This new year is all about restraint for me. For example, I wanted to lead this post with a picture that I eventually decided to bury after a bit of text and a warning: it’s a beef bone with the marrow popping out. A picture that may ’cause some of my more sensitive readers to break out in a cold sweat.
And then there’s the fact that my first post of 2012 is a recipe for salad — more evidence of restraint. After years of cold-oil french fires, Italian meatballs, mocha hot fudge, Danish meatballs, etc, I’ve finally come through with a post that keeps the best-intentioned resolutions in mind!
What’s that you say? The croutons? Well…yes…by marrow I do mean beef marrow. From a bone. Breaded and deep fried.
And, you should know, it took everything I had not to just serve my Popcorn Marrow Balls with a big bowl of blue cheese dressing on the side. If it wasn’t for restraint, there wouldn’t be a green in sight. (Except the sage — deep fried.)
Oh dear. This is not looking good.
In reality, Howard and I have been eating a lot of salads lately. For one thing, after Christmas in Vegas, both of us need to back away from the buffet, if you know what I mean.
The other reason is that all of the herbs I transplanted, as well as the kale, arugula, beet and chard seeds I threw in the ground at the last minute in October are thriving! Very unusual indeed. The baby greens have even survived a few heavy frosts.
Back to the whole restraint thing — it seems I may have blown my cover — restraint has never been my strong point. We strive for moderation around here, which means that we try to ride that wave between self-denial and monstrous consumption. I own 1 pair of jeans at a time, most of my T-shirts come from our community thrift store, I eat grated raw carrot like a rabbit and I often forage for food while I’m out for a walk with the dog, but I have a too many pairs of shoes, a weakness for expensive cheese and I like crunchy little pockets of beef fat sprinkled on my salad.
I guess, for me, life is more about balancing the highs and lows and less about exercising restraint.
Which is the perfect segue to talk about salt and seasoning in cooking. Another topic that often gets brought up under the guise of restraint. You’ll notice in the recipe below, I season at every stage. That’s why restaurant food tastes good — we use salt (and pepper) all the way along.
I’ve had a lot of people express their shock to me about the amount of salt used by TV chefs. “I would never eat that much salt!” they say indignantly.
In reality, they probably eat more. The same people that think Bobby Flay should season with a lighter hand think nothing of downing a bag of microwave popcorn, a big glass of canned tomato juice and a frozen low-fat dinner entree all in one day (never mind one meal!), and may have no idea that they’ve just consumed 3 times the daily recommendations for salt — all without a trip through the drive-thru that day!
Less processed food means less salt, and cooking from scratch gives you complete control about how much salt goes where. And just as important, what kind of salt you use. I prefer natural sea salt with many foods, and always to finish a dish. Good old table salt still has a home in my kitchen, but so does kosher salt, coarse (pickling) salt, a box of Maldon’s, a frou-frou smoked salt and a local finishing salt, harvested from the coastal waters of Vancouver Island.
I have almost as many salts in my cupboard as shoes in my closet.
I figure they balance each other out. ;)
Happy New Year to us all! Many thanks for stopping by in 2011, and my best wishes for a safe and prosperous 2012.
(Click on the title below for a printable version of the recipe.)
:an idea I got from Jennifer McLagan, author of Odd Bits, when I took a class with her in November.
- Beef Bones (wide bones with lots of marrow, 3-4” long) – 2 (at room temperature)
- Flour – ¼ Cup
- Egg – 1 Large
- Panko Bread Crumbs – ¾ Cup
- Fresh Thyme, chopped – 1 tsp (½ tsp dried)
- Cayenne – pinch
- s+p – to taste
- Vegetable Oil – for frying
- Mixed Lettuce & Greens (Romaine, Red Leaf, Radicchio, Sorrel, Baby Arugula, Dill, Mint, Sage)
- Other Veggies (julienned carrot)
- Lightly Roasted Nuts/Seeds (pine nuts, hazelnuts, sunflower, sesame)
- s+p – to taste
- Olive Oil – ¼ Cup
- Shallot, minced – 2 Tble
- White Balsamic Vinegar – 2 Tble
- Walnut Oil – 2 Tble
- Dijon Mustard – 1 tsp
- Lemon Zest, grated – 1 tsp
- Honey – ½ tsp
- s+p – to taste
- Remove the marrow from the bones: Use a small, sharp knife to cut around the perimeter of the marrow in the centre of one bone. Push the knife all the way through (if possible), and continue to cut carefully all the way around the marrow. Press on one end of the marrow with your thumbs until it slides free of the bone. Repeat with the second bone. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Assemble the salad: Toss the greens, herbs and veggies in a salad bowl. Season lightly with salt & pepper. Cover with a clean damp dishtowel and refrigerate until read to serve.
- Make the dressing: Combine all of the ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake well to combine. Taste and season with salt & pepper. Refrigerate until service.
- Make the croutons: Mix the flour, thyme and cayenne together in a small bowl. Whisk the egg lightly with 2 teaspoons water in another small bowl and dump the panko into a third. Season all 3 bowls with salt & pepper.
- Remove the marrow from the fridge and slice into ½” cubes or rounds. Working quickly with a fork, toss the marrow pieces in the flour, then in the egg wash, then in the panko crumbs. Roll it in the egg wash a second time, then back into the panko to coat completely. Repeat with the rest of the marrow pieces. Refrigerate until ready to fry.
- Heat ½” of vegetable oil in a small pan until shimmering (350° F). Fry the croutons in small batches, flipping occasionally, until golden brown on all sides. Drain on paper towels and season lightly with salt.
- To serve: Toss the salad with just enough dressing to make the greens shine, not soggy. Pile onto plates, garnish with nuts & croutons. Drizzle on a little more dressing with great panache and serve.
- My salad is garnished with baby sorrel & fried sage leaves.
Preparation time: 45 minute(s)
Cooking time: 5 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 3
Copyright © 2009-2011 Island Vittles/Theresa Carle-Sanders. All rights reserved. Don’t Steal — Karma’s Real.