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Salad Nicoise

Saveur did a great article called “A Road To Paradise.”  The author followed route 7, “France’s most legendary road” from Lyon to Provence with her kids! and husband.  What a brave woman!  It reminded me of a road trip Matthew and I took through Provence staying in bed and breakfasts (minus the kids!) seeing the beautiful countryside and eating some incredible food.

To make the salad niçoise (I don’t want to tell you how much time I spent trying to get the cedilla to work, Yes I know it’s alt + 135!) I needed salt anchovies which  I’ve been looking for for months.  Fox & Obel stopped carrying them to my dismay.  I went onto Amazon but couldn’t find the brand I was accustom to so I tried a new one, pictured below.  They are wonderful! A little firmer then the ones I had been buying and saltier.  I’m happy with them but I do have a lot!  I can only hope they hold up well.

I made the niçoise for Matthew and me before he left for his European tour and it was fabulous.  It’s been so hot here this summer that salad is about all you can eat without falling asleep.  Anyway it’s been a while since I posted anything and I’m trying to get back in the swing of things, so this is short but sweet. Below anchovies I got on Amazon, salad dressing and Salad Nicoise!

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Tomatoes Galore!

Well, I finally got a terrific crop of tomatoes.  I’ve been trying for several years and they are always small and not plentiful.  My brother Steve told me to plant them 26 inches apart because they need room to grow and boy was he right! The hot and rainy summer was a big help too!  The plants are taller than I am, and I just harvested my second batch.

I made  tomato sauce two ways, one was from Richard Olney’s Provence and the other was a Catalan tomatoes and onion  sauce by Jose Andres my favorite Spanish chef.  I’m set for tomato sauce for the winter.

As some of you know I’ve started a new job and I’m finally getting acclimated so hopefully I’ll be able to blog more.  I had a great time in New York last week and have lots to share!

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I had to protect the tomato plants from the local squirrel population by wire enclosures.

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Jose’s sauce on the left, and Richard’s on the right.  I was in the kitchen all day!

The Garden

Well it’s summer and I planted a garden in the backyard.  It’s something I do every year, but this is the most room I’ve ever had.  Too bad they poured concrete over the grass in the middle of the yard.  The grass would help reduce the heat there and be much prettier.

I planted five tomato plants, parsley, cilantro, basil and arugula.  The arugula is growing like wildfire as are the tomatoes. We had an arugula salad the other night and it was so spicy and pungent, lovely.  Arugula is a hard plant to deal with only because it flowers every day. It’s pretty high maintence but I love it, so I pinch it back each morning on my way to work.

There were several perennials in the back yard when we moved in.  One I didn’t pull up because Matthew thinks it’s a peony. But it didn’t bloom, so we’re not sure what it is. You can see it next to the parsley in the photo below. If anyone knows what it is let me know.

I also re-potted a bulb Christianna gave me last year and it bloomed again!  A gorgeous bright orange, which turns into a lovely green plant after the flowers fall off.  I kept it well into the winter last year because we had great sun in the living room.

The tomato plants already have fruit on them, and we had to put screening around them to keep the squirrels away (they’ve already eaten the two strawberries I had).  Now I’m so looking forward to eating the tomatoes when they’re ripe.

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Christianne’s flower gift from last year

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Oh yeah!  Julia is here!                          Parsley and that plant

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Tomato plants

My Tiny New Kitchen

Well, it’s been a while since I last posted.  I started and quit a job after two grueling weeks of training.  Now my search for employment goes on and I’m trying to get back in the swing of things, like writing my blog and getting our new home in order (yes, I also moved during the whole job thing).

As most of you know I love, love my big kitchens, well it’s over for the moment anyway.  This kitchen is so small I had to cut three inches of either side of my wooden wine rack (which I’m using to store things) to fit it into the kitchen.  In addition, there was and still is so little cabinet space we had to buy a wall unit and I have a lot of overlap on the back porch.

Linda put it best as I complained about the lack of space, she said “ it’s good practice for when you move to France.”  No kidding I made rice the other day and had to put the rice maker on the floor because there was no free counter space.  Here are a few pictures:

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The cabinets over and next to the stove (above) were the only ones in the room.

The kitchen is 8 feet wide and 10 feet long, yes really! And if anyone tries to sit in it and talk to me while I’m cooking I really will kill you.

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Eleanor’s Birthday

OK, so I’ve been bad and haven’t written for a while.  I do have a good excuse though. I’ve been looking for a place to live and studying for my insurance license.  I found a small bungalow for rent and we’ve been slowly moving in. On April 1st it became our home.

In-between all of this my mother-in-law turned 75!  My brother-in-law, Larry was in town working on music project and the three of us were going to take her out for Sushi, per her request.  About a week before Matthew received a phone call from his older brother Jeffrey who lives in Brookline, Mass with his partner Leslie and their daughter Tova (Miss fabulous).  Jeff thought it would be a great idea to have a surprise birthday party for Eleanor and invite some of her best friends.  We all agreed that it was a great idea and started making phone calls, everyone was very excited about it.  We were able to get three out of five to be present at the party.

For hors d’oevres we had a sushi tray from the Lawrence Fish Market and Asian deviled eggs which I made. For the entrée I cooked Mediterranean sea bass and a vegetable paella with an aioli sauce which was so good that I think it deserves its own blog.

Everyone was in place on the appointed night and Larry and Eleanor arrived at our house around 7p.m. and when she walked into the dining room I thought she’d fall over!  Her very best friends Anne and her husband Walter and Andrew were sitting there smiling at her.  We had a toast and let the games begin!

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The Birthday girl                             Andrew enjoying a cocktail

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Dinner                                          Larry toasting his Mom

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Andrew, Anne and Eleanor               Anne and Eleanor

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Eleanor blowing out the candle       Me (Tina)

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Group shots (from left to right)

Left photo: Anne, Andrew, Larry, Eleanor, Tina and Walter

Right photo: Anne, Andrew, Matthew, Eleanor, Tina and Walter

Lawrence Fish Market

Lawrence Fish Market is located on the northwest side of Chicago in a neighborhood known as Albany Park.  It’s a true hole in the wall that most people would walk right by.  The glass windows in the storefront are nondescript and often there are Korean newspapers and magazines in them.  They have a small blue and yellow sign that’s barely visible. Upon entering the store you are greeted by the sight of a car seat where the owner can often be found taking a nap. He also sells fish to some local sushi restaurants.

A co-worker of mine used to date his son and I stopped with her on the way home from work one day.  She was having family over and had ordered ahead.  I was really surprised at the platter of fish she came out with.  A few weeks later my husband and I gave them a try, and it was really very good and beautifully displayed, and the price was right!  I will say that it can be hit or miss.  I have had a few meals that were just ok, but overall if you’re in the mood for some carry out sushi, give it a try and don’t be afraid of the way the place looks.  Call ahead, but not hours ahead because you don’t want the fish to be just sitting there waiting for you.  Bring cash.  They don’t except credit cards.

Lawrence Fish Market

3914 N. Lawrence Ave

773-267-6838

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Rabbit by Vincent

Here it is finally!  I received the e-mail over the weekend from the master of rabbit himself!  I have to warn you that I’m not confident that this will work with a frozen American rabbit.  The rabbit we purchased in France was fresh and large and included a liver the size of a golf ball, which he cooked along with the rabbit.  There are sources for farm raised rabbits http://heritagefoodsusa.com but they can be expensive.  Also he doesn’t measure anything so it’s not possible to give you exact portions.

INGREDENTS

Rabbit cut up

French mustard

Heavy cream

Fresh thyme

Mushrooms

Flour

Olive oil

Salt & Pepper to taste

Linguini pasta

Sauté a pound of mushrooms in a little olive oil and set aside.  Salt, pepper and flour the rabbit, shaking off any excess flour.   Heat a little olive oil in a skillet large enough to hold the rabbit and mushrooms comfortably.  Brown the rabbit. Once it is browned, start smearing the mustard all over the rabbit and add a large branch of thyme and a glass of water. Cook for 10 minutes turning the rabbit.  After 10 minutes start gradually adding the cream and more mustard until the sauce looks nice and thick and you think you have enough to cover the rabbit and the pasta. (I will say that I think you will be using a lot of cream and mustard because there was a lot of sauce when he made it for us.) That should take around 20 minutes.  Add the sautéed mushrooms and let it simmer on low heat for about 40 minutes or until the rabbit is tender.  Meanwhile prepare the pasta in the usual manner and set aside.  When the rabbit is done serve over pasta and enjoy!

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