Pear, Bresaloa and Chevre with Onion Vinaigrette and Garlic Spears

Salad with Pears, Dried Beef (Bresaola) and Garlic Spears

This was an easy layered salad that took just 5 minutes to make. This is a recipe for two salads as I had company.

I took one pear and sliced thin wedges and layered them in the bottom of a small bowl. On top of that I placed a layer of sliced air-dried beef (Bresaloa). This is from Roget’s Meats in Hubbard, Oregon, and a gift from a friend of mine, but any large city should have it on sale somewhere or you can order it online. It’s more common on the east coast than on the West Coast. On top of that I crumbled a bit of chevre. I cut the tops off two garlic spears. I then cut the spears in half lengthwise and chopped the long stem into 1/4 long pieces and sprinkled on top.

I had some onion vinaigrette that I made a few weeks ago and dressed the salad with that. I took the tops of the garlic shoots, cut them in half and removed the inside and used the outside for garnish.

The sweet pear, garlic and onion vinaigrette were great balances to the rich, heady taste of the dried beef and the chevre. It was an easy, delicious salad that took very little time to make and made a strong visual and flavor impression

Salad with Pears, Dried Beef (Bresaola) and Garlic Spears

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Spring Strawberry Salad

Strawberries, Apple and Chevre Salad

It’s springtime and there were fresh strawberries at New Seasons. I decided to make a lovely salad with it.

I washed and tore up 5 romaine leaves to make a bed for the salad. I sliced up half a Gala apple and layered it over the lettuce. Then I cut two strawberries up and made a layer with them. I crumbled up about 1 ounce of chevre on top of that and tossed on a few toasted almonds. To dress the salad, I squeezed some lemon juice on top with a splash of olive oil. A bit of fresh grated pepper finished it off.

It’s fresh, sweet and the fruit and chevre are a perfect combination. The tartness of the lemon and pepper balance the flavors.

Watermelon Rind Chutney

Pork Chop with Watermelon Rind Chutney and Roasted Veggies

I love watermelon. It is my favorite fruit by far. My parents used to have a video of my toddler self eating watermelon in the wading pool in just a diaper with watermelon juice running down my chest. There was a particularly hilarious one of me eating a slice that is wider than my head and tipping back to get a purchase and falling over. So over the course of a summer I eat my fair share of watermelon and always feel so wasteful throwing away all that rind. So I got it into my head to try making something with the rind. Just as an experiment. I read a bunch of recipes and they all made some sense to me in terms of flavor profiles, so I was ready to give it a shot. I decided on this recipe from Epicurious, but I adapted it to my own taste. It sounded sweeter than I would like so I increased the vinegar, decreased the sugar and added more heat.

Rind from a large watermelon, peeled and cut into strips.
2 cups cider vinegar
1 cup water
1 cups lime-infused sugar (I make lime sugar by zesting 2 limes into 1/2 pound of sugar and baking at 250 for a few hours and then grinding it back into small pieces with the bottom of a cup.) You could just add lime zest independently.
2 TBSP minced peeled fresh ginger
2 tablespoons chopped dried red peppers
1 TBSP minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 TBSP black peppercorns, coarsely crushed with flat side of a large knife

Bring it all to a boil, simmer for about an hour until the watermelon looks transparent. Remove from heat and store in airtight container for a few days before using. It’s an amazing blend of sweet and tart and spicy heat. Very delicious. It makes about a quart or so, so I gave half away as a gift for a friend.

Serving Suggestion:

I pan-fryed a pork chop and added some of the chutney and served with some simple roasted vegetables. For the veggies, I just sprinkled a little olive oil on them, added some kosher salt and baked at 450 until the began to caramelize. I think it might make a fabulous sweet and sour sauce for pork or chicken with rice. It should be delicious with lamb kebabs and of course, almost any Indian food.

Roasted Garlic Tops & Fresh Asparagus Salad with Pears, Parmesan and Dried Beef

Roasted Garlic Tops & Salad

This takes less than 15 minutes to prepare. Turn your oven to broil. Rinse the garlic tops and put in a roasting pan with a bit of olive oil sprinkled on them and some kosher salt. Pop them in the oven and get moving, you have 10 minutes maximum to make the salad.

Start heating a dry pan on a medium burner. Chop some almonds and toss them on to toast.

Using a vegetable peeler, peel 5 fresh, raw asparagus into thin strips. Cut one half a pear and arrange along the side. Top with a few pieces of parmesan (I peeled them off with the peeler) and a few pieces of dried beef. All freshly ground pepper, a squeeze of lemon juice from half a lemon, some olive juice and sprinkle on the toasted almonds.

Now grab those fresh garlic shoots and serve on the side with the salad.

Fresh Garlic tops

Like any roasted vegetable, fresh garlic shoots are a revelation. They are infused with garlicky goodness and will love a bit of lemon and salt. There’s such a tiny window in the year for this amazing dish that you should run to your local market and get some before they’re gone. The salad is a mix of the freshness of the asparagus with the sweet pears and tart lemon juice, the heartiness of the almonds and parmesan and the rich flavorful umami of the dried beef. It’s amazingly delicious.

Chicken and Kale Soup

Chicken & Kale Soup

Normally I would use olive oil to start my soup, but I had some bacon fat from breakfast. I have to count that fat for my diabetes management, so you know darn well, I am going to use the rendered fat for something else. I heated it up and poured it in the stock pot and turned the burner to medium. I chopped up a large yellow onion (about 2 cups of chopped onion) and minced 4 large cloves of garlic and let them cook until the onions were transparent. Meanwhile I rinsed a whole fryer in water under the faucet and removed the organ meat and neck from the insides. I use rinse to make it clear that you do not use soap – which one of the Real Housewives used for her roast chicken.

I put the chicken in the pot and added enough water to cover it completely, turned the heat up to med. high to bring it to a boil. I tossed in two bay leaves and added salt and pepper. One it began to boil, I turned it down to a simmer (4 on my stove) and let it cook until the meat fell off the bone. I then put it in a colander inside of a bowl to cool off enough for me to remove the meat from the bones. I reserved all the white meat to use in salad and sandwiches and returned the dark meat to the soup. All the meat from an entire chicken is just too much meat relative to veggies and this way I get more meals from it. At this point, the soup can go in any direction. I decided to go for a kale-chicken soup because I saw one of the kale leaves had turned yellow and I wanted to use the rest of the kale before it turned.

Kale likes a certain heartiness and needs some acid so that it does not become bitter. So, I added a can of diced cooked tomatoes for the acid. I used canned only because I had already used the fresh tomatoes I bought. Otherwise I would have added two tomatoes, chopped. I added some sweet potatoes julienned on the mandoline and then cut into smaller thirds. I rinsed, removed the stems and cut the kale in narrow strips. I tossed this all in at the same time and grated about 1 tsp of fresh nutmeg over the pot. The aroma was heavenly.

In about 20 minutes it was done and ready to serve. On day two, the aroma and heady flavor is even more intense.

This makes about 12 servings, so you will have to store it in containers.

Watermelon & Feta Salad

Watermelon Salad with Feta and Mint

This salad is inspired by Aarti Sequeira’s salad for Food Network, but I have changed it slightly.

I cut up 1 watermelon and 1 cantaloupe into 1 inch pieces. As I cut them up, I put them into my giant colander inside a large mixing bowl so that the juice dripped into the bowl. While removing the rind from the watermelon, I set it to one side to use for a watermelon chutney. I left the fruit to drain into the bowl for an hour.

Coming back, I poured the melon juice into a glass for a lovely glass of juice. However, I took 2 tbsp of the juice and put it in a small bowl with 1 tbsp of raw buckwheat honey and stirred and stirred and stirred until the honey was blended with the juice. I then juiced two limes into the bowl and 2 generous pinches of sumac. I cleaned and chopped about 1/2 cup of fresh mint and added it to the bowl. I mixed these together and dressed the watermelon. I put it all in a plastic container to marinate a bit.

When serving, I just spooned some salad in the bowl and sprinkled feta on top. I do not mix the feta in with the salad until serving because I don’t want it to soften in the dressing.

Watermelon is my favorite fruit. I honestly thought nothing could improve on watermelon. Watermelon is so delicious it hardly needs anything to make it better, but the tartness of the sumac and the bright mint and sour lemon and that hearty buckwheat honey are just amazing together and then the bit of feta. There really can be something better than watermelon.

Not a BLT Sandwich

Bacon, Roasted Pepper and Basil sandwich with Wheatberry Salad

So a friend posted this fabulous looking Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato sandwich the other day that made me want one so much. However, I only eat tomatoes when they are cooked or in an acidic dressing that breaks down whatever protein in raw tomatoes that I am allergic to, so BLTs are never on the menu. I decided, though, to try to make something that looked like a BLT.

So, for the red, I used a roasted red pepper. Now, if you have a bunch of red peppers, it’s easiest to roast them in the oven. But for just one, or in this case, just one slice of red pepper, it’s easier to roast it using your stove top burners. And yes, you can do it with an electric burner. Think of it as a game show and the smoke alarm is the buzzer, you want to turn your exhaust up on high. Using tongs, place the pepper directly on the burner turned up to high. It will begin to char and then the trick is to turn before it bursts into flame – kind of like roasting marshmallows. If it does burst into flame, just pull it off the burner and blow it out. It’s a good idea to remove any towels or paper towels from the counter by the stove before cooking the peppers just in case you are are easily startled and drop the pepper on the counter. If you keep a keen eye on the roasting, though, it won’t flame up, but even if it does, it’s simple to blow it out. The trick is to simply be calm, this is easier than roasting marshmallows since there’s no gummy, drippy stuff to drip onto the burner. Let it cool and peel the charred outer skin off. It should remove easily.

Then I cut three pieces of bacon in half. Two might have been enough, but I was making a generous sandwich. I put them in an iron skillet on med high to fry. Meanwhile, I cut a ciabatta bun in half and toasted it.

I took 1 small clove of garlic and minced it and stirred it into some mayo to spread on the bun. I washed and dried some fresh basil leaves and spread them on one side of the bun and placed the roasted red pepper on the other. I let the finished bacon drip dry on some paper towel and placed it on the bun.

I served with the wheatberry salad I like to make. I used a small bowl for the salad because I hate when salad dressing seeps over onto my bun.

Okay, this sandwich is dangerously delicious. Basil and garlic mayonnaise? Roasted red pepper? Honestly, it almost does not need the bacon! Almost!

Pork Loin Bruschetta with Basil-Feta Farfalle

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This is super easy and about 15 minutes from start to finish. First I heated my iron skillet to medium with a TBSP of olive oil. I took a pork tenderloin and laid it in the skillet to cook. Then I sliced off a 1/4 inch or thinner slice off a medium yellow onion and chopped it fine. I also minced on large clove of garlic. I took half the garlic and all the onion and added it to the skillet, away from the pork loin chop and let is saute in the oil.

Meanwhile, I put on a kettle of water to boil on high.

I chopped one mushroom into small pieces and added that to the skillet. While it cooked, I chopped up one small tomato and added it. By now, the water was boiling so I added 1/2 of dried farfalle pasta.

While it boiled, I turned the tenderloin to cook on the other side, added salt and pepper and continued to watch and stir the onions/mushrooms/tomatoes mix.

I took two large leaves of basil and rolled them up like a cigarette and cut them in very thin strips (chiffonade). By now the loin chop was done, so I put it on the plate to rest.

The farfalle cooks quickly so I tested it for doneness a few times and removed as soon as it was tender. I added 1 tsp of olive oil, the half a clove of minced garlic I saved back from the skillet, stirred that in with and oz of crumbled feta and the chiffonade basil. I dished that up on the plate next to the pork and then put the bruschetta mix (which is usually put on bread and baked) and spread that on top of the loin chop.

The flavors all work beautifully together. The pasta with the basil and feta has a sharp, bright flavor. The pork loin with the bruschetta is hearty and full of umami savoriness. Mixing the bruschetta with the pasta is a delight.

Savory Grapefruit Supreme Salad

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First I cut a few thin slices of yellow onion and put them in a bowl of 2 tbsp regular vinegar and 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar. I sliced as much onion as would be fully covered, knowing that even though I will only use a few pieces for this salad, the rest will be great for other salads or on an omelette or potatoes.

I laid down a bed of greens, using the pea shoots. It took 4 shoots, removing the leaves except for at the very top because the tendrils look so pretty. I then peeled and supremed a grapefruit. See below on how to supreme a grapefruit. I spread a few of the slices of onion on top. I cut up 4 Castelvetrano olives and spread them on top as well. I used Castelvetrano because they have such a rich, buttery flavor that will work well with the citrus acidity of the grapefruit. I sprinkled a little bit of feta on top, drizzled a bit of olive oil, some salt and fresh ground black pepper. At the end, I took one small dried red chili pepper and crushed it and sprinkled the flakes on top.

The flavor is delicious with a super fresh spring flavor coming from the pea shoots which taste like peas right out of the garden. The blend of buttery olives, feta, lightly pickled onions and grapefruit is marvelous and the bit of heat from the red pepper flakes is a perfect note to end it on.

How to Supreme a Grapefruit:
Peel the grapefruit. It may seem redundant since you will be cutting off the pith anyway, but it makes it easier to see what you are doing. Cut off one end of the grapefruit so it gives you a flat edge. Using a fine knife (I use a boning knife) cut just inside the pith, removing all of it. You should not throw the pith away, though, but go ahead and eat it. It is not that bitter and strengthens your nails like nobody’s business. Now cut inside the lines of the wedge, removing the segments with no skin for a lovely grapefruit supreme.

Here’s a video: She does not peel first and that may be easier, but I like to eat the pith.

Lamb Stew

Lamb Stew

Grab your stock pot and put 1 TBSP of olive oil on the bottom and put on medium heat. Add one onion, chopped, and 3 cloves of garlic, minced. Let cook until tender, toss in 1 cardamom pod, crushed and chopped fine. Toast in the oil before adding a small lamb shank (about 1 pound). Brown the lamb shank on each side and then add 2 quarts of water, 2 small cans of chopped tomatoes (or 3 fresh tomatoes) and cover and bring to a boil. Toss in 2 bay leaves and reduce to a simmer and allow to simmer for an hour or more until lamb falls off the bone.

Meanwhile, chop up 1 pound of potatoes into 1 inch cubes and snap 1 pound of fresh green beans. When the lamb is tender, remove from the pot and let cool. Add the potatoes and green beans and allow that to cook while you remove the lamb from the bone and cut into 1 inch pieces for the stew. Add the meat back in along with 1/2 of freshly grated nutmeg and 1 TBSP of turmeric.

This is a very aromatic stew, with a savory blend of meat and potatoes set off by the sweetness of tomatoes and the bright heat of cardamom and nutmeg all held together with the deep flavor of turmeric.

You can take fresh basil leaves and roll them into a cigar and chiffonade the basil to sprinkle on top of the stew when you serve. That’s completely optional. You can also add a dollop of sour cream if you like.

This makes 8 to 10 servings so you will have to store in the fridge for later meals.