Sunday, August 15, 2010

Bon Appetit!

This has been the summer of salad nicoise. It all began with watching early episodes of "The French Chef," which you can get on Netflix. The first DVD has footage of Julia in France at the farmer's market in Nice, buying gigantic capers and tiny Nicoise olives for salad nicoise. That and the bouillabaisse episodes are well worth the rental!

So, we have come up with our own version of the famous salad, see above. No hard-boiled eggs or anchovies. We get the potatoes and green beans from our own farmer's market, and the tuna is marinated ahi from Trader Joe's. Dressed with my version of Julia's basic vinaigrette (half olive oil, half lemon juice, a touch of mustard, no vinegar), this salad is ooh la la!

I also attempted to make an authentic pain d'epices (literally, "spice bread") from a Julia recipe. I was inspired to do this after reading MFK Fisher's reminiscences of Dijon. I was there in the late 1980s, and pain d'epices was everywhere. The recipe turned out to have wonderful flavor but the weight of a fruitcake, or a brick. You could use it for a doorstop. Plus, the top, which initially rose to a glorious height, subsequently caved in (I hate it when that happens!) So, my search for a more congenial recipe continues.

Some people think we live way out in the boonies, but the truth is that Vons, with its excellent organic produce section, is 10 minutes away; there are two farmers' markets every week; and we have our choice of two Trader Joe's, in Palm Springs or Palm Desert. So it is easy to eat well. This is one of our favorite dishes, lamb in charmoula sauce, which is full of fresh herbs, paprika, and other spices. Yum yum!

PS: I'm on a quest for some delicious vegetarian main dish recipes. If you have favorites, please pass them on!