Recipe: Citrus Fruit Salad, Two Ways

20180214_144228.jpg

We’re still in the heart of citrus season, and there are many delicious options to choose from. Make a habit of asking your grower or market’s produce manager which is best at the moment. I’ve given you an instruction on properly peeling and segmenting citrus fruits at the front of this recipe; remember to have fun and keep practicing. Two very different salad ideas here; serve the simple salad any time of the day, and serve the elevated salad as an impressive side dish for supper.

MARKET LIST

For Simple Citrus Salad:
2 oranges
2 grapefruit
Fine sugar or honey
Fresh mint
For Elevated Citrus Salad:
3 oranges
1 small shallot (optional)
Balsamic vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
Honey
Sea salt and black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
2 grapefruits
1 avocado (ripe, but firm)
Fresh mint
Other optional additions: green grapes, fennel, beet, carrot, lettuce greens or arugula, and/or smoked salmon

Serves 4

Instruction: Learn to Peel and Segment Citrus

Using a small sharp or serrated knife, cut a slice off the top and bottom of the fruit through to the flesh. Now, working from top to bottom, following the curve of the fruit, cut away a strip of skin and the white pith beneath it; continue this around the entire fruit. Now, hold the fruit firmly in your hand over a bowl, noticing the white edges of the membranes separating the sections. Slide your knife down one side of a segment, as close to the membrane as you can, cutting it from the skin, and then do the same on the opposite side the section, meeting at the bottom. Pull, or slide out the section into your bowl and repeat with the other segments. Set aside the membranes of your fruit; you’ll be using them soon.

Way 1: Simple Citrus Salad

Following the instructions for peeling and segmenting above, do so with 2 oranges and 2 grapefruit, reserving the membranes of the fruit. Squeeze the membranes with their juice over the segmented fruit in your bowl. Gently stir in 1 tablespoon of fine sugar or honey and 1-2 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh mint. Voila!

Way 2: Elevated Citrus Salad

This salad entails an orange vinaigrette, and so let’s make that first. In a small bowl, or jam jar (where you can simple shake the ingredients together), mix 1 teaspoon zest and the juice of 1 orange, 1 minced small shallot (optional), 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar (or white wine vinegar),1 teaspoon of honey, a good pinch of sea salt and twist of black pepper, and 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Set aside. Taste for seasoning.

Following the instructions for peeling and segmenting in the instruction, and do so with 2 oranges and 2 grapefruit; simply drink the squeezed juice from the reserved membranes. Slice 1 avocado (ripe, but firm) into the bowl with the citrus segments and add 1-2 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh mint. At this point you can include other additions, such as: green grapes, sliced fennel (plus fronds), beet and/or carrot (matchsticks), if you like. And you can also serve this salad on crunchy lettuce greens or arugula; in any case, drizzle the orange vinaigrette over it all. One unexpected, but fitting, addition to this salad is smoked salmon; that addition would certainly make for a more interesting and substantial salad.  

 

5 Questions: Jeannie Farrell

Web0051.jpg

Do you know Jeannie, everyone knows Jeannie. In my neighborhood that is. A woman tuned in, she is the one who orchestrates the neighborhood meetings and potlucks; she is that soul. Earnest gardener and true home cook, Jeannie discusses how the kitchen is a venue for experimentation and learning; all the while with two small daughters and a rambunctious puppy at her busy heels.  

What does eating well look like for you?

When I am eating well, I am baking and making good food for my family.  A sweet potato, maple sausage and parmesan egg bake or blueberry muffins for breakfast.  Trying a new vegetarian recipe or going with the old standby of meat and potatoes for dinner.  Eating well for us is eating organic as much as possible and buying meat that is ethically raised – either from our local co-op or directly from the farmer at the downtown St. Paul farmers market.  

What is a favorite and reliable everyday dish for you and your family?

We love tacos! Recently I discovered a vegetarian taco meat made with baked quinoa – it is so delicious!  A homemade lentil soup with homemade bread always hits the spot for everyone on a cold winter day.

Can you share a defining food memory?

I was born in Melrose Park, Illinois, which at the time had a large Italian population. Most of my mother’s family (her parents were from Sicily) lived there or in the suburbs surrounding. Every summer we would drive to Melrose Park and go to Aunt Millie’s house for the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church. There would be a procession honoring the Madonna in front of Aunt Mil’s house.  Inside her house I remember eating the best pizza! I recall it being cooked on a cookie sheet, so it was square and a bit salty (I am guessing anchovies) and did not have very much sauce, if any, on it. Oh, how good it was! After the parade we would walk to the carnival and eat Italian ice out of paper cups – as a little girl I looked forward to that Italian ice all day!  I also loved going to visit my grandma’s side of the family on Christmas Eve and eating cucidati (Italian fig cookies) and pizzelles.  My mom passed away when I was nine, but those fig and almond flavors always make my heart feel warm and connected to her and her family.

What topics around food are you most interested in, and why?

I was never allowed to help in the kitchen as a kid, so I never learned how to cook. I met my partner, a chef, when I was 24 years old. At the time, my specialty was making a poached egg – and that was about it.  Sean started helping me learn to cook and I am still amazed when I find things that I can do on my own or find a new way or process for making something in the kitchen.  Years ago, I was thrilled when I found out I could make my own yogurt.  Last year I took up kombucha and kvass making. I also love learning about how food can be used in the healing process. During flu season I make Elderberry syrup for my family and homemade fire tonic for Sean and I. it feels so good to take care of myself and my family in this simple way.

I have to ask. What would you hope for as a last meal on this earth?

Such a tough question! I am sure my answer would ebb and flow depending on the day, week, year. Currently, if I had to choose it would be good bread with olive oil and salt, cut up grapefruit, cashews, hard salami, a nice white cheddar, fig jam and crackers and chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and raspberries on top served on a lovely table with candles and fresh greenery or flowers.

Snack Time: Warm Nuts w/ Garam Masala

20180131_150842.jpg

A bag of naked almonds were poised in our cupboard, and so I turned on a low oven, rubbed them with a bit of olive oil, and roasted them for not very long before the house became aromatic--

While they transformed in the oven, I took down a book by Madhur Jaffrey, esteemed Indian food writer, and did a bit of reading up on garam masala, that sweet and savory Ayurvedic spice blend.

Of course I would sprinkle the almonds with it, perfect match. Wonderful way to warm and nourish, and a surprise snack for my daughter once off the bus. Jaffrey told me to make my own blend, and offered her own recipe. That’s what I did, grinding slowly and trans-like seeds and spices...

Warm Nuts with Garam Masala

Makes 2 cups

These are quite comforting, warm and spiced, and make a great snack. Garam masala is itself an aromatic Indian spice mixture made up of cardamom, clove, black pepper, cumin, nutmeg, and cinnamon; you may easily find it in the spice section of your market. Although my daughter isn’t a big nut fan, she always gravitates toward these when I make them. Put out a bowl of these for company, or for something to munch on after school or before supper.

MARKET LIST

 2 cups raw (unsalted and unroasted) nuts, such as whole almonds, pecans, walnuts, and/or cashews
Oil or butter
Garam masala
Sugar
Kosher or sea salt

Warm Oven

Preheat your oven to 300°F. Toss 2 cups raw (unsalted and unroasted) nuts, such as whole almonds, pecans, walnuts, and/or cashews with 1 teaspoon oil or melted butter. Once the oven is hot, pour the nuts onto a large sheet pan, in a single layer, and roast for about 20 minutes.

Smelling Good

Remove the nuts from the oven and toss immediately with 1 tablespoon of garam masala, 1 teaspoon sugar, and 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt.

CHEF NOTE: While reading up on garam masala I noticed Madhur Jaffrey—esteemed Indian chef—suggests that it’s easy and ideal to make your own mix at home. This is her recipe, all to be ground in a spice or coffee grinder or mortar and pestle: 1 tablespoon cardamom seeds, 1 teaspoon whole cloves, 1 teaspoon black peppercorns, 1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds, 1/3 of a nutmeg, and 1 3-inch cinnamon stick (broken up). Looks like it’s time to hit the spice shop.

NOTES & VARIATIONS

  • Beyond garam masala, consider other cupboard spices that would enliven roasted nuts thinking of ground chile, curry powder, or just simply sea salt and black pepper.

Seeds

IMG_20180125_211226_001.jpg

Planting seeds. Time for planting seeds of planting a garden. Deep winter here, and currently shrouded by snow, it’s laughable to conjure a garden. But now the seed catalogs rush in, seducing and igniting.

I keep relatively epic gardens here. So much food, hundreds of perennials. These packets are last year’s, having been tucked into the fridge; they’ll be fine for the upcoming season. Some of my eternal favorites: bush beans, French thyme, baby lettuce mix, nasturtium.

Grow a few things. That’s all. I haven’t full sun anywhere on the property, and we can still eat endlessly during the summer. Be humbled, the garden is that venue.

Five Questions: Iglika Petrova

Iglika_WithVegetables.jpg

Photo by Eliesa Johnson

Meet Iglika, the gentle soul behind Sprig of Thyme, a beautiful blog that reflects her love of food and her talents as a designer and photographer. I admire her light touch, her vegetable-focus, and want to hear more from her on her Bulgarian upbringing and her reflections on the food of place. 

What does eating well look like for you?

I grew up eating homemade food prepared with fresh, seasonal produce. So, pretty much anything that is fresh, seasonal and grown with love is eating well for me. Simple things like a thick crusted sourdough toast topped with heirloom tomato and drizzled with olive oil.

What is a favorite and reliable everyday dish for you and your family?

I go through obsession periods. Taco obsession. Avocado obsession. Handmade pasta obsession. Right now I am on a pan-roasted cabbage and cherry tomatoes tossed with dill and yogurt obsession. 

Can you share a defining food memory?

My family owned a small house in the mountains where we spent the summers. The house was passed down generations together with two vegetable gardens and every tree on the property was a fruit or a nut tree. Eating sweet carrots that I just pulled from the ground and cleaned in my shirt is my favorite food memory.

What topics around food are you most interested in, and why?

Local and sustainably grown or produced foods are a passion of mine. I have felt the effects on my body and health from eating both fresh sustainable foods and eating industry crafted food products. The difference was so drastic in a short period of time, so I am sticking and advocating for fresh and when possible local foods. 

I have to ask. What would you hope for as a last meal on this earth?

Tomato, cucumber salad with parsley and olive oil and a huge plate of grilled octopus.

Art of the Recipe

IMG_20180112_065555_409.jpg

As a chef, even as a modern cook, I often feel pushed to innovate, reinterpret and adapt. And that spirit is important, no doubt, but how often do we just stay true to someone's recipe? 

I am a recipe-shaper myself, and it is work. I mean some of the most delightful work. But there is reason I ask you to use bone-in, combine these unlikely flavors here, suggest you salt there not here. A strange art.

All this to say I have great respect for the Recipe. More and more I keep true to recipes of cooks I admire; it's intimate, and I get to be in their head and heart a bit. So it goes with this pillowy focaccia recipe by Heidi Swanson. I love her work!

Cut Above

picture.jpg

With the exception of your hands a good knife is the most important tool you can have in the kitchen. Honest. How is your knife? If it doesn't cut the mustard, so to speak, then consider an immediate replacement. If you love your knife not, you just won't get very far in the kitchen.

I use, for almost everything, that one in the middle, a sturdy 8-inch chef's knife (mine happens to be Wusthof). I've had it for as long as I can remember. We've shared some intense moments together. In Ireland, many years ago, upon heading to culinary school there, my elbow was lifted into a back room at the airport when I refused to check my knives in with the other luggage. Like checking in a pet, I simply couldn't understand why I wasn't allowed to keep them by my side. (In hindsight, I see how I was a little crazy.)

Oh, and that's the same knife I sliced well into my thumb knuckle while working as a sous chef in a Japanese kitchen. It's not what you think, I was simply washing the knife in a sink of soapy bubbles, when it neatly slipped out and carved smoothly into bone. To the ER I went.

Anyhow, the cleaver, on the left, came from Gus Janeway. A long ago friend who welcomed my husband and I when we moved to southern Oregon in 2002. We'd literally shoved all of all of our belongings into our Hyundai sedan and drove off from St Paul, MN to Ashland, OR without a job or place to live awaiting us; our dreams and naivete in tact. Gus, and his wife Julia, put us up for a few nights, made us the most delicious Americanos, and gave us this precious tool to begin our kitchen adventures with. I use it when I'm feeling tough, or when I'm working with something tough, like a heavy, seemingly impenetrable winter squash.

The white knife is our young daughter's. Quite a harmless, sturdy little thing, and I don't have to nervously bend over her while she cuts something. Highly recommended; it's advertised for children aged 4+. Let's keep giving our children more tools, more opportunities to work with us in the kitchen. 

Now, consider your own knives. Are they the tools you need them to be? If not, head to a cooking shop in your area and ask their advice; it's a uniquely important investment. And keep them sharpened, using a honing steel, and/or get your knives professionally sharpened 1-2 times per year. 

Five Questions: Roseanne Pereira

tryingpie (1).jpg

I met Roseanne years ago, when she, a stranger then, called me from California, inquiring about a place called The Ballymaloe, the culinary school I went to in Ireland. So few Americans attend the quirky program, and she wanted the scuttlebutt. Roseanne is a person full of wonder, an explorer, always a student—qualities I find deeply respectful. She is also a writer, which those qualities reflect, and as you can see in her photo, a true food lover.

What does eating well look like for you?

Eating food that leaves me feeling good/ gives me energy throughout day. Having gratitude for what is on my plate and how it got there, even if just for a moment.

What is a favorite and reliable everyday dish for you and your family?

Hmmm, sometimes I smash up cherry tomatoes and olives for a quick side salad. Recently, I’ve gotten into Hollyhock dressing and keep a jar in the fridge so I can add it to any kind of salad, cooked greens, or even just a bowl of garbanzo beans. I try and always have some sort of staple around, like Le Puy lentils, that are fine on their own, or that I can throw into other dishes.

Can you share a defining food memory?

Sure! I grew up in South Florida and had a coconut tree in my backyard. My dad would break open young coconuts from the tree and as a kid, I would be ready with a glass for the fresh coconut water. Then, I would run into the house to give my mom a taste for the final assessment of the coconut’s quality.

What topics around food are you most interested in, and why?

I am very much a people-person, so I love to hear about what certain foods mean for people. I’m also interested in the histories of cuisines and ingredients. I’ve attended lectures by culinary historians that convinced me that there are clues about our histories in our recipes.

I have to ask. What would you hope for as a last meal on this earth?

If I did not know it was my last meal- tabbouleh with lots of lemon and parsley.

If I did know - my mother’s chicken curry and rice, and my auntie’s lime pickle, followed by a hot cup of black tea. I drink tea each morning, so this ending would be like a beginning.