Category Archives: General

It’s All About the Garlic {CtBF}

Hearty salads for dinner are a house favorite.  I don’t usually follow a recipe, using the bits and pieces leftover in the refrigerator, but for this week’s recipe for Cook the Book Fridays, a French bistro classic, I followed the rules.

Salade Lyonnaise is bacon-and-eggs in salad form with a heavy dose of garlic thrown in.  There are many components, but many of them can be prepared ahead, making it easy to pull together for a weeknight meal.

The base of the salad is frisée, AKA curly endive.  At first I couldn’t find any, just green heads labelled “chicory” which resembled a coarser form of frisée.  Doing a Google search in the market, I learned that the chicory I found along with frisée and escarole are all in the same botanical genus, but curly endive and escarole are more closely related, being the same species, Cichorium endivia, with different leafing habits: one with lacy leaves and the other broad leaves.  I decided to go with the escarole, but then came across curly endive in another section of the store. In the end, I bought both and made the salad with a mix of the two.

My favorite part of the salad was the garlicky croutons.  A crushed clove of garlic is cooked in a generous amount of olive oil to flavor it.  Then the bread cubes are sautéed in the resulting garlic oil until they are golden brown and fragrant.  I often make croutons to have on hand for Caesar salads, but compared to these croutons, I’d have to dub my usual technique as spartan croutons because they are simply cubes of bread toasted in the oven with no oil or seasoning.

Boiled baby potatoes, bacon, and dressing round out the ingredients that can be prepared ahead.

When it’s time for dinner, the salad can be assembled: endive, sliced potatoes, bacon, croutons, and that garlicky dressing.  In the meantime, it’s time to poach the eggs.  At my house, that’s Howard’s job because he’s an expert, making dinner is a team effort.  I toss the salad and fill individual salad bowls so that they’re ready to be topped with the eggs after they are cooked and dried off.

We had it two nights in a row, adding some leftover grilled asparagus for the encore appearance.  The final verdict was two thumbs up.  We both really enjoyed this one.  You should try it too.

You can find the recipe on page 99 of David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen.  My friends from Cook the Book Fridays review the recipe here.

Enjoy!  Bon Appetit!

 

arman’s caviar in aspic {ffwd}

Caviar in Aspic

Caviar is always a natural on New Year’s Eve, so I added this week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe to our appetizer lineup for the night’s holiday dinner. I’d never had aspic, but I like both caviar and Jello, so as odd as this sounded, this had potential!

First, I made the aspic. I couldn’t find fish bouillon cubes anywhere. I had some clam stock concentrate in the fridge, but it was a bit old and I was reluctant to use it here, where the flavor could ruin a main component if it was off. However, given that I made several quarts of fish stock for last week’s simple Breton fish soup, I substituted fish stock for the water and just proceeded from there. I ended up with a loaf pan of thin but very sturdy aspic (or what I keep thinking of as fish jello). As I mentioned last week, the fish stock itself was thick and quivery, in other words, gelatinous, so I’m not sure whether this added to its firm structure.

To serve, I unmolded the aspic, cut it into squares, and, using a grapefruit spoon, carved out little dimples. I did this “right before serving”, as the recipe instructed, but I think I could have done this step an hour or so before serving and chilled until it was time to serve. I think I expected the aspic to be delicate and possibly to melt as it warmed to warm temperature, but it stayed firm even after sitting out for a while.

Finally, I spooned caviar into the divots and on top of the aspic squares and served.

For caviar, I used a jar of herring roe that we picked up at Ikea. They have quite an array of fishy products in the grocery section after you check out. We also bought some herring and a tube of salty fish roe paste. Yum to the fish paste (herring, not so much). I’m not sure this was the best choice. It was extremely salty and had a bit of an aftertaste. I think tobiko, which has similar tiny eggs, would have been a better choice, though I’m not sure where to find that other than the Japanese market. We also had salmon roe as part of another appetizer, and that caviar was much tastier, but I think the size of the eggs would have offered less contrast to the aspic.

Our guests and I thought it was good, a little strange, but not bad. I’m glad I tried it, but I’m not sure it was worth the effort. There are so many other ways I prefer to eat caviar.

To see what my Dorista friends thought of their caviar in aspic, check out their links here. You can find the recipe in Dorie Greenspan’s book Around My French Table.

Stay tuned for more fishiness next week!