Nextaphile

My adventures recreating Next Restaurant’s food at home

Salade Irma

Next Restaurant recipe for Salade Irma, pages 90-94, from the Paris 1906 – Escoffier at the Ritz cookbook.
Salad Irma, Escoffier 3839*

Next Restaurant recipe for Escoffier's Salade Irma

Next Restaurant’s recipe for Escoffier’s salad of greens, cucumber, cauliflower, asparagus, nasturtium and lemon vinaigrette, from their Paris 1906 menu.

Prep. Prep. Prep. There’s a lotta chopping in this recipe. Cucumbers to dice. Hard vegetables to be blanched in salt water to tenderize them a bit (and set their colors). Slicing radishes…

3839 Salade Irma
Mix together equal quantities of diced cucumber, diamond-shaped pieces of French beans, asparagus tips and cauliflower flowerets. Mix with Sauce Mayonnaise [Escoffier 202] containing a little cream and chopped tarragon and chervil.

Arrange dome shape in a salad bowl and cover with finely shredded lettuce mixed with garden cress.

Decorate with Nasturtium flowers and round slices of radish.

*Escoffier, pg. 465

Cucumber
First off, I have a question. Why are English cucumbers always shrink-wrapped? To retain their water and extend their shelf life. To do the same thing, most regular cucumbers are waxed. Some say the wax used is a carcinogin, and thus the plastic wrap is better. But plastic off-gasses. So in American grocery store chains you’re screwed either way.

I peeled and diced half of the cucumber, reserving the other half for salads later. Then stored the diced cucumber in a sealed container in the fridge.

Cauliflower
I sheared off the smallest of flowerets/florets i could get from the head of cauliflower, then blanched them in a big pot of salted water.

Green Beans
I cut up some green beans, or haricots vert, diagonally. (The recipe says to “cut them on the bias,” but do green beans really have a bias?)

Then blanched them in a big pot of salted water.

Asparagus
I cut off the tips of some asparagus, then cut up the stalks and blanched them in a big pot of salted water.

To Cook the Vegetables
I filled a large pot of water with water and added a bunch of salt, brought to a boil, then blanched the cauliflower, green beans, asparagus tips, asparagus stalks separately until they were each slightly tender. I plunged each in an icewater bath, patted dry, and reserved separately.

For a discussion on what Chef Thomas Keller calls big pot blanching, look here, or view the video!

Prep and blanch the green vegetables

Frisee
I washed the frilly little things and patted them dry, half expecting them to yip-yap at me.

Don’t get me wrong. I like lettuce, especially frisee. But I can never look at it without thinking about little toy dogs.

Frisee

Radish Slices
I sliced the radishes as thinly as I could. In the cookbook, they have you cut them in half. At the restaurant, they were whole round slices. It’s up to you… I reserved the slices to my prep area.

Lemon Vinaigrette
This is a great little recipe for a quick vinaigrette. I’ve made something like this for twenty-some years now. Learned it from the chef at a restaurant I was working at during college. Some of the servers, though, would call it “vinegar-ette” to my dismay. As the lead night cook, I had to sometimes take it upon myself to pistol whip them into shape, yelling “it’s not ‘a small vinegar’ — it’s vi-NAH-grett!”

Simply whisked together the lemon juice, grapeseed oil, dijon mustard, black pepper, sugar and a little salt to taste. If you recycle, save your old glass jars and use one: put all the ingredients in it, screw on the top, and shake! Easy.

Lemon vinegar mustard salad dressing

Ingredients
Fresh lemon juice
Grapeseed oil
Morton’s kosher salt, to taste
C&H cane sugar
Black pepper
Dijon mustard

202 Sauce Mayonnaise
Many composed cold sauces are derived from Mayonnaise and it is therefore classified as a basic sauce in the same way as Espagnole and Velouté. Its preparation is very simple provide note is taken of the principles outlined in the following recipe:

Ingredients
egg yolks (these must be unblemished)
oil
fine salt
ground white pepper
vinegar (or its equivalent in lemon juice if the sauce is required to be very white)

Whisk the yolks of egg in a basin with the salt, pepper and a little of the vinegar or a few drops of lemon juice.

Add and whisk in the oil, drop by drop to begin with, then faster in a thread as the sauce begins to thicken.

Adjust the consistency occasionally by adding the vinegar or lemon juice.

Lastly add … boiling water which is added to ensure that the emulsification holds if the sauce is to be reserved for later use…

*Escoffier, pg. 30

Mayonnaise Dressing
The above is Escoffier’s recipe for Sauce Mayonnaise, which serves as the basis for this salad’s dressing. Likewise, with all other recipes herein, I have omitted quantities in respect of the intellectual properties of their creators. (i.e., gotta buy the book!)

I use a Cuisinart SmartStick immersion blender to mix up mayo. Every time I’ve tried with a plain old wire whisk, I get nothing. Here’s a video of how easy it is:

Then cut up some chervil and tarragon, and mixed them into the mayo with in some creme fraiche. And voilà!

Ingredients
Egg yolks
Fresh lemon juice
Grapeseed oil
Morton’s kosher salt, to taste
Creme fraiche
Alta-Dena whole milk
Fresh chervil and tarragon leaves

Veggies, blanched and dressed

To Assemble and Serve
I mixed equal portions of the cauliflower, cucumber, sliced asparagus and green beans together with some of the Mayonnaise Dressing. Next Restaurant served a small portion of this salad with the Paris menu. Each had three spears of asparagus and radish slices.

Salade Irma

Since we were only having a couple of courses in our dinner, we opted to enlarge the serving.

Assembly

In the center of the plates, I mounded some of the dressed veggies. Then dressed some of the frisee with the lemon vinaigrette, and topped the veggie mounds with it. I plated five asparagus spears and radish slices to an order instead of three. (Let’s go with the larger “Super-Size Me” American helping over the smaller French portions…)

Salade Irma

I cheated. Could not find nasturtiums, so I opted for a package of edible flowers from Whole Foods. Not the same, I grant you, but still added a slightly bitter, nutty taste. I also topped it with some micro greens, chervil, and mint leaves.

We had the salad with Gratin de Pommes de Terre à la Dauphinoise and a lemon-thyme rotisserie chicken. Yum!

Salad at dinner

Equipment
Cutting board and kitchen knife
Salter digital scale
Large pot for blanching
Spoons
Bowls
Cuisinart SmartStick immersion blender
Rubber spatula
Wire whisk
Strainer or sieve

Yields: 8 servings


*Escoffier
Escoffier, Auguste. Escoffier. The complete guide to the art of modern cookery. Translated by H. L. Cracknell and R. J. Kaufmann. Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann, 1979. This edition is the first complete English translation of the 1907 edition of Le guide culinaire. It includes all ±5ooo recipes, with original numbers, and superseded 1907’s A Guide to modern cookery. Many subsequent English-language editions have been shortened, and are thus re-numbered.

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