Provençal Cooking

As a wife, one of my responsibilities is to cook healthy, balanced meals with the resources that are readily available. I try to strike a balance with local foods that are both affordable and ethically grown. I have heard it said that when you move to a new country, the last signs of assimilation are found in the kitchen. Before we came here this summer, I decided not to bring any of my own recipes and to try to use ingredients that were abundant here. I bought a cookbook of recipes from the region and have been using many of them. (Although I have to admit, I have been trying very hard to make my own Mexican food here. It’s nearly impossible!)

Part of my responsibilities at Entrepierres include gardening (with flowers, herbs and tree fruits) and baking something for the guests to enjoy as they arrive. At the moment, I’m waiting for some apple muffins (made with apples from the orchard) to finish baking. The other week David and I harvested the apricots and I made apricot jam for the guests. We also picked some sour cherries and made a cherry crisp for one of our community cook-outs.

I have shared a few of these other recipes on the blogs I write for, so I thought I would also share a few recipes here.

honey-lavender-mint
Ingredients for Lavender Mint Lemonade
Lavender Mint Lemonade (An Original Recipe!)

Ingredients

4 sprigs of lavender
8-10 mint leaves
4 cups hot water
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup raw honey
4 lemons
2 ice cube trays
Instructions
Wash the sprigs of lavender and mint leaves and put them into a tea infuser.
Add them to the hot water and allow to steep for 4 minutes; remove from water.
Add sugar and stir until dissolved.
Juice the lemons and add to water mixture.
Add the ice and any additional water/ice as desired to your taste. Since the juiciness of lemons varies greatly, more sugar may be necessary.
Enjoy the delicious purple-tinted lemonade!
Tapenade (From my Provencal Recipe Book)

Ingredients

1 & 1/3 cups pitted olives (green or black, your choice, “gourmet” ones by US standards are best)
as many capers as you want
a bottle of anchovies (if you dare…I chose to skip this ingredient!)
a spoonful of mustard
a spoonful of olive oil
Instructions

Grind the olives, capers and anchovies in a mixer.
Add the mustard and enough olive oil to create a good paste out of the olives.
Serve on little slices of the best French baguette you can find, or use it like a condiment on a sandwich.

Sauteed chicken with capers, olives and tomatoes and homemade tapenade on French bread.
Provencal Sauteed Chicken and Capers (From my Provencal Recipe Book)

Ingredients

2 chicken breasts
1 tomato
2 cloves of garlic
a small spoonful of capers
some pitted Kalamata olives
salt, pepper and olive oil
Instructions

Sautee the chicken in olive oil until the juices run clear.
Remove the chicken from the heat. Leave the remaining oil in the pan.
Add all of the other ingredients and more oil if needed. Stir just until tomatoes are slightly soft.
Add the chicken back in for a minute.
Serve with rice and steamed vegetables.
Tomato Caprese Salad (Courtesy of Wolff’s Apple House)

Ingredients:

½ lb. fresh mozzarella
2 fresh med-large tomatoes
5 sprigs basil
2 tbsp. olive oil
3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
Kalamata olives, if desired
sea salt/kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper
Directions:

Slice the tomato and mozzarella & arrange as above
Chop the basil finely, ornament the mozzarella with it
Arrange kalamata olives as desired
Drizzle the olive oil and vinegar over the ingredients
Add salt and pepper to taste (ideally with a grinder)
Chill for at least an hour, letting the ingredients marinate.

Melon & Salami Appetizer, Tomato Caprese Salad & Assorted Cheeses (to finish the meal).
If you are interested in learning more about the various courses of food in France, take a look at my article on Weaver’s Orchard’s blog.

While I am certainly enjoying learning more about French countryside cooking, I am also looking forward to coming home at the end of the summer and shopping for some of those ingredients that are impossible to find in France.