2005_01_food_americanplace.JPGAn American Place, by Larry Forgione (Morrow, 1996)

Larry Forgione, who, as the chef at The River Cafe, coined the phrase "free-range chickens", is often hailed as the godfather of New American cuisine. In An American Place, Forgione provides recipes for American comfort foods like Cod Cakes with Tartar Sauce and Chocolate Walnut Fudge Cake, as well as exciting experiments with fresh ingredients, like Grilled Mahi-Mahi with Pineapple Barbecue Sauce and Seared Trout with Pumpkin Seed Brown Butter. Thankfully, he doesn't waste his efforts on macaroni and cheese or deviled eggs, two comfort foods amply covered by other comfort-food cookbooks. Forgione's focus is fresh ingredients and good flavors, so while some old-fashioned American recipes (like Strawberry Shortcake) are allowed to keep their traditional form, some old-fashioned foods are reconsidered a bit. Waldorf Salad falls into the second category.

2005_01_food_waldorf.JPGGothamist's mom would always make Waldorf Salad at Thanksgiving. It was very creamy and dessert-like, with red seedless grapes (a "sweet, goopy mess", as Forgione tells it). While this is a very common variation, Forgione insists (and we believe him!) that this was not the more savory recipe originally prepared tableside at the Waldorf Hotel. We like his recipe a lot, especially given the abundance of apples at the farmer's market, although it's just not the same without the grapes. It still makes a great breakfast, though!

Waldorf Salad
Serves 4

1 cup walnut halves
1/2 cup mayonnaise, preferably homemade (Gothamist says: No chance!)
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
Pinch of dry mustard
Juice of 1/2 lemon
4 to 6 tart apples, peeled, cored, and diced (2 cups)
1 to 2 cups finely diced inner ribs celery (white part only), leaves reserved
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 bunches tender greens, such as arugula, baby kale, or pepper cress, washed and dried
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1. Preheat the oven to 325"F.

2. Spread the walnuts on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 4 to 5 minutes, until aromatic and lightly toasted. Let cool.

3. Combine the mayonnaise, yogurt, both mustards, and the lemon juice in a large bowl. Fold in the apples and diced celery and season with salt and pepper.

4. Put the salad greens in a large bowl. Add the olive oil and lemon juice, season with salt and pepper, and toss well. Divide the greens among four plates. Spoon the apple mixture onto the greens and sprinkle with the toasted walnuts and reserved celery leaves.