I've never really been exposed to French food growing up. I assumed it was fancy-schmancy and too difficult to make at home. When a French restaurant opened in Chennai, I loved the food, but they did have Asian Vegetables; Coconut Curry; Basmati Rice on their menu, which led me to believe it couldn't possibly be authentic. And then I visited Paris and I loved it. I wanted to make some of the food at home. And share it with you.
I'm going to do just 3 dishes - an appetizer, entree and dessert (all vegetarian), just to see that it is indeed do-able at home and it's amazing. Let me start with the appetizer spread (look for the entree and dessert in upcoming posts).
For those vegetarians out there, this is a lovely faux-caviar-type spread.
Most cafes in Paris have this on their menu, with varied tastes, of course. Each has their "signature" ingredients. Some add onions and tomatoes, others use olives, and some red pepper. But the basic connecting thread is that its delicious!
If you're Indian, you might say this is like Baingan Bharta, since the eggplants are roasted, mashed and then combined with spices. But it doesn't taste anything like Bharta. And its served cold, on hot toast.
1 large Eggplant
1 Onion, minced
1 Red Pepper, diced fine
1 Tomato, blanched, skinned and seeded
1 tbsp Lemon Juice
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 tbsp fresh or dried basil
Heat a little olive oil in a saute pan. Add the onion, red pepper and garlic and saute until onion is soft but not browned, about 6-7 minutes.
Meanwhile, roast the eggplant. I put the entire eggplant on a pan on medium heat and kept turning it until the skin was charred and papery-crisp all over. Remove from heat, let cool. Chop off the green cap, remove the skin and chop the insides into tiny bits.
Mix the eggplant with the onion mixture. Add the lemon juice, tomato, basil, salt and pepper to taste. Cover and chill in the refrigerator. Let the caviar rest outside for atleast 20 minutes before serving.
Serve on slices of toasted baguettes.
This is off to dear DK at Culinary Bazaar for AWED: France.