Carrot, Avocado and Orange Salad

Recipe 12 of 103

Avocado…Yes

Oranges…Yes

Carrots…..Meh

My history with carrots starts when my skin turned orange at the wee age of 18 months, after being fed too much carrot juice when my Mom received a juicer for Christmas. Thinking I had jaundice she took me to the doctor, he said slow down on the carrot juice. Simple mistake. Simple remedy. The next carrot drama was the shredded carrot salad with raisins. Why was this every where in the 70’s?  Most of you know raisins and me do  not get along, so this salad would never make it in my world. Maybe its the raisins fault carrots flew off my radar? As I grew older I made my peace with carrots, but sadly most carrots today taste like crap unless you get them from a friends garden or a good local organic market. I have found that roasting carrots makes them sweeter and more tolerable,  so I was thrilled to see in this recipe that were going to be roasted.

The textures and flavors in this salad are surprisingly compatible. The cumin, coriander and garlic roasted carrots become as soft and luscious as the avocado and the oranges pair well with all the players.

Here is what you will need

Preheat oven to 400°

4 medium garlic cloves, smashed and peeled

maldon sea salt

1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds, toasted and ground

1 1/2 teaspoons coriander seeds, toasted and ground

1 1/2 teaspoons pequin chilies crumbled

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil plus 2 tablespoons

30 or so baby/young carrots, scrubbed with an inch of tops left on or scrub 10 regular sized carrots and cut into small sticks about the size of your index finger

3 oranges, try to get valencia oranges, they are lovely right now

3 ripe haas avocados or try the fuerte avocado they are amazing!

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

a handful of small cilantro sprigs

dryroastStart by toasting the spices in a small saute pan over medium high heat, careful not to burn them. When you start smelling their aroma, they’re done. Set aside and let cool.toastyspices

Add the spices to a mortar and pestle and grind until it resembles a corse powder, reserve in large mixing bowl. garlicrushWipe out the mortar and pestle, add the garlic and salt together and smash until it resembles a paste. dressingAdd the chilies, garlic and olive oil to the mixing bowl with the ground spices. Mix well. Toss the prepped carrots in the dressing and coat well while adding 3 healthy pinches of salt as you toss. Place carrots in a baking dish so they’ll all settle in a single layer. Scrap out all the spiced oil from the bowl and drip it over the carrots. Pour 1/4 cup of water into an open area of the pan so you don’t wash off all the lovely spiced oil, cover with foil and bake for 15-20 minutes.rawdoneafter the first 15 minutes, remove foil and continue to cook another 15-20 minutes. You want the carrots soft like the texture of an avocado but not falling apart. Let them cool a bit.segmentTime to segment the oranges, the above picture is a little visual on how to do this. Does it make sense? If not watch this, it takes practice so don’t get too discouraged on your first try, keep at it. Segment your oranges over a bowl and keep the juiceavosNow ready your avocados, slice in long pieces, add the lemon juice, the orange juice from the segmented oranges and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large mixing bowl.tossitToss the roasted carrots with the avocados, coating with the juices and the spicy mixture on the carrots, add the oranges and toss gently, careful not too break up the avocado too much. saladoneStack all the items together and top with cilantro leaves. Enjoy the color, texture and spicy kick this salad has to offer. Avocados and oranges are in full swing here in So Cal, get out to a farmers market and make this happen, you won’t regret it.

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Beet and Smoked Trout Salad

Recipe 11 of 103

April describes this dish as being full of contrasts. The beets are warm and sweet, the smokey trout is salty, flaky and tender, then the creme fraiche joins in to refresh your palate.

Here is what you will need

serves 4

3 to 4 bunches of baby beets (20-25) washed well

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for finishing

2 tablespoons nice thick good balsamic vinegar

maldon sea salt

6 or so skin on garlic cloves

6 or so thyme sprigs

1 pound whole smoked trout or packaged smoked trout

5 tablespoons creme fraiche

1/4 cup chopped chives

4 to 5 tablespoons Lemon Olive Dressing

Clean your beets really well, no need to peel them just scrub them really good. Leave an inch or so of the stems on for pretty rustic presentation and roots too. Pre heat oven to 400°

photo by Jenny

photo by Jenny

Put the cleaned beets in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with salt.

photo by Jenny

photo by Jenny

Put them in a baking dish, make sure to scrap all the oil from the bowl and pour over the beets, add the sprigs of thyme and the skin on garlic gloves.

photo by Jenny

photo by Jenny

Carefully pour a 1/2 cup of water into the baking dish be sure not wash off all the seasoning. Cover with foil and bake for about 50 minutes. Check every once in a while to make sure there is still water in the dish. After 50 minutes remove foil and bake for another 15 minutes until all the water is gone and the skins of the beets are blistery. When they’ve cooled, taste and add more salt if needed. roastedbeetsRemove the beets from baking dish into a mixing bowl, leaving the thyme and garlic behind. If you need a quick snack at this point, smash that garlic on to a piece of toast. YUM…ok back at it. Drizzle the dressing over the beets and set aside.smtroutI was lucky enough to find a whole smoked trout at  whole foods  whole paycheck, I went for this option because I know how to remove all the pin bones. If you’re not comfortable with this process buy it packaged, much easier. Here is a visual on removing the skin and bones from my cute little trouttrout1Easy right?

photo by Jenny

photo by Jenny

Assemble your beets, smoked fish and top with creme fraiche and chopped chives on a large platter or for individual servings. If you’re not down with smoked fish just enjoy the beets and the dressing, maybe add some goat cheese instead of fish. You could use any smoked fish you like for this also. April’s method for baking the beets was great, worked really well and yielded perfectly cooked beets with flavor.

Lemon Olive Oil Dressing

Recipe 10 of 103

The perfect simple salad dressing. The simplest combination of ingredients, the bright acidity of the lemon and green grassiness of the olive oil, seasoned well with sea salt and pepper. April talks about using this dressing on grilled fish and boiled potatoes. I could slather it on so much more…..
lemonolive1

Basically you put everything in a jar with a tight-fitting lid, shake like crazy. Done

Here is what you will need

1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice, or more to taste

1 cup really good extra virgin olive oil

1 1/2 teaspoons maldon sea salt

freshly ground black pepper

Add olive oil to an old jar that still has a lid that fits nice a snug, you know have one some where. lemonolive2Add the lemon juicelemonolive3add black pepper and saltlemonolive4Apply lid and shake like crazy – taste – add more lemon or salt to your taste. easy eh? Keep this handy for the next blog post…..Beet and Smoked Trout Salad

Duck Confit

Recipe 3 of 103

Duck Confit was a revelation for me while in culinary school.  First how easy it was to make and second how good it was fresh out of the duck fat. It’s rich, tender, crunchy, salty and delicious. Confit is something cooked in its own fat, duck legs cooked in duck fat, pork butt cooked pork fat aka carnitas – you get the idea right? Making it, is fairly easy and inexspensive. Duck leg/thighs are about $6 a pound (1 pound would be 2 leg/thighs) currently at whole paycheck, they are organic and air chilled, try to buy the best you can. They will have duck fat at most of their bigger stores too – if you didn’t already get some or buy on line. Like I said in the last post it will change your life. April’s recipe is encouraged in the book to go with her cassoulet. You cannot have cassoulet with out duck confit. Since I just did cassoulet for my birthday last month, I’m going to wait until much later in the year to show you guys her cassoulet. Which means I will be making duck confit again….yippee! Her duck confit is different from mine, I like her cooking method a lot. She serves the leg/thighs intact with super crispy skin, I prefer to pull the meat and crisp it up shredded.

Here is what you will needconfitstuff

2 duck leg/thighs with plenty of fatty skin

3 cups rendered duck fat:)

12 black peppercorns

12 juniper berries

4 dried pequin chilies

1/2 cinnamon stick

1 sprig of thyme, leaves only

4 cloves of garlic peeled

1/2 cup kosher salt

Place the peppercorns, juniper berries, chilies and cinnamon in a mortar. crushCrush them with the pestle to a corse consistency.crush2Add the thyme leaves and the garlic and crush into a pastecrush3Add the salt and mix well. Put the duck on a plate and sprinkle with the spice/salt mixture, covering all sides and pat into legs gently.marinateCover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 hours up to 48 hours. I buy duck leg/thighs in bulk so I made a ton.marinate2These have been marinating for 48 hours. April does hers for 24 hours, I pushed it to 48, mostly because I couldn’t cook them the next day so they carried on for one more day in the fridge, not a big deal. Next rinse off all of the spice mixture and pat each leg dry.

Assemble them all in a single layer in the pan.ready4fatAdd the rendered duck fat so it just covers the duck legs.simmerApril is very casual about this next part, which I really enjoyed. In school we had to check the temp on the fat every 15 minutes to make sure the fat stayed at 200 F, we cooked it for 3 to 4 hours. April says keep it at a low simmer so you see a bubble here and there and cook for 2 1/2 hours or until the meat comes away from the bone with a twist of a fork. Her method does allow for the leg and thigh to stay a bit more intact, which is better for service as a whole piece. The meat is just as tender as the longer method I was taught in school. Both methods work great, choose the one that fits your final outcome for service. Your house will smell amazing, like Thanksgiving Day, seriously it does. When your legs are done, remove from the fat and drain on a cooling rack if you’re going to shred them. If you’re keeping them intact let them cool completely in the fat, store them this way for up to several weeks. To serve the legs whole and crispy, heat a small amount of duck fat in a saute pan and fry the legs skin side down until the skin is super crispy.duck2I shredded mine. I freeze it in 2 portion servings, wrapped in foil then plastic. Thats why I make a ton at a time:) It’s always there for me, I love it. shredLooks like carnitas, right? So good!!!! To crisp up the shredded duck confit, same as the intact legs, small amount of duck fat in saute pan.crispyI made a couple of salads, I love duck confit in a salad.spinachSpinach, Dried Cherries, Stilton Cheese and Crispy Duck Confit with a Vanilla Bean & Roasted Shallot Dressing.eggonitThe most over used culinary trend right now. Put an EGG on it! I call this the Breakfast Salad. Sliced romaine tossed with caramelized tangy onion dressing, slices of duck fat fried potatoes, pancetta chunks, poached egg and you guessed it…duck confit!

Thanks for reading, I promise I will shut up about duck for a while.

Cheers!

Strawberry Watermelon Chicken Salad

The below photo is my lunch at Saffron, the best little Thai place ever. Me and this salad have had a thing going on for years. I LOVE it. I go to Saffron every time I’m in SD, it’s hard for me not to. Recreating this so I could make it all summer as been on my list for a while.

It’s all about the dressing (not one drop of oil in this dressing, seriously I promise) and the freshest, ripest ingredients. The soft crunch of the juicy watermelon, super sweet strawberries, extra crunchy jicama, tender chicken meat shredded thin all covered in the most amazing citrus dressing. Oh the greens, lets not forget the greens, spicy arugula and fresh mint, torn or cut in a fancy chiffonade and then topped with some roasted sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds. Summer on a plate. Here is how you do it.

Citrus Dressing, not one drop of oil in this dressing, seriously, really, promise!

Dressing

Makes 1/2 cup

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cloves garlic pressed, using a garlic press

2 to 3 Thai Bird Chilies or 1 to 2 Serrano Chilies, minced with or without seeds

2 teaspoons fish sauce

2 tablespoons agave syrup

2 tablespoons lime juice

2 tablespoons lemon juice

6 tablespoons orange juice

Combine all in a jar with tight fitting lid, shake to mix well, reserve for later.

Now lets get our prep on, here is what you will need.

Makes 4 servings

8 to 10 strawberries, sliced thinly to make 2 cups

2 cups watermelon cut into sticks

2 cups shredded chicken breast meat, grill yourself or use an already cooked rotisserie chicken from the market

1/2 cup citrus dressing

12 to 15 mint leaves, torn or chiffonade

12 to 15 arugula leaves torn or chiffonade

1/2 cup roasted sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds

Jicama, cut into sticks/julienne hold in water until ready to serve.Slice strawberries in thin slices.Slice the watermelon same way you did the jicama.

Grill some chicken breasts Clean and chop the mint and arugula, have all your items ready to toss for service.  Put the strawberries, watermelon and chicken breast in a mixing bowl. Toss gently, add dressing and toss again with the mint and arugula.  Transfer to service dish and garnish with roasted sunflower seeds.Enjoy this guilt free and delish meal!

I hope everyone is enjoying the bounty at the farmers markets this summer, I sure am. I finally found lemon cucumbers!