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Cheddar & Apple Salad from the Butcher & the Baker

4 Apr

A couple months ago, Brendan invited me to a dinner at his friends Silka & Jake’s apt. Authors of the blog The Butcher and the Baker, they put out an unbelievable spread. Always using farm fresh ingredients– with gorgeous photos to boot– I have been an admirer of their blog since. On Saturday, I decided to make their Spinach Salad w. Apples and Cheddar… and I have eaten it every day following. This dressing is likely to become a new staple at my place (and Sam’s as well).

Make fun of me if you will for my BK-overuse of mason jars… but it is super convenient to make dressing in, just measure ingredients on the side of the jar– and shake up– instead of bothering with the whole whisking, bowl etc thing. Storage and measure in one fell swoop.


1/2 cup olive oil
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp vinegar – reccomend apple cider vinegar
2 tsp dijon mustard2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 generous handful of raw almonds [i subbed pine nuts & sunflower seeds]
1 tsp bacon fat (or a little butter, if you’d like to keep it vegetarian)
1 1/2 lbs spinach – b&b add that they like regular, but baby would work fine as well [do note though that the regular organic/farm fresh bunch is quite unlike that old dark stuff you buy in big bags. It is lighter, fresher, and less coarse. i used a combo of watercress, spinach & arugula- also shocking how much more peppery and delicious a fresh bunch of arugula is to the boxed stuff]
2/3 cup sharp cheddar cheese, cut or broken into chunks
1 medium apple, cored and thinly sliced [or chopped]- Fujis are great for this!
[optional add-ins: crispy bacon, avocado, radish]

Throw all dressing contents in a jar. Shake and enjoy.

Heat bacon fat or butter in small pan on medium heat. When melted, add nuts [or seeds]. Shake pan to coat– cook for about 5 mins, shaking every min or so. [seed/pine nuts cook a bit faster.] [If you are fresh out of bacon fat– or just feel like adding bacon to your salad as I did. Make bacon, cook until crispy, remove from pan w. slotted spoon onto paper towel. And voila, some tasty fat for your nuts (twss?). Also– if you are feeling super lazy– one day I just threw in the seeds, untoasted- and still good.]
If using almonds, when done, spread on cutting board, let cool for a few mins, coarsely chop.
Mix all salad ingredients in bowl w. some dressing to coat.

Kale Caesar

27 Mar

Kale Caesar is a staple at Sam’s house.  This recipe was first sent to me by Lan— and i love it.  Instead of having egg in the dressing, you push hard boiled egg through a mesh strainer and use as a topping- and it is actually quite gorgeous. You can also- as I have- made pita chip croutons- as inspired by a different salad that I saw on Chuck’s Day Off. But if you are too lazy– and not in the fussy mood- as Sam & E & I were last week– you can quickly throw together just the kale and dressing. Tastes good too if you let the kale sit w. the dressing for a little bit, softens it up.

This recipe found on Epicurious– is originally from Bon Appetit
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
8 anchovy fillets packed in oil, drained
1 garlic clove
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil [last time just use 1/2 cup and worked fine]
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 hard-boiled egg, peeled
14 ounces Tuscan kale or other kale, center stalks removed, thinly sliced crosswise (about 8 cups). Tuscan kale also called lacinato, black kale or dinosaur kale– has long, narrow, bumpy dark green leaves.  [I find the best way to chop… hold leaf and pull out stem. Then stack all leaves in a pile- on top of the other. Then– starting at the top tip– roll it up– so you get a spiral of kale– and cut into thin ribbons— sort of like you would cut cookies from a roll of dough.

Put first 4 ingredients in a blender of food processor– and process until smooth. W. machine running, slowly add oil to make a creamy dressing. Transfer to a bowl and stir in 1/4 cup of parm. Salt & pepper to taste. Cover and chill. Can make dressing 2 days ahead.

If doing the sieved egg. Take hardboiled egg and separate egg white from yolk. Place egg white in a coarse mesh strainer– and push through w. a back of a spoon. Scrape egg white from bottom of strainer. (clean strainer in between- unless you are lazy, like me).  Repeat w. yolk. [to boil an egg, i usually just lower egg into boiling water and cook for 11 mins. take out and put in bowl w. cold water to cool before peeling.]

Toss kale and dressing in a large bowl to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Top with remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan and sieved eggs.

For Pita chip croutons– A Chuck’s Day off method
1 pita pocket
olive oil
salt- sea salt if have. or kosher.
1 clove garlic

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Open pita– and cut around the edges so splits into the two rounds. Rub surface w. clove of garlic, drizzle w. olive oil and salt. Cut each round– into chips- maybe 6 triangles. Bake for 10 mins or until medium brown.
When cool, take in your hand– and crumble over the salad.
Obviously- if you just want to eat pita chips– that works too.

Beet, Sweet Potato and Fried Goat Cheese Salad

31 Jan

This colorful salad takes from many inspirations– the good fork (restaurant in red hook), barefoot contessa, and my friend who had great idea to throw roast sweet potatoes into a salad. The fried goat cheese- obviously the main attraction- is also versatile- and seems very dinner party appropriate. For the purpose of this picture, I wanted to try what I had seen in a magazine- using cookie cutters (or as I did tracing around a mason jar lid w. a knife)- to make a stack (cookie cutters would have been way easier and prettier). But in real life, what I didn’t use of the beets and potato for the picture- I ended up chopping– and adding to arugula one night and for lunch the rest of the week- I mixed it with lentils, kale and wheatberries. Topped w. a disc of fried goat cheese.

If I could add a note about dark greens- Kale, spinach, broccoli rabe, chard- whatever. However you cook them- when you are done- along w. sprinkle of sea salt at the end– squeeze fresh lemon juice over it.  Makes such a difference in bringing out the flavor- it’s almost absurd.

For my salad I used:
3 beets- medium sized
1 sweet potato
half cup lentils- i use the french green- lentils de puy
half cup wheatberries
1 bunch lacinato kale. W. lemon, olive oil, salt and stock- if handy (if not, don’t worry)

Goat cheese:
1 log goat cheese (or less depending on how many disks you want to make- i only made 1/8 of a log- can scale ingredients below down accordingly)
fresh bread crumbs or panko (1 cup) (i used panko)
2 eggs
fresh parsley- if have on hand

olive oil
spring of fresh rosemary
clove of garlic
salt & pepper
lemon zest

Beets. To roast: Preheat oven to 375. Lightly coat in oil and wrap in foil. Put them in a pan– depending on the size they take about 45-min to an hour to cook. When done, you can stick a fork in and then will come back out easily. The monster pain in the ass thing I hate about beets is the peeling. The way I do it– is using paper towels, hold the beets and rub off the outside skin. (if anyone has any other tricks tho- please share!)
Sweet potato- don’t wrap in foil. Can just place on cookie sheet or directly onto rack. Also took about 45 mins. Test done same way.
Wheatberries- Rinse. 1 1/2 cups water to add 1/2 cup wheatberries. Bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer, uncovered cook about 30 mins.
Lentils- Rinse. 1 1/2 cups water to 1/2 cup lentils. Bring to a boil. Lower and simmer, uncovered 15-20 mins.
Kale– rinse thoroughly. Can rip up and take ribs out (not necessary but some prefer). Heat a large pan over medium heat. W. some excess water still on it, throw kale into hot pain. Cover and cook for a few minutes to cook. I have actually found- if you have it handy- a little bit of stock adds much flavor. Keep cooking until soft. When done, drizzle w. a little olive oil, ream a fresh lemon into it, salt and pepper.

Goat cheese. I tried this two ways— w. flour, eggs and panko. And with just panko and eggs. The flour holds their shape a little more- so good for if you were doing some sort of dinner party and had to pick them up w. your hands? But w. just panko and eggs was a bit more delicate– melty and delicious- so I would recommend that.
Contrary to my initial thought- goat cheese is actually easier to cut while very cold– not soft. So pop in the freezer while prepping everything else. Slice goat cheese into thin disks w. sharp knife or unflavored dental floss. If this is giving you trouble, you can always take off a bit–  roll into a ball- and then press w. palms to flatten. My discs were about 2 1/2 inches wide (to match the size of my cookie cutter vegetables) and maybe 1/2  inch thick.
Lay out two flat bowls, one w. egg lightly beaten and the other with panko and chopped fresh parsley, if using.
Heat olive oil in stainless steel skillet until very hot.
Dip goat cheese in egg, letting excess drip off. Then roll around in the panko mixture.
Cook until golden brown– takes only about a minute on each side.

Dressing (which was vaguely inspired by something Reed concocted to dip bread in at an Oscar’s party some time ago.) I used my fancy new mortar and pestle. Combining a good glug of olive oil– and rest of the ingredients in bowl. And give it a few good smashes to combine and awaken the flavors.

Arugula Pesto Salad

23 Aug

I made this for a picnic at the beach. For a fresh light flavor, I decided to go for an arugula pesto instead of traditional basil.  My issue with making pesto- is that it always makes way too much.  To combat this, you can half the recipe below. Or you can freeze the leftovers in ice cube trays and defrost later (I’ve seen Giada do this.)  For the beach I made this with whole wheat spiral pasta. For lunch this week, I made w. wheatberries, which I find more filling and flavorful- cribbing the idea from 101 cookbooks.  Another thing about pasta salad- which I learned from Ina- is that you should add the dressing while the pasta is hot- to absorb the flavors.

This pesto recipe- is based off a Marcella Hazan- I just used arugula instead of basil. Feel free to make w. either. Or try another green. I’ve made kale pesto- seen recipes for cilantro pesto- and have even had celery pesto. The interesting thing about Marcella’s method, is that she adds oil in the beginning– instead of gradually as mixer is running. Then she hand mixes in the cheese. I approve.

*I forgot to read the fine print on this before- but if you are freezing- do so before adding the cheese & butter. Then add those once defrosted.

2 cups arugula tightly packed (use the good stuff, fresh on stems, much more flavor than those lose greens in a box- this was 2 small bunches) or basil
1/2 cup olive oil [i definitely used less- I think 1/3 cup]
3 tablespoons pine nuts
2 cloves garlic, chop before putting in food processor
1/2 cup fresh grated parmesan
3 tablespoons fresh grated romano [i didn’t have any, so left out]
3 tablespoons softened butter [I probably used 1 tablespoon]
[I added fresh lemon juice- probably half a lemon]

Put arugula, olive oil, pine nuts in a food processor. Mix briefly until a consistent consistency. Put in bowl. Fold in cheese. Add salt & pepper to taste. Mix in butter. Squeeze w. fresh lemon juice.

1 cup wheatberries
3 cups water
heirloom cherry tomatoes, halved*
pepper (i used a “yellowish” one- it was actually labeled that way at co-op which i thought was pretty funny)
fresh mozzarella- i like the mini balls (twss), bocconcini

To make wheatberries.  Boil 3 cups salted water. Add wheatberries. Simmer uncovered. I had before posted 45 mins- but this was done in maybe 30 mins. So I’d say start checking at 25 mins. Wheatberries get al dente and chewy. Just try it.  Drain wheatberries- while hot- add a few heaping spoons of pesto. Mix up. Add chopped tomatoes, peppers, olives. When cooled a bit, add cheese. Squeeze w. fresh lemon juice. Additional salt & pepper to taste.

*Cooking channel viewers (different from Food Network) know-  Chuck, of the show Chuck’s Day Off– from Montreal, very easy on the eyes. Anyway… he has a trick for cutting cherry tomatoes. It wasn’t as easy as it looked on TV- but with some practice, it could be. Take one plate, turn it upside down, place on counter. Spread the tomatoes on top (helps if the plates have that little rim underneath). Put another plate, right side up, on top of the tomatoes. Hold top plate down– take a serrated knife- and go right through all the tomatoes.

Summer Salads

11 Aug

Featuring fresh summer ingredients with minimal cooking. Love this zucchini ribbon salad- very light and refreshing. Paired w. goat cheese- delicious. There is an abundance of zucchini in the summer and i’ll tell you that the flavor in your dish- is largely dependent on quality of your zucchini- so pick out a good one, medium size and firm is your best. And the joy of summer corn. I love fresh corn, off the cob, quickly sauteed.

Raw Zucchini Ribbon Salad
2 medium zucchini
1 Lemon
Fresh basil, a handful
Parmesan & goat cheese
Olive oil

Shave zucchini into ribbons w. vegetable peeler. Drizzle w. olive oil and juice of lemon. Chop a handful of basil. Sprinkle w. sea salt & pepper. Mix up. Top w. cheese.

Corn Basil Salad– from Bon Appetit
6 husks of corn
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
1/2 cup (packed) basil
5 plum tomatoes (seeded- taking out middle oozy part- this makes the salad less watery)
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Husk the corn. Take a serrated knife and cut raw kernels off over a big bowl. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in skillet over medium high heat.  Add garlic, saute 1 minute. Add corn and cook another 5 minutes. Take off heat, add half the basil.Transfer back to big bowl, cooling slightly. Add rest of tomatoes, basil, vinegar and rest of basil. Season w. salt & pepper.

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