dimanche 21 septembre 2008

Tarte aux tomates

This weekend I decided to make a Tarte aux tomates (tomato pie).  To keep it easy and quick, I used store bought puff pastry.  While I have made my own puff pastry, it does take time and effort to go through the many steps to incorporate the butter to make the flaky layers.  

I rolled out the pastry into my quiche pan and brushed it with Dijon mustard, then added a layer of thinly sliced tomatoes and chèvre.  Topped it off with chopped fresh basil leaves and popped it into the preheated oven (200°C / 400°F) for 30 minutes.  

Ready for the oven: 

Out of the oven and ready to be served:

lundi 15 septembre 2008

Clam Chowder

Clam chowder is one of my favourite soups.  My preference has always been for New England style with cream over Manhattan style with tomatoes.  I have read recently that there is also a clear version of chowder made with broth that I hope to try out one day.

In Canada, I made Clam Chowder with tiny canned clams but in Paris, I bought clams on the shell and steamed them open before adding to the chowder.    In Luxembourg, I found cans of palourds, the larger clams, at the grocery store so decided to give them a try.  

A plate of "palourds et crevettes" from Normandy cooked and garnished with a lemon slice in a tasty starter course.   

Clam Chowder

Serves 2

1 slice of smoked bacon
1 small onion, chopped
1 carrot, diced
250 g (1/2 lb) potatoes, thinly sliced or diced
15 mL (1 Tbsp) butter
375 mL (1-1/2 cups) milk
Approx. 250 g (8 oz) tinned whole clams
Freshly ground black pepper
Cayenne pepper

Cook bacon in a large skillet. Add butter, onion and carrot and cook until onion is softened. Add potato and liquid from the clams; cover and simmer until potato is softened (about 15 minutes). Add water if the pan starts to dry out. Add milk and clams; simmer, stirring occasionally, until chowder is heated through. Ladle into bowls and season with pepper and cayenne. Serve immediately.

lundi 1 septembre 2008

Verrine de carpaccio de saumon

Verrines or single servings in small glasses have been around for a few years but are now beginning to hit mainstream.  I think it started as an interesting way to serve appetizers or desserts.  I have been intrigued by them since first seeing them served at a vernissage or art opening for one of my favourite French artists, Daniele Fuchs, in Versailles.  There were tables laid out with rows of Chinese soup spoons each filled with a mouthful of smoked salmon or devilled egg and little glasses of dessert type goodies.  Since then I have been searching for appropriate sized glasses and the right number of dinner guests to try out some combinations.  

I think the "keep it simple" principle works best.  These are small quantities we are taking about presented in artistic ways, if possible.  It is an ideal way to present a cold summer soup starter.  Or trios of desserts (a little sample of each).  The downside is having lots of glasses or spoons to wash but a small price to pay for art I think.  

In this example, I have just used salmon carpaccio mixed with lemon juice, scallions, olive oil, pepper, lemon zest and cilantro served in tiny vodka glasses and spoons.  The salmon could be replaced by smoked salmon.  This could also be served in layers alternated with chopped tomatoes or avocados. 

The limit is really your imagination.