Wednesday, October 7, 2015

You ought to eat more vegetables if you are an average person.  Truth be told, if I get three fruits or vegetables in my diet a day, I feel like I am winning the battle against vegetables.  I try to make an honest effort but when I eat a vegetable heavy meal and I am starving an hour later.  Not that the excuse is necessary, you guys aren't my mom (all but one of you, hi, Mom!).  Fact of the matter, I could eat more vegetables.

Vegetables are also the place where I feel like a personal failure as a home cook.  I know I need to eat them, but I just don't like them as much as bread and meat things.  When I am planning the dinners for the week, it goes meat + starch + vegetable = meal.  The vegetable is usually one of those steam in a bag varieties.  Maybe I will remember to add some salt and pepper or a little butter.  Mostly we just force them down like an inconveniently sized vitamin.  I love this dish because it is LOADED with different vegetables and it is a break from boring old salad.

There is just something about brightly colored food that makes my mouth water.  It is a delight to the eye and a delight to the taste buds.  Zesty, spicy, crunchy and sweet.  This salad satisfies on many levels!

You will need:
1 small shallot, peeled and sliced into thin rings
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (about 2 limes)
1/4 medium serrano chile, seeded and minced
1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
1 large ripe mango
1 English cucumber, chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 TSP roasted salted peanuts

To start, take your shallot rings and dunk them into a bowl of ice water for about 20-30 minutes.  I don't know why or how, but this really takes the sharp bite out of the onion.  If you like 'em sharp, skip this step.

In a bowl, mix the lime juice, serrano, and cilantro together and set aside.

For the mango, you want to balance the stem end on your cutting board and slice off the 'cheeks' of the mango.  The center is a hard pit, so you are just cutting the flesh around it.  Take each cheek, and score the fruit with your knife with horizontal and vertical cuts.  You are making the fruit into cubes while still attached to the skin.  Scoop the fruit away from the skin with a spoon and you should have lovely square mango hunks.  Add the mango hunks to the lime juice mixture.

Next to the lime juice mix, add the cucumbers and tomatoes.  Drain the shallots from the ice water and add to the bowl.  Add in the kosher salt, and taste for seasoning.  Add more salt, serrano or lime if needed.  Toss well to mix and coat with lime.

In a small skillet over medium heat, add peanuts.  Toast in pan for 3-4 minutes, shaking frequently.  You want the peanuts to get fragrant and have some brown charred spots.  Top the salad with your roasted peanuts and serve.  Eat those veggies! :)

Things I've Googled this week #5

Monday, October 5, 2015

This is a fun little segment of the blog where I share the tips that I have been learning along the way.  I am forever googling things to make sure I am not missing any of the finer details of different cooking processes.  Maybe I can save you a little time and share what I have learned.

Q:  What do you do with chutney?

Chutney was always just the girl who shot her father in Legally Blonde - you know, the one who lied on the stand about showering since her curls were perfectly intact?  Laughs aside, there are 4 different chutney recipes in the Aarti Paarti cookbook, so I needed to learn about real chutney.  My favorite description that I have come across so far is that it is a mix of preserves and relish.  The ones I have tried thus far are spicy yet fruity and sweet.  They can be made from a number of things and are used as a condiment.  Sort if like there is 100 ways to use mayonnaise, the same goes for chutney.  A really good article explaining all the ways can be found here.  The ones I am eager to try are adding chutney to grilled cheese, using it as a tempura dip, and watering it down slightly and using for a marinade.  Did you know that ketchup is actually a chutney?  The more you know.

Q:  India's health rankings

I am a weirdo probably, but whenever I eat something that is really fresh or vegetable laden I am always looking up the health benefits of said food.  Aaron does the same thing.  We got a catalogue in the mail about all these walnut things, and now he is on a mega walnut kick because of all their vitamins and such.  I wanted to know if eating Indian food as frequently as natives meant any sort of betterment in our diets.  First off, be careful from falling into an internet back hole of statistics like I did, lol.  If anything, there are healthy and unhealthy foods in any cuisine on the earth, but in a CNN article I found, Indian cuisine ranks #5 in the most healthy ethnic cuisines list.

5. Indian
Say "Indian food," and you probably think of its aromatic spices, such as turmeric, ginger, red chilies, and garam masala (a mixture of cumin, cardamom, black pepper, cinnamon, coriander, and other spices).
These distinctive flavors do more than perk up your favorite curry: They may actually protect against some cancers. And turmeric and ginger help fight Alzheimer's, according to recent studies. Researchers point to the fact that rates of Alzheimer's in India are four times lower than in America, perhaps because people there typically eat 100 to 200 milligrams of curry everyday. 
Turmeric, a main ingredient in curry, may have anti-inflammatory and healing properties; its benefits are now being studied at the University of California at Los Angeles.
Other good-news ingredients in Indian cuisine include yogurt and lentils, a fiber-and-RS all-star that has significant amounts of folate and magnesium, and may help stabilize blood sugar. Lentils are often combined with Indian spices to make dal, usually served as a side dish. 
"A vegetable curry with dal is a great choice at an Indian restaurant," Largeman-Roth says.
Danger zone: Avoid anything fried, like samosas (pastry puffs) as well as heavy curries made with lots of cream and butter.
Source: http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/08/25/healthiest.ethnic.cuisines/

Q:  Gloves for peppers?

Because I have touched my eye on accident one too many times after slicing up a serrano pepper.  The burn just doesn't quit!  Now I know better and just use gloves if I am going to be chopping any hot pepper.  You can get what is probably a several years supply of gloves for under $10.  Yes please!

*contains an affiliate link which helps the site, thanks for your support!

Q:  Food Photography staging?

There is infinite amounts of information about food photography on the internet.  It would take a lifetime to read it all.  I think my best takeaway from all my reading is that I will find a few different food bloggers/photographers whose style I admire and look to them for ideas and inspiration, while following tried and true techniques like using natural lighting and such.  Like anything, it takes getting your feet wet and practicing to refine your style and skill.  I really liked this article.

Q:  Houston Foodie Groups?

Check Facebook, because there are a few!  Also there seemed to be several on Meetup.com.  I joined a few Facebook groups, so maybe I will have a chance to meet other Houston food enthusiasts sometime soon.  If you know of or belong to any good food groups, let me know!

Q:  Ingredients Totino's Pizza?

A certain husband of mine likes to act like the deliciously crispy Totino's Party Pizzas are the ultimate garbage food.  Like you may as well eat poison.  I wanted to dig a little deeper.  The party pizza is not the best food you can eat, but at least it isn't full of partially hydrogenated oils.  Those are real poison according to my college nutrition professor.  They are however made with imitation cheese, and the meat stuff on them is no better than cheap bologna.  They are delicious and I love them either way.  Info can be found here.

Q:  Why is Kosher salt capitalized?

I noticed this because it is in every recipe I make.  Is it a proper noun?  Just an adjective?  Well it is capitalized all through the cookbook, but I can't find definitive evidence that the capitalization is necessary.  Aaron, resident know-it-all, claims it shouldn't be capitalized but people might just because it is a foreign word.  If anyone has any information to the contrary, I will just go with that reasoning.

Edit 10/6 - a lightbulb went off when I was making a recipe tonight.  Kosher salt isn't capitalized when there is a measure in front of it in the recipe.  So I believe it is only capitalized because it is the start of an ingredient, like how the beginning word of a sentence is capitalized.  #Englishscholar

High-Five Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Sweet Jesus, fall is here at last!  Nothing says fall to me like sweet potatoes.  They take me right to the Thanksgiving dinner table, even in the middle of April.  My normal sweet potato routine is to bake them and add some butter and brown sugar.  Simple and delicious, no problems here! This potato was so remarkably complex.  Never have I had a sweet potato with chickpeas and pomegranate seeds, so I wasn't sure what to expect.  I didn't hate it.  It was just a lot of ingredients to the point of overkill.  Sweet potatoes have such a strong flavor, and so does tahini, so all the other flavors seemed to get lost in the shuffle.  This potato was tasty, but I had trouble tasting the sun dried tomatoes or the lemon.  Was it necessary to even bother with those?  I don't know the answer.

Honestly, I have to say I prefer my simple butter and brown sugar sweet potato to this creation, however I am really glad I tried it.  It reminds me of how when I go to the cheesecake factory and always get the dutch apple caramel streusel cheesecake.  Every time.  It isn't like we go to the cheesecake factory all the time, so when we go, I am not going to waste a cheesecake opportunity on a risk.  But a time or two, it happened.  They were out of my #1 favorite cheesecake and I had to pick something else.  And you know what?  My favorite has never been ousted from the top spot.  Dutch apple caramel streusel will always be my number one.  But I still ate and very much enjoyed the other cheesecakes.  Sometimes it is for the best that we are forced to try new things. :)

I will give props to this potato, it was SUPER filling.  This would make a really good vegetarian lunch that will keep you satiated for a good while.  Might be worth a try?

You will need:
4 sweet potatoes (each about 3/4 - 1 pound)
2 TBSP olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup hot water
1 TSP lemon zest
2 TBSP fresh lemon juice
1 TSP honey
1/8 TSP ground cinnamon
1 can of drained and rinsed chickpeas (15.5-oz can)
2 TBSP sun dried tomatoes packed in oil, sliced
3 TBSP minced fresh parsley leaves
2 TBSP toasted pine nuts
2 TBSP pomegranate seeds
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

I will share the recipe way and the fast way.  I used the fast way.  Recipe way:  preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper and use a baking rack over the paper.  Scrub  your potatoes well, pierce all over with a fork.  Coat the surface of the potatoes with a thin layer of olive oil.  Place potatoes on the baking rack, and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until potatoes can be easily pierced with a knife.  Remove from oven and set aside.

Natalie's fast way, because she works hard all day and doesn't want to spend hours in the kitchen making dinner: scrub your potatoes well.  Pierce several holes in the skin with a fork.  Lightly dampen a paper towel for each potato.  One at a time, wrap your potato in the damp paper towel.  It doesn't need to be extremely tight, but not loose either.  Microwave for 4 minutes.  Flip potato upside down and microwave another 3 minutes (or less depending on how cooked your potato feels midway through).  Boom, baked potato in minutes.  I microwave them one at a time because when I put more than one in they seem to heat unevenly and I have one that is very under done and one exploding from the heat.  I don't even oil them when I do this, so maybe it will save us a few calories.

For the topping, whisk together the 2 tbsp olive oil, tahini, hot water, lemon juice, lemon zest, honey and cinnamon.  Once those are combined, toss with the chickpeas, sun dried tomatoes, parsley, pine nuts, and pomegranate seeds.  Taste for seasoning.

Now to assemble, slice your potatoes lengthwise halfway through and press the ends to 'open' the inside.  Drizzle with some olive oil and add salt and pepper.  Pile in the chickpea mixture and top with some extra pine nuts, pomegranate seeds and/or parsley.  Dig in!

Masala Shrimp 'N' Grits

Monday, September 28, 2015

Oddly enough, being from the south kind of, I have never had shrimp and grits.  Side note, I don't really consider Texas the south, as we are just an entity all our own. This is a hot button issue and has been debated for decades.  Is Texas Southern?  Western?  Southern influences, sure, but we also have mega Latin flavor and western cowboy style too.  I actually would venture to say that the diving line between where southern starts and west begins is right through Houston.  Allow me to make my case.

Fort Worth's nickname is 'Cow-town' so that is most certainly western.  Austin, San Antonio and all of the Texas valley are highly Hispanic populations, so that doesn't seem very Southern to me.  Southwestern is better fitting. Houston is also pretty Hispanicly influenced, but there are a great mix of all ethnicities.  The east side of town though...lots of...what is a nice way to say rednecks? And East Texas, yikes.  Those are some porch sitting, sweet tea drinking, oil field working southerners.  Galveston has a Mardi Gras parade, so that counts for Southern.  Dallas too, with all of their high-society snootiness like the ladies from 'The Help'.  
I have no horse in the race of South vs. Not South, as I consider myself 100% Texan, and merely a perfect blend of south and west.  I have manners, I think sweet tea is disgusting, I say y'all, I use butter liberally, I don't drive a truck, I leave the house looking 'not perfect' most of the time. Lily Pulitzer?  No thank you.  My actual ancestral heritage traces back to Texas for like a billion years, so we were Texans when it was Mexico (and France, and Spain).  #nativetexan
What are we even talking about?  Okay, yes, so I haven't had shrimp and grits before tasting some that Aaron ordered a year ago (so I couldn't possibly be a southern lady) and holy cow.  Mind blown.  I had no idea they were served with cheesy grits??  My first taste of cheesy grits wasn't until my 20s when I dined at Copeland's in Dallas with my bff Katrina.  We now make it a point to go to Copeland's whenever I am in town.  Those grits are off the charts delicious.  All this time I was turning my nose up at grits like they were lumpy flavorless mush.  They are actually really flavorful mush when made properly!
Long story short, I am a late in life adopter of shrimp and grits fandom.  This version is really great however, because it takes the beautiful cheesy goodness of the grits and pairs it with a tomato sauce that is, well, masala.  The flavors are outstanding and pretty similar to Chicken Tikka Masala (which is a FAVE!) , and I will be making this again and again.  I think I like it more than the original!  

You will need:
(for the shrimp)
1 LB shrimp (ideally under 15 count, so they are large and pretty!) peeled with tail on. (and deveined if you ask me) (frozen or fresh is fine, but have them thawed)
1/2 TSP turmeric
1 TBSP fresh lemon juice
3/4 TSP Kosher salt
2 TBSP olive oil

(for the masala)
4 cloves of garlic, grated
1 in piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
2 TSP paprika
2 TSP ground coriander
1 TSP ground cinnamon
1/4 TSP turmeric
1/4 TSP garam masala
2 cups water
2 TBSP olive oil
1 large onion, finely diced
1 serrano chile, seeded and sliced into half moons (less if you prefer less spicy)
Kosher salt
2 TBSP tomato paste
3/4 cup chopped ripe tomatoes (I used two med. sized)
1/2 TSP honey
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves

(for the grits)
4 1/2 cups of water
1 TSP Kosher salt
1 cup grits (course ground cornmeal)
4 TBSP butter (1/2 a stick)
4 oz grated sharp cheddar (1 cup)
freshly ground black pepper

First we prep the shrimp.  Combine the turmeric, lemon juice, Kosher salt, and shrimp in a bowl.  Toss to coat the shrimp and allow to sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes.  Just enough time to get the rest your ingredients prepped!  

I will say one thing, the more you cook, the better your cooking time management skills get.  Prep work that used to take me 30 minutes can get done in 10-15 now.  And I am better at looking at a recipe and timing everything out so the whole meal finishes at the same time and not having the sides get cold for 15 minutes while I finish the main dish.  

Has it been 20 minutes?  In a heavy bottomed skillet, heat the oil to medium high heat.  When the oil is shimmering we are ready to add the shrimp.  You want to drain the shrimp of any liquid before adding to the pan - I just used tongs and gived each little shrimp a shake before placing in the pan.  Give the shrimp room in the pan, if not you won't get a nice crust on them.  Cook a couple minutes on each side, so a nice char is formed.  Remove shrimp from the pan set aside. Give your skillet a quick swipe with a paper towel before starting the masala. 

In a separate small bowl combine the garlic, ginger, paprika, coriander, cinnamon, turmeric, garam masala and 1/2 cup of water.  Mix and set aside.

Add your olive oil to the skillet and allow to heat up until oil is shimmering.  Into the skillet add the onion, serrano and a generous pinch of Kosher salt.  On medium high heat, cook and stir occasionally for 5 to 7 minutes.  You want to veggies to get brown on the edges.  Then for another 5 minutes or so, keep stirring a little more frequently until the onions are very brown and sweet smelling.  

Reduce the heat to medium and add the watery spice blend from earlier, tomatoes and tomato paste.  You want to stir together to combine all the ingredients.  Cook for about 5 minutes, until the whole mixture darkens and the tomatoes are softened.  You want the mix to be one mass that holds together at the end of this.

**maybe start the grits about now - put the water and kosher salt on to boil

Now we add the honey, 3/4 TSP of Kosher salt and the remaining 1 and 1/2 cups of water.  Allow the ingredients to lightly simmer for 5 minutes to combine.

Add the shrimp back in the mix, cover and reduce the heat to low.  We are just trying to get the shrimp back up to temperature without overcooking them.  This should take about 4-5 minutes.  Once everything is heated through, add in the cilantro.

Now I cheated and used instant grits and they turned out just as wonderful, but use whichever you prefer.  You want to get the 4 1/2 cups of water and Kosher salt boiling in a saucepan over high heat.  Add in the grits, whisk together and bring back up to a boil.  Cover and reduce the heat to low, stirring fairly frequently.  You can pretty much follow the instructions on the box to prepare them.  Be careful of the bottom of your pan, they can burn if you don't stir them enough.  Make sure to taste the texture before the next step.  

When your grits are a good consistency, whisk in the butter and cheese until incorporated.  Add the pepper to taste.  To assemble the dish (use a bowl, ideally) add grits, top with the masala and shrimp sauce and add a few cilantro leaves to the top to garnish.  I hope you enjoy this delicious east meets west version of shrimp and grits!

Real-Deal Hummus

Thursday, September 24, 2015

This is not hummus that you scoop out of a tub you bought at the grocery store.  This is the hummus you get at your favorite Mediterranean restaurant.  It is infinitely tasty, so just try not to shovel it into your mouth by the spoonful, okay?  Lets try to keep some semblance of decorum here. :)

My litmus test of a good recipe is if I can get Aaron to eat something he typically isn't into.  In his defense, he is not a picky eater by any stretch.  He eats things I wouldn't even dream of, like chicken livers, sardines and tongues of things(blech!).  He is however, a very snobby eater.  If food is sub-par in any form he will turn his nose up at it.  He also claims to hate certain things, yet eats them when set it front of him?  I could write a book..  Anyway.  He claims that he isn't into hummus.  He LOVED this hummus.  I did too, but I love any and all hummus and am not a food snob in the slightest.

In the past when I attempted to make hummus, I just tossed a can of chickpeas, some tahini which I just eyeballed the amount, some salt, then I would just randomly add things to try and get the taste or consistency right.  Maybe some onion would help?  I think more salt.  No maybe more lemon.  Then I'd have about a gallon of mush that I didn't really want to eat.  I have to laugh at my former ways of trying to figure out cooking.  I am so not a natural at this.  Again with this recipe, the process is a large part of what makes this recipe outstanding, and not the ingredients alone.

This hummus is pretty easy to whip up and not even in the same ballpark as the premade stuff.  I halved the recipe and it was more than two people should have eaten, and we didn't even finish it all, so I am posting the recipe cut in half.

You will need:

1 can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
Boiling water
1/3 cup of tahini (check the sidebar, I found amazon was much cheaper than my grocery store!)
juice and zest from 1/2 a lemon
1 clove of garlic
1 TSP Kosher salt
1/4 cup ice water
extra virgin olive oil

For the garnish:
1/2 TSP pine nuts, toasted (optional)
sprinkles of paprika
sprinkles of cumin

When you have your chickpeas rinsed and drained, set a few aside for the garnish at the end.  Add the chickpeas to a bowl that can handle high heat.  Put a kettle of water on to boil, and once water is up to a boil, pour over chickpeas until they are completely covered by a couple inches.  Let these chickpeas sit in the hot water for 15 minutes.  Soaking the chickpeas will soften them up very nicely so that they will puree into a smooth and fluffy hummus.  

Once 15 minutes is up, drain the chickpeas and pour them into your food processor.  Whiz the chickpeas for about 5 minutes by themselves.  They should be pretty smooth before you add more ingredients.

Next in with the tahini, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt and garlic.  Mix for about a minute, making sure the garlic gets incorporated very well.  No one wants to bite into a hidden chunk of garlic!  Now while the processor is going, pour the ice water through the top and then let it whiz for 5 minutes.  You are going to want to set a timer because it seems like a super long time.  I was a little worried the motor on my processor was going to burn up, but it made it though just fine.  Taste for seasonings and add more tahini, salt or lemon to get the flavor you desire.

You are now ready to serve!  Aarti's suggestion for serving real deal hummus is to scoop the contents of the food processor onto a plate, and with the back of a spoon smooth it in a circular motion to make lovely hills and valleys in your dip.  I could have gone a little more extreme with mine, the picture in the cookbook is much better looking! Make a well in the center (not too deep) and drizzle with the olive oil, then top with your reserved chickpeas and pine nuts.  In any artful fashion you wish, sprinkle with a light dusting of paprika and cumin.  I opted for the pizza slice design, I made an X across with one, then another X between with the other.  I though it turned out pretty nice?  

This hummus is warm and nutty with a hint of the bright lemon.  So so good, I don't know if I can ever go with the store brand again.  If you follow the basic recipe, I can't imagine it would be too difficult to throw different things in for different flavors.  I for one am a fan of the red pepper hummus.  I shall report back with my findings.  But here you have it, a delicious hummus that is certainly the real deal.  

Fish Tacos

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

I've never met a fish taco that I didn't like, and I've never cooked a piece of fish that I have liked.  I am not including fish sticks, because those are delicious and hard to mess up.  But fish intimidates me big time.  The problem is that I never know when it is done, so I end up with overcooked inedible pieces or warm sashimi.  On the off chance that it is cooked to a decent texture, the flavor isn't there.  I have trouble making any fish have flavor, I have no idea what I was doing wrong.  Plus fish can be pricey, and I am not keen on ruining expensive food.  All of this had lead to a fish boycott.  If we want fish, we leave it to the professionals and get it at a restaurant. 

I was nervous about cooking fish, and nervous of how a fish taco with Indian spices would turn out.  I am used to fish tacos being very limey and cilantro laden with a definite Mexican style spice blend going on.  I'm here to learn though, correct?  Because this fish taco has lifted the ban from our household, and was given accolades for DAYS.  Even my best dishes are only complimented during dinner, but days afterward?  This recipe is legit.  I urge you to try it and transform your attitudes about cooking fish.  It really isn't too difficult at all!


You will need for the fish:
1/4 cup olive oil
2 TSP ground coriander
2 TSP ancho chili powder (I used what was labeled chili powder)
pinch of ground cinnamon
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
1 pound meaty but flaky white fish, skin and bones removed, cut into bite sized chunks (I used mahimahi, but you can use cod too, or check this page for ideas)

You will need for the mayo:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
Leaves from approx 8 springs of fresh mint
2 TSP ground cumin
zest and juice from 1 lime
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

You will need for the tacos:
Corn tortillas
1/4 head of green cabbage, shredded (or bagged slaw will do)
1/2 cup finely chopped scallions
pickled banana pepper strips (if you like them)
lime wedges

So to start, get your fish all cut into pieces and ready to marinate.  In a bowl, combine the olive oil, coriander, chili powder, cinnamon, salt and pepper.  Add your fish and get them coated in the oil and spices mixture.  Set aside while making the mayo.

You are going to need a food processor or a mini-chopper for the mayo.  Now focus, because this is a challenge.  Add all mayo ingredients to the food processor and blend/chop until smooth.  Whoa!!  lol.  Taste for flavor and add a touch more salt, pepper, or lime if needed. 

Now it's show time.  Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat - allow it to get all the way up to temperature before adding the fish.  No need to oil the skillet because the oil based marinade.  Aarti suggests testing the skillet with a drop or two of water, and if it sizzles and evaporates, you are ready for the fish.  Add the fish to the skillet, they should sizzle when they hit the pan.  Have your fish pieces in an even layer, but not over crowded.  There should be a perimeter of space around all the pieces.  Three minutes per side should result in a perfectly cooked piece of fish that is about 1.5-2 inches thick.  Remove from heat after three minutes per side and let rest for a minute before assembly.

To assemble your tacos, start with a warm corn tortilla.  I usually microwave mine wrapped in a dish towel for about 30 seconds and they are warm and pliable.  Add a smear of your spiced mayo, then your fish.  Top with cabbage, peppers and a squeeze of lime and enjoy fish taco nirvana. 

Moroccan Carrot Salad

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

As weird as it seems, we do eat salad from time to time.  (lol!) This salad was probably the most interesting salad I have ever eaten.  Maybe if I knew about this salad in my youth, my vision wouldn't be so terrible?  

Aaron thought this salad was alright, but I really enjoyed the bright flavors.  I have always been an advocate for carrots.  They hardly seem like vegetables sometimes!  This citrusy fresh salad was perfectly timed with the exit of summer weather, as if one final hurrah before sweater weather.  But seriously, we don't get sweater weather in Houston until January- but I like to pretend.  

You will need:
1 large lemon, washed well, sliced into rounds, then the rounds quartered
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for cooking the lemons
1 1/2 TSP ground cumin
1/4 TSP ground cinnamon
1/4 TSP ground ginger
2 pinches cayenne
1/2 TSP orange zest
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
8 medium carrots, peeled and grated
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 TBSP toasted pine nuts

Salads hardly warrant instructions, but this one does a little.  Start with your sliced up lemon pieces in a cold pan.  Pour oil into the pan so that the bottom is covered.  On low heat, you will cook until the rinds of the lemon are soft and begin to brown.  This takes about 20 minutes.

For the dressing, you will mix the cumin, cinnamon, ginger, cayenne, orange juice and zest, salt and pepper all together.  Whisk in the 1/4 cup oil to incorporate with the liquid.  Taste for seasonings and adjust if any flavor is lacking according to your preference.

Toss the carrots, pine nuts, and parsley together with the dressing, mixing well to coat everything.  With a slotted spoon, remove your lemon pieces from the oil and add to the salad.  Some of the oil from the lemons that is infused with lemony flavor can also be drizzled over the top for added flavor.  Taste for seasonings and serve, while savoring that last little bit of summer.