Friday, June 21, 2013

Beet, Arugala and Goat Cheese Salad

This salad can also be made with ricotta cheese, for those who prefer a milder cheese, or feta, for those who prefer a sharper flavor. The beets can be chopped or sliced, and pecans can substitute for the walnuts. Orange sections and/or red- or Vidalia onion slices may be added. Be creative with the ingredients and the presentation of this healthful and delicious summer salad.

 2  bunches medium beets (about 1½ pounds), tops trimmed
2  tablespoons lemon juice
2  tablespoons red wine vinegar
⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
½ cup walnuts
1 bunch arugula, trimmed and torn
4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled

Put the beets in a saucepan with water to cover and season generously with salt. Add the lemon juice (to help keep the beets from bleeding). Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until tender, about 45 minutes to an hour. Place pot under running cold water and rinse until beets are cool enough to handle. The skins should slide right off with a bit of pressure from your fingers. Use a paring knife to scrape off any bits that stick. Cut each beet into bite-sized wedges.

Whisk the vinegar with salt and pepper, to taste, in a large bowl. Whisk in the olive oil in a slow, steady stream to make a dressing. Toss the cut beets in the dressing; set aside to marinate for at least 15 minutes or up to 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350º F. Spread the walnuts on a baking sheet and oven-toast, stirring once, until golden brown, about 8 minutes. Cool.

Toss the arugula with the beets and divide among four plates. Scatter the walnuts and goat cheese on top.

Fresh Tomato Soup

The weather has been so cold and nasty that I decided to make soup the other day. This tomato soup recipe is only good when the tomatoes are good—in the summer, and the later in the season and the better the tomatoes, the better the soup. So it is my ray of sunshine on a bad summer day. Keep the recipe handy—if the spring is any indication, we may be in for quite a few bowls this summer.

4 cups chopped fresh tomatoes
1 slice onion
4 whole cloves
2 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons white sugar, or to taste

 In a pot, over medium heat, combine the tomatoes, onion, cloves and chicken broth. Bring to a boil and gently boil for about 20 minutes to blend all of the flavors. Remove from the heat. Remove the cloves and run the mixture through a food mill or mixer into a large bowl. In the now-empty pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the flour to make a roux, cooking until the roux is a medium brown. Gradually whisk in a bit of the tomato mixture, so that no lumps form, then stir in the rest. Season with sugar and salt, and adjust to taste.

My French Potato Salad

Recipe: My French Potato Salad 

Of all the dishes I make, this is the one I most often get asked to bring to picnics and BBQs and pot-luck dinners. This may be made many hours in advance, even the night beforebut do not refrigerate.


1 tablespoon Dijon mustard. (I prefer Maille)
1/cup red wine vinegar (I like Dal Raccolta Old Chianti Vinegar) 
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup vegetable oil (I use peanut oil)
1 Vidalia onion, or 2-3 shallots (chopped)
3 pounds small new potatoes (I like to mix Yukons, White Creamers and Reds)
Fresh parsley


Place mustard at bottom of the salad bowl in which you will serve the potato salad. Add vinegar and season with salt and pepper. (This must be done now, before the oil is added). Add 1/3 of oil. Whisk until it thickens.

Add second third of oil. Whisk until thicker. Add last third of oil. Whisk again. 

Add the chopped onions or shallots. Wash, pat dry and boil potatoes in their skins until soft. Drain and peel while still warm. The skin comes off very easily when cooked, but you will need a paper towel to hold the hot potatoes. Cut potatoes in halves or quarters and place while still warm into the vinaigrette. (They won’t absorb the sauce once cooled.)  

Add half the parsley, salt and pepper, and stir.  Add the rest of the parsley, salt and pepper, and let stand.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Beef, Zucchini and Tomato Gratin

This is inspired by a recipe I found on the Internet while searching for ideas for gluten-free meals (doctor’s orders). I hate to admit that I feel better because it has turned my world upside down. I made this last week and we all enjoyed it, so I thought I would pass it on.
3 zucchini, thinly sliced
sea salt
pepper mill
2tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1.5 lbs. lean ground beef
1 cup basmati rice (cooked)
1 can diced tomatoes
3 beef tomatoes, skins removed and sliced
½ cup ricotta cheese
½ cup cheddar cheese, grated
Preheat oven to 350F.
Toss zucchini with 1 teaspoon sea salt and let stand 20 minutes; drain, rinse and pat dry with paper towels. Evenly spread half of the zucchini over the bottom of a buttered 2-quart casserole. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and add the onions and garlic and sauté until tender. Add the ground beef and cook until no longer pink. Drain off excess fat; add pepper, and ½ teaspoon salt or more to taste. Stir in the cooked rice and chopped tomatoes. Spoon the beef mixture into the casserole, then top with the sliced tomatoes and the remaining sliced zucchini. Combine the ricotta cheese with the cheddar cheese and sprinkle over. Bake in preheated for 30 to 40 minutes until the cheese is golden brown.