Archive for ◊ July, 2011 ◊

12 Jul 2011 Apple Fennel Salad

I have some very, very strange friends.  They get up early.  To go running. Sometimes, on a weekend, for fun, they’ll run like 26 miles.  To get a T-shirt.

Sometimes these strange friends invite me over for dinner.  I usually offer to bring dessert.  (If left to their own devices these strange friends of mine would probably serve apple peels with grape nuts and flax seed.  I think one of them ate an M&M two years ago.  She still talks about it as if it were yesterday.)

These strange friends of mine eat a lot of salad.  I don’t much care for salad.

A few weeks ago these strange friends of mine swam from Alcatraz to San Francisco to get a T-shirt.  Then they thought they’d throw a party to celebrate.  I took ice cream sundaes.  With whipped cream.  One of the men told me white liquids were evil. My friend Barb brought this salad. Fennel? Really?

My little secret is, that up until this party with the strange T-shirt people, I had never tasted fennel.  I couldn’t think of a less appetizing way to try it for the first time than raw. In a salad. But Barb was smiling, and the other T-shirt people were ohhhing and ahhhing, I couldn’t not put any on my plate.

Manohmanohman, was it ever good! I’ve bought four fennel bulbs since that party, and learned to cut, core, and slice them.  I’ve served this salad to my daughters, my son, grandson, a boyfriend and a vegetarian friend.  I’ve eaten the leftovers while washing the dishes. It’s a yummy, crunchy, sweet, savory salad that’s both refreshing and light.  You’ll feel very healthy eating it, and happy.  Maybe those t-shirt people know a thing or two about salad. Shoot, I hope there aren’t any adverse side effects to eating this salad. I wouldn’t want to wake up at 5 AM one Saturday morning  thinking it would be a good idea to run 26 miles for a T-shirt…

This is my friend Barb.  I am helping her make quilts out of her T-shirts…. <sigh>

Barb says she clipped this recipe from “O” Magazine in January of 2005.  I reduced the olive oil and added in some lemon juice. It’s a very easy salad to make, very easy.  I made it tonight after my daughter had started making Turkey burgers.  We had both the burgers and the salad on the table at the same time.  (BTW, my daughter and I were wearing T-shirts from Old Navy, they cost about $7.00 each, we got to choose the size and the color,…and we didn’t have to run 26 miles to get them...)

Apple Fennel Salad

  • 2 med fennel bulbs
  • 2 Granny Smith apples (I found the Granny Smith apples to be a bit too tart for my liking, I used Fuji apples)
  • 1/2 cup thinly shaved Pecorino Romano Cheese (I’ve substituted Parmesan)
  • 2 tbsp. finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
  • 1/8 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  1. Remove fennel tops and chop 1 tablespoon of the green, feathery fronds. Trim root ends, halve, core and thinly slice fennel bulbs.
  2. Peel, core, and thinly slice the apples.
  3. In a large bowl, combine sliced fennel bulbs, sliced apples, shaved cheese, olive oil, parsley, lemon juice and zest, salt, and pepper; toss gently.
  4. To serve, arrange salad on a large, chilled serving pate. Sprinkle with reserved fennel fronds.

Makes 4-6 side dish servings.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today.  I know this recipe isn’t what you usually expect from me, but it’s a very, very good recipe.  I hope you try it.  It’s lovely.

05 Jul 2011 Strawberry Agua Fresca

My Strawberry Man came again yesterday.  He’s been stopping by with a flat of strawberries, every month or so, for about a decade now.   With the temperatures in the triple digits I’ve been in a hurry to use  up the strawberries before the heat gets to them. We had Strawberries with Brown Sugar and Sour Cream for dessert, which is our very favorite way to eat strawberries, but that only used up about three baskets, which left nine baskets sitting in the heat.  I made Chocolate Strawberry Tarts for our July 4th bake off.  Now I have six baskets to go.  Time to hit the Internet…

After a lot of scrolling and clicking, I landed at Heat Oven to 350°.  Strawberry soda!  Since I don’t drink alcohol or anything like Coke or Pepsi, I am always looking for something interesting to drink.

I like this!  This drink is sort of in the lemonade family, not that it is tart, but that it is fruity, and pulpy, and is a very summery good-for-you feel drink.  Not sure I’ll be giving up iced tea or iced lattes anytime soon, or my Blueberry Lemonade, but I’m certainly glad to have one more drink to add into my rotation! And one with the added bonus of letting me drink some fruit, too!

My daughter suggested the name Strawberry Fizz, since I add carbonated water (most of the time) to the base mixture, but it’s also good with the so called “flat” water.  As I noted above, the original recipe was entitled Strawberry Soda, but that doesn’t work for me. Do you remember Strawberry Soda?  It’s bright red, super bubbly, and very, very sweet (with no taste of real strawberries), this  isn’t.  It’s refreshing. It’s very similar to the Central American Agua Frescas. We North Americans should look more closely at Agua Frescas.  They are delicious, and a good alternative to fizzy dark brown chemicals, syrupy frappuccinos, and girly cocktails.  Well, you won’t get the buzz from a Strawaberry Agua Fresca as you would from a girlie cocktail, but you could certainly put it in a fancy glass with lots of crushed ice and a paper parasol 🙂

The Strawberry base syrup is easy to make and keeps for about a week in the refrigerator.  Just mix the desired amount of the syrup with club soda and ice (a quarter cup of the base, a cup and a half of club soda, and half a glass of ice work for me).  Add a straw and take your flip-flopped self out in the backyard to enjoy the summer.

I was going to try this with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, to see how stupendous a Strawberry Float would be, but my son came home with a sugar-free, low fat, store brand of vanilla ice cream.  He was quite proud to tell me it was the cheapest. Ummmm, no. He can eat that carton all by himself. Maybe he’ll be more discerning when picking out ice cream in the future.

Strawberry Agua Fresca

  • 3 lbs strawberries, trimmed and hulled (about three baskets)
  • 4 T white vinegar
  • 2 cups sugar
  1. Place strawberries in a food processor and pulse until liquified. Add vinegar and mix well.
  2. Transfer liquified strawberries to a medium pot and add sugar. Stir and bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat and let simmer for 5 minutes.
  4. Remove syrup from stove. Cool. Syrup will keep one week, covered, in the refrigerator.
  5. To serve:  eventually you will hit on your favorite proportions.  I like one-quarter cup of syrup mixed with 1 1/2 cups soda water and poured over a glass of ice, stirred, not shaken, and with a pretty straw!  A paper umbrella would be a nice addition, too.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today.  Believe-it-or-not, this might be a healthy week.  My friend Barb is guest posting tomorrow with her delicious Fennel-Apple Salad, but later in the week I think I will post my recipe for Chocolate-Strawberry Pie.  I stuck an American Flag in the middle of it, and won the July 4th Dessert contest at our neighborhood July 4th party!  But I STILL have three boxes of strawberries to mess with….

Note:  I liked this so much that I made my next batch with blackberries.  Delicious! And I feel so healthy!

Polly