Category Archives: salad

Lovin’ Local Spring Greens and Rosé Champagne!

Christina Nifong, Culinary Instructor, Food Writer and Blogger Extraordinaire!

Local For Lunch: Welcoming Spring!

Christina’s culinary classes include lunch she creates out of local ingredients, many of them right out of her own garden!

Please visit Christina’s website and subscribe to her newsletter where she shares lots of her cooking and gardening expertise and fabulous recipes:  http://christinanifong.com

Christina’s Local For Lunch classes at the Roanoke Natural Foods Co-op are always colorful!  Pictured above Radicchio (a type leaf chicory, sometimes known as Italian chicory.  It is grown as a leaf vegetable which usually has white-veined red leaves. It has a slightly bitter and spicy taste, which mellows when it is grilled or roasted) that is sold at the Co-op.  Rainbow carrots mixed with radishes (from Christina’s garden) are in the middle photo and fresh mint from Christina’s garden is pictured at the right.

Christina introduced us to kale flowers for salad.  The kale in her garden had bolted and bloomed so she cut the flowers and chopped them up to add to the lovely green salad she made for us.

Another delicious salad ingredient that Christina introduced us to is Black Rice sometimes known as “Forbidden Rice”.  I love Christina’s recipe. She cooked the rice in vegetable broth and added about 1 tablespoon (to one cup uncooked rice) coconut oil to the rice while it was cooking. These flavors made the rice taste rich and yummy. She served the rice cold to serve alongside our salad greens.

Black rice is an ancient grain that was once reserved for only Chinese royalty.  It contains many healthy elements including disease-fighting antioxidants.

After attending Christina’s classes I have gained more respect and love for fresh seasonal produce, but I must admit, I still LOVE the dressing!  My favorite part of this class was Christina’s Poppy Seed Dressing.

Poppy Seed Dressing

by christinanifong

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup sweet onion (about a quarter of a large onion)
  • 1 tsp. fine sea salt
  • 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup honey (local if you can get it)
  • 1 tsp. ground mustard
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup canola or avocado oil
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. poppy seeds

Instructions

  1. In a food processor, using the knife blade, chop onion, with salt, until ingredients are ground into a liquidy paste.
  2. Add vinegar, honey and mustard. Process until all is well-mixed.
  3. Mix two oils together in a pitcher or measuring cup with a spout. Slowly (so slowly!) pour oil into the food processor while processing. The slower you go, the better incorporated the oil will be with the other ingredients.
  4. Add poppy seeds and mix gently. Pour salad dressing into an air-tight container (such as a Mason jar) and keep in the refrigerator for up to a week. If dressing separates, shake to recombine.

Another fun find at the Roanoke Natural Foods Co-op:  Lacinato Kale or “black cabbage” in Italian is well-known in Italian cuisine. Slightly sweeter and more delicate than curly kale. This is the green that we see so often in Italian soups and pastas.

It’s always nice to celebrate Spring with a little rosé bubbly.  We popped open a bottle of Paul Déthune Brut Rosé this weekend. 80% Pinot Noir, 20% Chardonnay grapes.  Absolutely delightful with notes of wild strawberry, peach and Meyer lemon. Very fine mousse. $50 range.

We also had the opportunity to taste Lagard Altas Cumbres Extra Brut 2013 from Mendoza, Argentina this weekend.  Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Sémillon blend prepared under the Charmat (tank) method. Young, fresh and fruity with light citrus and apricot flavors. A fun little sparkling wine for casual sipping in the $10 range.

We toasted our kitchen remodel (kitchen and dining room demolition completed, next step is plumbing and electrical) with Champagne Lelarge-Pugeot Les Meuniers de Clemence NV.  Look what we found in the wall ~ Garst Brothers Dairy paper milk container.  This container has probably been in the wall since our house was built in 1952.

You are invited to visit my Facebook page:  Bubblybee

Grilled Romaine With Bacon, Fresh Corn Aioli And Ricotta Salata + Cider!

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The perfect entrée salad recipe for autumn…grilled romaine and charred fresh corn… yummy smokey taste…like a happy little picnic in your mouth.

For an entree size portion:

1 head romaine lettuce. Wash and trim off any brown spots on the romaine lettuce. Leave the end of the romaine intact.

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4 pieces black pepper thick cut bacon, fried crisp and crumbled, reserve the bacon fat.

1 ear fresh corn, grill until tender and lightly charred.  Take the ear of corn off the grill and remove kernels of corn from the cob with a sharp knife.

Roasted corn aioli  for garnish.

Heat the grill.  Brush romaine lettuce with bacon fat on both sides.

Place romaine on hot grill and grill until it is slightly wilted and charred (approximately 5 minutes over medium heat).  Turn romaine over and char on the opposite side.  Remove from heat and place on a serving plate.  Cut off the stem end of the romaine and discard.

Heat the corn kernels in the remaining bacon fat. Heat over high heat so that the corn browns just a bit. Pile the corn on either end of the grilled romaine on the serving plate.  Sprinkle the grilled romaine with crumbled bacon and finely grate Ricotta Salata cheese over the bacon. Dollop a small spoonful of corn aoili on top of the salad. (I used Private Selection brand Roasted Corn Aioli but you can make your own…here’s a link to a recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/aioli-recipe.html)   Serve immediately.

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Virginia Cider Week is right around the corner!  November 11 – 20, 2016.

On Saturday we visited Mr. Bill’s Wine Cellar for a  Foggy Ridge Cider Tasting.

http://mrbillswinecellar.com

The lovely Devon Steiner, representing Foggy Ridge Cider provided tastings of their cider…here’s the lineup:

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Devon explained that their cider contains apple juice, yeast and Co2 and no other additives.  I enjoy the light effervesce of this cider that tickles my nose and I love the rich apple flavors that are so unique in each cider.

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If you want a cider that’s fruit forward and has a tang of fresh apples this is the cider for you. Although it is perfectly lovely on its own, I prefer a tiny bit of sweetness to my “sippin’ cider” so I would tend to pair this cider with food. Foggy Ridge suggests pairing their Stayman Winesap with spicy foods.

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The First Fruit Foggy Ridge cider was sweeter than the Stayman Winesap.  I declare it just fine for sippin’! Foggy Ridge website suggests browning a pork roast in bacon then roast in First Fruit cider and stock, with apples and onions…yum!

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The Foggy Ridge Handmade Cider is bottled in baby champagne bottles…adorable! Devon explained that this cider is dry like champagne…crisp with a smooth finish.

Here’s a link to a lovely article including an interview with Diane Flynt, the orchardist (as well as picker, presser, and cidermaker) at Foggy Ridge:

http://drinks.seriouseats.com/2011/03/the-cider-press-foggy-ridge-cider-in-dugspur-virginia.html

And a link to  the Foggy Ridge newsletter sign-up:

http://foggyridgecider.com/category/inspiration/

Devon shared with us that there is a lot to look forward to during Virginia Cider Week including:

Annual Roanoke Foggy Ridge Cider Cocktail Competition
The gloves are off as local restaurants and bars vie to see who can make the best cocktail using Foggy Ridge Cider brands. Joining the competition once again is Local Roots, Lucky, Fortunato,  River and Rail, and the newest competitor added this year Blue Apron.  The public votes by purchasing cider cocktails from any or all of the Cider Cocktail locations. At the end of Cider Week, we see who sold the most cocktails and they are named the winner. Many of these cocktails have gone on to further fame in other competitions across the state and country. It’s a great way to see how versatile cider really is in the masterful hands of our participants. Come out and “vote” for your favorite.

Foggy Ridge’s website…http://foggyridgecider.com/events

And for dessert? Here’s a recipe for Apple Cider Doughnuts from Food and Wine Magazine:

http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/apple-cider-doughnuts?xid=NL_DAILY103116

And Foggy Ridge Pippin Gold Cider… made with apple brandy…a dessert style cider with a higher alcohol content (18%). Delicious and perfectly fabulous with dessert.  Foggy Ridge recommends  peaches soaked in Pippin Gold served with homemade pound cake.

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Christina Nifong Presents ~ Fabulous Fall Recipes

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Life is short…eat dessert first…Christina’s  fabulous apple cake…so moist…the secret ingredient is cream cheese!

This past weekend my bubbly friend and I enjoyed Christina Nifong’s (local writer and gardener extraordinaire in Roanoke, Virginia) Local For Lunch, Featuring Fall cooking class at the Roanoke Natural Foods Co-Op.

It’s easy to find out more about the Co-Op’s cooking and health classes, just sign-up for their newsletter using this link:

Co-op Classes and Events

Here’s the link to Christina Nifong’s Fabulous Fall Recipes:

https://christinanifong.com/category/recipes

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Christina prepared her delicious recipes with ingredients from the Co-Op and her own garden. The appetizer she served was a yummy Blue Cheese Herb Spread.  (Goat cheese or feta cheese can be substituted for the blue cheese.)

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We enjoyed a roasted beet salad that was as colorful, crunchy and delicious!  It lived up to it’s name Beautiful Beet Salad. Most beet salads have the goat cheese sprinkled on top of the beets but this salad mixes the cheese with the other ingredients resulting in a creamy dressing.

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Christina served us Thai Butternut Squash Soup for our second course. One of the ingredients in the soup was “Hen of the Woods Mushroom”, known as a Maitake mushroom in Japan which translates to “Dancing Mushroom”. These mushrooms grow at the base of trees (particularly fond of oak trees).

Chistina recommended using a grapefruit spoon to scoop out the seeds out of the butternut squash. The fresh ginger, jalapeno, lime juice and Thai basil give this soup a pleasant spiciness.

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We gobbled up these Pumpkin Cornbread Muffins (Gluten-free)!

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I enjoy buying my dried herbs and spices at the Co-op because they sell them by the pound. I purchase just what I need. I no longer have to throw away herb and spice cans that have gone out of date.  These items seem to be more fresh than the grocery store dried herbs and spices…especially the vanilla bean! Honey is also available by the pound.

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I was so inspired by Christina’s class that I purchased some Delicata squash (pictured above) at the Co-op. This squash lives up to it’s name…delicate taste, easy to roast…here’s a lovely recipe to try:

http://www.eatingwell.com/recipe/250176/roasted-delicata-squash-onions/

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I picked up a copy of Christopher Kimball’s MILK STREET magazine at the Roanoke Co Op. They have a nice selection of culinary magazines.  MILK STREET  may remind the reader of Cook’s Illustrated magazine which is more than a coincidence…Kimball founded Cook’s Illustrated magazine.  The charter issue, Fall 2016 includes an article about champagne glasses, which of course caught my eye:  The Trouble with Champagne Flutes.  

They recommend not the classic coupe or traditional flute, but the sturdy wine glass:

The classic red or white wine glass – with its broad, stable foot and a bulbous-bottomed bowl – is just about perfect.  The bowl allows the wine to be agitated and aerated with a motion of the wrist (swirling!)…the pros ditch them (flutes) when tasting and judging sparkling wines. They know flutes are for orchestras, not fine wine.

Sounds good to me except that I have dozens of champagne flutes that I can’t bear to toss out. I do look forward to tasting some finer champagnes in a chardonnay glass just for the taste experience.

Quinoa?

One of our fellow guests shared this website:  http://www.simplyquinoa.com/

I shared with the group that the liquid that is drained off canned garbanzo beans can be whipped like egg whites to use in recipes such as this began meringue:

http://www.thekitchn.com/this-gorgeous-vegan-meringue-is-made-from-the-most-surprising-ingredient-220651

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Since we’re celebrating local and Fall today, I am happy to shard a very happy occurrence at Sweet Donkey Coffee a local coffee shop in Roanoke, Virginia.  The Pumpkin Latte is back!  They make their own fresh pumpkin puree for the lattes.  Fabulousity!!!

Happy Fall!

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Asian~Inspired Shrimp Salad

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As soon as the first winter snowflake hits the ground I start craving island flavors…fresh seafood, juicy tropical fruits…take me away from all of this chilliness!

This lovely Asian~inspired shrimp salad  from one of my favorite cookbooks Perfect Pairings ~ A Master Sommelier’s Practical Advice for Partnering Wine with Food…Evan Goldstein and recipes by Joyce Goldstein hits all of the flavor notes I am craving.

Pair with off-dry or slightly sweet champagne/sparkling wine such as Moët & Chandon Champagne (France) or Mumm Napa Sparkling Wine (Napa Valley, California).

Serves 4

3 cups dry white wine or water or a combination

1 pound (about 16 to 20) jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined

Vinaigrette:

2/3 cup peanut or olive oil

6 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Grated zest of 2 limes

2 tablespoons brown sugar (I substituted 3 tablespoons of honey for the brown sugar in my vinaigrette)

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes or diced jalapeno chili, or more to taste

Salt to taste (I added freshly ground pepper to my vinaigrette)

2 ripe papayas or mango, or 1 cantaloupe (I added one blood orange, sliced, to my salad)

6 cups assorted lettuces

6 tablespoons torn fresh mint leaves

6 tablespoons fresh basil leaves

In a saucepan, bring the wine to a simmer over medium heat. Add the shrimp and poach until they turn pink, about 3 minutes.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer the shrimp to a bowl. Refrigerate until cold, at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.  Discard the poaching liquid.

For the vinaigrette: In a large bowl, whisk the peanut oil, lime juice, lime zest, brown sugar (or honey) and red pepper flakes to blend.  Season to taste with additional red pepper flakes, if desired, and salt and pepper.

Peel, pit, and dice or slice the selected fruit.  If using papayas, cut them in half and scoop out and discard the seeds.  Dice or slice the flesh.  If using mango, cut off the flesh on either side of the central pit. With a sharp paring knife remove the peel and dice or slice the fruit. If tropical fruit is unavailable, you can substitute slices of cantaloupe and blood orange slices.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the lettuces, mint, and basil.

Toss the shrimp with 1/4 cup of the vinaigrette and marinate for 5 minutes.

Add half of the remaining vinaigrette to the bowl with the lettuces and herbs.  Toss to coat, and divide among individual chilled salad plates. Top with shrimp and fruit. Drizzle remaining vinaigrette on top and serve.

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