Daily Archives: May 4, 2010

Kitchen Goddess

I have a really awesome boyfriend.

Our 4 year anniversary is creeping up on us and Max (my lovely S.O.) couldn’t wait to give me my present….seriously. he was not able to wait until the day.  Which, of course, is totally fine by  me!  I think this was the most excited he’s been to give me a present (that I’ve observed, as other gifts that he’s given me, i.e. ring, were a secret so I had no idea of his enthusiasm of presenting them to me at the time).

Anyway, the other night he made my sit and close my eyes (with my hands over them for good measure) as he fetched a huge box out of his car and into our apartment, landing at my feet.  When I opened my eyes, there in front of me sat every chef’s necessity (and dare I say dream?).

KitchenAid Artisan in "Bayleaf"

KitchenAid Artisan in "Bayleaf"

"Jade"

Yes, I am now a proud owner of a “KitchenAid”, as they are simply known.  I love it.  I have put off certain recipes because they call for stand mixers (with the paddle attachment!); and now, I can make even more delicious baked goods and breads, despite my miniscule galley kitchen and limited counter space.  It is an amazing machine and, although one might deem it sexist, it is the perfect gift for me.

In fact, I had to christen it as soon as I possibly could.  So I put Jade (as she will be called from now on, as I name all inanimate objects of mine with which I have mild love affairs) to work ASAP and she produced the most wonderful cheesecake my tastebuds have encountered.

Although, I may be bias.

For the cheesecake recipe I used, click on my link on the right hand side to “Fine Cooking” and then look in “Desserts”  It was their feature in their last issue.  They have a basic cheesecake recipe with 18 different varieties of it, although I made up my own and made Junior Mint Cheesecake with Mint Oreo crust.  It came out perfect.

And as I sit and eat another bite of the creamy, fluffy cheesecake and smile lovingly at Jade, I really do feel like a kitchen goddess.

The Best-Dressed Salad

I love me some salad.

I’m not afraid to admit that when I say “salad” I really mean “salad fixings.”  I love the cheeses (french feta, gorgonzola, point reyes, shaved parm) that go great with it, I love the nuts (candied walnuts, toasted pine nuts and pecans) that pair perfectly with it, I love the sweet fruit (nectarines, pears) that balance out the flavors.

And, of course, I love the dressing.  I used to be a fan of the bottled stuff–the Hidden Valleys and the Bernsteins.  But I now use a much simpler dressing…one that will make your salad dressed for any event, be it to hold or garnish the main feature (chicken, steak, fish) or to stand strong on its own as the headliner.  This dressing requires only four ingredients, and you should always have these four ingredients inside your kitchen.

Olive Oil (I LOVE Greek Olive Oil.  You can find some great ones at Marshalls, of all places!)

Fresh Lemon Juice (remember, no bottled stuff.  I’ll know if you’re using it…)

Salt (sea salt or Kosher.  No table salt.  You know how I feel about salt.)

Freshly Cracked Pepper

and that’s it.  Those four components make the best-dressed salad.  And you can add anything to a salad that’s dressed with this and the flavor won’t be off-putting or unbalanced.  Promise!  Here’s what I do:

If I remember or have the time, I like to chill my lettuce and get it super cold (put it in a stainless steal bowl and cover it with a damp paper towel and refrigerate anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 hours)

I pour the olive oil in a thin, but not too thin, line over the salad bowl in a zig-zag motion.  First away from myself, then come back.  Then I toss.

Next, I grind the salt and pepper on top.  After using this “recipe”, if it can even be called that, you will learn how much salt/pepper you like.  But for the first time, don’t over do it.  Remember: you can always add more, but you can’t take away!

Then, I toss the salad again, then I add the lemon juice.  The lemon is like the salt and pepper.  Cut off about a third of a medium sized lemon and squeeze it on top of the greens, cut side up to avoid getting any seeds in there (ouch!)  Toss again and you’re good to go!  Of course, taste a piece of the greens and see if it needs anything–maybe you put too much lemon, or not enough salt, etc.

After you start eating your salad like this, I guarantee you won’t ever go back to ranch, italian, or God-forbid Thousand Island, dressing again!  It’s cheaper, healthier, and um…BETTER.  Another good thing to throw into the mix is to top off your perfectly-dressed salad with a splash or two of balsamic vinegar–you’ll be amazed at the difference a small amount of another ingredient will make your salad taste!

Next salad you make, swap out your dressing for this one and let me know what you think!

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