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Sara

Sara and me

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Just finished reading A Well-Behaved Woman: A Novel of the Vanderbilts by Therese Anne Fowler. My friend Ann, from Idaho, brought it with her as we spent a week in Palm Desert. She handed it to me and said I’d really like it. Oh, did I! Loved the book. This book is a novel, but based on the life of Alva Smith Vanderbilt (Belmont). She was nearly destitute (and faking it) when a marriage was proposed for her with William Vanderbilt. There is lots of dialogue in the book, which is made  up, but I’m guessing the author probably read many diary entries of Alva (and the family) to create a very intriguing and readable story. A life of unbelievable privilege. Several children, including one who marries into a titled family in England. You see the inner life of Alva – her day to day busy work, charity work, visiting for afternoon tea, the undercurrent of society’s morals – men were nearly expected to have mistresses or affairs. This was the Victorian Age when sex between and man and a woman was not necessarily, and usually not, passionate. I loved this book from page one until the end.  She was a suffragette of the first order. Having read the book, I have a lot of admiration for her, even though she lived in the highest echelons of society.

Also read In Falling Snow: A Novel, by Mary-Rose McColl. From amazon: Iris, a young Australian nurse, travels to France during World War I to bring home her fifteen-year-old brother, who ran away to enlist. But in Paris she meets the charismatic Dr. Frances Ivens, who convinces Iris to help establish a field hospital in the old abbey at Royaumont, staffed entirely by women—a decision that will change her life. Seamlessly interwoven is the story of Grace, Iris’s granddaughter in 1970s Australia. Together their narratives paint a portrait of the changing role of women in medicine and the powerful legacy of love. The book  gives you a vivid picture of the state of nursing in WWI, but the story is quite mesmerizing. And there’s a twist almost at the end. Highly recommend.

Also couldn’t put down The Secret Wife by Gill Paul. A long story that begins in war-torn Russia. Cavalry officer Dmitri falls head over heels in love with one of the daughters of Tzar Nicholas. But events intervene, as history tells us. That was 1914. Cut to 2016 when a young woman inherits an ancient cabin in upper New York State and she discovers a jeweled pendant. The two times weave together to make a really riveting story. Lots of Russian history; well written; as I said, couldn’t put it down.

Uncommon Woman. A book about Colonial America, but really the western frontier at that time, which is in western Pennsylvania. The warring native Americans play large in this book. There is a romance, yes, but this book is not “a romance.” It’s more than that – about the hardships of living on the land, away from protection, Tessa and her family struggle to make a living and avoid the angered natives who take revenge when their people are murdered. Clay Tygart is a respected officer/soldier and commands a fort near where Tessa lives. Clay was captured by Lanape Indians when he was a young man, so he straddles both sides of the equation – first hand, he knows how the natives feel, but also his role in the lure of American exploration of the west. The natives wish to preserve their hunting grounds from the encroaching settlers. This book takes place in the mid-1700s I think. Loved it. Not only the history that is brilliantly detailed, even to the summer heat they experience. The crops they raise, the constant fear of attack. And the sweet love that weaves through it. Not a speck of sex in it.

Reading mysteries has never loomed large in my reading life. Occasionally, yes. And some espionage type books. But light mysteries have not intrigued me much. But one of my book clubs had us read Louise Penny’s novel, A Rule Against Murder (Chief Inspector Gamache Novel). The member actually handed out a cheat sheet of the characters in the book (many) and posed several questions of us as we read through it. The cheat sheet really helped. She asked us when (or if) we caught the foreshadowing of the murder culprit (I never did). The book takes place at a lovely inn in Canada and Chief Inspector Gamache (he is quite a character – along with his wife – are vacationing there) when a murder occurs. None of the characters escape the C.I.’s scrutiny. Lois, our book club member, led us through a very thorough and lively discussion of the book. Usually, my complaint about murder mysteries is that they don’t make for good discussion at a book club – but this book was an exception, for sure. Many of my learned book club friends rave about Louise Penny. One told me I should read Still Life next, and probably should have read it before I read this one.

Rachel Hauck is an author I’ve enjoyed reading over the years. Just finished reading The Memory House. It’s about relationships. Love. About family. About secrets. Doesn’t that just describe about 90% of every novel out there these days? Beck is a cop in NYC; a series of events occur and she is forced to take leave. Just then she inherits a house in Florida. She barely remembers the woman who bequeathed the house to her. Then you meet Bruno, a sports agent who will figure large in Beck’s life. Then the book jumps back in time to Everleigh, the woman who owned the house and you learn her story. Really stories of her two husbands. And how do those stories connect to present day. Very sweet book. Not a speck of sex in this one, either.

The Parrot Who Owns Me: The Story of a Relationship by Joanna Burger. Such an interesting book – nonfiction. The author is an ornithologist by profession (and a PhD) and this memoir of sorts is about her Red-Lored Amazon parrot she and her husband own. But no, it’s the parrot who owns her/them.

My Name Is Resolute by Nancy Turner. She’s the author of another book of some renown, These is my Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1901 (P.S.). Resolute is what I’m discussing here. A book club friend recommended this book, I immediately bought it on my Kindle. I could NOT put the book down. I devoured it. Any other “work” I should have been doing was swept aside as I read and read of Resolute’s adventures. It’s fiction, but based some on a true story. Resolute, as a young girl from a privileged life on a plantation in Jamaica, was taken captive by slavers, eventually ended up in Colonial America. This book is the story of her life. The people she met, the men in her life, her children, and always about her indefatigable energy for life. Always hoping to return to Jamaica.

Finished The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek: A Novel by Kim Richardson.  It’s a novel about the first mobile library in Kentucky (this is the 1930s) and the fierce, brave packhorse librarians who wove their way from shack to shack dispensing literacy, hope, and, just as importantly, a compassionate human connection.

The Shepherd’s Life: Modern Dispatches from an Ancient Landscape by James Rebanks. This book was offered as a bargain book from Bookbub, and something about the description resonated with me – maybe because of my Old Testament readings regarding the lives of shepherds back in ancient days. I utterly loved this book. It might not suit everyone – it’s a memoir, so a true story, of a young man growing up in the Lake District of Northern England, the son of a farming family, who sabotages everything in his being regarding going to school and leaves as soon as he is able (probably about 8th grade, I’d guess). And becomes a shepherd. And at night, he read literature that he accumulated from his grandfather. He bickers with his father, eventually moves out. One night in a pub with his blokes (friends) he enters some kind of a contest in the pub and realizes he has a lot more knowledge than he thought he did. In time he applies to get what I’d call here in the U.S. a G.E.D (high school diploma), which he does, and then he applies to Oxford, on a whim. And gets in. He graduates. He applies his knowledge to his rural life. He marries, has children, but still, his day to day life is all about his Herdwick sheep, although he does have a day job too working for UNESCO. You’ll learn more about sheep than you might have wanted to know. I absolutely loved, LOVED this book. If you are interested, James Rebanks has a Twitter feed, called @herdyshepherd1, and you can sign up to get updates from him about his farm and his sheep. I don’t do Twitter or I would.

Moloka’i: A Novel by Alan Brennert. A riveting book about the early days of Hansen’s Disease (leprosy) in Hawaii, and the stigma attached to the victims AND their families. It chronicles the story of a young woman, diagnosed almost as a child, and ostracized from her family, subsequently learning to live alone and remote.

House by the Fjord by Rosalind Laker. What a darling story. From amazon: A touching and atmospheric love story – When Anna Harvik travels to Norway in 1946 in order to visit the family of her late husband, the country is only just recovering from five cruel years of Nazi occupation. So it is with surprise that she finds in this cold and bitter country the capacity for new love and perhaps even a new home. I just loved this book – could hardly put it down; yet it’s not a mystery. You’ll come away with a desire to find that house by the fjord. I want to go there and have some coffee with the Anna, who was a Brit, yet fell head over heels in love with Norway.

Running Blind (Jack Reacher) by Lee Child. A Jack Reacher mystery. From amazon: Across the country, women are being murdered, victims of a disciplined and clever killer who leaves no trace evidence, no fatal wounds, no signs of struggle, and no clues to an apparent motive. They are, truly, perfect crimes. Until Jack Reacher gets in the middle of it. A page turner, as are all of the Jack Reacher stories.

Say Goodbye for Now by Catherine Ryan Hyde. This story, which takes place in a kind of Texas backwater, sets a town into an angry mess when two young boys, one white, one black, become friends, something most folks don’t like. At all. There’s a dog involved, the father of the black boy, the father of the white boy plus a woman who lives in the town and does her best to avoid people altogether. But they all get fused. Wonderful story.

Summer at Tiffany by Marjorie Hart. A sweet book, true story, of the author and her friend, during one summer in the midst of their college years, going by train to NYC and ultimately getting a job of Tiffany’s.  Cute read.

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann. You might think what a stretch – what does an Indian (Native American) tribe have to do with the FBI. Read and you’ll find out. This is back in time, 50s I think, and a number of murders have taken place on the Osage Reservation. A wake up call, even for today.

Oh wow. Just finished reading David Guterson’s book, East of the Mountains. You know this author from his most well known book, Snow Falling on Cedars. I loved the Cedars book when I read it years ago, and assumed I’d like this other book (not new) as well. Have you learned to trust my judgment when I tell you, you HAVE to read a book? When I tell you the story line, I can already hear you thinking . . . oh no, I don’t want to read this kind of a book. Please trust me. You’ll come away from it being glad you did.

A fabulous read – Catherine Ryan Hyde’s newest book, Have You Seen Luis Velez? I marvel sometimes about how authors ever come up with the ideas they do, to create the premise for a novel. And this one is right up there at the top of the list. Raymond, a youngster, an older teenager, who has a big lack of self-confidence and feels like an odd duck sometimes, reluctantly (at first) befriends an elderly woman in the apartment building where he lives with his mother and step-father. He discovers she’s blind and needs some help, which he gives her.

Magic Hour: A Novel

Excellent Women

Pachinko (National Book Award Finalist) by Min Jin Lee

An American Marriage (Oprah’s Book Club): A Novel by Tayari Jones.

Recently finished Sally Field’s memoir (autobiography) called In Pieces.

If you want grit, well, read Kristen Hannah’s newest book, The Great Alone: A Novel.

You’ve got to read Catherine Ryan Hyde’s book – Take Me With You. What a story.  From Amazon’s description: August Shroeder, a burned-out teacher, has been sober since his nineteen-year-old son died. Every year he’s spent the summer on the road, but making it to Yellowstone this year means everything. The plan had been to travel there with his son, but now August is making the trip with Philip’s ashes instead. An unexpected twist of fate lands August with two extra passengers for his journey, two half-orphans with nowhere else to go. What none of them could have known was how transformative both the trip—and the bonds that develop between them—would prove, driving each to create a new destiny together. Have a tissue handy at the end. It’s such a charming, sweet story. You’ll fall in love with the young boys, and fall in love with them again 10 years later.

The Last Letter from Your Lover: A Novel by JoJo Moyes.

Mark of the Lion : A Voice in the Wind, An Echo in the Darkness, As Sure As the Dawn (Vol 1-3)by Francine Rivers.

Flight of the Sparrow: A Novel of Early America

Answer As a Man

Celeste Ng Little Fires Everywhere.

The Rent Collector by Camron Wright.

C.J. Box’s book The Disappeared (A Joe Pickett Novel).

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng.

The Boston Girl: A Novel by Anita Diamant.

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers.

The Tuscan Child by Rhys Bowen.

Leaving Blythe River: A Novel by Catherine Ryan Hyde. A

The Girl with Seven Names by Hyanseo Lee.

The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian.

The Good Widow: A Novel by Lisa Steinke.

The Girl Who Wrote in Silk by Kelli Estes. W

How It All Began: A Novel by Penelope Lively.

 

Tasting Spoons

My blog's namesake - small, old and some very dented engraved silver plated tea spoons that belonged to my mother-in-law, and I use them to taste my food as I'm cooking.

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Posted in Salad Dressings, on January 18th, 2020.

green_curry_salad_dressing

Different? Yes. Good? Yes, indeed.

Over the holidays I was invited to a fun-filled afternoon/evening with part of my extended family. They know I love Indian food, and every so often they invite me to join them at their (and my) favorite Indian restaurant in our part of the world, the Royal Khyber. As it turned out, the restaurant was closed that evening for a private party, so they ordered all the food at noontime, picked it up and reheated it at their home for a late afternoon dinner. Janice and I conferred and I was to bring a salad.

So, hmmm. What kind of green salad and dressing goes with Indian food, I ask you? I had no idea. Since I knew curry would be on the menu, I googled some curry dressings and finally settled on one at the Cheeky Chickpea (is THAT not a cute name for a blog?). After making the dressing, and tasting it with a leaf of lettuce in hand, I thought it needed oil. The original recipe went onto a Thai noodle salad and the dressing, as is, no doubt works well with that, but on a green salad I was afraid the dressing would wilt the greens, and wouldn’t have enough heft to hold up to sturdy greens I used (Romaine and arugula). So I added oil. Tasted it again, then decided to try a trick I’ve read in many other recipe, some mayo was needed. Not much, but just enough to emulsify the dressing. I made it in a glass jar and shook it like crazy and it held together well for several hours.

The salad – as I said – was Romaine and arugula, but then to add some interest I included some sliced cabbage and a little bit of grated carrot for color. Then I added sliced almonds, fresh mango, and chopped dates plus a bunch of green onions. You could also use peanuts instead of almonds. I forgot to take a picture of it when I served it – so all you get to see is the dressing.

What’s GOOD: it was perfect with an Indian meal – the mango and almonds added nice crunch. It was not overwhelmingly curried.

What’s NOT: only that it might not be great with a meal that didn’t complement curry/Indian/Thai food.

printer-friendly PDF or MasterCook 15/16 file (click link to open recipe)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Green Curry Salad Dressing

By: Inspired by a recipe on the Cheeky Chickpea
Serving Size: 6

2 tablespoons lemongrass paste
4 teaspoons green curry paste
2 teaspoons fresh ginger — grated
2 tablespoons soy sauce — or Bragg’s aminos, or coconut aminos
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons maple syrup — or sugar free substitute
2 tablespoons powdered almond butter
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Zest of 1 lime
1/4 cup EVOO
1/4 cup mayonnaise

1. Combine all ingredients in a container with a firm lid. Shake vigorously to break up the mayo.
2. Serve on a green salad that has added cabbage (finely sliced), green onions, fresh diced mango, slivered almonds (or peanuts) and diced Medjool dates. For the greens, I recommend the heartier type – Romaine, arugula.
NOTES: This dressing contains less oil than a standard one, with other liquids added so the lettuces will wilt if left on the salad, so dress only enough that you’ll eat right away.
Per Serving: 193 Calories; 18g Fat (81.9% calories from fat); 1g Protein; 8g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 3mg Cholesterol; 520mg Sodium.

Posted in Salad Dressings, on November 16th, 2018.

sherry_sesame_miso_vinaigrette

A variation on the theme of a Chinese Chicken Salad style vinaigrette.

Most of the salad dressings that I have made in the past in the style for Chinese Chicken Salad have contained a lot of sugar – honey, or molasses, or both, or sugar, period. And if I’d made this one per the directions, I’d have one that’s similar, but this one contains a lot more ingredients than most. And I cut way back on the sugar. (Actually I used Swerve, but you could easily substitute sugar or honey). In fact, this one had so many unusual ingredients I had to keep looking back at the recipe because I couldn’t remember more than one ingredient at a time.

It all starts out in the food processor. With fresh ginger cut up into little pieces. You need to start with the ginger all cut up because sometimes the food processor doesn’t mince up ginger very well. I have an older food processor, however. So old that I’ve been thinking of buying a new one, but my old one actually works well enough. It’s just that the work bowl has gotten cloudy with use and time, and the plastic that’s supposed to cover up the pulse button has broken off. Underneath it’s still plastic so I’m not worried about electrocution, thankfully. I have a new S-shaped blade than Cuisinart sent me a year or so ago when they had a recall. A few years ago I had to replace the lid because it had worn out and wouldn’t push the slide down inside indicating the cover was on tight, so it didn’t work at all! But now that I’m a single person (widow) I don’t actually use my food processor as much as I used to. I could have made this dressing in a blender, or perhaps even  used a stick blender too. But with the latter, the ginger wouldn’t likely have gotten chopped up much at all.

Anyway, I piled in the ingredients (except the oils) and got it mixed up well. What’s different about this dressing is the addition of white miso, a full 1/4 cup. That’s a lot. And tahini, of course. Not much toasted sesame oil, however. It’s powerful. Rice wine vinegar is called for plus the sherry vinegar. Garlic, soy sauce, even a pinch of cayenne too. The miso gives it a lot of thickening, and likely gives it emulsion too. The original recipe, from Dairy Hollow House Soup & Bread Cookbook, calls for honey, 2 T worth. I didn’t want to use honey, so I substituted Swerve instead, and only a rounded teaspoon of it. So this dressing is nowhere near as sweet as most dressings of this type. I liked it. You can adapt it to your taste – use honey, or sugar. Even agave if you’d prefer.

What’s GOOD: the flavor, first and foremost. I’d have felt really badly if I’d made this and then decided I didn’t like it – since it was more work than most and contained so many ingredients. I used EVOO in this, although the recipe calls for vegetable oil. It was lover-ly on a Romaine-centric green salad with some chicken. Nice for a change.

What’s NOT: only thing I’d say is the list of ingredients. I try not to make salad dressings just before dinner time – I get bogged down with making it (because most of my salad dressings have a lot of ingredients in them) so I made this a few hours ahead, and I have at least a cup left in the refrigerator. Am sure it’ll keep for at least a few weeks.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 file (click link to open recipe)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Sherry Sesame Miso Vinaigrette

Recipe By: Adapted from Soup and Bread Cookbook by Crescent Dragonwagon
Serving Size: 8

1 piece ginger — about 2″ long, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic — peeled
1/4 cup miso — light style (white)
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar — or mirin
1/3 cup sherry wine — sweet type [I used sherry vinegar]
2 tablespoons soy sauce — or tamari
2 tablespoons honey — or less [I used a rounded teaspoon of Swerve, a sugar substitute]
1 pinch cayenne
2/3 cup peanut oil — [I used EVOO]
2 teaspoons sesame oil — toasted type
1/4 cup sesame seeds — toasted

1. Combine in food processor all the ingredients except the oils and sesame seeds. Pulse and blend until it’s smooth and no pieces of garlic or ginger are visible.
2. Pour the oils through the feed tube as the dressing emulsifies. Add sesame seeds and pulse a few times to combine. Will keep for about 2 weeks in the refrigerator. There are a lot of calories in this dressing, so use it sparingly.
Per Serving: 236 Calories; 22g Fat (80.8% calories from fat); 2g Protein; 10g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 572mg Sodium.

Posted in Salad Dressings, on October 10th, 2018.

fresh_lime_vinaigrette

What do you do when you acquire a windfall of limes? Well, you could make margaritas, or some other refreshing drink. In this case it’s salad dressing.

I actually have a lime tree. A dwarf one that lives in a big pot on my patio. To date (about 5 years) it’s yielded maybe 3 limes. This year I got one. I’m not sure what to do with the tree – I guess I’ll keep watering it (it’s on automatic drip) in hopes that it will suddenly decide to fruit more of them.

limes_in_a_bowlBut meanwhile, when I was at the gym the other day, one of the trainers mentioned there was a bowl of limes at the front counter and that I should help myself. I thought about taking one (to be nice, and assuming others would want them too), but she said, oh, no, take all you want – I have hundreds on my tree. So I took a bunch. If there are more the next time I go in, I’ll help myself and probably freeze the juice in 1/2 cup portions. Of course, limes don’t yield a whole lot of juice so it does take a bunch to make up 1/2 cup of juice – I think it took 4.

Here on my blog I have a recipe for a cocina salad with cilantro lime dressing, but I knew if I made that one, I’d need to use up the dressing within 3 days because the cilantro gets icky, even suspended in the dressing. So I went hunting for another recipe, and found one at epicurious. Its only unusual item is the addition of ground coriander. And it also called for cilantro, but I eliminated that part and merely added it to my salad itself.

Surely I’ve mentioned it recently, but I dislike bottled salad dressings. I always prefer my own homemade ones. And because I’m eating a salad nearly every evening, I like variety in my dressings. I have 3 in my refrigerator as I write this. But this one is the first one I go to if I have a choice!

When I mixed it up, I tasted it, using the directions as written. I found the dressing just a tetch too sharp, so I added in another tablespoon or so of oil. I also used a new artificial sweetener that I like. It’s liquid monkfruit. I’ve never had monkfruit – – from wikipedia: monk fruit is a herbaceous perennial vine of the Cucurbitaceae (gourd) family, native to southern China and northern Thailand. The plant is cultivated for its fruit, whose extract is nearly 300 times sweeter than sugar and has been used in China as a low-calorie sweetener for cooling drinks and in traditional Chinese medicine. They extract the juice and concentrate it and mine is a liquid in a little bitty bottle and it drips out. I used 8 drops of monkfruit extract to sweeten the salad dressing. Monkfruit has all kinds of healthful qualities and it slips through your system without being digested, mostly.

What’s GOOD: the dressing is very lime-forward – you truly can taste it. Liked it. The sugar/monkfruit took the edge off, but also the other tablespoon or so of oil helped moderate the sharpness of the lime juice. I liked the flavor altogether, and the ground coriander added a little extra flavor – it’s hardly discernible, however.

What’s NOT: nothing really, unless limes are ridiculously expensive where you live.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 (click link to open recipe)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Fresh Lime Vinaigrette

Recipe By: Adapted from epicurious
Serving Size: 4

1/2 cup fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons kosher salt
4 whole garlic clove — finely minced
2 teaspoons sugar — or artificial sweetener
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil — or more if needed

1. On a cutting board, mince the garlic first, then add the salt to the garlic and continue to mince. Set aside for a few minutes.
2. In a tightly lidded jar add all ingredients together including the garlic. Allow to sit at room temp for about 30 minutes before using, so the garlic will mellow a little bit. Taste for acidity and salt – it may need another tetch of oil if it’s too sharp.
Per Serving: 260 Calories; 27g Fat (90.6% calories from fat); trace Protein; 6g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 941mg Sodium.

Posted in Salad Dressings, Salads, on August 31st, 2018.

blt_salad_grilled_corn_buttermilk_parm_dressing

 

There’s still time, this summer, to make this really refreshing and satisfying salad. Grill the corn, fry up some bacon, plus a few croutons while you’re at it, and add usual ingredients.

You will need buttermilk, to make the dressing for this salad. Frozen and defrosted buttermilk doesn’t hold together, so you do have to buy some buttermilk. The dressing is easy – shallot, cider vinegar, mayo, Parm, salt, pepper and a tiny sprinkle of sugar. Plus the buttermilk. The mayo gives it plenty of richness and thickness as well as there is only 1/2 cup of buttermilk in the dressing. It won’t keep for too long, so better to use it and then make it again fresh. OR, Phillis said if you wanted to make it further ahead, don’t add the shallots until an hour or so before serving.

This came from a cooking class with Phillis Carey. My friend Cherrie and I love going to classes with Phillis – she makes the kind of food we both really like. Only trouble is we have to drive to San Diego to attend. We leave at about 4 from Cherrie’s house and get there about 5:30 for a 6:00 class. Then, of course, drive back north, drop off Cherrie and I can get home by about 9:30 pm. Cherrie is suffering from two “frozen shoulders,” so she really doesn’t drive except close to home as it’s painful and she doesn’t feel as safe on the open road or freeway, so I’ve been doing the driving for awhile.

Anyway, you’ll see at least 4 recipes from the last class (this one, watermelon sangria, a shrimp and cheese toast kind of appetizer, a skirt steak one too). I think the skirt steak recipe would be a great addition to this salad and it would be a complete meal with just the two items.

Phillis made home made croutons, but you could buy ready-made ones if you don’t want to bother. The dressing should be made a few hours ahead so the flavors will meld. The corn could be grilled earlier in the day – you don’t want to serve it hot on the salad as it would wild the greens. Phillis grilled the corn on an indoor grill, and she put foil on the grill pan, greased it and the corn browned beautifully through the foil. Such easy cleanup.

Ideally, if you’re making this for a big platter presentation (it’s really beautiful), you’ll spread the Romaine lettuce you’ve chopped up, then the tomatoes, the corn, and the bacon last. You drizzle part of the dressing on top and serve the remaining dressing on the side.

What’s GOOD: such a lovely summer salad. I succumbed to the corn and ate some (not on my diet, but I enjoyed the few kernels that jumped onto my fork!), and all of it has a lovely full-flavored taste. I could have eaten an entire meal of this salad, it was so good. And as I mentioned, the skirt steak recipe coming up in a few days would be especially good with this.

What’s NOT: A bit more prep since you do need to make the dressing, grill the corn and crisp up some bacon. But oh-so worth it.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 (click link to open recipe)

  • Exported from MasterCook *

BLT Salad with Grilled Corn and Buttermilk Parm Dressing

Recipe By: Cooking class, Phillis Carey, 2018
Serving Size: 6
CROUTONS:
2 1/2 cups French bread — cubed
3 tablespoons melted butter
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
DRESSING:
1 tablespoon shallot — minced
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese — grated
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon sugar
SALAD:
3 ears corn — husked
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
12 ounces Romaine lettuce — chopped (use hearts for best appearance)
1 1/2 pounds tomatoes — assorted types, chopped
6 slices thick-sliced bacon — cut in small strips
1/2 cup fresh basil — chopped

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. For croutons, toss bread with melted butter, salt and pepper. Place on foil lined baking sheet and bake for 7-8 minutes, until golden brown. Remove and set aside to cool.
  2. DRESSING: Combine shallot and vinegar in a medium bowl and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Whisk in buttermilk, mayo, Parm, salt, pepper and sugar. Cover and chill until ready to use, up to 2 days ahead. If you want to make this further ahead, don’t add the shallot and vinegar – wait until half an hour before using to add that, then use it within 2 days.
  3. CORN: Brush corn with oil, season with salt and pepper and grill until nicely brown on all sides. Cool and cut corn from the cobs.
  4. SALAD: Ideally serve this on a large platter (presentation is best this way). Arrange lettuce on the platter. Top with tomatoes, all over, then corn, then sprinkle on the cooked bacon. Drizzle with about 3 T. of the dressing, then sprinkle with croutons, parsley and the just chopped fresh basil. Serve with more dressing on the side.
    Per Serving (you may not use all the dressing, so the calorie count may be off): 712 Calories; 44g Fat (53.8% calories from fat); 17g Protein; 68g Carbohydrate; 6g Dietary Fiber; 37mg Cholesterol; 1531mg Sodium.

Posted in Salad Dressings, on May 25th, 2018.

orange_smoked_paprika_vinaigrette

A vinaigrette riff – kind of regular ingredients – but with smoked paprika for flavor.

Smoked paprika may be an acquired taste. And really, until about 15 years ago I’d never even heard of it. Then it began showing up in food magazines, and cooking classes, and visiting Hungary, I enjoyed it in several things. I bought some in Hungary, and on a subsequent trip I bought the sweet, half-sharp (half sweet and half hot) and smoked. In fact I still have a vacuum sealed bag of sweet in my pantry. It’s about 5 years old (never opened) – I hope it’s still good. But I’m now out of smoked, so will have to find a local source, probably Penzey’s.

Awhile back, because I subscribe to a free book website called BookBub, they sent the daily missive with their list of special-priced e-books at Amazon. In the mix that day was a book called Modern Sauces: More than 150 Recipes for Every Cook, Every Day. It was a real bargain price – probably $1.99. For that day only. So I downloaded it to my Kindle.

If you really asked me, though, I’d tell you that I don’t much like looking at e-cookbooks. It’s not my favorite thing to go find my iPad stand so I can prop it  up on my kitchen counter to read and prepare a recipe. I suppose that makes me old-school in this regard. But I did order this one, because I was pretty sure I wouldn’t have ordered the hard copy (for a whole lot more money, of course). So I did read it – in bed at night, over 2-4 evenings. And I liked the sound of a bunch of recipes in it. This is one of them. I brought my Kindle downstairs to my kitchen and flipped through all the recipes after I’d read the whole book, and I copied the recipes I liked into MasterCook. And here we are.

green_salad_w_orange_paprika_vinaigretteLately I’ve been eating a lot of salads. In that salad above I’ve got a mix of all kinds of veggies, plus a few sliced almonds and bocconcini, the little fresh mozzarella balls.

I’m on a diet. Probably one of these days I’ll write a post about it, but for now, I’m sticking to this new diet that has been very easy for me. In the mornings, I eat my regular yogurt bowl (unsweetened, Fage, plain) with a few berries, walnuts or almonds, a scoop of whey protein powder, a squirt of concentrated liquid turmeric, a drop of vitamin D & K, a tablespoon of ground flaxseed, and now SAM-e). That’s breakfast. Mid-morning I have a handful of nuts. Lunch is usually a bowl of soup – mostly vegetables in chicken/mushroom broth with either ground turkey or chicken, or even lean grass-fed beef. The soup is loaded with all kinds of non-carb vegetables. It’s satisfying and filling. I’ve made 2 big batches of this type of soup recently. Then another handful of nuts in the mid-afternoon, and a 6-ounce “shake” mixture of prebiotics mixed with unsweetened almond milk (which I’ve found I actually like!), and sometime during the day I also have a square or two of intense chocolate (dark, 80% or higher). That’s allowed.

Dinner is usually a salad with plenty of good veggies, some kind of protein (chicken, tuna, or even some lean pork) and a good olive-oil based dressing. And eggs are fine. What’s OUT of my diet is any sugar. Period. (He does say stevia – I use Truvia – is fine in small amounts.) No desserts, and fruit (except berries, although there are a few other fruits you can eat in very small quantities). And it’s working. That’s what I’ll tell you. I’m not eating any complex carbs at all – no bread of any kind, no flour, of course, no beans, no grains, no starchy vegetables (including peas and corn, of course). And no dairy except yogurt and a dib-dab of butter if it’s essential to cooking something. He also allows small portions of cheeses. Do I miss all those things? Sometimes. But it’s not because of hunger. I’m positively amazed that I’m not hungry in between meals, but I’m not. The handful of nuts satisfy any in-between hunger. I can have canned soybeans or edamame beans, so I plan to pick up some of the latter at TJ’s this week. They’d be good added to a soup – for texture. I can have red wine or an ounce of liquor if I want. In moderation of course. There’s a whole lot more complexities to the diet, but that’s it in a nutshell. It’s a diet proscribed by Dr. Stephen Gundry (a heart surgeon). He’s the one who wrote The Plant Paradox: The Hidden Dangers in Healthy Foods That Cause Disease and Weight Gain. The conundrum in that book is about the hidden threats in eating lectins, something that exists in lots of foods. There’s a cookbook that goes along with that as well. But his 2017 book is the one I’m following, Dr. Gundry’s Diet Evolution: Turn Off the Genes That Are Killing You and Your Waistline. If you’re interested, go to amazon and search for The Plant Paradox and you’ll get to a page with all of his books and books written by others about his 2 books, including several cookbooks, even one for an instant pot!

But because I’m now eating a salad at least once a day, I’m wanting more variety in dressings. There are a whole slew of oils you can have on this diet, but EVOO is the fav. No cream dressings at all, no sour cream or cream anything (except yogurt, I suppose). I’m fine with salads, as long as I can vary them with different proteins, veggie options and a different dressing every few days. Thank goodness! Hence this new dressing came into rotation.

The author of the Modern Sauces book mentioned that of all the salad dressings she makes (she considers a salad dressing a sauce) this one is her favorite. When an author or writer says that about any food, I’m all in. I made a half of a batch of this to try it out. It’s gone already, so I’ll likely make it again soon. You may see more salad dressings here in coming months. And more veggies, I suppose, in one form or another. Probably not any desserts, though, unless they’re mainly fresh berries! And I’ll still be preparing a protein entrée, so you’ll see some of those recipes. I went to a cooking class (actually 2) recently and I’ll be writing up all those recipes. I took a teeny-tiny taste of each item so I could decide if it was blog-worthy. All of them were.

What’s GOOD: loved the smoked paprika scent/taste in this. Different. Good, for sure.

What’s NOT: nothing at all.

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Fresh Orange-Smoked Paprika Vinaigrette

Recipe By: from Modern Sauces, 2017
Serving Size: 4-8

3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1/2 teaspoon orange zest — lightly packed, finely grated
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar — or substitute Truvia or stevia
2 drops sriracha sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup EVOO

1. In a small bowl whisk together the orange juice, orange zest, vinegar, paprika, sugar [or sweetener], Sriracha and salt, until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Gradually whisk in oil a little at a time, until the dressing is creamy and blended.
2. Taste and adjust the flavor balance and seasoning. Whisk again to blend just before using. Will keep for a week.
Per Serving: 124 Calories; 14g Fat (95.7% calories from fat); trace Protein; 1g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 67mg Sodium.

Posted in Salad Dressings, on May 13th, 2017.

green_goddess_dressing_spoon

A winner of a recipe from the folks at Cook’s Illustrated.

You’ve read here before that I record all the TV shows from America’s Test Kitchen and from Cook’s Country. I’m not sure which one discussed this recipe, but it’s credited to C.C. (the magazine) in April of 2006. Here on my blog I have another version of Green Goddess that is supposedly from the source, a hotel in San Francisco. But, the folks at ATK wanted to make it even better, and now that I’ve made it myself, I agree, this version is just wonderful. And much better than the other one.

What’s different? Well, first off, you soak dried tarragon (not fresh) in some water and lemon juice for 15 minutes. That obviously brings out the tarragon flavor. I think I like dried tarragon better than fresh anyway. I have a very hard time growing tarragon here – perhaps our summers are too hot. Don’t know . . . so what I have is French tarragon. Then you mix the tarragon concoction with mayo, a little bit of sour cream, fresh parsley, garlic, and one full sized, good-quality anchovy fillet that’s rinsed and blotted with a paper towel. This is whizzed up in the blender. Now, I also added the chives to the blender – in the recipe it said to add them after whizzing in the blender. Then I tasted it for salt and pepper (didn’t think it needed either) and let it chill. Right out of the blender it didn’t wow me at all, but several hours later, after melding the flavors, I thought it was delish.

green_goddess_in_saladAccording to the recipe, the dressing only keeps for 24 hours. I wasn’t sure why that would be – after 2 days (so I was a whole day past it’s use by date) I made one last salad for myself to use it up, and what I noticed was that the garlic had overpowered the dressing – that kind of sharp, not-so-good hot taste. As a family of one, I would not make this size (to serve 8) as I’d never be able to use it up. So keep that in mind when you make it – only make enough to use in 24 hours!

What’s GOOD: the tarragon flavor, which is part of what makes Green Goddess a Green Goddess, is perfect – just the right amount. The anchovy fillet is not noticeable at all – kind of like in Caesar dressing – it’s a good umami flavor. It’s a lovely green color. Rich. Altogether delicious.

What’s NOT: only that you’re supposed to use it up within 24 hours.

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Green Goddess Dressing

Recipe By: Cook’s Country
Serving Size: 8

2 teaspoons dried tarragon
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon water
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup fresh parsley — roughly chopped
1 medium clove garlic — chopped
1 anchovy fillet — rinsed and dried
1/4 cup chopped chives
salt and pepper to taste

1. In a small bowl, combine the tarragon, lemon juice, and water. Allow those ingredients to sit for 15 minutes.
2. Using a blender, process the tarragon mixture, mayonnaise, sour cream, parsley, garlic and anchovies until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the blender jar as necessary.
3. Transfer to bowl, stir in the chives, season with salt and pepper. Chill about an hour before serving to allow the flavors to meld.
4. Can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator up to 1 day. (After 24 hours the garlic overpowers the flavors.)
Per Serving: 168 Calories; 19g Fat (96.0% calories from fat); 1g Protein; 1g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 11mg Cholesterol; 141mg Sodium.

Posted in Salad Dressings, on December 13th, 2016.

meyer_lemon_vinaigrette1

A simple dressing – amped  up with the tiniest amount of balsamic and  mayo. But loads of garlic give it flavor.

Running out of salad dressing is a semi-catastrophe for me. I like home made salad dressings, and now that I’m a family of one, when I make them, they last awhile. So I make smaller batches. This one was just perfect for that, as it made enough for about 5-6 salads. I often make myself a green salad with oodles of veggies in it, for lunch. I either have a hard boiled egg to put in it, or some leftover chicken. I used to buy lots of Trader Joe’s prepared salads (they carry a bunch and they’re quite inexpensive) but I’ve gotten tired of them, and they also aren’t very discerning when it comes to chopping up Romaine ribs. I don’t like the base ends of Romaine (do you?) so I have to pick them out. Once, with one of those prepared salads, after removing all the big chunks of Romaine ribs I had a very, very small salad! That may have been the day I decided I really should just make my own. I have a certain combo of things that I like in my salads: thinly chopped celery, a few sugar snap peas, a radish, a carrot, maybe a bit of chopped fennel, and either Feta or some of the Mexican Cotija cheese crumbled over it.

This particular recipe came from Sunset Magazine, and the people who tried it gave it a 5-star rating. I knew I’d try it at some point. It was in with a stack of magazine clippings I’ve recently added to my computer. I’m so happy to NOT have little piles of them here and there. The joy of the internet is that when I spot a recipe in a magazine I just go to my computer and do a search and 99% of the time I can find it online and it’s such an easy task to transfer it to my MasterCook software. If I’ve read the recipe when I’m out somewhere, I type it into my smart phone app Evernote, then when I get home I just look it up. I’ve found, after years of doing this, that it helps to put in, for instance: meyer lemon vinaigrette sunset magazine. It will find it right away. Putting in just the title will give you 1001 results. So do write down the source and use it in your search string.

The dressing: It took little or no time to put it together. I smashed the garlic clove first, measured out the lemon juice and oil too. A note about the MEYER LEMONS. Not everybody can get them, I know, so my advice is to use regular lemons and add either a little bit of orange juice (about 15% or so) instead of lemon juice, or add a bit more sugar. Meyer lemons are a hybrid of Mandarin orange and a regular lemon, so the juice is slightly sweeter. I have a very prolific Meyer lemon tree outside my front door that just keeps coming nearly year ‘round. It’s an old tree, and I suspect it’s in the beginning of “old age,” so it’s not producing as many as it did before, but then, so am I, and I don’t use them as frequently now that my DH is gone. So maybe the lemon tree and I are aging gracefully together.

What’s GOOD: the overall CLEAN flavor. Even with the speck of balsamic and mayo (neither of which I could discern) it had a lively, bright taste. The lemon zest gives it a bit of zing. Altogether lovely. Do I like it better than any of my favorite salad dressings? Hmm. Perhaps not, but I liked it for a change.

What’s NOT: nothing at all. I liked the dressing.

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Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette

Recipe By: Sunset Magazine
Serving Size: 6

Zest of 1 Meyer lemon
3 tablespoons Meyer lemon juice
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons mayonnaise
3/4 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 cloves garlic — minced or smashed

1. Whisk ingredients together in a bowl until smooth. Keeps about a week, chilled.
2. MEYER LEMONS: If you don’t have them, use regular lemons and replace a bit of the juice with orange juice and/or add a bit more sugar. Meyer lemons are sweeter than regular lemons.
Per Serving: 71 Calories; 8g Fat (94.9% calories from fat); trace Protein; 1g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; trace Cholesterol; 124mg Sodium.

Posted in Salad Dressings, Salads, on February 8th, 2015.

arugula_greens_salad_oranges_peppered_walnuts

 It seems like most green salads, these days, are filled with all kinds of non-vegetable goodies. In this case, instead of tomatoes, or sugar snap peas, celery and carrots, this one has crumbles of blue cheese, peppered walnuts, some orange slices, and it’s tossed in a sweet honey and apple cider vinegar dressing.

A few weeks ago I needed to take a salad to a church event (a ladies luncheon). Most everyone brought a salad, a couple made dessert. I went through all kinds of salad recipes looking for one that interested me. Finally found one in a relatively newer cookbook I have called From Terra’s Table, featuring recipes from the author’s restaurant and some other San Diego restaurateurs. But I changed it all around. It called for arugula and radicchio. I couldn’t find the radicchio, so had to substitute greens that contained some radicchio and colorful red greenery. The recipe called for walnuts that were coated in a spice egg white mixture and baked. I decided to make my favorite Peppered Pecans, but instead of pecans (the way I usually make it) I used walnuts instead. I had mostly walnut oil for the dressing, but not enough to make this, so had to substitute hazelnut oil for part of it. I had some good Humboldt Fog blue which I did crumble in the salad, and just because I had a nice, big juicy orange in my kitchen, I decided to add that as well.

Hence, this recipe is not true (much) to the original recipe. I altered the dressing a little bit. I altered the greens. And I made different nuts. So, really, it’s almost a new recipe. I’m sorry my photo isn’t better above – I used my cell phone at the event and didn’t have the best light.

What’s GOOD: I really liked the dressing, but it is on the sweet side. I also enjoyed the orange in this, and the texture from the peppered pecans for sure. I used less of the blue cheese since I think blue can overpower a salad. I’d have liked some sturdier greens in this (maybe some Romaine, but not a lot) because those multi-colored greens are so very tender. I’ve changed that in the recipe below, but you can use your own judgment when you make it yourself. It’s very pretty – especially with the orange slices visible.

What’s NOT: nothing really, other than you do have to prepare the walnuts, the dressing, and at the last minute toss it all and peel & slice the orange. Not something I’d make for a weeknight dinner, but great to take to someone else’s home if this is all you’re making.

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Arugula and Radicchio Salad with Blue Cheese, Oranges and Peppered Walnuts

Recipe By: Adapted from a recipe from (now closed) Terra Restaurant, San Diego
Serving Size: 5 (maybe more)

PEPPERED WALNUTS:
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup walnut halves
HONEY-WALNUT VINAIGRETTE:
3/8 cup honey
3/8 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup walnut oil — plus 1 tablespoon
1 tablespoon shallots — minced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme — minced
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
SALAD:
1/2 pound arugula
1/4 pound radicchio — sliced (or use multicolored greens)
2 cups Romaine lettuce — chopped
1/4 cup blue cheese — (I used Humboldt Fog)
1 whole orange — peeled, thinly sliced

1. WALNUTS: Place a baking sheet or jelly roll pan next to your range before you start.
2. In a small bowl combine sugar, salt and pepper, and stir to combine.
3. Heat a large wok or heavy skillet over high heat. Add nuts and toss until walnuts are warm, about 1 minute.
4. Sprinkle nuts with HALF of the sugar mixture and toss until the sugar melts. Add remaining sugar mixture and toss again until sugar melts, then IMMEDIATELY pour out onto the baking sheet. Spread nuts out and allow to cool. The nuts won’t absorb all of the sugar mixture – it caramelizes, but just throw out the extra. The nuts will keep, stored in a plastic bag, for about 3-4 weeks. (Allow pan to cool, then fill with hot water – I use a nonstick pan for this.)
5. VINAIGRETTE: Combine the liquid ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. Pour into a jar, add other ingredients, shake and set aside (extra dressing will keep for 2 weeks, refrigerated). You won’t use all the dressing on this salad.
6. SALAD: In a large bowl combine the arugula, Romaine and radicchio (or greens). Add enough salad dressing so the leaves shine. Taste for seasonings, then add the crumbled cheese on top, add peppered walnuts and orange slices. Serve immediately.
Per Serving (incorrect as you’ll have dressing left over): 611 Calories; 53g Fat (74.2% calories from fat); 6g Protein; 35g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 4mg Cholesterol; 377mg Sodium.

Posted in Salad Dressings, Salads, on March 16th, 2014.

crunchy_napa_cabbage_salad

Oh gosh, this salad is just SO good. I think I could eat this every other night for the rest of my life and not get tired of it. Does that tell you anything? Like – – you need to make this? It’s that good!

So what is this stuff? It’s mostly Napa cabbage cut into narrow shreds, a whole bunch of radishes, some snow peas (or sugar snap, because that’s what I had on hand), some green onions and toasted almonds. All that cloaked in a really delicious mayo-based dressing that’s sweet with a little bit of sugar, sour with a bit of white wine vinegar (I used white balsamic), and flavored with ground ginger, a bit of cayenne, a garlic clove and just a smidgen of toasted sesame oil and soy sauce. Then you add a cup of mayo. The salad part can be made ahead; so can the dressing; then you just combine them before serving, although you don’t use all the dressing. The salad is best served immediately, or within a few hours. The next day the cabbage is somewhat wilted, but the salad is still edible. Not at its peak, but still tasty. I don’t eat left over green salad cuz the green leaves just get limp – and to me they’re inedible. This cabbage salad was nowhere near that, so it IS definitely edible one day later.

The CRUNCH? It comes from the cabbage, the radishes, the peas and even the toasted almonds. All of it is crunchy. The origin of this recipe is Sunset Magazine. A month or two ago the magazine did a 25-year retrospective of their favorite recipes. This recipe – THIS ONE – was the #1 nominated recipe (from both readers and editors). More reason to make it. Again and again and again.

What makes it special? I’d say it’s the salad dressing. It has just a hint of Asian flavor (from the soy sauce and toasted sesame oil) but it’s very subtle. Truly, it is subtle. And I particularly liked the hint of sweet in it too. And the faint hint of heat from the cayenne. And it’s probably from the variety of veggies. The combo is just different. I don’t know who came up with this recipe, but I tip my hat to her/him.

What’s GOOD: absolutely everything. Love-love-love this salad. It’s going to go onto my favs list if that’s any indication of just how good it is.
What’s NOT: Nothing, other than the time required to slice and shred the veggies. But worth it, for sure.

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Crunchy Napa Cabbage Slaw

Recipe By: Sunset, January 2014
Serving Size: 8

1 pound Napa cabbage — coarsely shredded
12 ounces snow peas — strings removed, thinly sliced (or sugar snap peas)
1 1/3 cups radishes — thinly sliced
1 1/3 cups green onions — (including green tops), thinly sliced
1 1/3 cups cilantro — lightly packed, chopped
2/3 cup slivered almonds — toasted
CREAMY SOY DRESSING: (you’ll use 3/4 of this to dress the above salad)
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 clove garlic — peeled, minced
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 cup mayonnaise

1. In a large bowl, combine cabbage, snow peas, radishes, green onions, and cilantro.
2. DRESSING: Whisk together sugar, white wine vinegar, soy sauce, garlic clove, ground ginger and toasted sesame oil, and cayenne. Whisk in 1 cup mayonnaise.
3. Add about three-quarters of dressing and the almonds to cabbage mixture; mix to coat. Taste and mix in more dressing if you like. Pour into a serving bowl.
Per Serving (not accurate as you don’t use all the dressing in the recipe): 342 Calories; 30g Fat (74.5% calories from fat); 6g Protein; 17g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 10mg Cholesterol; 306mg Sodium.

Posted in Salad Dressings, on March 14th, 2014.

apple_cider_vinaigrette_close

The other night I made the best salad. I can’t say that on any ordinary evening I feel my green salads are exceptional. They’re GOOD, but not exceptional. And usually they’re good because I make my own salad dressings. This one, though, was about the salad itself, and it was likely enhanced because of the dressing. I’ll tell you about what was in it down below. . . it’s not like I could even come up with a recipe, exactly. But I will tell you what I put in this one.

The dressing, though, is what I’m mostly telling you about today. But first, I want to talk a bit about vinegar. If you read any of the foodie magazines, you’ve likely read somewhere about the sad state of apple cider vinegar in our country. Most of the stuff we buy at the grocery store (Heinz included) is just the straight white vinegar with a little bit of brownish coloring in it. It’s not cider vinegar at all. apple_cider_vinaigrette_in_cruet

According to Wikipedia, apple cider vinegar a type of vinegar [that is supposed to be] made from cider or apple must and has a pale to medium amber color. Unpasteurized or organic ACV contains mother of vinegar, which has a cobweb-like appearance and can make the vinegar look slightly congealed.

If you’re lucky enough to find apple cider vinegar that comes from some local farms, all the better, but on a bulk note, I generally buy Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar. According to their website,

“Certified Bragg Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar is unfiltered, unheated, unpasteurized and 5% acidity. Contains the amazing Mother of Vinegar which occurs naturally as strand-like enzymes of connected protein molecules. . . Bragg Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar is made from delicious, healthy, organically grown apples.”

bragg_vinegarAt upscale markets you can sometimes find lovely winery-produced wine vinegar and at organic farms (particularly apple orchards, I’d guess) you may be able to buy apple cider vinegar. Since I see that rarely, as I mentioned, I buy Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar Organic Raw — 32 fl oz – sometimes even at my regular grocery store. I prefer to buy the unfiltered that contains the “mother,” a clump of yeasty, spongy stuff that you’ll sometimes find in the bottom of a bottle of vinegar (only the apple cider type).

Back to this dressing, though . . . I went to my most recent salad dressing cookbook I bought last year, Vinaigrettes & Other Dressings: 60 Sensational recipes to Liven Up Greens, Grains, Slaws, and Every Kind of Salad. By Michele Anna Jordan. I leafed through, looking at every recipe. I’ve added one of her recipes in this book to my regular rotation, the Molasses Honey Vinaigrette. And I settled on this one to try something different. I did make two tiny changes – I used apple juice concentrate mixed with a little water (so it may have been slightly more concentrated than her recipe; and after tasting the dressing, I decided it was just a tad too acidic, so I added another T. of oil.

Why use Bragg?

Simple: it’s a true cider vinegar made with the must of apples, not just a white vinegar that’s colored to look like cider vinegar.

According to the author, she prefers to use this dressing on a cabbage slaw or on a chicken or duck salad. (I used it on a green salad!) She offers 4 variations on the recipe below – I have included them in the recipe below, although I haven’t tried any of these variations. A spicy version: adding 2 T. apricot, kumquat or fig jam and  3-4 garlic cloves (wow, 3-4?). Another variation has 1/2 cup pureed fresh mango in it and cilantro. A 3rd one adds 2 T. hot pepper jam, like jalapeno jelly; yet a 4th adds 1-2 tsp. chipotle chile powder and a T. of crème fraiche.

So, the mixture is combined in a glass jar, or as I did, in my handy-dandy Chef’n Emulstir 2.0, Salad Dressing Mixer. It was a gift for Christmas, and I will say, I use it a lot. After I make a salad dressing, of course, it resides in the refrigerator. Depending on what kind of oil I’ve used, it may be really firm (as in EVOO) and a bit thinner if I’ve used canola oil. I take the Chef’n Emulstir out of the refrigerator when I start fixing dinner, so that by the time I’m ready to toss the salad, it’s warmed up and will pour out of the spout and doesn’t clump on the salad. First, though, you grab the jar and flex the green handle thingy, which rotates inside the bottle, hence stirring it up well – emulsifying it as best I can.

The SALAD, then . . . for a salad to serve 3 people (we had a houseguest, our friend Joe Casali, of the Italian mushroom story) I used about 1 1/2 cups of Romaine, about 3/4 cup of arugula that I chopped up coarsely, 1-2 leaves of red leaf lettuce, 1/4 cup chopped-up sugar snap peas, about 1/2 cup chopped celery, mostly inner pieces, 1 medium tomato, chopped up in fairly small pieces, about 3 tablespoons of Feta cheese, crumbled, 2 T. toasted almonds, a few dried cranberries (craisins), a few pepitas, and lastly after dressing and plating the salads, I added 2 slices of avocado on each one.

What’s GOOD: I liked this dressing a lot. I have just enough for another salad. The author says to use up all the dressing in one go, but I didn’t do that. I’ll add an addendum here if I find the dressing doesn’t taste great at the 2nd iteration.
What’s NOT: nothing that I can think of. All dressings are best the day they’re made, but that doesn’t keep me from making larger quantities. Nothing in dressings can really spoil except with very long term storage (the oil could turn rancid, but that’s a long shot).

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Apple Cider Vinaigrette

Recipe By: Adapted very slightly from Michele Anna Jordan, from her book Vinaigrettes and Other Dressings
Serving Size: 6

2 tablespoons apple juice, frozen concentrate
1 tablespoon water
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar — [I use Bragg brand]
3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil — [I used about a tablespoon more]

1. In a glass jar add the apple juice concentrate and water. Stir or shake to combine.
2. Add the remaining ingredients and shake well before pouring over a green salad of your choice. Also goes well on a cabbage slaw or a chicken salad.
NOTES: VARIATIONS (I haven’t tried any of these):
(1) Zesty – add 2 T. apricot, kumquat or fig jam and 3-4 minced garlic cloves. Serve on pork or pork sliders.
(2) Mango – add 1/2 cup fresh mango puree and 2 T cilantro leaves. This one is best on fruit salads.
(3) Spicy – add 2 T. hot pepper jam – serve with chevre cheese and leafy greens.
(4) Smoky – add 1-2 tsp chipotle chili powder and a T. of creme fraiche. This particularly goes well with carrots, jicama and radishes.
Per Serving: 130 Calories; 14g Fat (91.8% calories from fat); trace Protein; 3g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 237mg Sodium.



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