Les Petits Farcis - Pork Stuffed Summer Vegetables

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Les Petits Farcis - Serves 6

The food traditions of different cultures is a passion of mine. Where the traditions came from, why they were made and what are the flavors. Taking guests on Culinary trips to Julia Child’s once summer home means immersing everyone in the traditional cuisine of Nice Nicoise cuisine. The iconic dish Les Petits Farcis does just that. or requires And to squeeze in the last bit of summer, try my Petits Farcis. This dish is the signature dish of Nice, France using petite summer vegetables that are stuffed and baked. It's not a quick dish to prepare; I'd call it a "Sunday dish". They leftovers are are easy to reheat during the week.

Tomato Sauce:

  • 2 ½ Tbsp olive oil

  • 2 white onions, chopped

  • 2 lb tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped

  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

  • 2 orange zest strip, about 1 inch wide

  • Sea salt to taste

  • Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)

  • 2 Tbsp chopped Italian parsley (optional)

  • A bouquet garni - a bay leaf, sprigs of thyme, and parsley stems tied with string

The Stuffed Vegetables:

  • 12 small vegetables such as tomatoes, pattypan or globe squash, each about 2-3 inches in diameter or medium zucchini, cut into 3 to 4-inch logs, 

  • 2 white onions (as part of your twelve vegetables) peeled, stems and about ½ inch of the flower end  removed 

  • Salt to taste

  • olive oil

  • 1 large white onion, finely chopped

  • ¾ lb ground pork, lamb, or veal or spicy bulk sausage

  • 1 tsp dried herbes de Provence

  • ¼ cup minced parsley

  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

  • 1½ cups fresh breadcrumbs

  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

  • 1 large egg lightly beaten

  • 1 cup hot water

For the sauce:

  1. In a large, heavy frying pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onions, cover, and sweat until soft. Remove the lid and sauté for about 10 minutes. Do not allow to color.  

  2. Add the tomatoes and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until they have rendered their juice, about 15 minutes being careful not to scorch the bottom.  

  3. Add the garlic, bouquet garni, and orange zest and season with salt. Stir once, reduce the heat to low, and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally until the liquid is reduced by about one-third, 15 - 20 minutes. Add a splash of water or white wine if needed. Discard the bouquet garni and zest and season with salt. If desired, add the cayenne and stir in the basil or parsley, if using,

For the Vegetables:

  1. While the tomato sauce is simmering, cut a thin slice off the stem end of each stuffing tomato.  Using a teaspoon, scoop out the center, discarding the seeds and juice and reserving the flesh. Lightly salt the inside of each tomato, then place upside down on a paper towel to drain.  

  2. Using a melon baller, trim off the stems of the globe or pattypan squash and hollow the center leaving a ¼ to ⅓ inch shell. Reserve the vegetable pieces. 

  3. Trim the ends of the zucchini. Slice each zucchini crosswise into 4 equal lengths.  One at a time, stand the pieces upright on an end. Using a melon baller, scoop out their centers, leaving the bottom intact and forming walls about ⅜ inch thick.  Be careful not to cut through the walls. Reserve the flesh.

  4. Fill a large saucepan three-fourths full with salted water and bring to a boil. Add the two onions and simmer until the outer 3 or 4 layers are cooked while the center is still firm. Remove and set aside to cool.

  5.  Slip the squash pieces into the boiling water and simmer, uncovered, until just softened, about 4 minutes. Remove the vegetable pieces and place them upside down to drain and cool.

  6. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Oil a baking dish large enough to hold the vegetables in a single layer without touching.

  7. Carefully hollow out the onions saving the outer, larger layers for stuffing. Finely chop the remaining onion with the reserved vegetable bits.

  8. In a sauté pan, heat 2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the chopped vegetables and minced garlic and sauté stirring and tossing, until softened, about 15 minutes.  

  9. Transfer the mixture to a plate and allow to cool. Once cool, place in a bowl with the sausage meat, herbes de Provence, parsley, fresh bread crumbs, and ¼ cup of the Parmesan cheese and stir to mix well.  Add the egg and drizzle in about 2 Tbsp of olive oil. Using your hands, mix together gently. Sauté one small patty to taste and adjust seasoning.

  10. Arrange the tomato and zucchini shells in the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the cavity of each with a little salt and drizzle with some of the remaining olive oil.  Using a teaspoon, distribute the stuffing evenly among the vegetables, pressing gently with the back of the spoon. Pour the hot water into the bottom of the dish.

  11. Bake the stuffed vegetables for 15 minutes then drizzle the top of the vegetables and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Continue to cook until the stuffing is golden brown, about another 15 minutes.  

  12. Warm the sauce over low heat.  Spoon some of the sauce on each plate.  Arrange the vegetables on top and serve sprinkles with reserved parsley. 

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Sweet Potato Tacos with Blue Corn Tortillas

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Braised sweet potatoes make a fantastic taco filling. Use the filling on it’s own or as a, accompaniment to chicken, pork or beef tacos. Serve these tacos with the accompaniments below and homemade tortillas which are worth the effort! The flavor is sweet and “corny” and delicious!

Serves 4 to 6

  • 2 Tbls. olive oil

  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced

  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

  • 2 tsp. cumin

  • 2 tsp. sweet or smoked paprika

  • 1 tsp. ancho chili powder

  • 3 lbs. sweet potatoes or butternut squash, peeled and cut in 1/2-inch pieces

  • 1 12oz. bottle beer (such as a lager or Modelo Negra)

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

 Pickled Radishes

  • 1  jalapeño (thinly sliced)

  • 1 1/2 cups radishes, thinly sliced (one large bunch)

  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

  • 3 whole black peppercorns

  • 1 cup white wine vinegar

  • 3/4 cup water

  • 1 Tbls. sugar

  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt

To serve:

Corn tortillas, pickled radishes, shredded cabbage, guacamole, salsa verde, crema, cilantro and hot sauce …

The Pickled Radishes

  1. In a saucepan add white wine vinegar, water, sugar, and salt and bring to a boil. Simmer and stir to dissolve the sugar, about 5 minutes.

  2. Place jalapeños, radishes, garlic and peppercorns in a large wide-mouthed mason jar.

  3. Pour the hot liquid into the to the mason jar to cover the jalapeños and radishes. Cool then seal the jar. Store in the refrigerator for six hours or overnight.

The Sweet Potatoes

  1. In a heavy-bottomed pan or Dutch oven add 2 tablespoons olive oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté, until onion is slightly softened, about 3-4 minutes.

  2. Add the cumin, paprika and ancho chili powder and mix to combine.

  3. Add the sweet potatoes and cook until slightly browned, about 5 minutes.

  4. Add about three fourths of the beer and gently boil sweet potatoes uncovered, stirring occasionally until beer reduces.

  5. Add more beer if needed and simmer, covered for a total of 10-15 minutes or until just tender and not mushy.

Adapted from a recipe by Mario Batali.

Tortillas

Homemade tortillas are so tasty! They are worth the effort and fun to make. If you’re hosting a crowd, set up a tortilla station and let guests make them for you. If you’ve got kids, get them in the kitchen and have them make the tortillas. The picture above is tacos and tortillas made by my summer camp kids.

Makes about 10 tortillas

  • 1 1/2 cups masa harina - not cornmeal or corn flour. Blue corn masa carina can be found at Mexican grocery stores including Chavez Market

  • 1/4 tsp. each salt and ground cumin

  • 1 tsp. Aleppo pepper (optional)

  • 2 Tbls. olive oil or good quality vegetable oil

  • 1 gallon size plastic bag cut around the edges to create 2 plastic sheets

  • A tortilla press

  1. Combine the masa harina, salt, cumin, and Aleppo pepper in a bowl. Stir in the oil and then slowly stream in 1 cup of hot water until a dough forms. Knead until all is incorporated and smooth.

  2. Wrap in plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

  3. Heat a dry cast iron pan, grilled or heavy bottomed pan.

  4. Take small pinches of dough, about the size of a ping pong ball and roll into a ball then pat the ball into a disk. You can also roll the dough into a log and wrap with plastic for 30 minutes and then slice the log into rounds.

  5. Place one plastic sheet on your press, add the disk of dough and then the second sheet. This will keep the tortilla from sticking. Press the dough to create a thin tortilla.

  6. Carefully place tortillas on the hot pan. Fry for about 1 minute (or less) on each side until the dough is cooked and the tortilla is blistered.

  7. Place in a tortilla warmer or on a plate and cover with a towel that has been lightly sprinkled with water.

Brine-Roasted Chicken

Brining a chicken and other meats has many advantages, fantastic flavor and juicy results being the most important.  See below for the scientific stuff. Essentially, because some of the brine is absorbed into the meat, the flavors of the brine go with it and create a tender meal with flavor in every bite.  Chicken with the bone in, including a whole chicken or pieces can be started up to twenty-four hours ahead. Boneless cuts and smaller cuts of pork, like chops, are best brined for eight hours or less.  I like to buy  Mary’s Chicken  with the head and feet attached. I cut them off (you can have the butcher do this) as well as remove the spine creating a “spatchcock” chicken like the one in the picture.  I roast these parts with the rest of the bird and when they are cooked and cooled, I freeze them with my collection of bones for stock. They add a caramel flavor and color to the stock. Delicious!  All that needs to be done for dinner is putting the chicken in the oven on a bed of vegetables and perhaps cooking a starch of some sort. It’s that simple!

Brining a chicken and other meats has many advantages, fantastic flavor and juicy results being the most important.

See below for the scientific stuff. Essentially, because some of the brine is absorbed into the meat, the flavors of the brine go with it and create a tender meal with flavor in every bite.

Chicken with the bone in, including a whole chicken or pieces can be started up to twenty-four hours ahead. Boneless cuts and smaller cuts of pork, like chops, are best brined for eight hours or less.

I like to buy Mary’s Chicken with the head and feet attached. I cut them off (you can have the butcher do this) as well as remove the spine creating a “spatchcock” chicken like the one in the picture.

I roast these parts with the rest of the bird and when they are cooked and cooled, I freeze them with my collection of bones for stock. They add a caramel flavor and color to the stock. Delicious!

All that needs to be done for dinner is putting the chicken in the oven on a bed of vegetables and perhaps cooking a starch of some sort. It’s that simple!

Start one day ahead. Serves 4 to 6

The Brine:

  • 7 cups of water

  • 1 cup dry white wine (optional)

  • 6 Tbls sea salt or kosher salt

  • 3 Tbls organic sugar

  • 3 Tbls of your favorite spice blend that does not contain salt or yellow curry powder

The Chicken:

  • 3-pound chicken, cut into two halves

  • Assorted root vegetables

  • 1 Tbls extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 Tbls of the above spice mixture

  • 1 cup chicken stock or white wine

  • 1 Tbls. balsamic vinegar (optional)

Brining the chicken:

  1. The day before you plan to cook, combine all the brine ingredients with two tablespoons of the spice mixture reserving the rest for the next day.

  2. In a small pot over medium heat and with 1 cup of water, stir until the salt and sugar have dissolved.

  3. Add this mixture to the remaining brine in a large glass or stainless bowl or pot and cool completely. Put the chicken in the pot and top with a plate, if necessary, to keep the chicken submerged. Refrigerate, covered, for at least 6 hours or overnight.

Cooking the chicken:

  1. Heat the oven to 450ºF and remove the chicken from the refrigerator. Drain the brine.

  2. Peel onions if using, keeping as much of the root end intact as possible. Cut into 1-inch wedges, cutting through the root end so the layers stay connected.

  3. Cut other root vegetables into medium chunks and place in a rimmed roasting pan or sheet pan.

  4. Pat the bird dry with paper towels and place it skin up, on the vegetables. Lightly rub with olive oil and sprinkle with the reserved spice mix mixed with one-half teaspoon of salt.

  5. Roast, stirring the vegetables occasionally until the chicken reaches 165˚F at the deepest part of the chicken’s thigh, about 40 minutes.

  6. Remove the bird and vegetables to a cutting board or platter.

  7. Deglaze the pan while scraping the bits and simmer until reduced by one third. Drizzle the sauce over the bird.

The science behind brining:

  • Meat absorbs some of the liquid: When a piece of meat is soaked in a brine solution, that solution is slowly drawn into the meat, and even though some of it is inevitably lost during cooking, it still makes a big difference. Since the meat starts out with more liquid within, it ends up juicier and more moist when cooked.

  • Muscle fibers are dissolved: Highly concentrated salt solutions will cause proteins to precipitate (essentially forcing them to aggregate with each other and clump together). On the other hand, a low-concentration salt solution has the opposite effect and actually can increase protein solubility and allow more proteins to dissolve. So brine actually helps dissolve some of the muscle fibers, which helps to reduce the toughness of meat.

  • Muscle fibers and meat proteins denature: A salt solution can denature proteins, essentially unfolding and unravelling them. As they unfold, water works its way in between these proteins so there is more water in between the meat proteins as the meat cooks. This results in a more tender cooked meat.

Butternut Squash and Hazelnut Lasagna

This is perfect as a side dish or an entree. I serve it with a salad of bitter greens like arugula and endive with oranges, pomegranate seeds and a light vinaigrette. Serves 8

This is perfect as a side dish or an entree. I serve it with a salad of bitter greens like arugula and endive with oranges, pomegranate seeds and a light vinaigrette. Serves 8

For squash filling:

  • 2 Tbls. melted butter

  • 1 tsp. salt

  • 1/4 tsp. white pepper

  • 1/8 tsp. nutmeg

  • 2 Tbls chopped fresh sage (ideal) or 2 tsp. powdered dry sage

  • 3 lbs. Butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and sliced ¼ inch thick

  • 1 cup (4 oz) hazelnuts , toasted - remove skins by rubbed off with a kitchen towel and coarsely chop

  • Parchment paper

For the sauce:

  • 1 large onion, chopped

  • 2 to 4 cloves garlic, minced

  • 6 Tbls. unsalted butter

  • 5 Tbls. all-purpose flour

  • 5 cups milk or chicken stock, or a blend of both, heated with the bay leaf for 10 minutes

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 1 cinnamon stick

  • 1/4 tsp. Nutmeg or to taste

  • 1 tsp. salt or to taste

  • 1/8 tsp. white pepper or to taste

  • Dash cayenne pepper

For assembling lasagna:

  • 12 oz good quality fresh mozzarella, drained well and sliced thinly

  • 3 oz. finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino  (1 cup)

  • 12 (7- by 3 1/2-inch) sheets no-boil lasagna (1/2 lbs.)


Make filling:

  1. Preheat oven to 375˚ and cover two cookie sheets with parchment paper. In a small bowl, stir the salt, pepper, nutmeg and sage to blend.

  2. In a large bowl, toss the sliced squash with the melted butter. Sprinkle the spice mixture over squash and toss. Place the squash on the parchment-lined cookie sheets in a single layer and roast until just tender, 10- minutes. Toss with a spatula if needed. Cool.

  3. Turn oven to 350˚F

Make sauce while squash cooks:

  1. In a pot, heat the broth and/or milk with the bay leaf and cinnamon stick.

  2. Heat 1 Tbls. of the butter in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderately low heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until soft but not brown. Pour into a bowl and set aside.

  3. Heat the remaining 5 Tbls. butter in the saucepan over moderately low heat. Add the flour to make a roux whisking until smooth. Cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring without brown. Remove the bay leaf from the milk/stock and discard.

  4. Pour the stock/milk into the roux in a slow stream whisking all the while. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly, then reduce heat and simmer. Add the bay leaf and cinnamon stick and simmer, whisking occasionally, for 5 minutes or so.

  5. Remove the bay leaf and cinnamon and add the onion-garlic mixture and stir. Season to taste with salt, pepper, cayenne and nutmeg. Remove from heat.

Assemble lasagna:

  1. Toss the cheeses together in a small bowl.

  2. Spread 1/2 cup sauce in a buttered 13- by 9- by 2-inch glass baking dish (or other shallow 3-quart baking dish) and cover with 3 to 4 pasta sheets, leaving spaces between sheets.

  3. Spread with ⅔ cup sauce and one third of the squash and chopped hazelnuts, then add ⅓ of the cheese.

  4. Repeat layering 2 more times, beginning with pasta sheets and ending with cheese. Top with remaining 3 pasta sheets, remaining sauce, and remaining cheese.

  5. Butter a piece of foil that will cover your dish. Tightly cover the lasagna with the buttered foil and bake in middle of oven 30 minutes.

  6. Remove foil and bake until golden and bubbling, 10 to 15 minutes more. Let lasagna stand 15 to 20 minutes before serving

Cook’s note:

  • I have found the hazelnuts pre-skinned at Whole Foods in the bulk section

  • To peel the butternut squash easily, set the entire squash in your oven as it preheats for 5-10 minutes. Test with a sharp knife. After 5 minutes or so the squash will have baked just enough to make the skin soft. Cool and peel the squash with a sharp knife.

  • Filling and sauce can be made one day ahead and kept separately, chilled.

  • Place plastic wrap directly on the sauce to prevent a skin from forming. Bring to room temperature before assembling.

Adapted from Gourmet Magazine, December 2001

About Polenta

Yellow Polenta with Grilled Summer Vegetables

Yellow Polenta with Grilled Summer Vegetables

Polenta is a delicious (gluten free) starch for every season. I love it

  • In summer with grilled vegetables and fish.

  • In Fall, with roasted winter squash, wild mushrooms and quick braised sausage.

  • In Winter with braised meats and greens.

Choosing polenta in the words of Viola Buitoni

At our Cooking From the Summer Garden Weekend Getaway with Viola Buitoni in August, we had a delicious polenta evening. Below are Viola’s thoughts on the types of polenta ~

From Viola:

“There are four different kinds of polenta with which all have space in my heart and pantry. The classic yellow one, whole wheat, white and taragna.

White is the most delicate and lends itself well to decisive and refined flavors with underlying sweetness: fish and seafood, spices and nutty, delicate cheeses. It is generally milled to an even slightly finer ground.

Yellow is a jack-of-all-trades and can successfully espouse a range of flavors: from sweet, to rustic, to acid, to spicy. The mill of it, more than the flavor, will determine your selection. A finer mill (fioretto) is more suitable to a sweeter more fragrant sauce-like mushrooms for example, while a coarser (bramata) grind will hold up well to a long braise, with a red wine base and dark meat. In Italy, one can also find a mill grade called fumetto, a very fine polenta typically used in pastry.

Whole wheat polenta has a nuttier, woodsy flavor that goes well with stinky cheeses, spicy sauces, sweet nuts and butter.

Taragna, which has a percentage of buckwheat in it. I like it with creamy aged and blue cheeses, and redolent vegetables in the cabbage family.”

Cooking Polenta

1 cup polenta yields about 6 heaping 1/2 cup servings

Depending on how you will serve polenta, proportions of dry polenta to liquid should be:

  • For a dry / firm polenta that you will chill then slice: 1 part dry polenta to 3 parts liquid

  • For a wet / creamy polenta:  1 part dry polenta to 4 or 5 parts liquid

  • The liquid can be water, vegetable or meat stock or broth. Milk can also be used or added with water to create a creamy polenta or to make cheesy grits.

  1. Bring the liquid to a boil and salt to taste. You should be able to taste a faint taste of salt.

  2. With a wooden spoon in hand, slowly pour the polenta into the boiling liquid in a slow, steady stream, stirring all the while to keep the polenta from clumping.

  3. Continue stirring until the polenta begins to boil then turn the heat down to a simmer. At this point, the polenta should just puff little bursts of steam. You don’t want it to boil as the polenta will burst out of the pot and can burn.

  4. Continue stirring until the polenta off and on for about 20 minutes or until it is creamy with a bit of texture. You can add a splatter guard or loosely place a lid over the polenta.

  5. Add liquid towards the end if a runnier consistency is desired.

  6. If desired, add a knob of unsalted butter, more salt and white pepper.

Spicy Caramel-Glazed Meatballs with Peanuts, Pickled Vegetables, Basil & Fried Shallots

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Spicy Caramel-Glazed Meatballs with Peanuts, Pickled Vegetables, Basil & Fried Shallots ~ 

Serves 6

These slightly spicy meatballs make a great appetizer. Use decorative skewers and sprinkle the meatballs with the garnishes. The caramel will help the garnishes to stick to the meatballs. They're also a fun dinner served over cooked rice noodles and served with quick sautéd vegetables.

Pork Meatballs:

  • 1 Lbs ground pork (20% fat)

  • 2 tsp potato or corn starch

  • 1 tsp sea salt

  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda

  • 1 Tbls water

  • 1 Tbls toasted sesame oil

  • 1 Tbls Sriracha

  • 4 scallions, minced

  • 2 small garlic cloves, minced

  • 1 Tbls coconut oil or other high heat cooking oil

Spicy Caramel:

  • 1/2 cup sugar, see below to replace sugar with honey

  • 3 tablespoons water

  • 2 Tbls lime juice

  • 2 Tbls fish sauce

  • 2 Thai chilies, thinly sliced

Pickles: Fermented vegetables can repack these pickles and would also be delicious.

  • 2 carrots, peeled

  • 8 oz daikon, peeled

  • 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar, divided

  • 1 tsp salt, divided

  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons rice vinegar

  • 1/2 cup warm water

Garnishes, choose one or all:

 

  • 2-3 Tbls toasted coconut flakes

  • 3 Tbls toasted peanuts, chopped

  • Thinly sliced Thai or Italian basil

  • Fried shallots (found in the grocery store Asian section)

  • Cooked rice noodles

Make the pickles:

  1. Cut the vegetables into long matchsticks. You can also use a mandoline or Cuisinart with the matchstick or shredding attachment.

  2. Place the cut vegetables in a colander and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt, massage lightly and let them sit for 10 minutes.

  3. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, add the sugar, salt, vinegar, and water and simmer just long enough to melt the sugar. Cool.

  4. Rinse the vegetables and place them in a small heat-proof container or mason jar. Pour the pickling liquid over the vegetables. Cool and then chill. Pickles can be made the day before.

Make the meatballs:

  1. In a small bowl, whisk the starch, salt, baking soda, water, sesame oil, hot sauce, scallions, and garlic together until combined.

  2. Place the pork in a bowl and add the seasoning mixture. Blend quickly, just enough to well combine the the prok with the seasoning. Don’t overmix; the fat will melt and the meatballs will have a tough texture. This can also be done in the bowl of a pre-chilled mixing bowl with a paddle attachment or a pre-chilled food processor bowl with blade attachment. Stop mixing as soon as ingredients are blended together.

  3. Chill the pork mixture for 30 minutes to an hour (or more) before cooking.

  4. Form the pork into heaping 1-inch balls, and place onto a pan lined with parchment and chill for 10 minutes before cooking.

Cooking the meatballs:

  1. In a small bowl combine the lime juice, fish sauce, and thai chilies. Set aside.

  2. *Make the caramel by putting the sugar and water in a clean, grease-free saucepan.

  3. Heat on low to dissolve the sugar, stirring. Brush down the sides of the pan with water to melt any sugar crystals. Once the sugar has dissolved, turn the heat to medium high and stop stirring.

  4. Allow the sugar to caramelize gently swirling the pan occasionally. It should caramelize to a medium amber.

  5. Very slowly stir in the lime, chili mixture.

  6. Let the caramel reduce until lightly syrupy and strain it through a fine mesh metal sieve into a small bowl.

  7. Heat a clean sauté pan on medium high heat and add the coconut oil.

  8. Sear the meatballs just to brown and then drizzle them with the caramel sauce. Continue cooking the meatballs, spooning the caramel over the meatballs, until browned and crispy on the outside and cooked though in the middle.

*To replace the sugar:

  1. Substitute 3 Tbls. of honey for the sugar. Add the honey, lime juice, fish sauce, and thai chili to the pan with the meatballs once they have browned. The dish won’t have the same sticky caramazed affect but will have the sweetness.

  2. Use fermented vegetables instead of the pickled vegetables.

To serve: Brush the top of pork meatballs with more of the coconut caramel. Drain the pickles well and sprinkle over the meatballs, along with the peanut, coconut flakes, and basil.

 

 

 

Springtime Herb Sauces

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Spring is the season for green and that includes herbs. In Spring the "leafy herbs" such as basil, cilantro, chives, and parsley are bursting forth. "Woody herbs" such as thyme or sage are best saved for longer cooking winter dishes. 

Herb sauces are a fantastic way to get loads of rich, raw nutrients into a meal. I sneak probiotics in by using miso or brine from fermented vegetables or sauerkraut; just a tablespoon or two will do. Place a bowl of any of these sauces on the table with dinner. They add freshness and flavor to baked potatoes, as a dip for veggies, as a sandwich spread, over pasta, or as a marinade or sauce to any protein. 

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Tips:

  • Try not to by herbs at chain markets where you get a few sprigs in a plastic shell for a high price. I buy herbs at the farmer's market or neighborhood Meditteranean markets. These cultures use herbs as a vegetable, not a garnish so herbs in these stores are ussually inexpensive and fresh. 
  • Most herbs can be rinsed and spun dry in a salad spinner and wrapped in paper towel to wick away extra moisture. Keep in the vegetable bin. Don't rinse basil until ready to use. It will bruise and brown.
  • Use the stems. Cilantro pesto or delicious and use can use stem and all. Tougher stems like large basil stem should not be used but the stem close to the leaf is tender. In other words don't be to picky when picking the leaves from the stem.
  • Blend herbs; herbs grown in the same season go together well in sauces so use up those half bunches by making a sauce.
  • These sauces freeze well. Make a batch, use some for dinner, freeze the rest in small containers. That way you can pull out just enough for dinner.

Recipes:

Salsa Verde ~ Delicious as a dip or sauce with with prawns, chicken, grilled meats and cooked vegetables.

  • 1/4 cup pickled capers, rinsed or salted capers, soaked for ½ hour and rinsed
  • 4 anchovy fillets in oil, drained (leave out if serving with prawns)
  • 3 garlic cloves, split lengthwise and green sprout removed
  • 1 cup good quality olive oil
  • 1/2 cup each coarsely chopped arugula, parsley, basil & cilantro
  • 1/4 cup each coarsely chopped tarragon or 1 tsp. Dried and coarsely chopped chives

In a mortar or on a cutting board, smash the garlic and add the capers and anchovies. Mash until the mixture forms a paste forms. Transfer to a medium bowl and whisk in half of the olive oil. Stir in the herbs and and the remaining olive oil to taste depending on the thickness you’d like.

Green Herb Pesto ~ Use as you would traditional pesto over pasta or as a sauce.

  • 2 cloves garlic, split lengthwise and green sprout removed
  • 2 cups packed fresh leafy herbs such as basil, cilantro, arugula, parsley, or a mixture (no mint)
  • 1/2 cup good quality olive oil
  • 1/4 cup nuts: pine nuts, walnuts, almonds or pistachios (toasted if you like)
  • 1 Tbls. fresh lemon juice or 1 pinch (1/8 tsp.) Vitamin C powder
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

With a food processor or blender running, drop the garlic in and allow to mince. Add the herbs, nuts, lemon juice, 1/2 tsp. salt and a few grinds of pepper. Plus just enough to blend until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Chermoula, a Moroccan sauce that is delicious as a marinade for chicken or spooned over fresh grilled fish. Keep it slightly chuncky, not pureed.

  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • ½ bunch parsley, tops only
  • 3 garlic cloves, split lengthwise and green sprout removed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds*
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coriander seeds*
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika or ½ tsp hot paprika
  • 1/4 preserved lemon, pulp discarded, rinsed, and rind coarsely chopped
  • Sea salt
  • 2-3 tbsp lemon juice
  • About ½ cup good quality olive oil

In a small skillet, toast the cumin and coriander seeds over low heat, shaking the pan, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a mortar and grind the seend with a pinch of salt until fairly well ground. In a food processor or blender, mince the garlic and then add the herbs, spices, preserved lemon, and  1 Tbls. lemon juice. While the machine is on, slowly pour in olive oil until desired consistency is reached. I like this sauce to be slightly course. Adjust seasoning.

Carrot-Top Pesto ~ The carrot family Umbelliferae consist of anise, dill, celery, parsley, cilantro and coriander, to name a few. Families pair well together when prepared in a dish. Use “sister” herbs to add more depth to this pesto. Use as you would pesto or drizzle over steamed carrots (hot or cold) or, roasted sweet vegetables.

  • 1 or 2 garlic cloves, split lengthwise and green sprout removed
  • 2 cups carrot leaves, no stems
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts or almonds, lightly toasted
  • 1/2 cup (packed) fresh “sister” herbs above such as cilantro, dill, or parsley or use basil
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 cup good quality olive oil

Pulse garlic and nuts in a food processor or blender until a coarse paste forms. Add the carrot tops, herbs, Parmesan and process into a coarse purée. Add olive oil in a steady stream while machine is running until combined; season with salt and pepper.

Fermented Green Sauce ~ Here’s another green sauce with a probiotic boost, miso. To keep the probiotics alive, don’t heat it but rather toss the sauce with cooked foods. It’s a yummy dip, sandwich spread or drizzled over cooked vegetables.

  • 1 small bunch each cilantro, parsley and chives
  • A ½ to 1-inch knob of fresh ginger, peeled and grated (optional; it adds a distinctive spice)
  • Juice of one or 2 fresh lemons, limes, or both or 1 Tbls. apple cider vinegar
  • 3 Tbls. white miso
  • 2 Tbls. tahini
  • ¼ cup or more good quality olive oil
  • 1 Tbls. honey (optional)

Pulse or blend everything in a blender or food processor. Season to taste. Add more olive oil (or a bit of water) for a thinner consistency.

 

 

Compound Butters

These butters are a fantastic “sauce” to keep in your freezer. Pull one out, thaw just enough to slice, and refreeze what’s left. Serve on veggies, grilled steaks, fish or chicken to add loads of flavor.

These butters are a fantastic “sauce” to keep in your freezer. Pull one out, thaw just enough to slice, and refreeze what’s left. Serve on veggies, grilled steaks, fish or chicken to add loads of flavor.

To make compound butter:

Simply bring the butter to room temperature. Place in a bowl with remaining ingredients, see below, and beat with a wooden spoon. Season to taste. 

  • Roll the butter into a log in plastic wrap and freeze. Once frozen, wrap in foil and mark with a Sharpie. 
  • Slice into 1/4” slices when cold and place over grilled steak or chicken. 
  • Or, bring to room temp. in a bowl, stir to soften and plop onto veggies, fish or a baked potato.

To one (4oz) stick of unsalted butter and add:

Sesame Butter (green beans, chicken, steak)

  • 2 Tbls. toasted sesame seeds, black or white
  • 2 Tbls. minced chives or scallions
  • 2 tsp. sesame oil
  • 2 tsp. soy sauce
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Rosemary Olive Butter (chicken, steaks, roasted potatoes)

  • 2 Tbls. fresh rosemary, coarsely chopped
  • 4 Tbls. oil-cured olives, chopped and drained

Dill and Lemon (salmon or any fish, asparagus)

  • 4 Tbls. coarsely chopped dill
  • 1 Tbls. lemon zest
  • A squeeze of lemon juice

Chive Butter (steak, potatoes)

  • 4-6 Tbls. chopped fresh chives

Cilantro and Pine Nut (chicken, summer squash, fish)

  • 4 Tbls. cilantro
  • 3 Tbls. pine nuts
  • 1 Tbls. lemon zest
  • A squeeze of lemon juice

Green Peppercorn Butter (steak!)

  • 1 Tbls. green peppercorns, drained, crushed lightly
  • 1-2 pinches of cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic (or use a zester)

Vanilla Butter (delicious on baked sweet potatoes and roasted root veggies)

  • 1 vanilla been split, scrape seeds out and blend with butter
  • 1/2 tsp good quality vanilla can be substituted but it’s not as good
  • pinch cinnamon 

 

 

 

Brine Roasted Turkey & Giblet Gravy

My favorite way to prepare a turkey for Thanksgiving is to brine it. Wether you use a free range, heritage, or standard bird, brining imparts yummy flavor and adds moisture. It also pulls out the sweetness without masking the natural turkey flavor. You can be creative with the brine flavorings by adding rosemary, cinnamon stick, bay, oranges or other flavors that you love. Photo: Lora Mae Photography

My favorite way to prepare a turkey for Thanksgiving is to brine it. Wether you use a free range, heritage, or standard bird, brining imparts yummy flavor and adds moisture. It also pulls out the sweetness without masking the natural turkey flavor. You can be creative with the brine flavorings by adding rosemary, cinnamon stick, bay, oranges or other flavors that you love. Photo: Lora Mae Photography

Ingredients:

  • One turkey, 10 to 13 pounds, *thawed. For a 14 to 15 pound bird, double the brine

  • 3 quarts (12 cups) water

  • 1 1/4 cup kosher salt or sea salt

  • 2 1/4 cups honey or 1 cup honey and 1 1/4 cup organic sugar

  • 4 to 6 lemons

  • 30 garlic cloves, smashed slightly with the side of a knife

  • 30 allspice

  • 30 black peppercorns

  • 2 bunches sage, optional

  • 1 large onion, peeled and halved

  • 1 (7-lb) bag of ice, optional, see below

  • Olive oil for rubbing the bird

To thaw the turkey:

  • Place the turkey in a large pan or bowl to catch the drips and thaw it in the refrigerator allowing 24 hours for every 5 pounds.

  • To thaw quickly, place unopened turkey, breast down, in a clean sink or very large container filled with cold tap water. Allow 30 minutes per pound to thaw. Change the water every 30 minutes to keep surface of turkey cold.

  • When thawed, keep in refrigerator for up to 4 days until ready to cook.

To Brine the Turkey:

  • Brine the bird for 60 minutes per pound, about 12 hours, turning once to make sure you’ve brined both sides of the turkey.

  1. Combine six cups of the water, 1 bunch of sage, and the remaining brine ingredients in a deep sauce pan and bring to a simmer, stirring until the salt and sugar are dissolved and gently for 10 minutes.

  2. Remove from the heat and add the remaining (cold) water. Stir and cool completely.

  3. Remove the giblets and neck and reserve for gravy or another use and rinse the turkey. Pat dry with paper towel.

          Two choices for brining the bird:

  1. Pour the brine into a nonreactive container just large enough to hold the bird and the liquid Making sure it fits in the fridge. The bird should be submerged as much as possible. You can also turn it half way through the brining process.

  2. Use a medium plastic picnic cooler that just fits the turkey. Place the turkey into a good quality plastic garbage bag and then place the bag into a second plastic bag for double protection. Place the bird into the cooler and slowly pour the cold brine into the interior bag. Gather the bags tightly around the bird. Seal the first and then the second bag by tying it into a tight knot. Cover the bag with ice. Check often to make sure the turkey is cold and surrounded with ice. Refresh ice when needed. Turn the bird once throughout the process to brine evenly.

Preparing to Roast the Turkey:

  1. Plan on 10 to 15 minutes per pound roasting time. Calculate using both 10 and 15 minutes multiplied by the weight of your turkey to gage timing and start to check the bird for doneness at the earlier time.

  2. One hour before roasting, remove the turkey from the brine. Rinse, discarding the brine and dry thoroughly with paper towel.

  3. Turn the wing tips back to hold the neck in place, tucking them under the back.

  4. Place the turkey, breast side up, on a rack in a large shallow roasting pan and cover loosely with a paper towel. Set aside to bring to room temperature.

  5. Preheat oven to 350°F

  6. Stuff the cavity with the second bunch of sage, halved lemons and the onion.

  7. Pat the bird to dry completely and massage the bird thoroughly with the olive oil. Do not sprinkle with salt or pepper. The bird has been flavored with the brine and the salt and pepper will blemish the skin.

  8. Insert an oven safe meat thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh, being sure that the pointed end of the thermometer does not touch the bone.

  9. Add the turkey neck and chicken feet (see turkey stock below) to the pan to brown for the stock.

  10. Put the turkey in the oven and reduce temperature to 325˚F

  11. Roast turkey, basting with the stock every half hour or so. While basting, check the neck and feet. Once golden brown remove them and make the stock below.

  12. Once the breast is browned to your liking, cover loosely with foil to prevent over browning.

  13. Continue to roast until the thermometer registers 175°F in the thigh, or 160°F in the breast.

  14. Remove the turkey to a platter and tent with foil to rest for 20 to 30 minutes. This will help the juices absorb back into the turkey and keep it moist.

To make the turkey stock; this can be done 2 days ahead:

  • 1 turkey neck

  • Giblets, soak the liver in milk while preparing turkey. Rinse and add to stock.

  • 6 chicken feet if you have them

  • 1 onion, chopped coarsely

  • 2 each carrots and celery, chopped coarsely

  • 2 Tbls. olive oil or melted butter

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 1 tsp. whole peppercorns

  • 6 cups water

  1. In a pot large enough to hold the stock ingredients, melt the butter or oil over medium heat.

  2. Add the vegetables and cook, stirring often until golden brown.

  3. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer on low for 15 minutes.

  4. Remove the liver and set aside.

  5. Continue to simmer for a total of one hour. Skim the scum that rises to the surface.

  6. Remove the remaining giblets and set aside.

  7. Strain the stock, pressing the vegetables to extract the juices and toss the vegetables. Measure the stock; you should have four cups of stock. If you have more, simmer to reduce to four cups. Set aside until turkey is done.

To Finish the Turkey and Make the Gravy:

  • Cooked giblets, cleaned of veins, muscle, etc. and minced

  • 4 Tbls. turkey drippings

  • ¼ cup all-purpose or gluten free white flour

  • 4 cups stock

  • 1 Tbls. dried porcini mushroom powder (optional)

  • 1 Tbls. Madeira or dry sherry (optional)

  • Salt & white or black pepper

  1. In the roasting pan, remove all but about four tablespoons of fat and place the roasting pan on the stove over medium heat.

  2. When the drippings are sizzling, add the flour and stir until it is a golden brown.

  3. Add the stock in a steady stream, whisking. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer.

  4. Scrape up all of the roasting bits that are stuck to the roasting pan.

  5. Add the mushroom powder and Madeira or sherry if using.

  6. Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, whisking occasionally.

  7. Season with salt and freshly cracked black pepper.

Enjoy the fruits of your labor!

Japanese Inspired Pork Ribs, Fermented Jicama Salad & Miso Corn

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This recipe features two of my favorite ingredients, the first, heritage pork from Rockside Ranch that graze pastures and woodlands and are fed an organic and soy-free diet. The second, fermented foods. Here, the menu is Japanese inspired using a simple marinade of Shio Koji, an age-old Japanese fermented mixture of malted rice, salt and water mixed with the culture  Asperiguillus Oryzae. The enzymes in the shio koji break down proteins and pull out the umami flavor as well as tenderize the meat. Shio koji is both salty and sweet. It’s wonderful on meat and with vegetables, so I use it in both places. The depth of flavor in free range pork combined with the umami of fermented shio koji gives an absolutely delicious end result.

The meat is naturally rich. Accompanied with lots of veggies, I would say 3 pounds of meat easily serves 4 to 6.

Notes:

  • Shio Koji is available on Amazon, in Japanese grocery stores or, you can make your own. CultureforHealth.com for example, shows you how.
  • Read through the recipe before you start. The best way to do ribs is to plan ahead. Marinate for 18 to 24 hours. Oven roast for 3 hours. Chill overnight or for several hours. Finish on the grill or under the broiler. The hands-on time is very minimal making your last minute grill time quick.

Japanese Inspired Baby Back Ribs

  • 1 rack pork spare ribs or baby back ribs, about 2.5 to 3.5 pounds
  • 1/3 cup shio koji
  • apple juice or water
  • 2 onions, each peeled and cut into four wedges

To prepare the ribs:

  1. With ribs, it's best to remove the silver skin, a thin layer of connective tissue that is very tough. On the back side of the ribs (the side without the meat) you will see and opaque paper-thin tissue. At the top, corner edge of the bones, use a sharp knife to release a small piece of the silver skin. Using paper towel to help you grip the silver skin, pull/peel it off the bone. (It will be similar to pulling masking tape off a box). Repeat until you’ve gotten all or most of it off. A little bit left on the bone is fine.

  2. In a glass container, massage the ribs with the shio koji. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate, chilled, for 18 to 24 hours.

  3. When ready to bake, wipe the ribs with paper towel to remove as much of the marinade as possible.

  4. In a baking dish large enough for the ribs to lie flat, scatter the onions to act as a rack for the ribs. Place the ribs on the onions and add enough apple juice or water to create a 1/4-inch pool.

  5. Cover and seal edges with foil and bake for about 2 1/2 hours.

  6. Check the ribs. They should be tender when pierced with a fork but not falling off the bone. They may need another 30 minutes for a total of 3 hours.

  7. I like to bake my ribs a day ahead and chill them. This makes it easy to throw them on the grill for a last minute sear and glaze with the BBQ sauce.  

  8. Remove the ribs from the fridge 20 to 30 minutes before cooking.

  9. Wrap the ends of the exposed bones with foil to keep them from burning.

  10. To grill: follow your grill instructions.

  11. To bake: Preheat oven to 350˚F. Brush both sides of the ribs with BBQ sauce. Place ribs meat side down on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake ribs for 15 to 20 minutes or just until the ribs are hot. Turn on your broiler and move the ribs to the top third of the oven but not at the very top. Broil just until the sauce is bubbling and has colored slightly. Flip the ribs and finish the second side.

  12. Serve extra, warmed sauce on the side.

Japanese BBQ Sauce ~ makes about 1 pint

  • 2 Tbls. sesame oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup mirin, sherry or apple juice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 2 Tbls. miso paste, any flavor will do
  • 2 Tbls. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp. dry mustard powder
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 Tbls. grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

To make the sauce:

  1. Heat the sesame oil in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring garlic in hot oil until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes.

  2. Stir in all of the remaining ingredients except the lemon juice.

  3. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 to 30 minutes or until a thick sauce has formed. Be careful not to burn the bottom.

  4. Add the lemon juice to taste.

  5. Use immediately or store in the fridge until needed.

Jicama Cucumber Slaw with Shiso Leaves

This slaw uses the shio koji used on our ribs to marinade the vegetables creating a wonderful texture and flavor. Shiso leaves add a bright, fragrant touch. Shiso leaves can be found in Japanese grocery stores. Substitute with fresh Thai basil, basil, or cilantro.

  • 1 medium jicama, peeled and cut into thin matchsticks
  • 1 english cucumber or two Persian cucumbers, sliced into thin rounds
  • 2 Tbls. shio koji
  • 1 Tbs. rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1 red or jalapeño pepper, seeds removed, sliced thin, to taste (optional)
  • 4 shiso leaves
  1. Place everything but the shiso leaves in a gallon plastic bag. Remove air, seal, and massage gently to cover all of the vegetables with the liquid. Refrigerate for 20 to 40 minutes.
  2. Drain the liquid. Slice the shiso leaves (or herbs) into thin ribbons and toss with the vegetables. Serve immediately or chill until ready to serve.

Miso Corn

Miso butter can be served room temperature or chilled. It can also be rolled into a log in between plastic wrap and chilled or frozen. Thaw and slice into 1/4-inch “coins” to top grilled chicken, fish, and vegetables.

  • 1/2 cup good quality unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup white miso (any miso will do but I like mild white with corn)
  • corn on the cob
  1. In a small bowl, mash the miso and butter with a fork until blended.
  2. Boil or BBQ the corn and serve the miso butter on the side.

Cured Pork Chops with Vanilla & Stone Fruit

Traditional brines are heavy on the salt and used to preserve meat but we are just looking for flavor and texture in this recipe. This brine, delicately sweet and infused with vanilla, is perfect with pork and summer stone fruits. Plan for about four hours brining time. Serves 4 to 8

  • 2 lbs. boneless or bone-in pork chops (I use Rockside Ranch pork chops)

Brine:

  • 1 ½ cups boiling water
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ¼ cup kosher or sea salt (not fine table salt)
  • 2 Tbls. cracked black pepper
  • 2-inch piece of vanilla bean, split down the center (optional but adds flavor)

Honey Vanilla Sauce (optional)

  • 4 peaches or equivalent amount of apricots or cherries
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • ½ cup white wine or stock
  • 1 cup pork or chicken stock
  • 1 Tbls. honey
  • 1 Tbls. peach, apricot, or cherry jam to match your fruit
  • Sea salt and freshly cracked blacked pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter (optional)

To make the brine, stir the brine ingredients together until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Add 1 ½ cups cold water and stir. Cool completely.

Trim excess fat from the chops and reserve. Immerse the pork chops in the brine making sure the meat is submerged and chill for four to six hours.

Remove the chops from the fridge about 30 minutes before cooking to bring to room temperature. Heat a cast iron or non-stick skillet to medium high. Melt the reserved pork fat in the pan. Pat the chops dry with a paper towel and place them into the pan. Save the vanilla bean for your sauce and discard the brine.

Tip: to sear any meat, once you’ve placed it in the pan, don’t be tempted to move it. The meat will stick but as the natural sugar in the meat begins to caramelize, it will form a crust. Once a rich brown crust has formed, flip the meat and finish cooking just until 160˚ for medium. Remove, place on plate and tent with foil to rest for ten minutes.

While the meat is cooking, bring a small pot of water to boil and prepare a bowl with ice water. Peel the peaches by carving an X just through the skin. Drop them in the boiling water just until the X starts to curl, about 30 seconds. Drop the peaches in the ice water to stop the cooking. Peal and cut into thick slices and set aside.

Make the sauce: Pour off most of the fat leaving a tablespoon or so. On low heat, sauté the garlic just until tender. Add the wine and reserved vanilla bean and simmer to reduce by half scraping up the bits of meat stuck to the pan. Add the stock, honey, and jam and simmer until the sauce is a syrupy glaze. Add the peaches and cook just until the peaches are warmed through. Turn off the heat and swirl in the cold butter. Season to taste. Serve the sauce over the Pork chops.           

  • If you’ve got leftovers, slice the pork and warm it with the peaches and some BBQ sauce for a great sandwich!

*Recipe adapted from Nancy Oaks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eggs Benedict Salad with Cottage Bacon, Spring Vegetables & Lemon

Cottage bacon is sweet, full of flavor, and has just enough fat. If you google it or Canadian bacon, the options are always the same, pizza and Eggs Benedict. It can be used in place of bacon in just about any application but it’s so delicious, I prefer to let it stand on it’s own. Here I’ve made a summer “Eggs Benedict Salad” with Spring vegetables, lemon, and croutons.

Serves 4

  • 1 pound Cottage Bacon, I use Rockside Ranch
  • 4 to 8 eggs, boiled for 7 to 8 minutes, drop in ice water to cool then peel and quarter
  • 1 bunch asparagus (or one handful of green beans per person) cut on the diagonal
  • ¾ lbs. baby new potatoes or larger potatoes quartered and dropped in cold water
  • 1 large handful washed and dried lettuce of your choice per person
  • 1 -2 tomatoes, quartered
  • Your favorite olives to garnish
  • Croutons of your choice
  • ½ Tbls. Dijon style mustard
  • 2 shallots, minced (optional)
  • Juice of one lemon, about 4 Tbls.
  • ½ cup good quality olive oil or too taste
  • Fresh cracked pepper, I love pink peppercorns here
  • Pinch sea salt

Bring a medium pot of water to boil. Prepare a large bowl with ice and water. Drop the asparagus, green beans, or both into the boiling water and stir. Cook just until crisp tender, about two minutes. Test one and when cooked to your liking, scoop the vegetables out and drop them into the ice water to cool. Drain as soon as they are cold. Place them back in the bowl.

Salt the boiling water and add the drained potatoes. Cook until the can be pierced with a knife with resistance. They will still cook as they cool.

Make the dressing: Whisk the mustard and shallots together in a small bowl. Whisk in the lemon juice and then the olive oil. Season to taste and adjust lemon or olive oil to your liking. When to potatoes are done, drain and place in a bowl and toss with several tablespoons of the dressing. Set aside.

Now for the bacon: Heat a medium heavy bottomed skillet of any kind. Once the skillet is hot (wave your hand over the surface) add the bacon in a single layer and don’t move it. The bacon will stick until the fat melts and the protein turns to sugar and caramelizes the meat. By being patient, you’ll have a crispy sweet piece of bacon. Once one side is caramelized, turn the pieces over to warm the second side. The longer it cooks, the crispier it gets. That choice is yours. Stack the cooked bacon on a small plate and cook the remaining pieces.

Putting it all together: Add the lettuce to the vegetables and toss with just enough dressing to coat. Pile on a large platter and garnish with the bacon, quartered eggs, tomatoes, olives, and croutons. Drizzle the remaining dressing over the salad or serve on the side.

Blanching tips:

  • Don’t blanch vegetables that are primarily water such as summer squash or eggplant.
  • Mix vegetables that are grown in the same season.
  • Blanch several vegetables at once. You can store them in the fridge and pull them out to toss with salads, pasta , or sauté in fat.