Copying Michael

by Leila

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One of our great passions being fine dining over a bottle of wine, Bill and I were able to enjoy a fantastic dinner a few weeks back at Bottega in Napa Valley. We were blown away with a salad we ordered, it was like nothing we had ever tasted. As we enjoyed it bite by bite we attempted to pick out the ingredients and flavors and keep them on an iPhone note so I could later try to recreate this masterpiece. Sadly the note disappeared but thanks to the great power of Google, I found a version on line. Although not having all the ingredients at home, on a lazy Sunday afternoon, I improvised and we ended up with a pretty wonderful meal.

Shaved Brussel Sprout Salad 

1 lb of brussel sprouts
4 boiled eggs
1/4 cup almonds
olive oil
salt
parmesan reggiano cheese

Dressing
1 orange, cleaned well, sliced in chunks, seeds removed
1 lemon, cleaned well, sliced in chunks, seeds removed
1 scallion, chopped
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 - 1/3 cup olive oil
salt and pepper

Boil those eggs, I always do more than I need because I am so bad at this task. I find it incredibly hard to do successfully, so if you don’t know how. Goggle it… I’m not going to ruin your salad with my bad boiling here.

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Peel them and set in fridge to cool.

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Wash your sprouts, trim of ugly leaves and slice thin, a mandolin is super for this task.

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This is what you should end up with.

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Go ahead and get your almonds chopped up.

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Now run your eggs through a sieve. I did the whites and yolks separately for presentation sake, doing it altogether is just fine.

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And now you have this.

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Place the eggs and sprouts in the chiller till you’re ready to assemble your salad.

Add a tablespoon or so of very good olive oil to a small sauté pan.

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When it’s heated (not smoking!!!) add the almonds and a generous pinch of kosher salt. Stir and sauté till lightly toasted.

Mine got a little over done, so be careful.

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Time for the dressing. Due to my smoothie addiction and  a 27 year old blender, I received a pretty sweet appliance for Christmas. It worked amazing for this dressing, but your blender will do. If you have a Ninja, use it! An important note on this dressing, I did not have the citrus I needed so I changed it up a bit. It was amazing but a bit powerful and I strongly recommend going with the ingredients I’ve listed, not the limes.

Chop your citrus

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Chop the scallion

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Get them in your magic tool, whatever it may be.

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Add the OJ

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The good quality olive oil. We have a lovely lemon one on had, it worked well with this.

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Pinch of salt & some fresh ground pepper.

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 Yes it looks like this, skins on. Crazy I know but it works.

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Place it on your machine and blend away till silky smooth.

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Chill till you are ready to put this beauty together.

Add your almonds and eggs, leaving some out for garnish if you wish. Pour a heaping of dressing over it, about 1/2 cup and mix well. Add dressing till coated well but not crazy gross wet.

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I formed our’s because that’s how it was a Bottega and it looks pretty.

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Now put a plate on it and flip over.

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It comes out nicely mounded and I added a bit of the extra yolk because it’s so good and yellow is such a happy color.

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Grate that Parmesan right over the top. Parmesan crisps would even be better here, adding more crunchy texture.

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Leeky Pizza

TJ Pizza Dough
TJ Quattro Formaggio Shredded Cheese (about a cup)
TJ Diced Pancetta
Fresh Asparagus Spears
Olive Oil
Salt
Goat Cheese (1/4 - 1/2 cup)
Aged Balsamic

I choose to pair this unique salad with a quick and simple pizza. I always use Trader Joe’s Traditional Pizza Crust because it’s good, easy and fast. Follow the package instructions for resting and stretching and heat your oven & Pizza Stone way ahead of time (highly recommended if you’ve got one) to 500*

For this Pizza and it was really good. I sautéed a large leek in olive oil, let this set once it’s done, you don’t want to be putting super hot items on raw dough. Also cook up the pancetta ahead of time for same reason, render the fat and get a little brown on it.

Once my dough was stretched and leeks and pancetta were pretty cool I could assemble the pizza. Spread sautéed leeks with the olive oil they are in all over the flattened crust. Grab a large handful of the shredded cheese and spread evenly over leeks. Next your nicely browned pancetta. Top with cleaned and trimmed asparagus spears (coated in a little olive oil and salt) and finish with the goat cheese, covering with nice tasty chunks of it all over the pizza, however much you like, a little or a lot. Mine was drizzled with 25 year old balsamic. This is a very different product than a regular balsamic. The best substitute if you don’t have it on hand would be a balsamic reduction that you made from a regular good balsamic. Although this step is not vital and it’ll still be great without. It simply adds a wee extra sweet and acid.

Once your pizza is ready to put in the oven, turn your well heated oven (I usually heat an hour before) down to 450*

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Cook anywhere for 8 – 15 minutes. This really depends on your taste and oven, we like it super crispy but mine was actually a tiny bit too brown. Don’t undercook, you want your crust done.

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We decided to serve it with a perfect Rosé, one of our favorite wines. With Rosé, the lighter the better, look for very light pink or almost even with a peach type color. The flavor is clean and bright and easily couples with food. French are the best in our uneducated opinion.

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A simple & healthy meal, enjoyed well.

A beginning question for your warm dinner conversation: What do you think it is that makes Paris, France so enticing to us all?

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aimer profondément

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