An Everlasting Meal - Potato, Brussels Sprouts Salad

I have recently been reading a charming little book picked up at a secondhand book shop, An Everlasting Meal, Cooking with Economy and Grace, by Tamar Adler.  It's lovely popping into that store when you have a bit of time between things, getting a "free" book for later browsing with a cup of latte.  I say "free" because my account usually has a credit line from books brought in for re-sale.

Books about cooking and food in general, or cookbooks are especially nice when you come away with at least one excellent idea or re-encouragement.  This particular book had more than one, and reinforced something taken away from another recent purchase - A New Way to Dinner from Food 52 - purposefully preparing food ahead of time - not left-overs, combining various previously made foods in creative ways.  Also a good bit on how to "sharpen strategies for turning failures into successes."

Along those lines, I like Adler's note:  "A recipe for onion bread soup from Simple French Cooking by Richard Olney demands stale bread that is 'coarse, vulgar, compact.'  We have all tossed loaves for meeting that description at some point.  Stale bread cannot be bought.  It must be waited for, which gives all dishes containing it the weight of philosophical ballast, as well as dietary and budgetary ones."

And on the subject of adding herbs: "Fresh herbs have always been relied on to perk up whatever needs perking.  Parsley, in particular, has long been called into duty when things were fading:  in ancient Greece, anyone or anything on its way out was said to be 'in need of parsley'."  I often feel that way myself.

Her comments on the issue of steaming versus boiling vegetables, and for how long were also thought provoking as well as practical - "For boiled vegetables to taste really delicious, they need to be cooked.  Most of ours aren't.  Under cooking is a justifiable reaction to the 1950s tendency to cook vegetables to collapse.  But the pendulum has swung too far.  When not fully cooked, any vegetable seems starchy and indifferent: it hasn't retained the virtues of being recently picked nor benefited from the development of sugars that comes with time and heat.  There's not much I dislike more than biting into a perfectly lovely vegetable and hearing it squeak."

Tamar Adler, a former editor at Harper's Magazine, and chef at Chez Panisse and Prune, her writing in this book, on everything from eggs to olives is both wise and insightful, as well as being delicious and thought provoking.  Besides her interesting philosophical ramblings she does include lots of recipes, and with approachable instruction.

Thus in honor of Adler's philosophy of re-combining, enlivening, and transforming, I put together a sort of re-purposed potato salad.  It was built around several prior preparations, first a little tub of Creamed Kale (you notice how we're not saying left-overs) from a recipe in Food52 A New Way to Dinner, next a healthy portion of Aromatic Brussels Sprouts (which I had combined with potatoes) from Cooking with Mary Berry, and third, some experimental poached and soft-boiled eggs, made earlier in the day just for this salad.  I was trying once again to poach, not too successfully I might add.

The dressing was composed of mayonnaise, a bit of kefir and kefir cream cheese, blue cheese (just a bit), lemon juice and mustard.  Each of the major players were so flavorful in themselves that no additional seasoning was needed.  Just blended the dressing together, chunked up the potatoes and Brussels sprouts, chopped the kale finer, and added some capers.  Gently tossed and topped with the eggs.  Just so you know, the Creamed Kale was made with a bit of crisped up soppressata, as well as cream and the Aromatic Brussels sprouts had mustard seeds.  It was a sooooo delicious and even elegant salad.  Really all you need for dinner.  Well, maybe a glass of chilled white wine.

There was even enough for my lunch the following day - just added some lettuce and cilantro for a bit more green.  See how perked up it is.  This will get linked to the April Foodies Read Challenge, at Deb's Kahakai Kitchen for Souper, (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays, and with Beth Fish Reads for her Weekend Cooking event.  Stop by for inspiration on books and good food,


Elen Ghulam said...

Seems like an interesting book. Thank you for sharing your thoughts about it.

Tina said...

Wonderful salad and yes, I think a glass of white wine would be just the thing. Sounds like an interesting book. I like what you mentioned about underboiling our vegetables. It did seem in the past people would cook them to death and I am guilty of undercooking now and then.

Dragonfly Our Familiarium said...

omg those poached and soft-boiled eggs look scrumptious! I love the creaminess of the egg yolk! I have never user kefir in a salad dressing! what a great idea! and yes to crunchy vegetables!

jama said...

I read this book awhile ago and remember enjoying it. Your salad looks delicious!

Deb in Hawaii said...

A friend gave me a copy of this book this past Christmas but I have not gotten around to reading it yet. Your post makes me want to move it up my giant TBR pile. ;-)

Your salad looks so delicious--I love the combination of ingredients and flavors. Thank you for sharing it with Souper Sundays this week!

Carole said...

From now on food is going to be repurposed in my house - sounds better than leftovers! Have a great week. Cheers from Carole's Chatter

Beth F said...

I love that salad. I really liked the Food 52 book and now you've given me another book to look for. I'll have to see if the library has it. If not, I can always buy myself a copy.