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A starting place

I got some very exciting news on Saturday, and before I do anything else, I can’t help but share it: namely, that my book is available for pre-order on Amazon! A very kind reader of this site wrote to tell me (Thank you, Emily!), and apparently she’d heard because Amazon sent her a notification e-mail. Maybe this happened to others among you? Either way, I promised to let you know when you could pre-order it, so here I am. Somebody asked me the other day about this pre-order thing, and why anyone would want to pre-order something, so in case you wonder, here’s the lowdown: Amazon gives a 5% discount on all pre-ordered books. So you save a bit of money, and when the book is released, it just shows up at your door, ta da, with no further prompting. It’s a nice system.

Anyway, what a lovely, crazy world this is. My. Book. I can hardly believe it. Especially because the manuscript is lying in a very messy heap next to my desk, and I am still knee-deep in the process of revising it. But it’ll be done soon. Yes. It. Will.

And in the meantime, from atop this pile of papers - which does, incidentally, make for a nice vista - I’m starting to notice the subtle hints of spring that are cropping up everywhere. Like asparagus, for one, and soft new greens. After a winter of relying on heartier things, we’re finally starting to eat salads again, and it feels so good. Yesterday, for instance, at the Ballard farmers’ market, we bought a bag of wild watercress from Foraged and Found Edibles. If you haven’t seen wild watercress before, it’s delicate and spindly, with a lightly bitter flavor that sits halfway between cultivated watercress and arugula. It’s absolutely delicious. (The guy who sold it to us wasn’t bad, either. I think he used to work at Whole Foods. I remember noticing him a long time ago, in the dark days before I met Brandon. Oh, such dark days.)

Brandon and I first tasted wild watercress, or something close to it, in Paris this spring, at Bistro Paul Bert. Brandon ordered it as a first course, and it came to the table as a warm salad, doused in a dressing spiked with mustard and cream and topped with a poached egg. (It was supposed to come with lardons, too, but because Brandon doesn’t eat meat, they kindly left them out.) It was a rich dish, to be sure, but the green, sweetly grassy flavor of the watercress cut cleanly through the yolk and cream, and needless to say, when we saw wild watercress at the farmers’ market, we had to have it again.

So, working from memory, Brandon cobbled together a dressing. (He is, for the record, much better at that sort of thing than I am.) And though it isn’t identical to what we ate in Paris - we serve ours at room temperature, for one thing - it’s delicious. It has all the qualities of a traditional vinaigrette, smartened with the smooth, dairy softness of cream. That makes it especially good for greens with a bitter edge, or for almost anything that needs a touch of mellowing, flavor-wise. And so today I sat down to tell you about it, and about wild watercress. And then, in the process, I read some very scary things about the latter, such as this, after which I sat at my desk and rocked back and forth for a while, moaning softly, and though feeling quite fine, wondered if I should call myself an ambulance.

So. I don’t believe I’ll be eating wild watercress again, or not raw, anyway. Or not without trepidation, at the very least. But this dressing is far too tasty, and too versatile, to be tossed away just because of that. In fact, as we ate it, we thought of all sorts of other things that it would be good on, from other bitter greens to cucumbers and celery. It’s just a starting place, really, for so many things. Including, come to think of it, spring.

Cream Vinaigrette

For the mustard here, we like Roland Extra Strong. It’s the brand we use for almost everything these days.

4 Tbsp. olive oil
3 Tbsp. heavy cream
2 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
About 1/4 tsp. pressed garlic
About 1/4 tsp. salt
Pinch of sugar

Whisk all ingredients well. Taste, and adjust as needed. Spoon liberally over any bitter (or bitter-ish) greens, such as watercress or arugula. Toss well. Top, if you want, with a poached egg, bits of bacon, or cubed ham.

Note: This vinaigrette will thicken considerably when chilled. Either pull it out of the fridge a little while before you need it, or zap it in the microwave for about 5 to 8 seconds, just to loosen it slightly.


Blogger Katie in Berkeley said...

Whew, I'm glad that turned out okay! I had a similar vertigo moment a few weeks ago when I heard about food poisoning from undercooked fiddlehead ferns, and I had just eaten some that I had boiled for six minutes instead of the requisite ten. But I was okay, and have been very careful with batches since then.

6:27 PM, May 05, 2008  
Blogger Sarah said...

Oh you better believe I pre-ordered your book today! I can't wait. By the way this dressing sounds fantastic and I will be trying it very shortly! Much congratulations!

6:32 PM, May 05, 2008  
Anonymous emily said...

i just pre-ordered it too. and i can't wait.

6:45 PM, May 05, 2008  
Blogger maiapapaya said...

I'm on a creamy dressing kick lately, too. Tonight I made one similar to yours, but with lemon juice and red wine vinegar in place of the white wine vinegar. We ate it on a salad of mache and Belgian endive, topped with halved boiled eggs, slices of red onion, and avocado. Delicious!

7:15 PM, May 05, 2008  
Anonymous Kristen said...

Off to preorder it myself. So very excite for you!

7:27 PM, May 05, 2008  
Blogger Sharon said...

Wow, congrats! I'm off to go pre-order!

7:37 PM, May 05, 2008  
Anonymous Marc @ NoRecipes said...

Congrats on the book, that's awesome! The salad looks delicious.

7:48 PM, May 05, 2008  
Anonymous Dana McCauley said...

Peppery greens do love a hint of creaminess!

This sounds like a delicious dressing. I think I'll try it on my own greens very soon. Likely not watercress, though since I don't have any running water to grow it in myself and I can't buy the wild stuff anywhere that I know about.

7:58 PM, May 05, 2008  
Blogger Alice Q. said...

Oh man, when you mentioned a hot guy who used to work at Whole Foods I immediately thought of Nate on Six Feet Under, as if he were a real person. I love that show - and him. Congrats on the book - and watercress - yum!

8:02 PM, May 05, 2008  
Blogger jbeach said...

Can't wait to try this dressing - thanks! I'm so excited for spring, too. And for your book...it's too far away, but it's wonderful having something like this to look forward to! :)

Ah, and Alice Q. - Six Feet Under was the best. I miss it so. Although it was pretty unhealthy the way I used to basically lock myself away in my room watching it (I came to the show late so watched them all on DVDs from the library-the best way to watch any good show, I'm convinced).

8:15 PM, May 05, 2008  
Blogger hag said...

First congrats on your book! It has been a while since I have visited yout blog, and I am glad I returned!
I haven't had watercress before, and I love arugula, so I will give it a try. I am very excited about the cream vinegarette, sounds tasty.

8:27 PM, May 05, 2008  
Blogger shayna said...

pre-order, fait accompli. very exciting! also, just whipped up some of that dressing (for once i had everything required! including the watercress..). i'm trying to wait for dinner but i keep dipped the bunches in to the dressing...good work, brandon!

8:28 PM, May 05, 2008  
Blogger Emily said...

I love this first polaroid.

Molly, I made your chocolate granola over the weekend, and oh. my. god... it was delish. Absolutely perfect. Thank you!

8:30 PM, May 05, 2008  
Blogger Lisa said...

Oh, those unrequited farmers' market crushes! From the dark days of yore! Ronnybrook Dairy boy - whatever happened to you? (And of course so interesting now to be on the other side of the table! You think they don't notice your adoration - not true, no no no!)

I also got the Amazon heads-up via email, and hied myself over there to pre-order right away. Yippee!

8:36 PM, May 05, 2008  
Anonymous S.D. said...

Congrats on the book news!

And thanks for the dressing recipe. I was wondering what to do with that bit of cream I have left over from making soup last weekend--now I know.

What is it about the Ballard Farmers Market? The concentration of crushable venders over there is just staggering. Improper.

9:04 PM, May 05, 2008  
Blogger Michelle said...

I received my update from Amazon about your book and it was so exciting! I am definitely a 'salad gal' and am looking forward to trying this recipe. Looks nice and easy. Just what I want for spring and summer!

9:19 PM, May 05, 2008  
Blogger Nikki said...

Hi, I love your blog, it's like the Sex and the City of food! You should check out Belle Pastry on Old Main in Bellevue, the owner (Jean Claude Ferre) is opening one in Ballard soon that will have gelato! I think you'd enjoy it!

9:27 PM, May 05, 2008  
Anonymous suze said...

I've really been enjoying your blog and column in BA. You've inspired me to crank out my gramma's Finnish cinnamon roll recipe - more eggs and cardamom. It's the best. Just today I found hydroponic watercress at Trader Joes on Roosevelt and have to try the dressing! Not as scarey as the wild stuff. As an original member of the Seattle foodie club, I commend your super effort to carry on the tradition. Now for the pre-order!

10:01 PM, May 05, 2008  
Anonymous Aria said...

Oh My Goodness! Just about fell off my chair with excitement over your book being up for pre-order. I'm off to Amazon now....

10:01 PM, May 05, 2008  
Blogger Emily said...

You're welcome Molly! :D

12:17 AM, May 06, 2008  
Blogger nightquill said...

Don't worry about that article about that poor woman, Molly -- it was probably just a fluke.

12:24 AM, May 06, 2008  
Anonymous Reya said...

Most wonderful news Molly! Many congratulations...
Hopefully I'll be able to find it here in Europe.

2:33 AM, May 06, 2008  
Blogger Victoria said...

I've already pre-ordered my book too. As you can see, we are all anxiously awaiting its arrival on our kitchen table. Good luck with your revisions.

3:00 AM, May 06, 2008  
Blogger Andreea said...

congratulation on the book :)
am pre-ordering it now!

4:15 AM, May 06, 2008  
Blogger Aran said...

Hi Molly! I had also signed up for a pre-order notification with Amazon but I never got my email. It doesn't really matter because I just went to Amazon and pre-ordered it anyway. I can't wait to read... I am sure it will be just as amazing or even more than your blog. I love it.

5:12 AM, May 06, 2008  
Blogger shari said...

love the pola and can't wait to try the dressing on our homegrown cress and arugula! xo

5:29 AM, May 06, 2008  
Blogger Dirty Mistress said...

I'm a medical student and I wouldn't worry about the watercress. If you are concerned, treat it like any other raw produce item and just give it a decently long rinse under water.

The article you mention about the flukes (which are a sheep parasite) is from Australia. Undoubtedly, the woman was eating wild watercress picked from either a ranch or within ranch runoff water distance.

If you are buying watercress in Seattle, you are likely safe from sheep parasites.

Although a medical school professor of infectious disease told us about eating ceviche at a party and finding parasitic worms in the bottle of the dish afterwards. Fortunately, the lime juice had killed them and everyone was fine.

I'd forgotten I picked my username during a "Grey's Anatomy" binge (and was surprised by it in reading the comments the other day) - it references the show, not my personal predilections. =)

6:05 AM, May 06, 2008  
Anonymous RA said...

I declared to my husband that your book would be my birthday present to myself, since it falls the day after your release date. So I had great pleasure in pre-ordering my present today (along with a nerdy little number about word origins)!

6:41 AM, May 06, 2008  
Anonymous caroline said...

I brought a big bag of plain arugula for lunch today (cause I'm weird like that), but now I wish I had a poached egg to break over it. I don't suppose there's any way to make one in an office microwave, is there?

6:41 AM, May 06, 2008  
Blogger AnticiPlate said...

I love Bistro Paul Bert. What a fantastic restaurant to be inspired by. Congrats on your pre-order!

7:13 AM, May 06, 2008  
Anonymous sarah said...

hooray, how exciting! wild greens, creamy mustard vinaigrettes, poached eggs, a book i want to pre-order -- thanks for ushering in spring, molly, just the way i like it!

7:21 AM, May 06, 2008  
Blogger Megan said...

A little off topic, but why did they feel they had to present her as a 60 year old widow? Like the intestinal tracts or livers of widows are likely to be different than non-widows? Like widows have more of a penchant for eating wild watercress than non-widows?

ps: excited for your book!

8:06 AM, May 06, 2008  
Anonymous Hillary said...

Book is officially preoredered! I'm SO excited!

8:09 AM, May 06, 2008  
Anonymous Amy said...

Fantastic news on the book!

I'm always looking for new vinaigrettes to try. I'm imagining this over an arugula salad with blanched asparagus and a poached egg...YUMMY!!

8:17 AM, May 06, 2008  
Blogger Aaron Kagan said...

I love wild watercress and am not going to stop eating it, hoping that the flukes were just a fluke.


8:24 AM, May 06, 2008  
Anonymous Lauren said...

You shouldn't worry about flukes - as dirty mistress says you'd not be so inclined to experience wild watercress doused in sheep runoff! Besides, it's just a case study from 1982 :) If you never ate anything that someone got sick from and was written up in some journal you'd never eat again! dressing looks amazing though, can't wait to try it!!

9:37 AM, May 06, 2008  
Blogger la takahashi said...

I going to go pre-order my book right now! It will make me feel like it is closer to being here. Very exciting!

9:43 AM, May 06, 2008  
Anonymous trish said...

I'm pleased to be a follower, another pre-orderer! Just wanted to say how much I love the new Polaroid snapshot thing you're doing. Just adds to the whole ambience of your site.

10:53 AM, May 06, 2008  
Blogger Katie said...

already pre-ordered! can't wait!! congrats molly!

also, where did you pick up the bag you gave tea as a gift? she has a pic of it on her blog and i am insanely jealous...and hoping i can convince my friend who lives in paris to pick up a couple for me :)

10:53 AM, May 06, 2008  
Blogger Delilah said...

Mmm... I just started harvesting the watercress from my little garden, and I love the flavor - spicy and unique. I'll try out your dressing. And a poached egg in my new egg poacher. :)

10:59 AM, May 06, 2008  
Blogger Lisa said...

Hi. I'm new here. Apparently, I'm the last person on earth to find your blog. Hah. I just wanted to say I love your photography and I'll be coming back for more. Your book sounds lovely and I'm looking forward to reading it too.

2:54 PM, May 06, 2008  
Blogger Antonio Tahhan said...

I went throught the same thing after the spinach- e.coli crisis from last year. Who said being a foodie isn't an extreme sport? great post, Molly!

3:52 PM, May 06, 2008  
Blogger Heather Fontenot said...

I pre-ordered your book with much excitement today! Congratulations

4:39 PM, May 06, 2008  
Blogger junipie said...

Ahh! Congratulations!

I bought some fiddlehead ferns on a whim because I had heard so much about them and read a similar scary warning. But I forged ahead (no WAY I was going to let six dollars go to waste!) and we ended up okay. I'm so so glad you did too!

5:40 PM, May 06, 2008  
Anonymous elarael said...

I picked up on the "widow" thing too, haha! Would they ever say 60 year old bachelor?! I think not. Sheesh.

Also, my practice - picked up from some organic farm earth workers - is to wash all my produce in a bowl of warm water with a heavy splash of apple cider vinegar, though I suspect any cheap vinegar would work to kill any bug fauna. I let it soak 5-10 mins, then rinse. I've also heard that hydrogen peroxide works in the same way. I'd love to ask a "parasitologist" (pardon my ignorance : ) for an official opinion.

And exciting about the newest phase of your book; yay!

6:59 PM, May 06, 2008  
Blogger Lina said...

How exciting!!!!

10:56 PM, May 06, 2008  
Blogger Veronica M. said...

I just have to leave a quick note that I am so very excited about your book coming out. I'm not sure if you covered this, but who does your pictures? I am madly in love with them in general and I'm sure your book will be stunning as well!
Cheers and thanks for your blog. I always look forwards to reading.

1:15 AM, May 07, 2008  
Blogger Rachel said...

Congratulations on the pre-order! I'm off to add it to my amazon wishlist right now! (Family members have banned me from buying myself books, because when I do I then have no birthday/holiday gift ideas to offer them! Hence, the wishlist. They get ideas, I get exactly the books I want.) I do have a favor to ask, though...inspired by your blog and others, I have actually begun one of my own, and I was hoping you wouldn't mind if I had a link to Orangette on the page as one of my inspirations. May I?

8:31 AM, May 07, 2008  
OpenID panther said...

I am pre ordering your book now, but am hoping there will be a release/book signing party somewhere nearby??? You ARE in Seattle, after all.

(In unrelated news, I just got an autographed copy of Mario's new book....I am SUCH a food geek/fan girl)

5:52 PM, May 07, 2008  
Anonymous Zoe Francois said...

Hi Molly,

Congratulations on your book. This is my first visit to your website and already I am a fan. I'll look forward to reading it more often and to getting the book version, which if your amazon ranking is any indication will be a smashing success. When my book appeared for preorders on amazon it was ranked 800,000! I was just tickled to see it there at all. Luckily it has moved a few notches since then.

Good luck and have fun finishing. May your errata sheet be shorter than mine. ;)

Zoe Francois (co-author Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day)

11:00 AM, May 08, 2008  
Blogger Sheltie Girl said...

This is a lovely sounding dressing. Congratulations on your book being released.

Natalie @ Gluten a Go Go

6:11 AM, May 09, 2008  
Anonymous Amy said...

Molly, I made this vinaigrette this week and have been having over salads - most recently some greens with asparagus, bacon, homemade croutons and a poached egg. It's *delicious!* Thanks for the recipe. :)

10:40 AM, May 09, 2008  
Anonymous Marysol said...

uMolly, the salad looks great, but the dressing, oh the dressing got me, hook, line and sinker. I'll have to try that one.

And congratulations on your book! What a thrill.

12:55 PM, May 09, 2008  
Blogger Neen said...

Thanks for the dressing -- at some point I would love to hear Brendon's mental process, how he figured it out. Salad dressings scare me like some folks are scared of yeast or whisking mayo; they require a level of creativity and cosmic science and luck that I just can't master. So hearing how one of those gifted few think about it would be super useful. :) Just a thought :)

6:26 PM, May 09, 2008  
Blogger Molly said...

Oh guys. I'm so sorry for not responding to your comments sooner! Eeesh. I can't thank you enough for all the good cheer around my book. YOU ARE THE BEST. The absolute best. It makes me so happy to know that you're as excited about it as I am. Thank you, thank you.

Maiapapaya, since I wrote this post, Brandon and I have tried the dressing on Belgian endive, and it's delicious! I love the sound of your salad, with the boiled eggs and avocado...

Alice Q., I hear you. Loud and clear. I LOVED Nate! (Until the last season, when he kept doing stupid things.) What a handsome, handsome, lovely man. Ahhh.

Thanks for the heads-up, Nikki! I'll keep an eye out...

Nightquill, you're awesome. I had a good chuckle at that.

Thanks, Dirty Mistress and Lauren! Your comments made me feel much better. And really, Foraged and Found is a great little company, so though the possibilities freak me out, I still have to assume that they would take a lot of care with what they sell. You know?

Megan, I hadn't even noticed that! (Clearly, I was only seeing the words "infestation," "necrotic," and "flukes.") But you're so right. What's with all the widow stuff? Really weird.

Trish, I'm so glad you're liking the Polaroids! I've been playing around with film a lot lately - using both a Polaroid and a Pentax K1000 - and I'm loving it.

Katie, I bought that bag in Brussels, I'm afraid - not Paris. So sorry! It came from a little health food store called Shanti, in the Ixelles area.

I take all the photos here, Veronica. Thanks for the sweet words about them!

Rachel, I'm honored that you would want to link to Orangette! You don't even have to ask.

Alyxx, there will DEFINITELY be a party / book event of some sort in Seattle next spring! For sure. Maybe even two of them, in fact..

Zoe, I have been reading about your book all over the place lately! What a pleasure to see your name pop up here. Thank you so much for stopping by - and congratulations on your book's success!

Neen, I'll see if I can pull some strings for you...

7:18 PM, May 09, 2008  
Anonymous www.potsandpins.com said...

Well I don't want to be the only one who didn't pre-order your book - so I'm off to do so right now - and congrats! Having a book published is cause for major celebration so I hope you've got something special planned! When my first book was published my friends threw me a surprise party - one of the best days of my life!

10:26 PM, May 09, 2008  
Blogger pen and paper said...

Oooh, I've never had cream in a vinaigrette before. Intriguing.

I cannot cannot cannot wait for your book. So excited!

1:27 PM, May 10, 2008  
Blogger amisha said...

yikes to the watercress. but some baby arugula instead, maybe? the dressing sounds so so good! xo

10:42 PM, May 10, 2008  
Blogger Melinda said...

Hi Molly, it's refreshing to hear the delight you get from simple, fresh greens!

I also want to thank you for giving me advice about our student Web site, which is up and running at: http://digestmag.umn.edu/

7:24 PM, May 11, 2008  
Blogger Meg said...

oh, hey, symptoms resolved after only 12 weeks. That's a light 3 month illness for... a salad.
It must be exciting seeing commercial availability for something you've made and put so much work into. Congratulations.

8:31 PM, May 11, 2008  
Blogger xtine said...

YAY! I pre-ordered your book and while I was at it, bought a Nina Simone's 'The Tomato Collection'--looking forward to reading your comfy, polished writing while listening to Nina's rawer recordings.

2:19 PM, May 12, 2008  
OpenID bottomland said...

We've had fun foraging for wild fiddleheads in these parts (NH) and they are tasty. I love fresh food in the spring after a long, root-vegetable-intense winter.

3:04 PM, May 12, 2008  
Blogger dfsMetsfan said...

Your recipes look yummy! Will have to give some a try.

Congrats on the book. Very exciting business...seeing your name on a book jacket.

6:49 PM, May 12, 2008  

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