Friday, August 03, 2007

Hank Phillippi Ryan's Warm Spinach Salad

You know how you can be on an e-mail list with someone for ages and never realize that you've known them--or sort of known them--in real life until your Idiot light goes on? Well, that's the case with Hank and I. I grew up in the Boston area and had no idea, for MONTHS (blame it on my blond highlights) that Hank was THAT HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN, the one I had watched on TV for years when I had lived in Massachusetts.

Yeah, Duh. I mean, I had watched her forever, and she'd been on this e-mail list with me for Next authors, introduced herself, wrote a book called Prime Time, about a TV newscaster (a book I have and have started reading, but had to put aside--sob, sob--to finish my deadline book, but it is GREAT, so if you can buy it, DO!! and didn't know I knew her, sort of. In a TV watching kind of way. Now I've met her in real life and truly know her. And she's just as nice as you can imagine. And gorgeous. So gorgeous, you'd have to hate her if she wasn't such a truly nice person. :-) So read her books and try her recipe (I LOVE Spinach salad, and anything that has blue cheese as an option totally gets my vote!). Okay, enough from me. I have a book to write ;-)


Tomatoes with fresh basil, delicious slices of mozzarella, drizzled luxuriously with top quality balsamic vinegar. Peaches cut in half, brushed with olive oil, and grilled for two minutes over charcoal..then plop a bit of blue cheese in the center so the cheese melts on the hot peaches. Corn on the cob, brushed with olive oil and salt and pepper---then thrown on the grill til the kernels start to turn black. Fresh raspberries and blueberries with crème fraiche. Strawberries dipped in sour cream and then brown sugar.

Is there anything better than summer food? When we stack up the charcoal briquets and get a good fire going..even the most pedestrian hamburger (put two patties together and seal your favorite cheese in the middle) gets that unmistakable charcoal crust and turns into a feast.

And dessert? I watched my next door neighbor, three year old Molly, have her first bite ever of a s'more. Can you imagine? Under her Mom's watchful eye, she toasted her first marshmallow. She plopped a square of chocolate on a graham cracker, put the oozing marshmallow on top, and covered it with another graham. (Do I have your attention now?) She took a bite---and I swear I've never seen such an expression of bliss. She had a marshmallow mustache for hours. And she talked about it for days.

The only downside is when your eyes are bigger than your stomach. Or than your refrigerator. We have a wonderful produce market where it's all I can do to restrain myself from the avocadoes (smash one or two up with a jar salsa and there's instant appetizer. Use whole wheat pita chips instead of corn chips to cut the carbs), the red grapes (put them in the roasting pan with a splash or two of white wine when you bake you bake chicken breasts) the watermelon (inject one with vodka...but that's a recipe for another time.)

Anyway--grab a beautiful piece of salmon filet or a lovely chicken breast--or have you tried marinated turkey tips?...and while it's grilling, whip up this yummy salad.

Warm Spinach Salad with Honey Mustard Dressing
1/4 tsp. minced garlic
1 1/2 tsp. minced shallot
2tbl. dijon style mustard
1/4 cup honey
1/4/cup vegetable oil
1 pound baby spinach
1/2 pound bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 cup pecans, toasted lightly

In a small saucepan whisk together the garlic, shallot, mustard, honey and vinegar, add the oil in a stream, whisking, and whisk the dressing until it is emulsified. Heat the dressing over moderate heat until it is warm. In a large bowl toss together the spinach, bacon, pecans and dressing. Serve right away! (Add blue cheese if the spirit moves you...)

And now--I should be out of the kitchen and into the office--and focusing on my looking deadlines for Air Time, the third in the Charlotte McNally Mysteries. Charlie's an investigative reporter for a Boston TV station (hmmm. Just like I am). She's forty-six and successful--and always on the hunt for her next big story. She's smart, savvy and sexier than she realizes!
In Prime Time, available now--she finds some of that spam clogging her computer is actually carrying big-money secret messages. (Prime Time is a Boston Globe best seller! Thank you so much!)

In Face Time--available in October--she digs up new evidence in an old murder case, but that makes her a killer's next target. She finds cameras don't lie. But pictures do!

In Air Time--well, I'm not giving away any secrets. But if you're into gorgeous clothes and fashion...and hot'll want to see how Charlie gets her next blockbuster story. Will this be the biggest story of her life? Or the one that ends it?

Lots more recipes where this came from...I hope the fab and glamorous Shirley invites me back for another visit.

What's your favorite summer dish? C'mon--dish!



  1. Jessica Conant-Park4:14 PM

    Oh, Hank, you're a woman after my own heart. I am simply ravenous after reading this post and feel the need to immediately throw everything in my fridge onto the grill! The spinach salad looks fantastic and perfect to have in this dreadful heat we're having. Thank you for sharing it!


  2. Hank,

    I hate cooked spinach (Popeye lied to me), but I love it raw. This recipe sounds so good, I have to try it.

    I love things that are easy and calorie conscience. I also love the dipped in butter, drenched in sugar, ladened with fat dishes too. But those I have to minimize.

    Thanks for the recipe.



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