I carry a small Moleskine notebook with me, into which I scribble ideas and inspirations for recipes to try at home. Years ago, Rob and I were enjoying dinner at Jean-Robert’s Bistro in Cincinnati (now just the Bistro), and I could have made a full meal out of the salad I ordered. It was crisp, flavorful and different. With each bite, I tried to dissect the ingredients and jotted notes in my Moleskine. The recipe that I created for this salad of endive, apple and cheese is a pretty good approximation.
endive salad with apples, cheese and walnuts
2 heads of Belgian endive
handful of whole walnuts
1 apple (your choice of variety)
2 to 3 ounces Swiss or Emmenthaler cheese
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. canola or vegetable oil
pinch of salt
pinch of sugar
fresh chives, snipped
Wash the endives, trim the stem end and remove any blemished outer leaves. Quarter endives lengthwise, then slice crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces. Core apple and cut into 1/2-inch pieces. Cube cheese similarly. Place in a bowl.
Toast a handful of walnuts in a dry skillet for about 5 to 7 minutes, until fragrant. Cool slightly, chop coarsely if whole and add to salad.
Whisk vinegar, oils, sugar and salt (or use a swirl mixer).
Toss salad ingredients with dressing to coat. Add chopped chives to your taste and several generous grinds of your pepper mill.
Note: What is a swirl mixer, you ask? It’s a graduated container with a tight-fitting lid; it holds about a cup. Simply pour in liquid ingredients, cover tightly and shake. It’s fantastic for making salad dressing or for cornstarch or flour and water slurries for thickening gravies and sauces. My grandmother has one (or several), and so does my mom. I have a plastic version; theirs are aluminum. From what I can tell, the Mirro company no longer makes them, which is a shame, but I did find a vintage aluminum swirl mixer on Etsy.