I’ve had my eye on a certain cookbook for a long time now, and finally am able to call it my own. So I have to say that I am a huge nerd, and that’s ok with me. On Saturday afternoons, nothing makes me happier than watching a bit of Maryland public television, and visiting my good friend Jacques Pépin. Fast Food My Way is a compilation of his recipes from this show, wonderfully simple French dishes, all quick enough to put together for a weeknight dinner, without sacrificing his usual elegance or flavor. What’s particularly appealing is his incorporation of his childhood favorites from his mother’s kitchen, one of which stood out to me for its simplicity. Pépin remembers his maman’s salad that she would frequently serve the kids, a simple salad of bibb lettuce tossed with a cream dressing.
For this dish, use a high quality heavy cream, preferably not ultra-pasteurized, or else it will have difficulty thickening up. (I use cream from Trickling Springs Dairy; expensive yes, but you won’t be sorry.) The sweet cream really shines through, light and velvety on the tongue. Fresh spring vegetables are recommended, all lush and verdant. I had some nice thick asparagus and fresh peas on hand. Blanched brussels sprouts would be especially tasty too.
Be careful not to overwhip the cream. If overwhipped, the dressing will thicken quickly after the vinegar addition. It it thickens too much, dilute it with 1 tbsp water before tossing it with the vegetables.
1/4 cup good quality heavy cream
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 1/2 tsp red wine vinegar
1. Just before serving, put the cream, salt, and pepper in a salad bowl and whip with a whisk for about 15 seconds, or just until frothy. Stir in the vinegar.
2. Add the vegetables or greens, and lightly toss in the dressing. Serve immediately.