Let's take a break, shall we, and make some salad.
Frisée with shallot and strong mustard vinaigrette
It's a bit counterintuitive, but it's the chicories and not the leaf lettuces that are the most cooling. The key is to moderate their bitterness with something sweet and sour. Here, the sweetness comes from marinated shallots and the mustard base, the sourness and spiciness from vinegar and the strong pepper of the mustard. The ingredients here are simple.
1 head frisée (per two servings)
1 medium shallot
good white wine vinegar
strong mustard with green pepper (moutarde au poivre fort)
extra virgin olive oil
Finely dice the shallot. Put it in a small mixing bowl. Pour in vinegar until the shallots are just covered. Add a pinch of salt and stir to dissolve. Set aside to macerate. You'll want to give them fifteen to twenty minutes.
Cut the root end off the frisée and separate the thin leaves by hand into a colander. Rinse well with cold water, then lay out between clean towels or paper towels and pat dry.
To complete the dressing, add 2 to 2.5 parts oil to your vinegar and shallots. Then add one teaspoon or so of mustard. You can just scoop it out with a fork and then stir with the tines. The mustard will help emulsify the dressing. Return the frisée to the colander and dress there. I like dressing in a colander because any unemulsified oil and liquid will drain off, leaving a perfectly dressed green salad.
Salad of grated cleriac, carrot, rutabaga, and green apple
Root vegetables aren't just for the cold months, stewed or roasted. Raw, grated, and dressed generously with citrus, they make complex, flavorful salads for the summer. Here, the unique flavor of celeriac (celery root), the sweetness of fresh carrots, the slightly bitter, slightly sweet, turnip-y flavor of rutabaga, and the tartness of green apple make a very special and colorful dish.
1 celery root
1 medium carrot
1 tart green apple (such as a Granny Smith)
juice of l large lemon, freshly squeezed
Grated vegetables brown quickly. Grating vastly increases the ratio of surface area to volume, which speeds oxidation. So the key to this recipe is to work quickly and logically.
First juince the lemon. I try to get every bit, and I like a little residual pulp. Dissolve in a generous pinch of salt. Then peel your root vegetabls and divide them into workable chunks. Skin the apple, core it, and do the same. Grate them quickly on a moderate setting--if you've got a food processor, acquit yourself of its glorious efficiency. If not, put some elbow grease into it, you pansy.
Toss the vegetables together in a bowl. Dress them with oil until they are thoroughly coated but not weighted down or soggy. Add the lemon juice. Mix together well. Add white pepper to taste.
A nice presentation is to use a small prep bowl, or an ice-cream scoop to make clean portions on the plate.