Mon frigo est COM-PLE-TE-MENT vide – day 1

How many times have you looked at your fridge in utter disarray, asking yourself how you could possibly make even a single meal with the two desperate carrots and three eggs forgotten in some remote corners of your fridge (that is, besides carottes rapees et oeufs au plat). So that was my state of mind last Sunday while staring rather blankly at my poor fridge, and thinking:

  • I don’t want/I don’t have time/I hate grocery shopping. Plus, in case you haven’t heard – it’s RECESSION time. The least you can do is try and not waste food you might be able to use.
  • It’s spring already, so let’s try something a little springy like for a change.

So here’s my challenge: let’s try and make as many meals as possible with the remnants of my fridge and see where this leads us. Sunday was really sunny in Park Slope, the first day you would actually venture outside, and I thought salad, like a nice hearty salad with many colors for diner. I had a few carrots (two), some italian parsley, a can of corn kernels, and some frozen green beans. I know, I know, there is nothing better than fresh ingredients in season but hey, please see above. Oh – and I forgot I had some celery too. And parsley, and olives.

So that’s how I came up with la salade du frigo, a sort of macedoine of corn, celery, carrots, beans and parsley. Ok, granted, macedoine is not necessarily the first dish that would come to mind, at least for the French: Macedoine is a potato-carrots-beans-peas salad with mayonnaise, typically French, but also typical reminder of les dejeuners a la cantine (that’s were kids eat for lunch in French schools), right about the time when my mother forced me to wear this horrible bib with a pink elephant on it and the other kids would make fun of me. But that was UNTILL I tasted the ultimate macedoine, made by a friend of my mother I was visiting in Alcala de Henares, Spain (famous for its gigantic jail – no kidding). OMG, OMG, OMG it was good: fresh ingredients, and first and foremost, very very good, homemade mayonnaise.

Believe me, I would not even dare to come close to this Macedoine, but in any cases that’s what I had in mind when I prepared this salad.

Ingredients (and no need to say that if you have FRESH ingredients it’s even better):

  • 2-3 carrots
  • 1 can of corn kernels
  • 2-3 celery branches
  • 1 cup chopped Italian parsley
  • oh and some black olives, that’s always nice
  • salt, pepper, cumin and a little bit of cayenne pepper

For the mayonnaise

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tblspoon of  moutarde de dijon
  • vegetable oil (I like to use a neutral oil and then finish off with a little bit of olive oil)
  • lemon juice (just a little bit)

Yield: 4

Start with the mayonnaise. Bear in mind that you should try to have the ingredients – roughly – at the same temperature (just remove the egg & mustard from the fridge a little before if you think about it)

  • Mix the yolk with the mustard, salt & pepper;
  • Progressively add oil with a whisker until it reaches the consistency/color &taste you like (I typically taste it regularly and like it when it is still a little mustardy).
  • Now : the secret (to make sure that you mayonnaise ne tourne pas): first make sure that your mayonnaise “prend” by using only a small quantity of oil at a time. The beginning of a mayonnaise is indeed a critical time.
  • Finish off with a little lemon juice (just a gentle squizz). You’ll see the mayonnaise turn to a paler color. It’s cool.

Actually, I shouldn’t call this a mayonnaise but rather a mousseline: I added half the egg white – whisked. Why? Well this way the sauce is lighter.

Le persil plat c'est important

Le persil plat c'est important

Once the mayonnaise is done, well just add the grated carrots, sliced celery, corn, and cut green beans. And of course  the parsley. Never forget parsley. And the olives. I also add a little cumin (half a teaspoon), salt & pepper.

OK – I am all for changing recipes and what not (and I don’t think I have ever followed a recipe a la lettre actually – that’s why I don’t like baking. However, here are a few things I would not advise:

  • Replace handmade mayonnaise by store bought mayonnaise, especially if you live in the US: no offense, but your mayonnaise does not taste like mayonnaise. And it doesn’t mean that I don’t like it or use it. It’s just different. It is OK in sandwiches (i.e. sandwiches you make when you come back from work at 10pm, are starving and want something quick and comfy to put in your stomach) but I would advise against it here, especially if you don’t use fresh ingredients.
  • Use canned green beans. That’s just gross.
  • Use the other kind of parsley, the frizzy stuff… Hate it. No matter how thin you slice it, you always end up with a bit stick in your throat and then you can’t talk and then you can’t swallow and then you die.

I served this with a Croque Monsieur (also a savior when your fridge is almost empty). Not that there is a need of a recipe for this, but I was actually pretty proud with this one – might share it one day.

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