Looking for a classy gift for your favorite foodie this holiday season? Take a gander at the newest cookbook by restaurateur/chef Laurent Tourondel "Fresh From the Market: Seasonal Cooking with Laurent Tourondel and Charlotte March" (Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2010). I received a review copy from the publishers and it has been my guilty pleasure to ponder its pages throughout the last month.
I think cookbooks cleave into three different categories: first, there are the Constant Companions, those besplattered and dogeared stalwarts in the kitchen library that one refers to time and again to check on how to make a certain kind of cookie or sauce. Then there are the Acquaintances, those specialty cookbooks that contain recipes for a certain kind of cuisine (baking, garlic, Thai food, etc.) that one dips into occasionally. Then, there are the Inspirationals, those gorgeous cookbooks that are filled with ingredients that are new or cooking techniques that are waiting to be tried out. The photos beckon, the recipes entice and they are cookbooks that end up on the nightstand to provide inspiration for your foodie dreams or that you snuggle up with in a cozy chair and pore over as one would a favorite novel.
Fresh From the Market falls into the third category for me. It's an Inspirational, packed with luscious new-to-me seasonings and fish and vegetable varieties that will prove an inspiration to me many times over. I will go to this cookbook when I am in a cooking rut or want to seek out something new to plant in my kitchen garden or buy at the farmer's markets.
Accompanied by the lush food photography of the aptly named Quentin Bacon, this cookbook appeals to all the senses. Some of the recipes involve some advanced kitchen techniques or special equipment, but many do not; however, all will inspire the cook to head back to his or her batterie de cuisine and start trying out the wonderful flavor combinations.
Organized by the seasons, and further categorized into recipes for cocktails, appetizers, main courses, desserts and breakfast, this book is a gem and will have you bookmarking pages right and left. The authors also provide wine and beer recommendations for each recipe so that one can experience the whole restaurant experience at home.
I tried out an amazing main dish salad from the book, Nantucket Bay Scallops with Smoked Fingerling Potato Salad, Endive and McIntosh Apple. While I had to make some adaptations to Tourondel's recipe, I plated up a restaurant quality salad that left my husband licking the plate and my kids scarfing up the leftover potato salad that I had intended for a Round II the next day. Guess what...I made the recipe all over again the next day anyway.
This Inspirational cookbook does have many recipes that call for specific vegetable or fish varieties, but as with any cookbook, one can easily adapt the original recipe for one's own market conditions and family palate. In my case, as shown above, I left out the bacon for the vegetarians, couldn't find hickory wood chips this time of year so my potatoes remained unsmoked, and certainly my scallop searing technique needs refinement (though in my defense I will note that my supermarket scallops were previously frozen and subsequently let off a lot of liquid while cooking). Still, an elegant, plate-clearing experience was had by all.
With permission from the publishers, I am able to share the recipe and ethereal cookbook photo for this mouthwatering dish below. You can also sample several other of the recipes from this gorgeous volume at the Amazon page for this book, including Steak au Poivre with Green Oak Lettuce and Homemade Boursin, Mammy Louisette's Ginger-Rhubarb Tart, Beef Shank Stew and Red Apple and Bourbon Fizz.
"Nantucket Bay Scallops with
Smoked Fingerling Potato Salad, Endive, & McIntosh Apple
McIntosh apples grow abundantly in New England, making them one of my local favorites.
The red and green skin conceals a tender-crisp, pale ﬂesh that is not overly sweet and
adds the perfect crunch to this salad.
2 slices thick-cut bacon
3/4 pound fingerling potatoes
1 cup hickory wood chips, soaked in water
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons store-bought barbecue sauce
1 tablespoon mustard oil
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon finely diced celery
1 tablespoon finely diced red onion
1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon canola oil
11/2 pounds Nantucket Bay scallops
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
1 head endive, sliced on the bias into 1/2-inch strips
1 small McIntosh apple, peeled and cut into matchstick-size strips
1 bunch watercress, large stems removed
Make the potato salad
Cook the bacon in a small sauté pan over medium heat until crispy, about 5 minutes. Drain on a plate lined with paper towels. Once cool, roughly chop the bacon.
Place the potatoes in a large pot and cover them with cold water. Bring the water to a boil over high heat and salt liberally with kosher salt. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 18 minutes. Drain the potatoes. When they are cool enough to handle, peel off the skins.
Line the bottom of a pot with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Drain the hickory wood chips and place them in the pot. Heat the wood chips over a burner until they are smoking. Place the potatoes in a steamer insert and set the insert in the pot. Cover tightly with a lid, allowing no smoke to escape from the pot. Smoke the potatoes over medium heat for about 5 minutes.
Whisk the mayonnaise, barbecue sauce, mustard oil, and sherry vinegar in a large bowl to blend.
Add the warm potatoes to the dressing and, using a fork, crush the potatoes into the vinaigrette.
Fold in the chopped bacon, parsley, celery, onion, and tarragon and season to taste with sea salt and pepper. Let the salad stand for 20 minutes to allow all the ﬂavors to incorporate, stirring occasionally.
Prepare the scallops
Heat the canola oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Season the scallops with salt and pepper. When the pan is smoking hot, add the scallops. Sear the scallops on 1 side until caramelized, about 2 minutes. Once the scallops have caramelized, swirl the pan several times and continue to cook for 2 more minutes. Transfer the scallops to a plate lined with paper towels to absorb any excess moisture.
Assemble the salad
Whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic in a medium bowl to blend. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Toss the endive, apple, and watercress in the vinaigrette to coat.
Spoon the potato salad in the center of 6 plates. Place the scallops over the potato salad and then top with the watercress salad. Serve immediately.
This dish is perfect with an un-oaked Chardonnay that offers notes of green apple, lemon zest, and tangerines, such as Chardonnay, “Clone 76 Inox,” Melville, 2006, Sta. Rita Hills, California. "