“Sesame Butterflied Chicken, Peanut Sauce, Asian Slaw and Rice Noodles” from ” Superfood Family Classics”

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Kirstin: I would definitely recommend making the slaw. But even with my best attempts at putting the chilli peppers into our food processor they still tended to slip in sideways and did not end up the way they looked in the picture! That said, I was pleasantly surprised by the sauce; not very nice by itself but I thought it tasted ok with the chicken. However, this recipe was a tad uninspiring. I do hope this isn’t the start of a sad month of average recipes. Gah!

“Sesame Butterflied Chicken, Peanut Sauce, Asian Slaw and Rice Noodles” from ” Superfood Family Classics”

“Chargrilled Chicken and Chorizo Club Classic” from “Happy Salads”

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When we go to eat at Leon, the thing I love most about the experience is I always feel that I’m eating something that’s good for me. Obviously, it tastes good, but it also leaves me with a feeling of wholesomeness that I really don’t get anywhere else I stop at for lunch in London.

This dinner to me felt like that experience and quintessential Leon: Good to eat and good FOR me. What a winner.

It’s got layers of goodness: salad leaves on the bottom, followed by quinoa, peas, roasted red peppers, followed by chargrilled chicken thighs, chorizo, and finally adorned with garlic mayonnaise and french dressing. What’s not to like?

In the interest of full disclosure, Andrew (age 16) and I hoovered it up and loved it all. Tim liked it but later admitted that he’s not a fan of quinoa. When pressed if it was because he didn’t like the taste of it, or just didn’t like that it had become trendy, he admitted that it may  be the latter. Nicholas (13) was really not a fan at all, having picked through to eat only the chicken and the chorizo. When asked what he didn’t like about it, he couldn’t really say,

When I pointed out to Andrew that he actually happily ate a plate full of salad, he remarked, “I must be growing up and getting old.” Ha.

Would I make this again? Absolutely. But maybe it would be on a night where Nicholas wasn’t home.

 

“Chargrilled Chicken and Chorizo Club Classic” from “Happy Salads”

“Tomato and Basil Salad” from “Happy Salads”

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Do I really need a recipe for Tomato and Basil Salad (also known as Carprese salad)? No. I do not.

What I always *do* need, though, is the recipe for salad dressing. No matter how many times I’ve made it, I seem to have some sort of mental block when it comes to the ratio of oil to vinegar. I can never remember it. (Note to self: it’s a 3-to-1 ratio).

I’m cautiously optimistic, however, that after a month of eating salad (and making its dressing) out of “Happy Salads”, that I will remember the ratio in the future. We’ll see.

Needless to say, when I brought this out to the table, Tim asked, “Do you really need a recipe for this salad?” To be fair, it’s one of three recipes on a page called, “3 Ways With Mozzarella,” an effort I can definitely get behind.

For the record, the dressing for this Caprese Salad was 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar, 1 small shallot finely diced, and a 1/2 clove of garlic, crushed to a paste. It was good and would work on a number of salads, not just this one.

So you could argue that a recipe for tomato-mozzeralla-basil salad with dressing is a bit superfluous. But if this book is going to cover all the bases for Happy Salads, surely this would be one of them. It’s always a hit.

Would eat again.

“Tomato and Basil Salad” from “Happy Salads”

“Wholegrain Basmati Rice Greek-Style Salad” from “Sirocco”

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Here in the U.K., we celebrated the Queen’s 90th Birthday this weekend. This was her second birthday this year, because her actual birth date is 21 April, but when you’re the queen, you get two birthday celebrations: one for your birth date and another for when the weather is better. (I just did a bit of research and this is the ACTUAL reason.)

It’s good to be the Queen. Obviously.

So why am I nattering on about the queen and what does it have to do with the Greek Rice Salad pictured above? Well, for those of you who pay attention to these sorts of things, Queen Elizabeth II is married to Prince Phillip, who himself is of Greek heritage. We got invited to a Street Party to celebrate the queen’s birthday, so I decided the perfect thing to bring to it would be this Greek Salad.

It would have been perfect, except for the fact that I hadn’t planned it it taking more than nine hours* (not a typo) to make the cake for the cake competition at the party. The cake got done, but I ran out of time to make the Greek Rice Salad before the party began, so we had to have it for dinner instead.

Once we settled down to dinner, it got a thumbs up all around. It is exactly what it says on the tin– Greek salad (tomatoes, olives, cucumbers, red onions, feta and seasoning) combined with rice. It’s a winner.

Tim accused me of putting in more feta than was called for, but actually I followed the recipe, so it was the right amount. It would be the perfect thing to bring to a street party or family picnic. Anything where attending with a salad in your arms was required.

It was also delicious the next day for lunch. A bit of liquid had pooled in the bottom of the tupperware container, but a quick mix with a spoon fixed that.

Would I make it again? Indeed I would.

 

*(If you’re wondering why said cake took nine hours, here’s a picture. The blue cake is blueberry and the red cake is raspberry, all covered in buttercream.)

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“Wholegrain Basmati Rice Greek-Style Salad” from “Sirocco”

“Bo Bun Salad” from “It’s All Easy”

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Tom: This is yum! This is like being at Slanted Door.

Kirstin: Ah. So we had Zuni and now Slanted Door.

Tom: All my favourite restaurants in San Francisco.

Kirstin: You know I’ve never been to Slanted Door, but you always tell me about it. One day!

Tom: Well I like going there on a Thursday lunch time and having a cheeky lunch.

Kirstin: But without me!

Tom: Well I wish you were there! And this is yum!

Kirstin: It has all the Vietnamese feels, doesn’t it?

Tom: It’s the fried shallots…

Kirstin: Yes, I’m going to smell of fried shallots all day now. Oooops. Also I couldn’t find palm sugar, sorry Gwyneth. And I still don’t have a spiralizer, so I bought the courgette ready spiralized. And the Armenian cucumber. I have no idea what that was all about. So a bit of a faff, but worth every second.

Tom: This is epic! My favourite lunch for a very long time.

Kirstin: I think we need to go to Vietnam some time. It’s so delicious! Right, let’s going back to listening to The Police.

“Bo Bun Salad” from “It’s All Easy”

“Spring Fattoush Salad” from “It’s All Easy”

Kirstin: Tom was working from home last week so I thought I should make him a special lunch one day. So I made this. Bloody easy, very yummy, and yes, yes, yes. I would definitely make it again. The flat bread totally made this recipe. I left it at the bottom of the salad so it could soak up some of the dressing. I also added a couple of 7 minute eggs as the protein along with the feta cheese. Perfect.

“Spring Fattoush Salad” from “It’s All Easy”

“Buttermilk Fried Boneless Chicken” with “Garbage Salad” from “My Street Food Kitchen”

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Do you know how sometimes you make a dinner that is so resoundingly successful that everyone leaves the table full and happy?

This was one of those nights.

To be clear, dinner at our house is usually OK, but someone will always have a criticism of one thing or another. “It could have used more seasoning” or “It’s fine, but I don’t love it” or “I’m not really in the mood for [insert any type of food here]” or “I just didn’t fancy it” or “I’m not that hungry” or “It could have been presented better.” (The last comment seems to occur most often when we’re in the midst of a Masterchef season. Needless to say, I don’t take that comment all that well.)

But this ticked all the boxes. Delicious. Check. Relatively straight forward preparation. Check. Foods that we know and love. Check.

As an added bonus, it had a connection to Chicago, the city where we fell in love, earned our graduate degrees and started our life together. Needless to say, Chicago has a special place in my heart. “Garbage salad” is from there, and we used to eat it often [though they never called it this] at our favourite Italian restaurant when we were first married.

I’m not sure why it’s called Garbage Salad, but I do know that it uses loads of ingredients that we love that you don’t typically find in a traditional salad, including salami and provolone cheese. In the interest of full disclosure, I did not follow this recipe to the letter, because I knew from experience you can put any number of different things into a garbage salad. I didn’t use any of the things I knew we wouldn’t like: radicchio and radishes, I’m looking at you. I also couldn’t include some of the things she called for, like pepperoncini, which I couldn’t find anywhere.

But no matter, as it still was a Garbage Salad and it was still delicious.

The fried chicken also was a success. This required more than the usual planning to make, as you have to make a dry brine that the chicken needs to sit in overnight or for at least 12 hours. I managed, for once, to plan ahead and get it done. It was a step well worth doing, as the thighs themselves were full of flavour.

Like I said: Yum.

Will we have it again? What do you think?

A version of the Buttermilk Fried Chicken is on the BBC Good Food website. The only difference I could find is in the version I made you use boneless thighs, and on the BBC she uses any chicken parts. Click through that sentence to see the recipe yourself.

Alas, I could not find a copy of Jennifer Joyce’s Garbage Salad anywhere on the Internet, but this one is a pretty close copy. As I said above, I don’t think you have to strictly follow any recipe when you make Garbage Salad. The clue is in the name. (Though don’t add beans, like they do in this version. That is just plain wrong.)

 

“Buttermilk Fried Boneless Chicken” with “Garbage Salad” from “My Street Food Kitchen”