celebration salad

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The celebrations are over obviously.  But there will be more.  I also got engaged over the holiday and so I have that to celebrate still and I get to start practicing making a wedding cake.

I am calling this salad celebration salad because I am not sure what to call it really.  It is obviously olivier salad, which in Poland they call sałatka jarzynowa – which basically means vegetable salad.  It is a salad my family has pretty much every time there is a holiday and possibly birthday.  I am sure if you are Polish you might have a similar experience.  If you are not Polish you might think it is a rather weird salad.  I was eating it yesterday and someone asked me what was in it and I said “Vegetables with mayo, and pickle and egg, and apple”.  She is from Michigan and said that sounds like her potato salad, and I agree.  It is a bit like potato salad with potato not being the main component, but instead each bite has different layers of flavor.  By far not the most stylish looking salad, unless we are back in the 1950’s, but that is why I love this salad, it has a lot of charm to me.

(If you didn’t read the link to olivier salad, this was very interesting: The first version of olivier salad was apparently “grouse, veal tongue, caviar, lettuce, crayfish tails, capers, and smoked duck” – so I guess our version is like the poor man’s version!!!)

I have many good memories with this salad.  My dad is always the chopper of the vegetables, he doesn’t cook much but can be (like many men in the kitchen) very precise about his chopping, but my mother always gives him a hard time anyway.  And my brother, who doesn’t like many other traditional Polish dishes, loves this salad and often complains it doesn’t always taste the same, probably because there is no real recipe.

Alas, here is a recipe.  Maybe it’s not for us because once you know how to make it following a recipe is a bit of a pain.  But maybe the world wants to make this salad (hint: they do!).  There are so many versions of it, but this is how I like it, no meat or fish just simple.

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Celebration Salad

2 medium potatoes, peeled

2 medium carrots, peeled and ends cut off

1 medium parsnip, peeled and ends cut off

1/4 big celery root (or half a small one), peeled

4 eggs

1 green apple, peeled and diced

2 cups defrosted frozen peas

3 dill cucumbers in brine (pickles), diced

1 small leek, very thinly diced

1 1/4 cup mayo

1 tsp dried marjoram

2 tsp dijon mustard

2 tsp horshradish

2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

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-in a large pot place the potatoes, carrots, parsnip, celery root and eggs.  cover with water and bring to a boil.  once the water is boiling set a timer.  after 12 minutes takes out the eggs and place them in cold water.  after about 30 minutes take out the potato, parsnip and celery root.  if they are not soft yet leave a bit longer.  leave the carrot in for about 35 minutes.  keep checking because each vegetable is different.  remove when ready.

-let the vegetables and eggs cool. chop up the apple, pickles and leek into even diced pieces.  once the cooked vegetables have cooled to room temperature chop them up the same way.

-place all the ingredients in a big mixing bowl.  mix the mayo, mustard, horseradish, marjoram, salt and pepper in a small bowl until well combined.  mix the dressing with the vegetables thoroughly, adjusting seasoning as needed.

and celebrate!!

peace, jrad

teff carrot cake

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April 12th sounds like a great day to eat carrot cake, right?

It also sounds like a great day to have a birthday, right?

Well I must be lucky because I get both of those today, a birthday and a carrot cake!  (It is also Beverly Cleary’s birthday-she is 100! love her).  And the weather in New York has been gorgeous.  The only downfall is the streets are filled with a ridiculous amount of people again (where do they all come from!?), but at least my neck of the woods stays pretty chill – except for that new music venue that opened up down the block and that rapper who moved into the old firehouse…

I always think a birthday cake should be representative of the person whose birthday it is.  Also maybe where they are in their life?  Like when you were 10 and you would get a picture on the cake of your favorite hobby.  I guess as an adult it’s different (or not!) – and it’s more about flavor and texture.

I feel like a carrot cake right now.

I contemplated many versions of carrot cake but when I saw this one in Tartine All Day, as I was browsing cookbooks in a book store, I knew it was the one.  I loved that it used different flours (like teff flour – which is like a superhero flour) because I think it adds a lot more flavor.  I also liked her description of carrot cake being the birthday cake of choice for youngins in Switzerland and England, I thought how perfect for my 29th birthday, my last bit of childhood before I turn 30 next year.

So now that I have my cake it is time to think about one more year of my twenties.  Even though forty is the new thirty I still feel like turning thirty is a big deal.  So…

a list of 29 before I turn thirty (in no particular order):

  1. have nice hair (as in don’t cut my own hair anymore and learn how to style it)
  2. make my bed every morning
  3. understand physics
  4. floss everyday
  5. learn how to use excel spreadsheets (or rather re-learn)
  6. have a better music collection (help!)
  7. pray and meditate everyday
  8. keep in touch with people better
  9. make a perfect poached egg
  10. know the difference between whisky, scotch, bourbon and rye and while we are at it maybe red wine too – know more about red wine?
  11. memorize important phone numbers
  12. have better phone skills and probably overall better communication skills
  13. save for retirement (wow I can’t believe I just wrote that)
  14. master the sewing machine
  15. finish things that I start
  16. do more cardio
  17. figure out what I am doing with my life (AKA-somehow get parents to worry less about me)
  18. wear silk scarves around neck
  19. acquire and use airline miles
  20. read the news more
  21. know more in general
  22. get over fear of driving on the highway
  23. document life better
  24. know how to cook amazing things by heart
  25. be less serious because this list is stressing me out and a woman in my Pilates class called me out on being too serious, but I think she meant it in a good way.
  26. spell better (is it too late for that?)
  27. be stronger
  28. be wiser
  29. be kinder

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Confession.  I don’t remember the last time I made a layer cake, I am more of a pie, tart and flaky stuff kind-of girl.  This is a layer cake.  So I did my best, and hope to get better.  It tastes freakin awesome though!  Also I got a kitchen-aid for my birthday!

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It worked like a charm, I love it so much.  I feel a lot spoiled and a little bit more like an adult.

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recipe only slightly adapted from here

Teff Carrot Cake

cake:

1 cup sugar

1 cup coconut sugar (or more sugar but coconut tastes good if you can swing it)

3 large eggs

1/2 cup applesauce

1 ld carrots, peeled and grated

1 cup warmed coconut oil, just so it is liquid

juice of 1 lemon

1 1/4 cup teff flour

1/2 cup sweet rice flour

1/2 cup oat flour

2 tsp cinnamon

grated nutmeg or 1/4 tsp ground

1/4 tsp ground cardamom

2 tsp baking soda

3/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1 cup toasted and chopped pecans (or walnuts but we like pecans better)

frosting:

8 oz cream cheese, room temperature

6 tbsp butter, room temperature

3 cups confectioners sugar

juice 1 lemon

-pre-heat the oven to 350°F.  butter two 9-inch cake pans and put a circle of parchment paper in the bottom.  you can also just use one cake pan and do two rounds.

-beat the eggs and sugar with a hand mixer or a stand mixer until thick and light in color, a couple of minutes.  you want a ribbon of egg when you take the whisk out.  add the applesauce, carrots, coconut oil and lemon and mix well.

-in a separate bowl mix the flours, spices, baking soda and salt.  add the flour to the egg mixture with a wooden spoon or spatula.  fold in the coconut and pecans.

-pour half into each cake pan (or save half for next round).  bake about 35-40 minutes.  let the cakes cool about 10 minutes and then invert onto wire racks or plates.  let them cool completely before frosting.

-for frosting, mix butter and cream cheese first in a stand mixer or a hand mixer until well combined and then add confectioner’s sugar and lemon and mix until smooth.  spread frosting on one cake then place the other on top and spread all over.

enjoy!