This guest-post comes to us from food-writer Joy Hui Lin.
A stroll around New York’s Lower East Side will lead you inevitably to the storefront of Russ And Daughters Appetizing with all its delights. After more than a century in the appetizing business handed down through four generations, Mark Russ Federman has put to page detailing the history of the family’s business and the Lower East Side.
Russ & Daughters: Reflections and Recipes from the House that Herring Built is more memoir than cookbook with bright and engaging anecdotes and voices of the family, owners, and staff (which were always intermingled), and their loyal customers, many of whom are generational as well. Federm
an quickly disabuses any sentimentality in the retelling. His immediate family and extended relations were all forcefully obliged to work at the store full-time six days a week. His aunts, which is where “The Daughters” from the store’s namesake comes from, refer back to their careers there as the “old days,” emphasizing that it was never an easy ride. Federman is an engaging narrator who constantly reminds the reader that his family’s fortunes improved out of a combination of fortitude and good luck. He continues the family tradition by strong arming both his children into helping out during the holiday rush. He once flew his daughter, Niki Federman (the current co-owner), all the way from Paris, and coaxed his son away from medical school to lend a hand. (Federman says he must be the only father who didn’t want his son to become a doctor.)
Adapted from Russ & Daughters, New York
(Makes 4-6 Servings)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium leek, cleaned, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
1 rib celery, trimmed and diced
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1 large, starchy potato, peeled and cut into small cubes
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 cups chicken stock, either homemade or low-sodium
1 bay leaf
2 cups whole milk
4 ounces smoked salmon, flaked
3/4 cup heavy cream
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Fresh chives, minced, for garnishMelt the butter with the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot set over medium heat. Add leek, carrot and celery, and cook until the vegetables have softened, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic, potato and thyme, and cook until the garlic is fragrant, an additional 2 or 3 minutes.
Sprinkle the flour over the vegetable mixture and stir to combine, then cook, stirring often, for approximately 5 minutes, making sure not to scorch the bottom of the pan.
Add the wine, chicken stock and bay leaf, and bring mixture to a simmer. After 10 minutes or so, stir in the milk, and return to a simmer. Cook until the potatoes are tender, approximately 25 minutes. Add the salmon and stir gently, allowing the fish to warm but making sure that the mixture does not boil.
Remove the bay leaf and discard. Add the cream, then stir to combine and heat through. Season to taste with pepper. Garnish with minced chives.