Before we get started, I want to take a moment to introduce myself. I’m the newest addition at John F. Blair, Publisher, and so thrilled to be involved with such a creative and talented team. Originally from Salt Lake City, Utah, I moved to Tampa, Florida, three years ago to study poetry as a graduate student. I then attended the Denver Publishing Institute where I met Carolyn Sakowski, President of John F. Blair. She has lots of Southern sass, and I instantly fell in love with the prospect of working for her. Now, as the new Sales and Marketing Intern, I’m learning a lot about the publishing industry and getting more familiar with our many great titles.
And as fall approaches (a season I haven’t experienced in a while), I’ve gotten really excited about John F. Blair’s new cookbook Chefs of the Mountains.
Because I’m new to North Carolina (only four weeks in) and have yet to explore the state’s great sights and sounds, Chefs of the Mountains is the perfect introduction. The book travels through North Carolina’s mountain towns, spotlighting great restaurants, chefs, and recipes. Whether a native or a newbie to North Carolina, readers can explore the best of the mountains right in their own kitchen. This weekend I experienced The Table at Crestwood in Boone, NC, through Chef Matthew Barlowe’s recipe for Port-Poached Pear Salad with Gorgonzola, Pecans, and Lemon Vinaigrette.
¼ cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon garlic, small dice
1 teaspoon shallots, small dice
1 teaspoon minced parsley
¾ cup canola oil
salt and pepper to taste
In a non-reactive bowl, mix lemon juice, garlic, shallots, and parsley together. While whisking mixture, slowly drizzle in canola oil until emulsified. Add salt and pepper. If prepared in advance, mixture may separate. If it does, just whisk until re-emulsified.
I’ve always been a big proponent of homemade salad dressing. The ingredients are few, the time minimal, but the payoff always big. Our local grocery store was out of shallots so I used green onions instead. Nonetheless, the lemon vinaigrette (seen on the right in a jar) had a great tangy flavor enhanced by garlic, parsley, and green onion.
2 cups port wine
2 cups water
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 sticks cinnamon
2 pears, cored, peeled, and quartered
Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and place on high heat until mixture comes to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook until pears become fork-tender. Remove from heat and chill pears in cooking liquid.
Poaching the pears in port wine was my favorite part of the recipe; the scent of cinnamon port filled my house. Like making the salad dressing, the process was easy: quartering the pears, combining all the ingredients in a saucepan, and letting them simmer until the smell was irresistible.
1 pound mesclun greens
4 tablespoons chopped pecans
4 tablespoons Gorgonzola cheese crumbles
Toss greens in vinaigrette and place them on plates. Top each salad with 1 tablespoon each of pecans and Gorgonzola crumbles. Strain pears from cooking liquid and place to the side on plates.
Once the pears cooled, I tossed the salad in lemon vinaigrette, added gorgonzola and blackberries, and devoured. Since I’m not a huge fan of nuts, I left out the pecans and was happy to find the salad was amazing without. The pear’s sweetness perfectly combined with the dressing’s tartness. The verdict: an excellent dinner salad that can be made ahead of time and consumed for days. I will definitely return to this recipe often!
John Batchelor will be signing books at the Chefs of the Mountains launch event tomorrow evening.
Thursday, October 4 at 7 p.m.
with Chef Nate Curtis of Rowland’s at Westglow
Barnes & Noble
Friendly Shopping Center
3102 Northline Avenue
Greensboro, NC 24708
John Batchelor is holding several events across North Carolina with chefs highlighted in the book. For more information, please visit our events page.