Sometimes greatness comes with no single name attached. There is no author listed for Greatest Ever Salads from back in 2005. It’s one of those books, often from British publishers like this one: Parragon, that is a compendium fashioned by the staff of the publishing house. The array of recipes here are offered for us to relish, and relish you will. With, I suspect, a little dash of amazement.
That old knock on British food — at best awful on a good day — is certainly no longer valid. There is impressive food to be found there, both high end and home-based. Lovely baked goods, meat to be sure, cheese and sausages, and grand, grand Indian food.
But salads? Who would think about salads when dining ala London? Well, they are here in abundance. The over 100 recipes are divided into chapters for
Fish and Seafood
There are old friends here, like a Feta Cheese Salad with cilantro, cucumber, scallions, tomatoes and olives. But embedded in these pages are many, many salad ideas that will have you saying, “I never thought of that. How interesting.” Here is baker’s dozen of salad ideas to intrigue you:
Potato Wedges with Dried Apricots and Walnuts
Chinese Salad of Pineapple, Carrot and Bell Pepper in a Deep-Fried Potato Nest
Salmon and Avocado
Smoked Trout with Pears
Cantaloupe and Crab
Buckwheat Salad with Smoked Tofu
Carrot, Cabbage & Mixed Fruit Salad
Beet, Apple and Celery
Eggplant Salad with Cinnamon, Tomatoes, and Garbanzo Beans
Mexican Potato Salad with Avocado and Green Chili
Fig and Watermelon
Melon and Strawberry
Grapefruit and Coconut
These are ideas that surely can be described as “outside the box.” The influence of Asian cuisine — which you can observe on nearly every London street — is mighty. You see coconut, pineapple and other fruits pop up everywhere.
Followed to the word, these recipes will add a new dimension to your table. But, you can use these recipes as a template. Open up your fridge, look at the fruit in the bowl on your kitchen island, and just assemble your own inspiration.
Whether as a first course, main course, side, or meal finale, salads can offer immense satisfaction. Greatest Ever Salads is an excellent source for every day meals and festive feasts.
What was your first “surprise” food? If you are like me, it was a Hostess cupcake: chocolate frosting with a vanilla swirl on top over chocolate cake with that gooey white filling. I admit that after the first 100 or so, I stopped being surprised but I was always pleased. I still am.
Here’s a morning surprise, a corn muffin dense with corn kernels. And, hidden inside, is some jalapeno fire. For this recipe, Suzi wanted to clean off the shelf so we found a jar of jalapeno jelly that was red but labeled “mild.” Mild it was and that was fine, but, personally, next time I’m going to make these with hottest damn jelly I can find.
And, while the recipe calls for a teaspoon or so of hidden jam, I’m going to boost that to a tablespoon. You can see in the picture that the jam just barely peeps out here. I’m happy to have it oozing out all around the muffin. Sticky, hot, and perfect.
Warm, or hot, from the oven these are a breakfast treat that will give your morning a warm kick.
This is one of the lovely recipes you will find in Texas Home Cooking from the Jamisons. It’s a tour de force of real, down-home Texas cuisine.
Corn and Jalapeno Jam Muffins
Yield: 12 muffins
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup medium-grind cornmeal, preferably stone-ground
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne
¾ cup buttermilk
¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons sugar
1 ½ cups corn kernels, fresh or frozen
¾ cup jalapeno jelly or jam
Preheat the oven to 375° F. Grease the muffin tins.
Sift together the flour, corn- meal, baking powder, salt, and cayenne in a bowl, and set it aside. In another, larger bowl, beat together the buttermilk, butter, and sugar. Mix in the eggs, followed by the com, blending well after each addition. Add the flour mixture, and stir to combine lightly.
Spoon about half of the batter—it will be a bit stiff—into the muffin tins, filling each cup just one-third full. Drop a dollop of jelly, about 1 teaspoon, on top of the batter in each cup. Top with the remaining batter completely covering the jelly for each muffin.
Bake the muffins 22 to 24 minutes until they are deep golden. Serve then warm.
Source: Texas Home Cooking by Cheryl Alters Jamison and Bill Jamison [Harvard Common Press, 1993]
Photo Information [Top]: Canon T2i, EFS 60mm Macro Lens, F/4 for1/30th second at ISO‑800
Photo Information [Bottom]: Canon T2i, EFS 60mm Macro Lens, F/4 for1/40th second at ISO‑250
Pegu is the name of a river in Burma. When Burma was Burma, not Myanmar, and the British reigned as dominant colonists, they drank what else? Gin. They had a gentlemen’s club, the Pegu Club, just outside Rangoon with a lively, creative bar. You can imagine it: men in white suits, somehow not sweating, under the fans hung from a dark wooden ceiling.
This is the signature drink from the club. I know: my photo is dark and the drink look suspiciously like a margarita.
“This is like a margarita,” my wife Suzen said as she drank the sample I offered on Sunday.
“Do you want it or a G&T?” I asked, not sure if she actually happy.
“Make your own,” she said. She was happy.
And, yes, there is a margarita hint to this but it’s not a margarita. I use Hendrick’s gin and its notes are quite unlike tequila. But the lime, simple syrup and orange liqueur do make you think about tacos. I don’t think they ate tacos at the Pegu Club, however.
Recipes for this drink vary. They do call for an orange liqueur and if you use, say, orange curacao you get a richly colored beverage. I used some blood orange liqueur which gives the beverage than neutral green color.
Recipes vary about using sugar syrup, but I did. All the recipes call for a dash of Angostura bitters and orange bitters. How much is a dash? If you google, there is quite a discussion. Somewhere between ⅛ and ¼ of a teaspoon, so it is more than a mere drop. Frankly, in a beverage with this scale, I don’t think you could tell the difference there. More importantly, I’m not sure you could really even sense its presence. So, when I “dash” with bitters, I’m heavy handed and leaning closer to ½ teaspoon than the mere ¼.
This cocktail is lively and lovely. We shared with a quiche rich in peppers and chorizo. The cocktail did not get lost in fray.
The Pegu Club
Yield: 1 cocktail
1 ¼ ounces gin
¾ ounce lime juice
½ ounce orange liqueur
1 teaspoon simple syrup
1 dash of orange bitters
1 dash of Angostura bitters
Add all the ingredients to a shaker with ice. Shake well, then strain into a chilled glass. Add ice cubes or ice fragments. Garnish at will with citrus.
Source: GQ Drinks [Mitchell Beazley, 2014]
Photo Information: Canon T2i, EFS 60mm Macro Lens, F/5 for1/50th second at ISO‑100