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A Sparkling & Sophisticated Chocolate Bar: “Krackle” with Puffed Quinoa, Candied Orange, Dried Cherries & Black Salt

This Valentine’s Day, I would love to share my favorite recipe for homemade candy. This dark chocolate bar is studded with candied orange peel, garnet-colored cherries, and crystals of black sea salt. These decorations are very pretty to look at, and taste delicious together. It also has a crispy interior, reminiscent of a Krackle or Nestle’s Crunch Bar.

I like to think of this as a “healthy” candy bar, and it makes a great gift for holidays or dinner parties. If you can’t find puffed quinoa cereal, use puffed brown rice cereal instead. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Crispy Dark Chocolate Bar with Candied Orange, Cherries and Sea Salt

6 oz high-quality dark chocolate (I use 85%), chopped
1/4 cup puffed quinoa cereal (or puffed brown rice cereal, unsweetened)
1/4 cup chopped dried dark sweet cherries (unsweetened, unsulfered)
Black Hawaiian sea salt, or sea salt of your choice
Peel of 1 organic orange, removed in wide strips, white pith removed
1/4 cup + 2 tblsp granulated sugar, divided

1. Make the candied orange: slice the orange peel into 1/8 inch wide strips. Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil and add the orange strips. Boil for 7 minutes and Drain. In the saucepan, add 1/2 cup of fresh water and 1/4 cup granulated sugar and simmer over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved. Add the blanched orange strips and simmer until the liquid has evaporated, about 7 minutes. Stir frequently and don’t walk away from the stove. When the liquid is gone, transfer the sticky orange to a sheet of parchment paper and quickly toss with 2 tblsp sugar, separating the pieces with two forks. Let cool.

2. Line an 8 x 8 pan with 2 pieces of parchment paper, creating a “sling” for easy removal. In a large heat-proof bowl, melt the chocolate in 30 second intervals in the microwave, stirring in between. Working quickly, stir the puffed cereal into the melted chocolate with a silicone spatula until incorporated. Turn into the prepared pan and tilt back and forth until the melted chocolate spreads evenly to all four corners. Quickly sprinkle the warm chocolate with chopped cherries, candied orange peel and sea salt. Cover and place in the fridge until completely hardened, at least an hour. Once firm, remove the parchment sling from the pan to a cutting board and cut into desired shapes. Store in the fridge in an airtight container and it will last for a month.

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The BEST Way to Make Eggnog: Vegan. The “Bah Humbug” from Hinoki & the Bird

I became obsessed with this recipe after finding it in the LA Times last year. It comes from the bar at Hinoki & the Bird, an upscale California restaurant with a Japanese bent. First of all, it’s gorgeous. It’s a beautiful pale pink and it’s garnished with a Christmas-y sprig of burnt rosemary and a shower of freshly grated nutmeg. Second, it’s beyond delicious. Tropical dark rum and coconut cream are elevated by the warm spice of vanilla bean and chocolate bitters, and a whiff of smoke from the flaming rosemary.

This cocktail is much lighter and less sweet than the classic version made with eggs and heavy cream, which means you can drink more than one. I have no doubt you will! Happy Holidays, all!

Bah! Humbug!
from the bar at Hinoki & the Bird

for the orange vanilla bean simple syrup
makes a generous 1/2 cup
1 vanilla bean, split down the middle
zest from one orange, removed in a thick strip
2 sprigs rosemary
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup hot water

for 1 cocktail
2 ounces dark rum, preferably Zaya
3/4 ounce coconut cream, well shaken
3/4 ounce orange vanilla bean simple syrup
2 dashes Angostura bitters
2 dashes chocolate bitters
grated nutmeg for garnish
flaming rosemary sprig for garnish (run a lighter over the tips to release the oils)

1. Make the simple syrup. In a measuring cup or bowl, muddle the vanilla bean, orange zest, and rosemary with the sugar. Add boiling water and stir to dissolve the sugar. Set aside to infuse at room temperature for a few hours. Strain before using.

2. In a cocktail shaker, combine rum, coconut cream, simple syrup and bitters over ice. Shake well and strain into an old-fashioned glass. Add ice and garnish with freshly-grated nutmeg and a burnt sprig of rosemary.

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A Bright Winter Lunch: Crunchy, Creamy, Lemony Italian Tuna Salad with Fennel

This is the first time in years I’ve eaten tuna salad because I usually avoid both of it’s defining elements; canned tuna and mayonnaise. A “tuna salad” can be fresh and sophisticated if you use Italian-style tuna packed in olive oil, and toss it in a bright vinaigrette. Here, I layered flavorful Calabrian tuna with creamy black-eyed peas, crunchy fennel, baby celery and radishes. The result is a lip-smacking departure from the tuna salad we associate with decades past. Consider me a convert.

Italian Tuna Salad with Black-Eyed Peas, Baby Celery, Radish & Fennel
serves 2 -4

5 oz tin high-quality tuna packed in olive oil, drained and patted dry
1 15-oz can black-eyed peas (or cannellini beans) rinsed, drained & dried
1 bunch baby celery with leaves (or 2 celery stalks), finely chopped
5 radishes, sliced very thin
1/2 small fennel bulb, trimmed & cored, sliced very thin
zest of 2 lemons
juice of 2 lemons
6 tblsp extra-virgin olive oil
handful Italian parsley leaves, finely chopped
2 tblsp capers, rinsed, dried, roughly chopped
1 shallot, minced
salt and fresh pepper to taste

1. In the bottom of a large mixing bowl, make the vinaigrette. Combine lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, and pepper to taste. In a slow, steady stream, use a fork to whisk in the olive oil. Add the chopped parsley, capers and shallots and combine. Add the tuna, beans, fennel, celery and radishes and toss well. Taste for salt and pepper and season again. Let chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and serve.

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A Stunning Holiday Dessert for All: Cranberry Almond Tart with Maple and Orange

It’s highly satisfying to see a pretty dessert come together and this tart is no exception. This health-conscious recipe achieves a crust reminiscent of shortbread (with no butter); a sticky, gooey fruit center (with no refined sugar); and a fluffy, cakey almond topping (with no flour). The warm flavors of maple, almond and vanilla contrast with sour cranberries and orange. This holiday, consider adding this impressive dessert to someone’s table. You’ll also want to eat it for breakfast or an afternoon snack.

This tart is one of many delicious things that I’ve made from Amy Chaplin’s book At Home in the Whole Foods Kitchen. As you must have deduced from the title, her recipes are vegan and mostly gluten-free, but don’t lack anything in taste and texture.

Cranberry Almond Tart
Makes One 9-Inch Tart
* If you are baking for someone who is gluten-free, swap the spelt flour gluten-free oat flour, and make sure the rolled oats are gluten-free. In summer, try fresh berries or sliced peaches instead of cranberries. Zest the orange before juicing it for the filling. Use a 9-inch fluted tart pan with removable bottom, or as I did, a ceramic tart dish.

for the crust
1/4 cup regular rolled oats
1/4 cup dried, unsweetened, shredded coconut
1/4 cup whole raw almonds (I used sliced raw almonds)
2 tblsp brown rice flour
1/4 tsp sea salt
3/4 cup plus 2 tblsp spelt flour (or all-purpose, or GF oat flour)
3 tblsp extra virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing the pan
3 tblsp grade A maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract

for the filling
2 tsp arrowroot
4 tblsp fresh orange juice, divided
1/4 cup plus 2 tblsp maple syrup
1/8 tsp cinnamon

for the topping
2 1/2 cups almond meal
1 tsp baking powder
3 tblsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
zest of 1 orange
zest of 1 lemon
1/8 tsp sea salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
3 tblsp sliced almonds
confectioner’s sugar, for dusting

1. Make the crust: Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Thoroughly oil tart pan and set aside. Combine oats, coconut, almonds, rice flour, and salt in a food processor, and blend until finely ground, about 45 seconds. Transfer to a bowl and stir in spelt flour. Drizzle in olive oil; mix with a fork or your fingertips until all flour is moistened. Add maple syrup and vanilla and mix again. Dough should be moist but not sticky. Wash and dry your hands, and press crust evenly into tart pan. Trim any excess dough from edges. Prick bottom of crust with a fork several times, and bake for 15 minutes; crust should be set but not done. Remove from oven and set aside. Leave oven on.

2. Make the filling: Place arrowroot powder in a small bowl and add 1 tblsp orange juice; stir to combine and set aside. In a small pot, combine 2 1/2 cups cranberries, remaining orange juice, maple syrup, and cinnamon. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently. Cover pot, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 5 minutes or until the cranberries are soft. Remove lid, stir arrowroot mixture again, and slowly drizzle into simmering cranberries, stirring constantly until mixture has thickened and returned to a simmer. Remove from heat and spread evenly into prebaked tart shell.

3. Make the topping; Combine almond meal and baking powder in a medium mixing bowl, breaking any lumps of almond meal with your finder tips or a fork. In another bowl, combine olive oil, maple syrup, orange zest, lemon zest, salt and vanilla and almond extracts; whisk with a fork until emulsified. Pour into almond meal mixture and stir with a rubber spatula until completely combined- mixture will be quite wet. Scoop spoonfuls of mixture over cranberry filling, and use damp fingers to spread topping out a little, leaving it rustic with some filling showing in parts to allow cranberries to bubble up. Lightly press remaining 1/2 cup cranberries into topping and sprinkle with sliced almonds. Bake for 25 minutes, or until puffed and golden. Allow tart to cool completely before removing from pan, if using a pan with a removable bottom. Dust with confectioner’s sugar and serve.

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Two Cool Cucumber Salads for Lazy Summer Days

The temperature in SoCal has been hovering around 95º for a month. Suffice it to say, it’s salad weather. Both of these salads combine Persian cucumbers with summer fruit and salty cheese, with delicious results.

The first recipe comes from Kismet, a favorite Middle Eastern restaurant here in LA. Homemade labneh becomes a creamy base for cucumbers, quick-pickled cherries, and a dusting of Za’atar. You can make your own labneh very easily by draining Greek yogurt in the fridge for 1 day. Za’atar is a versatile spice mix made with thyme, sumac and sesame seeds. I love the elemental nature of this salad, and its clean, bright flavors.

The next salad pairs cool cucumbers and cantaloupe with salty feta and fiery Fresno chiles. It’s an interesting twist on the classic watermelon feta salad, and just as refreshing.

Cucumbers with Labneh, Pickled Cherries, and Za’atar
recipe slightly adapted from Kismet & NYTimes Food
serves 2-4

for the cherries
1 cup sweet cherries, halved and pitted
1 tblsp red wine vinegar
1 tblsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt

for the Za’atar
1 tblsp toasted sesame seeds
1 1/2 tsp sumac
1 tsp dried thyme or oregano
1/4 tsp salt
2 tblsp dried rose petals, roughly ground (optional)

for the Labneh
1 cup plain Greek yogurt, drained for 24 hrs
1 tsp salt
zest of 1 lemon
1 clove of garlic, pressed or grated on Microplane
1 tblsp lemon juice or rose water
1 tsp honey
black pepper

for the cucumbers
5 Persian cucumbers, rinsed and cut in 1/2-inch slices
juice of 1 lemon
olive oil
watercress, rinsed and dried well (optional)

1. 24 hours ahead: Drain the yogurt: Wrap it in cheesecloth and set it in a strainer over a medium bowl. Place in the fridge. Pickle the cherries: Place the cherries in a bowl and toss with the vinegar, sugar and salt. Cover and let sit in the fridge.

2. Make the Za’atar: combine all spices and sesame seeds. Make the labneh: place the thickened yogurt in a small bowl and combine with salt, pepper, lemon zest and juice, garlic, and honey. Make the cucumbers: Toss cucumbers (and watercress, if using) with lemon juice, a splash of olive oil and a pinch of salt.

3. To assemble, cover the labneh with cucumbers and cherries, and sprinkle 1 tsp of za’atar on top. Serve immediately.

Cucumber and Cantaloupe Salad with Fresno Chiles and Feta
serves 4

4 tblsp Champagne vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
6 tblsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp ground coriander
1/8 tsp ground cardamom
salt and fresh ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup chopped mint
1/2 medium cantaloupe, rind and seeds removed, flesh cut into 1-inch cubes
1 English hothouse cucumber (or 4 Persian cucumbers), sliced 1/2 inch think
2 Fresno chiles, thinly sliced
1 shallot, sliced thin (let sit in red wine vinegar while you make the rest)
1/4 cup toasted pepitas or sunflower seeds
2 oz feta cheese, drained and cut in 1 inch cubes
sumac, for serving

1. Make the vinaigrette: In a large bowl, use a fork to whisk together vinegar, salt, pepper, coriander, and cardamom. Slowly whisk in the olive oil. Stir in the chopped cilantro and mint.

2. Add cantaloupe, cucumber, and chiles and toss to coat. Let sit, uncovered 15 minutes.

3. To serve, add shallot, feta, and toasted seeds to the salad and toss gently. Plate and top with sumac.

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A Sweet Recipe for Valentine’s Day: Blood Orange Poppy Seed Muffins with Coconut Cream Frosting

For this year’s Valentine’s Day treat, I took advantage of winter citrus and made a batch of blood orange poppy seed muffins. These muffins have a moist crumb and are delicious on their own, but to add a little indulgence, I whipped coconut cream with a touch of confectioner’s sugar and vanilla bean. Let the frosting firm up in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before topping the muffins.

Hope your Valentine’s Day was full of love, friends and family! XOXO

Blood Orange Poppy Seed Muffins with Coconut Cream Frosting
makes 12

for the muffins
2 1/3 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 tblsp poppy seeds
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
8 tblsp butter (one stick), melted
zest and juice of 2 blood oranges
2 eggs
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

for the frosting
1 can coconut cream
1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
beans scraped from 1 vanilla pod, or 1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Make the frosting. Chill the can of coconut cream for 1 hour or overnight. This will help separate the solids from the liquid. Chill the metal bowl from your mixer in the fridge for 30 minutes. Open the can, and carefully scoop out the coconut cream solids (avoiding the liquid at the bottom), into the chilled mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat the cream on medium-high speed until whipped and smooth, around 5 minutes. Add the sugar and the vanilla and beat again for 1 minute. Let the frosting chill while you make the muffins.

2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line muffin pan with paper cups, or spray with non-stick spray. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugars, poppy seeds, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until mixed.

3. In another bowl, whisk together the melted butter, blood orange zest and juice. Whisk in the yogurt and vanilla.

4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and gently fold together until just combined. The batter will be quite thick. Spoon the batter into the muffin liners, filling them 3/4 of the way full.

5. Bake in the center of the oven for 5 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 375 degrees and bake for another 10-15 minutes, until golden brown. Test with a toothpick and remove when dry crumbs stick to the tester.

6. Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Remove from the pan and cool completely. When ready to serve, top the muffins with the chilled frosting.

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To Cure What Ails You: Homemade Chamomile Fennel Bitters

Even more than cooking, the art of cocktail making has an air of alchemy about it. Creating tinctures, shrubs, and bitters for cocktails feels a bit like making magic potions, especially since many of them have medicinal properties. When time itself is an ingredient, you can watch infusions transform before your very eyes.

One of the essential components of a balanced cocktail is a bitter element. To quote Mark Bitterman from this Epicurious article, “bitters are to cocktails as salt is to food.” Not only do they bring their own flavors to a drink, they pull together and accentuate the other ingredients. A good bitter will add depth, complexity, and a lingering finish to your cocktail.

This recipe comes from Frankie Solarik, owner of BarChef in Toronto, and one of the most inventive mixologists in the game. The process of making your own bitters is incredibly simple; the hardest part is being patient while the herbs and spices mingle with the liquor. Here, gin is infused with chamomile, licorice, fennel, and cardamom, resulting in a powerful yet harmonious digestif. The perfumed, floral nature of chamomile make these bitters a great addition to gin drinks. Fennel and apple undertones make them a natural compliment to bourbon and rye. Homemade bitters last indefinitely, and make a special gift for the cocktail-lovers in your life.

Chamomile and Fennel Bitters
from The Bar Chef: A Modern Approach to Cocktails
Makes about 25 oz (740 mL)

750 mL London dry gin
17 g dried organic chamomile flowers
1 5-inch piece of dried licorice root
10 g whole green cardamom pods
15 g fennel seeds

1. In a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine chamomile, licorice root, cardamom pods, and fennel seeds and top with gin. Seal tightly and shake to mix well. Set aside at room temperature, away from sunlight, for 3 months to allow the flavors to thoroughly infuse the gin. Strain through a fine mesh strainer, cheesecloth, or a coffee filter. Will keep indefinitely.

Chamomile Julep
from The Bar Chef: A Modern Approach to Cocktails
makes 1 serving

1 1/2 oz bourbon
1 1/4 oz chamomile syrup (recipe below)
1/4 oz chamomile and fennel bitters
1 sprig fresh mint, to garnish

1. In a shaker, combine bourbon, chamomile syrup, and bitters. Add ice and stir to chill. Strain into a copper or pewter julep glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with mint.

Chamomile Syrup
makes about 1 pint

2 cups water
1 cup granulated sugar
8 grams dried organic chamomile flowers

1. In a saucepan, combine water, sugar, and chamomile flowers. Simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes, until sugar has completely dissolved and syrup has thickened slightly. Remove from heat and steep for 20 minutes. Use a fine-mesh sieve to strain the syrup and set aside to cool to room temperature. Transfer to airtight container. This will keep for up to 1 week, refrigerated.

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The Perfect Summer Cake? Look No Further. Blueberry Cornmeal Cake with Ricotta and Orange

Blueberries are an indelible part of summer. I’ve come to realize that they have a very high nostalgia quotient, bringing me back to the kitchens and woods of my youth. And in all the muffins, pancakes, scones, cobblers, crumbles, bars, and tarts I’ve made through the years, blueberries have been ever-present. That’s why it’s still exciting to find a great blueberry recipe.

This cake is from the excellent Huckleberry Cafe in Santa Monica, and it will certainly be added to my repertoire. It incorporates many of the elements in my favorite cakes; cornmeal, ricotta and citrus zest. It is moist and springy inside, yet has an amazing golden crust from the cornmeal and sprinkled sugar. As you would imagine, this cake is great for breakfast or dessert.

Blueberry Cornmeal Cake
from Huckleberry: Stories, Secrets, and Recipes From Our Kitchen
makes a 10-inch cake (could also be made as muffins)
* This cake is best served the day it’s made, but keeps, tightly wrapped, at room temperature, for up to 2 days.

3/4 cup + 1 1/2 tblsp unsalted butter, cubed, at room temperature
3/4 cup + 3 tblsp sugar, plus 2 tblsp more
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 eggs
4 1/2 tblsp canola oil
3 tblsp maple syrup
1 tblsp vanilla extract
zest of 1 lemon or 1 orange (optional)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cornmeal
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 cup + 2 tblsp whole plain yogurt
1/2 cup + 1 tblsp ricotta
1 cup fresh blueberries

1. Position a rack in the middle of your oven and preheat to 350º. Line and grease a 10-inch round cake pan.

2. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, 3/4 cup + 3 tblsp sugar, and salt on medium-high speed, until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Incorporate the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Be sure to scrape the sides of the bowl well.

3. With the mixer on low speed, pour in the canola oil, maple syrup, vanilla and orange zest. Pause mixing and add the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, yogurt, and ricotta. Mix cautiously, just until incorporated. Do not overmix!

4. Scoop the batter into the prepared pan, top with the blueberries, and sprinkle with the remaining sugar. Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Do not overbake! Allow to cool for about 20 minutes in the pan.

5. Run a butter knife around the perimeter of the cake. Place a flat plate on top of the cake and pan. Carefully invert the cake onto the plate by flipping both upside down. Then lift the pan off the cake. Gently pull the parchment from every nook and cranny of the cake, being careful not to break the cake. Rest your serving plate on the bottom of the cake and turn the cake right side up onto the plate.
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For Sweet-&-Sour Summer Drinks: Spiced Cherry Maple Shrub

Shrubs have been having a revival recently in bars and home kitchens, though these “drinking vinegars” date back to 17th century England and colonial America. Shrubs only have a few components, but the possible combinations are wide-ranging. To make your own shrub, simply combine a seasonal fruit, a vinegar, a sweetener, and complimentary spices. Let infuse over the course of a few days, then strain and add the tangy syrup to cocktails, or to sparkling water for a homemade soda. Berries and stone fruits are great options here, and using apple cider or champagne vinegar will deliver a smooth and bright flavor. Consider using vanilla bean, citrus peel, ginger and peppercorns for the aromatics.

This healthy and delicious version uses raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar, Grade A maple syrup, and a complex mix of warm spices including cardamom, cinnamon and star anise. Add an ounce to rye or bourbon for a tart spin on an old-fashioned.

Spiced Cherry Maple Shrub
Makes 1 1/2 cups

2 cups washed, stemmed sweet bing cherries
1/2 cup Grade A pure amber maple syrup
1/2 cup Bragg’s raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 cinnamon stick
2 star anise
1 tsp whole cloves
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp black peppercorns
5 green cardamom pods
pinch of dried licorice root

1. Sterilize a quart-sized mason jar, or just wash thoroughly in hot soapy water. Let air dry.

2. Place the cherries in the jar (pits and all), and use a muddler to mash up the cherries and release some juices. Add the vinegar, maple syrup, and spices. Seal and shake a few times to combine. Let sit at room temperature for 24 to 48 hours.

3. After 2 days, strain the shrub though a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth into an airtight jar or bottle. Refrigerate. Use within 1 month.

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Wax Bean Panzanella with Garlic Croutons, Cherry Tomatoes & Pickled Shallots

On hot summer nights, a panzanella salad is the perfect companion to grilled chicken or pork. With some great tomatoes and some crusty bread that’s been cubed or torn into breadcrumbs, you can pull together a rustic and hearty side dish. In this version, vibrant green beans and yellow wax beans pump up the color and nutrient quotient. The croutons are simply seasoned with olive oil, garlic and thyme, bringing a savory warmth to the dish. Soak your sliced shallot in red wine vinegar while you make the salad, and you will add a pretty pink element with bright acidity. I love when only a few ingredients come together in such a sophisticated way.

Wax Bean Panzanella with Garlic Croutons, Cherry Tomatoes & Pickled Shallots
adapted from Kitchen Garden Cookbook
serves 2-4

1 big handful yellow wax beans, washed, dried, and trimmed
1 big handful green beans, washed, dried, and trimmed
1 cup of cubed or torn bread, from a loaf of country bread
3 tblsp extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, pressed
2 tsp chopped thyme
2 tblsp red wine vinegar
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
1 cup of yellow cherry tomatoes, stemmed and halved
salt & fresh ground pepper to taste

1. Place the sliced shallot in a small bowl and cover with the red wine vinegar. Season with fresh cracked pepper. Let soak while you make the salad.

2. Preheat the oven to 375º. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss the croutons with 1 tblsp of the olive oil, the pressed garlic, and thyme. Season with salt and spread out on the pan. Toast until golden brown, stirring a few times, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove and let cool.

3. Meanwhile, fill a saucepan three-fourths full of generously salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the yellow and green beans and cook until crisp-tender, about 3 or 4 minutes. Immediately remove to an ice bath to stop the cooking. Drain and dry well.

4. In a large bowl, combine the beans and tomatoes. Pull the shallots out of the vinegar and add to the bowl. Season the vinegar with salt and whisk in the remaining 2 tblsp olive oil. Pour over the salad and toss. Add the croutons and gently toss again. Season with sea salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

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