Saturday 3 December 2016

Vive la France! Tasty French recipes to celebrate Bastille Day

Published 10/07/2016 | 02:30

Tomato tart with mustard and honey.
Tomato tart with mustard and honey.
Oven-roasted Monkfish with Clams and Herb Ricotta Stuffing.
Round zucchini stuffed with millet and vegetables.
My French Family Table by Beatrice Peltre.

Get in the mood for Bastille Day celebrations on July 14 with tasty recipes from French cook Beatrice Peltre.

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Tomato Tart with Mustard and Honey

I find that mustard is a very French ingredient to add to a tomato tart. My mother often baked a tart similar to this one when I was a kid. The flavour of quality tomatoes is everything in this recipe - it's also one of my favourite summer vegetable tarts.

I prefer to prepare it with yellow, orange, and red heirloom tomatoes for their vibrant colours. This tart is best eaten on the day you bake it, since the tomato juices may make the crust soggy if it sits too long. Not to worry; it's delicious enough that no one will want to leave leftovers. The savoury crust is more neutral in taste than the others I bake, so I like to use it to prepare savoury or sweet tarts.

Note: You can also make this crust by hand following the same instructions.

Serves 4 (2 slices each).

Ingredients

For the savoury crust with oat Makes one 11-inch (28cm) tart or six 4½-inch (11.5cm) tartlets 4½oz/125g millet flour

1½oz/40g oat flour

2oz/55g sweet rice flour

1½oz/40g cornstarch

½ tsp sea salt

1 batch flax gel

8 tbsp (4oz/113g) unsalted butter, diced

2-3 tbsp cold water

For the tart 2 tbsp moutarde forte de Dijon au miel (honey-flavoured Dijon mustard)

1 tbsp crème fraîche

3oz/85g) Comté cheese, finely grated

1lb 12½oz (800g) sun-ripened tomatoes (choose different colours)

1 tsp finely chopped marjoram

1 tsp finely chopped thyme

Olive oil to drizzle

Pepper

Method

For the pastry: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle blade, combine the millet flour, oat flour, sweet rice flour, cornstarch, and sea salt. Add the flax gel and beat on medium speed. Add the butter and continue to beat until crumbles form. Gradually add the water while beating, and work until the dough detaches from the bowl and forms a ball - it will be sticky.

Dust the dough with white rice flour, shape into a 6-inch (15cm) circle, and place on a plate. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Remove from the fridge at least 10 minutes before using if it's too cold.

For the tart: Arrange the crust inside the mould and, using a fork, make small holes in the bottom. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).

In a small bowl, stir the mustard and crème fraîche together. Spread over the pastry. Sprinkle the cheese on top. Slice the tomatoes and arrange over the cheese in an even layer. Sprinkle the fresh herbs evenly over the tomatoes. Drizzle olive oil over the tart and season with pepper; salt should be unnecessary as it is present in the mustard. Bake the tart for 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes before slicing.

Enjoy with a green salad on the side.

Oven-roasted Monkfish with Clams and Herb Ricotta Stuffing

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When I catch sight of beautiful monkfish fillets at my local store, I can never pass them by. The sweet flavour and dense texture of the fish somehow remind me of the meat in a lobster tail — ideal in a dish like this one.

Here, I like to stuff a mixture of ricotta, finely grated zucchini, and fresh herbs between the fillets and then wrap the roast between thin slices of prosciutto for a balance of flavours. Then I cook it en papillote so the ingredients steam in their own juices and the aromas mingle nicely. The clams on the side are a must, as is a piece of your favourite bread to soak up the sauce.

Serves 4.

Ingredients

150g whole-milk ricotta cheese

1oz/30g finely chopped zucchini [courgette]

1 tbsp finely chopped parsley

2 shallots, finely chopped

1 tbsp finely chopped basil

Sea salt and pepper

2 tbsp olive oil, plus more to drizzle

24 littleneck clams

1 celery stalk, diced

2 lemon thyme or thyme sprigs

120ml dry white wine or white vermouth

1½ tbsp heavy cream [double cream]

4 slices prosciutto

2 equal-size pieces monkfish (10oz/280g each)

2 small tomatoes, thinly sliced (makes 8-10 slices)

1 long parsley sprig

Method

In a small bowl, combine the ricotta with the zucchini, parsley, half of the shallots, and basil. Add a dash of sea salt and pepper and 1 tablespoon olive oil; set aside.

Brush the clams under cold water to remove any remaining sand; set aside.

In a frying pan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the celery, the rest of the shallots, and the lemon thyme; cook for 2 to 3 minutes, without browning, until soft. Add the clams and white wine, and cover. Increase the heat. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 to 10 minutes, or until all the clams are open. Remove from the heat and add the heavy cream — you will reheat the clams close to the time you serve them.

Preheat the oven to 420°F (215°C). Cut a 15-by-20-inch (38-by-51cm) piece of parchment paper and three or four 14-inch (35.5cm) pieces of string (long enough to tie around the roast). Drizzle the parchment paper with olive oil. Arrange the strings across the parchment parallel to you and equally spaced to the length of the fish. Place a slice of prosciutto along each string. Top with the first piece of monkfish, perpendicular to you and across all four strings. Season with sea salt and pepper; spread half the ricotta mixture on top.

Top with half the tomato slices and the rest of the ricotta. Top with the other piece of fish. Wrap the prosciutto around the fish and top with the rest of the tomato slices. Lay the parsley across the top, and tie each string so the roast is tightly closed. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the clam sauce and olive oil. Lift the wider edges of the paper and fold them over the top of the roast. Crimp the side edges by pleating them over and over, or secure with string. Leave enough space between the ingredients and the edge of the paper for the pouch to puff.

Set the parcel in a rimmed baking sheet or a baking dish. Bake for 35 minutes. Remove from the oven, open the papillote, and slice the roast into thick pieces. Serve with the reserved clams and sauce, oven-roasted sweet potatoes and a grain such as black rice, my daughter’s favourite.

Round zucchini stuffed with millet and vegetables

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I always look for the globe variety at my local farmers’ market when I want to prepare stuffed zucchini [courgette]. You can also make this recipe with four regular zucchini, halved lengthwise, but the round ones are adorable and can be stuffed so nicely. Serve with a green salad.

Serves 4.

Ingredients

8 medium (about 6½oz/180g each) globe zucchini

Sea salt and pepper

2 tbsp olive oil, plus more for the dish and to drizzle

¼ red onion, peeled and finely chopped

1 tsp ground coriander

2 thyme sprigs

2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

½ orange bell pepper, diced

2 tomatoes, blanched peeled, cored, seeded, and diced

6oz/170g cooked millet

1 oz/30g pine nuts

2oz/60g crumbled feta cheese

2oz/60g grated manchego or Parmesan cheese

1 tbsp finely chopped basil

1 tbsp finely chopped parsley

2 tbsp raisins, soaked in water

Method

Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Oil a 10-by-7-inch (25.5 by 18cm) baking dish.

Cut a small top off each zucchini. Scoop out the flesh (do not puncture the outer skin). Season with salt and pepper; set aside. Keep 1 cup packed (6oz; 170g) finely chopped zucchini flesh. Place the zucchini shells in the baking dish; set aside.

In a sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, coriander, and thyme. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes.

Add the garlic and continue to cook for 1 minute. Add the bell pepper and cook for 1 to 2 more minutes. Add the tomatoes and reserved zucchini. Stir, and season with salt and pepper. Cook over low heat, uncovered, for 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and discard the thyme.

Stir in the millet, pine nuts, cheeses, fresh herbs, and raisins. Stuff the zucchini  with this preparation and put the tops back on.

Drizzle generously with olive oil and add just enough water to cover the bottom of the baking dish.

Bake the zucchini for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the outer skin is tender.

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