Waldorf Salad Refresh with California Walnuts

get your creative juices flowing

Get your creative juices flowing

You all know me by now. I just can’t resist a recipe contest that requires me to think way outside the box. Add in the fact that I am required to use ingredients that I already know and love and I am all in. Ingredients like healthy California walnuts, crisp sweet-tart apples and crunchy celery are already in my fridge and pantry, so let’s get started recreating a something new and different Waldorf salad.

California walnuts, apples and celery add healthy crunch

California walnuts, apples and celery add healthy crunch

The Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York City is well-known for its luxury accommodations as well as its famous salad. Checking out their restaurant menu the current version of the salad includes apples, candied walnuts and celeriac which got me to thinking how to re-mix, remake and refresh those ingredients into something unexpected and delicious.

building the perfect sandwich

building the perfect sandwich

Like I said you all know me by now, so I bet you’re not surprised I created a fantastic grilled cheese featuring some fresh ingredients. Doesn’t every restaurant menu need the perfect grilled cheese sandwich? Don’t you just love to order that soup and sandwich combo like grilled cheese and tomato soup. It’s such a classic. What makes mine Waldorf Astoria worthy? Without a doubt it is the candied California walnut pesto that makes this “refresh” fantastic.

The Waldorf Salad Grilled Cheese with Candied Walnut Pesto

The Waldorf Grilled Cheese with Candied Walnut Pesto

The Waldorf Grilled Cheese Salad Sandwich with Candied Walnut Pesto

1 small clove garlic

3/4 cup packed basil leaves

¼ cup fresh celery leaves

2 tablespoons walnut oil

¼ cup California Walnuts

½ teaspoon sugar

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

2 slices firm white bread

1/3 cup shredded smoked gouda cheese

1 tablespoon finely chopped celery

½ pink lady apple or apple of your choice, thinly sliced

1/3 cup shredded gruyere cheese

1 tablespoon mayonnaise

2 grapes, optional

With food processor running drop garlic through feed tube and process until finely minced. Add basil, celery leaves and oil; pulse until combined. Add walnuts, sugar and salt; blend until smooth scraping down sides of bowl, if needed. Spread candied walnut pesto evenly on 1 side of each bread slice. On top of the pesto on 1 slice of bread, evenly layer the smoked gouda, celery, apple slices and gruyere. Cover sandwich with remaining bread slice, pesto side down. Gently press sandwich together. Spread half of the mayonnaise over top of sandwich and place mayonnaise side down on non-stick griddle. Grill sandwich, over medium-low heat, for 3 minutes or until golden brown. Spread remaining mayonnaise over bread before flipping to brown the other side. Sandwich is ready when both sides are golden brown and cheese is melted. Top with a skewered grapes, if desired.

Waldorf Salad Grilled Cheese

PS: For the carnivores in the group…if you must…add some high quality cooked crispy bacon on top of the apples. Or get your own creative juices flowing and refresh your own Waldorf salad.

Happy Father’s Day Pizza Mattina

pizza mattina

pizza mattina

Some say my parents were the original recyclers. Nothing ever went to waste and when it came to food it meant preparing leftover spaghetti into a tasty frittata and vegetables into savory soups and stews. Much to my mother’s dismay my dad recycled day old Italian bread into bread crumbs sailing bits of hard bread all over the kitchen as the crusts pinged off the old box grater. He made a mean panzanella with that same old bread back in the day before this bread salad was ever cool and trendy.

Of all his delicious dishes, it is the memory of his homemade pizza that has me salivating. When the breadboard (handmade by his father) came out I knew we were all in for a treat. My dad, dusted with flour, gave the task of mashing the leftover baked potato to me. The “recycled” potato was the secret to making his yeasty dough bake up crisp and delicious on the outside and tender on the inside. I am among the few who know the secret of the potato. All were welcome to the table for pizza, but if you could not make it my dad would deliver.

My dad in Sicily

My dad in Sicily

My dad died at the ripe old age of 86. He was tired and ready to go. He had worked hard, lived the American dream and was proud of the business and family he had built. As an insulin dependant diabetic he pretty much defied the odds of living such a long and healthy life, but all along the way I felt like he was preparing me for the day he would eventually go. As I watched him push his insulin needle, yet, another time, through his clothing into his body I would scream in horror…..he would calmly respond, “What? You want me to live forever?” He was a character to say the least.

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my dad with young Will & Cait

I miss my dad, but I resolved my grief within a day of his death. My dad’s passing, unlike my son, was the natural order of things. My dad was done and ready to go. He went peacefully into the night and I was prepared for it. Just a completely different experience.

Happy Father’s Day to my biggest cheerleader. You continue to inspire me to “zig instead of zag”. Inspired by you and your name I remember how proud you were when a version of  this recipe won an award from King Arthur Flour.

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Sweet Pizza Mattina

2 cups King Arthur Flour Whole Wheat flour

1 cup King Arthur Flour Unbleached Flour

1 russett potato, roasted, peeled, grated

1- tablespoon sugar

1- teaspoon salt

1 (2 ¼ tsp.) packet instant dry yeast (quick-rise)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 ¼ – cups lukewarm water

2 tablespoons butter

1 baking apple, peeled, cored, chopped

1/3- cup dried sweetened cranberries

1/3- cup orange marmalade

½ cup packed shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Combine flours, potato , sugar, salt, yeast, olive oil and water in a stand mixer. Mix and knead about 5 minutes or until a soft, smooth dough ball forms. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise 1 ½ hours or place in refrigerator and let rise overnight. Just before the dough rising time is up heat oven to 425F. Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add apples, cranberries and orange marmalade; cook, stirring, 3 to 5 minutes or until bubbly and apples are just tender.   Gently punch down dough. On a lightly buttered baking sheet, press down into a 9-inch x 12-inch rectangle. Use your fingers to gently dimple the dough all over. Spread the apple mixture evenly over the dough leaving a 1/2-inch rim around the edge. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake 16 to 20 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Slice into wedges. Serves 8.

 

 

A Father’s Grief & Sunday Brunch

Father's Day Brunch

Father’s Day Brunch

Recently, I was asked if I thought there were gender differences in the way one grieves? Honestly, I have not delved into the subject and I am no expert on the matter. I can say, however, from experience that my husband and I certainly grieve differently. Turns out, I am a sharer–as if you didn’t know that already. My husband, on the other hand, is not. He bottles in his sadness and then when it gets to be too much cries alone. He prefers it that way and I know to give him his space.

Proud dad and son

Proud dad and son

He mourns alone, too. There are things and places that are special to a father and son. Hunting and fishing were activities that they enjoyed together. Scattering a bit of William’s ashes in the forest or at the edge of a trout stream was not an unusual thing for Bill to do on his own. Nor was I surprised to discover that he had left out a small camping flashlight, “in case William needs light to find his way back to us”. That’s Bill’s version of stepping outside himself and I love him for it. He knows he is not alone, but there are just things he needs to do alone and that is OK.

hunting

Gender differences or people differences? Not sure that it matters as long as we all are putting one foot in front of the other in any way we can. Next Sunday is Father’s Day. If you have lost a child you may feel a little upsurge in your grief. It’s normal.

 Today’s recipe is meant to offer some comfort. Dress it up with a side salad and some fresh fruit for a complete brunch menu sure to please your favorite father.

unbaked filled crepe cups

Bacon & Egg Scallion Crepe Cups

Crepes

1 cup all purpose flour

1 teaspoon sugar

pinch salt

2 eggs

1 tablespoons melted butter

1 scallion, chopped

Just Baked

Just Baked

Filling

12 (1-inch) squares smoked gouda or brie cheese

8 strips cooked crumbled bacon

6 eggs

1 ¼ cups milk

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

½ teaspoon salt

2 green onions, thinly sliced for garnish

Combine all crepe ingredients in a blender; blend until smooth. Let crepe batter stand for 15 minutes. On a lightly greased crepe pan or skillet, over medium heat, swirl 2 tablespoons of batter (for each crepe) forming a 6-inch circle. Cook about 1 minute or until crepe edges look dry. Flip and cook another 30 seconds. Transfer crepe to cooling rack. Repeat with remaining batter until you have 12 crepes total. Cut each crepe into an even 5-inch round using a pastry cutter or…(I used the top of a jar as a template and just cut around it with a knife). Heat oven 375F. Spray a standard 12-cup muffin pan with non-stick spray. Press 1 crepe into each cup ruffling edges to fit. Place 1 square of cheese in the bottom of each crepe. Sprinkle with half the bacon. Whisk the eggs, milk, salt and pepper until well blended. Pour egg mixture evenly over filling to just below the rim of the muffin cup. Sprinkle with remaining bacon. Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until eggs are just set. Cool slightly. With the edge of a knife carefully loosen crepe cups from muffin tins and lift out with a spoon. Arrange on serving platter. Sprinkle with green onions.