Friday, May 22, 2009


It is time to talk about vinaigrettes. You would be hard pressed to find a bottle of salad dressing if you were shopping in France.Why ? because it is something that everyone makes fresh, in a couple of minutes,from scratch. The "convenience" factor of the bottled dressing always stopped me in my track: how could it taste still good after sitting in a bottle for months ? the ingredients sound weird,and complicated .new and often crazy flavors keep crowding more shelf space, all that when a good vinaigrette takes no time to prepare...
All you need are some basic pantry items and you are good to go.What I like is the myriad combinations that I can come up with just with my spices, herbs, vinegars and oils.And that is crucial: always adapt your dressing to the salad you are making, and allow yourself to play with what you happen to have in your fridge.
basic pantry:
sea salt, white pepper, black pepper, mustard, mayonnaise,sherry vinegar, balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar,lemons, limes, olive oil, canola oil,garlic, shallots,herbs ( dry like thyme and oregano, fresh like parsley, cilantro and mint).

first shake your salt and grind your pepper,then add you acidic component ( vinegar, or lemon),it will help dissolve your salt. Then add your oil.olive oil most times, but for the occasional potato or beet salad , canola oil mixed with shallots and mustard will make your salad shine bright.Then, depending on the type of lettuces or vegetables involved, you may think broadly and include cilantro, cumin and garlic if you main dish is Mexican or Indian, or it can be mustard and shallots if the salad is heartier , or lemon and parsley and green garlic if the lettuces are spring tender( picture above).

basic vinaigrette:
1/2 tsp of salt
1/2 tsp of freshly ground pepper
1 tsp of vinegar
1/2 tsp of dijon mustard
2 tbsp of olive oil

Thursday, May 14, 2009

strawberry compote with thyme

Last week end at the farmer's market, I stopped in front of the strawberries and they looked so red and ripe that I plunged for 2 baskets thinking of smoothies, waffles,yogurt etc....I managed so far to use a basket but, the remaining ones were languishing in their tupperware and losing their patience.some were even getting a little sick.
June had stopped by, bringing a warm- from- the- stove jar of delicious rhubarb with ginger conserve and this morning it got me inspired to turn my strawberries into a compote with fresh lime-thyme. It brought me back to the first time that I used thyme with fruit: we were in the paradise land of the Luberon in Provence, and the property was dotted with figs and abricots trees, the meadows around made of thyme carpeting. The abricots were ripe and went into a tart, the thyme was plucked from underfoot and scattered with sugar on the abricots before baking. The herbal citrusy pine like flavor of thyme is divine with the sugary juices of fruit.

strawberry compote with lime thyme

2 cups of strawberries
1 cup sugar
1 tsp of fresh lime thyme

mix all.let it sit for 10 mn to absorb flavors
cook it on low heat for 12 mn

cool, and jar.
serve with home made greek yogurt (use Strauss organic 0% fat, line a sieve with cheese cloth and let the yogurt drip its water content, 2hrs to 4 depending on amount)