AUTHOR: Julia TITLE: Kitchen Tales - Watercress Salad DATE: 11/29/2008 10:44:00 PM ----- BODY:
As a line-cook working in restaurants, I can tell you Saturday nights are ugly. As my old boss, Lydia Shire always said, this one’s for the house. With the majority of the restaurants’ business on one night, we worked at break-neck speed to serve as many dinners as possible. The specials were designed for speed not creativity. By contrast, Sunday nights were for the kitchen. With the head chefs taking the night off, this was my opportunity to try out my menu ideas as specials. It was also a chance to have fun with the staff. The spirit in the kitchen was lively and jovial, unwinding from the craziness of the previous night. Sunday nights we also got a little lazy.

On one Sunday night, I ran out of watercress on my station. I raced to the walk-in refrigerator to get another bunch. And as I ran back to my station, I tried to untwist the rubber-band that held the bunch together. I dressed the watercress, mounded it on the plate and put it in the window. Michael Murphy grabbed the plate to bring to the table. Not five minutes later, Michael returned with the plate and a rubber-band on top. Whoops! Apparently, I had not effectively untwisted the rubber band from the watercress.

To have a little fun, I ran back to the walk-in and pulled the rubber bands off of everything I could find: watercress, scallions, leeks and celery. I mounded them on a plate and garnished it with a sprig of watercress. Into the window, I called Michael back to the kitchen. With my apologies, I said, this is how the salad had meant to be presented.

Michael one-upped me, and served the “salad” to his customers. His guests were very good natured, and we all had a good laugh!

Braised Endive with Watercress and Apple Salad

2 large endive, cut in half lengthwise, or 4 small endive
1 bunch watercress
1 red apple
3/4 cup grated gruyere cheese
2 lemons, juiced
2 tbs. sugar
1 shallot, diced
1 tbs. cider vinegar
3 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to tastea

1. Put endive in pot with sugar and lemon juice. Cover with water. Season water to taste with salt and pepper, and additional lemon juice or sugar as necessary. Bring water to a boil, reduce heat to simmer. Let endive simmer for 30 minutes, or until tender.

2. Meanwhile, Core and slice apple (do not peel). Toss apples and watercress with vinegar, olive oil and shallots. Season to taste with salt and pepper (and fresh thyme if you’d like).

3. When the endive is tender, remove from liquid. Put endive in an oven-proof dish. Cover with cheese. Melt cheese in oven (350) for 5 minutes.

4. Serve half a large endive, or 1 whole small endive with a small watercress and apple salad.

Watercress Picture comes from Mochachocolatarita.

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----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Heather DATE:11/29/2008 11:22:00 PM cute story :) i'll have to dine out on sundays more - sounds like there's a lot of creativity going on on that day! ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) DATE:11/30/2008 07:53:00 AM I'm giggling -- and if someone had served a rubber band salad to me, there would have been an extra large tip left at the end of the meal, for a sense of humor! ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Julia DATE:12/01/2008 06:22:00 PM Thanks, Heather. I think now, more and more chefs are working Sundays and taking mid-week nights off.

Lydia, I'm sure Michael would have appreciated it! ----- --------