Cooking Books -> Salads
Salad Days: Main Course Salads for a First Class Meal
Simon & Schuster
Published: May 1998
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Anytime El Nino has the price of a head of lettuce breaking the $2 barrier, it's time to march to the cookbook shelf for inspiration. Reaching for Salad Days is well in order, for Marcel Desaulniers has produced an elegant little book that
gives salad a refreshing spin.
A lovely chapter on greens leads the book, and Desaulniers follows right along with chapters on beans, grains, and fruits. But these are only the baseline ingredients, the bedrock on which a grand, dinner salad might
be built. This book is all about building, about mixing and matching. One is tempted to believe that Desaulniers played with paper dolls as a child, for the same theory is at work: Once the outfits are cut out, it's simply a matter of assembling the
final production according to one's taste.
Take, for example, the salad of sliced beets, curly endive, red bliss potato salad, honey mustard roasted walnuts, and meaux mustard vinaigrette. There are four separate recipes at work here, which might
seem intimidating at first. But it's all really quite short and sweet. A minimum of muss and fuss, and then on to the assemblage.
But here's the kicker, having given you the recipe for the baseline assembled salad, Desaulniers gives the reader
two ways to stretch, in this case with recipes for walnut-crusted stripped bass on the one hand, and honey duck stir-fry on the other. By adding either ingredient, what started as an elegant dinner salad changes into an entrée salad. A main
Desaulniers' primary and obvious point of concern is the home cook. He works up his recipes in a home kitchen, with home kitchen equipment and appliances. He writes clear and encouraging recipes, lists all the tools a cook will need, and
slathers on the insider tips. The net effect of all this is to bring the home cook right into the heart of real cooking. And there's a whole world of difference between that and following a recipe. --Schuyler Ingle
Desaulniers, executive chef of The Trellis Restaurant in Williamsburg, VA, is the prolific author of six other cookbooks, three of which feature fabulous desserts. In fact, his irresistible Death by Chocolate Cookies (LJ 12/97) was published
just a few months ago, and perhaps that's partly why Salad Days doesn't seem to convey the same enthusiasm as the more indulgent dessert books. It includes 30 master salad recipes, grouped under Greens, Beans, Grains, and Fruits, with two variations
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Marcel Desaulniers, the prizewinning, bestselling author of such classics as Death by Chocolate, The Burger Meisters, Desserts to Die For, and Death by Chocolate Cookies, has finally had his fill of sweets --
at least for a while -- and he's ready to get to the main course. In the same way that Marcel turned chocolate on its head, with Salad Days he expands our idea of what salads should be: not salad-bar fare, but full meals melding the flavors of such
savories as grilled eggplant, scallions, and plum tomatoes with leaf spinach, herbed couscous, and roasted garlic dressing.
We are all now aware that to improve our diets and our health, we need to boost our vegetable, fruit, and complex
carbohydrate intake. With Salad Days, Marcel makes that easier to do and more fun and delicious in the process. Organized into four main sections -- Greens, Beans, Grains, and Fruits -- each of the thirty salad recipes is accompanied by two variations.
These variations, like the original salads themselves, show the real care Marcel has taken to tantalize even the most finicky eater. For example, he rounds out the Roasted Root Vegetable Slaw by adding either Spiced Pork Burger or Ale-Steamed Chicken
Breast. Likewise, the Oven-Roasted Fruit with Belgian Endive is still deliciously light enough for a summer afternoon when accented by either Lamb with Jicama and Anaheim Peppers or Pan-Seared Maple-and-Ginger-Coated Sea Scallops.
makes a great addition to any cookbook collection because there's something for everyone. Each element of the salads is so delicious and clearly detaile
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