Cobb Salad

This classic salad is one that you do not see at the dinner table all that often. When you do see the salad being served at a restaurant, you, or at least I, quickly think, ‘man, that sure looks good’. We often forget about the array of goodies that come with the cobb salad. Two of my favorite items are on the salad which include bacon and blue cheese. I had a hankering for the cobb salad this past weekend, and it was long overdue to make. This excellent salad really brought some excitement to the table, and was great for everyone around it, including my kids, as they could choose things such as chicken, eggs, bacon, or lettuce. Did I mention how killer the dressing was?

Cobb Salad Recipe
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Ingredients:

  • 3 hard boiled eggs, quartered
  • 6 slices of bacon, crumbled
  • 1/2 head of romaine lettuce
  • 2 tbsp flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 2 tbsp green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch of small watercress, cleaned, dried, stems removed
  • 1 chicken breast, poached in salt water, cubed
  • 1 avocado, cubed
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1/4 lb blue cheese, preferably Roquefort, plus a tablespoon for the dressing
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  • 1/3 cup of olive oil

Begin by picking out your serving plate. I used a nice platter that we received as a wedding gift, after all presentation counts as well right? Lay a bed of romaine lettuce to serve as the base of the salad. Next, what I like to do is create strips of the following; diced chicken, hard boiled eggs, bacon, blue cheese, tomatoes, and watercress, and avocado.

To make your dressing, combine in a small bowl, the red wine, Dijon mustard, garlic, salt and pepper, and worcestershire sauce. Whisk. Next add in a tablespoon of the blue cheese, and mash it with a fork. Whisk again. Note the creaminess. Drizzle in the olive oil and whisk to make your dressing.

Sprinkle the parsley over the salad, and drizzle some of the dressing over the salad. Place the remaining dressing in a small bowl and let your friends and family serve themselves.

Everyone loved this salad, and it will be a nice addition to our summertime gatherings. Enjoy.

Bacon Wrapped Asparagus Bundles

Sounds like a mouthful. Bacon wrapped asparagus bundles. What could be better than delicious asparagus wrapped up in bacon, then grilled to perfection? My recent visit to the store led me to purchase some really great looking asparagus that was on sale. I really love asparagus, but will admit that I do not purchase but only ten times or so a year, and typically that is in the late spring and early summer when I do make the purchase.

Bacon Wrapped Asparagus Bundles Recipe

I was grilling some hamburgers for my kids the other night, and knowing that my kids love bacon, I thought, what a perfect match. They could eat the bacon if they wanted to, but I really wanted them to try the asparagus (failed). Regardless, my wife and I gobbled up these delicious bundles, one by one, and realized that we would be making these again this summer.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb of fresh asparagus, stalks trimmed (roughly 12 to 15 pieces)
  • 4-5 pieces of bacon

Begin by cleaning your asparagus, snapping off the bottom pieces, and trimming the bottom ends to look nice. Take three pieces of the asparagus and wrap a slice of bacon around the center, creating a bundle. Repeat this step for the remaining asparagus and bacon.

Heat  your grill to a medium heat. Add the bundles to the grill, cooking a few minutes per side. Your goal here is to not only cook your bacon, but to also cook your asparagus to the point where they are tender, being careful not to burn your bacon, nor your asparagus. Sounds tricky, but it is not; just keep an eye on it.

It is that simple. Goes great with anything.

Leek Soup

Leek soup with potatoes and bacon toppingSmooth and delicious. Two words that really identify this soup. The great thing about making this soup is not only its flavor and comfort, but it is that you get to use leeks! If you have never cooked with leeks before, well, one you are missing out, and two, now is the time. The leek is that over sized green onion looking thing in the produce department, white near the bottom, and thickened green at the top. It is actually part of the onion and garlic family, two of my favorite flavors. This soup brings those flavors out, and once cream is added at the end, then the game is on. Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 5 medium sized leeks, sliced and cleaned, top part of the green removed
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 3 tbsp red onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 medium sized Yukon Gold potatoes, skin peeled, cubed
  • 1 quart of vegetable, or chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp course salt
  • 1/2 tsp of white ground pepper
  • 1 cup of heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup of buttermilk
  • 1 cup of skim milk
  • Bacon pieces (optional), garnish
  • Fine chopped red onion (optional), garnish
  • Crusty bread, warmed (optional)

Leek soup with potatoes and bacon toppingIf you have never worked with leeks before, once you slice them down, toss them in a bowl of cold water, break them up, and give them a good wash. What you will find is that some dirt gets embedded in these onion rings. Did I mention onion ring? Ok, these would be pretty killer for a light batter, and fried as well. Anyway, stay focused, we are on the soup train. Once cleaned, drain, and rinse again.

Now, get your large pot ready. Begin by melting down the butter. Toss in the leeks and red onion, and cook on medium heat for roughly 20 minutes, stirring on occasion. Add in your garlic, and cook another 5 minutes.  The hard part if over.

Next, toss in the broth and potatoes, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and cover and let simmer for about 45 minutes.

The remainder of this dish is easy, however you will need to be careful on this next step. Ladle in batches to your blender, the soup mix. PUT THE LID ON THE BLENDER and cover with a towel, keeping pressure on the lid when you puree the mixture.  Transfer to a bowl. Repeat this process until the soup is all blended. I note to keep pressure on the blender lid because when you add hot liquids to a blender and expect to just blend it, you are wrong. You could have soup all over your kitchen walls and ceiling!

Transfer the soup mixture back to the pot, bring up to medium temperature, and add in your cream and milks. Add in the white pepper. Taste. Does it need salt? More pepper? This is the time.

Bring a few ladles into your favorite soup bowl, top with bacon pieces and the red onion.

One word now, YUM. I hope you enjoy.

New England Clam Chowder

New England Clam ChowderEver since my last visit to Boston, MA., I just cannot get my mind off, possibly the best clam chowder I have ever had at the Barking Crab. The Barking Crab could be one of the coolest places to hang out on a Sunday afternoon, enjoying the riverside, good music, and some really good food. This place was so good, I ate there twice, and was convinced out of all of the chowder I have had, that it was simply the best. Their chowder was not cream based, but more of a broth, had some really fresh clams, and just looked really simple. As I will most likely try to recreate their chowder and make it my own in the near future, I first wanted to make a nice New England style chowder that was cream based, but not too heavy. This one is a must make for that lazy Sunday, and goes great with a nice and crispy baguette. Now if you are like me, you have had chowders where you are trying to find a potato, or some clams, but just seems as though you are slurping creamy broth. Not mine. As you can see by the picture, it is loaded with a ton of clams and potatoes!

Ingredients:

  • 3 10 oz cans of canned clams, in water if possible, drained (try to avoid the ones residing in oil)
  • 3 cups of clam juice
  • 2 tbsp of flour
  • 1 tbsp of salt
  • Fresh ground pepper (to taste)
  • 4 slices of bacon, diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 7 russet potatoes, peeled, and cubed
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1 cup of whole milk
  • 2-3 cups of heavy cream
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5 tbsp of dry sherry
  • couple splashes of Worcestershire sauce
  • Nice french baguette, warmed

Begin by warming up your bacon on a low to medium heat in a large soup pot, cooking it until nice and crisp, but not burnt. Next add in your onion, and cook until soft, roughly 5 minutes. Next, add in the flour, stirring the for a few minutes. This will coat the bacon and onion, and thicken. Pretty neat stuff.

Next, add in your clam juice and mix with a whisk. Continue cooking on the low heat, cooking for roughly 5-7 minutes. The sauce will really begin to thicken, much like a gravy. Now is the time to add in the thyme (no pun intended), as well as the bay leave. This is where we are going to really begin to flavor the broth. Toss in the salt, and fresh cracked pepper. Add in all of the potatoes, and mix well, cooking until the potatoes become tender, roughly 12-15 minutes. Stir occassionally.

In another medium sized pan, add in your cream, milk, and clams, and bring to a medium temperature, roughly about the same time, 12-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. You want to do this because you don’t want to add in cold cream and clams to a warm pot already, it just does not work.

When your potatoes are tender, add in the cream and clams, and mix well. Mix in the dry sherry. Taste and determine if it needs more salt or pepper, and if so, season to taste. Add a couple of splashes of Worcestershire sauce, and mix again.

Now before you bowl, preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and break off a large chunk of the baquette, warming in the oven for about 5 minutes. Bowl and serve.  This was no Barking Crab style chowder, but it was definitely a bowl where many enjoyed.

How do you guys make your chowder? New England style, or Manhattan Style?