Updated: Oct 23
Tried and True Kitchen began as a joint mother/daughter venture in 2019. And then our blog was joyfully interrupted by the arrival of Willa, Sarah's daughter and my granddaughter, in 2022.
Tried and True is returning with Janice taking the lead. Sarah has agreed to pop in from time to time. In addition to providing the fresh and healthy recipes and photographs we love, the revised format will include interviews with some of our friends in the food world: great home cooks, food photographers, private chefs, recipe testers and food writers. I'm excited to share more perspectives on food and cooking.
We love to hear from our readers! Let us know what you're cooking, too, and recipes and features you'd like to see. What kinds of recipes do new moms and dads like to cook?
It's good to be back.
Wishing you a delicious fall cooking season,
I had a minor salad failure recently. I was serving salad for two of our small granddaughters and family and heard the kids were liking Caesar salads lately. I had a couple of dressings leftover in my fridge: a bit of vinaigrette, and a small amount of Caesar dressing, both homemade. Combining them was a bad idea. I thought I was getting away with something by combining these too. I was in a bit of a hurry. I added grated Parmesan.
I think in this case I hadn't dried the lettuce thoroughly – not spun long enough, so the already sketchy dressing combo didn't adhere well to the leaves. Salads should not be hurried. Also, some of the lettuce leaves were soft, not crisp. I prefer crispy lettuce and crispy salads. It's all about the texture, especially in a Caesar salad. The salad we ate was just okay...it was edible. The kids picked at it and ate a little. Not the effect I wanted. I want my grandchildren to love salad! Especially mine.
I recalled reading Thomas Keller's "sermon" on salads in his cookbook, Ad Hoc at Home: Family-Style Recipes. Keller is the renowned chef of several stellar restaurants, including The French Laundry in Yountville, near Napa. I pulled out my copy of his book and devoured it, again. Published in 2009, his section on salads made an impression on me, as he took such care in explaining how to make a salad truly great. Keller dresses the already washed and dried leaves in the salad bowl by drizzling a little nice olive oil, or other dressing, around the edges of the bowl, then tossing the leaves until they are gently but well coated. Extra dressing is offered on the side if the diner requires more.
His salad combinations sound very tasty, such as Endive and Arugula salad with Peaches and Marcona Almonds. His version of a wedge salad, Iceberg Lettuce Slices with Blue Cheese Dressing, Oven Roasted Tomatoes, Bacon, and Brioche croutons, has those extra components that take the salad over the top: a great California-made blue cheese, the roasted tomatoes for extra flavor, apple-wood smoked bacon, and home-made croutons made from brioche bread!
I've been cooking since I was a lass of nine or ten. Even with all my years of experience as a chef, a cooking teacher and food writer, sometimes I'm in a hurry and don't pay attention. Rereading Thomas Keller's book upped my salad game. And there are many other wonderful tips in that book besides those for salads.
The truth is, I know how to make a great salad. And I find that if I am in a hurry, but want to be more productive, it is always a good idea to slow down and pay closer attention, even though my instinct is to take shortcuts. So, I am going to slow down, listen to my ingredients, dry that lettuce, and take the time to make a great simple dressing.
Greek-style salads are perfect for late September and October, at least here in Santa Barbara. Our markets and gardens are full of end of season sweet cucumbers, tomatoes, and peppers. Since both tomatoes and cucumbers are juicy, the dressing is purposely light, but feel free to drizzle olive oil more generously if you wish.
Greek Salad with Feta
1 large or 2 small cucumbers, peeled and cut into ½” cubes (about 2 c.)
2 large diced ripe tomatoes (about 1 ¼ c.)
1 small red or green bell pepper, cut into 3/4" pieces
1 small red onion, cut into 3/4" pieces (optional)
1/3 c. pitted and sliced Kalamata olives
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
1Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1 small clove garlic, pressed or minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon crumbled dried oregano
2 oz. firm feta cheese, cubed or crumbled (made from sheep or goat’s milk)
Mixed greens (optional)
Mix cucumber, tomatoes, bell pepper, onion if using, and olives together and gently combine. Whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. Gently toss dressing with veggie mixture and add the oregano. Salad is satisfying as is but can also be served on a small bed of additional greens. The dressing should be enough to coat the greens as well because the tomatoes are juicy. Distribute feta cheese evenly. Serve.