Monday, August 22, 2011

Salads and Summer Desserts!

Thanks to everyone who came over last week for some delicious (as usual) food!  This month we made homemade dressings and vinaigrettes and then we made some delicious summer pies!  Sorry for the late night--it's just so hard to narrow things down when everything sounds so good!  And as usual for me--there are no pictures of people...guess I need to work on my social skills :)

First, we made a Wedge Salad--these are very simple to make and they look great!  You can get 6 servings from one head of lettuce.  Simply cute the head in half, and then make a triangular cut at the bottom to remove the stem.  Then cute each half into thirds, arrange on a plate with toppings and a dressing.  Here are our recipes for this:

Wedge Salad with Lighter Cobb Dressing

8 ounces feta
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup lighter mayo
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
coarse salt and ground pepper

Place feta in a small bowl, mash with fork.  In a medium bowl, whisk together buttermilk, mayonnaise and vinegar.  Gently fold in feta cheese (to keep the dressing "chunky"), season with salt and refrigerate.

Use on a wedge salad with halved grape tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs and bacon crumbles.

Gorgonzola Dressing (no picture)

2/3 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup sour cream
1 large garlic clove, minced
6 ounces crumbled gorgonzola
salt and ground pepper to taste

Stir the buttermilk, sour cream and garlic in a medium bowl to blend; mix 4 ounces Gorgonzola cheese.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Refrigerate.

Thousand Island

(recipe to come!)

Pear and Gorgonzola Spring Mix

2 heads romaine
1 package mixed greens
4 ounces gorgonzola
4 red pears, sliced or cubed
toasted walnuts


2 cups sugar
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. ground mustard
1 cup red wine vinegar
1 1/2 cups oil
2 tsp poppy seeds
 1 small onion

Blend first 4 ingredients, add oil slowly.  Stir in poppy seeds after blender.

Arugula Berry Salad

1 c. sliced almonds
20 oz. arugula mix
2 large fresh pears
2 c. sliced strawberries
1 c. dried tart cherries

Preheat oven to 350.  Place sliced almonds on a jelly roll pan, roast in oven for 7 to 10 minutes or until golden brown.  Rinse and dry mixed greens, set aside in a large bowl.  Core and chop pears.  Wash and slice strawberries.  Toss all ingredients together and top with Strawberry Vinaigrette.

 Strawberry Vinaigrette:

1 c. vegetable oil
1 c. sugar
6 strawberries with stems
1/2 tsp. coarse black pepper
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. dried parsley
1/2 c. water
1/2 c. apple cider vinegar

Put all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. Chill.

(and don't forget to blend the strawberries with their stems!  That's what gives this dressing such a smooth and creamy texture!)

Raspberry Macadamia Spinach Salad (recipe to come!)

Basic Romaine Salad:

romaine lettuce
sliced tomatoes
sliced avocados
mild goat cheese, chevre  (in small medallions)
Serve with white balsamic vinaigrette

White Balsamic Vinaigrette:
makes one cup

3/4 cup e.v. olive oil
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
1 T honey
1 T lemon juice
kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Combine vinegar and lemon juice in a glass bowl.  Slowly whisk in the oil until fully combined.  Whisk in the honey.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Let stand at room temperatre for 30 minutes to allow flavors to meld.  Give the dressing a good whisk immediately before serving.

***be careful to taste while adding the olive oil--we found that the amount in the recipe drowned out the flavor.  Try half the amount to start.

Click here for an ultimate greens guide!

And for the second half of our recipe packed evening....we had summer pies!

First we started with key lime pie--and why did I not get a picture of this????  (probably becuase I was too busy eating it...)

Anyway, it was delicious.  Here's the recipe!

Key Lime Pie
(from America's Test Kitchen)


4 large egg yolds
4 tsp grated lime zest
1 14-oz. can of sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup fresh key lime juice

1 graham cracker crust


1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup confectioners sugar

1.  For the filling,  whisk the yolds and zest together in a medium nonreactive bowl until the mixtrue has a light green tint, about 2 minutes.  Whisk in the milk until smooth, then whisk in the lime juice.  Cover the mixtrure then set aside until thickened, about 30 minutes.

2.  Meanwhile prepare the graham cracker crust--after removing the crust from the oven, adjust the oven rack to the middle position and leave the oven set at 325 degrees (the crust must still be warm when the filling is added.)
3.  Pour the thickened filling intot hte warm pie crust.  Bake until the center is firm but wiggles slightly when jiggled, about 15-20 minutes.  Transfer the pie to a wire rack and cool to room temperature, then refridgerage until well chilled, at least 3 hours.

4.  For the topping, just before serving whip together the cream and sugar in a chilled blowl until soft peaks form.  Spread the whipped cream atractively over the top of the pie.

The pie, without topping, can be refrigerated , wrapper tightly in plastic wrap for up to 1 day.  the cream can be whipped and refrigerated separately from the pie, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, for up to 2 hours.

Pie in a Jar
Just go here for the recipe :)

And last but definitely not least--here is the wonderful lemon meringue pie!  On a side note, although it was beyond delicious, we cut into it straight from the oven--so the inside wasn't quite picture worthy--we just weren't patient enough!  oops :)

Lemon Meringue Pie (from Cook's Illustrated)

This is the ultimate lemon meringue pie: a crisp crust, a firm, lush filling, and a no-weep meringue.

The Problem

Most everybody loves lemon meringue pie--at least the bottom half of it. The most controversial part is the meringue. Meringue falls into the category of unsolved culinary mysteries. On any given day it can shrink, bead, puddle, deflate, burn, sweat, break down, or turn rubbery.

The Goal

We wanted a pie with a crisp, flaky crust, with a rich filling that would balance the airy meringue, without blocking the clear, lemon flavor. The filling should be soft but not runny; firm enough to cut but not stiff and gelatinous. Most important, we wanted a meringue that didn't break down and puddle on the bottom or "tear" on top, not even (as cookbooks and old wives' tales declare it must) on rainy days.

The Solution

We consulted food scientist Shirley Corriher, who told us that the puddling underneath the meringue is from undercooking. The beading on top of the pie is from overcooking. We discovered that if the filling is piping hot when the meringue is applied, the underside of the meringue will not undercook; if the oven temperature is relatively low, the top of the meringue won't overcook. Baking the pie in a relatively cool oven also produces the best-looking, most evenly baked meringue. To further stabilize the meringue, we like to beat in a tiny amount of cornstarch; if you do this, the meringue will not weep, even on hot, humid days.
list of recipes

The Ultimate Lemon Meringue Pie - No Weep

 Serving Size  : 9 
---           -----COOK'S ILLUSTRATED
Graham Cracker-Coated Shell
1 1/4c  All-purpose flour
1/2ts   Salt
1tb     Sugar
    6tb     Unsalted chilled butter -- cut
                         Into 1/4 pieces
    6tb     Unsalted chilled butter -- cut
                         Into 1/4 pieces
    4tb     All-purpose vegetable
             Shortening -- chilled
    3tb     To 4 T cold wate
    1/2c    Graham cracker crumbs
Lemon Filling:
    1c      Sugar
    1/4c    Cornstarch
    1/8ts   Salt
    1 1/2c  Cold water
    6 lg    Egg yolks
    1tb     Zest from 1 lemon
    1/2c    Juice from 2 or 3 lemons
    4tb     Unsalted butter
Meringue Topping:
      1tb      Cornstarch
      1/4ts    Cream of Tartar
      1/2c     Sugar
      4 lg     Egg whites
      1/2ts    Vanilla extract
   1.  For the pie shell, mix flour, salt, and sugar in
   food processor fitted with steel blade.  Scatter
   butter pieces over flour mixture, tossing to coat
   butter with a little of the flour. Cut butter into
   flour with five 1-second pulses.  Add shortening;
   continue cutting in until flour is pale yellow and
   resembles coarse cornmeal with butter bits no larger
   than a small pea, about 1-second pulses.  Turn mixture
   into medium bowl.
   2.  Sprinkle 3 tablespoons cold water over mixture.
   Using rubber spatula, fold water into mixture; press
   down on dough mixture with broad side of spatula, fold
   water into mixture; press down on dough sticks
   together. If dough will not come together, add up to 1
   tablespoon more cold water. Shape dough into ball,
   then flatten into 4-inch-wide disk. Dust lightly with
   flour, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 30 minutes
   before rolling.
   3.  Generously sprinkle work area with 2 tablespoons
   graham cracker crumbs. Place dough on work area.
   Scatter a few more crumbs over dough. Roll dough from
   center to edges, turning it into a 9-inch disk,
   rotating a quarter turn after each stroke and
   sprinkling additional crumbs underneath and on top as
   necessary to coat heavily. Flip dough over, and
   continue to roll, but not rotate, to form a 13-inch
   disk slightly less than 1/8-inch thick.
   4. Fold dough in quarters; place dough point in center
   of 9-inch Pyrex pie pan.  Unfold to cover pan
   completely, letting excess dough drape over pan lip.
   To fit dough to pan, lift edge of dough with one hand
   and press dough in pan bottom with other hand; repeat
   process around circumference of pan to ensure dough
   fits properly and is not stretched. Trim all around,
   1/2-inch past lip of pan. Tuck 1/2 inch of overhanging
   dough under so folded edge is flush with lip pan;
   press to seal. Press thumb and index finger about
   1/2-inch apart against outside edge of dough, then use
   index finger or knuckle of other hand to poke a dent
   on inside edge of dough through opening created by the
   other fingers. Repeat to flute around perimeter of pie
   5.  Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes. Prick
   shell at 1/2-inch intervals; press a doubled 12-inch
   square of aluminum foil into pie shell; prick again
   and refrigerate a least 30 minutes.
   6.  Adjust oven rack to lowest position, heat oven to
   400 degrees. Bake, checking occasionally for
   ballooning, until crust is firmly set, about 15
   minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees,
   remove foil, and continue to bake until crust is crisp
   and rich brown in color, about 10 minutes longer.
   7.  For the Filling, mix first four ingredients in a
   large, non reactive saucepan.  Bring mixture to simmer
   over medium heat, whisking occasionally at beginning
   of the process and more frequently as mixture begins
   to thicken. When mixture starts to simmer and turn
   translucent, whisk in egg yolks, two at a time.  Whisk
   in zest, then lemon juice, and finally butter. Bring
   mixture to a good simmer, whisking constantly. Remove
   from heat, place plastic wrap directly on surface of
   filling to keep hot and prevent skin from forming.
   8.  For the meringue, mix cornstarch with 1/3 cup
   water in small saucepan; bring to simmer, whisking
   occasionally at beginning and more frequently as
   mixture thickens.  When mixture starts to simmer and
   turn translucent, remove from heat.  Let cool while
   beating egg whites.
   9.  Heat oven to 325 degrees.  Mix cream of tartar and
   sugar together. Beat egg whites and 1/2 tsp. vanilla until
   frothy. Beat in sugar mixture, 1 tablespoon at a time;
   until sugar is incorporated and mixture forms soft
   peaks. Add cornstarch mixture, 1 tablespoon at a time;
   continue to beat meringue to stiff peaks. Remove
   plastic from filling and return to very low heat
   during last minute or so of beating meringue (to
   ensure filling is hot).
10. Pour filling into pie shell.  Using a ruber spatula, 
immediately distribute meringue evenly around edge then center
of pie to keep it from sinking into filling.  Make sure meringue
attaches to pie crust to prevent shrinking.  Use spoon to create peaks 
all over meringue.  Bake pie until meringue is golden brown, about 20
minutes.  Transfer to wire rack and cool to room temp.  Serve.  

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