Street Corn Caesar Salad on Today’s Menu ‘Board’

Street Corn Caesar Salad on Today’s Menu ‘Board’

I am board obsessed. More and more ideas for food you can beautifully display on wood cutting boards are showcased every day. I just saw a pancake board that looks delicious! For this week’s board idea, I deconstructed my favorite salad into what I call hand salad. Yes, this is salad you can eat with your hands. Think lettuce cups and endive spears filled with salad ingredients.

I merged my classic Caesar salad with street corn filling. Grilled corn is combined with shredded Parmesan cheese and butter cracker crumbs that add the texture of croutons. Truth here; I found a packet of cornbread crisps and crushed those for crumbs in another version of this dish, and it was also delish! Actual cornbread crumbs, toasted in butter, would be yummy too!

I’ve served this dish as a salad first course, and as a hand salad on an appy board. Both were well received. Hand salads open the doors to your creativity. Check out your fridge and pantry to see what you can stuff into a leaf of Romaine lettuce. Let me know what you come up with!

Street Corn Caesar Salad

Serves 4

30 minute cuisine

For Caesar dressing:

5 to 6 garlic cloves, peeled

½ cup balsamic vinegar

¼ cup red wine vinegar

Juice of 1 medium lemon, about 3 tablespoons

1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 (2-ounce) tin anchovies, packed in oil, drained

½ cup olive oil

1 teaspoon Kosher salt

1 teaspoon coarse black pepper

For corn filling:

4 ears corn

20 butter crackers, smashed, about ½ cup crumbs

4 ounces Parmesan cheese, shredded, about 1 cup

For salad:

2 heads Romaine lettuce

Place the garlic, vinegars, lemon juice, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and anchovies into the bowl of a food processor (or blender). Pulse to emulsify. With the machine running, slowly pour in the olive oil. Taste and season with some of the salt and pepper.

Pour the dressing into a re-sealable container. You will have more than you need. The dressing will keep in the fridge for two weeks (or more).

Place the corn onto a grill and cook, turning until the kernels are golden brown. Depending on the grill type, this will take several minutes. Remove the corn and cool until you can cut the kernels from the cobs into a bowl. Add the cracker crumbs and half of the cheese. Drizzle two tablespoons of the dressing over the corn filling and toss.

Cut each head of lettuce in half. Lay the lettuce onto a platter. Spoon the corn dressing over the cut side of the lettuce, stuffing it into the leaves. Drizzle with additional dressing, just moistening the leaves (you don’t want to drown the salad in dressing). Top with the remaining cheese and additional black pepper.

Overboard Tip:

Turn this salad into a finger food by separating some of the inner leaves from the romaine head of lettuce. Place these leaves onto your board. Spoon some of the corn filling into the center of the leaves. The Romaine leaves act as cups to hold the filling. Perfect finger food! Can you find it on the board depicted above? I gotta tell ya, my guests sure located it and ate it gone in no time flat!

 

Grill Me Something, Mister, with Salad on the Side!

Grill Me Something, Mister, with Salad on the Side!

It’s that time…. Father’s Day! To all you Dads out there, enjoy your day. To all you moms and kids old enough to know your way around a kitchen, here’s a fresh farmer’s market salad, WITH an amazing easy to put together dressing.  Trust me, it’ll be the only side dish you need to go with perfectly grilled steak, pork or chicken. I’ve included a few extra photos in the cooking instructions to show you what a scrumptious possibility this salad actually is – but before I get to it…

DADS, here’s a foolproof way to create a flavorful grilled dish.

It’s a simple technique of using a board sauce! On your cutting board, chop several cloves of garlic and use the flat side of the knife to smush (a grown up cooking term) the pieces into the board. Choose your favorite herbs like thyme and rosemary, and finely chop these on your board. Drizzle the herbs and garlic with olive oil and dot the board with pieces of butter. Sprinkle kosher salt and coarse black pepper over everything. Now, your board is ready.

Remove your cooked steak (or pork or chicken) from the grill and place it onto your board. Use tongs to flip the steak several times, coating both sides with melty, buttery, garlicky goodness. Cover the steak with aluminum foil, and let it rest in the “sauce” for several minutes. The steak will absorb the flavors of the board sauce, as well as all its juicy goodness. After 4 to 5 minutes, remove the foil and cut the steak into slices right on the board.

You can serve the steak with your favorite side dish, but for all of you Moms out there, here’s an adaptable farmer’s market salad. It’s the perfect way to utilize all the fresh ingredients you’ve piled into your basket at the market. This recipe (like most) is only an inspiration and a guideline. Use whatever veggies you have on hand, and flavor them with your favorite herbs and spices. It’s all good!

Farmers Market Salad

With Roasted Garlic Buttermilk Dressing

serves a crowd

1 hour cuisine

 

Prepare the veggies:

10 baby red potatoes, halved

2 or more tablespoons olive oil

1 or more teaspoons kosher salt

1 or more teaspoons coarse black pepper

2 tablespoons garlic scape pesto

3 bulbs garlic

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 bunch baby carrots

1 bunch purple spring onions, green tops removed

1 red bell pepper, seeded and deveined, cut into strips

1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and deveined, cut into strips

2 beets, roasted, peeled and sliced into rounds

1 bunch radishes, tops trimmed and cut into rounds

½ cup white balsamic vinegar, plus 1 tablespoon

1 tablespoon granulated sugar, plus a smidge

1 lemon, cut in half

1 bunch haricot vert

1 pint baby tomatoes, cut in half

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

For dressing:

½ cup buttermilk

½ cup sour cream

2 tablespoons fresh chives

I head red leaf lettuce, torn into large pieces

Preheat the oven to 375°. Place the baby potatoes onto a baking sheet. Drizzle with some of the olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast until the potatoes are golden, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven. Drizzle the warm potatoes with pesto and toss to coat. Cool to room temperature.

Cut the top ⅓ from the garlic bulbs. Drizzle with some of the olive oil, salt and pepper. Sprinkle with oregano and drizzle with a bit more olive oil. Place the bulbs onto a piece of aluminum foil. Wrap the foil around the garlic leaving an opening at the top of the pouch. Bake until the garlic is soft, and the cloves begin to crawl out of their skins, about 40 to 45 minutes. Cool to room temperature.

Place the carrots, onions and peppers onto a baking dish. Drizzle with some of the olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast until the veggies are just crisp tender and beginning to soften, about 5 to 10 minutes. Cool to room temperature.

Whisk ½ cup vinegar and 1 tablespoon sugar in a large bowl. Place the beets and radishes into the bowl and toss to coat. Set aside for 5 to 10 minutes. Drain the veggies from any excess liquid.

Bring a pot of water to boil over medium high heat. Squeeze the lemon and place into the pot. Add the haricot vert and blanch until just crisp tender and dark green, about 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the beans to a bowl with ice water to stop the cooking process. Remove the green beans from the ice water bath and transfer to a dish lined with paper towels.

Place the tomatoes into a bowl. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar. Season with salt, pepper and a bit of granulated sugar. Toss.

Place the buttermilk and sour cream into the bowl of a food processor or into a blender. Squeeze the garlic cloves into the cream. Add in the chives and season with salt and pepper. Puree the dressing.

Line a large platter with lettuce leaves. Lay the veggies onto the lettuce in bunches. Serve the dressing on the side. You can arrange the salad several hours in advance. Cover with plastic wrap. Bring the salad to room temperature before serving.

 

A Tasty Trip Down Memory Lane

A Tasty Trip Down Memory Lane

New Zealand held so many special times during our recent trip. If you’ve been there, you know how special it is. The locals keep the towns pristine and welcoming. They love to show off their love of their lands. We visited Christchurch, a small coastal town on the South Island. Our tour guides arranged a visit to a small sheep farm in Canterbury. We were greeted by the farmer, his gorgeous wife and their adult daughters, and given a sheep shearing demonstration! What a show!!

After a brief tour of their 1840ish farmhouse, we were escorted outdoors, where we were met with a Martha Stewart inspired luncheon table, seating fifty guests! The table was set with linen clothes and napkins, vintage flatware and freshly clipped flowers in mason jars.

The table sat under the canopy of a recently erected, tent shading us from the warm New Zealand sun. Lunch was served buffet style, and featured a garden fresh salad, whole roasted salmon filets, boiled potatoes and a main course of baked chicken pieces with a sauce of wine, olives, dates and capers.

We all passed around bottles of chilled rose wine and dived into lunch. It took only a couple of bites of that chicken dish to bring back memories of my early catering days. I could swear the dish was Chicken Mirabella from the Silver Palate cookbook. What a lovely coincidence! I travel fourteen hours across the globe, only to have the same meal I’ve made over and over again for my clients. I confirmed this with the generous Lady of the Manor. Her smile was ginormous when she realized that we had cooking and entertaining in common. She grabbed my hand, and took me back into her kitchen to show me her cookbook collection. What a treat.

When my pals came to Florida for a recent visit, we put together a girl’s night supper that featured none other than that Chicken Mirabel dish. I served it with Poached Asparagus and a Green Goddess Avocado Dressing, along with a recipe from my new book: Farmer’s Market Orzo Salad.

As a further retro treat, I added yummy rolls from an old Junior League cookbook, another one of my reliable tomes from my old catering days.

The meal was a true treat. When I think of where I’ve been and where I am now, and all the places I still have to visit, I can’t help but be reminded that good food never really changes. It is one of the things that bind us all together.

Here’s a slide show of my scrumptious trip down good ol’ memory lane.

Kiwi Cooking Class: Learning in New Zealand

Kiwi Cooking Class: Learning in New Zealand

Chef Grant Allen

 

Tucked into the countryside of KeriKeri, in the Bay of Islands in New Zealand, is a local farmstead with herb and vegetable gardens, and state-of-the-art kitchen (pictured above). The transplanted Canadian owners of the homestead offer cooking classes from local Chef, Grant Allen. Allen’s philosophy on Kiwi cooking is that it’s similar to New Zealand cooking and based on our English, Scottish and Irish traditions.

“Our ‘culinary culture’ reflects our colonial history; as we travel, we become more aware of our Pacific and Asian neighbors, and their ingredients and cooking methods; like, New Zealand’s indigenous people, the Maori.” said Chef Allen.

Grant also believes that Kiwi cuisine is evolving. It has its origins in the food of their “European Grannies” and Maori cultures, while it is absorbing the influences of Pacific and Asian cuisine. To demonstrate these tastes and flavors, Grant offered an expansive menu that included a multi-coarse luncheon meal.

It started with the local delicacy of white fish bait fritters, a delicate crepe made up of whipped egg whites and whole, baby, salty white fish. He added Iki Mata, a ceviche of snapper cooked in citrus, with finely diced veggies and herbs.

Another starter, showcased beetroot chips stacked with crème fraiche and smoked salmon. Mussels, one of New Zealand’s most prized crops, were topped with coconut cream, ginger and diced chili, then broiled and served warm.

The main course featured a whole leg of lamb, simply prepared on an outdoor grill served with an herb-fresh salsa verde alongside buttery, garlic hasselback potatoes and a most delicious salad of fresh lettuces and herbs plucked from the garden, with crisp corn, avocado, pear and orange segments.

A secret ingredient to Grant’s salad were baby, sweet tomatoes that had been marinated in balsamic vinegar and honey, which later turned into the salad dressing. Dessert was made by a local cookbook author who whipped up a stone-fruit crumble which perfectly finished the meal.

As cooking classes go, this one was not only informative, but ABSOLUTELY DELISH!!!!! The meal was totally indicative of the food we explored in New Zealand. I come away with two words that for me, define the experience… fresh and simple.

Check out Grant Allen’s cooking tips on Facebook @grantcooks. What you see below is, in his own words, The Making of a Good Salad:

Remember these principles when composing:
Use what is fresh and in season – be inspired by what you find at the market.
Contrast colors and textures
Contrast shapes and size
You need “Crunch”
Build your ingredients to create a vibrant picture .
Dress with flavors that compliment or contrast with your ingredients.
Classically a vinaigrette has a 2/3 oil and 1/3 acid ratio but it’s over to you – use different kinds of oils , vinegars, citrus juices, pomegranate juice, verjuice, honey, mustards.
Season very well – remember your dressing is being carried by a lot of unseasoned ingredients.
Wash and spin your greens, wet leaves will wilt when dressed.
Dress just before serving.

A BOUNTIFUL SUMMER SALAD

Cos lettuce leaves
Ice burg lettuce leaves
Watercress

Blanched corn kernels
Fine sliced red , white or spring onions ( scallions )
Fine diced or ribboned cucumber
Fine diced or sliced peppers

Orange segments – save the juice for the dressing
Pomegranate seeds – save the juice for the dressing
Baby tomatoes – marinate in balsamic and liquid honey – save the marinade for the dressing
Nash Pear – slice finely with the skin on and dress with a little lemon juice to stop browning

Avocado – split, remove the stone a slice, leave the skin on if you wish, this stops the avocado getting mashed.

Mix together the citrus juice etc and blend in avocado oil to your taste, season well with S+P

Woo-hoo! Watauga Farmers Market to Reopen May 5th!

Woo-hoo! Watauga Farmers Market to Reopen May 5th!

I live in the Blue Ridge Mountains in the summer time, where the farmers markets brighten up the road sides with in season produce, fresh flower bouquets, and vending stations offering all kinds of goodies. As a cookbook author, it’s a chance to run wilder than the azaleas in bloom– and my favorite place to do it is the Watauga Farmers Market in Boone, NC.

I always load up on beets, blueberries, bok choy, broccoli, cabbage, collards, green peas, lettuces of all kinds, and loads of delicious strawberries this time of year.

My Kale Salad with Strawberries and Goat Cheese takes advantage of the freshest kale, sweetest strawberries and creamy artisanal cheese found in the market. There’s a cheese maker at the Watauga Farmer’s Market in the mountains of North Carolina that makes so many variations of goat cheese that it’s hard to choose. You can taste them all, if you are patient enough to wait your turn.

I also like to create super granola with the seeds and nuts I find at the market. Look for the super granola recipe at the bottom of this recipe. All kinds of possibilities lay in wait under those farmer’s market tents! See you around…

Kale Salad with Strawberries and Goat Cheese
& a Nutty Topper
Serves 4 to 6 as a side salad
30 Minute Cuisine

For Nutty Topper:
1 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon brown sugar
¼ cup roasted, salted and shelled pistachios
¼ cup roasted, salted sunflower seeds
¼ cup roasted, and salted Pepitas

For Dressing:
½ large lemon juiced, about 2 tablespoons
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoons honey
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon coarse black pepper
½ cup olive oil

For Salad:
1 bunch kale, stems removed, leaves chopped, about 3 to 4 cups
1 pint fresh strawberries, stems removed and sliced, about 2 cups
4 to 5 medium radishes, sliced thin, about 1 cup
4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled, about ½ cup

Melt the butter and brown sugar in a medium skillet pan over medium-high heat. Stir in the pistachios, sunflower seeds and pepitas. Cook until the nuts are just beginning to toast, about 2 to 3 minutes. Pour the nuts and seeds onto a parchment paper lined rimmed baking sheet to cool.

Place the lemon juice, mustard and honey in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Whisk in the olive oil. Place the kale into a salad bowl and pour the dressing over the top. Let the salad sit on the counter at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes to allow the leaves to soften.

Add the strawberries, radishes and goat cheese to the salad bowl. Toss with the kale and dressing and sprinkle the nutty topper over the top.

To make super granola: Just place nuts and/or seeds into a bowl with 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats, ½ cup dried fruit (like cranberries or blueberries), and a tablespoon of honey. Toss with a beaten egg white, a tablespoon of honey and a pinch of salt. Pour the granola mixture onto a parchment paper lined rimmed baking sheet. Bake at 350°until the oats are golden and toasted, about 10 minutes. Cool and store in an airtight container. Spoon granola over yogurt and berries for a fast and yummy breakfast starter!

 

Best Salad…. Evah!

Best Salad…. Evah!

To prove it, I open with a photo of a nutritious rainbow on a cookie sheet. This dish is fun to work on with the grandkids, or as a solo project sometime when you want to make an extra healthy dinner. The recipe I’m about to share stands behind what I say on the Nana Network ALL THE TIME: “Eat a rainbow!” This is one of the best ways to do just that. The secret to perfectly roasted veggies, is to pre-cook them before you roast them. I use a microwave oven to do this, but placing the veggies into your steamer, or into boiling water and then an ice bath will work just as well. Cooking first guarantees that your roasted veggies will have a crunchy outside and a tender inside; the perfect bite!

Your veggies can grace any variety of lettuce or spinach you have on hand. There are so many robust winter varieties of lettuce, and Good Housekeeping has an excellent photo gallery of lettuces for the next prime pick at your local market.

But rainbows aside, I’ve always maintained that the real magic happens when it’s time to make the dressing. This recipe will leave you with extra dressing for salads throughout the week. I use Meyer lemons for an uber citrussy taste in this dish. These are becoming more readily available in your grocery store. They are slightly sweeter than regular lemons and add that little bit of tang needed to balance the heartiness of the veggies.

Use your favorite veggies to create a salad that your whole family will love – like I did here.

Roasted Veggie Winter Salad
With Meyer Lemon -Basil Vinaigrette
Serves a crowd
45 Minute Cuisine

For Roasted Vegetables:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons Dijon style mustard
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated, about ½ cup
3 whole beets, tops removed
1 bunch carrots, tops removed, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
12 new potatoes, cut into fourths
12 Brussels sprouts, cut in half
1 small butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes, about 3 cups
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon coarse black pepper

For salad:
1 large shallot, peeled and minced, about 2 tablespoons
1 tablespoon Dijon style mustard
Juice of 1 Meyer lemon, about ¼ cup
¼ cup white balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
½ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped, fresh basil
Six cups lettuce or spinach
2 ounces Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled, about ½ cup

Preheat the oven to 400°. Wrap the beets in aluminum foil and place into the oven. Roast the beets until soft, about 45 minutes. Drizzle 2 tablespoons olive oil into a large baking sheet with rim. Smear the mustard into the bottom of the baking sheet. Add the Parmesan cheese to the baking dish. Place the carrots into a microwave safe bowl. Add two tablespoons water. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Microwave on high for 4 minutes. Drain the carrots and place into the baking sheet. Repeat with the potatoes, Brussels sprouts and butternut squash. Use your hands to coat the vegies with the seasonings in the bottom of the baking sheet. Season with some of the salt and pepper. Roast until the vegetables are just beginning to turn golden, about 20 minutes. You can use a spatula to flip the veggies about halfway through cooking, if you like, but it’s not necessary. Remove the beets from the oven and cool. Peel the beets and cut into 1-inch pieces.

Place the shallots into a small bowl. Add the Dijon mustard, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar and honey. Drizzle in the oil, whisking to combine. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Whisk in the basil.

Lay the lettuce into a shallow bowl. Pour just enough vinaigrette over the leaves to just moisten them (don’t drown your lettuce!) Place the roasted veggies on top of the lettuce. Sprinkle the Gorgonzola cheese over top. Drizzle a little more vinaigrette over the top.