Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Nancy's "La Scala" salad + #book #giveaway of French Bistro Mystery from author @DarylWoodGerber

A Deadly Éclair giveaway below!

From Daryl:

This is an intensive recipe because there are so many ingredients and so many steps, but I promise it is worth it.

So...when I moved to Los Angeles to become an actress, I worked in Beverly Hills at a thriving restaurant as a waitress and then also as a bookkeeper and then also as a short order cook. [Triple threat!] I kid you not. I was asked to cook for the early crowd.  I had to cook liver and onions I can't tell you how many times! Oy! I "chatted" about it on our last Around the Kitchen Table chat. [You know we do those the first Monday of every month, right?]

Anyway, while working at the restaurant, I met an attorney who gave me a job as a legal secretary.  I was a killer typist and I took shorthand during high school. Who knew that would  come in handy? It did. I still use it when I make notes in my manuscripts.

While I worked at the law offices, I loved walking around Beverly Hills during lunch and imagining myself dining in all the fancy restaurants. I couldn't afford them, of course, but I dreamed. When I finally won a few acting jobs that enhanced my income (as did my friend),  we decided we had to go to La Scala and have the chopped salad. It was renowned. For a very good reason.

Well, I just discovered the recipe in Food and Wine Best of the Best, Vol 15. Yes, I'm still planning to go through all my cookbooks and make the recipes that call to me. This one, by "Nancy", is based on the La Scala favorite. I love it, but like I said, it required a lot of steps. I hope you love it, too.

FYI, Nancy recommended making "ceci" from scratch.  Ceci is dressed up chickpeas, and to be honest, I couldn't really tell the difference from the cooked to regular canned (bad me), so if I were you, I'd used canned chickpeas and cut out one HUGE step.   But maybe you'll add more garlic than I did.   :)

Nancy’s Chopped Salad

Serves 4 as a starter or 2 as a main course

Half of a small red onion (halved through the core)
1 small head iceberg lettuce
1 medium head radicchio
1 pint small sweet cherry tomatoes, halved through the stem ends
Kosher salt
1 ½ cups cooked Ceci (recipe follows)
4 ounces provolone, sliced ½ inch thick and cut into ¼-inch-wide strips
4 ounces Genoa salami, sliced 1/8 inch thick and cut into ¼-inch-wide strips
5 peperoncini, stems cut off and discarded, thinly sliced (about ¼ cup)
½ cup Oregano Vinaigrette (recipe follows) plus more to taste
Juice of ½ lemon, plus more to taste
Dried oregano for sprinkling (preferably Sicilian oregano on the branch) * honestly? I did not!

Separate the layers of the onion, stack two or three layers on top and slice lengthwise 1/16 inch thick. Repeat with the remaining onion layers. Place the slices in a small bow of ice water and set them aside while you prepare the rest.  Drain  the onion and pat dry with paper towels before adding to the salad.

Cut the iceberg in half through the core. Remove and discard the outer leaves and remove and discard the core. Separate the lettuce leaves, and slice them lengthwise 1/4 inch thick. Repeat with the remaining leaves. Slice the radicchio the same way.

Combine the lettuce, radicchio, tomatoes, Ceci, provolone, salami, peperoncini, and onions in a large, wide bowl. Season with salt and toss to combine. Drizzle ½ cup of the vinaigrette and squeeze the lemon juice over the salad, then toss gently to coat the salad. Taste for seasoning and add more salt, lemon juice, or vinaigrette if desired.  (I liked more lemon).  Pile the salad on a large platter or divide it among plates. Sprinkle the dried oregano on top, if desired.


Per Nancy, this is a way to cook chickpeas and make them very flavorful. She made them from scratch but said I could use canned chickpeas and cut the cooking time. So that's what I did.

Here is her recipe:

1 cup chickpeas (ceci) soaked overnight (put beans in pan and cover with water that rises 2 inches above)
2 tablespoons kosher salt (I omitted since I used canned chickpeas)
½ cup extra virgin olive oil (this seemed like too much so I cut down to ¼ cup)
1 large carrot, peeled and halved
1 celery rib, halved
1 dried arbol chile (I didn’t have and didn’t miss)
16 garlic cloves (Honestly? No. I used freeze-dried garlic, about 1 tablespoon – plenty)
½ yellow onion, halved

If you decide to use real beans, make sure you cook them long enough so they became soft and creamy (like canned beans).

Drain the chickpeas and put them in a medium saucepan with enough water to cover them by 1 ½ inches, salt, and olive oil. Place the carrot, celery, chile, garlic, and onion in a doubled piece of cheesecloth and tie it into a closed bundle. Add the bundle to the pot with the chickpeas and bring the water to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer the chickpeas until they are very tender and creamy, about 2 hours, adding more water to the pot as needed but never covering them by more than and inch to an inch and a half.    [*I used canned beans and did the bundle of veggies – and cooked for 30 minutes.]

Turn off the heat and allow the chickpeas to cool in the liquid. Remove and discard the cheesecloth bundle. Drain the chickpeas. To use later, transfer the chickpeas and the liquid in an airtight container and refrigerate until you are ready to use. Bring the chickpeas to room temperature and drain them before using.

OREGANO VINAIGRETTE – delicious and can be used on lots of salads!

2 ½ tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, more to taste (I liked more)
2 garlic cloves, smashed (I used dehydrated, 2 teaspoons)
½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 ½ cups extra-virgin olive oil

Combine the vinegar, oregano, lemon juice, smashed garlic, salt and pepper in a medium bowl and whisk to combine the ingredients. Set the vinaigrette aside to rest for 5 minutes to marinate the oregano. Add the olive oil in a slow, thin stream, whisking constantly to combine. Taste for seasoning and add more salt, pepper, or lemon juice, if desired.  Use the vinaigrette or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate it for up to three days. Bring to room temperature and whisk again before using.


I'm gearing up for the release of the trade paperback version of A DEADLY ÉCLAIR.  Raise your hand. Did any of you buy the hardcover version? Lately it's been under $16. I don't care one way or another, but I'd love to know. Hardcover seems to be for libraries and collectors.   Anyway, here's your chance to tell me...or tell me if you at least told a friend about the series.  One commenter will win a choice of hardcover, trade paperback, or e-book of A DEADLY ECLAIR.  Winner announced Saturday.

P.S.  The e-book is on sale right  now until the release of the trade paperback for $1.99 at most US stores.  $1.20 on Amazon.

Savor the mystery!

Friend Daryl and Avery on Facebook
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Plus check out my website.

A SOUFFLÉ OF SUSPICION, the 2nd French Bistro Mystery, coming July 10
Can Mimi prove her chef innocent before the chef gets dusted?
Click here to order.

PRESSING THE ISSUE, the 6th Cookbook Nook Mystery.

The annual Renaissance Fair serves up a helping of crafty courtiers, 
damsels in distress, and medieval murder . . .
Click here to order.

A DEADLY ÉCLAIR, the 1st in the French Bistro Mysteries, coming in trade paperback June 12.
Can Mimi clear her name before the killer turns up the heat?
Click here to order.

FOR CHEDDAR OR WORSE, the 7th Cheese Shop Mystery is out!
Finally there's going to be a cheese festival in Providence!
Click to order.

GIRL ON THE RUN, a stand-alone suspense.
When a fairytale fantasy night becomes a nightmare, Chessa Paxton must run for her life...but will the truth set her free?
Click to order

DAY OF SECRETS, a stand-alone suspense
A mother he thought was dead. A father he never knew.
An enemy that wants them dead.
Click here to order


  1. That salad sounds wonderful and not to hard to make! I would probably use the canned chickpeas!
    I have been waiting for the paperback to come out. They fit in my bookshelf better!
    Thank you for the giveaway!

    1. Deb, glad you like it. In the future, I'd probably just use canned chickpeas, too, and none of the fuss. ~ Daryl

    2. Deb, you're the winner of this giveaway by random selection. I'll send you an email to get your details. Congrats and tell a friend. ~ Dar yl

  2. Daryl, I've made that salad and am pretty sure "Nancy" is Nancy Silverton, later the author of the Silver Palate and the creator of the La Brea Bakery! It is a bit intensive, but so delish!

  3. I LOVE La Scala and used to eat their chopped salad several times a month when I worked in Burbank! Every time I go to a restaurant and try a chopped salad now, I'm always disappointed because it doesn't live up to La Scala's salad. Thanks for sharing!!! Since I've already read your book (and loved it!) you can remove my name from the contest.

    1. Aw, thanks, Kim, for reading the book, and thanks for chiming in! ~ Daryl

  4. I think you should come over and show me how. I wouldn't want to get it wrong!

  5. Taylor R. WilliamsMay 23, 2018 at 10:57 AM

    Of course I've told my friends - great series - can't really afford to buy books, so I get mine at the library

  6. Could you use canned chick peas in this recipe? Sounds like a good recipe to take for a pot luck, for some thing different. I did not buy the hardcover. dbahn(at)iw(dot)net

    1. Dianne, thanks for telling me. Yes, you can use canned chick peas. Just make sure they are well drained. ~ Daryl

  7. Salad looks delicious, I always love salads. I have not read your book yet but would love too. Thanks for the chance to win!
    faithdcreech at gmail dot com

  8. Sadly I wasn't able to buy the hardcover version when it was first released. I usually always buy hardcovers (if the book is offered in hardcover) because of how sturdy they are, less chance of bent covers when carrying them with you.
    I always tell my friends of new cozy releases.
    The recipe looks yummy. Wonder if it would work with shallots? It's still in the onion family. My son is allergic to onions

    1. Your son can eat shallots but not onions? Interesting. I'm sure shallots would work. Honestly, I prefer them! ~ Daryl

  9. I would very much love to have this book. She is a awesome author. And I have been waiting for this book .I love the cover. Thank you for this chance.

  10. This salad looks yummy. Sadly I never tried it (or anything from La Scala) when I lived in LA. I think hardcover books make great gifts & look nicer on a bookshelf, but I prefer to read from paperbacks (or ebooks), so buy more of those. turtle6422(at)gmail(dot)com

    1. Jana, I agree, hardcovers make great gifts. :) ~ Daryl

  11. I prefer reading paperbacks and hard covers! That's what I tend to buy most of the time! lindaherold999(at)gmail(dot)com

    1. Linda, I'm with you. I read e-books, but only when necessary. ~ Daryl

  12. This does sound tasty.
    A question--" Separate the lettuce leaves, and slice them lengthwise 14/ inch thick."
    Is that 1/4 inch thick?

    1. Libby, you don't think they could be 14 inches thick? LOL Going to fix now. You got me. ~ Daryl

  13. "A Deadly Eclair" has been on my TBR list. I'm waiting for mass market paperback to be released. Hard cover and trade paperbacks are too pricey, can buy more books if they are published in mass market paperback.

    1. Dianne, sorry to say no mass market for this title. The trade paperback is $15.99 right now. It might go down after release, but I'm not sure. I don't have a say in all of this. Ask your library? ~ Daryl

  14. Sounds delish, but I can tell you I would not put that much work into a salad. I would love to eat it though, so maybe I can convince someone else to make, lol. I bought the hardcover and ended up with 3 copies from some good fortune and reviewing. The library loved their copy and so did a friend.

  15. I never use anything but canned chickpeas. They make things easy. I don't know any readers (I keep to myself mostly) so I don't have anyone to tell.
    lkish77123 at gmail dot com

    1. Linda, there are all sorts of reading groups online, especially through Facebook, if you care to reach out. There's Delicious Mysteries and Save our Cozies and more. ~ Daryl

  16. I am finding so many new authors lately that I can't afford to buy all the hardback books, but I am telling friends about you! Thanks for this opportunity! HawksSB48 (at) gmail (dot) com

    1. If you tell your library, too, that would be great. Thanks, Sharelle. That's why I appreciate that the publisher comes out with a paper version 9 months later. But it's like waiting for a baby to pop! ~ Daryl

  17. I'm going to be serving this salad at our next picnic for the family! Looking good ! Thanks for sharing!

  18. I am definitely a fan of hard covers. And I told all my friends. Thanks for the chance. Maceoindo(at)yahoo(dot)com

    1. Jnalpath, thanks so much! Truly appreciate it. ~ Daryl

  19. I get my books at the library. Can’t wait to read it. The recipe sounds delicious. Thanks for the chance.

  20. I love trying new recipes and finding books to read. I love the hardback book with a dustcover on it. A great cover is the first thing that catches my eye. A great story and a great recipe together is the best.

  21. I've ordered this salad, but have never made it at home. Love hardback, or paperback!Thanks for the chance. Have a great day!