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Sunday, May 5, 2013

I'm tired of tossed salads

Tonight's supper
I’ve noticed lately that I tend to nibble at a tossed salad, though there was a time when my ex refused to let me eat salad until I’d eaten my entree because he knew I’d fill up on it (how times have changed—now we know filling up on salad is good for you as long as the dressing isn’t too fattening). In recent years, our favorite dressing has been a blue cheese one you make in the bowl and then add the lettuce…and I still like it.

But these days I’m more inclined to assemble a platter of vegetables, as I did tonight. Let your imagination go—peas, carrots, green beans (I prefer the tiny French haricot vert), asparagus, kidney or even pinto beans, cherry tomatoes, tiny new potatoes halved, cubes of cheddar, hard-boiled eggs quartered, artichoke hearts. I often get so carried away I run out of room on the platter. Sometimes I drizzle a vinaigrette over the entire things; other times I serve it on the side—depends on my mood. Occasionally I add a couple of meat selections and that’s dinner—small pieces of grilled salmon or chicken, lamb chops if I’m feeling extravagant, sliced flank steak.

Tonight’s platter accompanied a sandwich casserole—split Hawaiian rolls, layered with gruyere and a nice ham on the bottoms, cream cheese chive/onion spread on the inside of the tops. Brush the whole thing with a mixture of butter, Worcestershire, Parmesan and dried onion. Refrigerate and then bake. It was delicious, and it’s a Kraft recipe. I’m sure you can find it on their web site.

My appetizer was a wonderful goat cheese/wasabi spread a friend brought the other night—I promise to get that recipe and share it soon.  Catastrophe was that the dog ate the biggest piece of the cheese roll. Hoping she doesn’t get sick in the night. Besides I’m disappointed that I didn’t get to serve it. Moral of the story: don’t take appetizers out to the garden table and turn your back.

I don’t often fix dessert but tonight I served a Key Lime Pie (yes, I bought it frozen—I’ve only made it from scratch once and remember it as a lot of work). But the whole meal was terrific. It was in honor of my neighbor’s birthday, and his present was a bottle of olive oil infused with Tuscan spices. I got it at the Virgin Olive Oiler, the store I wrote about last week on this blog. Jay said, “Now I guess I have to cook you supper.” Right on!

Blue cheese dressing

Here’s the dressing that’s been our standard (though we always make sure everyone likes blue cheese). Daughter Jordan and her husband Christian love this dressing and she usually makes it at my house. She tends to make enough for three salads, and sometimes it’s so stout it makes you pucker. But here goes:

Rub the inside of an unvarnished wooden salad bowl with a cut clove of garlic and then with salt (Kosher preferred) and dry mustard. Crumble blue cheese into the bowl, pour in cider vinegar to taste and mash the cheese until you have a paste. Then whisk in olive oil. Measurements? You’re on your own. Just remember the old rule of thumb—one part acid to two parts oil—and then cheat just a bit. Good with nothing but lettuce.


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