ANNE ZIEMIENSKI: An Artist’s Kitchen

I want to be Anne Ziemienski when I grow up. For her sheer talent in salads alone.

I know she’s famous for classic mosaics nation-wide and all that, but really, it’s her salad dressings that get me.

Anne Ziemienski & PersphoneEach artist finds their own path.  And Anne is no different. Some go to art school.  Some apprentice.  Some lock themselves away to toil relentlessly in relative obscurity.  Others come to Art later in life after success frees them to explore passionate hobbies.

But few, if any, can claim a first life as a San Francisco Nurse turned Belly Dancer.  In Europe.  In the Middle East.  Then Egypt.  With her own 13 piece band.Portrait

Anne is a colorfully vibrant person, dear friend, and celebrated artist coast to coast from the New York Times to Sonoma Magazine. A true inspiration! She and her husband, epic painter Dennis Ziemienski, have done the near impossible – they live by art alone. There is no day job. No back-up plan. There is ART. And their Mediterranean home in Glen Ellen surges with their creative vibrancy and loving warmth. Filled with Old World mosaics celebrating nature, lore, and mythology. Think 8-foot-tall Persephone in the foyer. Aphrodite lounging lusciously in the Master Bath. Snakes and branches undulating together along tabletops. A home steeped in “ancient roots and rich cultural heritage,” says Anne. Particularly the Greco-Roman style that was popular 2,000 years ago.

“Every aspect of my work intrigues me: picking out the marble and stones, hand cutting each piece, designing and implementing the design. For some mysterious reason I am very drawn to work in this ancient art form as it connects me to all the cultures that I have lived within, whether it be Egyptian, Italian or Celtic.”

Wyrm of InvernessIt’s no wonder then, the attention to details she brings to something as simple as salad. Any dinner or table-side gathering here at Annadel, I always (literally) ask Anne to bring a salad. I initially thought the magic in her bowls ran through the bitter greens she grows in her gardens. But over the years, I’ve realized the glow is in her dressings.

And it has changed my food forever. A drizzle over rice, on sandwiches, in eggs or baked into risotto… this “Dressing” goes with most dishes.

For while I don’t use the same ingredients as Anne, the long-life of a continually evolving dressing is a game changer. Anne is always adding a pinch of this, a dash of that, to her dressing so it NEVER RUNS OUT. This is key. Replenishing the magic so the dressing stays alive and changing.

Use a mason jar and a reusable Ball jar lid.

Anne’s Salad

“The way I make my salad dressing is a very fluid and inexact process.  I try to use my homegrown Italian bitter lettuces, radicchio, puntarelle, frisbee, escarole, and arugula.

My salad dressing is made in a jar that I’m always adding to so it never runs out and the flavors have time to sit together. Most important is top quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil.”

  • Anne’s Dressing: 1 cup
  • 5oz Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 3oz Combination of Red Wine Vinegar and Balsamic Vinegar (preferably from Modena)
  • Dose of salt (1/4 tsp)
  • 1/2 tsp crushed anchovies (I like to use anchovies that have been cured on salt). Debone, rinse, and smash.
  • Fresh ground black peppers.
  • For variety, add lemon juice, white vinegar, shallots, or sherry vinegar.
  • Put the lid on your jar and shake hard until it’s mixed.
  • Do not overdress or underdress!

My version:

  • Chop 3 cloves garlic
  • Squeeze juice of 1-2 lemons
  • Dollop of dijon mustard
  • Salt
  • White pepper
  • Sprig of fresh herbs to taste (rosemary, thyme or sage work well)
  • Fill jar 1/3 with high quality Olive Oil and 1/3 with white balsamic vinegar
  • Shake shake shake
  • Let stand while cooking and refrigerate what you don’t use.
  • Replenish often.

Fresh lemon is a must for me.

It doesn’t look like much but this dressing gifts magic to everything it touches.

Happy eating!

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