Saturday, July 19, 2014

Boozy Summer Melon

Pastis is the summer drink of Provence. Nothing better than some icecubes, ice cold water and a generous splash of this aniseed liquor mixed for a refreshing sundowner - perfect for these hot summer days that spread into balmy nights when friends gather together around the pool or BBQ. 
My friend Thérèse surprised us with delicious if rather boozy summer nibbles: she marinates our wonderful Cavaillon melons with pastis and serves them straight from the fridge. You hardly need a drink alongside and still have the excuse that this counts towards your five a day....

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Summertime is Partytime in Provence

Living in Provence means that summertime is partytime - visitors come and go, life is lived outdoors (unless our "beloved" Mistral is howling at hurricane strength as is the case right now) and we drink Rosé wine for lunch and apéro and sometimes in between, too. And when you drink you need something to nibble on and these little tomato bites are not only très, très Provençal and delicious but also fast to make.
So you take two handsfull of cherry tomatoes, roast them over medium heat with a few drops of olive oil and when they start to wilt caramelize them with a small shot of balsamic vinegar.

 You then take a sheet of puff pastry and, using a shot glas for a cutter cut out smallish rounds of pastry which you decorate with a lick of black olive tapenade. On top goes one of the by now somewhat cooled down cherry tomatoes and once you have assembled a whole baking tray of these very summery morsels you pop them in the fridge for at least 20 minutes. 

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F and bake for 15 minutes. The very sudden change from the fridge into the hot oven helps the puff pastry to really puff. Warn your guests that the tomatoes are very hot inside or just wait a few minutes before serving. And don't forget the Rosé!

Provençal Tomato Bites

Friday, July 11, 2014

Summer in Provence

Today, on the road from Violès to Vaison la Romaine

Friday, June 20, 2014

Just what the doctor ordered

Guests at Cuisine de Provence often ask me "so what kind of food do you cook for just everyday?" They would probably be somewhat disappointed, as I am so not an organized daily cook - I don't really plan our meals but sort of look around the kitchen, the pantry - or, if I am really good - into the freezer early enough to allow for defrosting time.
Which didn't happen today. I woke up with a real bad toothache and what was really disheartening about this was that our wonderful dentist had recently retired. Don't you find it is one of the hardest things ever to find a dentist you really trust? I had no choice but to bite the bullet so to speak, went to his successor, begged the receptionist to be allowed to see the doctor and got away with antibiotics and painkillers and six (yes, six) bottles of mouthwash - French doctors don't do small prescriptions. But I really think I found a new dentist we will be happy with. Phew!
By then it was lunchtime with nothing planned for so another improvision needed. I had cherry tomatoes, miniature red and yellow peppers, a big bunch of flat leaf parsley and garlic. A big splash of olive oil went into a pan, the cherry tomatoes and chopped up peppers followed and I let everything wilt over medium heat. A clove of garlic, finely minced, a glass of tomato sauce and a few capers and pasta from the pantry - lunch was ready. Perfect food for a still somewhat fragile tooth - just what the doctor ordered.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Summer Time - Salad Time

"Gourmande in the Kitchen" is a deliciously inspiring blog I follow and this morning it just so happened that I could just taste the featured "Zucchini Noodles" and, better still, had all ingredients at my fingertips. Now to me this is more a salad than noodles (being a bit of a traditionalist, as far as I am concerned noodles have to be warm) but since summer has finally reached Provence and today's temperature is 33 C/ 91 F - salad is what we crave now. And this one is as fast as it is delicous! All you need are a few zucchini, a handful of cherry tomatoes, a few capers,  half a lemon and olive oil, a julienne cutter and voilà - a delicious and very pretty summer salad is about five minutes away! Merci Gourmande!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Early Morning Market Visit

Early this morning at Vaison's famous Provençal market: stallholders were still piling their produce and this gentleman sold me some zucchini plants for my kitchen garden before resuming to decorate his stall. You should have heard the (rather off color) jokes he took from his colleagues when he unearthed this impressive squash.  I pretended not to understand....

Saturday, May 17, 2014

You call them eggplants, I call them aubergines...

I very rarely buy aubergines or eggplants as they are called in the US. I don't really like them, their texture, the way they soak up enormous amounts of oil - I don't even use them when preparing Ratatouille - the mother of all Provençal dishes - and my version tastes just fine without them.
But Istanbul Cooking School where I recently took part in a cooking class sort of converted me. Or, closer to the point, I got totally seduced by this recipe our charming host Oguz taught us. It is called Közde Patlican and is served as one of the wonderful mezze Turkish cuisine excels in. Another plus - it is practically child's play to prepare as long as you have a gas stove or a BBQ.
Just take two or three aubergines and roast them, turning them every so often, until they are really soft and nicely charred on the outside.

 Roast eggplant on a gas fire or BBQ
 until nicely soft and lightly charred

 cut open and scoop out the flesh

drizzle with lemon juice so the flesh doesn't turn dark

Then you just chop the flesh with a sharp knife, mix it with one or two very finely minced garlic cloves and a real good dash of olive oil et voilà the Turkish version of what we in Provence call "Caviar d'aubergines"  - the poor man's caviar. Serve with crunchy baguette and a cool glass of Rosé.

Credit for this lovely dish goes to Oguz of Istanbul Cooking School