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Springtime on a Plate
Springtime weather temps are a little less fickle and it finally seems to be consistently warmer. Fireplace is clean and has officially seen it’s last fire until autumn. Even in Sweden, the cherry trees are in full bloom. It’s officially time to get out and plant veggies, greens and herbs.
What? No space for a garden? Sure you have. While I have the luxury of a moderate size outdoor herb garden, city dwelling Oli has a delightful little balcony that overlooks a line of cherry trees. It’s a lovely spot for morning coffee or late night scrabble games while sipping good wine. I am constantly amazed at what he can grow in one little corner of the balcony. Lots of tomatoes, chili peppers and tons of herbs. I must admit, there is a certain pleasure for me when I walk out of the front door to snip fresh parsley, oregano, basil, thyme, rosemary or whatever suites my fancy (and dinner). And face it, growing your own is much cheaper than buying those exorbitantly priced prepackaged herbs from the grocery store.
Still, say you have no place for a garden? Ok, how about a window sill? Which bring us to watercress, that peppery little green that most people associate with British tea time cucumber and watercress sandwiches. You can grow watercress on a sunny windowsill and you don’t even need dirt! Grab some paper towels, or cotton balls, watercress seeds, a container and you’re in business. We’ll let you google the details, but that really is all you need for an endless supply of this little green with lots of bite and a fresh sharp taste that lends itself to salads, sandwiches, soups and even fruit and cheese platters.
Today it’s the little watercress that brings a zesty taste of springtime to a warm potato salad that accompanies a simple dinner of pan fried fish, some asparagus and a gloriously golden Hollandaise sauce. By the way, Hollandaise is a classic with fish as well as asparagus. It’s a simple menu and simple to prepare. However, your taste buds will think you spent hours composing a symphony just for them.
Oli’s watercress. Lovely container made by his mom.
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Here’s the game plan for dinner.
1. Start cooking the potatoes for the salad.
2. Next, start melting the butter in a separate small saucepan.
3. While the potatoes burble make the Hollandaise then put the salad together and keep both warm.
4. Toss the asparagus into boiling salted water for about 5 minutes while you pan fry the fish.
5. Add the watercress to the potato salad just before serving.
3 small eggs yolks (or 2 large)
1 tablespoon cooking water
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 stick salted butter (100gr)
1/2 teaspoon salt
a couple of grinds of white pepper
For this recipe you will place a bowl over a saucepan containing barely simmering water. The bowl shouldn’t touch the water. You can use a double boiler if you have one.
- Start by boiling the water, then reduce the heat so it simmers.
2. Before you put the bowl over the saucepan, combine 1 tablespoon of the simmering water, the lemon juice and egg yolks in the bowl. Now place it over the saucepan and whisk constantly for about 4-5 minutes. Don’t let it get too hot or you’ll get scrambled eggs.
3. Whisk 1 tablespoon of the melted butter into the eggs. Add a second and third tablespoon, whisking after each addition. Then you can slowly drizzle the butter into the eggs while whisking constantly. As you add more butter, the egg mixture will thicken.
Check the heat. The sauce should be warm – never hot. If it starts to get too warm, remove the bowl from the saucepan.
4. After the butter is incorporated, whisk in the salt and pepper.
5. Remove the water saucepan from the burner and place the bowl back on top to keep the sauce warm. Every once in a while, give it a stir.
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1 pound small waxy potatoes
1/2 red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
2-inch piece of leek (white part only) washed and thinly sliced
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons mustard of your choice
1/2 teaspoon salt
A couple grinds of white pepper
1/2 cup fresh watercress
- Peel the potatoes and boil in water to cover until fork tender.
- Drain and cut the potatoes into quarters while still warm.
- Place potatoes, onion and leek in a large bowl.
4. Whisk olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, salt and pepper together in a small bowl.
5. Pour dressing over the warm potatoes. Gently toss to evenly coat potatoes.
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Asparagus & Fish
8 green asparagus spears
1 1/4 pounds of Haddock or Cod fillets
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
- Toss the asparagus into boiling water for about 5 minutes while you cook the fish.
We suggest 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons of olive oil if you are frying all of the fish in one large skillet. If you fry the fish in batches using a smaller skillet you will have to estimate smaller but equal amounts of butter and oil.
2. In a large skillet cook both sides of the fish in equal amounts of butter and oil over high heat, until golden and cooked through (about 2 minutes depending on the thickness).
You are ready to plate. Add the watercress to the potato salad, give the Hollandaise a last stir, arrange the fish, asparagus, and potato salad on plates, and add a generous dollop of Hollandise.
Nothing says springtime like a delicate flaky fish, fresh asparagus and Hollandaise and
a bite of watercress,. So just pour a chilled Chardonnay, a dry Chenin Blanc or maybe a Semillon and savor the first tastes springtime on a plate.
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