Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Dutch Lettuce

Dutch Lettuce is one of those recipes that has gotten passed down in my family. Grandma used to make it when we were growing up. Luckily my Dad also makes it so it did not suffer the fate of becoming one of those "lost family recipes".

When I mention it to other people, I get the typical weird look, eyebrows raised...then a thoughtful pause usually followed by either, "That kind of sounds like German potato salad..." or "I guess with a little apple cider vinegar it wouldn't be too bad.

Personally, my brother and I think it's wonderful. Earlier this week I had some leftover market goodies. It all started with a head of lettuce, that due to my neglect, had started to wilt on it's own. I also had about 1# of potatoes from my CSA. So, I decided to share this all with you!

This is a very forgiving and flexible recipe. All amounts are subject to your own personal tastes. I have written the recipe as I made it for the pictures.

Grandma McFaul's Dutch Lettuce

1# of potatoes (I usually use Russet or fingerlings. You want a good mashing potato.)
5-6 eggs
1 bunch lettuce of your choosing (My family traditionally uses iceberg. I've used everything from buttercrunch to spinach.)
1 block of salt pork OR 1 pound of GOOD bacon OR 1 pkg. Canadian Bacon (Use bacon or salt if you want salty crunch, use Canadian bacon if you want more of a ham like taste.)
Apple cider vinegar

First you cut up your potatoes and cook them up. Boil your eggs at the same time.

While your eggs are cooling waiting for you to peel them, you can mash your potatoes. I like to add about 2TB butter and a splash of milk. Just enough to make them a little creamy, but not pureed. I use my Grandma's antique potato masher for this - it just doesn't taste the same any other way!

While waiting, you are also cutting your lettuce. I like to do mine into strips. You can hand tear it if that suits you. You want 3/4-1" wide pieces, smaller than that and it gets in your teeth a lot easier!

You can also cut up your meat product. I prefer ham taste so I use Canadian bacon. If you use bacon or salt pork you want to cut it up into 1" pieces. I like these nice little uniform squares.

You want to cook your meat product first. I like my Canadian bacon to be slightly browned like this. The creaminess of the mashed potatoes will preserve the softness of the Canadian bacon. If you are doing salt pork or bacon you want it crispy, because it will get softer over time, but you don't want it chewy.

Dump that in your potatoes. Don't drain your saucepan because you want the tallow, or any remaining fat for the next step. If you use Canadian bacon, at this point you will want to add 1TB of your preferred cooking oil to the pan.

In that which remains from your meat you want to saute, or wilt your lettuce. I like mine about 3/4ths of the way wilted.

At this point you want to dump your wilted greens in.....

And give it a stir up. This is the point where I have to start resisting eating it right away. Because I've yet to add my favorite part!

Peel your eggs and start slicing and dicing! I like most of mine in wedges because I <3 big bites of hard-boiled eggs!

I slice up the last two, more for decoration honestly. Take all your eggs and dump them right on top. Lovely, right? Start stirring.

This is where you do everything else to taste. Salt, pepper and apple cider vinegar. I start with a scant 1/4 c. apple cider vinegar. And I end with that much. If you want more, go for it. The apple cider vinegar adds a sweet tartness to it all, which is just delish!

Give it one last good stir and throw it in a bowl, all warm and nom and stick to your ribs! It's good cold, but I prefer it warm!

Try it and let me know what you think. And when you love it, thank my Grandma!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Acini de Pepe Salad

I was not the first one to come up with this idea. I actually got this recipe from the Empire State Mason, back in the mid 90's. It has in the past decade turned into my "go to" recipe for summer cookouts and BBQs.

You Will Need:
1 large can crushed pineapple
1 large can chunky pineapple
1 large can mandarin oranges (or two small if you can't find the larger cans)
16oz. acini de pepe pasta
12oz. Cool Whip
1c. sugar
2 tsp. flour
3 eggs, beaten

I always start with cooking the pasta, since the whole package cooks in under 10 minutes. Then, drain and rinse.

Isn't it cute? You can dump it into a large glass bowl, this recipe makes a lot!

While the pasta is cooking, drain and reserve the juice from the 2 cans of pineapple. You'll have about 2c. juice.

Whatever you end up with is fine, this isn't an exacting recipe.

Add the pineapple to the pasta, then drain the mandarin oranges and add them too. Mix it up.

You do not need the juice from the oranges. If you don't want to waste it, do what I do and drink it mixed with Sprite.

Now that it's all mixed, you can focus on making the "sauce" of the salad. Take your other ingredients: 1c. sugar, 2tsp. flour, 3 eggs.

Beat the eggs, then mix everything together with the 2c.(or so) juice in a saucepan and start to heat it all over med-high heat, stirring often.

I learned with this recipe that you really need to add the eggs in in the beginning, because if you add them when the liquid is already hot, you get stringy cooked eggs in your salad. And that just doesn't look too good.

Cook it all up until thickened. It will get glossy and slowly drip off your spoon. You can't tell that in the picture, though.

Now comes the waiting. Put the "sauce" (still in the pan) in the fridge and cool to at least room temp. My definition of room temp is that when you stick your finger in it, it is neither warm nor cool.

Once that's cool, you mix that in and put the whole thing in the fridge to chill overnight.

After chilling overnight, you will find that your dessert has expanded, twicefold.

Now it's time for the Cool Whip. Don't do this until you're ready to leave, though.

Mix it in,

and there you go!