Authors: Dorie Greenspan
Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl and mix everything together lightly with a rubber spatula. (You don't want to beat the cheese and risk thinning it.) Taste and adjust the seasonings as you wish, adding a little more garlic, herbs, and/or vinegar. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
Taste the cheese and season again if needed before serving.
MAKES ABOUT 2 CUPS OR 4 TO 6 SERVINGS
The cheese can be served as a dip with lots of raw vegetables or as a spread with crackers or hunks of warm toasted country bread.
Covered well, the cheese will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 days; stir gently before serving.
Choose 4 medium tomatoes that are ripe but still firm, and blanch them for 15 seconds so that you can peel them (see
). Cut the top third off each tomato (reserve it) and, using a small spoon or your fingers, pull the pulp and seeds from the tomato, leaving a sturdy wall. Turn the tomatoes over onto a paper towel and drain for about 30 minutes. To serve, fill each tomato with some herb cheese and cap with the reserved tops. I like to drizzle a little Basil Pesto (
) or Basil Coulis (see Bonne Idée,
) around the tomatoes.
UACAMOLE HAS BECOME A STANDARD IN FRANCE,
particularly in Paris, where, as often as it's served with chips, that's how often it turns up in unexpected roles. At Cuisine de Bar, the chic sandwich restaurant next to the famous Poiláne boulangerie (see
), guacamole is turned into a tartine (see box,
), dotted with small shrimp. At fancier restaurants, I've seen it used as the base of a salmon tartare, or as part of a layered crab salad served in a glass, or spooned into pretty quenelles to become a garnish for gazpacho.
While the French tend to buy their guacamole rather than prepare it themselves, I like to make my own, even in Paris, where one of the ingredients I consider essential is rarely available: jalapeño peppers. I keep dried jalapeño powder in my cupboard and cans of jalapeño too—both brought from the United States—and usually add whatever hot pepper I can find at the market.
I make this guacamole two ways: chunky and smooth. For chunky, I mix the ingredients in a bowl with a fork; for smooth, I reach for my mortar and pestle. It's good both ways, so I leave it to you to decide on the method.
|Leaves from 4–6 cilantro sprigs, plus chopped fresh cilantro to taste|
|2||slices red onion, chopped|
|½||jalapeño, or more to taste, finely chopped|
|2||ripe Hass avocados, halved, pitted, and peeled|
|Freshly ground pepper|
|About 6 grape tomatoes, quartered|
|About ¼ red bell pepper, finely chopped|
TO MAKE A SMOOTH GUACAMOLE:
Grate the lime zest into a mortar. Toss in the cilantro leaves, onion, jalapeño, and a good pinch of salt and go to work with the pestle, pressing on the ingredients and moving the pestle around in a circular motion. You'll crush the cilantro but only just bruise the onion and jalapeño, and that's fine. Add the avocado, squeeze in all the juice from the lime, and use the pestle to break up the avocado and blend it with the other ingredients. Taste for salt, add pepper and hot sauce as you like, and then stir in the tomatoes, bell pepper, and chopped cilantro.
TO MAKE A CHUNKIER GUACAMOLE:
Grate the lime zest into a bowl. Finely chop the cilantro leaves and add them, along with the onion, jalapeño, and a good pinch of salt, and toss with a fork. Chop the avocado and put the pieces in the bowl, along with the tomatoes and bell pepper. Squeeze all the juice from the lime over the ingredients and stir everything together gently. Taste for salt, add pepper and hot sauce as you like, and sprinkle with the chopped cilantro.
MAKES ABOUT 1½ CUPS OR 4 SERVINGS
If you've made the guacamole in a mortar, use it as your serving bowl. No matter how you've made it, serve it with your favorite chips.
The guacamole is at its best freshly made, but if you have to hold it for a little while, press a piece of plastic wrap directly against the surface to create an airtight seal and keep it in the refrigerator.
ESPITE ITS FANCY NAME, EGGPLANT CAVIAR IS
a humble dish, one you find as a starter in student restaurants, a take-out item in just about any specialty shop, and a staple in the ready-mades section of most supermarkets. But, made with care and seasoned with generosity, the dish—half dip, half spread, and closely related to Middle Eastern baba ghanoush—can live up to its moniker. In my version, there's lemon juice for brightness, onion for sharpness, tomato for sweetness, and fresh herbs for complexity, all of which give the classic new life.
I like to serve the caviar the day it's made, so if I'm serving 4 people or fewer, I halve the recipe to avoid having leftovers.
|2||firm eggplants, each about 1½ pounds|
|2||garlic cloves, split, germ removed, and minced|
|2||tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil|
|Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon|
|1||small onion, finely chopped, rinsed, and patted dry|
|1-2||tablespoons finely shredded fresh basil|
|1-2||tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro|
|1||teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme|
|Pinch of piment d'Espelette (see Sources|
) or cayenne
|Salt and freshly ground pepper|
|2||medium tomatoes, peeled (optional), seeded, and finely chopped|
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil.
Rinse and dry the eggplants and prick them all over with a fork, or stab them in a few places with the point of a small knife. Put the eggplants on the foil-lined baking sheet and roast them for 45 minutes to an hour, until they're soft and shriveled. Remove them from the oven and leave them on the baking sheet until they're cool enough to handle (or until they reach room temperature).
Slit the eggplants open and scrape the soft flesh into a bowl; discard the skin. Add the garlic and olive oil. Using a fork, stir and press the eggplant until you have a chunky puree. If you like smooth eggplant caviar, you can work the puree a little more; my preference is for one that's got an uneven texture. Add the zest, most of the lemon juice, the onion, and the herbs, and season with the piment d'Espelette or cayenne and salt and pepper. Then taste and see if you want to add more of anything or everything.
(At this point, you can press a piece of plastic against the surface of the eggplant caviar and chill it for a few hours. Right before serving, taste and re-season if necessary.)
Fold in the chopped tomatoes, if you like, and transfer to a serving bowl.
MAKES 3½ TO 4 CUPS OR 8 TO 10 SERVINGS
My favorite way to enjoy eggplant caviar is to spread it on wedges of toasted country bread, but it's good on pita or scooped up with crackers, and it makes a great addition to sandwiches—try it with chicken, beef, or grilled vegetables (it's especially delicious with Roasted Peppers,
You can keep the eggplant caviar tightly covered in the refrigerator overnight—make sure to stir any liquid that accumulates back into the puree—but it's really best the day it's made.
Remove the germ from another 1 or 2 garlic cloves and slice them paper-thin. Using a sharp paring knife, poke about 10 slender slashes into each eggplant and work the garlic slivers into them before roasting.
TH ARRONDISSEMENT, PART OF WHICH
is the Latin Quarter, is home to the Sorbonne, the Panthéon, the student bookstores along the boulevard Saint-Michel, and a surprising number of shops offering Greek specialties. But, in fact, Greek pastries, olives, stuffed grape leaves, tuna-filled peppers (
), tarama (or taramasalata), and this fresh cucumber-yogurt mix can be found in most of the outdoor markets in the city, something that surprised me when I first started shopping in Paris.
A yogurt-based blend (thick Greek yogurt is best here) of cucumbers, fresh herbs, lemon juice, garlic, and a little olive oil, tzatziki is a recipe that tastes rich but is actually very low in calories—not that the French would favor it for this reason. Creamy and versatile, it can be used as a dip for crudités, a first layer for tartines (top with thinly sliced radishes and sprinkle with fleur de sel), or a dressing for a tomato salad.
If you're not using Greek yogurt, you'll need to drain the yogurt for about 4 hours.
|2||cups yogurt, preferably Greek (it can be nonfat)|
|1||cup finely cubed seedless cucumber|
|2||tablespoons fresh lemon juice|
|1||tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil|
|2-3||garlic cloves, split, germ removed, and minced|
|2||tablespoons minced fresh dill|
|2||tablespoons minced fresh mint|
|Freshly ground white pepper to taste|
If you're using Greek yogurt, you're good to start mixing; if you're using regular yogurt, you'll need to drain it in order to make it thicker. Line a strainer with a layer of damp cheesecloth, put the strainer over a bowl, spoon in the yogurt, and cover the whole setup with a plate or plastic wrap. Chill for about 4 hours, or for as long as overnight, then gather up the edges of the cheesecloth and squeeze gently to get the last bit of liquid out (discard the liquid that's accumulated in the bowl).
Toss the cucumber into a bowl, sprinkle with about ½ teaspoon salt, stir, and let sit for 30 minutes.
Drain off the liquid in the bowl, put the cucumber in a clean dish towel, and dry it by twisting the cloth and squeezing. Return the cucumber to the bowl and stir in all the remaining ingredients, including the yogurt. Taste for salt and white pepper, and, if you've got the time, chill for a few hours before serving.
MAKES ABOUT 3 CUPS OR 6 TO 8 SERVINGS
Tzatziki should be served cold and simply. While it's often served as a dip for raw vegetables, it's good with crackers, spread on thick toasted country bread, added to a sandwich, spooned over a hamburger, or, dare I suggest it, scooped up with potato chips.
Covered and refrigerated, tzatziki will keep for about 2 days. Stir before serving.
IME WAS, NOT SO LONG AGO,
that if you said "rillettes," it was understood that you were talking about a rich, salty spread made from pork, goose, or duck slowly cooked in its own fat. Nowadays rillettes is just as likely to be piscine as porcine and more than likely to be lighter and less rich. While salmon rillettes (
) is the one you find most often at restaurants and cocktail parties, sardine rillettes is giving it a run for first place.
This rillettes, made in under 10 minutes, is a combination of canned sardines, shallots, herbs, and cream cheese (low-fat, if you'd like). You can use skinless, boneless fillets, but I think you get more flavor if you buy sardines in olive oil, bone them yourself (it takes a second per fish), and leave the skin in place. Obviously the cream cheese is an American stand-in, but it's a very good one. In France you'd use
a soft, smooth, mild cheese that is as common as yogurt and found right next to the yogurt in every supermarket in the country. If you can get it, of course you can use it, but there's no need to go out of your way for it; cream cheese is more than fine.
Rillettes is usually served with small toasts or crackers (it's perfect on Triscuits), and it also lends itself to being used as a filling.
The rillettes should be refrigerated for at least
hours before serving.