Week nine, no new recipe. Week ten, a frenzy to try and make up for it. I got over the guilt by trying three new recipes instead of two. Not exactly the madness of February’s tapas night, just a casual evening with a couple of friends and some bread and wine, with a new dip and a salad thrown in for something different. The next day a visit from a friend and her new baby girl. Baby Grace was perfect, so were the muffins, and maybe next time she comes over she’ll be old enough to try some solid food.
Bean and Rosemary Dip
2 x 310 g (10 oz) cans butter beans or cannellini beans
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Rinse and drain beans and set aside. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan and cook the garlic and rosemary for 1 minute, or until the garlic is softened. Add the beans and stock and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 3-4 minutes. Allow to cool. Blend or process the mixture in batches until smooth. Add the lemon juice and season, to taste. Serve with bread or grissini. This dip can be kept in the refrigerator in a covered container for several days.
Another nice one from The Essential Mediterranean Cookbook (Bay Books, 2005). Really simple flavours and really fresh. I decided on this recipe at the last minute as I had some fresh rosemary in the fridge leftover from a roast chicken dinner and I didn’t want it to go off. I tried to find cannellini beans (I can barely say that word, it’s hilarious), no luck. If anyone knows where to find them in St. John’s, let me know. Used a can of navy beans instead. Or maybe they were white kidney beans. Maybe a white kidney bean is a butter/cannellini bean is a navy bean. Yikes. I am at a loss. Maybe someone can leave me one of those angry/embarrassing internet comments and I’ll feel bad about my lack of bean knowledge. Anyway, I used some kind of white bean from a can (pretty sure it said navy), the dip was good, I’d make it again. All you need to know. And very healthy/low fat for those of you concerned about stuff like that (I go back and forth, depending on my mood).
Jamie Oliver’s Waldorf Salad
4 large handfuls of interesting green salad leaves (such as frisee, romaine, Belgian endive, arugula, and watercress), washed and spun dry
2 large handfuls of seedless green or red grapes, halved
3 medium celery stalks, trimmed
2 large handfuls of walnuts (approx. 4 oz) roughly crumbled
a small bunch of fresh Italian parsley
1 red apple
6 oz blue cheese, such as dolcelatte
For the dressing:1 heaped teaspoon Dijon mustard, 2 tablespoons white wine or red wine vinegar, good-quality extra virgin olive oil, 1 heaped tablespoon natural yogurt, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
In a large bowl, toss together your salad leaves and grapes. Using a speed peeler, carefully remove the stringy bits from the outside of the celery. I like to do it this way as it’s a bit more delicate and you don’t lose too much celery. Finely slice it at an angle, then toss the pieces in with your leaves and grapes.
Get a dry frying pan over medium heat and toast you walnuts. Give them a shake every 25 seconds or so-you want to heat them through but you don’t want them to colour too much.
Discard the tougher ends of the parsley stalks and finely chop the rest of the stalks. Put to one side, then chop the leaves and add these to the bowl of salad leaes. Put your chopped parsley stalks into a clean screw-top jar with your mustard and vinegar, then pour in 3 times as much extra virgin olive oil. You want the dressing to be fresh and creamy, so add the yogurt and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Whack the lid on and give it a really good shake. Dip your finger in for a quick taste and balance the flavour with a little more vinegar, oil, or yogurt.
Drizzle over enough dressing to just cover your leaves. Finely slice your apple into lovely matchsticks and scatter these over the top. Tip over the toasted walnuts, and use your hands to dress and toss everything together. Transfer your salad to a large platter, piling all the grapes and walnuts on top of the leaves.
Use a knife to break off little pats of blue cheese and scatter these over the salad. Drizzle over a little extra virgin olive oil and you’re done.
I love Jamie Oliver. Sometimes I’m sad he doesn’t live next door (no offence Catherine and Shannon). This is from his new book Jamie’s America (the Penguin group, 2010), a fantastic Christmas gift from my friend Susan. A gorgeous cookbook, highly recommend it. That’s two Jamie Oliver cookbooks I own now (both thanks to Susan come to think of it) and I use them religiously. I was in a bit of a hurry when I made this so as lovely as Jamie’s instructions are, I tossed everything together in a bowl and served it. And toasted pecans instead of walnuts because Sobey’s was all out (no bacon at Christmas I can excuse, but this is getting a bit silly). I refrained from mixing the salad with my hands, as I didn’t want my guests to see me lick the blue cheese off my fingers. The salad was amazing. I made it two more times before the week was up. Don’t be afraid of using yogurt instead of the mayonnaise you’d add in a traditional Waldorf salad. The tang is perfect and just heap on some more blue cheese if you’re worried about being too healthy.
We closed off the night with chocolate chip cookies. This is the recipe that will end your search for the perfect chewy cookie. I discovered it a few years back and I’ve been experimenting with it ever since. Anna Olsen suggests using chunks of bittersweet chocolate and I find once you go good quality chocolate, it’s hard to go back. I like to use a good dark chocolate, mint, orange, chilli, some kind of high quality chocolate bar that I chop into chunks. Good quality wasn’t necessarily on the menu tonight. But mini-eggs were.
The next day. Donut muffins with Leigh Ann and baby Grace. My mom made a version of these when I was a kid, and I guess I hadn’t really thought about them, even though they’re fantastic and a slightly less evil way to satisfy a donut craving (yes, muffins brushed with butter and rolled in cinnamon and sugar is less evil, don’t believe anything else they tell you). Thankfully, foodgawker.com rekindled the memory and I used this recipe from the Mac and Cheese Review blog. I added a little cinnamon with the sugar, brushed the tops of the muffins with melted butter (salted butter…I like the contrast with the sweet) and then rolled the tops in the cinnamon sugar mixture. I can’t lie. I’ve made these a couple of times since week ten, and while I tried to refrain from brushing and dipping the whole muffin instead of just the tops, I failed miserably.