As many of you know, I’m the executive chef for a liberal arts university here in Alabama, and we do a fare share of catered events each year, so I have a lot of “trade tricks” that make my life easier on a daily basis when I’m balancing a full day of meals for our students (about 1500 covers a day) and a few catered events tossed into the mix. At the university, our signature salad has become a mixture of spring mix lettuces with fresh fruit (usually fresh segmented oranges and strawberries) some toasted pecans, a sprinkle of bleu cheese crumbles and apple vinaigrette. Lately I’ve been getting a lot of requests to share the recipe for apple vinaigrette and while I’ve always been the type to gladly share all of my recipes with my customers, deciding to share this one took some thought. Not because it’s some special recipe of secret ingredients, but because it’s NOT some special recipe! It’s just something I whipped up in the food processor one day and now it is the most requested dressing for salads. It’s so simple, I’m ashamed to put it in print, but it’s quite tasty so give it a try. You won’t be disappointed by the flavor, or the ease in putting it together.
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tsp white pepper
1 tsp sea salt
1 can (soup can size) natural applesauce
1/2 cup white balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup olive oil
Toss the garlic into a food processor and run until almost a paste. Add the applesauce, salt and pepper and pulse to combine. With the motor running, add the vinegar, then add the olive oil in a thin stream through the top. Once all the oil is added, let the machine run for another full minute. Pour into a bottle and store in the fridge, using as needed.
This vinaigrette will have a thick consistency, but it’s great tossed into salad greens, and it will keep for a week under refrigeration.
The heirloom tomatoes are coming in at Pepper Place and I’m a huge fan. We buy them every chance we can get. Personally, I can eat them like an apple, but this recipe is the perfect marriage of those tomatoes with some fresh Gulf shrimp!
3# assorted tomatoes, sliced (heirlooms are best, such as Cherokee Purple, Beefsteak, Brandywine, etc but any good southern ripe tomato will do)
1/3 cup celery sliced thin on the bias (diagonal)
1/2 cup firmly packed celery leaves (celery leaves are great for seasoning dishes and for garnishes, so don’t automatically toss them like many people do
Using a chilled serving platter, arrange the sliced tomatoes and celery. Sprinkle with cracked black pepper and sea salt to taste. Drizzle with the Bloody Mary Vinaigrette (recipe below) and spoon the pickled shrimp over the top (also below). Top with the celery leaves and garnish with pickled okra or pickled green beans. You can even add some crumbled Feta if you’d like!
For the vinaigrette:
1/2 cup spicy Bloody Mary mix (like Zing Zang)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp prepared horseradish
1 tsp finely ground black pepper
1 tsp hot sauce
3/4 tsp celery salt
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
Combine ingredients in a bottle with a lid, shake and chill.
To make pickled shrimp:
In a zip top freezer bag (gallon size), add 1 pound of medium-sized peeled fresh shrimp. To the bag, add the following ingredients, then place the bag in your refrigerator for at least 2 hours but the longer you leave it in, the better. After 6 hours the shrimp will get rubbery, so 2-6 hours is the processing time.
1 lemon, thinly sliced
1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp each chopped fresh dill and flat leaf parsley
Here’s an easy way to dress up chicken for your next dinner party or everyday meal. This glaze can be used on any type of poultry (chicken, duck, turkey) and it makes more glaze than you will need, so just keep the extra in a sealed container in your fridge for a later use. I have been buying skinless, boneless chicken thighs which cook relatively quick in the oven and have a lot of flavor without all the fat, but you can use any cut of chicken. Just adjust your cooking time accordingly.
5-6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 tsp Cajun seasoning
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp olive oil
1 can cranberry sauce, the jellied kind
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup chicken broth (from box or can)
1/2 cup brown sugar
In a sealable container, put the chicken thighs seasoned with the Cajun seasoning and garlic powder. Add the olive oil. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour but overnight for best flavors.
Preheat the oven to 400F. Put the thighs on a greased baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes and check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer. They are done at 165F.
While the thighs are baking, in a saucepan, combine the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil, stirring often. Boil for 5 minutes until the sauce thickens into a nice glaze.
Once the thighs are done, brush the glaze over the thighs and put under the broiler for 2-3 minutes to caramelize the glaze and brown the tops of the thighs.
Let me apologize to my customers at work for the delay in getting this recipe loaded to the site. In all honesty, the vinaigrette on the salad we had this week was something I threw together just before we opened, so I had to go back and re-create it for a recipe.
5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp low sodium soy sauce (regular is too salty)
1 tbsp orange juice
1 tbsp honey or brown sugar (I used brown sugar but honey would be more palatable)
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp sesame oil (optional)
In a glass bowl, combine the vinegar, soy sauce, orange juice, honey/brown sugar and garlic. Mix well with a whisk. While continuously whisking the vinaigrette, add the olive oil in a continuous stream until well incorporated. Add sesame oil just before tossing with salad greens.
* sorry there is no picture for this recipe, I will take one and load it the next time I make the vinaigrette