What is even better? She knows how to make a kick-ass salad and that, for me, is high praise. Her Wilted Romaine Salad with Roasted Pears and Hazelnuts was divine. I had to empower my own kitchen by making some substitutions but I think Chef Anne Burrell would approve my choices. Especially when the results tasted so damn good.
Preheat the oven to 350F. Peel, halve and core 2 Bosc pears. Place on a baking sheet and toss with olive oil. Roast 15 minutes, turn the pears, cook another 15 minutes.
Remove from oven and reserve.
The recipe calls for 1/4 cup of toasted hazelnuts but never mentions removing the skins. I put them in an oven-proof pot in with the pears for 10 minutes. When I removed them the skins were cracking. Then I put them in a colander while still hot, used a heat-proof glove and smooched them around until the skins came off. Then I put them on the stove in the same pot over medium heat until toasted.
I looked for champagne vinegar but could not find any so instead, I went with white wine vinegar. Chef Anne did not mention what kind of oil to use, just wrote “big fat finishing oil”. I got out my PC Black Label Almond Oil.
Combine 1 tsp Dijon mustard with 1/4 cup vinegar. Actually she also says to add the finishing oil too, does not say how much. Personally, I drizzled it in while I was whisking the Dijon and vinegar, to make an emulsion. I think I added 2 tbsp.
Quarter 2 hearts of romaine, leave stalk intact. Cut 1/2 small red onion into rings. Toss the romaine and the onions rings with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
Grill for 1 to 2 minutes until slightly charred and wilty.
The recipe calls for Taleggio cheese which is a melty cheese but not one I could find at my store. As a result I decided to pick a cheese I thought would work great with the pear and chose PC’s Fig Soft Unripened Goat’s Milk Cheese. No heating in the microwave required.
I chopped up the hazelnuts and got out the cheese to crumble on top for garnish.
I placed 2 romaine wedges on my plate and scattered onions on top. I cut the pears in long slices and leaned them on the romaine wedges. I added the cheese, drizzled the vinaigrette over my salad and sprinkled with hazelnuts.
Divine! Absolutely divine! The nuttiness of the hazelnuts with the sweetness of the pear… The sharp edge of the dressing with the sweet bite of the red onions? So delicious I had it twice in one day because, well, I wanted more and had to share with Reg.
I will say that eating it this particular way was a pain in the butt. Even with a sharp knife, cutting the romaine heart down and trying to assemble everything together was a chore but if you want to impress people, it really does look awesome. When I made this for Reg for dinner that night I cut everything down. He would not have even tried it because to him food should not be this much work.
Anne’s Burrell’s Own Your Kitchen kind of rocks, just like her. That said, this is not for new cooks at all. You really have to know your stuff (i.e. skinning and roasting hazelnuts on your own) to appreciate this book, otherwise it might drive you crazy. Some of the recipes are more basic but honestly, most of them are challenging and potentially intimidating. But! If you are ready to step it up and truly Own Your Kitchen and take on some challenges like Whole Roasted Fish in a Salt Crust, then this is the book for you.
Oh and don’t forget about the “Bacon!” If you watched my video talking about this cookbook you will already know that Anne is crazy about bacon. (I do a Chef Anne impression here.) So if bacon floats your foodie boat, you will find the recipes accessible.
If you love Anne, if you are a pretty accomplished home cook already and want to tackle some amazing foodie challenges, you will LOVE this cookbook! It is gorgeous, easy to ready, well laid out, not stingy on the photographs and for $29.99 U.S./34.95 Canadian, a perfect Christmas gift for yourself and maybe another serious foodie you know too. For those readers, I give this a four and a half out of five wooden spoons. I personally love it and am so happy to have it in my collection of cookbooks.