It’s easier to cook in your head

Yesterday my valentine took me out to lunch at a little French bistro right around the corner from me. I had one of my favorite salads of all time, that I haven’t made forever, and creme brulee, which I think is right up there with chocolate for Most Sexy Desserts.

The salad was bitter greens with a poached egg on top, and a tiny dice of shallot with a mustard vinaigrette. You just whisk together a little red wine vinegar, some finely chopped parsley, a teeny bit of dijon mustard, salt, pepper, and grapeseed or olive oil, with a pinch of sugar. Toss this with your leaves, add the bit of shallot, and season with salt. When you poach your eggs, add a teaspoon of vinegar to the simmering water, and be sure to set them onto a few paper towels before they get set onto the salad. A shaving of parmesan is really good on this of you have it.

You could keep going a with a little sirloin steak and some potato pancakes. Cut all of the fat from the back of the sirloin, and then cut into about one inch high by four inch wide steaks. Season your meat with kosher salt, rub it well with extra virgin olive oil, and sear it on all sides in a heavy saute pan. Slip them into a 350 degree oven for just a few minutes until still rare. You know they are done, if you put a sharp knife into the center, it comes out luke warm when you touch it to your lip. (This is excellent on a grill if you have one.)

Potato pancakes need you to grate the potatoes right before you need them, or they will go oxidize. Once you grate the potatoes, just add a little salt, a tiny bit of minced onion, and then drop them by the spoonful into a heavy saute pan that has a good glossing of olive oil. Taste one for salt when it’s done, and they need, sprinkle a little more on as they come out of the oil, or add a little more to the potatoes. Set them onto brown paper.

The creme brulee had that crackly, crispy top just like it is supposed to, and the sugar was melted the moment before I got it, so that the perfume from the caramel had me picking up my spoon before I could say anything dumb like “not for me”. The custard was flavored with a vanilla bean and as smooth as a soft sour cream. I almost started crying.

Am I making this for dinner tonight?
There is nothing but a head of escarole in my refrigerator, because going grocery shopping in NYC during a snow storm is like trying to get to the holy land during holy week.

I’m going to cook up that escarole with garlic and olive oil, add some white beans, a little chicken stock, and ladle the whole thing over crostini. A drizzle of olive oil, a little parmesan, and that’s me done.

What I would like to have happen in my kitchen, and what is in my fridge doesn’t always add up to reality.

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