Thursday, July 15, 2010

Beat the heat

Let's get this party started with some food. I have an arsenal of recipes I like to make when it's just too hot to cook. Unfortunately, it is apparently next to impossible to forecast the weather in London more than about an hour in advance, so my attempts to plan cool recipes for hot days and vice versa keep being thwarted. In any case, my take on the classic Cobb salad was still tasty, even though it was only about 70 degrees the day I made it.

 Hmmm...looks like something from the lab...

I’m sure plenty of people would argue that my version isn’t a classic Cobb, but it still tastes awesome, so who cares. I made some small adaptations from a recipe I found on Smitten Kitchen, which, in case you don't already know, is just about the best food blog ever. (And her baby is just about the cutest baby ever, you know, except for my two.) I can assure you there will be many more Smitten shout-outs to come on this blog. The most significant changes were that I mixed up the lettuces I used, and I left out the chicken and the chives. Why? I intended to include some leftover grilled chicken, but we ate it all up the night before (in a recipe I like to call "Waldorf" chicken salad, which I may post later). I hate using iceberg lettuce and am not a huge watercress fan, hence the lettuce adaptations. As for the chives, I plain didn’t see it on the original ingredient list when I made my shopping list, so oh well.

Not sure if it comes through well here, but these eggs have beautiful yellow yolks. 
I love my farmers' market eggs!

I've filed this under "Adult food" as I know my toddler certainly won't eat "salad". However, even though he won't eat the greens or the dressing, he loves some of the components - bacon, avocado, tomato (definitely not blue cheese and not hard-boiled eggs). If you can get your kids to eat this, more power to you! Hopefully mine will one day "maybe when they're bigger" (Owen's words).

Cobb Salad
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen, who adapted it, barely, from Saveur
Serves 1; for more, just multiply up (or go with Smitten's original proportions)

Dressing (You probably will only need about half for the full salad and only a small portion if you're making it for 1, as I was. But, it will keep, covered and refrigerated, for at least a week. Two weeks later I still have some and it seems fine.)

3/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3/4 tablespoon plain old French's mustard (I subbed this for the dry mustard because I have never been able to find it here! Dijon would probably work, but I was out. In theory you’re supposed to swap out some liquid to make up for the difference in volume, but I figured it wasn’t that big a deal.)
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 clove garlic, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Greens: I used a mix of spinach and romaine – a big handful of baby spinach and 2 large romaine leaves – chopped into bite-sized pieces
Blue cheese (I used Stilton) crumbles – I probably used about 1/4 cup but didn’t measure, so just add as much as you want!
2 strips cooked bacon (crispy!), roughly chopped
1 hard-boiled egg, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
6 grape (or cherry) tomatoes, cut into quarters
1/2 avocado, peeled, pitted, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Make the dressing: Combine the canola oil, olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, mustard, Worcestershire, sugar, and garlic in a blender. Purée the ingredients to make a smooth dressing and season with salt and pepper. Set the dressing aside.

Make the salad: On a large plate, combine the greens. Arrange the blue cheese, bacon, eggs, tomatoes and avocado on top of the greens in neat rows. To serve, drizzle salad with dressing, and season with salt and pepper. Alternatively, toss everything together in a bowl.

Do ahead: Individual ingredients (except the avocado, which is too prone to browning) can be prepped and chopped, and kept in separate containers in the fridge until you’re ready to assemble the salad.

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