Summer salads in review

I am SO. FAR. BEHIND. I will never catch up on writing out all the things we've been cooking.

In these post: four of my favorite salads from the summer of 2015: two non-creamy vinaigrette potato salads (I don't like mayonnaise), a summer squash salad, and a raw kale salad. The first three were adapted from Bon Appétit recipes; the last was an attempt to recreate a chopped kale salad with shredded roast chicken from the Cherry Creek Grill in Denver. Way back in 2009, I gave cooking with kale a try because a food writer raved about it. I was not won over. The Cherry Creek Grill salad finally made me reconsider.

Spicy potato salad
- Olive oil, 1/4 cup plus more
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- Garlic, 1 clove, smashed
- 1 tbsp whole-grain mustard
- Fingerling or other small, tasty potatoes
- 1 jalapeño, thinly sliced
- Flat-leaf parsley, 1/4 cup torn

1. Whisk together 1/4 cup olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic, and mustard. Add salt and pepper to taste. 
2. Slice potatoes in halves or rounds (if on the larger side - you want just the right surface area). Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper.
3. Roast potatoes on a foil-lined baking sheet at 375˚F until outsides are crisp and insides are tender.
4. When potatoes have cooled somewhat, toss with vinaigrette, jalapeño, and parsley. Serve. 
5. Variations: 
-- Thinly sliced, fried-crisp garlic adds a nice touch. 
-- Adding jalapeño to the oven toward the end of roast results in, paradoxically, jalapeño flavor that is stronger and less sharp. 

Great with: hamburgers (nice ones, with grass-fed beef and brioche rolls)

Kale potato salad
- Fresh lemon juice, 3 tbsp
- Capers, drained, 2 tbsp
- Apple cider vinegar, 1 tbsp
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Olive oil, 3 tbsp plus more
- Tuscan kale, 1 bunch (you can get away with curly kale), coarsely chopped
- Shallots, chopped
- Fingerling or other small, tasty potatoes, about 1 pound
- Parsley and scallions (optional)

1. Whisk together, lemon juice, capers, apple cider and olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.
2. Prepare potatoes as in the previous recipe, including shallots on the baking sheet this time. 
3. Toss kale with olive oil, salt and pepper. During the last 5-10 minutes of roasting,  sprinkle kale over the top of the potatoes and allow to roast. 
4. Toss potato kale medley with vinaigrette, parsley and scallions (if desired). Serve.

Great with: grilled steaks

Summer squash salad
- Soy sauce, 1 tsp
- Honey, 1 tsp
- Lemon zest, 1 tsp
- Lemon juice, 3 tbsp
- Dijon mustard, 1 tbsp
- Olive oil, 3 tbsp
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- Zucchini, 1 small to medium, cut into paper-thin wide slices (requires a mandoline)
- Yellow summer squash, 1 small to medium, cut into paper-thin wide slices
- Macadamia nuts, toasted and chopped, 1/4 cup (can substitute hazelnuts)
- Pumpkin seeds, roasted, 1/4 cup
- Arugula, sorrel or other tender baby greens 

1. Whisk together soy, honey, lemon zest and juice, mustard and olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.
2. After thinly slicing squash and zucchini, season with salt and pepper, and quickly sauté in olive oil over medium-high heat until just barely tender (no more than 3-5 minutes).
3. Toss squash and arugula with vinaigrette and then with nuts and pumpkin seeds. Serve. 

Great with: grilled lemon-pepper salmon

Raw kale salad
- Fresh lemon juice, 6 tbsp
- Olive oil, 6 tbsp
- Apple cider vinegar, 2 tbsp
- Champagne vinegar, 2 tbsp
- Whole-grain mustard, 2 tbsp
- Honey, 1 tsp
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- Tuscan kale, 1 bunch, chopped into thin (0.5 cm or 0.25 inch strips)
- Green (Granny Smith) apple, julienned into matchsticks
- Dried cranberries, 1/4 cup
- Hazelnuts, toasted and chopped, 1/4 cup
- Marcona almonds, chopped, 1/4 cup (optional - toasted, sliced almonds are good too)

1. Whisk vinegars, lemon juice, olive oil, mustard and honey. Add salt and pepper to toast.
2. Toss dressing with kale and apple, thoroughly coating (this is key - I can't promise that my quantity of vinaigrette is spot-on). 
3. Toss with cranberries and nuts. Serve.

Great with: roast chicken


Lemon raspberry birthday cake | Torta di limone e lampone

The annual birthday cake post...

4 eggs
2 tbsp lemon curd
1 tsp lemon zest
2 cups milk
1.5 cups butter, softened
3 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups flour
3 cups sugar
2.5 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
Gel food coloring (your choice of colors, for tinting layers)

For filling:
1/2 cup lemon curd
1 cup fresh raspberries, smashed (can substitute berry of your choice; set aside a few for garnishing)

For icing:
4 oz cream cheese
1 tbsp butter, softened
4-5 cups confectionary sugar (okay, I didn't really measure)
1 tbsp lemon curd
1 tsp lemon zest
3 tbsp lemon juice (one lemon should be enough for the whole recipe)

1. Prep: Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter 6" or 8" round cake pans and line with circles of parchment paper. (It's okay if you don't have enough pans; the layers bake fairly quickly. It does help to have two ovens.)

Blend eggs, lemon curd, zest, milk and vanilla. Set aside for now.

2. Cream butter and sugar in a mixer until smooth.

3. Slowly add flour, salt and baking powder to butter-sugar mixture.

4. Slowly add egg mixture and mix until fairly smooth, at least 3-4 minutes.

5. Divide batter into three or six bowls, depending on number of layers desired. (Six will be quite thin  bakes beautifully and makes a moist, rich final cake.)

6. Tint each bowl to the desired shade. (I aspired to make a completely ombré cake in one color, but the birthday boy won, so I did two shades each of three "berry" colors - blue, red and purple.)

7. Pour contents of one bowl into one pan, tilting or spreading to distribute evenly. (Again, if you are making six layers, these are thin...no more than 0.5" after baking.)

8. Bake each pan at 350 F for about 15 minutes. Allow to cool.

9. Spread each layer with 1-2 tbsp of lemon curd. For a six-layer cake, spread half the raspberries between the second and third and half between the fourth and fifth layers (so...alternating, lemon only, lemon/raspberry, lemon only, etc.).

10. Whip the icing ingredients until very smooth and frost cake when completely cool.

The story:
Everyone loved this cake except for me! I thought it was too sweet; possibly, I should have erred on the side of less lemon curd in the layers. Here is the inspiration recipe: http://thecakeblog.com/2011/08/blueberry-rainbow-cake.html I made a few modifications - switching egg whites to whole eggs, adding a little lemon curd and zest to the batter, adding raspberries in the layers and adding lemon cream cheese icing (something I would probably leave out next time).

My son originally requested a "blueberry cake." At first, I thought of making him a lemon blueberry coffee cake in this Bundt pan (which does come out looking really awesome), but then I decided to look for something more festive. I love the look of ombré layers (we did something similar for his first birthday). The day before his birthday, I was showing him pictures of various cakes - including this one - when he suddenly said, "I not like blueberry. I want RASPBERRY."

He liked it, I think. 

To see the fate of his second birthday cake, click here.