mayonnaise

 

Sometimes, what really surprises me is how very simple foods taste so differently from the commercially prepared products. My family has come to expect certain foods to be made from scratch and not be purchased from an aisle at Safeway or even Whole Foods. This includes whipped cream, spaghetti, pancakes and mayonnaise. I always have a jar of Best Foods mayonnaise but when it comes to certain meals, such as asparagus, lobster, home-made French fries (yes, we eat them with mayo), nothing but the best for my family, real mayonnaise. Recently I was asked by my friendly neighborhood farmer market to provide my recipe for my famous aioli, which is a more elegant way of saying garlic mayo.

Years ago, I received a slim cookbook with my first Cuisinart. It was called “New Recipes for the Cuisinart by James Beard and Carl Jerome” and it seems that you could buy the book through Amazon for under a dollar. These recipes are solid and wonderful. But the recipe for Mayonnaise is outstanding and fool-proof. Just remember that you need to drizzle the oil into the feeder tube initially and in a few minutes, voila, perfect Mayo.

Anyway, the award-winning Monterey Bay Certified Farmers Market in Aptos California is a wonderful experience, their website is chock-full of great info and their blog “Edible Paradise” is a god-send for superb recipes (try the award-winning Kalamata Olive Fougasse Bread). There, in the section Miscellaneous, is listed “Nadine’s Garlic Aioli” – redundant title, but who am I to split hairs. And now I can say that I am a published food writer. Thank you, James Beard for your wonderful book and here is the excerpt from The Edible Paradise.

Nadine’s Garlic Aioli

As a regular customer at the Aptos Farmers Market, Nadine Frush can be spotted there almost every week carrying bags full of fresh produce from her favorite farmers. She also happens to be a wonderful cook — no surprise there!

Garlic aioli is one of her signature condiments that she keeps on hand. When I mentioned that we needed a good recipe for aioli for the Crispy Fried Calamari recipe, Nadine said, “Here’s the recipe I use for my garlic aioli. It’s based on a recipe that appeared in New Recipes for the Cuisinart by James Beard and Carl Jerome — a wonderful little book under 100 pages with great recipes.”

What’s the difference between aioli and mayonnaise? Basically, it’s the same condiment — however, aioli contains garlic. Garlic aioli is especially delicious served with crispy calamari or shrimp, crab, boiled small potatoes, homemade French fries, or crudites.

INGREDIENTS
1 large egg
1 teaspoon white vinegar or lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 cups peanut oil*
1 clove of peeled, finely minced garlic
—————————————————
Optional flavor variations:
• 8 anchovy fillets
• 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
• 6 spinach leaves, 6 parsley sprigs, 4 green onions cut up, 4 sprigs of tarragon, 2 sprigs of dill

METHOD
In the bowl of a food processor using the metal blade, add vinegar, egg, salt and pepper. Give the mixture two quick pulses and let it sit for 5 minutes. Then process until blended. While the food processor is running, slowly start dripping in the oil. As soon as it starts to thicken (when about 1/3 of the oil remains), you can speed up the pouring. Add the garlic (or other add ins). Refrigerate immediately. Aioli is good for about a week. Credits to New Recipes for the Cuisinart by James Beard and Carl Jerome.

* Nadine is French, and she says that where her family is from in France, “Our aioli is always made with peanut oil.” However, if you don’t have peanut oil on hand, you can use 3/4 canola oil and 1/4 olive oil. Don’t use all virgin olive oil for aioli — it overwhelms the flavor of the sauce. If you want to use all olive oil, a better choice is a blend or a very light olive oil.

Rose's Picture of 'Woody's Cake". Someone punched up the yellow!

Things have changed on my home front.  My mother Mina, the creator of the Glorious Charlotte Russe, fell and smashed her shoulder two months ago.  Now she is in a free-falling descent and is under 24/7 care.  No longer do I pick her up every night to have dinner at my house, or even prepare a dinner to be served at her house.  She can hardly move, has no balance, has limited speech and horrible coughing  jags while she eats. So what can I do to cheer her up?

Easy.  Once a week, we have cake night.  Supposedly, I spend a couple hours making a fab new cake recipe and the whole family meets at her house around 9 pm to have cake and light  conversation about the previous week.  Then, much to the joy of my mother and the caregivers, I leave them one half of the cake.  Mom then has dessert for 4 – 5 days, which seems to be the highlight of her day.  The first week, I tried the Mary Todd Lincoln’s Vanilla Almond Cake which we all loved.

My good friend Patricia Raines, the Vanilla Queen, recommended a cook book called “Rose’s Heavenly Cakes” by Rose Levy Beranbaum, the cake goddess.  After seeing the photos, how could I not resist making a cake from her delicious book?  In fact the book is so beautiful, that Christie and I sat down and went thru the book, marking our favorites.  Since Mémé (my mother) loves lemons, we decided to make Rose’s majestic Woody’s Lemon Luxury Layer Cake.

My "Woody's" Cake

Now, I am never one to be intimidated, but a 4-page recipe for cake is a little daunting.  Beware, Rose Beranbaum is an obsessive baker and minutely precise in her instructions.  So although this recipe is intense, there is no room for failure if you follow (to the book) her instructions.  However this recipe took me 11 hours to make.

Admittedly, I am a little slow whenever I face a new complex recipe, but as they say, this one took the cake. Plus it was very expensive to make with 23 eggs, 3 bars of good white chocolate and 3 sticks of butter. And I had to cheat since the finished cake needed to be refrigerated for an hour and I had 15 minutes to make it to Mom’s house.

Was it worth the effort?  Well, when we tasted our fabulous cake, sighs of ecstasy went around the table.  Would I make this cake again if it took half the time?  I don’t know.  It is truly a great recipe, the butter icing is to die for, but shoot me if I try this again.  However next week, Rose’s Chocolate Velvet Fudge Cake sounds promising, and the recipe is only 1.5 pages long.

If you are a cake freak, do buy this book.  My only reservation is the picture of Woody’s Lemon Cake does not represent the final product.  It is a light yellow and cream colored cake instead of the glowing bright yellow cake with glistening icing shown in the book.

I wouldn’t even dare copying the recipe to put on my blog, since it is a work of art, but instead am leaving you with the excellent Mary Todd Lincoln’s Vanilla Almond Cake.  It is quick, easy and the frosting is wonderful.

Mary Todd Lincoln’s Vanilla Almond Cake:  Ready in: 1-2 hrs, serves 12

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups sifted cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/3 cup milk
1 cup almonds, finely chopped
6 egg whites, stiffly beaten
White Frosting
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 dash salt
2 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

Set oven temperature to 375 degrees

Cream together sugar, butter, and vanilla extract.

Stir together the cake flour and baking powder; add to creamed mixture alternately with milk. Stir in almonds. Gently fold in the egg whites. Pour into two greased and lightly floured 9 x 1 1/2-inch round baking pans. Bake for 28 to 30 minutes. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans. Fill and frost with White Frosting.

White Frosting: In a saucepan, combine sugar, water, cream of tartar and salt. Bring mixture to boiling, stirring until the sugar dissolves.

In mixing bowl place egg whites; very slowly pour the hot sugar syrup over, beating constantly with electric mixer until stiff peaks form, about 7 minutes. Beat in vanilla extract.



When Warren & I were living in Colorado Springs and planning out our wedding, a lovely couple moved in next door and we invited them over for dinner.  I can’t remember their names, but let’s call them Heather and Jim (isn’t everyone named Heather?).  Heather said she’d make the dessert and after a lovely barbeque at our house, Heather whipped out the dessert, which looked lovely and was to die for.  What was this divine concoction – Yogurt Cream Pie.  When Heather told me how to make it, I was stunned.  This broke every concept of what I learned about cooking.  All it took was a store-bought graham cracker or cookie pie shell, a container (6 – 8 ounces) of a flavored yogurt, and a container (regular size) of Cool Whip.  I’ll write this out recipe-style.

Over the years I’ve taught single men how to make this dessert and it has become, to some people, a food group.  You can class up yogurt pie by making your own pie crust with cookie crumbs such as ginger snaps, Lorna Doones, pecan sandies, peanut butter, chocolate and vanilla wafers.  You’ll need about a half a box of cookies crumbled.  For a filing you can use Greek yogurt (flavored or add fruit) and make your own whipped cream with a pint of heavy cream, sugar and a tsp. of vanilla.  Whether you go for the easiest method, or make it from scratch, it is wonderful.

YOGURT CREAM PIE

1 small container of (6 to 8 ounces) yogurt

1 pie shell

1 regular container of Cool Whip – make sure that it is soft by defrosting it in the refrigerator

Mix well yogurt and Cool Whip.  Add fruit (berries, bananas etc) if you wish.  Pour mixture into pie shell and freeze for ½ to 1 hour.  Top with chocolate shavings or fruit.

Crust– 10 minutes active time, 10 minutes baking time

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (10 crackers) or dry cookies such as gingersnaps

1/4 cup sugar

3/4 stick of melted unsalted butter

Preheat oven at 350 degrees.  In a large bowl combine sugar and graham crackers.  Add melted butter and mix well.  Press mixture into a pie pan – I used a fluted, ceramic tart pan.  Bake for 10 minutes and cool.

Whipped Cream – 5 minutes active time

1 pint heavy cream

1/3 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

In a mixing bowl, add all the ingredients and whip until mixture is stiff and can hold a spoon upright.

Have you noticed the price at the decent bakeries for pies and cakes?  Two weeks ago I choked when I paid for a cherry pie – $26.  To add insult to injury, some bakeries are charging more than $40 for a strawberry short cake.  Even though the cherry pie was excellent, I can’t afford to continue in this direction.

Last week was my mother’s birthday (the big 85), and sitting on my counter was a bag of Key limes that I purchased for $3.  Now my mother loves lemon meringue pies, and never had the courage to make them so when I offered to make her a Key lime pie, she jumped at the offer.

These pies are easy, spectacular and very affordable.  Plus you can use this recipe for Key limes, regular limes and lemons.  Key limes are about ½ the size of regular limes (or lemons), so you will need at least double the amount of fruit.  Don’t mess around making a traditional pie crust but try a simple graham cracker crust.  For the meringue topping, put the meringue in a pastry bag (get a real big one – mine is a 20”).

I’m lucky that I even got a picture of the pie before it went into the oven to cook the meringue.  When I brought it to the table, my group of lime lovers devoured the pie.  And it cost me so little to make – probably under $5.

KEY LIME MERINGUE PIE– give yourself time, about 2 hours before serving, to start the pie.  It is a 3-step process; crust, filling and meringue topping.

Crust – 10 minutes active time, 10 minutes baking time

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (10 crackers)

1/4 cup sugar

3/4 stick of melted unsalted butter

Preheat oven at 350 degrees.  In a large bowl combine sugar and graham crackers.  Add melted butter and mix well.  Press mixture into a pie pan – I used a fluted, ceramic tart pan.  Bake for 10 minutes and cool.

Filling – 15 minutes active time, 1 hour cooling time

1 cup of sugar

¼ cup flour

3 tablespoons cornstarch

¼ tsp salt

2 cups water

3 eggs, separated

1 tablespoon butter

¼ cup fresh lime juice – approx 10 – 12 Key limes or 5-6 limes/ lemons

Grated rind of 1 lime (2 key limes)

Combine sugar, flour cornstarch and salt in a saucepan and gradually stir in water.  Cool, stirring constantly, until thickened.  Gradually stir the mixture into the beaten egg yolks, return to low heat and cook, stirring, 2 minutes.

Stir in the butter, lime juice and rind and cool slightly.  Pour into the baked graham cracker shell and cool. Put in refrigerator

Meringue Topping – 15 minutes active time, 1 hour cool down.

3 egg whites

¼ tsp cream of tartar

6 tablespoons sugar

Preheated oven at 425 degrees. Beat the egg whites until lift and frothy.  Add cream of tartar and continue beating until the whites are stiff enough to hold a peak.

Gradually beat in sugar and beat until meringue is stiff and glossy (or stand up a spoon).

Pile meringue lightly on cooled pie filling, spreading it until it touches the edges of the crust to prevent the meringue from shrinking.  If you prefer (I do), put meringue into a pastry bag with a large tip and twist down the top of the bag so that the meringue is forced to squeeze out. Decorate the top of the pie, always making sure the meringue touches the edges of the crust. Bake for 5 to six minutes until top is brown.  Let pie cool down and refrigerator.

Graham cracker crust recipe courtesy of Ina Garten

Filling and meringue topping recipes courtesy of The New York Times Cook Book by Craig Claiborne

Somehow coming back from the Kaua’i vacation just didn’t turn on my cooking button and creative juices.  I’ve been plodding away at cooking without anything grabbing my imagination.  But that will change soon.  Strawberries are out in the local markets, and I just bought a 6 pint box from my local veggie stand.  This weekend the organic stand may have some of their delicious berries for sale and we’ll be elbow deep in strawberries.

I just love those red berries and they are great for snacking and munching – low in calories, high in fiber.  It is time for strawberry-rhubarb pie, fruit crumbles, and jam.  But most important, fresh spring fruit snacking.  Mix cut-up berries in your yogurt with a little flaxseed and oat bran and you have a wonderful dessert/breakfast that will hold through to lunch time.

As for the cheating heart bit, you’ve probably noticed that pizza prices are now starting to head toward the $30 level.  Sorry, but that is too expensive for dough, cheese and tomato sauce.  We have found an economic alternative.  Buy pre-made dough and put in your own toppings.

I am truly uncoordinated when shaping the pizza dough.  Trader Joe’s makes a good dough but my pizzas are always weird looking when I have to form my own pie.  So now, I go do Safeway and buy their large Safeway Select fresh pizza.  Those pizzas are usually found on the end isle, are about 42 ounces, come with sauce and several types of topping which suck.  I get their 5 cheese pie and use my own toppings.  Sunday, we were in the mood for a Greek Pizza and it was excellent. Eat this with  steam spring asparagus and a green salad (don’t forget your SaladSuccess shaker to make the dressing).

Greek Pizza Topping

6 ounces baked and cut up (I use scissors) bacon or pancetta

20 Kalamata olives halved and pitted

Feta Cheese

½ can artichokes – I get them from Trader Joe’s

Pesto

1 Italian sausage – get it from the Butcher’s section of the grocery store – take off the skin

1 cup grated fresh Mozzarella cheese – don’t use that rubbery crap but try to find a softer cheese.  Trader Joe makes an excellent Mozzerella cheese.

DIRECTIONS

Spread ingredients evenly over pie.  Bake for 23  minutes in an oven set at 425 degrees.

Well, as all good things must come to an end, so did our vacation.  My thanks go to Costco for providing such an easy trip, Kiahuna Plantation who allowed us to use their hospitality room and take showers before our evening flight, Celeste for her great windsurfing lessons (yes, even fat old ladies like me can do it) and Larry’s Ukuleles in Koloa for giving Christie free lessons.  My curses go to the roosters who started to crow at 6 am outside the condo, United Airlines for the world’s tightest seats, and the Honolulu airport which really needs a major re-design.

About Food:  The Hawaiian Islands are not known for a fine cuisine.  After all these folks were happy with poi, which is like eating glue.  But we did find a good restaurant called Kaua’i Pasta in Lihue.  Prices were comparable to those on the mainland, service was excellent, and I couldn’t ask for a nicer meal. However most “nice” restaurants are either over-priced in which you pay for the view and not the cuisine.  Also, many places don’t want to stay open late and close between 4 and 5 pm.  So make sure that you get a condo with a kitchen and do a little cooking.  On the plus side, the fruits are wonderful and so are the farmers’ markets.  Try a couple of these, buy the papayas and pineapples (especially Sugar Baby pineapple) and feast on fruit.  We were too early for mangos, since that is a summer fruit in Hawaii.  If you are trying to save money, Safeway, Foodland and (don’t laugh) Kmart has great fruit.  In fact Kmart in Lihue is wonderful and I usually hate Kmart.  But everything is upscale from the usual Kmart fare and they have a fresh food department.  I didn’t have the time to check out the Walmart and Costco in Lihue, but I am sure that many of their food products should be good, too.

About Fun:  Where does one start describing activities on an island known for playtime?  Go snorkeling at the Poipu beaches on the south side of the island.  Buy your kid a ukulele and have her take it in the car to serenade you for hours.  Go to Anini Beach on the north side of the island and have Celeste Harvel give you a lesson.  She’s been windsurfing for 17 years and knows how to get you going in a matter of minutes.  Plus Anini Beach is TO DIE FOR.  Calm and protected from high surf, it’s a private oasis of clear turquoise water.  And don’t think you’re too old or too fat to be able to windsurf, it takes minimum brain function, coordination and strength to learn.  Her 3 hour class was the best $100 I’ve spent in a long time.

Celeste (green suite) and me at Anini Beach

For great boat charters on the Na Pali coast (think Jurassic Park), go to North Shore Charters and get Gary as your captain – he’s the best.  The link at Yelp says it all – “Bouncing up and down the surges of the ocean, chasing dolphins, exploring sea caves…memories that I will have for a lifetime! Don’t waste your time or money on the big boats out of the west side – experience Na Pali up-close and personal with North Shore Charters!”.  By the way, don’t lug over your snorkeling gear to Kaua’i, it wastes precious luggage space and you can rent for $5 a day or go buy gear at Kmart.  Save your space for that wonderful Kona coffee which you can find at the local Foodland and Safeway markets on sale.

Biking is great fun on the island.  We decided to try a Waimea Canyon downhill adventure thru Outfitters Kauai. Joey and Howard were great guides, and Joey will even take you on a hiking/camping trip thru the Na Pali coast and be your guide/chef.  Outfitters has other adventure tours such as kayaking, ziplining thru forest canopies, and whale watching. They are a little pricey but loads of fun.

Family Pic at the Waimea Canyon

Words to the Wise:  Make sure that you have rash guards and board shorts, especially for the kids.  There are lots of rocks and coral in the water, so if there is boogie board or surfing activities, you’ll get cut up.  Plus rash guards are always a good idea when being out at the beach.  Kmart sells them for $10.  Also beach shoes and booties will help save your feet in the water.  Always remember to lather on the sunscreen (I use 45 – 50 SPF Wide Spectrum) no matter how overcast the day.  I’m a skin cancer survivor so I also ALWAYS wear hats and long sleeve shirts.  Watch out for the riptides – not all beaches are safe.  And most importantly, buy The Ultimate Kaua’i Guidebook – Kaua’i Revealed by Andrew Doughty.  It is almost as good having a native guide on your trip.  The restaurant section is unbiased and on target.

View from the Condo

So other than great memories and pictures, what did I bring back from our trip?.  Freshwater pearl necklaces and earrings from the vendors at the Spouting Hole (save yourself some time to go see the horn and do some inexpensive trinket shopping), tea towels from the botanical gardens, pink and white Hawaiian sea salt from Foodland, a 5 lb bag of Maui Gold Cane Sugar and bags of Kona coffee – a newly found addiction.  Wish I had more time and money (oh for those Hawaiian quilts), but I’ll be back, I promise you. Aloha.

I’ll start with appliance hell.  Our dishwasher from Hell (Frigidaire) died about a year ago, and we finally got fed up of hand washing.  Why did we put off the decision to buy a new dishwasher for so long?  Easy, we did buy a Bosch but it wouldn’t fit in the cabinet.  Years ago I hired a tiler to redo my kitchen floor and he tiled in the dishwasher.  Contractors in California are interesting, many got started in their trade to support a drug habit.  Now they are all reborn, but definitely brain cells are missing especially when tiling kitchen floors.

For a year we angst’ing whether to pull out our tiles from around the dishwasher, which I have no replacements of the old tile, or to pull out the old dishwasher by making a hole through our stucco wall.  Both solutions were expensive and imperfect.  Finally we decided to get a shorter dishwasher that would fit our space.

Now our choice was limited, shorter dishwashers are ADA-compliant, and for the most part, hard to buy since no one keeps them in stock.  Plus they are either super-expensive such as Miele or Asko, or have an old fashion design.  I really wanted a stainless steel front, steel tub, low noise and lower water usage, plus a hidden control panel.  All that was left in my price range was a Blomberg, a brand similar to Bosch, but not well established in the US.  With a leap of faith after reading the reviews (no one brand stands out), I ordered the Blomberg at HomeEverything.com.

One month later, no dishwasher.  I called HomeEverything.  “Yes, it will be here in 7 to 10 days”.  Two weeks later, (total of 6 weeks) same old story.  In fact until yesterday, the lovely guys at customer service were singing every two weeks the same song.  Yesterday, I called again and found out that there was a “Master” back order.  “What is a Master back order”, I asked Mr. HomeEverything customer serviceman.  “Well, it seems that there is a major amount of product that is overdue”, said the calm voice on the phone.   “And does this mean that I should expect my dishwasher in SEPTEMBER?” I said with a slight panic in my voice.  “No”, said Mr. HomeEverything, “but it will probably take another 2 to 4 weeks”.

That’s it.  These guys at HomeEverything have been stringing me on the line for 3 months.  They have totally lost their credibility with me.  I’ll never try buying anything from them again. Tomorrow I’ll go talk to the guys at Sears (you can haggle with them and the warranty is good) and get a Bosch.  Do you have another idea that might work?  Comments are really appreciated.

On another subject, here is the recipe for Shrimp and Celeriac Remoulade.  Celeriac (Celery root) is a celery bulb, a hairy, incredibly unattractive object that is wonderfully mild.  You’ll need to peel it with a very sharp knife, like a pineapple and use a food processor, a god-send to cooks around the world, to make the thin strips.  I first had remoulade at the Carlyle Hotel during a Sunday Brunch.  It was one of those perfect weekends in NYC, caught the evening show at Café Carlyle with Bobby Short, drank lots of champagne and luxuriated in a room at the hotel.  I felt like an adult “Eloise at the Plaza”, only I was at a better hotel, the Carlyle.

I like to add poppy seeds to my remoulade and you can substitute the shrimp with crab or lobster.  This 5 minute recipe is delicious, exotic and elegant.  But it ain’t cheap so make it for a special occasion.

Shrimp and Celeriac Remoulade – Serves 4 – 8 people.  Prep time:  10 minutes,  inactive refrigerator time:  ½ hour.

1 lb of cold cooked and peeled shrimp

1 – 2 peeled bulbs of celeriac – bulbs are usually slightly under 2 lbs each

1 cup of good mayonnaise – I use Best Brand or Trader Joe’s Organic

2 lemons – make sure that they are full of juice

2 tsps white vinegar such as white wine or white balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard

1 tsp kosher salt

½ tsp freshly grounded pepper

1 tsp poppy seeds

Directions

Using the food processor and the shredding disk, feed chunks of the celeriac thru the machine.  You can also use a mandoline on a matchstick setting.  Place the celeriac shavings in a large bowl, add the lemon juice and kosher salt, mix well, and allow mixture to stand for 30 minutes to soften the bulb and add flavor.

In a small bowl whisk mayonnaise, white vinegar, Dijon mustard and pepper.  Pour over celeriac mixture, add cold shrimp and poppy seeds.  Refrigerate until serving time.  Garnish with additional poppy seeds.

This dish makes a delightful cold main course, with a light dry white wine, good bread, steamed asparagus and a light green salad with a shallot vinaigrette. Don’t forget to use your SaladSuccess Shaker!

Looking for something different and spring-like, but don’t want to indulge in off season produce?  Try this salad for a change of pace.  Warm and delicious, this will tempt the most demanding palates.

INGREDIENTS

2 red onions finely sliced

Olive oil

2 tsp cumin seeds

2 crushed, pressed or finely chopped garlic cloves

2 tsp grated ginger root

1 ½ cup split lentils – I use the common red lentils that you can find in any grocery store

3 cups vegetable stock or bouillon

2 tbsp chopped fresh mint

2 tbsp chopped cilantro

4 – 5 cups spinach

2 avocados, pitted and sliced

1 tsp hazelnut or walnut oil

4 tbsp Greek or strained plain yogurt – greek has a richer texture

Fresh ground pepper

DIRECTIONS

In a large skillet over medium heat with enough olive oil to cover the bottom, sauté onions until soft, for about 10 minutes.  Add cumin seeds, garlic and ginger root.  Sauté for 2 minutes, constantly stirring.

Stir in lentils; add stock at a ladleful at a time and constantly stirring, until the stock is absorbed – about 20 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in herbs.

Toss spinach in hazelnut or walnut oil, then divide among 4-6 salad plates or one large serving plate

Mash goat cheese with yogurt in a small bowl (you can also use a stick or mini-blender but don’t puree) and season with fresh ground pepper.

Place lentils among salad plates or serving plate and top with avocado slices and goat cheese mixture.

Courtesy of Salad by Love Food

When I moved out from Colorado to California, Warren – he who should be king – sneaked in his favorite plant, a flowering clover that would test any green thumb with its finicky and sensitive nature.  Quickly in California we discovered that our delicate hothouse exotic was considered a common weed called oxalis or sour grass, and it’s the bane of every gardener.  I now spend hours in the garden carefully extracting this nuisance and its horrid seeds from the rich earth.

So you can imagine my surprise, while reading Point de Vue (an idiotic French weekly about the European royals and their social calendars, balls, gowns and jewels) I came upon an article titled “Oeufs Coque Mousseuse de Muscade Piqure d’Oxalis.  And there in the picture, was my little hated weed.  Zut alors, there is something you can do with this infernal weed and I am Queen of the Crop.  So, amuse-toi bien (go have a blast) and try this number that I’ve just finished translating, especially if you have oxalis in your backyard.  I’m going to check it out too.

Coddled Eggs with Nutmeg Mousse and a Shot of Oxalis – This is a 3 part recipe: preparing the yolks, making the cream and boiling an extract of oxalis.  Plan a good hour to test this thing.

4 eggs

8 grains of Salt from Guerande or grey French sea salt

½ grated nutmeg nut

2 ounces of vegetable bouillon

5 ounces of heavy cream

Salt & Pepper

50 stems and 15 leaves of Oxalis

DIRECTIONS

Preparing the Yolks

Decalotter (Nice word, means to take off the top) of the eggs with an egg topper (oh no, a new tool to buy)

Clarify and separate the egg yolks from the egg whites and reintroduce each yolk back to an egg shell

Heat the eggs (obviously with shells standing up) in a bain-marie for 3 minutes.  Water should not boil but should slowly cook the eggs.

When the yolks are lukewarm add Guerande salt to the  measuring cup of cream.  Now fill each egg with the cream (but leave a little space at the top).  Using a syringe filled with the oxalis and bouillon extract, pierce through the whipped cream and yolks and inject the extract of oxalis at the bottom of the shell filling the little opening that you’ve made. (Oh yes, this is definitely a recipe for beginners)

Preparing the Nutmeg Mousse

In a small pot, boil 1 ounce of the vegetable bouillon, take pot of off the fire and add the nutmeg. Cover and let it sit for 15 minutes. Mix and put it thru a coffee filter so all you get is the essence of the nutmeg.

Whip heavy cream until stiff, then add cream to nutmeg essence and salt & pepper to taste.  Put it in a pastry bag  in the refrigerator.

Extract of Oxalis

Boil the remaining ounce of bouillon, add the 50 stems and 15 leaves of oxalis, couple pinches of salt and a pinch of pepper. Cover and heat for a minute, then mix well and filter (coffee filter once again unless you have a fine sieve).  Fill the syringe and follow the instructions on the last paragraph of Preparing the Yolks section.

That’s it.  All that work for 4 eggs, you’ve got to be crazy.  On the other hands, what a great use for the oxalis.

Now SaladSuccess is not only providing the best salads and dressings to make with our SaladSuccess shaker, but now will provide the measurements if you only want to make enough dressing for one salad.

The bones of this recipe are from Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa with changes to the proportions.  I love this combination on a bed of lettuce since there are so many calories in a single avocado.  Most grocery stores sell very unripe (hard as rock) avocados – I’m lucky that my local farmers market carries avocados.  Unless you have a specialty shop, often Costco avocados are ripe or will ripen in the next few days.

Ingredients for the SaladSuccess Shaker

  • Freshly squeezed lemon to the 1/3 orange line of SaladSuccess Shaker
  • Olive oil to the top orange line of SaladSuccess Shaker
  • 1 large spoonful of  Dijon mustard
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Ingredients for a single salad dressing

  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Ingredients for the Salad

  • 4 ripe avocados
  • 2 large red grapefruits
  • Mesclun lettuce or arugula

Just before serving, cut the avocados in quarters, remove the seeds, and peel off the skin. Cut each quarter into 2-3 slices. Whisk all the vinaigrette ingredients and oss the avocado slices in the vinaigrette to prevent them from turning brown. Peel off the grapefruits slices (removing all the white pith), then strip the membranes to release the grapefruit sections.

Arrange the avocado slices around the edge of a large platter lined with mesclun lettuce or arugula. Arrange the grapefruit segments in the center. Spoon the remaining vinaigrette on top and serve.

Courtesy of Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa.