Friday, January 21, 2011

Vote for Naughtiness!

Photo by Sarah Shatz of Food52

My cheeky irreverence to January denial has been rewarded! (See post below.) It seems naughtiness is delicious! I entered my Not-Too-Virtuous-Salad with Caramelized Apple Vinaigrette in last week's Food52 contest, “Your Best Salad with Apples” and it has been chosen as a finalist! Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs (two of my idols) and their test kitchen team picked my recipe, and one other, out of 150 very impressive entries. And, now it is up to YOU to choose a winner! Check out the slide show of the making of the recipe here.

If you haven’t visited the website Food52 yet, you most definitely should. It is a cookbook project- that you can help write. Each week they announce a recipe contest. Home cooks have a week to submit creative, tasty, original recipes. Two finalists are chosen, and then the voting goes to the public. (AhhUmmm... that's you.) The winner gets published in the cookbook! In the meantime, Food52 is a dynamic and creative web resource for original recipes by home cooks and food bloggers. It is hands-down the best answer to that ubiquitous question, “What should I make for dinner?”

So… what are you waiting for? Check it out and don’t forget to click on the tab in the upper right hand corner that says, “cast your vote” and VOTE!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A Not-Too-Virtuous Salad w/ Caramelized Apple Vinaigrette

Detox. Exercise. Diet. All virtuous proclamations the majority of us suckers ring in the New Year with. Renew. Rejuvenate. Revive. Blah. Blah. Blah. A new start. I am all for it, but I don’t think embarking on a slimmer, vegetarian You has any place, rhyme or reason in January.

For most, January is plastered in snow and ice, making a snuggle and duck for the down covers way more appealing than pounding the treadmill. Tank tops are still months away, osso bucco is tonight’s special and carbohydrate laden veggies are what our bodies crave. Few cleanses are inspired by a well stocked root cellar. It is the time to cure meat and hide the evidence of our wintery bacon indulgence underneath a cozy warm sweater. Save the cleanse and the 5am pre-work run for spring when your body, responding to the natural cycles of life, craves a rebirth. January is a socially created buzz-kill that demands we get off the Dionysus holiday wave of revelry and gluttonous indulgence. Booo! to whoever came up with that plan; I say it is unnatural to come out of hibernation so early. Thus, I proclaim all New Years’ resolutions should be postponed until March.

Still, if you demand a virtuous new You to kick off the new year (which will most likely be forgotten by March), here is a salad that should keep the guilt at bay (after all, it is a salad), but, will not to be such a shock to the system (it has pig product in it) that it will send you into a stupor of bitter resentment. Served with duck breast or a wedge of stinky cheese it will most definitely satisfy your resolution to treat yourself right in 2011!

 Not-Too-Virtuous Salad w/ Caramelized Apple Vinaigrette

For the salad:
  • 4 handfuls mixed greens
  • 1/4 celery root, cut into matchsticks
  • 1 gala apple, sliced very thinly into half moons
  • 1 fennel bulb, very thinly sliced
  • 1 cup pecans
  • 4 slices thick cut bacon, cut into lardons
  1. Toast the pecans in the oven at 350 for about 7 min.
  2. In a heavy skillet cook lardons over moderate heat. Stir occasionally until crispy on all sides and reserve on a paper towel.
  3. Place all of the salad ingredients in a large bowl. Pour ¼ of the dressing over the salad and toss well.
  4. Taste a piece of lettuce and add more dressing, salt and pepper-- depending on your preference.
Caramelized Apple Vinaigrette:
  • 2 ounces brown sugar
  • 3 ounces, plus 1 ounce apple cider vinegar
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • 1 gala apple, peeled, cored and medium diced
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 4 ounces olive oil
  • 2 ounces canola oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme
  • salt
  1. In a small skillet over medium heat add 3 ounces vinegar and the sugar. Let it reduce until the color turns a dark caramel color and begins to thicken. You will start to see big foamy bubbles on the surface.
  2. Add the apples and garlic and sauté until the apples are cooked through, about 5 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  3. Remove from heat and put in the blender with 1 ounce of vinegar, thyme, juice of ½ lemon and a pinch of salt. Woosh until blended, then slowly add the oil. Blend until the dressing is emulsified. Taste and season with salt and perhaps a splash more vinegar, depending on your preference. The dressing can be made four hours ahead.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Foie Gras Macarons...

a ridiculously decadent way to start the new year. Time for detox! Happy 2011!!!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Home for the Holidays

My Polish sister-in-law, Kamila, sets an extra place at the table and heaps the would-be diner's plate high in keeping with the Polish tradition of preparing for an unexpected guest. Everyone takes a piece of wafer that is broken and distributed and we wish each other health and happiness in the New Year. Kamila's mother passes around homemade motsch, a gingerbread "soup", and makufki, poppyseed cake, both staples on the Polish Christmas table.

My Italian father-in-law pops open a bottle of prosecco and scrambles to stop it from overflowing. I set out a plate of cookies beneath the tree for Santa, my one insistence on an American tradition from my childhood.

Later, we dim the lights and assemble the German feuerzangenbowle - a pot of mulled wine straddled by a metal bridge supporting a sugar cone. Strong whiskey is ignited and ladled over the cone. The chemical reaction sends blue flames high enough to scourge the ladler's eyebrows and we ohh and ahh over the spectacle. As if this show of pyrotechnics was not enough, we light candles ON the tree - a German tradition that has always flabbergasted me. How these extremely practical, risk-adverse people could light a tree on fire is beyond me. But it's gorgeous and it glows as we sing a round of "O Tannenbaum".

Although some of us are far from our homelands, preserving our Christmas traditions by sharing them with our extended patchwork family makes it feel like I am home for the holidays. 
This post was entered into the Grantourismo HomeAwayUK travel blogging contest for December. We'd love to hear what you think.