Simple Salad

It was late summer in northern Wisconsin and the farmers market was loaded with lovely green peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes.  They would be a wonderful addition to a green salad, I thought, so I bought two of each and stopped to pick up the lettuce at the local supermarket.   Alas, there was no lettuce to be had, but there were some beautiful red onions.  Simple salad was born.

INGREDIENTS:

1 green pepper
1 red onion
1 cucumber
1 medium or 2 smaller tomatoes
1/2 cup pitted ripe olives
Ranch dressing
2 or three T Parmesan cheese.
Salt and pepper to taste

PROCEDURE:

Wash the vegetables thoroughly. Remove the top, seeds and membranes from the pepper. Cut the top and root off the onion and remove the outer skin. Peel the cucumber and cut the stem off the tomato. Chop the pepper and onion into pieces about 3/4 inch on each side. Cut the cucumber into quarters and remove seeds if you wish. Chop the quarters into pieces about 3/4 inch long. Do the same with the tomato. Slice the olives.

Toss the vegetables with enough ranch dressing to coat them lightly. Add the grated Parmesan cheese with about 1/4 teaspoon salt and some freshly ground black pepper. Mix well and adjust the seasoning,, adding a little more dressing or cheese if necessary.

Not only is this a really simple salad, but you can make it ahead of time and even enjoy it the next day as a tasty leftover. If you use medium-sized vegetables, the recipe will serve six generously.

Jerri’s Rhubarb Custard Pie

Once there was a restaurant in New Richmond that regulars called “the Polish palace” next to the Gem Theatre on Knowles Avenue. It opened about four in the morning when the owner walked in and left the door unlocked. In a few minutes you could buy a cup of fresh hot coffee and, when the grill was hot, get a breakfast cooked to order.

You could also meet a lot of New Richmond businessmen who stopped in for breakfast or a cup of coffee and a chance to catch up on the latest news before opening their doors for the day. It was the sort of place my father would have liked: Short on decor but long on good cooking.

It was there that I first had a piece of rhubarb custard pie.  One piece and I was hooked.  When I told my wife about it, she started looking and found a recipe that equals (or maybe exceeds) the best rhubarb custard pie I ever had, and it’s easy to make.  Here’s what you do.

INGREDIENTS:

Pie crust pastry for a 9 inch pie with a top lattice crust
4 cps fresh rhubarb
2 1/8 cups sugar
5 T flour
1/4 tsp. + dash ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp. salt
4 eggs
2 T butter
1/2 tsp. sugar for garnish

PROCEDURE:

Preheat the oven to 400º. Wash and trim the rhubarb and cut the stalks into one inch pieces. Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Beat the eggs until they are lemon colored and then beat them into the dry ingredients. Add the rhubarb pieces and stir to mix well. Line the pie plate with a bottom crust. Fill it with the mixture and dot with small pieces of the butter. Roll out the remaining dough, cut into half inch strips and top the pie with a lattice.

Bake at 400º for about forty minutes, then sprinkle a little sugar on the lattice and bake an additional ten to fifteen minutes. Check for doneness with a knife inserted near the center. When it comes out clean the pie is done.

This is the season for rhubarb. With the spring rains and cool temperatures, the plants are absolutely beautiful. Today I made my first rhubarb custard pie of the year. Try it, you may like it!