Dimanche Repas: Semaine 6 (Part 2)
Most people would think of tomatoes as vegetables. But did you know that botanically, by definition of a “fruit” — the tomate is the ovary, and together with its seeds, is a flowering plant classified as a berry? From the culinary point of view though, (according to U.S. laws), the tomate is a vegetable. So let’s keep it at that — so we can decide if we should add it to our surely-short-list-of-vegetables-that-we-enjoy.
In France, during its early existence (after they were introduced to the New World by the Spaniards), tomatoes were considered poisonous — and merely functioned as an ornamental plant. Ahhh… so that is why, I realize, it took me until adulthood to appreciate its taste! Can you imagine feeding someone with about a hundred tomatoes and watching him slowly die? I wonder how they figured it was NOT poisonous after all.
Today though, tomatoes are the number one fresh vegetable consumed in France, with at least six general categories (based on its shape, size, etc). The most common ones are the tomate en grappe — which are sold as clusters, about 6-8 cms in width, with their cute green stems still attached. Picture-perfect, don’t you think?
Voila. Its pervasiveness in french cooking implored me to try a peasant soup called Potage Magali, or Mediterranean Tomato Soup with Rice. It turned out all right — except you really have to be a fan of tomatoes to repeat this recipe! Something I am unlikely to do, am afraid. The small amount of rice added to the soup was a nice homey touch — but reminded me too much of soup dishes we were forced to eat when we were sick as kids. It had the same effect on me as eating Chicken Noodle Soup.
I ended up only eating half of my serving. Hubby didn’t make a comment. My daughter said it was good (I think it should begin to dawn on you that my daughter just loves me too much to disappoint me!) and our vegetarian guest said it was good too. But he didn’t ask for seconds. In short, the soup was uneventful.
And THAT, my friends, is the reason why I ain’t cookin’ this again! 🙂
Therefore for posterity sake — let’s take a photograph for memories-sake:
Main course was a Renaissance-Inspired Leg of Lamb, as shown in one of Julia Child’s pbs videos with Master Chef Lynne Rossetto Kasper. Now THIS was the real main event! I even purchased a brand new meat thermometer just to ensure that I did not foul this up again by over-cooking my meat. It was marinated overnight with a mixture of orange zest, anchovies, basil leaves, and garlic cloves. It was OK (this marinade) — except I felt the orange drowned the taste of all the other ingredients a bit too much. But taking the dish as a whole, I would say it was good. That means, worth repeating. With about 2 cups of red wine constantly being basted onto the meat while it was cooking, the black olives, then the eventual reduced sauce from the drippings mixed with tomato paste and veal stock — mmmmm! — it was heaven! I cooked my lamb till it was 56 degrees C — a magic number I should remember forever because it came out just blushing, with the perfect shade of pink!
If I would do this again, I would add more than a filet of anchovy (perhaps not even rinse it in water as the recipe suggested) and go easy on the orange zest. Everyone loved it — except our vegetarian guest of course. 🙂
Dessert? Ahhh. That deserves a whole new post in itself. If you are having a dinner at home, and want to impress… this, my friends, is the way to go! It is easy-peasy… can all be prepared hours before… and assembled within a reasonable time frame between courses. And the final look will take anyone’s breath away!
It all begins with Gale Gand’s (guest chef at Julia Child’s pbs video) phyllo pastry a la fettucini nests — which serve as the top side and bottom side of her Ice Cream Sandwich. I think this recipe far from epitomizes anything French — but hey, if Julia is impressed, then it must bear something that remotely reminds her of France. Peut-être. Maybe? These may be prepared well in advance — even the morning of your dinner party — because it stays crisp and holds its shape while waiting on its cooling rack.
Then, all you need to do is a nice raspberry purée which you toss upon your fresh raspberries. Some whipped cream, a nice vanilla (or even cinnamon!) ice cream in between… and voila! I even added a dash of Cerise & Gingembre liqueur to the purée for a wee bit of punch. Came out perfect! A true blend of creamy textures, with fruit, and crunchy bits to munch on.
Even my little monster who is a pain to feed enjoyed his version of this dessert. I skipped the berries and substituted it with good ‘ol colored sprinkles… and he was jumping for joy! I was thrilled enough that he tried something new — so yes, this Sunday exercise is certainly beginning to pay off!
Success? What do you think of this face?
Till the next weekend — unless I get antsy before then! 🙂
À dimanche prochain!