Thursday, March 13, 2008
Rancho Relaxo. That is the name of someones home. I wish it were the name of my home. Maybe it will be. Half of our family is in motion, once again. To Jacksonville, this time. I have an opportunity then, to name that house. I grew up in one of those burgs where people gave their homes serious, reverent names: Seven Oaks. Edgewood. Merry Mount. Oh, how would old Bedford receive this news? Somewhere, the Robertson family is smiling right now. Maybe I have taken the right idea from everything we learned from them as children: Be the girl Bedford made, just don't fail to see the humor in where we came from. Naturally, like a good show horse, "Rancho Relaxo" would be it's nickname then, and something like "Idlewild" or "Green Corporale" would be its formal name, of course. I tease about not taking old conventions seriously, but I only tease. Oh, and by the way, that is the Breakers at Newport, not my house.
So, will you come, to Rancho Relaxo? We will have a relaxed sort of a salad, (as you know, I eat copious amounts of greenery now that salad can actually taste delicious) the sort that is salad topped with candy. Except the candy will be savory and no one will know its candy. Except you and I, kicked back with our Cactus Pear Margaritas, and living the good semi-clandestine life of kids from an old-prep community, in a house called Idlewild but only ever referred to as Rancho Relaxo. You, and me, free, and eating salad with candy.
Salad of Spinach, Pear, and Pecan Brittle with Vinaigrette
North Salem, 2008
3 cups fresh, clean spinach leaves
1 cup pecan brittle (recipe below)
1 cup thinly sliced pear
1/2 tsp. salt and more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tbls. white wine/ Chardonnay vinegar
1 tbls. minced shallots
2 tsp. Country Dijon mustard
1 tbls. lemon juice
1 tsp. honey
1/4 cup olive oil
Into a large salad bowl add spinach, season with salt and pepper, and toss. Set aside.
In a small bowl, combine shallot, country Dijon, vinegar, lemon juice, honey, and whisk until combined.While whisking vigorously, add olive oil in a steady stream to create emulsification (creamy and combined).
Lightly dress spinach in large bowl with the vinaigrette, keep remainder to the side and serve along side salad for those who wish more. Arrange pear slices around the top of the salad. Sprinkle pecan brittle over the top of the salad: crumbs are fine, but be sure pieces are slightly smaller than bite size. Serves 4.
1 cup pecans
1 tbls. butter
3 tbls. light brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
1/2 tsp. chili powder (ancho, if possible)
1/2 tsp. dry ginger
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. On a baking sheet, spread pecan evenly and place in oven until lightly darkened and toasted. Remove from oven and set aside.
Into a small saucepan over low heat, place butter, sugar, and all remaining ingredients. Stir vigorously until mixture is melted and takes on a near-liquid consistency, do not allow this to darken or burn. Add pecans stir quickly until all nuts are evenly coated. Spoon hot brittle into a pile of any height or shape, onto tin foil. Allow to cool for 15 minutes. Once cool, pull brittle away from foil, place on a cutting board, and with a large knife and a bit of effort, cut and break brittle into pieces slightly smaller than bite-sized. Don't worry about crumbs and small pieces, it can all go over the salad.