Making Lunch for Martine

Although I have had the great luck to dine in French homes often, I must admit it is a bit rare for me to invite the French to dine chez moi–my little vacation studio is just right for two, but not too many more than that.

But last Saturday, my friend Martine, who is also my landlady, mentioned that she would be coming by the Maison Frere (where I rent my studio), so I asked her if she wanted to join us for lunch. Here is a photo of Martine and Dave, enjoying tapas the other day.

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I knew that Martine had to work later in the day, so she wouldn’t want too heavy of a lunch. I decided to make my Salade Americaine.

Salade Americaine is, roughly, what the French would call a chef’s salad. It’s not to be confused with Salade du Chef, which is the salad of the chef–usually just the chef’s take on greens with his housemade vinaigrette (imagine all the Americans who have been confused by that one!)

A Salade Americaine usually brings lettuce, ham, boiled eggs, and cheese–just like our chef’s salads–but there may be some extra touches: grated carrots, fresh corn, roast chicken, etc. And of course, it is always artfully arranged.

So, step-by-step, here is how I made the Salade Americaine for Martine:

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Above: These are many of the ingredients–chicken, cheese, radishes, beets, eggs, mustard, olives–you’ll see!

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Above: First, I prepped the beets. So easy to do in France, since nearly every supermaket sells them precooked (a holdover, I’m told, from WWII, when, to help bonnes femmes save on fuel at home, beets were sold precooked….the practice stuck, fortunately.)

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Above: Prepping the beets was simple–I just tossed them with a little of my Vinaigrette Maison and topped with crumbled blue cheese.

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Above: Salade Americaine, like a chef’s salad in the U.S., includes some strips of cheese. In america, it’s Swiss Cheese; here, I suggest Comte. You need much less cheese–no huge planks here, just a few julienne-style strips.

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Above: Next, I prepped the eggs. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m quite taken by French mayonnaise, since it comes in little tubes, making it easy to pipe. At home, simply doctor up a little mayo with Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper, and simply top your eggs with this concoction.

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Above: While prepping the other ingredients, my chicken breasts (fermier, or farm-raised) were roasting in the oven, drizzled with a little olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper. I also prepped my radishes. You’ll see!

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Above: I set my table….with plenty of eaux minerals and Rose wine, of course. Martine arrived, and we had aperitifs, then sat down to the jolie table with my salade:

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As you can see, I arranged well-tossed greens (also with Vinaigrette Maison), I added some slices of great-quality ham, arranged everything nicely, also served some pre-made crated carrot salad….and check out the way I served the radishes: On baguette slices, spread with butter and topped with radishes and salt. I also had some olives and pickles….

No recipes needed, really, except for the Vinaigrette Maison, which you can find here.

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