Showing posts with label salad. Show all posts
Showing posts with label salad. Show all posts

Thursday, January 10, 2013


(for my Bella)
Day 14 of winter break and my husband is in Bella's room knee-deep in pressed board and IKEA instruction manuals and Dash is so mad that I won't let him eat the first batch of crispy bacon that he is hiding under my bed with the dog and it turns out that as of the first of the year eggs in any form make Bella want to barf so I find myself staring at this layered salad wondering why the fuck I even bother when Bella starts digging through the dressed romaine with her fingers and I sputter out Bella what huh what are you kidding me um are you an animal and my tone is so awful and she looks so sad that she ended up with me as her mother that we find ourselves in a hands-on-hips standoff until poof her face opens up into a big smile and before I can yank her in for a hug she grabs some bacon and run run run slides into my bedroom to lure Dash and the dog out from under the bed and then she's yelling out daddy do you want some of mommy's salad because it's really good and I'll bring you some and then miraculously we are all eating at the same time with Dash commando crawling toward the kitchen holding a fistful of bacon and my husband allen-wrenching and nibbling on my five-minute eggs and Bella hovering with me utensil-free over the salad bowl tearing dipping slurping and when Dash finally arrives at the table we start talking about the events of the day like the arrival of Dash's new big boy bed and Bella's genius addition of Best Foods Mayonnaise to the Caesar dressing and the 1,254-piece Lego Millennium Falcon we just finished assembling and then Dash clears his throat and splays his hands with just-so-you-know emphasis and comes out with really mama you're so good at building things and there's a great Lego college in Los Angeles and you should go there you really should and for the first time since my daughter was born 10 years ago I don't want my babies to grow up.
You can do the 5-minute eggs a few days ahead of time and store them in the fridge. Bacon can also be done way ahead of time because it should be room temperature for the salad. The dressing also keeps for a few days in the fridge.

6  5-minute eggs (see below for recipe), peeled and halved
10 slices bacon
6 cloves garlic, peeled and whole (to be cooked in oil)
1 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and grated (kept raw)
5 anchovy fillets, packed in oil
1/2 teaspoon Colman's mustard powder
splash Worcestershire sauce
4 tablespoons champagne vinegar (or sherry wine vinegar)
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1 tablespoon mayonnaise (Best Foods, Hellman's, or homemade)
a large head of romaine, cleaned (perhaps stripped of any wilted outer pieces)
crunchy salt
lots of chopped parsley for garnish

Cook bacon on stovetop or under broiler until nice and crisp. Place cooked slices on paper towel to drain off excess fat until you're ready to assemble the salad.

Place garlic and olive oil in a pot on the back burner. Bring to the boil and immediately turn down to a simmer. Cook until garlic is tender (check with a paring knife; it takes about 15 minutes). Remove from heat and cool for about 15 minutes.

Scoop garlic out of oil and place in a mortar (or a regular bowl). Reserve oil for the dressing. With a pestle (or with the back of a spoon), mash the cooked garlic, grated raw garlic, anchovies, and mustard powder into a paste. Whisk in worcestershire sauce, vinegar, heavy cream, and mayonnaise. Whisking the whole time, slowly drizzle in 4 tablespoons of reserved garlic oil (it's okay for it to still be a little warm). Taste. Adjust. You will probably need to add more oil. But if you like it super tangy you can add more vinegar or worcestershire sauce.

You can leave the romaine leaves whole. Or tear them up. Or cut them into bite-sized pieces. They look more awesome when they're whole but it's a pain in the ass to dress them and eat them (you might need your fingers). Most of the time I cut them up. 

Dress your greens with several spoonfuls of dressing. Add salt to taste. Toss with your hands. Taste. Add more dressing or salt if needed. Top with 5-minute eggs, bacon, and parsley. Sprinkle crunchy salt and a few drops of dressing on the yolks of the eggs. Eat right away. Serve with the remaining dressing in a pitcher.

6 eggs

Place eggs in a medium-sized pot that has a tight fitting lid. Cover eggs completely with cold water. Without the lid, bring water to the boil. Immediately turn off the heat. Cover with lid. Set timer right away for 5 minutes. Place a few handfuls of ice cubes in a bowl and cover with water. When timer goes off, carefully scoop out the eggs and place them into the ice bath. Leave them in the cold water for about 10 minutes. You can leave them out all day until ready to peel. Or store them in the fridge for a few days.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


"So the 7th and 8th graders have a separate talent show and they get to do inappropriate things like sing that song called I'm sexy and I know it."

"Bella, I don't know that song."

"Mama, come on. You don't know LMFAO?"

"Bella, anyone who is singing about being sexy is, um, kind of, um, a jerky jerk."

I want to say a cocky motherfucker but I'm trying so hard to be a well-behaved mama.

"Yes, mama. True. But it's a great song and you should just download it."

I count alligators in my head and wait for Dash to ask his question. I get to five before he delivers.

"Mama. What does sexy mean?"

"Well, it's a word used by grownups. And it means that you really really like how someone walks, talks, and moves through the world. Like someone really blows you away."

And I'm embarrassed to say that I keep going on and on with various definitions until Dash interrupts me.

"Okay. Okay. OKAY. I get it. Like a dog. Like look over there at that sexy dog."

"Well, that's the first time I've ever heard a dog described as sexy. It's more for people. Like if I'm lucky, on a good day, daddy might use the word sexy to describe me."


"Right. Might."

"I don't know why he'd call YOU sexy."

"Dash. Eat your watercress salad."
Salad of Watercress, Feta, Almonds, Green Onions, Crispy Green Garlic, and Creme Fraiche.

I'm a total whore for anchovy garlic salad dressing, but you don't need it for this salad because the watercress and the spring garlic bring so much flavor. A simple coating of olive oil and sherry wine vinegar is just right. This is a hardcore simple mashup but I swear it's super tasty. I'm not going to give amounts. You could even put out bowls of all the components on the table for people to make individual salads. 

Gather the following:
olive oil 
spring garlic
salt (kosher)
balsamic vinegar
olive oil (for dressing)
sherry wine vinegar
salt (something coarse and crunchy like Maldon or grey or fleur de del)
chopped green onions
sliced almonds
feta (I'm partial to French but any kind works), crumbled

Here's the only cooking you need to do for this salad: Remove the thin outer layer from two heads of spring garlic (if you don't have spring garlic, you can use shallots). Finely chop the stalks all the way down to the white bulbs. Set aside chopped stalks with the chopped green onions. Remove the bottom stems from the remaining young garlic heads. Slice thinly in either direction (the pieces will fall apart). Crank some heat under a pan. Add a few tablespoons olive oil. Once it's smoking, add sliced spring garlic. Add big pinch of salt. Cook until softened and starting to brown a bit. Turn heat down to low. Add a splash of balsamic vinegar. Cook for about twenty minutes until they're melt-in-your-mouth crispy. They should taste like garlic candy.

Assembly: Place watercress in a big bowl. Coat greens with a few splashes of olive oil and sherry wine vinegar (I usually add about two parts olive oil to one part vinegar). Add pinch of salt. Toss. Taste. Adjust. 

Add chopped green onions and green garlic stems, sliced almonds, crumbled feta, and crispy green garlic. Toss again. Taste. Adjust seasoning. Drip crème fraiche all over the top of the salad. Add any additional green onions or green garlic stems. Serve.

If any is left over, don't throw it out because it's tasty (though wilted!) the next day on grilled bread with extra feta, a splash of balsamic, and crème fraiche.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


I never thought I'd write the following words: It's so peaceful to go to the grocery store with Dash on Fridays. He gets in the cart, we talk about what we're going to cook, and then he gets right to his favorite October subject: Halloween. He is going to be Batman.
He even convinced my husband to buy me a Batmomma costume. I haven't worn a Halloween costume in 20 years but I'll do (almost) anything for my little Batman. Last week at the market Dash told me all about Batman's habits.

"Momma, do you know what Batman does after he saves the day?"
"No idea," I reply.
"He does yoga," he says with absolute certainty.
"That's so smart of him."
"And then he eats a bowl of chocolate soup. Okay, mama? Okay?"

I'm a Batmomma in training.

As I'm unloading our cart at the checkout,  I come up with the idea of Batman Salad.  I tell Dash we're making it for dinner because Batman loves green beans and burrata cheese. The checkout guy looks at me and rolls his eyes. He turns to Dash and says, "Your mom tells the truth MOST of the time." I roll my eyes back at the dude and he says, "What? I was giving you an out. I thought you'd be happy."

When we get home, I let Dash choose all the other ingredients for the Batman Salad. Thanks to Berkeley's October summer, our tiny porch is exploding with cherry tomatoes, basil, parsley, thyme, mint, and lemons. Dash picks, stems, snips, and then piles everything up on the counter.
He proudly carries the uncooked Batman beans over to the stove. We boil them in salty water and shock them in ice water.
Dash makes the salad dressing all by himself. First time ever. He loves bashing the anchovy and garlic with the mortar and pestle to make a paste. To the mortar, he adds four different vinegars, meyer lemon, and some minced shallots.

Stepping back and photographing my son while he uses a knife requires a fantastic amount of letting go on my part. But I think I do pretty well, and so does Dash. He hasn't mastered the curling in of the fingers but he'll get there.
Dash adds lots of Grey Poupon mustard and then he is ready to whisk in the olive oil. Lots and lots of olive oil. He moves through all the steps with such confidence. I realize he has seen me make salad dressing at least twice a week for his entire life. He has really picked up on all the techniques.
I place the burrata on a plate for Dash to examine. "Wow. This is beautiful. It's like a boobie. Can I touch it?" he asks. I change the subject and explain that in fact it's a pouch made from mozzarrella cheese. Burrata means "buttered" in Italian and when you cut through the tough exterior a buttery substance made from mozzarella and cream oozes out. It's crazy delectable. We carefully scoop out little chunks of it for the salad.
I hand over the knife once again so Dash can slice the cherry tomatoes in half. I swear I'm not drunk. He just seems so eager to cut things.
He proudly drizzles way too much dressing all over everything and then does an herb-sprinkling dance.
Dash and Bella snarf up the salad for dinner, lunch the next day, and then dinner again the next night. The beans don't stay vibrant and green but the flavor holds up.

In an ideal world I would have added grilled eggplant and caramelized onions. But this is Batman's salad, not Batmomma's salad.
We have some leftover burrata cheese so the next day I try to convince Dash that Batman LOVES pizza with figs, burrata, caramelized onions, and creme fraiche. He wags his finger at me and says, "Uh-uh. That pizza looks stinky. Batman loves cheese pizza."
Fine. More pizza for Batman's momma.(Batmomma photo styled and photographed by my 7-year old Bella.) 

printable recipe 
Use haricots verts, otherwise use any kind of green bean you can find. I've never made this salad dressing the same way twice since I always use a different combination of vinegar/lemons. Make sure to taste it as you go along.
Serves 4 as a side dish.

1.5 pounds green beans, washed and stemmed
2 teaspoons salt (for boiling water)
1 anchovy
1 clove of garlic
3 tablespoons vinegar (any combination of the following vinegars: red, white, champagne, sherry wine, or balsamic)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 shallots, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon creamy Dijon mustard (I always use Grey Poupon)
6-9 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup cherry tomatoes
mound of burrata cheese
salt (for salad)
1/3 cup chopped herbs (any combination of mint, basil, thyme, and/or parsley)

Boil a big pot of water. Add salt. Boil green beans for a minute or two. I like them still crunchy but cook them how you like them. While they're cooking, prepare an ice bath (water plus ice). Strain green beans and immediately shock them in the water bath. Leave in the cold water until cool. Strain in a colander and then place on a dishtowel to dry.

For the salad dressing. Make a paste with the anchovy and garlic with a mortar and pestle or on a cutting board with a chef knife. Combine paste with vinegars, lemon juice, and shallots. Let sit for a few minutes. Whisk in mustard. Slowly whisk in some of the olive oil. Pour the oil in slowly enough that it emulsifies. Taste. If necessary, slowly add more olive oil. Just keep tasting as you go along.

Place cooked green beans in a bowl. Halve the cherry tomatoes and add them to the beans. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add some salad dressing. Mix with your hands. Taste. Add more dressing if necessary. Place in a tall mound on a plate. Scoop out small chunks of burrata cheese and place all over the salad. Sprinkle with chopped herbs. Serve immediately. If the salad sits for a bit the beans will start to lose their vibrant green color but they'll still taste good.

grilled eggplant
caramelized onions
hazelnuts, pine nuts, or slivered almonds

Monday, September 27, 2010


Bella thinks crème fraiche is "awesome."

She loves salads.

She lives to use the Global chef knife.

Bella has redefined vegetarianism. She won't eat anything that comes from a fish, chicken, or cow. But pigs are fair game. We've been having a lot of prosciuitto, bacon, guanciale, serrano ham, and chorizo.

If Bella makes her own dinner, she eats more of it. 

Considering these current requirements/restrictions/tendencies, we came up with a plan last Saturday night that worked quite well. Bella was to make a salad all by herself that included bacon, lettuce, tomato, crème fraiche, and lots of herbs. I set out the mise en place, asked her to make a salad large enough for the 3 of us, and stepped back.

Dash wanted to join in. When he tried to juggle the tomatoes we sent him to the other end of the house to watch Wallace and Gromit.
Dash and I have had our peaceful moments cooking together, but in general he is a very physical cook. He climbs up and down the stool 20 times, the fridge flies open constantly, and there's lots of yelling, sweating, and swearing coming from me. Cooking with Bella is a much slower and more meticulous experience. She is cooking at a whole new level now since she is starting to taste and adjust dishes to her liking. This give her a lot of control. Bella likes to be in control.

Bella's neutral face is very serious. She inherited this from me. I swear she was having a great time.
I'm teaching Bella that cooking involves all of your senses. Smell and taste the dressing several times as you make it. Taste the salad several times as you dress it. Mix the salad with your hands so you can feel if the leaves are evenly coated. It's also more fun.
Bella has always said that she hates pepper. But she kept picking up the pepper mill and adding more and more to the dressing. Maybe it was just fun to turn the thing. Or maybe when kids are involved in cooking, the part of the brain that normally says "no" and "ew" and "I hate that" can start to shift.
I really wanted to crumble some blue cheese on top of the salad. Bella said, "Hell no." It was her creation so I didn't push it. I asked her if she could define deconstructed and she said, "Taking one thing apart to make another." You go, girl. So here's Bella's Deconstructed BLT Salad with Crème Fraiche and Herb Dressing.

This recipe includes the ingredients and approximate measurements. I recommend making it the way Bella did. Taste as you go along. Add and subtract ingredients as you wish. It's a very forgiving salad.

15-20 stale 1" baguette slices, grilled and rubbed with a garlic clove while still warm 
8 pieces of bacon, cooked the way you like
2 tablespoons crème fraiche
2 shallots, peeled and diced
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1/3 cup chopped herbs (any combo of mint, parsley, and/or basil)
2 tablespoons sherry wine vinegar, white wine, or champagne vinegar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
6-8 tablespoons olive oil
1 head of butter lettuce (or hearts of romaine, baby gems, arugula, spinach)
4 medium-sized tomatoes, cored and cut in wedges

Make croutons and cook the bacon. Set aside.

Place crème fraiche in a bowl. Whisk in shallots, green onions, herbs, vinegar, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Slowly whisk in about 5 tablespoons olive oil. Taste. Add more olive oil if necessary. But make sure the dressing is tangy enough because otherwise the salad will be bland. Place lettuce and tomato wedges in a bowl. Drizzle over some of the dressing, salt, and pepper. Mix with your hands. Taste. Add more dressing, salt, and pepper if needed. Place cooked bacon and baguette croutons on top of the salad. Drizzle over some more of the salad dressing. Sprinkle more herbs on top. Serve immediately.

more things to add:
blue cheese
hard-boiled eggs 

Monday, December 28, 2009


Both Dash and Bella are out of the house today after 10 LONG DAYS at home. The quiet is bliss. Sort of like the silence after it snows. I'm sipping coffee and trying to shake the foggy feeling from my head. I've fallen behind. Posting one recipe a day for my new year's recipe countdown is proving to be impossible. I"m going to try to catch up.


You will need a surprising amount of dressing because mushrooms are like sponges. I used cremini (or crimini) mushrooms. I just learned that they are baby portobellos. They're also called baby bellas. MY baby Bella turns her nose up at mushrooms. What is it with kids and mushrooms?

Cremini and asparagus salad? Yes, I know. You can't grow asparagus in California right now. They just looked so beautiful and spring-like. They were conventionally grown and from Chile. And to tell the truth they didn't have much flavor. Bad, bad carbon footprint asparagus. Tomorrow I"m going back to organic local kale, squash, onions, leeks, and Brussels sprouts. If you do make the salad, you can replace the asparagus with green beans or fennel or just keep it a simple mushroom salad. And in the spring, make this salad with beautiful young and skinny asparagus from the farmers' market and it will rock.

I finish off the salad with thin slices of aged gouda. The caramelized taste and the flavor crystals (that's what I call them but they're actually crystallized lactic acid) make the cheese like candy. Bella looks at me like I'm either stupid or crazy when I say that aged gouda tastes like candy.

You can replace 1/2 the olive oil with walnut oil or hazelnut oil. Green beans are a good replacement for the asparagus. Thinly sliced fennel would also work well. Or just make it a solo mushroom salad.
(feeds 1 as a meal or 2 as a side)

for the dressing:
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 lemon
handful of parsley, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
3 tablespoons olive oil
pinch of salt
a few turns of pepper
aged gouda

10-12 cremini mushrooms, sliced thinly
6 spears asparagus, raw or cooked until just tender and sliced into 1 inch slices

In a bowl, squeeze half 1/2 the lemon over the chopped shallot and let sit for a few minutes. Whisk in parsley, mustard, salt, and pepper. Slowly whisk in olive oil. Taste and add more of any of the lemon or dressing ingredients if it's not balanced. In another bowl, combine mushrooms and asparagus (or alternate vegetable). Drizzle over 1/2 the dressing and quickly combine with a fork or your fingers. Add more dressing in a minute or so. Shave lots of thin strips of aged gouda over the top of the salad with a vegetable peeler. Drizzle over a bit more olive oil and cunchy salt. Eat immediately.

Friday, December 11, 2009


Dash and I have been having it out every night about sleep. He just doesn't want to go to bed. Ever again. But during the day we have been cooking together and sharing peaceful lunches. I yawn my way through lunch while Dash looks concerned and asks, "You tired again, momma?" Oh Dash. You have no idea.

Every December people give me persimmons. Most years I place them in a bowl and admire them from a distance. And then they rot and I feel bad. In the past I've only had hachiya persimmons which are very bitter unless completely ripe. Hachiyas are good for puddings, cakes and purées. This year four people have given me fuyus. Fuyus can be eaten crisp like apples.

Dash and I made fuyu persimmon salad over and over again this past week.

We coat the persimmon slices with lemon, salt and olive oil. Then we start sprinkling on the goodies.

Dash and I giggle and eat the salad with our fingers. 
He rolls the thinly sliced persimmon around the pomegranate, goat cheese, pine nuts, and parsley. "Like a burrito," he says.
Dash loves how the pomegranate seeds pop in his mouth. I love how the warm pine nuts melt the goat cheese. And I love that we're sitting still for 20 minutes. No one is climbing out a window. No one is screaming about bedtime. No one is telling me I'm mean. No eyes needed on the back of my head. We scoop up the final scraps with our buttered bread. Lunch is over. And I release Dash from his chair.

These amounts are approximate. The persimmon slices absorb a lot of lemon juice, olive oil, and salt. I like lots of goat cheese. But you might just want a little bit. Or you could do parmesan instead. No matter what use lots of pomegranate and parsley.
printable recipe

Feeds 2.

2 fuyu persimmons
1 lemon
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 big pinches of salt
seeds from 1/2 pomegranate
4 tablespoons crumbled goat cheese
2 big handfuls of warm toasted pine nuts
chopped parsley

Thinly slice the persimmons (as thin as a piece of paper) with a serrated knife or a mandoline. Spread the slices out on a big platter, overlapping them a bit. Squeeze the lemon all over the persimmon slices. Let it absorb. Squeeze a little more. Drizzle over the olive oil.  Season generously with the salt. Sprinkle the pomegranate seeds, warm pine nuts, goat cheese, and parsley all over. Serve with bread.