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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Perfect Side Dish—Summer Tomatoes with a Provencal Stuffing

Grocery shopping at my neighborhood market this summer in Paris, I noticed a bin of tomatoes labeled “tomates pour rôtir,” which means “tomatoes for roasting.” I put several of the deep red orbs in my cart, imagining that they would be delicious stuffed.

Back in my small apartment kitchen, I scooped out the seeds and flesh, and filled the cavities with a mixture of homemade breadcrumbs, sautéed shallots, bits of creamy goat cheese, and herbs. Then I popped the tomatoes into the oven for less than half an hour until they were hot and the cheese had melted. The tomatoes held up beautifully in the oven and were indeed perfect for roasting.  For serving each tomato was garnished simply with a fresh basil sprig.

Back home in New England, I was surprised to find similar tomatoes at a nearby Whole Foods.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Japanese Chefs and Glorious French Food in Paris

The small kitchen at Table d'Aki
Several years ago I went to a fabulous new restaurant in Paris called Hiromatsu, a small, intimate place lauded for the inventive French cooking of its Japanese chef. The day of our visit I savored course after course of artfully presented dishes, and was wowed by the talent of Hirotoshi Hiromatsu. In fact, I was so enamored of French fare prepared with subtle Japanese accents that my husband and I returned to the restaurant when it moved across town to larger quarters in the 16th arrondissement.

Last winter when two different friends, both enthusiastic food lovers, mentioned that I should try Sola, a new Left Bank place headed by another Japanese chef, Hiroki Yoshitake, I didn’t waste any time reserving for lunch. The meal was so special that I featured the restaurant in the Out and About section on my website in February. 

This summer while in the French capital, a young American couple who live and work in Paris and who adore the Japanese chefs there, suggested that we book at La Table d’Aki, a recently opened spot

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The 10- Minute Summer Fruit and Cheese Dessert

The French take their fruits and vegetables seriously so in each neighborhood you’ll find  several  “primeurs,” specialized stores that sell these products exclusively. I am crazy about these outposts and often go in and talk to the helpful sales people—“les vendeurs et les vendeuses.”  If I want to serve fresh melon with mint, they’ll smell and touch a dozen before handing me the perfectly ripe one for my dinner that night. If I can’t decide between white and yellow peaches, they’ll give me the heads up, and when I say I need some basil for a food photo, they’ll offer me the prettiest bunch.

 The other day at one of my local “primeurs,” the staff was abuzz about the figs. The first of the season had arrived and were “français,” not from some exotic land. I bought a  small bagful and prepared them simply.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

A Great Opener for July 4th Celebrations!

Although parades, band concerts, and fireworks all define July 4th, it’s the food that many of us anticipate most. Whether special burgers, smoked ribs, barbecued chicken, corn on the cob slathered with seasoned butter, spicy baked beans, or fresh strawberry shortcakes, a big spread is the way everyone loves to celebrate America’s birthday. Typically, cooks focus on the entrees, sides, and sweets, but starters are important too. You don’t have to resort to a bowl of chips served with a purchased dip when you can make Grilled Shrimp with Cumin Mayo in only a matter of minutes.