Archive for the ‘Salads and Dressings’ Category

The Food of Love

Sunday, July 24th, 2016

Love-Walked-Inweb

My most recent television appearance was devoted to encouraging viewers to come to my concert this coming Saturday. Alice Parker and I (known near and far—mostly near—as the Divas of Hawley, Massachusetts) will star in LOVE WALKED IN, an evening of classic love songs by such songwriters as the Gershwins, Cole Porter, Burt Bacharach, and Alice herself.

If you’re in Western Massachusetts this weekend, I urge you to join us on July 30 at 7:30 p.m. at the Federated Church on Route 2 in Charlemont. Donations at the door will go to the Rose Anna Dixwell Fund, which helps fund music lessons for local children.

I firmly believe that all children—and all adults, for that matter!—should make music whenever possible so I’m proud to be associated with this endeavor.

The evening will be fun, with lots of hamming it up from the resident soprano and lots of singing along. Cabot Cheese has donated nibbles for the after-concert reception, and bakers are standing by to brave the heat and make cookies, so our program should be delicious literally as well as figuratively.

To highlight the concert’s romantic theme on Mass Appeal, I prepared my idea of a romantic meal. Everyone’s ideal romantic meal is different. This one was loosely based on a meal I enjoyed when I was 19 at la Maison de Van Gogh in Auvers-sur-Oise, France.

Van Gogh's Bedroom

Van Gogh’s Bedroom

My companions and I toured the tiny room in which Van Gogh spent his last months. We then dined downstairs in a lovely, convenient restaurant. I ordered a small steak (really, the French know how to cook steak to perfection) with a delectable salad. To complete the meal the waiter brought an ENORMOUS bowl of chocolate mousse to our table. I was in food heaven.

The company—my honorary godmother Dagny Johnson and her nephew Eric—was pretty wonderful, too. If Van Gogh had been able to enjoy such food and such company, he would probably never have committed suicide.

I couldn’t replicate the steak or salad exactly; I’m not French. So instead for my romantic meal I made my favorite flank steak, which I have described before on this blog, and a fresh salad with my neighbor Gam’s herbed buttermilk dressing. Gam’s recipe calls for dried herbs, but since I had fresh ones I used those instead. The dressing turned a fascinating shade of green.

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I did have a French recipe for chocolate mousse, thanks to my mother’s cordon-bleu studies. So the mousse was authentic.

I didn’t have QUITE enough time to beat the egg whites for the mousse on the air—live TV presents unique challenges—but I brought along some mousse to serve and share with everyone at the studio.

It went fast!

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Seth comforted me following the egg-white debacle.

Gam’s Herbed Buttermilk Dressing

Ingredients:

2 teaspoons finely chopped parsley (or more!)
1/2 teaspoon dried chives or lots of fresh
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano or lots of fresh
1/4 teaspoon dried basil or lots of fresh
1/4 teaspoon dried tarragon or lots of fresh
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon lemon juice (plus more if you like)
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup mayonnaise

Instructions:

Combine all ingredients in the order indicated and mix well. Store in the refrigerator, and re-shake before using. Makes a little over 2 cups of dressing.

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Taffy’s Cordon Bleu Chocolate Mousse

Ingredients:

6 ounces good-quality semisweet chocolate
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) sweet butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
5 tablespoons coffee, divided (you may use water instead or use a bit of each)
4 eggs at room temperature, separated
1/2 cup superfine sugar, divided (if you don’t have superfine sugar and don’t want to buy it, whirl regular sugar around in a food processor for a bit; that will do just fine.)
1 pinch salt

Instructions:

In the top of a double boiler (or in a heatproof bowl over warm water) combine the chocolate, the butter, the vanilla, and 2 tablespoons of coffee. Cook the mixture over hot water, stirring, until the chocolate melts. Remove the pan from the top of the hot water, and set it aside to cool.

In another heatproof bowl combine the egg yolks, 3 tablespoons of coffee, and 1/4 cup of the sugar. Place them over the hot water and cook, whisking vigorously, until the mixture becomes uniformly frothy and lighter in color.

Remove the yolk mixture from the top of the hot water, and whisk it for another minute or so. Whisk in the chocolate mixture. Allow the resulting concoction to cool for a few minutes so that it is lukewarm to the touch. (You may begin beating the egg whites while the chocolate/yolk mixture is cooling.)

Combine the egg whites and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat them until the egg whites are foamy. Sprinkle on the remaining sugar and beat the egg whites and sugar until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the whites into the chocolate mixture. (It helps to add a little bit of them at first, then the rest.)

Spoon the mousse into a serving bowl or bowls. Cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight; then serve with a little whipped cream. Serves 8.

And now the videos……

Apples Everywhere!

Monday, September 28th, 2015

apple treeweb

My neighborhood is awash in apples. No one can recall having seen an apple season like this one. (Last year we had practically NO apples!) Even my own old, pathetic apple trees have produced copious amounts of fruit.

The apples ripened early, and I have to admit that it took me a while to get around to doing anything with them. I like to eat (and cook with) apples when the weather gets cool—and so far it has remained remarkably warm.

A couple of weeks ago, however, I decided that if I didn’t use some of the fruit soon the birds and squirrels would get it all.

Of course, I have made applesauce, a staple of my fall kitchen. For my most recent television appearance on Mass Appeal I prepared a couple of additional recipes I have been longing to test.

The first was a coleslaw from my friend Chef Michael Collins. Michael is cooking up a storm at his new restaurant, a tiny, colorful place in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts, called Ponte because of its proximity to the lovely Bridge of Flowers.

Michael couldn’t come with me to the TV station that day, but he gave me permission to use his recipe, which perfectly blended sweet and tart. Here I share both that recipe and my cooking video.

Enjoy apple season—and please comment below if you have found a fun new way to cook with apples. We still have a LOT of them in my neighborhood.

Michael Collins (left) with his partner Tony Palumbo at Ponte

Michael Collins (left) with his partner Tony Palumbo at Ponte

Michael’s Apple Slaw

Ingredients:

4 cups shredded cabbage (try for a fairly rough cut)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 large apple, unpeeled (any red apple), diced into chunks (if you really love apples, put in 2 of them!)
1/2 cup chopped or halved pecans (or peanuts or walnuts—whatever you have in the house), plain, toasted, or roasted
1/2 cup raisins or dried cranberries
1/2 cup mayonnaise or light mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon agave nectar or honey (I like the honey)
1 tablespoon apple-cider vinegar
1 tablespoon milk (optional; I didn’t need it)

Instructions:

A couple of hours before you want to assemble the coleslaw, place the cabbage in a colander. Toss in a tablespoon of kosher salt, and leave the mixture to drain for at least an hour, maybe 2.

Soak the cabbage in cold water to remove the salt, and drain it thoroughly.

Toss together the cabbage, the apple pieces, the nuts, and the raisins or dried cranberries.

In a bowl combine the other ingredients. Pour the resulting dressing over the cabbage/apple mixture and mix thoroughly.

Refrigerate for 1/2 hour before eating. Eat within a day to keep the apple pieces crisp. Michael likes to serve this salad on a cabbage leaf.

Serves 6.

[youtube width=”420″ height=”315″]https://youtu.be/5QFsIc66WfA[/youtube]

Thanksgiving Harvest Salad

Monday, November 17th, 2014

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I love the idea of Thanksgiving: setting aside a day for giving thanks, sharing with those in need, and getting together with loved ones—and of course cooking and talking and eating and laughing together.

I’m not always absolutely thrilled by Thanksgiving dinner in practice, however. By the time one consumes a portion of each menu item at most harvest tables, one starts to feel awfully full.

My solution to this quandary is to try to include a green salad in the day’s offerings. One can eat a lot of salad and eat only a little of everything else.

I made the salad below with pecan oil graciously sent to me by La Tourangelle. If you have guests at your table with nut allergies, you may of course use extra-virgin olive oil, but otherwise I think the nut flavor suits this quintessential American holiday.

Feel free to add your own favorite ingredients. When my sister-in-law Leigh and I made this salad last year to take to Thanksgiving dinner at our cousins’ home, we served sweet-potato chips on the side. People threw them into their salad at the last minute to add crunch.

If you’d like to see me make the salad, watch the clip at the bottom of the recipe in which Ashley Kohl and I assemble the salad—after we pop some cranberry-apple crisp into the oven.

Happy Turkey Day (or as I like to call it, Salad Day!) to all……

girlsweb

The Salad

Ingredients:

for the dressing:

4 tablespoons cider vinegar
4 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon water
1 teaspoon salt
ground pepper to taste
10 tablespoons walnut or pecan oil

for the salad:

1/2 pound uncooked spinach leaves (more if you like)
1/2 cup walnut or pecan halves (more if you like)
1 apple (your choice, cored and sliced but not peeled)
1/2 small red onion, chopped into rings or pieces
1/2 cup crumbled feta or blue cheese (more if you like; omit for a lighter salad)
3 strips cooked bacon, crumbled (optional)
1/4 cup dried cranberries (more if you like)

Instructions:

First, make the dressing. In a 2-cup mason jar combine the vinegar, maple syrup, mustard, garlic, water, salt and pepper. Shake well. Slowly whisk in the oil.

Wash the spinach thoroughly and dry it.

Place the nuts in a small frying pan, and toast them over low heat for a few minutes, stirring constantly, to release their oils. Take the pan off the heat.

Just before you are ready to eat, slice the apple. In a salad bowl combine the salad ingredients.

Shake the dressing, and pour about a quarter of it onto the salad. Toss the salad well but carefully. Serves 6.

(You will have enough dressing for several salads. Refrigerate the dressing between uses, and make sure to bring it to room temperature and shake it well before you re-use it.)

Here’s the video. (You’ll note that the recipe for cranberry apple crisp appears first!)

Iron-Rich Foods

Thursday, July 10th, 2014
The clams in these fritters are high in iron.

The clams, egg, and, parsley in these fritters are high in iron.

Yesterday I visited my friends at the television program Mass Appeal. We were originally scheduled to make simple appetizers and an even simpler dessert.

The producers decided to devote the entire episode to the worthy cause of donating blood, however, and asked me whether I would change the menu to feature foods with a lot of iron.

Here’s what I know about iron in food. (I started to tell this story on the air but got distracted; I’m still learning how to work on TV!)

My great-grandfather died of pernicious anemia in 1917 at the age of 56. He was a physician—but in 1917 even physicians didn’t know that iron could help with anemia.

His granddaughter, my mother, was understandably worried about anemia. When my brother and I were growing up, our mother served us liver on a fairly regular basis in order to make sure we had enough iron in our diets.

It was NOT my favorite food, and my mother learned to watch me carefully as I ate it to make sure I didn’t surreptitiously feed most of my portion to the dog.

As I grew older, I realized (and quickly informed my mother) that the liver was unnecessary. As this chart from the Red Cross illustrates, any number of foods—most of them tastier than liver, in my opinion—contain that mineral.

So of course I told the producers at Mass Appeal that I would be delighted to whip up a little iron.

We began by making clam fritters and spinach salad. Here is the video.

[youtube width=”560″ height=”315″]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZPR7kcEHAdA[/youtube]

And here are the recipes. The fritter recipe is (slightly) adapted from Narragansett Beer; the company kindly provided me with this formula for an upcoming book!

Next, we made Kate’s Fantastic Ginger Snaps from my Pudding Hollow Cookbook. The Kate in the recipe is Kate Stevens of Charlemont, Massachusetts, who generously shared her recipe with me.

These cookies get iron from both molasses and ginger—and I have never served them to anyone who has not fallen in love with them.

Here’s the video.

[youtube width=”560″ height=”315″]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yOSmi_AXg64[/youtube]

And here is the recipe.

I’ll be back on Mass Appeal in a couple of weeks playing with zucchini. In the meantime, I hope my readers will make sure to eat foods with lots of iron—and of course to donate blood.

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Warm Beet Salad

Monday, April 7th, 2014

beet saladweb

I know beets haven’t arrived in farm stands yet—but I’m looking forward to them! Here is a very fattening but a very fun, delectable, and showy way to use this colorful vegetable.

The recipe comes from my dear friend Michael Collins, the chef at the now closed Green Emporium in Colrain, Massachusetts. Michael and his partner Tony Palumbo are hoping to open a new Mexican restaurant, Mi Vida Loca, in nearby Shelburne Falls soon. I can’t wait to eat there—and I’m hoping the new eatery will have room for a piano so I can perform!

If you have high-speed internet, you can watch Michael prepare the beets with a little help from me by clicking “play” on the video below the recipe.

Just in case you can’t watch videos (I can’t at home in Massachusetts!), I have provided the recipe.

beetsweb

Ingredients:

3 small beets
a small handful of pine nuts
a small, flat bowl lined with all-purpose flower
1 egg
panko bread crumbs as needed
olive oil as needed for light frying
a bed of red-leaf lettuce
a few tablespoons fresh, soft goat cheese
the juice of 1/2 lemon
freshly ground pepper
fresh chives to taste

Instructions:

Quickly wash the beets and immerse them in boiling, salted water. Return the water to a boil, turn it down, and simmer the beets until they are fork tender (about 40 minutes). Drain the beets, rinse them in cold water, and quickly remove their skins and ends. If you wish, you may do this first step early in the day and finish preparing the salad just before you want to serve it.

When you are almost ready to serve the salad, toast the pine nuts in a small iron skillet until they start to smell lovely and begin to brown. Remove them from the pan and set them aside.

Place the flour in one bowl, the egg in a second bowl, and the panko crumbs in a third bowl. Add a small amount of water to the egg, and whisk the egg and water together.

Slice each beet into four slices. Dip the beet pieces first in the flour, then in the egg mixture, and finally in the crumbs.

Pour oil into a 10-inch skillet (enough to cover the bottom). Heat the oil over medium heat. When it is hot, add the breaded pieces of beet and cook them quickly until they are golden brown, turning once. (This will take less than 5 minutes.)

Place the lettuce on a plate, and arrange the fried beet pieces on top. Top each beet with a small amount of cheese; then squeeze lemon juice over all. Sprinkle pepper and freshly cut chives on top of the salad.

Serves 2 elegantly.