31 March 2015

Gusty winds, and a salad

One week ago today my plane coming from Atlanta was getting ready to land in Paris. I'm glad it was a week ago and not today, because today we are having a major windstorm. This morning, strong gusts are howling under the eaves of the house and through the big conifers in our yard. How long is this supposed to last? March is going out like a lion after all.

Yesterday's lunch was a salad — a very French salad containing chicken gizzards, sautéed potatoes, and lettuce — and topped with a poached egg. For us, it serves two as a main course. It could easily serve four as a starter course in a more elaborate meal.

In France, we can buy chicken livers or gizzards — or duck gizzards — in vacuum-sealed packages at the supermarket. They are slow-cooked and tender. That kind of slow cooking, to make what is called gésiers confits, is especially needed for the gizzards, which are otherwise a tough muscle and not an organ like the liver. They are cooked in duck fat, which gives good flavor.

A package of gizzards like this one costs between 2 and 3 euros.

The first step in making this salad is to peel and dice up three or four potatoes. Toss them in vegetable oil (add some of the duck fat from the package of gizzards, again for flavor) in an oven-proof dish and set the dish in a very hot oven until the potatoes are cooked through and nicely browned. It will take 20 minutes or or longer, and you should stir the potatoes after they start to brown on top.

To make the salad, first make a vinaigrette dressing in the bottom of a big bowl with one teaspoon of Dijon mustard, a tablespoon of wine or cider vinegar, some salt and pepper, and three tablespoons of olive or other vegetable oil. Tear six or eight washed lettuce leaves into big pieces and toss them in the dressing.

Quickly sauté the gizzards in a skillet in some of the duck fat they're packed in. They're cooked when you buy them, so you just want to give them some color. As they brown, in a separate pot or pan, poach or soft-fry one egg per person being served.

Spread the dressed salad leaves out in a wide flat bowl. Top them with the gizzards and the sautéed potatoes. Top each plate of salad with a poached or fried egg. If there is a little bit of vinaigrette left in the salad bown, you can serve that with the salad too. All you need otherwise is wine and bread.

You could make the same kind of salad with chunks of sautéed chicken breast or another meat, fish, or vegetable.

30 March 2015

29 March 2015

The lost hour

We sprang forward during the night. Now we are on heure d’été, and we’ve said au revoir to l'heure d’hiver. So for the next six months, we’ve again got a six-hour jump on the U.S. East Coast and a nine-hour jump on California and the West Coast.

Our weather is pretty lousy for a place that’s now on "summer time." It’s supposed to rain for days now. You’d think we’d be used to it at this point. To tell the truth, it does get old.