Farro Salad with Endive, Blueberries, Almonds, and Goat Cheese + 5 Summer Salad Links

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If you are looking for another go-to summer salad, this is it.  Fresh blueberries and sliced endive come together with toasted almonds and hearty farro to make this not just a salad but a perfect summer meal.  The shallot vinaigrette is bright and compliments the earthy farro and sweet blueberries.  Fresh goat cheese and thinly sliced chives top this salad stunner adding a little creaminess and a bit of zing.  America’s Test Kitchen does it again.  If you haven’t ordered a copy of Vegetables Illustrated I encourage you to do so today!

Farro and Endive Salad with Blueberries, Almonds, and Goat Cheese

Recipe adapted from Cooks Illustrated Vegetables Illustrated

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:

1+ 1/2 cups cooked farro

Sea salt and pepper

2 tablespoons champagne vinegar

1 tablespoon minced shallot

1 tablespoon minced fresh chives

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 heads of Belgian endive, about 4 ounces each, cut in half, cored, and thinly sliced cross-wide

1+1/2 cups blueberries

¾ cup toasted slivered almonds

1 cup crumbled goat cheese

Directions:

Cook farro according to package instructions.  Drain, rinse with cold water, drain, and set aside.  Toast almonds in a dry pan over low heat until fragrant and light brown.  Set aside.

In a large bowl whisk together vinegar, shallot, chives, mustard, ½ teaspoon kosher salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper.  Slowly drizzle in the olive oil and continue to whisk.  Add drained farro, endive, blueberries, and almonds.  Toss to combine.  Next, season to taste with sea salt and pepper.  Sprinkle with goat cheese.  Serve and enjoy!  This salad makes excellent leftovers for lunch!

5 Summer Salad Links

Looking for a new Caprese salad to add to your collection?  Check out Brooklyn Supper’s shaved fennel and cherry bing Caprese salad.

Summer screams watermelon.  Why not try it in a salad with a little feta and mint?  Head to One-Pot Recipes blog for this one-pot recipe!

Take advantage of fresh corn season and make Kickass Baker’s avocado corn salad with white balsamic honey reduction.

Fruit salad is a welcome addition to any summer gathering.  Head to Bloglovin’ for a list of 5 fast and fancy fruit salads that are sure to be crowd-pleasers.

Israeli couscous salad with pickled shallots, peas, and feta is a must make every summer.  It’s also one of the most popular recipes on this blog.  Check it out!  I promise it will not disappoint!

ATK’s Oatmeal Raisin Bread + 5 Delicious Bread Links

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It has been a month since my grandmother passed.  I continue to walk around in a fog, seeing and hearing her everywhere I go.  Maybe at some point, I will continue my story of Ann and Tess based on my relationship with her.  Maybe I’ll share her final days with you.  Maybe not.  For now, I’ll continue to bake and cook.  I feel closer to her when I do as she was an excellent cook and baker.

I made bread for the first time.  This recipe hails from America’s Test Kitchen Cook It In Your Dutch Oven cookbook.  This bread is a project.  It’s a commitment but like most things that take time, it is worth it.  Rustic, earthy, slightly sweet, toasts well and especially satisfying with a generous slab of butter are all great descriptions but really you should just make it and find out for yourself.

Oatmeal Raisin Bread

Makes 1 loaf

Recipe from America’s Test Kitchen Cook it in Your Dutch Oven Cookbook

Ingredients:

1 cup (3 ounces) old-fashion rolled oats

¾ cup (6 ounces) water, at room temperature

2 cups (11 ounces) bread flour

½ cup (2 ¾ ounces) whole wheat flour

2 teaspoons instant yeast or rapid-rise yeast

1 ½ teaspoon salt

1 cup (8 ounces) whole milk, at room temperature

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

½ cup raisins

Directions:

Microwave ¾ cup oats and water in a large bowl. Be sure bowl is covered. Stir occasionally until oats are soft and water is completely absorbed, 5 minutes or so. Cool completely and set aside.

Using the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk bread flour, whole-wheat flour, yeast, and salt. Whisk melted butter and milk together in a 2-cup liquid measuring cup. Attach the dough hook and begin mixing on low speed.  Very slowly, add milk/butter mixture to flour mixture. Mix until a dough forms and no dry flour is visible about 2 minutes.  You may need to scrape down the bowl as you mix.

Increase the speed to medium/low kneading the dough until the dough is smooth and clears the sides of the bowl, about 6 minutes. Reduce the speed to low, add raisins.  Next, slowly add oatmeal two tablespoons at a time.  Mix until well combined, about 3 minutes. Lightly grease a large bowl. Transfer dough to bowl and cover tightly with plastic.  Allow rising for 30 minutes.

Using your fingertips gently fold the dough over itself by folding the edge of the dough toward the middle. Turn bowl 45 degrees and fold again.  Turn bowl and fold 6 more times, 8 folds total. Cover tightly with plastic and let rise for 30 minutes.  Repeat the process of folding and rising every 30 minutes, 2 more times. After the 3rd fold and rise process, cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let the dough rise until it doubles in size, about 45 minutes to 1 ¼ hours.

Place a large piece of parchment paper, about 18x12inches, on the counter and spray with vegetable oil spray. Transfer dough to parchment paper. Stretch dough to 10-inch round. Be sure to deflate any gas pockets bigger than 1-inch. Working around the perimeter of the dough, fold the edges towards the center until ball forms. Flip dough so the seam of the dough ball is now on the bottom. Cup your hands and drag tiny circles on the counter until dough is stiff and round.  Mist the dough lightly with water on all sides.  Sprinkle the remaining ¼ cup of oats and press gently so the oats adhere to the dough.

Place loaf, seam side down, on the parchment paper. Cover loosely with greased plastic wrap.  Let dough rise until loaf increases in size to about half and the dough slightly bounces back when gently pushed with your knuckle, anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Thirty minutes prior to baking place your Dutch oven with the lid on in the oven on the lowest rack.  Pre-heat the oven to 500F.

Slash the bread with a sharp paring knife, making two 5-inch long and a ½ inch deep slashes to form a cross in the center of the bread.  Remove any exposed raisins.

Remove Dutch oven from oven and place on wire rack. Remove the lid. Using the parchment as a sling, lower the dough into the Dutch oven.  Tuck in any excess parchment paper and place the lid back on the Dutch oven. Place in oven and reduce the temperature to 425F. Bake for 15 minutes. Uncover and continue to bake until the loaf is a deep golden brown and the temperature of the bread is 200 to 210 degrees, about 20 minutes.

Using the parchment paper sling, remove the bread and transfer to a wire rack. Let cool completely for 3 hours, before cutting and serving. Enjoy!

5 Delicious Bread Links

Alexandra’s Kitchen is my favorite blog.  I have yet to try a recipe that isn’t completely satisfying and delicious.  Check out her recipes for the easiest focaccia bread and the best no-knead brioche buns.  They will not disappoint!

Food 52 claims their milk bread recipe will produce the most addictive bread you will ever eat.  Curious?  Here is the recipe.

Looking for a breakfast bread to serve at your next brunch?  Check out What Should I Eat For Breakfast’s cinnamon raisin walnut bread and The Surban Soapbox everything bagel brioche bread.

 

 

Creamy Leek & Potato Soup + America’s Test Kitchen’s Vegetables Illustrated Cookbook Review

Cook’s Illustrated new cookbook Vegetables Illustrated is a beautifully compiled cookbook of delicious, easy to make, and crowd-pleasing recipes featuring vegetables as the star.  The cookbook reads like a reference guide with vegetables separated into individual chapters accompanied by tips, tricks, and innovative recipes that any meat lover will enjoy.

I chose the creamy leek and potato soup because I was craving something warm and comforting with the taste and colors of spring.  April in New England is a bit like Jekyll and Hyde, sunny and warm one day then raw and raining the next!  This soup did not disappoint in flavor or comfort.  The flavor of the leeks shines through while the thyme compliments its earthy flavor.  The addition of the russet potato and bread make this soup hearty without the addition of cream.  Seasoning to taste with salt and pepper is important as both bring out the flavor of the leeks.  I added a bit of Maldon sea salt flakes which is a must buy for any salt lover.  Just a sprinkle is all you need.  Serve this soup with fresh, crusty bread and you have comfort in a bowl.

Next on my list of must makes from this cookbook is the southwestern radish and apple salad, quickly followed by a carrot cake recipe that makes my mouth water every time I look at the photograph.  With four hundred and eighty-five pages of recipes, I have a lot to explore and just in time with fresh produce from farmer’s markets arriving soon.  You can purchase this cookbook here.  I highly recommend it.  Happy Spring!

I reached out to America’s Test Kitchen who sent me this cookbook for free.  All opinions are my own.

Creamy Leek and Potato Soup

Serves 4 to 6

Recipe from Cook’s Illustrated Vegetables Illustrated

 Ingredients:

2 pounds leeks, white and light green parts halved lengthwise and sliced thin, dark green parts halved and cut into 2-inch pieces, (be sure to wash all of it thoroughly)

2 cups chicken or vegetable broth (I used chicken)

2 cups of water

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 onion, chopped

Kosher salt and pepper

1 small russet potato, peeled, halved lengthwise and cut into ¼ inch slices

1 bay leaf

1 sprig of fresh thyme or tarragon (I used thyme.)

1 slice hearty white sandwich bread, toasted a bit and torn into ¼ inch pieces

Directions:

Add broth, water, and dark green leek pieces to a saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat.  Once boiling, reduce heat to low and cover.  Allow to simmer for 20 minutes.  Using a fine mesh sieve strain broth over an empty bowl while pushing on the solids to release as much liquid and flavor as possible.  Set aside.

Add butter to a now-empty saucepan and melt over medium-low heat.  Add sliced white bread, green leeks, onion, and 1 teaspoon of salt.  Reduce heat to low and cook stirring often until vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes.

Next, increase the heat to high and add broth, potato, bay leaf, and herb sprig.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer until potato is soft and bread breaks down about 10 minutes.

Remove bay leaf and herb sprig.  Process soup in batches in a blender or use a handheld immersion blender to save you time.  Process until smooth.  Bring to a simmer and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Sprinkle with Maldon Sea Salt flakes and thyme leaves.  Serve with crusty bread if desired.  Enjoy!

 

 

Warm Rice Salad with Blood Orange Vinaigrette + 5 Rice Salad Links

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Here it is.  My feel good, good for you January salad straight from Brooklyn Supper.  This beauty contains warm whole grain rice dressed with a light and bright blood orange vinaigrette made more complex with minced shallots and a good squeeze of mild honey. Rainbow Swiss chard is sautéed in a bit olive oil along with a sliced shallot and tossed into the salad; after all greens are a must (for many) in January.  Next come the add-on(s): raw pepitas, dried tart cherries, chives, peeled blood orange rounds and feta.  I could eat this pairing everyday.  And I did, until it disappeared.

Now back to sweets, after all January is almost over.

Warm Rice Salad with Blood Orange Vinaigrette

Serves 4 to 6

very slightly adapted from Brooklyn Supper

Ingredients for vinaigrette:

1 tablespoon blood orange zest

3 tablespoons blood orange juice

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons minced shallot

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

1/2 olive oil

good squeeze of a mild honey

Directions:

Grab a small bowl and whisk together the blood orange zest, juice, shallot, mustard, salt and pepper.  Continue to whisk while slowly adding the olive oil.  Whisk until the dressing is well combined and thick.  Add a squeeze of honey. Whisk. Taste.  Repeat if you want it more sweet.

Ingredients for the rice salad:

1 cup dry black rice or wild rice

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1/4 cup raw pepitas

1/4 dried tart cherries

2 tablespoons EVOO

1 shallot, sliced

1 bunch of rainbow chard, chopped

3 medium blood oranges, peeled and sliced into rounds

2 tablespoons, chopped chives

1/2 cup feta cheese (optional but delicious)

Directions:

Cook rice according to package directions.  Strain excess water and toss cooked rice with 1/4 cup of vinaigrette.  Set aside.

Using a medium skillet, sauté (medium heat) the sliced shallots in the olive oil until they just begin to brown, about 2 minutes.  Add the chopped chard and a bit of sea salt.  Continue to sauté until the chard begins to wilt, about 5 minutes.

Add the shallots and chard to the rice.  Add the cherries, pepitas and more dressing.  Toss.  Taste.  Add salt, if needed.  Place blood orange rounds throughout the salad.  Lastly, top the salad with the feta, chives and a bit of black pepper.  Serve and enjoy!

**Salad will last refrigerated in an airtight container for several days, though it is best the day it is made.  Eat cold, at room temperature or heated up a little in the microwave.**

5 Rice Salad Links You Can’t Miss!

Looking to be or stay healthy this month?  Head to Del Sole’s for Licias’s take on a superfood salad.

If you love pomegranate seeds you need to check out Pinch of Yum’s pomegranate, kale, wild rice salad with walnuts and feta.

If this salad was my last meal on earth, I would die happy.  Head to one of my favorite blogs, Cookie and Kate for the recipe.

When corn and nectarines are once again abundant, I plan on making Not Without Salt’s green rice salad with nectarines and corn.  Summer, summer, summer…

The kitchn’s chopped brown rice salad with grapes and pecans is a salad I plan on making very soon because I am done with grilled cheese crusts and Sunbutter sandwiches…for now. 🙂

Healthy Caramel Apple Dip + A Fall Birthday Cake Recipe You Should Try

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Every fall, when I was kid, my mom took me, my sister and brother to Idylwilde Farm to pick out pumpkins and caramel apples. I loved this outing with her because she seemed to love celebrating fall more than any other season. She didn’t rush us when deciding on pumpkins or which caramel apples would taste better: one with nuts or one without nuts. She wasn’t hurried or pre-occupied  with other things. She was happy exactly where she was at that moment in time, with us. I realize now that I am a mother just how special that time was with her.

It is hard to be present when so many other things demand attention. I have a running list of things to do, most of which never fully get done. At times I am preoccupied with things I need or want to do, instead of enjoying my sweet boy and girl. This past weekend G turned 3. To celebrate his third birthday we went on a haunted hayride and we picked out pumpkins. I felt present during our outing. I enjoyed my time with Bubba and the kids. I pushed my mental check list away and focused on my family. It felt good. Maybe C and G will look back on our fall outings the same way I remember my outings with my mother. “Mom was happy and not rushed and it was nice.”

I found a recipe for a healthy caramel apple dip last year on the blog My New Roots. (This is a great website full of super healthy recipes. Check it out!) As much as I would love to take the kids to a local farm to pick out caramel apples, I can’t because of G’s peanut allergy. I made this recipe for him and he loved it! C is on the fence. Bubba likes anything sweet and so do I! I feel good letting him eat it too because it is not all processed sugar. I will make the kids traditional caramel apples before the month is over. Every kids needs to experience the delicious joy of an apple covered in caramel!

This apple dip is mainly made of Medjool dates and Sunbutter. The recipe is very easy to make but you do need to soak the dates for a least 4 hours before proceeding with the recipe.

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Medjool dates are super sweet and taste great on their own. Be sure to pit the dates before continuing with the recipe! Simply slice the date in half and remove the pit.

010I soaked the dates in water for 4 hours.

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Reserve the soaking liquid!  You will want to add some at the end to thin out the dip.

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Using a food processor, mix dates, Sunbutter, sea salt, lemon juice and vanilla extract until smooth.

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Add the soaking liquid until you get desired consistency. After I shot this picture, I immediately ate this spoonful. Yum!

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This dip is excellent with most apples. I had Fuji apples on hand for this photo. Go apple picking, whip up a batch of this dip and enjoy with friends and family.

Healthy Caramel Apple Dip

recipe slightly adapted from My New Roots

makes about 2 1/2 cups

Ingredients:

2 cups pitted Medjool dates

1/4 cup Sunbutter

4 tsp. fresh lemon juice

1/2 tsp sea salt (may want more)

1 tbsp. vanilla extract

soaking liquid from dates

Directions:

Soak dates in water for 4 hours. Drain the dates, reserving the soaking water. Set aside.

Using a food processor, add dates, 1/4 cup of Sunbutter, lemon juice, sea salt and vanilla extract. Blend until smooth.  Add soaking water, one spoonful at a time, until you reach desired consistency. I kept my dip a little thick so we could scoop it easily with an apple slice. If you think you might use it as a topping for ice cream, which sounds incredible, make it thinner.

Dip can be kept refrigerated for up to one week. Enjoy!

A Fall Birthday Cake to Try

To celebrate G’s birthday I made a roasted apple sheet cake with maple buttercream frosting. He loved it and so did everyone else. This is a dense and super moist cake with bits of roasted apple throughout. It is not a typical birthday cake but certainly one that will be warmly received at any fall birthday or special occasion. You can find the recipe here.  The recipe will make 2 9×13 cakes but I cut it in half and it fed 15 people with several slices left over.The maple buttercream frosting worked well with the roasted apples. It is not overly sweet which the kids liked. I know, crazy, my kids don’t like super sweet frosting. Head here for the recipe.

0064G is obsessed with fire trucks. I found the cake topper on this Etsy site.