Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Everything's Better With Bacon: Pear and Spinach Salad

We're just getting started on a long, hot summer, so here's another salad recipe that keeps the heat out of the kitchen during the hottest part of the day. Make-ahead salads are great when you've had all the energy sucked out of you by just such a hot day. Enjoy with a nice, long glass of iced tea, or some other icy beverage.

Pear and Spinach Salad

for the dressing:
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 cup (4 ounces) very fine olive oil

Whisk together the honey, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar and mustard. In a thin stream, whisk in the olive oil until all of it is incorporated and the dressing emulsified. Season with a little salt and pepper, cover, and refrigerate. 

for the salad:
2 quarts fresh baby spinach
1 pound chilled Bartlett pears, pealed and sliced lengthwise -or- a chilled 16 ounce can of pear halves, sliced, drained
a chilled 8 ounce can of crushed pineapple, drained
12 ounces of smoked bacon, fried crisp, drained, blotted with paper towels, and either chopped or broken into bits.

Arrange the spinach on a large platter. Top evenly with the fruit, then sprinkle all over with the bacon. Drizzle the dressing over all. 

Makes 8 to 10 side salad servings, or 4-5 entree servings.

Thursday, June 20, 2013


Hands down, one of our absolute favorite desserts. It's Australia's national dessert, much like apple pie is our American national dessert. 

Even people who *say* they don't like desserts love this. It's beautiful and looks impressive. It has a deep, dark secret, too: It looks like it took hours to make, but actually it's very easy and takes very little time. 

Angela's Pavlova

6 egg whites
pinch of salt
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 pint (16 ounces) heavy cream

A pint of fresh red raspberries
A pint of fresh blueberries
A pint of fresh blackberries
2 cups fresh sliced and sugared peaches
Note: this is the fruit I use; you may substitute your own fresh favorites.

Beat egg whites intil foamy; add the salt, then add the sugar gradually. Mix in vinegar, then add the vanilla last. Beat until stiff but not dry peaks have formed.

Cover a LARGE rimmed cookie sheet with parchment paper, and lightly butter the parchment paper.  Pile the meringue into an 8" mound in the center, making an indentation in the top. (It should look like a volcano crater with it's top blown off.) The meringue will spread out a lot while baking, so be sure to make the meringue very tall and the indent quite deep. 

Bake for 40 to 43 minutes at 300 degrees, --do not peek!-- then turn off the oven and leave the meringue in it for an additional 40 minutes longer, making sure not to open the oven door. Remove from oven to cool completely. Very carefully remove the pavlova shell to a very large round serving platter.

At serving time:
Whip the heavy cream until stiff, and mound the whipped cream into the center crater of the meringue. Top the whipped cream with the fresh fruit; not all of it will fit onto the top of the pavlova. Slice into generous wedges and add additional fruit to each serving. 


Serves 8 to 10 with generous slices and lots of fruit

Any leftover pavlova can be refrigerated overnight, loosely covered. It must be eaten within 24 hours; the whipped cream is fairly fragile. 

Summer Meals: Tortellini Salad with Grilled Chicken

Sometimes it's just too hot. Salads of all kinds are the mainstay of a lot of my summer meals. Salads that are the meal.

Tortellini Salad with Grilled Chicken
this is a fine salad even without the grilled chicken, so don't hesitate to enjoy it that way

3 packages refrigerated cheese tortellini
1 zucchini, blanched, then plunged into ice water
1 yellow squash, blanched, then plunged into ice water
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
2 red bell peppers, cut into fine strips
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced celery
2 tablespoons minced fresh dill

2-3 cups  washed, dried, and chilled fresh baby spinach

1/3 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1 cup very fine olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

shredded parmesan cheese
pint package of fresh grape tomatos, washed, dried, and chilled

2 or 3 boneless chicken breast halves, washed and patted dry
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Cook the tortellini per package directions for aldente pasta. Drain, then rinse immediately under very cold running water. Drain very well, then place in a very large mixing bowl  (I use a stock pot). Remove the zucchini and yellow squash from the ice water and slice into very thin wheels. Cut the wheels in half, then add to the pasta. Add the red onion, red bell pepper, celery, and dill toss the mixture to blend well.

For the dressing, mix together the white wine vinegar, mayonnaise, and mustard in a deep bowl. Whisk in the olive oil very slowly in a thin stream until it is completely incorporated and emulsified. Season the dressing with salt and pepper to taste.

In another bowl, add the spinach and toss with a very small amount of the dressing, just enough to barely coat it. Sprinkle with a tablespoon or so of the shredded parmesan cheese. Arrange the spinach along the bottom and sides of a large shallow serving bowl/dish.

Set aside a 2-3 tablespoons of dressing. Toss the tortellini salad with the remaining dressing, adding an ounce or so of the shredded parmesan. Refrigerate, covered, for six hours or overnight.

Prepare the chicken: On a very hot grill, cook the chicken breasts that have been seasoned with salt and pepper for 8 to 10 minutes per side. Remove from grill to a dish, then sprinkle with the lemon juice and set aside, covered, for 10 minutes or so. Slice the chicken against the grain into thin slices.

To serve as an entree: Spoon entree-sized portions into individual serving bowls or plates and top the salad with the slices of the warm grilled chicken. Garnish  with some of the grape tomatoes,  drizzling with some of the reserved dressing. Garnish with more parmesan, and finely chopped dill,  if desired.

To serve as a side salad: Garnish the top of the salad with grape tomatoes, and a little finely chopped dill and parmesan, if desired. I usually do not add grilled chicken when I make this as a side. It's a great picnic salad for a crowd.

Serves 6 or so as an entree, or 12-15 as a side salad.