Thursday, March 25, 2010

Pesach Salads (Part III): Homemade Mayonnaise

Click here for Pesach Salads Part II (salad nicoise and classic caesar dressing) and Part I (superfood chopped salad with an amazing citrus basil vinaigrette).

In my opinion, there's nothing worse than kosher for passover mayonnaise. I have no idea why it tastes so awful, because mayonnaise is simply an emulsion of egg yolks and oil. If you have a food processor or stand mixer that is kosher for passover, then you have the ability to make delicious Pesach homemade mayonnaise (as good, or better than Hellman's, I think!), and you can add garlic and herbs to it in order to make herbed mayo, or you can add horseradish puree to make a chrain mayo for gefilte fish. This will also greatly improve any tuna or egg salads you make, and since it's so easy to make, I would wager some people might even make homemade mayo the rest of the year too.

1 cup of light olive oil, canola, safflower or other light-tasting oil
1 egg
Juice of 1 lemon, and/or white wine vinegar (I start with the juice of half a lemon, and then about 2-3 tsp of vinegar at the end to get the right taste)
Pinch of salt (to taste)
Water to thin the mayonnaise, if necessary

In a food processor or mixer, pulse or beat the egg and the lemon juice together continuously until it turns a full shade or two lighter, very light yellow and frothy. Begin adding oil very slowly in a steady stream, with the processor on. As the mayonnaise starts to thicken and lighten, you made need to add some water to thin it. If your mayonnaise never emulsifies (very unlikely if you use a food processor), you can try adding another egg yolk, or simply start over. This is very, very easy. Taste as you go along, and add more lemon and/or vinegar to get the mayonnaise taste you prefer.

As difficult as it is, it can be made in about ten minutes of whisking by hand. If making by hand, having someone else stream in the oil as you whisk. (Variations: to make garlic mayonnaise, puree a clove of garlic before pureeing the egg and lemon juice, remove it, and then fold it in later, or add your favorite chopped herbs after you've created plain mayo, to make herbed mayo).

Monday, March 22, 2010

Pesach Salads (Part II): Salad Nicoise and Classic Caesar Dressing

Click here for Pesach Salads Part III (easy homemade mayonnaise) and Part I (superfood chopped salad with an amazing citrus basil vinaigrette).

At our amazing salad making class at Ohab Zedek last week, we revisited the classic salad nicoise, which makes a delicious first course salad for a formal Pesach lunch. Above, my friends Emma and Sarah model the Salad Nicoise that they made.

Because it has hard-boiled eggs and tuna (dagim!), it provides a fresh and delicious alternative to a plain salad with fish on the side. I also recommend either the classic nicoise dressing, or, to be crazy, serve it with a classic caesar dressing. There's nothing like a classic caesar dressing and it's very easy to make kosher for passover, as long as you have a whisk. Get a whisk if you don't have one, it's worth it!

Classic Caesar Dressing

4 anchovy fillets, or more, if you prefer a strong anchovy flavor (if you are not using a food processor, press the anchovies through a garlic press or mince small)
2 egg yolks (or 2-3 tablespoons pasteurized egg)
1/4 teaspoon salt (to taste)
1/4 teaspoon pepper (to taste)
1 lemon, juice only
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (good quality)
2 garlic cloves (pressed or minced very small)

Combine garlic, anchovies and egg and whisk until you have created a paste (this is very easily done in a food processor, and requires a little elbow grease if done by hand). Add lemon, spices and stream in olive oil while whisking. Taste and correct seasoning. If you have used a food processor, you may wish to thin the dressing with a bit of water, as it sometimes creates a mayonnaise-like consistency (or, you may like it this way). Whisk again before serving.

Salad Niçoise

A composed salad is something special. It is arranged, rather than simply tossed together. This salad can take a number of forms, from a tower of fresh greens to an artfully arranged sunburst of color on a plate. It can also be layered in a trifle bowl. The end goal is to plate a more formal, elegant looking salad, which shows your family and friends that the course they are about to eat has been made specifically for them. With composed salads, it is important that all the individual parts of the salads have been seasoned well, so they taste good both on their own, and together.

2 heads romaine lettuce, washed
½ cup cooked new potatoes, tossed with chopped parsley, olive oil, and salt
½ cup tuna per person, canned or fresh
1/8 cup red onion, sliced thin
1 hard boiled egg per person, quartered
20 olives
4-8 tomato wedges
2 tbsp chopped chives (for garnish)

Salad Niçoise Dressing

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tbsp chopped parsley
salt and pepper to taste
1-2 tbsp mustard (kosher for Passover mustard is very difficult to find and the kind you find may not be so great. You may wish to serve a caesar salad dressing with your Salad Nicoise or replace the mustard in the dressing with homemade garlic mayonnaise).

Combine ingredients and whisk.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Roasted Garlic Tapenade

Instead of the classic chicken shmaltz schmear on bread that our grandparents so enjoyed, my husband was recently advised to eat garlic with olive oil every day. Instead of making him eat a full raw clove with a teaspoonful of oily gunk, I thought I'd try to create something pleasant tasting, by giving the cloves a slow saute to give them some color, a little steam, some sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. This makes for a really nice appetizer spread for any meal, along with hummus or other small salads.

Alexander has taken to it enthusiastically, and I couldn't be more thrilled. Just, please, don't tell him that garlic is a vegetable! He doesn't know. He just thinks it's yet another delicious meaty treat to come out of my kitchen.

And while it tastes classy, it still has the look of schmaltz, so it feels heimish to eat, especially if you spread it on a bagel. What could be more Jewish than garlic and bagels?

One important caveat of this dish, however: Everyone in the whole house should eat this appetizer. Because if there's one person who doesn't, they're going to be bothered by everyone's garlic breath!

4 heads of garlic, peeled
high quality extra virgin olive oil
sea salt

Heat enough oil in a saute pan to coat the bottom, under medium-low heat, and add the garlic cloves. Stir constantly for approximately five-seven minutes, to ensure that none of the cloves burn. You will see the cloves begin to get translucent in places, and to brown lightly in others. When all the cloves have started coloring (a deeper yellow to a light golden brown), sprinkle the cloves generously with salt and pepper and lower the heat to the lowest setting, and cover for five minutes.

Take off the heat, cool for a few minutes, and then puree in a food processor or blender. You can also mash them with a fork, or pulse them to a chunky consistency if you prefer that. Taste and add more salt if necessary. Enjoy warm or at room temperature. This is also a great item to add to sauteed veggies as a delicious garlicky flavoring. For example, I added a tablespoon of this to sauteed spinach that I made as a component of lasagna.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Pesach Salads (Part I): Superfood Chopped Salad

Click here for Pesach Salads Part III (easy homemade mayonnaise) and Part II (salad nicoise and classic caesar dressing).

This is a perfect salad for Pesach because it is refreshing, flavorful, and so beautiful and pleasant tasting that you don't even know it's positively brimming with healthy ingredients.

Chopped salads, generally, include ingredients which have been chopped to be uniform. Then, the ingredients are either tossed or composed, depending on the style of the salad.

When tossed, the salad dressing is drizzled on the salad prior to serving and allowed to marinate briefly. Tossing a chopped salad allows flavors and textures to mingle in every bite instead of having to fish for flavors.

To make a composed salad, one can chop all the vegetable separately and compose it on a serving dish, with each individual item placed according to the rainbow of colors, with the dressing on the side. This offers a unique and visually impressive dish.

A chopped salad should be chopped to whatever the size the smallest ingredient may be. For example, in this salad, I chop everything "brunoise," or small dice, approximately to the size of a dried cranberry or raisin.

The Superfood chopped salad is named as such for the "superfoods" contained in this recipe. These are foods that many fancy health institutes like the Mayo Clinic recommend be included in everyone's diet, such as almonds, carrots, apples, avocado, sweet potato and cabbage. The bright colors don't just make for a beautiful salad, they indicate high anti-oxident content and are good for you!

1/3 cup purple cabbage, chopped
1 granny smith apple, chopped
3 tbsp fresh basil, julienned into ribbons (chiffonade)
1/3 cup pickled beets, chopped
1/3 cup carrots, chopped
1/3 cup radishes, chopped
1/4 cup sliced almonds or pecans
1/4 cup dried cranberries, golden raisins or fresh blueberries
1/2 cup canned mandarin oranges or orange sections
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
1/3 cup jicama, chopped
1 avocado (chopped)
1 sweet potato, chopped, baked and chilled (optional)

Citrus Vinaigrette (serve with Superfood Chopped Salad)

1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp red wine vinegar (to taste)
1 tsp lemon and or orange zest
1 shallot, minced (1/4 - 1/2 cup)
1 tbsp chopped fresh basil
1 tbsp chopped parsley
2-3 tsp honey (to taste)
1 dash cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/3 to 1/2 cup olive oil

Combine ingredients and whisk.