“If you do not have insomnia, fussy eaters in your social orbit will give it to you.”
Laurie Colwin “Feeding the Fussy” Home Cooking
Oh, how that line of Laurie Colwin’s speaks to me after all my years of tailoring recipes, menus, indeed, entire magazines to special diets. But then, just about every line Laurie Colwin ever wrote speaks to me.
For the uninitiated, Laurie Colwin holds a cult status among foodies, though she died almost 25 years ago of a heart attack at 48. (A detail that makes her piece “Without Salt,” where she explains how her doctor told her to give up salt because of her blood pressure—particularly poignant.) Her essays/articles collected in Home Cooking and More Home Cooking are smart, funny, and soothing to both the expert cook and the novice because she lets you off the hook. No, you don’t have to get every recipe perfect every time. Yes, you can buy dessert for a dinner party.
I belong to the Laurie Colwin cult. I keep her books by my bedside to reread when I’m feeling low and uninspired, or when I just can’t sleep. One thing I’ve noticed about my fellow cult members: while we’re quick to reread and quote Laurie Colwin, we rarely cook her. Perhaps it’s because her recipes are so simple – too simple in a world obsessed with superfoods, state-of-the-art blenders, and specialty ingredients. Take her recipe for Chicken with Chicken Glaze in “Feeding the Fussy.” It is just plain poached chicken. Served over cucumbers, but still! Nothing to write home (or a blog) about. And pretty tricky to photograph (or Instagram), to boot. But it was the other recipe in “Feeding the Fussy” that made me want to “cook Colwin,” so to speak. “Jeannette Kossuth’s Green Sauce” appealed to me because it called for watercress stems (No Waste Kitchen!), scallion greens, olive oil, and a little mustard, and “has the texture of mayonnaise, but it is not.”
I decided to give the green sauce a whirl in the blender using parsley stems (which I had in the house) and the optional clove of garlic. It was so good, my guests and I ate it all up with the last of the season’s artichokes (steamed) instead of dipping the leaves in the drawn butter and vinaigrette I’d also prepared. It was so good, I went out and bought a bunch of watercress just so I could use the stems to make the original. I haven’t tried it with cilantro stems, but I warrant the recipe will work just as well—and taste just as good. I bet it would even make plain ol’ Chicken with Chicken Glaze taste like something special.
Jeannette Kossuth’s/Laurie Colwin’s Green Sauce
In Home Cooking Laurie Colwin gives credit to her friend Jeannette Kossuth for this recipe –just as I’m giving her credit here. (The recipe—and book—can be found on Google Books.) All I’ve done is make the measurements more precise and offer some variations. One thing I will note: While delicious, this sauce separates quickly. If you’re planning on serving it to company, make it just before you do. If the sauce is just for you, it tastes just fine even when it gets a little oily around the edges and will keep a week in the fridge.
1 cup watercress, parsley, or cilantro stems (save leaves for another use)
4 green tops of scallions/green onions, cut into chunks
1 Tbs. Dijon or whole grain mustard
1 Tbs. lemon juice
1 clove garlic, peeled
½ cup olive oil or a combination of olive oil and vegetable oil
salt and pepper to taste
Pulse the stems, scallion greens, mustard, and garlic clove in a blender or mini-food processor until finely chopped. Add the oil, and blend until smooth, creamy, and thickened. Season generously with salt and pepper, and blend once more. The sauce will keep, covered, up to 1 week in the fridge. Serve as a sauce, dip, or sandwich spread.