Saturday, October 4, 2014

I might become a baker yet...

Most people are either a cook or a baker, seldom both. I so do not care for baking that I am grateful for living where I do, as in France we are spoiled for our choice of  bakers and patissiers. I have yet to find a French housewife who bakes her own bread and even dinner party desserts are very unashamedly bought in, inspite of often totally absurd prices. Today at a not even fancy village bakery I saw an medium sized apricot tart that even I would whip up in five minutes for the royal sum of  € 25 ($ 31/£ 20) - highway robbery!
So what got me baking? Again - ridiculus pricing. What the Italians call Foccacia and in Provence is known as Fougasse is easily thrown together with ingredients that cost "trois fois rien" - three times nothing as we say in Provence: wholemeal flour, semolina, some salt, olive oil and warm water plus a few grams of yeast , some Herbes de Provence and about 4 or five chopped up sundried tomatoes. Lovingly kneaded, then left to prove for an hour et voilà! Fougasse! Next time to be varied with lardons (bacon bits) and caramelized onions.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Up to my Elbows in Tomatoes

Our kitchen garden is not exactly giving us much joy this year - the zucchini are flowering and flowering but have not produced one single fruit, our lovingly seeded butternut squash does the same, the peppers are probably proud to show one (in numbers: 1!) scrawny little pepper and the only tomatoes that grow are the cherry tomatoes we planted more or less for decoration purposes into pots against a sunny wall. So to our farmer's market I go. There, talk about adding insult to very much bruised gardener's pride, they are selling tomatoes cheaper than ever this summer since they have such a bountiful harvest....

Of course I can't resist and have been spending much time in the kitchen up to my elbows in tomatoes - coring and cutting then cooking them. Then passing them through my newest toy, the "Passatutto Master" that removes skins and pips (and no, unfortunately I don't get paid for this and even bought and paid for this tomato wonder machine myself).

 Tomato skin and pips remover

Once skinned and deseeded in went little chunks of carrots and zucchini, garlic and some onions, loads of basil, a bit of sugar and salt and pepper and lots of tender loving stirring care. Lots. For the best pasta sauce ever. Almost as good as the one a former colleague used to bring back from her Nonna when returning from her summer vacations in Sicily. But I can still practise - tomato season is still on and tomorrow is farmer's market day.
Homemade Pasta Sauce

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Almost Wordless Wednesday

 Lunch today: from here

and here

onto the table - Tarte Tatin aux Tomates

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Sablet 1900 - Provence Village Fête

We almost missed it - there were no flyers distributed and no posters advertised this lovely Provençal village fête "Sablet 1900" this morning in our neighboring village of Sablet. And although it is the height of the tourist season in Provence we heard no Dutch, no English, no German - it seems the Sabletains (as the inhabitants of Sablet are called) wanted to keep this true village fête for themselves.

A magnificent Gallic Rooster

 Très chic - very elegant ladies

 L'accordéoniste - accordion player

 This is how coffee was cooked in 1900

 Monsieur le Curé - the Village Priest

 Le Berger - The Shepherd

 Traditional Provençal Dance

Le Facteur - the Postman

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