Monday, April 30, 2012

Rock Your World

This past weekend, my two boy minis totally rocked my world.  They both signed up to swim the mile (that's right swim a mile).  They have both done it before, so the excitement level beforehand was minimal.  They swam their miles, and I watched at one end of the pool where I could count laps for them.  I paid no attention to the clock.  My 9 year old mini (the one that swims one-legged) finished first.  His coach was all excited and he came rushing over to tell me that he with his time of 34:22, he had shaved 40 seconds off his fastest mile time (that time is still the 8 year old boy record at his swim club).  I was way excited for him because my oldest mini has been having a rough time lately, and spending a lot of time doing this.....

.....instead of doing this......

So, I gave him a quick squeeze and then went back to concentrating on counting laps for my middle mini (counting laps is not as easy as one would think, the swim is 67 laps.....67 laps, people!!!!)  

My middle mini finished, and I realized his coach was jumping up and down and shouting.  And then I realized, hey...she's shouting at me!  And then I realized, hey....she's shouting that my mini just shave FOUR MINUTES off his fastest mile time and re-set the 6 & under mile swim record with a time of 38:24!!!!  And, then I cried.  Because I was so proud of my mini, and also because my oldest mini was jumping up and down screaming and hugging his little brother.  The happiness of the moment was too much.  And what I thought was going to be a little morning swim ended up rocking my world and kept me smiling all weekend long.  

Why am I telling you this?  Well, because now I am going to rock your world (I also wanted to brag a little).  But, seriously, this salad recipe I am going to share with you is going to rock your world.  Are you expecting dinner guests soon?  Make this salad.  Is there someone special you want to fall in love with you?  Make him this salad.  Want to do something special for mom on Mother's Day?  Make this salad and buy her this purse.

I got this recipe from my friend Jennifer.  Jennifer lives on the west coast, which automatically makes her cooler than me, but she also always gives me fantastic recipes.  And she's a 31 consultant, which means she's organized and loves all things monogrammed.  And she runs marathons.  And she does crazy things like spending a weekend with people she met on internet.  And she loves kale salad.  

Kale and Apple Salad
  • 2 cups pecans (I used one cup pecans, one cup walnuts)
  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • kosher salt
  • 6 oz thickly sliced pancetta, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp caper brine (from a jar of capers)
  • 3 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • freshly ground back pepper
  • 2 granny smith apples, cut into matchsticks
  • 1 large head radicchio, shredded
  • one 8-oz bunch kale--stems discarded, leaves finely shredded
  • 3 tbsp snipped chives
  • 1 tbsp chopped tarragon
  • 2 ounces shaved pecorino
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. In a bowl, cover the pecans with water. Transfer to a sieve and shake out the water. 
  2. In another bowl, whisk the confectioners' sugar, cayenne and 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt. 
  3. Add the pecans and toss. Transfer to a sieve and shake off the excess coating. 
  4. Arrange the pecans on a parchment paper–lined baking sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the sugar is lightly caramelized and the pecans are golden.  SIDESNOTE:  Whatever you do, do not taste-test the pecans.  If you do, you will not be able to stop!!!!
  5. In a skillet, heat the oil with the pancetta and cook over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until the pancetta is browned, 6 minutes. 
  6. Strain the pan drippings into a large bowl; whisk in the vinegar, caper brine and maple syrup and season the dressing with salt and black pepper. SIDENOTE:  I fully understand that I am asking you to make salad dressing with bacon grease.  Don't judge.  Don't question.  Just do it.
  7. Add the apples, radicchio, kale, chives, tarragon and pecorino and toss. Mound the salad on plates, garnish with the pecans and pancetta and serve.

Salad dressing made with bacon drippings.

The nuts to top the salad. Make extras and set them out in a dish.  They'll be gone in minutes.

I took this salad to a dinner party on Saturday night and people loved it so much, it practically made me a celebrity.  I thought I was going to have to start signing autographs.

I also made sweet potato and quinoa salad, which was another huge crowd pleaser.

And this is what my kitchen looked like.  It's a mess.  Thankfully, messed don't bother me.  What bothers me is crappy food.

Tonight is another busy night, so dinner will be p'sketti.  I've got the sauce made already, with extras to freeze for next time.  I also have a loaf of french bread in the breadmaker and left over kale salad, which I really don't want to share.  So the minis will probably have fruit salad.  I'll have to share with Mr. McGhee though.  Unless I hide in the pantry and eat.  I've been known to do that.