Introducing our dear furry friend Pierre ….Ratatouille’s little brother ….also a fabulous chef !
Getting some inspiration for tonight’s dinner in this classic Provencal cookbook in its 27th edition ( the first one dating from 1897 ! )
Artichauts a la barigoule ( baby artichokes Provencal style )
Baby artichokes are in season now ….I found purple ones at the farmers market and some regular ones at Ralph . Try to choose them all about the same size so they cook at the same speed . First trim them by folding the first tough leaves so the bottom part of the leaf stays . Cut the tops and put in a bucket of water with a lemon juice to avoid them to get black as they do very quickly ( wear gloves or your hands will be black too ! )
In a pan large enough so your vegetables won’t be stacked too deep, pour some olive oil , ad one large onion cut into large pieces , a bunch of spring carrots cut into medium pieces and the artichokes ( 20 or so ) If some are bigger , cut them in 2 so they cook as fast as the little ones . Cook open on high heat until the vegetables start to turn brown stirring a few times . Season to taste , ad a glass of white wine , 2 crushed garlic cloves, 2 bay leaves. Cover and simmer on slow until vegetables are cooked and tender ( 45mns or so ) making sure it stays moist …ad some water if needed .Do not over turn to avoid the artichokes from falling appart . If you eat meat you can ad at the beginning a box of cubed pancetta ( from Trader Joes ) …it goes very well with it …but do not salt or very little in that case
And Voila !!
To serve as an apetizer ….Pierre is going to serve an other french delicacy found at Lillianna’s Delices ( Ben the owner sells Marocan and french specialty sausages , olives, harissa….at Farmer’s markets Found him on Facebook or call him at(619) 723-7496 )
Boudin noir or blood sausages are the sweetest , mildest smoothest of all sausages and my favorites ! To make it easier for American to eat this , it is best to cut them in thick slices , display on a baking sheet lined with parchemin paper and broil until warm and bubbly .
Make toasts with a good baguette, spead some real french mustard ( with seeds if possible ….we have some at the shop 🙂 a piece of sausage and some hot melting cooked apple ( sliced and cook with a little butter )
Now the Piece de resistance !!
Whole Branzino on a bed of fennel in “papillotte”
We use to stop in Santa Barbara every time , just to eat a branzino at “Ca Dario” italien restaurant…this is the most delicious fish ever , moist but not oily and now we can buy the fish fresh here !
One branzino is enough for 2 guests . This is the recipe for 1 fish. (You can find it at Whole Foods or order it at Blue Waters on India street )
First make a julienne with 2 fennels and a few carrots . ( using a mandoline helps for the carrots ) . Pierre likes to pre cook the vegetables in a little olive oil so they are tender . You can also just cook them with just a bit of water as this can be a very lean recipe ….still so tasty !
Grind a teaspoon of fennel seeds in a mortar , ad salt and pepper and put inside the fish . Oil the fish with olive oil . Salt the skin as well . In a large sheet of parchemin paper put a bed of pre cooked vegetables, drizzle with olive oil, moist with some white wine , put the fish on top . Close the paper and tie the ends .Heat up the oven on high ( 425 F ) . This will cook in about 20mns . You can serve it in the paper or plate it if your guests do not know how to fillet the fish .
And for desert : Nougat ice cream over a red berries puree and an almond cookie !! Recipe …top secret 🙂