Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Greens with Ecstasy

I have never been so ecstatic about greens!
Between the lettuce in our garden and the wonderful greens arriving weekly in our CSA bag from Southfield Organics, we are swimming in greens!

So tender, so tasty and oh so nutritious!!!

                                                                                                                                                          Even the boys notice the difference in the fresh picked, organic leaves. This past winter, as I served up the token bits of boring salad with our root veggies; night after night, William would send his greens back to the kitchen relatively untouched.

TIP: Never assume that  kids will never like a  certain food! Keep serving the food in small amounts. Refer to blog on Sweet Potato Success.

I sounded like a broken CD (?) -
"Eat your greens, eat your greens, elbows off the table, eat your greens!"

Well, fast forward to this summer - William is stuffing them into his mouth looking like a cow chewing grass. I am so happy that I resist the urge to insist on manners, instead, I revel in watching him enjoy his greens!

TIP: Interested in CSA boxes? go to: http://acornorganic.org/cgi-bin/acorn/search

Fresh homemade vinaigrette is a must for these greens!
Check out this list of ingredients on a typical commercial salad dressings: water, corn syrup, soybean oil, vinegar, egg yolk, salt, sugar, modified food starch, garlic juice, sodium lactate, MSG, phosphoric acid, xanthan gum, artificial color, polysorbate 60, spices, parsley, lemon juice concentrate, natural flavor, Vitamin E, lactic acid, natamycin.....WOW, I don't know about you - but I do not have a lot of those ingredients in my kitchen!

And you thought that you were being virtuous eating greens! Well, I want to push you one step further to make your own dressing - make enough for the week and store in the fridge - you will never go back to commercial salad dressings again!!

Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette

Put the following ingredients into a 500 ml jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake, shake, shake!

1 cup extra virgin olive oil              
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup honey
many crushed cloves of garlic

                                                                                                                                                                                                   This is our 'house' vinaigrette, but sometimes, if we are feeling a little reckless, we will make one or two of the following adaptations:
Use apple cider vinegar instead of balsamic.
Replace some of the vinegar with a couple of tbsp of freshly squeezed lemon juice
Add some chopped fresh chives, oregano, rosemary, etc
Add a some freshly ground pepper and salt

Why not come up with your favorite house dressing!
Believe me ecstasy is just a shake away!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Salade Nicoise: Nice for Summer!

I get very sentimental over Salade Nicoise - in fact, sentimental over almost anything that reminds me of 'Nizza la Bella' - the city of Nice in Southern France : rosemary bushes, pissaladiere, pain au chocolat, pan bagnat, olives .....hmmmm lots of food related memories!

In my twenties I was fortunate to spend a few months living in Nice under the guise of studying French. I actually did become quite functional at conversational french.... though not from sitting in the classroom!

My friend, Jan and I had an adorable apartment above a boulangerie. We could never resist the smells of fresh bread and pastries and would stop daily for a Pain au Chocolat or a Chausson aux Pommes! Janet and I  backpacked very companionably to many countries as we both felt strongly that meeting locals and sampling the food was an integral part of our European odyssey.

Side Story: It was on the beach of Nice that I had a tussle with the sea . We had been swimming at the magnificent beach with other Nicoise through November. On December 1st we noticed that the locals were not swimming. Thinking that they couldn't handle the cooler temperatures like we Atlantic Canadians; we  dove into the water on that wavy day in December.
The waves certainly were formidable, but being good swimmers we were not dissuaded. I stayed in the water longer than Jan and upon trying to get out was tossed around by the waves like a little pebble. I made several attempts to get to shore and was close to panic when finally I clawed my way up the rocky slope. Minutes after this little crisis, we saw the signs that had just been erected on December 1st: " Baignade est Interdite!" -  (Swimming is Forbidden!)

Despite this misadventure, I fell in love with the city and felt very at home there. Someday I will go back with Mike .... but will not swim in December!

This is a main course salad and is a perfect meal for summer. It can be assembled like a work of art and looks gorgeous on a huge platter. It is so easy, but when asked: " What's for dinner?" You can reply:" Salade Nicoise" - Trust me, they will be impressed - Wow, she can cook and speak french!

(adjust amounts to the number of people that will be eating)

lettuce greens, washed, dried and torn into bite sized pieces
small new potatoes, washed, boiled and cut in half
hard boiled eggs, peeled and cut in half
green beans, washed, blanched and refreshed (plunged briefly in cold water to halt cooking)
red ripe tomatoes, washed and cut into wedges
chunk tuna
black olives
anchovies (evidement optionel)
vinaigrette (perhaps just a blend of olive oil and red wine vinegar - 2:1 ratio.)

TIP:  the potatoes, beans and eggs can be prepared in advance and left to cool and marinate in a small amount of vinaigrette in the fridge.

Arrange lettuce on a large platter

Add tomato wedges and hard boiled egg halves.

Add blanched green beans, halved potato, and tuna...

Top it off with olives and a drizzle of vinaigrette. You may want to sprinkle chopped fresh basil or parsley on top and season with some freshly ground pepper and salt.

Serve with a nice baguette and a sprinkling of french words.
This is a comprehensive list of just about all of the french that I remember from my studies in Nice:
Bon Appetit!
S'il vous plait
Passez le poivre
Merci beaucoup
pas de quoi
Je voudrais un pain au chocolat
C'est delicieux!
Ou est la plage?
Baignade est interdite!

Bella is not excited about the Salade Nicoise - pauvre prives Bella!

Recommended Reading:

This is a wonderful summertime read: