November 25, 2014

Arugula & Apple Salad with Cider Vinaigrette

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Thanksgiving is by far my favorite holiday. Probably because the whole thing revolves around eating and doesn’t involve stressful gift-giving or decorating. The only thing that causes me Thanksgiving stress is worrying about whether there will be enough food. Not for the dinner itself, but for leftovers. What a tragedy it would be, going to the refrigerator at midnight on Thanksgiving and discovering all the stuffing was scarfed down by your gluttonous relatives! It’s a Thanksgiving version of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. Since I’m not hosting this year, my destiny is in the hands of my fabulous relatives. There’s never a shortage of food with this gene pool, so no worries.

If you’re looking for a delicious and easy salad to make for Thanksgiving, this is it. It’s a crowd pleaser. Refreshing when paired with all the heavy sides that grace our holiday table. A little leafy green stuff alongside everything else is delish. 

To make it really easy on yourself, buy pre-crumbled cheese and pre-washed greens. You can throw this salad together in minutes.

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Dressing adapted from Epicurious.

INGREDIENTS

For the dressing…

  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 3 tbsp minced shallots
  • Kosher salt & pepper
  •  A scant 1/2 cup good olive oil

Combine the ingredients together in a small bowl, adding the olive oil last. Whisk to emulsify. Set aside.

For the salad…

  • 7oz. baby arugula
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese or gorgonzola
  • 1/3 cup of toasted pecans
  • 2 large apples, large dice

Place all the ingredients in a large bowl, lightly drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss. You probably won’t need all the dressing. Leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for a few days.

I’ve made this several times and it’s also delicious with these variations:

  • Toasted walnuts
  • Crumbled feta or big shards of Parmesan cheese
  • Diced fresh pears
  • Baby kale or fresh spinach

I should mention that I’m an apple snob. Chalk it up to living in beautiful Bucks County with all our local farms. I love honey crisp, sun crisp or fuji apples, something super crisp and sweet is best. I don’t even peel the apples for the salad.

November 3, 2014

Grandma Ruth’s Pot Roast Revisited

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I am long overdue for a new post. No excuses here, just time flying by too quickly. I’m grateful for my Facebook page, where I can share photos of random dinners and interesting tidbits. Facebook (and Instagram and Twitter) has become a bit of a cop-out for me. Just snap a pic of dinner with my iPhone and share. Couldn’t be easier, but it’s absent much thought or creativity, that’s for sure. Sitting down to share something special, with a recipe and some better quality photos (taken with a real camera), now that’s why I started this whole blogging thing in the first place.

With October behind us and rumor has it, our inevitable journey into the Polar Vortex, I thought I’d revitalize my grandmother’s pot roast recipe. When there’s a chill in the air or a Jewish holiday upon us, Ruth’s famous pot roast is in order. Not to sound too brazen, but it’s the best! It would be impossible for me to recall every pot roast she made us. There were many. Each tasting exactly the same. I have to say, after finding a few copies of the recipe in my archives, narrowing it down to this, the result is a taste of my childhood… just perfect.

How I got an actual recipe from my grandmother in writing is amazing. Years ago, when she was cooking and I asked for a recipe, she’d often list quantities of ingredients as “just a little” or “some.” Isn’t that how all grandmothers cook? I must have gotten her on a good day when she was willing to translate “a little” to an actual measurement. Thank you Grandma!

For those of you who love a hearty roast from time to time, I urge you to give this a try. I suspect someone out there might even be able to figure out how to make this in a slow cooker. If you do, please share. I just took the plunge and bought one.

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INGREDIENTS

4lb rump roast (or bottom round roast)
8 carrots, cut in large pieces
3 onions, halved then quartered
1 green bell pepper, cut into large dice
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp ketchup
1 14oz. can diced tomatoes
2 packets beef bouillon (or 2 cubes)
Water

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Sprinkle each side of the roast generously with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. Heat a heavy large dutch oven on the stove. Add a little olive oil to the pan and brown the meat on all sides. Remove the meat from the pot and set aside.

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Add the onions to the pot and brown them gently over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Put the meat back in the pot and add the carrots, green pepper, soy sauce, ketchup, diced tomatoes (with the liquid) and the bouillon. Stir everything around and add enough water to the pot to go about halfway up the sides of the meat. Bring the pot to a boil, cover and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 4 hours. Periodically spoon the juice over the meat while it’s cooking. You’ll know it’s done when it’s very tender.

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To serve, remove the roast from the pot and slice. Add the slices back into the pot so they sit in the gravy for a few minutes and serve.

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Delicious with roasted potatoes or better yet, mashed potatoes. I know there are recipes that add potatoes to the pot to cook along with the roast, like a stew, but that wasn’t part of our ancient family secret. Feel free to do so. It would be very good.

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* The meat will seem huge before it cooks. It’s amazing how much it shrinks when it’s cooking. I would say this feeds 4-6, depending on how thinly you slice it. I should also mention that the gravy this makes is thin, more of an au jus consistency. You could thicken it if you prefer, but Ruth’s traditional pot roast was not in a thick gravy.

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