Friday, 9 August 2013

Week 27- To market..

Provencal markets
In many ways, the markets of Provence are the inspiration for this year's blog challenge: everything in abundance, everything seasonal, fresh and inexpensive.

It's summer again and I'm back in the land of plenty- between Aix and Avignon- enjoying the wonderful markets and cooking up delicious fresh dishes.

There is so much fresh produce to choose from- and when I cycled home from the market laden with tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, fish, fruit and eggs- I found my neighbour had brought me a basket of bounty from her garden too:
From the land of plenty..

So, what should I cook with all these bountiful things? Well, I opted for a starter of gazpacho soup with bruschetta of caviare d'aubergine. Main course was swordfish cooked on the barbecue. Pudding was fresh fruit three ways.

For the soup, I covered a kilo of ripe tomatoes in a bowl with some boiling water. In another bowl I soaked two slices of white bread (no crusts- save them for croutons) in some water. In a pan I softened 3 cloves of garlic (minced) with 2 shallots, 1 red and 1 green pepper. Slip the skins from the tomatoes, slice them into quarters and take out the seeds and the pulp. Stand those in a sieve over a bowl and press hard to extract all the juice form the pulp. Squeeze the liquid from the bread and then put it, along with the tomato flesh, the garlic, shallots, peppers and a diced cucumber into a blender. Blend until smooth. Pour into a large jug or bowl and season with a tablespoon of red wine vinegar, 2 teaspoons of sugar, a glug of olive oil and lots of salt and pepper. Serve chilled and garnished with ice cubes, some chopped cucumber and some more minced garlic and olive oil.

For the toasts, halve some petits pains, rub them with a clove of garlic and a little olive oil and bake in a moderate oven (170 degrees) for 10 minutes. The caviare d'aubergine is made from aubergines baked whole (again at 170 degrees for 25 minutes or so until tender). Scoop out the flesh, blend it with lemon juice, minced garlic to taste and salt and pepper. Yummy!
Gazpacho Shots with Aubergine toasts

The fish from the fish market is fresh and tasty- if a little expensive. Nevertheless, we went mad and bought swordfish steaks. On the recommendation of the fishmonger, we marinaded them in a little pastis (Pernod) and olive oil before barbecuing.

Swordfish on the stall

On the barbecue

And on the plate!
Barbecued swordfish steaks

Finally, for dessert I used the fruit in 3 different ways. My dinner guest brought melon en brochettes (watermelon and Cavaillon melons on skewers with a sprinkling of verveine- verbena- which set the flavours off beautifully):
Melons en brochettes

I also made fresh fruit jellies with Muscat: bring a glass of Muscat to the boil and then dissolve either some lemon jelly crystals and water or some gelatine and fruit juice in the wine to make it up to 500 ml. Pour into wine glasses and drop in some soft fruit: I used blackberries and raspberries from my neighbour's garden. Allow to cool and then place to set for 4 hours in the fridge:

Muscat jelly with fruit

Finally, a fresh fruit salad with the remaining fruit, flavoured with mint:
Fresh fruit salad with mint

As for the leftovers, the caviare d'aubergine is lovely stirred through pasta with a little grated cheese. I'm also bottling some in sterilized jars to take home.

Caviare d'aubergine

The gazpacho soup makes a great sauce for fish:
Salmon carrozza with gazpacho dip

And finally- even though it's the 9th of August and not the 25th November (official gazpacho soup day for Red Dwarf fans)- we had it piping hot for lunch, served with baguette and Brie!

Hot Gazpacho a l'Arnold Rimmer!

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