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Waldorf Salad

21 Feb

Late in the game—the book has already been designed, laid out, and copy edited once—my editor and I decided that The Apple Lover’s Cookbook really needs a Waldorf Salad recipe. I wanted it to be substantial, though, and not mayonnaise-y like the traditional salad. Adding rotisserie chicken and using a blend of Greek yogurt and mayo in the dressing solved those problems. I also wanted lots of walnuts, some lemon, and tarragon, and halved red grapes instead of raisins. I kept the celery and the apple, but left the fruit out of the creamy dressing so that it still looks pretty.

Waldorf Salad

Apple Notes: You want apple varieties that resist browning. Some examples: Cortland, Ginger Gold, Spigold, and Fuji.

Active time: 30 minutes; Total time: 30 minutes
Makes: 4 servings as a lunch entree, 6 as a side dish
Notes: If you don’t like tarragon, you can substitute parsley, chervil, or chives. A 1 1/2 pound rotisserie chicken will give you enough meat for this salad.

For the dressings:
1/4 cup (60 ml) fresh lemon juice, divided
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/3 cup (about 3 ounces or 100 g) reduced fat Greek-style yogurt
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon minced fresh tarragon (see Notes)
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons (about 1/2 ounce or 18 g) minced sweet onion, such as Walla Walla or Vidalia

For the salad:
2/3 cup (75 g) walnut pieces
1/2 pound (226 g) breast and/or thigh meat from a rotisserie chicken (see Notes)
1 1/2 large celery stalks (about 4 ounces or 113 g), very thinly sliced crosswise
1 cup (about 6 ounces or 175 g) halved seedless red grapes
1 medium salad-friendly apple (about 6 ounces or 170 g, see Apple Notes) cored and cut into thin wedges.
6 ounces butter lettuce

Equipment: 8- to 12-inch heavy-bottomed skillet

1. First, make the dressings: In a small bowl, whisk together 1 tablespoon lemon juice with the olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt. Set aside. In another small bowl, stir together the yogurt, mayonnaise, tarragon, honey, lemon zest, remaining salt, and pepper. Stir in onion. Set aside while you prepare the salad.

2.  Toast walnuts in skillet over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until brown and fragrant, about 10 minutes. Pour into a medium bowl and let cool as you prepare the chicken: Remove any skin and tear the chicken into 2- or 3-inch strips. Add to the bowl with the walnuts. Add the celery and the yogurt dressing and stir so that everything is evenly covered.

3. In your serving bowl, toss the lettuce, grapes, and apple slices with the lemon-oil dressing. Spoon the chicken mixture over all. Use your hands to lightly fluff the leaves and grapes, just to make it look pretty. Serve on chilled salad plates.

Cookin’ Cake

21 Feb
I’ve had a set of six vintage aluminum jello molds for about five years now.

I bought them at Cookin‘, a secondhand cookware shop in San Francisco. It’s  fun, if overpriced: rambly, stuffed-to-the-rafters, and organized in a way that isn’t clear to anyone but the owner. It’s a nice way to spend an afternoon if you’re in the Haight. But I think many of its customers find the name vaguely embarrassing. “Hey, do you want to go to, ummm Cookin’ today?” They say it like they’re inserting quotes around the word.

The store has been around for about 30 years. Maybe “Cookin'” seemed jazzy in the early 70s.

Anyway, these molds have been collecting dust on a bookshelf, but on Friday I found myself with some extra cake batter (from the most delicious yellow  cake recipe by Shirley Corriher). I buttered, floured, and filled up a mold, popped it in the oven for 25 minutes, and voila.

I could’ve been gentler with the release, but Max didn’t complain.

Scenes from a cookbook

5 Aug

Scenes from a cookbook

Apple-Pear Cobbler with Lemon-Cornmeal Biscuits

14 Jul

I’ve been working on an apple cookbook for W.W. Norton for far too long, and am devoting the next several weeks to finishing it up. Here’s a recipe from yesterday’s session—one of my favorites so far.

Pale, but tasty!

Pale, but tasty!

Apple-Pear Cobbler with Lemon-Cornmeal Biscuits

You know you have a good dessert when, after spending all day in the kitchen developing it, you still choose to eat another serving instead of a proper dinner. This is a fresh and unexpected take on a New England classic, topped with tender but crunchy cornmeal biscuits, laced with lemon and glazed with cream and sugar. The apples and pears in the filling are fully complementary (remember: fruits that sweeten together can be eaten together!), and really pop with a hit of lemon juice.

Active time: 35 minutes; Total time: 65 minutes
Makes: 8 servings

For the filling:
2 1/2 pounds firm-tart apples, such as Granny Smith or Newtown Pippin
1 1/2 pounds ripe pears, such as Bosc or Bartlett
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small cubes

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The ultimate summer house 4-ingredient marinade

6 Jul

Is it only foodie types who find extra pleasure in vacation cooking? The unhurriedness of it, the departure from the usual routine and the usual supermarket. Even non-cooks can make an event of boiling water and corn after a day at the beach, or doing burgers on a rental house grill—if only because there are usually extra hands around for clean-up.

Scenes from Hatchs Produce

Scene's from Hatch's Produce

This is especially true if you’re in the habit of visiting a particular vacation spot with some regularity—a habit so ingrained in New Englanders  that the annual family trek to Maine or Cape Cod takes on an air of religious obligation. In the kitchens of our family and (ahem) rental cottages, a Vacation Repertoire emerges—a handful of generally easy-to-make recipes that are unique to the particular time and place. These meals get added to the list of things, like watching the sunset at Duck Harbor Beach or going to the drive-in, that absolutely must happen, lest the whole week be a complete failure.

Or maybe it’s just me who does this?

Anyway, this marinade is my vacation dinner ritual. It’s brilliant because it a) tastes great and b) as the title indicates, requires just four ingredients. Four! That leaves plenty of room in your cooler for the fancy vinegars and Splenda packets and soy milk you insist on schlepping in from home.

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Scape clause

1 Jul
240px-KohlrabiinMarket

Cruciferous curse?

The truth about shopping at New England farmers markets between, say, early May and mid-June, is that because it takes so long for the growing season to ramp up, farmers feature all kinds of lesser-known, semi-wacky, cold-tolerant crops. Hence the otherwise unlikely celebration of fiddlehead ferns, ramps, kale, kohlrabi (pictured at right — a close cousin of cabbage), and garlic scapes .

Things improve in June, with the onset of strawberry season. At least, in theory. This year’s berries have come through the biblical floods tasting unusually waterlogged.

So…not the best year (so far). But it does push you out of your tomato/squash/eggplant rut, right? I’ve had some tasty braised kale in recent weeks. And one truly, objectively delicious item on the tables right now? Those garlic scapes.

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