La Tartine Gourmand- Recipes for an inspired life
What inspires me when I cook? It's actually many things: seasonal produce, a memory, an interesting taste combination seen in a magazine I flipped though while waiting for a train, a picture in a book, something I had in a restaurant and want to recreate, or my husband saying he'd like to have something I haven't made in a while. I like to go through my cookbooks to collect ideas. Sometimes I'll follow the recipe, mostly I become inspired and go off on a new path.
Béatrice Peltre's cookbook "La Tartine Gourmand- Recipes for an inspired life" had me inspired even before I opened the book. I've been following her blog for a few years, reading about her love for nature, her family, her travels and her home country France. As soon as her book was out, I ordered it and waited more or less patiently for it to be delivered. It is just as beautifully photographed as her blog and each recipe has a story, a memory.
Where to start? As I turned the pages, I thought This will be the first thing I try, then I turned a few more pages No, THIS is the first thing I'll try. I have made several things out of the book since then. It even inspired me to actually pull out the tajine which has been sitting in the cupboard for much too long. After our trip to Paris this spring, and a most delicious dinner at the Mosque, I turned to Béa's tajine recipe for inspiration. I used mostly root vegetables and served it with couscous. Each bite took me back to the mosque and that wonderful dinner. And there are several other recipes I plan to try!
It wasn't easy choosing two recipes to feature. Béa and I have very similar approaches to cooking: take what is at the farmer's market, mix in some flavors gathered from our travels and season with the foods we grew up with.
I grew up with corn on the cob. Yellow and white. My sister and I would sit out in the backyard with a a big brown paper bag and the corn we had bought that day at the farmer's market. Our job was to husk them. It wasn't easy, the silk liked to cling to the kernels and to our fingers. Oh, how delicious those cobs were! Of course we smothered them with butter and a healthy serving of salt, but I think that enhanced the sweetness. Today I still enjoy corn on the cob, now with a little less butter and salt, but the added kick of chipotle powder. Still corn salad was something I never started eating until after I met my husband, and he had never eaten corn on the cob until he met me. And here I am back down memory lane.
That is what Béa's book has done for me. On the one hand it's all about the inspiration, but it also brings back memories.
Béa comes up with a dressed-up version of a corn salad with cilantro, tomatoes and a vanilla-balsamic vinaigrette. The vanilla surprise is what makes it special. It can be served at a fancy dinner, on a picknick or as part of a salad buffet. It's these mixtures of flavors that has me coming back to her recipes. Try this combination is what her cookbook tells me.
Oooo, it's like a brownie! my sister said when I told her to cut the cake. This buckwheat and almond chocolate cake is a chocolate cake lover's dream. Easy to make, dense and delicious. It's even gluten-free. The first day we ate it with some rhubarb sorbet I had made. The next day it was with strawberries and cream. And it between it was just plain. I used a larger form and it made for a thinner cake, but I can see this in all different kinds of forms depending on how you want to serve it. Of course I became inspired and thought a handful of raspberries in the batter or some chopped nuts would be a nice addition.
Thank you Béa for the inspiration and allowing me to feature two of your recipes.
- unsalted butter for ramekins
- 2 Tbs pine nuts
- 2-3 vine tomatoes (about 1 lb or 450 g), blanched, peeled, seeded and diced
- sea salt
- 2 ears of corn, shucked
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- 2 Tbs chopped cilantro, plus extra to serve
- 1 Tbs gomasio or toasted sesame seeds
For the vinaigrette:
- sea salt and pepper
- 1/2 vanilla bean, split open and seeds scraped out
- 1.5 Tbs balsamic vinegar
- 3 Tbs olive oil
Toast the pine nuts in a frying pan for 2 min over medium heat, until fragrant and lightly colored; set aside to cool.
Butter four 8-oz ramekins and line with parchment paper; set aside.
Place the tomatoes in a colander and season with sea salt. Let rest for 30 min to drain excess water.
Boil the corn in salted water for 4 min, rinse under cold water and once cool enough to handle, use a sharp knife to cut the kernels off.
To prepare the vinaigrette: In a small bowl, combine a pinch of sea salt and pepper, the vanilla seeds, vinegar, and oil. Whisk to emulsify.
In a large bowl, gently toss the tomatoes, corn, shallot, cilantro, and gomasio. Stir in half of the dressing. Divide the salad among the ramekins. Cover with a small piece of parchment paper and place a weight on top (another cup for example). Refrigerate like this for a minimum of 1 hour- more is even better.
To serve, have 4 appetizer plates handy. Remove the weights and top piece of parchment paper. One at a time, put a plate on top of the ramekin and flip it at the center of the plate. Remove the second piece of parchment paper carefully; repeat for the other 3 timbales. Drizzle the timbales with the remaining vinaigrette, and decorate with cilantro leaves and the pine nuts.
Serves 4 as an appetizer
Buckwheat and Almond Chocolate Cake
- 7 Tbs (100g; 3.5 oz) unsalted butter, plus more for the mold
- 3.5 oz (100g) bittersweet dark chocolate (70% cocoa)
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup (100g; 3.5 oz) blond cane sugar
- pinch of sea salt
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup (35g; 1 oz) buckwheat flour
- 1/4 cup (30g; 1 oz) almond meal
- confectioners' sugar, to serve
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Cut a round piece of parchment paper large enough to cover the sides and bottom the the mold. Butter the mold and line it with the parchment paper; set aside.
Place the butter and chocolate in a bowl and melt it in a bain-marie (using a water bath).
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the eggs with the sugar and sea salt until light an pale in color and the batter had doubled in volume. Gently fold in the vanilla and the melted chocolate mixture. Sprinkle the flour and almond meal over the batter and fold gently to combine.
Pour the batter into the cake mold, place in the oven, and bake for 30 min or until the blade of the sharp knife inserted in the middle comes out dry. Remove from the oven, let cool for 5 min, then flip it gently onto a plate. Remove the parchment paper carefully and flip again- the top part will crack and it might look messy, but that's normal as the cake rises and falls slightly. Dust with confectioners' sugar and serve at room temperature.
Makes one 9-inch round cake.