Chelsea Monroe-Cassel's Blog: Food Through the Pages
April 8, 2014
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March 13, 2013
“Valabar’s has several salads. Today’s was a combination of the round and the tall, broad-leaf kinds of lettuce, along with flatnuts, blanched tomato wedges, soul of palm, pimentos, scallions, and artichoke heart marinated in sweet vinegar, which functioned as a dressing. A grated nithlan cheese—sharp and musky—was shredded over it, and the whole thing was topped with candied rose petals.
Mihi dished it up with his usual matter-of-fact fluid elegance, and my mouth was watering.”
-Dzur, by Steven Brust
This is a most excellent dish.
The artichoke hearts are particularly nice, as their leaves soak up more of the balsamic, making them a flavor powerhouse. The richness of the hearts of palm contrasts pleasingly with the sharpness of the vinegar. The almonds, in conjunction with the scallions, invoke some taste-memory that I can’t quite place. It’s surprising how well the flavors work together, giving the impression of one dish with several different accents.
All in all, it is a thoroughly quirky salad, but so easy to make, and so well received that it may well become a staple dish in this house!Recipe for Valabar’s Salad
Makes 2 large salads
Ingredients:1/4 cup balsamic vinegar1 Tbs. red wine vinegar1/2 cup heart of palm, chopped into 1″ slices1/4 cup pimento or roasted red pepper, diced4 artichoke hearts, quartered1 head large leaf lettuce1 scallion, sliced thingrated cheese, such as parmesan or gruyere2 Tbs. Marcona almonds1 Tbs. candied rose petals
Blanch the tomatoes: Put a pot of water on the stove and bring to a boil. Cut the stems out of the tomatoes, and cut a small X on the bottom of each fruit. Place in the boiling water, and scoop back out when the skin begins to peel off. Once cool, remove the skins and slice into quarters.
Combine the vinegars in a small bowl. Add the tomatoes, hearts of palm and artichoke, and pimento. Toss and let infuse for at least an hour.
To serve, arrange the lettuce in two serving bowls. Spoon the vinegar ingredients into the bowls, and sprinkle scallions, cheese, and almonds over them. Top with a few small rose petals, and enjoy!
March 6, 2013
“Shadow had no idea what a pasty was, but he said that would be fine, and in a few moments mabel returned with a plate with what looked like a folded-over pie on it. The lower half was wrapped in a paper napkin. Shadow picked it up with the napkin and bit into it: it was warm and filled with meat, potatoes, carrots, onions. ’First pasty I’ve ever had,’ he said. ‘It’s real good.’”
-American Gods, by Neil Gaiman
Rich, savory meat and vegetables wrapped up in pastry. What’s not to love? Pasties are a traditional fare in the UK, where they feature a variety of fillings. Mine is a basic version, although I swapped in some buffalo meat in place of regular beef, and couldn’t be happier with the choice. Each bite has a combination of meat, veg, and flaky pastry just lightly coated with a flavorful gravy.
They are even better with a little sharp cheddar and/or sauce, such as chutney or ketchup.Lakeside Pasties Recipe
Prep time: 45 minutes Makes: ~10 pasties
Ingredients:pastry dough for 2 pie crusts5 slices bacon2 carrots, chopped small1 medium potato, chopped small1/2 onion, diced1/2 tsp. salt1 lb. meat (good beef, bison, venison, or lamb are all great)2 Tbs. butter, divided1 Tbs. flour1/2 cup beef broth1 egg, beaten, for wash
Fry the bacon in a large pan until just crispy. Remove the bacon, leaving the grease. Add the vegetables to the grease and cook for around two minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour in about 1/2 cup of water, cover, and allow to simmer for another few minutes, until the potatoes and carrots can be easily pierced with a fork. Scoop out the vegetables, leaving as much of the liquid behind as possible.
Into the liquid, melt a Tbs. of butter. Sprinkle in a Tbs. of flour, stirring all the while. When this mixture begins to thicken, add the broth and continue to mix until the whole is one relatively smooth consistency. Pour into a separate bowl with the bacon and veggies.
Season meat with a generous pinch of salt. Melt another Tbs. butter in the pan, and brown the meat. Pour the gravy-veggie mixture back into the pan with the browned meat. Stir around to mix up completely.
Roll out the dough to a little under 1/4″ thick, and cut out 8″ circles. Fill with a heaping serving of the filling. Brush the edge with beaten egg, fold the dough over, and seal with a fork.
Bake for 30 minutes at 350F.
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