A Bushel & A Peck…(Green Garlic Champagne Vinaigrette)

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I’ve been waiting (and waiting) for my name to inch to the top of the list at Tecolote Farm.  I’m finally in!  An official basketeer.  Tecolote Farm is our local CSA and today the first basket of the season arrived at our doorstep.  I can hardly contain myself. Seriously, I’ve been singing A Bushel & A Peck all morning.  Mia’s father used to sing the Guys & Dolls show tune to her and now she sings it to the Littles.

I love you

a bushel and a peck,

a bushel and a peck

and a hug around the neck

I tried to download the music for you, but my self-imposed blogging hiatus has made my technical skills a tad rusty.  I’ll work on that…

Anyway, the bushel of organic goodness contains mostly greens this week – lettuce mix, bloomsdale spinach, collard greens, mache, Japanese turnips and green garlic.

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To make use of the beautiful salad greens I’m making a Salade Nicoise for tonight’s supper with a Green Garlic Champagne Vinaigrette. The vinaigrette turned out delicious and is the most wonderful shade of green.  It adds a fun twist to the traditional French salad.

Green Garlic Champagne Vinaigrette

2 Tbs green ends of green garlic, chopped

1 small shallot, chopped

1/4 cup Champagne vinegar

2 tsp agave nectar

1 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard

2/3 cup vegetable oil

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

salt & pepper to taste

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Green garlic is sweeter and more subtle than the garlic we typically use.  I used two bulbs in a French Lentil Soup (more on this tomorrow) and put the green stems to use for the vinaigrette.

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Put the chopped green garlic tips, vinegar, shallot, agave nectar and Dijon in a mini processor and pulse until pureed.

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Slowly add the oils and pulse until completely emulsified.  Season with salt & pepper.

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I wish you could see how green and vibrant this dressing turned out.  I’ve been pinky testing it all afternoon and can’t wait to dress up the salade nicoise ce soir.  Bon Appetit!

One Fish, Two Fish, Redfish, Bluefish

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Husband took brother to the coast to celebrate his 9th birthday.  They returned home tired, smelly and chock-full of inside jokes and tales of ‘the one that got away’.  My heart swells with joy of the memories that Brother will have of these fishing trips with his father.  Even though these get-aways produce a heapin’ pile of stinky laundry.

We have a freezer full of redfish from this particular weekend trip.  My fearless duo decided not to keep the stingray Brother hooked.  Thank you, boys.

I’ve tried several recipes over the last week and I’m tweaking a delicious soup that I will share with you promptly! So scour your markets for redfish and stay tuned.

Salmon Crisps

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Rather spontaneously we had some friends over for appetizers last night.   My good friend Claire celebrated her 40th on Saturday night and since her family was still in town the party continued with a quick fete at The Schell Cafe.  I wish I could take credit for these yummy Salmon Crisps. Cissi’s Wine Bar served these amuse-bouches at the party Saturday and I knew I’d be recreating them myself soon.  I added fried capers to mine which is a fun twist.

Salmon Crisps are definitely a crowd pleaser so be sure to add this to your repertoire of quick, easy appetizers.  I’ll share a few other appetizer ideas I tried last night later this week.  One is a super simple shrimp ‘tizer featured in this month’s Bon Appetit.

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Littlest loved all the ‘tizers and spent the evening circling the island taking hand outs from anyone willing to pass one her way.  She was especially fond of the salmon crisps.  Attagirl!

Salmon Crisps

1 bag potato chips (I used Lightly Salted Kettle, Zapps would be good too!)

1 4-oz package smoked salmon

1/2 cup creme-fraiche

juice from 1/2 lemon

fresh dill

Optional: Fried Capers

In a small bowl squeeze 1/2 of lemon into creme-fraiche and whisk until smooth.  Arrange chips on a serving dish and place a small dollop of creme-fresh on each chip.  Top with a small slice of salmon.  Add a pinch of dill and fried capers.

To fry capers, drain about 1/4 cup capers on to a paper towel and pat dry.  Heat a tablespoon or so of olive oil in a small saute pan.  Add capers and stir fry for about one minute. Drain on paper towel.

TIP: Make the salmon crisps just before serving or the chips will get soggy.  Also, let the creme-fraiche come to room temp for the best flavor.

Change is afoot! (Food Allergy Testing…)

I’m not someone who freaks out at the notion of change.  After a little grumbling I usually arrive at wherever the unexpected diversion takes me with a annoying genuine enthusiasm.  We’ve had some changes around The Schell Cafe.  Nothing of any significance, really.  Just enough to shake up the routine I was happily clipping along in.

First, I went screenless for Lent. Yep, I signed off Facebook and Twitter for forty days and forty nights.  I have not looked at a news feed, blog or the Internet in over a week.  I’ve included television (remember that archaic form of entertainment?) in my screenless fast too.  I am checking email about once a week (ok, twice) and I decided to keep posting here at The Cafe on a semi-regular basis.

Why the screen fast? I was becoming a slave to my iphone and computer screen.  Checking emails and texts at red lights.  Reading blogs on my iphone at the library while the Littles did their homework.  Dreaming about status updates on Facebook and Twitter.  I was on the Too Much Information Highway and I decided to take the next available exit.  Lent provided me with a perfect opportunity.

Second, Littlest Middlest is in the third week of testing for various food allergies.  We’ve run every test in the book from parasites to Celiac and are now in the midst of an allergy elimination trial.  She’s holding up like a champ, but these tests are not fun and involve strict elimination diets for 25 hour periods, several times per week.  The worst so far has been eliminating calcium! Did you know that calcium is in almost everything?  Oh, except corn, white rice and red meat.  Try offering those choices to a newly six year old child for a week and see how quickly you reach for the bottle of red at 4:59 pm?!?!

Luckily we are narrowing down the culprit(s) and are highly suspicious of dairy, most likely cheese as the food allergy offenders.  Needless to say, dinner options haven’t been entirely in my control and many of them hardly blog worthy.

Third, I tore my Plantar Fascia.  The fascia is a thick tendon on the bottom of your foot.  It is attached to the heel and fans forward toward the toes.  If you tear your fascia, you will know.  It hurts.  Really hurts.  Hurts.  And, if you are hardheaded and proceed to run and train on your ailing foot until you are forced to call an orthopedic surgeon, well then you are very naughty and deserve the punishment you are given.  My punishment? I was forced to purchase a pair of orthotic shoes that even my great grandmother wouldn’t have worn.  I seriously had to choke back the tears when the podiatrist appeared from behind the velvet shoe curtain bearing my new shoes.  And since I had to sell a Little (I’ll never tell which one!) to pay for these horrid shoes the loathing is deep.  Insult was added to my injury when my doctor told me swimming was the only form of exercise I was allowed to do for the next eight weeks.  But. Wait. I donnwanna…

I grumbled for one day. Then I swallowed my pride.  I put on the damned million-dollar-clodhoppers and, of course, they feel divine on my feet.  I’ve taken up swimming.  And, shhh….don’t tell myself, but I’m actually enjoying it.  After the first three days of wearing my silicon cap sideways someone at the pool kindly told me the swoosh goes to the front.  Swimmers are so nice.  I’m re-learning to swim, focusing more on the glide, less on the speed.  And, I’m saying things like I just did ten 200’s.  Truthfully, I don’t even know what that means, but it winded the hell out of me.

If you made it all the way to the end of this post God bless you.  And thank you.  I’ll be back soon with tasty recipes.