Herb Salad with Egg Yolk Dressing & Bacon Fat Croutons

I love frisée salads with lardons, poached egg and perfectly crispy croutons. This recipe encapsulates all those French elements, plus some.

This salad is all about indulgence.

I bought a crazy good cheese from Whole Foods – Brebirousse D’Argental – and felt the need to share this discovery. It was the bright orange rind drew me in.

Goat_Cheese.JPG

Brebirousse D’Argental

If you want a punchy, funky cheese with a wow factor, this is your cheese. It’s flavorful in all the right ways. And, it liquefies in a matter of minutes after sitting at room temperature. I want that quality in my cheese, to be clear. Any fresh goat cheese would be wonderful in this recipe though, so stick with your favorite.

If you can get a fat slab of pork fat, which I couldn’t find, this is going to be that much better. I went with the highest-quality, thickest bacon I could find.

cheesecubes

Can we talk about bacon fat croutons?  Yes, French baguette croutons broiled in garlic, olive oil and sea salt are addictive. But these are next-level good. And take a lot less time, if you’re already going through the hassle of browning bacon.

If you’re anything like me, it takes time for me to establish new cooking habits – especially extra steps that seem like added work, but I know are worth the payoff. I always thank my past self for the effort.

Think – re-using frying oil, saving Reggiano rinds, grinding your own spices, regularly preparing chicken and beef stock, and flavoring batches of olive oil. In the case of bacon fat, I’ve started to save a jar of it in the fridge, leftover from previous frying sessions. I use it instead of butter in dishes that are begging for a bacon boost. A spoonful packs a whopping punch.

The key to this salad though, is the combination of the runny egg yolk and the basic vinaigrette. The simplicity of the dressing emphasizes the in-your-face richness of the other ingredients in this salad – the heavy goat cheese, crispy bacon fat, and croutons browned in said bacon fat.

If you aren’t enthused about eating raw scallion stalk, chives would work just as well here. But I have a feeling there are others out there who like raw scallion flavor as much as I do. Slightly less harsh than biting into fresh onion, and much more herbaceous. Plus, it adds to the greenery of the salad.

What are some of your favorite French bistro salads?

I N G R E D I E N T S

Serves 2 as a main course.

  • 4 cups mustard greens or frisee lettuce, roughly chopped
  • 2 scallion stalks, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup curly parsley, roughly chopped
  • 6 oz. goat cheese, of your choosing, crumbled or cubed
  • 1 medium heirloom tomato, cut into wedges
  • 2 cups French baguette, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 endive, leaves removed
  • 1 / 2 lb. bacon or lardons, cut into small cubes
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • Pinch of pepper
  • Pinch of sugar
  • Salt, as needed

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Whisk the Dijon mustard, red wine vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper and sugar in a small bowl. Set aside.
  2. Heat the bacon in a skillet. Brown until crispy. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  3. While still on low heat, add the cubed bread to the pan with the bacon drippings. Toast the bread, tossing often, until crispy and golden brown. Remove the croutons from the heat, sprinkle liberally with salt, and set aside.
  4. Prepare the salad – in a large bowl, combine the mustard greens, parsley, scallions, goat cheese, heirloom tomato, endive, croutons and lardons. Toss with the dressing.
  5. Plate the salads, topping each with an egg yolk. Sprinkle the salads with salt, and serve immediately.

 

Sissy’s Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes

This is a ridiculous recipe – ridiculous because goat cheese doesn’t belong in mashed potatoes, right?

Wrong.

They are symbiotic – the goat cheese adds a sour tang that rips through the mellowness of boiled potatoes. The texture of the chevre does a great job of lightening the texture of the buttery Yukon golds. And with enough mortar-&-pestled black peppercorns, you have that spicy, cracked pepper bite to break through the richness that is butter, heavy cream and cheese.

My little sister loves goat cheese. When we were living together, it was pretty easy to know what she needed from the grocery store, without me needing to ask. Goat cheese, Near East Rice Pilaf, red pepper flakes and olive oil. Goat cheese reigns supreme in her food world.

So when it came Thanksgiving time, I knew this would hit home for her. There was no need to hold back on the amount of goat cheese in this, because there’s no such thing in her mind.

I know from experience that not everyone loves the taste of goat cheese – I’d recommend making two batches if you’re serving picky kiddos or adults. Which is easy enough because these potatoes still fold in the musts – heavy cream and butter.

My mom makes her mashed potatoes with chicken stock – the added poultry flavor always reminds me of holidays, and it’d probably go great in this recipe as well. Just add a few splashes.

But I wouldn’t limit this dish to the holidays. It’s so &*^%ing good. It’s one of those recipes, like a song that you can’t get out of your head, that will ruminate in your mind for a while after you eat it. I started imagining all the different cheeses I could add to potatoes. Gorgonzola mashed potatoes? Velveeta’d mashed potatoes? The possibilities are only limited by your ability to list cheese.

One technique I’d recommend – at all costs, when you can, beat the mashed potatoes with a hand mixer. The handy dandy smasher works perfectly well in a pinch. But take the time to dirty up the beater for your potatoes. It makes them silky in a way hand mashing cannot, and that’s the texture you deserve. Restaurant-quality silkiness.

Happy mashed potato-eating season! What are some of your favorite mashed potato recipes? As always, I’m all ears. 😊

I N G R E D I E N T S

Serves 4 to 6.

  • 1 5 lb. bag Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters
  • 12 oz. chevre, plus extra for garnish
  • 1 1 / 2 sticks butter, room temperature, salted or unsalted
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 4 garlic cloves, grated
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 4 tablespoons black peppercorns, crushed with a mortar & pestle (alternatively, you can place the peppercorns in a Ziploc bag, smashing them with a mallet or rolling pin), plus extra for garnish
  • 1 cup of the reserved cooking liquid from the potatoes

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Boil the peeled, quartered potatoes for 20 minutes or so in salted water until fork tender. Reserve cooking liquid for later before draining. Strain potatoes into a colander, covering with a dish towel for 15 minutes to allow the potatoes to steam.
  2. Return the potatoes to the pot. Add the butter, goat cheese, heavy cream, garlic, salt and crushed black pepper.
  3. Beat the potatoes with a hand mixer on high speed, being careful that the potatoes and liquid don’t splash out of the pot. If needed to reach a silkier consistency, add some of the reserved cooking liquid.
  4. Serve the mashed potatoes hot, with the goat cheese crumbles and cracked black pepper sprinkled on top for garnish, if desired.

 

Cobb Salad Steak Sandwich

Cobb salads – where would we be without them? Besides Caesar salads, they are probably the salad I order most often if I’m in a green-eating mood at a restaurant.

Cobb salads are an inherently American dish. They are known to have originated in the 1920s when a restaurant owner, Robert Howard Cobb, waited until the end of a shift to pull together whatever leftover toppings he had on hand to make a filling salad. I can only imagine how good this must have tasted in a late night, post-booze binge.

You have your bacon and eggs – almost a nod to breakfast. Blue cheese, avocado and chicken are all protein-heavy and wholesome. And I believe there’s some magical flavor combination that’s achieved when you have the red onion, blue cheese, bacon and egg flavor all in one bite. These flavors go so well together – super harmonious.

I couldn’t remember ever having eaten these Cobb salad elements in anything other than a salad format. I’ve repeatedly fantasized about bringing Cobb salad deviled eggs to life, knowing that post is an imminent Hankerings recipe. And I love a good steak sandwich, so I knew I was headed in the right direction with this one.

I will always order extra dressing with any salad, and Cobb salads are no exception. It’s always blue cheese dressing on my salads. But here I went with a Dijon mayo. It goes great with the rare steak, and you’re getting the blue cheese crumbles on top, so we’re still checking the blue cheese box.

Speaking of salads-turned-sandwiches, if you haven’t tried it already, Ina Garten makes a mind-blowing Caesar Club Sandwich that not only tastes just like a really good Caesar salad enclosed in a giant crouton – it also comes with pancetta – which adds some serious crisp and melty, greasy pork flavor. I cannot emphasize enough how good that sandwich tastes, and I encourage you to try it when the mood hits you.

Here’s to reinventing our favorite salads – the only limit is our imagination! 😊

I N G R E D I E N T S

Serves 2.

  • 1 filet mignon
  • 6 strips bacon, cooked until crispy
  • 1 / 4 small red onion, sliced thin
  • 1 cup romaine lettuce, cut to a chiffonade
  • 1 / 2 cup blue cheese crumbles, of your choosing
  • 1 small red heirloom tomato, sliced thin
  • 1 / 2 avocado, pit removed, sliced thin lengthwise
  • 2 airy rolls, sliced lengthwise
  • 1 / 4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 / 4 cup Dijon mustard
  • Salt, as needed
  • Pepper, as needed
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Preheat the oven to 400*.
  2. Heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a cast iron skillet. Dry the filet with a paper towel, and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper on all sides.
  3. Put the filet in the pan, and sear on medium-high heat for 2 to 3 minutes on all sides, until the meat is seared and crispy.
  4. Put the filet in the oven, roasting for 6 to 8 minutes, depending on size, until the meat thermometer reads 145* for rare.
  5. Remove the steak, and allow to sit for 5 to 10 minutes. Once slightly cooled, slice the filet against the grain.
  6. Combine the mayonnaise and Dijon mustard, and set aside.
  7. To prepare the sandwiches, spread 2 tablespoons of the Dijon mayo mixture on both sides of the roll. Layer half the steak, romaine, tomato, red onion, avocado, blue cheese crumbles, and bacon. Layer the second sandwich. Cut sandwiches in half, and serve.

Filet Mignon with Goat Cheese Whipped Cream

Goat cheese whipped cream sound a little too funky for you? Don’t let the name fool you – it is utterly delicious.

I had my doubts that the texture would mesh well – wrong, it was perfect. And even quicker and easier than making a compote butter. I added salt and pepper, the only other ingredients I could justify. I really wanted the goat cheese flavor to shine through.

whipped_cream

It got me thinking about other savory whipped cream toppings. It’s easy to forget that butter is churned cream – and if I were to keep beating for a couple more minutes, I’d have goat cheese butter. Which wouldn’t be the worst thing to happen in my kitchen.

I thought I’d list some ideas that come to mind for a whipped cream steak topper, or another broiled meat, for the adventurous eater types. My gut is telling me my next whipped cream creation will be a brie version.

An added disclaimer – you’re required to let me know how these taste, in the event you try one. 😊

  • Boursin cheese whipped cream
  • Red wine whipped cream
  • Roasted garlic whipped cream
  • Brie cheese whipped cream
  • Smoked salmon whipped cream
  • Black peppercorn whipped cream
  • Shallot whipped cream
  • Tarragon whipped cream
  • Anchovy whipped cream
  • Truffled whipped cream
  • Cream cheese whipped cream
  • Blue cheese whipped cream
  • Harissa whipped cream
  • Tabasco whipped cream

I N G R E D I E N T S

Serves 2.

F o r  t h e  G o a t  C h e e s e  W h i p p e d  C r e a m

  • 4 oz. chevre
  • 1 / 2 cup heavy cream
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of pepper

F o r  t h e  F i l e t  M i g n o n

  • 2 filet mignon
  • 4 tablespoons butter, salted or unsalted
  • Salt, as needed
  • Pepper, as needed
  • Olive oil, as needed

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Preheat the oven to 400*.
  2. Put all the whipped cream ingredients in a bowl, and beat on medium speed with a hand mixer until it reaches whipped cream consistency – about 30 seconds to a minute.
  3. Pat the filets dry, and sprinkle all sides liberally with salt and pepper.
  4. Coat an oven-safe skillet with olive oil, and melt 2 tablespoons of butter on high heat. Sear the steaks for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, then sear the edges of the steak for 1 minute each.
  5. Place 1 tablespoon of butter on the top of each filet, and place the steaks in the oven. Broil for 8 minutes for rare, checking with a meat thermometer until the steaks reach preferred doneness, if desired.
  6. Serve the steaks hot, topped with the goat cheese whipped cream.

Grilled Goat Cheese Boats

The story behind this recipe can be found in Hankerings’ latest post, Country Grilling in Lexington, Virginia. I hope you enjoy!

I N G R E D I E N T S

Serves 2 to 4, depending on appetites.

  • 1 / 2 baguette (sliced lengthwise), bread removed from center to form a well
  • 1 / 2 head garlic, skins removed, minced
  • 1 / 3 cup olive oil
  • 1 / 2 lb. non-crumbly, fresh goat cheese, of your choosing
  • Parsley, torn, for garnish

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Preheat a grill to medium-low heat (approximately 250 to 300*).
  2. Heat the olive oil in a pan, and add the garlic. Saute on low heat until the oil is infused with the garlic, about 3 to 4 minutes. Make sure the garlic does not burn.
  3. With a brush, spread the garlic oil across all of the bread, being sure to coat the sides.
  4. Cut the goat cheese into slices or crumble into large pieces, layering inside the bread so that when it melts, the cheese will ooze into the center of the well.
  5. Create a makeshift holding dish for the baguette using aluminum foil. Place the baguette on the grill, enclosing the baguette so the heat from the grill melts the cheese inside. Open the foil to check on the cheese every 5 or so minutes. When you see the cheese has melted, remove the baguette from the foil, and plate it. Sprinkle with fresh parsley, cut into serving pieces, and serve hot.