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VIVIANE BAUQUET FARRE 

food & style

 

seasonal, modern, exuberant

 

 

Hosting an elegant, flavorful, vegan, gluten-free dinner party?

 

Last March an email from a dear friend, blogger Amy Wilson, landed in my inbox. The title read: “I have a puzzle for you”…. Intrigued, I read on excitedly. It was all about an upcoming dinner party. But it wasn’t your run-of-the-mill dinner party. The menu for this special celebration of her husband’s birthday had some “serious limitations.”

 

“Here’s the rub” Amy wrote. Three couples were coming over and all four men (her husband included) had just declared they all wanted to be vegetarians. As if this wasn’t enough of a challenge, the menu also had to be vegan and gluten-free — and no spinach, mushrooms, celery or rice could make an appearance.

 

“Is there a menu for an elegant dinner party that can accommodate these restrictions?” Amy asked tentatively. The answer, of course, was a resounding yes. In fact, it wasn’t hard for me to come up with a menu for Amy’s party. All I had to do was to focus on the fresh vegetables and fruits that are in season in the spring and the menu came together on its own.

 

I was able to send her links from this blog for several options for each course, so she could look at them and choose her menu. Before long, Amy was at her farmers’ market, stocking up on asparagus, peas, cucumbers, carrots, strawberries… all the fresh ingredients she needed for her dinner. And Amy did a superb job. She recounted every step of her journey in her wonderful blog.

 

Amy’s enthusiasm is contagious and I love the way she has made the recipes her own. “It was a smashing success! Your recipes were perfect and actually really easy. That was the revelation,” she wrote to me the week after the party. “I’m going to roast asparagus every day now. It’s like fast food it’s so easy.”

 

MARINATED OLIVE WITH FENNEL

 

By Viviane Bauquet Farre of food and style

 

1/2 small fennel bulb
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fennel greens
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 strips lemon zest – (use vegetable hand-peeler) and cut in 1/16” julienne strips
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 1/4 lb mixed olives
(Makes 2 cups)

 

1. Trim and cut fennel bulb in half. Using a vegetable hand-peeler, shave 12 strips from the bulb and put in a large bowl. Place the balance of ingredients in the same bowl. Mix well and transfer to a Tupperware container.

 

2. Let marinate at room temperature for 1 hour before serving.

 

Cook’s note: Refrigerate up to 1 month. Bring to room temperature before serving.

 

 

AVOCADO AND CUCUMBER CEVICHE

 

By Viviane Bauquet Farre of food and style
(I have changed the recipe slightly by chopping the vegetables differently.) 
See
Viviane’s version here.

 

Normally, when one thinks of ceviche, raw seafood that has been cured in a citrus marinade is what comes to mind. Well, this is a vegetarian version ceviche. It’s an incredibly light dish, perfect for spring and summer gatherings and it is incredibly easy to make. I prepped all of the vegetables ahead of time except for the avocado because I didn’t want it to turn brown. I waited until just before I assembled the dish to cut the avocado. Drizzling it with a lime-based marinade helps keep it from browning, but it’s important for the avocado to be fresh nonetheless.

 

The tabasco sauce in the marinade does give it a little kick. If your guests like spice, you can heat up it even more by adding another 1/4 tsp. For me, it was just perfect.

 

I remembered having traditional ceviche served in a martini glass at a restaurant in San Francisco and I wanted to recreate that effect here, but you could just as easily serve it in a shallow bowl or on a salad plate. Viviane’s presentation is quite different from mine, but truly beautiful. Here is a link to her post.

 

For the dressing:
1 small shallot – skinned and finely chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

 

For the ceviche:
1/2 of a (seedless) English cucumber, peeled and diced
2 medium tomatoes – seeded and cut in 1/8″ cubes
1/2 ripe but not-too-soft avocado – pit removed, skinned and cut into small cubes
Cilantro sprigs as garnish

(Serves 6)

 

1. To make the dressing, place all ingredients except the olive oil in a small bowl and toss. Gradually whisk in the olive oil, beating continuously to create an emulsion. Set aside.

 

2. Toss a large spoonful of cucumber into a martini glass or shallow bowl. Place a spoonful of tomato cubes on top of the cucumber and a spoonful of avocado cubes on top of that. Drizzle with dressing and toss a bit to coat. Garnish with a sprig of fresh cilantro. Serve immediately.

 

Cook’s note: This recipe can also be served as a side salad. Instead of serving it in individual small plates, serve it in a large platter.

 

 

ARTICHOKE VELOUTÉ WITH BLACK TRUFFLE CARPACCIO

 

By Viviane Bauquet Farre of food and style

 

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium Vidalia or Spanish onion – skinned, quartered and thinly sliced
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 garlic cloves – skinned and finely chopped
8 oz Yukon gold potato (1 large) – peeled and cut in 1/2” cubes
2 8oz boxes of frozen artichoke hearts
2 1/2 cups vegetable stock
2 1/2 cups spring/filtered water
1 1/4 teaspoons sea salt or to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste
8 Italian parsley sprigs & 6 thyme sprigs – tied in a bundle with kitchen string
1/2 – 2.82 oz jar Black Truffle Carpaccio or truffle oil as garnish
1/4 cup finely chopped chives as garnish
(Serves 6 - Makes 8 cups)

 

1. Heat a large heavy-bottomed soup pot at medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and onion, stir well and sauté for 5 to 6 minutes, until just golden, stirring from time to time. Add the garlic and wine. Stir well and continue to sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, until the wine has reduced to a syrupy sauce and has almost all evaporated. Add the potato cubes, frozen artichokes, stock, water, salt, pepper to taste and herb bundle. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover the pot and slow-simmer for 40 minutes until the artichokes are very tender. Remove the herb bundle and discard.

 

2. Purée the soup with a stick blender, food processor, or blender until very smooth. Strain in a sieve and return to the soup pot and gently re-heat at medium heat. Taste and season with salt and pepper if needed.

 

3. Ladle the soup into soup bowls, put a spoonful of black truffle carpaccio (or a spoonful of truffle oil), garnish with a swirl of extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkling of fresh chives and serve immediately.

 

Amy’s tip: Viviane recommends straining this soup through a medium sieve. I own a fine sieve but not a medium one. It was time-consuming to strain it through the fine sieve as she warned ,but I was glad I did it anyway. I used a wooden spoon to press it through and just tried to stay patient.

 

 

ROASTED ASPARAGUS WITH PINK GRAPEFRUIT, PINE NUTS AND LEMON INFUSED OIL

 

Adapted from the recipe by Viviane Bauquet Farre of food and style
See her original recipe here.

 

So far in this dinner, we’ve enjoyed cucumber and avocado ceviche, and slurped down an artichoke soup with truffles on top. Now we’re ready for a scrumptious early Spring salad, so Viviane’s Roasted Asparagus with Grapefruit is just the thing. Here’s what I learned by making this recipe: It is soooo easy to make and it is easy to prepare ahead of time, when it was time for this course, I could truly relax. All I had to do was plate everything and drizzle it with oil.

 

The other revelation I had while making this recipe is just how easy it is to roast asparagus. Brush the spears with a little olive oil, pop them into an oven preheated to 500˚F and 7-10 minutes later you’ve got roasted asparagus. No careful chopping, no peeling, no long wait. It’s like fast food. Well, sort of.

 

 

Watch Viviane’s video for more tips on roasting asparagus and to watch her demonstrate how to prepare grapefruit slices with no pith or membrane in sight. Again, now that I’ve done it once, I want to do it this way all the time. My kids love eating citrus in our house now because I prepare for them this way now.

 

1 large Texas Rio Star grapefruit
1 1/4 lbs asparagus spears – washed and stem snapped
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon sea salt or to taste
2 tablespoons pine nuts
4 teaspoons lemon infused oil as garnish
A bit of lemon zest for garnish
freshly ground black pepper to taste

 

1 large jellyroll pan
(Serves 4)

 

1. Peel the grapefruit down to the flesh, Quarter lengthwise and remove the thin membrane around each slice, being careful not to break them. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

 

2. If your pine nuts are raw, preheat the oven to 425˚F. Place the pinenuts on a baking sheet and roast for about 2 minutes, but watch carefully through the window to make sure they don’t burn. Set aside.

 

3. Increase oven temperature to 500°F. Move rack to the top of the oven. Spread the asparagus on a jellyroll pan. Brush with the olive oil and sprinkle with the salt. Bake for 7 to 10 minutes (depending on their size) until the tips begin to brown. Remove from pan and let cool for 10 minutes.

 

4. Place a bundle of asparagus in the center of each plate. Top with 3-4 grapefruit slices and sprinkle with the pine nuts. Drizzle with the lemon oil and finish with a bit of fresh lemon zest and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

 

SPRING VEGETABLES BRAISED IN OLIVE OIL, 
WHITE WINE AND SAFFRON

 

 

 

For this course, I got to experiment with fresh vegetables from the farmer’s market I’ve been dying to use, like English peas and fava beans. If you’re going to choose between the two, English peas are way easier to prepare. You just have to pop the peas out of the pod and they’re ready to go. Fava beans, on the other hand, require several steps. The beans within the pods are coated with a little jacket that needs to be removed as well. For this recipe, I actually prepared both and it took all day. Luckily, I was able to stream three episodes of This American Life while I shucked, blanched and peeled.

 

I prepared the fava beans by following the first part of a recipe by LocalLemons. First I had to remove the beans from their pods. Rinse them. Blanch them for 30 seconds and then pull off the outer layer from each bean. The inner bean is bright green and more fragile. After 3 hours of work, I forgot to photograph the bright green inner beans, but you can see what they look like over at the LocalLemons post. Here’s what they look like during step one and two.

 

This dish is truly scrumptious. It is lighter than risotto because there is no butter and no Parmesan cheese, but the saffron, wine and garlic more than make up for flavor. I would make this dish again in a minute and look forward to varying the vegetables depending on what’s in season.

 

SAFFRON AND WHITE WINE BRAISED SPRING VEGETABLES

 

Adapted from the recipe by Viviane Bauquet Farre of food and style
Served over Quinoa-Millet Pilaf (version also included below

 

For the vegetables:
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 large shallots – skinned, quartered and finely sliced
1 teaspoon saffron threads – gently pounded in a mortar to a coarse powder
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
2 garlic cloves – skinned and finely chopped
2 medium, young carrots – peeled and cut in 1/8″ x 1″ sticks
4 oz shelled fresh English peas
8 oz asparagus – stalk ends snapped off and spears cut on the diagonal in 1″ pieces
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
A handful of fresh baby arugula

 

For the quinoa-millet pilaf:
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1-2 shallots, diced finely
1 clove of garlic, peeled and bashed
½ cup millet
½ cup quinoa (rinsed well)
2 ½ cups vegetable stock
Sea salt to taste (about 1/2 tsp)
About a cup of shelled fava beans

(Serves 4)

 

1. To get the quinoa-millet pilaf started, put the quinoa in a fine-mesh strainer and place a bowl underneath. Rinse with cold water while rubbing the quinoa between your fingers. The water will become cloudy. Drain, and repeat this process with fresh water two more times. Strain excess water and set aside. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots and sauté for about 4 minutes, or until soft. Add the garlic and sautée for another minute. Now we are going to toast the grains so that they have a rich, nutty flavor. Add the millet, and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Now add the quinoa and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes more. Again, stirring frequently to coat the grains with the olive oil, shallots and garlic. Add the vegetable stock and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer, covered for about 30 minutes, or until the water is absorbed. Fluff before serving.

 

2. Now that the quinoa-millet is cooking, it’s time to do the vegetables. Heat the olive oil in a wide, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes until they have softened. Add the wine, saffron, and garlic. Bring to a full boil and then reduce heat to between medium and medium-low. Cover the pan and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the carrots, toss well, cover the pan and simmer for 10 minutes. During my dinner party, I actually paused the dish here while we were eating and the carrots steeped in the saffron-wine-garlic sauce (with no heat) for about 20 minutes. This had the delightful effect of infusing them with intense saffron flavor. You could try it that way.

 

3. Add the peas and asparagus, toss well, cover the pan and continue to simmer for 5 minutes until the asparagus are tender but still a bit crunchy. Uncover the pan. Raise heat to high, add the salt, black pepper to taste and the arugula. Toss until the arugula has wilted, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Immediately remove from heat.

 

4. To serve, spoon the pilaf into shallow bowls. Top with the braised vegetables. Drizzle with the pan juices. Garnish with a drizzle of olive oil. Serve immediately.

 

Optional fava bean addition:
Sauté the fava beans over medium high heat in a separate sautée pan, with some olive oil and pepper for about 3 minutes. Serve as a garnish on top.

 


STRAWBERRY SORBET

 

A recipe by Viviane Bauquet Farre of food and style
See her original recipe here.

 

StrawberriesStrawberries are in season again in California so I was able to purchase an entire flat of strawberries at the Mill Valley Farmer’s Market for $20 bucks. That’s 12 pints, people. Love it. So I made strawberry sorbet, strawberry ice cream, strawberry sandwiches, you name it.

 

To make the sorbet, I had to take a plunge I’ve been contemplating for years. I bought a Cuisinart ice cream machine.

 

I’ll be able to make sorbet, ice cream, frozen yogurt and other frozen desserts (remember sherbet)? This is going to yield fun all summer long. And I can’t wait to make pumpkin pie ice cream next fall.

 

But back to the sorbet.

 

I learned a few things about my new ice cream maker. The insulated “chilling chamber” needs to be in the freezer overnight before using it. The model I purchased (click on the photo above) came with two chilling chambers and at first I thought, “What do I need two for?” Well, as it turns out, it’s helpful to have two because if you use one to make ice cream, then it’s at least a day before you can use it again. Even still, I thought, when am I going to need to make more than one batch of ice cream in a 24-hour period? Well, for the dinner party (12 guests), I felt compelled to make two batches and I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the extra chilling chamber.

 

I held off on adding Grand Marnier. The flavor of the strawberries jumped out of the dish all by themselves. The maple syrup made it just sweet enough. I served mine with a little piece of dark Sharfenberger chocolate: the perfect complement.

 

Ingredients:
1 1/2 lbs ripe strawberries – washed and hulled
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup Grand Marnier
2/3 cup maple syrup (grade A or B)
Mint leaves as garnish

(Makes 3 to 3 1/2 cups)

 

1. Place the strawberries, lemon juice, Grand Marnier (optional) and maple syrup in the bowl of a food processor (I used a blender). Process at high speed with a steel blade until ingredients are very smooth, about 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate until well chilled, about 2 hours to overnight in the refrigerator or 45 minutes in the freezer.

 

2. Pour the chilled strawberry purée into the ice-cream maker and freeze according to the instructions of your ice-cream machine.

 

3. Scoop sorbet in glass bowls or cocktail glasses and top with fresh mint leaf. Serve immediately. (Or put in an airtight container and store in the freezer. You may need to allow the sorbet to soften for about 10 minutes for trying to scoop it and serve).

 

Hosting an elegant, flavorful, vegan, gluten-free dinner party

 

Amy is also the host of Streaming Gourmet, the most comprehensive cooking video site on the internet. You’ll love every minute of your visit.

 

© 2010 viviane bauquet farre – food & style NY LL
Amy Wilson - Streaming Gourmet http://blog.streaminggourmet.com


 
 

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