It's not late spring. I'm late. It's Spring. And I'm taking a break.
I’m three days late. Well, two full days plus a few hours late. A good part of that is because I almost didn’t send an email this week. I put together a menu that I hoped would work as a spring holiday meal. Then I dropped a couple fo dishes because they just didn’t work all that well.
Then I just couldn’t seem to write about it.
I stared at my screen for hours. Pretty much nothing. Even writing the instructions was a struggle. Writer’s block is real.
So I’m writing about not writing. The cooking comes naturally – I want food so I make it – but the writing, well that’s a different story. Today it’s a story without an ending.
What it comes down to is that this is a very abbreviated version of The Weekly Menu, and it will be the last one for a few weeks.
I’m taking a little break, a little time to get a few more menus in the hopper, to think about new ideas, and well … maybe to think about how to get writing again.
Those of you who’re paid subscribers won’t be charged while I’m away, and of course all of you can always access the archives for recipes and commentary and smartassery and bad spelling.
Potato and Chive Croquettes
After cooking these a few times in the last week, I debated including them in the menu – not because they’re not freakin’ great (they are, in fact, freakin’ great) but because with this exception the entire menu could be served cold. These … well, they could be served cold, but that would sort of defeat the purpose of having deep fried sticks of cheesy gooey soft mashed potatoes in the first place.
Of course, you’re reading this, so I’ve obviously included them. Because they’re freakin’ great.
2 large russet potatoes
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp finely chopped chives
1 cup shredded gruyere, swiss, or other similar cheese
1/8 tsp grated nutmeg
1 tsp kosher salt
1 large egg
1 cup toasted breadcrumbs
1 cup AP Flour
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp Herbs de Provence
Neutral Oil for frying
Peel, trim, and cut the potatoes into 1-inch pieces.
Add the potatoes, the salt, and enough water to cover them, to a large pan over medium heat.
Bring to a low simmer and cook until the potatoes are very tender.
Drain the potatoes well.
Add the butter, and cheese, and using a whisk or potato masher, process until as smooth as possible.
Allow the potatoes to cool to room temperature.
Fold in the chives and nutmeg.
Place the potato mixture in a sealed container and chill for at least 4 hours.
Add 1 tsp kosher salt and 1 tsp Herbs de Provence to a spice grinder or mortar and pestle. Process until the herbs are very fine.
Mix the salt/herb mixture and the breadcrumbs.
Set up a three step breading station by placing the flour on one plate, whisking the egg with 2 tbsp of water in a bowl, and spreading the breadcrumb mixture on the third place.
Remove the potato mixture from the refrigerator.
With damp hands, roll the potato mixture into cylinders ½ inch thick and 3-4 inches long.
Dip the potato cylinders into the flour, then the egg wash, and finally the breadcrumbs.
Arrange the breaded cylinders on a plate or sheet pan, and refrigerate for 1 hour – this allows the breading to hydrate and stick better.
Bring your fryer, or a large thick bottomed pan with frying oil, to 350°F.
Working in batches, fry the potato cylinders until brown and crisp.
Pan Roasted Carrots with Lemon Beurre Blanc
Roasted young carrots are one of the great treats of spring. They’re sweet and crunchy and herbaceous and I’ve already made them for this newsletter at least four different ways. This is, in some ways, the simplest. They’re simply salted, roasted, and topped with one of the simplest sauces I know – a beurre blanc made by emulsifying lemon juice into melted butter. I spike the sauce with the minced carrot tops for a little color and added flavor and then garnish them with a little finely diced raw orange carrot and a scattering of sumac for color.
That’s really it. One top, purple carrots stain everything. Keep them separate until you plate them.
2 bunches multicolored, tops on, baby carrots – some tops reserved
4 tbsp unsalted butter
Juice of one lemon
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp Xanthan Gum (opt)
Preheat your oven to 400°F. (or you can use an air fryer at 350°F)
Peel and trim the carrots, reserving some of the top for garnish.
Season the carrots with salt.
Roast until just barely soft – larger carrots will take longer – about 30 minutes.
Cut the butter into small cubes.
Add the lemon juice , a pinch of salt, and a table spoon of water to a pan over medium heat.
As soon as the lemon water is simmering, turn off the heat whisk the butter into the mixture to form a stable emulsion. Optionally, you can use a small amount of xanthan gum – an natural gum that helps emulsify fat and liquids.
Finely chop some carrot top and add to the pan.
Top the warm carrots with sauce and serve immediately.
Poached Salmon with Paloise Mousseline
Cold poached salmon is the perfect spring holiday brunch item. Or so I’m told. I’m not a fan of Brunch and I don’t really like salmon. See, no matter what you do to it, no matter how you treat it, sauce it, or cook it goes on stubbornly tasting like salmon. But a lot of other people really like salmon – so that’s not a problem. In fact, accentuating it’s salmoness is probably a good strategy – and that’s what I’ve tried to do here.
We’ll gently poach the fish in a court bouillon – sort of a super fish broth – and then top it with what might be the Frenchest of Frenchy French sauces – a fluffy Mousseline – basically a hollandaise folded into whipped cream. I spike it with - by which I mean gently fold in- mint, which is what makes it a Paloise (I think? I sort of lose track of the french sauces)
2 lbs. skin on salmon loin fillet
6 tbsp unsalted butter
2 large egg yolks
4 cups white wine (divided)
½ cup fennel fronds and stems
1 medium leek
1 cup heavy cream
2 tsp black peppercorns (divided)
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs thyme
2 shallots (divided)
½ cup loosely packed mint leaves
Begin my trimming the salmon, removing the thin portions along the belly and saving any trim for the court bullion.
Prepare a court bouillon
Coarsely chop the fennel.
Coarsely chop, and rinse one leek.
Peel, trim and coarsely chop one shallot.
Add two cups of white wine, the salmon trim, the chopped leek, shallot, and fennel, the thyme, peppercorns, and bay leaves to a large pot, along with 4 cups of water.
Bring to a low simmer and cook for 2 hours.
Strain out the solids, and season heavily with salt.
Prepare the Mousseline
Peel, trim, and finely slice one shallot.
Add 2 cup of white wine to a pan, along with the shallot and a pinch of salt.
Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until ¼ cup of liquid remains.
Strain, and discard the solids.
Whisk together the reduced wine and the egg yolks.
Transfer the egg/wine mixture to the container of a hand blender or high-speed blender.
Melt the butter, taking care not to brown of burn it.
Once the butter has melted, turn on the blender, and slowly pour the hot butter into the reduced wine/egg yolk mixture.
Strain the resulting mixture to remove any lumps, season with salt, and allow it to cook to room temperature.
Using a whisk or mixer, whip the 1 cup of cream until stiff peaks form.
Finely mince the mint leaves.
Fold the mint leaves into the egg mixture, then gently fold the egg mixture into the whipped cream.
Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Poach the Salmon
Bring the strained court bouillon to a simmer.
Juice one lemon into the simmering liquid.
Gently poach the salmon in the court bouillon until firm and beginning to flake. I use a thermometer to ensure the center of the cut has reached 165°F.
Carefully remove from the pan, drain, and allow to cool.
Refrigerate until ready to serve.
To serve, top with dollops of mousseline, or pipe mousseline on top and garnish with fresh herbs.