Saturday, February 14, 2009

A Valentine Lunch

My friend Emily came over for lunch yesterday. I hadn't seen her in ages and I wanted something that was light, relatively fuss-free and that we could linger over. So I made a Valentine Salad that I served along with a nice crusty baguette and garlic, olive oil and butter spread, Pellegrino, a fresh, light white wine. For dessert we had miniature heart-shaped fudge brownies, and little cranberry almond shortbread cookies.

Valentine Salad

2 hearts of Romaine, picked and trimmed,
1 can hearts of palm
1 can artichoke hearts (I used the ones packed in water)
Kalamata olives, pitted -- a dozen or so
Marinated mozzarella balls, small -- about 10
1 can of garbanzo beans

Cut lettuce into thin strips, or shred
Drain artichoke hearts, and quarter
Drain hearts of palm and cut into small slices -- if one has a tough exterior, simply remove outer layer
Drain and rinse chick peas
Cut mozzarella balls into quarters
Add all ingredients in to salad, in no particular order

Vinaigrette, known as
"Grandma's Dressing"

1 cup of light extra virgin olive oil
1/4 apple cider vinegar
4 tbs. water
2tbs. powdered beef bouillon

In a cruet or jar add vinegar, water and bouillon, shake well. Add Olive oil and shake well until emulsified.
My mother in law makes this salad dressing all the time. I was surprised by the addition of the bouillon, but it adds a depth of flavor that really accentuates the flavors in a salad. We use this salad dressing frequently here too. In fact, the kids all eat salad in this house, but only with Grandma's Dressing!

Garlic Olive Oil, Butter Spread for Crusty Baguette
I learned this trick many years ago when I was working at Williams-Sonoma. We often had samples of our product for customers to nibble on when they came into the store. The bread maker we sold there was a hot comodity. We were in a recession then, as we are now, and people were looking for ways to dine with friends that was less expensive than going out to dinner. They loved the idea of being able to make home made bread with ease. This spread was one we came up with at the time that we offered along with the warm, fresh breads that emerged from the bread bakers. It was met with rave reviews!
1 stick of butter, room temperature
1/2 cup of olive oil
3 large cloves of garlic, minced
In a small food processor combine all ingredients and mix well.
I like to serve the butter in small ramekins
The brownies were made by using my old standby-- my favorite tried and true recipe. I substituted the nut pieces for semi-sweet chocolate chips. About 3/4 of a bag's worth!

Cranberry Almond Shortbread Cookies


2 sticks of butter
1/2 cup of sugar
2 cups of flour
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup of dried cranberries


Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Cream butter and sugar together until well blended and stiff, add the vanilla and mix well. Add the flour and mix well. Fold in cranberries. Place dough onto a lightly greased tart tin or jelly roll pan. Make sure that dough is evenly spread. Bake for 25 minutes. Let cool and harden and with cookie cutter cut out hearts. (For the best results place the sheet in the freezer for a few minutes)

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1 comment:

Unknown said...

That salad sounds excellent!