Monday, January 10, 2011

Indulge your resolution

Ten days into the new year... how is your resolution?  I have stepped rather slowly into my healthy resolution.  I only recently relinquished my weekday wine and this week's French Friday's post involves nearly two sticks of butter.  However, I have also resolved to be more positive and, therefore, decided to focus on my successful dinners; one in particular involving more leafy greens and less fermented grapes.  I first came across this beet salad during our spring 2010 CSA when fresh beets were delivered to our door each week.  With a creamy dressing and flecks of indulgent goat cheese this salad is a favorite mid week meal.  

Beet Salad with Goat Cheese
Recipe Created by: Guy Fieri

1/2 pound beets, cleaned with ends trimmed
1/2 TB olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly cracked pepper
1/3 cup pine nuts
4 ounces goat cheese
4 cups baby greens
4 cups baby spinach
Tarragon dressing, recipe follows
4 very thin slices red onion, separated

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Take a large sheet of aluminum foil, 12 X 18 and double it over.  Put the beets in the middle, drizzle with olive oil and season with the salt and pepper.  Bring the sides of the foil up around the beets to make a pouch.  Put in the hot oven and bake until the beets are tender, about 1 hour 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.  When cool enough to handle, gently peel off the skin and slice into julienne pieces, about 2 inches long by 1/2 inch thick. Chill until ready to use.  (I prefer to cut the beets into thick wedges and toss with the goat cheese, omitting the pine nuts.)
  3. Lightly toss the pine nuts in a small saute pan over medium-high heat for 3 to 4 minutes.  Remove to a plate or small bowl and cool.  Slice the goat cheese into 1/2 inch rounds and press the pine nuts onto both sides.  Chill until service. 
  4. When ready to serve, lightly toss the baby greens and the spinach together in a large bowl and dress the edge of your serving bowl with 1/4 cup of the tarragon dressing.  Toss the greens and then top with the beets and the goat cheese rounds.  Drizzle with additional dressing and serve immediately.  
Personally, I prefer to wedge the warm beets and toss them with the goat cheese. On the average day, I omit the pine nuts altogether and choose to throw in sliced radishes and cherry tomatoes.  Although this method offers less time in the kitchen, the original recipe produces a beautiful salad perfect for company.  The tarragon dressing is a triumph of its own.  Made from basic pantry staples, this is a creamy salvation for those craving Caesar salad when it is clearly the month for vinaigrette.

Tarragon Dressing
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 tsp dried tarragon
2 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 TB mayonnaise
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • In a small bowl or glass jar, combine all the ingredients, except the olive oil.  Whisk until well combined, then slowly drizzle in the olive oil.  This recipe works really well with a stick blender.  

Keep this salad on file and try it the next time you are tempted to cheat.  It is the perfect indulgence to put you back on a healthy track.

    Thursday, January 6, 2011

    Slow down and diet.... like the French

    For me, the month of December is 31 days of excused indulgence.  Dinners with family always include amazing food, fantastic wine and all the love your heart can take.   When the new year rolls around, I'm poised and ready to take on some challenges and lose the inevitable five to seven pounds picked up along the way. Determined to continue the French Friday's with Dorie, I flipped through the January recipe selections in search of something quasi diet-friendly.  After reluctantly vetoing the chocolate cake, I selected the paris mushroom soup.  Who knew I was in for not only a great lunch but the solution to a holiday heartache.

    I have hosted two Thanksgiving dinners in my life both involving tears and a runny version of Martha Stewart's green bean I know why: impatience.  Fresh off a wonderful holiday, my soul was a bit more patient than usual and I didn't rush through my recipe.  I patiently waited as my mushrooms released and absorbed their liquid. ALL of their liquid.  My, how the mushrooms shrink... my, how much liquid I have been leaving in my green bean, how much stress I have mistakenly taken out on my husband who interestingly enough always tells me to slow down.

    After properly reducing the mushrooms I added the white wine and once again let the liquid fully absorb.  At this stage, I was a mere 20 minutes and a swirl of the immersion blender from a lovely meal.  I took Dorie's recommendation and placed the raw salad into the bowl before ladling the hot soup atop.  My spring onions were a bit too strong, however the variety of textures gave this simple soup beautiful depth.

    This recipe was fantastic, and though mushrooms are not a favorite in my house, I will keep it on file for holidays and dinner parties.  I have come to love Around my French Table not only for the thoughtful instruction, but the array of recipes that call for a short list of ingredients and produce a dish with immense flavor.  Dare I say that Around my French Table is not only teaching me French cuisine, but  flavors in general?  Seems high time to slow down and enjoy 2011.