Posts Tagged ‘salad’

The 97th episode of Good Eats was all about fresh herbs, how to use them, and how to preserve them. Growing fresh herbs in the garden is one of my favorite things, as I love being able to spontaneously clip what I need for a summer salad or cocktail. What are Alton’s favorite herbs? He listed his top 10 in the episode:  chives, mint, thyme, dill, rosemary, oregano, basil, tarragon, sage, and parsley. Personally, I’d put cilantro on my top 10 list, but that’s just me.

To store fresh herbs in the kitchen, Alton recommends that you lay them out on paper towels, spritz them with some water, roll them up, and then roll them again in plastic wrap. He maintains that the crisper drawer is too cold for herbs, so you should actually store them in the top of the refrigerator. To store long-stemmed herbs like cilantro or parsley, cut an inch or so off of their stems and stand them in fresh water in the refrigerator.

When fresh herb season is coming to a close, you can always dry your surplus. To do this, dip the herbs in boiling water for five seconds and then plunge them into ice water. Run the herbs through a salad spinner and lay them between two new furnace filters. Strap the furnace filters to a box fan and let them dry for 12 hours. Flip the filters over and let the second side of the herbs dry for an additional 12 hours. Once the herbs are dry, rub them between your hands to easily remove the leaves from the stems.

Finally, if you prefer to freeze herbs for later use, you can portion them out and freeze them as ice cubes. After a quick thaw, your herbs are ready to use. In addition to all of his herb tips, Alton did also include two herb recipes in this episode, the first of which is for tarragon chive vinegar.

Tarragon Chive Vinegar

To make Alton’s tarragon chive vinegar, begin by putting 1 t of household bleach in two quarts of water. Swirl 12 sprigs each of fresh tarragon and fresh chives in the bleach water for about five seconds, and then move them to a large bowl of clean water to rinse. The bleach is used to kill any spores that could be on your fresh herbs.

While your herbs rinse in the clean water, heat 6 C of white wine vinegar to 190 degrees in a saucepan.

Place your clean herbs in a lidded container and pour the hot vinegar over them. Place the lid on the container and let it sit in a cool room for two weeks.

After two weeks, repeat the bleach water/rinse process with 12 sprigs each of fresh chives and tarragon.

Divide the fresh herbs among glass bottles, and pour the vinegar through a cheesecloth-lined funnel over the fresh herbs; discard the original steeping herbs.

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Vinegar strained and poured over fresh herbs in bottles.

Store the vinegar in the refrigerator for five-six months or at room temperature for five-six weeks. Though this vinegar takes a couple weeks to steep, it is super easy and looks really pretty in the bottle. Hello, gift idea! So far, we have used this vinegar on salads and vegetables and we really like it. I would not be able to identify the flavor of chives in this vinegar, as tarragon is the predominant flavor. I was nervous that the tarragon flavor would be too intense, but the vinegar is actually very well-balanced and adds only a subtle tarragon flavor. This is a fun, easy project and you could certainly try it with other fresh herbs.

Parsley Salad

The other recipe in this episode is for a parsley salad. Alton seems to feel that parsley is a very underappreciated herb that is often viewed only as a garnish. Here, though, Alton makes parsley the star. For the salad dressing, whisk in a bowl 2 T lemon juice, 2 T lemon zest, 1 t honey, a pinch of Kosher salt, 2 t of toasted sesame oil, and 6 T walnut oil.

Fold four ounces of cleaned/sorted parsley leaves into the dressing, along with 3 T toasted sesame seeds.

Let the salad sit for 30 minutes before serving. Since only two of us were eating this salad, I made half a recipe, which gave us each a proper side salad portion.

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Bowl of parsley salad.

IMG_6851I liked this salad more than I thought I would. Parsley leaves are a little tougher/chewier than other greens, but the texture really did not bother me. I found the dressing to be an amazing compliment to the parsley flavor. The dressing had quite a lemony punch, but also had roasted and nutty flavors from the oils. If you, too, are biased against parsley, give this recipe a go. This recipe truly did make me realize that parsley has more uses than I give it credit for. Plus, this finally gives a way to use up that last half-bunch of parsley (does anyone ever actually finish a full bunch of parsley before it spoils?), rather than throwing it in the trash.

As I type, my beloved Coonhound, Hitcher, lies next to me. He was diagnosed with inoperable cancer a few weeks ago. He has been my constant sidekick since we found him, as an abandoned puppy, on a roadside 10+ years ago. This news has been tough – very, very tough. Once again, I will use this Good Eats project to distract myself.

As the daughter and granddaughter of Marylanders, I have had my share of crab over the years. Growing up, a trip to Grandma and Granddaddy’s was not complete without a crab dinner (or 3!). Whether it was a trip to a local seafood restaurant, a family crab picking session around Grandma’s table, or a plate of Grandma’s amazing homemade crab cakes, crab was something we ate early and often. Yes, this was an episode I eagerly anticipated.

Steamed Alaskan King Crab Legs

Alton’s preparation of crab legs was first in this episode. When purchasing crab legs, it is best to buy frozen legs (frozen crab has already been cooked), thawing them overnight in the refrigerator at home; just be sure to allow the moisture to drain away from them as they thaw, and consume any thawed crab within 24 hours. Alaskan king crab legs are large, so you can allot two per person.

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Alaskan king crab legs.

Working with three legs at a time, break/cut each leg into sections at the joints. Wrap the segments in two layers of damp paper towels, along with a sprig of fresh dill.

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Alaskan king crab legs, broken into segments and topped with fresh dill.

Wrap the entire bundle tightly in plastic wrap, and microwave it for two minutes on high power; the goal here is to re-heat, rather than re-cook the crab.

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Alaskan king crab legs, broken into segments, and topped with fresh dill. Wrapped in damp paper towels and plastic wrap, the whole bundle heads into the microwave.

Let the heated crab legs rest in their bundles while you microwave any remaining packages of crab. Serve the legs with ghee, which just happens to be the next recipe in this episode.

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Steamed crab legs, served with ghee.

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Alton’s crab leg method is outstanding. It takes almost no time to prepare an amazing meal, using this method. If you want to have crab legs at home, this is the way to do it.

Ghee

What goes better with crab than butter? As mentioned above, Alton recommends serving his crab legs with ghee. To make Alton’s ghee, melt a pound (I did 1/2 pound) of unsalted butter over low heat.

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Melting unsalted butter over low heat.

As soon as the butter has liquefied, increase the heat to medium.

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Liquefied butter. Increasing the heat to medium.

Continue to cook the butter over medium heat until it finishes foaming.

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Butter, foaming for the first time.

When the foaming has ceased, increase the heat to high and wait for the butter to foam a second time. Watch the pan carefully, as the butter can easily burn.

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Butter, foaming for the second time.

When your ghee is ready, the pan will have brown bits on the bottom and the butter will have darkened slightly. Strain the ghee into a clean container and serve.

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Strained ghee.

Ghee is a perfect accompaniment for crab legs, and Alton’s explanation of how to make ghee is super easy. If you prep crab legs at home, be sure to make some ghee also!

Marinated Crab Salad

Alton’s third crab recipe is for a marinated crab salad. I suppose you could just purchase crab meat for this, which is how the online recipe is written, but what fun would that be? Instead, in the episode, Alton hand picked the meat from two Dungeness crabs. Thankfully, I was able to find whole Dungeness crabs at a new local store.

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Whole Dungeness crab.

If you have never picked a crab before, here are Alton’s instructions:

  1. Flip the crab upside down.
  2. Use a screwdriver to pry off the apron.
  3. Holding the crab over a sink, pry off the back of the crab.
  4. Rinse the inside of the crab.
  5. Pull off any gray gills, discarding them.
  6. Twist off the legs.
  7. Break the remaining central core in half and pull out as much meat as you can from the tiny compartments.
  8. Crack each leg and scoop out the meat.

My crabs had already been prepped through step 5, so I just had to get the meat out.

Once you have your crab meat, it is time to make the marinade for the salad. Combine in a large Ziplock bag:  1 C olive oil, 1 C red wine vinegar, 2 cloves minced garlic, 1/2 C chopped parsley, 1/4 C fresh tarragon, 1 1/2 t Kosher salt, and 1/2 t pepper.

Use an immersion blender to thoroughly emulsify the marinade. Add your crab meat to the marinade, pushing any excess air out of the bag. Refrigerate the crab for 4-8 hours.

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Marinade and crab in plastic bag.

Serve the crab mixture over mixed greens with lemon wedges.

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Marinated crab salad, served over greens.

This was a light summer entrée that we enjoyed on our deck. While tasty, I did feel that the delicate flavor of the crab was a little overpowered by the marinade. To me, crab is so good on its own (see the crab leg recipe above) that I would tend toward recipes that allow the crab to shine more.

Crab Fritters

Crab fritters were Alton’s last recipe in this episode, and he did use purchased crabmeat for this one. In the episode, he used a 50/50 combination of lump and special crabmeat. Since I was only feeding two of us, I used one 8-ounce container of jumbo crabmeat.

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8 ounces of crab meat.

To begin, place a rack on a sheet pan for draining and heat 2 1/2 quarts of canola oil to 375 degrees over medium heat.

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Canola oil, heating to 375.

Meanwhile, combine 1 C lump crab meat, 1 C special crab meat, 1/2 C mayo, the juice of 1/2 a lemon, and 1/2 t pepper.

Scoop the crab mixture with a 1-ounce ice cream scoop, rolling the balls in Panko breadcrumbs.

Alton tells you to fry the balls for 5-7 minutes, or until they are golden, but I found that my fritters were done in 3-4 minutes.

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Fritters, added to hot oil.

I served my fritters with lemon wedges.

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Crab fritters.

Alton’s crab fritters were pretty darn delicious, as they had little “filler” and loads of crab. The Panko breadcrumbs gave a crispy, crunchy shell to the creamy crab/mayo filling. These are a definite great alternative to the classic crab cake.

Fresh Yogurt

Yogurt is one of those things that I always feel I should eat more of than I do. I tend to go in spurts with yogurt, eating it frequently for a while, and then not at all. Alton’s yogurt episode began with homemade yogurt. I made homemade yogurt once years ago when I was in grad school, as part of my food microbiology lab course. All I really remember from that experience was that I had a lab partner from Mongolia who called himself “Woody,” I could barely understand a word he said, and our yogurt was very pink. Needless to say, I was hopeful that my Woody-less yogurt would be more successful. When making Alton’s yogurt, you can use any type of milk that you choose, but Alton opted for organic 2% milk in the episode of Good Eats. Alton did say that whole milk will result in looser yogurt, while skim milk will yield yogurt with a grainy texture. In addition to a quart of milk, you will need 1/2 C of powdered milk, 2 T honey, and 1/2 C of plain yogurt, containing live cultures.

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Ingredients for homemade yogurt: plain yogurt with live cultures, dry milk, honey, and milk.

Begin by pouring your milk into a saucepan, adding the powdered milk and honey.

Meanwhile, allow your yogurt to come to room temperature.

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Plain yogurt, being brought to room temperature.

Using a probe thermometer, heat the milk mixture to 120 degrees over medium heat. Remove the milk from the heat, and pour it into a clean cylindrical container, allowing it to cool to 115 degrees.

Once the milk has cooled, whisk about a cup of the warm milk into the yogurt.

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About 1 C of warm milk whisked into yogurt.

Then, whisk the yogurt/milk mixture back into the cylinder of milk. Wrap the cylinder in a heating pad that will maintain the yogurt’s temperature between 100 and 120 degrees; you can test your heating pad first by filling your cylinder with water.

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Yogurt added to milk and wrapped with heating pad to ferment for 6 hours.

Allow your yogurt to ferment for three to 12 hours, depending on how you like the texture of your yogurt; a shorter fermentation will yield looser yogurt, while a longer fermentation will give thicker yogurt. Alton did an even six hours in the episode.

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Yogurt, after fermenting for 6 hours.

Refrigerate your yogurt overnight before using.

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Alton’s homemade yogurt.

I thought this yogurt was fine, but really nothing special. If anything, I would have liked this yogurt to have had a thicker texture, so I would possibly ferment it a little longer if I were to make it again. Honestly, I wouldn’t go to the trouble of making this again when I can easily buy yogurt that I like just as much.

Thousand Island Dressing

So, really, Alton calls this dressing “Million Island Dressing” in the episode, and it is a good use for some of his homemade yogurt. To make his dressing, whisk together 1 C plain yogurt, 2 T vegetable oil, and 2 T tomato sauce.

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Yogurt, tomato sauce, and vegetable oil.

Once combined, add 2 t lemon juice, 2 t dry mustard, and 2 t sugar.

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Lemon juice, dry mustard, and sugar added to dressing.

Next, whisk in 1 t Kosher salt and 1/2 t pepper.

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Kosher salt and pepper added to dressing.

Finally, fold in 1/2 C diced onion, 1 T relish, 1 T chopped green olives, and 1 minced jalapeno.

I enjoyed this dressing more than I thought I would. It has a really good kick from the jalapeno, tang from the yogurt and lemon, and bite from the onion. It also adds a lot of texture to a salad. We actually liked this enough that I made it a couple times in one week for us to eat on our lunch salads. This is a really good salad dressing.

Tarragon Yogurt Sauce

If you are looking for another savory application for plain yogurt, this tarragon sauce is one to try. This sauce is very versatile and could be served over many things, including fish, eggs, and vegetables; in the episode, Alton says that his favorite use of this sauce is over braised carrots, so that is how I opted to use mine. For this sauce, begin by heating a saucier over medium heat, adding 2 T olive oil, 1/2 t Kosher salt, 1/2 C finely chopped onion, and 1 1/2 t minced garlic.

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Olive oil, Kosher salt, onion, and garlic in saucier.

I did not have a saucier until recently, but I inherited my parents’ copper-bottomed Calphalon saucier when my brother and I finished sorting through our parents’ belongings; thankfully, my parents are still living, but they really do not cook anymore. Yes, I have learned that a saucier is a very nice tool to have for a job such as this tarragon sauce. While your onion and garlic saute, combine 2 T cornstarch and 1 C chicken stock in a lidded container, and shake to combine. This slurry will help to thicken the sauce, and will also prevent over-coagulation of proteins, AKA curdling. Cream-based sauces have enough fat to prevent curdling, but yogurt-based sauces do not. Anyway, add the slurry to the pan, increase the heat, and add 1 1/2 T dried tarragon, whisking.

Remove the pan from the heat and temper 1 C of plain yogurt by gradually whisking in some of the sauce mixture. Finally, add the tempered yogurt to the pan, whisking.

Heat the sauce over low heat, just until warmed through. As I said before, we ate this sauce over carrots as a side dish.

The tarragon flavor in this sauce is quite strong, giving a real anise-like flavor, and you also really taste the yogurt. This is a sauce you could make with other herbs too; I think a dill version would pair terrifically with salmon. Either way, this is an easy sauce to dress up veggies or protein.

Yogurt Cheese

What is yogurt cheese? Yogurt cheese is yogurt that has been allowed to drain, removing whey. While cheese has had its whey removed, regular yogurt has not. Allowing yogurt to drain results in a thick yogurt that has a consistency similar to cream cheese. To make yogurt cheese, line a strainer with two layers of cheesecloth, setting the strainer over a bowl. Add a quart of plain yogurt to the strainer, folding the cheesecloth over the top.

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A quart of plain yogurt in a cheesecloth-lined strainer.

Weigh the yogurt down with the lid of a pot and a can, refrigerating it for four hours.

Yogurt cheese can be used plain as a spread, or in Alton’s recipe for frozen yogurt, which I will write about below. I tasted the plain yogurt cheese, but opted to use it for Alton’s other recipe; it tasted like plain yogurt… just much, much thicker.

Herb Spread

This herb spread is basically the same recipe as the one for yogurt cheese above, but with added seasonings. To a quart of plain yogurt (I used homemade) add 1 1/2 t cumin, 2 T chopped parsley, 1 t Kosher salt, and 1/2 t pepper.

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Cumin, parsley, Kosher salt, and pepper added to a quart of plain yogurt.

As with the yogurt cheese above, place a cheesecloth-lined strainer over a bowl and add the yogurt mixture.

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Seasoned yogurt poured in cheesecloth-lined strainer to drain.

Weigh the yogurt down with a pan lid and can, allowing it to drain for four hours in the refrigerator.

The resulting spread is tangy and has a punch of cumin, and it is great with crackers or on sandwiches.

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Herb spread with crackers.

Talk about an easy hors d’oeuvre, and it is even easier if you use store-purchased yogurt!

Lemon-Ginger Frozen Yogurt

This recipe is the perfect use for Alton’s yogurt cheese. Combine in a bowl 4 C plain yogurt cheese, 3/4 C sugar, 1/2 C light corn syrup, 2 t lemon zest, 1 T minced fresh ginger, and 3 T lemon juice.

Whisk the yogurt mixture until smooth and freeze in an ice cream mixture per the manufacturer’s instructions.

In the last few minutes of churning, add 1/4 C chopped crystallized ginger.

Freeze the frozen yogurt in the freezer until firm.

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Alton’s lemon-ginger frozen yogurt.

This frozen yogurt is super refreshing and reminds me of warmer weather (as I type this, it is snowy outside and the Christmas tree is illuminated). The first time we ate this frozen yogurt, the crystallized ginger seemed too chewy, but after freezing the yogurt for a longer period, the chewiness went away. I definitely foresee making this again, as it is packed with ginger and lemon flavor, and is a relatively healthy treat. This is worth making.

 

It’s hard to believe that this post will finish up five seasons of Good Eats – only nine more seasons to go! So, what did Alton choose to finish up his fifth season with? Potatoes were the choice for this season finale, and if you recall, they were also the subject of the second episode of Good Eats. It’s only fair for the mighty potato to star in two episodes since there are so many things you can do with it, such as…

Leftover Baked Potato Soup

First up was Alton’s potato soup. This soup comes together pretty quickly, so you can easily make it on a weeknight. Begin by melting 3 T butter in a pot.

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3 T butter

Add 1 1/2 C diced leeks, 1 1/2 T minced garlic, and some Kosher salt. Sweat the leeks until they are translucent and add 6 C chicken stock to the pot, increasing the heat to a simmer.

While the liquid simmers, press four baked russet potatoes through a ricer into a bowl. Though the online recipe says you should peel the potatoes, Alton did not peel his potatoes in the episode.

Pour 1 1/2 C buttermilk into the riced potatoes, whisking. The starch from the potatoes will prevent the buttermilk from curdling when it is added to the hot stock. Also whisk 1/2 C sour cream and 1/2 C grated Parmesan into the potato mixture.

By the time you are done prepping the potatoes, the stock should be simmering nicely on the stove. Add the potato mixture to the hot stock, and bring the soup back to a simmer.

Just before serving, stir 2 T sherry vinegar into the soup.

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Sherry vinegar, to be stirred in right before serving.

Garnish the soup with Kosher salt, pepper, and chopped chives.

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A bowl of Alton’s potato soup with Kosher salt, pepper, and chives.

I fixed this soup for us two nights ago after baking my potatoes earlier in the day. The soup itself really takes no time at all to make. We liked this soup, though I prefer potato soup that is a bit thicker and that has chunks of potato. I did like the tang this soup had from the vinegar, buttermilk, and sour cream, and leeks always pair well with potatoes. Overall, I’d say this was good but not spectacular. I give it an ‘A’ for flavor, but only a ‘C’ for texture/consistency.

Cold-Fashioned Potato Salad

Just as with potato soup, you couldn’t very well have a potato episode without including a recipe for potato salad. This was one of those recipes where I got hungry watching Alton make it. Begin by placing 2 1/2 lb small red potatoes in a pot, covering them with cold water.

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2 1/2 lb red potatoes covered with cold water.

Bring the water to a boil, and then drop the heat to a simmer. Check the potatoes after 5 minutes, and every 3 minutes thereafter for doneness; you should be able to stick a skewer through a potato with no resistance. If you cook your potatoes too quickly or for too long, their skin will crack. I thought my potatoes were done after about 20 minutes of cooking. Drain the water from your potatoes and immediately place them in ice water for 2-3 minutes to halt their cooking.

Again, drain the potatoes. According to Alton, you should be able to easily remove the skins of your potatoes by simply rubbing them in a tea towel, but this was not the case for me, and I ended up using a peeler. Either way, once your potatoes are peeled, thinly slice them; if you have an egg slicer, that will work well for this. Place your still-warm potato slices in a large Ziploc bag, add 3 T cider vinegar, seal the bag tightly and place it in your refrigerator overnight.

The following day, combine in a bowl:  3/4 C mayonnaise, 1/2 t dry mustard, 2 t minced garlic, 1 T minced tarragon, and 1/4 C chopped parsley.

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Mayonnaise, dry mustard, garlic, tarragon, and parsley.

Once combined, add 1/4 C chopped cornichons, 1/2 C minced red onion, and 1/2 C thinly sliced celery.

Give everything a good stir and fold in the potato slices, along with their vinegar. Season to taste with Kosher salt and pepper.

Remember how my potato skins did not come off very easily? Yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s because I didn’t cook them quite long enough. I loved the combination of flavors in this potato salad, but my potatoes were a little too toothsome. It seems to me that most people generally prefer either creamy potato salads or German-style potato salad. I felt that this recipe would really please both camps, as it is both creamy and acidic. The dry mustard and red onion give the salad a nice bite, while the celery and cornichons lend a good crunch. I also really liked the anise-like flavor from the tarragon. This is a winning potato salad – just be sure to cook your potatoes long enough. Doh!

Potato Roesti

I really did not know what a roesti (“roshe-ti”) was until I watched this episode. Basically, it is like a hashbrown that contains onions and is tender on the inside. I made this for breakfast for us last weekend, as it seemed like a perfect breakfast before a 14-mile run. You will start by grating 3 Yukon Gold potatoes and 1 onion. Spin the potatoes and onion in a salad spinner, getting rid of as much moisture as possible.

This recipe makes four servings, and Alton recommended seasoning/cooking each serving separately, as the salt will pull moisture out of the potatoes. Since I knew we had a long run ahead of us, I divided the mixture into only two portions. While you melt 1/2 T butter in a nonstick skillet, season 1/4 of the potato mixture with Kosher salt and pepper. Add the seasoned potato mix to the melted butter, using a spatula to form a thin, round cake. You should hear a light sizzle when you press the cake with a spatula.

Cook the roesti for 7 minutes or until golden; now it is time to flip. Cut 1/2 T butter into chunks and disperse it on top of the roesti. Slide the cake onto a pan lid, using the lid to flip the cake back into the pan, butter down.

Cook the roesti for ~5 more minutes, or until golden brown. If you want to serve your cakes all at once, you can keep them warm in a low oven for ~20 minutes while you cook the other cakes. Serve the roesti with sour cream.

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Roesti with sour cream.

We thought this was tasty. At first, we thought it was possibly undercooked inside, but then I read that a roesti is supposed to be tender inside. I liked the additional flavor the onion added to potatoes, and the crispy exterior. I like sour cream, but wasn’t sure how I would like this combo; it turns out that sour cream really did pair nicely with this. The one thing I will say is that we had some GI issues as the day progressed, and I have to wonder if they could have been from the roesti. This did make for a tasty breakfast, so I think I will have to give it another go and hope for the best. With that… onto the 6th season!

It’s a Wonderful Waldorf

I live in Washington state. It is Fall. Could the timing be any better for me to happen upon the “Apple Family Values” episode of Good Eats? I love apples, but I sort of refuse to eat them in the summer. In fact, I see the commencing of apple eating as my concession that the fall season is indeed upon us. As a Washington apple eater, my new personal favorite apple is the SweeTango, though a good Honeycrisp is hard to beat. They are expensive, but so worth it.

I will admit that I was not overly enthused to make Alton’s Waldorf salad. My impression of Waldorf salad has always been that it is a dated, over-mayonnais-ed salad from a famous hotel. Boy was I wrong about this one, as Alton’s take is well worth making.

For Alton’s Waldorf salad, he recommends that you use three apples:  two Ginger Golds or Fujis and one Red Delicious. Ginger Gold apples are not readily available in our area, so I used Fuji apples in their place.

Two Fuji apples and one Red Delicious apple.

Two Fuji apples and one Red Delicious apple.

Ingredients for Waldorf salad (minus apples, toasted walnuts, and salt).

Ingredients for Waldorf salad (minus apples, toasted walnuts, and salt).

Alton suggests that you cut the apples in half, and use a melon baller to scoop out the core. This works like a charm, and I will be using this trick in the future.

Apple, cored with a melon baller.

Apple, cored with a melon baller.

After coring and chopping the apples, you toss them with some cider vinegar.

Chopped apples, tossed with cider vinegar.

Chopped apples, tossed with cider vinegar.

Following the vinegar, you add some mayonnaise to your apple mixture, tossing to make sure the apples are thoroughly covered.

Vinegar-coated apples with mayonnaise.

Vinegar-coated apples with mayonnaise.

Apples coated with mayo.

Apples coated with mayo.

You add some Kosher salt and pepper for seasoning.

Apples with vinegar, mayonnaise, salt, and pepper.

Apples with vinegar, mayonnaise, salt, and pepper.

Meanwhile, you toast some walnuts on the stove, and throw them into the mix.

Toasting walnuts.

Toasting walnuts.

Next, you throw in some golden raisins, curry powder (I used hot curry powder for some extra kick, though maharajah curry would also be excellent), some celery, fresh mint, and red onion.

Apple mixture with toasted walnuts.

Apple mixture with toasted walnuts.

Apple mixture with walnuts and golden raisins.

Apple mixture with walnuts and golden raisins.

And some hot curry powder.

And some hot curry powder.

Plus some celery.

Plus some celery.

And some mint chiffonade.

And some mint chiffonade.

Some red onion tossed in.

Some red onion tossed in.

In the episode, Alton tells you to shred the red onion, while the online recipe calls for julienned red onion. I just sort of chopped my onions into thin strips. Also, the online recipe tells you to chill the salad for at least an hour prior to serving, but Alton does not mention this in the episode. I chilled my salad for 30 minutes, at the most.

The final mixture.

The final mixture.

To serve the salad, you spoon it onto Romaine lettuce leaves.

Wonderful Waldorf.

Wonderful Waldorf.

We had this salad with a potato soup, but it could easily serve as an entree itself. I really loved this salad and will be making it again. It has so many wonderfully contrasting flavors and textures. The sweetness of the apple paired with the crunchy walnuts and celery, fresh mint, astringent red onion, and sweet-hot curry powder was delicious. My only complaint with this salad was that my red onion was quite strong, and almost overpowered some of the other flavors in the salad, but red onions tend to greatly vary in their potency. I also opted to use hot curry powder, as we tend to like a little spice in our food. I may have to try the Maharajah curry powder next time, as its sweeter flavor would probably pair nicely with the apples. Since we had the Waldorf salad as a side to our soup, we had leftovers. I anticipated that the texture of the salad would become one-note overnight, but the salad was just as good the following day, so do not be wary of having leftovers with this one.

10 Minute Apple Sauce

My mom used to make apple sauce in the fall. I remember her standing over the sink, her right arm spinning in circles as she turned the arm of her tattered food mill. Often, Mom would serve homemade (and sometimes store-bought) applesauce to my brother and me for breakfast. It was usually served in a bowl, and with a drizzle of heavy cream on top. I preferred my applesauce warm, and discovered that I liked it with a sprinkle of extra brown sugar. My mom could always make store-bought applesauce taste almost like homemade, with the additions of cinnamon, vanilla, and sugar.

When I watched Alton prepare his 10 Minute Apple Sauce, I was skeptical that it could taste anything like my mom’s homemade applesauce. To begin, you combine unfiltered apple juice, cognac or brandy (I used brandy), butter, honey, and cinnamon in a microwave-save container that has a lid. To this liquid mixture you add six peeled, cored, and quartered apples (three Golden Delicious apples and three Fuji apples).

Golden Delicious apples, Fuji apples, unfiltered apple juice, honey, brandy, cinnamon, and butter.

Golden Delicious apples, Fuji apples, unfiltered apple juice, honey, brandy, cinnamon, and butter.

You put the lid on your container and give the entire mixture a good shake. Once everything is good and mixed, you open one corner of your lid and microwave the applesauce on high power for 10 minutes.

Apple mixture, prior to cooking.

Apple mixture, prior to cooking.

After cooking, you blend the mixture until it is “almost smooth.”

Apple mixture, after baking.

Apple mixture, after baking.

My immersion blender is one of my very favorite kitchen gadgets, but it happens to be quite unhappy at the moment. Our Coonhounds also happen to love the immersion blender (they come running), as they recognize that the sound of the whisk attachment often means whipped cream for them. Since the immersion blender is currently out of commission, I threw the entire apple mixture into the blender and blended it until it was nearly smooth.

Final applesauce.

Final applesauce.

Alton says that this applesauce will keep well in the refrigerator for two to three weeks. I guess that isn’t an issue when your applesauce is gone in two days. This is definitely the fastest and easiest applesauce I have ever made. Was it as good as Mom’s? Tough to say, but it was pretty darn good.

Baker, Baker

The final recipe in this episode is for baked apples. Yet again, I think of my mom when I think of baked apples. She would make baked apples for us for breakfast or dessert. Sometimes the apples were sliced prior to baking, while other times they were whole, as in Alton’s recipe in this episode.

For these baked apples, you first combine your topping ingredients. In a bowl you combine oats, flour, light brown sugar, cinnamon, ground ginger, and Kosher salt.

All of the ingredients for baked apples.

All of the ingredients for baked apples.

Oats, flour, light brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and salt.

Oats, flour, light brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and salt.

Into this mixture you add some butter with your hands, working until the mixture is crumbly.

And some butter.

And some butter.

Completed streusel topping.

Completed streusel topping.

The topping mixture goes into the refrigerator while you prep your apples. For this recipe you want to use Braeburn or Fuji apples. I used Braeburns for this recipe. You first want to cut the bottoms off of your apples; this will give your apples a level, stable base while you work on them.

Leveling the apples.

Leveling the apples.

Once the apples are level, you carve off the tops of the apples, using a paring knife. A melon baller is then used to scoop out the seeds and core of the apples. Once cored, you fill the apple reservoirs with honey and sprinkle the tops with the topping mixture. You pack down the topping, and then sprinkle on additional streusel, taking care not to pack the second layer of topping.

Cored and ready to go.

Cored and ready to go.

Reservoirs filled with honey.

Reservoirs filled with honey.

Apples topped with two layers of streusel.

Apples topped with two layers of streusel.

The apples are placed in a baking dish and go into a 350 degree oven for 40 minutes, or until they are tender when squeezed with tongs. The apples need to cool for about 10 minutes prior to eating. We ate ours with ice cream on the side.

Baked apples, served with ice cream.

Baked apples, served with ice cream.

This recipe does make additional streusel topping, so I made baked pears the following evening.

The streusel topping can also be used for pears.

The streusel topping can also be used for pears.

These baked apples have all of the flavor of homemade apple pie, yet they are so much easier to make. When served with ice cream, they are truly a treat. The apples are tender to the bite and filled with a glorious almost-caramelized filling. For an easy, yet indulgent, treat, these are a great way to go. I can say that I would gladly make any of these recipes again.

 

 

Hail Caesar Salad

I am a salad person, and I love a good Caesar salad. My mom makes a fantastic Caesar salad, and I knew Alton’s recipe from Good Eats was going to have its work cut out for it to rival Mom’s recipe. In both watching the episodes and reading the online recipes from the show, I have learned that subtle differences often exist between how Alton prepares the dishes on the show and the recipes posted online. I choose to follow what Alton does on the show when there are any differences.

My mom often made homemade croutons when we were growing up, so I am slightly biased when it comes to store-bought versus homemade croutons. Really, there is no comparison. For my croutons in the Caesar, I used a store-bought loaf of Pugliese bread.

Pugliese bread cubes.

Pugliese bread cubes.

It was not day-old bread, but the croutons still managed to dry sufficiently in the oven. Alton was right… tossing the crispy bread cubes with the hot garlic-flavored olive oil definitely made my mouth water!

Garlic, olive oil, and salt.

Garlic, olive oil, and salt.

Hot garlic oil.

Hot garlic oil.

Croutons tossed in garlic oil.

Croutons tossed in garlic oil.

I used two hearts of Romaine that were pre-washed and bagged, as our salad spinner (the same one Alton recommends on Good Eats) died in a tragic accident on a hot stove years ago. Note:  Do not place your clean plastic salad spinner on the stove to air dry without checking the burners first.

Hearts of Romaine.

Hearts of Romaine.

Following Alton’s recipe, I cooked my eggs for one minute, and gradually added the dressing ingredients to my lettuce, tossing after each addition. I did like the flavor of the Worcestershire sauce in the dressing, though I’ll admit I have also had Caesar salads with anchovies that I have enjoyed. Adding the barely cooked eggs to the dressing made a creamy dressing that thoroughly coated the greens and paired nicely with the crunchy garlic croutons.

Gradually adding dressing ingredients.

Gradually adding dressing ingredients.

Worcestershire and lemon juice.

Worcestershire and lemon juice.

Adding the one-minute eggs.

Adding the one-minute eggs.

The final Caesar.

The final Caesar.

All in all, I thought this was a very good Caesar salad. Was it as good as Mom’s? Sorry Alton, but I think hers still wins.

Veni Vedi Vinaigrette

I tend to like my salad dressings on the savory, tangy, acidic side. Fruity, sweet salad dressings just usually are not my favorites. Often, I just drizzle olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper straight onto my greens. Alton’s vinaigrette recipe reminds me somewhat of my grandmother’s spinach salad dressing, so I knew I would like this salad dressing before I even tried it. Per Alton’s instructions, I first combined my vinegar, mustard, garlic, salt, and pepper.

Gathering vinaigrette ingredients.

Gathering vinaigrette ingredients.

Combination of vinegar, mustard, garlic, salt, and pepper.

Combination of vinegar, mustard, garlic, salt, and pepper.

I then added my olive oil and shook the dressing until it was well emulsified. I left mine at room temperature for a few hours before having it on a lunch salad I made with tomato, marinated artichoke hearts, cucumber, kalamata olives, walnuts, avocado, and fresh parmesan.

Olive oil added to other ingredients.

Olive oil added to other ingredients.

Final emulsified vinaigrette.

Final emulsified vinaigrette.

The result was a bright, acidic, tangy dressing that would brighten up any plate of greens, and you can throw it together in a matter of minutes. Why buy salad dressing when you can make something so much better at home?