Years ago, a dear French cousin uprooted her young adult life in Lyon to come stateside to look after my newborn. The celebration of Elise’ first birthday in NYC is a particularly fond memory. The birthday wish was simple…..Lebanese food. Coming from Lyon – widely considered the cradle of haute cuisine along the Rhone river in France – her request puzzled me at first. I would have bet money a fancy dinner anywhere on the UES in the 60s (French restaurant central) would suit. So aiming to please, the entire family – baby and all – headed out to Byblos NYC for amazing mezze, kebabs, baba ghannouj, taboule and za’atar pies. This is the evening that I fell in love with fattoush salad and sumac. This bright, crunchy, lemony salad with a tangy sumac cumin vinaigrette dotted with crisp pita bites just sings. The purple-ish, red sumac is a zingy Middle Eastern spice full of flavor and sooooo worth trying. Everytime I want to re-experience this joyful event – how we noshed on mezze after mezze plate and sang along with the piano man to every single song – I whip up this version of fattoush salad and transport myself back in time. Happy Birthday Elise!
Recipe for Lebanese Fattoush Salad
1 head of romaine lettuce, chopped
2-3 large tomatoes, chopped
1 cucumber, peeled and chopped
8 radishes, halved
4 pitas, toasted and broken into pieces
2 Tbsp parsley, chopped
2 Tbsp mint, chopped
Sumac Cumin Vinaigrette
6 Tbps Olive Oil
2 tsp sumac
1 tsp cumin
1/2 cup lemon juice
zest of one lemon
1 clove of garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
Combine all salad ingredients and toss with vinaigrette. Garnish with extra sumac.
During summertime in the South of France, nothing beats this Provencal classic “tuna salade nicoise” sandwich. Pan Bagnat – meaning “bathed bread” – is a thick, round local bread stuffed with quality tuna, bright vegetables, anchovies, Nicoise olives, hard boiled eggs and drenched in a tangy vinaigrette. Whether in Nice, Cannes, Juan Les Pins or Theoule, up and down the Cote d’Azur happy seaside vendors sell these delectable stuffed bundles of goodness. The locals all make them at home too – perfect for an Alpes Maritime or local beach picnic. The trick is to make the sandwiches ahead of time , wrap them tightly in plastic wrap, chill overnight or a few hours and place something heavy on top (such as a bottle of wine while in your picnic tote). This technique allows the vinaigrette and fresh ingredients to meld together beautifully.
Recipe for Pan Bagnat (provencal Tuna Sandwich)
2 – 5 oz cans of Italian oil packed tuna, drained
2 crusty kaiser rolls, ciabbata or French baguette
2 hard boiled eggs, sliced
4 Thick tomato slices
4 Green leafy lettuce leaves
10 haricot vertes, cooked
Anchovies or tapenade spread
12 Nicoise olives
1 shallot, minced
4 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
1 TBSP S&T Elegant Salad Blend
1 TBSP apple cider vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
Combine shallots, vinegar, Dijon mustard, S&T Blend, together to make vinaigrette. Add olive oil by wisking to incorporate. Salt and pepper to taste. Generously spread 1 TBSP vinaigrette on each half of bread. Layer tuna, vegetables, hard boiled eggs, olives and anchovies or tapenade. Wrap sandwiches tightly in plastic wrap and chill, topped with something heavy. Makes two sandwiches.
Busy weeknights during the holiday season require meals with simple prep and only a few fresh ingredients. Here is a great grilled tuna steak recipe for your repertoire. S&T’s orange pepper and ginger sugar elevate this dish to something that feels fancy….in literally no time at all
Recipe for Grilled Orange Pepper Tuna and Caramelized Ginger Baby Bok Choy
2 large yellow fin tuna steaks 1 tbsp S&T orange pepper, cracked 2 tbsp olive oil 1 tsp fleur de sel 4 baby Bok Choy, halved 1 1/2 tbsp butter 1 tsp grated fresh Ginger 2 tsp S&T ginger sugar
Heat stovetop grill pan to searing hot.
Wash and dry tuna steaks. Generously pepper and salt both sides of the fish. Drizzle with olive oil. Sear tuna steaks on grill pan 3-5 minutes per side depending on thickness and desired doneness.
Blanche halved Bok Choy in deep dish sauté pan filled with boiling water for 3 minutes. Drain and remove.
Melt butter over low flame. Add sugar and Bok Choy cut side down. Add grated fresh ginger. Caramelize until tender and browned on bottom approximately 3 minutes. Serves 4. Serve with rice and charred scallions.
Classic shrimp cocktail is a perennial holiday favorite. Its presence on the menu typically signals that it’s a special celebration. Every year I like to create a new twist on this favorite appetizer. The shrimp are roasted and the dipping sauce mimics a sweet and flavorful tartar sauce. Serving it in a martini glass with a scallion straw is a fun surprise. It takes 10 minutes to make….which is the best part of all.
Recipe for Shrimp Martini S&T Style
1 pound 21-25 count shrimp, peeled and deveined (tail on) Olive oil Salt and pepper 2 tsp Herbes de Provence
Dipping Sauce: 6 oz Greek yogurt 2 tbsp mayonnaise 1 tbsp S&T special fish blend (minus star anise chunks) 2 tsp pure maple syrup good squeeze of lemon for tang Scallion pieces
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place shrimp on baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and Herbes de Provence. Roast 6 minutes until shrimp are pink.
For sauce, combine all ingredients. Serves 6 (appetizer portions)
Years ago, the S&T owners introduced me totartiflette: the gorgeous potato, bacon, onion andreblochon cheese comfort food. It was made famous in the ski resorts of the French Alps. This distinctly pungent Savoie cheese melts beautifully and has a flavor that is hard to replicate. Although I love this mountain dish, it is a hearty one. So, thanks to a family member’s recent journey to Isola in southeast France (Alpes -Maritime), this recipe has an elegant little package presentation. By layering the ingredients, adding crispy textured bacon and topping with sugared/vinegar leeks this delightful version sings. Serve it as an appetizer or as a main course with a simple green salad.
Recipe for Tartiflette Mignon
4 Yukon gold potatoes, sliced in thick rounds 1/3 cup white wine
2 tbsp butter
bouquet garni (or mesh ball of 1 tbsp Herbes de Provence)
1 glove of garlic,
smashed 4-5 slices of bacon
1 onion, finely chopped
1/2 wheel of Reblochon cheese
1 cup apple cider vinegar
2 TBSP honey
4 tbsp S&T Bergamot or Lemon sugar
2 leeks, trimmed, well cleaned and split in half lengthwise Salt and pepper Parsley leaf (garnish)
Place potato slices and garlic in a saucepan.Add white wine plus enough water or chicken stock to cover. Add butter and herbs. Cover and cook 20-30 minutes until cooked but still firm. In another saucepan, add vinegar, sugar and honey. Bring to a boil. Add leeks and simmer 10 minutes then take off heat, set aside and cool completely. Add chopped onions plus 2 1/2 slices of bacon chopped in a pan with a little water. Braise until cooked (about 10 mins). Crisp 2 1/2 full bacon slices in a fry pan. Assemble potato slices in an oven-proof dish. Add a large spoonful of onion/bacon braise on top of each potato and add a slice of reblochon cheese. Place in 350 degree oven until cheese just starts to melt. Garnish each with crisp bacon slice, slivers of sugared leeks and a parsley leaf. (*Cook’s note: if you have trouble findingreblochon, in a pinch one could use brie, muenster or another creamy Savoie mountain cheese).