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Repertoire: Gjelina-Inspired Summer Crostini

Long before the Gjelina cookbook was written, I read an article in Food & Wine magazine where Chef Travis Lett shared a few recipes from the restaurant. I immediately ripped the pages out and tried to recreate some of the dishes I’d remembered eating there. One of my favorites was the “Grilled Apricot, Burrata and Country Ham Salad.”

After making it a few times over the past several years, I thought it would be fun to turn it into an appetizer instead. In the recipe, Lett says to freely swap out seasonal fruits, so I used peaches since they are lovely this time of year. The original recipe also involves grilling the fruit, which is fantastic but obviously more work. If the grill is hot, by all means grill away — but honestly, they’re perfectly delicious when served fresh and ripe. Besides, isn’t summer all about keeping it simple?

Gjelina-Inspired Summer Crostini
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Ingredients
  1. 1 baguette
  2. extra virgin olive oil
  3. salt + pepper
  4. 2 balls of burrata (approx 8oz)
  5. 1 package of prosciutto di Parma
  6. 1 large, ripe, but slightly firm peach, thinly sliced (*can be grilled for more flavor)
  7. 1 cup of thinly sliced radicchio
  8. 1 cup of arugula
  9. 1/2 lemon
  10. balsamic reduction (I use Napa Valley Naturals Grand Reserva Balsamic)
Instructions
  1. Thinly slice baguette (1/2" thick or less) and place on baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil and top with salt and pepper. Broil for about 2 minutes or until golden brown, then flip over and repeat. Remove from oven and let cool.
  2. Combine radicchio and arugula in a small bowl. Squeeze half a lemon on top of the salad, drizzle with olive oil (approx 1 TBL), stir then season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Cover each piece of baguette with a layer of burrata, a small piece of prosciutto, one or two slices of peach, and a pinch of salad. Once all toasts are dressed, drizzle the balsamic reduction over the top. Finish with a final sprinkle of salt and pepper.
Notes
  1. This recipe can easily be halved to accommodate fewer people.
Adapted from Travis Lett
Adapted from Travis Lett
180360 http://www.180360.com/

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Repertoire: Winter Granola

Winter Granola
Winter Granola

I’m one of those people that can eat the same breakfast, day in and day out and never tire of it. In a perfect world, that would consist of a double espresso and a pastry. Alas, that doesn’t work for me. After about an hour I’d be shaking and foggy from lack of protein. 

Over the years, I’ve come to realize the best breakfast for me is granola. I eat it almost every day without fail, making large batches several times a month. You’d think I’d be sick of it by now, but I’m not. In fact, I crave it constantly. It’s also one of those recipes that keeps evolving and getting better with each experimentation. 

I call this my Winter Granola. It’s full of nuts and seeds, crunch and heartiness with just the slightest hint of sweetness. If that bothers you, you could certainly add some coconut sugar, but I don’t think it needs it. I know there are a bazillion different granola recipes out there, but this one is definitely a keeper. It’s paleo, vegan, vegetarian, easy to make and most importantly, energy sustaining.

Winter Granola
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Ingredients
  1. 2 lbs of rolled oats (gluten free, if preferred)
  2. 2 cups roughly chopped raw pecans
  3. 2 cups raw sliced almonds
  4. 2 cups unsweetened coconut flakes
  5. 1/2 cup raw pepitas
  6. 1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
  7. 1/2 cup raw slivered almonds
  8. 3 tsp ground cinnamon
  9. 2 tsp ground ginger
  10. 1 tsp sea salt
  11. 1 cup of olive oil
  12. 1 cup of maple syrup
  13. 12oz of dried tart cherries
Instructions
  1. Set oven to 300 degrees F and make sure oven racks are in top 1/3, middle 1/3 and bottom 1/3 of oven. Combine all of the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Stir well. Add the oil then the syrup and stir to coat completely. Spread evenly onto 3 parchment-lined baking sheets. Pat granola down so it is flat and even. Put one tray on each rack. Bake for 10 minutes, then move the trays up/down a rack so that each tray bakes on each rack for approximately 10 minutes (you'll do this 3 times). The key is to have nicely browned granola. If it's underdone, it will not taste right! Likewise, it won't taste well if it's burnt. Generally speaking it's about 10-13 minutes on each rack to get a nice golden brown color. Once baked, allow to cool on racks or stove top for several hours (this is when it sets and crisps up). Pour dried cherries on top, then pour into storage containers. Refrigerate or freeze (it tastes best cold).
Notes
  1. If you only have 2 racks in your oven, set them up evenly and cook the third tray on its own in the middle. It's important that the baking sheets do not have too thick of a layer, so I wouldn't recommend squeezing everything on to 2 sheets.
180360 http://www.180360.com/

Repertoire: Persimmon Salad

180360_PersimmonSalad I discovered this beautiful and unusual salad several years ago at my friend Jora’s house. Although I’d heard of persimmons, I couldn’t tell you what they looked like or how they tasted! Thankfully, that changed as soon as I ate this salad. It was love at first bite and now I look forward to seeing them in the store every fall. Funny how that happens!

For those like me who aren’t as familiar with persimmons, they have been grown in Asia for centuries but are also found throughout America, including a native variety specific to the Eastern US. However, there are two main Asian varieties sold in markets, the Fuyu and the Hachiya.

The Fuyu is squat and flat, shaped more like a tomato and should be eaten when it’s just barely soft. The Hachiya is longer and more oval shaped. It can be extremely tart if eaten before it’s ripe.

Here we use the Fuyu Persimmon, which happens to be my favorite. When purchasing, look for orange and firm-fleshed fruit. 

This recipe incorporates all of my favorite qualities and balance in a salad; sweetness from the persimmon, tartness from the pomegranate and lime, heat from the chile, smokiness from the cumin, crunch from the walnuts, softness from the fruit. It’s a fine introduction and also makes a fantastic Thanksgiving side dish, if I do say so myself. I’ve made it these past two years and I just love the color and flavor it brings to the table.

Have you had a persimmon before? Do you like them as much as I do? If so, I hope you’ll share a new persimmon recipe with me!

Persimmon Salad
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Ingredients
  1. 2 pounds Fuyu persimmons
  2. Juice of 1 lime
  3. 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  4. 1/2 serrano chile, seeded and minced
  5. Salt
  6. 1 tablespoon walnut oil
  7. 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds (about 1/4 pomegranate)
  8. 3 tablespoons chopped walnuts, toasted
  9. 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
Instructions
  1. Cut off the tough green calyxes and slice each persimmon in 10 to 12 wedges.
  2. In a small lidded jar, combine the lime juice, cumin, about half of the chile, a dash of salt and the walnut oil. Tightly cover and shake hard to mix well. Taste the dressing on a small piece of persimmon. There should be just enough chile to add a suggestion of heat. If you'd like it hotter, add more and shake again.
  3. Combine the persimmons and the dressing in a work bowl and toss to coat well. Turn the salad out into a decorative bowl and sprinkle with the pomegranate seeds, walnuts and cilantro. Taste and add more salt or lime juice if necessary.
Notes
  1. (Walnut oil gives a nice flavor, but I've used olive and safflower oil and it works fine, too.)
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