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Friday, June 3, 2016

MOPS Dinner

There are times in everyone's life where you really wonder what curve balls are going to be thrown your way next.  In the last month and a half we've dealt with a house fire at a dear friend's.  She's an elderly widow with no kids and her closest relative about an hour away.  She's out of the ICU and in a rehab hospital.  Next step is a furnished apartment until her home is rehabbed.  Then, my mom's best friend was diagnosed with metastatic lung cancer and died within about a month of the diagnosis.  Finally, my beloved father-in-law, Donald, died.  He's actually my brother John's father-in-law.  John married the girl down the street many years ago.  We'd grown up with Pam and her sister Debbie.  We'd all gone to the same church too.  So, I've known Donald since I was about six.  Since I didn't have a father-in-law or mother-in-law of my own, I adopted Donald and Pat.  Two of the most wonderful people in the world.  When I married Connie, they adopted him as part of the family too.  We've all always felt very lucky to be related to each other by marriage.  Connie and I had the MOPS (short for our family) Mother's Day and six birthday party on Mother's Day.  I took this photo of Donald sitting in Connie's chair. 

A couple of days after the party, he went into the ICU.  We knew it wasn't good and the odds weren't in his favor.  My brother, John, wrote the coolest memory.  He said not only did he learn how to do things by Donald teaching him but also by Pam saying, "That isn't the way my dad would do that."  He was right. This was a man who could do just about anything.  With a smile on his face and a great attitude.  Because the visitation and the dinner after the service will include others, it felt right to have dinner just for the MOPS.  I knew we'd have at best 90 minutes to cook before everyone got here so I tried to 1)make easy dishes and 2) make old favorites.

Pickle dip for Pat.  This was one I made for an exchange group.  I felt guilty because it's only three ingredients.  It's also fabulous so I got over the guilt REALLY quickly.

Salsa.  My former neighbor Sue's recipe.  She called it Mexicali Scoop.  It's become a family favorite.

Artichoke heart dip.  Sometimes the family does this cold.  I added extra cheese and nuked it.

Pork tenderloin with bourbon soy marinade.  No matter how many recipes I try, this remains my favorite.

Banana chutney.  Years ago I thought, "You know what would be great?  Banana chutney.  And, lo and behold, there was recipe in the Junior League cookbook called Back Home Again.  It's killer.

Lemony tortellini salad. From the Kraft magazine.  Really good even thought I left out the feta.  Partially because I wasn't sure who'd like it and partially because I forgot it...

Corn salad.  Connie really isn't fond of corn.  This, he loves.

Grilled Caesar salad.  If you've never grilled romaine lettuce, you need to start now.  Yes, I mean NOW.  All you do is cut the head of romaine in half lengthwise then brush it lightly with olive oil.  Grill it for just long enough to get some good burn marks.  If you want, you can also grill a basket of grape tomatoes, onion rings and avocado slices.  All of those get tossed with olive oil prior to putting them in the basket.  Then, grill for about five minutes.  Slice the lettuce and toss it with the veggies and your favorite Caesar dressing and you're good to go.

Mom's chocolate upside down cake.  A kidhood favorite.  Chocolatey, gooey, good!  Its
one of those deals that creates cake and sauce as it bakes.  Yummy chocolaty sauce.  I'm not a big sweet eater.  This, is an exception.  Well, except I still wouldn't eat this in the middle of the night!

Banana Chutney


2 c peeled and chopped bananas (about 6)
1/2 lb onions, coarsely chopped
1/2 lb pitted dates, finely chopped
1 1/2 c sugar
1 c apple cider vinegar
2 T finely chopped crystallized ginger
1/2 t salt
1/2 t curry
1/2 c raisins (golden or regular)


Put all the ingredients in a large and heavy saucepan.  Allow the chutney to simmer until it's thickened.  That'll take about 15 minutes.

from Back Home Again

Mom's Chocolate Upside Down Cake


1 c flour
1 t salt
3/4 c sugar
2 t baking powder
1/2 c milk
1 t vanilla
1/2 c chopped nuts (optional - I usually leave them out)
2 T butter
1 square chocolate (is 1 oz of bittersweet chocolate)

for the topping:
4 T cocoa
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 c white sugar


Mix the dry ingredients.  Melt the butter and chocolate together over very low heat.  Slowly stir in the milk, vanilla and melted chocolate/butter.  Pour into an 8x8 pan.  Mix the topping ingredients together and sprinkle them over the batter.  Pour a cup of water over all.  DO NOT MIX!  Bake at 325 F for 45 minutes.  Best served warm.

Lemony Tortellini Salad


1 9 oz package refrigerated cheese tortellini, cooked, drained and cooled
1 c coarsely chopped fresh spinach
1/2 c crumbled feta cheese
1/2 c cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 c finely chopped red onions
1/4 c Zesty Italian dressing
1/2 t zest and 2 t juice from a lemon
1/4 t dried, crumbled oregano leaves (I used fresh)


Mix the ingredients together gently and serve.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Dinner Parties!

One of the few cooking magazines I can't get via Texture (aka Next Issue) on my ipad is Kraft Food and Family.  I know.  Pretty much the last cooking magazine you'd expect me to subscribe to.  But I do because on occasion I find a gem.  It's easy to read through too.  This month I've found two gems thus far.  It seems that they've gotten on board the bandwagon of fresh ingredients, which is good. 

The first recipe we tried was for spicy grilled potato salad.  We left the office during a torrential rainstorm. It wasn't much better when we got home.  And, then poor Connie had to head off to the grocery in the same.  I stayed home and started cleaning up and prepping for a dinner party.  I'd read this recipe and another for blackberry glazed bbq chicken thighs on the way to work.  Let's just say that we give VERY few 2's out.  The chicken deserved that rating.  We also give out very few 5's.  The potato salad was a 4 pushing a 5.  It's super easy and super good.  And great leftover too.  I will note the recipe was to pop the potatoes in foil and grill them.  I decided to skip that and save time.  I don't think it made much difference since the potatoes were tossed with the dressing when very hot so they should have absorbed an equal amount of the dressing...

Then, the next evening it was time to get the rosemary roasted chicken ready to go and to keep getting ready for Saturday.  One of my very favorite bloggers and her delightful husband are coming over along with two of their best friends - one of whom happens to be a good friend of mine from high school and the other happens to be his incredibly wonderful wife.  Life gets in the way all too often so the six of us are behind on getting together.  Here's what the chicken looked like as I prepped it:

I was going through all the recipes I'd printed off looking for the gingered iceberg salad recipe when I ran across a recipe that'd be perfect for dinner.  Dean Fearings Texas Smoked Salmon Tartare.  It's a dish that's been inhaled at parties.  We had a couple of bags of smoked salmon.  And, I had all the other ingredients.  The night before I'd made the quinoa radish and snow pea salad.  All I needed to do was make a Greek dressing. Of course, in the magazine the recipe was written to use a Kraft Greek dressing.  I really prefer to make my own.  Usually the only store-bought dressings I'll use are a robust or zesty Italian as a marinade or a poppyseed.  It's so wonderful to have fresh herbs on hand again.  I headed to the herb garden and got a handful of oregano and basil and headed back in to make a dressing.  While I was doing everything else, I'd been using up the crepe batter from Mother's Day with the intention of freezing the crepes.   Then, inspiration struck.  What if I served the smoked salmon tartare with a couple of the crepes?  Perfect!  As was the quinoa salad.  I added a bit of chopped red onion on top but you could add pretty much any vegetable you'd like.  Or, for that matter, shrimp or chicken would be great in it. 

Now, I have to add in that the herb crepes were originally served with grated gruyere and thinly slice ham then napped with hollandaise sauce.  They're incredible that way.  But, they're also VERY versatile and would be perfect with many other fillings...  Mushrooms, chicken, shrimp, beef, eggplant...  And, you can use just about any sauce you'd like.

Well, now, since I've been gabbing about all these wonderful dishes it's probably time to share them...

Spicy Grilled Potato Salad


2 lbs small red potatoes, halved (I cut mine into 1/2" chunks)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c Zesty Italian dressing
1/3 c mayonnaise (the recipe called for Hot and Spicy so I added Tabasco Chipotle)
4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
4 green onions, sliced

Directions (the way I actually made the recipe)

Cook the potatoes over medium heat until they're done.  Have a mixing bowl ready with the garlic and half of the Italian dressing.  As soon as the potatoes are done, drain them then toss them with the dressing mix.  In another bowl, combine the rest of the Italian dressing, the mayo and the Tabasco.  Toss that with the potatoes, bacon and green onions

Texas Smoked Salmon Tartare


2 oil-packed anchovies, drained and coarsely chopped
2 t roasted garlic paste (I just used crushed garlic)
1 t ground cumin
1 T extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 c sour cream
2 t fresh lime juice
one 1/2 lb piece of skinless smoked salmon cut into 1/4" dice
1 small jalapeno, seeded and minced
1/4 c finely chopped red onion
1 T capers, drained and coarsely chopped
1 T finely chopped cilantro
salt and pepper
4 dozen sturdy corn tortilla chips


In a medium sized mixing bowl, mash the anchovies and garlic.  Add in the cumin, olive oil, sour cream and lime juice and mix well.  Fold in the other ingredients.

Snow Pea and Radish Quinoa Salad
makes 12 servings
photo is up top


3 c cooked quinoa (one cup of uncooked)
1 c snow peas, cut into thin slices
4 green onions, sliced
6 radishes, quartered then sliced thinly
4 oz feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 c Greek dressing
2 T finely chopped fresh mint (I omitted this and added finely chopped red onion)


Toss the ingredients together and serve.

Herb Crepes
makes 12 crepes

1 3/4 c flour
3 eggs
1 1 /4 c milk
1/2 c water
1/2 t salt
1/4 c chopped mixed herbs (parsley, thyme oregano, tarragon)
4 T unsalted butter, melted


Add the flour and eggs to your food processor.  Process just until the dough comes together.  Slowly add in the milk water and butter.  Pour the batter into a bowl and mix in the herbs and salt.  Make crepes using 1/4 cup of batter per crepe.  If you don't have a crepe pan, a small skillet with sloped sides will work well. 

Friday, May 13, 2016

Asian Halibut with Bok Choy and Eggplant with Peanut Sauce

My 99 cents find is managing to leave all the other cookbooks in the dust!  The Frugal Foodie Cookbook was published in 1999 by a couple who had a blog of the same name.  At one point they moved from BlogSpot to WordPress.  Now, all I can find is the old BlogSpot blog.  So, I'm hoping it's because they found themselves with wonderful, busy careers and a couple of kids and they just don't have time to blog anymore.  We've made two more dishes from the cookbook and both were clearly a five.  And, we've got a couple dozen more that I've listed to try.  Actually, I'm blogging instead of doing my grocery list for the week.  I like to have my menus and grocery list done by Friday but that wasn't happening this week.  A very dear friend had a house fire.  She's in the burn ICU and her house is going to need a lot of help.  Her brother is down in Louisville so we'll be the point people for heading there every day and checking out the progress.  She's doing better and may actually have her breathing tube out by today so she can talk.  It's going to be a long and rocky road!

Well, let's get back to happier news.  Like good recipes.  The most recent recipe was for a dinner party.  I managed to snap a photo as I was cooking the halibut but not as I plated it.  The goal was to get dinner on the table while warm :-)  Along with the halibut I made our new favorite salad - Endive with Blackberries and Blue Cheese.  For dessert - super simple angel food cake with frozen berries, whipped cream and toasted almonds.  I whirred the berries with a bit of liqueur in the food processor and added a bit of the same liqueur to the whipped cream.  But, the star of the show was the halibut.  This was a restaurant quality recipe.  And, shockingly, I made it almost as written.  I know, that never happens.  LOL  I'd not had the recipe handy when I made the grocery list for Connie.  So, I had him get a head of bok choy.  I used four big leaves instead of the baby bok choys.  And, we were out of lime juice so I subbed in lemon juice.  The recipe said four servings would run $27.  Wrong.  The halibut alone was $56.82.  But, it was worth every bite.

Halibut with Warm Mushroom Salad


6 head baby bok choy, leaves separated and washed
1/2 c water
4 T soy sauce
4 T white wine
2 t fresh ginger, minced
2 lbs halibut, divided into four pieces

for the mushroom salad:

4 T olive oil
6 c mixed mushrooms, coarsely chopped
4 T white wine
1/2 c soy sauce
6 T rice wine vinegar
1 T fresh ginger, minced
2 T chives, chopped very finely
juice of one lime


In a large skillet - preferably one that has a lid - lay the bok choy.  Let it steam uncovered for a few minutes until it's softened just a bit.  While it's steaming, make the sauce with the soy sauce, white wine and ginger.  Then, lay a piece of fish on each leaf or piece of bok choy.  Pour the sauce over, cover and steam until the fish is flaky - about 6 minutes.  In another skillet, heat the olive oil then sauté the mushrooms.  Make the dressing and set it aside.  To plate the dish, put a fish filet with it's bok choy in the center of the plate.  Scatter some warm mushroom salad over then pour on some of the mushroom salad dressing.

The other recipe we made was for Japanese eggplant with a peanut butter sauce.  Connie got kind of a funny look on his face when he started eating it.  I said, "What's up?"  He said, "This is turd sauce."  I'm thinking ooops, he really doesn't like this stuff.  Then, he goes on to say, "You could put this on a turd and it'd taste good."  Ok then, we have turd sauce.  I'm still laughing at that one!!!

Japanese Eggplant with Peanut Soy Sauce


2 eggplants, cut lengthwise into 1 1/2" thick slices
2 T peanut butter (I used crunchy since that's what we have on hand)
1 1/2 T soy sauce
1 1/2 T sake (or dry white wine)
1/2 t sugar
1/4 t chipotle chili powder


The recipe called for steaming the eggplant slices in the microwave for 2-3 minutes, then rinsing under cold water to stop the cooking.  Then, it called for mixing the sauce in a small saucepan on medium heat for five minutes.  I first tried grilling the eggplant and when that didn't work, I sautéed it.  Next time I'll steam it! 

Friday, April 22, 2016

Deconstructed Pesto

Morels are finally in season.  In years past, we trudged out to the Mansfield Mushroom Festival.  Once to find they had virtually no morels.  Not fun when it's a couple hours drive from Indy.  Then we discovered a place close to home called Locally Grown Gardens.  They're very reliable about having morels.  We were in business! 

Early this week we thought it was about time AND we were going to be home for dinner - one of four evenings in April that we were scheduled to be home alone together for dinner.  Connie called Locally Grown Gardens and they were out.  BIG pout on my part!  But, they said they'd have more later.  We were scheduled to head to Civic Theatre on Friday for Fiddler on the Roof.  Typically we'd eat at Divvy or Matt the Millers or someplace on the way.  But with morels in the picture we decided to stay home.  Now, the fact that we'd not been to the grocery for two weeks and there wasn't much fresh in the house didn't dissuade us.  Not at all.  I figured something would present itself.  After all, when I finally got home from my Greenwood office at 7:30 on Thursday Connie managed to make a fabulous cheese and pickle plate to go with a bit of shrimp cocktail. 

On the way home from the office I thought about the options.  Mom's noodles with parsley and cheese came to mind.  That'd go just fine with morels.  Then, when I got home and realized the basil from Bradley's herb crepes was still fine two weeks later (who'd have thought that!) I changed plans a bit and decided to make deconstructed pesto.  There wasn't enough basil for real pesto and I didn't want to deal with the blender and the mess.  So, into the simmering water went two servings of whole wheat thin spaghetti.  Then, in a small skillet I put a tablespoon each of olive oil and butter.  About a quarter of a cup of pine nuts and a tablespoon of chopped garlic followed. 

I let the pine nuts and garlic get nice and brown then tossed the cooked and drained spaghetti with them.  Dry.  I added a tablespoon of butter.  Better but I'd still have preferred regular spaghetti.  Into the mix went about half a cup of finely grated parmesan and an equal amount of chopped basil. 

I tossed the whole deal and served it then added more grated cheese at the table.

What did we think?  Morels are just so sublime!  It would be impossible to top them.  But, the deconstructed pesto was very good.  Something that I'll make again once we have our own fresh basil.  And, yes, that will be soon.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Homerun Dinner

When an eight year old requests herb crepes with ham and cheese and hollandaise sauce, Grammie makes the dish.  We had headed over to Columbus, OH to celebrate grandson Bradley's 8th birthday.  Because we were going to get there late on Saturday and then spend all day Sunday at various sporting events, the only cooking I'd done was a worm cake.  More on that later...  Saturday evening went as planned.  Dinner at the Dublin Village Tavern.  Home of the incredible Village Chowder that I've semi-successfully duplicated.  And, the Irish eggrolls with corned beef.  That I can only wish I could duplicate!  Sunday morning was a hockey game.  Fortunately that was inside since the weather was more than a little nippy.  Said weather meant that part of Sunday's activities were cancelled.  That also meant that we'd be at the house for long enough for me to fix lunch.  Bradley confessed to Grampie that what he really wanted was the crepe dish I'd fixed when we visited for Rosie's birthday.  That morning I'd made the crepes for the adults and strawberry pancakes with cake sprinkles for the kids.  Bradley and his mama traded plates and both were VERY happy.  Herb crepes necessitated a trip to the grocery.  Thin sliced ham, Dubliner cheese (gruyere works,) butter and eggs for the hollandaise, and five packages of fresh herbs: oregano, thyme, basil, chives and rosemary.  I made Mom's blender hollandaise to nap them.  And, on the side a salad with baby kale, spinach, chard and beets topped with tomatoes, carrots, cucumber, mushrooms and a Greek vinaigrette.  Dessert was the worm cake. 

Here's the short version of how to make the crepes...  Assemble your herb batter.  I've used two different recipes and the first was the best.  That's the one I can't put my hands on...  The second was Bobby Flay's recipe.  It was good.  Just not as good.  Put the batter in the fridge to rest for an hour.  Grate a good pile of sharp cheese.  I used Dubliner this time because I didn't see Gruyere.  Lay the thin sliced ham in a skillet.  Make the blender hollandaise and set it aside. Once you start making the crepes, turn the heat on the skillet to VERY low.  You just want to warm the ham, not cook it.  As the crepes come off the heat, sprinkle each with about 1/4 cup of shredded cheese and top the cheese with a slice of ham or two.  Roll the crepe up and set aside.  As you serve them, nap each crepe with hollandaise.  Photos were scarce thanks to a tight timeline and lack of sous chef :-)

So, I promised I'd tell you about the worm cake.  I made a pound cake in a tube pan.  Once it was turned out and cooled, I cut it in half and arranged it on a foil-lined platter.  Then, I frosted it with a butterscotch ganache.  For the ganache I used butterscotch morsels and made the ganache stiffer than the chocolate ganache on the mounds bars.  Then, I made some buttercream frosting, dyed it green and drizzled it over the cake.  Gumdrops went on as did some licorice stings and M and M's for eyes. 

Now, the moral of the story is that I had five packages of leftover herbs.  Herbs are expensive.  I hate to waste them.  That meant figuring out a way to use them up.  My first thought was an herb salad I'd made a couple of years ago.  It was fabulous.  But, it called for mint which I didn't have.  Then, I started thinking about herb pasta.  Then, inspiration struck in the form of a cookbook I'd picked up at Goodwill.  On Thursday three appointments rescheduled.  One fellow had to drive to Huntsville, AL.  Another had a mother-in-law who was on the verge of being hospitalized.  And, the third works PRN and got a gig.  All of the sudden I was free to run three errands on the west side of town.  So, I headed west.  As I was heading from Mom's to The Garden Center I spied the Goodwill.  And, I couldn't resist.  Among several cookbooks was one titled The Frugal Foodie Cookbook.  It was a paperback so it was 99 cents.  Sold.  Friday morning I started leafing thru that one on the way to the office.  Connie drives.  I read cookbooks.  Nice deal, huh?   One of the first recipes I saw was garden salad with lemon herb dressing.  Friday we actually escaped the office for lunch.  Turns out we needed to deliver something to Mom's CPA and they're a hop, skip and a jump from Caplingers Fish Market.  Our go-to for anything fish or seafood.  We stopped and got cod sandwiches for lunch and a flounder fillet for dinner.  And, smoked tuna salad for Saturday's lunch. 

We got home Friday evening and debated.  Yard or house?  We'd worked our fingers to the bone in the yard on Thursday evening.  Our neighbor, Christina, had (totally tongue in cheek) come over and said, "I thought you guys were going to plant some bulbs?"  Here's what she was looking at when she said that.  LOL. 

Connie wanted to get the gladiolas planted.  I wanted to get the house straightened.  So, since we'd done yard the day before, we worked on straightening the house and fixing dinner.  I pulled out Mark Bittman's FISH cookbook and hunted for something simple for the flounder.  Broiled flatfish with mustard and thyme sounded perfect.  The rosemary would be perfect with red potatoes.  And, the rest of the herbs would go into a salad dressing.  But, I wanted to use hearts of palm and not bell peppers, carrots and the like.  What would complement the hearts of palm and the herb dressing?????  Ah, yes, beets.  Connie found a can of julienne beets.  We were in business.  I started the potatoes, then made the dressing and tossed the vegetables in to marinate.  Then, I made the sauce for the fish and worked on cleaning up the kitchen while the potatoes got happy.  As soon as the fish went under the broiler, I shredded, rinsed and dried some romaine lettuce.  That was topped with the marinated vegetables. 

What did we think?  We loved the fish.  The sauce was the perfect complement.  Not so much that it overpowered the fish but enough that it added some pizzazz.  The dressing, too, was perfect.  The Dijon and sugar took the edge off the citrus but still allowed the herbs to shine.  I will say that the original recipe called for dill, tarragon, cilantro, parsley and green onion.  I used oregano, thyme, basil and shallot.  Connie was a bit scandalized at my wanton substitution but it worked just fine. 

Lemon Herb Dressing

4 T fresh herbs (I used basil, oregano and thyme and because they're so strong used 3T instead)
1 T green onion or shallot
1/2 c extra virgin olive oil
3 T lemon juice
1 t sugar
1 t Dijon mustard


Mince the herbs and shallot.  Mix with the other ingredients.

Broiled Flatfish with Mustard and Thyme


2 lbs flatfish fillets (flounder, plaice, dab, sole)
1 T oil or melted butter ( I omitted this)
1/3 c Dijon mustard
1 T sugar (sounds like a lot, trust me, it works)
1 t minced fresh thyme
1 T fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste


Preheat your broiler.  Mix the mustard, sugar, thyme and lemon juice.  Put the fish on a broiling pan.  (I couldn't find the rack so mine went in sans rack...)  Slather the fish with the oil or butter or omit that if you'd like.  Slather the fish with the mustard sauce.  Broil for about 6 minutes or until the fish flakes.  The recipe says you can also bake it at 450.  I loved the little bit of caramelization that the broiling caused so would recommend that over baking...

adapted from FISH by Mark Bittmann

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Endive Salad with Blackberry Vinaigrette

Spring has sprung!  Today new sage plants went in.  As did a new thyme plant.  Last year's thyme is coming back.  We have real chives.  And, the mint is just starting to show.  Crocuses are blooming and daffodils are threatening to.  Our first spring at our new house and we're having fun seeing what's coming up.  We brought starts from the old house, got starts from friends and bought a few plants on close out last season.  Now, we get to see how they look!

Since we were working in the yard, dinner needed to be really easy.  The entrée was a stew that just didn't turn out as I'd have liked.  The rest of that went down the disposal.  As did half of our dinner servings.  Thank goodness for the star of the show - Endive Salad with Blackberry Vinaigrette. 

On Saturday I went over to Mom's to help her with her taxes.  Then, since I was on the west side anyway I headed south to the Garden Center.  It's locally owned and we really like the folks there.  AND, they've got great plants.  So, it's worth the trip.  Well, on the way I decided I'd stop at the Goodwill and see what kind of cookbooks they had at that one.  In addition to a couple of others, I found Lee Bailey's Long Weekends.  Loads of recipes that we'll try.  Like a mango gazpacho with shrimp and grapefruit and jalapeno ice.  Or, a chopped celery, apple and pear salad.  I'm just going to start cooking my way through this cookbook.  First up was the endive salad. We stopped at Artisano's on Saturday to get hostess gifts.  I bought matching sets for myself.  One was blackberry ginger balsamic for this recipe.  They paired it with Persian Lime EVOO.  So even though the recipe called for regular EVOO, I used the Persian Lime.  I also shaved just a little bit of blue cheese onto the salads.  Were they ever good!  I've got enough left for tomorrow - YAY!  Here's how the recipe worked:

Endive Salad with Blackberry Vinaigrette


6 T olive oil (I used Persian Lime EVOO)
3 T blackberry vinegar (I used blackberry ginger balsamic)
1/2 t kosher salt
1/4 t freshly ground black pepper
1 t Dijon mustard
1 T finely minced shallot
8 large blackberries plus two more per serving
blue cheese - optional
Belgian endive, separated into spears


Mix the vinegar, salt, pepper, mustard and shallot. 

Smoosh the eight blackberries and mix them in.  Slowly drizzle in the EVOO, stirring constantly.  Put the endive spears on plates, top each serving with a tablespoon of the dressing, a couple of the other blackberries and a shaving of blue cheese.

adapted from Lee Bailey's Long Weekends

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

New Potato Salad Tartare

It's time for Blogger C.L.U.E. Society :-)  Our theme is Easter.  Of course the first thing that comes to mind is eggs.  But, then as I read Kathy's blog I started thinking that Easter conjures up so many great memories.  Brunch.  Family dinners.  Another thing I realized as I read Kathy's blog is that a good number of the recipes aren't posted because they're from cookbooks that she's part of a group cooking their way through.  I was reading the chocolate panna cotta blog and absolutely drooling when I realized she wouldn't be posting the recipe.  Ditto on the pear, pecan and blue cheese salad.  And the steak with mustard butter.  Oh, my.  I may just have to add to my cookbook collection.  I'm going to be dreaming about that chocolate panna cotta.  And, I'm not a dessert fanatic by any stretch of the imagination.  Then, I started getting into the posts with recipes.  Pumpkin beer bread.  I'd like that toasted, please.  And, zucchini ricotta tart with tomato jam.  You ought to see that.  Actually, click this link and you can:  Zucchini ricotta tart.  Doesn't that look scrumptious????  Then, there are three recipes from River Cottage Veg:  Potato, Green Bean and Olive Salad; Marinated Cucumbers with Mint; and Israeli Couscous Salad with Herbs and Walnuts.  The latter is the one I'm most anxious to try.  In the last couple of years we've grown addicted to Israeli couscous.  The only dish where I've not enjoyed it was in a mushroom bisque at one of my favorite restaurants.  As I told the waiter when he inquired, I thought it became slimy.  That's why the right dressing is so important.  Then, I found the post with the beet greens and ricotta tart.  I'll bet it'd be equally good with Swiss chard.  It's going on my list to make as soon as the farmer's markets have great greens.  Oh, and I found THE ONE.  MY recipe.  New Potato Salad Tartare.  In my world eggs must have the whites fully cooked.  But I do love the yolks soft.  And, I confess, I've never thought about using eggs with soft yolks in potato salad.  Talk about an AH HA moment!  It was pretty late at night and I still almost got up and headed to the kitchen to start cooking.  Here's a link so you can see Kathy's gorgeous photography:  New Potato Salad Tartare.  And, suddenly I was back to square one - EGGS!  Yup, I could pretty much cook my way through Kathy's blog - Bakeaway with Me.

So, what did we think?  In spite of the problem with the slightly undercooked whites (hopefully most of you aren't as much of a baby as I am about that!!!) we absolutely LOVED this dish.  It's a twist on a potato salad I've made since the mid 70's and improves it so much.  With the soft egg yolks, the potato salad almost becomes silky.  It's absolutely scrumptious.  Now, I can't wait to have a cookout and serve this for company.  Who's coming over?

Here's the recipe:
New Potato Salad Tartare


2 lbs small red potatoes, trimmed and quartered
3 large eggs
2 T plus 1 t fine sea salt, divided
2 T capers
1 T finely chopped cornichons or gherkins
1 rib celery, very finely chopped (I added this)
1/4 c finely chopped fresh parsley
1/4 c finely chopped fresh dill (our grocery was out so I didn't substitute...)
2 T finely chopped fresh chives
1/2 t freshly ground black pepper

1 T red wine or apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 t Dijon mustard
1/2 t fine sea salt
1/4 t freshly ground black pepper
3 T extra virgin olive oil


Mix the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.  In a medium saucepan with water and 2T of salt, cook the potatoes until they're tender.  While they're cooking, bring another medium saucepan of water to a rolling boil.  Carefully lower the eggs into the water using a slotted spoon.  Cook them for seven minutes then immediately put the eggs into an ice bath.  Full disclosure here...  I went over by two minutes and the whites were still a little too soft for me.  There was some scraping going on before I'd put them in the salad...  When the potatoes are tender, drain them and immediately toss them with the dressing.  Add the capers, cornichon, herbs and celery and carefully toss.  When the eggs are done, gently fold them into the mix.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

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