Menu: Sausages, Tossed Potatoes, Baby Leek Salad
I have a blank booklet I call the Food Book. In it I write down the stuff I bring home from the Saturday Farmers Market, so I can see what we have that’s fresh. We have two vegetable crispers in our undersized refrigerator (renter’s remorse), but they are themselves undersized, and even so, stuff can get lost in there.
I don’t need the Food Book to know that I bought some fine young leeks at the Mariquita Farm stand. They were my buy of the day, something new in season that makes me want to create something. Today is the day. What to do? I took a look at French Women Don’t Get Fat, a wonderful book by Mareille Guiliano. She’s a big fan of leeks, but she didn’t have a recipe to tickle my fancy. On to the ol’ standby, Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse Vegetables. There’s a nice Baby Leek Salad there, I’ll go with that.
But that’s not dinner!
I’ve had a hankering for what I call tossed potatoes; potatoes that I julienne “matchstick size” with a plastic “mandolin” that I got at the California State Fair shortly after we moved here. I call the potatoes tossed, because I really perfected the dish by watching Jacques Pepin on TV, who showed me how to toss vegetables in a skillet. Fry and toss, never touch them with a spoon. This is greatly aided by my 10-inch Le Creuset non-stick skillet, a prize possession.
Start with a little butter and olive oil over medium heat, add raw potatoes and onions, let sizzle a little, toss, and toss again from time to time and by the time they’re soft, they’re nice and creamy and oniony and a little crusty on the outside. I toss in a little thyme, salt and pepper along the way, and maybe a little white Worcestershire sauce or Franks Red Hot sauce if I’m in that moodâ€”this day, I was.
So that’s that. I’ve got ham and hanger steak and sausages on hand. The hanger steak I’ll do another day. There’s a great recipe in Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook for hanger steak that makes a lovely pan sauce, but these potatoes don’t need a sauce. The sausages are appealing; the dark ones are Lamb Sausage Cured With Red Wine, the others, Hot Italian, both made at Golden Gate Meat Company in the Ferry Building.
Would I be writing about this if the meal wasn’t great? In fact, I wrote most of it before cooking, my mouth watering all over the keyboard in anticipation. And the meal was great. The wine is a Mahoney Vineyards 2003 Pinot Noir, Swan Selection Clone, which we received from the Carneros Creek wine club on that very day (they send limited production stuff to their members at good prices). Excellent.
Baby Leek Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette
Adapted from Chez Panisse Vegetables by Alice Waters
She starts with 24 baby leeks, so there was a bit of adapting to do. With our four lovely leeks, somewhat larger than “very small,” we halved the vinaigrette and kept the leftover for another day.
4 to 8 baby leeks
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons light olive oil
1 hard-cooked egg
Trim off the roots and the dark green tops of the leeks. Split them lengthwise through the greens and partway through the white part. Rinse and soak in cold water to loosen any residual dirt. Cook the leeks in a large sauté pan of salted boiling water until tender, about 8 minutes. Drain well and wrap in a clean towel dry and hold for serving.
Prepare a vinaigrette: Peel and dice the shallot very fine and put in a bowl with the mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper. Let sit for 5 minutes and whisk in the olive oil. Arrange the leeks on two plates, drizzle with the vinaigrette and sprinkle with the parsley and crumbled egg.