Friday, August 22, 2014

Borscht Belt Salad (with Beet, Cucumber and Dill)

Why's it called the "Borscht Belt Salad?" Funny you should ask.
Remember Henny Youngman—that old Borscht Belt comedian with the violin and famous one-liners like, “Take my wife...please!”? The legendary Jewish comic got his start on the New York Catskills comedy circuit, aka the Borscht Belt, that was popular from the 1940s through the 1960s. Well, when Henny's wife, Sadie, said to him, “For our anniversary I want to go somewhere I've never been before,” he said, “Try the kitchen!” 

So in honor of Mrs. Youngman's culinary lethargy, I created this simple salad inspired by the refreshing essence of borscht. Vibrant beets, cool cucumber and herbaceous dill conspire as loudly as Henny's out of tune violin to announce big, babushka-like flavors. It's so easy to throw together, even Sadie wouldn't have minded making it. It shouldn't taste funny, though. I left the funny to Henny.

Beet, Cucumber and Dill Borscht Belt Salad

Equal parts beetscubed, quartered or sliced 
Equal parts unpeeled organic cucumber, cubed, quartered or sliced 
Handful of fresh dill, chopped

¼ cup olive oil
1 ½ tsp white wine vinegar
½ heaping tsp Dijon mustard
½ medium shallot, minced
Sea salt to taste

Steam or roast beets till fork tender. Peel and let cool. Cut beets and cuke in same size shapes—either cubes, wedges or slices. Add vinaigrette and dill. Let chill for half an hour and serve. 

The Borscht Belt Salad first appeared (sans recipe) in the post, A Job Farewell: Nine Years and Nine Salads

Friday, August 1, 2014

Lazy Figger's Fig and Banana Sorbet

I'll come right out and say it: I'm figgin' lazy. Yep, I'm a lazy figger. So I took the easy route with this fig and banana blender sorbet. I also took liberties by calling this vegan, sugar-free, frozen fruit mixture sorbet since most sorbets are full of sugar. Some store-bought ones even have corn syrup. But my sweet thang doesn't answer to a sugar daddy. She's assertive, self-reliant and whole. And since I'm a healthy figger too, I didn't boil away her nutrients. I simply put raw fruit in a blender and called it a day. Then a sorbet.  

A tasty but figly (figgin' ugly) concoction 

But before I called it a sorbet, I called it a spoonie. You know, a thick smoothie you eat with a spoon. If you prefer it unfrozen this way, be my guest, but please don't call it sorbet. That would be a violation of Lentil Breakdown fruit nomenclature.

Being a cheap figger, I'd normally think twice about sacrificing a cup of precious, pricey figs to a lazy figger sorbet when I could just as lazily enjoy them au naturel, which entails no risk. But after I scored a flat of fresh figs from the California Fig Commission last year and made my chocolate-dipped figs with hazelnuts, I became emboldened to take more chances. And after attending this year's Figology Fest—a creative fig shindig hosted by Erika Kerekes and Judy Lyness, I received the fig bounty that made me the lazy figger that I am. There's no shame in being a lazy figger. Especially when your sweet thang's in the raw without her sugar daddy.

Fig and Banana Sorbet

¾ cup frozen banana chunks
1 cup fresh Mission or other brown figs cut up (not frozen)
2 TBSP canned light coconut milk
A few ground cardamom seeds from one pod
A handful of pistachios

Put frozen banana chunks, fig chunks, coconut milk and cardamom in the blender. Blend until smooth, but leave visible fig chunks. Top with pistachios.

Eat now as a spoonie or freeze in a pint container for sorbet.

Makes about 2 servings. 

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