IE Grapevine Updates

Adventures of a Foodie: Blue Cheese Vinaigrette Strawberry Walnut Salad

Recently I have been dubbed a “foodie.” I don’t know how this happened as I am actually just an “eatie and drinkie.”

Kattie Macko

Kattie Macko

In case you’re wondering what the definition of a foodie is: it’s someone who enjoys eating lots of different things and drinking lots of different things in a fun and comfortable environment. One must seek all of these elements to be considered a foodie — no this definition isn’t on Wiki.

Now, I’m supposed to be writing about food, tastes and restaurants – all of those things – but sadly I don’t feel I am qualified. I am, however, qualified enough to tell you what I do and don’t like, the best ways I have found to navigate a kitchen, and fun fast ways to make meals that will make everyone worship the ground you walk on…I’m still waiting on the last part, but I’m sure it’s coming.

I want to clarify that I am not a chef, nor do I aspire to be one. I am just someone who likes good food and has figured a way around making it…for the most part, anyway. As Miley Cyrus says, “Nobody’s perfect.”

I could curl your hair with some of my more entertaining mess ups, but that’s not what these articles are about. So, I’m off the hook of embarrassing myself…. Well, at least for the moment.

Good food would be nothing without good drink. Again, I am not a sommelier. I can’t hardly say the word and can’t hardly spell the word, but I know people who know people who know stuff, ergo I am semi-qualified to give you some tips.

On top of all of that I will be providing some helpful advice on mood music. I don’t mean some soulful seduction Barry White stuff… What you do with your food is completely your deal and we request it stays between you and your food. But I find that cooking to a beat, rhythm or theme helps food come out just that much better. It’s a scientific fact that when you have fun with things, they always turn out bomb (scientific maybe a tad overstated).

Every once in a while I will emerge from the kitchen to critique and drink in the real world, bars, restaurants, dives. No one is safe from my hungry eyes… I can only pray everyone got the dirty dancing reference otherwise I am wasting my time. “No culture,” as my Grandpa says.

It’s important to experience other people’s creations when trying to be more self-sufficient in your own kitchen. You never know who or what will inspire you to create your masterpiece or pieces as it may be.

The world of food and drink is a fast paced exciting land full of spills, drool and bursting bellies, the most important thing is to really enjoy what you’re making and who you’re making it for. After that it’s all left to taste.

First Recipe: Blue Cheese Vinaigrette Strawberry Walnut Salad or BCVSW Saladsalad

Ingredients :

  • Seven small filet chicken breasts
  • Organic mixed green lettuce
  • 10 strawberries
  • Two handfuls blueberries
  • Three Tablespoons of blue cheese ( Danish blue, extra creamy)
  • 1/3 cup of walnuts (Fresh gourmet, glazed)
  • 1/3 non salted stick of butter
  • 1 bottle of Raspberry Walnut Vinaigrette (I use light)

During the grueling summer months it’s nice to eat light and cool dishes and the easiest example would be a salad. Boring in name they may be, but salads are really just sandwiches with no bread…and who doesn’t love a good sandwich?

As a race we are under the impression that salads are for dieting and for women. My salads don’t fall under those headings, however. I approach salads as modes of transportation for all the foods I actually want to eat in one delicious bowl.

My BCVSW salad is quick and easy to make and has a pretty bad ass abbreviation if I do say so myself. So because I am hungry writing this, I will start with my chicken! This is the most important part because whether the salad likes it or not it is your Etoile brillante, (classy right?).

Ugh chicken, chicken, chicken; It’s tough to keep moist, to not over cook, to not under-cook…We all struggle with this, don’t be ashamed. I suck at chicken, but not when I marinate, especially over night or for as long as possible.

The trick of chicken is keeping it moist. I have the worst luck with this, but with marinating you don’t need luck! This is a complicated process, so pay attention:

  • Dump choice of dressing (I chose vinaigrette walnut raspberry dressing) in a bag
  • Toss chicken on top
  • Mix around
  • Leave alone

…Rocket science, right? Once I am satisfied with the chicken (and I always am), I start on the rest of my salad.

For some slicing up the fruit may be the most taxing part of this project, but not for me! Being a country girl, I think knives are fun.

For this project, cut the strawberries in half, then slice them up like a tomato!

I get very excited when playing in kitchens to great music. Doing this really motivates me to have fun with cooking. Right now, for example, my strawberries are being sliced to, “We’re going to be friends” by The White Stripes… I’m not sure why they are perfect for serenading these berries, but just try it…I promise it will add some magic to your salad-making experience.

After my strawberries are cut I get my best measuring device out…My hands! Now, I have small hands. In fact, I have been called T-rex before (not my proudest moment), so my handfuls aren’t like your handfuls…Anyway, grab two handfuls of blueberries, but not at the same time. This is tougher than it seems to master… You know, using two hands at once.

Once the fruits are in and getting to know each other (I like to use the word “fruiths” from “This is 40” rather than plain old fruits) I shake a bit of walnuts in the mix. The walnuts can be substituted with shaved almonds, but I was in a decadent mood.

It is now time to drop in the stinky cheese. Blue cheese has a very strong armpit smell, which means it’s the good stuff (just trust me). I hate the way it smells, but damned if it doesn’t make my mouth water.

I crumble the cheese, which basically means I end up peeling it off of my hands as creamy mixture. When “crumbling” the cheese look for it to be a shaped paste that resembles toothpaste.

The cheese will balance the salad as there is a lot of sweet and no savory. I find about two table spoons will do the trick, but measure by eye instead of an actual spoon.

Once these ingredients are mingling I mix lightly with a wooden spoon…There really is no reason for the spoon except that it looks more authentic and barefoot cook-like.

My mixed greens are resting in a nearby bowl. I don’t like to mix the fruit in until I dress the actual salad part. Why? Physics, really. The heavy stuff falls to the bottom as do the juices. This means the fruit will get all the dressing leaving the salad barren and I don’t like barren salad.

Next step is to squirt dressing across the salad. Three times is quite enough in my opinion, but hey, there are people who eat salads just for the dressing. If that’s the case for you, go nuts.

I prefer light dressing so that the flavors of the fruit and cheese really pop. Also, the chicken will be carrying the same dressing flavor so there will be a lot going on.

Now that my salad is nearly ready, I take my chicken and lay it gently on a skillet with butter already melted on a medium hot burner. These should cook until there is a thin white line around the edge of the chicken.

I have messed up a lot of chickens, but I have found for the most part if you judge a chickens readiness to be flipped by the development of the aforementioned thin, white line, it is very hard to mess up.

I leave these to cook after being flipped another three minutes, then the burners go off.

Nearing the finish line, I mix my fruits and salad with my wooden spoon in hand again, because I wouldn’t want to look unnatural. My mixing is being carried out to the song “1 2 3 4” by Feist, which really gives my work a rhythm.

I am careful not to bruise the fruit too much, since this is a loving relationship we have. I set the nearly ready salad aside to tend to my chicken. I slice the chicken up to be sure it is cooked all the way through. The chicken I’ve been cooking is moist and white in the inside.

I have undercooked before. No worries if this happens to you! Just toss the slices back on the skillet for a few…no harm, no foul.

Because I am a presentation cooker I must display the food with a little flare and the easiest way to do this when having a dish with strawberries is to fan the berry.

I pick the biggest and reddest berry I can find. It must be firm as well.

Make even slices across the wide part of the berry cutting all the way through, then grab the top and squeeze and maneuver the fans apart.

I separate my salad into servings, lay the strawberry to the side and gently lay my chicken down. Viola! A lovely summer meal to enjoy and show off!

I plan to enjoy this salad with a light sparkling wine (When I don’t work right after of course). One I recently fell in lust with goes by the name of Prosecco, LaMarca Prosecco. I highly suggest this wine.

I make this meal for a picnic or a light lunch. This meal is also a great way to impress that new suitor (wink wink); It works ya’ll!

And remember, life is better with your mouth full!

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