All Tossed

With spring’s arrival, I'm inspired to toss up a fresh seasonal salad. Now is the time to really enjoy spring greens when they are sweet and at their peak; later in summer the flavors tend to bitter a bit with the heat. Whether you are preparing salad for two or planning your Mother's Day brunch, here are few tips + recipes to make plating up your spring salad even better.

Be sure to do the prep with your delicate spring lettuce; submerge leaves in cold water repeatedly until there is no evidence of soil or sand. Then give those leaves a good spin, so your homemade vinaigrette will easily coat your leaves. Wet leaves repell the dressing.

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Good Stuff Pick - OXO Salad Spinner

George's Blue Cheese Vinaigrette

Makes 2 1/2 cups | Know Your Fire Cookbook

1 Tablespoons chives

1 tsp chopped parsley

1 tsp capers or chopped green olives

1/2 tsp lite soy sauce

1/4 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese, Gorgonzola, Roquefort or Stilton

1 recipe Basic Vinaigette (recipe to follow)

Combine the chives, parsley,capers or olives, and lite soy sauce with the cream and half the cheese and blend well. Add the vinaigrette and stir in the remaining cheese. Let the dressing stand at room temperature for a minimum of 1 hour before serving.

George's Basic Vinaigrette

Makes 2 cups | Know Your Fire Cookbook

"Use whichever vinegar appeals to you: If using balsamic, cut the amount in half." 

1 1/4 cups virgin olive oil

3/4 cups vinegar

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1/4 tsp dry mustard

1/4 tsp hot sauce

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and beat with a fork or a whisk to blend. Or place the ingredients in a jar with a tightly fitting lid and shake until they're well blended.

Allow the dressing to sit at room temperature for 24 hours to develop the flavor.

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There are four main kinds of lettuce to choose from: Butterhead (Bibb), Crisphead (Iceberg), Looseleaf (Cutting) and Romaine. 

Looseleaf

Looseleaf lettuce make colorful tender leaf salads in chartreuse, deep green and bronzy reds. 

Crisphead

Crisphead lettuce contain curved, overlapping leaves which form crispy, firm round heads. Inside, creamy white leaves are tightly packed. Deep green outer leaves are delicious too.

Romaine

Romaine lettuce contain elongated, thick leaves which are crisp and savory.

Butterhead

Butterhead lettuce is the largest and best-flavored group of lettuces. Tender leaf lettuces form a tightly folded head with delicate buttery flavor. Typically smaller heads than other types. 

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Classic Orange and Honey Cake

Mix, bake + serve in under an hour!

The perfect combination of locally made honey and citrus is what inspired today's post, playing off the color orange - and as seen on an episode of GHL. Enjoy a slice of my Orange Honey Cake with a hot cup of orange pekoe tea. BTW - the orange in the orange pekoe denotes the quality of the tea leaves in the blend and not orange flavor. Orange Pekoe is a good grade tea using full and bigger tea leaves.

Also, this recipe is a really easy one to whip up for a impromptu gathering since you can make, bake and eat this cake, in under one hour! Orange you glad about that? Enjoy!

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Honey Orange Cake

Makes 8 servings

chefgeorgehirsch.com | George Hirsch Lifestyle

2/3 cup fresh squeezed orange juice

1/2 cup honey, heated

1/4 cup butter, melted

2 large eggs, separated

1 tsp. finely grated orange peel

1-2/3 cups all-purpose flour, sifted

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

Confectioners sugar

Preheat oven to 350°.

Lightly grease and flour bottom and sides of a 9-inch pan.

In medium bowl, blend orange juice, honey, butter, egg yolks and orange peel; set aside. In large bowl, combine flour, granulated sugar, baking powder and baking soda; set aside.

In small bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Mix orange juice mixture into flour mixture until blended. Gently fold in egg whites. Turn into prepared pan.

Bake 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. On wire rack, cool 10 minutes; remove sides from pan and cool completely. Just before serving, sprinkle with confectioners sugar. To serve, cut into wedges and garnish, if desired, with peeled orange wedges and whipped cream. 

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keeping peace with Irish Coffee

I had an enjoyable afternoon tea with fellow Create TV host and Ireland’s TV chef, cookbook author Rachael Allen of Ballymaloe. Rachel and I exchanged our foodie stories and the like beginnings in our culinary careers. She shared with me her simplistic approach to food. I can't agree more. We agree that most are learning from this approach; getting back to the roots of growing and eating locally grown foods. The thing is, this in nothing new in Ireland, in fact they never lost their connection to sustainability. 

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Chefs Rachael Allen and George Hirsch, Adair Manor, Adair Co. Limerick, Ireland However, one topic of discussion is as serious as rugby or politics. I asked just about every person I meet in Ireland which brand of tea they preferred better, Lyons or Barry's. Barry's seemed to hold the lead during our filming. But then upon departure at Irish Customs I was told I was bringing home the wrong brand. They preferred Lyons. I can't be swayed, Barry's fan here.

So in keeping peace let’s drink Irish Coffee, a warming beverage on a chilly evening. Served first to arriving passengers in County Limerick, what is now Shannon International Airport. Ideal served with a slice of Chocolate Torta from George Hirsch Lifestyle. Sláinte! 

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Irish Coffee

Makes one serving

chefgeorgehirsch.com | from George Hirsch Lifestyle

1 ounce Jameson Irish Whiskey

1/2 ounce Baileys Irish Cream

1/2 cup hot strong coffee

Lemon wedge

Sugar to coat glass

Whipped cream

Prepare a sugar-rimmed glass by rubbing a piece of lemon or orange around the rim of a large wine glass. Dip 1/4 inch of the rim of the glass into a plate of sugar, coating the edge.

Place a teaspoon in glass. The spoon will diffuse the heat when hot coffee is poured into the glass. 

Add whiskey and Baileys. Pour coffee into glass over spoon. Remove spoon. Top with a dollop of whipped cream.

Lá Fhéile Pádraig

That's Gaelic for Saint Patrick's Day or St. Paddy's. It's one of those days of the year where we all wear green, feel a wee bit Irish and spread good cheer. In honor of the irish holiday; Pionta Guinness, le do thoil. Sláinte! That's, a pint of Guinness please and cheers!

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Lamb Shanks an Potatoes

Makes four servings 

chefgeorgehirsch.com | George Hirsch Lifestyle

4 whole lamb shanks
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup carrots, chopped
1/4 cup onion, chopped
1/4 cup peas, frozen
1/4 cup celery, chopped
10 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup Balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup tomato sauce
2 cups chicken broth
1 Tablespoon rosemary
1 teaspoon thyme
2 cups mashed potatoes

Preheat large saucepan.

Add olive oil and brown meat on all sides.  Add onions, garlic, carrots, celery and cook until light brown.  

Add vinegar and reduce for two minutes.  Add tomato sauce, broth, rosemary and thyme.  Cover and cook meat for two hours at a gentle simmer.  

The lamb shanks are fully cooked when the meat becomes flaky and shrinks away from the bone. Add peas to the lamb shanks and vegetables. Cook for 5 minutes longer.  

Serve the cooked Lamb Shanks with sauce and vegetables on top of hot, steamy smashed potatoes, go all out with my Mousseline Potatoes!