Tag Archives: anchovies

SALADE NIÇOISE: HIGH PROTEIN/LOW CARB DIETS

This is a great time of the year. Our grandchildren are out of school, and their parents are looking for a little relaxing time. That means we get to have them in Santa Fe for a few days. Our youngest, Sarah, is here now with her two toddlers. That is exciting for Grandma and Grandpa, but it also is a reminder why young people are parents and old people are grandparents.

Sarah and her husband, Evan, are chefs. They have fallen into the occupational hazard of those who cook for a living: they taste – and taste – and taste. Over the years they have added a few pounds along with – for Sarah – the weight gain of motherhood. As a result, they have gone on a very strict diet and exercise regimen prescribed by a no-nonsense personal trainer.

Before her arrival, Sarah announce that there would not be the usual eating out that seems to be part of the visiting tradition. I was disappointed about that, because there are several new restaurants in town worthy of a visit. The other restriction was that home meals should be high protein/low carbohydrate. How to deal with that? No pasta; no red and green chile enchiladas; no pies or cakes. I decided that a simple resolution, at least for the meal the evening of their arrival, was salade Niçoise. I know – what about the potato salad? No problem. That becomes a personal option.

Sarah signed off on the suggestion, and so that’s what we had. I bought some beautiful raw ahi tuna at the store which I seared to keep the lovely pink inside. There were haricots verts at the farmers market and Kalamata olives from the Cheesemongers of Santa Fe. Everything else I found in the pantry or refrigerator, so it was just a matter of cooking and blanching the beans, hard boiling the eggs, and assembling everything right before we ate. Salade Niçoise [2]-1 That gave us time to enjoy the beautiful sunset. A good ending to a tiring day for Sarah shepherding two toddlers on a flight that wound up sitting on the tarmac for thirty minutes after arrival, waiting for a gate to open. Salade Niçoise [2]-2

RECIPE

Salade Niçoise

Ingredients

  • butter lettuce, washed and spun dry
  • potato salad – your favorite recipe
  • ahi tuna, sautéed and sliced thinly across the grain
  • anchovies packed in oil, drained
  • haricots verts, boiled and blanched
  • hard-boiled eggs, peeled and quartered
  • tomatoes, quartered
  • kalamata olives
  • vinaigrette

Method

  1. Arrange the lettuce leaves around the edge of a large serving bowl
  2. Heap the potato salad in the middle
  3. Arrange the other ingredients on top of the potato salad
  4. Dress with vinaigrette and serve.
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LIPTAUER CHEESE

In a recent post, I described an amazing feast we enjoyed at Bar Tartine in San Francisco. One of the co-chefs, Cortney Burns, is featured in an article titled, “Dairy Queen” in the Spring, 2014 issue of Culture: the Word on Cheese, a beautiful quarterly magazine all about cheese. Before our recent visit to the restaurant, Sarah and Evan said we should be sure to get the Liptauer cheese spread. Unfortunately, it was not on the menu that night, so we didn’t get to give it a try. I’m not sure, but I suspect that Cortney is behind the spread being on the menu because of her obvious interest and expertise in cheese. Liptauer cheese, like the pimento cheese I wrote about a while back, is a classic from earlier days, commonly seen at cocktail parties. I guess with the renaissance of cocktails, there is a renewed interest in cheese spreads as well. Liptauer cheese is the name for both the soft, fresh, sheep’s milk cheese originating in Liptauer, Hungary, and the seasoned spread made and enjoyed in Austria, Germany, and other European countries.  You probably won’t be able to find the original Liptauer cheese at your local cheese monger, but fortunately you can make a reasonable facsimile using cottage cheese or cream cheese. If you want to turn your spread into a dip, just add enough sour cream to suit your taste. Also, for some tastes, this version may be a little bland. You can spice it up with cayenne or your favorite hot pepper sauce to taste.

RECIPE

Liptauer Cheese

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • anchovy filet, mashed (or about 1 inch of anchovy paste)
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon caraway seeds
  • 1 tablespoon capers, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chives, minced
  • 1 tablespoon green onion tops, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped cornichons
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • cayenne or pepper sauce (optional, to taste)
  • finely chopped chives or green scallions or paprika for covering the cheese ball.

Method

  1. In a food processor, pulse the cream cheese and butter until smooth.
  2. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the remaining ingredients until evenly combined.
  3. Refrigerate until firm, at least two hours or overnight. When firm, shape into a ball and cover in plastic wrap. Chill again.
  4. Roll the chilled cheese ball in chopped chives or green scallion tops (I used a mixture of garlic chives and scallions. Alternatively you can roll it in paprika.)
  5. Serve at room temperature with fresh, crusty bread – preferably dark rye – or crudités.

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EATING MY WAY THROUGH SAN FRANCISCO – b. PATISSERIE

It is hard to say enough good things about the b. Patisserie. This French-style bakery has been open only a short time , but it has already collected a lot of awards and a big following. It is located in Pacific Heights/Laurel Heights at 2821 California Street. The chef/owner, Belinda Leong, a friend of Sarah and Evan, is an experienced pastry chef with many awards. She is formerly the pastry chef at the Michelin-starred Manresa in Los Gatos, CA and has also spent time in the fabled Parisian patisserie, Pierre Hermé.

The main attraction of b.’s is, of course, sweet pastry in the French style, but there is also a wide selection of granolas, mousses, quiches, and tartines so you can enjoy a nice lunch or snack with dessert. There ae pln†y of tables inside as well as some comfortable chairs outside. If you prefer, you can have it all packed in a box to take home, but then you have to forego the very interesting people watching.

There is a wide selection of croissants from plain (Is there such a thing as a “plain” croissant?) to a completely decadent chocolate, banana-almond version that is filled with a velvety banana cream.

The kouign amann is a wonder. Made of a light dough (I think it is puff pastry) and shaped like an opening flower bud, the outside is a caramelized brown, crisp and glistening with sugar crystals, reminiscent of a palmier. Break open the petals and the inside is filled with a nectar from the transformed sugar inside. You will need extra napkins even if you eat it with a fork.

The passion fruit-flavored bostock is redolent of almonds and the wonderful scent of passion fruit. The creamy little cake is so elegant and so flavorful.

When we visited, it was lunch time, so I ordered a muffuletta tartine. If you have been to New Orleans, you probably have had a muffuletta from the Central Grocery in the French Quarter where it is said the sandwich was invented more than a hundred years ago. The original is served on a giant Italian bread roll with provolone, salami and cappicola. The thing that really makes it a muffuletta and different from other subs, heroes, and po’boys, though, is the unique “olive salad” rich with garlic, olive oil, chopped olives, and pickled vegetables.

Belinda’s muffuletta nails the flavors of the original, including the olive salad. But it is so much more: served on a thin slice of flavorful toasted French bread slathered with olive salad, covered with Black Forest ham, Genovese salami, and mortadella topped with provolone melted under the salamander. Only one word: delicious.

To help you make your own muffuletta, either like the original or as a tartine, I am providing you with one of our family secrets, a recipe for olive salad that we collected when we lived in Louisiana and have subsequently included in our family cookbook.

RECIPE

Louisiana Olive Salad

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup chopped green olives
  • 2/3 cup chopped black olives
  • 2/3 cup chopped celery
  • 1/4 cup chopped pimiento
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 anchovy filet, mashed
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 1/2 cup parsley, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice

Method

  1. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients
  2. Let stand over night at room temperature.
  3. Use a generous serving when making a muffuletta.
Louisiana olive salad

Louisiana olive salad

 

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HAM, POTATO, AND ONION GRATIN – CLEARING OUT THE FREEZER, PART THREE

In my quest to get to the bottom of our freezer, I found a plastic bag containing four thick ham slices separated by waxed paper. I managed to break one of them free and decided to make a gratin of potatoes, onions, and ham. One of our family favorites is Julia Child’s râpée morv andelle (Mastering the Art of French Cooking, volume 1, page 153). In that recipe, though, you are supposed to grate the potatoes and finely dice the ham. The ham steak from the freezer seemed too big and thick to suffer the indignity of fine dicing.

I was reminded of a wonderful dish that a Swedish friend of ours always prepared for her Christmas smörgåsbord: Jansson’s frestelse (Jansson’s Temptation). Potatoes and anchovy filets were arranged in alternating rows and then topped with onions, cheese, cream, and eggs. The casserole was baked until the mixture was puffed and golden.  I decided to try that same thing, substituting thinly sliced potato for the grated potatoes and ham cut into bâtonett instead of dice. Scallions would serve as the onion representative.

RECIPE

Ham, Potato, and Onion Gratin

Ingredients

  • 1 medium russet potato, unpeeled
  • 1 ham steak, ½ inch thick and about 8 ounces
  • 3 scallions including green tops, cut into ¼ inch rings
  • 4 ounces Swiss (Emmental) cheese, grated
  • 3 extra-large eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • nutmeg
  • salt
  • pepper

Method

  1. Using a mandoline, slice the unpeeled potato crosswise into 1/16 inch thick rounds. Soak in water until ready to assemble the casserole.
  2. Remove any fat and bone from the ham steak and cut into strips ½ inch x ½ inch x 2 inches. Set aside until ready to assemble the casserole.
  3. Combine the beaten eggs with the cream and season with nutmeg, salt, and pepper.
  4. In a well-greased 8 x 8 x 2 inch ovenproof glass pan, arrange an overlapping row of potato slices that have been drained and patted dry.
  5. Next to the row of potatoes, arrange a row of the ham slices. Then begin a second row of potatoes, another row of ham pieces, and finish with another row of potato slices.
  6. Sprinkle the top with half of the cut-up scallions, half of the grated cheese, and cover with half of the egg and cream mixture.
  7. Make a second layer of alternating potato and ham slices, using all of both. Sprinkle with the remaining scallions and grated cheese.  Cover with the remaining egg and cream mixture
  8. Bake in the middle of a pre-heated oven at 350° (175°C) for 1 hour and 15 minutes. If the top becomes too brown, cover with aluminum foil.
  9. When the casserole is golden brown and the potatoes are tender (test with a small knife), remove from the oven, let rest for 5 minutes to set up a bit, and serve immediately while still warm.

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