Friday, May 19, 2006

Spring Fantasia

Sausage, tomatoes, potatoes, tarragon, Dijon, crusty French bread. Sparkling in a lemony zesty dew. All dancing in tight formation around on the plate in some sort of Spring fantasia opera.

With strawberries in the second act. Bright red, warm and juicy. Floating across the stage on silky puffy ethereal clouds of eggy pudding. Under a sprinkle of powdered sweetness.

Must be some sort of dream. I’m sure the alarm will go off. The eye lids will open. The delicious fantasy will end.

This is not the sort of stuff I usually get to make. Hard to sell here because it seems too heavy.

But I compromised.

The sausage is not fried in all it’s greasy goodness, but simmered. In broth. With much of the heaviness tossed. Down the drain.

As with the potatoes. Not roasted in the oven with oil and rosemary. But boiled. Light as can be.

With tomatoes and spinach. Fresh. Evoking the lightness of spring as well.

And a dressing based on tarragon (by favorite herb by far). (Even better than basil). Tarragon and tomatoes are one of my favorite combinations. And just a dab of Dijon, with a super light vinegar like rice wine vinegar, or maybe a sherry or champagne vinegar, so the flavor of the tarragon really shines through. And a touch of lemon juice and zest to bring out the highlights.

So I kept it light. Still forced to cash in some of my built up credit for all the vegan meals over the last few weeks. But it was worth it.

And the dessert – I wait all year for the strawberries to come down enough in price, and to go up enough in quality, that we can ‘waste’ pounds of them on a single dessert.

I don’t care much for the name – clafoutis. We generally mispronounce it as ‘klow-foutè’ Just because it sounds funny, I guess. But a rose by any other name would still smell as sweet.

All in all, a pretty light dessert. Just eggs and strawberries.

But dessert always gets the bum rap of being bad. A calorie bomb. Justified or not. Like it rides into the end of a dinner on a Harley, with tattoos and too much leather. Seductive to some, rejected by others, but always tainted as a naughty pleasure at best.

So there it is. I would call this a late Spring dinner. Something best enjoyed Al Fresco. With a good bottle of wine. Fresh bread. And good friends. The salad light, despite the sausage and potatoes. With fresh tarragon and tomatoes. And the strawberries approaching their peak flavor intensity for the year. Certainly they will start to wane again within the next two to three weeks, at least here. It just needs a simple soup, maybe a fresh pea, or the roasted red pepper soup with the aioli, to round it out.

Spring Sausage and Potato Salad with Tarragon Dressing
Recipe by surfindaave

2 pounds small potatoes, boiled until just tender, cooled, and cut into thick slices
2 pounds spicy fresh sausage, simmered in broth until cooked, drained and sliced into thick slices
2 pounds roma tomatoes, cut into thick slices
1 bunch fresh spinach, washed and ends trimmed
½ bunch tarragon, stems removed and chopped
1 shallot, minched
1 clove garlic, minced
½ tsp Dijon mustard
1-2 tsp rice or sherry vinegar
zest from 1 lemon
juice from 1 lemon
salt, pepper
olive oil

Arrange spinach on a large serving platter. Arrange sausage, potato and tomato slices on top of spinach in a decorative fashion.

In a bowl, add tarragon, shallot, garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, and whisk to combine. Slowly drizzle in olive oil, whisking vigorously, until the dressing emulsifies. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon dressing over salad evenly. Serve. Enjoy!

Strawberry Clafoutis

Adapted by surfindaave

1 ¼ pounds fresh strawberries, stems removed, washed carefully, and cut in half
4 eggs
1 cup sugar, seperated
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1 ½ cups milk
Powdered sugar for garnish, if desired

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease a 13” oven dish well with butter, be sure to go up the sides of the dish to the rim. Arrange the strawberry halves in the baking dish so they cover the bottom evenly.

In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, ½ cup of the sugar, and the vanilla. Stir in the flour. Whisk in the milk to form a smooth batter. Pour the batter over the strawberries.

Place the baking pan in the oven and bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until well puffed, and lightly browned. The center should be sponge-like, not runny. Remove from oven. Let cool for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired. Spoon into bowls, serve warm. Enjoy!

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Blogger gattina said...

great writing (as usual) and I enjoy reading it so much!
Your sausage and potato salad look gorgeous! I like boiling sausage too... but haven't used tarragon... I think your dressing is splendid, tarragon will be on my on shopping list.

4:32 AM  
Blogger MM said...

A magnificent feast! I love the presentation of your salad and wish I could get fresh strawberries that does not taste like lemons here.

3:42 PM  
Blogger surfindaave said...

Gattina, Stephanie,

Thanks for the comments! The dressing reslly went well with the salad - better than I expected. And we had fun arranging the salad.

Odd;y enough, SoCal is a major strawberry growing area, so we get some really good berries most of the Spring!

7:00 PM  

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