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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Yin salad, Yang sandwich and a Chinese duck

This week has been an adventurous one, filled with new adventures and dishes. I began a new side job, helping Italian college students converse in the language. I also took a one-day reflexology course, where I didn't only learn how to perform some reflexology methods...

...I got to be practiced on as well.

But, in my well-being state-of-mind, I was allowed to take advantage of a salad bar and hot bar at the community college where I took the course. What started as a simple Yang-esque healthy salad of spinach, broccoli, cottage cheese, Italian meat/cheese salad, sunflower seeds and dried cranberries (so maybe not THAT simple), was topped off with a Yin-ish scoop of beef enchilada, some other veggie concoction and a vegetable stack topped with goat cheese.

Really not that healthy in the end....

...but really freaking good!

By Friday, I sort of calmed down in over-the-top dishes. Over my gf's, I made something light and tasty: a sandwich with the following ingredients:

- tomato
- arugula
- mozzarella
- sauteed shrimp
- sweet marinated pepper from the olive bar
- marinated garlic
- roasted red pepper
- olive oil
- balsamic vinegar

Although the bun itself was 170 calories, the remaining ingredients were fairly tame and filled with various vitamins and nutrients. Definitely more Yang than Yin...especially with the side salad made with leftovers.

But the big event of the weekend was my friends' fancy party. The hosts were making a Chinese duck with a delicious glaze. Another couple was bringing another dish and I was to make ceviche...something I've never made before.

Let me say now that I was stressed about this dish. Even as I write this, the repercussions of all that tension and running around is felt in my shoulder blades (something you take notice of while driving on the highway and checking the other lanes before moving over).

I didn't know which direction to take with it, since so much was based on what was fresh, whether seafood or fruit because it's Ohio, it's winter and there wasn't much time to make it.

Fortunately, after settling for some scallops, I stopped by a local farm market and found some ripe produce that I thought would go well.

Rather than explain the various possibilities of ceviche I considered, let me tell you what I did through this recipe I more-or-less created...

2 pounds scallops (small)
2 ripe mangoes
1 avocado
1 red onion
1 cucumber
1 orange
1 grapefruit
fresh cilantro
fresh mint
1/2 red bell pepper
10 limes
Rice vinegar

- Thinly slice the red onion and cucumber (discard seeds) and put in a container with some sugar and rice vinegar. Cover and put in the refrigerator. This should be ready in 2-3 hours
- rinse the scallops under cold water while in a colander. Put them in a container. Squeeze the juice of 8 limes and pour that juice in the container with the scallops. It should cover them. Cover the container and put in the refrigerator.

- While waiting for the scallops to "cook", you can prepare the other ingredients. Cut up the mangoes, orange, avocado, grapefruit and put them in another container. Chop up the mint and cilantro. Finely chop the 1/2 red pepper. Squeeze the juice of the remaining 2 limes and mix well. Cover and put in the refrigerator.

After the scallops have been cooking for an hour or two, they will turn milky white.

- At this point, you can dump the scallops in the colander to rid the excess lime juice. You can also pour the onion/cucumber mixture over it to drain away the rice vinegar
- Add this mixture to the fruit mixture and mix well again.
- Put back in the refrigerator and let sit 2 hours before serving.

When we arrived at the party, we were fairly fancy dressed.

Fancy me.

Fancy her.

The duck roasted away in the rotisserie...

...the table looked nice...

...and the beans and bacon needed only be heated.

Soon the duck would come out as the majestic bird it was born (or killed?) to be.

But, as we finished out ceviche and salad and the host returned with the meat carved from his savory-looking duck, all six of us were surprised at the actual harvest.

Duck wasn't exactly like turkey.

But, being as I love an interactive meal, I broke myself off a piece of the carcass and picked at the bones, thoroughly enjoying this rather flavorful bird... matter how vulgar it may have looked on my plate.

It was OUTSTANDING - especially with the delicious beans, bacon and bok choy (alliteration in food is fun!).

And then there was a super Yin cookie cake and some ice cream.

But I think the stress from the ceviche helped merit this simply pleasure.

Don't you?

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