Weekly Salad 16: Goat Cheese with Candied Kumquats and Chive Vinaigrette

 

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The other day, I came home after a very long day to find a parcel waiting for me in the hallway. It was sent from Denise and Lenny from the wonderful ChezUs blog. Without even taking off my shoes, I went straight for the box. Oh, I’m just messin’ with ya, Ma — I always take my shoes off first ;)

Inside, I found a beautiful loaf of Portuguese sweet bread, candied kumquats (which came in an ultra-cool Weck jar) and some fresh kumquats they had found at the market in San Francisco. Pierre and I ate the bread with some of the kumquats the next morning for breakfast. As we were eating, all I could do was nod be all, like, Totally, Dude.

The bread was like a moist, slightly dense panettone. Although I often find candied fruits and preserves too sweet for my taste, the kumquats’ acidity and tartness really balance the sugar syrup nicely in the preserves. Denise and Lenny, Muito Obrigado and if you decide to open a mail-order business with this bread, write me down for the first dozen :)

 

chives

 

Now that spring is finally here (or is it?), my fresh chives are starting to make a comeback and I’ve been eager to make a vinaigrette with them. They’re not fully grown so I had to resort to herbal thievery and stole some that were growing on the other side of a neighbor’s fence. Yes, I stole some chives. And a small dogwood branch.

I used the candied kumquats in this salad and they added such a delicious tangy-sweet taste to it. With creamy goat cheese and a fresh chive vinaigrette, it’s a simple and elegant salad for any day of the week. To make the chive vinaigrette, add fresh, finely chopped chives to some dijon mustard, olive oil and wine vinegar + S&P and mix together to form a smooth, emulsified dressing. Just before serving, toss your salad greens with the dressing and top with goat cheese and a few slices of candied kumquats.

 

bread

 

bread with kumquats

 

Bon appétit!

 

 

Phở Gà – Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup

 

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Second in popularity to Phở Bò (Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup) is Phở Gà. If you live in Southern California, you might have heard of or dined at Phở shops that make only the chicken version. Perhaps not as rich or unctuous as the beef or oxtail versions, Phở Gà still has all the depth and flavor that comes from combination of natural meat stock, ginger, shallot, and spices like star anise, Vietnamese cassia cinnamon, cloves, and coriander seed. The use of preserved or salted lemon here (as called for in the original recipe) is new for me but it added a fragrant, slightly salty-savory accent. I also used fresh Phở noodles, rather than the dried ones, made by Sincere Orient Food Co. — (it has a photo of the beef noodle soup on the front). I’m sure there are other great brands for fresh Phở noodles but this is the best one I’ve found here in Michigan. At Asian markets like Hua Xing Market in Ypsilanti, you can find it in the refrigerated aisle. Unlike the dried noodles, these do not require pre-soaking in water before cooking.

Phở would not be right without the requisite herbs and garnishes of Thai basil, culantro, bean sprouts, chilies and fresh lime wedges. With the cold snap we’ve had here, a hot, steamy bowl of Phở Gà is more than a welcome treat.

 

Pho Ga - Viet Rice Noodles

 

PHỞ GÀ – VIETNAMESE CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP

adapted from Quick and Easy Vietnamese Home Cooking for Everyone

INGREDIENTS: (4 servings)

  • 16 oz. (454g) pkg. fresh Phở noodles (bánh phở tươi)
  • 3 quarts of Phở Gà broth:
    • 1 whole chicken (approx. 3.5lbs/1.5 kg)
    • 2 lbs. (1kg) chicken neck/back bones
    • 1/4 cup (60mL) Vietnamese fish sauce (nước mắm)
    • 2 Tbl. (25g) sugar (or 1 small/medium piece of rock sugar)
    • 1 tsp. (5 g) salt
    • 1 stalk of celery
    • 10 whole cloves (đinh hương)
    • 5 whole star anise (hoa hồi)
    • 2 small pieces of Vietnamese cassia (cinnamon) bark(vỏ cây quế)
    • 10 coriander seeds (hột ngò)
    • 1 preserved (salted) lemon
    • 4 shallots and a 2-3inch(5-8cm) piece of fresh ginger, both broiled in the oven until slightly charred on the outside.
    • water
  • Herb and vegetable garnish:
    • cilantro (rau ngò)
    • thai basil (rau quế)
    • culantro aka sawtooth herb (rau ngò gai)
    • bean sprouts
    • fresh lime wedges
    • thai “bird” chilies or Sriracha chili sauce

 

Pho Ga Ingredients

 

STEPS:

Prepare the Phở Gà broth about 2-3 hours before serving time. Cover and tie the spices with cheesecloth and add along with the rest of the ingredients for the broth into a stockpot and cover with approximately 4 quarts (~4L) of cold water. With the heat on medium, bring to a boil, skimming any scum that forms at the top. Once it comes to a boil, adjust the heat to low and simmer (covered) for approximately 1 hour. At this point, test the chicken for doneness [the internal temperature should reach 165°F (74°C)] If done, carefully remove the whole chicken from the pot and transfer to a large plate/platter. Tent the chicken with foil. Continue simmering the stock (uncovered) for another 2 hours. Taste the broth and add more salt or sugar if needed.

At serving time, bring the stock to a vigorous boil. At the same time, bring another large pot of water to boil. Divide the noodles into 4 portions and using a mesh strainer, separately boil the noodle portions for approximately 1 minute each. The noodles should be cooked but still “al dente.” Give the noodles a quick “shake” to remove excess water and transfer the noodles to individual bowls.

Using your hands, shred the chicken into small pieces/strips. (Knife-cut chicken gives a less satisfactory mouthfeel for this dish.) Top the noodle-filled bowls with the chicken pieces and ladle the hot broth into each bowl. (You could strain the broth before ladling it into the bowls, but, due to laziness and impatience — I just avoid the bones and vegetables while scooping up the broth.) Serve the Phở Gà bowls with a plate of herb and vegetable garnish and let guests help themselves to whatever combination and quantity they like. Slurping is highly encouraged.

Check out these other posts:

Phở Gà from WanderingChopsticks
Phở Gà from VietworldKitchen
A poem on Phở Gà from Geroi (Vietnamese text)

 

Bon appétit!

 

Moules à la Marinière – Mussels with White Wine and Meyer Lemon

 

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While it is bitterly cold outside and the sun hasn’t shone for days, I’m in a rather chipper mood. And the reason is because I came across some Meyer lemons at Hiller’s Market, a grocery store here in Ann Arbor. Some might have thought I was estatic. All’s I gotta say is, if you’ve never jumped up and down in the produce aisle, you really ought to. Hell of a good time.

As the cashier was ringing up my groceries, he picked up the Meyer lemons, looking a little confused.

Are these oranges or lemons?

I grab the lemons and hold them up to his nose

They’re lemons, dude. Smell them!

Uh…that’s okay.

No, SMELL them. They’re a-mazing!

He sorta smells them and then nonchalantly continues to ring them up. I’m thinking, What? No Oh, my God, you’re right, no You have saved my life. I get nothing from him. Fine, more for me, then.

I always make a lemon tart with these first Meyers of the season. I thought I’d go savory this time around and made a dish I first had in Brussels on a backpacking trip. I was backpacking alone then and this weirdo starting following me for at least half an hour as I was walking into town. I must have looked scared because this other Belgian guy came up to me and asked me if I was okay. I told him I was fine but I thought maybe this man was following me. He told me not to worry and walked with me to my destination to make sure I was safe. When we arrived, I thanked him and he went on his way. His name was Bruno. I think Bruno’s a good name for a boy, don’t you?

Right, the dish. I’ve made this dish often, yet I’m still amazed how easy it is. Cook some shallots in a little butter, add wine (and lemon juice, in this case). Toss the mussels into the pan and steam. In minutes, you have perfectly cooked mussels bathed in a fragrant broth that you can mop up with some crusty bread. Bruno would approve.

 

MOULES À LA MARINIÈRE – MUSSELS WITH WHITE WINE AND MEYER LEMON

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adapted from Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking

INGREDIENTS: (6-8 servings )

  • 6 Tbl. butter
  • 1/2 cup minced shallots
  • 1 cup light, dry white wine
  • 1 cup fresh Meyer lemon juice
  • 8 parsley sprigs
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper
  • 6 quarts cleaned, scrubbed mussels (& soaked in water for at least 30 minutes)
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped parsley
  • zest of 1 Meyer lemon

STEPS:

  • Heat a large kettle/pot on med-high and add the butter and shallots. Cook for approx. 1 minute.
  • Add the wine, lemon juice, parsley sprigs and pepper. Bring the liquid to a boil and let boil for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the mussels to the kettle. Cover tightly and boil quickly over high heat. Frequently grasp the kettle with both hands, your thumbs clamped to the cover, and toss the mussels in the kettle with an up and down slightly jerky motion so the mussels will change levels and cook evenly. In about 5 minutes the shells will open and the mussels are done.
  • With a big skimmer (or chopsticks), dip the mussels into wide soup plates or bowls. Allow the cooking liquid to settle for a moment so any sand will sink to the bottom. Then ladle the liquid over the mussels, sprinkle with parsley and lemon zest. Serve immediately.

 

Bon appétit!

You like Kabocha, dontcha?

 

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I think a lot of people like to press the Shuffle button on their MP3 player to mix things up and hear a variety of songs. Not me. If I like a song, I’ll put in on Replay for-ev-er. Sometimes, I’ll listen to the same dang song like, 100 times before I move on to another.

Am I obsessive? Compulsive? My answer to that fluctuates. What is constant is my attachment to a good thing once I find it. This is how I am now with Kabocha pumpkin. Kabocha muffins for breakfast. Kabocha soup for lunch. Kabocha-stuffed pasta for dinner. How ’bout Kabocha pumpkin pie, anyone?

It was the same with Butternut squash a while back. And there was that winter-long fling with Meyer lemons – which, late at night, I still think of. Oh, and let’s not forget my fixation with pomelos.

Nowadays, my fancy turns to Kabocha. Can you blame me? Kabocha, with its deep, emerald skin flushed against this intense, orange flesh is like Butternut’s sexier, curvier, non-surgically altered and intellectually superior cousin. And, it doesn’t need a ton of makeup to look good, either. I mean, who would you rather go home with???

That’s what I thought. So next time you’re at the market, look out for Kabocha. Cook responsibly.

 

Soupe au Potiron – Kabocha pumpkin bisque

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INGREDIENTS: (4-6 servings)

  • 1 medium-sized Kabocha pumpkin (approx 3-4lbs)
  • 1 Tbl. of canola oil + more for coating pumpkin
  • 3 medium shallots, finely diced
  • chubby piece of ginger (approx 1 inch length), peeled and minced
  • 1/2 tsp of freshly ground star anise + a tiny pinch for sprinkling
  • 1/2 tsp of freshly ground cassia cinnamon + a tiny pinch for sprinkling
  • 1 quart of homemade or quality store-bought chicken stock
  • 1/3 cup half & half or whole cream
  • sea salt and fresh ground pepper

STEPS:

  • Cut the Kabocha pumpkin in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Rub the cut sides with oil and sprinkle with a tiny pinch of the star anise and cinnamon. Place the pumpkin, cut-side down on a foil/parchment-lined cookie sheet.
  • In an oven preheated to 350F, roast the pumpkin for about 35 minutes (or until a knife can be inserted with little resistance).
  • Set aside to cool for about 15 minutes. Then scoop out the flesh.
  • Meanwhile, set a large saucepan to med heat, add the oil.
  • Next, add the shallot and ginger. Cook (sweat) the shallots and ginger until the shallots are softened and translucent, being careful not to add too much color.
  • Add the cooked pumpkin and spices and cook for another minute.
  • Add the chicken stock and stir to combine and heated through.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Using an immersion blender or regular blender, purée the soup until smooth.*
  • Stir the cream into the soup.
  • Check seasoning again and add more S+P if necessary. Serve warm.

*If you use a regular blender, please use extreme caution as the hot liquid will explode everywhere if you try to blend too much at a time. Fill only up to 1/3 of the blender at a time. Bon appétit!

 

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Les Petits Pois à la Versailles – Green Peas from Versailles

 

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For whatever reason, the French have a bad rap for being rude. Whenever someone asks me if this is true, I have to find it in me to not take them by the shoulders and remind them that there are rude people everywhere, not just in France. Some of the friendliest people I’ve ever met were French. With that said, I want to talk about our visit to Ligny-le-Chatel, a village in Burgundy where we stopped on the way to Auxerre, the town where Pierre’s family once lived.

The purpose of our visit was to meet some close friends of Pierre’s late grandparents. A quaint village with a population of just over 1200, it had an impressive church and a peaceful, somewhat rural setting.

We arrive at the country farmhouse of Françoise and Jean Dapremont. Françoise comes out to greet us and I immediately feel welcomed by her affable and cordial demeanor. She is probably in her mid-late 60’s and like women of her generation, her hair is perfectly coifed and her language is pleasant and polite. She introduces her husband Jean and their little grandson Roland, who is staying for the weekend.

Their home is full of the charm that only a country house can give. There are worn windows, rustic furnishings and a friendly cat or two(?). We sit down for aperitifs while we chat about our plans – which, at that time, included our pending nuptials :)

As we sip our brandy and chat, I can smell the aroma of roasting meat and yummy goodness wafting through the air. Always aware that I’m the only non-French in the group, I have to harness my American tendency to act like an over-eager child when something excites me. So, when Françoise announces that dinner is ready, I quietly remind myself not to jump out of my seat and run to the table.

At the table, we begin our meal with a smooth and luscious terrine of coquilles St. Jacques (scallops), dotted with carrots and red bell pepper. Our main dish is a plate of roasted local saucisses. They are accompanied by petit pois that she served in a beautiful casserole. Les petits pois à la Versailles, she says proudly, handing me the dish. She explains that she got the recipe from a friend who once tended the gardens at the castle of Versailles.

Well, this ought to be good, I thought. And it is. One bite reveals tender peas, savory bacon pieces, and of all things, sweet and slightly wilted lettuce; a simple yet brilliant dish that I’ve adapted and present to you here.

 

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Les Petits Pois à la Versailles

INGREDIENTS: (4 servings)

  • 1 lb. Pasta (shells, macaroni, penne, etc.)
  • 6-8 oz. bacon, cut into batons, or 1/4 inch slivers
  • 1 (16 oz) bag of frozen peas
  • 2 cups of romaine or iceberg lettuce, shredded
  • 1/2 cup grated gruyère or parmigiano reggiano
  • fresh mint

STEPS:

  • Boil the pasta in salted water until al dente (about 8-10 minutes) and drain in a colander.
  • Using the same pan, set the heat to medium and cook the bacon until the edges are slightly crispy.
  • Next, toss the frozen peas and lettuce in with the bacon until the peas are heated through and the lettuce is slightly wilted.
  • Add the cooked pasta to the pot and stir to combine.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Serve with freshly grated gruyère or parmigiano reggiano and mint.

Bon appétit!

Phở Bò – Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup

 

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To me, there is nothing like a good bowl of Phở, with its rich, satisfying broth – infused with ginger, onion and spices, and warm rice noodles spiked with fresh herbs, lime and chilies. It’s my comfort food and I would eat it everyday if I could.

When I go home to Orange County, one of the first things I do is head out to what local Vietnamese call “Bolsa” (which we fobby folks pronounce Bone-sah) . There, with friends or family, I’ll get my phở fix at one of the many phở shops that line Bolsa Avenue in Westminster. Once seated at our table, we’ll order our phở in whatever way we like– with cooked brisket (thịt chín), tendon(gân), tripe (sách); with beef balls (bò viên); with cooked flank (thịt nạm) and thin, rare beef slices (thịt tái); or a combination of all the above in what’s known as Dặc Biệt.

Within a matter of minutes, our steaming bowls arrive at our table along with a plate of garnishes which features fresh herbs: thai basil (rau quế), coriander aka cilantro (rau ngò), saw-tooth herb aka culantro (rau ngò gai), bean sprouts, fresh chilies and lime wedges. Sipping my bowl of pho, I marvel at how simple and refined this dish is, for example, in the way the spices sort of echo the flavors of the fresh herbs — the coriander seed with the cilantro and the star anise and cinnamon with with the thai basil. It’s hard not to have your senses awaken to what is hot, sour, salty and sweet.

As we dig in, I become instantly aware that I’m in an Asian environment as I hear slurp, slurp sounds growing all around me. We finish our bowls like a Coca-Cola commercial with a resounding ahhhhh.

 

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Here, in the Midwest, a good bowl of phở is more elusive than perhaps Britney Spears’ underwear. And believe me, I’ve searched —- for phở, that is!

Thus, my only choice is to make my own. In my opinion, it seems only fitting to make a large amount of phở broth so you can invite as many people over as you can and if there’s any broth left over, which there often is in my home, you can freeze it in 2-quart containers. These are perfect to make 2 big bowls of phở anytime later when you’re in a pinch.

The broth is the essence of this dish and so there’s no room for cheating or shortcuts, which means no instant phở paste, imitation phở seasoning or canned broth. Sorry, Sarah Moulton. Yes, making phở at home is laborious. Be prepared to spend a few hours on preparing the ingredients and many more hours to simmer the broth.

At our home, making phở was something usually reserved for the weekend. My mom would often make the broth a day before and assemble the rest of the ingredients the following day. In the end, your reward will be something that is not only delicious but also free of preservatives and artificial flavor enhancers (like MSG). Amen to that!

Phở Bò

INGREDIENTS (8 servings)

  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 5 medium-large shallots
  • 3-4 inch piece of fresh ginger
  • 5 lbs. beef leg (shank) bones
  • 1 lb. beef tendon
  • 1 lb. beef brisket
  • sachet of whole (not ground) spices:
    • 1 cinnamon stick (regular or Vietnamese cassia)
    • 5 star anise
    • 5 cloves
    • 1 tsp. coriander seed
    • 1 tsp. fennel seed
    • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 Tbl. of salt
  • 4 Tbl. of fish sauce
  • small cube of rock sugar (or 1 Tbl. raw cane sugar)
  • 7-8 quarts water
  • 2 packages of phở rice noodles (dry or fresh)*
  • 1 package beef balls (bò viên)
  • 1lb. beef sirloin (thinly sliced) – to be served rare
  • 1lb. beef tripe, thinly sliced (often labeled as “book tripe” ) – not to be confused with “honeycomb” tripe
  • 1 medium yellow onion, sliced into thin “half -moons”
  • fresh coriander, stems and leaves, roughly chopped
  • green onion, both green and white part, thinly sliced
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • Vegetable garnish:
    • Thai basil
    • Culantro
    • Coriander
    • Bean Sprouts
    • Lime wedges
    • Thai “bird” chilies

DIRECTIONS:

  • To begin, dry-roast the spices in a small skillet on medium heat. Watch carefully as the spices can scorch easily. As the spices toast, they’ll become fragrant and deeply hued.
  • Remove from heat and tie them inside a cheesecloth sachet or large tea infuser. Set aside.
  • Cut the onion and ginger lengthwise, leaving the skins attached.
  • Place the onion, ginger and shallots on a baking sheet and broil them until their skins are nicely charred and blistered (usually 2-3 minutes). Remove from the oven and set aside.
  • To make a clear broth, begin by parboiling the beef bones. Place the bones in a large stock pot. Cover with cold water and bring to a boil. After 3-5 minutes, drain the bones and give them a good rinse and scrub to remove the most of the sediment.
  • Next, add 7-8 quarts of cold water to the bones and bring to a boil. Skim off any of the scum that rises to the top. Add the beef tendon and beef brisket.
  • Then, add the charred onion, ginger and shallots (skins attached) to the broth, along with the spice sachet. Add the salt, fish sauce and sugar. Bring down the heat to low and simmer for about 2 hours.
  • At this point, the brisket will be ready. It should be cooked through and feel slightly springy to the touch. Remove the brisket from the pot and set it on a plate. Immediately tent with plastic wrap or foil.
  • Continue to simmer the broth another 2-2.5 hours. At this point, the tendon should be ready. Remove it from the pot and place it next to the brisket and cover again. Taste the broth and adjust for seasoning (fish sauce/sugar).
  • Once the tendon has rested for at least 15 minutes, slice the tendon and the brisket into thin slices (against the grain). You may also slice the beef balls in half. Rinse the tripe in hot water and thinly slice (It’s sold pre-cooked).
  • Slice the raw beef sirloin into thin slices, at least 1/8 inch thin. **
  • You’re now ready to assemble the bowls. Cook the noodles according to the package instructions. Divide the noodles among the bowls and layer the slices of cooked beef brisket, beef tendon, beef balls, beef tripe and raw beef sirloin slices. Top it all off with the yellow and green onion slices and fresh coriander.
  • When you’re ready to serve the phở, bring the broth to rolling boil. Ladle the hot broth (3-4 ladles’ worth) into the prepared bowls and sprinkle fresh cracked black pepper on top. Serve with the herb and vegetable garnish and allow your guests to hand-tear into their bowl whatever amount they like.

*When using dry noodles, be sure to soak them in lukewarm water for about 10 minutes – not longer, as they can become soggy. Unlike regular pasta, you’ll want to boil individual servings of the noodles (they cook very quickly, usually in less than a minute). Place a handful of the noodles into a mesh sieve and immerse in the boiling water. When the noodles are “al dente,” lift the sieve, shaking to remove excess water and drop the noodles into the serving bowls.

**A tip for slicing the beef sirloin is to place it in the freezer for about an hour. This way, it’s easier to cut very thin slices of beef which will cook to rare (or med. rare) once the hot broth is ladled onto it.

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Bon appétit!

 

Tomato Envy

 

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A trip to any local farmer’s market this time of year is sure to be a treat. I love love love the end of summer here when the tomatoes are at their peak. Red, yellow, orange, green, — you name it, it’s all good. Combine that with the abundance of fresh, green herbs and you’ve got a party. Seriously, if I was a tomato vendor, I’d totally wear one of those crazy velour sweatsuits with “Juicy” stitched on my bum.

I’ve made quite a few dishes using tomatoes this past week, I hardly know where to start. First, is a dish that any respectable francophile should have in their repertoire – the omelet. It’s gotta be soft, billowy and luscious. I was told by one of the waiters at Eve, in Kerrytown, that they super-whip the eggs so they’d have the soufflé-like texture – and they cook their omelets on med-low heat. So, here is my omelette with chives, parsley and fresh goat cheese:

Omelette aux fines herbes et au fromage de chèvre

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To make this you’ll need:

5 really good, free-range eggs

1 Tbl milk or cream

1 heaping Tbl each – parsley and chives, finely minced

fresh goat cheese, sliced or broken into smaller pieces

sea salt

black pepper

cherry tomatoes – to be placed alongside your omelet

DIRECTIONS:

Whip the eggs, milk/cream, salt and pepper with a wire wisk until thoroughly combined – up to 2 minutes. Then, blend in the herbs. Pour the egg mixture into a preheated, preferably non-stick skillet. Cook uncovered on medium heat. As it’s cooking, use a spatula to lift the edges up slightly while tilting your pan to allow mixture drip to the corner of the pan. This helps to evenly cook the omelet. Repeat until the egg mixture no longer runs to the edge. At this point, place the goat cheese along the center of omlette and delicately flip one side of the omelet over. Slide onto a plate and cascade your cherry tomatoes on top and next to the omelet. Serve thick slices with the tomatoes. Bon appétit!

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Next up, we’ve got a dish that I prepared last night. It took me about 20 minutes to get this onto the table. How ’bout that, Rachael Ray?! Anyway, I bought some baby Yukon potatoes that I boiled (unpeeled) in salted water. When they were done, I drained them and then tossed them with some olive oil, sliced green onions, minced parsley and salt+pepper. Next I thinly sliced a baguette and smeared some leftover goat cheese. I drizzled a little olive oil and hit that with some S+P and put them under a broiler for a minute. I purchased some salmon from Bello Vino and seared them on med-high heat.

To plate the dish, I placed some lovely green lettuce and halved, cherry tomatoes on the plate. Sprinkled that with some S+P and olive oil. The warm potatoes were next and the salmon placed on top. I garnished with the goat cheese croutons and voilà!

Saumon sur pommes de terre Yukon

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At last, we have a dish that I never tire of making or eating. It’s such a simple, summer salad that I picture myself sitting across from Hemingway at a Paris café, eating this salad and chatting about Picasso’s legacy. Just kidding. But really, do I need to say more?

Oeuf poché sur feuille de laitue avec pain grillé à la tomate

Poached egg on lettuce leaf with tomato on grilled bread

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To make this salad, you’ll need:

fresh green lettuce

good, free-range eggs

1 garlic clove

the best tomato you can find

baguette

balsalmic vinaigrette (1 small shallot, finely minced + 1 part balsalmic vinegar + 3 parts extra-virgin olive oil, S+P)

fresh ground black pepper

fleur de sel or any nice sea salt

DIRECTIONS:

Toast or grill your baguette slices. When they are done and while they are still warm, rub the cut side of the bread with the raw garlic clove. — This is something I learned from my friend Carmen. It does wonders to plain bread — trust me.

In a small pan with lightly boiling water, add a dash of vinegar to the water. Then, add your eggs one by one. The vinegar is supposed to help preven the egg whites from thinning out too much.

After two minutes, the eggs should be ready. Their centers should still be soft and a little jiggly, like an oeuf mollet.

To plate the dish, place the poached egg on the bed of lettuce. Using the tip of your knife, slice through the yolk and open the egg a bit. Drizzle the vinaigrette all over – be careful not to over-do it.

Place some fresh slices of tomato, sprinkle good S+P and you’re practically rubbing shoulders with Hemingway.

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