FFWD – Tuna Rillettes


We’ve done rillettes before, but I’m betting that this tuna version is less challenging for the French Fridays crowd than the ones we made previously. I really enjoyed the sardine rillettes, but not everyone could get behind the idea of a sardine sandwich spread. I expected to enjoy this one, too, and I did.

When I was growing up, my favourite kind of sandwich was tuna. I would have had that every day if my mother had let me. She had strange ideas about feeding us a variety of foods, though, so my argument that fish is brain food didn’t prevail. I’m sure my mercury levels are all the better for it.

This spread reminded me of those sandwiches, though the flavour profile is a little more sophisticated than the elementary school standard of tuna mixed with mayo and chopped celery. There are hints of curry, quatre épices, and lemon in this recipe, along with subtle undercurrents of shallot and crème fraîche. I didn’t have any tuna in oil on hand, so I added a teaspoon or so of olive oil to make up for it.

Though the mixture is whizzed into a smooth, plain-looking paste, the flavour and texture more than make up for its appearance. The rillettes were great with gluten-free almond crackers. They were even better when used to make another Dorista favourite, the tartine. I spread some on soughdough toast, then layered sharp cheddar, Romaine lettuce, and red pepper on top. I’d have that for lunch any day. Which might cause my mother to give me another lecture on a well-rounded diet.


You can find many other blogged descriptions of this FFWD recipe here: Tuna Rillettes

FFWD – Two Tartines from La Croix Rouge


When I tell people I’m part of a group that’s cooking through a French cookbook together, I think they imagine the classic dishes set forth by Julia Child or the regional comprehensiveness of Elizabeth David. There are plenty of classic dishes and regional favourites, it’s true, but the book also reflects the diversity of modern France. It’s further inflected by a sort of translation wrought by its American author, who wrote the book with North American kitchens and pantries in mind.

The recipes are transformed, once again, by the time we post our versions each Friday. Each take on the recipe can’t help but be inflected by the individuals who make them, in kitchens across the world – the United States and Canada, yes, but also Argentina, Germany, Malaysia, Australia, and more.


So, when I tackled this week’s recipes, two tartines from a popular café in Dorie Greenspan’s Paris neighbourhood, it’s not surprising that they ended up with a faint Italian accent. Commercial Drive is still (symbolically, at least) the heart of Vancouver’s Italian community. Many of the cafés, bakeries, and delis have a long family history here, even though the children and grandchildren of their founders have had to move out of the area as housing costs increased.


I made two stops in my quest for ingredients for the tartines. First, I went to The Daily Catch to pick up some smoked Sockeye salmon. Then, I headed over to Bosa for the roast beef and bread. Bosa has opened up an enormous Italian grocery store and deli in the furthest eastern regions of the city, but their original location is just a few blocks away and has a great selection in their deli case.


When I got home, I sliced the whole wheat and millet bread into strips, then toasted them under the broiler.

For the tartine norvégienne, I spread the toast with a bit of mayonnaise, instead of butter, and freshly ground pepper, before layering the salmon and capers on top. I finished them with a squeeze of lemon.

The toast for the tartine saint-germain was spread with a mixture of mayonnaise and Dijon mustard (in hopes the mustard would impart a hint of Paris), then a layer of thinly sliced cornichons, and a generous layer of garlic roast beef.

Roast Beast

The tartines in Around My French Table are a reminder that sandwiches, open-faced or not, can be richly flavoured and sophisticated. I would serve these tartines at a cocktail party or as part of a first course. I’m also counting the days until I can have another Goat Cheese and Strawberry Tartine with local berries.

In the meantime, I’m going to read through the rest of the Doristas’ versions of this week’s tartines, so their personal and regional inflections can inspire my own cooking experiments to come.

You can find many other blogged descriptions of this FFWD recipe here: Two Tartines from La Croix Rouge

FFWD – Dieter’s Tartine


“But for all this, she was putting on weight; for if she did not eat she drank, as everyone did. From the first sundowner, gulped down hastily to give her vitality after the hours of work, she drank steadily through the evening until she arrived back in her room in the small hours, slightly tipsy, if not drunk. She was only doing as everyone else did; and if someone pointed out to her, ‘You are living on sandwiches, sundowner snacks, and alcohol, you are sleeping three hours a night,’ he would probably have gotten for his pains a dark and uncomprehending stare; for that was not how life felt to Martha; it was a rush of delicious activity, which, however, was just beginning to flag.”

Doris Lessing, from Martha Quest


I’m not a fan of dieting – the industry, the fads, the body policing, the class profiling, or the skewing of priorities that can be seen in the quotation, above. I am a fan of fresh, delicious, easy meals in the summertime, however. This week’s recipe may fit the first category, but more importantly for me, it fits the second one, too. My version of this simple tartine consisted of sourdough rye topped with a creamy cottage cheese (no need to add sour cream) and a mixture of orange pepper and English cucumber. I dressed it with an Herbes de Provence fleur de sel and some freshly ground pepper. My chives aren’t doing that well in the record-nearing dry spell we’ve been experiencing this summer, or I would have used some of those, too. (If you check out the link, let me know if you agree with my assessment that the presenter’s glasses likely date from that record dry spell year.)

Later this summer, I’ll make it with radishes, yellow zucchini, cucumbers, or tomatoes from my own garden. For now, I’m content to use the local produce (from farmers who get their stuff into the ground in a timely fashion, unlike me) that abounds this time of year. A drizzle of olive oil, balsamic, or both wouldn’t be misplaced, but I liked it without, this evening. Next time, I think I’ll rub a garlic clove on the toast before I dress it.

As for dieting, I’ll eschew it in favour of moderation in all things (even moderation) and some love and respect for my genetic heritage – all the little French Canadian women on my mother’s side of the family end up a bit round in middle age. And with that, I think I’ll have a dish of this blackberry basil crumble, which was fresh and easy, too, made with basil from my garden and the accursed blackberries that afflict my backyard.

You can find many other blogged descriptions of this week’s FFWD recipe here: Dieter’s Tartine