July 15, 2016 Summer Squash Salad with Lemon Curd and Citron Vinaigrette


My very thoughtful husband gave me two very special gifts for Christmas last year. The first, tickets for the South Beach Food and Wine festival that we attended in February, the second, tickets to the Food and Wine Classic. Held over a mid June weekend in Aspen Colorado for 35 years, the Classic is the nation’s premiere culinary event.

The Classic brings together the world’s foremost authorities on wine and food at over 80 cooking demonstrations and wine seminars. In between the classes and seminars we had time to sample gourmet bites, wines and other libations in the large white tents that made up the grand tasting pavilion. One of our favorite places to stop was to taste the creative offerings of Food and Wine magazine’s “Best New Chefs”. For the past 28 years the best new chefs have showcased the next culinary superstars. At each Grand Tasting, two of the chefs offered up their best bites to a hungry crowd. While pressing through the line to receive their offerings, I made a point to congratulate each one on this significant accomplishment. The July issue of Food and Wine magazine concurrently features an article about the best new chefs and a recipe or two from each one. Occasionally I will try some of these recipes, this year several caught my attention.

Chef Brad Kilgore serves up his “playfully brilliant” dishes at his restaurant, Alter in Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood. Chef Kilgore stated in the article that squash and zucchini are not his favorites, so his goal was to make something great from them. His recipe for Summer Squash with Lemon Curd and Citron Vinaigrette, despite having many steps looked like something I could do and make use of produce from the garden.

Since it can be made three days ahead, my first step was to make the lemon curd. Lemon and lime curd tarts were a regular on the dessert buffets in my catering business. I admit I was a little dubious about lemon curd in a savory preparation. The addition of lemongrass and ginger made this curd unique and the lemon juice was courtesy of our Meyer lemon tree. There is a lemongrass plant in the garden but it was easier to use a few stalks from my supply in the freezer. They come back to room temperature fairly quickly and they are easier to slice when cold. The curd ingredients are put in the blender and blended until smooth. Strain the curd over a fine sieve and press down on the solids to extract as much flavor as possible from the ginger and lemongrass. Put a medium saucepan of water on to simmer and put the curd in a heatproof bowl that is large enough to sit on top of but not in the pan. The bowl shouldn’t be too big but large enough that you can comfortably whisk the curd without sloshing it on the counter top

Whisk constantly for about five minutes until it thickens, the curd should coat the back of a spoon. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the butter 1 tablespoon at a time and finish by adding the extra virgin olive oil. Cover the surface of the curd directly with plastic wrap, this will prevent the curd from forming a skin and refrigerate until cold about three hours.
The zucchini herb puree can also be prepared before the salad is assembled. Our source for yellow squash and several varieties of zucchini is from a company called Seeds of Italy.  Every summer my intention is to pick them small before they get to the size of a baseball bat but there are always a few that get away from me. Just picked little zucchini actually have a delicate nutty flavor.

The original recipe called for the squash and zucchini to be seeded which is a good idea if you are buying medium to large sized squash. Since the seed pods in the zucchini and yellow squash that I picked were not fully developed yet I didn’t feel the need to remove the seeds. I picked basil, parsley and dill from the garden for the purée. Blanch the zucchini and squash and the herbs in boiling water for only 30 seconds. Blanching brightens the color of both the squash and the herbs. Immediately transfer them to an ice bath to stop the cooking. Drain them well. Pat the zucchini and squash dry with paper towels. Squeeze all the excess moisture out of the herbs. Set The yellow squash aside and purée the zucchini and the herbs in the blender. Add olive oil and salt to taste.

The vinaigrette is very simple, the acids, lemon juice and white wine vinegar are combined with chopped tarragon and honey, canola and extra virgin olive oil. I love the anisey flavor tarragon brings to any dish.

I read the recipe again to be certain I had all the components to plate it. Dill and tarragon sprigs, check. I added some red shiso leaves too. They grow like mad in the garden and seem to be a chef favorite. Thinly sliced chilies, were also a check. The last garnish had me initially stumped, puffed rice. Did they mean like the cereal? Probably not was my guess.

I found a slightly time consuming but easy way to make it. I cooked a cup of brown basmati rice until it was done, about 40 minutes and let it cool. I preheated my convection oven to 250°F, spread the rice out in a thin layer on a baking sheet and let it dry out for about an hour. I turned the oven off and let the rice dry out overnight. Line several baking sheets with paper towels. The next step is to heat about an inch of cooking oil in a wide pan , I used my wok for this. When the oil reaches 375°F add a kernel of rice, if it puffs up they are ready to go. Add the rice in batches, when it hits the hot oil the rice puffs up in seconds. You should be prepared with a fine mesh strainer to scoop out the puffed kernels before they get too brown. Puffed rice smells great, all toasty, it’s good as a salad garnish or just for munching.

With all components ready, I was ready to assemble the salad. Spread a thin layer of the zucchini herb purée on each plate. Dollop a little of the curd on the purée. Toss the yellow squash with some of the vinaigrette and season with salt. Arrange a few pieces of squash on the plates along with the marinated cheese. Garnish with herbs, chilies and puffed rice.

Joe declared the salad delicious and over the top, a unique combination of flavors and textures. On first glance this recipe looks very “cheffy” Lots of special steps and components, usually enough to scare the average home cook away. Obviously it’s not something you would whip up after work on a week night. But the steps are manageable, the curd, puree and vinaigrette can all be done ahead.  It was a wonderful salad, beautiful, very unique, a wonderful combination of flavors and textures. Hmm, guess that’s why he’s a best new chef.

I was also interested to read that Chef Kilgore makes all of the desserts at his restaurant, that’s not typical of most head chefs. The lemon curd infused with lemongrass and ginger was very good. I have some left over from the salad and will serve it with some of our fresh blueberries that should be ready to harvest this weekend.  The zucchini herb puree I had leftover made a good sauce for salmon and would work for poached chicken too. I’m certain I will be making it again this summer. The puffed rice was a bit of a revelation and fun to do. It makes an interesting addition to a salad and just for munching too.


Summer Squash Salad with Lemon Curd and Citron Vinaigrette

Serves four

Ingredients for the lemon curd

  • 1/3 c fresh lemon juice
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2½ T sugar
  • 1 T thinly sliced lemongrass, tender inner bulb only
  • 2 t minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 4 T unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons and at room temperature
  • ½ T extra virgin olive oil
Ingredients for the lemon curd.
Ingredients for the lemon curd.

Directions for the lemon curd

  1. In a blender, combine lemon juice, eggs, sugar, lemongrass and ginger and blend until smooth. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve into a medium heatproof bowl, pressing on the solids.
  2. Place the bowl over, not in, a saucepan of barely simmering water. Cook the curd, whisking constantly until the curd is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, 5-7 minutes.
  3. Remove the bowl from the heat and whisk the butter in until incorporated, then whisk in the olive oil. Press a sheet of plastic wrap on the surface of the curd and refrigerate until cold.


Ingredients for the zucchini-herb purée

  • 8 oz yellow squash, quartered lengthwise, seeded if necessary and cut into 3″ pieces
  • 5 oz zucchini, quartered lengthwise, seeded if necessary and cut into 3″ pieces
  • ½ c each, basil, parsley and dill
  • 2 T extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
Ingredients for the zucchini herb puree.
Ingredients for the zucchini herb puree.

Directions for the zucchini herb purée

  1. In a medium saucepan of salted boiling water, blanch the squash and zucchini for 30 seconds; using a slotted spoon, transfer to an ice bath to cool completely. Blanch the herbs until wilted, about 30 seconds. Drain and transfer to an ice bath to cool. Drain the squash, zucchini and herbs; pat the squash and zucchini dry and squeeze excess water out of the herbs.
  2. Reserve the yellow squash in a small bowl. In a blender, purée the zucchini with the herbs and a half a cup of water until smooth. With the machine on, add the half cup of olive oil. Season to taste with salt.
Didn’t need to seed these zucchini and yellow squash.
Plunge into ice water after blanching for thirty seconds.
Plunge into ice water after blanching for thirty seconds.
It brightens their color.
It brightens their color.
Squeeze the herbs dry .
Squeeze the herbs dry .
Ready to blend.
Ready to blend.
The final product.

Ingredients for the vinaigrette

  • 2 T fresh lemon juice
  • 2 t white wine vinegar
  • 1 T chopped tarragon
  • ¼ t honey
  • ¼ c canola or grapeseed oil
  • 2 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
Tarragon in the garden after the rain.
Tarragon in the garden after the rain.
Ingredients for the vinaigrette.
Ingredients for the vinaigrette.

Directions for the vinaigrette

  1. In a small bowl combine the lemon juice, vinegar, tarragon and honey. Gradually whisk in both of the oils until emulsified. Season the vinaigrette with salt.

Final assembly of the salad

  • 4 oz marinated sheep or goat’s milk cheese, cut into small chunks for serving
  • Small tarragon, dill, shiso, or other herb sprigs
  • Thinly sliced chilies
  • Puffed rice
  1. Spread a thin layer of the zucchini purée on 4 small plates. Dollop a few small teaspoons of the lemon curd on the puree. Toss the squash with 2 tablespoons of the vinaigrette and season with salt. Reserve remaining vinaigrette for another use. Arrange three pieces  of squash on each plate along with some of the marinated cheese. Garnish the salads with the herb sprigs, chilies and puffed rice.
I loved making puffed rice!
I loved making puffed rice!


Probably the most unique salad I’ve ever made/tried. 2 thumbs up!


February 6, 2016 Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Orange and Tarragon


DSC_5828aThe produce department of a well stocked supermarket is a happy place for me. I love looking at neat rows of perfect produce with automatic misters that always seem to turn on the minute I reach in to pick out my choice. I look for new vegetables I have read about in food magazines. Kale sprouts? Not in local stores yet. I am inspired to try that new recipe, create a new salad. I bemoan the high cost of tiny bunches of fresh herbs and swear that I will ask Joe to pot up more to use in the winter season. In our gardening “off season” I can even find local lettuces and greens grown in indoor greenhouses not far from where I live.

About a month ago I discovered one of my favorite vegetables was missing from it’s place of prominence on the shelves. Cauliflower, usually placed near it’s cousin broccoli was all but missing in action. When I did find it, it was banished to a corner at the very end of the produce aisle. There was only a very sparse offering and the heads were probably half the size of those from local farms available just a few months ago. And the price? These tiny heads were selling at $5.99 a piece, I could easily pass that up.

After a little research, I learned that the problem was due to the changing weather and rainfall patterns from a strong El Nino in the primary areas where it is grown, California’s Imperial Valley and near Yuma Arizona. The combination of cauliflower’s current status as most favored vegetable (sorry kale!) and the recent shortage led to it’s conspicuous absence.

Several weeks have passed and the price is coming down a bit so I have currently suspended my moratorium on cauliflower. This salad, roasted curried cauliflower with orange and tarragon in the latest issue of Fine Cooking was the inspiration for my return.

Florets of cauliflower and thinly sliced shallots are tossed with curry powder, olive oil, salt and pepper. Since they can vary in heat quite a bit, I chose a sweet curry powder from Penzey’s. Curry powders are are a blend of spices, thirteen in this case, including turmeric, coriander, cumin and ginger, just to name a few. You can also make your own curry blend according to your tastes. The cauliflower and shallots are spread out on a large baking sheet and roasted until the vegetables are tender and browned, 20 to 25 minutes. Watch carefully, since I was using convection heat I reduced the temperature from 450°F to 425°F. I also stir the cauliflower around at about the halfway point to insure even browning.

While the vegetables are roasting, prepare the orange segments, I discuss how to do it here. Unlike cauliflower, oranges and all citrus are plentiful and priced well this time of year. If you don’t want to try your hand at supreming, substitute Mandarin orange segments, not the ones packed in syrup, of course!

The vinaigrette is composed of rice vinegar, Dijon mustard, orange juice and extra virgin olive oil. Fresh tarragon brings a “licoricey” flavor to the dressing but if the expense of a small container of fresh tarragon bothers you as much as it does me, skip it or add a little dried. Toss the cooled vegetables along with the orange segments, almonds, currants and mache. I used a mache “blend” from Organic Girl that includes mache rosettes, baby red and green chard and tango lettuce. It’s a good quality product for non garden months. You could also choose baby arugula or any salad blend.

We loved the salad and finished it in one sitting. The flavors and textures all contrast very nicely. I added a little crumbled soft goat cheese to our salads, some chickpeas or finely chopped fennel would also be an interesting addition. This could also double as a vegetarian main dish and would be great for a buffet.

Roasted  Cauliflower Salad with Orange and Tarragon

Serves four (or two very hungry people)

  • 1 large head cauliflower cut into 1″ florets (about 8 cups)
  • 1 c thinly sliced shallots
  • 1½t curry powder
  • 7 T extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 large oranges (I used Cara Cara)
  • 1 T rice vinegar
  • 2 t Dijon mustard
  • 2-3 T chopped fresh tarragon
  • 1/3 c coarsely chopped tamari almonds or toasted slivered almonds
  • ¼c dried currants
  • 5-6 c mâche or baby arugula


  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven to 450°F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil.
  2. Toss the cauliflower and shallots with the curry powder, 2 T oil, salt and pepper. Spread on a baking sheet and roast until the vegetables are tender and browned, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool.
  3. Slice the ends of the oranges so they rest flat on a cutting board, cut off the peel and the pith. Working over a bowl, cut the orange segments free from the membranes, letting them fall into the bowl. Squeeze the juice out of the membranes into a small bowl.
  4. In another small bowl, whisk the vinegar and the mustard. Slowly whisk in the remaining 5 T oil. Whisk in 3 T of the orange juice and the tarragon. Season to taste.
  5. Add the cauliflower, almonds and currants to the orange segments and toss with enough vinaigrette to coat well. Add the mache and toss again. Drizzle with remaining vinaigrette and serve.


Cauliflower tossed with curry powder. The orange color comes from the turmeric.
Cauliflower tossed with curry powder. The orange color comes from the turmeric.

November 27, 2015 Roasted Beet Salad with Beet Pesto, Goat Cheese and Hazelnuts

DSC_5227aAt the end of September we took a week long trip to Denver Colorado. Part of the time was fun, visiting Garden of the Gods, Pikes Peak, Rocky Mountain National Park, and the Denver Arboretum. Part of the time was study, well at least for Joe, he was attending the Family Medicine Experience, gaining CME (continuing medical education) in anticipation of the boards he took last week. All of the week was fun for me, I visited a local winery and a teahouse, went to Red Rocks, toured the Coors brewing facility (free samples) and went to a Mexican cooking demonstration at a Denver restaurant.

One of my main jobs in anticipation of any trip we take is to choose the restaurants we will enjoy that week. I take my responsibility seriously, and it took some arduous research to find the best restaurants. This was not our first trip to Denver, previous trips included dinners at the then trendy Rattlesnake Club, now closed and The Fort, a restaurant that serves “new foods of the old west”. On a more recent trip in 2004, we were one of the first to dine at the newly opened Frasca Food and Wine, now considered by many to be one of the best restaurants in the country. So the pressure was on.

I skip over the ads at the top of the search engine, any restaurant can call themselves “the best” and Trip Advisor is okay but sometimes a family friendly or a breakfast only spot can be at the top of the list. I prefer to look at the reviews of the local city magazine when I do this type of research, for that I turned to 5280 magazine which refers to Denver’s mile high altitude and their yearly ranking of the 25 best restaurants. I skipped over the restaurants that weren’t in Denver (sorry Frasca!) also steakhouses and sushi bars because I didn’t think they would provide enough of the local flavor.  I read the reviews, perused the menus and  looked for where they were in proximity to our hotel, we didn’t necessarily want to be driving all night to get to our destination.

I discovered there are a surprising amount of restaurants whose names include the word “and “, Stoic and Genuine, Beast and Bottle, Colt and Grey were all restaurants we ate at. That doesn’t include Work and Class, Olive and Finch, Hutch and Spoon. Definitely a trend.

Another trend, and one we definitely approve of, is the number of farm to table restaurants. Although we had enjoyable experiences at all of the restaurants we dined at, the one that really reminded us of eating at home was Root Down, an award winning “field to fork” restaurant, housed in what was once a circa 1953 gas station. Every course was thoroughly enjoyed and documented with a photo on the IPad. One of our favorites was a dish that Joe had, a roasted baby beet salad. The beets, both red and golden were served on a bed of arugula with goat cheese and toasted hazelnuts. There was a dollop of beet pesto (!) and the dressing was a basil vinaigrette artfully drizzed in circles on the plate.

Now, the job would be interpreting the dish at home. The beet harvest in the Kipp garden was over so my beets came from the farmers market (red) and the supermarket (golden).Since I was using greens from our garden greenhouse I had a varied selection to choose from, spinach, leaf lettuces, claytonia, upland cress and yes, some arugula. The cheese varied in the Instagram pictures I saw, sometimes it was a slice of a creamy goat cheese, other times it was crumbles of  chevre. The cheese on the salad at  Root Down was from Broken Shovel Farm, a local supplier. I used a chevre from Giggling Goat Dairy,  a supplier I became familiar with this summer at our local farmers market.  I stayed with toasted hazelnuts, but I think walnuts would work just as well.

Beet pesto was new for me and at first I wasn’t quite sure what qualified this as a pesto. It is usually a sauce that combines an herb, most often basil, with nuts, olive oil and cheese. The definition of the word that pesto originates from is pestare which means to pound or to crush, so it does qualify as a pesto.  I combined cooked beets, a dash of red apple balsamic, toasted unsalted sunflower seeds, a little lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil. It turned into a delcious vibrant magenta sauce that would be great as a dip, tossed with pasta or as a sandwich spread.
I changed the vinaigrette to accompany the salad from basil, not in season now and not my first choice with beets to a tarragon vinaigrette. The anisy tarragon contrasts beautifully with the natural sweetness of the beets.

Roasted Beet Salad with Beet Pesto, Goat Cheese and Hazelnuts

For the Roasted Beets


  • 1½ lb. each red and golden beets


  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Wrap beets in foil packets, separating by color. Place on a baking sheet; bake until beets are slightly soft to the touch, 45 minutes to 1 hour depending on their size. Cool beets in packets, then rub off skins (use a paring knife for tough spots).
Ingredients for the beet pesto.

For the Beet Pesto


  • 1c cooked, roughly chopped red beets
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/3c roasted unsalted sunflower seeds
  • 2T tarragon leaves
  • 1T apple balsamic vinegar
  • 1T lemon juice
  • 1/4c extra virgin olive oil


  1. Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.

For the Vinaigrette


  • ¼c apple vinaigrette or a white balsamic
  • ½c roughly chopped red beets
  • 1t honey
  • 1/3c extra virgin olive oil
  • 2T tarragon leaves


  1. Combine all ingredients in a small food processor and process until well combined

Assembling the Salad


  • 6-8 c Baby arugula- I used a combination of greens from our greenhouse that included arugula
  • ½c toasted chopped hazelnuts
  • 4oz crumbled goat cheese
  • Roughly chopped roasted red and golden beets (from the first step)
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  1. Add arugula to salad plates. Top with goat cheese, hazelnuts and chopped beets.
  2. Add a dollop of beet pesto to the plate
  3. Serve vinaigrette on the side.
  4. Add a grind of black pepper to each salad as desired.


June 9, 2014 Chicken Paillards with Asparagus, Garlic and Tarragon

DSC_7650aFor an easy weekend supper, nothing comes together quicker than a chicken paillard. A paillard, (pi-YAR) is a  boneless piece of meat, in this case, chicken that has been pounded flat and sauteed or grilled quickly. Actually the term paillard has fallen out of favor in the cooking world and has been replaced with the word escalope (es-kuh-LOHP). In English we would refer to it as a “scallop”, not of the seafood varety of course.

I couldn’t find the word paillard in The Food Lover’s Companion or in James Peterson’s exhaustive work, Glorious French Food. But everyone, from Rachael Ray to Daphne Oz of “The Chew” to Martha Stewart has recipes online for chicken paillards, so it’s worth keeping that definition under your hat.

Remove any tenderloins or extra fat before wrapping the breast in plastic wrap. Then pound out the meat with the flat side of a mallet to an even thickness. Pound from the fattest part of the breast outward to avoid tearing the meat.
Another French term is very important to this recipe, mise en place (MEEZ ahn plahs). Translated, this means “to put in place”. Start by reading the recipe all the way through, then check to see that you have all the ingredients necessary, or at least a reasonable substitute. I chose to use tarragon in this recipe, the original used dill. The tarragon in our garden is starting to fill in nicely and it’s anisey flavor is a natural with chicken dishes. All of the other ingredients should be measured out, prepped and ready to go, garlic sliced, lemon zested and juiced and vegetables cleaned and cut to size. In less than fifteen minutes of cooking time you can have a meal on your table that is easy and elegant.

Tarragon in the garden.
Tarragon in the garden.

Chicken Paillards with Asparagus, Lemon, Garlic and Tarragon

Serves 4


  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, tenders removed
  • 1/3c all purpose flour
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4c extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2c lower salt chicken broth or chicken stock
  • 6 medium cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 large lemon, finely grated to yield 1t zest and squeezed to yield 3T juice
  • 1 lb. asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 medium orange or yellow pepper cut into 2-inch strips
  • 2T chopped fresh tarragon
  • 2T unsalted butter, cut into 3-4 pieces


  1. Using the flat side of a meat mallet, pound each chicken breast between 2 sheets of plastic wrap to an even 1/4-1/2 inch thickness
  2. In a shallow bowl, combine the flour, 2t salt and 1t pepper.
  3. Heat 2T oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Dredge 2 paillards in the flour, shaking off any excess, and place in the skillet. Cook, flipping once, until lightly browned, about 4 minutes total. Transfer chicken to a plate and keep warm. Repeat with the remaining oil and paillards
  4. Add the garlic to the skillet and cook over medium high heat, stirring occasionally, for about a minute. Add the chicken broth and lemon zest, scraping up any browned bits from the skillet. Add the asparagus, pepper, chicken and any accumulated juices. Nestle the chicken pieces into the liquid. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat to maintain a simmer. Cover and cook until the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a serving platter or plates.
  5. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the lemon juice, tarragon and the butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon the vegetable mixture over the chicken and serve.