Suzi's Blog

A Tray of Tartines

2013_08_30_1758

 

 

Le Pain Quotidien is a chain of lovely restaurants, European inspired and bread-centric. The new cookbook, thrillingly titled Le Pain Quotidien Cookbook, has favorites from the restaurant but also an abundance of the emblematic tartines that are the Le Pain specialty.

In short, a tartine is a good piece of sourdough bread topped with an inviting array, no spectacular array, of flavors.

For dinner with friends, Suzen scoured this book to find a trio of recipes that would create a complete dinner of multiple, contrasting, yet not competing flavor components. Suzen’s favorite was the first one listed here: Hummus and Curried Cauliflower. I loved the Spicy Shrimp and Avocado. But the Pea, Pancetta and Radish Tartine was a great contribution to round out the night.

Suzen made a double portion of each of these recipes, easily enough for 4 for dinner. Add a dry white wine, perhaps some dried fruit on the side, and you have a feast that cannot be topped. [That’s a food pun, you know: topped? Tartine?].

Never mind.

You probably want to find a copy of the cookbook, itself, and take a journey through the entire bevy of recipes here. There are 40 pages of tartines, but also breads, breakfast ideas, soups, salads, things to share, and desserts to treasure. When you see the picture of the Banana Pastis Pie, you will begin to caramelize the bananas on the spot.

Each recipe comes with a matching full page photograph. These are the perfect food-GPS directions for you to follow, if you wish, or simply be inspired, if you feel a tad creative. This book itself is inspired, but also inspiring. You’ll enjoy reading it, cooking from it, and tasting what are sure to be among your best culinary accomplishments.

 

Hummus and Curried Cauliflower Tartine

Yield: Serves 4

Ingredients:

For the curried cauliflower:

  • ½ cauliflower, washed, dried and broken into very small florets
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 pinch freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 pinch of cinnamon
  • 1 sprig of thyme, leaves only
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt

For the hummus:

  • 1 ⅔ cups canned chickpeas, drained [reserve the  liquid]
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pinch of sea salt

To serve:

  • 4 slices of sourdough bread
  • 1 scallion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Preparation:

Start by making the curried cauliflower. Preheat the oven to 425°F. In a bowl, toss the cauliflower with spices, thyme leaves and olive oil, mixing well. Transfer to an ovenproof dish and roast in the oven for 10-15 minutes, until lightly brown on top. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

Place all the hummus ingredients into a food processor or use a hand blender to process until smooth. If necessary, use a little of the reserved chickpea liquid to thin the mixture to a smooth puree. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

To serve, spread the hummus on the bread and top with the curried cauliflower. Sprinkle the scallion on top and drizzle with the olive oil.

Spicy Shrimp and Avocado Tartine

Yield: Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 10 shrimp, cooked and peeled
  • 2 cherry tomatoes, cut into chunks
  • 1 teaspoon thinly sliced jalapeno pepper
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped scallion, green part only
  • ½ clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon fine chopped fresh cilantro
  • Sea slat
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 avocado, just ripe, peeled and pit removed
  • 2 slices of sourdough bread
  • 1 lime, peeled

Preparation:

Cut the shrimp or prawns into half across their length and then their width if they are very large.

Put the shrimp into a bowl with the tomatoes, jalapeno, scallion, garlic and cilantro. Seaton with salt, then add half the lime juice and mix well. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 10 minutes.

Mash the avocado flesh with a fork together with the remaining lime juice. Spread the avocado on the bread slices, then top with the shrimp mixture.

Using a sharp knife, segment the lime by cutting away the skin and pith. Place the lime slices on top of the shrimp mixture and serve immediately.

Pea, Pancetta and Radish Tartine

Yield: Serves 2

Ingredients:

For the pea hummus:

  • 1 cup shelled fresh peas, or frozen petit pois, defrosted
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 pinches sea salt
  • Black pepper

To serve:

  • 2 slices of sourdough bread
  • 4 very thin slices of raw pancetta [very dry] or fired, if preferred
  • 4 radishes, cut into thin slivers
  • 8 mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 4 teaspoon shelled fresh peas or frozen petits pois, defrosted

 Preparation:

For the pea hummus, pout the peas, tahini, olive oil, salt and black pepper into a food processer or use a handheld blender to blend into short burst of 10-15 seconds, until you have a smooth puree.

To serve, spread the pea hummus on the bread, then top with the pancetta, radishes, mint and peas.

Source: Le Pain Quotidien Cookbook by Alain Coumont and Jean-Pierre Gabriel

Photo Information: Canon T2i, 18MM Macro lens, F/2.8, 1/80th second, ISO 500.

 

 

Shrimp with Tomatoes and Feta from The Mediterranean Slow Cooker by Michele Scicolone

2013_01_20_0426

 

 

Our friend Michele Scicolone earned her general’s four stars writing a slew of wonderful Italian cookbooks. Not Italian-American. Italian. She and her husband Charles must have traveled through every village and byway in Italy by now. You can trust her books for their authenticity and the guarantee that a Michele recipe will work as advertised. Every time and perfectly. Few cookbook authors have such quality.

But Michele has not rested on those earned general’s stars. She has just published her third slow cooker cookbook. First there was Italy, of course. Then France. And now The Mediterranean Slow Cooker is ready for you to enjoy. And you will.

At the beginning of this book, Michele answers that question you now have: why a slow cooker? She tells you the why and how to choose one, provides great tips and techniques, and she even offer some safety facts — well, let’s face it, you go off to a soccer match and leave the slow cooker plugged in and what do you expect. Your next meal may be a fund raiser for the firemen who have saved you house. More seriously, for this book, Michele also outlines the ingredients you should have on hand for Mediterranean cuisine.

The book ranges from starters to desserts. Here are the chapters with a representative recipe from each:

  • Soups: Winter Squash and Chickpea Soup
  • Eggs: Zucchini Flan
  • Seafood: Shrimp with Tomatoes and Feta
  • Poultry: Turkey Breast with Lemon, Capers, and Sage
  • Beef and Veal: Rioja Short Ribs with Chorizo
  • Pork and Lamb: Lamb and Pine Nut Meatballs
  • Pasta, Grains and Beans: Truffled Polenta
  • Vegetables: Golden Vegetable Tagine
  • Desserts: Coffee Caramel Flan

There are recipes here to suit every skill and taste bud. You can do something pretty familiar or you can venture off into a recipe that is deeply Mediterranean.

We chose the Shrimp with Tomatoes and Feta. Now, shrimp themselves don’t need a slow cooker. In fact, they are only added at the very end here for 10-15 minutes. This dish could be prepared in a few minutes on the stovetop, except for the sauce part. Here, the sauce ingredients you could cook in those few minutes are slow cooked instead. Is there a difference? Of course. Hours of slow cooking generate a different flavor profile and texture. The resulting sauce is exceptionally wonderful. This recipe is the perfect example of what has been lost in our hurry-up-now world.

Michele’s book is a both a tasting and learning experience. All you have to do is plug in that slow cooker and wait. Time for a book or a bottle or both.

 

Shrimp with Tomatoes and Feta

Yield: serves 6

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • Salt
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper
  • 1 ½ pounds medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese [about 4 ounces]
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaved parsley
  • 1 12-ounce Collins or sling glass

Preparation:

In a small skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Scrape the onion into a large slow cooker. Stir in the tomatoes, wine, oregano, salt to taste, and crushed red pepper. Cover and cook on high for 2 hours.

Rinse the shrimp and pat them dry. Stir in the shrimp into the sauce. Sprinkle with the cheese. Cover and cook on high for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the shrimp are tender and cooked through.

Sprinkle with the parsley and serve hot.

Source: The Mediterranean Slow Cooker by Michele Scicolone