Friday, November 5, 2010

Salade Nicoise

Our Culinary Foundations practical final is next week and includes a testing of knife cuts (julienne, macedoine, brunoise, batonet and other pretentious French words) and mastery of the Salade Nicoise. Our class did a warm-up for the final on Tuesday. I thought it went fairly well (my salad was way over-dressed and the potatoes were over-cooked), Chef O'Donnell thought a little differently. We botched the sanitation part to a certain degree, and pretty much everything needed work. Nevertheless, I'll miss our "little" critiques at the end of class when Chef tells us how we can improve (mixed in with a few anecdotes). I've had near mealtdowns in that little room next to the kitchen, but holy crap, I've tasted some awesome food.

The quarter flew by. I never thought my collapsed lung would heal (though it does still bother me on occasion). I'll really miss my classmates. All but one of them are in the chef's apprentice program, while I'm in the bakery/pastry option. I suppose it's likely I'll bond with all my future classmates. That's what happens when people cook and eat together, but still, this was nice. There is still one more anxiety-inducing day of cooking the famous Salade Nicoise. I'm a little nervous, so I thought it best to follow Chef's instructions and practice. Except now I'm a little more freaked out, but only just a little.

Everything did turn out fine in the end. The egg, potatoes and blanched green beans were a little underdone, but that was nothing compared the incredible haze of smoke that poured out when I tried searing the salmon. The saute pan needs to be hot. Nearly smoking hot. Well, some debris had fall at some unknown time under the right-front burner, which, under intense heat, starting smoking like crazy. We're talking fire alarms and a thick haze. I opened the back door to little relief. It got so bad my eyes started watering. But thank god, the salmon did not scorch. We'll probably have a permanent smoke smell in the house, but at least the meal was saved.

Nicoise Salad: serves four

2 eggs, hard boiled
4 tomatoes, sliced into wedges
4 potatoes
large handful green beans
canola oil
4 salmon filets
2 or 3 large handful mixed greens
1 tablespoon basil, finely chopped
1 tablespoon chives, chopped
2 scallions, sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
salt and pepper
12 Nicoise olives

for dressing:
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
6 tablespoons olive oil

For dressing, whisk mustard and vinegar together. Slowly pour in the oil while whisking until it has thickened.

Place potatoes in a pot of cold, salted water and bring to a boil. Remove when cooked al dente, shock to stop from continuing to cook and slice in half. Blanche and shock the green beans in salted water. Dry and season the salmon with salt and pepper. Sear in a hot skillet with a little canola oil service-side down for 1 to 2 minutes, flip and sear for another minute. Remove from pan. Turn down the heat to medium and place potatoes in saute pan to brown for a few minutes. Add the green beans, olives, shallot and garlice. Toss to coat with oil. Remove from heat quickly. Toss vegetables with salad greens and dressing. Assemble salads and serve.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Beautiful salad!

The burny-ness should fade in a day or two. I do that a LOT. Bad Jeanne.