We worked our dinner last night around a few sprigs of watercress, but before I get into that, let me amend something I wrote yesterday. I said hooray, something grown in the ground, the watercress. Now, there have been all sortsa things local to eat, all winter, grown in the ground, using hoop houses. These polyethylene plastic contraptions trick Mother Earth, keeping the ground from freezing, and allowing for various plants to grow around here in the winter. For instance, all winter long, Paul Virant at Vie has been serving a salad with lettuces from Wisconsin. The frost kissed spinach from Snug Haven Farms is grown ala hoop. Hoop stuff is grown in ground stuff. It tastes real, natural. What I really meant to say is that the watercress is the first thing grown outside in the ground. Nature grown.
It's a great thing watercress, certainly this wild watercress from Wisconsin. When you start nibbling you get a pleasant, anise-ish taste in your mouth, just a bit vegetal. Then, before you know it, the mustard's creeped up on you and soon that pleasant taste in your mouth is not one of licorice but of spice; not habenero hot, but nicely hot. It's worth building a meal around. One of the best ways to use watercress, I think, is with egg salad. Now, being a local eating family but also a snobbish family at that, it cannot just be egg salad. First we have to run to the Dominick's on Lake Street in Oak Park. We cannot have egg salad with mere Hellman's. This store has absolutely one thing we like about it, only one thing to ever cause us to set foot in it: Davidson's Pasteurized Eggs. My wife and I, even with Farmer Vicki's farm eggs, feel safe(r) making our mayo from the pasteurized eggs (of course I say we, but only one person makes the mayo in our house and it aint me). What did we find. Three cartons of Davidson's eggs, two expired and the third with a broken egg. We trucked to the next closest Dominick's, the one in River Forest (an even worse example of the modern supermarket). They had maybe three cartons as well, a few days past their sell-by date, which seemed good enough. So it's a-boiling eggs, whipping up mayo. That's not good enough for our cress. I have to boil maybe twelve red potatoes to make salad to side our egg salad. Dinner came eventually.
Watercress garnish for egg salad sandwich makes little dent in our stash. I went to bed last night dreaming of watercress ideas. One of the most famous dishes in the modern French era was the late Bernard Loiseau's frog legs with parsley sauce. I figured given the natural proximity of frogs to water and water to watercress, would not this dish be more interesting with a watercress coulis? Having also looked at several watercress soup recipes and washed about 10 small freshwater snails outta our cress, I wondered about a cream of watercress soup with snails and garlic croutons. Let me know your watercress ideas.