December 3 – December 9, 2018
Monday: Chicory, Bacon and Poached Egg Salad
Tuesday” Rigatoni with Pork Sausage Ragù / Salad
Wednesday: North African Chicken Couscous
Thursday: New Mexican Green Chili Verde
Friday: Trout Toast with Scrambled Eggs
Saturday: White Bean, Kale and Kielbasa Soup
Sunday: Roast Chicken with Cauliflower Purée and Salad. App of smoked trout tartines.
“We have said how necessary it is that in the composure of a sallet, every plant should come in to bear its part, without being overpower’d by some herb of a stronger taste, so as to endanger the native sapor and virtue of the rest; but fall into their places, like the notes in music, in which there should be nothing harsh or grating: And though admitting some discords (to distinguish and illustrate the rest) striking in all the more sprightly, and sometimes gentler notes, reconcile all dissonances, and melt them into an agreeable composition.”
John Evelyn, ‘Acetaria: A Discourse of Sallets’ (1699)
John Evelyn is a wonderful writer, but regarding his high falutin’ attitude toward salad, reminds me of that modern annoyance, the foodie, and tempts me to use a seriously impolite word. But since all of you are listening, I’ll restrict myself to reminding you of that famous New Yorker cartoon featuring the infant in the high-chair, who when his mother, offering him a spoonful of food, said that it was good for him, replied: “Oh yeah, well I say it’s spinach, and I say to hell with it.” My point – to the extent that I can be said to have one – is that talk and writing about salads in hushed tones, as if they were the basis of all human health and sensible eating and a foundation for the seven virtues – bores me. And, it’s been going on, apparently, since at least 1699.
I am also bored by those main-course salads over which, for an extra charge, you can have restaurants dump salmon or chicken or steak. It’s not that they don’t taste good. Sometimes they do. And, of course, sometimes they don’t – dried-out chicken or salmon or too much dressing ruining the whole shebang. My boredom stems from the sheer predictability of the whole thing. Like the chipped ham sandwich with mustard and a separate bag of tomato and lettuce that my mother packed for us, every day – and I do mean every day, for lunch.
To avoid this gastronomic ennui, I want to steer you to two approaches to making the same-old thing taste different and wonderful.
The first is a salad that was revelatory. This is a salad I might even be able to talk Tim and Tommy into eating, so hearty is it with bacon, a poached egg and sautéed mushrooms. But the dish is not the least bit heavy, because it is made with hearty, bitter greens – radicchio and Frisée or escarole – which more than stand up to the richness of the proteins and mushrooms.
The second dish is not a salad, though it should be served with one on the side. It is one of those satisfying ‘breakfast for dinner’ dishes, but with a twist. You can serve me scrambled eggs at pretty much any hour of the day. But if you put them on top of a piece of fried sourdough and then top them with some smoked trout and a bit of dill, I will pay you big bucks. The revelation here is the smoked trout – reasonably priced and available in most super markets now. Whatever is leftover from your dinner, you can make into appetizers for the next day – or just flake the remainder over some lightly-dressed greens for lunch. I wonder if JCD knows about smoked trout, and could he possibly provide a steady source of the stuff from his regular sprees of piscatorial homicide?
Oh – and both of these dishes are easy to make and will, like the salads discussed in hushed and laudatory tones in the pages of cooking magazines, make you feel healthy, whatever havoc they’re wrecking with your heart, stomach and liver.
Chicory, Bacon and Poached Egg Salad
(adapted from bon appétit, Dec 2018 / Jan 2019)
Timing: 30 minutes – if you can multi-task — less
Ingredients: (to serve 4)
4 oz. of Parmigiano (we used 3 oz.)
1 shallot, finely chopped
¼ cup of sherry vinegar (red wine vinegar is fine)
1 tablespoon of honey (do not leave this out)
2 tablespoons of olive oil (for cooking the mushrooms)
5 tablespoons of olive oil for the dressing (we used about 3, since we prefer more acidic dressings)
8 oz. of thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/2” pieces
2 sprigs of rosemary
1 lb. of mushrooms (we used Crimini, the recipe called for wild)
1 lb. of chicory (radicchio, escarole or Frisée, or all three – we used radicchio and Frisée)
4 large eggs
Cook and Assemble:
Grate about 2 ounces of the Parmigiano and place in a large bowl (you’ll be tossing the salad in this bowl, eventually) along with the shallot, vinegar, honey and 5 tablespoons (we used about 3) of the olive oil.
Whisk this well, season with salt and pepper and set aside.
Heat a large skillet over medium high, add the bacon bits and cook, turning at least once, until crisp – maybe 7 minutes. Add the rosemary to the same pan and cook for maybe 30 seconds on each side. Transfer bacon and rosemary to a paper towel–lined plate.
Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the skillet, heat again over medium-high and add the mushrooms in a single layer. Cook, without turning or stirring for 3 minutes, then season with salt and pepper and toss and continue cooking until golden brown all over – maybe 5 minutes more.
Transfer the mushrooms to the bowl with the dressing, but don’t toss yet.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil – you can do this while cooking the mushrooms. Reduce the heat to a bare simmer. Now crack the eggs into small bowls or cups and gently slide them into the water. Poach for 3 minutes – you can rotate the eggs with a slotted spoon to keep them more compact but do so gently.
Transfer the eggs to paper towels and season with salt and pepper.
Now toss the salad to coat the leaves, season as needed with salt and pepper and divide among 4 plates. Shave or grate a little more Parmigiano over the top and then top the whole salad with the bacon and a poached egg.
TROUT TOAST WITH SOFT SCRAMBLED EGGS
(adapted from bon appétit, Dec 2018 / Jan 2019)
Timing: 20 minutes
Ingredients: 4 Servings (we made this for 2 and halved all quantities)
8 large eggs
¾ tsp. kosher salt, more to taste
6 tablespoons of unsalted butter
4 slices of sourdough or a good country bread
3 tablespoons of crème fraiche
1 skin-on, boneless smoked trout fillet (these come boneless, with skin on) – remove the skin and break into 1” pieces
1 lemon, halved
2 scallions, sliced on the diagonal
2 tablespoons of coarsely chopped dill
4 oz. of arugula
2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Whisk the eggs in a bowl with ¾ teaspoon of kosher salt. Whisk them well – no streaks should remain.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the butter in a nonstick skillet over medium. When the foam subsides, add 2 slices of the bread and cook until golden brown underneath – 3 minutes or so. Transfer to serving plates, cooked side up and repeat with the other 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 slices of bread. Season the bread with salt.
Let the skillet cool a bit and wipe it out.
Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter to the skillet over medium-low. As soon as the butter foams, add the eggs and stir with a heatproof spatula in sweeping curves until curds begin to form. Now add the crème fraiche and stir, cooking, until eggs are just set – 60-seconds.
Spoon the eggs over the toast and top with the trout. Grate zest from ½ of the lemon over the trout and then squeeze the juice over the toast. Season with pepper and scatter the scallions and dill over the top.
Squeeze the juice from the remaining lemon half into a bowl, then add the arugula and drizzle with oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss.
Then mound the arugula alongside the toasts and serve.