Patricia Wells At Home In Provence: Patricia Wells At Home In Provence by Patricia WellsPatricia Wells At Home In Provence: Patricia Wells At Home In Provence by Patricia Wells

Patricia Wells At Home In Provence: Patricia Wells At Home In Provence

byPatricia WellsPhotographerRobert Freson

Paperback | October 19, 1999

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For the past fifteen years, Patricia Wells has been carrying on a love affair with a region of France, a centuries-old farmhouse, and a cuisine. Provence is uniquely blessed with natural beauty as well as some of the world's most appealing foods and liveliest wines Wells's culinary skills have transformed the signature ingredients of this quintessential French countryside into recipes so satisfying and so exciting that they will instantly become part of your daily repertoire.

Here are over 175 recipes from Wells's farmhouse kitchen, including whole chapters on salads, vegetables, pasta, and bread There are simple but imaginative “palate openers,” such as Tuna Tapenade and Curried Zucchini Blossoms, and soul-satisfying soups, with such delights as Monkfish Bouillabaisse with Aroli, Wells's own brilliant interpretation of a Provencal classic. When it comes to meat and poultry, Wells offers earthy daubes, the slow-simmered stews so beloved by the French, and such melt-in-your-mouth delicacies as Butter-Roasted Herbed Chicken You will savor Wells's fish and shellfish creations with recipes like Seared Pancetta-Wrapped Cod. And no meal would be complete without a delight from the treasure trove of desserts here, including Cherry-Almond Tart and Winemaker's Grape Cake.

Illustrated with famed photographer Robert Fréson's captivating pictures, Patricia Wells at Home in Provence is a book you'll want to revisit time and again.
Patricia Wells is the author of five bestselling books The Food Lover's Guide to Paris, The Food Lover's Guide to France, Bistro Cooking, Simply French, and Patricia Wells' Trattoria. She and her husband divide their time between Paris and Provence, where she conducts cooking classes. She is the restaurant critic of the International H...
Title:Patricia Wells At Home In Provence: Patricia Wells At Home In ProvenceFormat:PaperbackProduct dimensions:368 pages, 9.25 × 7.38 × 1 inShipping dimensions:9.25 × 7.38 × 1 inPublished:October 19, 1999Language:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0684863286

ISBN - 13:9780684863283


Rated 5 out of 5 by from Terrific I love Patricia Wells' books. All of them.
Date published: 2017-02-06

Read from the Book

Chapter 1PALATE OPENERS & APPETIZERSAt chanteduc, the aperitif hour signals the end of the work day, the beginning of the play day. Whether it's a lively session with the mason to work out the design on a new bread oven, a social gathering with the winemaker and his wife, or simply a time to catch up on events with neighbors or visiting guests, the end of the day is synonymous with the cocktail hour, the sunset hour. It's then that bottles of anise-flavored pastis and homemade liqueurs, bowls of home-cured olives, thin slices of local black-olive-stuffed sausages, tapenade, and varied cheese spreads are brought out to the sunset terrace, to begin the evening's relaxation in earnest. The following are some of my favorite palate openers, ranging from the simple Smoked Trout Tartare to the elegant Curried Zucchini Blossoms, food designed to assuage hunger as well as stimulate the appetite for what's to come.ANNE'S GOAT CHEESE GRATINAnne Macrae is a Scottish neighbor in Provence who shares my love of simple, big tastes. She served this luscious gratin one spring evening and explained that she devised the recipe when she and her husband, John, lived in an isolated part of northern Provence, in the Drôme. There were no fresh-produce markets nearby, but thanks to neighboring farmers she always had plenty of fresh goat's milk cheese -- known as tomme. Her larder was always filled with the meaty black olives from nearby Nyons, and wild herbs were as near as the back door. In summer months Anne prepares the sizzling, fragrant first course with fresh tomatoes, and in the winter months she uses canned tomatoes. That evening she served the gratin in individual gratin dishes, but I suggested it might be easier to make one huge gratin and pass it around. "I used to do that," she countered, "but people got greedy and never left enough for the other guests!" So controlled portions it is! This dish lends itself to endless variations: Think of it simply as a pizza without the crust. Add julienned bits of prosciutto, a bit of cooked sausage, sautéed mushrooms, or marinated artichokes. It's also a convenient dish when you're alone and want something warm and quick. I always add fresh hyssop, for the Provençal herb's pungent, mintlike flavor blends well with the tomato-cheese-olive trinity.EQUIPMENT: Six shallow 6-inch (15-cm) round gratin dishes or one 10 1/2-inch (27-cm) round baking dishAbout 10 ounces (300 g) soft goat cheese or a mix of rindless soft goat and cow or sheep's milk cheese, cubed2 teaspoons minced fresh hyssop leaves (optional)2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary leaves2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano leaves or a pinch of dried leaf oregano, crushed1 1/2 to 2 cups (33 to 50 cl) homemade Tomato Sauce (page 325), at room temperatureAbout 24 best-quality black olives (such as French Nyons), pitted1. Preheat the broiler.2. Scatter the cheese on the bottom of the baking dish or dishes. Sprinkle with half of the herbs. Spoon on just enough tomato sauce to evenly coat the cheese. Sprinkle with olives and the remaining herbs.3. Place the baking dish or dishes under the broiler about 3 inches (8 cm) from the heat. Broil until the cheese is melted and fragrant, and the tomato sauce is sizzling, 2 to 3 minutes.SIX SERVINGSWINE SUGGESTION: Think of what you'd normally serve with pizza; a pleasant, vigorous red such as a young French Corbières from the Roussillon, a dry Italian red such as a Barbera d'Alba, an Australian Shiraz, or a California Zinfandel.SMOKED TROUT TARTARENot far from our village in Provence there's a trout farm begun centuries ago in the town of Suze-la-Rousse. The farm smokes its own salmon trout, curing it lightly with the local olive oil. I always have the delicacy on hand and love to serve it plain on rounds of homemade toast topped with nothing but snippets of dill from my garden. I also prepare it "tartare style," that is, hand-chopped bits tossed with crème fraîche and dill. The dish is easy to prepare and requires nothing more than a sharp knife and a clean cutting board. (Do not attempt it in the food processor; even if you are careful, the mixture turns mushy. Hand chopping brings out the quality and flavor of the fish that tends to be masked in the food processor.) Usually, no salt is necessary since the smoking process imparts a pungency of its own.This makes a great appetizer served either with drinks in the living room or individually plated and served before the first course. Accompany with slices of toasted bread or with Pompe à l'Huile: Provençal Olive Oil Brioche (page 167) prepared with added fennel seeds.About 4 ounces (125 g) thinly sliced smoked trout or smoked salmon2 tablespoons heavy cream2 tablespoons fresh dill or fennel fronds, snipped with a scissors1. Trim any unwanted bits and ends from the fish. Lay each slice flat on a cutting board and cut into thin, matchstick-size strips, keeping the strips evenly aligned. Cut crosswise into tiny cubes of fish about the size of the fat end of a pencil. (You want a kind of elegantly chunky, not a mashed, tartare.) Toss with the cream and dill.2. Serve on chilled salad plates with tiny mounds of dressed herbs or lettuce alongside. If desired, garnish with additional fennel or dill. Or serve atop slices of freshly toasted bread, such as the variation of Pompe à l'Huile prepared with added fennel seeds.ABOUT ONE CUP (25 CL) OR FOUR SERVINGSWINE SUGGESTIONS: A dry white wine goes nicely with this smoked tartare. Try a fresh and fragrant French Sancerre, an oak-aged California or New Zealand Fumé Blanc, or a California or French Riesling.HERB-CURED FILET OF BEEF: CARPACCIOThis is a fabulous preparation, ideal for those who love the qualities of a classic carpaccio but look for more herbal flavors in their food. Quite simply, a filet of beef is marinated for forty-eight hours in a mixture of sea salt, tarragon, parsley, basil, and thyme, then sliced very thin, carpaccio-style. The herbs permeate the beef, making for a lively, delicious warm-weather appetizer. Note that the herbs need not be stemmed here since they are used simply to flavor the beef and will not be consumed.8 sprigs of fresh tarragon, rinsed and dried8 sprigs of fresh parsley, rinsed and dried8 sprigs of fresh basil, rinsed and dried10 sprigs of fresh thyme, rinsed and dried1 1/2 tablespoons coarse sea salt1-pound (500-g) filet of beef, rinsed and patted dry1. On a piece of aluminum foil large enough to wrap the beef, place half the herbs in a single bed. Sprinkle with half the salt. Place the beef on top of the herbs. Add the rest of the herbs and the salt on top of the beef. Wrap securely in the foil and place on a large plate to catch any juices that might run from the beef. Refrigerate for 48 hours.2. Two hours before serving the beef, transfer to the freezer to firm it up and to make slicing easier. Unwrap the beef. With the tip of a knife, brush aside the herbs and salt. With a very sharp knife or an electric slicer, cut the beef as thinly as possible.3. Serve as you would any carpaccio, with thin slices overlapping on a chilled salad plate, drizzled with olive oil and plenty of coarsely ground black pepper. For a wholesome salad, drape slices of cured beef over dressed arugula, then drizzle with oil and garnish with Parmesan shavings. (I find that the beef stays perky and fresh for three days more. If any is left over, chop it finely, form into patties, and fry it up as a luxury hamburger.)TWENTY SERVINGSWINE SUGGESTIONS: A good choice would be a red Sancerre, a Tavel rosé, or -- if you can find a bottle -- a Ladoix-Serrigny from northern Burgundy, a wine that marries remarkably well with the flavors of rare or raw meat.LOU CANESTÉOU'S CHEESE CHIPSThese cheese chips make an ideal appetizer -- the richness and the saltiness stimulate the palate, as all good appetizers must. I prepare these with the firm Provençal sheep's milk cheese I buy at our village cheese shop, Lou Canestéou. The earthy, buttery cheese (which resembles sheep's milk cheese from the Basque region of France) melts beautifully and rewards the palate with a tangy richness. You will have greater success if the cheese is grated while cold so that the cheese does not clump up or stick to the bowl.4 ounces (125 g) imported French sheep's milk cheese or Dutch Gouda or Monterey Jack cheese, rind removed1. Preheat the broiler.2. With a hand grater, grate the cheese into a small bowl.3. With your fingers, sprinkle 1 tablespoon of grated cheese into a 2-inch (5-cm) round (metal cookie cutter) onto a cold nonstick baking sheet. Take care to spread the cheese out as thin as possible so that it cooks evenly. Leave enough space between rounds to allow the cheese to spread out as it cooks.4. Place the baking sheet under the broiler about 3 inches (8 cm) from the heat. Keeping the oven door slightly ajar, watch the cheese very carefully as it bubbles, turns lacy, and browns slightly, 1 to 2 minutes. When the bubbling subsides, the baking sheet can be removed from the oven. If some of the chips are not fully cooked on the edges, rotate the pan and keep them under the heat until they are done. (If making chips in batches, take care that the baking sheet is cooled before preparing the next batch.)5. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and allow the chips to cool and firm up, 1 to 2 minutes. Using a spatula, carefully transfer the chips to a cooling rack. Serve as appetizers. (The chips can be stored in an airtight container for up to 1 week.)TWENTY-FIVE TO THIRTY CHIPSWINE SUGGESTIONS: The ideal wine here is, of course, a few sips of bubbly pink champagne or try a Clairette de Die from the Drôme.JR'S SHRIMP WITH BASILWhen I first offered cooking classes at Chanteduc, French chef Joël Robuchon volunteered to inaugurate the school. I would have been a fool to turn him down! He came with an entourage and prepared a feast to remember. I was up at 5 A.M. to fire up the bread oven for his homemade sourdough rolls as well as a guinea hen stuffed with foie gras and set on a bed of potatoes, a recipe worked on together for our book Simply French.The lunch began with sips of cool, bubbly champagne and these delicacies: golden, deep-fried Mediterranean pastry twisted around sea-fresh langoustines and dipped in a vibrant green basil sauce. At home, fresh giant shrimp are a worthy substitute. For a festive and elegant winter touch, the basil leaves wrapped around the shrimp can be replaced by thin slices of fresh black truffles. The truffles do a remarkable job of bringing out the iodine-rich essence of the sea.1 bunch of fresh basil, leaves only, washed and dried1 tablespoon coarse sea salt1/2 cup (12.5 cl) extra-virgin olive oil2 spring onions, peeled and finely choppedSeveral tablespoons chicken stock (if necessary)12 large shrimp, peeled and deveinedFine sea salt and freshly ground white pepper to tasteAbout 4 sheets of phyllo dough (cut into twelve 6-inch [15-cm] squares)12 small toothpicks2 quarts (2 l) vegetable oil (peanut or safflower) for deep frying1. Set aside about 12 leaves of basil for decoration. In a large saucepan, bring 1 quart (1 l) of water to a rolling boil over high heat. Add the coarse sea salt and remaining leaves of basil. Blanch for 2 minutes. Transfer to a fine-mesh sieve and refresh under cold running water to stop further cooking and maintain the rich green color. Drain again. Transfer the leaves to the bowl of a food processor and puree. Set aside.2. In a medium-size skillet, combine the olive oil and onions, and cook gently over low heat just until softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the onions to the basil puree and stir to blend. Set aside. (This can be done several hours in advance.)3. At serving time, warm the basil puree in the top of a double boiler set over lightly simmering water. If the basil puree is too thick, add a bit of warmed chicken stock to thin it.4. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper. Place a shrimp at the corner of each square of phyllo. Place a basil leaf on top of the shrimp and roll tightly in the phyllo. Twist the ends in opposite directions to form a bow. Secure by piercing the shrimp in the center of the roll with a toothpick. Repeat for the remaining shrimp. The shrimp should not be rolled in advance.5. Place the oil in a heavy 3-quart (3-1) saucepan or use a deep-fat fryer. The oil should be at least 2 inches (5 cm) deep. Place a deep-fry thermometer and a wire skimmer in the oil and heat the oil to 320°F (160°C). Add the reserved basil leaves and fry until crisp, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove and transfer to paper towels to drain. Season each side of each leaf with fine sea salt. Set aside.6. Bring the oil to 375°F (190°C). Fry the shrimp in batches, 3 to 4 at a time, until the pastry is crisp and lightly browned, about 1 minute. Remove and transfer to paper towels to drain.7. To serve as appetizers, place the shrimp and basil leaves on a large warmed platter. Place the warmed basil puree in a small bowl for dipping. To serve as a first course, place a shrimp on a small, warm plate with a bit of warmed basil puree around it and add a few fried basil leaves for decoration. Serve additional sauce on the side.TWELVE SERVINGSWINE SUGGESTION: Champagne is the ideal accompaniment. For a very festive occasion, try a vintage pink champagne from the house of Billecart-Salmon.TIP: Ever have a problem with food sticking to the skimmer when you attempt to retrieve fried food? It won't happen if you warm the skimmer as you heat the oil.CURRIED ZUCCHINI BLOSSOMSEveryone who has a garden in Provence grows zucchini, and with that versatile green vegetable (which grows from the female portion of the plant) you have the advantage of the showy golden flowers (which sprout from the male portion). The flowers which grow in Provence from June to early September -- are always picked in the early morning while they are still firm and open. At our local farmer's market, farmers sell the home-grown flowers in neat little bundles. One Saturday a farmer offered me a baker's dozen, thirteen. Then he asked if I was superstitious. When I said no, he responded that he was, so he upped the number to fourteen blossoms for the evening's appetizer! The blossoms are extremely delicate and fragile, and should be cooked the day they are picked. Place the stems in a vase of water as soon as possible to keep them fresh and unwilted. If zucchini blossoms are not readily at hand, the same deep-fried delicacies can be prepared with fresh zucchini slices.This batter -- prepared with superfine flour to make sure it is smooth -- is lighter than a classic fritter or beignet batter prepared with eggs. The idea was inspired by chef Joël Robuchon, who has a great love for curry powder and its magical ability to stimulate the appetite. The resulting flavor of these deep-fried blossoms is quite haunting, almost a spicy, caramelized, candylike treat. I usually prepare these with guests in the kitchen so they can eat the delicious blossoms as soon as they are cooked.1 cup (140 g) superfine flour, such as Wondra2 teaspoons curry powder1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt1 cup (25 cl) sparkling water (club soda or mineral water)2 quarts (2 l) vegetable oil (peanut or safflower) for deep frying20 zucchini blossoms (or substitute fresh zucchini sliced diagonally into 1/4-inch slices)1. In a large, shallow bowl, whisk together the flour, curry powder, and salt. Add the sparkling water and whisk only until the batter is smooth. (Overheating will build up the gluten in the flour and make the batter rubbery.) Set aside for at least 10 minutes to allow the gluten to relax. (The batter can be prepared a day in advance and refrigerated, covered, until needed.)2. Place the oil in a heavy 3-quart (3-1) saucepan or use a deep-fat fryer. The oil should be at least 2 inches (5 cm) deep. Place a deep-fry thermometer and a wire skimmer in the oil and heat the oil to 375°F (190°C).3. With tongs or your fingers, dip each section of the blossom (or zucchini slice) into the batter, rolling the blossoms to coat them evenly. Shake off any excess batter, letting it drip back into the bowl.4. Carefully lower the blossoms, a few at a time, into the oil. Fry until golden on all sides, turning once, for a total cooking time of about 2 to 3 minutes. Fry only about 6 pieces per batch. (Make sure that the oil returns to 375°F [190°C] before adding each new batch.) With the wire skimmer, lift the blossoms from the oil, drain, and transfer to paper towels.5. Immediately season each side of each leaf or zucchini slice with sea salt. Serve immediately as an appetizer.TWENTY APPETIZER SERVINGSWINE SUGGESTIONS: I enjoy this with champagne (who wouldn't?), a glass of sparkling white Vouvray from the Loire Valley, or a Clairette de Die from the Drôme.PORQUEROLLES ISLAND TOASTED ALMONDSOne summer while dining on the French Mediterranean island of Porquerolles, we were served a glass of the easygoing local white wine along with a small bowl of these fragrant almonds, toasted with fresh thyme, coarse salt, and a touch of olive oil. I instantly added the almonds to my repertoire in Provence, anticipating the day I could make them with a crop from my newly planted almond trees. In the winter time I prepare these just as guests are arriving: The toasted thyme fills the house with a heady aroma that shouts Provence! loud and clear.2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil2 teaspoons fresh thyme, leaves only2 teaspoons coarse sea salt4 ounces (125 g) unblanched almonds1. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C; gas mark 6/7).2. In a large, shallow bowl, combine the oil, thyme, and salt. Set aside.3. Place the almonds in a single layer on a baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the center of the oven and toast until the nuts are lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven. Immediately add the hot nuts to the oil mixture. Taste for seasoning. Serve warm or at room temperature. The almonds can be stored, well sealed, for up to 2 weeks.FOUR OUNCES (125G) NUTSEverything ends this way in France -- everything. Weddings, christenings, duels, burials, swindlings, diplomatic affairs -- everything is a pretext for a good dinner.JEAN ANOUILHSCRUBBED TOASTSo what's the big deal about "scrubbed toast"? Try it and you'll see. This is my favorite version of this Catalan classic, one that depends heavily on superb hearth bread with a thick, appealing crust, truly ripe red tomatoes, and best-quality anchovies. Be sure to begin by rubbing the garlic along the crusty edge to enhance the aroma and flavor.6 thick slices country bread, preferably homemade1 plump, fresh garlic clove, peeled and halved1 large ripe tomato, halved crosswise12 Salt-Cured Anchovies (page 330) or canned anchovy fillets in olive oil, drained1. Grill the bread -- preferably over an open fire. Alternatively, toast under a broiler or in a toaster. While the bread is still hot, rub one side of each slice with the halved garlic, beginning at the crusty edge and then moving over the rest of the toast. Literally "scrub" the toast with the tomato -- cut side toward the bread -- rubbing until each slice fully absorbs the tomato juice, and the seeds coat the bread.2. Place 2 anchovy fillets on each slice and serve immediately. And don't forget the napkins, for at its best the bread should be dripping with the juicy ripeness of tomatoes. Serve as an appetizer or as a quick snack.SIX SERVINGSWlNE SUGGESTION: This lusty dish calls for your favorite "daily drinking red." Ours is a Côtes du Rhône.The whole Mediterranean, the sculpture, the palms, the gold beads, the bearded heroes, the wine, the ideas, the ships, the moonlight, the winged gorgons, the bronze men, the philosophers -- all of it seems to rise in the sour, pungent taste of these black olives between the teeth. A taste older than meat, older than wine. A taste as old as cold water.LAWRENCE DURRELLSHEILA & JULIAN'S QUICK FOIE GRASSheila and Julian More are neighbors and good friends in Provence, and we've spent many a happy hour together on their lamp-lit terrace with its panoramic view of the mountains and vineyards that dot their village of Visan. In winter months we move indoors near the fire, where one Christmas night they served an instant version of foie gras cured in salt. The preparation demands much less work than a classic terrine, and the resulting foie gras is uniquely unctuous, smooth, and distinctly elegant. This festive dish should be served as a first course with plenty of freshly grilled toast.1 fresh duck foie gras (about 1 to 1 1/2 pounds; 500 to 750 g) (see Note)6 cups (about 1 kg 500 g) coarse saltFreshly cracked black and white peppercorns to tasteCoarse sea salt to taste (optional)1. Prepare the foie gras: With a small, sharp knife, gently scrape away any green traces of bile on the exterior of the foie gras. With your hands, separate the 2 lobes. Place the lobes on a large, clean towel. With the knife, scrape off and lift away the clear membrane that covers the outside of the duck liver. Use the point of the knife to guide your fingers into the underside of each lobe in search of the blood vessels that run down the inside. Wherever sinews or vessels are visible, pull gently but firmly to remove them, using your fingers and the point of the knife to go into the foie gras. You may have to poke around a bit to find the vessels, but work slowly and methodically, handling the liver as little as possible. Trim off and discard any visible blood spots or any greenish parts that would turn the foie gras bitter. Slice each lobe lengthwise into equal portions.2. Pour half of the sea salt into a deep rectangular vessel (such as a roasting pan). Place the pieces of foie gras on the bed of salt side by side in a single layer. Cover with the remaining salt. Set aside at room temperature to cure for 2 hours.3. Remove the pieces of foie gras from the salt. Gently brush away any excess salt with your fingers. Rinse quickly under cold running water, and pat dry with a clean kitchen towel.4. To assemble: Place a piece of plastic wrap larger than each piece of foie gras on a flat work surface. Place one of the pieces of foie on the plastic wrap. Using the plastic wrap to help you push, roll the foie up lengthwise, cigar-style, to enclose the foie gras. Gently twist the ends of the plastic to secure and remove any air pockets in the roll. Repeat for the remaining foie gras. Refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours and up to 6 hours depending on your schedule.5. To serve: Place the chilled roll of foie gras on a flat work surface. Remove the plastic wrap. With a sharp knife, slice 3/4-inch-thick (2 cm) rounds, counting 2 per serving. Place the slices of foie gras on a chilled salad plate and season generously with freshly crushed black and white peppercorns and a fine sprinkling of coarse sea salt, if desired. Serve accompanied by The True Salad Fan's Salad (page 57), a few spoonfuls of Mostarda: Fig & Prune Chutney (page 331), and freshly grilled bread.EIGHT TO TEN SERVINGSNOTE: Fresh foie gras can be ordered from D'Artagnan, Inc., 399-419 Saint Paul Avenue, Jersey City, New Jersey 07306. Telephone (201) 792-0748; or fax (201) 792-0113. Ask for Moulard duck foie gras, A prime. The foie gras arrives vacuum-packed in heavy plastic and has about a ten-day shelf life.Happy is the family which can eat onions together They are, for the time being, separate from the world and have a harmony of aspiration.CHARLES DUDLEY WARNERCRUSTLESS ONION QUICHEThis beautifully golden crustless quiche makes a great Sunday night supper in front of the fire, served with a zesty tossed green salad. I've also served it as a sit-down appetizer at a cocktail party, with a glass of chilled white wine.EQUIPMENT: One 10 1/2-inch (27-cm) round baking dishUnsalted butter for preparing the tart pan1 pound (500 g) onions, peeled3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces; 45 g) unsalted butter1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, carefully stemmedSea salt and freshly ground black pepper to tasteFreshly grated nutmeg to taste4 large eggs1/4 cup (60 cl) whole milk3 tablespoons heavy cream1. Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C; gas mark 7/8).2. Generously butter the bottom and sides of the baking dish. Set aside.3. Slice the onions in half lengthwise. Place, cut side down, on a cutting board and slice crosswise into very thin slices.4. In a large unheated skillet, combine the onions, butter, thyme, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Sweat over moderate heat, covered, until the onions are soft, about 8 minutes. They should not caramelize or turn brown. Taste for seasoning. Set aside.5. Crack the eggs into a medium-size bowl and whisk just to blend. Whisk in the milk and cream.6. Transfer the onions to the prepared baking dish, smoothing them out with the back of a spoon. Pour the egg mixture over the onions. Season with additional pepper and nutmeg. Place in the center of the oven and bake until the top is a deep golden brown and the custard is firm, about 30 minutes. To test for doneness, insert the tip of a knife in the center of the quiche. It is done when the knife comes out clean. Do not underbake or the quiche will be mushy, not firm. Let sit for about 5 minutes to firm up. Serve warm, cut into thin wedges.EIGHT SERVINGSWINE SUGGESTION: I love a light, young Viognier with this, but any good drinkable white will do.VARIATION: To give the quiche a Provençal accent: Just before baking, arrange eight rinsed and soaked anchovy fillets in a pinwheel on the quiche. Separate the anchovies with a pitted black olive.NUTMEG AND DAIRY, A PERFECT MARRIAGE Nutmeg is marvelous in savory dishes as well as desserts. A fruit of the mystica fragrans, nutmeg is so perky that a touch of it showered on stir-fried spinach or a hearty braised daube imparts a sweet spiciness as well as a whole new layer of flavor. The best marriage, however, is between nutmeg and dairy products. The nutty bite of the nutmeg works magic in cutting through the fat of milk, cream, eggs, and cheese. The highest caliber of nutmeg reputedly grows on the island of Grenada in the southern Caribbean. The flavor of nutmeg is richest when it is grated as you need it. The same heady, perfumed aroma and rich, oily flavor cannot be achieved with nutmeg that is purchased already ground.HERB CHEESE LYONNAISEver since my first journey to the food-loving city of Lyons nearly twenty-five years ago, this has been a dish I look forward to sampling each time. The French names for the dish include claqueret and cervelle de canut, which translate as silk workers brains. The name echoes back to the days when Lyons was a silkmaking capital, and the workers ate this zesty cheese every day at the bistros called machons. Generally prepared with a blend of fromage blanc (a smooth French version of cottage cheese), shallots, garlic, and herbs (chives are essential), the spread is also animated by a bit of white wine, vinegar, and oil.2 cups (50 cl) full-fat or low-fat cottage cheese2 shallots, peeled and minced1 plump, fresh garlic clove, peeled and minced3 tablespoons fresh chives, snipped with a scissors3 tablespoons fresh tarragon leaves, snipped with a scissors3 tablespoons fresh parsley leaves, snipped with a scissors1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, carefully stemmedFine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste1 tablespoon dry white wine1 teaspoon best-quality sherry wine vinegar1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oilMixed fresh herbs, for garnish (optional)1. Place the cottage cheese in the bowl of a food processor and pulse once, just long enough to break up the cheese curds. Add the shallots, garlic, chives, tarragon, parsley, and thyme, and process very briefly, pulsing only to blend. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pulse once again to distribute the seasonings.2. Transfer the mixture to a 6-cup (1.5-1) cheesecloth-lined, perforated mold such as a porcelain coeur à la crème mold (or substitute a cheesecloth-lined large sieve) set over a bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least 24 hours and up to 48 hours.3. Remove the cheese from the refrigerator. Discard any liquid that has drained from the mold. Transfer the cheese to the bowl of a food processor. Add the wine, vinegar, and oil, and pulse to blend. Taste for seasoning. Transfer to a small bowl. Serve either as a dip with raw vegetables, as part of a cheese course, or as a topping for an open-face sandwich, garnished with additional snipped herbs. (The cheese will stay fresh for up to 2 days if refrigerated. Bring to room temperature to serve.)ABOUT TWO CUPS (50 CL) CHEESE SPREADWINE SUGGESTION: An excellent Beaujolais cru -- such as a Fleurie or Moulin à Vent -- would be my choice.THE NOBLE SHALLOT The shallot is the most prestigious member of the onion family. Prized by the French for its delicate nature, both cooked and raw, the flavor the shallot adds to any dish falls somewhere between the aggressive tang of the onion and the subtle power of garlic. It is for this reason that this vegetable flavoring has been nobly selected to play a role in such classic French sauces as béarnaise. In recipes where the shallot is to be eaten raw, it is essential that the shallot be chopped as finely as possible. The shallot will release a maximum amount of flavor and be more agreeable to eat in small doses. Finely chopped shallots are also excellent in vinaigrettes or even sprinkled into meat or fish sauces at the last minute to enhance the acidity and flavor of the dish. When buying shallots, avoid any that show signs of sprouting or bruising; they are likely to be tasteless. Be careful to store shallots in a cool place (but not the refrigerator) where they have room to "breathe"; they can spoil easily, and a single bad shallot can spoil a whole bunch.what was paradise but a garden full of vegetables and herbs and pleasures. Nothing there but delights.WILLIAM LAWSONTOMATO CLAFOUTISarWhy limit clafoutis -- that cloudlike creation of fruits baked with a quick and simple batter -- to desserts? This dish, colorful with tomatoes, fragrant with fresh thyme, surrounded by a golden egg-and-cheese batter, is a favorite summertime dish at our house. I have prepared this with both the traditional round and oval (Roma) tomatoes quite satisfactorily. Serve with a light green salad alongside, and you have it made. And need I lecture: Only fresh thyme deserves the honor of this dish.EQUIPMENT: One 10 1/2-inch (27-cm) round baking dish2 pounds (1 kg) firm, ripe tomatoesFine sea salt to taste2 large eggs2 large egg yolks1/3 cup (8 cl) heavy cream1/2 cup (2 ounces; 60 g) freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, carefully stemmed1. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C; gas mark 5).2. Core, peel, and quarter the tomatoes lengthwise. Place the tomatoes, side by side, on a double thickness of paper toweling. Sprinkle generously with fine salt. Cover with another double thickness of paper toweling. Set aside to purge the tomatoes of their liquid for at least 10 minutes and up to 1 hour.3. In a small bowl, combine the eggs, egg yolks, cream, half of the cheese, and half of the thyme leaves. Season lightly with salt and whisk to blend.4. Layer the tomatoes on the bottom of the baking dish. Pour the batter over the tomatoes. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and thyme. Place in the center of the oven and bake until the batter is set and the clafoutis is golden and bubbling, about 30 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature, cut into wedges.EIGHT SERVINGSWINE SUGGESTION: Any daily drinking red is good. My preference is a young Côtes du Rhône.ROQUEFORT DIPHalf-spread, half-dip, I make this when I'm in the mood for a light cheese that has a bit of the Roquefort drama on the tongue. It can be served as a dip for raw vegetables (celery is the best), as a spread for crackers and sandwiches, or as part of a cheese course. Prepare it at least one day in advance to allow the flavors to mellow.2 cups (50 cl) full-fat or low-fat cottage cheese3 tablespoons fresh chives, snipped with a scissors2 1/2 ounces (75 g) imported French Roquefort cheese, at room temperature, broken into piecesSea salt and freshly ground black pepper to tastePlace the cottage cheese in the bowl of a food processor and pulse just to break up the cheese curds. Add the chives and Roquefort, and process briefly, pulsing once or twice just to blend. Season to taste. Pulse once again to distribute the seasonings. Transfer to a container, cover securely, and refrigerate at least 1 day, to allow the flavors to blend and emerge. Bring to room temperature before serving.ABOUT TWO CUPS (50 CL) CHEESETHE LEGEND OF ROQUEFORT The legend of Roquefort cheese tells the story of a young shepherd in the rocky Causses region of south-central France. He left an ordinary lunch of bread and sheep's milk cheese in one of the local limestone caves of the region thinking he would return to it later that day. It was actually several weeks before he retrieved his lunch and discovered an enormous mass of mold. The curious boy tasted the mixture, only to find it was delicious! Ever since, the maturation period of three months to a year takes place in special cool caves in the tiny village of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon. There, limestone cellars eleven stories deep remain an even 45°F (8°-9°C), with up to 95 percent humidity, creating a cheese full of character, perfume, and flavor. The prized bluish-green-veined Roquefort is actually the third most popular cheese eaten in France, on the heels of Camembert and goat cheese, or chèvre.My kitchen is a mystical place, a kind of temple for me. It is a place where the surfaces seem to have significance, where the sounds and odors carry the meaning that transfers from the past and bridges to the future.PEARL BAILEYMARIE-CLAUDE'S ARMAGNAC CHÈVREMarie-Claude Gracia, owner of La Belle Gasconne in the village of Poudenas in southwestern France, is one of my favorite French chefs. She likes to serve this regional preparation as an appetizer with very thin slices of walnut bread and a glass of champagne. The simple combination of fresh, slightly tangy goat cheese, a touch of sugar, and just a few drops of Armagnac make for a surprising -- almost haunting -- palate opener.1 teaspoon light brown sugar, or to tasteSeveral drops of Armagnac or Cognac, or to taste4 ounces (125 g) very fresh goat cheeseIn a small bowl, combine the sugar and alcohol, stirring to allow the acid in the alcohol to dissolve the sugar. In another small bowl, crush the goat cheese lightly with a fork. Add the sugar-alcohol mixture and crush again to blend. Taste. Gradually add additional sugar and/or alcohol to taste. Transfer to a ramekin and smooth with a spatula. (The spread can be prepared up to 1 day in advance, covered, and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before serving.) Serve the spread on ultra-thin slices of toasted walnut bread, toasted sourdough bread, or light crackers.ONE-HALF CUP (12.5 CL) CHEESE SPREADPoets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese.G. K. CHESTERTONCACHAT: PROVENçAL CHEESE SPREADCachat is an unbelieveably tasty cheese spread found at most cheese shops in Provence. The cheesemongers prepare it from leftover bits of cheese, just as the Provençal farmers have for centuries. With the help of such modern gadgetry as the food processor, this is one of the quickest ways I know to give a cheese tray a new, vibrant flavor. In principle, you can use bits of leftover cheese of just about any variety. This recipe serves as a simple suggestion of what cheeses to combine. I serve the spread as the cheese course, as part of a cheese course, or as a snack or appetizer, along with Herbed Green Olives (page 49).About 1 ounce (30 g) imported French Roquefort cheese, at room temperatureAbout 4 ounces (125 g) goat's milk cheese, at room temperatureAbout 2 tablespoons heavy cream1 teaspoon eau-de-vie (such as Marc de Provence)If the cheeses are firm, chop them into small pieces. Place all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and, using a quick on-and-off motion, lightly blend. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary. The mixture should be slightly chunky and not totally smooth. The flavor should be sharp, almost piquant.ABOUT ONE CUP (25 CL) CHEESE SPREADTUNA TAPENADEEach Tuesday our market in the village of Vaison-la-Romaine is filled with olive and tapenade stands, each merchant trying to outdo the other. This recipe was inspired by a green olive tapenade I sampled one morning in July. Explosively tart with the fresh taste of lemon, this tapenade can be spread on toast as an appetizer or used as a dip for raw vegetables, such as carrots or celery; in a pinch it can even be tossed with pasta as a quick last-minute sauce.1 can (6 1/2 ounces; 190 g) tuna packed in olive oil, drained (see Note)4 tablespoons (2 ounces; 60 g) unsalted butter, softened1 cup (150 g) best-quality green olives (such as French Picholine), drained and pittedGrated zest (yellow peel) of 1 lemon, blanched and refreshed in cold water2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice4 tablespoons minced fresh basil leavesWith a fork, flake the tuna in the can and transfer to the bowl of a food processor. Add the remaining ingredients and process only until blended. The mixture should remain slightly coarse. Taste for seasoning. Transfer to a medium-size bowl and serve at room temperature. (The tapenade can be stored, covered and refrigerated, for up to 3 days.)ONE CUP (25 CL) TAPENADENOTE: If the more flavorful tuna packed in olive oil is unavailable, use best-quality white tuna packed in water. Drain the tuna, discarding the water.RUE DE LÉVIS "CAVIAR"Simplicity never ceases to surprise. How can three pantry ingredients combine to create a taste and texture so appealing? I call this "spread" of chopped black olives, butter, and coarse sea salt Rue de Lévis Caviar since I first sampled it at a restaurant right off Paris's Rue de Lévis market and the Parc Monceau in the seventeenth arrondissement, Le Bouchon de François Clerc. The restaurant makes its own crusty whole wheat bread and serves this spread in little crocks at the table, in place of traditional butter. One would think that with the saltiness of the olives, the coarse sea salt would turn it too aggressively salty. Surprisingly, the salt adds just the right bit of texture and serves to open the palate for more to come. Try to use the sel gris de Guerande, the famed unrefined sea salt from Brittany. Kosher salt or refined sea salt here would be too dominant. Do not attempt this in the food processor: The resulting spread will be an unappetizing gray and much too processed. The caviar is most dazzling (no runny streaks of black in the butter) if the olives are fairly dry, so for best results pit and chop the olives and set them aside to dry on paper towels for a few hours before making the spread.2 ounces (60 g) best-quality black olives (such as French Nyons), well drained4 tablespoons (2 ounces; 60 g) unsalted butter, softened1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt, preferably sel gris from BrittanyPit and finely chop the olives. Pat dry with paper towels. Place the butter on a plate and mash with a fork. Sprinkle evenly with the salt and chopped olives. With the fork, carefully mash to incorporate the olives and salt. To keep the color clear and golden, do not overwork. Transfer to individual crocks or ramekins and smooth with a spatula. Serve as you would butter. This is particularly good with freshly toasted whole wheat or walnut bread. (The spread can be stored, covered and refrigerated, for up to 1 week. Bring to room temperature before serving.)ABOUT ONE-HALF CUP (12.5 CL) SPREADANCHOVY-GARLIC CPISPSThese anchovy-garlic crisps are designed to perk up your appetite but not assault it. This is a pantry appetizer that can be made in a matter of minutes. Chop any leftovers into croutons to toss into salads.12 Salt-Cured Anchovies (page 330) or 12 canned anchovy fillets in olive oil, drained1/2 cup (12.5 cl) whole milk3 plump, fresh garlic cloves, peeled and minced4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil4 slices whole wheat bread, crust removed and cut into strips about 1 inch (2.5 cm) wide1. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C; gas mark 5).2. Rinse the anchovies, discarding any visible bones. Pat them dry and chop finely. Place in a small bowl with the milk. Set aside for 15 minutes. Drain, discarding the milk.3. In a small skillet, combine the anchovies, garlic, and oil, and cook over moderate heat just until the mixture is well blended and the garlic and anchovies melt into the oil, 2 to 3 minutes.4. With a pastry brush, brush the strips of bread all over with the anchovy mixture. Place on a nonstick baking sheet and toast until well browned, turning the bread from time to time, about 5 minutes.5. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and transfer the strips of bread to a rack to cool. The crisps are good warm or at room temperature. They can be stored in an airtight container for up to 1 week.ABOUT TWENTY APPETIZER SERVINGSLEMON-FLECKED OLIVESThe rich, meaty tastes of olives and anchovies pair well with the sharp tang of preserved lemons. Here, best-quality anchovy-stuffed olives are tossed with flecks of home-preserved lemons, making for an instant and unusual palate opener. Guests never fail to ask, "What did you add to these olives?" -- and then demand the recipe.3 slices preserved lemon plus 1 tablespoon liquid from the jar of Preserved Lemons (page 319)1 cup (150 g) best-quality anchovy-stuffed green olives, drained, or substitute French Picholin olives, pittedMince the slices of preserved lemon and place them in a small bowl with their liquid. Add the drained olives. Toss to coat the olives with the lemon and liquid. Serve as an appetizer. The olives can be stored, covered securely and refrigerated, up to 1 month.ONE CUP (150 G) OLIVESHARISSA-SEASONED BLACK OLIVESFor those who love the flavor of cumin and cayenne pepper, this olive variation is ideal. I often use these to flavor Anne's Goat Cheese Gratin (page 21) for a pleasant, piquant, change of pace.2 cups (300 g) best-quality black olives (such as French Nyons), unpitted and drained2 tablespoons homemade Harissa (page 320), or to tasteIn a bowl, combine the olives and harissa and toss to blend. Taste for seasoning. Spoon the olives into a jar and shake to blend again. Cover and store, refrigerated, for at least 1 day before sampling and up to 1 month. To serve, bring to room temperature and serve as an appetizer.TWO CUPS (300 G) OLIVESON STORING OLIVES When olives are cured -- either with salt, brine, potassium, lye, or ash solution -- they are never subjected to high temperatures. Thus they are a cured, not a cooked, product. If you open a jar of olives or have one that has been in the refrigerator for a while, it is possible that a white film has formed on top of the liquid. Not to worry. Simply rinse the olives and store them in water with a dash of salt and vinegar. For even better results, drain the olives, return them to a sterilized jar, and cover them with olive oil. The oil can be recouped later and used as an olive-infused oil to drizzle over fresh salads and pizzas.BLACK VERSUS GREEN At the earliest stage of maturity, all olives are green, or unripe. As they age and ripen on the tree, they turn from pale green to reddish brown and then to black. Some varieties are better unripe and thus are harvested at the green stage, such as the French Picholine and Spanish Manzanilla varieties. For black olives, French olives from Nice or Nyons or Greek Kalamata varieties are a marvel at full maturity. The darker the olive at harvesting, the higher the oil content, the richer the flavor, the quicker the cure. No matter what the color when harvested, all olives are bitter and inedible and must be subjected to a curing process -- with salt, water, brine, oil, potassium, ash, or lye -- to render them delicious.I know of nothing more appetizing on a very hot day than to sit in the cool shade of the dining room with drawn venetian blinds, a little table laid with black olives, saucisson d'Arles, some fine tomatoes, a slice of watermelon, and a pyramid of little green figs baked in the sun. In this light air, in this fortunate countryside, there is no need to warm oneself with heavy meats or dishes of lentils. The Midi is essentially a region of carefully prepared little dishes.LEON DAUDETHERBED GREEN OLIVESThese olives are typical of the appetizers served with drinks before a meal in Provence. A bowl of seasoned olives and a few paper-thin slices of sausage are all you need at cocktail time. The herb mixture only serves as a starting point, for seasoning can be adjusted to personal tastes. I particularly like the interplay of fennel and cumin seed.2 cups (300 g) best-quality green olives (such as French Picholine), drained2 fresh bay leaves1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, carefully stemmed1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds4 plump, fresh garlic cloves, peeled and crushed1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil1 teaspoon dried leaf oreganoIn a bowl, combine the olives, bay leaves, thyme, fennel, cumin, garlic, and oil, and toss to blend. To intensify the flavor of the leaf oregano, rub it between the palms of your hands and let it fall into the olive mixture. Toss once more. Spoon the olive mixture into a jar and shake to blend again. Cover and store, refrigerated, for at least 1 week and up to 1 month, shaking from time to time for even seasoning. Bring to room temperature before serving.Two cups (300 G) OLIVESCHANTEDUC BLACK OLIVESAt Chanteduc we are fortunate to have a grove of about twenty olive trees with a pedigree all their own. Our property falls within the geographic limits of the famed olives of Nyons, the only olives honored with the French AOC, or Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée. The variety of olive is the tanche, a plump, purplish black fruit that is traditionally cured rather than pressed for its oil. I always pick the olives around Christmastime, right after the first frost. Once I've cured them -- either in brine or in salt -- I like to "doctor" them with varied flavors. This is one of many traditional combinations, with a touch of vinegar to balance the acidity, a good hit of garlic to tempt the appetite, and a touch of garden herbs for fragrance and flavor. The flecks of red pepper and oregano make for a simple, appealing appetizer. You can easily adjust it to enliven the cured olives you buy.2 cups (300 g) best-quality black olives (such as French Nyons), unpitted4 plump, fresh garlic cloves, peeled and crushed2 teaspoons best-quality red wine vinegar1/2 teaspoon crushed red peppers (hot red pepper flakes), or to taste1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil1/2 teaspoon dried leaf oreganoIn a bowl, combine the olives, garlic, vinegar, crushed red peppers, and oil and toss to blend. Rub the oregano between the palms of your hands and let it fall into the olive mixture. Toss once more. Spoon the olive mixture into a jar and shake to blend again. Cover and store, refrigerated, for at least 1 day before sampling and up to 1 month. Bring to room temperature before serving as an appetizer.TWO CUPS (300 G) OLIVESOREGANO, DRIED VERSUS FRESH Oregano is the only herb that I prefer dried rather than fresh. That's because fresh oregano has little flavor and fragrance. Only in drying does the Mediterranean herb truly come to life, imparting a sharp, intense, very mintlike taste and aroma. Be certain to purchase dried leaf oregano (as opposed to the ground version), and rub the broken leaves between the palms of your hands to release its intensity.Text copyright © 1996 by Patricia Wells

Table of Contents



1. Palate Openers & Appetizers

2. Salads

3. Soups

4. Vegetables

5. Pasta

6. Bread

7. Fish & Shellfish

8. Poultry & Game

9. Meat

10. Desserts

11. Pantry


From Our Editors

Best-selling author Patricia Wells takes readers to her Provence farmhouse to experience the true taste of the French countryside. She takes the mouthwatering offerings of the countryside market and transforms them into delicious recipes in her farmhouse kitchen. Recipes reflect the season, freshness and easy preparation and range from All-Star Herb Salad to Monkfish Bouillabaisse with Aiolo to the country’s signature slow-simmered stews in Patricia Wells At Home in Provence.

Editorial Reviews

Gillian Duffy New York magazine ...promises to produce yet another generation of home-schooled experts in pistous and daubes.