Forgive my unintentional absence of the past few weeks. A new menu was launched at the restaurant where I’m doing my internship. Then the fridge broke and the kitchen was rearranged and everything got a little crazy from there.
But more than that, I have to admit, spending all day in a kitchen, with the fans over the stove going non-stop, along with the late hours of my new shifts, I haven’t had much time to cook. I eat most of my meals at the restaurant these days. Left over vegetables and pan-cooked potatoes, the occasional pork chop or cut of beef. And at very odd hours like 11 am or 6 pm, and I find myself snacking on whatever I can put together quickly when home.
Things are winding down. I have only eight more days with the restaurant, and though I’m excited to be moving on and starting my next internship with a winery in Saumur, I have mixed feelings about leaving the restaurant. The chefs have become my friends, the work has been hard yet extremely interesting and though I’m on my feet all the time, still wandering through the back room wide-eyed wondering what the heck is going on, I occasionally can’t help but consider this for a career.
It’s a tough choice to make… I’m not sure how much more schooling I can put myself
In the meantime, though I spend my time at the restaurant making desserts – or parts of desserts – when I come home and do have the time to cook I crave fruits and veg. Maybe it’s the scents of chocolate, butter and cream that stick to my skin.
Mid to late spring is a good time for new potatoes, fresh lettuce, radishes and green beans. My mouth waters when I see them at the market, still crusty with dirt and begging to be made into a salad.
I made this on my “weekend” (read: Monday) which coincided with a day off my husband had from teaching. Latkes or potato pancakes (depending on your Jewish background or lack thereof) are so easy to make and are a welcome change from your mashed or baked potato. I don’t have a particularly special recipe, or much of a recipe at all, I usually eyeball it and hope for the best – being rarely disappointed. Arugula or rocket lettuce are the best kinds to use here as their slight bitter bite adds to the sweetness of the cooked potatoes and onions, and blends well with the fresh radishes. As the latkes or potato pancakes heat up the salad underneath, the lettuce won’t wilt sadly but only warm up, bringing out more flavor.
A crazy vinaigrette is not necessary here. All you need is some olive oil, salt, pepper and lemon. Don’t hide the flavor of the salmon, the potatoes or the green beans. A small spoon of crème fraiche would be a nice addition but I like to serve it with a mild goat’s cheese on a slice of bread on the side.
Let’s hope with a fresh recipe I can cook up some fresh inspiration and tell you more about the end of my internship and the impending move to Saumur, along with more recipes of course.
- ¾-1lb potatoes
- ½ yellow onion, minced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 egg
- 2 tbsp flour
- salt and pepper
- oil for frying
- 4 slices smoked salmon
- rocket lettuce or arugula, rinsed
- ½ onion, minced
- 7-8 radishes, rinsed and sliced thin
- handful of spring string green beans, trimmed
- Fresh lemon juice
- olive oil
- salt and pepper
- For the latkes: Peel and wash your potatoes, then finely grate them in a food processor. In a large bowl beat your egg and add the onion and garlic, then potatoes. Toss lightly to coat the potatoes, add salt, pepper, and flour and lightly toss again. I usually just use my hands.
- Line a large plate or platter with paper towels to soak up the excess oil. Heat a large frying pan with oil. Once the oil starts to bubble, scoop up some of the potato mixture and squeeze out excess moisture. Again I use my hands for this, and make a flat pancake as thin as possible. Place in the pan and fry for about 5 minutes on each side or until dark golden brown. When flipping with a spatula press the pancakes down to flatten and to press out any moisture left behind. Put on the paper-towel lined platter and continue frying the latkes until all the mixture is gone.
- For the salad: Boil salted water in a medium-sized pot. Once the water has reached a rolling boil add the green beans. Wait for the water come back to a boil and let cook for about 5 minutes. You can cook them longer if you like, but I suggest keeping the cooking time short to keep a crunch in the beans. Strain the beans and run under cold water to cool.
- In a large salad bowl combine all the lettuce, onions, sliced radishes and green beans. Add salt, pepper, coriander, lemon and olive oil to taste and mix – once again I just use my hands.
- Plate the salad first. Top with the latkes and then the smoked salmon. Let the latkes warm the salad if you wish before serving. A white, citrus wine like Reisling, Muscadet or Sauvignon Blanc.