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Confession time. I don’t usually eat salads. I don’t really like them. I’ve never been a big fan of greens, and since they make up the majority of most salads, I tend to avoid them. However, I will eat a salad (especially a Caesar salad) every so often, but usually only if it’s made by someone else. As much as I don’t like to eat salads, I like making them even less. So I faced this week’s Dorie recipe without any expectations of enjoying it at all.

And, honestly, I didn’t enjoy it. At all. The salad itself was easy to make: a Granny Smith apple, white mushrooms, and pre-shredded cabbage (no celery, because ew). It took maybe ten minutes to get everything sliced, chopped, and/or dumped out of a bag. As the name suggests, it’s white. Well, the cabbage was a little green, and the mushrooms had the brown gills, but otherwise, it was pretty bland-looking. But that’s the idea. An all-white salad doesn’t promise much else, does it.

Then I set about to making the dressing, and it took 30 minutes to do. In theory, it’s simple: an egg yolk and a bit of Greek yogurt are whisked together while gradually (very gradually) adding olive oil. Then some lemon juice. Then more olive oil. Then more Greek yogurt. This would have all been a lot faster if I’d just used the food processor to do it, but that would mean more cleaning, and I like to avoid more cleaning when I can. I whisked the dressing together, and the next day, the knuckles on my right forefinger were tender to the touch. And after all that, the dressing wasn’t even that interesting. It was okay, but it was not, in my opinion, worth 30 minutes of effort and sore knuckles.

In the end, I was as unimpressed with this salad as I thought I would be, and that made me a little sad. I’d been hoping that I’d be wrong and that it would be a good salad. Maybe not a great salad (have I ever had a great salad that didn’t involve breaded chicken? probably not), but a good salad. It wasn’t even that. It felt like a chore to eat it. Geordie was just as unimpressed as I was.

allwhitesalad

It probably didn’t help that we had some great meals this week. This was definitely the low point, uninteresting in both appearance and flavor. That was part of the problem. It’s not that the salad is inherently bad. It’s just boring, for lack of a better word. I usually love mushrooms, but they didn’t stand out here. Granny Smith apples don’t do anything for me, and they didn’t do anything for this salad either. A little bit of sweetness might actually have improved this salad a bit, but you’re not going to get that from Granny Smiths. And it still wouldn’t help the lackluster dressing. Geordie and I both felt that the salad had nothing to offer other than the uniqueness of being a salad almost entirely sapped of color.

This will probably be the last salad I make for a long, long time.

Check out the Dorista links to see their all-white salads from Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table. Looking forward to next week’s crepes – now that should be an interesting experience, no matter how it turns out! Happy cooking!

I only made one soup. This trio of soups is meant to be served as a starter course or even as an series of appetizers. Each soup features a particular vegetable: red pepper, broccoli, and asparagus.

Neither Geordie nor I like peppers, red or otherwise. And I dislike broccoli so much that I refuse to even allow it into the house (perhaps if it weren’t so stinky I would loosen that rule). That left us with asparagus, which – fortunately – Geordie and I are both fond of.

I don’t normally do appetizers at home. Or courses. Everything goes on the table at once, it’s just easier that way. So the asparagus soup became part of the main meal. I decided to serve it with a grilled cheese sandwich. I constructed it as such: turkey, thick slices of Gruyere, and lingonberry jam. This worked out well because I could make up the soup, puree it, and then leave it to keep warm on the stove while the sandwiches were made. It worked especially well because we took turns eating because Hannah has decided that 7 pm works just as well for her dinner as it does for ours. That’ll be nice in a few months when she can join us at the table (unless she changes her mind, which seems not just possible but likely, her being a baby and all), but right now, it’s a tad inconvenient for whoever is doing the feeding – which would invariably be Geordie. At that time of the day, it’s his turn.

So, the soup and sandwich thing worked out great; there was warm soup waiting for him while he made his sandwich, so he could have a hot meal when he was ready. He did burn the sandwich, though, but at least it wasn’t Hannah’s fault.

Anyway. The soup.

asparagussoup

I wanted to like this soup. It’s very simple to make: chicken broth, chopped asparagus, chopped zucchini, salt, and pepper. Boiled until tender, blended, and done. Very simple. It was supposed to be topped with unsweetened whipped cream, but I didn’t bother to do that. I just swirled in some cream before eating. It needs that creaminess.

It’s a thin soup. A very thin soup. I’m not overly fond of thin soups, and this one was particularly one-note. The taste was fine, it just needed a bit more. Geordie said he wouldn’t mind if I made it again, it just needed something. Sausage and/or chicken were his first suggestions (meat usually is his first suggestion). Noodles was his second, and I actually rather like the sound of that. With maybe a bit more in the flavor department. It did have a lovely, fresh, springy taste to it, but it bordered on bland. We’re wondering if we couldn’t add something that would jazz it up a bit.

So, it wasn’t terribly thrilling, but it wasn’t just plain terrible either. It probably would have been more interesting with the other soups, but I’m just as happy not knowing that for certain. Perhaps with a bit of tweaking, this could be something that we really enjoy and wouldn’t mind making again and again. With such an easy, simple base, I could see it becoming a staple.

To see how the other Doristas fared with their soups, check out their links here. Happy cooking!

Here it is, the first French Friday recipe of the New Year – and also the first French Friday recipe I’ve done in quite a while, the first since Hannah was born. I was very much looking forward to getting back into the kitchen, particularly for the sake of French Fridays.

So, I’m a little disappointed that this is the recipe that started out 2014.

Here’s the deal. “Risotto” is not a particular dish, it’s a particular cooking method. It involves rice being cooked in a broth until it reaches a creamy consistency. Recently, it seems that “risotto” has come to mean any grain cooked in a broth: I’ve seen barley risottos, for instance. In this dish, it’s pasta. Hence, the risotto in quotation marks. You could just as easily call this French Stovetop Mac & Cheese, because that’s what it is. The pasta is boiled in chicken broth until most of the broth is absorbed, then a bit of cream is added, followed by cheese and mascarpone. And there you have it: macaroni and cheese.

Ingredients for the "risotto:" cheese, macaroni, cream, and sour cream (a sub for the mascarpone). The broth was already on the stove.

Ingredients for the “risotto:” cheese, macaroni, cream, and sour cream (a sub for the mascarpone). The broth was already on the stove.

dressypastaris

We had this for dinner on New Year’s Day, served alongside Dorie’s Roast Chicken for Lazy People, which has become one of the most commonly made recipes in this house. My parents and Geordie’s mother were our guests. We also roasted up some Brussels sprouts because we had some.

The chicken got rave reviews (as it always does, because it is awesome). The Brussels sprouts were terrific. Nobody said anything about the pasta, and I had to outright ask Geordie what he thought. Not impressed. I was relieved, because I had taken one bite and thought, I’ve had better. 

I honestly don’t think there’s much to talk about here. It’s pasta and cheese. Unfortunately, I didn’t think it was very good pasta with cheese. I love macaroni and cheese, and I will take any excuse to make it, but I doubt I’ll be doing this admittedly easy recipe again. I guess this is just one of those cases where easy doesn’t equal better. I’d much rather go to the trouble of making a mac and cheese with a roux base if I know it’s going to turn into a deliciously cheesy, melty dish. This was certainly melty and creamy, but it wasn’t very flavorful. It wasn’t very cheesy. It had the look of mac and cheese, but it didn’t have that cheesy essence that I so love.

All in all, this was a bit of a disappointment. Maybe my expectations were too high. Or maybe I’m too critical! The other Doristas seem to have really enjoyed this dish (check out their links to their reactions!), so maybe this is something that just didn’t work for me. Either way, I’m looking forward to the rest of January’s recipes, so better luck next week. Happy cooking!

Sara

I am a daughter and a sister, a wife and a friend. I am a reader and a writer, a dreamer and a realist, a teacher and a learner. I am the mother of a baby born sleeping. I am on a journey of healing, walking a path paved with tears and grief and hope.

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