Old School House Salad

Old School House Salad, Italian Dressing

Old School House Salad

Iceberg Lettuce, Tomato Wedges, Cucumber
Red Onion, Radish, Italian Dressing

When I was contemplating the ingredients for my Old School House Salad, the kind my mom served in the 60s and early 70s, there could only be one type of lettuce, Iceberg. Nice and crisp Iceberg ✅. Apparently iceberg aka crisphead, shipped on ice, was the only variety of lettuce that traveled well via train across the country back then. Especially from California to Chicago…

Cucumber ✅ Red Onion ✅ Radish ✅. And when it came to tomatoes, we always had tomato wedges in our salad. But curiously enough, nary a cherry tomato in sight back then. Turns out, cherry tomatoes did not become ubiquitous until the 1980s.  Our tomatoes were medium-sized, red, round, and tasty. Tomato Wedges ✅. And I do recall that my dad liked Peperoncini ✅.

Italian dressing came in a bottle, made by Wish-Bone. It sat in the center of the dinner table along with bottles of Thousand Island, French, and Russian so everyone could dress their own salad their way. No Ranch though, Ranch dressing didn’t become popular until the early 1990s. Hidden Valley Ranch was first marketed as an herb & spice packet to mix with mayonnaise and buttermilk at home. It wasn’t even sold as a bottled dressing until 1983.

Also absent from our house salad – carrots, celery, mushrooms, nuts, seeds, olives – and I don’t think we ever had an avocado in our Chicago home until the early 70s when we “discovered” Mexican food. We did eat a lot of black olives though, they were served on a relish tray, not in the salad.

Old School House Salad Recipe

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Socca (savory chickpea pancake)

Socca (savory chickpea pancakes)

Socca (savory chickpea pancake)

Topped with a Salad of Spring Lettuce
Egg, Feta, Radish, Chili, Olives, Dill, Lemon, Tahini Sauce

Socca, a savory chickpea pancake, is known as Nice’s original street food. Often served au naturel in Provence, cut into shards as snack, pleasantly with a glass of chilled rosé. Socca can also be served with all kinds of toppings for a delightful lunch. It is usually baked on a large round flat copper pan in a wood-burning oven.

In this recipe, nontraditional cumin and smoked paprika added to the batter mimic the smokiness of a wood-burning oven. And a non-stick skillet on the stovetop stands in for the copper pan and makes cooking the socca a breeze.

Socca As A Snack with Rosé

Socca as a snack with Rosé

Socca Recipe

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Panko-Crusted, Two Ways

Panko-Crusted, Two Ways

Panko-Crusted, Two Ways
Goat Cheese and Chicken

Time to get crusty! Developed in Japan during World War II, the dough for panko is baked by electrical current, heated rapidly and uniformly, quickly producing a light, yeasty, crust-free bread. The bread is then ground to create fine slivers of airy, crispy crumb. Then the crumbs are toasted to a delicate crunch which results in breadcrumbs that absorb less oil and add more volume than the traditional type.

Both goat cheese and chicken cutlets are very satisfying with wide international appeal when cooked with a panko crust. They are often served with a fresh green salad to balance the crispy-fried technique.

Panko-Crusted Recipes

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Winter Radish Salad

Winter Radish Salad

Winter Radish Salad
Feta, Kalamata Olive, Frisée, Baby Celery, Upland Cress
Dressed with Fresh Lime Juice & Olive Oil

It was difficult to resist all those colorful heirloom radishes…and the frilly heads of frisée, hydroponically grown long thin stalks of baby celery and the delicate lime green leaves of upland cress too. While strolling the outdoor aisles of the Torrance Farmers Market – a crunchy, peppery, chromatic winter salad began to take shape.

Watermelon radish – an heirloom Chinese daikon – is a stunner with its white and green shoulders and vibrant fuchsia interior. The taste is mild with almond-sweet notes. Purple radishes – a Korean radish hybrid – are small and plump with a gorgeous violet ring around striated white flesh. They are far more peppery than the watermelon variety. I chose watermelon and purple radishes for their visual appeal and different flavor profiles.

Frisée, baby celery, upland cress, and chives make up the green elements of this winter salad.  With a bittersweet flavor and unique frizzy texture, frisée adds character. Upland cress has pretty leaves with a pungent spicy flavor. The baby celery has an intense celery flavor concentrated in the leaves. Chives bring that mild classic onion flavor.

Winter Radish Salad Recipe

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Welcome Fall: Radicchio and Sautéed Mushroom Salad

Radicchio and Sautéed Mushroom Salad
Radicchio and Sautéed Mushroom Salad
with
Frisee, Point Reyes Blue Cheese, Toasted Pine Nuts, Golden Raisins
Garlic Chives, Warm Balsamic Vinaigrette

Deeper colors, warm earthy mushrooms, and crisp bitter lettuces make this a perfect salad to serve as we transition into Fall. Creamy pungent blue cheese and rich toasted pine nuts harmonize with the smooth flavors of a fine balsamic vinaigrette. And to bring the entire salad into balance, golden raisins add the perfect touch of sweetness.

Speaking of balance, today, the earth will be rotating upright on its axis. The northern and southern hemispheres will have equal sunlight and the sun will be rising due east, and setting due west. Happy Autumnal Equinox!

Radicchio and Sautéed Mushroom Salad Recipe

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