Winter salads are often more bitter or hardy than their summer counterparts. We lack the natural sweetness of berries, a lot of sweet fruit, tomatoes, light greens and other bright summer flavors. We’re left with dense offerings such as carrots, onions, kale, mache, and other bitter greens. This is a simple technique that combines vinegar, sugar and fruit preserves to create a sweet-and-sour dressing that is also fat-free (though I’m a proponent of fat). We used part of a jar of preserves that were recently given to us to make the quince jelly gastrique.
Over the last few years we’ve found that a key to enjoying our pantry is to find diverse ways to use the flavors it provides. We’ve used jam to glaze meats, make cocktails, sweeten smoothies and played with various salad dressing recipes (including a very standard strawberry jam vinaigrette).
We used strawberry jam for this recipe but any jam could be used in its place as the other ingredients are fairly neutral.
Last nights winder salad incorporates tahini to emulsify it. Emulsifying simply means to incorporate the oil and vinegar into one sauce as opposed to a separated dressing. Here is a picture of our salad (it used plenty of winter ingredients yet brought the flavours of summer into our dreary winter evening):
I picked up a small tip in cooking class last week about making salad dressing and I’ve used it 3 times – it’s been fantastic and has changes the way I make salad dressing.
Before mixing oil and vinegar, pour your vinegar into a bowl and salt it. Stir or shake the bowl to incorporate the salt before adding the oil. Salt will not easily dissolve into oil so salting the vinegar allows you to evenly season your dressing far easier than adding it to the oil!
What little tricks have you learned in the kitchen lately (or you’ve known for a long time and want to share)?
I had really planned on building a cold frame this winter – unfortunately that will be a goal I’ll miss this year. Fall brought some unexpected challenges and we’re well into the dark of winter (although maybe I’ll get my butt moving for Spring!)
Thankfully we have a thriving community of farmers markets in Toronto and a lot of options though the winter. I was thrilled to find a new-to-me ingredient two weeks ago called Mache (also known as ‘corn salad’ or lamb’s lettuce).
I’ve always been told to think of mushrooms as sponges – they soak up anything they are submerged in (which is why most well-seasoned cooks will wipe them clean but not wash them in water). As we prepared for New Years I thought a lot about letting them soak as much butter as I could.
I’m a fan of dim sum. It offers a myriad of flavors, textures and cooking styles that somehow all find a way to work with hot sauce. There’s also plenty of less-than-healthy options which, I can freely admit, delight my indulgent side.
Other than being disc-shaped, green onion pancakes don’t resemble the pancakes of my youth at all. They are crispy on the outside and their inside is flaky and pleasantly doughy. The pancakes are often filled with chunks of green onion which takes the tastes right off the breakfast table and onto lunch or dinner. They are a pleasure to eat with your hands – you gently tear chunks of the flesh and different layers of the dough roughly separate from one another.
Over the last few years, many farmers in the Toronto area have learned to extend summer and fall crops into the fall through planting different crops, cold frames, natural greenhouses, different storage techniques, trenches dug under the frost line and more.
We’re still finding arugula, carrots, and tomatoes (they’ve been ripened in storage). Looking for a bigger taste of summer, we made a great dressing with strawberry jam tonight.
It’s radish season around here. We were fortunate to find a pile of gorgeous ‘watermelon radishes.’ They are slightly milder than most (although they still have plenty of radish punch). We opted for a simple salad and it was a great light lunch on the weekend:
I love hummus. The delightfully garlicky, olive-oil rich spread that brings me to happy town.
Today’s recipe still brings me to happy town – it just takes a very different route:
I’m committed to increasing our intake of local leafy greens this winter. I’ll be the first to admit that the idea of salad doesn’t often excite me so I’m looking forward to the challenge of getting excited about them; especially at a time of year that isn’t typically associated with salad.
Tonight’s attempt rocked the casbah: