I should call this the Monet salad. I’m teasing, of course, but whenever I see varying tones of green and purple with touches of blue, I think of French Impressionist Claude Monet’s most famous and recognizable series of paintings — Waterlilies.
Sometimes I’d love to skip dinner.
It’s beautiful in the evening just before the sun has set and I want to be on the patio enjoying the cool, dry air, watching the light against the the trees and houses change as the sun disappears into the Pacific. I don’t want to waste one second of daylight at this time of year when the days are longest and sometimes, the temperature barely fluctuates between day and night.
Like right now. It’s nearly seven and the sun isn’t quite ready to set. Dinner is ready to prepare and won’t take all that long, but I’d rather be sitting in one of the chairs outside doing not much of anything.
All I’d need to complete the picture is some soft cheese — like burrata, perhaps some proscuitto, a handful of the sweet little sungold tomatoes my plant loves to produce, a nice crisp white wine, and good crusty rolls with a bit of something else added — like spinach, and sun-dried tomatoes.
If you’ve tried any of the recipes in Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, then you know they’ll be good. But do you know the secret to make them even more crusty?
I do. And it works every single time.
I’d love to say it’s salad weather here, but if you are fortunate to be a resident of San Diego, then you know that not only have we been experiencing the typical overcast weather we lovingly refer to as May Grey, but are definitely headed into a serious June Gloom. Although I am one who doesn’t need the sun shining each day, the marine layer is extremely thick right now, and temperatures have been in the low 60s. It’s more like sweater weather and is quite gloomy. In fact today, it’s been drizzling all morning, and I can’t help but wonder about the outcome of outdoor plans made by those who expect our normally perfect weather, and are now disappointed.
We are salad lovers, and that means salad is a year round treat regardless of the weather. Recently, my husband said he needed to lose a few pounds, so that usually translates to salad for dinner with no carbs on the side. That doesn’t mean I make more salad than I normally would. Instead, it means I’m able to try new combinations of flavor, adding more ingredients, and warming it up a bit with something cooked.
I’ve heard others mention they don’t care for warm salads, and far be it from me to criticize someone’s taste for salad — with the exception of the “canned pea-Velveeta cubes- smothered in Miracle Whip” concoction which leaves me nearly speechless.
This shrimp and spinach salad has more than one kind of “heat.” If you’re not one for cooking your salad ingredients, then consider what chili heat can do for your taste buds. It’s satisfying and healthy.
I think it’s fair to say that I equally enjoy baking sweets as much as I enjoy cooking something savory. Regardless of what it is, I normally rise to a challenge and can’t think of a better way to spend a day in the kitchen because the end product can be so rewarding. Although most of the past Daring Bakers’ challenges have been of the sweet variety, this month, we had a rare opportunity to bake something somewhat unexpected: Lasagna.
I’m certainly not new to lasagna, and true to my passions as a cook, I’m not sure I’ve ever made lasagna the same way twice. No, really. It must be because there are too many wonderful recipes out there to try, and each one poses a sort of opportunity to find the perfect one. And guess what? I think we’ve decided that it’s been found. Who knew that it didn’t need to be packed with ricotta and mozzarella? Well, okay, I did, because I have made lasagna with mushrooms and a bechamel. But I’ve only made my own pasta once, and I’ve never made spinach pasta.
The March 2009 challenge is hosted by Mary of Beans and Caviar, Melinda of Melbourne Larder and Enza of Io Da Grande. They have chosen Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna from The Splendid Table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper as the challenge.
Many thanks to all the hosts, as I enjoyed this challenge quite a bit — both process and product!
There were several parts to this challenge, but in a nutshell they were to: 1) make a meat ragu sauce; 2) make the lasagna pasta by hand; 3) make a bechamel; and 4) make the lasagna, of course. The choice factor was to make a ragu different from the one provided, and that’s exactly what I did.
Suffice it to say that amidst my husband’s unwavering focus on the first big week of March Madness, I spent the day in my kitchen preparing this absolutely yummy dish. My Ragu alla Bolognese, inspired by a version presented in Saveur that in turn was inspired by British chef Heston Blumenthal, was completely delicious — and I didn’t have to go to the grocery store for one ingredient. Miraculous.
Does anyone remember eating warm spinach and bacon salad? I think the first time I tried it was at my aunt's house when I was in junior high. There was something fascinating about the sweet and tangy taste of it…and the bacon? Right.
I'd love to take credit for this recipe which is a lovely, more elegant version, but I can't. It's one of Susan Branch's recipes from her Christmas from the Heart of the Home book. If you aren't familiar with her, you're really missing something wonderful. I love browsing through her site and leafing through her books which are so much more than just cookbooks. They're like a trip to a special place where life is slow and pleasant, and creativity abounds. Such an amazing woman!
I like to make this salad at this time of year, because of the pomegranates, of course. And recently, I learned a new way to peel them, which makes me very happy considering I won't have to tolerate a red stain on my cutting board for a week or more.