Saturday, September 13, 2014

Green Salad with Del Frisco-Style Avocado Dressing

Del Frisco's is a steakhouse in Dallas, fairly well-known throughout North Texas. (And I'm pretty sure they opened another location in Ft Worth, the menu is a little different but just as good, or so I'm told.) The dressing here is really what makes the salad- it's a knockoff of their famous Avocado Ranch Dressing, made in house. You can add whatever you like to the lettuce, but I find that keeping the ingredients simple and to a minimum works best. This is great served with steak.

Salad:
A giant bowl full of lettuce- Bibb, Romaine, Arugula, etc- washed, dried, and gently torn
16 strips thick-cut bacon, cooked until crisp on the edges and cut into bite-size pieces
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 C loosely packed Cilantro leaves
Sourdough Croutons (optional)

Dressing:
1 large ripe avocado
1/2 c sour cream
1/2 c half-and-half
1 tbsp grated onion
1 large garlic clove, crushed
1 tbsp lemon juice
dash cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt

To prepare the dressing, place all dressing ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate several hours. Meanwhile, toss together all salad ingredients and chill.
   To prepare the salad, place chilled salad ingredients into chilled bowls, add 2-3 tbsp dressing and serve immediately.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Summer Potato Salad with Cucumber and Radish

Hello there! It's been a while... life got a little crazy and I needed to take a break for a bit. But here we are.
   One of my very best friends taught me to make this salad, it's great for summer but, obviously, summer is winding down so I made it as a kind of last hurrah before I make the switch to fall cuisine. As produce of various qualities is generally available year-round, you *could* make it out of season but I would advise against it as the flavor and nutritional value of said produce will be significantly less. Besides, what's the point of having seasonal food if we don't enjoy it when it's naturally available.
   If you have access to farm-fresh eggs, please use them as they give the mayonnaise a better color. And if you've ever watched Food Inc or other such features that highlight the problems with "conventional" farming methods, including poultry farming, you'll know I say this for other reasons as well that are much better than the color of the mayonnaise;)  
   I've never added bacon to this but feel free to do so. Hickory-smoked bacon generally has a better flavor than apple- or maple-smoked.

Summer Potato Salad with Cucumber and Radish

Approximately 5 or 6 pounds red potatoes, scrubbed
1 English (Hothouse) cucumber, scrubbed but not peeled
8 or 10 large Radishes, scrubbed
1 medium Yellow or White Onion (for stronger flavor and added color, you may use red onion instead)
Approximately 3/4 cup Dill, chopped
5 Eggs
Juice of one Lemon
Salt
1/4 c plus 2 tsp White Vinegar
Olive Oil (you may substitute organic grape seed oil if the flavor of the olive oil is too strong)

8-10 hours before serving, slice the cucumber as thinly as possible, toss with a handful of salt, 1/4 c vinegar, and half the dill. Place in a zip-top bag and refrigerate, turning once. Drain off all the liquid.
   Bring a pot of salted water to a boil (not just a pinch of salt, you want this water to taste like a salt water swimming pool) and boil the potatoes just until barely tender, drain and let them cool to room temperature. Do not peel. Chop them into bite size-ish pieces and add the cucumbers. Slice the radishes as thinly as humanly possible and add to the potatoes and cucumber, slice the onion (just a refresher: cut the onion in half vertically, then slice the halves vertically) and add that as well. Add the rest of the chopped dill.

   Separate the eggs and drop the yolks in a mixing bowl. Add half the lemon juice, 1 tsp of vinegar, and a pinch of salt, whisk until it gets kind of thick. Using a stick blender (or I suppose you could use a hand mixer), blend on low and add a bit of oil at a time, blending all the while and scraping down the sides of the bowl. Keep adding oil and blending, add more lemon juice and/or vinegar if need be, until the mayonnaise is light yellow and thick. (This process should take no more than 5 minutes.) Add the mayonnaise to the potato salad and gently fold it in. Season with salt and pepper, serve chilled. (This will keep in an airtight container for a day or so, the radishes will bleed a bit so it's best to eat it as soon as possible.)