Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Lemon Tarragon Potato Salad

Monday, April 20th, 2009

lemonypotatosalad1Every spring, there comes a moment, usually near or on the first really warm day, when my potato cravings reorient themselves.  During the colder days, almost dessert-like concoctions of roasted and then mashed sweet potatoes flavored with nutmeg, cinnamon, and butter are like cozy turtleneck sweaters you can burrow into.  More elegant preparations of thinly sliced russets layered with cream and Gruyere are the cashmere  cardigans that dress up a simple roast, and creamy purees of Yukon Golds blended with parsnip or celery root are the… hm — silk long underwear? — that make savory braises and stews that much more comforting. 

But just as we’re relieved to put aside our warmer layers and wiggle our toes in the grass, I’m always excited when the thought of waxy, creamy potatoes bathed in a light, tangy, herbal dressing pops suddenly into my head.  

I make many variations of this — it’s good with peeled or unpeeled potatoes, chives, shallot or red onion in place of the scallion, chervil, dill, parsley or basil instead of tarragon, and additions of chopped hard boiled eggs, blanched peas or asparagus or little slices of cornichon.  You can even add mayonnaise or sour cream or a mixture of the two if you want your potato salad to be creamy.  There are two critical things to get right though — one is making sure the potatoes are cooked to precisely the right texture, and the other is adding a  note of acidity to balance out the starch and sweetness of the potatoes.   Here, I’m using mild rice vinegar and lemon juice, along with some grated lemon zest for extra sunshine.

Potatoes can vary widely in size, shape, and texture, and as a result cooking times can be all over the map.  The size and shape variables can be mitigated by either carefully sorting through the bin and choosing potatoes that are as close in size and shape as possible, or by cutting the potatoes in halves, quarters, eighths, etc depending on their size so that all the pieces are approximately the same size, or into slices of the same width.  I don’t like to leave the potatoes whole, however, because I find that the exterior will usually be waterlogged by the time the inside is cooked through, and because the cut surfaces seem to absorb the flavors of the dressing more effectively.   The next step in achieving potato perfection is to carefully babysit your potatoes as they cook, judiciously poking and tasting, and draining them the second the crunch disappears.  At this point, a fork will encounter a small amount of resistance, and the potatoes should hold their shape well. 

This is good with roast chicken, fish, scallop chips, or anything grilled.

2 lbs buttercream, fingerling, or other waxy potatoes cut into either 1/4 inch slices or 3/4 inch-ish chunks
2 scallions, finely chopped
3 tbsp tarragon, finely chopped
2 tbsp rice vinegar
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp salt plus salt for cooking water
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Put potates in a medium pot and add cold water to cover plus 1 1/2 inches.   Add a hefty pinch of salt to the water.  Bring to a boil, and continue to boil “rather hard” as Julia says, until one of the largest pieces of potato breaks apart with a fork and loses its crunch when you bite into the center.  Immediately drain and transfer to a bowl.  Sprinkle with rice vinegar and 1/2 tsp kosher salt.  Allow to cool for 15-20 minutes.  Add scallions, tarragon, lemon juice and zest and stir to combine.  Drizzle with olive oil and stir again.  Best served slightly warm or at room temperature.

Heringsalat (Herring Salad)

Wednesday, December 28th, 2005

Made up of pink cubes of uniform size and dissimilar texture, with a light, unusual flavor, this is a salad that looks like it might be from Outer Space! However, this recipe came from the old country along with my Oma and Opa, and it’s traditionally eaten in my family at New Year celebrations. I’ve been gobbling it on crackers, bread, or straight from the bowl since childhood, but those without a palate for Northern European flavors will probably run the other way. Their loss.

Cut into regular dice about 1 cup each of:

European Style Dill Gherkins
Boiled Peeled Potato
Boiled Beets
Herring in Wine Sauce (reserve juice)
Granny Smith Apple
Hardboiled Egg

Add to taste:

Sour Cream
Lemon Juice
Juice from Herring

Best after leaving in the fridge overnight to let the flavors meld.

Last Thing I Cooked: Pappardelle with Veal, Mushrooms, and Sage

Wednesday, October 26th, 2005

The trick with this is to find some high-quality dried pasta. I got mine at Dom’s in Nolita. It’s rough-textured and egg-based. The veal there is great too..

Be sure to taste and correct seasonings at each stage of cooking.

Start a big pot of salty water to boil.

Chop 1 large-ish shallot and 1 clove garlic.. Slice about 20 fresh sage leaves horizontally into strips. Clean and slice about 15 large white mushrooms or 20 shiitake mushroom caps. Prepare a dredging mixture for the veal in a shallow bowl containing 1 cup all-purpose flour and salt and fresh ground black pepper. Dredge 4 veal scallops.

While you’re chopping and dredging, start a wide heavy bottomed sauté pan over medium-high heat. When you are ready to devote your attention to the stove, add a film of olive 0il. Add the shallots and saute until wilted, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, sage, and the mushrooms together and cook until the mushrooms release their liquid and the liquid is subsequently cooked off. Add 1/4 cup white wine (don’t drink the whole rest of the bottle in the next 5 minutes either, you lush, because you need more at the end.) and cook until the wine is absorbed. Remove the vegetables from the pan and reserve.

Wipe out the pan and again film with olive oil. Add the veal. Cook about 4 minutes on the first side. The scallops may stick to the pan at first but as they cook the crust will re-adhere to the veal. When this happens, turn the scallops over and cook on the second side. Remove the veal from the pan and reserve.

Add pappardelle to the salty boiling water.

Add another 1/2 cup white wine and athletically poke the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon while swirling the wine around to capture all the naughty little veal bits into the sauce. Add the reserved vegetables and stir in with the wine to reheat. Add 1/2 cup chicken broth and 1/2 – 3/4 cup heavy cream and stir to combine. Turn heat to low or off while waiting for the pappardelle to cook. When they are al dente, drain (not too vigorously, leave a little pasta water if possible) and add to the sauce pan. If you’ve turned off the burner, turn it back to medium-low, and fold the pasta together with the sauce to coat.

Check the seasonings, then divide the pasta into 4 heated bowls, reserving some sauce in the bottom of the pan. Top each bowl with a veal scallop, then cover with the reserved sauce.

Serves 4.