Posts Tagged ‘Recipe’

Holiday Salad


kale sald with apple, pomegranate and parmesan

I’d eat my mom’s winter salad almost any day of the week.  Imagine mixed greens with crunchy green apple, spiced pecans, ruby-red pomegranates and a tangy apple cider viniagrette.   Looks gorgeous on a holiday table.   But sometimes, especially when I’ve been eating gravy and garlic-mashed potatoes, buttery Parker rolls and cornbread stuffing, I yearn for an even greener salad.

You know where I’m going with this, right?

kale salad

Kale!  Our favorite wonder green.

Kale salad with pomegranates

Kale Salad with green apple, pomegranate seeds and Parmesan

Serves 6

Ingredients for dressing

2 tablespoons diced shallots

1 Tablespoon honey or agave

1 teaspoon Dijon

2 Tablespoons cider vinegar

3 tablespoons olive oil


Combine all ingredients in a blender or cuisinart.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Ingredients for salad

3 heads kale, washed, ribs removed and cut into chiffonade (both Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods sell pre-cut kale)

1 pinch salt

1 pomegranate

1 green apple

1/2 lemon

Parmesan cheese, for shaving

Pecans, toasted or Sugar and Spice Pecans


Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add a pinch of salt.  Prepare an ice bath by filling a large bowl halfway with a combination of ice and water.  Set beside stove.

Add the cut kale to the water and blanch until bright green, just 1 minute and no longer.  Use tongs or a slotted spoon and remove kale to the ice bath.  We usually make our salads with raw kale but in this instance I like the brighter color and the way in which blanching sweetens the greens and makes them easier to digest.

While the kale cools, grab an apron or large dishrag and cut your pomegranate in half horizontally.  Leaning over the sink or a large bowl, use your fingers to gently loosen the pomegranate seeds from the white pulp.  Set seeds aside and discard pulp. Cut your apple into matchsticks and toss with lemon juice.

Drain the kale and dry in a salad spinner.  This will take a few spins. Reserving a tablespoon, massage the dressing into your greens thirty minutes before serving.  Just before serving, toss the pomegranate seeds and apple slices with the reserved dressing and add to greens.  Top as desired with Parmesan shavings and pecans.


The Apple Pancake


Apple pancake recipe

The Kitchn headline read Weekend Breakfast Recipe: The Apple Pancake.  Not Apple Pancakes but THE Apple Pancake.  I knew the inspiration had to be Walker Brothers.

I’ve talked about Walker Brothers before, but haven’t lavished enough attention on the star of their menu, the apple pancake.  If you’re from Chicago or have visited and eaten an apple pancake you’ll know from the pictures that The Kitchn recipe doesn’t lavish nearly enough caramel on its pancake.  The real apple pancake boasts a heavy crown of buttered apple slices topped with a layer of maple caramel that’s an inch plus thick.  It’s not breakfast, but a treacly, over-the-top dessert.  My mom has confessed that she and my dad would share one for dinner when they were first dating.  It’s the kind of indulgent that works best when you’re still naturally skinny and so in love the calories don’t count.  They probably told themselves it was healthy.  Apples, you know.

I followed the Kitchn recipe and while it didn’t make The Apple Pancake, the one it produces is stunning, delicious and easier to make than a frittata.  It’s also not embarrassingly decadent so it’s doable for friends and very doable for a date night.  A low-cal date night, of course.

Thank you, Elan, for snapping pix while I scrambled to plate it up for our clients.


Homemade Vegetable Stock


Homemade vegetable stock

This was intended to be a post about vegetarian shepherd’s pie.  But I want to give credit where credit is due and that, my friends, is with this rich vegetable stock.

If you think of vegetable stock as thin, brown water that smells bad then you have something in common with the me of one week ago.  But this recipe converted me to a vegetable stock lover. What I miss in a mainly vegetarian household is the smell of something rich and brown and beefy simmering away on a chilly day.  I turned up the radio and tidied my living room while the wine reduced and steamed up my kitchen window and I felt happy in that all’s well, cozy winter way.  That’s why I now love the homemade stuff.

Making homemade vegetable stock

You can find the complete recipe here.  I roasted mushrooms, carrots, 1 onion in its skin (for color), bell pepper, parsley stems and fresh thyme in a little olive oil until deep golden brown.

Making homemade vegetable stock

Then I stirred it on the stovetop with a squirt of tomato paste, letting the pot dry out so the paste broke apart and began caramelizing.

Deglaze with red wine and water, add a bay leaf and let simmer 45 minutes to an hour before straining out the vegetables.

The result is a very rich and deeply savory broth for winter stews and vegetarian gravies.

Vegetarian Shepherd's pie recipe

Here’s the shepherd’s pie with a garlic mashed potato crust.

Vegetarian shepherd's pie

And the vegetables stewing in the rich stock below.

I have a feeling my vegetarian stuffing is going to taste a lot better this Thanksgiving.  Have you made homemade veg stock?


Meatless Monday: Organic Fall Green Smoothie


A slight variation on my favorite healthy breakfast. An organic green smoothie with the star of fall produce, the apple! Trader Joe’s now sells bags of cut and washed kale which makes this smoothie a breeze to whip up in the morning or you can buy frozen kale at Whole Foods. This is the prefect breakfast for your morning commute.


Green Smoothie

Organic Fall Green Smoothie
Serves 2

1 cup organic cucumber, chopped (about half of an English cucumber with the skin on)

1 ripe organic avocado

2 cups organic apples, chopped (skins on)

2 cups organic kale, chopped and tightly packed (washed and dried)

1 cup organic lemonade (or 1 cup fresh squeezed lemons and oranges)

1/2 cup of ice

Puree in a blender until very smooth and bright green. Make sure to blend well as chunks of kale are not so appealing. We like to drink ours with a straw.



Meatless Monday: Fig and Raspberry Crostata


fig tart recipe

This is it, my sweets. The transition point.  Call it summer’s last hurrah or fall’s hello.   At our house we marked the moment with a fig and raspberry crostata.  Jammy and fragrant with crushed almonds, this tart takes all of 5 minutes to assemble.

I thawed a dough ball made from this recipe, placed my pizza stone on the middle rack and preheated the oven to 400 degrees.  You can also use a lined baking sheet, but I got the idea for this tart from Alice Waters’s Chez Panisse Fruit, the beautiful book Lydia gave me for my birthday.  Alice uses a pizza stone for her crostata.

The base of this tart can be used with any fruit.  Mix 1 tablespoon flour, 2 tablespoons sugar and 2 tablespoons ground almonds.  Done.  The almond flavor works beautifully with summer fruit and berries as well as pears and apples when the time comes.  You can change it up with the same amount of ground walnuts.  Whatever floats your boat.   The touch of flour keeps your fruit from getting too runny and the sugar sweetens it all up.

On a piece of parchment paper, roll your dough into a 12-inch round about 1/4- inch thick and sprinkle with your sugar/flour/almond mix, leaving a 1-inch border all the way around.

cut figs

Cut 1 pint fresh figs into quarters the long way. Toss with 2 tablespoons sugar.  Placing each fig on its bottom cut side up, arrange them in concentric circles on your almond base, working from the outside in.  Planting each fig on its chubbiest part gives your tart a little height and creates a pretty layered effect.  Gently fold the extra inch of dough up and over the fruit filling, crimping as you go.

fig tart recipe

Brush your crust with a little melted butter and sprinkle with a tablespoon of sugar.  Transfer the crostata, parchment paper and all, to your preheated pizza stone and bake for 40 minutes, rotating once halfway through baking.  After 40 minutes, toss a few fresh raspberries on top and continue baking until the berries are warm and soft, about 20 minutes more.

fig tart

Enjoy plain or with almond-scented whipped cream.

The verdict? At first I was unhappy with the raspberries.  They detract from the beauty of those crowns of figs.  But taste and you’ll know, the softly sour raspberries are what let you really savor the sweet figs.


Fresh Watermelon Margaritas


Hi friends, we redeveloped our most requested summer drink for The Daily Meal!

Watermelon Margaritas

Our antidote to the post-holiday blues, a margarita that’s just different enough to make any long Thursday feel like the start of a four-day weekend.  We’ve been making these for four years and we still can’t think of a better way to sample summer melons.  When they are perfectly in season, you don’t need the agave, your juice will be sweet enough as is.  Now, where’s the pool?


Watermelon Margaritas with a squeeze of lime

Fresh Watermelon Margaritas
make 1 big pitcher

8 cups fresh chopped organic watermelon, about 1 small seedless
1-1/2 cups premium white tequila
Juice of 5 organic limes, about 2/3 cup
½ cup Triple Sec or Cointreau
2 tablespoons organic agave syrup, to taste

Kosher salt for the rims

Lime wedges and watermelon triangles for garnish

Purée the watermelon cubes in a blender or food processor until smooth. Strain into a pitcher and then add the fresh lime juice, tequila, triple sec and a pinch of salt. Test for sweetness, adding agave syrup if the watermelon juice is not sweet enough. Chill for at least one hour before serving. Mixture will separate so mix well before serving over ice in glasses with salted rims.


Watermelon Margaritas





Butternut Squash and Apple Soup


Few things make me happier than when cookbook authors build suggested menus around a recipe.  It’s so inspiring when they stride off down roads you’d never travel yourself.  Or, even better, when they take you in a familiar direction but add an unexpected twist.  Pull you out of your food rut and remind you that there are things like persimmons in the world just waiting to be used.

This menu doesn’t have persimmons, but reminds me that cheese sandwiches—room temp or grilled— taste better with fruit and that apples and squash pair as beautifully as apples & onions (natch).  Lydia started making this soup for our clients and I’ve been replicating it at home.  It’s an easy fall classic with a little sweater texture in the form of apple fiber.  Teamed with a green apple and Gruyère sandwich with smashed avocado and sprouts on seeded bread (see photo, below) and thin & chewy chocolate chip cookies, it makes a cozy feast for two.


Butternut Squash and Apple Soup
Yield: 6 servings

1 butternut squash, topped, tailed, peeled* and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 yellow onion, roughly chopped
2 firm apples (I like McIntosh or Gala), peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
5 cups vegetable stock

*Once you’ve removed the top and bottom of a butternut squash, it’s easy to peel in long vertical strips using your regular old vegetable peeler.  No knife needed.

Preheat the oven to 400°.

Toss the squash, onion and apples chunks together with the olive oil.  Lightly season with salt and pepper and spread in one even layer on a lined baking sheet.  You may have to use two baking sheets.  Roast until tender but not brown, about 20-25 minutes.

Let vegetables cool slightly before scooping them in batches into your blender.  Add as much stock as is needed to puree each batch into a smooth soup.  Combine your batches and season to taste with salt and pepper.  I top mine with generous grinds of pepper.  The spice warms the whole bowl.

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