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I’ve been baking out of control the last few days–clearly I am on holiday, as my kitchen fills up with floury, sugary concoctions. But Christmas dinner is more than just bread and cookies, as much as I’d like to pretend otherwise. I took a break from the flour yesterday to throw together this charming salad.
This salad looks like any other– pretty because of its colourful ingredients, but nothing out of the ordinary. The leaves are bright green, the mandarins glow orange, the red onion offers some purple, the goat cheese matte white, and the whole thing glistens thanks to the dressing. A salad is always welcome on my dinner plate, but especially at a holiday meal, where things tend to get a bit heavy. This one is secretly special, though, thanks to its fantastic dressing, scented with Earl Grey tea to give a hint of bergamot and herbs. Honestly, it looks like any other salad, but it’s not. In fact, after I photographed it, I wolfed it down in the space of a minute and had to go back for another, bigger, bowl immediately. It’s that good. As far as the ingredients go, I used boxed mixed greens, some thinly-sliced red onion , nodded to the citrus notes of the bergamot with supremed fresh mandarins (which offered a welcome mellow sweetness), and finished the whole thing off with some salty goat’s milk feta (I think that blue cheese would also be fantastic with the bergamot dressing).
It’s a great holiday meal salad, something pretty but familiar, with just enough added “special” to make it right at home among all those carefully-laboured-over dishes you’re serving.
Adapted from an ATCO “Blue Flame Kitchen” holiday cookbook. This recipe makes about 1 cup of dressing, which should last 4-5 days in the fridge.
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
2 Earl Grey tea bags
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon dried Herbes de Provence, crushed
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
a few grinds of pepper
2/3 cups extra-virgin olive oil
1. Bring vinegar to a boil over low heat. Remove the vinegar from the heat as soon as it begins to boil and pour it over the tea bags in a small bowl. Cover bowl and allow tea to steep for 30 minutes. Remove the tea bags, squeezing them a little to get the last drops of vinegar out of them. Discard tea bags. (Just a thought: at this point, the vinegar could be bottled in a pretty glass bottle and given as a gift. It’s pretty fancy!)
2. For dressing, combine vinegar, mustard, Herbes de Provence, sugar, salt, and some generous grinds of pepper in a small bowl. Whisk them all together.
3. Add oil in a slow drizzle, whisking constantly to emulsify.
4. To serve, toss with mixed greens and your choice of salad ingredients (see above for some ideas).
Did you think we were gone? We’re still here, though it seems that we’re barely eating and barely keeping up with life as we anticipate some big changes that all of a sudden are sitting there like mountains, just feet away. Oops.
Anyway, I’m breaking the silence to tell you about Arfi and her interesting blog HomemadeS. After having so much fun browsing through someone’s back recipes with last month’s Taste and Create, hosted by For the Love of Food, I couldn’t wait to play again. This month I got to browse through an exotic (to me, anyway) collection of recipes. Arfi posts a lot of Indonesian recipes, and I can’t wait to go through her archive and do some more cooking. Bubur Injit, Sambar Telur Manis, and Empal Panggang are on my must-try list now, but I have to admit that I settled on slightly less adventurous choices. I couldn’t resist making two things: corn fritters and ginger tea.
The corn fritters were lovely. Arfi brought exciting flavour to a nice simple base of corn, flour, and egg with the addition of crispy fried shallots, feta, and celery leaves. Yum! I can’t wait to make them again. The only change I made to her recipe was the addition of some buttermilk, which I added because I found the mixture a bit too dry to work with. I liked the tangy flavour it added, and I thought it went well with the creamy feta. We ate the fritters alongside tomato soup.
After finding the corn fritter recipe, I did some more digging and found a recipe for ginger tea concentrate. Again, nice and simple with a great result. I mixed the concentrate with straight lemon juice and diluted it with water in a one-to-one ratio. I loved the combo of lemony sour, spicy ginger, and sweet palm sugar. I just wish it were summer, so I could appreciate it from a sun-dappled picnic table in a park somewhere. Thanks so much, Arfi!
There’s been a theme to my last few posts. I’ll give you a second to go back and check, if you want. Booze, dessert, syrup, pasta. Yeah… we’ve been putting lemon in everything.
Well, if you’re looking for a change of pace, I’ve got none to offer. And I’m not apologizing, because I think this next recipe is another great use of lemon. Try it, you’ll like it.
First, an intro: this month I signed up for a great event called Taste & Create, at For the Love of Food. Participants get matched up with another blog, and you both go through each other’s archives and find a recipe to recreate. I love this idea and I can’t wait to do it again. You should do it too!
We were lucky to be paired with Andreea and Mark of Glorious Food and Wine. I loved paging through their posts (ahem.. and felt a little guilty about the blog’s wealth of recipes. Unfortunately for Andreea, she had a much smaller pool of recipes at SiS to choose from). I love the casual “toss some of this in, throw together some of that” feel of the blog, and the photos are great! There was so much to choose from, but I settled on some plain old potatoes. Well. Not so plain.
Rustic Anchovies Potatoes caught my eye. It’s got something I’ve never tried before (how have I gone this many years without anchovies?), and it’s got lemon. Two of my hangups in one recipe equals something I must try.
I wanted to make sure that I could taste the lemon, so I fiddled a bit. While Andreea and Mark’s guidelines call for a lemon roasted with the potatoes, I went one step further. After roasting the potatoes with a quartered lemon, I tossed the finished product in a little sauce made from a bit of lemon juice (maybe half a tablespoon) mixed with diced anchovies. It worked out great! The sour of the lemons and umami of the anchovies were a nice mix, and made ordinary roasted potatoes into something that tasted entirely new. Hooray!
Hey, Carlo here. And look! A new feature. Don’t go holding me to it just because I made a banner.
So Hanne keeps signing SiS up to blogging groups, which is great, but my non-participation makes me feel (and likely look) like the sort of curmudgeonly husband who sends his wife off to dinner parties alone because there’s a very important hockey game on and beer in the fridge. No, pointing out that the Oilers have no more important games left in them this season is not helpful.
Anyway. Here is our supper in stereo:
I pan fried “don’t call me deer if I’m dead” venison steaks smothered in half a log of Anthony Bourdain’s red wine compound butter (see Ruhlman). We always have a store of the butter in the freezer for last minute steaks. It’s like insta-marinade. I’ll post the recipe sometime.
The wine butter’s palate smack was nearly too much for the gamey/muddy taste of the deer steak (I guess that does sound weird). If it wasn’t for the roasted potato and anchovies turning the steak’s aftertaste on its head with its fishy citrus bite, I might not have enjoyed this meal as much as I did. Frankly, at first bite I didn’t like the potatoes much either, but they grew on me quick. I guess I wasn’t expecting such complex flavours out of meat and potatoes. We rounded out the plate with glazed carrots. Their sweetness helped level off the major umami busting off the other two thirds of the dish. Despite my initial skepticism, it turned out to be a great meal.
Oh yeah. The carrots were glazed with Meyer lemon honey. They were great, but I swear I now know there can be too much of a good thing. Okay Hanne? Next time life gives you more lemons than you know what to do with, use the freezer.
Anyway, thanks to the other blog for supplying us with the recipe. Oh and hey other blog, tell the other other blogs I’m not actually a big unsociable jerk, okay?