As I slowly begin to cook my way through Richard Olney’s formidable oeuvre, one recipe in particular stood out to me: braised white Belgian endives in cream. With bacon. It was tremendous, all full of velvet textures and rich cream and that distinctively endive bitterness, wonderfully tamed by the milk and butter, but livened up, too, by lemon and salty bacon. It was incredible, so elegant and so strange.
We also had so much fun figuring out how to make potato pancakes — we tried at least 5 different ways. I insisted on an egg-based batter, but I was taste-test proven wrong (pancakes were too soft, too fritter-like, not enough crisp). We tried just vegetable oil, we tried a mixture of vegetable oil and butter, we tried unsalting, we tried tiny pancakes in mini skillets (the best).
In the end, truly the most simple approach was also our favorite: peel and grate one large Russet potato, then heavily salt and pepper it. Heat a cast-iron skillet until barely smoking with swirling oil, then throw in a neat haystack of potato matchsticks and sort of pat + press together. Miraculously, the starches will bind everything together (no egg + 1 T of flour needed!) and a netted pancake will form. Fry until crispy exterior + molten interior, and be sure to drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with LOTS of extra salt.
We also seared some smoked goose, here. It was so unbelievably savory, it tasted like bacon. But my favorite part of the dinner? Adam’s special creation — a halo of minced arugula, our crown of salad surrounding our dinner, such an ethereal, elegant, regal touch. I had a hard time breaking the seal and eating the ring of leaves.