What salad do you think I’m going to post tomorrow – it’s a surprise!!
This salad has different tastes and textures: the creamy softness of the salmon mousse, the crispness of the shrimp, the slight tanginess of the avocado and salad greens glazed with the vinaigrette dressing. What are you waiting for – dive in!
5 Salads in 5 Days: Salmon Mousse with Avocado and Shrimp
220 g fresh uncooked salmon pieces
1/2 cup hot chicken stock
1 tbsp. gelatine powder
3 shallots, chopped
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tsp lemon juice
salt/pepper to taste
1/2 cup cream
For the vinaigrette dressing:
3 tbsp. white wine vinegar
9 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 Avocados, peeled and sliced thinly
Mixed lettuce greens to serve 4
24 shrimp pieces, tails left on
salt/pepper to taste
Pre-heat oven to 180 C. (360 F.)
Drizzle the salmon pieces with a little lemon, wrap in foil and bake in the oven for about 15 minutes until the flesh turns light pink. Remove and let cool.
Dissolve the gelatine powder in the hot chicken stock. Add this mixture to a blender, along with the salmon pieces, shallots, mayonnaise, lemon juice and salt/pepper. Blend for 1 minute, add the cream and blend for another 30 seconds.
Pour the mixture into 4 lightly- oiled ramekins or small dishes. Place in the fridge until set (1 – 2 hours approximate).
In the meantime, prepare the vinaigrette dressing: combine the oil, vinegar, Dijon mustard and salt/pepper.
Peel the avocados and slice into thin pieces. Coat with some of the vinaigrette dressing.
Toss the remaining dressing into a bowl with the mixed salad greens.
When ready to serve, place a small amount of the salad greens onto an individual salad plate. Turn out each mousse onto the bed of lettuce. Arrange the avocado slices in a circle pattern on top of the mousse, place several shrimp pieces inside the circle and arrange a few more shrimp around the edge of the plate. Sprinkle the whole salad with a little freshly ground pepper.
Figs leaves were used to cover up the (ahem) private parts of Adam and Eve, but I believe I’ve got a better use for them – add them to asalad with roasted sweet potato wedgesand dressed with a balsamic glaze. (I’m talking about using the fruit of the fig, of course, not the fig leaf).
Looking back on my childhood, I associated figs with Fig Newton cookies and I must admit I was more fond of laying into a Hostess Twinkie than into a Fig Newton. But figs are my hero in this salad: their plump ripeness goes well with the slight tartness of the balsamic reduction and the roasted sweet potato wedges.
And, oh, I believe that Cleopatra was also fond of figs ….
5 Salads in 5 Days: Roasted Sweet Potato and Fig Salad with Balsamic Glaze
Roasted sweet potatoes resting on a bed of greens with plump ripe figs, and dressed with a balsamic glaze
1 sweet potato (~ 400 kg)
3 tbsp olive oil (to coat sweet potato)
3 spring onions
1 red chili, sliced thinly
3 ripe figs, quartered
150 g soft goat’s cheese (optional)
4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp fine sugar
Preheat oven to 190 C (375 F).
Cut the sweet potato into wedges about ½ inch wide. Coat with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place wedges skin-side down on baking tray and roast for about 20 minutes, or until soft but still firm. Remove from oven and let cool.
Halve the spring onions lengthwise then cut into 1.5 inch segments. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in small saucepan, add the spring onion and chili slices and cook for several minutes until vegetables are soft.
To prepare the balsamic glaze, heat the balsamic vinegar and sugar together in a saucepan. Bring to boil, reduce heat and let simmer for several minutes until the liquid thickens (but should be runnier than honey).
To finish, place the salad greens on a platter and arrange the sweet potato pieces on top. Next, spoon the spring onion and chili pieces over the sweet potatoes. Arrange the fig pieces among the potato wedges and drizzle with the balsamic glaze. Sprinkle the crumbled goat’s cheese around the platter before serving.
Well, this is Day 2 of my ‘5 Salads in 5 Days’ marathon. Yesterday, I posted Warm Goat’s Cheese Salad with Pears and Walnuts, a French dish influenced by the cheeses served in the Loire Valley. My kitchen has been all but turned upside down, trying to prepare and photograph five different salads within five consecutive days.
Today’s salad is a Mediterranean Mixed Bean Salad, a colourful salad great to serve at Barbeques or at family gatherings. This recipe is adapted from the cookbook Jerusalem, written by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. The authors point out that it is impossible to define one style of ‘Jerusalem food’ since the region consists of a huge tapestry of cultures: Jews, Arabs, Christians, Greek and Russian Orthodox, etc.
However, one thing that is common in Jerusalem is the frequent use of olive oil, lemon juice and olives in cooking, as well as pastries stuffed with all sorts of cheeses. But a real eye opener for me was the comment that “food seems to be the only unifying force in this highly fractured place.” It is the one thing that brings people together, not only in Jerusalem but the whole world as well.
With this thought in mind, let us turn to the Mediterranean influenced Mixed Bean Salad. This recipe goes beyond the usual bean salad with its rich blend of herbs and spices, such as cumin and coriander seeds, as well as fresh tarragon.
This salad has many colours – many textures – just like Jerusalem!
5 Salads in 5 Days: Mediterranean Mixed Bean Salad
A refreshing mixed bean salad with a Mediterranean influence
280 g (10 oz) green beans, trimmed
280 g (10 oz) yellow beans, trimmed
1 large red pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp coriander seeds
4 – 6 tbsp. capers (optional)
2 spring onions, thinly sliced
10 g (1/3 cup) chopped tarragon
20 g (2/3 cup) flat leaf parsley (or mixture of parsley and corander)
Grated zest of 1 lemon
Salt and ground pepper to taste
[b]For the lemon vinaigrette dressing[/b]
80ml (1/3 cup) olive oil
2 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon caster sugar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
Pre-heat oven to 180 C (360 F).
Fill large saucepan with salted water and bring to a boil; add the green and yellow beans, reduce heat and cook for 4 – 5 minutes until beans are cooked but still a bit crunchy. Refresh the beans by soaking briefly in ice-cold water, drain and pat dry and place in large mixing bowl.
Slice the red pepper into quarters and rub well with olive oil. Place the peppers in oven with skin-side facing up. Bake for several minutes until the peppers become tender, remove from oven and slice into thin strips. Add peppers to bowl with the cooked beans.
Prepare the lemon dressing: whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, mustard and salt/pepper. Add the dressing to the beans and red peppers and toss.
Heat 2 tbsp oil in a saucepan or skillet, add the minced garlic, cumin coriander seeds and capers. Cook for several minutes then add to the mixing bowl containing the beans and red pepper,
Slice the spring onion into pieces about 1 inch long, then slice again lengthwise. Add to the bean mixture, along with the tarragon, parsley, lemon zest and salt/pepper.
I’ve been on a ‘salad kick’ recently and thought I’d post a salad marathon called ‘5 Salads in 5 Days’ – consecutive days, that is. Don’t know exactly why I’ve got this sudden burst of energy: maybe it’s to lift myself out of my comfortable, over-sized chair.
As I’m busy making all of these salads, the phrase “salad days” keeps on entering my mind – a phrase meaning the green, inexperienced days of our youth. What was I doing in my “salad days” ? A few faded images enter my mind – perhaps some tear gas and student demonstrations in the 1960’s held on California university campuses or watching the trial of Charles Manson and his followers being played out on the nightly news. And you, dear reader, what were you doing in your “salad days”?
The dish ‘Warm Goat’s Cheese Salad’ is frequently found on menus in French restaurants and features the absolutely delicious St. Maure cheese. This goat’s milk cheese comes from the Loire Valley in France and is named after the town of Sainte-Maure-de-Touraine. It comes in the shape of a small log and is soft and white, under a greyish rind. If you can’t find St. Maure cheese, then you can use some other soft, goat’s milk cheese.
St. Maure goat’s milk cheese, made in the Loire Valley, France
To make this Warm Goat’s Milk Salad, you first place a slice of the cheese on a small piece of baguette that has been covered with olive oil and some dried oregano. The whole thing is then wrapped in a piece of pancetta or Serrano ham and then placed in the oven for a few minutes until the cheese melts.
Place the baguette’s around a mound of salad that has been dressed in a yummy vinaigrette, add a few thin slices of ripe pear, sprinkle with a few chopped walnuts and Voilà, you have your Warm Goat’s Cheese Salad.
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post, where I’ll reveal my second salad of the series!
Warm Goat’s Cheese Salad with Pears and Walnuts
Recipe Type: Appetiser
Author: Adapted from Le Cordon Bleu School Recipe
Serves: 2 – 3
A salad surrounded by slices of delicious warm goat’s cheese, wrapped in pancetta or Serrano ham, and served with sliced pears and chopped walnuts.
Combine salad greens in a large bowl – enough to serve 2 – 3 people.
Make the vinaigrette- mix olive oil, white wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, honey and salt and pepper. Add the vinaigrette to the greens.
Slice thin pieces of the baguette, brush with olive oil and sprinkle with a little oregano. Place a thin piece of St Maure goat’s cheese on each piece of baguette. Wrap a thin piece of either pancetta or Serrano ham around each baguette and brush with some more olive oil. Toast under the oven broiler for 4 minutes maximum until cheese melts.
Serve salad in middle of plate and arrange 4 -5 baguette pieces around the salad. Sprinkle some chopped walnuts around the salad and top with some pear slices.
Yay, it’s my blog one-year anniversary! I can’t believe it. Thanks so much for following my blog. You all give me energy and inspiration to keep on going – especially when you leave comments!
And now for the Crab Bisque. Yep, this is a soup with Attitude. It’s easy to make, plus you don’t need to be Andy Warhol to make the creamy design on top.
A Bisque is a rich, creamy soup made with shell fish, such as crab or lobster. The shells and meat of the shell fish are first lightly sautéed on the stove top. Aromatic vegetables are then added, along with stock, white wine, Cognac and a pinch of cayenne pepper. The whole mixture is then strained, thickenedand the cream added later.
I learned this recipe at the Paris Le Cordon Bleu school, where we learned the important technique of using the shells of crustaceans to add flavour to sauces and soups, not just the meat. I used to throw the shells away as fast as possible, particularly when working with prawns and crabs. But hang onto them- they’ll add rich flavours to your sauces.
Here is a summary of the steps to make a Crab Bisque, followed by the detailed recipe below.
First, place the crab on a cutting board and crush the body and legs using the flat end of a rolling pin (or you could use another blunt instrument).
Pick out several pieces of the crab meat to use as garnish later. Also, remove any spongy ‘gills’ that are visible, but don’t worry if you don’t remove them all.
Step 2: Dice up the aromatic vegetables- the carrot, onion, leek, celery stalk and garlic.
Step 3: Lightly sauté the crab shells and meat in a Dutch Oven or pot on the stove top. Add the diced aromatic vegetables, followed by the fish (or chicken) stock, white wine, cognac, diced tomatoes and seasonings.
Step 4: Strain the mixture and then thicken with either corn or rice flour. Pour the soup into a serving bowl and place a few pieces of crab meat in the bowl. Make a spiral pattern on top of the soup using thickened cream (I used a plastic squeeze bottle filled with the cream to lay my design on the soup).
Step 5: Now insert a knife in the middle of the spiral and move the knife outward toward the edge of the bowl. You’ll see a design start to form (but not quite Andy Warhol yet) !
Repeat all the way around the spiral and here is your finished Crab Soup:
Crab Bisque plus my Blog one-year anniversary!
A rich, creamy crab soup – with a bit of ‘attitude’
2 medium-sized crabs – about 400 g each
1 celery stalk
2 garlic cloves, diced
2 cups (500 ml) fish or chicken stock
2 cups (500 ml) water
100 ml dry white wine
50 ml cognac
1 tbsp. tomato paste
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 bay leaf
sprig of fresh thyme
salt/pepper to taste
pinch of cayenne pepper
1 – 2 tbsp. corn or rice flour combined with water, to thicken
100 ml thickened cream for the ‘design’
Place the two crabs on a cutting board and crush the body and legs into small pieces, using the blunt end of a rolling pin (or other blunt instrument). Set aside several larger pieces of the crab meat for garnish later. Also, remove some of the ‘spongy’ lung pieces and discard (it’s not necessary to remove all these pieces).
Dice the carrot, onion, celery, leek and garlic into smaller pieces.
Heat several tablespoons of olive oil in a Dutch Oven or large pot. Lightly sauté the chopped crab pieces over medium high heat, then add the diced vegetables and stir for several minutes.
Add the tomato paste and chopped tomatoes to the pan, followed by the stock, water, wine and cognac, bay leaf and thyme. Reduce heat and let simmer for several minutes.
Now add the salt and pepper and pinch of cayenne. Cover the pot with a lid and let simmer on low heat for 20 minutes, until all flavors have been thoroughly infused into the soup.
Strain all ingredients through a mesh strainer. Make a paste by combining 1 – 2 tbsp. of corn or rice flour with a little water. Return the soup to the stove, add the paste to the soup and stir until it thickens. Add more paste to thicken, if required. Adjust seasoning, if required (i.e. more salt, pepper or cayenne).
Pour the soup into individual soup bowls, add a few pieces of crab meat to each bowl.
To make the design on top of each soup serving, make a spiral pattern using the thickened cream. Place a knife in the center of the spiral and move the knife outward towards the edge of the bowl; you will see a ‘design’ start to form. Repeat this knife movement all the way around the spiral until the design is complete.
Valentine’s Day is almost here and I’d like to dedicate this Red Velvet Cake to my husband. We’ve been married for more than 30 years and I’m thankful for his humor, intelligence and his companionship.
Afterall, I went out of my way to track down a heart-shaped cake pan – that must say something about our relationship!
A Red Velvet Cake is basically a chocolate flavored cake with red food coloring: you’ll get a deep reddish-brown cake that will hopefully set fire to your special loved one’s passion on Valentine’s Day. The recipe also typically calls for buttermilk and a splash of vinegar (although no cause for alarm- you won’t notice the vinegar)!
Where did the recipe for Red Velvet Cake come from? Word has it that it was invented during the 1930’s Great Depression by the Adam’s Extract Company in the U.S. In order to counteract slumping sales of their food coloring products, they offered this recipe on free recipe cards handed out at supermarkets. It was a big success and later had a resurgence in popularity caused by the appearance of the cake (shaped like an Armadillo) in the 1989 movie Steel Magnolias.
Cream cheese icing goes well with this cake, although I decided to use a simple Meringue icing, embellished with some sliced strawberries in the center of the cake. You can either bake the cake in one large cake tin and then slice it horizontally in half, as I have done here with my heart-shaped cake. Or you can bake the cake in two separate round 20 cm (8 inch) cake pans.
Meringue icing and sliced strawberries placed on base layer of the cake
In order to photograph my cake, I found some velvet material I had used over 25 years ago to make my little daughter a velveteen dress. How fortunate that I had kept the material after all these years!
Red Velvet Valentine’s Cake
Serves: 8 – 10
225 g butter, softened
1 ½ cups caster sugar
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
2 cups self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ cup cocoa
¾ cup buttermilk
1 tsp white vinegar
¼ cup red food coloring
1 punnet fresh strawberries
4 eggwhites at room temperature
Pinch of salt
1 cup fine caster sugar
Pre-heat oven to 160 C (325 F).
Add butter, sugar and vanilla extract to a bowl and beat with electric mixer until creamy and smooth. Add one egg at a time, beating well after each addition.
Add the buttermilk, vinegar and red food coloring and beat until smooth.
In separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and cocoa. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing after each addition.
Line a heart-shape cake pan (or two 20 cm (8 inch) round cake pans) with non-stick baking paper. Pour the cake batter into the pan and smooth the top with a palette knife.
Bake for 1 hour or until cooked when tested with a toothpick or skewer. Let cool on a wire wrack.
To prepare the Meringue Icing, combine four egg whites with a pinch of salt. Beat on high with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Gradually add the caster sugar, beating on high until the mixture is shiny and smooth.
Slice the cake in half horizontally with a serrated knife and place the base on a serving dish. Spread half of the icing mixture on the base of the cake. Slice the strawberries into halves then into quarters. Arrange the strawberry pieces around the edge of the cake base. Place the other cake half on top of the base and spread with the remaining icing.