Tomates a la Provencale !
If you haven't tried my recipe yet , it's not too late ....Tomatoes are great right now !
Not the prettiest looking tomatoes but I promise the best tasting ones you'll ever have ! It is like a confit of tomatoes , rich in flavors . I serve them cold on bread as an appetizer but you can also serve them warm as a side to any dish . And the best is that it is the easiest recipe ever !
The secret ? Buy some over ripped tomatoes at your local farmer's market . I buy mine from a stand in Little Italy or Hillcrest farmer's market . They have them in a bag and they are only around $5 / bag so it is Ok even if there is a couple bad ones in the mix .
In a large non stick pan , pour a nice bed of olive oil . Wash , dry and cut the tomatoes in 2 as on the photo . Place cut side down in the oil . Cover and cook on medium high for about 15mns . You want the skin to become loose .Water will come out of the tomatoes into the pan , boiling .
Remove from the heat , uncover and let cool off a few minutes witch will make flipping them easier . Gently turn the tomatoes cut side up .
Ad a pinch of sugar , salt and pepper on each tomato , herbes de Provence and traditionally garlic and parsley . We like them plain so I do not ad these but I 'll sprinkle a little grated parmigiano cheese just before to serve .
Wait ! You are not done yet !! Cover again and simmer now on low until there is no more juice in the pan wich can take 1h to 1h 1/2. Check once in a while .
Restaurants will just seared the tomatoes on the grill to give them pretty grill marks , put the garlic and parsley to garnish and serve as a good looking fake Tomate a la Provencale ! Yes , mine are not the best looking but you will love the condensed flavors and your guest will too !
6th of january : The Epiphany ...to celebrate , the french eat a "Galette des Rois" or a king's cake .
With the French ... it's always about food ! To celebrate the Epiphany until the end of January , people host parties or dinners where they serve for desert a special cake " Galette des Rois " with a "feve" ( charm hidden inside ). It can be a coin , a bean or a tiny santon figurine . Who ever gets it , is crown the king with a gold paper crown and is hosting the next party :)
The frangipane is a very easy cake to make and here is my recipe :
Mix together with a spatula:
150grs /5.3oz Ground almonds
150grs/5.3oz sweet butter creamed not melted
3 large whole eggs
2 tsp of almond extract
Line a buttered pie mold with a puff pastry ( the frozen ones from pepperridge farm work great) . Make tiny holes with a fork . Fill with the batter and cover with a second puff pastry sheet . Close it , brush with a mix of egg yolk and milk so the pie will brown....you can decorate it with extra pieces of puff pastry or simply use a knife to make some diamond designs .
Bake at 400F for about 40mns or until golden brown . Eat still a bit warm or re- heat if are eating it later ! Toast with some apple cider or Champagne !
This must be the best kept secret by every French cook ... and there is a good reason why : Every time you serve this , you totally amaze your guests ! But it is so easy to make ...you don't want them to know how easy it was to whip this up in just about 20 mns ....
Today Pierre will unveil the recipe of THE Cheese Souffle !
For 4 ramequins :
50 grs of butter - 50 grs flour - 250 ml of milk - 150 grs of cheese ( italian mix from Trader Joe's is tasty ) - 5 eggs - nutmeg - Herbes de Provence
First you have to make a thick "Bechamel sauce " . This is a base sauce to a lot of french recipes and hopefully you have already mastered this one . It took me a while to get this right when I first started cooking ....I had just moved out of my parents home and in with Pascal into a tiny studio in Nice . I was 18 and had never cooked before as my mum was always cooking so much . Learning over the phone , without any proportions because my mum could do it in her sleep without measuring , on an old electric cook top was not easy ...I made it too thick , too thin , with a lot of lumps but I finally got it !
Us for my 18th birthday ...some 30 years ago !
In a sauce pan melt the butter . When hot ad all the flour at once and mix well to make a "roux" Let it bubble and cook until lightly colored ( a few minutes ) Then ad the warm milk and keep mixing at it will thicken right away . You want a smooth, heavy , sticky thick texture for the souffle . Take away from the heat and let cool a little.
While the batter is cooling off . Separate the whites from the yolks . Keep only 4 yolks . Ad them one by one into the batter , mixing well right away so they blend in and not cook in contact . Sprinkle some nutmeg , Herbes de Provence and finally ad the cheese mix .
Whip the egg whites with a pinch of salt until and nice and firm . Fold into the batter until smooth .
Butter and flour the inside of the 4 ramequins . Pour the mix into the dishes . This is the most important note and THE secret to any successful souffle : you must "clean "the inside of the ramequin by sliding a knife blade along the rim to separate the batter from the dish allowing it to rise freely and straight up . If there is some batter touching on an area , this will stick and make the souffle only rise on the other sides ...look crooked and not cook evenly . Cook for 30mns at 350F and serve immediately as the souffle will deflate as soon as you take it out of the oven .
Enjoy and amaze your guests too !
Pierre is back in the kitchen ! This is an easy desert that you can prepare ahead of time for most of it and that will really impress your guests !
Get your apron on !
An omelette norvegienne is Not an omelette and has nothing Norwegian about it .....it is an ice cream desert that you put in the oven to sizzle the meringue and finish by "flambe" at the table ! This desert was created in 1867 during the Exposion Universelle of Paris by a french chef of one of the grand hotel to impress their guests with a technical desert . It had been said that egg whites didn't conduct heat well so a meringue would be a good isolation from the heat of the oven ...and the "omelette Norvegienne " was created ! For the longest time it was the pride attribute of palace hotels only ....not any more !
You will need : 1 quart of Vanilla ice cream , some golden raisins, a good dark rhum to soak them in , 6 eggs and less than a pound of sugar.
Start by macerating the raisins in rhum over night . The next day take the quart of ice cream and let it soften at room temperature for a while so you can mix in the raisins and some rhum as well ...no measuring ...you can put as much as you wish . I like it on the strong side . ( You can also layer different type of ice cream or ad some crunchy toffee in)
Layer the bottom of a "pound cake"mold with plastic wrap so it is easy to take off the mold later . Fill the mold with the ice cream and put back in the freezer. This can be done weeks in advance.
The "genoise" bottom sponge-cake : Separate the egg yolks from the whites of 2 large eggs . Beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until soft peaks are formed , then ad 1,5 oz/ 40 grs of sugar to make a meringue . Beat until shinny and firm . Mix the yolks with 1,5 oz / 40 grs of sugar until creamy and fluffy . Incorporate a little bit of white mixture to loosen the batter , then sift in 1,5 oz /40grs of flour . Finish to incorporate the rest of the meringue by folding it in delicately with a spatula .
Put the batter down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper . Shape it to be big enough for your cake mold . Bake at 375F for 6-8 mns max until barely colored and cooked through .
Put the sponge cake on top of the ice cream and back into the freezer until last minute .
Last minute prep : Heat up your oven to 500F . Make a meringue with 4 egg whites , a pinch of salt and 10oz / 280 grs of sugar . Make sure you beat the whites until firm before to ad the sugar and keep beating until shinny and firm . I tried to make this before my guests arrive and keep it in the fridge . The meringue soften and my desert was a mess . So make this part at the last minute to insure you have a nice and firm meringue OR you could probably make an "italien " meringue witch means to boil the sugar into a syrup and ad this hot sugar into your beaten egg whites beating until the batter cools off making a more stable meringue that should be able to wait in the fridge . Put the meringue in a ziploc bag , cut a tiny hole at the bottom ( or use a pastry bag with attachment ) and you are ready to decorate your ice cream cake ! Take the ice cream cake out of the freezer and out of the mold onto a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil . Decorate with the meringue and put in the oven for 5 mns until the meringue get colored . In the mean time warm up some Grand Marnier in a pan so you can "flambe" your desert when it comes out of the oven .( Do not have the hood on when you Flambe anything or it will suck the flames up the hood ! )
Slice and serve immediately !! The combination of hot and cold is really what makes this desert so special and a perfect ending to a Holiday meal .
This is a very traditional lamb shoulder recipe typical from Provence and the perfect Easter meal . Lamb shoulder are almost impossible to find here but you can make this sauce with any other lamb roast .
In your baking pan put a lemon ( sliced , seeds removed ) and a whole can of anchovies in olive oil ( do not be scared by the anchovies ..their bones will melt during cooking and they won't give a fishy taste to your lamb at all but a nice deep salty flavor ...this is actually the secret ingredient ....if you don't tell , they won't know but they will love it ! ) , then some garlic cloves ( i usually boil them first for 15 mns to pre-cook them , that avoid to have them dry out and still be hard ...this way they will melt in your gravy ) If you are doing a leg of lamb you will probably have to double all these proportions . Lay over you lamb ( shoulder , leg or rack) . Insert a few garlic cloves rolled in thyme and salt under the skin. Rub with herbs, rosemary works very well , salt and olive oil ; bake .Once the meat is done , put aside . Remove the slices of lemon , take the skin of the garlic cloves and mix it all with the cooking juices to make the best gravy to accompany a lamb dish .
I like to serve my lamb with green beans, a potatoe gratin ( gratin d'auphinois de preference ! ) and an eggplant gratin too ....
For the gratin d'auphinois : slice with a mandoline thin slices of potatoes . Layer them in a baking dish with herbes de Provence ,sliced onions , salt and pepper. Cover with whipping cream or chicken broth if you do not want the dairy and fat !In Provence we do broth but in the rest of France they do cream and sometime cheese ....up to you . Bake until done ...make sure it doesn't get to dry ...ad some liquid if necessary .
The eggplant "papeton" : skin and cube the eggplants ( 2 ) saute in oilve oil , ad salt , 2 bay leaves and cover immediately so the eggplant will give out water . Ad 2 crushed garlic cloves, thyme and cook cover until the eggplant make a mash .Ad a bit of water if it gets too dry . Take off the heat and ad 2 eggs beaten. Pour in a baking dish and bake in a double boiler until done ( 1 hour or so ) VOILA !!!
I appologize if my photos are not the best because I always remenber to take them when I'm in the midle of the cooking process and my hands are a mess or in a rush when I serve it because we really want to eat right away !!! Can't wait when it's that good :)
This is fabulous recipe I use to make back in France for the Holidays . Originally the recipe called for fresh duck breasts and fresh duck foie gras....the foie gras bringing enough fat to the otherwise dry breasts making for the perfect Holiday dish . Now living in California where such delicacy has been banned ( and I have to say that our own livers have also a hard time digesting it too now ) I have modified my recipe to something just as delicious and tasty but healthier, much easier to digest and also legal !! No need to smuggle foie gras on your next trip to France !
Serve it with a wild arugula salad , caramelized pears and pecan with a basalmic vinaigrette .
But before to get there you first have to make your own duck confit as it is just impossible to find some here . Duck confit is one of the most delicious way to eat duck , even for those who do not care for duck as it is cured in such a way that it falls of the bones and melt in your mouth . I just wish we could find fattier duck legs with a thick fat skin but I still got delicious results with the legs I find at Whole Foods . Once cooked the duck confit legs can be kept in the duck fat for months in the fridge making the whole process easier as many steps can be done in advance .
Making duck Confit legs at home :
It is a "long" process but a very easy one , so don't panic !
First cure the legs with sea salt rubbing the duck . Lay flat in a baking sheet and put in the fridge for 15 to maximum 20 hours ( any longer and your duck will be way too salty ) Then rinse well and pat dry . I would make as many as possible since they preserve so long . You will need 5 legs for a tourte ...but a duck confit leg with a crispy skin served on a potatoe gratin is also a fabulous dinner any day !
In a crock pot put the duck legs and cover with melted duck fat . You can buy duck fat at specialty stores like Whole Foods . It comes in small containers and looks solid . Buy as much as you need to cover all the duck ....this will also preserve the duck once cooked and can be used over and over ....also tastiest way to saute some potatoes ! I always have some in my fridge ....
Simmer at a very low temperature 70F to maximum 80F so the fat does not boil for about 6 to 8 hours .This is when the crock pot comes in handy ....but I could not adjust the temperature on mine so I had to go from "low " setting to " keep warm" in order to keep the temperature under control . When the meat is super tender , put in a container and cover totally with the duck fat . Store in the fridge .
The day you want to make the duck tourte , take the duck out and warm up to melt the fat. Boil some thick potatoe slices . When almost cooked , drain and lay on a baking pan . Display the duck legs on top and put in oven to broil until the skin gets crispy and gold.
For a 12" round pie mold big enough to serve 8 people :
Pull the crispy skin and duck meat off the bones of 5 legs , lightly mash about one big cooked potato ( the one sliced that was under the duck in the oven ), mash slightly a small jar of cooked and peeled chestnuts. Rehydrate a bag of wild dry mushrooms ( 25grs from Trader Joes ) then saute in butter with a bag of sliced crimimi mushrooms ( 10oz bag chopped ). Once all the water is evaporated ad to the meat + 2 eggs and 20ml of whipping cream , pepper , NO salt .Mix well
You will need a package of 2 frozen Pepperidge Farm Puff pastry sheets . Defrost the day before . Roll flat the 1st sheet and lay inside the pie mold. Fill with meat mix , cover with the second puff pastry sheet using water or egg white to "glue" the 2 together . Decorate with the rest of dough .Make a small chimney so the steam can get out and keep the crust crunchy , brush with egg yolk so it will get a nice color and bake for a bout 45 mns at 375F or less. Serve warm not hot .
And voila !