Change up my Waldorf salad recipe made with apples and walnuts using chunks of firm cored Bosc pears and homemade candied hazelnuts from your pantry supply. Dust the chopped pears with a pinch of nutmeg and fresh ground pepper.
If you love a little extra crunch, drain a tin of water chestnuts and chop very coarsely. Perhaps spritz with Bacardi Fiero. Or a little fresh orange juice. Add to the chopped firm Bosc pears.
For another boost, drain a tin of sweet mandarin orange segments and gently fold into your salad after you have drizzled with my warm blue cheese dressing. This whole mixture turns an otherwise boring iceberg lettuce into something really delicious.
Shred iceberg lettuce wedges and add to the salad bowl. Drizzle with my warm blue cheese dressing just when ready to serve.
The nutrition world says pears are an amazing anti inflammatory and should used regularly, especially during winter.
To turn the salad into a whole meal, add a cup of my wonderful cream leek soup (leek is also an anti inflammatory) to your table. Serve this cold summer cream soup hot. Or you might like to serve my so-easy-to-make silky cream of celery soup.
Complete the winter table with my amazing Rock Cornish hens served in individual hot au gratin dishes, resting on a large dinner plate napkin positioned on a seasonal charger. If you don’t have enough chargers in all one colour, mix and match alternate colours.
The link above is to an old recipe newspaper gourmet column but just concentrate on the basics. Scroll all the way down to the comments for additional tips.
Delicious blue cheese warm salad dressing
In a stovetop pot (not aluminum), scald a cup of half and half cream. Let rise and fall three times. Lift the pot quickly off the burner if it tries to over boil. Turn down the heat and continue reducing the cream. Turn off the heat, stirring thickened cream so it doesn’t burn.
Add a half cup of your favourite blue cheese, broken into large pieces. Stir to incorporate. But leave some small lumps. Grind some black peppercorns. No need for salt, there’s enough in the cheese. Remove the pan from heat. Let it sit briefly, covered. The sauce will thicken and coat a spoon.
If you have leftover sauce it will keep, airtight, covered in the fridge in a glass container, for an extra day, to perhaps use on a salad or on a freshly prepared steak. Or drizzle on a roast beef sandwich instead of using mayonnaise.
This warm blue cheese dressing has lots of uses. If you put it in the fridge right away, rather than using it immediately, the sauce will go firm and gooey, congealed. Perfectly spreadable for using on anything you like as a blue cheese topper. Nice on a grilled or toasted crostini as a TV snack, alone or on shredded roast beef sandwich leftovers from a big dinner.
Goes well with crackers and smoked salmon, too. Experiment. Enjoy!
I serve this dressing repeatedly on Boston Bibb hydroponically grown lettuce, with Kuhne brand baby pickled whole, sweet red beets that you can buy in a glass bottle (save the bottle, great for using in preserving season).
Use warm blue cheese dressing on endive, watercress, radicchio, my candied walnuts and chopped mixed-citrus rinds from the pantry sugar jar. Sprinkle with salt, fresh ground pepper, a little citrus zest and a bit of crushed fresh mint leaves, and using a melon-baller tool, make tiny, sweet apple balls. Toss the little apple balls in lemon water just briefly. Pat dry. Add to the salad greens mix. Spritz with your favourite white balsamic vinegar and oil 1:3 using teaspoons.
Plate the mixed greens mixture on the centre of an oversize plate, on a large Boston bibb lettuce leaf or two, and drizzle with the warm blue cheese salad dressing.
On the side, serve my plantain crackers or just made fresh parmesan tuiles.
Showstopper starter salad moved to end of meal
Often in France and in general continental Europe, salad is served at the end of the meal. This showstopper, using what I call my Air Canada salad dressing, really is a showstopper. I got bumped to first class on a long overseas flight and the salad dressing was most enjoyable.
It’s so simple yet fresh and mouthwatering delicious. It was served with miniature bottles so flyers could mix and match to their own preferences. So I figured it out and added it to my own salad at home.
Simply mound a salad serving plate at home with hydroponically grown Boston bibb (butter) lettuce or large leaf lettuce. Layer the lettuce with lots of my amazing faux bacon carrot strips in between. You can also fill a homemade crepe with the candied carrot faux bacon strips.
Drizzle the salad with 1:3 best red wine vinegar and light extra-virgin best brand olive oil that you saved for special occasions. Whisk in a generous drop of Dijon. And an ever so tiny dab of my homemade oven-roasted mild garlic purée from your sterilized glass refrigerated airtight container.
Sprinkle flakes of finishing sea salt and fresh cracked red peppercorns. You might like to add capers or oil-bottled artichokes. You could spritz with my amazing, marinated Medjool date syrup just when ready to serve. Offer extra in a mini gravy boat with its own tiny ladle or use an espresso spoon.
Sprinkle with your always at the ready pantry treat: homemade roasted candied hazelnuts.
The flavours are a delightful marriage “fresh from the garden” mix. Keep it light.
Keep the lettuce leaves fresh-crispy, wrapped in a hot-water towel in the refrigerator crisper until ready to compose the salad plates.
Don’t tear the lettuce; it’s such an eye-appeal showstopper delight even just as a visual tall salad treat mounded high on the plate. What a way to end a long slow celebration meal, a couple of hours at the table. A wonderful palate cleanser, ready for a light special dessert. Perhaps a favourite panna cotta or a slice of my light Chantilly-filled bird’s nest pavlova.
A champagne flute of cool Prosecco might appeal to some, or a cool glass of my fruit punch on crushed ice. Or there’s always my special lemonade as a choice. Another palate cleanser.
Chestnut pasta gnocchi or spaetzle by the fire
Chestnuts can be bought in airtight bags, prepared and ready to use. Especially enjoyable as a holiday dish, added to many recipes.
Mash the packaged chestnuts or put them through a potato ricer into your flour and eggs. Roll like a long sausage and cut in one-inch portions to make gnocchi. Simmering takes just seconds.
Here’s an old seasonal long read that can be adjusted many ways. Scroll all the way down at any of my gourmet recipe columns as often there are add-on additional recipes.
A different use: prepare your favourite spaetzle and incorporate the ready-to-use chestnuts, gently whisking in. I like to dredge the chestnuts package in either almond flour or maybe chickpea flour before adding to any mix to stop clumping.
Slip into softly boiling water. When spaetzle floats to the top, it is ready to eat.
Lightly brown the gnocchi or the spaetzle in noisette in a single layer in a wide skillet with low sides. Sprinkle with nutmeg, kosher salt and crushed pink peppercorns. Deglaze the residual little bit of unsalted butter in the skillet using Asbach Uralt brandy, flambé to reduce and drizzle over whichever chestnut pasta you chose.
You might like to mound the pasta generously on a large soup plate heated with hot water as cooked pasta doesn’t retain heat well.
Scatter fresh grated delicate parmesan cheese just when ready to eat. You might like to use Sartori BellaVitano Raspberry Ale cheese, from Canadian Goat Cheese Celebrity Cheese company.
The addition of the chestnuts makes this pasta dish spectacular, especially during the holiday season when people really appreciate chestnuts by the fire. This simple dish, so quick and easy to make is pure holiday magic.
© Pasta-bilities Pleasures as Promised ~ a Lady Ralston’s Kitchen Canadian Way… Pasta-licious, but only a little bit Italian
The working title for Carolyne’s Gourmet Recipes cookbook is From Lady Ralston’s Kitchen: A Canadian Contessa Cooks. This kitchen-friendly doyenne has been honoured and referred to as the grande dame of executive real estate in her market area during her 35-year career. She taught gourmet cooking in the mid-70s and wrote a weekly newspaper cooking column, long before gourmet was popular as it is today. Her ebook, Gourmet Cooking – at Home with Carolyne is available here for $5.99 US. Email Carolyne. Scroll down to the comments at each recipe column. Carolyne often adds complimentary “From Lady Ralston’s Kitchen” additional recipes in the Recipes for Realtors Comments section at REM.