Watercress is an interesting green legume. It has a unique flavor, slightly tart and bitter. It adds an interesting taste to many dishes.
This is Julia Child's recipe for watercress soup, then a fusion Monte Cristo sandwich. Enjoy the spring time.
Leek and Potato Soup
Serves 6 to 8
4 cups sliced leaks (the white part and a bit of the tender green)
4 cups diced potatoes - old or baking potatoes recommended
6 to 7 cups of water
11⁄2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
1⁄2 cup sour cream, heavy cream or creme fraiche, optional
Bring the leeks, potatoes, and water to a boil in a sauce pan. Salt lightly, cover partially, and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Taste, and correct seasoning.
Serves 6 to 8
Ingredients for Leek and Potato Soup Plus:
one large bunch of watercress
1⁄2 cup or so of sour cream, heavy cream, or creme fraiche, Optional
Prepare as the Leek and Potato Soup is directed. Meanwhile, wash the watercress and chop the stems roughly. You may wish to save a handful of the leaves for decoration. Stir the chopped cress into the soup during the last 5 minutes of simmering.
Puree the soup, and serve with a topping of cream and a scattering of watercress leaves, if you wish.
Watercress and Brie Monte Cristo Sandwiches
Makes 2 sandwiches
4 slices of bread
21⁄2 tablespoons whole grain Dijon mustard, divided
4 thin slices brie cheese
4 thin slices smoked turkey
4 thin slices smoked ham
4 stems of watercress
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons butter
Place 2 bread slices on work surface. Spread each with 1 tablespoon mustard, top each with 1 slice of cheese, 2 slices of turkey, 2 slices of ham, 2 watercress stems, then another slice of cheese, and top bread.
Beat eggs and remaining 1⁄2 tablespoon mustard in a pie dish to blend. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Dip both sides of the sandwiches into egg mixture. Place in skillet, cover and cook until bottoms are golden, about 5 minutes. Turn sandwiches over, cover and cook 4 minutes longer until golden and the cheese is melted. Transfer sandwiches to plates, and cut into quarters.
• Molly Gingell is the owner of Molly's Gourmet Catering, takeout and cooking school at 220 W. John St. in Carson City.