Category Archives: Dressings

Kale Salad

i’m eating leftover kale as a snack RIGHT NOW.

I have a lot of flaws.  I’m impatient, competitive and sometimes I listen to the same song 4235 times in a row.  I quote Liz Lemon and wait to see if anyone notices, I yell at pedestrians for crossing where there’s no crosswalk and do EXACTLY the same thing myself, I cheat at cards and I would agree to watch a documentary only if I was also reading a book.  I am 28 years old and still make fart jokes, I eat mini marshmallows straight from the bag and I never listen to my voicemail.

But!  I also eat a shitload of kale, so I figure it all balances out.

Realistically, I eat this salad 2-3 times a week.  Because I LOVE it.  People I’ve made it for have scoffed, heartily, at this salad, because technically the kale is raw.  But they have all been turned by the power of kale salad.  Once, a 7 year old ate this salad voluntarily.  I dress this salad in one of three ways: sesame-soy dressing, lemon-parmesan dressing, or garlic-tahini dressing.  Any of the three will change your life.  Additionally, you get to enjoy the smug sense of superiority you can only get from eating something REALLY healthy.  Later, when you eat french fries while drinking a beer in a bar, you can say to everyone in shouting distance “IT’S FINE, I ATE A LOT OF RAW KALE EARLIER.”  Everyone will really appreciate it.

The main drawback to this salad is that it’s about 100% more labor intensive than I like cooking to be.  You have to wash the kale (it’s a sandy vegetable), rip out the bitter, overly cruciferous spines, rip up the leaves, massage the lot with salt, then rinse all the salt off, then wring it out, then dress it.  It’s like a 20 minute process.  But it’s worth it.  I had the best run of my life after having had coffee, 4 gallons of water and kale salad.  It’s magic.  (I also just realized this salad is vegan the only way food is acceptably vegan: accidentally.)  Because I haven’t written a blog post in 7 years, I’m going to give you all three dressing recipes.  You’re welcome.

Kale Salad

2 bunches of kale (I make two bunches for only myself.  If you’re making it for guests, probably go 3-4.)

2 tablespoons or so of kosher salt

Dressing of choice*

put on some usher or something while you’re washing, it’s gonna be awhile.

So basically, the salt cooks the kale a little.  It wilts the leaves, takes away the bitterness and shrinks it.  So!  You wash the kale leaves very well (sandy!), rip out the spines of the leaves, and rip up the leaves.  Put all the ripped up leaves in a big bowl.

When you’ve washed and ripped all the kale (approximately 2 months after starting the process), sprinkle about a couple teaspoons or so of kosher salt all over the kale.  Don’t be afraid of saltiness, because you’re going to rinse all the salt off later.  Massage the salt into the kale for 2 minutes.  If possible, draft someone else to do the massaging, because why not!

this picture is actually from when i was in denver a couple months ago and made kale salad for sue. she also now eats it multiple times a week.

After massaging, you can let the kale sit for awhile, kind of marinating in the salt, if you like your kale really wilted.  If not, rinse the salt off right after the massaging and the kale will be more crunchy and bouncy.  When you’re ready to rinse it off, put all the kale in a colander and rinse it very well.

too salty kale is tragic.

If you do a bad job, the kale will be too salty and everyone will cry.  So rinse it well.  Then, take it in handfuls and squeeze out all the excess water, putting the kale back into the big bowl.  Then dress it and try not to eat it all while you make the rest of dinner.

*Dressing options:

Soy-sesame – My favorite.  2 teaspoons soy sauce, 2 teaspoons rice vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil, 3 tablespoons brown sugar, black pepper.  If you have sweet Thai chili sauce, put a couple teaspoons of that in there too.

Lemon-parmesan – juice of 2 lemons, zest of 1 lemon, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1/2 cup or so fresh parmesan, salt and pepper.

Garlic-tahini – 1-2 cloves garlic, zested on a microplane, juice of 1 lemon, 3 tablespoons of tahini paste, salt and pepper.  In the interest of being honest, I will admit that I copied this recipe from a kale salad they have at Whole Foods in the pre-made salad section, which I eat when I am lazy.

– Cat



Filed under Dressings, Salad, Sides, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Caesar Salad Dressing

i went traditional with romaine, but i'm not happy about it.

From the ages of 15-19, I subsisted on chicken Caesar salads, these weird calzone/sub sandwiches from Hungry Howie’s, whole Snickers bars (most of which Sue purchased for me) and cans of Coke, which, I drank in the morning.  I considered myself an authority on greater Detroit area chicken Caesar salads, and can tell you several things.

1. Romaine lettuce is pointless.  Why don’t they use spinach?

2. The best chicken Caesar salad in metro Detroit, and THE WORLD, can be found at Ya-Ya’s Chicken, and though a lot of them have closed, I know there’s one at 12 and Woodward in Royal Oak, Michigan.  (Sidenote: I just Googled locations and there are 4 Ya-Ya’s in Flint [?], and also some in Florida, apparently.  So there you go.)  The reason is the dressing, which is parmesan cheesey, and lemony and creamy and peppery and perfect, not too sharp, but full of flavor.

3. Real Caesar dressing has anchovy paste in it, best make your peace with that.  (I will also tell you that I had actual, whole, pickled anchovies recently while Sue and I were in Seattle and they were surprisingly GROSS.  As in- I thought they would be gross.  And then they were even grosser than that.)

My Caesar dressing is easy, fast AND can be assembled in a jar.  1 container for making AND for storing?!  Yes.  I’m always looking for reasons to validate  my extensive jar collection.

Caesar Dressing

1/2 cup mayonnaise, NOT Miracle Whip, though that pains me to say, because I love it

2-3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed (depending on the size, you want about a tablespoon of minced garlic)

2 tbsp whole grain mustard

1/2 cup olive oil

1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tbsp anchovy paste

juice of 2 lemons

3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

copious amounts of freshly ground black pepper

Mix everything together in a jar.  Put it on lettuce.  That’s it.

here is another picture! sue's rule is 2 pictures or no post. she's 100% right, and i am an impatient cook.

– Cat

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Filed under Dressings, Salad, Vegetables

Baby Potato Salad with Chard and Bacon

mmm bacon.

Last week was the 4th of July, which I realized is my favorite holiday.  Everything about the 4th of July is good: eating grilled things, eating baked beans, lots of drinking, usually swimming in lakes, fireworks, being outside in beautiful weather, lots more drinking, sparklers, falling asleep in the car on the way home, etc.  There’s nothing bad about this holiday.  My love for the 4th of July has almost nothing to do with patriotism, interestingly.  Not that I don’t love America.  BECAUSE I DO.  I think my favorite thing about America is the fact that we can fearlessly make fun of whoever we want, but also: the freedom for people to set off fireworks in the street outside my building until 2 am even though it’s a school night, and my freedom to yell obscenities at them for doing so.  Ah, America.  The only thing Christmas (traditionally my favorite holiday) has on the 4th of July is mimosas and honey baked ham.

So because I’m a real American, I celebrated the 4th of July by eating baked beans and drinking.  I mostly slowly sipped shots of orangecello and I made pulled pork instead of burgers with  my baked beans, but still, it counts.  I also made a nice potato salad of NOT THE MAYONNAISE VARIETY.  This potato salad is a lot like German potato salad, with the addition of Swiss chard or kale.  The chard makes it seem like you’re making something healthy, which you are, if things can still be healthy when they have a gloss of bacon fat.  I made mine with baby Dutch yellow potatoes, which are delicious and buttery.  You could also make this with fingerlings or redskins, but I really think the Dutch yellows are the nicest.  In any case, make this with a baby potato so it stays delicate.

Baby Potato Salad with Chard and Bacon

2 lb baby Dutch yellow potatoes, scrubbed

1 bunch Swiss chard or kale, cut or ripped into 2 inch pieces (To prepare kale or chard, wash each piece pretty carefully, they hold a lot of sand and grit.  When they’ve been satisfactorily rinsed, rip or cut out the center stem of each leaf.  Discard the stems, and chop or rip the remaining leaves into bite sized-ish pieces.)

5-6 slices bacon, chopped (I cut up my bacon with a pair of kitchen scissors I use only for cutting up bacon.)

3 large shallots, sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 tbsp whole grain mustard

4 tbsp apple cider vinegar

4 tbsp maple syrup

1 tbsp brown sugar

salt and pepper

Method:  In a large pot full of water, boil the whole baby potatoes with a few pinches of salt, until they are fork tender.  Remove them to a colander and let them drain until cooled to room temperature.  When they’ve cooled, cut them into quarters and put them in a large pan or bowl, whatever you want to serve the potato salad in.  In a large saute pan on medium heat, cook the bacon pieces until crispy.  Remove the bacon pieces to a paper towel lined plate.  Turn the heat down to low and put the shallots and garlic into the bacon fat, cooking until translucent, probably 10-15 minutes.  Then add the mustard, vinegar, maple syrup, brown sugar and salt and pepper, and let cook 5 more minutes.  Pour half the dressing over the potatoes, leaving the other half in the pan.  With the pan still on low heat, put the chard into the pan in a big layer, moving it around every 30 seconds or so with tongs.  It will slowly wilt and shrink in size.  When it’s all wilted but still green and mixed up with the remaining dressing, pour the chard over the potatoes and mix well.  Mix the bacon back into the salad and serve warm or at room temperature.

– Cat

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Filed under BBQ, Dressings, Meat, Recipes, Salad, Sides


this is the most beautiful picture of food EVER.

I have said a lot of questionable things about vegans and vegetarians, on this blog and also to anyone who will listen.  Sue and I were just having a conversation, in fact, wherein I expressed my fear that my kids will grow up and become vegans, because kids rebel.  I’ll raise them to love pate and understand why it’s perfectly acceptable to keep bacon fat in a jar, and they’ll grow up and only eat raw kale.  It’s the way of the world.

The truth, though, is that I like food with no meat in it.  I eat it all the time.  Just now I had a brownie.  No meat.  Yesterday I had some Doritos.  No meat.  (I don’t think.  Erg.)  I’m about to eat some bread and butter pickles.  No meat!

My mild acceptance of food with no meat intersects with something I LOVE: Middle Eastern food.  Babaghanouj is so delicious, it makes hummus look like its uglier, less charming cousin who just won’t give up on “your mom” jokes.  The smoke of babaghanouj pairs so wonderfully with the fresh tang of tabbouleh.  Tabbouleh is fantastic also because it’s a snack that’s good for you.  You think you’re having a nice bar snack with your beer, but you’re not.  You’re having a salad.  It’s so good you don’t even consider throwing it on the floor and demanding jalapeno poppers with ranch.

Sidenote: Dom and I were going out to dinner this past weekend, and I wanted to go to this Middle Eastern place I’ve been eyeing.  It took some convincing to make it happen, because they don’t have beer, but we got there in the end.  We get there, the kid says 35 minutes (lie), so we go stand out in the cold for an hour playing the celebrity name game, during which Dom said that not only was O.Henry not a celebrity, but didn’t count because O. is not a first name.  Untrue.  Anyway, the meal was good and the portions were enormous, but the restaurant itself sucked, terrible ambience, harried and sour looking servers, seated too far away from each other to have a private conversation, etc.  We both complained for some time, before Dom goes:  “But all that aside, I know you’re so happy to be taking this home to keep in the fridge right now.  I also would like to make a wager that you break back into this babaghanouj before the night is over.”  I did not take that bet.

All that is why falafel is on the good vegetarian food list.  It’s wonderful, and also gives me a chance to demonstrate one of my Central Tenets of Home Cooking.  To wit, deep frying at home is never necessary.  I bake my falafel.  I do douse it a bit with olive oil so the patties get nice and brown, and I bake them on high heat so they don’t dry out.  It’s taken some doing to get my falafel right.  I like them a little on the wet side, that ensures them staying moist and tender.  Also, there’s a secret to making perfect falafel: refrigerate it overnight and bake it the next day.  It lets all the flavors meld together, and firms it up for easy patty-making.  Falafel was one of the things I made for my food shoot with Kelly Goode of Capture Photography.  She is amazing, which you already know, because you see the pictures.


2 cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1 onion, chopped roughly

1 cup parsley leaves

1 cup cilantro leaves

juice of 2 lemons

5-6 cloves of garlic

4 tbsp olive oil

1 1/2 tsp cumin

1 tsp coriander

1/2 tsp chipotle powder (or a combination of smoked paprika and cayenne or red pepper flakes)

copious salt and pepper

2 eggs

2 cups panko

Method:  In a food processor, combine all ingredients but the eggs and panko and pulse until smooth and well-combined.  If your food processor is WAY too small to accommodate this much stuff, like mine is, you can do it in stages, like I did, and dump it all into a big bowl and mix it together there.  As long as the ingredients are all in really small pieces, you’re good.  With everything in a big mixing bowl, mix in the eggs and panko.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees.  Drizzle some olive oil onto a cookie sheet and spread it around.  Using a spoon or your hands, ball up the falafel into 1 inch or so balls, flattening each slightly so they form little patties.  (This is a judgement call, lots of falafel is round, I just like the way patties sit more nicely in a pita.)  Lay them onto the cookie sheet and drizzle the tops with a little more olive oil.  Bake for 10 minutes or so and then flip and bake for another 10 minutes or so.  The falafel should be deep brown and crunchy when you touch it.

Serve in sandwich form like I did, with greens, cherry tomatoes, pickled beets, pepperocinis and tzaziki, or in any form you like.


1/2 cucumber, grated, taking care to save the juice

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 tbsp lemon juice

2 tbsp red wine vinegar

1 cup plain, nonfat yogurt

copious salt and pepper

Method: Grate the cucumber into a bowl.  Mix in all other ingredients and serve.

mmm garlicky. thanks Kelly for the beautiful picture!

– Cat


Filed under Appetizers, Dressings, Legumes, Recipes, Sides, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Japanese Ginger Carrot Dressing

I believe my hatred for bottled salad dressings is well documented.  Susan and I were having a conversation the other day, in fact, wherein I noted that I hate the word “zesty” mostly because it is always applied to bottled salad dressings, which are NEVER actually zesty.  Also, my love for homemade dressings and condiments coincides nicely with my love of jars.

You know when you’re having sushi somewhere and they bring you a nice little side salad with that delicious orange gingery dressing?  This is that dressing.  It’s really simple, I can’t imagine why I haven’t made it before.  You need to really like ginger to like this dressing.  If you’re the person who, when eating sushi, always selfishly takes all the pickled ginger, asks for more, and then eats all that ginger too, this is the dressing for you.  Susan hates ginger, which I find as understandable as she finds my hatred of bananas.  She thinks it tastes like soap.  She’s obviously crazy.

Japanese Ginger Carrot Dressing, adapted from Use Real Butter

1 cup of carrots, chopped

1/4 cup sweet onion, chopped

1/4 cup fresh ginger, peeled and chopped

3 tbsp rice wine vinegar

2 tbsp sweet Thai chili sauce

3 tbsp sugar

1 tbsp honey

2 tbsp soy sauce

2 tbsp vegetable oil

salt and pepper

Put everything in your food processor and puree until smooth.  Spoon over salad and serve.


Notes – As you see, I changed the recipe from the original, because I didn’t have any miso paste and I don’t like sesame oil, it takes over the flavor of everything you put it in.  If you don’t have sweet Thai chili sauce, buy some and keep it in your fridge.  If you make Asian dishes even occasionally it’ll be useful, I use it all the time, as a nice binding agent, as a little sweetness and spiciness, I love it.

– Cat

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February 1, 2011 · 1:50 pm

Sweet Purple Cabbage, Carrot and Radish Slaw

That is the world’s most boring name for a dish.  It’s like calling chili “Meat, bean, onion, garlic, tomato, pepper, spices and beer stew”.  But whatever, I made it up, so it doesn’t have a name.  Or, okay, we can call it: Frigging Delicious Slaw.  Or: This Slaw Makes Regular Coleslaw Look Like a Total Fool. It’s lightly sweet, but really fresh and crunchy, vaguely Mexican in flavor because of the cilantro, but you could easily leave the cilantro out and use orange juice in place of the lime to change it up.

So I made burgers on Christmas Eve, because it was almost like Cheeseburger Friday (I eat pretty reasonably most of the time, so by Friday I’m ready for some fatty meat, which is why I inadvertently started eating a cheeseburger every Friday when we go out for drinks after work, ask Dom, it’s true).  This slaw I invented to go with it.  I like coleslaw a lot, because it’s like a salad that you can keep in your fridge already dressed. I’m not a huge fan of mayonnaise-y restaurant coleslaw, dripping as it is with tasteless white condiment goop.  Homemade coleslaw is another story.  When my mom makes ribs, she usually makes a homemade coleslaw with them, green cabbage and onions, in an oil and vinegar dressing.  VERY good, excellent foil to the rich, fatty ribs.

I LOVE purple cabbage, a lot.  And radishes.  Radishes are so under-used, I think.  When you make this slaw, make sure you keep a few radishes aside to slice and lay on top of crusty, (thickly) buttered French bread, and then sprinkle a lot of salt on it, it’s the second best snack in the world after salami-cream cheese-dill pickle roll ups.  So any excuse to use a nice purple cabbage is an excuse I will use.  Plus, I have a unique genius for making up dressings.  Ask anyone.

Sweet Purple Cabbage, Carrot and Radish Slaw

1 small head of purple cabbage, sliced as thinly as you can

* A note on purple cabbage- Don’t buy a big huge one, I like to keep them about the size of a large grapefruit, because the smaller ones I find to be less bitter and have more purple and less white fibrous ribs.  To chop it, cut the thing in half lengthwise, stem end up.  Cut a big V out of the bottom of each half to remove the stem and all the hard bits around it.  Then start slicing, as thinly as you can, really, the whole thing, also lengthwise.  Then cut the pile in half once the other way.

1/2 a sweet onion, sliced very thinly

a bag of julienned carrots – you buy this at the store!  You can julienne them yourself, of course, but why would you?

a bunch of radishes, trimmed and sliced, then halved so they look like half moons

1/2 cup cilantro

juice of 2 limes

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1/3 cup light sour cream

3 tbsp white sugar

copious amounts of salt and pepper

So toss all the veggies in a bowl.  In another bowl, whisk together the rest of the ingredients.  Toss the dressing over the veggies.  THAT’S IT.

i made this again and took a better picture. this time i pureed the dressing. good god that looks delicious.

– Cat


Filed under BBQ, Dressings, Recipes, Salad, Sides, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Green Salad with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette

Yep, warm, bacon, vinaigrette.  Why more salad dressings don’t have hot bacon fat in them is a mystery to me.  I don’t know where warm bacon vinaigrette came from, but I am inclined to say France.  There are lots of variations on this, I’ve used lemon or apple juice in it when I’ve made it, or spiced apple cider.  The jist, though, is hot bacon fat, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar and mustard.  Seriously- this will make you love salad.  Though, it’s possible that salad doesn’t count when doused in hot bacon fat.  Whatever, it’s Christmas.

Green Salad with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette

1 bag of mixed greens – because all my greens come in bags

4-5 slices of bacon, chopped (chopping bacon is easiest if it’s cold, so cook it straight from the fridge)

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

3 tbsp brown sugar

1 tbsp whole grain mustard

salt and pepper

Cook the chopped bacon on medium heat in a nonstick pan until it’s crispy, probably 10-13 minutes.  Remove the bacon and set aside to cool on a paper towel lined plate.  Deglaze with the vinegar (it will splatter and steam and make a big fuss, and also smell like feet).  Stir in the sugar and mustard until the sugar dissolves, then sprinkle in a healthy pinch of salt and a few turns of fresh pepper.  Turn the heat off the stove and stir it around awhile, until it all comes together but is starting to cool down.  Probably let it cool maybe 10 minutes, you don’t want it to wilt your greens.

Pour the dressing over the greens, toss the bacon back in the salad, toss everything so the greens are coated, and serve.  The greens should be lightly dressed, it doesn’t make a ton of dressing, but it’s bacon fat for cripes’ sake, you don’t need a lot.  You could put other things in the salad if you want: cherry tomatoes, goat cheese, sliced almonds would be good.  I don’t, usually, I pretty much hit it with greens and bacon.  You’re welcome.

i don't think you can see any actual bacon, but i promise, there was lots.

– Cat

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Filed under Dressings, Recipes, Salad, Sides