I’ve been meaning to come write this post for a long time. For several months, actually, but this whole full-time working thing is pretty tough to handle.
Yes, I, the one who claimed I would never get an office job… went ahead and got an office job. It’s not nearly as bad as I thought it would be, mainly because it doesn’t resemble Office Space one bit. Also, because it’s a foodie job.
Ever since February, I’ve been working at QOOQ, a company that produces a tablet computer for the kitchen. While the product itself is awesome — splash proof, water resistant, you name it — I’m not so much working with the tablet itself as with the content, a job that has me filming video recipes, editing news reports on everything from kale to mushrooms to cheese, translating obscure cuts of meat, making friends with my local butcher, writing snappy copy about parsnips and chatting with famous American chefs… often in the same day.
Needless to say, I love it.
Of course, working full-time at a job you love often leaves little time for anything else. And considering that I’m simultaneously trying to complete my Masters degree (just a few weeks left to
finish start writing my thesis… *yikes*), I’ve been absent. Not only from this blog, but from my own kitchen. I’m reminded of the summer I spent as a waitress, when after 12-hour days of staring at French fries, nothing sounded good to me except for 7-11 Slurpees. When you spend the whole day staring at food — be it pictures, ingredients or dishes themselves — it can be hard to wrestle up the energy and the appetite to pull out the pots and pans at 9PM to make something else that smells like food. I’ve traded my Slurpee in for a beer and sesame breadsticks (which The Country Boy calls bird food), and I’m very lucky to have not one but two people who are very good at following my over-the-phone instructions on how to make a pork roast so that the other inhabitants of my apartment don’t starve, or at the very least suffer malnutrition from subsiding entirely on the aforementioned beer and breadsticks.
But spring is here, if not in weather (weird, weird year for weather in Paris) then in ingredients. My market has started stocking some of my favorite produce to work with, and I can’t help but help myself.
Consider this salad my pledge to try harder to be present, both here with you and in my own kitchen. It was inspired by one of the recipes filmed by my co-worker for the tablet, which I translated for the English version. Needless to say, I know it by heart now.
The original is actually a tart; the parmesan dough is baked into the base, and the salad is stacked on top. The original calls for raw beets, which are nearly impossible to find in Paris (most supermarkets sell them vacuum packed, and even my favorite market vendor sells them wood-roasted, forking them into a paper bag that bleeds all over the rest of your groceries by the time you get home). It was my co-worker’s idea to make it into a salad; I subbed the vegetables for what I had on-hand. The finished product may be too far from Paul-Arthur Berlan‘s original to be considered a variation, but that’s beside the point. The important thing is that it’s delicious.
I’m excited to be bringing you more recipes and stories over the next few months… thank you all for being patient while I got adjusted to being a grown-up. I’m both surprised and happy to say that it’s much more fun than I thought it would be.
Radish, Carrot, Mushroom and Parmesan Salad
For the Parmesan pastry:
1.5 ounces flour
1.5 ounces grated Parmesan cheese
1.5 ounces butter
For the salad
1 cup French breakfast radishes
2 cups button mushrooms
2 medium carrots
1 spring onion
7 green olives
baby arugula (optional: I have since made this salad with the addition, and it’s excellent as well!)
For the dressing
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
salt and pepper, to taste
Prepare the pastry. Combine the flour, butter and parmesan, rubbing it between your fingertips until it resembles wet sand. Pack the dough into a disk and wrap with plastic wrap. Place in the freezer while you prepare the salad.
Using a mandoline or a very sharp knife, slice the radishes thinly. Stem the mushrooms and brush them clean. Slice them thinly as well. Peel the carrots. Slice half of one into thin rounds, and grate the rest of them with a box grater.
Mince the bulb of the spring onion. Thinly slice the white and light green portions of the stems. Discard the rest.
Finely chop the olives. Toss all of the prepared vegetables together.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Using a box grater, grate the pastry evenly over the surface of a baking tray. Bake the pastry until it is golden brown. Use a fork to break it apart into crumbles the moment it comes out of the oven, before it has time to set up.
Drizzle the oil and vinegar over the vegetables. Season with salt and pepper and toss to combine.
Finely mince the chives. Sprinkle the parmesan crumbles and chives over the top of the salad. Serve immediately.