From: Chef Alvin Binuya, Madoka, Bainbridge Island, WA. Yield: 24 servings.
- 31/4 cups California walnut halves or large pieces
- 7⁄8 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup honey
- as needed for frying, vegetable or corn oil
Ver Jus Vinaigrette:
- 1 cup ver jus
- 1 Tbsp. chopped shallots
- 1 tsp. salt
- as needed, black pepper, freshly ground
- 1/2 cup fireweed honey
- 2 cups pomace olive oil
- 8 to 10 heads butter lettuce,
- 11/2-13/4 lb. blue cheese
- 3 Granny Smith apples
- 1/2 cup ver jus vinagrette
- 72-96 California walnut halves, for garnish
For honey walnuts: in a saucepan, cover walnuts with water and bring to boil; drain. Repeat process. After draining a second time, add sugar and honey to saucepan with walnuts, stir to coat, and add just enough water to cover walnuts, about 1 cup. Bring to boil again, reduce heat to simmer. Cook until liquid darkens and has reduced to syrup-like consistency. This can take up to 30 minutes, so watch carefully to make sure the walnuts don't burn. Drain syrupy liquid from nuts, then spread them on parchment-lined sheet pan. As they begin to cool, separate walnuts with a fork.
In fryer or deep, heavy pan, heat at least 2 inches of frying oil to 375°. Put walnuts in frying basket, lower into oil, and fry about 11/2 minutes, until walnuts are a light mahogany color. Do in batches, if necessary, so nuts are not crowded. As nuts are fried, again spread them out on parchment-lined sheet pan to cool. Do not spread on cloth or paper towels.
For ver jus vinaigrette: Combine ver jus, shallot, salt, pepper and honey in food processor fitted with metal blade, and blend. With machine running, slowly pour in olive oil. Dressing will form smooth emulsion. Transfer to clean, capped jar for storage.
For salad: Wash, trim, and spin dry butter lettuce leaves; tear leaves into large pieces. Cut cheese into 24 slices about 1 oz. each. As needed, cut each apple into 8 wedges.
Per order: Cut 1 apple wedge into julienne strips. Toss in bowl with large handful (2-21/2 oz.) butter lettuce leaves and 2 Tbsp. ver jus vinaigrette. Arrange on salad plate and top with 1 slice blue cheese and 1-2 Tbsp. honey walnuts. Garnish salad with 4-5 walnut halves.