Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Hoppin John Salad With Pecan Vinaigrette

For my buddy Hayes...

For the salad
1/2 c long-grain white rice cooked
2 1/2 c black-eyed peas, cooked, chilled
1/2 c red bell pepper, seeded, 1/4 in dice
1/2 c green beans, blanched, shocked, cut 1 1/2 in long on bias
1/2 c green onions, chopped
2 c mixed baby field greens

For vinaigrette
2 tbsp cider vinegar
1/2 tsp brown sugar
1/2 c pecans, chopped, toasted
1/2 tsp thyme, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c veg oil
to taste, salt and black pepper

Combine rice, black-eyed peas, bell pepper, green beans, and green onions. Set aside.
Puree the vinaigrette ingredients except oil in food processor
Slowly drizzle in the oil. Adjust seasoning
Toss all but 6 tbsp of the vinaigrette with the black eyed peas mixture.
Toss mixed greens with the remaining vinaigrette and place as a bed on cold plates.
Mold 1 c of hoppin john mixture onto each plate of greens

Beets, Belgian Endive, and Feta Salad

This salad is a beautiful presentation and refreshing any time of year!

4 cups beets, mixed red (and golden if available), whole
7 tbsp walnut oil
2 tbsp tarragon vinegar
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
2 belgian endive, firm and white (and red if available)
1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
to taste salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 F
Leave on tails and 1 inch of stem on beets,rinse them and place on baking pan with 1/4in water, cover and bake beets until tender when pierced with knife- 25 to 40 minutes depending on size of beets.
Cool beets, then peel and dice into 1/2in cubes.
Mix 4 tbsp of oil,vinegar, salt, pepper to make vinaigrette.
Toss beets in half of vinaigrette
Toss walnuts with the remaining walnut oil, salt, and pepper.
Bake in 350F over 5 to 7 minutes or until they smell toasty. Set aside and cool.
Just before serving, peel endive leaves into individual leaf layers.
Arrange endive leaves into a spoke pattern on individual plates. Spoon beets into the center of plate on end of leaves
Lightly dress endive with vinaigrette. Sprinkle the feta cheese over the salad and top with walnuts.

Note: If walnut oil is not available, use olive oil and one teaspoon Dijon-style mustard.

Oven Dried Tomatoes and Goat Cheese Salsa

This one is a real crowd pleaser....

For oven dried tomatoes:
Preheat oven to 150. Cut tomatoes in half and spread on a cook sheet. Let dry in oven for 5 hours.

For salsa

12 oven dried roma tomatoes (see above)
1/3 cup goat cheese
20 leaves of fresh basil
2 tsp chipotle peppers
salt and pepper to taste

In food processor, pulse tomatoes, goat cheese, basil, chipotle peppers, salt, and pepper to make a chunky salsa. Serve on toasted french baguette slices or with white corn chips.

Oils and Reductions

Use these oils to enhance flavor of salads, pastas or even a toasted baguette.

Basil Oil

1/2 lb basil leaves
1 tsp salt
juice of one lemon
2 cups olive oil
Place basil leaves in boiling water for 10 seconds. Drain and quickly cool in cold water. Squeeze out all water and chop. Using blender of food processor, puree with salt and lemon juice and olive oil. Blend on highest speed until blended, several minutes. Strain through a coffee filter or cheesecloth.

Balsamic Reduction

4 1/2 cups good quality balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
In a saucepan on medium heat, reduce by half. (I usually don't need to do this last step but just in case.) You can thicken more by whisking in 2 tsp cornstarch mixed with 1/4 cup water.

Chile Oil

2 cujps vegetable oil
1/4 red chile flakes
1/4 cup spanish paprika
1/4 cup mexican chile powder
1/2 tsp salt

Whisk all ingredients together. In a medium sized heavy bottom pot on medium heat, cook mixture until chiles just start to brown. You do not want to burn them. Let cool to room temperature and strain through a coffee filter or cheesecloth.

Lemon Curry Oil

2 cups vegetable oil
1/2 cup madras curry powder
zest and juice of 2 lemons

Place all ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake until ingredients are well blended. Let sit 24 hours.