Salad Days

June has been a busy month over at Susan Eats London, or perhaps it’s just that I have been busy. I have been doing lots of running around (a whirlwind trip to New York in the middle of the month, and then I’m going back again at the end of the week), and I’ve had a month of wonderful eating – generally thanks to the benevolent interventions of others. There was the gut-busting Indian luncheon prepared by the phenomenally talented Asma Khan, to which I scored an invitation after serendipitously meeting friend Nayan at the Marylebone Summer Fayre. There was the oh-so-British celebration of English asparagus courtesy of Friends Jess and Will, featuring asparagus three ways (although I ended up making the asparagus risotto and the roasted asparagus). And then there was beef. Correction: there is beef. A lot of beef.

On Sunday I took a day-long beef butchery course at The Butchery Ltd., in which, under the expert supervision of Nath the Butcher, I and two others butchered a whole side of beef. Nathan is committed to sourcing his meat directly from farmers who love the animals they raise, and espouses a truly whole-animal approach to butchery practiced by few other butchers. The result is that nothing, NOTHING is wasted, the animal is respected, AND I learned how to use a bone saw.

A day’s work

Me and a top side

I also took home 11 KILOS of beef, and a sack of marrow bones. In the past three days I have eaten steak tartare, steak flash-fried, oven finished, and served with anchovy butter, steak with salsa verde, and steak simply griddled with salt and pepper, and I am starting to feel like if I indulge in any more beefy excess I will sprout horns and udders. After a night of sweaty protein-saturated dreams, I woke up this morning wondering whether there was such a thing as beef toxicity and fantasizing about vegetables.

I photographed and documented these two salads a little while ago, but hesitated about putting them on my blog. A “recipe” for salad? That doesn’t involve actual cooking? Well, yes, but they’re pretty, a little different from slap-lettuce-tomato-cucumber-in-a-bowl-with-oil-and-vinegar-call-it-a-day, and when I serve them to people I get lots of appreciative comments. And right now salad is what I’m craving. Both of these are citrus-based. Citrus gives a unique astringency and delicacy to salad dressings, which I prefer to vinegar.

Carrot Salad with Citrus-Ginger Dressing and Nigella Seeds

Ingredients

3-4 large sweet fresh carrots (about a pound, give or take a little), peeled and grated using a box grater or food processor

Juice of ½ orange

Juice of 1 small lime or ½ large lime

Four tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 heaping teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground black pepper

½ teaspoon nigella seeds, toasted in a pan until fragrant

Method:

Thoroughly combine orange and lime juices, olive oil, fresh ginger, coriander, salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings. Toss with grated carrots and allow to sit for at least half an hour. Before serving, toss in nigella seeds. This salad stays bright and crunchy for days, and only improves as the carrots get saturated in the tasty dressing.

Makes about 6 servings.

Fennel, Endive, and Parsley Salad

Ingredients

1 large or two small fennel bulbs, cored, and finely sliced with a mandoline. You can do this with a knife, but you should aim for slices no more than 1-2 millimeters thick.

2 endives, cored and cut into ½ cm rings

A medium handful of parsley, leaves picked from stems

Zest of ½ large lemon (this salad is particularly nice if you use a zester to cut fine strips)

Juice of ½ large lemon

3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

A few pinches of flake salt, like Maldon’s

Freshly ground pepper

Method:

Combine all ingredients in a bowl, toss, and adjust seasonings. Serve immediately.

Makes 4-6 servings.

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20 thoughts on “Salad Days

  1. A bone saw? Congrats, you’re now officially hardcore! I experienced butchery in my youth, I came from an extended family of hunters in the wilds of Oregon State. The good news is that after tackling a big animal, you’ll never be sqeamish about cutting up a chicken ever again.

    • I’m not squeamish about cutting up chicken! But I know what you mean. As a meat-eater, I think it was such a valuable and important exercise.

  2. Everything’s a blur after I read the words “marrow bones.” JEALOUS!!!

    I’ve been looking longingly at all that beef, and I can’t wait to see what you do with all of it.

    daisy (the jealous carnivore)

  3. Nath the Butcher? Are you serious? He sounds like a large, burly, greasy sort – someone you’d find in a Charles Dickens TV adaptation. Of course I followed your link, and he’s as handsome as all get-out! I think I understand why you took his course now… ;)

  4. I’m reading along, thinking, “well why didn’t she just freeze some of that beef?” Then I remembered: European refrigerator/freezers. Consider me really impressed with your saw skills. And your salads look grand too.

    • I did freeze most of it! The burgers, brisket, bavette, and flank are in my freezer, and most of the stewing cuts and marrow bones are in a friend’s freezer, but freezing causes the meat to lose moisture and breaks down some of the fibers, so for the nicer cuts — the steaks — if it is possible to avoid freezing one should. I’m going out of town on Friday, so I had three successive ‘enjoy my beef’ dinners with friends. And now I am taking a BIG break.

      • Oh, for sure it’s best fresh. Glad you got to have lots that way as a treat for all your impressive butchering efforts. Also glad you have friends with freezers!

  5. That is amazing! How cool is it to have taken that course! Love it.

    I once spent a month in Argentina and seriously had steak for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The only thing that didn’t have meat was my morning medialunas which were covered in sugar, butter, and dulce de leche. Even my empanada snacks were meat. I did start fantasizing about salad. Really vividly fantasizing!

    And you’re going to be in NYC by the end of the week? Whoo hoo! Give me a call!

      • Oooh! That sounds like fun! I love going upstate. It’s where all the food comes from!

        If you’re headed up around Ithaca, let me know! The farm whose CSA I work for is up there and it would be a fun visit for you guys. The cows are sweet and very pettable!

  6. Woahhhh, I’m proper impressed by that photo of you with a saw. I understand what you mean by the craving for vegetable. When I did that massive pig feast for the plusixfive supperclub, I literally couldn’t stand the idea of pork, or meat, for the next few days, and wanted only vegetables hah. The salads look great, the simplest things are often the best x

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