Geraniums and Hydrangea by Doorway, Chateau de Cercy, Burgundy, France
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August, from 'The Cook and the Gardener',
Part 2
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"Aļoli intoxicates gently, fills the body with warmth, and the soul with enthusiasm.
In its essence it concentrates the strength, the gaiety of Provence: sunshine."

~ Frederic Mistral

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My Life in France

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Alex-Corton, Burgundy, France, Europe
Alex-Corton, Burgundy, France, Europe
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Recipe Source:

Cook and the Gardener:
A Year of Recipes and Writings
from the French Countryside

by Amanda Hesser, 1999, W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.

"The ancient link between the gardener and the cook is at the heart of this remarkably evocative cookbook, in which Amanda Hesser relates the story of
a year she spent as cook in a seventeenth-century chāteau in Burgundy.
Before long, her culinary life becomes inextricably bound to the seasons of
the Yonne River Valley and to Monsieur Milbert, the seemingly impervious,
charmingly sly peasant caretaker of the chāteau's kitchen garden..
"Along with the recipes comes a wealth of practical advice on everything from storing potatoes to beginning sourdough starter to making cassis. Essays
celebrate the seasons of the chāteau kitchen garden and relate the growing
friendship between the old gardener and the young cook. As Milbert opens
up to Hesser, the reader glimpses the quirky customs and sensible wisdom of
a vanishing way of life in provincial France."

The Cook and the Gardener is the winner of the 2000 IACP Cookbook Award
in the Literary Food Writing category. No doubt you'll agree the award is well deserved. It remains one of our all-time favorite cookbooks.



Summer Vegetables with Three Sauces
(Anchovy, Aļoli, and Garlic Oil)

“Minimalism doesn’t exactly mix well with the ornate French. But a French cook will not argue with the fact that the simplicity of blanched garden vegetables and
a sauce with integrity is beauty itself. That is the idea behind this recipe.
While I have given exact amounts and have specified the selection of vegetables,
by all means feel free to stray from this list. The three sauces – an oily paste of
anchovy and herbs, a pungent aioli, and a warm garlic-scented oil – never knew
a vegetable they didn’t like. With that in mind, this recipe can be made
throughout the year as seasonal vegetables change.
What’s important is to choose a selection of vegetables that are in season and
that contribute a variety of shapes, colors, textures and flavors. While this is
pretty much a no-brainer during summer, it is also quite easy, for instance, in
the September garden. The roots will be coming in for their long sojourn through
the winter, while surface vegetables, such as green beans and tomatoes, will be on their way out. By winter, however, the spectrum of vegetables narrows – try celery root, cardoons, potatoes, carrots, and leeks. August, of course, is prime time to
exploit a vast number of vegetables. Here I have chosen yellow beans, green
beans, zucchini, carrots, leeks, tomatoes and small potatoes.
With the exception of tomatoes (which I have instructed to slow-roast here, but which may be eaten raw), the vegetables should all be blanched. This is a useful display of the difference between the classic cooking methods for roots and
surface vegetables. Roots grow slowly in the cold clammy habitat of the soil. Similarly, when blanched they should always begin covered with cold water;
the water should be brought to a boil and the vegetables simmered until tender.
This way the heat reaches the center of the root at a more even rate. Vegetables grown above the soil, in the sun, need hot treatment: a quick bath in rapidly
boiling water to brighten their colors and strip away the metallic overlay they
leave on the tongue when raw.
One read through this recipe and you’ll think I’m nuts. ‘Three pans and a baking sheet!!’ you’ll moan, ‘yeah right.’ It is absolutely not practical. It can, however,
be doubled, even tripled for a party, and it keeps well so the various components
can be kept for up to three days.
I will admit a shortcut. Sometimes I fill one large pot with water, add root
vegetables and heat it to a boil. Then I drop the other vegetables in, retrieving
them as they finish cooking, but this must be done quickly and thoughtfully. Do
not, for example, put beets in with white vegetables. If you’re a perfectionist,
though, the multi-pot way is the only way.
The vegetables may be served with all three sauces as dipping sauces, perhaps for
a party, or with just one. The sauces, too, are easy to prepare and may be made
ahead of time.
The most pungent and probably the most unfamiliar of the three to the average palate is the anchovy sauce. I first experienced anchovy sauce in a restaurant in Provence. A large white plate filled with colorful vegetables slathered with an incredibly unappealing-looking gray-brown sauce was placed in front of me. I wrinkled my nose at it. Then I tasted it.
The sauce is called anchoiade in French, and although the name, like so many French words, has a forgiving ring, it really is a pungent sauce. The recipe
doesn’t yield a great amount, but its flavor is so racy and strong, a little goes a
long way.
Note that the sauces and the vegetables can be prepared, but not plated, up to
three days in advance. The anchovy sauce will separate, so make sure it is stirred
to re-emulsify the oil before serving.”

Serves 4

8 cherry tomatoes, washed, stems left on
2 tomatoes, cored and halved
4 baby or 2 small potatoes, washed and peeled
(cut in half is using 2 small ones)
3 carrots, trimmed, peeled and cut
into 2-inch lengths
Sea salt
1 zucchini (about 1 pound), trimmed and washed
12 – 16 mixed green and yellow beans,
topped and tailed
2 skinny leeks, trimmed, halved, and washed
1 loaf crusty country bread, cut into thick slices

1 1/2 cups Standard Mayonnaise (recipe follows)
16 cloves garlic

Garlic Oil
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup best-quality olive oil

Anchovy Sauce (Anchoiade)
12 anchovy fillets, packed in oil
6 black olives (in oil), drained and pitted
1 clove garlic
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf
parsley leaves (3 sprigs)
1/2 tablespoon chopped summer savory
leaves (about 2 branches) or
1/2 tablespoon chopped thyme leaves
(about 4 sprigs)
1/3 cup good-quality olive oil

1. Slow-roast the tomatoes [do not include the cherry tomatoes]:  Heat the oven to 250 degrees F. Cut the tomatoes in half like grapefruits and seed them. Brush a nonreactive baking sheet with olive oil and set the tomatoes
on top, cut sides up. Brush with olive oil and season with salt. Place the baking sheet with the tomatoes on the middle rack in the oven and bake for
2 1/2 to 3 hours, until the tomatoes begin to shrivel a bit and are soft and pulpy. Check them about every half hour. If after an hour, you notice that they are drying out, your oven temperature may be a little off, so turn the oven even lower. You want the tomatoes to cook as slowly as possible so
they concentrate in flavor yet remain sensuously soft.
2. As Madeleine Kamman says, first “French” the potatoes and carrots” that is, blanch them to soften them and bring out their color. Place the potatoes and carrots in a medium saucepan. Cover with water, season with sea salt,
and bring to a boil.
3. Fill a large bowl with water and ice and have a slotted spoon ready. The carrots and potatoes should be boiling away in the water. The carrots will brighten in color and will begin to get tender on the edges. You want them
to remain firm and slightly crisp. Transfer them from the boiling water to
the ice water with the slotted spoon as they reach this stage. The narrow carrot tips will probably cook faster than the fatter stem ends. The
potatoes should take the longest, 10 to 15 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, prepare the zucchini:  Bring a medium saucepan of water seasoned with sea salt to a boil. First halve the zucchini lengthwise. (If the seeds are large, scrape them out with the thin edge of a spoon.) Then cut
each half lengthwise again, leaving you with eight thin zucchini sticks.
5. Add the zucchini and beans to the boiling water. Again, you want them
to brighten and soften around the edges, 4 to 6 minutes. As before,
remove the vegetables as they reach the proper stage and add them to
the ice water, along with the carrots and potatoes. When the zucchini
and beans are finished, add the leeks to the water and cook until ten-
der, 4 to 6 minutes. Remove to the ice water, then strain all of the
vegetables into a colander and lay them out to dry on a dish towel.
6. Meanwhile, prepare the sauce or sauces.
7. To prepare the anchovy sauce:  Drain the anchovies. Lay them out on paper towels and pat dry. In a mortar, combine the anchovies, olives,
garlic, and herbs, and crush them with a pestle. (A food processor may
also be used.) Slowly add the olive oil, a drop at a time, until the sauce
begins to thicken. It should be loose and will separate, but this is fine.
Taste for seasoning. You will not need more salt, but you might want to
add some freshly ground black pepper. If the sauce is made ahead,
remember to stir again before serving.
8. To prepare the Aļoli:  In a large mortar pound the garlic cloves to a
pulp with the pestle. Omit the mustard and pepper from my Standard Mayonnaise and add the garlic pulp to the bowl with the salt and lemon
juice. This dressing is quite strong; it is supposed to be. There is no rule, however, against reducing the amount of garlic. You will find that if you
make this in the spring with fresh new garlic, 16 cloves may seem just
fine, but once garlic dries a bit, it becomes pungent and tingly in the
mouth. Use your judgment.
9. To prepare the garlic oil:  In a small saucepan, combine the garlic
clove and oil, warm over low heat, but do not boil, 3 to 5 minutes.
10. This dish can be served in two ways:  as one large serving platter to
be placed in the center of the table and passed around; or arranged individually. To serve on a platter, arrange the blanched vegetables and
the cherry tomatoes on a large serving platter. Pass the sauce or sauces separately in bowls. To serve individually, divide the vegetables between
four plates and arrange them in a fan pattern. (For a dinner party, this can
be done in advance, the plates stacked and refrigerated and the sauce
added just before serving.) Serve the sauces in individual ramekins, or, if serving just one sauce, spoon it over the vegetables at the bottom of the
fan where the vegetables converge, then pass any extra sauce in a
serving bowl. Serve with thick slices of country bread.

Standard Mayonnaise

Makes 1 to 1 1/2 cups

3 large egg yolks, at room temperature *
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Coarse or kosher salt
Freshly ground white pepper
1 to 1 1/4 cups best-quality olive oil
(remember, the taste of the
olive oil will be clearly reflected
in the taste of the mayonnaise)
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

* Egg Safety Information

(Mayonnaise can be made in either a food processor or an electric mixer fitted
with a whisk. I have given instructions for doing it by hand because I find it is
just as quick, and I like to see it thickening with each stroke of the whisk.)

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks, mustard, lemon juice, and a little
salt and pepper, until the salt dissolves and the mixture begins to thicken slightly. Add the olive oil one drop at a time, letting the mixture emulsify
after each addition. As the mayonnaise thickens, you may add the oil at a faster rate, in a very slow, steady stream, creating a thick yellow sauce
with a consistency close to that of tube paint. (If you prefer a looser mayonnaise you can whisk in a little cream at the end.) After all the oil is added, fold in the vinegar with a spatula. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more salt, pepper, or lemon juice as needed. Keep refrigerated for
up to 5 days.

Note: If the mayonnaise breaks (if the oil and egg begin to separate), stop
what you’re doing and take a deep breath. Get another bowl and break a
fresh egg yolk into it. Then whisk in the broken mayo a little at a time. It
should emulsify fine, with no harm done.

Serving Suggestions

To enjoy the simplicity of this vegetable dish, serve it as a first course or
appetizer, followed by other simple foods, such as grilled fish or roasted
poultry. This way, it is a feasible meal to prepare for a casual dinner party.

More Mayonnaise
More Amanda Hesser
August, The Cook and the Gardener, Part 1
August, The Cook and the Gardener, Part 3
August, The Cook and the Gardener, Part 4
More French Veggies:
Baby Yellow Squash and Zucchini
Sauté with Bay Leaf

Baked Summer Vegetables with
Two Cheeses

Eggplant Gratin, Monsieur Henny's
Grilled Vegetables with
Provencal Vinaigrette

Oven-Roasted Vegetable Casserole
(Daniel Boulud)

More Lagniappe Recipes!
More from The Cook and the Gardener
Classic French Recipe Index!
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