Roasted Baby Beet & Mixed Green Salad with Goat Cheese, Walnuts & Citrus Vinaigrette

Here is the beginning of an early summer supper. Beets & greens fresh from my garden with locally produced goat cheese shared with a dear friend. Simply amazing!

1 lb -baby  beets (red, chiogga, golden or a mixture)

6 cups – mixed greens

1 cup – toasted walnuts – chopped

5 ounces – goat cheese

About 6 tablespoons of  citrus vinaigrette

1 tablespoon olive oil

pinch of salt and pepper

¼ cup water

For the roasted beets:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Wash the beets and trim both ends.  Place them in a shallow baking pan and sprinkle with the oil, salt and pepper.  Add the water, cover with foil and bake for approximately 1 hour or until the beets are easily pierced with a knife.  Allow to cool slightly then rub the skin off with a paper towel.  Cut into ½” dice.

 

For the citrus vinaigrette:

 

3 ea – Valencia oranges

2 ea – lemons

2 ea – limes

6 tablespoons – walnut oil

1 tablespoon shallots – finely chopped

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

pinch of salt & pepper

Juice the oranges, lemons & limes into a non-reactive saucepan and reduce over medium heat until 2 tablespoons remain.  Place into a small bowl along with the shallots and mustard.  Add a pinch of salt and pepper then slowly whisk in the walnut oil.

In a large bowl, toss the greens, beets, nuts and goat cheese with 5 ounces of the citrus vinaigrette and divide among 6 plates.

Serves 6

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Free Recipe Booklet with wine pairings

Here is a link to my interview and recipes on the Kathy Ireland site – http://www.kathyireland.biz/executivechefronbarber-stsuperywinery.html

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Asparagus Means Spring!

The name “asparagus” is derived from the Greek word for “sprout” or “shoot” and has been cultivated since Egyptian times.  The two types are green and white.  White asparagus is the same plant but it is kept covered with dirt to prevent the sunlight from turning it green.

I prefer to use the larger spears and find them to actually be tenderer than the thin ones. The larger spears are from younger, more vigorous plants.

Asparagus has a bad reputation regarding wine pairing, but I believe that it goes very well with fruity, un-oaked styles of wine such as St. Supéry Sauvignon Blanc.  The following recipe combines fresh spring asparagus with the classic Sauvignon Blanc pairing of goat cheese to produce a dish that really makes the wine sing.  Give it a try and let me know what you think.

ASPARAGUS & GOAT CHEESE CUSTARD

Serve with St. Supéry Sauvignon Blanc

1 lb fresh asparagus, cut into 1/4″ pieces

3 cloves garlic, peeled & chopped

1/2 cup leeks – white part only, chopped

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup St. Supéry Sauvignon Blanc

1 cup cream

10 oz. soft goat cheese

4 eggs, large

Salt & white pepper to taste

Non-stick cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Heat the oil over a low flame in a large frying pan and sauté the leeks and garlic until soft.  Add the asparagus then season with salt & pepper to taste.  Add the wine and simmer, covered, until the asparagus is tender.  Add a little water if the pan dries out.  Transfer to a blender or food processor and puree.

Heat the cream to a simmer in a saucepan and add the goat cheese.  Stir until the cheese is melted.

Place the cream & goat cheese mixture, asparagus, and the eggs into the blender. Blend until smooth.

Spray 8 – four-ounce ramekins with the nonstick spray and fill about 3/4 full with the asparagus mixture.  Place the ramekins in a large baking dish and fill with enough hot water to come about half way up the ramekins.  Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until the custard is no longer liquid

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Serves 8

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Braised Chicken with Baby Potatoes, Rosemary & Sage

Don’t’ let the large quantity of garlic in this dish scare you away.  Garlic slowly braised like this is very mild and takes on a sweet and mellow flavor.  Add a tossed salad and you have a memorable meal.  Bon Appetit!

4       whole chicken legs (legs & thighs)

12 small red or white potatoes – about 2” diameter

1/2 cup dry white wine

15 large cloves of garlic, peeled and lightly crushed

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup chicken stock or canned low sodium chicken broth

1 teaspoon fresh rosemary – finely chopped

1 tablespoon fresh sage – finely chopped

Salt & freshly ground black pepper

Season the chicken well with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat.  Add the chicken and potatoes and cook until the chicken is well browned on both sides. Add the wine and cook until the alcohol has evaporated.  Add the garlic, chicken stock and herbs.  Lower the heat and partially cover. Continue cooking, turning the chicken and potatoes occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through – approximately 25 minutes.

Serves 4

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The Care & Feeding of Knives

Here are some knife care suggestions to help extend the sharpness of your knives:

Invest in a set of high quality knives. With proper care they will last a lifetime.  I suggest these three knives at the minimum – an eight inch chef’s knife – a pairing knife, and a bread knife.

Wash & dry your knives by hand. Dishwashers expose them to harsh detergents and they can bang around and damage the edges.

Store knives in a knife block or magnetic knife bar whenever possible, or at a least store them away from other utensils that can damage their sharp edges.

Always use a wood or polyethylene cutting board. These materials create less resistance to the blade’s edge than boards made from materials like ceramic or plastic.

Do not use a regular “steel”. If you do not have a fine grit ceramic steel  it is best to not use anything. Improper use can actually dull your knives.

NEVER check the sharpness of your knives with your tongue! (Offered tongue-in-cheek – pun intentional)

Have your knives sharpened by Ron regularly – at least twice a year, or more often if you cook a lot. The only purpose of a knife is to cut.  If your knives are dull they are not serving their purpose.

I am now offering knife sharpening by mail at a highly competive price with a turnaround time that is often  faster than using a local company.  Please visit my website for more information : www.razors-edge.net

 

 

 

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Never a Dull Moment!

It’s been a while since I have posted anything on my blog, but I’m back now!

During my cooking career I often sharpened my own knives. This came about because I really had a difficult time leaving my knives with a sharpening service or waiting (sometimes forever) for the local sharpening guy to come by the restaurant. Often I was disappointed with the results and dismayed at the price.  My investment in the “tools of the trade” is pretty substantial, and to have my chef’s knife come back looking like a boning knife was very disconcerting! (OK, maybe I’m exaggerating just a little.) Many local sharpening services and knife shops use grinders to sharpen knives.  While this method is very fast, unless the operator is very skilled, these grinders remove a great deal of metal and your knives get smaller and smaller!

I’m spending less time in the kitchen these days and more time sharpening knives. I’m enjoying this so much that I have started a mobile knife sharpening and mail order business. All sharpening is accomplished by hand using a method that insures a precise bevel (angle) across the entire blade. This is critical for uniform sharpness and a long lasting edge. Hand sharpening is not nearly as fast as machine work but the results are spectacular.

Knives don’t all of a sudden get struck dull.  It’s a gradual process that we don’t really notice until we have our knives professionally sharpened.  When we do, it’s truly amazing how much easier, more efficient, and safer our kitchen chores are.

I  will continue to post articles on knives, as well as on food, wine, and original recipes.

Please click here for more information about my knife sharpening service:  ChefSharp Knives

Thanks!

Ron

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Penne Pasta with Heirloom Tomatoes, Grilled White Corn & Basil

Penne Pasta with Heirloom Tomatoes, Grilled White Corn & Basil

Take advantage of the summer bounty.  Dead ripe tomatoes, juicy white corn and fragrant basil make for the perfect summer dish.  If you grow your own tomatoes, so much the better.  If not, search out a farmers market or a store that carries vine ripened / heirloom tomatoes.  Accept no substitutes!  Serve warm or at room temperature with a glass (or two) of St. Supéry Rosé

Pair with St. Supéry Rosé

4     cups  diced heirloom tomatoes – try to include a mixture of colors

3      ears of white corn – charcoal grilled until slightly charred.  Cut kernels off the cob

3       cloves of garlic – minced

1        cup fresh basil – coarsely chopped

4        tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1         pound Penne pasta

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a large skillet, add the olive oil and the garlic. Warm until the garlic is soft but not brown.  Add the tomatoes, basil and corn kernels. Heat on medium until the tomatoes are just warmed through.  You do not want to cook the tomatoes. Salt and pepper to taste and remove from heat.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the Penne.  If the water tastes like the ocean you have salted it correctly.  Cook until al dente – about 10 minutes and drain. Toss the pasta with the tomato mixture and serve.  Or cool to room temperature.  Parmesan cheese optional.

Serves 6

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