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Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

You might think that the name 'Cooking in Cashmere' is meant in a metaphorical sense or even in a satirical sense, but you would be wrong, it's completely literal. I can't tell you the number of times my mother has berated me for not changing my clothes before cooking, and it should come as no surprise to you that I splashed balsamic dressing on my cashmere cardigan. At least it's charcoal grey right?

On to the salad. When trying to write down this recipe we realized that it's more of a template than a recipe, it changes to whatever you have on hand, or whatever you love. I adore goat cheese in a salad, my mother can't stand it, sometimes we make it with baby spinach or whatever is in that giant box of greens at Costo called "spring mix". We swap apple for pear, or when we are feeling really fancy and indulgent, candy the nuts.

It's really the dressing that is important, and there are somethings we just feel very strongly about. Use a 2:1 ratio of oil to vinegar and don't skimp on the salt. The flavor of the garlic is great, but don't leave the clove in the salad - no one wants that bite - especially my mom. We also don't get crazy about the balsamic vinegar. I've bought the $50 bottle from Whole Foods and while it's nice, I don't like feeling as though my vinegar is some precious commodity - the two pack of the Costco brand is great and lasts forever.

Mix it up, play around with the add-ins, and enjoy!


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Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

1 Head of Romain Lettuce (approx. 7 oz) (according to my kitchen scale)
1 Medium Apple (Fuji, Gala, Honeycrisp)
2-3 oz Crumbled Feta Cheese (I'd go 3, obviously)
1/4 Cup Crasins
1/8 Cup Coarsely Chopped Pecans

4 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons of Balsamic Vinegar (we love the Kirkland signature balsamic)
1/4 Teaspoon Kosher Salt (use less if using a finer crystal salt)
1 Small Clove of Garlic

  1. Peel garlic clove and either score with a knife, or just cut in half. Combine in a small bowl with oil, vinegar, and salt. Allow to sit while preparing the rest of the salad.
  2. Wash the lettuce, gently dry with a paper towel. Tear up the leaves into small pieces and place into the serving bowl.
  3. Peel, core, and slice the apple; crumble the feta; chop the nuts.
  4. Add all to the serving bowl along with the crasins.
  5. After the vinaigrette has had at least 10 minutes to sit, remove the garlic clove. Pour over salad, toss and serve.

Italian Tomato Sauce

When it comes to food traditions, what is better than Sunday Dinner? For us, that means a pot of sauce simmering on the stove, soon to be spooned over pasta - vermicelli or capellini if we have our way. This is the recipe of our family, and while we've come to realize that every Italian family likely has their own special recipe they would never dream of deviating from, we wanted to share ours all the same.

This will be the first of several Sunday Dinner recipes to share, and the base of many future recipes as well.

-Cindy & Lydia

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Italian Tomato Sauce

2 28 oz cans of whole Italian plum tomatoes (no puree, but with basil is okay)
3 oz Italian tomato paste
1/3 cup of olive oil
4 whole cloves of garlic
8-10 leaves of fresh basil or half a teaspoon dry
1 1/2 teaspoons salt or to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper or to taste

Special Equipment
Food Mill
Flame Tamer

  1. In a 4 quart sauce pot on low, heat olive oil. 
  2. Add the whole garlic cloves, and allow to slowly sauté until golden. If cloves are not completely submerged, I like to use the flame tamer to prop the pot up at an angle. Do not allow to brown. Approximately 10-15 minutes depending on the size of your cloves. 
  3. Place food mill over pot and turn heat up to medium. You want it to be hot enough that the tomatoes will sizzle a bit when you put them in.
  4. Run the tomatoes through the mill until nothing remains in the mill but skins and seeds.*
  5. Add in basil, paste, salt and pepper.
  6. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to simmer, and place flame tamer** under pot.
  7. Simmer with lid slightly ajar for 1 1/2  hours, stirring occasionally. Adjust seasonings to taste.

*If you don't have a food mill, run the tomatoes through the blender briefly. If you prefer a chunky sauce, put the tomatoes in a bowl first and crush with your hands.

**If you don't have a flame tamer, be diligent about the stirring, you don't want it to burn in the middle.

Chocolate Lemon Pie

Chocolate Lemon Pie for me, is one of those things that conjures a combination of memories, mostly of my fathers love for it. He was almost joyous in his cutting of the first piece, sometimes singing or whistling a little tune. I only found out in recent years how very special that pie was, and is still. It seems like it is only really made in Connecticut. I found it a few years back in a bakery and was so excited to taste it after not having it for so long. I have also learned that is is made at the Twin Pines Diner in East Haven. I had had it in my mind to make it as I knew the ingredients were simple and I would be able to recreate the recipe that was in my mind. So, when Lydia told me about Pie Day, this was the perfect time to give it a try. I think it came out delicious and my father would be very pleased.


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Chocolate Lemon Pie

Pie Filling
1 double pie crust (homemade or store bought)
1¼ cups sugar
2¼ tablespoons flour
3½ tablespoons cornstarch
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons powdered lemon pie filling
12 ounces water
2 fresh lemons, zested and juiced
5 egg yolks, lightly beaten
1 tbsp butter
Chocolate Ganache
¼ cup heavy cream
4oz ( by weight) semi sweet chocolate chips
1 tbsp corn syrup

  1. Mix sugar, flour, cornstarch, salt, pie filling and water in pan on low heat. When mixture thickens, add lemon juice, zest and egg yolks. Stirring constantly over medium heat, bring just barely to a boil. Mixture should be very thick.
  2. Remove from heat and sir in butter.
  3. While filling cools, roll out pie crusts and place bottom crust into a 9" pie pan.
  4. Add filling to pie, place top crust on, folding it under the bottom crust to seal.
  5. Bake on the middle rack of a 350° oven for 35 minutes, or until crust is golden.
  6. Prepare ganache by placing chocolate chips into a medium size bowl, then heat cream to barely a simmer. Pour over chocolate and allow to sit undisturbed for five minutes. Whisk to combine,  add cornstarch, and allow to cool.
  7. When pie has cooled, spread chocolate ganache over top.
  8. Keep refrigerated.

Recipe adapted from the New Haven Register