Just a peachy salad

  • Recipe(s): Warm grilled peach and frisee salad with goat’s cheese dressing (page 51)
  • Prep: Easy
  • Taste: Good

Peaches in August…yes please!

On August 22, 2014 we made the warm peach and frisee salad with goat’s cheese dressing. Peaches are one of our favourite fruits. I love; peach pies, peach jam, plain peaches, peach juice…you get the picture. We’re also fans of goat’s cheese, so you can probably guess the expectations that we had for this dish…

The expectations were still high once I’d prepped and sampled the goat’s cheese dressing. It is a fairly simple dressing to prep, with minimal ingredients and limited chopping requirements. It’s also a very tasty dressing. The Parmesan adds a nice salty sharpness, which helps to cut the two oils (olive and walnut), while the lemon strips away some of the goat’s cheese creaminess. So I was really looking forward to adding this to the warm peach and frisee in the next step.

Unfortunately, this is where the expectations were brought back down to earth. When I cut into the peach I was disappointed to see a blackness around the pit. Fortunately the entire piece of fruit wasn’t bad so we could still make the salad according to the recipe but it definitely effected the final dish.

Even with the imperfect peach we ranked this dish as good, knowing that it could be very good with the ideal piece of fruit. We really enjoyed the combination of mint and peach, which gave me a good idea for a fusion mojito next summer! Grilling the peach brought out some of the sweetness, which combined well with the tartness of the frisee. All in all this is a very nicely balanced salad and, like I said before, one that we would make again.

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Middle Eastern Duck Salad

  • Recipe(s): Middle Eastern Duck Salad (page )
  • Prep: Moderate
  • Taste: Very Good

Another Sunday night, another great dinner, care of Jamie Oliver. A few weeks ago (November 30, 2014) we completed the final warm salad of our challenge and were treated to yet another recipe that included duck.

The prep for this recipe is moderate. There’s a lot to do, in terms of chopping, etc. in addition to this there’s a large time commitment required because you have to roast the duck first, which takes a few hours. Thankfully, the Grey Cup was on this day so I was able to enjoy the game while the duck cooked. Another reason the prep took a bit of time was because we were unable to locate pre-shelled pistachios anywhere around our place. We had to buy a bag of roasted pistachios and then shell them. What a pain that was!

Note to those who are going to deseed a pomegranate. DO NOT wear white. I choose the method of cutting the pomegranate in half and banging the outside with a wooden spoon so all of the seeds fall out. While I did not get much on myself the recipe book took a beating. It looked like it had been through it and back….woops.

The final product was solidly good. It was very different from any salad I had ever made or, for that matter, ever had in my life. It contained a range of ingredients that worked very well with each other and that I would never have thought to put together. There were sweet notes, sour notes, salty notes and rich notes, primarily from the duck. Out of all the duck recipes that we made this year I probably cooked the duck the best on this occasion. We recently were given a new roaster, which probably helped.

We would probably not make this again as there is a large time commitment required and well, duck is expensive. I did like the flavour though, so may try the same type of recipe with a roasted chicken.

5 Different Salads

5 Different Salads

  • Recipe(s): Simple crunchy side salad (page 28), Simple green side salad (page 29), Proper tomato salad (page 33), Crunchy raw beetroot salad with feta and pear (page 36), Unbelievable root vegetable salad (page 43)
  • Prep: Various
  • Taste: Various

We have always eaten a lot of salads. Typically they’re a basic green salad with vegetables that are available in the Vancouver area. You know; green pepper, celery, tomato, onion, mushrooms, lettuce, etc, etc, etc….. It was nice that Jamie Oliver’s,’Cook with Jamie….’ had a tonne of different salads for us to try this year. Some of them were pretty basic, others were more complex but all of them gave us different ideas for when we make salads in the future.

Simple crunchy side salad
We made this simple salad way back on January 5, 2014. It was actually one of the first recipes we made as part of our annual challenge. It was a very, very basic salad that was incredibly easy to prep. We made it with the suggested French dressing, which you may have read about as part of the salad dressing blog. One thing we liked about this salad was the addition of blanched beans. I wouldn’t have thought of doing this before – it’s definitely something I would do again. The end product was good but we probably wouldn’t go out of our way to make it again.

Simple green side salad
Made on May 27, 2014 this salad was similar to the one above. Basic, easy to prep, with adequate taste for a salad. One thing we found difficult in making this salad was finding all of the ingredients. Not all of them were easy to come across at our local markets. For example, I was unable to find baby chard. This salad had a bunch of ingredients I would’ve never put in a salad. Some were great, such as the arugula and asparagus, and some were not our favourites, such as the dandelion leaves. The dandelion leave were very tart/bitter, and definitely not something we would add to a salad again. As I stated at the beginning, this was an adequate salad, that was easy to prep. As the ingredients were hard to find, we wouldn’t make this salad again.

Proper tomato salad
On April 11, 2014 we hosted a birthday dinner for my partner’s Mom. For the meal we made 7 recipes from the book, one of which was this tomato salad. Like the first two salads of this blog, it was easy to prep but instead of having an ok taste, this one was very good. It was a very simple salad, in terms of ingredients. We used cherry, jubilee and roma tomatoes. Unfortunately, we were unable to find green tomatoes. This salad was a classic combination of tomato, basil, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The only thing missing would be a little bocconcini but this wasn’t completely necessary. It was still a very good salad but of course you have to like tomatoes to have a salad full of them!

Crunchy raw beetroot salad with feta and pear
Yet another very good salad! We made this one on August 2, 2014. The prep is easy, as long as you have a mandolin. If you don’t have one, the prep would be very time consuming. We found this to be a very unique salad with a really interesting range of ingredients, most of which we would never think of putting together. The salad consisted of lemon oil dressing, pear, mint, feta cheese and obviously beets. One thing I would mention is to make sure you use hard pears. The ones we used were a bit too ripe, which made them very hard to matchstick. I will also mention, that while this salad is very good, it is not the best the day after. If you make this, make sure you eat it all on the first night, you won’t be disappointed!

Unbelievable root vegetable salad
Made on July 5, 2014 this salad required much more prep than the others – the prep was moderate but it was good (some of us liked it more than others). We actually made this for a few friends along with the chilli oil dressing. This salad had fennel, beet, carrot, parsley, celery heart, radicchio and radishes. I think it may have been a bit too bitter overall, so a different (sweeter) dressing may work better. If you are making this salad though make sure you chop the ingredients very fine and small. We used a mandolin but unfortunately it’s not a top end model, so you can’t change the thickness of the slicer. The beets came out a bit thick for our liking. All in all, it is good and something we may try again with either a better mandolin or else we may use a peeler to make the vegetables very thin.

Christmas in November

Christmas in November

  • Recipe(s): Fifteen Christmas Salad (page 44)
  • Prep: Easy
  • Taste: Very Good

The other night, November 29, 2014, we completed the final, ‘Cold Salad’ recipe from, ‘Cook with Jamie’ While it wasn’t quite December we felt the holiday season had started so we completed the Christmas salad, which we were saving for this time of the year. After this recipe our goal of finishing all of the recipes in the book is 95% complete!

The prep on this salad, as with the majority of the salads in this book, was easy. It is also an extremely quick salad to put together, which is a bit surprising because there are quite a few ingredients. You would think that it would take more time to prep but hardly any of the ingredients need to be chopped, which cuts down on time. All you have to do is rip up some buffalo mozzarella, mint leaves and radicchio, as well as put together a quick lemon oil dressing. You also have to peel the mandarin orange, but I mean, there is really nothing technical involved in the prep.

The final product was very good and surprisingly filling! It’s not often that a salad is enough for a full meal but this one definitely is. It’s probably because each portion contains 125 grams of buffalo mozzarella. This alone was enough to fill me up. Anyways, back to the taste. I really enjoyed the creaminess of the mozzarella, sweetness of the mandarin oranges (we could not find clementines or tangerines), bitterness of the arugula and radicchio and smokiness of the Speck, which we purchased at Whole Foods and was from Whistler. The lemon oil dressing added some nice acidity. Really the salad had all of the major flavours but no one really stood out. They all worked very well together.

We would definitely make this salad again, either as a main (same size) or as a starter. We would probably make a few changes though. For one we would cut down on the amount of mint used. While I really enjoy fresh mint in salad there was a touch too much used in this one. Also we may substitute a different type of lettuce for the radicchio. Again, while I did enjoy the bitterness it was a bit much by the end of the dish. Perhaps using an iceberg or butter lettuce would be ok. Finally, I quite enjoyed the speck but my partner would prefer bacon, which would change the salad quite a bit because you wouldn’t serve the bacon raw, like you do the speck but like I always say, bacon makes everything better.

Coleslaw and Greek Salad – Together at last

  • Recipe(s): My favourite coleslaw (page 38), Greek Salad (page 40)& Lemon oil dressing (page 24)
  • Prep: Intensive, Easy & Easy
  • Taste: Good, across the board

So, we were heading to a 70th birthday party in Maple Ridge, on Mother’s day, in the sun. What to bring…..salads of course. I mean, salads are easy to prep right? Also, this way we could bang off three recipes in short order. Boy, were we wrong.

Thinking that the prep would go smoothly and would not require two people for each of these dishes I took off for a bike ride with a few of my buddies around Steveston and south Vancouver. When I came home, around 1:00 PM, I found my partner in the kitchen, with a bowl of finely sliced; cabbage, apple, onion and carrot in front her. It was nicely dressed with mayonnaise, english mustard, salt and pepper and looked delicious. The first words out of her mouth were, “we need a mandolin.” So….this was not an easy recipe to prep. She had sliced, diced and chopped for the better part of an hour and half to get to where she was at. Everything had to be sliced incredibly finely (into matchstick-sized pieces, according to the book), so it was very time consuming. It tasted lovely (more on that later) but the prep was INTENSE!

Thankfully, the greek salad was super easy to prep. Aside from ripping a few lettuce leaves and chopping tomato and a shallot, everything goes together pretty quickly. The lemon and oil dressing, which is exactly what the name says, LEMON and OIL, was super easy.

Both of the salads were quite nice. I have always been a fan of coleslaw. When I was young my family would frequently purchase it for bbqs, however, I never had the homemade version until this occasion. I can honestly say that I liked it more than the store-bought stuff I had grown up on. It was nice and creamy, without being sloppy, like what you are served at restaurants. We used just the right amount of mayonnaise. The only thing missing to me was a bit more acid. We only used one lemon, when it could have probably used two. Or instead of using more lemon, we could have added a bit more of the english mustard, which has a nice heat to it. All in all, it was a solid salad.

The greek salad was a nice surprise. Again this is a salad that I grew up with but normally in the homemade version. My Mom would make it with; green pepper, feta cheese, red onion, olives, oregano, oil, lemon and a few other spices and it was always delicious. So, when I saw that this version had lettuce and avocado and omitted green pepper, I was kind of taken aback. Is this really a greek salad? Let me say, the avocado was a super interesting addition. It added a creaminess that you never really get out of most greek salads, which helped to balance out the zing of the lemon oil dressing. Switching out the pepper and adding lettuce was also a welcome change. It made the whole salad a lot softer. Normally you would have all crunch, aside from the feta cheese. In this version you have crunch, in the shallot, and bottom portions of the romaine leaves, but a nice amount of softer bites, in the feta, avocado and tomato. It was a nice balance. The only thing we would change here is the amount of lettuce used. The recipe actually asked for 1 whole head of romaine. We used almost the whole head, which was too much. We could have cut back. It would have benefitted from less feta as well and a few more olives. That aside, it was a strong, easy dish that we would make again.

The coleslaw ranks low on the flavour to effort scale. It had a nice taste but took too long to make. The Greek salad is definitely higher. These were two oldies that were change-up and could be tweaked even further to make them even better.