Provencelona

2012.Feb.09 Thursday · 0 comments

in Casa SaltShaker, Food & Recipes

“Announcing the marriage of Ramon Berenguer III, The Great, Count of Barcelona and Douce I of Rouerge, Countess of Provence. The wedding to be held at the Cathedral of St. Trophime in Arles, this 3rd of February, in the year 1112.”

– an imagined wedding invitation from 900 years ago

It isn’t that the wedding was imaginary, just the form of the annoucement, I have no doubt it was handled with horseback messengers and rolled scrolls and lots of flowery language. The intent was to unite not just the two families, but the lands as well, Douce ceding all interests in Provence to her new husband, who ruled over quite a stretch of Catalonia. For him, his third marriage, for her, her first. They had five children, four of whom survived to adulthood. And, they provided me with a starting point for a bit of inspiration in cuisine from the overall region. My way, of course.

White gazpacho

We started off with a version of white gazpacho – with cauliflower in the base – simmereed the cauliflower until tender, then cooled it and blended it with milk, mint, garlic, shallots, almond flour, olive oil, white wine and honey vinegars, smoked salt and white pepper. Then chilled it down. Served it with a tomato sorbet – fresh beefsteak tomatoes pureed with corn syrup, sesame oil, salt and shichimi, strained, then run through the ice cream maker at last minute. Garnished the bowls with green grapes, poached shrimp and toasted almonds. As long as the weather stays hot I’m going to keep playing with these chilled soups with ice creams/sorbets. It’s like a whole new playland!

Ratatouille tarte tatin

A ratatouille tarte tatin – the vegetables – eggplant, bell pepper, zucchini, onion – caramelized in olive oil, brown sugar, anchovy, salt, black pepper, peperoncino – into baking dishes, topped with a round of pastry, baked, flipped out and garnished with fresh parsley leaves.

Artichoke risotto

A white wine and vegetable stock risotto, finished with chopped artichoke hearts and a local version of grana padano cheese. Topped with fried capers, toasted sunflower seeds and ground sumac.

Chicken in Spicy Green Olive Hash

Originally I wanted to do this dish with duck legs, but apparently a large percentage of the ducks offered up here are brought in from Brazil and with the new import near-ban that’s going on, all three of my usual suppliers of duck informed they couldn’t get any duck right now – one had a few duck breasts but not enough for the weekend. A trip to Barrio Chino yielded the same results – no duck parts, and only one of the three markets had any duck at all – two spindly little ducks that wouldn’t have made a decent meal for one night, together. So, chicken leg-thigh quarters – skinned them and boned out the thigh, coated the inner side of the meat with black olive tapenade, salt and pepper, then pushed the meat from the thigh up and wrapped around the leg and tied it to create a sort of mega-leg, a chicken drumstick lollipop if you will. Browned them in olive and then roasted in the oven until cooked through. Served on a “hash” of parboiled Andean potatoes, green olives, plum tomatoes, garlic slices, jalapeño slices and a mix of chopped chives, rosemary and cilantro.

Caramelized Goat Cheeses and Stewed Peaches

Dinner was feeling a bit heavy by this point, so a lighter dessert seemed in order. Diced some peaches and then simmered them quickly in sugar syrup, then cooled them. Two different goat cheeses, a Crottin and a Camembert, lightly dusted one side with sugar and torched, then sprinkled the whole dish with crushed pink peppercorns and mint, and finished with a drizzle of grape syrup.

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