Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Saving savory



Friends, it is supposed to reach 98° F here today (that is 36.6 for you Celsius folks) and I am just this shy of filling up a sippy cup with rosé, stringing it around my neck and calling it a day. I strolled the aisles of the supermarché this morning for an extra long while just to suck in as much air-conditioning as possible and I could tell that I wasn't exactly the only lolly-gagger either.

So, like many of you, I have been avoiding the oven as if Todd Akin was hiding in it (actually if he were I might be tempted to turn it on--oops, did I write that?). Happily this time of year, the simplest ingredients make for fine meals. This Greek salad's presentation was inspired by the amazing "Jiro Dreams of Sushi". Sigh. I want to be an 85-year-old sushi master, don't you?


But there is nothing innovative in slicing and dicing. I did come up with a new spread as an alternative to hummus however, using some of the same ingredients in a moment of utter desperation as Remi pushed back lunch "for just a bit later" yet again. In to the food processor, or robot as they are called here, went some sun-dried tomatoes in their oil (about five), along with half a container of feta, a handful of sardines and some freshly squeezed lemon juice. I know, it sounds odd but it certainly was interesting, especially if you have a few leaves of peppery black basil to throw in as well as crunchy bread to smooth it on. Non?


But last night, after I had sheepishly suggested "Gazpacho?" for dinner for the fifth time this week and was met with a raised eyebrow, I high tailed it into the hot zone once and for all and did a fishy Asian take on steak frites. I know that quite a few of you like to cook and are no strangers to spice-crusted salmon. My version involved cumin, paprika, curcuma, chipolte and an especially American mix called "smokehouse maple" that was brought back from the States. I baked the filets on low heat and then made a little crumble (it is in fashion to call everything a crumble in France these days) for the top with diced almonds, more chipolte powder and soy sauce that I also drizzled lightly on the salmon. For the "fries", I steamed haricots jaunes then sautéed them in sesame oil and fish sauce along with a shallot and a bit of spring onion with sprinkled flaxseed on the lot. The "ketchup" was a bit of tomato purée with more soy sauce, lime juice and a splash of tabasco. Voila! 


and just because it is so catchy:



So tell me, what do you have cookin'?





44 comments:

Dash said...

Greek yoghurt, Cucumbers and Roquefort makes a tasty dip too, I have also been spending a considerable amount of time in the supermarket, sucking up the air con. It's a bit cooler here now, I hope is spreads your way soon.
XXX

I Dream Of said...

Heather, you should get a medal for turning on the stove in that hot, hot heat. I'm trying to think of something tonight for Mr. H and I to eat at different times because we're going to be ships passing during dinner tonight. I think some variation on a Greek salad moment might just be in order. Do you know the "Platter of Figs" cook book? David Tanis has the perfect "Too Darn Hot, Alors" menu and it doesn't include gazpacho. Hope you are keeping your cool, and I wouldn't judge you if you did do the sippy cup of rosé thingy!
XOXO

Lost in Provence said...

Ah, diet food! :) But it does sound crazy good...

Lost in Provence said...

Then I raise my glass of Coteaux d'Aix towards the West, Jeanne! And I don't know that cookbook and will look into it, merci. I was just given "Plenty" by Yotam Ottolenghi and it is amazing. If you don't know of it, it is definitely worth a look-see. :)

kabayoz said...

...what's you got cooking? Heather, that was a fine spread for a low oven on a hot day. It would have been the sippy cup for me, hands down!

And on the political front here in the U.S., the Show Me State should show Akin out the door. Is he for real? Still trying to figure out where he came up with some of his facts or fiction.

Suze said...

'So, like many of you, I have been avoiding the oven as if Todd Akin was hiding in it'

HA!

Erm, can I PLEASE come over to your place to eat ... ?

Lost in Provence said...

Amelia, I can't even say more about him, I am really far, far too aghast!

Lost in Provence said...

When you want Suze. :)

Angela said...

I am so missing the heat......I'm in the UK where its damp and rainy! Made me laugh about the supermarket, I used to go and wander around for hours in the heat of the day!! And I love Hank Williams! Haven't been doing much cooking, as not very inspired by the soggy veg here, but have perfected my bread making! Another friend in Uzes said she was living on Gazpacho, there's a reason why its so good when its hot......also loved to make pistou soup, so simple but good, eventhough it's hot.....

Leslie said...

Heather,

Sardines and anchovies are filled with all those healthy oils and they taste good too! Your spread sounds delicious.. and I adore Feta. Wine is a must while preparing a meal like this!

Stay cool :)
Cheers,
Leslie

Patou said...

Love it - like the rose' around the neck idea...
Yes, Todd, keep talking, Babe...we love it...

Patty

Loree said...

The recipes sound so delicious. I too have been a very lazy cook lately. The heat just makes me want to run out of the kitchen. I could survive on bread, tomatoes, olive oil and fruit.

Natalie said...

Looks heavenly delicious but still cooking a hot meal on a hot day sounds like a courageous labour of love. If only Remi didn't raised eyebrow...Baked, steamed, sauteed and Voila! This worth much more than a serenade and the next heroic cooking is on gentleman?

I'll try to make your feta/tomato spread.
Heather please visit my blog for desserts.

pokie said...

Your spread sounds divine, I'll have to try it. Just had tomatoes, feta, cucumber, olives, oregano and avacado, tossed with evoo and vinegar, yum. Perhaps they need to keep Aikin running in order to let people see the real side of that party...

carolyn bradford said...

Heather…this looks amazing! I really think I'm making this tomorrow night when my parents come over! Thanks so much for posting this! And yes, that song is very catchy! It will be stuck in my head all night now! LOL! Hope you are doing well!

robin said...

YUM! I wish you had invented the sun-dried tomato spread when I was there (you know how I love them..)! And the salmon-with-crumble and haricots jaunes look mighty tasty, too. What did I have cookin' tonight? My favorite Amy's frozen pizza - the one with cornmeal crust and goat cheese, and for dessert, my famous oatmeal peanut butter cookies with chocolate and peanut butter chips!

Sara Louise said...

My last few grocery trips were extra long ones as well. It feels to damn good in there to hurry.
Last night I managed to make a risotto. It felt like I too was cooking as I stood at the stove stirring for an hour (I'm a moron).
But good news... the temps are supposed to come down a bit this weekend!!! :)

Elizabeth Minchilli said...

So funny! I've got one of those European husbands too. No way could I get away with Gazpacho more than once a month. I love that maple spice rub for salmon. My friend Sienna brought me back some from Seattle, and it's amazing!!

Lost in Provence said...

Trust me Angela--you do NOT want to be here right now!! And how wonderful to make your own bread. With a bakery across the street I am too lazy to do so!

Lost in Provence said...

Yep, they call sardines the perfect food--I figure that it is good for my noggin'. :)

Lost in Provence said...

Ooh, I think I am behind on your blog, Natalie! And there are Paris pictures!!!

And really, Remi does MOST of the dinners so I really can't complain. :)

Lost in Provence said...

Ooh, I hope that you like it Carolyn and your folks too!

Lost in Provence said...

I like to use it for duck too. :)

david terry said...

Hey Heather,

Oddly enough, the weather here (North Carolina) this summer hs not only been completely unremarkable in terms of the temperature (this is, after all, August), but it's also (in the midst of a drought which seems to be gripping 90% of the country) been extraordinarily wet......big rainstorms every four days or so. I haven't had to water anything, all summer long, except for two ferns under the porch roof.

As for Summer cooking? You need to avail yourself of Patricia Wells's very fine, recent book "Salad as a Meal" and Elizabeth Davied's classic "Summer Cooking" (it doesn't have pictures, which upsets some people, but both yours and my households are ones in which we can make plenty of our own pictures, thank you...).

I entertain just as regularly in the Summer (although I tend to switch to lunches, rather than sit-down dinners). Summer standards here include poached chicken in a chaud/froid sauce (it's SIMPLE...and can be done in steps over two days...and it can serve as a room-temperature, one-dish meal if you pick up some good bread). Julia Child's recipe in the second volume of "French Cooking" is the most helpful.

As an alternative to gazpacho, we rely on cold, "white" garlic soup.....a spanish soup for which there are multiple recipes on the internet. Since you access to good sherry vinegar, you're in luck.

My all-time favorite summer-dish is Patricia Wells' (once again....can you tell I love this woman's books?)lentil and walnut salad, which is a completely meal if you serve it on lettuce, with some grilled tuna if you're still feeling hungry or remarkably carnivorous. that said, it's perfect for vegetarians and simply folks who don't want a HEAVY meal.

Bascially (and you can adjust the proportions to suit your tastes), it requires lentiles de Puy and walnuts. The "secret" is so simple....but I certainly would never have thought of the combination. Mix your cooked-lentils with chopped walnuts, capers, and a lot of fresh mint (does anyone still bother with the dried stuff?).....then make a dressing of lemon-juice and GOOD walnut oil (salt and pepper, of course). As ever, it's one of those bascially simple combinations that does, however, depend on your having access to the best ingredients (the wlanut oil is tricky, here in America, but you should have no problem).

That's all,

David Terry
www.davidterryart.com

I can eat this stuff every day.....and sort of do, during this time of year.

Lost in Provence said...

Thank you for the ideas, Chef David (which somehow sounds better than Chef Terry). You have mentioned that garlic soup at some point in the past and as garlic is most likely my very favorite ingredient (narrowly beating out melted butter), one that I can eat raw like bonbons, I will have to give it a go.

Alas, Mr. Remi will eat just about anything save for capers, so I will also give the wonderfully easy sounding lentil salad a try without. Yes, I know it won't be the same but it still sounds excellent. And yes, I have access to excellent oils (including a pungent Thai Wok Oil with lemongrass that is tricky business) but don't you at Whole Foods?

Speaking of the easy factor, I cannot make the point to you clearly enough what a very lazy cook that I am. So the poached chicken is out. Unless I somehow manage to visit and you serve it at your house!

Wishing you a day full of...good things,
Heather

PS. Whenever we go to Vaison la Romaine, part of me is on a hopeful hunt for seeing Patricia Wells ...

LA CONTESSA said...

I just made a chicken breast with a tuna sauce!To be served cold!I also, made carrots with dried apricots........they get better as days pass!Sounds like your a DEEVINE.........cook!I hope the weather cools down for you all............xoxo

Lost in Provence said...

Oh no...I am a lazy, lazy, lazy cook! Completely unlike you and Giampy!! All I do is throw good stuff together add spices and hope for the best. :)

Tabitha said...

A sippy cup with rose? Strap it on please!
Luckily we have three inherited houses here that I can use, all went through the male line alas, but sigh yeah at least at the moment I get a week or two here - more sighs but it still sticks in my craw.

Lost in Provence said...

As it would mine, Tabitha, as it would mine...

Jackie and Joel Smith said...

I am taken with the idea of that rose. . .out here in the Western US with all the outdoorsy folks we have around, there are any number of reusable water bottles that attach to belts or straps or pockets. Silly me! I've never thought beyond water as a beverage but you've given me another idea! Stay cool if possible.

david terry said...

P.S. Heather, if Remi hates capers....substitute tiny chunks of preserved lemon (you do know how to make this, don't you...it's SIMPLE).

I'm pretty sure that a man named "Remi Benali" has made the acquaintance of a preserved lemon in his lifetime.

---david terry

helen tilston said...

I love the salad dish you featured. We grill on our balcony and then dine in our air-conditioned dining room. Lots of salad and grilled salmon or chicken. I had grilled sardines yesterday which were delicious.

I enjoyed reading David Terry's suggestions, he clearly is an expert cook.

Helen xx

BigLittleWolf said...

This all looks and sounds divine.

What was cooking around here? To my surprise, peach pie (peaches & nectarines & cream, to be exact). Quelle surprise - my son made it!

Not too sweet, gorgeous to look at. Delish.

vicki archer said...

In answer to your question... Absolutely nothing!! Just kidding... I wish... and I am about to rev my cuisine making mood up for this coming weekend...
I did make a good pasta last night... easy... too hot to be anything else but easy... loads of diced chilli, fresh ripened tomatoes, fresh garlic, rocket and grated parmesan into the olive oil... toss in the pasta... Quite delish if I say so myself! xv

Lost in Provence said...

That would be a correct assumption, Chef David. And as I am lazy (do you notice how I keep repeating that?) I will simply go out and BUY citron confit rather than make it. :) As I love lemon and lentils and nuts and mint, well, I think it is safe to say that I will be addicted to this salad. Merci...

Lost in Provence said...

If I ever do get David over here, I am afraid I will wrangle him into the kitchen! Not very hospitable to admit but true!

And I was just saying to Remi that the ONE thing that I miss most about no longer having a BBQ is making grilled sardines. Whew. So simple and so good. No wonder they call it the "perfect food"!

Lost in Provence said...

Holy cow, you raised him right now, didn't you? :)

Lost in Provence said...

I made nearly the same for myself last night! Although I need to see what kind of chillies you use. I can never find the right ones at the market--they are either too bland or they burn my tongue off (and I am not afraid of a little heat).

Anywho, "great minds"...have a great weekend!

david terry said...

Well, thanks, Helen....but I've got to say that I'm not really an "expert cook"....or at least I don't think I know very much (an opinion doubtlessly affected by my being good friends with four James Beard award-winning chefs and cookbook writers). 3 of my other close, longtime friends own very succesful, renowned, and innovative restaurants.

When folks learn where I grew up, they invariably exclaim "Oh....how lucky! You must have had all the WONDERFUL SOUTHERN COOKING!". I tell them that no one in my family knows how to cook at all....certainly not any of the women. My brothers have both, in a self-defensive manner, learned how to grill, but even then they have a markedly limited repetoire....mostly consisting of what their young sons will agree to eat.

The fact is.....my great-grandmother, grandmother and great aunts grew up with SOMEONE else working in the kitchen. I think each of the girls (as was the case for my mother in the late fifties) learned how to make one or two fancy little desserts, which they made only when a potential marriage-prospect visited. A great fuss would, for the suitor's benefit, be made over this display of Supreme Domestic Accomplishment....although it was corporately assumed that no man was a genuine marriage prospect unless he would be able to hire a cook for the household. The LAST man any of them would marry would be a man who knew how to cook.

All of my female relatives (spanning three generations) have made it basically clear that The Men are the ones who lost The War (you can guess which one they're still referring to), so The Men can be the ones who go back into that servant-less kitchen and get cracking.

Moreover?...my grandmother (who scandalously, for that time, divorced at age 26) happily spent the next 25 years as the matron of a very pleasant (truly) private orphanage. Hence, she ate institutional food for the rest of her life. My father AND my mother (who was a genuine orphan...unlike my father, who merely lived in the orphanage with his mother) spent their entire childhood and adolescence eating in the orphanage's dining-hall, without ever setting foot in a kitchen....not even a single time.

My mother was adopted, at age 13, by a very wealthy family....chauffeur, butler, two maids, housekeepeer, AND a cook, etcetera. So, for the next seven years, she never went into a kitchen. I think she learned how to "make" shrimp-cocktail (six shrimp arranged around a little bowl of bottled "shrimp cocktail sauce", with a garnish of celery and a lemon wedge.....the height of elegance in 1958).

When my parents married at age 22, neither of them knew a SINGLE thing about cooking. Nor did my grandmother (who soon came to live with them). I do not exagerrate (nor spell very well, either). Bascially, you might as well have had three toddlers in a kitchen.

My father entered the air force right after marrying, and they found themselves on an airforce base in Biloxi, Mississippi. That first week, my mother thought of making "spaghetti". She poured a couple of cans of tomato sauce in a pan, broke a bunch of uncooked, dried pasta into the sauce, added raw hamburger, and boiled it for an hour. I've gathered that it was predictably dreadful.

According to both my parents, my mother simply adopted the habit of taking her two boys (we were born a year after the marriage) in our strollers down to the docks each morning...where you could buy oysters, crabs, and shrimp for FIFTY CENTS A BUCKET (once again, no kidding). She managed to conquer the intricacies of boiling shellfish.....and that's what we were almost exclusively raised-on, along with carrot sticks, apples, and whatever the bread-lady (there still was one back then...walking house-to-house every morning with deliveries) was making/selling....(to be continued)


david terry said...

Eventually, mymother graduated to the hamburger-helper, frozen "vegetable medley" (we all loved that stuff) and shake-'n-bake level of cooking....but, then, microwaves came along in the 70's, so even those were abandoned. She hasn't looked back since then and remains utterly indifferent to food (which probably goes a long way towards explaining why she's weighed between 98 and 115 pounds her entire, married life).

Like a lot of other folks, I learned to cook whle taking a Ph.d. in literature (as you might know, this sort of degree generally entails waiting on a lot of tables in a lot of restaurants for a lot of years).

Well, enough of this....suffice it to say that I don't regard myself as an expert cook. I do happen to read fairly decently, and I'm reasonably adept at following instructions.

Level Best as Ever,

David Terry
www.davidterryart.com

Ann Mah said...

Here's another vote for the rosé sippy cup! I just got home from a week-long trip and am gazing at your beautiful sundried-tomato/sardine/feta spread with longing. That salty tang is exactly what my jetlagged body craves right now. Yum!

david terry said...

Hey Heather...just wondering, but I've always assumed that Remi was of Tunisian or Libyan extraction (so to speak..and I should emphasize that my expereience isn't based utterly-completely on having seen "The English Patient" 14 years ago...)? Is this true?

---david

Lost in Provence said...

David, I haven't been able to respond to your fantastic comments from this morning yet and am running out the door but this too made me smile. No, Remi is not at all linked with the former Tunisian dictator (as he likes to joke "I am the Benali without the gold") but is half French (with Dutch ancestors too), half Moroccan. He has some amazing stories in his family.

david terry said...

Oh...Moroccan.

Did I ever tell you that Herve(who looks EXACTLY like most American's notion of a Frenchman...or at least they say this on a regular basis) is scarcely "French" (at least by La Pen "France for the French!" standards) at all? All of his grandparents and both his parents were born and raised in France, but his great grandparents were all Russian and Irish political-exiles who landed in 1920's Paris. Wait...he has one purely Gallic great-grandmother....so he's 1/8th "French". As for shady connections?....I've just discovered that my godmother's sister (both women were raised in ill-gotten, extreme luxury in Haiti prior to the Duvalier's coup) was married (she's been a widow for ten years) to Bashir al Assad's close friend and first cousin.....no wonder she shortened her married name to merely "Assad". Nice lady,though.....