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a platter of figs. and friday night dinners.

February 23, 2009

cookbooksI was thrilled to bits to receive these cookbooks for my birthday from my friends Glen and John.  These are my friends who believe me when I say:  I’d love a cookbook for my birthday.  And they got me TWO.

Bonnie Stern’s Friday Night Dinners was recommended by Food Girl – she said there were great, authentic food photos in it, and she’s right.  The food looks very accessible and real – not all foo-foo fancy pants.  

And I’ve wanted a Platter of Figs ever since it came out. David Tanis is a six months a year chef at Chez Panisse.  The other six months he lives in Paris.  That’s what I want to do.  Live here for six months from May to October and then live in Europe, by the sea, for 6 months.  Heaven.

I’ve started delving into this cookbook – what I love about it, is that he writes simply and passionately about simple food served well.  He’s got a very European outlook and has no time for fusion or complicated food.  Steam it, throw some salt on it, and serve it on a beautiful platter.  This guy is a restaurant chef who doesn’t eat out in restaurants.  

Here’s what he says:   There’s something really galling about going to a place that’s supposed to be good and being served slapdash fare, or dolled up, manipulated architectural creations topped with foam.  

I flipped through the recipes, which are organized seasonally, in menu ideas, and happened upon the Watercress, Beet and Egg Salad.  I substituted the watercress with spinach and arugula and made that for Sunday dinner last night along with the Barefoot Contessa’s Company Pot Roast and voila!  A lovely winter meal.  

Actually it wasn’t that voila.  I spent a lot of time chopping vegetables and peeling beets.  But as David Tanis says:

Most of the menus in this book are not those 30-minute specials with only 3 ingredients whose intent is to keep you out of the kitchen.  What’s wrong with spending a little time in the kitchen?

Take that, Rachel Ray!

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Spinach, Arugula, Beet and Egg Salad
-adapted from a Platter of Figs

handful spinach and arugula, stems trimmed
2 large shallots, finely diced
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon sherry vinegar
salt and pepper
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
the zest of one orange
6 medium roasted beets, peeled and diced small (roast in a 350 oven for an hour in a pan with 1 inch of water.  Peel while warm)
3 soft centre hard boiled eggs (cook in boiling water for 9 minutes and then cool in cold water bath)

Put the shallots in a bowl with the vinegars and salt for 10 minutes.  Stir in mustard until dissolved.  Whisk in olive oil, orange zest and pepper.  Place diced beets in a bowl and add salt and pepper.  Pour the dressing over and let it sit at room temperature for half an hour.  

To arrange salad, put a pile of greens on a plate.  Arrange beets on top and drizzle some extra dressing on top.  Quarter the eggs and arrange along the side.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. February 23, 2009 6:23 pm

    Love to get new cookbooks! They’re my favorite gifts to receive and it doesn’t happen nearly often enough.

  2. February 23, 2009 9:26 pm

    Great gifts! I’ve been meaning to have a better look through the new Bonnie Stern.

  3. February 24, 2009 6:36 am

    Happy Belated Birthday! And I love that last quote.

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