Category Archives: Salads

Caesar salad, citrus-hearts of Palm & fennel salad, Asian slaw, broccoli slaw, roasted beets salad with feta and mint

CT Style in The Bender Kitchen with Summertime Recipes!

CT Style in The Bender Kitchen with Summertime Recipes!

 

 

 

 

Back on CT Style in The Bender Kitchen with Ryan Kristafer and Teresa Dufour this past Thursday morning!  I feel so fortunate to be working with such a wonderful group of people at WTNH Channel 8 who make it so fun to share The Traveling Epicurean recipes with all of you.

My goal for this segment was to show you a couple of creative and really delicious ideas for all your summertime produce. Panzanella and Berries in Dreamy Cream came to mind.

One of the wonderful things about making these dishes is the abundance and variety you have to choose from at the farmers markets in the summer. The incredible flavors in this Panzanella recipe go without saying. All the aroma’s from the fresh herbs, basil, parsley, thyme & oregano to the fresh vegetables like the heirloom tomatoes, garlic, cucumbers, red onions really get you salavating. The creaminess from the fresh mozzarella and the crunchy from the homemade croutons balance it all out.

As for the Berries in Dreamy Cream, you can whip this one up in a matter of minutes as well. I’ve been making this sauce for over 20 years and always get the same delightful response from guests after their first bite. You would never think that melting Fluff and cream cheese together could make such a delectable sauce on fresh berries. It’s a sensation you have to treat your self to and then you’ll know what I’m talking about.

For other scrumptious, easy go to summertime dishes you’ve got to check out my Salsa 101, Best Guacamole Ever, Zucchini Spaghetti,  Fresh Grarden Tomato Sauce or Roasted Garlic & Cannelini Bean Dip ! ENJOY!

Panzanella at Chef Marco’s

Panzanella at Chef Marco’s

Juicy heirloom tomatoes, creamy mozzarella and homemade golden croutons packed with garlic, purple onions, cucumbers and lots of fresh herbs make up this perfectly scrumptious summertime salad called Panzanella! Basil, parsley, oregano, thyme and a special dijon sauce really give this refreshing salad a delicious flavor and brightness.

I was recently able to coordinate schedules with my foodie friend Chef Marco so he could share his Panzanella recipe with you. Marco and his wife Sheryl, another big foodie, had this amazing dish at their house last summer and it still leaves a fresh impression on my mind. Probably because of all the fresh ingredients that come together with bursting flavor on your first bite.

Even though you can make this Panzanella all year long you couldn’t have a more perfect dish to make with the fresh summertime produce the local vendors offer at the farmers markets! Enjoy and make sure to check out Salsa 101, Salmon B.L.T. Slider’s, Lobster Mac N’ Cheese or Death by Chocolate Meringue Pie for your next get together!

You need to check out the WTNH Channel 8, “CT Style Morning Show” where I featured THIS recipe with Ryan Kristafer and Teresa Dufour! So much fun cooking with them!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients for the Panzanella Salad (NOTE: it always a good idea to toast croutons the day before if possible)

  • 1 loaf sour dough bread or ciabatta loaf – make croutons out of the whole loaf using 3 1/2 cups only for this Panzanella Salad, saving the rest of the croutons in a ZipLoc baggie in the freezer for future panzanella dishes!
  • 2 lbs assorted tomatoes, reds, yellow, tiger, heirlooms, etc. cut into 1″ pieces – Ratio is a little more tomatoes to bread
  • 1-2 cup fresh mozzarella cut into 1″ cubes
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced European cucumber, sliced in 1/2 and seeded…run a small spoon down the center of the cucumber to remove inner seeds
  • 1/2 cup thinly slice purple onion
  • 2 tsp garlic puree -put thru garlic press (1 tsp is for the special dressing below, 1 tsp for Panzanella)
  • 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper
  • fresh herbs: 1/2 cup chopped basil, 1 tsp chopped oregano, 1/2 tsp thyme, 1/4 cup parsley…all finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 special sauce recipe below

Directions for the Salad:

  1. Pre-heat Covection oven to 400º
  2. Make special sauce recipe below and set aside
  3. Cut up sour dough or ciabatta loaf into 1″ cube and place on cookie tray lined with foil
  4. Drizzle 1/4 cup olive oil all over the cubed up bread pieces and sprinkle with s & p
  5. Bake the bread until deep golden , about 12 minutes …keep an eye on it not to burn
  6. Let croutons cool completely
  7. Cut up tomatoes and fresh mozzarella into approx. 1 ” cubed pieces
  8. Cut cucumber in 1/2 length wise
  9. Peel and seed cucumber running a small spoon down the center to remove seeds then thinly slice cucumber half moons
  10. Cut 1 purple onion in 1/2 and thinly slice
  11. Put garlic thru garlic press
  12. Add tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, garlic puree, herbs and mozzarella to a large bowl
  13. Then add in the croutons, drizzle 1/3 cup of special sauce over salad
  14. Toss and serve immediately…MMM!
  15. NOTE: Add in everything but the croutons and special sauce until right before you are ready to enjoy the Panzanella salad! ENJOY!

Ingredients for ther Special Dressing:

  • 1 heaping tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp garlic puree
  • 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup exta-virgin olive oil

Directions for dressing:

  1. Add first 4 ingrdients to a small bowl and slowly drizzle in while continuously whisking 1/4 cup olive oil (the dijon will help to emusify dressing)

Seared Scallops

Seared Scallops

Seared scallops are so gosh darn delicious you really don’t need anything else to accompany them. They have a succulent and creamy texture that’s so tender they melt in your mouth when cooked correctly. All that is needed to sear sea scallop’s is a hot non-stick pan, a couple tablespoons of olive oil, butter for basting at the end, a squeeze of fresh lemon and violà, you have an amazing seafood dish in 4 minutes.

Butter is just one of additions to seafood that always seems to give one last flavor boost. That’s why I have you baste the scallops in the last few seconds in the show. Butter makes everything better, right? You can’t get any easier then making scallops in mere minutes. It is best to use a non-stick pan to sear these though because it will make for a smooth ride home and super easy to flip them over to get that golden sear on the other side of the scallop.

You really need to try my cold cucumber and fennel soup to go with your seared scallops. The flavors you will get from all the vegetables and herbs in the soup to the creamy scallops will put you over the top. The green goddess sauce II goes without saying when paired up with the seared scallops. If I’m serving the scallops for an appetizer I set a small bowl of green goddess sauce right in the middle of a platter for dunking and scallops placed all around…YUM!

You may want to add something hardy to compliment the fish so if you haven’t tried my family recipe for the best pasta fagioli you will ever have you should get on the ball. You could go the zucchini spaghetti route or even my amazing melt-a-away homemade gnocchi with a bolognese sauce, and who doesn’t love sticky buns with their coffee for dessert!

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Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Heat non-stick pan to high heat
  2. Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste on both side of the scallops
  3. Add 2 tbsp of olive oil and begin to add scallops
  4. If you have a medium size pan you will have to do this in 2 batches
  5. Sear scallops about 2 minutes on each side until golden
  6. Optional: add 1 tbsp butter and baste scallops in the last 20 seconds
  7. Take off the heat and squeeze 1/2 lemon over scallops
  8. Remove scallops immediately from hot pan to a serving dish
  9. Plate each dish with a sautéed spinach in the center, top with scallops and drizzle with green goddess sauce around outer edge of the plate…enjoy!
  10. OR top cold cucumber & fennel soup with seared scallops!

 

Gourmet Caesar Salad

Gourmet Caesar Salad

Caesar salads are probably one of my favorite salads of all time. So many wonderful flavors and textures in this combination from the crunchy garlic croutons (shown below) to the sharpness of the Reggiano Parmesano shaved on top. Then there’s a creaminess with the grated Parmesan and dijon in the actual dressing itself and a tang from the lemon and Dijon. Let’s not forget about that savory flavor in the undertones that you just can’t put your finger on with the anchovy paste and Worcestershire sauce. This Caesar salad is a winner all around!

You will really like how perfectly simple this recipe is and how you can totally make the croutons ahead of time, even weeks ahead. One of the reasons I love this recipe is the make ahead concept which makes our busy lives more enjoyable. You can make my homemade garlic croutons weeks ahead and keep them fresh in a Ziploc baggie in the freezer. Then make my gourmet Caesar salad dressing the morning of your event  storing it in a container in the refrigerator until needed. Last but not least the romaine, which you can clean and cut up the night before storing that in a Ziploc baggie while taking the air out ensuring the freshness as I show you in my VIDEO. Cutting up the romaine into 1/2″ strips is key to serving this at a party or picnic making it easy to eat  and eliminating the need for unnecessary utensils.

Now there’s the whole dilemma on whether or not to use a raw egg yolk. If I am having a small group of foodie friends over I would definitely add in a raw egg yolk to my Caesar salad dressing because it makes it that much more decadent. If you have never tried it with a farm fresh or organic egg yolk yet you should definitely treat yourself! When I do use an egg yolk I drizzle in the full half cup of olive oil and also add in an extra tablespoon or two of rice wine vinegar and lemon juice . Adding in a tablespoon extra of each will give it a nice balance. It’s basically to get the desired thickness you want because that added yolk offers up an extra thick and creaminess to the dressing this way you thin it out a pinch. For the most part when I make this gourmet Caesar salad for parties and picnics where I’m not sure if there will be someone there with an allergy I play it safe and omit the raw egg. And NO, I am not worried about salmonella with the raw egg because I only use farm fresh eggs directly from the farm or organic brown eggs from the food market. The ONLY time I would buy bulk white eggs from the store is when we are boiling and dyeing eggs for a holiday like Easter. You have to be picky about your ingredients, even the eggs are very important.

A large shallow dish like the one I have in the photos and in my video show is a great investment for salads like this. I have found many gorgeous platters and bowls like this at very economical prices at stores like Home Goods and TJ Max…you should definitely check out those deals! When I have many friends over for dinner I often serve the Caesar salad in that large shallow bowl and if it’s a more intimate dinner party I even plate up individual size portions which also make for a pretty presentation. 

Not only can this bold full flavored salad hold up on its own as an appetizer but you can certainly pear it up with some crab cakeslazy mans lasagna, lobster mac & cheese, or some pulled beef taco’s and ending with chocolate eclairs would just put it over the top!

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CAESAR SALAD DRESSING 

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CAESAR SALAD DRESSING RECIPE:

  • 1 large/2 medium cloves of garlic put thru garlic press
  • 1 egg yolk farm fresh or organic brown eggs ONLY – EGG YOLK OPTIONAL
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon – Grey Poupon or Maille
  • 1 Tsp anchovie paste
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp fine blk pepper
  • 2 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar “seasoned” (this comes original or seasoned …I prefer seasoned)
  • between 1/3 – 1/2 cup good olive oil
  • 1/4-1/3 cup grated Reggiano Parmesan
  • 2 good dashes of your favorite hot sauce (I use Siracha in this recipe)

DIRECTIONS for the CAESAR DRESSING:

  1. In a medium bowl add garlic thru press, anchovie paste, salt, pepper and Dijon
  2. Mash these items together with  the back of a spoon to combine and form a paste in a wooden bowl
  3. Transfer paste to a large glass bowl
  4. Add in 2 dashes of Worcestershire sauce, dash of Siracha and rice wine vinegar/ lemon juice mixture
  5. Separate egg yolk from white and add to glass bowl (EGG YOLK OPTIONAL) and whisk immediately
  6. Then very slowly whisk in olive oil so it emulsifies JUST DRIZZLE IN DROPS AT A TIME or IT WILL NOT EMULSIFY and you will have to start over
  7. NOTE: Adding in the egg yolk makes it super easy to emulsify the dressing
  8. Lastly, whisk in 1/3 grated Reggiano Parmesan
  9. Put the dressing into a canning jar for ease and pop it into the frig til you are ready to use
  10. Be sure to take out 30 minutes before you use the dressing so it can come to room temperature
  11. Will be good for a few days in the frig

DIRECTIONS- for Assembling the Caesar Salad:

  1. Cut ends off of romaine hearts then cut them in half length wise
  2. Wash and spin leaves
  3. Lay the leaves down on paper towels to catch any additional moisture
  4. Put 3 or 4 pieces at a time layered on top of one another and slice into 1/2″ strips which make it ideal for a party so there no need for a knife
  5. Here you can put the cut romaine pieces into large freezer Ziploc baggies and into the frig til you are ready to assemble the Caesar salad OR
  6. Put into a large shallow bowl, add dressing, and toss
  7. Top with shredded Parmesan and Italian garlic croutons (shown below) and mangia-mangia!

Garlic Croutons

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INGREDIENTS FOR GARLIC CROUTONS: Makes 12 -13 cups of Croutons – 1 Ex-Lg Ziploc Freezer Baggie of Croutons:

  • 1- 1 1/2  large loafs of good Italian bead (14-15 cups croutons-use 1/2 stick butter and 3 tbsp olive oil if you have 10 cup of bread cubes)
    • 4 large garlic cloves put thru garlic press
    • 1/4 cup olive oil
    • 3/4 stick butter (salted) melted
    • 4 tsp garlic granules (not powder) – Sprinkle 2 tsp per cookie tray
    • 1 tsp salt
    • A couple dashes of your favorite hot sauce Siracha -you can find this with the other hot sauces at the super market
    • 2 cookie trays

DIRECTIONS FOR GARLIC CROUTONS:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400º
  2. Slice bread into 3/4″ slices length wise
  3. Then slice into 3/4″ squares, you don’t want them to be perfect – that’s what’s lovely about hand made croutons they don’t look like they came from a box
  4. Melt 3/4 stick of butter
  5. In a large mixing bowl add 1/4 cup olive oil, 3/4 stick melted butter, 4 garlic cloves thru garlic press, 1 Tsp salt, and whisk  to mix
  6. Divide this mixture into two and pour onto the 2 cookie trays spreading them evenly all over the tray
  7. Divide up Italian bread cubes into 2 and put onto the 2 cookie trays right on the olive oil mixture
  8. Stir the cut up bread cubes all around the cookie tray to evenly coat and soak up all of the olive oil mixture. I use a pastry scraper (see photo) to do this…a tool which I use a lot!
  9. NOW sprinkle 2 Tsp of garlic granules on each of the cookie trays filled with Italian garlic croutons
  10. Put into the oven for 12 minutes til golden
  11. IMPORTANT – they go quickly at the end so you really need to watch them so they don’t burn
  12. Let the Italian garlic croutons cool before putting them into a Freezer Ziploc baggie
  13. I usually keep them on the counter for a few days then throw them into the freezer to store and keep fresh

Homemade Blue Cheese Dressing

Homemade Blue Cheese Dressing


BLUEI can’t think of anything more annoying then being out at a restaurant where they serve up a beautiful mescaline salad or heirloom tomatoes with blue cheese dressing from a bottle! My homemade gourmet blue cheese dressing recipe is gosh darn easy to make and all done in the food processor!

I have been making this homemade blue cheese dressing for over 20 years and it’s one of my favorite recipes. I love all blues whether they are pungent, and or creamy from Stilton, to Maytag, Danish, and Gorgonzola, and to die for sweet and creamy Cambozola. Last but not least is my Italian Gorgonzola Dolce which I make an incredible pasta sauce with (that’s not really “last” …the list of great blues goes on and on). Not to stray from the homemade blue cheese dressing recipe but you really ought to check out my gourmet Gorganzola Dolce Cream Sauce & Fresh Thyme that I serve on pasta or gnocchi featured on May 15, 2014 which you can make in 5 minutes blind folded!

The Chart House Restaurant makes one of my favorite blue cheese dressings and that’s where my recipe was hatched from. Of course, I changed up amounts, procedures and ingredients adding in several others until I got the taste I wanted and this is how I have been making it for over 20 years. My homemade blue cheese dressing is slightly chunky, on the creamier side where you sprinkle extra crumbled blue to the top of your salad at the end. The consistency is really a matter of personal preference. You can actually make it as smooth or chunky as you want by “pulsing” only when blending the ingredients in the food processor. You can also pulse til smooth in the food processor, then throw in a handful of crumbled blue and finish with a gentle mix using a spatula… it’s your prerogative to change it up how you see fit. I offer up the great list of ingredients and now you can be creative on texture!

buffdipI always make this dressing when I make my chicken wings or when I buy blue for my Buffalo Chicken Dip that’s always the first appetizer gone at my parties! Serving the blue cheese dressing up with the chicken wings and all of my favorite veggies on the side you can’t go wrong. Another great dinner idea would be layering grilled beef or chicken fillets, a couple of thickly sliced heirloom tomatoes, a drizzle of my homemade blue cheese dressing and a sprinkle of crumbled blue with crispy chunks of bacon on top of that … hot diggety! When you see how easy and crazy good this blue cheese dressing is you will never be happy with bottle again!

icemohitoYou may want to add in some other yummy appetizers like Homemade Salsa, or Spanakopita with Metaxa Mojito’s, and for an entré try Homemade Potato-Ricotta Gnocchi, easier than you think to make! You certainly shouldn’t forget dessert of Honey-Dripping Baklava or Death by Chocolate Meringue Pie! 🙂

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 2/3 cup (1/2 cup if you like a milder flavor) of Danish, Maytag, Stilton or what ever your favorite crumbling blue may be
  • PLUS 1/3 cup blue cheese extra for sprinkling on top of dressing when you plate the salads
  • NOTE: Should have beautiful blue veining in the blue cheese and Maytag and Stilton are not as crumbly as Danish so you will probably have to cut up with a knife instead of breaking it up with your hands
  • 1 cup Helman’s Mayonaise (I ONLY use Helman’s)
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp “seasoned” rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp champagne vinegar
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1/2 tsp Siracha (Asian hot sauce you can find at local Stop & Shop with all “hot Sauces”)
  • 1/2 tsp Colemans Dry Mustard
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp finely ground pepper
  • 1 Recipe Buffalo Chicken Dip

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Put all above ingredients into food processor EXCEPT 1/3 CUP OF BLUE and pulse slowly for 15 seconds until you get the desired smoothness…You may want to take off the top and get a better peak (you are saving that extra 1/3 cup of blue cheese to crumble on top when plating)
  2. You can also pulse til smooth, pour the dressing into a large bowl, toss in a handful of crumbled blue (that 1/3 cup) and mix in gently with a spatula and voilà!
  3. Dress salad or vegetables and sprinkle with extra crumbled blue on top… Enjoy!

After all this cheesiness  you may want to try my Perfectly Chocolate” Hershey Cakes, my chocolate crackle cookies, or chocolate pecan pie! YUM!

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Cucumber Salad

Cucumber Salad

This homemade cucumber salad is my version of tzatziki sauce which is a Greek cucumber yogurt dip except I use 1/2 Greek yogurt and 1/2 sour cream. My mother has been making this dish since I was little although mine is a somewhat different version. You can have it as a side with lunch or dinner or even jazz up chicken and steak sandwiches or vegetarian dishes with humus and mango salsa and or guacamole…YUM! . It’s really refreshing and bright on your palate. The Vadalia onion, which is the sweetest, is a wonderful addition to a Tzatziki sauce and fresh dill is always best. The cucumber and onion can be grated instead of sliced to make it more of a sauce then a side dish.

I use thinly sliced cucumbers instead of grating here, garlic, onion and cumin granules in this gourmet sauce which really develop nicely in flavor as you let them sit for a bit. This homemade cucumber salad is certainly not for summer only! I promise you will be delighted with my cucumber salad  recipe…let me know what you think. Enjoy.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 cucumbers peeled with thin stripes left on them (only 3 – 1/4 ” stripes) AND sliced PAPER thin on Mandolin or carefully with a knife
  • 1 lg Vadalia onion sliced paper thin with mandolin or sharp knife
  • 1/2 c. Greek yugurt
  • 1/2 c. sour cream
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp seasoned rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp garlic granules
  • 1 tsp onion granules
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt to release water from cucumbers and onions
  • s&p to taste at the end

Directions:

  1. Put sliced cucumbers and onion into a lg Ziploc with 1/2 tsp salt and let sit for 1-2 hrs. or over night
  2. Gently squeeze cucumber-onion mixture and drain liquid from Ziploc
  3. Put into a lg mixing bowl with the next 8 ingredients like in photos
  4. Mix with spatula
  5. Add desired s&p
  6. Can chill and serve or serve immediately …mangia mangia

Caesar Salad

Caesar Salad

Caesar salads are probably my favorite of all time. So many wonderful flavors and textures in this combination from crunchy and garlicky with the Italian garlic croutons, to a sharpness from the shaved Reggiano Parmesano sprinkled on the top of the romaine and a creaminess with the grated Parmesan in the actual dressing itself. Then there is a tang from the lemon and Dijon, and an extra savory flavor in the undertones that you just can’t put your finger on but tastes delicious from the anchovie paste and Worcestershire sauce!

Wow, you will really like the simplicity of this recipe and you can make the croutons a day or more ahead of time and make the dressing the morning of your lunch or dinner. It makes for such a nice presentation if you can use a large shallow dish like the one in the photos.  When I have friends over for dinner I often serve the Caesar salad in that large shallow bowl and then add slices of grilled or sautéed chicken breasts, or grilled salmon pieces going all around the outer edges and everyone loves it. Have fun with this and enjoy!

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CAESAR SALAD DRESSING RECIPE:

  • 1 large/2 medium cloves of garlic put thru garlic press
  • 1 egg yolk farm fresh or organic brown eggs ONLY – EGG YOLK OPTIONAL
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon – Grey Poupon or Maille
  • 1 Tsp anchovie paste
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp fine blk pepper
  • 2 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar “seasoned” (this comes original or seasoned …I prefer seasoned)
  • between 1/3 – 1/2 cup good olive oil
  • 1/4-1/3 cup grated Reggiano Parmesan
  • 2 good dashes of your favorite hot sauce (I use Siracha in this recipe)

DIRECTIONS for the CAESAR DRESSING:

  1. In a medium bowl add garlic thru press, anchovie paste, salt, pepper and Dijon
  2. Mash these items together with  the back of a spoon to combine and form a paste in a wooden bowl
  3. Transfer paste to a large glass bowl
  4. Add in 2 dashes of Worcestershire sauce, dash of Siracha and rice wine vinegar/ lemon juice mixture
  5. Separate egg yolk from white and add to glass bowl and whisk immediately
  6. Then very slowly whisk in olive oil so it emulsifies JUST DRIZZLE IN DROPS AT A TIME or IT WILL NOT EMULSIFY and you will have to start over
  7. Lastly, whisk in 1/3 grated Reggiano Parmesan
  8. Put the dressing into a canning jar for ease and pop it into the frig til you are ready to use
  9. Be sure to take out 30 minutes before you use the dressing so it can come to room temperature
  10. Will be good for a few days in the frig

Directions for Caesar Salad:

  1. Cut ends off of romaine hearts then cut them in half length wise
  2. Wash and spin leaves
  3. Lay the leaves down on paper towels to catch any additional moisture
  4. Put 3 or 4 pieces at a time layered on top of one another and slice into 1/2″ strips
  5. Here you can put the cut romaine pieces into large freezer Ziploc baggies and into the frig til you are ready to assemble the Caesar salad OR
  6. Put into a large shallow bowl, add dressing, and toss
  7. Top with shredded Parmesan and Italian garlic croutons and mangia!

 

Delicious Salads at R.J. Julia’s

Delicious Salads at R.J. Julia’s

It’s so nice to have a local book store like R.J. Julia’s right in own own town of Madison, CT with a gourmet bistro to boot. R.J. Julia’s café serves freshly made soups, salads, sandwiches and paninis. The café also has a full espresso bar and we can’t forget those truly amazing cupcakes that come from from La Rosticceria in Guilford. Recently I was there and had their chicken and apple salad that came with a lovely balsamic-apple vinaigrette that was both tangy and fruity. The chicken was moist and flavorful and I loved the crumbled, sweet and creamy blue cheese. It went so well with the chewy cranberries, sliced chicken breast, and apples . Being a big crouton aficionado I adored their homemade croutons that they sprinkled on top of the salad too.

The atmosphere is very sweet and relaxing inside. It’s probably a good idea to get there somewhat on the early side (before noon) because they definitely have a loyal client base and fill up fast for lunch. You won’t be disappointed that’s for sure. So next time you are strolling down main street you should pop into R.J. Julia’s Bistro for a gourmet nibble. If you are a big salad lover you may want to try my cold Asian shrimp and rice noodle salad, roasted beet salad with mint & feta, fennel and citrus salad, or follow up with my melt in your mouth turkey stuffed peppers or easy crock pot pulled pork tenderloin with BBQ sauce and whiskey.

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HAND CRAFTED SALADS
COBB  chicken, tomato, avocado, bleu cheese, bacon, egg  11
ROSTI  goat cheese, dried cranberries, spiced walnuts  9
CAESAR  romaine, chicken, shaved parmesan, caesar dressing, house croutons  10
ARUGULA  fresh pear, bleu cheese, spiced walnuts, lemon dressing  9
SCOOPS  your choice of one, two or three scoops of our freshly made tuna,
chicken or egg salad over  fresh greens with tomato and cucumber  6/8/10
CHICKEN & APPLE  chicken, apple slices, dried cranberries, bleu cheese,
red onion,  white  balsamic apple vinaigrette  10

all salads come with house made croutons
     house salad dressings ~ creamy balsamic vinaigrette, white balsamic apple vinaigrette, lemon dressing
we also have ~ asian sesame ginger, honey mustard and caesar

Cold Asparagus-Ginger Salad

Cold Asparagus-Ginger Salad

Wow…this cold asparagus-ginger salad is such a God send in the busy spring and summer days when you want something refreshing, super flavorful and a total make ahead dish so you can focus on having fun with your family and friends. The longer this sits in the frig the better the flavors get so make this the night before and that will be one less thing to do when you have to grill the Asian salmon, skirts steaks, or sautéed chicken breasts with a roasted garlic & cannellini purée, or perfectly mashed potatoes with red onion. The dressing with the asparagus is really my go to Asian dressing that I use for many dishes and you should add this to your repertoire also. With the toasted sesame seeds you should always toast more then you need and keep them in a jar or Ziploc because for such a simple task it adds a lovely nutty flavor to any dish.

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Ingredients: Makes enough for 6 people

  • 2 lbs. fresh asparagus
  • 1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp good olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar “seasoned” (I get the seasoned)
  • 1 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp Tamari (a dark brewed soy sauce…you can just use 2 Tbsp of reduced sodium soy if you don’t have this on hand but it’s a delicious item to add to your cabinet)
  • 1 Tbsp fresh grated ginger
  • 1 Tsp sugar
  • juice from 1/2 lime

Directions:

  1. Toast sesame seeds on medium heat in a small pan shaking the pan periodically back and forth
  2. This happens quickly once they heat up…it will only take about 3-4 minutes so it’s best not to leave the pan or the stove so they turn golden evenly
  3. Once the sesame seeds are golden remove from the pan, place in a ramekin and set aside
  4. In a large bowl mix together soy, toasted sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, lime juice, olive oil, fresh grated ginger with a microplaner, sugar and 1 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds and set dressing aside
  5. Bend asparagus to find the proper “break” point then cut the ends off to even them up
  6. Put asparagus in cold salted water and bring to a simmer
  7. Cook til tender but NOT mushy
  8. Drain and give them ice bath to shock …don’t need to make them cold just want to shock to retain vibrant color
  9. Dry off asparagus on a paper towel and place on a serving platter
  10. Cut dried asparagus into 4 pieces and add to dressing bowl, toss and pop into the frig to marinate the flavors for 1 hour to overnight
  11. Serve with your favorite protein and sprinkle a dusting of toasted sesame seeds on top

 

 

Asian Shrimp & Rice Noodle Salad

Asian Shrimp & Rice Noodle Salad

This Asian Shrimp & Noodle Salad is best when you make it the night before so all these wonderful herbs and oils can marinate the rice noodles and shrimp. Granted, sometimes it just can’t be helped because the flavors are so bright and delicious no one can wait for the next day. This recipe originated from my good friend Karen who is a true foodie! I of course have tweaked the ingredients as I do with most recipes. I used rice noodles making it gluten friendly instead of pasta which you can use as well…I love it with pasta also but I feel that using the rice noodles makes this a lighter dish. I have also added in carrots using a lemon zester which makes spaghetti like strands and I love what the color does for the dish not to mention orange is my favorite color…can you tell? When you buy the carrots be sure to buy the loose carrots with the greens still intact because they are so much sweeter then the packaged ones especially for something like this where they play one of the main characters to the story.

You can pretty much buy rice noodles anywhere but I have to tell you one of my favorite Asian markets is Hong Kong Grocery at 71 Whitney Ave., New Haven, CT. It’s on the corner of Trumble St. & Whitney Ave. and they have a Dim Sum Restaurant next door. You can get all your rice noodles, rice paper, rice wine vinegar, soy’s, a good size bag of sesame seeds and much more at the street level. Down stairs you will find the freshest, juiciest ginger you will ever have and the same for their daikon radish and garlic bulbs. I also buy some very durable and adorable Asian bowls there. It’s a great find and you should really try to stop in when you get the chance. This Asian shrimp and noodle salad would go great with some chocolate-avocado mousse, or Pavlova with fresh pineapple & berries for dessert!

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Ingredients – Serves 6-8 lunch or dinners:

  • 3/4 lb. rice noodles (linguine fini or fettuccine…I used a fettuccine size width in the pictures)
  • 1-1 1/2 lb. medium size peeled and deveined shrimp or cooked shrimp
  • 3/4 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup toasted sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup “seasoned” rice wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup oilve oil
  • juice from 1/2 lime
  • 2 Tbsp fresh grated ginger
  • 1 bunch sliced scallions (save 1/4 cup for garnish)
  • 5 medium-small size loose carrots (don’t use the packaged ones)
  • 1 cup cilantro (2/3 for dressing, 1/3 for garnish)
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 Tsp pepper
  • 3 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds
  • 1/2 Tsp Tabacsco or Siracha (a hot chili sauce sold right next to the Tabasco at the store) this of course if optional

Directions:

  1. If you have uncooked shrimp put into a medium pan with cold water, bring to a boil, turn down heat and simmer for 1 minute
  2. Drain the shrimp and run cold water over them or put into an ice bath, dry with paper towels and set aside
  3. Toast sesame seeds on medium heat in a small pan shaking the pan periodically back and forth
  4. This happens quickly once they heat up…it will only take about 3-4 minutes so it’s best not to leave the pan or the stove
  5. Once the sesame seeds are golden remove from the pan, place in a ramekin and set aside
  6. Peel and grate the carrots with a lemon zester and set aside
  7. Bring a large pan of water and 2 Tbsp salt to a boil and add 3/4 lb of rice noodles (or Pasta)
  8. Boil for 7 minutes and the drain and rinse with cold water
  9. In a large bowl add soy, toasted sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, lime juice, olive oil, ginger, scallions, cilantro, salt & pepper, Tabasco, 2 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds, shrimp, rice noodles and carrots and toss…so basically add everything together and toss till blended
  10. Put into the frig for at least 2 hours, preferably over night
  11. Serve in bowls and top with cilantro, scallion slices and a sprinkle of sesame seeds..YUM!