Ensaladilla Rusa (pes, gf)

The weekend of February 15th, I met Dave in D.C. for a lovely Valentine’s getaway. We stayed at the Willard the first night- which was FABULOUS and made me feel very important and as if I needed an official seal or something- and stayed with my lovely aunt & uncle in Annandale the rest of the trip. We walked all over the place, we saw art, we posed with sculptures, we ate tacos, we drank Yuengling, we ran and walked in Maryland and saw falls and boat locks, and there were memorable oysters at the Old Ebbitt Grill and an inspiring dish of ensaladilla Rusa at Jaleo.

ensaladilla rusa

What is ensaladilla Rusa, lady? you may ask, and why should I care about Jaleo? Well. You’ll be happy to know that ensaladilla Rusa is an iconic Spanish tapa, basically a simply dressed potato salad with tuna and peas. I’d read about it before, but we tried it for the first time at the José Andrés-owned Jaleo, a busy tapas spot on 7th Street in Penn  Quarter. Jaleo is full of tourists (like us) but the food is fast and tasty. I am always fine with having anything to do with José Andrés, who I admire very much, and Jaleo is an accessible way to try one of his restaurants with little-to-no planning required. Find his bio here– just know that he’s a legendary Spanish chef and a visionary. I won’t drag my chef groupie-ism out any longer than I need to… but check him out.

the spectacular Willard

the spectacular Willard

So! Those things being said, I recreated the tapa at home and it made quite the bright and tasty spring dinner. I’m looking forward to having it as a bright and tasty spring lunch tomorrow.


Adapted from a José Andrés recipe


  • 3 red potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters
  • 2 cups shredded carrot, chopped
  • 4 hard-boiled eggs
  • 1 cup frozen or fresh peas
  • 1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, rinsed and chopped
  • 1 large can white albacore tuna, drained
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • light mayonnaise, about 3/4 cup
  • salt & pepper


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Carefully place the potatoes into the water, and boil for ten minutes (don’t drain yet- keep reading). While the potatoes are boiling, I’ll mention a fool-proof way to hard-boil eggs: place eggs in a pot and cover with an inch of cold water. Bring to a boil, then immediately cover and remove from heat. Let sit, covered, for 15 minutes, then remove to a bowl of ice water for five more. Perfect, and no green rings on the yolks!



Okay, back to the kitchen. Heat the peas for a minute in your microwave and drain; place in a large mixing bowl. Chop and add the parsley. Drain the tuna, drizzle it with the olive oil, and let sit. If the ten minutes are up on your potatoes, add the shredded carrots to the boiling water and cook them both for five minutes more, and drain.

the goods

the goods

Let the potatoes cool to room temperature, which should take t 10-15 minutes. While you wait, chop the eggs into small dice. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle and not crumbling when you cut them, cut them into 1/2 inch dice. Carefully stir the peas, parsley, and potatoes together; then carefully stir in the eggs. Stir in the 3/4 cup mayo, and then fold in the tuna. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed. This will be a room-temperature dish. Serve with cracked black pepper and enjoy!

Quick shout-out to one of my other main men, John Singer Sargent, and the first Jaleo to capture my heart in the capital, long ago.

And here’s an allez! gourmet recipe for another spin on potato salad- broccoli and potato gribiche!

Quickie: Broccoli Slaw, Grilled Bok Choy, and Rice Noodle Salad with Salmon and Avocado (pes, gf)

We had about an hour to buy and make dinner last night, before my beloved and long-lost husband was shipped out again ahead of a winter storm for work. I felt obligated to fill him with omega-3s and veggies before he left, really laying down HARD the enticing groundwork to get him to come back. I like the guy! Hang out with me and eat delicious dinner salads!  Come back! Here’s what my feminine wiles and I came up with:




Lemon-sesame vinaigrette recipe below.

  • 1 bag broccoili slaw (we bought our ingredients at Whole Foods; their version is julienned broccoli, carrots, and red cabbage)
  • 1-lb salmon plank
  • 1 1/2 tsp jerk seasoning or other all-purpose seasoning or 1 tsp soy sauce mixed with 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp honey (no need to add this if you used soy sauce)
  • 1 bunch green onions, sliced and a few inches of green tops discarded
  • 3 oz cooked or uncooked vermicelli rice noodles (you could instead use 1.5 cups of cooked brown rice)
  • handful shredded carrot, optional
  • 1 head bok choy, washed and root cut off
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • sesame oil  


Disclaimers: This is mostly a quickie entry because I was cooking like the wind and neglected to take any step-by-step photos. So this is where your spectacular imagination comes in!! Really. Right now. Another note- I labeled this a vegetarian entry because the salmon could easily be left out or replaced with tofu or edamame.  Here’s what we’re doing: MAKE NOODLES, MAKE SALMON, TOSS VEGGIES, DRESS AND SERVE. Let’s get started.

Boil water and cook rice noodles according to package directions. Rinse and pat salmon dry. Top salmon with 1 tsp honey and sprinkle with jerk seasoning; set aside. Drizzle or brush the bok choy leaves with a small amount of sesame oil. Heat a well-oiled grill pan or saute pan over medium-high. Once hot, grill or wilt the bok choy leaves about two minutes per side. Remove to a cutting board and cut into pieces. Alternately, you could cut and saute in a saute pan for 3-4 minutes.

Turn the heat in the grill pan down to medium. When it has cooled a bit, place salmon in pan skin-side down and cook for 5-6 before flipping. Since you have a few minutes now, you can whip up and dress the salad base. Toss the broccoli slaw, green onions, carrots if you’re using them, cooked noodles or rice, and bok choy in a large bowl. Drizzle with your dressing of choice and toss. Set aside.

When the salmon is done, serve dressed salad in bowls and top with the lovely fish. Garnish with a few slices of avocado. This would be great with: cilantro, other salad greens, chicken, well-marinated flank steak, bean sprouts, more red cabbage or green cabbage… the list goes on and on. Just use what you have in the fridge. It will all work. This is man-hooking salad!

LEMON SESAME VINAIGRETTE: 2 tsp sesame oil, 2 tsp sesame seeds, juice of 1 lemon, pinch of kosher salt, 1 tsp honey. Whisk together. Drizzle in olive oil as desired until emulsified. De. Lish.

Sally’s Summer Salad & Crabcakes (pes, gf)

When my husband goes out of town, I like to treat and distract myself by cooking nice meals to be enjoyed solo. He’s my favorite person to be around and when he leaves, I find myself doing things to keep my mind off of the house being so quiet. I grew up with lots of noise, two sisters, and very little privacy, and that first night with him gone is always a little, well… boring. Close quarters and bedlam are my peace.

fancy photo

Lots of people would savor that quiet, private, coffee commercial-like time… not me. I am happiest when surrounded by people I love (and sorry, Parley, but you don’t count). Correction: people I love and FOOD! And if I can’t have one, I’ll certainly have the other. We’re fortunate enough to have great friends to visit in many parts of the state and country, and we spent the past weekend in Joplin with some wonderful people. Being in a house full of folks we love and miss had me spoiled. Here was my (edible) replacement for rowdy company last night:


Recipe poached from the lovely Sally Robinson


  • small container Organic Girl greens of your choice
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1 red onion, sliced into thin strips
  • 1 bag ready-to-eat green beans, cut into thirds
  • 1 bag ready-to-eat snap peas, cut in half
  • 1 container Santa Sweets grape tomatoes, washed and halved
  • 1 lemon, juiced (you’ll save some juice for the recipes below)


This was an as-best-I-can remember recreation of a delicious salad our friend Sally made Saturday night. When I told her I’d duped it, she mentioned that she’d also used feta, toasted slivered almonds, and garlic, salt, pepper, and a sprinkling of oil instead of a vinaigrette (recipe to follow). Each of those ingredients was incredibly tasty- I highly recommend adding any and all. All you need to do here is wash and cut the veggies as stated above and toss. Sprinkle with a bit of lemon juice for a bright, fresh taste, and to keep the avocado green in case you have leftovers.

Set salad aside, or meanwhile, make the following super-easy vinaigrette:

  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp-1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried herb of your choice (basil’s a good one)
  • 1 tsp whole grain or Dijon mustard
  • 1/2-3/4 cup olive oil

Whisk together all ingredients except oil; then add oil in a steady stream while whisking to emulsify dressing. Taste and season accordingly. I have categorized this post as gluten-free; the salad if gf, but the crabcakes are not gluten-free unless made with gf breading.



  • 1 12-oz container lump crab meat (found in the refrigerated section of the seafood counter)
  • 1 tbsp light mayo
  • 1 tsp whole grain or Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp yellow mustard
  • 1/2 tsp dried mustard
  • 1/2 tsp Old Bay seasoning
  • dash (or three) of cayenne
  • dash celery seed, if you have some around
  • 1 tsp lemon juice (save this from your vinaigrette)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 tbsp whole wheat breadcrumbs
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil


Moutarde was the surname I gave these basic crab cakes to make them extra-fancy. French does that (see: Grey Poupon and pommes frites). So does drinking wine. There is mustard in the sauce I made, so I guess the name is legit. Voila! So very fancy.

Heat a non-stick pan over medium low, and add oil. Mix all ingredients except crab and bread crumbs. I recommend whisking them so they’re well-combined. I wouldn’t over-salt these, as you want to taste the delicate crab, and can liven up the flavor after cooking with bright, fresh, lemon juice. Fold in the crab with a spoon; then fold in the breadcrumbs. Add more breadcrumbs if you like, but keep in mind that the egg will bind the ingredients and help them cook in a patty form.

Divide the mixture into quarters (about 3 tbsp each), and gently form into cakes with your hands. Add patties (also gently) to the hot oil, leaving space between each. They don’t have to be flat and wide to thoroughly cook, they can be tall. They’ll cook pretty quickly. Let cook about 3-4 minutes on the first side; make sure to monitor the cooking temperature so the bottoms don’t burn. Flip over with a spatula and cook an additional 2-4 minutes. You want both sides to be golden brown. The crab cakes will look so pretty and smell so good at this point!

Remove to a paper towel-lined plate, and let rest while you make your schmancy moutarde sauce:

  • 1 more tsp coarse grain or Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp light mayo
  • remaining lemon juice

Whisk all together. Plate your vinagrette-dressed salad, add crab cakes, spoon sauce on top. There! Being home alone isn’t so boring after all! Savor, finish your wine, and google some more French words in the sunroom as you watch the sun set. Enjoy.

Defiantly unaltered photo. Instagram is Photoshop for food.

BIG Summer Steak Salad with Easy Balsamic Vinaigrette (gf)


It’s HOT in Saint Louis. Close to 100 degrees hot, and actually entering triple-digits tomorrow. The heat has forced us outside (ironically), to grill quick meals and then run inside and eat them like hungry vampires in the safety of our cool, dark home.


I had a simple but phenomenal steak salad at Over/Under on Wash Ave last week, and began craving steak salad as soon as I’d polished off the last bite. We had a pretty active and busy weekend, and making a grilled steak salad at home seemed to fit the healthy, fast, craving-satisfaction bill. And I’ll be the first to admit that I’m one to eat and repeat (and repeat, and repeat) when I stumble across a meal that particularly hits the spot.

you look beautiful when you’re undressed


For the salad. Ingredients:

  • 1 container Organic Girl Supergreens! or other bagged salad greens
  • 1- 1 1/2 lbs skirt steak
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • sprinkling of sugar
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 container NatureSweet Cherubs grape tomatoes- you can leave these whole
  • 1 cucumber, cut into chunks or slices (I like chunks)
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • a handful of cilantro, washed and roughly chopped


Preheat your grill to a medium-high setting. At room temperature, combine the canola oil, sugar, and soy, and spread over both sides of the flank steak. Let this sit and marinate while the grill heats up. Once hot, grill to desired doneness- I find that cheaper cuts like flank steak do well when cooked rare-to- medium rare, and always cut on the bias. Anyway, grill to your desired doneness (turning once) and let rest while you assemble the salad and dressing.

While the meat is resting, assemble the (prewashed!) greens in a pretty bowl. Slice the red onion, cut the cucumber, slice the avocado, and assemble all of those, along with the tomatoes, on top of your greens. Lovely!! If you’re a vegetarian, eat now!

delicious sans-steak

Meat eater or not, it’s time to make the dressing:


For the dressing. Ingredients:

  • 1/4 c balsamic vinegar
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp coarse ground mustard
  • large pinch salt
  • generous grinding of black pepper
  • 1 tsp dried parsley

Mix all ingredients except olive oil together in a small mixing bowl. Let sit for five minutes. Go feed the cat or pour yourself a glass of wine while this is sitting. When your wine has been poured, whisk in the olive oil in a slow, steady stream, emulsifying it into the dressing. This is a delicious salad topper, and can be kept for days at room temperature. Yay! You’ve saved yourself a step for tomorrow’s dinner!

whisk it good

Slice the rested flank steak across the grain, at a bias, the best you can. You’ll need a sharp knife for this, and a serrated knife may pull at the delicate graining of the meat. The point of cutting this way is to tenderize the steak- cutting on the bias, against the grain actually makes sliced meat more tender and palatable. Message!

Now- grab your favorite BIG Salad Bowl, assemble greens, top with veggies, then with avocado and steak. Serve!! Enjoy your summery meal!!

dinner is served