- 2 heads baby icebergcleaned & halved
- 4 ounce goat's cheese
- 2 heads baby leaf lettucecleaned & halved
- 16 red grapes
- 20 candied almonds
- tomato & pepper relish
- 1 cup sour orange & blackberry vinaigrette
- 1/2 whole tomatoskinned, seeded, cut into small julienne
- 1/2 sweet pepperseeded. cut into small julienne
- 2 baby carrots
- red wine vinegarto taste
- black pepperto taste
- Sugarto taste
- fresh garden herbsbasil, tarragon, parsley, mint
- 1 gala apple
- 2 tablespoons blackberry puree
- 3 tablespoons sour orange juice
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard
- 1/4 cup grapeseed oil
When I make a salad, or anything for that matter, and as I am eating it, what come to mind are the things that could have been done differently; tweaking it out, perhaps? Ah yes, the never ending quest for knowledge.
This can be one of the greatest challenges of cooking, and indeed, we should constantly critique and improve on our cooking and presentation skills. Without them, we as a species are doomed to a life of dry chicken and tasteless rice.
A friend of mine from Schuster Farms stopped by with three heads of lettuce from his garden, one head of baby iceberg, one baby leaf lettuce and one baby romaine.
Michael knows how much I enjoy eating local foods, evidenced by my endless diatribes on processed foods and “fresh” foods handily delivered to our doorstep from Chile, Paraguay and Brazil.
On the drive home, the heat of the car almost killed the lettuces, as they had begun to wilt a bit, but a short bath in some ice water revived them to their former crispy selves. Once regenerated, a quick shake and dry rendered them fit for production.
Next, it was on to the idea phase. Not being a salad fiend, I try to mix it up a little bit, and while some of the recipes that I provide are short and sweet, this one takes a bit of preparation. Once you get your mise, however, you can pull it out of the refrigerator and assemble on the spot. As usual, if you think ahead, you can be enjoying your Martini in the Adirondack before dinner even starts.
True to the tenet of the culinary world that ‘you eat with your eyes first’, it is critical to make it look good, even if it is just for friends and family. In fact, I feel that it is more important for friends and family. We should aim to make them feel welcome and appreciated for all that they do.
And how do I derive all of this babble from food? First of all, I read way too much about the philosophy of food. I tell my students that my goal is to get my brain to catch on fire, which hasn’t happened yet. Secondly, food really is that important to me, almost like a therapy of sorts.
So go call a friend, get some local produce, make a salad, tweak it if you have to, and enjoy their company as well as that well-earned Martini.
- This may seem like a pain, and you do not need to perform this step. It just adds a nice textured grape to the salad without the tannic skin causing the ubiquitous astringency as you bite through it. The acidity of the interior of the red grape is what makes it go great with this
- Starting at the stem end of the grape, and holding a sharp paring knife in ‘whittle’ mode, slide the tip of the knife under a flap of skin. Hold it with your thumb by placing your thumb on the skin and peel. It’s simple but time consuming
- For whatever amount of whole almonds that you discern you will need, just toss them with some powdered sugar and a splash of water. You just want enough water to dissolve the sugar
- Heat the almonds in a 350F oven until golden
- They will be soft when you pull them out. Let them cool, and they will harden for service
- Here’s what I was mentioning above. For this salad, a quick knife and fan lent a simple garnish to the salad. However, as an afterthought, I could have sautéed the apples in butter and brown sugar to add a nice dimension. Of course, this would not be as crisp and tart as the fresh, and would probably be better suited for the cooler months, so the choice is yours
Sour Orange – Blackberry Vinaigrette
- Place all ingredients in a cup into which an immersion blender will fit
- As you blend with this high-RPM machine, the oil-in-water emulsion will complete itself, giving you a nice and creamy vinaigrette