Tuesday, June 16, 2009
South of France-inspired brunch
It's been nearly ten years since I stepped foot in the south of France, but the tastes still linger in my culinary memory: aromatic olives, sun-kissed red tomatoes bursting with juice, the hint of lavender in Herbes de Provence.
As much as I'd love to hop on a place to take a stroll on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice right now, this bun in the oven is keeping my feet on the ground for now, so what better way to honour the foods of France than to recreate some of those flavours in my own kitchen?
I served the following menu at a brunch for some friends:
Tarte tatin a la tomate, a savoury upside-down tart of oven-roasted tomatoes, a layer of olive tapenade, goat cheese accented with Herbes de Provences, and a buttery pastry dough. If you are looking for one show-stopping tart, this is it. Prepare to take a bite and be transported to the Mediterranean climes of the south of France. Recipe courtesy Chocolate & Zucchini's Clotilde Dusoulier
Mini croque-monsieur, otherwise known as "a fancy French ham and cheese sandwich" as one friend put it, topped with a bechamel sauce and melting Gruyere. Recipe adapted from Ina Garten
An array of croissants and Bonne Maman jams
Pistachio and chorizo cake, a savoury loaf cake brought to life with slivers of sun-dried tomatoes, Spanish sausage, and crunchy pistachioes in a dense but moist and flavourful batter that takes minutes to whip up. Irresistible when fresh out of the oven, and even more tasty warmed up the day after with a layer of butter. Recipe also from Chocolate & Zucchini, by way of blogger David Lebovitz
Manchego, Oka, and Cantenaar cheeses
Heirloom tomato carpaccio, which involved slicing these tomatoes very thin, drizzling them with organic balsamic vinegar, olive oil, freshly ground pepper, and citrus sea salt, and adding basil and toasted pine nuts (click on the first photo in this post to get a closer look - the variety of colours is astounding
For dessert, I strayed from the theme - and the region, I must admit. I served fresh berries and Mexican snowballs. These are balls of vanilla ice cream that I froze, and then rolled in toasted flaked coconut and cinnamon. So easy, and yet so impressive. I will be making these Mexican snowballs time and time again. Recipe courtesy Martha Stewart's "Everyday Food" book