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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.

And, please take a few minutes to visit my friends who've posted some great recipes!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Pasta with Mushroom Cream Sauce

Spring and the flu.  Not a fun combo.  The flu isn't fun whenever you have it.  But, at least in the winter you can totally hibernate under the covers.  Spring's a bit too warm for that.  At first I thought maybe I had listeria from a blue cheese we inhaled and THEN found out was recalled.  But, then Connie got sick just as I was improving.  So, who knows what it really was.  At this point what matters is that we're both feeling better.  No more banana and water days.  We were ready for a real meal.  Nothing spicy.  Nothing fancy.  Just some nice tortellini and mushroom sauce.  I've never been big on the white sauces.  Tomatoes are my addiction.  Yes, my dirty little secret is that if I need to work late on the evenings that Connie plays bridge, he goes through the drive-up window and I sit down in my chair with a jar of Trader Joe's Arrabiata sauce and a spoon.  Seriously.  That's only about once a quarter but it's often enough to scratch that particular itch as my father would have said.  Needless to say, tomato sauce didn't sound good to Connie.  He'd graduated to chicken broth for lunch but this was going to be his first real meal.  So, I created a white sauce.  I used what was easily accessible and not what was the least for the old calorie count.  The good news is that it made about six servings of sauce...

Mushroom Cream Sauce


2 T butter
2 T flour
8 oz white wine
4 oz cream cheese
1 c cream (or you can substitute broth, water, lowfat milk... to lower the calorie count)
2 g grated gruyere
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
1 T olive oil


Saute the mushrooms in the olive oil while you're making the sauce.  Melt the butter.  Stir in the flour.  Cook for a few minutes until it's lightly browned.  Slowly whisk in the wine.  Reduce the heat to low.  Add the cream cheese and allow it to melt in.  Stir in the gruyere then the mushrooms.  Serve with your choice of pasta sauce. 

So, that was dinner.  And, it tasted pretty darned good.  We've been on a kick of using the Food52 Genius Recipes cookbook.  It's actually pretty good.  I'm not a huge fan of their site because I find it clunky.  There are too many bloggers with fabulous and easy to use sites for me to deal with one that's clunky.  Two other examples of clunky (in my book) are Food Network and Martha Stewart.  Either they take a ton of clicks to get where you want to go or  they don't easily get you back when you finish with a recipe.  With me it's easy to get to or I'm on to something else.  In spite of that, when we both picked up the same cookbook at Costco to look at, I figured I'd give it a try.  The first recipe was Connie's to claim:  granola.  It was (and is) amazing. 

Then, I tried a butternut squash salad with kale.  It fell flat.  I wound up sautéing everything the next evening to rescue it.  Then, there was a very simple green lentil salad.  I made MUCH less than it called for but we wound up with green lentils in what felt like everything for a week.  That was ok because they were fabulous.  I'd never used anything but the larger brown lentils.  Now, I'm officially hooked on the green ones!  And, there were pork burgers with roasted red bell pepper sauce.  YUM!

The other fun happening was a trip to Columbus to celebrate Rosie's 6th birthday.  We got to watch both kids play hockey.  And, we made some killer strawberry buttermilk ice cream from the Jeni's book.  Unfortunately, I never got photos taken...  Here are a couple of photos from the weekend: