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Salade Niçoise


Salad.  The word is ripe with meanings.  Could be dessert, breakfast, a hearty meal, a light spring side, could be greens and a little dressing or contain nothing green at all…might be the whole meal or just a nibble to whet your appetite.  I’m a big fan of savory salads that have intention, I love a composed salad, have a sweet spot for any salad with a hit of protein, and of course…add olives to anything and I’m in!

A niçoise salad hits every mark and is easily made almost any time of year!

This recipe comes from Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan.  I first learned about this book via NPR and The Splendid Table with Lynn Rossetto Kasper who interviewed Dorie.  However, this salad hardly needs a recipe at all (but I posted it below).

We were inspired to make a niçoise after reading a Cook’s Illustrated review of canned tuna focusing not only on taste but also on sustainability and ethics of the company.  American Tuna came out on top…and when we spotted it while grocery shopping…we knew just what we would be making with it.

The tuna is worth the additional cost and the quality is outstanding.

Recipe (courtesy of Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan)

8-12 small potatoes, scrubbed
2  5 to 6 oz. cans tuna packed in oil, drained
4 tomatoes, cut into chunks or 20 grape tomatoes, halved
3/4 lb. green beans, trimmed
4 hard-boiled eggs
about 20 Niçoise olives, pitted
2 tbsps. capers, drained and patted dry
8 anchovies, rinsed and patted dry (we skipped the anchovies)
4-6 handfuls of bibb lettuce
1 shallot, finely chopped
olive oil
light vinegar or lemon juice
chopped fresh parsley for garnish
salt and freshly ground pepper

Since it was just the two of us, we halved the recipe and the portions were very generous!

Start by cooking the potatoes in boiling and salted water.  You’ll want to cook the potatoes whole, they will hold their shape and look crisper for the salad.  Depending on the size, they should take between 10-15 minutes…and I would err on the shorter side.  You can test the doneness by piercing one of the potatoes with a paring knife.

We happen to have some hard-boiled eggs on hand from earlier in the week, but if they are not a standard in your fridge…go ahead and hard boil the eggs using your preferred method and make sure they have time to cool down before peeling and quartering them.  Depending on the size of tomato you use, quarter or half the tomatoes.

The green beans need only a very quick blanch in salted boiling water and a quick cool-off in some ice water.  Once you have all your ingredients ready to go – it’s time to pull it all together.  Mix up the dressing…a little olive oil, shallots and vinegar seasoned with salt and pepper.

Toss the lettuce with the dressing and pile high on the plate and then top with all the fixings…in whatever fashion grabs you in the moment.  Open a lovely crisp bottle of white wine to cut through the oil of the tuna, olives and anchovies and the salt of the capers and olives and you’ve got dinner on the table!

Bon Appétit!

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Pheasant & Waffles


Every year should start with pheasant!

{or at least something that looks this delectable!}

and waffles…and herbs…and…all manner of delicious things, really!

Although this was not the first meal of 2012…it is worthy of the first post!  It all began back in November of 2011…actually, to really get to the beginning…we have to go back to July 21, 2006…

That’s the day I officially became a gun owner (having never in my life , thought that I would own a gun!)  The next day I got married…and soon(ish) I put that gun to use and became a (bird) hunter.  Let’s not get carried away here…I’m no Ted Nugent…however, I do believe that you should be honest about your relationship with food and be willing to (at least once) participate directly in acquiring meat  for you table that normally comes cleanly packaged with nary a hint of it’s life before Styrofoam, refrigeration and shipping.

While we are being honest…my husband was the hunter who shot the birds for this meal…and our dog is the one who joyfully retrieved them for us…I just cooked them up and took a lot of photos!

We visited family over the Thanksgiving break and spent some time near Heber, UT…the weather was brisk but certainly not cold!  Woody skipped out on a morning of thanksgiving prep and took Cleo (our Braque Français (French Pointer) bird-dog) out to the plains on the south-west side of Utah Valley to hunt for pheasant.  He returned smiling with a couple of birds.

Cleo rested in the sun-warmed truck while Woody took to ‘breasting’ the birds.  Essentially cutting the skin at the breast bone and exposing both breasts and cutting them out without having to pluck the bird as the feathers make it a very messy process.

I think feathers are one of nature’s great beauties…so intricate, light, complex and impressive!

Woody started with a hen.

Then moved on to the rooster pheasant – much more brightly colored.

Pheasants are stunning and happen to taste delicious as well!

This is Pippa very interested in the bird, but not quite sure what to do with it.

Now Golden Retrievers normally retrieve, but Molly, Pippa and Sam have not had opportunities to do so other than with their balls and toys…and that is more for the fun of it than for any real purpose.  Woody was attempting to coerce a retrieval out of at least one of the gold squadron…but it was not a show-stopping performance.  All dogs got very excited at the prospect of something being thrown…and would go right to it…and then sniff and look up confused as to what was supposed to happen next.  Urban retrievers…what are you going to do???…really!

Fast forward a day or so…after gorging ourselves with thanksgiving dinner and playing some cranium late into the evening, the cooking begins!

Start with sautéed onions (never a bad idea)!

Luckily, there were still odds and ends of unused vegetables from the turkey day feast!  Rough-chopped mushrooms – throw them in the pan as well…

Let those soften and cook down a bit, I think I de-glazed the pan with a bit of white wine and some water, and then go ahead and add the smattering of herbs!

Sage and thyme!

I added some heavy cream si it could be gin to thicken and reduce while the pheasant and the waffles get cooking.

The pheasants resulted in a wonderful little nuggets with a few larger breast pieces…which were kept wrapped in wax paper in an unsealed ziplock in the fridge in between being extracted from the birds and making to the hot pan.

Each piece was salted and peppered and coated in seasoned flour.

Knock off any excess flour and place in a hot pan with melted butter and a little oil to increase the smoke point.

Don’t crowd the pan…it’ll cool off to quickly and the breast won’t brown properly.

Continue to check on the ‘gravy’ to make sure it doesn’t thicken up too much.

Waffles were already on the menu for the morning…and the batter was nicely balanced – not too fluffy or sweet.  Start making waffles!

Here’s the kicker…start cooking a fried egg.  In butter.   (you’ll thank me later)

Check on gravy!

Here is where the fun really begins.

1.  Put crispy, toasty waffle on plate.

2.  Top with fried egg (yolk still soft).

3.  Place delicious pheasant breast on top of egg and waffle.

4.  Spoon herby, onion mushroom creamy gravy over the top.

5.  Top with sprigs of fresh herbs!

Voila!

{you know you want to eat this!} {now…right now!!!}

{drool}

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