Category Archives: impressionism

Potato and Green Bean Salad with Herbs

Potato and Green Bean Salad with Herbs

Alexandre Dumas in his Grand Dictionnaire de cuisine (Great Dictionary of Cuisine) of 1873 wrote that the potato “provides real nourishment and is not only healthful but inexpensive.”

2 pounds small waxy potatoes
6 ounces haricots verts
½ cup scallions, chopped
½ cup chopped tarragon and parsley
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, minced
½ cup red wine vinegar
½ cup olive oil
salt and pepper

Place the potatoes in a large saucepan and add enough cold water to more than cover them. Generously salt the water and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the potatoes are easily pierced with the tip of a sharp paring knife, 15 to 20 minutes, depending on their size. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the potatoes to a colander placed in the sink and let cool.

Bring the water in the saucepan back to a boil. Add the green beans and cook for about 2 minutes, until the beans are bright green and almost tender yet still retain a little crispness. Fill a large bowl halfway with ice water. Using a slotted spoon, scoop the green beans from the boiling water to the ice water and let them chill for a minute or so. Drain the beans and pat them dry.

When the potatoes are still warm but cool enough to touch, slice about ¼-inch thick. Cut the green beans into 1-inch pieces. Put the potatoes, green beans, and herbs in a large bowl and gently toss.

Make a vinaigrette by whisking the mustard, garlic, vinegar, and oil in a small bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Gently mix some of the vinaigrette into the potato and green bean mixture. Taste and adjust with more salt or vinaigrette as desired. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Serves 6 to 8

Green Olive Tapenade

green-olive-tapenade

Green Olive Tapenade

A table laden with appetizers is typical of Provence, and olive tapenade was a favorite of Paul Cezanne’s.

2 cups green olives, pitted
1 1/3 cup almonds
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons lemon juice
½ cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
½ cup olive oil
salt

Put the pitted olives, almonds, garlic, and lemon juice, in the bowl of a food processor.

Coarsely chop the basil leaves, add them to the processor, and pulse the machine a few times to start breaking them down.

Add the olive oil and a pinch of salt. Pulse until the mixture forms a coarse paste. Serve with sliced, toasted baguette. (The tapenade will keep for up to 1 week in the refrigerator.)

Serves 6 to 8

photo by Carin Krasner

Chocolate Pots de Creme

chocolate-pots-de-creme

Chocolate Pots de Creme

The “food of the gods,” chocolate is native to Mexico where it was consumed by priests and nobility as an unsweetened foamy drink. The Aztecs prepared a highly spiced beverage called xocoatl, with cocoa beans that were roasted, pounded in a mortar and flavored with chiles, vanilla, annatto, and sometimes honey and dried flowers. (Emperor Moctezuma is said to have consumed 50 cups of chocolate a day because he believed it made him more charming and attractive to women.)

Chocolate was introduced to Europe in the 16th century and for centuries it was consumed exclusively by the aristocracy and bourgeoisie as a hot drink. The Spanish and French courts that added sugar, milk and exotic flavorings to it. It was first used for baking in 18th century England. Chocolate in 19th century France was most closely associated with la cuisine bourgeoisie and with the bistros, where chocolate pots de crème would appear on practically every menu.

For the pudding:
2 ¼ cups whole milk
½ cup sugar
pinch salt
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
5 ounces bittersweet or dark chocolate chips
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
crème Chantilly, for serving

For the crème Chantilly:
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a medium saucepan, combine 2 cups of the milk with ¼ cup of the sugar and the salt and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat.

In a medium bowl, whisk the cornstarch with the cocoa powder and the remaining ¼ cup of sugar until blended. Add the remaining ¼ cup of milk and whisk until smooth. Whisk this mixture into the hot milk in the saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, whisking constantly, until the pudding is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 2 minutes.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg with the egg yolks. Gradually whisk about 1 cup of the hot cocoa pudding into the eggs until thoroughly incorporated, then scrape the pudding back into the saucepan. Cook the pudding over moderate heat, whisking constantly, until it just comes to boil, about 2 minutes.

Strain the pudding into a medium heatproof bowl. Add the chocolate chips, butter and vanilla and whisk until the chocolate and butter are melted and incorporated and the pudding is smooth, about 2 minutes.

Transfer the pudding to six 6-ounce ramekins and refrigerate until chilled. Serve with lightly whipped cream dusted with cocoa powder. (The chocolate pudding can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 4 days.)

Prepare the crème Chantilly. In a large mixing bowl, beat the heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla extract together on high speed until soft peaks form in the mixture.

Serves 6

photo credit: Carin Krasner

Potatoes Braised in Butter

parisian-potatoes

Potatoes Braised in Butter

Native to Peru, potatoes were an important part of the French diet during the 19th century and are still widely eaten today. Urbain Dubois features 44 potato recipes in his La cuisine classique. In his dictionary of food, Alexander Dumas writes of the potato, “This excellent vegetable was brought fro Virginia by the English admiral Walter Raleigh in 1585, and has since then preserved people from famine.” He goes on to say that the potato is not only healthy, but also inexpensive.

3 pounds baby Yukon gold potatoes
salt and pepper
3 cups chicken stock
3 tablespoons butter
2 to 3 tablespoons chopped parsley

Place the potatoes in a deep skillet and season generously with salt and pepper.

Cover potatoes halfway with chicken stock, about 3 cups, add the butter and cover skillet with a lid. Cook the potatoes in the stock until almost tender, about 5 to 8 minutes, depending upon the size of the potatoes.

Remove the lid and allow the stock to evaporate, about another 5 minutes.

Once the stock has evaporated pop each potato using a ladle or large spoon, creating a small crack in each, but do not smash. Allow the potatoes to brown on each side, another 5 minutes, taste and adjust seasoning.

Remove the browned potatoes from the skillet and place onto a serving platter, garnished with the parsley.

Serves 6

Adapted from Jacques Pepin
photo credit: Carin Krasner