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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.

One of my book clubs occasionally reads a kind of edgy book. This is one of them. By Mohsin Hamid, Exit West: A Novel is a book set in an age not dissimilar to our own and in current time, but something bad has happened in the world. Something never divulged, although symptoms of a civil war are mentioned. A unmarried couple, Nadia and Saeed, are given the opportunity (as others are, as well) to go through a door (this is the exit part of the title) and to another place in the world – it takes but a second – to go through the special door. They go to England (London), to a palatial mansion. Sometimes the power grid is sketchy. Another door. And yet another. And finally to Marin County (north of San Francisco). You follow along with the ups and downs of the chaste relationship of the two, this couple from a house to living on the streets. And the eventual dissolution of the relationship too. I wasn’t enamored with the book, but after listening to the review of it and hearing others talk about it, I suppose there’s more to this story than it might appear. Hope is the word that comes to mind. The book is strange, but it won the Los Angeles Times book award in 2017. It’s received lots of press. It made for some very interesting discussion at our book club meeting.

The Last Letter from Your Lover: A Novel by JoJo Moyes. Story: Jennifer Stirling wakes up in hospital, having had a traumatic car accident. She’s introduced to her husband, of whom she has no recollection, and is sent home with him eventually, to a life she neither remembers or embraces readily. But this is the life she was raised to have, so surely it must be worth living, underneath the strange, muted tones of her daily existence. Jennifer goes through the motions, accepts what she is told is her life and all seems to bob along well enough, except when she finds a letter that isn’t her husband’s handwriting, and is clearly a link to someone she has been involved with, but whom? London, France, Africa and America all come into play in this story of a woman piecing back together her life in effort to understand what she has lost, and what she threw away. There is a bit of a time-hop from 1964 to 2003. . . from a reviewer on amazon.  I loved this book from page one to the end. There’s some bit of mystery and you so get into the head of Jennifer Stirling. I could hardly put it down. Great read.

Francine Rivers, an author relatively new to me, but much admired, is most known for this: Mark of the Lion : A Voice in the Wind, An Echo in the Darkness, As Sure As the Dawn (Vol 1-3) It’s a trilogy. The first 2 books are about Hadassah, a young woman in the time of the Roman Empire. When Jerusalem was overrun and destroyed, the Christians still alive were sent off and away, separated and derided and abused. Hadassah was one of them. She’s a slave to a wealthy family and it takes 2 of the books to read before the son of the family finally realizes that he’s in love with Hadassah. If  you’re a Christian, you’ll learn a whole lot more about the time following Christ’s crucifixion, about the lot of the struggling Christian community. The 3rd book in the trilogy is about a gladiator who is part of book 1 and 2, but not a main character. You’ll learn about his life too, after he regains his freedom from the fighting ring and the battle of his soul. These books are a fabulous read. Can’t say enough good things about them all. I’ve never been a huge fan of old-world Roman Empire reading, but this one was altogether different. Very worth reading.

Amy Belding Brown wrote this book: Flight of the Sparrow: A Novel of Early America, a true accounting in 1676, of Mary Rowlandson, a woman who was captured by Native Americans.  Even before she was captured on a winter day of violence and terror, she sometimes found herself in conflict with her rigid Puritan community. Now, her home destroyed, her children lost to her, she has been sold into the service of a powerful woman tribal leader, made a pawn in the ongoing bloody struggle between English settlers and native people. Battling cold, hunger, and exhaustion, Mary witnesses harrowing brutality but also unexpected kindness. To her confused surprise, she is drawn to her captors’ open and straightforward way of life, a feeling further complicated by her attraction to a generous, protective English-speaking native known as James Printer. The story is riveting, and perplexing once she is traded back to her home. You’ll see a different side to the Indian problem back then and find yourself conflicted. An excellent read.

Taylor Caldwell was a prolific writer, and one I read when I was younger. She died in 1980, and this book, her last, Answer As a Man certainly delivers as her others did. All his life, Jason Garrity has had to battle intolerance and injustice in his quest for power, money, and love. His new hotel will give him financial security, the means to support a loving family and become an upstanding citizen. When family secrets and financial greed combine to destroy his dreams, his rigid moral convictions are suddenly brought into question. . . from Goodreads. Caldwell believed the banking industry was way too powerful, and often took aim at it, as she did in this book. It chronicles the life of a very poor, impoverished Irish immigrant to the U.S. He was an upstanding citizen, God-fearing, but maybe naive in some respects. Good book if you enjoy very deep character study.

Another book by Diney Costeloe, Miss Mary’s Daughter. When a young women is suddenly left with no family and no job or income, she’s astounded to learn that she’s actually a granddaughter of a “grand” family in Ye Olde England. She’s very independent (at least I thought so, for the time period), but is willing to investigate this new family of hers. There are many twists and turns – is she going to inherit the family home – or is the man who has been caring for the home and his daughter the logical inheritors. There’s a villain who nearly sweeps her off her feet, much intrigue from many characters. Well developed plot with a happy ending. A good read.

Celeste Ng is a hot new author. I read another of her books (see below) but this time I read Little Fires Everywhere. There are so many various characters and plots in this book, as in her others. This book focuses on a Chinese baby abandoned at a fire station and the subsequent court battle when the single mother surfaces six months later to try to reclaim her daughter from the family in the process of adopting her. Emotions well up, waxing and waning on both sides of the issue. You may even find yourself changing your own mind about the right or wrong of a child raised with a natural-born mother (albeit late to the raising) or the mother the child has known since near birth. Ng likes to write books with lots of grit and thorny issues. Although a good read, I liked Everything I Never Told You better than this one.

The Rent Collector by Camron Wright. Oh my. This book has so many layers: (1) the young, impoverished couple and their infant son who live, literally, in a dump in Cambodia and about the precarious structure, if you can even call it that, that comprises their “house” in the midst and perched on top of trash; (2) the woman who collects the rent (hence the title and yes, people have to PAY to live there); (3) the young son’s chronic illness; (4) how they make a living out of collecting and selling trash; and (4) the life saving grace and wisdom imparted by characters in the book as the young mother begins to learn to read. If you decide to read this book, please don’t stop at about page 15-20, thinking you just don’t know if you want to read about this. Please continue. It’s so worth it. Have a highlighter pen in your hand because you’ll find so many quotes you will want to remember. Believe it or not, there is also quite a bit in this about literature.

Recently finished C.J. Box’s book The Disappeared (A Joe Pickett Novel). I just love Box’s novels. They take place in present day semi-wild west, and chronicle the fish and game warden, Joe Pickett, as he unravels another crime in his territory. A woman has disappeared, and the governor has asked him to figure it out. He does, but the tale meanders through multiple layers of intriguing story. His books are riveting. Men and women enjoy his books – so if you have a fellow in your life or family that would enjoy an intriguing book (this is not espionage) then gift him one of Box’s books.

Also finished Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng. About a dysfunctional family, through and through. I picked this up from amazon from someone who read the book, named “McReader,” and she says: “Set in the 70s, the story follows a Chinese American blended family in Ohio. When Lydia [the daughter] is found floating in the lake, her family is forced to analyze what put her there. Was it pressure from her family to succeed? Was it pressure to fit in? Was it a crime of passion or convenience? I was spellbound reading the last half of this book. I loved each flawed family member, especially Hannah,. While the story went where I hoped it would go, I was not disappointed at all with the progression. It was also quite insightful on the prejudices that society had about Chinese Americans still during that timeframe and how careful parents have to be to put their dreams onto their children.” Such a good book and definitely worth reading. Would be a good book club read. You’ll be hearing more from this author. Am currently reading her next novel, Little Fires Everywhere.

The Boston Girl: A Novel by Anita Diamant. A very, very intriguing book. The book is written from the voice of a Jewish grandmother as she tells her granddaughter the saga of her life starting about 1910, who struggles with her own individuality, with her domineering mother who never says a kind word to her. It’s certainly a coming-of-age story as she grows up, finds a job, makes friends, joins a literary girls club, moves out, but still suffers under her mother’s thumb and tongue. She becomes a reporter on a local newspaper, which opens her eyes to more of the world than she ever knew. She finally meets the right man (of course!) and she shares the stories about her life, and her friends and family members as she grows up, giving some sage advice along the way. Part of the time she’s talking to herself – to her young self  (really wanting to tell young Addie to keep on, forgive herself for her perceived transgressions, to live life, and experience the world).

One of the best books I’ve read in a long time – Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. Rivers is a prodigious writer of Christian fiction, and I’d never read anything by her until now. As I write this, I’ve already read this, another one (below) and just purchased the Kindle trilogy called Mark of the Lion (Vol 1-3) that I haven’t yet started. (Two of my friends have said the trilogy is her best.) Redeeming Love details the fictional story of a godly man, Michael Hosea, forging his way in the era of the Gold Rush. He’s “driven” to rescue a beautiful prostitute who lives and works her trade in a nearby town. The entire book is about the story, the rescue, and it parallels a bit of scripture about Hosea who rescues a prostitute names Gomer. You get into the heads of both Hosea and the prostitute, named Angel. We read this for one of my book groups. A great read.

As soon as I finished the above book I promptly visited my church library and found a whole shelf of Rivers’ books, and grabbed one called The Atonement Child. This book takes place in the 1980s or 90s, about a young college student who is raped. She was engaged to be married, was a stellar student. The book chronicles what happens to her when she discovers she is pregnant from the rape. Every possible thing goes wrong in her life. I don’t want to spoil the story if you’re interested in reading it, but I couldn’t put it down. I ended up spending a good part of a day plowing through it. You hear her inner voice (I’m guessing this is a common thread in Rivers’ books) from a Christian perspective. Lots of meaty issues to discuss in a book club if your group would be interested and willing to talk about rape, abortion, adoption and the thorny issues surrounding all of those things, but with a Christian bent, for sure.

The Tuscan Child by Rhys Bowen. It’s kind of amazing how many and varied plot lines can be created from events of WWII. This is another one, about a current day woman who finds papers in the attic, after her father’s death, with references to “the child.” She never knew her father could have had another child – could she have a step-sibling somewhere? Her father she knew, had been shot down over Italy, but he never talked much about it. But of course, she must go to Italy to find out about this “child.” The book flips back and forth from this daughter on the search, to her father during the war, all of it taking place in a very small town in Tuscany. It’s about the varied people she meets who want her to go away and not dredge up anything about the war years (are they hiding something, you question), about how much she loves the landscape, and some of the people. And about the intense love affair between the injured pilot and a caring woman of the village. Very charming story. I could almost smell the flowers, taste the olives, hear the bees flitting, and loved the prose about the simple meals that were described. I really enjoyed the book. Perhaps not enough meat for a book club read, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy reading it nonetheless.

Leaving Blythe River: A Novel by Catherine Ryan Hyde. Almost a page turner. When one uses the phrase “coming of age,” it usually means (I think) love and loss/boyfriend/girlfriend, and in this case it’s somewhat that way. When Ethan, a 17-year old boy and his mother come home unexpectedly to find dad and his young secretary in a compromising position, all hell breaks loose. Separation happens instantly and just as his father moves out, his mother has to go take care of her aging mother. Ethan’s too young to be left in the NYC apartment alone, so Mom sends son to the father who is escaping from the world in Wyoming, living in a primitive A-frame house, and continuing his daily 20+ mile running journeys. Ethan and his father are barely speaking. They live in the middle of nowhere. Ethan feels betrayed by his father in every possible way, and somewhat by his mother for forcing him to live with his father for a temporary period. Then his father doesn’t return one day from his run. The authorities do a cursory search, but they are under the impression the dad wants to “get lost” on purpose. Ethan, although he thinks he doesn’t care, really does. What happens next is best left to you reading this book. Very interesting people (kind of loners) enter the picture and off they go to search. So worth reading.

The Girl With No Name by Diney Costelhoe. What a good book. Perhaps you’ve read before about the huge numbers of German refugee children who were sent to England before Hitler closed down any exits. This is a novel about one particular young girl, who is devastated when her mother puts her on one of the boats. She ends up in London, in an orphanage kind of place, and is eventually placed with a childless couple. She speaks no English. They speak no German, but they manage soon enough. Lisa (who eventually becomes Charlotte) is so homesick. She’s bullied at school, because most people and children don’t want any Germans there. A boy steps up to protect her, and as she grows up, she’s attracted to him. She shouldn’t be – he’s also German and from her own home town. He’s not a good match for her. You live with her through the blitz during all those war years and during one attack, she’s badly injured and loses her memory (and no ID on her). Through a series of mishaps she ends up in a village far from London, with a spinster woman who does eventually come to love her very much – they name her Charlotte and Charlotte she becomes. She goes to school there, still longing, though, for her mother and brother and her London foster family too. Then when she’s 16 she returns to London to help at the orphanage where she was originally placed and tries to find her foster parents. The story goes on from there, with the boy/man who “wants” her, the bad boy, and a good boy/man she befriends in the village in the country. Eventually she regains her memory. SUCH a good read.

The Girl with Seven Names by Hyanseo Lee. If you, like me, know little about North Korea and how it came to be what it is today, you’ve got to read this book. It’s a memoir written by a young woman who escaped from North Korea about 9 years ago. Her journey – and I mean JOURNEY – is harrowing, frightening, amazing, heart-rendering all at the same time. She chronicles the lives of the Kims (Kim Il-Sung, Kim Jong-Il to current Kim Jong Un), shares the strict propaganda that surrounds every North Korean citizen, the poverty and hunger, as well as the underground black market for food and goods. It took her awhile to get from North Korea, to China and eventually to South Korea, where she currently lives. She’s well educated and speaks English quite well. She was invited to be a speaker at a TED talk – you know about those, right? TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) is a media organization which posts talks online for free distribution, under the slogan “ideas worth spreading.” I listen to them as  podcasts now and then. Always very educational, if sometimes over my head when it gets very technical. She works diligently for human rights now, doing her best to help other North Koreans escape. You owe it to yourself to read this book.

Also just finished reading The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian. Another WOW book. I’ve always liked the author – many years ago I read his book, Midwives and really liked it. Don’t confuse this book with the one I recently read, The Last Midwife: A Novel by Sandra Dallas that I reviewed recently. I think we read it in one of my book groups. He’s a brilliant writer, and this one has a lot of characters and twists. It’s a novel, but based on a lot of truth regarding the Armenian genocide. Most of the book takes place in Aleppo, Syria with some good Samaritan folk trying to help rescue people (mostly children) following the forced long marches the Turks made prodding the Turkish Armenians to exit their country. But it also jumps to near present day as a family member is trying to piece together obscure parts of her grandparents’ former lives there. She uncovers some hidden truths (many survivors of the genocide never-ever-ever wanted to talk about it) and a bit more about her Armenian heritage. A riveting book – I could hardly put it down. Lots to discuss for a book club read. I simply must read more of Bohjalian’s books (he’s written many).

The Good Widow: A Novel by Lisa Steinke. All I can say is “wow.” In a general sense, this book is based on the premise of The Pilot’s Wife. But this one has some totally different twists and turns. A young wife is met at the door by police, informing her that her husband has died in an auto accident. Then she finds out he died in Hawaii – not Kansas, where she thought he was, on business. Then she finds out there was a woman in the car. Then she meets the fiance of the woman passenger and the two of them embark on a fact-finding mission in Hawaii to discover the truth. Well, I’m just sayin’ . . . the plot thickens. And thickens. And thickens clear up to the last few pages. Hang onto your seat. A really, really good, suspenseful read.

The Girl Who Wrote in Silk by Kelli Estes. What a WONDERFUL book. It opens up a shameful part of America’s past, but one you might not have heard about before this. In the late 1800s thousands of Chinese workers were brought to the West Coast to help with a variety of construction projects and a myriad of other things where laborers were needed. Many settled, married and made a new life for themselves. But suddenly the white population didn’t want them here anymore and they summarily ordered them ALL out of our country. This book chronicles a young Chinese girl, who was on a ship that was supposed to take her family to China, but the ship’s captain decided en route to dump them all overboard, to drown. The girl’s father knew it was going to happen and in order to save her, he threw his daughter off the ship as they were passing Orcas Island (in the San Juan Islands west of Seattle). She was saved. The book switches from that time to current time as a woman is rebuilding her family’s home on Orcas and finds a beautifully embroidered silk Chinese robe sleeve hidden under a stair step. The book is about that sordid past and the young girl’s descendents, and about the woman who is rebuilding. Stunner of a novel. Good for a book club read, I think. It has a reader’s guide at the back with good questions for book groups.

How It All Began: A Novel by Penelope Lively. I find it hard to describe this book – it’s wonderful. I loved it. But describing it is perplexing. The title relates to one of the characters, a woman of a certain age, who is mugged, and has to go live with her daughter and son in law for awhile since she’s stuck with crutches and has mobility problems. That starts the cavalcade of events that spread around her, with the characters. And she knows nothing whatsoever about them, hardly. They’re all somewhat inter-related (not much family, but mostly by circumstance) and they all get into some rather logical and some peculiar relationships. You engage  with each and every one of them; at least I sure did; and was trying to tell some of them to back away from what they were about to do. Or “be careful;” or “don’t go there.” That kind of thing. There is nothing insidious, no mystery involved – it’s all about these people and what happens to them. I was sad when the book was finished. The author, Lively, does add a chapter at the end – I wonder if it wasn’t part of the master plan – that kind of tidies up everything, and you get to see all of the characters move on with their lives, happy or not, but mostly happy. Really enjoyed the book. Am not sure it would be a good book club read, as the only thing to discuss are the characters themselves. Lively paints these characters well; you can just picture them as they get themselves in and out of relationship mischief.

 

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 Salads, on October 27th, 2018.

grilled_potato_spinach_corn_onion_salad

Does it look like I mixed this salad right on my granite countertop? Uh, no, there’s actually a glass plate in between.

The one thing you need to remember about this recipe is that you cook the small red-skinned potatoes ahead of time, but not quite all the way. Because after that you’re going to grill them. They don’t want to be so tender they’d not hold on the skewer. A vinaigrette is made – using champagne vinegar AND raspberry vinegar, a little honey mustard, fresh basil and olive oil. So delicious all by itself – or on any green salad.

If you’ve still got availability of fresh corn on the cob, do use it, although you can use frozen corn too. Buy some cotija cheese. Cotija is a Mexican dry cheese, crumbly, similar to Feta, so if you can’t buy cotija, use Feta. You need a package of baby spinach too and a red onion. The pre-cooked potatoes are tossed with a little olive oil and they’re threaded onto skewers. The corn is brushed with the same oil  and grilled along with the red onions.

Once the potatoes are done, they get put into a bowl and let them cool some. Add the spinach, cut the corn off the cob, add the onions, toss with vinaigrette and top with the cotija cheese. So good. Recipe came from a cooking class with Tarla Fallgatter.

What’s GOOD: loved the grilled aspects of this salad (potatoes, corn and onion) and really liked the combination in a salad with spinach and the tasty vinaigrette. I didn’t eat the potatoes (a no-no on my diet) and I ate just a couple kernels of the corn (also a no-no) but I gobbled up the onion and spinach in the dressing. Delicious.

What’s NOT: only that you do have to do the grilling soon before serving – you want the grilled stuff still warm.

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

* Exported from MasterCook *

Grilled Potato Wedges with Spinach, Corn and Red Onion

Recipe By: Tarla Fallgatter class, Sept. 2018
Serving Size: 6

VINAIGRETTE:
2 tablespoons champagne vinegar — or pear vinegar
2 tablespoons raspberry vinegar
1 tablespoon honey mustard
2 tablespoons basil — thinly sliced
salt and pepper to taste
6 tablespoons olive oil
SALAD:
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon spice rub — your choice
1 pound potatoes — red-skinned, roasted at 375°F until almost tender, then cut in half
5 ounces baby spinach — or arugula
2 ears corn — husked
1 whole red onion — cut in 3/4″ slices
1/2 cup Cotija cheese — crumbled

1. VINAIGRETTE: Shake the vinaigrette ingredients together in a sealed jar. Set aside.
2. POTATOES: Mix the olive oil and spice rub together. Toss the pre-cooked potato halves with some of the olive oil, thread on skewers and grill until tender. Brush corn and red onion slices with olive oil mixture and grill until tender.
3. Place warm potato halves in a bowl, add spinach while they are still warm. Cut corn off the cobs and add, along with the red onion rings, cut into quarters. Toss with vinaigrette to coat and sprinkle in the cheese.
Per Serving: 387 Calories; 32g Fat (72.4% calories from fat); 4g Protein; 24g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; trace Cholesterol; 66mg 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 Salads, Veggies/sides, on August 18th, 2018.

cauliflower_slaw

Do read this post, my friends – this salad is fabulous. Wish I had some in my refrigerator right now! Alas, this was gone the day after I made it.

It was nearly 2 months ago now that I was entertaining my SoCal kids, spouses and grandkids, in preparation for the trip to Europe we were planning for the last 2 weeks of July. It was our last hurrah-meeting before flying off. There were packing decisions to make (dress up clothing for going out to dinner or not [NOT]), suitcase sizes (small, but going in checked bags); use of wi-fi and settings to adjust on our cell phones; downloading the Google Trips app (I entered all the info mostly, shared it with everyone going, then they could access it all) and if you download the trip to your phone,  you don’t have to use wi-fi to access all the info (places to visit, hours of opening, hotel/airbnb locations where we were staying, car rental data, restaurant reservations, flight times LA to London, London to Florence, Florence to Paris, Paris home, etc.).

Anyway, one family brought dessert (fresh berries and whipped cream) and the other family brought a green salad. I had pork chops to grill (recipe up soon) and it was served with a cauliflower slaw to go with it. The recipe came from Suzanne Goin, the famous chef from Lucques restaurant in L.A. I am guessing this recipe came from the Los Angeles Times, but truly I don’t remember.

But, I’m telling you true, this recipe is a real winner. I sent most of the leftovers home with daughter Sara and kept but one small portion. I was sorry I didn’t have more, it was SOOO good.

First off, you need to cut and slice into tiny pieces an entire head of cauliflower. This took awhile. No chunks at all, but I pried off little florets and cut them in half or quarters, then sliced those, so no bite was very big. It also had a couple of heads of Belgian endive (chopped) in it, a hunk of fresh jalapeno chile (minced), some pecans and shredded coconut (very little). I didn’t strictly follow the recipe as I chose not to use coconut oil (I used avocado), I used less Belgian endive than called for, and I didn’t have any unsweetened coconut, so I used a lot less sweetened. Red onion is called for, and I soaked it in acidulated water for about 15 minutes before draining and adding that. The soaking takes away a bit of the sharp bite of raw onion. Goin called for cashews (I used pecans). And because I wanted to add a tetch of sweetness to it, I added about 6-8 dates, finely (every so finely) minced. You never tasted dates, but they added to the sweetness of the salad. And I wanted to add some green, so used some baby arugula. And there was cilantro in it too. The dressing included oil, vinegar, garlic, orange and lime zests plus some fresh OJ (and salt and pepper of course). The arugula and cilantro were tossed in at the last minute – otherwise the salad was ready about an hour before we ate. If you’re not a fan of cilantro, the salad will be just fine without it. If you want more pronounced date flavors, chop them rather than mincing. This salad is very flexible.

What’s GOOD: the overall flavor is marvelous. I can’t tell you if it was the orange juice? the dates? the pecans? or the coconut? that made it so good. Probably some of all of those things. This is a keeper, and one I’ll make again even for myself, it was that good.

What’s NOT: only the cutting up of the cauliflower. That was a bit tedious. The rest of it was easy, though.

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Cauliflower Slaw

Recipe By: Adapted from Suzanne Goin, Lucques Restaurant, L.A.
Serving Size: 8

6 tablespoons avocado oil — or coconut, or EVOO
6 tablespoons vinegar
2 garlic cloves — minced
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 teaspoon lime zest
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
Juice of 1 lime
3 Belgian endive — halved lengthwise, cored and thinly sliced
1 jalapeño — medium-sized, minced
1 head cauliflower — florets, then very thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Kosher salt to taste
Pepper to taste
2/3 cup pecans — chopped
1/3 cup unsweetened coconut flakes — (if using sweetened, use about 2 tablespoons)
6 whole dates — seeded and very finely minced
3 cups baby arugula

1. Prepare cauliflower and add to a large bowl.
2. Prepare dressing: orange juice, lime zest, lime juice, vinegar, garlic and avocado oil. Set aside and whisk just before adding to the salad.
3. Add to the cauliflower the Belgian endives, chopped, the minced jalapeno, cilantro, pecans, coconut flakes and dates. Pour dressing on top and toss gently. Just before serving add the arugula and toss again. Salad will keep for a couple of days though the cilantro and arugula won’t be quite so fresh.
Per Serving: 251 Calories; 26g Fat (76.4% calories from fat); 4g Protein; 14g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 9mg Sodium.

Posted in Salads, Veggies/sides, on August 3rd, 2018.

warm_barley_salad_pears

One might not think you could make a succulent salad with barley. You’ll need to try it to be a convert. Delicious flavors from prosciutto, hazelnuts and the best part, roasted pears.

Haven’t we been learning that nearly every food on the planet (well, probably not leafy greens) are enhanced with oven roasting. And pears are no exception. They turn super-sweet after a 25-minute roast in the oven, and then you let them cool.

The salad itself contains barley, which needs to be cooked, and either wheat berries or farro, which also need to be cooked. You could do that the day before, even. You may have to seek out pear vinegar – it’s a little bit hard to find, but you could probably use raspberry instead – there is some in it already – just use more. The pears are tossed with olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper and roasted on a foil-lined pan, turning them a couple of times. The prosciutto slices also get roasted – you sprinkle them with sugar (imagine!) and bake until they’re crispy, caramelized and glossy-looking. The onion is sautéed in olive oil and then cooked down in white wine until they’re roasted and caramelized also. Then you mix up the salad with your choice of greens (kale was used here) and then you add in hazelnuts, the onion, the barley and wheat berries or farro, and finally toss it with the dressing. Really, really delicious.

What’s GOOD: the flavors will just blow you away – the chewiness of the grains, the pears are the STAR, though, as they’re SO sweet and delicious. The dressing is light and lovely. Very satisfying dish. Serve with a grilled protein of some kind and that’s dinner.

What’s NOT: a bit fussier than some since you have to cook the grains, toast the prosciutto, long caramelize the onion, and make a dressing. But worth it. Trust me on that!

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Warm Barley Salad with Roasted Pears

Recipe By: From a cooking class with Tarla Fallgatter, 2018
Serving Size: 8

3 red bartlett pears — firm, cored, cut in wedges
3 tablespoons olive oil — divided use
1 tablespoon fresh thyme — chopped kosher
salt and coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 pound prosciutto — thinly sliced
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup pearl barley — cooked
1/2 cup wheat berries, raw — cooked (or farro)
1 whole red onion — thinly sliced
2/3 cup dry white wine
4 cups mixed greens — use winter greens if available
1/2 cup hazelnuts — toasted and peeled
VINAIGRETTE:
3 tablespoons pear vinegar
1 tablespoon raspberry vinegar
2 teaspoons honey mustard
salt and pepper to taste
6 tablespoons olive oil

1. Preheat the oven to 425°F degrees. In a large bowl, gently toss the pears, 1 tablespoon oil, 1 teaspoon thyme, one-fourth teaspoon salt and several grinds of black pepper. Spread out the pears in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet and roast, turning occasionally, until golden brown and fragrant, about 25 minutes. Remove and allow to cool.
2. On a large, parchment-lined baking sheet, arrange the prosciutto slices, making sure they do not touch. Sprinkle the sugar evenly over the slices. Bake the prosciutto until the slices are caramelized and glossy, 8 to 10 minutes. Rotate the tray while baking for even coloring, and watch toward the end of baking that the sugar does not burn (it burns quickly). Remove and allow to crisp and cool completely.
3. Cook the barley and wheat berries, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 30 minutes; drain well.
4. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, one-fourth teaspoon salt and several grinds of pepper and cook, stirring often, until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Remove the pan from heat and stir in the wine, then return the pan to medium-high heat. Cook until most of the wine is absorbed, about 2 minutes, stirring often and removing any bits of flavoring from the bottom of the pan.
5. In a large bowl, combine the barley and wheat berries with the vinaigrette. Stir in the mixed greens. Gently stir in the pears and hazelnuts if using and check seasoning. Spoon salad onto a serving platter; crumble the candied prosciutto over the top before serving.
Per Serving: 439 Calories; 24g Fat (49.2% calories from fat); 11g Protein; 46g Carbohydrate; 8g Dietary Fiber; 14mg Cholesterol; 511mg Sodium.

Posted in Salads, Veggies/sides, on July 24th, 2018.

roasted_eggplant_salad_feta_pinenuts

Really, you might want to call this a roasted red bell pepper and roasted eggplant salad with feta, kalamata olives and pine nuts. Lots going on in this salad. All delicious.

Every so often in the course of running a blog you have to clean house. The digital house, that is. I store files on backup CDs and over the years I’ve collected about 4 dozen of so with the photos I’ve used. Not the stories, the write-ups. Those are saved by the blog server once a week. But the original photos and the finished ones. That’s when I ran across these files for a bunch of recipes I’d forgotten to post. So here I’m doing it now.

This salad was so refreshing – good for a summer evening. If you had a grilled chicken breast along side or a lovely piece of grilled salmon, this could be a complete meal. There are a lot of layers of flavor in this salad – the peppers and eggplant for sure, the spice rub you’ll sprinkle on the eggplant and onions, the feta, then the crisp arugula. And the light crunch of toasted pine nuts too. Or you could compliment the salad dressing too. Or maybe the subtle garlic (roasted also) thrown into the mix. A lot of them, really, but they’re so mellow once roasted. If you don’t want to roast the red peppers, buy jarred ones – they’ll be just fine. That’s save one roasting step.

Do try to find fig balsamic – it adds a lovely light sweetness to the dressing, along with the honey mustard in it. Use good olive oil too. And don’t forget those toasted pine nuts, either.

What’s GOOD: all the flavors you’ll find rolling around your taste buds. Great for a summer outdoor evening, I think.

What’s NOT: nothing other than waiting for the eggplant to roast (40 minutes or so) and taking the time to roast the garlic (30 minutes, but at a different oven temp, so you can’t do them together). Have 2 ovens? Perfect! If not, make the garlic ahead.

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Roasted Eggplant Salad with Feta and Pine Nuts

Recipe By: From a cooking class with Tarla Fallgatter, 2018
Serving Size: 8

2 large red bell peppers — roasted, peeled, seeded, sliced lengthwise
2 pounds japanese eggplants — trimmed, quarter lengthwise
1 whole red onion — peeled, cut in 1/2″ slices
1/4 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons Mediterranean spice rub
16 whole garlic cloves
16 whole kalamata olives — pitted, chopped
2 small frisee lettuce — torn
2 cups arugula
1/3 cup pine nuts — toasted
6 ounces Feta cheese — cut in small cubes
VINAIGRETTE:
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons fig balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons honey mustard
6 tablespoons olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Toss eggplant and onion slices with olive oil, spice rub, salt and pepper to taste and spread out on a large parchment-lined baking sheet. Roast until tender, stirring occasionally, about 40 minutes.
2. Wrap garlic cloves in foil and place in a 300°F oven for 30 minutes, until cloves are very soft. Chop. Whisk vinaigrette ingredients together. Add the roasted garlic.
3. Toss eggplant, onions, pepper and olives with vinaigrette to coat. Toss in frisee and arugula and add to the eggplant mixture. Divide among plates. Sprinkle with feta cheese and pine nuts. Serve.
Per Serving: 312 Calories; 27g Fat (73.9% calories from fat); 7g Protein; 15g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 19mg Cholesterol; 381mg Sodium.

Posted in Fish, Grilling, Salads, on June 14th, 2018.

ahi_bowl_citrus_rice_spinach

Healthy, easy, refreshing for a summer evening.

A post from daughter Sara . . .

As I’ve started watching my diet a bit, I find myself looking for flavorful, yet easy dinner dishes.  This is a true match for the easy and healthy.  I had my first Ahi Bowl at a restaurant called The Fish District in San Diego, CA (near where I live).  The crisp veggies with warm rice and fish make this a wonderful summer dish. I love the combination of sweet teriyaki with the nose-burning touch of wasabi sauce.  I cook the Ahi outside on the side burner of my grill (well actually, my husband does – I’m banned from the grill as I apparently don’t clean it correctly!)  This is my own at home version.

With blackened seasoning to go on the fish, and julienned veggies to fix, I can bring this dinner together in about 20-25 minutes. With a bottle of teriyaki sauce to drizzle and a squirt of wasabi sauce (don’t use the pure wasabi) it’s so easy to just make a big platter with everything on it (rice on the side) and everyone can take what they want from the platter. For me, it’s no rice, but my family loves the lemony rice to go along side. Everyone loves it! And by the way, I buy my Ahi at Wal-Mart. I’ve found it to be really fresh. I buy it in a big pack and stick it in the freezer, then defrost what I need (one small steak per person, usually).

What’s GOOD: my family particularly loves lemon rice (which I make to serve with other things too), and they like ahi. We all do, and we can pick what we want to eat on the “bowl” with, or without rice. I use spinach only instead of rice. Easy dinner and healthy too.

What’s NOT: nothing really – maybe only the time it takes to julienne the carrots and cucumber. Otherwise, it’s such a cinchy-easy dinner to prepare. Be sure to not overcook the ahi – you want it bright red in the middle.

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Ahi Bowls

Recipe By: Sara C
Serving Size: 4

1 pound ahi tuna — (4 oz filets) seasoned with blackened spices
CITRUS RICE:
1 cup white rice
1/2 cup lemon juice zest from 1 lemon
1 1/2 cups water salt to taste
SALAD:
1 cup carrots — julienned
1 cup cucumbers — julienned
pickled ginger — (optional)
1 whole avocado — sliced
1/2 cup cilantro
4 cups fresh spinach
Terriaki Sauce
Wasabi Sauce (not straight wasabi)

1. Using outdoor grill, rub grill lightly with oil (use tongs and a saturated, folded square of paper towel), then place ahi over high heat until grill marks appear. Turn ahi over and repeat. Do not cook for more than about 45 seconds on each side – you want grill marks on the outside but the ahi to be rare/raw in the middle. Remove to a cutting board and cut across the grain into this slices. Quickly serve while it’s still hot.
2. If preferred, use a very large platter and place salad ingredients in decorative piles, with ahi in the middle. Serve rice on the side. For each serving, place rice and/or salad on bottom of bowl. Arrange each veggie separately around edge of bowl. Place just-off-the-grill sliced Ahi in center. Sprinkle cilantro on top. Drizzle with terriaki and wasabi sauce.
Per Serving: 438 Calories; 9g Fat (26.3% calories from fat); 7g Protein; 50g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 53mg Cholesterol; 115mg Sodium.

Posted in Salads, Veggies/sides, on June 9th, 2018.

olive_bread_salad_chickpeas

A lovely salad with arugula (or kale), olives, shaved fennel, Manchego cheese, radicchio, spiced garbanzo beans, with some toasted olive bread croutons and tossed with a succulent fig balsamic dressing.

It was a month or more ago that this salad was made at a class with Tarla Fallgatter. I was trying to not eat carbs, so I didn’t have any of the olive bread croutons, or any of the chickpeas, but I lapped up everything else and really liked the salad dressing with a hint of sweetness to it. Others in the class were ooohing and aaahing, so I know both the croutons and chickpeas tasted good.

The garbanzo beans (chickpeas) are added to a pan full of garlic and red chili flakes with oil, and you cook them for 6-8 minutes until they blister. Once cooked, you remove all the loose skins. You might think that’s too much work, but it won’t take but a minute of time. The skins come off easily enough.

The vinaigrette is made with fig balsamic (if you don’t have some, you need it in your pantry arsenal), a tetch of raspberry vinegar, some balsamic mustard (another item you need in your refrigerator arsenal) and olive oil. So delicious.

Meanwhile you need some radicchio (or red endive), some thinly sliced fennel, some roasted red and yellow peppers (jarred works here), some tasty Mediterranean olives (pitted and sliced), some shaved Manchego (mmm, me likes Manchego), and the arugula. If you favor kale, use that instead. For whatever reason, sometimes kale doesn’t agree with me. I know it’s good for me, and nearly every market these days has about 4 varieties of kale to choose from. I’ll use arugula instead.Toss it all together and you have a very lovely looking and tasty salad for a summer’s eve.

What’s GOOD: the combo of all the veggies is so perfect – the shreds of Manchego, the olives, the crunch of the toasted croutons, the chickpeas, some fennel and peppers. All delicious, then when you toss it with the figgy vinaigrette, oh, what a combination – serve it with a lovely grilled chicken breast and that’s dinner. I promise you’ll hear raves.

What’s NOT: It takes a little bit of time to put together, more than some salad preparations. Worth it, though.

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Olive Bread Salad with Spicy Chickpeas

Recipe By: Tarla Fallgatter cooking class, 2018
Serving Size: 6

VINAIGRETTE:
3 tablespoons fig balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon raspberry vinegar
2 teaspoons balsamic mustard salt and pepper to taste
6 tablespoons olive oil
SPICY CHICKPEAS:
15 ounces garbanzo beans, canned — rinsed, rubbed to remove outer skin
4 garlic cloves
1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
1/3 cup olive oil salt and pepper to taste
SALAD:
3 cups olive bread — torn into bite-sized pieces
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon spice rub — your choice
2 tablespoons fresh oregano — coarsely chopped
1/4 cup Italian parsley — chopped
1 head radicchio — torn into bite-sized pieces (or use red endive)
1 whole fennel bulb — thinly sliced
2 whole red bell peppers — or yellow, or one of each
1/3 cup olives — Mediterranean type, pitted, sliced
3 ounces Manchego cheese — shaved
2 cups arugula — or baby kale

1. CHICKPEAS: Cook chickpeas (drained, rinsed and blotted with paper towels) with garlic and pepper flakes in oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until garlic is golden brown and chickpeas begin to blister, 6-8 minutes; season with salt and pepper.
2. VINAIGRETTE: Combine ingredients in a lidded jar and shake. Set aside. Shake well before using.
3. SALAD: Preheat oven to 400°F. Toss bread with spice rub of your choice, salt, pepper and oil. Spread out on a large baking sheet and bake/toast, tossing once or twice, until crisp on the outside edges, but still chewy in the center, about 8-10 minutes. Let cool.
4. Place all the salad ingredients in a large serving bowl and toss with vinaigrette to coat. Add chickpeas, then divide among plates to serve.
Per Serving: 468 Calories; 39g Fat (75.4% calories from fat); 5g Protein; 24g Carbohydrate; 6g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 384mg Sodium.

Posted in Salads, on April 21st, 2018.

new_pot_salad_asparagus_gribiche

Or, in this case, fingerling potatoes with arugula, asparagus and a vinaigrette version of gribiche. Altogether delicious.

What is gribiche, you ask? It’s a dressing, but traditionally it’s made with mayo, or a kind of emulsion with cooked egg yolks (a mayo of sorts). It’s unique ingredients include minced hard boiled egg, little slices of cornichons (those French baby pickles – see photo below left), and some capers. Definitely a savory kind of dressing, but here, Tarla Fallgatter made the dressing using EVOO, sherry vinegar and a bit of honey mustard. Definitely a departure from the standard gribiche. It’s French, and no, I’m not certain how it’s pronounced, although I think it’s greh-beech. And oh yes, it was really good with the fingerling potatoes that had been oven-roasted, the asparagus and tossed with arugula. We jokingly tease Tarla that nearly every class needs to contain something with arugula and usually chocolate.

cornichonsThis could be a beautiful side/salad for some kind of grilled meat (chicken, pork chops, even fish or lamb, and definitely for steak) and would cover you for both salad and a carb. Tarla made the dressing ahead of time, had roasted the potatoes and asparagus, so it was easy to finish up the last of things like mincing hard boiled eggs, slicing the cornichons, draining the capers. If you’re interested in learning a bit more about gribiche variations, read Daniela Galarza’s blog post about preparing it in various restaurant kitchens. And her advice that you can make gribiche the main attraction, like an open-faced egg salad sandwich. My mouth is watering just thinking about that. Photo above of cornichons from finecooking.com.

What’s GOOD: there were lots of good flavors melding in my mouth – from the capers, the cornichons and the sweet/savory dressing. As most of you know, I don’t make many potato salads, but this one was a winner. I’d definitely make this for a nice company dinner too.

What’s NOT: nothing other than you do need to roast the potatoes and asparagus, and mince up the eggs. Not too hard, and definitely worth it for the flavor burst in your mouth! I think this dressing would need to be eaten the day you make it – though it might hold for one day.

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New Potato Salad with Asparagus and Gribiche

Recipe By: Tarla Fallgatter, cooking instructor
Serving Size: 6

2 packages fingerling potatoes — roasted, slightly cooled, halved
1 pound asparagus spears — trimmed
2 tablespoons olive oil salt and pepper to taste
1 cup arugula — or watercress
GRIBICHE:
1 tablespoon honey mustard
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
2 large eggs — hard boiled, very finely chopped
1/4 cup Italian parsley — chopped
1 tablespoon cornichons — thinly sliced
1 tablespoon capers — drained, patted dry
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
2. Toss asparagus with olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, and roast until tender, about 10 minutes. Let cool. Cut into small pieces.
3. GRIBICHE: Whisk mustard, vinegar and olive oil together. Stir in minced hard cooked eggs, Italian parsley, cornichons and capers. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Toss potato halves and asparagus with gribiche. Add arugula and toss again. Divide among plates and serve.
Per Serving: 194 Calories; 16g Fat (70.0% calories from fat); 4g Protein; 11g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 71mg Cholesterol; 145mg Sodium.

Posted in Salads, on April 17th, 2018.

spinach_salad_artichoke_hearts_raisins

This is the kind of salad you could make as dinner if you’re inclined to do that. It’s got lots of good stuff in it. You could easily add some chicken if you want some protein.

Usually I’m not a big fan of spinach salad. Spinach served and eaten raw makes my teeth squeak. Anyone else notice that about spinach? But this one didn’t both me much that way – maybe because it was baby spinach? I have no idea why. Maybe because there is sugar in the dressing? Who knows. In any case, this is a really delicious salad, one it’s definitely worth the time to make.

There are a few things that are unique about this – the sweet/sour salad dressing is made with powdered sugar. Why? Tarla Fallgatter told us at the cooking class when she prepared this, that it’s because it dissolves easily. Yes. For sure it would. Did she use that method in other salad dressings? No. And the second thing is the use of grilled artichoke hearts (if you have Trader Joe’s near you, they’re bottled, marinated in the veggie section). And for me, the golden raisins just “made” this salad. This salad is one that Tarla said she’s been making for years, decades maybe, but had never shared at a cooking class before. She doesn’t always use bacon, but she did for the class. I love bacon, so liked that too.

The dressing is mostly normal ingredients, although you don’t usually see ground ginger in a sweetened vinaigrette kind of dressing. I like it a lot. This salad would be great to make to take somewhere, as you could have everything prepped ahead of time, including the dressing, and it’s just a matter of opening up 2 packages of baby spinach, adding it all together and you’ve got salad.

What’s GOOD: loved the dressing. Loved the golden raisins and the artichoke hearts and the crunch of nuts. Everything about this salad was delish.

What’s NOT: Not much . . . I thought this was a super salad.

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Spinach Salad with Artichoke Hearts, Mushrooms and Pecans

Recipe By: Tarla Fallgatter, cooking instructor
Serving Size: 6

DRESSING:
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon dry mustard
3/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
SALAD:
5 sliced thick-sliced bacon
12 ounces baby spinach — (two bags)
1/4 cup golden raisins
2 tablespoons sesame seeds — toasted
6 ounces artichoke hearts — sliced (grilled, if you can find them)
8 ounces fresh mushrooms — thinly sliced
1/4 cup pecans — toasted

1. BACON: Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and roast bacon for approximately 10 minutes, until golden. Remove, drain, cool and crumble.
2. Whisk dressing ingredients together and set aside.
3. Place spinach into a large salad bowl first, then add all the other salad ingredients including the crumbled bacon. Add dressing to coat, tasting as you add (don’t use too much). Serve immediately.
Per Serving: 346 Calories; 28g Fat (69.9% calories from fat); 8g Protein; 20g Carbohydrate; 5g Dietary Fiber; 9mg Cholesterol; 332mg Sodium.

Posted in Salads, Vegetarian, on December 23rd, 2017.

delicata_squash_blue_arugula_salad

The kind of salad you could make as  your dinner – it’s definitely filling enough and satisfying, though it doesn’t have any meat in it!

Do you buy Delicata squash very often? I don’t – although my local Trader Joe’s has them – they do have a season and now’s the time. It has a delicate (hence the name Delicata?) rind (meaning that it’s not tough and thick, like the skin on a butternut squash, which you have to remove). In this case, you get to eat the rind – where a lot of the nutrition lies.

Image result for delicata squash

The squashes are cut into rings and halved then roasted in a hot oven for about 20 minutes. It’s easier to remove the seeds then – after they’ve cooled for 10 minutes or so. Mix up the vinaigrette while you’re baking the squash, and get out the blue cheese.

This recipe came from a cooking class with Tarla Fallgatter, and she had purchased some German blue cheese – called Grand Blue (currently available at Trader Joe’s). This cheese is not the mouth-stinging, deep flavored type, but it’s mild, without any tannins. It’s not of the soft blue style (like Brie) either, as it’s the normal crumbly type, but I liked it a LOT. I can’t eat regular blue straight – it’s just too strong for me, which makes it perfect, to my way of thinking for a salad. I love blue cheese in a salad, though. I’m just not fond of the ultra-strong flavored type unless it’s “cut” with a toasted baguette slice or fruit or something else with it.

When Tarla served it, the squash was still slightly warm. She tossed the arugula salad with the salad dressing, added the dried cranberries and pecans, then plated each salad with 2-3 half-rings of the squash and a lovely wedge of the Grand Blue. If you wanted to take this to a gathering, I’d chop the squash into smaller pieces, as well as the cheese and toss it all together in a large bowl. The only difficulty with that is that some people won’t get a full portion of the squash or the cheese.

What’s GOOD: the mild flavor of the squash was perfect with the arugula salad. Loved the addition of dried cranberries and pecans. I particularly liked the mild blue cheese with it also. Very pretty to look at, would make a lovely holiday salad. It’s also quite filling, so would be (for me, anyway) a perfect dinner all by itself.

What’s NOT: nothing, other than having to roast the squash and mess with removing seeds and strings, etc.

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Delicata Squash Salad with Arugula, Blue Cheese and Pecans

Recipe By: from a cooking class with Tarla Fallgatter
Serving Size: 6

6 ounces arugula — wild, if possible
4 Delicata squash — cut in 1/2″ rings (skin on)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
8 ounces blue cheese — use a soft one like Castel or Grand Blue (use more if your desire)
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup pecans — whole, toasted, or pumpkin seeds
VINAIGRETTE:
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons raspberry vinegar
2 teaspoons honey mustard
6 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. Shake the vinaigrette ingredients together in a jar and set aside.
2. Preheat oven to 400°F. Toss squash rings with olive oil, salt and pepper to taste and roast them until tender, turning once, about 20 minutes. Let cool slightly.
3. Toss arugula with vinaigrette to coat the leaves, add dried cranberries and pecans. Divide the arugula between the plates. Add the roasted delicata squash rings to each serving and place a small wedge of the blue cheese on the side.
Per Serving: 347 Calories; 33g Fat (83.9% calories from fat); 9g Protein; 5g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 28mg Cholesterol; 556mg Sodium.

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