Sunday, February 12, 2012

Winter Kale Salad w/ Citrus Vinaigrette

Let's be completely honest.... It's incredibly difficult to eat salads composed of micro greens while we're still in the middle of winter. 

I desperately want to eat lighter, but on a personal and professional level, I shy away from the same old tired salads: Caesar, the standard "house" salad, or those with a gummy balsamic dressing. These salads have been done over and over, and many have been done poorly. 

What I love about this salad is, it's hardy and refreshing all at the same time.

winter kale salad

Recently, I was served a similar salad at one of my local restaurants, and after the first bite, I was hooked.  I have eaten a version of this raw salad, EVERYDAY!   I Love, Love, LOVE this easy salad. 
I hope you will try it too, and leave those other boring, frail salads to everyone else.

A Few Notes before you begin.

1. Try to use Tuscan Kale (Cavalo neroOther names: black kale, Lacinato kale, dinosaur kale).  If you aren't sure what it looks like, Click HERE .  Tuscan Kale is more tender then the frilly kale you see as a garnish, although it works too.
2. When you slice the kale, perk it up by soaking the kale in ice water for 30 minutes, then spin it dry with a salad spinner.
3. Massage the dressing into the kale, with our hands.  By using your hands and gently rubbing the kale between your palm and fingers, you actually soften the greens, therefore you tenderize the kale.  Massage for 2-3 minutes, until the kale shines and is deep green. ( I know it's strange, but trust me).
4. This salad will hold for a least 6-8 hours (or more) once you dress it, so it's a perfect work day lunch, or pot luck dish you can make ahead.

                  Winter Kale Salad w/Citrus Vinaigrette
                       Serves 2-4

2 bunches Tuscan Kale/ Nero, thick stems removed, leaves thinly sliced
3 leaves Radicchio, thinly sliced
2 oz. Feta
2 whole artichoke hearts, thinly sliced (pick up a few from the olive bar at your local market)
1/3 cup pomegranate seeds
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts ( or walnuts, pecans)

Citrus Dressing
Juice and zest of one orange ( I like cara cara, blood, or honey oranges)
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
2-3 Tablespoons olive oil
Pinch of salt and fresh ground pepper

Combine all the ingredients of the citrus dressing with a whisk, set aside.  ( don't worry if the dressing separates).

In a large bowl, combine kale and radicchio and drizzle half of the dressing over the mixture, using your hands, massage the dressing into all the leaves for 2-3 minutes.  Once all the leaves are coated, the salad it ready to plate.

To plate: arrange kale/radicchio salad on chilled plates, then top each salad with sliced artichokes, feta, pomegranate seeds, and pine nuts. Season lightly with salt and pepper, and drizzle a tiny bit of dressing on each.


Chef Deb

P.S.  I recently "tried" to tidy up my blog, but it sent out several post from the past instead.... I apologize.  Thank goodness I am a better chef then I am a blogger.    I do have upcoming classes at Mountain High Appliance in Louisville, Colorado.  I will post them as soon as we schedule them!

Stay warm...and eat your greens!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Mushroom Salsa

Yes, MUSHROOM salsa....

I know, I know, I know, you've tried millions of salsas: tomato, fruit, bean, corn, squash, blah, blah and blah...

This one will surprise you, I promise.   

When I was asked to demo something fresh at the very last Farmer's Market in December, the only things available were: Winter Squash, kale, onions, crafts, and Hazel Dell Mushrooms.  So, I decided to whip up a simple mushroom salsa/relish that had been served to me at one of our local mexican food restaurants.  

Initially, I thought this quick recipe would be an easy way to pass the saturday chatting with market friends and doing some winter shopping myself.... it was after all, a salsa. 

Salsa...(eyes glaze over).


I worried slightly if it would be a bit of a push to get people to try a raw mushroom salsa. However,  once I answered the "Mushroom Salsa??" question, I had a difficult time keeping up with the demand for samples! I am pretty sure I had a few market shoppers filling up their aluminum drink bottles with salsa when I was not looking.  Hands down, this was the most popular recipe I've ever offered!

It's THAT good, I swear!

 Besides, with all the Super Bowl recipes going around that will most likely to put an end to your New Year's resolution ( and you've really worked hard this year! ).  Why not bring something unusual, tasty, and inexpensive? This unique salsa will actually have more people asking YOU for your recipe, then praising your friend for her Buffalo Chicken dip concoction.  ( Sorry, I am a wee bit competitive...)

Please keep in mind this is a suggested recipe and I have a few notes I'd like you to consider.
 1.  Any mushroom will do, so it's find to use the inexpensive "white" ones.  I also find great deals on mushrooms at the local asian markets.
 2. This salsa benefits from a high lime/vinegar ratio.  Mushrooms are "earthy" and somewhat of a  blank canvas, therefore an acid such as lime and/or a mild vinegar, pulls this recipe together.
3. This salsa is best when fresh.  I allow it to sit for about an hour or so and it's ready.  The mushrooms begin to darken after a few hours, and will turn dark gray in a day, so plan accordingly.
4.  I use a small amount of red onion in this dish because, without the acid of tomato, the onions will overpower the salsa. If onions are too strong, rinse them under cold water to lessen their bite.
5. For my friends on a special diet, I serve this salsa with peeled and sliced Jicama or sliced Chayote
6.  I sometimes add a little olive oil, but it's because I think a tiny bit of fat balances out the flavor, but I've added water when I could not add olive oil... the water dilutes the acid, and helps the mushrooms marinate.  Your choice, water or olive oil
7.  there's no garlic... for some reason, it does not need it, but feel free to add a few pinches of cumin.  It is a little "fresher" tasting, without it. The carrot is for a tiny bit of sweetness and it adds color.

                                                 Mushroom Salsa

1  8 oz.  Button mushrooms, cleaned, chopped by hand
1-2 Jalapenos, diced (leave the seeds for hotter salsa)
1/4 small red onion, minced
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 small carrot, peeled, grated
Juice of 1-2 limes (or 1 lime and 1-2 Tablespoons rice wine vinegar)
salt & pepper to taste
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil or Water (optional)
1/4 teaspoon cumin (optional)

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl, sprinkle w/ Kosher salt and Pepper. Allow mixture to rest for 30 minutes. Taste and season more if needed, it should have a pronounced lime taste and salt should balance out the flavors.

Play with this recipe and let me know what you think.


Chef Deb

P.S.  To all my local readers:

We are still doing cooking classes each month at Mountain High Appliance and they are still in $20-$25 range. 

My next Demo is Feb. 7, 2012,  :

Casseroles and Comfort Foods:
  King Ranch Chicken Casserole,  Ham and Leek Pie, Pinto Bean and Sweet Potato Chili, Stuffed Polenta w/Classic Bolognese,  Perfect Potato Gratin, Sticky Toffee Pudding w/Bourbon Whipped Cream

Contact Barbara at Mountain High Appliance : 303.665.6850

In Denver I will be at The Seasoned Chef on Feb. 5, 2012

Deb Traylor
Sunday, February 5
1:00 pm to 3:30 pm
Fee: $55
Who doesn’t love donuts? Join Chef Deb and prepare these mouth-watering confections: Basic Yeast Donuts: Baked and Fried; Cake Donuts: Baked and Fried; Apple Cider Donuts with Cinnamon Glaze; Pumpkin Donuts with Cream Cheese Glaze; Blueberry Cake Donuts with Lemon Glaze; Bomboloni's: Italian Donuts with Rich Chocolate Sauce.
Contact: Mary at The Seasoned Chef