Tag new year resolutions

New Year’s Resolution Recipe: Winter Salad of Arugula and Pear with Spiced Walnuts

Congratulations! We are nearing the end of the first week of the New Year! There are only about 51 more weeks of 2011; of suffering through this year’s resolutions (should we make it that long). Hopefully, you’ve been holding strong in your efforts to avoid those delicious maple bacon donuts teasingly calling your name. Trust me, it is SO much easier to stay on track when you aren’t hungry, bored with your food options, or feeling like your meal is lacking. Parties That Cook has just the thing to restore dwindling willpower: Winter Salad of Arugula and Pear with Spiced Walnuts. The crisp, fresh flavors in this salad are enough to slap your hand away from that cookie jar!

Winter Salad of Arugula and Pear with Spiced Walnuts
This recipe can also be found in our Soups, Salads & Pasta Recipe Section!

1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2/3 cup walnut halves, lightly toasted
4 cups canola oil


1 Tablespoon good quality balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 shallot clove, peeled and minced
1/2 teaspoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil


2 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto
2 ripe bosc pears, sliced in wedges lengthwise
1/2 pomegranate, seeded (optional)
3/4 pound arugula (can substitute watercress or spinach)

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Spice Walnuts: Mix the powdered sugar, cayenne, allspice, nutmeg and salt together.  Set aside. Bring a saucepan of water to a boil; add walnuts and boil 5 seconds only. Drain and immediately toss thoroughly in the sugar and spice mixture.

Fry Walnuts: Heat canola oil in a frying pan to 325°F. (If the oil gets too hot, the sugar coating will burn and fall off). Lift the nuts out of the sugar mixture with a skimmer and fry the nuts until golden and crisp, about 30 seconds.  Drain nuts on a cooling rack set over a cookie sheet.  (Do not use paper towels, as the nuts will stick.)  Between batches, skim the dark bits that float to the surface of the oil. When all nuts are fried, set aside until ready to assemble salads.

Create Vinaigrette: Mix the balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, shallot, sugar, salt and pepper in a small mixing bowl. Slowly pour in the oil while whisking vigorously to emulsify. Set aside until ready to assemble salads.

Crisp Prosciutto:
Separate the prosciutto and lay flat on a cooling rack over a sheet pan.  Bake until crisp, about 15 minutes.  Let cool on rack so the fat will drain.  Crumble into bite-size pieces.

Prepare Pear and Pomegranate: Slice the pears into thin wedges, lengthwise and set aside. Cut the pomegranate in half (take care to watch for the red juices – they stain).  Immerse the pomegranate in water.  Break up the pomegranate with your hand.  The membrane will float to the top.  Skim off the membrane and then pour the seeds and water through a strainer.  Measure 1/2 cup of seeds. Reserve the rest for another use.

Clean Salad Greens: Wash, spin dry and trim the greens if necessary.

Serve: Toss the pear slices in a bit of the vinaigrette and set aside.  Then toss the greens in the vinaigrette and arrange on plates.  Place the pears on top, sprinkle with pomegranate and garnish with the walnuts and prosciutto.

Serves 8

Recipe created by Parties That Cook® www.PartiesThatCook.com

Wonder What Parties That Cook Chefs Do In Their Spare Time?

The New Year brings hopes, dreams, and resolutions for a brighter future. One of
Parties That Cook’s resolutions for 2011: We will aim to give more insight into our team. We want to give you an opportunity to get to know PTC!

Since our last guest post was a hit, we thought it would be great to try again! Today’s guest blogger, Chef Jill Klein, is a wonderful lead chef for some of our San Francisco/Bay Area events! This past weekend, Jill and Susanne C. took on the task of hosting a pig roast. With a little help from their friends, they pulled off a complete success!

Susanne ordered a suckling pig from Golden Gate Meat Co. a day before they closed for the holidays. We took what they had: a 33lb teenager. The pig was brought in, being held over the shoulder like you hold a toddler, and we quickly named her “Piglet”. Neither Susanne nor I have a dirt backyard, so we decided it would have to be spit roasted –not buried. I called (PTC Chef) John Silva for a hand holding session on how to build a pit. He drew a picture, scanned it and emailed it to me. Off I went to Home Depot with a giddy, can-do feeling!

We Googled the trussing and roasting details. Susanne planned a menu of truffled mac n cheese with rendered duck fat brioche croutons, Asian slaw, cheddar cheese biscuits and maple bacon donuts. Brilliant! I still wanted banana cream pie. And there would be pig product in everything. We sure would be packing in one final feast before going back to “normal” on Monday.

Our slaw dressing was made with coriander, ginger, jalapenos and bacon drippings.

The banana cream pie custard was finished with bacon drippings.

Donuts in the making.

Susanne’s Maple Bacon Donuts!

We brined Piglet for two days and then began the truss on Sunday at 9:00am. We sewed the rebar (reinforcing bar) to the spine with bailing twine to prevent the spit from spinning without Piglet.
Side Note: I was talking pig with “a guy” at Four Barrel about the next day’s culinary adventure. He volunteered to make a couple of prongs to keep piglet from spinning on the spit. He said he would drop them off the next morning, and when I saw him my jaw dropped! He told me he got a little bit carried away… He fabricated an entire stainless steel rotisserie! I didn’t even know his name (Dennis); only his dog’s name (Mikey). The rotisserie is a beautiful piece of art. Though he delivered his gift a bit too late to implement, we will use it for the next pig roast!

At about 9:30am we built the fire

Then we stuffed Piglet and resumed trussing while the coals burned.
She went on at around 10:30am and cooked until 4:00pm.

Piglet was very good to us. We felt like pioneer women!
Learning Point: We ran between the pit and kitchen trying to get everything ready.
Next time someone just sits at the fire-pit, drinking wine and watching the burn.

Susanne named the party Piggin’ Out in 2011 to be hosted by “the fooduchie and thetalldrink”. We invited 40 people four days before the event, using John’s drawing as our invite.
Almost everyone showed up and pigged out!