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Monday, July 8, 2013

Farmers' Market Salad with Buttermilk-Chive Dressing from "flour, too" by Joanne Chang


Our Farmers' Markets are brimming with more and more produce every week.  The carrots and beans, tomatoes and radishes are in and the Red Bliss potatoes are still baby-sized and beautiful.  So you can imagine my delight at opening Joanne Chang’s latest cookbook, “flour,too” (Chronicle Books 2013) and discovering the perfect recipe to put them all together.  Joanne Chang’s recipes are a regular feature on Chewing the Fat.  Pastry Chef Chang’s takes on classic American desserts from homemade Oreos http://www.chewingthefat.us.com/2012/03/joanne-changs-recipe-for-homemade-oreo.html to the most recent post featuring Strawberry shortcakes http://www.chewingthefat.us.com/2013/06/joanne-changs-balsamic-strawberry.html are extremely popular, not just with Andrew but with all our readers.  Now, in “flour, too” her recipe files have been expanded to include savories from her Flour Bakeries and Cafes in Boston.  This is huge boon to savory cooks like me.  But fear not.  Chef Chang's new cookbook includes enough sweetness to satisfy both the baker and the cook in our house. 

        
Serve it as a Dinner Salad or
as a side salad above
This gorgeous salad isn’t at all hard to make.  And you can easily get it on the table in 30 minutes.  I first served it as a ‘supper salad’.  The next day, I made ‘salades composes’ as the first course at a dinner party we gave.   The salad lights up the table with its beautiful colors.   The recipe calls for hard-cooked eggs, which boost its supper appeal, yet keep it vegetarian, if not vegan.  Chef Chang writes that you can make it into an even heartier version by crumbling blue cheese and adding some crispy bacon to the mix.   But just as it is, it was a big hit.  While the eggs cooked, I made the Buttermilk-Chive Dressing.  Then it was on to the vegetables.  These are individually cooked in one large saucepan then ‘shocked’ in a ice water bath.  Three items—baby greens, cherry tomatoes and radishes—are used raw.   The fun is in composing the plates.  Then you pass the dressing around the table so that everyone can choose how much they want.  Here’s the recipe:

Recipe for Farmer’s Market Salad with Buttermilk-Chive Dressing from “flour,too” by Joanne Chang
Serves 4 and a main course, 6 to 8 as a first course.  Takes all of 30 minutes to make start to finish.

For the Buttermilk-Chive Dressing:
1/2 cup/120 ml nonfat buttermilk
1/4 cup/60 ml sour cream or creme fraiche
2 tbsp good-quality mayonnaise
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup/15 g minced fresh chives
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

For the Salad:
4 large eggs
8 oz/225 g baby carrots, peeled and trimmed to leave 1 in/2.5 cm of stem
1 lb/455 g English peas, shucked
8 oz/225 g green beans, trimmed and halved crosswise
8 oz/225 g small Red Bliss potatoes, unpeeled and quartered
8 cups/170 g loosely packed mixed organic lettuces
One 6-oz/170-g bag radishes, trimmed and quartered lengthwise
1 pt/300 g cherry tomatoes
Special equipment: rimmed baking sheet, sieve

1. To make the dressing: In a small bowl, mix together the buttermilk, sour cream, mayonnaise, lemon juice, chives, salt, and pepper until well blended. The dressing can be made up to 3 days in advance and stored in an airtight container in the fridge.
2. Place the eggs in a small saucepan, add cold water to cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. As soon as the water begins to boil, turn off the heat, cover the pan, and let the eggs sit for 15 minutes, or until cool enough to handle. Remove the eggs from the water. Working with one egg at a time, softly and gently crack each eggshell all around and carefully peel it off while holding the egg under running cool water. Pat the eggs dry, halve lengthwise, and set aside.
3. In a large saucepan, bring 3 qt/2.8 L lightly salted water to a boil over high heat. While waiting for the water to boil, fill a large bowl about half full with ice and then add cold water just to cover the ice. Line the baking sheet with paper towels.
4. Drop the carrots into the boiling water and boil for 3 to 4 minutes. Using the sieve, remove the carrots from the water and plunge them, sieve and all, into the ice bath. Remove the carrots from the ice water, drain, and dump them out onto the prepared baking sheet. This process, called “shocking,” will halt the cooking so the vegetables retain their bright color and crunch.
5. Bring the water back to a boil and repeat with the peas, leaving them in the boiling water for about 30 seconds, and then with the green beans, leaving them in the boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes, before shocking each of them, in turn, in the ice water and transferring them to the baking sheet. Replenish the ice bath as needed with more ice to keep it ice-cold.
6. Bring the water back to a boil and add the potatoes. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 10 to 12 minutes, or until you can pierce them easily with a fork. Shock the potatoes in the ice water, scoop them out, and then dump them onto the baking sheet with the other vegetables.
7. Decoratively arrange the lettuce, radishes, tomatoes, eggs, potatoes, carrots, peas, and green beans in four shallow salad bowls. Serve the dressing on the side.