Champagne, always champagne. Make mine Veuve-Clicquot.– Patricia Wells
A couple of years ago, we discovered to our surprise that we love to sip on whatever aperitif we have and read a book aloud in the half hour or so before dinner is served. In the summer time, we sit on the porch or in the backyard. In the wintertime, we usually sit in the kitchen where it’s warm. The books we choose are generally about travel or food. They are never fiction – we tried fiction once and I suddenly found to my horror that I was using a cute singsongy voice for any dialogue. Yuk. That book was quickly relegated to the “read alone silently” shelf.
We currently have two books going: Somewhere Over The Rainbow: travels in South Africa by Gavin Bell and The Paris Cookbook by Patricia Wells. The cookbook is from the public library but I think we absolutely have to get our own copy. So far there hasn’t been one recipe that has not appealed to us. And we love the short evocative paragraphs about living in Paris that are placed before each recipe.
Last night as we were watching the pizza bake, I had reached “Le Bistrot Mazarin’s spinach, bacon, avocado, and tomato salad” in the salad section of The Paris Cookbook . And we remembered how wonderful our spinach salad with warm vinaigrette had been on New Year’s Eve. And that got us thinking. The tomato sauce that T had just made for the pizza would make a GREAT base for a salad dressing. All that would have to be added was a tiny bit of cider vinegar.
The sauce really was good. He had sliced a typically not very ripe beefsteak tomato and sauteed the slices in olive oil along with a few chili flakes, dried oregano, salt and pepper. (I won’t remind anyone which wooden utensil was used to stir the sauce….) I can’t believe that we have been buying little cans of pizza sauce! No need. Sure, it might be a little more expensive to buy inferior tomatoes but the flavour from the inferior fresh tomato is still more intense and tomato-like than the flavour from the commercially prepared pizza sauce. And the commercial operations have really good tomatoes at their disposal – or so they say. Imagine what we could do with a vine ripened tomato plucked from the garden just minutes before making the sauce!
So, forget about putting fresh tomatoes into the bistrot Mazarin’s spinach salad! We’ll make the vinaigrette out of a sauce made from fresh tomatoes. Spinach looks pretty good these days at our vegetable store. And we know we can get really good bacon from our Polish butcher who smokes all his own meat. Is it time for salad yet??
Now if only we can be assured of getting a decent avocado at this time of year!
Whoever invented oven door windows should get a huge prize – there’s nothing more satisfying than looking in to watch the cheese just begin to bubble on the pizza.
And oh yes… the pizza was brilliant.