Tag Archives: France

Eggplant and Tomato Tian

This Provençal dish is a bright accompaniment to a grilled steak or lamb chop.  The term “tian” refers to both the earthenware dish in which the vegetables are cooked and the gratin of vegetables and cheese itself.

Ingredients:

1 large eggplant (preferably Sicilian), thinly sliced

2 large tomatoes, thinly sliced

Fresh ground pepper

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Fresh basil

Sea salt

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Drizzle olive oil on the bottom of a round 9-inch ceramic tart pan.  Arrange the eggplant in a layer on the bottom of the dish, permitting the slices to overlap slightly.  Then add a layer of tomato and season with pepper.  Continue to layer in this fashion until you use all of the tomato and eggplant.  Top with another drizzle of olive oil, and bake covered with aluminum foil for 30 minutes.  Uncover, add the cheese, and bake for another 30 minutes until the vegetables are browned and the eggplant is tender.  Top with fresh basil and sea salt before serving.

Tian

Beneath Your Feet – A Summer Tavel

Summer is the season for rosés, and my favorites are French.  Tavel wine, known as the “King of Rosé”, is from the Languedoc region in Southern France.  This wine royalty is richer in color and more full bodied than the typical rosé.  Tavels are also quite versatile – I have paired them with meals ranging from a Salade Niçoise to a crispy duck leg.  Do not permit summer to pass by without savoring a Tavel from the wine cave.

Tavel Final

In response to Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge: Beneath Your Feet

Mara de Bois: Thoughts on a Special Strawberry

I could spend days strolling through the weekly market in the French town of Vaison-la-Romaine.  The vendors at this open air marché sell food and wares from sardines to soap, from Morbier to mattresses.  Of all the treasures on display in this maze of stalls, the Mara de Bois – the strawberry that is like a large ruby – is the most precious.

This flavorful gem is smaller and rounder than other varieties, and my husband and I were lured by its sweet perfume.  The merchant offered us a taste, and the aromatic sugar cube melted on my tongue.  Of the two pints we purchased, one made it back to the house.  It took all of my will power to save the other for dessert.  (The tiny berries are so delicate that you must consume them within hours of purchase; at least, that is what I told myself as I popped the juicy candies into my mouth.)

There was no need to stop at the confiserie after our trip to the market.  The Mara de Bois is a natural confection.  And, that evening’s dessert was the simplest I have ever prepared – two petite bowls of Mara de Bois.  No honey, no whipped cream, and certainly, no sugar.

Pistachio Madeleines

My go to madeleine recipe is from Fernand Point’s Ma Gastronomie (copyright 2008 The Rookery Press).   This cookbook is a collection of recipes and thoughts on food by Point — the famed chef and owner of Restaurant de la Pyramide in Lyon, France, where he honored the traditions of the culinary masters while creating new dishes showcasing seasonal ingredients in the early 20th century.  Point’s cuisine would likely be considered “farm to table” in today’s foodie vocabulary.  I recently modified Point’s recipe to include pistachios…

Raw Pistachios

Ingredients:

3 egg yolks

¾ cup sugar plus 2 tablespoons

14 tablespoons melted butter

Zest of one lemon

1 1/3 cups flour

5 stiffly beaten egg whites

1/3 cup of unsalted, shelled pistachios pureed in a food processor

Blend the sugar into the three egg yolks.  Then mix in the butter and lemon zest.  Add the flour a bit at a time, then fold in the egg whites followed by the pistachios.  Butter your madeleine mold and spoon the batter into the mold.   Bake for about 10 minutes at 375 degrees.  This cooking time is for a larger size madeleine (this mold will typically have 12 cavities).

Madeleines 3

When I made the pistachio madeleines, I used a De Buyer silicone mini madeleine mold with 20 portions and reduced the cook time.  The mini madeleines were a lovely summer green hue and made for a perfect accompaniment to gelato or sorbet.

Slow Down…Take the Time to Celebrate Bastille Day — Escargots au Beurre

Add a French flair to your dining experience today — Le quatorze juillet.  One of the simplest ways to do so is to prepare this appetizer of snails with butter.  It will take quatorze minutes, at most…

Ingredients:

1 baguette

1 dozen escargots

3 tablespoons French butter

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Additional extra virgin olive oil to drizzle on the baguette slices

5 cloves garlic, chopped

3 scallions, sliced or 1 shallot, chopped

1 handful parsley, chopped

Finishing salt

Fresh ground pepper

I use Roland escargots, which can be found in the grocery store.  Each can is 8.75 ounces and contains one dozen escargots.  This is ideal for serving three to four guests, but you can modify the above quantities for a larger celebration of La fête nationale.  The advantage to using these escargots is that they are already cleaned and cooked – you only have to heat them!

Preheat the broiler.  Slice the baguette into pieces lengthwise and then each piece in half as if making a sandwich.  Drizzle olive oil on each slice.  Place the slices under the broiler until they are golden brown on one side.  Then turn the slices over to lightly toast the other side.  Remove the slices from the broiler and place one slice on each small plate.

Heat a large nonstick pan over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 3 tablespoons of French butter.  Allow the pan to heat up and the butter to foam.  Tilt the pan around so that the olive oil and butter coat the bottom of the pan.  Add the garlic and scallions/shallot to the pan and stir with a wooden spoon.  Allow these ingredients to cook for about 2 minutes.  Drain the liquid from the can of escargots and add them to the pan along with the parsley.  Turn the heat down to low and stir.  The escargots should be heated through in just a few minutes.  Place three or four escargots on each slice of baguette and drizzle some of the butter mixture so that no richness goes to waste.  Season with finishing salt and pepper to taste.

DSCN2933

 Bonne fête!