Apart from one recent cloudy day, our spell of summer heat and sunniness just keeps going and going. From about 10 a.m. on, it's too hot to garden, too hot to do anything much outside beyond find a patch of shade, settle into one of our growing collection of vintage deckchairs and read or snooze or watch the butterflies and honeybees hovering around the lavender. I love thinking that the end result of a bee on an oregano flower will eventually find its way into a jar of honey. Worker bees indeed.
What we're eating are mostly salads. Salade Niçoise shows up about once every ten days.Also salade Lyonnaise--that's the one made with frisée, lardons, croutons and a poached egg. Adding cubes of potato or, even yummier, tiny new potatoes (or, as I'm doing today, haricots verts) makes it more of a meal.
Backtracking: a couple of years ago, I watched Jamie Oliver put together a summer dish of new potatoes, smoked salmon and horseradish cream that looked so incredible I knew I'd be making it someday. That day came last week.
I've got most of Oliver's books but my favourite, by far, is Jamie at Home which combines gardening, harvesting and cooking. This particular salad calls for new potatoes, smoked salmon, capers, dill or fennel fronds, crème fraîche and horseradish. I could probably find jars of horseradish in the "English aisle" at various local supermarkets but I didn't have any on hand so I simply left it out--and it was still brilliant.
Here's my adaptation with notes for future riffs. This is enough for two as a main course on a hot summer night. Maybe fresh drippy peaches afterwards.
Smoked Salmon and Potato Salad
1/2 pound new potatoes, all the same size or cut into same-sized chunks
2 tsp fresh lemon zest
2 Tbsps fresh lemon juice
2 tsp red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp capers, drained
3 Tbsp crème fraîche (store-bought or home-made)
6 oz smoked salmom
1/4 cup snipped dill or fennel tops
Steam the potatoes and, while still warm, toss with a dressing you've made from the lemon zest, 1 Tbsp lemon juice, 3-4 Tbsp olive oil and the capers. Season to taste.
Mix the rest of the lemon juice with the crème fraîche.
Arrange the slices of smoked salmon on a plate. Top with potatoes. Spoon the crème fraîche over the salmon and sprinkle the whole plate with chopped dill or fennel.
Add one or more of the following:
- Fine, thin haricots verts
- Just-cooked fresh peas
- Rings of thinly sliced red onion
As Julia would say: "Bon appétit!"