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Authors: Dorie Greenspan

Around My French Table (93 page)

BOOK: Around My French Table
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Since fine-quality tapenade is available all over France—you can find it at the Gallic equivalent of the corner deli—few French cooks ever make it themselves. Fortunately for those of us who love it, it's fast and easy enough to make at home with a food processor or blender. This is a basic recipe, one that can be multiplied if you'd like more and one that can be personalized (see Bonne Idée).

¼
pound pitted oil-cured black olives (about ½ cup), chopped
1
anchovy, drained
Grated zest and juice of ¼ lemon
Pinch of rosemary (fresh or dried)
Pinch of thyme (fresh or dried)
Pinch of piment d'Espelette (see Sources
[>]
) or cayenne, or to taste
About 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Put all of the ingredients in a food processor (a mini is good here) or blender and process, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, until the olives are pureed. It's up to you how smooth or chunky you want to make the puree. Check the consistency, and if you'd like it a little thinner, add more oil drop by drop. Taste and add more herbs, hot pepper, or lemon juice, if you want them.

 

MAKES GENEROUS ⅓ CUP

 

SERVING
Use the tapenade as a spread on crackers to go with cocktails or as a condiment, adding a little spoonful whenever you want to give a dish an interesting—and salty—edge.

 

STORING
Kept in a well-sealed jar, the tapenade will hold in the refrigerator for at least 1 week.

 

BONNE IDÉE
If you'd like the tapenade to be a bit saltier, add some capers—rinse and pat them dry before tossing them into the processor. You can replace the black olives with green, and you can also make a tapenade by replacing half the olives with sun-dried tomatoes. Actually, you can replace all the olives with tomatoes—what you get won't truly be tapenade, but it is good. You can also swap orange zest for the lemon (but not orange juice), or use a combination of orange and lemon zest. If you like tapenade, I'm sure that you can find many ways to make your own house blend.

Basil Pesto

D
EPENDING ON WHERE YOU ARE IN FRANCE,
you might see either pesto
or pistou
(very Provençal) on the menu, but no matter the name, the ingredients will be the same: basil, garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan, and olive oil.

As with vinaigrette and other simple sauces, you can have a basic recipe, but what you really need is a willingness to make adjustments so you get the blend you like best.

1-2
garlic cloves (to taste), split, germ removed, and crushed
2
tablespoons pine nuts
2
cups lightly packed fresh basil leaves
Salt
About ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
½
cup freshly grated Parmesan Freshly ground pepper

The best and most authentic way to make pesto is with a mortar and pestle, but you can also make it in a blender or food processor. Start by pounding or whirring the garlic, nuts, and basil leaves with a little salt and a drizzle of oil, just to get things moving. Slowly add up to ½ cup more oil, stirring with the pestle or whirring until it is as thin as you'd like it to be. Stir or pulse in the cheese, taste, and season with salt and pepper.

 

MAKES ABOUT 1 CUP

 

SERVING
Pesto can be a pasta sauce (thin it with a splash of the pasta cooking water); it can be served over tomatoes and/or mozzarella cheese (or, if you'd like, you can stir a little into a vinaigrette and then drizzle it over a salad); and it can be flavoring for a soup (for maximum effect, add the pesto at the table so each person can enjoy that first whiff of garlic and basil).

 

STORING
If you pack the pesto tightly into a jar and pour a thin film of olive oil over the top to keep it from darkening, it can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Stir before using. You can also freeze it for up to 2 months, though it will blacken. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and stir before using.

 

BONNE IDÉE
Herb Coulis.
An herb coulis is lighter than a pesto and purer in flavor, so it's nice swirled into pureed soups or drizzled over steamed vegetables or simply cooked chicken, fish, or beef. Figure on 2 cups fresh herb leaves and ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, and make the coulis as you would pesto. You can use any herb—think cilantro, parsley, arugula (not an herb, but . . .), basil, or dill. Depending on what you'll be serving it with, you might add a little grated lemon or orange zest to the mix at the end.

Mango Chatini

T
HINK OF A CHATINI AS A SALSA
or a chutney, a zesty little something that's eaten over or alongside something else. Part of the cuisine of the island of Mauritius, which was once French, chatini is spicier than traditional French food and nice to have with curries or over rice. This tropical chatini, a mix of mango, ginger, and onion, is both cool and hot and is particularly good with Cardamom Rice Pilaf (
[>]
), Olive-Olive Cornish Hens (
[>]
), or even the already spicy Spice-Crusted Tuna (
[>]
).

Juice of 1 lime
1
teaspoon grated fresh ginger, or to taste
1
large ripe but firm mango, peeled, pitted, and finely diced
1
spring onion, trimmed, quartered lengthwise, and thinly sliced, or 2–3 scallions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
2
teaspoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Pinch of piment d'Espelette (see Sources
[>]
) or cayenne (optional)

Stir the lime juice and ginger together in a small serving bowl. Add the mango, onion, and cilantro and season with salt, pepper, and, if you'd like, a pinch of piment d'Espelette or cayenne.

 

MAKES ABOUT 2 CUPS

 

SERVING
I treat chatini as a condiment, like mustard, and bring it to the table so my guests can take as much or as little as they want.

 

STORING
If you don't add the lime juice and cilantro, you can mix the ingredients together, cover the bowl, and either leave it at room temperature or chill it for a couple of hours. When ready to serve, add the lime juice and cilantro—it's always best to add lime juice just before serving, since the acid in the juice will "cook" tender fruits and herbs.

Mayonnaise

I
MAY SHOCK YOU WHEN I SAY
that bottled mayonnaise is as popular in I France as it is here. And while some of my French foodie friends think it's chic to search out Hellmann's mayonnaise at the specialty boutiques in Paris, I'm always looking for the French brands, which seem to be eggier and closer to real mayonnaise. I reach for the bottled stuff all the time, but when the mayonnaise is going to matter—for instance, when you're using it as a dip for shrimp, making a lobster salad, or serving it with cold asparagus—making your own matters. Happily, preparing mayonnaise is easy, quick (about 10 minutes, start to finish), and rewarding: making an emulsion, which is what mayonnaise is, is akin to alchemy.

You can use any kind of oil you'd like. Many cooks suggest a neutral oil, like grapeseed or canola, thinking that olive oil is too flavorful for mayonnaise, but I like to use a combination of olive and peanut. Whatever you choose, you must have some kind of acid, such as lemon juice or vinegar, or a splash of both.

You can make mayonnaise by hand with a whisk or in a blender or food processor, but no matter how you mix it (or mount it, as the French say for sauces that are made by slowly adding oil or butter), you should have your egg yolk at room temperature, ditto your oil, and you should add the oil literally drop by drop until about half of it is in and you can see that you've got a nice emulsion. After that, slow and steady are the bywords.

If you make this recipe with ½ cup oil, you'll have a very thick, flavorful mayonnaise. Taste it and decide what you want to do—you can add up to about ½ cup more oil without compromising the mix.

1
large egg yolk, preferably organic, at room temperature
About 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice or wine vinegar, or a combination
¼
teaspoon Dijon mustard, or more to taste
Salt
½-1
cup oil, mild (such as grapeseed or canola) or more flavorful (such as peanut, corn, or olive), or a combination
Freshly ground pepper

Put the yolk, 2 teaspoons lemon juice and/or vinegar, and the mustard in a bowl (or a blender or food processor), add some salt, and whisk (or whir) to blend. Drop by drop—really—start adding the oil, whisking (or whirring) all the while. When you've got about ¼ cup oil beaten in and the mix is starting to look like mayonnaise (this usually takes 4 minutes or so), you can add the remaining oil more steadily, but still slowly. Use at least ½ cup oil, and up to about 1 cup, adding as much as you need to get the consistency you want. Taste and add pepper and more salt, if you'd like. If you'd like it a little more piquant, add a smidge more mustard or a few more drops of lemon juice or vinegar.

 

MAKES ½ TO 1 CUP

 

SERVING
Use your luxurious homemade mayonnaise just as you would mayo from a jar, but put it in a prettier dish—it deserves a little special treatment.

 

STORING
The basic mayonnaise will keep for a day or two, but anything made with fresh garlic is best used the day it is made.

 

BONNE IDÉES
Because its flavor is so pure and basic, mayonnaise lends itself to variation. You can add herbs or spices, capers or cornichons, chile peppers (I love adding a bit of canned chipotle chile and its adobo), or even ketchup, for a great Russian dressing. To get you started, here are a few French classics.

 

Aïoli (Garlic Mayonnaise).
Peel, split, and remove the germ from 1 to 6 garlic cloves. Crush and very finely mince the garlic, or push it through a press. Add the mashed garlic to the yolk, and carry on. The best and most authentic way to make aïoli, though, is with a mortar and pestle: Crush the garlic with some salt in the mortar, then add the yolk and continue. Because aïoli is from the South of France—it's most prized in Provence—olive oil, a staple of the region, should be your oil of choice for this mayonnaise.

 

Roasted Garlic Mayonnaise.
Instead of pungent fresh garlic, use a few cloves of soft, sweet roasted garlic.

 

Rouille.
There are many recipes for rouille, some calling for a bit of boiled potato to be beaten into the mayonnaise (this is also sometimes done for aïoli), others calling for roasted red pepper. What is important in a rouille is the garlic flavor and the color, which should be rust, or
rouille.
For a simple, flavorful rouille, make aïoli and whisk in a pinch of saffron threads and, if you'd like, some red pepper flakes or a little minced roasted red pepper.

Crème Fraîche

C
RÈME FRAÎCHE IS LIKE OUR SOUR CREAM,
but a bit more versatile, since it can be heated without separating and can also be whipped, like heavy cream. While you can now find crème fraîche in many American markets, it's not always available, so it's nice to know you can make it yourself.

BE PREPARED:
You'll need 2 days to turn regular cream into crème fraîche.

1
cup heavy cream
1
tablespoon buttermilk or plain yogurt

Put the cream and buttermilk or yogurt in a clean jar with a tight-fitting lid, cover the jar, and shake vigorously for a minute or so. Put the jar on the counter and leave it for 12 to 24 hours, or until the cream thickens slightly. How long this will take depends on how warm your room is—the warmer the room, the quicker the thickening.

When the cream is thick, transfer the jar to the refrigerator and let it chill for I day before you dip into it.

 

MAKES 1 CUP

 

STORING
You can keep crème fraîche in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks, but know that the longer you keep it, the tangier it becomes.

Poached Eggs

P
OACHED EGGS ARE BOTH ELEGANT AND EASY.
And, as much as they seem like something that must be done at the very last minute—how else can the yolks be so lusciously runny?—that's not the case at all: you can poach the eggs up to a couple of days ahead and reheat them right before serving.

Distilled white vinegar
Very fresh large eggs, preferably organic

Have a large bowl of cold water and ice cubes near the stove if you won't be serving the eggs immediately or a bowl of hot water if you'll be cooking more than 3 eggs and will need to hold the first round of eggs for a short time while you finish the batch. Also have a perforated skimmer, a flexible fish turner, or a large slotted spatula at hand.

Fill a large skillet with about 2 inches of water and bring to a boil. Add 1 teaspoon vinegar—this helps the whites congeal—and lower the heat so the water barely simmers.

Break an egg into a cup or ramekin. If you'd like perfectly round poached eggs, you can use egg rings or poached-egg spoons (perforated gadgets that hold the eggs in shape), or you can place a pancake ring, the ring of a canning jar, or a tuna can (remove both ends and wash well) in the skillet and tip the egg into the ring. Hold the cup as close to the surface of the water as you can and tip the egg into the skillet. Immediately set the timer for 3 minutes. If you're making more than 1 egg, add the other eggs to the skillet one at a time, but take care not to crowd the pan—I usually make no more than 3 eggs at a time. If you're not using rings, don't be concerned if the whites feather out in all directions—you can trim them later. If the yolks are popping up above the surface of the water, baste them a couple of times.

BOOK: Around My French Table
5.81Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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