Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Springtime “Salade Lyonnaise”

If you like salad…and poached eggs…you have probably sampled a classic Salade Lyonnaise at least once.  For those who might never have had one (and who like the sound of salad with a poached egg), Salade Lyonnaise (sometimes called a Salade Frisée aux Lardons) is a delicious salad comprised of bitter greens (typically dandelion or frisée), chewy chunks of bacon (lardons), and freshly fried garlicky croutons—all tossed with a sharp and tangy vinaigrette (heavy on the shallots and mustard)…and topped with a drippy-yolked poached egg. 

As you dive in, the liquid yolk mingles with the vinaigrette, coating everything with rich, tangy deliciousness.  It is bacon, eggs and toast turned into a salad.  I think it is one of the best salads ever conceived.

I have no idea when I started preparing a springtime riff on this amazing concoction, but I do know the reason:  In the spring my refrigerator always has a big “vase” of asparagus

(if you aren’t storing your asparagus upright, in a container of water, you should be…it lasts much longer this way)…and I love asparagus with eggs (and bacon).  It just seemed to make sense to add some blanched asparagus spears to my springtime bowl of greens, bacon and egg.

Somewhere along the line I started adding toasted walnuts to the salad instead of croutons.  To be honest this was probably a move of convenience.  I tend to eat this salad on evenings when I’m tired.  Toasting and crumbling a few walnuts is easier than cutting and frying croutons…  at least it is to me.  In any case, I love walnuts with asparagus, so it is a switch that pleases my palate.  Although, if frying croutons (you can use the pan in which you fried the bacon) doesn’t seem like extra work to you, then you should do it.  The salad is, I think, delicious either way.

It was my Instagram feed that made me realize that I needed to post the recipe for this salad on my blog.  (I mentioned it in an early blog post, but didn’t include a recipe.)  As I posted the picture of my salad last week on Instagram I had a niggling feeling that I had posted a similar image not too long ago.  As I scrolled back, I saw that a few weeks earlier, I had indeed posted the same salad.  

In the first picture I had included a few roasted potatoes (I must have been especially hungry on that particular night.  The potatoes are a great way to increase the substance of this salad for a larger appetite.)—but it was essentially the same salad.  As I brushed off the thought that my eating habits were a bit boring, it occurred to me that the absence of this salad on my blog was a glaring omission. 

I don’t think that you really need a recipe for this salad—just the idea.  I am of course giving the recipe as I tend to make it, but I encourage you to make it your own.  To help you get started, here are a few pointers:  As I mentioned above, the salad should have a sharp and tangy vinaigrette.  You can make mine…or any classic shallot and Dijon heavy French-style vinaigrette.  As far as the greens go, I rarely have frisée or dandelion on hand.  I almost always have arugula though.  This adds the requisite bitterness to the salad, so I almost always include that.  Otherwise, any perky and beautiful salad green that you find at your farmer’s market should be just fine.  

(Make sure it has been washed, spun dry and chilled for a while so that it will be nice and crisp.)  If you can get 1/2-inch thick slices of bacon from the meat counter at your grocery store—and are thinking ahead (I never am)—by all means do so.  Cut them crosswise in half inch slices and you will have true lardons. Otherwise, just use thick or extra thick sliced bacon and cook so it still has a bit of chew.  And of course...make sure you use best quality, farm fresh eggs (from a local grower)—those rich, golden yolks make all the difference.  Finally, make this salad while local asparagus is abundant and delicious. 

Springtime “Salade Lyonnaise” with Asparagus & Walnuts

For one person (multiply as needed):
1 1/2 to 2 oz. (1 slice thick or extra thick bacon), cut crosswise in 1/2- to 1-inch pieces
2 to 4 oz. (trimmed weight) asparagus, cut into 2- to 3-inch lengths on a short diagonal
1/4 c. (about 1 oz.) walnuts
2 handfuls (about 2 to 2 1/2 oz.) lettuce (try to include some crisper greens as well as something a bit bitter)
1 large egg, at room temperature
Vinaigrette, to taste (below)

Place the bacon in a non-stick pan set over moderate to medium-low heat.  Cook, tossing/stirring occasionally until the fat is mostly rendered and the bacon is golden.  It should be chewy, not crisp.  Transfer to paper towels to drain and set the pan aside.

While the bacon cooks, toast the walnuts in a 350° oven until fragrant and golden—about 5 minutes.  Set aside to cool.  When cool enough to handle, break into medium pieces.  If you like, drizzle with a small amount of olive oil and season with salt.  Blanch the asparagus until just tender in a pot of boiling salted water (about 2 to 5 minutes).  Lift out and spread on towels to cool.

When the bacon, asparagus and walnuts are ready, poach the egg: add a tablespoon of vinegar to a quart of simmering water (in a heavy bottomed sauce pan).  Crack the egg into a ramekin and gently tip it into the water.  Don’t let the water boil or even really simmer.  If you have an instant read thermometer, the temperature of the water should be about 200°.  Let the egg stay in the water until the yolk is just beginning to thicken.  This should take about four minutes.  Using a slotted spoon, lift the egg out of its poaching bath and give it a gentle poke with your finger. It should be softly bouncy...but not firm…I think 4 minutes is about perfect.  (If you have never poached an egg, check out my “how to”/basics post.)

While the egg is poaching, place the greens in a bowl and season with salt & pepper.  Just before the egg is done, dress everything….drizzling with just enough of the vinaigrette to coat and tossing well with your hands.  You may dress the asparagus, walnuts and bacon separately…or add them to the bowl with the lettuce and toss everything together. If you like, you may drizzle in some of the bacon fat, too.  Mound everything on a plate, leaving a little divot in the center to hold the egg. 

When the egg is done to your liking, use a slotted spoon to lift it out of the poaching liquid.  I like to give the egg a gentle blot with a paper towel, but it isn’t strictly necessary.  Place the egg on the salad, season it with salt and pepper and drizzle a bit more vinaigrette, or bacon fat (or both) over the whole salad.  Serve right away.

  • Add 3 or 4 oz. of roasted new or fingerling potatoes to the salad.
  • Since I don’t add croutons to this version of the salad, I like to serve it with buttered toast. Choose a nice, hearty, artisanal bread for your toast.

2 T. red wine vinegar
1 T. sherry vinegar
3 to 4 T. minced shallot
2 t. Dijon mustard
1/2 to 3/4 t. Kosher salt
1/2 c. olive oil

Place the vinegars and shallots in a small bowl (or in the cup of an immersion blender if you would like a smooth, well-emulsified vinaigrette).  Let sit for 5 minutes or so to give the shallots a chance to soften.  Add the Dijon and a half teaspoon of kosher salt.  Whisk (or blend) until the Dijon is completely incorporated.  Add the oil in a thin stream while whisking (blending) constantly.  Taste and correct the seasoning with salt.  

If you made the vinaigrette with the blender, it will remain emulsified.  If you used a whisk, it will need re-whisking prior to use.  The dressing keeps well for several days in the fridge.  If it solidifies (transfer to a jar with a tight fitting lid), soften by placing the jar in a bowl of warm water.  Re-whisk before using.  

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Savory Beet Greens & Mushroom Quiche...two ways...

This spring has been for me a season of beet greens.  It started when I saw some beautiful beets at the store and suddenly realized I hadn’t had beets in a while and that I was really hungry for them.  These particular beets had beautiful tops…so I saved them and added them to a pasta (or perhaps a grain pilaf…the exact preparation escapes me now).  Then suddenly I had a couple private dinners in a row that included roasted beet salads.  So I had more beet greens—because when you buy nice beets you almost always get the greens too…which basically makes them free.  So I made more pastas and pilafs…and a fantastic soup (with pasta) that I hadn’t had in a while… 
And still there were more.  So when I came home from a class with a pastry shell left from the demonstration, I decided to make a beet greens tart.  Greens of all kinds make fantastic fillings for tarts, so a tart of nothing but the greens…shrouded in a custard and enhanced with a little onion and garlic…or bacon or sausage…would have been delicious.  But at the time I happened to have some mushrooms on hand.  I remembered a good pasta I made a year or two ago with mushrooms, greens and bread crumbs.  So I decided to turn that pasta into a tart. 

I hadn’t planned on posting the recipe—there are after all, many, many tart recipes on my blog—but this tart was the thing I decided to make again when I ended up with another windfall of beet greens.  Anytime I like something so much that I make it twice in a short span of time, it’s usually a good indication that I should post the recipe—if for no other reason than I know I will be glad I did when at some point down the road I want to make a well-liked dish again and I can’t find my notes.

Aside from selfish reasons, I thought the post would be instructive.  It is the season of greens at the markets…and people are always looking for ways to use this abundance.  This tart is a great way to do this.  Even if you don’t have beet greens:  You can of course replace the beet greens with spinach or chard…even kale (just remember to blanch kale before adding it to the pan with the onions).

The second time I made the tart I didn't really have enough of the beet greens (on the left)...
so I supplemented with a handful of spinach and a few chard leaves... 
Almost any green would be good in this tart.

But beyond the tart being a great place to use some of your greens, I had another reason to post this recipe.  The glut of beet greens continued until I had another leftover tart shell from a class—a tart shell that was a different shape.  The first tart shell was the large, almost flat, pizza style that I tend to favor (it shows off ingredients to great advantage...plus, it has a higher proportion of crust to filling…which I love).  The second was a traditional shell (baked in a removable bottom, 9-inch tart pan).  I have always told people that these two shells (the 12-inch pizza pan crust and the 9-inch standard crust) held the same amount of filling…but I think this is hard for most people to believe.  (They certainly don’t look like they would hold the same amount of filling.)  Posting this recipe is my chance to demonstrate that this is in fact true.  Both the tarts pictured in the post used exactly the same amount of vegetable filling and custard.  You can make it either way.  The traditional style will appeal to people who really think tarts are all about the filling.  The “pizza style” will appeal to those who—like me—always want more crust.

Before I close I want to make a couple of observations about the ingredients.  The first time I made the tart I used red onion and mature garlic.  When I made it the second time I had spring onions and green garlic in my pantry…so of course I used those!  You should use what you have on hand.  I have given instructions for both.   

And while on the subject of ingredients, I want to mention the rosemary.  I normally don’t make a big deal about the addition of particular herbs, because I think they fall into the category of seasoning to your preferences.  But for this recipe, if you have it—and you like it—you should include it.  It is delicious with both mushrooms and greens…and it really adds to the savory and complex flavor of this tart.  I’m sure the tart would be good without it…but it is exceptional with it.

Finally, you may have noticed in the title of the post that I have called this recipe a “quiche”…yet I have referred to it as a “tart” throughout the post.  I was going to call it a tart in the title…because it is a tart:  It’s baked in a tart pan…and the filling is cradled in a flaky pastry crust.    But it is also a quiche—a specific class of tarts in which the filling that goes into the crust is suspended in an egg custard.  I bring this up only because I was asked this very question in a class recently:  Was I making a tart? Or a quiche?  And, what exactly is it that makes something a tart or a quiche?  I then realized I had been using the words interchangeably as I taught the class…because the thing I was making happened to be both.  But of course this is not always the case.  As far as I know, all quiches are tarts.  But it is not true that all tarts are quiches since all tarts (savory or sweet filling baked in a pastry crust) don’t necessarily include custard.  So now you know the difference (if you didn’t before…).  In any case, whatever you choose to call it, I hope you will find it to be as satisfying and delicious to eat as I have.  And I also hope you will find it to be a useful way to use and enjoy the greens that are flooding the markets right now.

Beet Greens & Mushroom Quiche

Olive oil
1/2 medium red onion, finely diced, or 2 or 3 spring onions, finely sliced or minced
1 clove garlic, minced, or one stall green garlic, finely sliced or minced
A small sprig of rosemary, picked and minced (to make about 1/2 to 3/4 t. minced)
1/8 t. hot pepper flakes
5 oz. (trimmed weight—no stems or ribs) beet greens, Swiss chard or kale, rinsed in several changes of water
8 oz. crimini mushrooms, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 12-inch “pizza-style” tart shell or 1 standard 9-inch tart shell, blind baked (see below)
100 gr/3 1/2 oz. Gruyère cheese, finely grated (about a cup)
2 eggs
1 c. heavy cream
1/3 to 1/2 c. coarse, fresh breadcrumbs, tossed with a teaspoon of melted butter
salt & pepper

Film a wide sauté pan set over moderate heat with olive oil. If you using red onions and mature garlic, add the onions along with a pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally until the onions are tender and beginning to become golden at the edges. Add the garlic, rosemary and pepper flakes and cook until fragrant. If using spring onions and green garlic, add the onions and garlic to the pan along with a pinch of salt and cook until tender and translucent. Add the pepper flakes and rosemary and cook until fragrant. The red onion base will probably take about 15 minutes…the spring onion base will take less time—perhaps 5 minutes or so. For both kinds of onions, regulate the heat as necessary to allow the mixtures to sizzle gently, reducing the heat if the onions threaten to scorch. If the pan ever looks dry, drizzle in a bit more oil.

When the onions are cooked, add the greens. If using beet greens or chard, add them a handful at a time, turning with tongs to coat them in the fat and expose them to the heat and adding more as they begin to collapse. If the greens were recently washed, there should be enough water clinging to them to create steam and help them cook…if they were washed ahead (or spun dry) you may need to add a few tablespoons of water to the pan. Cover the pan and cook until the greens are tender. Uncover and continue to cook until any liquid has evaporated. Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside in a warm spot. 

If using kale, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the kale and cook until tender (about 7 minutes). Lift the kale out and spread on a baking sheet to cool. When cool enough to handle, squeeze out the excess water. Add the cooked kale to the onion mixture and cook gently for a few minutes to infuse the greens with the flavor of the onions. Set aside.

While the greens cook, sauté the mushrooms: Depending on the size of your pan, you may need to sauté in batches—don't overcrowd the pan. Heat a sauté pan (non-stick, if you have one) over high heat. Add oil to coat the pan (a tablespoon or so), then add the mushrooms. Cook, shaking the pan occasionally, until the mushrooms are browned, tender and any liquid that they have given off has evaporated. If they seem dry at any time as they cook, drizzle in a bit more oil. Transfer the mushrooms to a plate and season with salt & pepper. When the greens are cooked, add the mushrooms to the greens. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 375°. Place the baked crust on a baking sheet. Scatter about 2/3 of the cheese over the baked crust. Scatter the greens and mushrooms over all. Whisk together the eggs and the cream. Season with salt and pepper—and a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg if you like.

Slowly pour the custard over the vegetables, jiggling the pan a bit so the custard will be evenly distributed and will penetrate the vegetables. Be careful not to let the custard flow over the edge.

If there are any low places in the edge of your crust, you will not be able to use it all. Scatter the remaining cheese over the tart, followed by the buttered breadcrumbs. Bake the tart until the custard is set—about 20 minutes for the pizza-style tart, 25 for the traditional (a knife inserted in the center will come out clean). Slide the tart under the broiler to brown slightly if you like. Serves 6 as an entrée (with a salad or vegetable side), 8 to 10 as a light first course with a fluff of lightly dressed greens.

Pâte Brisée
(Short Crust Pastry)

For a 12- to 13-inch “pizza-style” crust
1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour (200g)
1/2 t. salt
11 T. cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces (150g)
1/4 to 1/3 c. ice water

For a 9- to 10-inch tart shell

1 1/3 c. all-purpose flour (150g)
3/8 t. salt
8 T. cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces (113g)
3 to 4 T. ice water

Combine the flour and the salt in a medium-sized bowl.  Rub the butter into the flour until the butter is in small pea-sized pieces. Drizzle the smaller measure of ice water over the flour/butter mixture.  Using your hands, fluff the mixture until it begins to clump, adding more water if necessary.  Turn the dough out onto a counter and form into a mound.  Using the heel of your hand, gradually push all of the dough away from you in short forward strokes, flattening out the lumps.  Continue until all of the dough is flat.  Using a bench scraper, scrape the dough off the counter, forming it into a single clump as you do.  Form the finished dough into a thick disk.  Chill for at least 30 minutes.

To roll out, let dough warm up for a moment or two.  Butter/spray the a pan and set it aside.  Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface into a circle that is about 1/8- to 1/6–inch thick and with a diameter 2 to 3 inches larger than that of the pan.  Trim any ragged edges.  Brush off the excess flour and fold the dough circle in half.  Transfer it to the prepared pan.  Unfold the dough and ease it into the pan being careful not to stretch it.  Fold the edges to form a ½-inch rim of a double thickness of dough for the pizza-style crust.  For the traditional tart pan, simply press the dough against the sides of the pan (being sure not to stretch the dough) and cut the dough off flush with the edge of the tart pan.  Chill for at least 30 minutes.

To blind bake, line the pastry with aluminum foil or parchment paper, pressing it into the corners and edges.  Add a layer of pie weights or dried beans.  Bake in a 400° to 425° oven for 20 to 25 minutes.  When the pastry begins to color on the edges and is cooked through, remove the foil and weights and continue baking until the pastry dries out and turns a golden brown (another 5 minutes or so).

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