Miso-Sesame Salad Dressing

I suppose it only makes sense to follow a cookie recipe with a salad recipe. Or rather a salad dressing recipe. You guys have already seen a couple of recipes on this blog from America’s Test Kitchen’s “The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook.” It has quickly become one of my absolute favorite cookbooks as well as my chief partner in meal planning.

Each week, we get a box of local produce delivered by our CSA. (All winter long! Pinch me!) After sorting through the offerings, I usually flip to the index of this cookbook and decide what meals I want to make for the week. I almost always receive some sort of heirloom lettuce, which gets to be tiresome week after week. So I’ve been working my way through various salad dressing recipes. This miso-sesame dressing has emerged as a favorite so far. It’s savory and salty and garlicky and gingery, and I had to hold myself back from eating it by the spoonful because that’s embarrassing, right?

Given the flavor profile, this dressing goes well with Asian-inspired salad ingredients. I tossed it with a mixture of butter lettuce and tatsoi, carrots, edamame, green onions, and some homemade sesame-crusted croutons. And then I ate it pretty much every day for a week. So good.

Miso-sesame salad dressing

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Miso-Sesame Dressing

  • 6 Tbs. water
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 7 tsp. red miso paste*
  • 1 Tbs. soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tsp. honey
  • 2 Tbs. grated fresh ginger
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 Tbs. neutral-tasting oil (I used sunflower seed oil)
  • 1 Tbs. toasted sesame oil

Place water, vinegar, miso, soy sauce, honey, ginger, and garlic in a blender and blend until the mixture is well combined, about 15 seconds. Add oils and blend until the oils are incorporated and the dressing is smooth, about 15 seconds.

Makes about 1 cup.

Dressing can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to 1 week.

Source: Slightly adapted from America’s Test Kitchen “The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook.”

* I couldn’t find miso paste at my regular grocery store, so I ordered it online. There are several different types of miso paste so make sure you get the red one; it has a much deeper flavor. Don’t worry if it comes in a large container; the stuff lasts forever in the fridge. Plus, you can always make miso brown rice cakes!

Salted Caramel Sauce

Welcome to the 200th post on Lingonberry Jam! Although I’m just a hobbyist who’s nowhere near the 1000 posts of my favorite food blogger, it’s still fun to take a moment to reflect on these past few years and how my blog has evolved. Indulge me for a moment as I get all infographic crazy.

Lingonberry Jam Infographic

A few takeaways:

  • People like posts with hyphens in them. Oh, and being on Buzzfeed helps.
  • I wonder how many people are looking for my blog, and how many are just hoping to learn about those tart Swedish preserves they sell at Ikea.
  • My mom rocks. :)

As my 200th post neared, I found myself wondering what recipe I should post to mark the momentous occasion. Perhaps that homemade nutella that I still haven’t quite gotten right? Or a fancy dancy homemade cheese? How about a celebratory cake?

In the end, I decided to go for something simple and versatile: salted caramel sauce. It’s a recipe I’ve made many, many times. It’s something that any dessert lover should learn to master. It’s SO much better than buying caramel topping from the grocery store. And it can be made with a few ingredients you probably already have on hand.

It’s a winner.

Soon I’ll share a fantastic dessert that I topped with this sauce, but for now just enjoy this on ice cream, brownies, apple slices, or by the spoonful (guilty). And thank you SO much for following along with all my cooking adventures!

Salted caramel sauce

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Salted Caramel Sauce

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 6 Tbs. butter, cut into six pieces
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tsp. kosher flake salt

In a small saucepan with tall sides, heat sugar over medium heat. Stir occasionally with a heatproof spatula or whisk as the sugar melts. The sugar will clump up and then start to liquify and turn a dark amber color. Watch it carefully so it doesn’t burn.

When the sugar is completely melted, add the butter, stirring constantly. The mixture will become quite bubbly, so be careful. When the butter is completely melted, slowly stir in the heavy whipping cream. Again, the caramel will bubble up angrily. Boil the mixture for one minute, then remove from heat and stir in the salt.

Let cool, and transfer to an airtight container. Caramel will keep in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. (If it becomes too thick to stir after refrigeration, reheat in the microwave for 30-60 seconds before using. You might want to store it in a microwave-safe container just in case.)

Makes about 1 cup.

Source: Sally’s Baking Addiction.

Homemade Celery Salt

One of the best things I did while living in Minneapolis was join a CSA, or community supported agriculture program. I loved walking down the street to my neighborhood coffee shop each week and picking up a big box of amazingly fresh organic veggies from a local farm. I eagerly looked forward to the e-mail explaining what would be delivered each week and had fun trying new ways to eat my vegetables.

When we got settled here in LA, I immediately started looking up similar programs. We have a fantastic farmer’s market in our neighborhood every Sunday, but the sheer amount of choices were honestly a bit overwhelming. I would gravitate toward avocados and berries and almost never buy any greens. (Guilty.) So I did some research and joined a local CSA a couple months ago. I love supporting SavRaw* because I get all sorts of fun and interesting produce– summer squash shaped like stars!– and I also get to support local schools as well as sustainable farmers.

So every Sunday, we get a box full of six different veggies and two pounds of fruit delivered right to our door. Usually I’m pretty happy with the choices, but I do let out a groan when I see a huge bunch of celery poking out of the box. Not my favorite vegetable, but I don’t want it to go to waste. I’ll usually slice it up and eat it with hummus, or dice it and throw it in the freezer for winter soups.

One week, I decided to actually do something with the celery leaves themselves: homemade celery salt! Believe it or not, this was super easy and one of those “Why didn’t I think of that before?” projects. The volume can vary, but the leaves of one bunch of celery made about 1/4 cup of celery salt for me. It’s really fresh tasting, perfect for perking up tuna salad or sprinkling on hardboiled eggs. Of course, I still had to eat the stalks themselves, but luckily I had a fresh batch of hummus to help me with that.

* Disclaimer: This post was in no way sponsored by SavRaw. I just love my CSA!

Homemade celery salt

Homemade celery salt

Homemade celery salt

Homemade Celery Salt

  • fresh celery leaves from one bunch of celery
  • flaky sea salt

Preheat oven to 300° F and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Pick the celery leaves off the individual stalks and place them in a colander. Rinse the leaves under cold running water and then dry them in a salad spinner or by gently blotting them with paper towels.

Arrange the leaves on the baking sheet in a single layer (use a second sheet if you have to). Bake for 7-12 minutes, watching closely. You want the leaves to dry out completely but not turn brown. Remove baking sheet from oven and let leaves cool completely. They should be very dry and crispy. (If any of the leaves are still soft or wet, you can bake them again in two-minute increments until they’re dry.)

Using a food processor, mortar and pestle, or simply your fingers, crumble the celery leaves until they’re about the same size as the flakes of salt you’re using. Pour the ground leaves into a measuring cup to see how much volume you have, then add the same volume of salt. Stir until well combined. Store in an airtight container.

Yield will vary.

Source: Sassy Kitchen

Miso Brown Rice Cakes

When it comes to cooking, I always want to try something new. I rarely make the same thing for dinner twice within a six-month span. I keep a spreadsheet of recipes I’ve tried and loved because I make things so infrequently that I actually forget about them. There are so many amazing recipes out there that I can’t fathom making the same thing over and over again. Not when there are new recipes to try!

I will admit this character flaw trait can be quite annoying. You love something that I cooked for you? Too bad, you probably won’t see it again for half a year. But some recipes are good enough to shake up my system. The minute I took a bite of one of these miso brown rice cakes (which I admit sound totally boring) I immediately wanted to make them for dinner the next night. And the next night. I even ate one cold straight out of the fridge the following day because I couldn’t wait any longer to taste them again.

This recipe has gone into heavy rotation for me, meaning I made it twice within four weeks. The cakes are really savory thanks to mushrooms and miso paste, and a spoonful of spicy mayo kicks up the flavor even more. With a side of sautéed green beans or a salad, you have yourself a hearty vegetarian meal that you’ll want to eat again and again. Trust me.

Miso brown rice cakes

Miso Brown Rice Cakes

  • 8 ounces shiitake mushrooms
  • 3 Tbs. olive or sunflower seed oil, divided
  • 1 Tbs. grated fresh ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 3 3/4 cups water or vegetable stock
  • 1 1/2 cups brown rice
  • salt
  • 3 Tbs. red miso paste*
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 2 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
  • pepper

Gently remove the stems of the shiitake mushrooms by holding the cap in one hand and pulling the stem with the other, near where the stem meets the cap. Discard the stems and roughly chop the shiitakes.

In a 3-quart saucepan, heat 1 Tbs. oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add the shiitake mushrooms and cook for five minutes, stirring occasionally, until just starting to brown. Stir in the ginger and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in a cup of the water or stock and scrape up the brown bits at the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Add the remaining water, rice, and 1/2 tsp. salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and let simmer, covered, for about 50 minutes, stirring occasionally. The rice is done when it’s tender and all the water is absorbed.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together miso paste, green onions, sesame oil, egg and egg yolk, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper. Set aside.

Spread the cooked rice onto a rimmed baking sheet and let cool for 15 minutes. Transfer the cooled rice to a food processor (working in batches if your food processor is small) and chop for about 10 seconds, or until the rice is coarsely chopped and the mixture is sticky. Transfer the rice to the large bowl with the miso mixture and stir until everything is well combined. Shape the mixture into eight patties, about 3-4 inches in diameter and 3/4-inch thick.

Place the patties onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or foil. Refrigerate, uncovered, for 30 minutes, or until firm.

Heat 1 Tbs. oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until the oil is shimmering. Transfer four of the chilled rice cakes to the skillet and cook until browned, flipping once, for 2-4 minutes on each side. Be careful when you flip the cakes, as they can be a bit delicate, so don’t try to flip them until you know the bottom side is nicely browned. Transfer the cakes to a plate and cover to keep warm. Repeat with remaining 1 Tbs. oil and four more cakes. Serve hot, with a dollop of spicy mayo (see below) on top.

Source: Slightly adapted from America’s Test Kitchen “The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook.”

* I couldn’t find miso paste at my regular grocery store, so I ordered it online. There are several different types of miso paste so make sure you get the red one; it has a much deeper flavor. Don’t worry if it comes in a large container; the stuff lasts forever in the fridge.

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Spicy Mayo

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 green onion, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbs. Sriracha hot sauce
  • 1 Tbs. lime juice

Stir all ingredients together in a small bowl and serve.

Source: America’s Test Kitchen “The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook.”

Homemade Butter

Ah, yes. You knew this day would come, didn’t you? Actually, I first made homemade butter well over a year ago, but I never got around to posting it on the blog. I was recently inspired to make butter again after Gabe and I flew back from Paris a few weeks ago. We spontaneously upgraded our tickets to business class (honeymoon, right?) and were blown away by the experience. I almost cried when I woke up a bit overheated from a nap and was instantly greeted by a flight attendant passing out cookies ‘n’ cream Häagen-Dazs.

There were so many lovely little touches that will make it very hard, alas, for me to continue the rest of my life as a BOTPP (“Back of the Plane Person,” according to my brother-in-law), but I was surprised that one of my favorite parts of the flight was the butter. Yes, you read that right. Since we flew Air France, we were treated to rich, creamy butter from Normandy that was flecked with tiny crystals of sea salt. I shamelessly spread it on my bread as thick as jam. And then I vowed to make some once we got home.

I don’t have cows from Normandy, but I was able to get a pint of organic heavy cream from the grocery store. And using my stand mixer (set to “super domestic”… I mean speed eight), within a few minutes I had about a half pound of soft, rich, homemade butter. I added extra flakes of sea salt to give it that French flair, bien sûr, and you should too!

Homemade butter

Homemade Butter

  • 1 pint heavy cream (organic, and especially grass-fed, will give you the best flavor)
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt, plus more to taste

Pour the cream and 1/4 tsp. salt into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.* Then cover the entire mixer with a dish towel. I can’t stress this enough: unless you want a kitchen splattered with cream, cover up that mixer.

Turn the mixer to medium high. The mixer will first turn the cream into whipped cream, then it will start to separate. You’ll hear a lot of loud splashing when the solids have separated from the liquids. When you see large chunks of butter have formed and are starting to stick to the paddle, the butter is done. Stop the mixer and use a colander or mesh strainer to drain the liquid into a small bowl. (Congratulations: you have just made buttermilk! Use it for biscuits or pancakes or something.)

Squeeze the butter with your hands and rinse it under cold running water until the liquids run clear. Squeeze as much water as possible from the butter, then taste it and knead in more salt if desired. Form the butter into a ball or sticks and refrigerate. The butter will keep for about a month in the refrigerator, longer in the freezer.

Makes about 8 ounces butter.

Source: Very slightly adapted from Living Well Spending Less.

* I’ve also read that you can use a food processor instead of a stand mixer. I’ve never tried this myself, so please let me know if you try it and it works!