Yes, this photo has chocolate and a cookbook aaaaall in one. If I could, I'd give you pillows and slippers as well, but you'll have to come up with that part on your own. Tomorrow you'll be getting that chocolatey recipe to complete the menu. For now we're going to make this juicy classic "Basic Salad #1" as Liz calls it. You probably know it as a Caprese Salad.
|I improvised with the ingredients available at my local market. Just get as close as you can to the right ingredients. Also, don't be afraid to play with your food. Caprese's are easy to style, so go to town!|
Believe it or not, I'd never tried a Caprese until I was in my early twenties. I've had it many times since, and it never gets old. Even though the recipe rarely changes, not all are created equal, and that's because you need to choose your ingredients with care.Tomatoes are definitely not in season right now, so don't go grabbing the first ones in front of you. Look for deep red colors, and more important, for a garden-fresh scent. If you can't get romas or heirlooms that smell right, get the ones on the vine. Notice that this recipe calls for buffalo milk mozzarella. There really is a difference. Not that the more common cow's milk variety won't work well, but buffalo milk mozzarella is much creamier and has a stronger flavor. It's also about three times more expensive, but keep in mind that you have so few ingredients to this salad that it's still not likely to exceed the cost of many other salads you'd make.
Okay, enough outta me. Here's the recipe for the Valentine's Dinner Menu (Option #1) salad:
Basic Italian Salad #1 (Caprese Salad)
by Liz Edmunds, The Food Nanny
Time: 2 minutes
3 fresh roma tomatoes or heirloom tomatoes, chopped
2 2-inch balls Buffalo Mozzarella Cheese, cut up
Olive oil, to taste
Coarse salt, to taste
4 large, fresh basil leaves, torn
In a medium sized bowl, mix all the ingredients together.
Pretty great, right? Virtually impossible to mess up. And you can get creative with your ingredients, like I did, and dress it up if you want. It's very easy, I promise!
Now for a little intro to the cookbook and the rules of the Giveaway!
Last night I spoke with my friend, Dannii, who introduced me to Liz. She told me about her visits to Liz's home in the mountains, how Liz always greets her with such enthusiasm and immediately serves up goodies for her to try. Dannii really knows good food, so I pretty much take any of her food reviews to the bank. She described Liz's cooking as "fabulous", and said that everything she's eaten of hers has been exceptional. Even the most basic things like her chocolate cupcakes are ridiculously good. Actually, she said those cupcakes are the best she's ever eaten (and, yes, the recipe is in the book!) She said that there's the foodie world where people invent these kinds of crazy dishes that are fun and interesting, "and then there's just plain good food, and Liz has a gift for that." This is evident just from a quick glace at The Food Nanny Rescues Dinner Again! I don't know if you've ever taken home a cookbook to find that the facade is better than the substance, and you ultimately end up using only a few of its recipes. That's happened to me many, many times. But, I have to say that I've been so genuinely impressed with the content of this cookbook and I'm certain I will be trying at least half of what's in here, which, for me, is a huge percentage.
Since, what made Liz famous is her theme-night meal planning, she has the cookbook broken up into days of the week which each represent a different theme. Monday's are for comfort food.
Tuesdays are Italian night.
Wednesdays are for either fish, meatless meals, or breakfast.
Thursdays are Mexican nights, Fridays are for pizza (which look so freaking good, by the way,) Saturdays are for anything on the grill, and Sundays are all about traditional foods like roast turkey.
She also has special sections for sandwiches, breads, side dishes, and desserts.
We're giving away TWO copies! And you can enter up to THREE times to win one. Here's how:
- Your first is a freebee. Just enter a comment bellow telling us one of your favorite meal themes. Choose one of Liz's or your own. I'll go first- Soup, Salad, and Sandwich Night!
- You can leave a second comment/entry if you follow and/or "like" Eats and Beats on Facebook.
- The third comment/entry is for following and/or "liking" The Food Nanny on Facebook.
Good luck, and I'll see you tomorrow with some Chocolate Ganache Cake!