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Monday, May 30, 2011

Recipes–Two Arugula Salads and Poached Pears in Red Wine

Here are more recipes which are particularly good.  Two feature arugula and one the King of All Desserts – Poached Pears in Red Wine

Smoked Fish, Arugula, and Watercress Salad

This is a delicious salad.  The combination of the sweet watercress and the spicy arugula with the smoky taste of the fish, combined with the fragrance of the chutney and the nuttiness of the pecans make it a winner. This recipe is good for two servings

* 1 lg. bunch watercress

* 1 lg. handful arugula (the baby arugula is best, for it is more tender; however the larger leaves often have more flavor.  I like to mix both in this salad

* 1/2 pack of smoked bluefish or trout, cut into 1” pieces

* 2 Tbsp. olive oil

* 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

* 2 Tbsp. sweet mango chutney

* 1/2 cup roasted pecans (buy raw pecans, then roast them without oil over medium high heat in an iron skillet, browning with just a touch of black, but careful not to burn)

- Compose individual salad plates with the arugula and watercress

- Drizzle olive oil and balsamic over the greens

- Sprinkle the pecans over each plate

- Place the fish pieces on top of the salad

-  Distribute the chutney over the salad

- Add ground black pepper and serve

Arugula Salad with Figs, Almonds, and Bleu d’Auvergne Cheese

This combination is special – the spiciness of the arugula with the tangy saltiness of the cheese and the sweetness of the figs.  The Portuguese are big on the complementarity of sharp and fragrant cheese with fruit jams, and this is based on that.  This is for two servings

* 2 lg. handfuls arugula

* 1/2 cup almonds, toasted (roast the raw whole almonds in an iron skillet with no oil until they are browned, slightly black in spots.  Do not burn)

* 10 small Mission figs, or 5 large Turkish figs, halved

* 1/2 cup Bleu d’Auvergne (you can substitute Danish blue cheese, but it has a much stronger and saltier flavor.  A better substitute might be Stilton), cut/break into small pieces, but not crumbled

* 2-3 Tbsp. olive oil

* 1-2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

* 1/4 tsp. sesame oil

* 1 Tbsp. soy sauce

- Place the arugula on the plates

- Put the cheese and the almonds on the arugula

- Drizzle the olive oil, sesame oil, soy sauce, and balsamic over each plated salad (NOTE: the quantities listed above are approximate.  You want to be sure not to put too much dressing on the arugula.  It should be flavored but never soggy)

- Ground pepper and serve

Poached Pears in Red Wine

This is a superb dish, and the variations on it are many.  You can use cranberries, gooseberries, or rhubarb separately or together.  I prefer them in combination, but it really doesn’t matter how you combine them:

* 4 ripe, high flavor pears (like Comice), but any tasty pears will do

* 1/2 bottle red wine (this can be ordinary table wine, but not sweet wine)

* 1 lg. stick cinnamon

* 1/2 lg. orange rind

* 6-7 cloves

* 5-6 Tbsp. sugar

* 1 lg. handful (1 cup) cranberries, gooseberries, chopped (into 1” pieces) fresh rhubarb.  You will end up with 2 cups of fruit

* 1 lemon, juiced

-- Put the wine, sugar, lemon juice, orange rind, cinnamon, and cloves into a saucepan large enough so that the pears can stand up, are not too crowded but not too loose, and stir well

- Place the pears standing in the wine.  The pears should be about 3/4 covered

- Boil the wine and pears for about 15 minutes or until you can poke a fork easily into the flesh.  The pears should not be mushy nor too hard, but just so that there is no resistance to the fork.  Be sure to check the pears after 10 minutes.

- Remove the pears when they are done and set aside

- Reduce the liquid down to about1 cup more or less.  The reduced liquid should be thick, but loose enough to be a plentiful sauce.  Before reduction, taste the liquid for sugar, orange, etc.

- Pour the reduced liquid over the pears in a serving bowl.

- Chill and serve.

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