Tag Archives: goat cheese

Boston Butter Lettuce Salad with Avocado, Corn, & Tomatoes

One of the things my husband will tell you I ask him is whether he’s had anything green during the day.  He’s fairly patient with this interrogation because he’s intelligent and knows that ultimately, regardless of what he eats, there have to be vegetables in his diet– especially brightly colored vegetables.  But sometimes, green is enough, and often easier because all it takes to incorporate it into a day’s worth of meals is to have a salad.  A big salad.

I know many think salad is a warm weather dish, but to me, it’s one of the easiest ways to make sure vegetables are on the plate.  Fresh vegetables.  Nothing fancy — just a mix of what sounds good, what’s in the fridge, or what’s in season.  And?

The salad needs to take up half the plate.

I grew up eating salads made exclusively with iceberg lettuce.  I’m sure many of us did, and from what we now know, it’s because that’s what was in the market.  Zero choice.  But one of the first types of lettuce I discovered when I was freshly moved out of my mother’s house was Boston Butter Lettuce.  It was beautiful, delicate, and something I’d never seen before.  Although I originally saw it in small heads placed in rows upside down in the produce rack, more and more, the heads I’ve become accustomed to seeing are larger.  Much larger, and sealed safely inside plastic containers to keep them from being bruised.  I felt decadent the first time I bought a head of butter lettuce,  enjoying the tender leaves with all kinds of tasty salad ingredients, and thinking that yes, it tasted a bit on the buttery side.

During our short trip to Laguna Beach this past summer, we had a late lunch on the balcony overlooking the beach at The Beach House.  Although we both agreed the food was wonderful, I especially enjoyed the completely green salad made of a whole head of butter lettuce and all other green ingredients tucked under the leaves. Avocado, green striped tomatoes, green onions — wonderful.

When I saw the “Boston Lettuce Salad with Herbs” in the September issue of Food & Wine, I decided to make a similar version of a delicious Boston Butter Lettuce Salad.

Perfect for dinner, a special occasion, or just lunch all by yourself.

Check off your greens for the day!

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Breakfast Salad with Poached Egg and Prosciutto


I’m at that place I’m so familiar with — the place where it seems as if I’m floating on a river lazily making its way to a point in the distance.  I could swim and get to wherever there is more quickly, or I can do what I’m doing —  floating.  Knowing time will pass and I’ll get there.

And then I snap out of it.  Like this morning.

Eight days before we leave for the UK.  Eight. After months and months of planning every single tiny detail, eight days will fly by and as much as I’ve questioned and searched and adjusted to make sure everything is perfect, I swear I’ve forgotten something.  My husband has indulged my sometimes nightly litany of hairsplitting with gentle logic and comments of support.

I’m sure everything will be fine, he tells me.  The other vacations you’ve planned have been great.

Yes, but…

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Tomato Herb Tarts

Tomato Herb Tart

About this time last year, I was editing the nearly 800 photographs I took while on vacation in Italy and as much as I can say that I enjoyed reviewing our trip in front of my Mac, one photo in particular stood out.  It was taken the first day we were in Rome from the kitchen window of the apartment we rented.  We’d visited the farmer’s market in the Campo di Fiori directly after arriving because I swore I was going to cook on vacation.  The market was near closing time so the vendors were busy packing up their product when we arrived rushing to gather the ingredients for our dinner. Of all the items still displayed, the tomatoes caught my eye.  Red, plump, shiny tomatoes.  I recognized their shape as something I’d only seen on the label of cans in select stores until that time.  More elongated than a Roma,  definitely thinner in the center, and a deep, deep red.  I knew they were San Marzanos, so of course I had to buy some for our pasta that evening.

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3-Onion Leek Tart

3-Onion and Leek Tart Time has just flown by lately and with it, my opportunities to not only write as much as I have, but cook the way I’ve always enjoyed cooking — experimenting with new recipes.  Since coming back from Mexico, I’ve been mulling over an opportunity that has taken on a life of its own and me with it.  For the next year or so, I’ll be out of the house again for most of the day so will have to learn to adjust to writing here in the time I have left.  I know there are many of you who do this successfully, so I’ll look to you for inspiration and perhaps a schedule!  By all means, share your secrets with me so I can find a good balance.

In the meantime, I wanted to share a tart I made recently inspired by yet another tart made with some lovely vegetables from Specialty Produce. Although the brief and somewhat elusive season for ramps is close to ending (April – May) , I was able to sample them for the first time.  Ramps are wild leeks harvested by foraging in wooded, mountainous areas, and from what I’m learning, quite the reason to celebrate since they’re a sign of spring.  Ramps are a member of the allium family, so I decided to sample them with green garlic and shallot shoots knowing that whatever I ended up making would be delicious.  Unfortunately, the first tart was prepared for a dinner party, and since I’m challenged to find a way to shoot great photos while entertaining, I decided to recreate the tart using a different collection of vegetables from the onion family.

Because I was home alone that evening, I was thrilled not to have to share this amazing tart with anyone.

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Taste & Create: Goat Cheese Ravioli with Roasted Peppers

What a completely exhausting weekend.  Fun, but butt whoopin’ exhausting.  It’s all my fault.  I should know by now when the alarms go off several days in a row (in my head) that I need to NOT do what I’ve planned to do.  Especially with Thanksgiving looming in the near distance.  Jeez.

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Friday, I was going to have a leisurely time in the kitchen preparing a dish as a part of Taste & Create, a blogging event hosted by Nicole at For the Love of Food.  But I got such a late start, I had to put that fun off until Sunday.  So much for dinner on Friday.  *sigh* I was able to prepare the layers of a cake I was going to take to a dinner party on Saturday.  Then Saturday, I would take care of the latest Daring Baker Challenge.  Finally, I’d frost the cake and be off to the dinner party.  At the crack o’ dawn on Sunday, I was going to get up and have some fun with cyber baking buddies on Yahoo Messenger while we cooked.  Uh…..Nope.  Software, Beta versions, PC’s vs. Macs…You name it and it all conspired to keep us apart.  So very sad since I was really looking forward to seeing just how gunked up my keyboard would get cooking and IMing.

But  few weeks ago, I discovered ustream.tv, so I figured at least I could broadcast myself while I was cooking and maybe a few buddies could text while they were laughing their butts off over my "show."  More on that some other time.  Suffice it to say it was a lot of fun, but totally the reason I’m tired.  I made some cinnamon rolls, and finally, the feature of this post: Goat Cheese Ravioli with Bell Peppers & Brown Butter, the dish I was supposed to have for dinner Friday.  I was so out of time considering I had to make it, eat it and post about it by the end of today!  Nothing like being seriously late.  It’s not the first time, however.

Katie of Other People’s Food was matched with me for the Taste & Create event I mentioned above.  If I remember correctly, Katie won the very first blogging event I entered: Hay, Hay, It’s Donna Day where we all had to make chocolate mousse.  That was back in April of this year.  Goodness, how time flies!

So for Taste & Create, Katie and I had to peruse each other’s archives, choose a dish, cook it, and create a post about it.  All in all, a pretty great idea.  I chose the Ravioli linked above from her archives because I love the combination of the flavors.  Katie’s homemade ravioli are so cute perched atop the colorful peppers with just the perfect sprinkle of fresh parmesan. Since I’d never made my own pasta, I thought, "Sure!"  Uh-huh.  Right.  A couple of funny things happened on the way to the completion…

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Outside of talking to those people who tuned into my ustream.tv broadcast, and dealing with cinnamon rolls, rolling pasta was, erm…challenging.  I don’t have an attachment…SANTA!!!!!!!! so couldn’t quite get it thin enough.  How did people do this without all the nifty gadgets that now exist?

Img_4813 I don’t want to hear anyone say anything about what this reminds them of.  Like my husbink just did.  This is a FOOD blog.

The consensus from my huzbink and middle son after tasting the completed dish was that the ravioli needed to be cooked longer. (Think chewy…) And last but not least, while I was yammering away on ustream.tv, I guess I picked up my salt container and confused it with the measured amount of salt I’d set aside for the pasta.  Thankfully, it wasn’t that much more, but it did cause my pasta to be more salty than we like. *cough — water!*

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Fortunately, I also made a few of the ravioli with won ton wrappers which is what the original recipe called for.  These turned out very nicely flavorwise. *whew*  And they were definitely easier to make since I lacked the pasta experience.

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The roasted pepper tomato sauce was excellent.  It would be fabulous on regular pasta.  The richness of the peppers combined with the cheese and fresh herbs (rosemary, chives, oregano, sage, thyme) in the ravioli is quite pleasant.  The bit of chopped nicoise olives and toasted pinones were a very nice touch as well.  (I will confess I added a roasted Green Chili to the pepper mixture.  I couldn’t resist, as I love the flavor and heat. And I had one sitting in my veggie bowl just waiting to be used…)  Here’s Katie’s recipe if you missed it above.

The moral to this story is, don’t bite off more than you can chew!  Not a new lesson, is it?  Still, I’m learning that with time and planning, there are excellent recipes to be tried from other’s blogs simply because they’ve tried it themselves and can share their learning.  Another no brainer, Kelly.  D.U.H. 

I think there’s a bathtub and some bubbles upstairs with my name on it.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to get out of bed tomorrow.  And then the Thanksgiving prep begins….Oh. My. Goodness.

Thanks, Katie, for the recipe!  I will be using the pepper & tomato combo as well as the cheese & herb mix for bruschetta in the near future.  It will be totally scrumptious, don’t you think?

And thanks, Nicole, for a fun event.  Expect to see me again!