Monthly Archives: April 2009

spinach strawberry salad with goat cheese and walnuts(total yumsville)


many moons ago i was part owner of a small coffee shop. i was in charge of the culinary, rather than the financial, side of the business and that’s the way i liked it. during the spring, when the stars and planets aligned to allow spinach and strawberries to cross paths at the same time, we offered this salad. it was such a hit that we would sell out every time we had it and our customers would still request it when the season was over. what they didn’t realize, however, was that the reason it was so perfect was because the produce was at it’s peak. if we served it at any other time they would have been sorely disappointed. it is a coveted pleasure that is available only for a short time.




i have seen salads like this available at family friendly chain restaurants, usually saturated in some sort of ‘fruit flavored’ vinaigrette dressing. i find that serving this with a fruity dressing can render it rather sweet and cloying. a dressing with just a touch of sweetness allows the fruit flavor to really shine. try this one:


get your oil and vinegars ready-i used walnut oil, balsamic and red wine vinegars.


start in a generous bowl and add your vinegars, one at a time. the balsamic is for sweetness, while the red wine vinegar gives that tangy, tart flavor.


add the ever important salt.

strawberry-salad-vinaigrette-add-pepperand LOTS of freshly ground black pepper. maybe more than you think. just give it a taste. black pepper goes surprisingly well with strawberries.


whisk in your oil slowly (or put all your ingredients in a jar and shake it-same diff.)


i like to dress the greens with the vinaigrette, then pile the other stuff on top. it makes for a prettier presentation, whether in a large bowl to show off at a potluck or on individual plates to show off at your next dinner party. enjoy this with a nice glass of dry rose from this place or somewhere else.

spinach strawberry salad (serves 4)

6-8 cups fresh baby spinach

8 fresh strawberrries (about 2 berries per salad), hulled and sliced

4 ounces fresh goat cheese

several slices purple onion, sliced VERY thin (as not to over power the salad)

a few handfuls of walnuts, toasted

balsamic vinaigrette-adapted from ruhlman’s vinaigrette ratio

1 tbsp balsamic vinaigrette

1 tbsp red wine vinegar

salt & LOTS of freshly ground black pepper

6 tbsp walnut oil

stir the vinegars together in a bowl. add salt & pepper. whisk in the oil slowly. pour over the spinach and toss. place in serving bowl or individual plates. place strawberries, goat  cheese, sliced onion, and walnuts on top.



Filed under salad, Uncategorized

hot carrots!


if you’re anything like us, if it’s pickled, it’s better.  i’ve had this recipe bookmarked for a few years when my friend (and fabulous hairstylist) stacie was remarking that you just can’t get ‘hot carrots’ here in texas, like we had back in california where we grew up. i had almost completely forgotten about these beautifully tangy and mildy picante carrots found on the table of virtually every mexican restaurant in southern california. ninfa’s here in texas used to have them, then removed them for so-called ‘health department’ rules…oh, well. once you try them, you will find any excuse to pair them with whatever you are eating–they are super addictive.



hot carrots (makes about 8-10 half pint ball jars)

12-14 large carrots, peeled and sliced 1/4″ on the bias (see picture)

6 fresh  jalapenos, sliced thinly lengthwise

2 onions, cut in half lengthwise, then sliced thinly

5-10 whole garlic cloves, peeled

4-5 bay leaves

about a tbsp of whole black peppercorns

2 cups regular ol’ white distilled vinegar

4 cups water

1 tsp dried oregano


put all ingredients except oregano in a non-reactive pot and bring to a boil. make sure you have enough liquid to cover the vegetables, adding more water & vinegar in the same 2:1 ratio if necessary. simmer on medium high for a few minutes until carrots are crisp tender, about 5 minutes (a bit less done than you would normally like to eat them because as they sit off the heat, they will cook a smidge more). remove from heat and add oregano. cover with a lid and allow to sit off the heat until cool. put in jars, covered with the vinegar broth and give them away. or put ’em all in a big bowl and cover tightly if you’re selfish and want to keep them all to yourself (stacie!). you really don’t need to sterilize the jars if you keep them refrigerated–they’ll keep for about a thousand years this way. and they’ll get spicier as they become further infused by the peppers.


these are great on tortilla chips or crackers while you’re waiting for someone to cook you up some homemade enchiladas. or put ’em on some black or borracho beans. or sit at the counter and eat ’em straight outta the jar-you know who you are.


Filed under appetizer, mexican, side dish

california dreamin’


here are just a few highlights from the california trip–we drove route 1 (pacific coast highway) from LA to sonoma:


we are slightly obsessed with these–not sure why. they are enormous and strangely beautiful. you’ll find a lot of them in west texas as well. the day we arrived there were 45-50+ mile an hour wind gusts. these were a-spinnin’.


my brother got married at joshua tree. it holds familial sentimentality for us–we went camping there as kids a bunch. here are some shots of the flora. my poor husband. i made him stop every 100 feet so i could take pictures of flowers and cacti and trees, oh my!





no comment.


cali-jt-weddingthis is the ‘minister’ and my cute brother waiting for his beautiful bride to appear. that’s a joshua tree directly between and behind them. if you look closely, you can see the mountains and just look at that sky–my word!


houston proudly showed off to his new in-laws how he could ‘MacGyver’ open a beer with the bedside lamp. (yes, i had to look up how to spell MacGyver).


the drive starts up the coast. does anyone know what to call these crazy pines? i LOVED them.


this is entering the big sur area–just gorgeous.



no worries-these elephant seals are ok–it’s just spawning season.


recognize this landmark? and no fog! 



we took in a game with family & friends.





we ate cheese.





we drank wine.


we did good.


Filed under Uncategorized