dimanche 27 mai 2007

Greek Pasta Salad

The end of May is my favourite time of the year. The marchés become more vibrant in colour as fruits and vegetables start to come into season. Cherries make an appearance. It stays light until about 9:30 at night. It is when the tennis Grand Slam ‘Roland Garros’ (French Open) is played in Paris. I usually have a house full of tennis mad guests. We spend hours watching, talking and playing tennis, touring the city and enjoying late evening dinners.

This is my favourite pasta salad. I make it to take to Roland Garros, on picnics, for the cottage and on road trips. It can be made a day ahead and stored in the refrigerator.

Greek Pasta Salad
Serves 4 - 6

1 L (4 cups) farfalle*
125 mL (½ cup) cucumber, seeded and diced
250 mL (1 cup) cherry tomatoes
½ small red onion, chopped
125 mL (½ cup) Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
60 mL (¼ cup) fresh parsley, chopped (optional)
125 mL (½ cup) feta cheese, crumbled

60 mL (¼ cup) extra virgin olive oil
45 mL (3 Tbsp) lemon juice
5 mL (1 tsp) anchovy paste
1 clove garlic, minced
2.5 mL (½ tsp) dried oregano
Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Combine all ingredients in a jar with tightly fitting lid. Shake well to blend.

Cook farfalle (following directions on pasta package) until al dente); drain well. Place in a serving bowl and toss with half of the dressing. Let cool to room temperature.

Add cucumber, tomatoes, onion; olives, parsley and feta to the pasta and toss well with dressing.

*bowtie or butterfly shaped pasta

dimanche 20 mai 2007

Bœuf Bourguignon

April was a beautiful warm and sunny month in Paris but in May we have returned to the more typical grey, cool and rainy weather. Thoughts of barbecues and picnics have disappeared as we are bundling up and thoughts of comfort food have come to mind. This prompted me to make a Bœuf Bourguignon (a robust beef stew made with onions, carrots and red Burgundy wine).

This is one of the two most famous dishes of the Bourgogne (Burgundy) region in eastern-central France. The other is Escargots de Bourgogne (snails with garlic parsley butter). I love them both.

Traditional recipes for Bœuf Bourguignon call for the meat to be marinated for at least 12 hours before cooking. The following recipe does not require the meat to be marinated and takes about 30 minutes to prepare and 3 hours of simmering on the stovetop.

Bœuf Bourguignon
Serves 6

30 g (2 Tbsp) butter
30 mL (2 Tbsp) oil
4 carrots, peeled and cut into rounds
2 large onions, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
200 g (7 oz) smoked bacon, chopped
1.5 kg (3 lb) stewing beef, cut into 5 cm (2”) cubes
30 mL (2 Tbsp) flour (optional)
40 cL (1-3/4 cups) hot water
2 chicken stock cubes
75 cL (25 oz) red burgundy wine
45 mL (3 Tbsp) tomato coulis or 2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and crushed
2 bay leaves
2 thyme branches
12 small white onions, whole, peeled
200 g (7 oz) white mushrooms, sliced (optional)
6 branches of flat parsley, chopped
Pepper and salt, freshly ground

In a large casserole, heat the butter and oil, add the chopped onions, garlic, bacon and carrots. Cook for 10 min. until onions are tender and golden. Remove and set aside.
Add beef cubes to the casserole; brown on all sides. Shake the flour over and mix well. Return carrots, bacon, onions and garlic to the pan. Add hot water, bay leaves, stock cubes, thyme, tomatoes, salt, pepper and wine; mix well. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to minimum and simmer for 3 hours. Approx. 30 min. before the end of cooking time, add the small onions and mushrooms, if using.
Remove the beef and vegetables to a serving bowl. Reduce the sauce and add to the serving dish. Garnish with chopped parsley.

Serve with a Bourgogne rouge (red wine from the Burgundy).

lundi 14 mai 2007

L'heure d'apéritif

L’heure d’apéritif is the favourite time of day chez Jan. A little something to nosh on served with a glass of wine or a kir while waiting for dinner. The kir of choice is a ‘violette’ – made with Chateau Beauferan’s Crèmeux du Vigneron aromatise à la violette and white wine this produces a lovely pale purple coloured drink. On special occasions, champagne is served.

Typical pre-dinner snacks include:
Slices of horseradish (radis noirs) topped with tarama, caviar and a sprinkling of dill
Tarama served as a dip for radishes
Vietnamese ravioli (ravioli vietnamienne) from DZ Trateur Asiatique on rue Cler or La Grande Epicerie served with a homemade dip of soy sauce, freshly grated ginger and sesame oil
Smoked salmon served with slices of shallots and capers
A selection of olives and sunblushed tomatoes (tomates confits)
Olive tapanade served on tomato or cucumber slices
Homemade tzatziki (refer to Blog posting 18Feb07) served with toasted pita wedges

Visit the friendly vendors on Thursday and Saturday mornings at:
Marché de Saxe / Breteuil
Av. de Saxe, 75007 Paris

Chateau Beauferan is one of the Vignerons Indépendents and are present at the Salon des Vins des Vignerons Indépendants de Paris in the spring and fall.

Chateau Beauferan
870 Chemin de la Degaye
13880 VELAUX
Tél : 04 42 74 73 94
E-mail : château.beauferan@wanadoo.fr
A small selection of Chateau Beauferan's wines are now available in Ontario at LCBO stores and from Arthur Sellers http://www.arthursellers.com/Wineries.asp

lundi 7 mai 2007

Mediterranean Salad

Tomatoes and basil – was there ever a more perfect match? Nothing says summer more than this combination. It is still too early for tomatoes that really taste like tomatoes but basil is becoming more plentiful and flavourful.

The dressing for this salad can be replaced with pesto by adding parmesan cheese and omitting the lemon juice and sun-blushed tomatoes.

Mediterranean Tomato Salad
Serves 4-5

4 ripe tomatoes, sliced
50 mL (1/4 cup) fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
50 mL (1/4 cup) olive oil
20 mL (4 tsp) pine nuts, lightly toasted
10 mL (2 tsp) sun-blushed tomatoes, drained and chopped
1 clove garlic
30 mL (2 Tbsp) lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper

Basil leaves
Pine nuts, chopped

Arrange tomatoes on serving plates.
Process the basil, garlic, pine nuts, sun-blushed tomato and oil in a food processor fitted with a metal blade about 30 seconds. Add lemon juice and pepper, process for 10 seconds or until well blended.
Pour over the tomatoes. Garnish with basil leaves and pine nuts.