Kathy Maister's Start Cooking

Taco Salad

print recipe card posted in Soups, Salads, Sides and Sauces by Kathy Maister
Difficulty:

A Taco salad is a hearty meal. It’s filling, satisfying and a great way to get non-salad eaters to eat salad.

To make four servings you will need salad fixings (video) – I’m using:

  • 4 cups of shredded lettuce
  • 1 cup of tomatoes – diced
  • 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 small purple onion – thinly sliced

For the Taco part of the salad you will need:

  • 1 pound of ground beef
  • 1 eight-ounce bottle of Catalina salad dressing
  • 1 packet of Taco seasoning mix

Catalina salad dressing is a sweet, tomato based dressing that has a beautiful bright red color.

Start by browning the beef in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. (Check out my video on Browning Ground Beef!)

Then drain off and discard the excess fat.

Return the beef to the pan and sprinkle on the Taco Seasoning mix.

Add the dressing

Fill the empty dressing bottle half full with water, and then add that to the pan as well. Mix everything together.

Bring everything to a boil, and then reduce the heat to simmer.

Simmer for 20-25 minutes.

After 20 minutes it will look like this:

While the beef is simmering, prepare the salad fixings (video):

You can prepare the green salad with whatever salad fixings you like. I like green-leaf lettuce. It’s a beautiful bright green color and does not have a really strong flavor. Click here if you are unsure how to wash lettuce. Once washed, chop the lettuce into bite sized pieces.

You can chop up one large tomato or slice in half some grape or cherry tomatoes.

Pile the salad onto individual serving plates. (Do not add extra dressing to the salad. You won’t need it once the beef and cheese are added!) The warm beef slightly wilts the salad and the cheese gets slightly melted from the warm taco mixture as well. (I added crunchy cucumbers and some sliced purple onion as well!)

Enjoy!

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V-Slicer or Mandolin

posted in Knives by Kathy Maister

I love my V-Slicer! It cost $29. and was one of my best kitchen investments. This hand operated cutter is also known as a mandolin. I’m not usually a big fan of buying gadgets. There are many useless gadgets on the market that take up precious storage space and never get used. However, this one actually gets used – a lot!

V-slicers are used to cut firm fruits and vegetables. The shape of the cut depends on the blade used. You can mince, chop, slice and julienne, which means to cut into strips.

My V-slicer is made of heavy duty plastic. You can buy the stainless steel version for about $150. The more expensive models come with more cutting blades and have legs to stand on. Unless you do a TON of cutting or are a professional chef, my advice is to go with the less expensive version.

The blades are REALLY sharp. Always use the holder when cutting. The holder has spikes on it that hold the fruit or vegetable while cutting.

Jam the fruit or vegetable you are using onto the spike. (I’m using an onion.)

The arrows on the holder indicate which direction you should be slicing. Press down firmly and start slicing.

Here I have made incredibly thin slices of onion.

By adjusting the plate under the blade I can make thicker slices.

My V-slicer came with three blades.

If I wanted to make French fries I would use the center blade shown above.

Chopping or slicing, particularly onions literally takes only seconds with a V-slicer — see the picture below.

You can see a V-slicer “in action” on my French Onion Soup video.

Cheers!

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Salad Nicoise

print recipe card posted in Lunch, Soups, Salads, Sides and Sauces by Kathy Maister
Difficulty:

Of all salads, Salad Nicoise is my favorite! If it is on the menu, I inevitably order it! It has the perfect combination of foods – lettuce, tomato, green beans, hard cooked eggs, potatoes, black olives, capers, and tuna fish.

Pour on your favorite vinaigrette dressing, and the meal is complete!

For two servings you will need:

Step # 1 – Cook the eggs

Check out my 30-second Tips and Techniques Video on How to Boil an Egg. You can do this step well in advance, as hard cooked, unpeeled eggs will keep for about a week in the refrigerator.

Step # 2 – Cook the potatoes

Carefully drop some small potatoes (see below) into boiling water, adding some salt. Return the water to a boil and set the timer for about 12 (to 15-18) minutes. Before you remove them from the pan, stick a fork in them to make sure they are tender.

Cut the potatoes into bite-size pieces.

Step # 3 Blanch the green beans

“Blanching” means that you drop the green beans into a pot of boiling, salted water and let them cook for about 2 minutes. Remove them with a pair of tongs and immediately plunge them into a bowl of water with ice.

The ice water will stop the cooking process and keep them a nice bright green.

Step #4: Assembe the salad

(Be sure to wash the lettuce!) Spread the lettuce out on a plate.

Add the rest of the ingredients in clumps. It has a lot more “eye appeal” that way!

I splurged and bought imported tuna from a jar. It was expensive ($7) but worth every bite.

Sprinkle the capers over the salad.  In the photo above, those are capers in the white dish shown with the tuna fish. They have a unique, almost peppery-salty taste that works really well in combination with all the other flavors of this salad.  Capers are packed in brine and should be rinsed before you add them to the salad.

Once everything is added, serve this wonderful salad with your favorite vinaigrette dressing.

Oops! I almost forgot the black olives!

Enjoy!

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