Thursday, September 10, 2009


Summertime recipes that can boost your culinary reputation.

Prelude: Melon au Pineau des Charentes. A warm evening's first course par excellence, it's more of a question of knowing to do it than how to. Scoop out seeds and filament from Cavaillon melon or cantaloupe halves. Pour a puddle of Pineau des Charentes into the center of each half and chill in the refrigerator for one hour. Give each guest a melon half and a spoon. Porto, the traditional choice for this treatment is increasingly replaced by the more elegant Pineau des Charentes, a sublime liqueur born from a 16th century accident. A French winegrower mistakenly poured unfermented grape juice into a cask of Cognac and left it to age. This sweet, fruity apéritif exists in blanc, rosé and vieux blanc, any of which can be used.

Variation on a theme: Melon au Proscuitto. Serve melon quarters with paper thin slices of proscuitto, preferably San Daniel, and drink the Pineau des Charentes from glasses...don't forget the fork and knife. In a pinch? Substitute jambon de Bayonne.

Impromptu: Artichauts à la crème. Easier than it sounds. Open a jar of baby artichoke hearts preserved in oil and drain well. In a small salad bowl combine 1/2 cup light cream and 1 tablespoon each of fresh, minced chives and chervil. Gently turn in artichokes, and keep refrigerated. Just before serving, garnish sparingly with snippets of chives and chervil leaves. Can substitute parsley for chervil.

Ad lib:  Salade du jardinier. Tomato wedges, thinly sliced onion rings, green pepper strips and cucumber rounds look sumptuous in this no-lettuce salad. Simply douse a bowlful of these fresh veggies with wine- or apple-cider vinegar and oil, using a proportion of 1 tablespoon vinegar to 3 tablespoons oil. Please no factory dressings. 

Three-part invention: Poivrons grillés. Three may be a crowd but not for this trio of roasted red, green and yellow bell peppers. If you can't take advantage of dying barbeque embers to roast them, then turn broiler on. Cut peppers in half-lenghwise, remove stem, membrane and seeds. On a baking sheet lined wih aluminum foil, place pieces skin-side up. Gently push them down, making cuts if necessary to flatten. Brush with olive oil. Place 3 to 4 inches under heating coils. With oven door slightly ajar, roast until pepper skins are blistered to slightly charred, 10 to 15 minutes. Keep an eye on them; red peppers have a higher sugar content and char more quickly than others. They also have a sweeter and more smokey aroma. (Some prefer to char pepper skins until black, although tasty, the pepper flesh looks dingy.) As they become done, transfer pieces to a tightly covered container--a bowl with plastic wrap will do--so that the sealed in warmth can loosen the pepper skin. 

Let cool for 15 minutes, then scrape and lift off skin with a kitchen knife. Do not rinse. Slice in uniform strips, or ir desired in small squares. In a salad bowl, lightly drizzle the peppers with your finest olive oil and a couple of squirts of fresh lemon juice. Especially flavorful the day after.

If barbequing, place oiled, whole peppers on grill over whitened coals, turning to roast evenly. Place in a covered container and let cool. Remove stem, seeds and membrane. Proceed as above.

©2009P.B.Lecron; photos by P.B.Lecron

No comments:

Post a Comment