You’re My Sweet Apple Honey
For my last dish in the salad category, I wanted to make something colorful, tasty, and of course somewhat different. However, I knew I wasn’t going to top the first salad that I made as that was literally unbelievable, but I was willing to give it a shot. I wanted to stay on the Pinterest website because there were tons of options to choose from; all of which are so different from one another and unique. As I mentioned last time, Pinterest, to me, is very overwhelming because the photos and recipes are so jammed together it is hard to distinguish what recipe goes with what photo. However, as I made my way through the website my mom explained how I can determine what the most popular dishes are. Apparently, the more hearts the photo has the more popular in taste that it is. So obviously, what did I do? I looked through all the recipes, trying to find one that I not only liked but that also had a lot of ‘hearts’. I didn’t have to look to far because one salad really caught my eye; it also had 2513 hearts! The ingredients were different, well at least I have never heard of putting apples in a salad, and the colors were bright. I looked through the directions and ingredients to make sure it was manageable and once that box was checked off my mind was made up. I was ready to make Apple Cranberry Walnut Salad.
Truthfully, I have never heard of putting apples, cranberries or walnuts in a salad. Maybe that is a sign that I live in a box or that I really have no experience cooking with different flavors. Anyhow, I was ready to try this Autumn Salad. Before I started to make the salad, I assembled all the ingredients. Every time I found something that I needed I placed it on the counter so that I could be more organized. As I was making my way through the recipe list, I realized that I did not have three of the ingredients. Well, it was a good thing that did not start the cooking yet because than I would have a reoccurrence of week 1 where I had to literally pause my cooking and run to my cousin’s house.
Cooking rule #1: Make sure you have all the ingredients prior to cooking
Since I clearly was not prepared yet to start assembling the salad, I made a quick trip to the good ole Superstore to pick up a few necessary ingredients. As I was there I got a little distracted by the clothing department (Joe Fresh); however, I knew what I went there for, quickly grabbed and paid for what I needed and headed home.
Once I was home, I went through the recipe and directions again. Same as last time, I found the directions to be very straightforward and simple. As a result, I felt like I did not need to do any online research for this specific recipe. From the past few weeks, I have found that salads are pretty basic enough that I do not need to be conducting much online learning for this category. However, that does not mean that I won’t be doing any if I run into a problem during this recipe. I will obviously. As well, I am still trying to learn how to hold a kitchen knife. I am unfortunately still resorting to that “unacceptable” way, but I just find the correct way strange and uncomfortable. I have found that since week #1 I have had to constantly check and correct myself, probably four times, to hold the kitchen knife properly. I am getting better and it is coming. Lets see if I manage this time around.
Despite the fact that I felt like I did not need to do much online learning for this recipe, I was still intrigued by something. What are dried cranberries? Well this sounds unintelligent, as they are simply cranberries that have been dried out. But I was interested in knowing how this process occurs. Is there one? I wanted to find out. Every video and website that I found relatively had the same process on how to dry out fresh cranberries. This website in particular listed and showed through pictures a 6 step process on how to dry out cranberries. After gong through all the steps I realized that drying out cranberries is actually more complicated than I initially thought. Basically, after selecting your cranberries you place them in a pot of boiling water until the skin pops. This ‘popping’ is a sign that the berries are ready to be dried out. Spread the berries out on a baking sheet, sprinkle with sugar, and place them in the oven to dehydrate them. I didn’t realize that the cranberries needed to be placed in the oven to dry out. I simply thought that leaving them out on the counter would suffice, but apparently not. You learn something everyday I guess. As well, I did not realize that cranberries were considered a “super food”. They are rich in fiber, Vitamin E, Vitamin C, and have large amounts of antioxidants.
After learning about cranberries, I felt pretty relaxed and confident about this recipe. It said on the website that it should only take about 20 minutes to prepare and assemble. I already knew that cooking rule #1 was achieved so I just had to remind myself of cooking rule #2: always read the proportions and directions carefully (more than once).
Recipe: For salad
6 cups of baby spinach (any spring green mix will do just fine)
2 apples (you could do 1 red and 1 green or 2 red or 2 green)
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1 cup of apple juice
4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (white vinegar would do)
2 tablespoons honey
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
¼ cup oil
As I mentioned the directions are very brief, simple and quick.
Measure out 6 cups of the baby spinach. I did a little more than 6 cups because there wasn’t much left in the container so I just used it all up. Place the spinach in a bowl, wash thoroughly, and dry, then set aside. We have a salad spinner at my house so I placed the spinach in that to soak first before draining the water and spinning it dry.
Wash, core, and chop the apples (thin slices or 1 inch chucks). We have an apple corer and slicer all in one, which was very handy and saved a lot of time. So once the apple was divided into 8 pieces I took a knife and thinly chopped the apples further. As I was doing this I caught myself holding the knife incorrectly: I quickly adjusted, but I felt very unstable because it was a method that I was not used to. However, I tried to stick with it as much as I could.
Once the apples are sliced, measure out the walnuts, feta cheese and cranberries. Combine the spinach, apples, walnuts, feta cheese and cranberries together in a large bowl and toss together.
Whisk together all the dressing ingredients. Once the salad dressing was complete I tasted it to see if it needed anything extra. It tasted very much like apples, which was very different for a dressing, but not really a surprise considering it was made from apple juice and apple cider vinegar. It wasn’t too sweet either, which sort of shocked me considering the amount of honey that went into the dressing. I did however, put a tad more pepper into the dressing, which seemed to balance out the flavor more. Once the dressing was complete, I placed it into a mason jar. I did not want to drizzle over the salad just yet because we were not planning on eating for another hour and a half.
Once you are ready to eat, toss the dressing with the salad and simply enjoy.
The salad was not half bad! The crisp apples, dried cranberries, feta cheese and hearty walnuts all came together very nicely, but each stood out individually in texture and flavor. The dressing was something else. It really complimented the salad and its ingredients, which is not surprising considering the main star of the salad and dressing was the apples. I did find however, that the dressing, along with the apples in the salad, did add a lot of sweetness. Individually, they are great, but together it may have been too sweet for ones palette. However, my older sister said that it is supposed to be a sweet salad, so she didn’t mind it. As well, I may have added to much spinach. It seemed like there was twice the amount of spinach compared to everything else in the salad, but hey spinach is good for you so I can’t complain. My family said it was good to. They said it was fresh tasting, but they liked my first salad better, and to be honest, so do I. I found the flavors to be bolder in the first salad. However, this salad was something different and I am glad that I gave it a try.
Well ladies and gents, I am finished with the salad category and to be honest I am looking forward to moving on to something different. I found the salad category to be too easy and not challenging enough, but I did make some pretty tasty things no doubt. Next week I start soups! I love soup, especially during this time of year. Anyone have any recommendations on what I should cook for my first soup? I am open to suggestions.