Wednesday, September 17, 2014

It's so very French

I love the cooking show, "French Food at Home".  Watching it makes me feel sophisticated, chic and oh so in a word: French.  I am seduced by the simple recipes and how everything seems to go well with a glass of wine or even champagne.   The host of the show, Laura Calder explains how to elegantly present basic meals, small bites and desserts in her funny French Canadian accent.  The set is a quaint little cottage.  The show's image is that of an effortless chic I can only dream about.
Because I still have lots of tomatoes to devour before the fruit flies get to them first, I made two recipes that would surely win a spot on my new favorite guilty pleasure list.  The first from Peter Rabbit's Natural Foods Cookbook.  Yes, the very one that Val gave to me when I was about 9 years old.  Duchess and Ribby's Tomato and Cheese Pie (the cat and dog from their starring roles in "The Pie and the Patty Pan" by Beatrix Potter)  is quintessentially English but I think would translate well to an afternoon picnic in Provence especially if served with a slightly chilled Beaujolais Nouveau .

The second from the cook book of my dreams: "Tartine" by Chad Robertson. This recipe for Tomatoes Provencal would go nicely at the picnic as well for obvious reasons.

Since I am on Cape Cod instead of in the south of France, I'm determined to make the best of it. A leisurely lunch on my deck overlooking my wild and woolly garden I have decided is better than being to far away from home, anyway.

Duchess and Ribby's Tomato Cheese Pie
(serves 6)

4 slices stale bread
2 medium tomatoes
one handful of fresh basil leaves
1 1/2 cups grated cheddar
2 eggs
1 cup milk
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon pepper
3 dashes hot sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a pie plate or 8x8 baking pan.
Tear the bread into small pieces and place them in pan.  Slice the tomatoes into small pieces and arrange them over the bread.  Tear the basil into small pieces and arrange over the tomatoes.  Sprinkle the cheese over the basil.  Beat the egg and combine with the milk, salt, pepper and hot sauce.  Pour mixture evenly over the cheese.  Place pan on a rimmed baking sheet and put into the oven to bake for 35-40 minutes until browned and bubbly.  Remove from oven and cool.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Tomatoes Provencal adapted from "Tartine" by Chad Robertson
(Serves 4 to 6)

4 medium-large ripe tomatoes, or use whatever size you have
olive oil
for bread crumbs:
2 slices day old bread
1 tablespoon herbes de Provence
grated zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil

Preheat oven to 475 degrees.  Slice tomatoes crosswise and arrange on a baking sheet, cut side up.  Spoon olive oil ( I use a squeeze bottle) onto each tomato half and season with salt.  Bake until the tops start to slightly carmelize, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, make bread crumbs.  Place the  bread in a food processor and pulse to fine crumbs. Add the herbs, lemon zest, Parmesan and olive oil and pulse to combine.

Remove tomatoes from oven and spoon bread crumb mixture onto the tomato halves.  Bake until the crumbs are toasted and browned, about 15 minutes.  Serve warm.

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