I’m ready for something light. The comfort foods of cooler weather just seem heavy and unappetizing now that the days are longer and the sun is shining. Well, that plus the candy fest that seems to run from St. Valentine’s day through Easter. Ugh. No more sugar. Please.
Shaved squash is all the foodie rage of late, and at first I thought, “uh – no.” But then I tried it. I must confess, it’s tasty. It is actually tender-crisp, mild, and ever so slightly sweet. And with some lemon? YUM! So today’s salad is a super light, marvelously crunchy concoction – it would be great as a big lunch salad, or as a side to some grilled chicken, fish, or tofu.
There is so much crunchiness going on – the tender crisp of the squash, the moist snap of the celery, the toasted earthy crunch of the toasted walnuts. Combined with the freshness of parsley and lemon, and the tangy creaminess of some fresh goat cheese and you are going to be so happy you made this!
Shaved Squash Salad with Lemon Shallot Vinagrette
Serves 2 as a side, or one for lunch
1 c. walnuts, toasted
1 thin zucchini, shaved in to strips.
2 stalks celery, sliced thin at an angle
½ shallot, minced
2 oz. chèvre
¼ c parsley, minced
Zest & juice of half lemon (about 2 Tbsp. juice)
¼ c. (or so) good olive oil
salt & pepper
For the walnuts:
These must be toasted. Heat the oven to 400*. Put the walnut halves on a baking sheet. Put it in the hot oven, and turn the heat off. Remove from the oven after 5 minutes (you should smell toasty nuts.) If they don’t smell toasty, leave them a few minutes more. Let them cool.
For the dressing:
Combine lemon juice, zest, mustard and shallot in a bowl. Whisk these with some salt & pepper until homogenous. Then, whisk in the olive oil just until it emulsifies.
For the salad:
Plate this just before eating it. Arrange the celery, then the squash, parsley,nuts and use a spoon to make little dollops of goat cheese. This might look pretty done Cobb-style with each ingredient in its own row, but I haven’t tried that. Drizzle with the dressing and enjoy!
So, we were fast approaching the day when all are Irish. I made soda bread for the first time last year, and it was not anything like I’d expected. It was like a giant scone that you slice. So, since I have that other blog deal now, I did the Irish for that. But that made me think about ciambella – an Italian breakfast cake. Lemony, not too sweet. A little dry so you can schmear it with yummy jam or dip it in your cappucino. It’s like Italian soda bread, really.
What do I love most about this? The rich buttery taste? The crunchy pearl sugar? The soft, lemony insides? I can never decide. But a hunk of this with some strawberry jam, and I am one happy, crumb-covered monster. This would be amazing with some whipped cream, too. I keep wanting to try it with orange. Or grapefruit. But hey – it’s citrus season. Maybe I’ll do that one next time.
This is an adaptation of a recipe from Mario Batali, and the freaking genius uses a food processer.
I know I’ve been away. I took hiaitus through mid-February. When I tried to come back, I discovered the dark, seedy underbelly of having a blog. My site had been corrupted by some dickweed embedding some malicious code. Hacked through a vulnerability in my theme, and possibly through the recipe plug-in I’d been using. The Yum was flagged. I couldn’t even get in – we tried many different ways over a couple of weeks, but in the end the bastard had us beat. We had to pay our hosting site a fee (that we call a ransom) to remove it. I’m still pissed – feeling that violated, and unable to do anything was beyond maddening. Sooo….yeah. That’s where I’ve been. It’s still not right – look at this ugly theme, for now. But I want to be up and running again, and will tweak the pretties over a little time. In the meanwhile, please enjoy some ciambella.
2 c. AP flour
½ c. sugar
½ tsp. baking powder
8 Tbsp (1 stick) butter
¼ tsp. almond extract
1 tsp. vanilla extract
zest of one lemon
¼ c. buttermilk or plain yogurt
2 Tbsp. pearl sugar & 1 tbsp. milk or water
Preheat oven to 375. Grease a shallow tube pan (like a baba au rhum pan), or line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Put the dry ingredients in the food process, pulse to combine.
Add the butter cubes, pulse until it looks like polenta.
Mix everything but the pearl sugar, pour it in the food processor, and pulse until you have dough.
It will be very stiff – like cookie dough. Pull it out, and roll it into a log about 2” thick. You can circle it in to the tube pan, or you can make it look like a giant doughnut on the parchment. You could also shape it in to a loaf about 3” wide and 8” long.
Once it’s shaped, brush it with the milk or water and sprinkle it with the pearl sugar.
Bake about 30-35 mins until golden and a tester comes out clean.
Cool and eat!
SERVINGS – 10
I have had creativity-thwarting anxiety about this post for the past month. Everyone in the Foodosphere always does some kind of “Yeah for me! Here’s a picture of my blog’s birthday cake!” But I don’t feel like making a birthday cake. And I don’t want a whole birthday cake in the house. (Hello! Because cake! Do you people not know me?) So I decided fuck it. I’m not making a huge deal.
Let me just say thank you. Having the short attention span that I do, I never thought I’d make it to two years. Let alone a hundred posts. I am proud of what I have accomplished. I just updated the blog’s Pinterest board and thought, “Wow. That’s a lot of content.” And although I have a slightly better idea what I’m doing, I still have no idea how long this will last.
Life is so weird. Still aimless after leaving the classroom, this blog has kept me grounded. And always makes me think of Rosalind Russell as Auntie Mame, saying:
What are the herbs and spices you use all the time? You know, the go-to-can’t-cook-without-them ones. Your desert island selection.
Besides the obvious kosher salt and fresh black pepper, I think the two straight spices I use ALL the time are freshly grated nutmeg and thyme. But there are three others that I have come to realize I cannot cook without.
And, no, I am not on their payroll. Although Himself is always after me to monetize my blog (yeah, right, with all three people who read it…)
But seriously – I use Sunny Paris with eggs, scrambled or poached/en cocotte. It is exquisite: échalotes et fines herbes. Yum.
And the Buttermilk – besides the obvious (our dairy-free chipotle ranch dressing for taco salads), it is the secret ingredient in my cauli mash, which is our new Bill-friendly version of mashed potatoes that we eat at least twice a week.
But the star, the star of this little triology of corporate happiness is the Tuscan Sunset. It turns ground turkey and tomatoes in to an absolutely fantastic sauce. Every time. Brown the meat and some onion. Deglaze with a little wine. Add the TS and some San Marzano tomatoes. Twenty minutes and you’re in heaven. Promise.
Are these a little spendy – yeah. But they last a ways. And, to have all the ingredients in Tuscany on hand would be more expensive than just getting the jar.
One of these days I’ll post the how to for the mash and the sauce. In the meantime, ya’ll know I’m a huge proponent of cook it yourself, but we all need a little helper. And these three are mine.
It’s been a very busy year. Fifty-ish posts. Three major hacking incidents; I actually had to get our hosting service to restore an old copy of the site in December because the hack was so insidious. I almost threw in the towel after that, but eventually decided some cowardly anonymous dickweed is not going to spoil my fun. One of the articles (oven omelettes!) got picked up by another site. Exciting times! (Thanks, Kate!) In the coming year, I want to improve my photographs, master more of the tech of the platform, and get comments to my posts. Even with those goals, I still wonder every day why I do this. Where do I see this going? The medium is super saturated; do I really have something unique to offer? I have a love/hate relationship with you, Yum. Many are the times I am so excited with an idea for a post, and yet sometimes I resent having to come up with one. But that feels pretty normal, honestly, and the fun still outweighs the work. So, away we go in 2015.
Anybody else out there blogging? Why do you do it? What keeps you going?