Saturday, September 25, 2010

Dateline: Loire Valley; France

While eating lunch, the French discuss dinner. While eating dinner, they discuss the next dinner. Or the quality of the food and wine they are presently eating [which can cause raised voices]. Or what they ate last night [clenched fists, dirty looks]. Or the merits of particular cheeses [family estrangements, marital breakups]. Or the best place to buy cheeses, sausages, meat, wine, bread, olives...

My hostess, Marie-Denise, is a wildly energetic cook and gardener, the producer of exquisite meals taking three to four dreamy hours to consume [and far longer to digest]. She's the kind of kitchen magician you think of when speaking of French home cooks. Last night she whipped up this delicious, visually pleasing starter in just 5 minutes. Best of all, this can be made 6 hours ahead and only improves with refrigeration. What more can a harried hostess want? Click to read more...

Put the following into a blender:
2 peeled and seeded tomatoes, 1/2a peeled and seeded red bell pepper, 1/3 C feta cheese, fresh black pepper, a squeeze of lemon, a teaspoon of minced fresh basil,and 1/2 tsp Espelette Pepper flakes. This last, a Basque specialty, may not be in your kitchen, but it adds a smoky tingle to the taste. The hot pepper flakes or sauce you have should substitute pretty well, but use a light hand.

Whiz the whole thing for a minute or two, add salt if it needs it, and pour into 5 or 6 small individual stemmed glasses. If you want, garnish with a chive or sprig of parsley, an olive, or just put it on the table and collect the compliments.  Can be doubled but watch the condiments; this isn't supposed to blow your tongue out the back of your head.
Little triangles of toast would be good with this, or rip up some grilled pita or foccaccia if you wish.


  1. You had my attention till you mentioned peeling the tometoes and peppers. No way I can do this in five minutes.By the time I get the veggies close enough to the flame, they fall off or some other adventure ensues.
    Love the blog.

  2. How cool is this! I just received some Espelette pepper as a gift and can't wait to experiment! You know I have always enjoyed your traveling emails (and now blog) that vicariously feed my adventurous spirit. It's almost the same as being there with you! I have already forwarded a link to your blog to friends who have enjoyed your email messges during past trips. Keep the good stuff coming! Marti

  3. Being a foodie friend of Chef Marti I was thrilled to have her send me your blog. It looks like a wonderful way to travel the world through your taste buds. Thanks for sharing recipes too!


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