Category: Walnuts

Pear and Blue Cheese Salad: 1977 v 2015

Last time we spoke I was making a mad mix of ginger beer pickled pears for my Christmas Day Pear and Blue Cheese Salad.  If you follow my Instagram, you would already know how this turned out.  If not, take a look!

Pickled Pear & Blue Cheese SaladI am amazingly proud of this.  It looks so pretty and festive and it tasted just as good as it looks! 

The ginger beer pickled pears were great. They were so tasteless raw, it was like chewing cardboard.  The ginger beer pickle not only  added some flavour but also made them taste more pear-y.

 Pear & Blue Cheese Salad2

For the salad, I used a supermarket bought mixed leaves, toasted walnuts, some crumbled blue cheese and some red currants to add some festivity!

I kept the skin on the pear during the pickling but took it off for serving. 

For the dressing I mixed some of the pickling liquid with some olive oil.  And then promptly forgot to take it to mum’s.   She had some bought dressing which we used on the day but I actually think the one I made was better.

Pickled Pear & Blue Cheese Salad3My Pickled Pear and Blue Cheese Salad was inspired by a recipe in the A-Z of Cooking for a Pear and Blue Cheese Salad.  I didn’t copy it totally first because of the issue with the pear.  But also I felt that the combination of blue cheese and mayo would make my salad too heavy.  We have been in a heat wave and so for me the lighter dressing kept the salad more lean and the increased acidity worked well in the heat. 

Here is that recipe, you’ll find my recipe for the Pickled Pear and Blue Cheese Salad at the bottom of the page.

Pear and Blue Cheese Salad collageI may be am totally biased but I’m calling my 2015 version of a Pear and Blue Cheese Salad the winner in this bout of retro v modern.  I absolutely loved it.  But you know what?  Try them both and let me know what you think!

Meantime, I have half a jar of saffrony-gingery-chilli-ish pickling liquid left over.  Fruit and sugar and vinegar  =  a shrub does it not?  I’m researching as we speak.  This could be the gift that keeps on giving.  It’s a dirty job but someone is going to have to taste test cocktails made with the pear and ginger shrub to find out which booze it goes best with.  I think it can go three ways – keep it lean with some vodka, make it sparkle with some prosecco or play to the spicy notes with some spiced rum.That’s where I’m heading anyway. 

Pickled Pear Juice and Dressing.Any thoughts, ideas, suggestions will be gratefully received. 

I’ll try to get it right before NYE.  Speaking of which, what are your plans? The fussiest eater in the world is working so it’s me on my lonesome.  Which is perfectly fine by me.  I am working during the day so will use the evening to prepare a Bridget Jones curry buffet for the following day when my friend Ali is coming over for what has become a New Year’s Day tradition. 

Hopefully,the ratio of cooking vs shrub testing stays on the right side and I don’t end up  doing the full Bridget Jones couch routine!

Have a fabulous week! 

Signature 1 Vintage Valentine Quick as Wink2

Here is my recipe:

Pickled Pear and Blue Cheese Salad

Pickled Pear and Blue Cheese Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 pear, cored and thinly sliced, peel on
  • 1 birdseye chilli
  • 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup ginger beer
  • a pinch of saffron threads
  • 2 cups mixed leaves
  • 50g blue cheese crumbled
  • 50g walnuts, chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil for salad dressing
  • red currants to garnish (optional)

Instructions

  • Toast the walnuts until golden. Set aside.
  • Combine the gingerbeer and the vinegar in the a small saucepan.
  • Add the chilli and bring to the boil.
  • Add the pears and the saffron.
  • Lower the heat and poach the pears in the liquid for around 5 minutes. The pears need to be cooked through but not at all mushy. If they are not cooked in the 5 minutes, turn the heat off but keep the pears in the hot cooking liquid until they achieve the right level of doneness.
  • Once done, drain the pears but keep the ginger-vinegar liquid. Place the pears in the fridge to cool down while you make the rest of the salad.
  • Spread the mixed salad greens over a plate.
  • Sprinkle over the walnuts and the crumbled blue cheese.
  • Remove the peel from the pears and spread the slices over the greens.
  • Top with the red currants, if using.
  • Make a dressing by mixing 1/2 tbsp of the ginger-vinegar liquid with 1 tbsp of olive oil. Season to taste and pour over the salad.
  • Enjoy!
http://www.retrofoodformoderntimes.com/2015/12/29/pear-and-blue-che/

 

Jane Grigson’s Watercress and Orange Salad

Little darling, it’s been a long cold lonely winter,
Little darling, it feels like years since it’s been here

Ok, so not exactly true for Melbourne, although it has been a fairly shitty summer.  But certainly for my friends in the States, it must feel like that.  But hopefully, this Watercress and Orange Salad will bring you some virtual sunshine.

Watercress and Orange Salad 5
Watercress and Orange Salad 5

Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
And I say it’s all right

 This is a very cool salad from Jane Grigson’s Vegetable Book.. I think it looks like a big, beautiful sunflower. And not only is it pretty; it is super tasty too.  How could it not be – peppery watercress, tangy sweet orange, earthy toasted walnuts and salty olives. And it looks so 70’s.  I think it’s the combination of green and orange….

Here is the original recipe from Jane Grigson:

Orange and Watercress SaladAnd here is the original version:

Jane Grigson's Watercress Salad
Jane Grigson’s Watercress Salad

This is very simple to put together.  Line your plate with watercress and start piling in your ingredients.  The worst bit if you do it in the circle is stripping all those watercress leaves.

Watercress Salad LeavesLike a circle in a spiral, like a wheel within a wheel…

 Watercress Salad Leaves2Never ending or begining on an ever spinning wheel….

Watercress Salad Leaves3I found the best way to get the orange slices as thin as possible was to cut them with the skin still on, then cut the peel and pith away with a pair of kitchen scissors.

 Oranges for the watercress saladThen just add your walnuts and / or olives. 

Before serving, a grind of pepper and a splash of vinaigrette made with some sherry vinegar and voila!!!  Or should I say “Velado!” because this really has a Spanish feel to it.   

I had this with some grilled salmon the first time I made it and it was delicious!!! The second time I had it with some prawns and it was, again super.  I would love to try it with duck as per Jane’s suggestion. 

And I made it a third time but this time tweaked the recipe a bit – I added some feta cheese and a teeny bit of red onion.  This time, I had it with a lovely sourdough baguette for a light lunch and it was perfection!!!  And yes, I made this three times in about ten days.  It’s that good.

Watercress and Orange Salad 6
Watercress and Orange Salad 6

 So far, Jane Grigson’s recipes are turning out to be amazing.  I am a little disappointed that it is now March and we have another book to focus on at The Cookbook Guru.  But wow!!!  What a book!!!  I am super excited about stepping across the Strait of Gibraltar to Morocco for my next venture with The Cookbook Guru!!!

 And, if you are struggling through a long cold and lonely winter either physically or mentally, here is a little anecdote that may help.

Back in 1969, there was not much joy camp Beatle – there were personality clashes, legal battles, business disputes….things were going to hell in a handbasket.  But in the midst of all the problems, all the trouble and strife, George Harrison (by far my favourite Beatle) walked into Eric Clapton’s garden with an acoustic guitar and wrote, to my mind anyway, one of the most beautiful, hopeful songs ever written.  In the midst of adversity and all that…

And just to tie it all in together, here is George singing  that song with some Spanish subtitles.

All together now

Sol, sol, sol
Ahí viene

Have a great week.  I hope all your clouds have silver linings.

Signature 1 Vintage Valentine Quick as Wink2  

 

Artichokes – Delicious Vegetable or WMD?

Artichokes didn’t feature on the menu when I was growing up.  I’m also not overly fond of the ones you get in the deli which taste more of the vinegar they come in that anything else.  So, I had actually never eaten a fresh artichoke until last year…I‘m not sure what prompted me to buy some because let’s face it, they’re not an attractive proposition.

Water Lily Lamb Salad
Water Lily Lamb Salad

I don’t mean the way they look, that’s awesome  – the amazing colours, the gorgeous mix of purple and green and their sculptural shape…

Artichokes

They are almost like something that should be in should be in a bouquet rather than on your plate and, just to prove that point, here’s one I prepared earlier….

Artichoke-Kale-bouquet
Artichoke-Kale-bouquet

 

Gorgeous.  And functional.  If you get a little peckish…pull off a leaf and have a nibble.  Win. Win.

So, when I say they are unattractive, what I really mean is that they are hard work.

Imagine trying to explain the artichoke to someone from another planet…

“Well you’ve got to trim off the leaf tops with scissors, then brush them with lemon so they don’t go brown”

Yeah but if you didn’t cut them, you wouldn’t have to…

“Never mind about that.  Then you have to scrape out the choke…

Scrape out the what?

“The choke…it’s kind of a hairy bit at the bottom…”

It has a hairy bottom? And you EAT this?

Uh Huh.

Removing the Choke
Removing the choke

Why’s it called a choke?

Not sure but if you don’t remove it all sometimes the fuzz can get caught in your throat and apparently it can be very painful.

Oh my God.  This hairy bottom vegetable wants to kill you. You humans are bonkers.  Anyone else would run a mile from this thing…There’s no way I”m eating that.  Might come in handy as a weapon though…

Ok, so I”ll just dip these deliciious leaves in melted butter and eat them myself shall I?

What?

That’s a traditional way of eating them.  You dip them in melted butter and then you drag ’em through your teeth…

Melted butter you say? Ok, I’m in.

Artichokes with Parmesan Butter Sauce

Why aren’t more foods dipped in melted butter?   As far as I can ascertain the only things that are regularly dipped in butter are artichokes and lobsters both which are pretty good anyway. Why aren’t we doing this with some of the revolting  stuff (beetroot springs to mind) to make it taste better?  I guarantee more people would like Brussels Sprouts if they came liberally doused in melted butter.  Just saying.

Anyway I digress.  You know what is also good?  Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens…but a few more of my favourite things are mayonnaise, lamb and capers.

And all of these delicious things can be found in the Nancy Spain recipe for Water Lily Lamb Salad.  And this time, I really did prepare one earlier….

 

Water Lily Lamb Salad 2
Water Lily Lamb Salad 2

Apart from the cutest name ever, the Water Lily Lamb Salads are pretty damn good and would make a great starter for a springtime lunch.  It’s such a lovely way to present the meal as well…albeit, I cooked my artichokes for the full 25 minutes as recommended by Nancy and they kind of fell apart, hence my slightly awry water lillies in the photos!  Tasted great though.   Still, I’ll cook them a lot less next time.  You could sub in chicken for the lamb as an equally deliciious variant.  Or an egg salad would be incredible…

And, if you needed any further incentive to eat artichokes, Marilyn Monroe was crowned the Artichoke Queen Of California in 1947.  And look where it got her…

No, not dead of a barbiturate overdose  at the tender age of 36…wow, you people are cynical…

Marilyn Monroe - Artichoke Queen
Marilyn Monroe – Artichoke Queen

I”m going to be spending my week hanging around greengrocers, waiting to be crowned queen of something.

Then again…why limit myself to produce when I can crown myself

qofe

It’s your week, may as well make it awesome.

Signature 1 Vintage Valentine Quick as Wink2

 

The Australian Vegetable Cookbook (1972) – The Redemption

After harping on about the awful recipes contained in this book last time, it was only fair to showcase some of the better recipes.  Three of them will be included here (I actually made 4 however this week is all about being positive so we won’t mention the Asparagus Italienne.  Ever.)

I chose the Stuffed Celery Curls as my first course.  This was jam-packed with flavours I love – celery, walnuts, chives, cream cheese and Tabasco so there was everything to like.  I chose not to add the red food colouring.  I’m hyperactive enough without it and I could see no earthly reason why it should be there.  I think the “au naturel” version looks much prettier anyway!

Ingredients

Sadly, my celery did not curl as per the picture in the book.   I read the recipe as saying you needed 15 pieces of celery 5 cm long.  Which is what I did.  In retrospect, I think it may mean an unnamed number of pieces of celery 15 cm long by 5 cm wide.  Although that doesn’t seem quite right either – 5cm seems too wide.  If you really want your celery to curl, here is a link:

http://www.managemylife.com/mmh/articles/authored/how-to-make-fun-garnishes-from-vegetables

It didn’t really matter though because whilst mine did not look as fun, they tasted amazing!  We had these as our starter however they could just as easily be a lunch box snack or as finger food.  Blue cheese would be an amazing variation.

Original

Mine – with obligatory knife but no curls 

Next up, for our main dish I made a Farmhouse Potato Bake.  This dish contains potatoes, Hungarian sausage (I used salami), sour cream and paprika so I guess is Eastern European in tone.  It was damn good wherever it came from.  If you weren’t fond of salami you could make this with ham, bacon, or left over roast beef or chicken or for a spot of luxury some smoked salmon.  As you will see from the picture, I subbed in basil for the oregano.  I think it is one of those recipes that you could pretty much use whatever proteins and herbs as you wanted. You could layer in other vegetables as well.  Asparagus, green beans, spinach would all be great!

Ingredients

Salami and Onion Sauteing, Potatoes Par-Boiling in the background

Layering

Crumb Mixture

I made a Panama Radish Salad from the book to go with this.  Well, I sort of did.  There is no intended slur to the recipe for my changes,  I think you could follow it absolutely and the result would be delicious.  I just happened to have no red onions and a bucketload of chives and rocket that I needed to use.  So I swapped these in.  I also used my favourite Black Russian tomatoes so my salad is probably “greener” than it should be….it still looks pretty good though.

Ingredients

Panama Radish Salad

These worked really well together, the pepperiness of the rocket and the radish in the salad, the freshness of the mint and the lemon in the dressing cut through some of the creamy, potato, salami induced richness of the Farmhouse bake.  Two big ticks here, will definitely be making both of these again.

The Meal – Delicious!

Bon Appétit.

Food For Lovers – The Three Course Love Feast

As a concept, Kelly Brodsky’s Food For Lovers falls on the kooky side of the spectrum.  Is this echoed in the food?

Well, sort of…

There are a number of odd recipes.  Many of which rely on inappropriate uses of pineapple:

  • Pineapple isn’t automatically an ingredient I would expect to see in a recipe entitled Braised Wine Steeped Beef. And yet, Kelly Brodsky takes it there.
  • The stuffing mix for the Veal with Cashew Nut Stuffing recipe on p65, contains bacon, cashew nuts, calves liver and pineapple.  If mixing offal and pineapple was a good idea, surely it would be pizza by now.

And if that wasn’t enough, there’s the veal scallopine sandwich:

Ok. Pineapple is the least of  the problems in that recipe which actually sounds frighteningly modern.    I”m sure something similar is being served in a fast food restaurant somewhere even as I write this.

Monosodium glutamate also features prominently in the recipe ingredients.  As does canned asparagus.

However,  Food For Lovers also contains a lot of good as well.   I  marked up over 30 that I would be prepared to make and I have made four, all of which were delicious!

So now, here is my Food For Lovers Three Course Love Feast.

Cucumber Stuffed With Cream Cheese

These were great!

2 large cucumbers, leave the skin on1 cup cream cheese
1 tbsp lemon juice
10 chopped anchovies
1 tbsp chopped chives
Ground black pepper

Scoop out the centres of the cucumbers.

Combine the cream cheese, lemon juice and anchovies and stuff this mixture into the cucumbers.

Place in the fridge for a couple of hours.

Serve sliced very thin sprinkled with the chives and black pepper on crackers or buttered crusty bread.

(Brodsky suggests serving with a dab of mayonnaise, I tried both with and without mayo and preferred it without)

 Sautéed Cabbage and Bacon

          1/2 head of cabbage
          3 bacon rashers, chopped
          1 clove or garlic chopped
          Dash of lemon juice

Finely shred the cabbage and steep it for 5 minutes in boiling salted water.  Whislt this is steeping, sauté the bacon.  Add the cabbage and garlic.  Sauté Lightly.  Sprinkle with a dash of lemon juice and serve.

(Broiled) Chicken With Corn Stuffing

I always thought that broiling was what Americans call grilling.  The original recipe for this cooks it in water.  Maybe she meant boiled?  Either way, I roasted my chicken and it was super!

4 lb chicken
1 1/2 cups dry whole wheat breacrumbs
1 cup whole corn kernels
2 tbsp  butter
1 cup chopped celery
1 finely chopped green pepper (I”m not a fan of this, I used a red onion in mine)
1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
Chicken Stock
I also added a clove of garlic, crushed, 1/2  a chilli and some thmye and sage leaves)

In a large pan, heat the butter and saute the celery, pepper (onion), corn, mushrooms and garlic.

Take off the heat, add the herbs and breadcrumbs, salt and pepper. Moisten with chicken stock.  Cool. Then spoon into the chicken.

(I actually prefer to cook my stuffing in a separate dish).

Roast as per your preferred method.  If unsure, Jamie Oliver has a solid method.

Gingered Dutch Apple Cake

This was very yummy!

3 tbsp butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup sifted self raising flour
1/2 cup milk
1 cup stewed apples
1 tsp cinnamon
dash of lemon juice
2 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup sultanas
1 tbsp chopped preserved ginger

Cream butter and sugar.  Add the egg and beat well.  Then stir in the flour a few spoonfuls at a time, alternating with the milk. Pour into an 8 inch tin.

Combine the apples, cinnamon, lemon juice, brown sugar, walnuts, sultanas and ginger.  Spoon on top of the cake mixture.  Bake in a 190°C oven for around 45 minutes.

Slice and serve still warm with cream.

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