Monday, May 30, 2011

Nut Crusted Little Qualicum Brie Cheese Salad

I've made this salad quite often for a number of years and don't even know where the inspiration for it came from. It's simple and tastes so good, the creamy cheese melting against the crunchy nuts with a slight buttery taste offset by the crisp greens. Really, there's little to improve on.

As far as a recipe goes, it's very loose: 

Set out three small bowls. In one place a couple of tablespoons of flour, in another one beaten egg, and in the third, some chopped nuts. These could be almonds (as above), pecans or walnuts. Hazelnuts might be good, too. 

Cut the Brie cheese into wedges, not too thick. The last time I served this I used thicker wedges and I think I prefer the thinner ones - the ratio of crust to cheese is better.

Coat the wedges with flour, then egg, then nuts. I use one hand for the flour, the other for the eggs and nuts. It's a little messy, but the end result is well worth the effort. Place the wedges on a plate and chill them, if you like, up to 4 or 5 hours. They can also be cooked immediately, but it's nice to do this ahead. 

Melt a little butter in a small skillet and when it's hot, almost browning, add the cheese wedges. Quickly sauté them on each side. They should sizzle a little and the cheese will begin to ooze. Place them on a plate of greens that has been drizzled with your choice of salad dressing - raspberry vinaigrette is good. And, if it's berry season, add some raspberries, blueberries, or strawberries to the salad. But really, this salad is all about the cheese.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Strawberry Squares

I try new recipes all the time. Some I make more than once, like this one. Dorothy gave me this recipe about 30 years ago. She's the wife of the physician who delivered our eldest daughter in a small jungle hospital in South America.  I remember first eating this - it was so deliciously cool and frosty - perfect for a hot and humid climate. 

I've made this recipe more times than I can count. I like having it in the freezer during the summer - to me, it's better than ice cream! 

Strawberry Squares

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup walnuts or pecans (optional)

Crumble the above ingredients all together, using your hands or a food processor. Place in a 9 x 13 inch glass pan. I just put all the ingredients in the pan and mix it there. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, stirring once or twice. Let cool completely. Take out about 1/3 of the crumbs to use for a topping, and ensure that the remaining crumbs are scattered evenly over the pan bottom. Set aside while you make the filling.

2 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups partially frozen strawberries (or raspberries)
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 cup whipping cream

In a large mixing bowl, place the egg whites, sugar, strawberries (with any juice) and lemon juice. Beat at high speed for 10 minutes. You will have a bowl full of lovely strawberry meringue. This can splatter so take precautions.

Whip the cream in a separate bowl until stiff. Fold cream into the strawberry mixture. Turn into glass pan, on top of crumbs. Smooth the top, sprinkle on reserved crumbs. Freeze for at least 6 hours. Cut into squares to serve. 

Friday, May 20, 2011

Mexican Chopped Salad

Now that summer is coming - and we ate outside for the first time this year - I'm looking for more salad recipes. This recipe is one of my favorites - lots of vegetables, lots of flavor. And if someone doesn't like tomatoes, they are easy enough to ignore. The dressing is citrusy and just barely sweet - a perfect balance. I've slightly adapted the recipe from one found in Fine Cooking magazine.

Mexican Chopped Salad

1 small clove garlic
kosher salt
3 T fresh lime juice
3 T fresh orange juice
2 tsp finely chopped shallot
1 T honey
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 cup olive oil
freshly ground black pepper

Mince and mash the garlic with 1/4 tsp salt to a paste. Whisk garlic paste with orange and lime juices, shallot, honey and ground cumin. Slowly whisk in the oil. Season to taste with pepper and a bit more salt, if needed. Set aside.

corn (I used frozen and thawed)
black beans (rinsed, if using canned, and drained)
tomatoes, cored and chopped
sweet red pepper, diced (or use roasted red peppers)
avocado, diced

chopped cilantro or parsley

On a platter, arrange mounds of corn (I use frozen and thawed), black beans (rinsed and drained), chopped tomatoes, diced red bell pepper (I sometimes do these roasted), and diced avocado. Drizzle with the dressing and sprinkle with chopped cilantro, or chopped parsley if cilantro isn't in your list of things to enjoy. (like some of my family members)

Mixing a finely chopped jalapeno pepper with the black beans would kick up the flavor a little. But if you serve this with already spicy foods, the salad is a cool contrast.