Today is a day of celebration. For what you ask? Well, today is the day the self-imposed horror, also known as the Raw Food Cleanse, ceases. Thank God. I couldn’t take it anymore. To be honest, it actually came to a close last night, by way of the Nocello Crema and some strawberries. I know what you’re thinking…”Strawberries are out of season! What are you doing?!”, which should be true seeing as it is December, but we’ve been having unseasonably warm weather down here (add that to the list of reasons for relocating) so they’re actually still thriving and are quite sweet…even in December. So you see, it was technically seasonal, and just so happened to be locally & organically grown…sustainable, and quite sustaining. How can you argue with chocolate, hazelnuts, and two types of cream cheese whipped in to a fluffy mousse-like frosting? It doesn’t get any better than that, unless you dunk some unseasonably sweet, locally & organically grown, ruby red strawberries with stems still attached into the creamy pool of whipped chocolate heaven. Prepare yourself for decadence unmatched.
You will also find the recipe for the winter salad (aka salade d'hiver) mentioned in last week’s Foodie Find. I will admit, there’s quite a bit of labor involved with shaving the root vegetables, but if you have a mandoline—something I am in desperate need of, you should be able to knock it out relatively quickly. I used a vegetable peeler, and it took an obscene amount of time, a chair and a glass of wine. I should caution you, at this point you’re probably thinking, well…I have a box grater, I can just use that. Which is logical, even plausible, but not practical. I thought the same thing, and it turned out horribly—producing nothing but pulp and juice from all exposed to it, no matter the blade attempted. The root shaving is the most laborious part of this composed salad, but don’t let it deter you—it’s well worth all the effort.
Some words on the ingredients:
Snofrisk is a goat’s milk cream-style cheese. It’s spreadable and mildly flavored. If you don’t dig on goat’s milk or goat cheese (shame!) I suppose it would work with regular whipped cream cheese, but don’t quote me on that because I haven’t tried it and well, regular cream cheese has its own flavor profile and you will lose the tartness.
Celery root, which is actually not the root from celery as one would think, is crunchy and firm in texture, and has a mild celery flavor. It is sometimes sold under the name celeriac. If you have trouble finding it, you can try substituting a parsnip or two, peeled of course. The beets add a beautiful bright magenta color (don't forget to wear gloves lest you end up with magenta hands!) and some earthy sweetness, while the radish lends a little peppery kick. The root chips are dressed in what shall from this day forth be known as Maison Vinaigrette, or simply put: my house vinaigrette.
That’s right. Christmas is the time of giving, and I am giving up my prized recipe. Guard it with your life, or at least write it down. I may have second thoughts and pull the post…just kidding. I use this vinaigrette on just about every salad I make, whether it is just a bowl full of mixed lettuce, or some sliced cucumbers, or an elegant composed salad, such as this. Clementines were used in place of the satsumas for this recipe because that’s what I had on hand, but really any small orange will work. White balsamic vinegar can be found at most supermarkets, I prefer the Alessi brand, but get what works for you. A wide-mouthed jar with a tight fitting lid (like this one) will make your vinaigrette building life much easier…just dump all the ingredients in, close it up, and shake. Not only do you not have to whisk it, but there’s no need to transfer it to another container and dirty more dishes. I’m all about conserving. ;-)
The crowning jewel of the salad is the crispy goat cheese disc that is perched atop the bitter, brightly dressed greens and the sweet root mélange. I used a combination of ground pecans and Panko crumbs for the coating, which produced a light, crispy crust, with just a hint of nuttiness. It complements the citrus-shallot infused oozey cheese in the center very well. All in all it was the perfect dinner salad.
I had every intention of serving this with some Grilled Truffle Toast, but I ran out of steam and interest with all the root shaving sans mandoline. If you have time, it’s quite simple to prepare…slice some baguette, slather on some Black Truffle Butter, and toast on both sides in a hot grill pan or place under the broiler for a few minutes. It should take this meal over the top.
I had all of this to celebrate the coming of the first Beaujolais Nouveau , an event I look forward to all year, and coincidentally marks the official coming of Fall for me--weather or no weather. If you haven’t had any yet, you are missing out. It’s a light and fruity red wine that is one of those “here today, gone tomorrow” seasonal things that you need to jump on while it’s hot. One of my favorite wines, seasonal, and yes it gets even better…the vineyards are going green this year with the bottles—plastic, since the Beau is meant to be consumed during the season and not put up in a cellar. So what are you waiting for? Go get some and increase your blood alcohol levels, while decreasing your carbon footprint! Oh, and try these recipes!