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Baby Romaine Salad with Clementine and Salsa Vinaigrette

Clementine_1 I love salads! A salad can be composed of almost anything, with one very important rule.

Use the freshest ingredients possible!

For this particular salad I keep it pretty simple! Just the freshest baby romaine leaves, several diced avocados, a chopped red bell pepper,some diced pepper jack cheese,thinly sliced red onion,diced cherry tomatoes and lots of fresh pine nuts!

Did I say use the freshest ingredients possible?

Once you've put these ingredients into a lovely salad bowl ,you can make the vinaigrette.

I did remind you to use the freshest ingredients possible, didn't I?

Here is the dressing!

Juice of one clementine orange

Chopped rind of one clementine orange

One and a half tablespoons of freshly crushed garlic

salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Half of a cup of good olive oil

One heaping tablespoon of FRESH salsa

Two tablespoons of sugar

Whisk together until smooth! That's it!

Drizzle the dressing over the salad in the bowl and gently toss the greens! Use less dressing than you think you need, each person can add more to taste!  For something a bit more filling, add some grilled flank steak or sliced chicken breast!

Picture of Clementines courtesy of http://www.cuesa.org


Baby Romaine Salad with Clementine and Salsa Vinaigrette

Clementine_1 I love salads! A salad can be composed of almost anything, with one very important rule.

Use the freshest ingredients possible!

For this particular salad I keep it pretty simple! Just the freshest baby romaine leaves, several diced avocados, a chopped red bell pepper,some diced pepper jack cheese,thinly sliced red onion,diced cherry tomatoes and lots of fresh pine nuts!

Did I say use the freshest ingredients possible?

Once you've put these ingredients into a lovely salad bowl ,you can make the vinaigrette.

I did remind you to use the freshest ingredients possible, didn't I?

Here is the dressing!

Juice of one clementine orange

Chopped rind of one clementine orange

One and a half tablespoons of freshly crushed garlic

salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Half of a cup of good olive oil

One heaping tablespoon of FRESH salsa

Two tablespoons of sugar

Whisk together until smooth! That's it!

Drizzle the dressing over the salad in the bowl and gently toss the greens! Use less dressing than you think you need, each person can add more to taste!  For something a bit more filling, add some grilled flank steak or sliced chicken breast!

Picture of Clementines courtesy of http://www.cuesa.org


White Bean Salad with Rosemary and Pine Nuts!

Beans_3224206_big I love white beans, more formally known as cannellini beans! Thrown into vegetable soup, or simply made into a simple salad,  they are an easy way to get some delicious protein into your diet when you're trying to cut back on meat!

White bean salad is one of my favorite picnic foods, and it's so easy to make! I love it in the summertime when you have fresh vine ripened tomatoes and basil leaves! If you want to make it in the winter, organic diced canned tomatoes will do nicely!

This recipe is so simple, just throw throw the ingredients together and let the olive oil and galic do the work!

You'll need:

One or two cans of Progresso cannellini beans

Lots of chopped FRESH garlic

One large can of diced tomatoes/drained

One and a half cups of fresh basil leaves

juice of one fresh lemon

salt and pepper to taste

Pine nuts  and fresh rosemary for a garnish

Enough good virgin olive oil to use as a dressing for the whole thing!

This is beyond easy! Just throw all of the ingredients together into a pretty bowl and let them marinate until you are ready to serve them. Garnish with the pine nuts!

Unless you are making this the day before, you don't even have to refrigerate it, it's better at room temperature! For a few variations on a theme you can serve it over freshly cooked penne pasta with some fresh parmesan cheese, or add try adding torn "day old" french bread to the salad just before serving it over cold romaine leaves. You can also take the same salad (sans the bread!) and add a can of tuna  packed in olive oil (the expensive Italian kind is worth every penny!) , a sliced hard boiled egg and some green beans for a wonderful dinner salad.

  Picture courtesy of www.barillaus.com


White Bean Salad with Rosemary and Pine Nuts!

Beans_3224206_big I love white beans, more formally known as cannellini beans! Thrown into vegetable soup, or simply made into a simple salad,  they are an easy way to get some delicious protein into your diet when you're trying to cut back on meat!

White bean salad is one of my favorite picnic foods, and it's so easy to make! I love it in the summertime when you have fresh vine ripened tomatoes and basil leaves! If you want to make it in the winter, organic diced canned tomatoes will do nicely!

This recipe is so simple, just throw throw the ingredients together and let the olive oil and galic do the work!

You'll need:

One or two cans of Progresso cannellini beans

Lots of chopped FRESH garlic

One large can of diced tomatoes/drained

One and a half cups of fresh basil leaves

juice of one fresh lemon

salt and pepper to taste

Pine nuts  and fresh rosemary for a garnish

Enough good virgin olive oil to use as a dressing for the whole thing!

This is beyond easy! Just throw all of the ingredients together into a pretty bowl and let them marinate until you are ready to serve them. Garnish with the pine nuts!

Unless you are making this the day before, you don't even have to refrigerate it, it's better at room temperature! For a few variations on a theme you can serve it over freshly cooked penne pasta with some fresh parmesan cheese, or add try adding torn "day old" french bread to the salad just before serving it over cold romaine leaves. You can also take the same salad (sans the bread!) and add a can of tuna  packed in olive oil (the expensive Italian kind is worth every penny!) , a sliced hard boiled egg and some green beans for a wonderful dinner salad.

  Picture courtesy of www.barillaus.com


Fresh Asparagus Soup!

Asparagusspear

Fresh Asparagus...I can never get enough of it!  Usually I'm going on and on  about the virtues of eating foods in their season, but I WILL eat asparagus at any time! Fortunately for an addict like me, it's springtime always somewhere in the world, and fresh asparagus can be found almost year round.

However....that being said there is nothing as wonderful as asparagus locally harvested and steamed minutes from the field.In it's freshest state, it needs little adornment , the ends peeled, the  stalks boiled for a few minutes a some lightly salted water and dressed with just a bit of salt and butter.  I love to serve it to my guests prepared just this way, several spears of the fresh asparagus plated with individual dishes of fresh  hollandaise for dipping. Asparagus SHOULD be eaten with the fingers, that just deepens the enjoyment of it!

Fresh asparagus soup is really a wonderful treat , and it's very easy to make!

Just melt some excellent butter (about 4 tablespoons) in the bottom of a soup pot, and add some garlic oil. When the butter is foamy add two bunches of fresh asparagus that you have cut into bite sized pieces, along with 1 large bunch of chopped wild ramps (or scallions if the ramps are not in season!). I let them saute for about ten minutes and then add six cups of good chicken broth. Let the whole thing simmer for about 1/2 an hour, and then take an immersion blender and puree the soup in the cooking pot until smooth. Then I add about 1 and a half cups of organic half and half and season with a bit of salt and pepper!

That is the basic recipe, and once you've made it, you have a delicious soup that you can embellish in many different ways.

I love to add curry powder to Asapragus soup, or a simple roasted cumin oil. Another variation is to put some lightly sauteed lump crabmeat with fresh chives in the bottom of each individual bowl and pour the soup over it. Another wonderful trick is is to add a flourish of fresh cream that you've mixed a little bit of limoncello (that fabulous Italian lemon cordial) at the end. Just pour a bit of it into the soup and swirl a fork through it for a lovely marbled effect.  My husband, the truffle addict loves it when I sprinkle some fresh parmesan cheese over the top of the soup and a few drops of white truffle oil!

Whatever you add to it should be flavorful enough to enhance the asparagus, but not so strong that it overpowers it. It's a fine line , but have fun , and let me know what you come up with!   

I serve this with a simple chilled riesling,a very ripe wedge of brie, a white bean salad , some good sausage and chewy bread.  If the soup is cold, this IS the ultimate picnic lunch!

Bon Appetit!

Photograph of wild asparagus growing in Idaho from www.showshown.com


Fresh Asparagus Soup!

Asparagusspear

Fresh Asparagus...I can never get enough of it!  Usually I'm going on and on  about the virtues of eating foods in their season, but I WILL eat asparagus at any time! Fortunately for an addict like me, it's springtime always somewhere in the world, and fresh asparagus can be found almost year round.

However....that being said there is nothing as wonderful as asparagus locally harvested and steamed minutes from the field.In it's freshest state, it needs little adornment , the ends peeled, the  stalks boiled for a few minutes a some lightly salted water and dressed with just a bit of salt and butter.  I love to serve it to my guests prepared just this way, several spears of the fresh asparagus plated with individual dishes of fresh  hollandaise for dipping. Asparagus SHOULD be eaten with the fingers, that just deepens the enjoyment of it!

Fresh asparagus soup is really a wonderful treat , and it's very easy to make!

Just melt some excellent butter (about 4 tablespoons) in the bottom of a soup pot, and add some garlic oil. When the butter is foamy add two bunches of fresh asparagus that you have cut into bite sized pieces, along with 1 large bunch of chopped wild ramps (or scallions if the ramps are not in season!). I let them saute for about ten minutes and then add six cups of good chicken broth. Let the whole thing simmer for about 1/2 an hour, and then take an immersion blender and puree the soup in the cooking pot until smooth. Then I add about 1 and a half cups of organic half and half and season with a bit of salt and pepper!

That is the basic recipe, and once you've made it, you have a delicious soup that you can embellish in many different ways.

I love to add curry powder to Asapragus soup, or a simple roasted cumin oil. Another variation is to put some lightly sauteed lump crabmeat with fresh chives in the bottom of each individual bowl and pour the soup over it. Another wonderful trick is is to add a flourish of fresh cream that you've mixed a little bit of limoncello (that fabulous Italian lemon cordial) at the end. Just pour a bit of it into the soup and swirl a fork through it for a lovely marbled effect.  My husband, the truffle addict loves it when I sprinkle some fresh parmesan cheese over the top of the soup and a few drops of white truffle oil!

Whatever you add to it should be flavorful enough to enhance the asparagus, but not so strong that it overpowers it. It's a fine line , but have fun , and let me know what you come up with!   

I serve this with a simple chilled riesling,a very ripe wedge of brie, a white bean salad , some good sausage and chewy bread.  If the soup is cold, this IS the ultimate picnic lunch!

Bon Appetit!

Photograph of wild asparagus growing in Idaho from www.showshown.com


Wild Ramps!

Michwild_ramp4_358fimg Wildleeks Well, a girl can dream can't she! It's early February, and alot of of snow is on the ground, but my half full cup says that it's almost Spring, and what this girl is dreaming about is a lovely trail ride through the woods with her favorite horse, Henry and her gathering basket, being seduced by the enticing flavour of the wild ramps that can can be found in early to mid April! Wild ramps are a seasonal vegetable, found from late March to mid May depending upon where you live. I love to use them in soups and stews, and have even been know to eat one or two of them raw with fresh sweet butter and bit of French sea salt. You'll find my favorite recipe for fresh asparagus soup (another springtime delicacy) with wild ramps over in the Spring recipe section.  Wild ramps are a  effective purifier for the blood, and a amazing tonic for your immune system. You'll know that you've found a patch of them when your nose picks up a spicy garlicky aroma, amid the yummy fresh greens, sweet dirt smells of spring. Just take a few of the shoots and leave plenty more, trust me, a few is all you will need because the flavour is intense!  If you don't have time to go find your own, the good news is that wild ramps will have been harvested for you by many of the wonderful farmers who have booths at the outdoor markets that begin in the Spring. Our own North Union Farmers Market at Shaker Square in Shaker Heights is a wonderful resource every year for absolutely wonderful wild treats! 

www.lkwdpl.org/farmersmarket/

A Few Rules About Harvesting Wild Foods!

Always make sure that you know what you are harvesting. Get a really good guide book, and if possible go with someone who knows how to distinguish between similar looking plants. Old farmers are usually a great source of information, but please leave wild mushroom harvesting to the pros!

Take a smaller amount than what you think you need and if possible gather from several different spots.

Always make sure that you have permission to gather on the land.

When you gather wild foods, make sure that you leave dirt on the roots, and keep a moist towel with you to wrap them in. I like to use cloth dishtowels, because I think that paper towels are too absorbent for the delicate roots.

Use a small hand cultivator to harvest your wild plants, and when you are choosing which plants to take, (as goofy as this may sound!) simply ask them! It's my experience that plants that are ready to be picked simply slide out of the earth more easily. If you get some real resistance, move on to the next one, and please don't pull on them so hard that they are damaged! There will always be one or two that will be happy to go home with you! A gentle tug is all that they need and then a light twist of your cultivator to help release them.

Walk gently on the earth wherever you are, and when you gather wild things  please consider leaving something in return. The tradition of giving back to the earth is a very old one. I've always got something in my pocket (corn, hay, a little  bit of compost) to leave as a thank you. I know it sounds silly, but for me it completes the cycle.

Picture of harvested ramps  is from www.herbvideo.com

Picture of ramps in the woods from www.wild-harvest.com


Wild Ramps!

Michwild_ramp4_358fimg Wildleeks Well, a girl can dream can't she! It's early February, and alot of of snow is on the ground, but my half full cup says that it's almost Spring, and what this girl is dreaming about is a lovely trail ride through the woods with her favorite horse, Henry and her gathering basket, being seduced by the enticing flavour of the wild ramps that can can be found in early to mid April! Wild ramps are a seasonal vegetable, found from late March to mid May depending upon where you live. I love to use them in soups and stews, and have even been know to eat one or two of them raw with fresh sweet butter and bit of French sea salt. You'll find my favorite recipe for fresh asparagus soup (another springtime delicacy) with wild ramps over in the Spring recipe section.  Wild ramps are a  effective purifier for the blood, and a amazing tonic for your immune system. You'll know that you've found a patch of them when your nose picks up a spicy garlicky aroma, amid the yummy fresh greens, sweet dirt smells of spring. Just take a few of the shoots and leave plenty more, trust me, a few is all you will need because the flavour is intense!  If you don't have time to go find your own, the good news is that wild ramps will have been harvested for you by many of the wonderful farmers who have booths at the outdoor markets that begin in the Spring. Our own North Union Farmers Market at Shaker Square in Shaker Heights is a wonderful resource every year for absolutely wonderful wild treats! 

www.lkwdpl.org/farmersmarket/

A Few Rules About Harvesting Wild Foods!

Always make sure that you know what you are harvesting. Get a really good guide book, and if possible go with someone who knows how to distinguish between similar looking plants. Old farmers are usually a great source of information, but please leave wild mushroom harvesting to the pros!

Take a smaller amount than what you think you need and if possible gather from several different spots.

Always make sure that you have permission to gather on the land.

When you gather wild foods, make sure that you leave dirt on the roots, and keep a moist towel with you to wrap them in. I like to use cloth dishtowels, because I think that paper towels are too absorbent for the delicate roots.

Use a small hand cultivator to harvest your wild plants, and when you are choosing which plants to take, (as goofy as this may sound!) simply ask them! It's my experience that plants that are ready to be picked simply slide out of the earth more easily. If you get some real resistance, move on to the next one, and please don't pull on them so hard that they are damaged! There will always be one or two that will be happy to go home with you! A gentle tug is all that they need and then a light twist of your cultivator to help release them.

Walk gently on the earth wherever you are, and when you gather wild things  please consider leaving something in return. The tradition of giving back to the earth is a very old one. I've always got something in my pocket (corn, hay, a little  bit of compost) to leave as a thank you. I know it sounds silly, but for me it completes the cycle.

Picture of harvested ramps  is from www.herbvideo.com

Picture of ramps in the woods from www.wild-harvest.com