Lee's Kitchen: Bibb salad featured in local chef's cookbook
Growing up, we mostly ate dinner at home. Aside from a pizza my father would bring home from Nicky’s (a real red letter day because it happened so rarely), we ate at the dining room, always steak, chicken, lamb chops, canned vegetables and either mashed or baked potatoes.
On Sundays we had kosher deli and bagels and rye bread from Lew’s on River Street in Troy, N.Y. On Saturday nights, we went to my parents’ country club where I had prime rib and eclairs filled with vanilla ice cream.
I loved the food at college — meatloaf, macaroni and cheese, pork chops (!), hot dogs and beans, and chicken covered with that yellow gravy. I had never had gravy before. I had never tasted a casserole.
My mother rarely cooked. After I married my first husband, I learned to cook, but it wasn’t fun. Meat, potato, canned vegetables, separated from each other on a plate. We didn’t eat out often: he was a student, I worked full-time, and we had a baby. One of my daughter’s favorite dinners was going out to A&W for hamburgers and root beer.
Life changed with a divorce. I dated and sometimes that included going out to dinner. I met my second, and last, husband. He lived in Manhattan and we ate out a lot. When he visited me in Rochester, N.Y., I would cook for him.
He was grateful. His mother did cook, but she hated it.
In 1976, I began to write about restaurants. It was great fun, but after a few decades, I wanted to know how that great food from restaurant kitchens could occur in my own.
Now I cook way more often than I go out. Often friends tell me about new restaurants and sometimes it takes me a while to visit them. Some are OK, others are a real find, and I kick myself for not going sooner, case in point Ella’s in Westerly. I went with friends and now I am a fan.
I bought Jeanie Roland’s cookbook and love the fact that the ingredients are simple and, often, local. The recipes are simple, too. The photographs are gorgeous. How about this easy recipe whose ingredients are available in supermarkets. Her book is available at her restaurant at 2 Tower St. in Westerly or by calling (401) 315-0606.
Bibb Salad with Pickled Red Onions, Buttermilk Bleu Cheese and Toasted Pecans
From Jeanie Roland’s “Butter, Love & Cream”
Serves 2 to 4
3 heads Bibb lettuce, washed and torn into bite-sized pieces
4 ounces pecan halves, toasted
Pickled red onion
3 red onions, sliced thin
1 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup hot water
Mix vinegar, sugar, salt and water. Bring to a simmer and pour over onions. Marinate overnight.
Buttermilk blue cheese dressing
8 ounces sour cream
8 ounces mayonnaise
4 ounces buttermilk
1 clove garlic, grated
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco, shaken well before using
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/3 cup Champagne vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1 pound good blue cheese; grate half on the big hole of the box grater, crumble the rest
Add all ingredients except crumbled cheese and whisk well.
Toss lettuce and nuts with dressing. Top with pickled red onion and crumbled cheese.
On the Side
In many cookbooks (and food magazines and newspapers), authors often assume a knowledge or jargon or technique many don't understand. A recent cookbook uses the words soubise, harissa, quinoa, black rice risotto, and confit. You can find out definitions on a computer, but not how to use it, cook it or eat it. That is where the Food Lover's Companion comes in.
I have probably owned three or four editions. It was originally written by Sharon Tyler Herbst. She died some time ago, but her husband had kept it going ever since. The Deluxe edition is incredible with 6,700 entries, and it includes pronunciations and an appendix that will blow your mind.
Sometimes I take the book off my office shelf and pore through 20 or 30 of the 800 pages. The most recent edition is 2015. At Amazon, it costs about $30 in hardcover. Once you have this, your food library is complete.
Lee White lives in Groton. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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