Monday, May 25, 2015

Culinary Snapshots from Provence

What a busy month of May this has been! In May the tourist season starts to really pick up in Vaison la Romaine. This is the month when friends who know when Provence is at its best start to appear on your doorstep. There are birthdays to be celebrated, tomatoes to be planted, it is the month of asparagus which we now eat about every other day and I even cooked the first twelve jars of cherry jam yesterday! My cooking classes had to be prepared, new recipes were tested and cooked by my lovely guests. So in between our private lunches or dinners tend to be fast and improvised. Have a look at what we ate lately:

 Beef capaccio with lemon vinaigrette, shaved parmesan and a little side salad

Tomato-Mozzarella revisited - I let the cherry tomatoes wilt with a little lug of olive oil over moderate heat, deglazed them with a splash of balsamico. Served lukewarm with baguette on the side.

Round zucchini stuffed with onion, garlic, sausage meat and some grated cheese, served in a very light tomato sauce

A wonderful dinner at my blogger friend Michel and Shirley Augsburger's beautiful Sablet house who served us

the best ever leek Risotto with steamed cod on a delicious fava bean puree

These two cuties visited Cuisine de Provence

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Spring Leeks with a Fishy Twist

Even in deepest winter it is a pleasure to visit Provence's beautiful farmer's markets but now that nature empties its horn of plenty full of fresh spring produce on all those stalls I can hardly contain my excitement. Today's bounty was white asparagus, skinny sweet leeks, the first fat, juicy bulbs of pink garlic, some basil and a huge bunch flat leaf parsley.
So tonight's dinner will be the asparagus. Steamed and served with a little Sauce Hollandaise, new potatoes and a slice of cooked ham. This is the traditional way white asparagus is served in Germany where they know a thing or two about this noble vegetable what with all those acres and acres of asparagus fields that you find all over the country.
After peeling the asparagus (that is the downside if you eat the white instead of the green) I tackled the leeks - just topped and tailed them, washed them thoroughly (they love to hide lots of sand) and very gently poached them for about 5 minutes in some vegetable stock.
Now you have to dry them real well - paper towels are good for this. Then I just melted about 50 g butter and three anchovy fillets, finely chopped up a handful of basil and parsley leaves, added a few generous turns of the peppermill and the juice of half a lemon. Stir all ingredients together and pour over the still warm leeks. Eat toute de suite with a slice of baguette or, if left for later, warm up for about 15 seconds in the microwave or a few minutes in a hot oven. Très, très bon!