Mouli Parsmint, aka Herb Shredder

Hot day for Shredding

When it’s eighty nine degrees F at noon, you wander around in your air conditioned kitchen looking at all the various weirdness you have collected over the years. Hanging on our wall was an honest to god French made herb shredder, a Mouli Parsmint. It’s actually something of a bad mother.

It may resemble a wheelbarrow, but this thing can shred some leaves. Put in some herbs, and crank it up.

The French, They are so Clever

It also pops open, so it can be cleaned. I really should make more pesto every year.

Soft Scrambled Eggs

A DIY Scrambled Egg Kit

Seriously, a post about how to scramble eggs? I would have thought the same thing a few years ago, before the great English food writer Elizabeth David caught my eye. Jane Grigson, an equally talented writer, gave me my first account of David, in what has become one of my all time favorite books, published under various titles, but now sold as Charcuterie and French Pork Cookery. There, Grigson discusses several of David’s recipes from her book French Country Cooking. I immediately bought a three books in one collection of her work, published by the appropriately named Biscuit Books. I now own four of her books, each better than the last.

David hated overly complex and pretentious food, and instead focused on the real thing, such as perfectly scrambled eggs. Her method is superb, taken from a French country cook. The secret is to cook the eggs at the lowest temperature possible, which is something of an antithesis to the more common get your stove as hot as a flamethrower approach. Here’s my paraphrase. This is a two person version.

Ingredients

2 Eggs, Beaten

Salt and Pepper

Heat up a skillet coated with olive oil–I like these Lodge carbon steel ones. Turn the stove down to minimum temp, and let the skillet cool off for a bit. Then pour in the seasoned eggs, and do nothing. Wait until the egg begins to set, and s-l-o-w-l-y stir the eggs with a fork. I always prefer wood utensils, so I made my own.

The eggs should cook slowly, so it is much simpler to serve it at the soft, creamy stage that is the goal of using this method. After a couple of tries, cooking this way will become second nature. It doesn’t hurt any to begin with quality pasture raised eggs, either.

Mesclun

Live Long and Prosper

Mesclun season is about gone here now, but the fall season is just around the corner. The idea of having a real mixture of baby greens came from the beautiful French province of Provence, where mesclun is a fixture in farmer’s markets.

This mixture of lettuces are the result of a 99 cent purchase of seeds from Ebay. In the adjacent bed there is also Mizuna, Bak Choi, and Broccoli Raab. It’s a virtual UN of salad greens.

A planter is all anyone needs to grow Mesclun, which is a note to poor sods who live in cities. I always serve mine with some jumped up remoulade sauce–with honey and hot sauce added.

An International Pot Lid Competition

It’s the USA versus France in the World Cup of Pot Lids

Pot lids are the most underutilized kitchen tools. They save energy, and can also improve greatly the quality of a dish. If you want the pot to boil faster, put a lid on it.

Here we have two distinct styles of lids, the left American and cast iron, and the right copper and French. The American is made by Lodge, the French by Bourgeat. They will be judged by aesthetics, construction, and versatility.

Aesthetics

There’s nothing more attractive in the kitchen than a French copper pot with a riveted copper lid. The French are off to a fast start. I once sat next to a fabulously dressed woman at a French movie during an International conference at the University of Illinois. Her three friends were equally well attired, and they spoke only French. I saw her again the next day, heading one of the conference sessions. Turns out she was the French Minster for Culture under President Mitterrand. France 1, US 0.

Construction

The US turns this period into a rout. Cast iron lids can make a pan into a semi-pressure cooker, especially those on Dutch ovens. As a student of mine said, who was a professional cook, “Nothing lasts forever, but cast iron lasts forever.” France 1, US 1. Into extra time.

Versatility

This extra time is going to be a beast. The French lid is like the AK-47 of lids- it fits our pots and theirs. But then off the bench comes the best US all rounder–the cast iron skillet lid.

Soup to Nuts

Is it a skillet or a lid? False choice–it’s both. Too bad it’s not a striker, as it’s shot bounces off the post with a few seconds to go in extra. Could this be decided on penalty kicks?

Not if I have anything to do with it. As Jon Stewart famously said after an actual World Cup was decided on penalty kicks, that was like deciding the NBA championship “with a game of horse.” Buy some of each, and like Scarlett O’Hara, you’ll never go lid-less again. I think that’s what she said.

Salad Dressing Maison

“Here We are in Our Summer Years, Living on Ice Cream and Chocolate Kisses”– Billy Bragg

I’m always amazed that people actually buy salad dressing, as it takes less than a minute to make a really good one. Here’s my latest creation. By the way, all that title means is “House Salad Dressing.” Once again, everything sounds better in French.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard (Most of the mustard seed actually comes from Canada)

2 tablespoons Catsup

2 tablespoons Mayonnaise

1 tablespoon Sweet Pickle Relish

Salt

Honey to taste

Chipotle Hot Sauce to taste.

The last two are the kickers. This stuff is delicious. Some Romaine lettuce, Cucumbers, and Tomatoes are going to disappear tonight.