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The Kitchen Witch

July 1st, 2018

Instant-Pot Meatloaf Dinner

One thing I love about the Insta-Pot Pressure Cooker is that you can cook “comfort meals” in the middle of summer and not heat up your kitchen or your entire apartment, if you live in a small place like I do. My mother’s famous meatloaf was made in her old Sherman tank of a pressure cooker but my sister adapted the recipe to use with the Insta-Pot. I’ve made it several times now, and every time it just gets better. Of course I tweaked the recipe and I invite you to do the same! If you always put ketchup in your meatloaf mix, then throw some in! Or barbecue sauce or steak sauce or whatever. You know how meatloaf is! It’s an individual thing.

Here’s a scan of my mother’s recipe:

My mother’s pressure cooker was a Mirro-Matic and she used Crisco exclusively for frying. The handwriting at the bottom is my sister’s.

I didn’t have any dry bread so I put two pieces of bread into the toaster and dried them out lightly. I didn’t bother dampening them with water – they were still a little soft. I put the ground beef into a large bowl and broke the bread into small pieces into over it. I chopped the celery and onion into small pieces and added them.

Instead of regular salt, I used garlic salt and I quadrupled the amount of pepper. I also added chopped parsley and a tablespoon of steak sauce.

Form into two loaves and wrap in plastic wrap and chill for thirty minutes. This is to set the loaf form so it doesn’t fall apart when it is cooking.

Meanwhile, prep your potatoes and carrots. If your potatoes are small enough, keep them whole but otherwise, cut them in half. Cut the carrots on the bias. I generally don’t peel the skins off my potatoes or carrots but if you like the skins removed from your vegetables, then of course, do so.

Get out your Instant Pot and turn it on. You want to have it on the “Saute” app. Melt your cooking grease.

Very carefully set the meatloaves into the hot grease.

You want to brown the loaves on both sides. Turning them can be a bit of a challenge! One of my loaves broke in half as I was struggling to get it flipped over but hey – no big deal – it doesn’t change the way it tastes, right?

After your loaves are browned, add the potatoes and the carrots and the cup of water. Sometimes I add cut-up onions as well but I didn’t this time.

Then turn off the “Saute” app and put on the lid and seal it. Press the “Meat/Stew” app (that’s how it works on my machine – maybe yours is different) and then set the timer for 10. And then wait for the pressure cooker magic!

I love hearing the pressure build in the cooker and then the steam escaping from the vent. And watching the numbers descend, knowing that my meal is cooking and it’s going to be fabulous – in such a short time! And then releasing the steam and opening the lid and finding my cooked meal:

I put it onto a platter:

This is what my plate looked like:

Believe me, it was YUMMY GOOD. And even though it was a very hot day when I cooked this meal, my kitchen remained cool and comfortable. I can NOT recommend the Instant Pot enough. Every time I use it, I like it better than the time before. It was a birthday present but if I had bought it, I would say that it was the one of the best buys ever. I have to say, it’s one of my favorite birthday presents in the last five years – for sure.

If you don’t have an Instant Pot, just make up the meatloaf recipe and put it in a loaf pan and bake it at 350 degrees for about forty-five minutes to an hour, depending on your oven. This is a really good recipe. And like I said – tweak it, if you want to. I mean, I did! That’s the magic of meatloaf! You can make it totally your own.

Until next month, happy cooking! Brightest Blessings from Polly Applequeen.

***

About the Author:

Polly MacDavid lives in Buffalo, New York at the moment but that could easily change, since she is a gypsy at heart. Like a gypsy, she is attracted to the divinatory arts, as well as camp fires and dancing barefoot. She has three cats who all help her with her magic.

Her philosophy about religion and magic is that it must be thoroughly based in science and logic. She is Dianic Wiccan and she is solitary.

She blogs at silverapplequeen.wordpress.com. She writes about general life, politics and poetry. She is writing a novel about sex, drugs and recovery.

Mexican Wedding Cakes

When it comes to holiday cookies, Mexican Wedding Cakes are among my very favorites. I do have to admit – I only eat the ones that I make myself. The reason is this – I use my mother’s recipe and her recipe is the only one that has honey in it. Every other recipe for this little snowball of a cookie omits this important ingredient and the result is a dry, crumbly cookie. I know people who hate Mexican Wedding Cakes and refuse to eat them because they’re like eating “rolled up dust and nuts,” as one of my boyfriends once complained.

But these cookies will melt in your mouth and your guests will beg you for the recipe.

You only need seven ingredients: soft butter, honey, confectioner’s sugar, vanilla, flour, and chopped nuts.

 

Place the butter in a large bowl and cream it well.

 

Then you add the honey and you mix it well. I use an organic honey made from wild flowers that I bought at a farmer’s market and it smelled HEAVENLY.

After that, add the confectioner’s sugar. It’s a good idea – if you have the equipment – to sift the sugar before adding it to the creamed butter and honey mixture. It’ll make mixing it in and making a uniform creamed unit that much easier.

 

Don’t forget to add the vanilla! I forget it all the time and have to add it at the end.

Sift and add the flour. I add a little at a time to make it easier to mix in. It seems dry but if you mix it well, it should have the consistency of Scottish Short Bread.

You have to chop the nuts very fine. I used to have a food processor but I gave it to my son so I did it the old-fashioned way, with a cutting board and knife, which seems more witchy anyway. I prefer pecans but I used walnuts this time because I was on a short budget. Either one works fine.

After mixing in the nuts, put the dough into a container and chill it at least six hours. I usually put it in the fridge and go back to it the next day. There’s always something else I need to do.

Raw dough alert: this dough tastes AWESOME. If you are the kind of person who eats raw dough, it’s really easy to end up with half or less the amount of cookies you’re supposed to have. And there’s no eggs to worry about. So be warned.

When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375. Roll the cookies into little balls about the size of small walnuts. Depending on the size of your pan, you can bake twelve to fifteen cookies on each pan.

Bake them for ten to twelve minutes, depending on your oven. You want the bottoms to be lightly browned and the rest of the cookie to be golden. When you take the cookie tray out of the oven, let it set for a minute before taking the cookies off the pan or else they will crumble into yummy pieces of cookiness and you’ll be forced to eat them.

While they are still warm, roll them in a bowl of confectioner’s sugar. Again, be very careful – these are fragile cookies! I usually set a paper underneath the cooling rack to collect any sugar that falls off to make clean-up easier.

When they cool, roll them in confectioner’s once again. Sometimes I add a few sprinkles of red crystals so that some of the cookies have a more festive look. These cookies keep really well if you put them in an air-tight container.

So try this recipe! I guarantee – you will never go back to whatever Mexican Wedding Cake recipe you were using before! And please – have a wonderful Yule season! Brightest Blessings!

 

My Mother’s Recipe for Mexican Wedding Cakes

Cream together: 1 cup soft butter

2 tablespoons honey

½ cup sifted confectioner’s sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

Add: 2 ¼ cups flour

¼ teaspoon salt

Mix in: ¾ finely chopped walnuts or pecans

Chill dough at least 6 hours.

Preheat oven to 375. Roll dough into balls the size of small walnuts. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until bottoms are lightly brown & cookies are golden overall.

Let sit a minute after taking out of the oven. Roll in confectioner’s sugar and again when they have cooled. Makes 2 dozen cookies.

***

About the Author:

Polly MacDavid lives in Buffalo, New York at the moment but that could easily change, since she is a gypsy at heart. Like a gypsy, she is attracted to the divinatory arts, as well as camp fires and dancing barefoot. She has three cats who all help her with her magic.

Her philosophy about religion and magic is that it must be thoroughly based in science and logic. She is Dianic Wiccan and she is solitary.

She blogs at silverapplequeen.wordpress.com. She writes about general life, politics and poetry. She is writing a novel about sex, drugs and recovery.

5-Ingredient Insta Pot Rotisserie Chicken

My sister Sue bought me an Insta Pot Pressure Cooker last year for my birthday. I have to admit that until recently, I haven’t used it too much. In my last apartment, there wasn’t enough room for it on my counters – let’s face it, I had no counterspace whatsoever. And I first moved back to Buffalo, I was in the grip of a pretty strong depression that I am just coming out of. I haven’t felt much like cooking – or eating – since I live in a town famed for local food, I have been doing a lot of eating out.

But as the weather has gotten less conducive to getting out and about, I have used the Insta Pot a few times and I am beginning to learn how it works. One thing I do know – I have a lot to learn. Not only is this a pressure cooker but it’s a steamer, a slow-cooker, a deep-fryer and it even bakes cakes!

In the past few months, I have made my mother’s famous meatloaf dinner – the moistest meatloaf known to man, with potatoes and carrots, cooked in only ten minutes! I made a fifteen-minute chicken cacciatore. At Thanksgiving, I did the acorn squash in the Inst Pot – using the steam application – they were done in four minutes! To perfection. Honestly, I’ve never had acorn squash so deliciously good.

I am on literally dozens of recipe email lists – my inbox is constantly full. I can’t remember when “5-Ingredient Insta Pot Rotisserie Chicken” passed through my email but I know I thought that it sounded fabulous and the picture certainly looked appetizing. I saved it – I even printed it out – and of course, promptly forgot about it. And this very morning – as I live and breathe – I received a recipe for “Insta Pot Vegan Cabbage Detox Soup” from Allrecipes Daily Dish. I am definitely going to try that one! Who doesn’t want to drop a few pounds before the end of the winter months? Or just clean out their systems? That seems like a New Moon kind of thing, doesn’t it? Clean out all the toxins to do magic for the coming month? I love that idea!

Soon after the New Year, I was doing my annual reorganization of notebooks and files and closets and just about everything. Somewhat of a spring cleaning but it happens in the beginning of January. Here in Buffalo, we’re generally more or less snowed in during the winter months – this is a very hard winter, this year – so rather than sit around and watch movies on Netlix or Hulu and munch out, it’s more productive to clean out closets and attics and basements. So, during this process, I found the printed-out recipe of “5-Ingedient Insta Pot Rotisserie Chicken” that I had printed out months ago and I decided to make it. One of the supermarkets near me had roaster chickens on sale for 99 cents a pound, so that worked out perfectly.

As usual, I assembled the ingredients that I would need before I started. I counted six ingredients but maybe the author of the recipe wasn’t counting the chicken. I didn’t have onion salt so I used celery salt. Since it called for two teaspoons of either of them, if onion salt had been on my shelf, I probably would have used a teaspoon of both of them. I didn’t have garlic puree but I always have garlic powder. The recipe didn’t call for pepper but I could not imagine not using freshly ground black pepper. That’s a incredible exclusion, IMHO.

I took the chicken out of its packaging and put it in a mixing bowl. There were giblets, but I put them into a bag and set them into the freezer for future use. Then I whisked together the olive oil, the celery salt, paprika, garlic powder and freshly ground black pepper. It’s really thick. Almost a paste. I was thinking about thinning it out a little bit but I thought – this is the first time using this recipe, let’s see what happens. You know – like when you do a spell the first time. You follow the instructions exactly.

(Except that I didn’t follow them exactly – I added freshly ground pepper!)

After mixing this up, you pour this over the chicken. Since it was so thick, it didn’t really pour very well and I spread it over the entire chicken using my hands (yes, I was wearing gloves) to make sure the seasoning was evenly distributed.

I let it set for a little while so the seasonings could soak in. If I hadn’t been so hungry, I would have stuck it into the fridge for a half an hour to let it marinate. Yeah, I know – the recipe doesn’t say to do that but it just makes sense to me. I was also thinking about other seasonings you could use. Perhaps a mixture of ground parsley, oregano and rosemary with the garlic powder and onion/celery salt mix – or lemon-pepper with the garlic powder and onion salt – and certainly there has to be a way to do this barbecue-style. The possibilities are endless.

Meanwhile, I plugged in the Insta Pot and put a few tablespoons of olive oil into the basin and pressed the Saute app. When the display reads “Hot”, it’s ready. Carefully set the chicken into the hot oil, breast side down, and brown until it’s golden. This should take about five to seven minutes. Then flip the bird – sorry! I couldn’t resist! – and brown the other side. This shouldn’t take as long – five minutes tops.

Once the chicken is browned on both sides, add the chicken broth and cover. Seal the lid and twist the vent toward “sealing”. Set to Manual High Pressure for 25 Minutes.

This is the hard part! You hear the steam and you see it coming out of the vent. And you an hear the broth boiling inside of the pressure cooker. And you watch the numbers ticking off the front of the pot – it seems like they go so slowly! But think about it – twenty-five minutes for a fully roasted chicken isn’t any time at all! You can have pre-dinner drinks with your guests, set the table with your family or take a nice shower by yourself and relax while your dinner is cooking.

Turn the vent to “vent” and let the steam escape. Once it’s all gone, carefully open the Insta Pot. Lift the chicken out – I had to use two utensils to manage it – and set it on a platter. I admit that the picture in the recipe looked better but I was quite pleased.

I served mine with a baked potato and steamed broccoli.

The chicken was so tender, I could cut with my fork. It was really moist and super flavorful. I was disappointed in the skin (I admit it) but I rarely eat skin anymore so that’s not really a problem. But I would say that next time I would use a little more olive oil in the basin of the Insta Pot when I am sautéing, and leave the chicken in there a minute or two longer. Let it fully brown.

But hey! It was great for a first time and I’m real happy with the results! And there’s plenty leftover! I’ll be eating chicken for a few days for sure! Maybe make a chicken soup – or maybe a chicken pot pie – who knows? The possibilities are endless!

The recipe follows. If you don’t have an Insta Pot Pressure Cooker, there’s instructions for doing it in a regular slow cooker or in your oven.

5-Ingredient Insta Pot Rotisserie Chicken

1 5-lb whole chicken

3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for browning the chicken

2 teaspoons onion or celery salt

2 teaspoons paprika

1 tablespoon garlic puree or 1 ½ teaspoon garlic powder

1 cup chicken broth

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, onion or celery salt, paprika, and garlic. Pour over chicken.

  2. Drizzle a little olive oil into the Insta Pot, then press the Saute button. Brown the chicken (breast side down) until golden, about 5-7 minutes. Flip and brown 3-5 minutes more. Pour chicken broth into the Insta Pot. Cover, seal the lid, and twist the vent toward ‘sealing’. Set to Manual High Pressure for 25 minutes.

  3. Allow to depressurize naturally, about 15 minutes. Once the floating valve drops, twist the venting knob to allow any last pressure to escape. Remove the lid and transfer chicken to a serving platter.

  4. For Slow Cooker: Place in a slow cooker and cook on Low for 6-8 hours.

  5. For Oven: Bake at 250 degrees F (120 degrees C) for 5 hours or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 180 degrees F (82 degrees C).

References

http://www.kichme.com/recipes/5-ingredient-insta-pot-rotisserie-chicken

***

About the Author:

Polly MacDavid lives in Buffalo, New York at the moment but that could easily change, since she is a gypsy at heart. Like a gypsy, she is attracted to the divinatory arts, as well as camp fires and dancing barefoot. She has three cats who all help her with her magic.

Her philosophy about religion and magic is that it must be thoroughly based in science and logic. She is Dianic Wiccan and she is solitary.

She blogs at silverapplequeen.wordpress.com. She writes about general life, politics and poetry. She is writing a novel about sex, drugs and recovery.

Browned Butter Blondies

The first time I made “Blondies”, I was in fact making Chocolate Chip Cookies and I realized that I didn’t have enough time to bake four pans of twelve cookies on each pan, so I put the cookie dough into a lightly-greased 9×13 pan and a picnic tradition was born. This was many years ago – my son James was just a little guy. I have made many pans of “Blondies” – some with dark chocolate chips, some with white chocolate chips and macadamia nuts, some with crushed peanut M&M’s, some with walnuts or pecans or even cashews – the variations are endless.

So, I was pleasantly pleased to come across this recipe for Browned Butter Blondies at The Food Charlatan, a blog I discovered recently. I love browned butter. I love its nutty aroma and the added dimension it brings to food. I usually brown butter for my popcorn – it really rocks – especially if you add a touch of garlic salt to the butter before putting it on the popped corn.

If you don’t know how to brown butter, I suggest you go to YouTube and check out some of the tutorials on how to do it. It’s much easier once you’ve seen it done in front of you. I was lucky – I learned as a young girl from my mother. It’s quite like scalding milk – you have to keep the heat at medium and you have to keep stirring – the fun part when you’re a child. It’s very easy to burn butter – just like milk – but the technique, once you have it down, is also quite easy. Honestly, it’s like riding a bike. When you’re first learning, you fall off a lot and scrap your knees and elbows – and maybe you cry a little bit – but suddenly you just know how to do it. And then you always know how to do it.

The first thing I did was start the butter to melting.

As I slowly melted the butter, I got out the other ingredients that I needed: brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, flour, baking soda, salt, and the chocolate chips. I didn’t have any nuts in my pantry except for the almonds that I snack on each day and although I personally think that all cookies and bars of this type ought to have nuts in them, I decided that I didn’t want almonds in this batch. I also decided that I didn’t feel like running to the store to buy any other nuts!

After the butter is melted, immediately pour it into your mixing bowl so that it doesn’t burn sitting in the hot pan! I let it cool for a few minutes before adding the brown sugar.

Remember to pack the brown sugar! When you add it, mix it well! But wow! This is like candy. In fact, this makes me think of making homemade butterscotch candy with my mother when I was twelve or so. That was a lot of fun. A lot of work but a lot of fun.

Add the vanilla and mix well. And then the eggs. I put the eggs into a bowl first because I’ve had too many eggs break badly and pieces of shell fall into the batter – and this is exactly what happened – there was a bad break and I had to pick pieces of shell out of the egg in the bowl before beating them. But at least the pieces of shell weren’t in the batter. It’s always easier to get pieces of shell out of the egg than out of the batter.

And then you add your dry ingredients – the flour, the baking soda and the salt. If you have a sifter like I do, add them in that fashion, but if not, just measure them into a bowl, mix well, and then add them.

Then add the all-important chocolate chips!! Yummy!!

The recipe didn’t say to grease the pan but I did anyway.

My pan was slightly smaller than 9×13 and I had to bake them longer than the 23-27 minutes that the recipe said it would take for “gooey” bars but of course, I have an electric oven and every oven is different, even the gas ovens that I prefer. Your oven might bake these faster than mine or it might bake them slower. And in a 13×9 pan, they might have been done in that time frame. But I am not complaining.

THESE THINGS ARE AWESOME. They smelled so great that I couldn’t even wait for them to cool to cut into them and try them out and of course the first one fell apart completely but then I had the most fabulous idea of putting a little ice cream on the top of it – yeah really – all it needed was some hot fudge sauce and whipped cream! But damn! Was that ever good!

(picture blurry cuz I was in a hurry to chow down)

After the pan cooled, the bars came out in perfect fashion, as shown here:

And everyone who had one of these Browned Butter Blondies raved about how good they were! Believed me! They are fabulously, magically good!

So – make this recipe! I’m not even phrasing this as a suggestion – I’m telling you to do it. Add chocolate chips, nuts, oats, even dried cranberries would be good! This is kitchen witchery at its finest!

References

The Food Charlatanhttp://thefoodcharlatan.com/browned-butter-blondies/

***

About the Author:

Polly MacDavid lives in Buffalo, New York at the moment but that could easily change, since she is a gypsy at heart. Like a gypsy, she is attracted to the divinatory arts, as well as camp fires and dancing barefoot. She has three cats who all help her with her magic.

Her philosophy about religion and magic is that it must be thoroughly based in science and logic. She is Dianic Wiccan and she is solitary.

She blogs at silverapplequeen.wordpress.com. She writes about general life, politics and poetry. She is writing a novel about sex, drugs and recovery.

Corned Beef and Cabbage

This is not going to be an essay of whether to celebrate St. Patty’s Day or not. I know that many Pagans do not celebrate St. Patty’s day with the righteousness of Jehovah Witnesses not celebrating Christmases and almost every other holiday. I am not one of those people. When I was growing up Catholic in the 1960’s and 1970’s, Saint Patrick’s Day was a secular holiday that was celebrated in my public school – it didn’t have anything to do with the Catholic Church at all – nor did Valentine’s Day, for that matter – another thoroughly secular holiday, only celebrated in my public school.

I am the type of person who believes in celebrating everything. Living in Buffalo, New York, this is really the way it is here – everyone celebrates everything, regardless of religion or cultural background – we are a partying people. Google it – Buffalo rivals much larger cities New York, Boston and Chicago in its St. Patty’s day celebrations. We have two parades on two separate days in two separate neighborhoods and they are both well attended. It’s not all Christians out there wearing the green. Everyone’s Irish – no matter if their last name is Mueller or Paderewski or Brucato or Khun.

I long ago stopped partying as hearty as I could – it just doesn’t work for me anymore. But I still like to eat the traditional foods as much as I can. And whether you are cooking for St. Patty’s Day on the weekend of March 17, 2018 or you are having a group of people over for an Ostara ritual, a plate of corned beef and cabbage is always a springtime delight.

According to my Joy of Cooking, corned beef got its name in Anglo-Saxon England when beef was preserved with salt the size of a kernel of wheat – called “corn” – not the yellow corn that Americans know, that would be “maize” – and unknown to Europe at that that time, anyway. Note the similarity of the words “corn” and “kernel”. “Corning” was a type of preservation so that meat could be kept for months. Salting meats and fish was ancient – every culture has ways of doing this to preserve food through the lean months. The way it was done in the middle ages meant that the meat was much saltier than we would recognize it nowadays – probably much saltier than we would find palatable! Modern refrigeration and brining methods has changed this and the corned beefs and pastramis that we eat today are much less salt and much more flavor than their medieval ancestors.

Usually corned beef is on sale this time of year. Look for either a good-sized brisket or round – I like a brisket because it’s more traditional but a round generally has less fat and will cook down less dramatically. You can get them from a butcher but generally they are prepacked in heavy plastic, with the brine and a small pack of seasonings included.

You can cook it in a slow-cooker – it takes about six to eight hours. I looked up how to do it in the Insta-Pot pressure cooker – it would take 90 minutes for the meat and another 10 or so minutes for the potatoes, carrots and cabbage. But I opted to do it the old-fashioned way – on the stove-top, in a large pot. The package also has instructions on how to cook it.

You need:

a corned beef, between 3-5 pounds.

Enough cold water to cover the meat.

Contents of the seasoning packet.

4 to 6 small white or red potatoes, or larger ones, cut into quarters.

Several small white onions or a larger one, cut into wedges.

3 to 5 carrots, cut into pieces.

Half a cabbage, cut into wedges.

Take the corned beef out of the packing and rinse it off. Set it in the pot and cover with cold water. Add the seasoning packet. Put on the stove and bring to a boil.

You don’t have to do this, but I do: I add a stalk of celery, a carrot and a piece of onion to the water. Just for added flavor and general food magic.

When the water comes to a boil, turn it down to a simmer. You’ll notice that there’s “scum” on the top of the water, so take a spoon and skim it off and discard it.

Now – some recipes say to cover the meat and let it simmer for several hours – some say to leave it uncovered. I personally always cover my corn beef as it cooks. Once in a while, I take the cover off and poke it with a fork and turn it over. But generally, I leave it alone and go about other business.

After two or so hours, you will notice that the meat has shrunk quite a bit! The aroma of the corned beef spiced should be drifting through your kitchen and making you hungry for dinner. This is when you should remove the celery and carrot and onion that was added when you first started – if you did add them. If not, just add the potatoes, carrots and onion wedges.

Cover the pot again and after about a half-hour to forty-five minutes, add the cabbage wedges. These only take fifteen minutes to cook! Dinner is almost ready! Set the table!

My son was over the day I cooked this and I almost forgot to take a picture of a fixed plate of the finished meal! We were having such a good time together, as we always do. But here is it:

Naturally, that’s my small plate and not the large one I prepared for my son. I should have taken a picture of that plate but he had it almost finished before I had mine even served up!

Anyway, this is a meal that always satisfies. I usually take the leftovers and make corned-beef hash – just chop everything up and fry it all together with a little butter. But that’s if there is any leftovers! Usually the meat gets all eaten up and there’s just a few potatoes and carrots left and a wedge of cabbage. There’s never any complaints when I cook up this meal.

So try this one out. It’s wicked easy – it practically cooks itself! If that’s not magic, I don’t know what is! Brightest blessings this Ostara season!

References

Rombauer, Irma S. and Marion Rombauer Becker. Joy of Cooking. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc., 1975.

For Amazon Information Click Image

 

Dex and Ken. “How Do You ‘Corn’ Beef?” https://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/2153/how-do-you-corn-beef/

***

About the Author:

Polly MacDavid lives in Buffalo, New York at the moment but that could easily change, since she is a gypsy at heart. Like a gypsy, she is attracted to the divinatory arts, as well as camp fires and dancing barefoot. She has three cats who all help her with her magic.

Her philosophy about religion and magic is that it must be thoroughly based in science and logic. She is Dianic Wiccan and she is solitary.

She blogs at silverapplequeen.wordpress.com. She writes about general life, politics and poetry. She is writing a novel about sex, drugs and recovery.

Green Goddess Salad

April is the month that spring really gets into high gear, even here in Buffalo. April is the month of Venus, the goddess of love and with flowers beginning to bloom, it’s easy to see why. April is also the month of Earth day – April 22. I was ten years old the very first Earth Day. When I was a freshman in college, in my women’s studies classes, I read Silent Spring by Rachel Carson. If you haven’t read this book, you really should!

I have always celebrated Earth Day with a vegetarian meal, usually a Big Salad. Green Goddess Salad is a perfect Earth Day choice. It mixes the celebration of Venus with the celebration of the green earth.

This is one of my absolute favorite salads. I have made it dozens of times, although I haven’t made it in quite a long time. It’s a little on the expensive side but I think it’s worth it. My recipe is from a cookbook that I wish I knew the name of but unfortunately it was in that period of time where I copied recipes out of books I got from the library and never wrote down the name of the cookbook! Which makes it really difficult to reference now! Suffice it to say that I have been making this salad for thirty years and I have tweaked the recipe numerous times – enough that it’s MY recipe now.

I did a little research on the history of the Green Goddess Salad. It was created at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco in 1923 to honor the actor George Arliss, who was starring in the play, “The Green Goddess”, written by William Archer, which had been a big hit on Broadway and was now touring the United States. Arliss would star in two movies of that name, one made in 1923 and another one in 1930, for which he would receive an Oscar nomination. George Arliss was a big star of the stage and silent movies in the early twentieth-century but he is almost forgotten today. Likewise, both the play and the movie “The Green Goddess” have been lost in the mists of time. I read the synopsis of the screenplay and I can’t imagine “The Green Goddess” being popular in today’s culture – it’s a very silly romantic comedy about a plane wreck in a south-sea island and the need of a human sacrifice to a “Green Goddess” – all kinds of ridiculous antics before the British air corps save the day.

Unlike the play or the movie, Green Goddess Salad stayed popular throughout the 1940’s and 1950’s and into the 1960’s. There was a bottled version of the dressing but that disappeared in the 1970’s when ranch dressing became popular. Apparently, you can still buy it online but it’s $7.50 a bottle! I think it might be a tad cheaper to make it fresh! Not to mention much tastier!

If you Google “Green Goddess Salad”, you will find all kinds of salads. Some have chicken in them, some have shrimp, some have garbanzo beans. Some have “updated” versions of the salad dressing, omitting the mayonnaise and the sour cream and substituting avocado, making it a truly green dressing. Some have gotten rid of the creamy aspect of the dressing altogether – the Park Restaurant in San Francisco now serves a “Green Goddess Salad” with a dressing that is basically a vinaigrette made with tarragon wine vinegar and olive oil! Yes, the herbs are the same and there are anchovies in the mixture. But how can you have a “Green Goddess Salad” without a creamy salad dressing? Maybe I’m an old fart but that just doesn’t seem right to me!

The recipe I copied from the “mystery cookbook” was quite simple – but that was the way salads were thirty or forty years ago. Here is a scan of the recipe from MY cookbook, complete with typos:

Because I am not going to be serving six people, I too “updated” this salad for my own use. I am having it for my dinner, so naturally it’s going to be on the large size but it’ll be half the size of this recipe.

The first thing I did was make the dressing. I no longer own a blender or food processor, so this was a totally different process. In the old days, I would cut fresh parsley from my garden, coarsely chop the green onions, add everything else and blend. But I couldn’t figure out how to chop the green onions finely enough by hand for a salad dressing, so I decided to put them on the salad instead. I added garlic powder instead. And I had to use dried parsley instead of fresh.

Instead of mayonnaise and sour cream, I used plain Greek yogurt. I used a single-serve container, so it was a little more than half a cup. With that in mind, I used more or less half the amount of the rest of the ingredients. The beauty of making salad dressings is that you can fool around with the seasonings a bit – it’s not like baking a cake, where you have to be precise.

I didn’t use tarragon vinegar. It’s wicked expensive and I have to be honest – I really do not like the flavor of tarragon very much. So I used white wine vinegar instead. I did add a small amount of dried tarragon with the other herbs. When I tasted it, I decided that it needed a little more anchovy paste and a touch of sugar – I wasn’t going to add any sugar but I decided that it needed it. I also added a dash of salt.

This salad dressing needs to sit for the ingredients to fully “marry” and “get happy”, as Emeril would say. Put a cover on the bowl and set it in the refrigerator and do something else for at least fifteen minutes. Thirty minutes are better.

I arranged the greens on a large plate. I rarely eat endive because when I was a kid, I really hated it and now I don’t think about unless a specific recipe calls for it. But I had to admit that the pale curly leaves looked pretty on top of the torn pieces of romaine. I decided to add baby spinach to the mix – to make the salad greener.

The recipe calls for “two medium tomatoes” but I had a bunch of those little “Campari” tomatoes, so I took three of them and halved them and arranged them along the edge of the plate. Then I chopped the green onions that I had omitted from the salad dressing and I added them to the salad.

At this point, the recipe calls for “frozen artichoke hearts, cooked, drained & chilled” – if you want to do this, you can but I only did this the first time I made this recipe. After that, I bought canned artichoke hearts. They’re much easier to deal with and you can refrigerate the ones you don’t use for another salad on another day. As for the olives – I really wanted to get good Greek olives – Kalamata Olives would have been perfect – but the inner-city grocery store I went to didn’t have any. Honestly, I was amazed that they had anchovy paste!

I omitted the anchovies and added salad shrimp instead. This is what the salad looked like when I had it all assembled on the plate and before I put the dressing on it:

Ok – this was the problem. When I put the salad dressing on top of the salad, it flowed over the top like slow-moving lava. It wasn’t attractive at all. I quickly threw the salad into a large bowl and mixed it all together until everything was “coated” with the dressing – which was what the recipe said to do, after all. Then I rearranged the salad on the plate:

Now – that looks good enough to eat!

As I ate, I made a few mental notes. One – the salad dressing really works better if you have a blender. I think also that fresh parsley and basil are a must. Putting those fresh green herbs into the blender with the mayo/sour cream/yogurt and pulverizing the hell out of them gives the dressing the proper pale green color. My dressing – although it tasted fabulous! – was white with green flecks. It wasn’t what it was supposed to be. As with Spell-Work, sometimes improvising works and sometimes it doesn’t.

The other thing was substituting salad shrimp for anchovies. If you are serving friends who do NOT like anchovies, then by all means substitute shrimp or chicken or garbanzos or whatever else you wish. But I really missed the flavor and the texture of the anchovies. I can guarantee you that the next time I make this salad – and it will be quite soon – I will be putting anchovies on the greens.

However you make this salad, enjoy Earth Day! Praise to Venus, the Goddess of Love and Spring and all good things! Brightest Blessings!

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About the Author:

Polly MacDavid lives in Buffalo, New York at the moment but that could easily change, since she is a gypsy at heart. Like a gypsy, she is attracted to the divinatory arts, as well as camp fires and dancing barefoot. She has three cats who all help her with her magic.

Her philosophy about religion and magic is that it must be thoroughly based in science and logic. She is Dianic Wiccan and she is solitary.

She blogs at silverapplequeen.wordpress.com. She writes about general life, politics and poetry. She is writing a novel about sex, drugs and recovery.

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