Post-holiday Cobb salad with ranch dressing

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Hello dear readers, are you still there?

Sorry about my unplanned break; before the summer I just didn’t have time to update the blog, and then I was away for three weeks and have now been back in London for two weeks. I feel more rested and obviously have lots to tell you about, but I will start easy and share a yummy salad recipe and the best dressing recipe ever with you.

After having seen Cobb salads on almost every single  menu when I was in America, but never felt like it would satisfy my hunger after walking around all day, I couldn’t wait to make it when I got back to Blighty.  It’s a perfect salad to go for if you want something substantial; not just a few lettuce leaves. Make sure you enjoy it while the Indian summer is still here.

 

Cobb salad, serves 2

2 little gem, sliced

10 cherry tomatoes, cut in half

1 avocado, cut into pieces

2 tbsp blue cheese of your choice (jag chose my favourite – Saint Agur)

2 chicken thigh fillets

4 slices streaky bacon

2 eggs

Trim the chicken thigh fillets, brown in butter in a frying pan, add salt and pepper and cook in the oven (15-20 minutes). Fry the bacon until crisp and drain on kitchen towel. Cook the eggs how you like them. Hardboiled are best for salads but I personally prefer a looser yolk (6-7 minutes). 

Slice the chicken, bacon and cube the (cool) eggs. 

Divide the salad between two plates or bowls. Add the toppings (it doesn’t have to be in neat rows but I quite like that). Serve with the dressing of your choice. Maybe ranch dressing? Recipe below. 

Ranch dressing, serves 6

Adapted from The Huffington Post recipe.

120 – 180 ml (1/2 – 3/4 cup) buttermilk

2-3 tbsp sour cream

1-2 tbsp mayonnaise (Hellman’s)

1 tsp finely chopped herbs (tarragon, dill, parsley and chives)

1/2 tsp Dijon mustard

a few dashes Tabasco

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk until smooth. Or add all the ingredients to a jar and shake until smooth. 

Thursday’s canapés – the savoury

In an attempt not to bore you too much with the nibbles we had at Thursday’s party I have divided the food into two posts. This one with all the savoury stuff and another with the sweets.

When the guests arrived we greeted them with some mulled cider and the tables were already prepped with some nibbles for hungry guests; gingerbread with blue cheese, crisps and pretzels.

The first appetizer was a shot of warming butternut squash soup flavoured with cumin, chilli and garlic.

Next was my mother’s fabulous meatballs. They are always really fluffy and moist and the way to achieve this is to use egg, breadcrumbs and water or cream to the mince – not milk, that makes them hard.

I put each meatball on a toothpick to make it easier to dip them into the feta sauce in the middle. A cream accompaniment to meatballs and burgers.

Above is a large quiche I made with only crust underneath to make it easier to cut into squares as they all look the same this way. It is quicker than mini quiches and feeds many. I had leeks and blue cheese in this one.

My favourite canapé of the evening was the polenta square with marinaded pork fillet on top. Something green on the top like pea shoots or parsley would be a great addition as they do look a bit dull, but I promise you that they are anything but dull when you put them in your mouth.

Butternut squash soup, makes 20 shots in shot glasses

1 butternut squash

1 onion

1/2 red chilli

chicken stock

2 garlic cloves

2 tsp cumin

100 ml cream

salt, white pepper

Peel the squash and take out the seeds. Cut into smaller pieces. Finely chop the onion and fry it in oil in a large saucepan for a few minutes without browning. Chop the chilli and add it to the pan. Then add the butternut squash too. Fry for a few minutes and add chicken stock to cover. Bring to the boil and cook until the squash is very soft. Then drain half the liquid and purée the rest.

Add more water if needed and bring to the boil. Add garlic, cumin and cream. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour into shot glasses and put some pumpkin seeds on top. Serve hot.

Meatballs, makes 50

500 g beef mince

500 g pork mince

2 eggs

200 ml plain breadcrumbs

1 large onion, finely chopped

salt, white pepper

Crack the eggs into a bowl and break them up, add salt (more than you think), pepper and breadcrumbs. Leave it for a couple of minutes to swell. If the mixture seems very firm, add 1-2 tbsp water and stir it in. Next add the chopped onion and the mince. Make sure you incorporate it well, the mince has to mix as well as mixing it with the breadcrumbs. This is easiest done with a wooden fork or spoon. When it is all incorporated, roll the mixture into balls. Dip your fingers into a bowl of cold water in between rolling each ball, it makes it easier to roll. Fry them in butter on medium-high heat at first, until they are nice and crisp and brown on the outside, then turn the heat down to medium-low and let them cook through. Roll them around a lot as not to burn and to brown evenly.

Feta dip

150 g Greek feta

200 ml creme fraiche

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp thyme

2 tsp lemon juice

white pepper

Mush up the cheese with a fork in a bowl. Mix in the creme fraiche, then add the oil and lemon juice. Add thyme and pepper. Leave in the fridge for 30 minutes before serving to let the flavours develop.

Quiche pieces with leek and blue cheese, makes 50 pieces

1 batch shortcrust

2 leeks, rinsed and sliced

200 g creamy blue cheese

5 eggs

500 ml cream

salt, pepper

Make the crust and press it into a rectangular dish with sides. Pre bake the crust for 10-15 minutes in 200C. Scatter the leek slices and crumble the cheese onto the base. Beat eggs and cream, season and pour it into the dish. Add some grated cheese if you like. Bake for 40 minutes in 200C. Leave to cool and cut into squares.

Polenta squares, makes about 40

750 ml vegetable stock

120 g polenta

40 g butter

120 g grated parmesan

salt, pepper

Bring the stock to the boil and whisk in the polenta. Cook for as long as it says on the packet. When it starts to thicken and is done add the butter and cheese and stir to melt. Season to taste. Pour the mixture into a greased rectangular dish and let it cool and set. Cut into squares before serving.

Marinaded pork fillet, makes 40 canapés

450-500 g pork fillet

200 ml olive oil

3 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 solo garlic, sliced

2 tbsp lemon juice

salt and plenty of black pepper

Trim the fillet and brown it in butter on high heat in a frying pan. Place it in a 200C oven for about 15 minutes or until just cooked through, or until it has the inside temperature of 70C. Leave to cool. Mix the other ingredients. Slice the meat thinly and add to the marinade. Let it marinade for at least 2 hours. Place one slice of pork fillet on each polenta square and fasten it with a toothpick. Add something green or top or sprinkle with black pepper.