My brave Vermont quest to bring together food-love and mom-life.


Archive for the ‘salad’

Great Cheap Lemon Dip 1

Posted on March 18, 2011 by crankycheryl

I’ve got this great post about a Vermont local-style mulligatawny that’s all ready to go, but CrankyGreg just made me feel bad.    He tells me I’ve been holding out on you, because I haven’t been telling the whole story of how we eat so well on our tight little budget, and that that’s what makes our food life actually interesting.

Actually he said something more like, “This is great, and this is the kind of thing you should be blogging about, babe.”  I’ll do better at sharing tips and strategies for how we do it.   But he’s anyway right.  Now let me start to make it up to you with this recipe that typifies my low rent-great food approach to shopping and eating.

You know that we’re passionate holders of a CSA membership, and because of that I don’t tend to eat vegetables besides those that we pick up down at the farm … unless they’re in the reduced bin at the co-op.  And if they’re cheap enough they are totally fair game.  There’s a special sort of sanctity that drapes over things once they’ve been remaindered, however inappropriate they might have been before.  Out of season organic asparagus for half-off?  Yes please.

Of course I love to eat locally grown good Vermont food for all the usual reasons.  But I guiltlessly supplement it with more exotic flavors and additions from afar that I tend to pick up cheap at our excellent local outlets.  Which is how I ended up with this very curious and delicious lemon-pumpkin seed-turmeric goo in a pouch for just 50 cents.

Fabulous Lemon Dip with Roasted Asparagus
Serves about 4 people as a light appetizer

1.  Make the asparagus:

Preheat oven to 400.

Snap tough ends off the bottom of:

  • 1 bunch of washed asparagus spears

Toss spears with:

  • 2 T. olive oil

Then place on baking pan, sprinkle with salt, and roast for about 20 minutes – until bright green and just getting tender.  Place aside and let cool to room temperature.

(I also had a couple of carrots around as well as some Jerusalem artichoke I had also gotten out of the cheap bin at our co-op, and I sliced those into dipping-sized pieces and put them aside as well.)

2.  Make the dip by whisking together:

  • 1 c. low fat plain yogurt (hey BTV friends – do you know you can get a quart of plain organic yogurt at Cheese Trader’s for $1.99?)
  • 2 T. heavy cream
  • 2 T. of this lemon confit sauce, or substitute 1 T. olive oil, 1 T.  lemon juice, 1/2 t. turmeric, 1/4 t. salt

Then we brought it over to our neighbor’s for dinner, where E. &  Z. staged a home invasion and attempted to appropriate all of the available toys, and the moms sat in the kitchen with vegetables to dip and a glass of wine.  I ended up liking this so much that I went back and bought two more packets of the lemon sauce for the freezer.   With spring and summer vegetables and salads right around the corner,  I know I’ll be using them up.

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Insalata Caprese – Vegan 0

Posted on August 03, 2010 by crankycheryl

The vegan minister at our church retired recently, and we sent him off in fine Unitarian style with a big potluck picnic, music, bounce castle, and all manner of wholesome fun and well-wishing.

Though I knew most people in attendance are happy omnivores, I couldn’t bring myself to make something that the guest of honor wouldn’t eat.  And a quick review of what was in the fridge turned into this take on the summer classic, which seemed like one of those why-didn’t-I-think-of-this-before sorts of dishes once it occurred to me.   There was something especially fab about having it on the church picnic table right next to the genuine orange carrot-Jello mold, which I did indeed help myself to a big day-glo scoop of.

Vegan Insalata Caprese
Serves 8

Prepare tofu:

  • 1 lb. package extra firm (not silken) tofu, pressed, then sliced fairly thickly, and marinated for 1 hour in 1 cup of water with 1/2 t. kosher salt and 2 cloves chopped garlic

While the tofu’s marinating, reduce to 1/3 cup over low simmer:

  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar (don’t waste super-high quality stuff on this – run of the mill stuff will be fine)

Pat the tofu dry, then layer it in whatever shape suits you and your serving dish with:

  • 4 ripe tomatoes, sliced into pieces about the size of the tofu
  • 1 cup large basil leaves

Drizzle the vinegar over the top, then top with:

  • 2 T. olive oil
  • kosher salt & freshly ground pepper to tastev

Voila.  Now you’ve made the vegans happy.

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Sweet Summer Salad 0

Posted on July 27, 2010 by crankycheryl

Colorful, easy and refreshing, this is a nice use for all the stuff starting to show up or wind up here in the gardens and CSA shares.

Making it also marked the last use of my favorite bowl, which has finally cracked through to such a degree that liquids seep out.  It’s now on the porch with some straggly hot pepper plants limping over its side.

Sweet Summer Salad
4 servings

  • 4 ears of corn, boiled for 30 seconds (yes, only 30), and kernels cut from the cobs
  • 1 qt. edible pod peas (snow or sugar snaps), strings removed, blanched for 30 seconds

  • 3 cups watermelon, either cubes or balls
  • 1 T. lemon or lime juice
  • 1 t. fish sauce or umeboshi vinegar
  • 1 dash vinegar based hot sauce

Mix it all together and serve cold or at room temperature.

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We Made Mozzarella! 3

Posted on July 03, 2010 by crankycheryl

It was an early summer day and there in the cheese section was a bright and cheery box of ingredients put together by Ricki the Cheese Queen.  It was about $25, said it made 30 batches of mozzarella and/or ricotta and I had a little extra money and couldn’t resist.

So I got some milk, invited friends over and off we went.

We thought the boys would love making cheese, but the process turns out to be a lot of cooking and then touching hot things.  Instead they turned out to be more interested in this:

So we mom-types got a look at the ingredients in the box …

And then, repeating to myself, “pay attention, pay attention, — ooh look, a glass of wine! — pay attention,” we got started.

We learned this is really important before you start:

  1. You can use raw (if you’re a fan) or pasteurized – but not ultra-pasteurized – milk.
  2. Get thee some chlorine-free water, either by buying filtered or letting your chlorinated water sit uncovered for a few hours to let the chlorine evaporate.  I don’t know why this matters but the Queen hath spoken.

We dissolved 1/4 rennet tablet in 1/4 c. of that chlorine-free water.

Then mixed the citric acid in with 1 c. more chlorine-free water.

Then we poured the milk into a big stainless steel pot, stirred in the citric acid, and heated the milk to 90F.  First it looks like this:

And then before I knew it, it looked like this.  This was definitely the first time I’ve ever been excited to see curdled milk, and the first time I can remember ever considering that “curdled” doesn’t mean “went bad” but does in fact mean “form curds as if to make cheese.”  Awesome.

Then it was time to stir in the dissolved rennet.  Ricki’s instructions say to stir with “an up and down motion,” and I have no idea what the hell that means since I’m pretty sure that stirring means something that happens in a circular fashion.  So I stirred, making sure to sort of fold the top part of the stuff into the bottom part of the stuff and hoped that was good enough.

Then it was time to cover the pot, leave it alone, and wait five minutes.

After 5 minutes, it was supposed to look like a custard, with the liquid (whey) separated from the curds.  It didn’t look like custard, and the whey was pretty milky looking (apparently not desirable), so the lid went back on for 5 more minutes.  Then it looked better.

We were supposed to next cut the curds in a sort of grid fashion, but ours were not so solid that they were really able to be sliced, so we stirred it around.

Then the pot went back on the stove to stir and to heat the proto-cheese to 115F while stirring, then stirred it off the heat for a few minutes more.

There is no picture of this.

Then Her Majesty said to “drain the whey” off of the curds, which seemed a little crazy because the whole thing was mostly liquid.  We poured it over a strainer instead.

Next a big pot of water got heated to 185F, and then the curds get dipped in and stirred around.  This was super-exciting because they quickly start to melt and look an awful lot like mozzarella.  Then there’s more dipping and folding and dipping and folding and stretching, some adding salt and herbs and before we knew it we had some cheese.

There’s no picture of this because I was dipping and folding and adding salt.  But look:  video!

We thought, “Why not bocconcini?”  so after it was thoroughly cheese-like we started forming those.  They were hard to get round and it was hard to make them without lumps and bumps and seams.  But by then we were on our second glasses of wine so we pressed bravely ahead.  We mixed up some garlic and olive oil and kosher salt and Annie chopped up some basil from the garden to marinate our little mini mozzarellitas.

And we threw together some edible flowers and greens and currants and thawed some biscuits from the freezer and turned it into dinner.

It was lovely, and I’m happy to report that every day since then Z. has asked for homemade cheese.  And it will most definitely be coming.

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First CSA Pick-Up of the Summer 2

Posted on June 12, 2010 by crankycheryl

Waiting for the farmers to be ready for the onslaught.

Start of season = many greens.

Our beloved Gerard’s bread.

And equally loved Does Leap.

I love this arbor.  Two years ago the field just beyond it was where the pick-your-own herbs grew.  Last year it hosted strawberries, and this year it’s the flower field.

Beautiful flowers.

Not a ton of food or variety at the start of the season, but still so lovely to return.  Many recipes to come.

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Roasted Asparagus with Deconstructed Pesto 6

Posted on June 07, 2010 by crankycheryl

Do you know about the excellent local Vermont blog Gruel for Dinner? I don’t know a thing about its author, but I’ve quickly become a fan.  She has great taste, beautiful pictures, and good, funny writing.

I’m also a fan of Mark Bittman.  When GFD posted a link to her take on Mark Bittman’s Asparagus Pesto, and reiterated her position as the founder, officer, and sole member of The Mark Bittman Minimalist Club, I wanted to try the recipe.  I also thought I might be an asset to the MBMC, perhaps as Vice President in Charge of Distraction, for instance.   But since GFD and her commenters agreed that the pesto was an ill-advised treatment of asparagus, this is what I did.

But wait a minute.  First I have to talk about how I’ve spent half a day waffling over whether it’s actually possible to deconstruct pesto.  Does a deconstructed paste mean the pre-ground ingredients, or would it mean a smaller portion of said goo?  Would it be better called “preconstructed pesto” or does that take its name from vaguely pretentious to downright absurd?  I’ll trust you to tell me.

Roasted Asparagus with Whatever
6 servings


  • 2 T. olive oil on
  • 2 pounds fresh asparagus spears, trimmed as necessary

Sprinkle on:

  • kosher salt to taste
  • freshly ground pepper

Grill or broil for about 5 minutes, just until a bright, vibrant green.  Set aside on a platter.

Lightly toast and then set aside:

  • 1/4 c. pignoli (substitute another nut as you like as they’ve gotten ferociously expensive)

Warm 2 T. olive oil in a small skillet, just until warm, and then add:

  • 1/4 c. fresh slivered basil leaves (save a nice sprig or leaf to garnish if you like)
  • 2 cloves fresh thinly sliced garlic

Heat just until the garlic is a little bit translucent and you can smell the garlic and basil.

Drizzle the oil-garlic-basil mixture over the asparagus.  Top with the pignoli.  Use a cheese slicer (Were you too wondering what that tool’s name was? Why not consult the experts over at – I kid you not – to thinly slice:

Place the cheese on top and serve at room temperature.

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Easy & Tropical End-of-Winter Salad 0

Posted on April 07, 2010 by crankycheryl

Among the 5 or 6 fresh fruits or vegetables that E. will eat are mangoes, which is just a kick in the pants to an aspiring Vermont localvore mom.  But I love them too, so we’ve often got one or two around.

And now, while we’re waiting for those first wonderful local greens of the year, why not throw a couple things together for a salad that’s light and bright and will lend a spark to whatever you serve it with.

This is such an easy little recipe that I keep checking it over to see what I forgot.  It’s all there, but  if you like you could go ahead and add some sliced red onion (I don’t terribly care for its strong flavor with fresh fruit), or some toasted pepitas.  Some goat cheese or manchego wouldn’t hurt.

Easy & Tropical End-of-Winter Salad
Serves 4

Rip into 2″ pieces then rinse and dry:

  • 1 head romaine lettuce

Toss lettuce with:

  • 1 T. fresh lemon juice
  • 3 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • sprinkle of kosher salt
  • 2 or 3 grinds of freshly ground pepper
  • sprinkle of cayenne or chili powder (optional)

Cut into large dice:

  • 1 ripe mango
  • 1 ripe avocado

Place fruit on top of the lettuce and serve.

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200th Blog Post! Deviled Eggs Three Ways 2

Posted on April 05, 2010 by crankycheryl

[4/8/10 — This picture was included in the march of gorgeous spring holiday food over at Photograzing.  If you too are a lover of food-porn take a look!]

I’d like to nominate deviled eggs for the next food craze.  They’re cute, only slightly naughty, portable, adaptable, and individually sized.  What’s not to love?

For our annual Easter brunch-egg hunt extravaganza, I wanted something simple, special and spring-like and this is what we got.  They went fast, and I think I’ve found my brunch potluck standby for the season.

Do remember that the freshest eggs are harder to peel.  If you have time to think ahead, get the eggs you’re likely to want for this a week or so before you make them.

Deviled Eggs Three Ways
yield: 36 halves

Boil eggs your favorite way, or else try this technique that allegedly preserves more of their protein and other nutrients.

Place in cold water to cover by at least an inch:

  • 18 room temperature eggs

Bring water just to a boil, stir vigorously once or twice, then cover and turn off.  Let sit for 20 minutes. (I’ll admit that I often let them sit for an extra 5 to ensure they’re done.)

Prepare a platter by rinsing and arranging:

  • about 4 c. torn lettuce or mesclun salad on a large platter

Cool the eggs by plunging into a bowl of cold water with some ice in it.  Peel, cut in half lengthwise, and scoop out the yolks into a medium bowl.  Add to the yolks:

  • 3/4 c. mayonnaise
  • 2 T. yellow or other fairly mild mustard

Beat with an electric mixer until very creamy and smooth.

Using a spoon or pastry bag, fill 24 of the egg white halves with the yolk mixture.  To the remaining yolk mixture add:

  • 2 – 3 T. pesto (I used the local Bella Pesto I picked up at a recent winter farmer’s market, which was incredibly fabulous), depending on how strong and green you want the flavor and color.

Fill the remaining 12 egg halves with the pesto mixture.

Slice or rip into 12 small square-ish pieces:

  • 1 1/2 oz. good quality smoked salmon

Curve into a small roll and tuck next to the yolk mixture in 12 egg halves.  Place next to each salmon piece:

  • 1 caper per egg

Serve, and watch ’em go.

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Insalata de Jefe 1

Posted on February 09, 2010 by crankycheryl

Oh, it’s crunch time for aspiring localvores.  We’re eating so much out of the freezer that we saved from our summer CSA share, we’re munching on Vermont apples and slicing up my reduced fat Cabot cheddar.  It’s delicious, and Vermont farmers, I thank you.

But it’s also tropical food season, and I’m loving the avocados and oranges that are so beautiful and abundant.  And that plus my perpetual love of tapas led me to put together a Spanish-inspired salad a couple of times this week.

Great name, right?  Get it?  Chef Salad?  But it’s Spanish, so it becomes jefe salad!

Oy.  Someone get me somewhere tropical, rapido.

Insalata de Jefe

2 servings

  • 2 links spicy sausage (chorizo, maybe – I used a vegan spicy one from our local co-op)
  • 2 satsumas, mandarins, clementines, or any very sweet, juicy and seedless citrus fruit you like, peeled and sections pulled apart
  • 1/2 red onion, cut into slivers
  • 1/2 cup oil-cured olives, pitted
  • 1/2 avocado, cut into thin slices

Toss together:

  • 6 cups salad greens
  • 1 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 t. sherry vinegar
  • kosher salt
  • fresh ground pepper

Place greens in bowls, and other ingredients on top, and serve immediately.  You might like some bread on the side.   Not me, since I’m suddenly aware I’m going to a high school reunion in 3 weeks.  But why should you suffer?

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Not That Kind of Cider Vinegar 0

Posted on January 05, 2010 by crankycheryl

A few days ago CrankyGreg came home with a bottle of this. 

He was happy because it only cost this.

I was ambivalent because I’m not a big fan of apple cider vinegar.  Or so I thought.  This is far from the usual stuff, more akin to an aged balsamic vinegar then the stuff the camp nurse used to make me gargle with when I was sick.  Tart and smooth and fruity and with a complexity worthy of wine, it was delicious.  So far, I’ve tried it drizzled over sliced apples with crumbled chevre, and splashed over some apple pie 5-minute ice cream.  So good!  But what I’m really loving it for is this healthy and delicious little salad that’s making me happy at lunch these days.

Winter Blue Salad with Limousin Apple Vinegar
1 serving

  • 2 c. baby salad greens of your choice
  • 1/2 c. fresh, frozen/thawed, or dried blueberries (Mine were fresh.  Chilean.  Moment of January-variety craziness at Costco.)
  • 2 T. crumbled blue cheese
  • 2 T. walnuts
  • 1 T. Delouis apple cider vinegar (if you can’t find it, use a smooth and sweet balsamic).

Put first three ingredients in bowl, sprinkle walnuts on top, and drizzle vinegar over.

I know I’ll be running out of this before long, and I’m not usually the sort to spend this product’s full retail price of about $6 on vinegar.  So when it s gone I’ll be switching back to a doctored-up balsamic vinegar with a technique I picked up from those smart folks over at America’s Test Kitchen.   Using your taste buds rather than specific quantities, you slowly add bits of lemon juice and brown sugar to cheap-o balsamic, and the reduce the mixture to thicken it to a syrup.  Keep the heat on low, keep an eye on the pan as it reduces, and you’ll get great, tailor-made results.

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    Cheryl Herrick's brave Vermont quest to bring together food-love and mom-life. All original content (written, graphical, recipes or other), unless otherwise noted, is © and/or TM Cheryl Herrick. All rights reserved by the author. Want to reprint a recipe? Just get in touch and ask.

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