Bieres de la Meuse
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"To cook is to create. And to create an act of ingenuity, and faith."


New Potatoes, Red Onion, and Purslane




"What I say is that, if a man really likes potatoes,
he must be a pretty decent sort of fellow."

~ A. A. Milne

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Teresa Saia - Reaching
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Cooking for Mr. Latte: A Food Lover's Courtship, with Recipes
Cooking for
Mr. Latte: A Food Lover's Courtship,
with Recipes

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New Potatoes, Red Onion, and Purslane

The Cook and the Gardener: A Year of Recipes and Writings from the French Countryside
The Cook and the Gardener:
A Year of Recipes and Writings from the French Countryside

by Amanda Hesser, 1999, W. W. Norton & Co.

(from Summer: July)

“A friend of mine, who does research for food historians in Paris, told me he had found that in the past, purslane was used in desserts to balance flavors with its succulence. Chefs during the Middles Ages added purslane to the fillings of cakes and heavily spiced dishes. It absorbed the edge of heavy spices like cinnamon, ginger, clove, and the many other spice mixes used by cooks of the time. Now, he said, purslane is experiencing a revival, particularly in Provençal cooking.
I believed what he told me but had never come across any such recipes in the old French cookbooks, except for one: Vincent La Chapelle’s ‘The Modern Cook’. La Chapelle provided instructions for making purslane fritters in which the purslane pulp holds up the fritter dough. He first marinated the purslane in brandy, sugar, and lemon zest and then dipped the leaves in a batter made with flour, eggs, and white wine before frying them in hog’s lard. In other words, the purslane was merely a vehicle for the brandy, sugar and lemon zest in the fritters. {Elder flowers and vine leaves were also made into fritters.)
On a more savory note, purslane stems, like cardoon or celery root, were braised in thickened stock. Purslane was also added to soups and stews for its thickening effect, much like okra is in our Southern cooking.
Nicholas Culpepper, the seventeenth-century herbalist, wrote of purslane: ‘ ‘Tis an herb of the Moon. It is good to cool any heat in the liver, blood, veins, and stomach, and in hot agues, nothing better.’ And the Versailles gardener La Quintinie (1701) declared it ‘…one of the prettiest Plants in a Kitchen Garden, which is principally used in Sallads, and sometimes in Pottages… The thick Stalks of Purslain that is to run to Seed are good to pickle in Salt and Vinegar for Winter Sallads.’
By the nineteenth century purslane had made its way to America. Thomas De Voe praised purslane in his ‘Market Assistant’: ‘It is good boiled and eaten as Spinach (when it is quite slimy), and considered wholesome.’ I don’t think slimy is a popular texture nowadays, so I wouldn’t suggest boiling purslane. Instead, eat it raw; in this state it is crisp, with a pleasant acidic taste.
It is a difficult green to come across today, and there really aren’t any substitutes with the succulent, acidic qualities. If you can’t find it, don’t give up on the recipe – it is still very good made with arugula or watercress.”

Serves 4

8 new potatoes (about 1 pound; use round white or waxy yellow
fingerlings if you can get them), peeled
2 bay leaves
Sea salt
1 medium red onion, or 4 baby red onions, cut into small dice
3 handfuls purslane [or arugula or watercress], stems removed
and leaves washed
2 tablespoons best-quality olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Coarse or kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Grated zest of 1/2 lemon

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon white wine
Coarse or kosher salt
4 tablespoons best-quality olive oil

1.  Place the peeled potatoes and bay leaves in a medium saucepan. Cover with warm water, season with sea salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender when poked with a fork, 18 to 25 minutes. Drain and let cool. Cut into 1/4-inch cubes.
2.  Make the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk the mustard, lemon juice, white wine, and a little salt. Make sure the salt dissolves before adding the oil. Whisk in the olive oil, adding it first in drops, then in a slow, steady stream, until it begins to emulsify and thicken. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
3.  In a medium bowl combine the potatoes and onion and pour on the dressing, folding the mixture to disperse the dressing thoroughly. Taste for seasoning and add salt as needed. Let this marinate for up to 2 hours at room temperature.
4.  Right before serving toss the purslane with the olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Lay a bed of purslane on a serving platter or divided among
four individual plates. The potatoes tend to absorb liquid, so you may want
to add more olive oil to them and give them a quick toss before placing
them on top of the purslane. Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper (coarse grind) and lemon zest. Serve at room temperature or chill in the refrigerator and serve cool.

Serving Suggestions: Grilled garlicky sausages,
a bâtard [rustic French bread], and tall glasses of lager.

Featured Archive Recipe:
Warm Potato Salad with Beer Dressing
Potatoes Baked with Chèvre and Thyme

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