Count on it. The day I drive back to Aspen, after a winter absence, it is always snowing. My last Thursday’s arrival didn’t disappoint, a real blizzard. But after picking up my keys at The Gant’s office and corralling Dan, who drew the short straw, we got my car unloaded. Home, very sweet Home.
This past week of unpacking and resettling gave me pause to kick around my gypsy-esque lifestyle. Let’s just admit it. Are there many women, enjoying their seventh decade, who load six-months of Life into a car and hit the road each year? Seriously? Even I am realistic enough to realize this is not a long-term lifestyle. But while I can, I will. I do not yet have a Plan B.
Ever find yourself thinking, “When I have time, I want to read this or go here or do so-and-so.” Those musings usually wander to the back burner and are sometimes never realized. Although Bucket List is not my favorite term, since Jack Nicholson’s and Morgan Freeman’s 2007 film with that title, many of us seem to have one. Bravo for us.
“Those ‘back burner’ thoughts, the ones the brain isn’t quite sure about yet, may cook the slowest yet they often manage to be the tastiest when they come out.” Criss Jami
Today’s post is about realizing three of my back burners that have percolated to reality:
BB #1 – READING with EMMA
Last Christmas I discussed with Emma, a high school sophomore, my reading along with her the literature she was assigned in her second-semester English class. I’ve been wanting to re-visit some classics. She was game and that’s why this winter I re-read Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, Night by Elie Wiesel and Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. Seeing these three books through the lens of a 15-year old teenager is an exquisite gift. Reading her essays, especially her thoughts about Night, entitled “Silence” will always remain with me and is another bond to be continued despite our 900-mile separation.
BB #3 – COOKtheBOOKFRIDAYS: SALADE LYONNAISE
Ten years ago I flew to Lyon, France, for a week-long seminar on La Résistance. Lyon was a major centre of the French resistance during WW II. Besides this extraordinary learning experience, I also was shocked to realize Lyon, home to renown chefs Paul Bocuse and Daniel Boulud, is underrated as a gastronomical paradise. Quite often Parisians will even grudgingly admit it’s #2 to their #1. Famous for their bouchons, “gut-busting restaurants where food is brought to the tables in big earthenware bowls and rustic terrines,” says David Lebovitz, my favorite meal was Salade Lyonnaise. I promised myself I would return home and re-create this delicious frisée salad with bacon, egg, and garlic toasts. Now, ten years later and merci mille fois to Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen cookbook, I am doing just that.
We also toured CNN’s Center’s national headquarters in Atlanta, found our way to Margaret Mitchell’s house where she wrote Gone With the Wind and spent a day in Warm Springs at FDR’s Little White House. A busy week.
SALADE LYONNAISE (Frisée Salad with Bacon, Egg and Garlic Toasts) by David Lebovitz, My Paris Kitchen
(Serves 4 to 6)
Salad-Ingredients for Garlic Croutons:
2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more if needed
1 clove garlic, peeled and slightly crushed
1 1/2 cups cubes or torn pieces of bread, about 3/4 inch in size
Sea salt and kosher salt
Salad Dressing Ingredients:
4 tsp red wine vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoons water
2 teaspoon peeled and minced garlic
8 to 12 new potatoes
sea salt and kosher salt
2 cups diced, thick-cut bacon, smoked or unsmoked
8 cups loosely packed frisée or escarole leaves
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley or fresh chives
Freshly ground pepper
4 poached eggs or 4 hard-cooked eggs (the French prefer a softer yolk than most Americans do), peeled and quartered
1. To make the croutons, heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic, and cook until it’s deeply golden brown. Be careful not to burn it. Remove the garlic. Add the bread, stirring the cubes in the oil, turning them frequently. Add a sprinkle of salt and a dribble more oil if necessary, until the bread is brown on all sides, about 5 minutes. Set aside until ready to serve. (NOTE: May be made 1-2 days ahead and kept in tin container.)
2. To make the salad, put the potatoes in a saucepan with enough cold water to cover. Add some salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease the heat to a low boil and cook for 15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a sharp knife. (NOTE: If done in advance, cook them slightly less, and let them rest in the warm water for up to 45 minutes.)
3. While the potatoes are cooking, fry the bacon in a skillet over medium heat until just starting to crisp. Drain the pieces on a plate lined with paper towels.
4. In a large salad bowl, whisk together the vinegar, mustard, 1/4 tsp of salt, the oil, water and garlic. (NOTE: This can be made 1-2 days ahead and kept, refrigerated, in a glass jar.)
5. To assemble the salad, slice the potatoes and add them to the bowl along with the bacon and toss gently. Add the frisée, parsley, and some black pepper. Add the croutons and hard-cooked eggs (if using) and toss very well. Divide among four salad bowls. If using poached eggs, slide one on top of each salad and serve.
Although it’s not traditional, I sometimes add 2 cups of crumbled blue cheese to the salad at the last minute, omitting the eggs.
TIP: If you’d rather not make the salad, still try the croutons or the salad dressing sometime. Both are wonderful.