Winter

farrosaladWhen I first got married  I used to ask my husband if he wanted salad with dinner, the answer was usually "no." After a few years I wised up and started serving him salad without asking first. But often he didn't eat much of it, despite my raving "Have some salad! It's delicious!"  Lately I've hit upon a solution. I serve salad as a main dish, or pile everything onto it so it's an integral part of the meal. Main dish salads, if only someone had told me 12 years ago! 

During the Winter or whenever it's cold outside salads, either side salads or main dish salads are not top of mind, but they should be. Just as Summer is the perfect time for cold soup, Winter is the ideal season to try a warm salad. I like to start with a cooked grain like farro or quinoa then use seasonal fruits or vegetables and add some heartier elements too, in this case feta cheese and almonds. 

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grapefruitcurdThere was a wicker basket filled with pink grapefruit sitting on my counter. In the background, my kitchen window was like a snow globe, showcasing big flakes falling thickly in the woods.

Scones were baking in the oven, sending off curls of cinnamon aroma, and they were almost done. Now was the time to definitely decide what to make to serve with them, and the quickest recipe I could think of was to make curd. It's one of the most asked for recipes from the students in my cooking classes so I could do it with my eyes closed, but the problem was, no lemons. Thank goodness! The pink grapefruit made the most luscious, tart, sweet, amazing curd. And it only took minutes.

Requiring only 4 ingredients, I was able to whip this up and cool it in time to serve with the scones, which also needed a few minutes to cool down to room temperature.

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ImageIt's that time of year again when everyone is ready to jump onto the get-fit wagon. I could easily say that I should include myself in thatgroup, but I believe it's best to start by taking small steps before diving into a plan that you might not keep up. My first step for the New Year is a healthy one, it's simply to eat more healthy foods, like whole grains and to limit my intake of sugar. I actually love whole grains, but I just don't eat them often enough. Luckily my only downfall sugar-wise is chocolate, so it's easy for me to exclude sweets and candies entirely. But I've recently found myself using agave syrup as my choice of sweetener. That was my first step, what's yours?

Eating whole grains doesn't just mean switching your morning toast from white to wheat. It means eating actual whole grains preferably in their minimally processed forms. In place of white rice try brown. Eat steel-cut oats rather than instant. Try some different whole grains, like amaranth, millet, buckwheat, barley, or bulgur. Bulgur is one of my favorites. If you've ever had Middle Eastern or Turkish food, you've probably already eaten bulgur without knowing. The salad tabbouleh and the meatballs called kofta or kefteh are made with bulgur. It's not an unrecognizable grain, bulgur is actually wheat.

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ImageOh this little butternet squash tarte tatin, how much do I love you? Enough to have you three times over the past few weeks, all for the sake of “recipe testing”, you know.

And honestly, this upside-down tart is probably one of the best things I’ve had all season, if I do say so myself.

Sweet butternut squash is roasted and then placed on top of caramel in a baking pan. The whole thing is covered with puff pastry and baked, and when it’s ready you invert the whole thing onto a plate and just go for it. I’ve tried to be nice when eating this but you can’t, it just disappears so fast. It was a hit during our Friendsgiving last month, but in a quick misfire of timing and communication it landed on the table during the meal and not as dessert. You know what? It didn’t matter. It was sweet and buttery, perfect with Gaby’s stuffing and just about everything else that afternoon.

Honestly, I do think you’ll love it.

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beefdaubeWhat are chilly winter days without comfort foods to soothe our weary souls and hungry stomachs? One of the best examples of comfort food is the stew. In it's basic form, a stew is relatively inexpensive meat stewed with vegetables in flavorful liquid. It takes simple preparation to put together, then it's just a matter of waiting for it cook. But the most important part about a stew is that it be hearty enough to keep hunger at bay for a long time. Beef stew is the remedy! And who knows beef stew better than the French?

Boeuf Bourguignon, the dish made famous by Julia Child, is the best example of French country cuisine. An entire bottle of Burgundy separates this champion from the contenders. But each region has its own famous stew. Provençe has beef daube, a Mediterranean-style stew with bright flavors influenced by surrounding Italy and north Africa. This stew might not be as well known as beef Burgundy but it's amazing in it's own right.

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