Sunday, August 13, 2006

RCE Garlic & Sapphires: Watercress Puree!

Wow! The entries are just rolling in - Connie actually made the watercress puree last weekend and had this to offer...

Well, I got Garlic and Sapphires last Friday afternoon, and finished while waiting for a few things to finish cooking (vichysoisse, polenta, another batch of fregola sarda, apricot galette, noyau ice cream) it on Sunday. As I was chopping up the leeks for the vichysoisse, I looked in my fridge and realized I had all the ingredients for the pureed watercress.
It's a very simple recipe - it's just watercress, potato and butter. You boil a chopped potato for 20 minutes, blanch four bunches of watercress with the potatoes, drain everything and press out all the moisture, puree it, then emulsify with half a stick of butter. So I decided to make it to go with the polenta and lamb chops Zack and I would be eating for dinner. I altered the recipe a little - I salted the water (whenever I boil pasta or potatoes, I always add enough salt so that it tastes like seawater) and added half an onion (left over from the vichysoisse). Also, watercress can be kind of fibrous, so I made sure to remove any thick stalks and trim the stems. In my experience, getting drained boiled leafy greens to puree to a smooth consistency is a little tricky. You either have to shake up the blender a little (I have a Cuisinart) or add more liquid. I wound up shaking the blender. Next time, I might use a food processor instead. I liked it, but Zack, who's accustomed to eating watercress salad, said he preferred having it in salad. But he doesn't like creamed spinach, which Reichl compares this dish to.

She actually sent me a GREAT answer to some of the questions I posed earlier regarding our food patterns and has this to say...

I received Garlic and Sapphires last Friday, and by Sunday, I finished it. So yeah, I liked it. It was a lot of fun - the kind of book that's perfect for reading during your commute if you take public transit. I'm now reading Heat, by Bill Buford, but first, and since this is a book club, I'll take some time out to answer Eric's questions.

One can imagine why she became food obsessed (I've not read her other books so don't spoil it for me if she actually writes about it outside of this book, ok?) and ultimately a food critic - but what were YOUR foodie moments? What brought you to seek out other like-minded food people?

I think my parents were pretty obsessed with food when I was growing up. I remember in my early childhood trips to the Newport Beach fish market, weekly visits to a local butcher, touring the Italian market near my house (Lucci's), how my mother would only purchase our fruits and vegetables from produce stands. "You should only buy asparagus in the spring," she explained (I wanted my favorite vegetable during Thanksgiving). "Otherwise, it's no good." I think I tasted my first fig when I was five (I didn't like it). And of course, I lived 10 minutes away from Little Saigon - I can still point out the very first supermarkets in that enclave. Though our cooking styles are nothing alike (I'm more Cal-Med/French, and I don't often cook Chinese. That's really easy for me, and if I'm stumped, I call Mom), I have the same attitude about ingredients. I didn't realize how particular I was about food until I started college, and encountered the UC Berkeley Unit 2 Dining Commons. Yuck! But during Welcome Week at Griffiths Hall, I met Justin, my BFF. We hit it off right away, and decided to BART into San Francisco's Chinatown immediately, which was how we discovered Sam Wo's. Soon, we were shoveling items from the DC salad bars into ziploc bags to be stirred into late night ramen hot pots. We like to joke that our friendship solely based on food. Food and fashion. When I visited him in Paris last year, I proposed making ramen once more, but we wound up at Pierre Gagnaire.

If you could pick one restaurant in your experience that deserves four stars what would it be and why?

French Laundry. Everything was perfect. The food, the service, the ambience. You can read about it here. [Ed. Its a GREAT story! Now I REALLY need to go there!]

What would the restaurant of your dreams look like? Sound like? Feel like? Smell like? Where would it be located and what kind of food would it serve?

Justin and I have a running joke about opening a restaurant that serves "go away baby" noodles (long story), bacon stuffed pork chops with gravy, parisian
macarons (because cupcakes are so 2003) that's also an optomotrist's shop and shoe store. But in all seriousness, I wouldn't be able to settle on one concept. I enjoy a eating at fairly wide variety of dining establishments, from ghetto taco trucks to my secret sushi joint to 3 star Michelin places.
Again, Connie, thanks! Totally surpassed my expectations - and I'm SO going to the French Laundry one of these days. Add it to the list!


At 5:25 p.m., Blogger Beth said...

OMGoodness. I have been looking alllll over for this recipe. I've been to every food site known - I'd forgotten where I originally got it!
I read the book this summer, made the Pureed Watercress & loved it. Copied the recipe & lost it. Google sent me to your blog! THANK YOU!! Happy cooking!


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