The Struggle Is Real…

So, who knew it was so muggy on the surface of the sun?Not only do I loathe these 1000 degree days with humidity of 94%, I’m not too crazy about the people who claim to love them.  Plus, I’m not totally convinced they’re telling the truth.

I mean, c’mon!  Do they also love paper cuts and black licorice?

Yeah, sure they do.

I know I’m really good at hiding it, but I’ll let you in on a little secret; the NC summer makes me kinda cranky.  And hot food and hot kitchens just make me crankier.Here’s a perfect summer day for me: fall.

This time of year, I am on a one-woman mission to make farmers rich buying ingredients for an ever-expanding collection of salad recipes.

I always have dried fruits and nuts in the fridge.  It can be any combination.  Mine rotates often; currently, it’s butter-toasted pecans with cherries.  They’re for salads and a million other uses.

Honey poached pears with blue cheesepoached pears3 Bosc pears, peeled, halved, and cored

½ cup honey

1 ½ cups water

¾ cup white wine

½ teaspoon each, kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper

Place water, wine, salt & pepper into large saucepan.  Pour in honey and dissolve.  Add pears, cut side down and cover pot.  Cook on medium-low until a knife easily pierces the fruit (about 20 minutes).  Refrigerate until service.

Dressingblue cheese dr2/3 cup mayonnaise

½ cup buttermilk

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

Salt & pepper

1/3 cup blue cheese, crumbled

½ cup sliced, toasted almonds

Whisk first 4 ingredients together, fold in cheese, season.  Refrigerate for 2 hours.  For service: place one pear on each plate, spoon over dressing, and sprinkle almonds on top.  Serves 6.

Mushroom Ranch Saladshroom salad

4 cups cleaned and sliced mushrooms

½ cup dried fruits and nuts

2 handfuls baby spinach

Salt & pepper

Ranch dressing

Toss first three ingredients.  Add dressing a bit at a time until the salad is barely coated.  Season to taste.  Serves 2.

Warm duck saladwarm duck salad3 duck breasts

3 cups fingerling potatoes, cut into coins and cooked in boiling salted water until fork-tender

½ cup dried fruits and nuts

6 cups mixed salad greens

Shaved white onion

1/3 cup goat cheese

Salt & pepper

Balsamic dressing

Preheat oven to 400 degrees..  Season duck breasts and score skin with very sharp knife into diamond shapes.  Place duck, skin side down into cold cast iron skillet and cook on medium until skin is crispy and golden (8-10 minutes).  Pour off duck fat and save, flip duck skin side up, and move to oven.  Cook until internal temp is around 135 degrees and the meat is medium-rare.Remove from pan and let rest.

While the meat is resting, put potatoes into skillet, and cook, tossing occasionally, until they are browned and crusted, seasoning as needed.

To plate: Put salad greens into a large bowl and add onions, fruits and nuts.  Season.  Drizzle on dressing and toss until lightly coated.  Divide greens onto three plates, sprinkle top with goat cheese, and scatter potatoes onto the edge of the greens.  Slice duck and lay against the spuds.  Serves 3.

Slightly Calmer Spouse Salad

Serves 1spouse salad5 cups salad greens

1/3 cup fruit and nuts

1/3 cup crumbled goat or blue cheese

Shaved white onion

Salt & pepper

Balsamic dressingbread wineFresh whole wheat roll and real butter

Very large glass of chilled wine

Toss salad, season, and lightly dress.  Enjoy meal alone, while in pajamas and watching reality TV, or reading a beach book.  And relax—it’ll be cool in October.Thanks for your time.

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