By Nancy Pollard
After owning one of the best cooking stores in the US for 47 years—La Cuisine in Alexandria, Virginia—Nancy Pollard writes Kitchen Detail, a blog about food in all its aspects—recipes, film, books, travel, superior sources, and food-related issues.
MARCH IS tough, even for the tiny club (and I am a founding member) that adores cold and gray weather. You get these warm days and then a freeze. The sun comes out and your bulbs blossom and then you get glacial sleet. Our first post on the Forlorn Hope month of March explains it all. This year, instead of trying to find a menu that features what you might forage at a local market, which is usually radishes and rutabagas, I am going with a Pink & Green theme. It’s almost an Early April Fool’s Menu. The terrine can be made one day ahead and behaves well in the refrigerator. The salad is based on one I learned from a French chef years ago, long before avocados became ubiquitous on just about everything. The blood orange ice cream with its blood orange caramel sauce is from a cookbook from Joyce Goldstein, who had a marvelously creative restaurant called Square One in San Francisco. She now serves as a restaurant consultant and continues to write about food.
A Surprising Salad
This is a delightful and light combination that can be made as a large salad on a platter or as individual servings. You can make the “suprêmes” and keep them covered in their juice a day in advance. Not so much with the avocado. Cutting citrus into suprêmes is a nifty knife skill to have. They are much nicer to eat than just sliced cross-sections of an orange or a grapefruit. Look at these instructions and practice making them for a fruit salad. The knife I use is a tomato knife or a classic small chef’s knife. I use microgreens as the base, since they are so abundant now at local markets as well as grocery stores. Pink peppercorns when used as a garnish give any light dish a delightful peppery and sweet taste; their flavor is diminished if you cook with them. They are much softer than black peppercorns and crush easily in a mortar and pestle.
Just to clear up some pink-peppercorn myths, they are actually not a peppercorn, but rather the dried berry of two somewhat related bushes. One is the Schinus Molle or Peruvian Peppertree (Baie Rose on French spice labels) and the other is Schinus Terebinthifolia, native to Brazil (Baie Rose de Bourbon on French spice labels). Both species are considered safe to eat by the FDA after a somewhat contentious history in which the French government threatened to sue the US when pink peppercorns were banned here. People who are allergic to cashews may have a similar reaction to pink peppercorns as they are members of the cashew family. That’s about the extent of their danger.
You can also toast some shelled pistachios and add that to the final garnish. If you can purchase the Sicilian Bronte pistachios, they are much more flavorful and greener than the ones from California or Iran. Toast them in a frying pan over medium-low heat, and add them with the crushed pink peppercorns.
Pink Grapefruit & Avocado Salad With Pistachio Oil
- 3 or 4 pink grapefruits
- 3 ripe but unblemished avocados
- Enough microgreens to plate 6 servings
- Good-quality pistachio oil
- Fleur de sel or Maldon flake salt
- Pink peppercorns, lightly crushed, for garnish
- Toasted shelled pistachios, for garnish
- Peel the grapefruits and segment the slices into “suprêmes.”
- Peel the avocados and cut slices to somewhat match the size of the suprêmes.
- On each plate, arrange a small handful of microgreens to make a nest.
- In a circle, lay alternating slices of the grapefruit and the avocados.
- Drizzle with pistachio oil and a sprinkling of salt and garnish with a few toasted pistachios and crushed pink peppercorns.
- This salad can be easily made on a platter and served to guests or be part of a buffet.
Salmon, Peas, Scallops, Oh My
This terrine was a colorful shocker when I first made it from The Best of Gourmet 1991. This was one volume of a rich series from the staff’s favorites from the previous year. So in this case, it would have been picked from the magazines of 1990. Peas and scallops form the base of the terrine, and chunks of skinned salmon fillet are folded in. The Gourmet editors offered a chive butter sauce to serve it warm or a tzatziki sauce if you serve it at room temperature. You can actually make this the day before and refrigerate it. I would not freeze it as the terrine gets a bit weepy when defrosted. The little pinkish skinned potatoes are color coordinated to suit our desperation Forlorn Hope color scheme. Toss the steamed potatoes with the beurre blanc (including the shallots) and then garnish each slice of the terrine with some of the remaining sauce.
Salmon, Scallop, and Pea Terrine
- ¾ pound sea scallops, rinsed, drained and patted dry
- 1 cup shelled fresh or frozen peas, cooked until tender, drained and cooled
- 1 tablespoon lightly beaten egg white
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream (not ultrapasteurized)
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- ½ teaspoon dried tarragon
- 1 pound skinless salmon fillet, cut into ½-inch cubes
- Butter for the terrine mold
- In a food processor, purée the scallops and peas until the mixture is almost smooth.
- Add the egg white, cream, salt, and tarragon, then purée mixture until smooth.
- Transfer the mixture to a bowl and fold in the salmon chunks.
- Set up a roasting pan with warm water. (I first put the pan on low heat on the stovetop to warm the water.)
- Transfer the mixture to a buttered 1-quart rectangular buttered terrine mold or loaf pan and put the terrine in the water bath. Cover the terrine with its lid or some aluminum foil.
- Bake in a preheated 375F oven for between 30 and 45 minutes. (My terrine is enameled cast iron so it takes a bit longer than a metal loaf pan would.)
- Remove the terrine or loaf pan from the water bath and remove lid or foil.
- Allow the terrine to stand at room temperature for 10 minutes and then carefully pour off the excess liquid.
- Invert the terrine onto a platter and serve with a sauce of your choice or with an excellent extra virgin olive oil.
- You can bake this dish one day ahead, but keep it covered and chilled.
- Allow it to come to room temperature before serving
- I slice this terrine and plate it or slice it and lay out on a platter. .
Winter Fruit for a Spring Dessert
While we both love Italian gelato, my husband and I are split on sorbet and granita. I love them both and he can’t stand either. But we are united in our affection for blood oranges. So here is a uniquely delicious compromise in a cookbook that we sold in the shop along with others written by Joyce Goldstein: Blood orange ice cream with blood orange caramel sauce. I have never had great luck in getting creamy non-egg-yolk ice cream (cornstarch, xanthan gum are the usual stand-ins), so just bear with me and Joyce on the nine yolks! I made a pistachio praline powder from this recipe for pistachio brittle featured on Spruce Eats as a garnish. Their recipe gives the option for light corn syrup or Lyles Golden Syrup. If you can purchase it, for me Lyles Golden Syrup has a better flavor than corn syrup.
The ice cream will have a brighter flavor if you squeeze your juice from blood oranges, but I have used bottled blood orange juice (with no additives and not made from concentrate). Keep some small shards of the brittle for Forlorn Hope mood emergencies with tea or coffee. Goldstein’s idea for a blood orange caramel sauce is inspired. I have even used it as a glaze on pound cakes. You can add water to it in a saucepan over medium-low heat to get the consistency desired.
Blood Orange Ice Cream & Caramel Sauce
- 2 cups blood orange juice (12 oranges)
- 4 cups heavy cream
- ½ cup caster sugar
- Grated zest of 4 blood oranges
- 9 egg yolks
- 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract or ¾ teaspoon Vanilla Essence from Grasse
- For the Blood Orange Caramel Sauce
- 2 cups caster sugar
- ¼ cup water
- 1 cup blood orange juice
- Heat the juice to boiling in a saucepan and boil until it is reduced to 1 cup.
- In another saucepan mix the cream, sugar and ¾ of the zest and heat until barely simmering. You will have to stir to help dissolve the sugar. Remove from heat and allow to stand for 10 minutes.
- Whisk the yolks until completely blended.
- Whisk 1 cup of the hot cream mixture into the egg yolks and then add the rest of the cream mixture, while whisking.
- Cook over medium heat stirring constantly until the cream is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. (I use my thermometer and remove from heat when it reaches 160-170F.) Never allow this custard mixture to boil.
- Strain the custard into a mixing bowl.and stir in the reduced juice, vanilla, and remaining orange zest.
- I cool my mixture in the fridge for several hours, or in the freezer in less time—you want the mixture to be completely cold when you stick your very clean finger down the center.
- Freeze in an ice cream maker following the instructions of your machine.
- Combine the sugar and water in a heavy saucepan and caramelize. Don’t over-stir as that inhibits the caramelization.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat and pour the juice into the caramel.
- The sauce will harden, but stir over low heat and it will become smooth.
- I always add the zest even though Joyce Goldstein indicates that it is optional.
- You can warm the sauce over hot water if it solidifies.
- The ice cream will keep in the freezer, covered tightly in a container, for about a month.
- The sauce lasts indefinitely (also covered) in the fridge.