Brandade de Morue (Salt Cod Purée)

This specialty of Nimes was a common lunch item when we were growing up near Avignon. My mother would prepare it the night before, place it in the oven in the morning prior to leaving for school/work, and program the oven so that it would be ready to be served when we got back home for lunch. Back then every business closed religiously for lunch, and schools were on the same schedule. My parents picked us up from school at noon, we drove home to share lunch, my brothers and I would breathe the fresh air and play in the garden while my parent enjoyed their after lunch expresso, then they would drive us back in time to start at 2pm for the afternoon. Our school days typically ended at 4:30-5pm when we would come back home for ‘le gouter’.
As children, we LOVED coming home to this dish, even though it might contain a bit of garlic for the unaccustomed palate, this was the diet we grew up on: garlic and olive oil.
20131027-142830.jpg This dish can be served either as an appetizer, along with some grilled sliced baguette, or as an entrée, accompanied by other seasonal vegetables. Here I simply cut up some crudités to be used more as a ‘dip’, however, if you want a more authentic version and original flavors, I suggest you served this dish with toasted baguette the first time you make it.
20131027-142916.jpgIngredients for 4 servings:
1 lb salt cod, skinless and boned
1 lb potatoes
1 1/4 cups almond milk
3/4 cup olive oil
8 garlic cloves
a few springs of fresh parsley
juice of 1 lemon
zest of 1 lemon
Freshly ground black pepper
2 oz parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 400 F
Rinse and soak salt cod a full 24 hours before starting the preparation of this recipe, changing the water at least 4 times.
20131027-142955.jpgAfter soaking the salt cod (see instructions above), drain and rinse.
20131027-143051.jpgPeel, wash and cut the potatoes in large chunks.
20131027-143232.jpgPlunge the potatoes in a large pot of salted boiling water, return to a boil and keep cooking about 10-15 minutes at a rolling boil until the potatoes are tender. Drain, set aside.
20131027-143400.jpgPeel and cut the cloves of garlic in half. Remove the center part. Set aside.
20131027-143437.jpgZest and juice the lemon.  Set aside.

20131027-143519.jpgChop parsley finely.  Set aside.

20131027-143802.jpgPlace the salt cod in a large pot of cold water, bring to a simmer (do not boil), and drain and reserve.

20131027-143844.jpgHeat the almond milk and garlic in a separate pot.

20131027-143926.jpgAdd the salt cod, bring to a simmer, and continue simmering for about 10 minutes.

20131027-144008.jpgPlace the cod, garlic, half the almond milk, potatoes, lemon juice, lemon zest in a food processor fitted with a steel blade and process till smooth, periodically adding more liquid from the almond milk.

20131027-144150.jpgHeat the olive oil and pour in the mixture through the feeder.  Keep processing until completely blended.

20131027-144230.jpgWhen all the ingredients are fully blended, (there should be no lumps from the potatoes), transfer to a large bowl.

20131027-144316.jpgAdd the parsley and black pepper and mix well with a wooden spoon.

20131027-144412.jpgBrush oil on the bottom and sides of 4 individual ramequins or cocottes (showing more on this photo because I doubled the recipe).

20131027-144521.jpgFill the cocottes almost to the top.  This preparation does not rise, so be sure to fill them as much as possible.

The recipe can be prepared ahead up to this point.  If this is so, cover the cocottes and refrigerate, up to one day, until ready to bake.

20131027-144710.jpgFreshly grate the parmesan finely.

20131027-144952.jpgSpread evenly over the top of each cocotte.

20131027-145201.jpgPlace in the preheated oven for about 15-20 minutes, till the tops are golden.

If you had refrigerated the cocotte, you’ll need to bake them a bit longer, maybe another 10 minutes until they turn golden.

20131027-145308.jpg Enjoy!

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Anchoïade

This traditional summery sauce is served with crudités, which are basically raw vegetables. Usually some radishes, fennel, Belgium endive, or any other crisp vegetable you enjoy eating raw. It can be served as an appetizer, on a large platter shared between guests, or as a light lunch on individual plates.

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Infused with garlic and anchovies as the main ingredients, anchoïade is a rather strong flavored sauce. Only a small amount suffices to fully savor its distinct taste.

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Ingredients:
A bunch red radishes
1 fennel bulb
2 carrots
1 cauliflower
2 Belgium endives
4 oz anchovies preserved in oil
1/2 cup first cold press extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic (can use only 2 cloves if too strong)

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Clean radishes by trimming the greens and bathing them in a bowl of water, changing it a few times until the water is clear.

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Trim the ends and cut the radishes in halves or quarters. Set aside.

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Wash and cut the ends of the endives to unfold the leaves. Keep trimming the ends that hold the leaves together to easily separate them as you get closer to the center. Set aside.

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Peel and cut carrots in long sticks. Set aside.

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Cut the bottom leaves of the cauliflower and core the center.

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Cut off each floret starting from the bottom, and separate from the main stem going around.

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Cut each floret into smaller pieces. Set aside.

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Wash and cut the fennel bulb in half. Then slice thinly. Set aside.

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Start arranging vegetables on plate.

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Gather the anchoïade ingredients. Again, you may use less garlic and more olive oil depending on your personal preference.

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Peel and cut garlic in half. Place the cloves in the food processor fitted with a steel blade and process till finely chopped.

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Add the anchovies to the bowl containing the chopped garlic and process till smooth.

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Scrape down the garlic/anchovy mixture and place the cover back on top.

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Feed the olive oil through the neck of the cover while processing to fully incorporate. Taste to decide if you would like more olive oil.

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Pour the anchoïade in individual serving dishes.

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Finish arranging vegetables on plates. Place the anchoïade in the center.

20130805-095349.jpg if you are serving as a lunch, you might add a couple hard boiled eggs.
Enjoy!

Root Celery and Grapefruit Salad with Fennel and Avocado

A refreshing blend of root vegetables and tangy citrus. Colorful, crisp and appealing, this salad can be served as an appetizer, or at the end of a meal as a finishing note.

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This dish is prepared in the juices of the grapefruit and requires no additional seasoning, simply dressed with the fennel tips. It contains no fats, no salt and is naturally healthy.

20130331-154647.jpg Ingredients:
1 root celery
1 grapefruit
1/2 fennel bulb
1 avocado

Tools:
Mandolin
Serrated knife
Paring knife

20130331-171932.jpg Peel the root celery, making sure to remove all the ripples with a pairing knife until you obtain a smooth surface. Place it firmly on the prongs of the mandolin holder. Fit the mandolin with the smooth blade on the narrower setting.

20130331-172111.jpg Slice the root celery in paper thin disks.

20130331-172210.jpg Prepare the half fennel bulb the same way and set aside.

20130331-172307.jpg Cut the avocado in half, remove the pit and scrape the whole half of the avocado out of its skin with a spoon. Slice each half thinly.

20130331-172816.jpg You can start to assemble the plates by displaying the celeriac slices in an overlapping fashion. Add a few slices of the avocado.

20130331-172911.jpg Prepare the grapefruit by cutting the outer skin around it with a serrated knife all the way down to the flesh. Cut all the way around until the grapefruit flesh is entirely exposed.

20130403-184614.jpg Place the knife by the inner membrane to slice down to the core of the grapefruit.

20130403-184735.jpg Continue cutting on either side of the membranes to free the individual sections of the grapefruit.

20130403-184830.jpgPlace a few slices on top of the celeriac on each plate.

20130403-184850.jpg Arrange a few ribbons of the fennel bulb on top.

20130403-184915.jpg Add a few tips from the fennel branches and squeeze the juices that remain in the inner part of the grapefruit over the celeriac.

20130403-185102.jpg That’s it! Enjoy!