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Confession time. I don’t usually eat salads. I don’t really like them. I’ve never been a big fan of greens, and since they make up the majority of most salads, I tend to avoid them. However, I will eat a salad (especially a Caesar salad) every so often, but usually only if it’s made by someone else. As much as I don’t like to eat salads, I like making them even less. So I faced this week’s Dorie recipe without any expectations of enjoying it at all.
And, honestly, I didn’t enjoy it. At all. The salad itself was easy to make: a Granny Smith apple, white mushrooms, and pre-shredded cabbage (no celery, because ew). It took maybe ten minutes to get everything sliced, chopped, and/or dumped out of a bag. As the name suggests, it’s white. Well, the cabbage was a little green, and the mushrooms had the brown gills, but otherwise, it was pretty bland-looking. But that’s the idea. An all-white salad doesn’t promise much else, does it.
Then I set about to making the dressing, and it took 30 minutes to do. In theory, it’s simple: an egg yolk and a bit of Greek yogurt are whisked together while gradually (very gradually) adding olive oil. Then some lemon juice. Then more olive oil. Then more Greek yogurt. This would have all been a lot faster if I’d just used the food processor to do it, but that would mean more cleaning, and I like to avoid more cleaning when I can. I whisked the dressing together, and the next day, the knuckles on my right forefinger were tender to the touch. And after all that, the dressing wasn’t even that interesting. It was okay, but it was not, in my opinion, worth 30 minutes of effort and sore knuckles.
In the end, I was as unimpressed with this salad as I thought I would be, and that made me a little sad. I’d been hoping that I’d be wrong and that it would be a good salad. Maybe not a great salad (have I ever had a great salad that didn’t involve breaded chicken? probably not), but a good salad. It wasn’t even that. It felt like a chore to eat it. Geordie was just as unimpressed as I was.
It probably didn’t help that we had some great meals this week. This was definitely the low point, uninteresting in both appearance and flavor. That was part of the problem. It’s not that the salad is inherently bad. It’s just boring, for lack of a better word. I usually love mushrooms, but they didn’t stand out here. Granny Smith apples don’t do anything for me, and they didn’t do anything for this salad either. A little bit of sweetness might actually have improved this salad a bit, but you’re not going to get that from Granny Smiths. And it still wouldn’t help the lackluster dressing. Geordie and I both felt that the salad had nothing to offer other than the uniqueness of being a salad almost entirely sapped of color.
This will probably be the last salad I make for a long, long time.
Check out the Dorista links to see their all-white salads from Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table. Looking forward to next week’s crepes – now that should be an interesting experience, no matter how it turns out! Happy cooking!
Once again this week, I took the road of least resistance. Instead of beouf à la ficelle (beef on a string), I made hachis Parmentier. I did this for two big reasons (and a third smaller one): it was less expensive, and Geordie and I could eat it all on our own. The third reason is that I could make a “quick” version of the hachis Parmentier by using store-bought beef stock, but then it was suggested by other Doristas that the beef on a string could also be made simpler by doing that. I do want to make the beef on a string, but not at the beginning of February. It would suit us better as a splurge meal, one for guests who can keep Hannah occupied while I’m making bouillon and who can also appreciate the effort and the awesomeness of a good cut of beef. So, Christmas, probably. I look forward to it!
But for the beginning of February, I would prefer something cheaper and less showy. Not that the hachis Parmentier was not lovely to look at. But its strong point is definitely its satisfying nature. It’s a dish that’s made for mid-winter. It is, after all, comprised almost entirely of meat and potatoes.
Sausage and beef are heated together on the stove (andouille sausage and ground beef for us). A little beef broth is added to moisten the meat, and then it’s simply placed in a greased casserole dish. This is covered with a generous layer of mashed potatoes decadently mixed with butter, cream, and Gruyère cheese. And into the oven it goes. When it comes back out, the Parmesan-topped potatoes are golden and slightly burnt (in an awesome, delicious way), and everything smells meaty and wonderful.
I mean, really. Is there anything else you could want from this?
Well, some vegetable matter would be good. While the hachis Parmentier baked, I sauteed some asparagus to serve with it. The greenery matched nicely with the heavier meat and potatoes, adding freshness in addition to some color. A nice, homey meal, all things considered.
We really liked how this turned out. Plenty of meat-and-potatoes for Geordie, plenty of flavor and satisfaction for me. I love these kinds of dishes, cozy comfort foods meant to warm a cold winter’s night. I’d be happy to make this a regular dish for February, a month which I am not overly fond of. Maybe meals like this will make it seem a little bit better. I’d like to try making the bouillon next time, because it does sound pretty awesome, and that kind of thing interests me.
So, even though I did not get to indulge with beef on a string (yet), it all worked out in the end, because this was definitely worth making. Will definitely be keeping this one in mind when I’m looking for a good winter meal!
To see how boeuf à la ficelle should be done, check out the Dorista links. Happy cooking!
Although I am a big fan of seafood, mussels were never much on my radar until I was about halfway through college. My best friend Heather introduced me to them. I did not pay particular attention to how she prepped or cooked them because, at that time, I was far more interested in just eating food than making it. That didn’t come until later. Although I had mussels with Heather a couple of times, I never thought to eat them on my own or even order them while out at restaurants. My loss.
This is my third time making mussels, the second time from Around My French Table. They almost didn’t get made. It’s a long story involving sleeping in and not driving Geordie to work (we only have one car), so suffice to say that my husband is awesome, and he went grocery-shopping for me after work and brought home mussels. I love him.
Mussels don’t require much attention, which makes them my favorite shellfish to prepare (lobster would be my favorite shellfish to eat, but not only are they expensive, I still haven’t quite figured out how to dismantle them as quickly or efficiently as Heather does). After scrubbing and de-bearding them, they get thrown in a pot with some cooking broth for a few minutes. Done. Eat immediately. Yay!
I admit, I’m still taking some shortcuts in the kitchen, and I probably will be for a while yet to come. I found a bag of frozen Israeli couscous and spinach at Target, and that served as our side dish. I thought it went well with the mussels, but Geordie felt that the “spinach was too overpowering.” It might not have been the best choice of a side dish for these amazing mussels, but it worked for me. The mussels were clearly the stars of this meal anyway.
These mussels. Oh, man. These mussels made me want to have mussels once a week.
It’s pretty simple, especially when you don’t do the onion and the shallots (ew and ew). Olive oil to start, followed by a quick saute of garlic. White wine, a little lemon zest, some seasoning (mmm, thyme), and that’s all. Bring to boil. Dump in mussels. Cover, simmer, (stick frozen bag of side dish in microwave), stir, sit, done. Some of the mussels maybe could have used a little more cooking time, but not so many that it ruined the meal. We had plenty of mussels and plenty of broth, which was soaked up nicely by slices of French baguette.
Bonus: after removing a dozen mussels from their shells and mixing them into my Israeli couscous, I was able to hold Hannah and eat at the same time. She enjoyed this, alternating her time between staring at my food and staring at Geordie across the table.
I really enjoyed these mussels – we both did. Moules marinière is a classic French preparation, and it proves why the classics are often the best. There’s nothing particularly fancy here, and what resulted was a nice, homey dish enjoyed with a couple glasses of white wine. I don’t make mussels very often, but when I do from now on, this will probably be my preferred way of cooking them.
To see how the other Doristas feel about this classic dish, check out their links. Happy cooking!