Salad Days (some assembly required)

boiled eggs, olive, fingerling potatoes, green beans, shallots, tuna and tomatoes make up this salad

Its another hot one here in Southern California, which puts me in the mood for some lighter food and given the richness of last weeks duck tacos a few salad days might do me some good. Keeping with the Mediterranean theme that was discussed a few posts back, Salad Niçois with Seared Tuna seemed like a good way to make use of some of the freshly ripened tomatoes from our garden and produce that we’ve received this past week from Imperfect Produce. My local Sprouts has a decent selection of frozen sustainably caught fish and we try to keep some tuna and salmon in the freezer for leaner, lighter protein options.

Salad Niçois is a composed salad with greens, olives (usually Niçois), scallions, tomatoes and boiled eggs with either anchovies or tuna and dressed with olive oil. Sometime back in the 30s recipes started to appear for Salad Niçois with boiled potatoes and green beans. Which I’ve added to my version as well.  Putting the salad together involved a little bit of chopping, making the vinaigrette and searing the tuna. I used some leftover fried fingerling potatoes and then boiled eggs for about 6 minutes. During the last few minutes of the eggs boiling, I tossed in some chopped green beans along with a teaspoon of salt to blanch. Then I drained the eggs and green beans and put them into ice cold water to stop the cooking. After a few minutes, I drained the water and added more cold water.

Salad Niçois with Seared Tuna 

(serves 2)

6 cups cleaned and chopped greens ( we had hearts of romaine so that’s what I used)

2 scallions chopped

1 cup sliced and cooked fingerling potatoes

⅓ cup olives

2 tomatoes cut into quarters

2 boiled eggs

½ cup cooked chopped green beans

2 4-6 oz tuna steaks

salt and pepper

1 garlic clove

1 tsp dried oregano

1 TBS olive oil

lemon juice

4 TBS Vinaigrette (see recipe below)

To start, put the garlic clove, salt and pepper, oregano and lemon juice into a mortar and pestle and crush together until a paste forms.  Put into a  zip top freezer bag and then add the olive oil. Place the tuna steaks into the bag and rub with the marinade until all sides of the tuna are coved and set aside.  Lightly dress the tomatoes, green beans and potatoes with 1 tablespoon of the vinaigrette and let sit while you sear off the tuna. Using a dry non stick skillet on medium high (or on the grill if you have a wire grilling basket), sear the tuna. Don’t try to move the tuna around, when its sufficiently seared it should easily come off the pan to flip on a gas flame this is usually after about 2 minutes. Sear the other. side for about a minute if you prefer your tuna medium rare. Remove from heat and let rest on a cutting board. Assemble the salad either on individual plates or in a large bowl and dress the greens with the remaining dressing. Slice the tuna and add to the salad and serve.

 

Vinaigrette 

1 part cider vinegar

2 parts extra virgin olive oil or grapeseed oil

Juice of ½ a lemon

½ tsp anchovy paste or 1 anchovy filet

1 crushed garlic clove

1 tsp mayonaise

1 tsp dijon mustard

1 tsp peppercorns

½ tsp dried oregano

In a mortar and pestle, crush the garlic, oregano and salt together until a past forms. Then move to a small bowl and whisk with all the other ingredients until everything is well combined.

 

Peach Fritters

Fried and glazed with buttermilk peach glaze just waiting to be eaten.

The inspiration for this week’s post was a sort of necessity is the mother of invention kind of thing. I had been toying with making donuts for several weeks originally planning on making malasadas, which are a type of donut popular throughout Hawaii. So I’ll save that idea for another time and make buttermilk peach fritters. Why peach? Well as has been the theme of late, I have a whole lot of peaches and apricots that need to be used up. I’ve had my fill of fruit salads and cobblers for a while, since that’s how we’ve been using up the fruit so far this summer.

Now my goal was to make the style of fritters you get from donut shops versus drop style. So first things first. I’ll need to make a yeast based donut dough.

Yeast Donuts Recipe

Ingredients

2 packets instant yeast

4 cups All Purpose Flour

1 ½ cups whole milk

⅓ cup shortening

⅓ cup warm water

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp salt

¼ cup buttermilk powder

Instructions

Bloom yeast in bowl of warm water.

yeast getting frothy.

While yeast is blooming, melt the shortening in the milk over low heat then set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, mix salt flour and buttermilk powder.  The yeast should be frothy by now. So put the yeast water mixture in the bowl for a stand mixer and slowly add the milk shortening mixture and beaten eggs.

adding milk, egg, shortening and vanilla to mixer.

Slowly add flour.

gradually adding flour and mix with paddle attachment.

Once all the flour is added, Switch to dough hook and mix on medium until the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl, this should take about 5 minutes while mixing on medium.

See the video below to get an idea of the texture you’re looking for.

Place dough into a greased bowl and cover with a clean towel or cling wrap and let rise till doubled in volume.

Peach Fritters

Now for the fun part, the actual making of the fritters. I rolled the dough out to about ½” thickness and cut out 8 donuts using a 3″ round biscuit cutter (we’ll get back to those another post). I gathered the scraps and kneaded them into ball, periodically dusting with bench flour if the dough started to stick. I rolled the dough out ½ thick and then spread approximately 1 cup of chopped up peaches (reserving some of them to use for the glaze) . I then dusted the peaches with pumpkin pie spice and some of the bench flour. Then I rolled it all into a log and used a bench scrapper to slice the log into ½ thick slices and then cut again diagonally. You should have a bunch of dough and peach pieces that are about the size of the peach chunks you started with. Now form into tennis ball to baseball sized balls and flatten those into disks and dust with bench flour. Place on a floured baking sheet  and cover with a tea towel and let proof in a warm area until the dough doubles in size.

Here’s a video to walk you through the process:

Once they’ve doubled in size like this:

fritters doubled in size and ready for the fryer

Fry at 375F until golden brown

Let them drain and cool on a wire rack for about 15-30 minutes before glazing.

Buttermilk Peach Glaze

½ cup of chopped peaches that were reserved from earlier

1 cup water

2 cups of confectioners sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 TBS buttermilk powder

⅛ tsp of ground ginger

¼ tsp pumpkin pie spice

½ tsp salt

In a small sauce pan over low heat, heat the peaches and water until the peaches soften. Remove from heat and mash the peaches with a fork. Let mixture cool. Strain the mixture through a fine strainer, but reserve about a tablespoon of the mashed fruit. In a Medium sized bowl, mix the confectioners sugar, ginger, pumpkin pie spice, salt and buttermilk powder with a whisk. Slowly add the peach syrup and mix until the mixture is the consistency of honey. Add the vanilla.  Using a couple of forks, dip the fritters into the glaze then turn over to coat the other side. Let excess glaze drain off then move to a wire rack. Let the glaze set up before handling the fritters (about 5 minutes).  Enjoy