Aillade Toulousaine

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A while back when I was making the Beet Ravioli out of the cookbook Mange Tout, by Bruno Loubet, I checked out the other recipes that I had bookmarked. And this recipe really popped out at me, even though it’s not a dish per se, but a sauce.

Actually, this sauce is not really a pesto or a gremolata, and Mr. Loubet suggests serving it with roasted lamb. He unfortunately doesn’t give any history on this sauce, although from the name you can guess garlic and perhaps Toulouse?!!

I was quite intrigued by the ingredients – essentially walnuts, garlic, and herbs.

It’s not the prettiest sauce, but that will be forgiven as soon as you taste it. I made it to top a filet of salmon, but I can see myself spreading this stuff on just about everything.

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One note: If you’re not fond of fresh garlic, cut the amount in half.

Aillade Toulousaine
From Mange Tout

100 grams walnuts
6 large garlic cloves
1/2 sage leaf
1 teaspoon whole-grain mustard
2 tablespoons water
100 milliliters walnut oil
3 tablespoons vegetable oil (I used olive oil)
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon chopped chives
Salt
Black pepper

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Begin by placing the walnuts, garlic, and half of sage leaf in a food processor. Process until the mixture is smooth.

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I honestly didn’t taste the sage because of the strong garlic flavor of this sauce, so I’d recommend using a whole sage leaf. My sage was still alive and thriving outside, but I’m also wondering if the flavor was subdued slightly being that it’s January.

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Add the mustard and water, then drizzle in the walnut and vegetable oils while the machine is on.

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Once fully processed and saucy smooth, pulse in the parsley and chives.

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I didn’t season the sauce until I tasted it. It definitely needed salt. I passed on the pepper.

I pan-fried the salmon in butter, and seasoned it well with salt and pepper. Then I placed the salmon over a bed of lightly-dressed lettuces.

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Then came the sauce. It’s very fragrant of garlic and walnuts, and it just fabulous with the salmon. I can’t wait to have it with beef or lamb.

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Heck, I could have this on roast chicken as well.

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Whatever you serve this room-temperature sauce with, have extra on hand. You will need it!

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Frittata

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Not too many people hear these words from one their little kids…

“Mom, can you please not make any more frittatas?”

Seriously. I guess I got a little carried away for a while making them. I was very creative with frittatas, but still, I guess at least one of my daughters wasn’t fooled. I also remember thinking how funny her request was at the same time. I mean, it’s like a kid asking the mom to quit serving foie gras or oysters on the half shell. Which is exactly why I remember her question to me so vividly.

And yet, I must have overdone it. And I think I know why.

I’d always made omelets and the like for my kiddos because I was passionate about preparing breakfast for them, even though it involved getting up earlier than most other moms. It was worth it to me.

But then I was introduced to this cookbook – The Villa Table, by Lorenza de Medici – and I was smitten.

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If you aren’t already loving the foods of Tuscany, this book will win you over. In the book Ms. Medici has a recipe for a frittata, to which she adds leftover spaghetti. Seriously! And I mean, why not?

You can really put just about anything in an omelet or a frittata, so why not leftovers like a pasta dish! I had so much respect for her for including such a mundane, yet perfectly practical recipe, or idea, if you will, that I think I got a little crazy then, throwing just about everything left over from the previous night’s dinner into the next morning frittatas for my girls. That is, until I was asked to stop.

So I hadn’t made a frittata in years, thanks to that daughter. And I was really kicking myself. When I have some folks visiting, it’s the perfect thing to make in the morning, but I had completely blocked it out! It’s especially handy if you have company because, unlike an omelet, you can slice it up and serve 6-8 people.

There’s nothing mysterious to a frittata. It contains the same ingredients as an omelet, primarily beaten eggs, of course, cheese, and often accessory ingredients as well. These can include something as simple as asparagus, or as involved as leftover pasta bolognese, like I mentioned above.

A frittata is essentially an open-faced omelet – made in the same way as an omelet, except the last step is to place the cheese-topped omelet in the oven for some browning. You do have to take some care with the frittata, however, just like an omelet, to not overcook it. Otherwise, it would be a big rubbery awful mess.

So I’m going to offer up my version of a basic cheese frittata. What else you do to yours is completely up to you. Trust me, once you start adding your leftover pastas or stews or vegetables to yours, you’re going to be making them quite often, just like I used to!

Basic Frittata

6 eggs
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
1 red bell pepper, diced
6 green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 purple onion, diced
1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan, or to taste

Place the eggs in a medium bowl and whisk them well with the cream and salt. My eggs were close to room temperature, but this isn’t necessary. Set aside.

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In the skillet in which you will be making your frittata, which much be able to withstand broiler temperatures, heat up the butter over medium heat. Add the red bell pepper, green onion, and purple onion.

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Sauté the vegetables for about 5 minutes, or until soft.

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At this point, turn on your broiler, and have your shelf on the top of your oven, directly underneath the broiler.

Pour the whisked eggs into the skillet over the vegetables.

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Make sure the hear is at its lowest point. Just like with making an omelet, this process will take some time. Place a lid on the skillet.

After about 4-5 minutes, you’ll see that the eggs are starting to cook.

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I added some leftover goat cheese that I happened to discover. Now, this isn’t in the recipe, but I wanted to show how many different things you can do with a frittata. Before you add the cheese, make sure that the frittata is about 75% cooked; there will still be liquid in the skillet at this point.

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Then I covered the goat cheese with the generous amount of Parmesan. I was in a cheesy mood that day.

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Place the skillet under the broiler. After a minute or two it will look like this, and there will be no liquid left in the skillet.

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I cut this frittata into four wedges, which seems like quite generous servings, but there are only 6 eggs in the whole frittata. You can remove the frittata easily from the skillet if you wish, but I just served them from the skillet.

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Frittatas are fabulous for both breakfast and brunch.

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I’ve also seen in another Lorenza de Medici cookbook that sometimes a wedge of frittata is served between two slices of bread for lunch!

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Personally I will take my frittata without bread.

But now you get an idea of how many different things can be used in a frittata. I could have sautéed any vegetables and aromatics. Spinach and mushrooms can be used as well, but I would prepare both of them much earlier, and drain them of excess liquid. No one wants a watery frittata.

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And I could have used 8-10 eggs in the same skillet for a much thicker frittata, which of course would take a little more cooking time. It’s just what you want in the end. But the key is to cook the eggs slowly, then let them finish off in the oven while the broiler is taking care of melting and browning the cheese. It’s a lovely egg dish!

Charmoula

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Arabic in origin, Charmoula is a wonderful and flavorful condiment for meat or vegetables. It’s slightly similar to Chimichurri, in that it combines garlic with parsley and cilantro. But that’s where the similarity ends.

I’ve never seen charmoula in a jar, but I’m sure it doesn’t taste as good as home-made in any case. This recipe takes minutes to make, so there’s really no excuse to try the real stuff.

There are probably many different recipes for charmoula, but this is the one I’ve seen the most, with cumin, garlic, cilantro and parsley as the major players.

I’ve used charmoula with my home-made Italian sausages, pictured above, with beef and with chicken; I’ve yet to try it with lamb, but I’m sure it would be equally delicious. Maybe next time.

Charmoula

1 tablespoon cumin seeds, I used black cumin seeds
1-2 cloves garlic cloves, peeled, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne, or to taste
1 cup chopped cilantro, fairly well packed
1/2 cup chopped parsley, fairly well packed
2/3 cup olive oil

Toast the cumin seeds in a skillet. Or use your handy dandy seed toaster.

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To prevent losing the seeds when they begin popping as they toast, use a platter screen over your skillet.

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Place the toasted seeds in a small mortar and grind them up a little.

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Then add the garlic and grind until you’ve formed a paste.

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Place this paste in a medium-sized bowl. Add the lemon juice, paprika, salt, and cayenne. Then add the chopped cilantro and parsley.

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Stir well, then add the olive oil. If you prefer a thicker paste, don’t add as much olive oil; you can always add more later.

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To use the charmoula, I decided to take advantage of some Italian sausages I’d just made.

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I cooked the sausages first and then poured the cumin-flavored freshness over the top.

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Now that I think of it, charmoula would also be good over grilled haloumi and vegetables!!! Something else to try!

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