August 2012 Cookbook of the Month Companion Book, Raising the Salad Bar: Basics, Leafy Greens, Chicken, Meat, and Seafood
Please use this thread to report on dishes from the following chapters:
Salad Basics, pages 16 -25 (few recipes here, but some tips, so I though I'd include it)
Light Leafy Greens, pages 26 - 67
Chicken Salad Every Way, pages 68 - 93
Main Course Meat Salads, pages 94- 105
Seafood Salads, pages 106 - 129
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Leafy Green Salad with Lemon-Basil Goat Cheese, page 60
This is a fairly straight forward salad with a goat cheese twist. The recipe instructs you to make goat cheese rounds and then marinate in a mixture of grated lemon zest, garlic, olive oil, and salt. The dressing is a simple balsamic-olive oil mix at about 1:3 ratio. Though the recipe calls for arugula or mixed baby greens, I used baby spinach from a local farm.
The salad is dressed with the balsamic mixture and then the goat cheese is put on the plate with any lemon zest marinade that wasn't absorbed by the cheese.
This cheese preparation reminded me of the Ottolenghi method of marinating mozzarella cheese. It is a way of taking a somewhat bland cheese and amping up the flavors.
The recipe calls for 2 oz of cheese per salad which is too much for us. In the future I will only prepare one ounce per person since this is what we actually ate. I didn't serve with bread.
In no way was this revolutionary, but it was a nice accompaniment to our dinner of pan-fried pork chops and zucchini.
Provencal Chicken Salad with Roasted Peppers and Artichokes, p. 91
This is a very nice main dish salad, with a variety of flavorful ingredients and plenty of umami. Roasted red pepper, quartered canned artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, French green olives, chicken, parsley (which I didn't have), and a dressing of red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, garlic, dried oregano, olive oil, and S+P, are all served over greens.
I made a few tweaks. She has you begin by rehydrating sun-dried tomatoes in boiling water, but I skipped that step because the ones I buy in bulk at my local market are quite moist and don't really need it. The recipe calls for boneless, skinless chicken breasts to be seasoned and grilled or sauteed, then sliced; but instead I used boneless skinless thighs, which I slathered on both sides with some of the dressing and roasted in the oven, then cubed. For the dressing, she uses a typical 1:3 vinegar-to-oil ratio, but I did 1:2 both in order to reduce the fat a bit and because I like a more acidic vinaigrette. That change also made the mustard flavor stronger, which is fine with me!
For the greens, I used a combo of baby wild arugula, baby spinach, and mixed baby lettuces. I plated it as directed, with the dressed chicken, etc. atop the greens, but ended up tossing it together before eating to distribute the dressing through the greens. I packed the remainder up on its own and will mix with more fresh greens when I have it for other meals on upcoming days. Aside from the parsley I was missing, I can see a number of fresh herbs working well as bright additions here - thyme, tarragon, marjoram, in addition to, or fresh oregano in place of the dried oregano in the dressing.
re: Caitlin McGrath
Caitlin, I think you remedied the only element of this recipe that didn't work for me. I made/assembled the components in advance to take for a cottage dinner. It was perfect for that...lots of fresh flavor and color and an attractive presentationon a big platter. I used farmers market green beans, and more than recipe suggested because they were so beautiful. The dressing didn't really stand up, and I wondered if it was the bean surplus. Next time I will amp up the acid, and there will certainly be a next time.
Spicy Thai Steak and Napa Cabbage(Chinese Leaf) Salad, p99
A very tasty main dish salad, with a bit of a kick and healthy to boot. My kind of dinner!
I used sirloin steak, which I cooked on the griddle to medium-rare. For the salad, I used chinese leaf (no napa here), which is combined with shredded carrot, cucumber, red pepper, red onion, cilantro and mint. The dressing is lime, sugar, fish sauce and red pepper flakes.
We really enjoyed this one. And it's healthy, which is very much a priority in this house post-France, and pre-beach holiday in September! Next time, I'd try adding basil as well, as suggested in the note.
Spicy Thai Steak and Napa Cabbage Salad, page 99.
Well, my library copy goes back tomorrow, so last night I figured it was time to stop gazing and make something. I've been much more focused on Planet Barbecue this month.
I was eager to do an experiment with steak, cooking one half straight from the fridge, and one half after sitting at room temperature for 30 minutes. After the taste test, the steak went into this salad. Very bright, easy, and quick. I thought it could have used another dimension. The dressing tasted like fish sauce and lime, which is essentially what it is, and they are two flavors that I like, but I would have liked a bit more complexity. Loved the combination of vegetables, and their finely chopped texture makes it easy to taste the flavors in each bite. I'll play with the dressing a bit, and use this salad again, perhaps as a base for chicken, or even fish.
re: blue room
I was trying to decide if I should go back to that thread and report. But I'll talk here, since you asked. The refrigerated piece took longer to cook by a couple minutes, going by the finger pressure test and the outside appearance. Even so, when they both seemed equally cooked by those measures, the innermost part of the refrigerated steak was still blue/raw, whereas the room temp steak was perfectly rare. We think we preferred the taste/texture of the room temp steak, but that is a tough call. It's subjective, and the cold steak was certainly underdone.
The big argument seems to be about the bacteria that might congregate in that 30 minutes it takes to come close to room temp. I thought that if I couldn't tell the difference, or if the cold one was better, why take any chances. But since I preferred the even cooking, and quite possibly the taste, of the room temp steak, we'll continue to take the (probably minuscule) chance of a few extra microorganisms.
PS, I think this photo might have been from the cold steak, and some of the less raw slices to boot. A bit too rare for me, even though I do like steak between rare and medium rare.
Farmers Market Salad, Pg. 42
This is the kind of salad one uses as inspiration in order to use up all the vegetable tidbits in the fridge before market day, at least that's what I do most of the time. The first time I made it (7.24.12) I used the Italian Herb Vinaigrette on page 246 but last night I dressed the vegetables with the Creamy Italian Dressing on page 255. Both salads were tasty and satisfying.
1. The first salad included Boston lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes, carrots, new Spring torpedo onions, and crumbled goat cheese. Croutons were made from pieces of crusty Italian bread. Quartered hard boiled eggs are optional so I omitted them. Dressed with the herb vinaigrette and served with cold roast pork it was a fine main dish salad.
2. Last night's salad consisted simply of Romaine, daikon radish leaves, arugula, and a few baby spinach leaves. It accompanied lobster rolls from Fish Without A Doubt so kept I kept the ingredients to a minimum. The creamy Italian dressing was a perfect fit.
Greek Salad, Pg. 46
This Greek salad differs from an "authentic" one in that salad greens are used. In this recipe it's Romaine. With the greens added it now becomes the Greek-American version, according to Susanna Hoffman author of "The Olive and the Caper." Ms Walthers omits the chopped green bell pepper usually found in a Greek salad. Nevertheless, Walthers puts together all the other vegetables and vinaigrette to make a very tasty and flavorful salad. I halved the recipe for two people.
Romaine leaves, cucumbers - peeled/seeded/chopped - thinly sliced red onion, chopped tomatoes, crumbled Feta, Kalamatas are combined then dressed with a vinaigrette comprised of: red wine vinegar, fresh lemon juice, minced garlic, dried oregano (I used Greek), olive oil (Greek), S & P. Mix everything together with some of the vinaigrette saving the cheese and olives to sprinkle over top the salad. The dressing recipe makes quite a lot and you won't want to use it all... she says to save the rest for another salad which we did.
I thought the ratio of oil to acid was not balanced with too much oil so I kept adjusting till it seemed right to me. The end result was indeed a very nice salad that I served with cold roast turkey slices with a chiffonade of prosciutto. This became a terrific main dish salad for us...