The recipes I have to tell you about are piling up around here, similar to, well, the clothes on my floor. I mentioned that I had a bunch saved up in my back pocket, but for lack of space in there, they may soon require their own room. Which is why, today, I’ll be giving you sauce gribiche. More on that later.
Between not blogging (or folding laundry), I’ve been trying my hand at byline writing and editing. You are now reading the ill-attended-to blog of Backpacker Magazine’s newest editorial intern.
It’s a whole different writing character over there: pared down, tricked out with adjectives. It’s got an entirely different voice, a different style. The personification of it, in my mind, is a bearded man who wears cords and bright red sneakers – functional, logical, never more layers than necessary, but in spite of that, somehow not boring.
Those of you who’ve been reading for a while know that I’m not really sparing when it comes to words. Which makes this new gig, and adjusting to this new voice, a bit difficult. It’s an unfamiliar distillation process of writing, the filtering upon filtering until what is left is the purest, most economical version of what you started with. I guess in that way, magazine editing can be like cooking. Or at the very least, straining.
But you and I both know that if my writing style were a recipe, it would be one with too many steps to fit on a page, too many pans to fit on the stove, and a technique you’d need one (or three) other books to help explain.
Which is why this space may just become more important than ever: after long days of cutting out words, compressing sentences, I will need a place to be verbose. A place to string words along with many too many comma splices, and to litter recklessly with adverb upon adverb. To find three ways to say the same thing, and to write them all. (Case in point.)
I hope you stick around for that.
Ahem. Let’s get to the sauce. This stuff is everywhere; there are versions from Chez Panisse, from Zuni Café, it’s on blogs in this little world far and wide. It’s really more of a summer dish, which makes an October 9th blog post on it a bit untimely, but that shouldn’t stop you from making it. It’s bright from vinegar, herbed like crazy, and is out of this world on roasted potatoes. (It also makes fantastic company for roasted poultry, and other roasted vegetables, like asparagus.) Maybe now that the colder winds and the clouds have set in, it will remind you a little bit of the summer, which, in my verbose, comma-spliced book, is never a bad thing.
Note: this is adapted from the Zuni Café Cookbook version. The recipe is basically for an herbed aioli, so the herb amounts and varietals are a bit flexible here. Have fun with it (read: feel free to substitute what you have on hand).
2 medium shallots, finely chopped
2 tablespoon sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
1 large egg
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 ¼ cups mild-tasting olive oil
2 teaspoons thinly sliced chives
2 teaspoons finely chopped parsley
2 teaspoons finely chopped chervil
½ teaspoon finely chopped dill
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and dried, coarsely chopped
Combine the shallots and the vinegar in a small bowl, and set aside to macerate while you prepare the rest of the sauce.
Put the egg in a small saucepan of barely simmering water, and bring it to a boil. Then reduce the heat and simmer for about 4 minutes. Drain, and put the egg in a bowl of ice water to cool completely and to stop the cooking.
When the egg is cool, crack and scrape it into a medium bowl. Add the mustard and a pinch or two of salt. Mash it all together, and then begin whisking in the oil. Start with just a few drops at first, then gradually increase the flow to a thin stream. Stop adding oil when the mixture is satiny and has lots of body. Stir in the herbs and capers. Add the vinegar and shallots, and adjust with salt to taste.