cooking


I recently started making breadsticks on a semi-regular basis. The reason for this is that the first time I made them, I took a couple of shortcuts with the recipe, and ended up with the easiest ever breadsticks that my family absolutely loves. These are easier than buying a tube of “biscuit” dough and popping it open. They’re more stick than bread, not like those fluffy, gross things you get at everyone’s favorite fake Italian restaurant. They’re long, crispy on the outside, and very slightly chewy on the inside. Depending on how fat you make them, of course. We like them about as big around as a toothbrush. I don’t roll them out, so they’re slightly uneven, but the rolling takes sooo much time. Trust me, this way is better. Also, this dough makes fantastic pizza crust.

(You will notice that some of the photos are taken from about 3 1/3 feet above the floor. This is where I could no longer do the one-handed photography, and my wonderful little Calvin came to my rescue.)

Here’s what you do:

3 cups of all-purpose flour
1 cup of whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast OR 1 teaspoon instant yeast
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
almost 2 cups cool water

In the bowl of an electric mixer, with the dough hook attached, measure flours, yeast*, and salt. Mix on low for a minute, to incorporate the salt and yeast. With the mixer running, add the water until it forms a ball on the hook. Mix on the second speed for about 4 minutes. If it’s too sticky, and there’s a lot of dough still on the side of the bowl, add flour a tablespoon at a time, until it pulls away. Stop the mixer and let the dough rest for 5 minutes. Mix again at the second speed for about 2 more minutes. Place the dough into an oiled bowl, cover, and let rise for a while.

I say a while, because the rising is not so crucial here. I’ve let this rise for 1 1/2 hours, and for 3 hours. Once it’s risen, you can put it in the fridge for later. Just take it out about 1/2 hour before you plan on baking. You can also put it in the fridge overnight, which will improve the flavor. If you want, you can punch the dough down and let it rise again, which will also improve the flavor, but it’s not necessary.

About an hour before dinner time, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Grab a sheet pan and grease it with olive oil.
IMG_3352

Spread the oil until it all over. Set it aside.
IMG_3353

Flour your work surface. Yes, this is the entire work surface in my kitchen. Derek and I were talking last night about how, next time we buy a house, we won’t pick one with a mini kitchen.
IMG_3347

GENTLY loosen the dough from the bowl and dump it onto the floured surface. You don’t want to de-gas the dough, you want all the bubbles.
IMG_3348

With a knife or bench scraper, cut the dough roughly in half.
IMG_3349

IMG_3350

Keep one half, and return the other half to the bowl and cover.
IMG_3351

If you are making a lot of breadsticks, you’ll use that other half. You won’t want to make extra for tomorrow, because these don’t keep especially well. The nice thing is that when you want more tomorrow, you can just pull the extra dough out of the fridge, cut it, and bake!

Cut that piece in half again.
IMG_3354

Move one half aside, take the other half, and gently pull the corners so you have a rough rectangle.
IMG_3355

Cut a piece from the long edge, about a finger’s width.
IMG_3356

Pick up the piece from both ends.
IMG_3358

Gently pull each end.
IMG_3359

It should stretch really easily, since you didn’t de-gas it or knead it after it came out of the bowl. When it’s about as long as your pan,
IMG_3363

lay it on the pan, the long way.
IMG_3357

Continue until your pan is full, then brush a little olive oil on each breadstick.
IMG_3365

I like to sprinkle Kosher salt on the breadsticks. Sesame and poppy seeds are also really good.
IMG_3366

Bake them for about 12 minutes, then check them. If they are not golden, bake for a few more minutes. If they are brown, they are maybe a little over done, but certainly not burned! These ones were crispy and yummy!
IMG_3368

You could experiment on how crispy you like them. I like them to be able to stand straight, so you could put them in a vase or something, and to crunch when bitten, but to have a chewy center. If they’re brown like the darker ones above, they will be crispy all through, like a long crouton, but still excellent.

One night when I made these, I realized I only had one cup of all-purpose flour. I substituted 2 cups of bread flour, and 1 tablespoon olive oil, to tenderize the dough, since bread flour has that extra gluten. I think you could also skip the whole wheat flour and use all white, but you might need less water. And if you’re in a high-altitude place, or a desert, you will need more water to make the dough soft enough.

*If you are using dry yeast and you like to proof it first, add it to 1 cup of the water, dissolve, and wait until it bubbles up a little. If you are using instant yeast, you just add it directly to the dry flour. If you’re like me, you use yeast often enough that you only proof it the first time you use it, just to make sure it’s alive, and then you pretty much use up the whole jar in a couple of months, before it has time to die. Also, you always keep it in the fridge or freezer.

Advertisements

I roasted two little Sugar Pumpkins this afternoon, at the request of Calvin, who is dying to try some pumpkin pie from a real pumpkin. Ever since people started putting up Jack-‘o-Lanterns before Halloween, he’s been begging to cook up a pumpkin. So I went to Trader Joe’s where they were selling Sugar Pumpkins, which are actually meant for eating, not carving. I bought two, because I knew violence would ensue if a pumpkin magically appeared at the behest of one child, and there wasn’t one for the other. And I always like to use the whole beast if I can.

Easy as pie, so they say. I sliced the little (baby-head sized) pumpkins in half from top to bottom, put them on a greased cookie sheet, skin side up, and baked them for an hour at 300 degrees. Then, when they were cooled down, I scooped out the flesh and pureed it with my stick blender. Actually, Derek was in the room and he asked me if I needed him to do the pureeing. I told him I was doing just fine, and he confessed that he thought it looked like fun, so I let him do the pureeing. Tomorrow, I will whip up some pie crust. Tuesday, I’ll make some pie.

As for the seeds, I put them in a big bowl, ran a little bit of water in, swirled them around, and picked out the big chunks of pulp. I ran some more water and they floated above the rest of the pulp, so I could just scoop them out onto a paper towel. Calvin has also been asking for pumpkin seeds, you see.

Candied Pumpkin Seeds

about 2 cups fresh raw pumpkin seeds, washed and patted dry
2 T butter or canola oil
1/4 cup real maple syrup (it would probably work just fine with only 2 tablespoons, but wouldn’t that be sad?)
generous pinch salt
1/8-1/4 t cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Melt butter in a large bowl. Add maple syrup, salt, and cayenne and mix well. Stir in pumpkin seeds and mix to coat. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet, and roast for 45-60 minutes, stirring every ten minutes, until golden. The syrup should be dark golden brown and very sticky.

When you take the seeds out of the oven, stir them with a couple of spatulas for about 5 minutes while they cool, breaking up large clumps. Eat immediately. Yummy.

Derek and I ate the entire batch as soon as it was cool enough. I don’t know how Sugar Pumpkin seeds compare to carving pumpkin seeds, except that I was expecting them to be more woody. It seems like I’ve had the seeds in the hull before, and I had to chew and chew those suckers. Well, these ones I made today were not at all like that. In fact, they were so yummy that Zeeb ate a bunch, calling them “Pumpkin chips” and Kiki found a clump that had fallen to the floor and tried to eat it. I can usually get things out of her mouth, like when she eats rocks or marbles, but this time, she would NOT give it up. She had those jaws clamped tight, and kept mooshing her lips so I couldn’t stick my finger in there. It was amazing.

Anyway, if you want a yummy, good-for-you snack (and by that I mean not processed or including unpronounceable ingredients, not low calorie), try these. They’re so easy. I’m gonna make some for appetizers on Thanksgiving.

In a characteristic fit of I-can-do-anything-itis, and after having read this article in the New York Times, I hauled off and ordered 10 pounds of fresh olives a few weeks ago. They arrived a couple of days after we moved into the house, so I stuck them in the fridge to await their fate. Today was the day. I finally bought 12 quart canning jars last night, and 2 pounds of lemons. I got up this morning with that glow of excitement at the start of a new project. I’ve only been thwarted in minor ways, no big set-backs yet.

I washed my olives and put them in the jars with the brine, vinegar, lemons, garlic, and celery. I still need to go get more lemons to make juice to add, and I also need a bunch of hot peppers, which I had forgotten about. Also, I think I need at least one more head of garlic. I’m not totally certain the jars are big enough, though. The recipe says to put 3 1/2 pounds of olives in 2 1-gallon jars, but I only had quart jars. And it seems like if you use gallon jars, you end up with olives only in the bottom half of the jar. But you use a lot more brine that way. I think I’m gonna have to keep an eye on those buggers.

I’m so excited to try my own home-cured olives in 6 months. I love olives. Sometimes I think I should have been born in the Mediterranean, because I love olives, citrus, garlic, and flatbread more that about anything else. I wish I had had some good green olives last night, because I could have used them in our dinner. I had to improvise with black olives and capers, which I’m not sure would really fall into a traditional Moroccan meal. The capers, I mean. But man, was it yummy. So yummy, that for your entertainment, I’m posting the recipe for this Moroccan Lemon Chicken and Almond Rice Pilaf, as well as Roasted Cauliflower, which it the perfect accompaniment to the chicken. It’s a little bit of a cheater menu. I used leftover rice from the night before, and subbed in the wrong olives, but it was still so good.

Moroccan Lemon Chicken

1 T olive oil
1 whole, boneless chicken breast with skin and wings (I used 8 frozen thighs from Trader Joe’s)
1 small onion, sliced thin
3/4 t ground cumin
1/4 t paprika
1/4 t cinnamon
2 t finely grated lemon zest
1 1/2 t flour
1 1/2 C chicken broth
1/3 C green olives, pitted and sliced thin (or black olives plus 1 T chopped capers)
1 T honey
1/2 C drained, rinsed canned chickpeas (which I left out, because I had none)
2 T chopped fresh cilantro (also absent, because where do you get fresh cilantro in Ohio in November? I don’t know!)

In a large, heavy saucepan (I don’t use non-stick for stuff like this, because the fresh-ground spices scratch it up, so I use cast iron), heat the oil over medium high heat. Don’t let it smoke. Dry off the rinsed chicken and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook the chicken with the skin side down (this is one of those times when you really want the skin still on. It makes this dish taste like actual chicken, and also gives the sauce a nice, velvety texture) until the skin is deep golden brown. Transfer to a plate.

Add the onions to the pan and cook a few minutes until soft. Add spices (if you’re me, double the amount), zest, and flour, and simmer for one minute, stirring. Add broth, olives (and capers), and honey. Add the chicken again and simmer for about 8-10 minutes, uncovered. Stir every so often, and don’t worry about the skin that forms on the sauce, just stir it in. Add the chickpeas, simmer, add salt and pepper to taste. When serving, make sure everyone gets a lot of sauce, and sprinkle with cilantro.

Almond Rice Pilaf

1 t olive oil
1/4 C chopped or slivered almonds
2-3 cups cooked rice (I used long grain brown rice)
small handful of raisins

Heat the olive oil on medium in a skillet (non-stick is good here) and add almonds. Stir and cook until toasted and a tiny bit golden. Add rice and stir, incorporating all the oil and breaking up any chunks. Add raisins and keep stirring until all the rice is hot. Be pretty careful not to burn the rice. I like to add a couple of tablespoons of water to rehydrate the rice. The water steams the rice a little.

Roasted Cauliflower, or Cauliflower Fries, or The Best Cauliflower You’ve Ever Tasted, Even If You Think You Hate Cauliflower

1 head cauliflower, cut into bite-sized pieces
3 T extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 t ground coriander
1/2 t ground caraway
3/4 t salt
pepper

Toss the cauliflower with the oil, then the spices and salt. Again, if you’re me, double the spices. Put the cauliflower on a baking sheet in one layer, and roast in a 425 degree oven for about 20 minutes. You should hear a lot of sizzling. Take it out and turn the cauliflower. It might look a little burned on the bottom, but that’s what you want. Return to the oven and roast another 10 minutes. It should be shriveled, blackened and crispy on the edges, and kind of juicy looking. Let it cool a little before you try it, and then prepare yourself for a new addiction. Keep the kids away, because they will eat it all. And beg for more, even fight over the remaining pieces.

I am inordinately excited about cookbooks. I love them. I buy them, I borrow them, I get them from the library. I read them like novels, front to back. I use them.

I bought my first cookbook,The Joy of Cooking, by Irma Rombauer, as a freshman in college. Sadly, I discovered too late that it was bound without pages 117-148. I contacted the publishers, and they curtly informed me that I would just have to buy another. Anyway, Ms. Rombauer undertook the task of collecting recipes for everything she could think of as a remedy for the depression she experienced when her husband died. It is full of age-old recipes, new, modernized recipes, quick recipes using convenience foods, and witty commentary, including old-wives tales, folk remedies, quotation, and verse. My favorite: On beaten biscuits, page 634:

To win unending gratitude, serve to any homesick southerner this classic accompaniment to Virginia ham. The following lines by Miss Howard Weeden in Bandanna Ballads sum up in a nutshell the art of making biscuits:

“Of course I’ll gladly give de rule
I meks beat biscuit by,
Dough I ain’t sure dat you will mek
Dat bread de same as I

“Case cookin’s like religion is–
Some’s ‘lected an’ some ain’t,
An’ rules don’t no more mek a cook
Den sermons mek a saint.”

Our boxes from the storage unit were delivered on Saturday night, and with glee, I began opening them to see what treasures had been secreted away these many months, even years. Since we had been living in a basement apartment with little shelving, we kept most of our books in boxes, but now, I’m going to let them free. Or course, I still don’t have any shelves, but those will come.

Here’s a list of all the cookbooks I’ve unearthed so far, in absolutely no order of preference.

The Joy of Cooking, Irma S. Rombauer.
The Cake Bible, Rose Levy Beranbaum
Vegan with a Vengeance, Isa Chandra Moskowitz
To the King’s Taste, the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Early American Cookery, Margaret Huntington Hooker
The Splendid Grain, Rebecca Wood
Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, Deborah Madison
Jaques Pepin’s Table, Jaques Pepin
Potager, Georgeanne Brennan
finger food, Elsa Petersen-Schepelern
Greens Glorious Greens, Johnna Albi and Catherine Walthers
New Recipes from Moosewood Restaurant, The Moosewood Collective
Classic Indian Cooking, Julie Sahni
World Vegetarian, Madhur Jaffrey
Moosewood Restaurant New Classics, The Moosewood Collective
Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home, The Moosewood Collective
Moosewood Restaurant Daily Special, The Moosewood Collective
Bones, Jennifer McLagan
Cookbook of Breads, Sunset
Moosewood Cookbook, Mollie Katzen
Mexican Cookbook, Sunset
The Bread Bible, Peter Reinhart
The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, Peter Reinhart
Easy Beans, Trish Ross
Vegetarian Sushi Made Easy, Hiroko Fukuhara and Yasuko Takahata
The Silver Palate Cookbook, Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins
Secrets of Jewish Baker, George Greenstein
Great Cookies, Carole Walter
The Pie and Pastry Bible, Rose Levy Beranbaum
Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook, Recipes from the Hunan Province, Fuchsia Dulop
Arabesque, A Taste Or Morocco, Turkey, and Lebanon, Claudia Roden
Chez Jacques, Jacques Pepin
Flavors of India, Madhur Jaffrey
First Meals, Annabel Karmel
Sundays at Moosewood, The Moosewood Collective
Moosewood Restaurant Celebrated, The Moosewood Collective
Breakfast, James McNair
From Julia Child’s Kitchen, Julia Child
The Frugal Gourmet Cooks Three Ancient Cuisines – China, Greece, Rome, Jeff Smith
The Frugal Gourmet On Our Immigrant Ancestors, Jeff Smith
A French Chef Cooks at Home, Jacques Pepin
Theory and Practice of Good Cooking, James Beard
Quick and Easy Thai, Nancie McDermott
Corn Cookbook, James McNair
Rice Cookbook, James McNair
Vegetarian Times Complete Cookbook
Pretend Soup, Mollie Katzen and Ann Henderson
International Vegetarian Cookbook, Sunset
Tofu Cookery, Louise Hagler
Light Desserts, Sunset
Hors D’Oeuvres, Sunset
Picnics and Tailgate Parties, Sunset
Pasta Cookbook, Sunset
Amish Cooking, Crescent Books
The Provence Cookbook, Patricia Wells,
American Pie, Peter Reinhart
1000 Best Recipe, Cook’s Illustrated
Classic Indian Vegetarian and Grain Cooking, Julie Sahni
Betty Crocker’s Cookbook, 1969 edition

That’s the list so far, but I think there’s at least one more box to find. As you can see, my collection is a mishmash of high and low cooking, vegetarian and non, ethnic, fake ethnic, baking, and general recipes. Just looking at them all makes me excited to go experiment in the kitchen. What should I make for dinner?

No, I do not know where to find zucchini eggs. I don’t believe they lay eggs. This is just my favorite way to use up those millions of zucchini and tomatoes in the middle of summer. I love them both, so I try lots of different ways of preparing them. But I’m telling you, this one is just extra good stuff. Even my little boys kept begging for more. The chartreuse color of the eggs may be a little shocking. In fact, if you just look at the eggs without the rice, tomatoes and yogurt, it is not entirely appetizing, but assembled, it looks great. You can also skip the curry powder and the yogurt, and it would be good that way, too.

Curried Zucchini Eggs for 4

2 T olive or canola oil
1 or 2 T good curry powder
1 medium or 2 small (cigar sized) zucchini, grated
4 eggs, beaten
2 ripe tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup plain yogurt
cooked brown rice
salt and pepper

In a large skillet, preferably cast-iron, heat 1 T of the oil on medium-high. Add the curry powder and stir around, then add the grated zucchini. Stir-fry for about 3 minutes, until the zucchini is soft, but not totally dry. Salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a bowl or plate.

Return the pan to the stove and lower the temperature to medium. Add the other T oil, swirl to coat the pan, and add the beaten eggs. Scramble a little, until beginning to set, then quickly add the zucchini and scramble some more, until the eggs are done. Remove to the same plate as before.

To serve, make a mountain in this order: Rice, zucchini eggs, chopped tomatoes, a dallop of plain yogurt, salt and pepper to taste.

It seems like people don’t really do yummy summer refreshers just for everyday enjoyment. We go on walks in the afternoon, and by the time we get home, we are hot, sweaty, and lethargic. Snacks never sound good, but cold drinks are always desperately needed. Here are 3 of my favorites. These are especially great for serving to non-imbibing friends and children.

Agua de Jamaica

This is the deep red, sweet-tart drink served in Mexican restaurants. I love it so much that I buy a bunch of jamaica blossoms at a time, so I can make it all summer. It’s about as hard to make as a pot of tea.

2 ounces dried jamaica blossoms, aka hibiscus blossoms*
6 cups water
1 1/4 cup sugar

In a saucepan, combine jamaica, water, and sugar and bring to a boil. Lower heat and boil for 2 minutes. Transfer to a glass bowl or pitcher and let cool. Refrigerate overnight. Strain out the blossoms. Taste it, and dilute with a little filtered water if it’s too strong. Serve with ice.

*You can buy Jamaica flowers at Mexican and International markets, and at regular supermarkets in areas with a large Mexican population. They come prepackaged in 2 ounce bags, and are usually near the dried pasilla and ancho chiles, and all those little bags of spices.

Persian Rhubarb drink

This one is made from a syrup, or sherbet in Persian. And now’s  the time, since rhubarb is in season. You can also pick lots of rhubarb, chop it, and freeze for a later date. The frozen rhubarb gets a little mushy, so it’s not ideal for pie or crisp, but great for something like this drink.

1 1/2 pounds rhubarb, trimmed and chopped in 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 cup water
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 cup fresh lime juice
fresh mint sprigs

In a stainless steel saucepan, bring the rhubarb and water to a boil, cover, lower heat and simmer for about 1/2 hour. Strain, discard the fiber, and return to the pan, with the sugar and lime juice. Simmer on low heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Simmer another 1/2 hour, until it looks syrupy. Strain into a glass bowl and cool.

To make the drink, combine about 1 cup syrup with 4 cups ice water, stir, and taste. If it’s too strong, add more water, and add more syrup if you like it stronger. Pour over into ice-filled cups and add a sprig of mint.

Mango Lassi

Who hasn’t gone to an Indian Restaurant and ordered the mango lassi? If you haven’t, something is wrong with you.

1 cup chopped fresh mango, or 1 cup canned mango puree*
1 cup plain yogurt (be sure it is made with no gelatin)**
1 cup milk
sugar
1/8-1/4 teaspoons ground cardamom
ice cubes

In a blender, combine all ingredients except ice, starting with just a Tablespoon or so of sugar. Depending on the variety of mango you use, it will need different amounts of sugar. Yellow Manila mangoes are less fibrous and sweeter that the green and red fatter mangoes at the supermarket. I’ve seen similar yellow ones labelled Champagne. If you want a thicker lassi, add more yogurt. For thinner, more milk. When the flavor and consistency are good, throw in a bunch of ice cubes and blend until frothy.

*Mango puree can be found at Indian and International markets. It is always sweetened. It is pretty runny, so you may need less milk.

**If you use low-fat or fat free yogurt, you will probably need more sugar to offset the tartness of the yogurt.

Calvin went shopping with me a couple months or so ago, and at the health food store, spied the goat cheese in it’s tiny, round package. He asked what it was, and proceeded to beg for some the rest of the shopping trip. I felt sure in my heart that he would not like goat cheese, and I didn’t really have any good ideas of how to use it if no-one in the family liked it. I have had a dessert of goat cheese, toasted walnuts, and honey, but I don’t really make dessert that often, so it seemed like too much of a burden to buy the dang cheese.

Well Calvin didn’t let up. He asked for chèvre every day. He reminded me, any time I went to the store, that he really wanted some goat cheese. Sometimes, he’d forget what it was called, and he’d ask me for “that stuff that’s white, and round?” I took him on another shopping trip to Costco about a month ago. In the cheese aisle, he asked what all the different cheeses were. This is a child who loves a good cheese. Among his favorites is aged Gouda. I don’t buy it because it’s so freaking expensive, but if we ever do have it, he wants it. Anyway, he spied the 1 pound log of chèvre, and commenced with the begging.

I decided to humor him, because I didn’t want to drive to the health food store for one little thing. We bought the cheese. We also bought the 3-pack of Boursin garlic-herb cheese, as a backup. We took them home, and the boys, including the Derek, devoured on of the Boursins, but I was reluctant to break out the chèvre.

Then, about 3 weeks ago, I went to dinner with some lovely girls, and I ordered the special salad. Arugula, strawberries, pine nuts, and goat cheese, with vinaigrette. It was a decent combination. So I came home with goat cheese on the brain.

For the next few days, I experimented with our salads, using baby spinach and arugula stolen from a neighbor’s garden, toasted pine nuts, and dried cranberries, since I’m unwilling to purchase those baseball sized, white-cored “strawberries” they sell at the supermarkets around here, and balsamic vinegar.

When we spent the weekend with Derek’s parents, I made them a couple variations of the salad, which were eagerly devoured, in spite of them being pre-dressed. I personally prefer salads as an ensemble, with the dressing being a main ingredient. And I cannot abide the dressings that come in a bottle, so I always make my own. But Derek’s parents didn’t have any goat cheese, so I went to the Costco around the corner from their house and picked up a log, figuring I’d leave it there for them to deal with. Except they didn’t want it.

So with my 2 logs of goat cheese, I resolved to find delicious ways of consuming them before the dreaded expiration. (The expiration of a cheese is where, with one last dying gasp, the cheese heaves itself onto it’s haunches, staggers, and collapses into a sweaty, smelly heap.) So I give you two salads and a spread. Do not be afraid of the log. Go buy yourself one, and discover the beauty of a mellow, slightly tart, slightly sweet, soft cheese.

Salad with Strawberries and Goat Cheese

1 bunch arugula
6-8 ounces tender baby spinach
mixed greens
2 T extra virgin olive oil
1-2 T balsamic vinegar
a handful of fresh strawberries, sliced, or a handful of dried cranberries
3 T toasted pine nuts
1-2 ounces goat cheese, in small pieces

Rinse and spin the arugula and spinach, and place in a salad bowl with the mixed greens to fill the bowl. Add the oil and the vinegar, and gently massage the leaves until mixed and coated with dressing. Add the remaining ingredients. I like to put the small stuff on top, instead of tossing it. I hate it when you get just a bunch of lettuce, and all the nuts and fruity things fall through to the bottom.

Salad with Hazelnuts and Goat Cheese

10 ounces mixed salad greens
1/4 cup chopped dried pears*
1/4 cup chopped toasted hazelnuts
2 ounces goat cheese
1 1/2 T hazelnut oil
1 T olive oil
2 T red wine vinegar
1 t Dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste

In a jar or small cup, mix the oils, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper. Place the greens in a salad bowl and pour the dressing over. Massage to coat. Add the nuts, pears, and cheese.

*My dried pears are extremely leathery. I think I dried them about a day too long. So I put them in a small bowl with water to cover, then microwave them for one minute. They get soft enough to chop without giving me carpal tunnel syndrome, and are just slightly juicy, but not hydrated. You only need to do this if the pears are hard. If they’re soft, like raisins, just chop them without the soak. (Then I use the pear water to mix the baby food for Kiki.)

Goat Cheese Spread

4 ounces goat cheese
2-4 T Trader Joe’s India Relish, or some other spicy chutney
3 T currants

Mix all in a bowl. This stuff is great on crackers. I had something like this once at Trader Joe’s, when they were giving out samples. I bought 5 jars of the India Relish right then, because I liked it so much. I guess if you don’t have goat cheese, you could do it with cream cheese, but it wouldn’t have that tang.

Next Page »