Schug

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I’m so excited! I’ve discovered a new condiment called Schug, and my husband even loves it!

It originates from Yemenite cuisine, but has spread in popularity throughout the Middle East, from what I’ve read. It’s typically used over falafel or shawarma, but it can be used on fish, eggs, and just about any meat.


So what is schug? It’s a really bright green mixture of jalapeño peppers, cilantro, parsley, and olive oil. I’ve seen recipes with cumin; some also list cardamom, and some list coriander. I’m using both. If you want to read more about schug this is a good article here.

Schug

8-10 jalapeño peppers
1 bunch cilantro, coarsely chopped
1 bunch parsley, coarsely chopped
10 small cloves garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
Pinch of ground white pepper
1/4 olive oil

First remove the stems of the jalapeños. Holding them vertically with a latex-gloved hand, slice the flesh of the jalapeños downward, avoiding the inner seeds. This technique works well with all kinds of peppers if you want to avoid seeds as well as the membrane.


Place the jalapeño slices, the cilantro, parsley, garlic, and all of the spices in a food processor.

Add the olive oil and process with the pulse button. Add a little more olive oil if necessary. Leave some texture in the sauce.

Place the mixture in jars; it can be frozen.

When you’re about to use it, it can be thinned with a little more olive oil first.

What I’m doing with the schug today is drizzling it on a salad of tomatoes, beets, and fresh mozzarella.

Tomato, Beet and Mozzarella Salad with Schug
Serves 2-4

3 medium-sized tomatoes, sliced
Equal number of beet slices, from a jar, drained well
Equal number of fresh mozzarella slices
Schug, thinned with some olive oil

Layer the tomato, beet, and mozzarella slices on a serving plate.

Generously drizzle the salad with schug.

Sprinkle the salad generously with flaked salt.

I can also see the sauce mixed with mayo or sour cream, or even a bechamel to create creamy schug!

Mediterranean Dip

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This raw vegetable and feta dip is perfect for a party before fall weather hits. Unfortunately, I cannot remember where I found the recipe for this Mediterranean-inspired dip. I’d typed it in MS Publisher, and recently found it on my computer. Typically I’d have added some notes, and certainly show credit, but nothing.

Honestly, I changed it so much that it’s not the same recipe, but has most all of the original ingredients. This recipe intrigued me because the ingredients are puréed.

On this blog I have made a layered Mediterranean spread, which is a Greek version of Southwestern 7-layer spread. Nothing is puréed except the hummus Layer.

I’ve started a new thing lately, when I serve a dip to a small group. I like to have guests serve themselves from the main bowl into their own little bowl. That way, they can double-dip, drool, and spill their chips in the dip, and it doesn’t affect anyone else!


Mediterranean Dip

2 cucumbers, peeled, sliced lengthwise, seeds removed
2 garden-ripe tomatoes, cored, coarsely chopped, seeded
2 ounces Kalamata olives, pitted
2 ounces black olives, pitted
5 ounces baby spinach (about 4 loosely packed cups)
8 ounces plain Greek yogurt*, strained
1 tablespoon good olive oil
1 small clove garlic, peeled
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 ounces feta or goat cheese
1 teaspoon fresh oregano, finely chopped
Juice of 1/2 small lemon
Finely chopped purple onion, optional
Chopped fresh parsley, optional
Toasted pine nuts, optional
Pita chips, or pita crisps, or pita bread

Before I began, I prepared the cucumbers and tomatoes and let them drain on paper towels.

I even dried off the olives and feta.

Pulse the cucumber, tomatoes and olives in a food processor, but don’t overprocess. Transfer to a colander to drain. I used paper towels to “dry” up the mixture as much as possible, before finishing the dip.

Clean out the food processor, than add the spinach, yogurt, olive oil, garlic and salt and purée. Add half of the feta cheese and purée again. The mixture doesn’t have to be completely smooth.

Transfer the spinach mixture to a large bowl using a rubber spatula. Crumble in the remaining feta, lemon juice and oregano. Give it a stir, then add the cucumber-tomato-olive mixture.

Fold until smooth, check for seasoning, then place in serving bowl.

If desired, sprinkle dip with finely chopped purple onion, chopped parsley or toasted pine nuts. Or all three!

Have you ever had naan dippers?! They’re perfect for this dip, as well as Stacy’s simply naked pita chips – a favorite of mine.

I also cut up some cucumbers and red bell peppers for serving.

This dip is fabulous, and much prettier than I expected it to be. Just whatever you do, don’t eat the dip hovering over the serving bowl!!!
(Sorry, pet peeve of mine.)

* To drain yogurt, I just turn it upside-down on paper towels in a colander; it gets much firmer after two hours.

Chef JP’s Tomato Pie

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A while back I did a post on my favorite green beans. Yes, that’s what I called the post. It’s green beans with shallots, onions, tomatoes, Kalamata olives, and toasted pine nuts, and it’s an exquisite dish.

The recipe came from cookbook Sunshine Cuisine, published in 1994, and authored by Chef Jean-Pierre Brehier, who moved from France to Florida and basically fused French and Floridian cuisine, served in his restaurant The Left Bank. I didn’t realize that Sunshine Cuisine had been a James Beard nominated book, and since then he’s written two more cookbooks.

The reason I bring all of this up, is that in my green bean post, I’d lamented the fact that the chef basically disappeared. And he had, temporarily, but thanks to a recent comment on that post, (July, 2020) I was able to find the chef on his YouTube channel, plus it appears he still has his cooking school and website! He’s pictured in the above right photo. Older, but still alive and kicking! You can read his bio on his website here.

And boy is he entertaining! Chef Jean-Pierre Brehier is definitely French, but he sounds like he’s from the Bronx, with a touch of Louisiana Patois! And he kind of yells, in a passionate way. “If you use crap ingredients, you gonna get crap food!”

The first YouTube video I watched was his most recent, making a tomato pie. The tomato slices were layered with breadcrumbs, Havarti, caramelized onions, and pie crust, cooked in a skillet, then turned upside down at the end, during which time he was making the sign of a cross multiple times. Funny guy.

These are photos from the YouTube video:

In the same video he spent about five minutes griping about how he went to 3 stores, and couldn’t find good fresh tomatoes! And his video was posted on July 16th, 2020. “New Jersey tomatoes are the best. But tomatoes in Florida? The worst.” Then he adds that New Jersey tomatoes are probably good because of all the mobsters in the ground, adding that Italian flavor to produce!!! You seriously should watch him.

Chef JP’s Tomato Pie

1 tablespoon sweet Butter
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
6 large Tomatoes cut into slice ¼ inch thick
1 ½ cup fresh Bread Crumbs, mixed with garlic, parsley and fresh thyme
8 slices Mozzarella or Havarti Cheese
1 ½ cup Caramelized Onions
1 prepared Dough
4 ounces Goat Cheese (Frozen for 2 hours)
2 tablespoons Pesto fairly liquid

Preheat Oven to 400°.

Melt butter and the oil in a 10 inch oven proof skillet; add the tomatoes slices evenly to cover the entire surface. Core the tomatoes first.


Top the tomatoes with the fresh bread crumbs.


Then cover with the sliced cheese.


Then top with the caramelized onion.


Finally cover the entire pan with the prepared dough, tucking dough edges against the side of the skillet.


Bake for 25 minutes or until the dough is golden brown.


Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes. Place a large plate over the pan and invert the tart onto the platter.


Grate the frozen goat cheese.

I didn’t do this part. I wanted to taste the Havarti more. He did also add finely chopped parsley to the top, and I should have done that to make it prettier.

Let the pie rest until warm and serve.


Chef JP did a drizzle of balsamic vinegar on the plate before slicing a piece of pie, and also added a drizzle of pesto mixed with olive oil.

The results were amazing. I also didn’t put a yellow tomato in the middle, I opted for red.


When you cut into the pie you can see the caramelized onions above the crust, the Havarti layer topped with the fresh breadcrumbs, and the tomatoes.


I will definitely be making this pie again next summer.

Watermelon Jicama Salad

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I’ve finally fessed up to subscribing to People Magazine. I feel like it keeps me up-to-date on the who’s who and what’s happening. It’s probably not working because I’ve never been accused by my kids of being hip. But occasionally, there are recipes in the back pages of People, and some times I make them, like this fabulous salad.

It’s watermelon, jicama, Oaxaca cheese, arugula, and candied sunflower seeds, topped with a zingy lime dressing.

The chef is Matthew Trebek, who owns Oso restaurant in Harlem, New York. It serves Southwestern cuisine, and this salad is on the menu. The good thing is that it appears that Oso survived the pandemic.


Chef Trebek is also the son of Alex Trebek, who is a well known game show host in the U.S.

What I loved about this recipe are the two main ingredients – watermelon and jicama. When I went to California to attend college one of my roommates turned me on to jicama. She ate jicama with lime juice and salt, and that’s how eat jicama to this day.

And who doesn’t like watermelon?! Well, I actually have a friend who doesn’t, so I won’t share with him. However, because I still can’t drive because of my hand surgery, I’ve been relying on teenage grocery shoppers for my weekly deliveries. And I ended up with a yellow watermelon!


It tastes the same as the red, of course, but I’m weird about food colors. I prefer red watermelon and red tomatoes.

But I persevered, and wow this salad is incredible. I hope you make it. Seriously.

Watermelon Jicama Salad

1/2 medium shallot
1/2 serrano chile
3/4 cup fresh lime juice
5 tablespoons white sugar, divided
2 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
3/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
4 ounces arugula
1/2 small seedless watermelon (20 ounces) cut into matchsticks
1/4 medium jicama (9 ounces) cut into matchsticks
6 ounces Oaxaca, cut into thin strips

Combine shallot, chile, lime juice, 1 tablespoon of sugar, and 2 1/4 teaspoons of salt in a blender jar. With blender running, add oil in a steady stream until blended, about 30 seconds. Set aside.

Place sunflower seeds and remaining 4 tablespoons of sugar in a medium skillet over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until sugar has caramelized and amber in color, about 9 minutes.

Pour onto a baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper, and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Cool completely, about 15 minutes. Break apart into clusters.

Arrange greens, watermelon and jicama on a large platter. Scatter with cheese strips.

Top with candied seeds and add about 1/2 cup dressing.


Then dig in!

It’s really flavorful with the arugula mixed in with the other ingredients, and the dressing is fabulous.

I’m making it again soon, but omitting the candied sunflower seeds. I didn’t feel they were an integral part of the salad, but if you want crunch, include them.

Esquites

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Elote is the Mexican name for grilled corn on the cob that is coated in spices and cheese. Esquites is everything from the cob removed and served basically as a corn salad. These salad recipes are also called Mexican street corn salad.

I’ve never gone crazy with the whole elote idea, mostly because it’s messy to eat that way. However, with the corn removed from the cob, other yummy ingredients added, plus a zingy dressing? I’ll eat that with a spoon!

The two recipes I printed a while back and saved, are from two of my favorite blogs – Tricia’s Saving Room for Dessert and Laura’s Hummingbird Thyme. I decided to fuse the two and see what happened!

Mexican Street Corn Salad

Salad:
6 firm corn cobs in their husks
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 purple onion, finely chopped
2 small red bell peppers, finely chopped
A dozen or so green onions, thinly sliced
8 ounces feta cheese

Dressing:
1/3 cup good mayonnaise
1/3 cup sour cream
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 small cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
1 teaspoon salt

For serving:
Extra crumbled Mexican cheese or feta
Freshly chopped cilantro
Cayenne pepper flakes

Begin by “cooking” the corn cobs in the microwave. Wrap the cobs in a dish towel, and cook on high for 8 minutes. Let them cool in the microwave first for about 5 minutes, then remove them from the microwave.


When the corn cobs have cooled down, remove the husks and silk. With this microwave technique, they come off really easily. Roll the cobs in oil poured onto a flat surface like a jelly roll pan, to get the corn completely coated.

Using your gas stove top, grill the corn, just as you would roast chile peppers, until some of the corn is charred. Continue until all six have been grilled. Set pan aside to let the corn cool further.

Make the dressing by combining all of the ingredients in a blender jar; set aside at room temperature. Refrigerate if not using right away.

Cut the corn off of the cobs, break them into smaller pieces and place The corn in a large serving bowl.

Add the onion, red bell peppers, green onions, and toss together well.

Add the dressing and stir. You might not want to add the whole amount if you’re not into heavy dressings.


To serve, sprinkle the salad with more cheese if desired, and cilantro, and offer cayenne pepper flakes for those who like spicy!


Cotija cheese is a popular crumbly Mexican cheese, but I find it too salty. If you like it, definitely use it, or use feta cheese.


The salad is mostly about the corn, but you could always include an avocado and/or tomatoes in the salad. And, you could also add white or black beans.


The basic salad ingredients can be tossed together ahead of time, but only add the onions right before serving.


If you want more smokiness, use a smoky paprika, and up the chipotle powder a bit.

note: If you want the corn to look more yellow, skip the grilling part.

Smoked Cherry Jam

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In July of this year, my husband and I had the pleasure of experiencing a bit of Montana. It’s been on our travel bucket list for years, specifically Glacier National Park, which did not disappoint.

Our home base was the Lodge at Whitefish Lake, and we had a few outstanding meals at their restaurant. To start off our last meal before flying home, we ordered a charcuterie and cheese platter. There was elk sausage, prosciutto, artisan cheeses, pickled vegetables, pears and more, but what really got my attention was a cherry jam of sorts, pictured here on the Montana-shaped board. It looked like perhaps it was made with dried cherries.

On the menu it was referred to as a chutney, made with Montana’s famous Flathead cherries. But it was not savory enough to be a chutney in my book. The cherries were soft, in a not-very-sweet syrup, and had a smoky punch that really took me by surprise.

I knew when I got home I’d try to replicate this condiment. I decided to use my stove-top smoker and seriously smoke fresh cherries.

It worked really well. Here is the jam paired with goat cheese on a cracker.

Smoked Cherry Jam

1 pound cherries, firm and unblemished
2 tablespoons cherry wood, pulverized
16 ounces cherry or pomegranate juice
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
Pinch of salt

Rinse the cherries, and dry them. De-stem and pit the cherries.


Prepare a stove-top grill and use cherry wood.


Place the pitted cherries in the grill, start up the heat, and when you see smoke, cover the grill and lower the heat. You’re not trying to cook the cherries, just add smoke flavor to them.


The cherries smoked for 30 minutes.

Heat the oven to 200 degrees; I used a convection setting. I just wanted to dehydrate the cherries a bit. It took 2 hours.

Meanwhile, add the juice and sugar to a pot large enough to hold the cherries. Stir till the sugar is dissolved and reduce the mixture until syrupy. Depending on the juice, you might have to adjust the amount of sugar. I wanted a syrup consistency, but not a super-sweet syrup.

Let the syrup cool slightly, then add the lemon juice, chipotle powder, and salt. Stir well, then stir in the smoked and somewhat dehydrated cherries.

I paired the condiment with goat cheese, brie, apples, fresh cherries, and rosemary crackers.


The jam was delicious with brie.


The smokiness was spot on. I just love this jam!


I can really see the jam being paired with roast pork or turkey. It would be fabulous with duck or brisket.


The pairing possibilities are endless, really. It takes a little work to make this jam, but so worth it!

Corn-Tomato Salad with Tapenade

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Did I need another French cookbook? A resounding NO, but when I read about this one, Dinner in French by Melissa Clark, published in 2020, I knew I would love it.

I love personal stories, so the introduction in this book was a great read. Ms. Clark tells the story about how her Great-Aunt Martha and Uncle Jack “dragged” her parents to Europe, and they fell in love with France. After she and her sister were born, the annual trips to France continued, sometimes renting houses, other times exchanging houses, which allowed them to stay put for a month AT A TIME, in various regions of France.

Ms. Clark writes about her cooking, “It’s all right there, rooted in my New York-Jewish-Francophile DNA. And my cooking ends up playfully and unmistakably French. At our house, the conversation might be in English, but dinner’s in French.”

According to Ms. Clark, “This salad is all about the contrast between the sugar-sweet corn and the salty olive tapenade. Since many commercial tapenade shamefully neglect to include anchovies along with the olives and capers, I like to make my own.” I do as well.

I did learn a trick from the author. She suggests microwaving whole corn cobs, 5 minutes for four. I simply wrapped them in a towel first. What I didn’t expect was that the husk part came off in basically one piece. No corn silk with which to deal. Fabulous trick.

Fresh Corn and Tomato Salad with Tapenade

For the tapenade dressing:
1 1/2 cups pitted Kalamata olives
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves
2 tablespoons capers, drained
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Grated zest of 1/2 lemon
Juice of 1 lemon, plus more as needed
2 oil-packed anchovy fillets, chopped
1 garlic clove, finely grated or minced
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the salad:
4 ears fresh corn, cooked, kernels sliced off and reserved
1 pint red cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
3/4 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
3/4 cup fresh parsley leaves

Flaky sea salt, for serving
Sliced baguette, for serving

Combine the olives, basil, parsley, capers, oil, lemon zest and juice, anchovies, garlic, and pepper in a blender. Pulse to form a coarse paste. Taste, and add more lemon juice if it tastes flat.

Toss the corn kernels, tomatoes, red onions, basil, and parsley together in a large bowl. Fold in just enough tapenade to coat the vegetables.


Sprinkle the salad lightly with flaky sea salt, and serve it with the remaining tapenade and some bread alongside.


There is actually quite of bit of tapenade “dressing” for this salad, so you can always spread it on the bread while enjoying the salad.

I also think white beans would be really good in this salad, along with the corn and tomatoes.

But as it is… fabulous. And a great idea to use tapenade as a base for a dressing. I added a bit more lemon juice.

This salad would be a perfect picnic salad, served alongside grilled chicken, ham sanwiches, or sausages.

Saltado with Shrimp

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Where I live, in a town of 50,000, there is no “fine” dining. There are three restaurants my husband and I go to (I can’t even say frequent) when I want a break from cooking. Sadly, we maintain low expectations. Otherwise, we’d be terribly disappointed, instead of just able to laugh things off.

It’s not only the lack of quality and consistency of the food, but the terrible menus (this problem is not limited to my town) and the crazy bad service.

The only exception is Mexican restaurants. Thank god for these. There are quite a few, and we have our favorites, but it took years for them to reach the quality they are today. I can’t count how many times we experienced rancid chips or stale chips, overcooked chicken, bad salsa, etc. And why serve queso that’s “free” but tastes like dish water?

Anyway, we are now enjoying happier times when it comes to local Mexican restaurants. My favorite is one with a salsa bar. My husband’s favorite serves decent tasting salsa, but it’s served ice cold, and I’m constantly removing tomato peels from my mouth, which drives me crazy. But my husband loves their quesadillas.

We were at this restaurant recently when I spotted a menu item called Saltado, which could be chicken, beef, or shrimp. I was served this lovely plate of food, after choosing shrimp version.

What I loved about this dish was that the shrimp were perfectly cooked, and it was fresh and light. This isn’t typical with Mexican food in Oklahoma, being that we’re so close to Texas. But this Saltado could have been served at a Mexican restaurant in Malibu.

It turns out that Saltado originates from Peru, but when I read about it, it was really nothing like what I was served, so I’m not going to get into it. Like the fact that’s it’s more of a Chinese stir fry with beef, vegetables, and French fries. What? Maybe I shouldn’t google.

So here is my rendition of Saltado.

Saltado with Shrimp

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
2 poblano chile peppers, finely chopped
1 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons of oil
1 1/2 pounds raw shrimp, cleaned, peeled
Tajin seasoning or your favorite seasoning salt
Chopped cilantro

For serving:
Street-sized flour tortillas
Guacamole
Sour cream
Refried beans

In a large skillet, heat the oil over high heat. Add the onion and peppers and toss them around until there’s a bit of caramelization, then turn down the heat and sauté for 8-10 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft. Add the tomatoes and seasoning, and cook gently until there’s no liquid in the skillet.

Once the vegetables are “dry” place them on a serving platter. Cover lightly with foil to keep warm and set aside.

Heat the same skillet, dried out with paper towels if necessary, with the oil. Over medium heat, sauté the shrimp just until they’re pink and opaque. Season them generously with Tajin Seasoning. Place the shrimp over the vegetables.

Sprinkle the chopped cilantro over the top, if desired, and serve immediately.

Offer warm tortillas and bowls of guacamole, sour cream, and pico de gaillo or salsa. If you have (crazy) people eating who don’t like cilantro, serve it separately in a bowl as well.

If you prefer, roast the poblano peppers first, then peel, remove seeds, and chop. You won’t need to sauté them with the onions.

I also served refried beans heated with some cheese. At the restaurant they serve both beans and rice.


And, this mixture works really well for making shrimp tacos!

Alcudla Cocktail

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So you know how I like to write on my blog posts? Some might even say I ramble a bit, but when you’ve reached my age, there are a lot of stories. And when you’re a foodie, there are lots of memorable food and drink experiences. Well, I have nothing to say in this post. All I know is that I’ve had this cocktail written down to make for years. And it’s not from one of my cocktail books.

My only reference that I jotted down is a website called Cocktail Builder, which I just looked at to remind myself what it is. And it’s a brilliant website.

You start with choosing, for example, to search for gin or vodka cocktails. Alternatively, you can list ingredients you have on hand, and those can be integral components of the resulting cocktail. As it states on the website, “add the stuff from your bar to see the cocktails you can make.”

So here’s my cocktail that I wrote down so long ago. It contains gin, Galliano, Creme de Banane, and grapefruit juice.

Now, the reason perhaps that it’s taken me so long to make this, is because the ingredients together are so strange. And I don’t even like Galliano.

However, I finally made it. It’s interesting. And how it got created for me on Cocktail Builder, I’ll never know, because gin is the only one of four ingredients that I always have on hand.

Well, here you go. Make it if you dare. And keep in mind that 3 of the 4 components are alcoholic.

Alcudla
Mixed Drink Recipe from Cocktail Builder
Makes 1 drink

2 oz of gin
1 oz of galliano
1 oz of creme de banana
1 oz of grapefruit juice

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

Garnish with a twist of grapefruit peel.

I preferred mine served over a generous amount of ice.


The next time I make this drink, if there is a next time, I will use 1/2 ounce of Galliano per drink. It just was too botanical for me.

My husband liked the drink. He said it was “minty.”

Crunchy Pea Salad

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I am American. Born here, bred here. But I’ve never been a big fan of American food. I just wasn’t raised on it. In fact, I can vividly remember the times I was subjected to traditional American dishes after I left home, like beanie weenies, jello salad, sweet potatoes with marshmallows, and poppy seed dressing. The list is actually very long, I just don’t want to make anyone feel like they have to defend the kind of food on which he/she was raised. I was just fed differently.

My mother was raised in France, and knew no other way to create meals for my sister and I than the local farm-to-table approach. She shopped often, harvested from the ocean, the forest, and her own garden, made everything from scratch, and nothing went to waste.

When I was growing up, my mother made croissants and éclairs. I never had a donut. She also began learning about various global cuisines when I was a tween, so dinners were everything from Chinese hot pot, to Russian coulibiac, to Ethiopian wats. I had no idea what mac and cheese was. Frozen food, fast food and coke? Never. So I truly come by my food snobbiness naturally.

Years ago I left behind a friend in California when I moved to the Midwest after getting married in 1982. Although only 10 years my senior, she had a young family that I adored, and I was often invited for dinner. Spaghetti was an involved meal for her, even though she bought the sauce in a jar, the Parmesan in the green carton, and the garlic bread in a foil wrapper. But it was wonderful. I loved being at her house with her family, which I learned quickly was way more important than the food on the table.

Jeanne actually inspired me a lot, although I didn’t really realize it back then. I was quite young, and had no immediate plans on marrying and having children, but she was a wonderful mother and unconsciously I learned from her.

One day, she served a salad called crunchy pea salad. She had gotten the recipe out of one of her Junior League cookbooks*.

I am not going to say anything about those cookbooks, with plastic bindings and recipes like Aunt Susan’s Favorite Cake and Velveeta Rotel Dip. I’ve probably already lost followers from my anti-American food comments.

But this salad was great! And really unique!!! And to this day I’ve kept the recipe, and actually made it a few times. I’ve never heard of it elsewhere, or seen it on a blog, but I suspect it’s fairly well known considering the source.

You can’t beat the ingredients: peas, bacon, cashews, celery, green onions, and sour cream, which all go together beautifully. It’s great to serve at a picnic, or garden buffet, or even a brunch.

So thank you Jeanne for this recipe and your lovely family of which I got to be a part for a short time.

Crunchy Pea Salad

1 – 16 ounce package petite peas, thawed
8 ounces diced bacon
1 cup finely chopped celery
1/4 cup sliced green onions
1 cup salted and roasted cashews
1 cup sour cream, divided
Approximately 1/3 cup vinaigrette, see below

Place the thawed peas over paper towels in a bowl and set aside.

Crisply fry the bacon bits and drain well on paper towels; set aside to cool.


Have your celery and green onions prepared and ready.

Since I didn’t have roasted and salted cashews, I actually roasted mine in the leftover bacon grease. I must say, they almost disappeared before I could put the salad together.

For the vinaigrette, I used a basic recipe as follows:

1/2 cup sherry vinegar, but apple cider will work just as well
1/2 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 small cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt

Blend everything together well. This recipe makes more than you need for the salad, so keep the leftover vinaigrette in a jar and refrigerate.

Separately, I blended 1/2 cup of sour cream along with only 1/3 cup vinaigrette for the salad. Shake it well in a jar and set aside.

To assemble the salad, remove the damp paper towels from the bowl with the peas. Add the celery and green onions.


Add the remainder 1/2 cup sour cream, and the dressing and stir gently to combine.

I placed the mixture in a serving bowl.


Normally, the bacon and the cashews would be included in the salad, but for the sake of photography, I sprinkled them both on top.

I also sprinkled some salt and coarsely ground pepper.

I served extra dressing, but even as a lover of dressings and vinaigrettes, no more is needed for this salad.

Make sure to add the cashews only at the last minute. The cashews are part of the crunch in the crunchy pea salad.

* Before you even think about writing a comment defending Junior League cookbooks of America, please know that I’ve actually been featured in one, and I’m very proud of that fact. Over the years, the cookbooks have really evolved, and now have normal bindings, gorgeous photos, and creative recipes. Below is a blurb from a write-up about me, in Cooking by the Boot Straps, published in the town where I live.

xx

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