of which has granted me happiness, physical strength, and confidence, just to name a few. Making a conscious effort to feed my body nutritious food has made a huge improvement in my overall health.

 

So with that in mind, and working towards shaping new and positive impacts on others, I’m giving away 2 – $25 gift cards to Tropical Smoothie Cafe*.

To enter this contest, share how you will work to better your health this year in the comments below. To increase your chance of winning, tweet this post and mention me @wokinglunges. Good luck!

*Contest open to U.S. residents only. Contest dates run from January 3 – January 5, 2017 11:59 pm EST. I will announce the winner on January 6, 2017. 

 

In the meantime, check out Tropical Smoothie Cafe’s newest line-up of smoothies:

Detox Island Green– spinach, kale, mango, pineapple, banana and fresh ginger

Chia Blueberry Max– roasted banana, chia seeds, blueberries, peanut butter, almonds, dates, coconut, cinnamon, whole grain oats and whey protein

Health Nut– blueberries, mango, banana, almonds and your choice of protein

Immune Blast– banana, orange, apple, and orange juice

 

 

Tropical Smoothie Cafe 2017 Promo

 

Tropical Smoothie Cafe

 

Tropical Smoothie Cafe's Detoxing Smoothie

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 2

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 green apple, chopped
  • 1 inch piece ginger, peeled
  • 1/2 cup spinach
  • 1/4 cup kale, ribs removed
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 cup peeled, chopped cucumber
  • 1/2 avocado, chopped
  • 1/2 cup coconut water
  • 1 1/2 cups ice

Instructions

  1. Add all ingredients into a blender and give it a whir until smooth and bright green.

 

// More healthy treats: 

 

 

 

David - year I have decided to cut soda from my diet entirely. I also live close enough to work that I should walk when the weather allows it, and I plan to take advantage of that.

Jordan D. - I’m trying to work towards reducing my intake of processed/packaged foods by snacking less and doing more weekend meal prep in my crockpot. Another goal I have is to get better at drinking water! I downloaded a water tracking app on my phone to help me reach my goals! I’d love to win this giveaway, thanks for the chance 🙂

Jennai - I have already begun with aqua aerobics classes. I also plan to drink more water and walk a lot more!

k9maiz@hotmail.com - I have always had trouble following through on good faith efforts concerning diet and exercise. I developed horrible eating habits at a very early age as a result of medication side effects that went unchecked and emotional trauma. I stopped lifting weights regularly in my early twenties and have sporadically lifted every couple years since. I’ve had a solid knowledge base on exercise and nutrition most of my life and over the years the science innovations of both have supplemented and revised that base, but my motivation and willingness to commit to changing my lifestyle has continually faltered.

This year I have hope in making the change and social media has a lot to do with the steps I’ve taken. Inspiration and access to instructionals online are kick-starting my year, but again seeing others on Twitter and Instagram are invaluable. I’ve started using kettle-bells for weight training, I’ve shied away from barbells because of certain hand injuries and the kettle-bells offer more versatility. I’m cutting soda/diet soda out again, especially after the Diet Coke Holiday Binge of 2016. Sugar is horrible and I significantly cut back in 2016, but it creeps back into the diet too easily because it is in EVERYTHING. Read the labels, stay vigilant! I love raw veggies, so incorporating them along with using more greens is ideal. I also believe that preparing more meals in advance is necessary for my personal success.

Whatever your goals are for the new year I wish you good luck and happy health. Damn good recipes on this blog, can’t wait for the cookbook!

Judith - i will go to the gym more often

Amie martin - This year I’m planning to focus more on strength training and diet. I’ve been slacking in these two areas and it’s high time I did something about it!!

Chris - I will stop eating my wifes ice cream after she goes to sleep in 2017

Papa a la Huancaina

Papa a la Huancaina

 

For me, food and family are intrinsically connected. Many of my most vivid memories as a child revolve around, you guessed it, eating. Born and raised in Peru, I really had no choice at all but to fall in love with food. Cooking and sharing meals with family and friends is central to our culture, and perhaps a reason why food blogging is a natural extension of myself. I may also just be extremely biased and think Peruvian food is the best ever and want you to eat a lot of it all the time forever. I am out of control.

I mentioned sharing. This potato salad you definitely need to share. I mean, look at it, it’s huge. Hey! Here’s another fun fact about Peruvians: we don’t know how to make only a little bit of something, only a whole lot of something, plus more just in case. Modesty is not in our nomenclature.

Papa a la huancaina is a cold potato salad often served as an appetizer or first course at parties. The potatoes are first boiled, peeled, and then sliced before being scattered over fresh lettuce leaves and doused with glorious, spicy, aji amarillo cream sauce. Hard-boiled eggs are cut into quarters and black olives are sliced in half before getting strewn on top. Papa a la huancaina is a delight to eat– it’s unbelievably creamy from the tenuity of the potatoes and the richness of the egg yolks; every bite yields readily in your mouth.

 

 

Papa a la Huancaina

 

Papa a la Huancaina

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 12

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 10 ounces queso fresco, crumbled
  • 7 hard-boiled eggs, separated
  • 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 3 aji amarillo peppers (2 seeded, 1 whole)
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 8 red-skinned potatoes, boiled, peeled, cut into 3/4" slices
  • Iceberg lettuce
  • Black olives, halved

Instructions

  1. Set a small frypan over medium heat and pour in the olive oil. Add the yellow onion, garlic, salt, and pepper and saute until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes. Let cool cool slightly.
  2. In a blender, add the onion and garlic mixture, queso fresco, 1 hard-boiled egg, 3/4 teaspoons salt, aji amarillo peppers, and evaporated milk. Puree until absolutely smooth, about 3-5 minutes. Taste for seasonings.
  3. To serve, arrange iceberg lettuce on bottom of platter. Scatter sliced potatoes over the lettuce and pour huancaina sauce all over. Dot with sliced hard-boiled eggs and black olives. Enjoy!

Notes

This is a little on the spicy side. If you'd prefer, you can leave out the seeds from the aji amarillo when you blend it up. Give it a taste and if you want to make it spicier, add some of the seeds in at that point and give it another whir. This way, you can adjust to your palate.

Aji amarillo peppers can be found at Latin American markets. I like to use the whole, frozen kind. You can also use whole, jarred or jarred in paste form. If you're using aji amarillo in paste form, use about 2 tablespoons for this sauce.

 

Papa a la Huancaina

 

// More Peruvian foodstuffs: