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Pantry Pleasures {CtBF}

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Sometimes we like something to nibble on while dinner is cooking.  It’s always something simple, typically a bowl of guacamole or some cheese and crackers.  When company comes over, I get a little fancier and often make some kind of dip.  I’m particularly fond of variations on white bean dips.  This week’s choice for Cook the Book Fridays from David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen introduced a new option to our pre-weeknight dinner snacking:  Artichoke Tapenade with Rosemary Oil.

The first step is to make a batch of Rosemary Oil.  Rosemary and parsley leaves are blanched and drained, then steeped in warm olive oil for a while.  The herbs and oil go for a whirl in the food processor to puree the herbs, then the herbs are strained out of the oil.  The result is a jar of verdant fragrant herbaceous oil.  I’ll be drizzling this on everything that invites it in the weeks to come.

Rosemary Oil

The tapenade itself comes together quickly with pantry items: canned artichoke hearts, green olives, and capers along with olive oil, lemon juice and a couple of cloves of garlic.  It takes about 30 seconds.  A generous glug of rosemary oil adds an extra spark of flavor.  Served with crackers or baguette slices, this winning combination makes a perfect starter.

Tapenade

I also learned this tidbit from the vignette on the page opposite the recipe.  Did you know that while tapenade refer to an olive spread, the name tapenade is derived from the Provençal word for capers, tapenas?  According to David Lebovitz, it isn’t tapenade without capers!

I suspect my friends enjoyed tapenade as much as I did.  To validate my theory, follow their links here.  Due to copyright considerations, I don’t publish the recipes here.  You can find the tapenade on page 53 and the rosemary oil on page 332 of David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen.  Or feel free to drop me a line and I’ll share the recipe with you.

salmon tartare {ffwd}

Salmon Cocktail Anyone?

The calendar says it’s spring. Outside, not quite, but I remain optimistic. Actually, it’s a little better than that. Howard planted peas in the vegetable garden last night, and this morning, I noticed the tarragon and chives have started to emerged from the ground.

Waiting for warmer weather means that I no longer crave the hearty comfort food of winter. There still aren’t any local vegetables available, but lighter meals are what appeal. This week’s recipe for French Fridays with Dorie gets a big check mark on that count. The challenge this week is Salmon Tartare, a savory parfait, where the presentation is almost as satisfying as the taste.

Salmon Mixture

Salmon Mixture

To start, three complementary “salads” are prepared. The first is sliced grape tomatoes tossed with oil and herbs. The second is diced raw salmon tossed with olive oil, more herbs, lime zest, scallion, and Tabasco. Finally, diced avocado is tossed with lime juice and zest, herbs and Tabasco. The final touch is the addition of supremed lime segments to the salmon mixture along with some more lime juice. (And, if you don’t mind supreming that citrus, try my mother’s famous Fruit Salad!)

Naked Lime, ready to be supremed!

Naked Lime, ready to be supremed!

The herbs called for were mint and chives, but because of the tomatoes and avocado, this dish screamed “Cilantro!” to me, so that’s what I used.

Tomato Mixture

Tomato Mixture

To serve, the layers can be formed in a ring that gets removed or a ramekin that gets flipped over. I chose to serve this in extra-large martini glasses. When I bought them, I didn’t realize that these festive glasses are larger than any cocktail that I can drink responsibly, so I was glad to have an opportunity to pull them out of the cabinet.

I served the salmon tartare for dinner. We both really enjoyed it. I made half the recipe, and the portions seemed generous for a meal, at least for us. In smaller glasses, this would make a fun appetizer alongside cocktails also served in smaller glasses than these.

To see what my Dorista friends did this week, check out their links here. To make it yourself, you can find the recipe in Dorie Greenspan’s book Around My French Table.