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Farmer’s Market Chopped Salad with Farro

2 bowls with cheeseI have made this salad 5 times in the past month. Each time I’ve made it, it’s been slightly different. That’s the beauty of this salad. Although I am providing you with a recipe, think of it more as a guideline and go whatever vegetables look freshest at the market that day. Late September is a perfect time to make this salad. So much fresh local produce is still available.

Chop everything up very small. That way when you take a spoonful you’ll get a bite of everything. This is my favourite way to eat a salad. I kept most of the vegetables raw. The only thing I cooked was the yellow and green beans as I really dislike their taste and texture raw.

Use both the florets and the stems of broccoli. Chopped small, they are perfect for this salad.

 

Sugar snap peas add sweetness to the salad. Slice them thinly on the diagonal.sugar snaps sliced on the diagonalBrussels sprouts add a pleasant bitterness. Cut them in half and then thinly julienne them.shredding sproutsRadishes add crunch and a spicy bite.rasishesYellow and green beans get cut into bite sized pieces after briefly cooking.slicing beansThe last of summer’s corn adds sunny sweetness. Green onions add a sharp note.

To add some bulk to the salad, choose your grain of choice. I love the chewy texture of farro. It provides perfect textural contrast to all the crunch from the vegetables. Add some protein to make the salad a meal. Chicken or chickpeas or some cheese are all good options. I used ricotta salata. You’re in charge here. Make it your own.

The dressing comes together in the blender in seconds. Use about a half a cup of tender mixed herbs. I used a combo of mint, parsley, basil and dill. Dijon mustard, white wine vinegar, a few tablespoons of pistachios and olive oil are added and given a blitz. one bowl with extra dressingMore pistachios for extra crunch are added after the salad is tossed.one bowl

Click here to print recipe for Farmer’s Market Chopped Salad with Farro.

3 bowls

 

A Sweet New Year with Honey Sticks

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, begins next Sunday night. We have 20 coming for lunch next Monday and I have been busy planning my menu. I wanted to do something creative and pretty for the table setting, somehow incorporating honey which we dip apples in to signify our wish for a sweet new year.

There is no shortage of inspiration on Pinterest. I loved these honey dipper place cards and thought these place cards, tied to the cutlery were just adorable. In theory, I really like the idea of place cards. They are a great way to dress up a table. In practice however, in my family at least, no one really sits where they are told. On my husband’s side of the family, they just ignore the place cards and sit where they want. On my side, we at least attempt to be polite about it. Someone, quietly goes into the dining room, before the meal and rearranges the place cards to suit their preferences. (Not mentioning any names here!). So no place cards at my house.

My problem with those spiral wooden honey dippers is the drippy mess they make all over the table. When I did an online search of honey dippers, I discovered these honey sticks. They are the perfect size and I am hoping they will be quite tidy. I ordered 2 varieties, wildflower and blackberry. honey-sticksI created these stickers using the Avery online label design program.  It’s very user friendly and has many design options. I used these 2 inch round glossy labels  and stuck them on some scalloped round cardboard gift tags I found at Michaels craft store. I tied everything up with a bright red ribbon.

I’ll put one at each place setting. Everyone can sit where they want! Wishing you all a sweet and healthy new year.table-setting

 

 

 

Crunchy Chocolate Chip Cookies

xoxoxo 2I love surprises. Well, I should clarify. I like good surprises, like finding out the sex of my babies, at the moment of their birth. Three of the greatest surprises of my life! It makes me sad that people have reveal parties and choose to forgo that moment of awe. A little too much over-sharing for my liking. Ok, social media rant over. Onto more important things.

Happy Valentines Day! We don’t make a big deal out of Valentines Day in our house, but I’d never say no to a little sweet treat. While many people believe the day should be marked with chocolate, I’m much more of a coconut –caramel kind of girl. But sometimes a little bit of chocolate is necessary.cookies on little heart towel 625 sqThese cookies contain a little surprise. Along with the usual chunks of bittersweet chocolate, I mixed a big handful of  Valrhona chocolate pearls into the dough. Little nuggets of crispy rice cereal enrobed in milk chocolate are totally unexpected but very welcome in a chocolate chip cookie. I ordered mine online. Callebaut also makes chocolate pearls. Their salted caramel crispearls  are kind of astonishing (crunchy biscuit bits coated in salted caramel). If you can’t find them, chopped up maltasers or whoppers would make an excellent substitute. My friend Marla would love them!Chocolate pearlsCan we talk about butter for a minute? Specifically, what does “room temperature” butter mean? How long a rest on the counter are we talking about here? When I’m baking, I’ll take the butter from the fridge first, slice it into 1/4 inch pieces. By the time I’ve gathered all the other ingredients, the butter will be perfect for creaming. Ten minutes is really all it takes. You want it to still be cool, but pliable. The whole point of creaming the butter with the sugar is to beat air into the dough. If your butter gets too warm, it won’t hold that air and you will end up with flat cookies.ButterAn ice cream scoop makes for even sized cookies.scooping cookiesA light sprinkling of sea salt on top of each cookie before baking, because that’s how we roll around here. This is salt and serenity after all!sprinkling saltstacked on red cake plate 2

Click here to print recipe for Crunchy Chocolate Chunk Cookies.

cookies on big heart towel 2

Ultimate Potato Latkes

platter of latkesI realize that Chanukah ended last week and I’m a little late to the party, but you may forgive me when you find out that I am sharing the ultimate latke recipe with you. So, if you only make latkes once a year, do yourself a favour and bookmark these for next December. You will thank me!

The first time I posted about potato latkes on this blog Taylor Swift was dating  Jake Gyllenhaal. The second time, a month later, Taylor and Jake were still being spotted canoodling in public.  The third time I posted about latkes, Taylor was keeping company with Harry Styles. My final latke posting was last November and Taylor was trying to make Harry Styles jealous by stepping out with Douglas Booth.

From the above paragraph you might conclude that: a) For a woman over the age of 50, I have an inappropriate fascination with Taylor Swift. (Sadly true!), and, b) I also have an unhealthy love of potato latkes (also, sadly true).

I used to believe that I had the very best latke recipe. And then I tried the Cook’s Illustrated version and discovered that I was wrong! These latkes were light, not at all heavy or greasy. The outer crust was crunchy to the point of almost shatteringly crisp and insides were creamy, tender and pillowy soft. These are everything that all self respecting latkes aspire to be.

Leave it to Cook’s Illustrated to crack the code and perfect the latke.  A typical tuber contains 80% water by weight! The secret, it seems, is to rid the potato of as much of it’s water content as possible. This means a little extra work to squeeze out all the moisture that potatoes exude, but trust me, the effort is worth it.

Russet potatoes are the best variety to use. Grating them by hand on a box grater will give you the best texture. Just scrub the potatoes. No need to even peel the potatoes, just scrub well.gratingThe grated potatoes are mixed with a small grated onion and some salt. The mixture is transferred to a tea towel and all the moisture is wrung out. Let the drained liquid sit for 5 minutes and all the potato starch will sink to the bottom of the bowl. Drain off the liquid and save the starch. This starch is what will hold your latkes together. No need to add any additional flour or matzoh meal.sqeezing out liquidThe potato mixture gets heated in the microwave for 2 minutes. This allows the potatoes to release even more moisture and assists in making the latkes crispier and prevents them from becoming greasy by absorbing too much oil. microwavefrying

Click here to print recipe for Ultimate Potato Latkes.

stack of latkes