Introducing Pierre !

Introducing our dear furry friend Pierre ….Ratatouille’s little brother ….also a fabulous chef !

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Getting some inspiration for tonight’s dinner in this classic Provencal cookbook in its 27th edition ( the first one dating from 1897 ! )

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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 ! )


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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


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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 )

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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  !


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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 🙂


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San Diego Spring farmer’s market

Our local farmer’s market is getting bigger and nicer . We are so lucky to have had this market for now 16 years.It is not quiet like the ones in the south of France where you would find many cheese trucks, meat trucks and fish mongers ...but we have fantastic organic produce here ! Thank you California weather 🙂

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Pierre ( Ratatouille little’s brother at the market looking for some cheese he never found !


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Sweet mangos from Mexico


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Sweet strawberries from Carlsbad


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Delicious dates from the desert !

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Time to plant your herb garden !


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9am …the line for a crepe is already long long !


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Nice Hawaiian music whi;e you wait or shop


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Mark , the fish guy ! Always great fresh fresh fish , sea urchins and oysters ….


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A baguette ….


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croissant …


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New truck today with a rotisserie ..yum !!


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Zucchini blossoms for lunch !


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Voila ! Just simply deeped in a light tempura batter , fried in olive oil  , some fleur de sel and  it’s all the taste of Pascal’s grand mother’s lunches in Forcalquier ….

Pork Chops in parchemin paper .

This is the most simple recipe but it is very festive ….It is a  big hit each time !  You can prepare everything in advance and cook it when your guests are in .

You’ll need one pork chop per person. I prefer the ones with the bone in as they are more moist.                   On a piece of parchemin paper big enough so you can wrap the chop like a candy ;  layer as follow :          Some chopped shallots and chopped fresh herbs ( a mix of basil, sage and thyme ), then the pork chop oiled with some olive oil , more herbs ,  a nice slice or two of italian prociutto ( not too thin ) , some roasted tomatoes ( less water and more taste than fresh ) , a nice slice of gorgonzola ( I like the Sini Fului Gorgonzola Dolce from Whole Foods as it is creamy and not pungy or too strong blue flavor ), 2 sage leaves ( sage and pork really goes well together ) , ground pepper ( no salt because of the prociutto and cheese )  .

Wrap the package , tie the sides with a string and you are ready !  These cook really fast , about 10 -12 mns depending on the thickness in a hot oven set at 425F  . Cook them at the last minutes because they will still cook inside the paper until your guests open them…. So serve immediately and still in the paper ! I like to serve them with some fresh gnoccis  on the side ( spinach gnoccis , sweet potatoe are great and ad a splash of color )   

Bon Appetit !


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Preserved lemons $13 /jar

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For those who are not familiar with preserved lemons , here is one of my favorite recipe ( make 6 serving) :

The day before : marinate chicken thighs ( skinless,boneless or with bones as you prefer )with chopped parsley , chopped coriander ( one bunch each), 1 tbs ground ginger,1 tbs turmeric, a pinch of safran ,salt, pepper, juice of 1 lemon, 2 garlic cloves crushed, 2-3 tbs olive oil and 2 preserved lemons chopped .

The next day: In a cast iron pot ( le creuset like ) lightly brown a large onion chopped , ad the meat with the marinade, 2 glasses of water , cover and slowly simmer until the meat is tender ( 1h or more ). Just before to serve , ad 1 or 2 chopped preserved lemons as a garnish. Serve with some couscous. It’s very good re-heated the following day….so you can make this dish in advance . Enjoy !