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Archive for the ‘Fruit’ Category

It seems I skipped ahead to Fall too quickly, passing by some summer salads. That last Peach & Prosciutto salad could certainly never makes it debut in January. And neither could this salad with watermelon as the star. I’d be accused of taunting and teasing.

It took my tongue a minute to wrap itself against this flavor combination.  The bitter herbs, the salty cheese; both flavors just hearty enough to make their appearance amongst the strong watermelon flavor.   For something so full of water, you wouldn’t imagine the flavor to be so strong, but it is.  This makes the use of arugula imperative as something such as spinach would be lost completely.  But in the end I found myself a fan.

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Arugula, Watermelon, and Feta Salad
From Ina Garten on foodnetwork.com
Serves 4

1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
1/4 cup minced shallots (1 large)
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 cup good olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 cups baby arugula, washed and spun dry
1/8th seedless watermelon, rind removed, and cut in 1-inch cubes (I believe I used less, though who can tell when watermelons are sized so differently?)
12 ounces good feta cheese, 1/2-inch diced
1 cup (4 ounces) whole fresh mint leaves, julienned

Whisk together the orange juice, lemon juice, shallots, honey, salt, and pepper. Slowly pour in the olive oil, whisking constantly, to form an emulsion. If not using within an hour, store the vinaigrette covered in the refrigerator.

Place the arugula, watermelon, feta, and mint in a large bowl. Drizzle with enough vinaigrette to coat the greens lightly and toss well. Taste for seasonings and serve immediately.

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Three days. Just Canaan and I. Nate in Montana. Of course this meant meals were whatever I felt like. I find when I’m on my own I can easily survive with a piece of crusty bread, a little chunk of some good cheese, and a tasty, tasty salad – oh and a movie for night time. Luckily this lovely nectarine that had been sitting in my windowsill a number of days turned ripe just in time to be included in the goodness.

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And goodness it was. Just another reason to wish peaches and nectarines weren’t so touch and go in terms of quality and didn’t have such a short season. Possibly incentive enough to move to Georgia or South Carolina where all summer long we used to stop on long road trips to buy peaches from roadside stands. Peaches and Dairy Queen were frequent lunches, a perfect fix for the summer heat and a way to avoid fast-food burgers. Of course, back then all I cared about was the cookie dough blizzard but now I’d die for a roadside peach stand!

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Peaches and Prosciutto with Greens

Salad greens
Peach or nectarine, sliced
A few ounces of prosciutto, torn into pieces
Brie cheese, sliced
Walnuts, toasted

Dressing:
Apple cider vinegar (about 3 Tbs. for a salad for two)
Honey and dijon mustard(about 1 tsp. each)
Olive oil (about 1 T.)
Salt and pepper to taste

Whisk dressing together in bottom of serving bowl. Add greens and toss to coat. Arrange remaining ingredients over top and serve. Die happy.

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Before fall blows in and the berry crops die out you really should try this tart.  I’ve tried it twice myself since the original recipe, conveniently, leaves you with two tart crusts to fill.  It’s homespun goodness at its best.  The dough is more than delicately sweet but is made nicely hearty by the crunchy cornmeal.  I’ve used this dough in the rustic form that this recipe calls for and I’ve also used it in a more formal approach with a fluted tart pan.  While it works in both it’s my opinion that there is beauty in the rustic and some things are made to look less uniform.

And the filling is as good as the berries you put in it, which is why I assure you that you’ll want to try this before those berries are replaced by mini pumpkins and gourds at your local market.

Blueberry Cornmeal Tart
taken from notderbypie.com, adapted from The Craft of Baking by Karen DeMasco and Mindy Fox

Note: you only need half a recipe of tart crust for this recipe. Freeze the other half for later use.

For the cornmeal crust:

10 tablespons butter, room temp
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup buttermilk or milk
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Beat butter and sugar in an electric mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until well combined. Add milk and vanilla, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and beat to combine.

In a separate bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients. Add to the butter mixture and beat just to combine.

Turn dough onto lightly floured surface, making sure to include any bits stuck to the bowl. Using a gentle hand, bring together to form a mass. Divide in half, form into disks, and refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight. Dough can be frozen for upto 1 month; bring to room temperature before using.

For the tart:

3 cups blueberries (or any other berries); frozen is fine
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon flour, plus extra for rolling; 2 tablespoons flour if using frozen berries
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons Demerara sugar

On a piece of parchment paper sprinkled with flour, roll out dough into an 11-inch circle. Transfer dough, on parchment, to refrigerator and chill about 5 minutes.

In a medium bowl, toss blueberries with sugar, flour, lemon juice, and lemon zest. If frozen, bring berries to room temperature so juices can mingle with flour and thicken. When berries have thawed, set crust on countertop and mound berries in middle, leaving large (about 4-inch) border around. Fold crust edges up over berries; you can tuck and fold the dough to make a nice pleated pattern, or just fold casually for a rustic look. Sprinkle with Demerara sugar and refrigerate 20 mintues.

Preheat oven to 375. Bake tart 40 minutes, rotating half way through baking. Transfer carefully to wire rack to let cool. Serve warm or room temperature with a dollop of unsweetened whipped cream or creme fraiche.

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Blueberry Peach Parfaits

On a tray in my parents’ backyard.  The perfect ending to a summer meal straight off the grill.

Rich, thick custard dotted with bursting vanilla beans.  Dripping summer peaches and fresh blueberries nestled in between.  And a dollop of real whipped cream on top.  My mom made five parfaits.  Four were eaten after dinner.  The last was valiantly fought over at lunch the next day.

Why can’t every day be like this day?

Blueberry Peach Parfaits
Looks like it was originally from Taste of Home but is an old clipping from my mom’s recipe box
Yield: 6 servings

1/2 c. sugar
3 T. cornstarch
1/4 t. salt
2 c. milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1.5 t. vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean, scraped
2 medium ripe peaches, peeled and sliced
1.5 c. fresh blueberries
fresh whipped cream
mint for garnish (optional)

In a saucepan, combine the sugar, cornstarch, and salt.  Stir in milk until smooth.  Bring to a boil over medium heat; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.  Remove from the heat.  Stir a small amount of hot mixture into eggs; return all to the pan, stirring constantly.  Bring to a gentle boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes.  Remove from the heat; stir in vanilla.  Cover and refrigerate until chilled.

In six parfait glasses, layer 2 rounded tablespoons o custard, two to three peach slices and 2 T. blueberries; repeat layers.  Top with whipped cream and garnish with mint.

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Pear, bacon, and goat cheese.  All great ingredients, but how would they marry together?  Well, there was no time but this week to find out when I happened to have those three ingredients all on hand at the same time.  Never mind that this strikes me as an excellent first course for a dinner party and I was going to be serving this to two tired-out, frazzled parents, one of whom would probably be eating one-handed … as this certain baby has a real knack for waking right when plates of food are placed on the table.  I’m told this is when a swing comes in handy but sadly, we don’t have one handy!

But just because we are tired-out, frazzled parents doesn’t mean we can’t appreciate good food and good this was.  Pear, bacon, and goat cheese make a remarkably delectable combination that I’ll be glad to pair again and again.  The skimpy drizzling of honey and hint of thyme in the goat cheese just top this one off beautifully.

Roasted Baby Pears with Herbed Goat Cheese
Recipe by Tyler Florence, taken from Food Network

1/2 pound goat cheese
1/4 cup chopped mixed herbs such as parsley, thyme, and chives
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
12 baby pears
12 slices bacon, about 1/2 pound, cut in 1/2
2 tablespoons honey
Arugula or dandelion greens, for garnish

Heat the oven to 375 degrees F.

In a small bowl, mix the goat cheese, herbs, and 2 tablespoons olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Halve the pears and scoop out the seeds and cores. Stuff each pear half with about a tablespoon of the cheese. Wrap each stuffed pear with a slice of bacon and place it on a baking sheet. Drizzle some olive oil over the pears and season them with salt and pepper. Bake them until the pears are tender and the bacon is crisp, about 25 to 30 minutes.* Place the pears onto a platter, drizzle with the honey, and garnish with the arugula.

*I’m not a big fan of overly cooked or pears that have lost their crispness.  So I ignored the direction to cook these for 25 min.  Instead, I started the bacon in a frying pan and removed it when it was still pliable, but just starting to crisp.  Then I cooked the stuffed pears with the bacon for just about 4-5 minutes, only enough time to make the goat cheese soft and hot.

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We’ve been starting to eat some good salads this week, which makes me tres happy.  This might seem strange because we haven’t necessarily been eating real meals, but salads are something manageable.  I can start the chopping or make the vinaigrette and then leave it for hours to feed, burp, and rock the baby before returning to finish it.  Its work on a newborn time-frame and it also works to fulfill some of my need to get back in the kitchen and get my creative juices flowing.  So what that it accompanied a frozen hamburger?  Not the perfect pairing but a decadent and delicious salad anyway.

With this salad I was able to make both the vinaigrette and the goat cheese rounds ahead of time, leaving the goat cheese in the fridge once crusted.  In fact, I think returning the goat cheese to the fridge after handling it made for more successful frying when it came time to put the whole salad together.

Fried Goat Cheese and Strawberry Salad with Orange Rose-Nectar Vinaigrette
Taken from loveandoliveoil, originally adapted from My Gourmet Connection
4 servings

Vinaigrette:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium shallot, finely chopped
3/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
2 teaspoons grated orange zest
1/2 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
1 teaspoon honey
1-1/2 tablespoons rose nectar or 1 1/2 tablespoons honey plus 1/2 teaspoon rose water (I skipped either rose ingredient since these aren’t something I keep on hand)
1-1/2 tablespoons champagne or white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Goat Cheese:
10.5-ounce log fresh goat cheese
1/3 cup flour
1 egg, beaten with 1/2 teaspoon water
3/4 cup panko crumbs
1/4 cup ground almonds
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 to 4 tablespoons vegetable oil

Salad:
1 medium head red-leaf lettuce
1 medium head Boston lettuce
1-1/2 pints fresh strawberries, cored and sliced
sliced almonds, for garnish (optional)

directions
To prepare dressing, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the shallot and sauté until softened, about 1 minute. Add the orange juice and zest. Raise the heat to medium-high and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens to a syrupy consistency, about 5 to 7 minutes.

Transfer the juice-shallot mixture to a small bowl and combine with the mustard, rose nectar, honey, vinegar, salt and pepper. Gradually whisk in the olive oil. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Set aside.

In a small dish, combine the panko crumbs, ground almonds and salt. Place the flour, egg and panko-almond mixture in three separate shallow dishes.

Slice the goat cheese log into 12 rounds. Coat the goat cheese slices in flour, dip in the beaten egg, then coat with the panko-almond mixture. Press the cheese rounds lightly into the crumbs mixture to make sure that they adhere well and set them aside while you assemble the salads.

Wash and dry the two heads of lettuce and tear them into bite-sized pieces. Toss to combine and divide amongst four salad plates. Arrange the strawberry slices on top of the lettuce and garnish with a few sliced almonds, leaving space in the center for the fried goat cheese rounds. Set the dishes aside.

In a large skillet, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add the cheese rounds in a single layer and fry until light golden-brown on the first side, about 2 minutes. Being very careful not to break the crust, turn the rounds over and fry for another 2 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to blot any excess oil.

Arrange three of the rounds in the center of each salad plate. Drizzle with the vinaigrette and serve immediately.

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This here salad is something truly simple to throw together.  Because, you see, you’ve already made the Radicchio & Orange salad so you’re dressing is already set and waiting in the fridge for it’s next incarnation.  That’s the whole reason this salad came together for me: leftover dressing, leftover produce.  But just because this salad had the word “leftover” in it doesn’t mean Nate wasn’t picking up the bowl to scrape at it and slurp the rest of the juices out.  Oh and making me promise to include this 5-minutes of labor on a future cafe menu someday.

Asparagus, Avocado, and Orange Salad with Honey & Poppy seed Dressing

1/2 bunch of asparagus
1 large avocado
1 orange or blood orange
kosher salt
pepper

Honey and Poppy seed Dressing

Cut off the tough ends of the asparagus.  Place on a microwave safe plate with a Tbs. of water and microwave just 30 seconds to 1 minute or til barely tender and still crisp.  Place in cool water to stop the cooking.

Cut the avocado into a dice.  Cut the orange into segments and then cut each segment in half.  Cut the asparagus stalks into inch long pieces.  Place all three together into a serving bowl and sprinkle with some kosher salt and pepper.  Drizzle with some of the honey & poppy seed dressing.  Toss and serve.

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