Monthly Archives: April 2009

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

strawberry-salad-complete-no-dressing

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.

a-strawberry-truck

a-strawberry

starwberry-salad-sliced-straw

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:

strawberry-salad-oils-and-vinegars

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

strawberry-salad-vinegar-added

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.

strawberry-salad-vinaigrette-add-salt1

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.

strawberry-salad-whisking-oil

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

strawberry-salad-vinaigrette-in-bowl-with-whisk1

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.

strawberry-salad-vinaigrette-in-jar


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hot carrots!

hot-carrots-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-peppers

hot-carrots-pepper-garlic-bay-leaves

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.

hot-carrots-in-jars-2

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.

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california dreamin’

cali-coastline-1

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

cali-turbo-fans

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’.

cali-jt-tree

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!

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cali-jt-flora-2

cali-succulents

cali-htown-silly-on-rocks

no comment.

cali-jt-mountains

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!

cali-houston-lamp-beer-opener

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).

cali-coastline-21

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

cali-coastline-3

this is entering the big sur area–just gorgeous.

cali-coastline-4

cali-sleeping-seals

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

cali-gg-bridge

recognize this landmark? and no fog! 

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cali-giants-game

we took in a game with family & friends.

cali-cowgirl-creamery-sign

cali-creamery-11

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we ate cheese.

cali-grape-vine-just-budding

cali-vineyards

cali-quivira-12

cali-quivira-2

we drank wine.

cali-last-photo

we did good.

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lemony egg salad with dill

egg-salad-deconstructed

just returned from our whirlwind tour of california. lots of wine, local brews and fabulous food to earn ourselves 12 hours of sleep last night! but for now, let’s talk eggs. now that the easter season is coming to a close, you might be wondering, ‘what am i going to do with all these #*%$*# eggs??’.  and you also may be one of those that despise egg salad. like a certain, ahem, someone i live with (more for me!!). many folks are turned off by the mayonnaise aspect of it, i suppose. i use very little, substituting plain yogurt for the majority of it. you could leave out the mayo completely, if you wish, but it will be very tangy. i really have always loved egg salad, but over the years i have developed the one i love the most. i believe it to be the perfect springtime lunch.  it is inspired by one of my favorite soups, avgolemono (it is of greek origin–breaking down the word it means egg+lemon). i add a touch of freshness with the dill. we have to use up dill this time of year in texas or it will bolt. right now the weather is perfect, in a few weeks it will be hotter ‘n hades.

dill-fresh

egg-salad-sandwich

lemony egg salad with dill

perfect hard boiled eggs, peeled and coarsely chopped

3 tbsp plain low-fat yogurt

2 tbsp real mayonnaise

2 tsp grainy dijon mustard

1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

2 tbsp chopped fresh dill (don’t bother with the dried stuff, use another fresh herb)

2 scallions, chopped fine (if you cut them on the bias, they look so pretty and delicate!)

salt and pepper to taste

a few handfuls of baby spinach or butter lettuce

8 slices whole grain or light wheat bread, toasted if you prefer

 

prepare and chop your eggs and set them aside in a large bowl. mix together dressing ingredients-yogurt through scallions. add to eggs and mix gently–you don’t want to pulverize your eggs and make them unrecognizable. add salt and pepper and taste the darn thing. i love a good lemony flavor, so i ended up adding a bit more juice and a few grates of fresh lemon zest. if you make this 4-24 hours before you serve it, you will be rewarded with the marriage of flavors. be sure to allow it to sit at least 10-20 minutes out of the fridge before serving, otherwise it will be too chilly to have any flavor at all! spread on your favorite bread or toast and add spinach or lettuce. also would be good with a few very thinly sliced cucumber slices.

makes 4 sandwiches.

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goin’ back to cali…!

joshua-tree

busy making new food memories in my home state…be back soon!

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