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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


Give your arteries a break, eat a salad

In the last three weeks, we have made fresh sausages, 100 percent beef hot dogs wrapped in caul fat, pates, terrines, and liverwurst mousse.  But why stop there?  Of course, we have to look at the desserts that we served to 270 people last weekend as part of our annual Dessert Theater:  lemon meringue cupcakes, chocolate-hazelnut mousse on crisps and sticky toffee pudding cake.
The meringue was an amazing cooked meringue that rivaled fresh gooey marshmallows when toasted with the torch.  The lemon curd still lingers on my taste buds, as the effervescence of the lemon peel permeates my memory.
The sticky toffee cake was everything you would expect: an amazingly rich and dense pudding that might as well have been comprised of pure sugar.  After all, it pretty much was pure sugar, and I am a big fan.
But all things must come to an end, and after a couple weeks of food-linked frivolities, I know that I must once again regain control over the only temple with which I was granted at birth.  Luckily my blood sugars looked great recently.  My cholesterol levels, however…
But blood tests aside, I can think of another reason to lean away from the wares that make teaching this semester so difficult, “Baking & Pastry” class and “Garde Manger” class.  Both are exquisite demonstrations of how to prepare foods we shouldn’t be eating but feel compelled to anyway. 
It reminds me of a caterpillar that all of you should know.  He was a very hungry caterpillar who ate his way through a good portion of the flora in his world … not to mention a cupcake or two.  On Sunday, he was very full and decided to eat his way through a piece of lettuce.
Suffice it to say, that could well be where I am at this very moment.  After all, I could probably go a month without meat or sugar and still be burning off the residuals of these magnificent providers of caloric intake.  It’s like this every spring semester since the classes remain the same, and we do a fair amount of charcuterie – ergo the sodium and fat levels are naturally raised.
Is it worth it?  You better believe it.  There is nothing like showing students that they can make fresh sausages, hot dogs, pates and the like as easily as they could make bacon from raw pork belly with a little food science and a lot of love.  It is a magical transformation that has been practiced for centuries and one that I am proud to be a part of. 
Of course, as I write this I am so happy to be sitting down to a bowl of fresh salad.  I don’t want to think about meat for a good while.  Just like the 300-plus cupcakes that were baked this weekend on top of the extensive menu we offered for our light hors d’oeuvres tables (mission accomplished with my small but very efficient staff), enough is enough.  Boo cupcakes; and boo cured, stuffed and dried meats.  Boo smoked stuff.
I’m just going to enjoy my salad, and maybe think about the blood sausage that we’ll be making a couple weeks.  It may be time for a salad break after that, too.  Raise your glasses, give a toast to spring, and enjoy a salad.  Let your body rest after abusing it with the hearty meals of winter.
Spring Salad
Serves 6
1lb Arugula
1 ea. English cucumber
1 c. Nicoise or similar olive
1 ea. Red bell pepper
6 oz. crumbly feta cheese
24 ea. Grape or cherry tomatoes

Sherry vinaigrette (recipe follows)
English cucumber does not need to be peeled.  Simply wash and cut in half.  Using a spoon, scrape out the seeds (optional) and cut on the bias so they resemble the cucumbers in the picture.
Make sure that your olives are pitted.  You don’t want any broken teeth to start the season!
Dice the red pepper and cut the tomatoes in half.  An easy trick is to turn a small plate upside down so that its foot can be filled with tomatoes.  Cover the top with another similar plate, right-side-up, gently pressing while running a sharp, serrated knife through the tomatoes.  Makes quick work of this task.
Combine all ingredients in the bowl except the vinaigrette, making sure not to mash anything.  Gentle folding is the key here.
Toss with the vinaigrette and serve family-style.  This is a simple and great tasting salad that will accompany anything from fried tofu to grilled porterhouse steak.  Spring is here!

Sherry Vinaigrette
1 c. Sherry vinegar
1/4 c. Sugar
1 tsp. Fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp. fresh oregano leaves, minced
1 tsp. Italian parsley leaves, minced
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
Salt & Pepper as needed
1 ½ c. Grape seed oil or other light vegetable oil

There’s no reason to reinvent the wheel here.  Simply Place all ingredients except the oil in a tall cup and stick in an immersion blender
Starting slowly and working the speed up, incorporate the oil a little bit at a time in a slow drizzle
When the dressing comes together, take a final taste and adjust the seasoning
Refrigerate until you are ready to use