Iced Leek and Potato Soup
Cold Stuffed Roast Pork
THIS COLD meal has advantages for a hot summer evening. For one, every dish can be prepared well enough in advance to assure a cool, calm, clean kitchen and cook. More importantly, the meal itself strikes that most desirable balance between lightness and substance, the perfect hedge against middle-of-the-summer-night attacks of either hunger or heartburn.
The first course is an unadulterated classic, an icy cold pure'ed leek and potato soup, thinned with a good quantity of milk to avoid thickness on the tongue yet rich with an underbody of clean leek flavor. The main course consists of boneless pork loin roast sliced to reveal an aromatic, pistachio-studded pate'-like stuffing, the sort of show-off dish that causes the cook to lower the eyelids modestly in response to assorted oohs and aahs. No mention need be made that the dish takes a tiny bit of courage but no special talent to prepare. A composed salad accompanies the pork. Arranging it with simplicity on a flat serving platter gives the best display of subtle contrasts among the greeneries and round of heart of palm and dashes of red and black provided by pimiento strips and black olives from Nice. Dessert is a bombe'--an outside layer of vanilla ice cream encompassing a strawberry mousse, the whole frozen within the confines of a decorative mold and served surrounded by whole fresh strawberries.
Making the soup is a worry-free operation with one exception. The leeks must not be allowed to color. When disaster strikes, as it did to me the other day when I became over-involved in a telephone conservation, it can only be viewed as irreversible. There is no point in trying to pick out the browned bits. The leeks must be discarded and the whole process begun anew with another bunch of leeks. If the soup is to be served hot--and it's perfect that way whenever the weather cools off--it can be pure'ed or not, in which case the potatoes should be diced rather than sliced. This makes a lovely peasanty soup, with the bits of potato taking on a deep chicken taste from the broth.
Despite their comparative priciness, boneless pork loin roasts are a good buy since a 2 1/2- to 3-pound roast is ample for eight people. I prefer tenderloin roasts, with the tails trimmed off, because they are neat and compact. Buy them on sale and stock them in the home freezer.
The pork roast is untied (with the string saved to use on the meat later) and cut lengthwise to within an inch and a half of the bottom. Then, starting at the base cut, the meat is sliced to within an inch and a half of both left and right sides. A good chef's knife is an invaluable instrument for this operation. The meat is opened up and the stuffing is placed inside. Then it is reformed into a roll and sewn and tied to hold its shape during the roasting. I make the first cut through the fat-side up because fat-reinforced meat is stronger and therefore easier to sew through.
Since cold food loses flavor, the stuffing should be highly seasoned. After it is mixed, it is a good idea to fry a bit of it and adjust the seasonings accordingly. This is a marvelous foil for fresh thyme. Fresh sausage meat--far preferable to prepackaged sausage--can be found at most local markets with meat counters. The pistachio nuts can be shelled and blanched well in advance and kept in the freezer until needed. I also keep a supply of fresh bread crumbs, made from the heels of white bread in the processor, in the freezer.
The composed salad shows off best on a platter. The kind used for pasta, with slightly raised edges, is most satisfactory. Greenery can be cut neatly to manageable size with a pair of scissors, which are also useful for removing spines for those who think this is desirable. The hearts of palm should be drained and washed thoroughly under cold runing water. They add a texture and taste to this salad as well as a feeling of great opulence. Only fresh herbs should be used to season this salad. If you do not have tarragon and savory, use parsley and chives, although variety adds a great deal. The salad can be assembled a few hours before your quests arrive and held, tightly wrapped with plastic, in the refrigerator. The dressing, however, should be drizzled on at the very last minute.
Bombes are best made in metal molds. The ever-useful six-cup charlotte mold with lid is a perfect receptacle for this dessert as is any decorative mold that might be found in the kitchen. To avoid a horrible struggle at the table with trying to cut through a frozen-stiff mound, the bombe must be unmolded at least an hour and even more before it is to be eaten. It is then allowed to soften, but not melt, in the refrigerator. The pale pink core of strawberry mousse makes a pretty contrast with the vanilla shell and the whole strawberries.
ICED LEEK AND POTATO SOUP (8 servings) 1 bunch leeks 6 tablespoons butter 3 10 3/4 ounce cans chicken broth 3 medium-large potatoes (a little more than 1 pound) Salt and pepper to taste 1 quart milk, approximately 1/2 pint heavy cream 3 tablespoons minced chives
Trim the leeks and remove the coarse green outer leaves as well as the top two-thirds of the green leaves. Slice each leek down the middle and wash well under cold running water. Drain and mince the leeks. Heat the butter in a saucepan, add the leeks and cook them very slowly, stirring frequently. Watch carefully to be sure the leeks do not color. When the leeks are transparent and soft, add the chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Meanwhile, peel the potatoes and cut them into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Add these to the pot, bring the broth to a boil and cook over low heat for about 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are very soft. Season with salt and pepper.
In about 3 batches, pure'e the soup in a processor and turn the pure'e into a large bowl. Let cool to room temperature. Beat in enough milk to thin the pure'e to the desired consistency; it should not be thick. Taste once again for salt and pepper. Refrigerate. To serve, swirl in the cream and the chives and ladle into bowls. To serve hot, heat the soup and the cream and add the chives at the last minute.
COLD STUFFED ROAST PORK (8 servings) 2 1/2- to 3-pound boneless pork tenderloin roast 5 tablespoons peanut oil 1 tablespoon lemon juice 48 pistachio nuts Scant 1/2 pound fresh sausage meat 1 egg, lightly beaten 1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs 1 clove garlic, crushed 2 tablespoons medium-sweet madeira wine, or more to taste 1 tablespoon cognac 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried 3 tablespoons minced parsley 2 cloves garlic, unpeeled 1/2 cup boiling water Salt to taste 1 cup beef bouillon
Untie the pork roast and reserve the string. Place the pork, fat side up, on a board and cut through the roast lengthwise to within 1 1/2 inches of the bottom of the meat. Then, starting at the cut, slice to within 1 1/2 inches of both the left and right sides of the roast. Open up the meat and place it in a pan. Mix the peanut oil and lemon juice and rub this into all sides of the pork. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate while the stuffing is prepared.
Shell the pistachio nuts, blanch them for 5 minutes in boiling water, drain and rub off the skins. Dry the nuts on paper towels and combine them in a bowl with the sausage meat, egg, bread crumbs, crushed garlic, madeira, cognac, thyme and parsley. Mix well and fry a bit of the mixture. Taste and adjust seasoning and taste again. Remember, the meat will be served cold and will lose flavor.
Remove the pork from the refrigerator, pat it dry and spread the stuffing on the meat. Reform the roast into a roll and sew the meat closed through the fat. Wash the needle and put it away after you have finished with it. Retie the meat with the reserved string so that it will keep its shape while roasting.
Place the meat in a roasting pan and roast at 450 degrees for 20 minutes. Reduce the oven heat to 350 degrees and add the unpeeled garlic cloves and 1/2 cup boiling water. Sprinkle the meat with a little salt. Roast for 1 1/2 hours more, turning the meat every 1/2 hour. The roast is done when its internal temperature reads 170 to 180 degrees. Remove the meat to a dish and allow it to cool to room temperature. Then cover it tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate it overnight. Deglaze the roasting pan with the beef bouillon and strain the juices into a pitcher. Degrease when cold.
About an hour before serving, remove the meat from the refrigerator and discard the string and the sewing thread. Slice the meat and arrange on a platter. Serve the sauce separately.
COMPOSED SALAD (8 servings) 1/2 head romaine lettuce, leaves separated, washed and dried 1 full, tight head boston lettuce, leaves separated, washed and dried 2 heads belgian endive, leaves separated, washed and dried 14-ounce can hearts of palm, rinsed well under cold water, drained and cut into rounds 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into thin strips 4- or 5-ounce jar roasted pimientos, drained and cut into strips 24 black Mediterranean olives, drained 6 tablespoons minced fresh herbs, if possible a combination of parsley, chives, thyme, tarragon and savory 1/2 cup good-quality olive oil 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
Use a pair of scissors to cut the romaine and boston lettuce leaves through their spines to make attractive pieces of a manageable size. Cover a flat serving platter with alternating leaves of the romaine and boston lettuce. Then arrange the belgian endive leaves on the green romaine leaves. Arrange the hearts of palm rounds on the boston lettuce. Place cucumber strips on each side of the hearts of palm rounds and decorate as desired with pimiento strips. Arrange the olives around the circumference of the platter and strew the fresh herbs over the entire platter. The salad can be prepared to this point a few hours in advance. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until serving. Just before serving, mix the oil and vinegar and drizzle evenly over the salad.
STRAWBERRY BOMBE (8 servings) 1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream 2 pints strawberries 3/4 cup sugar 3 tablespoons eau de vie de framboise or kirsch 1 teaspoon vanilla 1/2 pint heavy cream
A 6-cup mold is needed for this dessert, preferably metal. A charlotte mold will do as will a melon mold or any other decorative mold. It is nice if the mold has a tight-fitting cover, although this is not absolutely necessary.
Remove the ice cream from the freezer for about 10 minutes to soften it a bit. Line the entire mold with at least an inch of ice cream, leaving a hollow in the center for the strawberry mousse. Return the mold and leftover ice cream to the freezer while the mousse is being made.
Wash and stem one pint of strawberries and place the berries in bowl of a food processor. Add the sugar, framboise or kirsch and vanilla and reduce the strawberries to a pure'e. Whip the cream until it is stiff and fold the strawberry pure'e into it. Remove the mold from the freezer and pack the mousse into the hollow. Cover with plastic wrap and the lid, if there is one, or with foil if not. Return to the freezer for at least 6 hours, or until the mousse is frozen. Then fill in the mold with a top layer of the ice cream, using as much as necessary. Cover again with plastic wrap and replace the lid or rewrap tightly with foil. Return to freezer.
Wash and stem the second pint of strawberries and leave the berries whole. Cover and refrigerate. An hour to 1 1/2 hours before serving, remove the mold from the freezer and dip it quickly in a basin of hot water. Dry the mold, run a knife around the rim and unmold the bombe onto a platter. Strew the whole berries around it and place in the refrigerator (not the freezer) until serving time.