Cook the Book Fridays – Artichoke Tapenade with Rosemary Oil

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There’s a wonderful Lebanese restaurant called Jamjar on the other side of our neighbourhood. We joke that it’s a good thing it’s far enough away that we can’t run down there on the spur of the moment. If it were closer, we’d eat at home less often than is good for us.

My last meal there wasn’t in the restaurant at all, but at a working meeting. The chairperson picked up an array of their dips, salads, small plates, and sauces for us to munch on as we sifted through our list of tasks. There’s nothing bland about any of their food – there’s almost a cacophony of flavours, which manage to complement rather than compete. Eating through a spread of their dishes excites the palate with each bite. It certainly kept us all lively and cheerful through what could have been a tedious evening.

The artichoke tapenade I enjoyed this evening wouldn’t have been out of place on that table. It’s French, rather than Lebanese, but its flavours have a Mediterranean bent. Artichokes, olives, and capers provide earthy notes, lemon and cayenne brighter ones, while homemade rosemary oil finishes the dip.

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Now that the weather is getting warmer, dips like this one are perfect for my favourite way to eat through the summer – from a table full of small bowls and plates filled with different textures and flavours, all working together to create a satisfying and harmonious meal.

You can read through everyone’s posts here. And consider joining this community of wonderful cooks and lovely people, as we work our way through David LebovitzMy Paris Kitchen.

Mme. Maman’s Chopped Liver – A French Fridays Catch Up

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Do you ever have one of those days? You know, the kind that finds you doing everything but the one thing you’d set as a goal?

Well, today was one of those days for me. I made succotash, and rugelach dough, a cranberry crackle tart and extra tart dough. But I didn’t manage to get the lamb stew that was today’s French Fridays assignment into the oven. The lamb languishes in the refrigerator, the apricots wait patiently on the counter. Tomorrow will be their day.

Today, I ate ribs coated with a sauce that my mother made up on the spot, which somehow paired perfectly with butternut squash roasted with cinnamon, nigella, pumpkin seeds, and cardamom. And I dug into this chopped liver, which is humble-looking, but delivers on flavour.

I think it’s the crispy onions and the quatre épices that really make this version of chopped liver special. The onions were almost crispy when they were done. I was worried they’d be too dry, but once mixed with the liver, hard-boiled egg, and some oil from the pan, and left to rest overnight, they melted into the mixture.

This was an unequivocal hit and will be showing up on my buffet table, humble-looking or not.

See how the Doristas fared with this recipe last year, when it came up on the rotation: Mme. Maman’s Chopped Liver. And here’s where you can find links to the rest of the French Fridays crew’s posts on this week’s recipe here: Lamb and Dried Apricot Tagine.

Patate Alpino

Patate Alpino - roasted creamer potatoes with Italian cheeses and Bresaola

The Little Potato Company provided me with the potatoes used in this recipe. The recipe and all opinions expressed in the post are my own.

I don’t care who knows it. I love potatoes. Roasted, mashed, boiled, smashed, simmered, braised, caked, or scalloped – bring ’em on. So, when I got the opportunity to play around with The Little Potato Company‘s creamer potatoes, I was right on board.

It’s been fun experimenting with these tiny, tender, flavourful potatoes. The recipe I’m sharing with you today was inspired by thoughts of Swiss raclette, but it’s got an Italian twist, since my neighbourhood is famous for its Italian delis and coffee shops.

When I was tracking down ingredients for a dish I made recently with my cooking group, I ended up with quite a lot of Bresaola. Since raclette is often served with air-dried beef and roasted potatoes, it seemed a natural fit for the little red Blushing Belle potatoes I’d been working with. In keeping with the Italian theme, I chose a mix of Asiago and Parmesan cheeses to complete the recipe.

Patate Alpino - roasted creamer potatoes with Italian cheeses and Bresaola

Patate Alpino

Serves 4 as a side; 2 as an appetizer or small plate

12 Little Potato Company Blushing Belle potatoes
1 head of garlic, broken into cloves, unpeeled
1 sprig of fresh rosemary
1 sprig of fresh thyme
1 tablespoon of olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

15 grams of grated Asiago cheese
15 grams of grated Parmesan cheese
10-15 grams (1-2 very thin slices) Bresaola, shredded

Centre a rack in your oven and preheat to 400°F.

Toss the potatoes, garlic, rosemary, and thyme in the oil and then add several grinds of pepper. Salt lightly, or not at all, as Bresaola is quite salty enough. Roast the potatoes for 30 minutes, stirring around the 20 minute mark.

While the potatoes are roasting, grate the cheeses and mix them together. Shred the Bresaola and reserve separately.

When the potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife, remove them from the oven and preheat the broiler to 500°F. Discard the rosemary and thyme and remove the garlic from the roasting pan.

You have two choices with the garlic. You can keep the cloves warm and serve them with the potatoes, or (my favourite) you can squeeze the cloves out of their skins immediately and spread them on toasted rounds of baguette. (If you have leftovers, add them to your next batch of mashed potatoes.)

Gently crush each potato with a potato masher, taking care to leave them reasonably intact, then give them another grind or two of pepper. Sprinkle each potato with the cheese mixture and then place the potatoes under the broiler until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Carefully move the potatoes to a serving platter, using a metal offset spatula, then top each with a mound of shredded Bresaola.

Patate Alpino - roasted creamer potatoes with Italian cheeses and Bresaola

This dish can serve as a side, but I think it really shines as a snack. With a glass of Italian red wine or a Belgian-style beer, it’s a satisfying way to warm up on a cold winter’s day.

If you’d like to take these potatoes back to the other side of the Alps, substitute Gruyère or Emmental cheese, with viande des Grisons (or Bündnerfleisch) as a topping. In that case, you might want to reach for a French vintage.

I didn’t stop there with my recipe experimentation with my stock of little potatoes. Come back next Thursday and I’ll have one more recipe for you. In the meantime, you can visit The Little Potato Company’s website for more recipes.

FFWD – Crab-Avocado “Ravioli” & Salmon Rillettes

Salmon

This post will have to serve for both this week and last, as I was laid low with a nasty flu over last weekend and into this week, so I’m just catching up on life now.

I made the salmon rillettes earlier this week. The combination of poached and smoked salmon is fantastic, especially when combined with chile pepper,spring onion, pink peppercorns, and lots of lemon. I halved the recipe, but it still made quite a bit of this spread. I can see serving half as an appetizer and saving hoarding the rest for sandwiches the next day.

Avocado

The crab-avocado “ravioli” came together in less than half an hour this evening. The fussiest bit is slicing the avocado to make the ravioli, but the one I picked was just barely ripe, so it held together quite well. I couldn’t get fresh crab meat – there is some sort of supply issue right now, according to my fishmonger, but the canned stuff wasn’t bad, I thought. I quartered this recipe, as crab doesn’t keep very well and there’s only two of us. It still made enough for a small plate of “ravioli” with enough left over to put on toast later. I thought the combination of lime, cilantro, and shallot worked well with the crab, but am I a cretin for wishing there had been a little cream or mayonnaise in the mix, too? Probably.

These were both delicious appetizers that I’ll be making again. This group has been a boon to my entertaining recipe repertoire – so many of the light and first course recipes have been winners, haven’t they? So much so, that I keep imagining that if we ever had a Dorista potluck, we could safely cover the table with enough delicious pre-dinner nibbles that we’d never make it to the main course.

Find out what the rest of the French Fridays crew thought about this week’s recipe: Crab-Avocado “Ravioli”

You can find links to everyone else’s posts on last week’s recipe here: Salmon Rillettes