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Friday, September 17, 2010

The Petit Beat: Rainy Days, Ratatouille, and French Organic Wine

Today was our first rain in the South, and although I'm a bit sad to see summer go, I'm also excited to welcome fall.  Colder months mean warm sweaters, fuzzy slippers, and hearty Provençal dishes to cook & eat. Nothing beats curling up in front of a good dvd with a warm cup of stew.  In that case, this would mean a daube - a Provençal stew made with beef braised in wine, vegetables, garlic, and herbes de Provence.  Talk about comfort food; pair that stew with a nice red wine & I'll be quite ready for a long hibernation.

Since one of my favorite things in life is coming up with names for blog posts (well, the naming is a lot easier than the writing bit, surprise surprise), I'm going to try to share a bit of what's going on at our home (chez nous that is) & what people are talking about in France with The Petit Beat each Friday. There'll be links of course...and petit & beat rhyme, so I think it's sure to be a hit.

1. Making Ratatouille
I was excited this week to make another well-known Provençal favorite: Ratatouille. Call it a little bit of an Au revoir to summer, as this vegetable stew is traditionally made when the temperatures climb in the summer & light, fresh vegetables start to replace heavy, meatier dishes.

[Ratatouille rice salad]

I don't know if this is true of most cooks, but I have stacks & stacks of French recipe magazines that I love to drool over and usually get around to only making about 1/4 of the recipes. I'm starting to work my way through some of my favorite (I've been staring at their glossy photos for months) & Salade de Riz (rice) en Ratatouille was an easy choice for this week as I couldn't pass up the vibrant eggplants, zucchinis, and red & yellow peppers from the market. Here's a recipe for making a traditional ratatouillevia Epicurious.


[For a garden re-deco, Arabian violets]
2. Garden Talk
The other marvelous thing about a fresh rain is the chance for regrowth.  I'm as happy as the next gal about our long, hot summers in the South, but my flowers didn't fair as well under the strong sunlight.  There are still a few beauties hanging on, and we have our lone olive tree & summer Jasmine plant that seem to be the stars of the season, but I have to say that I love re-decorating in all its forms.


[Euphorbia & Arabian violets]

And if it's not quite time for the home, why not the garden? I've got some gardenias, Arabian violets, and a very lovely plant I've never heard of, euphorbia, but which has some striking pink flowers, that are about to make their fall garden debut. Here's a bit more about gardens in Provence: how to visit public gardens & Garden Guide's famous flowers of Provence.


3. Vin Biologique
Organic, biologique (in French), or simply Bio (as you'll find it labeled at the markets) is all the rage in France; much like in the United States. What I've noticed lately is that everyone seems to be talking about organic wine.  Given that this is the period of the vendange, or grape harvest, wine-making is on everyone's lips (literally) and there's been a lot of attention given to producers making organic wines in the media this week.  Whether a passing fad or a lasting trend in the industry, here's a helpful site (in French & English) which gives more information about vin biologique & its many benefits (and there's a cool video too): Vin Bio. Also, there's an interesting online magazine covering all organic wine, not just from France: Organic Wine Journal.

That's all the petit news that's fit to web-publish, bon weekend a tous!

[bio wine image credit: www.foie-gras-sarlet.com]

8 comments:

  1. I'm so with you, Tuula!! I drool over French recipes and rarely ever make them. I hope to rectify that this fall. :-) Your Ratatouille Rice Salad is the best version I've seen yet. :-)

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  2. Ratatouille, red wine, fuzzy slippers, and a dvd... perfect Fall evening.
    (it's stopped raining here, but still dull and grey, I've got my fuzzy slippers on, my red wine, I'm watching Brothers & Sisters box set, the only thing I'm missing is the Ratatouille... spaghetti carbonara is just going to have to do for tonight!)
    Bon weekend!

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  3. Glad the Ratatouille was a hit ladies!
    Krista, you've always got so many great food ideas, I imagine you have lots of luck with French recipes as well.
    Sara, think spaghetti carbonara (yum) is quite a good substitute...plus nothing like a good round of American tv to get cozy with on a Fri night, enjoy!

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  4. Is the Salade de Riz en Ratatouille a different recipe???or just the basic ratatouille avec de riz?? Couldn't quite tell here! It looks great and I want it!
    I have so many different recipes for ratatouille, I end up combining a little from each..and love it.

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  5. Hi Libby, the Salade de Riz en Ratatouille is from the Vie Pratique Gourmand magazine...my French translation skills aren't fantastic yet (usually my bf is on stand-by to translate when things get fuzzy :) but the recipe is really easy to make.

    1. Make the ratatouille as you normally would; except cube all of the veggies instead of cutting them in strips.

    2. Prepare a batch of white rice & set aside. Sauté the vegetables for 5 minutes and then add them to the rice.

    3. For the "dressing", add the juice of 1 lemon to 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil; salt & pepper to taste.

    Toss it all together and violà :)

    If you feel comfortable with French, check out the Vie Pratique magazine; I love the recipes! It's sold at major supermarkets, and also you can order past editions: http://www.viepratique.fr/

    Hope you like the salad, it is a really fresh way to enjoy ratatouille! xx

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  6. I am intrigued by the vin bio - something I would love to try. Makes me wonder if the grandes marques would take up production.

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  7. Corinne, just got back from the supermarket with a bottle of organic Cremant, really excited to try it out..also there's another feature about "bio" wine in this month's Vie Pratique. Maybe we are seeing a growing trend...

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  8. Tuula: Thanks for the recipe, and I'll check out the French recipe and see how far I get!

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