When the Side Dish is the Star

Broccoli Potato Puree from Paris 1 3718x2885When I am eating out, iIt’s not often that I pay more attention to a side dish than to the main course or dessert. But, during our last week in Paris this January that is exactly what happened. At the left bank Café Varenne on rue du Bac, I ordered a roasted bass with a broccoli and potato puree. It was the fish on the menu that had sounded so delicious, but it was the simple vegetable garnish that grabbed my attention.

The light green puree flecked with bits of verdant broccoli was smooth, light, and perfectly seasoned. When our waiter passed by later, I didn’t waste time asking him how it was prepared. He explained that both cooked yellow-fleshed potatoes and broccoli florets were puréed, and then enriched with a modest amount (for the French!) of crème fraîche and butter. Très facile, I thought! Continue reading

Corned Beef and Roasted Cabbage with a New Twist!

A few years ago I wrote about one of my assistants who asked me for help with a SaintCorned Beef with Roasted Cabbage and Potatoes 1 Patrick’s Day menu. She was anxious to update her usual main course of corned beef and cabbage, so I offered a few suggestions. Why not roast the cabbage and the potatoes instead of boiling them with the corned beef? I also proposed that the meat be cooked with a medley of root vegetables and herbs to enhance its taste.

These small changes resulted in delicious results. After several hours of simmering, the corned beef is fork tender and beautifully infused (just like a French pot au feu) with the flavor of carrots, onions, and celery. The cabbage, cut into large strips, is sautéed, then roasted until tender and lightly browned. Red-skin potatoes wedges, baked alongside the cabbage, are golden on the outside and tender beneath. Continue reading

Fall Potato Salad with Smoked Trout and Green Beans

It’s definitely not too late to plan a picnic when the cool, crisp days of autumn arrive. In New England where I live the exquisite fall foliage  is reason enough to plan an outdoor meal.  You can also pair an autumn picnic with a special activity. Plan a hike or organize a biking excursion, then follow that with a delicious al fresco spread. And for football fans, what’s more appropriate than a scrumptious tailgate picnic.

A delectable potato salad studded with slivers of smoked trout and sliced green beans makes a colorful centerpiece for an open air menu. This trio of ingredients is tossed in a white wine Continue reading

Potato Salad with Chorizo and Chives

This potato salad is a new and delicious twist on tradition. Small red skin potatoes, boiled in their skins, then quartered, and chopped hard-boiled eggs form the base, and are accented by bits of chorizo, a smoked Spanish sausage available in many supermarkets. It is the chorizo with its subtle smokiness that makes this potato salad so distinctive. These three ingredients are tossed together in a mustard and shallot vinaigrette, then sprinkled with snipped chives. Continue reading

Warm Roasted Vegetable Salad

This versatile salad, which looks quite distinctive, but is simple to assemble, can be used as a starter or a side. You can vary the vegetables, but make certain that you coordinate the roasting times of your produce accordingly.For this version sliced carrots, white turnip wedges, and quartered baby Yukons are roasted for half an hour, while sugar snaps and green onions need only about 10 minutes. The vinaigrette dressing can be whisked together and the vegetables roasted several hours ahead so there’s no last minute prep. Continue reading