Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Alas, the end of summer...

So, here it is. Labor Day has passed. The sun is setting that wee bit earlier. The mornings are just that wee bit cooler. The beach holiday is a memory, the neighborhood pool is closing and your car is now just a little less than 3 million degrees when you return to it in the supermarket parking lot! Yes, it's the end of summer.

So, what to do methinks to celebrate this passing of the season? Well, one of my childhood 'end-of-summer' memories is the gleaning of the blackberry bushes that surrounded our farm in Northern Ireland. Sticky fingers, messy shirts and tummy aches accompanied the ritual, but oh how good it was to peruse the blackberry bush and taste that sweet fruit!

Archaeological evidence tells us that people have been eating blackberries for eons, and why not? It's a delicious, easy to obtain fruit that grows easily in a range of climates. In fact, it's almost a weed in Ireland! And, it's versatile, lending itself to jams, syrups, sauces and in this case, a wonderful 'end-of-summer' celebration salad dressing.

Yes folks, here's another sneak peak into our upcoming book; 'The Shamrock and Peach; with a wonderful recipe pinched from it's pages. I give you:

"Golden Pear & Irish Blue Cheese Salad with blackberry balsamic vinaigrette and spiced walnuts"

Enjoy this superb salad as you contemplate the summer that's been, and as ever...enjoy!

Judie the Irish Foodie xx

Salad ingredients (serves 4):

• 4 handfuls of salad greens (washed)
• 2 ripe pears (quartered and cored)
• handful of blackberries
• handful of spiced walnuts
• 4 oz. Irish blue cheese
• 2 fl. oz. (¼ cup) blackberry vinaigrette

Blackberry vinaigrette ingredients:

• 5 oz. (1 cup) ripe blackberries
• juice of 1 lemon
• 2 fl. oz. (¼ cup) honey
• 1 shallot (minced)
• 2 fl. oz. (¼ cup) balsamic vinegar
• 6 fl. oz. (¾ cup) olive oil
• sea salt and pepper

How to make it:

1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
2. To make the spiced walnuts, combine the sugar, salt, cinnamon, and cayenne in a bowl.
3. Coat the walnuts in egg white and toss them in the prepared dry mixture.
4. Spread the coated walnuts on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes.
5. Stir the nuts and bake for a further 5 minutes, being careful not to burn.
6. Prepare the vinaigrette by blending the blackberries and lemon juice in the food processor.
7. Strain to remove seeds.
8. Blend strained lemon blackberry purée, shallot, honey, and balsamic vinegar in the processor. Add the oil in a slow, steady drizzle.
9. Season with salt and pepper then refrigerate.
10. To serve, divide the salad mixture between 6 plates, then arrange the pears, blackberries, blue cheese, and a few spiced walnuts on top of each salad mixture.
11. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and serve.

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