Saturday, April 24, 2010

Tapenade - the taste of Provence

About a week ago my fellow blogger of the very beautiful « Figtree Appetizers » posted a recipe using Belgian endives filled with smoked salmon. I commented that here in Provence we also often use endive leaves as a “carrier” for various appetizers and that I like to serve them with a tomato tapenade. Tapenade is a very popular Provençal spread, normally made from either black or green olives – but I really like this version best.

You need very good quality semi dried tomatoes (tomates confites) – if you use the ones from a jar don't use the oil they come with but fresh cold pressed olive oil. As always the quality of the ingredients makes or breaks the end result.
Semi dried tomatoes (tomates confites)

In a food processor mix 100 g tomates confites, 100 g green olives (pitted!), 80 g toasted pine nuts, 50 g capers, one clove of garlic, peeled and minced, pepper fresh from the mill and about 2 tbsp olive oil.

Serve on endive leaves, crusty little slices of baguette, on hard boiled quail's eggs, or with vegetable sticks. Here in Provence we like to pair this tapenade with a bottle of ice cold rosé wine - the temperatures are just getting warm enough now to indulge in summery delicacies like these.

Very Provençal: Tomato Tapenade

Monday, April 12, 2010

Small is Beautiful

Local produce at it's best

It is not always the big weekly markets in Provence that are the most authentic. As much as I love our big Provençal Tuesday morning market in Vaison (an American travel guide calls it “one of France's best”), I try to never miss the farmer's market on Saturday mornings on the parking by the post office. There are not more than about 12 or so stalls there, but starting from farm fresh eggs and poultry, fruits and vegetables, hand picked herbal teas, olives and olive oil to seedlings for my kitchen garden and goat's cheese, this is where I get all the essentials and a lot of inspiration on what to cook that weekend. Guess what we had last Saturday? The first local asparagus and strawberries for dessert - heaven!

Asparagus season has started!

I especially love the old Provençal farmer who sells just a few pots of herbs (in the autumn he had lovely squash). Most everybody I know shops at this market to support the local farmers. Which means you also get to meet a lot of your friends there and after buying all the goodies you need (and some just because they are so tempting) we always go and have coffee “chez Brigitte” and brush up on the local gossip.
Last week's crop: persil